31 December 2016

British Books Challenge 2017

If you know me, then you'll know that I have a huge and profound love of UKYA. So this challenge is right up my street.


The following criteria decides whether an author can count towards the challenge:
  • Authors who were born in the UK, live in the UK and are published in the UK
  • Authors who were born overseas but are CURRENTLY living in the UK and his/her books were/are being published in the UK first
  • Authors who were born in the UK are currently living overseas but his/her books are being published in the UK first
Each month, I am planning to read two books that fit the criteria. But, I am a mood reader, so planning out exactly what I'll read for the next year just won't work. There are several books I would like to tackle, so I'm listing out twelve of them and resolving to read them upon release.

Twelve brand new books I will definitely, absolutely read in 2017:
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
  • Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
  • Mind The Gap by Phil Earle
  • Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
  • Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
  • Waiting For Callback: Take Two by Perdita and Honor Cargill
  • Forever Geek by Holly Smale
  • Becoming Betty by Eleanor Wood
  • One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
  • The Fallen Children by David Owen
  • Contagion by Teri Terry
  • Songs About Us by Chris Russell
Check back each month to find review links and monthly wrap-ups below! I'll be adding them as I finish.
January
To come

February
To come

March
To come

April
To come

May
To come

June
To come

July
To come

August
To come

September
To come

October
To come

November
To come

December
To come


27 December 2016

SundayYAthon at Christmas

The amazing Rachel, the brains behind #SundayYA, is hosting another SundayYAthon and I couldn't be more excited. I've already hit my reading target for the year, but after utterly failing the last readathon, I am GOING TO COMPLETE THIS ONE.


What I'm Reading

I've decided to read five books this time, as well as completing the challenge. I'm working over the readathon, so as well as discreetly reading under my desk when it's quiet, I will likely be listening to at least one as an audiobook on my way to/from work. Some of the books hit multiple categories, so I've got that one nailed in just three books.

I'll tick them off as I go, and if you click on the title it'll take you to my review. Here are my books:


I'm using my KnockKnock You Are Here bookmarks to make notes, drinking lots of tea, and stuffing my face with chocolate oranges. Nom nom nom. So expect reviews to finish up the end!

I'd better go pick up a book now...

16 December 2016

Book Beginnings #27

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 The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher.

This story starts like all good stories do, a long time ago. Not just a long time ago, but a very, very, very long time ago. Squillions of years ago, in fact. Long before your granny and your grandad were born. Before there were any human beings at all. Before cars and aeroplanes, even before there was the internet, there was something better...
DINOSAURS!

This is going to be so much fun to read to my nephew! I'm sneakily reading ahead so I can get the pacing right and figure out how to personalise it for him. Knowing where granny and grandad will pop up means I'm already prepared to change it to nana and grandpa without stumbling.

I love the lyrical qualities to this story so far, it's very easy to read aloud and is promising to have the same humour and the author's other books. Also, my nephew loves dinosaurs. I think I'm on to a winner.

12 December 2016

Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...
🎄A Blogger's Best Friend Kit🎄

I love book blogging and I love the bookish community, and instead of more books (although books are great!) I thought I'd put together a little blogging kit. This little kit is packed with the things I find most helpful when blogging, the things that help keep me on track and make reviewing books easier.

The contents are a bit of a surprise for you, but will include things like a 2017 diary, bookmarks you can write on, and tea to keep you going.

11 December 2016

Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...
🎄Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Illustrated Edition🎄
Thanks to the glorious Seven Stories and their magical attic, I have seen the illustrations of Diagon Alley up close and massive. And they're wonderful.

Also, who can fail to love Harry Potter?

Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay's dazzling depiction of the wizarding world and much loved characters in this full-colour illustrated hardback edition of the nation's favourite children's book - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Brimming with rich detail and humour that perfectly complements J.K. Rowling's timeless classic, Jim Kay's glorious illustrations will captivate fans and new readers alike.

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he's the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord's curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous - or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

10 December 2016

Tenth Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...
🎄A signed copy of Unbecoming by Jenny Downham🎄
Here we have another of the wonderful signed books I picked up at YA Shot! I'm not joking when I say that I came back with a suitcase full of books, and it was the most fun I have ever had at a bookish event.

Three women - three secrets - one heart-stopping story.
Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can't reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie's grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and 'capable of anything', despite suffering from Alzheimers.
As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is 'badness' genetic? In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love.

