Tuesday, 30 April 2013

April review

A odd month for me reading wise. I spent a third of it reading and reviewing like a lunatic, a third reading but actively not reviewing anything and a third where I barely read anything. I bet you can guess which bit of the month was the one where I was off work! If I'm honest at the moment I'm struggling to get anything read. I'm feeling quite overwhelmed with 2nd / 3rd books in a series where I can't remember the first books well enough to be able to carry on with the series and been left with the dilemma of needing to find time to reread or just giving up the series completely. I think I'm also really struggling with samey NA titles from US authors. Seriously considering giving those up too! On the plus side my insane reading binge has given me a chance to really clear down my TBR piles meaning I am now only left with some very very exciting titles I am desperate to read.

Books Read
63) Parallel by Lauren Miller
64) Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff
65) Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman (British Books Challenge)
66) Everything is fine by Cathy Brett (British Books Challenge)
67) Irina by Sarra Manning (British Books Challenge)
68) Follow me down by Tanya Byrne (British Books Challenge)
69) In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
70) The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross
71) Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles
72) This is was happy looks like by Jennifer E Smith
73) Candy by Sarra Manning (British Books Challenge)
74) Origins: The Fire by Debra Driza
75) Heroic by Phil Earle (British Books Challenge)
76) Forbidden by Tabitha Suzama (British Books Challenge)
77) Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy (British Books Challenge)
78) Leaving Poppy by Kate Cann (British Books Challenge)
79) Light by Michael Grant
80) Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
81) Fractured by Teri Terry (British Books Challenge)
82) You don't know me by Sophia Bennett (British Books Challenge)
83) Soulmates by Holly Bourne (British Books Challenge)
84) casting shadows by Sophie McKenzie (British Books Challenge)
85) Diary of a Grace by Sarra Manning (British Books Challenge)

Book events attended
Two lovely ones this month

Firstly I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was amazing! I also got to go to an event with Author Teri Terry at my local waterstones which was fab and I really enjoyed.

Book of the Month

Follow me Down by Tanya Byrne. It is all kinds of awesome. You need to get a copy yourself when it comes out in May.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Review: This is what Happy looks like by Jennifer E Smith

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.

My Thoughts
  Quite honestly I loved this book. It reminded me so much of a YA book version of Notting Hill and I quite literally couldn't put it down.

Ellie and Graham 'meet' for the first time online by accident because of a mistyped email address. The conversation soon starts to fly back and forth as the two get more comfortable with chatting even though they don't know the other person's name. Ellie enjoys talking openly to another person and Graham, who is a movie star loves the fact he has found someone who likes him for being him rather than for being a huge movie star so much so that he engineers it so his new movie is shot on location in Ellie's home town and finally he gets to meet the girl who he has got to know so well for the first time.

I loved seeing the face to face relationship between Ellie and Graham develop with all its complications which occurred as a direct result of Graham's fame. I thought he was so brilliantly cute that it almost hurt. I also loved the whole host of secondary characters you meet along the way. I also loved the setting of the book which gave it a really summery feel.

The only complaint I have about this book is it finished too early. This is one of those books where I wanted a cheesy epilogue of some kind to let me know what happened to Ellie and Graham in the end. I must admit it did leave me somewhat frustrated.

All in all a fantastically cute read which I loved and would highly recommend and absolutely perfect to get you into that summery mood.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Review: Heroic by Phil Earle

For the past five weeks I'd prayed that I'd never see my brother's name spelt out in poppies. In the weeks that followed I often wished I had.' Jammy and Sonny McGann are brothers, but that's where the similarities end. One is calm when the other is angry; one has a plan while the other lives purely in the moment. When Jammy returns from Afghanistan a very different man to the one who left, it's Sonny who is left to hold things together. But just how far will he go to save the brother who always put him first? Inspired by S.E. Hinton's "The Outsiders" and by the battles facing young soldiers all over the world, this is a devastating novel about brotherhood and sacrifice, from the award-winning author of "Being Billy" and "Saving Daisy"

My Thoughts

This is a hard one for me to review mainly because I'm not sure I can quite do this book justice due to the subject matter and how close to home it is to me personally so I'll try in my own way below but do forgive me if I can't quite find the words.

