The Disappearances

The Disappearances

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Every seven years something goes missing in the remote town of Sterling: people’s reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden – and one young woman’s desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save Sterling from the past.

A beautifully told story of love, loss and finding the truth – no matter how difficult that might be.

Thoughts:

I had a really weird experience when I read this book. I started off really loving it and was wondering why I had took so long to get around to it. However, when I got deeper into the book, I started to lose a bit of interest in it. I don’t know whether that’s because it took me so long to read because work was super busy or whether it just didn’t capture my attention as much as I wanted. Either way, The Disappearances is an interesting book full of magical realism. I’m not disappointed that I read it.

The Disappearances is set in the 1940s. It’s about a town where Disappearances occur every seven years. The people living in the town have lost strange things though like their reflections or their sense of smell. Aila is desperate to find out what is going on in the town. Is it a curse? The town has something called Variants which help to counteract the Disappearances but they can take some time to make. Aila wants to discover the truth and uncovers many mysteries along the way.

As I mentioned, at first I found this book really intriguing. It didn’t necessarily read like historical fiction. It was however, filled to the brim with magical realism. I think if you enjoy magical realism then you’ll really like the idea of the Disappearances and Variants. There were constant nods to Shakespeare, which didn’t really do much for me, but if you’re into Shakespeare then that might delight you!

I loved Aila as a character. She was feisty and I always enjoy a strong female character. I feel like Emily Bain Murphy really brought her character to life.

I don’t want to come across as negative about this book, because it was good. It was light-hearted and easy to read. It just wasn’t the read I thought it was going to be! It is however, unique and worth checking out.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

I had mixed feelings about this book. It is well written and unique though!

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The List Of Real Things

The List of Real Things

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette Children’s Group

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Apple Tart of Hope

Synopsis:

Grace knows the difference between what’s real and the strange ideas that float around in her little sister’s mind. Their parents died – that’s real. A secret hotel on the cliff-top where their parents are waiting – definitely NOT real. So when grief strikes again, Grace is determined not to let her sister’s outlandish imagination spiral out of control. But the line between truth and fantasy is more complicated than it seems… 

Thoughts:

I enjoyed The Apple Tart Of Hope when I read it a few years back, so I was immediately intrigued by this book. I’m really glad I requested and read this book because it was incredibly heart-warming.

It centres around Grace and Bee who have experienced far too much grief in their life. Grace’s sister, Bee seems to have a very vivid imagination. She believes that their dog can talk, that she’s visited by ghosts and lots more besides. Grace believes that she knows what’s real and what’s not unlike her sister. Grace is determined to show her sister what’s reality. However, she begins to find out that the line between real life and fantasy is much muddier than she had ever anticipated.

I loved the characters, but particularly Bee. I loved that she was so quirky. She wasn’t afraid of who she was. I felt like Grace just wanted to fit in. I loved how Bee was unapologetic. Bee did come across as a little older than she actually is, but that didn’t matter to me. I loved that Bee didn’t care if people thought she was weird whilst Grace was embarrassed of her sister’s quirks.

This book is intended as a middle grade read, so don’t be surprised if you find it to be quite young. It is, but it was also highly enjoyable to read as an adult. It’s so quick to read at just over 200 pages. I loved the hints of magical realism, it made the book stand out for me. I loved how there was a focus on grief, mental health and family.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A very sweet read with a hint of magical realism!

Wing Jones

Wing Jones

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

Thoughts:

I had heard a lot of good things about Wing Jones from around the blogosphere, so I thought it was about time that I finally got around to it. I mean, I’ve had it for over a year, it was surely time to give it a go? I thought the story was incredibly sweet and found there was a lot to like about Wing Jones. 

The story centres around Wing Jones who isn’t the most popular girl. She has an interesting family with a grandmother from China and another from Ghana. (A tick for the representation in this book! 🙂 ) After something awful happens in her family, Wing discovers a talent for running that she didn’t know she had. Wing’s new found talent could help out her family but it also could prevent other things happening…

I enjoyed the story overall and think it’s such an easy to read book. I like how it addresses the racism that Wing experiences, it never shies away from it. It’s awesome that Wing isn’t a perfect looking athlete. This totally should be represented more. I loved Wing’s family and kind of wished we had heard more about their plot lines. I appreciated the slow burn romance and found it to be believable. I loved that the story was bittersweet and had some touching family moments amongst tragedy. It’s real to life and I appreciate that.

Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the magical realism. I adore magical realism, it’s that inner child in me that makes me enjoy working with children! I feel like it added to the plot line and made it different to other YA contemporary reads.

