27 October 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #44

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 to Read at Halloween.
 
Three years ago, if you had asked me about what I read a Halloween, I'd have given you a weird look and told you that I just read the same all year round. But then I discovered seasonal reading, and it's amazing. I read a lot. But here are the very Best of British books to read at Halloween. And no, they're not all horror.

Do you have any specific Halloween reads?

 
 

21 October 2015

Blog Tour: All I've Never Wanted by Ana Huang

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25464015-all-i-ve-never-wanted
The Scions were the four richest, most powerful guys at Valesca Academy, and they ruled the school with iron fists. Everyone wanted to date them or be them... Everyone, that is, except Maya Lindberg, who just wanted to avoid them until she could graduate.

She almost succeeded, until an ill-advised outburst on her part put her right in the Scions' path. Just like that, one became her fake boyfriend, one her unwanted matchmaker, one her guardian angel, and the one she couldn't stand the most? Yeah, he's her new housemate.

Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Money, school, control, lies, attraction.

Take the Number 1, Grade A douchebag with a God complex and bad parenting, add in a bet between a bunch of beautiful, stunning, amazing, overly rich and obviously spoiled kids, and then toss in a poor, innocent girl who is on a scholarship at their prodigious school.

It's a formula that's been done time and again, and this did feel a bit like a rehash of numerous stories I've read before.

That said, exclusive schools are one of my catnip tropes in YA. I love reading about luxury. And the descriptions in this book are certainly what redeemed it.

Honestly, I didn't connect with any of the characters. They mostly spent far too much time lying and being complete tossers. I did like how Maya stood up for herself, but I wish she had developed more as it didn't feel like she reached her full potential as a character, especially with how much her life changes.

The scenes with Maya's grandmother were quite hilarious. I read them with a giggle.

It was a good book, but with a little more development and polishing, a bit of a more original storyline, it could have been great.

20 October 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #43

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 Wishes I'd Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me.
 
This was a difficult one. So. Difficult. And I thought it would be easy!
  1. A bigger YA section in all libraries
  2. More UKYA audiobooks
  3. Bookish events outside of London
  4. My own personal library, of Beauty & The Beast proportions
  5. More time to read!
  6. Merchandise for my favourite books
  7. No cover changes, so series match
  8. More bookmarks, and to never lose them
  9. A little book nook for when I wanted somewhere cosy to read
  10. Unlimited supplies of tea at perfect drinking temperature for when I read

19 October 2015

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22610732-siege-and-storm
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka.
But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her - or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Magic, revenge, surprises, death, life.

Well. This book.

It's taken me a while to piece together my thoughts. I had a bit more than usual to think about as I attended an author event and heard Leigh Bardugo talk about her writing and characters and all sorts of other things.

I really enjoy The Grisha books. They're books that I know I'll be able to pick up again and again. And they're books I'm currently letting all of my friends borrow and read (and then buy, because they love them too).

I love the characters and I love how nothing is straight forward. And I absolutely adored every scene with Strumhond, I could read his character all day long and not get bored. And I never liked Mal. Not at all. I kinda wish there was even less of him in this book than there is!

It didn't bother me much that the Darkling wasn't in this book so much. There was so much going on that it didn't really matter. He was a presence that was always there, lurking in the shadows, anyway.

I like how this story has been left so open that it could go anywhere in the next books. Desperate to get stuck into the next one now!
Dear Leigh Bardugo,
Please write a series of novellas about Strumhond's time at sea before he meets Alina. It would be awesome.

17 October 2015

Review: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind...

Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins.

Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. 

And then there’s her other cousin.

The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there.

The girl that died.


Source: NetGalley Request | Purchase

5 Words: Family, Ouija, evil, dolls, isolation.

So, I didn't sleep very well last night. I kept waking up, sure that I could feel icy little hands grabbing at my legs.

This book is creepy and chilling. And it stays with you.

I loved the poisonous relationships, the twists and turns, the horror, the way I felt so scared. I loved it all. This is fantastic horror writing and everything is perfect, from the feelings of the characters to the isolated setting.

I liked the way that this book wasn't afraid of technology, that the characters had smartphones and it all started with an app. 

This book had me spending an hour or so researching Frozen Charlotte dolls. How creepy are they?

16 October 2015

BLITZ! The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

23868734-the-little-bookshop-on-the-seine
La Vie En Rose
 
Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?
 
Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!
 
Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.
 
But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…
 
A deliciously feel-good Christmas romance perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Julia Williams
 
I can't wait. I absolutely cannot wait. I love, love, LOVE reading Christmas books all through December, and this year I'll be kicking it off early, because I just can't wait. Starting with this beauty in November.
 

EXCERPT

My email pinged and I dashed over to see who it was from. That’s how exciting my life was sans Ridge, an email was enough to make me almost run, and that was saying a lot. I only ran if chocolate was involved, and even then it was more a fast walk.

