#BookReview: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber #MPBooks

A diverse and interesting contemporary YA novel – check out the special sprayed edges too!

Wing Jones book cover
UK book cover

Title: Wing Jones

Author: Katherine Webber

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Contemporary, YA

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Description: With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds.  when tragedy strikes, she discovers an extraordinary talent she never knew she had.  Wing’s running could bring her family everything it needs.  It could also keep Wing from the one thing she truly wants.

Before my review I just want to show you a special feature of Wing Jones:

Check out these sprayed edges! 😀

My Review:  I’ll be honest in saying that I’m struggling to write this review because I have mixed feelings about this book.  ‘Wing Jones’ is a wonderful book featuring tough situations and diverse characters but something about this book just failed to ignite my interest.

The story is about Wing, a half black, half Chinese teenage girl  living in America in Atlanta, Georgia.  The first chapter of the book introduces us to Wing and her brother as well as setting up a bit of fantasy which continues throughout the story.

Wing’s character was easy for me to relate to.  She’s bullied at school for being different and doesn’t feel she’s good at anything in particular.  Wing has a really strong relationship with her brother Marcus and it’s this that is soon tested when something terrible happens to him, an accident, and she and the others are left to deal with what happened to him and the consequences of the event.  I don’t really want to explain this part too much as it would spoil the story but the way the characters all deal with things afterwards and the mixed feelings everyone has towards Marcus and the event are interesting and I enjoyed this aspect of the whole novel.  The book is about more than just Marcus’s accident though and Wing realises a talent she didn’t know she had, a talent for running.

Despite the book being an excellent portrayal of how a terrible accident can overshadow peoples lives and how we all can find a love or a talent and what happens if we go after our dream, it just didn’t appeal to me like I’d hoped.  I’m not exactly a fan of contemporary fiction but I do still read a fair bit and usually enjoy YA contemporary novels but with this book I just never felt a desperate need to get back into reading it which usually happens if you get into a good book.

I like the diversity in this novel.  Wing and her brother are mixed race and I like the way the book openly tackled the difficulties Wing has with this, as well as the difficulties another character has with being gay.   However the book just never felt exciting to read.  At times I didn’t like the way Wing’s entire mind was consumed with one character.  Although the feelings of first time love are very relevant in YA, it felt a little over the top for me and it made Wing feel like she wasn’t as complex a character as I would have liked her to be.  I also didn’t enjoy the fantasy aspect of the book.  It is a minor part of the story, Wing sees a dragon and a lioness whenever she runs (this is introduced to us right at the start of the novel so I’m not spoiling it by telling you this) but you never find out if these were made up in her head or part of Chinese folklore or something else.   And I’m honestly still confused as to the setting of the book in 1995.  There wasn’t a real need for this as the story never feels dated and apart from a reference to the Atlanta Olympics (which happened in 1996) and the fact, maybe, that there were more racial tensions back then, I see no real reason why the book couldn’t be set in today’s time.

Although there are moments I really enjoyed in this book, I particularly enjoyed Wing’s grandmothers and the way both acted towards each other, overall I just wasn’t awed by this book.  There isn’t anything offensive apart from mild use of the s swear word and I think the book would be good for all teen ages and older and a good book for those with low confidence in themselves to read as the story of Wing’s running is very inspiring.  However I just didn’t enjoy it and I’m not sure I’d read it again.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


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#BookReview: Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants by Stephan Pastis #MPBooks

A daft and funny kids book which I just didn’t find that funny.

Timmy Failure The Cat Stole My Pants book coverTitle: Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants

Author/Illustrator: Stephan Pastis

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle Grade/Children’s, Humour

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Description: Crime doesn’t take a holiday.  Neither does greatness.

So although I, Timmy Failure, the world’s greatest detective, am in Key West, Florida, I am NOT on holiday.  And I am DEFINITELY NOT on a honeymoon with my mother and Doorman Dave, having found zero evidence that they even got married.

But I am stuck in this hotbed of criminals with only the help of an unpaid intern.

There is no privacy on the island, but I know this: There is treasure.

