BlackbirdTitle: Blackbird

Author: N D Gomes

Pages: 287 Pages

Publisher: HQ Young Adult

The Blurb

Dark contemporary YA following a murder mystery on Orkney that fans of 13 Reasons Why will devour.

Olivia disappeared the night the blackbird died.

It was New Years Eve the night that dead blackbirds descended, hours before fourteen year old Alex McCarthy’s sister Olivia went missing from a party.

Committed to finding out what happened to her sister, within the previously safe walls of their subarctic Orkney village, Alex knows that dishevelled, sometimes intoxicated Detective Inspector Birkens is her best shot.

Yet as they uncover the secrets behind Olivia’s last night, Alex starts to find things she may be better off never knowing…

The Review

Blackbird by N D Gomes is a book that will leave you physically shaken. It plays on your insecurities of safety and is a perfect Young Adult thriller.

The story I told from the perspective of Alex. Her older sister has gone missing and she is determined to find her. However, it is only when looking closely that she realises that there were things she didn’t know about her sister at all.

Her relationships start to fall apart in her dogged need to uncover the truth. Her family are falling apart and Alex is feeling the weight of that burden. It is all too much for her. But she needs answers.

What makes Blackbird so readable is that you feel like you are Alex’s only confident. The first person perspective and the breakdown of all her other relationships makes you, the reader, the closest thing to Alex. Her needs become your needs and you are constantly turning the pages to get to the truth. It is a book worthy of the moniker “unputdownable.”

Blackbird is a classic mystery/thriller in the style of Anne Cassidy. It is perfect for young fans of the genre who love getting stuck into the “whodunnit” of a story.

Blackbird by N D Gomes is available now.

For more information regarding N D Gomes (@nd_gomes) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ Young Adult (@HQYoungAdult) please visit instagram.com/hqyoungadult/.

4 Stars

So it has been a few weeks since I finished Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and I didn’t want to just dive into reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire straight away. But Harry Potter hasn’t been far from my mind. In fact, in between reading the two books it has been my birthday and at the grand old age of 34 it definitely had a Harry Potter theme. I was gifted with:

  • Two Harry Potter Hoodies
  • A Harry Potter Christmas Glitter Bauble
  • A Harry Potter T-Shirt
  • Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit
  • A Hedwig Keyring
  • Two Harry Potter Canvas Book Bags (one Hogwarts, one Slytherin)
  • A Harry Potter notebook
  • A Gryffindor Scrunchie (which my two year old niece took a liking to and subsequently stole)
  • Twelve pairs of Hogwarts House socks (Lisa, like Dobby, is a free elf)

And….

Finally….

  • An acceptance letter for Hogwarts. Eek, my life is complete.

I would happily do seven more years of high school if I could go to Hogwarts.

Anyway, it was an awesome birthday which promised Harry Potteresque adventures s now I must go on my next one…in the form of reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I’m a little bit scared.

