Book Review: Hold My Hand by M.J. Ford (Spoiler-Free!)



How long do you hunt for the missing?

A horrible vanishing act…

When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared…

Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether?

And then another child disappears…


I love a crime novel, and this one was great. I read it in several sittings over the space of a few says, and I really enjoyed it. It had all my favourite aspects of a crime novel, Mystery, great characters, interesting plot, and a good writing style.

Josie, or Jo as she likes to be called, was the protagonist. I really liked her. She seemed good at her job, didn’t take anyone’s cr*p, and follows her gut, even if everyone else is telling her to just let go. She was a really well-written character, and I found it very easy to connect with her. There were also some characters that I didn’t like so much. I won’t go into it too much as I don’t want to spoil anything, but they weren’t the best.

I found the plot to be really realistic and had no trouble believing that it was something that genuinely could happen. It was written at a nice pace, and definitely kept me interested throughout the whole book. Now. The Plot Twist. I was so so so shocked, and I really want to go into more detail but I can’t because this is spoiler-free, so all I am going to say is you will not be disappointed. With Thrillers, I do this thing where I try and predict the ending. Did not see this one coming, at all.

Ford is a talented writer, and I will definitely be looking out for any future work. Overall, I give this book 4.5 stars.

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I was on the Instagram Tour for this book, so make sure you check that out! 

-Books&Belle xx

I’d like to thank Harper Collins for sending me a copy of Hold My Hand in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Harry Potter · Me

International Women’s Day – Books With Strong Female Characters

It’s 8th March, meaning it is International Women’s Day! In honour of this day, I decided to compile a list of books that feature my favourite strong, female characters. So, without further a do…

Harry Potter

Judging Books By Their Covers

Harry Potter is just full of strong female characters! Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Molly Weasley, Lily Potter, Nymphandora Tonks, Ginny Weasley, and my personal favourite, Hermione Granger. The women in Harry Potter are amazing. Even the female villains, like Bellatrix Lestrange are strong. It’s an amazing series, but the amount of strong women make it even better.

The ACOTAR Series


The protagonist, Feyre, is just one of the powerful women in this book. There’s also Mor, Amren, Nessa, Elain, and countless others. One of the things that I love so much about this series is how strong and fearless the women are.

Pride and Prejudice


Pride and Prejudice is my favourite classic novel. It’s actually the one I chose to write about in my NEA for my English A Level. Care to guess what my NEA is on? Feminism. Once I had chosen that topic, I knew Pride and Prejudice would be the book I used. Elizabeth Bennett is one of my favourite fictional characters because of her strength and determination to do as she wants, not what is expected of her.



I think Min is wonderful. She is certainly a woman who deserves to be mentioned in this post. She’s strong, brave, flawed, and just an amazing character. I’m so excited to read more about her in the sequel to Nemesis. Not long now!

I Am Thunder


I read I Am Thunder in 2017, and it was definitely one of my favourite reads of the year. Muzna faces so much and still comes out a good person. I couldn’t not feature her on this list.

Children of Blood and Bone


Children of Blood and Bone is full of powerful women! Even if they’re not the main characters, we know they’re there. Zélie’s Mother and Mama Agba, for example. The two I really wanted to mention, however, were Zélie and Amari. Their character development throughout the book is outstanding. I just love it so much.

There are so so so many more that I could mention, but then this post would be way too long. Who are your favourite strong female characters in books?

-Books&Belle xx

Blog Tours · Reviews

Blog Tour: A Review of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Spoiler-Free!) #NowWeRise



Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.


“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasnt keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back!”

This book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, so I was so happy when I got the email saying that a proof was on its way to me! The first thing that I want to say is that it did not disappoint. There was so much that I loved about it, that it is honestly difficult to put it into words. The world that Adeyemi has created is wonderful, and I thank the heavens for her brilliant, creative mind.

There has been so much hype surrounding this book, and I can say that, without a doubt, it deserves it. The switches in point of views of the different characters allows the reader to know whats going on inside the characters heads, making it even more interesting. Adeyemi’s writing style is another thing I liked about Children of Blood and Bone. It was sophisticated, and the pace of the plot was just perfect. By the time it got to the action-packed parts, I had connected with certain characters, and couldn’t stop reading as I had to know what happened next!

