Friday, 13 January 2017

Review for The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry by Jane Harper
Publisher: Little Brown
Release: 12th January 2017
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets."

In the small dried up country town of Kiewarra Australia, three gunshots are fired on another blisteringly hot day. Three lives are taken and the smoking barrel is found next to the corpse of Luke Hadler, the husband and father of the other two victims. All evidence points to Luke Hadler killing his family before turning the gun on himself.

When policeman Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for his childhood best friend Luke’s funeral he can’t help but get caught up in the case, but Kiewarra is a ghost town of bad memories for Aaron after him and his father were run out of town many years ago when Aaron was a suspect in the death of local teen girl Ellie Deacon.

Despite being hounded by the locals upon his return, Aaron is determined to find out what really happened to the Hadler family, because in a town as desperate as Kiewarra everyone has a motive to kill.

The Dry was such an accomplished crime debut, Jane Harper’s writing is so vivid that I could almost taste the dirt and feel the heat of the sun on my skin as I was reading. The setting was so clear and vivid to me that it made the reading experience feel cinematic. The farming town of Kiewarra practically becomes a character in itself, it’s a place where desperation hangs heavy in the air making you feel like anything could happen.

The plot is incredibly well crafted intertwining the build up to the death of Ellie Deacon all those years ago and the fall out of the Hadler murders in the present day with effortless ease. Every character in this book felt so well developed with their own agendas and secrets which made me suspect everyone at some point or another.

Overall The Dry was an atmospheric and compelling study on what people are capable of when they’re pushed to the brink.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Review for Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber 
Publisher: Walker Books
Release: 5th January 2017
Genre: UKYA, Contemporary, Diverse YA
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants."

Wing Jones was easily my most anticipated YA debut of 2017 so my expectations for this book were already sky high to begin with and yet I was still taken aback by how much I loved this book – it’s seriously that good.

The story follows Wing Jones, a biracial teenage girl with a huge heart and a loveable family. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, Wing doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere and is content to stand in her big brother Marcus’s shadow cheering him on from the sidelines as he wins game after game as the star quarterback.

When Marcus is involved in a drink driving accident that kills two people and leaves him in a coma, Wing has to deal with her brother’s fall from grace in their community, her family’s mounting medical bills, and the possibility that her big brother might not wake up.

To deal with her problems Wing takes up running and to her surprise finds that she’s good at it, better than good. Wing started running to escape but as word of her talent gets out she’s suddenly the one thrust under the spotlight.

When a life changing opportunity presents itself Wing has to decide: does she continue to run away from her problems? Or find the courage to run towards her dreams?

Wing is one of the most inspirational young heroines that I’ve ever read about. Her voice is incredibly well written balancing the right amount of uncertainty and quiet inner strength of a young woman coming into her own for the first time. Despite not being interested in running in the slightest I connected strongly with Wing’s passion and determination, I’m sure that her story will spark a fire in the heart of every reader who has ever took the lemons life has handed them and made lemonade.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was Wing’s family life. Every character in this book sparkles in their own special way but none more so than Wing’s grandmothers Granny Dee and LaoLao. Despite coming from two different backgrounds and cultures the two women are more alike than they realize sharing a love for food and their family. I really appreciated this subtle and timely message from Katherine Webber on how we’re all more alike than different where it matters.

Wing Jones has sprinted on to the YA scene with a heroine whose heart leaps off the page touching the readers own. This debut novel about losing your way, finding your feet, and chasing your dreams is not to be missed!

Friday, 6 January 2017

5 Unmissable Books to Look Out For in 2017

Since October I have been working my way through the 2017 proofs that I've been sent and let me tell you, 2017 is looking great for books! Today I wanted to share with you five of the best 2017 releases I have read so far that you won't want to miss this year!

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
Publication Date: 26th January 2017
Synopsis: "Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules.

After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there - and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma's past and Jane's present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession."

Why It's Unmissable - I'm a huge fan of psychological thrillers and this is the freshest, slickest thriller I've read for some time. The story is told in alternate chapters between Jane the current tenant of One Folgate Street, and Emma the girl who lived there before. One Folgate Street seems to have a presence of its own with its cold, minimalist style and odd set of house rules enforced by the architect who designed the house. As Jane and Emma's chapters become more and more entwined you can't help but wonder what happened to Emma? And is Jane destined to follow in her footsteps?

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Publication Date: 5th January 2017
Synopsis: "With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants."

Why It's Unmissable - I have been anticipating Wing Jones for the longest time and it surpassed my already very high expectations. Wing Jones has sprinted on to the YA scene with a heroine whose heart leaps off the page touching the readers own. It's a book about losing your way, finding your feet and having the courage to chase your dreams. This is the kind of book that makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy whenever I think about it and I am already craving a re-read, it's that good.

