Thursday, 31 October 2013

GoodRead - The Authoritative Calvin & Hobbes

Here is my antidote for all the scary Halloween reads. Oh yeah, I'm a real rebel (note the gentle sarcasm in those words). Anyway, this was super cheap on Amazon (1p plus £2.80 P&P) hence me buying it and talking about it now.

So, as you are aware if you have read my previous Calvin and Hobbes reviews (It's A Magical World and The Essential Calvin and Hobbes), I fully blame Laura from SisterSpooky for introducing me to these characters so BLAME HER, FOLKS!

Calvin and Hobbes: your average six year old boy and his best friend in the whole wide world, his toy tiger, trying to make sense of the world around him by asking the big questions: "Why are we here?", "Are we destroying the planet?", "How does one survive camping when it rains NON STOP?" and taking the mickey out of politics, sports, and life in general.

I liked this collection (for those of you wondering, this omnibus contains Yukon Ho! and Weirdos from Another Planet). There were things I sniggered, went "awww!" and remembered what it was like to be that age (I shudder to think what my family would say about me at that age) while getting the humour Bill gave Calvin's parents.

But I didn't love it. And I have NO IDEA WHY!!! I think it's because I adore It's A Magical World and The Essential Calvin and Hobbes so much that it was going to be really hard for this book to match up to them.

But I think anyone would read this and love it. Well, if you read any Calvin and Hobbes, I think you will fall under its spell. This is wonderful cartoon series and I dare anyone to not fall in love with these characters. Now, I WANT A TOY TIGER!!!

Now, here is a random strip I know is in the edition, just to wet your appetite. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Books And Their Theme Songs - Volume 20

Everyone ready for the ghost and ghouls? If you're not, you're in the same boat as me (I get freaked out easily) so here, to hopefully lessen the blow, here is the 20th edition of Books and Their Theme Songs, covering the months of September and October! ENJOY!

MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness
"Maybe" by Kelly Clarkson

"5am" by Katy B

TAINTED by AE Rought
"You Will Be Mine" by Lenka, "My Blood" & "Dead In The Water" by Ellie Goulding

OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L. Armentrout
"Magnetic" by Jessie J

Friday, 25 October 2013

Hot Key Books/Templar Books/Piccadilly Press Book Brunch

So, the Saturday just gone (while I was in my Mini-RSM), I went to Hot Key Books HQ went Hot Key Books with fellow publishers, Templar Books and Piccadilly Press did a joint book brunch. And after a week away at Disneyland and me deciding (in my wise wisdom) to walk there from my train station and getting lost (thanks iPhone Maps!), I feared I would be in the corner of the office, either panting furiously or about to fall asleep. But I stayed away and drooled over the books that all three publishers showcased! You guys will find something you enjoy reading. That is my honest opinion.

So, to all the other book bloggers and vloggers I chatted to (or briefly said hi to), WAS GREAT CHATTING TO YOU GUYS! It was very much a quick catch up! To all the publishers, THANK YOU for setting this up and chatting to all of us with our question/excitement! And with all the authors, THANK YOU for chatting to us about your books, writing tips, writing twisted deaths and writing kissing in different and exciting ways!

So, let me quickly go through some books I am HUGELY excited to read!

TRIBUTE by Ellen Renner (March 2014 - Hot Key Books)
This was one of those books that I (and several bloggers around me) instantly went "I HAVE to read this!". This world tackles dark issues - death, power, corruption, society - but it's been a while since I read a "magical" world that tackles these themes and tackle them well. In this, the first of two books (a duology, right?), we're in a dark world where magic is power, technology is banned and you can be killed if you know how to read. After a shocking death of a friend, Zara vows revenge and begins to spy for the rebel Knowledge Seekers. But when Zara meets the hostage Aiden, Zara is determined to save him... but can she save her?

BOMBMAKER by Claire McFall (February 2014 - Templar)
I still haven't read Ferryman and I have EVERY intention to read it but Bombmaker will be read first as this sounds awesome. This tackles issues such as terrorism and national identity. In the near future, the recession has hit the United Kingdom hard. So much so that the English government close their borders to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Any person from these countries found in England will be branded, and if they are found in England a second time, they will be shot on sight. Lizzie is Scottish, branded and was almost shot till gang boss Alexander "saves" her and makes her his possession. As a twisted freedom fighter, trying to reunite Great Britian, he forces Lizzie to become his bombmaker. Can Lizzie escape and, if she does, at what price?

