Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Book Review - The Witch's Kiss

After reading Felix - The Railway Cat (blogpost for that is here!), you guys voted on what I should read next (this is the plan for the next month or so - though I might have to break it now due to getting a book in post and am PUMPED for it!) and you guys voted for The Witch's Kiss by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr.

Now, I've had this book (and its sequel) for a while but never been in the right frame of mind. Hence why these polls are such a good idea. Pushing me to read books I wouldn't normally rush towards unless I was in that mood.

Anyway, Witch's Kiss. Merry just wants to be a normal teenager. Shame that's not going to happen. She's a witch - a witch that doesn't want to be a witch, and her powers either exploding out of her fingertips when she's not in control or not there when she really needs them.

But it looks like she needs to embrace her witchy side and fast. Something dark is slowly waking and when Merry and her brother, Leo, meet Jack and discover he's under a centuries-old curse. A curse Merry must now break.

But Merry and those she love must be careful. Being a witch is dangerous, but so is falling in love and a heart is such an easy thing to break. So easy, in fact, that's true love's kiss might not be enough to save it...

Now, this is an odd book. Because there was faults - oh, so many faults, which I will go into in a bit - but it was a fun, addictive read. I read most of this book in one go (a good chuck of the book I read over the Easter Weekend - most of it on Easter Sunday).

The writing was fast paced and you had to run with the story to keep up. I liked some of the characters - mainly the brother, Leo. I really liked him and wish we saw more of his life outside of magic (he's an outsider, like us. Plus, if we saw his life, it would have been more powerful as the story grew) and I liked the hints towards fairy tales (mainly Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent with hints of the Lady in the Lake) and other things (Grey's Anatomy and Once Upon A Time - I really need to stop watching so much telly!). This is very much a book for fans of fast-paced magic.

But, like I said, this book had faults. A lot of faults. Most of which can be summed up in one way, I think. The story had a good idea and plot, but it felt skeletal. There was no real meat to the story. If there was, it would have given us something extra. See how Merry's magic affected her life in school and with friends, see the mysterious attacks (include the most personal), show us Leo's life with his friends and his romantic feelings towards a character we heard of but never met. But because the book is so focused on Merry's magic and the curse, there was no room for anything else.

While I say this book does have a lot of faults, I enjoyed the reading blitz I went on with this book and looking forward to finding time to read the sequel, The Witch's Tears... 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Audiobook Tag


CURSE YOU, @LOVEMIKAYLAEVE! AND CURSE YOU DARREN AT BART'S BOOKSELF! CURSE YOU BOTH!!! CURSE YOU FOR MAKING ME AWARE OF THIS TAG AND MAKING ME DO IT!!! (where's a good gif of Maleficent when you need one...?)


Anyway, I listen to quite a few audiobooks (and am getting better DNFing audiobooks I loathe), so when I saw this tag, I thought "This could be fun!" So, while checking my Audible history and popping onto my iTunes history, let's get started in my audiobook weirdness!

NAME A BOOK THAT WAS BETTER ON AUDIO
This is a hard one. There are so many! I feel the urge to say any Harry Potter because it's Potter and any way you read it (book, ebook, audio) is a wonder way to discover this world. I also would say the same for Sabriel by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry. This series is wonderful so discover it any way you can.

NAME A BOOK THAT WAS WORSE ON AUDIO THAN IN PRINT (AND YOU SWITCHED)
This has never happened to me. If I hate the audiobook, nothing will make me switch to the printed version. Am getting more ruthless with DNFing audiobooks, but if I hate an audiobook, I won't go near the book version. I have switched from audio to print before, for Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Not because the audio was awful (it wasn't in the slightest!), but due to time. It took over two weeks to get halfway through with audio and I was too impatient to find out what happened next to wait, so jumped to my pretty hardback copy.

TOP MALE AND FEMALE NARRATORS
This is tricky. A narrator can make or break an audiobook for me. I have three types of readers in my head: The Narrator that is perfect from the start, the Narrator you have to warm to but you click with a few chapters/halfway in or the Narrator that is such an ill-fit for the audiobook.

Am torn over top narrators. Am very tempted to say Stephen Fry or Tim Curry for male narrator. Both their voices just work with the stories I have listened to them reading. With female narrators, the first name that pops to mind is January Lavoy - I only listen to a few audiobooks read by her and every time I listen to her, it sounds like she's living the story.

