Friday, 13 January 2017

History is All You Left Me, Adam Silvera

Pages: 292
Publisher: S&S
Release Date: 9th February 2017
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: More Happy Than Not

You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you’re having an open casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin's own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means...

I fell head over heels for Adam Silvera’s heartbreaking debut More Happy Than Not so I genuinely squealed with delight when History is All You Left Me arrived. It definitely lived up to my expectations.

History is All You Left Me is rich in grief from the very first line. Addressing the whole book to Theo is super powerful - it’s such a punch in the gut. Griffin’s grief is visceral. The narrative switches between their relationship - from beginning to end - that started two years ago and the morning of Theo’s funeral through to the one month anniversary of his death. There’s never a moment where it gets confusing or too much - it’s effortless.

As we follow Griffin and Theo’s relationship through it becomes obvious the inequality there, the secrets and the issues that arise when friendship turns into a relationship. The portrayal of sex in History is All You Left Me was brilliant. I’ve not read a book where it has such a strong presence between LGBT characters for a long time and it was done perfectly. I fully believed in the intensity of their feelings for each other and I really enjoyed how Griffin’s perspective of Theo and what they had together evolved as he got closer to Jackson and learned about Theo’s life in LA. He began to see their time together more clearly.

As well as grief, this novel explores mental health issues. Griffin has OCD, or quirks as he calls them. As he gets trapped further in his grief and determination to ease his guilt to Theo, his compulsions become stronger and more prominent in his life. I loved the way it was explored with sensitivity and honesty - and really positive about living with mental health issues. There was no judgement about therapy or medication and a real sense of encouragement in looking for and accepting help when you're struggling.

Adam Silvera’s second novel is a vivid, heart-breaking and empowering exploration of love, loss and friendship. I am beyond happy that we’re getting a second book from Adam in 2017. Bring. It. On.

Thanks to S&S for the review copy.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

2017: Books I Want to Read this Year

As ever, I’m going into a brand new year with a heaving TBR that’s full of books I bought and was sent over the last year that I never got around to reading. My shelves are currently bursting with wonderful adult fiction that just also seemed to get pushed aside to make way for review books, but here are a few that I really want to make a priority in 2017.

The Princess Saves Herself in This One, Amanda Lovelace
This gorgeous little poetry collection has had a lot of love on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads ever since it was self-published in April and was recommended for fans of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey which I LOVED. Beyond ready for this.

It tackles grief, loss, loneliness, love, empowerment and an essense of the fairytale. Plus it's a poetry collection under 200 pages 0 it really won't take me long to read!

Warbreaker, Brandon Sanderson
I’ve fallen head over heels for Sanderson’s books in the last few years and I’m super excited to continue my journey through his backlist. Warbreaker tells the story of two princess sisters who live in a world where those who die in glory return as gods and a magic system based on breath - SOLD.

This is another chunky Sanderson though so it'll definitely take some working up to! But now I have a physical copy and the audiobook I really don't have an excuse not to get on with it...

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt’s most recent novel has been on my TBR since I devoured The Secret History in 2015 but it’s just intimidatingly long. Her previous two novels that sit around 500 pages, while readable and thoroughly enjoyable, took me a while to read so I can’t imagine how long it’ll take to wade through 800 pages! But I’m sure it’ll be 100% worth it. Donna Tartt is a legend.

I'm determined to conquer this, and it'll probably be via audiobook.

The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters
I devoured Sarah Waters’ first novel Fingersmith on a trip to Disneyland Paris last winter and I was blown away. I immediately bought her latest with the full intention of reading it straight away. Whoops. I’m a little fussy with my historical fiction but I already feel like Sarah Waters could do no wrong.

She has the elements of romance, mystery, thriller, historical and Gothic all mashed together beautifully. Oh, and the writing is stunning. And now I'm making myself desperate to read it...

The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan
This book was the darling of booktube for a long while and I got swept up by the hype and the beautiful cover and bought myself a copy. And it’s sat (beautifully) on my shelf ever since. Islands, circuses and magical realism basically sounds like a dream and I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it, but the hype does make me worry...

BUT I'll suck it up and give it a read. That many people can't be wrong, right? Right.

What are you determined to read in 2017?


