Category Archives: Reviews

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Maloy – Blog Tour 

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy is a tightly paced thriller from Penguin Viking which is out now

Set on a Christmas cruise in Central America it follows three families and their search for their missing children after a day trip goes very awry. 

At the start, the book reads as a domestic drama, with two of the families being long term friends that clearly have more than their holiday packaging as baggage. 

Clearly some inspiration has been taken from real cases, and where to place the blame when something like this happens, is explored. 

We are not limited to the points of view of a few characters but instead hear from most of them over the course of the story, including the children and a few added extra characters who I thought perhaps muddied the waters slightly and complicated an already intricate plot. I think my usual Young Adult reading material means I get much more involved in a first person or limited third person narrative and is purely a personal preference. I enjoyed hearing from the children the most and have to admit that my lack of empathy with the parents did perhaps distance me from them. 

This isn’t a classic light summer read and I can’t promise that you won’t become alarmed. I know there were a few incidences where I was more panicked than the characters. 

Definitely worth your time and I can see this being filmed or made into a tense radio play. 

Thanks to Josie at Penguin for the review copy. Opinions as ever are all mine. 

Do check out what other bloggers thought at the other stops on the tour. 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl by Dyan Sheldon – character and author interview

Synopsis 

“Face it, Zizi. You’d be lost without your make-up and your girly clothes.” 

“And you think ‘feminine’ is a dirty word. You’re the one who’s never going to change, Loretta.”

“You want to bet?”

When Loretta and her best friend Zizi make a life-changing bet, one thing’a for sure: the summer is about to be turned upside down. 

Character Interviews 

 

Before you two were friends how would you have defined feminism?

 

Loretta: I would have defined it like this: Feminism is self-defense.

 

ZiZi: You see what I mean about Loretta, right? Everything gets exaggerated! How I would’ve defined it is: Wannabe guys with a limited sense of humour and not a lot of patience.

 

Describe your style.

 

Loretta: Immune to the pressures of a fashion industry that wants you to buy something new every week so it can make more money. And immune to the pressures of a society that thinks it has the right to tell you how to dress. Utilitarian and comfortable, but with colourful socks.

 

ZiZi: Fashionable and feminine, but (now) with practical shoes. When I look in the mirror I want to smile.

 

What do you admire most about the other?

 

Loretta: ZiZi’s unique. She may look like Miss Congeniality, but she’s opinionated, stubborn and for definite has a mind of her own. And she makes me laugh.

 

ZiZi: With Loretta, what you see is pretty much what you get. And what you get’s a real friend. Plus she has a great sense of humour, and if you get a flat tyre on a lonely road, she’s the girl you want next to you.

 

What do you think would be the hardest part of being a boy?

 

Loretta: In some ways, there are as many restrictions on guys as there are on girls – they’re just different restrictions. All that competition and pressure to Be a Man. And, as ZiZi would say, you can’t even go shopping or put on your favourite dress and those outrageous earrings to cheer yourself up.  

 

ZiZi: Having to wear boring clothes. Plus having to be tough and strong when really all you want to do is going under the duvet and cry.


Author Interview 

Are you more like Loretta or ZiZi? In what ways?

 

I’m probably more like Loretta. I often have the impression when a contentious topic comes up and I clear my throat that my friends are all wishing I wouldn’t say anything.

 

Describe your writing style.

 

That’s a question I’ve never been asked before. But, judging from editor and copy-editor comments I’ve had over the years, I’d say it’s idiosyncratic.

 

How many ways of being a girl do you have?

 

I don’t do the stilettos or the makeup, but otherwise I think I cover the range. I own both a food processor and a drill.


What I thought? 

This was such a fun read and I loved the characters of Loretta and Zizi and especially their friendship.

I found this a really accessible way to look at gender and feminist issues through the set up of a bet. 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl takes a slightly lighter hearted view of similar themes to that in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series and is perfect for the 13+ age group it’s aimed at. Relationships with boys feature, and believe me I shared Loretta’s annoyance when her relationship with her colleagues changed. 

MTOWTBAG is out now. 

I also had fun recreating the cover for #bookstagram, and below is a picture of me after checking my tyre pressures. Let’s just hope I never manage to put oil in the brake fluid ever again?! *disclaimer – this happened a long time ago. 


Huge thanks to Dyan for answering the questions and channelling Loretta and Zizi again and to Kirsten Cozens at Walker Books for the review copy. Opinions on the book are as ever are entirely mine. 

