BLOG TOUR: Firelines by Cara Thurlbourn Spotlight

Hello everybody!

Today I’m part of the blog tour for Firelines by Cara Thurlbourn, and I’m going to be giving you some information about the book and Cara herself.

Let’s get started!

SYNOPSIS
WHEN YOUR BLOOD LINE AWAKENS, HOW DO YOU CHOOSE BETWEEN FAMILY AND FREEDOM?
Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.
 
Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old.

Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. 

She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities.

Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings.

You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: http://www.firelines.co.uk

BOOK INFO

Release Date: 26th September 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Bewick Press

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35581157-fire-lines 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fire-Lines-Cara-Thurlbourn-ebook/dp/B075FTR12K

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear what you thought of this book in the comments!

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx

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August Reviews

Hi everybody!

It`s September! Can you believe it? Today I`m planning to share my reviews of (almost) all of the books I read in August. I enjoyed every single book I read this month enough to review it (yay for fab books!) but I took part in a readathon over the past week and I haven’t quite had to catch up on reviews for the books I read during it yet, thanks to pesky homework . I read some amazing books though, so I`m super excited to include them in my September wrap up next month!

Let`s get started with the reviews!


The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

I had been excited about this book from the moment it was announced on Twitter, so I couldn`t have been more thrilled when I won a giveaway so I picked up the book almost right after it came through my door. It more than lived up to my expectations! While I hadn`t expected the US setting I still liked it, and the book tackles the timely issues of slut shaming and feminism, and also their link to the Internet/social media. I don`t want to say too much about the plot as I didn`t know exactly what it would be like when I went in and I think it made my reading experience even more enjoyable. Izzy is one of the best narrators I think I have ever read; she manages to be witty, irreverent and relatable and I absolutely loved her as a character.  I also really liked the other main characters such as Izzy`s gran Betty, best friend Ajita and love interest Carson (I`m especially hoping to see more of Carson in the sequel, which I`m already incredibly excited for!). Finally, this book manages to be hilarious and touching in equal measures and also made me fuming with society at some points. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially for fans of Moxie and the Spinster Club books. 5/5

Gaslight by Eloise Wiliams (received from Firefly Press in exchange for an honest review)

In her 2nd novel, Eloise Williams tells the story of Nansi, a young girl who works in a sinister, shady theatre/circus and is searching for her mother who she hasn`t seen since she was very young. I initially struggled to get into Gaslight as it`s quite slow paced until just over halfway through, but I did like the immersive descriptive writing as it allowed me to build a picture of the setting in my mind. I liked Nansi a lot as a narrator, mainly because of her unique `style` with the imagery, but I also sympathised with her and her situation hugely. Even though I did have a few issues with the pacing and also the book being very different in both plot and tone to what I`d thought when reading the blurb, I still enjoyed this and I think you would love it if you enjoy gothic books. 3.5/5

Simply the Quest by Maz Evans

Much to my surprise, Simply the Quest not only managed to match Who Let the Gods Out in quality, but was even better. In this book, Maz Evans continues the story of Elliot Hooper, who is having to deal with his mum`s dementia, learning more about his dad and why he hasn`t been part of his life (so far) and also living with several of the Greek Gods and Zodiac sign Virgo. The book manages to have phenomenal humour throughout (it was even funnier than book 1, and I feel like there`s a superb mix of humour for younger and older readers to enjoy). The characters, especially the gods, form a huge part of this as they`re such zany, cool characters and it was brilliant to get to know more about the gods we already know such as Zeus and Hermes, and meeting others like Hades and Persephone for the first time (I wasn`t a big fan of Hermes in book one, but I adore him now!). Maz Evans is also excellent at writing her villains. Even though they make me laugh, I`m still terrified of them (especially Nyx and Patricia Porshley-Plum). However, the book was extremely poignant in places too, and I found myself in tears during some scenes. Elliot`s relationship with his mum Josie is particularly heartbreaking. This is a perfectly plotted and paced mythical adventure which I seriously can`t imagine someone not adoring. 5/5 (and I`d give it even more if I could, trust me)