Sales@littlebookshop.fr

Sophie, a dear Parisian friend. She owned Once Upon a Time, a famous bookshop by the bank of the Seine. We’d become confidantes since connecting on my book blog a while back, and shared our joys and sorrows about bookshop life. She was charming and sweet, and adored books as much as me, believing them to be portable magic, and a balm for souls.

I clicked open the email and read. 

Ma Chérie,

I cannot stay one more day in Paris. You see, Manu has not so much broken my heart, rather pulled it out of my chest and stomped on it. The days are interminable and I can’t catch my breath. He walks past the bookshop, as though nothing is amiss. I have a proposal for you. Please call me as soon as you can.

Love,

Sophie


Poor Sophie. I’d heard all about her grand love affair with a dashing twenty-something man, who frequented her bookshop, and quoted famous poets. It’d been a whirlwind romance, but she often worried he cast an appraising eye over other women. Even when she clutched his hand, and walked along the cobbled streets of Paris, he’d dart an admiring glance at any woman swishing past.

I shot off a quick reply, telling her to Skype me now, if she was able. Within seconds my computer flashed with an incoming call.

Her face appeared on the screen, her chestnut-colored hair in an elegant chignon, her lips dusted rosy pink. If she was in the throes of heartache, you’d never know it by looking at her. The French had a way of always looking poised and together, no matter what was happening in their complex lives.

“Darling,” she said, giving me a nod. “He’s a lothario, a Casanova, a…” She grappled for another moniker as her voice broke. “He’s dating the girl who owns the shop next door!” Her eyes smoldered, but her face remained stoic.

I gasped, “Which girl? The one from the florist?”

Sophie shook her head. “The other side, the girl from the fromagerie.” She grimaced. I’d heard so much about the people in or around Sophie’s life that it was easy to call her neighbors to mind. “Giselle?” I said, incredulous. “Wasn’t she engaged – I thought the wedding was any day now?”

Sophie’s eyes widened. “She’s broken off her engagement, and has announced it to the world that my Manu has proposed and now they are about to set up house and to try immediately for children –”

My hand flew to my mouth. “Children! He wouldn’t do that, surely!” Sophie was late-forties, and had gently broached the subject of having a baby with Manu, but he’d said simply: absolutely not, he didn’t want children. 

The doorbell of her shop pinged, Sophie’s face pinched and she leaned closer to the screen, lowering her voice. “A customer…” She forced a bright smile, turned her head and spoke in rapid-fire French to whoever stood just off-screen. “So,” she continued quietly. “The entire neighborhood are whispering behind their hands about the love triangle, and unfortunately for me, I’m the laughing stock. The older woman, who was deceived by a younger man.” 

I wished I could lean through the monitor and hug her. While she was an expert at keeping her features neutral, she couldn’t stop the glassiness of her eyes when tears threatened. My heart broke that Manu would treat her so callously. She’d trusted him, and loved him unreservedly. “No one is laughing at you, I promise,” I said. “They’ll be talking about Manu, if anyone, and saying how he’s made a huge mistake.” 

“No, no.” A bitter laugh escaped her. “I look like a fool. I simply cannot handle when he cavorts through the streets with her, darting glances in my bookshop, like they hope I’ll see them. It’s too cruel.” Sophie held up a hand, and turned to a voice. She said au revoir to the customer and spun to face me, but within a second or two, the bell sounded again. “I have a proposal for you, and I want you to really consider it.” She raised her eyebrows. “Or at least hear me out before you say no.” Her gaze burned into mine as I racked my brain with what it could be, and came up short. Sophie waved to customers, and pivoted her screen further away.

“Well?” I said with a nervous giggle. “What exactly are you proposing?”

She blew out a breath, and then smiled. “A bookshop exchange. You come and run Once Upon a Time, and I’ll take over the Bookshop on the Corner.”

I gasped, my jaw dropping.

Sophie continued, her calm belied by the slight quake in her hand as she gesticulated. “You’ve always said how much you yearned to visit the city of love – here’s your chance, my dear friend. After our language lessons, you’re more than capable of speaking enough French to get by.” Sophie’s words spilled out in a desperate rush, her earlier calm vanishing. “You’d save me so much heartache. I want to be in a place where no one knows me, and there’s no chance for love, ever again.”

I tried to hide my smile at that remark. I’d told Sophie in the past how bereft of single men Ashford was, and how my love life had been almost non-existent until Ridge strolled into town. 

“Sophie, I want to help you, but I’m barely hanging on to the bookshop as is…” I stalled for time, running a hand through my hair, my bangs too long, shielding the tops of my eyebrows. How could it work? How would we run each other’s businesses, the financial side, the logistics? I also had an online shop, and I sourced hard-to-find books – how would Sophie continue that?