ALL THE TRUTH'S THAT'S IN ME by Julie Berry (Out Now - Templar)
This is causing HUGE WAVES in the BookTube Community in the US! HUGE! Plus, this book is written in the rare second-person (aka "You walk through the field", etc). The book follows Judith, who after being missing for two years, returns home. Only she's not the same girl she was before she disappeared. Her tongue has been cut out and her best friend is dead. With no way to tell what happen to her, she silently pours her heart out to a boy who owns her heart...

FIREWALLERS by Simon Packham (Out Now - Piccadilly Press)
This was released earlier in the year (but it got a little lost under the news that Piccadilly Press was bought by Bonnier Publisher [the same people who own Hot Key Books, Templar Publishing & Red Lemon Books]) hence it coming into my radar now. It sounds very thriller and I love reading thrillers! Jess returns home from a bad day of school, to find her dad suspended from work, the media's outside her house and her dad is in hiding. Her mum drags Jess and her sister into hiding where modern technology is forbidden! But what did Jess's dad do? And why is the whole family on the run?

HOLD YOUR BREATH by Caroline Green (Out Now - Piccadilly Press)
Dark and twisted. Basically how I like my reads, and this fits perfectly! Tara has a gift to find lost things. But the last time she used this gift to help the Police, it ends badly and this leads to Tara to doubt her gift. But events take a dark turn when she picks up an earring and see's its owner, trapped in a basement. Can Tara trust her gift and save the girl? (You can see why I love the sounds of this!)

IRRESISTIBLE by Liz Banks (Out Now - Piccadilly Press)
I know most of you guys will reacting either "This has been out for AGES! Take about Unstoppable!" or "This is romance! You HATE romance!" and, I know, this isn't up my street normally, but this sounds really interesting and I want to read something fast. Mia's summer job is hard-work, but fun, especially when a romance develops between her and the hunky Dan. But Mia can't help but be drawn to Jamie - sexy, rich and who happens to love messing people's lives. (But out of the three of Liz Banks, the one I am the most intrigued to read is her second, Undeniable...)

THE MADNESS by Alison Rattle (March 2014 - Hot Key Books)
Another Victorian thriller from the pen of Alison Rattle and we enter the world of being a "dipper". Marnie is a dipper in training. Her life is dull until she meets the charming, handsome and a son to a Lord, Noah. But Marnie feels for him begins to consume her and turns into an dangerous obsession that can only end in tragedy. This was described to us as "Teen Victorian Fatal Attraction."

And am going to stop here but I could go on for ages over this. And this post took under two hours to write so... what do you think? Are they any books that wet your appetite?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

GoodRead - Obsidian

I had this lurking on my kindle for a while. Everyone who has read this in the book blogging/vlogging community who have read this has RAVED over this series and, of course, after the last few reads (thanks Lake Thirteen for making me go near a "reading slump"), and because I was going out of the country, I decided to take my kindle and, after looking over several books, I decided on Obsidian.

Katy runs a book blog (geez, I wonder why all us book bloggers love this series...) and when her mom moves her to West Virginia, Katy just resigns herself to her new boring fate until she meets her hot next door neighbour. That is, until he opens his mouth. Daemon Black is arrogant, cocky, self-absorbed. It's hate at first sight. So when Katy gets attacked into a car park and Daemon saves her, Katy realises that there's something weird about Daemon and his twin sister, Dee. Something otherworldly. And Katy wants to find out. That is if she doesn't stab Daemon first...

Ok, am going to say something that will make half of you guys run away from the hills from this book and this series and the other half of you go "Ok, this sounds like my cup of tea". But, here it is: This feels very Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.


I think, with any paranormal YA novels, you'll find similar between the book and Twilight. This is the same with all those magic books and compare it to Harry Potter or any dystopian novel can be compare to The Hunger Games. It's because they fit into the genre. If they come under the same umbrella and you are determined to find links, you will. For example, once I started comparing Twilight to Obsidian, I kept going "Oh, Katy is Bella, Daemon is Edward, Dee is Alice, Ash is Rosalie, etc".