My Review: I must be in a big minority because unfortunately I just didn’t enjoy this book like I had hoped. ‘Timmy failure: The Cat Stole My Pants’ is the sixth book in the series of Timmy Failure books and while it’s probably funny for a lot of people and kids, it was just too daft for me.

The book comes as a lovely hardback and is filled with lots of pictures as well as text. A lot of the book is pictures or handwriting and appears a bit like a notebook which it sort of is as Timmy is the narrator of his story. The whole story of ‘The Cat Stole My Pants’ is very daft. Timmy is a detective and runs a detective agency. He has a new intern called Emilio which is really another kid who’s on holiday with him and his mum and her new husband Doorman Dave. Timmy is a bit of a brat and loves to over exaggerate like so many kids would and it’s this unique humour that’s supposed to be funny but I just didn’t ever laugh at this book.

Some of the images inside the book.

There are bits I do like in this book. I actually like Emilio’s character. He looks strange and seems weird but I really liked him, especially his fondness of a certain bird. I also liked the ending of the story. I’m not going to give the ending away but it was nice and I think a little deeper than the rest of the book.

Some more pics among the text.

The images in this book are all quick drawings in black and white and do look funny. The pictures really lend to the story and I would have liked even more of them in the book, I think I also would have liked all the text to have looked handwritten too.

More silliness and fun.

I think this book will appeal to a lot of kids and adults too. I also feel as if boys might enjoy this a lot more and I think those with a very silly (almost over the top silly) sense of humour will love this most. The book just didn’t seem funny for me though and it’s not a book I would have enjoyed when I was younger. Maybe if I had read some previous Timmy Failure books this would appeal more but I just never got into the story, I never connected with Timmy in any way and it’s a shame because I really tried hard to enjoy this story.
-Thanks to Walker books for a free copy.


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#BookReview: One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus #MPBooks

I was DARED to not like this book! An exciting new YA mystery thriller!

One Of Us Is Lying UK book cover
UK book cover

Title: One Of Us Is Lying

Author: Karen M. McManus

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: YA / Mystery /  Thriller

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Description:  Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.  He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

My Review:  When I first saw this book advertised for review on NetGalley the advert challenged me to ‘not like this book’. That statement and the description of this book just made me want to read it so much and I’m happy I took up the challenge. But try as I could I just can’t not like this book, instead I love it!

‘One Of Us Is Lying’ is a YA mystery thriller with an American high school setting. The story starts with five teenagers going to detention, all of them seem to have been set up to attend detention and before they know it, one of them dies. With the teacher having left the room right before the victim dies, it seems that one of the four remaining teens is the killer. But which one was it and how did they do it?

I won’t detail the plot but it is set in America with typical stereotypes of the teens. The book is told in the first person and each chapter of the story is headed by the name of the teen who’s point of view we follow. Although the plot isn’t difficult to get into and the death in detention was quite dramatic, already setting up the drama in the rest of the book, I did find it a bit hard to follow the different points of view at first. It took several chapters into the story before I could really tell apart all the teenagers and I think this might be because there’s a lot of point of view switching at the start (chapters are never that long) and this led me to get confused a little at the start and not enjoy the book so much.

A few chapters in though and I really started to enjoy this story. All the characters are different and although the stereotypes are a little too typical, very American and not really like people in the UK so much, I’m used to reading American novels so it didn’t bother me and the characters all had more depth than it first appears.

The story moves quickly and gets very exciting as it becomes evident that there are deep secrets that the teens all hold. Not only the secrets that they initially don’t want revealed, but all the teens have other secrets which I didn’t guess at all except for Cooper’s deep secret which I had suspected for a long time before it was finally revealed.

I really like the fast pacing of this story, there was never any rest. I wasn’t really reading this book and trying to figure out who the killer was which was nice as the revelation was surprising though I might have guessed it if I had thought more in a detective way. However as with most books this was far deeper than just the death and all the characters go on such a journey that it was the whole story that kept me really entertained and thrilled.

