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The Price by Kerry Kaya Blog Tour

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Hello, I'm really glad to today welcome you to my stop for the blog tour from The Price by Kerry Kaya. If you haven't been to my blog before, please do have a look around while you're here!

I enjoyed The Price - I liked the setting of gangland London and the rival gangs. Fletch and Spencer were excellent brothers and Billy King and his gang were genuinely menacing. I would recommend the book!

This is the description of the book:

For most of his life Fletch has looked out for his younger brother Spencer and he will do anything and everything he can to protect him. Together they work for notorious East End gangster Billy King. Across the water in South London is Billy’s rival George Bannerman and the two firms are locked in a bitter turf war.
Amid murder, drug deals, and rival firms, Fletch is harbouring his own secrets and it’s only a matter of time until those secrets are revealed, and when you break the rules you have to pay the price.  

Author Bio:

Kerry Kaya is a British gangland crime Author, born and raised on the outskirts of East London.
She is an avid reader and has a passion for books. From an early age she began writing stories, and in her later years those stories went on to become full length novels and novellas. 
Kerry lives with her partner and Daughter.
Twitter: @KerryKayaWriter

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren - Review

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Where did I get it? It was a present from my partner a few weeks ago. I'd had it recommended by my friend Janet and asked my partner for it for an occasion. He bought me a couple of other books too! It's difficult to buy me books as I have so many but I had asked for these. 

What's it about? It's about a boy called Tanner who lives in Provo, Utah, which is like 90% Mormon. He is from California originally, but his parents moved the family to Utah a couple of years ago for his mom's job (she's a programmer). Tanner is bisexual and out to his family. However, their move to Utah meant that he had to stay closeted and not be out to anyone there, not even his best friend Autumn. He's about to start his last semester of high school, and Autumn dares him to take The Seminar, which is a class where each student writes a whole book in one semester. Last year, a boy called Sebastian took the class and sold his book, which is about to be published. 

And this year he's back to work as a mentor for the class. He's Mormon, the son of a bishop (which is like being a pastor or vicar). Tanner is not Mormon, or religious at all. His dad is Jewish, but pretty agnostic. His mum is ex-Mormon - she was raised in a Mormon family in California but left when her sister came out as a teenager and was cut off from the family. She's pretty antagonistic towards the LDS church (which I'm not criticising her for at all!). 

Tanner and Sebastian meet in Tanner's class and Tanner falls instantly in love. The two start to meet up to work on Tanner's book, and start a romantic relationship. Tanner's book, though, is all about Sebastian, so he can't turn it in without outing Sebastian. Tanner's parents are less than thrilled that the two are seeing each other, and stop them from being in Tanner's house. Clearly Sebastian's parents don't know. Autumn doesn't know. The two end up hiking the mountain in Provo a lot to make out there. 

I can't really talk about this book without giving my criticisms here. First of all, this book did not grip me for the first half at all. It took me three days to read the first half because I found it quite boring. There's no emotional connection between the two boys. Tanner falls in love instantly, but there's no compelling reason why. There's a LOT of chat between Tanner and his parents, but it's so saccharine my teeth hurt. They're supposedly so supportive, but then they're not allowing him to be his own self by being out? Why not support him to be out, even if only to a couple of close friends? And stand up for him? I dunno. 

What else? Well there's a few plot points that don't go anywhere. At one point, two girls possibly overhear Tanner talking about his relationship with Sebastian, and Tanner spends quite a bit of time fretting about it, but then literally nothing happens? Then there's a whole thing about prom, and whether Tanner and Autumn will go together, but then it's not mentioned ever again - not even whether they go or not. There are a lot of people mentioned, lots of friends and classmates of Tanner, but he speaks to literally none of them throughout the book. I swear one classmate started off as a boy and ended as a girl. Tanner is supposedly good friends with boys called Manny and Eric, but there's no on-page interaction between Tanner and Eric. There's just so much Sebastian! All the time! And thinking about Sebastian! All the time! 

Then there's the fact Autumn is in love with Tanner and he knows this, and he uses that as one reason to not tell her he's bi, which didn't overly make sense to me, but okay. There's a bit where she's trying on prom dresses - in a majority Mormon town, so you would think dresses would be all "modest" - and he kind of shames her for how much skin there's showing. Then there's a really ridiculous thing that happens between them, which -- I understood what happened, and why, and unlike some reviewers, I'm not criticising that. However, the reactions afterwards baffled me. Autumn apologises when she has no need to, and Tanner is kind of a dick about it to her. 

