Tuesday, 10 October 2017

RSM - A Break


Which means, for a little while, am going to go on a blog break. Nothing hugely. Maybe two weeks, maybe longer...

It's not a big deal. I will be in the country for the next few days so will be tweeting/Instagraming like normal. Plus, with October being a month where am focusing on quite a few meaty books (Fate of the Tearling, Origin, La Belle Sauvage, etc), so a blog break might do me some good as I won't (in theory) worry about getting reviews up.

When I come back from my break and have got myself more in control of blog posts and ideas, will shout at you. But am off on my hols now so I'll see you all when I get back. Stay safe, stay happy and I will see your faces all real soon!!!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Quieter Than Killing Blog Tour Stop

Why, hello and welcome to my stop of the Quieter Than Killing blog tour. As you guys know, I enjoy reading a good crime novel and am always on the hunt to discover new authors in the genre. So, when this blog tour came on my radar, I couldn't resist.

Quieter Than Killing is the fourth DI Marnie Rome series where she and her partner, Noah, are investigating a series of random assaults. But they're not random as they first appear as all the victims have been convicted of violent crimes and have just been released. But as they investigate further, outside dramas effect them both: Marnie's parents' home has been targeted by a gang of youths and her tenants have been attacked in an apparent robbery and Marnie can't help but feel that there's a connection between what happening and  her foster brother, Stephen. All the while, Noah's brother might be involved in gang, though he claims that he isn't.

As Marnie and Noah investigate the three cases, they can't help but wonder whether the cases are connected in some way. Because some crimes are much quieter and more insidious than killing... and if this true, they all better be careful...

Doesn't that sound tense and creepy?! Right up my street for crime! I can't wait for it to get darker and sink my teeth into this!

But that's not what this stop is about. I am very lucky to have Sarah Hilary talking about some chilling Autumn reads, books that will give you a shiver (and not just because of the turning weather!).

So, before I hand it over to Sarah, I must thank her for finding time to write this tiny post (and I blame her for me looking up one or two of her titles and go "That sounds good...") and I want to thank Katie at Headline/BookBridgr for allowing me to pop on this!

Now, are we sitting comfortably? ... good. Then Sarah will begin...

Friday, 6 October 2017

A Shiver of Snow and Sky Extract & Giveaway!

SURPRISE!!! This is my day on the A Shiver of Snow and Sky blog tour! And I have a double-whammy for you all!

For those curious, A Shiver of Snow and Sky is set on the island of Skane where the sky speaks. Beautiful, colourful lights fill the sky, relaying a message from the Goddess. Green means all is well, blue means a snow storm is coming and red... red is rare and it's a warning... 

And the last time the sky turned red, it was seventeen years ago, Ósa was just born and a disease went through her village, killing hundreds of villagers, including her mother. Now Ósa is determined to figure out how to stop the onslaught before it destroys her village... 

Now I have wetted your appetite, I'm going to tease you with an extract from the story and, if that grabs your attention, I have a small contest for you to enter (if you want to enter, all the details will be on the Google Form so check that before you enter, ok?). All the details for the contest is on the form so read before you enter.

With all that out of the way, ONTO THE EXTRACT AND THE CONTEST!!!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

BBC National Short Story Award & BBC Young Writers Award 2017

Or, if you fancy a subtitle, "A Boob At the Beeb" (You can blame @gavreads for that and all will be revealed in the next few paragraphs).

As you know, I have been blogging/tweeting about the BBC Young Writers Awards in the past few weeks and, because of this, I was asked very kindly if I wanted to go to the award ceremony for the BBC Young Writers Awards and the BBC National Short Story Award 2017. I jumped at the chance! I mean, it's the BBC! And I love stories - and I love any excuse to book a half day off work to come to London to celebrate stories! (Booked today off as can write this and one other blog post up)! Plus, the idea of discovering new authors I have never heard of before was delicious!

So, yesterday, after panicking about train strikes (because I couldn't get my train app to work!), I made my way and, after getting off a tube stop two stops earlier than I needed to (was power-reading Fate of the Tearling and thought I had missed my stop!), I found the BBC.

It's an odd feeling as the BBC is a huge thing. We all use the BBC in one form or other (TV, radio, internet, app, podcast, etc) so to be there was a surreal moment. And exciting! I saw the window into the One Show studios opposite a coffee shop where I bought coffee and cake. Only to have the plastic fork snap and the cake go splat on the floor.

I dropped cake outside of the BBC! I DROPPED CAKE OUTSIDE THE BBC! It can't get worse than that on my first visit, I thought to myself as I went into receptionist to find where I was going.

How very wrong I was.

After I was pointed in right direction and did quick security check, had to put my bag and hoodie into coat-locker. Which is fine. So, I took off my hoodie. And my T-shirt decided that it loved my hoodie too much and didn't want to be parted from its lover. When I realised what was happening, my naked stomach and a good chuck of my chest were on show. I FLASHED MY MALE BOOBS TO SEVERAL SECURITY GUARDS AT THE BBC! OH! MY!! GOD!!!

Am never going to be invited back. Ever.

Moving quickly away from that! After that, I chatted to the lovely ladies at ED PR (Emma, Frances and Annabelle) who invited me to the event and an editor at Fleet Books (who's name has gone completely out of my head as I am useless with names! Sorry! And sorry for grilling you about your job - I went a bit OTT on the question front!).

And after discovering there were more people there I knew than I first realised, we had to be whisked into the BBC Radio Theatre where the winners to both the BBC National Short Story Awards and BBC Young Writers Award were going to be announced live on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. (Yes, dear reader, it was announced on Radio 4 so I had to pretend to be smart!). And after a quick speech from three editors at the BBC (I have forgotten one name already [sorry], but we had Di Speirs [Editor of Books] and Aled Haydn Jones [Radio 1's Head of Programmes]), we had the host of Front Row, chat to us and then, we were on the air!

For those of you who want to listen to the show, check out the show here or download the podcast here (it's the National Short Story Awards 2017 episode you want)!