And this can be annoying to a reader. So, maybe we should stop doing this.

Anyway, the story. It was fun read and I enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed that this wasn't a typical YA read. Katy and Daemon are strongly attracted to each other and yet they hate each other. It's not instant-love. It's Lust At First Sight! Do you know how refreshing this is? And how it ended was, again, refreshing as it wasn't what the reader would expect and will make reading the next book in the series, Onyx, very interesting as this is new territory.

And the snarky one liners! THANK YOU! I love Katy's and Daemon's relationship and you saw it through their snarky back-and-forth and this was refreshing and great! It felt like two teenagers bickering that we was great! Plus, there are things that Jennifer chats about in Obsidian that happens in other books and puts them right. For example, Katy wakes up to find her best friend, Dee, watching her sleep. Katy's instant reaction: "That's creepy! STOP IT!"

This has potential. I can see this series becoming a very addictive series, but this is the first book in the series so this was laying down the foundations. The real proof will be in reading the second book in the series or the eNovella prequel, Shadows. I was told to read Shadows after Obsidian by fellow book bloggers so am going to attack that in a week or two and my love for the Lux might be kicked up a gear but, yes, this series could be one interesting read (and with the film rights of this book being bought), so if this interests you, go for it!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mini RSM - I'm Back!

I'm back from my little wee break! Did you miss me? I hope so! I had a lovely week and a bit break from the blog. I went to Disneyland Paris with my other half (I hugged Pluto and got a photo with the Evil Queen, who on several occasions, I almost called Regina TO HER FACE! Me think this would have been her reaction if I said that...)

And before that, very early one Monday morning, I dragged him to King's Cross and got a photo taken at Platform 9 3/4. So, this holiday has been my

 holiday. So, hopefully, am back, refresh and ready to scare and take on the blogsphere. But I fear my attempt at this will be a bit like this:

So come! Join the madness! I promise I will try and be fun and read fun books! HONEST!!!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Mini RSM

Surprise! Now, I did warn you that I might do this months ago that I might do another RSM so here I am, announcing that I am taking a week-ish off! Now, you are probably reacting like this:

Whereas most of you are probably really reacting like:

Now, the reason for this mini-break is because I'm going away with my other half. So, for the next few days, you guys won't have my hyper self for a while (feel sorry for my other half).

And because I'll be away, this might mean I won't be doing as much reading as normal. Which means, I will probably be like this for a good few hours:

But I won't be away long. Only a few days. You won't miss me. Much. I hope. And anyway:

And just to make the week away easier, here's a picture of a book-loving cat:

So, until we blog again...

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Marcus Sedgwick Talks Music

I am thrilled that Marcus Sedgwick, author of Midwinterblood and his new novel She Is Not Invisible, has taken time out of his very busy schedule to write this quick post! Thank you Marcus (and thank you Nina at Indigo for setting this up!). So, with all the thank yous out of the way, let me hand it over to Marcus!

It was suggested that I write a post about the musical influences behind my new book, She Is Not Invisible, and this is a great suggestion, not only because I love music, but also because every book I’ve written has had music either hidden in it or proudly displayed in it. In my eleventh novel, White Crow, for example, I was even able to create a Spotify playlist of the songs that meant everything to Ferelith, the book’s anti-heroine.

But music doesn’t feature in She Is Not Invisible. Neither does sight. That’s because the heroine of the story is a 16-year-old blind girl, called Laureth.

There’s always a sense, when you’re writing a book, that you’re not doing it properly. One of my big hang ups is the sense that I am not describing new characters, places or scenes in general ‘fully’. It’s a kind of tyranny that we’re supposed to work to, to bring a scene ‘to life’ by our accurate description of what the characters are seeing.

Since Laureth has been blind since birth, this question simply never arose in She Is not Invisible. The whole book has to let the sense of sight go completely unused; and here’s the thing I found interesting: only when it was done did I realise that far from finding that limiting, I actually found it liberating. What a joy, for once, to be free to not talk about vision, and maybe dwell on other senses a bit more instead, sense like hearing.

