BOOKBLOG: Peadar Ó Guilín

The Call: dark, gritty, brutal. Dystopian done proper.

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“Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Could you survive the Call?”

Everyone had been telling me to read The Call FOREVER and I never quite got round to it, but once I had a copy (thanks Waterstones Newcastle) I had to read it then and there, and MY GOD. What a book

The Call is the story of Nessa, a young girl with a disability, who lives in a world where students are taken away and have these so called three minutes to save their lives; to outrun the enemies. The book starts with Nessa hearing about the loss of her brother to The Call and her parents worrying for Nessa, thinking that, due to her disability, there is no way she would survive ‘the call’ if it ever came for her. The story then follows Nessa through schooling in Ireland where they learn to fight, survive and ultimately prepare themselves for ‘the call’. 

There was so much I loved about this book. I went through a massive ‘dystopian phase’ a year or 2 ago and there is so much dystopian fiction out there that gems like this can get totally lost. I am so glad I came across it now, because it blew me away. The story is so dark, so gritty and there’s some pretty grim things that happen in this story but I LOVED IT. Sometimes a bit of dark, gritty fiction is what I need. Alongside the incredible story there were some pretty incredible characters, which for me totally made the book even better. Nessa, the main character in the story, is badass, brave and never makes her disability an excuse. She’s brazen and bold. Her training isn’t easy, but she gives it her all, never giving up when it gets too hard. She deals with some pretty horrible students, watching other students disappear, love and potential loss, all while being a good friend and a fighter. The other students in the book are so effortlessly diverse: in both sexuality and race. I had a particular soft spot for her love interest in the story. I don’t know what it was about him, but he reminded me a bit of Peeta from Hunger Games. 

I can’t recommend this book enough. I regret waiting so long to read it. AND Paedar is LOVELY on Twitter, go follow him. Read this. I would LOVE to chat about it!

My Goodreads review:

Absolutely brilliant. Genuinely grim and gritty. I liked Nessa straight away. So much brutality and darkness, but interesting and unique. Bloody loved it.

Have you read The Call?
What was it that you loved most about it?
Can you recommend any books similar?

Let me know on twitter (@eenalol) or in the comments, I need some more dark dystopian fiction in my life! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Catherine Barter

Troublemakers: politically minded, sibling focused deliciousness

Troublemakers(I took this at 7am, whilst on a residential with my class. Even when we’re away, I’ll read!)

“Fifteen-year-old Alena never really knew her political activist mother, who died when she was a baby. She has grown up with her older half-brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick in the east end of London. Now the area is threatened by a bomber who has been leaving explosive devices in supermarkets. It is only a matter of time before a bomb goes off. Against this increasingly fearful backdrop, Alena seeks to discover more about her past, while Danny takes a job working for a controversial politician. As her family life implodes, and the threat to Londoners mounts, Alena starts getting into trouble. Then she does something truly rebellious.”

Troublemakers is the story of Alena, who is figuring the world out. She’s 15, she’s discovering the world as it is, she wants to be part of it, she wants to make her stamp on the world. Her older brother Danny and his partner Nick are her life. She lives with them, Danny took on guardianship of Alena when her mum died. Their relationship (both sibling and parental) intrigued me immensely throughout the story. I love a well written, believable sibling relationship – I have a brilliant relationship with my brother, so seeing other positive brother/sister relationships makes my heart so happy. She has a brilliant relationship with Nick too – he’s a wonderful character, sometimes playing middle man between the warring siblings. There’s parts of this story where my heart was breaking for Danny and Nick. I really liked their relationship. 

I’m not normally one to pick up a political book, but whilst this deals with politics, it’s not in your face. It’s not the only thing about this book. It is a brilliant book in the current climate and it touched on some pretty important things. I won’t spoil it for you but this is a brilliant story. It’s very character centric which I adored. There’s times when you’ll want to punch the characters, hug them, argue with them: books like this are my favourites. I like to feel part of their lives. Not a bystander.

Danny and Alena do not see eye to eye in this. There are so many things they dispute over. One of the main areas of dispute is Alena’s need to hunt out one of her mum’s best friends. Danny HATES this idea. It causes a lot of tension between the siblings. They fall out. They argue. They ignore each other. Alena goes against her brother’s wishes. She rebels. There’s some lovely moments between them where they both soften to each other because they eventually see what the other needs. Danny does things too, gets a job, that Alena doesn’t like either. They both make mistakes; they both rebel against each other to try and find their identity

This book, in the end, filled my heart with joy. 

