Friday, 7 June 2013

GoodRead - The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs!

The lovely Hannah at Walker Books sent a few of us book bloggers the Walker Books Catalogue for the Summer months and as soon as I saw this (or did I hear two bloggers - @MattLibrarian & another I can't remember), I KNEW I had to read it.


A group of dino friends try and answer the those important questions: can you fly to the moon in a bubble of snort? Can you really have a conversion with a cloud? Are there such things as bogey monsters?

I'm not sure how to review this as... well... it's a "comic strip" book about dinosaurs! And there are bogeies, snot, poo, and sweet moments about friendship and parents.

I read this while in bed, in one sitting. And I was sniggering. It's a silly yet utterly charming comic strip book and I think some kids out there will be howling with laughter.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

GoodRead - Breathless

I am pretty certain some of you guys will have a go at me. "HOW CAN YOU READ THIS WITHOUT READING THE OTHER BOOKS/ENOVELLAS IN THE SERIES?!" Well... because this one grabbed me. I have Storm on my Kindle, awaiting my reading time, and I have read the prequel eNovella to that, Elemental (review here for your lovely people's pleasure). Plus, I have a habit to jumping, haven't I? You should know this about me. Plus, I don't think there's anything really spoilery in this eNovella so I thought I could risk it.

Nick Merrick is meant to be the level headed brother. All his brothers are Elementals - each can control one element - and with all of them being a little hot-headed, he has to be the peacemaker. Expect one night where his problems can no longer make him quiet. His girlfriend, Quinn, has gone from daring to reckless and Quinn's new dance partner, Adam, makes Nick face something he's being trying to hide and not think about for... well, for a very long time. 

I really enjoyed this eNovella. I did. I sped through it and really enjoyed reading about Nick who, according to some of you guys on Goodreads, see him as the most quiet and often outshone by his brothers. Plus, this gives us the perfect chance to actually hear him speak as the forth book in the series, Siege, will be following Nick's point of view. This eNovella might be hinting little clues to the next book in the series, Spirit (or there will be little titbits that the readers who have read the eNovella will see and get whereas those who haven't will miss). 

I wish it was longer. I know that sounds odd for someone who has only read the eNovellas by this author, but I could so easily spent more time with Nick, Quinn and Adam. Their stories were interesting and not very typical YA storylines. So, yeah, I might be jumping ahead in the series and read Siege when that comes out (might even join NetGalley to read it, if I am that desperate for it!). 

But, to those of you who are fans of the series, you might want to read this. And I promise that I will try and read Storm in the next few months. I WILL TRY! 

PS - about a month before the eNovella was released (I preordered this, DON'T JUDGE ME!), I tweeted that I think I found some songs that might fit the story ("Lie To Me" and "You, Now" by Greg Laswell). And, guess what? GREG LASWELL TWEETED ME BACK! I know that means nothing to some of you guys but I ADORE Greg's music! And here's the proof (and yes, I Favorited it even though he tweeted two words to me. I am that sad!) 

PPS - soon after reading and writing up this review, I joined NetGalley (a site where publishers can send e-versions of ARCs to reviews) and one of the first books I received was the third book in the Elementals series, Spirit. So, you're going to get a review on that soon...!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

GoodRead - Dead Silence

As you guys are probably aware if you have followed the blog in the past few months/years, I am a bit of a fan of the Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting. So, when the lovely Sam from Headline asked if there were people who wanted a copy and another blogger pal of mine (who is a fan of the series) Leanne from Daisy Chain Book Reviews popped me out and I was very kindly offered a copy of the fourth and possibly final book in the Body Finder series, Dead Silence.

Violet has a morbid gift. She can see echoes. It could be a smell, a sound, a sight. But she see them. And these echoes stay on the victim... and the murderer. But after the horrifying events of the previous book, The Last Echo (review here), Violet now has her own imprint. And she's forced/blackmailed to stay within the special investigative team, when all she wants is to ignore the horrors and lead a normal life with her boyfriend, Jay.

Expect, she stumbles onto a horrible murder scene. A family slaughtered, a daughter missing and a disturbing calling card from the murderer. Against her wishes, she's pulled into an investigation and soon, without even realising it, someone's life goes on the line. Someone very close to Violet. The question is: will they survive?

