Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 19th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
With thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for sending me a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.


"'It is that quick, it is that strong, it is that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.'

Even though she knows it's impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It's something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you're floating through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.

Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. For a while he becomes the Sun for her; and she can't help but stay in his orbit. Being with him flaunts every rule designed to keep their home in order, but to lose him would be like losing herself.

In the end they must decide what is most important: loyalty to the only home they've ever known, or to each other?"

My Review

This book has a really interesting concept which made me excited to read it. Seren lives on a spaceship which is heading deep into space, on a 700 year mission, to investigate a mysterious signal which was received on Earth.

Unfortunately, this book fell a little flat for me both in terms of the story and character development. Seren wasn't very likeable and I did not feel like she developed during the course of the novel and was a little annoying. Although I did empathise with her frustrations about the way her life was turning out.

The society on board the ship was interesting, as were the rules that had been put in place to keep the ship running smoothly and the crew healthy. However, the characters weren't very memorable.

I can't really recommend this as the story never sparked to life for me. Therefore I would give it 2 out of 5.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal

Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Expected publication: June 2nd 2016 by Penguin
With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


"A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you'd least expect to find one.

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how - just when we least expect it - we manage to find our way home."

My Review

Told through the eyes of Leon, this is a poignant and moving story of a child struggling to understand why his mother can no longer look after him and why one brother may be wanted and the other not.

This book made me cry at certain moments as Leon's desperation and love for his brother shines through. I thought it was well-written when showing Leon's feelings of confusion and loss and how he views the adults around him.

I liked Leon's relationship with Maureen and with Tufty, although I found it strange that some of the adults didn't think to ask Leon more questions in certain situations.

This is an enjoyable book, set against an interesting time in England. I would give this 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Flawed by Cecilia Ahern

Kindle Edition, 334 pages
Published March 24th 2016 by HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks
My thanks to Net Galley and Harper Collins for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.


"Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything."

My Review

This is the Young Adult debut by bestselling author Cecilia Ahern and I thought it was a great leap into the world of dystopian fiction.

I found the concept of the book to be really intriguing in that anyone who does not behave perfectly is deemed to be flawed and is branded for the rest of their lives and treated as second class citizens. I did find it strange that there was a different system for criminals in that they would not be branded and once released from prison could continue their lives as normal, whereas a flawed person - whose crime was maybe bring dishonest or making a mistake at work - would be restricted in every way, from what they could eat to having a curfew and not being allowed to be helped by a "normal" citizen.

Celestine has grown up with this system and is determined to be perfect and to fly under the radar without questioning anything until an incident close to home makes her begin to question everything that she assumed was right before. I really felt for her when she made a split decision which could lead to her being branded as flawed. Her thoughts are sometimes quite selfish, but I imagine that living in a society like that you would need to protect yourself in that way.

This book was fast-paced and I enjoyed the questions that the book raised about morality and courage. I can't wait to read the next book in the series! I would give this book 5 out of 5.

About the Author

Cecelia Ahern wrote her first novel, PS. I Love You when she was twenty-one. It was published in 2004, the number 1 bestseller in Ireland for 19 weeks and sold in over forty countries. The book was adapted as a motion picture directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler and released in 2007 in the United States.

Her second book, Where Rainbows End (US title: Love, Rosie or Rosie Dunne) won the German CORINE Award in 2005. She contributed with short stories to charity books and is also the co-creator and producer of the ABC comedy Samantha Who?.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Published April 7th 2016 by MIRA (first published January 29th 2016)
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Midas PR for sending it to me.


"When Arthur Pepper discovers a mysterious charm bracelet in his late wife’s wardrobe, he sets off on a journey to discover, charm by charm, her secret life before they met.

Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.

What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places."

My Review

This is a really sweet, charming book, with many funny and poignant moments.

Arthur is a lovely character and I really felt for him as he went on his journey to find out more about the life his wife led before they met. The story behind each of the charms was really interesting and I liked how each one gave clues to lead to the next charm.

I also enjoyed finding out more about his relationship with his children and the way this developed over the course of the book.