Both winners were announced live on the radio. The winner of the National Short Story Awards 2017 was Cynan Jones's The Edge of the Shoal and the Young Writer's Award winner was Elizabeth Ryder with The Roses. Now, I haven't read/heard any of the stories on the National Short Story shortlist yet (you can read them in the small collection, published by Comma Press or listen to the them via the BBC's new Short Stories podcast), but I have spent most of this morning reading all five entries of the BBC Young Writers Awards 2017 (all are on the website!) and all are extraordinary, and I hope that all five will have literary agents before next year's awards...

After the show, most of us were thrown into the area where there was wine, a view of the BBC News area (Very open-planned. Very swish!) and I chatted books with people I knew [Hi Rosi, Nina and everyone!]. We chatted about the World Book Day list, books we have/haven't read recently (the reaction I got when I admitted I still haven't read The Hate U Give because the hype I built for it in my head was priceless!), and other odds and ends.

And after that, I went home. I know. A bit anti-climatic. But I had three glasses on wine on a semi-empty stomach so that made things interesting! But to everyone involved in last night's events and involved with both awards, thank you for a wonderful evening. I can't wait to see what you guys are going to do for next year's National Short Story Awards, Young Writers Awards and the new Student Critics Award...!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Through the Kindle TBR

I try not to look at my kindle TBR. I buy a lot of ebooks on my kindle - usually when they are on sale. And, as am in the mood for sharing/having you all gasp in horror and go "WHY HAVEN'T YOU READ THAT YET?!", I thought I would pick a few out at random and go "I have this on my kindle and one day... one day, I will read this!"

Oh, just to be clear, these are ebooks I have bought. None on this is my eProofs. I will reveal a few of those one day... maybe not yet though...

I have three of her books on my kindle - Poison Study, Touch of Power and Scent of Magic. I know, I know. I am a huge fantasy reader and, somehow, this author has gone by me. I was aware of her but it was only in the past few years that I have gone "Ok, I need to make an effort to read her as this author sounds right up my street". So, I got these... and I have never read them. Now, I have every intention to read them. I am thinking I will read either Poison Study or Touch of Power before the end of 2018. I'm not sure which, but I am aware I need to get my rear in gear on this author!

THE SEVEN KINGDOMS Trilogy by Kristin Cashore
I have all three books within this trilogy on my kindle. THEY WERE ON SALE AND I AM WEAK AND I STILL HAVEN'T READ THEM! But the hype! Oh, the hype, dear reader when this trilogy came out was scary. I love fantasy and this sounds perfect for me - very much in the same way that Maria V. Snyder (and Trudi Canavan - some of you mention her in passing). But the hype and the passion the fans have for this series scare me a little. I would like to read Graceling soon (very much like Poison Study and Touch of Power), but when I do, I want to read it with very low expectations. I don't want the hype to to lead me to a "It's ok, I guess" situation.

I swear, most of my kindle TBR isn't just fantasy. Honest! But fantasy and crime/thrillers are genres I go towards normally, hence my choices. But I saw the cover and hear the early buzz about this series and I was intrigued. Not sure now and heard that one or two books in the series aren't really needed, but I want to give this a try! Same goes with Crown of Midnight that is still sitting on my kindle, demanding I get into the Throne of Glass fandom.

HAVEMERCY by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
You can blame Stevie from SableCaught for this being here. She was the one who got me aware of this and a few Terry Pratchett books that are on my radar (but not on my kindle. One mission read at a time!). But a book about clockwork dragons with LGBT+ leads? SIGN ME UP!

Do I really need to go into this? *Picks two other titles on my kindle to distract*

U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton
Like I said earlier on, I like a bit of crime. And this book - along with another book in Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series (R is for Ricochet) - catch my eye. This title follows someone who claims he remembered a crime happening when he was six year old - a kidnapping. But is it a case of the boy who cried wolf or is there some truth to his memory?

I got this when there was a glitch on price on Amazon preorder. It's the whole series and everyone who I chat to when I mention I have this LOVES Diana Wynne Jones. Though I think everyone has read Howl's Moving Castle (I haven't and not sure I will - the movie's has excited/spoilt me a little). Plus, I think I have read one of these titles many, many years ago. I'm not sure and I can't remember the plot. Am such is was Witch Week, but until I sit down and start making my way through this collection, we will have to see...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

BBC Young Writers' Award 2017 Shortlist!

If you were just listening to BBC Radio One, you would have just heard Alice Levine announce the shortlist to this year's BBC Young Writers' Award 2017! 

For the third year running, this contest is on the hunt for fresh writing talent from teens aged 14 to 18 and this year, there were over 500 entries, which Alice (the head judge) and her fellow judges, authors Holly Bourne and Nikesh Shukla had to read and judge. 

And it is an honour to be asked to reveal the shortlist on the Pewter Wolf with little info from the press release! Each of these stories sound gripping and something I would happily devour in one sitting! 

Now, for those curious about when the winner is revealed, they will be revealed this coming Tuesday  on BBC Radio 4's Front Row (7:15pm, just after The Archers) with the announcement of the winner of the BBC National Short Story Award and the Young Writers' Award winner will have their story read on Alice's show the following Saturday. Fast turnaround, I know! 

Ok, before I give you the press release, if you are curious over this and want to know more, check out www.bbc.co.uk/ywa or follow the #BBCYWA hashtag on social media (here's the link to Twitter!). 


Friday, 29 September 2017

Another NetGalley Declined

I do believe that my cries to publishers of "You can't decline me on NetGalley and other review sites! I won't mind! Honest!" are beginning to be heard. And I'm a mix of thrilled (my TBR thanks you) and, in one case recently, a little disappointed as I REALLY WANNA READ IT!

Oh well! No biggie.

For those curious, when I say NetGalley, it's basically me being too lazy to say eProofs/Advance Reader Copy. And I have four declines that I want to show you as I want to show you guys that I am trying to read different books outside my comfort zone (and because I'm not reading/going to read these, doesn't mean you shouldn't if they call to you!).

So... let's get start!

