Friday 28 July 2017

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

FreshersAnother laugh-out-loud dual narrative, Freshers is a YA novel following two protagonists through that tumultuous first year of university. Starring new characters – but featuring some familiar faces from Lobsters – Freshers is a contemporary, authentic story packed full of love, sex and friendship.

This is told in alternating chapters through freshers week and beyond, as Luke and Phoebe start university and tackle the sudden grown up responsibilities that come with it.

We should all know by now that we can go to Lucy and Tom's books when we need a funny and realistic love story, and their latest is no different. This time around the characters are older, in their late teens as they head off to university. This brought back hilarious and fond memories of my own uni life, as well as being glad it wasn't as bad as this!

Like I said, Lucy and Tom's books are always very funny and having characters venture off into the unknown by themselves, failing to navigate adult life, they got themselves in some almost cringe-worthy situations. I had to be careful where I was reading; I snorted with laughter in a quiet coach on the train, and had to leave the living room because I was distracting mum's TV watching.

Behind the fun and frivolous life of a fresher, there were real fears and issues tackled, such as mental health (especially relating to men's perceived masculinity), new relationships and leaving home for the first time. It was really well balanced between the mad/scary stuff and the randomly funny stuff. I will be recommending this to every teenager, as it shows a real-life depiction of how you don't have to grow up all at once, everyone messes up, and it's ok to talk to someone when you're feeling crappy. A brilliant and hilarious book with really important messages but also just shows how unexpectedly amazing and terrifying uni life can be.

Published 3rd August 2017 by Chicken House.

Tuesday 25 July 2017

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson

City of Saints & ThievesStreet-thief Tina breaks in to the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed.

Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past.

Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?

Tina and her mother escaped the gang wars in the Congo to live in Kenya, where they worked and lived at the Greyhills. Tina grew up with the Greyhill's son Michael and then her little sister came along, a product of Tina's mum's affair with the master of the household. But when she is found murdered, Tina is sure that Mr Greyhill did it, and spends years working her way up in a street gang until she is strong and talented enough to break in and find the evidence she needs. 

I don't think I've read a book set in Africa before and that made this thriller very interesting. Along with the metropolitan cityscape, there was a much darker underbelly, with gangs, racism, gun trade and large class gaps between rich and poor. 

When Tina breaks into Mr Greyhill's office, she is surprised by Michael and he convinces her to let him help and prove his father's innocence. Thus begins a very uneasy partnership, as they search badly written police reports, old photographs and newspaper clippings for anything about Tina's mum's old life and who might have wanted her dead. Their search takes them, and Tina's friend BoyBoy, a hacker expert, back to Tina's home town. 

This book was not at all what I expected and so much better. It was part crime thriller, part social commentary with lots of issues and discussions about race, civil unrest, the dangers for women in wartime (and out of wartime, while we're at it) and gang life. I honestly couldn't bear to put this book down, I desperately wanted to know the truth, for Tina and for Michael. A surprising new favourite that I've already recommended to my family, and a great story that shows the world a little differently.  

Published 6th July 2017 by OneWorld. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday 21 July 2017

The Crash by Lisa Drakeford

The Crash

Best friends Sophie and Tye are watching TV when a car crashes through the living room wall. The driver and passenger are twins, Harry and Gemma. Next door neighbour, eleven-year-old Issy, witnesses the accident. In the aftermath, Tye is thrown into a coma, Gemma’s dark past begins to haunt the present, and Sophie starts to fall for Harry – but how can she, when he was the driver who nearly killed her best friend? And Issy, meanwhile, hides a terrible secret... 

Having a car crash through your living room is sure to ruin any moment between best friends. One moment, it was fine and funny, if slightly awkward when Sophie kisses Tye, then the next, there's a car where the wall should be. Everything happens so suddenly, I could feel my ears ringing.

After that moment of truth, as it were, things are very different. Tye is in a coma, Sophie and her family is without a home, and Harry is in the hospital and facing a criminal charge for reckless driving. This was such a good story, having this one fatal event change so many lives so drastically. There are obvious ones, like Tye and Harry's injuries, and Sophie's home, but also Issy doesn't have her friendly neighbour there to help anymore; Sophie develops feelings for the boy who ruined her and Tye's lives; and Gemma is more determined than ever to escape her current life. 

