22 June 2018

Five Things To Do If You Didn't Get Get North 2018 Opening Tickets

The tickets for Get North's opening ceremony sold out within minutes. BUT the city has a whole host of other things to offer for a Friday evening once the un-ticketed free festivities of the day draw to a close.

  1. Go to the Hoppings
    Europe's biggest travelling fun fair is back on Newcastle's Town Moor with over 300 rides and attractions. It's open from 1pm-11pm on Friday and then from early afternoon to 11pm for the rest of its stay. You can even get vouchers for 50p off rides.
  2. Pub Crawl
    Why not hit up some of NewcastleGateshead's oldest pubs? Start at The Central Bar in Gateshead, walk over the High Level Bridge to the The Bridge Hotel, then up to The Old George Inn on the Cloth Market. Sample the quirkiest sounding guest ale at each, and if you're early enough then definitely grab something to eat at The Central Bar because the food is delicious.
  3. Go to the Circus
    Cirque Berserk is at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House this weekend to celebrate 250 years since the invention of Circus. I went last night and I can confirm that it is absolutely spectacular, it took my completely off guard. My hands still hurt from clapping. Tickets are priced £15.50 - £27.50, or you can get a family ticket for £70 (2 adults + 2 children or 1 adult + 3 children).
  4. Go to the Beach
    Get away from the hustle and bustle, jump on the Metro and take yourself to Tynemouth to enjoy the views. Trek down on to King Edward's Bay, get yourself some dinner from Riley's Fish Shack, and thank me later.
  5. Watch from Up High
    I figure, why not find somewhere a little further away to watch from? You'll most likely have more luck on the Gateshead side of the river, where the quayside isn't as built up so you'll get a clearer view, but don't forget the High Level Bridge or even Ouseburn.

What are you doing this weekend?


19 June 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #126

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach
I always have Good Intentions when it comes to my summer reading, but I tend to actually just lay around daydreaming and people watching. Whoopsy. But here are ten books I recommend for beach and pool-side reading.
  1. Darkmere by Helen Maslin
  2. Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell
  3. Sex, Lies, & Cruising by Cathryn Chapman
  4. Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton
  5. First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan
  6. Sundowners by Lesley Lokko
  7. The Castle by Sophia Bennett
  8. Full Steam Ahead by Valerie Chase
  9. Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
  10. A Girl Called Malice by Aurelia B Rowl

    What will you be reading this summer?

    18 June 2018

    The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts

    The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts is the first in a new series and it was an absolute delight to read. The writing is fantastically descriptive and I could picture everything.

    The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine RobertsAdd to Goodreads
    London, 1914: one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London's renowned Foyles bookshop. But when war with Germany is declared their lives will never be the same again...

    Alice has always been the 'sensible' one in her family – especially in comparison with her suffrage-supporting sister! But decidedly against her father's wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it's a dream come true.

    But with the country at war, Alice's happy world is shattered in an instant. Determined to do what she can, Alice works in the bookshop by day, and risks her own life driving an ambulance around bomb-ravaged London by night. But however busy she keeps herself, she can't help but think of the constant danger those she loves are facing on the frontline...

    Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn't be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood – a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war.


    Source: NetGalley Request

    5 Words: Friendship, hope, war, family, love.

    It's historical and it's set in a bookshop and really, what's not to love?

    Although Alice is most definitely the main character, I loved all three central characters. I particularly empathised with Victoria the most, I felt her frustration and desperation and honestly felt so sorry for her at times that I could cry. Despite Lily not being a main character, I loved her conviction and how headstrong she was.

    I loved how the characters developed and changed, how the story showed how easily everything can change. What started off as quite a mellow story about some young women working in a bookshop quickly turned into a darker drama with all of the complications of difficult families and war.

    The story is so full of description that you can picture everything around you perfectly. The setting is remarkable in how it comes to life as you read. You can't just see it all, you can hear and even smell it.

    This was a fantastic start and I can't wait for the second book!

    The Foyles Bookshop Girls Blog Tour

    15 June 2018

    Five TV Shows I Watch On Repeat

    When I'm not reading, I'm watching a ridiculous amount on Netflix, Prime, and the TV. If you want to see what TV shows I'm watching you can have a nosy at my TV Time. But in the meanwhile here are my absolute favourites, that I pretty much watch on a loop and can quote along to while I watch.

    Empresses In The Palace

    Oh man, my love for this series. Although I am still making my way through the original 76 episodes (and the abysmal subtitles) there is a shortened cut on Netflix which is six one-and-a-half-hour episodes of awesome, and I've watched it about six times in the past year. I love Huan and Mei and all of the court intrigue and backstabbing and the feminist thread running through the story-lines. I would recommend it to everyone.

    iZombie

    Liv Moore makes me smile. I love the dark humour and flashbacks, and how Rose McIver can become anyone on screen. The way that so many issues are explored each episode is amazing. As iZombie nears the final series, it is simultaneously getting more serious and more over the top, but I love the skewed power dynamics and how it's Liv, Peyton and Dale who tend to be in control.

