Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

Summer Bird Blue – Blog Tour

35716237.jpgSummer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Rating: XXXX

Published: April 4th by Ink Road

“Becasue it turns out music isn’t just keeping me alive – It’s keeping Lea alive too.”

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying. What to eat, where to go, who to love. But one thing she is sure of she wants to spend her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea. Then Lea dies in a car accident, and Rumi is sent to live with her aunt in Hawaii. Now, miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, feeling abandoned by her mother, and the aching absence of music. With the help of the “boys next door” teenage surfer Kai, who doesn’t take anything too seriously, and old George Watanabe, who succumbed to grief years ago Rumi seeks her way back to music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish. With unflinching honesty, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.

After reading and falling in love with Starfish and Akemi’s writing last year I have been SO excited to read her newest book Summer Bird Blue, the story of Rumi Seto grieving for her sister and trying to navigate her feelings and learning how to live her life again. I know I always mention this, but I don’t read a lot of contemporary books and was more than happy to break out of my norm to read this. I was lucky enough to be gifted an early finished copy from the lovely people at Ink Road Books and invited to take part in the blog tour 💙

I decided as this is a blog tour post I would spice it up a little so before we get to my review I want to play a little game. In Summer Bird Blue Rumi and Lea love to write songs together so I’m going to show you how to create your own using a book!

1. Pick your favourite book OR count along your bookcase or e-reader library etc until you get to your age and pick the book you finish on. I’m going to use Summer Bird Blue.

2. Take that book and look at the blurb and note down the word of the first three sentences or close your eyes and pick three words at random. This is the title of your song. (If there is no blurb then you can use the first three chapter names or three words to describe the cover perhaps?)

3. Next use your date of birth to choose which pages you’ll use to hunt for song lyrics. You can pick any two lines from each page or the first and last. I.e for me, my birthday is 25/12/1988 so I would use pages, 25, 12, 19 and 88. (Edit: page 12 is blank so going to pick the closest one with words)

4. Write them down in any order you like, it can make as much or as little sense as you like.

5. Your song is now complete! What kind of song do you think it is? A rock ballad? A punk-pop hit? Maybe it has a country feel to it? Let me know in the comments of you try it out! You can check mine about below:

Help Grief Sister

“Happy Birthday,” I say
The only thing dark in Hawaii is me
I feel like I hate everyone
A wish is a wish after all
I’ll never be able to reach her, not really
I’m not sure I understand what any of it means
I almost forgot what this felt like – to be lost in the music
“Is she going to stop?” I ask.

Summer Bird Blue is a powerfully evocative, intensely beautiful and heartbreaking story. At its core it feels a little like a coming of age over the summer kind of story but is so much more and although I am fortunate enough to be unable to imagine anything close to the all-consuming guilt Rumi feels and therefore cannot comment much on the accuracy of those emotions I feel like there are messages throughout this book for everyone, whether they have lost someone or not. It teaches a lot about grief but also mental health, confidence in yourself and others, identity (sexuality or otherwise) and feeling comfortable in your own skin as well as being able to let yourself rely on others and being there for them in return not to mention family, the good and the bad.

Akemi has absolutely hit the nail on the head with her second novel, it’s a brilliant mix of heartbreak and hope. I cried at this book a lot and in under ten pages – this book does not pull its punches. But although I can remember each and every moment that made me cry and hurt for Rumi and her family I can remember so much happiness too. There are some fantastic, organic moments throughout the book that just make it feel so real and make you really remember the good moments in spite of the painful ones and I think it’s an amazing parallel to a great approach to life, things can be bad and painful but we can’t let ourselves forget the good too.

Every single character in this book is memorable and I love them all. Kai is the most perfect male character I think I have ever read. I’m not saying he’s perfect because he’s gorgeous and can do no wrong, he feels perfect because he is flawed and he has problems like we all do and he doesn’t always deal with them in the best ways but that is life and I love him so much. I also love Mr Watanabe, who again I love more because of his flaws, he is quite possibly my favourite character in this book and maybe in any contemporary book I’ve ever read, he is an absolute gem. I also learnt about Hawaiin pidgin which a lot of the Hawaiin characters speak, first of all, I thought it was a written as it sounds accent kind of thing but then looked into further and realised it was its own language of sorts. I stumbled over reading it to begin with but it quickly became second nature and I really loved it.

