The Cauldron of Life virtual tour!

Welcome to the first day of The Cauldron of Life virtual tour! Book 2 in The Four Treasures series was published last week and I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you all.

The Stone of Destiny was Ailsa dragged from her lonely seaside life to help Iona and Angus on their quest to find the Stone. Angus joined them along the way and they all encountered some of Scotland’s most terrifying mythical creatures. Ending in a climactic final battle, Ailsa’s life is irrevocably changed by a revelation that shattered everything she thought she knew about herself and her life. One of the friends is then carried off by the faerie Queen’s minions leaving the book on a horrendous cliff hanger!

The Cauldron of Life picks up straight away, and throws all sorts of curve balls into the story. Click here to head to my Instagram to read my 4 star review.

To celebrate the launch of the book, and this virtual tour, Caroline Logan has kindly agreed to do a Q&A with me about her books. Read on to find out more.

Author Interview with Caroline Logan


To start with would you tell us a little bit about The Four Treasures series and what inspired you to write it?


The Four Treasures is a series of fantasy books based on Scottish mythology. Each of the books will centre around one of the Four Treasures, which are based on a legend called the four treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann – but remember, they’re only based on it, so they could be different. The series follows Ailsa MacAra as she tries to find the treasures, all whilst battling monsters and searching for her true place in the world.


Right at the end of The Stone of Destiny a huge secret was revealed to the reader which flipped the previous plot twists on their head! I love that we go into The Cauldron of Life knowing more than some of the characters. Could you tell us a little bit about your writing process and how you know when to reveal these big side-swipe revelations?


I’m a plotter, so I have all of the plot points for each book mapped out already. It makes it easier to sprinkle in little breadcrumbs before a twist is revealed. The series was originally going to be one book but as I plotted it all out I realised it would have to be a monster novel. I love finding easter eggs or foreshadowing in books, so I wanted to include that in my series. It’s my characters who often have the revelations but you can’t always trust they’ve got it right. I just hope I continue to surprise as we go through the books!

One thing I love is that each of your characters ooze with completely different personalities. Which character would you say is most like yourself?

I think each of my characters have a little bit of me in them, but I’d say Angus is the most like me. He’s optimistic, loyal and kind. I’m not grumpy like Ailsa (most of the time) but she’s the one who looks the most like me. Iona shares my love of fashion and I’m a bit rebellious like her. And I share Harris’s sense of humour, though some of the things he does I would never dream of doing.

In The Cauldron of Life you introduce lots of new characters. My particular favourites were Wulver and Muck. Which of the new characters was the most enjoyable to write and why?

I don’t think it will be a shock that I loved writing Maalik. And I will always love Harris, even if he’s totally unreliable and sneaky. There are a whole host of new characters in Book 3 that I’m enjoying writing right now too!

There is a lot of mythology in this series, particularly Scottish mythology. Which creature would you least like to bump into in the wilds of Scotland or whilst wandering through Eilanmòr?

The Nuckelavee definitely. It’s a cursed horse and rider, fused together. Its flesh has been stripped from its muscle and it smells so revolting that people faint when they meet it. While a lot of other creatures could be seen as neutral, Nuckelavees are evil to the core.

The elements seem to play an important part in the magic system in Eilanmòr. Why did you choose to focus on the elements, and have we seen the extent of what Ailsa can do with her air powers?

The four treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann are actually all linked to the four elements. The Stone of Destiny is earth, The Cauldron of Life is water. The other two are air and fire. I drew from this when I made up my magic system. Elemental magic seems very old and natural so I think it fits perfectly with the world. A lot of Scottish mythology is inspired by the landscape and natural world so I wanted magic that felt like it belonged.

My favourite part of this book was finally entering Ephraim and eventually meeting Nicnevan. Did any other fictional worlds inspire the Faerie Queen’s realm and which fictional world would you like to spend a day in?

