31 March 2018

Blog Tour: Extract: The Fear by CL Taylor

The Fear is absolutely excellent, a twisting thriller which is quiet different (in the best of ways) from what I have come to expect from the author. I could not put it down and read it in a single sitting.

The Fear by CL TaylorAdd to Goodreads
Lou Smith is used to being headline news as, aged seventeen, she ran away with her 37-year-old teacher, Mike, during a short-lived affair.

Now 32, Lou’s life is in tatters – and she resolves to return home to confront Mike for the damage he has caused. But she soon finds that Mike is unchanged, and is now grooming a young 15-year-old girl called Chloe.

Determined to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Lou decides to take matters into her own hands. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as she tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that Lou could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.


I'm thrilled to be able to share an extract from The Fear by CL Taylor. This is from pretty early on in the book and gives a glimpse into the character of Wendy.

Wendy stiffens as two young men glance her way as they walk into the café. Her preferred table, a single-seater in the window, was occupied when she came in and she had no choice but to take a four-seater in the corner. It’s a quarter past one and the café is filling up. Sooner or later someone’s going to ask if they can share her table. What if Louise Wandsworth herself took one of the seats opposite her? Wendy’s stomach clenches with a mixture of fear and excitement.
But there’s no sign of her. When Lou came into the café yesterday just after one, she went straight up to the counter and ordered a black coffee, a chicken roll and a tub of fruit salad. Wendy watched discreetly from behind her paperwork as Lou frowned over her mobile phone and picked at her food. 
It was the first time she’d seen Lou up close and she was dumbstruck. It reminded her of the evening she’d been having drinks in the Royal Malvern hotel with Angela when Michael Ball had walked in. Wendy had raised a hand, waved and flashed him a smile. Michael Ball didn’t even acknowledge her. Instead his gaze swivelled across the room, to a large, raucous group of lovies by the bar. Wendy was mortified. Angela told her that she wasn’t the first person to mistake a celebrity for a friend but Wendy insisted they leave immediately. It had been the same when she’d first seen Lou – the surprise and the hollowing in her stomach – only that time she’d managed to grip the table rather than thrusting her arm into the air.

30 March 2018

Bank Holiday Book Tag

I thought I'd have some fun this super long bank holiday weekend and do a book tag. Feel free to grab it if you're not tagged, just link back to Tea Party Princess. Huge thanks to Aoife at Pretty Purple Polka Dots who helped me iron out the kinks ❤


So what is a typical bank holiday like? Read on.

Have a lie in. Which book could you lounge in bed with all morning?
Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett is so decadent and filled with lush descriptions that I could definitely lounge about all morning reading it.

Oh my goodness, it's actually sunny outside! A book that makes you feel optimistic.
This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton. It just feels so uplifting, especially with Amelie's contagious passion.

Spend some time outdoors. A book that reminds you of nature.
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young has a big focus on the nature that surrounds the characters and it's so vividly described that I was there and I picture the turning season perfectly.

Make some punch. A book that you find difficult to classify into one genre.
Waiting for Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill is so much more than just a funny contemporary YA. It easily holds a piece of my heart but I have it on about ten different shelves on Goodreads.

Pass some food around. A book you want to share with everyone.
Pirates by Celia Rees, because it's kick-ass girl power pirates that isn't afraid of the grim reality of piratical life.

Light the BBQ. A book that took a while to get going.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao did take a wee while to get going, but once I was about 15% in I was hooked and no way was I putting it down.

Failed BBQ. A book that ultimately disappointed you.
To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. I was expecting so much, but the vague and confusing descriptions really let me down.

It's raining. Of course. A book to curl up with when it's raining outside.
Clean by Juno Dawson. It's just... Wow. WOW. Perfect for curling up with and seeing the world through someone else's eyes.

Let's just eat the chocolate. A book that's super sweet.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is just so freaking sweet at heart. It fills me with warm fuzzies.

28 March 2018

Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

It took a while to finalise my book review for Clean by Juno Dawson. At the end of last year I read a sample and fell in love with it. Then I was lucky enough to be granted access on NetGalley to the full title. And wow. Clean is A Book, it's Special. And it blew my mind.

Clean by Juno DawsonAdd to Goodreads
A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

'I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.'

