Monday, 18 December 2017


Published: September 2017 - Bloomsbury Children's.
Genres: Middle grade / fantasy / adventure
Pages: 288.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Very, very mild violence and threat.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice. But that's exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside. No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison ...

I don't typically read Middle Grade books, but after reading Di's review of this one, I was convinced to request a review copy.
I'm so glad I did.

The writing is lovely. It's a Middle Grade book, so obviously it reads very MG, and there's a charm and elegance to that and the author's style. I like it, even though there is a bit too much telling instead of showing throughout the book.
The dialogue is disappointing. It definitely isn't terrible, but it isn't particularly exciting or original or witty either.

I love that the story's action starts right away. It flows so smoothly and naturally, and you're caught up in the danger from the very first page. I adore that, and I adore that there's no info dumping either. Lauren begins her story perfectly. The plot is also great, with lots of twists and turns and tons of delicious secrets seething beneath the icy world and its inhabitants. I love how you're constantly kept guessing.

This unique, Russian-inspired fantasy world is without a doubt my favourite aspect of the book. It's so vivid and gorgeously chilly, and the descriptions are stunning. I love its originality, not to mention the terrific bending of gender tropes: a Queen rules the lands, instead of a King, and her next in line is her daughter, not her son. It's awesome!

I should feel worse than I do, chilled to the bone, hungry and still tired. I should be terrified that I'm going to get caught. But all I can think about as I hurry away is that I did it. I found Sasha. And now there's nothing I won't do to get her out of Tyur'ma. 

Valor is a wonderful, resourceful, fierce little heroine. I love how committed she is to her goals and saving her sister, and how relentlessly persistent she is when it comes to achieving them. I especially adore her and Sasha's relationship; its a strong, positive, beautifully tender sister to sister dynamic, something that isn't present an awful lot in books these days. 
There are other great relationships too. I love Valor's platonic friendships (there is NO romance in this book) and the emphasis on family. It's truly heartfelt. 

As for the other characters, I found them a bit lacking. No one bounces off the pages with concrete personality, and I wish everyone had been more fleshed out. It would've strengthened their friendships and relationships. 

Prisoner of Ice and Snow is a passionate prison-break adventure story that shines with themes of sisterhood, family, and even feminism. The world building is exquisite, the descriptions are glorious, and I imaging even most YA readers would find themselves won over by this Middle Grade gem. 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Weekly Round-Up: I'm baaaaaack

I'm back after a week away at camp! It had its good and bad aspects, but overall I'm just glad to be back home. 

Otherwise, things are ok. I'm so tired all the time, intimidated by the editing I need to do on my novel, and struggling with some personal things too. It's a pain, but I'm excited for Christmas. I love the family gatherings :) 

Posts of the last two weeks: 
Book Review: KEEPER

None of these books are wowing me, but I am enjoying Prisoner of Ice and Snow.

I got an amazing paperback haul this week, four of the books ones I hadn't even requested. I am SUPER excited to dive into them! 

Among the leading movie nominations are The Shape of Water with seven, Lady Bird with four, and I, Tonya, The Greatest Showman and Dunkirk with three each.  

IT LOOKS SO AWESOME. Just please let my baby Newt survive. That's all I ask. Please. 

Their wedding is to be held in St. George's Chapel on the 18th of May 2018, and will have live TV coverage. 

Because I was away at camp and because I haven't yet had the chance to catch up, I am begging you guys to promote your blog posts! Simply leave the links to one or two posts you've published in the last week or so in a comment on this post, and I promise to visit them, leave a comment, and share them on Twitter. That way you get some promotion and I get to read what I've missed. 
Please leave your links!! 

What's up, peeps? How's your week been? Can you believe it's almost Christmas?! What are you currently reading

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Blog Tour & Excerpt: ROLL THE DICE by Wayne Avrashow

Happy Saturday everyone! Today I'm delighted to be participating in the blog tour for what looks like a fierce political thriller. Read on to find out more about the book and enjoy an excerpt...

Published: November 28, 2017 - Fiery Seas Publishing
Genre: Political Thriller

What happens when one of America’s biggest rock stars leaves the Las Vegas stage to run for the United State Senate? The ultimate celebrity candidate, Tyler Sloan is no stranger to politics – his estranged father was a California governor who narrowly lost a Presidential campaign. He runs as a political independent, refuses campaign contributions, and dismisses special interests and lobbyists. Sloan is caught in a political campaign fraught with; sexual scandal, corruption and conflicting loyalties. Will he be able to navigate through political turbulence and his own past to win the race?

