Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads to the colours of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

I picked up Celeste Ng's debut novel, 'Everything I Never Told You',  and absolutely adored it so when I started seeing all the buzz for Little Fires Everywhere I knew I had to read it. It's contemporary fiction which is not normally my everyday read but there's something so delightful about Ng's writing that I seem to be consumed by her work.

Little Fires Everywhere is a masterpiece about families, ones with fathers, ones without, adoption, and the relationships between the members of these families. The Richardson family are long established in Shaker Heights so when Mia Warren, an artist, and her daughter Pearl roll into town, Elena Richardson is only too pleased to be seen to be doing something for a poor, starving artist and rents them her upstairs apartment. Elena has four children, Trip, Lexie, Moody, and Izzy, and has an easygoing relationship with all of them except Izzy. Izzy is her problem child, the one she spends her time being completely exasperated with. But is this because Izzy is the problem child? Or is it because Mrs. Richardson fears she will lose Izzy and finds it easier to push her away?

When Moody strikes up a friendship with Pearl, Elena is secretly pleased that Izzy then seems to take a shine to Mia and in that way that happens with intense friendships, Pearl starts spending most of her time with the Richardsons, and Izzy starts spending time with Mia, wishing that Mia were her mother.

It's these intense relationships that make Celeste Ng's novels. The pace is slow and delicious, an impressive example of a character-driven novel. Nothing much may happen in Little Fires Everywhere but it doesn't need to, you lose yourself entirely in all the character's stories. Both principal and secondary characters have their stories told, all perfectly interwoven, telling the tale of what happened to each and every one of them to get them where they are today. The driving point of the start of the breakdown of these relationships is a court case over custody of a baby, adopted by friends of the Richardson but whose birth mother is a friend of Mia's.

These characters are not perfect, they all have their flaws but they are perfection to read about. By the end of the story they have all been through something and some, if not all, take a long look at both their lives and their behaviour. Apparently, Reece Witherspoon has bought the rights to Little Fires Everywhere and I can see why. I'm not normally a fan of books-to-tv/movie adaptations but I'm looking forward to seeing these characters on the small screen. This is one book that will stay with me for a long time as I loved it even more than Everything I Never Told You, and I am now eagerly waiting to see what comes next for Celeste Ng.

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
ISBN - 9781408709719
Publisher - Little Brown
Release Date - November 9th, 2017

About The Author

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a 'best book of the year' by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Huge thanks to both Grace Vincent and Little, Brown for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and a copy of one of the best books I've read this year. Please do check out all the other bloggers taking part on the tour which runs until November 14th. Links can be found on the LB Twitter account, @LittleBrownUK.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

November New Release Giveaway!

Welcome to the November 2017 New Release Giveaway Hop, hosted by It Starts At Midnight! The hop now runs all month long so you can enter from now until midnight on November 30th. Up for grabs is any new release this month up to the value of $20 from the Book Depository as long as they deliver to your country - find the list of countries here

All you have to do is choose any new release published in November and fill out the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the linky for more chances to win, thanks for entering and good luck!

Monday, 30 October 2017

Curse Of The Werewolf Boy - Chris Priestley

Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom­laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!

But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What's their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?

Welcome to Maudlin Towers, boarding school for boys in an undetermined time period but definitely before cars were invented. Arthur Mildew and Algernon Spongely-Partwork, henceforth known as Mildew and Sponge, are taking part in the school jog (up a mountain) and supervised by the sports master, Mr. Stupendo, when they spot a Viking in the ha-ha* What follows is a hilarious tale in detectivating, with possible Roman ghosts, a Temporo-Trans-Navigational-Vehicular Engine, Vikings, and the mystery of the School Spoon.

Mildew and Sponge don't like Maudlin Towers, it is pretty rubbish, so when the School Spoon goes missing and the Headmaster threatens to cancel Christmas the boys know they're the best candidates to detectivate the incident. However, it's not going to be that simple...

