Book Review

All Men Love Leah – Ksenija Nikolova

Today I am joining the blog tour for All Men Love Leah by Ksenija Nikolova. Many thanks Ksenija for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the tour.

BLURB:

A gripping, powerful emotional page turner with a heart-breaking twist.

All Enzo wants is a reason to believe it’s all worthwhile. Stuck in a world that doesn’t fulfil him, he meanders through his days feeling empty, lost, and left out of the real world that is moving by without him. He is cynical but gifted, and when he meets the beautiful and enigmatic Leah she turns his universe upside down.

Leah and Enzo are exact opposites, but she is drawn to his darkness just as he is drawn to her light. She is a woman who lives by her own expression and challenges his dismal character down to its most frightening corners, awakening in him something he didn’t know he had the capacity to experience.

But everything is not what it seems. There is a secret that threatens the happiness that Leah represents in Enzo’s life. She is the one who embraces his flaws and uncovers his bravery by teaching him to love, and for the first time in his life he feels like a real man, but in the end, will Enzo survive Leah’s heartbreaking truth?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

From reading the blurb and looking at the cover for this book, I was expecting a relatively light read, a sweet romance in the sun. Instead, I found a book that examines how our mental health can affect our entire reality, and that played out like an arty black and white movie in my mind.

I must confess that as I was reading All Men Love Leah, there was a lot that I struggled with, not least Leah’s behaviour with Enzo. He is quite obviously a troubled young man, and at times it felt that Leah treated him unfairly and pushed him too hard to do things he wasn’t comfortable with. Enzo’s transformation from someone who never left his house to someone who was instantly good at everything he tried also didn’t ring true for me, and made him hard to relate to. However, as the story evolved, a lot of the areas I had issues with started to make more sense and became less problematic. The ending really is the saving grace of the book, and I thought the way things finally fell into place was beautiful.

All Men Love Leah is a book with an incredibly clever premise, one that I have never read anything close to before. It had a lot of potential to be an incredibly moving book, and I wonder if some of the depth of emotion that is hinted at was lost in the translation into English. It is a thoughtful and sensitive look at mental health issues, and I hope more of Ksenija’s work is translated into English soon as she clearly has a talent for presenting this subject in new and interesting ways.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ksenija Nikolova is a Macedonian fiction author and she has been writing since she was little. Her books abound with emotions, where characters’ internal lives and battles are deeply described. She uses her voice in her books, to raise mental health awareness and to diminish discrimination and narrow thinking.

She is the author of six books, and “All Men Love Leah” is her first book translated and published in English language. She says she wrote this book in her darkest moments, but also it was this book that brought such light to her life.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

To read more about All Men Love Leah, why not check out the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Book Review

The Bookbinder’s Daughter – Jessica Thorne

Happy publication day to Jessica Thorne and her latest book, The Bookbinder’s Daughter. Many thanks to Jessica and to Bookouture for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:
The song surrounded her now, the murmuring of the library insistent, and her foot took the first step on the winding stairs. She knew it wasn’t entirely a dream. It was the library calling her, its magic driving her.

When Sophie is offered a job at the Ayredale Library – the finest collection of rare books in the world, and the last place her bookbinder mother was seen when Sophie was just a teenager – she leaps at the chance. Will she finally discover what happened to the woman she’s always believed abandoned her?

Taking in the endless shelves of antique books, the soaring stained-glass windows, and the grand sweeping staircase, usually shy Sophie feels strangely at home, and is welcomed by her eccentric fellow binders. But why is the Keeper of the Library so reluctant to speak about Sophie’s mother? And why is Sophie the only person who can read the strange spells in the oldest books on display, written in a forgotten language nobody else understands?

The mysteries of the library only deepen when Sophie stumbles upon an elaborately carved door. The pattern exactly matches the pendant her mother left behind years ago, engraved with a delicate leaf. As the door swings open at her touch, Sophie gasps at the incredible sight: an enormous tree, impossibly growing higher than the library itself, its gently falling golden leaves somehow resembling the pages of a book. Amidst their rustling, Sophie hears a familiar whisper…

‘There you are, my Sophie. I knew you’d come back for me.’

An absolutely spellbinding read about long-hidden family secrets and the magic that lurks between the pages of every ancient book. Perfect for fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Night Circus and The Binding.

REVIEW:

I find it hard to resist a book about a library, and when it is a magical library, then I am 100% sold! Jessica Thorne’s wonderfully imaginative creation is a library like no other, and once I stepped through it’s doors with Sophie, I knew I never wanted to leave.

