Friday 29 November 2013

Your Fave Xmas Songs

Less than a month till Christmas. LESS THAN A MONTH!!! Are you excited? Are you panicked? Is the Christmas Movie channel on all the time or have you banned it from your home?

Why am I chatting abou Christmas? Well, I want to do something special for you guys and I thought this would be a good way to do it. I want to know what your fave Christmas song or your fave Christmas-themed song is. Is it Michael Buble? The new Kelly Clarkson? What about the latest Leona Lewis? Or are the classics like All I Want for Christmas and Fairytale in New York your faves? Or is it not anything Christmasy at all?

I wanna know. Why? Well, I want to do the top 5 voted for Xmas songs on this blog's Facebook page ( If you're not following the Facebook page, please do. It would be nice to get to know you all!

Anyway, the plan. The top five voted for songs will be put up, one song a day, leading up to Christmas (meaning the first day will be Friday 20th December). Each song will go up sometime in the afternoon on the Facebook page and, after your fave song is announced on the Facebook page on Christmas Eve, a blog post with the top 5 will be up (it will be later in the evening, though).

So, here's the form. All I ask is you give me the name of the song, the artist and, if you have it, the youTube/SoundCloud link so I can put it on both the Facebook and Blog.

That's it. Nothing more to add. Oh, deadline. I will be closing this at around 7pm on Friday 13th December. So that gives me time to add the votes, get the right song and get everything ready. That fair?

Now the form is out the way, you may carry on with your day!

Thursday 28 November 2013

Cover Reveal for BLACK DOG

Ooops! For some reason, this didn't go up at 5pm as I asked it to. Weird. Oh well...

I HAVE A COVER REVEAL FOR YOU GUYS! The lovely peeps of Strange Chemistry have asked me and some other bloggers to reveal a cover for their new novel that should be published in February 2014.

The cover for Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier and TA-DAH!!!

IT'S ALL WINTERY!!! And WHAT is that thing behind our lead heroine? I am not saying a werewolf as the blurb doesn't mention or feel werwolf-y. Let me put the blurb up and you can see for yourself, and you can tell me what you think about the cover! LEAVE COMMENTS and tell me what you think of this cover and the story itself:

Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

GoodRead - Santa Baby

I know that this is meant to be my "Read Your Own" month. I know! But after the ending that was Allegiant, I decide to mix it up a bit. Am going to speed read a few NetGalley/eProofs in the next few weeks (I have several that I am DESPERATE to read!) and maybe reread Catching Fire after I see the movie... So, that's my December all planned out on the reading front (DANG IT!!!)

So, let's start getting into the Christmas spirit (I heard Christmas music on the radio so I take that as a good sign!) and attack Santa Baby by Ali Cronin, the second in Hot Key Books Unlocked novellas for Christmas 2013. It's coming up to Christmas and the end of Annie's first few weeks as a chalet girl in the beautiful Swiss mountains. Her boyfriend is off travelling so she's not exactly thrilled to look after a stag party of posh boys. And it's not long before one - George - makes a play for her. He makes his intentions clear - he wants her under the mistletoe. And in his bed.

But, while Annie is tempted, she can't help but be more interested in another member of the stag do - the quiet Sam. But Sam's got a girlfriend, George says. And we should trust George's word... right?

As I said in my previous review (All I Want For Christmas by Esme Taylor), I'm kinda only just entering the world of New Adult. So, I was braced for it. Well, I expected strong language, sex, strong urges (if you get my drift). Most people do think New Adult is "YA but kinky" (I still have no idea what New Adult is, by the way). But I was kinda looking forward to see where this would go.

And it didn't go there. If anything, it was the opposite to what I was expecting a New Adult novella to be. Yes, this is New Adult so yes, there is swearing and sex. But it felt more like a romance story. Something, if I'm honest with you, I wasn't expecting.

But I got a romance. It was sweet (but had enough grit to keep me from going "BO-RRRRRIIINNNG!" [you guys know I'm not a mushy romantic reader]), the characters and the humour was engaging. The plot... If I'm honest with you, I feel like I've read it before or seen it in a Christmas movie and, because of this, I felt like I guessed some of the key plot points.

And I think, because of that, this felt like a middle of the road read. I'm not sure if I'm saying that because it was more romance than I expected or because I didn't click with the story as much as I hope, but I do think this is a nice read to get you ready for Christmas and will make you want to go skiing. 