THEN there's stuff where, while Sebastian is struggling with his sexuality and what label to give it, which is totally fine and legit, but while he's doing that, he's rude to Tanner about being bisexual. He seems baffled that Tanner has been with girls, and I didn't like that at all. 

The whole book has quite a fanfic feel to it, which concentrates on the emo drama of falling in love with someone, and has a lot of ~deep~ conversations between characters, but little else. I didn't hate it - I like fanfiction and it can be done really well, of course. But I think if we're reading fanfic we forgive a lot more, and we already know the characters and probably already have an emotional connection to them. I didn't here, and I felt like the book suffered because of it. Tanner is pretty frustrating all the way through.

I did feel like the book gave a good depiction of Mormons and Mormon culture. It must be weird living as a non-religious person in such a religious culture, and I felt like that was well done. Everyone had a story there, and I liked how Sebastian struggled. He kept saying that he didn't feel like he was doing anything wrong, which I liked. 

I started off disliking the book, then liked the second half a lot, then read a few reviews the day after I finished and thought, oh yeah, that's a valid point. So I think it's a bit of a Marmite book. It has its good points, and it is cute and fanficcy, but it has a lot of bad points too. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Obviously. Like I say, I didn't think the stuff around bisexuality was done very well. 

Are any main characters people of colour? No. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it's a little graphic. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? No I don't think so

Are there swear words? Maybe a couple. 

What criticisms do I have? See the many paragraphs above! 

Would I recommend the book? Maybe as a quick read yeah. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I just wanted to get to it. 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute, it shows you the autobiography part and it shows you the two boys hiking the mountain, too. 

What other books is it like? I thought it was similar to Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

How many stars? Three out of five

Where is the book going now? I'll pass it on to someone who might love it more, I think!

Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest by Susan Brownrigg - Review

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A few weeks ago I got an email from one of the people at UCLAN Publishing, who are the people behind Northern YA Lit Fest. As the festival wasn't able to happen this year, UCLAN decided to let attendees read a couple of their books on Netgalley. They're very generous at the festival in giving away a couple of proofs per person, so they thought this was a good way to do that in the current situation. I liked the sound of this middle grade book, so downloaded it. And I was right to, it's a cute book!

It's set in Blackpool in the mid 1930s, right about the time when the Illuminations are switched on. Gracie and her brother George and their Ma have just moved to Blackpool, from elsewhere in Lancashire, in order to be the new owners of The Majestic hotel. It's somewhere that their mother spent a lot of time as a kid and she's thrilled to be the new landlady.

They've only just arrived when they discover that two of the guests aren't who they say they are. A couple of things go missing, and then Ma disappears! Gracie and George are obviously eager to find her, along with the help of the maid, Phyllis. What happens next are capers around Blackpool as they try to uncover what has happened to Ma. They meet two new friends, Violet and Tom, who help them too.

I thought that the mystery was quite cute and made sense. I liked Gracie. She was born without her left arm below the elbow, and she suffers from people looking at her oddly and wanting to know what happened to her. She's fourteen, meaning she's on the end of middle grade, and she's just left school and is heading to work. But maybe because of the time period, she skews a bit younger. I did like her though. George is a typical annoying younger brother; I thought he was a good character. I liked Violet and Tom and was glad they became friends. I loved Phyllis, too! She was a good older 'mentor' character without being too adult about things.

I loved the setting of Blackpool. I've only been a couple of times but could perfectly imagine the Pleasure Beach, the Tower, and the seaside rides. I liked the northern feel to the book and the lovely seaside bits like when they stop for chips at one point.

I thought the book was a strong debut, but not perfect in its execution. I would definitely recommend it as a middle grade book, though. I'm giving it 3.5 out of five.

Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest will be published on 2nd July 2020 by UCLan Publishing. I was given a free electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review, but was not otherwise compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M McManus - Review

Friday, May 22, 2020

Where did I get it? I got it recently. But I can't remember where! Did someone buy it for me? I'm not sure. But it's been by the side of my bed for ages and I've been meaning to read it because I liked One Of Us Is Lying so much. This isn't a sequel to that book, it's a total standalone. The sequel is called One Of Us Is Next. It confused me and I'm not the only one. But yes, this is a standalone. 

