Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin Jacobsen has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow. But the next day Margo doesn't come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance . . . and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery - culminating in another awesome road trip across America - he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for.

I read this with my buddy reader pal Kath. We’ve read a few together now and this was our second John Green novel, the first being Looking For Alaska. 

We both enjoyed this one, and we kept on chatting throughout about what was happening. We both agreed on the ending being not what we expected, and a little disappointing. But overall we enjoyed the story. It gave me ‘Looking For Alaska’ vibes, the kids running around, sneaking away from the grown ups and doing random stuff they shouldn’t have been doing.

I like Q, and I liked his friends. Margo was a bit hit and miss for me, sometimes I liked her, sometimes I didn’t. 

If you like John Greens books I’d recommend it. 

Friday, July 8, 2022

Sh**ged, Married, Annoyed by Chris and Rosie Ramsay



Saturday nights out on the tiles, undying crushes, dating like it's a competitive sport, awkward tales of dating woes, one-night stands, the walk of shame, ghosting, tears and break-ups.


Finding 'the one', meeting their parents, first holidays and romantic weekends away, engagement rings, big moment proposals, wedding bells, the hen do, the stag, the much anticipated - and feared - best man speech, the honeymoon of a lifetime.


Who stacks a dishwasher like this? Empty milk cartons placed back into the fridge, pregnancy, sleepless nights, toilet seats up, toothpaste everywhere, less and less frequent date nights, DIY weekends, divorce.

Whether you're sh**ged, married, annoyed, or, all of the above, Chris and Rosie Ramsey, hosts of the number one podcast, write hilariously and with honesty about the universal highs and lows of life, dating, relationships, arguments, parenting and everything in between.

I’ve always liked Chris and Rosie, but recently binged all of their tv series and now bloody love them lol. So obviously I had to get another fix and buy their book (late to the party I know). This book is so freaking funny, I laughed out loud in so many places (places of the book, not actual places, I read it all at home… some of it on the loo, that could have fit in with their ‘poo section’). 

Okay, anyway yes this book is hilarious, and soooo true. There were so many bits I know everyone will resonate with, but the parenting bits were just absolutely spot on. The emails from fans were brilliant, the stories sometimes disgusting were also hilarious (I could probably have my own chapter in there to be honest). But I loved the way you can just get their relationship from the way they were talking (or typing), they bounce off each other so well. They seem a perfect fit, and they are both so funny, but you know they really do love each other. 

So to Chris and Rosie from a fellow Geordie, please write another book, do more tv, and keep on laughing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Hive by Scarlett Brade

Should he live or die? You decide.

Charlotte Goodwin looks directly at the camera and reveals a chilling truth to the thousands watching her Instagram Live broadcast. She has killed her ex-boyfriend's new partner in cold blood. But she is not finished yet. The viewers must now vote to decide whether he should live or die. The public display sends shockwaves rippling through the online community and the numbers of viewers skyrockets. But as Lincoln's past is revealed, how will he be judged?

The Hive explores our darkest fears of the relationship between social media and mental health, but, most importantly, the strength of sisterhood against all the odds.

The Hive was Tsundoku Squads June read, although most of us didn’t get round to it, which is totally fine, we dip in and out as we need too :)

I was looking forward to this one, but ended up giving it a 2.5 rating. I was enjoying at first, I liked the social media side of things, seeing the tweets and comments. It also made me see how easy it is for people to jump on the bandwagon so to speak, people were commenting and ‘hitting die for the bants’. The friendship between the girls was obviously a good close one, and you can tell that throughout, but the story got to the point where it was just not believable, and rather over the top. I thought the ending wasn’t great, but what I think bugged me the most was how easy it was to figure out.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Musicals as Books Challenge

I love seeing everyone’s different challenges, and love trying to take part while I can. Lately I’ve been a bit lazy with them, so I’m hoping making my own will help me get back in the swing of things for the second half of the year.

I decided to do a musicals as books challenge. I made 12 prompts and a template. I’ll add them here, and add my progress on my Reading Challenges 2022 page.

