Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blog Tour: The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

ARC clearly defined in accordance with policy here


Today, I'm hosting the final stop on the blog tour for The Upstairs Room, by Kate Murray-Browne. The cover of this caught my eye on Netgalley instantly, and I was thrilled when the publishers got in touch to see if I'd like to take part in the blog tour. Thanks to Don and Picador!


Eleanor and Richard have bought the house of their dreams - a Victorian townhouse in London. They rent the basement out to Zoe, a twenty-something year old receptionist at the development firm where Richard works. As Richard becomes slightly obsessed with keeping tabs on Zoe, Eleanor is convinced that something evil is at work in the house. The name "Emily" appears in scrawls all over the walls, and her youngest child Rosie becomes more and more hostile. Eleanor soon realises that the house may be affecting her health, and vows to figure out what's going on.

Meanwhile, Zoe is contemplating her life and comparing herself to others who seem to have done more. She has horrific nightmares and dreams about the presence of a young girl. Is the house starting to affect her too? 


I've been describing this as "Hammer Horror meets David Nicholls". There are two very different stories linked by the house - Zoe's story is the contemporary relationship drama, a young woman unsure of what she wants from life. Eleanor's is the story of a woman in a marriage bordering on stale, who is desperately trying to figure out why the house is having such a detrimental effect on her health. She's worried about her children, especially her daughter Rosie. She wants to find out what happened in the house - and who "Emily" is........or was. 

This novel could have worked without Zoe's story - but I think it adds another dimension, and gives the book a modern feel. It's set in 2013, but parts of it are so creepy and dark that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a gothic setting. 

I'd recommend this if you like contemporary stories with a creepy edge. I'm a big fan of houses being used as characters, and this one has plenty of personality. I also liked that there were some genuinely quite spooky moments (the one that inspired the photograph above gave me chills). 

The Upstairs Room is published today, July 27th by Picador. 


If you'd like to visit the other stops on the blog tour, you can find them below - there are extracts, reviews and lots more. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Box Club: June 2017 - Spells and Remedies

Nothing to Disclose


I mentioned in my last Owlcrate unboxing that it would be my last box. I wanted something a little closer to home, and after trying Book Box Club for a couple of months last year, I decided that I was going to subscribe to them permanently.

My first box of the new subscription was the June Schoolroom Scandals box, and it was a beauty - I did an unboxing post on Instagram:

I thought I'd do a blog post on the July Spells and Remedies box to give you an idea of what to expect if you're thinking of signing up.

Every month, the box contains a wrapped book, themed goodies, and a scroll inviting you to an online forum/chat. I love this idea (even if I always forget when the chat is) - I'm going to make sure I don't miss the next one, because it's usually a Q&A with the author of the previous month's book.

I love that the book is wrapped, it adds an extra surprise to the box.

This month's book was The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy:

Every seven years something disappears in the remote town of Sterling: people's reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden - and one young woman's desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save the people of Sterling from the past.

It looks like it's right up my alley, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Also included were a signed bookplate, the aformentioned scroll, and two bookmarks - one a promo for After the Fire by Will Hill (a Zoella Book Club pick this year) and a Shakespeare one by Holly Grace Illustration

We also received gorgeous fabric bunting created exclusively for this box by The Literary Omnistore; Hocus Focus loose tea by Bluebird Tea Co.; Raven Boys inspired soap handmade by Just Fribble (two scents available - I got 300 Fox Way) and an illustrated compact mirror designed by Moon Kestrel

Finally, there was the usual card that tells us what's in the box, and two extras - samplers of upcoming releases by Holly Bourne and M.A. Bennett. I love these little chapter samplers, they're a great way to tell if something will grab you from the first chapter or not. 

And that's it - the August box is currently on sale, you can find out more by visiting the site at They post internationally, their customer service is fantastic, and they also have a new option for those of you who'd love to receive a new YA release every month without the extra merchandise. Purely Books is launching soon, and you can find out more on their site. 

So - tempted? 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blog Tour: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

ARC clearly defined in accordance with policy here


Book blog tours are great, they're something I promised myself I'd do more of in 2017 - this one in particular is exciting and a bit of an honour for me, because I've been a fan of this author for a long time.

