Monday 24 June 2019

YALC 2019 Giveaway!

In my new organized reincarnation, I've posted both parts of my reading list for this year. Part 1 can be found here, and part 2 can be found here! I've decided to share the YALC love and let someone get to read one of the amazing books on my YALC lists. One person can win a copy of whatever book they choose from my reading lists, as long as they either live somewhere that Book Depository ships to, or they'll be at YALC and I can hand the book over! It's simple to enter, just fill out the rafflecopter below and think about what book you would choose. This giveaway is not sponsored or funded in any way, it's me offering to share the book love! The giveaway is open until midnight on July 25th and any duplicate entries will be deleted/disqualified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 23 June 2019

YALC 2019 Reading List Part 2

As promised last week, here's part two of my reading list. I'm hoping by the time this goes live that I'll have read a few more books from the list and some of my reviews will also have gone up. I'm not going to review everything on the list - I'd spend a year typing if I did - but if it's an' up all night' or 'stay up late' book I'll do my best to review it, even if it ends up being a mini review. Not that I'm sure I can do mini reviews, I'm very good at spouting rubbish...

After this goes live I'll also post about a giveaway I'm doing alongside my reading list so if you want to win a book check it out!

Sif Sigmarsdottir - The Sharp Edge Of A Snowflake

Adrienne Young - Sky In The Deep

Bex Hogan - Viper

Christine Lynn Herman - The Devouring Gray

Kesia Lupo - We Are Blood And Thunder

P.M. Freestone - The Darkest Bloom

Rachel Burge - The Twisted Tree

Alastair Reynolds - Revenger

Lauren James - The Quiet At The End Of The World

Temi Oh - Do You Dream Of Terra-Two?

Justina Ireland - Dread Nation

Kristen Ciccarelli - The Last Namsara

Natasha Ngan - Girls Of Paper & Fire

Samantha Shannon - The Priory Of The Orange Tree

Taran Matharu - Summoner #1

Anna James - Tilly & The Bookwanderers

Yasmin Rahman - All The Things We Never Said


Bold - Read

Purple - Own 

Red - Borrow From Library

Tuesday 18 June 2019

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder - Holly Jackson

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

Oh. My. Goodness. Everybody knows how much I like my YA thrillers and I've read a lot of them over the past couple of years as they've gained in popularity but A Good Girl's Guide To Murder (GGG from here on out!) is one of the best. It's also a debut which makes its 'grab you by the throat and don't let go'-ness even more astounding! I've been incredibly lucky with my reading recently in that everything I've picked up has been good and I've read it in one go. GGG was no exception, I picked it up at about 9pm and finished it at 1.30am - that's how good it is! I literally could not put it down.

I was desperate to know who did it, was it really Salil 'Sal' Singh, the boyfriend? He confessed by text message shortly before killing himself so everyone has accepted that as the universal truth, if in doubt it's the boyfriend. Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't convinced though so chooses this as her EPQ (Extended Project Qualification - equivalent to half an A Level) and sets about trying to discover what really happened to Andie Bell. Is it just me or does everyone immediately think of Erasure or Oasis when reading the name Andie Bell? Nope? Just me then...

Going against her advisor's warning not to contact the families involved Pip contacts Ravi Singh, Sal's younger brother, who is only too happy to help Pip with her investigation when he discovers that she thinks Sal might be innocent. Pip's best friend's sister was best friends with Sal so Pip feels invested in finding the truth if only to help Sal's family but there's definitely more to this case than meets the eye. Pip and Ravi are soon totally immersed in chasing down leads, interviewing people, and generally sticking their noses into places where they really shouldn't. Pip starts to receive threats by text message telling her to drop the investigation but of course, she's not going to. It's only when tragedy strikes that she stops what she's doing to try and keep her family and friends safe.

