Friday, 24 March 2017

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Series: Black Widow, Book One
Publisher: Parragon Books
Format: Paperback
Published: 2nd May 2016
Number of Pages: 416
Book: For Review*
Genre:  Superhero, Action-Adventure, Science-Fiction, Thriller-Suspense, YA
Recommended Age: 11+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing and Smoking References
Author's Site: Margaret Stohl

Blurb From Goodreads:
Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy…
Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.
Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.  The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious saviour, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.
Until now.
When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…
Black Widow: Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

"This mission, to attack us?  He said it had a name."  Her eyes met Coulson's.  "Forever Red."
Once upon a little girl was given the name Black Widow by her teacher.  She was taught in all manner of things – but mostly in how to kill, deceive and spy.  She was experimented on in the Red Room and she became the most dangerous assassin in the world.
After escaping the clutches of her teacher Ivan Somodorov, Natasha Romanoff became a member of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Her mission?  To take down Ivan.
She found him with a little girl, who she saved after bringing the building down upon her former mentor.  She took the child to America and told her she would be OK.  And then she left her in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s care..
Now seventeen, Ava Orlova has run away from S.H.I.E.L.D.  She has learned not to trust anyone.  That she cannot rely on the red-haired woman who called her sestrenka, little sister.  All she knows is she has to be her own hero – and that she dreams of a boy called Alexei with a Black Widow tattoo, even though she has never met him.
Natasha has never been much of a big sister.  But when children begin vanishing in Eastern Europe and rumours of the Red Room start up, Natasha fears her former teacher is not as dead as she hoped and his reaches, influences and plans go far deeper than she ever could've imagined...
I'm a huge Marvel fan.  I've had many a discussion with family and friends regarding the best team, character and film in the Marvelverse (team being either the new Guardians of the Galaxy or the X-Men, character being Remy LeBeau, AKA Gambit and film being Guardians of the Galaxy – my brother loudly disagrees with that final point).  So when I was offered the chance to review a book about the awesome Black Widow, how was I meant to refuse?!  Natasha Romanoff is a badass – a gorgeous and deadly agent with a fascinating backstory I really don't know enough about.  Awful, I know, but I love what Margaret Stohl has done with the character.  I just really enjoyed this book – it was like watching a Marvel movie and reading one of the comics all at once and I just loved it.  Also after reading this there needs to be a Black Widow standalone film – I am now in love with her.
Natasha Romanoff is one of MCU's most recognisable and awesome characters.  The Natasha from Forever Red is a mishmash of MCU Black Widow and the comic version – her backstory is more like that of the film Natasha and not the comic Natasha, although she's colder and sharper than movie Natasha.  Which is awesome!  Because – hello – Natasha's backstory is fascinating in the film's and I loved seeing more of it – and of those signature Black Widow death stares.  Who doesn't watch the films (and the brief flashes we get into her past) and think let me know you!  Just me?  Really?  Huh.  Anyways, Natasha was cold and businesslike (as expected) and yet she had these moments – these flashes of confusion and affection and anger that made her so very human and brilliant and ergo loving her.  This was Natasha says I'd never seen her before – as badass and tough as ever, but also broken and hurting and afraid and so very very human indeed.  And I loved it – I want more of this Natasha, this Tasha.
Despite the book series being titled as Black Widow, it's more about Ava – who I discovered after a quick Google upon getting the book is a superhero in her own right and has recently been introduced into the Marvel comics.  She was understandably confused and lost and a little angry at the world, but she was also funny and brave and badass as hell!
Alex was so sweet - he was brave and badass and kind and smart.  He was also pretty darn cute at times, I must admit!  
I must say the romance between Ava and Alex was rather insta-love-y.  After one twist I was like yes, this makes more sense now!  And then I was like hang this does not make more sense it in fact is a little weird now and then my head started hurting as I considered all the facts and then I had to go lie down and watch the Avengers.  But I digress.  They were adorable!  Like so cute – and so incredibly protective of one another, as would be expected in two teenagers tossed in the middle of a plot by a crazy man.
And OMG I loved all the little cameos!  Like Coulson – he's always a favourite of mine in the MCU and I loved seeing his quippy, funny self in Forever Red.  And Tony Stark's scenes?  Literally some of my favourite ones in the whole book!  I adore Tony and he was so perfectly Tony.  Margaret Stohl captured him so absolutely perfectly!  I must admit, I did miss the presence of one hawk-eyed archer (who is often portrayed as Natasha's BFF and also BF at times, though not the latter in the film's) – it was so sad not to have him doing a little cameo or at least being mentioned.  She trusted Tony enough to involve him – so why not Clint? 
The writing was awesome!  It started off from Natasha's POV (which I loved – being inside her head was amazing) and then switched.  We got a split POV between Natasha, Ava, Alex and then transcripts from an official S.H.I.E.L.D. interview of Natasha.  It was all third person – and did occasionally jump perspectives within a set characters' chapter – and I just loved it.  I loved getting into everyone's heads – although I must say Natasha's chapters was my favourite.  I loved her, if you haven’t gathered, and may possibly be a tiny bit obsessed now.  I regret nothing.
The plot – oh my god!  It was like reading a Marvel movie.  The plot was fast-paced and exciting, there were mysteries a plenty, there were thrills and twists – oh that last twist!  It left me in tears – the finale was explosive and then there was just this moment after, a moment of pain and sadness and why Margaret why that left me speechless and in shock.
If you can't tell by now, I loved Forever Red to pieces.  It was so much fun – a real roller coaster of excitement and awesomeness and superheroes and mysteries.  I cannot wait for Red Vengeance – I need in my life like you cannot imagine.  Stay Red, people – because after this series I ain’t ever going back! 