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

In the long-awaited sequel to the London Eye Mystery (written by Robin Stevens on behalf of Siobhan Dowd and her Trust), protagonist Ted sets off to New York and soon finds himself with a new case to solve when a painting is stolen from the Guggenheim Museum and his Aunt Gloria is accused. Ted is one of my favourite narrators and characters of all time and I was really worried before reading that his voice wouldn`t be the same, but he was in the safest of hands with Robin as if anything, I adored him even more this time around. Robin managed to be both incredibly faithful to London Eye, but I also felt some of her influences throughout the book, which was lovely. The New York setting was so well described that I felt I was there with Ted, his sister Kat and Salim, his cousin. The relationships between these characters also changed, and I enjoyed the subplot about Kat and Salim`s plans for their future careers. I did partially guess the solution to the mystery (which I don’t usually, so I was very pleased with myself!) but I still loved following the plot and I`d recommend this to anyone who wants a fun mystery with a glorious setting and some of the most iconic characters in British children`s books back and better than ever. 5/5

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison 

In their 3rd novel, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison return to upper YA to tell the story of Phoebe and Luke as they begin university. I liked the characters (especially Phoebe`s new friends Frankie and Negin) and the plot, which explored the ups and downs of the first few months of university, but as I haven`t been to university I did find it a little bit harder to relate to as I know next to nothing about it. The book was also more serious in tone than I`d expected (I found the way it tackled `lad` culture excellent), but there were also some real laugh out loud moments. This hasn`t taken Lobsters` place in my heart, but I`m still glad I read it, and I`m looking forward to whatever Tom and Lucy write next. 3.5/5

Songs About Us by Chris Russell

This book is incredibly hard to review without spoiling any of it for you, as these are the most suspenseful YA contemporaries I`ve ever read. I had found a few parts of the 1st book, Songs About a Girl, slightly slow paced, but I was absolutely gripped throughout this book, and the ending has made me desperate to get my hands on Songs About a Boy next year. This continues the story of Charlie, who is given the opportunity to take photos for the world`s biggest boyband Fire and Lights, and is also linked to mysterious frontman Gabriel West in a way we don`t know yet. The characters in these books are phenomenal. They are layered and multi-faceted, and in a lot of ways feel like they could be real celebrities from our world. This book managed to develop every single one further and in really interesting, often unexpected ways. I particularly liked band members Aiden and Yuki`s arcs (although I do wish we`d seen a little more of Aiden`s). I also loved protagonist Charlie even more in this book and still thought she was really easy to sympathise with, as well as her best friend Melissa, who I wasn`t very keen on book 1. Overall, if you loved Songs About a Girl, I think you`ll fall head over heels for the sequel. 4.5/5

Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter

This is one of the best debut novels I`ve read this year, if not ever. I was hooked from page one, as we`re told the story of Rosalind, a girl with selective mutism who is starting high school. The book sensitively tackles selective mutism, bullying and social media (and some parts of Rosalind`s school experience resonated with things I`ve seen in the past, and I feel like a lot of readers will be able to identify with her fears about secondary school). The book also dealt with childhood cancer from a sibling perspective (Rosalind`s younger brother Seb is very ill throughout the novel), and for this and also the writing style and general tone of the book, I was reminded of Sally Nicholls` Ways to Live Forever. This moved me as much as that story did too. I was on an absolute rollercoaster ride of emotions throughout Being Miss Nobody; I laughed at Rosalind and Seb`s adorable sibling relationship, I cried when Rosalind was struggling at school and with life and I was joyous when things went well for her. Each character felt real to me and I loved them all so much (except, of course, the bullies). Finally, the ending was just perfect for the book- it was bittersweet but hopeful, and left me sobbing but wholly satisfied with this story (which I read in a matter of hours. I physically couldn`t stop reading). I can`t tell you how phenomenal this book is. 5/5

