Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

2016debuts4Title: Into the Dim
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim #1
Format: Digital ARC, 432 pages
Publication Details: March 1st 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Historical; Sci-Fi
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review

Goodreads // Purchase

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope‚Äôs undoing. 

Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail,Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens. 

Review

I fell in love with both the cover of this book and the premise as soon as I spotted it. I know that time-travel books have become a bit of a trend recently and some people seem to have a downer on them, but this is the first one I’ve read for a while and I really loved it!

Hope Walton is a really interesting protagonist. She has an eidectic memory and severe claustrophobia. She has just attended the funeral of her mother knowing the coffin is empty; her mum is presumed dead but Hope is still not convinced.

So when her mum’s parents get in touch and ask Hope to spend the summer with them at their manor in Scotland, Hope is both terrified (the flying) and excited (at the prospect of finding out more about her mum’s so-called death).

I loved that Hope was vulnerable. She isn’t physically strong, or overly brave, or daring, but she’s clever, resourceful, and head-strong. She doesn’t give up. When she arrives at the manor, she didn’t expect to make friends, but she does, easily, and I liked that this gave her confidence. 

Hope gets more than she bargains for when she discovers that her Scottish side of the family are part of a secret band of time-travellers, and that her mum is in fact lost in the past. There’s a whole lot more to it than that, but we follow Hope and her new friends on a dangerous journey to find her mum and bring her back. 

I loved the setting, the plot was interesting and a whole lot of fun, but mostly, I enjoyed the writing. Taylor’s words grabbed me instantly; she had such a vivid way of describing things in ways that I’d not seen before. It was totally unique and beautiful to read. 

I enjoyed each of the characters and their very different strengths and weakness, including Bran – the love interest – who kept me guessing, but was swoon-worthy throughout.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Scottish dialogue used – it was a bit OTT at times, but other than that, I thought this was a great YA time-travelling romp through history. 

I’ve been wanting to read Outlander for a while now, but it’s such an investment of time. At 432 pages, Into the Dim isn’t short by any means, but it certainly felt it – it was a page-turner! 

I look forward to the next instalment!

unicorn rating 4

P.S I have no idea what some of the reviews on Goodreads are all about. I glanced at one which claims Into the Dim is ‘cliched, slut-shaming drivel’, I couldn’t disagree more but I’m sure we can all make our own minds up ūüôā

We Need to Talk About…backing up blogs! #blogging #discussion

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We Need to Talk About…is my new discussion post where I ask the blogosphere (that’s you guys) for opinions/advice/rants on anything from ‘how do some bloggers read so many books?’ to ‘how do you rate books?’.¬†

Today, I’m interested to know if you have your blog backed up…¬†

OK, so… despite running this blog I’m not very good with computers. I’m good at certain programmes and know some basic HTML but on the security side of things I’m pretty lacking.¬†

I’m the kind of person that doesn’t think about things until it all goes wrong. I’m reckless with paperwork, passwords, saving things. I ignore signs of viruses. My computer is really unorganised and I don’t understand this whole iCloud business.¬†

The other day I logged into WordPress (actually, I didn’t have to log in because I have all my passwords saved – see, reckless) and when I went to view all posts, there were no posts. Zilch, nothing, nada. I was pretty panicked. But when I logged out and in again it was fine. Phewwwww.¬†

Obviously, this is made me wonder if I should be backing my blog up somewhere. I mean, it’s just a silly blog, but I’d be really sad if I lost three years of hard work. What if WordPress collapses? What if it’s just gone and you have to start all over again…? It’s possible, right?¬†

So I ask you, Blogosphere…do you back up your blog? If so, how/where/how much and is it easy? And no, I don’t have any kind of external hard-drive thingy if one needs such a thing….lend me your thoughts below!