Holly Black is my favourite author, so Ephraim was definitely inspired by her Folk of the Air series. I also drew inspiration from Lothlorien in Lord of the Rings and Pandora in Avatar. I wanted it to be beautiful and frightening. 
I’d love to visit the world in His Dark Materials so I could have a daemon or I would go to Narnia and make friends with all the talking animals.

Final question. For new readers could you sum up The Stone of Destiny and The Cauldron of Life in five words each?

The Stone of Destiny – Search for pals and rocks
The Cauldron of Life – Search for mothers and pots


Both The Stone of Destiny and The Cauldron of Life are available to buy now. Remember to support your local independent bookshops or order from one of the larger shops, such as Waterstones (other bookshops available), in order to get the word out about this wonderful little series. Here are some handy links!*

I would like to say a huge thank you to Caroline Logan for answering my questions, and to the team at Cranachan Publishing for sending me a review copy and organising this tour. Follow the other stops on the tour this week.

*I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY BOOKSHOPS

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 4

If you’ve been following along you’ll know that the end of chapter 30 saw Ailsa follow a horse into the woods only to find a mysterious stranger and realise she is not alone…DUN DUN DUN *dramatic musical interlude*. I couldn’t wait to race into this week’s reading!

During week 4 we have, again, found out lots more about the writing and inspiration of this book from the author herself, Caroline Logan. This week we’re talking more mythical creatures and fears.

Week 4: Chapters 31-41

Summary

These chapters started off with Ailsa being attacked by something whilst she was separated from the guys. We then followed her recovery from this ordeal holed up in a cute (or at least in my brain) rural tavern. We also have a traditional ceilidh, which is lovely to see in fiction, followed by the trio walking headlong into more danger.

My favourite part of this section

In one chapter Ailsa has a dream about her past where we get to learn a little bit more of her family life as a child. I’m really enjoying getting to unravel this backstory and seeing the true depths of hatred, fear, and prejudice experienced by and directed towards those that the communities of citizens perceive to be changelings. This chapter also shows the strength of Ailsa’s mother who ensured her daughter was able to live despite the villagers trying to knock the door down to take and murder her. I’m really intrigued to find out more about Ailsa’s mother and brother as these flashbacks feel very significant, more so than for character background purposes.

I also loved the development I saw in Harris. His personality is beginning to unravel and we’re starting to see just how much he cares for Ailsa. As I said previously, I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.

what i’m looking forward to in the next section

More Harris and Ailsa. More cuteness with Angus; I love that the two of them have such different relationships with him.

Don’t forget to join us reading along!

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 3

After Caroline shared some visual inspiration for the characters in her book during week 2, week 3 has seen some very specific scene inspiration, and some writing methodology.

I’m loving all of these ‘beyond the page’ updates!

Week 3: Chapters 21-30

summary

Walking and angst! Questing and cuteness. Ailsa, Harris, and Duncan head out on their quest to retrieve the Stone and bicker like an old married thrupple and I loved it. We also learnt a bit more about Prince Duncan and the life of a ‘spare’ in this world. Ailsa began to open up to the guys too, and there’s a definite hint of romance in the air between her and Harris. Let me tell you, I am HERE FOR IT.

What did i enjoy most?

The mic-drop at the end of chapter 30! I’m trying to be very strict with myself and write my next post at the end of reading the block of chapters. The final page of chapter 30 made it very hard for me not to race straight ahead.

I’m also loving that there are so many great redhead characters in this book. Growing up a redhead, I’ve often found in films/tv/books that redheads are the villains or ‘evil’ characters which bothers me. However I feel like the way Caroline is writing Harris and the other redheads is healing those little wounds. I don’t mean to sound all sentimental.

Only a short update for this week as I’m keen to race ahead into week 4’s chapters!

Join us with the read-along on Twitter!

