Next month’s bookish to-do list

I’m so excited to be returning to England at the end of the month and to get myself into a great reading and writing routine. I’d originally given this post the title ‘Next Month’s TBR’ but given that I’m planning to do some fun challenges on #Bookstagram as well I thought I may as well just write myself something that is, for all intents and purposes, a to do list.Untitled design (2)

Books

I have a terrible (amazing) confession to make. Since I’ve been over in Canada I’ve not really been able to order books. For one, I don’t have a fixed mailing address out here. The other reason is lack of suitcase space for newly acquired treasures. But, ladies and gentlemen, fear not – I found myself a most elegant solution. SELF-PRESENTS! Over the past few months I’ve just been ordering goodies for myself and having them delivered to my parents at home in England (sorry Mum!) I’m so excited to go home and dive into my mountain of bookish goodies! Here are some of the books I have waiting for me:

The Girls – Emma Cline

My sister read this book after I’d ordered it and recommended it to me so now I’m more excited than ever to get started. I finished The Roanoke Girls and LOVED it and heard that it reminded people of Emma Cline’s book so, of course, I had to have it. This one has been sat on my bed at home for many weeks now and I cannot wait to compare notes on it.
If you’re lost, they’ll find you…

Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed. 

It’s the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.

If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where they live.
Was there a warning? A sign of what was coming? Or did Evie know already that there was no way back?

 

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

If you’re a bookstagrammer you’ve probably heard of this series – YA fantasy plays a huge role on the bookstagram scene and I just keep seeing this book everywhere. With the collectors edition cover just released I bit the bullet and ordered one for myself! Lets hope it’s a goodun’!

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart . . .

Yesterday – Felicia Yap

This one is actually a Netgalley request I was granted so isn’t a part of my little haul. I do want to get this one read next month though! It features human beings with varying degrees of memory retention – monos only remember one day prior whilst duos remember two days prior – it’s an interesting concept and I’m sure I’ll love it once I get started.

There are two types of people in the world: those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

The Book of Ivy – Amy Engel

After reading Amy Engel’s The Roanoke Girls it wasn’t long until this little gem popped up on my radar and subsequently my amazon basket. Whoops! Fans of Engel’s stuff were raving about this series on goodreads so I thought it was definitely worth picking up.

What would you kill for?

After a brutal nuclear war, our country was decimated. A new nation of survivors lives within a fenced community. No one knows what lies beyond the fence; only that to be cast outside it is a fate worse than death.

Two families fought to govern our new society. Now, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing faction to the sons of the winning side in a yearly ceremony.

This year, it’s my turn. My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill Bishop Lattimer, the president’s son and my soon-to-be husband, and return the Westfall family to power.

I never expected that my new husband would be the one person in the world to truly understand me. But I can’t falter now – I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…Untitled design (2)
          Challenges

I will be participating in two main challenges next month (though there’s always time to add to the list!)

One of which is the ever popular #grimdragon book challenge hosted by @grimdark_dad and @the_infinite_book_dragon. They’re doing a ‘greatest hits’ edition for September so I thought it’d be the perfect one to get started with!

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The other is the first set of challenges hosted by @rachel_r._smith, friendly bookstagrammer and author of the Records of Ohanzee fantasy series. Her feed is full of fairy sparkles and she’s also hosting a Harry Potter themed giveaway at the moment! Talk about having your sh** together!

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If you’re wanting to start a new challenge on the same page as everyone else it’s a great place to start. Plus Rachel is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met on the ol’ #bookstagram so you’re in safe hands.

You can find her books on Amazon:

What are your bookish plans for September? and how are your yearly goals coming along?

I’ve reached 21/30 on my goodreads challenge so far so I’m tentatively hoping to exceed my goal. I am not a fast reader.

Top Books so far:

The Roanoke girls

A Court of Wings and Ruinflowers

Why is there a Toucan on my Homepage?

