Tag Archives: 2015 release

Book Review: The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

Published July 2nd 201 by Quercus.

20685157Goodreads Synopsis: LOST.
When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.
FOUND.
Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again.

My Review: I have no idea why I put off reading this for so long. Undone and A Kiss in the Dark, Cat Clarke’s other recent books, are the two books I’ll recommend to anyone and everyone. I love them. I bought The Lost and the Found at YALC, back in July… and didn’t pick it up until December. Why? I don’t know. But I’m glad I finally did. It was fantastic!

Cat Clarke has a fantastic ability to craft realistic, relatable and loveable characters. I fell in love with Faith straight away, and found it so fascinating to read from her point of view as she adjusts to life with Laurel back, after thirteen years. I found the dynamic between the two characters so thought-provoking.

The plot is absolutely genius. What happened to Laurel is dark and incredibly unsettling, and I really liked how the book focuses on how the media portrays her story – it was quite unnerving to realise how stories are documented in the news like this all the time.

I might sometimes say this as an exaggeration, but I actually did tear up at the ending. I was not expecting an ending like that – I’ve never come across such a clever plot twist. It broke my heart! As unexpected as it was, I think Cat Clarke wrote *those* end scenes absolutely perfectly. The writing is poignant and memorable.

Overall, I really, really highly recommend The Lost and the Found – although it may not be for everyone due to some really sensitive themes. The plot is unpredictable and moving – and the characters will stay with you long after you read the last page.

My Rating:

five

I purchased a copy of The Lost and the Found at YALC 2015.

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#WearableBooks: Book-O-Masks by Lemke & Lentz!

Not my usual book review post…

A few weeks ago, I received this book in the post. At first, seeing the edges of a cardboard book, I thought it must be a baby book, sent to me by accident. It wasn’t… but it wasn’t like anything I usually read or review either. As soon as I saw the title I recognised it from Twitter and started laughing. The Book-O-Masks is pure GENIUS.

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This is one of two books in its series being published this month – the other is Book-O-Beards. 

Illustrated by Lentz and with witty captions written by Lemke, this book is weirdly one of the most entertaining books I’ve seen! It’s perfect as a gift or stocking filler especially for kids – even at fifteen I was giggling a lot at it – but from what you can see below, it’s got some appeal for adults!

The ‘wearable books’ idea is brilliant – check below for my mum modelling some of the pages. (She asked to model, btw, very eagerly. She’s excited to make her blogging début.)

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We did take pictures of every page of the short book, but we’ll leave it to you to go find a copy of it and have a go yourself! Curious Fox Books is talking about these books a lot on social media, so check out more funny pictures from readers using the hashtag #WearableBooks on Twitter and Instagram.

I received a copy of Book-O-Masks from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall

Published 6th August by Hot Key Books.

25326323Goodreads Synopsis: Two survivors, one terrible truth.
Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she’s desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge.
One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn’t, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?

My Review: It’s safe to say I am a huge fan of Claire McFall – Ferryman and Bombmaker are undoubtedly two of my favourite UKYA books. I’ve been eager to read even more of McFall’s work (I can’t get enough of her atmospheric writing!) so when I heard about Black Cairn Point, I was ecstatic.

devoured this book. I was hooked from the beginning, up until the last word. Heather and four of her classmates go on a camping trip, for Dougie’s birthday – it’s an abandoned beach, near an ancient Cairn, which is an old Pagan burial area. But when, suddenly, some terrifying things are beginning to happen, Heather’s certain it’s linked to the Cairn.

The characters are fantastic – just as I’d guessed they be, because years after reading Ferryman, I still have Dylan and Tristan in my head! Heather felt so unflinchingly real to me. The chemistry between all of the characters was brilliant; Claire has captured teenage drama really well, the fluctuating relationships  and rising tensions were really fun to read about.

The story spirals from feeling like a cutesy teen holiday to a dark tale of murder and mayhem – it’s gripping, shocking, and gets progressively more terrifying with every page! Chapters alternated between the ‘then’ and ‘now’ – ‘then’ being on the camping trip, and ‘now’ is Heather’s time in an institution one year later with a therapist, trying to get to the bottom of the story before Dougie wakes from his coma. Scary, nightmarish things are revealed from both time periods, and I was racking my brain throughout to work out what the outcome could be on the camping trip, and one year later.

Claire McFall takes her books in completely unpredictable directions, and this one is possibly the best of hers. It is so hard to talk about the best bit of the book without spoiling it, and I want to keep this review spoiler-free, so I’m not even going to mention what I thought about the last pages as everything clicked into place. All I’ll do is give you this accurate depiction of me in GIF form:

Trust me, everyone is gonna look like this when they read the end.