Told between alternating chapters between characters, you see the aftermath of the crash and how everyone picks up the pieces. Gemma's chapters are in the past, in the couple of years before the crash, where you see a dangerous relationship brewing. And poor Issy, the 13 year old neighbour, is a victim of domestic abuse, along with her mother. With no kind neighbours to check on them and chat to, Issy and her mum fall deeper into the dark.

I adored this, it was incredibly dramatic but also real. Sure, it's not every day a car drives through a house but the problems that arrive after, and what the story mostly focuses on, such as new relationships, horrible home lives and family stress, were all, if not normal then at least very realistic. I flew through this, desperate to understand how the crash happened, for a happy ending for Issy, and for Sophie and Harry, and most of all for Tye. A great story that will leave you breathless and frantically checking the front windows!

Published 6th July 2017 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles #1)Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren't allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.

Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.

Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.

A story of friendship and survival, magic and wonder, beauty and terror, Maresi will grip you and hold you spellbound.

The Red Abbey is proud to be a refuge for girls and women the world over, offering sanctuary and an education to those who come to then leave and make the world a better place. Maresi has been there for years and now considers it home. She and the other girls learn about the world, how to farm and build, and read and write, and their belief system of the Mother goddess. 

It was such a quiet, almost quaint, setting for a fantasy world, and I loved it. Fantasies rarely bother with small-town sort of problems and just getting to know the abbey, known the world over but having no real part in it, was fascinating. 

As it was all women, no men allowed, it really felt like a feminist story; the girls were aware that men can be dangerous but weren't taught to fear them necessarily, just be wary of different cultures. 

Things at the Abbey changed when Jai comes and Maresi tells the story of her arrival and her transition to life in the Abbey. It was an interesting concept, as the story is told as if from memory. It meant that some details were so obviously huge but we got a very clear picture of life and then how that drastically changed when Jai's nightmare comes true.

I was really late to the party with this book but I'm glad I finally got round to it, as I really enjoyed it. The mix of magical fantasy and cruel realism was jarring and dramatic but it really was a story about friendship and girl power, and I loved that. 

Published 14th January 2016 by Puskin. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday 9 July 2017

Blog Tour: The Crash

The CrashToday we have a brilliant guest post from Lisa Drakeford, author of The Baby and The Crash. I adored both of her books, and they are so very different but gripping. Review of The Crash to come soon but right now, I'll hand it over to Lisa.

My Dream Movie Cast for The Crash

Ok, so I’m now the most powerful casting director in the world, because I can currently conjure up actors from any era. It’s a hard life, but somebody’s got to do it. I’m about to find actors who will play the five main characters in The Crash. Obviously they’re available!
Please mop my brow and feed me grapes as I make my decisions ...

Gemma: She’s snippy and prickly but gorgeous. She’s damaged and hard to love, but actually, strangely loving.
And the lucky actress is … Cara Delevingne from Paper Towns.

Tye: He’s strong, he’s funny and he’s a good best friend. He has a few secrets but he’s gradually dealing with them.
This time I’m going for Nathan Stewart Jarrett. He played the delightful Curtis in Misfits; perfect for the part.

Harry: Reliable but guilt ridden. Loyal and artistic. The best brother in the whole wide world and totally submersed in love.
A no-brainer here … Dylan Minnette, the actor who played Clay in Thirteen Reasons Why.

Sophie: A fab best friend but also riddled with guilt. She’s on a mission but gets somewhat distracted. Gets on with life despite some hard knocks.
I’m going for Katelyn Nacon who plays Enid in The Walking Dead. (Obviously she’ll have to change her accent.)

And finally, young Issy: The shyest, quietest member of the cast with the biggest, darkest secret. There’s a depth to Issy which nobody knows about. But eventually the truth has to come out and that’s when she finds her courage.
It’s obviously … Milly Bobby Brown – Eleven from Stranger Things, of course.

So, that was fun. Casting Direction could well be the dreamiest job ever. Is it too late to switch career?

Lisa Drakeford is the acclaimed author of The Baby, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. Her new novel, The Crash, is out now priced £7.99.

