Friday, 1 November 2019

Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
ISBN: 978-0-151-38866-3
Publisher: Penguin

Rating: 4/5

Think you're too old for fairy tales? Think again!

It's been a while since I blogged - life got in the way, although I have been reading....this one is worth a blog post!

This is Alice's story, a girl with the most phenomenal bad luck who tries to stay one step ahead...until her grandmother whom she's never met dies, and her mother is stolen away.

I couldn't put this book down! I found Alice to be a fiesty, spirited character, and I adore Finch her friend, who comes across as a sweet loyal fan boy in spite of his families wealth and obvious relationship neglect. I don't want to ruin the storyline, but this had me wondering where on earth the author was going and then realising that it was all as it was meant to be....although maybe my thought that Alice and Finch might be more than friends could have gone somewhere....I also felt that some actions should have consequences, but that everything worked out as best it could...

This was an absorbing read - I enjoy Andrew Lang's fairy stories, along with Grimm's Fairy Tales. I think Melissa Albert has managed to bring her own spin on fairy telling to life just as enjoyably.

Footnote; this particular book found its way into my hands thanks to the Open Access service of our local library - like a kid in a sweet shop!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Review: Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Title: Resurrection Bay
Author: Emma Viskic
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Published: 24th August 2017
ISBN: 978-1782273622

Rating 3.5/5

This is a debut crime novel by an Australian author.

The main character is Caleb Zelic, his main characteristic is that he has hearing difficulties, which put an interesting dynamic on the story.  When Caleb's best friend is murdered and Caleb is literally left holding the body, Caleb starts his quest to find who killed his friend with the aid of his business partner, Frankie, together they run a security and investigative business.

I found this to be an easy to follow and quick read.  The story line doesn't give much away and the ending is not one I saw coming...the suspense was fairly well built throughout the book, but I felt it wasn't woven enough..  There weren't really that many suspects for Caleb's friends murder, but it still is a kick in the teeth when the sting in the tail comes (I really don't want to give the ending away...) For that reason alone I think its worth a read, and an author to keep tabs on.

Overall for a crime novel, it isn't that gritty or dark.  It does give you insight of the characters throughout the book but I didn't really feel characters had much substance.  I enjoyed the different stance on the sometimes seemingly shy and awkward investigator as Caleb tries to hide his disability which sometimes isn't helpful in finding the murderer.  

Book synopsis:
Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.

This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.
Source - Many thanks to the publishers, a copy was received in return for an honest review

Monday, 11 November 2013

Winter's Child by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Graheme Baker-Smith

Title: Winter’s Child
Author: Angela McAllister
Illustrator: Grahame Baker-Smith
ISBN: 978 184 877 5459
Publisher: Templar
Published: 1st October 2013
RRP: £12.99

Rating: 5/5

The cover on Winter’s Child gives you an insight into just how much detail has gone into the book and its illustrations.  We absolutely loved FArTHER which was also illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith.

I really wish you could bottle the reactions which were visible on our youngest's face as he turned each page in anticipation of the next magical delight.  Our youngest was in awe of the illustrations in this book.  The quality and detail of the illustrations had him exclaiming in delight before he’d started to read…which also had him more involved in the story as this visual feast continued.

As an adult watching my child reading this out loud to me – it was the first time he’d shown excitement to this level in reading and it’s lovely to see and I hope this encourages him to keep on reading as he does struggle as times.  The only downside (which is why this missed out on a merit rating) is because on one page although the colours used are absolutely gorgeous and do convey the night time scene in which it takes place, I found it difficult to see the black lettering on the blue background, which is a shame, and the only point at which I had difficulty at the book – this didn’t stop our youngest though, so maybe it was just my tired old eyes!!

Overall I highly recommend this book.  It would make a superb gift.  It is about a child who matures through the season whilst still playing but doing his best for his elderly Nana.  It tells of friendships and hardships.  On a visual level the illustrations will take your breath away.  They really must be seen.  So much work must have gone into each and every page.  The typescript used at the beginning of each part is eye catching.  This is a book that would be cherished and poured over time after time, and earns it place alongside FaRTHER as a timeless book for the beautiful illustrations and story.