Overall, just, ahem, please go and buy Black Cairn Point as soon as possible. It’s a thriller with an unbelievable twist that will render you completely speechless. Even before I’d finished it, it became one of my favourites of this year!

My Rating:

five

I received a copy of Black Cairn Point from the publisher. In no way at did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

Published 16th July by Pan Macmillan.

The Bones of YouGoodreads Synopsis: When eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson disappears, the idyllic village where she lived will never be the same again. Local gardener Kate is struck with guilt. She’d come to know Rosie well, and thought she understood her – perhaps better even than Rosie’s own mother.
A family torn apart: Rosie was beautiful, kind and gentle. She came from a loving family and she had her whole life ahead of her. Who could possibly want to harm her? And why?
A keeper of secrets: Kate is convinced the police are missing something. She’s certain that someone in the village knows more than they’re letting on. As the investigation deepens, so does Kate’s obsession with solving the mystery of what happened to Rosie.

My Review: This book looked and sounded amazing, so I was very excited to start it! I had to read the first half in short snatches between the last-week-of-school-rush-to-finish-coursework, but on the last day of school I sat and devoured the last half of the book in one reading. I wish I could’ve read the whole book like that. It’s fast paced and definitely one of my most gripping reads this year!

Rosie, teenage daughter of the famous TV presenter Neal Anderson, has disappeared. Kate, the local gardener who had a connection to Rosie, is shocked and saddened by the truths that are slowly coming to light. She decides to investigate on her own as to what happened – delving into the murky and mysterious background of Rosie’s famed family. The outcome of the story is absolutely terrifying.

The story felt so real at points it was scary – I especially really liked the psychological aspects and the heavy focus on media representation. It was very chilling to read about how the national papers exaggerated Rosie’s disappearance story – and made me think of how so many papers do this in real life.

The Bones of You is a very dark tale and certainly not for the faint-hearted – there are lots of grim scenes. However I raced through the story, utterly engrossed, desperate to unravel all of the answers. The Bones of You is an absolutely stunning début novel. The plot was so intricate and complex and I came up with countless theories, but none of them were anything like the outcome. I had to read over the revealing lines to make sure I wasn’t seeing things!

I became really attached to the characters, especially Kate. She felt very realistic and her actions were so believeable. Her daughter has just left for university, and on top of adjusting to that change, she becomes tangled up in the mystery of what happened to Rosie, a local friend’s daughter. I don’t read from adult perspectives very much as I mainly read YA but, unexpectedly, I came to love Kate as much as I would love a YA protagonist.

Overall, I was really impressed with this début novel – I went in with not very many expectations and was met with a truly unique, dark thriller. I would jump at the chance to read more from Howells in the future! She has a great talent for writing very realistic thriller stories. The plot was so well crafted, as were the unforgettable characters. I definitely recommend this to people who love crime books.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of The Bones of You from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Published 4nd June 2015 by Harper Voyager.

23569524Goodreads Synopsis: What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?
For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.
For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

My Review: I first heard about this at the Fire Sermon event with HarperVoyager a few months ago, and instantly the story appealed to me. Over the last year I’ve been getting into contemporary more and more, which has meant I’ve been reading less fantasy. After The Fire Sermon, this seemed the perfect read to rekindle (pun 100% intended) my love for the genre. And, it was! An Ember in the Ashes exceeded my expectations by miles. It was a mesmerising début, from a very talented new writer.

The story is told in switching perspectives; Laia, a scholar, and Elias, a ‘mask’ soldier. Laia is thrown into a world of resistance against the Empire and espionage in order to save her brother, whilst Elias is a promising soldier of Blackcliff, expected to go through horrifying things to compete to be Emperor, despite how much he detests the system. The two are about to meet in the place they are both trapped, and the path they take is set to change everything.

adored the characters. Laia was a refreshingly unique protagonist. In the beginning, she is weak, afraid and does not involve herself in anything illegal; that’s all her brother, until he’s captured. She develops a lot over the course of the plot; Sabaa Tahir has written her character so well. I didn’t really mind the vague love triangle, too!

It’s really hard to express my feelings about An Ember in the Ashes. It was just so enjoyable – I was sucked into the world of the Empire straight away; swept away with the characters on their terrifying stories. The story ended on such a huge cliffhanger, and I actually thought it was a standalone novel… Thankfully a sequel is due and I’m eagerly anticipating reading more about Laia and Elias.

Overall, I very highly recommend An Ember in the Ashes. If you’re a fan of fantasy, Sabaa Tahir’s book is the perfect next read – and, in fact, it’s the perfect book to get into the fantasy genre with. Undoubtedly one of the most stunning debut novels I have read.

My Rating:five

I received a copy of An Ember in the Ashes from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

Published 3rd July by Hesperus Nova.