What's it about? At the beginning of the books twins Ellery and Ezra are leaving their home in California to live with their Nana in Echo Ridge, New York, which is right up near the Canadian border. Their mother, Sadie, who is somewhat of a failed actress, has had to go into rehab after she crashed a car into a shop while high on prescription drugs. The twins aren't close to their Nana, but have nowhere else to go. 

Echo Ridge has a lot of history - in 1996, Sadie's twin Sarah went missing on her way home from the library and was never found. This had a massive impact onf Sadie's life, obviously, and is part of the reason she left the town. Five years ago, in 2013 ish, a girl called Lacey was killed. She was found strangled in the local theme park, Murderland. Her boyfriend, Declan, was heavily suspected to be involved, but nothing could ever be proven. He eventually left the town, and his mum and brother still live with the effects of what happened to Declan and the family. 

The book is told from two points of view - Ellery, and Malcolm, who is Declan's brother. As Ellery and Ezra arrive, a science teacher is found dead, the victim of a hit and run. Then, at a fundraiser in Lacey's name, some graffiti is found, hinting that there will be more murders. That's where Ellery and Malcolm meet. 

At school, the twin become friendly with Malcolm and his friend Mia, whose sister Daisy is back in town after years away. Declan is around too, meaning lots of people are under suspicion as graffiti and other vandalism is ramped up. 

Malcolm's mum is now married to Peter Nilsson, a big shot in the town, and Malcolm has a stepsister, Katrin, who is a shoe in for homecoming queen at the beginning of October. Ellery and Ezra get jobs at Murderland, now renamed Fright Farm. Ellery is obsessed with true crime and wants to get to the bottom of what happened to Sarah, who her mum and Nana barely talk about, as well as what happened to Lacey. 

There's loads of red herrings in the book, some of which I caught and some of which I didn't. There were a couple that I felt required further explanation (like some of Sadie's dodgy behaviour, but maybe that's just who she is as a person) but there were no unravelled knots by the end of the book which I appreciate. I really enjoyed the book. I LOVED both Ellery and Malcolm and their friendship as it developed. I thought the ending was slightly rushed, and would have liked a little bit more explanation at the end, but I wasn't unhappy with it. Karen M McManus is a very skilled writer, and I'm really happy she's using her skills in YA as I think it showcases it really well. Her crime narratives are believable, but her books have so much heart. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yeah, but it's not often mentioned - I would have liked slightly more on this, if I'm honest. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Mia is Korean, and it is mentioned a couple of times that her family is one of the only minorities in town. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really. 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, there's mention of Sadie's addiction to prescription painkillers. It's not graphic, and it's well done. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, but it's not graphic. 

Are there swear words? Yes! I actually loved this. Quite often Declan is the one swearing, which gives insight into his characters. 

What criticisms do I have? Apart from my brief criticisms above, I would have liked a bit more of Ezra in it. I liked him and I would have liked to get to know him better. I would read a whole book about him, honestly 

Would I recommend the book? Yes one hundred percent. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Because I've been meaning to. 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute, it does look like One Of Us Is Lying which may lead to confusion over whether it's a sequel or not, but I guess I get it from a marketing point of view. 

What other books is it like? One Of Us Is Lying. 

How many stars? Four out of five. 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'll definitely keep this!

Gears for Queers by Abigail Melton and Lilith Cooper - Review

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

I have to make the full disclosure to begin with that I know Abi and Lilith, a little. I've read their zines and we've met at a couple of zine fairs and follow each other on Twitter and so on. I knew that they had done a long cycle tour through Europe and then I saw that they were writing a book about their experiences and wanted to read it. When I saw this on Netgalley I immediately requested it, and was really pleased to get approved. My thanks go to Sandstone Press for the opportunity to read it. I was given an electronic copy of the book for review purposes, but was not otherwise compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

So two things you may not know about me are that I like cycling and camping. Not that I do much of either, really, but I like people who do and I like reading about them. I have a very lovely bike which unfortunately needs some work doing on it to make it rideable, but I do love the cycling I managed to do a few years ago. I also really love camping. After a childhood spent in caravans, I didn't think I liked camping and then in 2014 I got to love it and got my partner to like it too. We have a gorgeous tent and like to go away a few weekends a year. I really want to do a driving tour through Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands (although who knows when that will be feasible ever again). So even if I didn't know Abi and Lilith, I would probably still have been interested in a book where two people cycled through a lot of Europe, camping along the way.