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ... 

It's a dirty business getting clean ...

Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page.


Source: NetGalley Request

A note before my review
This book requires so many trigger warnings that a list of them would be longer than my review. And I'm not just saying that. Think carefully before picking up Clean, don't be afraid to put it down and take some time, leave it altogether if you need to. It's about a myriad of addicts and their issues and their treatment.

5 Words: Privilege, family, friendship, life, change.

5 More Words: Clean, addiction, strength, abuse, toxicity.

Clean is dirty privilege and a messed up cast, an ugly story brought to life with beautiful writing. Clean is glorious.

I knew from the very beginning that I would like this book. It is as challenging to read as it is compelling. It hits so many hard topics right at the core, but works through them, exploring the good and the bad. I could not put it down.

Lexi is a fantastic protagonist. She changes and grows, and her journey is incredible. She is no-nonsense and sharp, and I think I regarded her with more than a little awe by the end. She is entangled in so many toxic relationships (my catnip) and bad situations. I love her determination; not to change, to change. I love her conviction in herself; not having a problem, having a problem. Once she is sure, she is sure, and it takes a heck of a lot to challenge that.

This book is luxurious. Lexi lives a life of privilege, Clarity is an expensive and exclusive treatment facility. It's like Gossip Girl meets Skins meets Junk, complete with fashion, pop culture, drama, and basic bitches.

The story is split into the recovery steps from the Clarity program, and they very cleverly add to the story and make it all the more powerful.

As I read the final pages, all at once I wanted more and I wanted it to end. The story circles back in on itself as you read in the most wonderful ways, and I loved the choppy narrative and the slow reveal of past events.

"How stylishly broken we all are."


27 March 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #119

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 That Take Place In Another Country
I read a lot of UKYA so most of the books I read are set in the UK unless they're fantasy. So honestly? This was far harder than I thought it'd be. And oh, would you look at that. They're mostly historical and fantasy. Whoopsy.
  1. Below Zero by Dan Smith - Antarctic
  2. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton - Cuba
  3. Fir by Sharon Gosling - Sweden
  4. The Prophecy by Lily Blake - France
  5. The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín - Ireland
  6. One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton - Italy
  7. The Venetian Contract by Marina Fiorato - Italy
  8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Czech Republic
  9. Almost Grace by Rosie Rowell - South Africa
  10. The Glass Demon by Helen Grant - Germany
And I think a special mention has to go to Terry Pratchett's Discworld, because I think it's more real that the world I actually inhabit.

Where have you traveled in the pages of a book?


26 March 2018

Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young is a book I was excited about before reading. It's still not out for another month but I couldn't wait any longer to share my thoughts and hopefully convince you to pre-order. If you pre-order you also get some Preoder Gifts so you can bet I was right on that. It has not been picked up by a UK publisher yet (boo!) but Book Depository ships for free.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne YoungAdd to Goodreads
OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield - her brother, fighting with the enemy - the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.


Source: NetGalley | Pre-Order

5 Words: Honor, family, friendship, war, unite. 

This book was everything I never knew I needed. Actually, no. It was more than I thought I could ever dream of in a book.

Sky In The Deep was absolutely perfect for me. 

Normally I'm not a fan of action scenes or gore. When you're dealing with Viking-inspired warriors this is something you can't really escape. But this time? I was gripped by the fighting scenes, by the brutality and passion driving them forward. I even looked forward to reading them.

Eelyn is amazing. She is perhaps on of my most favourite fictional characters EVER. I loved how resolute and stubborn she was, her convictions come through on every page. She is a kick ass warrior, she knows herself, and she allows herself to change. I loved every second I spent by her side on the page.

This book gave me goosbumps. It hooked me right from the start, had me reading as I ate and walked to work, and even sneakily under the desk at work. I absolutely could not put it down. The writing is as breath-taking as the setting, as chilling as the encroaching winter. The details are exquisite. I could feel the cold wind, the snow on my feet, sticky blood drying on my skin. I could smell the food and the smoke and the iron tang of blood. My heart soared with Eelyn's, plummeted back down, raced with the adrenaline of battle. I could feel her pain (and boy did it hurt).

I loved the exploration of family, friendship, and tolerance. How the Aska and the Riki are the fiercest of enemies, yet so similar. It called to the Hufflepuff in me.

