Monday, 29 September 2014

September review

This month has been a funny old month for me reading wise. Quite frankly being back at school has really taken its toll and I'm struggling to get time to read properly and less time to review so I am finding that I'm picking up a lot of non-review books because I don't need to think about them after they are done while my brain is too full of school stuff. Roll on half term and proper reading time.

Read in September

161) Play by Kylie Scott
162) The Mark of Cain by Lindsay Barraclough (British Books Challenge)
163) The Italian Girl by Lucinda Riley (British Books Challenge)
164) The World Beneath by Janice Warman (British Books Challenge)
165) Buffy: The Making of a Slayer by Nancy Holder
166) Sally Heathcote Suffragette by B Talbot (British Books Challenge)
167) The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell (British Books Challenge)
168) The art of being normal by Lisa Williamson (British Books Challenge)
169) The Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
170) Famous in love by Rebecca Serle
171) The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley (British Books Challenge)
172) Pea's book of big dreams by Susie Day (British Books Challenge)

Book of the month
Has to be the very wonderful The art of being normal by Lisa Williamson which I got a very early proof of (David Ficking do very very special prrofs FYI). It is amazing. You all need to read it ... scrap that everyone needs to read it. It was an utterly perfect read for me and I can't wait for it to be published so I can buy multiple copies and give them to everyone.

Book events attended in September
Sadly none.I do have some exciting ones lined up for next month though

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Books I can't wait to read

I am in a reading sulk at the moment mostly because all the books I want to read aren't published yet and most of which aren't out until next year. This list could have been much much longer but I don't have any covers yet for some of them so I'll hold off talking about them just yet. Below are some books I cannot wait to get my hands on.

Othergirl by Nicole Burstein

Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They're closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers.

When Erica isn't doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero's BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can't win every fight by herself.

Life isn't a comic book - it's even crazier than that.

I cannot tell you how excited I am by this book and have been for ages. Nicole is one of those wonderful people who I chat to regularly on twitter (and in real life on the odd occasion we happen to be at the same event) and I love following her insane daily antics complete with ladynerding, dog shaving accidents and ballet classes to name but a few. I want it. I want it now and doing my absolute best not to talk to her about it until nearer the time so I don't do her head in about it in a stalkery fashion.

The Devil you know by Trish Doller

Arcadia “Cadie” Wells has one primary goal in life –– to escape the sleepy Florida town where she was born and raised. Since her mother's death, she's sacrificed her boyfriend, her spot on the soccer team, and even her plans for the future to raise her little brother and help her still-grieving father. On a rare night out at a party at the local state park, Cadie meets a couple of good-looking tourists and impulsively agrees to join them on their road trip from one end of Florida to the other. But when their adventure goes tragically wrong, Cadie’s new goal is to make it home alive

I'm not sure Trish's books are all that well known in the UK and I have no idea why I ended up reading her stuff but I did and I was so glad I found her. I love her books and cannot wait for this one. I haven't even really read the synopsis but I want it because Trish has written it. 

Because you'll never meet me by Leah Thomas

In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

This flashed up on netgalley but not to request. Not sure what that is about but enough to gain my interest and I hate my kindle anyway so I probably wouldn't read it until I got a print copy.

Us by David Nichols

'I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.'

'Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?'

Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they'd be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

It's not often an adult book makes it onto my radar and even rarer for it to do so prepublication but I do already have my eye on this.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Unmade Blog Tour: 10 books that changed my life by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Ten Books That Changed My Life

Let’s just get one thing straight here. I could never pick just ten. I’m not saying that every book changes my life, but it’s always something I’m aware of, when I pick up a new book: the shimmering possibility. And you never know which book has changed your life, until you look back on your life and see the pattern in it: where someone else changed the way you thought, changed what you wanted and what you did next. But I thought I could have a stab at talking about the books that changed my life in a way that influenced me to write the Lynburn Legacy series.