They are a queer couple who at the time that they set off in August 2017 were living in Cambridge. Abi is from East Anglia and commented at the beginning of the book that the Netherlands were a lot like East Anglia in terms of flatness and so on. They got a ferry to the Hook of Hollan and set off cycling. They went through Germany, Switzerland, France, and finally into Spain. They cycled around 2000km, camped most nights, but used hostels or hotels when needed.

Each of them takes it in turns to narrate chapters of their journey. There's a lot in the book about navigating their way both literally and metaphorically. There's a lot about being a queer couple and deciding when and where it was safe enough to be visibly such. There's a lot about being "real" cycle tourers and how each of them felt about whether they fitted or not, about whether they were doing it right. Abi (pronouns she/her) is plus size, and talks a lot about her changing body and how that feels - stuff that I could really relate to and liked reading about. Lilith (pronouns they/them) has had mental health problems and talked a lot about how the cycle tour pushed their limits. I suffer from anxiety myself and could understand how Lilith felt. I felt like a lot of the book was relatable, even if you've never done a huge tour like this.

There's also a lot of description of the countries the two were travelling through. I've never been to Holland so loved the descriptions of it. I've been to the very west of Germany so could understand what that would look like. I liked the descriptions of the Swiss lakes. I have been to Strasbourg so enjoyed that part. But my very favourite was once they crossed from Switzerland into France and began the journey south to the Pyrenees. I love that part of France and could really picture the routes they took and the campsites they stayed at. I loved those bits.

There's lots of lovely bits to the book, and loads of bits where I really wanted to know what happened next. I would really recommend the book, and am giving it five out of five. It will be released on June the 4th.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks - Review

Friday, May 15, 2020

My friend Lucinda bought me this book for my birthday and I knew I needed to get to it soon because I am still trying so hard to get through the books I got at gifts. I love Rainbow's books and was intrigued to read this, as it's a graphic novel. I don't read many graphic novels although I appreciate a lot of work and talent goes into them. I picked this up mid April just because it was still hanging out round the side of my bed!

The premise is that Josiah and Deja are both workers are a pumpkin patch in the United States, and have been for the last few years. However, they're now both seniors, so this is their last season there. Plus it's the last night! After this, it's the end! 

Deja is determined to make tonight different. The two of them usually work in the succotash hut (I had to look up what that was) but tonight everything's a bit switched around. Josiah has had a crush on a girl who works in the Fudge Shoppe for years, and Deja is encouraging him to go for it, to talk to her and ask her out, before it's too late forever. 

The two of them then go on capers around the whole park to try to find her. Deja is determined to try every kind of snack food there is available while they're running around everywhere. They bump into two of Deja's exes, one male and one female, and go on quite a wild goose chase to try to find the girl. 

I loved the ending - it was perfect, and very sweet. I loved the art, too. Deja is brown skinned and chubby, so I loved her look a lot. I loved the whole kind of brown and orange theme going on - it added to the autumn theme of the book. I'm not knowledgeable about graphic novel art, but I liked this a lot.

I'm giving this five out of five - it's a very cute story, with a lovely ending. 

Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson - Review

Monday, May 11, 2020

Where did I get it? I think I said previously that I bought a few books from Round Table Books that were on the Carnegie longlist, and this was one of them. I haven't actually read any of Lisa's other books before, although I own The Art of Being Normal and it's even signed as I've met Lisa a couple of times. I've just never got around to reading it, but now I think I might do! I have read Floored, which Lisa was one of the contributing authors of. 

What's it about? Ro Snow is fourteen and lives with her mum, Bonnie. The two of them aren't close. Bonnie is a compulsive hoarder and the house is a mess. Ro can't have a bath because there's stuff in it, she can't remember the colour of the carpet in the hallway, and she lives in constant fear of Bonnie dying under a mountain of stuff. She also lives in fear of Social Services being told about the neglect she's suffering, so she very much keeps herself to herself. Bonnie is a singer but often overspends as part of her hoarding, and the two of them don't have a lot of spare money. 

Ro's dad is around, Ro sees him once a month. He lives with his wife Melanie and her daughter Izzy, who he regards as his own daughter. He's not very caring towards Ro and seems content with his perfect life and new family. Ro keeps her room locked, and perfectly clean, and doesn't have any friends.

