Monday, 29 February 2016

February review

It's been a funny month for me reading wise. I've read a lot, so much so that I cleared my TBR pile completely around the middle of February . I've been a really moody reader and as a consequence I've DNFed a lot.

Read in February
Party Princess by Meg Cabot (4 stars)
Violet and the Smugglers by Harriet Whitehorn and Becka Moor (4 stars)
Not if I see you first by Eric Lindstorm (4 stars)
Lady Midnight by Cassie Clare (4 stars)
Just haven't met you yet by Cate Woods (4 stars)
Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (4 stars)
I'd Tell you I Love you, but then I'd have to kill you by Ally Carter (4 stars)
Book of Lies by Teri Terry (2 stars)
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield (5 stars)
Veronica Mars: Mr Kiss and Tell (4 stars)
Cross my heart and hope to spy by Ally Carter (3 stars)
Eleanor by Jason Gurley (3 stars)
Don't judge a girl by her cover by Ally Carter (3 stars)
The versions of us by Laura Barnett (3 stars)
Spot the difference by Juno Dawson (5 stars)
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars)
Fallout by Gwenda Bond (3 stars)
Kill the Boyband by Goldy Moldavsky (3 stars)
Only the good spy young by Ally Carter (3 stars)
twenty questions for Gloria by Martyn Bedford (4 stars)

Book of the Month

It has to be paper butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. No cover to show you yet as it isn't out until the summer but be ready for it. It is a brilliant brilliant book.

Events Attended
I toddled off to London (via Kent, thanks for putting me up for a few nights Sarah) to Faber's blogger event. I got to meet the lovely Alwyn Hamilton for the first time after chatting to her on twitter for ages and see Laure Eve again. I got a lovely bunch of books I'm currently working through and got to hear about all their exciting new titles. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of The Graces.

March's TBR pile
Out of sight, out of time by Ally Carter
Perijee and Me by Ross Montgomery
Highly illogical behaviour by John Corey Whaley
carry on by Rainbow Rowell
The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans
The One-in-a-million Boy by Monica Wood
Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave
The Dark days Club by Alison Goodman
The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham
The Book of Pearl by Timothee Fombelle

Friday, 26 February 2016

Faux Taxidermy: 15 Wild Animal Knitting Patterns by Louise Walker

Faux Taxidermy Knits offers you 15 fabulously quirky and fun knitting patterns that tap into the massive trend for taxidermy inspired craft projects with an ironic twist!
Split into two sections, wearables and habitat, this unique book includes knitting patterns from moose and badger wall hangings and tiger rugs, to fox stoles and claw mittens for the modern, young knitter

My thoughts
I came across Louise's patterns a while back and after Christmas I ordered the book along with a goody bag from Louise herself via Etsy. The goody bag included a signed copy of the book, knitting needles and the yarn and eyes needed to make the scarf on the cover.

I started off immediately with having a go at the fox scarf. I've knitted for a while now and I found the pattern really easy to follow. At one point I did get worried that the wool that I'd been sent was going to run out before I'd finished but I was panicking needlessly. The body of the scarf was probably the worst bit. It seemed to take an age to get the 350+ rows done but once I got that done I seemed to speed through the rest of the pattern and finished it in just over two weeks. It was very much worth spending time blocking this until I did that it all kept curling up on itself but once I'd blocked it everything sat nicely. I've never bothered to block anything before but actually seeing the benefit of doing so with this means I'm more likely to get it a go another time. I really did enjoy making this pattern and can see me making a grey variant at some point in the not so distant future.

As for the rest of the book. Some of them are a bit too dead animalesque for my tastes e.g moose head and the pheasants, especially when I live in the same house as a former vegetarian who really wouldn't appreciate them, but I cannot wait to get started on the owl tea cosy, the mole hill and paw mittens.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine

The honour of your company is requested at lord beaucastle's fancy dress ball. Wonder at the puzzling disappearance of the Jewelled Moth! Marvel as our heroines, Sophie and Lil, don cunning disguises, mingle in high society and munch many cucumber sandwiches to solve this curious case! Applaud their bravery as they follow a trail of terrible secrets that leads straight to London's most dangerous criminal mastermind, and could put their own lives at risk...It will be the most thrilling event of the season! This is a fast-paced and compelling mystery adventure with gorgeous Edwardian period detail, this is Mr Selfridge meets Nancy Drew!