Heroic is the story of two brothers: Jamm and Sonny and follows the boys as Jamm goes off to fight in Afghanistan through to his return to a normal civilian life after his tour of duty is over. The story is heart breaking and insightful and will leave you an emotional wreck by the end. What I liked about it was that the story wasn't over glamourised but told the story of Jamm and his family as it is for so many families with loved ones serving abroad. I thought the scenes of his family left behind waiting for his return were so realistic in the way it portrayed the propagandised news broadcasts which are shown in the UK daily to get people behind a war on terror and in the way in which it showed how the family coped with having to be left behind waiting on edge for that awful phone call. I also felt the way in which Jamm was portrayed after his return from Afghanistan was an invaluable insightful into the long term effect serving in such circumstances can have.

In short this book is brilliant, so well written dealing with a poignant subject in a sensitive and respectful way doing justice to the risks those in the forces face everyday to keep us safe. Quite honestly I've been of the opinion for a while now that I will happily read anything Mr Earle puts his name because I know the quality will be top notch and this latest book just confirms that opinion. Excellent stuff and well worth a read.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Blog Tour: Heroic by Phil Earle

I am really pleased today to be able to offer you an extract of Phil Earle's excellent Heroic to read. Enjoy

Note to all: I am failing hard at Windows 8 after being forced to buy a new laptop this week. If the embedding thing doesn't work above please follow this link for the extract  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1k86I-7_hYAd6eKw7b9R53gilkC53yxuaRojFRBqTYiU/pub

Monday, 22 April 2013

Review: The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

My Thoughts
This is less a review and more my random rumblings about how much I loved this book and series.

I must admit as much as I love mortal instruments I do prefer infernal devices just that little bit more. I think it appeals to the history geek inside of me and I love the characters at the centre of the story. I raced through book one and two the moment I got them and have been waiting desperately for this book to make its way into my grubby little hands.

While the series as a whole has been fast paced and action packed I felt this instalment slowed down. This isn't to say it was a bad thing because being less action packed meant it was replaced with all the feelings and my word there were some feelings. I spent most of this book with a lump in my throat and ended it as a complete emotional wreck. I won't go into any details but quite honestly I loved the way it turned out and loved how it kept me guessing.

For me the best the about this book was the relationship between Will and Jem. I've never been able to pick between the two of them and I love them together and seeing how their bond is bigger than anything else in their world. I also loved Charlotte and Henry in this book as I have done so far before and loved Magnus and cicely. In fact scrap that I loved them all. I don't think there is a character in this book I don't love to pieces.

A fab series and a world I love to explore. I loved the family tree at the end and I can't wait for more books set in the world are released. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Sixteen-year-old Mallory loves her boyfriend, Jeremy. Or at least likes him more than she's ever liked any other boy. She's suree feels the same way. Until she happens upon his online Authentic Life game and discovers he's cheating on her ...online Mallory's life is falling apart and technology is the cause. And then she finds a list, written by her grandma when she was Mallory's age. All her grandma had to worry about was sewing dresses and planning dinner parties. Things were so much simpler in the 1960s. And there's nothing on the list that Mallory couldn't do herself. Maybe it's time for Mallory to go vintage and find the answers to her modern-day problems.

My Thoughts
Going vintage is a really cute story which I really enjoyed with some really thoughtful ideas behind it.

Mallory thinks she has it all with her perfect boyfriend. That is until the mday when is inadvertently finds out he has been cheating on her online with a cyber wife. She is furious and as a result inspired by her grandmother's teenage notebook she decides to go vintage and give up all modern technology and live a more simpler life.

I loved the idea behind this book. The idea of giving up all modern technology like phones and the Internet I think is one we could all think about in a bid to reconnect with people in a more traditional and real way at times to focus on those real relationships and not get drawn into an all seeing all knowing Internet presence which often dictates our lives. I loved seeing the way in which this changed Mallory's friendships and the way she dealt with people around her.

Along side the giving up of modern technology Mallory decides to look back at the notebooks her grandmother kept as a teenager and try to do some of the things on her grandmothers list. She gets out all of the old fashions and wants to learn to sew and I loved that part of the story.

As the story goes on there are several twists and revelations that are brought to life as Mallory digs into her family and their past in a little more depth which were really interesting to see unfold.

