Saturday, 29 July 2017

BLOG TOUR | 'The Pinocchio Brief' by Abi Silver | What Inspired me to Write?

Hi guys, and happy Saturday! Today I am really excited to be hosting a guest post today by none other than Abi Silver, the brilliant author of The Pinocchio Brief - a story following the investigation of the murder of a teacher, supposedly by his fifteen-year-old student.

Keep tuned next week for my review of The Pinocchio Brief

Here is the blurb to whet your appetite...

A 15-year-old schoolboy is accused of the brutal murder of one of his teachers.

His lawyers – the guarded veteran, Judith, and the energetic young solicitor, Constance – begin a desperate pursuit of the truth, revealing uncomfortable secrets about the teacher and the school.

But Judith has her own secrets which she risks exposing when it is announced that a new lie-detecting device, nicknamed Pinocchio, will be used during the trial. And is the accused, a troubled boy who loves challenges, trying to help them or not?

The Pinocchio Brief is a gripping courtroom thriller which confronts our assumptions about truth and our increasing reliance on technology.

And here is Abi Silver with her piece about what inspired her to write this brilliant book!

The Pinocchio Brief – how to make it (warning: it takes a long time and requires frequent revision and long periods of standing before the final version is ready for consumption)
Take a dash of Sherlock Holmes, try to get hold of the “The Red-headed League” brand if you can.  This provides the basis for our cocktail of the day with its subtle blend of fiery ginger and confused expectations.  Or if Conan Doyle is in short supply you could switch it for “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” – there’s a fair bit of flame-coloured hue in there too, together with a wonderful explanation of the “disentangling” virtues of the mind of a true analyst of crimes. 

Enhance with a tablespoon of Rumpole of the Bailey, I suggest the “Age of Miracles” variety, to add humour, some cutting remarks and astute commentary on the battle of the sexes in the fictional Chambers of old Soapy Sam Ballard.

Slosh in large quantities of sweeping courtroom dramas with fabulous character-acting and difficult moral dilemmas; either Inherit the Wind, all bushy eyebrows and lofty sermons on the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution, or you could easily substitute To Kill a Mockingbird, with its curious, reclusive hero and noble stand against racism in the Deep South (don’t include Scout’s ham suit – the flavour will be overpowering).

Augment with two female leads to bring out the flavour, one young and zesty, the other experience incarnate for the more mature palate- the Cagney & Lacey of our times (but homegrown, not the US strain).  Recite the words “That’s why people with experience are so invaluable, a fact people forget in our throwaway society” as you stir vigorously and then set the packaging aside for recycling.

For more intense flavour don’t make this drink at home; you need to be standing in a deserted class room, with Maths formulae on the board and the cheers from a lively sports match filtering in through the half open window.  Sort of Tom Brown’s Schooldays meets Good Will Hunting.

Sprinkle in a pinch of politics: not too much, perhaps the latest version of cost cutting of the criminal justice budget or a debate on the vagaries of juries.

Optional extra (particularly recommended for voyeurs) is the proposition that criminal court trials should be filmed live for TV viewing and “education” of the general public.

Pour carefully into your cocktail shaker and add the secret ingredient (no longer secret as I am telling you what it is); namely a New Scientist article on AI and lying.  This is the article which includes the explanation that tiny, facial movements, invisible to the naked eye, but filmed, collated and “judged” by computer, can indicate whether a person is telling the truth or telling a lie.  (Don’t mix it up with other equally interesting but different pieces, like the one on computers joining the dots of what happened at crime scenes or pinpointing petty crime on CCTV from people’s body language.  These other commentaries will keep, if refrigerated unopened, for another day.)  Agitate briefly but with dedication to the task.

The result – a zingy, flies off the shelves, formidable, multi-layered brew entitled “The Pinocchio Brief”.

I hope you guys have enjoyed this post!