    Reign

    I have been re-watching series 1-3 over and over, and avoiding series 4 because I don't want it to end. But now I'm going in (again) and watching it to the very end (finally). I love the power struggles and the character development, how each of the women fight to reign and stay in power.

    Nashville

    This show ignited my love of all thing country, and the soundtrack is my go to on a rainy day when I need cheering up. Or when I need a good cry. Or when I'm getting ready for a night out. I love the focus on music and the fight to get to the top and then stay there, and how I'm guaranteed a good cry every few episodes.

    A Touch of Cloth

    Honestly, it's the silliness of this series that I love the most, and the little details in the background that you'll probably miss on your first watch, that make it even funnier when you re-watch. I love crime dramas, so this parody really tickles me, especially with the clever wordplay.


    Well opps, it turns out I like feminism and humour are front and centre of my TV viewing as well as my bookshelf and I'm not sorry at all #GirlPower.


    What have you been watching recently?


    14 June 2018

    Guestpost: How My Characters Came To Be The Characters They Are by Kitty Wilson

    I am delighted to welcome Kitty Wilson to my blog to talk about how her characters are formed, from their first presence as a mix of people she knows to the fully fledged (and excellent) characters that make an appearance in the finished books. Even the secondary characters in The Cornish Village School are marvellously written, and they really come to life in the story.

    How My Characters Came To Be The Characters They Are

    When I start writing, my characters are half formed. I tend to base the protagonists, characters that the reader is meant to like and cheer on to their Happy Ever After, on people I respect and love myself. In The Cornish Village School, this was easy. I based Rosy on an amalgamation of friends I have, one in particular, and started from there. However, it doesn’t take long before they start flexing their muscles, initially whispering ‘I am x, y and z, I am here and I am me’, as the book progresses that whisper becomes a roar and the characters become fully formed humans.

    Unfortunately, this means that they believe they are self-determining. I used to read posts from authors that said their characters had taken a turn down a path that was unexpected, that threw the whole plot off and I would scoff. Characters are a creation hence the writer must have complete control of them, surely? And yes, of course we do, we write the words and we erase even more. But there is something intangible, something hard to express that seems to take over and before you know it, there on the page, where your character is supposed to be having a solemn period of self-reflection in the local pub suddenly she’s dancing on the table, hollering like a cowgirl, and very probably using her jumper as a lasso. I know this far-fetched but it has happened to me way more than once. You then choose whether you repeatedly hit the delete key or see where they are going to take you, following them often leads to a much richer story.

    With The Cornish Village School, Rosy was meant to be terribly sweet and wholesome – the whole apple pie and rosy cheeks kinda girl – and she is both those things, but as I began to write her she got a little more feisty, her comebacks were quicker and maybe a tad sharper than planned and I found I liked her all the more for it. Suddenly she stopped being someone who was a bit overwhelmed by the battle for the school and became more Boudicca, she wasn’t going down without a fight. She was professional and together but she was human too and made mistakes. I respected her character at the end of the process whereas I had been a little worried at the start that she might come across as dull. Luckily, she stepped in and made sure that wasn’t the case.

    Matt was easy to write. In my head he was a kind of mash up of the loveable national treasure that is Monty Don with a spoonful of James Wong and a sprinkle of Diarmuid Gavin – not that I know any of them obviously, but he was at least a mix of how I imagined them to be. He too came alive as he hit the page, and as I wrote he became a far more complex character with his own host of demons, never on show but very present and responsible for shaping his interactions with his sister, a sister most of us would have been tempted to give up on years ago. However, the upside of Angelina (and there are many, I adore her) was that Matt was more than equipped to deal with Rosy’s insecurities than perhaps he would have been had he not had such a tricksy sister.

    Finally, Marion, she is possibly my favourite and according to reviews, very much a readers favourite too. We have all met her in real life, whether it be in the playground, at work or socially. She tends to like a committee. In The Cornish Village School – Breaking The Rules, before I knew how people would react to her, I limited some of her worst excesses and she really was a character who wanted to dominate me on the page. Now she is out in the world, I have realised I can let her fly a bit freer and she will be a heavy feature of the series, with her own storyline woven through the next two.

    I surprised myself by how much I was rooting for Marion and I think part of Marion’s joy is also her humanity; yes, she’s a nightmare but we grow to love her tenacity and purpose. If I ever have a big battle to fight, I want a Marion on my side.

    In the second book in the series we meet with Sylvie who, briefly introduced in book one, has really been through the mill. With Rosy and Matt, lots of Marion and a sprinkling of Angelina we see if Penmenna School can weave it’s magic and help Sylvie get back on her feet and maybe even find her very own Happy Ever After.