09 December 2016

Book Beginnings #26

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 Bertie's Gift by Hannah Coates.

'Wheeee!' I launch myself across the wet kitchen lino on my rump for the seventh time. The world spins brilliantly with my body, and my ears begin to lift. 'Look at me, Molly, I'm skating.'

A Christmas story from the perspective of a Beagle? Colour me intrigued.

I've read a lot of books by this author writing under various pen-names, so I have very high hopes. I'm a little unsure to start with, because I know that the perspective will be a bit weird, but at the same time I' quite excited to be reading something so different. I don't think I've read anything from the perspective of an animal since I was thirteen, reading Animals of Farthing Wood.

Ninth Day of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...
🎄A signed copy of Acid by Emma Pass🎄
I absolutely love every book by Emma Pass, and Acid is probably my favourite. I first read it a few years ago now, and I still haven't managed to coherently review it, because it absolutely blew my mind. So when I went to UKYACX I not only took my books to be signed, but I picked  up some extra copies got them signed too.

The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong's world, ACID - the most brutal controlling police force in history - rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed - or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna's violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary. 

When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn't know who to trust?

08 December 2016

Eigth Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...
🎄A signed copy of The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury🎄
Don't you just love bookish events? I picked this beauty up at Seven Stories, where Melinda Salisbury and Leigh Bardugo were talking all things fantasy and magic and girl power. And also Harry Potter, because 90% millennials are in love with it still. During this talk, the marvellous Melinda talked about how TSD was a bit of a retelling and that got me thinking...

Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner.
As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?


07 December 2016

Seventh Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...

🎄A signed copy of Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery🎄
You know what the best thing about bookish events is? Meeting the authors. After hearing the author talking about this at UKYACX I couldn't not pick it up. It sounded incredible. So not only did I pick a copy up for myself, I picked up a spare and got it signed to give away!

Should she live or die? You decide. 
An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body.
Now Justice must prevail.
The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions - all for the price of a phone call.
Martha has admitted to the crime. But is she guilty? Or is reality sometimes more complicated than the images we are shown on TV? 

06 December 2016

#YAXmasTour2016 - Cora's Last-Minute Christmas Book Guide

Cora's Last-Minute Christmas Book Guide

Sometimes you remember, pretty last minute, that you forgot to get someone a gift... So thank goodness the bookshop is open on Christmas Eve! Here's a quick - last minute - gift guide to get you sorted.

Best for Wee Kids

I don't think you can get any funnier than this when it comes to Christmas books for kids, it's lots of fun and will have the big kids laughing too. Excellent illustration and lyrical writing make this perfect for bed time.

Best for Bigger Kids

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
This is a classic with a strong, girl-power core. It gives a good lesson in humility and what really matters in life.

Best for Young Teens

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens
Even if they've never read Wells & Wong before, they'll be sucked right into the mystery, trying to work out whodunnit.

Best for Older Teens

This a a very sweet anthology, filled with festive cheer and a good dose of the Warm Fuzzies. There's something for everyone in this collection.

Best for Reluctant Readers

The mix of poetry and prose, and the different writing styles offered, makes this perfect for reluctant readers. Well, perfect for everyone.

Best for the Romantic

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
I don't think you can get any more romantic than Snow Crystal at Christmas, and this start to the O'Neil Brother series is the perfect festive treat.

Best for the Bitter Cynic

Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen
This book is perfect for those who just don't want to feel the warm fuzzies. This book messes with your head, with a fantastically unreliable narrator.

Best for Any Age

V&A: The Twelve Days of Christmas by William Morris, Liz Catchpole
This book is absolutely beautiful! Mixing stunning historical works from William Morris with Liz Catchpole's sympathetic illustrations, this books makes the perfect gift for anyone.

Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...
🎄A signed copy of Lydia by Natasha Farrant🎄

This was one of the YAShot Group Reads this year and it was so much fun. I picked up a signed copy at YA Shot especially for this giveaway. I had already heard a lot about the book at YALC when I attended a workshop by the author on re-imagining classics. It was my favourite workshop and I wish I know who I'd been grouped with, because I think our Mrs Norris story idea was amazing.

