Thursday, 13 October 2016


The Try a Chapter tag was created by Malia of Book Paradise and I was tagged by the completely wonderful Bee over at Vivatramp, who you must go and follow immediately if you're not already. The idea is to pick a selection of books and read the first chapter of each, give your thoughts on the first chapter and choose one of the selection to continue on with. I love this premise because it means you can get a taste of books you've been meaning to get to for a while, without too much commitment.

I picked five books to try a chapter of, but you can choose as many or as little as you like. Cogheart and The Wolf Wilder are two middle-grade books I've heard so much about and definitely want to get to at some point this winter. Cherry and The Otherlife are both recent YA releases that I was sent by the publishers and haven't got around to reviewing yet, whereas The End of the World Running Club is an adult book which I'd heard loads of good things about but wasn't sure if it was for me. A couple of the books had really short prologues, so when I say 'first chapter' I'm talking about the first chapter that was more than just a couple of pages. So stay tuned to find out my thoughts...

Cogheart by Peter Bunzl
Lily's life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her? With her friends - Robert, the clockmaker's son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox - Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart... [Goodreads]

The Victorian/steampunk-esque time period had me intrigued straight away and the initial setting of a girl's boarding school reminded me of A Little Princess, which I loved. The writing was really fresh and the first chapter delivered quite a lot in terms of plot and character development and I felt attached to the main character, Lily, almost immediately. I don't read enough middle-grade books and this made me want to jump right in, but I've got four other first chapters to try...

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans. When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves. [Goodreads]

The Wolf Wilder hooked me in immediately, the first sentence was atmospheric and reminiscent of fairy tales:
"Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there was a dark and stormy girl."
The main character Feo was well established and I found the idea of being a wolf wilder really intriguing. Middle-grade novels tend to get right into the plot which I actually really enjoy and this book definitely did that whilst also building the world and the characters quite well. The snowy setting is just my kind of thing and I can definitely picture reading this in the upcoming colder seasons.

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan. Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together... separately. [Goodreads]

This was such a change from the previous two middle-grade books in terms of characters, tone and language that it initially felt quite jarring. I kept finding myself cringing and rolling my eyes, which isn't a particularly good sign, but it might just take some time to get into the tone of the novel. I found the characters quite intriguing and am interested in getting to know them a little more. I'm always wary when YA books approach the topic of sex, in case they handle it badly, but I'm actually quite excited to read a book that is heavily focused on sex as from the first chapter it actually seems quite sex positive. I'm definitely going to carry on with this one but I'll just need to be in the right mood for it.

The Otherlife by Julia Gray
When troubled, quiet Ben begins at the ruthlessly competitive Cottesmore House, school to the richest, most privileged boys, he is befriended by Hobie: the wealthy class bully, product of monstrous indulgence and intense parental ambition. Hobie is drawn to Ben because he can see the Otherlife: a violent, mythic place where gods and monsters roam. Ben has unnerving visions of Thor and Odin, and of the giant beasts that will destroy them, as well as Loki, god of mischief. Hobie is desperate to be a part of it. Years later, Ben discovers his beloved tutor Jason is dead. And he can’t help wondering if Hobie – wild, restless, dangerous Hobie, had something to do with it…

I don't know much about Old Norse myths but that premise has me totally intrigued and it seems like it's going to have a slightly darker edge, which I really like. Not too much was given away in this opening chapter, and I didn't find out enough about the main character to have much connection to him but the introduction of an element of mystery was really intriguing. I think this is going to need my full attention as I get the vibe that it's built on some complex back story so I'm going to pick it up when I have the time to dedicate myself to it properly and read it in a couple of sittings.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker
When the world ends and you find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the country, every second counts. No one knows this more than Edgar Hill. 550 miles away from his family, he must push himself to the very limit to get back to them, or risk losing them forever... His best option is to run. But what if your best isn’t good enough? [Goodreads]

