Saturday 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve's Message

When I decided that I was going to write this blogpost (over a week or so ago), I mentally planned how I was going to write it and what I was going to say. While I still have the essance of it still in my head, I've suddenly have no idea where to start.

Let's start with the most important (and the main reason why I'm writing this). I want to say thank you.

Thank you to you, dear readers, for reading my blog.
Thank you to all the cool bloggers I have met and who have welcomed me into the world of book-blogging with open arms, big smiles and a dirty sense of humour.
Thank you to publishing houses (too many to name but all wonderful) for sending me copies of books that made me go hyper.
Thank you to my friends who had to handle me going randomly insane once in a while.
Thanks to my family (especially my mum and sister - two of the strongest women I have ever known) for being there. I love you all so much!
And thanks to the PIW - I love you. Even though I have forced books upon you (The Hunger Games, The Body Finder and, soon, The Pledge), ruined songs by either YouTube, pulling faces or changing words in songs to food (my fave is "trifle", even though I hate the stuff!) and still get confused when you say "Cod" whether you mean "Call of Duty" or the fish...

Now I have got all my thank yous out of the way, I suppose I'm meant to tell you all what is happening to The Pewter Wolf blog in the coming year. And, truth be told, I have no real idea. I have starts of ideas on what I want the blog to go in 2012 (read more scary novels, read more male authors, read more male leads, read more diversity, read more crime novels, read more on my kindle, read the books I've actually got/bought, the list is endless!), but all seem to come back to one point: be braver in reading. I'm not 100% certain what this means, but I'm going to try and figure it out, and I hope you guys will figure it out with me.

Now, before I go, I wanted to end this blog (my last of 2011) with something inspirational. I was going to use a quote from someone - Aung San Suu Kyi, The Dalai Lama, JK Rowling, even the wisest of people (aka my Mum) - but nothing seems to feel right for this moment. So, am going to write two things and then am going to ruin it. So, here we go:

1. You are extraordinary. Let no one else take that away from you. Because you are.
2. Follow your dreams and your heart will always be happy.

And now, am going to ruin it. LET'S KICK 2012 ASS!!!

Thursday 29 December 2011

GoodRead - Mistress of the Storm

This is my last review of 2011. Which a weird thing to type. I fear now that I will have to write my New Year's Eve message (might need tissues while I write it, I fear...)

Anyway, Mistress of the Storm. I came across this book via Just Imagine. Randomly, in July, I walked in and got myself a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go (and I still haven't read that! 2012! I will try!!!) and I discovered that Melanie Welsh was doing a writing group that Monday. I decided to go and, kindly, was given a copy for free. On the Monday, Melanie chatted about how she wrote Mistress of the Storm and she's lovely. I grabbed a second copy and gave it away in a contest! And I said I would read this on my holiday in Portugal with the Person I'm With (the PIW). But yet... I didn't. Fastforward several months and, after reading Fated by Sarah Alderson (next week, children. Next week...), I finally went "If I don't read this now, I never will!".

When Verity Gallant walks into Wellow's library and discover a man reading a red leather book, crying, she had no idea about the events that would unfold. That the man would give the red leather book and a strange wooden ball. That The Storm would come to dock in the little harbour town. That Verity's Grandmother (who she didn't even know existed!) come to stay. That Verity will slowly discover her family history that her father has been desperate to hide. That Verity will discover the tale of the Mistress of the Storm...

This is a little outside of my "YA" comfort-zone (this is, to me, an book within the "8 to 12 years old" bracket) and there's something nice to read something that isn't so teen-driven.

It was a wonderful read. There was something old-fashioned about it and it's nice to read about a soon-to-be-teenager, Verity, who feels out of place with the world. I think everyone feels like that when you're going through those wonderful "Teen Years".

Am trying to write this review without going into "gushy" zone, which is VERY HARD (been trying to write this on and off for the past few hours!)! I just loved this book. I found it enchanting with tales of witches, smuggling, how children see parents and vica-versa. The only fault I can think of is the term "muttered/mumbled quietly" was used quite a bit, but it's a small detail so I will forgive the author.

I just fell in love with this book. I want the sequel, Heart of Stone, as soon as possible!

Tuesday 27 December 2011

GoodRead - Vampire Academy (Audiobook)

I have been badgered to read/audiobook this for MONTHS! I think nearly for a whole year now! So, to Laura (aka SisterSpooky), Leanne (aka District YA) & Krystal (helper of Twilight Series Theories, Bookshelf Banter & other wonderful sites), IT'S DONE! I audiobooked it and listened to it TILL THE END! IT'S DONE!

... and breathe.

Right, the story. Rose and Lissa are on the run. They've been running for two years. And soon, it's gonna be over as they are taken back to St Vladimir's Academy, which is a boarding school for moroi (aka good vampires that will drink blood but won't kill the person by draining their blood completely, are alive and can use magic) and Dhampir/Guardians. Away from the evils of the world (mainly Strigoi aka bad vampires that are dead, can't use magic and will completely drain you of blood).

But St Vladimir's Academy is not a safe place. It's filled with forbidden romance and ruthless social scene. But there's something else. Something more terrifying. Someone is leaving dead animals for Lissa to find. And Rose is worried for her best friend. And now only is she worried over this and Lissa's strange friendship with outsider Christian, she's slowly getting feelings for Guardian (and her trainer) Dimitri. And both girls should be careful, cause you never know who might be watching...

Ok, before I go any further, I want to chat briefly about readers of audiobooks. In the past, I think I have mentioned that there are three types of audiobook readers. The first being a voice that you instantly go "You're perfect for this!". The second is a reader that, over the course of the book, you grow to like. And the third is a reader you can't stand. And, for a long time, I was in camp three with this audiobook. I found the way the reader - Stephanie Wolf - read Rose was just wrong. I think after an hour of listening to it the first time, I had to stop or I would have attacked my iPod. But, once I got into the flow of the story, I grew to like the way she read Rose, though there were moments I suddenly went "Oh God!" over a few things.

