22 September 2017

Book Beginnings #53

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.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley P. Beaulieu.
Çeda found Brama by the river. 
She watched from within a stand of cattails, where she hunkered low, cool river lapping at her ankles.
I am just starting this now, as I type. I honestly know nothing about this book except that it's a prequel to a book I almost bought, so fingers crossed it's as good as the guy in Waterstones said!

I'm hoping it's a nice introduction to the world, because the The Song of the Shattered Sands series looks interesting but it is dauntingly long! And someone mentioned assassins.
Just when she was ready to sit up, she heard the door opening, and this time many sets of footsteps approached.
So. Yeah. I don't know what's happening here. I'm not up to page 56 yet! But skimming the page, it seems to be exciting.

What are you reading this weekend?

21 September 2017

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place - she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands.

At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort - a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity.

As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

Source: NetGalley Request | Subscription Box

5 Words: Family, obligation, magic, entitlement, freedom.

This came in my May FairyLoot box, but it was only because I'd guessed the book that I hadn't already pre-ordered it anyway. Phew.

I was supposed to be reading it with my buddy, but she started and just didn't stop. I barely managed to hold myself off reading it all in one go - having to go to work definitely helped because this book was hard to put down. I found myself addicted to the writing.

I liked how Mariko developed and changed, but god was she whiny. I understand that she was brought up in such a way that she would naturally be entitled and snobbish and think herself better, but I would have preferred her more humble. I did like her feminist streak and her inspiring strength and self-belief, how she pushed herself. I loved her intelligence and how she never hid it.

I won't say that this book is without problems, but I would say that calling it a Mulan retelling isn't fair on the story or the cultures it lends from. I found it easy to suspend disbelief in the fantasy setting, and I liked that the world wasn't explained; as a reader you discovered the world as the characters explored it. But I have read better books from a similar setting.

There is a romance and a "twist" that I found disappointingly predictable (Oh hey there, Broody McHottiepants! Nice to see you here.) but they fit with the story and the trope. As I expected them, they didn't add much to the story for me.

This was enjoyable and I will definitely read on and read more by the author. I loved the writing style enough to forgive anything I didn't like so much in the story itself - I liked the story and the story was good, but it wasn't exceptional. The writing however? Amazing.

19 September 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #100

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

This week is Top Ten Books On My Autumn TBR.

I am terrible at sticking to a set TBR list (as evidenced by me doing #TheReadingQuest - I read a lot of books that didn't even count in any way) but here are some that I would love to get to this autumn and read as the nights draw in.

And yes, some of them are rereads.
  • Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
    This has been on my TBR forever, but somehow I've never got round to it. With the author's #SexyHistory posts I am now more eager than ever to read it.
  • Fir by Sharon Gosling
    This. Book. It is excellent! The whole Red Eye series was made for reading in autumn, and this on particularly for that first snow. I reviewed it here.
  • Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena
    Taking back the identity of the outcast, unruly woman and reclaiming it as a positive, empowering lifestyle? GET IT TO ME NOW.
  • Hands up if you loves A Little Princess! I can't wait for this story about Lottie, the power of friendship, and female empowerment. Sensing a theme here?
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
    I love stories inspired by mythology and folklore, so I can't wait to see Gaiman's take.
  • The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
    What's this? Another interpretation of Norse gods? Well, you can't say I'm not predictable. after hearing the author talk a little at YALC I can't wait to get stuck in.
  • Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
    Fun Fact 1: I actually hate Jane Austen's writing. Can't stand it.
    Fun Fact 2: I bloody love the stories and retellings and interpretations.
  • I have purposefully been putting this off and waiting until autumn to read it, which has been very difficult considering it's excellent cover and rave reviews. Friendship and demonic possession? Yes please.
  • The Fandom by Anna Day
    I absolutely love anything about fandoms. I love the passion and how people are brought together, the feeling of belonging that comes with being a fan of something.
  • The Extinction Trials by Susan Wilson
    So uh... I don't actually know anything about this book. But the buzz around it is incredible and everyone is saying it's amazing. So naturally I want to read it.

