Currently Reading

Currently reading: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2015: Books of Interest

Well seeing as it is the time of the year to look back at the titles you have loved in the last twelve months, it is also time to look forward to lots of bookish goodness to come! Today I am going to highlight some of the books that I am VERY excited about! Let's go!

January sees the release of The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. I have been excited about this one for a long time now, it just sounds so good - the children, a glass coffin - it sounds amazing and I cannot wait to finally have a ganders at it properly!! I am also deeply in love with that cover. It is just so blooming beautiful!

January also sees the release of The Mime Order, the second book in Samantha Shannon's epic The Bone Season series. If you haven't read any of Samantha's work yet then you are severely missing out. You will fall in love with the world, the characters and her writing style from the very first page. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and being lucky enough to have a proof copy I have read the first chapter and it is incredible - I cannot wait to give the full book a good read at the start of the year!


Moving on to February, this months sees the publication of The Sin Eater's Daughter by Mel Salisbury. Now, ever since I heard about this book and saw its INCREDIBLE cover I fell in love and couldn't wait to get a hold of it. I mean look at that cover! It just looks so amazing. The main character is the Goddess in human form and is the executioner, able to kill with a single touch. I mean... WOW! I need this book in my life... Now please!

Then we have, also in February, The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (which I am currently reading and ADORING!) and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Both books I am insanely excited about. Luckily I have an e-arc of Red Queen so I am hoping to get to it soon. I love both of these covers too. Wow, 2015 is already so strong in the cover game!



Moving on to March! There's only one book out this month that I am INSANELY excited for and that is the latest James Dawson offering, Under My Skin. I had the pleasure of unveiling the title and blurb earlier this year and it sounds amazing and has a stunning cover too! Bring it on!
April unleashes a boat load of titles that I am gagging to read! Forged by Erin Bowman, the final offering in the Taken trilogy. Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli which sounds beautiful and touching. And The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings, the sequel to my favourite book of 2014, The Murder Complex. I am so excited for April! What a month!


May sees the release of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Now, I fell in love with Sarah this year. I started the Throne of Glass series and immediately fell in love, so I cannot wait to read this. The world sounds amazing, the characters sound awesome and I am in love with the cover. It is so beautiful! Luckily, I have a proof copy so I am hoping to get around to it sooner rather than later! There is also a new Cat Clarke book due in May! The Lost and the Found is described as a phycological thriller, and knowing Cat's previous work I for one think it will be fantastic. There isn't a cover at the moment, but given the track record Cat has for amazing covers I cannot wait to see what it looks like!
June will see the publication of one of my most anticipated reads of all time. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. This book has been building hype for quite a while now and it is Adam's debut. It follows Aaron as he struggles to come to terms with being gay and falling for Thomas in the middle of the Bronx, where it isn't really okay for him to be this way. It is already getting rave reviews and I for one cannot wait. I am so excited it is unreal!



July is a bit of a dry spell, at the moment anyway, so maybe this will be a time for me to catch up on the books already released? But then August comes along and all hell breaks loose. There's the new Patrick Ness book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which sounds phenomenal and is about people who can only watch on as the chosen one battles to save the world. There's the new Michelle Paver book, The Crocodile Tomb, which serves as the fourth instalment in the Gods and Warriors series. And there is also the final book in Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave trilogy. None of them have any covers yet, but I cannot wait to read them! August is going to be an amazing month!

September brings with it the publication of Tonight The Streets Are Ours  by Leila Sales, which sounds incredible! And in October, there are a few titles I'm excited about. The first is the new Rick Riordan book. It's the first in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, which will centre around Norse gods and Norse mythology, in the same vein as that of his incredibly popular Percy Jackson series. I started reading Percy this year and have fallen in love so I cannot wait to get on board a series of his as it is being published and not having to play catch up!


