Book Review- S.T.A.G.S

Thursday, 21 March 2019
Title: S.T.A.G.S
Author: M.A Bennett
Published: 10th August 2017
Pages: 290
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Series: S.T.A.G.S #1

Rating: 5/5 stars

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fishin'. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.
But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry's parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports - hunting, shooting and fishing - become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school... -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Hot Key Books in return for an honest review.
I've heard loads about this novel on Twitter and among other YA bloggers, so I was super excited to get my hands on a copy to review. I wasn't disappointed at all! This is a fascinating and unique YA thriller that will keep you reading until the last page!
This novel is set in an English boarding school, I'm a sucker for anything set in boarding schools, so if you have any other recommendations let me know!! There's something magical and so different about boarding schools, maybe it's because it's something I've only experienced through books and tv so it has a real novelty to it, but whatever the reason I can't say no to books with that setting. Bennett does an excellent job of setting up the boarding school and the scenario within the school quickly and efficiently so the storyline can get going as quickly as possible. 
Bennett's writing style is well suited to these quick paced novels, her descriptions are brief but essential, and characters are developed well, without sacrificing the quick pace of the plot.
This novel utilises a past tense narrative, with our main character Greer seemingly telling the story from the future, adding another layer to the mystery and adding the reliable/unreliable narrator theme into the novel. More of the story becomes clear as we read; Greer has the whole story, but she only drip feeds the details to the reader, so we are left wondering exactly what has taken place, and it's not completely clear until the very end of the novel.
The mystery in the novel is also well written, Bennett keeps the reader guess into exactly what has taken place until the very end, and even when you think the action has finished, Bennett throws in another twist just to keep you on your toes! It's a fast-paced and twisting story that will definitely keep you reading until the last page.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel. Bennett writes an amazing YA thriller, check out her other novel The Island for something more Hunger Games-esque but just as action packed!

Buy this novel on The Book Depository here (affiliate link)

Book Review- Enchantée

Thursday, 14 March 2019
Title: Enchantée
Author: Gita Trelease
Published: 21st Feb 2019
Pages: 480
Genre: YA, Historical
Series: Enchantée #1

Rating: 5/5 stars

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians...
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she's playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns… -Goodreads
My thanks to Pan Macmillan for the review copy of this novel.
This book is incredible. Honestly, from the first moment I picked it up, to when I finished the final page I was hooked. The writing is just as beautiful as the cover leads you to believe. Trelease describes 18th Century Paris with such detail and emotive language that it is impossible not to get sucked in to the twisty streets. Her use of language to describe clothes, especially the sumptuous clothing of Versailles is an absolute delight to read about. She shows the landscape and the buildings and other inanimate objects the same care and attention her writing shows the characters, developing a beautiful and fully rounded novel. 
I love books set during the French Revolution, and with the current popularity of Les Miserables it's the perfect time to immerse yourself in Revolutionary Paris. Trelease manages to capture the swirling undercurrent of unrest and unease that surrounded everything and everyone during the build up to the Revolution perfectly. You can feel the tension and pressure building throughout the novel, even though the action and storyline of the novel only meets with the Revolution in a few places.
The characters in this novel are great too. The main character Camille is a brilliant heroine. She is brave, headstrong, emotional and flawed. It is impossible to not love her and fully support her, her love for her sister and her need to make her parents proud is completely believable and it is easy to see how these thoughts crowd her every moment and affect every decision she makes. 
Camille's brother Alain and sister Sophie are also well developed characters. Trelease spends time developing them and deftly describing the relationships between the three so Camille and her decisions are clearer and more realistic. My feelings about Alain and Sophie were mixed, I could understand why they did what they did and I did feel sympathy for both of them, but I didn't really like either of them, I thought they were both selfish characters who acted solely for themselves, and seemed to feel very little of the family loyalty that Camille was so filled by.
There is a varied group of other characters, both with Camille, and definitely fighting against her, who make this novel so well-developed and action packed. Trelease makes sure all the characters are well fleshed out, even the 'evil villain' did not feel that he was just villainous for no reason, he had a backstory.
I love stories featuring magic. There is something so magical (haha!) in reading novels that take us far away from our day to day life. Trelease has created a clear and simple magic that some characters are able to use, and the way she describes the acts that Camille can perform is exciting and beautiful to read. 
Overall I loved this novel! It's a beautifully written and wonderful novel set in revolutionary France with a great selection of characters, and magic! If you loved Caraval or The Night Circus you might like this!