Ballantine Press - GoodReads Link
A historical mystery set round Christmas? Perfect! I am trying to read more seasonal reads and get myself more in sync with books and weather. Plus, I am always a fan of a good murder mystery. I get why I was declined this - this being published in the US so why have a UK-based blogger read and review it - but I believe this does have a UK publisher so if I am still in the mood to read this in a month or so, I will try and

THE QUARTERBACK by Mackenzie Blair
Riptide Publishing - GoodReads Link
Ok, I have to admit it. The cover was the first thing that caught my attention. I am that shallow. But once I read the blurb, I was intrigued to read this LGBT romance. Yes, it's a coming-out story and I am very uncertain of these (sometimes, the handling of these can be very heavy-handed), but I thought "Why not?" on requesting it. They declined but that's ok. It was a late night whim!

JEK/HYDE by Amy Ross
Harlequin Teen Australia - GoodReads Link
An Australia reimagining of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - this hook and the cover were the reasons I requested this. Plus, I had read a "sequel" to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which tackled the issue of identity thief, so I was in the mood for trying this out. Plus, I was curious/worried over how the author was going to bring this story into the present day. And from the looks of the reviews, while I would whizz through this, there would have been one or two things I would go "Hang on a second!" and question... Maybe I had a lucky escape.

HOW TO BE CHAMPION by Sarah Millican
Trapeze/Orion Books - GoodReads Link
Like I said at the start of this post, there was one book that I got the "Thank you for requesting this eProof, and sadly, you have been declined" email and I went "NO!" and would have a tiny book blogger sulk. This was that book. I find Sarah funny (will put a link to her standup here and here - there might be some sweary) so reading this was going to be either hilarious or am going to tear my hair out (look at the cover! She did something weird with the buttons of her cardigan). But I am going to read/audiobook this! It might not be when it's realised but I will do some plotting and soon... soon... if I have the funds, of course!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

eBook Review - Every Heart A Doorway

This was a mistake buy. I feel like I need to state that. I was aware of this eBook and I was intrigued by it. So, I was going to download the sampler of it on my kindle and read it quickly as there was an offer on its price. Expect I hit buy instead. I was at work on my phone when I bought it and knew I couldn't return it till I get home and on my laptop, so when I told people on Twitter, everyone basically said "No! Keep it! Trust us on this!". And I trusted you guys so, kept on my kindle for the perfect moment. And seeing as next month is my holiday month and am planning to read a lot of thick books, it felt right to read now. (Plus, other half saw cover and went "Read that next").

Ever wondered what happened to kids who step through a magic door into another world? Step into the wardrobe, crawl under the bed, step into a chest, fall down the rabbit hole. Well, that's not what this novella/series is about. It's the not what happened to them in the world they discovered - it's what would happened when they come back...

The Miss Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children accept children that slip into other worlds and help them find themselves once they come back. For every child attending this school all want to return to the world they discovered.

Nancy is a new student, sent her by her parents who believe the school will help her over her "trauma", not believe that she travelled to a world very similar to the Underworld. But her arrival has a knock on effect when something terrible happened... And it's going to happen again if Nancy and her classmates can't stop it.

This is a weird novella to describe. The best way I can think of is it's a bit of a mash-up between Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and X-Men, with the feeling/tone of The Night Circus about it.

It's a little gem of a book. It's not perfect (more on that later), but for the most part, it works. It tackles an idea of "what happened when the kids who discovered a wonderful world return?" and flip it on its head. And the world of this idea is intriguing - I know at the time of writing this, this is meant to be a trilogy but I want it to be a series as there are ideas/places/characters that call to me and I want to know more and I would happily read full-blown novels about them. I would happily read them and go "MORE!".

One of the aspects of this story I love is the diversity! The diversity in this book is on point. Nancy, our main character, identifies herself as asexual. Another main character, Kade (who I love and I will pay good money to read him!) is transgender. We have characters in here that hint that they are part of the LGBT community and the BAME community without saying outright. I love that this felt like it had a wide range of characters.

I do have problems. But these can be summed up in one fault. This is a novella of 176 pages. This length is too short for this story and the ideas mentioned and touched upon. The last quarter felt rushed and lacked depth. The murder mystery element was rushed and felt anti-climatic when who/what/why was revealed (I guessed these quite quickly), character development wasn't fleshed-out as I hoped and there was several things that happened in final chapter and epilogue that made me go "Oh, that's convenient.".

If this story had a hundred pages extra, it would have worked in my opinion. We would have built the tension to the mystery, spent time with characters and saw their development (one character came in quite late in the story and the world he went to intrigues me but due to how late he appeared, we know incredibly little), we could have explored the ideas, worlds and places (there's a second school briefly mentioned that similar to this school and I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT!). But it felt as if the author had a word count or page limit and she was going to stick to it, no matter what.

I am going to read the other stories in this series (at the moment, we have Down Among the Sticks and Bones [a prequel following two characters we meet in Every Heart a Doorway] and Beneath the Sugar Sky [a sequel, I think. Don't hold me to that]). Let me make that clear - if I can get my hands on them, I will read them.

Every Heart a Doorway has so much potential, and while it doesn't hit all of them, it looks like it's going to be a start of a wonderful series.

Monday, 25 September 2017

The Red Ribbon Contest

I have a contest for you guys!

Today, I managed (via some lovely people at Midas PR) to get my hands on a copy of The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington.

The Red Ribbon follows fourteen year old Ella as she starts her first day at work. She enters the world of silks, fashion and fabric. She's a dressmaker, but the place she's working isn't a normal sewing workshop. Her clients aren't normal clients. She has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Austchwitz, and every dress she makes is the difference between life and death...

And if you want to enter to win this book, all you have to do is fill in the GoogleForm below! And that's it. Nothing else.

Like I said before, I have only one copy of The Red Ribbon to give away! YEAH!!! This is a UK only contest (I'm sorry! I swear, I am trying to plot something more international soon!!!) and this contest is opened till 5pm-ish this coming Sunday (1st October). There can be only one winner (due to me only giving away one copy) and the winner will be chosen at random via random.org and will be emailed later in the day or the following day to get contact details.

