Currently Reading

Currently reading: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Map of Bones cover reveal!

You may remember last year, a lot of excitement in the blogosphere about a book called The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig. Set in a world where everyone is born as a twin, one child an Alpha, strong, smart, powerful. The other, an Omega, weak, deformed, unwanted. Well, on 7th April, the second book in the trilogy, The Map of Bones, is being published. It's one of my most anticipated titles of the year, and now it gives me great pleasure to be a part of the big unveiling of the cover! So, without further ado...




"The Omega resistance has been brutally attacked, its members dead or in hiding. The Alpha Council’s plan for permanently containing the Omegas has begun. But all is not entirely lost: the Council’s seer, The Confessor, is dead, killed by her twin’s sacrifice. Cass is left haunted by visions of the past, while her brother Zach’s cruelty and obsession pushes her to the edge, and threatens to destroy everything she hopes for. As the country moves closer to all-out civil war, Cass will learn that to change the future she will need to uncover the past. But nothing can prepare her for what she discovers: a deeply buried secret that raises the stakes higher than ever before."
Look at it! LOOK AT IT! What a beauty. It matches so well with the first one and just looks so stunning. I cannot wait to read it! Thanks to Felicity at Harper for asking me to be a part of the cover reveal! 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Hiatus

Hi guys. I just wanted to make a quick post to confirm something I've been saying on my twitter the last few days. If you follow me on twitter, you'll probably know that my beautiful, funny, caring, cuddly mum passed away on Monday, and as a result my world has been rocked, so I really don't feel like doing anything at the moment and am struggling just a tad. I just wanted to say that I know I made some resolutions for 2016 blogging wise, but at the moment everything has gone out the window because this is so much more important. 

I'm not entirely sure when I'll be back up and running so to speak, at the moment I've not even so much as looked at a book or felt any kind of desire to do so. I know I'll get there but this is all going to take a little bit of time really. I will be back, I just don't know when. There is so much going on at the moment, and so many things we need to do for my mum before e have to say goodbye to her for the final time. It really was unexpected so as you can imagine it has hit us twice as hard.

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has messaged me with some amazing words and support. I really do appreciate it. I know I don't know any of you personally so to speak but being part of this amazing community does feel like one big family.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Great A Series of Unfortunate Events re-read

I have been a fan of Lemony Snicket for as long as I can remember. As a kid I was enchanted by the miserable, never-ending woeful life of the Baudelaire orphans as documented in the dark and often comical A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Fast forward to 2015 when it was announced that Netflix was about to start pre-production on an adaptation of the books, transforming it into a new series. Anyone that has Netflix knows that they make some amazing tv shows. Orange is the New Black is a firm favourite. Sense8 tantalised people early last year and the political warfare of House of Cards has left me breathless on more than one occasion as Frank Underwood claws his way to the oval office. So imagine how bloody excited I was when this announcement was made. Answer... very bloody excited. For real!

So I have decided to re-read all 13 books in preparation for the new series. It's supposedly due to debut later this year. I've already started as a matter of fact, and have polished off the first two books. The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room. I have not yet decided if I am going to give them full reviews. Or if I'll just update the page I've set up in the sidebar (link here also, for those who just want to click rather than go searching...) with my brief thoughts about the series as I go through the books. Either way I am excited to re-read them and see how they fare ten years on from my original reading as a fourteen year old.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner [Review]

Written by: Jeff Zentner.
Published by: Anderson Press.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 3rd March 2016.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "A dark, southern gothic novel about small-town dreams, love and grief. Dill's father is in jail for an unspeakable crime. Shunned by the neighbours in their small religious Tennessee town, Dill and his mother try to make ends meet.  Dill’s only respite from poverty and prejudice are his two friends: Lydia and Travis. Travis is an oddball, finding sanctuary from his violent father in his obsession with an epic fantasy saga. Lydia is fast-talking and fiercely creative, pinning her hopes on her achingly cool fashion blog. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life in New York. Dill wants to get through his final year of high school in one piece. But there’s a dark secret at the heart of his family, a serpent poisoning his blood, filling him with despair. Dill must confront this legacy of madness and desperation before it tears him apart."

