30 November 2020

The Cousins - Karen M. McManus




The Write Reads blog tour for The Cousins is going strong and today it is my turn! The book is released in 2 days on 3rd December so still just enough time to get your pre-orders in!


Book Summary

The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:

You know what you did.

They never hear from her again.

Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother's resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who's been such an enigma their entire lives.

This entire family is built on secrets, right? It's the Story legacy.

This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.



The three very different cousins have never met their grandmother Mildred and hardly even know each other, so they are very surprised to each receive a letter inviting them to work on Gull Cove Island, Mildred's exclusive resort. While Millie and Aubrey immediately bond, Jonah seems determined to stay moody and distant. None of the teens know why their parents are estranged from Mildred. Their only clue is the 'you know what you did' letter and the parents are not very forthcoming, all saying they are convinced they didn't do anything.


I liked Milly and Aubrey right away, and even Jonah grew on me, but I have to say their parents all seem terrible! It's hard to believe the kids turned out as well as they did. Only the three kids really get fleshed out in terms of their characters as they are the main protagonists. We do get a bit of Milly's mum as a young girl but I really would have liked to know more about the grandmother.


The book is gripping and full of interwoven mysteries. Each new twist or piece of information just adds to the complexity. The flashbacks to the past add another intriguing layer to the mystery, and I really wanted to find out how it would all fit in together. I had plenty of theories but I don't think I could ever have guessed the final outcome!


I made a Milly Martini - muddle a few basil leaves in a shaker and then add a shot and a half of gin, the same again of pineapple juice, a dash of sugar syrup and a few drops of orange bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.






8 November 2020

 Mix & Match 8


Start with making yourself a G&T, get out your favourite gin and pour a generous measure. Top with tonic then garnish to suit your mood.  You can try grapefruit, rosemary or be more adventurous with strawberry and black pepper.  You could even just stick with a classic slice of lime. I've gone for some juniper berries to bring out the flavour of the gin. Once you've decided what you're drinking choose a book to go with it!



Monsters in the Mirror - A.J. Hartley

Darwen has just moved to Atlanta to live with  his aunt and feels completely out of place. When a strange, bat-like creature catches his eye in a shopping mall, he is led to the mysterious and wonderful Mr Octavius Peregrine's Reflectory Emporium where he discovers there are other worlds behind the mirror.

The gorgeous holographic cover and the contents pages immediately hint at a very magical book. The book is full of so many weird creatures, like Scrobblers, terrifying apelike giants on top of huge motorbikes, and Gnashers, monsters with no head but a horrible mouth in their chest and lots of shark-like teeth. Of course there are also lovely creatures like Moth, who befriends Darwen. I also loved that there was a magical shop with a mysterious shopkeeper, this is one of my favourite elements in fantasy!

I absolutely devoured this book. I was a bit daunted by the size at first but it actually reads pretty fast. This is the first of a trilogy but thankfully there is no big cliffhanger to worry about.



The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides 

Alicia is found standing over the husband's body, covered in blood and holding a gun. From that moment she refuses to speak, not even to protest her own innocence, and everyone is convinced she's guilty. But Theo, a psychotherapist, believes there may be more to the story and is determined to get through to Alicia and cure her.

Fast paced and easy to read, this kept me reading all the way through and had a very clever twist which I didn't guess.




Venom - Bex Hogan

Marianne finally feels like she is making progress. She will marry prince Torin and the King has agreed that he will finally step down and let them rule after the wedding. Of course things never go to plan and when there's an attempt on Torin's life, she finds herself on the run again.

She decides her only option is to learn more about the magic that is supposed to be in her veins. Only as a mage will she truly be able to fight and save the islands and her people. But instead of finding help, she finds more people in need of her help. Marianne faces so many difficult decisions, none seem right and all lead to some kind of pain and heartbreak. The word sacrifice keeps coming up, following her around wherever she goes.

The ending of this book literally left me breathless! I don't know how I'm supposed to wait a year for Vulture.




Cursed Luck - Kelley Armstrong

As a curse weaver, Kennedy specialises in un-hexing magically cursed items, so when Aiden comes to her for help, she's understandable suspicious of his motives. The job gets bigger and more complicated as siblings are kidnapped and ever more powerful magical characters are involved.

This was an intriguing world of curse-breakers. I love that there were hints of Greek Mythology at the start which then grew to much more and brought in other mythologies too, all with quite a different take than usual. Kennedy is descended from Arae, mythological spirits of curse, Aidan may or may not be descended from Leprechauns! The way curses are described is wonderful. Kennedy sees them like golden threads weaved together for untangling, while others hear it like music or see it as a mathematical problem.

It also has what might just be my favourite line in a book, ever:

“Does he have a magical power?”

“He doesn’t need one.... He’s a librarian.”

I read a free version of the book which was posted in chapters online before editing so the final version may be a bit different.




