Friday, 24 February 2017

Fatal Option by Chris Beaky (Thriller, 10E/10E)

 21st February 2017, Post Hill Press, 280 pages, Ebook, Review copy from Netgalley

Content: inappropriate adult behaviour, drug and alcohol use, crime, 

Summary from Netgalley
A tragic accident. A family in crisis. And a killer watching every move.

On the coldest night of the year, Stephen Porter is pulled from a dreamless sleep by a midnight phone call. His 17-year-old daughter Sara is stranded in a blizzard near the top of a mountain beyond their suburban home. She's terrified and unable to stop crying as she begs him to come to her rescue.

Unfortunately Stephen went to bed just an hour before after a night of binge drinking. With his blurred vision and unsteady balance he knows it’s dangerously irresponsible to get behind the wheel. But he heads out into the snowstorm to bring Sara home.

High school teacher Kieran O’Shea is also behind the wheel, searching for his autistic younger brother Aidan, who is wandering aimlessly through the storm on that same mountain. Kieran is also terrified—of the voices in his mind, of the probability that Aidan will be taken away from him, and of the certainty that he will soon be arrested for murdering three women.

In a matter of minutes Stephen will encounter Kieran and drive headlong into a collision that will force him to unlock the secret of his wife’s death, avoid prosecution, and protect his children from violence that hits all too close to home.

Nayu's thoughts  
I'm glad I set aside a few hours to read thia as I didn't want to put it down.I have strong views on what Stephen did-even if there is strong danger there is never a reason to drink drive. I'm not a parent, and I appreciate he was in a tricky situation. He did what he thought was best, even if it was going to ruin all their lives which were already fragile by their mother dying. 

I loved how his daughter's situation was portrayed, how she was groomed into an inappropriate position, it shows how she was tempted with what she wasn't necessarily getting at home, but she lacked street smarts and wanted to be an adult. Her brother saw snippets of what was going on which did eventually got explained to their father. 

It was horrifying and interesting to see how Stephen reacted to what he did. There's no question the guy in question, Kieran, a sleezebag, but I felt a bit sorry for him and the other person involved. Stephen goes to great lengths to cover his tracks, and the panic rose as the police started to hem him in. The end had me needing tissues as I was torn by the moral justice and the effect it had on his  children. It goes to show good people can do bad things by accident. 

There were so many gripping moments that I'm eagerly looking forward to rereading this. There are parts were awful things nearly happen, but thankfully they don't, although a few unexpected not nice things happen too. I think there is only 1 truly innocent person jn this tale, who I cried for what they suffer. There are some truly evil people in this world and they don't always get what they deserve. I'm looking forward to Chris's next book!

Find out more on Chris's website.

Suggested read 
A good thriller which is a bit happier (only a bit) than Fatal Option which I enjoyed last year is Snow Job by Debbie Brown (Thriller, Romance, 10E/10E) 

Daisy Darling, Let's Have Lunch! by Marcus Majalouma (Children's, Picture book, 5 years +, 10/10E)

 September 2016, Pikku publishing, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy, 

Summary from Pikku Publishing (love the name! Sound Japanese ^o^) 
In this funny tale of family life, it’s lunch-time, and Daddy discovers that Daisy doesn’t like carrots. It seems that vegetables are not her favourite food! What will Daddy do? Will lunch-time be fun or fraught? 

Nayu's thoughts 
While the illustrations aren't quite my style, I was intrigued the how Daisy's dad would help her eat her lunch, and I wasn't disappointed. The illustrations aren't what I call cute but they had me looking at them closely. There's much to look at, with the inside covers changing from the front to the back accordin to what happens in the story. 

There be carrots! Lots and lots and lots! Daisy isn't fond of carrots, at least not the way her dad initially introduces them. Her reaction to various food (with quirky vegetable people illustrations) made me think how we as adukts explain anything to children. For eating food I've heard a variety of explanations similar to the ones Daisy's dad uses, and on reflection they could be very off putting! I'm not a parent, so can't test what method works best, but Daisy's dad makes a brilliant invention (which is hinted at in the inside cover pages) certainly makes food fun for Daisy! 

This is the 1st book that I've read of the charming series (It's book #3) and it won't be my last! This review did get lost in my inbox (stupid software) but it's out now! 