Considering a fair amount of this book, especially the first half, is rather internal it moves really well. The internal parts are often scattered with memories of Rumi and her sister which helps to break it up some and everything else just moves in such a way that it feels really balanced. I found it really hard to put this book down and read it in about two days which is pretty fast for me and the poor book suffered from spine wrinkles which from me is a sign of an enjoyed book. I feel like I’ve been on holiday to Hawaii for the past five weeks and learned some important life lessons, I think this is definitely a book I’ll revisit in the summer.

Thank you so much to Ink Road books for my gifted early copy in exchange for an honest review and for having me on today’s stop for the blog tour! I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and if you’d like to check out more stops on the tour you can find them all in the graphic below!

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Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee

40645629Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Rating: XXX

Published: March 7th 2019 by Andersen

“I want to keep living in this moment forever…take the hourglass and lay it on its side.”

Josie and Delia are best friends and co-hosts on their own public access TV show, Midnite Matinee. They dress as vampires Rayne and Delilah, perform daft skits involving skeleton raves and dog weddings, and introduce the weekly so-bad-it’s-good low-budget horror movie. But the end of senior year is coming, and Josie is torn between pursuing her television dreams in a new city or staying making TV with her BFF. What’s more, she’s just met a boy, Lawson, who is totally not her type, but is just a little bit intriguing . . . Meanwhile, Delia is searching for her dad, who walked out on her and her mom ten years ago. When the private investigator she hired unearths his contact details, she agonises over digging up the past.

A road trip to ShiverCon, a convention for horror filmmakers, may just have the answers the two need – but will Josie and Delia be prepared for life taking some seriously unexpected plot-twists?

I was gifted an early finished copy of Rayne and Delilah’s midnite Matinee by the lovely people at Andersen Press, alongside a lovely box of snacks perfect for film watching, in exchange for an honest review. As you quite possibly already know if you’ve been reading my blog for a little while, I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary books but when I heard about this one I knew it was for me. When I still lived at home with my parents, me, my best friend and my mum would watch scary or crappy films together all night on Saturday or Sunday night. We did this for years, even for a little while after I moved out and it’s only been the past four years since I had my son that we haven’t really found the time to be able to do so. I figured this book would recapture some of that and it did but at the same time told it’s own story.

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Rayne and Deliah’s Midnite Matinee is a bit of everything you would expect in a YA contemporary novel, there’s a strong friendship that is tested by what life throws at it, lessons to be learnt, hard choices to be made and a little bit of romance. The friendship dynamic between Josie and Delia felt off balance but I almost kind of liked that about them, on paper they probably shouldn’t work and it shows that often times they don’t but they care about each other enough to try and work through their differences. I did find I came to favour Delia much more than Josie and as a result, I was often angry at Josie and felt horrid for the situation Delia was stuck in. It’s certainly a complex friendship and a difficult message to convey about following your dreams, taking risks and really thinking about the consequences of your choices.

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For me personally I actually really enjoyed a lot of the ‘supporting’ characters, Delia’s mother in particular (and their relationship) was a chracters I found myself hugely invested in, not to mention Arliss and of course the real star of this book, Lawson. Obviously, this isn’t really his story but he quickly became my favourite thing about this book, his character feels complex, possibly more so than Josie, he has wants and goals of his own and he’s just so damn sweet and understanding. I could honestly go on about him for the whole of this review.

As for the overall plot, there were some slow moments, some emotional moments but also the occasional annoying moment when a character (usually Josie) really got on my nerves. By the end, we do get a few moments that feel genuinely tense but for the most part, the last third is absoloutley crackers and super over the top. The ending is however totally redeemed for me by the conclusion, where each character ends up, emotionally and physically by the end warmed my heart and gave me a terrible idea…

A month or so ago after I finished reading Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee, me and my mum found time, we gathered snacks, we picked films (well I let mum pick films because I’m a coward), turned off the lights, turned up the surround sound (which is evil) and sat down to watch some “scary” films. In a moment of weakness, I figured we’d film our reactions as an extra bit to spice up this blog tour post. Apparently, I scream and yell a lot while my mum laughs at me and this is what I missed the most about our evenings together, just being silly and hanging out with my mum while we watch terrible special effects, succumb to jump scares and stuff our faces.

