NOTORIOUS MINDS BOXSET BLOG TOUR- Q&A with Adam Alexander

I’m super excited to be part of the Notorious Minds blog tour this week! Today’s post is a Q&A with Adam Alexander, author of Masters of the City, in which he shares some of his best tips and some fun facts about his own writing. Hope you enjoy!

HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER? I think I’ve always been a writer, but I spent a long time listening to the wrong voices, and not believing enough in myself. If I’d listened to my own inner voice instead of the people in my life who told me I couldn’t, or I shouldn’t, I would have published my first book years before I did. What made me finally finish my first novel wasn’t a change in my abilities, or some magical formula that I suddenly discovered. I simply found someone who believed in me more than I did, and I started listening to that voice. Once I finished my first novel, writing the next one became easier and easier.

YOUR JOURNEY TO FINISHING THAT FIRST NOVEL. There are about a dozen half-finished and abandoned attempts at writing books on my computer hard drives, and even one written on paper before I even had my first computer. That’s going back a long time. What finally made me start and finish my first novel was a dream, oddly enough. I had a dream of a girl in a forest in the darkness, burying something. I woke up and this dream was still vividly implanted in my mind, and I figured it would make a great opening scene for a book. A girl is burying something in the forest because she has to hide it. But what’s she burying and who wants it so badly? Then I came up with the idea for Lost Soul: Immortality. She’s burying her soul because she can’t let the evil wizards get it, because she has this gift that only comes around once every thousand years, and if they get it, it will give them immortality. But if you’re an aspiring writer, you’re well aware that having an idea is not the same thing as writing a book. The writing part takes hard work. Lots of it. Up until that point, I’d never shared my writing or my ideas with anyone because I was afraid of the reaction. Would people like it? Would they hate it? What if they did hate it? They’d think I was dumb. I only had that state of mind because of people in my life up until that point who had done exactly that. Anyway, heart in my mouth I shared the idea with my wife and she loved the idea, and demanded the first chapter. And so began my journey to the end of my first novel. I’d write a chapter, give it to my wife to read, and she’d love it and ask for the next one. At that point in my life writing was a dream. I remember clearly sitting in my study writing those last words, throwing my hands up in the air with a sense of triumph having done something that I’d literally waited half my life to do.

DETAILED ADVICE FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS. Start early and don’t give up. If you believe you’re good enough, and if you have a story you want to tell, write it and don’t look back. If you feel like your writing sucks, get better. Get into a habit of writing, whether it be a target number of words every day, or every week – set a goal for yourself and break it down to a daily goal and write. Join author groups online an get involved in a writing community. Contrary to what you might think, communities of authors are amazing places to find help and encouragement.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE NOVEL IN THIS BOXSET? In the Notorious Minds Boxset, you’re getting Episode 2 in the Matt Porter Series. I created Matt Porter because I had always wanted to write a thriller, in the genre of the Bourne Identity, where the hero is out there on his own, and all the odds are stacked against him.
Episode 1, Slave to the City, introduces you to Matt Porter, a cop in a big city doing his best to bring in the bad guys, but his only weakness is his constant downfall. As long as he stays away from women, he’s fine. But every time he gets involved, things don’t end well. I won’t spoil Slave to the City by telling you too much here, but what you get from the blurb of the book is that Matt Porter steps in to help Grace when he sees her in the diner surrounded by the guys in dark suits, and from everything falls apart for him. He crosses so many lines and ends up on the wrong side of the law with people trying to kill him, the police after him, and he has to figure out why fast before he ends up dead.

Matt Porter returns in Masters of the City for an even more nail biting adventure. The opening scene sees him positioned on the roof, aiming his rifle and he’s about to pull the trigger. He’s supposed to be one of the good guys – how the hell did he end up here? I wanted to put Matt Porter in an even more impossible situation in the sequel to Slave to the City, and the opening scene does just that. Matt Porter takes on a new client, but things fall apart again right from the start, and it all goes back to his golden rule. Rule #2 – all women are trouble. No exception. I think the very character of Porter lends itself to the situations he finds himself in. He’ll never walk away from a woman in trouble, yet stepping in to help always gets in in trouble.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR? I started writing a book about a homeless guy who gets hit by a car late one night and ends up in hospital, and the book was going to be about how the guy ends up winning Wimbledon. That was the idea anyway. I think I was about eighteen, and that’s when I got the writing bug. I won the Editor’s Prize for English at school, and I figured I had some writing talent and I saw myself penning this amazing novel, getting published and making millions. It didn’t pan out that way. I soon realized that having a beginning and an ending for a story is not the same as writing a novel. The bits in between are what make a good story.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK? It takes me anything from 6 to 9 weeks to write a book. I used to write whenever, and finish a book when I felt like it with no deadline. When that was my approach, I finished one book a year, maybe. Then I set myself an impossible target to finish a book in 90 days. I made it with 4 days to spare. Now I try to bring that down by writing a little more each day. I wrote my latest book in six weeks.

WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE WHEN YOU’RE WRITING? I’m not a full-time writer. I run a growing IT business so my days are pretty busy, and my mind is usually preoccupied with work when I get home in the evenings, so I can’t just switch off from work and flip over to writing. I do a lot of my writing on weekends. First thing in the mornings is best for me. A good start to my writing sets a good pace for the rest of the day. If I procrastinate and let fear of the blank page get inside my head, my day’s
writing is doomed.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INFORMATION OR IDEAS FOR YOUR BOOKS? Right now I’ve written two series and three standalones. That gives me established characters to work with, and worlds I’ve created to explore. It makes it easier to find new ideas for books. For example, I wrote Garage Band as a standalone, and I got the idea for that one when I went shopping one Saturday morning in Sandton City. My wife commented on how ridiculous it was that we like to drive our fancy expensive cars, and looking around the parking garage I said that the cars in the parking garage must be worth more than the building. Then as a joke, I said that if you wanted to do some damage, you didn’t have to blow up a whole building, just blow up the cars in the garage. That got me thinking, and I started developing the plot for Garage Band. You take a complete anti-hero, the kind of guy you want to smack upside the head and say, “get a life!” and you make him the hero of the story, give him a reason to want to blow up all the cars in Sandton City, and so began the best comedy thriller I’ve ever written. That gave rise to the sequel (the book I wrote in my first 90 day challenge). And the world I created gave rise to a prequel based on one of the characters that I mentioned in a one-liner in Garage Band, and now I’m writing another prequel based on one of the other supporting characters in Garage Band. If you let your imagination flow, there’s no shortage ideas. Just don’t make the mistake of sitting with a blank page in front of you stressing that you’re not coming up with ideas. You don’t find them that way.

WHEN DID YOU WRITE YOUR FIRST BOOK AND HOW OLD WERE YOU? I wrote Lost soul: Immortality in 2013. I was 42 when I finished my first novel.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT WRITING? I think about writing.

WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY THINK OF YOUR WRITING? My wife is my biggest fan. She reads all my books first, and she was in the inspiration behind getting my first book on paper and making me finish the book. Family have to love your books, that’s their job. The real test is putting your books in the hands of total strangers.

HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN? WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE? I’ve written 9 fiction and 1 non-fiction books. My favourite is probably Garage Band – it was a comical thriller, and I had great fun creating some of those moments. My wife’s favourite is Lips of an Angel, without a doubt. I can tell by the amount of time it takes her to read the manuscript. Normally it can take three to four weeks for her to read one of my books. She’s always up before anyone else in the house, and she reads in the early mornings while she creates amazing pictures with her canvasses and brushes. I used to hear her laugh out loud with Garage Band, and I really enjoyed that. But when I wrote Lips of an Angel, she devoured it in three days, and she literally couldn’t speak when she finished it.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS TO HELP ME BECOME A BETTER WRITER? Write lots, and write often. You get better the more you write. Read lots too. Find a great team of editors. Editors are gold. Join writing groups and mix with writers you aspire to be.

DO YOU HEAR FROM YOUR READERS MUCH? WHAT DO THEY SAY? I get to hear from my readers in the reviews they write. Obviously I have a close circle of friends who interact with me more than my regular readers. The best comment I ever had was from a friend who was beta-listening to the Garage Band audio book. He was supposed to be driving to a meeting and became so wrapped up in the story that his mind went into autopilot and he ended up driving home and totally missed his meeting.

DO YOU LIKE TO CREATE BOOKS FOR ADULTS? All my books are for adults, but not the naughty kind.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GOOD STORY? Characters with depth and a well-crafted plot.

If you’re interested in the Notorious Minds Boxset, here’s a little more information about it from the publisher, Fire Quill Publishers:

What does it take to commit the perfect crime?

Delve into these dark and twisted tales by twenty USA Today and International Bestselling Authors. No matter what kind of crime story typically catches your imagination, there’s sure to be something for everyone. 

Conspiracies, political plots, and yes, even murder, are just a few of the crimes waiting inside this box set. Discover a narcissistic grandmother running an underground syndicate, or a support group bent on murder…and even a serial killer who turns his victims into fairytale creatures. 

Prepare to delve into an elite killing team who made a mistake, an oil rig filled with secrets ready to explode, and a reporter uncovering a treasonous plot.

Uncover how fatal passion, jealousy, and fear can be to a group of royal marines and learn from a detective who is far from home fighting demons from his past in order to stay alive.

Can you figure out how the police solve a killer’s confession to nine murders that haven’t happened yet? or how a girl that got a heart transplant became the FBI’s number one ally in solving crimes?

This box set is packed with thousands of pages that will hold you on the edge of your seat, crying for answers. Definitely a must for fans of Patterson, Lee, and Grisham. One-click it today!

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE……

Pre order now and you will receive our amazing pre-order gift – products are digital and printing is at reader’s cost.

You can claim this price here: https://www.subscribepage.com/notoriousmindspreordergiveaway

If you’d like to purchase the Notorious Minds Boxset, you can get it here.

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940163815098

Itunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1502417965

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/za/en/ebook/notorious-minds-boxset-mystery-thriller-crime

BOOK REVIEW: THE KINGDOM OF BACK by Marie Lu

I think, if you’ve ever 1) seen my twitter, 2) met me or 3) read any of my old blog posts, you know that 99% of what I talk about is Marie Lu books and why you should read them. Warcross is my favourite book in the entire world (please read it and talk to me about it!!), and the Legend series is just as impressive. I have never read anything by Marie Lu that I didn’t love and I own every single book she’s ever published so- I’m kind of a major fangirl.

That being said, I was very excited about The Kingdom of Back. I grew up playing piano and this book is about Nannerl Mozart so that was a major plus. Then there’s the fact that it’s a historical fantasy (featuring all manner of beautiful and magical things), and the cover is absolutely stunning.

So I read the entire book today, and I’m now going to review it. This will definitely be biased, but I can assure you that this book deserves all. the. hype. Anyway-

The Kingdom of Back is the untold story of Nannerl Mozart, with a fantastical twist. We begin by learning that Nannerl is a young musical prodigy, playing instruments from a young age and talented enough to wow all of Austria. She’s an ambitious and highly talented child, with dreams of being remembered for her talents and her music. It isn’t until her younger brother, Woferl, reveals his musical talent that she even gets noticed, however. And very quickly, Nannerl gets overshadowed by her younger brother’s extraordinary musical ability.

When a magical boy named Hyacinth appears first in her dreams, and then in her home, with an offer to make her legacy immortal, she is swiftly drawn into the beautiful and backward, magical world of Back. The place seems familiar in a fairytale kind of way, and she’s drawn in instantly by the new world’s whimsical beauty. It doesn’t take long for Nannerl to realise, however, that her dream may come at a cost, and that everything in Back may not be quite what it seems.

Nannerl, like all of Marie Lu’s protagonists, is fascinating to read about. She’s a kind, compassionate and ambitious girl who gets quickly drawn into feelings of jealousy and envy, and I was incredibly impressed by how easily I could feel her resentment and fury. I love how strong her voice remains throughout the entire novel, and how believable her emotional outbursts are. She is truly an eighteenth-century teenager with feelings and dreams that her time period simply won’t allow.

The writing in this book is absolutely stunning. The imagery drew me in within seconds, and I found myself getting sucked into the Kingdom of Back, just as Nannerl was. Similarly to Warcross, a whole world is created in this story that is so unique and unbelievable, and yet still so easy to find yourself getting lost in.

If you’re looking for a historical fiction read, this book is incredible, with just enough factual content that you can consider yourself to be learning whilst reading. And if you’re looking for a fantasy, with faeries and ogres and magical forests, this is also for you. There are so many different elements for different readers and age groups that I would recommend this book to near-enough anyone.

Basically, I love, love, love this book. It has been so long since I got so deeply absorbed in a story that I forgot my own surroundings, and I already wish that I could read this story for the first time all over again.