The ending is very satisfying especially with the epilogue which I felt was necessary to finish of one character’s story. Most loose ends are tied up in this story and it is a bit of a typical teen book with an overall happy ending to the dark things that happened before. I did enjoy the book, it has occasional use of the f and s swear words but nothing else too offensive (a bit of violence but nothing graphic). I realise the book is a little unbelievable for some people in the sense that lots of teen books and films sometimes feel, the stereotypes perhaps a little too overdone, but I can’t lie, I did really enjoy reading this and feel like I came down from a bit of a high after finishing the last page. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone wanting a YA mystery thriller. It’s a deeper story than you think and a really gripping read…I guess I also failed on NetGalley’s challenge to ‘not like this book’ 😉 !
-Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy.


This book is released in the UK: 1st June 2017

What do you think?  Would you take up the challenge to ‘not like this book’?

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#BookReview: Let’s Go To Nursery! by Caryl Hart & Lauren Tobia #MPBooks

A fun picture book for kids entering nursery!

Let's Go To Nursery! book coverTitle: Let’s Go To Nursery!

Author: Caryl Hart

Illustrator: Lauren Tobia

Publisher: Walker Books (Walker First Experiences)

Genre: Baby/very young books

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Description: Let’s go to nursery with Billy and Bee!  There’s SO much to do, and SO much to see!  Billy is shy but Been helps him have fun, so come with us now and let’s meet everyone!

My Review:

This is a great hardback book for very young kids to enjoy.  ‘Let’s Go to Nursery!’ is a fun rhyming book with some great images and rhymes.  The pages themselves are like thick shiny card so could take a quick wipe if they get a little dirty, the pages corners are also curved making this book easy and safe for toddlers to handle.

Some detailed illustrations

The story of the book is a simple but very fun one.  Bee is a confident girl while Billy is quite shy and together, along with Bee’s sister Boo, they all go to nursery and enjoy themselves.  The book’s pages are filled with fun rhymes, there isn’t one page that doesn’t have rhyming on it, even the back cover blurb has rhyming and it’s all in the same simple style which makes it easy for kids to understand what’s happening in the story.  I really enjoyed the story, even though Billy is shy and a little wary, Bee’s confident nature makes him enjoy the nursery, and when something happens to upset Boo, Billy is there to make her feel better.  The whole story has a lovely feel to it and would make me feel more confident going to nursery (I remember being very shy, like Billy, when I went to nursery myself).

Easy to read text and fun images

I really like the pictures in this book, they are all very nice and clear, not too abstract but there’s also some detail in many of the pictures which could make for a fun extra as kids and their parents can point out all the other things that are happening in the nursery.  The ending of the story is a happy as all the kids go home happy.

This is such a simple book but I really think kids will enjoy it as well as some adults sharing this with their kids.  It actually brought back some fond memories I had from my time in nursery and I think it would make a great book for kids who might be nervous about attending, giving them a positive experience to look forward to.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy


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#BookReview: Caraval by Stephanie Garber #MPBooks

Review of the magical and mysterious Caraval, a book everyone wants to read this year!

Caraval book cover
UK book cover

Title: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

UK Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Fantasy

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Description: WELCOME TO CARAVAL, WHERE NOTHING IS QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

My Review: I’m not sure how to start this review. I absolutely loved this book, once I got into it, but wow the ending was quite a shock and left me a little speechless and just a little bit annoyed.

Caraval has really been a hyped up novel this year and I couldn’t help but want to read it after hearing so much about it. The story follow Scarlett and her sister Tella who live on the small isle of Trisda but their life is marred by their abusive father who enjoys punishing the girls for any wrong-doing. For years Scarlett has been writing to the mysterious Master of Caraval to ask for tickets to the magical show but never hears back until days before her arranged wedding to a man she has never met. When tickets arrive though there is an opportunity to finally escape their abusive father so the girls go to the island where Caraval is taking place. However as soon as they arrive Tella goes missing and Scarlett must take part in the game in order to find her sister.

At the start of the book I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. We’re quickly introduced to Scarlett and Tella along with a scene showing how brutal and twisted their father is, but despite the fast pacing of this novel and the simple descriptions I just didn’t get into this book from the very beginning. The scene didn’t feel as threatening as I thought it should and the general story up until Scarlett reaches Caraval felt almost too fast paced and I didn’t get a feel for the characters until later. However despite my initial thoughts, this story soon drew me into the magic and from then on I was hooked.