Chris Priestley has long been a favourite author and his Tales of Terror are fantastic. In Curse Of The Werewolf Boy, he brings his trademark illustrations and Gothic storytelling to a younger audience, along with a good dash of humor. Mildew and Sponge are an excellent comedy duo, mostly without meaning to be funny, and the supporting characters are wonderful. How can they not be, with names like Miss Bronteen, Hipflask, and Footstool?

If you're looking for a spooky Halloween read for a middle-grade reader then do try the first instalment of Maudlin Towers, spooky without being frightening, extremely funny, and with some absolutely superb illustrations. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book to what Mildew and Sponge get up to next!

*ha-ha - a ditch running alongside the school playing field...

Curse Of The Werewolf Boy - Chris Priestley
ISBN - 9781408873083
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Release Date - October 5th, 2017
Find - Goodreads | Book Depository


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

This Week In Books #2

I have decided to join with the lovely Lipsy from Lipsy’s Lost and Found's feature, 'This Week In Books', which highlights our week in books. Here are the books that I've just read, am currently reading, and just about to start. Clicking on the book pics will take you to their Goodreads page. This week's post is a day late, but better late than never...


I was going to skip reading this before starting The Princess & The Suffragette by Holly Webb but decided I may as well re-read it.


 I've essentially spent the last nine days re-reading and then finishing the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine. I read the first four books in the series and then somehow never got round to reading the rest of them. I heard a rumor that there's a new book coming, which is what prompted me to start them again.


It's either going to be


Both are on my Halloween/R.I.P. reading list but I can't decide on which to start first...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

#ShelfLove - October Check-In

Didn't I just write one of these updates? If anybody knows what happened to September please do let me know... October, R.I.P., spooky reads, horror movies - my favorite things in one month! I've hit my R.I.P. reading target already so anything I read in October is going to be both a bonus and from the TBR pile. Still no surgery news but I do have an appointment with my orthopaedic surgeon on October 19th so keep your fingers crossed for me.

I read 32 books in September. And how many were from my TBR pile?  Not as many as I hoped. My #ShelfLove total increased by 17 this month, taking me up to 118 books from the TBR pile so far this year. Over the next 3 months I have to read 62 books from my TBR pile which is probably not a realistic target.

I'm almost done with my Goodreads challenge though. I'm currently at 92% with only 20 more books to read to hit my target. I'm deliberating over whether to leave it as is or to change it slightly by increasing the total up to 275. What to do...

Here are the facts and figures for September's reading and Shelf Love.

  • Read at least 15 of my own books a month - they have to have been on my shelves up to and including December 2016
  • For every 15 books read I'm allowed to buy 3 brand new books
  • For every 20 books donated to either charity or the library, I can buy 2 new books

Ill Wind - Rachel Caine (reread)
Heat Stroke - Rachel Caine (reread)
Knife - R J Anderson (reread)
The Boy With The Cuckoo-Clock Heart - Mathias Malzieu (reread)
Masque Of The Red Death - Bethany Griffiths (reread)
Velveteen - Daniel Marks
Prom Nights From Hell - Meg Cabot
Cuckoo Song - Frances Hardinge (reread)
Karen Memory - Elizabeth Bear
Golden Girl - Sarah Zettel
Inside The Worm - Robert Swindells (reread)
Don't Look Now & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier
The Fall Of The House Of Usher & Other Stories - Edgar Allan Poe
Fox - Jim Crumley
The Word For World Is Forest - Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
The City Of Dreams & Nightmare - Ian Whates
The Dresskeeper - Mary Naylus


September Reading By Numbers

Read - 32

Own - 19
Kindle - 6
Library - 7
TBR Challenge - 17
Review  - 4
Re-read - 6
 #ShelfLove Target - 118/180

Wishlist - 2652
TBR (Vaguely more accurate) - 1546 (It went up again...)
Goodreads Challenge Update

Monday, 2 October 2017

Death In The Stars - Frances Brody

Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Giggleswick School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive.

