Tag Archives: YA

Book Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

Published 9th June 2016 by Hot Key Books.

29604253Goodreads Synopsis: When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…. wasn’t just an accident.

With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn’t the one to blame?

My Review: With Malice arrived in the post by surprise, but I was was desperate to start reading it after looking into what it was about. Psychological thrillers are right up my street, so I was really sure I’d find this great!

The plot is centered around Jill, who wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the last six weeks. She discovers that she was involved in an accident that the press is not obsessed with – but was the accident her fault? Is she to blame for the tragic outcome?

I’ll get the slightly negative part of this review out of the way – I couldn’t like Jill. She had many likeable traits, but there were so many reasons why I just couldn’t feel for her. It meant I felt a little distanced from the story – though not entirely, it was incredibly addictive. Maybe it’s because of the way she was portrayed by the media excerpts in the book, maybe it was because she didn’t seem to mourn after the accident – she just seemed a little two dimensional to me, though that’s not to say everyone else will think that. I’m sure many readers will engage with her.

I really did enjoy the story, because it’s full of many unexpected twists, especially towards the end. It feels like a very classic mystery, with modern elements. Whenever I wasn’t reading, I was coming up with theories as to what could have caused the accident!

I really enjoyed the way in which the story is told. It isn’t told in modern day extracts and then flashbacks, like I’d expected. Instead, we follow Jill in the present day, and between chapters are extracts from various news channels, witness interviews, and blogs, which allow the reader to see into the mystery from multiple perspectives – characters close to Jill, hateful media perspectives, and anonymous blog trolls. It was really interesting to see the story told from lots of different perspectives – it also revealed lots of little hints and different theories, which kept me hooked.

Overall, With Malice was a really brilliant and addictive read. It’s the perfect book if you’re looking for a thrilling read for this summer. I really enjoyed the story, and although I had a couple of problems with the characters, I’m sure many people will love it.

My Rating:

three and a half

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

Children of Icarus Blog Tour: Caighlan Smith on Writing and Editing

I’m pleased to be introducing Caighlan Smith on the blog today! Read below for her guest post about her process of writing and editing her latest book, Children of Icarus. But first, a little about the book:
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Over to Caighlan!
Caighlan Smith photo 1You know the concept of binge-watchers? Well I’m a binge-writer. When I’m hooked on an idea I’ll write from the moment I wake up (half past noon) until dinner—or Coronation Street, whichever comes first. Then I’m back to writing and up late enough to justify waking after noon the next day. That’s my writing process; dive in and don’t look back until the first draft’s done. I only let myself reread what I’ve written if it’s been a while since I worked on the project, which doesn’t happen too often. I like to start a project when I know I’ll have a solid week to work on it without interruptions. So when I’m done the draft, my editing process starts. That used to involve crying and procrastination. Now it involves focus and only occasional procrastination. I’ve edited a lot on my own, and had experience with a bunch of different editors, and it’s all taught me how essential editing is to bettering a book, so it’s Children of Icarus high resnot nearly as painful as it used to be. To be honest, I actually enjoyed editing my new book, Children of Icarus. Prior to this I’d evolved enough to get through editing without tears and questioning the necessity of grammar, but do actually enjoy editing? That made me want to cry for an entirely different reason. It taught me that when you have an outstanding editor and a novel you really want to work for, editing is more an angel than a soul-sucking demon. Speaking of both of those things, they feature (in some ways) in Children of Icarus. The story revolves around a girl who ends up trapped in a labyrinth, which she believed would lead to paradise. With a group of other youths, she has to survive long  enough to escape—if escape is even possible.

Children of Icarus is out now in the UK from Curious Fox Books.
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YALC 2016: Recap and Book Haul

YALC YALC YALC YALC YALC!! YEAR THREE!!

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I was so pumped for YALC this year, though admittedly, slightly less pumped than usual -I haven’t been to a book event in such a long time (was my last book event YALC 2015…? OH NO) due to exams and stress and life being ridiculously busy and draining. So I was pretty nervous about going and talking to (or not being able to talk to) the many lovely bloggers I know online but haven’t talked to in so long because, as mentioned, life is busy and draining.

BUT. To the fun stuff; let’s ignore my brain for a sec. I was very excited to go, and see how the convention is developing even further in its third successful year. So, onto a messy recap/book haul post!


I arrived at around 8.30 to YALC – earlier than the starting time, because I was very honoured to have been invited to this year’s blogger’s breakfast before the opening. I was really excited for this, as each year of YALC a few authors come and do a small, more intimate talk with bloggers and vloggers – this year, to celebrate You Know Me Well and #BookPride, it was David Levithan and Nina LaCour!