Additionally, I liked how Arthur's friendship with his neighbour and her son developed, and how they helped him to see his own worth.

This is a gentle, enjoyable book which I highly recommend. I would give this 4 out of 5.

About the Author

Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival organiser and communications manager. She was inspired to write Arthur Pepper’s story by the memories of her own charm bracelet. She lives near Manchester with her husband and son.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published December 31st 2015 by HarperCollins Children’s Books (first published December 1st 2015)
I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


"Parker Grant doesn't need perfect vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances.

When Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart, suddenly reappears at school, Parker knows there's only one way to react – shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough to deal with already, like trying out for the track team, handing out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened – both with Scott, and her dad – the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem.

Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not."

My Review

Parker Grant is a really strong character who leaps off the page. She is not always likeable, as she's sometimes selfish but I admire her for her tenacity and determination. There are also a lot of funny moments in this book as she always says what she thinks and she quite enjoys getting a reaction out of people from her blindness; even if she doesn't want to be treated any differently from anybody else.

I also found it interesting to read about what life is like for someone who is blind, it definitely made me think about how much harder some things would be.

The story follows Parker as she navigates high school and tries to live as normal a life as possible with her blindness. She has a few close friends but they go through some difficult patches through the novel and Parker learns a lot and grows up a lot. These were some very emotional scenes in the book that made me cry.

Parker also has a set of rules that she wants people around her to follow and Scott is one person who broke her rules who she has vowed never to forgive. I enjoyed finding out about their history as Parker begins to think more about how reasonable her rules are.

This is an excellent debut novel. 5 out of 5 from me.

About the Author

In addition to writing Young Adult novels, Eric Lindstrom has worked in the interactive entertainment industry for years as a creative director, game designer, writer, and usually combinations of all three. As Editor and Co-Writer for Tomb Raider: Legend he received a 2006 BAFTA nomination for Best Video Game Screenplay, and then as the Creative Director for Tomb Raider: Underworld he received a 2009 BAFTA nomination for Best Action Adventure Video Game and a 2009 WGA nomination for Best Writing in a Video Game.

He has also raised children, which led to becoming first a school volunteer, then a substitute teacher, then a part time kindergarten teacher, then getting a credential to teach elementary school, and most importantly the discovery that YA literature is awesome. It’s pretty much all he ever reads, and now writes, in his house near the beach on the west coast, with his wife and, yes, cats.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Waking Under Water by Christine H. Bailey

Kindle Edition, 243 pages
Published September 16th 2015 by Vinspire Publishing (first published September 10th 2015)
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


"Sixteen-year-old Mia Hughes is not really a bad girl. She’s just made one bad decision after another, like mixing in with the wrong crowd and disappearing for days at a time. Her latest move has forced her parents to do the unthinkable—send her away to boarding school.

Trying to make sense of her new world, far away from Pittsburgh, is only half the battle for Mia as she fights to survive the wicked ways of the rich, spoiled kids at Galt Academy. But Mia is a fighter, and when she befriends junior Lucas Dunlap, the cute coffee shop guy, and his friend, Natalie, things start to look up for her—until the betrayal.

After falling into a deep depression, Mia resorts to the one thing she does best: running away. There’s only one problem—Lucas has a hold on her. And just when Mia thinks life can’t get any more complicated, it does with some life-changing news. Can Mia keep her head above water long enough to survive the pressures of her new school? And will Lucas be there when she finally comes up for air, once and for all?"

My review

I found the story of this book to be quite interesting. Mia has a lot of issues going on, including dealing with an eating disorder and a diagnosis which is life-changing for her. However, I have to say I didn't warm to her character very much and I felt sorry for her family having to deal with her behaviour. There is a lot of teen angst in this book and bemoaning that no-one understands her. Although Mia's character does go through a lot and did grow on me towards the end. I think the supporting characters could have been developed further as some of them would appear for a chapter and then disappear for ages and then reappear at a time when something needed to happen to develop the story with no mention in between.

I think in this book the story could have improved by being more chronological rather than jumping back and forth between how Mia got sent to boarding school and her time at the boarding school.

