23 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #54

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 We Enjoyed Recently that Weren't Our Typical Genre or that Were Out of Our Comfort Zone.

I actually found this one quite difficult, because I give everything a go. I read all genres (even if it's only YA/NA/Women's that makes it on to the blog). So instead, I'm doing the top ten books I've read this year. So far. In order read.
  • All That Glitters by Vicky Pattison
  • All of the Above by James Dawson
  • Match Me If You Can by Michelle Gorman
  • Between Shadows by Chanel Cleeton
  • Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
  • The Canal Boat Cafe by Cressida McLaughlin
  • Just Haven't Met You Yet by Cate Woods
  • The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh by Marina Fiorato
  • The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts
  • The Tribute Bride by Theresa Tomlinson
What has been your favourite read so far this year?

19 February 2016

Book Beginnings #19

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 Tribute Bride by Theresa Tomlinson.

The timbered hall at Eforwic was ripe with smells of wood smoke, humanity, stale cooking and damp fur. The hunting dogs and house cats growled and hissed at each other as they jostled for warmth around the hearth. It had rained steadily for two days and even the beasts refused to put their noses outside.

Last Friday, news broke that a local museum, Bede's World, had closed its doors. There was no warning, the staff came in at 09:00 that morning and by 10:30 they had no job and no pay. The museum celebrated the life and achievements of The Venerable Bede, the patron saint of Historians and English Writers, and the the so-called Father of English History. It incorporated a replica Anglo Saxon farm, complete with animals and a rebuilt Anglo Saxon village based on The Thirlings in Northumberland.

Why is this even relevant to this post? Because the author used Bede's World in her research process. Bede is the reason we know about the dark ages, the time period when this book was set. He wrote about history, but he also wrote of contemporary events. He traced the bloodlines of kings, tribal allegiances, religion beliefs. He wrote about England forming as a single kingdom rather the the myriad tiny kingdoms it had been. The museum and it's model of Yeavering Bell helped shape the village in the novel.

I realise now that I've kind of hi-jacked my own blog post. But this is something that is so SO important to me and practically anyone who has ever studied history. There is a campaign to save Bede's World, and it only takes a minute to sign the petition. Please do.

I can't wait to get stuck into this book. Even from that first paragraph, I am excited to travel back in time. Already I love the writing style, and I can't wait to see what direction the story goes in. I love the attention to detail, and I'm sitting feeling cold as I read, despite being in a cosy office. Powerful writing!

15 February 2016

Blog Tour Review and Interview: Just Haven't Met You Yet by Cate Woods

Percy James has everything a girl could want: a comfy flat, a steady relationship and a truly lovely group of friends.

Then she is approached by Eros Tech. Eros is 'the future of love' - an agency that brings together soulmates using mobile data.

Percy has been identified as a match for one of Eros's super wealthy clients.

The only problem is she already has a boyfriend . . . but what if this is destiny? Would you - could you - pass up a chance to meet your one true love?


Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Romance, friends, soulmates, dating, lies.

From the blurb, the cover, and my own expectations, I thought I knew what I was getting into when I picked up this book.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

This is a wonderfully unexpected read with many little twists and turns that set it apart from your average rom-com chick-lit while still retaining the power to have you laughing out loud. It is perfect for brightening your day, for snuggling up with on a rainy day with a cup of coffee or a shot of tequila.

While covering all of the usual tropes - the failing relationship, the parent-pressure, the misunderstanding and secrets - this book manages to make them all seem like they've never been written before.

This is a relatively fast paced story, particularly for its genre. There are no lulls where nothing happens, it's all action. It's also a little bit inspiring, I loved how the main character was challenged by what was happening to her and in turn challenged herself to do those things she had always wished.

Go and grab yourself a hot and/or alcoholic drink and settle yourself down with this book. You're in for one heck of a ride.


Interview

This is the bit where I get to pick the author's brains, and I'm sure you'll agree that her answers are fascinating.

