Currently Reading

Currently reading: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

THE WRONG TRAIN BLOG TOUR - Extract and Review



Today it gives me the greatest pleasure to play host to a stop on The Wrong Train blog tour. This book is truly an amazing find and one perfect for this time of year. It's a fanstastic little read that won't take you long as it's so gripping you'll be tearing through page after page.

Set out as a collection of short stories with an interlocking narrative in the form of scenes surrounding a boy who has, you guessed it, gotten the wrong train and has been abandoned at a stop where there are no trains coming and just an elderly man to keep him company and some spooky tales that only seem to breed the young boys fear further still.

I really enjoyed the sections between the stories featuring our main character and the old man who tells him these dark and twisted tales. My only gripe was that these were too short and too few. I really really loved these sections.

From creepy old ladies called forth by black candles burning in the night to rid parents of their "mistakes", to Dead Molly, the book gets darker and darker as it goes on. I would certainly recommend it, especially if you're looking for something creepy and spine-tingling to read over Halloween. However, I would recommend that if you do read it, you make sure you have plenty of lights on and make sure you aren't home a lone either as any little sound will make you jump out of your skin! If you're looking for happy endings, let me tell you, you're looking in completely the wrong place! The book itself builds and builds to a crescendo that will live you positively chilled to the bone.

If you don't believe me, take a read of this extract below, the first chapter, courtesy of David Fickling Books for your pleasure!



My thanks to Carolyn at David Fickling Books for asking me to be a part of this tour and for my review copy!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake [Review]

Written by: Kendare Blake.
Published by: Pan Macmillan.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 22nd September 2016.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest."

-

Three dark queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends.

Three dark sisters
all fair to be seen,
two to devour
and one to be Queen.

I mean if that doesn't get your heart racing and make you want to read this book, I don't know what the hell will! That was the first thing I heard about this book and it had me yearning to read it, so when Pan Macmillan reached out to me asking if I'd like to see an early copy, the answer was a resounding HECK YEAH I WOULD, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! And I have to say it didn't disappoint. If anything, Three Dark Crowns exceeded what I thought it would be. I knew it would be dark and it would feature a fight of some sort for a crown, but what we actually get is so, so much more. It's way darker than I imagined. The scenes where Katharine, the poisoners queen, is forced to eat a lot of food that has been laced with various poisons seemed so barbaric and medieval and so out of place with the way we are used to seeing royalty be treated. 

The book itself follows three sisters, triplets who are all queens and heir to a throne that only one may possess. Each of the sisters has their own gift with varying strengths and weaknesses - from ingesting poison, to controlling the weather, to befriending creatures great and small - and are preparing to battle it out to the death for their right to sit on the coveted throne. 

The world building is immense as we get to explore a world that feels medieval and fantastical.  The writing is beautiful and once you get used to the fact that the POV changes near enough every chapter you stop noticing the change and just go with the flow of the book itself. I personally really enjoyed it and loved every single page. It completely drew me in from the get go and had me racing to see what the sisters and their entourages were going to do next. Twists and turns a plenty and a touch of romance that doesn't feel like too much, which is sometimes a danger I think. Sometimes romance is kind of shoehorned in but with this book it works and it isn't too much! So kudos to Kendare for that! With the promise of a second book, One Dark Throne, due next year I cannot wait to see how this is all going to play out after that ending! Argh! I for one cannot wait and highly recommend that you all go out and get a copy right NOW!

Stunning. Dark and incredibly creepy. The perfect read for a dark, winters night with a cup of something warm!

In the UK we are super lucky and have three stunning covers to chose from, each based around one of the three queens!


Which one is your favourite? Mine is the poisoner cover, obviously featuring the snake! Pick your favourite and be sure to share your choice!

My thanks to Catherine at Macmillan for thinking of me and emailing me about this book and for my copy!


Friday, 7 October 2016

Thin Air by Michelle Paver [Review]

Written by: Michelle Paver.
Published by: Orion.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 6th October 2016.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "The Himalayas, 1935. Kangchenjunga. Third-highest peak on earth. Greatest killer of them all. Five Englishmen set off from Darjeeling, determined to conquer the sacred summit. But courage can only take them so far - and the mountain is not their only foe. As the wind dies, the dread grows. Mountain sickness. The horrors of extreme altitude. A past that will not stay buried. And sometimes, the truth does not set you free."

-

Imagine it. It's a warm day in the middle of May. The sun is shining, the air is alive with the sounds of birds and insects alike. But you're huddled on the sofa, a verified block of ice. Shivering, jumping at the slightest of movements or sounds you aren't expecting, and have been transported to the snowy landscapes of the Himalayas. That, my friends, is what my experience of reading Thin Air was like. 