(The good stuff, i.e the screaming and jumping starts around 6:06. I will not judge for skipping me and my mum chatting about horror films for six minutes.)

We all love some cruddy films, I personally adore Jupiter Ascending and would watch that garbage fire of writing, croaky yet shouty Eddie Redmayne and questionable dog person any day. Also, did I mention Sean Bean is a bee person? Because yeah. Either way, there’s always something we love that is not considered to be good but we love it in spite of or maybe because of that. Below author of Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee has written a review for one of this favourite ‘bad’ films and another one that my family have taken to watching every year, Polar Express.

Polar Express is a modern holiday classic and, it must be said, a very bad movie.
Let’s get the most obvious observation out of the way: the characters in this movie
look like garbage. They’re walking nightmares with the dead, glassy eyes of
reanimated corpses. Never before has something intended to be cute so badly
misfired.
Let’s talk about Tom Hanks for a second. This won’t win me any friends: I like Tom
Hanks in maybe half of what he’s ever done. I hated Forrest Gump. He does the
worst Southern accent on the planet, next to Kevin Spacey, but aside from ill-advised
YouTube videos, I think we’re pretty much done hearing it. It’s his cellmate’s problem
soon.
Back to Tom Hanks. He inexplicably plays every adult in this movie and he’s terrible
in every role. He’s a massive prick as the train conductor. Like, seriously, you’re
going to throw a kid off the magic train because they don’t have a ticket? It’s not like
they paid for the ticket, so WTF do you care? You plucked them from their house in
the middle of the night and then you’re going to abandon them in the snowy tundra
because they don’t have a ticket? Why did you stop to pick them up? But his
awfulness as the train conductor is nothing compared to his ghastliness as the ghost
hobo. Why is he playing a hurdy-gurdy? What a bizarre choice. Also, his “Santa
Claus” impression is as frightening as anything that’s ever been committed to film.
Don’t even get me started on how hard he laughs at his own leering joke about
looking for a girl. He sounds like he’s talking about looking for a girl to murder and
wear her skin.
This movie is all over the place tonally. There’s that hot chocolate song-and-dance
scene, which rules, but it also sets you up to think, “oh this is gonna be some kind of
musical with spectacular choreographic set pieces.” But nope! There’s one more
sorta subdued song and that’s it. It’s like they did “hot chocolate” and they were like
“wow, that was entirely too much work.” And then there are the two goofy train

conductor guys who look like cartoon characters amidst the other zombie characters.
They’ve come straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
I’ve seen this movie probably nine times. The scene where the Polar Express goes
down that steep grade puts my stomach in my throat every time. The scene where
the ticket flies out of the train and ends up back in it? Makes my heart soar. This
movie is terrible. I absolutely love it.

Thank you so much to Andersen Press for my gifted copy and including me in this fun blog tour! Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour which you can find in the graphic below.

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Do you have a favourite ‘bad’ film, tv show or book? Tell me more about it! Tell me what makes you love it so much and what makes it so terrible at the same time.

 

 

 

Blog Tours, Tags

Moxie Book Tag

I hope you’re enjoying Fierce Female Reads February and have been enjoying all of the posts from all the lovely bloggers taking part! Today is my turn and I present to you my Moxie Book tag to celebrate our chosen book for the Fierce Female Reads February read-a-thon!

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35383830Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Published:

Rating; XXXX

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates 
Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

TIME TO FIGHT LIKE A GIRL

A page-turning read with a feminist message, for anyone who has ever had to deal with #everydaysexism

“This is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word. After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.”

Girls Supporting Girls –Your Favourite female friendship.

Delia and Josie from Rayne and Delilah’s Midnight Matinee by Jeff Zentner, win this one easily. The compliment each other so well, they know how to interpret each other and wants best for their friend. They have their disagreements, as do any friends, but they never stop caring for each other and come to understand the choices each of them has to make for themselves and the path it leads them on, even if it’s apart. (My review for this is coming so soon so keep an eye out for it if you like the sound of this!)

“And you telling me not all guys are like that doesn’t really help me feel better. Because some guys are like that. A lot of them, actually.”

