26 May 2017

Blog Tour: Review: I'll Eat When I'm Dead by Barbara Bourland

RAGE Fashion Book is the world's most dynamic, ambitious magazine.

Its editors ­- like Cat Ono - have the power to change minds and the market.

They're savvy, sisterly and polished to perfection. Even the one found dead in her office.

Everyone thinks Hillary starved to death - but Cat knows her friend's dieting wasn't a capital P problem. If beauty kills, it'd take more than that. Hot-headed and fiercely feminist, Cat's sure she can match the investigating skills of Detective Mark Hutton, solve the case, and achieve sartorial fulfillment.

But going undercover, Cat's in over her head, and soon becomes snared in a very stylish web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that will change her look - and outlook - forever.

Cat's about to find out what it really means to be a fashion victim.

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Fashion, attraction, friendship, ambition, fame.

When I first heard about this book, I was excited. Although I'm not the most fashionable person, I do love to follow fashion and have my glossy's on subscription. RAGE is everything I wish I could actually read. And this book absolutely delivers on every promise the blurb hints at.

I was very quickly hooked by this book and could not put it down. I was completely entranced by Cats' story, and the only thing that could have made it better was if there was more Bess.

I loved the intrigue and the descriptions of fashion, the colourful cast of characters, and the subtly intertwining relationships.

This book really is The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho.

Blog Tour: Review: All The Good Things by Clare Fisher

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Good, bad, family, friendship, government-cuts.

Trying to review this without spoilers is almost impossible. There is so much that I want to talk about.

For all that I had read the blurb, Beth's story still came as a surprise. I loved her voice and the narrative style, it almost felt like Beth was talking to me.

This is a book that will challenge you and your perceptions. It will likely make you angry at the world, at how a vulnerable person can be let down on so many fronts. It will make so smile at the good things and scowl at the bad. It will likely make you feel every emotion under the sun. It will tug on your heart strings, then just straight-out stretch them to breaking point.

Beth came across as both younger and older than she actually was, and it's something to have to read the story to understand. She has such a big heart but she needs help and at each failing my own heart broke a little more. And that ending? I was in tears.

I was reminded a little of Looking For JJ and it is definitely a book that will stay with me.

Beth's story is heartbreaking but all too real and conceivable, and once you finish this book you will need to talk about it, you will need to discuss what's right and wrong, what needs to be done.

23 May 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #90

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 Want To Read This Summer.

Here I go again, listing the books I want to read yet invariably will not get round to. Although for once I actually have a few of these, and some are pre-ordered, so fingers crossed! What's on your list?

Shout out if any of these are on your TBR, or if you've read them let me know what you thought!
  1. Oh man, I loved Songs About A Girl last year, and I can't wait to spend a summer day drinking Irn Bru and reading about what happens next for Charlie. I think I'll even re-read book one first!
  2. This author became an auto-buy for me after just one book, and since Rachel gifted it for my birthday I can't wait to get stuck in to this latest one.
  3. I have heard so many good this about this one! I'm super excited to read it, especially as so many people have had only good things to say about it.
  4. This has been on my TBR for years, and Kelly got me it for my birthday so now I can finally get round to it!
  5. This has been buzzing around my radar for a little while now, and the closer we get to release the more I'm anticipating it.
  6. This has been on my TBR for about a month and was released with such little fanfare I think I would have forgotten it if Steph hadn't gifted me it!
  7. I have seen so many people saying how sweet this is, and I just feel it will be perfect as a summer read.
  8. If Aoife hadn't sent me this for my birthday it probably would have skipped my radar - and given that it's about an orphan who's going to save the world that would have been a travesty!
  9. This book has been everywhere in the run up to release and there is so much excitement around it. And I can't wait to jump in.
  10. This arrived in my Warriors & Legends Fairy Loot box and I can't wait to get stuck in. Already I have heard so many wonderful things.
And of course I have already pre-ordered and am eagerly anticipating A Change Is Gonna Come from Stripes Publishing. It looks incredible, and the authors involved are fabulous. I love anthologies for when it's particularly hot day as I usually can't concentrate for too long and the stories/poems are the perfect length.

19 May 2017

Blog Tour: Book Review: The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace

Liverpool, 1976: Martha is lost.

She’s been lost since she was a baby, abandoned in a suitcase on the train from Paris. Ever since, she’s waited in lost property for someone to claim her. It’s been sixteen years, but she’s still hopeful.