 

The The Glass Castle #BookReview #ChildrensLit

glasscastleTitle: The Glass Castle
Author: Trisha Priebe & Jerry B. Jenkins
Series: Unknown (but must be!)
Format: Digital ARC, 256 pages
Publication Details: March 1st 2016 by Shiloh Run Press
Genre(s):¬†Children’s; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free, advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads

The king is growing old and is concerned about who will replace him. His new wife wants to produce an heir to the throne.  The only problem? Thirteen years ago, the king’s first wife gave birth to a son, and no one knows for sure what happened to him. Rumors swirl throughout the castle. The solution as simple: dispose of all the thirteen-year-olds in the kingdom. Except, it isn’t that easy. Avery and her friends won’t go quietly.  

Avery, Kate, Tuck, and Kendrick take charge of the underground network of kidnapped children, inspiring them to believe that their past does not dictate their future and pledging to do the hardest thing of all. . .reunite the children with the homes they left behind.  When they discover that one among them might be the child of a man who wants them dead, will everything they work for be lost?

Review

‘The setting from¬†The Chronicles of Narnia meets the action from¬†Alice in Wonderland,¬†was the description from Netgalley which propelled me to hit that shiny request button. I’m not entirely sure I agree with said description after reading the book, but I certainly don’t regret it.¬†

The Glass Castle centres around Avery who along with her brother is kidnapped by a scary old woman and taken to the King’s castle where she finds a whole band of other children her age, all of whom have gone through the same thing as she.

In time Avery discovers that the King is intent on disposing of all the 13 year old orphans because his first-born may have survived and could one day claim the throne and all that comes with it.¬†But, Avery isn’t like the others. For starters she’s not an orphan so what is she doing there? And how does it relate to her own beloved necklace which she sees in a royal portrait hanging in the castle?

I liked a lot of things about The Glass Castle. It felt quite old fashioned (which I found strangely refreshing); it was certainly reminiscent of Narnia in that way, even if it didn’t quite live up to it – but I mean, what does!?¬†I liked the mystery surrounding Avery and her necklace, and I warmed to her character straight away.

¬†The old woman has hid the children in the castle to save them. Where better to hide them than right under the King’s nose? It was a bit of a leap for me to believe that all of these children can go so easily unnoticed in the castle yet participate so much in the running of it. The book explains that certain children are ‘scouts’ who run around the castle monitoring the adult’s movements and ringing bells to warn the children to move into another part of the castle.¬†

I really liked this idea, and often wanted to follow the scouts more than Avery. It had such good potential for some exciting near misses but they weren’t utilised enough. I felt like my favourite parts of this story were sadly unexplored. I needed more peril and more romance to make this a truly unputdownable read.¬†

However, The Glass Castle was a fun, quick read with the potential for much more. It was definitely required to suspend your disbelief in certain parts and not look at it from an adult point of view (not something I usually struggle with tbh) in order to fully enjoy this tale, but then, that’s the joy of Children’s literature is it not?

unicorn rating 3

 

This Week in Books 24.02.16 #TWIB

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week.¬†

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Hope you’re all having a good week. I was out of commission for a few days last week with a horrible cough that totally wiped me out so I didn’t get a great deal of reading done. I did however watch a lot of Netflix. Silverlining and all that!

Here’s what I did get through:

 

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Now:  All Things Cease to Appear ~ Elizabeth Brundage // The Madwoman Upstairs ~ Catherine Lowell

I couldn’t decide which one of these to start so I started both. ATCTA didn’t grab me straight away but The Madwoman Upstairs did and now I can’t put it down. I’ll go back to ATCTA when I’m done (which will probably be before this is posted) ūüėČ

Then:  Into the Dim ~ Janet B. Taylor

I’m so happy that I loved this! My review will be up soon.

Next: ???

After¬†All Things Cease to Appear¬†I think I’ll choose something off my TBR shelf which I posted about here.

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

From Netgalley:

Murder at 42nd Street Library

murderat42Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Ray Ambler, the curator of the library’s crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice.

