Monday, 10 December 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'Small Spaces' by Sarah Epstein (****)

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am excited to be sharing a review with you of a brilliant YA thriller I read recently, called Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. Small Spaces follows 17-year-old Natasha Carmody as she struggles to forget her troubled past, and move forward into a brighter future. A traumatic memory from her childhood occupies her mind, day and night: the day when six-year-old Mallory Fisher was abducted from a carnival. Tash saw who took her, but no one believed her. They still don't. Many years later, Tash has to wrestle with her own mind, and navigate around the murky dimension where imagination and reality combine.

I was kindly sent a copy of Small Spaces by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. 


As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

As soon as I saw the blurb for this book, I knew it was one I had to read. I love psychological thrillers, and in my experience YA ones are especially good. The premise of this book was unlike anything I had read before, and I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. Epstein's writing is gorgeously detailed and deliciously creepy, and I found myself hanging onto every single word. Tash was not necessarily a likeable character, but her frustrations at not being heard or believed seeped out of the story and she went through a remarkable character development by the end of the book. I think the relationship between Tash and her mum was really well explored and interesting to read about. All of the characters in fact were very well-crafted and they all fit into the narrative seamlessly.

I think that the plot really drove the story forward and there were twists and turns in exactly the right moments. I really liked the excerpts of conversation between Tash and her psychologist; they gave an interesting background to the situation and allowed us to clearly see Tash's state of mind. Epstein clearly has a talent for creating a wonderfully dark and mysterious atmosphere, and although things didn't end up how I expected, I absolutely loved how the story ended up. 

Altogether I adored Small Spaces and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good creepy psychological thriller, that will keep you second guessing right until the very last page!


Check out Sarah Epstein here: https://sarahepsteinbooks.com

Until next time :)

Thursday, 6 December 2018

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 'Watch This!' by Jane Godwin (****)

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am excited to be back with my children's book feature. I know I haven't written a post in a while but I am thrilled that today I am celebrating the publication of a fantastic children's picture book, called Watch This! Watch This! is a brilliantly bold and fun celebration of shapes, colour and movement, and is a great way to teach children both about shapes and movement. 

I was kindly sent a copy of Watch This! by Scribe publishing in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Can you make a circle with your arms?
Or a triangle with your fingers?
If we work together, we can make a rectangle, or even a pyramid.

We can make lots and lots of shapes — just watch this!
A bold and playful celebration of movement, energy, pattern, colour and shape!

Watch This! is a groundbreaking modern photographic picture book about children using their bodies to make sense of shapes in a playful way, from three highly-acclaimed creators.

Watch This! is a brilliant picture book that exudes joy from every page, with the bright colours and lively text making it a great book to read aloud to small children. The pages are big and sturdy enough that they can help turn the pages too! The photographs by Hilary Walker and visual art by Beci Orpin just add to the vivacity of the book. This book teaches children shapes in a way I have never seen before, and I can imagine that children will be much more interested in seeing other children create the shapes, rather than them being just two-dimensional objects on a page. Godwin cleverly combines learning shapes and advocating fitness, and this is done so skillfully in this book. The fact that the children are named at the beginning of the book means that you can introduce them all to your child, incorporating memory and reading skills. 

Altogether, Watch This! is a brilliantly inventive picturebook that is fun and colourful and can teach your child a lot. This book is recommended from 0-4 years, and makes the perfect book to read together. 


Check out Jane Godwin here: http://www.janegodwin.com.au

Until next time :)

Monday, 3 December 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | 'The Wolves of Winter' | 5 Minutes With... Tyrell Johnson

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am thrilled to be sharing with you a '5 Minutes With' post... I haven't done one of these in ages, so I'm chuffed that it is with none other than Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter! I read this book last week and absolutely loved it. If you want to read my review for the blogger blitz click here, but here's a summary so you can see what all the fuss is about yourself...

The Wolves of Winter is a dark, gritty and gorgeously written story about Lynn McBride and her family, who after the Asian flu hit America escaped to Yukon, where there is not much to see except snow. At least it's safe. That's what Lynn thought anyway, except now they're not the only ones there anymore. And soon everything in Lynn's world is torn apart, as she finds out the truth about her life before the Yukon.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive.

But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined. 

Today I am lucky enough to have Tyrell on my blog, to talk all things writing inspiration, dystopian novels, and writing female protagonists. 

What was the inspiration behind The Wolves of Winter?

Inspiration came from a couple different sources. I’ve always liked the post-apocalyptic genre, but also, I was a new dad at the time I started the novel and wanted to write a story with a strong female character. 

Tell us a bit more about the main character, Lynn. Do you have anything in common with her?

Absolutely. Honestly, writing different characters is a little like seeing different aspects of your own personality. There’s a lot of me in Lynn, and a lot of what I want to be. She’s independent, fierce, and adventurous. She’s also—though she wouldn’t admit it—emotional and vulnerable. Hopefully these two sides serve to make her a more rounded, believable character.

Do you normally come up with plot or characters first?

I think both things tend to happen at the same time. Or at the very least, it’s a back and forth. Sometimes, the original plot idea informs what types of characters will inhabit the novel; other times, the characters dictate what happens. The trick is, once in place, the plot can never dictate the character, but the character should dictate the plot. 