25246282Goodreads Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent helps her erratic and beautiful mother run the Hotel Eden, a boarding house now besieged by reporters, keen for juicy gossip and eye-catching headlines. They are there because the Cornish seaside town has recently witnessed a string of murders, young girls stabbed to death. Among the newspaper jackals, Mr. Gallagher stands out. Quiet, serious Mr. Gallagher—Betty is fascinated by his mysterious nature and desperate to be noticed by him and not be treated as a child. As he and Betty get to know each other, through snatched conversation and illicit meetings, their feelings for each other grow. But she soon starts to realize how little she knows about the older, enigmatic journalist. With a dangerous cloud looming over the town, Betty starts to take risks to see him and hide secrets from her mother, her friends, and even herself—secrets that will echo through the years and affect the lives of many. Beautifully written with skilllfully drawn characters, evocative language, and set partially in 1956 with perfect period depiction, this is an astonishing tour de force from debut author Laura Powell.

My Review: I actually received this proof from the publisher via my dad and I hadn’t previously heard of them – or the book itself – but after finishing it, rather in awe, I’d love to see what this imprint also publishes… and what Powell will write in the future!

The Unforgotten is set in two times; 1965, and the present day. In 1965, Betty lives in the hotel with her mother, whilst it’s overrun with journalists clamouring to get scoops on the murder spree happening in the village. As tensions are rising, so is Betty’s fixation with Mr Ghallager, one of the local reporters.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect of the story and it was a lot darker than its pretty book jacket lets on. It didn’t feel like a clichéd ‘whodunnit?’ novel. It was simply stunning. I couldn’t predict who the killer was at all. I was swept up in the story – reading it in a day. The pages were practically turning themselves, as horrifying murders took place while a perilous connection between Betty and Mr Ghallager developed.

I was surprised at how invested I became in the lives of the central characters as they all unravelled mysteries. Betty was a little quirky and a really likeable character to read about – in the past and present.

Reading about the characters in 1959 then as elderly people, in the present day, made the story even more brilliant. I don’t think I’ve read many ‘split’ stories like it but it gave the mystery a new depth, as I tried to piece together evidence from the present day and the sixties. It was also a really interesting way to see how the characters changed and grew.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend The Unforgotten. I think it will appeal to teens and adults alike – especially to fans of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. The characters are really well formed and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head – especially after the bewildering ending!

My Rating:

five

I received a copy of The Unforgotten from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Jonny Jakes Investigates the Hamburgers of Doom by Malcom Judge

Published June 2015 by Curious Fox.

25726092Publisher’s Synopsis: Meet Jonny Jakes, undercover reporter for banned school newspaper The Woodford Word. Nothing will stop his pursuit of the truth. Not teachers. Not parents. Not double detention.

When a new head teacher arrives halfway through term, Jonny smells a rat. Teachers handing out sweets? All-you-can-eat hamburgers? He’s determined to get to the bottom of it, because Jonny Jakes investigates the same way he eats his hamburgers: with relish.

My Review: I haven’t read many middle grade books so far this year – so when I was emailed about this book, I jumped at the chance! Also, if the title is THE HAMBURGERS OF DOOM, there is no way I’m missing out on reading it.

I can definitely see why this first book in the Jonny Jakes Investigates series is one of Curious Fox’s leading titles of 2015. It ticks all the boxes for a brilliant children’s book, and more. From the witty illustrations of the characters, to the hilarious dialogue and fictional school setting, it was a delight to read!

The story opens with an introduction to Jonny Jakes, the mastermind behind his school’s newspaper, which has been garnering a lot of attention with its many articles mocking the headmaster. When a mysterious new head teacher turns up, Jakes is determined to get the first scoop on it, but he finds out that it’s not just any old head teacher. It’s an alien, and matters are about to get a whole lot more complicated – because despite his nice personality, is this alien headmaster up to something wicked?

The plot felt like a classic story, though original, and I can tell this is going to be a very popular book with younger readers. I did not expect to laugh as much as I did. The plot is a hilarious blend of Sci-Fi and school drama.

The voice of Jonny Jakes is undoubtedly one of the best child narratives I’ve read in a long time. There was just something about the voice, how the diary entries by Jonny were written – it felt so realistic and I loved it! I’m confident Jonny Jakes has the potential to be one of those iconic book characters children are going to grow up loving.

The dialogue was sharp-witted and I loved the relationships between all of the characters. I didn’t expect to become so attached to such brilliant characters in this book, either!

Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised with The Hamburgers of Doom. A quite frankly ridiculous story about a schoolboy reporter investigating evil hamburgers and an alien headmaster… t’s a fantastically silly read that’s bound to make you giggle a little bit, no matter what your age. I enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated. I think it’ll appeal to a lot of reluctant young readers, too. I’m really looking forward to seeing more from this series!

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of The Hamburgers of Doom from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.