My mind boggled with the details, not to mention the fact that leaving my books would be akin to leaving a child behind. I loved my bookshop as if it were a living thing, an unconditional best friend, who was always there for me. Besides, I’d never ventured too far from Ashford let alone boarded a plane – it just couldn’t happen.

“Please,” Sophie said, a real heartache in her tone. “Think about it. We can work out the finer details and I’ll make it worth your while. Besides, you know I’m good with numbers, I can whip your sales into shape.” Her eyes clouded with tears. “I have to leave, Sarah. You’re my only chance. Christmas in Paris is on your bucket list…”

My bucket list. A hastily compiled scrappy piece of paper filled with things I thought I’d never do. Christmas in Paris – snow dusting the bare trees on the Left Bank, the sparkling fairy lights along the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Santa’s village in the Latin Quarter. The many Christmas markets to stroll through, rugged up with thick scarves and gloves, Ridge by my side, as I hunted out treasures. I’d spent many a day curled up in my own shop, flicking through memoirs, or travel guides about Paris, dreaming about the impossible…one day.

Sophie continued: “If you knew how I suffered here, my darling. It’s not only Manu, it’s everything. All of a sudden, I can’t do it all any more. It’s like someone has pulled the plug, and I’m empty.” Her eyes scrunched closed as she fought tears.

While Sophie’s predicament was different to mine, she was in a funk, just like me. Perhaps a new outlook, a new place would mend both our lives. Her idea of whipping my sales into shape was laughable though, she had no real clue how tiny Ashford was.

“Exchange bookshops…” I said, the idea taking shape. Could I just up and leave? What about my friends, my life, my book babies? My fear of change? And Ridge, what would he have to say about it? But my life…it was missing something. Could this be the answer?

Paris. The city of love. Full of rich literary history.

A little bookshop on the bank of the Seine. Could there be anything sweeter?

With a thud, a book fell to the floor beside me, dust motes dancing above it like glitter. I craned my neck to see what it was.

Paris: A Literary Guide.

Was that a sign? Did my books want me to go?

“Yes,” I said, without any more thought. “I’ll do it.”
 
The Little Paris Collection:
The Little Bookshop on the Seine
The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower
The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées


 

Book Beginnings #10

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I am currently reading Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo.

The monster's name was Izumrud, the great worm, and there were those who claimed he had made the tunnels that ran beneath Ravka. Sick with appetite, he ate up silt and gravel, burrowing deeper and deeper into the earth, searching for something to satisfy his hunger, until he'd gone too far and lost himself in the dark.


This is the third book in the Grisha series and I'm about half way through so far. The very beginning does seem a little disconnected from the rest of the story, and then I remembered that Alina's search is based on myth and legend. So really, it is kind of fitting. I also quite like how this first paragraph seems to act as a bit of a warning about getting in too deep.
 
I'm almost finished now, and I can't believe it. This is an awesome, awesome series. I will admit that I procrastinated a lot when it came to starting this book, because I didn't want it to end. The Grishaverse is wonderful. Amazing. Read it.
 
If you're in the UK you can win a signed copy of the first book here, and a signed copy of this book next week.

14 October 2015

Review + Giveaway: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22819449-shadow-and-bone
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha.
If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Fantasy, magic, evil, betrayal, love.
As I read this, I wasn't sure if I liked it. It's not that it's bad, it's just that I couldn't decide what I thought. I think this is one of those love/hate books and I could see both sides of the argument. So I was a little torn, but by the end I knew that I'd loved it.
Some bits of this book frustrated me. Really frustrated me. And some bits were a bit predictable. And some bits were a bit "I've read this before".
But I really enjoyed it. I read this book quickly, even around my working hours. It was an easy story to fall in to, to get lost in. For every little thing that annoyed my about Alina, there was something in the story to redeem her. For everything thing about Mal that made me sigh in frustration, there was something that reflected well on him.
I liked the ending, how this could easily be read as a standalone. Not that that will happen. I'll be reading on.

GIVEAWAY

This is a UK only giveaway of a signed copy of Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

13 October 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #42

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 Author Duos You'd LOVE To See Write A Book Together.
 
I fangirled so hard. I couldn't help it. That still didn't make it easy to come up with ten killer writing duos.
  1. Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo
    I saw these two speaking together last year and they just seemed to click SO WELL. It would be a crazy book full of awesome.
  2. Kevin Brooks and CJ Skuse
    I think something magical could happen here.
  3. Jonathan Stroud and Maureen Johnson
    It would be all of the creepiness ever. EVER!
  4. Sarah Morgan and Jenny Oliver
    Maybe some romantic series that spans the US and UK?
  5. Teri Terry and Helen Maslin
    Their writing is haunting in different ways, and it would definitely be a story that haunts you forever. And it would be super creepy. And it would probably make you a little bit wary of technology.
  6. Sharon Bolton and LJ Ross
    Oooh! OOOOH!
  7. Mia Thompson and Kara Taylor
    A grown up Anne teaming up with Sapphire to fight the rich baddies? YES!
  8. Sarra Manning and Eleanor Wood
    The ultimate girly YA.
  9. Gail Carriger and Colleen Gleason
    Steampunk ahoy! Just imagine what these two could create.
  10. Elizabeth Wein and Celia Rees
    Just think of what these two ladies could do with history. Makes me shiver.
 

