26 May 2017

REVIEW: One Italian Summer

ONE ITALIAN SUMMER
by Keris Stainton


Pages: 288 paperback
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: May 4th 2017
ISBN: 9781471406386
Received From: Hot Key Books

Summary 

It's been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie's dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer's here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy - but what's it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms - the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was ...  
With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again - gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with - or so she thinks. What's going to happen this time? What's more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky - Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn't know how she fits in any more.  
Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had?

Review

This book made me so happy I don't even know where to begin! It is the perfect book for summer with its picturesque backdrop of Rome and it's will they won't they romances. One Italian Summer is the first Keris Stainton book I've read and if this is anything to go by I'm off out to get the rest of her books right now! It was effortless and charming from the very start and I didn't want to put it down.

One Italian Summer is the story of Milly, the middle child in a family thats holding on by its finger tips. After their fathers death Milly, Elyse and Leonie have to find a way to live with the heartbreak of loosing the most important man in their lives because as much as it feels like everything is falling apart life keeps on going. However, with a family wedding this summer the girls get whisked away to Rome, where family comes together, love interests are around almost every corner (normally kissing someone else) and Milly and her sisters have a chance to really heal.

This book got me right in the feels guys! I mean I'm a proper daddy's girl so any book like this was going to choke me up but there was something about the way in which Keris Stainton writes that drags you into the page and makes you feel every word. There was a genteelness to One Italian Summer that felt effortless to read and the characters are all so incredibly captivating that you couldn't help but fall in love with them right along side Rome.

One Italian Summer feels like a movie, you can imagine the ups and downs, the will they wont they romances and the sadness behind the characters all playing out on screen in glorious technicolor. Maybe it's just me but when a book translates like that when reading I find them all the more engaging, which is a testament to the writer. The story is full of highs and lows, a wedding, nights under the stars, ice cream and even a mini road trip that will make you swoon.

Overall this book is one of my all time favourite summer reads, I would put it atop of any must reads  list for the beach and with the sun now finally starting to show its face it is the perfect time do crack open One Italian Summer and immerse yourself in Milly's story. You wont regret it! 

24 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #20



THE GIRLS GUIDE TO SUMMER
by Sarah Mlynowski


Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781408343869


Summary 


Sydney Aarons is leaving her Manhattan townhouse for a summer backpacking around Europe with her best friend, Leela. They're visiting London, France, Italy, Switzerland and everywhere in between - it's going to be the trip of a lifetime. 
BUT... The trip gets off to a bad start when Leela's ex-boyfriend shows up on their flight out of JFK. When they touch down in London, Leela Instagrams their every move in the hope Matt will come and find them... Which he does, along with the most gorgeous guy Sydney has ever seen. 
Will Sydney's summer fling last the distance? And what will happen when they all head home?


PUBLICATION DATE:
15TH OF JUNE

I'm actually super excited about this one as it actually just landed on my doorstep a few days ago. I have a few books ahead of it on the TBR pile but I'll hopefully get around to it soon :) P.S. I now have a blog Instagram!!! Go check it out <3



What is your #WaitingOnWednesday this week? Comment below as I'm excited to see what everyone else is looking forward to! 






22 May 2017

BLOG TOUR: Wishbones

WISHBONES
by Virginia MacGregor

Pages: 384 paperback
Publisher: HQ
Publication Date: May 23rd 2017
ISBN: 9780008217297
Received From:  HQ
Summary 

Feather Tucker has two wishes:

1)To get her mum healthy again

2) To win the Junior UK swimming championships

When Feather comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mother – one of Britain’s most obese women- in a diabetic coma, she realises something has to be done to save her mum’s life. But when her Mum refuses to co-operate Feather realises that the problem run deeper than just her mum’s unhealthy appetite.

Over time, Feather’s mission to help her Mum becomes an investigation. With the help of friends old and new, and the hindrance of runaway pet goat Houdini, Feather’s starting to uncover when her mum’s life began to spiral out of control and why. But can Feather fix it in time for her mum to watch her swim to victory? And can she save her family for good?


Review

"We carry the past with us, and sometimes that past is so very, very sad that it haunts us and damages us." 

