Friday, December 13, 2013

More Than This by Patrick Ness

 A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. 
He dies.
Then he wakes, naked, bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange, deserted place?
As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this after life?

Star Rating 

I received this book from Walker Books for an open and honest review.

I had heard a lot of great things about this new novel from Patrick Ness and, being unfamiliar with his previous work, thought I would give a new author a go. In a nut shell... this book was modern, mesmerising and masterfully written!  

Again, as with all my favourite YA novels, this book throws the reader straight into a scene of panic and terror with it's opening chapter:

"Here is the boy, drowning. In these last moments, it's not the water that's finally done for him; it's the cold. Even when he can catch his breath in the few terrified seconds he manages to push his face into the air, he is shaking so badly he can barely get half a lungful before he's under again."

It is not until chapter 5 that we find out the name of this mysterious boy, who thinking he has died, shockingly wakes up in a deserted street. A street in England. A street he recognises from his past but lacking in any human life. Seth finds himself wondering if he has woken up in hell. "Is this what hell is? Trapped forever, alone, in your worst memory?" As Seth tries to come to terms with what has happened he experiences a number of 'flashbacks' to life before he woke up. It is during these flashbacks that the author, Patrick Ness, cleverly draws in the reader as he drip feeds information about Seth and his brother Owen. It is made clear early on that something terrible happened before the accident and it is these subtle hints throughout that had me gripped and desperate to know more. 

"He remembers the shock of what awaited him like a punch to the gut, telling him just exactly what the hell he had woken up to."

As the novel progresses, Seth meets two other children by the names of Regine and Tomasz. It becomes clear that all three children are connected in some way and they quickly begin to realise that all is not as it seems. Why can't they remember their life before now? "There was more to your life and you've forgotten it." The second half of Patrick Ness' book moves towards the Sci-Fi genre and, as a reader, you must have a very open mind and not ask too many questions. The ending is undetermined and sets the novel up perfectly for a sequel. (I for one am hoping there is one!)

In this novel, Patrick Ness made very good use of past and present tense and the reader was often taken back to conversations Seth had in the past before he drowned. As with most YA novels, the chapters are very short and with a cliff hanger at the end of almost all 83 chapters it was near on impossible to put down! I would best describe this book as a tense, Sci-Fi thriller and it is thoroughly captivating throughout. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hide! The tiger's mouth is open wide! by Adam Frost

 A tiger with toothache is terrifying! As Tom and Sophie are about to find out... But when your dad is a zookeeper and your mum's the zoo vet, there's also grrrreat fun to be had. An animal-packed zoo caper with stacks of behind-the scenes peeks at London zoo!
Tom and Sophie Nightingale live on a barge with their zookeeper dad and vet mum, and as many animals as you can get on a small boat. Surely there's no room for any MORE animals in their life?
When a tiger at the zoo has a dental dilemma, Tom and Sophie can't help but get involved. But there is a carnivorous culprit closer to home that they must also diagnose - and quickly! 

Star Rating

I received this book from Bloomsbury for an honest and open review. 

Initially, I was wary about reading this book to my Year 2 class as I thought it would read as an 'educational' book and lack a substantial story plot. However, I was pleasantly surprised and, although it is packed full of animal facts, the children thoroughly enjoyed the story behind them.

In this story Tom is reluctant to go to the dentist for a check-up, a feeling that the children in my class could strongly connect with (although some children did tell me they LOVE going to the dentist as they have the best stickers known to man.) Having a dad who works as a zoo-keeper and a mum who works as the zoo vet, Tom and Sophie are invited along to the local zoo to help care for some animals who are having their own dental dilemmas!

This book was packed full of interesting facts about animals and their teeth. My class particularly liked the more gruesome facts - for example, the rat whose teeth were getting so long that they were starting to curl back into it's mouth. The children learned why herbivores have different teeth to omnivores and which creature has the most teeth. When reading about Harriet the hippo, I showed them an image of the inside of a hippopotamus' mouth and the children were amazed at the sheer size! 

I would highly recommend this book to read alongside a science topic, or just as an enjoyable story for any animal lovers out there!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. 
Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary's life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside the wreckage, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty year old Kacey and her fifteen year old sister Livie escape Grand Rapids, Michigan to start over in Miami.
With little money and even less food, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey's not worried. She can handle anything - anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Star Rating

I received this book from Simon & Schuster, through Net Galley, for an open and honest review. 