Lydia is the youngest Bennet sister and she's sick of country life - instead of sewing and reading, she longs for adventure.
When a red-coated garrison arrives in Merryton, Lydia's life turns upside down. As she falls for dashing Wickham, she's swept into a whirlwind social circle and deposited in a seaside town, Brighton. Sea-bathing, promenades and scandal await - and a pair of intriguing twins.
Can Lydia find out what she really wants - and can she get it?
“It has started to snow. We all ran out when it began, and played at catching flakes as we used to when we were children. But it was cold, and our boots and gloves and cloaks were soon wet - you feel these things more when you are grown-up.” 

05 December 2016

Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...
🎄Book and a Brew Limited Edition Christmas Box🎄
Book and a Brew was the first subscription box I ever got, and it is absolutely the best value for money. It must be coming up two years now that I have been getting it. So I can't wait for one of you lucky people to get this limited edition Christmas box, complete with a selection of festive books and some delicious tea, all in time for Christmas!

This giveaway is UK Mainland only.

04 December 2016

Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...

🎄Signed copy of Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens🎄
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms - but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College.

Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident - until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).

This giveaway is UK/Ireland only.

03 December 2016

Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...

🎄Signed copy of ...And A Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne🎄
This was a surprise pick up at YA Shot - when I'd been helping out the night before it wasn't on the book stand, but in the morning there is was - and I'm pretty sure that I ran faster than ever before making from my workshop to her signing. And I don't run. But it was worth it!

Evie, Amber and Lottie are having a new year party to remember.
For the first time since leaving college, all three girls are back together. It's time for fun and flirting, snogs and shots.
(And not tears or tantrums or terrible secrets)
Because everything's going great for these girls - Spinster Club for ever! Right?

This giveaway is UK/Ireland only.

02 December 2016

Second Day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...


🎄Signed copy of The Look by Sophia Bennett🎄

When  I was at YA Shot I picked up a second copy of one of my favourite Sophia Bennett books and she very kindly signed it for me. The Look is perfect for fans of Geek Girls and Fashionista.

Ted doesn't think of herself as glamorous. But her gorgeous sister Ava is.
So when it's Ted who spotted by a model agency, at the same time that Ava is diagnosed with cancer, things have clearly gone very wrong. Ted isn't interested in modelling but Ava wants her to give it a try.
Just how far will Ted go to please her sister? And what sacrifices will she have to make?

This giveaway is UK/Ireland only.

01 December 2016

First Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, Cora gave to me...

🎄William & Joseph Scent Library Melt Edition🎄

The scent library is a monthly box of bookish scented surprises. In this festive themed box there are eight individual wax melts, with scents inspired by books from the likes of Charles Dickens, CS Lewis and Dr Seuss.

Get 10% off your first order by following this link.

This giveaway is mainland UK only.

29 November 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #74

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 Festive Reads for December.

OK, so this week was supposed to be a top ten holiday gift guide, but to be honest that'd give away my whole Secret Santa shopping list (I'm signed up to about six). So I changed it to something a lot closer to my heart, something that I'm SO looking forward to. Every December, I drop what I was reading before and throw myself into season reading. Anything festive or with even the merest hint of winter or Christmas and I'm on it.

I have a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway starting on Thursday, twelve whole days of giveaways on my blog, Twitter and Instagram, so check them out
Top Five from Previous Years
  1. Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
  2. All I Want for Christmas by Esme Taylor
  3. Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews
  4. Christmas is Cancelled by Aurelia Rowl
  5. A Christmas to Remember by Katie Flynn
Top Five Most Anticipated

28 November 2016

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Not all will be saved.

One glorious summer, Luke's family is torn apart. He's expecting nothing more sinister than exams, while his sister Abi anticipates university. But they'll be separated to do their slavedays - a decade of labour demanded by law, enforced by a magically-skilled aristocracy.

Luke will dream of rebellion in a barbaric factory town. Abi will navigate the malice of a high-born estate, and find an unlikely love. But the siblings must choose sides as Britain moves from anger to defiance. They'll become entangled in acts of savagery and magic, as nobles vie for power. No one is safe and none will emerge unscathed. Is there a better way - or will a dangerous young aristocrat remake the world with his dark gifts?


Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, slavery, magic, rebellion, separation.

This book was horrifying in the best of ways.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started reading Gilded Cage. Perhaps something fun and a little vapid, and totally unbelievable.

What I actually read couldn't have been more different.

Gilded Cage is a challenging read. It is challenging in content and the way it explores the current definitions of words. Being set in an alternate universe the world is startlingly familiar, yet chillingly different. I loved how the word "equal" was redefined, and its use in this context was perhaps the most striking thing in the book. It made what happened all the more powerful.