The library is an ever changing beast, sometimes delightfully mysterious, other times dark and sinister. The inhabitants of the library are equally enigmatic. From vibrant Tia, to Titivillus, the library cat, there is more to uncover about each and every character than initially meets the eye. In particular for me, it was love at first sight with Will, and I was eager to uncover his secrets..

I have always wanted to try my hand at book binding and a job restoring damaged books in a mysterious library sounds like heaven. I would love to see the Mortlake grimoire, it sounds so beautiful, not to mention all of the other shelves full of rare books house within the library.

The mention of Elias Ashmole and the School of Night put me instantly in mind of one of my favourite book series, the All Souls Trilogy, and made me hopeful I would love this book just as much.  Deborah Harkness is a tough act to follow, but luckily Jessica Thorne did not disappoint (having read some of her previous work, I was confident this would be the case). I feel like there is a lot more to come from the library, and I am hopeful for a follow up book soon!

Book Review

Red Magnolia – Lucy Holden

Happy publication day to Lucy Holden and her fabulous YA paranormal romance, Red Magnolia, book one in the very exciting sounding Nightgarden Saga. Many thanks to Lucy for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Decadent. Dark. Devastating. Seventeen-year-old Harper Ellory knows the ruins of the past are a dark place for a new beginning. Then she meets Antoine Marigny, and discovers just how seductive darkness can be. After the death of her twin sister, Harper dreams of a new life. But not only is the Mississippi mansion she moves into cursed, it’s also Antoine Marigny’s family home. Now he wants it back—no matter the cost.

Harper’s seen too much death to be frightened off by a curse. But Antoine is a different kind of threat. He has an infuriating smile, an annoying habit of turning up when she least expects it, and a frustrating knack for getting Harper to talk about things she’d rather keep hidden.

Like her emotions.

Antoine is also keeping secrets of his own. Secrets that Harper suspects are far darker than the curse he says he wants to protect her from.

Harper knows Antoine is dangerous. Part of her wants to take his offer and run. No dream is worth dying for.

But Harper is done running from death.

She’s ready to make an offer of her own. An offer destined to turn Antoine Marigny’s life upside down.

Even if it means binding herself to the curse forever.

Red Magnolia is the bewitching first installment of the Nightgarden Saga. A heart wrenching YA/NA paranormal romance full of Southern Gothic atmosphere, supernatural adventure, and shocking twists that will keep you turning pages deep into the night.

If you’re a fan of The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, and romance that rips your heart out, you’ll love the Nightgarden Saga. Red Magnolia is a YA/NA paranormal romance that is sweet with heat, without any explicit scenes, suitable for ages twelve and up. The first in a series of seven, it can be read as a stand alone or as part of the series.

REVIEW:

Red Magnolia is a compelling read, which I sped through in one day because I was so hooked on it. Although it is not entirely unpredictable, it is well written and I found I was invested in the characters very quickly. I couldn’t read the book fast enough to discover what would happen to them. In my head, the mysterious Antoine Marigny was a dead ringer for Teen Wolf’s Derek Hale, which was a definite bonus for me!

I am a sucker for a good vampire book (if you’ll excuse the pun), and I absolutely loved this book. The setting is rich with history and the secrets surrounding the old Marigny house add a real gothic feel to the story.

Red Magnolia is definitely one for fans of Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. It has everything you could possibly wish for in a YA vampire book, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Book Review

Before We Were Blue – E.J. Schwartz

Happy publication day to E.J. Schwartz and her debut novel Before We Were Blue. Many thanks to E.J. and to Flux for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Get healthy on their own—or stay sick together?

At Recovery and Relief, a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, the first thing Shoshana Winnick does is attach herself to vibrant but troubled Rowan Parish. Shoshana—a cheerleader on a hit reality TV show—was admitted for starving herself to ensure her growth spurt didn’t ruin her infamous tumbling skills. Rowan, on the other hand, has known anorexia her entire life, thanks to her mother’s “chew and spit” guidance. Through the drudgery and drama of treatment life, Shoshana and Rowan develop a fierce intimacy—and for Rowan, a budding infatuation, that neither girl expects.

As “Gray Girls,” patients in the center’s Gray plan, Shoshana and Rowan are constantly under the nurses’ watchful eyes. They dream of being Blue, when they will enjoy more freedom and the knowledge that their days at the center are numbered. But going home means separating and returning to all the challenges they left behind. The closer Shoshana and Rowan become, the more they cling to each other—and their destructive patterns. Ultimately, the girls will have to choose: their recovery or their relationship.

