Weekly Update

While everyone else is doing Stacking The Shelves I've decided that NOT buying books would be a great idea, so here's everything else I'm doing!

Books Read This Week


Not one but two five star reads this week and both reviews are on my blog. I've read Wither three times now and it's an old favourite, while The Cruel Prince was so good that when I saw a copy in WHSmiths that I went to look for, I had to buy it.

Cross Stitch


I'm currently cross stitching Frederick The Literate from Dimensions and it's going well, I've been distracted the last couple of days stitching a mother's day card so I'm going to try and get more progress in soon.

Wizard101


I'm currently level 38 with my character Valdus Mistfist (a truly classy name) and he's just unlocked the third world, Mooshu. I'm currently working on a side world, Wysteria, first. It's free fishing all weekend though so I'm traipsing around looking for chests that might have pets or mounts in them!

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget to leave a comment with a link to your blog!

Review of Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Genres: Dystopia, Romance
Pages: 358
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Release Date: 22/03/2011
Find The Author: Website / Twitter
Find The Book: Book Depository / Amazon UK/US
Add To Your Goodreads Shelf

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

Clearly, I must love this book because I keep going back to it. I first read it just after it was released back in 2011, then again a couple of years later before going back to it in 2018. It's pretty incredible to think that I first read this book 7 years ago, it feels like yesterday. It's a bleak and depressing dystopian story, and just my cup of tea.

The world of Wither is very simple, some readers might argue, too simple. In a bid to cure cancer the world discovered that they can no longer conceive children than live longer than 20 years, 25 for males. America descended into a culture of glittering, lavish parties for the rich, with child brides on the arm of every young bachelor, the country desperately trying to keep it's population stable.

Rhine answers an ad asking for lab rats and unwittingly finds herself thrown into a van with multiple other girls, before being chosen as one of Linden Ashby's new brides. The whole book from start to finish is just raw, undiluted emotion as Rhine comes to terms with entrapment, death and the hope of finally escaping to find her twin brother.

The world building isn't perfect but I never care for that. What is much, much more important is how well written every character is and DeStefano really excels at this. Every character had their own nuances, their own backstory and their own struggles, it was hard to pick a favourite. Linden was a wonderful addition, his naivety of the situation made him impossible not to care for and it made perfect sense when Rhine was conflicted about running away.

I love that the ending gave me hope for what will happen in the next book (which I don't remember as well as this book), while not resorting to a frustrating cliff-hanger. I can't wait to go back to old characters as well as meet some new ones, too.


Review of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Faeries
Pages: 384
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Release Date: 01/02/2018
Find The Author: Website / Twitter
Find The Book: Book Depository / Amazon UK/US
Add To Your Goodreads Shelf

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.


In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

The last book I read reminded me of why I stopped reading and reviewing Young Adult books. This book reminded me of why I came back. It's everything I could want from a YA book and more, while being tied to a book that started off my love of YA. The story also reminded me of another early favourite, Poison Study (which I must dig out and re-read this year).

Jude is wild, unpredictable and everything I could want from a YA heroine. I tire of simpering heriones that require everyone else to do the work for them. Or the ones that won't do The Hard Thing because they have all these morals and can never, ever, break them. No worries with Jude, while she's not completely lawless, she does whatever is necessary for things to do the way she wants them to, without coming across as arrogant.

The boys. Can we have a shoutout for the boys? And another for Vivi and her girlfriend? Honestly while this book is crammed to the brim with beautiful boys I did really want to spend a day with Vivi and her girlfriend, as Vivi quickly became my favourite character. After finding out her father is fae and she too, she never disconnects from the human world but stays, I presume, for her sisters. Despite her anger and her disappointment with Jude and Taryn for embracing the faerie world, she never cuts them off.

Of the boys, Prince Carden is easily my favourite. It's hard to work out which one of the boys is The Cruel Prince, as quite frankly, they all are. I really had a soft spot for Carden though and heavily shipped him and Jude, even if all logic says that this is impossible due to their hatred of each other.

While this is a world of faerie, it's a harsh and cruel world of bloodshed, politics and partying - so basically it's like Charles the First's reign combined with Charles the Second's. I guess that makes Madoc Oliver Cromwell to be honest. I was stuck between whether to like or hate Madoc, a problem Jude also shared.  I liked his wife though, as much as she nit-picked I think she did care about the girls.

It's worth noting if you haven't read any of Holly's books before that this book is definitely set in the same world as her previous book, Tithe and may also be connected to The Darkest Part Of The Forest, however I haven't read the latter. In fact readers of Tithe may well get a welcome surprise later in this book! The story stands by itself though, so if you don't wish to read the previous books you won't miss out on anything.


