On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back // Review

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In 2007, Stacey Dooley was a twenty-something working in fashion retail. She was selected to take part in the BBC series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts which saw her live and work alongside Indian factory workers making clothes for the UK High Street. This sparked her series of hugely popular investigations, establishing her as one of BBC3’s most celebrated presenters.
Through the course of her documentary making, Stacey has covered a variety of topics, from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria. At the core of her reporting are incredible women in extraordinary and scarily ordinary circumstances – from sex workers in Russia, to victims of domestic violence in Honduras. In her first book, On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey draws on her encounters with these brave and wonderful women, using their experiences as a vehicle to explore issues at the centre of female experience. From gender equality and domestic violence, to sex trafficking and sexual identity, Stacey weaves these global strands together in an exploration of what it is to be women in the world today.

Continue reading “On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back // Review”

Review // Warcross by Marie Lu

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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game – it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships – only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.
Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Continue reading “Review // Warcross by Marie Lu”

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Disclaimer: This review will not contain spoilers for The Girl in the Tower, but will contain spoilers for The Bear and the Nightingale
Huge thank you to Tess at Ebury/Penguin Random House for sending us proofs of The Girl in the Tower!

So I don’t on any level class myself as an expert on Russian mythology and folklore. However, I am a self confessed huge fan of it. Ever since stumbling upon my first Russian folklore inspired novel a few years ago, I’ve been desperately reaching for any and every book I can find that’s set in Russia, filled with domovoi and Slavic demons, and frankly, I love a good Firebird story. When I managed to get an e-ARC of The Bear and the Nightingale on NetGalley last year, I immediately fell in love with Katherine Arden’s writing and Vasya, her protagonist; I knew I’d do anything to have the sequel in my hands as soon as possible. I feel so privileged to have been able to get a proof of The Girl in the Tower, and before anything else I have to say that not only did it not disappoint, it far exceeded my expectations – and it’s probably one of those rare cases where I actually liked the sequel as much as, if not more than, the first book of the series. Continue reading “The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden”

The Forgotten Room by Ann Troup // Blog Tour

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Can the past ever be forgotten?

As soon as nurse Maura Lyle sets foot inside the foreboding Essen Grange, she feels shivers ripple down her spine. And the sense of unease only increases when she meets her new patient, Gordon Henderson.
Drawn into the Henderson family’s tangled web of secrets and betrayals, Maura can ignore the danger lurking behind every door no longer. Even the door she has been forbidden from opening…
Essen Grange is a house with dark and cruel intentions. But now that darkness has turned on her, can Maura escape before it’s too late?

 



First of all, a huge thank you to Anna Massardi at Harper Collins for sending me a digital copy in exchange for featuring this read on a book tour!
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I must admit that upon seeing this creepy cover, I just knew I had to choose this book to read. Creepy covers/mystery thrillers are my jam so I was more than happy to read and review this despite having read Ann Troup’s work before. As you can tell from the synopsis, we follow the story of Maura, a nurse dealing with depression after the death of her husband and betrayal of her sister but determined to carry on with life, she takes on the nursing job at the mysterious Essen Grange house despite knowing none of the details. What follows is a series of misfortune, horror and truth.
My biggest love from this book was definitely the atmospheric tension that Ann Troup created and kept throughout the entire novel. The beginning almost felt like you were reading a book about the supernatural or a haunted house and in many ways it is. The book is full of twists and turns… and a lot of dead bodies and it is our job as the reader to work out how all of these people are connected and who the actual killer is.
Another highlight was that there was a dog!! His name is Buster and he likes biscuits. Ok, this isn’t important to some people but I thought I’d add that. Feel free to message me to see if he lives or dies because if you’re like me, this will decide if you read the novel or not. Maura was a very realistic character, if not sometimes very un-nurse like in the way she treated Gordon at the start. She has quite a cold exterior and I must admit, there were times when I found her childish (the time she stuck her tongue out at the ‘house’ when she fixed a fuse) so I couldn’t connect and love her completely.Untitled_Panorama1Overall, this book definitely does what it says on the tin when it comes to being a mystery thriller. It’s very mysterious (even when you think you have everything solved) and it’s very thrilling and you never know which turn the story is going to take. There’s a vast array of characters (most dead) but we delve into their backstories as the main plot evolves. With the amount of crimes that are committed, the book could have turned silly but it manages to stay realistic all whilst keeping that edge of mystery by not revealing the ‘killer’ to us until the last minute. I’d definitely recommend this book if you are a fan of the spooky house trope, a good mystery thriller and an overall atmospheric, edge-of-your-seat novel.
Goodreads | Amazon