Goodreads / Amazon / Kobo / iTunes / Barnes & Noble /

Wayne Avrashow was the campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns and a Deputy/Chief of Staff to those two elected City Council members. He served as a senior advisor for a successful city-wide referendum in the City of Los Angeles, co-authored ballot arguments on Los Angeles County-wide measures, served as Chairman for a Los Angeles County ballot measure, and was a Los Angeles government Commissioner for nearly twenty years. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Yaroslavsky Institute, a public policy institute founded by long time Southern California elected official, and now UCLA professor, Zev Yaroslavsky. His background in politics, government, business, and law provides unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns. Wayne is a practicing attorney who specializes in government advocacy, real estate, and business law. Formerly, he was an officer in two real estate development firms. As a lawyer-lobbyist, he has represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at his law school and taught at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He has also authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers, legal, business, and real estate publications. In addition, he is the author of a self-published book for the legal community, Success at Mediation—10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys.

Primm, Nevada, was an instant city—almost an illusion as it magically rose from the desert on the Nevada-California border with three casinos and a shopping outlet mall. The Back Country Conference held at Primm’s Whiskey Pete’s Hotel was created to lure tourists to Nevada’s cow counties; to many, they were just vast masses on Nevada’s map.
            Several attendees at the conference turned to shoot glances at Sloan as he conversed with Bree in the rear of the ballroom. He never failed to recognize that fame was his hole card.
            “This speech the aides drafted is recycled gruel,” Sloan muttered as he skimmed the bullet points of a speech listed on a series of index cards. “Do you think I need this?”
            Bree responded with a silent nod.
            “No nods. Talk to me. I didn’t hire you to nod,” he said firmly.
            She leaned closer to him and covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m just the go-between, Martino had me give these to you. My view? It’s beyond this stack of cards they gave you; this staff is draining the life out of you. I’d give you one card with a few points and let you wing it. Look at them, half of this crowd is staring back at you. You know want they want.”
            Sloan smiled at the obvious reminder; this group wanted Tyler Sloan. “I’ve got it.” He handed the briefing cards to Bree. “Put your sweet lips on these and kiss them goodbye.”
            Sloan walked to the stage, fueled by the Game’s speedball rush of adrenaline. He likened it to emerging from backstage to start a concert. He grinned broadly at the adulation.
            “Use me!” Sloan opened with a suddenness that appeared to jolt the audience. “I’m visiting each of Nevada’s seventeen counties. I can handle a mountain bike, done a little river rafting, and love to hike. Post those photos on the net, link your social media to mine, and together we’ll spread the word about all of Nevada!”
            Many in the crowd stood and clapped appreciatively.
            “Do you really think the Democrats, Republicans, and their special interests care about Ely?” he asked in a mocking tone. “Have they ever set foot in Fallon?”
            The response was loud. “Nooo!”
            “Have the Democrats or Republicans and their special interests stimulated the economy in your town?” Sloan reveled in the give-and-take. “I can’t imagine you want more needless, senseless, big-government regulations hamstringing your businesses.”
            Others joined those already standing to shout their agreement. The applause dial was spinning madly.
            “Let’s take it back!” Sloan shouted. “Let’s take our government back!” Sloan visualized the crowd’s energy in his palm. He gave it a gentle squeeze by raising his voice. “The two parties think they’re too good for rural Nevada! Not me! We’re united! Let’s take it back!”
            “Take it back!” A number of voices rang out. “Take it back! Take it back!”
            “Take it back,” Sloan commanded with a full smile. “You’ve got true grit—let’s show it! The two parties have no clue! Let’s take it back! Take it back!”
            “Take it back! Take it back!” the room echoed.
            Sloan concluded his speech and nearly dove into the crowd, exchanging high-fives, hugs, and handshakes. He looked among the faces for Bree, and his eyes settled on her. She was mouthing, “Viral.”

Roll the Dice - Wayne Avrashow

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt! Does this book look like something you'd love to read? 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

I AM WATCHING YOU - by Teresa Driscoll

I AM WATCHING YOU - Teresa Driscoll
Published: October 2017 - Thomas and Mercer.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary / mystery
Pages: 300.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Frequent sexual innuendo and sexual themes / infrequent, mild violence / incidences of self harm / strong suicide themes / mature content / themes of child abuse
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
What would it take to make you intervene? When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared. A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life. Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own. Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

Ever requested a book to review, never received a reply, forgot you requested it, and then it arrives on your doorstep? That's what happened with me and this book. And wow, am I so glad I got the chance to read it!