During the eclipse, Selina's friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can't help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year. With the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs. Sugden, Kate sets about investigating the deaths - and whether there is a murderer in the company.

When Selina's elusive husband Jarrod, injured in the war and subject to violent mood swings, comes back on the scene, Kate begins to imagine something far deadlier at play and wonders just who will be next to pay the ultimate price for fame...

I'm absolutely thrilled to be on the blog tour for the ninth installment of the Kate Shackleton mysteries, Death In The Stars. I've now read five of these wonderful mysteries and I'm completely hooked! Last October I read (and loved) Death At The Seaside but Death In The stars couldn't be in a more different setting.

Selina Fenelli, known to legions of fans as the Silver Songbird asks Kate to accompany her and a friend from the theatre to an eclipse viewing at a local boy's school. At first, Kate thinks nothing of it, that Selina only asked her because she knows she has contacts at the local airfield and can arrange to have the three of them flown to the school. However, Selina has a different reason for asking. Over the last eighteen months two of her fellow stars on the music hall tour have died, seemingly in tragic accidents, but Selina isn't so sure and is terrified that something is going to happen to her or Billy, the chap accompanying them to Giggleswick for the eclipse.

When Billy dies at the school Kate realises that Selina might not be paranoid about the previous accidents after all but as Billy was a known drug user thanks to injuries from the war it's thought his death was either a tragic overdose or simply natural causes. Kate being Kate decides to investigate anyway, albeit reluctantly, and after finding a cigar on the school grounds that might not be an ordinary cigar the investigation picks up steam.

Mrs. Shackleton is once again aided and abetted by her housekeeper, Mrs. Sugden, and ex-policeman Jim Sykes, along with the addition of Alex, the head boy from Giggleswick, who wants to be a doctor but given his help in this case might also have a career as a detective, and her niece, Harriet. Appearances from Selina's fellow performers lend some light relief but it's impossible to get away from the darkness that has settled around the theatre. As in previous books everybody is a suspect, including Jarrod Compton, Selina's elusive husband who, along with Billy, was severely injured in the war. Compton is probably the main suspect from the start as he doesn't seem to like anybody being too involved in Selina's life and because of his facial disfigurement is always covered from head to toe, adding an aura of deceit to his person.

Yet again the 1920's setting is perfect, from the theatre and the music hall stars coming towards the end of their popularity to the simplicity of life back then. The mystery is completely gripping with twists and turns on every page. As usual, I got sucked into the red herrings that Frances Brody so wonderfully included and it wasn't until just before the big reveal of the villain that I realised who that really was. If you like your crime in a more gentle fashion without the blood and guts, then the Kate Shackleton mysteries are definitely worth a read. I mentioned Miss Marple, Daisy Dalrymple, and Phryne Fisher in my review of Death At The Seaside but this time I need to add that Kate Shackleton is definitely up there with the best of them and is becoming a firm favorite.

Death In The Stars - Frances Brody
ISBN - 9780349414317
Publisher - Piatkus
Release date - October 5th, 2017

About The Author

Frances Brody is the author of the Kate Shackleton mysteries, as well as many stories and plays for BBC Radio, scripts for television and four sagas, one of which won the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award. Her stage plays have been toured by several theatre companies and produced at Manchester Library Theatre, the Gate and Nottingham Playhouse, and Jehad was nominated for a Time Out Award.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

October New Release Giveaway!!!

Welcome to the October 2017 New Release Giveaway Hop, hosted by It Starts At Midnight! The hop now runs all month long so you can enter from now until midnight on October 31st. Up for grabs is any new release this month up to the value of $22 from the Book Depository as long as they deliver to your country - find the list of countries here

All you have to do is choose any new release published in October and fill out the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the linky for lots of other chances to win, thanks for entering and good luck!

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