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Series Review: Avry of Kazan by Maria V Snyder

Series: Avry of Kazan
Author: Maria V Snyder
Books in Series: Touch of Power, Scent of Magic, Taste of Darkness

What’s it all about?
Avry’s ability to cure the sick should inspire awe and reverence in Kazan, but the outbreak of a deadly plague that killed millions changed everything. A plague that has been blamed on healers. When Avry uses her magic to save a dying child, she’s caught and faces execution until a mysterious band of rescuers help her flee her cell. They want her to save a dying prince who has the ability to heal Kazan, but it’ll kill her in return. Will she sacrifice herself to save her world?

The verdict:

Touch of Power
I picked up this book on a complete whim after it sitting on my shelf for four years and I fell head over heels with Avry, Kerrick, Flea, Balen and the monkeys. It’s been years since I binge-read an entire series that wasn’t a re-read or catch-up!

As always, Maria V Snyder has created an involving, vivid and dangerous world that I became immediately involved in. There’s never a moment in in Snyder’s novels when I wonder what’s going on or what’s happening which is something I often struggle with in fantasy - I hate that feeling of floundering. But most of all? It’s all about Kerrick’s gang. I love the banter, affection and loyalty between them and I feel for them all properly, especially the monkeys. It was just what I needed at just the right moment.

Scent of Magic
In book one I wasn’t completely sold on Avry and Kerrick’s growing feelings for each other, I was all for Avry/Belen for a long time, but after the ending of Touch of Power I was suddenly fiercely behind them. The agony of book two was in how much they were separated. The near deaths, the actual deaths, the near misses and the stress of their separation.

The stakes felt higher than ever and all of the risks to the world and the characters were more serious than ever. Seriously, some of the situations Avry got herself into made me want to throw the book across the room so I had to hunker down for hours to read instead. So good! The cliffhanger at the end of the book when Avry and Kerrick were finally reunited was cruel - I had to go straight on to Taste of Darkness.

Taste of Darkness
The finale came around and I still wasn’t getting at all tired of this series or these characters and I was genuinely sad to see it end.

There were many moments during this novel when I looked at how little was left and couldn’t figure out how everything could possibly turn out okay, but it ended perfectly. I was really pleased with how the relationships, friendships, enemies and the whole war thing turned out - and yet I totally feel like there’s scope for re-visiting this world and I really hope Maria V Snyder will go back to it one day. There’s so much to explore and so many side characters I’d love to be re-united with. Flea had one of the biggest and most significant arcs in the series and I’d love to get under his skin a little more.

All in all, a wonderfully readable and addictive fantasy trilogy that I could have followed for another 3 books. Highly recommended!


Friday, 6 January 2017

Blog Tour: WIN a copy of Lisa Thompson's Goldfish Boy

Lisa Thompson's brilliant debut, The Goldfish Boy, is a mystery that you won't be able to put down. 

Matthew suffers from severe OCD. He hasn't been to school in weeks as he refuses to leave his bedroom and his hands bleed from too much cleaning. He passes the time by observing his neighbours from the safety of his bedroom window, but when the toddler next door goes missing it quickly becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see the little boy alive. But solving this mystery may involve him breaking out of his safety zone - can he do it? 

Enter to win a copy here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • UK only.
  • Closes 13th January 2017.
  • Prize will be send out by Scholastic UK - I have no responsibility for the prize once the winner's details have been passed on to Scholastic. 
Good luck!


Thursday, 5 January 2017

2017: Reading Goals

It’s time to dramatically declare all of the ambitious reading goals I want to achieve in 2017 and then wrap them up in December and realise I’ve failed most of them - I love it! Without further ado, this is what I want to achieve reading-wise over the next twelve months.

  • Read ‘War and Peace’

I have a plan. Reading only 7 chapters a day (around 50 pages) will get this behemoth finished in two months. I loved Anna Karenina last year and people I trust have said that War and Peace is even better. Bring. It. On.

  • 125 books

  • Continue to diversify – short stories, poetry, literary fiction, classics, and more!

  • 24 classics

Two classics a month is 100% achievable if I keep up the pace I set last year.

  • Read the Russians
As well as reading War and Peace this year, I'd really like to tackle a few more Russian classics. I have Crime and Punishment, The Master and Margarita, Dead Souls and Eugene Onegin on my TBR.

  • 12 non-fiction

This is a challenge that I very nearly conquered in 2016 as I managed 11 non-fiction books, so I’m hoping I’ll finally manage it in 2017.

  • Get some chunky classics under my belt

I have a fair few on my list for this challenge, but I’m going to leave it open. These are a few I’m considering: The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Muskateers, Vanity Fair, Moby Dick and Crime and Punishment.

I’d love to hear all about your reading goals for 2017!