A new Wells and Wong mystery is fast becoming the highlight of my reading calendar. This is one of my favourite series and each book is a genuine deliA new Wells and Wong mystery is fast becoming the highlight of my reading calendar. This is one of my favourite series and each book is a genuine delight to read. I usually devour them in one sitting - the perfect bun break treat!
The newest title is set around Christmas time in the gorgeous setting of snowy Cambridge. Hazel and Daisy are spending Christmas with Daisy's Aunt and her brother Bertie. They have no expectations beyond exploring their ancient surroundings and enjoying buns galore in Fitzbillies. Well, that's not entirely true, as the two girls always have a nose for any possible mystery that might arise! Instead of a quiet Christmas with family, they stumble upon a murder mystery after a terrible incident occurs. Determined to investigate and solve the crime, they face competition from the Junior Pinkertons, Alexander and his friend George, who want to prove that they are the best detective society in Cambridge.
As usual, the mystery is fiendishly clever and such fun to untangle. There are lots of clues presented along the way and suspects identified but I'm always in awe of Daisy and Hazel and their powers of deduction. They make a great team. People always seem to underestimate a pair of girls, which plays in their favour and allows them to investigate all kinds of different avenues. Stevens, also uses this to highlight the differences between the two genders and the fact that even in the 1930s, women were still in an inferior position and treated as such by men.
I loved the Cambridge setting. I've never visited but would love to, so it was great getting to live vicariously through Daisy and Hazel. Plus the ancient buildings sound gorgeous and are the perfect place for a murder mystery to occur.
A five star fabulous read, I was head over heels for 'Mistletoe and Murder'. I love the fact that it took place during my favourite holiday season and I can't wait to see our intrepid duo back together again for their next mystery. This is one series that I hope will go on and on and on. ...more
This book blew me away! I started it on a two hour train journey and became so engrossed that all I wanted to do wasThe BEST! Everyone needs to read.
This book blew me away! I started it on a two hour train journey and became so engrossed that all I wanted to do was stay on the train, travel home for another two hours and finish it. Like it's aptly named title, it crept up on my slowly, enveloping me in a cloud of intrigue and suspense. I felt like my heart was stuttering along with the frayed nerves of the main characters, as foreboding wrapped itself around me. After the first few chapters, I thought that this was going to be a pretty good book and then suddenly it turned into dynamite in my hands. No one could have shaken me from the spell I was under.
Now I'm telling myself that I must be mad not to have read anything by C.J. Skuse before. Have I been living under a rock?! I have a burning need now to go and buy all of her other books and have a mini-marathon.
I should have known from the tagline 'Malory Towers meets I Know What You Did Last Summer' that I was going to fall hook, line and sinker for this story. The book suggests that there is a monster living inside all of us - although with some it is let out by choice and with others by necessity. I am also a sucker for stories set in boarding schools and Skuse presents such an appealing view of this one (monsters aside). Bathory School for Girls is set in a picturesque location. There are wonderfully long summer days with trips outside, games and swimming. There are Hogwarts style houses and secret hidey holes. It also has it's very own legend stalking the grounds - the Beast of Bathory.
The main character Natasha, or Nash as she is known, hopes to become Head Girl. She and a small group of others are left behind at the school for Christmas. Nash's parents are unable to come for her because her older brother is missing abroad. A blizzard means that they are trapped at the school, but although they can't leave, something or someone wants to get in.
Tense, nail-biting and with one hell of a twist, 'Monster' was my kind of book. It had an ending that left me wide-eyed and open-mouthed and was deliciously dark and scary. The suspense kept being ramped up and up until I almost couldn't bear to find out what was going to happen next. A book hasn't left me on the edge of my seat like that for a long, long, time. Sheer brilliance and one of the best YA thrillers I've ever read. Don't hesitate to grab yourself a copy of 'Monster'. You won't regret it. ...more
The Shadow Cabinet’ is the third book in the Shades of London series. I thought this was the concluding part but judging by the ending, there is stillThe Shadow Cabinet’ is the third book in the Shades of London series. I thought this was the concluding part but judging by the ending, there is still more in store for Rory and co. I do think that the overall storyline could have been wrapped up in three books but Maureen Johnson obviously has more twists and turns up her sleeves.