    The Cornish Village School - Breaking the Rules (Cornish Village School #1) by Kitty Wilson Add to Goodreads

    Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

    In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… She won’t be giving up without a fight.

    08 June 2018

    Five Things I'm Excited For This Summer

    Every so often I have to remind myself to look at the positives and focus on the good things ahead. I've been feeling pretty crap recently so I decided to sit down and thing about what I have to look forward too. And actually? There's quite a lot lined up for me this summer.

    Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Newcastle Quayside
    1. The time has finally come that I can go and see Cursed Child! I think I've done an amazing job of avoiding spoilers all these years and I am so excited to finally experience the magic and see what it's all about.
    2. I get to spend a whole weekend talking about books with all of the bookish people! I can't wait to stay with some bookish buddies, the revival of #TakeawayYA, and squeaking at authors because I'm overwhelmed.
    3. UCLan Pulishing is hosting The Supernatural & Fantastical in YA next month, and not only does it have an amazing line up (Melinda Salisbury, Sally Green, Taran Matharu, Alexandra Christo, David Owen, Melvin Burgess, A.J Hartley, Marcus Sedgwick) but again it's FREE. Amazing.
    4. My local Waterstones is really excelling this year when it comes to bringing even more amazing events up North. I really can't wait to see Matt Haig again, he was excellent last time he was up.
    5. So much is going to be happening and I am so ready for it. Even though I didn't get launch night tickets (boo) I can't wait for it all to start in just two weeks. I've already been watching the changes taking place in various venues.
    What are you looking forward to this summer?

    Wylam Brewery,The Palace of Arts, Newcastle upon Tyne

    05 June 2018

    Top Ten Tuesday #125

    Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

    Top Ten Tuesday
    This week is Top Ten 
    Books I Did Not Finish But Will Return To
    I find myself nowadays DNFing more and more. If I'm not feeling a book there's no point in trying to force myself to finish it - I'll just resent the book even more. I'm a mood reader so often it's just that I'm not in the mood and more likely than not I'll try again another time. So here are ten that I DNFed but will come back to. Eventually.
    1. A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
    2. The Next Together by Lauren James
    3. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
    4. The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart
    5. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
    6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    7. Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
    8. Edwin: High King of Britain by Edoardo Albert 
    9. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
    10. Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

      Do you DNF books?

      04 June 2018

      Exile by SM Wilson

      At the beginning of this year, I read The Extinction Trials by SM Wilson and I absolutely loved it. So did I enjoy the second book as much? Heck yes I did! Exile was fantastic and exactly what I needed - but do I really need to wait until next year for the next one?

      The Extinction Trials: Exile by SM WilsonAdd to Goodreads
      Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival.

      Welcome to The Extinction Trials.

      After surviving on Piloria once, Storm and Lincoln are the obvious candidates to return to the dinosaur continent to test the new virus that should clear the way for human settlement.

      But they have their own priorities – finding a cure for the plague that’s sweeping Earthasia, and keeping themselves alive.


      Source: Review Request.

      5 Words: DINOSAURS. Family, friendship, betrayal, survival.

      Honestly, I missed this world so much that less that six months after first reading The Extinction Trials, I read it again so I could jump back into the world with it all fresh in my memory. I thought the first book was just as excellent the second time and I loved being able to carry straight on with the story.

      We were back with Storm and Lincoln, and again I preferred Storm. I just love her, OK?

      Exile was just as fast paced as the first book. Despite a lot of the book being set back in Earthasia, I loved how the politics of the world were explored, the nuances of society. And once the story moved to Piloria I was in my element.

      Piloria as such an exciting and scary place, and the setting drives the pace as much as the story itself. It was intense, it just kept building and building until the end. And wow, what a ending.

      Again, I was on Google searching up dinosaurs to get a clearer picture of those I was unfamiliar with and damn, they are described so well that I didn't really have to bother.

      I need more. Now.


      What's your favourite dinosaur?


      01 June 2018

      Five Things I Love About The North East

      If you know me at all, you'll know that I love where I live. I may not have been born south of the border, but it's where my heart resides. The North East of England is definitely my home, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Heck, I even holiday up here!

