Saturday, 28 February 2015

February Review

February has been a funny old month for me reading wise. There were bits where I read a lot and then other things got in the way and then I read barely anything for the last week of February.

Books read
This is Shyness by Leanne Hall (3 stars)
Violet and the Hidden Treasure by Harriet Whitehorn (5 stars)
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan (4 stars)
The Boy in the Smoke by Maureen Johnson (4 stars)
Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell (4 stars)
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon (4 stars)
Picture Perfect by Holly Smale (4 stars)
Sequins, Stars and Spotlights by Sophia Bennet (4 stars)
Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall (3 stars)
The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt (4 stars)
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (5 stars)
Pea's Book of Birthday by Susie Day (4 stars)
The X Files season 10 volume one (4 stars)
Binny for short by Hilary McKay (3 stars)
Big Game by Dan Smith (2 stars)
One of Us by Jeannie Waudby (2 stars)
Seed by Lisa Heathfield (4 stars)
Spotlight on Sunny by Keris Stainton (5 stars)
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (4 stars)
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls (4 stars)
This is not a love story by Keren David (5 stars) 

Book of the Month





I have been waiting for this for ages and loved it as much as I expected I would. It is fabulous. Review to come tomorrow on this one.

Events attended 

picture taken by egmont staff

I was lucky enough to go along to Egmont's blogger event during Half Term. It was brilliant to see all the lovely bloggers who attended. We got to hear about several of Egmont's future releases which all sound brilliant. Highlight of the event for me was the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Wein and to hear about all the research she had done for her next release Black Dove, White Raven. I also got to meet debut author Lisa Heathfield and the goody bag contained signed book goodness in the form of a signed proof of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls which was very exciting indeed.

On the blog

Reviews
I reviewed Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth. I enjoyed it but found the writing style wasn't exactly to my taste but would be very keen to read more from the author in the future.
I posted a review of Sarah Benwell's Last Leaves Falling which I adored.
I did mini reviews of Katy Cannon's books which are super cute.
I reviewed Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson  which featured one of the hottest YA boys I've read in a long time.
I also did mini reviews of Leanne Hall's This is Shyness and Queen of the Night
I also reviewed Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan which was also really cute.

Blog Tour
I was lucky enough to take part in a few blog tours this month.
Firstly was a guest post from author Catherine Doyle as part of the Vendetta Blog tour
Next up AJ Grainger dropped by to do a Bookcase Showcase guest post
I had another guest post as part of the Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines blog tour
Sarah Crossan also dropped by to do a Bookcase Showcase guest post as part of her Apple and Rain tour.
I interviewed Keris Stainton as part of the UKYA extravaganza Blog Tour
I took part in the Rebecca Newton Blog tour and offered a Kindle for a giveaway (it is still open FYI)
Finally Curtis Jobling dropped in to do guest post as part of the Haunt Blog Tour

Other stuff
I wrote a post for Tombola Times about my most anticipated release of 2015 
I wrote a post about the books I am most looking forward

On March's TBR pile
I have a lovely pile of books I am looking forward to reading.
The Magnificient Maggie Brown by Vicki Lockwood
Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow
If you were me by Sam Hepburn
Hook's Daughter by Heidi Schulz
Gypsy Girl by Kathryn James
Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne






Haunt Dead Wrong Blog Tour: Guest Post from Curtis Jobling



CHILDHOOD DAZE

When I'm on author visits to schools, I often get asked what the best thing is about my job. My answer's simple: I'm a professional daydreamer. I get to think up stories for a living, and sometimes I get paid for it and they get turned into books. Even better those books occasionally get bought! How did I end up doing this? I can trace it, via a circuitous route, back to my childhood.

I was never happier than when doodling or playing with toys, and that's not just when I was a toddler but throughout my primary years. My mum was to thank for this, always ensuring I had a crayon in each hand like some ambidextrous Jedi child prodigy. I drew everywhere and on everything. I watched cartoons, I devoured movies, especially Star Wars and the works of stop motion animation giant Ray Harryhausen. I was that kid at the bottom of the garden making a tree house in his mum's cherry blossom tree. Not a tree house for me, I should add. Oh no, that'd make far too much sense. The tree house was in miniature and was for my Action Man figures. Dollies, for want of a better word. That's right, I played with dolls. Wanna make something of it?