Seth –A book that problems, maybe it made you angry or you just hated it but it worked out in the end.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart, by Katherine Webber. First off I want to say that this book is amazing and got a XXXXX from me in my spoiler-free review but I had a hard time reading the first half to three quarters or so because the main characters and their relationship made me SO MAD. This is intentional, they are not a healthy relationship and a lot of the things they do and ways they act are vile but I feel this is the point, we are only human, we all make mistakes, we can all be selfish and horrid and this book really delves into that and is about recognising that and understanding it. I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish the book but I’m so very glad I did.

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“Audre Lorde quote on them. YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU.”

GRIT: Girls respecting and inspiring themselves – A book that made you feel inspired.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman is another difficult book to read in the best and most heartbreaking way. Kiko is a character that I feel like a lot of people today could see themselves in; those suffering from depression, anxiety or an unhealthy relationship with an emotionally abusive parent or children of interracial couples who aren’t considered “passing” or have trouble reconciling with their heritage as well as those who are treated differently on a day to day basis for the colour of their skin. Kiko overcomes so very much and it’s not all smooth sailing and the ending is left in a way where we know she still has hardships ahead of her but this book helped me to realise that things are hard a lot of the time and things don’t always magically get better but the way you deal with the way these things make you feel and the actions you take (or don’t) because of that, are important. This book made me aspire to do better and not give up.

“It’s easy to talk to Emma Johnson, I realize. She’s just a nice girl who goes to my high school. That’s probably all she’s ever been.”

Queen Emma – A Book that surprised you.

I’m sure we all know the story now about the time I picked up a pretty book that sounded like a cute, fluffy, fangirl style romance story in space and discovered that it was, in fact, a hair raising on the back of your neck thriller that would give me some of my first book related nightmares. That amazing book was The Loneliest Girl in the Universe! (I reread it last week and you can check out my review here)

“We are marching because those words deserve to be run over. Steam rolled. Flattened to dust. We are marching in our converse and our candy-coloured flip flops and our kitten heels, too. Our legs are moving, our arms are swinging, our mouthes are set in lines, so straight and sharp you could cut themselves on them.

Maybe we hope you do.”

Walkout – A book you just couldn’t finish.

I hate not finishing books but the last one I remember really giving up on was Big Bones by Laura Dockrill. I know a lot of people like this book, including those who, like myself, are larger ladies but I just couldn’t get on with this book. The main character made me furious, she just seemed so lazy and whiny and I some of the food descriptions made me feel genuinely sick. Apparently, it does improve but at the time I was so mad and done that I didn’t want to give it any more of my energy. This isn’t to say it’s a bad book by any means and I liked the idea that plus size ladies, especially ones who like to eat are getting rep but this just wasn’t a book for me.

“Moxie Girls Fight Back! …and hunt you down! …and remember your face! …and take names!”

Show some Moxie – Your Favourite Feminist Read.

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven is by far my favourite feminist read, it’s funny, important, inspiring, painfully eye-opening and a hell of a ride that I honestly wish everyone could and would read. (You can check out my spoiler-free review here,  which explains just how much I love this book and why I wish everyone, everywhere could read it).

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Thank you so much for checking out my Moxie book tag, I tag EVERYONE! If you want to take part in this book tag consider yourself tagged and let me in the comments if you do so I can check out your answers too! Don’t forget to check out the #FierceFemaleReads hashtag and tomorrow, February 22nd: Cait @ Functionally Fictional  will be posting her Top 10 Fierce Females With Power”

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Blog Tours

Fierce Female Reads February Announcement

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Happy Fierce Female February eve! The wonderful Ashley at Falling Down The Book Hole has brought myself and a whole host of bloggers together for the month of February to celebrate fierce females in books, TV, Film and real life! Fierce Female Reads will consist of tons of fierce female focused blog posts throughout the month (listed below), a readathon with a group read of Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, Instagram photo challenge and multiple giveaways.  Thank you so much to Ashley for putting all of this together and getting us all inspired!