Do you believe in true love and soul-mates?

I think it’s a wonderful idea in theory: that there’s one perfect person out there for each of us. And I think most of us probably believe in soulmates at the start of a relationship. You stare into the eyes of your new love, intoxicated by their wondrousness (and probably some alcohol), and you think: “Yes, you are The One. I have found you. This is DESTINY.” It’s only months, or possibly years, later, when the sheen of their bewitching newness has rubbed off, that you find yourself wondering whether your soulmate really would leave their toenail cuttings all over the bathroom floor.

What do you think of love at first sight/insta-love?

I think that more often than not it’s probably lust at first sight... Sorry, for an author of a rom-com I’m not coming across as very ‘rom’, am I? Honestly, I’m a sucker for a wonderful love story, but I do think it’s usually our hormones rather than our heart that’s in control when we first fall for someone.

If you could go on a date with any fictional character, who and why?

I think J K Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) has created such an intriguing character in Cormoran Strike, the one-legged war veteran turned detective. He is brilliant, but damaged – and just a little bit dangerous. Very appealing. Plus we both have curly hair, so he might be able to give some styling tips. I am on a lifelong quest to find a decent leave-in conditioner.

What would be your ideal fictional date location?

I think Cormoran would probably be happiest in a pub, so we’d have to meet in some grimy backstreet Soho drinking hole, but if the date was going well then hopefully I’d be able to persuade him to go to dinner at Nobu.

What's your own favourite loved up book to read?

I am a Sophie Kinsella super-fan, so anything written by her - although I do prefer her stand-alone novels, such as I’ve Got Your Number, to the Shopaholic series.

Who’s your favourite couple from a book?

Don and Rosie from The Rosie Project. It’s not your typical love story by any means, but I always find myself drawn to the more off-the-wall, quirky characters. I’m currently reading the follow-up, The Rosie Effect.

What would be the top song on your romantic playlist?

‘Day Too Soon’ by Sia. I got married in Italy a couple of years ago and this was our first dance. It does go on a bit though: I found myself wondering how much longer I would have to shuffle around the dancefloor for!

If you were in the same situation as Percy, what would you do?

Do you mean would I risk everything to meet my soulmate? Absolutely! I am very nosey and I would want to know exactly who they were and what they were like. Wouldn’t everybody…?

How do you write? Are you a planner or do you just let it flow?

A few years ago I ghostwrote a couple of novels for a TV presenter and as she wanted to okay the storyline before I got started I had to write a detailed outline, so I’ve got in the habit of being a planner. Also, I had only written a third of Just Haven’t Met You Yet when my agent showed it to publishers, which meant I needed to provide a complete synopsis so they would know how it ended.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned while writing?

Ooh, good question. I suppose it’s that there’s no right - or wrong - way to write a book. Before starting work on Just Haven’t Met You Yet I spent ages researching how to write a novel, and I’d get stressed that I wasn’t doing the things that these ‘experts’ were saying you must do if you want to be a successful author, such as making sure you write every day. I’ve now realised that there are as many ways to write a book as there are writers.

13 February 2016

Review: The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh

Of all the dangers she faced, the greatest was discovery...

When Irish beauty Kit Kavanagh's husband is taken for a soldier, Kit enlists in the Duke of Marlborough's regiment, disguised as a man, to follow him across war-torn Italy. Risking her life in battle, she forms a close bond with her wry and handsome commanding officer, Captain Ross.

But even when she dresses once more as a woman to evade capture, the war is not over for Kit. She catches the eye of the scheming Duke of Ormonde, who recruits her to spy upon the French.

Torn between Captain Ross and her husband, and under the orders of the English Crown, Kit's life will be in more danger now than on any battlefield. 


Source: Review Consideration | Purchase | Library

5 Words: Love, war, family, deception, strength.

!!! BOOK HANGOVER ALERT !!!

This book was absolutely amazing. I loved it in every way and at the end I was heartbroken and speechless.

