MY BOX-SHAPED HEART – Rachael Lucas

4/5

A fab contemporary with a refreshing focus on dysfunctional families

I’d seen a lot of excitement for this book brewing over on Twitter so when I saw it go up on NetGalley I just knew I had to try My Box-Shaped Heart. I love YA contemporary books, especially UKYA, so this is right up my street. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint and was a book that I looked forward to picking up every time I had a spare 5 minutes.

One thing that I really liked about this book is how the main characters all come from dysfunctional families that aren’t the “norm”. Coming from a single-parent family, I could really relate to Holly and what she was going through at home with her mum, which I so rarely find in YA. I also liked how one situation that comes up in the book is handled very sensitively, and for me I didn’t find it triggering, which, again, is different to a lot of YA books.

I really enjoyed reading My Box-Shaped Heart and felt that the only thing that let it down was that it felt a bit lacking somehow towards the end; it just needed that little something to make it stand out more. That said, I would still thoroughly recommend this book – it was a nice light read, perfect for the summer or if you’re looking for a quick read that’s easy to get into!


Thank you to Macmillan via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

 

 

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THE CASE OF THE DEEPDEAN VAMPIRE – Robin Stevens

4.5/5

Another fabulous mini-mystery from the Wells and Wong Detective Society.

The Case of the Deepdean Vampire is the second of the two mini-mysteries written by Daisy, who is a brilliant narrator! She’s very quick-witted and blows her own trumpet in a way that’s highly entertaining to read.

In this mystery, Daisy investigates the rumours of there being a vampire amongst the fifth-formers. Yet again, despite this not being a murder case, it was full of twists as Daisy tries to solve the case.

I didn’t like this one quite as much as The Case of the Blue Violet, possibly because it’s not as deep a case to solve which made it slightly less interesting. That said, it’s still a solid 4.5/5 read and definitely worth it!

A SPOONFUL OF MURDER – Robin Stevens

5/5

Our favourite schoolgirl detectives uncover another murder, this time whilst they’re in Hong Kong!

Robin Stevens has done it again! Another murder mystery that had me hooked right from page one with two murders and kept me guessing right up until the end. I absolutely adored A Spoonful of Murder!

I wasn’t too sure how I’d feel about the change of scenery to Hazel’s home in Hong Kong (my favourites in the series always take place at Deepdean – stems from my Enid Blyton fangirling), but I really enjoyed the setting and honestly felt like I was in Hong Kong with Daisy and Hazel!

We start off at Deepdean when Hazel receives the sad call from Hong Kong to inform her that her beloved grandfather has passed away and she must return to Hong Kong to visit. Of course she takes Daisy with her (we see a very soft side to Daisy in this book which is very endearing!) However, upon arrival, things start going wrong and it’s not long before the girls are faced with their first murder of this case…

This is one of the first books in a while that I simply haven’t been able to put down and have been totally absorbed in, which is testament to Stevens’ fantastic storytelling ability. I do have to reference one of my favourite quotes from Daisy in the whole book – “It’s always frightfully annoying to have relatives isn’t it? If I could I’d have come out of an egg.” It was little things like this among the seriousness of a murder case that make the Murder Most Unladylike series such a joy to read. I can’t wait for the next installment!

 

 

THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF OKAY – Laura Steven

5/5

A witty look at young adult life when things turn the exact opposite of okay, focusing on the treatment of teenage girls and feminism.

Izzy O’Neill’s life gets turned upside down when explicit photos of her appear online, and there’s only so far that her natural optimism and wit can keep her going. However, the lads involved are left unscathed as Izzy is shamed for only doing what’s natural at her age. The unfairness of it all, and the manner in which Izzy is treated is disgusting and really riles you up as you read it! I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, but this book really does highlight a massive issue in the world regarding teens, gender equality and sex.

I absolutely adored The Exact Opposite of Okay and couldn’t put it down! Izzy as a narrator was so entertaining whilst showing her vulnerability when her humour couldn’t mask it. She was in essence a very typical teenage girl who you could relate to. A concept I really enjoyed as someone in my early twenties was the differences between all the guys in the book and how being a “nice guy” is very different to being a “good guy”. This is an idea that’s very accurate!

I would definitely recommend that all young girls/women read The Exact Opposite of Okay, especially fans of authors such as Holly Bourne and Sara Barnard. Laura Steven is an exciting new voice in YA and I can’t wait to see what’s to come next!


Thank you to Electric Monkey via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

THE CASE OF THE BLUE VIOLET – Robin Stevens

5/5

A delightful murder-less mystery for our favourite schoolgirl detectives to solve.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get my hands on these – hurrah for finally getting the Kindle app!

The Case of the Blue Violet is the first of two mini-mysteries that accompany the Murder Most Unladylike series. In this mystery, Daisy takes hold of the writing reins as she is asked to take on a romantic mystery for one of the Big Girls at Deepdean.

I loved how this was just a nice bite-sized mystery to solve, yet was still complex enough to get your teeth into. Robin Stevens is incredible at writing mysteries, and this one was no different despite being so short and lacking murder!

 

WWW Wednesday: 14th February 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m having a good reading week – loving my current read and getting through lots of picture books!
What are you currently reading?

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What are you currently reading? 

I’ve recently started The Exact Opposite of Okay by Lauren Steven…I knew it sounded good but omg! It’s absolutely brilliant and full of humour and I’m really enjoying reading it! I’m very excited to get a finished copy next month!
What did you recently finish reading?

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What did you recently finish reading?

This week I read both mini mysteries in the Wells and Wong series – Robin Stevens is the author of the month for the British Books Challenge and A Spoonful of Murder has just come out and I just felt like a good short story, so I read two. Loved them, expected nothing less!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve got lots of ARCs to read, I think next will either be Wingbound by Heather Trim or Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley, depending on whether I fancy a fantasy or contemporary.

TO KILL A KINGDOM – Alexandra Christo

5/5

A murderous siren meets the pirate prince as we take to the high seas on an epic adventure.

This is actually a harder review to write than I anticipated; I literally just want to write a page of “I love it, I love it, I love it” and squeal with excitement as I reminisce over this incredible book and suffer through my book hangover! I knew that I was going to enjoy To Kill A Kingdom; it’s been suggested for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas. However, what I didn’t know is that I was going to fall completely for this world, these characters and this story.

To Kill A Kingdom is a dual narrative high fantasy set in a world where there is a constant war between the land and the seas. Our two main characters, Lira and Elian, are hunting each other – Lira is a siren, the Princes’ Bane, and is after Elian’s heart, Elian is the pirate prince who seeks to destroy the Princes’ Bane. However, their two paths collide in the most unlikely of ways as Lira is transformed into a human by the Sea Queen. But which one of them will succeed in killing the other?

The thing that I loved most about this book is the writing; it was so easy to get hooked on and full of warmth and humour. Lira is a sassy anti-heroine who you can’t help but adore, Elian a fierce character who isn’t just some pampered prince. The crew of the Saad are just as fun to get to know through both of these characters. I tabbed so many points of this book just because I laughed out loud!

I can’t recommend To Kill A Kingdom highly enough; it certainly lives up to the expectation and can certainly rival incredible fantasy books such as those by Maas and Bardugo, and I can’t wait to see what Christo writes in the future!


Thank you to Hot Key Books via NetGalley for the eBook of To Kill a Kingdom.

THE SACRIFICE BOX – Martin Stewart

2/5
DNF

Stranger Things and Stephen King’s IT’s distant cousin.

It’s very rare that I DNF a book…but I simply had to with this one for my own sanity and to keep me reading. I had such high hopes for The Sacrifice Box, and whilst it wasn’t terrible, I just couldn’t keep forcing myself to turn the page. I was actively counting the percentage, hoping for it to miraculously be going up a lot so I knew I was closer to finishing but no! I made it to 25%, just!

We start off by meeting five, for want of a better term, friends who all place an item in the “sacrifice box” and swear an oath to never open the box. That’s about as far as my interest in the book went because after this point the characterisation got so confusing that I just couldn’t keep up with it! One minute it’s Sep, then it’s September, then it’s Hope. It. Made. No. Sense. I just couldn’t warm to a single one of them! I think the only character who I like has to be Mario, who seems to just be in the book for comic effect as he comes out with some great words of “wisdom”.

I had such high hopes for The Sacrifice Box – I adore IT and the idea of this book sounded very promising. I just don’t think that the story was executed effectively and that it was so slow and muddled for the reader that it just wasn’t engaging. This is a shame because it’s been very highly anticipated by so many readers, and Martin Stewart’s previous book Riverkeep has been very highly praised and, whilst I haven’t read it, it’s one that sounds brilliant. I don’t want to slate Stewart’s writing entirely – I don’t think he’s a bad writer as such (The Sacrifice Box hasn’t put me off giving Riverkeep a go in the future) and I’m hoping that it was just a case of this book simply wasn’t for me.


Thank you to Penguin via NetGalley for an eBook of this title.

WWW Wednesday: 17th January 2018

So I fancied doing a book tag today, and I came across this one! It looks like so much fun to do this one each week so I’m gonna give it a go. I discovered this one through Kelly’s Rambles and have really enjoyed finding out some more about it!

So, without further ado, here’s my WWW Wednesday for 17th January 2018:

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What are you currently reading? 

I am currently reading The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart. I received a copy of this from Penguin through NetGalley, and it’s one I’ve had my eye on for a while, and since Martin Stewart is the author of the month for the British Books Challenge, I thought it’d be the perfect time to give it a read. So far I’m 20% through and it’s…okay. I’m not loving it, but I’m sticking with it for a bit longer to see if it picks up and gets slightly less confusing! More will be about that when I get round to reviewing it later this month.

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What did you recently finish reading?

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert was my first read of 2018 and I loved it! It totally lived up to all the hype surrounding it and was one that I couldn’t put down! It’s gripping page-turner of a book where the lines between the fairytale world and our world are constantly being questioned. You can read my full review here.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next book that I plan on reading is probably To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. I was lucky and got approved on NetGalley for a copy of this one and it’s looking like a promising read from all the excitement surrounding it so I can’t wait to get stuck in!

SUNFLOWERS IN FEBRUARY – Phyllida Shrimpton

5/5

A stunning debut that skillfully tackles the topic of life and death, whilst full of warmth and humour.

Sunflowers in February is a simply stunning debut; it tackles a topic not often found in YA in this capacity and is written from a unique perspective that’s surprisingly realistic. Lily is such an engaging character that you can’t help but want to keep turning each and every page to find out what’s going to happen next.

A key aspect of Sunflowers in February is the idea of moving past grief, and how, whilst this “missing piece really does ruin the overall picture of the puzzle”, life moves on and it’s important that people do move on and accept that they can get past their grief knowing that life won’t be quite the same. This is such an important message for everyone as, unfortunately, we will all experience grief at some point in our lives and it’s “how we move on that counts”. This is not to suggest that Shrimpton doesn’t show how utterly devastating death can be; she does, but she also shows the process of coming to terms with death.

All of this is not to say that Sunflowers in February makes for a depressing read; it really doesn’t! There were points where I laughed out loud, a key point being during Lily’s funeral where Ben comes out with some of the best lines in the book. I also learnt some scientific facts about hugging – did you know that a twenty second hug releases some kind of bonding hormone?

Ultimately, however, I think that Shrimpton has crafted a book that, whilst about death, is mainly about living. “If only I had the chance to die knowing that I had really lived. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so bad.” It’s about grasping opportunities and not just wasting your days away, about showing people how you truly feel, about how little decisions can have big effects. It’s about not taking things for granted, both big and small; “the irony of death is that you obviously don’t find out what you meant to people until it’s too late.” 

This book is full of raw emotion, humour and warmth, with a wide array of characters who all cope with their grief in different ways and are suffering for different reasons. It also makes you realise the importance each and every person has even if they don’t think that they’re valued or needed. Whether or not you have experienced grief, there is something for everyone to take away from this book – we are all significant and we all have our own lives to live.

“Life wasn’t just about living and breathing.”


Thank you to Hot Key Books via NetGalley for sending me the eBook of this title!