Fierce Female Blog Post Tour

February 1st: Ashley @ Falling Down The Book Hole “What Defines A Fierce Female”

February 2nd: Sarah @ Bookish Rantings “10 Unexpected Fierce Female Characters”

February 3rd: Carolyn @ The Suburban Lifestyle “Everything I Know About Being A Female, I Learned From A Book”

February 4th: Allie @ Allieereads “An Exploration Of Femininity And Strength? Instagram Poetry And Female Empowerment”

February 5th: Kim @ Writer Side Of LifeFierce Females in Historical Fiction

February 6th: Ashley @ Falling Down The Book Hole “Fierce Female Recommendations From The Book Community”

February 7th: Elizabeth @ Redgal Musings “Favorite Fierce Females We Should All Fangirl Over”

February 8th: Amanda @ Classy x Book Reviews Favorite Fierce Females

February 9th: Kristen @ Timofeevbooks ” Favorite Fierce Female Characters”

February 10th: Ashley @ Falling Down The Book Hole ” Fierce Female Readathon Sign-Up & Challenge Recommendations”

February 11th: Alyssa @ Reading, Reading, Reading “Favorite Fierce Female Characters in YA”

February 12th: Laura @ Books And Geekiness “What Makes A Female Fierce”

February 13th: Ashley @ Falling Down The Book Hole ” Fierce Female Readathon TBR”

February 14th: Gel @ Whimsy Wanders ” How To Be Fiercer This Year”

February 15th: Kim @ Writer Side Of Life ” Top Female Sci Fi Writers”

February 16th: Lauren @ The Creatively Bookish ” Must Watch Fierce Females”

February 17th: Alyssa @ Reading, Reading, Reading “Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu Book Review”

February 18th: Stephanie @ Books In The Skye #Fiercefemales Shoot Bows And Arrows”

February 19th: Ellie @ A Book DevourerA Queen Who Needs No King

February 20th: Stephanie @ Holed Up In A BookFemale Badass-y Books

February 21st: Jemma @ Fantastic Books And Where To Find Them ” Fierce Female February Book Tag”

February 22nd: Cait @ Functionally Fictional ” Top 10 Fierce Females With Power”

February 23rd: Rachael & Jaclyn @ Pingel SistersFierce Female Reads: Nonfiction Books With Strong Female Leads

February 24th: Laura @ Books And Geekiness ” A Darker Shade of Magic Book Review”

February 25th: Carolyn @ The Suburban Lifestyle “When In Doubt, Go To The Library”

February 26th: Ashley @ Falling Down The Book Hole ” Top Nonfiction Books Focused On Women I Want To Read”

February 27th: Allie @ Allieereads “To Be Fierce: Nalini Singh’s Guildhunter Novels And The Portrayal Of Warrior Women”

February 28th: Ashley @ Falling Down The Book Hole ” Internment by Samira Ahmed Book Review”

#FierceFemaleFridays Instagram Photo Challenge
Every Friday we will be challenging you and the people of instagram to post your fierce female reads photos, this is just one of the events you can take part in to be eligble for one of the prize packs listed further below! Make sure you use the hashtags #FierceFemaleFridays #FierceFemaleReadsFebruary So we can find your posts! If Instagram is your thing there will also be a follow train compettion on take part in too!

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Fierce Female Readathon
There will be a sign up post in regards to the readathon with a link up on February 10th on Falling Down The Book Hole !

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Giveaways!

We have some awesome prizes that have been generously put together by the bloggers/book lovers being spotlighted and participating in this event! Overall there will be 4 different prize packs available (with 3 being international)! You will need to participate in some part of the month long event in order to be eligible for one of the prizes.

Giveaway Rules:
– Must be 13 years of age or have a parents consent
(will need to provide mailing address)
– Will run from 2/1/2019 – 2/28/2019

Grand Prize {US only} – 1-2 Books Featuring Fierce Females
– Bookish Candle
– Bookmark (created by  @AugustinesBook )
– Fierce Female Product (created by @homenkozies)
International Prizes
– Choice of The Last Hours, The Summer Queen or Code Name Verity [Book Depository] ( @shufflingpaper)
– Bookish Coffee Mug ( created by @carolynmartino)
– Newest Book From Author K.N Timofeev
– Surprise Pack [Philippines Only](from @whimsy_wanders)
Additional Prizes
– US ARC of The Light Between Worlds by Laura E Weymouth
(@HoledUpInABook)
– Nonfiction Book from Pingel Sisters Recommendation List

There are absoloutley loads of ways to take part this month and we all hope you’ll join us for a month chock full of fierce female reads!

 

Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

The Blue Salt Road – Spoiler Free Review

40200607The Blue Salt Road by Joanne Harris
Illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 15th by Gollancz

An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, “Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn’s father,
Far less the land that he staps in.
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.

Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there – without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. When I heard Joanne had written another book in the same vein as her 2017 release A Pocketful of Crows (which I reread and reviewed Tuesday) I was hugely excited! I fell in love with the wonderful prose contained inside the tale of a nameless wild girl of the travelling folk and we are met with a slightly different style, that is no less captivating for it, about a nameless, young selkie man entrapped by a young woman and it does not disappoint.

I read The Blue Salt Road in a few small sittings over a couple of days and it has been an absolute joy to read. Joanne has an innate talent to bring hope and compassion into even the darkest of tales and this book is no exception. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of twists and turns throughout, one problem that I think stories that read like old tales can often suffer from is predictability but with this book while feeling familiar is also refreshingly new and strangely relevant to the world we live in today despite being set in a different time.

The prose is in a different style to A Pocketful of Crows but like it’s predecessor it evokes it’s subject perfectly and you can almost feel the wind and the sea spray against your face as you read about the waves, the different types of whales and other sea life, Joanne has a remarkable and magical way of describing nature and it really works well in The Blue Salt Road. We are also once again we are treated to some absolutely gorgeous art throughout by illustrator Bonnie Hawkins helping, even more, to bring the story to life. It is also hard to really pin down a true villain despite many of the characters doing despicable things but this just helps to bring it in line with reality, this is a perfect example of a new, yet old tale and I would happily read more like this.

Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free, Uncategorized

Christmas at the Beach Hut – Blog Tour Spoiler Free Review

Christmas at the Beach Hut (002)Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 15th by Orion
(I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Everyone adores Christmas . . .

Especially Lizzy Kingham. But this year, she is feeling unloved and underappreciated by her family. The present-buying, decorating and food shopping have all been left to her. So she wonders … what would happen if she ran away and left them to it?

Lizzy heads to her favourite place: a beach hut on the golden sands of Everdene. There she meets an unlikely collection of new friends, all running away from something. But the spirit of Christmas gets under Lizzy’s skin: soon the fairy lights are twinkling and the scent of mulled wine mingles with the sea air.

Back at Pepperpot Cottage, her family are desperate to find her. For Christmas isn’t Christmas without Lizzy. Can they track her down in time and convince her she means the world to them, every day of the year?

Just like Lizzy, I love Christmas. Everyone has been excited about Halloween recently and I do love Autumn but I’ve been wishing the holiday away to bring us closer to Christmas sooner. I may be a little bias because my birthday is also December 25th but I just love the time spent with loved ones, exchanging gifts, endless Christmas buffets, the decorations, the music and even the chillier weather. I also enjoy going to the beach with my family so when I saw this book I knew it was bound to be something a book I would like, even still I hadn’t expected to end up loving it as much as I did.

I don’t really read any general fiction, usually going for sci-fi, fantasy or most things YA so this was a different read for me and most certainly a welcome one and an author I will be reading again (I found out afterwards that I actually already owned “How to Fall in Love in a Bookshop” by the same author but hadn’t got around to reading it – I’ll be rectifying that mistake for sure). Although I would say the main character is definitely Lizzy there different points of view from other characters and I especially liked that each one felt organic and relevant as they appeared, it all just fit together so well. The characters themselves were all a joy to read as well, they all had memorable but not necessarily stereotypical characteristics and they all had real human flaws which just helped to give them a real depth and made them easy to connect with, get attached to and become invested in. The range of ages of the characters themselves also means that I think this book would be a good read for teenagers and up as there is a bit of something for everyone here.

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The plot unfolds itself so beautifully it’s hard to describe, everything just flows together so smoothly and at a great pace, there’s never too much going on to keep track of but also never so little that it becomes boring, there is a perfect balance that had me turning pages and unable to stop. Despite sounding like a comfortably tame book there is still conflict and intrigue throughout and although not in the same way as a lot of the other genres I read it felt no less important through the eyes of these characters and especially relevant for myself as both a mother, a big fan of family tradition at Christmas and a daughter and it touched on a lot of subjects I understood which really helped to keep me even more invested.

Christmas at the Beach Hut perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Christmas and family, it’s a lovely read that I highly recommend cuddling up with under a nice blanket while enjoying a good hot chocolate or some mulled wine to get you in the festive spirit. This book is heartwarming and sad but beautiful and cosy too, a great book for the cold winter months.