Check out this video of Abi Silver talking about The Pinocchio Brief

Buy The Pinocchio Brief here:

Check out Abi Silver here:

Until next time :)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Release' by Patrick Ness

Hey guys, and happy Wednesday! Today I am really excited to share with you a review of a brilliant book I read about two weeks ago. This book has been one of my most eagerly anticipated books of this year, and I requested this as soon as it appeared in my inbox! Unfortunately I had to wait until I got back from uni to tear it out of it's packaging and dive right in... but it was as fabulous as I anticipated so definitely worth the wait!

I was kindly sent Release by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review <3

Release follows a day in the life of seventeen-year-old Adam Thorn, a day that becomes probably the most eventful and monumental day he has experienced in his life so far. It is a day coloured by misfortune, betrayal and heartache, but also a day where Adam realises the strength of the tie of friendship and how, even on the darkest of days, it can stop you from drowning when there is nothing else holding you up. 

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches...

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course. 

I didn't really know what to expect from this, as the only other Patrick Ness book I have read is More Than This, and I also had mixed feelings when I read Mrs. Dalloway, however this book completely and utterly blew me away. There is something thoroughly magical about Ness' writing. The book hooked me in from the very first page and I felt compelled to keep reading until the very last page. And it's not only the writing, but the storyline is also irresistible. The book as an entirety is not only an absolute joy to read but is urgent and almost demands to be read. Release is the perfect cocktail of an enjoyable story with fantastic characters, mixed in with important issues such as friendship, acceptance, religion and LGBTQ* issues, and the ways in which people are discriminated against. 

Adam Thorn's story was hard-hitting and beautifully and sensitively written, and also made me extremely angry. The furious plight of a teenage boy to be accepted, in a situation where he shouldn't have to be fighting for it, was hard to read, but it is also important to read about these situations as they are anything but fictitious. 

I loved the portrayal of the friendship between Adam and Angela. Not a lot of YA focuses on the absolute essentiality of teenage friendship, and Patrick Ness illustrated this friendship perfectly. Angela was shown to be the person who Adam could talk about absolutely anything with, without fear of judgement or indifference. Angela was such a fantastic character and I could read a whole book about her.

I know a lot of reviewers have been unimpressed with the magical realism side story, but I loved it. Of course, I think Release still would have made sense and been a great book without it, however it was a great way to add an otherworldly element into the story, and to also show another case of a toxic relationship, much like Adam's relationship with his parents, and his parents' toxic relationship with their religion. I really enjoyed this intermission between the chapters detailing Adam's story, and I'm very glad Ness chose to include it. I think magical realism very much suits his writing style.

Overall, I adored Release and it has made me want to go and pick up all of Ness' other books immediately! If you enjoy YA, LGBTQ* books, and Patrick Ness' other work I would highly recommend that you check this book out.

Check out Patrick Ness here:

Until next time :) 

Monday, 17 July 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Opposite of You' by Lou Morgan (***.5)

Hi guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be back with a book review, of a book I read about a month ago, but until now I just haven't had the time to sit down at my laptop and write the review!

Today the book I am going to be reviewing is The Opposite of You by Lou Morgan. The Opposite of You follows twins Naomi and Bex as they navigate their teenage years, with all the complications that being a twin throws up. When they were younger they were completely inseparable, however at the same time that they have grown up, they have also grown apart. When Naomi runs away from home, Bex is forced to confront the uncomfortable reality... when was the exact point that everything changed?

I was kindly sent The Opposite of You by Stripes Publishing in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Bex and her identical twin sister Naomi used to be close. They used to be able to finish each other’s sentences, used to know exactly what the other was thinking. They were a matching pair.

And then something changed.

But Bex didn’t even realise until it was too late. When Naomi walks out of the house the night before their last GCSE exam and doesn’t come back, Bex has to think hard about how to find her.

What happens next will force Bex to unpick their shared history and the memories, following Naomi’s trail through their family, their past and all the way to the blinding lights of the Hemisphere music festival. Everything she thought she knew is called into question.

With her worries dismissed by their parents and ignored by her friends (and with Naomi's friends nowhere to be found) the only person Bex can trust is a stranger – Josh – as she tries to piece together a picture of the person she thought she shared everything with. Naomi's been leading another life, one Bex doesn't recognize... and it's led her straight into the path of Max: someone else who is not what they appear.

