21 March 2019

Release Day Book Review: His Convenient Highland Wedding by Janice Preston *AD Gifted

Mills & Boon provided me with a free review copy of His Convenient Highland Wedding by Janice Preston through their Mills & Boon Insiders program.

I have been in SUCH a highland romance mood recently, so when His Convenient Highland Wedding by Janice Preston popped up in my Mills & Boon Insiders email I jumped at it, not even reading the description. I loved this book so much, it was a delight to read even if the slow burn was rather frustrating.

His Convenient Highland Wedding by Janice Preston coverAdd to Goodreads button
Bought by her husband…

Bound by secrets of their past!

The start of The Lochmore Legacy – A Scottish castle through the ages! Earl’s daughter Flora McCrieff brought shame on her family once, now she discovers she must wed impossibly rich but low born Lachlan McNeill. He’s undeniably handsome, but a man of few words. Despite the attraction that burns between them, can she reach beyond his impeccable clothing to find the emotions he’s locked away for so long..? 

Source: Review copy.

5 Word Review: Family, trust, secrets, business, love.

Holy slow-burn, Batman!

This book takes time to get going, and I don't think I was in the mood to be so patient. I did enjoy the steady build of Flora and Lachlan's relationship, but I didn't enjoy being stuck for the long haul. It felt like the book was almost over by the time it had properly ignited and I would have liked to have read more about them just generally being in love.

I really liked Flora's tenacity and drive, and how her confidence blossomed as the story progressed. She's headstrong and knows her own mind, and she's also generous with it. She's smart and savvy and innovative, and I loved how she challenged everyone around her, especially Lachlan.

As with every romance, a lot of the issues between the characters could have been solved by them talking to each other, but I do love the way I know that misunderstandings are going to happen.

There was a wonderful exploration of family and expectations in the story, and it introduced us to some fantastic characters - in particular proud Anna.

I really enjoyed His Convenient Highland Wedding, even if the slow-burn felt excruciatingly slow at times. I'll absolutely read on with the Lochmore Legacy as I want to see what's next, especially for Anna.

18 March 2019

The Northern YA Literary Festival was Awesome

To put it simply, I had the best time.

I loved how stress-free the event felt. There was plenty of time between panels for signings, there was delicious (and super cheap?!) food available on site, there were fantastic stalls. I didn't feel rushed or panicked at the event (that was saved for the chaos of the delayed train on the return journey), and I event felt comfortable enough to lie down on a couch at the end and rest (which was much needed after being on the go since before 6am).

I am so glad I managed to pick up an ARC of The Harm Tree by Rose Edwards because I have heard excellent things about it from Charlotte and I'm excited to start it, especially after the Feminist Fantasy. I also nabbed an ARC of Fated by Teri Terry and I am full of excite at the prospect of rereading it without a migraine.

Northern YA Literary Festival

But instead of a full wrap up, I'm going to share some of my favourite quotes from the authors on the panels, because some of them hit me right in the feels and really resonated with me. And also I'm trying to be a better blogger and took a lot of Notes for one, go me.

I would have loved to include Samantha Shannon's full Strong Female Character speech (which was as epic and long as Priory of the Orange Tree) but I was too busy gleefully listening to actually write notes on it.

YA Thrillers

I feel like a fraud being on this panel, I just wanted to write something that people would want to keep reading
Will Hill

When I'm writing, I usually know where it's going, I know what's going to happen, but I let the characters guide how.
MA Bennett

Feminist Fantasy Panel

Being morally outstanding does not mean that someone is a good human being.
Laure Eve

The intimacy of friendship, especially as a teen girl, is so intense.
Rose Edwards

The break up of a friendship is devastating.
Samantha Shannon

As a society, in the media we consume we allow women to be strong only after they have been hurt.
Melinda Salisbury

Inclusiveness in YA Panel

We need to reset the notion of normal
AJ Hartley

I do it because it needs to be done, in twenty years things haven't changed.
Bali Rai

You can tell a very complicated story with simple language.
Non Pratt

Shame-Less Panel

The Exact Opposite of Okay wasn't a story about Izzy finding her voice, it was about using it.
Laura Steven