The story is told in the third person but follows Scarlett as she searches for her sister with the help, or not, of the man who brought her to the island. The world of Caraval is an interesting and really mesmerising one. It’s like a magical and dark circus show that happens at night and Scarlett quickly becomes involved in the game/performance. The magic in the story and the overall Caraval is like the old fashioned circuses that existed in Victorian times. Just like a magical act, this book is filled with surprises and twists and I’m so happy that I didn’t see any of them coming. I’m very good at spotting twists in stories and often don’t find myself surprised but this book had me hooked as I really didn’t know what was going to happen next and the story kept up this pace of twists and turns right until the end.

The ending of this book is really good. It finishes really well with surprises revealed right until the last pages and it was really satisfying to read, however the epilogue is where I felt annoyed. Something simple happens but it sets up the story for a book two, leaving certain questions in your head and though I’m eager to read book two, when it is released, and there’s nothing wrong with the ending, I’d rather have had a book two without the mini cliff-hanger ending that this epilogue created.

The book has nothing offensive in it though given the dark and twisted nature of some characters I would recommend it for teens and older. Despite the many, many reviews calling this a YA novel it is not. Teens will enjoy this book and some characters are younger but this book is a general fantasy story and not specifically a YA book which usually has more specific appeal.

Caraval is everything it’s hyped up to be and I’d certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a story with lots of twists and magic and for those who enjoy stories with a historic setting. Although the book takes place in a fictional world the timeframe is the past and it just added to the magical feel of this tale.


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#BookReview: The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse #MPBooks

The Idea of You book cover
The Idea of you

Book Title: The Idea of You

Author: Amanda Prowse

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Genre: Contemporary / Women’s Fiction

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Description:  With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

My Review:

Wow, this is an amazing and emotional book! I was pre-approved on NetGalley for this book and although contemporary/women’s fiction isn’t my preferred genre I’m very glad I was offered the chance to read this. ‘The Idea of You’ is about Lucy and her struggle to have a baby. Having finally met someone she falls in love with at the age of 39, Lucy and her husband try to have a baby, but things don’t go according to plan.

The description of this novel says it’s a heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama and I have to agree, the heart strings certainly get pulled when you read this book. I’ll admit straight away that I didn’t really enjoy the start of the novel. It felt rushed and I didn’t really connect with Lucy’s character much at the beginning. It’s only really with the start of chapter two onwards, when the real story begins that I felt more connected and started to enjoy this book.

It takes a lot to affect me emotionally when I read a book. I’m not an un-sensitive person but I don’t usually cry when reading, even sad parts of a story. However this book really got to me. I didn’t cry like some people in reviews have said they did but wow did I feel the emotions of the characters! The writing style is a little different and perhaps slower than books I am used to reading, and although some of the conversations at the start of the book felt a little unreal I think it just took me some time to adjust to reading Prowse’s style.

Some other reviewers have made comments that they couldn’t relate to this book as they don’t have children or haven’t gone through the heart ache of wanting kids and for things to not go well when trying but neither have I and yet I felt so much emotion reading this book. You don’t need to identify with Lucy’s character in that way to enjoy this book. It is so well written that it didn’t matter that I’ve never been though the pain and heartache Lucy went through, I felt her emotions, I could understand her and sympathise so much that I desperately wanted things to go right for her. Prowse has such an amazing way of writing that a simple family talking together feels so real and can charge up your emotions.

The book is really well written and contains just a few uses of the s swear word with very rare use of the f word, which doesn’t feel out of place in their use like in some novels. There’s nothing else offensive but it’s certainly not a novel to read if you want to avoid getting all emotional over it. The ending of the novel is a really satisfying one and I’m so glad it ended in the way it does. I don’t want to give anything away but it’s both realistic and so satisfying that this book left me smiling and glad to have read it.

I’ve read some contemporary and women’s fiction before but it never felt so poignant and memorable like this book was. I couldn’t put it down after I’d read a few chapters and was desperate to keep reading on to see what had happened. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading contemporary /women’s fiction. Be prepared to go on an emotional rollercoaster through pure happiness and joy to terrible sadness and heartache but you won’t be disappointed! I’ve never read a book by Amanda Prowse before this one, but I’m truly amazed at how much i enjoyed this and I’m certainly a fan of her work now and can’t wait to read another one of her books!

-Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy


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#BookReview: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom #MPBooks

A review of this super amazing YA thriller!

The Cruelty book cover
Walker Books UK Cover of The Cruelty

Title: The Cruelty

Author: Scott Bergstrom

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

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Description: When Gwendolyn Bloom realizes that her father has been kidnapped, she has to take matters into her own hands. She traces him from New York City across the dark underbelly of Europe, taking on a new identity to survive in a world of brutal criminal masterminds. As she slowly leaves behind her schoolgirl self, she realizes that she must learn the terrifying truth about herself. To overcome the cruelty she encounters, she must also embrace it.

Before continuing I want to show you something extra special about the UK cover of The Cruelty.  The page edges are sprayed with red ink giving the whole book an extra fierce feel! 😮

Check out those red sprayed pages!

My Review: ‘The Cruelty’ is an amazing thriller but takes a bit of time to get into. Written in the first person and in present tense the story starts off with Gwendolyn in school and we learn just how detached she is from other students. The whole beginning of this book really does take time to get into. I initially have no feelings towards Gwendolyn’s character, no sympathy, no connection, nothing at all and it felt difficult to like her or even like the book. The first chapters right until her father is kidnapped are honestly a little boring and it’s difficult to sympathise with her character because there’s little to like and there’s a sudden deep relationship with a boy from school which happens just minutes after they meet which is weird especially for a YA book.

I was over 100 pages into the story and wondering why this has been praised so much but I can tell you that it does get better, a LOT better, you just have to keep reading through the start to reach the real thriller story which starts after her father is kidnapped.

The tension starts to increase from this point and I started getting into the book although it still felt a little strange and at times unbelievable. Gwendolyn decides to go after her father herself and enter the world of criminals and spies. This whole idea for the book is also difficult to believe and it took until after Gwendolyn has been trained in how to look after herself for this book to really get exciting. After chapter 10, about 160 pages in, the book’s thriller aspect starts and from there on it’s an amazing read!

Despite the slow start the rest of the book really feels like a movie. There’s never a dull moment and the action keeps moving and jumping from one location to another. There are such exciting moments such as car chases and what is truly amazing is the way the author, Bergstrom, can surprise you again and again with different twists in the story. In many books I can often guess what is happening but not once in this story did I have any clue! The twists and surprises are exciting and just when you think you know how the story will end there are final twists right until the last page!

This book is more of a spy thriller than YA and it’s very dark in nature. It was originally offered to me for review and unofficially labelled as 16+ and I have to agree that this book is only for the older teens and adults. None of the aspects of a YA novel are in this book apart from the 17 year old protagonist. There are a lot of very dark moments, killings, deaths which are described in detail which would definitely shock young teens and those who don’t like dark scenes like that. I wouldn’t call it gruesome as it all happens quickly but it definitely isn’t for those who can’t handle death, blood, etc.

Apart from the violence there is also a lot of use of the f swear word, especially for a YA novel. It’s all in context given the dark setting but I still feel that it’s overused at times by some characters like Gwendolyn, especially as it is supposed to be a YA novel. There is no sex in this book but there is some drug use and mentions of prostitution, the sort of things you’d expect in the criminal underworld.

The ending was exciting and had a twist right until the last pages and although it wasn’t disappointing it wasn’t the overly happy ending you might expect. It was satisfying though and ends with the possibility of a book two which I’ve seen listed on Goodreads and hope to read.

Part of my rating of a book is on whether I’d want to read it again and despite the slow start I definitely would! I’m not sure this book fits into the YA catagory well, it would probably fit better as an adult novel and for Gwendolyn to be a couple of years older but it’s still a really great read. It’s so gripping and thrilling that you just never know what’s going to happen! And although I’ve seen other reviews mention that you never really warm too much to Gwendolyn’s character, perhaps that’s the point, given the dark world she enters and the dark things she has to do.

I’d definitely recommend this book to thriller fans everywhere, if you can get through the first chapters and believe that a 17 year old would do the things she does, then this book has such amazing twists and thrills that I so far haven’t read in any other books!

-Thanks to Walker Books for providing a free copy.


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