Book Review: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister (Blog Tour)

I am so honoured to take part in this blog tour.
Doe to some private reasons I wasn’t able to post my review on Saturday when it was my turn to be the host. I am taking this opportunity to apologize to everyone involved.

I really enjoyed reading this book (and talking about it with my colleagues), so I hope that Anything You Do Say will be a huge success.

I’d like to thank Jenny Platt from Penguin Random House UK, for giving me this opportunity.

About the book:

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

My Review:

So… Do you know that case when you read a book and you want to talk about it with everyone around you, even though they didn’t read it nor they’re familiar with the story? And you just want to question them all the time “What would you do?”

That is what happened to me with this book, and I dare to say it will happen’ to most of the readers. I just couldn’t help it! I wanted to know what would my colleagues do if they were in Joanna’s shoes. It got so bad, I started guessing what each colleague would choose before they even had a say (I guess I’m weird like that).

One good thing came out of that: many of them want to read this book now (so my mission is completed! Gillian McAllister, you can now just sit and wait for the croatian translation (hopefully, fingers crossed!)).

 

So… what is this book about?
It is about a woman who’s story showed us how one single impulse decision can have a power to change lives complitely.

Joanna, our protagonist, is a woman who decided to have a night out with her friend. While they were in a bar, one guy asked them to pose for a selfie. They agreed, but after that the guy just wouldn’t let them be. He was way too pushy and he even sexualy assaulted Joanna, by rubbing his dick onto her, all while he had his clothes on (maybe I’m not describing all the details right, but it was some similar scenario if not the same).
After a while, when it was time to go home, Joanna parted ways with her friend and, alone in the dark, she had heard footsteps behind her. They were loud, coming after her, and she had an impulse, defensive reaction and as the guy touched her, she pushed him down the stairs, and he fell with his face down in a puddle.

What should she do now? Call 999 and take the blame, or just walk away, as it never happened?

From that moment, the story parted into two stories, Reveal and Conceal, that give you a see what happened with each decision.

I feel like there is so many ways you can actually read this book. You can read it as usual, parallelly follow each story, or you can read one story, then the other (or just one).

I was thrilled by both of them, but I have to admit that Conceal grabbed more of my attention. It was more intense and it kept me on the edge of my sit. One reason for that is McAllister’s writing style, because she did a great job picturing Joanna’s paranoia and her many trains of thought.

Reveal was also very good, even though it was passive at times. What I mean is, sometimes I just read the story and watched what will happen’ to Joanna, not being too engaged in the story.
However, there were some moments when I was pretty nervous.

What I liked the most in both of these stories is how well we got to see what was going on in Joanna’s head. All the chaos, every little decision after the big one that chose her path, had an impact on her and we got to see how she was changing every day, but also how her behaviour and everything that was going on played a role in lives of people aroud her, and how they were changing too.

This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one!

I only wish Anything You Do Say was already out so we could disccuss it properly, because I’d really like to know what you’d choose if you were in Joanna’s place: to call 999 or to walk away?

Follow the tour:

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Book Review: Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin (Blog Tour)

I am so happy to be today’s host in Spring at Blueberry Bay blog Tour.
I want to say thank you to Holly Martin for giving me this opportunity.

Blurb:

Welcome to beautiful Hope Island where the sea sparkles, the daffodils are blooming and a blossoming romance is just around the corner…

Bella has always had a sunny outlook and caring nature, despite recently falling on hard times. When she finds a handsome homeless man on her doorstep, her kind heart tells her she must help him. So, she invites Isaac into her cottage and into her life in ways she could never have imagined…

But Isaac is not what he seems. He’s keeping a huge secret from Bella, yet he never expected to fall for this open, generous and charming woman.

Bella can’t ignore the chemistry between her and Isaac, but she’s had her trust badly broken in her past. Will she run when she learns the truth about Isaac, or will he be the one man who can help Bella believe in love again?

A gorgeously romantic and heartwarming story to completely lose yourself in. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Jane Costello and Miranda Dickinson.

Review:

Are you looking for something that will cure your boredom and make you smile?
Here, take one of Holly Martin’s books!
This one is the perfect choice, if you ask me!

Holly’s books tend to contain the same characteristics: The writing style is always querky, esay to read and fun, the places she describes are always so beautiful you can’t help but want to visit them, her characters are likeable, the romance is almost touchable and rooting for the two to get together is unavoidable, and they always put a smile on reader’s face. Every time.
This one was no exception.

Spring at Blueberry Bay was a quick, warm and fluffy read that brought some fun to my lately over-scheduled life.