The story picks up after the events of ‘The Madness Underneath’, with Stephen in hospital and Rory expelled from school. Things begin to get very strange as she starts to unravel the truth about what is going on beneath the streets of London. It was strange not seeing Rory at school and actually I missed that a lot in this book. I always enjoyed seeing her trying to maintain a normal school life with her newfound abilities and I felt that this offered an air of reality about proceedings. It took a bit of getting used to not having that feature as part of this instalment. At the same time, I did enjoy following Rory through the streets of London and visiting some very familiar landmarks.
Now, it’s a long time since I read the previous books in this series, so I felt like I needed a recap at the start and that’s just what I got. That helped to ease me back in and caught me up with everything I needed to know about the plot and the characters. I will admit that I got a little lost at times with some of the paranormal elements of the story but Maureen Johnson did a good job of steering things back on track and sucking me back in again.
Lots of terrible things happen in the book and the characters don’t always get what they want but I think this is reflective of life in general. It also helped to keep me on the edge of my seat because I had no doubt that just about anyone could meet a sticky end if the plot called for it.
The ending packed a real punch and definitely left me wanting more. I honestly have no idea what will be thrown at the characters next but it's exciting waiting to find out. ...more
This is the second book in the series about main character Alyssa and the girls of St Jude’s Academy. Alyssa’s photographic memory comes in handy whenThis is the second book in the series about main character Alyssa and the girls of St Jude’s Academy. Alyssa’s photographic memory comes in handy when a local girl dies and she begins to find unusual links between the two of them. She’s unable to resist investigating the death, when she starts to receive taunting clues and messages, indicating that someone is playing a taunting game of cat and mouse with her.
This series reminds me so much of the TV show ‘Unforgettable’ which is about a female detective with perfect memory recall. This is a trait which Alyssa shares and makes each mystery even more interesting because you know that even the smallest detail could be the one that breaks the puzzle and solves the case. There are several passages throughout the book where Alyssa has to think back on things that have happened or conversations that she has had with people. I always try to pay careful attention to these because I’m desperate to spot the clues that are vitally important.
Interspersed with the murder mystery, are scenes between Alyssa and her boyfriend Jack, who is still as adorable as ever. She is definitely one lucky girl!
The ending of the book was so surprising! I thought it was incredibly well potted and it really got me thinking hard to try and put all the clues together. I love books which are so full of twists and turns that by the end I still have no idea who might be responsible. This conclusion definitely provided a lot of shocks.
I’m not sure if Lucy Carver is planning another book about Alyssa but I hope so because this is shaping up to be a fantastic YA series, featuring lots of my favourite things to look for in a story – drama, intrigue and mystery with a fab boarding school setting and a great cast of characters. ...more
Brilliant opening prologue but although the story was good, it didn't grab me as much as I thought it would and I wasn't a big fan of many of the charBrilliant opening prologue but although the story was good, it didn't grab me as much as I thought it would and I wasn't a big fan of many of the characters.
I think the description of Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars is a slight exaggeration. Not in the same class....more
This is James Dawson's third book and his scariest one yet. You'll be afraid to be home alone after reading this!
The story is set at a local girls' boThis is James Dawson's third book and his scariest one yet. You'll be afraid to be home alone after reading this!
The story is set at a local girls' boarding school called Pipers Hall. Bobbie, her best friend Naya and local boy Caine are all involved in a silly dare - to look in a mirror and say the name 'Bloody Mary' five times in a row. They believe nothing will happen to them if they do, until one of their friends disappears and they realise that their own fates may hang in the balance.
