Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

CTRL+S by Andy Briggs

Book Review

45437425CTRL+S by Andy Briggs

Rating: XXXX

Publishes November 28th by Orion Books.

“Escape is easy. Staying Free – That’s harder.”

Life in the near future’s NOT ALL BAD. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.

But ALMOST ANYTHING isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested – and lives traded – to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.

NOW THEO’S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he’ll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists – as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her . . .

When I received an email asking if I would like to receive a copy of this book I took one look at the synopsis and practically made grabby hands. I’ve been working on a piece of writing for about three years now which share some similarities and I decided that this book would be the perfect read for during NaNoWriMo as I often find it hard to read books of a different genre to what I’m writing or it has a habit of taking me too far out of the story and I have to ease back in every time. A huge thank you to Orion for an advanced finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

I will admit that to start with I wasn’t sure about this book. We had the hard done by main character who was a bit of a dick, the angry, only female friend the main character has a crush on with the high up and/or well respected dad who just wants her freedom, the confident guy friend who may or may have had a thing with said only girl and the shy guy who doesn’t want to take risks but ends up doing so anyway. Sounds familiar right? We even get the crappy relationship between the main character and his struggling single-parent mother who he tends to refer to just as ‘Ella’ instead of Mum. It’s not that it was a bad start, it just felt very predictable. Flash forward to me a few days later frantically reading as I walk the three minutes to my son’s school because I just could not put it down. 

The characters are definitely their stereotypes but it was easy to forget at times as we did get further insight into them, the main character especially and although I still don’t particularly ‘like’ any of them but they’re still interesting characters who DO develop throughout the story which only spans less than a week anyway so I wasn’t expecting any huge and major changes, I don’t feel like they’re meant to be idea ‘loveable’ characters and I kind of like that about them because it’s very easy to see our own flaws in them and it gives them a whole other level.

The plot itself is the real MVP here, again there are moments that seem predictable but to honest having read a fair amount of sci-fi and seen a hell of a lot of sci-fi films and TV shows that is absolutely bound to happen, almost every story has been told before but this if the first time it’s been told by Andy and I really loved the twists and turns we got along the way and how each clue had to be found and then unravelled. As well as the plot, the writing is at times incredibly fast-paced and has you right at the edge of your seat which is probably my favourite thing about this book, I’m shocked I don’t have any ripped pages and apparently I was impossible to talk to while reading because I was just SO engrossed with the events. We have some downtime, obviously but it fits well with the pacing and isn’t too slow as we get information in that downtime, as well as some character development and some new (awesome) allies.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the world-building, it’s a not too distant future and incredibly believable in pretty much all aspects for me, the good and the bad. Not only do we get to see the good things that have changed like the way we as a human race impact and care for our planet and it’s animals, finally accepting how important the earth and it’s ecosystems are but we also see how such technological advances could develop going forward and how, like everything that exists it has the potential to do great good but also evil too. There is a fair bit of ‘technobabble’ but most of it seemed easy enough to understand and where needed we get extra information anyway so if you’re used to reading sci-fi this shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad I gave it the chance it deserved. It was addictive and possibly one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in a while. I highly recommend it, especially if the synopsis catches your attention.

CTRL+S releases in just two days time on Thursday, November 28th. Make sure you check out the other wonderful book bloggers also taking part in the blog tour over the next week!





book reviews, spoiler free

A Pocketful of Crows – Spoiler Free Review

34913762A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris
Illustrations by Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Audiobook read by Joanne Harris

Rating: XXXXX

Published October 19th 2017 by Gollancz

“If only I had patience. If only I could sleep till spring. If only I were the hawthorn tree, too old to love, too wise to hate.”

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.
Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.
Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

In the run-up to the release of the beautiful “The Blue Salt Road” (Out this Thursday, November 15th) which although not a direct sequel to A Pocketful of Crows is also based around a Child Ballad poem and is full of the same beautiful illustrations and wonderful, whimsical writing. Not to mention this book this book is a perfect Autumn read and we are well into the season of crunchy leaves, knitted cardigans, scarves and magic by now.

Although I read this last year I’m rereading this now in the form of the captivating audiobook read by Joanne Harris herself. I love good audiobooks and this one is so exception, the joy of listening to a book narrated by the author themselves is you can hear how it was meant to be read, obviously everything is open to interpretation but there’s just something exceedingly special and magical listening to the words in the way they sound to the author themselves creating a whole other level of storytelling harking back to the roots of stories themselves.


A Pocketful of Crows has a magical quality to it, in the story itself and in the telling of it and feels different from almost any other book I’ve read before, it feels old and mysterious and reads like something between a poem, a ballad and a spell. The writing and the language are absolutely beautiful and the story itself would be interesting no matter how it was told but Joanne’s hand has given it an extra flourish that makes it wonderous and allows you to feel the damp earth underfoot, smell the changing of the seasons and hear the sounds of the animals in the forest, it is truly an experience.

Although I primarily listened to the audiobook this read through I did take time to look through the physical book itself once again because the illustrations by Hawkins are simply gorgeous and something about the style and the black and white colouring just really brings them in line with and evokes the style of this new but ancient book.

A short read, the audiobook clocks in at just over four hours and it is a book that can fairly easily be read in one sitting and one I recommend to anyone feeling witchy or like they want to swept up in a magical and mysterious story about a wild girl who refuses to be tamed.


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.


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.


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.