15 September 2017

Blog Tour: Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women's freedom.

May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?

10 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About The Suffragettes 

by Sally Nicholls

1. There was no such thing as a single ‘suffrage movement’. Like the environmental movement, it was made up of lots of smaller organisations. Some were local groups like the East London Federation of the Suffragettes, some religious like the Friends’ League for Women’s Suffrage, while others were organised by profession like the Actors Franchise League. More militant groups were generally members of Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union, while those who preferred peaceful methods generally joined Millicent Fawcett’s National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. 
2. The colours of the WSPU were green, white and violet – which stood for Get Women Votes. 
3. Suffragettes weren’t all white and middle-class – although Emmeline Pankhurst preferred to recruit from the middle-classes as she thought educated women with time on their hands made better soldiers. East End women and Lancashire mill-girls were some of the most active Suffragettes, however, as were women like Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. In 1920, Sylvia Pankhurst hired Britain’s first black journalist, Claude McKay, to work for The Worker’s Dreadnought, (formerly the Suffragette newspaper The Women’s Dreadnought.) 
4. Suffrage campaigners weren’t all women either. There was even a Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage who participated in many marches and rallies. Famous male suffrage supporters include HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw and the Labour MP Keir Hardy. 
5. Modern feminism tends to concentrate on the ways in which men and women are similar, but Edwardians saw men and women as very different creatures. Men were more rational, more brave, but also more impulsive and less morally steadfast – women were encouraged to forgive drunk husbands, for example, because they ‘couldn’t help it’. Women were more timid and weaker physically, but they were also angels of patience, virtue and negotiation.
Men argued that it wasn’t fair to taint these saintly figures by allowing them into the rough-house world of politics. Women argued that if they really were so steadfast, virtuous and good at finding peaceful solutions to problems, why the hell wouldn’t you want them to have political power? 
6. You might have heard that women were given the vote as a ‘thank you’ for their war work. This, however, simply isn’t true. It was already clear in 1914 that women had won their battle – the only thing left was for the government to find a way to concede without looking weak. The war provided that. Under previous legislation, men had to be resident in Britain for the twelve months before an election in order to vote, a law which disenfranchised most of the armed forces. Since it was clear that the law would have to be changed, giving women the vote as a ‘thank you’ was simply a way of saving face. 
7. In fact, many Suffragettes were vehemently anti-war. Emmeline Pankhurst came out very early on in favour of the war, as, somewhat reluctantly, did Millicent Fawcett. However, one of the tenets of the movement was that once women got the vote there would be no more war, as women would never vote to send their sons to be slaughtered. Many suffrage campaigners felt betrayed by Pankhurst and particularly by Fawcett, and many resigned their membership in protest. 
8. The International Woman Suffrage Alliance did more than just campaign against the war. They organised a Women’s Peace Congress in 1915, with representatives from neutral countries and all countries involved in the war. Over 200 women from Britain were supposed to attend – but the British government cancelled all North Sea shipping to prevent it. The women who attended the conference arranged meetings with government representatives up to and including Woodrow Wilson. The warring nations agreed that – in principle – they would try to negotiate a peace if a neutral nation would facilitate and Sweden agreed – in principle – that they would. Sadly, however, nothing came of it. 
9. The Suffragettes had many grand ideas about what would happen when women began using their vote. Equal pay for men and women! Pensions for spinsters! Old age pensions for all! State orphanages! Financial support for carers and parents! Divorced women to have the right to see their child, and even retain custody! Reading it now, they sound like fantasists. Except… 
10. In the hundred years since women gained the right to vote, every one of those predictions have come true.

14 September 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

The arranged marriage YA romcom you didn't know you wanted or needed... 

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works even harder to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a frothy, funny contemporary romance told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists. While Dimple is fighting her family traditions, Rishi couldn't be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents - could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

Source: NetGalley Request

5 Words: Family, passion, attraction, friendship, ambition.

This was a really sweet read, a lovely story. I loved Dimple and Rishi.