You can also find the blank templates over on my Instagram account highlights.

If you join in make sure to tag me and use the hashtag #deesmusicalsasbookschallenge :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

WWW Wednesday 29.6.22


I haven’t joined in with WWW Wednesday for so long! So I’m going to try to do it more. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Worlds.

Currently reading: I’m reading 2 books at that moment, The Hive by Scarlett Brade for TsundokuSquads June read, and The Adoption papers by Jackie Kay.

Recently finished: The last book I finished was The Blackbird by Tim Weaver, which I was sent an amazing proof, and loved it! 

Could read next: I think next I will move onto my next buddy read with my friend Kath, we’re planning Paper Towns by John Green for July.

See you again next week, see if my options have changed!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Book Tour. The Blackbird by Tim Weaver

David Raker is back with another heart-pounding and tense missing persons case. Ten seconds before the crash, Cate and Aiden Gascoigne are recorded on CCTV. The couple are laughing - happy, untroubled. Then their car plunges into a ninety-foot ravine.

The impact should kill them. And if that doesn't, the fire will. Within seconds, the vehicle is an inferno - with the Gascoignes trapped inside. But when fire crews arrive at the scene, they find something impossible. The vehicle is empty. Cate and Aiden have vanished.

Now only missing persons investigator David Raker can solve the mystery…

I was asked by Jennifer from Michael Joseph if I’d like to be on the tour for The Blackbird. I had already received a gorgeous #gifted proof of this book from Mubarak Elmubarak, Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House. I have him to thank massively, I don’t think I’d have picked this up without him asking me if I’d like to read it. I’d never read a Weaver book before.

So I’ve been really tired lately, and have been falling asleep every time I try to read, so I haven’t been getting far with The Blackbird. That is until recently when I absolutely drank in the last ⅓ of the book in one sitting. 

Wow is Tim Weaver a good writer or what?! I thought I had maybe a small idea of where the story was going, then you hit a certain point where he just smacks you in the face with all the twists! And he pulls no punches, the twists keep coming right until the book ends, and it ends on a cliffhanger that makes me desperate to find out what’s coming next! The main character of Raker was great, I loved reading about him visiting all the places in my hometown, wandering down Dean Street, seeing the bridges, the Metrocentre, and plenty more. 

I’m definitely up for going back to the start and reading all of the Raker novels.

Thanks again to Jennifer for asking me to be on the tour, to Murabak for talking me into reading it, and Mr Weaver for writing a bloody great story!

My name is on the book sleeve!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Silent Brother by Simon Van Der Velde

When his beloved little brother is stolen away, five-year-old Tommy Farrier is left alone with his alcoholic mam, his violent step-dad and his guilt. Too young to understand what has really happened, Tommy is sure of only one thing. He is to blame.

Tommy tries to be good, to live-up to his brother’s increasingly hazy memory, but trapped in a world of shame and degradation he grows up with just two options; poverty or crime. And crime pays.

Or so he thinks.

A teenage drug-dealer for the vicious Burns gang, Tommy’s life is headed for disaster, until, in the place he least expects, Tommy sees a familiar face...

And then things get a whole lot worse

I was extremely excited when Simon asked me if I’d like to be an early reader for The Silent Brother, and waited in anticipation for my review ebook so I could dig straight in. And boy am I glad I got to read this!! Thanks so much to him and Northodox Press for my arc ebook.

The Silent Brother had me glued to the screen. Being a born and bred Geordie had me loving reading about the places in the book, the bars and pubs, the areas I know and pass through quite often. We took our kids to Inflataspace last week, and passed the Byker Wall on the Metro, I immediately thought of Tommy and Annie.I love it when a book does that, and places and things take you back to it.

So The Silent Brother had been described to me by someone as a Geordie ‘Shuggie Bain’, and you know what? They were totally right. The sadness and poverty in the story really shows itself and is always there in the background. The crime rang so true, in Newcastle the crime, especially drug related crime is huge, and something we see around here more often than not. Reading the way Tommy felt like working for the drug gang was the best way forward, makes you see how easy it is to be pulled into a lifestyle like that. 