The Secrets of Superglue Sisters by Susie Day

This book is exactly what I`ve come to expect from Susie Day- a funny, touching contemporary that tackles things relevant to the people the book is aimed at (in my opinion); periods, blended families, struggling to fit in and make friends. The Secrets of the Superglue Sisters tells the story of Georgie and Jem, two best friends whose parents fall in love and decide to move in together, and explores how that changes their friendship. It also sees them starting a new school and making friends, and there`s also the mystery of who stole their classmate`s secrets for a class project to solve (and I SERIOUSLY didn`t see this twist coming, although I did guess what the smaller subplot of Georgie`s secret would be). The characters were hugely lovable, especially Jem`s little brother and sister, and I also completely adore the cameos from the Pea quartet/the other Secrets books as it makes me feel like I`m part of their community and I know everyone in it as I read. The only thing I had a slight issue with was that I struggled to identify between Georgie and Jem in the dual narrative, but I still recommend this to anyone who loves Susie`s books like I do, and anyone else who enjoys awesome characters, an intriguing and fun plot and contemporary MG in general. 4/5

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen

Ho-Yen`s debut Boy in the Tower is one of my favourite books of all time, and Fly Me Home came very close to being just as good. Fly Me Home enchanted me from the first page with the tale of Leelu, a girl coming to London from abroad and finds it difficult to settle in, until she finds magical objects and meets some rather special friends. The book is a real mix of the magical realism element and real, contemporary issues, and also touches on immigration and the meaning of home. Every single character in this book, good or bad or in between, is superbly written and I loved Leelu and her brother Tiber, who also faces some issues when arriving in England, especially. The prose, imagery and writing style is completely gorgeous, and the ending was perfect (I was in tears). I have a feeling my copy of Fly Me Home may become just as treasured as Boy in the Tower in years to come. If you haven`t discovered Polly Ho-Yen`s lyrical, magical and utterly unique novels yet I can`t recommend them enough. 5/5

Hope by Rhian Ivory (received from Firefly Press in exchange for an honest review)

In this fantastic contemporary YA novel, Rhian Ivory tells the story of Hope, who is having to reevaluate her future plans after being rejected from every drama school she applied to, and is made to work with a singing team in a hospital by her mum to stop her moping. I thought the hospital setting was fabulous- it`s the closest to ones I`ve been in that I`ve ever read, and I also learnt some new information about hospitals/medicine, which I hadn`t expected going in. Hope was an excellent protagonist as she was really relatable and felt like someone you could actually come across. She also suffers from PMDD, a condition related to periods that I`d never heard of and I`m really glad the book raised awareness of it. I also liked the majority of the supporting characters and I especially liked Hope`s Nonno. The only thing I wasn`t keen on in Hope was her love interest Riley as I just couldn`t take to him as a character, but this is still a fantastic YA contemporary I seriously recommend reading once it comes out as I was so desperate to know how Hope`s story would unfold that I got through this in a single sitting. 4.5/5

Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

I picked this up after seeing a positive review from a blogger I really trust, and I totally loved it. It`s about Alfie, heir to the throne, as he assumes his new role and discovers he must also become a superhero/vigilante figure known as the Defender, who deals with the mythical creatures that have caused all of the disasters in British history. I thought this was an unusual, cool and intriguing concept and I can`t think of anything especially similar to this. Alfie was a great main character as I really sympathised with him and wanted him to succeed and I also liked the supporting cast (I particularly appreciated LC and Brian, who are helping Alfie prepare for his new roles, and Hayley). I did find the book slightly slow paced in places but for the last 150 pages or so I physically couldn`t put this down as I was so desperate to know what was going to happen. This section was filled with twists and turns I didn`t see coming, and the one on the last page especially left me gasping, to the point where I went and ordered the sequel immediately. I`m so excited to pick up book two now! 4.5/5

Thank you for reading! Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my thoughts on them? Are any on your TBR? I’d really love to hear in the comments below or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

See you soon with a new post

Amy xxx

Guest Post: Quest Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today I’m really excited to have my friend Louise here to write a guest post, reviewing some short stories from the anthology Quest. 

This was set up by the Hay Festival and written by the Aarhus 39- 39 emerging writers under 49 from across Europe, and edited by Daniel Hahn. 