It also sees the release of Fake by Beck Nicholas. It's about a girl who is humiliated when her date for the end of term part ditches her at the last minute for the new girl. Bent on revenge, she and her friend set about luring this new girl into a trap and create a fake online profile to ensnare her, much like the tv show Catfish which I am OBSESSED with! But she falls in love with the new girls brother and as things begin to unravel, so does the life she thought she had and she realises she doesn't know everyone in her life as well as she thought she did. I cannot wait for this! It sounds AMAZING!
And that folks, is all for 2015 that I know of so far. It sounds like it is going to be an AMAZING reading year for us all - with so many stunning sounding books to chose from I wonder how we are all going to fit it in! I for one cannot wait! I am so excited to get started - after a reasonably disappointing year reading wise I hope 2015 is a lot better!

Author of the Year 2014


This is a new feature here at Empire of Books and it is something I have been thinking about for the last few years but for some reason or another I just never got around to it. At this time of year all the blogs are posting their end of year lists. Best covers, best books released that year, best books they've read that year regardless of when they are published. The lists go on and on. And yes, I have them lists as well but I have wanted to do an Author of the Year for a while so I am now going to do it|! No more idling around just thinking about things I can do. I'm just going to do it!

So, welcome to the inaugural Empire of Books Author of the Year award! Ha! Snazzy, huh?!

Anyway, lets get on with things! I have been trying to decide who to pick as my author of 2014 for a while and it was between a few names but I finally made my decision and I'm sticking with it, because as far as I can see it, no one deserves it more than he does at this moment in time! Ooh! There you go! I said he! It's a he! And he is a he to be reckoned with, let me tell you!

Author or not one, not two, but three cracking YA novels that feature withces, Summer holidays full of murder and deceit and a bit of Halloween fun gone wrong, he has proven himself as a staple of YA fiction today and deserves every success. But he doesn't just write YA! Oh no, he has his fingers in many pies does this man! He always writes informative, fun and downright important non-fiction. From being a boy, and growing up in a male body, to what it is to be gay and what you have to look forward to in the world and how to deal with your sexuality, he isn't just a talented voice, he is an important one that we should cherish!

So, ladies, gentlemen and peoples of the internet... My Author of the Year for 2014 is none other than...

....


......


.........


..............

...................

Keep going....

.............................

.....................................

..............................................

......................................................

Nearly there, I promise you, I just want to draw this out, like the X-Factor winning moment....

..............................................................

......................................................................

.............................................................................

........................................................................................

MR. JAMES DAWSON

Ever since he came on the scene a few years ago with his wickedly good debut, Hollow Pike, James has enthralled myself and countless other readers with characters as real and vivid as you or I. His writing is so addictive and encapsulating that are are drawn into his worlds so quickly. Through the sweltering, blood-tinged heat of Cruel Summer to the cold, damp and haunted corridors of Say Her Name, James has proven that he is a talent to be reckoned with and if you haven't read any of his work yet, where the hell have you been? Get with the programme guys!


As you may of seen, James also features in my end of year book list with This Book Is Gay. A non fiction book that made me laugh, very nearly made me cry but most of all made me proud of who I am and what I am. As I said above, his voice is so important and honest and should be cherished and nurtured. 


I for one cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store, what with Under My Skin coming out in a few months time and god knows what else he has up his sleeves!

It isn't much of a trophy, James, mostly because I am broke (haha) but please accept this award. The inaugural Empire of Books Author of the Year award! You are, most definitely, a tough act to follow!

(If you click on it to enlarge it you can read it better! Haha!)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Top 10 Books of 2014

The year of 2014 has been a bit hit and miss with me, reading wise, I have to be honest. There have been some stellar books that I have really enjoyed, and at the opposite end of the spectrum there have been some that I haven't liked at all and in some cases never finished which rarely happens with me, but it seems to be a trend this year. I have seen so many other bloggers say that it has felt like something has been missing in 2014 and I think that is true. I just cannot for the life of me put my finger on what it was!