All that is left to say after that is good luck to those of you entering and may the odds ever be in your favour!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

30 Minute Writing Sprint - Week 6

I feel like I have missed a week (I haven't. I've checked) but I have been having lazy days this weekend (getting ready to go on holiday and just started reading Fate of the Tearling. Just under a 100 pages in and I am enjoying it). Now, am trying to do a quick 30 minute writing sprint. I have ideas and I have discovered a note on my phone, full of title ideas for short stories! So, am ready to go!

But, am currently cooking my dinner so am going to be jumping between the two during this 30 minutes so it might be more 25 minutes instead of 30 minutes. So, forgive me if I fail this week!

Anyway, onto the writing! See ya in the tick!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Kindle Sample - What? Again?!

Oh yes! This is back for a fourth visit! I have been downloading a lot of samplers on my Kindle iPhone app recently. This is for a number of reasons: a reminder to buy this in the future, am curious to see, the cover is pretty, there's buzz and I missed it, etc.

So, here's a tiny handful of titles that I have downloaded to read and figure out if I want to buy/borrow for library or to go "Nope!" over!

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness
Truth time: I have audiobooked this years and years ago. I remember liking it, but when I was chatting to some family members of my Other Half's a week or so ago, I realised that I didn't remember a single thing about it. Plus, with it being turned into a TV show on Sky1 and with me trying out reading more "grown up" fantasy, I feel ready to go back into this book and, hopefully, read the rest of the trilogy (I only audiobooked the first then stopped as the second book was a monster of a book! IT WAS HUGE!!!)

While chatting to my Other Half's family, one asked if I had read Jo Nesbo. "I have The Snowman for review" I admitted (which I do. Movie tie-in). He replied "Really? Well, I think you might prefer the book before, The Redeemer. It's quite dark and I think you might like it more." So, I downloaded a sampler, just to keep fresh in my mind. I will only read this once I have read The Snowman and if I enjoyed myself while reading (I do like reading crime books so the signs are positive so we shall see...)

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by André Aciman
I saw the trailer for the movie and went "Oh!" over it as I don't read a lot of mainstream literature which tackles LGBT relationships and other aspects and went "I need to investigate this book when I have the time". I haven't had the time to investigate but from the little I know, this might be a book I need to investigate...

HARVEST by Tess Gerritsen
I remember watching an episode of Blindspot (I think) where it touched upon the organ harvesting and I instantly went "I read something about this" and went hunting. This was the book and I read it YEARS ago. It's been a very long time since I read Tess Gerritsen and the last time I attempted to read her (Playing With Fire), I just didn't click with it. But I remember devouring this so I want to go back and reread this!

As you guys might be aware, I have preordered Dan Brown's upcoming novel, Origin, and I'm not 100% sure why. I was chatting to my other half who has read one or two titles by him, and he said "You should read Digital Fortress. It's a standalone and you won't feel guilty about series binge reading due to THAT TBR" (which I will get under control. Not sure when or how, but I WILL!) so popped this on here. But reading this (and Da Vinci Code [I never read that! DON'T GIVE ME THAT LOOK!]) will probably depend on my reactions to Origin.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Book Review - The Loneliest Girl...

I'm not 100% certain how to write this review without spoiling it? This is one of those books (very much like E. Lockhart's We Were Liars) that it's best if you go into the book as blind as you can.and just dive in.

But, I have to say something so you guys understand what this book is about and why I decided to read it after read two adult LGBT+ romanic novels.

Ok, let me explain why I decided to read this. There are a few reasons. First, I have wanted to read this for what feels like AGES. A bunch of you guys got early copies of this at YALC. And you guys SCREAMED (well, tweet-screamed) at how good this book was! So, when the lovely people at Walker asked if I wanted to have a copy for review, I jumped at the chance. But when I got my copy, I suddenly realised that I had a lot of books on my TBR and as I planned to read a lot of quick reads throughout September so I can tackle big, chunky reads throughout October so I wasn't sure when I was going to read this. That was until I asked Twitter. When in doubt over what to read next, TWITTER!

So, I read this because of you guys. You only have yourselves to blame. Now, where to begin...? 

Romy is the only survivor on a spaceship bound for a new Earth-like planet. She is the loneliest girl in the universe (hence the title), until she hears that a spaceship has launched from Earth. Then she gets email from the spaceship from a boy called J. Is it possible for her to fall in love with someone she's never met, who's light years away...? 

I'm trying to keep it vague. Am using the blurb on the back of my copy as outline (but they go much further than I am). 

Ok, my thoughts. Well, this an addictive little thing. Fast, gripping, edge of your seat and very We Were Liars. If you have read both books, you understand why I keep comparing the two. Because, in the best way I can describe it, both books are paranoid reads. Well, for me, they were. I read them both with the huge sense of uneasy and mistrust. Maybe it's because I enjoy reading crime and thriller stories or maybe because I am a hugely suspicious reader (I trust the author, but never the story nor characters), but I would read something and an alarm would ring in my head... 

I do like this book because it tackles some really interesting themes. Space travel, science (there's real science in here!), isolation, paranoia, mental health. Plus, with Romy being a strong, yet flawed character, reading her and what was happening to her made me turn the pages faster. 

I do have one or two things. The first is length. I wish this book was a fraction longer. I could very easily read an extra 50 or 100 pages. But mainly because I was so sucked in, I just wanted it to keep going for just a little longer

My other thing is more a me thing than anything else. There were one or two things I did see coming quite early on. Now, I don't think 13/14 year old me would have seen them coming, but I would have been suspicious. 

An addictive read. Now, to backtrack and read The Last Beginning! Like I have said loads of times, very behind on my reading! 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

30 Minute Writing Sprint - Week 5

OH! It's been a while since I've done one of these. I am not going to lie and say "I was busy" or I lacked time. I just haven't. I was lazy and every time I thought "I have an idea for this", I would go "Later, later..." and wave it off. Plus, been trying to get myself all originzed for the next few weeks as, in October, am taking a small blog holiday and planning to read some beasts of books so am trying to have good content for you to read, so this has been on the back burner (plus is trying to get something  planned for my friend - cinema or inviting them for meal round mine. I am so bad at meet-ups with friends).

So, because I feel guilty about skipping out on me doing writing sprints, am going to do two. One now that will take 22 minute playlist (I can't use my timer as am using it for washing - don't ask) and if I found my writing groove, I will do another but won't post till tomorrow or later in the week!