Buy this book on The Book Depository here (affiliate link)

Book Review- When Dimple Met Rishi

Thursday, 24 January 2019
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Published: 30th May 2017
Pages: 380
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary, Diverse

Rating: 4/5 stars

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways. -Goodreads
I received this novel from Net Galley and Hodder and Stoughton in return for an honest review.
I had heard a lot of great things about this novel online since its publication in 2017, and since there is now a sequel to read too, I really felt that I should pick it up!
I will admit that this is not the type of book I would normally read, I don't read a lot of contemporary novels, especially contemporary YA, but I watched To All The Boys I Loved Before on Netflix, and I was really in the mood for something light and adorable.
This novel is cute, like CUTE cute. The characters are adorable, the way they act is adorable, the whole novel has this warm glow. It was really easy to read, and a perfect pick-me-up read if you require one.
The main characters are instantly likeable, and their chemistry and banter is very sweet and entertaining to read. I loved Dimple, she was smart and sassy, and although I did get a bit irritated by her on occasions, overall she was a great character. I felt basically the same way about Rishi. A bit irritating but in general sweet and likeable. In the beginning I wasn't that keen on him, but as we learnt more about him and why he acted the way he did, I really grew to like him a lot. Their relationship is near perfect. They compliment each other so well, and it's a joy to read about them.
I also really liked the setting of this novel, any YA novel set at University/college is a plus for me, if you can recommend any good ones please let me know in the comments??
I also liked the coding/app development aspect of the novel, it was something very different in YA, it was nice to read a book celebrating braininess.
It was also important for me that the characters were POC. I can't comment on how accurate the depictions were but I'm constantly striving to read more diverse reads, and this one is a good one.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel. I gave it 4/5 stars, and if you're looking for a sweet diverse YA contemporary read, this one is perfect to pick up.

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Have you read When Dimple Met Rishi? Did you enjoy it? Let me know!
Happy reading!

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Monday, 7 January 2019

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.

Happy new year everyone!
One of my new years resolutions is to read more books, especially those I've owned for a long time. I'm also hoping to up the number of books I read in general, there's something about working in a bookshop that makes me less eager to pick up a book when I get off work.
Anyway lets begin!!

What I Read Last Week:

This is a YA non-fiction novel about Alexander Hamilton, and if you're looking for an easy and accessible novel about Hamilton this is a perfect place to start!  Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

This novel was a Christmas gift from a friend, and honestly I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it, but it turns out I still love a good YA paranormal novel!!  Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
What I'm Currently Reading:

I have an advanced proof of this novel, and it's definitely one of my most anticipated reads of the year! Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Up Next:

What are you reading this week? Have you read any of these novels? Let's chat books!!

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My Favourite Books of 2018!

Tuesday, 1 January 2019
Hello 2019!! I hope you all had a fabulous Hogmanay celebrating however you chose! I had a lovely chilled evening with my family.
Now that the new year is here, I thought it was time to wrap up what my favourite reads of 2018 were. These are not in any particular order, just the 18 I enjoyed the most!

  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (review here). This was one of the first books I read in 2018, and it is incredible. It's the true story of Lale Solokov, a Jew who became the tattooist in Auschwitz during his imprisonment there. However, this isn't a totally dark read, it has many somber moments but it also has many moments of light and hope. 
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  • Pantomime by Laura Lam. I had never heard of this book but I picked it up on a whim from the sci-fi/fantasy section and I'm so glad I did. It's an amazing fantasy novel with excellent LGBTQ representation which I really enjoyed. This is the first novel in a trilogy and I can't wait to read the next two!!