  • Ok, straight away I’m wigged out. It starts at the Riddle House NOT at Privet Drive. This isn’t supposed to happen.
  • Poor Frank! He didn’t do it, I tell you!
  • See, this shows just how quickly gossip can spread.
  • Ooh, JK you whiley minx! Hinting to Wormtail about his right hand. Good God I love these books.
  • I like to imagine that Dumbledore goes on city breaks for his holidays. They should release a book of pictures of him in famous places and landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or the leaning Tower of Pisa.
  • Ok, so I know Mrs Weasley put too many stamps on the letter about the Quidditch World Cup to the Dursley’s, however, I commend her actions. There is nothing worse than when the post office holds your mail hostage. Actually, no there is something worse. It is worse when they hold your mail hostage AND THEN make you pay to get the damn thing. Go you, Molly Weasley!
  • I love that the nickname for Ron’s owl is Pig. I plan on getting a cat and I am going to call it fish.
  • Hedwig is such a dignified owl. I love how JK gives animals personal characteristics.
  • Oh the meeting with the Dursley’s and the Weasley’s is totally awkward turtle.
  • I love Mr Weasley. I love how he stands up for Harry against the Dursley’s. Now we see where Ron gets his protective nature from – his parents.
  • I love how JK champions other forms of success – not just academic. She knows the twins aren’t bookish but they are entrepreneurial. Go JK!
  • Oh gosh, I forgot how insufferable Percy becomes in this book.
  • I would love to be able to apparate. It would make my long distance relationship so much easier.
  • “Merlin’s Beard” is officially the best surprise response ever! I’m going to use it more.
  • I could have used a magical space tent – a TARDIS tent if I may – when I used to go to music festivals. At one point in around 2008 or 2009 (I forget when) I went camping at a festival. In my three person tent we housed six people overnight. It as a roasting hot August Bank Holiday. It was brutal but fun.
  • Yay! Go Oliver Wood being signed to a Quidditch team.
  • Winky! Winky the house elf. Oh I had almost forgotten about Winky…almost!
  • I wonder who invented Quidditch? I mean not like JK Rowling, I mean which member of the wizarding community?
  • It is strange that wizards celebrate Christian festivals and not pagan festivals. I also wonder if there are any Wizard specific ones like National Wizard Appreciation day
  • So, on reflection, the Death Eaters and Voldemort are a metaphor for terrorism I all its forms. People who act in a bad way to instil fear and terror into the masses. I’ve said it before but I will continue to say it, JK is a pioneer with the issues that she tackles.
  • And issues on modern day slavery with the house elves. So ahead of her times.
  • The Dark Mark – erm hello, so terrifying!
  • Oh poor Winky. She is so desperately sad. I can’t handle it.
  • Ok, not to sound like a bad wizard or team Voldemort but I really need to read The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts.
  • We have a Rita Skeeter mention. She so should have been played by film and theatre legend Bernadette Peters. Fact!
  • Poor Ron. I know what it is like to be the poor friend and not have the same amount of money as they rest of your mates. It sucks. Bless him.
  • Colin Creevy’’s brother Dennis is adorable. Imagine being excited because you fell into a lake. So cute.
  • Mad Eye Moody should have been played by the guy who played Hannibal Lector…what was his name?
  • ANTHONY HOPKINS! It took over twelve hours for me to remember that guy’s name. Far longer than it should have taken.
  • SPEW – Oh Hermione, you will change the world one day.
  • I love how Hedwig is so full of pride and indignation at Harry’s lack of gratitude. Someone needs to put him in his place. Go Hedwig!
  • Hermione is like Jeremy Corbyn…but better. Hermione for Prime Minister.
  • Oooh at fourteen, the Harry Potter gang are starting to notice the opposite sex more. Love, love, love….or you know, hormones.
  • I love how Madame Maxine called Dumbledore “Dumblydore” – gotta love the French.
  • I don’t like it when the gang fall out. Ron, Harry is innocent I tell you.
  • I would so love a quick quill pen – but not a mean one and mine would have purple ink.
  • Oh Hagrid, you old charmer – “Bong-Sewer” lol.
  • I love that amidst all the dragon angst and moaning JK gave Harry a human side by telling Cedric about the first task.
  • When you think about it, with the house elves, Hermione is a modern day suffragette.
  • Dobby is back!
  • Oh Winky, you poor repressed elf.
  • When I was in high school we had dodgy school discos where lads had competitions to see how many girls they could kiss and you drank from upside down carton drinks. The Yule Ball sounds so much fancier.
  • Seriously, how unbearably cure is it that Dobby has a bauble attached to his tea cosy hat? I am just melting.
  • Socks are Dobby’s favourite clothes. Socks are my favourite clothes. Therefore I am Dobby.
  • Completely off the topic of Dobby and the Yule Ball but I wonder how much teachers at Hogwarts get paid?
  • Ok, confession time. When I first read the Harry Potter series I had never heard the name Hermione before and I pronounced it “Hermwarne.” Viktor Krum can’t say Hermione. I couldn’t say Hermione. Therefore, I am Viktor Krum…and Dobby.
  • Oh Rita Skeeter – as much as you aren’t a villain villain, you really are a nasty cow.
  • Oooh Bagman is a bit crooked. Isn’t he shifty?
  • I’ve never tasted Butterbeer. I wish they sold it in supermarkets for me to try.
  • “Inappropriate charms on a goat.” Oh JK, you slay me.
  • Moaning Myrtle is a little perv.
  • I love it how indignant Hermione gets because the library hasn’t provided the answers I’m with you there, Hermione. Libraries are magical.
  • Pansy Parkinson is really insufferable. She is a proper flibbertigibbet.
  • Padfoot Returns is one of those fabulously revealing chapters. All of Barty Crouch’s secrets are being revealed.
  • Oh Winky has become a little alcofrolic. Bless her and her butterbeer soaked liver.
  • Oh I forgot that there were nifflers in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I want a niffler so freaking badly. They remind me of micropigs looking for truffles. Funny story, Inthought that micropigs found chocolate truffles. It took my fiancé explaining to me that it is a different kind of truffle. I think that was the moment he fell in love with me thogh so win win. I am going to get a micropig and train it to find chocolate for me.
  • Oh dear. Love spurned Hagrid is a tad xenophobic, isn’t he?
  • Oh I love it when Sirius goes all godfatherly on Harry. He’s stepped up, son!
  • I wonder if a penseive takes away the pain of certain memories.
  • Also I love the Penseive chapter. It is another revealing one.
  • I wonder how Mad Eye Moody got his magical eye? There is a story in that, JK.
  • Ok, I don’t like mazes because of their being no bathrooms. They remind me of queues for rides in the fair ground. I know how to get out of them but I still don’t like them.
  • Harry and Cedric are so noble. I love them both.
  • When I first read the Harry Potter series (eighteen years ago) and it got to the scene in the cemetery I put the book down and refused to read it for a week because I was that upset.
  • No words are more terrifying “Lord Voldemort has risen again.”
  • Oh Voldemort hints at the horcruxes. How did I miss this?
  • Ok, so the Death Eater chapter – terrifying but I’m also finding Voldemort’s waffle quite camp…and I like it.
  • Oh the ghosts at the wand duel – I can’t even handle it.
  • Cedric’s final wish kills me.
  • The plot twist at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is bloody amazing.
  • “For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes.” – This always made me question Dumbledore’s integrity and goodness. Was he proud of Voldemort/Tom Riddle? It makes you think that Dumbledore isn’t as good as he seems.
  • All it took was a motherly hug to Harry from Mrs Weasley and I am a broken woman. Oh god here come the tears.

