Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Mystery of the Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine

A fast-paced historical mystery adventure for readers aged 9+, with gorgeous Edwardian period detail. Perfect for fans of Chris Riddell's Goth Girl series, Enid Blyton and Robin Stevens's Murder Most Unladylike series.

When a priceless painting is stolen, our dauntless heroines Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, trickery and deceit on all sides!

Be amazed as the brave duo pit their wits against this perilous puzzle! Marvel at their cunning plan to unmask the villain and prove themselves detectives to be reckoned with – no matter what dangers lie ahead . . .

It’s their most perilous adventure yet!

I love this series. Much like it's predcessors this book is a brilliant mystery novel for middle grade readers or those of us who are indulging our inner middle grade reader ... personally my inner Enid Blyton child fangirl. I love the historical elements to this series particularly in this case the references to the suffragette movement who were active at this time. I enjoyed following the story and trying to second guess what was happening and working out the mystery along with the characters. I can't wait foe the next book in the series.

Monday, 20 February 2017

This is how it always is by Laurie Frankel

Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time - and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl.

As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?

Warm, touching and bittersweet, THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS is a novel about families, love and how we choose to define ourselves. It will make you laugh and cry - and see the world differently.

I really enjoyed this book. The story revolves around a family whose youngest child is struggling with their gender identity. It was thoughtful and insightful seeing how it impacts the whole family and their world. It was particularly interesting seeing how everyone else around the family treats Claude once he starts to become Poppy from complete acceptance to cruel and unkind treatment. It made me really think about how some people don't have an issue treating other appallingly just because of a difference. At the end of the day the world is full of people and no one can ever understand why someone thinks and feel the way that they do and actually they don't really need to as long as they can accept that difference and treat that person with kindness and tolerance.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Bookcase Showcase: Author Lisa Williamson

In the fantasy version of my life, I have a vast and beautiful library filled with floor to ceiling bookshelves. In real life, space is at a premium and when I moved house last year I had to get rid of A LOT of books. My criteria for holding onto a book is if I answer ‘yes’ to either of the following questions:

  1. Do I like it enough to want to read it again at some point?
  2. Do I like it enough to lend it to a friend?

It it’s a no, then off to the charity shop it has to go. 

Although I adore reading I don’t tend to form emotional attachments to physical books. I don’t own physical copies of three of my favourite books of all time: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (borrowed from the library), The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (read on kindle) and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (lent out and never returned).  I’m also quite impatient and enjoy the immediacy of purchasing an ebook and being able to dive in straightaway. I think this lack of sentimentality comes across in my bookshelves. They’re quite functional with no particular order or theme; I just aim to keep them vaguely neat and try to remember to dust them every so often.

In my new place, most of my adult books are kept on a bookshelf in the living room. Favourites titles include The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, One Day by David Nicholls and anything by Kate Atkinson. Here you’ll also find a few classics, a variety of travel books and the odd bit of non-fiction, plus a selection of DVDs. 

My YA collection can be found in my bedroom. You can’t see everything I’ve got because I’m a double stacker.

As you’ll probably notice my shelves are dominated by contemporary YA reads. This is what I write and also what I tend to enjoy reading the most. I try to keep my TBR pile separate but inevitably everything gets a bit mixed up. 

This shelf features a mix of old favourites, more recent stuff I’ve read and loved, and titles I haven’t quite got round to yet. On the far right is Starring Sally J Freedman As Herself – my all-time favourite Judy Blume book. I was giddy with excitement to get this copy signed by Judy when she in London in 2015. Next to it is a bumper edition of the first three books in the prolific Sweet Valley High series. As a teenager, I devoured the adventures of beautiful Californian twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. They’ve dated pretty badly but I still can’t shift my affection for them. The majority of my collection is at my parent’s house in Nottingham but I couldn’t resist sneaking at least one of them onto my shelf. These childhood favourites mingle with Holly Bourne’s brilliant Spinster Club series, Jandy Nelson’s equally stunning titles The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You The Sun, and the beyond charming Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss. In the TBR pile are Fallen Children by David Owen, Wed Rabbit by Lissa Evans and Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt.

At my old house, I had all the foreign editions of The Art of Being Normal mounted in display cases on the wall. Here, they’re all jammed in, along with copies of All About Mia and I’ll Be Home for Christmas (a short story anthology I contributed to in 2016). When I get the time, I’m going to find a nicer way to display them. They’re currently being watched over my Scrufters the dog. I found Scrufters stuck to the ice on a petrol station forecourt in Norway and he’s guarded over my bookshelves ever since.

I love how colourful my shelves are, not only the books but the shelves themselves (discovered in the kids section at Ikea!). Again, this shelf represents a bit of a mix, from absolute favourites (Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, Everyday by David Levithan and Natasha Farrant’s Bluebell Gadsby series), to stuff I’m longing to get round to reading like If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and Monsters by Emerald Fennell. So many books, so little time… 


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

Lexi Angelo is a Convention Kid - she's got a clipboard and a walkie talkie to prove it. Aidan Green is a messy-haired, annoyingly arrogant author and he's disrupting her perfect planning. In a flurry of awkward encounters, lost schedules and late-night conversations, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned... Things like falling in love.

