‘Burn’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies 🙂 Today, I’m wishing the happiest of book birthdays to Patrick Ness and Burn! Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors and this book was one of my most anticipated of the year. Huge thanks to Walker Books for providing me with a free ARC to review!

burn book review


synopsis

In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm, and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?


my thoughts

I have never read a Patrick Ness book that I didn’t love. And I’m delighted to say that this one was no different. It reminded me of that magical feeling I got when I read the Chaos Walking trilogy. There is just something about this author’s writing that I connect with so much. Ness has that rare ability to make you feel like you are being told a story by a friend but at the same time capturing that old mythology feeling. I honestly don’t know how to put it into words – but I love it. 

Ness is fantastic at creating characters. As a reader, I love to hate his villains and find it fascinating to see how they justify their actions as ‘righteous’. Equally, the heroes in a Patrick Ness book are always a joy to root for. When reading Burn, I felt so invested in the lives of Sarah and crew, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. In saying that though, nothing is merely black and white, and I loved how Ness used parallel worlds to show how there is always more to a person than meets the eye.

One of the things I love about this author’s books is that there is always something a little bit out of the ordinary. And in this case, it’s DRAGONS. But not just any old dragons. I can’t say any more because this is really a book you need to experience for yourself! Seriously though, I genuinely cannot stress enough how much I loved this storyline. There were plot twists in abundance that I honestly didn’t see coming. It just had everything I could have wanted and I didn’t want it to end. Please go read it, and experience this brilliant story for yourself!

burn patrick ness


Are you a fan of Patrick Ness? If so, which of his books is your favourite? Is this one on your TBR? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘The Good Hawk’ spoiler-free review!

Hello dear ones 🙂 How are you all doing? I want to start by saying that if anyone needs to talk during the current climate, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me – we all need to support each other through this. We’re in it for the long haul ❤ Honestly, it feels weird to even be writing a blog post at this time but I suppose we need to try and keep things as normal as possible, don’t we? So today, I’m reviewing The Good Hawk which was sent to me by Walker Books UK. And guys, this book is pretty special.

good hawk


synopsis

In a mythic Scotland, two unlikely heroes must make a dangerous journey to save their people.

Agatha is a Hawk, brave and fierce, who protects her people by patrolling the high walls of their island home. She is proud of her job, though some in her clan whisper that it is meant to keep her out of the way because of the condition she was born with.

Jaime, thoughtful and anxious, is an Angler, but he hates the sea. Worse, he’s been chosen for a duty that the clan hasn’t required for generations: to marry. The elders won’t say why they have promised him to a girl in a neighboring clan, but there are rumors of approaching danger.

When disaster strikes and the clan is kidnapped, it is up to Agatha and Jaime to travel across the haunted mainland of Scotia to Norveg, with help along the way from a clan of nomadic Highland bull riders and the many animals who are drawn to Agatha’s extraordinary gift of communication.

Thrilling and dark yet rich with humor and compassion, this is the first book in the Shadow Skye trilogy, written by a wonderful new voice in fantasy and introducing a welcome new kind of hero.


my thoughts

The first thing that struck me about this book was the writing style. Agatha’s narrative voice was perfectly captured. There was an element that reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (and please don’t think that’s me generalising in a negative way). The author made it clear that Agatha had her differences without coming across as patronising. And I instantly loved this book for that.

You see, Agatha has Down’s Syndrome. And it saddens me to say this is the first book I’ve ever read with Down’s rep. It was done so sensitively and didn’t feel at all out of place in this fantasy story. We need more of this!

Don’t get me wrong, some of the comments that other characters make about Agatha are heart-breaking but I can understand why they were there. But man, I was rooting so hard for her and couldn’t wait to see her succeed and show them all what she was made of! She is a strong and sassy heroine (without intending to be) and you can’t help but love her.

I also loved the anxiety representation that the author showed in our other protagonist, Jaime. Seeing a character in a fantasy novel having a panic attack (and one that was realistic at that) gave me such a weird sense of joy. I loved that I could relate to this character and that both Jaime and Agatha felt like real, ordinary people. Those are the best kinds of heroes.

There was also a wonderful cast of side characters, including some very adorable animal companions. And the interactions between them all made for some genuinely funny moments.

I suppose I should talk about more than just the characters though, right? Well the world building in this book was absolutely perfect. I was living for this magical version of Scotland. I felt like I was on this journey with Agatha and Jaime, and I am honestly so excited for the next instalment in this series.

This was genuinely such a heart-warming and special book. I am so grateful to the author for all that he chose to represent in his story and to Walker Books for publishing it and sending me a free copy! This is truly a magical story for all ages.

good hawk


Have you ever read a book with a character who has Down’s Syndrome? If so, please let me know in the comments because I don’t know of any others! x

 

‘The Quiet at the End of the World’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! As promised in my monthly wrap-up earlier today, here’s a review for you!

quiet at the end of the world


synopsis

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .


my thoughts

Huge thanks to Walker Books for sending me a free copy of The Quiet at the End of the World! I loved this book a LOT.