Monday 25 November 2013

Thursday 21 November 2013

GoodRead - All I Want For Christmas

So, after Allegiant and THAT ending (Let's not go there, shall we? In the words of River Song, "spoilers"), I'm going through a phrase of reading short, "happy" reads. I think I'm still in mourning for Allegiant by Veronica Roth. So, I attacked this, one of Hot Key Books Unlocked eNovellas from their launch series/Christmas range.

Ella is dreading this Christmas. After her parents death, she was determined to make a change. After quitting uni and dumping her ex, she's found herself stuck and she's unable to make the next big step.

But while she's working at a Christmas party, she meets Joe and the attraction is instant. Neither want anything more than a fling which is perfect, seeing as Ella wants to become unstuck and Joe is going away in the New Year. But as the big day comes closer, the snow and clothes start falling, Ella begins to wonder if this fling could be something more... And if taking the risk to find out worth taking....?

Now, this is my first real "New Adult" story. I have loads on my kindle but I have not read any of them so, when I started reading this, I was entering new terrority. I guessed it would tackle sex - and I was right. It was sexy and quite steamy (if you follow me on GoodReads, you probably saw my mock outcries of "WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!")

But I liked it. It was a sweet, hot chocolate of a novella, getting the reader ready for Christmas (it kinda reminded me vaguely of one of the stories from the Let It Snow collection, The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson. But more adult and sexy). I kinda want more stories from these characters - I want a story about Amy and Lee (if you read the story, you'll understand), but any of Joe's siblings as well. There's a wealth of characters who stories could be told.

So more, Esme Taylor (aka Keris Stainton). You know you want to...

Monday 18 November 2013

SMILE - This Isn't Lasagna!

My thanks to CassJayTuck's tumblr for this random pic that had me snorting into my coffee. Thanks for that...

Friday 15 November 2013

Waterstones NaNoWriMo Challenge

NOVEMBER IS NANOWRIMO! For those of you taking part, I hope like hell you hit your target by the end of the month!

Anyway, I was asked to take part in this - the Waterstones NaNoWriMo Challenge - to write the third chapter of a story with the aid of Rory's Story Cubes to help with inspiration. I had only two rules - keep it between 250-500 words and keep it PG rated. Easy, right? NOPE! But oddly fun!

Anyway, if you want to follow the story, here is chapter 1 at and chapter 2 is at So, are we all up to speed? Are we all sitting comfortable? Good, then I shall begin...

(And to whoever has chapter 4, I am so very sorry.)


As I walked slowly toward the mysterious sunny face archway, my fingers twitched and touched my bare wrist, only to feel some skin raised. I looked down and saw black ink of a tattoo. A tattoo I never had.
                "What the -?" Did I do this last night? What actually happened last night?
                The tattoo was of  sleeping Justice, holding scales in one hand and, weirdly, an apple in the other.
                How drunk did I get last night?
                No. I wasn't drinking last night. So... what on earth happened?!
                I turned down the empty road, a cold feeling creeping up my spine. Something weird happened to me - no, something weird is happening to me - and I had no idea what was going on.
                I was being to get a headache. It felt like an swarm of angry beetles and bees was trapped in a jam jar.
                Could I buy some paracetamol? I felt the strange jacket I was wearing to see if I could feel any cash or my wallet in the pockets. Nothing.
                Great, I thought. Just great. What else can go wrong?
                Famous last words.
                Out of nowhere, a toddler ran out of a shop, eyes wide like dish. He was wearing bright red wellies.
                "Mum! MUM!" He squealed, pointing to the sky. "Rainbow! RAINBOW!"
                The shop door opened and a woman - the child's mother - came out. "You shouldn't run off, Ethan."
                "MUM!" the child - Ethan - wailed, pointing the sky above my head. "Rainbow!"
                The mother looked up at the sky. "There's no rainbow, dear. It's..." She suddenly looked puzzled. "What is that?"
                "Sh-sh-shooting star?" Ethan questioned, pouting his lips out, his mouth not truly able to pronounce the word.
                The mother continued to look at the sky. Then a look of horror and terror crossed it. She snatched Ethan up into her arms and run to the shop door.
                "Get inside!" She shouted. "Run! They're coming! Get inside!"
                The shop door snapped shut behind her as Ethan wailed.
                What on earth -? What would cause a grown-up to freak out like that?
                I turned on the spot, stared up at the sky and felt my brain short-circuited.
                This wasn't real.
                It made no sense!
                And yet, it was happening.

                An army of angry sheep was being parachuted down from the empty blue sky, and all their little black eyes were fixed horribly on me.  