This book is super cute. I enjoyed it completely and my inner teen is completely in love with Aidan.
Unconventional appeals to that geeky side of me. I've never been to a convention but I very much appreciate fandom and those people who would willing spend a huge amount of time and huge going to such events to sit around and geek out together over their favourite shows and actors because I've done it far too many times at book events over authors with my blogger friends .... I am the girl who semi stalked Cassie Clare around Waterstones Piccadilly and managed to get her huge pile of books signed in an almost private event (thanks Nicole for the heads up and Sarah for coming with me)

The story follows Lexi, a convention kid. She's 17 and helps her dad run conventions. I loved that whilst she loved what she did she was really confused about her longer term life plans and felt that pressure to move onto university despite now really feeling like it was for her because it is the done thing when actually for many people is probably isn't actually the right move for them. It made her feel real.

For me the book was really about the relationship between Lexi and Aidan a young author she meets at a convention. I loved seeing their relationship develop and also seeing the role social media had on putting doubt into Lexi's mind when she was away from Aidan.

As a little side note I loved the cameos some of my favouite UKYA authors had in this book. I was far too excited about this but as I've mentioned before authors are my film stars.

Such a cute read and characters I don't ever want to let go of.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

All about Mia by Lisa Williamson

From no. 1 Bestselling YA author Lisa Williamson, comes another insightful and unputdownable teen drama - All About Mia. A brilliant look into the mind of a teenager stuck in the middle.

My thoughts

I was so excited to get this book through the door last month. I finished it in one greedy glup and adored it completely. This book is fab because of Mia. Mia is so real as a character. She's full of heart but also crazy infuriating with the decisions she makes. She's that girl we all know from school. She's loud and brash and seems touchable doing what she wants, when she wants without a care in the world. From the minute you meet her you see her live up to this stereotype perfectly making those around her want to pull their hair out as they try to work out how to deal with her. However as the story progresses you start to see that underneath the surface Mia isn't at all the person she plays up to being and all her acting out is a sign of her hurting and trying to get attention because she feels lost and left out. The story itself is highly entertaining because when Mia acts out she really acts out. She really embraces the teenage rebel and takes it to the next level. I loved following the story and getting to know the Mia under the surface and seeing how she grows over the course of the book.

Monday, 13 February 2017

This & That

I received a very exciting package late last month filled with notecards, notebooks and journals. Like any self respecting blogger I love stationary and these were a little bit special.

Some of the ones in the package were Kate Schelter's This & That's series.

This & That Journal

Filled with Kate Schelter’s paintings of evocatively paired objects, this journal captures the spirit of a spontaneous trip to the beach, a breezy day on your bike and a sunny stroll in your favourite shoes and shades. The deluxe hardcover journal - featuring a cloth cover, ribbon marker and crisply lined pages - is perfect for carrying here and there, and jotting down your thoughts on this and that.

This & That Notebooks

Featuring Kate Schelter’s loose watercolours of everyday objects, these notebooks capture the sense of an effortlessly chic summer day. The set of three paperback notebooks - which includes two larger notebooks, one lined and the other blank, and a smaller notebook with a graph paper interior - is a perfect piece to toss in your tote for jotting down your thoughts on this and that.

This & That notecards

A glass of lemonade after a game of tennis. A bike ride on a picturesque afternoon. A casual gathering around the BBQ. With just two perfectly paired objects, Kate Schelter takes you there. Her loose watercolours evoke an effortless sense of style and capture the everyday chic of the ordinary objects around us. Inside the keepsake box you’ll find 10 notecards (two each of five designs) featuring Kate’s watercolour art printed on heavy cardstock with stained edges, along with 10 matching envelopes.

I cannot wait to start using all of these. The journal is really high quality and special whereas the notebooks are going to be perfect for my handbag and day to day use. The notecard are going to be fab for notes in parcel and thank you notes.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Waiting for Callback Take Two by Perdita and Honor Cargill

Elektra has finally landed a part in a film. It's the dream. Well ...until she works out that Straker is a movie so dystopian that within weeks most of the cast and all of the crew wish that the world had actually ended (preferably in scene one). And while it's obviously great news that she's moved from the friend-zone with Archie to become his almost-girlfriend, it would be better if he hadn't immediately relocated to Transylvania to play a vampire hunter surrounded by 'maidens of peerless beauty'.

Full of humour and warmth, this new series is perfect for fans of Geek Girl and The It Girl.

My thoughts
I really enjoyed Waiting for Callback when I reviewed it last year. Take Two is a lovely sequel to book one and I really enjoyed catching up with Elektra again. I love how real Elektra is as a character and how this doesn't change as she gets her big break as a main lead in a film. It's really sweet and funny throughout. I really enjoyed it. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Bookcase Showcase: Author of Ink Alice Broadway

I need to confess.
I am ruthless about getting rid of books.