This is a world of magic and power, slavery and abuse. Each of the characters seemed to be trapped in their own little cage in so many different ways.

Starting off, my own cover-judging (what are blurbs, anyway?) meant that I was expecting sunshine and a HEA. I didn't expect the hard-hitting subject. I wasn't ready for it, I was surprised.

There is one scene at the end of chapter three which chilled me to the bone. It was heart-stoppingly repellent. I couldn't believe what I had just read, and all of a sudden the book changed and was so much darker than I could have possibly imagined.

Read this book. But be prepared. Be prepared for horror and heartbreak, be prepared for your heart to race and to be broken. Because this book is one hell of a ride.

18 November 2016

Book Beginnings #25

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 The Venetian Contract by Marina Fiorato.
Sebastiano Venier, Doge of Venice, gazed from the stone quatrefoil window, with eyes that were as troubled as the ocean.

Ever since I read Kit earlier this year, I have sought out this author. I'm already half way through this book and so far I have not been disappointed. Marina Fiorato writes fantastic historic fiction with strong, intelligent female protagonists, and the most delicious descriptions. As fantastic as some of her stories seem, there are always historical details anchoring the story to the real historical settings.

It is a pity about the cover - the main female protagonist is not white, she is described as having skin the colour of cinnamon, and it makes me quite sad to see that she isn't represented on the cover.

In terms of the first line, it doesn't give much away, but it does immediately spark my interest. what is troubling the Doge?

14 November 2016

Guestpost and Giveaway: Reimagining Happily Ever After By Laura Kenyon

Reimagining Happily Ever After

By Laura Kenyon

Like so many women today, I grew up on Disney movies and fairy tales. My mother says I saw “The Little Mermaid” in theaters at least a dozen times, and I know I made my family listen to every sing-along I could find during our four-hour drives to Cape Cod (sorry guys).

Even as late as high school, my friends and I often debated who among us was Sleeping Beauty, who was Jasmine, who was Ariel, who was Snow White, and so on. The arguments grew quite heated at times, and the verdicts were usually based purely on looks … but hey, isn’t that exactly how true love works in fairy tales? He’s handsome! She’s gorgeous! They kiss and their lives are going to be filled with butterflies and rainbows and infinite happiness forever after! It’s nauseating enough to make you root for the evil witch.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to launch a crusade against “happily ever after” or tell parents they shouldn’t let their daughters admire cartoon princesses. (I’ve actually laid out my opinion on that subject here, and it might surprise you.) But us adults know that real relationships take work. We know people fall in and out of love. We know life occasionally hurls giant boulders in our paths and we have to either turn back around or plot a way around them.

So where are our fairy tales?

For me, for example, I consider my husband to be better than any Prince Charming on record. But if you were to make a movie about our lives … well, let’s just say not all of it would be family friendly. There would be screaming matches, angry silences, and long, rainy walks with Snow Patrol crooning through the clouds. And for the most part, these moments would not be due to any evil witch or warlock. They would happen because someone’s tone of voice was a little bit off. Or someone kept checking their phone at dinner. Or someone was stressed about something else and just couldn’t put it aside at the door.

But at the same time, there would also be bright, colorful, wonderful scenes. There would be white lights and happy songs and nuzzling on a balcony in Tuscany. There would be a montage of tickling matches, snowball fights, babies being born, and puppies being cuddled. And in the long run, those happy scenes would far outnumber the others. But it would certainly be a different kind of fairy tale.

This is what I was thinking when I started writing Desperately Ever After, the first book in what grew into a three-novel series. I wanted to know what happened to these characters after the wedding bells. And more importantly, I wanted to know something that the original stories never told us—how they felt. What would they have said if they had the freedom to do so? If their choices weren’t marriage, poverty, or spinsterhood? If they had the luxury of deciding between the designated hero, someone else, or (gasp!) no man at all?

At the same time, I had no interest in doing the sort of modern fairy tale retelling where Cinderella has two evil roommates and works in the mailroom at Prince Charming’s Fortune 500 company. Nor did I want to take the jaded-artist route. In my opinion, there’s a difference between examining the characters Disney hid behind a rose-tinted lens, and leaping to the opposite extreme entirely. Making them more realistic is not the same as making them miserable. If that was the case, what does that say about us?

