Thursday, 31 March 2016

March review

This month has been insane for reading. I've been poorly with a cold and then the dreaded flu bug and had a week of Easter holiday so I've had a lot of reading time.

Read in March
Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley (4 stars)
Carry on by Rainbow Rowell (3 stars)
Out of sight, Out of time by Ally Carter (3 stars)
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (3 stars)
Head over Heels by Holly Smale (4 stars)
More of Me by Kathryn Evans (4 stars)
Superhero Street by Phil Earle (5 stars)
Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan (3 stars)
The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham (4 stars)
Chasing Charlie by Linda McLaughlin (4 stars)
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (5 stars)
Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens (4 stars)
The Leaving by Tara Altebrando (3 stars)
This Song is (Not) for you by Laura Nowlin (4 stars)
Dumplin by Julie Murphy (4 stars)
Royal Scandal by Meg Cabot (3 stars)
Bad Heir Day by Meg Cabot (4 stars)
Crowning Glory by Meg Cabot (4 stars)
Consumed by Abbie Rushton (4 stars)
White Lies, Black Dare by Joanna Nadin (3 stars)
One Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt (2 stars)

Book of the Month

It has to be The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson. I was looking forward to its arrival and was so excited to get an early copy. I adored it completely

Events Attended
None. I meant to and booked a train ticket but I got the flu and it was not good and I couldn't travel. That week was really not good.

April's TBR pile
So I've cleared by TBR pile. I'm at the point where I am literally sat waiting for review books to arrive (or for titles to be published so I can buy them).

Monday, 28 March 2016

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

I adore this book.

I loved Emery's previous novels and have been dying to get my hands on this. I am so glad I did.

Firstly I adore Jonah. Jonah is the perfect teenage boy. He's hot, he's caring, he cooks. Had 16 year old me met him in real life there is no way she would have been able to keep it cool around it. I loved every scene it was in and could have happily read just more and more about him.

Viv is an interesting character. To start with I was torn about whether I loved or hated her. She appears to be confident and a girl who knows exactly what she wants but there were things about her and they way she did things that definitely wasn't cool like acting jealous over Jonah talking to a female family friend. That said once I realised the reason why she was doing those things it actually made everything click into place and made me bow down to the brilliance that is Emery's writing of this character. I won't go into the whys as it'll spoil the book but once you get to it you'll know.

In short I loved it. Jonah is mine. You can't share.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Twenty Questions for Gloria by Martyn Bedford

Gloria is tired of her ordinary life. She barely recognizes the free-spirited girl she used to be in the unadventurous teenager she has become. So when a mysterious boy bent on breaking the rules strolls into her classroom, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell. Uman is funny, confident and smart. He does whatever he likes and doesn't care what anyone thinks of him. The only people for him are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn. He is everything Gloria wishes to be. He can whisk her away from the life she loathes and show her a more daring, more exciting one, in which the only limits are the boundaries of her own boldness. But Uman in not all he seems and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home and everyone wants to know, Where's Gloria?

I really enjoyed this book. It is told over the course of a series of interviews given by Gloria after a series of events. You know something had gone wrong but you're not quite sure what especially as Gloria strikes as a fairly unreliable narrator.

I was hooked from the get go wanting to know more. Parts of it reminded me of that tv show which was on recently called hunted where ordinary people when on the run with the goal of staying off the grid for as long as possible whilst a team of experts tried to find them.

A really gripping story that I was reluctant to put down as I needed to know what happened next. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Needlwork by Deirdre Sullivan

‘I would like to make things beautiful, but a tawdry and repulsive kind of beauty. A braver sort than people have from birth. Sexy zombies on a bicep. That sort of thing.’

Ces longs to be a tattoo artist and embroider skin with beautiful images. But for now she’s just trying to reach adulthood without falling apart.

Powerful, poetic and disturbing, Needlework is a girl’s meditation on her efforts to maintain her bodily and spiritual integrity in the face of abuse, violation and neglect.