GGG is a rollercoaster of a thriller and I tell you now, there's no point trying to guess who did it if Sal didn't. There's misdirection on every page and you're never quite sure who's telling the truth and who's not. Pip starts to doubt everything and everybody, especially as her investigation starts leading her down a dangerous path. The story switches between third person and Pip's coursework documenting her finds. There are EPQ forms, maps, drawings, and interviews with people Pip thinks know the truth, all of which add to the page-turning power of GGG and make it an even more compulsive read. It has the perfect amount of moments that will make you gasp and at times you will want to yell at Pip for putting herself in danger, it will make you laugh out loud, and it will make you cry - well, it made me cry anyway...

If you're a fan of Serial, Veronica Mars and YA thrillers then A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is well worth investing your time in. My only doubt about it is, if GGG is this good as a debut then how on earth is Holly Jackson going to improve in her next novel?

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder - Holly Jackson
ISBN - 9781405293181
Publisher - Electric Monkey
Release date - May 2nd, 2019
Source - bought in bookshop

Monday 17 June 2019

The Quiet At The End Of The World - Lauren James

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, aging community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artifacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion. 

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice...

I'm going to start this by saying I absolutely adored this book! I've loved all of Lauren's books but something about this one just stuck with me a bit more. Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people left alive on the entire planet after a virus struck causing permanent infertility and there's never been any success in finding a cure or discovering what caused it.

Lowrie is bisexual, torn between her feelings for Shen but not wanting to lose their friendship in case things don't work out, and Shen is Shen. Laidback, aware of his feelings but not pushing Lowrie, fully prepared to wait until she's ready - even if that takes forever!

I've seen this referred to as soft apocalyptic SF and I quite agree, there's no imminent danger but you do get the feeling time is running out. Everyone is carrying on as usual but after a rather shocking helicopter crash it's obvious things are starting to go wrong and it's going to be up to Shen and Lowrie to solve the problem.

The Quiet At The End Of The World is a beautiful blend of romance, science fiction, and philosophy. There's plenty of discussion about how to carry on the human race, about aliens and if they really are out there, and talk about infertility and how to solve it. There's so much to love about it, from lifeguard robots called Mitch to social media posts from the 21st century when the virus originally struck. I really liked how Lauren blended these tweets and FB messages into the main body of the story, and how Lowrie and Shen used them as a way of learning about history.

There are a couple of cracking twists in this book, which I didn't see coming, but they make the story so much more entertaining! And the nod to who Lowrie's ancestors were, and where they live, is both hilarious and jaw-dropping! I read this in one sitting, and I don't regret the lack of sleep at all. I'm looking forward to seeing what Lauren comes up with next.

The Quiet At The End Of The World - Lauren James
ISBN - 9781406375510
Publisher - Walker Books
Release date - March 7th, 2019
Source - Bought from bookshop

Sunday 16 June 2019

YALC 2019 Reading List Part 1

Yes, you can believe your eyes... I've not only finished my reading schedule but I've also made a header - go me! My reading schedule is split into two parts because, well because it's rather large! I think there are 44 authors on my list at the moment and I'm almost certain I've forgotten to add a couple too. There could well end up being a third part to this list if I have. Apart from actually putting together a reading schedule, I've also made a start on the actual reading and written some reviews. I know, what's wrong with me? Who is this strange person actually being organized? Enough with the sarcasm, here's part 1!

Ben Aaronovitch - Rivers Of London (whatever number I've got to, not the whole series!)

K.K. Perez - Sweet Black Waves

Mary Watson - The Wickerlight

Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl (#7, #8 if I have enough time)

Derek Landy - Skulduggery Pleasant: Midnight, Bedlam

Kiran Millwood Hargrave - The Deathless Girls

Sharon Doggar - Monsters

Renee Ahdieh - Flame In The Mist

Melinda Salisbury - State Of Sorrow

Sarah Maria Griffin - Other Words For Smoke

Yaba Badoe - Wolf Light

V.E. Schwab - This Savage Song

Vic James - Sanctuary

Zen Cho - Sorcerer To The Crown

Emily Barr - The Girl Who Came Out Of The Woods

Holly Jackson - A Good Girl's Guide To Murder

M.A. Bennett - The Island

Karen M. McManus - Two Can Keep A Secret


Bold - Read

Purple - Own

Red - Borrow From Library

Thursday 13 June 2019

Guest Post: Illustrating Sophie Johnson - Ella Okstad

I'd love to give a warm welcome to Ella Okstad today, who has written a great post about coming up with the initial illustrations for a new picture book series and to share some of her early sketches! I'm very much a fan of Ella's style and it's one which I admire and would love to be able to emulate!