I feel emotionally drained. I know what I am getting in the next three books but man I want to read them.  I know I am going to be a broken woman.

Poor Cedric, his death was one of the worst deaths in the whole series. I genuinely don’t know how I can handle any more heartbreak.

Wish me luck!

147 ThingsTitle: 147 Things: My User’s Guide to the Universe, from Black Holes to Belly Buttons by Jim Chapman

Author: Jim Chapman

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Sidgwick & Jackson

The Blurb

LIFE IS WEIRD.

Nothing gives you a sense of perspective like finding out just how weird. I’m an extremely curious chap and with this book I wanted to share the content of my noggin, because I think these are the 147 things that have helped me through this thing we call life. Sometimes because it shows how lucky we are to be here at all, but often because I’m a moron and learned whatever lesson it taught me the hard way, and I’d like to save you the pain of making the same mistakes (I refer here to the waxing of my pubic hair).

Ever wondered if first times are over-rated (hint: they are), whether you’ll ever find the one (hint: there are 7 billion of us) or pondered the sheer unlikelihood of the you who is you being in the world right now? If so, then YouTube superstar and fact-obsessed, over-sharer Jim Chapman is here to explain it all – whether it’s why your heart actually aches after a break-up, what’s happening when you get hangry, or why people are just so plain RUDE online.

