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.

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