I reviewed  the first half of the collection a few days ago on Louise’s blog , and Louise  also recently reviewed the YA Aarhus 39 anthology Odyssey.

Over to Louise…

Lady Night by Alaine Agirre

This reads like a gentle bedtime story, which is appropriate because it is about three children who are afraid of going to sleep. Wink, Blink and Nod are afraid if they go to sleep, they will never wake up. One night, they follow Sleep’s shadow into a wonderous place. Off all the stories in the Aarhus collections, this stood out as being suitable for the very youngest readers. 

Journey to the Centre of the Dark by David Machando. 

The protagonist wants to always be brave, and protect his little sister. When a monster comes out of her dreams, she says she must take it back to the darkest place inside her mind. The story raises some interesting philosophical questions children start to ask at a certain age – am I here or am I in someone else’s dream? Can I prove this? It was interesting to have this side by side with Lady Night. Machando’s story has a darker tone, but the same reassuring message that fear can be overcome. 

Dagesh And Mappiq Are Friends – Jana Šrámková.

A gentle story about making friends, which was one of my favourite stories. Dagesh is a field mouse with a bad reputation. He wants to turn over a new leaf and make friends, but nobody trusts him. Nobody except Mappiq, who is new to the area.

The pair become friends. When Mappiq hibernates, Dagesh’s new found responsibility is tested to the limits. If he wakes Mappiq early, Mappiq will die. I loved the message of second chances. 

The story is brilliantly illustrated by Axel Scheffler. His illustrations informed how I saw the character, which is always a compliment. I love his animals in Julia Donaldson’s work, and his experience at drawing characterful animals brought this story to life. 

The Day We Left Songstrup by Dy Plambeck

Mikkel is too old to play. He wants to explore beyond the village. Agnes is hesitant, but she goes along with her friends and lets different people in the village equip her for the journey.
This was fun to read, but also worked as a metaphor for the journey into adolescence and beyond. Do you remember being a pre-teen, and feeling wobbly about the idea of leaving childhood? Agnes learns that it won’t all happen at once, and that she’ll have her friends beside her. Songstrup will always be waiting for her when she returns. 

The Travel Agency by Maria Turtschaninoff

I loved Maresi. The community of nuns working to shelter and educate women was a fascinating idea. The Travel Agency is also intriguing. It is set in a travel agency, as you’ve never seen one before. Instead of booking a flight, the customers choose a portal – maybe an object, or a picture if they are feeling wealthy. Turtschaninoff doesn’t tell everything at once. Loads of questions built up in my mind. Why was the girl alone? Did her friend escape?

The Honey-Bee Cemetery by Stefan Bachmann

One of my favourite stories across the two anthologies. I’m a time-slip fan, so Bachmann was already on to a winner, but I love the language, the message and the exploration of historical attitudes. 

Benny moves in with Aunt Lucette, an absent Uncle and two cousins who delight in telling him he’s not a guest, but a burden. Aunt Lucette locks the good rooms a her skeleton key, and puts Benny in the smallest room. Benny can’t imagine anything worse, until he opens the cupboard in his new room. There he finds servant girl Hezra, awaiting execution in a different century. She’s been accused of witchcraft, after she buried some of the Lord’s honey bees. 

The message is lovely – regardless of whether or not they are noticed, the bees continue to buzz. It’s a familiar structure, but it is told beautifully. 

Between the Trees by Katherine Woodfine.

Set in the English Civil War, this is straight out of Du Maurier. A bodice-wearing heroine rides a horse through the forest to escape the Roundheads, and take a message to her uncle. Woodfine is masterful at suspense, and keeps us asking questions. The forest setting was described so well I felt I was experiencing it with all my senses, and I love how the protagonist sees the forest differently now she is no longer treated as a noblewoman. 

The Journey Within – Annelise Heurtier

Aveleen’s father will join the Other Worlds any day. He appears fit, but the tree has spoken, and the tree is at the centre of all things. A new Chosen One must be found, but the tree has rejected every person who has put themselves forward. Aveleen journeys into the centre of the tree to learn who must be the next Chosen One. 

