Brief blogs for busy bees

Author: Alyce

Rapid Reviews #4: The Rant edition

Rapid Reviews #4: The Rant edition

So, when I said at the start of my last post that I hoped I’d be posting more regularly, what I actually meant to say was that you wouldn’t get a new post from me for two months. Whoops. In all fairness, since the last […]

Rapid Reviews #3

Rapid Reviews #3

Oh boy, it’s already been over a month since I last posted. I wish I could say that things were going to start getting more frequent on here, but I can’t guarantee it! Throughout the last month I’ve continued binge reading NetGalley books from many […]

Rapid Reviews #2: The NetGalley edition

Rapid Reviews #2: The NetGalley edition

Boy howdy, it has been a while. I’ve been vaguely reviewing over on Goodreads, but it wasn’t until I was looking through NetGalley this morning that I realised that there are so many books on there that I’ve read and just haven’t had a chance to review yet.

This edition of Rapid Reviews is gathering together eight titles from NetGalley that I really should have reviewed months ago, but I still don’t have a lot of time to blog so I’m only going to put my main thoughts down about each one.

Here goes nothing…

All We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter – 3 stars

All We Could Have Been didn’t come across as very realistic to me. Lexie constantly spoke in metaphors, making her the second most pretentious YA character I’ve come across (the first prize going to Augustus from The Fault In Our Stars), and the way the other characters reacted to Lexie’s past wasn’t authentic. I’ve known people who have been related to murderers and if anything it’s caused them to be pitied and wrapped in cotton wool, not treated as though they themselves have slaughtered whole families on a whim. It didn’t annoy me enough to rate it any lower than three stars, but it was pretty bland and didn’t do anything for me. I’ve heard that T.E. Carter’s debut is more successful than this book, so I might give that one a go instead.

Big Bones by Laura Dockrill – 1 star

I’m so surprised that Big Bones managed to get shortlisted for the YA Book Prize, because it’s highly damaging. Bluebelle is an overweight character who loves herself and doesn’t care about her size (something I would normally applaud in YA, as embracing yourself for who you are is an extremely important lesson to teach teenagers) but so much of this book is handled terribly. The first thing that springs to mind is the overly detailed description of how to make yourself be sick, as it would have caused me a lot of problems if I’d read this book at a younger age while I was struggling with my weight. Bluebelle’s general selfishness got on my nerves, and I was very close to DNFing it but I thought something redeeming must happen to merit that shortlist appearance. Sadly, I was wrong.

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard – 5 stars

I absolutely loved both Beautiful Broken Things and A Quiet Kind of Thunder, but Goodbye, Perfect surpassed my expectations. I’ve read a LOT of YA books focusing on student/teacher relationships (I don’t know why, I had a bit of a thing about them at one point) but this one was the first one I’ve read which has really done it right. From exploring the worried people left at home to investigating exactly how something like this can happen, Sara Barnard leaves no stone unturned, and she once again nails the authentic teen voice through Eden. I’m so glad that she won the YA Book Prize with this one, and I can’t wait to read Fierce Fragile Hearts and be blown away by that one too.

In Bloom by C.J. Skuse – 2 stars

A highly disappointing sequel to one of the most fun adult thrillers I’ve ever read. In one of the most cliched depictions of pregnancy I’ve encountered, Rhiannon became a completely different character as soon as she got pregnant, and it made reading In Bloom feel like a complete chore. I honestly couldn’t believe how long it took me to read this one – I read Sweetpea in a week and it took me four months to convince myself to finish In Bloom, something that hardly ever happens. I’m very much hoping that there isn’t going to be a third installment in this series, because this one was highly unnecessary: there wasn’t enough going on to merit a second book, and I feel as though some chopping and changing in the first book could have made it possible to combine the two together.

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman – 4 stars

The last of the YA Book Prize shortlisted books in this wrap-up, I didn’t love I Was Born For This as much as I thought I was going to because the story took so long to get going. From the 50% mark I flew through it and loved following Jimmy and Angel, bouncing backwards and forwards between their perspectives, and I thought that the way Alice Oseman explored fandom and the idolatry nature of teenagers was very interesting, but it just didn’t quite recover the momentum that was missing throughout the first half.