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer
Lois Lane by Gwenda Bond
The Avengers

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Parragon in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Watch Me Blog Tour: Extract and GIVEAWAY

Well hello, fellow book addicts! So nice to see you here for this super awesome and exciting blog tour! I adore the Social Media Murders series, even if they're making me paranoid as hell! Follow Me was a non-stop thrill ride - and I love how much the books concentrate on social medias and the dangers they pose. I am now mildly terrified of my own blog and also reluctant to use Snapchat - so thanks for that Angela! Still, these books are sooo worth it! Me by Angela Clarke:
YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.
This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.
DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

My stop for this blog tour includes an awesome and exclusive reading from Watch Me, read by the lovely Angela Clarke herself. Just watching this will make you crave Watch Me - which is lucky because I'm also offering a copy to all my UK readers, as well another awesome book called The Promise by Casey Kelleher! More on that after this brilliant extract - enjoy!

Squee, chills, am I right? It's got me all like:

Now who doesn't want to read Watch Me after that awesome extract?! And you have a chance to get your hands on your very own copy, plus a copy of the equally brilliant The Promise, due out 17th February 2017, click here to preorder!

Two sisters, one murder and an unbreakable bond.
Family ties can be deadly...
Now all that's left to do is head onto my Twitter and retweet my pinned Tweet for a chance to win these brilliant books! This giveaway is for my UK readers only and will end 6th February at midnight - good luck everyone!

Don't forget to follow the last stop of the blog tour over at Han's Book Reviews for another chance to win some awesome books! Oh and follow our lovely author @TheAngelaClarke and the brilliant @AvonBooksUK, because they are the ones who are giving you the chance to win these lovelies!
Buy the brilliant Watch Me from Amazon UK,
Book Depository or Waterstones!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Special Ones by Em Bailey

Publisher: Electric Monkey
Format: Paperback
Published: 28th July 2016
Number of Pages: 336
Book: For Review*
Genre:  Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller-Suspense, Psychological Suspense, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Spine-Tingling Suspense

Esther is one of the four Special Ones, chosen to live under his protection in a remote farmhouse.  They are not allowed to leave, and they must always be ready to broadcast their lives to eager followers on the outside.
But on renewal day when he decides that a new Esther, Harry, Lucille or Felicity must take their place, the old ones disappear – forever.  The new ones don’t always want to come, but soon they... realise.  Until one day Esther has a realisation of her own, and it changes everything.
A heart-racing thriller set in a cult.