What I wanted to know was simple. Could Sleeping Beauty really have actually fallen for a complete stranger who found her in a bed and was presumptuous enough to kiss her? How did Rapunzel fare when she got out of her tower? Did Beast truly change when he was cursed or did he go back to his old ways after the honeymoon period wore off? Did Cinderella just jump from the frying pan into the fire when she traded indentured servitude for the confines of a royal life?

That’s why when it comes down to it, Desperately Ever After is about a group of women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They may be dealing with infidelity, temptation, aging, regret, stress, or the constant need to sacrifice their own dreams for the greater good. They may pretend they feel one way because they think it protects them, when really they feel the complete opposite. They may ignore problems that are right in front of their faces, or they may fabricate problems that don’t exist at all. Either way, it’s about real life and friendship and how one could never work without the other.


Pre-Order Giveaway!

Pre-order a copy of Skipping Midnight between now and November 15, and you could win one of two enchanting prize packages inspired by the Desperately Ever After series!

Prize Pack 1 (US only)


A signed paperback copy of all three novels in the series: Desperately Ever After (Book One), Damsels in Distress (Book Two), and Skipping Midnight (Book Three)

A stunning “Live like there’s no midnight” charm bracelet, custom made by My Initial Charm and inspired by the Desperately Ever After series

An assortment of treats for your next girls' night in (sorry, rampion not included!)

A snazzy memory box to ship it all in ;)

Prize Pack 2 (Worldwide!)

This fantastic set of six wine charms, handcrafted by Etsy artist Sarah VandenBrink (specifically for this giveaway!) and representing each of the six main characters: Belle, Rapunzel, Dawn, Penelopea, Snow White, and Cinderella.


To enter, please e-mail your proof of purchase (a screenshot will do) to laura (at) laurakenyon (dot) com by midnight November 15, 2016. Be sure to include your mailing address so you’re entered into the right contest(s). One winner will be selected via random drawing for each giveaway on November 16. Good luck!

Pre-order link: http://amzn.to/2dKeH5g

04 November 2016

Book Beginnings #24

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 A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab.
Kell wore a very peculiar coat. 
It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.
Everyone I talk to who has read this book has hyped it up. Everyone. Not a single person with whom I'm a friend on Goodreads has given this a rating below 4 stars. Same with those who I follow. So I guess it's time to jump in and hope I'm not disappointed!

I always do my Book Beginning as I read the first lines, and these first lines don't really excite me so much. Yes, they're interesting, there's a spark of what? in my mind, but they don't immediately grab me.

01 November 2016

Cover Reveal: Skipping Midnight by Laura Kenyon


One part Sex and the City. Two parts Desperate Housewives. Three parts Brothers Grimm.

For the women of Marestam, “happily ever after" has always come with a grain of salt. Be it infidelity or aging, deferred dreams or lost love, or even the pressures of raising a family, they have always seen each other through life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a brand new take on old-fashioned chivalry. But when rage and treachery take over, everything they hold dear comes under attack.

Suddenly, the monarchies are crumbling, Cinderella is missing, Belle is harboring the secret of all secrets, Rapunzel is facing the one dilemma she spent her whole life trying to avoid, and Dawn could lose everything she’s finally learned to love. In order to save everyone and unmask the wolf in their midst, this iconic group of friends must follow a dogmatic fairy no one trusts, invoke a magic no one understands, and face a past they thought they had buried long ago.

Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the rest of Marestam’s favorite females return in this third and final novel in Laura Kenyon's Desperately Ever After series, which takes a whimsical look at our most beloved fairy tale princesses several years after true love’s kiss.

At heart, it’s a tale of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.
---

The final chapter in the Amazon #1 bestselling Desperately Ever After series (women’s fiction fantasy, women’s fiction humor, and paranormal fantasy). Says New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Evanovich: “Laura Kenyon makes happily ever after desperately delicious!".

About The Author

LAURA KENYON is an award-winning journalist and the author of three novels, Desperately Ever After, Damsels in Distress, and Skipping Midnight. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and online publications. The Boston College graduate does not live in a castle, but has been blessed with a heroic prince charming, two beautiful princesses, and a noble steed.

To learn more about Laura, visit her website at www.laurakenyon.com and sign up for exclusive updates. She also loves connecting with readers on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook. And for a peek at how she envisions Marestam, check out her Desperately Ever After board on Pinterest.

Buy The Books


Pre-Order Giveaway!

