Archive for October, 2016

Unboxed

Non Pratt

Unboxed is about four teenagers who come together after several months apart. In previous years, they had put together a time capsule about their best summer with a friend who was dying. Now that their friend has passed, they reunite to open the box.

I went into this book with high expectations. Having heard of many people who had read the book and really enjoyed it, I expected it to be a good read. Fortunately, I am here to report that I really liked the book. It was a short book so I was a little worried that I would not have a chance to fully connect to the characters but I need not have worried at all. All of the characters were well grounded, well thought-out and easy to imagine and like. I especially connected with Alix who is our main protagonist. I loved how you could really get inside her head not only to understand more about her but also to understand more about this small group of teenagers and the lives that they live.

It was wonderful getting to know each of the different characters and this small brief part of their lives. I loved that it felt like you were witnessing something magical as they delved into their past and what it was that essentially brought them all together before tearing them all apart again. It was beautiful in so many ways and the book ends in such a hopeful and bright way that you can’t help but imagine that from now on, these four will not let anything get in the way of their friendship. It’s just such a perfect short but poignant story that I would highly recommend to others.

Verdict:This is essentially a very emotional and magical book that will touch your heart when you least expect it.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 140
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
Posted on:

The Graces

Laure Eve
the gracesEveryone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

The Graces follows (you guessed it) the Grace family, but more specifically River. The rich, beautiful and powerful Graces captivate River, as they do with every one in her town. Why? – Because everyone believes Summer, Thalia and Fenrin Grace can do magic. So when the family seem to take River under their wing, welcoming her to where everyone has tried but failed to be, she commits herself to being a Grace. However, as River grows closer to the family she learns that becoming a Grace has a price and carries consequences she could have never imagined.

I went into this hoping it would either be a twilight-esque frustrating romance but nevertheless an unput-a-downable read or a kickass witch book with mind-blowing magic. Unfortunately though, this book was neither and all in all I found it rather underwhelming.

Although beautifully began I found the latter stages of the novel painfully slow and lacking clear direction. I felt the main character was very depressing and just not an enjoyable narrator. Additionally, I felt her obsession with the Graces was disturbing and to be honest I didn’t really want to learn more about them.
My main problem with the book was the lack of plot; it read like it hadn’t been planned and lacked any real climax. I also felt it was quite forced in trying to be dark and mysterious and therefore didn’t really create the atmosphere I was looking for.

One thing I did quite enjoy was the dialogue, which at times was sharp and easily read. Furthermore, I did like Summer’s character as I thought Lauren Eve had constructed her well, with her dimension being well written.

To conclude, I did find the beginning of the book quite enjoyable but once we were past the opening stages the plot lost most of it’s intrigue and thus failed to captivate me.

Verdict: What disappointed me the most was how much potential it had, the synopsis sounded so intriguing and I therefore went in with high expectations only to be let down.

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
Posted on:

Blog Tour: Shadow Magic

Joshua Khan

Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?
Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

First up, can you tell us something unique about you?
I have no birth certificate.

What was your favourite part about writing Shadow Magic?
The scenes in Castle Gloom. It was great to create the spookiest haunted house ever, but one where people lived in, and loved. I loved writing about the characters who lived there, all the way from lily who rules it down to the old servants who moan and groan but you know, deep down, would never wish to be anywhere else. And of course the ghosts who’ve been there longest of all…

Where is your favourite place in the world?
Oh, that changes all the time. This year it was a balcony in Croatia, at night, watching the lights of the boats on the sea.

If you could have one fictional character as a best friend, who would you choose and why?
Superman. He’s my favourite superhero and I’d like to know how he remains good in such a world. It must be nigh-impossible.

Who is your favourite character in Shadow Magic?
Gabriel. He’s horrible, selfish, nasty and completely useless. But by the end you sort of feel sorry of him.

When you’re in the writing zone, do you have any peculiar habits? (i.e. writing in a dark room, drinking bizarre drinks).
I like writing in cafes. I write better when there’s some background activity. Ok, it’s not that odd. The study at home is south-facing, so sometimes during the summer I write with my trousers off. Is that better?

What was your favourite book as a child?
The Hobbit. It’s still my favourite book.

If you had to describe Shadow Magic in a tweet (140 characters) what would you say?
Take one princess of darkness. Add an outlaw boy. Shake in some giant vampire bat. Then give them the job of saving the kingdom of undead!

Questions by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Upper MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
Posted on:

Blog Tour: The Elders

Inbali Iserles
FOXCRAFT THE ELDERS Isla’s search for her missing brother, Pirie, has brought her to the vast Wildlands. The forest is a treacherous place for a fox cub, but Isla is talented in foxcraft — ancient arts of cunning known only to her kind.
Skilled though she is, Isla’s grasp of foxcraft is still new. And she’s not alone… A cruel and mysterious fox stalks the forest, with the power to enslave others to his will. In order to survive, Isla must learn to trust in the rustic Wildlands foxes.
But there are tales of others — a council of Elders who are masters of foxcraft, and who warily guard its most potent secrets. If Isla wishes to master her gifts and find her brother, then the Elders may be her only hope.

First things first, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
Hello! Hmm, let me think… I was born in Jerusalem but if you go back far enough, the Iserles family was Spanish – and interestingly, that’s where most people guess I’m from on the basis of looks.

What else? Not a lot of people know that while I love aubergines in almost every form, I’m scared to touch them because I burned my hand on one as a child.

