Cruel Summer by James Dawson- Review

Author: James Dawson

Publisher: Indigo

Publishing Date: August 1st 2013

Blurb Description: A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Jane was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…

A compelling and psychological thriller - with a dash of romance.

My Review:

If you were to see them heading to the immaculate, pristine, exclusively blue and white villa, the first thought to cross your head would be that they were movie stars, or models, but perfect either way.

Then again, the way I see it, perfection is just an illusion, a disguise to keep strangers from looking into the horror inside. For no one’s perfect- Not really anyway.

 If you were to see them heading to the villa, you would never guess that this group of beautiful, regal teenagers was broken; separated in ways that hold them apart and yet will force them to remain bound together for all of eternity. Irrevocably damaged, just under the surface, but covered up, so that nobody will ever guess. The tragedy that changed their lives an entire year ago, the one that marked them forever, is back to haunt them once again…

And now, all The Good Girl, The Ex- Bad Girl, The Nerd, The Jock, The Drama- Guy, The New Girl and one unexpected,  unwelcome guest can do is try to piece together what happened that one fateful night, from when all their lives have been on a downward spiral. That one fateful, horrific night when a member of their close knit took the leap into oblivion. Or did she?

With evidence that the girl who was declared to have committed suicide, really didn’t, and a blackmailer claiming to have dirt on pretty much everyone in the secluded palace, life seems just as bleak compared to a year ago, when all they could do was wait, painfully- not smile, not laugh, not live- to find out what happened to their friend. But this killer is ruthless, will stop at nothing, and the worst part, he/ she is in the very same house.

He’d assumed Janey’s death was the finale. Turned out, it was only the beginning…” 

As their relationships teeter on the edge, trying to cover up something they should've never done in the first place, the most unexpected of people get thrown together. The LGBT aspect of the book was so different from others I've read, and was a vital, beautiful, heart wrenching part of the tale, although only highlighted when we near the end.
Ryan's method of treating everything like it was a TV show, was a uniquely brilliant way to get the reader further into the book, without missing out on anything!
With secrets that have the potential to shock, and original, charismatic characters that seem to be too good to be true, Cruel Summer is indeed, to quote the blurb, the PERFECT summer read!
Dawson's ability to hold on to a murder and make you wonder, sitting at the edge, who did it, and keep up the humour, drama and romance at the same time is simply, uncannily brilliant!
There were SO many times I just HAD to put the book down to take a breather, so that I could process what had just happened – there were just about a million twists that you will Never. See. Coming.

My Verdict: 
Need I say, READ IT!! 5 golden stars!

Top Ten Tuesday (#1)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

Hey Guys!
Okay, so basically, last week, I had posted my very first Stacking The Shelves and I absolutely LOVED how many new people I got to connect with. So, here I am, with another weekly meme- Top Ten Tuesday!
This week's topic is: 

Top ten books i really want to read but don't own yet

I'll Give You the Sun
Jandy Nelson, you are a goddess. The Sky is Everywhere is my absolute favorite book and I am SO desperately waiting for this to release!

So, basically, I read a review on The Guardian Children's Website that managed to convince me that to really feel so much that I would feel numb, I MUST read this book- and I've been looking for an opportunity ever since!

So, in all honesty, I've DEFINITELY read this series- but I don't own even a single book- and I really want them- I just never get around to buying them!

Maybe One DayThis sounds BRILLIANT! I had a really close friend who fought with lymphoma, and I while it was hard for everyone, and sometimes the situation never having the right answer- I would love to see all of those emotions portrayed in a book! Executed well, and I would have to put it to the top of my favorite list!

Uhh, YES, Please! A brilliant tale that sound just like M. Anjelais's Breaking Butterflies and I would love the chance to get my hands on it!

GIVEAWAY: Personal Statement by Jason Odell Williams

Author: Jason Odell Williams
Publisher: In This Together Media
Publication Date: August 1st 2013
Blurb Description: Getting into college has never been harder. Can't rely on a perfect SAT score or a 5 on your AP Mandarin exam anymore. And field hockey and basketball? Please. The real sport is Volunteering. Change the world—and tell Harvard all about it.