Meanwhile, there are lost property mysteries to solve: a suitcase that may have belonged to the Beatles, a stuffed monkey that keeps appearing. But there is one mystery Martha has never been able to solve – and now time is running out. If Martha can’t discover who she really is, she will lose everything… 

Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Lost, family, love, truth, loss.

This book was full of wonder and whimsy, and I found it only too easy to suspend disbelief and plunge head first into Martha'a magical world.

Martha is a bit of a weird one, but from her story it's easy to see why. She has a bit of an old soul, a way of looking at the world that goes past the surface. At times she seems so worldly. Then something happens and you remember that she isn't, she's just this scared little girl who has never even left Lime Street Station, never felt the sun direct on her skin.

I did like that I was never quite sure of Martha. I was never sure what was in her head and what was real, what she saw in her visions or with her eyes. When she first described George Harris I wasn't sure what she truly meant, and it was only when properly introduced that I started to trust Martha more.

As insular as Martha's world is, the author has put so much into the setting. Sights and smells and colours and people. The descriptions were sometimes so vivid that I even felt a bit sick at times - sorry, William! I loved the music and dance and the passion of the characters. Except Mal. No one likes Mal.

There are lots of small mysteries, but there is also huge a thread of mystery throughout the story, and I have to admit that I hadn't worked it out until just a few paragraphs before the reveal! It was a great feeling, coming to the same conclusion at the same time as the character.

But what about that suitcase in the basement??

This was a wonderful, wistful, whimsical read, an enchanting story.

Book Beginnings #41

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 is my first time

I am currently reading All the Good Things by Clare Fisher.
Of all the good things that have ever been in me, the first and the best is you. Every single part of you, from your stroke-able earlobes to the hope curled up in your toes. Remember that.
All I know going in to this is that it's going to be emotional. Very emotional. And I think these opening lines back that up. Am I ready? I'm not sure yet.

What I do know is that I love the tone of this writing. I think it's going to be one heck of a ride.

As I'm only just starting this, and I don't want any spoilers, I'm not posting page 56 today. It's a paperback review copy too, so whatever I post will be vastly different to the hardback that's about to be released.

16 May 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #89

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 Share Together.

My mum is the reason that I love reading. It was watching her read that had me picking up anything vaguely book-shaped and pretending to read before I could talk or walk. It was her magical way of reading stories, giving voices to each character, that transported me to different worlds. 

The Books She Shared With Me
  • Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin
    OK, so it's actually every book Ian Rankin has ever written. I love the Rebus books and the books written as Jack Harvey and I can remember devouring her entire collection when I was 14.
  • The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
    OK, so it's actually every book Terry Pratchett ever wrote. Again. We like our series, OK? We probably have about three of every book between us.
  • The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves
    Yup, again the whole series. I absolutely love reading this local crime series. When Vera came on TV we both settled down to watch and were like "have we seen this before" and convinced ourselves we had because we both recognised it so much. Shush you.
  • The Portable Door by Tom Holt
    If you ask my mum she'd probably say she doesn't like fantasy, but her collection of Practhett and Holt show that to be very untrue. It's just that there's a very specific type of fantasy she likes.
  • The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
    Sophie Kinsella's books are the ones we spend our summers with, lazing in the garden and swapping books as we finish.
The Books I Shared With Her
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
    To tell the truth, she bought the first three books for me, but it was the way I read all three in two days and then wouldn't shut up that started her reading them.
  • Lucas by Kevin Brooks
    Even now, almost 15 years after I read the book then pushed it into my mother's hands, if you mention this book you'll hear us sigh "oh, Lucas" and fight each other for one of the multiple copies we have.
  • Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
    We don't just read books, we talk about them, and this one prompted one of our most impassioned wine-fueled debates I can recall. Think six hours and three bottles.
  • Holy Island by LJ Ross
    When I found this local crime series I couldn't wait to share it with my mum, and so started the great Kindle Wars where she'd steal my kindle to read each new LJ Ross title as it was released.
  • Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
    My mum doesn't like historical fiction. She calls it "that period shite" and says no. Unless it's Catherine Cookson because being local it doesn't count. So when I recommended she start the Outlander series I was expecting no, and it came as a surprise that she's now further ahead in the series than me.

15 May 2017

Blog Tour: Review and Q&A: Crimson & Bone by Marina Fiorato

London, 1853.
Annie Stride has nothing left to live for - she is a penniless prostitute, newly evicted from her home and pregnant. On the night she plans to cast herself from Waterloo Bridge into the icy waters of the Thames, her life is saved by Francis Maybrick Gill, a talented pre-Raphaelite painter - and her world is changed forever.