So, the story itself. How did I feel about it, even though vampires are no longer seen as "in"? It was ok. It was a first novel in the series so, basically, it felt like there was information overload. But once all the information was given to you, it seemed to make sense and you could go with it.

Though, I do have some problems with the main character Rose. There were times I thought she was... well, a cow. She acts on impulse (and to hell with the consequences!), is arrogant and did things that I felt were... well, cruel. I didn't really like Rose in these moments. I suppose these moments had to happen to show that she wasn't perfect, but there was one thing she did that I got angry over her for and thought "Why is Lissa even friends with you?! You're horrible!"

However, by the end of the story, I kinda like her. She's loyal, bold and is courageous.

Maybe I'm being too hard on Rose and the whole story. I might read/listen to the sequel, Frostbite, expect that they change reader (for Frostbite, it's Kristine Hvam) and I kinda hate it when they change readers in the audiobook series. Also, I can't understand why Vampire Academy audiobook is £7.95 and yet Frostbite is £10.95. What weird logic is that?!

This is the first in a series so it has to lay down the fountains for this series, hence my unsureness about it. Maybe Frostbite will put me on if I like it or not. But I feel in the middle-ground. It was ok, but there were a few things that bothered me and, if I do go read/audiobook Frostbite, I hope these things are sorted out...

Monday 26 December 2011

Taylor Swift is on the Hunger Games soundtrack...?

No SMILE blog this week (to give you guys a nice Christmas break), but last week, interesting news reach the world of Twitter.

Taylor Swift revealed on Twitter that she will be release a song entitled "Safe and Sound" with The Civil Wars. And this is the first single from the Hunger Games soundtracks. AND HERE IT IS!

What are your reactions to this piece of news and music? I always a score for The Hunger Games movie but, after listening to it, I quite like it. But am not sure I understand why Liongate is releasing songs for a dystopian movie...

Saturday 24 December 2011

GoodRead - The Night Before Christmas

We all should know the story of Twas The Night Before Christmas. But how many of us actually know it and not only the first few lines?

So when I bought this for my sister (it's a surprise! SSSSHHHH!!! [she's 2 years older than me and is far more awesome than I]), I decide to read through it and stare at the illustrations by Eric Puybaret.

They are beautiful. Yep, I said it. One of my fave illustrations (which I can't show you because Google doesn't like me and I don't want to use my iPhone to take a picture) is of Father Christmas in his sleigh, calling on his reindeer to "Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!". The reindeer are wearing top hats and bowler hats! I got very excited over this and the PIW (Person I'm With...) had to take the book away from me.

This book comes with a CD, that had three tracks from the Grammy winners Peter, Paul and Mary. Just three tracks, I'm afraid. But they are lovely and Christmasy (is that even a word?).

But this is enchanting. I can't believe I haven't read this till in my mid-twenties (yes, I am VERY behind the times!), but this is simply enchanting.


Tuesday 20 December 2011

GoodRead - Dark Parties

Earlier this year, I went to the launch party of Indigo and four authors were there, chatting about their books. One of which was Sara Grant, whose debut novel, Dark Parties was going to be published in October. And it was a book I wanted to read. It got me very excited. And Indigo had to push it back to late December/early January due to events that were out of their control. Which got me slightly annoyed me. But then I suddenly thought, "Hang on! I can read this before it comes out!" (am writing this the first week of December, FYI!).

So, here we are. With two days before this book comes out and here we go...

Under the Protectosphere, Neva and her friends hold a Dark Party. It's illegal to throw one. In the darkness, they agree to start a small rebellion. Expect, in the dark, someone kisses Neva. Someone who happens to be her best friend's boyfriend. And all the while, Neva has been keeping a list of the Missing - people who vanish and everyone else pretends they never existed. Including Neva's grandmother.

In the quest for truth and freedom, how far will Neva go? And will she ever escape from the dark?

Now, I have to say this from the word go. If you are expecting a dystopian novel like Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games and Vernoica Roth's Divergent, this isn't it. It's more, to me, like Matched by Ally Condie. It's much slower in pace, but there is something completely gripping about this book.

What I loved about this book is Neva and all the other characters know that there's something wrong. They aren't like other characters from dystopian novels where it slowly dawns on them that something's wrong. Neva knows from the word go that's something wrong and something has to be done. She's very pro-active about finding out the truth and trying (not going to say if she got it or not... in the words of River Song, "Spoilers") to get freedom.

Now, I know there will be a few people going "But the dome thing... it's been done before. Under The Dome by Stephen King. The Simpsons' movie." and yes, I saw that too. But this was much more interesting. While in the previous two took place and people had to cope with it, the Protectosphere has be up for years and we saw the effects this had to people as no one could enter or leave. No materials could enter or leave. No new ideas could enter or leave. And because of this, everything is a hand-me-down, history can easily be rewritten and erased (when Neva and her best friend, Sanna discovered the word "globalization", they instantly thought it was a disease) and people are getting sicker and are looking more and more similar. There was one scene that shocked me about this idea of people becoming more and more similar when Neva and Sanna see a statue of one of the founding fathers of the Protectosphere and we were told that he had blue eyes and it was shocking to realise that no one who lives under the Protectosphere has blue or green eyes. That seemed the most shocking thing. And that was in a throw-away comment...!

Now, the whole Neva/Braydon/Sanna love triangle... I don't want to say much but there was one point where I got very angry. So angry, I ranted about it on GoodReads (don't click if you don't want to be spoiled!) then ranted at my other half, the PIW. And it's not the scene you guys are probably thinking... I'm not going to reveal much. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not sure I can say anything at all!

I guess I should say the bad about this. There are times when you might go "Really?" or "That seems a bit two dimensional" and yes, I felt like that, but I fell for this story. I thought it was gripping and I was hooked by it. I want more (even though I tweeted Sara and she said this is a standalone, but the seeds are there so you never know...)!

At the Indigo event, Sara kindly signed my copy. It reads "Make Your Mark". Oh, Sara, this book is your mark! I can't wait to see what you write next...