This has a fairytale structure. I loved Aveleen’s development, and how her self-belief grows as a result of her journey. 

Have you read this anthology? What were your favourite stories? If you haven’t read, which stories do you most like the sound of? 

Amy xxx

Review: Confetti and Cake by Laurel Remington 

Hello everybody!

Today I’m reviewing Confetti and Cake by Laurel Remington, which I feel very lucky to have received for review, seeing that the Secret Cooking Club was one of my favourite books of 2016! Let’s get on to the review!

The book, and Bella the Bear (the bookmark 😊)

*I received a copy of this book from Chicken House in exchange for my honest review*

In her second book, Laurel Remington continues the story of Scarlett, a young girl who loves to bake and whose mum is a career blogger. In this book, Scarlett’s mum is getting married (I won’t say to who in case you’ve not read The Secret Cooking Club), and the plot follows Scarlett navigating how this will change her life. Her mum, who is slightly obsessed with fame, has also insisted that the run up to the wedding, Scarlett making her cake, and the wedding itself is filmed for a TV show.

Confetti and Cake is a really lovely book. The writing style is fast-paced and very easy to read, and the plot moves along quickly (I’d actually have liked some of the plotlines to last a little longer, such as Scarlett ‘s best friend Violet’s issue with adjusting to life without her parents who have died in a car crash). In terms if the writing, I also loved the descriptions, especially in the baking scenes! I don’t even like cakes and my mouth was watering after reading this. If you, like me, aren’t planning to watch the Channel 4 version of the Great British Bake Off, I would seriously getting copies of this series to plug the gap!

Another reason why I adored these scenes is that we got to see the other members of the Secret Cooking Club (which Scarlett set up in the previous book, and in simple terms is  a group of people who get together to cook and bake). I didn’t feel like some of the original members like Gretchen or Alison were just as prominent in this book, but I loved getting to know Violet and Nick better, and getting to see how the dynamics of the group changed with some new additions such as Fraser.

The book deals with some interesting issues too. It explores Scarlett’s difficulty understanding her mum’s attitude to fame, Scarlett’s newfound fame as ‘The Little Cook’ blog and her struggles with that (I personally especially enjoyed seeing her grapple with how it changed her friendships with some of the original members of the Secret Cooking Club) and also Scarlett’s troubled relationship with her dad, who has came back into her life, and her being unsure of whether to forgive him for leaving in the first place.

Finally, I liked the ending a lot as it neatly wrapped up all of the plot lines, left me with a really happy, cosy feeling, and left it open to having a 3rd book, which I’ve already got my fingers crossed for. I have a great time spending time in Scarlett’s world and I’d love to see more books featuring her and the rest of the club!

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read this book? Would you like to after this review? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx

July Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today I`m planning to share my reviews for all of the books I read last month. I was on holiday in Northumberland for most of the month (as you'll probably know if you follow me on Twitter) which meant I got a lot of reading done.

I actually read a bit more than what Im including here, but I sadly didn't really enjoy the others I read enough to recommend them.

Let`s get on with the reviews!

Continue reading “July Reviews”

Review: The Soterion Mission Trilogy by Stewart Ross

Hi everybody!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Today, I’m reviewing The Soterion Mission Trilogy. I’d love to know what you think of these books in the comments or on Twitter if you’ve read them. 

Amy x

Continue reading “Review: The Soterion Mission Trilogy by Stewart Ross”

LGBTQIA Read Wrap-Up

Hello everybody! Its the weekend, yay! Today I'm sharing my reviews for the books I read during the #LGBTQIARead, which was hosted from 24th June-1st July by Faye from A Daydreamer`s Thoughts and George Lester (who is one of my very favourite YouTubers). I read some fabulous books during this ( even though I didn’t read everything from my TBR, which you can read here)

Along with the books I`ll be reviewing below, I also reread Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which I loved even more this time round.

Let`s get onto the reviews!

Continue reading “LGBTQIA Read Wrap-Up”