Nora and Kettle crop

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

My dreams are wishes. My nightmares are truths.

This book contains two strong protagonists and well-developed supporting characters who dance together across the pages. Brilliantly executed this story looks at the heartbreaking horror of domestic abuse behind a façade of respectability, the appalling conditions Japanese American citizens were subjected to after Pearl Harbour and different takes on what construes as a family.

The night air closes in like the wings of a crow, folding over, protecting and gifting me something I lack.

Much of the hype around this book focuses it being a retelling of Peter Pan but this is not exactly accurate. Although there are some parallels to J. M. Barrie’s story, Nora & Kettle is far more than a retelling. While I have always loved the story of Peter Pan, it is a relief to see it used only as inspiration. I have not found a retelling that doesn’t focus on the immortality before and this makes a great change.

He casts no shadow. He swallowed the unwilling likeness years ago, and now it coats every organ in his body with blackness.

What I took away from this book are the extremes of tolerance and respect.

Spoiler Alert!

Tolerance in Kettle’s life is non-existent, he is subjected to suspicion and violence because of his ethnic heritage. While in Nora’s life any tolerance is negative as all the adults who knew what was happening behind closed doors did nothing to stop it. Respect in Kettle’s life is mixed, he is not respected in public because of his ethnic background, while in private his ‘family’ show respect for each other. In Nora’s life, her father is respected for his position in society but he shows no respect for his family. The contrast is inflammatory and I wish we could say we have learnt from our mistakes in the past but the current global events   suggest that humanity does not learn.


Survive.  .  .  Happiness.  .  .  The two words are oceans apart. An impossible couple. 4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Nora & Kettle
Series: Paper Stars #1Nora and Kettle
Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Publication Date:
Publisher: Clean Teen
Source: Review copy

Purchase this book:
Book Depository

Add to your shelf:
“What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?”

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them” things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief-stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.    — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

The Stand-In

The Stand-In by Steve Bloom

Before I start on what I thought about The Stand-In let me just say for the record how great it was to have a male PVO in a YA Contemporary which is dominated by the girls.


here goes the but again… Brooks is the most infuriating, obnoxious, condescending character I have ever ‘met’. Well, I guess that’s something at least. He was very difficult to like. And complain much? That’s pretty much all he did!

The story itself plodded along in a rather dull pattern. Prom, prom, dance, prom, party. Complain, complain, complain, complain. I didn’t appreciate the crudeness that crept in every now and again. Ok given that it’s a male PVO I should have expected some crudeness, but it detracted from the story and was unnecessary.

I had such high expectations… sadly they were not met.2 Star


Recommended age: 14+

Title: The Stand-InThe Stand-In by Steve Bloom
Author: Steve Bloom
Publication Date: 1 October 2016
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Source: ARC

Purchase this book:
Book Depository
Add to your shelf:

When Brooks volunteered to be a stand-in for Burdette’s cousin who got stood up for Homecoming, it was with the noblest of intentions-helping a fellow human being, free of charge. But when he gets a tip of more than three hundred bucks, word spreads quickly and Brooks seizes the opportunity to offer his impeccable escort services to super-wealthy parents who want their daughters to experience those big social events of senior year.

Besides, Brooks could use the cash to hire a tutor to get admitted to Columbia University. So what if along the way he goes along with a few minor deceptions and cuts a few moral corners? What could be the harm?  — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Scrumptious Bookish Crafts

Recently the lovely blog Candid Cover published a post about hosting a Book Swap Party which I immediately saved under ‘one day when I can get enough bookish friends together’.  It got me thinking about what crafts we could make during the party which lead to hours online literally drooling over beautiful bookish craft possibilities.

A list of bookish crafts that I would love to make

If you’re planning a Book Swap Party, thinking of making a gift for a bookish friend or just want something fun to do during the holidays then take a visit to these brilliant crafters for the instructions to make these scrumptious bookish crafts.

Number Button 1
Leather book necklaces and key chains by Art By Wendy

Leather Book Necklaces


Number Button 2

Glass Map Necklace by Adrianne at Happy Hour Projects

Glass Map Necklace by Adrianne at Happy Hour Projects


Number Button 3

Book Page Roses by Twigg Studio

Book Page Roses


Number Button 4

Altered Book Journals by Phizzy Chick

Altered Book Journals


Number Button 5

Recycled Book Page Bird Ornament by Stephanie Lynn

Recycled Book Page Bird Ornament


Number Button 6

5 Pointed Origami Star by Homemade Gifts Made Easy

5 Pointed Origami Star


Number Button 7

Paper Garlands by Project Wedding

Paper Garlands


Number Button 8

Zipper Book Clutch by See Kate Sew

Zipper Book Clutch


Number Button 9

Bookish Jewelry Box by Sincerely Kinsey

Book Jewelry Box


Number Button 10

Rolled Paper Flower Wreath by Stephanie Lynn

Rolled Paper Flower Wreath


I haven’t made any of these yet, but I would like to get stuck right in – once I’ve made up my mind which one to start with!