So, got my music playlist at the ready, I have word open and I have one of two ideas to play with. See you on the other side!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

eBook Review - Illegal Contact

"Two adult LGBT romances in one week? Andrew, are you feeling well?" I hear you ask. Well, yes. I have been hammering out reading in the past few weeks (I found my groove again - only for it to be ruined in the next few months by Fate of the Tearling, Origin and La Belle Sauvage!) so I wanna share the reading goodness while I can!

Anyway, I have been trying to get my NetGalley eProofs under some control (got over 60 still to read) and this called to me. And after reading Foxglove Copse (review for that is here, in case you're curious), I fancied some more man on man kissing (don't give me that look!) and this called to me. I remembered requesting on NetGalley because I liked the sound of the story.

Nothing to do with the hot cover. Nope. Not at all. *shifts uncomfortably in my chair* MOVING ON!

Gavin Brawley is star tight end (Who sniggered?) of the New York Barons's American football team. And he's got himself a six month house arrest because he couldn't control his temper. This temper is well know both on and off the field and now, because of his house arrest, he needs a personal assistant who can stand up to his temper.

Enter Noah Monroe, a guy who needs a job - any job. With student debt, his father being sacked and leaving his last job under a cloud (thanks to his boss/ex), he thinks taking this job will be easy. It's only for six months. What's the worse that could happen?

So, out of the Foxglove Copse and Illegal Contact, I prefer this one a little more. I still whizzed through them both within four/five days (which, as you know, is fast for me!) and they both were fun, addictive reads. But Illegal Contact had a little more meat to sink my teeth into, and for that, I liked even though it did take me a few chapters to switch my brain to.

Also, I liked that, even though the timeline was six months and the story jumped forward a few weeks every now and then (and sometimes, that did annoy me), I liked that it was a slow burn romance. It wasn't insta-love (a troupe I am slowly growing to dislike) and it did have a level of snark that I warm to. Plus, I liked reading from both Noah's and Gavin's points of view (though I do wish that, when this happens in books, each character has a different font so readers can go "Oh, am reading Character X or Character Y).

Before I go into my nitpicking, just wanna say that, unlike Foxglove Copse where the sex scenes were more "Fade to Black", we saw the sex scenes in Illegal Contact. So, if you are not a fan of sex scenes, you might want to fast forward these chapters.

There are one or two things I want to nitpick over. The first is that, at times, there was a few troupes and cliches that I saw and went "... really?" over. I know that this is going to happen with romance novels - I know this, I accept this - but am always a fan of a surprise twist or someone taking a troupe and turning it on its head. Plus, there was one or two moments I thought "I wonder if this is going to go Scandal and we have Noah doing the "If you want me, EARN ME!" scene [probably the best in Scandal from the little I have seen - plus, if anyone fancies writing a romance with a gay/bi/pan president or Prime Minster, please do and shout at me! I will read the heck out of it!)

The second nitpick is the pacing. Most of the time, I was on board with it. The romance is a slow burn and I like a nice slow burn. But then, with the last 20% of the book, things happened which felt a little fast. I get why, but there was a moment I went "If this had a extra few percent, this could be dragged out a little more". Maybe I like the angst and the heartbreak and I wanted to see the fallout.

I liked this (though adult romance is outside my comfort zone) and am tempted to see what happens in the next book in the series, Down by Contact, which follows another character who I really loved reading. As long as it's just as fun, sexy and addictive, this series and me should get on...

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Disney Book Tag

IT'S TAG TIME! And it's goes towards one of my movie loves - DISNEY!!!

This tag was created by Kat from Katytastic (the video for her creating this tag is here!) and I was tagged very kindly/meaningly (depending on how I feel once I have answered all the questions) by Amy from Golden Books Girl (thank you).

Ok, let's get this Disney Party Started! Hang on, I need a Disney Gif before I go ANY FURTHER!!!

Now, I need to answer these without using my default of Harry Potter as my answer. Ok, wish me luck!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

eBook Review - Foxglove Copse

This isn't my normal read. I know that. I fully accept that this is a little out of my comfort zone, but I liked the sound of the blurb for this so requested it on NetGalley. I didn't think I would be approved nor did I think I would have read it yet. But as I plan to try and read two or three eProofs this month so I can focus on big, meaty books next month (and get myself ready for La Belle Sauvage), I thought I would hammer this out.

After suffering a huge anxiety attack six months ago, Sam has left his high-powered job, his emotionally-bullying family and has been living in his van. But with his savings running low, Sam is beginning to run out of opinions.

So, when he decides to park up in a copse and goes for a walk, the last thing he expected to find was a murdered sheep. And when he's found next to the body, he has a lot of explaining to do. Especially when it looks like it was a ritual killing.

Ruan, who finds Sam with his aunt, doesn't believe Sam did it. When he first saw Sam, he felt some kind of connection and when he sees how Sam has been living, Ruan decides that he needs to save Sam. But when the killing escalate and it looks the killer could be the same person behind some nasty cyber-bullying, the two need to work fast on stopping him before they can figure out their feelings for each other...

This book is part of a series - the Porthkennack series (which is split into two sections - contemporary or historical) - so while you can read them in order, you can read each novel as standalone as they are written by different authors (it looks like there are four authors involved). And the fact that each book tackles an issue in one form or another, it appealed to me when I requested this as this tackled LGBT characters, a mystery involving someone pretending to practice the occult and having a character sugaring from anxiety - something I'm not well read in nor do I see often tackled in books.

Anyway, reactions to this. I read this within three/four days earlier this month when I was super lazy and very tired (I had several late nights with friends/neighbours/family/etc) so, when I started this, I thought it was going a light, fluffy, LGBT love story with a mystery twist to it. Oh, how wrong I was. And, in a weird way, am kinda ok with that. Up to a point.

It was a fast, addictive read. I would sit and whizz through, surprised at how involved I got and wondering if I should investigate the rest of the series (the only title within this series that caught my eye at the moment is House of Cards, though I will keep eyes peeled for upcoming titles). It was much darker than I was expecting and, as someone who does like to read a good crime novel, this appealed to me.