The ending tied everything up nicely, and it was so refreshing to know that it can be left as a standalone, despite how much I want to read more about Eelyn.

This book is perfect. Absolutely amazing. I have a finished copy pre-ordered, and I will likely read everything this author publishes in future because this was so incredible.

Will you be reading?



21 March 2018

Blog Tour: Sunshine & Secrets by Daisy James

Today I have invited author Daisy James to my blog to talk a little bit about Sunshine & Secrets and a lot about food. There's even a delicious and deceptively easy chilli chocolate brownie recipe to follow.

Sunshine & Secrets (The Paradise Cookery School #1) by Daisy JamesAdd to Goodreads
When newly heartbroken, michelin-starred chef Millie Harper is offered a job overseeing the setup of The Paradise Cookery School she jumps at the opportunity. Leaving London and her memories of heartbreak behind she hops on a plane to the hilltop cocoa plantation in St Lucia.

But this beautiful island break might be more work than she’d expected….  With only two weeks to have the kitchen installed, cocoa pods going missing from the plantation and the notoriously relaxed island workmen to contend with, she’s going to need some help. Gruff but charming estate manager Zach Baxter, is only too happy to offer his opinions. As the two clash heads can they remain focussed on the job in hand and get the cookery school finished in time?

Pack your bags and jump right into the sun and secrets of The Paradise Cookery School. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Kat French.I am delighted to have


Daisy James, author of Sunshine & Secrets, to my blog today to talk a bit about her latest book, delicious food, and a tempting chocolatey recipe. Yum.

Caribbean Cuisine by Daisy James

The Paradise Cookery School - Sunshine & Secrets is set on the spectacular Caribbean island of St Lucia. The story centres on Millie Harper as she attempts to oversee the renovations of a dilapidated villa situated on a disused cocoa plantation, high on the hillside overlooking the town of Soufrière in the south of the island, before a group of discerning foodies descend for a week’s tutorial.

Not only is Millie in charge of making sure the laid-back builders install the kitchen sink in the right place and the precious Italian marble units don’t get cracked, she is also responsible, along with her friend and Caribbean chef Ella Johnson, for triple-testing every recipe that will feature on the course which turns out to be a massive undertaking.

In order to make sure the story was as authentic as possible, I did a great deal of research into the food of St Lucia. Caribbean cuisine is a blend of African, European, Indian, Arab and Chinese influences, a real melting pot of flavours, textures and aromas. For the savoury dishes there is a heavy emphasis on spicy jerk flavours and marinades using what is know as the Holy Trinity of Ingredients – Scotch Bonnet peppers, spring onions and fresh thyme. Desserts are varied; from myriad tropical fruits such as mangoes, passionfruit, guava, breadfruit and sapodilla, to baked goods such as Caribbean rum cake or truffle pie, not to mention chocolate and coconut cookies.

As the Paradise Cookery School is situated on a cocoa plantation that the owner, Claudia Croft, hopes one day to bring back to life, many of the recipes featured in Sunshine & Secrets contain chocolate or cocoa. When I was researching the recipes for Millie and Ella to showcase to their students, I set about baking my own chocolate-inspired creations. My family were overjoyed. The kitchen became infused with delicious aromas of chocolate brownies – which to everyone’s surprise revealed a generous sprinkle of chilli which goes really well with chocolate. I baked chocolate cheesecakes, chocolate cookies, chocolate cupcakes, we even had grilled salmon in a chocolate and ginger sauce.

Here’s my recipes for chilli chocolate brownies. You can add as much or as little chilli as you like, depending on your preference, but we like them to have a bit of a kick.

The Paradise Cookery School’s Chilli Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

125g butter
275g caster sugar
2 eggs
50g self-raising flour
25g plain flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
100g of plain chocolate
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
Half teaspoon of vanilla essence

Method

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water.

Put the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and chilli powder into another bowl and beat until fluffy.

Break the eggs into a small bowl, beat then add a little at a time to the buttery mixture.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and beat well, then add the melted chocolate.

Spoon the mixture into a lined tin (20cm square) and bake for 35 minues at 180C of Gas Mark 4. They are ready when a crust has formed on the top.

Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.

Delicious!

