Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Blog Tour: When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari, Illustrated by Natalie Sirett

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari. A beautiful and timely story that explores themes of grief, mental health, and community. This book has been 20 years in the making and is complemented by gorgeous illustrations from Natalie Sirett. A gripping and poignant read from beginning to end, and you can't help but follow the characters into the dark shadows of torment and loss. 

Kai, Orla and Zak grew up together, their days spent on the patch of wilderness in between their homes, a small green space in a sprawling grey city. Music, laughter and friendship bind them together and they have big plans for their future - until Kai’s family suffers a huge loss.

Trying to cope with his own grief, as well as watching it tear his family apart, Kai is drawn into a more dangerous crowd, until his dreams for the future are a distant memory. Excluded from school and retreating from his loved ones, it seems as though his path is set, his story foretold. Orla, Zak and classmate Om are determined to help him find his way back. But are they too late?
 

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Review: Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

Release Date: September 7, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon  UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Dark and Shallow Lies has impeccable spooky season vibes (but not too spooky). It's eery and dark and I quickly fell into the setting of the story. A great mystery/thriller with characters that have subtle psychic powers. It added a paranormal twist that I really enjoyed. The story is so beautifully written with descriptions that truly brought the bayou setting alive. The imagery was powerful and the pathetic fallacy throughout added to the dark atmosphere of this story. With the dark gloomy weather recently, Dark and Shallow Lies felt like the perfect autumnal read. Every time I put it down I felt drawn back to it.

There wasn't a lot of action in this book, which may come across as boring to some readers. However, I was eating up the character development and slow burn of the story. I could not predict where it was going or how the story would end. It also felt like a book that you could analyse line by line. Perhaps a great book for a book club read. I didn't love the ending, but I also think I may need to re-read it to get the full impact, but I enjoyed the book overall so it gets a 4 star from me.

I am not normally drawn to books that don't have romance as a large element, but the small role that romance did play in this book felt perfect. I loved that a larger emphasis was placed on studying the characters in the small town and building the atmosphere. Whereas the romance was sprinkled lightly to add to the plot.

Dark and Shallow Lies was a unique story that was told in a way that felt different and refreshing from your average YA book. It is irresistibly immersive and you will find it just as hard as the characters to leave the small bayou town of La Cachette. If you love a mystery/thriller but want a fresh take on it then definitely check this out. 

Rating

4 Falling Books

Thank you to Electric Monkey for the review copy! 

Monday, 11 October 2021

Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Release date: September 14, 2021
A fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents' shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King's Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion--it's the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most--but it's still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King's Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it's even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first. 

When I put this book down for anything I immediately got withdrawals. The writing style and story is so gripping that you don't want to put it down.

The concept of this book was very interesting. There is an illness that is plaguing the people of Kandala, and the only thing that can keep the sickness at bay is moonflower petals. These petals are only grown in 2 sectors of the kingdom, in which the leaders of the sectors have full control over the price. The king buys as much as possible to distribute to all the sectors, but it is barely enough. I loved the idea that there is this finite resource that is being fought over and couldn't wait to learn more about what could be done about this issue. There's a lot of politics involved, which I found myself loving from the start! The worldbuilding was a perfect balance between being easy to understand but still very rich. However, I felt the plot twist and ending reveal was predictable.

The romance was very cute. I loved Tessa and Corrick but there was not much build-up, which is normally one of the best parts. Their relationship throughout the book was fun to follow and I could never get enough of them. Even though they were a bit cheesy at times.

I wanted more details on the moonflower petals. This was one of the most interesting aspects and it didn't get enough time in the limelight. Aside from the politics surrounding the moonflower supply issue, I wanted to hear more about the efficacy of the different dosages, and the differences between sectors. But I suspect this will play a bigger part in the second book, even though it could have been explored further within the 400 pages of this one. 