I just didn't like the writing style.

This book had been hyped up so much that my expectations were sky high. I was expecting lots of tech and coding and I was a little underwhelmed by the lack of tech and coding. It was a lot more sweetness than I was expecting, especially with the fantastic start. I thought Dimple was going to be harder, stand up for her convictions a little stronger. She threw an iced coffee in Rishi's face and I practically cheered. But honestly, that was the high point of the story for me.

I liked the way the narrative switched between characters, showing both of their thoughts, their feelings. This was probably my favourite aspect of the writing. It was funny seeing all of the misunderstandings, and I liked the frustration of knowing more than the characters themselves.

I was a good book, a good story, and I would recommend it. I just didn't get on with the writing style, I found it a little too simple to stay engaged. My own high expectations likely lessened my enjoyment, and that's all on me.

12 September 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #99

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 Older Books I Love.

All of these books have been out for at least ten years. I'm apologising now if any of these are out of print, I just love them so much I couldn't help but share.
What's your favourite older book?

11 September 2017

Blog Tour: The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

What would you do if you realized that your new husband, a man you adore, is keeping secrets from you--secrets with terrifying consequences?

Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She's still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can't shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning.

In the beginning, Bryn's husband, Guy, couldn't have been more supportive. But soon after moving in together, Guy grows evasive, secretive. What the hell is going on? she wonders. Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered.

As Bryn's world unravels--and yet another woman in town is slain--she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.


A moment later I’m surfacing, struggling through webs of sleep. It’s only a dream, I realize. Another one of those nightmares. Though I’m fully awake now, my heart’s still thrumming. My skin is hot, like I’ve sat too long in the sun, and the T-shirt I’m wearing is damp with sweat. 
I glance around, not sure at first where I am. It’s daylight, maybe late afternoon, and then I know. I’m on the screened porch in the house we’ve rented in Saratoga Springs, New York. From outside I hear the distant, buzzy drone of a lawn mower and one short bark from a dog. 
I hoist myself up and take long deep breaths, in through my nostrils and out through my mouth, a technique Dr. G taught me when I started having sessions with her. 
Finally my pulse slows. I reach for a pencil and pad lying on the coffee table, and jot down fragments from the dream: hotel room, smoke, dissolving doorknob, the wall of flames. It’s the fourth dream like this I’ve had in the past few weeks. Dr. G suggested I keep track of them because they seem to be about the car accident, the one I was in three months ago. She thinks writing them down will help calm me—and if I’m lucky, ultimately fill in some blanks. 
I close my eyes again, trying to recall more details, but the dream begins to unravel in my memory, like a pile of dried leaves lifting apart in the wind. If it was trying to tell me something, I have no clue what it is. 
I force myself off the daybed and traipse into the main part of the house. It’s Victorian in style, built a hundred-plus years ago. Though there aren’t a ton of rooms, they’re spacious and elegant, with high ceilings and dark, intricate moldings and paneling. Not the kind of house I would have picked for myself—it’s so prim and proper—but I’m okay with being here for the summer. 
I wander back to the kitchen, with its white subway tiles gleaming in the June sun, and pour a glass of iced tea. I drain it in four gulps. Though the tea quenches my thirst, it does nothing to quell my unease. I glance at my watch. Four thirty. Guy will be home by six, and I’m already looking forward to seeing him. Maybe we should eat on the patio, since it’s bound to be a beautiful night. 
I will myself up from the chair and clear the soup bowl and utensils I used for lunch. Next I take two chicken cutlets out of the freezer and begin snipping the green beans I bought earlier. 
Finished, I head upstairs and straighten the duvet in the master bedroom. For the first time I’m struck by the sheer ridiculousness—and irony, too—of me snapping the fabric into place. Until now my life has been, at least literally speaking, a litany of unmade beds, beds I’ve always been far too busy to fuss with and happy to just stumble into at the end of crazy days. I know why I’ve given myself this little task each day. It’s a way to avoid what I’m really supposed to be doing. 
Coming to Saratoga for the summer and renting a nice house here was meant as a chance for me to get my mojo back now that my broken bones have mostly healed. I was also going to conceive and pound out a proposal for my new book, the one that had been delayed by the car accident and recovery. But it’s just not happening. I alternate between bouts of panic and feeling totally jet-lagged, like a traveler who’s stumbled off an airplane after crossing a dozen time zones. 
And then there’s the writer’s block. I knew it might take a while to get back in a groove, but 
I’ve spent days now staring at a blank computer screen. It seems at times as if my brain’s been sucked dry by aliens. At my most panic-stricken I worry that I’ll never squeeze out another word, never again share what I’ve learned, never again command a room of appreciative readers. 
As I give the duvet a final shake, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror above the dresser. Because, until recently, I needed to negotiate shampooing and blow-drying with a cast on my arm, I chopped my light brown hair fairly short. The cut is cute enough, I guess, but because of the weight loss, my overall appearance leans toward beleaguered. I look like I’m ready to board an orphan train. 
My cell phone rings, startling me from my thoughts. I tug it from the pocket of my sweater. I smile to myself when I see Guy’s name.