I know I say this a lot but honestly I was taken aback by this book! It wasn't at all what I expected and it got me right in the feels. There is something about the way in which Virginia MacGregor constructs a story that has you needing more and questioning everything right up until the last page. 

Wishbones is the story of Feather and her Mum as their family is pushed to breaking point when Feather finds her mum in a diabetic coma on New Years Eve. Before this point Feather just saw her Mum as her Mum, not the most obese woman in Britain. Her weight didn't affect who she was but after New Years everything changes and Feather takes in upon herself to get her Mum healthy. However, people don't just shut themselves in their homes and start eating themselves to death, something must have triggered it and as Feather goes on a journey to get her Mum back she is about to discover more than she ever imagined possible. 

This is one of those books that matter because it brings into focus something really important. Eating disorders aren't just something people decide to do because they are bored it is a disease and as well as this an eating disorder isn't just someone who goes to extremes to loose weight, it works the other way to. We live in a time where more and more people (women especially) are shouting out body positive messages but as a whole when people see someone who is over weight words like lazy, fat, ugly, shame get thrown around all too easily. As someone who is over weight (no where near Feather's mum overweight but still) I could sympathise with Feather's Mum on a lot of things, for example not wanting people to see you. I've struggled with my anxiety a lot over the last few years and having people give you dirty looks, shouting abuse in the street and the instant judgements you get can make changing even harder. I think the one thing this book really puts across is that no matter the nature of an eating disorder there is always a reason behind it. Whether that be an illness, a major event/tragedy or something else completely, what is important is that we as a society stop judging and start empathising. This book shows exactly what a little empathy and support from the people around you can do. 

What I loved about Feather was that even when she was doing my head in (and there were a couple of moments) her heart was always in the right place. She wanted what was best for the people around her and throughout the book she becomes a much more understanding character. The book isn't just about her mother though, there is the typical teenage shenanigans, love, friendship and a strong emphasis on working hard to achieve your dreams. It is books like this that make me remember why I love YA so much. 

Overall I would whole heartedly recommend Wishbones to anyone and everyone. It is has moments that will make you laugh out loud and moments that will have you fighting back the tears. It was unpredictable and engaging from the very first chapter and filled to the brim with characters that you can't help but fall in love with. So what you waiting for, go read Wishbones and find your inner Feather. 


EXTRACT

was born seven weeks premature. An incubator baby. Tubes stuffed up my nose, eyes screwed shut, looked like a tiny wrinkly vole. 
I wasn’t meant to survive. When the nurse put me into Dad’s arms for the first time, he said: She’s light as a feather. That’s how I got my name. 
Kids at school think it’s funny, the boys especially. Featherweight champ, they say. Quack quack, they chant, waddling with their feet turned out. 
Tweet tweet, they chirp, flapping their arms. I was so small that doctors came up from London and peered at me through the incubator walls and journalists sneaked onto the ward to ask questions and take photos. 
I wonder whether that was what made Mum hospital- phobic – the scare she got from me being so small. And then I think about her other phobias too and where they came from, like her leaving-the-house phobia and her swimming phobia and her running-out-of-food phobia. 
You were the tiniest baby Willingdon had ever seen, Dad’s told me more times than I can remember, like I’d won a prize. Anyway, it’s all turned out to be what Miss Pierce, my History teacher, calls ironic, because people say the same thing of Mum now – except the opposite: that she’s The Big- gest Woman Willingdon Has Ever Seen. People sometimes ask me if I’m adopted. I know what they’re thinking: how can someone so small belong to someone who takes up as much space as Mum? 
People are still really interested in Mum and her weight and the fact that she hasn’t come out of the house in years. Last summer, I found Allen, a reporter from the Newton News, hiding behind our hedge with his camera angled at Mum’s bedroom window. He said he’d give me a hundred pounds if I let him take a photo. I told him to get lost, obviously.  
Anyway, Mum’s been chubby ever since I’ve known her, it’s just the way she is. What’s more important for you to know is that she’s the best mum in the world. A mum who’s funny and clever and always has time to listen and doesn’t obsess about stuff like homework and being tidy – or eating vegetables. And although she’s a little on the large side, she’s beautiful, like proper, old-fashioned movie-star beautiful: long, thick, wavy hair, a wide, dimply smile and big soul- ful eyes that change colour in different lights – sometimes they’re blue and sometimes they’re green and sometimes they’re a brown so light it’s like they’re filled with flecks of gold. 
Whenever I think about Mum and how awesome she is and how close we are, I realise that there can’t be many daughters out there as lucky as me. 
So Mum being overweight has never mattered to me. 
As far as I’m concerned, there are a million worse things a mum can be. 
That is, it never mattered until last night, New Year’s Eve, when everything went wrong. Really, horribly wrong.