My Goodreads review reads:

“Fantastic. Absolutely loved it. Totally apt for today’s world. A loving, conflicted sibling relationship. A beautiful relationship. A complicated, yet simple political message. Character centric and I adored it.”

Thank you to Andersen Press for sending me a copy! 

Have you read Troublemakers?
What’s your take on political books?
Do you have a favourite sibling relationship in fiction?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I need more brother/sister fictional relationships in my life!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us: filled with faith, tears and friendshipImage result for the names they gave us

“Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.
Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.
It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.”

Lucy is a young lady who is struggling with her faith, her boyfriend, her home town and her mam’s illness. Everything seems to be piling on top of her and it makes her question everything. Lucy usually spends summers helping at her mam and dad’s summer camp, but this year her mam has a new idea: for Lucy to go help at the other summer camp over the lake. Unlike her parent’s camp: it’s not a religious camp, it’s a camp for troubled kids. It’s here that Lucy finds a lot out about herself, about life and about love, in all its kinds.

I’m sometimes hesitant with books about faith, as they can be written in the wrong manner, with the wrong message but this one was incredible. I know a lot of people are put off by books with religion, featuring characters who are religious and that’s a shame, because this one is wonderful. The story looks at Lucy and her faith and how it’s impacted by everything in her life. Her faith isn’t the be all and end all of this story but it’s an important undertone. Her faith is part of her and so it should be part of her story. It becomes something she struggles with but is always something she is dedicated to. It plays a big part in her relationship with her boyfriend Lucas, who is an equally religious young man who eventually ends up not understanding Lucy’s questioning of her faith. 

Lucy’s adventure in Rising Sun Camp introduces her to some incredible characters, some tough challenges and some kids who help to make her the person she becomes. She deals with children she’s never had to before, camp activities that she wouldn’t normally. She’s thrust into an environment that she’s never been in before. She meets friends that are probably some of the best she will ever have. There’s romance. A beautifully written romance, which starts as a friendship and grows. I loved watching the evolution of this relationship. It made my heart so happy.

Obviously, it’s not all happy. Lucy’s mam is poorly. She’s away from her family. She’s questioning her faith. She’s not sure who she is. She’s not sure what she’s doing. I finished this book with a lot of tears, but with a full heart. It is a beautifully written tale of friendship, love and faith

I was very lucky to receive a proof of this from the publishers and I am so grateful! Having read When We Collided, another book by this wonderful author, I knew I needed to get my hands on it!

Have you read The Names They Gave Us?
What’s your take on books with religious themes?
Have you read When We Collided?
BOOK BLOG: Emery Lord

Let me know what you think on twitter, or in the comments! 

S x

Book snatching?!

Hello, tis Wednesday guest blog time again! This time you are very lucky to be in the hands of my lovely Irish friend Aoife, blogger extraordinaire over at Pretty Purple Polka Dots and Twitterer to the max at @PrettyPPD (you should probably follow her, it’s a good idea kids). 
She’s going to talk to you all about the books on my shelves that she wants to get her hands on! 
Without further ado…
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Steph and I are in a vicious cycle where we recommend each other books and then probably never end up actually reading them. This time, it’s time to break the chain and actually read something she has.

I took a peek at Steph’s (well stocked) personal library and picked out five tomes I’d love to get my hands on. All I have to do is turn up at her place and demand them. Simple.

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Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick
 
I love Anna Kendrick  – she’s hilarious in Pitch Perfect, and when I found out she was releasing a book I knew I had to get my hands on it.
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Flawed – Cecelia Ahern
 
I love Cecelia’s more grown up work and I’d really love to give her YA fiction a go.

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The Graces – Laure Eve
This was read by my book club in Dublin and they all loved it. I missed the meeting because I was in Wales at the time doing an MA, so I think I have a little catching up to do.
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The Scarecrow trilogy – Melinda Salisbury

Steph has been singing the praises of this series for months, so I’m really tempted. This is one that’s going straight on my TBR.

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Silence is Goldfish – Annabel Pitcher
 
Cheating a little – Steph actually sent me this book a few months ago. 
 