My favourite character was Zélie. I’m sure plenty of other people will share this opinion! She was strong, selfless, protective, loyal, and my favourite thing, flawed. No person is flawless, so I always find it hard to connect with a character who is written as a perfect person. Zélie was stubborn, reckless and a few times she spoke up when it would’ve been in her best interests to stay quiet. Her inability to stay quiet, however, was what makes her my favourite character. She knows that there might be unfortunate consequences to some of the things she does and says, but she still speaks out against what she thinks is wrong, because she knows that it is the right thing to do.

Amari was also a great character. Her character development is really something. She truly earns her nickname, The Leoponaire. The situation that she was in was truly difficult, and the choices she makes in the book really show the type of person that she is. I thought all of the characters were written really well, but Zélie and Amari in particular, were outstanding.

The plot! Gosh, what can I say about the plot? There is so much that I want to write about, but I can’t, because this is a spoiler-free review. I’m just going to say that the storyline does not disappoint at all, and leave it at that.

I grew up having so many amazing fictional characters to look up to. Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, most of the Disney Princesses, Katniss Everdeen. The fact that little girls are going to have characters like Zélie and Amari added to this list makes me so happy, as does knowing that young black girls are going to have better representation in literature.

Overall, I LOVED Children of Blood and Bone, and I am so extremely excited for the sequel. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!


I’d like to thank My Kinda Book for sending me a copy of Children of Blood and Bone in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Also, there is a quiz to find out which clan you belong to! Take it, and let me know which you are. I’m a Tider!


Blog Tours · Reviews

Blog Tour: A Review of Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler (Spoiler Free!)



During the 1980s, slashers terrorized America. With machetes and masks, these unstoppable killers stalked college campuses, quiet suburbs, and lakeside cabins.

Thirty years ago, Bobbi Metzger survived a massacre at her 16th birthday party. She spent decades putting her life back together.

Tonight, Bobbi will face a new killer: a high-tech slasher hell-bent on opening the doorway to an abyss of unimaginable horror.

How long can Bobbi survive this nightmare? What will she do to protect the people she loves? How much blood is she willing to spill?

If you love 80’s slasher flicks like Friday the 13 th or Sleepaway Camp, this book’s for you!

Warning: This book contains extreme gore and violence. Not for the faint of heart!

Add to Goodreads


It has been so long since I’ve read a Horror. I genuinely can not recall what the last one was! Mask Beneath Her Face has certainly been the book to get me back into them. It had me on the edge of my seat at times, wondering what the hell was going to happen.

Chandler’s writing was good. It kept me interested throughout the whole book, and the characters are well written and unique. I think that the pace was a little slow at times, but other than this, the writing and the plot was very enjoyable.

Like the warning said, there is a lot of violence in this book, so if thats something that you don’t cope with well, I’d give it a miss. However, if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you, I definitely recommend it! If you’re also a fan of Horror/Slasher films, you’ll love this. It’s gory and descriptive, but not overly so, in my opinion.

Although the characters were well written, and there were some very interesting back stories, I didn’t find myself connecting with any of them as much as I had hoped that I would. Obviously I cared what happened to them, but not to the extent that I had to keep reading to know what happens.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It has definitely got me back into reading Horror. I give it 4 stars.

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About The Author


Rafael Chandler writes novels (Hexcommunicated, The Astounding Antagonists), video games (SOCOM 4, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, MAG), and tabletop role-playing games (Teratic Tome, Lusus Naturae). He’s a metalhead, a kaijuphile, and a gorehound.

Purchase link

Author site




Giveaway: Enter for your chance to win a print copy of Mask Beneath Her Face or 1 of 5 digital copies

Tour organised by:


-Books&Belle xx

Blog Tours

Blog Tour: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel (Excerpt!)

MSF High Res Cover


A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a
Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack.
She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously
throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates
truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances
and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-
provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for