The writing is immensely profound. The language is simple but strong, and the attention to detail is brilliant. Driscoll is incredibly perceptive when it comes to human relationships and relatable, human struggles. There are a lot of details she digs into, but it's never boring. I adored every minute of her tantalizing story.

The suspense is to-die-for. The information of the mystery is revealed so seamlessly, and the shocks and twists are constant and unpredictable. I literally did not know what to believe or who to root for. Driscoll manipulates the reader beautifully, and when the climax finally comes, the final revelation is shocking. I was gaping and my mind was whirling - in the best way possible.

It is so odd that you can stand in a space - a place in which you normally feel so happy and safe - and then suddenly you can stand in precisely the same spot and feel like this completely different person.    I don't want to be this person. I hate this new person.

The characters are excellent. Everyone is so twisty and three-dimensional and damaged. I love how you literally do not know who to trust right up to the last quarter of the book. Everyone has motives, everyone has secrets, and their stories are gorgeously woven together. It is a big cast, but it's handled so well. You soon get a grip on who everyone is and they're all so vivid.
I love everyone's unique contributions to the story. Everyone has a vital role, and while Sarah's probably the only character I truly, wholeheartedly like, I still appreciate the other characters for who they are and for what they give to the story. They're well-drawn people.

I Am Watching You is as chilling and unsettling as its title. The characters are vivid, human, and everyone is hiding something. The mystery is shockingly clever, and the twists are astounding. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Mini TV series reviews

If you're expecting a Weekly Round-Up post today, this post is instead of that. I'm actually away at camp at the moment and so scheduling a "fun review post" seemed more appropriate than a Weekly Round-Up, which I would've had to write up on Thursday before I left and thus it would be a bit outdated and I wouldn't have had much to say about the week.

So! Here we are.

Please feel free to chat with me in the comments and let me know if you've seen any of these shows!

Cast: James Spader / Megan Boone
Date: 2013 - present
Content Advisory: PG16 for frequent violence and gore, sexual innuendo, and mature content.

The Blacklist // A new FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen, has her entire life uprooted when a mysterious criminal, Raymond Reddington, who has eluded capture for decades, turns himself in and insists on speaking only to her. 

I've watched most of the first series, and to be honest my feelings about it are mixed. The acting is good, but Boone has no chemistry with her onscreen husband and more with her character's fellow detective. Also, while the stories are exciting, they're too romanticised and frequently riddled with plot holes. It's a bit hard to suspend disbelief.
Overall, it's a decent crime show, but not anything amazing.

Cast: Amybeth McNulty / Geraldine James / R.H. Thomson
Date: 2017 - present
Content Advisory: PG13 for mild suggestive content and infrequent violence and threat. Mature themes are raised.

Anne with an E //  The adventures of a young orphaned girl living in the late 19th century. Follow Anne as she learns to navigate her new life on Prince Edward Island, in this new take on L.M. Montgomery's classic novels. 

This series is one of those TV shows I think would be more successful as an original show than a remake. The cinematography is stunning, but the acting of the kids isn't great and the story takes huge liberties with the original Anne of Green Gables story. Anne also comes across mean and downright cruel at times, and her friendship with Diana feels forced.

The story is also a lot darker - with bullying and PTSD coming in - and I hate how they've somehow "taken the hope" out of Anne's story. They've altered characters and personalities, and changed huge elements off the original plot. If this was an original show, those elements would probably work perfectly. But as it is, Anne with an E feels like a betrayal of the beautiful origin tale.

Cast: Michelle Dockery / Jack O'Connell
Date: 2017 - present
Content Advisory: PG16 for gore, violence, and one scene of strong sexual content (rape).

Godless // Frank Griffin, an outlaw terrorizing the 1880s American West, hunts down Roy Goode, his partner turned enemy. Roy hides out at a ranch as Frank's chase leads him to La Belle, New Mexico - a town mysteriously made up almost entirely of women.

This was not what I was expecting. It's supposed to be about this Western frontier town dominated by women, but I'm on the 5th episode and there's hardly any women! All I'm getting is men's stories, dialogue between men, and the focus on men men men.
The cinematography and direction are excellent, and the acting is decent, but when men are getting 85% of the screen time and lines in a self-proclaimed "female dominated show" I have an issue with that. Not to mention the story's also extremely tedious and it takes a while for anything to happen.

Cast: Ashley Benson / Lucy Hale / Trojan Bellisario / Shay Mitchell
Date: 2010 - present
Content Advisory: PG13 for infrequent violence, constant peril, and sexual innuendo.

