Tag Archives: writing challenge

Run in the Blood by AE Ross. Review

Thank you to Netgalley, AE Ross and the publisher for my ARC of Run in the Blood.

Run in the Blood is the debut novel from author AE Ross. A slick fantasy novel with awesome characters who you can’t help but absolutely love!

Aela Crane has been raised a Corsair, a brutal, bloodthirsty pirate and she wouldn’t want life any other way. Sailing the high seas in search of fights, gold and glory, and popping back to port for a fumble with a sweet girl every now and again. What other life could she possibly want? As long as she hides the old magic inside her, she’ll be just fine.

Del is a quiet, thoughtful soldier who seems to know much more about Aela’s powers than she does and he’s hiding secrets of his own.

Brynne is a crofter’s daughter trying to learn how to be a princess when she is lifted to lofty heights thanks to a deal her now Dead father made on her behalf.

There’s everything you could possibly want from a great fantasy novel, pirates, magical creatures, politics, secrets among royalty and plenty of ‘omg’ surprise moments. Not to mention buckets of fun along the way. A truly swashbuckling, adventurous novel that doesn’t play by the normal rules. No tropes here guys!

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The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories by Katie Fforde

I can always count on Katie to get me in the festive mood, I’ve been a huge fan since I first started reading her books about 7 or 8 years ago, and I have a shelf dedicated only to Katie’s books on my bookcase.

The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories, is a great collection of festive stories with two already published separately and four brand new ones.

The Christmas Stocking sees Romy, a young woman selling handmade Christmas decorations at a Christmas market, getting stranded at a customer’s house when she drives over to do a delivery. Felix is alone for Christmas and offers for Romy to stay with him for Christmas Day, romance ensues.

In Dream Christmas Ginny and Ben are heading off to the new forest on their honeymoon after their disastrous wedding in which both mothers completely took over. When they arrive at the cottage, Ginny is shocked to discover it is nothing like the hot tub, double shower, memory foam mattress filled cottage she booked and is instead completely old fashioned. But someone seems to be looking after them, providing food, drink and a warm fire, there are no footprints in the snow though so who could this mystery person be and what is their agenda?

Fenella is stressing over creating the perfect Christmas in Candlelight at Christmas but then the power goes out and disaster strikes, how will she keep so many people happy when there’s no lights never mind no cooker?!

Tristan and Isolde, a pair of naughty dogs come barrelling into Stella when she’s scattering ashes beneath the dog walker’s tree in the village she’s just moved to. With them comes their handsome owner Fitz and somehow she finds herself hosting him and his elderly mother for Christmas dinner, then Stella and Fitz’s respective partner’s turn up and it all gets a little uncomfortable…

Falling in love with one of the guests was never Jo’s plan when she agreed to help her friend Andi cook Christmas dinner in A Christmas in Disguise. Both women think they’ll get away with it because Andi’s celebrity diva boss makes her wear All chef whites, but then suddenly she’s asked to be a stand in girlfriend too, and awkward if hilarious times ensue.

Finally, in The Christmas Fairy Ella, an out of Work actress is hired to help out Brent a young uncle who agreed to have his nephew and two nieces for Christmas. At first Brent is reluctant to accept her help but soon the Christmas Magic is happening for more people than just the children. This story is extra special because it features some of the lovely characters from Katie’s novel A Summer at Sea.

As usual the stories were beautiful, happy ending stories (my favourite kind), wonderfully festive and easy to devour in a single sitting.

Along The Indigo by Elsie Chapman. Review

Thank you Netgalley, Elsie Chapman and the publisher for my ARC of Along the Indigo.

Marsden lives in a small town called Glory, in America. Her whole life has seen her ostracised from the rest of the town, thanks to her Asian heritage, her father’s accidental death which everyone thinks was suicide, her family’s ownership of a piece of land called the Covert where people go to die, and the fact her mother is a prostitute at Nina’s Boarding House. Marsden is desperate to escape, taking her little sister Wynn with her and making a better life for them both.

Then she meets Jude, also standing on the fringes of society in Glory due to the fact he’s mixed race, that his father is a drunk and his older brother killed himself in the covert. Together they unleash secrets which could either tear them apart or bring them closer together. Which will it be?

The story isn’t set in any particular year, there’s Eddie Murphy films on at the cinema and nobody mentions a cell phone, racism is clearly rife so I’m wanting to say it is set somewhere between the late 70s to mid 90s but I feel that not knowing kind of added to the mystery because there are no preconceptions about how anyone should behave.

The story is really engaging, at first it seems to purely be about Marsden’s journey and her attempts to escape the life her selfish mother has laid out for her, but then it becomes about something else; secrets, lies, Kismet and the the threads that connect people to one another.

A wonderful, thought provoking YA novel.

The Night Market by Jonathan Moore. Review

Thank you to Netgalley, Jonathan Moore and the publisher for my ARC of The Night Market.

This is the first book I have read by Jonathan Moore but I have already added his other two novels to my tbr. The Night Market is a dark, dystopian fiction reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 in its honest and realistic predictions for the future of our world.

The year is unknown, but the world is dark, drought followed by constant rain, people stealing copper for its value, leaving whole neighbourhoods in darkness. Murder, prostitution and theft are rife as people obsess over the latest brands and fads. Everything is electronic, from the junk mail you get in your mailbox, to the way you pay, order or view things. Inspectors Carver and Jenner are called out to a suspected homicide on one of this dark and drizzly evenings, when they arrive, they find the strangest thing they could never have imagined, a dead man, covered in a substance which is literally eating his skin. But before they can investigate further, the FBI arrive and rush them away to a decontamination van. The next thing Carver knows, he is waking up in his own bed with his neighbour Mia by his side reading to him. He has no memory of what happened to him the past few days, all he knows is what Mia tells him, but can he trust her?