The book is divided into sections, each corresponding to one of the five days. Bobbie is determined to get to the bottom of things and knows that she has to discover the truth but you're left in a perpetual state of doubt about whether she will be able to do it in time. There's a clock ticking throughout the book and it keeps getting louder and louder.
Super spooky and very scary, 'Say Her Name' is part horror and part ghost story. James Dawson has really stamped his mark on this genre and is the master of making your knuckles turn white and your heart beat faster. He draws the tension and shocks out wonderfully, as you're never quite sure whether something supernatural is really going on or whether there may well be a human hand behind it all.
The climax of the book was frankly terrifying with the suspense cranked up to an all time high. I love the way that even when you think everything is over, you are suddenly, at the very last moment, still left guessing. Deliciously cruel but a brilliant twist all at the same time. ...more
Girls, ghosts and forbidden love. All the ingredients for what should be a stellar read but which for me, didn't quite live up to my admittedly high eGirls, ghosts and forbidden love. All the ingredients for what should be a stellar read but which for me, didn't quite live up to my admittedly high expectations. 'The Lost Boys' was a Wattpad sensation for author Lilian Carmine and this book is the first in a trilogy featuring main character Joey and the handsome but ghostly Tristan.
Described as being perfect for fans of Stephenie Meyer and Lauren Kate, I really wanted to love this title but it didn't sweep me off my feet as I was hoping it would. It focuses on teenager Joey who at the start of the book meets Tristan in the graveyard near to her house. I won't spoil you with what happens next except to say that the two share a very unusual bond which leads to them going off to attend boarding school together. The latter half of the book centres on Joey's friendships with the other boys at the school, as well as her budding romance with Tristan.
My main issue with this book is that I found some of the dialogue to be extremely stilted. This could possibly be because the author is Brazilian. It just didn't flow off the page particularly well, so I found it difficult to become fully immersed in the story or to care hugely about the characters.
Although this title wasn't for me, there are millions of Wattpad readers that have fallen in love with Joey and her boys and would disagree with me, so I would suggest that if it piques your interest, you give it a try for yourself. It will appeal to fans of paranormal romance and ghostly love affairs. ...more
I adore Joss Stirling's books and I was extremely excited about reading 'Storm and Stone' which is her new standalone novel. I wasn't disappointed becI adore Joss Stirling's books and I was extremely excited about reading 'Storm and Stone' which is her new standalone novel. I wasn't disappointed because it was a thrilling read which had me hooked from the start.
The story is set in an English boarding school called Westron. Raven is an American scholarship student at the school. She's ostracised and picked on by everyone until she meets new students Kieran and Joe, who discover that there is something strange going on at the school. After reading the blurb I thought it was going to be a fairly typical high school romance story but I was wrong when part way through it turned into something much more gripping and mysterious.
I loved the relationship between Raven and Kieran. He is clever and incredibly intelligent but Raven definitely makes him lose his head. They fit together so well and function perfectly as a team. The romance in the book is realistic and brilliantly written. A trait of all Joss Stirling books. There's no case of instant love but instead an attraction which simmers away between Raven and Kieran and eventually turns into something more. He feels protective about her and often tries to steer her away from danger, but she is more than capable of looking after herself which she definitely proves at the end of the book.
Joss Stirling is one of my favourite British authors and if you're a fan of her Soulfinders series then you will love this new offering. As I was reading, I could even picture it as a TV series because I think the concept is perfect for the small screen.
Although this was originally billed as a standalone, I've since heard that it could actually be the first in a series about the characters which is excellent news! ...more
'The Tragedy Paper' is a beautifully written, heartbreaking read which is perfect for curling up with on a snowy, wintry day.
The book has a dual narr'The Tragedy Paper' is a beautifully written, heartbreaking read which is perfect for curling up with on a snowy, wintry day.
The book has a dual narrative and is shared between characters Duncan and Tim. Duncan has just moved into Tim's old room at the Irving School when he discovers a stack of CDs which have been left behind for him to listen to. These hold Tim's story which he recounts over the course of the book.
