Category Archives: April

Across the Globe | The Leavers | Blog Tour

Hi, Hello, Hey!

Have you ever read a book that surprised you?

You picked it up and had a kinda ‘meh’ feeling and then before you know it, you’re greedily eating it all up in one sitting.

The Leavers was that kinda book for me.

Blurb

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice. 

This book is seriously written well. The descriptions, the feelings thread into every sentence. It grips you, makes you take notice of what’s being said, what the characters are feeling and what they’re going through.

The Leavers takes place in two different places; America and China. Through different times; the past and current events. And with two different points of view, Deming (or Daniel) predominantly, but with chapters from his mum’s (Polly) point of view.

The gist of the story: Deming lives with his Mum, ‘Step-dad’, ‘Aunt’ and ‘Cousin’ in a cramped flat in New York. One day his mum leaves for work and never comes home. Weeks later, Deming’s step-father leaves and Deming is put into foster care and they change his name to Daniel. Fast forward a good few years and Daniel is obsessed with music and not so much with school, to the dismay of his foster-parents. He also has a bit of a gambling habit, so all in all, his life is in a bit of turmoil. Out of the blue, his cousin get’s in touch about his missing mum and Daniel goes on a journey to find out what happened many years before, all whilst finding his own path.

This book covers immigration into America and the working and living conditions for the immigrants. Daniel, for example, is subject to this all through his schooling and we see how this affects him as the book goes on.

It’s lovely to find a new author or a book that takes you completely by surprise, and you really enjoy it. Once I read the first few chapters, I rushed to the end, wanting to see what would happen and if any more doorways to the past would be opened.

I’m a sucker for a happy ending, so I’m glad that it ends well. Loose-ends have been tied and readers leave the characters in a better place.

Be sure to follow along with the rest of #TheLeavers blog tour on Twitter and do check the book out – it’s a really good read!

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Boarding Schools are Deadly | S.T.A.G.S | A Review

I feel like summer is finally here. The sun is shining, the windows are open, there’s no clouds in the sky.

And what do I do?

Sit inside and read.

Typical.

Today I’m reviewing S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett. A YA book set in a presitigous boarding school where 3 students get invited to go ‘Huntin’, Fishin’ and Shootin’ with the populars one weekend. But all is not what it seems.

Blurb

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

Netgalley Review

What a strange yet wonderful book. The concept is pretty scary but pretty well thought out. It’s fast-paced and we’re introduced to how the school works, from the point of view of an outsider. A really gripping read!

Instantly this book reminds me of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I have yet to read this, but having been recommended it and reading the blurb and other reviews, I think it’s quite alike.

The school creeped me out slightly, I mean the way it was centred on this event that happened and the uniforms that both the students and teachers had to way. It was very much controlled – there was no way of being an individual and I guess this is what the book focuses on.

The description of the school and various grounds looms over the book, like an ever growing shadow of whats to come. The spookiness surrounding the story adds to the mystery and terror the new students, or outcasts, must feel.

The book is very fast paced, as soon as the students leave the school grounds, we’re thrust into a Cat and Mouse kinda game as Greer finds herself unravelling a unsolved mystery, a right of passage for outcasts to the school.

An interesting read for those that love a good mystery, but the ending is a bit of a shock. This is one story that won’t be all tied up in a neat knot!

As always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve read the book and what you thought about it. And if you haven’t, will you be adding it to your TBR?

On Being Happy | Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index | A Review

We all need a little reminder sometimes. A reminder to look on the good side and be grateful for all the little things.

The Spring Flowers.

A Hug.

Coffee smells in the morning.

This book is lovely in reminding us to focus on the little things even when life seems permanently grey.

Blurb

It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.

Then she finds the love letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to “You,” but never sent. Desperate to learn You’s identity and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.

Until she loses something. A card from her Happiness Index: a ritual started by sunny Camie for logging positives each day. It’s what’s been holding Juniper together since her death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own dark secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.

The search for You and her card take Juniper to even less expected places, and as she connects with those whose secrets she upturns in the effort, she may just find the means to make peace with her own.

This is a smart, funny, poignant book guaranteed to make you laugh and cry – and maybe even take notes.

The above sentence is so true, the book is funny and will definitely make you think. It may also make you cry and probably laugh.

Juniper is in the midst of a grey fog, having lost her sister before heading back to school, she feels lost and sad. Her sister was a big part of her happiness.

After losing her Happiness index one day, Juniper starts on a quest to find it, by dumpster diving. Here, Juniper finds other pieces of paper, filled with thoughts, feelings and problems. This leads to Juniper finding her own little gang of misfits, all whilst working through her own grief.

It’s a wonderful YA book all about grief and how great friends, and family, can always help you work through anything. And that through the good times, it’s best to remember the happy times.

As always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve read the book and what you thought of it. And if you haven’t, will you be adding it to your TB?

 

Have Faith, Little One | Starfish | Blog Tour

Today I’m taking part in the Blog Tour for Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, a beautifully designed book cover with a heartfelt story and strong-ass message all wrapped into this corker of a book.

Blurb

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

 

AkemiAuthorPhoto4About the Author

Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster) and Summer Bird Blue (Fall 2018). She’s a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix. She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.

 

I actually cried a lot at this book.

And that does not happen.

I read the book with a pencil in my hand (I couldn’t quite use a highlighter), to underline things I wanted to remember, things that resonated with me.

This book is wonderfully written, filled with quotable lines and feel-good moments. Those little snippets will have you forgetting that the underlying theme for this book is brash and harsh against the artistic backdrop.

