WWW Wednesday: 7th February 2018

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingThe Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1)

I received an email ages ago from NetGalley saying Tessa Dare’s latest book The Duchess Deal was available for request and being unable to resist temptation I requested then totally forgot about it. Needless to say I received notification during the week that my request had been approved and being on the hunt for some light and fun reading couldn’t resist giving it a try and I have to admit it’s been just what I’ve been needing. It’s a historical romance and has a Beauty and the Beast type plot and it’s absolutely hilarious. I don’t know if it’s just my weird mood but I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh so much.


Recently Finished

Force of Nature

The weather was pretty good at the weekend and I had some family events and a book signing so it’s been a bit of a slower reading week for me. I did however manage to finish two books, the first of which was Force of Nature by Jane Harper which I received from NetGalley. This is the second in the Aaron Falk series although it could probably be read as a standalone (but I do recommend the first book The Dry).

I am definitely going to be looking out for more in this series as I loved this book as much if not more than The Dry. This time the story’s about five women who head out on a corporate retreat but only four of them make it back. As Falk has a connection to the missing woman he becomes involved in the investigation. This is an absolutely riveting read and yet again it’s the setting and characters that are the stars. It’s another rather slow paced story but has so much tension it’s completely addictive.

The Belles (The Belles #1)The second book finished, The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, was also a NetGalley pick and one of my most anticipated books of the year. I have to admit I found it a little slow in the beginning and I began to have my doubts about all of the hype around it but by around a third of the way through I was hooked. The world building and descriptions are absolutely brilliant and I found this world where beauty is all important to be fascinating. The plot is not necessarily the most original, you could see a lot of things coming but I did like all of the power plays and back stabbing. I’m hoping to get a full review up this week.


Reading Next

I’m currently juggling three team reading challenges (why do I do this to myself) which is restricting my reading choices at the moment but I have a couple of ARCs and a couple of library books which I’m really excited about and need to sneak in somehow. Most exciting of all is that I found The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue on Overdrive. I have been desperate to read this since I first heard about it, I just hope I haven’t built it up too much.

Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons, #2)The Last LaughSkin DeepThe Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading!!

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Teaser Tuesday: 6th February 2018

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I received an advance copy of this from Netgalley and started reading it at the weekend. I will admit I had my doubts about it in the beginning but now that I’m just past the halfway point I am absolutely loving it. It has some brilliant world building and I suspect many of the characters are not who they appear to be.


My Teaser

“Some lies are delicious,” I say.  He doesn’t laugh. “Lies are as dangerous as a sword. They can cut to the bone.”

~ loc 2176 The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


BlurbThe Belles (The Belles #1)

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry by Jane Harper
The Dry
by Jane Harper

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Believe the hype. This book is just as good as everyone says it is.


THE BLURB

A small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by an award-winning new author.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.


MY REVIEW

Everyone kept telling me how good this was but did I listen? I really wish I had as this book is absolutely brilliant especially when you consider it’s the author’s first. It may not have a wholly original plot (is there an original murder mystery?) or be particularly fast paced, but it has some great characterization and such a wonderful sense of atmosphere that it’s difficult to put down.

The setting of a small farming town in Australia is absolutely central to this story and for me was by far the highlight. There has been a long term drought, the weather is hot and so are the tempers creating such a powerful atmosphere. The whole town seems ready to ignite with the smallest little spark and it’s a close knit community where everyone knows everyone’s business and grudges are never forgotten.

This is the town where policeman Aaron Falk grew up before he was driven out of town. He’s forced to return when childhood best friend Luke becomes the victim in a triple shooting. The police believe it to be a murder suicide, he killed his wife and son before turning the gun on himself, but his parents aren’t so sure. They convince Falk to stick around for a few days and look into things. As he works with the local policeman Raco he also begins to have his doubts that everything is as it seems but what motive could someone have for killing them and how long can Falk stick around in a town where almost everyone seems to hate him.

There isn’t a huge amount of action in this story but it’s still gripping reading. Aaron Falk makes for an intriguing main character with a dark past. Yep it’s a little cliched, detective forced to return home and face his past while investigating a case, but Harper does it so well that you don’t mind. I particularly liked that the author didn’t go down the route of lone detective going against the authorities but instead had Falk forming a partnership with the local police officer and the relationship between them was brilliant.

I loved the methodical nature of their investigation and how they followed the clues, interviewed witnesses and suspects to get to the truth. There isn’t any super high tech forensics or moment of inspiration but rather a good old fashioned investigation where one clue leads to the next. That’s not to say there isn’t the odd red herring or that it’s easy to guess the ending as this story certainly keeps you guessing. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers but I can honestly say the ending of this surprised me.

If I had one small niggle, and this is just my personal preference rather than a fault with the story, it’s that I felt the author wrapped up a little too much. That’s not to say everything is fully resolved, there is a lot that’s left open (it is the first book in a series after all), but there was one answer in particular that I didn’t want.