Inspired by Mother Ross, this is a whirlwind of an adventure. Kit has so many identities, and she almost became a different character as her life turned from publican to soldier to spy and her name changed from Kit to Christian to Christiane. But right there, at the very heart of the narrative, she was still the same astounding young woman.

My favourite parts of the story were those set with the Dragoons. I loved Captain Ross and his relationship with his men. He was fair and just and an all round wonderful character.

I loved the exploration of forbidden relationships, and how thin the line between friendship-love and romance-love can be. I also loved how extenuating circumstances can change so much in such a very short time, and how thoughts are clouded by what someone wants to see.

Before reading
I am just starting this, but when I heard about it I jumped at the chance to read it. It sounds so exciting. And the cover is beautiful (and I'm a magpie who likes pretty things)

From the blurb, it sounds like it's going to be a bit of an Irish Mulan-type story that escalates into espionage, with a dash of forbidden love and lots and lots of danger. It sounds so exciting!

12 February 2016

Book Beginnings #18

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 Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve.


Surely that was too much blood for anyone to lose.

This is the YA Shot Read-a-long for February and I'm probably about 5 chapters in so far and loving it. It's very different, a little bit gruesome, and I'm not sure where it's going yet, but I'm definitely enjoying it, and I'm finding it quite difficult to take my time. We're reading this over the whole month and all I want to do is finish it now!

As for this start? It's short and shocking, and starts the story with one heck of a bang. Who is bleeding? Why are they bleeding? Why is this character watching them bleed? 

11 February 2016

Release Day Review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting.

Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be.

But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.


Source: NetGalley Request

5 Words: Friendship, abuse, rebellion, school, family.

Well, that was pretty heartbreaking.

When I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think that I was reading something significant. This isn't your usual story about teen romance. Instead it's about all of the trials and tribulations of friendship. And that friendship was so real, so complicated, that I couldn't help but smile and laugh and cry along with the ups and downs.

The lack of romance in this book was refreshing. The head-on tackle of mental illness and various social stigmas was outstanding. Overall it was a fantastic read, and I couldn't put it down.

I loved how friendship and family was explored, how rebellion reared its head and was dealt with.

09 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #53

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 Couples We Ship.

It's been a very busy week this week, with blog tours and giveaways, and I didn't think I'd be able to come up with ten on my own, so I asked my little librarian friend Steph to help and come up with five of her own. It turns out that we both ship too many couples and easily came up with a list of ten each!

Cora's List

Steph's List

07 February 2016

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull

In the 18th century, Dawnay Price is an anomaly. An educated foundling, a woman of science in a time when such things are unheard-of, she overcomes her origins to become a natural philosopher.

Against the conventions of the day, and to the alarm of her male contemporaries, she sets sail to Portugal to develop her theories. There she makes some startling discoveries - not only in an ancient cave whose secrets hint at a

previously undiscovered civilisation, but also in her own heart. The siren call of science is powerful, but as war approaches she finds herself pulled in another direction by feelings she cannot control.


Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Circumstance, science, religion, discovery, adversity.

This was an excellent read that made me feel a little warm and fuzzy - and probably not for the reasons you'd think. Especially since there are plenty of heartbreaking scenes.

I loved Dawnay. She's just incredible, with a voracious mind and a fierce will and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants - even if that means questioning her own morals and beliefs. She is a rather straight-forward thinker and not the most emotional of people, so she does inadvertently hurt those around her. Despite that, I couldn't help but love her inquisitive self.

At the beginning I was a little thrown by the narration style. It did't quite sit right until a few chapters in when it all suddenly made sense. This is a very classically styled novel, and Dawnay's journey is incredible. She's quite a cynical thinker, and I loved how this came across in the narration.

My favourite part of this whole story was probably the caves. Out of everything, I thought that this was the most important catalyst to the story, the one thing that pushed the story in a different direction. They were brilliantly described, I could picture them perfectly and was just as infatuated as Dawnay.