I received The Special Ones on a normal Wednesday morning.  I'd been planning on spending the day making my shoes for YALC.  Instead I opened up a parcel, saw these two books by Em Bailey and decided to see what The Special Ones was about.  By lunch, I was already over 100 pages in and I just did not want to stop.  Ever.  I was utterly hooked – this book is amazing in a horrible, creepy-as-hell way!  I simply couldn't put it down, was just sucked into this terrifying world, into the life of 'Esther' as she played the role of her life...  It was just...  I'm struggling to find the words!
You see, Esther is one of a group of people called the Special Ones.  One of four enlightened, immortal people chosen by him and living to inspire their followers, who watch them as they live their perfect lives, as he watches over them.
The rules are numerous and Esther always follows hers.  She remains in the farm house, she cooks and cleans, she remains calm and dignified and she never touches the others – that simply isn't allowed.  Because he watches at all times, watches for mistakes.  The moment they make one, they're gone, never to be seen again – until they 'return' in a new body, unwilling and angry until they just... give in.  
Harry, Esther, Lucille and Felicity live in his world, play their roles, play for their lives.  They live in fear of him and yet they're told he protects them...  
God, I just loved how Em Bailey wrote everything in this book!  How she wrote that slow-burning beginning, Esther's fear and strength and guilt, the terrifying indications of his presence though we didn't see him – not yet...  It was just... wow.  Atmospheric, suspenseful, terrifying, creepy as goddamn anything!  I really don't want to give too much away, but the way we saw that brainwashing... utterly and completely scary as hell.  It was all just so so clever and in such an effortless way – it flowed and it grabbed and it sucked you in.  And then, half way through, bam!  Action hit off and the terror just grew even stronger.  
Up until then, we'd been in Esther's mind – and she was such a brilliantly complex, fascinating character.  And then, suddenly, we were in his head.  And that was... scary as frack.  His mind... God it was so terrifying!  I do wish there was a little more warning or explanation – one minute I was listening to Esther, the next I was watching her through his eyes and it just was like a huge jolt of surprise – which actually might have made the fear I felt reading his chapters even stronger.  Because he was... terrifying.  And the more I read about him, twisted as it was, I kind of understood a little more about why he made them live like that – the sick workings of a psychopath who wanted people to suffer like him, who wanted to be important, who wanted to belong...  Who found people as alone and vulnerable as could be and stole their lives from them, made them become people from a hundred years ago, with some words in a book being their only guidance, fear being their motivator...  It was scary, how horribly real he felt.
I also really liked Felicity – she was sweet and innocent and joyful amongst all the horrors of the farm, a burst of sunshine.  Harry was calm and reassuring – the relationship between him and Esther was utterly unique, unlike anything I'd ever read in YA before, and was totally perfect for the story.  
I've never read anything about a cult before, although I know there are a fair few out there in the YA market right now.  I've studied them in sociology and watched them on crime shows, but reading about a forced cult member's life was so much more hard hitting.  The way he was totally separate too was different, and although we got to look into his head, we never really knew why.  I have theories, but some concrete evidence would've been nice – was he just a psychopath?  Did he have some kind of mental health disorder, like schizophrenia?  The questions are endless and many are left open, and yet I rather liked the ending anyway.  It... it fit.  The finale felt a little rushed, perhaps, but maybe that was just because I was reading as fast as Dr Reid at the time (not really; I'm not that good – and bonus points to anyone who gets that reference).  
The Special Ones was unique and brilliant and horrible and creepy and so goddamn addictive it's untrue.  I dare anyone to read it and not finish it in a day or two.  I found myself reading well into the wee hours to finish – and then regretting that choice instantly when I found I couldn't go to sleep and was jumping at every little noise.  Never will I read another Em Bailey book in the dark – although I will be reading Shift soon.  Just... after I've calmed down from The Special Ones.  My heart is still pounding ad my head is still reeling and oh my God. If you haven't read it just go and read it right now!  It is just... mind-blowing and breath-taking and goosebumps-raising.  It is a phenomenal book that has left me shocked and scared and amazed because it felt so damn real.  I just... I have no other words.  Just read it and read it now. 
And when the sun is shining.  Because it's Thursday and I only slept last night after I'd finished the book and watched Friends for an hour.  
I regret nothing.  The Special Ones was worth every bit of sleeplessness.  Every single (yawn) bit.