Now, after the shocking and tense The Last Echo, you expect Kimberly to shock us to our core with scenes of horror. And, actually, she doesn't. Kimberly turns the book series on its head. While we still have creepy factor and those chapters told from the killer's point of view (Kimberly writes these chapters still and she knows how to write her baddies!), Kimberly made this book the most personal to Violet. Violet is recovering from her ordeal of the Girlfriend Collector so she see her coping. And we see her discovering and reading her grandmother's journal who also had Violet's gift.

And this just works. We needed this. If Kimberly did another serial killer, I bet we would go "She's doing this AGAIN!" but this doesn't get that reaction. I read it and, while I wanted to know what happened to the family, I got caught up with Violet rediscovering her grandmother. That was what hooked me in this book. The personal journey Violet went on. From victim to someone who was going to rush into danger to save a life. That's the Violet we know and love!

Now, in the last review, I talked about the lack of Jay and the overuse of Rafe (I know some of you guys are Rafe shippers *eyes Emma from Book Angel Booktopia*). But Kimberly wrote a nice balance of both characters so she pleased all the Jay and Rafe fans. And yes, we have kissing. And a shirt-related scene with one of those characters (which is funny because last year, when Kimberly was in the UK [I can't find if I blogged it or not], she joked that she had written that scene then read a review on Goodreads, DEMANDING a shirtless Jay... but does this reviewer get her wish? That is the question...)

But yes, I really enjoyed this book and I really enjoyed this series. Now, seeing as I'm not sure if this is the last book in the series (is it? I kinda want one more. Please Kimberly!), this means I can tackle Kimberly's other series, The Pledge, and with news that she going to be writing a new series, The Taking (read her news here). But... yeah, I love this series and I want one more book. Please, Kimberly. Just one more...

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

GoodRead - The Night Itself

I have to let you guys into a secret. Earlier in the year (late March, early April), I (along with a few other very lucky book bloggers) received a very early and very exclusive ARC from Hannah from Walker Books. She asked, nicely but firmly, to keep this book a secret till we were given the OK to share. A month later, she said "Ok, share. But no reviews". And we did. And now, if you are reading this, she's given the OK to share our thoughts with you guys.

And that book was The Night Itself, the first book in Zoe Marriott's new trilogy, The Name of the Blade. And I read it within days of me receiving it. 

I know. I am THAT bad a person. 

So, the book. When Mio steals her late grandfather's katana - a priceless sword that is meant to be keep hidden at all times - all she was doing was livening up her fancy dress costume. Not unleash an ancient evil, determined to get it from her at all cost, onto modern day London! And now, not only has Mio started to be stalked from creatures from mythical Japanese myths, she somehow unleashed a mysterious warrior that wants to save her and keep her safe. But Mio has to figure it out. Figure out the katana's strange powers. But lives are on the line, and she seems to be only one worthy enough to save them... 

Am going to get straight to the point on this: I ADORE THIS BOOK! 

I just fell for it, hook line and sinker. I kinda guess I would but I didn't expect I would so quickly and get so addictive over it till I did. There was one point I took this book out to my local coffee shop with my other half (he had his iPad). I got so sucked into the chapter I was reading, I didn't hear him ask me the same question several times before he had to poke me in the arm. That was how absorbed I was in this book and I don't think I've had that feeling with a book for quite a while. To vanish from the world. 

As I read this back in April and several months have passed, I can't remember if I had any issues with this book, but OH! The Questions! I have questions which I hope will be answered in the next two books in the trilogy. And AT LAST, we see characters that the author didn't have to spell out the sexuality or skin ethnicity. She didn't have to use a sledgehammer and drum the point home! She treated her readers with respect and for that, Zoe, I thank you. 

I thought while read it back in April (and still do now) that if you are a fan of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments and/or Infernal Devices series, that you might want to check this book out. Just... trust me on this, ok?

PS - I'm sorry but whenever Mio thought of her katana as "Mine", I always imagined Gollum saying it in my head. Preciousssss.... 

Monday, 3 June 2013

So... Why Don't We Take Children's Books Seriously?

