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 going to be marking off each square as I finish!
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
Grind - A book with 500+ pages (audiobook, based on 801 pages)
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Multiplayer - Buddy read a book (reading with Steph at Dystopia Fantasy Reads)
The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Respawn - Read a book which you previously DNF
Sabriel by Garth Nix

Are you taking part? What would you read?

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.

08 August 2017

Review: STAGS by MA Bennett

S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett
Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fishin'. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry's parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports - hunting, shooting and fishing - become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school...

Source: NetGalley Request | Purchase

5 Words: Privilege, power, huntin', shootin', fishin'.

Holy wow. I misjudged this book a lot.

I knew from those first gripping pages that there had been a death, that someone thought they had murdered someone else, but I loved how unreliable it felt.

I'm not entirely sure what it was about the cover or the blurb (yes, I read it for once!) that made me think that this was set in the US, but it's not. And that came as a very pleasant and welcome surprise.

I found myself quickly sucked deep into the world of the Medievals and Savages and the intrigue of school politics, and that was enough to keep me feverishly turning pages even before the main story kicked in.  And once that main story kicked in I was hooked by the ominous cloud hanging over everything, the portent of what I thought I knew was to come (I was wrong).

I loved Greer. I loved how she had this film connection with her father and how it was such a large part of her life that slipped into Greer's narrative.

I feel like this would translate amazingly into film or TV - and the setting would be all the more breathtaking. Think Skins set in Downton Abbey with a dash of Mean Girls.

The ending of STAGS was left open, ready for a sequel. But I actually hope it is left on its own, as that would make the story (and the ending) even more powerful. Also, I can carry on the fanfic in my head.

06 August 2017

Friendship is Important (#BroodyWeek)

Broody Week is a bit like Shark Week. But with less teeth and blood and more dazzling orbs and tousled manes. And it's come about because life has gotten in the way of my BroodyBFF duties, which is very sucky, because I love Broody.

I love a good friendship in fiction. They usually come secondary to the plot and are parts of the characters themselves, but they can make or break a book for me. Some of my favourite friendships are those between siblings.

Pirates! by Celia Rees
Nancy and Minerva are more than friends, it's like they share a soul (and for good reason) and I could read about their lives and adventures forever.

All Of The Above by Juno Dawson
I loved how this friendship group felt exactly like my own teenage friends. I loved how everyone interacted, how they came together, and how everything wasn't rosy and perfect.

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
They may be sisters but they are also friends. Being friends with my own two sisters, this book really hit home in so many ways. From the laughs to the tears, the jokes to the arguments, I was on board for all of it and it felt so incredibly real.

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
The Spinster Club - are they not friendship goals? The trio have the most amazing friendship, supporting each other through all of their ups and downs.

Tuesday and her mum aren't just mother and daughter - they're friends. I love their antics and the way their relationship comes through even on blog posts and comments.

What's your favourite Fictional Friendship?

This post is part of the Brooding YA Hero #BroodyBFF Streetteam Challenge.

05 August 2017

The Contemporary YA I Love (#BroodyWeek)

Broody Week is a bit like Shark Week. But with less teeth and blood and more dazzling orbs and tousled manes. And it's come about because life has gotten in the way of my BroodyBFF duties, which is very sucky, because I love Broody.

If someone asks me which YA genre is my favourite, I'll probably say Contemporary. But that's not strictly true. I find that YA is much more likely to be cross-genre fiction and I can never pigeonhole it in to just one genre. These books will not just be contemporary, but they are some of my favourites. But here are my top three. It was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to just these because I read a lot and give my love freely to books.

Lucas by Kevin Brooks
Family, friendship, prejudice, community, vigilante...
This book is haunting. Once you read it, it will stay with you forever. It is violent and real, heartbreaking and shocking. Immensely moving.

Darkmere by Helen Maslin
Romance, history, partying, summer, horror...
Darkemere is a dark and brooding and atmospheric book that comes to life before you. It was really quite exceptional.
Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell
Friendship, fame, betrayal, bullying, family...
It confronts online bullying and trolling head on show that consequences of every action can be huge. A very addictive story.