Rumblestar - Abi Elphinstone 

Caspar never does anything unless its on his To Do list. There's no way he could ever be prepared for ending up in the magical kingdom of Rumblestar, but that's exactly what happens when he escapes from a bully by hiding in a grandfather clock. Another thing he doesn't do is have friends, which is absolutely fine by Utterley Thankless, the strange girl he meets, as she doesn't either. However, the evil Harpy Morg is hell-bent on destroying both their worlds and the two find themselves working together to save their homes.

I loved listening to this, the narrator was wonderful and gave the book a real storytelling quality. It's all so magical, with Drizzle Hags making rain marvels, places like Shiverbark Forest where snow marvels are conjured and Arlo the miniature dragon who I adored, he is the best character. The book had elements of Narnia and the Magic Faraway tree. I would love to read more about the Unmapped Kingdoms and will definitely be picking up more of Abi Elphinstone's books.




The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker - Lauren James

Harriet doesn't bother with all the signs saying Danger of Electrocution, or Unstable Structure. She knows this is the perfect place to take photos for her photography project and a bit of danger isn't going to stop her. She's bound to get a good grade with all the amazingly atmospheric photos she's taken. She has so many big plans for her life but unfortunately life has different ideas for her.

This was a bit of a difficult book for me to review. I enjoyed The Quiet at the End of the World and really loved The Loneliest Girl in the Universe so of course couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. 

As usual the author's writing is very good and I loved the way you get to know all the characters and their perspectives, as well as Harriet. This is good because as the book progresses I liked Harriet less and less, and I cared less about her too. Usually I don't enjoy a book that much if I'm not invested in the main character, but thanks to the writing and the other characters I kept with it.

There's an unidentified narrator throughout the book which adds a wonderful mysterious element. Are they orchestrating the whole thing or just watching? I had my suspicions of who this could be though you don't find out till nearer the end. There are lots more surprising twists too!



21 October 2020

Poisoned - Jennifer Donnelly



   

 

 

Welcome to my stop on the Poisoned Blog Tour run by Kaleidoscopic Tours, I am so excited to be part of it. The book was released just yesterday so it’s available for you to buy right now!

 

Book Summary

 

Beautiful Sophie, with lips as red as blood, skin as pale as snow, and hair as dark as night, is about to come of age and inherit her father's throne. But Sophie's stepmother wants rid of her - beautiful she may be, but too weak and foolish to reign. And Sophie believes her, as she believes all the things that have been said about her - all the poisonous words people use to keep girls like her from becoming too powerful, too strong.

 

When the huntsman carries out his orders of killing Sophie, she finds a fire burning inside her that will not be extinguished, and sets off to reclaim what was taken from her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prologue was thrilling and really captured me, I couldn't wait to read more. Who is this mystery villain the huntsman is describing? As much as the Stepmother seems evil, I could almost understand why she had to become the hard woman she is. She knew she wouldn’t have survived in her world otherwise. As to her relationship with Sophie, she actually seems to believe it is necessary to toughen her up in order for her to cope when she becomes queen.

 

I really enjoyed Stepsister so I was very excited to find that Jennifer Donnelly had written a second retelling. However, as much as I wanted to love this book, I just didn’t enjoy the story as much as the first. Some parts, particularly the romance, were fairly predictable and it started to get a little ridiculous how many times the princess could be tricked and killed! I did really enjoy the occasional points of view of the Queen and other characters which gave intriguing insights into these others’ motivations. The moral of the story comes across a little saccharine, but ultimately it is uplifting.

 

 

Snow White Daiquiri

Shake the following with ice, then strain back into the shaker and shake again without ice (dry shake): 2 shots rum, ¼ sugar syrup, ½ shot each of pineapple juice, lime juice and egg white.

 

 

Make sure to check out all the other wonderful blogs on the tour too:

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 October 2020

The 20 Questions Book Tag


I just had to steal this great book tag idea from The Confessions Of A Music And Book Addict as it looked like so much fun!


1. How many books are too many books in a series?

For a beloved series, there are never enough, but when I'm feeling meh about a book it annoys me if it will take too long to get to the finale. I think the longest one I've read is the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong and I enjoyed every page of it 💖




2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

A great way to keep people reading but I wish they didn't apply to me!


3. Hardback or Paperback?

Paperback always, so much easier to read. But I like a beautiful hardback if I'm buying something I've already read and loved, just to have it on my bookshelf.


4. Favourite Book?

I have so many but there are three in particular that always stick in my mind. Flawed by Cecilia Ahern, Gilded Cage by Vic James and After the Fire by Will Hill. I just can't recommend these enough!!!




5. Least favourite book?

I don't really know... actually I do. A Tale of Two Cities was probably the most boring book I have ever read. I had to force myself to read a couple of pages a day just to get through it. I think that's the last time I will ever force myself to read something I enjoy so little.


6. Love triangles, yes or no?

Please NO!


