Friday, 22 July 2016

Run, Kody Keplinger

Pages: 326
Publisher: Hodder
Release Date: 14th July 2016
Edition: UK paperback, purchased

What risks would you take to save your friends?

Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and an alcoholic mom. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never stayed out past 10pm, never gone on a date and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally-blind daughter, but Agnes isn’t quite sure what they are protecting her from.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs more deeply than anything else. But when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, police sirens wailing in the distance, Agnes is faced with the biggest choice she’s ever had to make. Run, or stay?

I’m a huge fan of Kody Keplinger’s books, and while Run was as easy and enjoyable to read as her previous novels, it just wasn’t as immediately engaging as I was expecting.

Run is set in rural Kentucky and has an immediately different feel to Keplinger’s other novels. Mersey is a small, poor, religious town and the Southern accents are clear even through the narration. We don’t really have an English version of the small-town American South so I find this setting endlessly fascinating. The judgements and strictness of it baffle me. I really felt for Bo and Agnes suffocating under the pressure of their home town.

I loved the intensity of Bo and Agnes’s friendship. It’s that heady best-friendship you develop in your teens that hurts even more than a romantic break up when it fractures. Keplinger writes the agonies of it perfectly. I often found myself not especially motivated to pick this back up and it was only wanting to see Bo and Agnes learning from each other and teaching each other that kept me going.

Agnes has the same condition as Kody Kepliner herself and it was fascinating to read about. I don’t think I've ever read about a legally blind character before and it was super interesting to see how day-to-day life worked for Agnes. It had never occurred to me before how over-protective parents would be of their blind child, the daily struggles at school and the idea of you being a ‘burden’ on your friends. But I loved that it wasn’t written that way – it’s not something to be pitied, and it's not all that Agnes is.

Run didn’t blow me away as much as Kody Keplinger’s previous novels have, but it was still an easy, enjoyable read about friendship, family and the thrill of freedom.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

In Three Words: My Favourite Books of 2016 So Far

I can’t quite believe that it’s already nearly the end of July… But it is, so I figured it was about time I told you about some of the best books I've read so far in 2016. I've been rather picky about handing out five star reviews this year and that’s definitely reflected in this list!

As ever, I've been keeping a running list of the books that have blown me away, adding them and taking them away as my feelings changed, but I think I've got a pretty firm decision. And here they are in three words:

A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J Maas
Sexy, addictive, unrelenting.

Under Rose Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall
Honest, moving, fresh.

The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell
Literary, fascinating, pacy.

Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
Funny, romantic, absorbing.

Mistborn: Hero of Ages, Brandon Sanderson (Read by Michael Cramer)
Relentless, emotional, intense.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (Read by Rosumund Pike)
Pitch-perfect, funny, nostalgic.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
Feminist, powerful, unusual.

Treats, Lara Williams
Relatable, strong, identifying.

Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur
Powerful, moving, feminist.

What are your favourite books of the year so far?


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Blog Tour: Did I Mention I Miss You?, Estelle Maskame

Pages: 372
Publisher: Black and White Publishing
Release Date: 21st July 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

A year has passed since Eden last spoke to Tyler. She remains furious at him for his abrupt departure last summer but has done her best to move on with her life at college in Chicago. As school breaks up for the summer, she's heading back to Santa Monica, but she's not the only one who decides to come home...

Having been left behind to deal with the aftermath of their bombshell revelation and a family torn apart, Eden has no time for Tyler when he reappears. But where has Tyler been? And is she as over him as she likes to think? Or can Tyler and Eden finally work things out, despite their family and against all the odds?

My love for this series is no secret, and I was so excited for the finale of Tyler and Eden’s story – it managed to exceed my super high expectations.

We pick up nearly a year after the dramatic end of DIMINY and the aftershocks are still violent: Tyler is still gone, Eden is angry, confused and miserable, and the whole family is in tatters. I was expecting there to be drama, but wow, I wasn’t expecting how horrible Eden’s life had been since people started finding out. I loved how extreme and forbidden it made everything that Tyler and Eden had felt for each other seem again, it jumped back to the feeling of DIMILY. It didn’t think it could get any more tense, and then Tyler came home.

I haven’t seen a character with an arc like Tyler’s for a long while. He grew, developed and matured so much over the trilogy that he was nearly a different person by the time I turned the final page of DIMIMY, but he was still 100% Tyler. Though not as extreme as Tyler’s, Eden also changed too. I love how she came to learn more about her parents and almost began to see them as people as well as her mum and dad. The continuous revelations and tension in Tyler and Eden’s family, and between themselves, made DIMIMY compulsive reading. I would have read it all in one sitting if I could!

We were in Santa Monica for book one, NYC for book two and DIMIMY takes us to Portland. I don’t really know much about Portland, in fact, I've never really given it much thought so it was cool to learn about a new American city outside of the typical settings in YA. I kinda fell in love with it. It almost sounds a little like an American version of Brighton (and I love Brighton) – I just want to go exploring! These books always give me serious wanderlust.

Did I Mention I Miss You? is the perfect ending to a brilliant series. Though I’m rather gutted to see Tyler and Eden go, I loved how their story ended. This will be a trilogy I’ll read over and over again.

Thanks to Black and White for the review copy.

Make sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Mini-Reviews: Little Birds, A Study in Scarlet & Me Before You

Little Birds, Anais Nin
144|Penguin Modern Classics|1979

This collection of 13 of Anais Nin’s short stories were published several years after her death. These stories explore love, lust and women’s sexuality in 1940s Paris, Spain and New York City.

I'd been seeing this around on bookstagram a lot and I finally decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did! Though the sexytimes are seriously blush-worthy, Nin’s writing is also genuinely beautiful. Her stories are set in the hazy summers of 1940s New York and Spain and Paris and I was completely suckered by the atmosphere. It’s a really gorgeous read. The only complaint I have is the sometimes outdated attitudes towards women and marriage, though Nin’s embracing and celebration of female sexuality has to be revelled in. I’ve already bought my next collection, Delta of Venus!

A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle
234|Penguin English Library|1887

When Dr John Watson takes a room at 221b Baker Street with amateur detective Sherlock Holmes, he has no idea about the world he’s entering. When they visit a crime scene to find a dead man with no visible wounds but a word written in blood on the wall, Watson is baffled, but Holmes soon uncovers the truth.

This was my first foray into Sherlock Holmes – I haven’t even seen Sherlock… But it was a lot of fun! Seeing Holmes and Watson meet for the first time was really funny, especially as Watson became completely baffled by the way Holmes’ brain works. I loved how punchy the mystery was and everything was a genuine surprise. And then part two started and I was confused. We jump to Mormons in Salt Lake City and although it eventually made sense and tied back into the original story, it was a bit disorientating and I definitely didn’t enjoy that as much as the first part of the novel.

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

When Lou loses her job, she takes a six-month contract looking after Will Traynor, a paraplegic who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. Everything in his life feels dull and joyless, but Lou is determined to change his mind. She just doesn’t expect to be changed forever, too…

The hype for Me Before You, and the nagging of one of my friends who wants me to see the movie with her, meant I finally had to read this. And I’m really glad I did. I hadn’t expected to become so involved so quickly! The characters in this book, particularly Lou and Will’s family, did err into stereotypical every now and then, but they were the perfect vehicle to tell the story and it didn’t bother me at all. The only thing that disappointed me about Me Before You is that I didn’t get nearly as emotional as I was expected – I was fully anticipating being destroyed by this novel but I only got a bit teary. Oh well. I’m looking forward to catching up with Lou in After You!


Monday, 18 July 2016

Blog Tour: Everything you need to know about Lucy Sutcliffe's 'Girl Hearts Girl'

Lucy Sutcliffe’s ‘Girl Hearts Girl’ is finally here, and this is what it’s all about:

An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe's debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, from Michigan. They began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in 2011. Lucy's video montage of their first week spent together was the first in a series of vlogs documenting their long-distance relationship. Now, for the first time, Lucy's writing about the incredible personal journey she's been on.

Want to know a little more about Lucy?

Co-star of the popular YouTube channel Kaelyn and Lucy which documented the long distance relationship she had with Kaelyn Petras. She and Kaelyn finally came together in August of 2014, ending the long distance element of their relationship.

She graduated from Plymouth College of Art and Design in 2014 with a degree in Film Arts

She works as a freelance film editor and author. Her and Kaelyn's channel mainly focuses on advice videos for LGBT youth.

Now that you’re dying to read Girl Hearts Girl, enter this amazing comp to win yourself 1 of 3 copies if you live in the UK or Ireland!

PLEASE NOTE: This giveaway is being run by Faye Rogers PR and Scholastic so I have no responsibility for the prize or the winner.

You can find Lucy and Girl Hearts Girl on:

Girl Hearts Girl is out now in paperback from Scholastic!