Sunday, 15 April 2018

Truly Wildly Deeply - Jenny McLachlan

Annie is starting college. She can’t wait. No more school, no more uniform, and no one telling her what to do. It’s the start of a new adventure and Annie’s not going to let anyone or anything get in the way of that. Freedom matters to Annie. She has cerebral palsy and she’s had to fight hard to get the world to see her for who she truly is.

Then she meets Fab. He’s six foot two, Polish and a passionate believer in…well, just about everything, but most of all Annie and good old fashioned romance. The moment Fab sees Annie, he’s wildly drawn to her and declares she must be his girl. Annie’s horrified. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s anything, especially if it means losing her independence.

But then Annie finds herself falling for Fab. As things go deeply wrong, Annie realises that love can make you do wild, crazy things, and so she sets out to win his heart with a romantic gesture of truly epic proportions!

I've read a few of Jenny's books now but Truly Wildly Deeply has taken top spot as it could quite easily be describing my best friend from high school. P had cerebral palsy too, and we spent our days in the school library but  unfortunately without the added bonus of our own Fab to brighten our days. The school librarian was male but sadly rather old and not at all good looking!

Annie is at college and, for the first time in her life, independent. She's looking forward to making friends and developing her social life although living with a disability does indeed leave you exhausted, with no energy left by the end of the week and having to decide what takes priority in your life. For a teenager this is twice as hard, I have trouble as a disabled adult, but Annie is soon going to parties and on 'friend' dates with Fab. Except Fab isn't aware these are friend dates and as far as he's concerned Annie is his girl. Which makes her run a mile...

Truly Wildly Deeply is a truly beautiful story of acceptance, friendship, first love, and  relishing teenage independence, even with one of the coolest mom characters I've come across in YA fiction today. I loved her mom's Great British Bake Off habit, maybe without the cheese and onion crisps though! I could go on forever about all the wonderful things in this book, Hilary for example who is a fabulous best friend as anybody who wears yellow glasses would be or the boys in the cafeteria who also have their own quirks, or Jackson, the boy in the train from Annie's old school whose relationship with his girlfriend scared Annie on a daily basis. I won't though. Instead, all I'll do is tell you to read the book yourself, and see what a beautiful thing Jenny has created - a main character whose disability does not define her, who knows that she can do anything she wants to.  Even fall in love...

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Tell No Lies - Lisa Hartley

Now they’re coming after Caelan’s team…

A tortured body is found in a basement. Drug dealing and people smuggling 

are on the rise. Then police start going missing.

There seems to be no connection between the crimes, but Detective Caelan Small senses something isn’t right.

Plunged into a new investigation, lives are on the line. And in the web of gangs, brothels and nerve-shattering undercover work, Caelan must get to the truth – or be killed trying.

And then there’s Nicky...

Tell No Lies is the second book in the Caelan Small series by author Lisa Hartley. The story kicks off immediately after the terrifying events of Ask No Questions and the discovery that one of their own was indeed involved in murder. It's hard to know how to talk about Tell No Lies without giving away spoilers for the first book. This is one of those rare instances where I think you really do need to read Ask No Questions first otherwise you'll be floundering slightly, with no clue as to some of the things that are mentioned.

Lisa Hartley has created a fascinating character in Caelan Small, famed for her chameleon-like ability to blend in and not be noticed. Working as an undercover police officer is perfect for Caelan but still reeling from shocking truths at the end of Ask No Questions she's doubting herself and her colleagues. The last thing she wants to do is work with someone who she doesn't trust but this new case involves a dead police officer, drug dealers, and brutal murders.

Gritty and blunt, Tell No Lies doesn't hold back on the punches and you're soon deep in the story, cringing every time Caelan thinks she's been made or has done something she probably shouldn't have. The tension created by the death of the young police officer leaps off the page and even though you know he's a police officer you find yourself wondering exactly what he was doing when he was killed. All of Ms. Hartley's characters are well written, for police officers you're never quite sure if you can trust them but I can only imagine this both because of the undercover nature of most of them and because of events in book one.

I was hooked from page one of Ask No Questions and read Tell No Lies immediately after finishing it, turning the pages until it was well beyond my bedtime! The ending was another clever twist with the culprit being the person you'd least suspect and Caelan yet again ending up in hospital, that's not a spoiler as I'm assuming there will be a third book given the events of the last chapter which I will definitely be reading.