Win an ebook of The Secrets You Keep by Kate White! This will be available in mobi, epub or PDF format.

10 September 2017

#TheReadingQuest Reading Wrap Up

When I first saw #TheReadingQuest I knew that I had to take part. And I was ambitious. I decided that I was going to read a lot for it. I planned to spend whole days off of work reading. I was going to complete TWO character classes and a host of side quests.

That was never actually going to happen, was it?

In the end I managed to complete the Rogue path and some of the side quests. But it was hard going. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Although maybe I won't be quite as ambitious.

The good thing about my ambition was that I managed to get through so much that I am now back on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge, when I had been about ten books behind at the start.

The Rogue Path
A banned book (audiobook)
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman     +10EXP | +32HP

A book cover with a partially obscured face
Pantomime by Laura Lam     +10EXP | +39HP

A book with <500 ratings on Goodreads
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao     +10EXP | +36HP

A book published by a small press
Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan     +10EXP | +22HP

A book with a one word title
Magnolia by Maria Dahvana Headley     +10EXP | +32HP

My Reading Quest Side Quest TBR
Respawn - Read a book you previously DNF (audiobook)
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin     +10EXP | +101HP

Multiplayer - Buddy read a book
There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins     +10EXP | +32HP

Potions - A book concocted by 2+ authors
Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevingne with Rowan Coleman     +10EXP | +36HP

Time Warp - A book set in either the past or the future
Reign: The Prophecy by Lily Blake     +10EXP | +24HP

Expansion - Read a companion novel or short story
Reign: The Haunting by Lily Blake     +10EXP | +3HP

Mini Game - Read a graphic novel, novella, or poem collection
Mockingbird: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain     +5EXP | +7HP

Open World - Read whatever you want
Songs About Us by Chris Russell     +10EXP | +44HP

The Final Score
Level Three
175 EXP
408 HP

I may not have read quite as much as I had planned for the quest, but the past month has been incredible for me when it comes to read. I read an additional five books outside of the quest and I feel like I have really accomplished something.

09 September 2017

Zoella Book Club Review: Moxie by Jennifer Matieu

It's time to fight like a girl!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv's mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.


A page-turning read with a feminist message, for anyone who has ever had to deal with #everydaysexism

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, school, feminism, Grrrl Power.




08 September 2017

Book Beginnings #52

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.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Pantomime by Laura Lam.
"Well, boy," the ringmaster said. "What can you do?" 
I swallowed. The clown who had found me eavesdropping tightened his grip on my shirt. "Pardon?" I asked.
I am quite excited about this! It's my last #TheReadingQuest book for my Rouge path, and one that has been on my TBR for years. In fact, it's been on my TBR for so long that the version I have is with the old cover.

There are a lot of mixed reviews for it, but it was nominated for NETBA in 2013 so I figure it must be good. I like the writing style of the first chapter and they way the story is going.
Then again, I had also heard that they waited for their quarry to look away before pouncing.
So this bit did set my nerves a little on edge thanks to the other circus crew and what they subject Micah to.