The tree house consisted of floorboards, walkways, lifts, rope ladders, winches, hammocks and huts. I kid you not, if I hadn't gone into a career as a puppetmaker or writer, a future in structural engineering awaited. And there I'd spend my time, creating scenarios and adventures for my Action Man, acting them out and generally getting lost in my old little world. I know I'm not alone, other authors did this too, including my good chum Adam Gidwitz, only you can switch Action Man for GI Joe and you're on the money. This was where my storytelling began.

The earliest book I recall getting my grubby mitts on was Where the Wild Things Are. I distinctly recall being transported away to the lands of the Wild Things along with Max in his little boat. At Junior School there was my obsession with The Fighting Fantasy series of Choose Your Own Adventure titles - this is where my love or roleplaying games began. Then The Hobbit entered my life, and I was bitten by the fantasy bug for life. 

Roll on secondary school, where I happened upon Dungeons & Dragons. My friends and I would get together once or twice a week and play the game, only my mates couldn't be bothered learning the rules. Therefore I learned the rules therefore I ran the game, and that's where I learned to tell a tale and spin a yarn, playing that great escapist game with my friends.

I've got my love of all these things to thank for the fabulous careers I've enjoyed as an adult. If I hadn't doodled incessantly as a child, I may not have pursued illustration into art college and gone on to design and create shows like Bob the Builder and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion. If I hadn't fallen in love with picture books perhaps I'd never written and illustrated those picture books, like Frankenstein's Cat. If I hadn't obsessed over stop motion animation, I may never have got the chance to work on Wallace & Gromit and Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! And if I'd never got lost in my own imagination, creating my own adventures, I probably wouldn't have gone on to become a novelist. 

I have all those childhood interests to thank for becoming the daydreamy adult you (virtually) see before you today. I'm forever thankful to my mum for encouraging me with those games and hobbies as a child. I was never told to put those toys down or get my head out of my sketchbooks. She actively encouraged me to pursue my hobbies to their fullest, and I think there's a lesson for every parent there. Put a toy in your child's hand, or a crayon, or a book. See where they take it. At the very least, they'll have a terrific hobby throughout their childhood and perhaps into adulthood. At the most, they may be able to make a living out of the thing that they love. There aren't many people who get to do that. I count myself very fortunate.


Will and Dougie are still adjusting to the slight change in their friendship dynamic in this funny and supernatural tale. Will’s dead but Dougie can still see him. Weird, admittedly, but there are some positives: solving a murder mystery (with the help of former living best friend), becoming a local hero and getting the girl of your dreams are pretty big perks. But what happens when the girl is Will’s crush too? The first (and last!) girl he ever kissed? And why has Dougie’s dad been acting all weird
ever since Will died? Just as things are beginning to go right for Will, it seems he couldn’t have been more wrong. . .

Visit Curtis Jobling at: www.curtisjobling.com
Twitter: @CurtisJobling

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan


When Apple's mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bittersweet. It's only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are.

A story about sad endings.
A story about happy beginnings.
A story to make you realise who is special.


I don't actually want to review this book mostly because whatever I say about it I think I am going to spoil it for someone else and that'd be a real shame because there are things in this book I would have been cross had they been spoiled for me.

I will say that I really enjoyed it. It was one of those books I ended up staying up much later than I had intended to finish because I needed to know how things would turn out. What I took away from it was the message that family is really important in whatever form it comes in and how it shouldn't be taken for granted.

Just go and buy a copy. It is fabulous.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Can't wait to read

So I've caught up on my TBR pile again. This means unless I start rereading stuff I have nothing to read and will end up spending my time looking online at all the books I want but can't yet have. Here are a selection of the ones I want the most this month.

Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger






Kody Keplinger returns to the world of The DUFF in this brand-new companion novel! Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend's house every night because she has nowhere else to go. Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with -- secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross. Ryder's the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can't stand -- a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed. But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there's one small catch: he thinks he's been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she's the girl he's really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

There aren't many America authors I actively get excited about. Kody is an exception. I've loved every single one of her books I have read and cannot wait for this. 

Spotlight on Sunny by Keris Stainton



A story about discovering who you are, sorting out friendships and family relationships, also exploring what it is like to grow up as a Muslim in Britain.

