Gather the Daughters

Gather the Daughter – Jennie Melamed

The lovely people of Bookbridgr sent me a gorgeous hardcover of this (seriously the dust jacket is beautiful) right around the time that the Handmaid’s Tale was wrapping up, it’s almost like they knew I would be hunting for something to fill the Offred sized hole that was left behind and this book, dear God this book. It, as the kids say, left me SHOOK.

GATHER THE DAUGHTERS tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It’s a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.

Honestly, I’m a bit lost as to where to begin with this. It was as hard to read as it was to put down.
That doesn’t explain a lot, does it?
Sorry, let’s try again.

This book reminded me of lots of other things, but at the same time it was so original. What we have is a cult like community where the patriarchy rules, each family is given their own profession, couples are paired up and allowed two children and when they become too old to be useful, they are put out to pasture. They are confined to their island and are not told anything of the world outside, much like The Giver, which is one of my faves. The only freedom allowed is for those considered children, every summer they’re allowed to live as though feral, in an almost Lord of the Flies kind of way. The adults remain inside and those girls unfortunate enough to start menstruating have to do their summer of fruition, which, like in Only Ever Yours, is when they’re gathered up and presented to a group of single men to be picked and matched up. By winter they’re likely married and pregnant and the cycle continues. In this society the birth of a boy brings celebration, the birth of a girl brings sorrow for before the girls belong to their husbands they belong to their fathers. Yes that sentence is heaped with innuendo and here’s the part where I chuck you some trigger warnings. This is a society where child molestation and sexual assault are not only normal but are insisted upon. There is also a character with an eating disorder, just fyi.

The story is told from the point of view of four girls aged between 17 and 13 living in this society and one of them sees something they’re not supposed to which throws this whole community into turmoil. Now you can see why it was so hard to read, these girls’ lives are horrific but Jennie Melamed tells it with such subtlety that it creeps its way into your subconscious and haunts you. Her author profile tells me that she’s a psychologist that works with abused children and you can tell that she’s someone who understands the sensitivities and employs them with care. A lot of the incidents in this book are inferred, nothing is gratuitous. The bio also tells me that she owns three shiba inu’s and frankly, that’s brilliant.

Gather the Daughters is a wonderful and horrific book (can that be possible?) that should be a must for anyone who’s into their dystopians or is interested in reading more about cults.

Here’s another thing, this hasn’t been done in a while, but this was so good it gets a Nick Fury Seal of approval.

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Sofia Khan is not Obliged

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Sofia Khan is Not Obliged – Aiysha Malik

Note to self, read more about non white people.

“Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’
Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.
As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

How sad is it that I live in a world where I actually have to make a note to self to find diverse literature?

Anyway, I first heard about this book when watching this video:

Basically, Leena (the vlogger in question) has raved about this book, she not only mentioned it in a book haul, but then she also interviewed the author (Aiysha Malik) about being a Muslim woman in Britain. If you’re not familiar with Leena, you should totally check her out, she’s very insightful and articulate and she is part of the Banging Book Club which I have been loving this year. Anyway, I was going to be reviewing Sofia Khan is not Obliged, not Leena’s YouTube channel. Whatever you take away from this post, check out both the book and Leena’s channel. Mmmkay?

Anyway, the above video, much like the book, was kind of eye opening for me. I like to think that I am an accepting person, I kinda live by the you do you mantra, but I do live in a very white, very closed part of the world where it’s more unusual not to hear a bit of casual racism as you go about your day, anyway because I am white and I don’t live in a particularly multi cultural area, I don’t know anyone who is openly Muslim and apart from the few things I was taught for GCSE RE, I don’t know an awful lot about Islam. I do however, know better than to listen to what the mainstream media tell me about Islam. TLDR, Leena’s video is super interesting and ya’ll should watch it.
Aside from being very informative, they talked about Aiysha’s novel, Sofia Khan is not Obliged, which made me immediately add it to my tbr list and do a literal jig for joy when I found it on the recently returned shelf at the library. Seriously, I got some funny looks, which might have been to do with the jig and might have been to do with the fact that I turned up 10 minutes before closing and proceeded to wonder about very slowly choosing things read. Can you tell I haven’t reviewed anything for a while? Since when have I been rambly af?