Suggested read

All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon, Narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis (Contemporary, 10/10E)

 Dec “016, Hodder & Stoughton, 13 hours & 7 minutes, Audiobook, Review copy from Audible, 

Summary from Audible 
Caitlin's life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option. 

Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking. 

Nancy's Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him. 

But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages - and about what they both really want....

Nayu's thoughts 
My interest was piqued by Caitlin's daughter losing her voice, and the twists that follow kept me captivated until the end. I can't say much about the prologue without giving spoilers but it really set up the story, and I was on tenderhooks throughout most of the book waiting for Caitlin to somehow figure out why Nancy stopped talking. She is such a sweet girl, very expressive even without a voice. She has a deep link with her brother Joel, who takes her not talking in his stride, somehow knowing what she wants and protecting her as much as he can from people misunderstanding her silence, which was heartwaarming. 

I felt so sorry for Caitlin, because she's going through several major issues (child not talking, separation). Occasionally I was surprised she didn't take further action with Nancy's silence, but she was doing her best. Separation (and divorce) is far from simple, and with support from an unexpected ally Caitlin battles through it, almost always putting her children first. I hated when others criticized Caitlin because they weren't the ones in the situation (or if they were they were on the other side of the fence so had a skewed view of Caitlin from the onset)

Caitlin's not perfect but she's not a terrible mother either. She does struggle with seeing Eva who appears to be perfect, but having chapters with Eva's point of view helped me understand her further, and made me want to tell Caitlin to give Eva a chance. Eva ends up being the key to unlocking Nancy's voice again in a sweet way which made me tear up when it happened. Although Caitlin doesn't realise it Eva becomes a form of stability within her chaotic life which she sorely needs, and so do the children. I'm looking forward to relistening to this family centred read which gives a lot to think about. 

Find out more on Lucy's website.

Suggested read
For another gripping single parent story check out Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks (Contemporay, Romance, Audiobook, 10/10E) 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Flying Fergus #5 The Winning Team by Chris Hoy, Jo Nadin, and Clare Elsom (Children's, 5 years +, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

 23rd February 2017, Piccadilly Press, 128 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Summary from Allen & Unwin
The Hercules Hopefuls are through to the final round of the cycling competition, but are facing their toughest test yet - not only must Fergus and his friends beat their arch-rivals Wallace's Winners, but this time they also need to face off against the scariest team in all of Scotland - The Velociraptors, an elite all-girls squad. But disaster strikes the team when Minnie McCloud catches chicken pox and Calamity Coogan breaks his leg, and it looks like their dreams are over. But Wallace's Winners are also in a predicament - can Wesley and Fergus put their rivalry to one side and give both teams a chance at lifting the cup?

Meanwhile, in Nevermore, Fergus must work together with Princess Lily and his friends to save his dad from the clutches of the mean anti-cycling King Woebegot. If he can just manage it, maybe Dad will be back home in time to see him compete in the Finals?

Nayu's thoughts of both the series and book 5. 
  I was asked if I wanted to read book 5, so since I'd heard of Chris and knew next to nothing about bikes I thought I'd give it a go. Piccadilly kindly sent the rest of the series as I hadn't read them, and while I think it's possible to read them out of sequence, reading them one after the other was both a real treat and meant I could see all the story arcs. I genuinely thought this would be a boy focused book, with Fergus as the main character, but happily I'm wrong. I prefer girl centred books, but this series has fine female leads in both Daisy, Minnie, and Princess Lily. 

I love how familiar the characters in the parallel world are, in both appearance and what they say. I think that helped Fergus feel more confident in his decisions in a totally weird land while on the hut for his dad. Initially I was bothered by each story starting the same way, but I can see the repetition is useful for the intended age group and by book 3 I didn't mind. I did mind the poor colour choice of text in book 3 - black on a deep purple background simply doesn't stand out and I found it hard to read. Those are the only issues I had with all the books. 

I enjoyed getting to know Fergus and his friends who try their best for him in both worlds. I loved how his small family helped him out as much as they could, sometimes in unexpected ways. The end of book 5 both was and wasn't what I expected, and made me tear up. I liked how each book followed a similar pattern of having a real world issue that Fergus needed to solve, then he went to Nevermore and had to solve a different issue (which were all aiming towards the same goal), then when he returned to the real world (I don't know what else to call it) he had skills/knowledge to overcome that hurdle. 