Today I'm hosting a stop on the tour for Karin Slaughter's latest standalone release, The Good Daughter.


Charlotte and Samantha Quinn are just young teenagers when gunmen enter their home one evening and change their lives forever. Their father Rusty, is known locally as "Attorney for the Damned" - and that reputation has caused the entire family nothing but unimaginable trouble. 

Now in her forties, Charlotte is a defense attorney. When she is one of the only witnesses to a terrible crime that rocks the community, it drags up the events of almost thirty years ago. The family will once again be put under scrutiny -  their loyalties questioned, their past examined, their truths uncovered. They will need to face their demons in order to work together and make sure justice is served. Again. 


This is a beast of a book (almost 600 pages) and I read it in one day, two sittings. If you're familiar with the work of this author you'll know how well she writes Police dramas - unusually, this one is told from the POV of the lawyers. It's one of those claustrophobic rotten-to-the-core smalltown books that this author knows how to do so well. 

I enjoyed this so much - it's one of my favourites of the year so far, and one of my favourite Karin Slaughter novels so far. It has a great plot, terrifying villains, really atmospheric setting, and strong female leads (one of the strongest being a transgender character who I would like to adopt me). I like the way the story is revealed, and how we go back every so often to find out what really happened on that fateful night almost 30 years ago. There are graphic, violent scenes that won't be a surprise to fellow fans, particularly in relation to some of the 1989 chapters. This isn't a problem for me, but proceed with caution if this is something that concerns you.

Although this is a standalone, there is a prequel available. It's a novella called  Last Breath (The Good Daughter #0.5) that's set a few years before this story takes place. It follows a case that Charlie takes on pro bono, and is not related to the events in this story. I read and enjoyed it very much too, I would love to read more stories featuring these characters.

The Good Daughter is available for Kindle and from all good booksellers now (and don't forget your library!).


If you'd like to see some reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour, please check them out below!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bookish Present Ideas

Nothing to Disclose


I celebrated my birthday recently, meaning every member of my family gave me money (with the instructions "don't spend it on the children") because I am notoriously difficult to buy for. As a result, I've been taking the whole "Treat Yo Self" idea VERY seriously, and have bought a plethora of bookish goodies. I thought I'd put a post together to help others find interesting, quirky gifts for bookish people.


Okay, this is less quirky and more obvious, but I'm putting it in anyway. If you have access to your recipient's Amazon wish list you're laughing - otherwise this may take a little thought to choose something they haven't read already. I think non-fiction is a good option here - or a nice hardback that they wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves. Here are the books I've purchased:

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
I'm a big fan of Shirley Jackson's writing (my favourite is We Have Always Lived in the Castle), so I'm excited to read this biography.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
After Carrie's untimely death last year, I kept seeing quotes from this book online, so I added it to my to-buy list.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
I read this at the weekend and I'm torn between warning you about it and not wanting to spoil it - It features very heavy subject matter that's not mentioned in the blurb, but I'm really glad I read it. It's a hard one to get through and not at all what I expected - so I'd say if you're in a strong place mentally give it a go. Colleen is fast becoming one of those authors that I'll just buy without even looking at a blurb.

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West
I also read this at the weekend and it's everything I wanted Susie Orbach's Fat is a Feminist Issue to be. It's a wonderful read about accepting yourself and finding the confidence to shout, rather than whisper. It's about claiming your space and knowing your worth, knowing when a "no" is the right decision, and knowing when to stand up and say "I'm not having any part in this, this is wrong". A fantastic read that I'll no doubt dip in and out of regularly.

A Book Buddy

These have probably been around since the dawn of time but it's only recently that I've seen them grow in popularity - a book buddy is essentially a padded fabric bag that you can keep your book or e-reader in to stop it from getting dirty or torn. These aren't overly hard to make - if you're good with a sewing machine or knitting needles, you could rustle one up yourself. I went to Etsy for mine, and used a seller called Melvis Makes. I picked the medium, it's big enough to fit one thick standard paperback, a larger Indie book, a smaller hardback or two small paperbacks.