A fab read which I really enjoyed.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Review: By any other name by Laura Jarratt

Nobody can know the truth - her life depends on it. I picked up the book and thumbed through the pages. Names in alphabetical order, names with meanings, names I knew, names I'd never heard of. How to pick? Nothing that would stand out, nothing that would link me to the past - those were the instructions. The past. As if everything that had gone before this moment was buried already. Holly is fifteen years old, but she's only been "Holly" for a matter of months. Because of something that happened, she and her family have had to enter witness protection and have all assumed new identities. All, that is, except her sister Katie, who is autistic. Starting at a new school mid-term is hard enough at the best of times, and Holly has no clue who she is any more. Lonely and angry, she reaches out to friends - new and old. But one wrong move will put all their lives in danger..

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book quite a lot for a variety of reasons.

For me the main part of the book is about identity. Holly is a teenage girl who was forced into witness protection. The reader meets her after a move to a new area and follows her as she tries to settle into a new home and new school. I must admit this part of the story is quite slow but it makes you think a lot about settlling into a new life and also those decisions you make about which peer group to get into and what makes a real friend. I loved seeing that process and found it completely fascinating.

This book also features an autistic character in the form of Holly's little sister. I loved her role in the story but also found the insight into living with a family member with autism really fascinating. It made me think about the way in which one may judge someone else without having the full story about that person.

For me the main part of this book was the relationship that began to develop between holly and emo boy. I loved seeing how their perceptions of one another changed as the story went along and I loved seeing the role in played in the main plotline.

Eventually the story kicks off once the criminals who forced holly into witness protection catch up with her. The story brought so many strands together and was fast paced and exciting. I really enjoyed seeing how things finally resolved and was completely hooked to the point where I couldn't put the book down.

A fab read which I enjoyed.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Review: Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones

London, 1841

A boy covered in hair, raised as a monster, condemned to life in a travelling freak show.

A boy with extraordinary powers of observation and detection.

A boy accused of murder; on the run; hungry for the truth.


LAdies and Gentlemen, take your seats. The show is about to begin.

My Thoughts
A really enjoyable read for me

Wild boy is the story of a young boy during the victorian period who is hairy all over and as a consequence has had to spend his life as an outcast and ending up living and working as a freak in a traveling show.

For me this book had several things about it.

Firstly the plight of wild boy was a story I feel will stick with me for a long while to come. He is treated badly by peers and strangers purely for being slightly different and therefore lives his life ostriacised from normal people. The toll this has on the way he thinks and feels about himself is at times quite heartbreaking.

Secondly I loved seeing Victorian London through this book. I must admit the history geek in me got mighty excited about it and loved all the details that came alongside wild boy's story.

Thirdly I also loved the twist on a Sherlock Holmes theme that wild boy had going on throughout the book in the way he observed and deduced things going on around him. It made for an interesting storyline and I loved seeing how the mystery unfolded over the course of the book.

Maybe not entirely the book for me as I'm really not a circus book fan hence why this review maybe isn't as positive as others you might read but certainly worth the time spent reading it.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Blog lovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I've just decided to find out more about blog lovin after it dawned on me maybe I ought to due to all the stuff happening around GFC and google reader which I'm not quite sure I understand yet!

Anyways please follow me on there and I'll try and work out what is going on.

Review: Diary of a crush series by Sarra Manning

This is less a review but more a fan girl sess about a series I was so excited to finally read in its entirity.

The Diary of a Crush series first appeared in J17 when I was a teenager and I remember reading it back then in snatches although I never quite managed to read it all. My lovely friend Clover gave me the three books in March and I quite literally read them back to back in a matter of hours

For those of you who don't know the series are as follows

French Kiss
When Edie and Dylan first see each other in photography class, an instant attraction draws them together. But true love never does run smoothly—the two spar as much as they can't keep their hands off each other. Then comes the college trip to Paris: Edie's willpower will be tested to the limit! In between furious arguments and trips to the Louvre, the two share some passionate moments—but will it last?

Kiss and Make up
It's sizzling summertime, and Edie can't wait for the partying to start. Trying to forget about the dastardly Dylan, Edie's taking her new squeeze Carter to the Glastonbury music festival to have some fun. But guess who's there already, looking totally gorgeous? That's right . . .

