Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Review

Summer Holidays means I have had all the reading time. In addition to the huge list below I gave up on about 10 different books so my TBR pile is getting small which can only be a good thing because it means book shopping!

Books Read in August
135) We're going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (British Books Challenge)
136) The Manifesto of how to be interesting by Holly Bourne (British Books Challenge)
137) Solitaire by Alice Oseman (British Books Challenge)
138) The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo
139) Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
140) Acting Friends by Sophie McKenzie (British Books Challenge)
141) Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
142) Junk by Melvin Burgess (British Books Challenge)
143) The Jewel by Amy Ewing
144) The Future for Curious People by Greg Sherl
145) Lick by Kylie Scott
146) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
147) The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (British Books Challenge)
148) In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
149) 365 days of Wonder by RJ Palacio
150) Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
151) Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (British Books Challenge)
152) Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
153) Calm like a Stupid Feather by Keris Stainton (British Books Challenge)
154) The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet (British Books Challenge)
155) A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher (British Books Challenge)
156) Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
157) Book by John Agard (British Books Challenge)
158) Violet and the Pearl of the Orient (British Books Challenge)
159) The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
160) Unlike a Virgin by Lucy-Anne Holmes (British Books Challenge)

Book Events attended
I got to go to two fabulous events this month.

Firstly I went for Afternoon Tea with Sarah Alderson to celebrate the release of Come Back to Me and it was wonderful.

I also go invited to an event with Leigh Bardugo. She was a brilliant speaker and I really enjoyed listening to her

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Books About Town Book Bench Hunting

This summer there have been fifty benches dotted around London each with their own book design. Over the course of three days my lovely blogging friend Sarah and I decided to go out and find them all.

Below is my little video showcasing them all.

It was brilliant going off to find them all and discovering different parts of London whilst following the four trails. My favourite had to be the Paddington Bear bench.

Which one is your favourite?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Review: Lies like Love by Louisa Reid


'There were a few problems . . . bullying . . . a fire . . .'


I think she's verging on psychosis . . . now she's lashing out.


She's got no one else to fight for her.'

Sixteen year-old Audrey just wants to be normal.She's trying to fit in.But what happens when the person closest to you suffocates you with their love?What happens then?

My thoughts
Just a few lines for this book for fear of spoiling anything if I say too much. This book is creepy, it goes to an incredibly dark place and will play on your mind for a long time after finishing it. Exactly what I have come to expect from a Louis Reid book. Highly recommended

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Review: My Second Life by Faye Bird

The first time I was born, I was Emma.
I was beautiful. I had everything to live for.
But I died.

Now I have been born a second time, and my previous life haunts me. Because in it I think I did something very wrong. I must find out what I did to Catherine. I must uncover the truth about Emma...

Intriguing, compelling, heartbreaking.
What if your past life could shatter your future?

My thoughts
A really interesting and thoughtful book which I really enjoyed. My second life revolves around a teenage girl called Ana who remembers her previous as Emma. Throughout the course of the book she events from her previous life suddenly come back to her and she gets the awful feeling that she was involved in killing another girl and has to contact people from her previous life to find out more. I was utterly fascinated by this book and needed to know more even more desperately the further I got into it. Highly recommended

Friday, 22 August 2014

Review: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Zoe and Olivia have always been best friends. And becoming professional ballerinas has always been their goal. But when they turn sixteen the unthinkable happens as Olivia is diagnosed with leukaemia. Falling in love, coping with school and falling out with each other - everything is thrown into a whole new light. A heartbreakingly bittersweet tragedy that reveals profound truths about loss, love and the friends who mean the world to you

My thoughts
Maybe one day is the story of Zoe and her best friend Olivia and their friendship as Olivia battles leukaemia.

If I'm honest I'm not sure I liked this book for a variety of reasons.

Firstly there was a huge amount of focus on the fact the pair had quit dancing after being rejected by a dance school in New York. I'm not sure it added to the story and for me it was the reason why the book felt overly long.

Secondly I felt it was trying so hard to make me feel for the main character that I really didn't care in the end. I found her too whiny and a bit selfish especially considering she wasn't the one who was ill. I was also hated now much she swore throughout the book. Yes I get she was in a bad place but it felt like every single thing she didn't like called for the use if the F word.

Finally the only bit I really wanted to know more about was barely touched upon. I thought the relationship that starts to develop between Zoe and Calvin had the potential to be as hot as hell, in addition to be being gorgeously sweet and yet nothing really happened. I wanted more!