Review of The Truth Beneath The Lies by Amanda Searcy


Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary
Pages: 336
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: 12/12/2017
Find The Author: Website / Twitter
Find The Book: Book Depository / Amazon UK/US
Add To Your Goodreads Shelf

Fight or Flight. 

All Kayla Asher wants to do is run. Run from the government housing complex she calls home. Run from her unstable mother. Run from a desperate job at No Limit Foods. Run to a better, cleaner, safer life. Every day is one day closer to leaving. 

All Betsy Hopewell wants to do is survive. Survive the burner phone hidden under her bed. Survive her new rules. Survive a new school with new classmates. Survive being watched. Every minute grants her another moment of life. 

But when fate brings Kayla and Betsy together, only one girl will live.

This is the first Young Adult book I've read and reviewed in four years and it really did feel like a welcome home story, with many familiar themes - coming of age, difficult relationships... and a good old fashioned plot twist that I'd already guessed by the end of the first chapter. Either I'm a magician when it comes to plot twists or the authors need to try harder.

I liked the switch between Kayla and Betsy each chapter, as they were very different people. Kayla seemed youthful and hopeful for the future, while Betsy had pretty much given up on her life and seemed to be waiting for it to end. Kayla's stuck in a dead end job, while still in high school and struggling with the way she's treated by her friends when she meets Jordan, who seems to offer a better life. Betsy is living in a new town, with new friends but is too scared to let anyone in, in case they get hurt or worse.

It was interesting to watch the character development of these two girls, as Kayla starts to question Jordan's friend and the bodies of young girls her age start piling up her world gets darker, while Betsy's world starts looking more promising after she meets a pregnant girl called Happy and practically becomes part of her family. It was really cleverly done contrast  and perfectly timed too.

With it being a fairly big plot twist I was expecting a bit more of a TAADAAH, pull the satin sheet off moment but it was written as if this was knowledge that was known throughout the whole story. This is true in my case but many Goodreads reviewers were surprised (I'm not jealous honest). This section of the book was were it really started to go downhill.

While the majority of the book reads like a contemporary novel, three quarters of the way in the plot is explained better but unfortunately it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Parts of it felt thrown in for shock value and others could have done with more thinking about because there were events that would never have happened in this world.

Still, I did get that moment where I close the final page and want to sob a little to myself, so it wasn't all bad. The majority of it was very, very good and Amanda really knows how to write about well rounded characters instead of cardboard cut outs, which is a difficult thing to do.



Snow Blind Comic Book Review

What happens when you discover your parents aren’t the people you thought they were?

For high school student Teddy, life in a sleepy suburb in Alaska turns upside down when he innocently posts a photo of his dad online, only to learn he and his family are in the Witness Protection Program. A man seeking revenge invades their town, followed soon after by pursuing FBI agents . . . but what if his dad's reasons for going into the program aren't as innocent as he says?

Snow Blind is very similar to Dept. H, the last graphic novel that I read, in the sense that the story is told as an internal monologue and the art style is rough sketches combined with watercolour. While the story is much stronger (and the art a lot better), I still didn't think that this would be a particularly memorable read.

The story is simple enough, and is told in 4 issues: Teddy post a photo online of his dad and discovers that his family is in Witness protection for something that happened years ago. Naturally he does the most sensible thing and asks his dad about it goes private detective, putting someone in hospital in the process.

The story wrapped up well but it was predictable and unoriginal, unfortunately. Thankfully it's a very quick read with a couple of action scenes to help it along. I'd be interested to see what the author/illustrator does next.

3/5

House Of Penance Comic Book Review

A horrific take on the true story of the Winchester haunted house and one woman’s mission to wash away the blood curse of the Winchester rifle from claiming her own life and soul. This is a tale of guilt, ghosts, and guns . . . of how fortune brings misfortune as a grim and determined woman oversees the construction of a house twenty-four hours a day for twenty years, with the simple motto of keep busy building or get busy dying.

I know of the Winchester Mystery House and love anything creepy, so I picked up this volume as soon as I could. At first I wasn't sure about the art style but I grew to understand and love it by the second issue. This is a wonderfully simple, wonderfully creepy tale of loss and grief that warmed even my chilly little heart (Thank you BianaDR).

The artwork itself isn't realistic and yet that's what makes it so damn creepy. Imagine that instead of rivers of blood you have snakes of red, twisting and turning, reaching for the characters. There is so much blood and ghosts haunting the pages of this and it's all masterfully created by Ian Bertram, whose work I will be looking for in the future! It's a very unique art style and may not be for everyone, but I loved it.