I only meant to read a couple of chapters but before I knew it I was half-way through and a bit like Duncan, desperate to find out more about Tim and what happened to him. Repeated hints are dropped about something terrible which took place the previous academic year and which impacted upon them both. I was intrigued about this and had a few guesses, none of which were even close to the truth.
I really liked both characters. Tim is an albino and has always felt like he is on the sidelines looking in, until he meets Vanessa and falls in love for the first time. Duncan feels strongly about Daisy too but there's something holding him back from being able to fully commit to her and their relationship. Tim's voice is only ever heard on the recordings that Duncan listens to, but his personality and character were still perfectly captured and he came across as the overriding presence in the book. A voice of warning from the past.
I loved the way that the theme of tragedy was interwoven into the plot and how the characters try to define what tragedy actually means. This was an interesting hook to hang the story on and led to some quite deep and personal explorations. I'll admit that I was a little disappointed with the overall ending which felt slightly anti-climatic. There was quite a big build-up but when the revelation came of what had actually occurred I thought it was going to be more earth shattering than it actually turned out to be. This was only a minor complaint however and didn't spoil what was otherwise a tremendous read.
Elizabeth Laban's debut novel is a real treat and I eagerly await whatever she decides to write next!...more
I was looking forward to reading this book as the premise sounded very intriguing. However, I'll admit that I was a little worried that it was going tI was looking forward to reading this book as the premise sounded very intriguing. However, I'll admit that I was a little worried that it was going to veer too much into fantasy for my tastes, so I started it with some trepidation. Turns out that I needn't have worried at all because 'The Holders' was right up my street! It had a gripping plot, plenty of exciting twists and turns and some pretty fantastic characters which all combined to keep me glued to the pages.
The main protagonist Becca, accompanies her younger brother Ryland to his new school, St. Brigids in Ireland. Her brother has always been a bit different and she has always been used to looking after him but once at the school, she discovers the truth about Ryland's ability to hear voices, as well as some unexpected revelations about herself. I thought that the idea of people having special abilities was executed brilliantly and I couldn't wait to find out what each person's gift was. Their history was also fascinating and kept me interested even when there was on occasion quite a lot of information to absorb.
One of my favourite things about this book was the connections between many of the characters. I loved the protective streak that Becca has towards the people she cares about and the way she is fiercely loyal and defensive about them, especially where her brother is concerned. However, what truly made 'The Holders' for me was the bond which develops between Becca and Alex. I could immediately believe in the feelings which they have for each other and I couldn't wait for all of their scenes together. There are so many great moments, including lots of romantic sparks that I was rooting for them the whole way through.
The story was fast-paced and the pages simply flew by. The setting of the book was fantastic and I almost wish that I could have attended a school like St Brigids. It seemed wonderful and had a very homey and welcoming atmosphere about it. There was lots to keep the reader absorbed and I didn't want it to end. It completely exceeded any expectations I had at the start and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to other readers. I desperately want a sequel to the book now! ...more
'United We Spy' is the sixth and final book in the Gallagher Girls series. I was desperate to read it because I love these books but also wanted to sa'United We Spy' is the sixth and final book in the Gallagher Girls series. I was desperate to read it because I love these books but also wanted to savour every page because it was sad saying goodbye to such fantastic characters and such an amazing world. If I could have picked any school to attend then it would have been the Gallagher Academy because the girls are so much more than just school friends, they are sisters as well.
Cammie, Bex, Macey and Liz are still intent on hunting down the members of the Circle of Caven when they discover a terrible truth. Much of the story is focused on their attempt to avert catastrophe as they try to save the world and each other. These girls have come a long way since the series first began. They've always been clever, ingenious and brave but their talents have now been honed and their determination is off the chart. Cammie in particular has really grown over the course of the series. She has faced some terrible things and is still haunted and scarred by what has happened to her but she never loses track of the end goal and won't rest until the Circle has been dealt with once and for all. I love the darker tone that the later books have had and the fact that everything is on the line for Cammie and her friends and family.