Star Rating:

4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
13 Minutes by Sarah Pinsborough

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Egmont in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell

Series: Goth Girl, Book Two

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Format: Hardback

Published: 25th September 2014

Number of Pages: 224

Book: Bought

Genre:  Historical, Steampunk, Fantasy, Mystery, Gothic, Action-Adventure, MG

Recommended Age: 9+

Contains: Violence

Author's Site: Riddell

Preparations are under way for the Full-Moon Fete and the Great Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off.

Celebrity cooks are arriving at the hall for the big event, and as usual Maltravers is acting suspiciously.  On top of all this, Ada’s elusive lady’s maid Marlebone has a surprising secret, and everyone seems to have forgotten Ada’s birthday!


“Ada was exited too, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something strange was going on; she was worried about Marylebone, and it was her birthday in two days, which everyone had most likely forgotten again.  It had put her in rather a funny mood.”

Ghastly-Gorm Hall is extremely busy, preparing for the Full-Moon Fete.  Ada Goth's friends are soon wrapped up in the preparations, setting up for the Great Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off and welcoming famous chefs and artists.

But Ada is once again growing suspicious of Maltravers and has just met her lady's maid for the first time, discovering her long-kept secret.  Ada wants to find out what on earth Maltravers is up to and how to help her lady's maid – but how is she meant to do that without the Attic Club's help? 

Perhaps the charming and mysterious new guest, Lord Sydney Whimsy, can help her get to the bottom of the curious going-ons at Ghastly-Gorm Hall...

I adored the first Goth Girl book (see my review: here!), so knew I wanted to read Fete Worse Than Death as soon as humanely possible.  But even I wasn't expecting how fast 'as soon as humanely possible' turned out to be.  I read Fete Worse Than Death in a single sitting, gobbling it up as Team GB kicked arse in the Paralympics on the TV.  I just love this series so much!  I love the silly literary and culture references, I love the bonkers characters and zany plot and most of all I love those gorgeous gorgeous illustrations.  I wish I had little people around to read to, because this is just the most perfect reading aloud book ever and I am just totally in love. 

Once again, may I comment on the brilliantly odd characters in this series?  I can?  Marvellous.  First up: Ada.  She is a brilliant lead character – kind and quirky and unusual and brave.  I also love Lucy Borgia, because she is just such a badass – a duelling umbrella wielding badass of a governess.  Lord Stanley was an interesting character – mysterious, charming and amusing, he was a fun character to have in the book, even if I wasn't entirely sure what he was up to half the time...  Oh and Marylebone was so very sweet – and her book at the back was just adorable!  Many of us will see certain... parallels to a certain book about a rather well known bear, but the literary puns and parallels just make me adore this series (and Marylebone) even more.

The list of characters was even more bonkers in FWtD than it was in GoaM, ranging from chefs Mary Huckleberry and her manservant Hollyhead to Mr Tumnus a cabinet-making faun.  I do think maybe more effort went into the (admittedly hilarious) references than into characterisation – but this is a book for children, so I forgive that.  Plus the references were so very funny that I really didn’t mind much.

Chris Riddell's writing was brilliant – easy to understand but still wonderfully descriptive (helped, of course, by those gorgeous illustrations – more on that later).  It really is the perfect reading out loud book – the kids will love the fun storyline and quirky characters and the parents will love all the puns and references.  It's just so much fun to read – and so easy too.  As proven by the speed with which I read it...

Now we're onto my favourite part – those beautiful, beautiful illustrations!  They are just so stunning and atmospheric and perfect and gorgeous and I love them to pieces.  Chris Riddell is a master with both brush and words and I adore him and Goth Girl both!

While I didn't enjoy Fete Worse Than Death quite as much as Ghost of a Mouse, I still utterly adored it and totally recommend it – both for parents to read to their children and for everyone else to read too.  These books are just so much fun and are so very beautiful – I'm so in love with this series!  Gimme Wuthering Fright right now!  I need it so very much!