This is definitely one I’d recommend if you’re looking for a great mystery that may not be fast paced but is absolutely packed full of atmosphere and tension. I can see Harper becoming one of my favorite authors.

Review: The Last Romeo by Justin Myers

The Last Romeo by Justin MyersThe Last Romeo by Justin Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful writing and a scarily accurate portrayal of the dating scene make this a very readable and addictive story. It left me with very mixed feelings but that can only be a good thing can’t it?


THE BLURB

James is 34 and fed up. His six-year relationship with Adam has imploded, he hates his job making up celebrity gossip, and his best friend Bella has just announced she’s moving to Russia.

Adrift and single in loved-up London, James needs to break out of his lonely, drunken comfort zone. Encouraged by Bella, he throws himself headlong into online dating, blogging each encounter anonymously as the mysterious Romeo.

After meeting a succession of hot/weird/gross men, James has fans and the validation he’s always craved. But when his wild night with a closeted Olympian goes viral and sends his Twitter-fame through the roof, James realises maybe, in the search for happy-ever-after, some things are better left un-shared. Seriously, wherefore art thou Romeo . . .


MY REVIEW

When I finished this, very early one Saturday morning, I felt so mixed up about it. Did I enjoy it? I’m honestly not sure. I think it was so completely different from what I was expecting it confused me.

There is certainly a lot to really like about it. The writing is excellent and there’s a lot more depth and realness to it than I was expecting. It’s wonderful to finally come across a book with a gay main character who’s looking for love that gives such an accurate portrayal of the dating scene.

As a main character, James (or Jim) is very genuine. He’s far from perfect, he’s insecure, doesn’t seem to really like or value himself but he is someone I’d want as a friend and there was so much I could relate to. I didn’t particularly agree with everything he did (a lot frustrated or worried me) but I could certainly understand it. Similarly his experience of dating, while uncomfortable and awkward a lot of the time was very believable and true to life.

I really loved the other characters and the way the relationships between them were portrayed. I think the author really captured modern friendships and how your circle of friends can become in fact your family. I also loved the commentary on celebrity and social media and found it so relevant. Myers has a very successful blog (I hadn’t read it before picking up the book but have now and it’s brilliant) and works as a freelance writer and columnist for several major publications so his knowledge and experiences really shine through.

Unfortunately however I think it was the realness and the depth that stopped me from loving this. For some reason I was expecting a bit of a light and fluffy romance and the fact that it was so completely not this threw me off. It has some funny moments but at times it goes a little bit dark making it more uncomfortable rather than enjoyable to read.

Overall, I’m not sure my feelings on this will ever be clear. The more I think about it the more I think yes that bit was brilliant or I’m really not sure I liked that bit. It definitely challenged me so I think I’ll just suggest that you read this for yourself and make your own mind up.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

WWW Wednesday: 31st January 2018

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingForce of Nature

My reading is a bit all over the place at the moment, I keep starting books then changing my mind so technically I’m probably partway through about five. My main focus at the moment is however on Force of Nature by Jane Harper which I received from NetGalley. I started it on Monday and unlike the other books I’ve started since the weekend it’s definitely holding my attention. It’s the follow up to The Dry (although it could be read as a standalone) and I think may turn out to be even better.

Still no progress on Frankenstein I’m afraid. I wandered off and started listening to something else over the weekend so this was put on hold.


Recently Finished

The team reading challenge I’m participating in is still playing havoc with my reading plans at the moment, which is proving to be both good and bad. I’m finally getting the push to read those books that have been on my TBR for years but the timing is not always right for my mood and I have found myself having to rush them at times to meet a deadline. I have however finished x books this week which is pretty impressive for me.Moxie

The first book finished this week was Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (technically I finished it last Wednesday but I’m still counting it). This was one of those books I’d bought ages ago but had been putting off due to all of the hype around it. I’m always super wary of hyped books (particularly YA contemporary) as they often disappoint, but this was one of the exceptions.

It’s not perfect (I wouldn’t say it was a five star read) but I did find myself really enjoying it and think I read the whole thing it a couple of days. It’s about the girls in a school who get fed up being treated as second class citizens and decide to take action. It’s got a really strong feminist message but doesn’t get preachy so one I would recommend all YA’s read (girls and boys).

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)The next book finished, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, was all about the boys. Two 15 year old Mexican-American boys in fact, Aristotle and Dante, who become friends and discover some unexpected truths about themselves and the world around them. Unpopular opinion time, I didn’t love this. It may just have been that I was in the wrong mood for it (I’ve been working 60 hour weeks, totally stressed and still not completely free of that virus) and didn’t have much empathy for two teenage boys moaning about not fitting in / no one understanding them but the style didn’t really work for me either. It just seemed too episodic, jumping from one scene to the next with no real story (or point). I could appreciate a lot of the writing but sorry I just didn’t enjoy it.The Dry

The third book finished was RL bookclub book The Dry by Jane Harper and at long last we finally have a book club pick I really enjoyed. This is a murder mystery set in small town Australia during a drought. It’s not a fast paced or particularly original story but what I really loved was the sense of atmosphere the author created. It reminded me a little bit of Tana French’s stories where the focus is less on the murder or the action and more on the community and the detectives. I think this is going to be a new favourite series for me.