Illustrating Sophie Johnson - Ella Okstad

When I first read the Unicorn Expert it was instantly clear to me how Sophie would look. As she is a self-confessed expert on unicorns and a detective genius it was very important to capture this in how she moves and behaves. For the Unicorn Expert, the publisher sent me a link to a John Lewis Insurance commercial video to describe her personality which I felt was really on point.

I wanted her to have a simple stripy dress and a couple of thin legs. This way it would be quite easy to mover her around. Her face is dominated by a large pair of round glasses which gives her an important look; she is, after all, an expert and it also makes room for lots of different expressions.

Whereas Sophie's look came quite instantly, the real Unicorn was a little more tricky. At first, I imagined it to be quite flamboyant with a more horse-like body and a long wavy tail and mane. Then after re-reading the text and sending a couple of emails back & forth, we decided to go with the chubby quite insecure type of unicorn. It is, after all, seeking unicorn advice from the world's best unicorn expert!


In Detective Genius, Bella the dog is always there with an attentive look keeping an eye on Sophie. She is the true detective!


The guinea pig from Unicorn Expert can be spotted a couple of times in Detective Genius. Have another look and see if you can spot it hiding in the pages!


Review Links

Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius - Morag Hood & Ella Okstad

Sophie Johnson studied very hard to become a detective and it's a good thing she did – there has been a terrible crime!

Someone has stolen Lion's tail. Unfortunately, this means that Sophie doesn't have time to train her new (and not very good) assistant, Bella.

However, is it possible that, while Sophie is busy rounding up suspects, she doesn't see that Bella may be better than she thinks?

Following on from the joy that is Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert Sophie is now a fully qualified detective! She also has an assistant, Bella the dog, who naturally isn't as good as Sophie, but there isn't anyone else to fill the position!

Lion's tail has gone missing, believed stolen, and Sophie is busy interviewing suspects and taking fingerprints. In the meantime, Bella has her nose to the ground and finds the tail long before Sophie, but Sophie remains oblivious - as usual! It's obvious who is the better detective but Sophie has had training and she sometimes eats her vegetables.

Ella's wonderful illustrations bring the story to life and the two blend together seamlessly to make a fabulous tale that any little one will enjoy. There's a touch of humor on every page and some of the animal's expressions are priceless when they're watching Sophie follow all the wrong clues and question the wrong suspects. Sophie yet again misses what is happening right under her nose but it's okay because Bella is there to save the day. Sophie might think she's smarter, more hardworking, and observant but we all know she's not, and that adds to the charm of the story.

As with Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert, this is a great book read out loud and both children and adults will enjoy something on every page. Some of the illustrated hints might need some explanation to younger children who won't quite understand what they mean but this doesn't detract from the genius that is Bella, I mean Sophie! I'm very much looking forward to Sophie Johnson's next adventure, Morag and Ella have created something special in her and I think she'll become a firm favorite. Oh, and check out the title page. It shows a row of houses and shops, and it just so happens there are a detective agency and a unicorn emporium right next door to each other!

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius - Morag Hood & Ella Okstad
ISBN - 9781471145650
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Release date - May 30th, 2019

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Weekly Wednesday #2

Here's a taste of what I've been reading, and watching, over the last week!