My thoughts
I really enjoyed this book. After loving the first one in the series I have been excitedly waiting for this to arrive and I am so pleased to say it was as good as, if not better than, the previous book.

I am a self declared history geek and the thing that really does it for me in this series is the history. I loved seeing Edwardian Britain during this time with all the detail that just adds to the story to make it feel real. I loved seeing the tradition and the huge divide between the haves and have nots.

I love the main characters. I love that they are strong female leads who hold their own against the boys in the story especially considering the time period it is set in. I've heard others compare it to Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series which I adore and I think that comparison is spot on.

Whether you are eight or eighty if you love mystery novels or historical novels you will adore this book.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth: Blog Tour: Etiquette for young ladies

Etiquette for young ladies

Calling cards – an important piece of Edwardian etiquette!

Mary smiled ironically. She quoted:
A young maidens appetite should be gracefully restrained at all times. There is no more unladylike quality in a debutante than that of intemperate gluttony.
‘How fearful!exclaimed Lil.
‘I take it you havent read Lady Diana DeVere, then?asked Mary with a quirk of her eyebrows. 
Lil decided there was no sense in pretending ‘Im afraid I havent, but she sounds perfectly dreadful.
    - The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth

Knowing the rules of etiquette was of paramount importance to anyone taking part in the London Season. Edwardian high society was governed by a strict code of conduct - and woe betide anyone, especially a debutante (a young lady embarking on their first Season in society), who put so much as a toe out of line.

Debutantes were at all times accompanied by a chaperone, who would watch them with an eagle eye to make sure they were behaving properly. They were expected to dress beautifully and appropriately, to display perfect manners, and to be able to dance - but not to do a great deal else!

Sometimes it would be a young ladys governess who would be responsible for instructing her so that she was ready to navigate the complex social rituals of the London Season - or perhaps she might be sent to a Finishing School to learn dancing, deportment and the proper way to behave. But etiquette guides were also popular, like Lady Gertrude Elizabeth Campbells Etiquette of Good Society, published in 1893, which contained chapters on ‘Letter-Writing, ‘Private Theatricalsand ‘Field Sportsamongst many others. Tips and advice on important matters including fashion, manners and what a girl should expect from her first Season were also published in magazines such as The Lady.

For The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, I had a lot of fun inventing my own etiquette guide inspired by some of these real-life writings. Snippets from my fictional Lady Diana DeVeres Etiquette for Debutantes: a Guide to the Manners, Mores and Morals of Good Society appear throughout the book- though Sophie and Lil don’t often follow them! 

Its debutante Veronica Whiteley and her friends who are the most affected by these constraining rules and restrictions - whilst lower down the social scale, Sophie and Lil are leading very different, much more independent lives, working to support themselves and roaming about London having adventures. But in The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, these two groups of girls come together, and soon discover that they have more in common than they might ever have expected. In the adventure that follows, Veronica and her friends discover that some rules are made to be broken - even if they are the strict principles of Edwardian etiquette!

Calling Cards Illustration © Júlia Sardà

Monday, 22 February 2016

Can't wait to read

Another month, another pile of books I cannot wait for. I mean that literally as I've managed to wipe my TBR pile out over half term.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

I love this series and I cannot wait to get my hands on this 

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

How could I not include this book this month? I cannot wait to get this especially as it is highly unlikely that I'll actually get to see the play

Chasing The Stars is a love story set in space, based on Shakespeare’s Othello. Malorie said: “I have wanted to write a story inspired by Othello for quite some time – it has always been one of my favourites of his plays, full of twists and turns – but, but of course, I wanted to do it my way. I’ve always been a huge fan of all types of science fiction and I loved the idea of Othello set in outer space, with Othello as a teenage girl.”