If you’re still with me, I salute you.
When I was reading it, I was firstly struck at how little I knew about modern Muslim life in Britain and also how few books I’ve read that feature non white protagonists. This is something I need to rectify. Please recommend me things.

Anyway, this book, I implore you all to read this book, diversifying your bookshelves aside, this was frankly genius.

I don’t want to repeat every other review and label this the Muslim Bridget Jones, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe it. Sofia Khan is a thirty something Muslim lady who has sworn off men (mostly because her sort of boyfriend wanted her to marry him and live with him in a house next door to his parents with a wall removed, essentially making it one house. Sofia was neither obliged or amused). One review I read of this on goodreads opened with the line: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Sofia Khan is in need of a husband. Genius. It turns out, that much like in non-Muslim households, not being married (or at least romantically entangled) before turning thirty, is a really big deal in Sofia’s home. She has to constantly deal with her family not understanding why she is happy to be on her own, as well as trying to deal with being part of this community, but also being a modern woman who has her own thoughts and ideas. Sofia herself was born and raised in London, her parents were not and the clashes in environment and outside influences were so interesting to read.
Anyway, Sofia, who works as a publicist for a publisher accidentally ends up pitching a Muslim dating book to her boss and finds herself given the task of writing it… cue the often hilarious situations she finds herself in as she actually has to join Muslim dating sites and attend Muslim speed dating for research purposes. This is all while battling the idea of being happy being alone vs finding a husband, while hanging out with people she may or may not be developing feelings for, the comings and goings of her ex and his compromises about the hole in the wall and her band of friends, one of whom is dating someone of a different race and another has become a second wife – this concept was kind of alien to me so reading about it was super interesting – and how these two things clash with their upbringings and the world they live in.

Aside from being a fun, heartfelt book about the trials and tribulations of a thirty something navigating the London dating scene, its also super interesting to read about the prospective of a person so completely removed from my background. I had always been under the impression (and honestly, the media doesn’t help this) that Muslim women are oppressed, Leena’s video and Aiysha Malik’s book both contradict this and while there are lots of traditional rules that make it seem that way, from reading this, though there are obvious cultural differences, there are many similarities too. Sofia, her mum and sister are expected to be cooks and run a house hold. That’s true of women whatever their religion, Sofia is in her thirties and feeling pressured to find a man, do you know who else had that? Bridget Jones, the one Sofia Khan is so often compared to in reviews. Other things that were interesting about this book is the idea of hijabs, Sofia, unlike many of her friends and family, chooses to wear a hijab and pray five times a day. She chooses not to drink, she chooses to smoke and swear. She goes to speed dating for goodness sake! And while she is careful to respect the parameters of her families beliefs, ie not allowing a man in the house after hours etc, she is not oppressed. She wears skinny jeans. How can you be oppressed if you wear skinny jeans? I just kind of loved that here is a person that loves their religion and follows its rules (an alien concept for me, the atheist) who was also relatable.
Plus, this was pretty bloody funny. Here is a genuine line from the book, after being called a terrorist while on the tube, Sofia responds with:

Terrorists don’t wear vintage shoes you ignorant wanker!

Come on, that is incredible.

Actually, I liked this so much, its going to get the Nick Fury Seal of Approval.

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It’s been a while since he made an appearance hasn’t it?

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton

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The Drowning of Arthur Braxton – Caroline Smailes.

This isn’t the weirdest book I’ve ever read, but it is certainly unique and that is why I am telling all of you that you have to go and read it!

An urban fairy tale from the acclaimed author of 99 Reasons Why.
Arthur Braxton runs away from school.
He hides out in an abandoned building, an old Edwardian bathhouse.
He discovers a naked woman swimming in the pool.
From this point on, nothing will ever be the same.
The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is an unflinching account of the pain and trauma of adolescence and of how first love can transform the most unhappy of lives into something miraculous. It is a dark and brooding modern fairy tale from one of our most gifted writers.