A Personal Library Kit

Do I ever lend my books to people? Nope. Not since a friend borrowed The Babysitters Club: Mary-Anne's Makeover in Secondary school and never returned it. So why do I need this? Because as a child, library was one of my favourite games to play with my sister. We both really wanted a stamper and yes, you can probably pick those up in Euro shops now - but this is such a cute little kit and I couldn't resist it. I picked it up from Book Depository.


Not a new idea by any means, but bookmarks have become a lot more exciting than they used to be. Magnetic character bookmarks are popular, and are available in every character you can think of. There are also standard ones featuring any TV show or quote you could think of, and lots of custom sellers on Etsy who can make you something if you can't find it. I bought my Gilmore Girls one from Beyond The Pages, the Caraval one was from That Bookie Bookmarks, and the little Stephen King and Snape ones from Epik Page.

Bookish Themed Candles

Books and candles go together like...books...and....candles. This is another huge trend right now, and there are many candle makers. I've found some good ones (and some not so good), but I've got a few sellers that I'd recommend. I received some of these in book subscription boxes, but the ones I bought were from Book and Nook, Pret a Geek, and Ivylicious Soy Candles.

A Personal Book Shopping Experience at Dubray Books

I saw this via The Rick O'Shea Book Club and thought it was a wonderful idea. It's currently available in Dublin and Bray, hopefully it will be extended to other stores too.

For €80, you get to sit down with over tea/coffee and have a chat with a personal shopper who will suggest new reads for you based on your interests. You will then be able to choose €60 worth of books to take home, plus you'll be given a moleskine notebook and tote bag. This is such a wonderful idea, it's a great gift for someone who has everything! You can order on their website: Dubray Personal Shopper Voucher.

A Book Box Club Subscription

For readers in the U.S, there are many options for bookish subscription boxes. On this side of the pond, it's a little harder to find something similar. Book Box Club are based in the UK and they offer a monthly subscription box based around a different theme, featuring a new Young Adult release and a box full of goodies. There's also access to an exclusive online group, and a chat with the authors. I've yet to find an adult equivalent, but a 3 month subscription would make a YA reader very happy.

If there's anything else you've seen that would make a great gift for a book lover, please do let me know in the comments, or if you know of any other places that do bookish candles or quirky bookmarks.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Booktube-a-thon 2017 Information & TBR

Nothing to Disclose


It's that time of the year again already! This will be my fourth year taking part - essentially it's a week long Readathon kicked off by Ariel Bissett that includes YouTube challenges, Instagram challenges, Twitter reading sprints, competitions - it's a great community event (the community just happen to be scattered all over the world). I love seeing this grow, it gets bigger and better every year. It's so heartwarming to see more and more young people develop a love of reading.

This year it will run from July 24th - 30th (so midnight on the Friday night to midnight on the following Sunday night). I'm away for one day so hopefully I'll be able to fit all the challenges into six days! I haven't managed to complete all seven challenges since the first year I took part.

You can see my posts from previous years here:

2014: Wrap Up
2015: Wrap Up
2016: Wrap Up

The prompts for this year are good, I'm excited for most of them (one of them less so):

There's one "official" book this year, a book that has been chosen for everyone to read if they'd like to. I think that's a nice idea, to include something that loads of us can read at the same time. I'm not telling you which one it is, but you can watch the Booktube-a-thon channel to find out!

Here are my picks this year:


Will I be able to read them all in under a week? Probably not. Will I lose my reading mojo and sit in despair for most of the week? Probably. Will I change my mind multiple times and end up reading only one on this list? Possibly. Will I forget completely about twitter sprints and end up coming in for the last few minutes? Every.Single.Year. But - it's so much fun.

So - are you going to join in this year? You don't have to be a Blogger or YouTuber, you don't have to buy anything, you don't have to complete the challenges. It's about reading together, trying to read more, and enjoying books together all over the world.

If you're taking part, please let me know!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Books I Read in June

ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


So, I read 23 books in June - before you say it, I have a post:

I will say it's amazing how quickly television becomes redundant, I'm recording The Handmaid's Tale but everything else I recorded was deleted without even watching it, I don't miss it at all in the evenings now.

As always, you can check out my Books 2017 page for clickable covers - this takes you to my full review on Goodreads or on here if I've done a dedicated post or blog tour stop.