All in all not really the book for me

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Review: The Castle by Sophia Bennett

A search for the truth about her father’s death takes schoolgirl Peta Jones to a dangerous place ...

Peta Jones is an ordinary girl struggling with the loss of her father, an army hero who died in mysterious circumstances. When she receives clues that he may still be alive, but no one believes her, she embarks on a dangerous rescue across the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean to a cliff-top castle, home to a billionaire in exile.

Peta soon discovers that what some people will do for money, she will do for love

My thoughts
I love Sophia Bennett as an author. I have devoured every book of hers that I have picked up. I must admit I was a little unsure when I picked this up whether it was too different from her other novels to be able to pull it off but actually it was classic Sophia Bennett and a fabulous read.

The Castle is an exciting and pacey story following Peta who is determined to find out about what happened to her father who is officially dead. I loved that she was a tough character who, despite being scared, is willing to go out there and find out the truth for herself. 

What I particularly enjoy about Sophia's novels is that she tackles some kind of bigger issue within them. In this case she uses the novel to discuss modern day slavery which really made you think as a reader and opens your eyes to thhe horrible practice which often remains hidden and not talked about because people don't want to believe it is happening.

All in all a brilliant read which I enjoyed.

You'll love this if you loved
Taken (Film featuring Liam Neeson)
Sophia Bennett's previous titles

Monday, 18 August 2014

Can't wait to read

Despite my huge to be read pile I have a never ending list of books I cannot wait to get into my hands as soon as possible. These are the ones that have caught my eye of late.

Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens

Goodreads synopsis
Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy's home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy's glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy's birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn't really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill - and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem - and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.

Why I can't wait for it
I LOVE this series. Bloody love it. It appeals entirely to my Enid Blyton boarding school stories reading inner child. The first book was perfect. It captures the spirit of those 1950s boarding school stories which I adored but improved upon as they are more diverse and tolerant. I loved it. I need more now

Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson

Goodreads Synopsis
Everybody knows about the Cooper Killings – the Bel Air home invasion that rocked the nation.
There was only one survivor - a sixteen year-old girl.
And though the killers were caught they walked free.

Now eighteen, Nic Preston - the girl who survived - is trying hard to rebuild her life. She’s security conscious to the point of paranoia and her only friend is a French Mastiff bulldog, but she’s making progress. She’s started college in New York and has even begun dating.

But then one night her apartment is broken into and the life Nic’s worked so hard to create is shattered in an instant.

Finn Carter - hacker, rule breaker, player – is the last person Nic ever wants to see again. He’s the reason her mother’s killers walked free from court. But as the people hunting her close in, Nic has to accept that her best and possibly only chance of staying alive is by keeping close to Finn and learning to trust the person she’s sworn to hate.

Fleeing across a snowbound New England, frantically trying to uncover the motive behind the murders, Nic and Finn come to realize the conspiracy is bigger than they could ever have suspected. But the closer they get to the truth and the closer they get to each other, the greater the danger becomes.

To survive she has to stay close to him.
To keep her safe he has to keep his distance.

Why I can't wait for it
I love a Sarah Alderson book. They are fast paced and exciting. I had the pleasure of having afternoon tea with Sarah earlier this month and she was talking about this book and it sounded brilliant.  

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Goodreads Synopsis
When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion next door, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nic Falcone, Sophie finds herself falling into an underworld governed by powerful families. When Sophie's own family skeletons come to life, she must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break ...

Why I can't wait for it
I literally just saw this book this morning on one of my adding to the wishlist sessions. I just admit I'm mostly drawn in my the cover but the synopsis sounds good too.

Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton

Goodreads Synopsis
Megan doesn't speak. She hasn't spoken in months.

She's lost friends, alienated her mum and become the target for some of the nastiest girls at school. There are so many things locked inside Megan's head - things that are screaming to be heard - but some secrets are too dangerous to be let out.

Then Jasmine starts at school: bubbly, beautiful, talkative Jasmine. And for reasons Megan can't quite understand, life starts to look a bit brighter.

Megan is desperate to speak again, and it seems like Jasmine might be the answer. But if she finds her voice, will she lose everything else?

Why I can't wait for it
Another one where I was drawn in by the cover but actually the synopsis looks awesome too. Very much looking forward to it.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blog Tour: Darkus Knightley’s top tips on being a detective and crime-solving playlist

Darkus Knightley's 5 top tips on being a detective:

1. Always keep your eyes and ears open. When you walk into a room try to make a mental note of every object in the room, and every face. You never know when some small detail might be essential to solving the case.