After reading House Of Penance you'd be forgiven for believing that this is a truly fantastical take on the Winchester Mystery House, however this book is actually pretty historically accurate. At least according to various sources, Sarah Winchester really did visit a medium who told her to build a home for the victims of the Winchester rifles and she really did sleep in various different rooms. The building itself looks fairly ridiculous and yet again, accurate - there are roughly 161 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms (one completed and one unfinished) as well as 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys (with evidence of two others), two basements and three elevators. (Thank you Wikipedia).

This could easily be one of my picks of the year as it has everything I could want - lovely artwork, a simple but effective story, plenty of mystery and it's all wrapped up in one volume. Great work guys!

Have a few minutes? Check out this equally creepy song about Mrs Winchester: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yHDS0nRblc


5/5 


Curse of the Granville Fortune by Kelly Hashway - Tour Stop/Giveaway


Find the fortune, break the curse!

The hunt is on for an ancient treasure tied to nine-year-old J.B.'s family history. He's been having visions that make him sweaty, lightheaded, and certain he’s turning into some kind of freak—or worse, going insane. But things are worse than he imagined. The visions stem from a family curse. An ancient ancestor was accused of stealing the massive Granville fortune, and now J.B.’s entirely family will suffer.

To break the curse, J.B. must find and return the Granville’s stolen property. But he's not the only one searching for the treasure. As he sets out on his journey through a dark and foreboding forest, he'll battle his worst fears and fight terrifying creatures along the way. And when he meets two others who share the missing pieces of his visions and suffer from the same curse, the three soon realize they need to work together to break the curse before it's too late.


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Check out a character profile about Jack! 


Name: Jack Beaumont but he is best known as J.B. because he grew up watching old James Bond movies with this dad, who actually gave him the nickname.
Age: 9
Hair color: brown
Eye color: brown
Ancestry: French descent; his ancestor Jean Beaumont was cursed for stealing the Granville fortune, and now J.B. and his family are suffering from that curse
Major conflict: his family’s curse brings on mind-numbing visions that make J.B. certain he’s going insane
Siblings: J.B. has one sister, Holly, who was born on J.B.’s first birthday. He plays protector to Holly once they embark on a journey inside Braeden Forest.
Favorite pastime: riding his bike
Biggest fear: that he’s losing his mind
Biggest strength: He’s good at figuring out puzzles

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Review of Beware The Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Format: eBook
Genres: Mystery, Magic, Horror,
Pages: 336
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: 21/10/2014
Find The Author: Website ¦ Twitter
Book Depository ¦ Amazon UK/US ¦ Goodreads


There’s something about the swamp in Sticks, Louisiana. Something different, something haunting... something alive. Everyone knows this, and everyone avoids going near it. And even the Mardi Gras–bead-decorated fence that surrounds it keeps people away.

Until one morning when Sterling Saucier’s older brother Phineas runs into the swamp...
And doesn’t return.

Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out in his place, and all of a sudden, no one in Sticks remembers Phin at all. They treat Lenora May as if she’s been Sterling’s sister forever.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance - but first she’s got to find someone who believes her.

Heath Durham might be that someone. A loner shrouded behind rumors of drug addiction, Heath has had his own strange experience with the swamp. He and Sterling will have to piece together enough bits of memory and ancient swamp lore to get to the truth. But as the wild swamp encroaches on their town, Sterling and Heath may find a lot more than they expected... and Phin may be lost to them forever.



Beware The Wild definitely lives up to it's cover - this is a dark, creepy read that felt completely unique, I never felt like I'd read any parts of it before. The swamp and it's creatures themselves were grotesque and the story as a whole made me feel like this is something that Frances Hardinge fans would happily devour, much like the swamp does.

Sterling is my favourite type of character - complicated. She has a history of an abusive father and relies heavily on Phin to protect her. Hearing the news that he's leaving, she sinks into depression and forgets to eat, making her friends worried. Interestingly, her mother doesn't seem to notice this. Sterling is one of the most developed characters in this, she goes from lonely and depressed to happy and strong and I was happy when I left the book, knowing that she was going to be okay.

I had started avoiding the types of books that throw in a romance that seems unneeded, but this romance worked really well. I loved Heath and how he was willing to listen to Stirling's suggestions and go along with them and they worked really well as a couple. The other guy in Stirling's life, her brother Phin, I didn't really connect with, probably because most of his parts are just flashbacks.

Beware The Wild is a great mystery story that has a campfire tales feel about it. It was something I would love to see made as a movie. This is the author's debut, and she really has a knack for storytelling. I can't wait to read more from her!



Review of Of Scars And Stardust by Andrea Hannah

Format: eBook
Genres: contemporary, mystery, romance,
Pages: 336
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: 08/10/2014
Find The Author: Website ¦ Twitter
Abe Books ¦ Book Depository ¦ Goodreads


After her little sister mysteriously vanishes, seventeen-year-old Claire Graham has a choice to make: stay snug in her little corner of Manhattan with her dropout boyfriend, or go back to Ohio to face the hometown tragedy she's been dying to leave behind.