Then some new people move in next door, and Ro gets friendly with new boy Noah. He's at boarding school, though, so she doesn't see a lot of him. She's just starting Year 10 and there's a new girl in her class, Tanvi. Well, she's not exactly new, she's been ill and is back at school after recovering from cancer. She and Ro get seated together and she is determined to crack Ro's high walls and be friends with her. Tanvi is adorable, I really liked her. She pushes Ro and I loved how their friendship grew. 

I loved Ro. I felt sorry for her, and I understood why she was like she was, but I also found her brave, and plucky, and in need of a hug. I thought both her parents were awful, but I also thought Bonnie was a good character. Hoarding compulsively is a serious mental illness and I thought that was well put across in the book. This is an excellent YA book. There are so many teenagers who fly under the radar when they really shouldn't, for whatever reason, and this book shone a spotlight upon a story that readers might identify with. 

What age range is it for? Ro is fourteen, so I'm going to say from there. It is in parts a difficult book to read. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? Tanvi is Hindu - this is a lovely part of the book and I really liked her and her family. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Bonnie obviously has mental health problems. It's written really well and I felt sorry for her while I also felt really sorry for Ro. I think Ro understands that her mother is ill even while she is angry and frustrated with her - a condition that I understand a lot from my own life. 

Is there any sex stuff? Not at all. 

Are drugs mentioned or used?  No 

Is there any talk of death? A little bit, it is a tiny bit graphic but it's really small. 

Are there swear words? No 

What criticisms do I have? I have really few, so really I'm just nitpicking, but at times I thought Ro read as older than fourteen going on fifteen. This could be partly because of everything she's been through, but I'm not sure. But then there's a bit where she's arguing with someone, and it was so perfectly like a fourteen year old that I thought it was amazing. 

I was also confused about where exactly it was set. It's set in a fictional place called Ostborough, and Ro goes to Birmingham and then to London, in a way that makes it seem like Birmingham is closer to her home. But I would have liked a little bit more clarity on that. 

I would have also liked a little bit more description about what the house looked like so that I could picture it better. It's supposed to look awful from the outside, but I didn't quite understand why. I would have liked a bit more there - was there stuff in the garden or was it just a general air of neglect?

But I am just being picky because in all I really enjoyed this book. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. I told a friend of mine who is a teacher and who works with kids who are in need of extra support that she should read it immediately. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Because I'm determined to read all these Carnegie books as soon as I can! 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute, I like the blue and yellow. It fits with Lisa's other books (although the copy of the book I have is a different - hardback - one)

What other books is it like? Oooh gosh. It reminded me of something by Sarah Crossan, although it's in prose not poetry. 

How many stars? Five out of five. I loved it. I couldn't stop reading it. Stephanie from A Little But A Lot has started a new YA chat on Sunday evenings on Twitter which I'm always late for, but she recently asked about why we give five star ratings. It made me think, because sometimes, I'm not sure whether to give a four or a five. They're both ratings that mean I've really enjoyed the book, so what makes a book jump to five from four? Often, it's just about feelings. If a book has made me really feel something, then I'll give it a five. And this made me feel a lot of things. 

Where is the book going now? I'll definitely keep it! 

Until the War is Over by Rosemary Goodacre - Blog Tour

Friday, May 8, 2020

Hello! I'm thrilled to welcome you all to my blog today for the blog tour for Until the War is Over by Rosemary Goodacre. If you've never been here before please do have a look around. I review all kinds of books!

I liked the sound of this book so eagerly signed up for the tour. I liked the book, I liked both Amy and Edmond and thought that I understood what they had both been through in the war. I liked how Amy didn't really fit in with Edmond's family but tried her hardest to. I liked her friends and family. 

Edmond was harder to like, but I did like how he felt having being invalided out of the war. I liked other characters and their positions on the war too. It's interesting because it's not about the war itself per se - not the front lines - but about those people left behind to cope. I love looking at that side of things, especially when we, the readers, can look back and understand the historical significance of things when people living in the middle of them can't.

