Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Series: N/A
Publication: 9th February 2017 by Penguin (Originally published in 2014)
Genre: Fiction, humour

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

My Thoughts (2)

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Thoughts

I went into this with no expectations or knowledge of the book (or TV series) at all, and was just blown away!

So much happens! I feel like either I can’t talk about any of it otherwise I’ll have to talk about all of it. The three women are all at different crossroads in their lives but the one thing the all have in common is that their children are all starting the same kindergarten. The book flicks between the three different mothers; Madeline, Celest and Jane. It also flicks between their stories and the present, where members of the school community are being interviewed about a murder, except we don’t know who has been murdered or who is involved.

It was one of those books that you pick up and before you know it, you’re over half way though and it’s dark outside. It’s full of mystery, drama and hilarity. Definitely worth picking up!

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t

35fed-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. This week’s topic is “ Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t”.

Most of these are well know so I’m just going to put the picture up and not any detail.

Untitled design (1)

What series have you yet to start?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Series: N/A
Publication: 13th July 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book written by a person of colour.

My Thoughts (2)

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts

When Dimple met Rishi… she threw a drink in his face and ran away.

I have seen this book literally everywhere, and with good reason. This is one of those cute summer contemporary romance novels, plus it is diverse and did I mention totally adorable?

Dimple fierce, ambition and into  web development. She is all set for Uni and can’t wait to escape from her mum trying to find her the “Ideal Indian Husband”.  So she’s not too thrilled when Rishi pops up with;

“Hello, future wife,” he said, his voice bubbling with glee. “I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives!”

Although the blurb and synopsis seems to suggest the focus is on the arranged marriage, and this does have a major part, I would say that the focus is more on their developing romance and on the web design course.

If you’re into cute romances, this is for you.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Lady of the Lake by Andrzek Sapkowski

Title: The Lady of the Lake
Author: Andrzek Sapkowski
Series: The Witcher #6
Publication: 16th March 2017 by Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis (Netgalley)

After walking through a portal in the Tower of the Swallow, thus narrowly escaping death, the Witcher girl, Ciri, finds herself in a completely different world… a world of the Elves. She is trapped with no way out. Time does not seem to exist and there are no obvious borders or portals to cross back into her home world.

But this is Ciri, the child of prophecy, and she will not be defeated. She knows she must escape to finally rejoin the Witcher, Geralt, and his companions – and also to try to conquer her worst nightmare. Leo Bonhart, the man who chased, wounded and tortured Ciri, is still on her trail. And the world is still at war.

Daz’s Thoughts

The finale to the epic fantasy series, The Witcher. The story takes place straight after the events of the Tower of the Swallows and sees the entire Witcher universe committing itself to a great war. Geralt is engulfed in his depression of losing Ciri and Yennefer and throws himself into helping anybody else who is in desperate need of ‘killing monsters’. Meanwhile, Ciri is battling against those who are trying to force her destiny upon her.

The story is a fitting end to the entire series. Although it starts off at a bemusing pace (time travel and alternate universes) all of these begin to knit themselves together and forms the blanket of a world that is closing in on Tolkien. There are still elements of the politics behind war and you begin to learn about the true horrors that befall countries during these times.

I must say that there are parts that I could’ve done without, for example I didn’t need the part about the rapey old man in the woods. However, I am still very happy with this story being the ending to a great story and it ends in a way that should close storylines behind itself.

Daz’s Rating

5-stars

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Truth or Dare

Title: Truth or Dare
Author: Non Pratt
Series: N/A
Publication: 1st June 2017 by Walker Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary.

My Thoughts (2)

A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian’s “writer to watch” Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

My Thoughts

You know those books where you put them down and you find yourself thinking about them? This is one of those books. I was halfway through and almost got hit in the face by a tennis ball because I was thinking about this book.

The book is one story with two sides. Literally. I loved the way that you read Claire’s side first then had to flip the book over to read Sef’s side. Seeing the story from the two different perspectives really helped to understand where the characters were coming from and the choices they made.

Non Pratt just has this way with words. This book may be aimed at teenagers but it it’s definitely for all ages. Non managed to explore a huge range of different subjects – including social media, racisim and disability – without them becoming the main focus and still somehow making it relatable.