Also, the author totally favourited my tweet about this book without me even having to mention her or anything. So, there’s that. Not that that made me want to write this review or anything. I’m not complete trash. (I am.)

So, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, let me tell you a story about my search for this book, how I finally got to read it and what I thought of it. Also the circumstances in which I read it were pretty interesting too. Basically, a lot of this is going to be word vomit, bare with. I first heard of this book when perusing some of my fave blogs, several book bloggers I read regularly had picked this up, all but one of them raved about it, all of them said it was different than anything else they had read, naturally I was intrigued. But what intrigued me even more was the fact that I couldn’t find this book anywhere. I went to Waterstones in Bath, Bristol and Wells. That’s three different counties. None of them stocked it, but they could if I wanted to pay over a tenner for it. I’m a cheap skate, aint nobody got funds for that. I searched online, again a few places had it but with hefty price tags. I thought to myself, Arthur Braxton must be a wiley so and so, everyone says how good it is and yet, it is no where to be found.
About a year or so later, Luke Cutforth (he’s a YouTuber in case you didn’t know) announced that he was going to be making the feature film version of the Drowning of Arthur Braxton and started up a kickstarter to get the funds to actually make the thing. Suddenly this book was everywhere. Thanks Luke Cutforth! I eventually, after a year of searching, found it on the kindle store for a whole 99p. But now having read it, I probably would have spent the tenner and thought it was worth it. I mentioned it in fact in my last library haul. Now comes the weird circumstances in which I found myself reading it, I got picked for jury service (I might write a blog about the experience – but of course, not the trials and or the other jurors, because I don’t fancy going to prison), for those that don’t know, jury service involves a lot of sitting around doing nothing. Naturally, I read a tonne of books, Arthur Braxton I managed in one four hour sitting waiting to be selected for a trial. Dear God it was glorious. Mostly because the opening of Arthur’s introduction goes like this: “Not only do I have a boner, but I’m running through the yard with my pants around my arse and its raining on my cock.” Or words to that effect.

You have never felt anxiety if you’ve never had to shield your kindle from hundreds of other jurors whilst reading that sentence. Honestly, how could you not fall a bit in love with a story where your titular character is introduced in those circumstances?

Anyway, that’s enough about me, let’s talk about this book. So, I said at the beginning of this (which literally feels about a million years ago) that this wasn’t the weirdest book that I’ve ever read, but that it was still pretty unique, I will warn you, this isn’t your regular old teen read. This is a story told by several different characters surrounding an old swimming bath which was believed to have magical powers. Our main two narrators are the titular Arthur Braxton (though he doesn’t show up until a little way in) and Delphina (who shows up even later), there is also my favourite character of the lot, Laurel, who’s story broke my heart a  little. The blurb refers to this book as an urban fairytale and I think that sums it up pretty accurately, this is a story ground in mythology, but set, pretty much in modern day Wales, with modern day happenings and modern day people that happen to coexist alongside this strange, magical world surrounding the bathhouse known as the Oracle. There are several narrators, each of whom are around the same age when telling their version of events and I felt that each of them had their own unique voice and their own way of speaking. Laurel and Arthur both had a casual colloquial way of talking, Arthur’s was much cruder, granted, but I did feel like I was sat down opposite a teenager I vaguely knew being told about their experiences with the Oracle. I noticed a couple of reviews criticised the author’s use of slang, that they didn’t like Laurel and Arthur saying ‘probs’ instead of probably and things like that and yeah, at first I was a bit like God, how annoying, until I realised that at times I say probs, maybs and IRL and the worse thing is, they’ve become so ingrained in my vocabulary that half the time it’s not even ironic use any more. I did say I was trash at the beginning of this post, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Because of that, I got over my literary snobbishness fairly quickly. Whilst I am a writer, I love words, I love being articulate and I love language being used properly, I also love the idea of slang and how individuals use certain phrases and tailor words to their own style. All that stuff fascinates me, so that was one thing I really loved about the Drowning of Arthur Braxton. It felt real, even though this is obviously a work of fantasy.