I'm so looking forward to a new Malorie Blackman.

Orphan Black meets Inception: Two formerly conjoined sisters are ensnared in a murderous plot involving psychoactive drugs, shared dreaming, organized crime, and a sinister cult.

Raised in the closed cult of Mana’s Hearth and denied access to modern technology, conjoined sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When the heart they share begins to fail, the twins escape to San Francisco, where they are surgically separated and given new artificial hearts. From then on they pursue lives beyond anything they could have previously imagined.

Ten years later, Tila returns one night to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder—the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Tila is suspected of involvement with the Ratel, a powerful crime syndicate that deals in the flow of Zeal, a drug that allows violent minds to enact their darkest desires in a terrifying dreamscape. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life. But during her investigation Taema discovers disturbing links between the twins’ past and their present. Once unable to keep anything from each other, the sisters now discover the true cost of secrets.

I've been looking forward to this series since it was first announced over a year ago. It sounds awesome. 

Battersea, 1961. London is just beginning to enter the swinging sixties. The world is changing - but not for sixteen-year-old Violet. She was born at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced Victory in Europe - an auspicious start, but now she's just stuck in her family's fish and chip shop dreaming of greatness. And it doesn't look like fame and fortune are going to come calling anytime soon. Then she meets Beau. Beau's a rocker - a motorcycle boy who arrives in an explosion of passion and rebellion. He blows up Violet's grey little life, and she can't believe her luck. But things don't go her way for long. Joseph, her long-lost brother, comes home. Then young girls start going missing, and turning up murdered. And then Violet's best friend disappears too. Suddenly life is horrifyingly much more interesting. Violet can't believe its coincidence that Joseph turns up just as girls start getting murdered. He's weird, and she feels sure he's hiding something. He's got a secret, and Violet's got a dreadful feeling it might be the worst kind of secret of all...

Another author whose books I adore. I cannot wait for this to be realised.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Not if I see you first by Eric Lindstorm

The Rules:

Don't deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

Don't help me unless I ask. Otherwise you're just getting in my way or bothering me.

Don't be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I'm just like you only smarter.

Parker Grant doesn't need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there's only one way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that's right, her eyes don't work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened--both with Scott, and her dad--the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

My thoughts
This book is very readable. I whizzed through it really quickly and found myself fascinated by the story of Parker and the world in which she lives. I really liked that she wasn't just a victim to her disability and just got on with life as normally as she could. That said I felt the ending came too quick and I wanted more to happen

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Mind your Head by Juno Dawson

We all have a mind, so we all need to take care of our mental health as much as we need to take care of our physical health. And the first step is being able to talk about our mental health. Juno Dawson leads the way with this frank, factual and funny book, with added information and support from clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt. Covering topics from anxiety and depression to addiction, self-harm and personality disorders, Juno and Olivia talk clearly and supportively about a range of issues facing young people's mental health - whether fleeting or long-term - and how to manage them, with real-life stories from young people around the world.

With witty illustrations from Gemma Correll.

My thoughts
I really thought this book was awesome. It is factual and funny and offers teens information and support about the variety of mental health issues they might deal with. These sort of books are so important to help make teens realise it is OK when things aren't going well for them.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

England, 1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

My thoughts
I did enjoy this book for a variety of reasons.

Firstly I loved the main characters Grace and Tilly. I loved seeing the world through their eyes and trying to get to the bottom of the problem they were trying to solve with them.

I loved the setting. As a glimpse into the not too distant past I loved seeing how the world has changed and the way in which people live pre social media and the internet.

The story itself is really interesting even though not a lot actually happens. It's one of those reads which merrily floats along as you just enjoy the ride along.

I also loved how the neighbour was portrayed. The neighbours all knowing each other and nosing in and out of each other's business and thinking they had it right when maybe they didn't. I thought that really rung true.