Friday 7 July 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiMeet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works even harder to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

As joyfully refreshing as Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, When Dimple Met Rishi is a frothy, funny contemporary romance told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists. While Dimple is fighting her family traditions, Rishi couldn't be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents - could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

The blogosphere practically blew up when this started making the rounds, everyone loved it and I'm happy to say I did too! Therefore this will be quite a short review as I'm sure you've already heard how amazing and cute and romantic it is.

Dimple and Rishi weren't supposed to meet, but their parents conspired and pushed them together. Rishi went to the same summer programme as Dimple just to meet her but she only wanted to learn. 

There was an overall great perspective of traditional Indian relationships. It was clear that Dimple identified as American but her parents desperately wanted her to be the perfect little Indian daughter. On the other hand, Rishi was more than happy to live up to his parents standards and was proud to carry on their ideals. 

The progress of their relationship, especially after they agree to not go along with the arranged marriage, felt natural and equal. Even though Rishi wanted to settle down and expected Dimple to move her life around his, when they got to know each other, they both realised that they wanted something different. Dimple might have been all about her coding and her career but when she started to care for Rishi, she was willing to give things a try and I was really proud of her. Of both of them, actually, as they changed their dreams when someone new came into their lives. 

As you can probably tell, I loved every second; it was so completely sweet I wanted to hug it! The story was brilliant, the romance was spot on and realistic and so easy to ship, and the characters, the diversity across races and sexualities and backgrounds, were all amazing to read about. One of my new favourite books, easy. 

Published 1st June 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Weekly Highlights: the 'July TBR' edition

Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things!

It's the summer! One of my jobs has finished for the summer holiday so I have lots more time off to (hopefully) read and actually do stuff! Well, when I can go outside without pollen attacking my face. 

P.S - I know I am a little late, I usually post these on a Sunday but this week I did a whoopsie and completely forgot! Better late then never, yeah?

On The Blog
Review of Remembrance by Meg Cabot
Review of The Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield
Review of Truth or Dare by Non Pratt
Review of Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Currently Reading
A Girls Guide to Summer by Sarah Mlynowski - I bought myself a physical copy for my collection, even though I had an e-proof so I did have to wait for that to arrive before I could crack on but it is very good so far!

On My Bookshelf
As you can see, I went a little bit mad when I went up to London with my friend Alyce; we found some great books in a couple of charity shops and then went to Non Pratt's event in Waterstones and bought Tom and Lucy's new book Freshers! I read it in two days, it was brilliant, as expected, but be warned about reading it in public - I laughed out loud in the quiet coach on a train and got some funny looks!

I also got this month: Hidden Among Us by Katy Moran (bought off Faye - thanks Faye!) and Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which I am beyond excited for.

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop (Lonely Hearts Bookshop #2)True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling
Verity Love – Jane Austen fangirl, manager of London’s first romance-only bookshop Happy Ever, and an introvert in a world of extroverts – is perfectly happy on her own (thank you very much), and quite happy hiding in the office and lying to her friends about her fictional boyfriend Peter, whose presence is very useful for getting her out of social events.

But when a case of mistaken identity forces her to introduce a perfect stranger as her boyfriend, Verity’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

Because ‘Peter’ is actually Johnny, and he too could use a fictional girlfriend. So against her better judgement and because she can't stand sitting on the sad singles table, Verity and Johnny decide to partner up for a summer season of weddings, big number birthdays and garden parties, culminating in her sister’s Big Fat Wedding.

And by the end of the summer, there’s a bad case of heartache that even Verity’s beloved Pride And Prejudice might not be able to cure…

I adored Annie's first book The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts and am really excited about getting back into this book lovers world. Thank you Harper and Netgalley!

A Change is Gonna Come by et al
A Change Is Gonna ComeFeaturing top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

I've just been approved for this so I am very excited! I don't really know what the stories are going to be about but with names like these, I'm looking forward to finding out! Thank you Stripes and Netgalley!

July TBR
I'm going to be slowly making my way through the new books I bought myself, but as usual my review books take priority as they are both coming out in August. Let me know what you're planning on reading this month and if you have any summer holiday plans!