The first few chapters had me reading with my hand on my chest, and as I told Simon, my stomach was in my arse! Benji, oh sweet Benji, his story is remembered all the way through the story, and pulled at my heart strings. But also Annie, ‘the girl with the scrunched up face’. I loved reading about her and Tommys friendship and how it developed when they were young. 

There were so many things that made me smile, or cry, but I don’t want to get into much more and spoil anything. 

Please give this book a go, it really is amazing. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ben and Sally by Oliver Sparshot

Ben has ditched his entire life to move to London, and Sally needs a roommate. A match made in heaven? Maybe not - because Ben is more interested in sleeping in other men's beds than finding one of his own, and Sally is probably the worst housemate in the entire city!

Based on a real life diary, this funny, heart-warming and true story leaves NOTHING to the imagination.

Okay, so this book opens with a bang (literally by the way)! I was gutted I missed out on being on the tour, so I decided to buy it on release day and read it as quick as I could. It is absolutely hilarious, and down right rude! In a good way though.

I love the way each chapter starts with a little text conversation between Ben and Sally (& Kate), and it had me guessing for so long as to who Kate was, we find out about halfway through the story, and it made so much sense! I love both Ben and Sally, and think they would just be perfect friends. Ben’s mother also plays a brilliant role, and has some smashing crack.

There were so many laugh out loud parts, at one point I even snorted and the dog looked at me funny! The best line from the story is ‘Yes! It’s too much for a fucking ice cream.’ This was the snorty part.

Along with all the laughs is a whole butt load of sex (don’t pardon the pun, the pun was intentional), and boy oh boy is it graphic! But don’t let that put you off, as the story is just brilliant, a hoot and a half. 

I’m really looking forward to season 2, and I’m definitely going to try to jump on the tour for that one (so keep me informed Instabooktourstours!!)

Falling by T.J Newman

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don't know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot's family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

I read this with my friend Kath, I love our buddy reads as we always chat loads.

Well if this book isn’t gripping then I don’t know what the hell is! I was glued. I read the first 8 chapters, then stopped to let Kath catch up. But once we both started properly again, we had to finish. I raced through the last 100 or so pages in one morning as I just couldn’t put it down!

The book all takes place within 6 hours I think, either on the plane or down on the ground with the Bad Guy, and the pilot’s family. All I kept thinking was what would I do in this situation. The pilot is amazing, Bill his name is. I loved reading his parts, trying to figure out what he was going to do, how he was feeling, and how was he staying so calm? There were so many times me or Kath messaged each other saying things like ‘OMG ch8’! OMG ch 18’.

Honestly I’d recommend everyone read this, what a debut novel it is! Fast paced, edge of your seat thriller. Very exciting read . Well done Ms Newman… I don’t know if I’ll fly again!

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

I have killed several people (some brutally, others calmly) and yet I currently languish in jail for a murder I did not commit.

When I think about what I actually did, I feel somewhat sad that nobody will ever know about the complex operation that I undertook. Getting away with it is highly preferable, of course, but perhaps when I'm long gone, someone will open an old safe and find this confession. The public would reel.

After all, almost nobody else in the world can possibly understand how someone, by the tender age of 28, can have calmly killed six members of her family. And then happily got on with the rest of her life, never to regret a thing.

How To Kill Your Family was Tsundoku Squads May read. We done this one a little different, one of us found a book group app where comments are hidden until you click the post. So we decided to make little chats for each chapter so we could choose which ones to discuss when we wanted.

This meant though some of us finished the book quickly, so we had to catch up on others comments when we were done. I liked doing it this way, it meant I could get on with reading the book instead of pieces each week, I think it helped me enjoy it more.

I gave this book 5 stars, I loved it. It was a bit far fetched at times but I think that added to the excitement. I realised I was rooting for the main character the whole time, and she’d offed most of her family, she was not a good person! The killings are all different, one was extremely strung out and a lot of work went into it. Others were still researched but happened a little quicker.

I was a little disappointed with the end but not enough to lower the rating I gave it. I’d recommend this one, a funny book with some mad twists.

