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Review: Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale

Review: Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale

“I’m not just happy, Eff, I’m Happy Girl Lucky. People have always said that’s what I am, but I’ve never really understood the expression before… because why can’t boys be it too? But now it truly capsules me perfectly.” Happy Girl Lucky introduces us to […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Standalones  that NEED a sequel

Top Ten Tuesday: Standalones that NEED a sequel

I’m forever getting to the end of a standalone and craving a sequel, so it feels like this week’s topic was made with me in mind. It’s been difficult to pick just ten books, because I can remember thinking this about so many of the […]

Review: Vote For Effie by Laura Wood

Review: Vote For Effie by Laura Wood

Effie Kostas is new at school and she’s struggling to fit in. She’s intelligent and confident, but she feels basically invisible until she gets into an argument with Aaron Davis – Student Council President – when he abuses his lunch pass privilege to buy the last piece of chocolate cake (a slice which was rightfully Effie’s, thank you very much!). Effie decides she can’t stand Aaron Davis, and the only way to defeat her nemesis is to take his presidency… And his lunch pass with it.

I borrowed Vote For Effie from the library on a whim because it had an interesting cover, and I’m so glad I did.

When I was at school I was one of those people who pretended not to care about anything because it wasn’t cool. I acted derisively towards anyone who felt passionate about school issues, and that’s something which I really regret now that I’m older. I shouldn’t have let other people’s attitudes change mine, because it’s cool to care!

Effie Kostas is exactly the kind of strong-minded female character I wish I’d read when I was younger, and Vote For Effie is a book which would have had a really positive impact on me. Effie stands up for herself without hesitation, and her determined approach to the election attracts supporters very quickly. Seeing a character who cares about school getting respect rather than ridicule is refreshing.

Younger readers might find the language in Vote For Effie difficult at points, as she’s a highly intelligent character and uses words that you don’t often find in middle-grade novels. However, that will help readers to expand their vocabulary in a natural way (while expanding their knowledge of feminism, too – icons of the women’s rights movement are name-dropped regularly throughout!).

I wasn’t sure whether to give Vote For Effie four or five stars for most of the book, but the ending tipped it into five star territory for me. I’m not going to tell you whether Aaron or Effie win the election, but I will tell you that the importance of trying – whether you succeed or not – is highly emphasised, and that’s another lesson which I’m glad Laura Wood decided to teach her readers.

Although I haven’t read any of Laura Wood’s other novels yet, I’m planning on picking up A Sky Painted Gold within the next few weeks as it’s just been shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing whether I enjoy her YA novel as much as this MG.

If you know any young females who need empowering, recommend Vote For Effie to them. You won’t regret it, and they’ll certainly thank you for it.

Alyce

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Review: The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Review: The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Twenty years ago, Sammy Went was taken from her home in Manson, Kentucky. She’s now a photography teacher called Kim Leamy, living in Australia, completely unaware of her forgotten past until her long-lost brother Stuart tracks her down. Flying back to America, Kim and Stuart […]

Review: Proud anthology

Review: Proud anthology

I was lucky to be invited to Stripes YA Afternoon Equali-tea back in January, where I picked up an early copy of Proud. Since Proud was announced last February, it’s been my most anticipated release of 2019, so I’m so excited to be able to […]

Blog tour: Trapped by Nick Louth

Blog tour: Trapped by Nick Louth

Hi there! Last week I took part in the blog blitz for Vivian Conroy’s A Testament to Murder and I told you that I had another exciting Canelo blog tour coming up, and today’s the day.

As always, I’m going to give you a bit more information about the book before I share my thoughts on it. Hold onto your seatbelts, because this is going to be a bumpy ride.

The cover of Nick Louth’s Trapped

Two desperate criminals. Something she never saw coming. A searing suspense thriller from bestselling author Nick Louth.

In Manchester, two hardened gang members on the run take Catherine Blake and her one-year-old son hostage at gunpoint. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Held in a Transit van, Catherine needs a plan fast. But it means diving into her captors’ risk-drenched world, and playing them at their own game.

Catherine has been through cancer, miscarriages and five draining years of IVF in order to have her son Ethan. He is the most precious thing in the world. She may be terrified out of her wits, but she’d do anything to protect him. Anything, no matter the cost…

Brace yourself.

A nerve-shredding suspense thriller you won’t believe until you have experienced it yourself, Trapped is perfect for fans of Cara Hunter, J.P. Delaney and Rachel Abbott.

Trapped is a standalone, following Nick Louth’s highly successful releases The Body in the Marsh, The Body on the Shore and Heartbreaker. If you’re interested in ordering a copy, you can get it on Amazon for only £1.99!