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

Wells & Wong by Robin Stevens

Happy Reading


Monday, 5 September 2016

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

Series: Goth Girl, Book One

Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

Format: Hardback

Published: 12th September 2013

Number of Pages: 224

Book: Bought

Genre:  Historical, Steampunk, Fantasy, Mystery, Gothic, Action-Adventure, MG

Recommended Age: 9+

Contains: Violence

Author's Site: Ridell

Meet Ada Goth.  She lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least a half a dozen of ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with.

Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael.  Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and get a lot more than they bargained for...


Ada Goth, only daughter of Lord Goth, lives at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, a beautiful and... unique home.  She shares it with her father (absent, hobby-horse racer and cycling poet) and numerous servants – but what Ada really wants is a friend.

And then she meets William and Emily Cabbage, whose father is creating a machine for Lord Goth – before long they are sucked into the mysteries of Ghastly-Gorm Hall.  These mysteries include discovering why Ishmael, the ghost of a mouse, is haunting Ada and what Maltravers, the indoor gamekeeper, is up to.  With the help of the Attic Club, Ada is determined to get to the bottom of the mysteries!  

But she might get more than she bargained for...

I adore Chris Riddell.  His illustrations are amazing and so distinctive and always bring a story to life.  Until Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, however, I've never read a book written by him and just him.  It will certainly not be the last because Goth Girl was absolutely phenomenally good!  Hilarious, witty, bonkers, tremendous fun and absolutely unputdownable – it was just so brilliant that I had to make up a word!  And so so beautiful!  I mean, the gorgeous silver foil up the spine, the brilliant purple around the pages, the tiny book by Ishmael at the back and there those beautiful beautiful illustrations!

The characters in this book were all...let's go with unique.  They were also awesome and brilliant and hilarious.  From brave, caring and clever Ada to the badass and brilliant Lucy Borgia, the characters were just so so inventive and unique,  I loved Ada of course, and Emily and William (Emily the artist and William with his chameleon abilities).  Ishmael the ghostly mouse wasn't in it as much as I'd expected, what with him being the title character (well, one of 'em) but he was so cute and his little book was brilliant – full review to come in a minute.  I really loved the governess and can't wait for her to come back – and the names of all the previous nannies, which included Moral Macabee, Hebe Poppins and Jane Ear!  That killed me!  

Chris Riddell is, of course, a phenomenal and distinctive illustrator – but he's also one hell of a writer!  Funny and witty, his writing was fairly simple and yet perfection when paired with the drawings.  And all the little jokes for parents reading to the kids, the silly names that were so, so close to those of real people, animals and places!  Brilliant!  Just brilliant!  Literary puns are literally the best things ever!  And the foot notes – written by "the severed foot of a famous writer who lost the aforementioned foot at the battle of Baden-Baden-Württemberg-Baden”: amazing.  The plot was great too – I do so love mysteries!  Especially ones including crafty servants and mythical creatures!

Seriously though – the drawings!  I loved 'em to death.  They were just gorgeous – atmospheric, perfect, beautiful, brilliant.   They were just so absolutely perfect!  Oh, if only Chris Riddell could illustrate everything ever written in the whole world ever!  Although then he might not have time to write more Goth Girl books – and I need more books...  Ok, so maybe not.  Still, the drawings were brilliant!

Goth Girl was so much fun to read!  I loved it to bits and read it quite happily all in one go!  It's perfect for young readers reading to themselves and also for parents reading a bedtime story. Or for older readers like myself to read and love because, quite frankly, everyone should read it!  It's awesome – stupendous!  I can't wait to read Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death!  Now onto my review of Memoirs of a Mouse...

"This is the tale of an ordinary mouse

Born and then raised in the wall of a house."

Bless little Ishmael and his great adventures!  He's so sweet and well-travelled!  His stories were a mix of tales from different books, one of which being Gulliver's Travels.  It was so fun to read and the illustrations were too cute!  Plus it was all rhyming – the first ever epic poem I've read that was penned by a "literary mouse"!  