I really enjoyed reading about Wing but I have to admit she frustrated me as a character sometimes. I totally understood that she felt alienated from her peers after being picked on by a girl at school. However, even though she’s close to her brother and his friends she never reaches out to them at school. That confused me. I was also a little disappointed that the reader doesn’t tend to find out much about the aftermath of the tragedy.

All in all, I enjoyed Wing Jones. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a fabulous book with fabulous representation. Worth reading!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fabulous YA debut with very ‘real’ characters!

All That She Can See

All That She Can See

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

On The Other Side

Synopsis:

Feelings are part of life – feelings are life. If you take away what people feel, you take away anything meaningful. Wanting to diminish the evil in this world is a good cause, one I have fought for the majority of my life, but not like this . . . 

Cherry has a hidden talent. She can see things other people can’t and she decided a long time ago to use this skill to help others. As far as the rest of the town is concerned she’s simply the kind-hearted young woman who runs the local bakery, but in private she uses her gift to add something special to her cakes so that after just one mouthful the townspeople start to feel better about their lives. They don’t know why they’re drawn to Cherry’s bakery – they just know that they’re safe there and that’s how Cherry likes it. She can help them in secret and no one will ever need to know the truth behind her gift.

And then Chase arrives in town and threatens to undo all the good Cherry has done. Because it turns out she’s not the only one who can see what she sees . . . 

Thoughts:

Ooh. I find Carrie’s books incredibly hard to review. I don’t want to come across like I’m judging her because she has such an internet presence. It’s clear that Carrie works hard towards her goals. I sometimes feel annoyed that she gets judged because of who she is and not on her writing itself. Sure, her internet presence has to help in securing her book deals, but she did spend the time on her books. They’re not ghost written. So surely, we as reviewers, should give her a fair chance? That’s what I like to do with every author regardless of their ‘fame.’

All That She Can See has an interesting premise. It centres around Cherry who is a baker (I cringe a little at Cherry being a baker’s name) but she’s not just any baker. Cherry has a hidden talent. She can put her feelings into her creations and help others to erase their bad feelings. Once people have devoured Cherry’s creation, they start to feel better. People are always drawn back to Cherry’s shop, but they don’t know why. Cherry moves on to different towns when she feels she has done her job. Everything seems to be going well, until Chase appears on the scene. He threatens to undo all the good that Cherry has done.

At the start of reading this book, I was all for it. I was seeing 5 stars in its future. It was magical, whimsical and so easy to read. It reminded me of one of my favourites for magical realism, Cecelia Ahern. It was charming and a little silly but so easy to read. Then… the second half of the book just completely lost it for me. It felt like a different book entirely. I didn’t mind the story line in the second half, but it just seemed so different and disconnected than what came before. It didn’t fit and I found myself losing interest in the story which was a great shame as I was so invested at the start.

Carrie’s writing style won’t be for everyone, but I found it pleasant enough and easy to read. The book didn’t take me long to read at all. It’s engaging enough, even with my niggles about the plot line. I think once again, Carrie’s book is being billed as adult fiction, but to me it still screams YA. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, I’m a huge lover of YA.

To me, All That She Can See was a wonderful, imaginative idea, but the two different stories did not gel together. I would have preferred either one or the other not a mismatch of both. If one story had been focused on, then the characters and relationships could have been developed more and this book would definitely have been rated higher than I have done.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I can see this book dividing a lot of readers. Carrie Hope Fletcher has a wonderful imagination, I just didn’t enjoy the execution of this particular book!

Blog Tour- Illusionary Review

Illusionary Blog Tour Banner

I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Illusionary by Desiree Williams.

Illusionary

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from the author for the blog tour.

Synopsis:

Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.
Alice fell down a hole.
Wendy flew to Neverland.
Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.
Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.
Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.
No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.
Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.
  

Thoughts:

I was asked if I’d be interesting in joining the blog tour for this book. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew that I wanted to read this book. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I absolutely adore fairy tales and all things magical realism. Illusionary certainly fits that bill.

Kamryn is our main character. She’s an adult, but she’s struggling with adapting to all things adult. Don’t we all? Kamryn’s dreams are taking her in different directions which makes her older sister despair. Her older sister wants the best for Kamryn but Kamryn wants to pursue her passion. Kamryn and her sister fight resulting in Kamryn tripping and finding herself at the bottom of the stairs. When Kamryn comes around, she’s in the land of Ur. She has some questions to ask but answers are not given. She is given a mission to carry out with Reese, a storyteller in Ur. They’re hoping to rescue the Maker of Ur so he can send her home. Of course, it’s not as easy as Kamryn wants and they end up everywhere…

I enjoyed reading this story, which didn’t take long for me to read! I was intrigued by the adventure. I really enjoyed reading the nods to other famous books e.g. The Wizard Of Oz. It’s a bookworm’s dream to read such a bookish story. I also enjoyed the romance in this story. It wasn’t cheesy or overdone. It was just right.