Shame is so different from guilt, it cuts a lot deeper and attaches to who you are as a person.
Tamsin Winter

How can you resist being overly critical of yourself when on social media you're essentially a public performance?
Laura Steven

Mental Health Panel

Oh My Gods was always meant to be funny and light, but in order to have light you need dark.
Alexandra Sheppard

If you're not being honest with yourself you cannot set boundaries.
Akemi Dawn Bowman

As a teen I felt like I was a different person every three months, I had to get to know myself again and again. There were so many expectations to confront, and that's a common experience.
Alice Broadway

14 March 2019

Northern YA Literary Festival 2019

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 16th March 2018 at the Greenbank Building in Preston. Doors open at 9.45am, with the events staggered throughout the day.

There will be panels, talks, a pop-up book shop, signings, publisher stands, a book exchange, bookish face painting, and jewellery and gift stalls. I even hear that Literary Galaxy will be there with her gorgeous lanyards (10/10 would recommend) and if you hurry and let her know in advance she'll even be lovely enough to print you out an ID card for you.

Best of all? This event is FREE. All you have to do is reserve a free ticket for the events you want to go to and turn up on the day. How excellent?

I'm so excited for this event and I was lucky enough to be able to do a Q&A with Bali Rai ahead of the event.

There are various workshops and agent talks throughout the day, but I'm more interested in the panels themselves. See the panel line up below and guess which one I'm most excited about (Spoiler: all of them. I'm excited for all of them).

The Panel Line Up
Chaired by The Bookseller's Caroline Carpenter, M.A. Bennett & Will Hill discuss what it takes to write a thriller, and why we love them so much.
Join bestselling YA authors Samantha Shannon, Laure Eve. Melinda Salisbury and debut author Rose Edwards as they discuss the world of Feminist Fantasy.
oin Co-Founder of Knights Of, Aimée Felone, as she chairs this stellar panel. Aimée along with Non Pratt, Bali Rai, A.J. Hartley & debut author, Mel Darbon discuss inclusiveness in YA, and the importance of seeing the world though different eyes.
Katherine Webber will be joined by the God Father of YA, Melvin Burgess, Tamsin Winter, Laura Steven & debut author Mel Darbon.
Join Lisa Williamson as she chairs this special panel looking at the importance of reflecting mental health in YA. Fellow panellists include Sara Barnard, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Alice Broadway & debut Alexandra Sheppard.

Getting There
The Greenbank Building is just a 15 minute-ish walk from Preston train station.

Preston has some fab national rail links and train tickets were a lot cheaper than I expected. If you have to change, split your tickets and it cuts the price further.


Books I'm Bringing
I'm very lucky in that I already have most of my books signed (yay!) so I won't have to take too many down to Preston with me. I don't think I'll manage to make the MA Bennett signing between the Thriller and Fantasy panel either, so I'm going to skip it and pray that she's at YALC in the summer.

Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
Rani & Sukh by Bali Rai
(Un)arranged Marraieg by Bali Rai
Monsters in the Mirror by AJ Hartley
A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven

Look how good I'm being, only taking five books! Doubtless I'll also end up buying a fair few when I'm there anyway.

I was really tempted to bring my copy of The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh but I ultimately decided not to as it's a YA event. And also my copy is read to death with falling out pages oops.

Will you be coming?
What books are you bringing?

06 March 2019

Izzy O'Neill's Updated iPod

Last year I got to share what was on Izzy O'Neill's iPod and it quickly became one my favourite playlists. To celebrate the release of A Girl Called Shameless, Laura has added to the tracklist and now you can bop around to even more of Izzy's favourite tunes.

I can't for this book to release tomorrow so I can read it, as it has been too long since I had some Izzy in my life. Read my review of The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven.

The Tracklist

I love It
Icona Pop, Charlie XCX

I Don't Care

Sit Still, Look Pretty

Tove Stryke

Kate Nash

Remember When


Dog Days Are Over
Florence + The Machine


Christina Aguilera

Destiny's Child

Don't Be So Hard On Yourself
Jess Glynne

Katy Perry

Natasha Bedingfield

David Guetta, Sia

Kelly Clarkson

Rather Be
Clean Bandit, Jess Glynne

Fight Song
Rachel Platten

Sara Bareilles

Girl On Fire
Alicia Keys

A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven coverAdd to Goodreads button

Funnier. Ruder. Angrier. Izzy O’Neill is back in the hilarious sequel to The Exact Opposite of Okay.

It’s been two months since a leaked explicit photo got Izzy involved in a political sex scandal – and the aftershock is far from over. The Bitches Bite Back movement is gathering momentum as a forum for teenage feminists, and when a girl at another school has a sex tape shared online, once again Izzy leads the charge against the slut-shamer. This time she wants to change the state law on revenge porn.

Izzy and her best friend Ajita are as hilarious as ever, using comedy to fight back against whatever the world throws at them, but Izzy is still reeling from her slut-shaming ordeal, feeling angry beyond belief and wondering – can they really make a change?


Do you listen to music when you read?

01 March 2019

February Bookish Wrap Up

Here I am, back with another wrap up! I'm really enjoying recording what I'm reading more, and I'm finding it easier to keep track of the books I'm buying and receiving too. This is definitely something I'm going to keep up over the year.

February Bookish Wrap Up

February Bookish Wrap Up

February was a bit of a weird month. After an excellent start to the year in January, I felt a little like I was starting to slump. As I managed to finish 13 books, this obviously wasn't true, but I felt like I spent a lot longer reading them. It was also a month that reminded me why I don't can't read ebooks, as A Hidden Hope by Laura Ambrose took pretty much the whole month to read despite being only 77 pages.

I also took part in a reading challenge, FF February Reads, and I did a wrap up just for the challenge too.

Books Read: 13
Pages Read: 4,436

Books I Read

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
Apple of My Eye by Claire Allen (gifted)
The Conquest by Elizabeth Chadwick
Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee (gifted)
Mr One-Night Stand by Rachael Stewart (gifted)
A Hidden Hope by Laura Ambrose
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
All The Lonely People by David Owen
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
One More Lie by Amy Lloyd (gifted)

Books I Added To My Shelf

Sleep by CL Taylor (gifted)
Don't Tell Teacher by Suzy K Quinn (gifted)
An Italian Affair by Caroline Montague (gifted)
The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby (gifted)
The Extinction Trials: Rebel by SM Wilson
Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale
A Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury (gifted)
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee (gifted)
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (gifted)
The Wicked King by Holly Black
A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven
One More Lie by Amy Lloyd (gifted)
The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Books I'm Currently Reading

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (gifted)
Izzy & Tristan by Shannon Dunlap (gifted)
Viper by Bex Hogan (gifted)

Book Events I Attended

Vintage Books Showcase
The King & Queen Tour: Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

What did you read in February?
What are you reading now?

28 February 2019

The Wrap Up - F/F February Reads

I can't believe that FFFebruaryReads, hosted by Imi Reviews Books and faerieontheshelf, is already finished, and now what am I going to do with myself?

At the beginning of the month I mapped out my plans and set out a TBR, then I posted an update around half way through where I showed how clearly I had deviated from the TBR I'd set out (not sorry). I had so much fun with this reading challenge, and I wish I'd read more for it.

FF February Reads Finished

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker (audiobook)
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (audiobook)
Romancing The Inventor by Gail Carriger (audiobook)
A Hidden Hope by Laura Ambrose
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (audiobook)

FF February Reads I Didn't Get To

In The Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard
Pulp by Robin Talley
The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown

It took me a whole month to read an ebook novella, so there was no way I was ever going to manage In The Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard and The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown, so I'm a little sad.

If I count books more than once then I completed the entire bingo board, but if just count each book once I still managed to complete two lines so yay go me.

F/F February Reads Bingo board

I never did manage to catch up with the photo challenge (boo for being ill) but I loved seeing everyone's pictures and naturally my TBR grew considerably.

What's your next FF Read?

25 February 2019

Q&A With Bali Rai

Bali Rai is a phenomenal writer, one who I have been a fan of since I was just 12. If you haven't read (Un)arranged Marriage or Rani & Sukh then go now and get them.

His latest, Stay a Little Longer, is with Barrington Stoke so it's dyslexia friendly and super-readable. It made me cry a fair bit, it's really one to tug on your heartstrings.

When I heard that he would be on a panel at University of Central Lancashire BA in Publishing's Northern Young Adult Literature Festival I jumped at the opportunity to ask him some questions. 

Q&A with Bali Rai

Can you describe Stay A Little Longer in five words?
Shared depression, unexpected friendship, hope.

What inspires your writing?
The biggest inspiration is real British lives. I’ve always wanted to write about and to explore the lives of everyday British people. Whether it’s a new story, a political situation, or simply a family drama that I’ve witnessed, I try to use real world characters in my stories, and was inspired to do so by my hero, Sue Townsend. I once said that Sue wrote about the next-door neighbours, and that’s what I do, I suppose. Although I also love writing more imaginative and fantastical stories too.

I’m also heavily influenced by other writers, and by film and TV drama too. Basically, any story, in any format, that makes me think and creates an emotional response. You can add music and even art to that list, too. I think of myself as a human being who explores the voices of other human beings, often those whose stories haven’t been properly heard.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
That’s a tough question! I love Nanny, from my book The Crew, so he’d be on that list. Also, both Gurnam and Aman from Stay A Little Longer. There’s so much more to both of their lives, and I’d love to find out more, if that makes sense? I’d like to meet several others too, and in essence every character I write is someone I’d love to have a chat with. So, I’m taking the cheats way out of this question and saying all of them!

What is your favourite thing about writing for teens?
I’ve always maintained that I write about teens, rather than for them. And I do that because the books I wanted to read as a teenager, about regular everyday British people (and certainly BAME people) were few and far between. My hope was to do my bit to rectify that situation.

I also love that teens are so openminded and have not succumbed to the cynicism of adult life. There’s a freshness, a newness, about the way teens view the world and their emotions, and I like to explore that. I had a very tough time as a teenager, coping with losing my father to illness, poverty, and often long bouts of crippling self-doubt and depression. It’s not something I talk about much in public, but I explore it through my teenage characters.

Are you a planner or a pantser?
I should say planner, but that would be a huge lie! I’m very much a pantser – everything is last minute, hurried, with lots of apologetic emails about deadlines missed etc… I do work better under pressure, however. I tend to produce better writing and be more engaged with a character’s voice. It’s not always ideal, if I’m honest, but I’ve always been that way. Just don’t tell my editors!

What is your favourite thing about writing?
I love doing research, I love planning a character’s emotional story arc, and I love the feeling of placing bright shiny new words onto a blank page, and for them to start singing to me. It sounds very ‘la-di-dah’, I know, but writing is very organic for me. It’s a process that happens or it doesn’t. And when it does happen, it’s always fun. The only bit I don’t like so much is third or fourth stages of editing. That becomes tiresome very quickly. And cutting words often feels like an act of vandalism. I’m usually very attached to my words – even if an editor isn’t. The problem is that most editors are amazing and clever, and they’re right.

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on several junior fiction or middle grade ideas, including one about giant armed chickens. I’m also beginning to get my head around a new YA or teen novel idea, after a few years where I haven’t written one. My personal life has been very hectic with lots of changes and I’m just beginning to get back on track. I’m also very keen on writing a sprawling fantasy epic, based on the reality of colonial conquest, but with added magic etc… It’s not something I’m known for, but it does tie in with my writing as a youngster and my reading too. I’ve been operating in slow motion for a few years and I’m now back up to speed, my creativity is flowing again. Watch this space (I hope!).

Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 16th March 2019 at UCLan's Greenbank Building in Preston. Doors open at 9:45am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it's free!

Bali Rai will be part of the Inclusiveness in YA panel, with Non Pratt, A.J. Hartley and Mel Darbon, chaired by Aimée Felone one of the co-founders of Knights Of, discussing inclusiveness in YA, and the importance of seeing the world though different eyes.

Inclusiveness in YA panel NYA Lit Fest