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5


Read this book if you liked:

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The Map To Everywhere by Carrie Ryan

Wells & Wong by Robin Stevens

Happy Reading


Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Call Blog Tour: Peadar O'Guilin on Nessa

I am so completely honoured and thrilled to be taking part in The Call's UK blog tour. Why? Because The Call is a book I utterly adore, a book I've been waiting over a decade for. A book full of magic and horror and excitement and amazingness. I am just so completely in love with The Call (if you want proof, check out my very very long and fangirly review), every little piece of it.

But Nessa... Nessa is special. She's one of the most badass heroines I've ever read about, strong and feisty and determined and awesome. In the face of diversity and death, she fights back and never gives up.

But you didn't come here to listen to me ramble on. Here is the amazing Peadar O'Guilin himself to tell you all about the awesome Nessa...


Thank you for that, Peadar! I am in agreement - Nessa is incredible and if I hadn't already read The Call twice, I'd be rushing off to buy it right now! Which all of you should do this very instant! Here's some more information to tempt you with...

Blurb From Goodreads:
What if you only had 3 minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down...
Three minutes.
Nessa, Megan and Anto know that any day now they wake up alone in a horrible land and realise they've been Called.
Two minutes.
Like all teenagers they know that they'll be hunted down and despite all their training only 1 in 10 will survive.
One minute.
And Nessa can't run, her polio twisted legs mean she'll never survive her Call will she?
Time's up.
Unfortunately, this is the end of my stop on The Call Blog Tour - I hope you've enjoyed it and go and pick up a copy of Peadar's brilliant book ASAP. Honestly, it is a book that should not be missed and one I wholeheartedly and totally recommend. Grab it on Amazon, mark it as To Read on Goodreads, follow the brilliant Peadar on  Twitter - just do not miss out on The Call!

Oh and check out the brilliant previous stop on the tour over at The Chouett and don't miss the last stop tomorrow over at Sarah's Chapter! Enjoy!

Happy Reading Everyone!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

Series: The Call, Book One
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: ARC**
Published: 1st September 2016
Number of Pages: 336
Book: For Review*
Genre: Fantasy, Mythical, Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Smoking, Drug References
No Alcohol References

“Your people drove them out of their homes.  Thousands of years later they turn up again – and they’re gonna wipe you out.”
Three minutes...
On her birthday, Nessa finds out the terrible truth about her homeland, Ireland – the truth that will change her future forever.
Two minutes...
That she and her friends must train for the most dangerous three minutes of their lives: THE CALL.
One minute...
That any day now, without warning, they will each wake in a terrifying land, aloe and hunted, with a one in ten chance of returning alive.
And it is Nessa, more than anyone, who is going to need every ounce of guts, wit, and sheer spirit she was born with, if she – and the nation – are to survive.