Pre-order a copy of Skipping Midnight between now and November 15, and you could win one of two enchanting prize packages inspired by the Desperately Ever After series!

Prize Pack 1 (US only)


A signed paperback copy of all three novels in the series: Desperately Ever After (Book One), Damsels in Distress (Book Two), and Skipping Midnight (Book Three)

A stunning “Live like there’s no midnight” charm bracelet, custom made by My Initial Charm and inspired by the Desperately Ever After series

An assortment of treats for your next girls' night in (sorry, rampion not included!)

A snazzy memory box to ship it all in ;)

Prize Pack 2 (Worldwide!)

This fantastic set of six wine charms, handcrafted by Etsy artist Sarah VandenBrink (specifically for this giveaway!) and representing each of the six main characters: Belle, Rapunzel, Dawn, Penelopea, Snow White, and Cinderella.


To enter, please e-mail your proof of purchase (a screenshot will do) to laura (at) laurakenyon (dot) com by midnight November 15, 2016. Be sure to include your mailing address so you’re entered into the right contest(s). One winner will be selected via random drawing for each giveaway on November 16. Good luck!

Pre-order link: http://amzn.to/2dKeH5g

31 October 2016

Review: The Vanished by Celia Rees

The dark stuff sent to Fraser and Cassie's student newspaper is disturbing.

Old tales are being rewritten. Tales of plague graves, and forbidden woods where children vanish. Hidden steps leading to a decaying underworld. Old songs used to ensnare the innocent.

But they're just horror stories - aren't they?

Then the first child is taken...


Source: Library | Purchase

5 Words: School, mystery, disappearance, horror, family.

I've pretty much lost count of how many times I've read this book. I still remember the first time I read it. I was twelve years old, in maths, and we were doing a statistics exercise about word count and letter count in books. I picked this one.

This is a great little horror, and as much as there is such a fantastical ending, it feels very much grounded in realism. It's quite a chilling read, and even now (well over ten years since my first read) I feel a little nervous when I'm underground or walking past the culvert.

I also liked how this story explored family dynamics and the complications of friendship and teenage attraction. I liked the way the narrative focused on different characters, so that we got a broader view of what was happening.

This is an oldie, but I absolutely love it. It's out of print and you can't get it in e-book format, but there are used copies floating around everywhere.

28 October 2016

Book Beginnings #23

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 The Vanished by Celia Rees.
Tunnels and culverts, storm drains and mine workings, caves and quarries, underground entrances of every kind, opening like jaws. One after another he pinned the photographs on to the board.

I still remember the exact moment I first read this book. I was in my Year 8 Maths class, and we had to take the first 100 words of a book and do a statistics exercise based on the length of the words and the letters used in the sample. I was going through one of my earlier rebel stages and picked this book purely because of the creepy cover, but I absolutely loved it and read the whole thing twice through.

It's almost 15 years later and I'm reading it again. I know exactly what to expect from Celia Rees.

25 October 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #73

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 Halloween and Autumn Books.

Yaaaay for seasonal reads!

Cora's List
  • Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud
  • Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
  • Say Her Name by Juno Dawson
  • Hunger by Melvin Burgess
  • Darkmere by Helen Maslin
  • Shades of London by Maureen Johnson
  • Saxon's Bane by Geoffrey Gudgeion
  • Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann
  • The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow
  • Stoker & Holmes by Colleen Gleason


Steph's List
  • Every book by Diana Wynne Jones ever
  • Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud
  • Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan
  • Than Vanished by Celia Rees
  • Old Kingdom by Garth Nix
  • Vampire Academy by Rachel Mead
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
  • Shadowmancer by GP Taylor
  • Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

11 October 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #72

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 Event Tips.

YES I'm hijacking this meme for my own purposes AGAIN. But I'm just so excited about YA Shot that I couldn't not! I'm writing this drawing on my own (terrifying!) experience at YALC earlier this year, various author events, and UKYACX.

