Monday, 31 August 2015

August review

I started August reading everything put in front of me and because I was off work that meant I read loads. So much so my TBR pile is now pretty much empty. I've therefore spent a fair bit of time twiddling my thumbs or reading stuff (without much enthusiasm I might add. I have to be in the right mood to reread. Turns out this summer not so much)

Read in August
Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher (3 stars)
Here's looking at you by Mhairi McFarlane (3 stars)
A royal disaster by Meg Cabot (4 stars)
About last night by Adele Parks (3 stars)
Princess in the Middle by Meg Cabot (3 stars)
In the Unlikely event by Judy Blume (4 stars)
Della says OMG by Keris Stainton (4 stars)
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (3 stars)
Fans of the impossible life by Kate Scelsa (2 stars)
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (2 stars)
Black Cairn Point by Claire Mcfall (4 stars)
Early One morning by Virginia Baily (4 stars)
Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick (2 stars)
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman (4 stars)
The Twins at St Clares by Enid Blyton (5 stars)
The Fault in our stars by John Green (5 stars)
All of the above by James Dawson (5 stars)
Buffy: Demons of the Hellmouth (3 stars)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (5 stars)
Paper Towns by John Green (3 stars)
George by Alex Gino (5 stars)

Book of the Month by James Dawson


It is not secret I love James's books so book of the month for this month should come as no surprise. Very much enjoyed it and everything it stood for with regards to diversity and fluidity of teen sexuality.

Events attended
None. I wanted to get to a couple over the summer but they clashed with other things I had planned.

On the blog
Reviews
House of Windows by Alexia Casale
I Knew you were Trouble by Paige Toon
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Sunkissed by Jenny MacLachlan
The Secrets of Sam and Sam by Susie Day
Darkmere by Helen Maslin
Dark House by Dawn Kutragich

Blog Tours
Black Cairn Point Author Guest Post
Dead House: Truth or Dare Carly guest post

On September's TBR pile
Paper Towns by John Green
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Friday, 28 August 2015

One by Sarah Crossan




Grace and Tippi are twins - conjoined twins. And their lives are about to change. No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world - a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love? But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined...From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

My thoughts
There are no words to do justice to how perfect this book is. Just wonderful.

I didn't think I liked books that were written in prose but boy was I wrong. This book had me hooked from the first line and a sobbing mess by the end. It is so beautifully written.

The story revolves around the story of Grace and Tippi conjoined twins and the challenges they face on a daily basis are fascinating. Beyond the obvious physical challenges the way in which they are treated by people who meet them and treat them like they should be an exhibit in a zoo made me cross at humanity even though you can see why people are so curious about them.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and am probably going to reread very soon.
 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett






Feeling alive is always worth the risk.

Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco's night bus—turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive...and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists.

But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.


My thoughts
This book is wonderful. It was one of those books that I knew very little about when it first arrived at my house and I wasn't really all that sure what to expect when I did finally pick it up but boy I glad I did read it. I love this book and adore Jack and Bex

For me this book was all about the mysterious boy. I adored Jack from his first scene and as the story progressed I fell for him hard. I think it was all the charm that made me swoon. He's just so awesome in his ways.

I really loved Bex as a character too. She's so interesting in her outlook and the way in which she lives her life. I loved her for herself and shipped her and Jack so hard because they are a brilliant couple.

I won't go into too much detail about the story itself because I don't want to ruin it for anyone. Needless to say I adored the story and will be pushing it onto anyone and everyone who will listen

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Dead House Mirror Tour: Truth or Dare Carly





THE DEAD HOUSE MIRROR TOUR

25th August 2015:
Truth or Dare?
CARLY



TRUTH or DARE
?

Truth.

Q: Are you in love?


Yes. But since you didn’t ask whom I’m in love with, I don’t need to say. I will tell you that if you read between the lines, it will be very, very obvious. Worse for me.




