Lazy Saturday Review: Save Me, Kurt Cobain #BookReview #YA

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

2016debuts6Title: Save Me, Kurt Cobain
Author: Jenny Manzer
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 272 pages
Publication Details: March 8th 2016 by Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Contemporary YA
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from my friend Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads 

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What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father?

Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn’t exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom’s wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won’t let go.

On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.

Review

Save Me, Kurt Cobain was a super quick, entertaining read. I loved that Manzer used her love of Nirvana to shape this quirky story about an angsty teen who runs away from home to find out what happened to her mother who had disappeared years earlier.

did find parts of the story slightly unbelievable, and it drove me mad that Nico never told ‘Cobain’ who she thought he was which made me think that even she didn’t believe it, but the rest of the story was full of intrigue and successfully evoked that sense of confusion or feeling lost that so many teens go through… even when they don’t have an actual mystery to solve. 

I really enjoyed the relationship between Nico and her best friend, and that he was always in her mind – he was her rock without even knowing it. And the dynamic between Nico and Cobain was entertaining too. 

Overall, this was a solid contemporary read with some really great moments, but essentially, I didn’t quite fall in love with it. It is an absolute must read for Nirvana fans though, the author clearly knows her stuff/did her research. 

unicorn rating 3

Save Me, Kurt Cobain is out now!

This Month in Books: March 2016 #TMIB

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I know I say it every month but March was another busy one. I saw The Rocky Horror Show at Wimbledon Theatre, went to a gig which was a blast from the past of my school days (Reef), had a Shadowhunter’s marathon (oh my), had two Germans (friends not randoms) staying with me for a few days, finally saw Wicked, and drank a lot of wine and gin.

OK, so I didn’t read a huge amount but I had a great time! 😉

March 2016 Stats

Total Posts: 13 (-5 from previous month)

Books Read: 3 (-1)
Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen ~ Chris Riddell
The Amber Fury ~ Natalie Haynes
My Kind of Crazy ~ Robin Reul

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (1/3); Literary Fiction (1/3); Children’s Fiction (1/3); Contemporary (2/3)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (1/3); Digital (1/3); Hardback (0/3); Paperback (2/3); Owned (1/3); Borrowed (1/3); For Review (1/3)

Most Surprising: My Kind of Crazy
Most Disappointing: n/a
Most Exciting: The Amber Fury
Most Swoon-worthy:  n/a
Most Beautifully Written: The Amber Fury

Reviews: 3 (-3)

    • The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes, 3/5 (View)
    • All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, DNF (View)
    • The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell, 5/5 (View)

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 09.03.16
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Promos, Guest Posts and other Highlights

Awards

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TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 77

Books Added: 2

Books Read: 2

Remaining: 77

April Releases

Here are the April Releases I will be reading & reviewing

  • PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook (5th)
  • Can You Keep a Secret? (12th)
  • The Glittering Court (sample only) (5th)
  • Murder at the 42nd Street Library (26th)

Are you looking forward to any of these?

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage (#DNF #review) #OutToday

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Title: All Things Cease to Appear
Author: Elizabeth Brundage
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details: March 8th 2016 by Knopf
Genre(s): Thriller; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review

Goodreads // Waterstones

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Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone–for how many hours?–in her room down the hall.

He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at the private college nearby teaching art history, and moved his family into this tight-knit, impoverished town. And he is the immediate suspect–the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional.

While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. The pall of death is ongoing, and relentless; behind one crime are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.

At once a classic “who-dun-it” that morphs into a “why-and-how-dun-it,” this is also a rich and complex portrait of a psychopath and a marriage, and an astute study of the various taints that can scar very different families, and even an entire community.

Review

What came first…the book, or the book slump? Now there’s a question! I stopped reading this book at around the 35% mark, which I really try not to do for ARCs as I like to fulfil my end of the bargain as much as possible, but I just couldn’t. 

I’m not sure why, as it wasn’t badly written, or even overly dull, I just couldn’t muster the motivation to keep going. It may be nothing to do with the book, and everything to do with the fact that I read two really amazing books in a row and was a bit burnt out…who knows!?

All Things Cease to Appear has the makings of a really great mystery/thriller. George comes home to find his wife dead, brutally-murdered-dead, and his little girl alone and scared. George is instantly the prime suspect and his reaction to his wife’s death is quite strange, so he is always a suspect in the reader’s mind too. 