Do you make bookish creations? Any advice? Which one would you start with?

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday created by The Broke and the Bookish.

The Square Root of Summer

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

My underwear is in the apple tree

This is the first sentence. I knew as soon as I read it that I was holding something special in my hands. Brilliant. Weirdly absurd. I love it.

I’m about to follow them into the kitchen, but something stops me. Like when you hear your name, and your soul snags on a nail.

But I also didn’t really understand it. I don’t do math well and wormholes are beyond me. Was it contemporary or was it fantasy? I am still confused.

The characters were the best thing, well after all the food. I haven’t felt so hungry while reading for ages. Complex and strange they fit into the story and after being scrambled together for a while they eventually fit each other.

Recommended age: 13+4 Star


Title: The Square Root of SummerThe Square Root of Summer
Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Publication Date: 5 may 2016
Publisher: Macmillian
Source: ARC

Purchase this book:
Book Depository

Add to your shelf

My heart is a kaleidoscope, and when we kiss it makes my world unravel . . .

Last summer, Gottie’s life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason left her – the boy to whom she lost her virginity (and her heart) – and he wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral! This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Former everything. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time – back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then . . .

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last.

–Abstract from

The fact that I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Book Blogger Secrets New Book

I Don’t Like Starting a New Book

So here’s the thing… I don’t like starting a new book.


Yes, it’s true.

Hold on, before you call for reinforcement, let me explain.

There’s a dark black hole between drooling over admiring the cover of a new book, re-reading the blurb *insert black hole* and getting sucked right into the story.

I dread the first chapter. I don’t know the characters yet and haven’t got a feel for the story. It’s only when I fall into the rhythm that the world is right again.

Sometimes if I’m lucky when the sun is shining in just the right way and chocolate becomes a vegetable I know just from the first line that I’m going to love the book. But like my 5-star reviews these books are very extremely rare.

Now that I think of it, this may be why I give up only a few chapters in if I don’t like the story. I used to feel so bad about this. But no more…  There are too many great books out there to waste time on those that will be a chore to finish.

Do you like starting new books? Do you know it’s going to be a good book right from the beginning?

And I Darken

And I Darken

And I Darken is a beautiful book. Historical fiction at it’s best. A book you can sink into and forget who you are and where you live. Dark at times, with a rich deeply layered plot and well-developed characters. Intrigue, espionage, treason, murder, betrayal, loyalty and lies interspersed with love and swords.

Soul food.

. . . And that is why you become a dealer of death. You feed death as many people as you can to keep it full and content so its eye stays off you. . . 

But… why is there always a but?… I don’t really understand what Lada was trying to do throughout the story…  The book implies every now and again that she wants to go home and rule, but it feels as if this is forgotten for the majority of the book while she tries to prove she is as good as any boy. Radu, on the other hand, is my favourite character in the book. Complex. He is sensitive, thoughtful and kind but also sly and cunning.

. . . Lada’s skin was too tight. There was not enough to contain everything she needed it to. It stretched and itched, phantom sensations crawling across her neck, muscles twitching in desperation. . .

I love how Kiersten White incorporates Islam in a positive way. There is far too much hate in the world and books promoting tolerance are few and far between.

Don’t miss this book, you’ll live to regret it.4 Star

Recommended age: 14+


Title: And I Darken
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: 28 June 2016
Publisher: Random House
Source: ARC
Purchase this book:
Book Depository
Add to your shelf:


And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.    — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

New releases
My Favorite New Releases So Far This Year 2016

Have I ever told you how much I love authors & publishers? A gigantic thank you to the authors & publishers who ensure bloggers have access to their books before or as they are published. Yes, they receive a public review in return, but this doesn’t always work in their favour. Book bloggers tell the truth. I promise. If we don’t no one would trust our reviews (and Cait’s dragons would devour us)

These are the new releases I think you should check out. Surprisingly there are a lot of historical fiction – a little out of my comfort zone…

I hope you discover a new book here to add to your reading list. Please let me know of any 2016 releases you recommend.


All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Adult ThrillerNew releases

I haven’t written a review for this book simply because I am still suffering from book hangover, This book is the best I have read so far this year and the talented Megan Miranda has proved that she can master the transition from YA to adult fiction.
Read this book! This is my ONLY 5-star book so far this year!

