My Favourite Books of 2016 #2016Books

Here are my favourite reads of 2016 – better late than never, right!?

I only awarded four books the elusive 5 Unicorns (not including rereads), because not many things are perfect, right? But I also rated 22 books with 4 Unicorns so this list was surprisingly difficult.

(Quotes from my reviews, synopsis’s from Goodreads, as always!)

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10. The Crow Girl ~ Erik Axl Sund

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The Crow Girl is one of the darkest, twisted, deviously woven crime books I’ve ever read. As the synopsis suggests it starts with one dead body, and mannnn does it escalate from there. “

Review // Goodreads 

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It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

9. The Merciless ~ Danielle Vega

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“I can definitely see where they got the whole ‘Mean Girls meets Stephen King’ tagline from. Unlike Stephen King however, this book is severely lacking in the character development department. But you know what? I kind of didn’t care.

Review // Goodreads 

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned…

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

8. The Hummingbird’s Cage ~ Tamara Dietrich

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“I was hooked into this story straight away {…} It was all a bit Twin Peaks, albeit not quite as insane.”

Review // Goodreads 

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A dazzling debut novel about taking chances, finding hope, and learning to stand up for your dreams…

Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life: the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her facade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible—until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee….

On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble upon the small town of Morro, a charming and magical village that seems to exist out of time and place. There a farmer and his wife offer her sanctuary, and soon, between the comfort of her new home and blossoming friendships, Joanna’s soul begins to heal, easing the wounds of a decade of abuse.

But her past—and her husband—aren’t so easy to escape. Unwilling to live in fear any longer, Joanna must summon a strength she never knew she had to fight back and forge a new life for her daughter and herself….

7. Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky ~ Holly Martin

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“It’s literally like Holly Martin has taken all of my favourite things about Christmas and put them in this book. It was magical.”

Review // Goodreads 

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This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

6. Shadow and Bone ~ Leigh Bardugo

summer16.7
“I saw influences from a lot of books I love such as Graceling and Throne of Glass, but Shadow and Bone felt fresh in some ways too. It was full of action and heartbreak, and I was totally invested in the great protagonist that is Alina.”

Review // Goodreads 

bookdepo

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

5. Into the Dim ~ Janet B. Taylor

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“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”

Review // Goodreads

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’s undoing. 

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

unicorn rating

4. The Madwoman Upstairs ~ Catherine Lowell

madwoman“I loved everything about this book. The interactions between Samantha and Professor Orville were hilarious, and Samantha’s character in general just made me do actual LOLs.”

Review // Goodreads

In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she’s rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë’s literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that’s never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn’t exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world’s greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë’s own writing.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.

3. The Last Days of Jack Sparks

jacksparks“I absolutely loved this book. Jack reminded me a lot of Mystery Man from Colin Bateman’s novels of the same name. He is a lovable rogue. He is completely hopeless but you can’t help but root for him.”

Review // Goodreads 

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Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

2. The Song of Achilles ~ Madeline Miller

songof” The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written story of war, love, betrayal, and tragedy, written from the perspective of Patroclus- best friend and lover of Achilles, making this version of the legend more human than it is God-like.”

Review // Goodreads 

bookdepo

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

1. Sanctuary Bay ~ Laura Burns & Melinda Metz

sanctuarybay“I absolutely loved Sanctuary Bay and couldn’t put it down! I liked the contrast between the futuristic-type technology at the school and that part of it was built on a POW camp, and how all of this is woven into a great mystery.”

Review // Goodreads

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.

Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

 

           Books of the Month – 2016

Last Year in Books: 2016 End of Year Survey #2016Books #BookBlogging

I took a blogging break over Christmas and all the way through to the end of January so I never got the chance to do any of the yearly round-up posts that I really enjoy doing. But what with my new ‘blog what you enjoy’ mantra I’m going to post a few now – lateness be damned!

This End of Year Survey was started by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner who also created the graphics. Many thanks to her!