In his search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler uncovers hidden–and profoundly disturbing–relationships between visitors to the library. These include a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library’s crime fiction collection, that writer’s missing daughter, a New York society woman with a hidden past, and one of Ambler’s colleagues at the world-famous library. Those shocking revelations lead inexorably to the tragic and violent events that follow.

Expected publication: April 26th 2016 by St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Book

 

¬†I’m Waiting On…

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

 

I saw this on Netgalley and couldn’t resist. I hope I get approved for it! I’ve always been intrigued by Coney Island.

magruder

 

After Kitty Hayward‚Äôs mother vanishes from their Coney Island hotel in 1904, Kitty finds herself alone, hungry, penniless, and far away from her native England. The last people she‚Äôd expect to help her are the cast of characters at Magruder‚Äôs Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities that is home to a handful of freaks. But even the unusual inhabitants of Magruder‚Äôs may not be a match for the insidious sickness that is plaguing Coney Island…

Expected Publication: June 1st 2016 by SOURCEBOOKS

So, that’s my week in books, now how about yours? If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look ūüôā

Top Ten Tuesday: Fish out of Water #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is…Ten Books I Enjoyed Recently That Weren’t My Typical Genre

We all know that my favourite genre is YA but I do think it’s completely necessary to read other genres too, especially adult fiction. As far as AF goes, my comfort zones are crime fiction, thrillers and horror. After that, things get a bit sporadic and I flail around like that titular fish up there.

I like reading out of my comfort zone, although I don’t do it nearly enough. Probably because my success rate hasn’t been so great. Here are ten ‘uncomfortable’ books I’ve read in the last year or so and how successful they were in making me more prone to read that genre.

  1. Bookishly Ever After ~ Isabel Bandeira (YA Contemporary)

    bookishlyThis book only confirmed why I fell out of love with contemporary YA. It was so whiny and will they/won’t they¬†it made me want to do a little sick in my mouth

    Success Rate 0%

  2. Sixteen Sixty One ~ Natalie Lucas (Memoir)

    sixteen61
    I did enjoy this, in that I found it interesting. I was impressed by how it read a lot like fiction. That didn’t really help me believe it though… 

    Success Rate 60%

  3. The Frenchman ~ Lesley Young

  4.  Fearless ~ Devon Hartford

    (New Adult)

    frenchmanfearlessI was pretty surprised how much I enjoyed both of these steamy novels. We all need a bit of sexy trash in our reading now and again, right? And to be fair, they were a lot less trashy than I thought they would be.

    Success Rate 66%

  5. The Barefoot Queen ~  Ildefonso Falcones

  6. Rush of Shadows ~ Catherine Bell

  7. Burial Rites ~ Hannah Kent

    (Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction)

    barefootarc3burialIf these novels were anytting to go by (lesser so with The Barefoot Queen) then I should definitely read more historical fiction. It’s a genre that I always think I have to be in the right mood for, but I find that they are often more rewarding than other genres.¬†
    Success Rate 85% 

  8. You’re the One that I Want ~ Giovanna Fletcher

  9. After Wimbledon ~ Jennifer Gilby Roberts

  10. The Magic of Christmas ~ Trisha Ashley

    (Women’s Fiction)

    yourewimbwinter7I enjoyed all three of these books which I would class as ‘chick lit’ although I’m aware a lot of people don’t like that term. It’s another genre that I can’t read too much of as I feel like they can become quite samey. But I definitely enjoy the genre more than I let myself believe.¬†Success Rate 80%

 

 

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill #BookReview #YA #Dystopian

onlyeveryoursTitle: Only Ever Yours
Author:¬†Louise O’Neill
Series: N/A
Format: paperback, 400 pages
Publication Details: July 3rd 2014 by Quercus
Genre(s): YA; Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become ‚Äúcompanions‚ÄĚ, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future ‚Äď as a concubine or a teacher ‚Äď is grim.Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they‚Äôll be chosen as companions ‚Äď they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.¬†Freida must fight for her future ‚Äď even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .

Review

I’d heard so much about this book last year – nearly all of it good – so I was eager to make it a priority in 2016. But quite honestly, I’m not sure what I thought about it.¬†

Only Ever Yours is a novel that throws out A LOT of questions. I imagine that its aim is to make you question the world O’Neill has built and compare it to our own; to make you wonder if this horrifying vision of the future could ever come true… but for me, it was too unbelievable to get me asking these questions.

In O’Neill’s portrayal of the future, girls are bred rather than born, where they grow up in schools run by ‘chastities’ and are ‘trained’ how to be the perfect woman. They are all beautifully designed, they have a target weight they mustn’t lose sight of, and emotions or outbursts are seen as unattractive and are punishable.

Freida and her so-called friends are in their last year at school which means their whole manufactured lives have been building up to this moment. The Inheritants (the boys) have come to meet them and they will decide the girls’ futures. The three possible outcomes being companions, concubines, or chastities. Quite frankly, each option sounds pretty horrific to me, but of course, they know no different. Becoming a companion is what nearly all of the girls long for.

Argh! There’s too much I want to talk about with this book, but firtstly let me say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Lots of testimonials say something along the lines of ¬†‘a horrific vision of a future that could easily come true’, and I think the reason I didn’t love the book is because I don’t believe that for a second.

I mean, I know I’m coming at this book from the perspective of someone who has grown-up in freedom with very little amount of prejudice and inequality – but for me, as a vision of the future it just wasn’t believable. I feel like we’re moving further away from what this book is portraying than towards it. Women are no longer supposed to be perfect, to serve men, to solely be the child bearers…are they? Hasn’t society already come a long way in making that future implausible?

And the same goes for the gay rights – or lack of- in this book. ‘Aberrants’ (gays) have been extinguished by pinpointing the ‘gay gene’ and destroying it somehow. Again, I’m fortunate to come from somewhere where gay rights have come a long, long way in a short space of time, and yeah there’s still further to go before equality is at 100%, but I can’t imagine a future where this would happen, a past perhaps – that I would believe.

I was also really disappointed at how slowly the book moved along. It took so long for it to get to the ceremony and not much was happening in the mean time! And when the book finally did start to wrap-up it was an anti-climax.

I was hoping and praying that at some point Freida and Isabel would either discover that there is an outside world in which life is not like this. That they had somehow been imprisoned and fooled into believing that they were bred not born and there is nothing else but there is. OR that they would start some sort of rebellion…but no. Rage.

Maybe that’s just the Hunger Games generation in me. Maybe I’m completely missing the point? IDK. I am glad I read it, and if this rant makes it sound like I hated it, I didn’t! I just thought it would be…more. Or perhaps I was just victim to the hype-monster again. Who knows!¬†

unicorn rating 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

TBR Shelf Slaying in Action

I didn’t set myself any challenges or goals (apart from my annual Goodreads one) at the beginning of this year like so many of us do, because every year I have I’ve failed miserably. I do know however, that this year I NEED to start reading all of the (real) books that have been gathering dust on my to-be-read shelves.

Some of the books below have been sitting there for over five years, and some a matter of months, and this is why I’m nearly always on a book-buying ban!

Well, 2016 is the year My Friends. In an attempt to keep me motivated to pick these books up instead of buying new ones or requesting too many ARCs, I’ll be incorporating a TBR Shelf Slaying update on my monthly round-up posts.

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I’ve told myself that at the end of the year, anything over 30 books on this shelf are going to a charity shop (I’ve already taken 30!). Seriously, this book thing is like a sickness. They’re harder to get rid of than vampires. Help!

I will also do a monthly(ish) vote on which books I should choose, so please let me know if you loved or hated any of these!