  • Research the event
    Every event is different, so make sure you find out a bit about it. Is it a relaxed event? Is it more formal and structured? Are there any talks/workshops/panels you really want to go to? WHERE IS IT? HOW WILL YOU GET THERE? WILL THERE BE CAKE?
  • Book early
    Mostly so you know you can definitely go! The last thing you want is for it to be sold out. For YA Shot I booked as far ahead as I could because it meant I got the best rates for travel/accommodation. With YALC it was very spur-of-the-moment and last minute but I managed to get my train tickets in the sale so all was not lost.
  • Bring money
    Actually, bring more money than you'll think you'll need. Just in case. Because books. (And also food but mostly books). I actually ended up spending less than I thought at YALC but it was good to know that I had extra if I needed it. At UKYACX I went waaaay overboard, but because I took more than I thought I'd need it was OK and I had the freedom to do so.
  • Dress comfortably
    OK so a lot of people at Comic Con will be dressed up, but you're going to be on your feet A LOT do you really need heels? Have layers you can put on/take off because temperatures will vary. Also, that vintage tea dress with the huge petticoat looks amazing but how crumpled will it get on the train/bus/tube?
  • Bring sugar
    Or just snacks, but I find sugar filled snacks work best. I tend to be too anxious to eat much so a few Haribo Star Mix (my favourite BTW) shoved in my gob every so often keeps me on my feet. Also, you can share them with the fellow bookworms you meet.
  • Bring water
    As big a bottle as you can manage. Then when it's empty you can toss it in the bin and the space in your bag can be filled with books. Plus you'll be hydrated which is nice and healthy. Balances out the Haribo.
  • FIND THE TEA
    Find the place that's selling tea because that is obviously the second most important things at these events (after books) and the place with tea usually has other useful things like sandwiches and CAKE and toilets nearby. Also, tea is amazing.
  • Ask before touching
    The thing I liked most about YALC is that book bloggers TOTALLY UNDERSTAND that it'ts not OK to just touch people. "Can we hug?" Is a lot nicer than just glomping someone, and a lot less likely to get you smacked across the head with a bag of books (not that us bookworms would really risk damaging our books) but just respect that people have boundaries and want their personal space to stay theirs.
  • Talk to people
    This one can be hard, but just take the plunge and say "Hi!" because the worst that can happen is that they don't hear you and you walk away slightly embarrassed. Bookish people are the best people. If an author is signing a book, chat with them a little because can you imagine anything worse than an endless line of sullen, silent people shuffling forward for a signature? Also, authors seem to like to talk about their baby book.
  • Take time out
    Don't be afraid to find a quiet corner and just sit and chill. Get your breath back. Relax. Reflect on what you've done so far and decide if there's anything you still want to do. Give your legs a break too, because if you've been on your feet all day your poor tootsies will need a rest even if you're in your comfiest shoes.

10 October 2016

Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something... and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction - to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world - and a romance - she never imagined... but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all - yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.


Source: NetGalley Request

I got to read the first five chapters of this courtesy of Epic Reads First 5 (it's awesome, sign up!) and I was instantly sucked right in to the story and desperate for more. So, now that I have my hands on a copy, shall we see how it goes..?

5 Words: Friendship, family, secrets, lies, sci-fi.

There are a lot of comparisons to Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars out there for this book - and I'd definitely say fair game, it's very similar. But I absolutely enjoyed this more. Until the end.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book, I can't decide myself whether it's ultimately good or bad, so list time!

The Good

  • Poor Little Rich Girl. Sometimes you need your fix.
  • The world. I mean, yes it confusing, but as far as sci-fi goes it hit a lot of well done tropes, did them well, and kinda made sense.
  • Pure enjoyment. It was easily to suspend disbelief and just go with it.
  • The diversity. I loved the mix of rich and poor, and how it was totally normal and completely OK for characters to have same-sex relationships.
  • Family dynamics. I love me a complicated family, and the families in this were so messed up.


The Bad

  • Poor Little Rich Girl. Sometimes there are too many in one story.
  • All of the characters. It took me until about half way through to book to be able to tell the characters apart.
  • All of the stories. There were so many things going on that it was difficult to keep track.
  • Incest. That's just icky and unnecessary. I don't care that they're "not related" they've been raised as brother and sister.
  • Cheating. I'm not a fan of it in any way, shape or form, but it is pretty standard in this type of book and The Thousandth Floor was no different.


Right, so... I'm still undecided. I think my feelings on this will very much depend on my mood.

06 October 2016

Blog Tour: Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Jeanie has been married for thirty years, but her husband George has become so cold and distant she may as well be alone. Surely, at just sixty, a loveless marriage can't be the only thing left on the horizon? Then, one Thursday in autumn, Jeanie meets Ray in the park, and a chance meeting blossoms into a friendship.