Aoife

Pretty Purple Polka Dots
@PrettyPPD 
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Thank you so much Aoife! Consider these books on their way to you once they’ve been read! 
S x

BOOKBLOG: Julie Israel

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index: a gorgeous tale of love and memory

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“It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.
Then she finds the love letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to “You,” but never sent. Desperate to learn You’s identity and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.
Until she loses something. A card from her Happiness Index: a ritual started by sunny Camie for logging positives each day. It’s what’s been holding Juniper together since her death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own dark secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.
The search for You and her card take Juniper to even less expected places, and as she connects with those whose secrets she upturns in the effort, she may just find the means to make peace with her own.”

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index tells the tale of Juniper, a teenager struggling with losing her sister and trying to keep the memory of her sister alive. She finds a letter in her sister’s bag which is addressed to a mysterious “You” and Juniper makes it her mission to find out who “You” is and why her sister kept it a secret from her. Along the way Juniper thinks she’s losing some of the people who mean the most to her – her parents, her closest friends – and meets some incredible people who she needs as much as they need her – new friends, teachers who support her. Throughout you get Juniper’s take on the day through narrative and her index cards – she rates the day and talks about the positive and the negatives

I really, really loved this book. I devoured it in 2 days. It’s a brilliant story all about keeping the memory of someone you’ve lost without losing yourself in guilt and blame. Juniper had to learn how to fall in love with the present with part of her life missing. She has to learn that some things aren’t her fault, nor can she change them – this journey was so lovely. This book does a brilliant job telling the story of finding someone else’s lost love whilst honouring past memories and current friends and ultimately finding yourself. The mixture of loss, guilt, friendship, love, kissing, dumpster diving and acceptance was spot on for me. 

Juniper’s struggle with grief is one in which she throws herself at this project – to find “You” and to “save” he people around her. Her parents are struggling. The portrayal of her mam and dad’s grieving were touching. Seeing the change in them from the beginning of the book to the end was moving; it made me cry. Juniper starts the book with very few friends, but gains friends in the strangest of ways – she has good intentions but they end up biting her in the nose. She’s a loveable main character. I liked her straight away: she seemed honest and trust-worthy despite the fact she’s hiding a secret, despite the fact she’s living her life with blame and guilt hanging over her head. There’s the loveable rogue, Brand, who helps Juniper in more ways that she could ever have imagined. I really felt for Brand. He’s going through some things himself but helps. Juniper’s bunch of friends enrich this book, with her friend Lauren playing an exceptional role, much to mine and Juniper’s surprise.

Please, go out and get your hands on this book. It’s SO gorgeous. I loved it. Every second.

I was sent this by the gorgeous book fairies over at Puffin books, so thank you so much! 

Have you read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index?
What did you think?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter. I want to talk about this book with EVERYONE. It is such a great book!

S x

Favourite covers

A while back I was wondering about what makes a “good” cover of a book. What makes people want to pick up a book? Why do we choose certain covers over others? (I know, I know, we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but shush, we all do it. I am guilty of it to the highest extent. I will buy a book in its prettier cover… sue me). So I asked the lovely people on Twitter to help me out to see their responses and man did I get a good response. I posted this message:

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And I got an AWFUL lot of responses. I thought I’d share some of them with you (I couldn’t share them all, you’d be here forever!)

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I need this book in my life. LOOK AT IT.

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*heart eyes*

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Mikayla knows whats up. Good Queen Mel fan there, like me.

Some other favourites from the people. So much love. (click to make them bigger)

If you’d like to see the original tweet and all the responses then clickity, click, click. Thank you so much to everyone who did reply! 

From all of these, I think there is no answer to what makes a GOOD cover, as always it’s down to personal preference. Here are some of my faves…

pretty covers

I have read 7 of these, the other 3… I am DYING to read.

How about you? 
What makes a “good” cover to you?
What makes you want to pick up a book? 
Are you, like me, a fan of a beautiful cover on a book?

Let me know on twitter or in the comments, I’d love to see some more beautiful covers! I may do a MG version of this post too, because there are some GORGEOUS MG covers out there!

S x

BOOKBLOG: David Owen

The Fallen Children: haunting, supernatural and compelling

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“Young people on the Midwich Estate don’t have much hope for their futures. Keisha has lived there her whole life, and has been working hard to escape it; others have just accepted their lot. But change is coming…
One night everyone inside Midwich Tower falls mysteriously unconscious in one inexplicable ‘Nightout’. No one can explain what happened during those lost hours, but soon afterwards Keisha and three other girls find they’re pregnant – and the babies are growing at an alarming rate.
As the news spreads around the tower its residents turn against them and the situation spirals toward violence. Keisha’s life unravels as she realises that the pregnancy may not have just ruined her hopes for the future: she might be mother to the end of the world.”