Like I said, I am not well read or well-informed on how the subject of Sam's anxiety and his panic attacks was handled. So, I'm not going to go too in-depth with that. If someone knows more information and has read this, could you let me know your thoughts and opinions.

Like I said earlier, I was kinda on board with the fact that this book was darker than I expected. But up to a point. There were issues I do have with Foxglove Copse. I wasn't a fan of the instalove between Ruan and Sam. It was just too fast for my taste. Plus, Sam does suffer for anxiety, so I did find it a little hard to believe that Sam would fall for Ruan as quickly as he did.

I suppose this lends itself into the pacing. I get why the pacing was a little faster than expected, but for some reason, it felt off. The off-ness felt the same with some of issues raised - the cyber-bullying, ritual killing and a the possible suicide that could be linked to the cyber-bullying. To me, these are quite dark issues, but with the writing's tone, it didn't sit right with me. Plus, the climax felt like an anticlimax. It felt too easy. I can't put my finger on why, but I'm not a fan of how these issues were tackled.

It felt like, even though this is written for a more grown-up audience, this was written for a New Adult audience. And, if it was, it feels a bit disrespectful to the subject matter and to the reader.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh. I did whizz through the book and I might return to this series and try another author and this probably is a good airport/beach read, but along the way, it misses the mark on certain subject matters.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Book Review - Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek

I don't normally write reviews for blog tours. This is usually a big fat no-no with me and the blog. So, me breaking this rule is a very strange move, you might think. And you would be right.

But stay with me on this one. Stay with me.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek takes place several years after the shocking events of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Mr Utterson is shocked. A man claiming to be the missing Dr Jekyll has reappeared. But this is impossible as Mr Utterson knows the truth. The truth that Dr Jekyll was Mr Hyde and Mr Hyde is dead. But as this claimant charms Jekyll's friends and reclaim his estate and fortune, Mr Utterson decides to find proof to unmask this Jekyll. But with the body count beginning to rise, Mr Utterson wondering if he's losing his grip on reality and wonders how far he will go to get to the truth...

Now, this shouldn't be my cup of tea read. This really shouldn't. I never like "sequels" of classic stories as it makes me uncomfortable and wonder if it's disrespectful to the original. But I devoured this is less than 5 days. I couldn't put it down!

Now, I haven't read the original Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (something I will have to correct in the future), I can't tell you if this sits well next to it, but I enjoyed this story and the twist on the original on identity thief and, because of this, you start to question Utterson and his motives.

Ok, I have to admit there are little things I don't like. The final chapter bothers me as, without revealing too much, leaves the door open for you to connect the dots. Now, in some books, I am on board with this, but with this, I'm not sure I'm 100% behind it. I see why it went that way, but I feel that maybe something more solid would be helpful...

Barring the last chapter, I found this a gripping read and I can see it being adapted for TV very easily. Very much a creepy, gothic Halloween tale for the BBC, with lots of fog, shadow and unsettling moments where you don't trust the show...

Anthony O'Neill Talks Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek

Today is my stop on the Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek tour! So here we are!

Now, the plan was to get a review of the book itself up on time (and I still hope to do so but in a seperate post - FINGERS CROSSED!). But, I am very honoured to have Anthony O'Neill on the Pewter Wolf and asked a few non-spoiler questions about Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek.

I won't talk about what the book is about (I ask an elevator pitch question so wait, dear reader), but Anthony is author of several books, such as The Lamplighters, the Empire of Eternity and The Dark Side, which 20th Century Fox have bought the film rights to and has Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian attached to produce.

Before I hand over to past me asking Anthony questions, I just want to thank Anthony for taking time out to answer my questions and Lina at Black & White Publishing for allowing me to take part in this blog tour!

Now, onto the questions and answers!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Harry Potter Book Tag

As you guys know, I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan! And I have been in the mood to do a Harry Potter Book Tag because we have now entered the epilogue of Deathly Hallows and entered Cursed Child (if you accept this as canon). When, by chance, I saw this on Rachel's Rambling Reviews (via her Twitter - where else), I got very excited and decided to do this with you guys.

If I had found this sooner, I would have done it on the first of September. BECAUSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN EPIC!!!

I believe (if I have searched far back enough) that this was created by Louise Bodle, but forgive me if I have made a mistake.

Ok, let's go, Potterheads!!! OFF TO HOGWARTS, WE GO!!!

Monday, 4 September 2017

DNFing There's Someone In Your House

After I binge-read Doctor Jekyll and Mr Seek (review for that not coming out just yet, I decided to ask Twitter what I should read. I wanted something fun, addictive and edge of your seat. You guys voted for this (though it was a very VERY close call. It changed in the last two minutes as it was a two-way tie!).

And I read. I kinda wanted to read this as soon as I heard of it. A nod to slasher-horror movies by an author who wrote Anna And The French Kiss. Ok, that's going to be an interesting fish-out-of-water read. So when you guys voted for it, I was surprised but was "Yes!" at it. It's outside my (and the author's) comfort zone and I wanted something fun and different.

And I read. I got to the first 15/18% into my NetGalley and I realised that this wasn't the book for me.  And seeing that I don't like lie to hiding this from you guys (I want you to know that it's ok to go "Ok, this book isn't for me" or "You know, I am not in the mood for this now. Let me put it down and come back at a later date"), I better tell you why I'm leaving this.

I just didn't click. I don't know if it's the voice or what was happening in tone but, when I started this, I thought it was going to be Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer. I expected it to be tense. I might not be a horror fan, but I like a good psychological scare. But it didn't come across that way. The prologue felt like it fitted this, but it didn't go as far as I was expecting. In fact, we don't see anything. Hell, I'm not even sure we saw the character realise that something awful was about to happen. Then, the genre switches and it went romanic. I get why this switch happened - to build tense and to make us care for these characters - but it felt like a misstep.

The one thing I do like in this is diversity. That is the main thing I approve of, but this book feels like a misstep in advertising. It doesn't feel like a horror/slasher, like I was lead to believe, but a romantic with a serial killer edge.