As Bex chases Naomi, she realizes it isn’t just whether she can find her twin: it’s whether she knows her at all.

And whether she still wants to.

I haven't read a lot of books including twins before, and I was eager to get stuck into this as the story is something unlike anything I have read before. Morgan presented the bond between twins so well and this aspect of the book was excellently explored, as well as the kind of supernatural element, which was interesting and gave a sharp edge to the story. I thought that the different characters of Naomi and Bex were really well created; the dynamic between them was interesting to read about. In fact, the family relationships in this book as a whole were realistically portrayed and sensitively explored. I feel like any teenager would be able to relate to the way that Naomi and Bex feel, and be able to understand the kind of experiences they go through in the book. 

Another part of the book that I enjoyed were the flashbacks to the past when Bex and Naomi were children - I felt like these moments gave a very important backdrop to the current situation of Naomi running away. However, I wish there was more of a build-up at the beginning of the book, exploring in greater depth Bex and Naomi's relationship as teenagers, and also their relationship with their parents. I really liked the development of the plot throughout, however I thought that the beginning and the end of the book was slightly rushed. I would have liked to see how Bex and Naomi's relationship changed at all as a result of what occurred in the story, and this for me would have brought the story to a nice, satisfying close.

However overall, I really did enjoy The Opposite of You and it is definitely a book you can race through on your summer holidays! It is a gripping mystery with a fantastic set of characters and the importance of family relationships at it's heart.

Buy The Opposite of You here:

Check out Lou Morgan here:

Until next time :)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 5* REVIEW | 'St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies' by Karen McCombie

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am very excited to be back with my children's book feature, to celebrate the publication of another brilliant children's book! Today I am going to be reviewing the second book in Karen McCombie's wonderful St Grizzle's series: St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies! I was delighted to be part of the blog tour for this book, where Karen McCombie wrote a letter to her younger self <3 Check that post out here

If you want to check out my review for the first St Grizzle's book in the series, check that out here.

I was kindly sent St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies by Stripes Publishing, in exchange for an honest review :) 

St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies is a brilliant sequel to the first book, which follows Dani as she finds herself sent to St Grizzelda's school for girls as her Mum makes her trip to the Antarctic, to study penguin bottoms. Things have gotten a little bit exciting in the meantime, however, as Lulu has shared with her pupils a fantastic project - to make a film about their local area, to be shown as part of a screening. Film-maker pro Dani has some great ideas, but can she bring herself to let the others join in? And who's the witch in the tree house with the crazy red hair? 

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

When local schools are asked to make a film showcasing the surrounding area, Dani and the rest of St Grizzle’s set to work. But Spencer and his mates at the village school are determined to sabotage the work of the smelly Grizzlers.

To Dani’s surprise, help comes in the form of Granny Viv who has secretly taken up residence in the school’s tree house with Downboy the dog. Together they come up with the perfect ghostly video ... but will Granny Viv be able to stay once the competition’s over?

Although my review of the first book in the series was also a 5* review, I think that this one definitely tops the first one! It was so nice getting re-introduced to the characters, and I think that the characterisation of everyone was so well built-upon in this book. I loved Dani, Lulu and Granny Viv even more in this book - if that was even possible! I think all the characters in this book are so well-crafted and are individually all hilarious, heartwarming and wonderful. 

I think the story is also fantastically paced and the storyline brilliant and carefully plotted. There was something happening on every single page; McCombie hooks her readers in from the very first page and doesn't let them go until the very last. I loved the combination of worlds in this book (the inclusion of Downboy and Granny Viv) and I think this added such a great element into the story.

Overall, I can't see anything to dislike in this book - everything is wonderful and when I was reading it I felt such a happy warm glow in my stomach - the St Grizzle's series is charmingly hilarious and deliciously smart. 

I think this book suits kids of all ages to be honest - it can be read aloud for a bedtime story, or older children can read it for themselves!

Make sure you guys check out the links at the beginning of this review and down below <3

Buy St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies here:

Check out Karen McCombie here:

Until next time :)