Sealed with a Kiss
Edie and Dylan are finally a real couple, and to celebrate they're off on an amazing road trip across America. But nine weeks on the road in a foreign country is a long time—and a real test of their feelings for each other. Will it bring them even closer together, or break them apart forever?

For me this series sums up all those teenage feelings I had back at age 16/17 perfectly and they absolutely reflect that teenage angsty period perfectly. I love all the main characters and reading about them and their adventures after all these years is the reading equivalent of comfort food.

What is even more exciting though? I've noticed that Atom are republishing these next month with shiny new covers and everything!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Blog Tour: By any other name by Laura Jarratt (Q&A with Holly and Joe)

Q and A with Holly and Joe from BY ANY OTHER NAME

1.      So first impressions, how important are they?

Holly: In general, very, I think. But obviously you can get it really, really wrong. It came as quite a big surprise to me that you can find a boy attractive for a while but actually a bit further down the line, there’s just nothing there. Not even like it fizzles out – just that you were wrong and there wasn’t anything to start off with.

Joe: Don’t know, to be honest. I would have said very important but like Holly says, you can get it wrong. I suppose you should take your time to get to know someone and not leap to conclusions too quickly.

2.      City or village life – which would you pick?

Holly: You know, ‘village’ has sort of grown on me. There are good things and bad things about it. I still don’t like that part where everyone is into everyone else’s business, or how petty some of the people in school are. But people smile at each other in the street. When you go to the shop, you pretty much always see someone you know, and that’s okay. But I miss the city too – especially the shops. Best thing, I think – live close enough to a big city so you can just get on the train and escape whenever you want.

Joe: Village! I couldn’t do with being caged in by concrete and steel.
(He shudders.)

Holly: It is very pretty too. I forgot that part. I think I’d miss that now…Joe would probably miss the cows! I swear his entire family is obsessed by them.

Joe: Holly exaggerates. A lot.

3.      What’s each other’s worst habit?

Joe: Holly is really judgemental. She likes to classify people in her head and box them off in little compartments. Like a kind of mental OCD – she has to be able to attach labels to people.

Holly: That is not true!

Joe: (laughing) It is! You have got better. You’re not as snobby about it now but you still do it, even if it’s nice labels.

Holly: (glaring) He’s moody. And if he’s in a sulk, he blows up easily.

Joe: (smiling) She’s absolutely right about that.

Holly: (glaring even harder) Also he likes winding people up!

4.      And each other’s best trait?

Joe: She’s a fighter. Never takes anything lying down.

Holly: He’s uber loyal.

5.      You can tell a lot about a person from their favourite cake. What’s yours?

Holly: Ooh, well, I like chocolate – who doesn’t? And carrot cake can be amazing but sometimes it’s very disappointing too depending on where you get it. And coffee and walnut is like that too – can be sickly if there’s too much coffee buttercream. So actually in the end I think fruit cake because even bad fruit cake is good whereas if the others are bad they are a bit puke-inducing.

Joe: (shrugs) I just eat it – it’s all good.

Holly: You need to understand he is like a human hoover. Food appears and he practically inhales it.

Joe: I like that stuff from the bakery that Katie is into. That’s extra good. What’s it called?

Holly: Battenburg. It’s her new thing. She likes sectioning out the yellow and pink squares to eat them separately. And peeling off the marzipan from round the outside.

6.      To finish up, what’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?

(Joe goes bright red.)

Holly: He won’t tell you. He’ll do romantic stuff but he won’t ever talk about it to other people. Which is fair enough because if Matt found out, he would never, ever hear the last of it!

Joe, what’s the most romantic thing Holly’s ever done for you?

Joe: Covering for me on that question!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Review: The Boys of Summer by CJ Duggan

It seemed only natural to nickname them the ‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him ... Toby Morrison.

Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.

To Tess, summer is when everything happens: riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.

How did she let her friends talk her into working?

After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking chaos.

All with the one boy she has never been able to forget.

It will be a summer she will always remember. 

My Thoughts
I must admit I was wary about starting this book. I had got to the point where I thought I was completely done with all the new adult, self published books coming my way mainly because I've read a lot of them and while the odd one has been good the majority have bit quite samey. However luckily for me this was one of the titles that deserves to stand out from the crowd.