That said, here are the top 10 books I loved in 2014 and in favourite order too! In previous years I have only normally included books that have been released in that year, however this year I have read so many books that were published years ago or outside of this year so I've decided to include those too!

-

10) The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams.
Originally released back in 2008, I only read this book earlier this month and thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst it is for younger readers there are some jokes that only older readers will get and I feel these have been placed deliberately for parents who will read the book to their children. It's great fun and has a great message that is very important to share. Tolerance. A great read.








9) The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.
Another younger book, aimed at the so called "middle grade" age range that was a lot of fun. There was a part of me at the time that felt like this may just be a slight rip off of Harry Potter but it felt fresh, new and as I have mentioned was a lot of fun. It's fast paced and a definite recommendation from me!







8) Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige.
I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. I really enjoyed some parts of it and other parts I didn't really like at all. I also dislike that it's Full Fathom Five, and if you don't know the whole shitstorm around that then google it, it's worth a read! But overall it was a good book and I am kind of looking forward to seeing what happens in the sequel which is due out early next year.






7) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.
Another oldie that I have only discovered this year - I really wish I had started this series sooner because I fell in love right from the first sentence. I had planned to read all six books this year, one a month from when I started City of Bones in July but it didn't happen for some reason or another so maybe in 2015 I will read the rest of the series! I have to say Cassandra's writing is so hypnotic - I just did not want to put it down!




6) The Eye of the Falcon by Michelle Paver.
Michelle continues to amaze me with this, the third instalment in the incredible Gods and Warriors series. It's action-packed, exciting and emotional too! I love her work and can't ever see that changing. I cannot wait for the next book, The Crocodile Tomb, which comes out Summer 2015!










5) Zom-B Family by Darren Shan.
The third instalment of the Zom-B series published this year and the ninth overall, Family is perhaps the darkest, goriest of Shan's books yet and for this alone it was incredible. It showed a new side to the author and the characters in the series and is setting up things pretty nicely for the last three books in the series due to be published over the next eighteen months.







4) This Book Is Gay by James Dawson. 
Whilst this book isn't fiction it is still one of my favourite books of the year, if not now all time. It feels so important, both in terms of equality and education - I personally learnt from the book and feel so grateful for its existence and am so happy and excited for the young gay males who are now coming to terms with themselves to have this too. If it had been around ten years ago when I first realised I myself was gay then things might of been completely different. Wonderful book.




3) Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth.
I've said it before and I will say it again, I am totally obsessed with the Divergent world and series and while this is technically a bind-up rather than a novel it is still one of my favourite reads of the year. I loved getting to see into the mind of Four and his back story which before had only been hinted at. Plus I adore Veronica's writing. It is just so damn good!






2) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.
Oh man, how I wish I had jumped on this when it first came out 3 years ago. Alas I did not, so I had three years of my life with something missing, without this epic story stored in my brain. Because this book is INCREDIBLE and I am so happy that I have finally delved into the world of Sarah J. Maas and her beautiful assassin. I also read the second book in the series this year, Crown of Midnight and I am so excited to read Heir of Fire in the New Year. I've heard that this one of the most emotional of the series so far so I cannot wait, and with A Court of Thorns and Roses due to be published next year too, 2015 is going to be exciting for fans of Miss Maas!


And finally then, it is time for Number 1. My favourite book of the year... And it's actually one I read at the tail end of last year but was only published this June...

Ladies and gentlemen, my favourite book of 2014 is...


1) The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings.
It's dark, exciting and atmospheric. It's bloody, it's addictive and it is so wonderfully written that as soon as I started to read my e-proof that I got last December I fell in love with the world instantly. The writing is so fluid and encapsulating that I was there, struggling on the streets along with Meadow and Zephyr, just trying to stay alive in a world of murder. I am so excited to see what happens next and with the publication of The Death Code just four months away I don't have to wait too long but that is still too long as far as I am concerned. I need it now!!!