What made you want to write a dystopian novel?

I like the questions that post apocalyptic novels ask. If the world were to fall, what would civilization look like? Who would survive? How would they live? I like looking at these questions and putting my characters up not just against the ruined world around them, but each other.

What's so special about YA literature?

Really, all literature is special and important. My book sort of straddles the adult and YA market, which I like. Hopefully, the novel has a lot in it for a wide range of readers to enjoy. 

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Write what you’re excited about. Write the book you’d want to read. Don’t get bogged down with what came before. A lot of writing happens away from the computer, so get outside, it’s nice out there. 

Sum up The Wolves of Winter in three words


Shit gets cold. 

Thank you so much, Tyrell, for coming on my blog today!

Buy The Wolves of Winter here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wolves-Winter-Tyrell-Johnson/dp/0008210136/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543439933&sr=8-1&keywords=the+wolves+of+winter

Check out Tyrell Johnson here: https://www.tyrelljohnsonauthor.com


Until next time :)



Thursday, 29 November 2018

BLOGGER BLITZ | 'The Wolves of Winter' by Tyrell Johnson (*****)

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am super excited to be sharing with you a 5* book review, as part of a blogger's blitz to celebrate the publication of Tyrell Johnson's brilliant book The Wolves of Winter! I was so thrilled to get the chance to read this book and hopefully this review will inspire you to go grab a copy before the Christmas holiday! 

The Wolves of Winter is a dark, gritty and gorgeously written story about Lynn McBride and her family, who after the Asian flu hit America escaped to Yukon, where there is not much to see except snow. At least it's safe. That's what Lynn thought anyway, except now they're not the only ones there anymore. And soon everything in Lynn's world is torn apart, as she finds out the truth about her life before the Yukon.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive.


But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined. 

I adored this book from start to finish - it is hands down one of the most evocative and viscerally-descriptive books I have read. Right from the very first page I was hooked. The backdrop of intense cold and isolation was the perfect pairing to the story, and I hung onto every word. I was totally swept inside this world and, although I read it tucked into my warm bed with a hot chocolate, I could almost feel the cold, and see Lynn's world right before my eyes. 

It must be tough to create a world so isolated and barren, and make it interesting enough to shape a whole novel, but Johnson accomplished this with flawless mastery. I thought the characters were all brilliant and their dynamics so interesting to read about. I particularly loved Jax (cause obviously) and Wolf (cause even more obviously), and I thought Lynn and Jax's connection was so complex and spirited. Lynn is a brilliant protagonist and is fantastically written, freely talking about her desires and fears and wishes for how her life could be different. I was rooting for her the whole way through, and think she is a fantastic depiction of an unapologetically strong female character. 

The Wolves of Winter furiously disregards previous apocalyptic YA tropes and embraces a narrative that is a lot darker, and dare I say more realistic than any story we have seen before. This novel is full of grit and blood and perhaps the rawest of human capabilities, but it is also quietly hopeful, and that is perhaps what is most special about this book. 

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the reviews as part of the blogger blitz!

Also, keep an eye out for my interview with Tyrell Johnson coming very soon... 


Check out Tyrell Johnson here: https://www.tyrelljohnsonauthor.com

Until next time :)



Friday, 26 October 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'Songs By Dead Girls' by Lesley Kelly (****)

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am so excited to be bringing you another book review, this time of Songs By Dead Girls by Lesley Kelly, a brilliant crime thriller that will keep you hooked right from the first page until the last.

Songs By Dead Girls is set in post-viral Edinburgh, a world that is charged with darkness and permeated with crime. But no job is too hard for the North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team, and their work often leads them to deal with the most unsavoury of people. But their latest case is way more complicated than they previously believed, and they suddenly find themselves in a volatile situation concerning a dangerous drug baron, a prostitute on the run and an academic whose life is in grave danger. But this is all part of the job, right?

I was kindly sent Songs By Dead Girls by Ruth Killick Publicity on behalf of Sandstone Press.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


'Bernard wrenched open the door and ran back out to Carole, horrified to see her face was pouring with blood.'

A deadly Virus. A missing academic with a head full of secrets that could embarrass the government. A prostitute on the run. And a music-loving drug baron who needs a favour.

All in a day’s work for the North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team.

Having not read the first book in the series, I wasn't sure if I would thoroughly enjoy this, having not had the background to this world the first book would provide me with. However, right from the first page I was completely swept into this world - a world where people live in constant fear and suspicion of the people around them. I haven't read a crime novel in absolutely ages and this one was a great place to start in terms of getting me back into the genre.

As with any good crime novel, I enjoyed the balance between mystery and humour - all of the characters bounced really well off each other and the dynamic between them all was brilliant. The characters were so divisive and realistic as to what I would expect them to be like, in a job like the HET. The sharp wit of the dialogue definitely pushed the book forward and make it altogether very enjoyable to read.

I think the book was structured really well and there were plenty of moments that had me impatiently turning over the next page to find out what had happened. There was a distinct sense of danger running throughout the book, that drove the plot forward and made me need to read the next book as soon as possible! Kelly's writing is very fresh and dynamic and she paints characters so brilliantly and realistically. 

Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed Songs By Dead Girls, and will definitely be checking out more of Kelly's writing! 

Check out my post for the Songs By Dead Girls blog tour, where Lesley Kelly appeared on my blog to talk about the Spanish flu outbreak back in 1918, and how it influenced the writing of this brilliant book.








Tuesday, 23 October 2018

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'I Have No Secrets' by Penny Joelson

Hey guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am so excited to be reviewing a fantastic book I read recently: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson. I was sent this book aaaagggeeesss ago but somehow it got misplaced with moving from a new uni house to back home to London, and then when I was sorting out books to bring to Oxford with me, I discovered it and had the realisation why haven't I read this before? This sounds brilliant!

I featured Penny Joelson on my blog a while ago, with a brilliant guest post where me and Penny shared secrets about our childhood and early writing! Check that post out here

I Have No Secrets follows fourteen-year-old Jemma, who lives with her foster parents and foster siblings Finn and Olivia. Jemma has cerebal palsy, but she doesn't let that hold her back from enjoying everyday things; she loves watching quiz shows, reading books and listening to her favourite band, Glowlight. Then a boy Jemma used to know is murdered. And Jemma finds out who did it. But how can she make sure justice is done when she has no voice?

I was kindly sent I Have No Secrets by Nina Douglas on behalf of Electric Monkey in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change... 

This book was unlike any that I've read before. I have never read a book when the protagonist has no voice, but has so much to say. It was so interesting to hear Jemma's thought process and how she navigated life. I think her character was developed so well and I loved her relationship with Finn, her carer, Sarah, and also another character I can't mention for *spoiler reasons*. I think that Joelson gave Jemma so much agency, which I was so pleased about, and I think this book could go a long way towards changing people's perceptions about those who live with conditions such as cerebal palsy. 

When I first started reading I had no idea where the story was going to go, and it did feel a lot like being on a rollercoaster, with lots of twists and turns I was not expecting. As soon as I got halfway through the book I just could not put it down until the end, which did not disappoint. Joelson's writing is just so sharp and she is a fantastic storyteller. It's very rare to find a YA book that is just so equally strong in terms of plot, characters and the writing. If you're stuck in the middle of a reading slump, or need a book to keep you company these long autumn nights, then I Have No Secrets is definitely the book you need!


Check out Penny Joelson here: http://www.pennyjoelson.co.uk


Until next time :)


Thursday, 11 October 2018

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Mary And Frankenstein' by Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà


Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to be back with my children's books feature, after quite a long while! And what better book to start off with than the incredible Mary And Frankenstein by Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà. This is unlike any picture book I have seen before and I was so thrilled to receive it and see what it was like. Spoiler alert: it's bloody gorgeous.


I was kindly sent Mary And Frankenstein by Andersen Press in exchange for an honest review :)





Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


It began with a girl named Mary. She liked to daydream and imagine. And she grew up to write Frankenstein. The inspirational true story of the great writer Mary Shelley, brought to life for children in this stunning picture book by multi-award winning author Linda Bailey and with beautiful illustrations from Júlia Sardà. Mary loves stories, but the stories in her daydreams are far more thrilling than those in any book. 

After a troubled childhood, eighteen-year-old Mary runs away to Switzerland with the famous poet Percy Bysse Shelley, her step-sister in tow. One dark and stormy night at his house by the lake, they huddle around the fire, telling ghost stories. But Mary can imagine better than those! After learning about electricity that can make dead frogs twitch, she has a nightmare that triggers the birth of one of the greatest scary stories of all time: Frankenstein... A perfect read for the very youngest aspiring writers, and for fans of Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell’s The Sleeper and the Spindle.

Mary And Frankenstein is honestly the most perfect picture book in every way. It is interesting and informative, the illustrations are beautiful and evocative, and most importantly, it is a brilliant story. So whether you are reading this to a young child for a bedtime treat, or reading it to an older child to get them interested in Mary Shelley, this book is perfect for children of all ages. I have loved Frankenstein ever since I first read it four years ago, and it was wonderful to see Mary Shelley's life, which was troubled and tragic as much as it was brilliant and creative, depicted in this way.

Although a lot of Mary Shelley's life may seem unsuitable to be described to children, Bailey tells the story of Shelley's life in a gripping and wonderfully descriptive way, in a way that children will find both magical and compelling. Sardà's descriptions are suited perfectly to the writing and really bring the words to life. The illustrations in Mary And Frankenstein are probably my most favourite illustrations in a children's book EVER. They are so atmospheric and gorgeously Gothic, and tie the whole book together.

Overall, Mary And Frankenstein is one fantastic picture book, and I urge you all to go and grab it for these Autumn months! It is a brilliant story about one of the most interesting and talented authors who lived, who had an imagination that spanned galaxies and was a pioneer for the science fiction genre as we know it today. This book should inspire the young writers in your life that their imagination can take them wherever they want it to.


Check out Linda Bailey here: http://www.lindabaileybooks.com/books.html

Check out Júlia Sardà here: http://www.juliasarda.com

Until next time :)