Check out Em’s collective group thoughts over on her blog emandherbooks.com

Monday, June 13, 2022

Book Tour - The Setup by Lizzy Dent

There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.

Mara Williams reads her horoscope every day - but she wasn't expecting to be in a whole other country when destiny finally found her. Just as a fortune teller reveals that her true love is about to arrive, a gorgeous stranger literally walks into her life. And now Mara is determined to bring them together again . . . Surely even fate needs a nudge in the right direction sometimes?

But while Mara is getting ready for 'the one', the universe intervenes. Her new flatmate Ash is funny, and kind, and sexy as hell . . . There was no predicting this: it's as if her destiny just arrived on her doorstep.

So will Mara put her destiny in fate's hands - or finally trust herself to reach for the stars?

I was very excited when this book dropped through my door, I loved The Summer Job and love being part of Lizzy’s Lobster Army!

I ended up giving The Setup 3.5 stars. I was drawn in at first, but felt the second half dwindled a bit. I liked Mara, but at times I found her quite annoying. There were things she done which I just thought probably wasn’t a good idea. I loved the fact that she started concentrating on herself, making herself feel better etc.

 I loved the character of Ash, and found him a very kind person. I also really liked Joseph, the gorgeous stranger, I loved the idea of him being in the orchestra, and I imagined him like someone’s from 2 Cellos. 

I know who I was rooting for throughout the story, I wonder if you were or will root for the same person!

Thanks to Viking Books for my beautiful proof, and for asking me to be on the tour. Good luck to Lizzy for the release!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

BLOG TOUR - Wild Fires by Sophie Jai

Grief is like an inside joke: you have to have been there to really get it.

The only things Cassandra knows about her family are the stories she's heard in snatches over the years: about the aunt and cousin she never got to meet, about the man from the folded-up photograph in one of her aunt's drawers, and of course about her cousin Chevy, and why he never speaks - but no one utters a word about them any more.

When a call from one of her sisters brings Cassandra news of Chevy's death, she has to return home for the funeral. To Toronto and the big house on Florence Street, where her sisters are hiding more than themselves in their rooms, where the tension brewing between her mother and aunts has been decades in the making, and where sooner or later every secret, unspoken word and painful memory will find its way out into the open.

Moving between Toronto and Trinidad, Wild Fires is a vivid and compelling story exploring the ways we mourn and why we avoid the very things that can save us.

I was very excited to be on the tour for Wild Fires, and love the beautiful physical copy HarperCollins sent me.

Wild Fires is a story of grief, it delves so deep into how grief and death effect everyone differently. I loved the character Cass, and I loved her mother. What a character her mother was! I did laugh out loud at a couple of phrases she used, I could picture her perfectly in my head. Big, headstrong, no nonsense woman, who wouldn’t be afraid to smack you round the head if you were cheeky.

Cassandra’s family seemed so shrouded in mystery and secrets, and I loved figuring things out from the past. I particularly enjoyed the parts which went back to the past, to Trinidad, when the aunts were young, getting jobs, meeting boys etc. The sound of the fresh food in the store, the colours and the heat. Made me want to be there. 

I think you’d like this book, it stays with you for a while after. Try it. 

Thanks again to HarperCollins for letting me join the tour, and the book. And of course to Sophie Jai for writing it.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer


A young man walks into the woods on the worst morning of his life and finds something there that will change everything.

It's a tale that might seem familiar. But how it speaks to you will depend on how you've lived until now.

Sometimes, to get out of the woods, you have to go into them. Isaac and the Egg is one of the most hopeful, honest and wildly imaginative novels you will ever read.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher Headline Books, in return for an honest review. 

I’ve had my eye on this book for quite a while now, the minute I saw it on Twitter I knew I wanted to read it. So when I was approve on Netgalley after months of waiting for it to be there, I was so excited.

I devoured this book over 2 days, if I hadn’t been so tired the first day and kept falling asleep I would have read it in one sitting. But finishing the last 50% while I was on the exercise bike, was not the best idea. By the end I could barely see through the sweat, and the many amounts of tears I cried reading the final chapters.