-

So that is it for another year. They are the ten books that I loved most this year and I cannot wait to see what lies in wait in 2015!

What was your favourite book you read this year? Leave a comment below. I'm intrigued! :)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Top 10 Covers of 2014

Well it's that time of the year again! Time to look bak at the year just gone, a look at the wonderful books that have been released, and in this post in particular, their beautiful covers! Let's crack on!

-


10) The Young Elites by Marie Lu.
A dark and brooding cover. I love the font used for the title but there isn't really a lot going on. I just love how it captures this dark undertone to the book itself!

-


9) Talon by Julie Kagawa.
I love how the book looks like it should be shiny. I don't own a physical copy of this yet, despite having it on my Kindle but I just have a feeling that it'll have embossing so you can feel the scales. I wonder if anyone can confirm this or not? Either way it is a beautiful cover!

-


8) The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.
Whilst the book itself does look quite young (it is a middle grade, after all) I love this cover. The creepy guy on the cover with the mask gives me the chills!

-


7) The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings.
A dark, almost polarising cover. I like how it is kind of simple and yet it has so many layes. I never noticed her whole face until I actually had the physical book. I only ever saw her eyes and hair. It's such an effective cover and the actual book itself has this finish to it where the cover feels almost like fabric, it's so smooth and cool.

-


6) The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey.
I love the covers for these books and I cannot wait to see what they do for the final book in the trilogy. They're mysterious and intriguing and I like that you can't really tell it is a tale of alien invasion directly from the cover but you can tell it is something special all the same.

-


5) This Book Is Gay by James Dawson.
This one needs no explanation. It is just such an amazing cover and very much needed!

-


4) Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.
Stunning. Simply stunning. These books have such a distinctive and beautiful look that you just cannot help but pick them up and marvel at their beauty. I know you should not judge a book by its cover but when it is this beautiful it is hard not to! Right?

-


3) Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth.
Another series that has stunning artwork, in the US at least. I love this cover, how it ties in with the main books in the trilogy! It's just so pretty to look at and I love the glossy finish they used on the final book.

-


2) Frozen by Erin Bowman.
I love everything about this cover. The colouring. The grading. The way the title is written. It's just so beautiful!

-

And finally, my favourite cover of the year...


1) Say Her Name by James Dawson.
It had to be! This cover more than any other had a major impact on me this year. It scared me, first off, I'm not going to lie. But it also intrigued me. I have never really been much of a horror/scary book/film fan so this book was a bit of a risk for me as it isn't the sort of thing I would normally pick up if I didn't trust the author but I loved the cover so much so that helped.

So there you go. My favourite ten covers for 2014. Do you agree with any of my choices? What is your favourite cover this year? Comment below and maybe I will discover some new gems I hadn't seen before. 





Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful day, eat lots of glorious food and get lots of stunning books. Sadly, as far as I am aware anyway, I am not getting any books this year - such is the problem that I buy every book I want rather than wait because I have to have ALL OF THE THINGS!!!! Ha. Anyway, enjoy and I will see you all here in a few days time (I hope) for a series of End of Year posts! :)


Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams [Review]

Written by: David Walliams.
Published by: HarperCollins.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 1st October 2008
Rating: 4/5.

Official synopsis: "The sparkling debut children’s novel from David Walliams, number one bestseller and fastest growing children’s author in the country, with sparkling new cover look to tie in with later books. Dennis was different. Why was he different, you ask? Well, a small clue might be in the title of this book… Charming, surprising and hilarious – The Boy in the Dress is everything you would expect from the co-creator of Little Britain. David Walliams’s beautiful first novel will touch the hearts (and funny bones) of children and adults alike."