It follows Bella who is a charity event fundraiser, and Isaac who runs an Umbrella company, the charity company Bella wants to work for.
After acting a role of a homeless guy and introducing himself with a fake name, Isaac falls for Bella and now telling her the true about his identity could mean the lost of her trust.
Bella was hurt before and finding a way to trust someone who lied to her can be pretty challenging.

I really, really, really liked this book. I enjoyed every single page.
I loved the place – Blueberry Bay, I loved the people, I even  liked the dogs (I mean, I ALWAYS like the dogs)!

And there is also one more thing I liked above all – how the importance of the family and people we surround ourself with is explored.
I enjoyed reading scenes about Bella’s relationship with her cousins that she looked at as brother and sister, because they were there for her and gave her home when she didn’t have her own family.

If you’re looking for a book full of love, warmth, and affection, Spring at Blueberry Bay is the one you’re looking for.
I highly, highly recommend this one to romance lovers out there.

About the Author:

Holly has been writing for six years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. Holly lives in Bedfordshire.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * GoodReads * Amazon Page

Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Title: Allegedly
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date: January 24th, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Review:

Only few books can shake me. Allegedly is one of them.

After I finished this compelling novel, I needed some time to process everything that was going on in the book, as well as calm myself so I could understand my feelings.

Reading this, you probably think I’m exaggerating.
If I was you, I’d probably think the same.
But I am telling the truth. Sometimes we don’t know how we’re going to react to a certain book, and sometimes our reactions can surprise us.

Going into this story, I knew it would be difficult for me. I was even aware how disturbing it was.
You probably hear about Allegedly, as one of novels written in own voices, one that was praised in “reading diversity” movement (if that’s a movement, I’m not 100% sure), the book that is important to read.

First of all, I agree with the statement how it is important for this book to be read, and for author’s voice to be heard.
This is one hugely important, disturbing book that represents not only people of color, but minority that we don’t get to read often about – teenagers in group home.

Honestly, I am afraid how I’m going to sound when I say this, but I will say it anyway: this novel reminded me how happy my life is. When I reflect and compare it to lives like ones I read about in this novel, to teenagers who yes, committed crimes during their lives, but are still alive and have to live with invisible “Scarlet letter” that follows them every where they go, without support of their families, in poverty and with someone else deciding about everything in their life, I understand how privileged I actually am.
And once again, I used the word I am really not a fan of, but there is no other word to say it better.

The story is told in first person, following Mary’s POV.
Beside Mary’s narration (and I have to state that Mary is one of the best narrators I had a pleasure to read about), there are bunch of newspaper articles, police interviews, excerpts from doctor’s papers and other similar stuff.

Reading Allegedly was thought provoking and emotional experience.
It definitely wasn’t easy.
Some scenes were violent and disturbing, some were harder to understand, some were extremely sad, but what hit me the most was how everyone underestimated Mary all the time.

I rooted for her, even though she never stated if she did it, if she killed the baby. She said she did, allegedly.
But yet, you as a reader don’t believe she would do such a thing. She does not seem like that kind of person.

The writing style is amazing, and I simply can not believe this is a debut novel.

One more thing I’d like to emphasize is the role of the State (here I mean criminal justice system and state foster care).
Mary’s (and other girls’) destiny depended so much on those two, that it feels like the State has it’s own personality.

There is one more thing we need to discuss: the last chapter.
I tried and tried to decide whether I like how this story ended.
At fist I was shocked, but resolved that I liked it.
Now, after some thinking, I wish the story ended differently.
Why?
Because, even though I understand why the writer chose to end the story the way she did, I can’t help but feel that some messages delivered through the story were (partly) erased with that conclusion.

Fun fact: When doing my research, I found out that this book was inspired by true event that happened in 2012, when 10 years old girl was charged with manslaughter of a three month old baby.

Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: January 31st, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Amazon):

An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Review:

If you know me, you know Kasie West is my contemporary queen.
I simply adore her books, and I always feature them in my WoW posts, because I am always eagerly anticipating her new releases.

Since I loved every single book she wrote, I don’t think I have to underline that my expectations for By Your Side were high as Empire State Building (and yes, I am copying that group/band Fun here).

I could blame my level of expectations for the fact that this was my least favorite book written by Kasie West I read so far (I still have to read her paranormal series).
I could, but I won’t, because, truth be told, By Your Side is just a solid contemporary story that explores mental illness.
When I say solid, I mean good solid.
You see, this book is good, but it isn’t special in any way, nor will it stay with me long (I mean, it will because I know it was written by West, but if it was written by some author I read for the first time, it’d probably end up in my “to-be-donated pile).