What's your favourite Contemporary YA?

This post is part of the Brooding YA Hero #BroodyBFF Streetteam Challenge.

04 August 2017

Read to the Music (#BroodyWeek)

Broody Week is a bit like Shark Week. But with less teeth and blood and more dazzling orbs and tousled manes. And it's come about because life has gotten in the way of my BroodyBFF duties, which is very sucky, because I love Broody.

Have you ever heard a song that just works perfectly with a book? Or maybe you hear that song and suddenly BAM you're transported back to that fictional life you once read? I was going to do few but once I got started, I could stop. And to prevent an endless post I decided on ONE. Well, this is mine. Complete with fancy YouTube videos so you can listen too.

Darkmere by Helen Maslin is one of my absolute favourite books. It is breathtaking, absolutely stunning, filled with friendship and deception and tension and ghosts. And oh my. It gave me one of my biggest book hangovers ever. It just so happened that when I was reading Darkmere I was going through a huge folk kick, and Vance Joy's Riptide was everywhere I turned.

And now I can't listen to this song without being transported back to Darkmere and Kate and Leo. And what is probably a really nice song has transformed into my head into something subtly sinister.

And look! The video is set in a CAVE. It's like it was made for Darkmere. And now I'm off to read it again.

Which book and music do you pair up?

03 August 2017

The Books I Need a Sequel For (#BroodyWeek)

Broody Week is a bit like Shark Week. But with less teeth and blood and more dazzling orbs and tousled manes. And it's come about because life has gotten in the way of my BroodyBFF duties, which is very sucky, because I love Broody.

Some books end and I'm left desperately wanting more. Some series end and I'm left desperately wanting more. With some books I will put off reading the last chapters for weeks, just so they don't end quite as soon. With some series I will put off reading the last book forever for months, just so they don't end quite as soon. They need sequels.


Acid by Emma Pass is a standalone, but it felt like it could have continued on forever. I absolutely loved the book when I first read it a few years ago, and even now I think about it and how I want it to continue.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is one of my favourite books in the world. I love the tone, the writing, the characters. And I would love to see what Petrova makes of herself.

Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks. What happened to Raymond?

What book do you need more of?

This post is part of the Brooding YA Hero #BroodyBFF Streetteam Challenge.

02 August 2017

Reading a Book About Me (#BroodyWeek)

Broody Week is a bit like Shark Week. But with less teeth and blood and more dazzling orbs and tousled manes. And it's come about because life has gotten in the way of my BroodyBFF duties, which is very sucky, because I love Broody.

As much as I've read around 200 books a year since I was sixteen, I haven't read a book about me. It makes me quite sad, but more and more books are coming out with more and more diverse voices, so it's only a matter of time. And this makes me extremely happy.
The first book I ever saw part of myself in was I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I remember reading about Cassandra Mortmain and seeing a small part of myself reflected in the page. Her worries about her family, her loyalty, her huge heart.
But the closest was All of The Above by Juno Dawson. I loved Toria's struggles with who she was attracted to, who she wanted to be more than just friends with. It reminded me of my teenage years.

Which book do you identify most with?

This post is part of the Brooding YA Hero #BroodyBFF Streetteam Challenge.

01 August 2017

Why I Love a Broody Love Triangle (#BroodyWeek)

Broody Week is a bit like Shark Week. But with less teeth and blood and more dazzling orbs and tousled manes. And it's come about because life has gotten in the way of my BroodyBFF duties, which is very sucky, because I love Broody.

Most people say that they hate love triangles. But I can't get enough of the tension and the indecision. I love the confusion and the battles of emotions. Will they? Won't they? Who will end up with WHO?

I love it when drama and passion lead a story, and this always seems most evident when there is a love triangle lurking. I love how I gasp at mistakes, how I always get behind one couple more than another. I start to root for them, to become mini-cheerleaders. I love the intensity of feelings that I feel as events unfold on the pages.

For all that people say they are sick of love triangle and that they're everywhere, I can't get enough of them and I can never find enough!

Recommend me a book with a love triangle!

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This post is part of the Brooding YA Hero #BroodyBFF Streetteam Challenge.