Holy bloody moly, this was one hell of a first chapter. I was immediately hooked, the writing was excellent and the plot got off to an explosive start. I am a bit of a sucker for post-apocalyptic novels so I figured I'd probably enjoy this but I had no idea that the first chapter would be so gripping. I was quite literally gripping the book, my heart racing and I actually got out of the bath after I read the first chapter to tell my boyfriend how good it was. I simultaneously disliked and felt connected to the main character, which is a sign of pretty good writing. I really liked that it was set in Scotland as I feel like I don't read a lot of Scottish-based settings. It mused on the small things that would definitely be part of your thought process if an apocalyptic event was happening and it just felt really real. I immediately knew that this was the book I was going to continue with, and I did and have now pushed it on to my boyfriend to read so we can talk about it, review coming soon!


Overall I really enjoyed doing this tag and think it will probably be something I'll do again in the future when I can't decide what to read. I'm really excited about reading all the books that I picked up and will definitely be getting to them soon.

If you're reading this then I tag you to do this and send me a link once you've done it! I think it's such a great way to try out a few different books, perhaps it'd be an idea to try ones you've had on your shelf the longest to see if you still want to read them?

I specifically tag:
Almost Amazing Grace
Emma's Bookery
Ali Caitrin

Monday, 10 October 2016


Total number of books read: 8
Total number of pages read: 2812
Genres: 1 YA Horror, 4 YA Contemporary, 2 Adult Contemporary, 1 Adult Fantasy.
Nationality of author: 2 USA, 5 UK, 1 Ireland.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | ☆☆☆☆☆
This was the #GGbookclub pick for August and it was my second time reading it. The Night Circus is adult fantasy/magical realsim and I genuinely believe you should go into it not knowing anything. You'll probably be a little confused for most of it but you'll most likely become enchanted with the atmosphere and the magic of the book and you'll enjoy it, maybe you'll enjoy it quite a bit. But don't stop there, wait a while, read a few other books, then go back in for a second reading. It is on this second reading that you'll fall in love. The time line of the book is non-linear, so the second time around it makes much more sense and you'll find little intricacies that you didn't notice the first time. It's so beautifully written, with intoxicating descriptions and wonderful characters - it's become one of my favourite books, and I can't wait to read it a third time.

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy | ☆☆☆.75
This was a July release from Hot Key Books who kindly sent me a copy for review along with With Malice and The Yellow Room. Nothing Tastes as Good is kind of a like a more grown-up version of Jacqueline Wilson's Vicky Angel. It follows Annabel, who may be dead, but she's not gone. She's been assigned as a ghostly helper to her former classmate Julia. Nothing Tastes as Good is about food and control and I think it was really well done. I connected to the characters and I felt their emotions quite deeply. The only thing that let it down slightly was that it was slightly lacking in terms of plot and I think it could have explored the characters more deeply.

With Malice by Eileen Cook | ☆☆☆
Another July release from Hot Key Books, With Malice follows eighteen-year-old Jill who wakes up in hospital to find six weeks of memory missing, her best friend dead and the rest of the world accusing Jill of murder. This was marketed as kind of a thriller, which I don't think it was, it was almost a mystery but it didn't have that edge-of-the-seat feeling to it. However I did find the characters interesting and I think the ending worked well.

The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich | ☆☆
I was kindly sent this book for review from Orion and was immediately intrigued by the premise. Sisters Silla and Nori escape London and their abusive father for their Aunt Cath's large country house on the edge of a mysterious wood. It seems like a perfect haven at first, but as the days go on the trees draw nearer and the girls feel a strange presence in the house. I'm not sure whether I just wasn't in the right mood for this but I was just kind of disappointed. The beginning was promising but it began to really drag towards the middle and I found myself almost skimming by the time it got to the end. It wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be and even it's initial creepy intrigue became quite tenuous by the end. I thought the characters were great, I just think I was expecting something different in terms of the plot.