If you want to buy a copy, you can get it here.

Rating: 5/5

ARC REVIEW – Not Your Idol Vol 1 (Manga)

Thank you to VIZ and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC.

Not Your Idol is a manga that follows Nina Kamiyami, a former idol who gave up her life in the spotlight after being attacked by a fan. She has cut off her hair, changed her name and thrown out all of the girly fashion staples that she was so well known for. And it’s working for her. She’s finally settling in, realising that she prefers the comments about being the only girl in slacks than being everyone’s property, when everything starts to go wrong once again. There’s a sexual attacker on the loose in the area and, as well as bringing back terrible memories, he brings back the fear for her life that she was so desperate to give up.

This is a tough read in terms of content and an incredibly easy read in terms of format. It only took me a few hours to get through and I found the layout to be very clear and readable. In addition, it really helped that the artwork was so incredibly well-drawn and beautiful to look at. The hard part was dealing with the troubling content. This manga tackles issues of stalking, sexual assault and harassment, all whilst shining a spotlight on the troubling Asian pop music culture that has risen to popularity in the past few years. At the moment, there is a lot of discussion over the mistreatment of idols, and this book provides a fascinating first-person insight into the struggles that real idols are constantly going through.

I liked the characters in this book a lot. Even though she is largely absent, Kamiyami’s best friend, Sara, is a truly supportive character. When Kamiyami is going through tough times, Sara is always there to support her through it. Likewise, I was impressed by how quickly I grew attached to Hikaru’s character too, as I knew so little about him and yet still enjoyed reading the sections that he is in. Kamiyami herself is incredibly strong as a protagonist, with a personality that shines through in both the flashbacks and the present day sections.

The story was very easy to follow and it really makes an interesting change to the light-hearted, sweet manga that I’ve read in the past. It took a surprising turn at the end and I can definitely say that because of that, and the easy-to-read format and important content, I would read the second volume.

RATING: 4/5

*I’m temporarily abandoning my Amazon affiliate links due to the current global situation so, if you would like to order a copy of this book, please get it from your local bookshop*

ARC REVIEW: ANNA K. by Jenny Lee

Thank you to Penguin Books and ReadersFirst for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Anna K. has easily been one of my most-anticipated reads of 2020 for a long time. I heard so many good things about it and, honestly, the cover is to die for. I tried desperately to get my hands on a copy for so long before I finally got the chance to win one on Readers First and, after all of the effort, this book did not disappoint.

This is sold as the story of Anna K and Count Vronsky, two teenagers in present-day New York, rather than the two identically named teenagers in Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina.’ I have never read ‘Anna Karenina’ and don’t know if the reason this book managed to shock me was because of that, but it turned out to be much more of a story than I expected. It was not just about Anna and Vronsky by any stretch. This tells the story of the elite in New York, and all of the struggles they individually face.

Most of the characters’ behaviour in this book disgusted me, and I disliked all of the cheating and drug-taking, but I couldn’t seem to put it down. Jenny Lee isn’t trying to tell the story of the perfect rich kids of the present day. She’s telling the story of how messed-up they all are and, amongst all their riches, how human too. I personally didn’t find myself forgiving them for the mistakes they made, but I did find them redeeming themselves throughout the story.

The ending was absolutely heartbreaking, in a way that I was not expecting at all but, although some characters suffered terrible fates, others really saw strong personal growth and got the happy endings that could finally put them on the right path.

It’s hard to pick a favourite character, but I found that I really liked Dustin, the state school boy who tutored Anna’s brother (Steven) and Lolly, Steven’s girlfriend. Lolly was a loving girlfriend, confused and hooked by all of the drama going on around her, starting in her own relationship, and Dustin was the Gossip Girl’s Dan Humphrey, without all of the creeping and spying.

This book is a light-hearted, funny read, until it’s not. I was surprised when I found myself crying at the character’s struggles and desperately turning the pages to make sure everything turned out okay. I strongly disliked the Gossip Girl books but loved Crazy Rich Asians and, based on all of the descriptions online, this book could have been hit-or-miss for me. I’m so glad that Jenny Han’s book ended up being heartfelt, shocking and emotional, and giving what may be a slightly exaggerated but believable view of the young elite.

If you want to read this book, you can get a copy here.

RATING: 4/5

P.S. I have seen three different covers of this book (two ARCs and one final cover) and they are all so pretty, I could cry.