"Just breathe," my mum would say. "Ten, tiny breaths...Seize them. Feel them. Love them."
What the hell does a tiny breath do? Why not a deep breath? Why ten? Why not three or five or twenty?

Ten Tiny Breaths tells the story of Kacey Cleary, a troubled and damaged young woman struggling to cope with life after the harrowing accident that killed both her parents, best friend and boyfriend. The explosive opening chapter was very reminiscent of some of my favourite YA novels such as 'The Memory Game' and 'The Lovely Bones' with the reader being taken straight to the scene of the accident. Told in the first person, through the eyes of Kacey, the reader is thrown slap bang into blind panic. "Dim lights...voices...I see them. I hear them. The smashed windshield. The twisted metal. Dark smears. Liquid pools. Blood. Everywhere."

Sufficiently gripped from the start, the reader is taken on a journey with Kacey to discover how she will ever heal and overcome this terrible tragedy.K.A. Tucker cleverly reveals this process through the use of chapter names. The story is organised into nine stages: Comfortably Numb, Denial, Resistance, Acceptance, Dependence, Withdrawal, Breakdown, Recovery, Forgiveness. These headings set the reader up with an idea of where the plot is going and I found myself racing through to find out what the 'breakdown' was going to entail for Kacey and Livie.

Eager for a new start, Kacey and Livie move to a run-down apartment block in Miami which is where Kacey meets Trent Emerson with his 'smouldering blue eyes and deep dimples.' As with nearly all YA novels, the story wouldn't be complete without a love interest and Kacey very quickly falls deeply in love with her handsome, new neighbour. Trent tries with all his might to make Kacey smile again but it becomes clear that he has his own demons that he needs to resolve first.

As explained in the synopsis,

'Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey's guarded heart - even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.'

Where this novel fell down was in the revelation of Trent's secret. I am usually one of those people who doesn't see things coming, who always fails to anticipate the twist ending to a good film. However, I did see Trent's secret coming. Very early on! So when the 'explosive' secret was revealed it was more of a 'meh' moment for me.

However, this is still a great novel packed full of emotional ups and downs. Anyone who has undergone similar traumas in their life will, without a doubt, be able to empathise and resonate with Kacey's story. A recommended read for lovers of YA fiction!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Zoe Collins has a dark and terrible secret that she dares to confess to no one. But one day she hears of a criminal on death row who knows all about secrets. And lies. And betrayal. 
Desperate to confide in someone, Zoe picks up a pen. 
These are the letters that she wrote. 

Star Rating 

This book had been on my to read list for ages so when I saw it on offer in Waterstones I just had to buy it and boy am I glad I did. Unfortunately it didn't quite make the 5 star mark purely because I found the beginning quite slow, however don't let the four stars put you off. This book was brilliant and, for any fans of YA fiction, a must read!

I have always been a fan of stories told in letter/diary form, having enjoyed the likes of 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' and the old, but brilliant, 'Adrian Mole's diary'.
The letters in this book are written by a young girl named Zoe who lives a seemingly ordinary life with her loving family. However, very early on, the reader is made aware that Zoe holds a terrible secret that she will have to live with for the rest of her life. 

Zoe begins an unlikely friendship with Max, a popular guy with the ladies, from her local high school. However, at a party that Max also attends, Zoe locks eyes with Aaron and a new romance blossoms. Zoe finds herself in the centre of a love triangle and, not realising that the two boys are in fact brothers, finds herself in a very sticky situation. 

"I laughed. I couldn't help it, even though my mind was conjuring up a picture of two brothers side by side in the same room with their phones, no idea they were texting the same girl."

This novel by Annabel Pitcher is extremely hard to put down as the reader is always eager to know Zoe's terrible secret. Although it had a very slow start (as the month's coincide with the incident that happened one year previously) I was gripped by the events unfurling and was desperate to know what had happened.

The novel was filled with touches of humour and some characters that readers can really relate to. Annabel Pitcher includes subplots of family troubles such as parental arguments, money troubles and living with siblings with disabilities. 

This is a very well written book with enough mystery and suspense to force you into reading it in one sitting. It is a moving and edgy story that again will stay with you long after finishing. Why the ketchup clouds I hear you ask! Well to be honest, I don't really know. But what's in a title.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

After Eden by Helen Douglas

If love is in the stars, then it will find you, when you least expect it... 
 The mysterious Ryan appears in Eden's life suddenly - as if from nowhere. He's gorgeous, irresistible, but of all of the girls vying for his attention, it's only Eden he seems interested in. Where has this beautiful boy come from, and why has he chosen her? But each time she discovers something new about Ryan, Eden edges closer to danger. What will happen when she works out the whole truth?
A truth which will make her fall for him even harder...

