Showcase Sunday #101

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I’m a little late with today’s post – we had a power cut earlier and the internet went down for a while. Obviously, it only happens when I’m out on Saturday and don’t have time to schedule my post in advance… Typical!

Anyway, how are you all? Are you excited about Dewey’s readathon? Who’s participating? I’m hoping to, but I still need to figure out which books I should start with. (I’m clearly not as organised as I was last time – this time last year I already had my snacks planned and everything!) I have quite a big pile of review books to go through but I want to sneak some UKYA books in there too.

Incoming

Panther by David Owen

Panther | The Three

The first book to land on my doorstep this week was Panther, a brand new UKYA novel by David Owen, which is being published next month. I was really intrigued by the blurb and am curious to see how the author deals with depression and its effect on the main character’s family, so fingers crossed it turns out to be a good read. Keep an eye on the blog for my review and a special giveaway in May! (And many thanks to Little, Brown for the review copy)

I also popped into a second hand bookshop in Notting Hill yesterday and picked up The Three, which I’ve been meaning to check out for ages. I’ve heard so many great things about it and the hype around its sequel was absolutely INSANE, so I need to know what all the fuss is about. I love thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat so I have high hopes for this one!

Read More »

Review: Normal – Graeme Cameron

Normal by Graeme Cameron

Normal by Graeme Cameron
Publication date: 9 April 2015
Publisher: MIRA
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781848453623
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★★

“The truth is I hurt people. It’s what I do. It’s all I do. It’s all I’ve ever done.”

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will – one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room, the others. He doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in. He might be able to cover his tracks, except for one small problem – he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn’t have come at a worse time.

I’ve been intrigued by Normal since the minute I read the blurb and, after hearing some amazing things about it from fellow bloggers, I couldn’t wait to pick it up. It was one of the books I was looking forward to reading the most this spring and I was really, really hoping it wouldn’t disappoint.

I LOVED the idea of being able to get inside the killer’s head and hearing the story from his perspective. Thrillers are one of my favourite genres but I rarely get to read books like that and I was really curious how Cameron would make it work.

I started reading the book while waiting for my flight back to the UK after a short holiday and was completely gripped by the first few chapters. I literally flew through the first hundred pages, frantically turning the pages and trying to make sense of what was happening or why this guy was doing this to his victims. I couldn’t stop raving about it on social media and was almost certain it would turn out to be one of the most chilling thrillers I’ve read in 2015.

It was all going well until I hit the 50% mark. From then on, it all kind of went downhill for me, for a number of reasons. One of them – and probably my biggest issue – is the fact that I just felt like the writer was trying way too hard to create a likeable character, a charming killer. The stories about helping a lost girl find his mum, helping the Girl Guides and buying flowers for a random girl he’s never met were just the icing on the cake. At this point I was already frustrated, but I felt like the story could have been much better without the ‘likeable anti-hero’ theme. This aspect didn’t work for me at all, not even at the beginning – although it might be a subjective thing.

Read More »

Showcase Sunday #100 + The Blog’s New Look!

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone and happy April! Where did the past three months go?! Christmas feels like two weeks ago – I can’t believe it’s spring already. How are you all? Any exciting plans for the bank holiday weekend?

I was hoping to go away for a couple of days but apparently, the trains aren’t running due to some engineering works, and the weather turned out to be pretty miserable too, so I decided to dedicate this weekend to blogging and reading instead. (The next best thing, really.)

In other, more exciting news, Books, Biscuits and Tea had a makeover last weekend! I’ve been thinking about changing my blog design for a while and I decided not to wait any longer. It’s a massive change from my blog’s previous look but I’m quite pleased with this minimalistic design! I still have a couple of things left to tweak and I’ll need to go through all my previous posts and make sure they are formatted in the same way, but I was too excited to wait with the launch! What do you guys think?

Incoming

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Read More »

Review: Out of Reach – Carrie Arcos

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos
Publication date: 16 October 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781442440548
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 

How do you find someone who doesn’t want to be found?

Rachel has always idolized her older brother Micah. He struggles with addiction, but she tells herself that he’s in control. And she almost believes it. Until the night that Micah doesn’t come home.

Rachel’s terrified–and she can’t help but feel responsible. She should have listened when Micah tried to confide in her. And she only feels more guilt when she receives an anonymous note telling her that Micah is nearby and in danger.

With nothing more to go on than hope and a slim lead, Rachel and Micah’s best friend, Tyler, begin the search. Along the way, Rachel will be forced to confront her own dark secrets, her growing attraction to Tyler…and the possibility that Micah may never come home.

Out of Reach has been sitting on my bookshelf for over two years now so, during a recent visit to my parents’ house, I decided it was time I finally picked it up. I’ve heard countless of great things about it when it first came out in the US, so I was a little surprised – and disappointed – when it didn’t turn out to be as good as I expected.