  1. Only Ever Yours: Louise O’Neill
  2. Snow Queen: Hans Christian Andersen
  3. Half a King: Joe Abercrombie
  4. The Merciless: Danielle Vega
  5. Angel of Vengeance: Trevor Munson
  6. Amber Fury: Natalie Haynes
  7. Fairy Tales: Carol Anne Duffy
  8. Blood Storm: Sam Millar
  9. The Saint of Dragons: Jason Hightman
  10. Rover Saves Christmas: Roddy Doyle
  11. The Meanwhile Adventures: Roddy Doyle
  12. The Letter for the King: Tonke Dragt
  13. Beautiful Creatures: Kami Garcia
  14. Don’t Look Back: Erica Spindler
  15. Alice in Zombieland: Gena Showalter
  16. Iron knight: Julie Kagawa
  17. Red Bones: Anne Cleeves
  18. In Your Face: Scarlett Thomas
  19. Afterworlds: Scott Westerfeld
  20. Matched: Aly Conde
  21. The Red House: Mark Haddon
  22. Daughter: Jane Shemilt
  23. Amber: Amy Keen
  24. I Capture the Castle: Dodie Smith
  25. The Shadow of the Wind: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  26. The Prisoner of Heaven: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  27. The Fault in our Stars: John Green
  28. The Immortal Rules: Julie Kagawa
  29. The Sealed Letter: Emma Donoghue
  30. Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Laini Taylor
  31. No Time for Goodbye: Linwood Barclay
  32. Red Riding Hood: Blakely-Cartwright & Johnson
  33. Extras: Scott Westerfeld
  34. Being: Kevin Brooks
  35. Snow White and the Seven Samurai: Tom Holt
  36. The Ruby and the Smoke: Philip Pullman
  37. Sorry: Zoran Drvenkar
  38. The Historian: Elizabeth Kostova
  39. The Tiger in the Well: Philip Pullman
  40. House of Many Ways: Diana Wynne Jones
  41. The Story Sisters – Alice Hoffman
  42. Tipping the Velvet: Sarah Waters
  43. Middlesex: Jeffrey Eugenides
  44. Wizard’s Ward: Deborah Hale
  45. Arthur, the Seeing Stone: Kevin Crossley-Holland
  46. Trainspotting: Irvine Welsh
  47. Hand me Down World: Lloyd Jones
  48. The Book of Skulls: Robert Silverberg
  49. Deadkidsongs: Toby Litt
  50. Divine by Mistake: P.C Cast
  51. The Little White Horse: Elizabeth Goudge
  52. Magician: Raymond E. Feist
  53. Witch & Wizard: James Patterson
  54. Battle Royale: Koushun Takami
  55. The Unicorn Quest: John Lee
  56. The Unicorn Dilemma: John Lee
  57. Storm Glass: Maria V. Snyder
  58. Tempest Rising: Nicole Peeler
  59. That Hideous Strength: C.S Lewis
  60. The Colour of Magic: Terry Pratchett
  61. The Stolen Child: Keith Donohue
  62. Ice Orchids: Elena Yates Eulo
  63. Shadows: Amy Meredith
  64. Aralorn: Patricia Briggs
  65. Dublin Express: Colin Bateman
  66. Heaven Eyes: David Almond
  67. Jamrach’s Menagerie: Carol Birch
  68. The Forgotten Garden: Kate Morton
  69. Banquet of the Damned: Adam L.G. Nevile
  70. Fountain Society: Wes Craven
  71. The Dovekeepers: Alice Hoffman
  72. The Fire-eaters: David Almond
  73. Odin’s Voice: Susan Price
  74. An Arthurian Reader: John Matthews (editor)
  75. The Demonologist: Andrew Pyper
  76. The Trade Mission: Andrew Pyper
  77. Monkeys with Typewriters: Scarlett Thomas
  78. The Foreshadowing: Marcus Sedgwick
  79. The Sirens of Titan: Kurt Vonnegut
  80. Two Women: Martina Cole
  81. The Star’s Tennis Balls: Stephen Fry