This Is How It Always Is 
by Laurie Frankel
Publication Date: 9th February 2017
Synopsis: "Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time - and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl.

As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?"

Why It's Unmissable - This Is How It Always Is is such a special and important book following Claude, a little boy who wants to be a little girl. It's a book about family, acceptance and having the courage to show the world who you truly are. I loved Claude/Poppy, I loved his/her rambunctious, supportive family and I loved the messages about living in the middle, not conforming and being kind. A timely book for 2017 and a must read for all.

Everything but the Truth 
by Gillian McAllister 
Publication Date: 9th March 2017
Synopsis: "It all started with the email.

It came through to her boyfriend's iPad in the middle of the night. Rachel didn't even mean to look. She loves Jack, and she's pregnant with their child. She trusts him. But now she's seen it, she can't undo that moment, or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn't Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?"

Why It's Unmissable - We've all Googled a new boyfriend, but what if you found something sinister? Something that didn't add up. Something they can't explain away. Something that makes them a monster. What if you were pregnant with his child? This is the situation our heroine Rachel finds herself in. This book kept me guessing throughout, I constantly felt on uneven footing and was never sure what or who to believe. Everything but the Truth is a brilliant psychological thriller that makes you question everything you think you know about these characters and asks the impossible question: how well do we ever really know those we love?

The Upside of Unrequited 
by Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: 11th April 2017
Synopsis: "Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she's lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can't stomach the idea of rejection. So she's careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie's orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly's cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. 

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?"

Why It's Unmissable - I absolutely loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so when I received Becky's new novel The Upside of Unrequited I had to read it straight away and dare I say I loved this even more than Simon!? Once again Becky writes with her trademark warmth and humor this time following Molly Peskin-Suso an overweight teenager who has fallen in unrequited love one too many times. When her twin sister Cassie finds the girl of her dreams, Molly is left behind, that is until Cassie sets her up with her new girlfriend's super cute best friend Will. But this time Molly isn't content to tag along in her twin sister's shadow. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to carve her own path in life, even if it means letting Cassie go. I loved every single thing about this book and know that fans of Simon vs will not be disappointed in this new offering from Becky Albertalli!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A New Year, A New Way of Reading

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and a great New Year. I can hardly believe that it’s the 4th already and I’m so excited to begin another year of blogging. It’s that time of year where everyone is setting their Goodreads challenges and sharing their reading goals so today I wanted to talk a little bit about how I plan to read in 2017.

For the past seven years I have taken part in some reading challenge or another whether it was vowing to read a certain number of books by the end of the year, or to read more from a specific genre, for the last seven years I have pushed myself to meet targets and deadlines and whilst that was really fun and helpful to my reading a few years ago, I have since fallen out of love with the idea of reading challenges.

Over the last half of 2016 I found myself reading very differently to how I have been. I’d started stressing out about how many books I’d read and would feel pressure from myself to be reading a certain type of book to meet a challenge I set for myself and that suddenly made reading feel like a chore.

I noticed that last year if I wasn’t reading a book quickly enough or was falling behind with my goals I’d start to feel really anxious when I was reading and instead of focusing on the story I’d be paying more attention to the number of pages read and how many chapters of the book I had left. Something I’ve always loved to do began to feel really stressful and nobody was putting that pressure on me except myself.

So in 2017 I have decided to ditch reading challenges all together. Other than trying to stay on top of review books and reading books for blog tours I am going to have a free reading year to read as much or as little as I want. Reading challenges are a great way of keeping track of your reading, pushing yourself to read more and discovering new books but for me recently they’ve done me more harm than good.

Because of this new way I’ll be reading in 2017 I will no longer be doing a monthly round up of all of the books I have read each month and where I am on my reading challenge, but I will be replacing this feature with a more personal monthly favourites post highlighting not only the books I have loved but other personal favourites in my life too be them bookish events or bloggers that I have loved following. I hope you all understand and will enjoy the new changes. I will still be sharing everything I read on Goodreads and Instagram as I read it so you can follow me there if you’d like to.

Life is too short to be feeling anxious and stressed over a hobby and I’m looking forward to trying a new, more laid-back way of reading in 2017.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

My Top 16 Books of 2016

2016 may not have been the best of years but there is no denying that some fantastic books came out of it! Before I go on my annual blogging break over Christmas and New Year I wanted to share with you sixteen of the best books I read in 2016. Yesterday I completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 125 books so I certainly have plenty to choose from! I haven't chosen any 2017 proofs as I will have a separate post coming in the New Year all about the wonderful books I've had the pleasure of reading early. Before we get started, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for all of your incredible support this year and I hope that you have the most wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year. Right, shall we begin!? I'll be working my way down from number sixteen to my number one book of the year.