29848950Being me, I didn’t take photos, because I’m stupid. I was also a little in overdrive at the prospect of my two favourite authors in the same room as me. I adore their books more than anything, they’re all so important to me – reading titles from You Know Me Well, to Wide Awake, to Everything Leads To You have been pivotal moments in my life, no exaggeration. David and Nina discussed YKMW, then opened up to the bloggers for questions – and there was a short signing after, in which I was much too shy to say a huge thank you to them for such beautiful books.

It was incredibly cool of them to do the press junket the day after their big YALC appearance, especially as they must have been a lil jet lagged. Thank you to the both of them for the great morning, and to the YALC team for organising the press junket and inviting me!

The first things I did when YALC started officially was sit in on the first two panels. The first was a range of authors mostly with their debut novels releasing this year, celebrating new talent in YA. It was really interesting to hear from a lot of them, as I don’t think I would have otherwise. Claire Hennessey was on this panel, and Nothing Tastes as Good is set to be an awesome release –  in fact, I read an early manuscript of this so can vouch for it!

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The second panel of the day was ASK YALC, with Holly Bourne, Juno Dawson and Rosalind Jana, hosted by Gemma Cairney of BBC Radio 1. I loved this panel so much! It was probably my favourite. It had a little twist to it, as beforehand audience members wrote down questions they wanted advice to – and the panel members answered them on stage. I loved hearing all of the advice – they’re all such brilliant, intelligent and funny people. I was also introduced to Rosalind Jana through this panel, whom I hadn’t previously heard of (ok I probably have, I just have an awful memory). I rushed to buy a copy of her book afterwards!

As I went to Juno and Rosalind’s signings after the second panel, I’d missed a lot of the next one, which was a fantasy one including Philip Reeve. I was a little sad about that, but I decided midday to take a lil break from YALC, and hop down a floor to LFCC to see what was going on there!

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Having spent most of my money on books, it wasn’t the best use of my time; LFCC is mainly a place for buying merch from stands, and queuing for paid autographs and photos with Sci Fi icons. (Very cool, but less so for a broke student like moi)

I did enjoy wandering around a lot, though! It was so different to YALC. The cosplay that I was was amazing (note: a small six y/o-ish Harley Quinn that outdid EVERY other Harley Quinn I saw, like, whoa) and I loved looking at artists’ stands of prints and comics.

I then went back to YALC, to watch the Morally Complicated YA Panel. Even though I was basically winging the whole day, going to panels on a whim, I knew I had to go to this one. It was set to be fantastic – Louise O’Neill and Melvin Burgess, two authors very well known for their controversial but life changing fiction, were joined by Monsters author Emerald Fennel (which I am still yet to read!) and Girl, Detached author Manuela Salvi (this looks SO GOOD).

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So many interesting points were raised about censorship in young adult fiction – from where we draw the line, to banning books, to comparisons with movies. This is a topic I’ve been quietly interested in for a while – and, as I’m currently looking for EPQ ideas (an essay project for extra UCAS points in sixth form) this has actually inspired me to consider writing about YA and censorship for my project!

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The only author photo I got at YALc was with Louise O’Neill, but that was incredibly cool – I’ve been to one of her signings before, but I only bought Asking For It today and I cannot wait to read it. I have a feeling I’ll have an in-depth discussion blog post following reading.

I didn’t actually spend as long at YALC as I did the last two years – I left before the last panel (a Harry Potter Party!) had ended. But I still had a fantastic time!

Similarly to my smaller amount of time at YALC, I also got surprisingly few books (I mean, look at 2014…). However, they’re some pretty awesome books. I can’t wait to delve into them asap. Also pictured: a tote bag and poster from the lovely Hot Key Books, and some postcards of books I must keep and eye out for!

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Books purchased:

-Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Finally, it’s here! I can’t wait to go back to my childhood again.)

-The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance (Loved Jess’ debut. This looks very mysterious.)

-Notes on Being Teenage by Rosalind Jana (Rosalind was fantastic on her panel and this sounds nice!)

-Asking For It by Louise O’Neill (I’ve needed this book in my life for. so. long.)

-[FREE PROOF:] Girl, Detached by Manuela Salvi (This sounded very interesting, and I don’t read much translated fiction)


A HUGE thank you to the organisers behind YALC for putting together such a fantastic event – the whole weekend looked amazing, and the day I visited was really enjoyable. Thank you also to the authors and publicists for putting together such cool panels! Bring on next year 🙂

Favourite Quotes: You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

YOU KNOW ME WELL

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I’ve been excited about this book for months, as I’m a huge fan of David Levithan, and recently read Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads to You, which has fast become one of my favourite books. I was delighted to find a copy in Waterstones a few days ago, not realising it was already out! I read it in one go, eager to see how two favourite writers of mine had collaborated.

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I adored the story. It’s centered around Mark and Kate, who fast become friends after a crazy coincidental encounter at a Pride party, and become involved in each other’s romantic situations. Both of the authors are ridiculously talented at crafting memorable and lovable characters.

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The story has its fair share of heartbreak and sad parts, but it’s balanced out with some really heart-warming and lovely moments and scenes. The ending was beautiful! Also – another plus was that there were multiple Tegan and Sara references by Kate. That pleased my fangirl brain.

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I picked up on a lot of really beautiful sentences in this story (as I have done in both writer’s works) and I wanted to compile a list of my favourite quotes, as little graphics. I hope you enjoyed them!

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Have you read You Know Me Well? What did you love about it? 🙂

Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Published February 2016 by Macmillan.

25437747Goodreads Synopsis: I was brave. She was reckless. We were trouble.
Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting.

Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be.

But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

My Review: Beautiful Broken Things had been on my to-read list ever since I saw its beautiful cover in late 2015! I’m very much a ‘judge a book by its cover’ type. I actually went into the book knowing very little about it, other than that it was about friendship, and by my guessing, would be quite a sad read.

It took me a while to read this because it was the first book I read after exams; the last two months have been a massive reading slump and I’ve been so out of the loop, and out of the reading mindset. However, on a long bus journey the other day, I devoured over half of the book. Sara Barnard really draws the reader in, and gets them totally engrossed in the story.

Beautiful Broken Things follows the story of Caddy, who is living what she feels is a boring, average life. When her best friend Rosie introduces her to Suzanne, a new girl to Brighton, everything begins to change. Suzanne went through some horrible things before moving to Brighton with her aunt, and Caddy finds herself drawn to her, wanting to be there for her. Events begin to spiral out of control – and nothing’s the same.

The premise of the story was brilliant. Even though I did think the story was a little predictable, I still found myself feeling for the characters are the story played out. I loved the setting; it feels like Barnard’s debut is like a love letter to Brighton, highlighting its beautiful places in the pivotal scenes of the story.

The characters are all really well developed and felt very real to me, but for some reason I just didn’t connected with them like I’d expected to. Especially Suzanne. It’s not that I explicitly didn’t like the protagonists, but some of the decisions they made just didn’t add up for me and I felt a bit detached from them. I feel like if I’d grown to love them more, this book would have deeply impacted me much more.

Overall, Beautiful Broken Things is a really great debut novel, and one I’d certainly recommend. It’s a riveting contemporary story, with some characters that I’m sure most will find very memorable. Sadly, something just didn’t click for me, whilst I was reading – however, it was still a brilliant read 🙂

My Rating:

three

I purchased a copy of Beautiful Broken Things.

An Interview with Sharon Gosling | Author of The Diamond Thief

Related Posts: Book Review: The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling

I adored The Diamond Thief, book one of the Remy Brunel trilogy, when I got the chance to read it at the beginning of this year. So naturally, it’s very exciting to have Sharon Gosling, author, on The Bibliomaniac today to discuss the trilogy, its genre, and Sharon’s upcoming projects. Enjoy the Q&A!

GW: Hi, Sharon! Firstly, could you tell us a little about the diamond thief, for anyone who hasn’t read it?
SG: Hi! The Diamond Thief is set in London in the late 1800s. It introduces Rémy Brunel, who is a French circus performer famed for her talent on the trapeze and the high wire. She also happens to be the best jewel thief in kx3J8Y0kEurope. She’s brought to London by her nefarious circus master in order to steal the famous diamond the Darye-ye Noor (the Ocean of Light), the sister-stone to the Koh-i-Noor (the Mountain of Light), which is in the Queen of England’s crown. As she attempts to steal it she comes up against a young detective called Thaddeus Rec, who is determined to stop her. Together they discover that something terrible is happening below the streets of London’s East End, and are forced to work together to stop it. As they do they also discover some disturbing things about Rémy’s past. 

What books inspired you to write, growing up?

As a kid I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on, but with a dad who loved Sherlock Holmes, I developed an early love for detective fiction – and fact, come to think of it. I remember one librarian being a bit concerned about me taking out a lot of adult books about Jack the Ripper when I was probably a bit too young to be reading them. I also read a lot of classic children’s books – I had a lot of Enid Blyton books and Rémy is probably in part inspired by her circus stories. I can remember wishing that our family could pack up and join a circus! Life on the road and the idea of being in a new place every week always sounded so exciting – I loved travel adventures, especially anything that took place in South America, as jungles really appeal to me. So The Hardy Boys were another favourite. I think all of these combined to encourage me to make up my own adventures, which led to writing my own, too. 

You do some really interesting things outside of writing fiction, such as writing about sci fi and The Diamond Thieffantasy in magazines. What’s the most exciting related article or project you’ve worked on?

As a result of writing non-fiction tie-in books for television and film, I’ve spent quite a lot of time on film sets, which I always find really fascinating. Oftentimes watching a TV show being made can actually be quite tedious, as there is a lot of time spent setting up, moving from one set to another, resetting, re-taking the same scene, and so on. But I love it because there’s a very specific energy that occurs on a film or television set, which I think comes from having a large group of very talented people who are all creative in different ways working on one huge project. I always find that very exciting. A year or so ago I wrote the companion book ‘The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful’ – the series is filmed in Ireland, just outside Dublin, and I spent a few days on set at the end of the shooting for the first season. That was a particular thrill for me as I got to meet and interview Timothy Dalton. I know most people would be excited about that for him being a former James Bond, but for me it was because he’ll always be my Mr Rochester! Jane Eyre is my favourite classic novel, and the BBC adaptation that he was in years ago will always be my touchstone for how it should be produced on screen. Of course, Penny Dreadful was created and written by John Logan, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of films such as Skyfall, Gladiator, Rango and Hugo – meeting him was pretty special. He’s a lovely man and an extraordinarily talented writer. 

Is there a reason you are drawn to sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk stories?

I think those three genres capture the idea that there are still things to discover and still reasons to be intrepid, which really appeals for someone who always wanted to be out there exploring inaccessible parts of the globe. Today, the world feels so much smaller. It feels known, as if there’s nothing left to discover, no mysterious corners that haven’t been mapped, photographed and given a Wikipedia entry. Genres such as science fiction, fantasy and steampunk open up new possibilities for exploration and invention. That’s probably why I love them so much.

Do you have any plans for books after the Rémy Brunel trilogy?

Always! I’ve got two that I’m currently re-drafting – one for a slightly younger audience that’s set in modern-day London and another which is a horror for a much older YA audience. So they’re both very different, which is fun. Then later in the year I have two more I want to start work on – one is a children’s adventure set in late Victorian England (I’ve realised it’s a favourite setting of mine!) and the other is the first in an adult detective series set in a village very like the one I live in now. So many stories, so little time…!

I hope you enjoyed the interview! Thank you to Sharon for answering the Q & A questions, and to Georgia at Curious Fox for organising this and introducing me to the trilogy. Interested in checking out the Remy Brunel trilogy? Read my review of The Diamond Thief here!

Book Review: The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling

This edition published January 2016 by Curious Fox books.

The Diamond ThiefGoodreads Synopsis: No one performs on the circus trapeze like 16-year-old Rémy Brunel. But Rémy also leads another life, prowling through the backstreets of Victorian London as a jewel thief. When she is forced to steal one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, she uncovers a world of treachery and fiendish plots.

Meanwhile, young detective Thaddeus Rec is determined to find the jewel and clear his name. Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Rémy that he needs to save?

My Review: This book has been on my to-read list for ages, and for some reason, I’ve simply never gotten around to buying a copy. However, when Curious Fox were kind enough to send me some of their titles a while ago, I saw that it had been given a cover makeover – I’m in love with the new look! I thought this was a great opportunity to finally get into the trilogy.

The Diamond Thief pulled me in immediately, with a beautifully written and gripping trapeze scene  – and all the way through, there was never a dull moment. Protagonist Rémy is not your usual travelling trapeze artist – as well as a secret and mysterious past that she doesn’t fully understand herself, she lives a double-life as a jewel thief and is in London to steal a famous gem.

The plot was gripping and entertaining. Not so long ago, I was hugely into steampunk and fantasy stuff – I feel like more recently, I’ve moved into reading more contemporary fiction. The Diamond Thief felt like coming home to an old friend that I haven’t seen in a while. It was 300 pages of pure, riveting escapism – a classic steampunk-inspired story with some beautifully elaborated Victorian elements.

Rémy is an awesome main character – she’s a classically adventurous and courageous heroine. Also, kudos for her to standing up for herself and refusing to be defended. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about her and another character, whose chemistry is hinted at and I’m sure will be evident in the next book! However, I really did enjoy reading about the unlikely gang Rémy finds herself banding together through her journey to get the diamond and uncover the truth.

Overall, I definitely recommend The Diamond Thief to anyone who loves mystery stories, or ones with steampunk elements. It was a really great read – perfect for fans of Pantomime by Laura Lam and Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell. I can’t wait to read on in the trilogy and see how Rémy’s story develops.

My Rating:

four

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

Intrigued by The Diamond Thief, or already a fan? Come back to this blog this time next week, for an interview with the author!