So why did I love this book?

I loved the main character Tess, she cool without being a bitch, clever without being irritating and quite honestly the sort of girl I could stand to hang around with on a daily basis. I therefore loved following her story and rooting for her along the way as things went along.

I loved that this was an Aussie title. I love Aussie titles. In this case it made it stand out for me from all the hundreds of self published American NA titles that are flooding the market at the moment.

I loved the friendship group at the centre of this book. It was interesting to see the dynamics between three teens, two female/ one male, and seeing how their friendship worked. I loved seeing the ways in which they bonded and liked the slightly different take the author had taken as often in these books it's main protagonists and her best friend.

The best thing about this though has to be the boys. Oh those Onslow boys. The boys in this book are actually young men into their early 20s and all completely gorgeous. There is actually a bit of an age gap between Tess and her friends and the Onslow boys which I really loved and meant I could happily swoon away without feeling guilty. Admittedly this probably did appeal to me more than most as I know for a fact at age 17 I wasn't interested in boy my own age either so it felt a bit more realistic as a story to me. I loved seeing how this affected the relationship between Tess and the boys and I loved seeing how the romance in this book played out.

A fab read which I would highly recommend

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Bookcase Showcase: Fiona from Bookish Outsider

My name is Fi from Bookish Outsider and I'm a bookaholic! It's only natural I suppose when you grow up in a house full of books, both of your parents were big readers, you study English Literature and work in numerous bookshops! These pictures will prove that when it comes to books I have slight hoarding tendencies, once I buy a book I'm unable to be parted from it except for the very rare occasion when I really didn't like something.

This first picture is most of my YA hardbacks. I used to buy mainly paperbacks but I got tired of waiting months after the hardback was published so my obsession with those beautiful smaller sized hardcovers started! There's a great mix of authors here, from Kelly Creagh to John Green to Marie Lu as I tend to jump around from genre to genre.

The second picture is a small sample of my adult hardbacks, mainly authors that are autobuy for me such as Stephen King, Phil Rickman, Terry Pratchett and Juliet Marrillier. The only problem with not having all your books in the same place is that it looks like I have lots of incomplete series - I don't! They just don't all fit.

The third picture is the shelf above my desk and as well as all the books pictured there are normally stacks of picture books for my niece & nephew along with any new books I get before they are sorted, catalogued and photographed. I can be a bit obsessive with anything vaguely bookish... On this shelf there's more YA, along with various classics, fantasy and fairy tales which are mostly what I tend to read.

The next two pictures are both from my bedroom and up until Sunday were perfectly organised by author and title. However, after putting my new bookcase together they're all messed up so I've got hours of fun sorting and an empty bookcase to fill!

This bookcase is stacked three deep with books but I know exactly what books are on there thanks to an ingenious filing system! My nearly complete collection of Charles de Lint books are on here along with the Morganville Vampire books (including the first three published in this country that had the glow-in-the-dark covers!) and more fantasy & classics with a bit of horror thrown in.

This bookcase has lots of assorted genres on it, including the travel books for the US and Canada for the cross-country trip a friend & I are planning and is also stacked two deep to help with the storage problem!

The last picture is of my research books in my writing corner. I've been writing a series of fantasy/dark fairy-tale books since I was a teenager and these are just some of the books I've picked up along the way to use for research. Also on here are my Folio Society fairy-tale books, my box-sets of Lord Of The Rings and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and my Alice In Wonderland espresso cups.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Month of Men Blog Tour: Jennifer echols guest post: A Day in the Life

I get up at 4:30 a.m. You already hate me, I know. It's just that I discovered while in college that I am terrible at pulling an all-nighter and cramming for exams, whereas I am very good at falling asleep at a strangely early hour, getting up alert and cheery at 4:30 a.m., and cramming then.

A lot of authors seem to need that unbroken quiet time when their families are asleep and leave them alone. They romantically stay up late with their candles and their wine, burning the midnight oil to unlock their most creative selves. I am like that too, except with coffee instead of wine, and at 4:30 a.m. This is when the magic happens, people.

The creative process comes to a screeching halt when my son wakes up at 6:30. For about an hour we cook and eat breakfast, make fun of the cat, and write rap songs about bacon and butter.