I had hoped that there wouldn't be a romantic theme to this story, and despite an affair as controversial as the protagonist, it didn't steal from the wonder of the main story. And it made sense too, for the tensions to come to a romantic head.

This is a fantastic story about a fierce and independent young woman in a world where such a person just does not have a place in society. And it's amazing. It's challenging and I thought it was quite relevant even for today's world, hundreds of years later.

GIVEAWAY

This is a UK only giveaway to win a copy of Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull, enter using the rafflecopter below. Good luck!

05 February 2016

Book Beginnings #17

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.


The red haired girl was the bravest.

Another book that gives nothing away with the first paragraph! Perhaps it's a theme with historical fiction? I am just starting this, but when I heard about it I jumped at the chance to read it. It sounds so exciting. And the cover is beautiful (and I'm a magpie who likes pretty things)

From the blurb, it sounds like it's going to be a bit of an Irish Mulan-type story that escalates into espionage, with a dash of forbidden love and lots and lots of danger. It sounds so exciting!

03 February 2016

Blog Tour Review: Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly... she's apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers - and, to her dismay, by Blake - the school's notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle's wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers over the elements. But the comet has another effect--it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it's up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town... and possibly the world.


Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Witches, elements, friendship, teamwork, family.

After a slightly shaky start, this book really picked up.

At first, I didn't really like Nicole. As wonderful as she was supposed to be, she came across as quite nasty. I couldn't click with her, I rolled my eyes a lot. I just wished she could have been a little nicer, taken the high road. It would have made me like her a little more likeable.

So it's a good thing I enjoyed the story itself. Once I got into it, I found that I couldn't put it down. I loved the pace and how it kept building and building.

If you've ever read my reviews of similar Greek-Myth-God inspired stories then you'll know that they usually don't gel well with me. But this one? I loved it. There was a logic behind it all, it made sense. I could almost believe it. I was more than pleasantly surprised.

01 February 2016

YA Shot Read-A-Long Review: All of the Above by James Dawson

When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in.

Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who's the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the 'alternative' kids take Toria under their wing.

And that's when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band - and it's instalove at first sight!

Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there's Polly...love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles. 


Source: NetGalley Request

5 Words: Friends, family, love, school, discovery.


Oh man. That was amazing.

This is the book that I wish I had read ten years ago.

This book is the most honest portrayal of being a teen I have ever read. It was like reading my own teenage years, only we had cider and perry, not fizzy dessert wine. And we didn't have a crazy-golf course to hang around on, instead we had a den in the woods. But still.

All of the Above is absolutely fantastic. It will make you smile and cry and laugh and just stare into space, thinking. This book called to my soul.

It felt like the author had a "diverse book" checklist, ticked everything off, ripped it into millions of pieces and let them float away on the wind... Then did his own thing. And the result is breath-taking and real and utterly sublime. I recognised a little of myself in many of the characters, and I fell a little bit in love with all of them. So when my heart was broken, it was completely shattered.

Also, Polly all the way.

February's Book

Throughout February, we're reading Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve.

In the remote country of Angle Tar, apprentice hedge-witch Vela Rue has had strange dreams all her life: mysterious and incredibly real. Then she learns that her dreams mean something more - and that her government will do anything to nurture her talent.

Embarking on her clandestine training, she meets the enigmatic White, who has been forced to flee his own unforgiving country to the safer realm of Angle Tar. White is seen as a prodigy - perhaps even the ultimate weapon the government have been waiting for.

But the electric attraction between Rue and White may spell disaster... or change everything.

Join the Read-A-Long!

If you're not interested in this book, or if you've already read it and don't fancy a a re-read, still check the group out. There are monthly read-a-longs and buddy-reads and UKYA discussions and it's lots of fun. And closer to the YA Shot event you'll find author interviews and Q&As and features and all sorts of other fun goodies.