The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance | ☆☆☆
Another July release from Hot Key Books, The Yellow Room follows Anna who receives a letter from her father's girlfriend, Edie, informing her that her father, who she hasn't seen for years, has died. Anna is feeling distant from her friends, isn't getting on with her mother and is therefore drawn to eclectic, warm Edie. I don't really know what to say about this book, it was well-written and pretty engaging but for me the plot was just lacking something. I found it quite predictable and although I enjoyed it, it didn't wow me.

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss | ☆☆☆☆.75
What if your loved one just stopped breathing and there was nothing you could do to protect them? Exploring this question is just one fact of The Tidal Zone, which follows stay-at-home dad Adam as he struggles to deal with his daughter's collapse at school and the effects of this shocking event on his family.

After seeing Jen's rave review of this book I immediately requested it from Granta books and man, I wasn't disappointed. This might just be the most well-written book I've ever read. It was beautiful and slow and it unfurled and lingered like smoke, I still can't stop thinking about it. I took my time with it, reading it over almost two weeks, and savouring every wonderful sentence. If you're after a fast-paced plot-based novel then this isn't for you, but if you fancy finely drawn characters and excellent musings on loss and family and emotion then read it immediately.

Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi | ☆☆☆☆.5
Seventeen year old Nina likes a drink, but what teenager doesn't? And does it really matter if she wakes up with a hazy memory of the night before? Nina is Not Ok is a dark, raw and unflinching story of addiction which also manages to remain warm and funny and truly human. Nina is such a well-developed character who I couldn't help forming a strong connection to. I couldn't put the book down because I just needed to find out what happened to her. Shappi Khorsandi deals with heavy issues so well and with such grace and humour whilst maintaining the gravitas they deserve. Definitely recommend!

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg | ☆☆☆☆
Foxlowe is the story of life in a isolated commune told from the perspective of a young girl, who believes that the 'family' she lives with are a 'new, better kind of family'. The young girl, Green, is raised alongside two other children by the nine adults in the commune, including the founders Richard and Freya. However, what should be nurturing relationships are all too often abusive and the events that occur in Green's childhood are to impact her for the rest of her life. Foxlowe has a dark, haunting tone which is only enhanced by the main character's innocence and naivety. I found it totally compelling and read it in two sittings. If you enjoyed Emma Cline's The Girls then this is one for you.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Hi my name's Sarah.

I'm 24 nearly 25 and I don't know how I feel about that, I graduated two years ago and only just got a 'proper' job and that's okay, I feel the most content by the sea, whenever I eat chips I have to drink milk with them, I don't ever mix the corner into the yoghurt when I eat Muller crunch corners, I think I'm almost completely intolerant to alcohol, my boyfriend hates my birkenstocks but I don't care, I don't like coffee but I wish I did, I'm pretty obsessed with drag queens, I want to go off the pill because I'm scared of what eight years of taking it might have done to my body, I love pink but I only really wear black, I moved out of my parents' house this year, I'm rewatching CSI from the beginning, I take a lot of selfies and I love a good filter.

This post was inspired by the ultimate inspiration and all-round wonderful human, Grace Latter.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Total number of books read: 3
Total number of pages read: 761
Genres: 2 YA Fantasy, 1 short story collection.
Nationality of author: 1 Ireland, 1 UK, 1 India.

It's been a little quiet around here lately, hasn't it? I started a new job in June so between that and focusing on my health I haven't had a lot of time left for blogging. But I think now that I'm settled in I'm going to try and balance things a little better - so expect some more posts!

Although I haven't been blogging, I've still been reading, so there's quite a lot of reviews to catch up on! Today I'll be tackling the books I read in July - I only read three but they were all pretty great, so let's get into the reviews...