The Night World series by L.J. Smith

 If I have to pick just one of the series I pick… Daughters of Darkness by L.J. Smith. (Three vampire sisters seek freedom! Their playboy vampire brother seeks them. Their next-door neighbor is not seeking him, but wouldn’t you know it.) In this series, you discover your soulmate through touching them, mainly, at which point you visualize a connection between you two or sometimes read their mind. It was the first but not the last time I saw reading someone’s mind be presented as romantic, and I thought to myself, eventually… I can see how it’s romantic. To be truly loved is to be truly known. But I can also see how it would be horrific. I wouldn’t want anyone to read my mind, ever. I certainly do not think anyone reading my mind would ever be able to keep any romantic notions about me alive. Imagine my beloved staring into my soul and thinking ‘SARAH! Cuddle Time is not meant to be the time you work out a plot twist!’ No thank you. I saw books and shows and movies where mind-reading was horrific, but I never saw the intersection between romance and horror that I wanted, where both the wonderful and terrible sides were shown, and where in talking about that you could talk about romance itself—how it sometimes swallows you up and sometimes saves you, how it can be toxic or true. And you know what they say: write the books you want to read. Now, Daughters of Darkness also mentions Pride and Prejudice, which is where we move to the books which have romances in them I particularly enjoyed…

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

(Awesome lady does not seek proud rich bachelor. Wait. Awesome lady is reconsidering based on extensive grounds at Pemberley.)
The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

(Your little brother is enchanted, so you go to the witch who is a prefect at your school. He is surprised you are not there because of his manly charms. His family are surprised to have a witch who has manly charms.)

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

(First you get turned into an old lady. Then you take up residence in a handsome evil wizard’s castle. This is a day full of surprises.)

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

(Crime-loving lady seeks innocent victim for scam. No, wait. Crime-loving lady seeks crime-loving lady.)

I may have even written up summaries of the romances of these characters here:

Bet Me by Jenny Crusie

(A dude is offered a bet on whether he can sleep with a lady. He certainly does not accept the bet because he is not a LOATHSOME TOAD. However, when he approaches her, she heard the bet and thinks he has accepted it, and really, what does it matter what scheme she cooks up for a LOATHSOME TOAD?)

I talk a little bit about loving romance, and specifically the romance in this book:

These are all stories which have romances between clever characters who have, from the start, really great dialogue together… but who need to learn how to talk to each other so they can both understand each other. Whether they’re deliberately deceiving each other or just coming from very different places, this move from wit between relative strangers (because I want it to be interesting from the first) to true communication is the best kind of romance, for me. Tell me about the fire in their loins… well, okay, I believe you, congratulations you guys, but I’m not that interested. Tell me the words, and I will come to understand what the words mean just as the characters do.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

(Girl meets house. House is full of secrets. Girl meets man. Man is full of secrets and bad ideas. Girl flees from house and man onto moors. Moors have fewer secrets but are not great places to live.)

My first Gothic novel that I thought of as a Gothic novel: a mystery, with moors, an old family home, old family secrets, and the fear of madness and being trapped.

I may have written my thoughts up on this further in Jane Eyre, or The Bride of Edward Crazypants Rochester:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A book that I loved and then later realized was a Gothic novel (a mystery, moors, an old family home, old family secrets)… except perhaps because it’s a Gothic novel for children, there’s hope in it for everyone.

(Girl meets house. House is full of secrets and a screaming person. Girl leaves house sharpish and finds a super nice garden. Girl locates screaming person and takes him to the garden as well. If only Mr Rochester had been more into gardening.)

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

(A famous detective meets an admiring doctor. Together, they solve a crime. It seems familiar but it’s not.)

As you can see from both this selection, and from a couple of others, I love the structure of a puzzle—solving a crime, working something out. I love characters who are dedicated to a cause (whether it be seeking truth and justice, vengeance, or the quest for a quick buck) and who are working toward it. I love a story that will surprise me but more than that, I love characters who will sweep me along as they charge forward in their stories. So, I wanted to write a series about magic, crime-solving, determined characters and romance that was both awful, wonderful and maybe a little thoughtful. I can’t say whether I succeeded. Only you can tell me that, dear reader! I do hope one of my books changes somebody’s life, one of these days. Might be yours.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

"Today is my last day as Violet Lasting. Tomorrow I become Lot 197."