They talk, laugh, share hopes and secrets and heartbreaks.

They offer each other a second chance at life and love.

But will they have the courage to take it?


Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration | NetGalley Request

5 Words: Secrets, family, love, life, relationships.

This was a perfect read for when the evenings are drawing in.

I loved Jeanie, and how despite her age she still had dreams and aspirations, she wasn't content to be old and do old-people-things. She kept her character, she kept who she was, despite a husband trying very hard to stop her for so much of her life. So many older characters in books seem content to be old and I loved reading Jeanie's joie de vivre.

This is definitely not a super-slow, relaxing read. Despite the languorous (and quite sad) beginning, it goes on to pack a surprising punch with its pace and its wit and is thoroughly enjoyable. I couldn't put it down!

Don't let the age of the protagonist put you off - I'm in my mid twenties and found this book refreshing and delightful.


04 October 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #71

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 Reasons You Should Come to YA Shot (and gift a ticket if you can't).

YES I'm hijacking this meme for my own purposes. But you absolutely should come to YA Shot if you can, and if you can't (and can afford a ticket) you should totally buy a gift ticket so that someone local who cannot afford to can go.

  • Over 70 marvelously amazing authors will all be in one place
  • ALL* OF THE BOOKWORMS WILL BE THERE and everyone knows bookworms are the best
  • It's for an excellent cause and one everyone should be supporting
  • You can get your books signed - I'm taking a suitcase full
  • You can buy books and get them signed - I will be buying an additional suitcase to take them back
  • Writing workshops where published authors share their hallowed secrets
  • ME! I WILL BE THERE!
  • Your ticket has YEAR LONG repercussions so you can feel all warm and fuzzy and charitable until you buy another ticket next year
  • Everyone should have access to books and authors and that's what it's all about
  • The whole UKYA community is amazing and lovely and inclusive and all coming together for bookish fun
So that's it really. Head on over to the YA Shot website where you can buy tickets for yourself or gift a ticket for a young person who can't afford it.

24 September 2016

Blog Tour: Review: The Deviants by CJ Skuse

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?5 Words: Secrets, friendship, relationships, family, loyalty.


Source: YALC Freebie | Blog Tour | NetGalley Request

5 Words: Secrets, friendship, relationships, family, loyalty.

Slow and steady wins the race.

And this book definitely won.

I always find myself quite thrown when I read a slower-paced thriller. It's always a shock to the system and there are two ways it can go - with The Deviants it was amazing and I was not disappointed. Slow definitely does not mean boring, and it certainly does not mean than the story is any less intense.

I loved the style, I loved the format, I loved how everything was drip-fed and prompted, it was almost like a horror in how I came to certain realisations and how everything built up in intensity into an ending I wasn't quite expecting. I loved the setting and how it seemed to accentuate everything - it's a sleepy seaside town emptied of tourists, where nothing much ever happens and everyone knows everyone.

I really loved Ella and how so many people thought that they knew her, thought that they knew what was best for her. For all of the times she thought that she was being a bitch, deep down she seemed to be a really nice person.

This book tackles a lot of important and difficult subjects. I could pick out so many quote to share, but then I might spoil the story.

20 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #70

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 Audiobooks.

I am very picky about the audiobooks I listen to, and I tend to be quite sporadic about actually listening to them. I definitely do have an ultimate favourite narrator, and I honestly have every performance of hers. Rachael Louise Miller is just outstanding.
  • The Hunger by Melvin Burgess, read by Rachael Louise Miller
  • The Quietness by Alison Rattle, read by Annie Hemingway
  • Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsey, read by Mike Rogers
  • The Clockwork Scarab by Coleen Gleason, read by Jayne Entwistle
  • Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering, read by Rachael Louise Miller
  • Scarlet by AC Gaughen, read by Helen Stern
  • Silent Scream by Angela Marsons, read by Jan Cramer
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, read by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell
  • The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne, read by Rachael Louise Miller
  • Open Road by Emery Lord, read by Rebecca Gibel

13 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #69

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 All Time Favourite UKYA Books.

My one true love. This was so hard, because UKYA has the most incredible selection of books.

  • Junk by Melvin Burgess
  • Lucas by Kevin Brooks
  • Darkmere by Helen Maslin
  • Acid by Emma Pass
  • Slated by Teri Terry
  • Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
  • Pirates! by Celia Rees
  • Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale
What's your favourite UKYA book?