WHAT'S THE LONGEST BOOK YOU'VE EVER LISTENED TO?
When I looked on my Audible history, it says the longest audiobook I bought was A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness at just under 24 hours. But this isn't the longest audiobook I have listened to. That is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (which is 29 hours and 46 minutes - I checked). 

WHAT'S THE SHORTEST BOOK YOU'VE EVER LISTENED TO?
I had to double check this as I misremembered. It's Go The **** To Sleep by Adam Mansbach (read by Samuel L Jackson). It's only 6 minutes long! 6 MINUTES!!!

HOW DO YOU LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIOBOOKS (IPOD, MP3 PLAYER, PHONE, ETC?) WHAT KIND OF EARBUDS DO YOU USE?
iPod for me. I would do it by my iPhone but I like listening to my podcasts on my iPhone and like to keep them separate (no idea why!). And earbuds... whatever comes to hand. But, normally, it's just the standard iPod earbuds. I do have other round the house but those are small and easy to pop into my pocket.

SHOULD AUTHORS NARRATE THEIR OWN BOOKS?
Ooooh! This is a tricky question to answer. Some authors, yes. Others, not so much. Sometimes, it's better for the story to be read by the author as they know the beat of how the story should be read. And it helps the reader to get into the story better. Note I say sometimes. I have listened to a few authors read their own audiobook and it doesn't sound right. There's something missing. So, I think authors should have the choice on whether they want to read their own books, but they shouldn't be forced if they say no.

IS THERE AN AUDIOBOOK YOU WISH COULD BE REDONE? BY WHICH NARRATOR?
Now this is hard, as I have a lot of series that I would love to be redone. How about keep one reader for a whole series or trilogy, and not switch them every book? That would be nice. (I would say can I have Tim Curry read Clariel and Goldenhand but I know he won't due to his health.).

BEST AUDIOBOOK YOU'VE EVER LISTENED TO OR YOUR FAVOURITE?
Of course am going to say Harry Potter! This is me we're talking about here! Am very tempted to say which Potter, but very hard to decide. Am leaning towards either Philosopher's Stone, Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire (but these are my faves so of course will go that way). I love how Stephen Fry reads these (not heard Tim Dale's version but I REALLY REALLY WANT TO!)

I always love Tim Curry reading of Sabriel. I love how he reads Mogget. I don;'t care what I need to do, if a movie of this book is going to be made, I MUST HAVE TIM CURRY BE MOGGET!!

WHAT'S THE MOST RECENT BOOK YOU LISTENED TO?
I did not finish (DNF) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard so I guess that doesn't count. I am currently (and VERY slowly) listening to Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (just started Chapter 3: The Fetch). And while I am not a fan of the narrator (Katherine Kellgren) at the moment (though I am growing to like how she reads this story), I feel quite certain I will complete this. This is very different to what I was expecting...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

eBook Review - Felix the Railway Cat

As you guys know, I have started (for this month and maybe next month) to do polls on Twitter so you guys decide what I read next. And this is the first book you guys picked! And the only reason I think you guys chose this book is because CAT!!!

When Huddersfield Train Station decided to get a railway cat for their station, they had no idea how the tiny fluffy kitten will affect their lives and the lives of their passengers. From helping a child come out of his shell to providing comfort to a runaway child, Felix changed everyone's lives. But it's a chance friendship with a commuter that brings Felix into the media spotlight and international stardom. 

I follow Felix the Huddersfield Cat on Facebook (not sure how I discovered this fan page, truth be told!) and love it. So when this was chosen, I was a little thrilled. And it was a fun read - what I expected. It was fun, gentle, candy floss read. Something you can read on the beach during the summer holidays. There is a few sad moments but it feels very heartwarming. 

I do have some issues with this. Mainly, the writing style. I couldn't gel with it. It was as if the author couldn't decide who they were writing for. For an adult audience (on NetGalley, this is under the category of "General Fiction (Adult)") or for a younger, child friendly audience. At times, the writing felt confusing over target audience. 