After I drop off the kid at school, I go for a run. If I am training for a marathon, like last year, this may take a few hours and it's very intense. If I am slacking off, like now, I intend to run six miles but convince myself once I get to the track that four is plenty. But no matter how far I go, I'm listening to something related to writing on my iPod: lots of BAFTA speeches, writers' podcasts, or the soundtrack I've made for my work in progress.

I go home and take a shower. In an ideal world I also get fully dressed and put on makeup. If I'm on deadline, I might change back into sweats and skip the makeup, reasoning that nobody cares what I look like, probably. I went through a period of about a week finishing my last novel when I'm pretty sure I didn't dry my hair.

And then I'm back to writing. Sometimes I'm sitting at the kitchen table. If I actually make it into clothes that day, I'll likely go to a coffee shop. I have four or five coffee shops I frequent so that I don't become a regular at one. I have a fear of becoming a recognizable regular because there is always something strange about regulars, isn't there? They smell strange, or they go barefoot in winter to show off their toe rings? And I'm really not picky where I spend my time writing, as long as I have coffee and something to write on.

At 3 I pick up my son from school. There is often some strange request associated with this, such as, "I need a costume immediately because tomorrow for English class I have to dress up as Tom Clancy. Also, we need to bake cupcakes." Until I go to bed at 9:30, the end of my day will be a mix of putting out fires like this, taking him to after-school activities, phoning my critique partner and whining to her, magically producing supper somehow, reading, sneaking in a little more writing (I'm currently composing this blog while sitting in the car at soccer practice), and watching TV. No, I don't keep up with Downton Abbey. I watch shows my mechanically inclined son likes to watch, including the British productions Top Gear and Wheeler Dealers. I know way more than I ever really wanted to know about how to change out the automatic window mechanism in a car.

None of this sounds very interesting, does it? The only person who would covet this lifestyle is another writer. If you love to write, all you really want is more time to do it. I loved the freelance copyediting job I held until 2011 while composing novels on the side, but I love writing more, and I'm grateful every day for this career. Even at 4:30 a.m.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Review: The Bunker Diaries by Kevin Brooks

I can't believe I fell for it.

It was still dark when I woke up this morning.

As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was.

A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete.

There are six little rooms along the main corridor.

There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out.

What's he going to do to me?

What am I going to do?

If I'm right, the lift will come down in five minutes.

It did. Only this time it wasn't empty . . .

My thoughts

Quite honestly I don't have huge amounts to say about this book.

I read it and it only took a few hours. It was OK but not mind blowing like I thought it would be. I often like books written in diary format but in this case I didn't really feel like there was much to tell. I didn't feel like I got to know the characters all that well and ultimately I didn't feel like there was a point to the entire book because of how it ended. It definitely did capture the feel of the bunker and the isolation it felt but I didn't feel there was enough in the story to make it one I could really get into.

Not one for me I'm afraid. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Review: Hank Zipzer, the World's Greatest Underachiever and the Crazy Classroom Cascade by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

I must admit this is not the sort of book I normally read as it is aimed at a much younger audience than the books I read however I must say I really enjoyed it.

I picked this up recently because I had the opportunity to meet the author at an event with my local book group. For those of you who haven't made the connection this book is written by Henry Winkler who is more better known as the actor who played the Fonz in Happy Days. He is dyslexic and co writes this series to raise awareness of dyslexia and learning difficulties and to encourage youngsters that while they might not be the best at Maths or English there is something inside of them that they are brilliant at and their job is to work out what they gift is. Quite honestly I have never been so inspired at an event like this after listening to Henry's take on the world and the way he has learn to find ways around his difficulties to become to success he is.

Hank Zipzer has a lot of similarities to Henry. He lives in New York. He's clever but not in a traditionally academic way which means he is labeled at school as being lazy and dumb by his teachers when this is far from the case. In this particular instalment Hank decides to work round his learning difficulties and take a more unorthodox approach at completing a homework assignment set by his teacher. I won't tell you too much about the plot but I will say it both made me laugh as I got to meet Hank and his friends and opened my eyes a little wider to the difficulties he faced as a direct result of his dyslexia.

A highly recommended read as it is so insightful but also brilliantly funny and certainly a book which appeal highly to both your stronger and more reluctant readers