Currently Reading

 This is one of my YALC reads (I'm still putting together my reading schedule, at this rate it'll be time to go before I do...) and I am loving it! I follow Lauren on Instagram - cute puppy alert!!! - and Twitter and I've loved all of her books so far. This one is about the two youngest people left in the world, Shen and Lowrie, after a virus caused mass infertility and the population of London is 300.
 I absolutely love Rotherweird and this is my second re-read! I'll follow it up with a re-read of Wyntertyde, by which time Lost Acre should be out! Rotherweird is a town in the UK that is governed by the residents of Rotherweird, there are no guidebooks, and they don't particularly like strangers unless necessary...
This is Anna James' MG debut and from what I've read so far, it's Thursday Next for children. I like the 40 or so pages I've finished, and it's another book on my YALC list.

Up Next

I love Christina Henry's books and I especially love her fairy tale retellings. This is her take on Little Red Riding Hood and I can't wait to dive in. I'll be reviewing this and a couple of her others for my fairy tale series in August so keep an eye out!

New On The Shelves

 I've followed Katie on Instagram and Twitter for quite some time, her nails are a thing of beauty! I requested this one on Netgalley and wow, this book is incredible! If you liked The Secret History and The Craft I'm pretty sure you'll like The Furies!
Huge thanks to Raven Books for this one! I saw it on Netgalley so was really pleased when I was asked if I wanted to read a copy. Never Have I Ever is the story of Amy who seems to have it all, until the night a mysterious stranger joins her book club and her life starts to spiral out of control. This is out in early August so look out for a review.

On The Big Screen

I'd heard incredibly mixed reviews about Late Night, starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, but decided to ignore them and see the movie anyway. The most curious thing is that my friend and I were the only women there, and the audience seemed to consist of single men on their own... Anyway, we enjoyed the movie for what it was. I do love both Mindy and Emma but whether I'd watch it again is doubtful!

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert - Morag Hood & Ella Okstad

A very funny story about a little girl who thinks she knows all there is to know about unicorns...
Sophie Johnson is an extremely endearing new picture book character, just bursting with information and knowledge that she is keen to pass on. She’s a self-confessed unicorn expert (among other things) and has dressed up her toys and pets with their own unique horns. Strange then, that she doesn’t seem to notice the real unicorn who has come into her house...

A wonderfully humorous story, from a new picture book dream-team, about a unicorn hiding in plain sight and a little girl who is totally oblivious to his presence!

There's a certain young lady I know who is mad about unicorns, she has unicorn books by the dozen but Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert stands out from the rest of the crowd! Sophie has seventeen unicorns, from her baby brother to the family dog to her stuffed toys - nobody is safe from having a unicorn head attached to their heads!

Sophie spends a lot of time looking after her unicorns - defending them, teaching them, and most time consuming, cleaning them. She's so busy looking after them that she doesn't notice when a real unicorn joins her in all of her adventures! It's a great way of showing littles how you have to look after something.

Both text and illustrations join together to make a fun read for all little (or not so little) fans of unicorns. It's a fun book to read out loud and to be shouted at by said little ones that they can see the unicorn, followed by lots of laughter that Sophie can't, because she is the expert.

I've read several of Morag Hood's picture books with the twins and read several other books illustrated by Ella Okstad and admired both. Ella's illustrations are fantastic and very much of the style that I wish I could draw! I'd like to applaud whoever put these two together as I think it's a stroke of genius!

If you'd like to see more of Ella's beautiful illustrations check out her Instagram page! Next up in the Sophie Johnson series is Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius and I'll be sharing my review and a guest post from Ella herself about coming up with the illustrations for Sophie.

Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert - Morag Hood & Ella Okstad
ISBN - 9781471145629
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Release date - April 5th, 2018

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Weekly Wednesday #1

This is a new and hopefully regular feature on the Outsider. I really want to get back into blogging more than twice a month so fingers crossed this will help! I'll mention books I'm reading or have read, new books that may have accidentally landed on my desk, and movies that I've been watching - both big and small screen. Let's start with the books!