2. When you sit in a cafe or restaurant, always sit at the back of the room, facing the entrance. That way, no one can get in or out without you observing them. (NOTE: This tip unfortunately also applies to criminals when they're spotting detectives - so beware of anyone else sitting alone at the back of the room.)

3. Try to carry a magnifying glass, a jewellers loupe (a lens for observing fine detail), or a well equipped phone camera to examine any clues.

4. When following a suspect, always keep plenty of obstacles nearby to hide behind if they turn around. Preferably use shop windows, lamp posts or parked cars. Burying your head in a newspaper is a bit obvious, but a Kindle may suffice.

5. Always carry plenty of small ziploc bags for collecting evidence. They may also come in handy if a dog walker forgets to bring their own and walks away from the scene of their pet's crime.

Darkus Knightley's top crime-solving playlist:

The same way Sherlock enjoyed playing the violin, Darkus finds a well-stocked iPod helps him solve any number of tricky criminal cases. Here are a few of his favourites:

1. It's A New Day - James Brown

Darkus likes the driving groove of the JBs’ rhythm section, led by legendary bassist Bootsy Collins and the original “funky drummer” Clyde Stubblefield. And of course there's the very fitting refrain: "Can I get a witness?"

2. We Can Work It Out - The Beatles

Darkus likes this upbeat Lennon & McCartney refrain, cut with a certain air of melancholy in the lyrics: "Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend. I have always thought that it's a crime. So I will ask you once again."

3. Murder By Numbers - The Police

Darkus is a big Police fan and this darker entry in the canon was originally the B-side of Every Breath You Take--of course that was in the day of "vinyl singles". Darkus has seen photographic evidence to confirm that these small plastic records did once exist.

4. Necessary Evil - Hans Zimmer 

Sometimes film music can bring just the right mood needed to solve a plot. This track from Batman: The Dark Knight does just that.

5. A Fistful of Dynamite (also known as Duck You Sucker!) - Ennio Morricone

This movie theme is from a rare film by Sergio Leone who directed the classic "spaghetti westerns" with Clint Eastwood. Darkus can almost imagine lolloping through the desert saddled to a black Mustang with a six-shooter at his side.

6. The Professionals theme - Laurie Johnson & the London Studio Orchestra

One of the great TV themes, and Darkus's dad Alan's favourite TV show of all time. Ever. (Magnum P.I. is a close second.)

7. Look No Further - Dido

This sweet songbird knew Darkus when he was first becoming a detective, and he's had a soft spot for her ever since.

8. The 007 Theme - Monty Norman

When Darkus has cracked a case, he may not be able to have a Martini, but he can blast the classic Bond theme. He has also been known to imitate the James Bond walk in his bedroom mirror.

 K-9 (Knightley and Son #2) by Rohan Gavin is released today

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Three teens venture into the abandoned Monroe estate one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder?
Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…

My Thoughts
Another exciting offering from Abigail Haas. I was waiting for this book from the moment I knew it was being written having loved Dangerous Girls when I read it last year. Dangerous Boys is just as exciting and a real page turner throughout. I literally couldn't put it down because I needed to know what was going to happen next. Once again I wasn't sure how everything would play out until I got to the very last page. Just awesome. What I love about Abigail's books is that she manages to twist things and turn things on their head and keeps you guessing throughout. I also love how the stories build up flipping back and forward from past and present to build up the bigger picture. Definitely a book I would recommend highly.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Dangerous Boys Blog Tour: Book Extract

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the Dangerous Boys blog tour. I loved the book and the author Abigail Haas's previous novel Dangerous Girls

A big theme in Dangerous Boys is how much is hidden beneath the surface. With Chloe, Oliver and Ethan, we discover that not everything is as it seems, and there’s a hidden darkness in all of us. The question is, what happens when you see just what someone is capable of — and what about when that person is you?