Overall, I did enjoy this a lot. The story made this very hard to put down! I would definitely recommend it to anyone that loves YA fantasy with lots of political intrigue. Especially anyone that liked The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni. This story has so much potential despite the predictable twists and underutilised plot lines, but the main ingredients to be the next hit fantasy series. I am super excited for the sequel because I think it's going to be explosive. There are so many storylines and open ends that I cannot wait to be explored.

Rating

4 Falling Books
Thank you Bloomsbury for sending a proof copy!

Friday, 8 October 2021

TikTok Tour: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Hey there!

This week Margaret Rogerson's new YA fantasy was released into the wild! Many of you may be familiar with this author from her very popular YA standalone Sorcery of Thorns and Enchantment of Ravens. Vespertine is the first book in a YA fantasy series about nuns in training that fight malevolent spirits. Think Supernatural with badass nuns. When our main character's convent is attacked, she awakens an ancient spirit in order to wield its power. However, this spirit also wants to possess her. 


@samfallingbooks

supernatural but make it badass nuns ##VespertineTikTokTour ##simonandschusteruk ##booktok ##foryou ##fantasy

♬ Repeat Until Death - Novo Amor

Tik tok tour for this book! If you want to check out some of the other content that has been posted for the book you can check out the hashtag #VespertineTikTokTour on Tiktok. 

I'm half-way through the book at the moment but I am immensely enjoying it. The main character is giving me Celaena vibes from Throne of Glass and I feel like I'm being surprised around every corner. i cannot wait to see how the rest of the book pans out. Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for the review copy.

You can find links to check out this book below.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Exploring the Inspiration Behind The Ash House with Angharad Walker - Blog Tour

Happy book birthday to The Ash House by Angharad Walker! Today is it's official UK release.

Welcome to the first stop on the blog tour for The Ash House, a chill-you-to-the-bone children's story that will leave you feeling breathless as well as unsettled. You can find out more about the book below. 

When Eleven-year-old Sol arrives at the Ash House, desperate for a cure for his complex pain syndrome, he finds a community of strange children long abandoned by their mysterious Headmaster.

The children at the Ash House want the new boy to love their home as much as they do. They give him a name like theirs. They show him the dorms and tell him about the wonderful oasis that the Headmaster has created for them. But the new boy already has a name. Doesn't he? At least he did before he walked through those gates...

This was supposed to be a healing refuge for children like him. Something between a school and a summer camp. With kids like him. With pain like his. But no one is allowed to get sick at the Ash House. NO ONE.

And then The Doctor arrives...

Strange things are about to happen at the mysterious Ash House. And the longer Sol spends on the mysterious grounds, the more he begins to forget who he is, the more the other children begin to distrust him, and the worse his pain becomes. But can he hold onto reality long enough to find an escape? And better yet, can he convince the others.

I was lucky enough to read a proof of this book before the release. The story plays on magical realism and brings The Ash House to life in a way that will keep you thinking perhaps you're reading something paranormal. Everything about this book felt so vivid and you are quickly drawn into this world where everything seems to make sense to everyone but the main character and us, the reader. Over the course of the book, we learn more and more about the Ash House and the secrets that lie deep within it. The tension by the end of the book was palpable and I had no idea what to expect. I experienced so many emotions while reading and even having finished it my mind can't seem to fully comprehend the wild ride that is this story. It is absolutely unforgettable and terrifying in the best way. If you are someone that enjoys having their boundaries of reality pushed to the edge, this is the book for you.

I am twenty-two years old, and there were parts of this book where I was so spooked out, I was sure the scenes would play out in my nightmares. However, I have a low tolerance for spooky things, and I know many readers will love how chilling this book is.

(Me while reading)

Anyway, enough from me! The lovely Angharad Walker has put together the inspirations behind The Ash House that gives you such a great insight into the makeup of this story.

Hi Falling Books readers! It’s the first stop of The Ash House blog tour and I’d like to say a
special thanks to Sam for having me on Falling Books to celebrate its publication.

