where our team of writers love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.



Thursday, 26 April 2018

We Own The Sky | Luke Allnutt | Review

I have very mixed feelings about We Own The Sky*. On one hand the story was really meaningful and definitely kicked you in the feels a lot, but on the other hand, it also felt rather cheesy which kind of ruined the meaningful storyline.

Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London townhouse and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

Having gone through an experience similar to this book in recent years (minus the jet-setting off to Prague) I try not to pick up books that revolve around the cancer story. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that would be the case with this book as the blurb doesn’t really give much away. So sorry if that comes as spoilers to you but it’s hinted at in the first chapter and mentioned properly in the first few chapters of the book anyway and I couldn’t really form much of a review on it if I didn’t mention the fact.

Rob and Anna go through very different paths when it comes to dealing with wee Jack’s condition. I think it’s rather nice to see something true to real life rather than the whole ‘let’s make the most of it’ stories you tend to get in teenage cancer stories. Rob wants to do everything in his being to try cure Jack to the point where he’d happily remortgage or sell his house for treatments. Whereas Anna sees the analytical side, which sometimes is viewed as a rather cold perspective and often Anna is seen as being rather cold even when dealing with her dying little boy.

After the fact they follow the regular path parents take from losing many a child, they fight and then they split. But then the third section of the book they come back together and finally have this magical cheesy I forgive you please come back to me type sequence which I found was rather unnecessary. The book could definitely be ended at the end of section two.

I didn’t hate the book, I just found it hard to get into. There were a few minor storylines that were unnecessary and frankly the storyline that linked with the title didn’t really add much - it just added that cheesy happy ending. That aside, there were definitely very important meaningful parts of this book that are worth reading, especially if you haven’t gone through something like this. Everyone mourns in different ways so it’s nice to see that shown in at least 5 different ways throughout the novel, from the main story of Rob and Anna, the storyline of Nev and Josh, and the storyline of both Rob’s dad and Anna’s mum after losing their partners as well.

3/5 stars

* I was given this book for review purposes but all opinions are my own. 
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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Orphan Monster Spy | Matt Killeen | Review

I am having a real historical fiction moment right now. I just can't get enough of it, which is particularly surprising considering the fact that I don't think I've even picked up a historical fiction book over the last few years. Whatever the reason, I'm more than happy to indulge this fancy because it has led me to some fantastic books.

One such book is Orphan Monster Spy, the debut novel from Matt Killeen. I actually heard Matt speak at the Northern YA Literary Festival and decided right there and then that I needed to read his book and pronto!

Orphan Monster Spy is all about Sarah, a Jewish teenager. Her life takes a strange turn when she meets an even stranger man, who convinces her to infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school. There, she must use her skills to get close to one specific pupil, whose father just happens to be a Nazi scientist and owner of the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy everything. Sarah agrees and finds herself in considerable danger, fighting to survive a cut-throat school in a brutal world.

If you couldn't tell from that synopsis, Orphan Monster Spy is a fast-paced thriller that had me desperately turning the pages and devouring the story. I was completely and utterly hooked from the first few pages. It was so unpredictable that I could physically feel the tension - every time I thought things were safe, something new would be thrown into the mix!

This might sound like a lot but I thought that it really worked. A mahoosive part of this is the character of Sarah. Without giving too much away, Sarah's background is not only harrowing but also has given her the chance to develop the skills she needs to walk into a new life as a spy. Every time she is challenged, I was not only rooting for her but knew she had the experience necessary to give her a fighting chance. She was well constructed, believable and really rather amazing! If I get the chance to read more about Sarah, I will be a very happy reader.

Kelly x
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Sunday, 22 April 2018

BB Book Club | April 2018 Roundup | Carmilla

This year we decided to launch our very own online book club, with a new book for you to join us in reading every month. April saw us read our first Classic Horror title Carmilla which was selected by Kelly. Here's our April infographic to tell you a little bit more...

bb book club april 2018 carmilla

Reader's comments and favourite quotes:

[On how the book compares to Dracula] "The old European setting, the aristocratic vampire, the wooing of the victim - there's plenty there!"

[On why the story appeals to a modern day audience] "I think it tells us a lot about who, or what, we fear."  - Kelly @ This Northern Gal

“Do you think,” I said at length, “That you will ever confide fully in me?” She turned round smiling, but made no answer, only continued to smile on me. “You won’t answer that?” I said. “You can’t answer pleasantly; I ought not to have asked you”

"I think the book appeals to the modern audience, I found the language used in the book accessible and easy to follow. I would recommend [Carmilla], I like a gothic mystery kind of story." - Cat

You, who live in towns, can have no idea how great an event the introduction of a new friend is, in such a solitude as surrounded us.

"Vampire stories aren't generally my thing so I wasn't sure what to expect from the book. I ended up enjoying Carmilla more than I had expected to and I'm glad Kelly chose it for the book club." - Erin @ A Natural Detour

Thank you to everyone who read along with us this month! If you would like to get involved with next month's BB Book Club check back here tomorrow where Ria will be introducing her selection for May.

You can also sign up to our mailing list to make sure you don't miss out on any future book club updates!

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Friday, 20 April 2018

Reign of the Fallen | Sarah Glen Marsh | Review

“Those finished with life crave it less over time.” 
Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees? - Goodreads

I have to begin just by saying that the concept of this story is so unique. A necromancer main character who works for the Royal Family, bringing back the King time and time again so he can continue to rule ... who thinks of these things? Genius.

Reign of the Fallen was such a creative story. The main premise is that Odessa is a necromancer, someone who can walk between the land of the living and the land of the dead, bringing them through the veil into life once more. There's a catch though: once someone is dead, no living thing can see them. They have to wear a shroud all the time, because if someone sees even the smallest glimpse of their dead selves, the dead turn into Shades, uncontrollable monsters (kind of like zombies?).  Odsssa's job, as well a the other necromancers like her lover Evander, is to make sure the dead in the real world don't go mad; they have to kill them before they deteriorate beyond help, travel to the Deadlands to find them, then bring them back so they keep on 'living'.

A little complicated perhaps, but fascinating all the same.

The characters in this book were amazing; each one so beautifully created and left me wanting a whole story just for each of them. There's the squad of necromancers who work in sets of two - Odessa and Evander, Jax and Simeon - then there's Valoria the princess of Karthia, Meredy the sister of Evander and also a beast master (who has a bear as a companion), Danial who is a healer and is boyfriend to Simeon, and Kasmira who is like a weather-controlling pirate.

The villain in this story was a bit predictable, but it was a good plot all the same. There were definitely things I didn't enjoy about it, but on the whole I really liked it. If you're after a fantasy or young adult novel with a bisexual main character and a heap lot of dead people walking around like they're living, then this is the book for you!

Have you read Reign of the Fallen? What did you think? 
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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Features | Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge Update #2

blogger's bookshelf the last star

The Next Book In A Series You Started | The Last Star, Rick Yancey (2016) 

If you caught my post earlier this year on the sequels I'd added to my 2018 TBR you may remember that The Last Star, the final book in the 5th Wave trilogy, was on the list. I have to admit I did struggle a little bit with this one as it had been over three years (!) since I read the second book and as it turns out I didn't remember it very well at all.

A Book You Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To | Always & Forever Lara Jean, Jenny Han (2017)

Another book on my sequels list and a 2017 'vow to read' book I failed to pick up was Always & Forever Lara Jean, the third and final book in the To All The Boys I've Loved Before trilogy (which Sophie recently reviewed). This book follows the central character Lara Jean as she graduates high school and gets ready to set off for college.

A Book That's Published In 2018 | Clean, Juno Dawson (2018)

There are obviously a lot of books I could have chosen for this prompt but I'm a fan of Juno Dawson's writing and couldn't resist snapping up a copy of her latest release through Netgalley earlier this year. The book tackles some tough subjects, focusing on socialite Lexi who finds herself at an exclusive island rehab facility after almost overdosing. You can find out more about Clean in my recent collab post with Ria.

the strange library murakami blogger's bookshelf

A Book That Involves A Bookstore Or Library | The Strange Library, Haruki Murakami (2005) 

I'm so glad I landed on The Strange Library as my pick for this prompt as it was such a unique and quirky story which made for a fun read with a dark twist running throughout. Shared alongside the story were various illustrations from the London Library which added extra enjoyment for me.

A Book About Death Or Grief | Scythe, Neal Shusterman (2017)

Neal Shusterman's latest series takes place in a utopian world, where war, hunger, disease and misery simply don't exist and 'scythes' are tasked with controlling the population. Like most of the book blogging world, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can't wait to read the sequel Thunderhead. If you missed my recent collab post with Anjali where we discussed the book you can catch it here.

A Book With Characters Who Are Twins | Here We Are Now, Jasmine Warga (2017)

Here We Are Now tells the story of teenager Taliah meeting rock star Julian Oliver... who just happens to be her father. Taking place over just a few days, the book follows her journey to his hometown to meet his half of her family for the first time - including her twin cousins!

If you're taking part in the Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge I'd love to hear from you. Let me know which prompts you've crossed off the list and which books you're planning to pick up next!
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Monday, 16 April 2018

Features | 7 Things I Highlighted Whilst Reading Challenger Deep

1. "It was a problem with empty space that led me to art. I see an empty box, and I have to fill it. I see a blank page, and I can't leave it like that." - p.29

2. "I close my eyes and feel, pushing my thoughts through the soles of my feet." - p.18

challenger deep

3. "What is a permanent record? When does it stop following you? Will I have to spend my life looking over my shoulder for my permanent record?" - p.76

4. "Their laughter feels so far away it's as if there's cotton in my ears." - p.49

5. "I think it's outrageously cruel to keep a puzzle that they know is missing a single piece." - p.302

challenger deep

6. "We want all things in life packed into boxes that we can label. But just because we have the ability to label it, doesn't mean we really know what's in the box." - p.298

7. "How do you trust a therapist when even the plant in his waiting room is a lie?" - p.111
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