      High Level Bridge, Newcastle  South Beach, Blyth

      So what exactly is so great about being Geet Up North? Well here are five things I love about the North East of England.
      1. Castles and Towers, Oh My!
        Northumberland alone has more castles than any other county in England. Even from where I live it's barely a mile before I hit a Pele Tower and an ancient fort. The area has a rich history that I love exploring and learning about.
      2. Beautiful Beaches
        I love how varied the coast is. From towering cliffs to sweeping beaches to mountainous sand dunes, I love it all. One thing I love to do is visit Warkworth beach and jump between the tank defences - it makes me feel like a kid again. And the food at Riley's Fish Shack in Tynemouth is incredible.
      3. Innovation and Invention
        Whether it was the first street lit by electronic lightblubs (Mosley Street) or the first house powered by renewable hydroelectricity (Cragside) or even the first commercially successful steam locomotive, if you look back the North East has brought a lot to the table. Now it is a pioneer in scientific research with Centre For Life and Science Central.
      4. Hadrian's Wall
        How could I not mention this World Heritage Site? Although I've always lived North Of The Wall, I have visited the forts along it as often as I have been able to afford (not much, it turns out). Bonus shout out for Arbeia, which sits on the other side of the Tyne but is FREE and has reconstructions - which I love. I visit a lot for picnics and walks (also it's an excuse to travel by ferry).
      5. NewcastleGateshead
        I feel like it all kind of comes together with this pairing - the feats of engineering displayed by the bridges, the breathtaking public works of art, the galleries, the museums, the castles and churches. NewcastleGateshead is alive with culture and acceptance and honestly the nicest people you'll ever meet.
      Big Waters, Northumberland  The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne

      I feel like the sky is so big here. There's so much possibility, so much to do and see and learn from. And I just can't keep it to myself.

      Have you ever visited Up North?


      28 May 2018

      Guestpost: Growing Up in the Lake District

      Deep Fear by Rachel Lynch is the second DI Kelly Porter book set in the breathtaking Lake District. The setting is just as atmospheric as the story itself, and lends itself to a thrilling read, so I am pleased to have the author posting a bit about growing up in the Lake District.

      Deep Fear by Rachel LynchAdd to Goodreads
      DI Kelly Porter is back. 

      But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

      On a peaceful summer's morning in the Lake District, a woman's body is discovered outside a church. She's been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. 

      DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime, and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home? 


      Growing Up in the Lake District

      By Rachel Lynch

      Fans of the Kelly Porter series know how important the setting is to these books. The Lake District is one of Britain’s last wildernesses and its dramatic scenery draws in close to sixteen million visitors every year. Having won UNESCO World Heritage status last summer, the Lake District now takes its place with Macchu Picchu and Iguazu Falls, and for good reason. Modelled by the last ice age and sculpted by grazing sheep, the fells and dales, dotted with deep lakes, create a landscape perfect for a thriller.

      At first glance, the sleepy villages and welcoming tea shops give the impression of cosy, wholesome charm, but, lurking beneath the calm exterior lies the unexpected opportunity of hiding places fit for the most sinister dark deeds. The single lane roads, untouched corners, mysterious forests and cold watery depths lend themselves to a parallel world, where criminals can exist in relative peace and literally get away with murder. For Kelly and her team, it’s a backdrop waiting to be exploited and only local knowledge can unpick the threads that lead to the core of underworld activity.

      I didn’t think any of these things when I was a child, being dragged up Great Gable, in my 1970s orange waterproofs. Eating soggy sandwiches and sipping cold tea on top of Scafell Pike, wondering what my friends were up to, seemed a word away from the cases Kelly Porter would one day face. But the lure of the fells kept me going back, season after season, even when I moved to London. Despite the whinging and whining to my poor parents; my not wanting to take another step, see another Tarn, climb another summit, browse another pretty gift shop, swim another sub-zero lake or pose for another photograph; now, I thank them.

      As the now yearly trip north approaches, I show my children the routes we might take on Wainwright maps, full of wonder and enthusiasm, trying to muster up excitement and divert them from the fact that we’re not going to Mykanos or Ibiza like their friends. But once we get there, pack our hiking kit, pack the sandwiches and head off for our chosen summit, they can’t help but become carried away with the magic of a day’s hike, and what we might find. No screens, no phones, no choking traffic or angry, or busy twenty first century automatons clog our route, and they become real children again.

      Without realising, or missing their electronics, for one or two weeks, they simply immerse themselves in the peace and tranquillity of the mountains and lakes, and now I’ve got them hooked. The paths, tarns and summits are just the same as they were thirty years ago, and we do exactly what we did then: buy ice cream, drink water from a fast flowing stream, map read, skim stones and tick off Wainwrights.

      A few things have changed: there are new National Trust carparks to cope with the volume of tourists, there are more road signs indicating waterfalls and pools, and there are more hotels and tea shops where there were none. But if you know where to look, you can walk for hours without any of these things. That’s why Kelly had to be a local girl. She went off to London for a spell, to the bright lights of the Met, and made her name rising to the top of vast murder squads in the capital, but her heart is back at home in Cumbria, and that’s where she returns to in Dark Game. Deep Fear sees her face new cases, and it’s her local knowledge that makes all the difference.