  • Savage Island by Bryony Pearce (review here). This is a YA horror/thriller about a group of teenagers who take part in an "Iron Teen" competition to win £1 million, but who soon realise that other teams will do anything to win, even kill! This is a very fast-paced and exciting novel, if you're looking for an exhilarating read to start 2019 this is a good shout!! 
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  • The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan (review here). I love Hogan's writing, and when I saw she had a new novel out I was excited to read it. This novel did not disappoint, Hogan's ability to write well-developed and nuanced characters is amazing, and this novel is a beautiful and moving novel about heartbreak and loss and coming to terms with those feelings.
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  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalamithi. I don't read a lot of non-fiction so it's unusual for there to be many in my Yearly Wrap-Up, but this year there are two!! The first of this is this book by Kalamithi, about his battle with cancer while reflecting on his too-short career as a neurosurgeon. It's very moving, poignant and uplifting.
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  • Mud by Emily Thomas (review here). I have read more contemporary YA novels this year, and this is one of my highlights for sure. Lydia lives on a barge on the Thames, and has to deal with a new school and new friends and a new family, while coping with her new living situation. This novel is loosely based on the author's own childhood, and Lydia is one of the most enjoyable teen protagonists I have read about in a while!
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  • Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig. The second non-fiction book on my list is a hugely popular book. I loved How To Stay Alive, one of Haig's fiction novels, and I've wanted to read his non-fiction for ages. Haig candidly discusses his battle with depression and anxiety, and how he lives with his mental health. I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you suffer from mental health problems or just want to understand mental health a bit more.
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  • Ascension by Victor Dixen (review here). If you haven't been following the blog you may have missed out on my favourite series of the year, the Phobos series. In this series, 12 teens enter a speed dating show with a difference, they will settle and colonise on Mars. It's fast-paced and action-packed and has a brilliant selection of characters!
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  • Secrets of A Sun King by Emma Carroll. I run a children's bookclub as part of my job and this has allowed me to read way more children's books. This was the first book we read for the bookclub, and it is brilliant. If you like Ancient Egypt and action stories this will appeal to you.
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  • The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. This Agatha Christie-esque thriller novel is definitely in my top 3 books of the year. It's an incredibly detailed and well-developed thriller/mystery novel that definitely kept me guessing until the last minute.
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  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. This is a novel that I have wanted to read for many years, and have just never got around to reading. But this year I finally got around to picking it up, and I'm so glad I did. It's very gothic and the characters are fascinating, if you haven't picked it up it's definitely worth checking out.
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  • Distortion by Victor Dixen (review here). This is the second spot for Dixen on my list this year, his series is just that good! They are being translated into English, so I will have to wait for the next instalment in this series!
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  • S.T.A.G.S by M.A Bennett. Continuing my YA themed year, this was another highlight for me. A contemporary thriller set in a boarding school (who can resist a boarding school novel?!?) this was an exciting and bloody novel, which cleverly used the narration to further the story. Greer, the narrator is telling the story looking back, and the extra comments and opinions she adds with hindsight really adds to the tension of the novel.
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  • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Another YA sci-fi novel which I loved this year was Obsidio. It's the final novel in The Illuminae Files trilogy, one of my favourite trilogies, one I would highly recommend if you like YA or sci-fi!
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  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. This was a re-read for me, I wanted to read the series again before I see the movie! Thankfully this novel stood up to how much I enjoyed it when I originally read it years ago! If you enjoy Steampunk and dystopian novels aimed at children that are readable at all ages, this series will be perfect!!
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  • The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Perry. To break up the YA cascade, I read a couple of new fiction releases including this one. Set in 1800s Edinburgh, this is a heady mix of crime solving and early medicine development, which makes for a excellent and action packed thriller.
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  • A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G Drews. Another contemporary YA read which I loved was this one. This is an emotional and moving novel about Beck who is a piano prodigy but is desperately searching for more in life, and trying to fit in at school.
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  • The Electric State by Simon Stalenhag. Towards the end of 2018 I picked up a few graphic novels to try and reach my Goodreads goal! My favourite that I picked was this one, a post-apocalyptic novel set in an America savaged by drones and technology. A heartwarming and thought-provoking graphic novel, with some incredible artwork, I would highly recommend this!
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I hope that 2019 is a wonderful year for everyone, with plenty of books! 
Leave your links to your books of the year in the comments, I love seeing what everyone else has enjoyed reading.

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