Check out my US tour buddy's post at http://ratherbereadingblog.com/ 
for Kaitlin's version of today's post

Follow the rest of the tour on twitter #thedeadhouse @bookswithbiteUK


Monday, 24 August 2015

Can't wait to read

I've done the virtually impossible and managed to clear my TBR pile after a long summer of reading. Therefore these are the books I am dying to get my hands onto next and desperately waiting for so I have something new to read.

Crush by Eve Ainsworth


Love hurts ... but should it hurt this much? Reeling from her mum's sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He's handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He's also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends, her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna's world is closing in. But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control... Eve Ainsworth's gripping second novel is a pitch-perfect exploration of love at its most powerful, addictive and destructive.

I enjoyed Eve's last book and I'm very much looking forward to reading more from her.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Code Name Verity meets Inglourious Basterds in this fast-paced novel from the author of The Walled City.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?


I've heard nothing but awesome things about this one. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy because if it is even half as good as I've been promised it'll be brilliant. 

Anything that isn't this by Chris Priestley






Seventeen-year-old Frank Palp lives in a grim little apartment, in a grim little building, in an exceedingly grim (and rather large) city. Cobbled streets and near-destroyed bridges lead one through Old Town and Old New Town, and war-damaged houses stand alongside post-war characterless, concrete hutches. Most people walk hunched over, a habit from avoiding snipers, but others are proud to stand tall and make the world take notice . . . This is a city full of contradictions, and Frank is no exception.

He mostly hates his life, he definitely hates the ludicrous city he is forced to live in and he absolutely with complete certainty hates the idiots he's surrounded by . . . and yet he is in love. A love so pure and sparkling and colourful, Frank feels sure it is 'meant to be'. His love is a reward for all the terrible grey that he is surrounded by - which would be great, if the girl in question knew he existed. And then one day, the perfect sign lands in his lap. A message, in a bottle. A wish, for 'anything that isn't this'. The girl who wrote this is surely his soulmate - and now he just needs to find her.


Another one where I want to read it purely because of the author. I've not read a new Chris Priestley in ages and this looks awesome.

Here we lie by Sophie McKenzie





On holiday with family and her adoring fiance, Jed, Emily couldn't be happier. But overnight, the idyllic trip turns into a waking nightmare when one of the group is found dead in what appears to be a terrible accident.

The devastated party returns to London to cope with their loss while trying to resume their normal lives. But new revelations shed a shocking light on the holiday tragedy and set Emily on a perilous journey to discover the truth about what happened.

Soon a terrifying series of threats and lies bring her face to face with the dark truths at the heart of her family - and into life-threatening danger...


I love Sophie McKenzie's books and cannot wait for this one. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich


Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you've finished reading.


My thoughts
This book is messed up.

Dead creepy and completely unputdownable. I loved how it was told via a variety of mediums including diary extracts, interviews and reports. The whole idea of one body hosting two different people was a really weird one to get your head around. You just can't quite work out what is going on and as a consequence the entire book is dead creepy.

I can't do the book justice in words just go out and buy it read it and be totally freaked out.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Darkmere by Helen Maslin


A castle. A curse. A dangerous summer. Leo has invited Kate and a few friends to spend the summer at his inheritance, Darkmere Castle: as wild and remote as it is beautiful. Kate thinks it will be the perfect place for her and Leo to get together - but instead, she's drawn into the dark story of a young nineteenth-century bride who haunts the tunnels and towers of the house. And whose curse now hangs over them all.

My thoughts

I heard about Darkmere a while back and was looking forward to getting my hands on a copy for a while. It turns out it was a mixed bad for me and here's why.

Starting with the positive. I really enjoyed the historical parts of the novel. The story of Elinor really got to me. The sheer injustice of the existence she is forced to live because she is a girl and because her family want her to marry well made me angry. I really felt for her with every page and was fascinated by the world she lived in.