I received this book from Bloomsbury for an open and honest review. 

Star Rating

This sci-fi romance novel for young adults gripped me from the very start and was a real page turner. The plot idea was new and exciting and was very well written. Helen Douglas has that extraordinary talent of making the reader care about the characters from very early on and Eden, Ryan and their friend Connor were all characters that I can see teen readers connecting with on a personal level. 

After Eden is ultimately a love story between Eden, a normal girl from Cornwall whose parents died in a car crash when she was just six years old, and Ryan, a handsome, muscular boy with an air of mystery surrounding him. Early on in the novel, Ryan joins Eden's high school and quickly becomes the subject of many young girl's affections, including Eden's. This is much to the displeasure of Connor, Eden's sidekick and best friend. During a revision session at Ryan's home, Eden accidentally scoops up one of Ryan's books in her haste to leave and it is this small but significant action that sets up the storyline for the rest of the book.

The book, Eden notices, has been written by her best friend Connor 69 years in the future. The impossibility that this book brings results in a whirlwind of revelations - both for Eden and the reader. How is this possible? Who is the real Ryan and where has he come from? Eden soon realises that Ryan is not all he seems. He has been sent to complete a mission that may affect everything that happens in the future. As a result of this knowledge, Eden edges closer to danger as Ryan explains " time travel is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction." 

With 'The Time Traveller's Wife' being one of my all time favourite books, I have always found the idea of time travel fascinating. It is strange to think what the world would be like if we could travel through time changing and directing the course of life's events. Towards the end of this novel, Eden reflects on her own notions of time travel.

 "I tensed at the thought that my future was out there somewhere, lying ahead of me, unloved, unknown, unimagined."

There are many references in this novel to space and astronomy and Helen Douglas left the reader with some profound thoughts and ideas. One of these being that "when stars explode, they release their debris into the universe and this stardust forms new stars and planets and all the life forms on those planets. Everything on Earth, even you and me, is made from atoms that were once inside a star. We're made of stardust."

Unfortunately, I didn't love the ending to this story but I completely understand why Helen Douglas chose to run with it. The ending is set up superbly for a sequel and I for one will definitely be reading it. A highly recommend YA romance. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

So Many Books! So Little Time!

Half term has arrived!

Everyone who knows me knows that I put 100% effort into everything I do. That couldn't be more true of my job and teaching 30 children everyday is hard work believe me!

So, like many other teachers out there, I am thrilled to say that half term has arrived. My blog has been somewhat neglected recently and my stack of review books is growing ever larger by the day. 

I am hoping to read and review as many as I can over the next week, as well as taking part in some Halloween antics and film/tv immersion. While I am on the topic of films - I have seen two absolute winners recently so if you haven't already been to see these then make sure you go!!

The first was Prisoners - a thriller about the disappearance of two six year old girls. At two and a half hours, this was a long film but I enjoyed every minute. It was A-MAZ-ING. 


The second film I rate is.... TURBO! Yes I'm 26. Yes it's for kids. But animation films are sooo good and I even shed a tear for Theo/Turbo the snail. Go and watch it! And if you need any more convincing then... SNOOP DOG IS IN IT. Enough said. 


I digress... 
Here are some of my recent purchases and review copies with reviews to follow...

 Review Copies

Recent Purchases


The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn't have many friends. She spends her time alone in the woods near her house - her safe place, until she finds the body of a young woman. 
Susanna Mitchell is searching for her sister, Ronnie, who vanished after leaving a late-night bar. The more she discovers about Ronnie's life, the more she realises that her sister began to disappear long before she went missing. 

Star Rating

I received this book from Atlantic publishers for an open and honest review. 

Being an avid fan of crime thrillers, I had high expectations of this debut novel from Holly Goddard Jones. Although it didn't completely live up to my expectations, for a first novel, I must applaud this talented new author.

'The Next Time You See Me' tells the story of Emily Houchens, a sad, troubled young teen who is mercilessly bullied at school and is lacking in friends. Very early on in the novel, on a visit to the local woods, Emily stumbles upon a body. A dead body rotting away hidden and unnoticed.