Thursday 15 December 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone MOVIE NEWS

Yesterday, news was revealed that the movie rights for Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE was snapped up by Universal after a fierce bidding war with Paramount. Twitter went nuts with this news and this morning, Hodder sent the following press release:


Los Angeles, CA, December 14, 2011 — Universal Pictures announced today that it has acquired the worldwide rights to the celebrated fantasy novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone written by Laini Taylor. A highly sought after property in Hollywood, the book was
published this September and is the first in a trilogy. Universal’s Co-Presidents of
Production Peter Cramer and Jeff Kirschenbaum made the announcement.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was released in over 25 countries to critical acclaim and has been one of the most well-received books of the year. Honours include Top Ten Books of 2011, Publishers Weekly Best Books 2011 and the New York Times Notable Books of 2011.

The novel has also been hailed by UK critics – the Guardian called it, “Remarkable and beautifully written… The opening volume of a truly original trilogy.” And the Sunday Telegraph said, “For once the frenzy over a teen novel is justified. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is one of those books that blots out reality, so consumed do you become in its fantasy world.”

At the news of the acquisition, Laini Taylor said, “My goal is always to write stories that readers will want to climb inside of and live in, and which – I hope – will allow them to just lose themselves in the page. It is a hugely thrilling prospect to think about Universal and filmmakers translating my world onscreen and giving it a second life in such a grand way. I’m over the moon.”

Jane Putch, Taylor’s manager and producing partner, said, “Taylor is a stunning visual writer, whose superbly developed characters shape a plot filled with intrigue, epic wars, love, betrayal and ‘teeth.’ I can’t wait to see her world on screen!”

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton. The second book in the trilogy will be published in September 2012.

Taylor is managed by her producing partner, Jane Putch of Eyebait Licensing & Management. Attorney Peter Nelson of Nelson David Wetzstein oversaw the acquisition.

About Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios ( Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Walker Books Blogger Event

On Saturday, a few bloggers and I gathered outside a pub - The Coach and Horses pub - on a very cold morning and getting quite excited. Because we were invited to a Blogger Event organised by Walker Books as part of their YA section, UNDERCOVER READS! It was lovely to be invited as I haven't been on their radar for long. Plus it was lovely to meet up with all the awesome blogggers again, as they are awesome.

So, treated to tea, finger sandwiches and cakes, we all sat down and got told some exciting books that Walker are publishing under their Undercover range (which is continuing into 2012 as it was so popular and successful in 2011). Jack told us the interesting story on how a cover for upcoming novel, Daylight Saving, and on the idea on how the countdown (see below) came into existence. And, with that, Edward Hogan (author of Daylight Saving and two adult novels, Blackmoor and The Hunger Trace) talked about how he wrote Daylight Saving (by accident and from one scary experience when he was ten and at Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest [thanks. Am going there in the next few months...])

So, not going to talk about all the books, but here are a few that I think you should keep your eyes and ears open for:

DAYLIGHT SAVING by Edward Hogan - a thriller ghost story set in a Center Parcs-like setting. The cover is below (it's basically the timer with a cool watery effect) and I am very excited about this. I want books that will have me on the edge of my seat, and this sounds perfect! I NEED to read this book!

BODY BLOW by Peter Cocks - the second book in the Eddie Savage series. I am ashamed to say I do have the prequel, Long Reach, in my To Read pile. And this sounds like a gripping tale that will praise Alex Rider fans with its dark grit.

FROSTBITE by Zoe Marriott - If I didn't write briefly about this, I sense Laura from SisterSpooky and Leanne from District YA would get very angry at me. There was shock when I told people that I hadn't read Zoe's first novel, Shadows of the Moon. So much so (from both Walker Books and every blogger), one member of Walker (I think it was Ruth) thrust a copy in my hands and ordered me to read it when I can find the time. But this is dark fantasy that tackles love triangles, war and racial identity. This actually might be something I could read...

It was lovely and exciting to hear of cool books to come and I would like to thank everyone from Walker for inviting me. I would like to thank Edward for coming and chatting about Daylight Saving and thank you to everyone who come as it was such a fun morning!


PS - was I the only one who thought that one of the Walkers' ladies looked like the singer Sia?
PPS - In future, Carly (from Writing In The Tub) and myself are dangerous together. Just dangerous...

Tuesday 13 December 2011

GoodRead - Entralled

I went to the Harper Collins Bloggers event earlier this year and I didn't get my hands on this. So, was kindly sent a copy (thanks Rosi!) and enjoyed reading these paranormal short stories.

Now, there was only two reasons why I wanted this book: Kimberly Derting and Ally Condie. I know, pretty lame reasons, but I love this authors so I had to read these!

Now, the idea behind this collection of short stories is interested. In the US, these authors were involved in a tour called Smart Chick Kick It where authors organised and toured, talking about their kiss-ass heroines and writing. And, to keep the tour experience alive for people who went (or couldn't go), they decided to write a anthology with the theme of road trips, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong.

Now, as this is a collection of short stories, the first thing you have to be aware is that not every story is going to appeal to you. It's very much a mixed-bag. You have stories about fairies, vampires, angels, zombies, angels and goodness knows what else! But, I think it's kinda important to, sometimes, read outside your comfort-zone and read authors that you weren't aware of. You might discover little gems in there...

And I did. I read them in order (which you don't have to, but as I was going to review this, I felt I had to) and it is very interesting to see where the writers went with the theme "road trips".

Now, here is a major problem with this collection of shorts. There are sixteen stories in this collection and around nine of them were linked to the series the writers are writing or a follow-up to another short story in another anthology. Not that I'm saying that's a bad thing, but if you are unaware of the series in question, you might have a "Huh?" moments.