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Number Of Books You Read: 69 – 1 short of my target.
Number of Re-Reads: 1 – A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Genre You Read The Most From: YA Fantasy/Horror –  22 books

best-in-books

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

For the second year running my favourite book has been one I read right at the beginning of the year. This time it was Sanctuary Bay – an impressive dark and mysterious YA novel.

sanctuarybay

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

fellside I was disappointed with this one 😦

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

madwoman I didn’t expect to love it so much!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

jacksparks I loved it and knew a lot of people who would too!

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Best series started – The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

Best Sequel – I didn’t actually read many sequels but Glass Sword was great.

Best Series Ender – I didn’t read any. Fail!

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2016?

Definitely Jason Arnott (The Last Days of Jack Sparks)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The madwoman Upstairs – I don’t often read general adult fiction, especially not ones about classic literature (The Bronte’s) like this one.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Last Days of Jack Sparks

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

sanctuarybay

Probably none because I never find the time but I’d love to re-read Sanctuary Bay again as I read it at the start of the year and have already forgotten lots about it despite thinking it was amazing at the time!

 

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2016?

merciless2 The real life gold hardback cover is purrrrty. And badass.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Probably Jack Sparks again. He was such a loveable, despicable idiot.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

songof

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Ooh this one was hard to choose. Tbh I didn’t read that many ‘serious’ books last year. I almost went for The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes but I think I’ll choose The Hummingbird’s Cage for its interesting look at the afterlife  and having hope.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Song of Achilles.

 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” ― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

 

Shortest: The Book of Kringle – 32 pgs

Longest: The Crow Girl – 794 pgs

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Hmm this one has stumped me…maybe The Crow Girl just for the sheer dark, grimness of it.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

My favourite romance had to be Achilles and Patroclus in The Song of Achilles.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I really loved the dynamic between Jack Sparks and his editor/agent in The Last Days of Jack Sparks. 

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

foreshadowing

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

summer16.7

 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Sturmhond/Nikolai from The Grisha trilogy

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

It’s a tie between The Song of Achilles and The Madwoman Upstairs. Neither of which were YA. I’m surprised with myself!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Definitely The Grisha Trilogy

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Jack Sparks

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

I definitely cried at The Song of Achilles, more than once. I can’t think of any others.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

a9 This was a heart-warming little gem.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Erm I wouldn’t be that dramatic but The Enchanted was depressing and beautiful all at once.

theenchanted

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

I think The Enchanted again. It was like nothing I’ve ever read before.

 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

stealingsnow

Stealing Snow made me mad because it started off well then very quickly nose-dived!

 

blogging-bookish-life

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2016?

I discovered lots of new blogs but I don’t want to single any out!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2016?

I liked my slightly ranting review of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I really enjoyed the discussion about why books aren’t promoted to teens enough.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I didn’t go many last year, apart from events we hosted at work. My favourite of those was Mike Carey’s visit with the director and producer of The Girl with all the Gifts.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Probably just getting nice comments from authors/publishers, and the huge success that was Horror October. It’ getting bigger every year.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Just keeping going in general. With a busy work and social schedule it’s really hard work sometimes, but worth it.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By far the Flash Fiction Battle posts during Horror October. I’ve never had such high stats!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I guess a lot of reviews and also promo posts/blog tours that take a while to write but don’t end up being very popular. I think it’s fair to say that this is a bone on contention with a lot of bloggers.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Hmm…I think just a lot of he vintage I’ve found which come with so much history. I find it really interesting and I’m going to incorporate that on my blog more this year. My vintage bookshop is here.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Hmm I didn’t really set many goals last year. I was one book away from reaching my Goodreads total.

looking-ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Ha! Lots. But my first port of call is The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

marshking

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

wintersong It sounds so good!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

The only series ending I needed to read was the final Grisha book and I finished it last week. Loved it!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Quality not quantity!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Best new-to-me authors read in 2016 #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… Top Ten new-to-me authors in 2016!