The Fallen Children tells the story of a group of young women who one night end up falling pregnant by some strange alien creatures. Their block of flats and all the inhabitants are somehow all put to sleep by these aliens. The story continues with the tale of how they are suddenly thrust together, knowing how the others feel and what they all think, with these babies growing (at an alarming rate) inside of them. How their bodies change and react, to their babies being born and the impact it has on their lives, the relationships and their mental health. It’s supernatural, a bit dark and tells the tale of complicated families – from all different angles. 

I really liked a lot of the characters in this book. It’s told from many different perspectives which is one of the things I liked most about it. Lots of books tell the story from differing perspectives and get it wrong, this one gets it totally right. There are so many lives affected by these weird pregnancies that it was great to see how each of the characters reacted and what impact it had on each of them. As a collective their dynamic changed drastically from the beginning of the book to the way they interacted by the end. There’s a lovely mix of female characters who are thrown into the mix in this story: teenagers and adults. Their mix of family dynamics is particularly important – you see some very strict households, to some distant dads and sets of loving parents. 

This is certainly a book that I don’t think I’ve come across before and it’s one which I don’t think I’ll come across again. The other special thing about it is that there are 360 different cover colours (the temptation to want all 360 is there… but moneys) and there are even some “golden eggs” – which are white covers with golden eggs, instead of black with coloured eggs. My cover is 108, yay for purple and even number!

Go all of you. Read this. It’s great. 

Have you read The Fallen Children?
What did you think of it?
What colour and number do you have?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol). I would love to see other colours!

S x

Six for Sunday!

Welcome to Sunday! I don’t normally post on a Sunday but things are going to change, welcome to my new feature:

Six for Sunday

I’ll post 6 things I love/hate every Sunday and topics will vary – mainly bookish ones with wildcards (topics not about books!) coming once a month! I would love to see people joining in and posting their #sixforsunday on Twitter! If you fancy it then go for it!

This week’s Six for Sunday theme is:

Six things I love in a book

  1. When opposites attract.
  2. A brilliant, badass main character (female or male)
  3. A hot, male companion (think Jin in Rebel of the Sands)
  4. Letters found which reveal secrets or give the character a massive revelation
  5. Stories that feature incredible friendship groups 
  6. A “bad boy” with a heart of gold.

What are your favourite plot lines in books?
Who are your favourite characters in books?
What are your #SixforSunday?

Let me know on Twitter, use the hashtag #sixforsunday! Or leave me a comment – do you agree with mine? Or are they your LEAST favourite things?

Six you next Sunday!

S x

 

BOOKBLOG: Queen Mel

Hello, I’m Steph. I love Melinda Salisbury. Not in a creepy way. I think she’s absolutely wonderful. 

So when I heard The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy was over, I was most saddened. My love affair with this world and these characters had to come to and end after all of the years I had been in love with them. I was sad. Then SURPRISE there was an announcement that there was going to be a NEW short story collection released.

I WAS ELATED.

I love Mel’s writing style. She writes in such an incredible way that you feel you’re there. Her description is exceptional. I could just read it forever. 

There was ONE slight problem. The Heart Collector (which I think is Mel tbh. She has stolen all of our hearts with her exceptional books) was out in May. The month I was not buying any books. But, lol, who was I kidding? I would break my ban for her any day. So I did. PLUS it was released the day I handed my dissertation in… EXCELLENT POST DISSERTATION BOOK.

“A selection of three companion stories to the Sin Eater’s Daughter series.
When rats invade golden Tallith, the king summons a rat catcher from across the seas. But the rat catcher brings with him more than just his trade; a beautiful daughter who will bow to no man. And when Prince Aurek decides he wants her, he triggers a chain of events that will reshape the world for centuries to come…
A boy wakes up in the ruins of a castle, the prone body of a white-haired man on a bier beside him… He is the Bringer, the Heart Collector, cursed to return every one hundred years to seek out the heart that will wake his father forever. And this time the girl he finds might just be the one…
Once upon a time, in a land of gold and glory, a baby boy was born to a beautiful woman, and a wealthy man. His parents called him Mulgreen Grey, and he was destined to live a fairy-tale life; adored, envied, and wanting for nothing. But not every fairytale has a happy ever after…”

The book comes with 3 short stories – The King of Rats, The Heart Collector and Mully No-Hands. 