The Salvation Project (The Soterion Mission series) by Stewart Ross – Blog Tour 


Back on release day I shared the synopsis of The Salvation Project here

About the Author


Stewart was born in Buckinghamshire and educated in Oxford, Berkhamsted, Exeter, Bristol, and Orlando, Florida. He taught at a variety of institutions in Sri Lanka, the Middle East, the USA, and Britain before becoming a full-time writer in 1989.

 

With over 300 published titles to his credit, he is now one of Britain’s most popular and versatile authors. His output includes prize-winning books for younger readers, novels, plays, three librettos, a musical, and many widely acclaimed works on history and sport. Several of his books are illustrated with his own photographs.

 

Stewart also lectures in France and the UK, gives talks, runs workshops, and visits schools. He is an occasional journalist and broadcaster. His brother, Charlie Ross, is the celebrated auctioneer.

 

In his spare time Stewart enjoys travel, restaurants, sport, theatre, photography, art and music. He lives near Canterbury with his wife Lucy, and – occasionally – his four children and two grandchildren. Each morning he commutes 10 metres to work in a large hut in the garden.

 

Website: http://www.stewartross.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Booksmyth

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Soterion-Mission-194311443946577/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jstewartross


What I Thought 

Book 1- The Soterion Mission 

This is a high concept series whose central concept had me spooked. What if there was a virus that mutated DNA. So you cure the symptoms, think everything is okay and then suddenly human kind changes – they don’t survive beyond 19 years and age rapidly in their ‘Death Month’. 
When reading the first book in the series which jumps around 120 years into the future I thought it read like a cross between Lord of the Flies, Mad Max and The Walking Dead (minus zombies). Think the Saviours versus Rick’s gang. 
The Soterion of the title is a legendary store of knowledge. Books of the Long Dead. Roxanne is the only literate character having been taught to read through the three books that survive in her community – Peter Pan, a short biography of Cleopatra and The IKEA catalogue 😂😂😂. She joins up with Cyrus to find the Soterion and together they battle solar electricity worshipping Gova and blood thirsty Zeds.
There are lots of new terms introduced in the book and I felt a Glossary would have been helpful. And lo and behold or appears in the back of the second and third books. The use of some modern day vernacular such as cronies and bloke sounded strange in this new world. 
I enjoyed the theme of exploring how we pass down history and knowledge and guide the next generation. 
The book’s point of view is from an unnamed Omniscient narrator and I did find this a bit jarring because we jumped into so many characters minds. I’m less used to this POV nowadays and it was less noticeable in the second book. 
Those readers who don’t like Instalove will be less enamoured with the romance aspect of the book. But I guess if you only survive to 19 you need to get in there quick. 
It was interesting to read that this was initially published as a serial and I could see remnants of this in the way scenes ended with hooks. Although at times these meant that the reader was given an indication of what was to come perhaps a little earlier than I’d have liked. 
If you like your dystopias fast paced and gory then you will enjoy the action scenes in this. Personally I felt the action was stronger than the dialogue and I could really see this as a graphic novel. 



Book 2 – Revenge of the Zeds 


Despite the two lead females in the first book women had a much more basic role in the first book. Mainly as breeders of the species. 
Therefore I enjoyed the second book much more because we are introduced to a female led gang of Zed Warriors called the Kogon. There’s also a bit of diverse representation here with their leader Xsani both a lesbian and presented with a lisp. No impediment to her rise to power. The uneasy alliance between her and a character called Sakamir was fun to read.

The Soterion has been found in this book and that allows the theme of what books are for to come through. There were two quotes in particular that I highlighted. 
‘All that reading’s not good for you. It gets you thinking too much, and that’s not healthy.’
‘Did books reflect the real world, like an image in a mirror? Or was the world around him a reflection of the ideas in books.’
The other themes that get a lot more exploration is the concept of ageing and death with conflicting opinions on whether The Salvation Project to find a cure to the mutation should be enacted. 


Book 3 – The Salvation Project 

Our reliance on technology in the present comes to the fore in this book where key to The Salvation Project lies in a laptop. With flat batteries, and no ready source of electricity – dare they head back to face the Gova. Is growing old worth it? 
Check out the other stops on the blog tour to see how the series concludes. And head over to Goodreads to enter the giveaway – closes today. 

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