Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Fantasy/YA

Karou has two lives to juggle. She is a seventeen-year-old student in Prague and an errand girl to a creature who owns a business in Elsewhere. Raised in his shop but never visiting Elsewhere, she knows nothing of how she came to be there as a baby and never quite feels whole. Now she has to choose between her comfortable life here and the war ravaged world that may hold of the answers.

This almost felt like a book of three parts and four perspectives but when the reason they were interlinked was revealed, I was genuinely surprised. There was another very revealing (and shocking) moment similar to this toward the end but I cannot tell you the reason for that either as it would spoil the entire story.

Don’t let the almost chick-lit parts of the first half of the book put you off if you are into epic fantasy. This is a huge story that really gathers momentum and weight around half way through. It is part of a trilogy and so the plot and characters develop in accordance to that. Trust me, by the time you reach the end, you will be obsessed with reading the next book in the series.

Chrissie

Book Review – How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

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Hattie looks like she is set to have a miserable summer as her family are on holiday, her best friend Kat is at uni in Edinburgh and her friend with benefits (if you can call them that) Reuben has disappeared to Europe. When Hattie realises she is pregnant all she wants to do is run away from the idea so when her long lost Great-Aunt Gloria suggests a road trip she decides to go, even though Gloria is in the early stages of dementia and loves a Gin Sling or two, or three….

I have to admit this novel took a long time to grab my attention. Between Hattie’s constantly meandering thoughts and Gloria’s hostility I was beginning to loose patience with it. I was a third of the way through and the road trip hadn’t even started yet. However, when it did I found it hard to put it down.

Gloria doesn’t want to just reminisce, she wants to tell a very specific story about her (and Hattie’s) family but she will only reveal the details in order and when she thinks it is the right time. This creates a lot of suspense and unexpected twists. What is revealed is a story of love, fear, friendship, humour and compromise in the past and the present.

The novel is a lot deeper than I first realised and touches on every emotion a person will experience throughout life. To reveal certain topics would be to spoil the book but over all it is a story about relationships, opportunities missed and taken and the consequences of these actions. It is also about the relationship one has with one’s self. If your thoughts and memories were to cease to exists then would you also disappear?

Chrissie

Girl Missing by Sophie McKenzie (no spoilers)

Imagine if everything you new about your life turned out to be a lie. When Lauren starts to realise her adoptive parents aren’t telling her the truth she sets of on a journey to uncover secrets surrounding her adoption. However certain people will do anything to make sure those secrets stay buried.

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Girl Missing grabbed my attention from the start and held it until the end – not an easy feat. After I’d finished reading I realised and was tired, thirsty and hungry but because I’d been so absorbed in the plot I hadn’t even noticed! Perfect pacing and the right balance of dialogue and action, likeable but flawed characters and plot twists which aren’t obvious makes this one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read.

Author Sophie McKenzie does a wonderful job of creating secondary characters that are three dimensional and relevant in their own right. Main character Lauren can be a little self absorbed and her friend Jam can run out on her at the worst moments but these are teenagers facing very difficult odds and they do realise their failings and admit there mistake. It’s because the characters are relatable and likeable that really drives this story along as well as the mystery and danger. I’ve read incredibly well constructed novels before but had to abandon them because I couldn’t tolerate the characters.

I highly recommend Girl Missing to both adults and teens and will certainly be passing this on to a few friends and my bloke to read.

This 10th Anniversary edition includes a deleted scene and a Q&A with McKenzie.

https://missingkids.com

Chrissie

Book Review – The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time

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WrittenbyMark Haddon this is one of the most unique and intriguing books you will ever read. Narrated by 15 year old Christopher Boone it is darkly funny, emotional and a detective novel in a very unexpected way. Christopher has Asperger’s and his father has a very big secret, which sends his son on a revealing and incredibly brave journey.

I admit that I missed some of the more subtle humour as I found myself approaching the text from Christopher’s honest and black and white point of view. Like I was reading it completely from his perspective – which is just one of the genius things about this novel.

Here’s one of his thoughts on life which made me laugh:

“Eventually scientists will discover something that explains ghosts, just like they discovered electricity which explained lightning, and it might be something about peoples brains, or something about the earths magnetic field, or it might be some new force altogether. And then ghosts won’t be mysteries. They will be like electricity and rainbows and non-stick frying pans.”

