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?