The Jewel is a shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing.

Sold for six million diamantes, Violet is now Surrogate of the House of the Lake in the centre of the Lone City, the Jewel. Her sole purpose is to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess – a woman Violet fears and despises.

Violet is trapped in a living death, her name and body no longer her own. She fights to hold on to her own identity and sanity, uncertain of the fate of her friends, isolated and at the mercy of the Duchess.

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.

My Thoughts
The jewel was a really interesting read for me for a variety of reasons.

Firstly I loved the world set up around the main character Violet. When the reader meets Violet she is about to be sold to the highest bidder at auction to act as a surrogate for a wealthy family who are unable to have children of their own naturally. The ideas behind the story were really dark and often left me feeling quite uncomfortable. As a reader you get a real sense of the horror Violet faces and it is a really disturbing read for that alone.

However for me there were too many similarities to other books in the YA market which didn't make it feel original. There are shades if the hunger games in the relationship Violet has with the young man who preps her for auction and the extreme poverty faced by Violet's family in a world where the rich lives in such extreme wealth. There are shades of the selection in the world setting and the themes involving the royal families. The ideas around using young women to produce children for the very rich felt very much like Wither.

For me what I needed is for those bits that made the book unique to have a bit more development. The girls who could produce children appeared to have some kind of supernatural powers which I wanted to know more about because I didn't understand them from the vagueness given in the book.

I absolutely hated the fact that the book decided to include a forbidden love interest for Violet. I didn't think it was necessary and for me it slowed up the story overall. The ending finishes on a huge cliffhanger which is another real pet hate of mine with first books in a trilogy mostly because by the time I get to book 2 any impact the cliff hanger had will have gone because I will have forgotten book one.

All in all an interesting read which had some potential but book two needs more originality, pace and questions answered to keep me interested in the series.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

From international bestselling author, Scott Westerfeld, comes Afterworlds, a brand new, thought-provoking, suspenseful thriller you won't be able to put down!

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack.

But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

My Thoughts
I have been a fan of Scott Westerfeld for a while. I loved his Uglies series and I really love how diverse he is with his range of novels. I read this novel ages ago and I'm still not sure what I think about it.

The premise behind this novel is interesting. Half of the book is the story of Darcey a teen who moves to New York after getting a book deal. It follows her as she gets into the world of publishing. The second part of the book is the story that Darcey got the book deal for.

I must admit I got bored quickly with Darcey's book. While it started strong and excited I got bored and found myself skimming then skipping that part of the book.

Darcey's story of being published did intrigue me a lot. I've got an insight into how the publishing industry works after a few years of blogging. However I'm not quite sure how it was written for. I didn't see teenagers getting it or being interested in it and for that reason that part of the book felt a bit self indulgent on the authors part.

So as I said an interesting read but definitely not the Westerfeld I will be recommending.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Spirit Blog Tour


Throughout the trilogy, the action moves around a lot – I think it’s pretty clear that I love travelling and I’m very curious about faraway places 

We start off in Edinburgh, on the east coast of Scotland. Edinburgh is a very dark, atmospheric place that has been called ‘the dream of a poet or a serial killer’. Perfect for Sarah, I thought! In particular I always saw Nicholas fitting in there very well there. The scene where he walks down the Royal Mile on a winter’s night is one of my personal favourites. 

Meanwhile, Elodie is in Castelmonte, which is really another name for Caravino, my home village in the north of Italy, and a place I know inside out. It was lovely for me to be able to paint a picture of the mountains and the vineyards and the glacier streams – and not least mention some of the local delicacies! 

Niall and Mike are on Grand Isle in Louisiana – I’ve never been there, so what I describe of the place I found out through research. It’s a fascinating place, with its meeting of cultures and remarkable, natural landscape. I was saddened to find out, while I researched for my Louisiana scenes, that so much of its coast was spoiled by the big oil spill a few years ago. This has been disastrous for both animals and human communities and it broke my heart…

Another location I use is Japan, though it’s only mentioned in passing because Sean, Harry, Elodie and Sean’s former girlfriend (Mary Ann) used to hunt there on behalf of the Ayanami family. Of their time in Japan, I mention the Tokyo metro being invaded by Taizu spirits – this is the subject matter of a short story that I hope to release in one form or another at some point. Japan is a dream destination of mine and I hope I’ll get to visit it sooner or later. 

The second book, Tide, is set on Islay, an island in the Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland. I’ve never been to Islay, but it fascinated me because of its incredible landscape, and I thought it reflected Sarah’s looks and personality well. The Midnight family on its paternal side comes from Islay, where the Midnight mansion stands. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to the Islay Book Festival this year, so I’ll finally get to see my favourite location. 

In Spirit, the scene opens in Venice, where I’ve been many times but I’m still not used to its beauty and dreaminess. Venice was perfect for the mysterious Vendramin family, who reside in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. We also catch a glimpse of the Tuscan hills, where Micol hails from. 

The entrance to the shadow world is in Poland, in the Bialowieza forest, the most ancient forest in Europe. Poland has been in my heart since I visited many years ago, at the age of fifteen. It was so full of culture and history, and the people were friendly and open – for many years I corresponded with a Polish girl called Martyna, whose name I’ve used for Nicholas’ fiancĂ©e. 

Finally, the most spectacular of locations: the Shadow World, the parallel world where demons reside. This is our world, but the way it used to be millions of years ago, frozen in time. It’s a place of terrible beauty and danger, covered in thick forest and populated with fearsome predators. I particularly loved describing its sky, which I imagined perfectly limpid and full of stars, because there are no human sources of light there.
I hope my readers will enjoy travelling with Sarah through Europe and beyond . . . I certainly had a lot of fun doing so!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally? 

My Thoughts

I will admit I didn't finish this book. I literally couldn't do it to myself.  This book is truly awful. I wish I had something nice I could say about it but I really can't.

To start with I hated every single character with a passion. The main character Britt was a complete brat. She was self entitled and had this big thing about being independent and tough. However she was stupid and naive. She walked into stupid situations without thinking. I hated her best friend (kadie? Kodie? Whatever ...) she was even dimmer than her friend and a complete bitch to the girl who was supposed to be her bestie. I wouldn't trust that girl as far as I could throw her. Even Britt questions why this girl is her best friend. What's worse is she is even more spoiled than her bratty best friend. For example this girl is snowed in with no food whatsoever and is offered something to eat then has the audacity to bitch, refuse to eat it and announce she wants fresh salmon instead. All whilst at gun point too.

Plotline was hilariously awful. These girls travel alone up a mountain with a variety of hiking supplies. They get stuck in the snow and rather than bedding down in the various sleeping bags with their food and waiting for it to blow over they decide to go walking in the snow blindly with the hope they might find help. Lo and behold very luckily for they they stumble upon a hut with two hot but incredibly creepy blokes who they happily decide to stay with. From the moment the door is open the alarm bells are wailing but they just happily wander it oblivious to the danger in front of them because the boys look good.

I could go on from pages about the stupidness and awfulness of this book picking out part of the book that made me scream in frustration or howl with laughter. There are so many lines of dialogue which are so bad they are laughable. I got to about page 150 and wanted to shoot all the characters to put myself out of the misery of having to read about them anymore. I'm pretty certain how this book will go without reading and my suspicions have been bore out by reading other reviews on goodreads.

Absolutely the worst book I have read this year. Avoid at all costs.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn

When a new family move in next door, Violet is sure there's something strange about them. Then her eccentric, but lovely neighbour, Dee Dee Derota, has a precious jewel stolen. Could the new family be to blame? Violet is on the case to uncover the truth…

My Thoughts
Violet and the pearl of the orient is everything I wanted from a middle grade detective adventure story. I loved every page of it and didn't want it to end.