In Emmy Award nominee Jason Odell Williams’ hilarious first novel, PERSONAL STATEMENT, it’s open season on admissions—and a Category-3 hurricane is headed for Connecticut. Self-proclaimed tiger-daughter Emily Kim drags her best friend, apathetic test-taking genius Rani Caldwell, to the coastal town of Cawdor, where Emily’s sure her humanitarian efforts will make her Harvard application stand out from the pack. 

Problem is: so does everyone else.

When Emily and Rani arrive, hundreds of other teenagers—including Robert Clinton III, gay, black and meant for the Sorbonne—are already in Cawdor with the same idea. Observing the battle royale is Alexis J. Gould, aide to the Governor and a veteran of the college admissions rat race. To the kids in Cawdor, it’s not a natural disaster. It’s an opportunity. Let the games begin! 

So, as some of you may know, I reviewed Personal Statement by Jason Odell Williams a few weeks ago. The publisher, Saira Rao has kindly offered up two ebooks for a giveaway- and the widget is below!

Good Luck!

Oh, And the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!

Just one more thing: For more about the book- read my 5 Starred review here: Personal Statement


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stacking The Shelves (#1)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It gives us a chance to share with readers what we bought, borrowed, swapped, won or got for review each week. 

First, I should probably say that this is the first time I collected my thoughts enough to actually post a Stacking The Shelves post. And I am SO excited! FUN, FUN, FUN.

Well, for now, I don't have my own Stacking the Shelves graphic yet, so I'm going to use the original/ official one from Tynga's Reviews.

Onto the books!


1. The Walled City by Ryan Graudin: (ARC- November 2014)

The Walled City sounds super fascinating- a mixture of Claire McFall's Bombmaker and Abi Ketner's and Melissa Kalicicki's Branded and I can't WAIT to get to it

Courtesy: Guardian Children's Books for review

2. Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis (Firefly Press)

Courtesy: Guardian Children's Books for review

3. Minty by Christina Banach

Courtesy: Christina Banach as a Thank You! (Right back at you, Christina!- and your little message inside plastered a HUGE smile on my face!)

4. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaria:

I suppose that Love Letters is specifically new only to my physical shelf- I got the chance to read an ARC back in January- but it was just one of those books that I had to end up buying a paperback off!

5. Entangled by Cat Clarke

6. There is no Dog by Meg Rosoff

7. Out of my mind by Sharon Draper

Courtesy: My Darling Brother- just for fun! (He sort of owed me- you know how that goes:P)


Finding Mr. Darcy by Erin Butler (For a blog tour review)

Hope for Garbage by Alex Tully (From the author- for review)

A Safe Space by E.M.Tippets (Via Netgalley)

Which brings me to the end of my VERY FIRST Stacking The Shelves. So, my birthday is coming up in two weeks and there will DEFINITELY be another haul in then- from all my brilliant friends!

See you then!

BLOG TOUR: Ascension of the Whyte by Karen Wrighton- Review & Guest Post & GIVEAWAY

Author: Karen Wrighton
Title: Ascension of the Whyte (The Afterland Chronicles #1)
Format: E-book
Pages: 326
Published: 9th June 2014
Blurb Description:
Sara Carson did not believe in life after death, Heaven, Hell or even reincarnation. However, what she didn't know was that some of us are special. For some of us, death is just the beginning of our next great adventure. Sara Carson was one of those special people, and her most incredible journey did not begin, until the day she died.
A magical début novel that will leave you breathless.

 Goodreads  ** Amazon

 Author Information
Karen Wrighton was born in a small town in the English county of Staffordshire and
began writing prolifically and drawing from a young age. Karen trained as a Psychologist
and Teacher before finally finding the time to pursue her love of writing, firstly by
creating a successful Psychology blog and now by writing her first novel.

 Karen's début novel 'Ascension of the Whyte' is a magical epic fantasy novel for young
adults and is to be the first book of the 'The Afterland Chronicles' series.
Karen's style is strongly influenced by the books she loves to read, such as Lord of
the Rings and Harry Potter. This is evidenced by the magical quality that pervades her

Karen has two daughters and lives in Norfolk, England with her husband John.

To find out more about Karen and her book, or follow her on social networks click on the
links below.

Author Links


On Writing and Plotting
By Karen Wrighton

Writing this book came quite naturally to me, in fact I would say that the book seemed to write itself, but it didn't so much write itself as evolve, almost in true Darwinian fashion. It all started with a car journey, my daily commute, which is a long and tedious three hour journey through Norfolk's slow, tractor ridden country lanes. 