And talking of hearing, music did inspire the book, though indirectly. I had been struggling to write anything for a couple of years; I simply did not know what to do any more, never mind how to do it, and during that time, I read a lot about creativity, and inspiration. I scared myself by reading about composers like Rossini who composed very little for the last thirty years of his life or Sibelius, who composed nothing for the last forty years of his. And then one day I was you tubing and came across this video of an interview and recording session by one of my favourite bands; The Mars Volta. I like this interview for two reasons, first because Cedric is so honest about having a really hard time trying to work out how to sing the song Cotopaxi (which to be fair, is in a really odd time signature), but most of all I like it for Omar describing what it is they do. They go into a recording studio, and they play. Not play as in ‘play music’, but play as in ‘have fun’, play as in ‘not work’.  That’s the key to creativity and hearing this was what finally helped me pick up my laptop again, and start writing a new book, by having fun with writing again.

So this one is for Cedric and Omar J

Thursday, 10 October 2013

#re3 - Sabriel

I am trying to do a hell of a lot more rereads so this is coming back more sooner than I thought (see the answer for question 2 for the reason why) and, today, I am going to talk about my #re3 of Sabriel by Garth Nix. 

So, let's get to it! 

After my last read (the review for that should have gone up earlier in the week and I'm not linking that in this so...), I couldn't seem to settled into a book for several days and I feared that I was falling into a reading slump. Then, the lovely Laure Eve (author of Fearsome Dreamer) suggested that I reread a book that I love yet challenges me. And Sabriel was my first choice.

I loved this book! This came in the gap between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (3 years according to Wikipedia) and this came perfectly. It was dark, gothic yet gripping. I couldn't stop turning to pages and, I loved it so much, I bought the audiobook (read by Tim Curry)!

I am actually surprised how much I remembered and how much I forgot about this book. I remember the basic of the plot and I would remember scenes and lines from the book very well. I remember large amounts (though the entire) of the prologue.

But I forgot details. While I vaguely remember what happened in Chapter 17, I read the whole chapter going "I don't remember this. Or this. Nor this!". Or the children moment in Belisaere - I'm pretty certain I blocked that from my mind.

I LOVE MOGGET! Sorry, but I think he's one of my fave characters!

I'm also surprised over details. Or lack. We get very little detail about Clayr (I know we get loads more in the sequel, Lirael) nor do we get much info about the legendary Wallmakers (again, this is corrected in the third book in the series, Abhorsen [if I remember correctly]) and, when this book was first published, this was meant to be a standalone. But I'm not complaining - from when I read this the first time and now, there's enough information for us to connect the dots.

Yes, I will. To my knowledge, the fourth book in this series - Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen - should be out late next year and I want to reread books 2 and 3 of the series - Lirael and Abhorsen - before then so I have a year to return to these. Which is good as I have completely forgotten what these two books are about!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

GoodRead - Lake Thirteen

I'm not sure what made me request this from NetGalley. I can't honestly remember. I think I read the synopsis and it either made me laugh or I went "we have a gay lead" (something rare, I feel, in YA). So when I was accepted, I knew I wanted to read this near Halloween.

So, now we're in the month of October, it's safe to take about this. So, here we go:

Scotty is dreading this holiday. Every year, his family go on holiday with two other families (friends of his parents). Scotty, who has just come out, is scared of how his friends will react and is worried about leaving his boyfriend behind. So when the five teens decide to make a late night visit to a graveyard close to their cabins, they don't realise that something might awaken and takes an interest in Scotty...

*takes deep breath* I am in going to write the pros to this book first before I go onto the negatives as I have a few and I think you should read the pros first.  It was a fast read (just checked on Amazon, is over 160 pages long) and there were moments in the book that was tense and spooky. And seeing as it is Halloween, spooky is the name of the game.