It’s difficult to write a review of a book like Trapped without giving away any spoilers, but I’m going to try my hardest.

The majority of Trapped is narrated by Catherine’s husband, Geoffrey. I was hooked by the writing style instantly because it’s very similar to The Innocent’s Story by Nicky Singer, which is one of my favourite books.

Geoffrey is fatally struck by the kidnappers’ vehicle as they take his wife and child, giving him the ability to move freely between the minds of each of the characters. This allows the audience to have a behind the scenes look at the thoughts and motivations of each of the kidnappers and Catherine herself, but also lets us look into the minds of the hardworking police officers and siege negotiators who strive for a peaceful end to the confrontation.

Nick Louth has obviously researched the subject extremely thoroughly, with the attention to detail completely absorbing you into the story and making you feel as though you’re watching the events play out on a live news broadcast.

However, a twist towards the end of the story dampened my satisfaction of the book. It felt like a neat and well-crafted thriller, but the second half of the story causes the events to unravel slightly, and no matter how much explanation is weaved through the book it still feels as though there are a few holes in the story. That’s the only reason I didn’t give Trapped five stars, deciding instead to give it four. I can’t go into my specific reasons for that without giving everything away, so I’d recommend you pick up a copy and find out for yourself what I mean!

About the author:

Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992, while working for Reuters, that give him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies, and been translated into six languages.

The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror, Mirror, subtitled ‘When evil and beauty collide’, was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, was published by Canelo in September 2017.

Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.

I hope you enjoyed my stop on the Trapped blog tour! If you’ve read any of Nick Louth’s other novels, please let me know which one you’d recommend I read next. I’m certainly intending to read more of his work after enjoying this one so much.

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d switch places with

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d switch places with

Hiya! Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post. It feels like I’m writing one of these every other day at the moment – time is passing so quickly this year, and I can’t believe it’s already March. This week’s topic is the ten characters that […]

Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

After Shane Ferrick dies in suspicious circumstances, rumours point the finger of blame in a few different directions. At the party where Shane was last seen alive, Juniper, Gavin and Brett all did terrible things to him, and everyone knows Parker hated Shane after he […]

Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

A school ski trip turns deadly when a storm springs up out of nowhere, cutting the town where the group are staying off from the rest of the world. The ski lifts are out of action, the townsfolk seem to have evacuated and the teachers have all disappeared, leaving the students to fend for themselves.

But there’s something happening in Kaldgellan, and it’s far worse than just a freak weather incident. When they try to look outside the next morning they’re greeted by the sight of blood. By the end of the day monsters are bursting through the windows, murdering students left, right and centre, leaving an increasingly smaller group teaming up in their quest to make it home alive.

A fight for survival set in the most harrowing of conditions, Whiteout is one of the best teen horror novels I’ve ever read. It’s legitimately chilling (and not just because of the zero temperature setting).

It has been an extremely long time since I’ve read a novel featuring scary, bloodsucking and throat-tearing vampires – especially not featured in a new release – and I’m hoping that this could be the beginning of a trend, because I’d forgotten how horrifying vampires could be. Although it’s not explicitly agreed that they are vampires, all of the traits are present, and for once the characters are actually aware of it. Film buff Nico referencing pop culture vampires and the ways that they’re similar and different is one of my highlights of the novel, because we’re normally expected to suspend belief and accept that the characters have no idea or prior knowledge of what they’re up against, and that makes no sense when vampires are a universal big bad!

There’s a huge cast of characters in Whiteout – a cast which rapidly decreases in size – but Gabriel Dylan does a great job of making all of them different from each other. Some only have minor parts to play so aren’t that developed, but the main characters are all fleshed out and easy to get emotionally attached to (a problem, when the death toll marches quickly into the double figures!).

However, I wasn’t too convinced by the epilogue tacked on to the end of the novel, as Whiteout works perfectly as a standalone and seems to have a rather neat resolution until the possibility of a sequel is added on. Honestly, if there is a sequel released I’ll probably read it – this is Gabriel Dylan’s debut novel and I’m already gagging to get my hands on more of his work, because his writing style is so gripping – but it would have been nice for any potential sequels to be more of a surprise, because it cheapens the impact of the last few chapters a little bit.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Stripes, for providing me with a copy of Whiteout in exchange for a fair and honest review, and a huge thank you to Gabriel Dylan for keeping me so entertained throughout this story!

Alyce

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Review: The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Review: The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

‘It was a winter they would tell tales about. A winter that arrived so sudden and sharp it stuck birds to branches, and caught the rivers in such a frost their spray froze and scattered down like clouded crystals on stilled water. A winter that […]