I had been thinking about writing a book for some time and my computer was filled with half written manuscripts and plot ideas. On this day though I had just finished reading John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars the night before and I was thinking about the bravery of the young people and how they were both so desperate to discover what had happened to a character in the story they were reading, who they believed had died, but didn’t really know for sure because the author had left the ending open.  I started to think, well maybe death did not have to be the end of the story. After all it was a story, so really anything could happen!

Then as I was driving I was gifted an idea by my active imagination. The image of a young girl swam into my mind. It was her first day of high school and she was walking out of school excitedly planning to attend a party with her friend, full of life, hopes, dreams and expectations and then something catastrophic happens, she is hit by a lorry and killed. The end of everything she had planned, but what if that was not the end of the book, I thought, what if it was the beginning of an adventure.

That was the genesis of the story and before I arrived at work that day I had the framework solidly in my head. I knew the beginning, I had a great idea for a plot and I knew how I wanted it to end. So now all I had to do was plan and write it. Phew, that sounds easy when you say it quickly, but in fact I was just about to embark on the most difficult, though possibly the most enjoyable part of this journey into authorship - planning and writing the story. 

When I plan the ideas come first, mainly I just make things up using my imagination, sometimes I get ideas from things I see, hear or read about and sometimes they come from trying to solve a problem that the plot has thrown up.

The research comes next and usually the research gives me more ideas about how I can weave the information or characters into my story. For example I needed a method of communication in the Afterlands, J K Rowling had her owls, but I was loath to use birds as well, so I looked into
communication in animals and came across the bee and how bees communicated with each other through dance. 

 I had already decided that some of my characters would be able to communicate with animals as well as to transform into them, so the bee made a brilliant messenger. I later discovered that bees have long been associated with magic, which I took as a sign that I had made the right choice.

Almost all of my planning and writing evolves in this fluid way. My characters regularly take me places that I hadn't intended to go. Originally I had two villains, Ka and Phlegon, but I soon realised that they were both such strong characters that the book wouldn't work with both of them in it. This gave me a big headache for a week or so until, again on my commute to work, I thought that instead of killing one of them off and losing a great character what if somehow I was able to combine the two of them together. Phlegon was made from Fyre so I was thinking of some type of mechanism for melding or forging them together and so I did some research and discovered how a crucible works and then the process of assimilation was born. 

I don't think I could ever be organised enough to sit down and plan every detail of the story before I put pen to paper and anyway, I would soon get bored. I like to build interesting characters that take me to unexpected places and do unexpected things. It is this that keeps me engaged with the story and hopefully it’s what keeps my readers engrossed too. 

If I were to explain to you how I plot ‘in a nutshell’, I would say that plotting for me is seventy percent character driven, twenty percent research driven, ten percent plot driven and mostly takes place in the land of my imagination, while driving through the Norfolk countryside behind a tractor travelling at 20 miles per hour. 


So, when I read the blurb- I expected what anybody would expect. A story on the afterlife- maybe something similar to Meg Cabot's latest series. Instead, I got something MUCH, MUCH better!

Alright, despite all the technical terms, and the fact that I had to go back and read the beginning two times over to really get what was going on, this book was, in one word- BRILLIANT!

Karen Wrighton has the ability to imagine like no one else does- I was so astounded with the depth of the writing, the various lands of the Ascendants, and, just simply how beautifully everything was planned out.

Fine, now, instead of me babbling incoherently, I should probably give you a gist of what the book really is about. Well, in a special version of the Afterlife, called the Afterlands, there live people- not so ordinary ones like you and me, but ones capable of more- mentally and well, magically. There are natives, that live and die like us and then there are the Ascendants. The immortal- save for a few venoms- Golds, Muds, Bloods and the Whytes (whom were previously extinct- for lack of a better way to describe them)

Rose Whyte is the first Whyte to ascend in over a millenium, starting up an ancient prophecy that threatens war on all the realm- and the loss of everything they've established. 

And that's all you need to know. This book was brilliant (yet again) and I could babble on (again) but I feel that it would make this masterpiece lose it's magic. So, you know...

My Verdict: