21 March 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #83

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Books I Read in One Sitting.

This is something I don't really do so often anymore, because ADULTING SUCKS, but when it happens it's magic. I love it when I can't put a book down.

Which books kept you turning the pages?

18 March 2017

Blog Tour: Guest Post: Quieter than Killing by Sarah Hilary

Todaay I am delighted to invite Sarah Hilary to my blog to talk about her Marnie Rome series. I am a huge lover of crime fiction, so I was very excited to find out what the author's secrets were!

It's winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie's family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it.

Suddenly, events seem connected, and it's personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing. 

Dial M for Murder: the secrets inside my Marnie Rome crime series
As soon as I started writing crime, I knew I wanted to write a series. I love standalones (many of my favourite books are one-off psychological thrillers), but there’s something addictive about a series. I can’t imagine ever tiring of Highsmith’s Ripley books, for instance. Each one peels another layer from Tom’s character, or adds a layer. You can get hooked on a se-ries; maybe it’s the obsessive in me that loves them so much.

Much of the thrill in writing my debut, Someone Else’s Skin, came from knowing it would be the first in a series; I’d be spending a lot of time with these characters. I wanted readers hooked enough to keep reading, wanting to go on this long journey with Marnie, Noah and the team. To do this, I needed layered characters and plenty of mystery. As a story-teller, I have to perform a balancing act between intrigue and empathy. But I love a chal-lenge.

Can we get close to a character who is keeping secrets? Doesn’t closeness require trust, full disclosure? This is where the balancing act comes in. Marnie Rome is keeping secrets from everyone, including herself. She’s even keeping secrets from me; it’s one of the reasons I find her fascinating to write. In fact, the whole series is predicated on secrets. As it says on the front of Someone Else’s Skin: “Some secrets keep us safe, others will destroy us.” I must admit I’ve become a bit obsessed with the secrets Marnie was keeping. In each book, we learn a little more about her, but she does a mean line in double-bluffing. At heart, she is be-coming softer (and stronger) as the series progresses. This, for Marnie, is growth. She started out so prickly and unapproachable. She’s had to learn how to make herself vulnerable.

This, for me, is the secret of a good crime series: the gradual discovery of the central character(s) through an ever-varied set of challenges. Of course, plenty of long-running crime series do splendidly without a notable character arc for their heroes. Sherlock Holmes, whom

I’ve loved since I was ten, changed very little over the course of his adventures, but each time there was a flash of something new in his character—those were the moments I cherished. When Watson takes a bullet, for instance, in The Adventure of the Three Garridebs and we suddenly see how very much Holmes loves him). The depth and breadth of the character arc in the Dexter series is another great example.

For my Marnie Rome series, I aim to pick my crimes with care, so that the solving of them will bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in Marnie. The second book, No Other Darkness, is about lost children. We learn about the kind of person Marnie was when she was sixteen, and the ways in which she’s changed. In book three, Tastes Like Fear, Marnie becomes close to an angry thirteen year old girl. And in my latest book, Quieter Than Killing, she must fight to save a brave but terrified ten year old boy.

We’re told as writers to put our heroes up trees and throw stones at them. Well, in the next book, Marnie might wish she was up a tree being pelted with stones, in preference to the fixes I’ve landed her in. Maybe in time she’ll give up all her secrets, but I can’t help wishing she won’t. I’m having far too much fun hunting them down.

14 March 2017

CORA AND THE REREADS: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

CORA AND THE REREADS is where I reread and review a book.

Sometimes a book is so awesome you have to pick it up again. Sometimes you feel like a different person than you were when you first read it. Sometimes you just need to read that book again.

Sixteen-year-old American girl Rory has just arrived at boarding school in London when a Jack the Ripper copycat-killer begins terrorising the city. All the hallmarks of his infamous murders are frighteningly present, but there are few clues to the killer’s identity.

“Rippermania” grabs hold of modern-day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. In an unknown city with few friends to turn to, Rory makes a chilling discovery…

Could the copycat murderer really be Jack the Ripper back from the grave?

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Ghosts, crime, fame, friendship, boarding-school.

I think I've actually lost count of the amount of times I have read this book and recommended it to people.