The story talks about Autumn who finds herself locked in a library for the whole weekend.
What would be a terrible experience turns out to be a bit easier event because she was not alone. Dax, a mysterious guy who goes to school with her, is there with her.
As they spend time together, they get to know each other better and become closer.

First of all, we bookworms would be happy as hell if we got to spend weekend locked in library (okay, maybe we wouldn’t be THAT happy, but still we wouldn’t mind because we love books).
Here, there is a totally different story, because Autumn is not a reader, so in my opinion, those two could have ended up being locked in the wood storage or steal depository, the story would be the same.

Second, what kind of library doesn’t have a landline??

Third, I don’t mind love triangles, but please, if you decide to put one of guys into coma and make him a part of love triangle, please give me a chance to meet him and potentially fall in love with him before you doom his destiny.
Therefore, I would prefer if this book had two more chapters in which we’d get to know Autumn, Jeff and their friends before the whole library thing.

The best part of this novel is West’s writing style. She is always amazing when telling the story, and this one was no exception.

I also liked was how anxiety was presented in this novel. From my own experience, it was believable.
Then again, I saw some reviewers saying it wasn’t presented properly, so I guess it depends on one’s experience and own observing.
I guess everyone handles anxiety in his own way, so interpretations can be different.

What turned me off from the story was how most of the characters were selfish and self-centered.
From Autumn’s friends who didn’t even notice her missing, to Autumn herself.
I get that she was anxious, but she was also selfish.
Jeff’s best friend (whose name I forgot) was also jealous for no reason other but because he was self centred.

All in all, By Your Side is a good book to pick up when you need a light read that will entertain you, but don’t expect too much from it.

Sunday Post (Weekly Wrap Up March 6th – 12th)

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

This meme was created for bloggers to spotlight posts they published in the week, as well as to talk about what they plan to write in the week that’s coming.

Sunday post is also great opportunity to showcase books we got in the week behind us.

Hi Guys!

I know I am a bit late with my Sunday Post, but since I didn’t schedule one, and I was at my sister today (we just came back few minutes ago), I realized now it’s the perfect time to write and post one.

Believe it or not, this week I haven’t read a book. I read, but almost nothing. I guess I’m in a reading slump.

What I did this week was cleaning my house and reorganizing my book shelves.
When I was done, I decided to get rid of 43 books.
I found the new owners for more then a half of them, but there are still 16 books that need a new owner.

 

Last week on Book Dust Magic:

Monday: I reviewed The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty 

Tuesday: I posted my February Wrap Up 

Wednesday: I reviewed Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Saturday: I reviewed Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

 

Next week on Book Dust Magic:

Upcoming reviews:

  

Book Haul:

For review:

 Lovely people from Simon & Schuster sent me this beautiful hardback edition of Orange Blossom Days. I will definitely read this one next.

 I was so happy when I got approved for eARC of this novel on Edelweiss.

 I couldn’t wait so I started Things That Happened Before the Earthquake yesterday. So far it’s good, but I’m only 15% in.

 

That is it!
Let me know what’s been going on with you, what you’ve been reading or watching this week and feel free to leave your links so I can visit you.
Have a lovely Sunday!

Book Review: Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

cruel-beautiful-world

Title: Cruel Beautiful World
Author: Caroline Leavitt
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Date: October 4th, 2016
Pages: 357
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Set in the early 1970s against the specter of the Manson girls, when the peace and love movement begins to turn ugly, this is the story of a runaway teenager’s disappearance and her sister’s quest to discover the truth.

Caroline Leavitt is at her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.

It’s 1969, and sixteen-year-old Lucy is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default caretaker for most of their lives, Charlotte’s youth has been marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into nightmare.

With gorgeous prose and indelible characters, Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, and what happens when you’re responsible for things you can’t fix.

vrpca

Review:

Cruel Beautiful World hit me in a way only few books can.
The story, even though is fictional, became personal to me.
Reading this book, written in the most beautiful way, became hard for me.
I already know that writing this review will be even harder.

Cruel Beautiful World talks about three sisters, Lucy and Charlotte, adopted by their aunt much older sister Iris.
Set in late 1960s and early 1970s, the story briefly talks about Mason girls and perfectly describes the atmosphere and fear that was present in that time.

Lucy is 16 years old girl who falls in love for the first time. She thinks no one understands her completely, no one but the man she loves – William, her teacher who encourages her to write, because he believes she could be a famous writer one day.