Francis takes Annie as his artist's muse, elevating her from fallen woman to society's darling. With her otherworldly beauty now the toast of London, her dark past is left far behind. 

But Annie's lavish new life is not all is seems - and there are some who won't let her forget where she came from...

Source: Review Consideration | Purchase

5 Words: Art, passion, family, hardship, luxury.

A glorious story of art and passion.

First off, it has to be said that I love Marina Fiorato's books. I love reading her feisty female characters, seeing them stand on their own. And with Crimson & Bone I was not disappointed.

This is probably the darkest of the author's books so far, and it felt like there was something sinister lurking in the background of the story right from the start. Despite this darkness, there was always a shining thread of hope in the story, and the writing was gorgeously colourful and full of description. Each person and place came alive on the page.

I loved how the theme of disguise was explored, with every character and setting seemingly hiding something. No one character was truly reliable and it lent itself wonderfully to the growing feelings of dread and unease as the story progressed, even as the setting changed.

This is a deliciously complex story of Victorian London, and the art and beauty hiding just beneath the surface.

Q & A
I am so incredibly excited to have Marina Fiorato answering some questions about Crimson & Bone

What inspired you to write Crimson & Bone?
I became very much interested in the relationship between an artist and a model. It’s a subject I’ve touched on before in my books, especially in The Madonna of the Almonds, but I was particularly interested in that relationship as it exhibited itself in the Victorian era. This was such a moment of appearance and reality, a time when men idealised women but abused them, a time of great beauty and great squalor. A Victorian gentleman might have a respectable wife at home, and then sneak out in the evening to do unspeakable things to a twopenny whore – remember this was the age of Jack the Ripper. Conversely, some well-to-do Pre-Raphaelites elevated quite low-born women to wifely status just by reason of their beauty. I’m thinking of Dante Gabriel Rosetti and Elisabeth Siddal and Sir Frederic Leighton and Ada Pullan. These Pygmalion transformations must have presented problems for the women who had been displaced and that’s what I explore in the novel.

What was the most challenging part of researching for Crimson & Bone?
All the travelling was wonderful! I got to explore my home city of London, from the beautiful Pre-Raphaelites hanging on the walls of the Tate to hideous things floating in bell jars at the Hunterian Museum. I loved going to north Norfolk, a place I didn’t know at all, and of course Venice and Florence are old favourites. The hardest thing about researching for the novel was actually reading first-hand accounts of the experiences of prostitutes who worked the streets of Victorian London, recorded by the social researcher Henry Mayhew. There were some appalling tales of being kidnapped and ‘ruined’ at a very young age. Mary Jane’s story was a true one and it’s hard to step back from that. You can shut the book but the stories stay with you.

What was the most interesting thing that you found while you were researching?
I found out that when the lapis lazuli was first discovered in the mountains of Afghanistan, it was so blue people thought that the sky had fallen. Then in Renaissance times, artists chose lapis lazuli to depict the sky, so the colour returned to where it came from. I love things like that, when life is circular.

What was your own favourite part of Annie's story?
I like the Pygmalionizing (new word I’ve just invented!) when Annie changes from a whore into a lady. Everybody likes a make-over. But I like it even better when she changes back again and begins to control her own destiny.

Can you describe Crimson & Bone in five words?
Gothic, beautiful, dark, Victorian, Italian.

Finally, a bit of a fun question: what is your favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting?
Oo, that’s a tricky one; I love so many of them! But I’d have to say The Bridesmaid by John Everett Millais, as she was my inspiration for my heroine Annie Stride. She looks beautiful, afraid, and a little bit defiant. Annie is all those things.

The Bridesmaid by John Everett Millais

12 May 2017

Book Beginnings #40

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 is my first time

I am currently reading Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis.

It is in my blood.
It is in my bone.
It is in my brain.
This has me hooked pretty much straight away, which surprised me as there are a lot of mixed reviews and a lot of people I trust with similar taste haven't enjoyed this one so much. These first sentences are great, short and sharp and definitely attention grabbing.