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 2

In week 2 of this read-along of Caroline Logan’s first book The Stone of Destiny, we read chapters 11 – 20. I’ve also learnt lots more about this book as Caroline has been sharing insights of character inspiration over on her twitter page. My favourite discovery this week is the process of naming places in this fictional world.

Week 2: Chapters 11-20

Summary

In these few chapters we get to learn a little bit about the workings of court. We see how the court functions, including a ball and the King’s council. We also meet the Royal Family who are charismatic additions to the character list.

Most Promising new character

My favourite new addition to the book is without a doubt Prince Duncan. If Harris’s cheeky personality wasn’t already enough, Prince Duncan adds to this in bucket loads. He’s clearly the life and soul of the party and so much fun. Harris and Duncan bounce off of each other and their budding bromance is possibly my favourite relationship of the novel so far.

Stand out world building moment

I love how we’re slowly learning more about this world and I loved a subtle hint of the world beyond Eilanmor’s borders. The Crown Princess, aka pregnant Queen in waiting, is from another island in this world. When watching the prejudice that Ailsa experiences due to her birthmark and perceived status as a mythical changeling, the Queen retorts that in her land people believe the mark shows the child has been touched by the Gods. I love that this clearly means we have more mythological interpretations from the different populations in this world. I’m really excited to find out more, and it looks like Caroline is going to explore these things as the novel and series moves forward.

what am i most looking forward to in the next section?

This is slightly spoilery so skip the next couple of paragraphs if you haven’t read this far.

With Ailsa, Harris, and Duncan heading on a roadtrip/quest, I am fully anticipating this being so much fun. I sense a love triangle. I’m going to love the bromantic banter between the guys. No doubt our trio will also run into some trouble which will mean more badass Ailsa to enjoy. I really think the action is going to ramp up in the next block of chapters and I can’t wait! Bring it on.

You can catch up with the first part of the read-along for The Stone of Destiny by clicking here. Follow Caroline Logan on Twitter for more background information on the book as we continue reading!

The Stone of Destiny Read-Along, Week 1

The Stone of Destiny by Caroline Logan is the first book in YA series The Four Treasures. Ahead of the publication of book two, The Cauldron of Life, towards the end of this year, Caroline is hosting a read-along with bloggers and readers of the first book. She will be giving us insights along the way, and we will all be celebrating Scotland and the myths and legends that inspired this story.

Thank you very much to publisher Cranachan Books for sending me a copy to read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my first impressions of this novel and week 1 of the read-along. Visit Caroline’s Twitter to follow along and learn a little bit more about this series. Here she is to introduce you to her books!

Video originally tweeted by Caroline Logan 3,011🌈📚 (@bearpuffbooks) on August 3, 2020.

Week 1: Chapters 1-10

Summary

In this first part of the novel we meet the protagonist, Ailsa. We find her alone and living off the land. Very quickly she stumbles across a woman in trouble and saves her and her brother from attack. Whilst they are recovering from the attack the mysterious woman, Iona, convinces Ailsa to accompany herself and her brother Harris on their mission to offer them protection. Having nothing keeping Ailsa where she is, she agrees and the trio begin their quest by first heading for the capital city of the land.

What do i think of the characters?

I really love all three of the principle characters so far. Ailsa is a certified badass. She is ballsy and can handle herself. I’m really enjoying her snippy comments and her dynamic with Iona and Harris. I’m intrigued by the snippets of her life that we’ve learnt so far and I have so many questions about her past that I can’t wait to unravel. Iona is great too. She seems like the guiding light of this novel, all wisdom and grace. Harris is the comic relief and his witty remarks and comebacks are everything. The banter between him and his sister, and the arguments with Ailsa are everything. His personality oozes off the page.

What did i enjoy most?

I love the mythology element in this story. It lead me into a research spiral, which is always a good sign. In these first few chapters we learn that Ailsa is seen as a Changeling by the village she grew up in due to a birth mark on her face. It’s also quickly clear that Iona and Harris are Selkies, mythical shape-shifting seal people. I’m hoping we get to learn more about all of this as the novel moves forwards.

What am i looking forward to in the next section?

As well as seeing where the mythology develops, I’m looking forward to seeing what life is like in the capital city. I love world building so I can’t wait to see what this world has to offer, especially with such a stunning map in the front of the book!

Picture from Caroline Logan on twitter (@BEARPUFFBOOKS)

That’s it from me for week 1 of The Stone of Destiny read-along! Let me know if you’re joining in.

Review: A Very English Murder by Verity Bright

A Very English Murder, by Verity Bright

Format: e-Arc

Published date: 7th April 2020

⭐️ 2 / 5

Thank you to NetGalley who kindly provided this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to apologise for this long overdue review. I was sent this e-ARC a while before lockdown began. A busy few weeks at work pre-lockdown and the initial lockdown blues of being unable to concentrate enough to read have prevented me from reading and reviewing this book. I did manage to read this in its publication week and I’m happy to be finally sharing my thoughts.

Plot

Our protagonist, Lady Eleanor, witnesses a murder. Except the body vanishes, and the police seem to have no desire to investigate. So Ellie begins sleuthing around the village to solve the murder herself. On the surface this is my perfect book. This concept is so intriguing and I thought this would be a real brain teaser of a novel. Unfortunately not.

The plot began painfully slowly and didn’t really start getting anywhere until around half way through. Honestly I thought the whole first half of the novel could have been cut and it wouldn’t have impacted the story. There was one small side character introduced in the first few chapters that popped up again later in the novel to be useful in ultimately solving the crime, but otherwise there was nothing remotely useful or entertaining in the first half of the novel. Once the plot finally got a move on, everything was very predictable. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities for real red herrings and twists to really get the reader going. Unfortunately, I felt the plot was severely lacking in this area.

There was a lot of effort made to drip feed Eleanor’s backstory into the novel. This was the main thing that kept me interested in the book. All I wanted to know was what happened to Ellie’s parents and more about her global travels. *Spoiler alert* we don’t find out what happened to Ellie’s parents. I can only assume this is planting seeds for later books in the series however the mystery element of this mystery novel was not executed well enough for me to read another book in this series.

Characters

Ellie is a confusing character. She spends the first 20 chapters doing absolutely nothing except despising other characters in the book for not taking her seriously because she’s a woman. Bright uses Ellie’s every line of thought or dialogue to express that the police in the little village Ellie now lives in is backwards as there are no female officers. She constantly provides social commentary that the men around her are underestimating her before she even opens her mouth based on the fact she’s a woman. She even goes as far as to suspect characters of murder based on how they treated her as a woman and not a shred of motive or anything remotely relevant. The first couple of times it’s brought up, fine, that’s setting the scene. But after that? Honestly, Jesus Christ I get it. The novel is set in 1920s England. We know the social position of women in this time. I felt it was irrelevant to the plot or the character development, especially considering no semblance of a plot was taking place. The second the plot began heading somewhere, the ridiculous commentary stopped clearly showing it served no purpose.

So Ellie was set up as being very pro-women’s rights and very forward thinking for her era, so I thought ‘great’! Surely this means Bright is going to use her protagonist to shut down irritating tropes of women in the 1920s right? HAHAHAHA WRONG. Every time an attractive man enters her field of view she suddenly can’t function and goes weak at the knees. It’s all blushing and feeling faint when an attractive man strays too close. Very cliché.

So which is it? Fainting flapper girl and a hopeless romantic, or trailblazing modern roaring 20s woman (who FYI could have romance without the stereotypical weak, woozy, fainting cr*p).

Clifford, the butler, is a pain in the rear. One of his personality quirks is he is very pedantic. Fine, that’s established early on. But sometimes it feels like this gets in the way of meaningful dialogue and it SERVES NO PURPOSE. Honestly so infuriating.