If you want to know more about this book why not check out the rest of the tour stops, see what other bloggers thought of Wishbones, enter giveaways and get to know Feather and her Mum. 



19 May 2017

REVIEW: Wayfarer

WAYFARER
by Alexandra Bracken


Pages: 534 paperback
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Publication Date: 17th January 2017
ISBN: 9781786540027
Received From:  Quercus Children's Books

Summary 

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected - Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master's heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta's past could put them both at risk. 
Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realises that one of his companions may have ulterior motives. 
As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognisable ... and might just run out on both of them. 

Review

I was a little late to the Passenger hype but having now read both instillments of the the duology I am officially a fangirl! It was only a couple of months between reading both books but I found when I started Wayfarer I noticed how much I had really missed Etta and Nick. The character's, the story, the world in which Alexandra Bracken creates is riveting and magical and everything you could possibly want from a YA fantasy.

**Spoilers for those who haven't read the first book** 

Wayfarer starts where Passenger finished, with Etta lost in a time line that is not her own, her mother on a mission no one quite understands and Nick helplessly trying to find his way back to the girl he has unquestionably fallen for. In a quest to stop the Ironwoods from changing history Etta and Nick are pushed to their limits. The dangers and the risks are bigger than ever before and it's no longer as simple as saving Etta's mother anymore. The whole of history as they know it is at risk and with new faces bringing more trouble that ever before will Etta and Nick make it to the end of the story in one piece? 

"Love. Sacrifice. Release"

There is something about these books that just make me happy. There are moments that are heart breaking but when I'm reading them I can truly escape into the world in which Alexandra Bracken creates. There is something in it for everyone! There are pirates, adventure, history, fantasy, love and friendship. It is very rare you find a book that has so much and does it so well but Wayfarer is definitely one of them! As the final instillment of this duology, I was worried it wouldn't live up to the first book but in a way I think it surpassed it. There was something about the development of our favourite time travelling protagonists that kept me on tender hooks from the very first page. I'll admit I normally get a little wherry of the whole cat and mouse chase but the worlds in which these characters travel between are magical and dangerous all a the same time and I found myself needing to know what happened next.

Overall this was the perfect end to Etta and Nicks story. There was no questions left unanswered and it felt complete. Yes, I'm sad there isn't another book but Bracken managed to conclude in a way that left me completely satisfied. I know this is a story I will go back to and read again because after reading both books I care about these characters. This is YA at its best and I hope you all love(d) it as much as I did.


"Then may the best pirate win"


17 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #19



THE HAWKWEED LEGACY
by Irena Brignull


Pages: 304 paperback
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 9781408341896


Summary 


Poppy Hooper doesn't want to be the queen of the witches.
But some problems can't be left behind.
Some love stories can't be forgotten.
Some friendships won't be broken.
And some enemies won't stay dead…
The battle for the throne isn't over yet.


PUBLICATION DATE:
JUNE THE 1ST


What is your #WaitingOnWednesday this week? Comment below as I'm excited to see what everyone else is looking forward to! 






15 May 2017

REVIEW: The Hawkweed Prophecy

THE HAWKWEED PROPHECY
by Irean Brignull


Pages: 425 paperback
Publisher: Hatchette Children's Group
Publication Date: 16th June 2016
ISBN: 9781408341704
Received From: Hatchette Children's Group


Summary 

The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast. 
Poppy Hooper has managed to deceive her father into believing that there is nothing mysterious or unnatural about her. He ignores the cats that find her wherever she goes, the spiders that weave beautiful lacy patterns for her, even her eyes - one blue, one green with an extra black dot orbiting the pupil. 
Ember Hawkweed is a pitiful excuse for a witch. When the other girls in her coven brew vile potions, Ember makes soap and perfume. Fair and pretty, Ember is more like a chaff than a witch. One of the Hawkweeds will be queen of the witches - but everyone knows it won't be Ember. 
When the two girls meet, Poppy discovers her powers, and finds out the truth. Bound by their unlikely friendship and the boy they both love, the girls try and find their place in the world. But the time of the prophecy draws nearer - and the witches won't give up the throne without a fight.