I got this book in my FairyLoot box in April and otherwise probably wouldn't have picked it up. It's one of those books I would have looked at, judged the pretty cover, and then put it on my Goodreads TBR never to actually be read. So I'm quite glad it was pushed into my hands.
"The sight of the sea on land threw fear into a great many people, something perhaps you intended by dragging half a rotting corpse into a banquet."
At this point I am enjoying the story, but I am finding that the narrative is jumping through characters a little too quickly for me to fully connect with them. There are a lot of main characters and while their voices are quite distinctive, at the moment I couldn't tell you their names.

I'm not really a fan of a story when there are too many view points, so we'll have to see if I connect some more!

11 May 2017

#BroodyBFF: Once Upon A Time...

Do you remember when you met your one true love? I remember when I met mine...

I remember that I had had the strangest dream the day after Alec left me for the miller's daughter. The day my life changed forever. I woke up that morning with memories of a masked stranger, of dancing in his arms at a grand ball in a castle. I woke up that morning with memories of piercing eyes gazing at me through the mask

But that would be ridiculous because I have never been in a castle, never mind to a ball. I am just a farmer's daughter in a small village near the coast.

That morning I had already fed the chickens and milked the goat by the time my mother had arrived back from the far pasture. She rushed in to our cottage, her face flushed, her breath ragged. She had been running.
"Mother, what is it?" I jumped up from my position by the hearth, where I had been tending the fire and making tea.

"There is no time!" She gasped at me, grabbing the sides of my face and looking in to my emerald green eyes. "I wish I had told you sooner but now it is too late. I had hoped... It doesn't matter now, I have to tell you!"

"Tell me what, mother?" I whispered, gently guiding her to a chair. "Mother, what is wrong?"

"Oh my darling, I am so sorry." She sadly tucked a lock of my garnet coloured hair behind my ear. "I am not your mother. You are the daughter of Marianne du Lac. You are the Lost Duchess. And now they have come to take you to the palace."

Before I could take it in there was a loud crash and the door slammed open.

And it was him. The stranger from my dreams. I would recognise those striking eyes anywhere.
This post is part of the Brooding YA Hero #BroodyBFF Streetteam Challenge. And I had way too much fun with it.

04 May 2017

Release Day Review: One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

It's been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie's dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer's here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy - but what's it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms - the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was... 

With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again - gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with - or so she thinks. What's going to happen this time? What's more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky - Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn't know how she fits in any more. 

Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had?

Source: Net Galley Request | Purchase

5 Words: Family, friendship, love, sisters, loss.

The cover lead me to think I was going to read about summer shenanigans, that it'd all be fun and rose-tinted and wonderful...

And it was wonderful.

But it was also utterly heartbreaking.

It was quite hard for me to read this book at times. This could have been me and my two sisters if the ambulance hadn't arrived so quickly, and that hit so close to home that I ended up in tears a few times and even had to put the book down and step away.

The relationships between the sisters are absolutely perfect. They love each other, but they also snipe away at each other and nit-pick and tease. I loved the mother-daughter relationships too, with the care and affection and the misunderstandings. This family was real.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, but make sure that you have plenty of tissues at the ready because there will be tears.

03 May 2017

Blog Tour: Review: The Hourglass by Tracy Rees

Sensible Nora has always taken success for granted, until suddenly her life begins to fall apart. Troubled by anxiety and nightmares, she finds herself drawn to the sweeping beaches of Tenby, a place she's only been once before. Together with a local girl she rents a beautiful townhouse and slowly begins to settle in to her new life. But Tenby hides a secret, and Nora will soon discover that this little town by the sea has the power to heal even the most painful memories.

Teenager Chloe visits Tenby every summer. She stays with relatives, and spends the long, IDYLLIC days on the beach. Every year is the same, until she meets a glamorous older boy and is instantly smitten. But on the night of their first date, Chloe comes to a realisation, the aftermath of which could haunt her forever.

The Hourglass is a moving novel about reinvention and reconciliation; about finding love even after it seems too late, about family and the healing power of a magical place by the sea.

Source: Review Considerations | Blog Tour

5 Words: Family, love, summer, expectations, sea.

Despite knowing that this was set both in the (almost) modern day as well as in 1950, part of me was expecting to delve further back in time. Tracy Rees has perfected historical fiction, her writing style and tone transport you right back.

Right from the start I could picture everything perfectly. Chloe is such a vivid character that I pretty much instantly fell under her spell and her parts were my favourite parts to read.

The story itself was a bit slow to start, but once I was properly introduced to the main characters I was hooked. It didn't really pick up until near the end, with twists driving it forward, but the pacing suited the beautiful writing and the story, and I was glad it held back and stayed relatively slow. 