Tell No Lies - Lisa Hartley
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - February 19th, 2018

About The Author

Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. She is currently working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel, as well as the new Caelan Small series with Canelo.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Brightstorm - Vashti Hardy

Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don't believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family's reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?

If you're looking for a fast-paced, steampunk-ish, middle-grade adventure story, then look no further. Brightstorm by debut author Vashti Hardy is all that and more. Featuring twins Arthur and Maudie, grieving for their father who has been accused of a crime he didn't commit and evicted from their family home,  who join Harriet Culpepper and her crew on the sky-ship Aurora, heading for South Polaris, from whence nobody has ever successfully returned to civilization before.

Desperate to clear their father's name Arthur and Maudie decide to join a new expedition heading to the last place he was seen alive, on an unknown sky-ship that has been ridiculed by the Geographical Society. Maudie is ecstatic, she has always loved all thing engineering and mechanical (including the iron arm she made for Arthur) but Arthur is quieter, more sensitive, a bookworm and just about the only male character who features prominently. The captain of the Aurora is Harriet Culpepper, aided and abetted by Felicity Wiggety and Welby, her butler. Harriet is like Maudie, highly inventive, and where other ships might fail to reach South Polaris, Harriet has devised a new type of engine, one which might mean they are the first crew to discover the unknown reaches of South Polaris.

Vashti Hardy has created a stunning new world, one which is easy to get lost in, and one in which I would love to join them on an expedition. There are whales and kings, sapient animals (Parthena, the Brightstorm's white hawk, and Queenie, Harriet's cat) which are no doubt a nod to Philip Pullman and his daemons. There are talking wolves (my favorites) and bandits, and villains trying to stop them reaching South Polaris by any way necessary. The writing is a sheer delight to read and for a debut novel was almost perfection, Brightstorm is going on to the 'keeper's' shelf and I can't wait for the eight-year-olds to read it. The books itself is gorgeous with a foldout flap featuring the map of the Great Wide and the cog & compass illustrations at the start of each chapter are a wonderful addition.

Brightstorm is a fresh, amazing debut about friendship and family, and I can't wait to read more, whether it's more adventures with Arthur, Maudie and the rest of the crew or something completely different. Huge thanks to Scholastic for sending me a copy of the book and inviting me to take part in the blog tour! If you want to read more reviews, guest posts and interviews with Vashti, then do check out all the blogs taking part.

Brightstorm - Vashti Hardy
ISBN - 9781407181707
Publisher - Scholastic
Release date - March 1st, 2018

About The Author

Vashti Hardy lives near Brighton and was a primary school teacher before moving into digital marketing. She is an alumni member and buddy at the Golden Egg Academy. Brightstorm is her debut novel published by Scholastic.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

March New Release Giveaway

Welcome to the March 2018 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 March 31st. 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 March and fill out the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Friday, 9 February 2018

Force Of Nature - Jane Harper

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.

Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?

When I read The Dry last year I fell in love with Jane Harper's writing, both her description and characters were almost perfect and made for one of my most compelling reads of the year. It went on to become the Waterstones Crime Book of the Month (twice) and in several publications, it won awards and Reese Witherspoon's production company has bought the movie rights. I didn't think it was possible to improve on The Dry but with Force Of Nature? Jane Harper has done just that. I've had a copy of the book since August last year and I've read it twice, and it's on my list of books for top ten of 2018 already.

The affable Aaron Falk makes a welcome return and, along with his colleague Carmen in the Financial Crimes unit, soon becomes embroiled in a missing persons case. The connection to his department? The missing woman was their informant into an investigation into company fraud and the people she went into the Giralang Ranges with happen to be the top bosses of BaileyTennants. It was supposed to be a team building weekend, learning to trust their co-workers, a team of 5 men and a team of 5 women. When the deadline passes and only the men have returned things take a turn for the worse. Eventually the women return, but Alice is not one of them. The question is, has she merely walked away or did someone go into the Bush with murderous intentions?

Jane Harper has created another amazing thriller, with an eclectic mix of characters and once again using the Australian bush as a character in its own right. She keeps you on your toes as to what exactly happened out there, a simple case of a woman wanting to disappear or someone who knows just what she's been doing and can't risk her staying alive once the weekend is over. How far would one of the other women go to keep a secret? Alice Russell is far from a likeable character, even Falk and Carmen don't particularly like her very much, but that's no excuse for violence.

The story flips between the current search for the missing woman and what actually happened during the days the women were in the wilderness. This builds both a picture of the women themselves and how they got on, along with a snapshot of the investigations and their home lives, building the momentum until we finally find out what really transpired while they were alone.