However I did not gel at all with the modern parts of the novel.I really didn't like Kate as a character. I didn't like the constant references to the characters being stoned. Don't get me wrong I know that happens but I thought the portrayal was blinkered because I don't think most kids smoke weed as heavily as that on a frequent basis. Call me naive if you will.

I am looking forward to what the author writes next.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Secrets of Sam and Sam by Susie Day



Sam likes being a twin. He likes having two mums. He likes cheese sandwiches and his dog and drawing comics with his friend Pea. He does not like humous - or heights...

His twin sister Sammie likes being a twin too. She knows that she's perfect best friend material for somebody - the girls in her class just haven't realised yet. And she knows that she's the best Sam - Sam A.

Both Sam and Sammie - and everybody in their lives seems to be keeping secrets - which ones will come out?

Meet the very different twins and their very different problems in this funny, heart-warming story of modern family life for boys and girls.


My thoughts
Another fabulous read from Susie Day with lots of heart and thoughfulness challenging stereotypes and labeling. Really lovely.

I love the contrast between the twins and how their personalities break stereotypes with each twin actively encouraged to be the person they want to be without worrying about the different expectations society can put on them. Parents of young children should all be forced to read this.

I also liked the outlook this book had on family. The twins are raised by a Lesbian couple and think nothing of it. It was interesting to see the reactions of people who were not familiar to the family. I loved how the story showed that what is important is the people who are there in your life as opposed to the ones who aren't no matter whether they are blood related or not.

A fantastic and thoughtful read. Very much recommended.
 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sunkissed by Jenny McLachlan


Following on from Flirty Dancing and Love Bomb, Jenny McLachlan's next book is perfect summer holiday reading for fans of Geek Girl and Louise Rennison.

Kat can't believe her family are sending her to Sweden for the summer. But without her friends, or even a phone signal, can Kat make it on her own?

In a land of saunas, nudity and summer sun, Kat soon realises she has nowhere to hide. It's time to embrace who she really is, underneath what she's been thinking people want her to be. Especially if she's going to win the heart of mega fit Swede Leo! Can Kat find her inner strength and prove she's got what it takes?

Kat soon finds that when you're surrounded by phosphorescence and wonder it's easy to sparkle. Or maybe that's what happens when you fall in love . Or maybe you only shine when you're true to yourself.
 


My thoughts
It's no secret I am a fan of this series. I've enjoyed each book before this one but I think this has to be the favourite of my series so far.

I must admit I was a bit worried when I first started it because Kat starts the book very much into her appearance and internet connection and hair straightners. However once the story starts going and she gets to the remote island she is spending the summer on she really changes. I love how funny she is and I love how sweet she is. I loved seeing her grow as a person over the course of the story and seeing how much she changed.

A fabulously funny story which is full of heart and brilliantly entertaining.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot


Mia Thermopolis is pretty sure there's nothing worse than being a five-foor-nine, flat-chested freshman, who also happens to be flunking Algebra.

Is she ever in for a surprise.

First Mom announces that she's dating Mia's Algebra teacher. Then Dad has to go and reveal that he is the crown prince of Genovia. And guess who still doesn't have a date for the Cultural Diversity Dance?
 


My thoughts
I really enjoyed this having spent so many years now without reading them. I'm not going to review as such as I think that all that can be said about these books is out there in the world. I can say I really enjoyed it and found it such an easy and funny read that I am very much looking forward to reading through the rest of the series as and when the rest of the new covers are reissued. I must admit I was never tempted to pick the series up because the old covers were so dated and cartoon childlike that it put me off whereas the new ones are so up to date that they make me want to pick them up.

Since finishing the first one I managed to get new covers of book 2 and 3 which are at the top of my TBR pile for the summer holidays


 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Black Cairn Point Blog Tour: Guest Post by Claire McFall

I am very pleased to have Claire McFall on the blog today to coincide with the release of her new book Black Cairn Point









Look at me!  Look at me!