It is a rare novel that makes me cry and laugh, that lets me zoom through it with ease and contains lists and illustrations from the protagonist which are entertaining and informative.

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My bloke has had this on his bookshelf for years and I can’t believe I’ve only just got around to reading it, seeing as it was also recommended to me by several friends over the years. Read it. It will entertain you and give you more empathy and understanding than you’ve ever had before.

Chrissie xx

Clariel by Garth Nix (fantasy) & Competition!

Clariel is the fourth book in Garth Nix’s popular Old Kingdom trilogy. I haven’t read the others but as this is a prequel to the other three so I found it didn’t matter. Scroll down to win a copy of your own!

 

 

About

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. In Belisaere Clariel is forced to follow plans, plots and demands so she must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all. It seems that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating. With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape.

My thoughts about the story and characters (no spoilers)

I read Clariel for five hours with only tiny breaks in between. This is the longest a book has ever captured my attention! I love fantasy as long as it’s not too cliched with cheesy dialogue and too many elves and dwarves running about the forest. Clariel is set vey much in it’s own time and land so the characters, the city and the story have a timeless – at times almost contemporary feel. Nix has a way of effortlessly creating a scene in the readers mind that does not interfere with the pacing of the dialogue or the progression of the narrative.

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Clariel is a strong and determind protagonist but she also has her flaws (some of which she is even aware of) so she becomes an increasingly complex character. At first I wasn’t sure if the book had a fairly week premise: Catch creature, return home a hero but I was as naive as Clariel at that point! The supporting characters range from the sweet and surprisingly brave Bel, the cold hearted Guildmaster Kilp, Clariels strong willed mother and the slithery Moggart. There is magic all through this book which lies within people, swords and stone rather than wands which I was pleased about if I’m being honest. I also liked the way this book dealt with good and bad intentions and how the line between such opposites can easily become blurred. Here’s what other fans thought.

To sum up

Warning: There are no ‘real’ dragons featured – the cover is cleverly deceiving. This is a YA (young adult) book but I’ve leant it to my bloke who’s really looking forward to reading it. I really don’t think it matters what age you are as the narrative doesn’t stay in the classroom for very long before it escapes outward to places far beyond.

Win a copy of Clariel below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I was gifted this book to review which does not shape my opinion of it.

Review: The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women

The last time I reviewed a book was Othello for GCSE English, so while waiting to recieve this through the post* I was pondering how exactly I’d go about it. Upon opening it I realised this had been pointless as The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women by Lehla Eldridge isn’t like any other book I’ve ever read. It’s a fantastic collection of fun and sweet ideas punctuated with Lehla’s brilliant, slightly eccentric illustrations.

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It’s so easy for us all to get grumpy, stressed, tired and generally complacent about the (so called) little things that make life lovely. This book reminds us that we have more to appreciate, more to enjoy and more power to support each other than we sometimes realise. Lehla brings so much warmth and humour while including examples that are both universally truthful, yet specific, the book has the uncanny knack of feeling like it’s been written just for you.

I've just got into the habit of standing alone in the kitchen enjoying my perfectly cooked eggs, haha!

I’ve just got into the habit of standing alone in the kitchen enjoying my perfectly cooked eggs, haha!

 

It’s fantastic for reminding us we should make time to treat and pamper ourselves…

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Support each other and having self confidence…

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Getting in touch with our soulful side and enjoying the simple things in life…

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Looking outside ourselves and being generous of spirit…

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I couldn’t think of a better present for someone you like, love or even admire to make them smile and most likely laugh out loud. The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women is basically a hug in book form.

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Lehla Eldridge has fitted so much into her life all ready including acting, illustrating, writing, creating theatre, running a restaurant and being a wife and mum, that you wonder where she finds the time to do the things included in the book. But I suppose that’s the point: To be mindful, high-spirited, kind (to yourself as well as others) and to make the time to appreciate it and enjoy it all!

You can all get 20% off the book and free p&p at Pinter and Martin by entering the code lbblog20 at the checkout.

*This book was kindly sent to me by the author for review purposes.