This is a ‘soft apocalypse’ book, where the end of the world has come about slowly and non-violently with humans no longer being able to reproduce. Yet I almost found it to be quite scary in its gentleness because it seemed like something that could actually happen. The dystopian stories that have a degree of plausibility are always the ones that hit me hardest.

The world Lauren James has crafted in this book is vividly imagined and pulled me in so completely. There was honestly such a huge level of believability here, while still delivering plenty of elements on the sci-fi front. (I never thought I’d find my dream library in a SFF novel!) The inclusion of social media accounts and messages lends a huge sense of realness to the story and had me feeling so SO invested.

The protagonists, Lowrie and Shen, were both likeable characters with believable flaws. And they have genuinely stayed with me long after finishing this book (usually, and to my shame, I’m very quick to forget characters). I felt equally invested in the characters of the past storyline which is given to the reader gradually. And it would be remiss of me not to mention Mitch. If you’ve read this one, you know who I’m talking about when I say – he is the cutest. If you haven’t read this one yet, you need to do it just to meet Mitch.

Lauren James has crafted an excellent novel here that has truly taken root in my heart. I originally rated this one 4.5 stars but I’m thinking I might up it to 5 because this story has refused to let me go. I love the casual diversity throughout and there were some seriously jaw-dropping twists which I did not expect. I will definitely be reading more from this author!

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Have you read anything by Lauren James? Does this sound like the kind of book you’d enjoy? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

“I Will Not Be Erased” – Our Stories About Growing Up As People Of Colour

 

gal-dem I will not be erased review

Hey everyone! Today is release day for a collection of essays by gal-dem, published by Walker Books! I’m going to be totally honest, I had not heard of gal-dem before being invited to review this book so I had to do a little research. Basically, they are a group of women and non-binary people of colour who run an online magazine promoting writers from marginalised groups. I think this is such a great initiative and I’m really glad I got the chance to read this book.


synopsis

Fourteen joyous, funny and life-affirming essays from gal-dem, the award-winning magazine created by young women and non-binary people of colour.

gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this thought-provoking and moving collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem’s writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to explore growing up. gal-dem have been described by the Guardian as “the agents of change we need”, and these essays tackle important subjects including race, gender, mental health and activism, making this essential reading for any young person.


my thoughts

Now obviously, I have to start out by saying that I do not come from a marginalised background. Maybe some people will think that should have disqualified me from commenting on this book but I disagree. I think books like this are so important, not only in giving marginalised readers a place where they can be seen and heard, but also in educating readers like myself who come from a more privileged social position. I’m really glad to see the publishing industry making an effort to provide us with more literature like this and giving everyone the representation they deserve.

I will say that even though I couldn’t necessarily relate to the struggles of the writers on a fundamental level (ie. I’m not a person of colour), there were still themes that resonated with me very deeply. I think this book is a great gateway to opening up some important conversations and I genuinely hope it finds its way into schools because this should be required reading for all young people. 

In terms of the book itself, it was extremely readable. Each essay is only a few pages long and punctuated with cute illustrations, meaning it is easy to dip in and out of when you have a few spare minutes. I was really intrigued by the authors’ use of real raw material such as poems and diary entries from their teenage years. I thought this really added to the emotion throughout the book.

And wow, was there a lot of emotion. My heart broke for these young girls. Knowing that bullying and racism like this occurs is one thing but to have it written down on the page in front of you is difficult and eye-opening. I can only hope that things have improved from when these women were going through their teenage years, and that we will all continue to learn and improve. Books like this are surely a great step forward in educating people.

Overall, this is an important and necessary collection that I think everyone should read. Thank you to Walker Books for providing me with a free copy!

i will not be erased gal-dem.jpg

What are some books you think are important? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘The Hand, The Eye & The Heart’ blog tour! A very special Music Monday

Hello lovely people! I am absolutely DELIGTHED to be kicking off the Walker Books blog tour for The Hand, The Eye and The Heart by Zoë Marriott! When I heard that this book was a reimagining of the story of Mulan, I just knew that the beautiful ‘Reflection’ from the original Disney movie would pair with it perfectly.

First of all, take a look at what the book is about…

the hand the eye the heart.jpgZhilan was assigned female at birth; despite an unusual gift for illusions, they know they will live out their life in the perfumed confines of the women’s quarters. But when civil war sets the country aflame, Zhilan is the only one who can save their disabled Father from death on the battlefield.

By taking his place.

Surviving brutal army training as a male recruit – Zhi – is only the first challenge. Soon Zhi’s unique talents draw them into an even more perilous fight, in the glittering court of the Land of Dragons, where love and betrayal are two sides of the same smile. The fate of an Empire rests on Zhi’s shoulders. But to win, they must first decide where their loyalty, and their heart, truly belongs.

I am so excited to be reading a book about a non-binary character and I think this concept will lend itself perfectly to the story of Mulan. I’m so happy to be promoting this book!