YA = Young Adult.
ARC = Advance Review Copy.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis
There were two picks as usual, the first being Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney. I chose this - it's a brutal portrayal of life as a young gay man in rural France. You might be forgiven when reading to imagine this was set centuries ago - the author is only in his early twenties. This wasn't an easy read, but it's a story he wanted to tell and I'm so glad he was able to tell it. I'm not entirely sure why it's shelved as fiction, mind - in an interview for Penguin, the author confirmed that all the events were true.

Borrowed from Library


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I had seen this mentioned a few times but was almost put off by comparisons to Don Tillman of The Rosie Project (I wasn't a fan) - this is much, much better. Eleanor is eccentric, and an alcoholic, but she's also a product of her environment. She strikes up a very unlikely friendship that changes her world - she's a wonderful character and this was a joy of a book.

The Ice by Laline Paull
I read The Bees by this author and found it incredibly weird (it has been described as The Handmaid's Tale.....but with bees) but it's a book that has stayed with me, so I borrowed this. It's effectively about an inquest into a death in the Arctic, with a bit of global warming and climate change thrown in for good measure. I really enjoyed it, I thought it was a great story.


Attack of the 50 Foot Woman by Catherine Mayer
A non-fictional feminist book on how we could achieve true equality for all. This is broken down into chapters (topics include gender, women in power, women in politics, feminism for men, women in media, etc) and while some chapters were a little more acedemic, the overall tone was friendly and easy to follow. This could be a good book if you've ever read terms like "cis" or "TERF" and wondered what the hell was going on. A really interesting book.

Conclave by Robert Harris
From feminism to religion - I'm not even remotely interested in the inner workings of the Catholic church, but this has been praised in many different circles. It's also a Richard & Judy summer pick, so I gave it a go. The pope is dead, a new one must be chosen, and it's down to 118 cardinals to do just that. There's scandal, secrets and fierce competition - with a truly cringeworthy ending. It was surprisingly enjoyable for a book about cardinals.

The Girl in Between by Sarah Carroll 
This is a YA book about a young homeless girl living with her mother in an abandoned building in Dublin. It's gritty and sad, with believable characters. I wasn't mad about the way it worked out, but I enjoyed it up to that point.

Book Subscription Boxes


Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
This was in the May Owlcrate box (unboxing post here) - I've since cancelled my subscription, so this was the last box I received. This is a YA novel featuring a teenage girl who suffers from social anxiety. In reality, she keeps herself to herself. Online, she's the creator of a hugely successful comic series, so successful that she has merchandise, fanfiction, and hundreds of thousands of followers. She's completely anonymous - until one of the most popular fanfic writers starts at her school. I didn't like this, mainly because the love interest was a complete and utter jerk.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus
This was in the June Book Box Club box. It has been compared to The Breakfast Club - there's a criminal, a jock, a princess, a brain, detention - and that's really where the similarities end. Five students enter detention, only four come out alive. Each one has a secret that would destroy them if it got out - and someone's determined for every one of them to be found out. I loved this, I read it in one sitting, I thought it was sharp and fresh.

Buzz Books


The Buzz Books are just fantastic, I've mentioned them many, many times here before - they're completely free and they are essential for any reader who wants to keep on top of upcoming releases. there are monthly versions, but I like these big ones - they're available to download here: Buzz Books. If you're a Netgalley member you can request the full advance copy to read, some may be pre-approved. The adult one contains a selection of 40 fiction and non-fiction previews, the YA one contains 15 previews.


I was incredibly greedy on Netgalley and it came back to bite me in the behind - I've been trying to get through all the ones I have to review before I inevitably "log on just for a look...". I read 8 in June and was sent one hard copy.


The Accidental Honeymoon by Portia Macintosh (Available now)
I was craving something summery, fluffy and light one sunny evening - and I got it in spades with this. When Georgie finds out that her fiancée is cheating, she wants to save face in front of her family so ropes in a guy she meets in Vegas to play her fiancée. Predictable, but witty and funny, this was a welcome read at the time and was exactly what I wanted for a couple of hours of non-taxing escapism.

Behind the Lie by Amanda James (Available now)
A woman is told that one of her twins has died at birth, but she's certain that he's still alive. She is determined to find out what happened and get her baby back. This was predictable, but it was an okay read for an evening.