After winning a local film competition, Sunny and her best friends Kitty and Hannah are off to do a film-making course - in London! Sunny can't believe her dad has let her come on her own (even if he has asked her to phone every day...) Sunny is loving the film-making classes and hanging out with their new friend - lovely, funny Will. Sunny knows that these things don't fit with the future her parents want for her and she starts to wonder what she really wants. And that's not even the biggest thing on her mind - there's also the big secret she's hiding from her best friends...


It is no secret that I adore Keris's books. I am so incredibly excited to get my hands on this.

All that Glitters by Holly Smale






Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she's a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that's not necessarily a good thing...

I love this series and I am so cross that I won't be able to read it this month because I refuse to buy a hardback copy when I could only buy book one and two in paperback. I've literally only just caught up on the 3rd book for precisely that reason. Don't they understand how important it is that books match? 

House of Windows by Alexis Casale



Nick hates it when people call him a genius. Sure, he's going to Cambridge University aged 15, but he says that's just because he works hard. And, secretly, he only works hard to get some kind of attention from his workaholic father. Not that his strategy is working. When he arrives at Cambridge, he finds the work hard and socialising even harder. Until, that is, he starts to cox for the college rowing crew and all hell breaks loose..

Alexis is an author I have only recently discovered and I can't wait to read this now. Also I love Cambridge so very excited to read this for that too. 

The Lost and Found by Cat Clarke



 

LOST.

When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.

FOUND.

Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…


I honestly couldn't care what this book is about. I want it because Cat wrote it and I am very much certain I will adore it.

PS I still love you by Jenny Han



Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?


I loved the first book. I fully expect to adore this too.

This is not a love story by Keren David




Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that's impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father's unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn't take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?

In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time.

But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone's heart survive?


Another author whose books I adore. Looking forward to this one a lot

Monday, 23 February 2015

The story behind Rebecca Newton by Mario Routi

I am delighted today to have a guest post from author Mario Routi to coincide with the release of the second book in the Rebecca Newton Trilogy and to be able to offer you the chance to win a Kindle.



In the second instalment of the epic Rebecca Newton trilogy, the reader is once again transported to the mythical and mysterious Land of the White Sun. Princess Leylah, daughter of Rebecca Newton and King Turgoth, is growing up and so is her power to foresee future events. 

Leylah has discovered that she is the Oracle, and contains gifts of unimaginable influence. She may be, but Leylah hasn’t escaped typical teenage growing pains – when she meets the handsome and charismatic Alexander, son of the noble Lady Felicia and Lord Leiko, the chemistry is undeniable. Leylah finds herself falling for Alexander, but does he feel the same? While Leyah battles with her feelings, dark forces are at work elsewhere. The Titans are amassing an army, an army big enough to take over Earth. All they need is the Sacred Flame to enable them to send their evil plan spiralling into action. To make matters worse, Zeus and the other Gods are unaware of their enemies’ plans.

Leylah, Rebecca, Bull the Minotaur and their friends face their greatest challenges ever in the Land of the White Sun and Tartarus, where they will need to go on a perilous quest - a matter of life and death for their loved ones and life as they know it. Will the newly discovered Oracle of Utopia be able to uncover the plans in time to save all the worlds? 

An explosive collision between Good and Evil...A never-ending conflict...A romance that becomes lethal...A duel that will determine the future of all the worlds. This epic novel will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and George R.R Martin’s epic world building in his Game of Thrones novels 

Author Mario Routi has written a guest post about the story behind Rebecca Newton .... 

Years ago, during an evening at a well known restaurant where I was with friends, I was approached by an old man who said he had been looking for me for days. I didn’t know him and was very surprised – at first I thought my friends were playing some kind of joke on me! He started asking me things about my first book, Orizon, saying that he was sure that he knew where parts of my fantasy world had come from.  He then started telling me that the fictitious world I had built up in my book was real, that he’s been there, that I should go too and that he was willing to take me. I was sure that the whole thing was some kind of a prank, but then the old man gave me his card and told me to call him. I saw his name - he was a famous explorer of mystery phenomenons. 