 Needlework was a book I knew nothing about when it arrived through my letterbox. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I picked it up but I'm not quite sure I was ready for what I was about to go through.

This book is so very sad. Ces is such a lonely neglected character. It takes her a while for her to open up and tell her story and it comes in snippets but as you start to piece together both what she has gone through but also the state in which she currently lives it is hard not to feel for her. It made me angry at her both her parents so much as the story went on and also for all those other people around her that should have been paying attention to this girl who they didn't notice was hurting as badly as she was.

Don't get me wrong this book isn't perfect. The really long chapters bothered me more than they should and the writing style which flipped narratives sometimes from sentence to sentence didn't necessarily work for me and it took me a long time to get into this book.

All in all a very sad little book which you'll enjoy if you like Louise O'Neill's books.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Can't wait to read

So I've managed to clear my TBR pile. I'm not quite sure how it has happened but it has and I'm in that werid position I find myself in a lot as a blogger who reads a lot of books prior to publication in that everything they'll have in the shops currently will be things I've already read. Therefore I am desperately going to be wishing my life away waiting for for new stuff to be published. These are the ones that have caught my eye of late whilst browsing goodreads.

Cuckoo by Keren David

Jake is an actor - a teenager who had a regular role in one of the UK's best-loved soaps until his character, Little Riley, went upstairs to his bedroom and never came down again. . .

Jake clings to the hope that the writers will bring his character back (they didn't kill him off after all); but as time passes, and finances dwindle, reality starts to dawn. His family situation is hard. His dad has anger issues that have led to his recent redundancy, his mum cares full-time for his severely autistic older brother, and now they're struggling to pay the rent. Suddenly, Jake feels his acting career is crucial for their financial security and well-being. The pressure mounts for him to succeed - and home doesn't feel like home any more: it feels like a powder-keg waiting to explode.

When things reach breaking point, he asks his friend if he can stay with him for a while. It starts innocently enough, but soon Jake finds he's moving from couch to couch, burning through friends and acquaintances, until there's nowhere left to go but onto the streets ...It feels like everything's falling apart. And that's when he meets an old woman with Alzheimer's. She hasn't spoken in years, but when Jake starts reading Shakespeare to her she suddenly comes alive, full of memories and a powerful sense of hope.

Cuckoo is a novel about the roles we play when we don't fit in anywhere, and finding unlikely solace when home is the least welcoming place of all

I love Keren's books and cannot wait to get my hands on this.

The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance

 I know nothing about this book except it is by Jess Vallance. I loved Birdy and therefore am very excited about this already.

If I was your girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school.

Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she's falling in love with.

Amanda has a secret.

At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out.

A book about loving yourself and being loved for who you really are.

I've heard so many good things about this already. I am really intrigued to read it. 

Unboxed by Non Pratt

Unboxed is about four teenagers who come together after several months apart. In previous years, they had put together a time capsule about their best summer with a friend who was dying. Now that their friend has passed, they reunite to open the box

I love Non. I love Non's stories so I had to instantly add this to my wishlist as soon as I heard about it.

Super Awkward by Beth Garrod


Fifteen year old Bella Fisher is an absolute failing at life. She's the owner of a mouth that won't listen to her brain, the most groin-sniffing-y dog ever created, and the ability to majorly embarrass herself in front of every single specimen of boy-dom. So imagine her surprise when she's abandoned in a caravan park, dressed as a giant cereal box and somehow manages to pull off the most alarmingly un-Bella thing imaginable - having an actual tongue snog with Zac. The world's fittest boy. When Bella is ripped away from Zac, she logs onto his favourite secret-sharing app to find him. Soon she's spilling her friends' most embarrassing secrets on the web...and not as anonymously as she thinks. While juggling her growing list of crushes, an evil ex-boyfriend, a chronically annoying uber-sis, and the leaking of her BFFs' most cringeworthy moments, Bella finds her life spinning into catastrophe. Will she be able to piece it back together? And more importantly, do it while sorting out the ultimate prom problem? (Promlem)

This sounds really really funny. I should have been at the scholastic blogger event on Saturday but was too ill to attend but just from the reaction of those there about this book I can tell I need this it

Kook by Chris Vick.