I did however love the rest of the cast of household staff who each had distinct personalities, really contributed to Ellie’s character development and felt like tangible people.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately this book just left me feeling kind of meh. For the most part it felt like I was reading FanFiction of something, and I’d like to point out I’ve read novel-quality FanFic, but this is more an inexperienced author who hasn’t found a voice. The voice is confused, the third person narrative doesn’t work when Eleanor spends so much time inside her own head and voices dialogue to the dog instead of having the novel written in first person…but maybe that’s just me?

I’m really upset that I didn’t enjoy this book as the blurb sounds like everything I adore in a novel. I really expected so much more from this book…

I’d like to thank NetGalley again for sending this e-Arc to me in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Move over Miss Marple, there’s a new sleuth in town! Meet Eleanor Swift: distinguished adventurer, dog lover, dignified lady… daring detective?

England, 1920Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady

Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing… 

But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights… 

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha – book 2)

Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 435

Published: 4th June 2013

⭐️ 3.5 / 5

This book (and the entire series actually) has been on my shelf and my TBR for a long time. I bought all 3 books in the series several years ago and they’ve been sat on my bookshelf ever since. Towards the end of 2019 I finally got around to them, after uni destroyed my love of reading almost irreparably, and I am so glad I am now on this bandwagon.

Whilst I really enjoyed book 1, Siege and Storm actually had me rolling my eyes quite a lot. Here’s what I thought.

Plot

Just when you think Mal and Alina might have it a bit easier, at least for a little while, they get caught again. Guess who? Shock horror, yes that’s right, The Darkling is back – and only a handful of pages after they shook him off. That’s a theme of this book to be honest, escaping and then being caught again almost immediately by someone or another. The Darkling initially drags Alina with him whilst looking for the sea whip, AKA yet another Grisha amplifier, which he can use to further control her. Naturally they succeed because tracker extraordinaire Mal is on the case. He and Alina kill the sea whip themselves and then escape…

I couldn’t resist 😂 – I apologise to the non-Brits who probably won’t catch this reference.

The new band of escapees drop themselves straight into more trouble in the last place that Mal and Alina want to be in. It is capture disguised as freedom as they can’t really freely leave. Alina essentially doesn’t escape for the whole novel as The Darkling keeps appearing to her and causing problems. It’s exhausting and doesn’t seem to serve a purpose except to irritate the reader. Yes it causes conflict between certain characters but I don’t think it actually adds anything of value to the novel.

There’s lots more questing, when Alina discovers there is actually a third amplifier, which allows for a fair amount of world building. I loved that we were able to learn more about Mal and Alina’s childhood which gave us some adorable fluffy moments (yes I ship it please don’t judge). However the similarities in embarking on a quest where so strong for me that it made this feel like a carbon copy of Shadow and Bone, and makes it difficult to judge this book on its own. For me, the characters really made this novel as there were some excellent additions to the series.

Characters

I love lots of the new cast of this book. One is notorious privateer, Sturmhond. What a sassy, wonderful, pain in the ass he is. I adored him, his particular brand of humour, and his cutting remarks. His interactions with the characters we already love are brilliant.

Twins Tolya and Tamar are also standout characters of this book who should be protected at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mal becomes even more whiney in this book. I mean honestly, he needs to get a grip. He starts fighting Grisha and just generally being an angsty, miserable, moaning idiot who puts other people in danger as a result of his actions.

To top it all off The Darkling gains some interesting and horrific new powers that just keep growing and developing into greater horrors…

Lots of the newer cast are from other regions in the world this series is set. As such we are able to learn more about nations such as Shu Han. This is definitely a strength of this book and I loved how this added depths to certain characters’ actions.

Final Thoughts

I did enjoy this book for the most part however I did find the repetitious plot frustrating. I also feel like the conclusion of the novel was such a horrific low that I can’t see how this is going to be resolved in the final book. It left me very despondent and seemed like a ridiculous conclusion after everything that Mal and Alina had worked for. I can understand the final fight, a common fantasy trope but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go from here…

I guess I’ll have to work that out in Ruin and Rising.