This is the premise:

In a world destroyed by war, can hope survive?
Summer 1918: Young couple Amy and Edmond Derwent, after their experiences on the front line of battle – Edmond as an officer and Amy as a VAD in France - have now settled back in England and are starting to build a life as a family, with the arrival of baby Beth bringing them much-needed joy. But while she may have married into the wealthy Derwent family, now living with her in-laws in their grand home, Amy’s modest upbringing means that she is never truly accepted by Edmond’s family.
The Great War rages on, and while the men are off fighting, those left at home steel themselves for tragic news, praying that their loved ones return safely.
Edmond, still struggling with the effects of the injury he sustained at Ypres, feels the guilt of remaining at home while his friends are sent into battle. But life at Larchbury is not without its own problems – as food becomes scarce, and the Spanish Influenza causes deaths throughout England, tragedy strikes closer to home and it seems no one is safe from heartbreak.
Can Amy and Edmond keep their love strong, even in a world crumbling all around them?
A captivating family saga set in WW1 about the power of love amongst the heartbreak of war – if you like Rosie Goodwin, Katie Flynn and Val Wood, you’ll be swept away by this engrossing, emotional novel.

And this is the author's bio:

Rosemary Goodacre is thrilled to have a three book deal with Hera Books. Her World War I romance Until We Meet Again was published on 31/10/19.
Previously Rosemary has had a novella published, entitled A Fortnight is not Enough, and a science fiction story in the anthology Telescoping Time.
Rosemary has always loved languages and travel, mainly in Europe. In her spare time she enjoys country walking, bridge and classical music. She lives in Kent, England.
Twitter: @RoseGoodacre

Missing by A D Hay - Blog Tour

Monday, May 4, 2020

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Missing by A D Hay! If you haven't been to my blog before please do click on the main page and have a look around! I read a lot of YA but also a lot of crime and thriller fiction too.

This blog tour is about the book Missing, which is a novella in a series about the same journalist, James Lalonde, who is French but working in England. In this book he is the editor of a newspaper in Northampton. He's a total workaholic so his girlfriend, Valentine, leaves him. He assumes she's gone back to Paris. He goes to cover one of her interviews, where she was due to interview Elizabeth, an archaeologist at a museum of Anthropology. However, when he gets there, Elizabeth has been arrested as her assistant Pippa was found murdered in Elizabeth's apartment that morning. Elizabeth can't remember what happened, but Pippa is dead and there was a very valuable sword taken from Elizabeth's flat.

James starts to try to unravel what happened, while trying to avoid the people who took the sword...

This is a short novella and I felt like it suffered in parts because of that - there wasn't enough exposition for me. I liked the mystery and the tinge of archaeology, and liked James enough to care what happened to him.

This is the official blurb:

Excalibur is missing, a killer is on the loose, and his career is on the line...

James has a nose for trouble. But that's nothing new.

This time, things are different...

...his life is on the line.

James is the chief editor of a small newspaper. It's hardly captivating work. He's bored. But all of that is about to change.

Late one evening, he returns home to discover his long-time girlfriend and journalist, Valentine has left. Early the next morning, James fails to reallocate her assigned story. To avoid blank space in the culture section, and loosing his job, he decides to write the story on the local museums lastest acquisition, Excalibur.

But, there's one thing he didn't count on...

....Excalibur is missing, and a dead body is at the crime scene.

As his investigations commence, James attempts to unravel a tangled web of betrayal, kidnapping, and murder. But, his fact-finding hasn't gone unrecognised. The wrong people have started to notice. And there will be consequences...dire consequences.

You'll love this gripping cloak and dagger mystery because of the twists, turns, and ending you'll never guess.

Missing is the first book in a reporter thriller series. Get it now.

Author Bio:

A.D. Hay is a passionate bibliophile and can usually be found reading a book, and that book will most likely be a thriller. She is the author of Missing, the first book in a thriller series. When not absorbed in a gripping page-turner or writing, she loves to travel, drink tea, rosé, and eat pizza. 
Goodreads Author Page:

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta - Review

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Where did I get it? Round Table Books, which is a place I would really like to visit one of these days. Before lockdown started properly, they were offering to post books that you ordered with them, so I ordered three of the Carnegie longlist as I'm determined to read most of the list this year. I desperately wanted to read The Black Flamingo - I've heard so many amazing things about it and my friend Lucinda said it was the best book she read last year. I was going to buy it at Northern YA Lit Fest as Dean was going to be there and I could have got it signed, but that was of course cancelled. So I ordered the book from an independent bookshop - when this is all over, they're going to need our help more than ever. I DMed them and they couldn't have been more helpful. I'm not sure if they're still able to take orders, but do ask them if you're after something, they can only say no!