7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

I have very few of these as I really don't like leaving a book unfinished but I did have to learn eventually (see Q5). Look Up sounded like it would be really interesting as I love astronomy but I just couldn't get through the whole thing.


8. A book you’re currently reading?

Unusually for me I'm actually reading multiple books but my main one right now is Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly.




9. Last book you recommended to someone?

The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman and The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar. Both to my sister on the same day and she still has them so I can't take a photo 😞


10. Oldest book you’ve read?

No idea, probably A Tale of Two Cities but there might have been older books I read when I was younger that I've forgotten.


11. Newest book you’ve read?

Escape From Aurora by Jamie Littler just came out on October 1st!




12. Favourite author?

I CAN'T CHOOSE, DON'T MAKE ME!!!


13. Buying books or borrowing books?

Both! I love books so much I even buy copies of ebooks I've had for free if I really enjoyed them. And borrowing is good too as I can't possibly buy all the books I want. I adore visiting libraries.


14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?

I think there are quite a few though none come to mind right now.


15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

Bookmarks, please!




16. A book you can always reread?

All the Harry Potter series, though I don't really have much time for re-reads any more.


17. Can you read while listening to music?

Depends on the music and volume. If it's quiet I can, as long as I don't forget my book and just end up singing along.


18. One POV or multiple POVs?

I never really thought about this before but I do like to get more than one person's view of things. It can be a lot more illuminating, but also confusing if there are too many or it's not done really well.


19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

I would love to have time to finish a book in a day but it only ever happens on days off with an extremely short book.


20. Who do you tag?

@ReadtoRamble

@theartsyreader

@lilikmarcus

@_tirilu

@AmysBookishLife



21 September 2020

 Middle Grade Marvels Book Club




As you probably know from some of my previous posts, I'm part of the Middle Grade Marvels book club. It's hosted by @HollyRawlins2, @theartsyreader1 and @ReadtoRamble and anyone is welcome to join. It's been going for a few months and while I had already read and reviewed some of the books chosen so far, I thought I'd share the reviews of just some of the newer (to me) books we've been reading. If you're interested, have a look at @GradeMarvels for more details, we'd love to have you!




The Jumbies - Tracey Baptiste

Corinne is very protective of her father and her Caribbean home and she's not afraid of anything. She's always believed her father when he said the Jumbies were just made up to scare children but when the myth comes to life she and her friends are the only ones who can save the island.

This is a very creepy book so take notice of the warning given, you don't want to read this at night! Although, maybe the monsters aren't always who you think they are and maybe sometimes everyone is just trying to survive.

I'm already on the lookout for books 2 and 3 of the trilogy.


Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows - J.M. Bergen

Thomas has been searching for magic ever since his Dad told him it was real, just before he disappeared forever. Most people have laughed at him but when he comes across a mysterious old bookshop he is finally in luck. The owner not only has just what he's been looking for, but he's been waiting for Thomas for a long time.

I liked the sound of the magical bookshop, especially when the sliding bookshelf ladder was mentioned! And the connection between physics and magic was great. It was a bit slow at first, particularly the chapters of the magic book which I found quite tedious and difficult to read. However it got more interesting after that and there were twists I didn't expect.


I have to say that my favourite so far has been Small Spaces, I easily could have read it in one day if I didn't stop myself and try to keep to the schedule. I had to read the sequel too and I'm very happy that there are more books to come!


Small Spaces - Katherine Arden

Ollie is sneaking away for a bit of quiet reading time at her favourite secret spot by the river, dreaming of the adventures in books and wishing she could have some of her own. But when she gets there she finds a woman crying and preparing to throw a book into the water. There's no way Ollie is going to allow that to happen so she grabs the book and escapes with it. Reading the book sparks off an adventure of her own with 2 unexpected new friends. They have to deal with creepy scarecrows, ghosts and the mysterious smiling man. The only warning Ollie keeps hearing is to keep to small spaces. She doesn't really understand it at first but when they get chased she realises the only way to stay safe is find somewhere small their pursuers can't follow.

This book was just so creepy! I actually didn't want to read it at night. Ollie is a great character, super-smart and very caring though she tries not to show it. I just love her cynicism. Even though we only get short sections of the stolen book, the story is written so well and I really enjoyed that story within a story. I almost immediately went on to the second book, Dead Voices and it was gripping as the first.


We're currently in the middle of Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. I'm really enjoying it and it is giving us plenty to talk about! It's part of an 8 book series (that I know of so far) so I'm sure there will be lots more to find out even after finishing this book.




What do you think of our club? Let me know which middle-grade books you would choose to read and any recommendations you have!


While you're trying to decide which of these books to read next, make yourself a Marvel cocktail. Put the following into a shaker: 1 & 1/2 shots orange rum, 1/3 shot grenadine, 1/3 shot lemon juice. Shake with lots of ice and strain into a cocktail glass.