Friday, 23 June 2017

Friday Reads 23rd June 2017

Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. The idea is to share a sentence or so from the first page and the 56th page of the book you are currently reading!

Beauty Queens
Book Beginning:
"This book begins with a plane crash."

Friday 56:
"It's such a tragedy that those sweet girls who follow the rules set down for women through the ages while also learning to walk in bathing suits and heels are the ones who are now missing."

This is actually one of my all time favourite books and I am re-reading it! It's so funny and the characters are amazing and just seriously, read it if you haven't already because this book is amazing. 

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Clare Reviews: Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

Broken BranchesTitle: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from publisher for an honest review
Pages: 294
Rating: 4/5

Blurb: A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.
There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

If this weren't a book I was sent for review I would, honestly, probably never have picked it up. I'm a certified wimp so anything that looks remotely creepy is going on my NOPE pile. But I was intrigued enough about this to brave it and I am so glad I did.

Firstly, it's not actually that creepy. There are some creepy elements to it and there are definitely moments you don't want to be reading at night but for the most part I would describe this as more atmospheric than out and out scary. The perspective of the book switches between Ian of the past  (growing up in the house) and Ian of the present whose marriage is suffering after "an incident" and is desperately seeking answers about the family "curse".

Ian wasn't a hugely likable character at times but he felt so relatable to me that I just couldn't stop reading and rooting for his life to get back on track. He is struggling but his struggle felt real and it just made everything so intense. Even day to day activities suddenly seemed incredibly important whilst I was reading them. We do get a little bit from his wife's perspective but it's always quite vague and I definitely didn't get inside her head in the same way. One of the great things about this book is how it plays with perspective. I, as a reader, made so many assumptions and accepted so much as fact because it came from Ian and I know I am going to re-read this at some point and try to see how much I trust his viewpoint in the future.

But the real standout quality of Broken Branches was the writing style. This isn't a hugely plot driven book. The entirety of the book is set in one location for the most part and you're following just a handful of characters so a lot of what I was reading was just general daily activity. And yet the writing style, how crisp and important every single word felt, kept me compelled the whole way through. Ian answering emails could be an interesting paragraph purely by virtue of how well Lee wrote it. 

If you need plot driven action and excitement in your books or you were hoping for something very creepy then this probably isn't for you. But if you want a book that will make you hold your breath and doubt your own perspective and just blow your mind with great writing - then definitely give this a try. I now want to read more by M. Jonathan Lee and I can say with confidence that I don't even care what genre or plot it is because it's the writing that enthralls me. 

Trigger Warnings:
Grief, Suicide

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You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wednesday Catch-Up 21st June 2017

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? You can click any of the images to go to the Goodreads page for that book!

Currently Reading:

Beauty Queens
Beauty Queens is just incredible and I love it. And I really feel in the mood to re-read it (again) so here I go. Again. God this book. 

Recently Finished:

The Sandcastle EmpireTruth or DareShadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles, #1)Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked MeFalse Hearts
The Sandcastle Empire is a book I have mixed feelings for. I felt like the first half was incredible and I loved the complex dynamics and the survival and discovery aspects - it was exciting and engaging. And then halfway through it turned into romance/dystopian and we lost that which wasn't as good for me personally. Truth or Dare again was a half and half book. I liked the first half but the second half after you flip over felt almost skippable in places. Shadow Run was really good. I love space adventures and politics and it definitely got way darker than I was expecting which I kind of liked. There isn't a cliff-hanger but I am desperate for the next book because this was awesome. Eliza and Her Monsters was really sweet for the most part and then suddenly gut punches you with emotions and I was not prepared (TW: Suicide ideation and anxiety). I loved all the graphic novel drawing sections as they really added to the feel of the story. Finally I read False Hearts which I did enjoy. I wasn't totally blown away but I did like the diversity a lot and I am definitely interested in reading the next book which I believe is a companion novel not a direct follow on?

Planning to Read Next:

The First Days  (As the World Dies, #1)Fighting to Survive (As The World Dies, #2)Siege (As The World Dies, #3)
I really want to read the As the World Dies series next because I love zombies. I mean zombie stories. Not actual zombies. This is described as Thelma & Louise meets The Walking Dead and boy does that appeal to me!! 

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning to Start

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish and you can find a full list of past and future topics here

1) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)
I've had this recommended to me by practically everyone. I even own the books. But I never seem to get around to actually reading them! Someday. Someday it will happen.