I decided to call him and hear more of what he had to say and so we met. In the meeting, there was another man present, he was a Colonel in the Greek army. He started telling us a story of being on the Mountain Olympus with the old man, about how they went into a cave and at the end of the cave a mysterious fog covered the rocks.  Behind it, the man claimed, a whole world existed. People were living in another realm, he said,  walking around in Ancient Greek style clothes, going about their daily business. The old man encouraged him to throw a stone towards the fog-covered rocks and so he did, using all his power, but the stone only flew a meter before falling on the floor, as if it hit an invisible wall. The old man told me that behind this invisible wall is the world that I wrote about, the Land of the White Sun, which is a parallel dimension and many mythical creatures live there; including centaurs and minotaurs and flying horses.
Of course, I didn’t believe him, and passed him ramblings off as those of a mad-man, but what if he had been right, I began to think. What if there was a parallel world beyond the rocks. For years, fantasy authors have used the trope of the parallel universe:  Tolkien, Lewis and Julius Vern to name a few.  The old man died a few years later and I never saw the military man ever again.  I have, on several occasions, gone to the place in the mountains where they said the cave lay, but I couldn't even find the cave. 

So what came out of this encounter? Well I’ve certainly taken elements of what the old man described and worked them into the world of Rebecca Newton. I am as inspired today to write about The Land of the White Sun as I was all those years ago, and I only hope people reading my books enjoy entering my fantasy land as much as I enjoyed writing it! 

Mario Routi
London, Feb 7th 2015

To celebrate the publication of Rebecca Newton and the Last Oracle, I have a brand new kindle and a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader. 

To be in with a chance of winning, simply tweet your answer to the following question to @overflowingklc and @MarioRouti using the hashtag #RebeccaNewton:

‘If you were granted one superpower, what would it be?’

Friday, 20 February 2015

UKYA Extravaganza: Interview with Keris






 Today I am extremely excited to have Keris Stainton on the blog with an interview. It is no secret that Keris is one of my favourite authors and I cannot wait for her newest books to be published later this year.



Tell us a bit about your up and coming release Spotlight on Sunny. 

It's the second book in the Reel Friends series (the first, Starring Kitty, came out last year) and this one focusses on Sunny, who is British Asian. The girls go to London for a film-making course and Sunny also has to deal with an annoying roommate, a cute boy, and the secret she's keeping from Kitty and Hannah. 

I love that the characters in your books are diverse and was especially excited to hear that Sunny was getting her own book. Why is it so important to include diverse characters in fiction?

Quite simply because the world is diverse, the readers are diverse, why wouldn't you show that in fiction?! There are so many people doing amazing things in this area now - not least the fantastic We Need Diverse Books campaign - but the thing that really made me stop and think was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story. She said, "Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify... I did not know that people like me could exist in literature. " Everyone should watch it.
  


Starring Kitty and Spotlight on Sunny have been classes as MG by some and YA by others. Which do you think it is? Does it matter?

I think because they are probably in the grey area between MG and YA! I think maybe that's what 'clean teen' is, but I'm not sure. I think of them as 10-14-ish and that's not really a category that we have (even though LOADS of books fit right in there). I'm not sure if it does matter, to be honest. I go back and forth. I think maybe it does because we have the UKYA campaigns and the wonderful new MG Strikes Back site, so the in between books might get missed because they're not so easily categorised, but do readers really take much notice of these categories anyway? I don't know. Clear as mud, sorry.

I love series that are companion novels rather than the traditional series. Will there be more from Kitty, Sunny and their friends?

I hope so! Would love for Hannah to get her own book too, but no news yet.  

I also want to know more about Counting Stars your next novel. Can you tell us anything yet?

I think so... It's set in Liverpool and it's for older readers. Older than anything I've written before (under my own name anyway). It's about a group of friends sharing a house and working, having fun, getting drunk, making terrible decisions... I hope it's real and funny and a little bit sexy. I'm loving writing it. 

Which authors do you draw inspiration from when writing?

I'm incredibly lucky to have a fabulous group of writer friends who are always there (online) when I need encouragement or support or a kick up the backside, so they're my main inspiration. Books-wise, I'm not sure I'd be writing YA if I hadn't read Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries series.  

Which book has been your favourite read in the past year?

Okay so my favourite read of the past year was a One Direction fanfic. Shut up. (Seriously though.) That aside - ahem - Pea's Book of Holidays by Susie Day is full of joy. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill blew me away (and depressed the hell out of me, but still). I thought Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman was brilliant. Oh and not YA (or MG) but I think everyone should read What the **** Is Normal? by Francesca Martinez. (Sorry, were you hoping for just one?) 

Which five characters from fiction would you invite to a dinner party and why? 

Oh help. This is too hard. Can I take five from the One Direction fanfic? You know why.