Along the way, we’ll find out how much fun he has when Tanya’s sleep-talking and why he looked like a gangly T-rex with wonky teeth when he was a teenager. As with his videos, no subject is off-limits, as Jim lifts the lid on his life and his relationships, sharing embarrassing stories and things he’s learnt along the way (trust us, the thing about kangaroos will really freak you out).

The Review

I love stuff. I love facts. I love knowing things. It is this reason why 147 Things: My User’s Guide to the Universe, from Black Holes to Belly Buttons by Jim Chapman is the perfect book for me.

It is a culmination of a curious mind in book form. Jim Chapman has posed very serious life questions and answered them in a serious (and seriously hilarious) way.

I will admit that whilst I was enjoying 147 Things: My User’s Guide to the Universe, from Black Holes to Belly Buttons it wasn’t until I got to the 123 thing that I was really blown away. Jim Chapman voiced a thought that has plagued me all my life and I realise that we should have some deep and meaningful conversations about life. I don’t think it is going to happen but man we could shoot the poop something wicked. I’m not going to tell you where Jim Chapman and my train of thoughts meet. You are going to have to buy and read his book for that.

147 Things: My User’s Guide to the Universe, from Black Holes to Belly Buttons by Jim Chapman is available now.

For more information regarding Jim Chapman (@JimChapman) please visit www.jimchapman.co.uk.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

4 Stars

NevermoorTitle: Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Author: Jessica Townsend

Pages: 374 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group/Orion Children’s Books

The Blurb

Enter the Wundrous world of Morrigan Crow and Nevermoor – the most fantastical children’s release of the year.

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city and confront her deadly fate once and for all.

Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and His Dark Materials, this series takes readers into an extraordinary world, setting hope and imagination alive.

The Review

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow has blown me away.

Wow. Just wow.

For the past 374 pages I have been completely lost in the world of Nevermoor. I had such a clear image in my head of this world. It became a perfect movie in my mind. There is no bigger compliment that I can give an author than expressing how their writing became almost tangible in my head and Jessica Townsend achieved this with spades.

Morrigan Crow is a heroine not to be messed with. She is vulnerable but fierce, feisty but likeable. She is a girl on a mission. She will join the Wundrous Society. Morrigan has been plucked from her old life where she has essentially died and has been brought to Nevermoor to compete in trials. However, because she is a cursed child she becomes embroiled in a mystery which could see her exiled from her new home.

I have not done Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow justice in this description. You need to just read it.

I usually donate my read books to the library in the school I work but I know I won’t be able to part with this book…so I bought the school a copy. That is how much I think this is a book that deserves to be read.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend is available now.

For more information regarding Jessica Townsend (@digressica) please visit www.instagram.com/digressica/

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) and Orion Children’s Books (@the_orionstar) please visit www.hachettechildren’s.co.uk.

5 Stars

The Temptation of AdamTitle: The Temptation of Adam

Author: Dave Connis

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing/Sky Pony Press

The Blurb

Adam Hawthorne is fine. Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists. But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel. Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

The Review

I didn’t really know what to expect with The Temptation of Adam. It was another of those books that I read on the basis of being intrigued by the cover. What I got was my favourite kind of YA fiction. It is a coming-of-age novel that tackles issues in a new and fresh way.

Adam is an addict. He is addicted to porn and his attitude towards women is being affected by this. After an incident in school, Adam is saved by his teacher and family friend Mr Cratcher and is forced to work out his demons by helping him with a music project and going to therapy. Adam is reluctant. He is a recalcitrant teenager with not just one but a whole bag of chips of his shoulder.

It is through this servitude and his unlikely friendship with the Knights of Vice (all addicts in the group) that Adam is able to confront his demons.

I really enjoyed reading The Temptation of Adam. It is a novel with several layers and underneath those layers is a big thumping heart. It is the sort of novel that I would happily read again.

The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis is available now.

For more information regarding Dave Connis (@DaveConnis) please visit www.daveconnis.com.

For more information regarding Skyhorse Publishing (@skyhorsepub) please visit www.skyhorsepublishing.com.

For more information regarding Sky Pony Press (@skyponypress) please visit www.skyponypress.com.

35 Stars