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Now, I don't know know about you, but I personally like to start the reading year with a bang. I like to start it off reading something that I just have a good feeling about, something I just have this inkling will be special. And for me this year, the choice was The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. I had heard about this book on twitter when I found Jeff's account and followed him. The book sounded amazing, but at the time I didn't know it had a UK publisher, so resigned myself to wait for the US edition to be released so I could import a copy. Then, one afternoon I was browsing Netgalley, and low and behold the book was available for download, an e-arc from the UK publisher, Anderson. I freaked out, downloaded it and decided to read it asap. As it was, I planned to read it over my Christmas holidays, but due to real life and just generally being busy, I didn't have as much time as I would of liked, so the majority of the book was saved for New Years so I could really start the year of special.

And everything about The Serpent King is special, let me tell you. Right from the word go, the writing is so lyrical and beautiful that Jeff drew me straight into Dill's story. I fell in love with Dill, and took an instant dislike to his parents. I'm always against parents who think that just because their life sucks, their kids should to. No. Just no! But it wasn't just Dill I fell in love with. There was a whole range of characters for you to love. Feisty Lydia who is determined to make something of herself. Nerdy Travis, who I am not ashamed to say I related to quite closely, his Bloodfall obsession mirroring mine for Harry Potter and many more. Lydia's parents. Travis' mum who I really felt for. But also the setting. The book is set in Forestville. A small town in the middle of nowhere, where everyone is up in everyone else's business. You can't go out the house without seeing someone you know, and someone who knows everything about you, your deepest, darkest parts that you just cannot get away from. The setting is described so beautifully that I almost felt like I was there. It feels authentic, this little town where everyone makes their decisions always keeping in mind that God is watching and that they want to live good, honest lives.

You see, Dill's father is in prison. Once the head of his own church he has fallen from grace, and left his wife and son to pick up the pieces on the outside world. But Dill is growing tired of this, and with the prospect of losing his best friend on the horizon, he is desperate to do something, anything that would make it all okay. He's always been into his music, songwriting and singing, but always alone in his bedroom, he hasn't performed in public since his fathers church fell. But when Lydia gives him her old laptop and instructs him to record himself, she uploads the videos to YouTube and Dill begins to see a light at the end of the tunnel and starts to take his life into his own hands, doing what he wants to do, rather than what his parents what him to do.

Lydia on the other hand is already doing what she wants. Having run a successful fashion blog for several years, it's never been a question of if she will go to college. It's just which one, and when she has made up her mind, she's determined. But she's also scared. Scared of leaving her friends behind in this horrible little place. Scared that she will move on and make something of herself while the people she loves festers and just stays put. 

Travis, the character I related to a lot, is obsessed with books. Well, one series in particular. The Bloodfall series. I really liked that at the start of each chapter about Travis, there was a little snippet from the fictional book and felt this added a really great element into the story and was also relevant to the events going on.

Religion plays a big part in the book, and to start with I was a little hesitant about this. I make no bones about the fact that I am not religious, and I have read some books that focus on religion and it feels like a stifling factor, like it is constantly rammed down your throat. But in The Serpent King, it works, and it feels like it is something being questioned, rather than being reached. Dill's father led a group of people who passed around venomous snakes and drank poison, but Dill never really felt like he was part of it. His parents are still deeply religious, and when his mother begins to question his motives, and blames him for everything that has gone wrong, you really see a shift in his mindset and I loved seeing this.

The Serpent King, is, in essence, a coming of age story. A story about three friends who want to find their way in the world, stuck in a little town and with way too much baggage for them to handle alone. It has it's dark moments, I'll give you that, but it is also incredibly light in places, hopeful, and it definitely tugs at your heartstrings more than a couple of times. I actually cannot begin to recommend this book highly enough. I've been tweeting Jeff all the way through reading the book, so I'm sure he knows how I feel already, but I cannot thank him enough for such a beautiful reading experience and such an incredible journey. Memorable characters, beautiful prose. And some sentences in here to die for! One in particular I tweeted Jeff straight after reading it, proclaiming it to be one of the most beautiful and poignant sentences I have ever read and it'll stick in my mind forever! You'll know the one when you read it, trust me!

The book is out in March and it is one not to be missed! Trust me, please just do not miss out on this wonderful, wonderful book!

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My thanks to Anderson/Penguin from whom I got the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

The British Books Challenge 2016


So whilst I have been blogging for just shy of 6 years (whoa...) I have never actually taken part in a challenge, and this year I plan to change that. Last year I read 50 books, and whilst I have set myself a cautionary target of 100 books this year, I'm not pushing myself, however I do read a lot of UK authors work, obviously living in the UK, so this year I'm actually going to take part!

There are way more books that are coming out than I actually have time to sit and list, but some that I am very excited are...

The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury, sequel to The Sin Eater's Daughter. Can't wait!

The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig, again another sequel, this time to The Fire Sermon.

Warrior Bronze by Michelle Paver, the fifth and final book in the Gods and Warriors series. Michelle also has a second book out in 2016, Thin Air, another ghost story and if it's anything like her last ghost story, Dark Matter, then I better read it during daylight!

So like I said, there are so many to list! More sequels, debuts, but these are a few that I am certain will be read this year! 


Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 Blogging Resolutions

First off... HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2016 brings everyone lots of joyous time, loads of great books to read and a lot of happiness... Ooh, and no reading slumps, those pesky, horrible things!

2015 was a bit of a funny year for me, all in all, for various reasons, that I won't really go into here because YAWN! But on the blogging side I was very quiet. There were times this year where due to personal stuff as well as work, I just did not, and sometimes could not, read. I fell into slump, after slump, after bloody slump and all in all it was draining. I wanted to read for the most part of the year. I bloody love reading, evidently. But stuff was going on that just took me too far away from my own headspace to even actually escape anything. A lot of the time I just did not have the energy, and so therefore, I didn't really review many books. I didn't read as many as I had hoped I would. I set myself a target at the end of 2014 to read 100 books and in the end I managed 50. Whilst thats still not terrible, it isn't amazing either, and I felt a bit like I had lost out on so many amazing stories and characters that everyone else was enjoying, because of my life and the stuff going on.

But I've decided to let it go. I'm not going to make myself feel bad anymore. In hindsight, that may have been part of the problem. I was adding pressure to myself that I didn't need. In 2016, I have again set myself a challenge to read 100 books. That's just because it's something I've always wanted to do, but just never managed. Get into the triple figures. I see so many other bloggers do it and it makes me want to do it. It inspires me. But I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't do it. I have set myself the same target for the last four years and I haven't even come close yet. And instead of telling myself I MUST READ MORE BOOKS THAN LAST YEAR, I want to strive to just enjoy what I read, and if I read 100 or even more books in the year, then that's amazing. Well done me. If I don't, oh well, it doesn't matter.

Things have quietened down on the real life front and I'm hoping for a bit more of a peaceful 2016 with a lot less of an over-thinking brain that makes most waking moments very unenjoyable. I am, naturally I am afraid, a pessimist. Try as I might, I very often cannot see a positive of a situation. There are a lot of books I am looking forward to this year and I don't want to miss out on them, as well as new adventures I have yet to discover and covet. 

I am also doing a couple of re-reads this year that I have already planned. One spills over from last year. To re-read the Harry Potter series. I read Philosopher's Stone but then just never got around to reading the rest, although I am currently listening to the Chamber of Secrets audiobook, narrated by the incomparable Stephen Fry, when I have a bath and am enjoying it immensely. The other is a re-read of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It's been years since I read them last and I remember enjoying them so much, and what with the Netflix adaptation looming out there somewhere, and with Andrew from Pewter Wolf (who also inspired my Harry re-read as well) also re-reading the series I just felt that there was no better time.

So ramble over, my resolution is just to enjoy what I read. I am hoping that if I actually allow myself to enjoy it again, rather than feeling like I need to read this, I need to read that and I need to read them all yesterday to get a review up, that I will feel more liberated and review again like I used to when I used to have so much fun.