As part of the blog tour we have also been asked to share our stories of Christmas disasters but I’ve always been pretty lucky when it comes to Christmas and to my own memory at least the extent of my misfortune had only really gone as far as drinking too much in the morning that I was a bit too tipsy to open my birthday presents in the evening. My mum though always loves to tell the story of the when me and my brother were little and tried to wake her and my dad up at two thirty in the morning as our stockings were full and “Santa’s been!” Obviously we were told to go back to bed so we did, I then managed to crawl back into my parents room on my hands and knees and snuck over to their alarm clock at the side of their bed and proceeded to try to change the time to a more reasonable hour so we could get up and open our presents. Sadly I was caught.

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Me and my brother decided if we couldn’t open our stockings then we could go peek at the presents under the tree instead. We tried to sneak downstairs and look at the presents under the tree. We snuck downstairs and the front room where the tree was at the time had no real door, there was some fancy brick archway instead. Now our parents had told us we were not to go into the front room without them and that they would know if we did. naturally me and my brother assumed this meant they had a laser security system across the archway and because we were four and six years old respectively we decided the best thing to do was to use deodorant and flour to try to expose the laser beams so we could climb over or through them and make it to the front room. I think it’s safe to say this didn’t work and we just made a lot of mess so maybe a mini-disaster for my mum?

Don’t forget Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry is out on November 15th and available to pre-order now in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

 

 

Blog Tours, book reviews

Skyward – Blog Tour Spoiler Free Review

36642458Skyward by Brandon  Sanderson

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 6th by Gollancz
(I received  a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

“Alas poor space junk,” M-Bot said. “I would have pretended to know you, if I were capable of lying.”

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

There are SO many great books coming out right now and this is another one I’ve been excited about for a little while now, after dabbling in Sanderson’s Mistborn series previously I couldn’t wait to see his take on what promised to be a Sci-Fi tale right up my street and I was not disappointed, this book is, surprisingly probably no one, absolutely fantastic.

The world building is done brilliantly, any info dumping is done well and at just the right moments but most of the information we get to help create the world in Skyward and help us to understand it is expertly layered into the narrative like brushstrokes to help create the overall picture that is is the Defiant civilisation, their history and their customs. I enjoyed that it wasn’t just the epic moments that were talked about either, there were brilliant small moments that really added to the characters and quite often the world building itself led to some great character development instead of just a general history.

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Skyward has many great facets, one of them is most certainly the characters with even the smallest being memorable and easy to identify. Most characters were refreshing and weren’t cornered into stereotypes, everyone had their own stories and their goals which were surprisingly simple to keep up with but the characters, their emotions and choices felt no less complex for it.  I usually try to refrain from mentioning my favourite characters for fear of giving away spoilers or favouritism but although I loved all the characters I have to say for me personally, M-Bot totally stole the show in the best way. It’s funny, sincere and the most precious, heartbreaking A.I I have ever had the pleasure to read (AIDAN is a close second but that’s another story).

The pacing is spot on and almost constantly has you on the edge of your seat for one reason or another, this is an absolute page-turner and I often found myself totally immersed to the point where I decided to read a little before bed around ten thirty and finally put the book down around three in the morning, it just sucks you in. The battles and even the flight training are particularly fast-paced but written in such a way that they are easy to understand well even when reading at speed which is perfect because if you’re anything like me you will be practically inhaling the words. I was worried the ‘flight speak’ would get repetitive or boring but found that actually, it meant that I was much better able to process the information and I honestly think if you showed me a diagram of a DDF Poco class fighter I could name a good amount of the parts and what they’re used for. Although I enjoy Star Wars I hadn’t initially been sure how I would about the fighter elements parts which a fair bit of the story is comprised from but I feel that Skyward hit the perfect spot where it was exciting and that extra understanding just really helped boost that enjoyment.

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The overall story is interesting and certainly piqued my interest many times as a truly good book should, there are some great little twists and turns throughout, some brilliant friendships between the characters and I genuinely felt myself being pleasantly surprised at the turns a lot of the story took. This book is a great sci-fi gem and I don’t think I have ever read such a large book at such a fast pace. Skyward is certainly a story that will stay with me, its humour, it’s important messages, the teamwork, the hope and the thrilling ride.

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