Do you have a perfect writing duo in mind?

 
 

09 October 2015

Book Beginnings #9

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I am currently reading Monster by CJ Skuse.



That last week at school before the Christmas holidays, death was in everything.


Time for more YA Shot. Because I love UKYA. And I've read this author before and enjoyed her work a lot. This seems not only perfect for YA Shot, but also because it's October and I'm looking for something to give me a bit of a fright, and judging by the reviews this one is definitely going to do that.

06 October 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #41

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 Bookish Things I Want to Quit.
 
I actually found this list very difficult. And it made me think. And it made me realise that I should probably actually quit some of these things... Ooh and check out the post before this one, there's an awesome giveaway!
  • Reading Bad Books
    I really should just stop when a book is bad, but I hate when I have to DNF.
  • Completing a Series
    When I start a series, I have to finish. But this has led to a lot of bad books and a series going downhill. I should learn to quite when I'm ahead.
  • Buying Books
    Now, I don't mean not buying any books at all. I just mean exercising some self-restraint when I go into a bookshop. You know, not coming out with six books because it was 3 for 2 and isn't that a bargain?
  • NetGalley
    Too. Many. Books.
    My ratio/percentage is something stupid like 46%. There are just so many books and it's so easy to click away requesting everything.
  • Being Shy
    I'm quietly confident in life, cripplingly quiet online. That's something I need to sort out. Most people have it the other way around. I want to easily jump into all of these bookish conversations on Twitter.
  • Goodreads
    I'm never going to quit it completely, but I do need to stop spending all of my time on there not reading books. I read reviews and status updates and lists and blog posts, but I don't read books!
  • Not Planning
    What I really mean is that I have to start planning. I'm going to try and gets posts ready at least the day before instead of on the day.
  • Not Asking
    A lot of book bloggers ask publishers for books or to be put on blogger lists and such, but I don't. I just wait for the publisher/author to contact me. Which means I miss out on all of the good swag. Which sucks a bit.
  • Not Travelling
    I live waaaaay up North in the wild of Northumberland (ish) and so I miss pretty much every awesome book event in the UK. YALitCon? Too far. London Book Fair? Too far. Every blogger breakfast/brunch/picnic/cocktail party ever? Too far. YA Shot? Too far, but I had a lot of fun taking part in the blog tour. I need to change that and not be afraid to spend eight hours on a coach.
  • Procrastinating
    I got Queen of Shadows a couple of days before release (pre-order perk!) and I still haven't read past chapter 8. I'm putting it off. I'm purposely doing everything in my power not to read it. It's been over a month and I haven't read a single page. Because I don't want it to end or to have my sky high expectations dashed.

02 October 2015

Review & Giveaway: Pompidou Posse by Sarah Lotz

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26121936-pompidou-posse
Paris is eternal. Art is love. Friendship is forever. Except when it isn't.
You're seventeen. One night, more or less by accident, you set fire to a garden shed.
Naturally, you pack up and run off to Paris, certain you can make enough money off your art to get by. You're young, you're talented, you're full of life, and you have your best friend in all the world by your side.
What could possibly go wrong?

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Review Consideration 

5 Words: Friendship, runaway, poverty, Paris, freedom.

This book is one heck of a ride, right from the very start. It's boisterous and loud and scared and unsure all at once.

This is a book about teens, but it is definitely for an older audience. Aside from the language, there is drink and drugs aplenty.

The two protagonists are best friends, and they are very different from each other, so the way they bounce off of one another makes them really come to life. They each tell their own part of the story in such distinct voices that I never got confused once about who was doing the telling.

I'd say that Sage was probably my favourite character, although she did frustrate me at times.

I loved the lists. They were so funny, and I found myself flipping back through the pages to read them again.

This book would be best consumed with a pain au chocolat and the cheapest red wine you can find.

GIVEAWAY

Three lucky UK winners will win a paperback copy of Pompidou Posse by Sarah Lotz.


Book Beginnings #8

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I am currently reading One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot.

Hayley Walker had quit her job. She had quit her job. What had she been thinking?


This book has just come out (today!) and as I both love Mandy Baggot and festive fiction, I couldn't keep away. I had to have it.
 
I know that this is going to make me smile and laugh and probably want to cry a little, and I can't wait to get properly stuck in. I love that it seems to be just jumping right in a the deep end, plunging us into Hayley's problems.