BOOK REVIEW: YES NO MAYBE SO by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

I’m so excited to be writing a review for the first time in a million years! I’ve read a few books lately but none have been review-able for me, so I’m so happy to now be able to spill my heart about this beautiful book.

In case you can’t tell already, I am literally in love with Yes No Maybe So. I got an ARC in January and only just got round to reading it and my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. Anyway…

Yes No Maybe So is the story of Jamie and Maya, two seventeen-year olds in the state of Georgia, campaigning for a local election in the aftermath of the election of an unlikeable Republican president (fictional, of course…).

Jamie is committed to the cause but too socially anxious to actively campaign, until he suddenly and miraculously gets partnered up to go door-to-door with Maya, the beautiful daughter of a family friend. Together, the two get progressively more invested in the political cause, and in each other, learning that their voices really can make a difference.

This book is so heartwarming and sweet that I was genuinely grinning for half of the time I was reading. Maya and Jamie are such believable, likeable characters that I could probably have read an entire book about just their everyday lives. Any drama that they went through didn’t feel like it was unnecessarily added, but like it was something that would genuinely happen to two teenagers in the present day as well, which really helped to make me forget- multiple times- that these characters weren’t real people.

A large and very important part of this book is its depiction of social issues and I thought that this difficult topic was handled well. In the cast of characters, there are various homosexual teenagers, as well as Muslim and Jewish protagonists, and the depiction of struggles that these characters face were heartbreakingly believable. I was really impressed that both the portrayal of these individuals and the issues that they face are dealt with so sensitively and carefully throughout the book, and it genuinely unnerved me how easily their struggles could be real.

It’s impossible to talk about this book without discussing its political themes and I must say that it is not, in any way, attempting to be subtle about its own agenda. This wasn’t an issue for me as I appreciated the strongly Democratic feeling throughout the story and loved its insistence on the importance of voting. I was, however, surprised by just how obvious the digs were at real Republican politicians.

Honestly, this book was just an easy and refreshing YA romance with the added bonus of a strong, important message for young, influenceable readers. I have never read a book for teenagers with such a strong message about encouraging social change and I cannot stress enough how much I wish I’d read this when I was a teenager. You definitely do not have to be fully invested in politics already to read and appreciate this story and I really think that, if you read it, you’ll find yourself wanting to learn about things you didn’t even consider before.

If you’d like to read this book (you should!), you can buy it here.

RATING: 5/5

Disclaimer: I get a small commission if you use any of my links.

My Life in Books Tag

Hi readers!

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but I haven’t posted in a really, really long time. I started a new job last week (in publishing!!! I can’t get over it) and I’ve been too busy to read more than a few pages. Because of that, I don’t have a review to post right now and I don’t know when I will but I’m working through some exciting books as we speak.

Despite the lack of reviews, though- what I definitely always have time for is an interesting book tag. And I just stumbled across the My Life in Books tag. I hope you enjoy!

Find a book for each of your initials.

(I’m relieved they didn’t say ‘for each letter of your first name’ — 9 is tough)

F – Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr

L – Lying About Last Summer by Sue Wallman

D – Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Count your age along your bookshelf – what book is it?

Sadly, my bookshelves are not where I am… Right now, I’m living off piles of books, scattered around the room. So, counting 21 through the piles, I reach…

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Pick a book set in your city/country.

Okay. I don’t know if this counts because they don’t mention my town even once in the book, and I’m sure its a fantasy world of some kind, but the town I’m from is built on Sherwood Forest, and that’s where Mist by Kathryn James takes place.

Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.

Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood is set predominantly in a stunning villa in Italy and reading it made me crave a trip there so much.

Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

My favourite colour is deep red, and the closest cover I can think of is Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Looking up ‘YA books with red covers’ brings back a lot of results, though…

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Yes, this book’s a little problematic (if you’ve read it, you get it), but I read it, got obsessed. and went to Paris the next month because I was so in love. I’ve re-read a million times and it’s always exactly what I need.

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. This book is absolutely incredible and I’m so glad I pushed through it but, wow, it took a long time for me to get to the end.

Which book on your TBR will give you the biggest feeling of accomplishment when you finish it?

IT by Stephen King! I’ve had this 1200-page monster of a book for about six years and I’ll be so happy when I’ve finally got through it.