As mentioned above, the cover is gorgeous and totally reflects the inside of the book. The starfish plays a big part in the story and you’ll find out as you read later into the book.

The book centres around teenager Kiko, at a time when she is applying to colleague and hoping to get into the Art school of her dreams – Prism.

Kiko suffers with mental health – social anxiety, low self-esteem and her childhood has been extremely difficult. (Just a note: if you’re triggered by (sexual) abuse, this probably isn’t the book for you). Akemi explores the theme of race throughout the book, as Kiko is half-Asian and she feels different to everyone else – which is made worse by generally being a teenager. Her mum is also a major confidence basher, to both Kiko and her brothers, and that makes life for Kiko just that much harder.

Insert Jamie; a childhood friend that invites her to take a bit of a road trip, looking at other art schools and generally learning a few things about herself along the way. Basically that she’s amazing and she should have more confidence in herself and her art.

There’s love, loss, hope and darkness, all thrust into this tiny book, that will have readers on the edge of their seats, cheering on Kiko as she learns to find her way and stand on her own two feet.

This book is wonderful.

Be sure to follow along with the rest of the blog tour below, and please do add this book to your TBR!

Starfish blog tour banner FINAL

If You Dreamed of Being a Princess… | Undercover Princess | A Review

It’s finally April and yet Spring is nowhere to be seen. We’re struck with slightly warmer weather and rain – how miserable! (Note: I wrote this at the start of the week when all it seemed to do is rain, now we are blessed with blue skies and a bit of sun – I wonder how long that’ll last?)

Okay, enough talk about the weather.

Blurb

When fairy tale obsessed Lottie Pumpkin starts at the infamous Rosewood Hall, she is not expecting to share a room with the Crown Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolf. Due to a series of lies and coincidences, 14-year-old Lottie finds herself pretending to be the princess so that Ellie can live a more normal teenage life.

Lottie is thrust into the real world of royalty – a world filled with secrets, intrigue and betrayal. She must do everything she can to help Ellie keep her secret, but with school, the looming Maradovian ball and the mysterious new boy Jamie, she’ll soon discover that reality doesn’t always have the happily ever after you’d expect…

A thrilling world of parties, politics and bad ass princesses, this is the first book in the brand new series THE ROSEWOOD CHRONICLES.

I received this book last year to review and it completely slipped my mind (sorry!).

I read a few of the Princess Diaries books when I was a teen and this book reminds me so much of those. Also, if you ever dreamed of being a Princess then you’ll like this read.

The cover is very pretty, and it’s one of those that will catch your eye. The soft lilac and whimsical feel fits right for a book about a princess and a girl that dreams of being a part of a fairy tale.

The start of the book reminds me of a fairy tale – Cinderella to be exact. The girl is an orphan and lives with a less than helpful family member, and a tad ridiculous surname (which the author makes a note of throughout the book). I guess a big difference is the lack of a love interest that will whisk the main character away, (although there are a few hints of crushing throughout the book). Lottie works hard to earn her place in a prestigious school, and that’s when the adventures begin.

There’s a bit of a mystery to the book. What’s going on and who know’s Ellie’s (and now Lottie’s) big secret? The characters are fun and Connie takes the time to describe the school and grounds. We’re gifted a full school year, full of adventure and sneaking out of dorms for the two friends; Ellie and Lottie, and finally ending with a Royal Ball.

This book sets up the start of the series, so we’re given a lot of information. Lottie, Ellie, Lottie’s role (you’ll find out what it is if you read the book) and what will be happening in the next book.

This would be a good read for young girls that dreamed of being a Princess, or if you’d like to read something with a hint of mystery.

As always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve read the book and what you thought. And if you haven’t, will you be adding it to your TBR?

 

The Fox was here | We All Begin as Strangers | A Review

Afternoon guys!

Today I’m reviewing a Netgalley proof, We All Begin as Strangers.

Blurb

It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary village of Heathcote.

What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘the Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.

When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes the Fox is responsible.

For the worried residents, finding Anna will be difficult – but stopping the Fox from exposing their darkest secrets might just be impossible…

I read this book on my kindle and felt it was a rather large book, maybe it was me? It took me a while to get into it, specially the first few chapters. However, once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down!

It’s a really interesting story, filled with many twists and turns as you try and find out what happened to one of the main characters. It’s very much like a mystery story, with a rather large mystery!

The ending is another surprising one, it’s definitely not what you would expect, and to me, I felt I couldn’t guess the ending or what would happen – but you guys might?

As always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve read the book and what you thought of it, and if not, add it to your TBR!

So much Blood | Let the Dead Speak | A Review

It’s my final Netgalley review of the month guys and can you believe it’s going to be the first of May tomorrow? I surely can’t!

I’m reviewing another crime/thriller book today, Let the Dead Speak.

Blurb

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic facade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

Netgalley Review

An interesting and confusing read. Confusing in a good way! We’re introduced to very complex and interesting characters and we don’t find out the answer until the end, but then there’s more! A great read for lovers of crime and mystery!

This is another one of those books where it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the previous books in the series, and I like that. It does make me want to add more of the series onto my HUGE TBR though!

As mentioned above, I found this read really interesting and a bit confusing at time – though confusing in a good way!

Each character is complex and interesting, giving you a bit more of the jigsaw at each chapter, leading you in different ways until the end.

This book will have you guessing right up to the end. Unless, of course, you’re a pro at reading these crime/mystery fictions!

As always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve read the book and what you thought of it, and if you haven’t and love crime/mystery books, then please do check it out!