I can't wait to read on!

05 September 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #98

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

This week is top Ten Books I Struggled to Get Into But Ended Up Loving.

I'm a mood reader, so more often than not it's because of the mood I'm in that I struggle with a book. These are the books I struggled with at first but enjoyed by the end.

  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
    It was the writing style I wasn't such a fan of, but by the end the lovely story and the headstrong Dimple overcame it.
  • Internet Famous by Danika Stone
    What was I expecting? I'm not sure to be honest, but my expectations were definitely exceeded and this tickled my love of fandoms.
  • Girl Online by Zoe Sugg
    I have to admit, I was skeptical. But I loved this series and have now listened to it twice. I just hope there will be more!
  • Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
    Everyone has so many good things to say about this author but they're just not my cup of tea. While I didn't love this book by the end, I enjoyed it a lot more than her other books.
  • Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
    It took me a while to settle in to this fantasy world, but I was quickly enraptured by it and I grew to adore the main character.
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
    It took me a while to get in to the writing style, this author is certainly unique! But by the end I was in love.
  • Glitter by Aprilynne Pike
    I didn't like the main character, but I loved the story and it's stayed in my head since I read it.
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
    Sometimes I just need a Gossip Girl style fix, and this was much better than I expected.
  • With Malice by Eileen Cook
    The unreliable narrator (or IS SHE??) completely won me over in this summer tale of deception, jealously and WHAT??
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord 
    I was looking for light and fluffy to pass the time, but this blew my expectations out of the water and I ended up loving it.
What books did you struggle with at first?

04 September 2017

Review: Gypsy Girl by Kathryn James

Sammy Jo has a secret; it's how she's paying for her sister's extravagant wedding

"It began three days ago with a fight. Seems that for me, everything begins with a fight..."

But all her plans go wrong after she gets in a fight with some local thugs to save rich-boy Gregory. Now local bad guy McCloud is after her.

Gypsy Girl Sammy Jo may be strong, fast and tough, even in heels, but this time she's met her match. And the guys who are after her are nearly as dangerous as her forbidden love for Gregory.

Source: Library | Purchase

5 Words: Prejudice, strength, family, crime, self-belief.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked up Gypsy Girl, but I know I wasn't expecting to fall in love with Sammy Jo. I had never heard of this book before, no one I knew had read it, I was going in blind. But damn, I'm going to sing its praises and push it on everyone.

Sammy Jo is tough and strong despite - perhaps because of - the odds stacked against her. She is physically strong and mentally strong. Compassionate, the glue holding her family together. She knows what she wants, she fights for herself, her right to be seen and judged on her merits rather than her culture. She is a complex, multifaceted character, who presents a different persona to each person she meets. It is only as a reader, reading her narrative, that you get to see the whole person.

It must be so exhausting having so much prejudice and hate stacked up against you.

The pace of the story does go between SUPER FAST and s u p e r  s l o w but it averages out into a fantastic read and I couldn't put it down. It got my adrenaline pumping and it got me thinking.

The moment I finished Gypsy Girl I bought myself a copy and ordered the second book. I absolutely loved it and got so invested in Sammy Jo. I can't wait to see what the future holds for her.

01 September 2017

Book Beginnings #51

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.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence.
It was coming back again, like a film on slow stream, except someone had hit the mute button. The silence made it worse - it meant everything else was turned up to full.
I have been so incredibly excited for this book since it was announced. I loved the author's debut Orangeboy, so I had high expectations starting this. I was lucky enough to hear the author read a passage at NETBA which just made me more excited. And so far my expectations have been met. I am again in love with the story and the writing.
Mum was very surprised. She sniffed the plate, then picked at the meat in silence. Dad sat opposite, chewing his veggie sausages.
Oh dear.

This scene on page 56 is half heart-warming, half hilarious. I am loving how family is explored in this story, all of the nitty gritty and different sides.