I discovered so many great authors again this year, and finally got round to reading some of those that had been on my TBR for way too long.

Here are my top ten authors that I discovered or first read this year, (and the books of theirs I read). Links go to my reviews.

10. Holly Martin (Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky)

9. Liz Kessler (Haunt Me)

8. Leigh Bardugo (Shadow & Bone)

7. Natalie Haynes (The Amber Fury)

6. Nina LaCour (You Know Me Well – with David Levithan)

5. Janet B. Taylor (Into the Dim)

4. Danielle Vega (The Merciless)

3. Catherine Lowell (The Madwoman Upstairs)

2. Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles)

1. Jason Arnopp (The Last Days of Jack Sparks)

Did you try any of these this year?

 

This Week in Books 23.11.16 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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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 to you all! Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

twib-41.jpg

 

Now:  The Girl Who Saved Christmas ~ Matt Haig

I almost didn’t request this because I haven’t read Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas yet, but I’m so glad I did, it’s lots of fun and completely stands-alone from the other one. 

Then:  The Witches of New York Ami McKay

This one was a struggle tbh. It was written beautifully but I just don’t think I was in the mood for a subtle, slow-paced read. My review will be up later today.

Next: ??? 

Definitely The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere. I’m very excited about this one. 

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

There are already so many amazing-looking books on my 2017 releases wishlist. This is one of them!

royalbastardsarc

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey …

Expected publication: June 6th 2017 by Disney Hyperion

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

Bought: I picked this up in the pound shop of all places. I plan on reading it and then passing it on to my Nan. 

christmasatrosieRosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton, buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, large tempting piles of Turkish Delight, crinkling selection boxes and happy, sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend, Stephen, and her family, flying in from Australia. She can’t wait.

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community, all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

Treat yourself and your sweet-toothed friends to Jenny Colgan’s heart-warming new novel. The irresistibly delicious recipes are guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit and will warm up your Christmas celebrations.

Borrowed: My friend Dora lent me this. It’s another one of Poppy Z. Brite’s that I’ve wanted to read for years. 

drawingbloodNo one could understand the force that rocked cartoonist Robert McGee’s mind, allowing him to slaughter his wife and three-year-old son before hanging himself. Only five-year-old Trevor survived – silent witness to the bloodbath that destroyed his family.

Twenty years later, the same malignant love brought Trevor McGee back to Missing Mile. But this time he wasn’t alone. Hiding from justice with fugitive computer hacker Zach Bosch, Trev opened the door to Birdland. Ready to face the demons. Ready to risk his life again…

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂

This Year in Horror (thus far): Part 1 #HorrorOctober #BookReviews

horroroctofficial2016

I’ve enjoyed some great books that fall under the vast umbrella that is horror this year. Here are some of my ‘horror tag’ reviews. 

Sanctuary Bay

Original review posted: Jan 18th 2016

sanctuarybay
5/5

Title: Sanctuary Bay
Author: Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: January 19th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin (USA) // February 13th (UK)
Genre(s): YA; Thriller; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.

Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

Review

I fell in love with the cover of this book instantly, and when I read that co-author Melinda Metz was one of the writers of Roswell (one of my favourite TV shows of all time – no shame!), I knew I had to read it.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the premise though. The elite prep school part appealed to me, and I assumed the story would follow the mystery of the missing room-mate, but Sanctuary Bay was SO much more than that.

Protagonist Sarah is really interesting character. She witnessed her parents getting killed when she was just three, and she remembers it vividly. Everyone tells her that it’s impossible to remember at such an early age, but Sarah knows that her brain works differently to other people’s.

Sarah has grown-up in foster homes, some good, some terrible. She considers herself pretty poor, and she’s determined to make something of herself. When she’s offered a scholarship out of the blue to the most elite prep school in the country, it’s practically a miracle. But Sarah wants to believe her luck has changed, and feels that she deserves this great opportunity, so she’s determined not to mess it up.

But of course, if something’s too good to be true, there’s usually a reason. And Sanctuary Bay is definitely not your average school.

Marketed as a ‘full-immersion’ school, in which pupils can never leave (it’s on an island so they really, really, can’t), or have any contact with the outside world including family, apart from being allowed monthly care packages to arrive through the post.

The students are therefore quick to form bonds. At first Sarah is blindsided by how friendly everyone is, and she soon feels like part a family – something she has longed for her whole life. But it’s not long until things start getting weird. She’s initiated into a secret society whose ‘missions’ get weirder and weirder. And then her room-mate goes missing and Sarah is stuck between loyalty to her brothers and sisters, her own sanity, and the truth.

There is so much more to this story as well. I absolutely loved Sanctuary Bay and couldn’t put it down! I liked the contrast between the futuristic-type technology at the school and that part of it was built on a POW camp, and how all of this is woven into a great mystery.

The setting was awesome, I couldn’t fault the writing, and it was a fast-paced, thrill-ride.

I’m extremely happy and impressed at how the YA genre has evolved over the last ten years, and it’s all down to diverse, unique, and exciting books like this one. Success all round.

If Sanctuary Bay is anything to go by, 2016 is going to be another great year for YA…have ALL the unicorns!  Witches Hats!

horroctrating-5

 

Angel of Vengeance

Original review posted: Feb 8th 2016

angelTitle: Angel of Vengeance
Author: Trevor Munson
Series: N/a
Format: paperback, 239 pages
Publication Details: February 1st 2011 by Titan Books
Genre(s): Fantasy; Crime; Vampires
Disclosure? Nope, it was a gift.

Goodreads // Purchase

“NO WOMEN.  NO CHILDREN. NO INNOCENTS. THOSE ARE THE RULES…IT’S HOW I LIVE WITH MYSELF, SO TO SPEAK”

L.A.-based Private Eye and vampire Mick Angel has been hired by a beautiful red-headed burlesque dancer to find her missing sister. But the apparently simple case of a teenage runaway is soon complicated by drug dealers, persistent cops, murder, and Mick’s own past.

Mick must learn the hard way what every vampire should know – nothing stays buried forever. Especially not the past.


THE NOVEL THAT INSPIRED THE TV SERIES MOONLIGHT.

Review

I didn’t even know this novel existed until I received it as a gift. I fell in love with the TV show Moonlight the moment I saw it, I mean Alex O’Loughlin…hello! I was so sad that they cancelled it after the first season. 😦

This book was published after the series, but was the inspiration behind it. There are a lot of differences of course, but it has the same dark humour and noir, old school detective vibe, which I loved.

The main difference however, was the lack of the Beth character. I really enjoyed the author’s notes (who also penned the series) in which he explained the changes they made for the screen and I totally agree with them. This book did need a romantic element. And it did need a female lead in Beth that the protagonist’s evil ex-wife just couldn’t fill.

Without this, what we’re left with is an interesting vampire story mixed with an average crime story. I enjoyed it, but I wanted more. So much more! It definitely felt like the introduction to something bigger…it was all a bit brief.

I’m really glad this book exists though, if not just to remind me how much I loved the series. It’s made me want to watch it again RIGHT NOW. Well, it has been a while….

horroctrating-3

 

The Merciless

Original review posted: Feb 15th 2016

themerciless
4/5

Title: The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Series: The Merciless #1
Format: hardback, 279 pages
Publication Details: June 12th 2014 by Razorbill
Genre(s): YA; Horror
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned…

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

Review

As a huge fan of YA (obvs) and horror I’m always excited to see YA horror books (Yorror as I’m now calling it) published, as they’re few and far between. It took me a while but I’m so glad I eventually got round to buying a copy of this- especially the awesome pink leather hardback version, which is pretty epic!

The Merciless isn’t a case of your old-school Goosebumps or Point Horror. It’s actual horror, that I imagine some parents wouldn’t be too happy about their teens (and certainly pre-teens reading. I kind of wish this book existed when I was 15 because man, I would have lapped it up then.

The Merciless is about a group of ‘good’ girls who take it upon themselves to exorcise the demon out of bully Brooklyn. A prank gone wrong? Revenge gone too far? There’s a whole lot of blood, torment and, well, torture, and the whole way through you’re left thinking ‘are they really doing this?’ 

I can definitely see where they got the whole ‘Mean Girls meets Stephen King’ tagline from. Unlike Stephen King however, this book is severely lacking in the character development department. But you know what? I kind of didn’t care. It would have perhaps made it easier to believe if we knew more about protagonist Sofia before she became friends with the ‘mean girls’ and got involved in the whole Satanic mess, but it wouldn’t make much difference, and it didn’t affect my enjoyment overall.

Like Mean Girls, this book is pretty shallow. But what it lacks in depth it makes up with in relentless action and chaos. It’s also mightily swift in pace. I definitely struggled to put it down, in fact I’m pretty sure I only put it down once. 

I also really enjoyed the sort-of-twist, and although most of the book felt predictable, it was quite easy to second guess yourself and end up with a genuine surprise on your hands. 

I’m already looking forward to the second book. I just hope Vega can develop the characters a bit more. 

horroctrating-4

 

The Crow Girl

Original review posted: April 7th 2016

crowgirlTitle: The Crow Girl
Author: Erik Axl Sund
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 784 pages
Publication Details: April 7th 2016 by Harvill Secker
Genre(s): Crime Fiction; Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

Review

Everything about this book drew me in until I realised that it’s almost 800 pages long! I probably would have been put off if I’d realised that before I requested a copy (because as a ‘in spare-time blogger’, I aint got time for that), but I’m so glad I started reading first. It was totally worth the investment of time. 

The Crow Girl is one of the darkest, twisted, deviously woven crime books I’ve ever read. As the synopsis suggests it starts with one dead body, and mannnn does it escalate from there. 

We follow protagonist Jeanette Kihlberg, a respected detective who is assigned the case when a mummified boy is discovered. Jeanette is a strong protagonist. She’s clearly dedicated to her work but is also consumed by it, which takes its toll on her private life. As more bodies show up, and the search for a killer intensifies, Jeanette’s life starts to unfurl. 

The Crow Girl isn’t a simple whodunnit tale. It’s a complex saga of child abuse, paedophile circles, corrupt officials, false identities, human trafficking and psychological battles. It took me a few chapters to get hooked and adapt to the dark and twisted tone of the story but once I did, it was impossible to not get completely invested the story.

Originally written as a trilogy, and published here as one volume, The Crow Girl has been painstakingly translated from Swedish. Despite the length, I’m really glad I read this all in one go as I think it would have been too confusing in three separate books and I’m not sure I would have appreciated the first part enough to read the second; it’s all about the bigger picture and the pay off at the end! I was also extremely thankful for the short chapters – they really helped in making the book less of a chore. 

This is one of those books where I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but what I will say is that The Crow Road is a book that sheds light on child abuse and the damage it can cause. The effects of which ripple throughout all 700+ pages of this disturbing Swedish triumph.

It actually reminded me a lot of the Hannibal TV show with similarities in both content and style/tone, so if you enjoyed that I’d highly recommend giving this one a try.

horroctrating-4

 

Did you read any of these this year?

NEXT ON HORROR OCTOBER: Top Ten Highly Recommended Horror Reads

 

 

 

This Week in Books (07.09.16) #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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

It’s Wednesday so you know what that means…time to share how our reading week is shaping up! Don’t forget to leave your link in the comments for everyone to see 🙂 

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Now:  Labyrinth Lost ~ Zoraida Cordova // Siege and Storm ~ Leigh Bardugo

I’m about half way through Labyrinth Lost which is a coming of age witch or ‘bruja’ tale set in Latin America. Really enjoying it so far. I also started the second book in the Grisha trilogy but that’s taking a back seat for now. 