Book extract
You can never really know someone.
            Maybe you think that sounds trite, or perhaps you already learned it a long time ago. But me, I didn’t really grasp it until now: huddled in the corner of the ambulance, watching the medics try to shock life back into a motionless body.
            The sirens are blaring, but everything drifts away from me. The noise and the blood, the hands tugging at my body; the light they shine in my eyes and the shock of pure oxygen from the mask strapped over my face.
            We’re all strangers, in the end.
            I remember something, from a book Oliver gave me months ago. It said that we’re all irrevocably trapped inside our own minds: just as it’s impossible for anyone to truly know us, we can’t begin to hope to know anyone else.
            I understand it now.
            You can be a part of someone’s life for years, your parent or brother or friend, and then one day they turn around and do something so unconscionable, a crime so great, that suddenly, they’re a stranger to you. You think that their goodness is innate, embedded in their DNA, so you take it for granted, right up until the terrible moment when everything changes. Only then do you realize, those good deeds were actions. Actions that can stop, change on a dime at any time.
            You don’t know what’s behind that smile. You can’t imagine who someone will turn out to be. We assume the sun will rise every morning just because it has done every other day, but what happens when you wake up to darkness? When you open your eyes and find, today is the one different day?
            I watch them fix the paddles in place on his chest, yell out, and stand clear. I watch the shock jerk through him, the flatline stretching on and on and on.
            You can never know anyone at all.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Review: Trouble on Cable Street by Joan Lingard

Trouble on cable street was a really interesting read for me.

The story is set in the backdrop of 1930s London in the east end. The history geek in me loved several things about it. Firstly I loved seeing the social history seen through the book. You really get a feel for the divide between the rich and poor and how most families lived on that poverty line to the point where they struggled to pay for the basics like food and medical care. I loved the detail any how you get that feel for how life was like for people at the time. The book also looks at the politics at the time. In the years before the Second World War Fascism was building a huge following across Europe. Most people know about Hitler and Mussolini and might have a vague idea about the Spanish Civil War happening but I've struggled to find anything in historical fiction aimed at children which references the British Fascists led by Oswald Moseley. This book focuses on the impact they had and the way they started to gain a following in the east end, the following they had and the policies they wanted to introduce to the UK which mirrored those of Nazi Germany.

I also loved this book because it had a young female led who was easy to relate to and a fabulous role model to the intended audience. I loved how she knew her own mind and was happy to stand on her own two feet and speak out against the things she thinks are wrong with the world.

A fantastic read which I enjoyed and a perfect example of how I think historical fiction should be done. It is engaging, fast paced and historically accurate doing justice to the times and people involved. Definitely a book I shall be pushing into the hands of my students whilst studying modern history

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Review: Water born by Rachel Ward

Nicola's dad has been terrified around water for as long as she can remember, and will never come to watch her swim. But then Nicola starts to hear a voice in the pool which changes everything. When girls start drowning, who's to blame? What secrets lurk beneath the surface?

My thoughts
I really enjoyed this book. The story is super creepy and makes you think long after you've finished it. The book revolves around the main character Nicola a swimmer whose father is terrified of water but she isn't sure why. As the story continues you start to get to the bottom of why he is so terrified and start to be scared yourself alongside him and make you never want to swim in open water ever again  I loved that while it is a sequel it is a nice stand alone book in itself because I read too much and can never remember book one when I get round to reading the sequel. All in all a fabulous and creepy read which I really enjoyed.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Review: Sorry about me by Laura Dockrill

Ten-year-old Darcy sees the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around her. This third book sees Darcy encounter extra-large-amounts of drama - mice have invaded her house, which means the family must get a cat. Cue a mega-meltdown in a pet shop and then the arrival of Pork, an angry dumpling of a cat who terrifies Lamb-Beth. And while chaos rules at home, Will's long-lost dad has turned-up and taken him out of school. Who will Darcy be friends with now? Must she hang-out with school secretary Mavis EVERY DAY FOR ALL ETERNITY?

My thoughts
Just a brief few words from me today on this wonderful little book. Sorry about me is the third book in the Darcy Burdock series. It is just as fabulous as the previous two books full of heart and wonderfully funny. I adored every page and couldn't read it fast enough. I love Darcy's view on the world and you can see Laura's personality shine through on every page. I'm not a huge reader of books aimed at this age but I can't recommend this series highly enough.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Review: Zero Hour by Will Hill

Department 19 still stands against the darkness. But for how much longer? Book 4 in the epic series from bestselling author, Will HIll.

When Jamie Carpenter's mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government's most secret agency.

Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can't stand up against

My Thoughts

A very short review for this one

This instalment was exactly what I have come to expect from this series, action packed and intelligent with twists that I don't see coming. I really enjoy that this is a series where you can't guarantee who will survive as the author isn't holding back in the way his characters are treated throughout the books.

The only vampire books I currently want to read because they are awesome and I find myself flying through them unable to put them down as I need to know what happens next.

It is going to be a long wait for book five.