The only problem is that I'm reading this very slowly so I can eke it out for longer! Again, Patrice Lawrence has written a wonderful book, and I don't want it to end.

What are you reading?

29 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #97

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 Hidden Gem Books in X Genre.

But I'm not picking a genre. I'm picking UKYA as a whole because I bloody love it. So here are my top ten UKYA hidden gems. GO FORTH AND BUY THEM.
  1. Darkmere by Helen Maslin
  2. Acid by Emma Pass
  3. The Castle by Sophia Bennett
  4. In Bloom by Matthew Crow
  5. Salvage by Keren David
  6. Gypsy Girl by Kathryn James
  7. The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance
  8. Fashionista: Laura by Sarra Manning
  9. Rani and Sukh by Bali Rai
  10. The Tribute Bride by Theresa Tomlinson
What's your favourite UKYA book?

28 August 2017

Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

She will become a legend but first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning...

Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters. But when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal, Alia Keralis.

With this single heroic act, Diana may have just doomed the world.

Alia is a Warbringer - a descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies, mortal and divine, determined to destroy or possess the Warbringer.

To save the world, they must stand side by side against the tide of war.

Source: Review Consideration | Purchase | Subscription Box

5 Words: What is a hero anyway?

Right from the start I knew I would enjoy this. Why?
  • Wonder Woman
  • Leigh Bardugo
I loved how canon lore was covered in the story. There were no info dumps, no random expositions dropped into the prose, but the background and history of the characters and Themyscira was woven into the writing and it was exquisite. I already knew the WHY and the HOW but this would be a perfect introduction to the world if you were unfamiliar.
You dance differently when you know you won't live forever. 
I loved Diana's voice too. She is the first character we meet and her determination and huge heart made my own heart sing. I loved how she feels so under appreciated and that she's not good enough and that's so relatable. But the she has this tenacity, her will to prove herself to everyone around her, driving her on. Alia's storyline broke my heart a little. She, like Diana, feels under-appreciated but still has a huge heart. Although both are far from normal, they felt familiar to read. I think everyone has had similar doubts in their own self-worth.

Both characters prove that they are better than what everyone around them thinks. They stick it up to the haters, prove to themselves that yes, they can do it. It was empowering to read. 

The only thing I didn't like was how Diana and Jason interacted. It always felt on the cusp of going somewhere I really didn't want it to.

Overall this was fantastic. The writing was beautiful and I fell in love with most of the characters. I loved how the idea of what makes someone a hero was explored.
I imagine all wars look the same to those who die in them. 

25 August 2017

Book Beginnings #50

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.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

This week's read is an advanced review copy, so quotes may not be final. But damn they have me excited.

I am currently reading Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevingne with Rowan Coleman.
The sun was rising as we were coming home, our arms interlinked, feet dragging, the heat of summer building in the air.
I am so freaking excited to be reading this. I'd heard whispers and picked up a postcard about it at YALC. I love celeb books. I was excited. So when I saw it on NetGalley I broke a nail as I requested it as quickly as I could. And when I was approved I squealed and did a little victory dance.

Starting off, I love the writing style. I was a little surprised to find it narrated by Red at the beginning, his was not the voice I was expecting. But his is definitely the voice that the story deserves and is a wonderfully complex character, with many layers and flaws.
I sit back in my chair, and of all the things I thought I might feel, it's relief that floods through me and threatens tears.
This has a definite Skins feel to it, and I love it. It's a bit shocking, it's raw, it feels real. There is a thread of mystery to the story, a slightly chilling vibe, and I can't wait to see how it pans out.

I am excited to read on!

What are you reading this weekend?

22 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #96

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 Back To School Freebie.

My list is a little eclectic this week, it's not just books set in school or college. Some are dark, some are fun, some are a little bit heartbreaking. But I would recommend them to all!

What your ultimate Back to School book?

19 August 2017

Zoella Book Club Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.

Source: Purchase | NetGalley Request

5 Words: Friendship, secrets, lies, boarding-school, privilege.

From the very first chapter I was hooked, desperate for more. Boarding School books are like catnip for me, I can't get enough of them. I love the tension, how everything is more intense at such close quarters.