Earlier today, outgoing Children Laureate Julia Donaldson (author of The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom) asked a question in the Telegraph: "Why don't we take Children's Literature seriously in the UK?" (for those of you who want to read the article, here's the link). So, after reading this earlier today and thinking it over, I wish I can say I know the answer. Why does German newspaper promote a two-page spread in newspapers, promoting a new kids book? Why is it when a journalist in the New York Times say that YA books were too dark, the internet exploded using the hashtag #YASaves, spearheaded by US author, Maureen Johnson? Why don't we, the United Kingdom, take children's literature seriously?

I think the answer comes from a quote British author, Philip Pullman, said in a BBC documentary "Harry Potter and Me", which was aired on UK TV in late 2001, which talked to JK Rowling about her life and Harry Potter (the quote is taken from Accio Quote!):

One mistake that adults used to make about children's books, is to think that children's books deal with trivial things. Little things that please little minds, and little concerns about little people. And, so, nothing could be further from the truth. Quite the contrary, it's been my observation that a lot of highly praised adult books, or highly successful adult books, in recent years have dealt with the trivial things. Such as "Does my bum look big in this?" or "Will my favorite football team win the cup?" and "Oh dear, my girlfriend's left me, whatever am I going to do?". Whereas the children's books have dealt with ultimate questions: "Where do we come from?," "What's the nature of being a human being?," "What must I do to be good?" These are profound questions, very deeply important questions. And they're being dealt with. Largely, not in the books that adults read, but in the books that children read.

And this is the problem, in my opinion. The attitude that children's books are little things to please little minds.

Book sales have decreased in the past years, baring ebooks and children's book (for the sack of this blogpost, I am including YA and New Adult into this bracket and the broadest sense). So why the industry has promoted eBooks and eReaders but not children's books?

Before I go any further, I am NOT saying the publishers are at fault here. I'm not. It is an attitude that we ALL have. This is what we need to change: people's attitude to children's literature and, in some people's cases, change their whole attitude to literature in general.

So how do we that? Simple answer: I have no idea. We can suggest ideas and theories till we are blue in the face, but we can't. I have ideas and theories, which I am going to talk quickly about, but I feel I have to say the following: to change an attitude isn't a quick fix. We can't click our fingers or wave a magic wand and BAM!, the attitude has changed. It won't happen over night. It will take time. It couldn't months, year, decades, a lifetime to change to attitude.

So, what ideas could I throw at you? If I'm honest, most of these are going to be crap, but I am going to said them so, at least, we can start the discussion about this and figure this out together.

1. Nurseries and Primary Schools: Before all you teachers out there get furious and march to my house, I love and respect you. And with everything you are currently doing plus what the Education Secretary is doing, the last thing you guys probably want is some blogger who thinks he knows better than you to say "you're not doing either". You are doing MORE than enough. I know your jobs are stressful and some/most of you are pushed to your limit, but to change an attitude, you have to start young. You have to show children that books are fun and exciting and that children's books are just as valuable as adult books. What if once a week, a class gets together for a readalong or a class has quiet time where the child reads quietly to themselves.

2. Parents Reading: I know parents are stressed and, sometimes, you have very little time to sit down with your child. But there are reports out there (which I can not find) that say doing this is not only good for the children but good for the parent? If you spend five or ten minutes with a child, reading out loud, this couldn't not only change the child's attitude but your own.

But both of these don't change the attitude we have now. That's the seed that changes it in years to come. What about now?

This leads me to this: THE MEDIA. That's right. The Media. And, to make it easier, am going to focus on four areas in Media: TV, Radio, Movies and Internet.

Ok, think of all the TV and Radio adaptions of books. All book adaptions for the television. Right, think of only the children adaptions. Now, tell me, apart from at Christmas and Easter, when have you watched an adaption based on children's book? Hardly never. And shows where someone is reading out loud is on preschool shows or channels are part of "The Bedtime Hour", which is meant to help children get ready for bed.

Also with TV and radio, how many shows are there about reading? Only a handful and, even then, the readers are reading/review adult novels. Not children, but only adult. Again, this is the same with book awards. Not just children book awards, but adult as well. How many of these are aired on British TV? How many of these are aired on mainstream channels? And at primetime viewing? if you can't think of any, this proves my point.