But cat lovers and fans of Felix will love reading this on a train with their cup of coffee on their morning commute. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Goodbye Days Playlist

Welcome to your second stop on the Goodbye Days tour! Yes, it's my stop today! And am thrilled to be involved (The Serpent King was a gripping debut and I can't wait for you guys to get involved in this book!).

ANYWAY, If you are not aware of what Goodbye Days is about, a quick overview (keeping spoilers to a min, of course). As Carver waited for his three friends to pick him up to go for a drive, he sends a text. The next thing he knows, their car has crashed, all of his friends are dead and there are people - himself included - who blame him for their deaths. If only he didn't send that text...

Then, one of his friends's grandmother ask Carver to take part in a "goodbye day" together, doing things that his friend loved. Soon, the other families want to hold goodbye days. But not everyone wants to forgive and with Carver's own grief and despair threatening to drown him, are these goodbye days helping people cope or doing more harm than good?

As you know with this tour, Jeff Zenter is giving us each a song from his Goodbye Days playlist and a tiny write-up on why this song is important. In exchange, we were asked to write our thoughts on the book or what we would do if we spent a goodbye day with a loved one.

Before I show you today's music choice, I would just like to say thank you to Jeff for finding time to writing this and making me discover a new song (always on the hunt for new music) and for Harriet at Andersen Press for asking if I wanted to be involved in this tour!

Tomorrow's stop is at Chouett.com so check that out! And now, over to Jeff (and myself!)

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Left Hand Easter Contest

Who's in the mood for a Easter giveaway?

Ok, quick contest time! The lovely Stevie at Gollancz has given me a copy of the newly rejacketed The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin to do a tiny giveaway!

For those who don't know about this book (I didn't till a few months back), this is written by the author of the well-loved Earthsea series and is deemed by many as one of the great science fiction stories. On a planet that is in constant winter, Gently Ai observes its people. They are androgynous - neuter in general but can become either male of female at the peak of their sexual cycle. They seem alien to Gently Ai, but he is slowly pulled into the complex politics of the planet and losses his professional detachment and must cross the ice with a politician who has fallen from favour and been outcast... But what will happen when they get to the other side...

Intrigued? Well, I have one copy to giveaway and this contest is a UK only contest (Soon, international readers! I promise I will do an international contest soon!). This contest will close on Easter Monday at 5pm and will be chosen at random by random.org! Will Announce winner via Twitter and will be email them for their address so the publisher can send it directly to you (no middle person [aka me!]).

To those of you entering, good luck. And may the odds be in your favour!

Book Review - Noah Can't Even

I have to make a quick statement before I go any further: I don't like cringe. You know what I mean: those moments that make you cringe. Like watching a TV talent show and having someone on who believes that they really have talent in that field but they don't. Or watching a hidden camera prank show and one of the hosts having to do something as a punishment (not all but a few). Yeah, I can't do cringe well. This is why I haven't (nor probably will never) watch The Inbetweeners. If I can make it through an episode of X Factor or that episode of Friends that make me want to claw my ears off, how am I going to survive The Inbetweeners?!

I state this now because this book has moments of cringe in it. I mean, the cover is a clue (the cover is ace, by the way!) Well, for me, it has moments of cringe. Where I would have to put the book down and leave it alone for a few moment while I go "WHY?!" at it. This isn't a bad thing but still...

Anyway, now I have that out of the way, let me chat about this book. Now, since I first heard of this book back in January at Scholastic's Blogger Event, I have been quite keen to read this. It sounded like fun. I sensed there might be moments I will dislike or go "Well, this is very Hollyoaks for my tastes, but it looks like a laugh". So, of course, when it appear in my letterbox due to Scholastic sending me a copy, I jumped at it without much thought.

Noah is having a bad few years. His dad's disappeared. His mum is a total embarrassment. His gran is suffering from dementia and isn't always there. He has only real friend - Harry. School's hell. But life might be on the up when he strikes up a friendship with Sophie and she invites him and Harry to a party. This is perfect, right?

But the party takes a turn when Harry kisses Noah. What does that mean? From there, things just keep going downhill.

I have to admit this, I am writing this a good week after I have finished this and posting this a few days later so my memory of this book is shot (this is why I write these posts within 24 hours after finishing the book)!