What's it about? It's about Michael, who is gay and mixed race. His mum is Greek-Cypriot and his dad is Jamaican, although he's not in Michael's life for very long. The book is told in verse and takes place over twelve years of Michael's life. At the beginning he's a kid who wants a Barbie for Christmas and by the end he's at uni, about to make a debut performance as the Black Flamingo. In the middle Michael comes out, struggles at school, struggles with his identity both in terms of sexuality and race, and the intersection where those identities meet. This sounds like a rubbish write up because really it's like the whole entirety of a life from child to adult. It's expansive, and told in really gorgeous verse. Dean is a poet and it really shows. I've heard that the audibook is read by Dean and I would love to listen to this to hear how it was supposed to be. 

I'm not much of a poet or a poetry critic, but there were some really interesting choices in the words, and in where lines cut off, which added to the poems and to my understanding. There are also some social media parts, chats between Michael and his friends. 

I read the last half of the book in just about an hour because I was so desperate to know where it ended. I loved Michael, I thought he was a great character, and I liked his mum and best friend Daisy too. 

What age range is it for? You know, I'm going to say from aged about fourteen right up to adult. This doesn't feel like just a YA book to me - it's so expansive that it deserves to be really widely read. If you're a queer adult I would recommend this. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, obviously. Michael seems to know he's gay from quite a young age, but still struggles with self-acceptance and acceptance from those around him. There are people with other genders and sexualities too, and I thought how Michael interacted with these people was really nicely portrayed. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Obviously. Michael doesn't have a relationship with his father, but has somewhat of a relationship with his dad's Jamaican family. When he first goes to university, he cooks Caribbean food. He has a younger sister, Anna, whose dad is also Jamaican. The family also goes to Cyprus to see his mum's family - this was one of my favourite parts of the book actually! I liked how Michael felt as a multi-ethnic person and how conflicting he found it at times to know where he fitted in. I liked the people he was friends with - Lennie is really underrated in this book I felt! - and how some of the racism Michael encountered was shown. It felt very real and brilliantly shown. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No I don't think so. 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, a little. It's not graphic and there's safe sex which I am always in favour of seeing in a YA book. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Weed, it's not graphic. 

Is there any talk of death? No. 

Are there swear words? A couple, not many 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none! I loved the book - everyone else was right when they said this is a must read book. I do wish we'd seen more of Anna as she grew up, but that was literally it. 

Would I recommend the book? God yes. I can't wait to see what Dean writes next! 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? It arrived and I was just so desperate to get to it. 

What do I think of the cover? It's gorgeous. It's so eye-catching and enticing. It's definitely a big part of the book. 

I should also mention that the illustrator for the book was Anshika Khullar. The book has illustrations and also pages that are black with white writing, and I like Anshika did so well in adding to the content of the book with their illustrations. It almost reads a bit more like a graphic novel because of the illustrations, and I LOVED it even more because of that. It is a really gorgeous book in tactile turns, and I am glad!

What other books is it like? I found it quite similar to The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. 

How many stars? Five out of five! Seven out of five! 

Where is the book going now? Oh, I'm keeping it. I'm still hoping I'll meet Dean somewhere!

Hackney Central by Michael K Foster - Blog Tour

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Hello! Welcome to my blog for my stop on the tour for Hackney Central by Michael K Foster. If you've never been here before please do click around to read more of my reviews!

Here's the description of the book: 

Gripped by gang wars, London’s East End is plunged into an endless reign of terror. . .
Walk these streets at your peril!
When newly appointed Detective Sergeant Jack Mason steps through the doors of Hackney Central Police Station, he is tasked with his biggest nightmare. A pensioner lies dead, his flat has been ransacked, and no one is willing to talk.
But why pick on a vulnerable old man?
No stranger to London’s East End, Mason is under no illusion that the chance of finding the killer is slim. Gripped by notorious drug gangs, knife crime runs rife, and nowhere appears safe.
With time rapidly running out, it soon becomes clear that he’s dealing with a version of justice terrifyingly different to his own. . .
You’ll be hooked from the start by this gripping crime thriller. There’s tension, suspense, and a plot full of twists and turns. Why not find out more about Jack Mason’s early career, and order your copy today.