Giveaway


Sunshine & Secrets by Daisy James Blog Tour Banner

20 March 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #118

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 Spring TBR
I seriously suck at sticking to a TBR, but I figure I've got three months to make it happen so maybe this time I'll actually manage them. Ha.
  1. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
  2. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
  3. Skylarks by Karen Gregory
  4. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
  5. Spark by Alice Broadway
  6. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green
  7. State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
  8. Blood and Sand by CV Wyck
  9. Savage Island by Bryony Pearce
  10. The Radical Element by Jessica Spotswood
What's on your Spring TBR?

19 March 2018

Q&A with Teri Terry

Teri Terry is one of my all time favourite authors so when I heard she was going to be taking part in University of Central Lancashire BA in Publishing's Northern Young Adult Literature Festival I squealed and practically begged to interview her. Then proceeded to have a fan-girl induced brain blank and take ages to come up with questions.

Interviewing your faves is HARD.

Q&A with Teri Terry

Can you describe the Dark Matter series in five words?
No.
Well, OK; I’ll try... Do hyphenated words count as one or two?

Chilling, disturbing, thought-provoking, ultimately hopeful

Your books always feature strong characters who break the mold - what inspires you to write them?
Characters with many layers interest me the most. No one is really all good or all evil; it’s the things the good ones do wrong and the bad ones do right that make them interesting.

Dark Matter takes us on a fraught tour around the North of the UK - where is your favorite place up North?
I did meet my husband-to-be in Sedburgh, so that’s got to be on the list. I also love York, and have good friends in Newcastle and near Lincoln. The Isle of Skye and Edinburgh and Stirling and the Lake of Menteith and SO MANY lochs in Scotland are on my list also. There’s nothing I like better than writing by water.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
Xander. Can he really be all the things he is and people still find him so... Irresistible? I’m still curious about him.

Do you think that you would be able to survive the pandemic? Would you be immune or a survivor (or would you die)?
Odds are I’d die. On the other hand, I’ve always had an affinity for cats... (this will make more sense after you read Evolution, the third book in the trilogy)

Are you a planner or a pantser?
Hmmm... 82% pantser – 18% planner. Ish.

What is your favourite thing about writing?
Making things up in my pyjamas! With a cup of tea, under a blanket, with my puppy next to me occasionally attacking my laptop.

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
I’d love to tell you, but it’s top secret! Let’s just say it’s got tragedy, political intrigue, and characters that you may want to shout at as you read...

Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it's free!

Terri Terry will be in the Getting into Publishing panel with Danny Weston and Anna Day, talking about how they got published, their inspirations and themes and issues in current publishing. These authors, and others, will be signing books after the panel.

16 March 2018

Book Beginnings #59

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 To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.
I have a heart for every year I've been alive.
To Kill A Kingdom is a pretty dark re-imagining of The Little Mermaid - which, let's be honest, is dark AF to begin with. And it starts off pretty gruesomely, with Lira examining the hearts she has stolen. I love it.

Also can we take a look at that gorgeous cover? I've spent a ridiculous amount of time just staring at the cover instead of reading, gazing at the beautiful foiled typography.
My father told me to stop living inside fairy tales, but maybe that's exactly what I need to do.
This part of the book isn't about the character you'd expect.

I actually found this small part of the book a little frustrating, as the realisation the character came to had been pretty obvious to me since the beginning of the chapter but it took him until the end to work it out. Still, it didn't really detract from my enjoyment, and this is only page 56 so I still have a long way to go.

What are you reading this week?

15 March 2018

Q&A with Alwyn Hamilton

Alwyn Hamilton is the bestselling author of the Rebel of the Sands trilogy and an all round wonderful person (I know this from first hand experience). So when I heard she was going to be taking part in University of Central Lancashire BA in Publishing's Northern Young Adult Literature Festival I jumped at the opportunity to ask her some questions.

Q&A with Alwyn Hamilton

Can you describe the Rebel of the Sands series in five words?
Wild West Meets Arabian Nights.

What was your favourite book to write?
I loved writing TRAITOR TO THE THRONE. I had so many exciting ideas for it that had been brewing through the whole long process of writing REBEL so I was very glad to get those on the page. And also because it was my first time writing a book to deadline and I felt very accomplished doing it.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
Shazad and Sam would definitely be my top picks.