But I found several stories I like, so (because this is my blog so I can) here is five randomly-picked stories I thought "whoa!" over (in book order):

1. RED RUN by Kami Garcia - I know of the Beautiful Creatures series for a while, though never read it. So I read this and couldn't help thinking how gothic it was.
2. THINGS ABOUT LOVE by Jackson Pearce - this is linked to her debut, As You Wish but this was nice story where there was a male lead (yeah) and he was gay and it wasn't a big deal (HURRAH!!!). I would date Lawrence in a heartbeat. Just saying...
3. BRIDGE by Jeri Smith-Ready - Now, I have read Shade and I thought it was ok. But this was an interesting thing to add to the series. And as the story was told in verses (like a song), this was one of the fastest shorts I read!
4. SKIN CONTACT by Kimberly Derting - I love Kimberly! I just love her! And this story, an extra to her Body Finder series (again, with a male lead! How rare in YA paranormal!) got me very excited. And it made me want to read the next book in the series or her new book, The Pledge...
5. LEAVING by Ally Condie - I know some of you guys have mixed feelings about Matched, but I liked it. A lot. And this was another story set in a dystopian future. This was one of the only stories I wished was longer!

This is a mixed bag but there are little gems in here. You juts have to look for them...

Friday 9 December 2011

YA Readers (As Reported By Channel 4 News)

On Wednesday, Channel 4 News (produced my ITN) did a small report on YA genre in books, stating where as adult fiction has decreased in UK sales, YA books have increased.

Here is the report in question.

PS - am going to say nothing about the reporter just "putting" Twilight back on the shelf. WRONG PLACE! WRONG FLIPPING PLACE!!!

Thursday 8 December 2011

GoodRead - The Book Of Blood And Shadow

Originally, I wasn't going to read this book. When I first heard of this book, it didn't push my buttons. It didn't get me excited. But then the UK publishers, Atom, asked if I would be involved in a blog tour for this book. I said yes, but knew that if I wanted to take part, I would have to read and review the book. I didn't want to agree to something and go "Read this!" if I haven't read it nor liked it. So, that's how I got my hands on a copy.

But isn't that what book reviewers/bloggers do? Read books that are outside they comfort-zone?

Anyway, the story. Nora Kane joins a translation project to unravel a 700 year old book along with other clasicists. So, imagine her outrage when she was given the "girly" task to translate the letters of the author's daughter, Elizabeth Weston. Expect, the more she translates Elizabeth's letters, the more Nora becomes fascinated with her life. And with her busy friend Chris dating Adriane and her budding relationship with Max, Nora has her life under control.

Until Nora finds Chris murdered. Until Nora discovers Adriabe has appeared to have lost her mind. Until Nora discovered Max has vanished into thin air, making him the Police prime suspect in Chris's murder.

But Max couldn't have done it. Could he? Slowly, Nora tries to make sense of what has happened and it seems that the reasons - and the answers - she seek are in Elizabeth Weston's letters...

Now, this book has been described as "The Secret History by Donna Tartt or The Lessons by Naomi Alderman meets The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown". So, already, there's a high standard. So, will it live to the hype that surrounds this book?

Yes, it does. I was surprised on how quickly I fell into this book and this strange world of Latin and universities and then, suddenly, how it switches to murder, Prague, secret societies and the Lumen Dei (you have to read the book to find out what that is). And it's also surprising how smart this book is. There were times I read this that I feared that the book would come across "too smart" and, I think, this only happened once or twice with me, but it was over very little things.

Don't get me wrong. This book is good! But it's flawed too. Some of you guys won't like it as it's slow going. It took over 100 pages (in my copy) for something to happen and it kinda does this all the way through the book until the end where everything falls into place. And there were several occasions that I felt that it went a bit flat. Sometimes it was characters, other times it was dialogue but it always picked itself up within a few paragraphs (I says this as my copy was a draft so this might be changed in the real version).

This is a very smart read, even when it goes into the realms of secret societies. I'm just fascinated on how much research the author, Robin Wasserman, did as (according to her Acknowledgements and Afterword) she talks about Elizabeth Weston, Edward Kelley, Don Giulio & Rabbi Judah Loew Ben Bezalel and the Voynich Manuscript and explains that they were real and briefly explains them to us.

While this book won't be everyone's cup of tea, but this is one smart read to start 2012 and I will be very intrigued over Robin Wasserman write next...

Tuesday 6 December 2011

GoodRead - Clockwork Prince

Ruth from Walker Books is lovely. She kindly sent me an copy of Clockwork Prince (which was great as I finished Clockwork Angel with Mundie Moms a few weeks earlier). This book, also, was my first book that was embargoed. Which means I couldn't talk about it. Or tweet my reactions over scenes. Or write little notes on Goodreads to refresh my memory over something awesome or "WTF! Cassie Clare, HOW COULD YOU?!". So, even though it sounds very simple, it's bloody hard. But worth it!

The second book in the Infernal Devices trilogy, Clockwork Prince practically starts within days of Clockwork Angel, Tessa Gray is still coming to terms that demons, vampires and her mysterious history. With the future of the the London Institute's leadership under threat, Tessa with Shadowhunters (and parabatai), Will and Jem go to the Yorkshire Institute for information on the history and, hopefully, the location of the Magister and her brother, Nate.

But as the story unfolds, so does Tessa feelings for both Will and Jem. So, she has to make a decision about this love triangle. But love is dangerous, when it's been revealed that one of their own has betrayed them...

Now, I found Clockwork Angel an odd creature. I was stepping into a world I already knew but, for Tessa, it was new and terrifying. So, it took a few chapters to get your head round that and how being in Victorian London is different than modern day New York. But Clockwork Prince, it was wonderful. I slipped into it very quickly and speed through the chapters with some excitement of what will happen next and the clues that will be unearthed. This felt more like a mystery (and I do like a good mystery).

And as for the love triangle. Well... it doesn't get easier. I know reviewers (like SisterSpooky and District YA) who, with every chapter, kept changing Teams. I feel like I am a Team Jem but who knows as Clockwork Princess is out next year so there's still time...

I'm trying not to reveal too much as I don't want to spoil it for anyway, but this book doesn't suffer from "Middle Book Syndrome". It stands up for itself and tells the story strongly and give us character development and plot twists after plot twist that felt me going "What? What?! WHAT?!".

