Monday, 22 October 2018

Blackbird - Book Review


Blackbird - Book Review
N.D Gomes
YA Mystery 
UK Publisher: HQ Young Adult

Synopsis:

My name is Alex. I am fifteen years old, and I don’t know where my sister is. Or if she will ever come back. 

On New Year’s Eve 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead. The same day Olivia McCarthy went missing from a small coastal village in Orkney.

Now her younger sister Alex is on a mission to find out just what happened to Olivia. But does she really want to know all the answers?

Review:

This is a quick paced thriller, and one that I enjoyed despite both the synopsis and opening lines being misleading.

 “On New Year’s Eve 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead.” I know writing craft books urge writers to pull in readers from the get go, but while certainly intriguing, the blackbirds are never mentioned again and are in no way connected to the story. Therefore, if you were expecting a paranormal, witchy sort of read, think again. This book is a straight up thriller - and a good one - if you don’t let unmet expectations spoil it for you. 

Taking away the blackbirds, the story follows fifteen year old Alex and the search for her missing older sister, Olivia. As you can see, not such a snappy sounding read after all, but still one I enjoyed. 

The book brings with it a huge emotional impact. The reader is taken through the devastation of loss and sees how it rips through a once happy family, and the stages of grief, depression and solitude that every family member experiences. I thought each element was done very well, and I found myself following along with the family’s ever growing urgency for answers. 

The reader is also given snippets of Olivia’s view point, just a few scenes here and there which I adored. I liked getting to know Olivia’s character and seeing things from her point of view.

I found the detectives backstory a little heartbreaking but liked how it added another layer to the story. I also love how his first name is held back until the very end, and the friendship he and Alex cultivate is particularly moving. Their final scene together really choked me up, but made me smile.

However in terms of plot, the story was fairly predicable. Despite a few red-herrings, one scene about midway through the book cemented the culprit behind it all, and the ending, when it came, was swift and efficient. This really was a fast read and I devoured it in one sitting.

All in all, a nice book for a rainy afternoon. 3 stars!

What are your thoughts? Have any of you read this book? And isn't that cover gorgeous! 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

All the Bookish Things I'm Loving - 2018 Edition


While looking for crabs, my friends stumbled onto this beautiful creature on a beach in Bali ... meanwhile I was house sitting their cat. Just wanted to share as I think its one of the most beautiful pictures I've seen in ages!

All the Book Things I’m Loving 

(2018 edition)

Hey lovely people! It’s been a very long time and what feels like an even longer “no see” since I checked in with the blogging world. 

I would like to say that I’ve been off doing amazing, writer-like things, or travelling the world, but honesty, not so much. 

Instead I’ve been pretty focused on my job and fighting for all the overtime I can get. I gave myself some pretty big financial goals this year and while they are going successfully, everything else I love sort of went on hold (So she says, as if her Goodreads doesn't show 73 books read so far this year!) :P

However book blogging is something I’ve really missed. Its such an awesome community to be a part of and more than anything - I NEED more people in my life with which to gush over pretty covers and awesome stories with :) 

Which is a very long winded way of saying - “Hey guys, I’m back!”

But despite my four measly posts this year, I have found/read a few things I want to share with you all. So in no particular order, here they are :)




Writing Craft books

I’m still plodding away at the second draft of my MG Fantasy (plod, plod, plod) and here are some of the books that have been a big help to me recently:

  • Anything by JAMES SCOTT BELL - "Just Write" is my favourite so far but every book I’ve read by him has been helpful.

  • THE MILE HIGH WORDCOUNT by Rick Smith - really useful exercises to help up your word counts. Works well if you read it alongside Chris Fox’s 5000 WORDS PER HOUR. I sort of mish-mashed the two methods and it really boosted my productivity.

  • THE PROCRASTINATION EQUATION by Piers Steel - while not directly writing related, I found this book insightful. It made me question how I approach writing and helped me build good habits.

Another one I want to shout out isn't a book, but any aspiring writer should definitely check out Susan Dennard's website. It has the best writing advice and she is so transparent about the industry. This woman is the best! And if you do find her advice useful, please consider buying her a coffee or two :)



Young Adult Books

I’ve read quite a lot of books this year, but these are the ones that stood out the most for me. Hopefully some reviews will follow soon :)

  • A GENTLEMANS GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzie Lee

  • HERO AT THE FALL by Alwyn Hamilton. This was book 3 and trust me, you need this trilogy in your life!

  • AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao - I think I loved this so much because I have lived in China almost six years. I just love how the main characters parents were portrayed as its so spot to what I've experienced with traditional Chinese beliefs and culture!

  • THE SPELLSLINGER SERIES by Sebastian De Castell. The characters in this book are just amazing. I fell in love with this series so hard that be warned, I will be mentioning it again with many fan-girl squeals!

  • STARFISH by AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN - not sure what it was, but something about this book had me utterly gripped! Also the best representation of social anxiety I’ve ever seen!



Middle Grade Books

I think because I’m trying to write a MG, I’ve been reading more of these books than I usually would. However MG can be so brilliant and I really wish more people would give them a try!

  • PERIL IN PARIS by Katherine Woodfine. This is a spin off to her SINCLAIR’S MYSTERIES and I love these books so so much. If you haven't read them already, please go start with THE CLOCKWORK SPARROW!

  • MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE SERIES by Robin Stevens. More murder mystery, but I love the cast of diverse characters and the mysteries themselves are pretty hard to work out. There is always some kind of twist!

  • THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON HEART by Stephanie Burgis. This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 and I loved it. Please go read A DRAGON WITH A CHOCOLATE HEART first though - only then can you truly appreciate the characters. 

  • THE POLAR BEAR EXPLORERS CLUB by Alex Bell. Such an awesome adventure.

And finally...

THE BEST PODCAST EVER!

I've followed 88 CUPS OF TEA for a long time, but in my opinion its still the best! Interviews with authors such Sarah J. Maas, V.E Schwab, Victoria Aveyard, Leigh Bardugo and many many more. 

The show's host, Yin Chang, asks great questions and really goes into the details of what goes on behind the scenes with writing life. 

Inspirational and fun, I discovered so many new books from this podcast. It also helps remind me that everyones road to publication is different.

However I'm always on the look out for podcasts similar to 88 Cups of Tea. If you have any recommendations please let me know :)


TALK WITH ME

So how is the bookish world for the rest of you? Any amazing story gems you want to share? What about gold nugget releases you can’t wait for? 

I’ve sincerely missed talking with you all so please let me know what’s been happening in the months I've been silent.

Otherwise speak to you all soon!