Naked by Stacey Trombley – 3 stars

Anna is a teenage prostitute living in New York until she’s arrested and sent home with her parents. Having left home at 13, Anna has a lot of catching up to do at school so her parents’ first ruling upon her return is that she must get back to school as soon as possible. I feel a bit torn over Naked because, although Stacey Trombley does a good job of exploring the idea that you can never really leave your past behind, a lot of this story just doesn’t feel authentic. If you really had run away from home for three years and you had very rich parents, I highly doubt sending you back to public school would be at the top of their list. Anna’s relationship with Luis also makes me raise my eyebrows: at the start of the story she defends him wholeheartedly because she says he’s never done anything wrong to her and that he saved her from a life on the streets, but later she admits that he both a) sold her and b) hit her, so I can’t imagine her feeling that loyal to him after those experiences. I didn’t feel strongly either way so I decided to sit in the middle on three stars, but I do wonder if I’m being generous.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds – 5 stars

Opposite of Always is the best 2019 release I’ve read so far this year. Jack and Kate meet on the stairs at a party and quickly fall in love, but their relationship does not have a happy ending: Kate has sickle cell, and it kills her. However, something doesn’t want this to be the end of Jack and Kate, and her death constantly sends Jack back to the moment that they left, leaving him fighting against death in a race against time which he seems destined to lose. Taking the idea of Groundhog Day and combining it with two star-crossed lovers is brilliant, but the thing that really grabs you about Opposite of Always is the cinematic way that Justin A. Reynolds tells the story. If this one isn’t adapted into a film sooner rather than later I’ll be highly surprised.

Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak – 5 stars

A heart-wrenching exploration of grief, Wild Blue Wonder brought me to tears twice – unfortunate, as I was reading it on my phone and walking around town both times. It’s difficult to explain exactly why I loved this book so much, but there is literally nothing I can criticise about it. The way Carlie Sorosiak organises the story – jumping from the winter following Dylan’s death back to the summer leading up to it happening – gives you a bittersweet sense of inevitability that propels the plot along at a breakneck speed, while the way it’s told is utterly beautiful. I’m looking forward to reading If Birds Fly Back as soon as possible, because at this point I genuinely believe Sorosiak could become one of my favourite authors.

I hope you enjoyed these Rapid Reviews! Fingers crossed I’ll have more time and energy to dedicate to blogging and can get back to posting regularly, but until then I’ll carry on sporadically hopping in and out every couple of weeks.

Thanks for sticking with me,

Alyce

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Blog tour: I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

Blog tour: I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

Hello everyone! This is the most exciting blog tour I’ve been involved in all year, and I’ve been dying to share my thoughts on I Hold Your Heart – Karen Gregory’s third novel – with you all. I absolutely loved Countless and Skylarks left me […]

Blog tour: The Partisan Heart by Gordon Kerr

Blog tour: The Partisan Heart by Gordon Kerr

Hi there, and welcome to my stop on The Partisan Heart‘s blog tour. It’s a huge honour to have been invited to take part in this tour, and I’m so excited to be sharing a brilliant extract from Gordon Kerr’s newest release with you. As […]

Blog tour: Breaking the Lore by Andy Redsmith

Blog tour: Breaking the Lore by Andy Redsmith

Hi there! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had time to post (working in a chocolate shop at Easter is even busier than working retail at Christmas, so I’ve been struggling to recover) but I’m glad to be back and taking part in the blog tour for Breaking the Lore.

I was originally hoping to review Breaking the Lore as well as posting a spotlight for it, but unfortunately I’m only 10% through it (I wasn’t kidding about how exhausted I’ve been!) so this is solely going to be a spotlight post for today. Pop back in a couple of weeks and I should have a review up.

The cover for Breaking the Lore.

A magical, mischievous mystery perfect for fans of Douglas Adams and Ben Aaronovitch.

How do you stop a demon invasion… when you don’t believe in magic?

Inspector Nick Paris is a man of logic and whisky. So staring down at the crucified form of a murder victim who is fifteen centimetres tall leaves the seasoned detective at a loss… and the dead fairy is only the beginning.

Suddenly the inspector is offering political asylum to dwarves, consulting with witches, getting tactical advice from eves and taking orders from a chain-smoking talking crow who, technically, outranks him.

With the fate of both the human and magic worlds in his hands Nick will have to leave logic behind and embrace his inner mystic to solve the crime and stop an army of demons from invading Manchester!

If you’re interested in reading Breaking the Lore, you can purchase a copy via Amazon, Kobo, Google Books or Apple Books. Breaking the Lore is Andy Redsmith’s debut novel, and the first book in the Inspector Paris Mystery series, so this is the perfect time to get on board.

About the author:

Andy Redsmith was born in Liverpool and grew up in Runcorn. For university he moved the enormous distance to Salford and has lived in Manchester ever since. He says the people there are great, but we don’t talk about football.