But the memories of that night still haunt her in the city, and as hard as she tries to forget what her psychiatrist calls her "delusions," Claire can't seem to escape the wolf's eyes or the blood-speckled snow. Delusion or reality, Claire knows she has to hold true to the most important promise she's ever made: to keep Ella safe. She must return to her sleepy hometown in order to find Ella and keep her hallucinations at bay before they strike again. But time is quickly running out, and as Ella's trail grows fainter, the wolves are becoming startlingly real.

Now Claire must deal with her attraction to Grant, the soft-spoken boy from her past that may hold the secret to solving her sister's disappearance, while following the clues that Ella left for only her to find. Through a series of cryptic diary entries, Claire must unlock the keys to Ella's past—and her own—in order to stop another tragedy in the making, while realizing that not all things that are lost are meant to be found.



If you're after a great mystery, the opening chapters of Of Stars And Stardust will completely suck you in - Claire goes to a party that's supposed to be a birthday party organised by her friend, and she's only interested in going to see Grant, a guy she has a crush on. But Grant doesn't arrive and Ella does, Claire's younger sister. Drunk, she tells Ella to go home and it's not until morning that Claire realises her sister never came home.

This is a brutal, bloody story that packs a punch, but left me wanting - a decent story. There's only so much blood and violence you can add to a book without seeming to have any idea where you're going with it and I really felt like the author didn't have a clue. After we find Ella, the book switches to a few years later and slowly goes downhill from there.

Claire has to come back home, for reasons unknown (to me), to help find her sister. Ella's disappeared and no-one seems to have a clue where to even start and I don't actually remember anyone looking for her either, other than Claire. Claire's a hard character to love, mainly because she's constantly rambling on about how these wolves must have her sister and she mustn't have anything cherry scented because they like that.

The middle was slow, but the ending was just abysmal. There were far too many ideas just thrown at the wall and nothing stuck. The last few lines were so bizarre I was just left dumbstruck that this was even published. I have no idea what was going on for the most part and on top of that, a lot of the ending had that 'so this happened' mentality of shoving everything into one chapter to tie loose ends up.

This could have been a great book and it's certainly very unique. However, I'm not a fan of throwing stars at something just because it's a unique concept. It would have received just one star, however I loved Ella and the opening chapters were really amazing (I even cried a little), so it gets upgraded to two.


Review of Summer's Shadow by Anna Wilson

Format: eBook
Genres: mystery, romance, childrens,
Pages: 272
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release Date: 01/10/2014
Find The Author: Website ¦ Twitter
Abe Books ¦ Book Depository ¦ Goodreads


Summer's mother's will states that Summer's legal guardian is her uncle Tristan: a man Summer has never even heard of before. Forced to leave her life in London, Summer moves to Tristan's creepy, ancient house in Cornwall. There she is met with indifference from him, open hostility from her cousin, and an aunt who has chosen to leave rather than to tolerate her presence. Soon Summer comes to believe that the house may be haunted. But is it haunted by ghosts, or by the shadows of her family's past? Scared and lonely, Summer begins to spend more and more time in the beautiful sheltered cove she discovers nearby. But she's not alone. A local boy frequents it too. Can Summer find first love and the answers to the mysteries of her new home with this good-looking boy who appears to be too perfect to be true?


A super quick read, I finished this in a morning. Summer's Shadow is the story of Summer, who moves down to Penzance to live with her distant uncle after her mother's death. Trying to fit in with her new family would be hard enough, but only her Uncle seems to want her around, his wife is never there and Kenan, her cousin, is constantly threatening her. Meanwhile, she thinks she's going crazy, seeing her mother's ghost everywhere and hearing creepy noises in the walls.

This was a fun read but definitely aimed towards the younger end of YA - it's not quite children's but it's not quite YA either. The main character is 14 and the story is told in a YA style, but with a younger feel. I do think younger readers would enjoy this more than older readers, and it's a good story to start with for a child looking to start reading YA.


I loved Zach and Summer's relationship. It's a very sweet, summer romance and he really helps he get through the summer while she's trying to cope with her grief, new surroundings and a cousin that loathes her and just wants her out of the house. Nearly all of their relationship is set on the beaches of Cornwall, somewhere I've been near but never visited.

The story is unusual because it has a creepy, gothic feel to it at the same time as having a summery romantic feel. The cover is super summery too! It's a great mystery, I spent nearly all of my time reading it trying to work out if Summer was indeed seeing ghosts, or if something else was going on. I was surprised by the ending, though.