And this book was pretty much perfect.

I loved the focus on friendship and family, how it was explored against a backdrop of privilege. I loved how it lead to resentment, the stark contrast between the Have and Have-Not slowly becoming more and more apparent, the devastation it all caused.

Girlhood doesn't hold back on the nitty-gritty, the crush of grief and blame. The chilling Scottish setting sent shivers up my spine and made the whole story a little more hard hitting, especially against the flash-backs to Harper's life before.

18 August 2017

Blog Tour: Review: The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett

Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face when you check into the hotel that’s full of dreams…

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s st that ill there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Responsibility, change, trust, friendship, love.

This book was so laugh out loud funny that I had to stop reading it in public. I was getting some very funny looks.

I enjoyed the way the narrative weaved back and forth between past and present, it made Rosie's story all the more powerful and kept a little thread of mystery open throughout the story. And Rory! Oh, Rory.

The cast of characters is incredible. There are so many varied people. And they were so incredibly real and quirky that even the side characters came fully to life.

This book is hilarious and a perfect summer read. It's a glorious escape from typical British rainy days. A definite feel-good page turner!

15 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #95

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 Recommendations For Hufflepuffs.

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;

Dedicated, hard working, tolerant, patient, loyal, kind... What's not to love about Hufflepuff?

Here's some books for my fellow Hufflepuff's to devour. They'll test your tolerance, patience and kindness, and probably leave you feeling like a slightly different person at the end. And with some of them you'll have to work hard to make it to the end. But they're all worth it ❤
Which Hogwarts House are you in?

13 August 2017

#TheReadingQuest Reading Challenge

It was when I was at YALC that I first discovered #TheReadingQuest. It popped up on my timeline on Twitter and I was like "Oh?" and then Kelly was off explaining about the amazing reading challenges that Read At Midnight hosts. And I knew I had to join in.

I'm not able to make a fancy graphic, my poor wee laptop just wouldn't be able to take it, but CW from Read Think Ponder made the most beautiful artwork for the quest. Hopefully I can somehow make up a card before the quest ends! I'll post here if I manage it.

The Reading Quest runs from 13th August to 10th September and I am planning to read A LOT for it. Especially as there is a cheeky bank holiday coming up, and I plan on spending it all reading.

I'm starting as a Rogue, but may try Mage as well!
I will be following the Rogue path and completing as many side quests as I can. I am really going for it with this challenge. It will not be easy, I will be pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, but I think I can definitely tackle my TBR and those side quests I have my eye on.

My Reading Quest Rogue TBR
✔ A banned book (audiobook)
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

A book cover with a partially obscured face
Pantomime by Laura Lam

✔ A book with <500 ratings on Goodreads (currently 189 ratings)

✔ A book published by a small press
Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan

✔ A book with a one word title
Magnolia by Maria Dahvana Headley

My Reading Quest Side Quest TBR
✔ Respawn - Read a book you previously DNF (audiobook)
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

✔ Multiplayer - Buddy read a book
There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

✔ Potions - A book concocted by 2+ authors
Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevingne with Rowan Coleman

Are you taking part? What would you read?

12 August 2017

Zoella Book Club Review: After the Fire by Will Hill

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming.

Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out.

What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, belief, control, isolation, survival.

I went into this pretty much blind - as usual I hadn't read the blurb. What I knew of it came courtesy of #SundayYA and from the little I did know, I was eager to get reading. Because everyone who had read After The Fire had only good things to say about it.

I loved the way the story weaved between Before and After, how it was slowly revealed. It wasn't in order, there was a lot of switching back and forth, but it was at no point confusing. Rather, it kept me almost addicted to the story and made for some shocking revelations.

This is an intensely brutal story, honest and hard-hitting. It is a chilling page turner and I struggled to put it down. Believe the hype and read this book.