After some time, William gets a new job, in free school, and Lucy decides to move away with him.
Because she is a minor, she must not tell anyone, not even her sister, where the two of them will be going.
When they settle down in a small house in rural Pennsylvania, William controls Lucy’s every move and, because she is often alone in the house (waiting for him to come back) she realizes that the kind of life she chose for herself is not the kind she wants.

Charlotte is Lucy’s older sister, who has always been her protector. She is in college, an excellent student, but after Lucy starts missing, she can’t concentrate on anything. Her soul can’t have rest until she finds her.

Iris thought she would never be a mother, but once the girls come into her life they become her world.
She never told them she is their sister, they think they are her nieces.
After Lucy’s disapearance, Iris can’t have piece. She lives for the day she’ll reunite with Lucy.

Cruel Beautiful World is beautifully written story. Caroline Leavitt really captured the 1970s atmosphere well, but where she did the best job was in describing feelings.

While reading this book, one can not help but feel. Feel love, feel fear, feel sadness, feel anger, and feel the feelings that are hard to explain with words.

Lucy was my favorite character. In fact, she got so under my skin, that she became one of my all time favorite characters.
Maybe that is why I was so concerned about her.

I hated William. I still hate him. There are a lot of personal reasons why I hate him, but it is what it is.
I rarely hate book characters, I even often like villains, but I hate William passionately.

Cruel Beautiful World is beautiful, emotional book with an open ending, that I would highly recommend to literary fiction lovers out there.

4

Book Review: Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Title: Annabel Lee
Series: Coffey & Hill (#1)
Author: Mike Nappa
Publisher: Revell
Date: March 1st, 2016
Pages: 363
Format: Paperback
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): On a farm fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden–a secret named Annabel Lee. Her uncle’s last words before he hid her away: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Review:

Annabel Lee was somewhat interesting read.
It’s a suspense thriller, and I naively fooled myself into thinking I’d read horror (don’t even ask me how I managed to do it, I’ll just blame the cover) so my whole reading experience was similar to the one one would have if he turned on TV thinking he would watch House at the End of the Street, but ended up watching an episode of CSI Miami instead.

However, I enjoyed reading this book.

The story follows three perspectives: Trudy’s, Mute’s and Annabel Lee’s.
Two of them are told in third person (Trudi’s and Mute’s), while Annabel’s was written in first person (later in the story we find out that her perspective are actually pages from her diary).

The story talks about 11 years old girl, Annabel Lee, who’s uncle locked her in the basement (with his dog whom Annabel is afraid of) and gave her an order not to open the door to anyone, not even to him, without a secret code.

We don’t know why Annabel’s uncle Truck did what he did, nor was it done with an aim to protect Annabel, or protect someone else from Annabel.
We get an impression that Annabel is important, even special in a way, but we don’t know why.

Right after her put her in the basement, Annabel’s uncle was killed and Mute witnessed the murder.
Now, Mute’s mission is to keep the girl safe, before bad guys take her. In order to save her, Mute has to get her out of the basement, but he has no secret code.

That is where spouses from Coffey & Hill come in (Trudi and her ex husband Samuel). Samuel got the secret code from Truck years ago, and now all three of them work together to save Annabel.

Nappa’s writing style is solid and although this book reads quickly, the pacing is very slow, with lots of descriptions.

I enjoyed reading all of the perspectives, but Annabel’s POV was my favorite.
She is really smart, educated and patient little girl who gets under reader’s skin so easily.
Regardless, I have to state that I didn’t like how she often sounded like a 30 years old women, instead of like 11 years old girl that she is.

Mute was my best-loved character in this story.

What I liked the most was the relationship between the girl and her uncle’s dog.
It’s development was described so well, and I welcomed how at the very beginning anytime Annabel talks about the dog she calls him “it”, and along as the story progesses, “it” becomes “he”.

When it comes to the bad guy who wanted to take Annabel, his idea was mean, but yet genius at the same time.
I don’t want to sound weird here, but I kind of admired his purpose.

One thing that needs to be stressed is that Annabel Lee is piece of Christian fiction.
To be honest, I am not sure why is that, because I didn’t feel like anything religious was forced in this story (or maybe I am just blind to those kind of things).
One thing that I noticed was that in the basement, among so many books, there was also a Bible.
And once, closer to the end of the novel, Annabel said something about Jesus and his purpose.
It was only one sentence and it felt more like a general thought.

This is the first book in the series, but the story it covered is completed.
In the next book, The Raven, we follow Trudi and Samuel solving another case.
I already have the book in my possession, and I plan to read it pretty soon, while the characters are still fresh in my mind.