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Monday, March 24, 2014

Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri

Title: Jewel of the Thames
Author: Angela Misri

Release Date: 25th March 2014

My Rating: 4/5

There’s a new detective at 221 Baker Street.

Set against the background of 1930s England, Jewel of the Thames introduces Portia Adams, a budding detective with an interesting, and somewhat mysterious, heritage.

Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There’s nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia puzzles over why she was left in the care of the extravagant Mrs. Jones but doesn’t have long to dwell on it before she is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her new guardian. Once there Portia discovers that she has inherited 221 Baker Street, the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Portia settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, including the handsome and charming Brian Dawes. She also finds herself entangled in three cases: the first involving stolen jewellery, the second a sick judge and the final case revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.

In a Nutshell:
I can’t get enough of the current Sherlock Holmes-inspired stories currently coming out and Jewel of the Thames is a worthy addition to the bunch. This time we get to follow 19-year-old Portia Adams, an astutely aware and observant girl who discovers she is the granddaughter of Sherlock’s other half, Dr. Watson. Already a budding detective, we follow Portia as her curiosity and desire to solve mysteries sees her assisting Scotland Yard on a number of unsolved cases.

My Review:
You may have noticed recently that there have been a string of books and TV shows that have found a way to keep the Sherlock Holmes stories alive. Each has their own merit and takes inspiration from the famous fictional duo that was Holmes and Dr. John Watson.

Jewel of the Thames is yet another however it focuses not on more Holmes and Watson adventures, but that of Watson's granddaughter.

It's 1930 and nineteen year old Portia Adams has an astute mind for details and a keen interest in investigation and mystery. Upon arriving in London, Portia discovers the property she is now the owner of is none other than the famous offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and that she is the granddaughter of the deceased doctor. Hungry for knowledge not just of her grandfather but of law and investigative techniques, Portia pours over her grandfather’s old casebooks now in her possession, as well as studying law at Somerville College with financial assistance from her new guardian, the mysterious and wealthy Mrs Jones.

Throughout the novel, Portia’s curiosity is peaked by London’s current unsolved crimes and takes it upon herself to delve into cases and do a little investigating of her own. She is assisted by the charming Constable Dawes, her downstairs neighbour, and Chief Inspector Archer of Scotland Yard, who is also her college professor. Both are impressed with her remarkable deductive and inductive skills, and intrigued by her heritage and intuitiveness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this new spin on the Holmes and Watson stories and envied Portia’s detective skills throughout the novel. One of the draw cards to the crime genre is trying to solve the mystery yourself as the protagonist works through the details. There is also plenty of intrigue outside the cases concerning Portia’s own life as she searches for more information about her family, her slow blossoming friendship and attraction to Constable Dawes, and the mysteries that begin to surround her guardian.

I really look forward to reading further stories featuring Portia and seeing the ramifications of what was revealed to her at the end of the book.


As one of the stops on the Jewel of the Thames Blog Tour, I have an ebook copy of the novel to giveaway.

To enter, please comment below with your email address and share what Sherlock-inspired stories you are currently enjoying (or any other YA mystery you think we should all read!).

Please note, at request of the publisher, this giveaway is NOT open to residents of the UK.
Giveaway closes 14th April 2014.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Inky Awards Longlist Announced!

I am super excited to share with you the 2014 long-list for the Gold (Aussie) and Silver (International) Inky Awards, presented by the Centre for Youth Literature.


All This Could End by Steph Bowe
Steal My Sunshine by Emily Gale
The Whole of My World by Nicole Hayes
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near
Run by Tim Sinclair


All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
When We Wake by Karen Healey
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron
Winger by Andrew Smith
Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith
Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

While I would like to offer a massive congratulations to all the authors who have been long-listed, I would also like to do special shout-outs to: AJ Betts, Emily Gale, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Claire Zorn, Trish Doller, David Levithan, Emma Pass and Hilary T. Smith.

Unfortunately I haven't read nearly as many of these as I wish I had (you can click on the green titles to read my review). In fact, many of these have been sitting in my TBR pile patiently waiting for me to shower them with love. I know their time will come. In the meantime, I'd love to hear which ones you love and which ones you are still hanging out to read!

The short-listed titles will be announced sometime in August and the winners will be announced 21st October 2014.

For more information and to see how you can become a judge, you can stay up-to-date over at Inside A Dog.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Title: Me Since You
Author: Laura Wiess

Release Date: 18th February 2014

My Rating: 5/5

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?

In A Nutshell:
Me Since You is a raw and honest portrayal of grief and depression. It is the story of a family’s struggle to hold it all together when their life has been ripped apart and the special people who stick around hoping to eventually see a smile or ray of sunshine shine through once again.

My Review:
When a book so perfectly reflects real life emotions, how can you fault it? Me Since You will take hold of your heart and squeeze it until you feel as though you can no longer breathe. Just like the characters, you will cry until you didn't think it was possible to cry anymore. And then you’ll cry some more.

Me Since You is one of the most emotionally draining books I have ever read yet it is so beautiful and real in how it portrays depression and grief and everything that comes with the territory. After a heartbreaking tragedy strikes Rowen’s small town, the events that follow directly change the course of her and her family’s life. There are snide comments and vicious opinions, a town reeling from the devastating effects of suicide, the spiralling depression that engulfs Rowen’s father, and the anger and resentment felt through not understanding mental health issues. There’s the wishing that everything can just go back to the way it was, the confusion, the hurt, the pain, and the hole that is left when someone is suddenly gone.

The novel carefully examines how families, immediate and extended, are effected and how everyone grieves differently. Friendships can crumble or grow stronger depending on how individuals react and understand the process when everything in life changes and there is no easy answer as to how or when to move on. There is also a strong element recognising the healing power of animals and the love and bond between humans and four-legged friends. While I do not have personal experience in the types of tragedy Rowen lives, I do know something about grief and while this book will demand that you have a box of tissues next to you, for at least half the book, it will leave you a better, more understanding person for reading it.

Me Since You is a raw and honest portrayal of grief and depression. It is the story of a family’s struggle to hold it all together when their life has been ripped apart and the special people who stick around hoping to eventually see a smile or ray of sunshine shine through once again.
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