Currently Reading

After devouring Now You See Her I was so excited to receive a copy of Come Back For Me in the post a couple of weeks ago. An unknown body buried in the garden and a small island community is making for some tense reading! It's not out until July 11th in hardback but it came out in e-book format on June 1st, and if you hurry you can pick it up for 99p as a limited time deal on Amazon during June. I'm taking part in the blog tour so look out for my review on publication day!
Now the twins are 9 (!!!) they're reading more, especially E, so I like to check out books I think she might like. The Middler is by Kirsty Applebaum and published by the wonderful Nosy Crow. It's about Maggie, the middle child, her older brother Jed and her younger brother Trig, forbidden friendship and betrayal. I'm only about 25 pages in but loving it so far.

Up Next

This is the first of my YALC 2019 reads and I cannot wait! I loved The Wren Hunt so much, it was one of my top 10 books of 2018. In fact, I'm contemplating doing a re-read before delving into The Wickerlight but trying to create a YALC reading schedule before I decide.

On The Big Screen

 I'm off to see Dark Phoenix tomorrow, and apart from the fact that Sophie Turner is playing Jean Grey, I've managed to avoid spoilers and reviews. Really hoping this one lives up to the hype!
I saw Godzilla: King Of The Monsters yesterday and loved it! I love monster movies and will quite happily watch them for days! There was a man sitting in front of me though who obviously didn't share my love of Mothra because he alternated between playing with his phone and falling asleep and snoring - loudly...

Can't Wait For...

Hurrah! A new Jackson Brodie from one of my favorites, Kate Atkinson. This novel has been a long time coming and I always just assumed that there would be no more new Jackson stories. Very happy to be proved wrong! Extra bonus - Jason Isaacs, who played Jackson in the television adaptation, is going to be at ComicCon 2019...

Saturday 1 June 2019

Bold Lies - Rachel Lynch

An investigation leads Kelly back to her former command… and the ex who betrayed her
A brutal murder in the Lake District.
A double assassination in a secret lab in London’s west end.
Seemingly unconnected, unexpected links between the gruesome crimes emerge and it’s up to DI Kelly Porter to follow the trail – all the way to the capital.
Back amongst old colleagues and forced to work alongside her calculating ex, DCI Matt Carter, Kelly must untangle a web of deceit that stretches into the highest echelons of power. A place where secrets and lies are currency and no obstacle is insurmountable.
I have loved each and every Kelly Porter novel I've read and this means I had high expectations for book number five, Bold Lies. I wasn't the slightest bit let down! The action takes place both in the usual wonderful Lakes setting and we also head down south, to London, where Kelly's ex-partner is still working for the Met.

Three people have been murdered and another is missing, and when it's discovered that all four were colleagues working for the same pharmaceutical company in London it's time for Kelly to put aside of dislike of Matt (the ex) and try to work with him as part of a joint task force. This case though has dangerous implications for anyone connected, and that includes the police. There are government officials involved and an exclusive member's club, and you're never quite sure who to trust.

As with the previous novels and their wonderful descriptions of the Lakes where Kelly now lives and works, we also get to hear about London and her old life there, including DCI Matt Carter, who was the one that finally and unintentionally pushed her back to the Lakes to spend time with her mother, and to get to know her real father who's now semi-retired and living quite close by.

The things that make the Kelly Porter books for me are the perfect blend of professional and personal details included in every single story. It's fascinating getting to know more about the police officers investigating the crimes personally, making them more three-dimensional characters and making it easier to get hooked on what's happening. I would love to see Kelly and her team on the small screen as I think this series is crying out to be made into excellent television. Yet again I was completely pulled in by Rachel Lynch's wonderful writing and characters, it's exceptionally compulsive reading! The biggest plus point for me, having read all five books now, is getting to see how much Kelly has grown over them and how much more secure she now seems to be, both as a team leader and as a daughter/girlfriend. I only hope that this doesn't mean there are troubles ahead for her and boyfriend Johnny...
Bold Lies (Kelly Porter #5) - Rachel Lynch
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - May 27th, 2019
Find - Goodreads | Kindle UK | Google Books UK

Previous Books In The Series

Dark Game
Deep Fear
Dead End
Bitter Edge
About The Author

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Find Rachel on Twitter

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