Force of Nature was a masterpiece of misdirection, I was suspicious of everyone from the gas station attendant to the chap running the retreat, the rangers at the local lodge where Falk was staying to Daniel and Jill, Alice's bosses. There was the added menace of a local serial killer who although he was dead, had a son who hadn't been seen for several years, and so of course anybody male came under suspicion too. The discovery of the truth of Alice's disappearance stunned me. Once again I'd gone for every option but the right one, distracted by the red herrings and ignoring the hints that led to the real story.

As I said with The Dry, if you like intelligent, well written, gripping thrillers then you should add both Force of Nature and The Dry to your reading lists. Although this is the second book in the Falk series you could read this as a standalone but really, to fully appreciate Jane Harper's wonderful, descriptive writing you need to read both. Huge thanks to Grace Vincent and LittleBrown for an advance copy of the book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. I'm off to buy the gorgeous limited edition hardback now as Force of Nature is a keeper and I'm sure I'll be re-reading while I wait for Falk no. 3 (fingers crossed)!!!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Spyder - Matt Carr

Introducing... Spyder - code name 008 (legs). It's not easy being a super special secret agent when you're only as big as a pin badge. But when a birthday cake is under threat, SPYDER is called upon. It's time to pack the spy-kit with binoculars, a top-secret laser pen and... a banana. Will Spyder save the day, AND the party? Matt Carr, author-illustrator of the internationally acclaimed SUPERBAT, has created a new picture book masterpiece that will have readers both big and little chuckling with laughter - mission accomplished!

Spyder is the fantastic second book by author-illustrator Matt Carr. His first, Superbat, was a firm favourite with the twins who loved the minimal colour palette used and adored Superbat's desire to be a superhero.

Spyder is the story of an intrepid eight-legged spider who works as a spy, Codename 008, and her bid to save a little boy's birthday cake from villain Bluebottle. Being an agent and a spider is hard work though, as there are lots of obstacles in her way, the least of which is Mr Webster's Sock of Doom. Bluebottle is a formidable enemy though and manages to elude capture until the very last, with a cunning plan by Spyder saving the day.

As with Superbat, Matt used a very minimalist colour palette with bright blues, yellows and reds, drawing your eye to each and every page. I love that there's a mix of different fonts which made it easy for the twins to read it out loud, taking turns by each font used. The style of Spyder has a glorious, nostalgic feeling and along with the subtle touches of humour (Miss Moneyspider!) will entertain the adults too.It's a bright, arachnid adventure that will hold any child's attention and of course, let them know that there's no need to be afraid of spiders. You never know when one might be an agent in disguise!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Dark Game - Rachel Lynch

Kelly’s gut turned over as she realized the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out.

After a scandal forces D. I. Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies.

Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get to the truth…

I read some amazing thrillers last year featuring female detectives/leads and it looks like 2018 is going to be the same. Rachel Lynch has created a fantastic character in Kelly Porter, struggling to adjust living in her childhood home after leaving London under somewhat of a cloud. 

Moving back in with her mother and dealing with her older, bitter sister Kelly is also looking into a cold case that turns out to be linked to her current case involving one of the area's most prominent businessmen, found dead in one of his hotels. The cold case involved a ten-year-old girl who was brutally murdered and her father was the only suspect at the time. Now, Kelly is determined to bring the child's mother some peace but doesn't realize just exactly what she's about to become involved in.

In the beautiful and seemingly quiet surroundings of the Lake District, you certainly don't expect to find drug running, illegal fights, people trafficking, and crime bosses, but this is what Kelly uncovers and somehow it all ties into Lottie's disappearance and death.

It was, quite literally, a case of 'up all night' for me when reading Dark Game. I picked it up before bed expecting to read a couple of chapters but four hours later I was turning the last page, having become completely immersed in Rachel Lynch's wonderful writing and gripping plot. Kelly Porter is not without her fault. She left London after being accused of being too reckless but this is exactly what these two cases need to get to the bottom of them both, to find justice for one and hopefully save lives. You get to see the darker side of one of the most beautiful places in the UK, where nothing is as it seems and if you scratch the surface, don't be surprised at what you find underneath. Rachel Lynch has created a compelling and engrossing main character and I can't wait to see what DI Kelly Porter gets up to next!

About The Author

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Dark Game - Rachel Lynch
Publisher - Canelo
Release Date - January 29th, 2018
Find - Goodreads | Amazon UK | Kobo

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