      The mountains and lakes are part of who Kelly Porter is: they shaped her, and it’s how she relaxes, it’s how she thinks, and it’s how she gets time to clear her head of the sheer horror of her job. We

      often find Kelly going for a fell run to unwind, or a hike to chew over a case; as she falls back in love with where she grew up. She also remembers the time she spent with her father, out on the fells, listening and learning, and she questions why she left in the first place. She knows the terrain instinctively, and in Deep Fear, that no-nonsense intuition is what guides her through the investigation to the grisly conclusion.

      Of course, the stories are just fiction, but the canvas of the Lake District affords a reality that has enabled me to create an odious underbelly, almost, but not quite, safe from detection. Without my parents press-ganging me into walking for miles on end, in my 1970s orange waterproofs, Kelly Porter would never have been given such loathsome cases to delve into, nor such a staggering countryside in which to investigate them.


      26 May 2018

      Cold Bath Street by AJ Hartley

      Creepy and twisty, Cold Bath Street by AJ Hartley made my heart race while I read it. And I couldn't put it down. The atmosphere just builds and builds, and the masterful illustrations take it to the next level. It's a little bit exhilarating and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any fan of horror.

      Below I get to share AJ Hartley's own list of scariest places to read Cold Bath Street. And I know I wouldn't want to risk it!

      Cold Bath Street by AJ HartleyAdd to Goodreads
      Preston Oldcorn is in a desolate void between life and death. In order to save his soul he must brave his greatest fear - Cold Bath Street. A gothic thriller - think Hunger Games crossed with Artemis Fowl - that will keep you gripped to the end. Stunning black and white illustrations throughout.




      5 Scariest Places to Read Cold Bath Street


      These are all best after dark, always assuming you get in safely and legally, of course.

      1. The Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, or - for that matter - any art gallery, preferably deserted and hung with dark oil paintings of people half lost in shadow. Do they stay in the same place when you look down to read? Are you sure?
      2. Clitheroe Castle. This was the closest medieval fortification that we used to go to as kids from Preston, and it always had that haunted feel of places where people lived and died long ago but has long since been abandoned. Any castle or ruined abbey will do as well so long as its dim and quiet.
      3. Pendle Hill, Lancashire, the haunt of England’s most famous witches, and whether you find their story mysterious or merely tragic, the place retains a wild and blasted power. It broods over the surrounding countryside like storm cloud.
      4. Part of Cold Bath Street hinges on the local cemetery, but all graveyards are inherently atmospheric, particularly if they have been there a long time. I like mine old and rugged, preferably with a gloomy church close by.
      5. The Miley Tunnel, Preston, or any other abandoned railway lines, especially where the trains passed under ground, and the dank air is now loaded with the memories of those who used to ride there.
      Where is the scariest place you've ever read a scary book?

      25 May 2018

      Book Beginnings #62

      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 Exile by SM Wilson.
      The Extinction Trials: Exile by SM Wilson

      Everything was white. And he hated that more than anything.
      I have just finished a reread of the first book, The Extinction Trials, and I couldn't wait to get back to Earthasia and Piloria so I'm jumping straight in with book two.

      I love the writing style, how it differs between the characters narrating. My first thoughts of this line were along the lines of "Is Lincoln in some sort of prison?".
      She couldn't think of a suitable reply. And the look on his face was strange. As if he was remembering something from long ago.
      Honestly, the revelations just keep on coming. I'm not gonna lie, Stormchaser is still my favourite character, I just love the way she works, and how much of a Hufflepuff she is with her loyalty and her love and her determination.

      What are you reading this week?

      22 May 2018

      Top Ten Tuesday #124

      Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

      Top Ten Tuesday
      This week is Top Ten 
      Best Character Names 
      Best Characters This Year (so far)
      I couldn't think of a single best character name. I have no idea how I'd even go about that. So I've decided instead to list the ten best characters I've read this year - so far.
      1. Lexi from Clean by Juno Dawson
      2. Stormchaser from The Extinction Trials by SM Wilson
      3. Leora from Ink by Alice Broadway
      4. Eelyn from Sky In the Deep by Adrienne Young
      5. Nona from Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
      6. Amari from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomy Adeyemi
      7. Mira from When the Beat Drops by Anna Hecker
      8. Sorrow from State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
      9. Camellia from The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
      10. Jay from The Girl In the Broken Mirror by Savita Kalhan

        Who is your favourite character this year?

        19 May 2018

        Royals by Rachel Hawkins

        I won a copy from Scholastic UK over on Twitter and I squealed when it arrived.

        This is a book that you have to give yourself over to. Let yourself sink into the story, suspend belief, and have a laugh.

        Royals is set in an alternate universe which addresses the question - what if the Stuart's still ruled Scotland and the prince married the American daughter of an aging rock star? And it hits so many cliches on the way too. Absolutely perfect for sunny days and rainy nights.


        Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

        While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady... But Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself. 


        Source: Giveaway

        5 Words: Family, responsibility, secrets, love, royalty.

        This book was just SO SWEET. I had a huge, ridiculous grin on my face the whole time I was reading it.