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry (Available now)
I've done a full review here as part of the blog tour. I really liked this, it's a tale of two sisters who have been affected by an incident 15 years before in very different ways. One is an art teacher in an open prison, the other is confined to a wheelchair in a care home. It's twisty and dark, a good thriller and it was nice to see a character with additional needs who was feisty and opinionated.


Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield (Available now)
Rita and Lo are sisters, and have been born and raised as part of a travelling circus. Lo meets a "flattie" - a non-circus boy - and wonders if there's more to life than what she has always believed. This took a pretty sharp turn of events that made me sad, it's a strange little book but it's really atmospheric and the circus setting is different.

The Blind by A.F. Brady (Published October 1st)
This was one of the Buzz Books previews that I requested. It's about a psychologist who is assigned a really difficult patient - nobody knows anything about him, other than the fact that he's an ex-prisoner and he won't talk to anyone. Sam tries to get information from him - but ends up having to re-evaluate her own life. I liked this, it was an interesting setting and a good enough story, if a little predictable for someone who reads a lot of psychological thrillers.

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne (Published July 27th)
A tale of two women - one a lodger, the other the homeowner. At what point does the dream home become a nightmare? Eleanor believes that her new home is making her ill - but will anyone believe her? And what's the story with the creepy room upstairs? I liked this, it reminded me of some earlier Hammer Horror novels, with a contemporary twist. Hammer meets David Nicholls, if you will. I'll have a proper review up closer to publication as part of the blog tour.


Last Breath (The Good Daughter 0.5) by Karin Slaughter (Published July 11th)
A prequel to her newest novel, featuring a short story about a case taken on by Charlie, a defense lawyer. This doesn't really spoil the events of the novel as it takes place beforehand, so it can be read before or after.

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter (Published August 8th)
It's genuinely only occurring to me now that the majority of my June ARC reads featured sisters - this is another one, about Charlie and Sam, who witness a shocking event as teenagers. Their father is known as "Attorney for the Damned", and his reputation for helping petty criminals causes his family irreparable damage. 28 years later, both are lawyers and again find themselves the centre of the small town's attention when Charlie witnesses a crime. I loved this, as with all Karin's books it was well written, full of great characters and had that small-town-gone-bad that only certain authors can do really, really well (Stephen King being another one).

Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson (Available now)
Again with the sisters - this time they're at their old family home to find out the truth about what happened to their brother when he went missing several years before. Megan is a good protagonist - she also has an eating disorder, which makes for uncomfortable reading but it's handled well. I loved this, thought it was fresh and had a great atmospheric setting, it made a great summer read. Very claustrophobic and tense.



Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King with Richard Chizmar 
A novella about a girl named Gwendy, who meets a mysterious man one day. He hands her a box, and gives her complete control over it - if she pushes certain buttons, she gets rewards. If she pushes another, bad things will happen. I LOVED this. I really liked the premise and I liked the character of Gwendy a lot. 

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
A YA story about........guess what.......SISTERS! This time, three sisters are preparing for their first holiday abroad since the death of their Dad. Their mother's not coping well, will this trip make them or break them? This was nice, the romance was a little cringe but I loved the sense of humour and the story itself was decent underneath it. A nice holiday read, about learning to move on after loss.


Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy
This is about a young Irish teenager who needs access to abortion services. Abortion is illegal in Ireland - so I thought that would be the basis for the story. Instead, this was a bit different - there's a lot about gender, transitioning, friendships and dealing with change in here - the pregnancy story seemed to take a back seat. I didn't really enjoy it, but I think it could be an interesting entry point into a discussion about gender definitions and the 8th Amendment for teenagers.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her friend. Not everyone believes her - the police don't have a good track record when dealing with black teenagers in Starr's community. Starr needs to figure out what to do - should she stand her ground, and risk everyone at her school finding out that she's from the bad part of town, or should she take the easy, safe way out and lie? This is such an important book, and I'm glad it exists.

And that's it! I've a couple of blog tours coming up and a post about holiday reads on the way soon. If you've any questions or suggestions for bookish posts, or any recommendations, just pop a comment below and I'll get back to you ASAP.