2) The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)
This is my brother's all time favourite series. He rates it just above Six of Crows. So obviously I'm desperate to read them... but the series isn't complete and that scares me. 

3) Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)
I pre-ordered the first book then never read it. I pre-ordered the second book telling myself that now I WOULD read them. But nope. Here I am in June still not having read them. I am the worst.

4) Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)
I love fantasy so I was initially super excited for this series but since buying the first book I've seen such mixed reviews that I keep putting it off. Her next series sounds incredible and it's entirely possible I'll wind up skipping this one and then maybe coming back to it later?

5) The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)
Another one with mixed reviews. I love Mead's other books (or the ones that I've read which is basically just Vampire Academy and Bloodlines) and these sound awesome. I'm just.... so many mixed reviews. What if I dont like it?

6) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)
I'm unsure on these just because I don't know how mind bending/scary they are? I'm a lot better with scares and thrillers than I was when this series originally came out but I'm still nervous.

7) The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Test (Goddess Test, #1)
Hades and Persephone retellings will get me every time. Hades is my favourite. Persephone is badass and kind. I just seriously need to read these.

8) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)
See when these first came out I hated zombies. I thought they were boring. Since then I've developed an obsession with zombie books and movies (almost entirely down to my youngest brother honestly) and so now really want to read these.

9) Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Enclave (Razorland, #1)
Please see above for zombie obsession! I read some of Aguirre's new adult recently and loved them and whilst this is obviously a very different genre it still looks great!

10) The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)
Just heard all the good about this series. I need to read it. I can't quite understand why I haven't already.

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Monday Highlights #11

The idea is to just link your favourite blog post from the past week (for example a post you're very proud of or just had a lot of fun making) and then I, and hopefully others, can discover new blogs to follow and interact with and discover more posts from blogs we may already follow!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sunday Post 18th June 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader. As always you can click on any of the pictures to be taken to the Goodreads page for that book if you're interested in finding out more about it or click the title to go to the review.

Last Week on the Blog:

  • Monday Highlights #10
  • Summertime Madness Book Tag
  • Wednesday Catch-Up
  • Blog Tour: What Happened That Night by Sheila O'Flanagan
  • Clare Reviews: Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
  • Friday Reads: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Books We Got This Week:

ThirstDevourThe Genesis FlawThe House of Birds
Thirst/Devour/The Genesis Flaw by L.A. Larkin: I'm really in a survival/horror mood lately and these were just too tempting to turn down especially when it was only £5 for the three of them. 
The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy: Received for review from the publisher. I am really excited for this one because of the gorgeous cover and also the family secrets/house with secrets to discover plot which is one of my favourite things!
Shadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles, #1)Truth or DareWe Were LiarsThe Watcher in the Shadows
Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland and Michael ....: This is described as being like Firefly which makes it instantly appealing to me. I haven't seen any reviews of this so I'm not sure what else to expect but it intrigues me.
Truth or Dare by Non Pratt: I read one previous Non Pratt book and really enjoyed it and this one appeals because its a book, like Replica, that can be read from two sides. And that format just seems so great to me!
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: I've somehow avoided spoilers for this (lets keep it that way) but I've psyched myself out of reading it so many times because what if it disappoints me??? 
The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Impulsively wanted this because I love the cover and because I've been wanting to read something by Zafon for a while. 
The Raven's HeadLiberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked MeFalse HeartsShattered Minds  (Pacifica)
The Raven's Head by Karen Maitland: I have another Karen Maitland book (The Plague Charmer) for review and I spotted this in a charity shop and kind of had to get this. Especially as the covers go so well together!
Liberty The Spy Who (Kind Of) Liked Me by Andrea: Spies. SPIES. I don't even care about the rest the MC is a badass who becomes a spy and everything else is unimportant.
False Hearts/Shattered Minds by Laura Lam: Laura Lam will be at YALC this year which Ann and I are attending so I wanted to read some of their books before going. And these two really appeal to me. I also want to read Lam's other series (Micah Grey) but may get those whilst in London.