I’m going to warn you all now: this review will be excited and fangirly and maybe a little long.  But I’ve been waiting for a book like The Call for over a decade now and I want everyone, the whole world, to know how bloody brilliant it is.  Plus I'm taking part in the blog tour tomorrow and my fangirling has reached fever pitch so I doubt I could stop myself even if I wanted to...
“Some time during her adolescence, the Sídhe will come for her, as they come these days for everyone.  They will hunt her down, and if she fails to outrun them, Nessa will die...
A very long time ago, the Irish made a treaty with the Sídhe, banishing them under the mounds, stealing their land and trapping them in a world without colour.
Now, the Sídhe are taking revenge.  By going after Ireland's children.  All teenagers get Called, vanishing from our world for three minutes and four seconds, whisked off the land of the Sídhe, where they are hunted down.  Few return in one piece, let alone alive.  And those that live are rarely the same.
Nessa was ten when she found out about the Call.  Her parents cried when they told her, neither believing she even had a chance.  Because, you see, Nessa had polio as a child and it has left her legs twisted, weak.  But in that moment, Nessa makes a declaration: "I'm going to live." 
Since then, she has trained alongside others her age.  No one believes she will survive, or that there's even any point to her training – after all, how is she meant to survive when she can't even keep up with her own classmates, let alone outrun a vengeful Sídhe? 
No one believes but Nessa.  She will survive the Grey Land.
But things are changing.  Whole schools are being slaughtered by killers who shrink into nothingness.  A rock appears from nowhere, a shrinking woman trapped inside.  Ireland is changing and they will need all the strength they can gather, if the Nation is to survive...
People who have met me will know I'm in a wheelchair.  I've been in the wheelchair since the age of twelve, or thereabouts, but I've had the neurological disorder since I was three.  I've always been different and, especially with the chair, people often treat you differently – think you're less able.  I like to think of myself just as capable as the next person, the difference being I find my own way to achieve the task.
For years, I’ve been campaigning for more diversity in books, especially regarding disabilities.  And my dream is to have disabled characters mixed in amongst the cast, have it as naturally occurring as hair colour or accents.  And so, when offered the chance to review an advanced copy of The Call, I jumped on the opportunity with glee.  I've wanted a disabled character as the protagonist for so long – and God, The Call was worth the wait.  From the very first chapter, I was utterly enraptured.  I fell in love with this awful world and the brilliant characters – especially Nessa, who was so different from your usual YA heroine and so much more amazing because of these differences.  
But let's move on from the awesomeness that is the diverse disability factor because even without that, The Call would have been phenomenal.  The world building was amazing, the feelings of suspense and dread and fear grew with every page, the characters were diverse and painfully real, the writing was beautiful, the plot gripping and the perfect pace, full of Calls and fights and mysteries...  It was like A Court of Thorns and Roses meets The Hunger Games, only no one is safe from being Called and there's no guarantee that one victor will survive the Sídhe's games.
Crom, I honestly can't even tell you all how much I adored this book.  I just...  I am just so utterly in love with it, even though it scared me half to death and broke my heart and left me desperate for more more more.
Nessa is the character I've been waiting for.  Tough, brave, stubborn as hell and probably the strongest character I've ever read about.  Everyone treated her differently, pitied her, just assumed she was doomed, but Nessa never gave up.  She wasn't always the most compassionate or even, I guess, likeable character – but she was brave and good and by far the most amazing 'disabled' character I've ever met.  I'll even forgive her stereotypical lead YA gal perfect beauty, which isn't something I do lightly!
I had two other favourites amongst the diverse cast.  Megan was brilliant – snarky, sharp and so protective and complex.  All the characters were amazing, but I truly loved the relationship between her and Nessa.  And then there’s Anto, who was just lovely – a breath of sweetness and goodness in a sea of grey and prickly characters.  
But Connor was a total and utter prick.  I can't even begin to describe his dickdom – his ruthlessness, his illusions of grandeur, his confused lust...  Yeah.  Dick.
Nessa was the main narrator, but I feel the POV jumped every so often – giving us little snippets into other characters' heads.  I found it a little confusing, disorientating even, at first – but I quickly grew to love it.  I loved the twisted glimpses of the Grey Land, the fights, the little clues of what would come...  
Seriously though – this world...  The very idea behind it all is breathtaking.  I literally adored it – it was unique and brilliant and shocking.  I might not know much about traditional Sídhe lore in Ireland – though I'll be researching the hell out of it now because it's fascinating! – but I fell in love during The Call.  The 'horses' and 'dogs' and 'clothes' made of human victims... the fact the Sídhe are punishing the children for their banishment, because they just want to escape... They are a terrifying enemy, but things aren't always black and white or rainbows.  Sometimes it's just... grey.
Even without The Call being just the kind of book I've wanted since before I started blogging, it's still amazing.  It's addictive and exciting and unique and beautiful and breathtaking and by the Cauldron I want more more more.  I just cannot tell you how much I adored The Call and how utterly desperate I am to get my greedy little hands on the next book.  Because, my God, it was so good.  This book was so damned amazing and I won't forget it and it is just a book I've waited so long for, anticipated, and yet somehow did not let me down one single bit - Peadar, I love you so much for this.  Crom, this review has got so long it's practically a novel itself – so I'll just stop now with one plea: Read The Call.  YA needs more diversity and The Call is a stunning example of how characters with 'disabilities' can be just as – maybe even, dare I say, a hell of a lot more – amazing than those without.  So read it, be amazed, be left speechless, and then spread the word once you've got your breath back, because The Call is too good to miss.

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Grisha by Leigh Bardugo
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin         

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review
** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book