I liked the idea behind the story and the fact that Arcos (presumably) wants readers to get an insight into how drugs affect the lives of ordinary, everyday people and their families. I also liked the tiny bits of memories we hear about Rachel and Micah’s childhood, the time before Micah’s addiction, but that’s pretty much all I can say in favour of the book. It fell flat in every other way. It’s just… it’s nothing special. There’s nothing about the characters or the story itself that would make me remember the book in a few weeks’ or a month’s time. Even after reading 256 pages, I still feel like I don’t know Micah – or Rachel or Tyler, for that matter.

But, to be completely honest, I would have been okay with that. The dullness of the characters wouldn’t have mattered so much if I at least knew the story was going somewhere. But it wasn’t. The ending was just as disappointing as the rest of the story and, after nearly 300 pages, the only thing I could say was: ‘that’s it?’

Read More »

Guest Post: What Forbidden Places Would YOU Like to Visit?

Hello everyone! Today I’m excited to welcome author Helen Grant to my blog and kick off her Forbidden Spaces blog tour. To celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Helen wrote a special guest post (in collaboration with a number of other authors you will recognise) for you guys – I really hope you enjoy it!

*

The lure of the forbidden: it never gets old. The theme of my Forbidden Spaces trilogy is urban exploration. Over the course of the three novels, heroine Veerle De Keyser explores opulent empty houses, several castles (including one with a torture chamber) and the rooftops of an ancient city. The final book, Urban Legends, takes us underground to railway tunnels and sewers as brutal serial killer De Jager pursues Veerle and her friend Kris in a terrifying personal vendetta.

Urban explorers in an abandoned railway tunnel

Of all my books, researching Urban Legends was probably the most fun, and the most exciting. I went out with some real urban explorers to visit an abandoned factory; I also went down into the Brussels sewers and visited abandoned railway tunnels.

Abandoned Tunnel in Brussels
To celebrate the publication of Urban Legends on 26th March, I asked some of my fellow authors what forbidden places they would like to visit – it doesn’t have to be an abandoned building, it could be anywhere at all that you normally can’t go! Here’s what they said.

Emma Haughton, author of Now You See Me and Better Left Buried: “The vault in MI5 or wherever the government hides all its secrets. I would love to find out what is really going on. But then, I’d probably implode with outrage and indignation!”

Sarah Naughton, author of The Blood List: “The famous but possibly apocryphal tunnels under London.”

Dawn Kurtagich, whose novel The Dead House is out in August: “I would love to go to the Antarctic—to the south pole. They only let researchers go, generally, I think.”

Janet Edwards, author of the Earth Girl trilogy: “White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, because of what ended up as a very brief reference to White Sands in Earth Girl. It’s amazing the varied things I find myself researching for books. The last one was JCB mini digger controls, and before that it was kangaroos.”

Read More »

Showcase Sunday #99

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone! I hope you’re well – how was your week? Mine was pretty busy, as usual. I came back from my holiday last Sunday so the first few days at work were pretty manic. And now I’m ill… I managed to catch a cold on my way back to the UK (typical) so I spent my first weekend off lying in bed… Oh well.

Incoming

In Bloom by Matthew CrowThe Death House by Sarah PinboroughDeath House
In Bloom / The Death House

The Death House has been on my wishlist for a while (and I’ve heard so many great things about it even before it came out), so when I won a copy from the publisher a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to pick it up. I pretty much started reading it as soon as it landed on my doorstep. It’s an AMAZING story, but that’s all I’ll say for now – I’m writing my review as we speak, so keep an eye out for that!

Read More »

Review: The A to Z of You and Me – James Hannah

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
Publication date: 12 March 2015
Publisher: Doubleday
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780857522641
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Age group: Adult
Source: Curtis Brown Book Group
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★   

Ivo fell for her.
He fell for a girl he can’t get back.
Now he’s hoping for something.
While he waits he plays a game:

He chooses a body part and tells us its link to the past he threw away.
He tells us the story of how she found him, and how he lost her.
But he doesn’t have long.
And he still has one thing left to do…

The A to Z of You and Me has been on my wish list ever since I first read about it in the publisher’s catalogue last year and it was, understandably, one of my most anticipated books of 2015. The synopsis doesn’t give away too much and, for some reason, I always thought it was a young adult novel – but with so many YA cancer stories out there,  finding out that Ivo is, in fact, an adult was definitely a pleasant surprise.

The A to Z of You and Me centres around Ivo, a forty-year old man slowly dying of kidney disease. Ivo is lying in bed, on his own, in his local hospice and is waiting for death. To keep his mind occupied and take his mind off his increasing pain, his nurse Sheila (lovely Sheila, possibly my favourite character in this book) comes up with a game. She challenges Ivo to name a body part for each letter of the alphabet and think about a story or a memory he associates with each of these words. It is through these memories that we get to know Ivo and who he really is. It is through these flashbacks that we first hear about his friends, his girlfriend – and only love – Mia, his illness and all those events that lead to the present day.

I loved the fact that the author didn’t want to create a perfect, flawless character. It’s clear that Ivo has made some wrong decisions in his life which might have lead to where he is now, but he’s not looking for sympathy. The book doesn’t try to be sentimental – and that’s what makes it different.

Read More »