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware 
This gripping thriller had to make my top sixteen! It was one of the rare books where I didn't see the twist coming and everyone I have recommended it to this year has loved it just as much as I did. If you love atmospheric crime fiction that keeps you guessing this is the book to pick up!


Uprooted by Naomi Novik 
I know I'm very late to the party with this one but I am so glad that I finally picked it up this year! Uprooted is one of the most magical fantasy books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It's completely enchanting and I felt like a little girl again reading my favourite fairytale. 


Our Song by Dani Atkins 
I read this one way back in February and it has still stuck with me as one of the best books that I've read this year. This is a real weepy about two couples whose lives intertwine when tragedy strikes one winter's night and is perfect for fans of Me Before You. 


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo 
This is a book that I can see making so many people's best books lists for this year because it was just that good! Crooked Kingdom was a  brilliant ending to an explosive duology. Leigh is my Queen and I can't help but think that every other YA Fantasy book pales in comparison to this series.


13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough 
This is another book that I read way back at the start of the year and was one of the first books that I read in January yet it still stands out to me as one of the best. 13 Minutes is a masterfully crafted YA Thriller that is perfect for fans of Mean Girls and anyone who likes dark and twisted reads.


Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven 
This has been a bit of a marmite book this year but I absolutely adored it. It's a gorgeous story that made me cry for no particular reason other than Jennifer Niven's writing is so beautiful. It's such a heartfelt contemporary about finding the courage to be seen for who you really are. 


Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane 
This book for me is the best women's fiction novel of 2016. It's funny, slick, intelligent and features a heroine who I want so badly to be my best friend. If you haven't read Mhairi McFarlane yet you are seriously missing out. I love how real her heroines feel and how I can always relate to their stories.


What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne 
Obviously a Holly Bourne book had to feature somewhere on this list! This is the last book (sort of) in the Spinster Club trilogy and I loved everything about it. It has friendship, feminism, cheesy snacks and everything else you'd expect from this fab series. I am so sad to say goodbye to these characters *sobs* Holly, please write more! 


Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 
I'm not a massive reader of non-fiction but this book literally changed my life after I read it back in March and helped me to achieve things I never thought I would this past year. Shonda Rhimes is a powerhouse of a woman and has some fantastic advice to give in this book about living creatively, being happy and finding the courage to say yes to life's opportunities.


Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield 
This is hands down the biggest YA weepy of the year! Paper Butterflies is another book that I can see making a lot of people's top books lists because I don't know a single person who has read this book and not loved it. It's one of those books that leaves you physically feeling like your heart has been broken but is so very important to read. 


Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur 
 If you'd have told me that a collection of poetry would make it into my top books of 2016 back at the start of the year I would have laughed in your face. Prior to reading Milk and Honey I hadn't read poetry since I was at school but something drew me to this book and I'm so very glad that it did. This is another one of those life changing books that spoke to my soul. I feel like every woman who picks up Milk and Honey will find at least one poem that will speak to her.  


Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall 
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an incredibly special and important book to me and is the best book I've read all year about mental health. I related to Norah's struggles with agoraphobia and anxiety so much. This book is unflinching, honest and quietly hopeful and is an absolute must read for anyone living with mental illness. 


The Girls by Emma Cline 
I picked up The Girls on a bit of a whim and am so, so glad that I did! I read this book over one hot summers day and was completely astounded by it. The Girls is a painfully honest study on the way girls interact with one another and our desire to please both society and men before ourselves. If you enjoy books about complex women this book is not to be missed! 


Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 
Coming in at number three is Beautiful Broken Things which will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody because I have been raving about this book all year. This is my favourite debut of 2016 and Sara has quickly become one of my favourite authors. Beautiful Broken Things delivered everything that I've been wanting to read in a YA book for the last few years and is a gorgeous story about the power of female friendships. 

The Deviants by C.J. Skuse 
C.J. Skuse is, in my opinion, one of the very best writers for teens out there. The voices of her characters are so authentic and she's been one of my must-read authors for many years now, yet despite knowing all of this, nothing could have prepared me for The Deviants. This book really shows what C.J is capable of with its clever twists, skilled plotting and heart-breaking finale. It's such an accomplished story that I know will stay with me for a long time to come. 


The Graces by Laure Eve 
The Graces is the most unique book that I read in 2016 and I loved how different it was to anything else I have read this year. This book blew my mind with its heady writing, intoxicating characters and dark undertones of power and obsession. Thrilling and atmospheric The Graces is so deserving of being my best book of 2016. 

So there you have it, my top 16 books of 2016! 
I'll be back in January ready for a brand new year of reading. 
Here's to another fabulous year of books!
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