-

I have been meaning to read a David Walliams book for a very long time. There is always a lot of hype around them and they always top the bestsellers lists when they are released. They are loved by adults and children alike and my blogging friend, Jenny over at Wondrous Reads, has reviewed several of them and loved them so I knew that if Jenny loved them I would! It was just a case of getting the books and getting around to it! Well, thanks to Amazon and their Black Friday lightning sale, a boxset of five David Walliams books was on sale at a price I could not refuse so I brought them on an impulse. That day, I got, The Boy in the Dress, obviously, Mr. Stink, Billionaire Boy, Gangsta Granny and Ratburger. As soon as they came I was so excited. The covers are great and well designed and really appeal to the eye.

When I finally did start reading I could see just why his books have been so successful. It almost had this Roald Dahl-esque quality about it. It drew you in and really made you feel like a part of the story. The book itself is very funny in places but also, I feel, very important. There is an underlying message in the book about acceptance. Something I think that is very important and should be present but in some circles of life isn't, even today. This book I feel could help that. Children are very impressionable and if we teach them the right things, the right morals, the right messages then change will happen. I'm not saying that The Boy in the Dress is going to do all that, but it is a good place to start. 

Dennis lives in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street. But he is anything but ordinary. He breaks the gender stereotypes and whilst he loves football, he also loves fashion and could spend hours just staring at the glossy pages of Vogue. Looking at all the pretty dresses, the materials, the cut, the style. And then he befriends Lisa. Everyone at school loves Lisa. And she shows Dennis a dress that she has made and convinces him to wear it to some hilarious consequences. The book is laugh out loud funny. I think I actually howled at one point I was laughing so much. It is well written, considering it is aimed at children, it doesn't feel condescending, yet there are also references that an adult reader would get that I younger reader wouldn't, which I liked. I loved the little nod to Little Britain, which I thought was very clever. 

The characters are varied. From Darvesh and his mum, to Mr. Hawtrey, the devilish headteacher. Everyone feels fully formed and all play their part extremely well.

After reading The Boy in the Dress I am so glad I finally took the plunge. There are more books besides the one that came in the boxset, written by David, so I do have a fair bit of catching up to do, but if they are as good as this one I cannot wait to get started. I have already seen the tv movie adaptations of Mr. Stink and Gangsta Granny when they were on the last two Christmases and I cannot wait to see how they do The Boy in the Dress when it is on this Boxing Day. 



Saturday, 6 December 2014

Bookish Christmas Q and A

The lovely Jess over at Jess Hearts Books (honestly, check her blog out, it is so good!) made a great post last Friday full of bookish Christmassy questions and it looks and sounds like a lot of fun and she said people are welcome to do their own so I am taking her up on that offer as I want something to really kick start my Christmas spirit and what better way to do that than to talk about some amazing books! Lets get cracking!

-


1.) Advent Calendar: what's the next big book release you're counting down to?
Something I am really looking forward to in 2015 is The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings. It is the sequel to The Murder Complex, which just so happens to be one of my favourite books published this year! Her writing is so fresh and vivid and her characters are adorable, and I cannot wait to see what is going to happen next in Meadow and Zephyr's lives!




2.) Snow Day: which best friends from a book could keep you entertained all day long?
I love the dynamics of the relationship and Celaena and Dorien in Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass books (no spoilers for Heir of Fire please! I haven't read that one yet!!!) They're both just so much fun and when they are around each other it's a mixture of flirting and friendship and also sometimes contempt. I love them.



3.) The Nativity: which book/series would you most like to see adapted into a movie, TV show, play etc?

I would love to see Darren Shan's Zom-B series be made into a tv show. I think it would work better that way. It's so graphic and so well described, that I think some of the events would make it an eighteen movie and at least if it was on telly it could go out post-watershed and it could still be a real success... I would also loved to the the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series be made into movies. It's a great series that I feel is grossly underrated. I know the rights were sold a while back, then bought back and sold again for them to be made into tv movies, but nothing has been announced or mentioned for quite a while and as a long term fan who really wants to see the books explode even more than they have already it is quite frustrating!