However, I have faults. There are several faults I have with this book, but it really comes under one umbrella: execution. While the story had interesting potential, the execution wasn't up to scratch. Some of the language used felt "off" and it would grate on me and, because of that, it would throw me out of the story. We, also, have information overload problems.  For example, we spend several pages in chapter one getting to know a character - his name, he's doing an internship with a TV ghost hunting show, his dad runs a TV company, the fact his parents have given him a personal trainer [for reasons Scotty's mom guesses] - and yet, most of this information ISN'T NEEDED! And all this information is in the FIRST CHAPTER! This isn't needed, if it was, then spread it out throughout the entire story. Us readers prefer this rather than one huge info-dump.

And now I come to think of it, I wanna talk quickly about Scotty and him being gay. I want to read more books with gay characters being the main character, being the lead. I think this is needed in YA and in New Adult. But I feel like I never knew Scotty that well, and when I did, all I know about him is that Scotty is gay. That's it. His family and friends tell him throughout the book that him being gay isn't a big deal - but it feels like it does as we're constantly being told that Scotty is gay and it's not a big deal. And with the ghost story, I was reading it as "Scotty is being haunted by a ghost", so why do I get the feeling that it was meant to be "Scotty, the gay teen, is being haunted by a gay ghost"? YOUR SEXUALITY DOESN'T DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON! So why do I feel like the lead in this book was being defined by his sexuality?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this.

Because of all the faults, I feel that if the book was longer, it might not have been a problem. I mean, it's a 160-odd pages long. If there was an extra hundred pages, I could have got character development. I could have got to know the characters and the situation better. Issues that were bought up could have been addressed.

Because of all the faults, I can't enjoy or like this book as much as I want to. Which is a shame as there was potential here.

Monday, 7 October 2013

SMILE - Crookshanks Realises...

I discovered this while trying to Google a good image of Crookshanks. But my thanks goes! You guys rocks! 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

GoodRead - Tainted

I have been holding out writing this review. I know most book blogger pals have been getting ARCs and NetGalley editions a few weeks ago. But I read Tainted before then. You see, I was one of Tainted's beta-readers. Which, basically means, I read it with some other people and we, not only read the story, but see if we can see any mistakes. And I think/fear, out of all the beta-readers, I was probably the worst. When I read a chapter and sent it back to AE Rought, I would ALWAYS have something in red. Whether that was a grammar, a question, a comment of "I like this paragraph" or basically stating "If you kill this character off, I will never forgive you".

So, why am I telling you this: Well, I am reviewing this book from what I read while beta-reading earlier in the year. So, while I am pretty certain the big events in the book have stayed the same, you will have to forgive me if I make a mistake. (Plus, I want a real book version of Tainted so it goes with Broken.)

Alex Franks believe that the madness and horror he and his girlfriend, Emma, faced in Broken is over. He hopes that he could try and live a normal life. Have a girlfriend, have friends, have a life, have the dark secrets of what his father did to him and countless others. Shame he's ex, the criminally brilliant (yet criminally unhinged) Hailey Westmore, doesn't want to let Alex go and is determined to get him back. 

And then something shocking happens that changes everything... 

Ok, I really enjoyed this book. If I didn't, I don't think AE Rought would have asked me to beta-read this. But I enjoyed the changes AE Rought made with this book. While Broken was told from Emma's point of her, Tainted is told from Alex's point of view. While Emma was trying to find out what was going on with Alex in Broken, Alex knew most of the dark secrets in Tainted and, because of this, the reader instantly knows that something's not quite right with this book and when things really hit the fan, Alex and the readers were on the same level with "What the heck!"

I wanna talk one big thing. Very early on within the book, there is about 5 chapters that I read with me going "No. No! NoNoNoNo! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!". It really shocked me as I didn't see these chapters coming so I have to praise AE Rought for not only pulling the twist off but suddenly making the book unpredictable, unsafe and addictive. I had to know what happened next once I got over the shock of these chapters. 

I have only two small negatives and they both come from the ending. AE Rought knows this and has explained why both of these happen. Both of which I get, I do. But one of these negatives is the fate of a character that I loved and the other... well... I can sense some of you guys getting really angry over it. If you've read Cassandra Clare's City of Glass, it's very similar to something that happens in that (and that's all I'm going to say). 

I really enjoyed reading this book. I liked the fact that this was an re-imagining of two classics (one I was told as The Mysterious Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the other is a guess on my part) and I kinda want a sequel, even though I am pretty certain this is a duology (don't hold me to this), and me sending little hints that I want a re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera isn't gonna happen (if it is, that would rock!). But I really enjoy AE Rought's writing and I can't wait to see what she writes next. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Laure Eve Talks Fearsome Dreamer!

I am thrilled that Laure Eve, author of the debut novel, Fearsome Dreamer, is taking over the blog and is chatting about the inspiration behind this new series. The book is out tomorrow in the UK so if this post excites you, please go out and buy it! Now, am going to hand it over to Laure!

The idea for Fearsome Dreamer came out of those dreams you sometimes have that are so vivid when you wake up, there’s a moment, an uncomfortably long moment, where all your senses ferociously believe that the dream is real. Until reality clicks back into place, and your dislocation fades.

Well what if, for some people, that dislocation never goes away? And what if what they dream is real?

The world of Fearsome Dreamer is rooted in alternative history and posits the idea that England, at some point in its history, lost against France and subsequently became part of its empire. War after war took its toll, and after suffering through near genocidal attacks and the dissolution of the French empire, England turned its back on the rest of the world.

The rest of the world moves on, conglomerating into larger and larger cultures, and England is left behind, a tiny island of no importance with something akin to Victorian levels of technology.

From these two very opposite cultures come the main characters, Rue and White. Rue is a very natural creature, attuned to the rhythms of the countryside, drenched in emotion and life. White has grown up surrounded by endless virtual realities and a colourless, pristine environment. He is all control and distance, keeping his feelings locked up and hidden away. Rue has no idea how to lie or to conceal. Everything she is shows on her face and in her body. They are fundamentally very different from each other, and yet share a bond through this strange ability they both have with their dreams, which is known as Talent.

By now you might just begin to notice how I like opposites - opposite cultures, opposite people. Opposite religious beliefs, technology, the natural versus the manufactured. But running through it all, the very human aspects that unite us, no matter what background we come from – ambition and desire, loneliness, obsession, and the need to understand why we are what we are, and what our place in the world is.

One of any writer’s ambitions is to create a story that pulls you in so much it’s like being underwater, the real world muffled and far away. You surface as you finish the last page, and everything comes back in a rush. 

Those are the best stories. If you read Fearsome Dreamer, I sincerely hope you enjoy it. And if you feel like that while you’re reading it, you and I share the same kind of story love, and that is very, very cool.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October And November Plans

Pinch punch, first day of the month!

I have been thinking about if I should write this post down or not over what I'm thinking of doing in the next 2 months as I do change my mind or push an idea back a month or two. But I hope that, if I actually write it down and tell you guys about my plans, I might actually stick to it! 

So, here we go. 

This October, I was planning to stories that have a scare/creepy factor. Yeah, see the word WAS. Well, last week, after reading a NetGalley book that fitted this theme well, I hit a wall. I felt on the edge of a reading slump. I still think I'm on the verge of one so this themed idea has gone flying out of the window. It just makes it easier for me. So, I decided to just scrap this themed month and just read or try to read books and stories that excited me. If that means all I read are #re3 books, so be it. If this means I scare my NetGalley, so be it. I'm just going to try and NOT READ DULL!

Also, I am taking a week break (which I now think is perfectly timed!) so you have a week long RSM. I'll warn you guys a day before I go away I won't suddenly go silent. I'll warn you. 

And now, November's plans. I planned this idea earlier in the year but then pushed it back to September. But then I pushed it back to now as... well, all the yummy books that I got my hands on (with the aid of the lovely and awesome UK publishers/The Works stores/charity shops/competitions). So, this November, I am planning to hold a Read Your Own Month. Which, is basically me reading books that I have bought (or won/given by friends & family) as... well... I have a book buying addiction and I don't read nearly enough of these books. So, I just want to attack a few books I've bought/won/etc. So, November will probably have books that you guys read YEARS ago and I'm playing catch up! Hope you don't mind! 

So, basically, I am still going to be reading or trying to. You guys don't have to worry! I thought I would give you guys a heads-up, just in case you fancy knowing. So I will still be reacting like one of the following gifs:

You have been warned. Have fun reading, you guys!