This novel was hugely engrossing, it really gets the reader thinking about how near-future this kind of thing actually is. We’re already obsessed with our gadgets, the internet, buying the latest things. Who’s to say that Jonathan Moore’s San Francisco isn’t around the corner for all of us?

Full of suspense from start to finish, and with an excellent twist, I really couldn’t get enough of The Night Market and can’t wait to read more from Jonathan!

Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan. Review

Thank you to Netgalley, Helen Callaghan and Penguin Michael Joseph for my ARC of Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan.

I was super excited to read this book as I absolutely loved Helen’s debut novel Dear Amy, you can read my review of That here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/review-dear-amy/

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Helen shortly after, see here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/author-interview-helen-callaghan/

Anyway, back to Everything is Lies I guess based on Dear Amy I was expecting something along the same lines but Everything is Lies is very different, but equally as good!

Sophia is an architect living in London, spending her nights out being pestered by her needy mother Nina, who calls her all the time begging her to come home. But Sophia wants more for herself than the little garden centre and cafe her parents run. Nothing exciting could ever happen to them.

Filled with guilt at pushing her mother away, Sophia pops home for a visit one weekend and is shocked by the scene that greets her, her mother is hanging dead from a tree in the garden, her father is lying in a pool of his own blood near her. The police think it’s a murder/suicide but Sophia has her doubts. Especially when she discovers her mother was planning on writing a book. An expose about her time with a cult called Morningstar and everything Sophia thought she knew, falls apart.

Everything is Lies had me immediately hooked, it’s a who dunnit with a unique twist, involving Lies, deception, cults and terrible secrets, not to mention a good dose of running away from murderers too!

The characters were complex but brilliant, I loved Sophia’s dogged determination with regards to her beliefs and also her strength at not allowing herself to be bullied. She was a great main character. The novel splits between the present day story and the story Nina has written in her notebooks and the two meet with devastating consequences as all the lies are revealed.

The Heights by Juliet Bell. Review

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the authors for my advance reading copy of The Heights. This review is unbiased and honest.

I always have a mixed bag of feelings when it comes to retellings. In fact nearly every retelling I’ve ever read has been disappointing, unable to live up to the great story they’re trying to reproduce. Wuthering Heights is one of my all time favourite books, so I was both excited, and full of caution when I requested The Heights, how would Heathcliffe and Cathy’s love story live up to a modern retelling? Very well it turns out!

Cathy Earnshaw lives in a typical 1980s Yorkshire town, during the Miner’s Strike, with her mother an unhappy housewife, her father a disgruntled miner and her brother Mick who is frankly a bit of a yob. Then one day, her father brings home Heathcliffe, a dark, strange little boy who quickly becomes Cathy’s best friend.

That is, until Cathy befriends the new, posh kids in school, Isabelle and Edward Linton, and abandons Heathcliffe to marry Edward, who she sees as a ticket out of her horrible life.

The rest of the story plays out exactly as in the original with the tragic deaths of many of the main characters, leaving their children in the care of The now insane Heathcliffe. I loved the idea of Lockwood as a police officer, Ellen Dean as a Social Worked and Joseph as the local priest. It generally just worked really well.

The Heights really explored the themes of incest within The story, the idea that Heathcliffe was the bastard son of Cathy’s father and therefore her half brother, something that unbelievably never crossed my mind before. The story flicks between past and present, between DCI Lockwood’s investigation in 2008/9 and the events which happened in the 80s and 90s and brought about the tragedies now being experienced.

Wuthering Heights of course remains not only one of my favourite novels but a novel which is favourite of many in the world, one of the great classic novels which remains timeless, and finally we have a retelling which does it justice.

The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles. Review

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and Lydia Ruffles for my Copy of The Taste of Blue Light.

‘I will find the old Lux and when I do I will climb back inside her and sew myself into her skin so I never get lost again.’

Lux Langley is an artist, she writes amazing stories and goes to an exclusive school which is only for the best artists in the world. She spends her days forgetting what mainstream subjects she’s learned, and her nights at decadent parties, lighting fireworks, taking drugs and dancing with her equally fun friends.

A month after the leaver’s party, Lux wakes up in hospital with no recollection of how she got there. The last thing she remembers is going to a party with some of the people she was working with at the Gallery where she was an intern. Despite Doctors attempts to help her recall her memories, Lux returns to school trying to grasp at some normality while still not knowing what is wrong with her. Now back at school she has migraines, flashes of weird colours and scary episodes of anger and distress to deal with. Who is the real Lux Langley and will she ever find her?

This is a passionate, incredibly emotional novel, which I think readers of John Green and E Lockhart will really enjoy. Lux is a complex character who one can neither love, nor hate. Nor pity in all honesty. Lux’s character is too strong to pity, which leaves you with a hodgepodge of emotions towards her and her struggles. Most of the novels focus on the interior life of Lux as she tried to adjust to her old life when she is no longer the old Lux.

‘Sometimes I want to be the kind of person who makes life easier for other people. And sometimes I wish everyone I love would die so I wouldn’t have to worry about hurting them anymore.’

Many of Lux’s feeling are relatable, particularly if you have ever suffered with anxiety, depression or similar mental illnesses. Her journey is rife with emotion, and frankly I could not put this book down, nor because the story was gripping and fast paced (in the way that say a crime thriller is) but because it was so emotionally charged. I was desperate to know what had happened to Lux but I was happy with the slow pace of the novel to break it to me gently.

A truly beautiful novel which everyone should read.