This is perfect for reading in the summer, lounging in the sun. It's not fast paced, it's a slow, leisurely read and I spent a lot time lost (in the past especially) in Tenby. I really want to visit Tenby now!

02 May 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #88

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 2017 Covers I Love.

Why yes, I am one of those people that judges a book by its cover. Shush and let me get on with it.

What has been your favourite cover so far this year?

28 April 2017

Book Beginnings #39

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 is my first time

I am currently reading Tennis Shoes by Noel Streatfeild.
The Heaths lived at Tulse Hill. Their father was a doctor. He had not meant to be a doctor. He would have liked to have been a soldier; but in an accident he was shot through the leg.
I feel that this start is pretty typical of the author so I'm excited to continue. I am just starting this as I type, so I don't have any thoughts beyond anticipation and hope that it will be as good as the magnificent Ballet Shoes.
It was no good. She always dropped the third ball.
Honestly, I know nothing that's happening in this scene. I picked the first line at 56% on my kindle. But I can't wait to get properly stuck in.

27 April 2017

Review: The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger's and her own way of looking at the world. She's got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that's pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn't make much sense to her any more. Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it's up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically honest, The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas is a heart-warming story of one girl trying to work out where she fits in, and whether she even wants to.

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, friends, growing-up, first-love, control.

It took me about five chapters to settle into this book, there was something about the style that took me some time to get into. But once I was in that was me, and I couldn't put it down, I couldn't stop turning the pages.

I loved Grace and her relationship with her sister and her mother, and how it wasn't all sunshine and fluffy white clouds. Evie (booooooo) comes into their lives and just astonishingly awful, a big dark cloud that sets in motion so many little bad things. I loved Grace and her relationship with her friends, especially Anna. I loved Grace and her relationship with her horse and the people at the stables (even though I'm not a fan of horses).

Although not a huge amount happens in the story itself, it feels like an awful lot happens as you're reading. Grace goes through so many little things, so many little moments of her and her life are presented, and as a whole you feel like you've gone on an adventure by the time you finish.

This was a quick read that had me smiling and raging and laughing and shocked... It made me feel so much.
Friendship is a weird sort of thing when you think about it.

25 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #87

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 Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book.

  • Hype
    Sometimes if a book is really super hyped it puts me off - what if I'm disappointed?
  • Ugly Cover
    I can't help it, I'm shallow and like pretty things.
  • Badly Behaving Author
    Sometimes an author will say or do something and I'm like NOPE. Sometimes it's not even a big, bad thing.
  • Sci-Fi
    The thing is, I actually like sci-fi, I just think that I don't. It's like it's ingrained in my head that I don't like it even when dystopian fiction is my auto-buy.
  • Time Travel
    I just over think it to the extent that I don't enjoy the story itself. I think I've only liked one or two time travel stories and I've tried hundreds.

  • All 5 Star Reviews
    I get that some books are awesome and amazing, but if a book only has five star reviews then I'm instantly suspicious. Not everyone likes everything.
  • Cookie Cutter Fantasy
    After a while, reading the same thing again is just boring and predictable. I want a different take, something unique!
  • Religion
    I actually love books that explore religion, but when it's preachy and shoved down my throat then no thanks.
  • Spoilers
    When a book hasn't been out for a month and there are spoilers everywhere I probably won't bother. And yes, I'm looking at you Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo fandoms because they are the worst at this.
  • Pretty Dresses
    I love the look of those books with the great big beautiful dresses on the cover, but honestly? 90% of the time I am disappointed when I actually pick it up, so generally I just look at the pretty and move on.

21 April 2017

Book Beginnings #38

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 is my first time

I am currently reading Crimson & Bone by Marina Fiorato.
They called it the Bridge of Sighs, because it barely passed a night without suicide. That night was no different.
What an opening line. Already I can sense the atmosphere building, the setting coming to life. I can't put in to words how excited I am to get properly into this story as Marina Fiorato is an excellent historical writer with a beautiful narrative style.
From her very earliest days she was at work for her father on the streets of the East End.
I tried to pick the vaguest quote on this page, as I really don't want to give anything away, but I think it perfectly captures Annie and her life and her struggles. This book is a stunner and promises to be a beautifully written tale of a desperately hidden past creeping up to threaten her.