        Whenever I think back I just smile and giggle so I'm doing something a little different today.

        Reasons to Read Royals


        1. Sisters
          Oh, the love and resentment between sisters. I loved how their relationship was portrayed, and how they resented each other just as much as they love each other, because that's what sisters are like.
        2. Train-Wreck Prince
          And his royal wreckers. They were a hot mess and got up to some eye-brow raising and hilarious antics. Much as he is a bit of a dick at times, I loved him by the end.
        3. Loyal Friends
          I loved the friendship dynamics, and not just between the main characters. They're pretty much all loyal in their own ways, but I loved how they all had their own unique relationships.
        4. Queerness
          Without dropping a spoiler, this book has a surprisingly not-straight character, and one I loved getting glimpses of.
        5. Sheer Joy
          Honestly, this book is just an absolute joy to read, with pithy quotes and pop references and sass.
        He just showed up like a posh vampire I accidentally invited in, then couldn't make leave.

        17 May 2018

        When the Beat Drops by Anna Hecker

        I requested this on impulse on NetGalley based on the cover, because music is like catnip in books for me. If I'd read the synopsis I'd probably have hesitated. Which is such a shame as I raced through this book and I absolutely loved it. So I'm sharing my gushing review below and hoping you'll want to pick it up too!

        The link at the bottom leads to a sneak peak of a playlist for the book by the author herself.

        When The Beat Drops by Anna HeckerAdd to Goodreads
        Seventeen-year-old Mira has always danced to her own beat. A music prodigy in a family of athletes, she'd rather play trumpet than party - and with her audition to a prestigious jazz conservatory just around the corner (and her two best friends at music camp without her), she plans to spend the summer focused on jazz and nothing else.

        She only goes to the warehouse party in a last-ditch effort to bond with her older sister. Instead, she falls in love with dance music, DJing... and Derek, a gorgeous promoter who thinks he can make her a star. Suddenly trumpet practice and old friendships are taking a backseat to the packed dance floors, sun-soaked music festivals, outsized personalities, and endless beats of the EDM scene.

        But when a devastating tragedy plunges her golden summer into darkness, Mira discovers just how little she knows about her new boyfriend, her old friends, and even her own sister. Music is what brought them together... but will it also tear them apart?


        Source: NetGalley

        5 Words: Music, family, love, secrets, hope.

        Well boy, that was a ride. And one I wasn't expecting.

        I was expecting something light, and probably fluffy, with a musical backdrop.

        What I read was something far darker than I could have imagined, where the music came to life on the pages. And I could not stop reading. It's almost like there's a beat behind the story itself. Music is everywhere for Mira, it's part of her very character, and it was everywhere in this book. I could almost hear it.

        I was absolutely blown away by the story. The pace was steadily rising, with various small story-lines all weaving together into one hell of an ending. And the story was more complex than I had prepared myself for, with more strands and deeper meaning. And trigger warnings for substance abuse and grief most definitely apply. As heavy as the story is at times, any issues are handled sensitively (even if I wanted to cry at times) and I felt it was done in a very responsible and non-preachy way.

        This is not a light, fluffy, summer read. But it is excellent and you should absolutely read it.

        15 May 2018

        Top Ten Tuesday #123

        Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

        Top Ten Tuesday
        This week is Top Ten 
        Books I Disliked but Am Really Glad I Read
        I had to take a dive into my 1 and 2 star goodreads shelves for this. Turns out that eight is generally the limit of my patience with a series, and there's a certain type of book I just don't like very much.
        1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
          It was OK and I don't get the hype, but I gave it a go and found a good narrator with the audiobook. Silver linings? I might try the TV series instead.
        2. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepherd
          Not so much the first book in the series, but definitely later books I very much disliked. I think I got to the eighth book before I gave up, but I'm glad I tried it.
        3. Marked by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
          This is another series where I gave up on the eighth book because the story became a little bit too absurd. But I did it, I tried, and it was fun to begin with.
        4. The Elite
          I ballsed up reading this series and started with the second book. Huge mistake. Because you're just dropped in, and there's no explanation of the previous book. Also the world building is pretty non-existent.
        5. Frostblood by Elly Blake
          I just generally didn't enjoy this one, but I'm glad I read it because it's one I can recommend to people who like a certain type of fantasy.
        6. Losing It by Cora Carmack
          I just... I didn't like it, love. I especially didn't like Garrick, love.
        7. Twilight by Stephenie Meyers
          A lot of people hate on this, but I did keep an open mind and give it a go. Unfortunately I wasn't a fan of the writing, and that's down to personal preference and no hate for those who like it.
        8. Throne of Glass by SJ Maas
          As problematic as this book and series are, they actually helped me address some of my own internalised misogyny, and for that I am grateful.
        9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
          So, fun fact - I *love* the story of Pride and Prejudice, but I *hate* the book. I just can't stand it, can't put my finger on why. Put an adaptation in front of me and I'll be enthralled, put the book in front of me and I'll make confetti with the pages.
        10. Panic by Lauren Oliver
          I have a love/hate relationship with this book. As much as I couldn't understand the game AT ALL I loved the exploration of family and friendship.

