Mini Book Reviews from Mount TBR!

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The Grisha: Shadow and Bone: Book 1 by Leigh Bardugo 

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

This is the first book I’ve read by Leigh Bardugo, but definitely not the last.  I had this one read in just a couple of sittings as I was absolutely hooked from the outset. The Grisha books are widely known so it had been on my radar for a while and I was delighted to find a copy recently. I’m not gonna summarise the plot or anything; the synopsis is all you need to know. Bloody loved it. These books are probably marketed at teens but I’m not ashamed to say I really enjoyed it and I’m currently waiting (impatiently!!!) for book 2 in the series to come to my local library! Excellent world-building, a great cast of characters and a super fun plot made this one a cracking read.

Highly recommended for sure!

The Grisha: Shadow and Bone: Book 1 by Leigh Bardugo

 

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A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns & Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

It probably seems like I’m on a YA kick with these reviews, and I guess I am a little, because I’ve just started the second book in the series! I’ve had ACOTAR on my TBR for a loooooong time and I’m on a bit of a break from review books at the moment, so it was high time I picked this one up. These books are addictive, like seriously! I can see how people go mad for this fandom, because its safe to say I am probably going to lump myself in there by the time I get them all read.

Feyre, bless her, she’s a bit naïve for someone who seems so tough but I really like her as a character. Even with all of the cringey love-y stuff (Not my thing at all, I prefer hatred! Haha!) As with Bardugo, there is decent world-building in Maas’s books as well. I think its another super fun YA series, and I am definitely liking how its going so far!

Highly recommended, especially if , like me you’ve been stuck in one genre for too long!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”

And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.

I cannot review this properly without giving away anything so this one will be very short! I read this one in a day, and it left me with more questions than answers. In saying that though, it is an exceptionally clever novel. It is short, but its also extremely powerful in terms of content. It is unsettling, creepy and suspenseful pretty much the whole way through. It seems to be divisive going by some of the reviews I’ve seen, but give it a chance. I would say read it, and then read it again.

Highly recommended.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

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About the book:

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life–orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought…

On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive?

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

My Thoughts:

Knights of the Borrowed Dark was a new addition to my personal TBR recently. I had the pleasure of meeting the author in Galway recently and had a chat about his books. I have a 7 year old boy (his reading age is that of a 9/10 year old) who is an avid reader, and he asked me to read this for him to see if it is suitable for him to read himself. Personally, I think he’s still a bit young for it, but I LOVED IT!!!!

Knights of the Borrowed Dark follows Denizen Hardwick, a orphan living in Crosscaper Orhanage on the west coast of Ireland. One night, the gates to the orphanage open and Denizen is collected on the promise of being introduced to his long lost aunt. On the way to meet her, the car in which he is travelling is attacked, by something. Denizen then learns that this something lives in the shadows, and sometimes can get through the breach.

What follows is a super fun read full of action and monsters and knights. These knights don’t deign to tell poor Denizen very much, and he end up having to learn their methods in his own ways. Give the option to join this order of knights, Denizen then has to make a life-changing decision.

Knights of the Borrowed Dark is a thrilling, compulsive and completely magical story. Packed full of enthralling characters, with more action and mystery than I was expecting, this book exceeded my hopes entirely. I cant wait to read the next book, and I also can’t wait to re-read this along with my son when he gets to it!

Highly recommended!

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough~ Mini Review


About the book:

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

My thoughts:

13 Minutes had been on my kindle for way too long so I figured it was high time I read it, especially considering I had read Behind Her Eyes by the same author.

While reading the book, I think definitely as a YA psych thriller, with elements of crime and mystery interspersed throughout the narrative. 13 Minutes is the story of Natasha and how she came to be dead for that length of time. There is also a heavy weight placed on secrets and lies between the characters and how they can slowly chip away at solid foundations.

13 Minutes is a compulsive read. I found myself flying through it trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together along with Natasha. The minds of teenage girls are scary places to be, and the author has done a good job of capturing the devious and underhanded behaviour that some kids partake in.

13 Minutes is a fast paced book, with plenty of different threads that are all woven together towards the end relatively well. I enjoyed it even though it wouldn’t be my usual kind of read.