All in all a book I happily enjoyed.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

My thoughts

I have spent the last few months worried that I was going off reading. Everything I picked up wasn't keeping me interested at all and I thought maybe I have saturated myself. Then this beautiful little book came along.

Beautiful broken things is a perfect example of why I love UKYA so much. It has a brilliantly engaging story which I found myself unable to put down for very long because I was desperate to know more about what was going to happen. The main characters Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne drew you in from the first page. They are so real in the way they are portrayed and their story really resonated with my teenage self. All those confused feelings you have as a teenage about wanting to be accepted into a peer group and the awkwardness of trying to fit it were superbly put across. By half way through the book I just wanted to scoop up all the characters and tell them it'd all be OK.

A stunning debut which I will be raving about for a good long while to come and definitely an author to watch in the future.

Recommended if you liked
Undone by Cat Clake
Trouble by Non Pratt

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Wild Lily by KM Peyton

It's the 1920s - cars and aeroplanes are new. Lily Gabriel is 13 years old - she's scruffy and confident and takes no nonsense from anyone. Antony is 17 - he's rich, spoiled and arrogant and Lily is completely and utterly - no nonsense! - in love with him. So join Lily as she falls...Falls in love...Falls out of the sky...Falls through time...And effortlessly, inescapably, falls into her future. Life is never what you expect or what you predict. But if you're lucky, you hold onto exactly what you need - a young and wild heart.

My thoughts
I am shamefully late to the KM Peyton party but Wild Lily has left me with no doubt that she's an author I need to read more of.

I loved Wild Lily. I loved the history and found every part of the story fascinating in that regard as the story compares and contrasts the difference life experiences of Lily and Anthony the former leading a poor life of hard work and the latter a rich life of privilege. I adored Lily as a character and her story was really exciting. I loved seeing her wanting to be tough and as a result scaring the hell out of herself by doing a parachute jump to impress others.

All in all a book I thoroughly enjoyed and a perfect example of brilliant YA historical fiction.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen

Thirteen-year-old wrestling fanatic Henry used to have a normal life. Now, his therapist wants him to keep a journal so he can express his feelings about what happened.
Henry has moved with his dad to a new city, where nobody knows their name. He lives off a diet of pizza, whilst hiding from the comically overbearing neighbours and avoiding being an obvious target for bullies at his new school. But then he meets Farley and Alberta, social misfits who refuse to let him be alone. And bit by bit, the past begins to come out.
Heartbreaking, surprising and laugh-out-loud funny, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen is about the things that remain after your life has fallen to pieces.

My thoughts
I enjoyed The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen. Henry is suffering after the incident. I won't say too much for fear of spoiling it for others but it really shows the impact events have on the wider family group and how people deal with the fallout. It also has a lot to say about the impact of bullying again not just on the individual but also on the wider family. I really liked Henry and very much enjoyed his story.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

How hard can Love by by Holly Bourne

All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to California, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber's hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.

And then there's prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie's advice, there's no escaping the fact: love is hard.

My thoughts 
I did write an extensive review for this last week just after I'd finished it so I had the story in my head. The internet goblins have eaten that review and I've read ten more books since then so this rewrite is going to be shorter.

I loved the relationships between the characters and seeing the different ways in which they played out. I loved the main character completely because she was so relatable. I loved that there were positive girl friendships throughout. I loved the Harry Potter references. I loved that it really explored feminism and what that means to teenage girls now. I loved the setting. I loved the humour. I loved the boys.

In short I adored everything about this book and would recommend to anyone regardless of whether you had read the previous book in the series. I cannot wait for the next one.

Monday, 1 February 2016

British Books Challenge: Link your February review here

We are now onto month two of the British Books Challenge.

First up the winner of January's prize pack of a copy of The Icarus Show by Sally Christie was Bibliobeth for her review of Urban Legends by Helen Grant.

This month up for grabs is a copy of How not to disappear by Clare Furniss kindly donated by Simon and Schuster

please link reviews for your February British Books Challenge reads below. Happy reading