I've been a long term fan of Michelle's, for over twelve years since Wolf Brother came out and started an obsession with worlds and words that just won't ever leave me (and I hope it doesn't!). I've always been more of a YA reader. Adult fiction doesn't normally do it for me, but I have authors that are auto-buys, or auto-reads, meaning I will get whatever they choose to publish, be it their masterpiece or a shopping list. And Michelle is right at the top of my auto-read list, so I read her first ghost story, Dark Matter, when it came out a few years ago. I had always hoped Michelle would do another ghost story because I think her writing lends to them so well. She just builds suspense so masterfully and has you absolutely rapt. So when I knew Thin Air was on the way I could not of been more excited. On a personal note the book came on a day when I was feeling particularly down, given the horrendous year I've had, and the proof came with a little note from Michelle herself who is a lovely lady and I hope to meet again some day as I have fond memories of meeting her when I was a teenager!

Anyway, back to the book. It's a chilling tale which will take you right to the deadly peaks of Kangchenjunga. Yes I had to google how to pronounce it. And no, I'm not ashamed! Ha!

It's chilling. Thrilling. And downright scary. From the get go I had chills running up and down my body. I had the shakes at one particular point and had to keep looking up to make sure that I was actually on my own. Such is the power of Michelle's story telling that I felt like there was an unwanted entity with me, watching me, plotting to take me down the way the ghost in the story does. When reading it you really feel the sense of isolation the characters are feeling. You can feel it build, and it almost feels like a physical reaction for you as the reader. You start to second guess things, start to try to think of a logical explanation, even when there isn't place for one. By the end of the book I really felt the paranoia set in and it made me wonder what I would be like in that sort of situation. I could hardly read it without losing my cool, I dread to think what I would be like.

It completely transported me away from the darkness of my own life and if even for a brief moment made me forget and drew me in so wholly that I was lost in this wonderful book, and that is something that seems to be very rare these days. 

I cannot recommend this book enough. If you enjoyed Michelle's previous ghost story, Dark Matter, you'll love this one. If you love anything supernatural, a bit scary, ghostly, then you'll enjoy it too. It's a fantastic read thats absorbing and totally paralysing. Beautifully, lyrically written. A five star read if ever there was one!

My thanks to Orion and Michelle for my early copy and postcard! It really meant a lot and came at a time I really needed a bit of cheering up, so thank you!

Monday, 6 June 2016

THIS SAVAGE SONG BLOG TOUR | Stop 6 | "This Savage Song"

Today I have the honour of hosting the sixth and final stop of the This Savage Song blog tour to celebrate the release of This Savage Song by bestselling author V.E. Schwab! The book itself is out tomorrow and it has a STUNNING cover! What I really love about this blog tour is that it features extracts from the book so it's giving us plenty of snippets to get us excited about the book! So without further ado... I present to you...


Leo reached into his jacket. August assumed he was fetching one of his own instruments. Instead, he withdrew a long, thin knife, and passed it to August.
“What is this for?” he asked.
Leo didn’t answer. He was staring down at his hand, now empty, and August watched as darkness began to roll up his fingers and across his palm. August recoiled instinctively, but only Leo’s hand blackened to shadow. The way he did that, slid between the two forms, that worked only because he’d torn away the walls between. August tried to imagine what Leo must have been like, back before he burned through his humanity, but he couldn’t. He watched as Leo reached out his shadowed hand and gripped the rusted doorknob. The metal
crunched like paper under his touch and fell away. The door swung open.
“Do what I say, little brother,” he said, his voice lower, stranger, more resonant.
“How do you know they’re here?” whispered August.
“I can smell the blood on their hands,” said Leo, the darkness receding from his skin, his voice returning to its usual pitch. He strode inside, and August followed, nudging the door shut behind him.
The house was dark and smelled of stale smoke and liquor, and when they moved, the boards creaked under their feet. August cringed. Leo didn’t. They reached the center of the room and stopped. Leo cocked his head, listening. And then August heard it, too. The floorboards groaned again. They were both standing still.
The first guy came out of nowhere. He lunged at Leo, but his brother was too fast; he plucked the man out of the air and slammed him down against the rotting boards so hard they split. The man squirmed and spat obscenities, but Leo crouched calmly over him like a cat pinning a mouse, but without the playful glee.
“What is your name?” he asked, and the air vibrated with his will.
“Foster,” spat the thug. His shadow writhed beneath him, clawing at the broken floor.
“Foster,” repeated Leo. “Are you here alone?”
The man thrashed, coughed, answered, “No.”
August’s grip tightened reflexively on the knife, but his brother looked unconcerned as he hauled Foster to his feet and spun him around so his back was pressed to Leo’s chest. 
“Pay attention, August,” he said. “There is more than one way to bring a soul to surface.”
With that, Leo wrenched Foster’s arm up behind his back, and the man cried out. August cringed, but Leo remained calm, unmoved. He kept twisting until August heard the tearing ligaments, and the man let out a scream.
“Why are you doing this?” asked August.
“To educate you,” said Leo simply. He twisted harder, and Foster keened.  
Bones broke audibly and August watched, horrified, first as sweat broke out across the man’s face, and then as his skin began to glow red. The light rose
like blood to the surface, and as it did, it began to pass from Foster’s body into Leo’s.


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."

-

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!

-

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.