Review

If I'm being completely honest when I got this book I had no idea what it was about. Maybe it's because I was MIA from the blogging world when it came out but I hadn't even heard of it until it landed on my doorstep. The first thing I noticed about this book was the cover, instantly I was super excited because it is so beautifully designed I couldn't help but want to read it and as soon as I had read the blurb I was hooked. 

The Hawkweed Prophecy is a book about two girls from two very different ways of life. Poppy Hooper hasn't had the easiest of lives, moving from school to school because she always managed to get herself into trouble and peculiar things follow her around like a shadow. Then there is Ember, a witch like no other, her abilities are minimal at best and she finds herself drawn to things other witches in her coven dismiss. Both girls have one thing in common though, they both feel like outsiders in their world. However, when their lives collide they strike an unlikely bond, teaching each other about the worlds they are from and finding themselves drawn to each others ways of life. Throughout the book they both discover where they truly belong, but with the witches way of life at risk and Poppy's family reaching breaking point will they be able to find peace without starting a war. 

As much as the blurb hooked me once I started reading I was in two minds about this book as it took me a little while to get into. The story itself is captivating and unique but I struggled a little to connect with our main characters. It wasn't until about half way through that I started to feel like I knew them, which in hand made the story come alive for me. The Hawkweed Prophecy has a real emphasis on friendship and how sometimes it isn't all smooth sailing, some friendships you have to fight for. There is a strong coming of age feel to the book with a magical twist that I found really intriguing. 

If you follow my reviews then you'll know the reason I normally fall in love with books is because I can connect with the characters but with this book that wasn't why I enjoyed it. In fact I really struggled to like Poppy as a character for a while as I found her quite selfish in the beginning but it was Irena's way with words that kept me hooked. Her way of telling a story is descriptive and engaging, I could easily imagine being in the forest with these girls and that was what had me coming back for more. 


As a whole I did really enjoy this book. There was a real weight on family and friendship that was both endearing and heart breaking at times. There was magic and betrayal, first loves and prophecies. This book had a little something in there for everyone and I would definitely recommend reading it, especially as the second book, The Hawkweed Legacy, is out the 1st of June! 

12 May 2017

BLOG TOUR: Trust Me


TRUST ME
by Gemma Metcalfe


Pages: 209 Kindle
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: March 10th 2017
ASIN: B01M4KBUBM


Summary 
One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets.Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam’s.Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he’s too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger.As time runs out both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never imagined they would share.When you’re about to die will your secrets even matter?



My Advice on Becoming a Published Author 
by Gemma Metcalfe


Since becoming published, people have often asked me for advice on how to write a novel and how to get published. Of course it is a huge compliment, and a little surreal as I too was asking the same questions to authors not so long ago. I always find it incredibly difficult to answer this question because of course I can only really offer my own personal experience. Every author´s journey to publication is personal, and each one will offer different tales of how they got there. However, there is one thing in common with every author. We all fell in love with storytelling, with the written word, and we all picked up a pen, or a laptop, and began to write. 

  My first piece of advice to anybody wanting to become a published author is to do it for the right reasons; because you have a story inside of you that won’t be silenced, because you are thinking up plot lines when really you should be tuning in to your boss´ work presentations. If you were ´born to write,´ you will know about it. It´s like a scratch that you just need to itch, a way of escape from the pressure of life. Do not do it for the money! Believe me, I wrongly assumed myself that a publishing deal was a guaranteed gateway to wealth… I slowly learnt that my presumptions were incorrect. A publishing deal simple gets your book onto platforms such as Amazon, Kobo and iBook’s, and if you have a traditional deal you may also see it in print. Having a book deal does not necessarily mean lots of people will buy it, and royalties on books are pretty low. Of course many authors do incredibly well financially, but it is not something which normally happens overnight. 