The lyrics of ‘Reflection’ talk about being unable to realise your true self and the pressures to conform to what other people expect of you. So this post is sending a lot of love to anyone struggling with these feelings – I hope you enjoy the song and that you will consider picking up Zoë’s book ❤


Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour – there is some real talent being showcased! x

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‘Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Apologies for being a bit slow on the blogging front lately; life is absolutely kicking my backside. But I’ve got a review for you today of a lovely little graphic novel that was sent to me by Walker Books UK!

Joe Quinn's Poltergeist


synopsisThere’s a poltergeist in Joe Quinn’s house, and Davie is determined to discover its source in this lively, hopeful graphic storybook from David Almond and Dave McKean.

Joe Quinn has been telling everyone about the poltergeist in his house, but no one believes him. No one, that is, except Davie. Davie’s felt the inexplicable presence in the Quinns’ house and seen random objects fly through the air. And there’s something else… a memory of Davie’s beloved sister and a feeling deep down that it might just be possible for ghosts to exist. Full of thoughts of hauntings and grief and God, Davie hovers on a precipice of uncertainty and possibility, a space that storyteller David Almond occupies comfortably and returns to again and again — here paired once more with the dynamic, dreamlike mixed-media art of Dave McKean.


my thoughtsThis was an enjoyable little read, perfect for bumping up that Goodreads challenge! The straightforward writing style and mature-looking artwork combine to give this a unique feel and make it very readable even for those outside the target age range.

I appreciated the inclusion of a little North-East dialect and humour. At the same time, I don’t think that it would alienate non-Northern readers. I think it was important to keep the dialogue relatively light, as the overall subject matter of the book is fairly heavy.

The book was very metaphorical in nature and I enjoyed how much the ending made me think. I would have liked it to have been a teeny bit longer, as I feel like it was just getting started and then it was over. In fact, I feel like my review is tiny as a result; there’s not much more I can say! But this is definitely worth a read for fans of books like Coraline and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman!
4 notesA final rating of 4 musical notes!

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‘The Hate U Give’ spoiler-free review!

 

thug review

Yes, I know. I’m ridiculously late to the party with this one. But with Angie Thomas’ new book, On The Come Up, coming out in February, I figured it was finally time to read her debut! And it deserves every bit of hype.

Let’s check it out!


synopsis

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.


my thoughts.png

I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It is one of the most powerful books I have ever read and I totally understand why it has become such a huge phenomenon in the book community.

Obviously, the subject matter here makes this an incredibly heavy read. In fact, I could only read it in short bursts and had to intersperse it with other books for a bit of light relief.

I was worried initially that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the story (and please do not read anything racist into that before I explain!) The book is very dialogue-heavy which is not something that usually works for me. Add to that the fact that I had distanced myself from this book for so long due to the hype and hopefully you can understand why I was nervous.

Thankfully, Thomas writes dialogue REALLY well and I found that it really drew me in, adding to the intensity of the book. Further to this, the family and peer argument scenes in this book were so bloody realistic. I actually felt my heart beating faster and my breathing quicken as if I was right there in the thick of everything.

After thinking about the ending, I’m quite pleased with how things wrapped up. It would have been very easy for Thomas to take things in a different direction and I don’t think I would have been satisfied with it if she did. As it stands, I found the ending powerful and emotive – especially with the author’s note that follows. It’s easy to see why this book has had such an impact. The Hate U Give is clearly a very important piece of literature in the Black Lives Matter movement and I, like Angie Thomas, hope that one day we can look back and say that the issue has been eradicated.

thug

Of course, my final rating can be nothing less than 5 musical notes!  5 notes


So most of you have probably read this one by now, right? What did you think of it? Are you planning on reading On The Come Up? And do you like my new rating system?! Leave me a comment below! Thanks for reading xsignature (2)

‘The Turnaway Girls’ spoiler-free review!

Happy release to day to Hayley Chewins and The Turnaway Girls! I was recently sent this book by the lovely people at Walker Books UK, in exchange for an honest review. The book is out today (January 3rd) in the UK (though I believe it has been out elsewhere for a couple of months already?) Anyway, read on to find out more about it!


What the book is about…

turnaway girls.jpg

On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught –between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom – to sing, to change, to live – is precisely what’s at stake.


What I thought of it…

This delightfully feminist middle grade book was a great start to 2019. The prose is really quite lovely and the author uses metaphors masterfully to create vivid descriptions. The repetition of various motifs lend this book a quiet strength that I found really quite moving at times.

This book does require a large degree of suspension of disbelief at first but once you get into the flow of things, it becomes easier. The musical subject matter is a joy (is anyone really surprised that I loved it?)

The author succeeds in making this quite a diverse little book, with POC main characters. I also felt like an LGBTQ+ inclination was hinted at and I really hoped it would develop but I suppose it might not have been appropriate for the age of the book’s target audience. I could be reading too much into it but it’s where my brain went!

There were moments of surprising violence within the book, meaning it is not all sweetness and light. I thought the author struck a nice balance. Mother Nine is a great villain that readers will have no problem hating!

Overall, I’m really pleased I started the new year with this one and would recommend it to fans of whimsical writing and strong female characters, no matter their age.

the turnaway girls

Which book have you chosen as your first read of 2019? I hope, whatever it is, that you’re loving it! x