Do you think you could survive in the world you created? Who would you want by your side?
One time, when I had the flu on tour, I struggled to walk across the airport. It was about 500 meters. So I definitely don't think I could survive walking across a whole desert like Amani did! But If I had to I would want Shazad by my side. She'd keep me going.  

Are you a planner or a pantser?
I'm a daydreamer. I daydream the pillars of the plot that I'd most like to write and then figure out how they should all link together, so it is all mostly in my head when I start writing. 

What is your favourite thing about writing?
The "click" moments. The moments when something that was evading your grasp, a character trait, a plot twist, whatever it might be, clicks into place, and suddenly everything is flowing. 

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working a new YA Fantasy Duology. And for now that's all I can say ;-)

Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it's free!

Alwyn Hamilton will be talking about the epic conclusion to her hugely popular Rebel of the Sands story: Hero at the Fall. She’ll be around before and after for signing sessions.

13 March 2018

Making Tea with Children of Blood and Bone

My Maji clan is Tider, which means I have the ability to manipulate water and ice. At first I was a little confused because I didn't think that water is an element I have much affinity with. Then I spent some time thinking about it and it made sense.
You’re a Tider, the maji of water. Tenacious, warm-hearted, and creative, you have the power to manipulate water in all of its forms.

As a Tider, you’re a natural born leader. Though you can be stubborn at times, your persistence allows you to achieve anything you put your mind to.
When life gives you water, make tea.

Custom Tea Blends for Children of Blood and Bone

If you haven't already read Children of Blood and Bone, get on it. It's incredible. And if you get the Waterstones Exclusive Edition it even comes with red sprayed edges which are exactly as gorgeous as you'd imagine.

I reviewed it in 5 Words: Power, magic, family, loyalty, faith.

But reading this book is truly a journey. Tomi Adeyemi's writing is such that I was drawn into the world. I was there. I could see and smell and feel. So I blended up some tea to match some of the most vivid locations.

Amari in the Royal Palace
A tea blend based on Amari from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • First Flush Darjeeling
  • Pink Rose Petals
Three parts First Flush Darjeeling, one part Pink Rose Petals. 

Brewing Time: 2 - 4 minutes

This tea is subtle and light and expensive. I wanted to capture the luxury of the palace, the expensive tastes of the royal family. Use just under boiling water, and make sure not to leave it brewing for too long as first flush can turn bitter quite quickly.

At Home in Elorin
A tea blend based on Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Second Flush Assam
  • Cocoa Nibs
Two parts Second Flush Assam, one part Cocoa Nibs. 

Brewing Time: 3 - 5 minutes

This tea feels like home. It's strong and smoky and slightly sweet to drink, and it smells like treacle. It's comforting and familiar, something that I had wanted to capture when I was blending it. It's malty and rich and the cocoa adds extra warmth.

This blend would lend itself well to a tea latte, just brew a little stronger and use an equal quantity of hot frothy milk.

In the Dreamscape
A tea blend based on Inan from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
One part of each.

Brewing Time: 2 - 5 minutes

This tea is not subtle, but it is relaxing. The scent is super strong and hides the lightness of flavour, and I like how this reflects the turmoil of the characters in the dreamscape when they are trying to figure each other out and are projecting misleading personas.

This can be brewed multiple times, lengthen the brewing time by a minute each time. Use just under boiling water. Best of all it's caffeine free so actually pretty perfect for bedtime when you're headed into dreamland yourself.

The Temple at Chȃndomblé
A tea blend based on Chȃndomblé from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Jasmine Dragon Pearl
One part of each.

Brewing Time: 2 - 3 minutes

I wanted something that was simple yet special for the temple. I hope this tea light, fresh tea reflects the place itself rather than the horrors that unfolded there, representing new beginnings rather than brutal endings.

Do not use boiling water, either stop it before it boils or let it rest for around 5 minutes before pouring. As expensive as dragon pearl is, it can be re-infused multiple times, and the flavour will change each time, becoming more floral as the green tea unfurls from around the jasmine blossom.



Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi coverAdd to Goodreads button
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 



Now We Rise blog tour

Top Ten Tuesday #117

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 That Surprised Me (in a good way)

I love it when I'm surprised by a book, when it exceeds my expectations. I am a habitual non-reader of blurbs so I am often surprised when a cover or hype doesn't give it all away.
  1. Below Zero by Dan Smith
    With this being Middle Grade, I absolutely did not expect to be so freaked out by this book.
  2. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
    Yeah, after the hype I was expecting just another gay story. But this book is so much more than that, and I love it.
  3. Gilded Cage by Vic James
    I'd seen the author talking about it in a #SundayYA chat and I knew I had to have it, what I didn't expect was to find a new all time favourite book. Yes, I have already read it five times. And listened to the audio.
  4. Fir by Sharon Gosling
    This book is so creepy. All of the creepiness. This book is truly scary. The moment it starts snowing I'm itching to pick it up again even though I know it means I won't want to go outside.
  5. Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
    This. Book. It's one that surprised me so much I can't shut up about it. When Jo at My Attic Library let me lose on her blog you can bet that yes, I talked about this book. 
  6. All The Good Things by  Clare Fisher
    This wee book is heartbreaking and challenging and even the voice of the book surprised me. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I read was beautiful.
  7. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
    I was excited by this book from the moment I first saw it, but this shouty take down of the patriarchy made my heart sing.
  8. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    Yes, there is so much hype for this book. And yes, the hype is real. It is so real. It may be 600 pages, but every page is awesome. I couldn't put it down.
  9. Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young
    Is it cheating that it's not out yet? This book absolutely blew my expectations out of the water and was better than I ever imagined it could be.
  10. Clean by Juno Dawson
    I mean, it's Juno Dawon, it was already going to be good. But Clean is breathtaking, even from the first pages I was hooked.

Which books have surprised you?

09 March 2018

Book Beginnings #58

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 Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Pick me. 
It's all I can do not to scream. I dig my nails into the marula opak of my staff and squeeze to keep from fidgeting. Beads of sweat drip down my back, but I can't tell if it's from the morning heat or from my heart slamming against my chest. Moon after moon I've been passed over. 
Today can't be the same.  
I have Expectations for this book. And although I'm posting this for Book Beginnings, I'm actually almost finished. And it's bloody excellent. The start is excellent and if anything it gets even better as it progresses.

Right from the first lines, I knew I was going to enjoy it. I am going through such a fantasy kick right now, and this book is like catnip. You are plunged straight into a rich world that exists, and not just for the characters. It is magnificently written, with tiny nuances that make Orïsha stand out from other fantasy worlds.

And the characters, wow the characters. I love Zélie and Amari, they are the kind of characters I want to read always - original and strong in a hundred ways.
He doesn't see that her blood stains my own hands. 
I scramble backward onto my feet, tripping over the hem of my dress. I rush up the stairwell at the corner of the main hall, my legs shaking with every step. My vision blurs as I fight to make it to my quarters, but it's all I can do to rush over to a vase. I grab onto the ceramic rim. Everything inside me comes back up.
With this being a 600-page Door Stopper of Awesome book, page 56 is riiiiight at the beginning. Everything is still being set up, and it's the first glimpse of Amari (who is my favourite, I love her, Amari forever) and her family situation.

This is a great example of how the author doesn't just tell what characters are feeling, she truly shows it. I can feel Amari's terror and horror and panic and guilt.

Honestly though, this book. Go out and get it now and be amazed.

What are you reading this week?

08 March 2018

Guest Post: Izzy O'Neill's iPod

If you haven't already read The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven then you need to rush out and buy it now. It really is excellent. Pretty much everyone I know who has read it (myself included) read it in a short, feverish sitting. It is one of those books you can't put down.

Music features a fair bit in the book, and while I'm a little sad that Cute Is What We Aim For didn't make the cut, here are the top tracks on Izzy O'Neill's iPod as provided by the author herself! Including a handy Spotify playlist so you can listen along. It's a perfect companion to the book.

The Tracklist

I love It
Icona Pop, Charlie XCX

I Don't Care
Cheryl

Sit Still, Look Pretty
Daya

Borderline
Tove Stryke

Foundations
Kate Nash

Remember When
Heathers

Alive
Sia

Dog Days Are Over
Florence + The Machine

Liability
Lorde






The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

Izzy O'Neill here! Impoverished orphan, aspiring comedian and Slut Extraordinaire, if the gossip sites are anything to go by...