Lots of Love,
Angharad @
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Mini Reviews // Contemporary Edition

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So it’s time for another set of mini reviews! This time we are focusing on contemporary because for some reason my last three reads have been in this genre despite me not normally visiting it a lot. These are all recent releases (bar one which isn’t released yet) so I’m sure everybody is talking about them but here are my thoughts anyway!


Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

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When I was accepted for this on Netgalley, I must admit I shrieked before quickly downloading it and reading it in one sitting (until 2am!) It has all the features of a typical coming-of-age contemporary novel – our protagonist is wondering where to go in life and is also getting closer to her long-term crush. However, Maya Aziz is an Indian-American Muslim and this #ownvoices novel explores the horrific world of Islamophobia and the effect terrorists have on their community. After a local terrorist attack, it is revealed that the supposed bomber was a fellow Muslim with the same surname as Maya and her family – therefore, they are subjected to racism, abuse and violence despite not having any connections. It was shocking and uncomfortable but in all the right ways. It explored the act of terror attacks through the eyes of a teenage Muslim girl which is something I haven’t read before. Maya’s resilience really shone through in this novel, not just through the hate that she endures but also standing up against her parents to pursue her love of filmmaking. This book isn’t released until January 16th, 2018 but I’d definitely recommend picking it up as soon as you’re able to.


It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

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It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Holly Bourne so as soon as I saw this book, I dived on it. Quite literally. Bourne’s previous series (The Spinster Club) remains in my all time top favourites and the one thing I concluded after reading them is that her books should be required reading in secondary schools and after reading her newest release, I stand by that statement even more. Holly takes the idea of a cliche, romance, contemporary novel and turns it on its head by being a brave author! She writes girls who talk about periods, she writes girls who are feminists and proud, she writes girls who don’t compete against each other. In this book, our main character, Audrey and her friend, Alice even have a discussion about losing your virginity and how it isn’t supposed to hurt (which it isn’t!) and how there shouldn’t be a lot of blood (there shouldn’t) and it should be pleasurable for the girl just as much as the guy! I will even admit now that I had no sex-ed classes in school (we had ten minutes of dildo throwing and that was it) so if I had come across this book when I was a young teen, it would have blown my mind because I didn’t know this stuff!! Adding to all this, the story was amazing, the humour was bang on as normal and I just think this is super important for younger teens!


Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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I must admit that I wasn’t going to pick this book up but after seeing it getting a few high reviews (and it being half price in my local bookshop) I thought I’d give John Green another chance. I didn’t know anything about this book and I just hoped it wasn’t all about turtles (but of course the title is another ‘metaphor.’) Despite everything, this book for me was pretty run of the mill and as ever, John Green’s teenagers continue to have very unrealistic conversations. I’m not saying teenagers can’t have deep and meaningful conversations, but all of his characters speak the same and therefore, merge into one. Another disappointment was the ‘plot.’ It is pretty much a mystery/missing person case that gets forgotten about for most of the novel. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of crime cases, both real and fictional, but it just all seemed unnecessary to me. However, the one thing that stood out to me was the mental illness rep. Our main character, Aza (yes there’s a meaning behind her name), has an OCD and anxiety disorder and also displays self-harm tendencies so beware of trigger warnings. Aza experiences a lot of invasive thoughts that I found to be very realistic as I live with mental illness myself. Overall, I have a lot more thoughts about this book but I’ll keep this to the mini review it is supposed to be.