'United We Spy' is a thrill-ride of a story and a fitting end to what has been an amazing series. Exciting and compulsive reading, I was hooked and couldn't bear to put this book down. Not even for a second! Danger lurks at Cammie's heels as she puts into action all the training she's received over the years. Instead of surviving on her own, I like the fact that we get to see all the girls working together like a well-oiled team. They all have different strengths but they bring out the best in each other and never lose faith in their abilities.
I really don't know what I'll do without any more Gallagher Girl adventures. I love this series and I'm going to miss Cammie and Zach and all their friends so much. I wonder if Ally Carter could be tempted into writing a spin-off somewhere down the line about their new careers. I would be the first in line to read about that! ...more
'New Girl' by Paige Harbison provides a clever twist on one of my all-time favourite books, 'Rebecca' by Daphne Du Maurier. The action is set in a boa'New Girl' by Paige Harbison provides a clever twist on one of my all-time favourite books, 'Rebecca' by Daphne Du Maurier. The action is set in a boarding school called Manderley where a nameless girl is about to start her senior year. Although I wasn't sure if Harbison was going to be able to capture the magic of the original, she did a pretty good job of recreating some elements of the original but with her own spin.
The story is told through a dual narrative and is shared between the new girl (who as in Du Maurier's tale) is nameless until the very end, and the enigmatic Becca who has gone missing from the school. This was a clever way of allowing the story to unfold because it provided first-hand insight into the new girl's experiences at the school, as well as some important flashbacks contrasting her with fun-loving and popular Becca. The links between the two gradually became more obvious as the story progressed.
I really admired the courage of the main character being able to stand-up to those who bullied her and talked about her behind her back. She could have gone home and admitted defeat but she didn't and actually ended up gaining a valuable experience and learning some important life lessons which put her whole future into perspective.
Some surprising revelations come to light about Becca and what really happened to her and I thought the author created a high level of suspense throughout surrounding the mystery of where she was. I started off having one opinion about her character but this gradually changed as I learnt more about her and discovered insights into her personality and her past.
I definitely want to re-read 'Rebecca' again now and I hope this book inspires others who haven't come across it before to go and pick up a copy. I never would have thought of transposing the plot onto a school setting so loved Paige Harbison's idea. Although I didn't particularly connect with the characters and I'm not always a big fan of books about mean girls, I enjoyed the twist on a classic and found the story entertaining and on the whole enjoyable. ...more
There's action and adventure, as well as mystery and intrigue around every corner as the Gallagher Girls return in the fifth instalment of the series.There's action and adventure, as well as mystery and intrigue around every corner as the Gallagher Girls return in the fifth instalment of the series. Take a deep breath now because this book will take you on a rollercoaster ride full of non-stop excitement.
Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series is one of my favourites. She can't write them fast enough for me! Each book has only got better and better and as one layer is peeled back and a secret revealed, there's always another one waiting just underneath. These books are compulsive reading so before you start 'Out of Sight, Out of Time' make sure that you've cleared your schedule for the rest of the day.
After a huge bombshell at the end of book four, I was dying to catch up with Cammie and co and find out what was going to happen to them next. There's no going back to normal for Cammie however who finds that she's been awol for the whole summer with no memory of what really happened to her or where she was during that time. It's up to her and her friends to piece things together even if it means remembering something terrible.
Ally Carter has the art of suspense down to a tee. The whole way through I was on the edge of my seat wondering where Cammie was going to end up next and what she was going to discover. Just as she was eager and impatient to regain her memories, I was equally as keen to find out too. With the threat of the Circle of Cavan hanging over her, she's determined to protect her family and friends no matter the cost, but this is one fight that they're not going to be left out of.
At times I wasn't sure who could be trusted in the story but that only added to the sense of danger which is present the whole way through. The ending was truly shocking and Ally Carter surprised me yet again with her bold choice of plot twists.
This was a fantastic read and a superb addition to the series. Roll on book six! ...more