Aaaaand, I’m back! I’ve had such a long break from writing by complete accident. Well, I say accident but it’s more that my entire life routine just went belly-up. It started with a reading slump (I’m still half way through two different books, neither of which is really doing it for me but I can’t bear the thought of reading THREE at once) and then when I’m not reading I can’t review because I don’t finish anything. Not that reviews are the ‘be-all and end-all’ of this little webspace but when I get behind on my blogging I always find them to be great starting points for rebuilding posting routine. Anyway, that’s that and this is about a toucan.

I recently re-jigged my little blog. This is nothing new for me, it’s something I do periodically to help me re-motivate (lord knows I needed a boost this month!) I used to move the furniture around in my room as a child because I liked the ‘newness’ of the adjusted layout – it made me excited that I had re-designed my own space and that it then became more inherently ‘me’ than it had been one hour prior. I guess this is kind of the same thing.

Before I decided I hated it my little site looked like this:

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I still can’t decide if it looks better than the current scheme but hopefully one will stick eventually. In the meantime I can only apologise for the myriad of adjustments I will continue to make until I am entirely and suitably satisfied.

So, anyway, my own finicky idiosyncrasies aside, this post is about the little bird you might have noticed lurking quietly at the top of the newly renovated landing page. I’m here to answer the question I know has been keeping you up all night: why is there a toucan on my homepage? In case you can’t be bothered to scroll up right now (I know I wouldn’t) OR in case you are reading this 200 years in the future and Toucan doodles are now outlawed on the universe.world.web for some reason, here’s an incriminating shot of the title bird in question.

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Isn’t he just the cutest? I’ll have to start by saying that he is (sadly) not my own creation – I found him hiding away in the sticker section at fotor.com and fell instantly in love with his scribbly little face. So, naturally, I selected him as mascot for my little online scribble-pad and plonked him just to the right of centre stage (I didn’t want celebrity and stardom to go to his head.) Alas, the ‘f’ in the centre of my ‘Tackfiction’ logo is now quite the diva, but hey, lesson learned I guess. I’m hoping I can keep him, at least for a little while but he may be reclaimed by his original source one day so I’m bracing myself for the inevitable fallout.

I did try the logo without him but it just felt very empty – Kell (DragonBabble) did a few checks for me that day and felt the same: that for some bizarre reason he just belonged there. I mean just look:cropped-atitle11.png

Even here his absence is tangible. Plus (in case I haven’t already made this clear) I like him, so he’s staying. I mostly like the way he looks so appalled by the ‘post-it’ logo to his left. He’s silently judging the fact that I am not a graphic designer and it is in-fact just a pink square tilted awkwardly to the side. He’s an apt icon for reinforcing the lack of cohesion over here at Tackfiction. There may be no real theme or overarching goal right now but we have a toucan and, for now, that’s enough.

Do you ever get attached to obscure inanimate objects or images? No? Well, congratulations on being a normal human bean you lucky sprout.

I don’t think I’d adequately justified the presence of a tropical bird on my book blog quite yet but much like everything else on this blog I’m sure I can find a way to link it in. The whole setup is defined by the struggle between professionalism (not that you’d know it!) and authenticity: I mean, I want to be taken seriously (sort of) but I’m also a hot bookish mess so I don’t know what to tell you. It’s probably just best that I leave the toucan, embrace the chaos of it all and get on with the rest of my day and in my infinite wisdom *as clearly showcased here today* I suggest you do the same.

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*edit* reading this back I’ve discovered just how heavily it’s laced with abhorrent sarcasm. As such I can only offer my sincerest apologies, it is intrinsically linked to my personality. I’m a monster. 

 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel: Review

In this, the age of American Horror StoryDexter and Game of Thrones entertainment channels are able to (and often do) talk about increasingly shocking ideas. For some reason many of us are a little dark too and are compelled to explore this kind of narrative – The Roanoke Girls is one of these new age taboo shakers and I was hooked on this heartbreaking tale from cover to cover.


Title: The Roanoke Girls

Author: Amy Engel

Publication date: August 1st 2017

Pages: 288

Blurb: Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.


