Almost Adults – Ali Pantony

45863509._SY475_Mackie, Edele, Alex and Nat are four best friends, desperately trying to navigate their 20s together. With breakups, new jobs, new relationships and major decisions, growing up can get messy, but at least they have each other.

As a 24-year-old woman, Almost Adults is one of the most relatable books I’ve read. It is funny and charming, and a very accurate representation of female friendship, with a lot of emphasis on the importance of having people you can rely on in your lowest moments.

The story follows all four women, as they each try to get through their own individual dramas. Nat, dealing with a breakup and learning to live on her own; Edele, trying to find a job and move out of her mum’s house; Mackie, deciding whether she’s ready to make a big move for her career; and Alex, watching the breakdown of her best friend’s relationship and becoming convinced that her own boyfriend is cheating on her. These are very realistic problems and the girls all have believable personalities, so it felt like I could have been reading about real people.

My one criticism would be that the girls didn’t have distinct voices. Although each clearly had their own narrative features to make it clear whose perspective each chapter was written from, the actual voices sounded the same across the whole book. I would have liked for the girls to have had more individual voices to distinguish between them, rather than just narrative methods such as lists, etc.

I would definitely recommend this book to all 20-something women looking for an enjoyable read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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War of Mist – Helen Scheuerer

44780383._SY475_Following on from the events in book #2, Reign of Mist, tensions are running high across the realm. Bleak and Casimir are searching for the one thing that might give them an advantage over Ines, while the others are preparing for battle.

The Oremere Chronicles has been one of my all-time favourite fantasy series. It has everything: magic, action, humour, spunky characters, giant wild cats, friendship, betrayal, epic battles, a little bit of romance, fantastic world building and great plot development.

There are so many strong female characters. These books are very feminist and filled to the brim with powerful women, but the male characters aren’t pushed to the side or forgotten. Every single character brings something significant to the story, and they all have unique, memorable personalities despite there being so many different characters. I could go on for hours about each character individually, but my best advice would be to read the book and fall in love with them yourself.

There is a teeny bit of romance, but that is very much a minor element in the plot. It was actually a cross between very enjoyable and quite frustrating because I shipped everyone in this book. Especially Bleak – I shipped her with almost every other character: Dash, Bren, Fiore, Cazimir, Henri, even Swinton once or twice. To be honest, I think I’d have been happy with any outcome on that front.

Being the third and final part of the trilogy, the story comes to an eventful – and at times traumatic – climax. I won’t spoil it, but prepare to weep in between moments of triumph.

Overall, this series was truly excellent. I loved every second of all three books, and War of Mist did not let the series down at all. It might even have been my favourite. I can’t wait to see what Helen Scheuerer comes up with next.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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No One Home – Tim Weaver

42960047On Halloween night, the nine residents of Black Gale get together for a dinner party. The next morning, the whole village has vanished. There are no bodies, no clues and no evidence, so the families of the disappeared residents hire an investigator, David Raker, to find out what happened. But is Raker looking for nine missing people, or nine dead bodies?

No One Home is the tenth David Raker book, but it works perfectly well as a standalone novel.

The premise of this book was so intriguing, I was really excited to start reading it, but I lost interest very quickly. I actually almost DNF’d this book a couple of times, but I don’t like not finishing books so I stuck with it in the hopes that it would grow on me. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I can’t pinpoint the exact reasons why I didn’t enjoy this story. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the writing, and the plot was sound and should have been exciting. But I just wasn’t drawn in. I didn’t feel any kind of connection at all with Raker or any of the other characters. After a certain point, I even stopped being interested in finding out what happened to the residents of Black Gale.

It’s probably worth a shot – it has very high ratings from other readers. This one just wasn’t for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Reign of Mist – Helen Scheuerer

39216289.jpgIn book #2 of The Oremere Chronicles, it is all kicking off. As more people learn the truth behind the deadly mist and King Arden’s treachery, war is brewing. Scattered across continents, Bleak and her friends are forced to choose sides, forge their own alliances and prepare themselves for the battles ahead.

I adored book #1 in this series, Heart of Mist, so I was really excited to get straight on with reading book #2. It didn’t disappoint.

At the start of the book, all our main players are separated and spread out across the continents. This meant there were a few different threads to follow simultaneously. Initially, I was concerned that this would make the story too complicated (and one of my favourite things about this series has been the relationships between characters, so splitting them up was not so good), but fortunately the whole gang was reunited fairly quickly and all my concerns were dispelled.

The plot progresses much quicker in this book. There are a lot of characters to follow and a lot of politics to cover, but none of it felt rushed or lacking in detail. The pacing was pretty much spot on to keep the story moving and maintain excitement. The story really comes to life through Scheuerer’s brilliant writing, fantastic characters and strong world-building.

I haven’t enjoyed a YA fantasy series this much in so long.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Naturally Tan – Tan France

41223314Naturally Tan is a funny, sassy and touching memoir from Tan France, star of Netflix’s Queer Eye, in which he tells his origin story alongside fashion guidance and general life advice.

As a gay, South Asian Brit – one of the few people of colour growing up South Yorkshire at the time – Tan has a perspective on life which isn’t often shared in the media or in popular culture. Although there is, as you’d expect, some unpleasant (to put it mildly) racial abuse, Tan’s natural charm and humour shines through the writing, which keeps some serious topics light without trivialising them at all.

I really loved the way this book is written. The style is super conversational, and it genuinely feels like Tan is speaking directly to the reader. His stories about growing up, trying out every job under the sun, and meeting the love of his life are interesting and well told, and I absolutely loved the inclusion of Public Service Announcements and ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ about style and dating. Naturally Tan also has some really cute chapter illustrations which add a little touch of detail to really help make it a special book.

I knew next-to-nothing about Tan before picking up this book. I found him funny on Queer Eye, but I never would have said I was a fan. I am now.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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A Symphony of Echoes – Jodi Taylor

43450940.jpgIn Book #2 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s, things are as crazy as ever. The St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research are an organisation of historians who travel back in time in order to carry out research and make sure that History stays on track. In the second instalment of the series, Max and the team visit Victorian London in search of Jack the Ripper, observe the murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett, undertake the recovery of some dodos with no survival instincts, and make a risky visit to Mary Queen of Scots in an attempt to prevent an old enemy from changing the course of History.

A Symphony of Echoes is fast-paced and action-packed. Multiple adventures are stuffed into one book, so it’s a bit full-on but very well done and so much fun. I really love the quirky humour and adventures of these books; there really isn’t a dull moment. The characters are incredibly likeable and reasonably well developed, and I enjoy the time jumps. The historical elements seems to be reasonably well researched and accurate, up to the point where accuracy becomes irrelevant due to the actions of the characters.

My only criticism would be that there’s too much going on. The plot is a bit hard to follow because it really doesn’t stop, and story-development takes a clear back-seat behind the humour and wackiness. That being said, it’s such a fun read that none of that really matters.

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My Name is Monster – Katie Hale

40951767.jpgThe Sickness and the bombs have killed off the last of humanity, leaving only Monster, emerging from the arctic vault that kept her alive. Believing she is now alone in the world, Monster washes up on the coast of Scotland and begins the long journey back to her parent’s house. One day, she finds a girl. Naming the girl after herself and changing her own name to Mother, she tries to teach the girl everything she knows. But young Monster has her own desires that are very different to those of the Mother who made her, but didn’t create her.

The dynamic of this book – being a mother and young daughter in a post-apocalyptic landscape – bears some similarities to Cormack McCarthy’s The Road. It isn’t doing anything particularly new, but it is well-written and convincing enough to remain engaging throughout.

The back-story was extremely vague which I didn’t love. The causes of the apocalypse are only alluded to, in reference to the Sickness and the war, but the full story of what happened is never told. In some cases, this can add a level of intrigue or highlight that the point of the story is now not then, but in this case it felt more like the author just hadn’t really thought that much about that part of the story.

However, I did enjoy Monster’s story. Especially the first half, before she finds Monster Jr and becomes Mother. I found it difficult to empathise with either character. They both felt quite one dimensional, despite the quite obvious intention for them to be complex, but it was a good read nonetheless.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Heart of Mist – Helen Scheuerer

34865933All Bleak wants is a cure for her power. The ability to hear the thoughts of others may seem like a gift, but when the only way to drown it out is through copious amounts of alcohol, it’s more of a curse. Despite never telling anyone of her abilities, Bleak is suddenly snatched from her home by the King’s Army and summoned to the capital. But the journey doesn’t quite go according to plan as Bleak is rescued by the queen of a nation if female warriors, the Valian Kindred. Saved from one form of captivity and pulled straight into another, Bleak finds herself right in the middle of a power-struggle, with a much bigger role than she ever could have anticipated.

It’s really difficult to guess which YA/New Adult Fantasy books are going to be good, and which are going to be mediocre. As a serious fantasy lover, I haven’t come across many that I thought were bad, but truly great ones are few and far between. Heart of Mist is one of them. I absolutely loved it, from cover to cover.

I pretty much loved every character. Bleak was probably my least favourite, but she’s got tough competition and, with the full cast supporting her, she’s a fantastic protagonist. I adored Fiore from the moment we meet him and thought he would be my instant favourite, but then we were introduced to the Valians and suddenly everyone was my favourite. Even Swinton really grew on me as the story progressed.

The plot is fairly slow paced, but because the characters were so fantastic and I know there’s more to come in the series, I was totally fine with the pacing. The story has a good amount of depth to it, with the main story line being backed up by a couple of mysteries which I’m really looking forward to finding out more about.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls – Ian Doescher

42060068.jpgMean Girls, in the style of Shakespeare. What’s not to love?

“On Wednesdays, we array ourselves in pink!”

I’ll admit I’m not actually familiar with Shakespeare. I know his work, I’ve seen some of the film-adaptations, but I’ve never actually read one of his plays. However, I am vaguely familiar with the general Shakespearean style, and I know Mean Girls almost word-for-word. This meant I found this book really easy to read, and I would definitely recommend it to other readers who might know the film better than they know the bard.

This book is hilarious. It is the movie, in it’s entirety, re-written into a Shakespearean play, complete with stage directions and iambic pentameter. I really, really enjoyed seeing how the most iconic lines were going to appear: “Say, is thy muffin butter’d well? Shall I find a helpful volunteer, Who would most gladly butter up thy muffin?” 

It’s really well done, with references to original Shakespeare scattered throughout, while staying completely true to the movie. The illustrations and pretty pages separating each act were a nice touch. Such a fun read – 10/10.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Have You Seen Her – Lisa Hall

42701375.jpgOn Bonfire Night, Anna takes her eyes off Laurel for one second. That’s all it takes for her to disappear. Hours pass, and then days, and Laurel still hasn’t been found. Her parents, Fran and Dominic, are frantic and cannot stop the cracks in their relationship from growing, while Anna has her own secrets to hide. Someone knows what happened to Laurel, and they’re not telling.

This is one of the most believable thrillers I’ve read. The characters and the plot (including all the twists) were completely logical and plausible. Mystery and thriller novels usually have some inevitable eye-roll moments, but Have You Seen Her manages to avoid that.

It is very well written. The story is gripping and easy to read, making it hard to put down. It’s told from Anna’s perspective (the nanny), who has a really strong narrative voice. She’s likeable enough to generate empathy, but is still mysterious and suspicious enough to stay interesting. And the ending is so satisfying.

I thought the characters were pretty good. Everyone seems guilty in some way, so it was difficult to guess who was actually responsible for Laurel’s disappearance. Fran and Dominic were awful in their own ways but entirely realistic, while Anna was an interesting main character. My only criticism is that Dominic was arguably too hateable. I wanted him to be guilty.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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