I was brushing my teeth the next morning when Alexa called, crying over another nasty phone call from her ex. I was running late as it was but was unable to stop her barrage of insults against a man I didn’t even know the name of.
‘He’s driving me absolutely insane. I’ve really had enough,’ I heard her shout, the heels of her shoes clicking on the pavement. She was clearly on her way to work while I was only slipping my feet into my shoes. It had been her second frantic call that morning.
‘Listen. Alexa, calm down. I understand you’re upset but I’ll be late if you don’t stop.’
‘I’m there for you when you need me but when I’m the one in need for once, you fob me off. Great, really nice, thanks.’ She hung up, leaving me in an angry sweat. I was her polar opposite – organized and calm – but lately I felt out of kilter myself. I’d missed out on seeing my mum because, for one reason or another, Alexa managed to ambush my
When I eventually rushed through the office door, Alexa was looking up at me indifferently, in deep conversation with Jack, who tapped his watch with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. I lowered my eyes, my stomach heaving with repressed fury. Alexa had crawled under my skin yet I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why and how it had all come about.
I hid in the ladies’ toilets, panic rising to my throat, and utterly lost for words. I realised that if it had been Alexa running off, I’d have made sure I was giving her moral support, coaxing her back to work. Where was she now that I needed her? Was I getting hysterical, losing the plot?

About the Author

HA Leuschel
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate
in Journalism &Communication, which led to a career in radio and
television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her
husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of
Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind.
When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and
teaches Yoga.

Author Links




Buy it here

Tour organised by:


-Books&Belle xx


Blog Tour: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Spoiler-Free!)



When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…


I’m one of the stops on the blog tour for The Duchess Deal, which I’m really happy about! The synopsis really intrigued me, so I couldn’t wait to start reading. It took me roughly two days to get through this book, and I found it to be a really enjoyable read.

The two main characters, Emma and the Duke, were wonderful. Emma was my favourite, though. She was nearly everything I love in a character, selfless, strong, caring and loyal. The only thing that I didn’t like too much about her was her naivety when it came to men. But the reasoning behind her being this way is revealed later in the book, so I was able to overlook it. The Duke was… a bit of a grey area for me. He was injured at war, and was left scarred, and very bitter at the world.  But by the end of the book, the parts of him I wasn’t keen on at the start, I ended up finding endearing, and I understood why he felt and acted in certain ways a lot better.

The plot was very fast paced, which is good if you’re looking for a fast read. I felt it was lacking a bit in terms of excitement, but it was still a good read. There are a few erotic scenes, but they’re not overdone, and I didn’t have to skip them like I have with previous books due to them being too cringey. In fact, I felt that they helped show the audience why Ash was the way he was.

Overall, I enjoyed The Duchess Deal, and I’d recommend it if you like period romances, and a fast paced plot. I give it four stars.

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I’d like to thank Mills & Boon for sending me a copy of The Duchess Deal in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

-Books&Belle xx


Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (Spoiler-Free!)



A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.


As soon as I heard about this book, I knew it was one I wanted to read. With a Muslim teenage girl who faces Islamophobia as the main character, I thought it was really relevant to todays society.

I thought Ahmed’s writing style was really good, she kept me hooked, and I thought the little snippets from the mystery person at the end of each chapter were really intriguing. The Islamophobia was also well written. It made me so angry to read, I genuinely couldn’t comprehend how some of the characters could think that way about someone they’d known their whole lives. The fact that it made me, the reader, feel this way shows just how well represented it is.

Maya was such a sweet character. Most of the time! I really felt for her with her struggle between doing what she wanted with her life, and doing what her parents had plannedfor her. Her determination was admirable. I think any person who has to deal with bigoted, racist, ignorant a**holes in their everyday life is a very strong person, and to see Muslims and their struggles being represented in YA books is wonderful.

The only downside to this book, for me, was the romance. It was about 50/50 romance and then Maya’s problems with her parents. The balance was good, but I didn’t like how she didn’t have any problems with having secret meetings with a guy who has a girlfriend. It was just a bit of a no-go area for me. Other than that, I really enjoyed the romance.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. It’s the second book I’ve read that has a teenage Muslim as the protagonist, and I can’t wait to read more. (If you know of any, feel free to comment!) I think that the issues this book covers are so important, as is the representation. I give this book 4 stars.

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I’d like to thank Readers First for sending me a copy of Love, Hate & Other Filters in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


This Or That Tag

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 15.51.28

I haven’t done a tag in a while, so thank you Ash for tagging me!

The Rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag (Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks).
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you!
  • Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  • Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!

Without further ado, the tag.


Reading on the couch or on the bed?
I don’t mind either, but I am more likely to read in bed. There’s nearly always people in the living room, and I can’t read when the TV is on or if I can hear people talking, as it distracts me.

Male main character or female main character?
Female. I think it’s because I can relate to them easier than I can to a male character.

Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading?
Hmm. I’d say that depends on what I’m in the mood for!