The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy | ☆☆☆
Pushkin Press kindly offered to send me The Wildings for review and I was really intrigued by the concept so of course I said yes! The Wildings is the first book in a series about a group of street cats who roam the alleys of Nizamuddin, Delhi and a mysterious force that shakes up their world, and it's told from the point of view of the cats! I don't think I've ever read a novel from the perspective of animals before so I was really excited to pick this up. I found the plot to be a little slow moving but the character development was strong and I really enjoyed getting to know each of the cats of Nizamuddin. Nilanjana Roy's writing is really strong and it looks to be a great start to a new series.

Treats by Lara Williams | ☆☆☆☆
I first heard about this short story collection from Leena of JustKissMyFrog, who raved about it and I was so pleased when the lovely people at Freight Books sent it to me. Treats is a collection of beautifully written stories focusing on women, dating and relationships and I can honestly say I haven't enjoyed a short story collection this much in a long time. Lara William's writing is dark and delicious and so sharp and witty that it made me want to write, whilst also knowing I could never write something so brilliant.

The Call by Peadar O'Guilin | ☆☆☆☆
Earlier this month I participated in the blog tour for the wonderful The Call by Peadar O'Guilin, which I actually read in August, you can see my stop for the tour here. The Call is a YA fantasy set in a dystopian Ireland, where teenagers are spontaneously 'called' to a dimension called the 'grey land' in which they have to fight for survival. Only 1 in 10 survive. I know what you're thinking, sounds a bit too Hunger-Games-y, but it's definitely not. Don't get me wrong, I love The Hunger Games, but this is a whole different ball game. The Call is so gripping and well written that I devoured it in a single sitting, I couldn't put it down, I had to find out what happened. It's dark and horrifying and so BLOODY INTENSE and I really really enjoyed it. What are you waiting for? Go and read it.

Those were the books I read in July, stay tuned for my August reviews!

Sunday, 4 September 2016


The Call by Peadar O'Guilin
Published by David Fickling Books
Release date: 1st September 2016
Source: David Fickling Books via ED public relations, paperback proof copy.

Goodreads | Hive | Wordery

What if you only had 3 minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down...

Three minutes. 
Nessa, Megan and Anto know that any day now they wake up alone in a horrible land and realise they've been Called.

Two minutes.
Like all teenagers they know that they'll be hunted down and despite all their training only 1 in 10 will survive.

One minute.
And Nessa can't run, her polio twisted legs mean she'll never survive her Call will she?

Time's up.

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the excellent new YA The Call by Peadar O'Guilin! I absolutely adored this book. I went in not really knowing anything about it and not knowing what to expect and it completely blew me away. I read it in one sitting, I rearranged plans to finish this book - it's that good.

Although The Call is a work of fantasy, it grew in Peadar's mind from Ireland's rich and complex history - from folk tales and conquests and whispers of magic. At the heart of the Ireland within The Call, is The Book of Conquests, an almost sacred text that holds details of survivors and in Nessa's mind, the key to survival. But this fictional Book of Conquests is in fact based on a real piece of Irish history.

Here's Peadar himself to tell us more about the real Book of Conquests:


Make sure to follow Peadar on Twitter. The Call is out now online and in all good bookshops!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


It's been such a long time since I've done a favourites post so I thought I'd share with you some of the things that have been making me happy lately :)

01. Tilda Garden Vegetable and Quinoa Wholegrain Rice.
I know this is kind of a weird one, and I have no idea if it's any good for you or not, but damn is it delicious. I got a bunch of these on offer and they just make for a really easy meal with some grilled chicken or my absolute favourite: falafel!

02. Maybelline SuperStay nail varnish in 'Pink in the Park'.
I went on holiday in June (more on that below), and I wanted to paint my nails with something that would last the week so I dug out this Maybelline nail varnish that I got last year. It's a lovely pastel pink and it lasted the whole week with barely any chipping - which is pretty impressive! I've been reapplying it ever since because 1) it makes my hands look more tanned *smirk* and 2) it's the perfect summery colour. I think there's quite a few colours in the SuperStay range now so I'm definitely going to be checking out some more!

03. NYX soft matte lip cream in 'Abu Dhabi'.
Last month I finally managed to get to a NYX counter, the awesome one in Selfridge's no less, and picked up the soft matte lip cream in 'Abu Dhabi'. I was hovering around the counter for ages trying to decide between this and 'Stockholm' but eventually went for 'Abu Dhabi' because it's more of a brown-nude and less peachy. I have quite dark lips anyway so darker nudes just look better on me than pale ones. The formula is AWESOME, it lasts pretty much all day - through eating and drinking - with minimal fading, and it feels really comfortable on the lips. I now need every single other shade *sigh*.

04. Primark lip liner.
This lip liner cost me £1. One. Pound. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?! And it's actually really nice! It's creamy and pretty long lasting and did I mention that its only a quid?!
I don't know the exact shade of this, but there are only a few and they're all really nice so go and check them out!

05. Menorca.
Last month I went on a long awaited and much needed holiday to Menorca with my family and my boyfriend and boy was it amazing. We stayed in an apartment with a sea view and a lovely, blissfully quiet pool and my days were spent lounging in the shade, drinking Fanta Limon and reading all the books. I read five books in 6 days and it was the happiest week I've had in a long time. It already feels like it was years ago and I'm craving another break in the sun!

06. Meridian Cashew Butter.
For twenty four years, for some unknown reason, I'd convinced myself that I didn't like nuts - in any shape or form. Then 2016 came around and I decided, you know what, I should probably actually try some nut products and see if I'm making this whole thing up. And guess what? I was. I actually do like nuts, especially cashews, and especially Meridian Cashew Butter. It's made of 100% organic cashew nuts and I adore it, on toast, with strawberries (sounds weird but it's awesome) and just on a spoon. YUM.

07. Witch Please.
Last but certainly not least is Witch Please. How can I explain this podcast and how much I love it?!
Witch Please is a fortnightly podcast about the Harry Potter world by two lady scholars. At least that's how their website describes it. BUT IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! It's about Granger Danger, print culture, the inexplicable terribleness of the fourth film and DESTROYING THE PATRIARCHY! And magic, of course, you can't forget the magic.
The hosts of the podcast, Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, decided that they wanted to re-read the Harry Potter books and watch the accompanying films and then discuss them in a wonderful mix of literary criticism, hilarity, feminism and awesome sound effects. Have I convinced you yet? Go and listen to it now on your podcast app of choice! You'll be addicted in no time.

Those are the things that have been making me happy lately, what about you? Let me know your favourite thing about June in the comments!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


Total number of books read: 5
Total number of pages read: 1696
Genres: 1 YA Fantasy, 1 adult thriller, 2 YA contemporary, 1 YA mystery.
Nationality of author: 2 UK, 2 USA, 1 Jamaican.

Total cliche right here, but HOW THE HECK ARE WE IN JULY ALREADY?! This year has gone so fast and I'm starting to get worried that I won't reach my Goodreads goal for the year *cries forever*.

But never mind because I am reading some books, albeit a bit slowly. I read five books last month, all in one week, and that was the week when I went on holiday. I don't think I've actually mentioned it around these parts but in June I moved house, interviewed for and started a new job, all in one month - so it was a pretty busy one! My holiday to Menorca was a pleasant relief and I read one physical book and four ebooks - so let's get into the reviews!

The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre | ☆☆☆☆
Deanna Madden has locked herself in her apartment for three years to stop her murderous fantasies from becoming reality. She makes money by being a cam girl, performing online for paying viewers. But a disturbing client and a missing girl force her to re-enter the outside world. Although this is marketed as an 'erotic thriller', I wouldn't really say it's erotica. The discussions of sex and sexual acts are very clinical and matter of fact, they're certainly not typically 'sexy' or erotically charged, and I think this actually worked really well alongside the character development. The plot was slightly clumsy and a bit predictable but it was overall really compelling and I'm intrigued enough by the main character to want to continue with the series.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | ☆☆☆☆
Violet and Finch meet for the first time on top of their high school's bell tower, both contemplating jumping. The two end up working on a school project together and their lives become entwined. All the Bright Places is an emotionally compelling look at love, loss and mental illness. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, I'm always wary of books that contain mental illness as a primary theme, but I think Jennifer Niven dealt with the topic really thoughtfully, although it could definitely be triggering for some - so fair warning there. I thought that the characters were really well developed and I really connected to them. I don't often cry when reading but I came really close with All the Bright Places and it definitely stayed with me long after I finished reading.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon | ☆☆☆
Everything, Everything is about eighteen year old Madeline, who has been confined to her house for most of her life due to a rare illness, which means she's basically allergic to almost everything. Her life is mundane and monotonous until a new family moves next door and she catches sight of their teenage son, Olly. I started reading this almost straight after finishing All the Bright Places which might have actually affected how I felt about this book because I think I was automatically comparing them - and All the Bright Places definitely won out in my mind. Although the characters had so much potential, there wasn't much chance for character development before the narrative was pretty much eclipsed by insta-love. This is one of my least favourite tropes as it just seems rushed and the romance doesn't seem to have any foundation, the characters are just suddenly inexplicably in love. Insta-love is a collection of clich├ęs disguised as plot development and it just feels lazy. Despite that, the plot and the writing were interesting enough to bump Everything, Everything up to three stars, although I definitely didn't love it as much as most people seem to.

V For Violet by Alison Rattle | ☆☆☆.5
Set in London, 1961, V for Violet is a YA historical mystery that follows sixteen year old Violet, who is stuck working in her parents' fish and chip shop, dreaming of a more interesting life. Then one day she meets the handsome rocker Beau, her long-lost brother comes home, and local girls start going missing, including her best friend - suddenly life is a bit too interesting. I absolutely love historical fiction and I thought Alison Rattle's 1960s London was excellently developed - it felt very convincing. The mystery was a bit slow to build but the last third of the novel had me completely gripped and I was ultimately pretty satisfied with the ending. I thought Violet was a really interesting and relatable character and although at times she seemed a bit naive, it's understandable considering the time period.

The main issue I had with V For Violet was that the side characters just weren't developed enough. This might be a personal issue as I'm always interested in the side characters and think that they can add so much to a story. I really think that if the side characters, particularly Violet's family, had been just a little more developed, it would've added so much to the narrative and the intensity of the mystery. Overall, V For Violet was a really enjoyable read and I'd definitely like to read more from Alison Rattle.

Bad Apple by Matt Whyman | ☆☆.5
I got a review copy of this from NetGalley quite a while ago so by the time I got to reading it on holiday I couldn't remember what it was about, so I went in completely blind. This is something I usually enjoy doing but with Bad Apple it was a pretty bizarre experience, mainly because the plot was just so out of my comfort zone and kind of confusing. Bad Apple is probably best described as alt-reality or urban fantasy. It's based on the premise that 'trolls' are a subterranean race who look almost exactly like humans but behave differently, and that they have been secretly exchanging their children with human children for centuries and 'troll' behaviour is only apparent once they hit puberty. Thus, it is generally the explanation for anti-social behaviour. Fifteen year old Maurice is kidnapped by trolls whilst on a school trip to a troll settlement and is 'rescued' by Wretch, who happens to be a troll. Thus 352 pages of on-the-run hijinx ensues.

I kind of get what Whyman was trying to do here, a kind of mixing of traditional fairy-tale-esque 'trolls' and the way we use the world 'trolls' today - to describe people who exhibit anti-social behaviour online, in order to raise questions about difference in a humorous way. It's an interesting concept, I just don't think it was executed particularly well. I just wasn't invested in the plot or the characters, the world-building was pretty rushed and the hijinx quite drawn out, and frankly ridiculous. I love humour, I just think this might be intended for a younger audience than me and it definitely got a bit tedious. Give it a go if you have an open mind!


Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are you currently reading? Tell me all the things!