Meet Princess Lily!
Princess Lily really shone for me. I love her pretty dress worn with different patterned wellies - I wear odd socks so her welly combo made sense to me. If you look carefully the pattern on her footwear match the pattern on her bike! She thinks around the box, doing what seems crazy but ends up being perfect. She does want to please her parents but also wants to have fun experiencing life for herself. 

I liked the modifications of the bikes in the parallel world, how cycling knowledge is slipped in gradually through all the stories yet isn't boring, and the power of community spirit. Fergus reaches incorrect conclusions several times but so did I. I felt this shows how unpredictable life is. I liked how realistic Fergus's living situation was, coupled with potential council cuts that affected his cycling future. This is a hugely relevant read for everyone, and I do hope Chris and Jo will pair up in the future again as they make a great writing duo, especially with Clare's illustrations!

Find out more about the series on the dedicated website. 
Check out Chris's website, Jo's website, and Clare's website too.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

True Happiness by Linda Weaver Clark (Non-Fiction, 10/10E)

 July 2016, Red Mountain Shadows Publishing, 47 pages, Audiobook, Review copy 

Book Summary
Everyone is seeking for true happiness in their lives. It’s the most sought-after subject on earth. To be truly happy is a great mystery to many, as they search for joy in everyday life
Nayu's thoughts
In this concise yet thought provoking read Linda explores where happiness can be found, which is in more things than you may think. No one can be 100% happy every day. A lot of what Linda said rang true from both my own experience and other books and articles I've read about the subject. I liked how each chapter examined a different area, using both Linda's own experiences and quotes from historical figures. I got to know a lot about Linda in the process which was nice to understand her better. 

There is an emphasis on religion, but not in a preachy way, and if anything made me think about the Islamic view of the topic. Linda shows that reliion/belief can often be a wonderful pillar in learning how to cope with the often unpredictable life. The chapters are fairly short, which makes it feel more like an introduction to the subject of happiness, but one you absolutely must read for Linda's wisdom and encouragement. 

Find out more on Linda's website

Suggested read
I'm totally biased in saying check out Linda's other books which include the Amelia Moore series: the latest one I've reviewed is book #4 The Missing Doll (Cozy Mystery, Audiobook, 10E/10E)
and her historical fiction which includes Melinda and the Wild West (Historical romance, 10/10E, Audiobook) 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Emoji Story Collection (Children's, 7 years +, 10/10E)

October 2016, Penguin, 4 books 32 pages each/large book , Paperback, Review copies

Series overview from Penguin
Ever wondered what emojis get up to when they're left to their own devices, instead of appearing on ours?

Of course you have! *high-five emoji*

Read all about their emoj-tional escapades inside these tales of love, loss, sass and selfies . . .

Nayu's thoughts
These books which can be bought and read separately, but I got them as a collection. They are a great way of revealing technological morals that all in the digital age should know and adhere to.

Emoji: Laughing Crying book summary from Penguin
Laughing Crying loves to make his fellow emojis laugh. He posts unflattering pics of celebrity emojis on his blog, Bantz Bible, which everyone thinks is great fun - until they start appearing on it themselves. Soon, Laughing Crying finds himself in the middle of a Twimoji storm of moral outrage. Can he find a way to redeem himself, or will the angry mob have the last laugh-cry after all . . . ?
Nayu's thoughts
This tale sees the Emoji be mean with its jokes, which hurts other people. I think it makes the reader think twice before sharing something funny online, because it may not be a laughing matter for the person in question, and they may not want the incident publicised. If you wouldn't like to hear what you are about to post online, don't post it! 

Heart Eyes summary from Penguin
Heart Eyes is the no. 1 fan of 2Boyz, Emojiville's hottest boy band. She knows everything about her faves and loves nothing more than to vlog about them on EmojiTube. But one day, she uncovers a conspiracy theory about her 2Boyz baes that shakes her to her very heart-shaped core . . . Can the boyz be trusted, or will Heart Eyes be forced to leave the fandom forever?