I think the main reason I couldn’t get into this book was because I didn’t like any of the characters in it. George is aloof and strange, even his parents are a bit – bland. Yes, bland is how I would describe most of the characters. 

I do think that if I was in the mood for this book it could have gone differently. I’m sure it would become clear why the characters were dubious, but I just wasn’t in the mood to get to the endgame. 

ATCTA may not have worked for me, but it might for you. I thought the lack of quotation marks for dialogue was interesting, and it actually didn’t bother me at all, I think it was just a mixture of bad timing and ambiguous characters that turned me off. 

I DNF at 35% and therefore won’t be giving it a rating.  

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell #OutThisWeek

madwomanTitle: The Madwoman Upstairs
Author: Catherine Lowell
Series: Into the Dim #1
Format: Digital ARC, 353 pages
Publication Details: March 1st 2016 by Touchstone
Genre(s): Literary Fiction; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review

Goodreads // Purchase

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.

Review

I’m not really sure why I requested this novel from Netgalley because I never got on with the classics at all and I couldn’t even differentiate between the Brontés (I can now though, whoop), but I can’t even express how happy I am that I gave it a go – I think it’s been my favourite of the year so far!

Samantha Whipple is the last living descendent of the Bronté family. She has been home-schooled by her father – with a heavy emphasis on literary criticism – and has a sharp mind as a result. She is also however, a bit strange and socially awkward, but adorably so.

Samantha has always lived with the Brontés legacy hanging over her like a cloud. It seems the more she tries to distance herself from them, the more they follow her around. Everyone assumes that she’s inherited a secret part of Bronté estate following from her father’s death but she has no idea what it could be or where.

When random Bronté books that belonged to her father start turning up she is both annoyed and intrigued about the whole thing. Luckily for Samantha she has a dashing tutor who may be willing to help her…

I loved everything about this book. The interactions between Samantha and Professor Orville were hilarious, and Samantha’s character in general (especially her hatred of all pretty much all fiction) just made me do actual LOLs. 

I loved the academic setting and the literary debates. It even made me want to revisit that world. Not that my time at uni was anything like this…but maybe it could have been! I loved that it was like a literary treasure hunt. I loved the debate about ‘is all good fiction actually the truth’. It was nice to read a book that actually made me think a bit.

It even made me want to try the classics again. Maybe. One day 😉

The Madwoman Upstairs is definitely a book for Lit nerds. Like me, you don’t have to enjoy the classics to enjoy this, but it would probably help if you’re interested in the study of literature in general. Oh, and did I mention how swoon-worthy the professor is? OK so yeah…unethical…but y’know…HOT. 

The Madwoman Upstairs gets ALL the unicorns from me!

unicorn rating

This Week in Books 02.03.16 #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. 

Whoop it’s Wednesday again! I read two really amazing books in a row and then descended into a huge reading slump, which is annoying. I never DNF but I felt like I had to this week! :s

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Now: The Amber Fury ~ Natalie Haynes // My Kind of Crazy ~ Robin Reul

I’m really hoping one of these (or both) gets me out of my reading slump because I have lots of ARCs to read and review for April!

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

I just could not get into All Things Cease to Appear and had to admit defeat at around 35%. It was an ARC so I’ll still be doing a mini-review which will be up next week. 

On the other end of the scale – I adored The Madwoman Upstairs! It was smart and funny, and just plain great. Look out for my review later today. 

Next: ??? 

I think I need to tackle The Crow Girl which sounds amazing and dark but I’ve only just realised it’s over 700 pages long. Gah! It’s out early April. 

 

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

I was approved for this from Netgalley, which was my Waiting on Wednesday pick last week (hurrah!). but other than that I haven’t bought or borrowed any books this week. Go me!

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

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After Kitty Hayward’s 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’d expect to help her are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities that is home to a handful of freaks. But even the unusual inhabitants of Magruder’s may not be a match for the insidious sickness that is plaguing Coney Island…

Expected Publication: June 1st 2016 by SOURCEBOOKS

 

 I’m Waiting On…

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

There Once Were Stars

I know we’re all a bit bored of this whole dystopia thang…but I really like the sound of this one. 

thereoncePeace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone? 

Expected publication: April 26th 2016 by Month9Books

 

 

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 🙂

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’s 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 🙂

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