Reading Update:

Of Monsters and Madness (Of Monsters and Madness, #1)This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1)Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)The Sandcastle Empire
Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday: 2.5 stars, This was a fun read but not necessarily anything that stands out. I think, despite the blurb, the inspiration was far more Jekyll and Hyde than it was Edgar Allan Poe but its still intriguing. 
This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers: 5 stars, THIS. This book is what I want from zombie novels. The fear of the zombies was real but there was so much more time spent developing characters and their complex relationships that by the end I cared about each character so much more than I usually do in a zombie story. This was awesome and I already desperately want to re-read it. 
Dreamfall by Amy Plum: 5 stars, If I'm honest I expected this to be quick and fun but nothing special. But it was something special! The characters were all likable in their unlikability - I cant speak for all the mental illnesses represented but the ones I identified with were done really well and this felt so convincing to me which I didn't expect. Every plot twist was exciting and I need the second book now!
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson: 4 stars, I definitely preferred the first half of this book to the second as I am way more into survival stories than I am sci-fi ones. Also the relationship dynamics of the four very different girls trying to survive on the island were far more interesting to me than the sudden romance that occurred afterwards. If you enjoyed Beauty Queens then you'd probably enjoy this although I wasn't sold on the romance and it's definitely a darker story - although I did quite like the dark side, it was very thought provoking. 
The Genesis FlawTruth or Dare
The Genesis Flaw by L.A. Larkin: 2 stars, There was something keeping me reading but the style of writing and the dialogue felt so stilted and so many of the situations felt unrealistic that I couldn't quite lose myself in this story!
Truth or Dare by Non Pratt: 3 stars, The format of this book was what initially drew me as it's a flip book. You read one side then you flip over to hear the other side of the story. That said I didn't hugely feel like it was necessary here. It could have worked just as well, if not better, as one continuous story and I definitely wasn't as into Sef's side of the story as I was Claire's. It was a good story overall and I definitely recommend picking it up.

Next Week on the Blog:

  • Monday Highlights #11
  • Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning to Start
  • Wednesday Catch-Up
  • Clare Reviews: Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee
  • Friday Reads
  • Clare Reviews: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Friday Reads 16th June 2017

Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. The idea is to share a sentence or so from the first page and the 56th page of the book you are currently reading!

The Sandcastle Empire
Book Beginning:
"I won't miss these mornings."

Friday 56:
"The three of us turn to look at Hope. She doesn't speak much, but when she does, people listen."
I'm only 100 pages in to this so far but I am loving it! The four characters we currently have are so different and interesting and the situation they are in is exciting to read about. I don't know where the story is going overall but everything so far has been great!  

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Clare Reviews: Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Holiday in the HamptonsTitle: Holiday in the Hamptons
Author: Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan With Love #5
Format: E-Arc
Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review
Pages: 384
Rating: 5 stars
Blurb: Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York...until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn't seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him--too gorgeous, and still too good for her--and Fliss's heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in the Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the ideal way to escape her past.

Their relationship might have lasted only a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss--if she's run away to the Hamptons, it's because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn't know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog, Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he's never stopped loving her...

Sarah Morgan keeps getting better with each new release. Every time I think she has reached a peak (Miracle on 5th Avenue was basically perfect) she comes along and goes even better. 

Fliss and Seth were everything you could want in a leading couple. Sure they were flawed, they made mistakes, but that only made me root for them more. This was a book to get truly emotionally invested in. I laughed, I cried, there were toe-curlingly romantic moments. Essentially there was not one single page where I wasn't fully absorbed in every word. 

Fliss is, on the surface, a hard character to love. If only because she doesn't want you to love her. She has so many walls up and shows so little of herself to those around her, even her sister, that it took a good portion of the book to feel like I really knew her but that discovery process was wonderful. As someone who was once very much like her, my heart was alternately aching and soaring for her as the story progressed. Seth - well, he was just precious. He was flawed too, don't get me wrong, but he was so determined and loving and just present that I couldn't help falling in love with him and I totally believed in Fliss's love for him, and in his love for her.

As always in a Sarah Morgan novel the secondary characters are just as much of a delight. Harriet (who has to be the star of the next book right?) was so sweet but so fiercely loyal and there were some wonderful moments towards the end in which she stood up to Fliss and really showed how much she wanted to be there for her and stick her neck out for her. Chase and Matilda were adorable and Fliss and Harriet's grandmother was such fun and had so many good intentions. The story would have been so much different without these characters and having them added a lot of depth and character growth. 

Finishing Holiday in the Hamptons left me with a smile a mile wide on my face and I was so thrilled for how things turned out for the characters and how much resolution we got. Now I jut have to wait (ever so impatiently) for the next one. Which, in all likelihood, will be even better somehow and completely blow my mind. 