Recommended.

 

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

*Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy of this WONDERFUL book!*

About the book:

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter Loo to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past – a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come.

Click HERE to get your copy!

My thoughts:

I genuinely didn’t know what to expect with  The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley when I picked it up. Clearly I had liked what I’d seen as I had a copy of the book for review, but I hadn’t reread the PR sheet before I started.

I was so SO unprepared for the journey my heart would take with this one. It’s funny, because I’ve seen some reviews since I finished this book, and people didn’t enjoy it. I on the other hand, devoured it. From start to finish I was completely invested in it. The story, the characters, the whole thing just grabbed me.

The format for TTLOSH (yes I’m shortening it because I’ll keep mentioning it!) is partly what made it for me. Told using alternating chapters, the reader is taken on two journeys. Samuel Hawley’s past and how he got to where he is, and the present told through Loo’s eyes. Perfectly crafted, this dual narrative barrels towards an unexpected conclusion. No spoilers in saying that, I just didn’t see where it was going.

There are so many themes running through TTLOSH. There is a crime element (yay!), but there is so much more. I found Loo’s voice read like a YA novel. It chronicled love, loss, relationships, friendships, grief and the relationship between her and her dad.

Reading Loo’s thoughts was like going back in time to my teenage self. When I say that, I mean the inexplicable feelings and turmoil that takes place when you’re young. Learning lessons, figuring out your place in the world, who takes up space in your heart and so on. I also found her childish sense of wonderment regarding the sky/solar system and the sea to be so endearing, and completely familiar because I get that. I look up regularly, and we truly are infinite in a world of stars.

Samuel ‘s chapters were a whole different voice, as you would expect, but equally gripping. With a past like his, it would be difficult not to be hardened to people and life in general, but these chapters break down his walls brick by brick. I am loath to choose who I liked reading about more to be honest but by the end of TTLOSH I was definitely leaning towards Samuel.

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to get this review together, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. This book has stayed with me though. I find myself thinking about it quite regularly, and I think that’s the sign of a great book. Immersive, solid, emotional and gripping, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley has been one of my favourite reads this year.

 

Highly recommended.

 

 

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

About the book:

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On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

This isn’t out until June, but you can pre-order your copy by clicking HERE!

My thoughts:

So regulars readers of my blog will know I’m not a huge reader of YA (young adult) fiction. I don’t know why, it’s just not something that was on my radar until maybe the middle of last year. Well books like One Of Us Is Lying make me want to read it a hell of a lot more to be honest.

I had seen this book mentioned by one of my fave bloggers, Liz from Liz Loves Books, and we have pretty similar taste so I figured I’d give it a go. It helps that she described it in terms of The Breakfast Club movie, which is one of my all time favourite movies. I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d cave and break my Netgalley ban.

It was SO WORTH IT!!!

One Of Us Is Lying hooked me completely from the outset. I loved the premise. Five teenagers in detention and only 4 of them make it out alive. I mean, terrible yes, but how could you not want to find out why?! And the comparisons to the seminal John Hughes classic are not unwarranted. The characters are pretty much all present; the jock, the criminal, the athlete, the social outcast, the homecoming queen.

The chapters are told by the four different kids who get out of that classroom. Each one has their own voice, and by the end it was easier to distinguish one from the other. While they experienced a terrible situation, I found the destruction to their lives after the incident to be the most compelling to read. High school is a huge transformation period for these kids, and they have a massive shadow hanging over them, as they all get questioned in relation to what turns out to be murder.

Simon, the kid that was murdered, ran a gossip site, About That. Coincidentally, the day after his death, there were posts scheduled for the four others that were in detention with him, so it seems they all had something to lose. And motive.

What follows is utterly absorbing. Every chapter there is new information coming to light from somewhere. Every one of these teens is a suspect, every one of them had something to hide. One Of Us Is Lying shows the effects that secrets and lies can have on the lives of others, as well as the teenage psyche.

Loved this book, definitely one to watch out for in 2017. I don’t want to say any more for fear of spoiling anything!

Highly recommended!

Pretty Wicked by Kelly Charron

*Many thanks to the author for my review copy*

About the book:

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen. But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects. Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price.

Click HERE to get your copy!