Nayu's thoughts
Unlike Laughing Crying Emoji Heart Eyes doesn't learn her lesson by the end. However, it's a subtle way of showing that not all couples are boy-girl, and that's ok. Heart Eyes gets eye deep in conspiracy theories which is quite funny, especially as they aren't true. It goes to show rumours are wildfire online, and the truth can be astonishing. 

Pile of Poo summary from Penguin
The emojis are curious when a new user pops up on EmojiBook. He's clever, funny and soon has thousands of dedicated followers. But his identity remains a mystery - until one day, when his true smiley, brown nature is revealed! Will Pile of Poo's new friends appreciate him for who he is, or does he need a total re-brand?
Nayu's thoughts 
Pile of Poo Emoji struggles with prejudice about who he is. Sadly this happens a lot online as well as offline. Not everyone is superficial about what a person looks like or what their race/religion/other category is. Unfortunately if the majority decide they don't like you, then you need to do something a little different. Personally you should always be yourself, but I guess online some like to glamorise their life to look good. I couldn't do that, and Pile of Poo seems happy so I hope he is. 

Sassy Girl summary from Penguin
Information Kiosk Girl is excited about her new job - she can't wait to dispense information to all the emojis of Emojitown! But when certain emojis start to ask the all wrong questions, she's forced to transform into a sass-tastic queen . . . What's about to go down now that she's got a super sassy response for everyone?

Nayu's thoughts
Sassy Girl gains a bit of confidence which does help her to some extent, but I don't think it's always goin to be the best atttude for her to have. Sayin what she thinks all the time will get her into trouble, I think she needs to be a bit more sensitive.

 Official Emoji Sticker Book book summary from Penguin 
Scribble, stick, doodle, draw and design your way through this awesome emoji sticker book.

Inside you'll find all kinds of activities to complete as imaginatively as you can. Colour in pages of your favourite emojis, write secret messages with your emoji stickers, complete emoji translation challenges - plus much more!

Also contains over a 1,000 emoji stickers which can be used inside the book OR on anything else you'd like to emoji-fy

Nayu's thoughts on the series  
All the stories use clever phrases to use famous brands which readers will relate to. All the Emojis have life lessons to learn (and not learn), they broaden readers' thoughts. 

About emoticons in general, I rarely use them because I don't have a great phone, and using them online takes a bit more effort than leaving them out. That may sound weird but I have a condition with severe fatigue so even online work costs effort. However emoji's seem a cool feature, and as the saying goes pictures can be worth more than 1000 words. 

I had no idea how popular they were! I like the Emoji activity book which has lots to draw, colour, and have fun with. You can make your own emojis, use your favourites on anything that can have a sticker on. For me it would be my phone, but that's reserved for anime stickers! I do use emoticons where are emoji ancestors: ^u^ = my equivalent of a smiley face. 

There are so many Emoji stickers that readers will be able to say what they mean with Emojis over and over! I think that for people who use emojis (as well as those that don't) these books give the emoji's more personality than most give them credit for, plus who can resist stickers?!! 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Cover Reveal for The Division #2 Through the Ashes by Connie L Smith (Young Adult, Urban Fantasy)

Book 1
While I haven't read any of this series (it's not my kind of read at the moment) I've enjoyed Connie's previous work Enscrolled (Young Adult, 10E/10E) so I have complete faith these will be equally awesome. 

Here's the cover for book 2!

ISBN: 978-1-945910-09-8
Nayu note: it's on Amazon UK too and probably most other good online booksellers) 

Book summary
The war has begun. The battle’s unfolding. And victory feels so distant…

The Essenced had prepared and trained, but never imagined the true horror of watching demons tearing through the Division to invade the realm. Every claw is horrific—every snarl disgusting—and the responsibility of keeping that vile terror from expanding beyond the battlefield’s borders rests in the teenagers’ hands. They thought they were ready for that challenge…
But then their confidence is shaken when a deadly new weapon emerges from the enemy’s arsenal, and well-kept secrets from the Essenced’s angelic superiors begin to surface.
In the midst of the carnage, can the teens find the strength within themselves, and among themselves, to grasp victory in blood-tainted hands?"

About the Author:
Connie L. Smith spends a decent amount of time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and might forever be sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. Much of her preferred music is severely outdated, and as an adult she’s kind of obsessed with Power Rangers. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either), and her MA in English and Creative Writing.