Times I've Recommended This Book:
❤ Twitter Chats
❤ Whenever anyone asks for a recommendation
❤ Any time there's a Ripper documentary on TV
❤ It's near Halloween
❤ Whenever someone mentions Urban Fantasy
❤ Any time there's a Ripper drama on TV
❤ Whenever someone mentions London
❤ If someone is remotely near Sci-Fi/Fantasy/YA in the bookshop
❤ If I see someone with pale skin and wildly curly dark hair
❤ It's near Valentines Day
❤ Whenever someone mentions Ghosts
❤ There's a readathon
❤ Someone is buying books
❤ If someone is remotely near Sci-Fi/Fantasy/YA in the library

I don't know quite what it is about the Shades of London series that has me addicted, but I bloody love it. It's one of my go-to series when I'm in a slump or I want to FEEL.

And boy, does this book make you feel.

As much as this is definitely a dark and gritty urban fantasy with GHOSTS IN LONDON WHICH ARE MY CATNIP, it is also lightened by humour and wit and friendship. And I love it. And I will never get bored of it.

Top Ten Tuesday #82

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR.

I'm not going to lie - a lot of these books have been on my TBR for a while. But I'm going to do a little spring clean and tackle a few of those pesky books which have over-stayed. And I will do it. Honest.
  1. If you know me, then you know that I adore Maureen Johnson's Shades of London series. But I have also never picked up any of her other books. This will change!
  2. I love history, and I specifically love this time period. So when I saw this waaaay back four years ago I one-clicked it. Then never read it. Why..?
  3. I loved the spinsterhood books, but I've never read any of her other books. Given that everyone loved them I think it's time to rectify that.
  4. I was seeing this book everywhere when I added it to my TBR. And it's sat there on my shelf. Only I haven't picked it up yet.
  5. I absolutely LOVED Looking for JJ when I read it as a teen, it's a book that has truly stayed with me. But part of me feels like the story wrapped up so well that I don't need more.
  6. Sometimes I feel like the only YA Blogger who hasn't read this! Even years after release it is still everywhere, and that is some staying power.
  7. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
    I saw the cover, I put this straight on my TBR. I don't even know what it's about, but I definitely want to read it!
  8. Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
    Downton Abbey meets The Selection? I'm sold. Even though I don't like The Selection.
  9. The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson by Paige Toon
    My little sister loved this book and read it in one sitting, even though she isn't a reader. Now, that's a sign I should pay attention to.
  10. Trouble by Non Pratt
    Yes, I am a bad UKYA lover. I have had this book sat on my TBR and my physical shelf for years, but I am yet to pick it up.

08 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Family, fame, friendship, fun, frolics.

Oh look. Alliteration. This book deserved it, it was fab.

I knew as soon as I started this book that I was going to like it. I was looking for something fun, something to lift my spirits and make me laugh... And that's exactly what I got! 

I loved Andy, how she didn't want what was being thrust upon her, how she was actually a huge geek. As much as Andy is incredibly different from me, I felt that I could actually relate to her. Probably the geekiness. She was almost a different person when she was LARP-ing and it was fab.

I liked how the film crew added a whole other element to every relationship, how no one was sure who was being real and who was in it for the fame. 

What I didn't like was Andy's parents - but I did like was how their awful actions (and lack of) contributed to the story. I think this is something that may put other people off, but I forgave it because of how it contributed to the overall story.

This is a fun and flirty read that doesn't take itself seriously. It's perfect for rainy days or when you need cheering up.

07 March 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #81

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Ten Book and Drink Pairings.

I wanted to do something a little bit fun with this pairing. Usually when I'm reading, I'll have a drink of sorts to hand. Sometimes a book just begs you top pick up a certain drink. There are my favourite pairings, handily split in to two - the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic.

🍹 Non-Alcoholic 🍹
🍸 Alcoholic 🍸
  • The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
    • A champagne cocktail
      I don't think any other drink would go quite as well with this lavish prohibition-era tale of crime, punishment and mystery.
  • Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
    • Hepple Gin, Fevertree Tonic, Cracked Black Pepper
      You need a strong drink for this one. The black pepper adds an extra bite, although this book can make you angry enough (in a good way) that you won't need it.
  • Pirates! by Celia Rees
    • Alnwick Rum
      Drink in shots, every time someone dies by the hand of Nancy, Minerva or their fellow crew. Quickly feel like you're on a ship yourself.
  • The Tribute Bride by Theresa Tomlinson
    • Aegir Dragonsbreath Mead
      Sip it slowly as you sink in to Acha's world, and let the richly described setting surround you.
  • Darkmere by Helen Maslin
    • Vodka and Diet Coke
      Think back to your teens and remember TFW you managed to mix a quarter bottle of Glenn's Vodka into a single small bottle of Diet Coke 🙊
  • All of the Above by Juno Dawson
    • Ye Olde English or Lambrini
      Ahh, the sour taste of cheap alcohol. Nothing better to bring on heartburn and remind you of your misspent teen years, which this book nails perfectly.