"What she thought she'd seen she didn't quite believe; she focused her eyes to the left of it, squinting and then, still uncertain, she crouched down - and yes, there it was, pale and threaded with fine lines, dimpled in the center with dark soil: a human palm."

As Emily struggles to deal with the secret she has unearthed, the reader is introduced to a number of other characters including that of Wyatt - an old, lonely man who lives a very sad existence. The reader is also introduced to Suzanna Mitchell, a school teacher and mum of one, who is desperately searching for her missing sister Ronnie. 

Very early on, it becomes clear that all the characters in the story are linked in some way and Holly Goddard Jones intertwines their story lines with great skill and ease. Everyone in the story is linked to the murder in some form or other and, as the story progresses, plots become neatly woven together.

Where this novel is let down is in it's lack of mystery and twists. Quite early on I had figured out who had committed the murder of Ronnie Mitchell and this, unfortunately, spoiled my enjoyment of the book. Crime fiction fans love a red herring or two and I was disappointed to find the novel lacking in this area. As the novel moved on, I was hoping that maybe I was wrong and that Holly Goddard Jones was going to throw a shock ending my way but unfortunately this wish didn't come true.

However, for the story line and skilled writing alone this debut novel deserves praise and I will certainly be reading Holly's next installment. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Splintered by A.G. Howard : Review

 Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in a mental institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.'

To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas.

Star Rating

I purchased this book from Amazon on recommendation from other book bloggers out there. Let's face it, this book is worth buying for the front cover alone. It is beautiful!

"Welcome To The Real Wonderland"

This novel from A. G. Howard tells the story of Alyssa Gardner, a troubled, young teenager who is receiving whispered messages from insects and flowers around her. Very early on in the story the reader is introduced to Alyssa's mother, Alison, who is living life in a mental institution. During a visit to her mother, Alyssa soon realises that she is sharing the same mysterious hallucinations that her mother lives with every day. Armed with a set of clues from Alison, Alyssa sets off to discover once and for all what happened to her family all those years ago in Wonderland. Can Alyssa break the curse of insanity and save her family from the nightmares of Wonderland?

The main plot of the story begins with Alyssa entering the rabbit hole and floating, weightlessly, into Wonderland. Alyssa soon realises that the Lewis Carroll book "wasn't exactly fiction" and she finds herself entering into a nightmarish world with "fleshless, bleached out skeletons" and "flower zombies". A.G Howard has included many dark details in her descriptions of Wonderland that create a horrifying image in the reader's mind. However, some of these descriptions become almost 'unbelievable' with a new, nighmarish twist around every corner. I mean, the disney version of Alice In Wonderland is scary enough; just look at these terrifying faces!

As with almost all YA fiction, the story involved a love story, turned triangle, with the addition of the characters Jeb and Morpheus. Jeb's entry into Wonderland seemed almost ludicrous with him randomly falling into the rabbit hole behind Alyssa and then, consequently, joining her on her journey through Wonderland. I didn't really connect with Jeb's character and feel that the reader wouldn't have been at a great loss if he was missing from the story line. 

I would recommend this book for fans of the original Alice In Wonderland story. At times, it does begin to feel like fan fiction although A.G. Howard has succeeded in creating a nightmarish world with vivid descriptions and imaginative twists. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Geek Girl Model Misfit by Holly Smale : Review

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.”

Harriet Manners knows a lot of facts.

She knows that humans have 70,000 thoughts per day.

She knows that Geek + Model = a whole new set of graffiti on your belongings.

And that the average person eats a ton of food a year, though her pregnant stepmother is doing her best to beat this.

But Harriet doesn’t know where she’s going to fit in once the new baby arrives. And with her summer plans ruined, modelling in Japan seems the perfect chance to get away.

Can Harriet cope with the craziness of Tokyo, her competitive model flatmates and her errant grandmother’s ‘chaperoning’. Or seeing gorgeous Nick everywhere she goes?

Will geek girl find her place on the other side of the world?

I received this copy from Harper Collins for an open and honest review.

Star Rating

I was actually in the middle of a different, fairly mediocre, book when this beauty arrived through my letter box courtesy of Harper Collins. Upon arrival I opened it up intending to read a couple of chapters and found that, four hours later, I had finished the whole thing. I enjoyed Harriet Manners the first time round in Holy Smale's debut 'Geek Girl' however this time I found her adventures to be 'unputdownable.'