Speaking of plot twists, Cassandra Clare seems to have this down to a fair art now. Just when you seem to have your head round a plot point or a character, Cassandra always pulls the rug from under you and you have to get to grips with this new revelations and they don't stop till the very last sentence (am I not joking here!).

This is probably my favourite book in the Infernal Devices & Mortal Instruments that I have read so far (am going to read City of Fallen Angels with Mundie Moms next Read-A-Long) and I can not wait for, what I think will be, the stunning yet heartbreaking conclusion, Clockwork Princess.

Monday 5 December 2011

Thursday 1 December 2011

GoodRead - Reaper


In this special novella, Rachel Vincent writes from Tod's (Nash's older brother) point of view. Now, Tod is a teenager who likes girls, food, sports and tolerate his brother. He has his whole life ahead of him. And with his bean sidhe (aka banshee) heritage, that's gonna last a long time, indeed.

But that was before the car accident happened.

Tod, then, has to make a choice. Life? Death? Or somewhere in the middle?

Now, this is very much a novella for the fans, just like Rachel's other novella, My Soul to Lose. Whereas My Soul To Lose is classed (by GoodReads) as a prequel to the first novel in the Soul Screamers series, My Soul to Take, this is classed as 3.5 in the series (aka between My Soul To Keep and My Soul To Steal) and this is the perfect place to read this. Even though this does go into Tod's past and there is hints of "this is a prequel!" about it, it answers questions that I am sure readers of the Soul Screamers series want to know...

Now, I haven't read this series and my copy of My Soul To Take (book 1 in the series) is waiting patiently in my To Be Read pile and I do plan on reading this and a few other books by Mira Ink (mostly by my Kindle, I hope!), but I do feel like this was interesting. Maybe this will help get me into the series. It's all about timing... we'll see.

Here is a video for the third book in the Soul Screamers series, My Soul to Keep. And I will give you 5 housepoints if you can spot the mistake!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

GoodRead - Summons

This was free on Kindle. That's the only reason I read this. And I think this came onto my radar as I saw Sarah from Feeling Fictional add it to her To Read pile on Goodreads.

Eliza is sixteen and gets herself into a situation she can't stop (won't go into it now). So, remembering her mother's tales, she calls on the Goblin King to save her...

I don't really want to say more than that as this is very much a prequel to the real book, The Goblin King. And this was a ok read. It did feel like a warm-up to the main story and it lay down the fountains to the book as this is a prequel (in a sense) to a trilogy (The Goblin King, Kiss of the Goblin Prince & For the Love of a Goblin Warrior) although this is a prequel to The Goblin King as it shows how Eliza and the Goblin King, Roan, first met when she was sixteen while The Goblin King is set when Eliza is twenty-five and on the verge of getting married...

There are faults and I have read them on other people's reviews ("The guy on the cover looks NOTHING like Roan", "Why did Eliza react the way she did in that situation? She was in her own house!" or "How did Eliza know that her summons would work?", etc) but this is a fast read. Not sure if I will read The Goblin King but I will keep my eyes peeled, just in case...

Tuesday 29 November 2011

GoodRead - Supernaturally

I think I made a tiny mistake when I got this. I got this on my kindle a few months ago so I think I got this from the US publisher, HarperTeen, and not the UK publisher, HarperCollins. Sorry about that. But it's so hard to tell when you're buying on the Kindle (unless you are super careful, which I'm not) if you're getting the right version. Oh well, I made a mistake and I only realised it. DON'T HATE ME, HARPERCOLLINS UK!!!

In the second book to the Paranormalcy trilogy, Evie has left the International Paranormal Containment Agency to have a normal life, to wait for the weekends where she can spend them with her shapeshifter boyfriend, Lend, and go to school, have her own locker and try to survive gym.

Expect real life is... well, normal. And boring. So when Raquel appears in her life again and asks if Evie would considering returning to the IPCA as a freelance agent, she's tempted. But as she slowly revisits her former life, she notices that something is wrong... But are the fey really behind it?

I read this very quickly. Within 5 days (though I didn't read it on one of these five days so, technically, I read it within 4). And, because I read this so quickly, I might have missed clues and humour which I know must have been there but I missed. But I still felt the book's flirtiness and hints of humour. It was there! But there weren't as many moments where I snickered compared to when I read Paranormalcy.

I don't want to say this book suffered from Second Book Syndrome, but some people who loved Paranormalcy might think it has. There were moments where you could "Really?" on certain situations. But once you get your head round the situation that Evie finds herself in, it made sense. It did with me as Kiersten White hits the ground running with why Evie considers and accepts the position at IPCA so it made sense to me.

But it was the humour and the mystery that made me enjoy this story. We met a new character, Jack, who injects a huge amount of humour into the story and once the story kicks it up a gear, it felt like the fast read.

While it didn't have the same "wow" factor that Paranormalcy had, this is a nice fast read and I will intrigued to see how Evie and Lend's story ends in Endlessly (and I still don't get you Reth shippers out there... I just don't see it!)

Friday 25 November 2011

Atom Books Bloggers Event

On Wendesday just gone, I went to Atom Books HQ for a Book Bloggers event. I have special place in my heart for Atom as, this time last year, they invited to me to my first EVER book bloggers event! And here I was again, a year later!

But, before that, I met up with Laura from SisterSpooky, Leanne from District YA & Clover for Fluttering Butterflies for a quick coffee in Starbucks. It was nice to chat up with Laura and Leanne since I last met them at Cassandra Clare event and it was lovely to finally meet Clover (though I fear Laura, Leanne and I scared her. SORRY!!!)

And then we walked inside and met so many other bloggers! All who are lovely and awesome and the names I know and have forgotten (I am that kinda person! Sorry everyone!) But hello Stacey, Carly, Joanna, Rhys, Bella, Vivienne, Lynsey & Matt and everyone else I forgot!