And finally… Although I have an incredibly sweet dog, a Japanese Spitz called Michi, I would never define myself as a “dog person” or a “cat person”. I’m an animal lover and it’s in my DNA. As a child, I appalled my grandmothers by feeding stray cats and nagged my parents for pets of every kind (including hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, cats and a guinea pig). I love all animals really… Yes, even rats. Even snakes. This doesn’t mean I’d invite either into my bed!

How different was it writing a sequel?
In some ways, writing a sequel is easier as you have already established the parameters of the world – something that requires careful handling in fantasy. One of the challenges is how to recap on the previous book without bogging down the action. I prefer a light touch where possible, with gentle clues and reminders buried in plot-driven sequences.

What is your favourite aspect of writing?
I absolutely love thinking up stories. The thrill of new landscapes, of magic and fantasy worlds… The shaping of characters… This is what I live for. I’m less of a natural editor as by the time I’m editing the manuscript, I already know what happens, and I’m excited to get to the next thing. To edit, one needs patience – a quality I possibly don’t have in abundance…

Where is your favourite place to write?
I usually write in my study. I love the idea of writing in cafes but I’m far too easily distracted. I download playlists for each book but I don’t listen to music while I actually write. I’m a fan of writing retreats when these are feasible, and my favourite bolt hole is a lovely little place on the Suffolk coast, nestled between marshes, woodland and sea.

Can you tell us anything exciting about your main protagonist?
The series is told in first person through the eyes of Isla, a young fox. She returns to her den to discover that her family has disappeared and strange foxes are circling. The den itself smells of cinders. The foxes turn on her and she flees into the night. That is how the adventure begins…

I found it thrilling to narrate a story through a fox’s perspective. Isla is brave, loyal and stubborn. True to her kind, she is inquisitive – sometimes at her own expense. She takes risks.

If you could live in any fictional world, where would you choose to live?
Hobbiton in Middle Earth, but only after Sauron has been vanquished!

What was your favourite book to read as a child?
As a young child, I was a fan of Mog, Judith Kerr’s famously forgetful cat. I then became enchanted by Tove Jansson’s Moomin adventures. I still adore all things Moomin! Moving into my teens, my favourite book was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Such characters, such a sense of time, of mood. Of jeopardy and hope!

Can you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters)
Foxcraft: The Elders

Isla’s quest continues. The mysterious Elder Foxes hide deep in the Wildlands. Can they unlock the secret of her brother’s disappearance?

Questions by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
Posted on:

Blog Tour: The Puppet Master

Abigail Osborne

Manipulated by fear and love…could you cut the strings and take back control?
Billie’s hiding from the world, believing it to be the only way to take control of her life as she lives in fear of the man who nearly destroyed her. But what she doesn’t realise is that she’s exactly where he wants her; isolated and afraid. A chance meeting with budding journalist Adam sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. But will Adam be able to see the real Billie buried under her terror and pain?
Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives she ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him but as unwanted attraction and feelings blossom between them, Adam is forced to realise that all is not as it seems.
Most of their lives have been unknowingly governed by the desires and needs of someone who considers himself their master. He has influenced and shaped them for years, meticulously weaving a web of lies and control around them. Can Billie and Adam survive the betrayals in store and cut the strings that bind them?
One thing is for sure. The master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

Let’s start simple, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello, thanks for having me. Well, I’m a Needs Assessor, which involves helping students with disabilities at University. I live in the West Midlands with my husband and my two crazy cats Poppy and Lulu. I also have my own book reviewing website called Many Books, Many lives. I love to read and my spare room has so many book cases there is a very real possibility the floor may cave in.

Writers should be readers too, so… what is your favourite book at the moment?
Oh that is so hard, I have so many but if I had to say my all-time favourite book it would be Jane Eyre. It was the first book that made me realise how much power writing had and how gripping it can be. It gave me friends when I didn’t have any and just made me feel less alone. I reread it all the time.

Where did you get your inspiration for the Puppet Master?
I got my inspiration from various things that have happened to me and my friends. I always find it fascinating how people can have many faces. They can control you without you realising and what’s more, they think they have every right to do that. I have experienced manipulative people in my life and I wanted to write a book that showed not only the different ways people can be manipulated but also that these people don’t have to win and it is possible to take back control.

What is your favourite beverage to have while writing?
I am a massive diet-coke addict. I don’t drink coffee or tea so for me it is the only way to get a caffeine fix. It wakes me up and gives me energy when I’m lagging. I don’t even think I particularly love the taste I just think it’s the energy boost I like.

What was your favourite part of writing the Puppet Master?
My favourite part was writing the parts that came purely from my imagination. I would read it back and I would think to myself – where did that come from. It’s a really strange and enjoyable feeling reading back something that didn’t exist until you wrote it down, if that makes sense.

If you could live inside any book world, which world would you choose and why?
That is very hard. It’s going to have to be Harry Potter’s world. I mean magic wands and apparating! Don’t even get me started on playing Quidditch (FYI – I would totally be playing professionally!)

If you could be best friends with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
One of my other favourite books is The Name of Wind and I would love to be friends with Kvothe, I really love his character and his personality, plus you know there is going to be adventure wherever he is!

Can you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters)
My book is about the power manipulative people can wield and the strength it takes to overcome horrific ordeals and not let them define you.

Interview questions by Faye


Abbie was born in the Lake District and has moved all around the UK since then until she met her husband at University. She lives with him and their two crazy cats in the West Midlands. She is a Needs Assessor for students with disabilities and has her own book reviewing blog called Many Books, Many Lives. Even though she did English Literature at University it wasn’t until she started reviewing books that she realised how much she loved to write. The Puppet Master is her first novel but it certainly won’t be her last.
You can follow her on @Abigail_Author or @MBequalsML.

Posted on: