Monday, 29 February 2016

The Winner's Kiss, Marie Rutkoski

Pages: 496
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 24th March 2016
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime

Following the intrigue and danger of The Winner’s Curse and the revolution and romance of The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel finds herself in the tundra’s mines and Arin has sailed home. The empire seems unstoppable.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this third and final instalment in the heart-stopping Winners trilogy.

The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime have been two of my favourite books in recent years so I beside myself with excitement to finally see how it all ends for Kestrel and Arin.

We pick up pretty much where we left Arin and Kestrel: Arin is waging war to protect Harrani and Kestrel is on her way to a work camp for committing treason. The tone of The Winner’s Kiss is very different to the previous two novels, but in a good way. What Kestrel experiences in the camp changes everything between her and Arin. I loved that the changes brought doubt and a whole new dynamic between them. Nothing about them or their relationship was glossed over; it felt authentic to them and to their strange situation.

Kestrel went on a staggering journey in The Winner’s Kiss and I loved the ways in which she developed, but also the characteristics that remained. I think that because of that everything interaction between Kestrel and Arin was heightened and it all felt much more romantic and the stakes higher than ever. The Winner’s Kiss really stepped up for the finale, and as you can tell from this vague and rambling review, I loved it but I really don’t want to give anything away. You need to go in knowing nothing and then get your hearts broken and your shipping mentality ready again.

The Winner’s Kiss is an action-packed, romantic and completely satisfying ending to a wonderful trilogy. I’m so looking forward to Marie Rutkoski’s next adventure.

Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the review copy.


Sunday, 28 February 2016

Letterbox Love #123

Letterbox Love is a way to give all of the books I receive for review some exposure. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated.

The Girl of Ink and Stars, KM Hargrave (proof)

Forbidden to leave her village on Joya’s coast, Isabella dreams of the unmapped heart of her island. When her closest friend disappears beyond the village walls, she’s determined to lead the search party. Guided by an unfinished map, a beloved myth and her knowledge of the stars, Isabella navigates the dangerous Forgotten Territories. But beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fiery legend is stirring from it's sleep…

I am SO looking forward to this! And it came so beautifully wrapped from Chicken House – thank you!

The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell (hardback)

Think you know Charlotte, Emily and Anne?

Think again.

Samantha Whipple is the last remaining descendant of the illustrious Brontë family, of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre fame. After losing her father, a brilliant author in his own right, it is up to Samantha to piece together the mysterious family inheritance lurking somewhere in her past – yet the only clues she has at her disposal are the Brontës’ own novels.

With the aid of her handsome but inscrutable Oxford tutor, Samantha must repurpose the tools of literature to unearth an untold family legacy, and in the process, finds herself face to face with what may be literature’s greatest secret.

I’m reading this at the moment and LOVING it! Thanks Quercus! Watch out for the blog tour starting this week.

Chasing the Stars, Malorie Blackman (proof)

There’s no official blurb for this yet, so here’s Malorie herself on what the book’s about:

‘I have wanted to write a story inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello for some time – it is my favourite of his plays, full of twists and turns - but, of course, I wanted to do it my way.

I've always been a huge fan of all types of science fiction and I loved the idea of Othello set in outer space, with Othello as a teenage girl!

That’s how the idea for Chasing the Stars was born. It has been such fun, as well as a real challenge to write. I am excited to see it released into the world, to talk to you readers about it and to hear what you think.’

Sounds amazing, right?! Thanks Penguin Random House!

The List, Siobhan Vivian (e-proof)

It happens every September – the list is posted all over school. Two girls are picked from each year. One is named the prettiest, one the ugliest.

The girls who aren’t picked are quickly forgotten. The girls who are become the centre of attention, and each reacts differently to the experience.

With The List, Siobhan Vivian deftly takes you into the lives of eight very different girls struggling with issues of identity, self-esteem, and the judgement of their peers. Prettiest or ugliest, once you’re on the list, you’ll never be the same.

I have wanted to read this since it came out in the US a million years ago so I’m so glad it’s finally hitting the UK! Thanks NetGalley and MiraINK!

Radio Silence, Alice Oseman (e-proof)

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…

She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

Thanks to Harper Collins and NetGalley for the review copy! Can’t wait to get stuck in!


Friday, 26 February 2016

Crush, Eve Ainsworth

Pages: 260
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Edition: UK proof, gift

Other Titles by this Author: 7 Days

Love hurts…but should it hurt this much?

Reeling from her mum’s sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He's handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt with. He’s also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends, her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna’s world is closing in. but threatening everything is dark secret that not even Will can control…

Ever Ainsworth’s second novel is a pitch-perfect exploration of love at its most powerful, addictive and destructive.

Eve’s debut, 7 Days, was an honest and emotional look at bullying and in Crush she continues her unflinching look at teenage life with a focus on damaging relationships.

When Anna meets Will she’s lonely, stressed and angry after her mum leaving has left her family fractured and her being pushed into the role of ‘mum’ by her dad and younger brother. Will is gorgeous and popular and he likes her. She fell hard and she fell fast, and he quickly becoming the focal point of Anna’s world. The intensity of their relationship soon changes from something sweet and identifiable as heady first love into something more sinister.

But once again, Eve shows the story from both sides. Though the novel is mostly narrated by Anna, Will has snippets from a journal at the end of each chapter, revealing bits of his life that he’s kept from Anna and the thoughts behind his actions. At first, it seemed unconscious. He didn’t realise that he was doing anything odd with Anna – even though the reader could see him pulling her away from her friends, controlling what she did, said, ate, what she looked like. His life was spiralling out of control and Anna was something he felt he could control, but it soon become something intentional and cruel.

I’ve always been a big fan of dual narrative. I love hearing from both sides, finding out motivations and what a character is really thinking and feeling, and I think Crush would have been a very different, and less effective novel, without it. Though Will’s actions are never excusable, I still think it’s helpful to see the motivations and the situation behind it. Nothing is black and white and there are few people that are straight up good or bad and, like with 7 Days, it’s important that teens know that too. Though they may see themselves as victims, it doesn’t mean that the people hurting them aren’t victims too.

Crush is a powerful and important novel about loss, anger, loneliness and strength. I think Eve has a really strong career ahead of her.


Thursday, 25 February 2016

I've fallen under the Instagram spell...

I didn’t really even think about Instagram until the beginning of 2015, but now it’s been a year since I opened my account and I’ve realised that I've fallen head over heels in love with it.

There’s an unexpected bookstagram community on there that I didn’t know it existed at all and it’s been nice to explore a community dedicated to taking beautiful photos of beautiful books! My account is generally a bookstagram as well, but I've also used it to document the cool things I've done. But more than anything? It’s fun! And it’s helping me to improve my abysmal photography skills. Here are a few of my favourite of my Instagrams.


A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on


A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

Cool things!

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

A photo posted by Sophie (@solittletimeforbooks) on

Follow me on Instagram @solittletimeforbooks


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

2016 Classics Challenge: Madame Bovary

Originally published in 1857 by Michel Lévy Frères
First translated into English in 1886 by Eleanor Marx Aveling (daughter of Karl Marx)

My edition: You’ve probably guessed it, the Penguin Clothbound Classics hardcover! This translation is by Geoffrey Wall.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
Madame Bovary is one of those classics that I don’t really remember not knowing existed, but at the same time, I had no idea what it was actually about. Then I saw there was a Clothbound edition so I looked it up and my curiosity was piqued. Plus, Flaubert was put on trial for this book’s obscenity so yeah, sold.

WHY I Chose to Read It
Because I wanted the Clothbound edition and I’m only allowed to buy them once I’ve either decided I’ll read it in the next few months or after I've read it…

WHAT Makes It a Classic
Madame Bovary is often stated to have revolutionised the form of the novel. It’s a seminal piece of realist fiction and was praised on high by Marcel Proust, Henry James and Vladimir Nabokov among others.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
Emma Bovary is trapped in a boring marriage to a doctor and feels constrained by small town life. She longs for adventure and romance, and her liking for novels whose heroines get just that, and which leads her into debt and passionate affairs.

Going into Madame Bovary, I thought I knew what to except, but within the first few pages those expectations were turned upside down. The novel isn’t from the perspective of Emma like I was anticipating, but the first few chapters were actually all about Charles Bovary from birth up until marrying Emma. Then the perspective flits around throughout the novel in close up third which was sometimes a little disconcerting and it tended to be in those chapters that my attention waned. There were whole scenes about the countryside, politics of the little town the Bovarys live in and the ramblings of others in the town.

Emma is a fascinating character and I’m not surprised that it was only when the focus was on her that I was interested in the novel. When we met Emma she wass quiet, beautiful and naïve, expecting her relationship with Charles to mirror the love affairs of the novels she devours. Emma’s journey over the novel was fascinating. She became selfish, driven by desire and what she thinks she deserved. Nothing about love is what she anticipated: she expected the luxury, the passion, the wealth, the excitement of love that present in novels (I know them feels). So she made it herself outside of her marriage. She spent so far beyond her means it made me cringe, had two love affairs that proved her naïve and heart-breakingly desperate for someone or something vibrant and exciting enough to distract her from mundanity.

My boredom in the sections of the novel that explores provincial life made me appreciate Emma’s reaction to her life in a way. It gave the story a really interesting parallel. As a woman in the mid-19th Century, there’s not much to distract you from the dullness of day to day life; in fact, you’re supposed to embrace it as your domain. Emma’s interest in her house, husband and daughter was sporadic and usually provoked by an altercation with Charles’s mother or something to do with her affairs.

I know Madame Bovary is seen as an early feminist work by some, and though I understand the grounding for those comments, it didn’t feel that way to me. Women having sexual desires and being bored and restrained by societal values wasn’t yet widely written about in the mid-19th Century, especially by a male writer, and that in itself needs to be celebrated, but a lot of the story was also taken away from Emma in my opinion. Her rebellions entrapped her further and caused a tragic ending. To me that reads: if you want love, sex, wealth and happiness in your life then you’re probably going to pay extreme consequences. Half of her wants were inaccessible to a woman of her time without a husband providing them. I guess, it does highlight that issue and I do wonder whether that was taken by readers at the time.

As Emma’s activities gained traction, the tragic ending felt inevitable, but I was still surprised by the consequences. I actually had part of the ending spoiled for me while reading an article on anti-Valentine’s reads from one of my favourite authors! And yeah, I know it’s nearly 160 years old, but a spoiler is still a spoiler. I do wonder if I wouldn’t have been so eager to just get it finished if I didn’t know the end, but I did, and I was ready for it to be over for at least the last third of the novel. I was fed up with Emma and Charles, to be honest!

Madame Bovary is a really interesting book and I'm glad I read it, but it really has confirmed for me that anything even verging on pastoral is so not for me!

WILL It Stay a Classic
Yes. Though it wasn’t 100% my cup of tea, it is an enjoyable novel and an easy to read one. It also has a literary legacy that you just can't really argue with.

WHO I’d Recommend it To
- Those who have heard it’s a feminist novel – I want to know your thoughts!
- Fans of Thomas Hardy’s pastoral settings.
- Fans of unlikable characters.


Monday, 22 February 2016

Perijee and Me, Ross Montgomery

Pages: 233
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door; The Tornado Chasers

When 11-year-old Caitlin discovers a shrimp-like alien creature on the shores of her island home, she takes responsibility for teaching it about the world. Mostly, this just involved stopping little Perijee from eating everything! Caitlin becomes increasingly close to her alien friend, treating him like a brother.

There’s only one problem – Perijee won’t stop growing.

Then the authorities try to hunt him down and through his fear, Perijee disappears and stars causing trouble. Caitlin must leave home and travel across the country to try and convince Perijee to stop destroying everything before it’s too late.

I was introduced to Perijee and Me at the Faber blogger event last Saturday and I had to read it immediately.

Caitlin broke my heart. She’s ten-years-old and lives on Middle Island with just her mum who spends all day working on her computer, and when he’s not away on book tour, her dad and her only friend is Frank who takes her to the mainland to school everyday. They’re both super successful scientists and they just can't understand how Caitlin struggles to grasp reading and writing; her dyslexia isn’t understood and so she hides it. I just wanted to wrap her up in a big, warm hug.  

Finding Perijee and teaching him all she can about being a human captures all of her energy and Caitlin finally feels like she has a friend, someone who loves and understands her completely. I loved seeing them go their adventure, finding friendship and mischief along the way. I loved how wonderfully naïve and innocent Caitlin is and the way that contrasted with Fi – I would love to know Fi’s story! They make a brilliant pair and I'm very glad they found each other.

Perijee and Me is a sweet, life-affirming adventure about friendship, family and home.

Thanks to Faber for the review copy.


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Letterbox Love #122

Letterbox Love is a way to give all of the books I receive for review some exposure. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated.

False Hearts, Laura Lam (e-proof)

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She's arrested for murder, the first by a civilian in a decade. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Zeal, a powerful drug, and offer her twin sister Taema a chilling deal. Taema must assume Tila’s identity and gather information – then if she brings down the drug syndicate, the police may let her sister live. But Taema’s investigation raises ghosts from the twins’ past.

The sisters were raised in a cult, which banned modern medicine. But as conjoined twins, they needed surgery to divide their shared heart – and escaped. Taema discovers Tila was moulded by the cult and that it's linked to the city’s underground. Once unable to keep secrets, the sisters will discover the true cost of lives.

I love Laura Lam’s Micah Gray series so I’m so looking forward to this! Thanks NetGalley and Tor!

The Loneliness of Distant Beings, Kate Ling (e-proof)

It is that quick, that strong, that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.

Even though she knows it’s impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It’s something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you’re hurtling through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.

Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. He becomes the sun for her, and she can't help but stay in his orbit. To lose him would be like losing herself.

In the dark, can a heart still hope?

I’ve been hankering after this ever since talking to Kate during #ukyachat and creepering on her book. Thanks Little Brown and NetGalley!

The Winner’s Kiss, Marie Rutkoski (e-proof)

Following the intrigue and danger of The Winner’s Curse and the revolution and romance of The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel finds herself in the tundra’s mines and Arin has sailed home. The empire seems unstoppable.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this third and final instalment in the heart-stopping Winners trilogy. 

One of my most anticipated books of the year! Thanks Bloomsbury and NetGalley!

Paper Butterflies, Lisa Heathfield (proof)

My dad didn’t see, or maybe he just didn’t want to.

June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. Not even her dad knows the truth. She's trapped like a butterfly in a net.

But then June meets Blister. In him, she finds a glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away.

Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom. But what price?

I am SO looking forward to this! And I’m quoted in the proof! Thanks Electric Monkey!

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited along to Faber for a preview of all the exciting titles they have coming up! Here are the books I got in the goody bag.

Highly Illogical Behaviour, John Corey Whaley

Perijee and Me, Ross Montgomery

Rebel Bully Geek Pariah, Erin Lange


Friday, 19 February 2016

The Shadow Keeper, Abi Elphinstone

Pages: 305
Publisher: S&S
Release Date: 25th February 2016
Edition: UK signed proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Dreamsnatcher

Moll Pecksniff and her friends are living as outlaws in a secret cave by the sea, desperate to stay hidden from the Shadowmasks. But further along the coast lies the Amulet of Truth, the only thing powerful enough to force the Shadowmasks back and contain their dark magic. So, together with Gryff, the wildcat that’s always at her side, and her best friends Alfie and Sid, Moll must sneak past smugglers, outwit mer creatures and crack secret codes to save the Old Magic. With more at stake than ever before and the dark magic rising fast, can Moll and her friends stop the Shadowmasks before it’s too late?

The Dreamsnatcher was one of my very favourite reads last year and I fell even more head over heels with The Shadow Keeper.

Abi Elphinstone’s writing is even more wonderfully vibrant than I remembered. It’s so physical and lively that I felt like I was with Moll, Gryff, Siddy and Alfie every step of the way. I was so caught up in the adventure that I barely managed to write any review notes (which I usually do unfailingly) – there was too much to experience for me to pull away for even a minute. This is the kind of writing and story that will made kids realise just how magical reading and stories can be.

Moll is stubborn and brave and full of heart. She goes on quite a journey through The Shadow Keeper and I was constantly going between cheering her on and wanting to give her a big, squishy cuddle. Moll’s journey takes her from kelpies to spirits, smuggler gangs to a tempestuous lighthouse called Dorothy – there isn’t a still moment in this book and I read it in two big gulps.

The Shadow Keeper is another gorgeous adventure story filled with magic, friendship, love and loyalty.

Thanks to Abi and S&S for the review copy.