Pretty Little Liars // Four friends who band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets, while also investigating the disappearance of their best friend. 

This show has the characters we've seen a dozen times before on other teen shows. The stereotypes are bent slightly, but even then the characters are flat and the acting contrived. There's little real suspense, and the dialogue and stories are weak. It's an overhyped series that's cool for light, relaxing watching, but has no real depth or substance. I also found it extremely boring.


What TV shows are you watching at the moment? Have you seen any of these? What do you think of them? 

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Blog Squad: Part 30

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions. 


What is one thing you’d like to see more of in the book blogosphere?

Hmmm. This is actually a really tough one because the book blogging community is already one of the best Internet communities out there (IMHO). There’s such amazing support and reciprocation in the book blogging community it’s hard to ask for something more!

If I HAD to say anything I’d probably say something like a more grouplike conversation base - instead of chatting one on one commenter to blog owner it would be cool to be able to open the floor more and really discuss. I’m not sure if this means commenting on other people’s comments or if it means opening up to a different platform entirely… Goodreads threads? I don’t know. Is there something out there that I don’t know about?

I 100% agree with Amy on this one! I’d love to see more bloggers speak out about the topics they feel passionate about. I know the blogosphere is a wonderful place to be and most of us are also afraid to post about controversial topics and unpopular opinions. I myself have been very hesitant about posting unpopular reviews or talking about controversial bookish topics so I honestly understand the fear about it. But all those who read this blog, if you’ve been planning to write such a post, let me know when you do! I’ll get there at your post to show my support!

What is one thing you’d like to see less of in the book blogosphere?

As I said, this community is amazing so there’s nothing terrible that I’d like to see less of in our little corner of the blogosphere.

I guess the thing I’d like to see less of is blogger insecurities. It’s something that we’re all guilty of - thinking that our blog isn’t big/popular enough, pretty enough, that we don’t read enough, review well enough etc.

Well here’s that little reminder that we sometimes all need:

YOU ARE ALL AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Keep doing what you are doing. Keep getting out there and discussing and commenting!

I’m gonna agree with my squad members and say #bloggerinsecurities. ALL OF YOUR BLOGS ARE AWESOME MY DEARIES!! Don’t ever doubt that. It makes me so sad when some bloggers stop blogging because they feel no one is reading their content or their blogs aren’t good enough. I’ve been through that myself when I first started blogging and would see so many big bloggers getting ARCs, doing interviews with bestselling authors, and have so many followers and comments! Truth is, we bloggers ought to be comfortable being who we are and be patient while we grow. The blogosphere is such a wonderful place to make friends from all around the globe so let’s enjoy the experience rather than making it feel like a chore!

Because we all LOVE book bloggers, name 5 lesser known blogs you think everyone should visit.

Geybie has been a long time follower of The Blog Squad posts and has an amazing blog. I really enjoy her ‘Recommend Me Books’ topics and you can pick up a whole hoard of ideas for your TBRs from her blog.

Suzanne is another AMAZING blogger and I’ve picked up some awesome reads on her recommendations! Her reviews are always thoughtful and in depth and she reads a great variety of books.

Lindsey is another longtime follower of our Blog Squad posts and she has an awesome blog where I have again, picked up some awesome recommendations and in fact some of my favourite books of all time.

Verushka has a very cool blog over at and does weekly 5 Books Recs posts that I love and her reviews are insightful and honest.

Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons is run by the very cool and awesome Stefanie who blogs about books, arts and crafts and the most delicious looking, mouth watering foods!

Dani at Perspective of a Writer has one of the most gorgeous blog designs I’ve ever seen and I LOVE her non review posts so much! She’s a brilliant writer and I love her About Me page so much!

Camillea at Camillea Reads along with having a gorgeous name also has a gorgeous blog! I love her non review posts too. She has such great thoughtful discussion posts I’m really enjoying!

I’ve been visiting Readers in Wonderland for a while now but Bec deserves special mention for her absolutely gorgeous bookish pictures and her fun book posts! I love how she so many of “5 reasons to read this book” posts that are so fun!

Tasya at The Literary Huntress has a pretty neat blog with great reviews! Also she loves Supernatural, food and she’s also a science student like me! Yay Tasya!!

Vera and Ruzi at The Regal Critiques are amongst my favorite book bloggers! Their reviews rock and they both have such a sassy way of writing that I love! Also fellow diverse bloggers!!

Come check out my answers over at their collab posts!: 

 We hope you’ve enjoyed Part 30 in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!