Now, I am not saying this book is bad. I have read reviews where people have raved about this book. Loved it. But, it's just not for me at this moment in time. And that's ok. Just because I didn't click with it doesn't mean you won't either. You might read it and go "This is good. What was that Andrew guy talking about?!". If you like this, good for you. Read what makes you happy.

Am going to put this down and move on. I will return to this one day when I'm ready. But not yet. I want to blitz my NetGalley eProofs in next few weeks as I can focus on Fate of the Tearling, Origin and The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage at the end of September/throughout October... 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Children's Book Circle Summer Party 2017

Before I go any further, I want to say thank you to everyone at the Children's Book Circle's Summer Party. Thank you for inviting me and thank you for looking after me when, out of nowhere, I got blogger shy and wanted to hide in the corner with a glass of wine and my laptop! 

Ok, back to normal. Now, last week, I was very kindly invited to the Children's Book Circle's Summer Party. The Children's Book Circle (http://www.childrensbookcircle.org.uk for those curious) is a non-profit organisation run by a committee of volunteers who work in publishing (editors, publishers, agents, etc) and they try to set up events (panels, Meet and Critiques, etc). Go to their website - they can explain better than I can. 

Anyway (!), I was invited to go and I said yes without a moment's thought. I love going to publishing events and I spend so long panicking about trains and work, that going and meeting people who love books is great. So, once I left work that day, I changed and ran for the train to London (nearly missing it, FYI!) and got to Kings Cross. Once snooping in the Harry Potter shop (very busy and I kick myself for now not being a Niffler key ring!) and getting a quick hot chocolate from Pret (which I somehow got free - which everyone is now telling me Pret employees can do and, maybe, the guy was flirting with me. PEOPLE - my gaydar DOESN'T EXIST!!! If you're going to flirt with me, TELL ME IN ADVANCE!), I slipped in. 

And got Book Blogger Shy. 

I like meeting people. I do. But I panicked when I saw people who know publishing inside and out and, most of them I don't know (and they don't know me) so when they asked "Who do you work for?", they thought I worked for a publisher! I should have lied and answered "Regina Falange. We're a small indie publisher. You're probably never heard of us, but we read books, eat cake and hug cats. Is that Nick Jonas?!". Instead, I answered "am a book blogger" and await the cries of "NO, HE'S NOT! HE LIES!" (You would think, after seven years, I wouldn't still feel like a fraud when it comes to this book blogging and book events.). Plus, I only knew a tiny handful of people so became a sloth and never left their side for a good hour and a half (sorry about that!) 

Plus, some people dressed up! I wore a T-shirt covered with book covers (there were two/three times where people would look at my chest and go "Is that Harry Potter? Watchmen? What the hell is that with the tentacles?") but they went all out! There was Beetle Boy, a Handmaid from Handmaid's Tale, Mildred Hubble from The Worst Witch, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, a few Dalmatians from 101 Dalmatians, two Wallys from Where's Wally and others. I do have to give a special shout out to the three ladies who came as the burglars and the ladybird from What The Ladybird Heard. I think I shouted at them in delight once I figured out who they were - I have read that book to my nephews so many times! 

After finding my feet (and more wine - wine is a must at book events), chatted to some publishers, trying to get information about upcoming books that I MUST GET MY HANDS ON. But, alas, the wine has made me forget all but one book (and I only remembered that as I went "Oh! I know several book bloggers who would LOVE that!"). But I did chat to some lovely people about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hamilton coming to the UK and they were shocked that I plan to go into the show without hearing any music and they going "You MUST see Wicked!" (these are my kind of people) I had to leave to catch my train... well... I missed it, but I caught another and got my Other Half to pick me up. 

So, again, thank you to everyone there for making me feel welcome and sorry if I didn't talk to you or was too shy too. NEXT TIME, I WILL! And thank you Children's Book Circle for inviting me. 

OH! I remember something! The Children's Book Circle is planning something at the end of November. It's a lecture about libraries and a small award ceremony. I think I can grab a link for you guys. Hopefully, they will send out a Press Release so will shout at you once I know more. If I am free and can go, I will try. If not, YOU ALL HAVE FUN WITHOUT ME. Or Facebook Live it! I can watch it via Facebook if I must! 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

eBook Review - Songs About Us

I have been waiting for quite a while to read the sequel to Songs About A Girl (review for when I read it last year is here!), so when I get my hands on a eProof/NetGalley edition, I had to wait a few weeks to clear my reading out (BOOKS EVERYWHERE!).

It's two months after the events of Songs About A Girl and Charlie is trying to get normal back into her life. She's rebuilding a relationship with her father, try and hang out with her best friend and worry about GCSEs.

But soon, she is taken back into the world of Fire&Lights, the hottest boyband on the planet. But things are different between the four now. Aiden is in a relationship, but is uncomfortable with it. Yuki is drinking and no one can understand why. And tension between Gabriel and Olly are running at an all-time high and they are close to coming to blows with each other.

When you're as successful as Fire&Lights, there is two ways you can go: up or down. And either way, they're going to take Charlie and everyone around them with them. Whether they want to or not...

Am going to say it: out of the two, I think I prefer Songs About A Girl over Songs About Us. But Songs About Us is still a really good read.

It's a sugary, fun summer read. You can whizz through it and not come up for air for a while. You get sucked in. Plus, with some of the elements Chris tackled (LGBT+, mental health, etc), it was good to see it and go "YES!" over it. It's nice to have these characters and have them and their problems fleshed out.

But, at the same time, I didn't fly through this book as quickly as I did with Songs About A Girl. Some of the darker elements added to this annoyed me and slowed my reading down. Like I said, some elements I was for and most/all, I completely got why the book was taking us in that direction. But there were one or two elements/chapters/moments, where I would have to put my kindle down and leave it for a while, but I was getting frustrated over the characters and their reaction.

An example is one character. In the previous book, he was one of my faves because he was fun. I liked reading him. But, in this book, he changed. Of course, I got why at the end of the book, but there were several strong moments while reading, I was getting hugely annoyed over this character and the way their behaved.

While there were moments I got frustrated with the book, I did enjoy it. Maybe not as much as Songs About A Girl, but I am very much going to continue with this series when Songs About A Boy come out next year. Plus, with Songs About Us ending on that cliffhanger, I will be very intrigued how Chris is going to explain everything...

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Book Review - The Color of Pixar

As you guys know, I am a sucker for Disney books so when I was asked if I wanted to read/review this, I jumped at it.

With this coffee-table book, each page is a still from all of Pixar's feature films, including the recent Cars 3 and the upcoming Coco. Instead of being organised by film, they are organised by colour, starting with white and lilic and continuing through blue, green, yellow, red onto black.

Now, I like art-movie books, and this is the same. It's visually stunning, seeing how much time and detail each frame takes. It's very much a book for art lovers.

But, it lacks something. I can't put my finger on it. It's missing something that would have made reading this better. Maybe a bit of detail here and there. But because it's missing a bit of magic, it feels lacking.

Like I said, visually stunning, but it feels very style over substance.

Monday, 28 August 2017

30 Minute Writing Sprint - Week 4

So, here we are again! Another weekly 30 minute writing sprint when I should be writing a guest blog post or some reviews. But it's a bank holiday and I want to be lazy and have fun. So, here we are.

Now, I had this idea for the past few days, story wise, so not sure how this will turn out. Plus, a little tight for time at the moment so changing this to a 17 minute writing sprint. Yes, it's a Bank Holiday in the UK but, like I said earlier, I was a lazy, sleep on the sofa kinda day!

Anyway, I hope this story idea comes out ok. I might annoy a podcast and go "If you need an idea for prologue for your next series..." Ok, stop watches at the ready! 17 minutes! See you on the other side!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Down The TBR Rabbit Hole

I found this randomly at the weekend on a book blog I have never read before and I loved the idea so much, I had to "borrow" it. The blog I saw this on was A Cascade of Books and the original idea came from another book blog I have never read called Lost In A Story.

And I call myself a book blogger and I fail at keeping up with the young, cool, hip, new book bloggers. I am basically this gif:

Getting away from the point! Anyway, this blog meme idea is basically go to your Goodreads TBR shelf, put it in ascending order (so oldest titles first), take the first 5/10/whatever number you fancy, read the synopsis and decide whether you want to keep them or let it go?

Oh, come on! How could I not put this here?! 

Now, I checked my list and, out of the five am going to talk about, four live on my kindle and one is a physical book. So this is going to be interesting/terrifying for my kindle. Let's get this over and done with...

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

NetGalley Declined - The Revenge

Why do I keep writing these types of posts, I hear you ask. I mean, I've done them a few times before - once in 2015, second in 2016 and a third earlier this year - so why is it back again? This should be a yearly thing.

Well, I have a lot of eProofs/NetGalleys on my kindle (a few days ago, my NetGalley TBR folder [which I made recently on my kindle so I can keep up] went over 60 - insert nervous laughter here). But, I get a weird thrill when a publisher rejects me on NetGalley. It can be for a number of research - haven't got high enough score, not exactly the book blogger they want to read this, the genre of this story isn't a genre I read, etc.

But I like writing these as they show you guys several things.
- One: there are other books out there that I don't read. Go forth and discover them!
- Two: I am trying to read more widely and push myself out of my comfort zone.
- Three: And, finally, just because I am a book blogger , it doesn't mean I get every story I want to read from the publishers.

I'm going to show you all my declined NetGalleys - that would take too long - but I want to show you a tiny handful, explain why I requested it and thoughts and reactions to them now... So, let's get started!

(Little Brown/Sphere - Goodreads Link)
For most of this year, I have been on the lookout for thrillers that have an edge to them. Something that makes them standout. I have been ready for a thriller that has so many twists and "OMG!" moments. And this looks like perfectly creepy and twisty. I have seen it in shops recently and I am still tempted to go out and read this. And with winter just round the corner (we're on the home straight of leaving this ghastly season known as summer!), this might be one I have to look into...

CRAZY HOUSE by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet
(Random House/Cornerstone - Goodreads Link)
I have no idea why I requested this. I really don't. Whenever I read or attempt to read James Patterson, I end up getting hugely annoyed. He pulls the same tricks over and over and over again and it always feel like he never brings anything new to the table for me. But the idea for this intrigued me, hence why I requested it. But, you know what, dear reader? Am kinda relieved that I was declined on this one. James Patterson just doesn't work for me any more and I need to make my peace with that and move on...

(Bloomsbury/Circus - Goodreads Link
Does the cover look lovely? This is the main reason why I requested this - the cover. Plus, it had a vibe of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus (a book I read years ago and I really want to reread in the next 12 months, hopefully), which was a small bonus. And with one of the selling points being a young man's reflection comes out of a mirror and starts living his life both intrigues and terrifies me. I have fears of my reflection coming out of the mirror. And while I was a little disappointed over being declined for this, I have seen other people's reviews to this book and I sense I had a bit of a lucky escape... It's not awful, but it wouldn't live up the the Night Circus, which I had put on it.

ALL THAT SHE CAN SEE by Carrie Hope Fletcher
(Little Brown/Sphere - Goodreads Link)
I do watch Carrie's videos on YouTube and I wanted to read her latest because I'm curious. It seems to be a thing recently that publishers are publishing YouTube stars books and they feel a bit of a cash-in. But with Carrie, it felt like she's hugely passionate about writing and books. Because of this, I was curious to read this. It might not be my cup of tea (the blurb does seem a little sugary-sweet for my taste), but I do want to try new things. Plus, this book reminded mea book I read many, many years ago called The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen, which had the same gentle magic sprinkled in.

CIRCE by Madeline Miller
(Bloomsbury - Goodreads Link
I know! I KNOW! I still haven't read The Song of Achilles yet. I KNOW! And still, I went ahead and requested this. Because I got so excited to see this when I saw it on NetGalley, I requested without thinking. I have EVERY plan to read Sonf of Achilles. I will. And, hopefully, this was going to kick-start it for me. I was declined, which is probably for the best, which means now I have to find/make time to read Song of Achilles before Circe comes out next year. I WILL DO IT ... I hope...