My thoughts:

I picked up Pretty Wicked as part of my “TBR” catch up recently and its safe to say I was pleasantly surprised by it. Essentially a YA serial killer thriller, it was a pacy read.

Its very odd to read a book about a teenage serial killer, but it was a refreshing change, even moreso because the main character is female. Ryann is an interesting, if a little over-confident, character. She lives at home with her sister and her parents. None of whom suspect anything sinister is going on in their daughter’s life.

Pretty Wicked is the kind of book that you’d pick up and before you realise, you’re halfway through it. It’s not a light book, there is plenty of gruesome details within the pages, and yet it is a very easy read.

I know this is a short review, but there isn’t a lot I can say without giving away the plot. The killer is known, it’s just the methods and the ending that’s the surprise. One to watch out for if you enjoy YA and thrillers as it’s a mixture of both!

Top 13 Books of 2016…

Hi everyone,

It’s that time of the year again. The time where I draw up this list over and over AND OVER again, trying to whittle down the great books I’ve read into one small one.

As I type this I’m surrounded by 5 or 6 different attempts, and I’ve decided that because 13 is my lucky number, I’m recommending 13 great books from those I have read this year. And for good measure, I’m putting in two books at the end from 2017 that you all need to watch out for!!!

The drawback about listing books, is that I know for a fact I have some absolute standout books from 2016 on my TBR shelves, but I haven’t gotten around to reading them, yet… And also it’s SO hard to choose and not everyone will be happy! But at the end of the day this is personal preference, books that have been great for me. 

This is almost a list of two halves. There is a certain publisher who consistently releases excellent books, so needless to say, they feature heavily. I’ve also got a couple of book series thrown in because I’m not doing two separate posts this year like I did in 2015! If you want to see them, the links are below:

My Top Ten Books & Series of 2015 Part 1!!!

My Top Ten Books & Series of 2015 Part 2!!!

Anyway, as usual, I digress!!!

Onto my TOP 13 BOOKS OF 2016 (in no particular order, with review links under the photos)…

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Dodgers by Bill Beverly 

I read this at the right time. It was everything I was looking for, and I absolutely loved it. I still think about East, months later.

 

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The Constant Soldier by William Ryan

This book broke me. I sobbed as I finished it, I just couldn’t comprehend the beauty of this book. It was utterly breathtaking.

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight took me weeks to read, I just didn’t “get it” immediately, so I left it and came back. I was hooked when I picked it up again. Amazing storytelling, magical prose and a kick-ass heroine, it is a superb starting point for a series.

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The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

Menacing book this one! Slow deliberate prose that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end. Unputdownable, gripping and eloquent!

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Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

Best action thriller of the year for me I think! Pendulum was fast-paced, cinematic and super fun (not for the characters obvs, but I loved it!).

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The Deviants by C J Skuse

Another one that broke me. A YA book so full of heart with great characters. Bawled!!!!

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Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson 

This man can do no wrong in my eyes. In my top books last year, and here we are again. Highlight of my year was meeting Ragnar. #epicfangirl

Dead Is Better by Jo Perry

Dead is Best by Jo Perry

These books are all kinds of awesome. Charlie and Rose are dead and they are two of my favourite characters in fiction this year.

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Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen

Another beautiful Scandi crime novel makes the list. This one was special. Well worth reading!

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

Eddie Flynn is another of my favourite characters this year. Steve Cavanagh writes legal thrillers, and they are just perfection. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!

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Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

This book! This one. Unexpected, odd, and absolutely wonderful. Read it, you’ll thank me later!


There you have it, my Top 13 Books of 2016. Here are the two I think you all should keep an eye out for in 2017 and that will more than likely be on this list next year for me…

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Ragdoll by Daniel Cole 

A PROPER serial killer thriller. Edge of your seat amazing, great characters and a twisted antagonist. What more could you want?

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Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

LOVED this one! Haunting and threatening. It freaked me out more than once. Superb writing style, razor sharp. You’ll want to read it!


And so it ends. These books have been my favourites this year, by a mile. They have made me cry (which rarely happens with books!!!!), made me laugh, given me hope and filled me with excitement.

Have you read any of these? Would you? Do let me know in the comments…