Again, I need to point out the amazing front cover that is sure to jump out on the shelves and appeal to it's target audience of young girls. The chapters are incredibly short (something I personally love) and make the story a very easy read. 

This Geek Girl sequel follows Harriet Manners to Tokyo as she continues on her new-found modelling career. Here she meets some new friends, Poppy and Rin, but are they quite what they seem? On her journey, Harriet faces some new challenges that provide many humorous scenes for the reader but utter humiliation for Harriet herself. Along with new and exciting characters, such as Harriet's grandma Bunty, we are also reacquainted with some much loved old characters including Nick (Harriet's 'boyfriend') and Toby (her crazy stalker). The ending to the book has an enjoyable twist involving some of these characters and left me feeling satisfied.

Sequels are always a brave move and I feel that Holly Smale has surpassed her first installment with Model Misfit. The story is told, through the voice of Harriet Manners, with great ease and humour. Weird and wonderful facts are shared throughout as Harriet shows her 'geek' side. One of my favourites being: 

"99.99999999999999999 per cent of every atom consists of empty space." 

Harriet goes on to explain, "It means that every single thing in front of you right now - the chair you're sitting on, the shoes on your feet, the glasses on your nose, the chocolate in your mouth - is mostly not there. And that includes you."

I shall now be eagerly awaiting Holly Smale's third installment coming some time in 2014.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty : Review

At the heart of The Husband's Secret is a letter that's not meant to be read ...

Mother of three and wife of Jean-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.
Curious, she opens it - and time stops.
Jean-Paul's letter confesses to an act of madness from before he knew Cecilia which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia - betrayed, angry and distraught - wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most...

Star Rating

I received this book from the publishers for an honest and open review.

Before I start, can we all just take a moment to admire how beautiful this front cover is. Having finished the book (very quickly as I couldn't put it down) the meaning of this image becomes all the more apparent. 'The Husband's Secret' is full of mystery, lies and untold truths that, as the story develops, slowly reveal themselves and the butterfly effect begins. As secrets are released a knock on effect occurs that has devastating consequences for the families involved. 

This story is very clever with three intertwining story lines involving three different families. From the very start the reader is made aware that 'the husband's secret' is going to influence the course of events for all the characters in the book and this provided some terrific plot twists. 

The narrative begins with Celia (mother of three) rooting around in the attic for an old holiday souvenir to share with her daughter. Accidentally knocking over a box of her husband's work documents, "Celia's eye was caught by her own name on a white business envelope. She picked it up and saw that it was John-Paul's handwriting. It said: For my wife, Celia Fitzpatrick, to be opened only in the event of my death." However, it is not until page 144 that Celia finally opens the letter and the butterfly effect begins.  

This story is all about the things we know, the things we don't, and whether or not we ever get to choose. The book explores the consequences of our actions and how, as humans, our insatiable curiosity for knowledge can sometimes have devastating effects. Do we really want to know our loved ones darkest secrets? And once you know, what then?

As Liane Moriarty explains, "Poor, poor Pandora. Nobody tells Pandora a word about the jar. Nobody tells her not to open the jar. Naturally, she opens the jar. How was she to know that all those dreadful ills would go whooshing out to plague mankind forever more, and that the only thing left in the jar would be hope?"

This was a fantastic story that captured my attention from start to finish. With the three intertwining story lines it was difficult to keep up at first but as the characters developed it became easier to follow. It was interesting to discover how the three families would link and be effected by the revelation of the secrets unfurling. 

Another highly recommended read to all! 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

This Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffers : Review

Wilfred owned a moose. He hadn't always owned a moose. The moose came to him a while ago and he knew, just KNEW, that it was meant to be his. He thought he would call him Marcel.

Most of the time Marcel is very obedient, abiding by the many rules on How to Be a Good Pet. But one dark day. while deep in the woods, someone else claims the moose as their own...

         Star Rating
I received this book from Harper Collins for an open and honest review.

Being a massive fan of Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers, I requested this copy from Harper Collins and had very high expectations. Once again, Jeffers has managed to combine a thought-provoking story line with beautiful illustrations that capture children's attention and help to draw them into the plot.

This book explores the concept of ownership and teaches children that belongings should always be returned to their rightful owner. My Year 2 class grasped this concept quite quickly with one child saying that "Wilfred did the right thing. He gave the moose back in  the end." Many of the children told me that they enjoyed the story as both Wilfred and the moose made good choices - Wilfred returned Marcel and Marcel became a good pet. In addition to this, my class were highly amused when Wilfred ended up in a 'perilous situation' tangled in a ball of string and hanging from Marcel's antlers.