I like to mention trigger warnings when I write reviews, because honestly, though I loved this book, I wouldn’t want to put anyone through any unnecessary trauma, while this is a fairy tale of sorts, there are a lot of very real, very horrible things that happen in this book. There is child neglect, there is divorce, there is rape, there is bullying, there is mental health issues, there is suicide. If any of these things are triggering for you, I won’t be at all offended if you decide to leave Arthur Braxton, if they’re not and you’re, like I was a year ago, intrigued as to how a modern day fairy tale encompasses all those things while introducing a character talking about his genitals being rained on, then by all means pick this up. It is weird, it is addictive, it is probably the most crude thing you’ll pick up, but it is also funny, it has a lot of heart and it is so well written, you’ll soon forget about the slang and the complete randomness of the Oracle bathhouse.

All you really need to know is that I enjoyed this so much I am giving it the Nick Fury Seal of Approval and you know when you see the Nick Fury Seal that this was a damn good book. I’m sure now that the film version has been funded that this book will see a bit of a revival in terms of popularity and when the film finally gets made I think I’ll be one of the first people in queue to see how exactly they’re able to transfer it onto the big screen.

To find out more about what’s happening with the film you can click here to go see Luke’s video!
In the mean time, head to the book store of your choice and see if you can find this!

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Lorali

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Lorali – Laura Dockrill

Laura Dockrill is a name you hear bandied about a lot, I’m forever being told that she’s a genius, but don’t know very much about her, which is why I was so excited to see a copy of her latest book, Lorelai come into my possession.

Colourful, raw, brave, rich and fantastical – this mermaid tale is not for the faint-hearted.
Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.
Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.
But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?

I don’t think I have ever read a book about mermaids before, which is something that really needs addressing, because mermaids. I’m so glad that my introduction to this genre was this book because, although a little hard to get into at the beginning, Lorali is a fabulous read. We have mythology, we have world building, we have completely normal British teens, we have action, we have adventure, we have pirates, like this book pretty much covers all and every base and it does it wonderfully.

The beginning, as I said is a little hard to get into, it is confusion, a mash of short sentences and a staccato feel, once you get onto chapter two, which introduces one of our heroes, Rory, you realise exactly why the opening was so confusing and messy, you realise the brilliance of this whole book and you realise that you’re in for a bit of a wild ride. The book is split into a number of different chapters, all told from varying points of view. We have the aforementioned Rory, who has just turned sixteen and has spent his birthday rescuing a naked girl from the beach and getting soaked in a storm, we have Lorali herself who is a bundle of mystery that is deliciously unraveled, we have the sea itself, which is actually one of the more interesting characters, we have fellow mermaid Opal and we have the pirates, plus a whole host of other fascinating characters. Each character’s voice shines through these chapters wonderfully, I’m not often a fan of books that swap narrative because I find they often merge into one, not with this, we have articulate Rory who drops into teenage British slang at the drop of a hat and is both mystified by and protective of Lorali, we have Lorali, who finds Hastings and this strange world new and wonderful, but also frightening and confusing. We have Opal who is confident and out spoken. Not a single one of these voices sound the same which was brilliantly refreshing. As was this entire concept to be honest, like I said, I have never read a book about mermaids before, I didn’t even really consider that this was a thing, the story line and the themes of this book were fresh and despite its fantastical nature, was a little too real sometimes.

Lorali is the kind of novel that leaves you wanting to sacrifice sleep so you can remain inside this eccentric, wonderfully created world a  little longer. It’s funny, it’s heart warming, it’s thrilling, it’s emotional and by the end you’ll feel a deep and terrible loss that the book is over and these characters will no longer tickle your imagination. (That’s what re reads are for I guess!)