          What book are you glad you tried?

          04 May 2018

          Guestpost & Excerpt: The Girl in the Broken Mirror by Savita Kalhan

          Today I have the pleasure of inviting Savita Kalhan to my blog to talk a little about a book and share a chapter from the beginning.

          I read The Girl In The Broken Mirror in a day. It is hard hitting, deals with sensitive topics in a wonderful way, and doesn't shy from darkness. It left me ugly-crying, and was heart-breaking and amazing all at once.

          ***

          Thank you so much for inviting me here today and for being part of the amazing fourteen stop blog tour! There’s been so much love for The Girl in the Broken Mirror since it was published by Troika Books a few days ago – I’m still doing my happy dance!

          This is a special extract, with a little extra detail, from The Girl in the Broken Mirror just before Jay has to move into No.42 with her super-strict relatives, a move she is dreading. It’s her last evening of freedom, the last time she’ll probably be allowed to go out with her best friends Chloe, and Matt – who has suddenly become something more than just her best friend... complicated doesn’t even begin to describe how Jay feels about her life right now.

          She stuffed the remaining books into a box, sealed it up and labelled it: Jay’s Books. 
          Matt was supposed to call round for her at four, but he was late, as usual, and they ended up running all the way to the bus stop. 
          “You – did that – on purpose,” she said as they ran. “So we don’t – have to sit with them – in the cinema!” 
          He grinned wolfishly at her. “I just hope Alex and Chloe haven’t already got us tickets!” But they had – so, the four of them sat together for the new James Bond film after all.
          Jay and Chloe were in the middle with Matt and Alex on either side of them. Alex kept making inane comments until someone in the row behind them told him to shut up. Grinning, he turned around and hissed shhhh loudly at him before turning back and putting his arm round Chloe. 
          “What an idiot,” Matt muttered under his breath. 
          Jay had a feeling he wasn’t talking about the guy who’d told Alex to shut up. 
          Afterwards, they wandered up to Nandos. The queue was four deep, but it was still early, and they quickly got a table. 
          “So, you two an item now, then?” Alex asked, after they’d ordered their chicken wings and sat down with their drinks. 
          “No,” Jay said , laughing it off. She took a sip of lemonade to hide her embarrassment. She could feel Matt’s eyes on her, and her cheeks reddening. “We’re just mates.” She didn’t dare look sideways to see Matt’s expression. 
          Alex wasn’t exactly the most tactful guy in the world, she thought, wondering if Chloe had put him up to it. When Chloe winked at her, Jay had her answer. 
          It got even more complicated when Matt gave her hand a squeeze under the table – then he kept hold of it, and Jay’s heart did a funny skip. Was this was what she had wanted all along but had been too afraid to admit? 
          She prised her hand out of his, but from the way he was looking at her, she knew he’d felt it too. That – tingle. Despite her head telling her she’d done the right thing, Jay wished she’d left her hand where it was. 
          When the food arrived, Matt went off to get the sauces – Extra Hot piri piri sauce for him, Hot for her and Lemon & Herb for Chloe and Alex. 
          “For someone who thinks they’re hard, you should be having the extra hot,” Matt said to Alex. Only Jay noticed the mischievous twinkle in his eye. “Dare you,” he said, holding out the bottle. 
          “Nah, the heat doesn’t bother me. I like the taste of the lemon and herb.” 
          “You sure the heat doesn’t bother you?” Matt asked. 
          Alex snatched the bottle from him and poured the sauce liberally over his wings and chips. As he dug into the food, sweat began to pour down his forehead, his face getting redder and redder with each mouthful. Matt and Jay exchanged a look, which they tried to conceal, but in the end they were all laughing openly – including Alex, who spent the rest of the meal refilling his Coke, but somehow managed to finish his plate. They cheered and hooted as the last mouthful went down. 
          Chloe made the mistake of kissing him and ended up with the Extra Hot chilli sauce on her lips. 
          “OMG!” she cried, her eyes watering. “Can’t believe you just ate all that!” 
          After they’d parted ways with Chloe and Alex, Matt walked her home, just as he always did. 
          “I don’t get what Chloe sees in him,” Matt began. “Yeah he’s captain of the first team. Big deal – she doesn’t even like football.” 
          “I know. Maybe he makes her laugh.” She’d asked Chloe once, and all Chloe had said was that he was safe, which Jay hadn’t really understood. “Matt...” 
          “Jay, I know what you’re going to say.” 
          “You do?” Jay didn’t even know herself yet how she was going to phrase it. 
          “Yes, I do. You’re going to say something like: we’re best mates and this – us thing that’s happening isn’t a good idea. Plus you’re moving into Fort Knox, so it’s doubly not a good idea. Am I right?” 
          Jay shrugged. “Yes, it was going to go something like that.” 
          “Well, you’re wrong.” 
          “Matt, just listen for a minute.” 
          He waited for her to continue, his expression suddenly more serious than Jay had ever seen it. “You know it’s more complicated than that,” she said quietly. “We’ll always be best mates, but you could go out with someone else – someone without all these problems and complications.” 
          “Remember the first day of school?” 
          “Yes.” 
          “You walked into the classroom and the teacher kept mispronouncing your name until you told her to just call you Jay.” 
          Jay smiled. 
          “And you refused to speak to me for ages.” 
          “I didn’t speak to anyone for ages. At least I wasn’t rude to you.” 
          Matt cleared his throat noisily. “So you don’t remember telling me to shove it – more than once?” 
          “Yes, okay, I did, and I’m sorry, but you were...” 
          “I was – what?” 
          “Being pushy!” 
          “Being friendly to the new girl, you mean.” 
          “All the girls in the class fancied you. I had enough problems without having to deal with them about hogging all your attention too.” 
          “But that’s just what you’re like.” 
          “What? I hog all your attention?” 
          He gave her a look. “No. You’re always doing stuff because you don’t like upsetting other people. Also, you’re honest, but in a good way. Like when Chloe dyed her hair and it went wrong. You didn’t say it looked nice, like all her other friends did. You said it would look better in a different shade of blonde, but what looked best was her natural colour.” 
          Matt was more observant than she’d realised. 
          “But that time when you read out that essay in English, I just thought, wow. She’s different, and she’s not afraid to be herself.” 
          Jay looked at him suspiciously. “What essay?” 
          “You know, the one on Thomas Hardy’s heroines. Half the class didn’t have a clue what you were on about. But I got it.” 
          “Yeah, well, I didn’t really care what anyone thought of me.” 
          He took her hand and they started walking again. “You’re not like the others. You’re real. And you’re pretty cute.” 
          Slapping his arm, Jay burst out laughing. 
          “Ouch!” he said, rubbing it in mock pain. “Remind me never to give you compliments! If you don’t like using the word boyfriend, that’s okay. We’ll just be best mates. Who hold hands...” 
          They’d reached her front door. 
          “See you tomorrow, Matt.” 
          “Yeah. We said ten, didn’t we?” 
          “That’ll mean half past for you then!” 
          “I’m not always that late,” he objected. “Okay, maybe I am. But I won’t be tomorrow! See ya.” 
          She watched him walk away, imagining how it would feel to have his lips pressed against hers. She’d never kissed a boy. She ran up the stairs with an unfamiliar warmth inside her, marvelling at how wonderful it felt, just thinking about it.