Source: A copy of Winter's Child was recieved in return for an honest review.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Title: Hysteria
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: Feb 2013
ISBN: 978-1408834848

Rating: 4.5/5

I’ve seen both the US and the UK book covers for this, and prefer by far the UK one, I just don’t see anything interesting in a girl in a dress holding up a picture frame..the UK one is more attention grabbing imo.

Where do I start with this?  What seems to be an open-shut case of a girl stabbing her boyfriend progresses into far more in Hysteria when Mallory is sent to Monroe Prep boarding school; something or someone is following her.  Can she remember that night or will she end up going insane?  Mallory can’t remember what happened the night she stabbed Brian, so along with the building suspense, Mallory is also trying to remember.

Mallory goes to the same school her father attended decades before and recognises Reid from her father’s alumni meetings.  I watched as Mallory tried to integrate into a society who already knew her history and what she’d done.  Colleen is a faithful friend, and is so girly!

My favourite character in this is Reid; who shows his vulnerability at his father’s funeral and he is the main support for Mallory when she’s at Monroe Prep, as he doesn’t give up on her regardless what his peers think of her.

This story tilts so many times, and each time it made sense and seemed very realistic and spine chilling.  I didn’t guess the extent of the story which is masterfully told, although some part of this had me wanting to shake Mallory to her senses and remember her past clearly.

Book synopsis:
Mallory's life is falling apart. Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can't remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear . . . When Mallory's parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There's the hand that touches her shoulder when she's drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory's name is on their lips. Her past can be forgotten but it's never gone. Can Mallory live with that?

Source – Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley, an ecopy was received in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Review and Giveaway of Shadow of Time by Jen Minkman

Welcome to the next stop on Shadow of Time's blog tour.  Enter to win your own paper back copy (UK) or ebook (worldwide) after the review

Title: Shadow of Time
Author: Jen Minkman
Publisher: Indie
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978 1480242234

Rating: 3/5

The font used on the title is what first drew my attention to this book, as well as the colours used.

Hannah is retreating to her mums holiday hideaway where her brother Ben stays.  On the way she fills up for petrol and stumbles across a mysterious, drop dead gorgeous guy – who happens to be around the same age as her brother.  Hannah’s personality had me in stitches as she came across as a bumbling teenager when she first meets him and then analyses every thing she says and did, so funny!  It isn’t until Ben brings his childhood friend, Josh round, that she realises it was Josh she met at the petrol station.

Josh isn’t all he says he is – and sometimes its frustrating to read as he tries to distance himself from Hannah for an unknown reason, which we find out as the story progresses.  
I did work out a few things before Hannah did, such as the true friendship between Ben and Josh.  The tension and thrill of the storyline and the unknown threat to Hannah kept the story a page turner, as Hannah (and us) are left in the dark for a while until Josh slowly starts to share his story with her, and Hannah realises the implications of her nightmares and dreams.

I think this is a fairly well thought out book.  The only thing I wasn’t too keen on was how easy it was to defeat their common enemy after all the history that had gone before, it just seemed a bit too convenient for me.

I adored the backdrop for this and the heritage and history that went into making the storyline, which felt authentic.  I can’t help but wonder who would play these characters if it made it to film – I see it as a cross between Dancing with Wolves and The Time Travellers Wife.

Book synopsis:
All Hannah needs is a nice and quiet vacation after her first year of teaching French at a high school. She joins her brother Ben for the summer in their mom’s log cabin in Arizona. There, she meets Josh again, Ben’s childhood friend from the Navajo reservation. The little boy from the rez has grown up fast, and Hannah can’t help but feeling more for him than just friendship.

But fate apparently has something else in store for her. And it’s not peace and quiet. Night after night, Hannah is plagued by strange nightmares about the past of Navajo Nation and terrifying shadows chasing her. They seem to come closer – and why is Josh always present in her dreams?

Sometimes, the past has a way of catching up with you

Source – Many thanks to Jen, a copy was received for an honest review.