Trilogies or quartets?

First person point of view or third person point of view?
Either one is fine by me, I’m not too bothered as long as the book is well written.

Reading at night or in the morning?
I never have the time in the morning! I’m up at 7, and out at 8 in the week, and then on weekends I either lie in, or I’m busy. So definitely night.

Libraries or bookstores?
Bookstores. I know this makes me sound terrible, but I actually rarely go to the library. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love them, how could I not, they’re full of books! But I like to keep my books. I guess you could say I’m building up a library of my own.

Books that make you laugh or make you cry?
Again, this depends on my mood!

Black book covers or white book covers?
Never really thought of this before, but I guess black. I don’t really have a reason why. Although Ash did make a good point, white books get marked quite easily.

Character driven or plot driven stories?
I like my books with a bit of both. If I can’t connect to the characters, I don’t feel attached the the book. But if the plot isn’t the best, then it’s just not memorable.


I Tag:

Anyone who wants to do this tag!

-Books&Belle xx


Reading Slumps – Aren’t They The Worst?

For any bookworm, getting stuck in a reading slump feels similar to how I imagine torture would feel. I want to read, I really really really want to read. I just can’t. When I’m in a reading slump, anytime I pick up a book I get distracted by something else. For example, Grey’s Anatomy, or I’ll decide I’m hungry, or I’ll decide it’s a good time to go argue with my younger sister. The smallest things will distract me! In the last few months, I’ve been in a few reading slumps. So for this post, I thought I’d tell you how I get out of them, and hopefully it’ll be helpful.

1. Set myself targets

The first thing I’ll do is set myself small targets. Even if it’s just a chapter or two a day to get myself back into the flow of things. More often than not, this works for me, as when I start a good book, I need to know what happens.

2. Read a small book

I often find reading a small book helps. They nearly always have a faster pace, so I’m less likely to get distracted by things going on around me as less time is spent reading ‘filler chapters.’

3. Browse Goodreads

Whenever I go on Goodreads, I end up adding a book to my TBR. I find adding even more to that ever growing list often makes me want to get through it a bit faster, so I’ll turn back to my reading.

4. Read one of my most anticipated reads

A lot of my anticipated reads are already on my shelf. For example, Children of Blood and Bone and Love, Hate and Other Filters. But, I just haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. So picking up one of these usually gets me back to reading.

5. Give myself a few days

If all else fails, I’ll give myself a few days of not reading. This always works for me, as I know I’ll be back to devouring book after book within a week!


I hope some of my methods might help some others in the future. What do you do to get out of a reading slump?

-Books&Belle xx


Book Review: Aaru by David Meredith (Spoiler-Free!)



“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.


Warning: there are mentions of sexual assault and pedophilia in this book.

I’m going to start off by saying this was an interesting read. When I first read the synopsis, I was certainly intrigued by the concept. Living forever in a paradise free from disease, death and despair? Definitely sounds like the place to be. So, whilst I didn’t fly through this book, needing to read just one more chapter, it was a good read.

The plot was a good pace. It didn’t jump straight into it, but it also didn’t long it out more than was necessary. I also liked the switching of the point of views from Koren’s perspective in real life, to Rose’s perspective in Aaru, and the mysterious ‘Magic Mans.’ It was interesting to know what each of them were thinking and feeling, and the mystery surrounding the Magic Man’s identity and intentions was really well written.

The plot, whilst a little predictable at some points, was also great. It’s certainly unique, and I, personally, haven’t read anything like it before. The only thing that did catch me off guard and make me a bit uncomfortable was the way Koren Johnson, a thirteen year old girl, was described by certain characters. I know there is a major problem with the sexualising of young celebrities, so I suppose highlighting that issue was necessary to make the plot more realistic. However, it went further than that, and I do wish I had known beforehand. If this is something that might be triggering to you, I’d give this one a miss. However, there is a lot more to the story line, and if mystery, fantasy and technology is your thing, you might like this one.

Before ending my review, I want to applaud David Meredith on creating such an interesting concept with Aaru. I think writing a character like the Magic Man would’ve been incredibly challenging, so the fact that he was able to create a character like him that inspires so many emotions (hatred, for me) is brilliant. Whilst Aaru wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, it was certainly a memorable one.

Overall, I give this book 3 stars.


-Books&Belle xx

I’d like to thank David Meredith for sending me a copy of Aaru in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.