Firstly, a very big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Intrigue and Mystery run thick in this unique and complex novel, once I was in it I had to finish it.

It’s set in the Osage flats in Kansas but the perspective shifts (between ‘then’, ‘now’, and various chapters from the perspective of absent characters) to inform the reader and help explore the secrets of the Roanoke family. The timeframe adjustments move flawlessly and our story moves at a satisfying pace; I didn’t feel lost reading because it was so naturally paced and fluid. By playing with time Engel gives us the privilege of truly understanding characters we might otherwise get just a vague understanding of. I’d have loved a few more references to The Roanoke Colony but the carvings and the intrigue were fabulous by themselves.

In terms of content and themes It definitely made me think of Lolita; it’s provocative and twisted but still, somehow, utterly captivating. I don’t know how I’d describe it genre wise but it certainly plays with sexuality and morality in a way that isn’t forced or incredibly intense; it simply is. I feel like I’m a despicable human for loving this book but what the heck? I guess the crown fits.

Flawed characters feature heavily throughout and are the focal point of the book’s message; it invites you to question differing levels of morality whilst maintaining a compelling narrative. It’s about perspective on morality but also uses clever imagery and symbolism to create not only a great story, but a fascinating dialogue on so many aspects of life. The themes of suffering, and small time drama with big time secrets really create a story in which we question our own initial responses: actions that seem cruel at first may be an expression of a far worse internal struggle.

“To Sarah, Allegra is simply a bitch…not one single second of Allegra’s life was easy. I know the agony she lived with every day. And I understand how sometimes you have to pass the pain around in order to survive it.”

There’s power not only in the content but in the way it it written too. This book was enticing and addictive, dark and gritty, it was so much better than I could’ve anticipated. Engel’s writing is gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed her literary style; what she did in 288 pages was more than some can achieve in 1000. I’d very much recommend reading it.


 4 out of 5

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If you liked All Things New, try The Vegetarian


  – Cat –

All Things New by Lauren Miller: Review

All Things New is a story all readers of YA fiction will be ready and raring to read this August and it does not disappoint. It’s a charming page turner with a poignant message and a cute little love story to boot – pick it up August 1st.


 Title: All Things New

Author: Lauren Miller

Publication date: August 1st 2017

Pages:

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa can no longer pretend that she’s okay–now she looks as shattered as she feels. 

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but her anxiety only gets worse in the wake of the accident. That is, until she meets Marshall, a boy with a heart defect whose kindness and generous spirit slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world–a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.


Firstly, a very big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

And, I’ll start at the beginning, on opening the first page. This book was incredibly easy to get into; Lauren Miller really understands the importance of a fierce opening. We are instantly drawn into Jessa’s life: a lonely LA adolescence tainted by the anxiety she hides from the world. The event that changes everything is described in a way that commands the reader to keep going and follow Jessa on her recovery journey. It’s a recovery not just from the accident but from a lie she’s been living and truths she’s been constantly overlooking.

I’m a wee bit biased about this book because I found so very much of it so easy to relate to; Jessa is a likeable underdog and represents so much – most importantly she is a vessel for exploring mental health. Miller literally takes that slogan “what if we treated all illness like it was physical” and plays about with it on the page in this gorgeous little novel. The way she plays with truth using medical fact is thoroughly engaging and keeps the message upfront and easy to comprehend.

The only thing I would potentially criticise is that I certainly could have read more of it. The narrative seemed to end quite suddenly given the time Miller took to build the story’s concepts and I think there was definitely more story left to tell. That being said, forcing a story beyond its natural length is a sure way to ruin a book so perhaps it was just right left where it was. I’ve seen it compared to The Fault in Our Stars and other popular YA books but felt it more in the region of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel myself. Overall I found it to be an enjoyable and accomplished YA novel with some interesting themes.

I haven’t read Parallel or Free to Fall, Miller’s other books, but if they’re anything like this I’m sure to find time for them. I’d dub this a worthwhile read for any YA reader.


 3 out of 5

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If you liked All Things New, try Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index.


  – Cat –