20 April 2017

Release Day Review & Guestpost: Becoming Betty by Eleanor Wood

Lizzie Brown's life is one big to-do list: 
1. Start college
2. Become cool
3. Decide wtf to do with her life

So when she meets Viv, the crazy, beautiful lead singer in a band, she thinks she's on her way to achieving number two on her list. And when Viv asks her to be the bass player in the band, there's only one problem - Lizzie can't play a single note. And that she's nowhere near cool enough (ok, two problems). And that she has a huge crush on the guitarist (ok, three), who happens to be Viv's boyfriend (ok, this is a terrible idea).

But Viv won't take no for an answer, and decides that a makeover is the answer to everything. Boring Lizzie Brown is going to become Betty Brown the Bass Player and there's nothing Lizzie can do about it...

Source: Review Consideration | Purchase

5 Words: Music, friendship, family, change, growing-up.

Yep, she's done it again.

This is exactly the book I wish I'd had when I was sixteen. At times when I was reading I forgot I was reading about Lizzie and thought I was reading about myself. As much as I saw myself in the main character, it was still easy to escape into this story.

I loved how there were friendships that changed. I loved that first, desperate day at college. The whole book came to life as I read, played out in my head like I was watching it on TV.

Something Eleanor Wood does really well is writing about how actions have consequences. Whatever her characters do, right or wrong, there are repercussions within the story. It adds extra depth to the whole story, and makes her characters all the more human.
Behind Becoming Betty 
When I wrote Becoming Betty, the main theme I had in my head was: GIRLS DOING STUFF! Sounds very basic, I know… 
I was conscious that in my first book My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend, the heroine Tuesday (although she is super cool, and a blogger and a writer and a “do-er”) – she spends the entire story idolising a boy in a band, instead of being in a band herself. The whole book was about music, but from the point of view of being a fan rather than a musician. 
So, of course the logical next step was to write a book about girls in bands. It is very loosely inspired by the time I was in a (terrible) band when I was younger. Like Betty, I learned to play bass because it was known for being the easiest instrument. Unfortunately, I did not uncover any great hidden talent. However, I did have a brilliant time and learned to play a few songs on the bass (although mostly my friends and I sat around and drank tea and talked about how amazing our band was going to be at some unspecified point in the future). If we had spent that time actually practising, who knows where we’d be now?! 
Funnily enough, after I had written the book, I heard the term ‘girl band lit’ mentioned for the first time. During a Twitter chat about #boybandlit someone (actually the brilliant Chris Russell!) suggested that somebody needed to start writing ‘girlband lit’! It was only then it occurred to me, that’s exactly what I have written! 
While I was writing the book, I was really inspired by a few books about young girls in bands. Personally, I think these are fascinating reads whether you’re a fan of the music or not… 

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine

Isn’t that the greatest title ever? It’s a quote from the author’s mum, shouted during an argument: ‘all you ever think about is…!’ Viv Albertine was in The Slits, a girl band in London in the 70s. None of them knew how to play, they just made it up as they went along, then became an important band on the punk scene. Viv Albertine is the coolest. I love this book so much, I named one of my main characters after her. 

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

Not only was Carrie Brownstein in the amazing band Sleater Kinney – she then had a total career change when the band broke up and now writes the comedy show Portlandia. She also volunteers for a rescue dog charity. She is wonderful and inspiring. 

Paradoxical Undressing by Kristin Hersh

This memoir covers a year in Kristin’s life, when she was still a teenager. That year was a dramatic time to say the least: her band the Throwing Muses got signed, she was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and she had a baby. This woman is amazing and her book is beautiful.

18 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #86

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 Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book.

OK let's do this.

  • A pretty cover, extra points for shiny and sparkly.
  • An interesting blurb that doesn't give the whole plot away
  • #SundayYA because it ROCKS and has the best books/authors/PEOPLE ever
  • A friend recommends it because bookish friends are the best
  • A bookseller recommends it because they know their stuff
  • An author I've read before, even if I haven't loved them..?
  • Upcoming TV/Film adaptation because I want to have read it first (usually)
  • Character named Cora, who doesn't love reading their name on page?
  • EVERYONE is talking about it EVERYWHERE
  • IDK I just saw it and thought why not?

12 April 2017

SundayYAthon at Easter

The amazing Rachel, the brains behind #SundayYA, is hosting another #SundayYAthon and I couldn't be more excited. This readathon runs from Thursday 13th April to Monday 17th April, and if you pop on the hashtag there is all sorts of fun and bookish chat.