4.) Carol Singing: which musical book character/s would you like to turn up on your doorstep caroling this Christmas? 
Katniss Everdeen. Thankfully, we kind of do have Katniss singing thanks to JLaw's incredible performance! I love that they did The Hanging Tree in Mockingjay Part 1 and that they did it justice. It is such a beautiful song that Katniss could just sing that to me and I would still be in the Christmassy mood! I also think she would do a mean rendition of Jingle Bells!



5.) The Perfect Gift: which book from your wish list would you most like to find under your tree on Christmas morning?
I am such a bad person when it comes to knowing what I would like for Christmas. I am something of an impulse buyer so I do buy a lot of the books I want as and when they come out so there aren't normally many left that I haven't already got and any there are are ones that aren't out yet! One that I haven't yet purchased though but would love for Christmas is Harry Potter: The Creature Vault. It just looks like such a beautiful book and I have heard nothing but good things about it! 


6.) Do You Want To Build a Snowman? What do you think are the key ingredients for a life like character?
Something I need to feel about a character when reading about them is their humanity. They have to feel grounded, 3D, fleshed out, they need to feel as if they are a real person, not just someone made up for the purposes of a story. I like when things are hinted at outside of the story, things that happened before the start of the story, or something that is bubbling under the surface that could lead to something after the end of the story.

7.) Tree, Tinsel, Fairy Lights: most decorative book cover of 2014?
A book cover I absolutely adore is the cover for Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant. It's all red and white which are Christmassy (what with Father Christmas wearing red and white being the colour of snow...) although from reading the synopsis I doubt it is anything Christmassy at all!


8.) Christmas Kisses: which book crush from this year would you most like to kiss underneath the mistletoe?
Oh god, there are so many! So, so many! Tobias/Four from the Divergent series. Dorien from Throne of Glass. Ash from the Black City trilogy. I could go on and on.

9.) Snow Ball Fight: a book that you thought would be a lot of fun but left you feeling cold.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is easily the biggest reading disappointment for me this year. There was a massive campaign around it to launch it and everyone kept saying how amazing it was and I could not wait to find out for myself. But as soon as I started reading it was pretty clear that I just wasn't going to feel the connection to it in the same way that everyone else did. That said I did like the writing and it is a great idea, I just didn't really get the hype.


10.) Christmas Traditions: a book that you read over and over again.


This one is so easy for me! So easy! Hogfather by Terry Pratchett! No word of a lie, I read it every year and have done since I first read it back in 2006 or 2007. I can't remember which, it was whatever year the adaptation was on Sky One way back when. It was the first Terry Pratchett book I ever read and I completely and utterly fell in love. The way he writes, the words, the characters, the story itself. It's so Christmassy and yet it couldn't be further from Christmas at the same time. The pure notion of Death himself, riding around in a sleigh as the jolly fat man, in this case the Hogfather, delivering presents for Hogswatch (the Discworld equivalent of Christmas) is so funny. The book itself is so full of insight and wit and Death is so sarcastic I cannot help but laugh and love it even more every time I read it! I can't wait to read it again this Christmas.


11.) The Night Before Christmas: a book that kept you up reading late into the night.
This actually happened to me last night! I had been reading a couple of pages a night due to having to be up early for work, so last night, knowing I wasn't working today, I decided to stay up until I had finished the book. That said book is The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. I will be giving it a full review, but I will say that I love this book so much. It's entertaining and I know it is aimed at younger kids (the back of the book says 9+) but I found it to be a fun read! It has a great moralistic message that I feel is important. Acceptance. I am very much looking forward to seeing the adaptation that the BBC have done! It is on on Boxing Day. I enjoyed Mr. Stink in 2012 and last years Gangsta Granny so no doubt this is going to be just as good!

12.) Rudolph: which book shone the brightest for you this year? 
A book that really stood out to me this year, and is one I am supposed to be getting around to writing a review for soon, is This Book Is Gay by James Dawson. It isn't exactly a YA book, it isn't fiction. But it is so funny and beautiful and honest and just so so good and I love it and James for writing it!