ARC REVIEW: UNEXPECTED LESSONS IN LOVE by Lucy Dillon

Unexpected Lessons in Love is a story that should really be a romance, but isn’t. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It follows Jeannie, beginning on her extremely eventful wedding day. First, she calls off the wedding via a voicemail to her fiancé, Dan. Next, her fiancé gets hit by a bus.

This book contains an incredibly unique portrayal of love. It’s a will-she-won’t-she story about telling Dan the truth if he ever wakes up and it has you trying to determine right, wrong and the best solution throughout the entire story.

Plus, whilst all of this is happening, Jeannie finds herself getting ever closer to Rachel, Dan’s new boss, and Owen, Dan’s best friend, complicating everything just a little more.

I did enjoy this book, mostly because it so neatly wraps everything up. Everything that you think has gone wrong or could go wrong is resolved to some degree by the end, or at least solved in a way that some readers would approve of. I am sure there are mixed reactions to this book and found myself asking whether or not I liked where the story was going, a number of times.

As a character, I was surprised by how much I liked Jeannie. She was incredibly real and had thoughts that many people would be too afraid to speak themselves. I wouldn’t consider her decisions throughout the book to be wrong, but it was very easy to doubt her at numerous points throughout the novel. Lucy Dillon wrote an incredibly believable woman with a decision that would be difficult for anyone to deal with. Unfortunately, though, I was not a massive fan of Dan. Much of what we find out about him is from Jeannie recalling moments in her relationship, but I found that these painted a picture that I didn’t like. I was conflicted throughout about whether I should feel bad about my dislike of Dan due to his situation, but now definitely feel that I would have preferred a more believably likeable fiancé for Jeannie.

Overall, this book was enjoyable. There are a number of other things going on in the main character’s life, besides Dan’s situation, and I found these to be more interesting than Jeannie’s primary storyline. It did take me a while to get through, but I would consider it to be an easy, thought-provoking read. It makes a nice change from the more predictable romance storylines I’ve read recently and I am impressed by the concept.

RATING: 3.5/5

My Most Anticipated 2020 Releases

Happy New Year! I want to start by saying that I hope you all have a wonderful year and achieve everything you hope to achieve (in life, and in Goodreads’ Reading Challenge!). There’s so much I want to get done this year, and reading an obscene amount of books is a part of that.

That being said, there are so many new books coming out this year that have jumped straight to the top of my TBR. Without further ado, here are my most anticipated reads of 2020.

A Throne of Swans by Katherine and Elizabeth Korr

I was gifted a copy of this book a week ago and I’m itching to start it. With dark fantasy elements, shapeshifters, royalty and revenge, I’m certain that this is going to be incredible. It comes out really soon and I’m excited to see how everyone else enjoys it too.

Release date: 09/01/2020

You can get a copy here.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

I hadn’t heard of this book until I received it in a box from Book Box Club. Now, having looked into it a little, I’m convinced it’s going to be amazing.

This book is about cross-cultural romance and political activism, which are both incredibly important topics. This is definitely one of the books I’m most excited about this year.

Release date: 04/02/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

If you follow me on twitter, or have ever read any of my other blog posts, this probably won’t come as a surprise. Marie Lu is my favourite author of all time and I’ve wanted a copy of this book since before I even knew it existed.

This book is a historical fantasy about Mozart’s sister. When she becomes downhearted about being overshadowed by her prodigal brother, she finds herself being swept into a fantasy world of her own creation. I cannot wait to read this book. Music and fantasy are two things I’m passionate about, and Marie Lu’s writing could make this story truly incredible.

Release date: 03/03/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This book kind of goes without saying. As someone who got hooked on YA in 2014, The Hunger Games was a staple on my bookshelf. Although my obsession with the series has definitely worn off over time, I owe it to my former self to read and fall in love with this prequel.

Release date: 19/05/2020

You can get a copy here.

Again, Again by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is another author whose books I will always buy. I’ve read We Were Liars a million times and I even got to meet her at a signing a couple of years ago, which was incredible.

Her newest book is Again, Again, about a girl who saves her brother from a suicide attempt, and how she deals with the emotional trauma of this in the aftermath. I know it’s going to be emotional, potentially painful and incredibly beautiful.

Release date: 11/06/2020

You can get a copy here.

I’d love to hear what your most anticipated reads of 2020 are so let me know down below! Otherwise, I hope you have an amazing year ahead.