Reading List

So here is my reading list! I'm aiming for four books over the weekend because I have to adult (boo) but hopefully I can squeeze a bonus one in there too and read one per day. And (surprise) they're all UKYA. Check back throughout the readathon as I'll be reviewing as I read.

❤ Becoming Betty by Eleanor Wood
 Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery
 Contagion by Teri Terry
❤ My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

If you're taking part too, leave your links below and I'll add them on to my lovely Table of TBRs so I can keep checking back on your progress and chat books ❤

How Did I Do?

I ended up not having enough time to actually read very much over the weekend, but I still managed to get through three fabulous books which I would recommend to everyone. I didn't manage to pick up Cell 7 and I was a bit gutted because it has been on my TBR for ages, so I'm going to make it one of my next reads anyway.

Since I was short on time, I tried a few different techniques to get some reading done. The one I found worked best was setting a timer and doing a reading sprint, challenging myself to read an extra page each time I did it.

3 books
1168 pages

Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks as I review the titles I have read.

07 April 2017

Book Beginnings #37

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 is my first time

I am currently reading Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.
On the second Sabbat of Twelthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.
It's definitely off to an intriguing start. Who is this girl, why did she fall from the sky, how does one fall from the sky..?

I am just starting this now and have read only the prologue, and I had forgotten how much I loved Laini Taylor's writing. I feel like this author's writing can take a while to get used to, but once you're in you're hooked.
Without his books, Lazlo felt as though a vital link to his dream had been cut. The Unseen City has never seemed more distant, or more out of reach.
Books ❤

If it mentions books then it's gotta be good, right?

There has been so much hype around this book, it is everywhere, and I'm sure it will not disappoint.

05 April 2017

CORA AND THE REREADS: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

CORA AND THE REREADS is where I reread and review a book.

Sometimes a book is so awesome you have to pick it up again. Sometimes you feel like a different person than you were when you first read it. Sometimes you just need to read that book again.

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Source: Review Consideration | Purchase

5 Words: Crime, punishment, family, revenge, justice.

5 More Words: Power, hate, love, hope, prejudice.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: This book is like Marmite. You'll either love it or you hate it.

I hate Marmite.

I love this book.

This is actually the third time I have read this book. The first time I finished it I flipped right back to the start and read it again. This time I'm refreshing my memory before Perfect comes out and seeing if it's everything I remember. Reader? It is everything and more.

One of the things that struck me most about Flawed when I first read it was that it was written with passion and real conviction behind the message. On rereading this was even more evident. Flawed does not pull any punches, it is vicious and shocking, so much so that even on rereading I had to put it down and step away, shaking, to calm myself.

There is one scene about 1/3 through this book that makes me feel physically sick, like I can't catch my breath, that makes me tremble in fear and anger and repulsion. It is brutal. But it is integral to the plot, the turning point that changes everything. And I could not stop reading.

I love how reading this again meant that I saw it in a slightly different light. By the end of the book the words Flawed and Perfect had completely deconstructed and redefined. Right from the off, the word Flawed is used a lot. In fact, it's used over 300 times. This repetition first enforces the original meaning, then makes it meaningless, then turns it on its head. It is powerfully written.

If you have not read this book, what are you waiting for? It was so good that I had to put it down.

I love stuff like this, so I took the test:
The Guild has judged you FLAWED with a morality score of 50%

04 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #85

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 Fandoms I'm A Part Of.

I'm going to do five fandoms I just can't escape, and five fiction fandoms I've jumped on. Because sometimes I'm just fandom trash, OK?

Fandoms I Just Can't Escape
  • Harry Potter - duh!
  • iZombie
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Throne of Glass
  • Six of Crows

Fictional Fandoms I've Jumped On
  • Locked - Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
  • Fire & Lights - Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell
  • Starfield - Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  • The Keep - This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton
  • Straker - Waiting for Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill

03 April 2017

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Source: Giveaway | Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Fame, family, fandom, fun, friendship.

Well yes, I am now part of another fictional fandom. Starfield sounds amazing, I want it be real.

It was pretty obvious straight off the bat that this was a Cinderella retelling. The title is a bit of a hint after all. But the story itself adds its own fantastic twist to the tale. This is a fun and quirky story, with such enthusiastic characters that you can't help but want to join the fandom yourself. And you start googling for fanfiction and where to watch the series online before you remember that it's not real... Whoops.