A heart-pounding love story that grips like a riptide, and doesn’t let go…

Fifteen-year old Sam has moved from the big city to the coast – stuck there with his mum and sister on the edge of nowhere.

Then he meets beautiful but damaged surfer-girl Jade. Soon he’s in love with her, and with surfing itself. But Jade is driven by an obsession: finding and riding a legendary huge wave no one has ever ridden.

As the weeks wear on, their relationship barrels forward with the force of a deep-water wave – into a storm, to danger … and to heartbreak.

I love a surfing book and this sounds fab. I need it.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

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 really did enjoy Eve's previous book and was very much looking forward to seeing what she did next. I think this latest title is stronger and made me even more excited for what she writes next.

For me the thing I like about Eve's books is that they are so authentic. The characters feel real and their experiences feel genuine. It did mean that in this case I read much of this book feeling so much of the main character as the intensity of a first lovely came across. Anna is the girl at school we all knew. The girl who fell for a boy and was just completely wrapped up in it that it didn't matter that it made her lose track of her friends and family. The girl who kept being smitten even though things weren't quite right and just found excuses for the things that weren't right even though they really should have just got out.

This book is intense and raw perfectly capturing that all consuming feeling of a first love. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Lady Midnight

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Umm Lady Midnight ... Like most Cassie Clare fans I've been eagerly awaiting this book for a long while. It turned up and I did my mini dance of joy. I pounced on it like a reader possessed but by the end I can't say I was wowed.

Don't get me wrong. I did enjoy the book. I enjoyed being back in the world of the shadowhunters. I really enjoyed meeting the new characters and I loved hearing from the old ones. I really like Emma as a character and the way in which she goes about being a shadowhunter. I really enjoyed meeting the entire Blackthorn family. I liked how the characters are quite diverse.

However there was something about this book that didn't just sit right with me. It could have been the length. This book is huge and it felt like sometimes the pace suffered for it as it got bogged down in detail. Equally the main story plot felt a bit like a City of Bones retelling to a certain extent and just didn't feel original enough. Also, dare I say it, it felt like for most of the book we were just waiting for the characters from the first series to rock up before anything actually got sorted.

I am very interested to see where the rest of the series is going but I'm probably going to not get myself so excited before the release of the next one as I'm sure pr publication hype and excitement actually leaves me disappointed by the time I actually read the book.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Star Struck by Jenny McLachlan

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

In a huge fantastic final hurrah to our lovable heroines - Bea, Betty, Kat and Pearl - Jenny McLachlan's latest book tells Pearl's story. Pearl is the 'bad girl' of the group - she drinks, she smokes, she swears - and she's mean to Bea and Betty. But she did fly halfway round the world to rescue Kat in Sunkissed. If there's one thing Pearl knows deep down, it is how to be a friend. And now, more than ever, she could really use a friend

There will be laughter, there will be tears and there will definitely be kissing. Most importantly, Pearl will be keeping it fierce

Oh this book. I can't say I was all that fussed initially when I found out about it. I've never been a Pearl fan and now I've finished it I can honestly say it was my favourite book of the series so far.

Pearl is one of those girls we all know, I'm pretty certain I went to school with a couple and I can definitely think of a couple I've taught over the years. Pearl is the bad girl. She's tough because she has to be and it means she's really misunderstood. The more I learned about Pearl over thee course of the book the more I wanted to go into her life and take her away from all the rubbish she was dealing with and look after her. I think the thing this book did for me, more than anything else, is help me to understand Pearl and why she was the way she was and I'm so glad I had the chance to see that for myself.