Goodreads    Book Depository

Recoil by Joanne MacgregorNew releases
YA Dystopia

Written by one of my favourite South African authors, Recoil is a new genre from her and I think it’s her best work ever. My review starts off with Recoil is an unpredictable, fast-paced, exhilarating ride… read more here

Goodreads   Book Depository


The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue HitchcockNew releases
YA Historical Fiction

Unique and so readable. I loved this Alaskan story which in my review I called a beautifully written, enchanting novel that brings a breath of fresh air into the world of YA… read more here.

Goodreads     Book Depository


The Unexpected Everything by Morgan MatsonNew releases
YA Contemporary

I just finished this book a couple of days ago. It’s just what you’d expect from Morgan Matson – fun & relatable – the perfect beach read. A book you’ll fly through while wishing it would never end.

Goodreads  Book Depository


Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle TaylorNew releases
YA Historical Fiction

Loosely based on Peter Pan, this book is a heartbreaking story of love, friendship, strength and survival. Bringing to light the racial prejudice Japanese Americans were subjected to after Pearl Harbour and encouraging tolerance. This book should be in all school libraries.

Goodreads  Book Depository


The Summer Before the War by Helen SimonsonNew releases
Adult Historical Fiction

Reading this heartening, character driven story felt like I was gliding gently, almost dreamily through the pages before jerking to a halt with the intrusion of the cruelty and brutality of the First World War.

Goodreads   Book Depository


And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteNew releases
YA Historical Fiction

I initially chose And I Darken for its stunning cover and soon found out that it is much more. A deeply-layered, well-researched story set in the 15th century Ottman Empire and filled to the brim with treason, betrayal, murder, love, intrigue, jealousy and deceit. This book is good enough to eat!

Goodreads   Book Depository


The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter HapgoodNew releases
YA Contemporary

The Square Root of Summer is a weirdly absurd story and I think that’s why I liked it so much. Grief affects us all differently and this book got right in under my skin and took hold, even though the math was a beyond me!

Goodreads   Book Depository


Alice and the Fly by James RiceNew releases
YA Contemporary

This début is a mixture of Eleanor and Park and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Like The Curious Incident, the narrator is unreliable the real story is revealed slowly with unexpected twists. I felt like I was slightly detached from the story (but curiously in a good way), like watching a movie without sound.

Goodreads   Book Depository


Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyNew releases
Adult Historical Fiction

I received a physical copy of this book from the author late last year in response to a post describing upcoming new releases. My review describes her soft, subtle, understated way of storytelling which spins a comforting and nostalgic cloak around the reader. But don’t be fooled into thinking this book doesn’t pack a punch, the tranquility only emphasises the enormity the impact of war has on humanity. Read more here.

Goodreads   Book Depository


Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday created by The Broke and the Bookish.

2nd half 2016

Looking Forward To. . .

The Other Half of 2016

The last half of 2016 promises lots of stunning books. These are on my list and I can’t wait to get my hands on them!


This Adventure Ends by Emma MillsThis Adventure Ends

Add to Goodreads: This Adventure Ends
Preorder from Amazon: 
This Adventure Ends

To be published: 4 October 2016

I’m going to read this just because I love the cover, but it sounds pretty good too.

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

When a beloved painting goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.


The Pain Eater by Beth GoobieThe Pain Eater

Add to Goodreads: The Pain Eater

To be published: 13 September 2016

I have heard a lot of buzz about this book with the fantastic title and I can’t wait to read it.

She hadn’t told anyone. Not a single soul. Not one word about that night and what had been done to her had ever passed Maddy Malone’s lips. She’d thought about it at first – had been desperate, even frantic, to tell. But then had come the shame, and the intimidation from the boys who raped her – and the one who held her down.


The Lost & Found by Katrina LenoThe Lost & Found

Add to Goodreads: The Lost & Found
Preorder from Amazon:The Lost & Found

To be published: 5 July 2016

This book is surrounded by hype already and those who have been lucky enough to score an ARC have rated it highly.

Frannie and Louis met in an online support group when they were both younger. They have never met face-to-face. They don’t even know each other’s real names. All they know is that they both have a mysterious tendency to lose things. Well, not lose them, exactly. Things just seem to…disappear.


Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju LeeEvery Falling Star

Add to Goodreads: Every Falling Star
Preorder from Amazon: 
Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea

To be published: 13 September 2016

I have never read anything about North Korea and am looking forward to this highly anticipated memoir.

An intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. 


This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston This is Our Story

Add to Goodreads: This Is Our Story
Preorder from Amazon: This is Our Story

To be published: 15 November 2016

This sounds like a really good thriller. Possibly along the lines of The Secret History by Donna Tartt…

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.