He worked for many years as a project manager in the computing industry, a job which really is every bit as exciting as it sounds. Eventually the call of writing became too hard to ignore and he went off to do that instead. Over the years in IT he worked with some very clever people and some complete weirdos, none of whom bear any resemblance to the characters in his books. Honest.

He has a wonderful wife, a great son, and a loft full of old Marvel comics. One day he’ll get round to selling them. That’s the comics, not the family.

If you’re interested in learning more about Andy Redsmith, follow him on Twitter.

A huge thanks to Canelo for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour, and to you for putting up with me pulling yet another disappearing act. I should be back to regularly scheduled programming soon, I promise!

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: First ten books I reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday: First ten books I reviewed

Wow, this is such a fun topic. For this post I’m delving back in time to the beginning of my previous blog, Everything Alyce. Travel back in time with me to the summer of 2014, and check out my first ever book reviews. 10) Picture […]

Blog tour: Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Blog tour: Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Fallen Angel blog tour. This is the first Chris Brookmyre novel I’ve ever read, but as soon as Caolinn invited me to take part I knew I had to say yes – she described Fallen Angel in […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

I feel as though it’s tempting fate to say this, but the weather in England has been uncharacteristically bright for the past few weeks. It’s still cold, yes, but there’s been a surprising lack of rain: although April is supposed to bring showers, it’s instead been providing weak sunshine.

Hopefully you won’t need to use these recommendations any time soon, but if the weather does get rainy again these are the ten books I’d recommend reading while curled up under a blanket with a steaming hot chocolate.

10) The Rain by Virginia Bergin

This might be the opposite of the kind of rainy day read you’re looking for, but if you’re sadistic and love mentally torturing yourself it’s the perfect time to read a book that features rain which kills you as soon as a drop touches your skin. You definitely won’t be popping to the shops after you finish it, though!

9) Retribution by Jilliane Hoffman

Retribution is one of my favourite crime novels of all time, although I read it on Christmas morning when I was in my very early teens – not the kind of festive reading most people that age were probably picking up! However, there’s a very important rain storm in this book, and I’m determined to reread it as soon as I have a gloomy, rainy day to spare.

8) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

If you haven’t watched the Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House yet, you’re in for some wonderful surprises. If you have, you’re still going to end up being surprised, because the adaptation was only very loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s novel – it’s not as rooted in family, and each of the characters are far less developed than they are in the TV series. It’s well worth a read, especially on a rainy day, because that’ll make the goosebump-inducing moments all the spookier.

7) Opposite of Always by Jason A. Reynolds

My review of Opposite of Always should be coming at some point in the next couple of days – I’ve finished the book but haven’t had time to process my thoughts about it just yet – but it’s a brilliant rainy day read. Jack’s girlfriend, Kate, dies, and every time she dies he is thrown back in time to the moment that they met, destined to live their relationship over and over again. Sometimes when it’s raining the days feel endless, so living the same time period over and over again is the perfect plot!

6) Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Let’s be honest, Red Rising is my favourite book of all time. I’d recommend it during rainy days, sunny days, snowy days, mild days… Just read Red Rising!

5) Wondrous by Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous transports you to a completely different world, but it begins with one boy hidden under his bedsheets during a thunderstorm. If that doesn’t make it the perfect rainy day read, I don’t know what you’re looking for from me!

4) Trapped by Nick Louth

I actually read Trapped on a very warm and sunny day, but it was so gripping that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it so the good weather was completely wasted. This is the perfect book to sit and read in one sitting, so if you wait until a rainy day you definitely won’t be passing up on the opportunity to do anything better.

3) Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Reading about the beautiful scenery than Zorie and Lennon travel through during their camping trip will make you sure to forget about the downpour outside… Until they also get trapped in a torrential storm, and then you’ll be really grateful to be inside your warm house!

2) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl warms you to your very soul. As Wren and Cath go off to university and start travelling down vastly different paths, you’ll find yourself rooting for both of them (and the rain outside will make it completely acceptable to stay in and read it in one sitting!).

1) Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked is such an atmospheric novel to read while the rain is pouring down. With the Cahill sisters discovering their magical powers and struggling with so many obstacles, you can’t help but be drawn into their story. It’s the perfect distraction from the terrible weather outside your window.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! Have you got any recommendations for me to read on a rainy day?

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Outrageous bookish things I’ve done

Top Ten Tuesday: Outrageous bookish things I’ve done

I found it really hard to think of ten things to put on this week’s list, because I haven’t done anything that outrageous in the name of books. I just about managed to scrabble a list together… Then I completely forgot to write it up […]