Whilst discussing our likes and dislikes, one child told me that they didn't like the book as Wilfred's mum would be worried because he didn't come home. This book has many underlying themes that teaches children rights and wrongs in a fun and humorous way. There is some quite sophisticated language included such as 'enraged', 'perilous' and 'compromise' which allowed for some word level discussion and for children to add these to their vocabulary. 

A beautifully-illustrated, thought-provoking story!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Wrongful Death by Lynda La Plante : Review

Six months after the body of Josh Reynolds, a London nightclub owner, was found and determined by police and coroner to be a suicide, DCS James Langton tasks DCI Anna Travis to review the case. Reynolds died from a single gunshot wound to the head, the gun held in his right hand. But details are emerging that suggest someone else may have fired the gun...

As soon as she wraps up the case, Langton tells Anna she can join him at the FBI Academy in Virginia for training. Meanwhile, a Senior FBI Agent, Jessie Dewar, crime scene expert, is seconded to Anna's team as part of her research and immediately the competence of the original investigation team is questioned.

Star Rating


I received this book from Simon & Schuster for an honest review.

Surprisingly, as a lover of crime fiction, this was the first novel by Lynda La Plante that I have read and it definitely won't be the last. This was an extremely detailed and exciting read that followed the investigation of Anna Travis and her team as they worked to discover what really happened to Josh Reynolds on that fateful night. Was it suicide or murder? What secrets would unfold as the closed suicide case became a homicide investigation?

Lynda La Plante has told this thrilling mystery story in enormous detail with many references to the particulars of crime investigations. Throughout the book, the reader is exposed to an array of evidence including blood splatter patterns, finger prints, interviews and CCTV footage. All this contributes to the realism of the plot and helped me to form opinions and theories in my mind. The book had many twists and turns and I kept changing my mind all the way through as to who I thought may have murdered Josh Reynolds. I would make a terrible detective!

The story was very reminiscent of recent popular series such as Dexter and Luther and the characters involved were very likeable and real. I was particularly drawn to the relationships between Detectives Travis and Dewar and later on between Travis and Bane as their relationship blossomed at the FBI training camp.

At a grand total of 500 pages I did at times find myself struggling and found the detail included quite draining. However, there was a welcomed break in plot roughly halfway through the book as Detective Anna Travis left for America to take part in the FBI training course. Here, she set upon a new case to discover what happened to a missing school girl and this subplot added an exciting twist to the story.

Lynda La Plante made good use of rhetoric and questioning in her writing to make the reader feel involved in the case and part of the discovery. I was eager to find out who killed Josh Reynolds and why and found myself with that end of 'Cluedo' feeling upon my discovery.

I am giving this book 4 stars as I feel the story could have been told in less pages and sometimes in less detail. However, for all crime lovers out there with a strong interest in police investigations this is a must read.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sharon Sant Guest Post, author of 'The Memory Game'

I am VERY excited to welcome the amazing author Sharon Sant to my book blog. Having recently finished reading her new novel, The Memory Game, I am now slightly obsessed with this incredibly talented author. Check out my 5 star review of The Memory Game here...

So, after Sharon had kindly agreed to guest post on my blog I started to brainstorm some ideas. I wanted to do something different to the normal Q&A interviews and wanted the post to be related to Sharon's powerful story plot. With this in mind, I asked Sharon the following...

"Three weeks ago fifteen-year-old David died, he is still hanging around and he doesn't know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his school days bullying."

Putting yourself in David's shoes and one person could see and hear you, who would you choose to spend your 'after'life with?

Sharon Sant

Top 5 fictional characters to spend the afterlife with

When Lynsey asked me to choose five fictional characters to spend the afterlife with, the biggest problem I had was deciding whether they’d be with me forever or not. They’d need to be immortal to wander with me forever, which meant I was looking at one of the Elves from Lord of the Rings or Highlander! The other option is to go with someone else who is dead too, which left me with Marty Hopkirk or Casper the Friendly Ghost. Then I decided to scrap the idea of having them forever and go with a ‘live’ person for a little while. I actually couldn’t decide on the order of the list, so they’re not in any order really, I’ll take whoever turns up first!

Harry Potter from… well… Harry Potter.