I know now why everyone tells me that Laura Dockrill is a genius, this book is incredible, her writing style is addictive and I am eagerly searching for more Laura Dockrill and more mermaid fiction. Plus I’m told she is friends with Kate Nash. Squad goals if ever I head them.  In fact, I enjoyed this so much that I have given it my Nick Fury Seal of Approval.

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A Monster Calls

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A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Oh dear God, I was not expecting to cry as much as I did reading this, I was not expecting to get so immersed and I was a bit unprepared for this book and so, I want to try and make your life as easy as possible by preparing you for this book.

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

I went into this knowing nothing but that it was a Patrick Ness, and therefore, had to be wonderful. I wasn’t wrong, this book is wonderful, but where I was expecting high fantasy and literal monsters, what we got was a metaphorical one, a silent and invisible killer, the suffering of a young boy and the utter unfairness of mortality.
Yeah. It’s a bit deep.

I don’t want to give too much away about this story, I think one of the reasons why this book had such a profound effect on me was that it took me by surprise, I didn’t know what it was about, I didn’t know what I would witness and I think in the world of the internet, we’ve kind of lost that beauty of opening a book and being completely taken aback by it. I mean goodreads is great and all, but SPOILERS.

This is going to be the shortest review in history because there is so much I want to say about this book and so much I can’t say because there simply aren’t words to express how unfortunate and short life can be for some people. I am not articulate enough to tell you how utterly brilliant this book is, both in conception and execution. Patrick Ness is a genius, something I’ve known since reading his Chaos Walking series a while back, but while those were brilliantly written, this was on a whole new level. If you’ve not experienced Patrick Ness, you need to. If you’ve not had tears rolling down your face after reading a book you thought was about literal monsters, you have not known greatness.

Basically, read this.
I want to give this the Nick Fury Seal of Approval… But would that cheapen the moment… Probably… I’ll tag it as such, but just imagine there is a seal with an eye patch here.
Also, Patrick Ness is one of the authors appearing at YALC this year, so if you’re able to go (I really want to because I went last year and it was amazing) you totally should.

Every Last Word

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Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone

I really wished that I had the time to read this during TimeToChange because it would have been so topical and relevant and I really wanted to be able to join the discussion without having to share things that I am still not really comfortable discussing on the internet. This book would have been perfect, not only do we have a character who suffers from a mental health issue, but we have one that is surrounded by people who accept and love her and help her accept and love herself. And honestly, that is amazing.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.
Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.
Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

So many books that I read about someone suffering from a mental health issue has them spiralling out of control, being admitted to hospital and then regaining control. Which is great, that is a narrative that a lot of people can relate to and honestly, the Bell Jar is a novel that completely and utterly articulates exactly what happened to me and how I was feeling a couple of years ago. But even so, there are plenty of people living with a mental health issue that aren’t on the verge of suicide, that don’t hear voices or need to be in a specialised unit and I feel a little bit like these people are under represented in literature, which is why this book is so good.  Sam, although being medicated and seeing a psychiatrist, isn’t dangerous to herself or others, she isn’t locked away from the world, she has to live in it and live with her OCD which was not only added to an already very rich and interesting character, but also gave another less explored insight into literature about mental health.

There are a lot of layers to this story, firstly we have Sam, who as we know from the very first page has a quite serious OCD, her thoughts scare her and she is medicated in order to sleep, we know that her OCD controls pretty much every aspect of her life and that she is scared of being seen as being as abnormal as she fears she is. We also know from the first page that Sam is part of a friendship group that makes her feel insecure about herself and her abilities, which is something we can all relate to. This friendship group is a fairly toxic one full of popular girls who have put Sam in situations where she hasn’t been a particularly nice person, something that she regrets, but is also one of those friendship groups where each girl feels the need to compete against each other, stab each other in the back and then just act as though that’s what friends do. Even if you are someone lucky enough to not be able to relate to mental health side of the book, you can certainly see the reality in the school life.