And while I did cringe OH SO MANY TIMES and wanted to grab Noah and shake some sense into him, I did enjoy it. I wouldn't say it was a fun read for me as, at times, it reminded me a little too much of me in my teens. Maybe this is why Noah grated on me at times - because he did things that I could have easily done myself in my youth (though, never to the extreme Noah did!).

At times, this did feel very Hollyoaks. I know some of you guys like Hollyoaks so that's not a bad thing. But at times, was a little overwhelmed with some of the stories that was thrown at Noah. Or maybe it was how Noah reacted to them that felt overwhelming.

I feel like am being mean about this book. I did like this book! Honest! I like Noah's Gran - possibly my fave character, truth be told. She gives Noah a lot of good advice and gave the book an edge of humour (I nearly choked on my cup of tea when reading one section, which was lovely and tender, Gran shouts the word "HERPES!"). And I like Harry and Sophie. They're characters I wanted to spend more time with and hopefully, we do in the next book. Plus, I liked the last 100 or so pages. It tied everything up nicely but gave character development to Noah and this helped me warm to him HUGELY! Plus, these 100 pages give room and new ideas for the sequel (yes, there is a sequel).

Now, not everyone is going to like this. This isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. This coming-of-age/coming out story is madcap, awkward, cringey, yet oddly charming. And I kinda want the sequel. If, for no other reason, just to shout "Just kiss, you morons!" at certain unnamed characters...

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Hype Monster (But Let's Call It Colin)

As you guys know if you have followed me for the past few months, one of my most high anticipated reads of 2017 is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Ever since I heard that Walker Books were going to publish this, I have been excited to read it. I've been HUGELY open about how desperate I have been to read this. Hell, I even talked about this being one of my most anticipated reads for 20167 on the WHSmiths' Blog! So, imagine my delight (and high pitched squee-ing [it's a Hufflepuff term, don't you know!]) when I got a proof of this through the door just before Christmas 2016!

It's not April, just before Easter, the book is out on general sale and I STILL HAVEN'T READ MY PROOF COPY! I HAD THIS BEFORE CHRISTMAS AND I STILL HAVEN'T READ IT!

"Why?" I hear you ask. "You've been so excited to read this. Why haven't you?"

Because of one main reason. The Hype Monster that lives inside my head (There is the Other Hype Monster - The the word of mouth one. But let's not take about them today). And, for the sake of this blogpost (and to make myself seem quirky), we're going to call Colin (it was going to be called Steve, but I have a Dementor Funko Pop which I call Steve so that would be weird).

As you know, I have been excited to read The Hate U Give since I first heard of it. That's been over a year or so ago. I have had a over a year for Colin to work on overtime to hype it up in my head. So now, I have the book. But I now have this huge, UNNATURALLY BIG expectation for this book to be beyond brilliant. And I am terrified that, because of Colin, this won't happen.

And I do this ALL THE TIME! That's why I haven't read Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman yet (even though had it on my kindle for nearly 4 years now!). That's why I haven't read The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon yet. That's why I haven't gone anyway near a good chuck of my To Be Read shelves in physical and eBook form. Colin has, without realising it, ruined my enjoyment of these stories.

And it's not books he's done this with. TV shows, movies, music, theatre, places, people. And we all have a Colin in our heads. We all hype something up to such a point, we damage the thing in question. A good example is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Now, I loved seeing it in the West End, but reading it... oh man, reading it was just... LET'S NOT GO THERE!!!

But now, I have a problem. How do I not let Colin go out of control and hype something so much that am too fearful to go near? And the answer to that is... I have no idea. I will always hype things up. Not on purpose, but I will. I can't start that.

So, how can I get over "The Hype Fear"? Again, no idea. I can either just dive right in into whatever I have hyped up. Or I can let some time pass before I go in. The latter is what I normally do. Sometimes, distance does the world of good. And other times, dive right in and to heck with the consequence is just as good (hence why some of the books in question are opinions on my Twitter polls for the next few weeks - if you vote for me to read it, I can't exactly go "I can't. Colin" now, can I?)

I know this isn't a normal blog post of mine, but I wanted to type this up so, if you have the Hype Monster in your head, working overtime over something (and the people around you are making Colin work overtime - that does happen and sometimes, this is a good thing. Other times, not so much [Throne of Glass is a good example for me]), YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Maybe we should band together, form a group where we can go "Oh no! Colin's done that to you too!" and then, find ways to overcome it together...