So, after we mingled, chatted and stole food and drinks, the lovely ladies of Atom (is it wrong I want to call them the A Team?) told us about the exciting new books they have planned for next year! This includes chatting about books such as 172 Hours on The Moon, Under a Never Sky, The Book of Blood And Shadow (which I have read [review coming soon...] and I kept called The Book of Smoke and Bone [thanks Laini Taylor!] and other very exciting books while having authors C.J. Daugherty & Sara Manning chatting about their novels, Night School and ADorkAble.

So, after swooning over books (mine was Night School [though I forgot it was coming out so soon!], Under A Never Sky and, much to my surprise, 172 Hours On The Moon [sounds completely chilling! Perfect as I want scary reads!]), we went out and chatted some more. Randomly chatted to Sara about knitting (most of it went over my head but she's lovely!) and discovered that the term ADorkAble is being used in a US TV show called The New Girl (Sue them, Sara! SUE!!!) and Laura, Leanna and I might have scared C.J. Daugherty about being a debut novelist, the hyper round the book in the USA and how Twitter/GoodReads are wonderful (and she didn't seem scared of us...).

It was a fun yet random book evening where chat turned to Breaking Dawn movie, Laura (without me knowing) asking when the next Tom Clempson book is out (2013), why we saw no news of Andrea Cremer Bloodrose (Because it was time new authors shine) and backing Lynsey as we went "PLEASE buy the UK rights to Hourglass by Myra McEntire!" (They looked at it but heard radio silence. Will double check for us!).

So, I want to thank Atom again for inviting me. You guys rock!

Actually, seeing as Atom were so lovely in invited me, I managed to get some books (with their permission. NEVER STEAL, KIDS!)that I want to give away to you. So, I am doing a random competition where there will be 3 WINNERS, each winning one book each. The books are BREAKING DAWN by Stephenie Meyer, MONSTER HIGH 3: WHERE THERE'S A WOLF, THERE'S A WAY by Lisi Harrison and TRAPPED by Michael Northrop! Will randomly choose who gets what book (via as I want this to be truly a surprise for all the winners! If you fancy entering a winning a book, fill in the form below!

Good luck and thank you, again, to Atom for inviting me! :)

LoveFood - River Cottage

Friday's LoveFood comes from a friend of mine, Jess. She's a total foodie - even more than me! She was very kind to take part in this (as I know how busy she is!) and for that, I thank her! If you want to check out her blog (tad outdated, but still... and rumour has it a new blog is on the way...) go to Here, Jess chats about River Cottage and simple vegetarian recipes that she hopes you will like...

So, this is my contribution to Andy's Love Food Blog week. Andy asked me to write an entry as he knows I am a massive food fan! My main obsession is River Cottage and the whole growing your own and eating off your own land kinda thing. For the last five years I have been collecting the books, watching the series and growing my own food and experimenting with my own home grown veg. I even went to the trouble of going to Jimmy's Food Festival last year and queuing as early as I can to run to the River Cottage tent to get my signed book.... yes LOSER, I know! But I just can't get enough of it!

My top three RC books to get inspiration from is the 'River Cottage Everyday', 'River Cottage Veg Everyday' and the 'River Cottage Family Cookbook'. My boyfriend and I even tried to go veggie during the current series of River Cottage Veg Everyday that is on Channel 4 at the moment, it lasted 2 weeks. It is just so difficult to find the time to cook the meals from the recipes out of the book, although some are easy, it just takes much longer than cooking a hunk of meat or fish. As a veterinary nurse, I spend a good 45 hours or more at work and with two puppies of my own, it is just physically impossible to spend that much time in the kitchen in the evenings, if I did I wouldn't have dinner until 9/10pm! Although the good thing that came out of it is that we eat a lot less meat at home and try to make at least 3 veggie meals a week.

So on that note, here are three simple vegetarian recipes (that can be converted into meat feasts) I have created, that have been tried and tested with the approval of others:

Baked Camembert Fondue with crudités (and steak)
 Camembert (must be the ones in the wooden boxes)
 1 whole garlic clove
 Carrots
 Celery
 Broccoli
 and any other vegetables you wish to dip in the fondue
 Steak (optional)
 bread (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c
2. Take the Camembert out of any plastic packaging and if the box has gaps in it put tin foil at the bottom of the box and put the Camembert back in.
3. Use a knife and score in the middle of the Camembert and stick the whole clove of garlic in, then put the lid of the box back on and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese goes all ooey and gooey.
4. Steam any of the vegetables that need it e.g. broccoli. And cut the other vegetables into finger size pieces.
5. (optional) cook the steak to how you like it, slice into thin slices.
6. Serve with any breads etc.

Garden Omelette with goats cheese
This recipe works best in the spring/summer when everything is at its best in the garden. Alternatively use any thing ripe and fresh preferably from a farm shop or green grocers (it tastes much fresher and has more flavour)
 whatever you have in the garden that is ripe
 eggs (2 per person)
 pinch smoked paprika
 30 ml milk or 1 Tbs cream
 soft goats cheese
 salt and pepper to taste

1. Beat the eggs with the milk/cream and smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
2. In a frying pan on low-med heat, gently fry all your veg, until soft
3. put the egg in, and gently heat. Making sure its not too hot otherwise the bottom will burn and the top will be raw.
4. Once the omelette looks like the bottom is solid, crumble some goats cheese on top and place under a hot grill.
5. Serve with any garden flowers (such as pansy's, nasturtium, marigold petals etc.) and a piece of toasted bread or a side salad.

In the omelette I made in the photo. I used garlic, tomatoes, chillies and topped it off with edible pansy's and salad I had in the garden.

Thursday 24 November 2011

LoveFood - Thanksgiving With Emma

As part of my LoveFood week, Emma from the awesome Book Angel Booktopia wanted to take part over the "Dream Thanksgiving Dinner". And seeing as today is Thanksgiving in the USa, we both thought today would be perfect!


Having lived in Philadelphia for a year I love the idea of Thanksgiving, just being taking the time to express gratitude for certain things and people that have had an impact on my life, what better way than to have a dinner party with terrific people and wonderful food. Check out my fantasy Dinner Party Guest List at Serendipity Reviews today.

