ARC Review | One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

The Breakfast Club with a murder. What’s not to like? 4/5.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. M. McManus

Thank you to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. One Of Us Is Lying is published tomorrow, June 1st.

The blurb:  Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

My take:

I can imagine the pitch for this book: “The Breakfast Club set in 2016, but the nerd dies and the other 4 are suspects”. As high-concept pitches go, that’s a cracker.

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Review | The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

3/5 stars

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

The blurb: Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners. But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.

My take:

I want to stress that I’ve given this book 3 stars – which for me is a “good” rating – because overall it was enjoyable. What follows may sound like I’ve listed everything I didn’t like about it, so I want to start by saying I’m not trying to put you off and I’m sure there will be many readers who will love this story!

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Recipe | After Eight mint chocolate muffins

Delicious, easy-to-make After Eight mint chocolate muffins!

Simple After Eight mint chocolate muffins recipe uk

My only tip for this recipe would be to make sure to keep some chocolate out of the mixture and pop it on top of each muffin before they go in the oven. Most of the chocolate will sink to the bottom of the muffin, so don’t skip this step if you want a better distribution of After Eight mint chocolate and some on the top.

Ingredients (makes 12 After Eight mint chocolate muffins)

Wait! There’s more. Click for the recipe and more photos!

Review (spoiler-free) | Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

 4/5 stars

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Thank you to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.

The blurb: I won’t post the blurb for book 2 here because it contains spoilers for Book 1: Sleeping Giants (click for my review which features the blurb for book 1). Enough to say that this series features mysterious, giant alien robots and the team of people trying to figure out what they’re doing on Earth.

My (spoiler-free) take:

It’s nearly a year since I read and reviewed the first of the “Themis Files”: Sleeping Giants. I enjoyed the way that book told its story, giving us information through interview transcripts, letters and reports. Waking Gods uses the same methods and returns to the same characters as book 1, but I didn’t enjoy this installment quite as much as the first. Perhaps some of the novelty of the form has worn off? That said, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to enjoy and appreciate in Waking Gods and if you liked Sleeping Giants I highly recommend you get a copy of the sequel.

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Recipe | Pink and white iced finger buns

Not bad for a first attempt at baking something bready!

pretty pink and white iced finger buns recipe uk

After my attempt to make bread a few months back was fairly successful, I returned to The Big Book of Bread to find a finger bun recipe. They didn’t have one, so I used the one for “Devonshire splits”, figuring that a sweet bun recipe is just that and I could roll the dough into long shapes rather than rounds.

All-in-all I was pleased with the results although, when I make these again, I think I’ll leave the dough to prove for even longer because I’d like the end result to be a little lighter.

Ingredients (makes 10-12 finger buns depending on how big you make them)

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ARC Review | The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

An insight into one teenager’s life with Asperger’s. 4/5.

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

Thank you to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. The State of Grace is published this Thursday, 6th April.

The blurb: Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more.

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically honest, The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas is a heart-warming story of one girl trying to work out where she fits in, and whether she even wants to.

My take:

Being a teenager is complicated for most of us. Navigating a world of mean-girl politics, annoying parents, evil teachers and a new interest in boys and/or girls, all while in the middle of a hormone storm, is a tricky business. Add to this a lack of sensory filter and a difficulty picking up the non-verbal cues most of us read without trying, and you have an idea of the world in which Grace is doing her best to get by.

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Easter baking and spring recipe ideas, featuring mini eggs and lots of chocolate!

Rather than post a new recipe this week, here’s a round-up of a few recipes which are ideal for Easter and/or to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Click on the recipe title or any of the images to go to the recipe.

chocolate eggs

4. Double chocolate Easter cake with chocolate buttercream and mini eggs

Chocolate easter and spring season cake. Two layer chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream filling and green grass topping frosting decorations with eggs 5

Continue reading for more baking pics!

Review | The One by John Marrs

Undeniably gripping, but lacking heart. 3.5/5 stars.

The One by John Marrs

A huge thank you to Inge over at The Belgian Reviewer for my copy of The One which I won in her recent giveaway. Thank you!

The blurb: How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

My take:

This book is a true page-turner. The story is told from five different character viewpoints in short, alternating chapters, meaning there is always enough going on to keep the reader interested. Each chapter moves one of the character’s stories forward to a cliffhanger before switching cruelly to the next. This method makes it hard to put the book down, particularly if you’re more invested in one or two of the stories than the others as you are driven to read quickly to get back to your favourite plot strands.

Cutting rapidly between different viewpoints is also a great way to keep the reader in the dark, and the book certainly delivers on surprises and twists.

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Recipe | Lemon drizzle cupcakes

These lemon drizzle cupcakes are just about perfect.

Baking with kids lemon drizzle cupcakes uk

These lemon drizzle cupcakes are light and fluffy while also moist and tangy. They’re just about perfect and very easy to make.

I adapted the recipe from Mary Berry’s lemon drizzle traybake recipe. So if you want to make a bigger cake, you might want to take a look at Mary’s original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz / 115 g butter at room temperature or baking margarine straight from the fridge
  • 4 oz / 115 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Finely-grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 oz / 140 g self-raising flour, sifted

For the glaze

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 oz / 85 g granulated or caster sugar

Method

Wait!There’s more. Click for the rest of the recipe and more lovely pics!

Review | The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

I hope Spielberg has already optioned this. 4.5/5.

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Thank you to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. The Impossible Fortress is already available to purchase in ebook form.

The blurb: It’s 1987. Billy Marvin, the tallest boy in ninth grade, has just witnessed history. Wheel of Fortune presenter Vanna White is on the cover of Playboy. Billy and his friends, Alf and Clark, know that if they can get hold of the magazine, their world will change. For ever.

But as Billy says, ‘No shopkeeper in America was going to sell Playboy to a fourteen-year-old boy.’

As they set out on their mission to find the most wanted images in America, they’re blissfully unaware of the dangers, dramas and garbage dumpsters that lie ahead. And of how a girl called Mary might just change one of their lives. For ever.

My take:

When I first saw this book on NetGalley, all it took was a quick read of the blurb to convince me I would enjoy it. I knew I had slim chance of getting a copy from the US publisher, but I gave it a try… and failed. Cue bitter disappointment. So obviously I was thrilled when the UK publisher approved my request and it turns out my hunch was correct: The Impossible Fortress is delightful.

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