Claire and Sef’s relationship was just beautifully written. I’ve read so many books recently where the relationships have been out of the blue or really quick but this wasn’t anything like them. The entire relationship just felt so natural and realistic. I found myself smiling at so many points, and doing my foot wiggle that I do when I’m loving a book.

I really must insist that you all go and read this book.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1)

Title: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #1
Publication: 8th March 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Genre: YA, Fantasy.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A books from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

My Thoughts

I told my self I wouldn’t do this. I told myself I wouldn’t read another Cassandra Clare book. I told myself I wouldn’t put myself through the disappointment. Then I ending up buying it. I told myself I wouldn’t read it. I told myself it could just sit on my shelf to complete my collection. Then I read it.

I don’t know why I did it. I dislike Cassandra Clare. She blatantly takes things from other people’s books and says they’re inspiration (see my review on The Iron Trial). She is a fan pleaser, and I freaking hate that. Her fan pleasing completely destroys what was good about the books (See review of TMI).

Firstly, this is meant to be a stand alone series. But if you haven’t read any of her other books, don’t read this first. It completely ruins the endings of TID and TMI. I would say all of her books, but I don’t know about The Bane Chronicles, so I would say go ahead and read that before you read this one too.

This book is a whopping 698 pages long. And what happens in those 698 pages? Bugger all. This book is about 400 pages too long. Stuff happens in the first 150 pages and in the pages 450ish -550ish and that’s it. The rest of it is just filler. There’s lots of talking and lots of focus on different characters.

The problem was, there were so many different characters that I didn’t really get attached to any of them. Emma was basically a gender-bend version of Jace, who was sarcastic and made lots of stupid decision like going off without telling her Parabati. She’s confident and a strong female protagonist but I didn’t overly like her. Julian like a mixture of Simon and Clary; family focused, fiercely loyal and with an artistic flare. Marc was a bit more interesting, having returned from the faeries, it was interesting to see his conflict between where his loyalties lied. My favourite character was Cristina because she felt different and there was a bit of mystery there.

What really wound me up about this book was the cameos. Now I know lots of readers would love this but it really got on my nerves. Was there really any need for them to appear? Did they really add anything to the plot other than a constant reminder that they’re there?

One of my saving graces of this book was Emma’s decision at the end. I know what lots of fans reaction will be, and I bet Cassandra will rectify that in later books, but that peaked my interest a bit.

Will I read book 2? I say no. I want to say no. I bet I’ll end up reading it.

My Rating

2-stars

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying

Title: One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Series: N/A
Publication: 30th May 2017 by Penguin
Genre: Fiction, YA, Mystery and Thriller

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A mystery

Synopsis (Goodeads)

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts

Now here’s your assignment: connect the dots. Is everybody in it together, or is somebody pulling the strings? Who’s the puppet master and who’s the puppet? I’ll give you a hint to get you started: everyone’s lying. GO!

When I requested this book, it was described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. Well what’s not to like? Simon’s blog posts reminded me more of Gossip Girl but I love that too!

I don’t read mysteries that often but it’s a genre I really enjoy, especially if I don’t guess the ending. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t guess who it was. The title lied, not only one of them was lying, they all were, and I suspected everyone. Everyone.

 The story is narrated by the four main characters – Bronwyn (The smart one) , Addy (The popular one), Nate (the bad boy) and Cooper (the jock). This meant the pace was pretty quick. Having the four perspectives meant that we got a lot more about each of the character’s backstories, which really fleshed them out and gave them growth. I ended up loving all four of them.

The only reason I didn’t give it 5* was because the ending didn’t sit quite right with me but I can’t really go into detail about that without spoilers. It was still a very enjoyable read.

A marvelous debut book, one that I’m sure I’ll still be remembering for months to come.

My Rating

4-stars

On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

On the Other Side

Title: On the Other Side
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Series: N/A
Publication: July 14th 2016 by Little Brown and Company
Genre: Fiction, Romance, magical realism

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge– A dual-timeline novel

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.

Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .

On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, this is a love story like no other from everyone’s favourite ‘big sister’, Carrie Hope Fletcher.

My Thoughts

I picked this book up for the beautiful cover and because the premises intrigued me.

I knew the author was a youtuber, and that this is her first novel, so I didn’t go in with overly high expectations. I came out thinking that the whole thing was just a bit sillyI just had so many issues with the book, some of which probably wouldn’t bother other people but just really got on my nerves.

Firstly, those ridiculous names. Evie Snow, Vincent Winter, Colin Autumn, August Summers, Sonny Shine and Clementine Frost. It felt like a a teen who had read how some great authors use names to suggest their character and foreshadowing and had no sense of how to do with subtly.  The characters themselves felt quite two dimensional. Based on the world I don’t understand why she decided to cave to her parent’s demand to support her brother if he was disinherited. They’re both adults living in a seemingly accepting society with jobs, which Evie easily got. Also, why keep with the choice for so long if it is clearly what none of you want? It was partly hard to understand the characters choices because there was no timeline to link it to.

The magical realism was also problematic for me. Firstly, I actually rolled my eyes at “Little Bird”, the white bird they wrote love notes on until it was so full it was a “black” bird. Especially how this bird lived almost fifty years because of their love.

The dove’s wings had become almost entirely black, so he’d started carrying their messages on his back and his chest, but he welcomed them with open wings. No one wanted their love to work more than he did. Their messages of love and kindness gave him strength and a purpose.

The tree was bizarre and although was explained I don’t really feel it fitted in with the book. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, just wait for that delight… I just personally feel the whole magical realism should have been removed.

Vincent was described as being bi-sexual and her brother as being gay. Although I liked this as it was inclusive and wasn’t too predominant, I was also annoyed because I had this bugging feeling that the author only added it because she knew her audience would love it. Vincent being bi-sexual also added literally nothing to the plot.

I just didn’t love this book.

My Rating

2-stars

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Dreamland

Title: Dreamland
Author: Sarah Dessen
Series: N/A
Publication: 1st September 2000 by Puffin Books
Genre: YA,

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge– A book set in a fictional location

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Wake up, Caitlin

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else–her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

My Thoughts

Whoa, that was not what I was expecting. It was so much better.

I’ve been in a reading slump for a while, every book I’ve picked up I’ve struggled with reading more than 20 pages. Sarah Dessen is an author I can always rely on to pull me out of that slump. Usually her books are somewhat serious at times, with some serious themes weaved in but Dreamland took me completely by surprise. The story begins with Caitlin being left by her perfect older sister who has run away from her family, and Harvard, for a boy. Leaving her in a strange place, Caitlin tries to find herself in high school and dating a popular guy. I’m really reluctant to divulge any more as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else.

Like her other books, this was a really easy read. Before I knew it, i was half way through the book. Some elements were a bit slow but the second half was really engaging. For some I imagine the second half would be more difficult for them to read because of the subject matter.

I would liked to have had more of a background on Rogerson, especially his family and for her best friend to have been fleshed out a little bit more.

Another great YA book, especially for fans of Sarah Dessen

My Rating

4-stars

The Darkest Magic by Morgan Rhodes

The Darkest Magic (Spirits and Thieves, #2)

Title: The Darkest Magic
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Spirits and Thieves #2 (Book One Review)
Publication: 28th June 2016
Genre: YA, Fantasy,

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge– A book set in a fictional location

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Modern-day Toronto: Sisters Crystal and Becca Hatcher are reunited after reclaiming the Bronze Codex and narrowly escaping death. They have no one to trust but each other, and the only thing keeping them safe is the book that sent Becca’s spirit to Ancient Mytica–the same book that their enemies would kill them for.

Ancient Mytica: Maddox grapples to keep his newly discovered powers under control, while the ruthless goddess Valoria hunts him down.

Modern-day Toronto: Farrell embraces his dark side as he unwittingly falls further under the spell of Markus, the mastermind leader of the nefarious Hawkspear Society, who will stop at nothing to find Crys and Becca–and the remarkable book in their possession.

My Thoughts

I loved the Falling Kingdoms series and was kicking myself that I held off reading the first book of this series for so long as I enjoyed it just as much. That said, I was really disappointed with this book. I found it a real struggle to push through the story. It took me weeks to finally complete it as I found myself loosing interest in some of the characters and the story line.

I really enjoyed Farrell’s POV, he’s definitely my favourite character. I loved seeing how he dealt, and is continuing to deal with, the evil within. I would love for him to turn out to be the villain in the end. I always look forward to his chapters. I’m not so keen on Becca or Maddox but I’m hoping due to the events in this book that their story line with grow on me.

I’m hoping this book is struggling with middle book syndrome. I will definitely be reading the next book, as it is the final book in the series, and pray that it end on a strong note.

My Rating

3-stars