Blurb:

Soldier, Summoner, Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long. The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army. But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

Beauteaful Stagey Read-Along: The Hate U Give.

Announcement!

My good friend Kerrie (Wheelie Stagey) and I are hosting a read-along! In the absence of theatre trips for either of us for the foreseeable future, we have decided to do some buddy reads to push ourselves to create new and exciting content.

Our first read-along is Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give.

We have both recently seen the film on Netflix and wanted to read the book so this was the perfect place to start.

We want you to join us!

We’ve split the book into 3 manageable sections of 9 chapters or so. For each section we are going to share our thoughts with you all so you can follow along. We’ve put together some questions of things we are going to think about in each section.

Feel free to join in any post your own thoughts! Below is what you can expect to see on our blog and when.

Schedule:

Chapters 1 – 9. Monday 6 April.

At the beginning of the book Starr flashes back to her parents having two talks with her as a child. One is about the birds and the bees. The second is about what precautions to take when encountering a police officer. Reflect on that. How is that different from your own childhood experiences?

Starr describes the idea that there are two versions of herself. How do her different experiences enhance the story? Can you relate to something similar?

The success and pitfalls of media and social media is an underlying theme of the book. Baring this in mind, how do you think hashtag culture and internet activism has played a role in our understanding of topics such as police brutality and racism? Is this always helpful?

What did you learn from the portrayal of societal pressures such as poverty and communities?

Chapters 10 – 18. Wednesday 8 April.

Starr and Hailey have a very turbulent relationship that changes throughout the novel. What are your thoughts on friendships changing as we grow?

We’ve both decided Starr’s parents are excellent characters. Is this something we usually see in the YA books we read? Why do we love them as much as we do?   

Family is very important to Starr. How do you think this is handled in the book? What jumped out at you particularly?

The way Starr handles what is happening throughout the novel is powerful. What struck you the most?

Chapters 19 – end of the book. Friday 10 April.

Was it important that the book didn’t have a typical ‘happily ever after?’

Do we think our reactions were affected as we are British readers and there are cultural differences between our own experiences and, for example, the school systems and legal systems we have read about in this book?

This book gives a very strong message to use our voice. Do we use our own voices enough to contribute to society?

After reading The Hate U Give, what part of the book resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?


Follow along and tag us if you are participating!

So now you know what we’re posting, we’d love you to follow along and let us know if you’re joining in.

We will be using the hashtag #BeauteafulStageyReadAlong so make sure you add this if you’re reading THUG too!

You can follow my posts here on my blog. I will also be posting updates on my Twitter and Instagram. We will see you for our next post on Monday!

Follow Kerrie on her blog, Twitter and Instagram accounts too.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent?”

Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Find this book at Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops and libraries.

Review: Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

Only Love Can Break Your Heart, by Katherine Webber

Pages: 400

Published: 2 August 2018

⭐️ 5 / 5

This review is LONG overdue considering I got an early copy at YA Prom and read this book 2 weeks before its publication… What can I say? Life just got away from me.

This novel was, at the time, one of the first contemporary YA novels I had read and was a large part of the reason I have continued to enjoy the genre. Only Love Can Break Your Heart was beautiful and heart breaking and I adored it.

Plot

I laughed, I cried, I screamed at the actions of the characters. This book had a bit of everything. This is a love letter to the Californian desert and a reminder of how important self-care is. It was really interesting to read a book written from the point of view of the popular girl at school. Usually, the YA novels I read follow the misfit finding their way in the world, but I liked this new angle.

Reiko’s struggle with grief is complex and Katherine Webber portrays this wonderfully. It was so real and tangible and heartbreaking. This book really showed how easy it is for life to get on top of you and for everything to unravel. This was the most honest portrayal of the sort of thing I went through during my ALevels and I would really have appreciated having this book at the time. Webber really illustrates the importance of having good friends and family around you to help build yourself up when you’ve reached a complete rock bottom.