Then:   The Thousandth Floor ~ Katharine McGee

I wasn’t blown away by this, but I enjoyed it despite the multiple narration. My review is here.

Next: ??? 

I’m not actually sure this time. Either one the new ARCs listed below or maybe something from my TBR shelf.

New on the Shelves

From Netgalley: 

Reckless I: The Petrified Flesh ~ Cornelia Funke

I was delighted to hear that Cornelia Funke has updated and revised her Mirrorworld series because I didn’t get round to reading it the first time. I loved her Inkheart trilogy and also enjoyed The Thief Lord and Ghost Knight, so I’m looking forward to this one.

reckless1Enter the magical world behind the Mirrors…

Jacob has uncovered the doorway to another world, hidden behind a mirror. It is a place of dark magic and enchanted objects, scheming dwarves and fearsome ogres, fairies born from water and men born from stone.

Here, he hunts for treasure and seeks adventure in the company of Fox – a beautiful, shape-shifting girl, who guides and guards him.

But now Jacob’s younger brother has followed him into the mirrored world, and all that was freedom has turned to fear. Because a deadly curse has been spoken; and Jacob must risk his life to reverse it, before his brother is turned to stone forever…

Expected Publication: Sept 29th by Pushkin Press

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky ~ Holly Martin

I can’t wait to make this my first festive read this year. It sounds so heart-warming! Bye Summer, you can do one. 

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This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts… 

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

Expected Publication: September 22nd by Bookouture

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

Haunt Me ~ Liz Kessler

I’m hoping to get this for my annual Horror October.

hauntmeJoe wakes up from a deep sleep to see his family leave in a removals van. Where they’ve gone, he has no idea. Erin moves house and instantly feels at home in her new room. Even if it appears she isn’t the only one living in it. Bit by bit, Erin and Joe discover that they have somehow found a way across the ultimate divide – life and death. Bound by their backgrounds, a love of poetry and their growing feelings for each other, they are determined to find a way to be together.

Joe’s brother, Olly, never cared much for poetry. He was always too busy being king of the school – but that all changed when Joe died. And when an encounter in the school corridor brings him face to face with Erin, he realises how different things really are – including the kind of girl he falls for.

Two brothers. Two choices. Will Erin’s decision destroy her completely, or can she save herself before she is lost forever?

Expected Publication: October 6th 2016 by Orion Children’s Books

 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 🙂

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore [Out this week]

poisonartist

Title: The Poison Artist
Author: Jonathan Moore
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 228 pages
Publication Details: January 26th / 2nd Feb (UK) 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre(s): Thriller; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he’s out drinking whiskey when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial-murder investigation. The police have been fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One of the victims vanished from the bar the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information, nor does he tell them he’s been secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, study the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. The search for the killer soon entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

From the first pages up to the haunting, unforgettable denouement, The Poison Artist is a gripping thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape.

Review

I was in the mood for a gritty crime thriller so I figured The Poison Artist was the perfect ARC for the job. Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a let down.

I was really intrigued by the idea of a toxicologist studying and experimenting with the chemical effects of pain, and thought it would make a great thriller, but the majority of this story was about Caleb’s obsession with a mystery woman, and the whole toxicology thing took a back seat.

I think the main reason I wasn’t enamoured with this book was because I didn’t warm to Caleb at all. He’s ruined his marriage and is heading towards alcoholism which is taking its toll on his work. You know, a total downward spiral kind of thing. All he can think about is a brief encounter with a beautiful woman who drinks nothing but absinthe.

The mystery of the bodies turning up in the bay held my attention for a little while, but I just didn’t get hooked into the story and unfortunately I found it a slog to finish (although the ending did improve it)!

Not for me, but I’m sure some people will enjoy this murder mystery/ dark tale of infatuation.

unicorn rating 2