Thursday 14 November 2013

How Tinder Was Inspired By The Thirty-Year War by Sally Gardner

I am THRILLED that I'm taking part in the Tinder blog tour . And I am thrilled that Sally Gardner, author of Tinder, has taken time out to write this blog post, explaining how the Thirty Year War inspired Tinder. So, without any further delay, let me hand you over to Sally:

I have always been interested in the bits of history that tend to be overlooked. My research has shown me that nothing happens in isolation.  Learning historical dates in class is meaningless unless you understand the significance of them, you need to have something to hang them on.

When I was at school it never occurred to me that the reason for the first and second world wars could lie way back, buried in the folds of history.In fact, I think there is a good argument to say that the wars have been mis-numbered and the First European War actually took place in 1618 and went by the name of the Thirty Year War. It was without doubt one of the bloodiest and the cruelest wars that had ever been fought in the Holy Roman Empire and it took place in the many feudal states that made up Germany at the time. Every country in Europe at one stage or other took part in this war including Scotland.  It was the first time that thousand strong armies were employed in battle.   It left marauding soldiers who became mercenaries and were prepared to fight for any army who would pay them. The war was ignited over religion - the Protestants versus the Roman Catholics and ended up, as nearly all wars do, being about land.

Whole swathes of Germany were left abandoned, farms destroyed and crops ruined. Whole villages and communities were wiped out. The combined effect of the plague and the war left an estimated 3 million dead. The cruelty that was unleashed then is hard to take in and once such cruelties had been unleashed it was impossible to put back in Pandoras Box.

I was very fortunate to meet with extraordinary historian, Peter H Wilson, whose book The Thirty Years War: Europes Tragedy is a very enlightening read.  Unlike him I am not a historian - my approach to history is to try and make the past come alive so that it can become relevant to the readers of today. I've done a lot of research into modern war and have been fortunate enough to meet serving officers who had returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. All those I talk to said they had been altered by the experience and found civilian street life hard to adjust to.  One said you only know youre alive when you are dancing on the edge.

I wanted to Tinder to tell a story that is true to all wars.  It matters little if you are fighting with machetes, knives, muskets, gunpowder, swords or chemical weapons. The effect is just the same.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

GoodRead - Shadows

So, while I was away on my Mini-RSM, I read the first book in the Lux series, Obsidian (review for that is here), and, before I left, I download the eNovella prequel, Shadows, onto my kindle. When I told people this, nearly everyone on Twitter went "Read that AFTER Obsidian! Trust me on this one! Read AFTER!". And because so many people said this, I went "Ok, this has to be important."

I am now going to say the same time to you. If you are going to read this, READ THIS AFTER OBSIDIAN! I know this is a prequel, but there are reasons and I will get into those a little further into the review!

Shadows takes place a year prior to Obsidian and it follows Dawson, an alien who falls hard for Bethany, a human. And if you have read Obsidian, you are aware that Dawson isn't there. So, it answers the question "What really happened to Dawson and Beth?"

Now, I said that if you're were thinking of reading this then reading Obsidian afterwards, you shouldn't. You should read Obsidian first then Shadows. There are loads of reasons: explaining why characters behave the way they do in Obsidian (mainly Dawson's brother, Daemon), foreshadowing for Obsidian and its sequel, Onyx, and showing the deep connection between the Black triplets (which was hinted at but wasn't examined in depth).

While Katy's relationship with Daemon is very "I hate your guts but I'm lusting after you", Dawson and Bethany is sweeter. Sparks flew off them from their first meeting but they took their time to get to know each other. They stay on the phone to each other till they both fell asleep - that's how sweet and romantic this is compared to Katy and Daemon who want to rip each other's clothes off.

But this relationship difference shows us how different Dawson is from Daemon. Daemon is dark, moody, quick to anger whereas Dawson is laid-back, smiles and would put his heart on the line for love in an instant.

If you're a fan of the series and you haven't read this, READ THIS! And if you want to dip your toe in, this will do you just fine. But remember, Dawson and Bethany aren't the main characters in the series so don't get too attached to them...

(PS - I do have Oynx on my kindle. Not sure when am going to read this but I hope to read it sooner rather than later...)

Saturday 9 November 2013

UKYA Blog Tour - Sara Grants Asks "Why when book sales are going down, YA sales seem to be going up?"

As a UK blogger (and one that seems to devour YA), I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour to promote UK YA. If you want to know more about Project UKYA, please visit their blog! Today, the lovely author Sara Grant (author of Dark Parties and Half Lives) will be trying the answer the question: With UK book sales in general going down in the past few years, why do YA sales seem to be going up? So, I'll hand you over to Sara for her thoughts on this question....