I consumed this book REALLY quickly (once my kindle was charged… it decided to die on me the first time I tried to read it!). Whether you’re a Melinda Salisbury fan or not, this short story collection is a BRILLIANTLY quick, yet exceptional read. You’re in a world where there are some BAD people. A beautifully written world, with loveable and despise-able characters.

The Heart Collector is a brilliant story about a young man who is cursed in that he has to find young women for his father, to try and satisfy his hunger. The young man is a Bringer. You’re introduced to a naive young man who thinks he’s doing the right thing in the beginning and then through the story you see his ideas change. There is an incredibly strong and brave young woman in the story too – I really liked her. The description in this book was everything I needed. The world, the characters and the action is so beautifully woven that it’s hard not to devour, much like the father in the story. This book has a brutal ending. But brilliant. 

Mully No-Hands is a little different from the other two. It’s a story with a meaning. It’s a story with a main character I really didn’t like. He’s a terrible person. I don’t think he KNOWS he’s a bad person. He’s rich, confident and was brought up to think he was the greatest and when all of that is taken away from him, you see his struggle. You see that life isn’t all about receiving – there has to be some give and take. Mully No-Hands has some questionable morals and his actions definitely need some working out. I quite enjoyed this – I like a story with a moral!

I have reviewed The King of Rats here: BOOK BLOG: The King of Rats.

I really enjoyed The Heart Collector. Whether you’re a Melinda Salisbury faithful, or whether you’re a newbie, I suggest you read this. It’s wonderful.

If you’re interested in my other posts:

BOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury

BOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury 2

BLOG TOUR: The Scarecrow Queen

Bookblog: Melinda Salisbury

So tell me, are you a Queen Mel faithful or a newbie? 
Did you enjoy The Heart Collector? 
Which short story was your favourite?

Let me know in the comments, or talk to me on twitter (@eenalol)

S x

May books!

So here we are, May is done and dusted. We’re almost half way through the year! And what a year so far it has been for books. 

May was a pretty good book month for me… somehow I managed to read 10 books! I think half term helped – so far in half term I’ve read 5 books and I’m in the middle of reading number 6 and number 7! But what were those 10 books I hear you cry?

IMG_4879(These are the only 5 I still have physical copies of, the rest I’ve either sent on to pastures new or they were kindle books)

  • The Fallen Children – David Owen
    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Supernatural. 
  • Noah Can’t Even – Simon James Green
    Some great, funny moments in it, properly ridiculous. But in a good way.
  • The Silver Boy – Kristina Ohlsson
    Loved it, great for KS2 kids. Mysterious and a bit creepy.
  • The Memory Book – Lara Avery 
    Bloody brilliant. It took me totally by surprise. I fell for this book totally.
  • Troublemakers – Catherine Barter
    Great book looking at politics and sibling relationships. I loved the characters in this so much.

may 2

  • The Heart Collector – Melinda Salisbury (ebook)
    What can I say? The Queen does it again. The Heart Collector filled the gap that TSED left behind.
  • How To Stop Time – Matt Haig (ebook)
    I loved this book from start to finish. It was unlike anything I’d read before.
  • I Have No Secrets – Penny Joelson
    I struggled with this initially and despised one of the characters, but there is a definite turning point in this book that then gripped me.
  • Tim Baker and the Ancient Curse – Stella Tarakson (ebook)
    This was a very quick read. Really funny and kids would love it!
  • All About Mia – Lisa Williamson
    Again this was one that I struggled with initially because the characters are not very likeable, but it’s so worth it in the end. 

If you’re interested in any of these books, here are some reviews:

I will update this list when the reviews are posted!

As you all know May was my month when I couldn’t buy any books (see: You MAY not buy any books) and you will all be proud to know that I only bought 1 book! Blame Melinda Salisbury. But it was so worth it. It was only about £1 so it doesn’t count, right? So yes, I succeeded in my no book buying ban. I’m going to try and keep it up until YALC, because well ALL OF THE BOOKS will be bought at YALC. 

Reading challenge update: 36/52 books read! 

Pretty good going! I’m hoping to get a good bit more reading done in this half term! 

What did you read in May?
Do you have a favourite May read?
Will you be at YALC?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter – I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been reading!

S x