This isn’t just a book about a girl with an OCD, this is also a book about poetry, about growing up and finding yourself. One of the main themes of the book is how although Sam loves her friends, she is also scared of them. She is scared at what they would do to her if she wasn’t there friend, she is scared of being left out by them and she is scared of how they would react if they knew what was in her head. There are loads of instances in the story of her being upset by things her friends have said, I don’t know about you, but I know that feel. There is a huge strand of this story line which is all about Sam realising that people grow up and they grow apart and that the people you were friends with in primary school are not the same people when they reach secondary school. During the course of the story, this realisation hits her, especially when she starts making new friends through the medium of poetry. These new friends are just as complex and outside of the popular social circle of school. In fact, I guess this book, if we want to make comparisons, is a little like Perks crossed with the Dead Poet’s Society. This ragtag group of kids with their own issues going on have secret meetings where they write and read poetry and its kind of beautiful. Every Last Word is littered with these poems composed by various characters and even though I am not all that into poetry, it was something that even I could appreciate and enjoy. Being someone that loves words and loves books about words and stories etc, I am always very nervous when picking something up that involves those things. I don’t have a particularly good record of finding books about writers or fellow word nerds that are well… Enjoyable, but this was, in fact, every last word of Every Last Word was a joy to behold. The story was great, the narration was great, the characters were great, the portrayal of mental health was great. Basically I really liked it, can you tell?

I don’t feel like this rambly review is doing the story justice, but essentially, Sam learns to deal with her problems with a creative outlet and by exploring new friendships and hobbies and the fact that although she struggles with her OCD and it is clearly something that she see’s as a burden, it doesn’t necessarily hold her back which is a pretty important message to drive home to people if you ask me. It also just so happens that Sam’s life is told in a wonderfully positive and creative way.

Every Last Word is being released in June, so don’t forget to add it to your to buy/ to hire/ to track down lists, because seriously, it’s incredible and if there is one book that you should be looking forward to, it is this one. Many thanks to Net Galley for supplying me with a copy.

This is in fact the first book I’ve reviewed this year to get the Nick Fury Seal of Approval – others that would have gone into this category had I been articulate enough to review them after reading were: Falling into Place and Shock of Fall, which funnily enough, had similar themes to this book!

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Veronica Mars: Mr Kiss and Tell

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Veronica Mars: Mrs Kiss and Tell – Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Idk about the rest of you, but the fact that Veronica Mars isn’t on TV any more is really detrimental to my well being. Which is why I was so excited to learn about the movie and then even more excited when my friend informed me that there would be a book series including all my favourite characters and places from the original show. When the first book was released last year, said friend lent it to me and OH MY DEAR GOD. I actually considered taking a few days holiday just so that I could read it, it’s the kind of book that gets under your skin, the kind of book that haunts you and the sequel was no different.

The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman’s story.
The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

Now, Veronica Mars is an institution. I grew up with Veronica Mars, I watched those characters grow up and so it does have a special place in my heart, which is why when my friend gave me the first book, it was with a sense of trepidation that I opened the first page. But, honestly, it was absolutely incredible. So, when I saw the second book available on netgalley, I jumped on that straight away.

Mr Kiss and Tell, like the Million Dollar Tan Line, is wonderfully intricate. The characters are so well rounded, the mystery is so brilliantly constructed and the story has that special something, that thing that draws you in and keeps you dangling until the very last full stop. Both of them are written in the style of a film noir, following on from the themes and atmosphere of the television show, we see part of the crime, or at least, we think we do and as the book reaches its conclusion, you see the mystery as Veronica does, you watch the pieces click into place alongside her and for me at least, that made me feel connected to this book and this mystery in a way I never experienced with any other detective fiction.

Regardless of whether you were a fan of the original show, if you like good writing, if you like engaging stories and if you like crime novels, then maybe you should grab the Veronica Mars series, the first two books are out now and even the physical copies, the sleeves and the pages are a joy to behold. Basically, picking up the Veronica Mars books is not something that you are going to regret.

In fact, because I loved it so much, it gets the Nick Fury Seal of Approval.

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