Disclaimer: I get a small commission if you use any of my links.

BOOK REVIEW: ESME’S WISH by Elizabeth Foster

Thank you, Odyssey Books, for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Today’s been a pretty hectic day of end-of-year preparations, but I did find time to finish Esme’s Wish at long last. I really wanted to get one final book review up before 2020 and I’m happy to say that I (only just) made it.

Esme’s Wish is a middle-grade/YA fiction book about a girl named Esme who, whilst searching for answers about her missing mother, finds herself on a quest to not only find the truth, but to also save a world that she didn’t even know existed. It’s a fascinating tale about familial love, friendship and dedication to doing what’s right.

When Esme enters the unknown world of Aeolia, she discovers a host of things that she never could have imagined- all of which she had only heard in stories and seen in paintings by her mother.

She rapidly discovers that her mother was entangled in the complicated history of this magical world and sets out to visit wherever she must go to find out what happened all those years ago and get closure about her mother’s disappearance once and for all.

This story is magical, both in its content and its storytelling. It is definitely written for a younger audience, but managed to captivate me too, with its imagery of a world that Elizabeth Foster entirely created. With sirens, magical powers and dragons, amongst the other magical features in this book, it is easy to get lost in the story and truly believe in the world of Aeolia.

I found the characters in this book to be entertaining as well. The villains did seem to lack a little depth, and some of the dangerous situations that Esme found herself in were resolved slightly too quickly for my liking, but they were still believable and scary. I enjoyed the ‘good guys’ much more. Lillian and Daniel are exactly the kind of fun sidekicks a story like this needs and I found that they really helped Esme explore her own personal struggles, as well as the struggles of Aeolia. They had believable aspirations and I was happy to see them doing what they personally needed to, as well as helping Esme along the way.

As far as the ending is concerned, I did find that it left a lot of loose ends, but I presume these will be wrapped up nicely in the sequel. The whole book’s plot was good enough for me to forgive my questions, as I found that there was a consistent sense of adventure from start to finish that kept me interested throughout.

This was a nice, easy read to finish the year with and I’m happy to have been swept into Esme’s world. I would definitely recommend this book to younger readers and lovers of middle-grade fantasy, and may just have to pick up the sequel to see what happens next.

RATING: 4/5

If you’re interested in reading Esme’s Wish, you can grab a copy here. (I get a small commission if you use my link!)

BOOK REVIEW: TWENTY-FIVE MEMORIES OF VIGGO MACDUFF by Kate Gordon

I spent a large part of December looking for a Christmas book to read and ended up stumbling across Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff by Kate Gordon. I never got around to reading it before Christmas but I did spend my entire Boxing Day devouring it!

Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff is the story of a girl torn between two identities: Constance- the girl she was whilst dating Viggo, her smart, charismatic, do-no-wrong boyfriend- and Connie- the girl she was before. It’s a story told almost entirely as reminiscences and memories, over the space of the year that Viggo and Connie were together.

The story starts on Christmas night, a few days after Viggo has broken up with Connie, for an unspecified reason. She’s sat wallowing alone until her best friend, Jed, appears, ready to hear her twenty-five memories and expel Viggo from her system at last. As we hear Connie’s memories, we begin to realise that maybe Viggo wasn’t the perfect boy Connie’s convinced he is and, as their relationship stories unravel, we discover both who Connie wants to be and just how Viggo changed her.

This book is not largely a feel-good story. Connie’s relationship stories are troubling and she spends the book heartbroken and desperate for Viggo back. But somehow, it still made for good Boxing Day reading. Despite the troubling content, it ended up being a story about finding yourself and figuring out who is truly there for you.

I really liked a number of the characters in this story. Constance was a realistic, believable girl and Jed was truly a sweetheart. It was great to read about their friendship and learn more about them, with and without Viggo.

This book was refreshingly easy compared to a lot of what I’ve read lately. It only took a few hours to get through and I still found myself becoming completely engrossed in Connie’s life. Although this book is set at Christmas time, I would recommend it to anyone at any time looking for a simple and heart-warming story.

I am glad I stumbled across this book and am sure I’ll revisit it again next Christmas. For a book that cost me £1.99 on Amazon, this was 100% worthwhile.

RATING: 4/5

If you’d like to read this book, you can buy it right here. (I get a small commission if you use my links!)