11 August 2017

Book Beginnings #49

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.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett.
New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But don't judge him just because her sounds like he should be sipping ice cream floats at the drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game.
Interesting start and I'm curious to see how it goes. And yes, the name Chuck does bring to mind exactly what the narrator expects it to.
Lill is a total inspiration. Here's someone who's worked since her teens to do everything she possibly could to rise to the top of her profession.
I think I'll like Lill when I get to this part of the story. She sounds pretty tenacious.

What are you reading for the weekend?

10 August 2017

Release Day Review: A Change Is Gonna Come by Various

Featuring top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene.

Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

Source: Purchase | NetGalley Request

5 Words: A Change Is Gonna Come.

This is an absolutely fantastic collection, with something for everyone. I actually liked everything included, which is very rare for me when it comes to anthologies. My mind is blown by how good it was.
“We laughed over our difference then spent years bonding over things that made us the same.”
There is something within the pages to laugh at and cry at. There are authors new and established within the pages, it was great to read some familiar voices - I recognised Patrice Lawrence's story from her writing style - and I discovered some new-to me writers. The poems are beautiful and I read them each over and over. The stories are set across multiple genres and times, all linked by the theme of Change.

I think Marionette Girl may become my go-to story for when I need a cry, it is heart-breakingly excellent. It made me cry like a baby.

I hope that Stripes are going to continue with their wonderful anthologies, but I can't imagine where they will go next! I just know I can't wait to read more exceptional writers.

09 August 2017

Blog Tour: Guespost & Giveaway: Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown

Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiance, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years. Her twin brother Evan’s wedding is about to end that streak.

From bad bridesmaid’s dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she’s wearing her little gray dress.

When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon’s bar, things get more complicated. He’s gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi. He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn’t need or want Jack!

Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi’s adult life. Will it make another when she least expects it?

Naming my Characters
I’m a sucker for browsing through baby name sites and books. When I was pregnant, I seriously looked through the baby name books (because in the 90’s the interwebs just wasn’t what it is today) daily. I would jot down lists and lists of names and every single night when my husband would get home from work, for nine months, I would go though the list, crossing out each name he vetoed. Let’s just say, we went through a lot of names. 
My kids will still ask me, what their name name could have been. And I still have my runner up names right at the tip of my tongue so I can use them one day on a fictional character. 
When I chose the names for Little Gray Dress, I did pretty much the same thing, I just didn’t need anyone’s approval but my own. That didn’t make it any easier, though. The endless list of websites that have baby names make the task far more complicated than it ever was when I was pregnant. 
I knew what my main characters name would be, Esmeralda. ‘Emi’ for short, cause I love a good nickname. Once I decided that her name would be ‘Romanian’ for reasons she’s yet to know, I knew I had to come up with an equally fitting Romanian name for her twin brother. Evangelo, or ‘Evan’ for short, just fit the bill. 
Main characters Jack & Liam were no-brainers for me. I LOVE the old names as much as I love old Hollywood. To me, Jack is fitting for the tall, dark and handsome hero. And Liam is fitting for the tall, blond, bad-boy. 
The name Jack took on greater meaning when my grandfather, ‘Jackie, aka- Jack’ passed on a few months ago. It’s funny cause, while I was writing the book the fact that I had a grandpa named Jack never even occurred to me, because for the last 38 years I’ve known him as simply ‘grandpa’. Now that he’s gone though, I feel like it has a bigger meaning that it initially did. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I start using a lot of names of friends and family now passed on. What a great way to keep their spirits with me. 
As for picking the rest of the charactes names, I like to fill out a character questionnaire and then once I’ve gotten to know them a bit, I go through my list of names I adore and find the one that fits. It’s crazy to me how names will seem wrong or right for fictional characters. It’s like they really exist and are just waiting for that final piece of their puzzle in their name. 
Obviously, naming characters is one of my favorite parts of creating a story. I could create new characters all day long and be perfectly happy. My new found friends are real to me. I always expect to run into them when shopping or out and about and it’s a little sad when I never do. I put so much work into creating them that I want to chat with them in real life! Until then, I will be happy that they have endless conversations with you guy, my readers.