Three Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeThree Dark Crowns

Add to Goodreads: Three Dark Crowns
Preorder from Amazon: Three Dark Crowns

To be published: 20 September 2016

Dark, mysterious and poison is enough for me to be first in the queue. The sisters out to kill each other is a bonus!

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.   


If I Fix You by Abigail JohnsonIf I Fix You

Add to Goodreads: If I Fix You
Preorder from Amazon: If I Fix You

To be published: 25 October 2016

Contemporary romance is always a favourite and just look at the beautiful cover!

When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out—with a sticky note as a goodbye—only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself. With nothing making sense, Jill tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But when a new guy moves in next door, intense, seriously cute, but with scars—on the inside and out—that he thinks don’t show, Jill finds herself trying to make things better for Daniel. 

The Row by J.R. JohanssonThe Row

Add to Goodreads: The Row 
Preorder from Amazon: The Row

To be published: 11 October 2016

Talk about having the rug pulled from under your feet. I just have to know what happens in the book!

A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth.

Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent. Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father confesses ….

The Stand-In by Steve BloomThe Stand-In

Add to Goodreads: The Stand-In
Preorder from Amazon: The Stand-In

To be published: 1 October 2016

A fun, easy read perfect for October in the Southern Hemisphere when Summer has arrived and most of us will be needing a break from studying! Plus it’s always a welcome change to have a male POV in YA contemporary.

When Brooks volunteered to be a stand-in for Burdette’s cousin who got stood up for Homecoming, it was with the noblest of intentions—helping a fellow human being, free of charge. But when he gets a tip of more than three hundred bucks, word spreads quickly and Brooks seizes the opportunity to offer his impeccable escort services to super-wealthy parents who want their daughters to experience those big social events of senior year.


The Smaller Evil by Stephanie KuehnThe Smaller Evil

Add to Goodreads: The Smaller Evil
Preorder from Amazon: The Smaller Evil

To be published: 2 August 2016

I’m on the fence with this one, I think it’s going to be either very good to terrible. We’ll have to see…

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to “evolve,” as Beau, the retreat leader, says. Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? 

And then, in an instant Arman can’t believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

All Abstracts from

Top Ten Tuesday reduced

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Red_Queen crop

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I bought a copy of this book on a recent visit to Singapore. I don’t usually spend much time in Orchard Road (expensive) but I was geocaching in the area and couldn’t resist a peek into the Kinokuniya bookstore. This branch  is enormous and I spent many hours happily lost in a world of books.

Anyone can betray anyone.

The Red Queen has had a mixture of reviews on Goodreads, so I was not sure what to expect. It was good with a solid story line but predictable and the (many) loose ends frustrated me – clearly I need to read the next book in the series.

But she was a foolish girl, and now I pay the price.

I didn’t feel the romance was genuine (insert sad emoticon) and there were several things about the story that didn’t quite add up…

We will rise, Red as the dawn.

These are the questions I am still trying to work out…

Spoiler Alert!

Why did Mare not change out of her ‘princess’ clothes when Cal took her back to visit her family, surely she would stick out like a beacon? Why was Mare continually patronising  Kilorn? She was always trying to protect him to the extent she treated him like a child. Why the name Mare? It reminds me of a horse…

3 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: Red Queen
Series: Red Queen #1Red Queen @crushingcinders
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publication Date:
10 February 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased

Purchase this book:
Book Depository

Add to your shelf:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

Red QueenThe Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.    — Abstract from

The Broken One

The Broken One

I actually enjoyed reading this book despite two distinct frustrating variables…

Firstly,  Farris (yes that’s actually her name… I thought maybe it had some significance but none I could find) was very infuriating. Depression I understand, but honestly she had an irritating way of running away from people close to her. I didn’t like her character and didn’t feel her friendships and relationships were genuine.

The second frustration… A very weak ending left me with the feeling that I was missing the point. Was there something I missed? The whole story was leading to something, but then just like that wham! The End. A few loose ends were tied up but no real closure. I needed more answers, a more profound revelation or …?

Lucy and Henry were the best part of the story, both loveable characters who gave the book a welcome, positive, hopeful edge.

So why did I enjoy reading The Broken One?  I think it was Ms. Bailey’s the easy, flowing writing style, I thin3 Stark I need to read something else of hers. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Recommended age: 13+

Title: The Broken OneBroken One
Author: Christine H. Bailey
Publication Date: 30 April  2016
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Source: Review copy

Purchase this book:

Add to your shelf:

Sixteen-year-old Farris is picking up the pieces after the untimely death of her best friend. But even one year later, she can’t seem to find “normal” again—not until Lane Evans pops back into her life and pushes her to face reality. When he offers her the chance to find the truth, Farris fears what will surface. Is it too much too soon or just what she needs to move forward?  — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher does not influence my policy to write an honest review.