Jen is giving away two copies of the Shadow of Time, just fill in the appropriate Rafflecopter form and a winner will be chosen at random.  One is a physical copy – open to UK residents, and the other is open to everyone else worldwide in ebook format.

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 11 January 2013

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers @audioGO_UK

Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Narrator: Caroline Ramsay
Duration: 11hrs  51mins

Rating: 3/5
This review is based on the AudioGo MP3 version.  

The audio begins with 17 year old Ismae being married off by her father to a beast of a man.  Her father is cruel and this comes across loud and clear through the audio book at the start – he’s chosen the roughest tyrant of a man for his daughter to marry.  Ismae has always been treated badly and is an outcast by default as she is said to be born of blood after her mother tried to poison her whilst she was in the womb. 

Ismae’s fate then turns – she is taken under the wing of a convent who train her to become Death’s Assassin.  This does challenge pre-conceptions of how I viewed convents!!  Ismaes second assignment sees her having on the job training as she goes into Court and tries to keep the Duchess safe from harm.  What she doesn’t bargain for is falling in love, which is forbidden.

The storyline in places was a bit too dragged out – but I think that was more to do with the story rather than the audio version of it.  I did get a bit fed up with the Duchy and the politics surrounding everything she could or couldn’t do.  It wasn’t really a surprise who Ismae fell in love with, but there are still plot twists which I didn’t forsee.

It took me about half a chapter to get used to Caroline Ramsay’s narrative on the audio.  The first chapter we see Ismae as a meek yet quietly strong character; unable to control her own fate or have a say in it.  As the story progresses, so does Caroline Ramsay’s personification of Ismae, and all the other characters she comes into contact with.  I had to remind myself throughout the audio that it was only one narrator, as each character was given a very distinctive voice just for themselves, so it really felt like I was listening to a play with different actors rather than a sole narrator, which was very effective.

What made listening to this so addictive was the narrators telling of the story.  It felt so animated that I couldn’t help but be sucked into the characters and the storyline.  In retrospect though I think it could have been slightly shorter without compromising too much of the storyline as it did feel long in places.  I love the cover on this as well - the title jumps out at you and begs you to listen to it!

Audio synopsis:
Escaping from the brutality of an arranged marriage, 17-year-old Ismae finds sanctuary at the convent of St. Mortain. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts - and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must be willing to take the lives of others. Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany where she finds herself woefully underprepared - for how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart? A dangerous romance for young adults, full of intrigue, poison and passion.

Source – Many thanks to, an audio was received in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Review: The Chamber by Howard Gordon

Title: The Chamber
Author: Howard Gordon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: January 2012
ISBN: 978 085720 0952

Rating: 2.5/5

I like the color of the cover on this, along with the contrast of the red title.

Gideon Davis launches his own investigation when someone comes to him with details of a terrorist attack in the USA.
He enlists the help of his brother, Tillman, who the FBI has distanced themselves from after using him.  What follows is a race against time as Gideon and Tillman work together to prevent a major terrorist attack on home soil and at the heart of America.

The Chamber kept me up well into the early hours reading as time passed so quickly. Although this is down as a thriller, once you knew the plot which was taking place there wasn’t much guess work left to fill the story, so it became less of a thriller and more like a race against time.  It made me very squeamish in places, especially when one of the terrorists showed her love of taxidermy on a living hostage <shudder>...not pleasant...not an image I wanted at one o’clock in the morning, another reason why I kept reading (to get past it!!)

Personally I think this would fare better on screen than how it came across in the book as it plays out like a movie and would look good visually imo.

Book synopsis:
Angered when the Joint Terrorism Task Force ignores evidence of an impending terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Gideon Davis is left with only one option - to launch his own investigation. Enlisting the help of his brother, Tillman, to infiltrate Colonel Jim Verhoven's white supremacist group, Gideon is thrown into the thick of a revenge plot designed not only to overthrow the government but bring an end to democracy itself. But when things get messy and the brothers are forced to play along with Verhoven's plan in order to avoid detection, they'll need the help of Nancy Clement, Gideon's old FBI colleague, if they are to slot the final piece of the puzzle into place and prevent disaster.

Source-  A copy was received in return for an honest review.