This is a beautiful story of grief, loss, love, and acceptance. The relationship between Isaac and the Egg is a lovely one, and it grows so much in ever so slight ways, that you don’t realise for a while they’ve gone from acquaintances to friends. I loved getting to know Egg, his funny little language, and the helpful things he tries to do for Isaac. The toaster scene made my smile. 

I really think everyone should read this book, and I think if you have been struggling with some grief or loss in your life, you might even find a bit of comfort in it. Thank you Bob Palmer, for bringing Isaac and the Egg into my life.

Thanks again to Headline Books for my arc copy, Netgalley, and of course Mr Palmer for breaking my heart, then mending it again.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

First Born by Will Dean

The last thing a twin expects is to be alone...

Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.

Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.

But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin's last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.

I received a copy of this from the publisher Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I loved Will Dean’s The Last Thing To Burn, so when I first heard about First Born, I was very excited. As well as my Netgalley copy, I also had this on preorder, and was happy to go back and forth between the physical and ebook version.

I loved this story. I want to thank Will Dean for putting my anxiety into overdrive with Molly’s huge anxieties lol! The more I read of her feeling certain ways about things, the more she made sense to me. I loved following her around this big new city, even though she was filled with so much grief. I was dying to find out who the killer was, and had a few ideas throughout of who it could have been. I will say no more!

First Born is a brilliant book, with so many twists you may end up with whiplash. Read it.

Stargazer by Laurie Petrou

It's a fine line between admiration and envy. Diana Martin has lived her life in the shadow of her sadistic older brother. She quietly watches the family next door, enthralled by celebrity fashion designer Marianne Taylor and her feted daughter, Aurelle. She wishes she were a 'Taylor girl'. By the summer of 1995, the two girls are at university together, bonded by a mutual desire to escape their wealthy families and personal tragedies and forge new identities. They are closer than lovers, intoxicated by their own bond, falling into the hedonistic seduction of the woods and the water at a remote university that is more summer camp than campus. But when burgeoning artist Diana has a chance at fame, cracks start to appear in their friendship. To what lengths is Diana willing to go to secure her own stardom?

I received a copy of this from the publisher Verve books, and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

This was Tsundoku Squads April read. We were all looking rather forward to reading it, we were going to spread it out over fortnightly chats, but we ended up waiting until the last week and discussing the whole book.

I enjoyed it, and gave it 4 stars in the end. The book moves between the point of view of Diana and Marianne. I liked them both, but equally disliked them too. You’ll get why when you read it. The friendship was so toxic, yet beautiful, and tragic all at once. Their closeness was something else, they do everything together, and it all started kind of by chance. The things they go through, tell each other, and help each other with is the stuff all friendships should be made of. But the underlying jealousy and nastiness creeps its way through, and the story ends so far from where you’d first imagine.

Make sure to check out Em’s group thoughts over on her blog emandherbooks.com

Thanks again to Netgalley, Verve Books, and of course the author Laurie Petrou, for my early review e-book.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Playlist For The Dead by Michelle Falkoff

Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note:

For Sam - listen and you'll understand.

Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam - listen and you'll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend's story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you - and the struggle to redefine yourself.

I grabbed this book from my local library’s ebook collection, as my daughter brought it home from school. When she told me what it was about I asked if she’d like me to read it alongside her too, like a buddy read, in case she had questions really. So we have both been reading and chatting. She’s 13, and has autism, so I wasn’t sure how she would manage with the themes in this one.

The main theme is suicide. You find out very quickly that Hayden has taken his own life, and it’s his best friend Sam who finds him. The rest of the book is about grief, bullying, friendship, and loss, and it’s been written in quite a good way for young adults to learn about these things without it being too much. I liked the way each chapter was the name of a song, all the songs from the playlist Hayden left for Sam. It’s made me listen to them, and I know my daughter found a playlist for this book and she’s been listening too.

I enjoyed it, gave it 4 stars, and would happily read more YA like this alongside my daughter if she wanted me to.

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Paper Towns by John Green