The story over the course of the book is really interesting. In addition to seeing our favourite ladybirds again and getting more about Pearl and her background I really enjoyed how it focusing on the developing relationship between Pearl and the new girl Hoshi. I won't say too much but Hoshi's story is a really interesting one and I learning more about her fascinated me.

All in all my favourite book of the series and definitely worth a read.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Bookcase Showcase: Illustrator Becka Moor

I have a couple of bookcases, one in my office which contains some of the books I’ve worked on, mixed with some of my all-time favourite children’s books (including some very tatty ones that I recently rescued from my parents’ attic as you see here!)

I have another bookcase in my living room where I keep my favourite novels and guilty pleasures.

As a child of the 90’s, I of course own the full set of Harry Potter books, and I still listen to the audiobooks now. The hardbacks hold so many memories of hours spent curled up on the sofa, or waiting eagerly at the front door for my mum to get back from shopping with the next instalment from WHSmiths, and trying to read it faster than my sister so I could find out what happened first.

I also have the full set of The Lord of the Rings as well as The Hobbit which were gifted to me by a family friend before he passed away, so they’re very special to me – and as you can see, a bit knackered! 

There’s a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird with notes scribbled in the margins from when I did my GCSEs, and a second hand copy of Memoirs of a Geisha which is another solid favourite.
 George’s Marvellous Medicine is (in my opinion!) the BEST Roald Dahl book EVER so he definitely deserves a spot on the shelf. There’s also a copy of Waiting for Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill which is HILARIOUS. If you haven’t read it, you really should! There are some more books dotted around the house including lots of picture books, and books I haven’t read yet but keep meaning to… If you know me, you know I could harp on about books all day, so best we stop there, eh!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Last minute Mother's day gift ideas

Is it me or is Mother's day really early this year? It is has come along out of nowhere and taken you by surprise this year like it has me I have some ideas of some really lovely books that might make nice gifts for your mum.

To be fair my mum is easy to buy for. If I get her a bunch of flowers she is very happy. My Mother in Law however often proves a bit tricky. She's not a drinker, she's not a huge chocolate fan and she reacts to flowers much like Phoebe in Friends where she just gets upset when they've died. She's quite glam but also no fuss and her taste in trinkets for the home or accessories is wildly unpredictable. As a result it's always a challenge each year to think of something for her but this year I think I've cracked it. Luckily a couple of days ago I was sent by Octopus Publishing their Mother's gift featuring a huge range of beautiful non fiction books. I love a non fiction book (and don't spend enough time talking about them on here really) and always think they are lovely gifts and as I was flicking through no end of titles popped up which I knew my Mother in Law would love.

So here are the three books I think would make perfect gifts for your mum.

Vogue Colouring Book

This, the first colouring book from British VOGUE, has been created by award-winning writer, fashion editor, curator and Royal College of Art Professor, Iain R Webb. Celebrating the centenary of British VOGUE, these hand-drawn artworks are inspired by iconic images from the magazine in the 1950s - an era of hats and matching gloves, haughty elegance and hourglass silhouettes. The book features a glamorous dream wardrobe of luxurious ballgowns and soigne cocktail dresses, smart suits and dramatic accessories by key designers including Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Chanel. The accompanying captions offer fashion and style tips (often highly amusing in hindsight) and are taken from the original pages of British VOGUE. The c90 artworks can be coloured in in the spirit of the original images that inspired them or embellished with whatever colours and patterns take the reader's fancy. The colouring book is the perfect present for all those who love vintage fashion.

As discussed my Mother in Law is quite glam. She loves her fashion magazines and has hundreds of back issues of Vogue dating back from when she was young. I'd never know where to start when it comes to getting her an issue that she didn't already have but as colouring books are now "in vogue" this seems like a perfect gift idea along with some nice colouring pencils.