Why when book sales are going down, YA sales seem to be going up?

My short answer is…because there are so many amazing young adult books being published!
            Yeah, I’m biased. That’s what I write and primarily what I read. But it’s true. Here’s a snapshot of my reading pile – some of these I’ve recently finished and others I’m dying to read. When I check out the teen sections in bookshops, I always come home with a stack of books. (My husband would tell you that I personally am the reason for this upturn – because I buy so many YA books.)
            I think we need to thank trailblazers like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins and Stephanie Meyer for expanding the appeal of teen books. Their series established a habit and hunger for reading in millions of children and teens. Readers of Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Twilight are now – I hope – lifelong readers.
            We also know that YA books aren’t just for teen. YA books have an ever-expanding readership. Tweens to pensioners pick up books that are branded YA. And once they’ve read one, they will read others. Perhaps initially parents check out what their teens are reading, but I know empty-nest mums and dads who still enjoy a teen novel from time to time.
            Teen characters and issues are timeless. Whether you are experiencing puberty now or still healing from secondary school scars, we can all appreciate this time of life when we experience the thrill of so many firsts and the possibilities seem endless. It’s the time of life when we begin to break away from our parents and discover who we really are. I wonder if we are all still struggling to either live up to our teen expectations or overcome our teen issues. Oh, maybe that’s getting too deep…
            On a more practical note, teen books can be face-paced and highly charged stories. They are often a fairly manageable length. I think many teens and adults appreciate the fleeting escape YA fiction offers.
            No matter what the cause, I’m thrilled that YA is flourishing. Not only because I write it, but also because as a teen, I needed it. I’m pleased that teens can find themselves and lose themselves in teen fiction. Long may it endure!

About Sara Grant
Sara writes books for both children and teens. DARK PARTIES, her first young adult novel, won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her next novel for teens – HALF LIVES – is a story told in two voices from a pre- and post-apocalyptic time. She also writesa new funny magical series for young readers – MAGIC TRIX. Sara is part of a team of editors and writers – called Book Bound – which is offering a weekend writers retreat in 2014. Find out more about Sara at and Book Bound at

Thursday 7 November 2013

GoodRead - Allegiant

This is going to be a hard review to write. I finished this book late Tuesday night, writing the review Wednesday and am going to put this online on Thursday. So me writing a review this quickly is very rare, but I think I need to write this and share my feels towards you guys. I will try my UTMOST to keep this review of Allegiant as SPOILER-FREE as possible (but I might have to spoil over the previous two books within this trilogy, Divergent and Insurgent).

So... here we go.

After the shocking ending of Insurgent, all hell has broken loose. The factions have shattered, people are torn over what to do and Tris is stuck in the middle of it all. So when she, Tobias and a few others are offered the chance to escape into a world outside the city, she takes it. Maybe she and Tobias can have a life together, away from violence, deaths and betrayal.

Except that this new world is far more alarming than the one she left behind. New truths make old discoveries meaningless and will change the hearts of people around her. Soon, Tris has to fight once more...

Now, where on earth do I start?

This final book in the trilogy will divide the fandom. I stayed as far away from spoilers/reviews as much as possible (and I wasn't spoiled!) but I have heard that some readers who read this within days of release either really loved it or really hated it. The reason for this is because there is one HUGE twist and this twist is causing waves. I didn't see it coming (and I was trying to second guess what this twist was going to be!) and I can kinda see why this twist had to happen but I was there going "DID SHE HONESTLY DO THAT?!"

This book is a very different book compared to Divergent and Insurgent. It felt, to me, a little more political and a little more personal. We see Tris and Tobias talk and fight and make-up. This book dealt with this issues while moving at speed, though there were times the story did drag, if I am completely honest with you. Another problem with this is Four's point of view. At times, it felt like his story was slower pace than Tris's.

I am struggling to write this. Just so you know. This is HARD to write!

This series is wonderful. It's one of the best dystopian trilogies out in YA at the present moment. Maybe, dare I say it, even better than the Hunger Games.

If you are a fan of the trilogy, then you have to read this. This will be the most emotional of the three. Veronica Roth is a brilliant writer and I demand more from her (thank goodness for the Four: A Divergent Collection will be out in hardback next year!), but I think I need time to get over this book. I need to mourn this book and, maybe next year, I shall reread the whole trilogy.

Monday 4 November 2013

SMILE - Worst Way To Spend A Saturday Night?

I can't remember watching this episode of Channel 4's 8 Out Of 10 Cats but I do love Sarah Millican so THANKS SARAH!