He can already see ghosts, right? And he’d be pretty cute and fun and would be able to do magic that would help me enjoy the afterlife a bit. Maybe he’d even find a way to help me communicate with other people that didn’t just involve making himself look like a nutter who talks to his imaginary friend?

Ma Larkin from The Darling Buds of May

I wanted one of my choices to be someone nurturing, someone who would be like a mother figure but would be a bit fun too. Molly Weasley sprang to mind, but as I already have Harry, I thought I would look elsewhere for inspiration.  A long, long time ago, I read these books and quite enjoyed them as a bit of feel good escapism. I reckon the afterlife might be a bit short of feel good escapism so anywhere you can get it is fine by me.

Dr Watson from Sherlock Holmes

Watson is level-headed, good-natured, patient and open-minded – in short, a fine upstanding member of Victorian society. And if you can stay sane in the face of Sherlock’s temper tantrums and taciturn silences, coping with a ghost following you around will be child’s play.

George the werewolf from Being Human

Ok, I snuck in a TV one. And you might think this is a weird choice, but George is actually kind and considerate and very cute. I know what you’re thinking, once a month he turns into a bloodthirsty, uncontrolled ball of fluffy rage – but I’m already dead, so what’s he going to do to me? I’ll just sit it out until he’s done. Oh, and he can already see ghosts too. Does that mean I get another choice to go with him?

Luca Valvona from the Sky Song trilogy.

This bad, right? Choosing one of your own characters is probably the literary equivalent of laughing at your own jokes.  But I struggled with number five and, as I always say, if you can’t create people you love, who can? He’s fun and flirty and always up for adventure and someone you definitely want on your side when you’re in a jam. And I’ve said before that out of all my characters, I think Luca is the one that might have more than a little bit of me in him.  I might find that very annoying, of course, but I reckon we’d get on like the proverbial house on fire.  Something that’s a definite bonus when you’ve got no one else to talk to! As there are no actual photos of this character, I’ve had to use my imagination and cast someone. I chose Jonathan Bailey because, although my Luca is darker haired, Jonathan could pass as an Italian teenager (he played a young Leonardo da Vinci in CBBC’s Leonardo - I will never forgive the BBC for cancelling that show!) and he would be rather pleasant to look at.

Check out Sharon Sant's website here

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Memory Game by Sharon Sant

"If there is a hell, I think maybe this is it."

Three weeks after fifteen-year-old David died, he is still hanging around and he doesn't know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his school days bullying. 

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her. 

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning...

Star Rating

I received a copy of 'The Memory Game' from the author, Sharon Sant, for an honest review.

With it's explosive and shocking start, 'The Memory Game' grips the reader from start to finish. The story begins with fifteen year old David looking down on his dead body at the scene of a hit  and run accident. The story is told in the first person and the reader is immediately drawn into the story wondering who David is and what has happened to him - "I should go somewhere, but I can't seem to leave my corpse alone. It looks so... vulnerable. Stupid, I know - it's just a body now, after all." 

As soon as I had read the first couple of pages I just knew that this book wasn't going to disappoint! The story had a 'Lovely Bones' feel to it with David watching life go on without him. It was interesting to read about the repercussions of death from the victim rather than the grieving family. Sharon Sant made many references to the loneliness and emptiness of death as the ghost of David came to terms with what had happened to him "I feel like an empty crisp bag on the wind, blown around, useless and unwanted. I'm like a walking memory." It was heartbreaking to see David wandering along the school corridors, unseen, unheard and unwanted. 

After a frustrated tantrum in the school assembly, David realises that Bethany Willis, a girl in his year group, can see him. The rest of the story focuses on the relationship between these two characters as they begin to build a strong friendship together. David and Bethany begin to spend every waking second together and the reader, along with David, enters upon a journey of discovery - who is the real Bethany Willis and why is she the only person who can see and hear David? On this journey, Sharon Sants introduces us to some very dark and mature themes that will stay with the reader long after finishing the book! It made me realise that you can never truly know what goes on behind closed doors and that families all over the world must hold hidden secrets and untold truths. 

It is the dark themes in this book that make it stand out and sets it aside from many other YA books out there. Sharon Sant is one of those authors who can make the reader laugh, gasp and cry. The ending is superb and was exactly how I wanted the story to finish. I feel privileged to have been asked to read this wonderful book that I am sure will stay with me for a long time. A five star read and highly recommendable!