Have you read any of these? If so, what were your thoughts?
Let us know in the comments!
Lots of Love,
Angharad @
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The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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“Bad fates do not always follow those who deserve them.”

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Angharad’s Thoughts
I have never been one for fairytale stories. I spent my childhood years reading both the Goosebumps series (seriously what happened to those books??) and any crime thriller that my mother brought home from the library and because of this, my knowledge of them is shaky. I just know majority of them take place in the woods. However, when I found out that my favourite author was writing a collection of fairytales with the ‘dark’ edge only Leigh Bardugo can create and they take place in the Grishaverse, I preordered the hell out of it. I was not disappointed.

The collection is split into six tales and each is paired with its own beautiful, amazing illustrations – both as page decorations and a final art spread at the end of each story. Despite loving them all, my favourite would have to be a tie between Ayama and the Thorn WoodWhen Water Sang Fire and my least favourite was Little Knife. Like Leigh states in her author’s note, these stories are loosely based on the fairytales that we all know but despite their dark tones, they are more realistic – the idea that the prince isn’t always the good guy and what makes a monster a monster? Another theme that I found to be very strong throughout these tales was Leigh’s feminist beliefs. This book was full of so many diverse and complex female characters and female friendships. Classic tales such as The Little Mermaid and The Nutcracker are turned on their heads and reimagined in new and spectacular ways and despite being short stories, they were still full of twists and turns and you never knew who was going to be the hero or villain of the story. What was constant, however, was the message that each story contained. You can just imagine our beloved Grisha characters reading these stories as children and growing up with their messages instilled.

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Overall, I think I never fell in love with fairytales because they never seemed real enough – even to my young mind. As we all unfortunately learn, life isn’t a fairytale, the bad guy isn’t always the bad guy and the hero isn’t always what they seem and this little collection that I will cherish for years to come just shows that. These stories cater to the people who look just that bit deeper into these stories and see the darkness that peeks from within. What if the children didn’t wander from the path and find danger but actually find solace? What if the monster was actually the victim and the prince only thought of his greed? What happened to the girls who chose their own destiny over those that were decided for them? All of these questions are answered within the pages of The Language of Thorns and they are all brought to life by Sara Kipin’s illustrations. Truly a full five stars from me.

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Becky’s Thoughts
Unlike Angharad, I have always absolutely adored fairytales (although, especially these days, I do tend to root for the villain – even when I know what’s going to happen to them). Leigh states in her author’s note that the six stories in The Language of Thorns are inspired by fairytales that are known around the world, but turned on their heads – and I have to say, I was way more invested in Leigh’s versions of these classic tales.
My favourites were also Amaya and the Thorn Wood – a story which took inspiration from Beauty and the Beast and to an extent, A Thousand and One Nights, it focused on the ideas behind what makes someone a monster; and When Water Sang Fire, an absolutely enchanting story inspired by The Little Mermaid (and also a sort of origin story for one of my favourite villains – and featuring another of my favourite villains, but I won’t say any more on that). I also really liked The Too Clever Fox and The Witch of Duva (a retelling of Hansel and Gretel) which both included clever twists that I definitely didn’t anticipate.

I would say that the underlying theme throughout all six stories is definitely the idea of what makes a villain evil, what makes them monstrous, and it was definitely all about looking beyond outward appearances to the monster hidden beneath the princely face or the seemingly caring father figure. The stories in The Language of Thorns are how fairytales should be written in a feminist world that understands that happy endings aren’t all that they seem, that the hero of the story isn’t always beautiful, and that those who are called monstrous are often not the ones you need to fear. I absolutely adored this anthology of fairytales set in one of my favourite fictional worlds, and honestly would opt to read these to my future children over the classics that they’re based around.

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What did you think of this collection?
Let us know in the comments!
Love,
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