As my guest
list would fill a hall I decided the best way to go with Thanksgiving dinner is
a Thanksgiving Themed Buffet, so we can all stand about, mingle and book chat - YAY.

I am addicted to watching ahref="">The Food Network and scour the recipe ideas online from there. So that is where I went to look for ideas for the Thanksgiving Buffet. And I will admit that I got completely distracted by all the lovely recipes on there.

Obviously there would be a golden roasted turkey and glistening glazed ham. 


Roasted Butter Herb Turkey           Roast
Ham with Apple Glaze

And not forgetting the vegetarians:


I haven’t actually come across Tofurkey anywhere else but in the US. I just like the name of it – such a fun word to say Tofurkey, lol. But I am sure if this isn’t up to the discerning tastes of vegetarian guests then they will be wowed by the selection of salad and side dishes. My stomach is growling as I am writing this post and my mouth is drooling.
Goes to search for food.

Remembers why I no longer eat the school dinners. Back to dream about
deliciousness [ : D ]


Spinach Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

Macaroni and Mozzarella Salad

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Green Beans with Garlic Chips

Mashed Potato Salad   

Lemony Coleslaw


Stuffing Bites

Baked Hush Puppies (because I just love the name)

Southern Cornbread

Parkerhouse Rolls


And for the Desserts:

Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies  

Caramel Apple Bars

Pecan Dreams (again cos what a fantastic name for food)

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

And I am sure that the lovely Laura aka SisterSpooky could be persuaded to bring along some of the gorgeous chocolates she makes in her day job.


For the recipes go here

I am hoping to have a little Thanksgiving for my girls this year to show how much I appreciate them. I think they will want the desserts and possibly the bread but not the salad lol. 

Wednesday 23 November 2011

LoveFood - Kids with Multiple Allergies

As part of LoveFood week, the lovely Laura Clempson from Cupcakes for Clara (@cupcakes4clara) talk about food allergies that affect her children and give helpful advice and a recipe that sounds delicious! I want to thank Laura for taking part and telling us her story.


I have two kids. They each have three allergies. Dairy, soya, and eggs.

We discovered their allergies when they were each about eight weeks old (they are three, and one now), and it was a tough job to get the doctors to even believe us. It started with colic, then screaming, tummy aches, projectile vomiting, and then nappies full of blood. We knew something wasn’t right, but the doctors kept insisting it was a virus. Numerous tests later, and a couple of nights in hospital, I suggested it could be a dairy allergy. It was agreed that it might be, and as I was breastfeeding the answer was for me to cut all dairy from my diet. And I mean all – even traces. And you know what, within a few days their symptoms disappeared. The soya and egg allergies appeared after that, but once I cut them out we had our happy contented babies back.

So, I (the only one in the family with no allergies) went dairy, soya, egg, and nut free for two years – one year whilst feeding each baby. I struggled to find anything safe to eat at first, but we soon found our way, and it became second nature. We learnt that…

- Oat milk is great in tea, as long as you add a bit of sugar. Rice milk not so much.
- Bananas make the perfect substitute for eggs in cake. As long as you like bananas! If not apple or apricot puree work too.
- Soya is in EVERYTHING. That is a tough one to avoid, especially eating out. Ask places if they use rapeseed oil instead – a lot do.
- You should never believe people when they say food is ‘allergy free’. I once had a friend insist that the meal was dairy free, and when I enquired what was in it she said ‘cheese – but that’s not dairy is it?’
- Going without chocolate is so tough but…

Through trial and error we have come up with a fantastic dairy, soya, and egg free chocolate cake recipe. And the kids LOVE it – I think it makes them feel a bit more normal. Want to hear it?

12 chocolate cupcakes:
200g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
200g sunflower spread
2 level teaspoons of baking powder
200g fruit puree
2 tablespoons 100% cocoa powder

Mix until nice & fluffy. Divide into 12 cake cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 150ºC. Voila!

We found How To Cook for Food Allergies by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne super helpful, and is a must for anyone with allergies. Happy baking!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

LoveFood - All Things Sweet!

Day 2 of this week's LoveFood and here we have Laura aka SisterSpooky (this is her blog! Ta-Dah!). She was so kind and did a YouTube video where she chatted about food and all this sweet!

Thank you Laura! So very kind of you!

Monday 21 November 2011

LoveFood - The Smile Edition

Let's start LoveFood week with something that will, hopefully, make you smile and never look at Masterchef in the same way, EVER AGAIN!

Sunday 20 November 2011

I'VE BEEN QUOTED! *faints with shock*



And here are the two books in question:

Now, this is HUGE FOR ME! STUPIDLY BIG! I adore both Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson and the first two books in the Tiger's Saga by Colleen Houck (will read the third soon! [Thanks Bella from Cheezy Feet Books for giving me her copy! She knows how I LOVE this series!]) so the fact that Sarah put my reaction on her website and Hodder put my words on the "Praise" page of Tiger's Voyage is a WONDERFUL honour! Just wonderful! I am thrilled and honoured. And I wanted to show you my excitement/shock/disbelief/honoured-ness to you all!

Saturday 19 November 2011

Are Fairy Tales Next Year's Big Thing?

I have been thinking this for a while now, but I was wondering if fairy tales will be next year's trend in the world of YA fiction? I know that dystopia novels have become popular this years (thanks to the huge success of The Hunger Games) and I do believe that this will continue over the course of 2012, but I am wondering if retellings of fairy tales will be fighting it out for a place in our bookshelves (as well as in our DVD collections and on our TVs).

Apart from the novels by Jackson Pearce (the hugely successful Sisters Red and Sweetly) and the movies Red Riding Hood (directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starring Amanda Seyfield) and Beastly (from the novel by Alex Flinn and starring Alex Pettyfer & Vanessa Hudgens) which most people feels was less than desired, 2012 seem to be the year that we're getting retold fairy tales more in our faces...