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You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Blog Tour: What Happened That Night by Sheila O'Flanagan

About the Book:
What Happened That NightLola Fitzpatrick is bright and ambitious but she's also headstrong and stubborn. When one evening, out of the blue, she has to make a life-changing choice, she decides quickly and rashly. And without a piece of vital information that might have changed everything.
Lola's daughter Bey has inherited Lola's determined nature. Yet her impulsive reactions place her in danger, leading her to run away from what she wants most. And then, one night, she's standing in front of the man she loves, with her own choice to make...
For both Lola and Bey, everything changes in a moment. But their biggest mistakes might also turn out to be their greatest opportunities...

The Inspiration Behind 'What Happened That Night': When people ask about inspiration for my novels I’m often very vague with my answers because I’m never entirely sure where the inspiration has actually come from. All I know is that it’s popped into my head.

I’d been thinking of writing about an estranged family for quite a while before a conversation with the jeweller when I was choosing my wedding ring a few years ago made me think of incorporating the world of ‘haute-joaillerie’ (high class jewellery) as part of a new novel. And as soon as I began to imagine how that might work, Lola and Bey’s stories seemed to emerge like polished diamonds from rough stones.

I might have done more research than I absolutely needed to get the background right - this had nothing at all to do with the fact that putting on very expensive pieces of jewellery is an enormous thrill - it was all about being accurate. Well maybe. It was just a pity I had to hand back those gorgeous necklaces and bracelets every time!
The characters are always the most important part of a novel for me. They have real jobs, real lives and real families and all I’m doing is drawing their stories out. So it’s the decisions that both Lola and Bey make, and the fallout from those decisions as well as their relationship with each other and with Bey’s father and his family that are the very core of the story. This book has a wide cast of characters but because they’re all different in their own way I didn’t have any trouble keeping them in my head.

But in What Happened That Night the jewels are characters too. Until I started my jewellery research I’d never really thought much about precious gemstones, but - like Bey in the book - I’m fascinated by the fact that  they would have started to form  at a time when dinosaurs were roaming around the world.

And I still think from time to time that the small diamonds in my ring have witnessed all of the world’s history and will still be around in millions of years, even though none of us will be.

The truth is that you don’t really own a precious stone. It just stays with you as an onlooker in your life. But it’s a very glamorous onlooker!

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour and What Happened That Night which will be released on the 13th July! 

Link up to Monday Highlights

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Wednesday Catch-Up 14th June 2017

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? You can click any of the images to go to the Goodreads page for that book!

Currently Reading:

The Sandcastle Empire
I am just starting The Sandcastle Empire which I'm really excited for. It sounds like a survival story which is definitely my thing but with some dystopian elements as well? I might be entirely wrong but I'm hoping for great things!

Recently Finished:

The Girl From Summer HillBroken BranchesCircling the SunOf Monsters and Madness (Of Monsters and Madness, #1)This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1)Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)
The Girl From Summer Hill was a good, cute, romantic read perfect for summer trips to the beach. I really enjoyed it and I will definitely have to check out more of this author's books! Broken Branches was atmospheric and slightly creepy and wholly brilliant. Full review for this coming soon. Circling the Sun was unfortunately disappointing story-wise but I did enjoy the writing style so will be checking out The Paris Wife at a later date. Of Monsters and Madness was a fun and slightly creepy story although it was nothing special overall I did enjoy reading it. This Is Not a Test was the best book of the month so far for me. I am a fan of zombie stories in general but this was really different and intriguing, it mostly focuses on the human aspect with actual zombies only appearing very rarely. I already want to re-read this. And then Dreamfall was really good and surprising. I got really attached to the characters and was constantly on edge to see what could possibly happen next.

Planning to Read Next:

Here Lies Daniel TateEliza and Her MonstersTash Hearts Tolstoy
Next up is Here Lies Daniel Tate which is about a boy who cons (or tries to con) his way into a family? I'm up for any story involving conning so this really intrigues me and I cant wait to find out how it goes. Eliza and Her Monsters is the second book from Francesca Zappia and I loved Made You Up last year so I've been excited for this for a while! It also has illustrations in it which is lovely. And then I want to read Tash Hearts Tolstoy which has an asexusal main character which is exciting.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.