It’s become a problem. I used to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill book hoarder but then I started losing my children among piles of books and realizing I might not need the book called ‘noisy neighbours and you’ from 1999. And so I started getting rid of books that I didn’t like, wouldn’t re-read or had never read in the first place.

Now I have these weirdly empty shelves. But the things on them are treasures.

Above this shelf I have Harry Potters, Narnias and Jane Austens: these books will never leave. They are like magic spell books and if I didn’t have them I think my powers would cease.

I don’t have a system. Sorry if that makes you twitchy.
This is my shelf of books I’ve read, loved and can’t ever say goodbye to or that I want to read. It’s missing a few beauties that I’ve lent to friends. There are shelves of books below this one, but they were too messy to photograph!

The main themes are:
Classic YA: Phillip Pullman (god of stories), Patrick Ness, Louis Sachar and Suzanne Collins.
New YA: Lisa Thompson, Melinda Salisbury, Eve Ainsworth (there are loads missing here!)
Books that are in my heart forever: I Capture the Castle, The Night Circus, 64 Charing Cross Road, Myths & Legends.

Plus, I have snuck the copies I have of my debut YA novel, Ink onto the shelf. They are extremely special to me and I still can’t quite believe they exist.

I may seem like a bit of a bookcase minimalist, but the truth is, I am an ebook girl. I can’t resist the lure of having a book in my library immediately and I love the way I can have hundreds of books without everyone knowing the extent of my hoarding.

In Ink, people have shelves full of a different kind of book: a book made of the skin of loved ones who have died. You can read their lives from the tattoos they had on their skin and it is a way of keeping their memory alive forever. For me, books tell the story of my life as a reader and there are many that I hope remain part of me forever.

Alice Broadway drinks more tea than is really necessary loves writing in her yellow camper van. She hates being too cold or too hot, and really likes wearing lipstick and watching terrible Christmas movies.
@alicecrumbs |

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton

Amelie Ayres has impeccable taste in music. Bowie. Bush. Bob. So when she finds herself backstage at The Keep’s only UK gig she expects to hate it; after all they are world’s most tragic band. In fact she feels a grudging respect – not (obviously) for their music, but for the work that goes in to making them megastars. And when lead singer, ‘Maxx’, is not dressed up as a cross between Elvis and a My Little Pony, he is actually rather normal, talented and has creative struggles not too dissimilar to her own. But the next morning she wakes up rolls over and discovers a million new @’s on social media. Overnight a photo of her backstage has made her a subject of global speculation. Suddenly the world needs to know #Who’sThatGirl? – but for all the wrong reasons. All Amelie wants is to play her music. She’s got the guitar, the songs, the soul and, in the safety of her bedroom, she’s got the voice. But when it comes to getting up on stage, she struggles with self-doubt. Immaculate’s a concept. Flawless is fake. But just sometimes music – and hearts – can rock a perfect beat.

This book is so good. Stay up reading past your bedtime good. I love a YA novel based around music and boybands and this had me hooked from the first page. I adored the main character Amelie and loved that this book was more focused on her and her musical ambitions rather than the boyband as such.  I loved Amelie's best friend Maisie. There's not enough good girl friendships in YA and this did that aspect wonderfully.  I want a sequel. I want a whole series of sequels.

You'll love this if you enjoyed
Love Song by Sophia Bennett
Songs about a girl by Chris Russell

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Bookcase Showcase: Author of This Beats Perfect Rebecca Denton

I once worked out I’d lived in as many houses and I had years on earth – maybe it doesn’t quite match up today, but it must very close. When you move around as much as I do, you’ll know the cost of shipping crates of books is extortionate, so over the years I’ve had to trim down and streamline as much as possible.

That said, I love my coffee table books – especially if they’re about film, music, architecture and art.  Part of my dream is to write a horror film, so I’ve collected a good few shooting scripts (see: The Shawshank Redemption) as it’s the best way to get a feel for what is a completely different craft. 

The great thing about being an Author is the free BOOKS. So many books. Here I have Stephanie Garber’s debut Caraval, my cousin Rachael John’s Aussie romance Outback Blaze, stable mate Alex Wheatle’s Crongton Knights – oh, and that looks like my very own Arc! Doesn’t it fit in so well? 

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I have an old, rundown writing cabin in Austria. Its sometimes -17 degrees and so we installed a wood burner there. But still, the couch nearly freezes over.  And the floor. Dear, god. It gets cold. Anyway, as it sometimes doubles as a guest room in summer we have a book shelf of mixed reads. 

Lauren Bacall’s By Myself is such a great read if you love an old school Hollywood biography.  With Bold Knife and Fork is the BEST EVER cookbook, and an amazing trip back in time to when eating in provincial France was still completely exotic and there wasn’t a CafĂ© Rouge on every London street corner.  Also, Bonfire of the Vanities, which was given to me by an ex-boyfriend and so out in the cold shed it stays.