I loved Ella and how feisty she was, how determined and sure of herself. I love how passionate she was and that she was completely unashamed about it. I was a little unsure about Darien at first, because I could hear Ella's judgement running round my head, but by the second part I was smitten.

If you have even the tiniest bit of geek in you, you will love this.

Favorite Self-Rescuing Princesses
Ashley Poston 
I’m a sucker for Grand Romantic Gestures. But the whole idea that men are the ones who come riding in on white steeds to save the princess? Nah. I love seeing fearless ladies slaying dragons. Princesses should not just be badges of courage awarded to the bravest of men—they should be at the head of the charge, brandishing their own courage with the steely sharpness of swords. 
And here are a few of my favorite self-rescuing princesses: 
1. Princess Leia from Star Wars. I came a little late to the Star Wars ‘verse, since I was born and raised a Trekkie, but once I found Leia, my world changed. 
2. Kestrel from The Winner Curse. Kestrel will always be a favourite when I think of ladies who use their brain instead of their brawn. If there was ever a Great Book War, I’d want to be on her and Hermione’s side. 
3. Dennaleia and Amaranthine from Of Fire and Stars. Two bad-ass heroines falling in love? Be still my bloody, beating heart. 
4. Wonder Woman. Because she’s a frickin’ Amazonian princess and she slays—in everything she does. 
5. Ana from Frozen. She’s goofy, she makes honest mistakes, and she loves her sister unconditionally—I don’t think there’s a brighter badge of courage. 
6. Cinder from Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I think this might be a spoiler…? 
7. The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace. Okay, not quite a self-rescuing princess, but it’s a must-read. Trust me. 
8. Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. BECAUSE HI I AM SO HERE FOR PLUS-SIZED PRINCESSES WHO KICK BUTT, TAKE NAMES, AND OVERTHROW EMPIRES. Yes, capslock necessary. 
9. Aly from Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce – Okay so Aly isn’t a princess BUT… The daughter of Alanna the Lioness of Tortall, she has a lot to live up to—and trust me, she totally does. One of the most resourceful, exquisitely-written heroines I’ve ever read. 
What are some of your favourite self-rescuing princesses?

This is a UK only giveaway, you could win a copy of Geekerella and a special Geekerella scented candle (which smells amazing).

31 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review & Guestpost: Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff

In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose - to obey.

Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servant; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power.

But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming.

In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free.

And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Power, control, feminism, survival, magic.

I knew from the moment I read about the Naondel in Maresi that I had to know more.

This book is written in a slightly different style from Maresi, with the narrative changing at intervals between different characters. It still has the same feel to the writing, it's still quite blunt and in your face at times, but I loved it. I could easily distinguish between the characters - and quickly realised that I had a favourite. I just love Garai, okay?

I would definitely say to read this after Maresi, even though it is set before. It just felt more natural to read them in that order.
How did I start writing books? 
I think it began as soon as I learned to write. My Mum has saved some stories I wrote when I was five years old. They are completely misspelled and very hard to decipher, but if you do, you find classic fairytales with a beginning, middle and an end. Only there’s often a small twist. After the poor farmer boy who set out into the world to find his luck and fortune has rescued the princess the two look at each other and decide they have no intention of getting married. Instead they go their separate ways. 
I dreamed of becoming a writer for as long as I can remember. Only it was my secret dream: if adults asked, as adults do, what I wanted to be when I grew up I replied “deep sea diver or ballerina”, because I frankly thought my innermost dream was nobody’s business. Least of all some nosy adults’. And I loved writing: it was fun, and easy, and I was teeming with ideas. Until something happened in my teens. I suspect it was self-criticism paired with the teaching method at the time: for creative writing you got a topic, wrote your piece, turned it in and got graded. There was no editing, so what I took from it was that a text is either good or bad, and if it’s bad, there’s no way to fix it. Another reason was that I wanted to be a Real Writer so badly that I started writing what I thought Real Writers wrote: realism. The imagination, the fantastical, was childish. It took me many years of heartache and hard work to get back to the joy of storytelling, and it didn’t happen until I allowed myself to start writing fantasy again. 
I struggled for the longest time with what I considered a lack of ideas. But I was blocking all the creativity by thinking that as soon as I sat down to write, it had to become that most mythical and holy thing, A Book. And nothing I came up with was good enough fodder for that hallowed beast. 
It took me leaving the computer, and all that press and expectation, and just writing small exercises by hand in a notebook, to find my way back to fantasy, and ideas, and writing being fun, again.