REVIEW:

Before We Were Blue is a sensitively written YA novel that I think, sadly, will strike a chord with many young people living in a world where image is everything. I am fortunate in that eating disorders have never been something that I have ever had any experience of, and Before We Were Blue was a real eye-opener for me. Written from the dual perspectives of Rowan and Shoshana, it explores how two very different girls find themselves in the same place and form an incredibly strong bond as they each battle their personal demons.

Rowan is a character that I struggled with initially. She struck me straightaway as dangerous, someone who would drag Shoshana down through fear of being left behind. Her obsession with Shoshana scared me a little and I was unsure where E.J. Schwartz was going to take this. However, as the story progressed, it became clear that Shoshana needed Rowan as much as Rowan needed her.

Before We Were Blue is not a comfortable read, and nor should it be. It tackles a number of sensitive issues, but does so with a sympathetic hand and without the inclusion of anything purely for the shock factor.

Book Review

Freckles – Cecelia Ahern

I have just got back from a week’s holiday where I had the luxury of lots of time for reading, so I have a bumper crop of reviews heading your way this week. First up is the wonderful Cecelia Ahern and her latest book, Freckles. Many thanks to Cecelia and HarperCollins for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city.

But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin.

Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.

REVIEW:

Freckles is a beautiful, charming book that manages to be heart-breaking yet also uplifting in equal measure.

Parking warden Allegra is a wonderful quirky character, so socially awkward but willing to put herself out there and tackle the world. The more I read of this book, the more I wanted to be one of her “five.” Among the other characters we meet along the way, some warmed my heart from the start, and others took longer for me to make my mind up about. Becky, however, was awful from the outset, deliberately so, and I loved to hate her.

Although it lacked some of the more magical elements which I loved in some of Cecelia’s other books (If You Could See Me Now will forever be my favourite), Freckles retains all the warmth that regular readers of Cecelia’s books will recognise, and feels like a hug in book form.

Book Review

London Clay – Tom Chivers

I have a fascinating non-fiction book to share with you all today, in the form of London Clay by Tom Chivers. Many thanks to Tom, and to Doubleday, for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB:

Part personal memoir, part lyrical meditation, London Clay takes us deep in to the nooks and crannies of a forgotten city: a hidden landscape long buried underneath the sprawling metropolis. Armed with just his tattered Streetfinder map, author Tom Chivers follows concealed pathways and explores lost islands, to uncover the geological mysteries that burst up through the pavement and bubble to the surface of our streets.

From Roman ruins to a submerged playhouse, abandoned Tube stations to ancient riverbeds, marshes and woodlands, this network of journeys combines to produce a compelling interrogation of London’s past. London Clay examines landscape and our connection to place, and celebrates urban edgelands: in-between spaces where the natural world and the city mingle, and where ghosts of the deep past can be felt as a buzzing in the skull. It is also a personal account of growing up in London, and of overcoming loss through the layered stories of the capital.

Written in rich and vivid prose, London Clay will inspire readers to think about what lies beneath their feet, and by doing so reveal new ways of looking at the city.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

London Clay is a fascinating read that is part history lesson, part geology lesson. Until reading this book, I had always thought I had something of a familiarity with London having visited regularly for both business and pleasure. I also thought I knew a fair amount about the city’s past lives, having a fondness for history. However, the more I read, the more I realised how totally oblivious I had been on my visits – I had walked so many of the streets, even attended meetings in some of the buildings mentioned, and yet I had no clue of what was around me and underneath my feet. 

This is a book that is positively overflowing with information, and is one that will require reading again because I am quite sure that I didn’t fully absorb everything on the first read. The time that has been dedicated to researching the “deep city” and the level of detail included is astounding.

There is a beautiful lyrical feel to the writing, and it came as no surprise to find out that Tom Chivers is a poet. London Clay reads like a love letter to London, and made me long for the day that I return for a visit – quite possibly with this book in my hand to retrace some of the steps that Tom Chivers took and try to really understand the rich history of the city.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tom Chivers is a poet and publisher. He is the author of two pamphlets and two full collections of poetry to date, and is director of the independent press Penned in the Margins. In 2008 he was the Bishopsgate Institute’s first writer in residence, and has appeared widely at events and made a number of contributions to radio, including presenting a 30 minute documentary for Radio 4. He has collaborated with the climate arts organisation Cape Farewell and conducts immersive walking tours of London. Chivers is currently an Associate Artist of the National Centre for Writing.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Website

Instagram

Why not visit the other blogs taking part in the tour to find out more about London Clay?