Most writers have the same dream: they’ll write an incredible novel, a publisher will snap it up and transform it into a real, live ink and pages book… and it’ll sell millions of copies and be widely praised (said writer will then make bundles and bundles of money, but of course that’s not why they’re doing it…). 

What doesn’t occur to a lot of people, and didn’t occur to me, is the step in between getting the book in your hands, and getting the book in other people’s hands: publicising it.

Most people who know me wouldn’t believe this, but I’m actually quite shy and insecure. No, really.  OK, in room full of strangers I’ll likely be the first one to speak and break the ice… but give me a compliment and I’ll do one of two things: deny it and say something derogatory about myself, or burst into flames of embarrassment. So the thought of going out there and saying “hey, here’s my book.  It’s awesome, you should read it” kind of makes me want to crawl into a tiny dark hole and hide there forever.

Alas, such actions don’t sell books. There are two main avenues available to connect with your audience: social media and the internet (hi!), and face to face author talks.  Both are great mediums of communication… and both have the fear factor for the first time (and, ahem, third time) author.  

The internet is amazing.  Seriously, it is.  Back when I was at school, we had ONE computer hooked up to the internet, and there were no firewalls (to stop naughty boys googling “boobies”) so the scary librarian had to stand behind you and watch every site you logged on to in order to make sure you didn’t see anything you shouldn’t (like, say, boobies).  If you needed to find out a fact, nine times out of ten you had to look it up in an encyclopaedia or reference book, which was tedious.  And keeping in touch with a pal who lived far away (i.e. outside of your village)? You had to write a letter! In promotional terms, sites like Facebook and Twitter are incredible because they open you up to a huge audience you could never hope to individually connect with otherwise and, much more importantly, it means that readers can connect with you! Nothing makes my day like someone e-mailing, Facebook posting or Tweeting (not, I have learned, Twittering) and saying they enjoyed one of my books.
But oh, man, is the internet scary.  I have a website (www.clairemcfall.co.uk).  Building it was hard.  You have to buy a host name, then figure out how to create pages.  And then, when things change, like having a new book out, you have to relearn how to use the software because, to be honest, you weren’t really sure what you were doing in the first instance.  

Then there’s Facebook and Twitter.  An author’s chance to chat one-on-one with readers.  But what if no one wants to chat with me?  What if I say something stupid?  What if someone comes on and tells me they don’t like my book???

Oh, and that’s the other scary thing about the ‘net – reviews don’t just appear in magazines and newspapers anymore.  Oh no, they're online.  And anyone can review you – to a potentially limitless audience.  Ridicule is just a Google search away...  I’ve been quite lucky in that most reviews have been really pretty positive, but everyone gets a bad review at some point.  And it’s crushing. You can’t say anything in response, either.  That’s pretty much the number one no-no.  You just have to grin and bear it… and try not to read it over and over again as you sob into your pillow (wine glass). 
That’s okay, though: no one can see you.  Face to face promo events, not so much.

I have my own little author nightmare: I’m at a book signing, sat there in my good outfit (a skirt, no less) with my special silver pen, my little stamp and ink , and stacks and stacks of my books.  And not a soul in sight. Just me, a hopeful expression on my pathetic little face.

This has never actually happened to me, but I live in absolute fear of it every single time. I won’t even have birthday parties, you know, just in case.  At the Edinburgh Festival, I was convinced that there would be no one there, just a sea of empty benches… right up until the organiser told me it was sold out (don’t be too impressed, it was a small tent). Then, of course, there’s the live factor.  Online, you can write things in advance (like this!) or at least take a moment (I really should do this more often) to think before you post a Tweet. When you’re talking to people at an event, you have to react fast.  Last year, I was at a festival doing a talk with another author and the floor was thrown open for discussion.  The first question was for her and it was an absolute stinker! All I can remember is thinking Oh thank God it’s her, I’d have no idea what to say!