Violet is 10 years old and is shocked when her friend and neighbour's very expensive brooch is stolen and is frustrated when the police dismiss the case despite clues that Violet uncovers and presents to them.

I loved Violet as a character and loved her determination and cleverness and loved following her as she worked on the case.

The story itself is beautifully presented with lots of lovely illustrations to go alongside the text including maps. I do love a good map in a book.

If you loved Robin Steven's Murder Most Unladylike you will adore this book too. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Bookcase Showcase: Author Harriet Whitehorn

There are several bookshelves dotted all over the house and they are all a similar mess of authors and genres - I always intend to sort them out but, like tidying my sock drawer, it never happens. Looking through bookshelves is like looking through an old address book; you remember your old friends.

John Fowles was a big teenage crush of mine, and then back before that Monica Dickens, who is nestling up to Mazo de La Roche. When I was twelve I devoured her Jalna saga which is rather like Downton Abbey but set in Canada. Sitting alongside are some of the books I’ve loved recently; Susanna Clarke’s amazing Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell had me engrossed for months and then there’s Rose Tremain, Annie Proulx and Jhumpa Lahiri - all fantastic authors Moving along, there is a section of bookshelf which has the literary survivals of my childhood, and some of my mother

 As you can see from the I come from a long line of firm believers in sellotape. My favourite picture book when I was young was Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner. I couldn’t quite tell you now why I did love it so much, but I remember getting my parents to read it to me over and over again. Over on the far left, squashed next to Alice in Wonderland is Down with Skool! by Geoffrey Williams and Ronald Searle which was the first funny book I read and still makes me chortle. Then a couple of the What Katy Did books by Susan Coolidge. These were a present from my godmother and I think I was as much taken by the red embossed leather covers as their content. And then there’s my childhood copy of the Return of the King- the Fellowship of the Ring and the Two Towers must have disintegrated beyond sellotaping.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Review: This Book is Gay by James Dawson

Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read

My Thoughts
Another brilliant book from James Dawson. What I love about Jame's non fiction works is that they give the facts straight without being judgmental or preachy as well as being frank, informative, funny. I love that is doesn't shy away from the details teenagers want to know but parents and teachers might shy away. I want to buy copies for all the parents and teachers of teenagers I know.  

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review: Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Astra's family are all snoring in their sleeping pods, but Astra is WIDE AWAKE. With her friend, Pilbeam, she goes off exploring and soon finds out the ship is in deep trouble. It's been knocked off course and invaded by a gang of Poglites, an alien salvage crew searching for spoonage.

But even the Poglites need Astra's help when they discover something far more sinister lurking in the canteen. Sure, they're cakes; but no one would describe them as sweet.

My thoughts
This book is a lot younger than I normally read so wasn't expecting much. I was so naive in that mindset because I truly thought it was such a brilliant read.

The story itself is silly and utterly bonkers along with being loads of fun. It made me laugh all the way through and I quite literally couldn't put it down. However what I loved the most about it was the story mixed with the pictures. Granted I only read a proof so all the art work wasn't quite complete but it was already awesome and when finished will make for a stunning book. I will be buying several copies for every little person I know

You'll love this if you enjoyed
Oliver and the Seawigs

Monday, 1 September 2014

Review: Lick by Kylie Scott

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas's plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is certain, being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride.

My Thoughts
This book isn't really my sort of read I must admit. However last month I was struggling with my TBR pile and giving up on books left, right and centre and this was on my shelf and I decided to give something different a whirl.

This book kept me thoroughly entertained. It is a love story in reverse and so hot all the way through. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and liked seeing how their relationship developed in the very strange way it did under the celeb spotlight.

I am very much looking for the next book in the series which I believe is a companion novel I do love a companion series.

You'll love this if you enjoyed ..
Johnny be Good by Paige Toon