This is a good read, but the story didn't grip me. I would give this 3 out of 5.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Sleepless in Manhatten by Sarah Morgan

Published by MIRA in paperback and eBook
10th March 2016 - £7.99
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


“What if the person who broke your heart, is the only one who can help you find your future?

Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on the perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige and her two best friends, Frankie and Eva, are let go from Star Events.

Paige has two choices: she can either find a new job and a new dragon-like boss or she can take the biggest risk of her life and start her own business.  

Her brother’s best friend Jake – a successful businessman and notorious playboy – might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after and the mortifying moment when he rejected her naive advances still haunts her. Paige is determined not to repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that is missing from her perfect New York life: the perfect New York love story…”
My Review

I loved reading this book, it's the kind of book to be devoured in one sitting. The characters were believable and I loved the friendship between Paige, Frankie and Eva. I particularly liked that they worked together too and complemented each other in how different they are. I'm looking forward to reading Frankie and Eva's stories in the rest of the 'From Manhatten with Love' trilogy.

The relationship between Paige and Jake was great too, really romantic with lots of tension between them when they challenged each other. I enjoyed the history the two of them had together.

This is one of my favourite books by Sarah Morgan yet. 5 out of 5 from me.

About Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan writes warm contemporary romantic fiction which has gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 and 2013. Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying. Visit Sarah online at www.sarahmorgan.com and on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 31st 2015 by Fig Tree (first published February 16th 2015)
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley


"1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother's grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change.

Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared. And so her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.

Peggy is not seen again for another nine years.

1985: Peggy has returned to the family home. But what happened to her in the forest? And why has she come back now?"

My Review

This is quite a mysterious book which builds up the tension well. However, Peggy is an unreliable narrator and she left me confused at times, which I imagine was the author's intention.

There is some beautiful writing in this book with very vivid descriptions. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where Peggy learns to play the silent piano. The cover of this book is stunning as well.

This book is dark and haunting, I felt sad for Peggy's lost childhood.

Unfortunately, I read this a few months ago and I have found that it hasn't stayed with me very well. As a result, I would give this 3 out of 5.

This book is available on Amazon in HardbackPaperback and Kindle.

About the Author

Claire Fuller trained as a sculptor before working in marketing for many years. In 2013 she completed an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester, and wrote her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days. It has been published in the UK by Fig Tree (Penguin), in the US by Tin House, in Canada by House of Anansi and in Israel and Taiwan. It will be published in a further four countries. Our Endless Numbered Days won the 2015 Desmond Elliott prize.

Claire's second novel, Swimming Lessons will be published in early 2017.

The Birthday That Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

Published January 28th 2016 by HarperImpulse
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


"She wanted a birthday surprise, just not the one she got…

The last thing Sally Summers expected from her husband on her special day was that he’d leave her for a Latvian lap dancer half her age. So with her world in tatters, Sally jets off to Turkey for some sun, sea and sanctuary.

The Blue Bay resort brings new friends and the perfect balm for Sally’s broken heart in gorgeous Dubliner James. He’s just the birthday present she needs. And when the chemistry between them continues to spark as the holiday ends, Sally wonders if this is more than just a summer fling.

But James has scars of his own and Sally isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. This birthday might have changed everything, but what will the next one bring?"

My Review

This is my new favourite book by Debbie Johnson, it was hilarious and made me laugh out loud so much my boyfriend had to keep asking what was going on! Sally is a warm character with a difficult family, her daughter in particular is a nightmare of teenage hormones and bad attitude. Sally reminds me of an older Bridget Jones in that trouble seems to follow her around but she will always make the best of a bad situation.

An emotional tale of friendship, heartbreak and learning to love yourself, it brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. 

I loved this book and highly recommend it. 5 out of 5 from me.

It is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format.

About the Author

Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime - which is as confusing as it sounds! Her first humorous contemporary romance, Cold Feet At Christmas, a seasonal tale of snow-bound fun, was released by HarperImpulse last year, and became an Amazon top ten best-seller. You can also find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books. Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK. Debbie blogs at www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com. She lives with her family in Merseyside and is available to write features.