Both Universal Studios and Relativity Media are going head-to-head in their retelling of Snow White. While Relativity Media's Mirror Mirror seems to take a the whimsical and comedic look at the fairy tale, Universal's Snow White And The Huntsman goes down a dark, almost Lord of the Rings (and this movie is rumoured to be a start of a trilogy...) And we are still awaiting news about Disney's live action story of Maleficent, the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty and the mysterious The Order Of The Seven, Disney's reboot of Snow White set in China in the 19th century (no news on whether this film will be live action, animated or CGI)...

Not only is the battle being fought at the cinemas, but TV is also a battleground. Two of the biggest US TV networks are using "fairy tales in the real world" ideas. ABC has Once Upon A Time, a fantasy drama, while NBC has Grimm, a cop show that has characters inspired from the Grimm Fairy Tales. Both of these shows are rumoured to be coming to the UK, but no news on which channel has picked them up [EDIT: Grimm is rumoured to be going to the channel Watch. Once Upon A Time still hasn't been confirmed, though I suspect either Channel 4 or Channel 5.]

Now, do I think this will be the big thing for next year? I'm not sure. I will be intrigued to see if this has staying power. When vampires was the big thing, it lasted for several years as did magic (thank you Harry Potter and Twilight) and while we seem to be in the grip of dystopia, it will be very interesting to see fairy tales spark the imagination for both children and adults...

Friday 18 November 2011

Books And Their Theme Songs (Volume 9)

It's November, which means one thing: another "Books And Their Theme Songs post! And this is the ninth! Am shocked I have the patience with this to have kept going this far. But, I do like doing these blog post as I get excited over the song choices I chose for each book and see if my view of the song has stayed the same or has change.

Enough of the talk. Let's listen to the music!

MIDWINTERBLOOD by Marcus Sedgwick
"Heart On Fire" by Scars On 45

SILENCE by Becca Fitzpatrick
"Beautiful Disaster" by Kelly Clarkson

THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab
"Cumulus" by Imogen Heap and "What The Water Gave Me" by Florence + The Machine

HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire
"Replaced" by Kate McGill & cover of "Replaced" by Ben Munson (WithLove44)

THE DEAD WAYS by Christopher Edge
"Circle Of Fire" by Kenneth Zink (inspired by Michelle Zink's trilogy)

CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare
"For You" by Angus and Julia Stone

THORN IN MY SIDE by Karin Slaughter
"You Love Me" and "Don't Be A Girl About It" by Kelly Clarkson

LOVE STRUCK by Melissa Marr
"By Chance" by Sophie Ellis Bextor

Thursday 17 November 2011


Press Release
17th November 2011 ~ For Immediate Release
Angry Robot announces new YA imprint, Strange Chemistry

Angry Robot, the award-winning publisher of SF, F and WTF are pleased to announce their newest venture – a sister imprint, Strange Chemistry, which will publish Young Adult genre fiction.

The imprint will launch in September 2012, with five titles appearing before the end of that year, before settling down to one book each month. Strange Chemistry will follow AR’s strategy of co-publishing its books simultaneously in the US and UK, in both eBook and paperback formats. Subject matter will include fantasy, science fiction, supernatural and horror, and as with Angry Robot the lines between those genres are likely to be very blurry at times.

Running the imprint will be Amanda Rutter, until recently best known as the tireless blogger behind genre review site, Floor-to-Ceiling Books. She takes up her position in Angry Robot’s headquarters in Nottingham on December 12th.

Angry Robot’s managing director Marc Gascoigne said: “The key to any truly successful genre imprint is the personality of its editors. In Amanda we’ve found the perfect mix of editing skills and wild, wild enthusiasm for the subject. Her first signings are already making us jump up and down in excitement. We’re beyond delighted to welcome her to the team.”

Amanda Rutter commented, “Angry Robot have quickly become one of the most exciting and challenging genre publishers around, and I have so much admiration for the types of novels that the guys are bringing to the world of speculative fiction. I’m absolutely thrilled that I have the opportunity to join the team, and create a list full of Young Adult novels that share the same sharpness and passion as those in the AR list.”

More information can be found at and You can meet Amanda at floor-to-ceilingbooks.

Angry Robot is a new genre publisher, bringing readers the best in new SF, F and
WTF?! All titles are released as paperbacks and in all major eBook formats. Distribution is through Random House (North America) and GBS (UK). Angry Robot is part of the Osprey Group.

(I am so excited about this news. Amanda is a real blogger [while I'm faking] and she has an excellent taste in books and I can't wait for her to reveal the first wave of books she has under her carefully eye of Strange Chemistry. GOOD LUCK AMANDA!)

GoodRead - Love Struck

Now, I known of Melissa Marr for a while now. I have been told to read her Wickedly Lovely series. I actually won a copy of Wickedly Lovely &, before that, I bought the old UK hardback copy of Ink Exchange, so the start of this five book series is in my To Read pile. It's just a case of FINDING TIME!!! So, when I was having my Kindle-binge, I rediscovered that this was on my Kindle and, wanting to see if the Wickedly Lovely series was one I should investigate further, I selected this and read.

Love Struck is a one-off short story about Alana, who knows about the mysterious selchies, sea-fey who leave their seal-like pelts behind when they walk on land, passing for humans. But when she meets not only one but two at a beach party, she has no idea how complicated her life is going to be...

Now, this is a different read for me as I have never heard of selchies! I heard of something similar, but this felt like I was discovering something completely new. And the story between Alana and Murrin was slow and sweet. It didn't feel like other paranormal tween stories where the human and the supernatural being fall INSTANTLY in love. They didn't. It took them several weeks for them to find that they have feelings for each other and the events to unfold...

The only thing that bothered me is that the story was only 62%. The rest was the first chapters of Wickedly Lovely and Ink Exchange. I know I'm being picky and, of course, this is a VERY CLEVER marketing tool for people who haven't read (or heard) of Wickedly Lovely (like myself), but surely people who have heard and read Wickedly Lovely would read this. Maybe I wish that the story was a few percent longer...

But this is a nice, fun read and, for 99p, it's a good read! And, one day, I will make time to read Wickedly Lovely...