The Alchemist

The fourth and final book finished this week was the audiobook of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This was a bit of a random pick to fit a challenge task but I’m glad to have listened to it. I saw another reviewer describe it as a fable and I think that word describes it perfectly. I did really enjoy this, it’s not very long and has quite a simple story but does make you think. The one thing that I didn’t like about it is the way it portrays women. There are almost no women and those there are seem to be there solely as love interests or as an interference to the hero’s personal legend.


Reading Next

I’m going to see Pierce Brown at his Glasgow book tour stop tomorrow so I had been hoping to read Iron Gold before then but realistically that is never going to happen. I do still want to read it though so hoping to pick up at the weekend. I also have a couple of ARCs which are due to be published in February, The Belles and The Last Laugh so hopefully I’ll make a start on them too.

The Belles (The Belles #1)Iron Gold (Red Rising, #4)The Last Laugh

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below. I may be a little slow responding this week again due to work pressures but I’ll get there eventually.

Happy Reading!!

Teaser Tuesday: 30th January 2018

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe which I read at the end of last week. This is one of those books that’s been sitting on my kindle for a while and I’m only now finally getting around to reading. Unfortunately though I don’t think I was in the right mood as I just never connected with it and found it a bit of a struggle (probably not helped by having to rush the last 100 pages). I can however say that I loved a lot of the writing and highlighted many sections making it the perfect choice for this week’s teaser.


My Teaser

Her eyes were like the night sky in the desert.

It felt like there was a whole world living inside her. I didn’t know anything about that world.

~ 43% Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


BlurbAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

ARC Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood
The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow this book was good. So dark and creepy and just wonderfully well written. I found myself becoming lost in the story which considering how tired and stressed I was while reading it was pretty impressive.


THE BLURB

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. 

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .


MY REVIEW

I have to admit that while I initially had high hopes for this book, I did see some negative reviews that put a little bit of doubt in my mind. Thankfully though this book was right up my street. I am a huge fan of retellings and all things fairy tale and this, while not really being a retelling, certainly has the feel of one albeit a very dark and creepy one.

This is a story about stories where the lines between the real and the imagined become decidedly blurred. It’s a little confusing and frustrating at times and occasionally nonsensical but there’s so much mystery and so many twists that it’s difficult to put down. The world the author builds is incredible and draws you in so completely that it feels real. It’s dark and disturbing pretty much all of the time and I found myself getting genuine chill in places.

I’m not going to say much about the story as I think you really need to read it for yourself but essentially it’s a voyage of discovery for Alice as she tries to find her mother after she suddenly disappears. She uncovers a link to her recently deceased grandmother’s collection of dark fairy tales and has to find her way first to her grandmother’s estate, The Hazel Wood and then to the place that inspired her stories. She’s pretty much on her own with no other family and no money or resources so has to rely on a boy from school to help her but he seems a little too excited about going to the Hazel Wood.

The story is told entirely from Alice’s point of view and she is very much the focus of this story. There are other characters but they generally appear briefly, play their part and then move on. I’m not sure I would necessarily say I liked Alice but I’m not sure you’re supposed to. She’s cold, sharp and angry and not very nice but I did admire her determination and liked how the author developed her over the course of the story.

It was though, the other characters who left more of an impression on me despite only their relatively brief appearances in the story. They tended to the eccentric, with erratic sometimes violent behavior and talking in riddles (this is where it goes a little Alice in Wonderland). It’s rarely clear whether they are there to help Alice, are playing with her or using her for their own ends. I can understand some may find them frustrating and annoying but I just loved the mystery around it and found myself wanting more of them. There were a couple of characters in particular who I really wish we’d gotten to understand more about but if I’d gotten everything I wanted the book would probably be twice as long.

The one problem I will say I found with the characters however is that I thought the relationships between them were a little lacking. There just isn’t enough time spent fully developing them and consequently I didn’t feel their connection to each other. The relationship between Alice and her mother for example is key to the story, the whole plot is Alice trying to find her, but because her mother only appears briefly I didn’t feel any closeness. We have to rely on Alice’s assertions of how much her mother means to her which for me is not the same as showing it. Similarly the relationship between Alice and the boy who’s helping her just felt a little odd and uncomfortable. That may be intentional but even by the end there was something incomplete about it.

That being said though I did love the story. It drew me in completely, so much so that I almost missed my stop on the train. I especially loved the dark fairy tales that are told as part of the story and would really love it if the author wrote the whole complete collection at some point. Almost every story is left unfinished or interrupted and they were just so creepy and dark that I want to know how they end.

Overall, despite a few niggles over the relationships I have to say I really loved this story. It’s one I’d recommend to anyone who likes fantasy and fairy tales with a dark twist.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.

The Hazel Wood is due to be published on 30th January in the US and 8th February in the UK.