I did find the plot a little slow to begin with however once I realised the direction we were heading in and things began to happen, the pace picked up and the novel was excellent.

Characters

For large parts of the novel I found Reiko and Seth to both be extremely unlikeable characters. However this allowed for some excellent character development and I experienced a complete turn around in my feelings towards the characters. The plot was so character driven it’s really hard to say more than I already have. I loved that about the book though.

Final Thoughts

This book was so much about the people and a gorgeous coming of age story I really wish that I’d had when I was 17 or 18. I’d highly recommend everyone to read it. With each novel Katherine Webber writes, she gets better and better so I cannot wait to read whatever she publishes next!

Blurb:

From the author of the acclaimed Wing Jones comes a ‘break-up’ book about a Japanese-American teenager, set in the Palm Springs desert, California.  Sometimes a broken heart is all you need to set you free… Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian desert.

It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets. Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can’t give them. As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you…

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson

Pages: 448

Published: 2 May 2019

⭐️ 5 / 5

I LOVED THIS BOOK. One of my favourites of 2019 and possibly my favourite YA thriller ever – so far anyway. Twists and turns galore, a very likeable protagonist, set in the UK school system(!!-instead of an American high school which as a Brit I still don’t fully understand)…this is a very clever novel and an enjoyable read. It’s also a big beefy paperback at roughly 450 pages which I really appreciated.

I’d highly recommend anyone who is enjoying YA crime/thriller/mysteries at the moment and schedule a (re)read before Pip is back in book 2 in April 2020!

Plot

A teenaged girl creating a school project to re-evaluate a local murder case? YES PLEASE. I was a bit apprehensive going in as it looked like a massive book for what is a fairly straightforward premise. I was expecting parts of the novel to drag but I was so wrong. The novel is structured around Pip’s school project which means there’s some really fun CSI-style fact presentation interspersed throughout the book. This meant I could keep up with all of the different plot threads, lines of investigation, and the many different characters. Interviews were often written in transcripts which, although I wasn’t too sure about at the beginning, I really enjoyed towards the end of the book and found it fit really well with the way the rest of the story was constructed. I felt that the novel was paced really well and that there was a great balance between investigation, school project, and tense drama. Tension and suspense was also built really well, especially towards the end. I loved that Pip was able to fit things together with her knowledge of school gossip and social hierarchies – the sort of techniques I used at school to figure out the gossip.

I was able to guess at a part of the outcome. I predicted it about halfway through (well, one half – a second half jumped out of nowhere and caught me unawares). However, just as I was revealed to be right, BAM. Sh*t hit the fan and it got SO. GOOD. I know plenty of people probably wouldn’t have seen the twists coming

Characters

Pip and Ravi are the main characters and they are both so damn likeable. Pippa is tenacious, intelligent, and utterly brilliant. Ravi is an excellent addition to the novel because he brings a whole new take to a murder mystery. He embodies the human element and reminds the reader that a murder isn’t just something to be solved for entertainment purposes. I love the relationship between Pip and Ravi because they are like two sides of the same coin: complete polar opposites, yet they work together as a dream team.

The rest of the characters, you can’t really call them ‘side characters’ because they’re all integral to the plot, are also really interesting and excellently 3-dimensional. Each of them became a possible chief suspect for me at some point of the book and Holly Jackson uses each of them very well to fulfill their full literary potential.

Final Thoughts

This was a very enjoyable read that really made me think and I can’t really say too much more without spoiling. To be honest, that’s a good thing as this is definitely a book you’re better off going in knowing next to nothing about and enjoying it with no preconceptions. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Keep an eye out here on my blog as I’m planning a re-read or read-along feature in April on A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder ahead of the publication of the sequel.

Good Girl, Bad Blood will be published on 30 April 2020

Blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.