And here's the author bio:

Michael K Foster has been writing crime thriller novels since 2006, all of them based in and around the North East of England. His bestselling debut novel, ‘The Wharf Butcher’, was released in 2015 and offers a unique insight into this rugged landscape. He has now written six full-length novels featuring the hard-hitting DCI Jack Mason and local criminal profiler David Carlisle. His latest book in the series, ‘Hackney Central', is scheduled for release on 23rd April 2020.
Michael was born in Plymouth, England. After ten years’ service in the British Army, he moved to Newcastle where he gained an MBA degree from Sunderland University. A former Magistrate, he now writes full time and lives with his wife Pauline in County Durham.

I haven't read any other books by Foster, but I was intrigued by this standalone novella which introduced his main characters Jack Mason and David Carlisle. I liked the premise of the East End setting and it does stand up in the book - it's full of estates, petty crime, hardened criminals. 

The book starts when an elderly man has been beaten up and left for dead in his flat on the tenth floor of a high rise block. Some of his posessions have been taken, including a gold watch, but it doesn't look like mere burglary. The attack seems professional and pre-planned - the attacker wore gloves and left very little trace of himself. 

Mason becomes sure that if they can find the watch, they'll find who attacked the elderly man. But on the estate, no one's talking. Two different young men control the north side and the south side respectively, and they even come together to try to keep the police out of their business. 

Mason also has a baby on the way, so his mind is kind of elsewhere for a lot of the book. I liked him, but I didn't find him a 'hard-hitting' detective. Maybe he gets to be that way later in his career, but he just comes across as quite nice and a bit naive in this book. I liked the story, but found some parts written a bit oddly. Some of the speech jarred a bit, too, but in all I thought Jack Mason was an interesting character. 

The Grandpa Killer by Dan Petrosini - Blog Tour and Review

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Welcome to my blog for my stop on the tour for The Grandpa Killer by Dan Petrosini. I am really thrilled to welcome you to my blog! If you're new here, please do have a click around to see what else I review mostly Young Adult fiction and crime fiction. 

The premise of the book appealed to me, so I signed up to the blog tour. Detective Luca lives in Florida with his wife Mary Ann (also a cop) and their daughter Jessica. Luca is looking at a spate of burglaries in the area when he hears that his friend's dad has died. Although elderly, he was in god health and the death was unexpected. His son mentions to Luca that another elderly man has died recently in the same facility that his dad died in, and that there was some financial arrangement that means the facility has made money out of both men dying early. Luca isn't sure if there's a case to be answered, but goes to his boss with it anyway. His boss orders an exhumation, and it turns out there is definitely a case... Luca goes to Palm Shores, the high end facility both men lived in, and starts asking questions. 

If anything, I felt like the book wasn't expanded enough. There's a lot of parts which are just speech, and it's sometimes hard to follow as to who is speaking. There needed to be some bits of self-reflection and connections too, but overall this didn't detract from the story and I quite liked the mystery. 

Here's the blurb:

Two eighty-year old victims…
…had roofies in their system.
Why would someone give the victims a date-rape drug?
Luca has heard the rumors and now there’s an official complaint. A high-end assisted-living community’s ownership has been accused of abuse. It seems like a straightforward matter to investigate, but is there something more sinister going on?
Is this about euthanasia or greed?
Luca thinks there may be a third option.
With a plate full of burglary investigations, one of which, led to the victims being pistol-whipped, Luca is swamped. Will he be able to unravel the clues and get to the truth?
His gut says there’s a connection…
…but who is behind it?
Is it only about a payday?
You’ll love this next installment in the Luca Mystery series, because of hard-nosed, relentless, detective work and his mind for unraveling the lies and deception.
Get it now.

Author Bio:

Dan wrote his first story at age ten and is still at it.  Married, with two daughters and a needy Maltese, Dan lives in Southwest Florida. A New York City native, Dan teaches at local colleges, writes novels, and plays tenor saxophone in several jazz bands. He also drinks way too much wine.
Dan has his own view of the world and culture, or lack thereof. He passionately believes people can realize their dreams if they focus and act, and he encourages just that.
His favorite saying is – ‘The price of discipline is always less than the cost of regret’
Dan also reminds people to get negativity out of their lives. He feels it is contagious and advises people to steer clear of negative people.
Dan has written over fifteen novels and has an active blog at


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