Ok, I have nowhere else to go with this post. Don't let the hype get you down. And don't let the Colin in your head get you down and ruin your enjoyment.

Friday, 7 April 2017

NetGalley Declined - You Voted For This Post


You voted for this. I thought you would really want me to talk about Disney - you surprised me! 

Now, I've done this before. Twice in fact. One back in 2015 (TA-DAH!) and another last year (TA-DAH!). With this, I might only show three or four (I know, am cheating you guys. You want to see a LOT more), but I want you guys to see that I am trying to push myself to reading more widely and more bravely, within reason.

So, here are my recent(ish) declined request from NetGalley. And if you have read any of these and you think I would like, let me know! Am curious on your thoughts of these five!

A CROWN OF WISHES by Roshani Chokshi
(St Martin Press - Goodreads Link)
I blame you, dear book bloggers pals who are reading this. You know who you are. You all who told me to read Roshani Chokshi's A Star-Touched Queen. I couldn't get Star-Touched Queen anyway (well, not everywhere. Internet, but the SHIPPING!!!). Then, I saw this on NetGalley and requested without a second thought. You all loved the first book and this was a companion book, not a sequel. BONUS! Plus, LOOK AT THAT COVER! LOOK AT THE GREEN AND PURPLE!!! Now, this is here because I was declined - only for me to discover a few days later that Star-Touched Queen was on Kindle. So that's awaiting my attention - all I know (and I might be wrong here so forgive me if I am) is that it's twisting a well known Greek myth but setting it in a mystical Indian setting. HERE, TAKE MY MONEY!!!


THE BONE WITCH by Rin Chupeco
(Sourcebooks Fire - Goodreads Link)
It was the cover with The Bone Witch. I mean, LOOK AT IT! Aren't it beautiful? I didn't read the synopsis when I requested it. But then I did and I hoped that I would be approved. It just ticked all my boxes. Plus, I have read some of the reviews and I knew this would be for me! Now, I have been declined and I am intrigued to read this as it is getting mixed reactions and I, weirdly, like trying to read this kinda books. I know, I'm weird!

AT ATTENTION by Annabeth Albert
(Carina Press - Goodreads Link)
Like I said earlier or if you ask me, I like it when book bloggers/vloggers push themselves into trying new genres and I, at times, feel we should all do this. And with NetGalley, I feel a little brave in requesting books out that are outside my comfort zone. What's the worse that coudl happen? They decline me (I wish more would. Have you not seen my NetGalley TBR, publishers?!) So, trying this out was a bit of a no-brainer. An adult gay novel set in the army. I don't really read much LGBT novels - well, I read a lot of YA LGBT books where the character comes out, but not afterwards. And that is what I want to read. Plus, I have read a novella by this author so I wanted to see what a novel by her would be like... Not sure if I will read something else by her (so many other books to read!), but it's nice every now and then to push myself and try something new, right?


BLACK WIDOW: RED VENGEANCE by Margaret Stohl
(Marvel Press - Goodreads Link)
This was an impulse for me. I was approved to read the Black Widow novel and I decided, for a reason I'm not 100% certain on (as I never do this!), to read them back-to-back. Black Widow is a badass and, while I am not a graphic novel reader (coming into Marvel via films and TV), I wanted to know more about her and her life before she joined SHEILD. I got declined to this and, once I realised this, I decide to try and read Black Widow. I barely made it past the first 3 chapters. I just couldn't click with the writing. I'm not giving up with Marvel novels, but am going to hold off... maybe if you guys think of a graphic novel I would adore, that might be a good way to enter.

SARAH by JT LeRoy
(Corsair - Goodreads Link)
Am going to be utterly truthful here: I have absolutely no idea why I requested this. None whatsoever! It's very grown-up and I sense I requested this because the cover caught my eye. But I don't think I would have liked reading this. Maybe it would have surprised me, but it seems a tad too dark for my taste now that I read the synopsis. Plus, with what I have read about the author, probably best I didn't read this...

And there we are. This was weirdly fun. I should do more polls about what I write for the blog (and as you will see in the next few weeks, I will be doing more polls on Twitter [also Facebook and Instagram] for reasons I will explain a little later...) so keep your eyes peeled!