          I hope your readers enjoyed the extract! They can find out more about me by heading to my website www.savitakalhan.com. I’m happy to answer any questions about the extract, or about me or about The Girl in the Broken Mirror – your readers can leave me a question in the comments section or tweet me @savitakalhan.

          Thanks again for having me here - I’ve really enjoyed it, and I hope everyone loves the book!

          The Girl in the Broken Mirror by Savita KalhanAdd to Goodreads


          Jay's creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with 'they lived happily ever after'. But the way her life is panning out she's not sure it will ever reach that stage.

          A powerful moving gripping story which explores themes of family, loyalty and culture clash but is ultimately about hope and understanding.

          Book Beginnings #61

          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 A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard.
          A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
          Millie Gerdavey cheated on her boyfriend again.
          I'm starting to tackle my YALC TBR and first up is A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. This has been on my TBR since it was announced because I loved the author's debut Beautiful Broken Things.

          I feel like this is a great first line, the confession of a secret, some juicy gossip.
          What happened when you got to secondary school? 
          Everything went to shit.
          I am only just starting now, so I'm quite excited to see where it goes, especially with that accurate account of high school.

          What are you reading this week?

          01 May 2018

          Top Ten Tuesday #122

          Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

          Top Ten Tuesday
          This week is Top Ten 
          Books On My YALC Reading List
          This week was supposed to be Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early but much as I love that theme - and I'll definitely come back to it - I need to get my YALC reading sorted. There's less than 100 days to go eek! Also a few of these I would have slayed a lion to read, but the NetGalley gods have blessed me.
          1. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
          2. A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood
          3. Almost Love by Louise O'Neill
          4. Eve of Man by Giovanna Fletcher and Tom Fletcher
          5. I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
          6. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
          7. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (reread)
          8. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green
          9. The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles
          10. White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

          Are you going to YALC? What's on your reading list?