A few years ago, there was a surge of book groups forming because of TV hosts Richard Madeley and Judy  Finnigan. On their Channel 4 teatime show, they formed a book group. This became unexpectedly successful. The pair have continued their book club when they did a show on the channel Watch and afterwards when they joined forces with bookseller, WHSmiths. This is still happening. They even started, when they joined forced with WHSmiths, a children's book club. This got little to no publicity.

Movies are more fair. There has been a upsurge of adaptions lately taken from books, both from YA and adult. But, is it my imagination or don't they tell you it's based on a book in the trailer? It feels rare sometimes, when you watch a movie trailer, you see the words "BASED ON THE BESTSELLER NOVEL BY [INSERT AUTHOR'S NAME HERE]". It's happening more and more now, compared to a few years ago, but you still have to hunt round to discover if a movie is based on a book.

The Internet... my, you are wonderful. The internet has changed everything. You have reviews on bookseller's website, there are blogs dedicated to children's books and reviewing them, vlogs, podcasts and webcasts, Facebook and Twitter, websites dedicated to fandoms of book series like Harry Potter, Twilight and other book series out there. But, unless you are a fan of a book, you won't know of these. You have to go hunting for them.

So, you may say, what is needed is publicity to put it in the public eye? And that's true. Why can't a topical show such as This Morning or The One Show do a book club and, once a month, have a show dedicated to that month's book, regardless if the book is classed as children or adult? Why can't book awards events (like The Man Booker Prize, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Blue Peter Book Awards, etc) be aired at primetime like Channel 4 airs the Turner Prize? Why doesn't BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4 have shows where children's books are talked about, reviewed and reading promoted? Why can't local radio stations have shows where local authors, publishers, reviewers (ranging from "real" reviewers to people who blog and vlog reviews) and the general public come and talk about books? Why can't a "Book Doctor" be on TV/radio/internet and answer questions from the public that range from "I read this author and love them. What are your recommendations?", "How can I get my teen to read?" to "Is there any good books for a 4 year old about spiders?"?

*takes a deep breath* And we come to the problem I have had: WHY? And HOW? WHY do we have this attitude towards children's books and HOW do we change it? And, if I am completely honest, I have no idea. It's not, like I said before, something we can change overnight. And it's not sometimes we can change on mass. On some level, the attitude we face is personal. But for us to face a attitude we have, sometimes we need a trigger. Sometime we need something for us to realise that we have this attitude/issue/problem/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, and face up to it. And with children's books, there seems to be no trigger at the present moment.

So, what can we do? Do we wait for something to happen? No, of course not. Go to your local library or nearest bookshop and LOOK at all the children's book (again, I use children in the broadest sense to include YA books and New Adult fiction). And, maybe, if we do this, if we stop and spend time with them, this will slowly cause a snowball effect which means children's books could get the same publicity as its adult counterpart. In some people's cause, you do this now. In others, they might need a TV show to say "We're going to be talking about this book..." to make people treat children's literature in the same way as adult literature.

My thoughts as I try to figure out a way to end this post: keep reading. Enjoy reading what you love reading and don't let anyone tell you differently.

SMILE - I Knew I Loved Belle For A Reason!


My thanks to Pinterest! How could I not after this pic?! 

Saturday, 1 June 2013


Well... as you asked so nicely (and RSM was only going to last for the month of May), I'M BACK! Did you miss me? I missed -

Oh... oh, ok. That's fine. I can handle that... Sort of... kinda. So, while I had my time out of the world of blogging, I have been reading so next months, I'm afraid, will be FILLED with book reviews. And as I written this back in April, I hope it will be a wide and mix of genres and age ranges (well, that's he plan as June will have a mix of books I have read from April, May and June so... BOOK REVIEWS GALORE!)

So, celebrate the month of nuts book reviews! I promise there will be something that you should/hopefully will LOVE! 

And the break actually did the world of good. I am attacking the blog with more fun and silliness with books so the happy blog is going to stay that. Happy. And silly. As happy and silly as this fine being:

And I promise that I will not leave you for so long. I might take a week/maybe two weeks break in October (I have a holiday booked) so get the sobs out of your system now (like this lovely woman is)...

...and I can now get back into the blogging groove. So, my dear blog-readers, shall we begin?