Sixties House: Interiors, design and style from the 1960s

From Pop art to Op art, plastic furniture to bubble-gum paint colours, the Sixties saw a new wave of interior design that was closely linked to popular culture and fashion, becoming increasingly youth-oriented and playful to appeal to the new generation of baby-boomers. In Sixties House, mid-century modern enthusiast Catriona Gray has drawn on the magazine's peerless archive, curating the best illustrations and photographs to show how the use of color, pattern, homewares and furniture evolved through the decade. The homes of key tastemakers are featured including Bridget Riley, Mary Quant, David Mlinaric, Barbara Hulanicki of Biba and David Bailey.

My Mother in Law loves anything to do with the Sixties having been a teenager for most of them. She also loves house design as her house is always beautifully presented with a real vintage twist to much of her furnishing. I think she'll love flicking through this book.

The Knitter's Handbook

Whether you are new to knitting and want to learn the basics or an experienced knitter who wants to try complex patterns, The Knitter's Handbook will guide you through more than 90 stitches and techniques. Featuring a comprehensive guide to yarns and patterns, clear and easy-to-follow instructions and 250 step-by-step illustrations, this practical book will help you master the techniques in no time.

My Mother in Law is not a little old Nanny that knits. She's only just discovered it and want to knit really cool designs and styles but she's at the stage of needing to learn the basics. I've knit for the best part of a decade and have been looking out for a book for her which will teach her the basics without being dull or over complicated because she doesn't have access to the internet to learn via youtube. I think this book does it whilst still having things that I could learn from. It's also a really handy size which means it'll fit into a knitting bad really easily.

Thank you to Octopus Publishing for provide review copies of the books mentioned above

Thursday, 3 March 2016

After the Last Dance by Sarra Manning

Two women. Two love affairs. One unforgettable story.

Kings Cross station, 1943. Rose arrives in London hoping to swap the drudgery of wartime for romance, glamour and jiving with GIs at Rainbow Corner, the famous dance hall in Piccadilly Circus. As the bombs fall, Rose loses her heart to a pilot but will lose so much more before the war has done its worst.

Las Vegas, present day. A beautiful woman in a wedding dress walks into a seedy bar and asks the first man she sees to marry her. When Leo slips the ring onto Jane's finger, he has no idea that his new wife will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

So when Jane meets Rose, now a formidable older lady, there's no love lost between them. But with time running out, can Rose and Jane come together to make peace with the tragic secrets that have always haunted their lives?

After the Last Dance is an extraordinary story of two women, separated by time but connected by fate, that will make you believe in the redemptive power of unexpected love.

My thoughts 
I am a Sarra Manning fan girl. I was first introduced to her via Just 17 and have since read and enjoyed everything she has written. I heard this book was in the works and was very very excited. Sarra Manning and Historical Fiction set in World War Two seemed like a dream combo for me.

I loved this book and it was as perfect as I hoped. The story is split between two narratives split between modern day and the 1940s which crossover as the story progresses. I love that sort of book at the best of times so it was a good start.

The modern day story feels like classic Sarra Manning. The story starts with a bang and hooked me from the start as I needed to know where the characters were going to end up. As their story progressed you started to get under the skin of the characters and find out more about why they were the way they were and at the core of it the story was full of heart. Exactly what I expected from an author whose work I adore.

The story set in World War Two is perfect. The history is well researched meaning the story feels real and grounded in the period in which it is set. I really loved the story of Rainbow Corner and finding out more about an aspect of the history of World War Two that I knew nothing about. As you read it you get a real sense of the period, the excitement of living for the now in a time when you don't know if you or your friends will see the end of the week through. I could have read about Rose's War for hundreds more pages.

All in all a book I can't wait to recommend to others. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

British Books Challenge: Link your March reviews here

Onto March already! Welcome to month three of the British Books Challenge. I'm 22 books into my challenge for the year and hoping to get to at least 100 by the end of the Challenge. How far are you all through your challenge?

First up the winner of February's prize pack of a copy of How to disappear was Chrissi from Chrissi Reads for her review of Juno Dawson's mind your head

This month up for grabs is a copy of waiting for callback as I have a spare proof and loved it so much that I need it to go to someone else rather just being added to my pile of "books I have two of"