Then, of course, there’s the potential for public humiliation.  I’ll give you an example: I did a talk at a school in Edinburgh where I was given a (big) bottle of water – because talking is thirsty work – and a clicker for the PowerPoint.  I won’t bore you with the full, hideously mortifying version, but I managed to completely smash the clicker whilst at the same time knocking two litres of water all over the carpeted floor, causing three rows of girls to have to hike their feet and hold their bags up in the air for the entire talk.  I then had to speak for thirty more minutes when what I really wanted to do was, well, die.

But, you know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I didn’t die. I sold some books, and I was definitely memorable. Now I look back at it and laugh (into my wine glass). As I gear myself up to promote Black Cairn Point – oh hey, yeah.  I have a new book out!  You should read it! – I’m sure there will be many more.

Now, when do I get my millions of sales, world-wide acclaim and bundles and bundles of money…?
Thank you so much to Kirsty @ Overflowinglibrary for allowing me to take over her blog with my ramblings for the day! Cxxx

Friday, 7 August 2015

First Class Murder by Robin Stevens


Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are taking a holiday through Europe on the world-famous Orient Express. From the moment the girls step aboard, it's clear that each of their fellow first-class passengers has something to hide. Even more intriguing: rumour has it that there is a spy in their midst.

Then, during dinner, there is a bloodcurdling scream from inside one of the cabins. When the door is broken down, a passenger is found murdered, her stunning ruby necklace gone. But the killer is nowhere to be seen - almost as if they had vanished into thin air.


Daisy and Hazel are faced with their first ever locked-room mystery - and with competition from several other sleuths, who are just as determined to crack the case as they are.


My thoughts
Just as fabulous as I'd hoped. I thoroughly enjoyed the latest instalment in the Wells and Wong series. I loved that it was set on the orient express and I loved the comment it had to say about the snobbery and class system the book is set in. As with previous books I was kept guessing throughout and needed to keep reading as fast as possible as I needed to know what happened next.

Bring on book four!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

I knew you were trouble by Paige Toon


Life as the undercover daughter of a rock god isn't going to be easy. How will Jessie adjust to her old boring life again after spending her summer living it up with her dad in LA? With tough decisions ahead (and not just choosing between two hot boys), can she cope juggling her two very different lives?
Summer may be over, but Jessie's story is just beginning…


My thoughts
I always enjoy a Paige Toon book and this book was no exception.

I knew you were trouble is the follow up to The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson and picks up where book one left off at the end of the summer Jessie spent with her long lost father rockstar Johnny Jefferson. After spending the summer in LA Jessie finds herself back to reality in the UK faced with the final year of high school, trying to fit in with her old friends and keeping her head below the radar in order to not alert the press to who she is.

Inevitably the press find out about Jessie and she finds herself struggling to carry on as normal with her secret out and Jessie has to decide whether she is going to tough it out or embrace her new life completely.

I really enjoyed seeing how Jessie's story develops over the course of the book. She isn't always the most likeable of characters but seeing her coming to terms with what it means to be the long lost daughter of a rockstar is really interesting. I liked the comments the story had about friendship and family and who you should trust with your secrets.

All in all a story I really enjoyed. I am already looking forward to book three.

Monday, 3 August 2015

House of Windows by Alexia Casale


'The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.' Robert Louis Stevenson

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...
 


My thoughts
I really enjoyed this book.

I really liked seeing how Nick dealt with going to Cambridge University at such a young age and seeing how he coped with the challenges that brought with it. It said a lot about whether children should be pushed to advance beyond their years when you saw the social isolation he felt because he was such an oddity amongst his peers and for that alone I really felt for him.

I loved how this book showcased Cambridge as a city and it has left me desperately wanting to go back and visit again as it has been far too long since I had the chance to wander around the city.

This book also had a lot to say about family which was really heartfelt and thoughtful

All in all definitely a book I would recommend although be warned it is rather a slow burner