  The next big question is obviously how to write a full novel. Many people start their writing career with short stories, and find the transition between two-thousand words and eighty thousand words pretty daunting. I was exactly the same, and there isn’t really a transition formula which I can recommend. The only difference I can think of between ´Trust Me´ and the other novels which sit on my computer unfinished is the story itself. I knew with Trust Me that I had stumbled on something unique, that although the idea was thin when I originally thought it up, it had potential to grow and become something much more complex.

  Then of course there is the publishing deal itself. Many writers enlist the help of an agent first, who works to secure the publishing deal on behalf of the writer. I sent my manuscript to agents and direct to publishers, and in all honesty it was the publishers (HQ digital) who shown an interest almost immediately and I signed a two-book contract with them. They are open to submissions at present from unsolicited manuscripts, so if you have written a novel, why not get in touch with them? 

  So there you are, that is my advice on how to become a published author: Write from the heart, make sure you would like to read the story you write, and send it off to every publisher and agent in the entire world!


Trust Me… If I can do it, so can you!   


Author


Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel ´Trust Me,´ is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where  she was never quite sure who would answer the phone…




Giveaway

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10 May 2017

Waiting On Wednesday #18



ONE OF US IS LYING
by Karen M. McManus


Pages: 368 paperback
Publisher: Penguin 
ISBN: 9780141375632


Summary 

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


PUBLICATION DATE:
JUNE THE 1ST


What is your #WaitingOnWednesday this week? Comment below as I'm excited to see what everyone else is looking forward to! 






8 May 2017

REVIEW: Windfall

WINDFALL
by Jennifer E. Smith


Pages: 320 paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication Date: May 4th 2017
ISBN: 9781509831708
Received From: Macmillan Children's Books

Summary 

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.  
At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.  
As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Review

I'm on a bit of a contemporary binge at the moment and this new book by Jennifer E. Smith was the perfect addition! There was something charming about Windfall that had me hooked from the very first page and I didn't want to put it down. I think everyone has wondered what they would do if they won the lottery but I don't image anyone expects it to unfold quite like this! 

Alice is hopelessly in love with her best friend Teddy (can’t blame her, I’m a little in love with him to) and on his 18th birthday she buys him a lottery ticket as a laugh. However, the gods of sods law decided it would be fun if this lottery ticket happened to be the winning one, making Teddy 140 million dollars richer than he was when he was 17. Throughout the course of the book Alice's relationship with Teddy is pushed to the limits as you see the way in which money changes Teddy and the people around him. All Alice wants is to see him do something special with the money but when she turns down her half she looses her say on what comes next. With college just around the corner, family drama and a past that would break anyone’s heart will Alice and Teddy make it to the end of the book with their friendship in tact? Only one way to find out!

I loved this book so much! There was something about these characters that just made my heart swell! Between Alice and Teddy they have had the worst of luck (not that Alice believes in luck) in life so far, with both of Alice's parents dying within 13 months of each other and Teddy getting the short straw on fathers. I think one of the things I loved most about this book was the relationship between these two! Teddy screws up a lot and Alice is set in her ways but together they bring out the best in each other. They fight, they make up, they disagree on things but they always have each other’s back with the important things! I have a bit of a crush on Teddy so I'm trying hard not to keep the gushing to a minimum. 

There is also a big emphasis on random acts of kindness within this story. If you haven't heard of this then Google it but in short it’s simple, small acts of kindness for no reason other than to make someone else's day a little bit brighter. Whether that is a simple hello to a stranger or buying someone a coffee, these small deeds make someone’s day. There is enough bad shit going on in the world right now, which is why I think I admired this book so much. Yes its fiction but it brings to light a movement that still a lot of people don't know about. Random acts of kindness and simply passing it forward helps more than people imagine and this book highlights the significance of the smaller gestures. 

Overall, this is the perfect book for anyone looking for a contemporary YA. It is my favourite Jennifer E. Smith book to date (and that's saying something because The Geography of You and Me had me swooning for days). It has a strong emphasis on friendship and family, dealing with your past and making a difference to your future. It had moments that made me want to slap certain characters but mostly is made me smile. So if you haven't read it yet I whole-heartedly recommend it.