05 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review and Q&A: Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett

When Mary Adams sees Millais’ depiction of the tragic Ophelia, a whole new world opens up for her.

Determined to find out more about the beautiful girl in the painting, she hears the story of Lizzie Siddal – a girl from a modest background, not unlike her own, who has found fame and fortune against the odds. Mary sets out to become a Pre-Raphaelite muse, too, and reinvents herself as Persephone Lavelle. But as she fights her way to become the new face of London’s glittering art scene, ‘Persephone’ ends up mingling with some of the city’s more nefarious types and is forced to make some impossible choices.

Will Persephone be forced to betray those she loves, and even the person she once was, if she is to achieve her dreams? 

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour | Purchase

5 Words: Art, family, class, adventure, secrets.

Ever since I first wandered around the Laing Art Gallery as a young teen and set eyes on Isabella and the Pot of Basil, I was in love with an art movement. Much like Mary when she first glimpses Millais' Ophelia, I couldn't stop staring at the Pre-Raphaelite painting in all of its Romantic glory. So when I heard about this book, I was insanely excited. And I had very high expectations.

The writing in this story is very colourful, focused on the imagery and the wider picture. Like a painting, the setting subtly reflects what is happening in the story.
Under the snowy peaks of each wave it was a thousand shades of green and grey.
I loved Mary. I loved her past and her present and her hopes for the future. I loved seeing her fight for everything, how large her heart was, how much she cared. She is truly a character to get invested in and when she took on the persona of Persephone, I was as carried away in her antics as she was, and every crash back to earth, to her real life, was with a heavy jolt.
She felt as if she was about to enter another time, another world. 
Then we have the glimpses of the Brotherhood themselves, those familiar names from history with their hedonistic ways and their constant search for the beauty in everything. I loved this peek we got at them, how immediately you could feel the hairs on the back of your neck raise with one interaction. If you know anything about the Brotherhood then you'll know they were very close and insular, in love with each other's muses, and they were right proper rebels against the art of the day.
They broke the rules of dress and decorum, and consorted with servant girls.
I loved the tiny details that brought the historical setting to life. London was never just noisy and busy and dirty, it was vibrantly described as the filthy, overly populated center that it was. The whole place was brought to life
There was no green at all in the view, Mary realised - only shades of grey.
This book is perfect for fans of YA and history and art. I think that Sophia Bennett's familiar tone means that this would be a fantastic start for fans of contemporary who are looking to try something new. The writing is beautiful and slightly decadent, rich with research and passion.

100% accurate picture of me reading Following Ophelia
OR the fickle Rossetti's Lady Lilith.
Five Quick Questions with Sophia Bennett

1. What inspired you to write Following Ophelia? 
The idea came from Katie Jennings, my editor at Stripes. She suggested the Pre-Raphaelite theme and I’d been wanting to write about art for ages, so it was the perfect opportunity. I love how passionate they were about their art, and how they became a community of friends and lovers. It creates lots of material to write about! Also, I love the intensity of colour in their paintings, and the sheer romance of some of them. 

2. What is your favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting?
Hard to say. However, Rossetti is my favourite Pre-Raphaelite artist, and Jane Morris is my favourite muse. He painted her as Proserpine, in a gorgeous blue-green velvet dress, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the painting when I saw it. My own version of it appears in Following Ophelia. 

3. If you could meet any one of the Brotherhood, which one would it be?
Rossetti would be the most shocking. Millais was actually quite staid. I would pick Burne-Jones, because my parents had a poster of his on their wall when I was growing up and his paintings were part of my visual landscape from the age of six. I’d want to hang out with him in Oxford, go for picnics, and see what inspired him. 

4. Do you have an interest in art/painting yourself?
Everyone in my family is a talented artist - except me. I based my first main character in Threads, Nonie Chatham, on myself and the fact that I love art but can’t draw. I write instead. However, I’m utterly fascinated by how people translate a 3D world onto a 2D page. I can’t wait to see the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate Britain (where there are also  a lot of Pre-Raphaelites). Hockney's whole career seems to have been an examination of that question. I’m a total art freak and always have been. 

5. What's in store for Mary/Persephone next?
At the end of book 1, Mary had the chance to escape to Venice. I lived there myself as part of my degree course and loved every moment, so Mary gets to explore it the way I did. Also, there’s my new, favourite villain. I’ve had huge fun inventing him!