The Ash House is about a boy who is looking for a cure to a mysterious illness he has. He
arrives there hopeful, only to find a house made of ash ad smoke. A group of children like
there, living by the strict rules of Nicenesses set by their Headmaster. Only they haven’t seen
him in three long years…

Sam’s asked me to write about the ideas and inspirations behind the book, so here’s a little
peak into the (chaotic) mind of this writer…

The initial idea
Everyone always wants to know where the first spark of a story comes from. I hate to
disappoint, but I don’t have a particularly satisfactory origin story for this book. I honestly
can’t remember if the Ash House came to me in a daydream or a nightmare. I was still a
student at university. I was studying in California for the year. I loved it there, but I missed
the seasons of the UK, particularly autumn–the grey skies, fine rain, turning leaves. Perhaps
the Ash House came out of that craving. All I know if one day it was there in my head: a
house made of ash and smoke, deep in the countryside, surrounded by gnarled, ancient
woodland. I knew I wanted to write about it.

Thinking up characters
It’s funny because characters can feel like people all their own, even though you created
them. I knew I wanted to write a story about friendship. To guide the reader through the
world of the Ash House I needed a lead character who was an outsider, and another who was
the ultimate insider. That’s Sol and Dom, the two boys at the heart of the story. They both
need what the other has. Sol needs something to believe in. He needs to shed his cynical
shell. Whereas Dom needs to face up to the harsh realities of the Ash House—it’s not the
perfect world he thinks it is.

Perfecting a plot
I worked really hard on the plot. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I actually
quite like books that meander and give the characters lots of time to have random
conversations. But I appreciate I’m in the minority of that! So to figure out the right plot for
my world and characters, I tried to think about what type of story it is at its heart. That’s
when I realised: it’s a prison break story. Prison break stories all have certain features that
make them gripping to read or watch—a reason they must escape, a ticking clock to give a
sense of urgency, some failed escape attempts with the stakes rising with each failure. When I
slotted my ideas to this structure, that’s when the book really came alive. 

You can find links to purchase The Ash House by Angharad Walker below. Including the signed edition offered by Waterstones!


Sunday, 1 August 2021

Review: This is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman

This is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman

Release Date: July 22, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Best friends Amani and Huda are getting nervous about their GCSEs - and their future beyond school, which they're both wildly unprepared for. Shy, quiet Amani has an outwardly picture-perfect family - a father who is a successful TV presenter, a loving mother, and an adorable younger brother - while confident and impulsive

Huda has grown up with over-affectionate foster parents who are now expecting a baby of their own. Both girls are jealous of each other's seemingly easy life, without realising the darkness or worries that lie underneath. Then Huda witnesses Amani's father hitting her mother, and Amani's biggest secret is suddenly out. As Amani convinces Huda to keep quiet by helping her with her own problems, a prank blog starts up at school, revealing students' secrets one by one. Will this anonymous blogger get hold of Amani's secret too? Will Huda keep quiet?

This Is My Truth hit me in a way that I was not expecting. Rahman's writing style is easy flowing and I quickly became engaged with the characters. They feel very realistic, which makes the issues addressed in this book even more raw and real. The way that it handles domestic abuse, especially the attitudes towards the topic in the Muslim community, opened my eyes further to how complex these situations can be. The book shows the cycle of abuse, of the bad nights with Amani's dad and how he manipulates her mum and the family by the morning with gifts and smiles. It's painful to see Amani's mum so isolated with no one to turn to, not even her family, because of the fear of being blamed for the abuse or even just being told that it is normal. At times this was a very difficult read, but it is so so important that stories like this are told. I feel like I learnt a lot from this book.

Amani and her family are Bengali and I loved reading about the culture woven into this book. I enjoyed the different dynamics in Amani's life including her relationship with her brother, with Huda, and her fears and worries about her dad's pressure on her to follow a certain career path even though her heart is not in it at all. There were also moments with Huda's foster family where Amani witnesses their happy moments and seemingly normal life, and I felt heart cracking all over. The emotions that are packed into this book made me speechless. I was crying every few chapters. 

Amani and Huda's friendship was also at the heart of this book and I loved reading about them and how protective they are over each other. These characters go through their own emotional struggles and they grow so much over the course of the book.

This Is My Truth held my attention from beginning to end. It broke my heart so many times over and put it back together again. If you are looking for a hard hitting read this summer I would recommend you pick this up. It made me smile on one page and put me in pain by the next. I will be thinking about this book for a long time! I also can't wait to pick up Rahman's previous book All the Things We Never Said.

Trigger warnings: racism, domestic abuse, foster care issues

 Rating

5 Falling Books

Thank you to Molly at Hot Key Books for sending a copy for review!

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Book Mail: Any Where the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell


In honour of the release of Any Where the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell, the third and final book in the Simon Snow series, Macmillan sent a very lovely parcel! You can watch my unboxing below.

This book called me ugly ##AnyWayTheWindBlows ##AWTWB ##booktok ##foryou ##simonsnow ##samreading ##unboxing

It feels emotional to say goodbye to such endearing characters that have stolen my heart since book 1. Watching as Simon and Baz work through their relationship and personal struggles to be the best version of themselves for each other breaks my heart even more. I've included some of my favourite SnowBaz quotes in the video below.

I love these two cinnamon rolls ##booktok ##foryou ##samreading ##awtwb ##anywaythewindblows ##snowbaz

If you haven't read this series, I would recommend it to anyone out there that wants a little bit of magic in their life. It features a bunch of cinnamon roll characters (aka sweet and endearing and very adorable). It will make you smile and laugh throughout the whole story. In the first book, the characters are at a Hogwarts-style school for mages, the second features a pretty badass road trip across the US, and the last book ties the story together as the characters figure out their "adult" lives. The writing is so fun, the dialogue consistently witty, and features endless mysteries for the gang to solve. The love story also gives that 'enemies to lovers' feel that is irresistible.

Links to grab a copy of this stunning book are below!

Goodreads 

Amazon UK  

Amazon 

The Book Depository 

Waterstones

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Review: These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows #1) by Lexi Ryan

 These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows #1) by Lexi Ryan

Release Date: July 20, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she'll do whatever it takes to get her back—including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.

Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie's only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.

Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.

These Hollow Vows is a YA fantasy that has been recommended for fans of The Cruel Prince and A Court of Thorns and Roses. If you haven't read either of these books then I would recommend this as an "easy to dive into" YA fantasy with a love triangle consisting of two irresistible love interests, as well as an inevitable betrayal. The fae world is divided into the Seelie and Unseelie courts who have been long at war. We follow Brie as she infiltrates the Seelie court in order to find three relics for the Unseelie King who has her sister. While she is there she must play the part of a human who is there to win the hand of the Prince of the Seelie court, (The Selection by Kiera Cass kind of style) Sebastian, who she just might be falling for. However, she also begins to fall for Finn, the leader of the rebels attempting to overthrow the Unseelie King and could possibly be the answer to getting her sister back.

The writing style is very easy to follow in this book. If you are someone that doesn't get on well with heavy worldbuilding in fantasy books and prefers to get stuck straight into the plot, then this book is perfect for you. At certain points, I did find myself wanting for the author to expand on the world further to make this world feel more fleshed out. We spend a lot of time in the Seelie court but at the same time, I feel like I came away still not knowing that much about it or the rules, customs, etc.

The love triangle in this book was written in a way that was enjoyable and kept the reader guessing about who may be the one to win the main character's heart. It is an especially hard decision when you fall for both of the love interests in the book and can't decide who you're are rooting for! Up until the very end, you are kept guessing who Brie might pick. The betrayal trope also plays a big part in the romance so any fans of big twists such as those in Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard I think you will enjoy what this book has in store!

Brie was not my favourite main protagonist. I found myself frustrated with her inner thoughts and her choices. I also could not believe how much she got away with sneaking around the castle and its grounds. Even when she was with the rebels for a few days under the guise of visiting a seaside town, Sebastian did not even ask her about this "trip" once when she got back. I thought this was a little too easy of a way out for Brie to not have to deal with the possibility of being exposed. Every moment thereafter I was then not worried that she would get caught because everyone was so gullible and never questioned her. I would have like less predictability from this aspect of the plot.

If you enjoy romance as the main driver in your fantasy stories then I think this would be a good pick for you! It doesn't have the heavy worldbuilding that can feel very dense, it jumps straight into the plot, and there is only a sprinkle of political intrigue. Overall, These Hollow Vows is an addictive read that you will not be able to put down. The romance will keep you guessing at every turn and you are waiting on the edge of your seat for all secrets to unravel. I am looking forward to seeing where the author takes this story in the sequel!

Rating

4 Falling Books

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a review copy

Monday, 12 July 2021

Review: The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

Release Date: June 3, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother and a Messi-in-training. He's also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boy's soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans - he's passing.

So when a discriminatory law forces Spencer's coach to bench him after he discovers the 'F' on Spencer's birth certificate, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even if it means coming out to everyone - including the guy he's falling for.

The Passing Playbook is a young adult sports romance with a trans protagonist. It brings up important conversations around trans rights and how even though things are changing in our society we still have a long way to go. It also highlights the importance of allyship in supporting this change.

The romance between Spencer and Justice was super sweet and I loved how it unfolded throughout the book. It was especially interesting to see how they both navigated Justice's very religious family with their discriminatory and harmful views of the queer community. This makes you root for them even more!

I read this book while watching the Euros 2020 and I loved the football element in this story. Even if football isn't your thing, the writing style and plot is so easy to follow that you find yourself getting into the sports scenes more than you think! The dialogue flowed nicely and was endlessly entertaining. One of my favourite parts about this book was how it challenges laws that discriminate against trans people and how simple things such as gender neutral toilets being available should not be a luxury, it should be a necessity. 

There is great representation in this book featuring non-binary, autistic, bisexual, and gay characters.  Spencer's family are also very supportive of his transition and identity, which was so heart-warming to read about. I read Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve recently which featured the opposite side to this, which is having a family who don't want to accept who you are. So it was really great to read about a different kind of experience. The author definitely takes a positive outlook on being your true authentic self and I think that worked perfectly for what the book was trying to achieve. 

The Passing Playbook was overall an unexpected delight that gave me warm and fuzzy feelings and left me full of hope for these characters and the changes they are striving to make in the world; no matter how small. This is an unmissable YA contemporary this summer with a first love romance, important topics, and delightful characters.

Rating

4.5 Falling Books

Thank you to Penguin and Bookstagrammers.com for providing a review copy

Friday, 9 July 2021

Review: Carry On (Simon Snow #1) by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On (Simon Snow #1) by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

This was fun! Major Harry Potter fanfic vibes but the story and characters grew on me by 150 pages in. Especially once I got used to the parallels with HP. This book switches between character POVs, which worked really well for the romance aspect of the story between Simon and Baz. Their enemies-to-lovers romance was so enjoyable and the banter between them never failed to make me smile. I can see why SnowBaz has such a big following because they are adorable and must be protected at all costs.

I also loved the friendship between Simon and Penelope. Their constant support and love for each and the way they are absolutely on the same wavelength made chapters with these 2 a lot of fun.

Simon gives off major HP vibes in terms of his character because he is an orphan, found by the headmaster of the magic school, and takes him under his wing, he doesn't have anywhere to spend holidays, etc. Over the course of the book these parallels became less jarring especially when you start to warm to Simon's character. I liked how bits and pieces started to come together toward the end for the big reveal. However, I wasn't surprised by the plot twist all that much but I still enjoyed how the events at the end unfolded.

The plot of this book was slow at the start, or I couldn't really see where it was going. But in short, there is a murder mystery in which our main characters set out to solve as well as keeping an eye out for the bad guy of the story the Insidious Humdrum who is a widespread threat to the magic world. 

I can't wait to see where the story goes in the sequel Wayword Son and I look forward to seeing the cast of characters again! 

Rating

3.5 Falling Books