The only reason I didn’t rate this book any higher was because I didn’t enjoy the character of the evil queen as much as I wanted to. I would have enjoyed it more if the character was more fleshed out, but that’s my personal opinion and I think many people would still enjoy the character!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Desiree is kindly offering a giveaway for this blog tour. email): a “Make everyday an adventure” pillow, “Don’t Grow Up! It’s a Trap!” metal sign, book cozy, signed paperback of Illusionary, notebook with pens, sketch book with colored pencils, and a “Eat Cake for Breakfast” travel cup. 

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The Book Collector

The Book Collector

How did I get it?:
Beth and I bought it from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Synopsis:

Alice Thompson’s new novel is a gothic story of book collecting, mutilation and madness. Violet is obsessed with the books of fairy tales her husband acquires, but her growing delusions see her confined in an asylum. As she recovers and is released a terrifying series of events is unleashed.

Thoughts:

Beth and I were recommended this book during our reading spa at Mr B’s Emporium in the summer last year. Beth read it and absolutely adored it, but she wasn’t sure if I would like it. It’s an odd book, a really odd book and she wasn’t sure if it was just a little too out there for me. However, I thought it was brilliant. Oddly brilliant, but still!

It centres around Violet who was 19 years old and an orphan when she meets Lord Archie Murray. They fall for each other quickly. Soon, Violet and Archie are married and they have a son called Felix. Archie is an incredibly controlling man who appears to be hiding something. Archie is obsessed with his book collection, especially a book of fairy tales that he keeps hidden away. Violet is curious to know why he hides it away. What is it about the book? Violet is struggling with the change in her life after giving birth to Felix. Violet starts to hallucinate and harms Felix whilst trying to protect him from ‘creatures’ that are crawling on him. As a result of this, Violet is locked up in an asylum. Violet meets some other women who believe there’s something odd about them all staying at the asylum. Violet begins to question everything.

This book really is quite creepy. It’s incredibly atmospheric and you find yourself questioning who is stable. The characters all seem unhinged in one way or another. Then there’s the inclusion of the character Clara… well, she certainly stirred up the story! The story becomes mysterious as some of the women in the asylum go missing. Then, of course, there’s the fairy tales that run throughout the whole story. There’s a link between them, but I won’t spoil it.

The Book Collector is a short read but it certainly packs a lot of punches throughout it. It’s compelling, disturbing but incredibly easy to read!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I was surprised by this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did!

Bone Gap

Bone Gap

How did I get it?:
A copy was sent to me by Faber in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis:

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about Bone Gap so when I was given the opportunity to read it recently, I jumped at the chance. I absolutely love magical realism and this book is perfect for that. Laura Ruby is a phenomenal writer. Bone Gap is beautifully written and really should be read.

The premise is interesting. It centres around a woman named Roza who is taken away by a rich and powerful man. He falls in love with her and takes her into a world where everything she needs is available to her. All the man wants is for her to fall in love with him. However, she really doesn’t feel the same way. When Roza goes missing from Bone Gap, her friend Finn is determined to find her. He believes that she wouldn’t go anywhere without her consent and he feels very suspicious about it all since he witnessed Roza disappearing with the man. However, no-one really believes Finn as he is known for being a little bit odd and dreamy. (There’s a reason why, but I don’t want to ruin it!) Finn is incredibly troubled by her disappearance, especially because he seems to be the only one that’s looking for her. He is surprised that his brother Sean, who he thought loved Roza is not searching for her.

Bone Gap is told from mainly Finn’s point of view, but we also read from Roza’s point of view and experience the world in which she is in. Both perspectives are fascinating and really add something unique to the narration. Another character that we hear from is Petey- Finn’s strange bee obsessed love interest. The story really focuses around Roza’s experience in Bone Gap and how her disappearance made an impact on the inhabitants of Bone Gap.

It’s so hard to review this book because I don’t want to spoil the story, it’s really one you’ve got to get into to enjoy and experience the vivid world as you turn the pages. It really is quite fairy tale-esque which of course is what I LOVE in a story.

There are such intriguing characters in this story. I really enjoyed the connection between Finn and Petey. Both Petey and Roza are such strong female characters and really make you think about the world which places such an emphasis on outer beauty. Both characters have been affected by the perception of beauty and I love the way Laura Ruby explores this in Bone Gap. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Bone Gap is a book about perception. It’s fairy tale-eque and SO beautifully written!