Izzy never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician's son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off - but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay. It's the Exact Opposite of Okay. 

Bitingly funny and shockingly relevant, The Exact Opposite of Okay is a bold, brave and necessary read. For readers of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Doing It by Hannah Witton and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.

A hilarious, groundbreaking young adult novel for anyone who's ever called themselves a feminist... And anyone who hasn't. For fans of Louise O'Neill, Holly Bourne and Amy Schumer. 

Waterstones


Do you listen to music when you read?



06 March 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #116

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
Favorite Book Quotes.

I love picking out quotes, highlighting passages that particularly resonate with me. So I had to spend a fair while going through my Goodreads quotes and my Kindle highlights to pick these out.

Can I have all of these as art prints or cushion covers or mugs now please?

It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow streets because it is grieved by what it finds there.
Trudi Canavan, The Magicians' Guild

“For heaven’s sake,” I say, “will you please sip the tea so I don’t have to pour you another cup every five minutes?” 
“We’re facing an apocalypse,” he replies. “There is not enough tea in the world to calm me.”
Elizabeth May, The Falconer

I am so angry all the time, and so sad, and it screams inside me and never stops. Cutting is the only thing that eases me.
Zoë Marriott, Shadows on the Moon

Love changes how you see everything. It blinds you, but in a good way.
Will Hill, After the Fire

The beauty of this world is fading all too fast through the cruelty and thoughtlessness of men.

But beauty can make people forgive a thousand cruelties.
Marie Lu, Warcross

She is alone.
And oh
how brilliantly she shines.
Nikita Gill, Wild Embers

“Oh, right," I snap. "And because he's spent enough money and inserted enough friendship tokens, the offer of sex and/or marriage should just fall out anytime now?”

Men like to talk about themselves and their achievements. Nona knew that much about men even if she was little.
Mark Lawrence, Red Sister

“She does not know how to feel safe.” As I said it I knew it was true. “We will have to teach her how.”
Maria Turtschaninoff, Maresi


What is your favourite book quote?

04 March 2018

Female Heroes and Q&A with Matt Killeen

Cover for Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah--blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish--finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead.

Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He's a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can't attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe.

With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she's ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she'd ever imagined. 


Q&A with Matt Killeen

Can you describe the Orphan Monster Spy series in five words?
Probably not! My US editor calls it Mean Girls meets Inglorious Basterds… but that may not cover the series. Same with Malory Towers with Nazis which always risked being a bit flippant. Maybe: war, fascism, abuse, resistance & survival.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
Mmm, I’m not sure any of them are very personable. Sarah lives in my head and she regularly sounds off about things, usually my lack of progress on her adventures, so I don’t really need to hang out with her on a voluntary basis. I do like Klose, the nurse, although I imagine that level of righteous anger could get wearing. Sarah’s mother, in her heyday, would have been good value, I think. I like giving Sarah coffee though. I treat her very badly most of the time and she needs some light in her life.

Do you think you could have survived what Sarah did?
While Sarah and I have some things in common, she’s really very much better at stuff than I am. She plays the piano and I learned the keyboard listening to The Cure, she speaks multiple languages and I struggle to order coffee in French. When I started Orphan Monster Spy I couldn’t walk without two crutches and even now I couldn’t match her physicality. Also, I might kid myself that I’m as brave and resilient as she is, but I don’t think fast enough to have survived. Yeah, basically I’d be dead. Most people would be.

What was the most challenging part of your research for Orphan Monster Spy?
You can discover facts quite easily. Finding the fuel tank capacity of a 1920s Mercedes, should be difficult, but the internet is a wonderful thing. Finding the emotional truth behind those facts is the real challenge. That means a lot of oral histories and interviews looking for that phrase or moment that addresses the whole. My hardest moment was watching a Simon Wiesenthal feature length documentary, Echoes that Remain I think. I was away on business, in a hotel room, alone and it was so raw that it got on top of me. I sat there, sobbing, big heaving, inconsolable tears curled up in one of those stupidly big American beds.  

What was the most interesting thing that you found while you were researching?
I had always loved the symbol of the three hares, but to discover how universal it was? That blew me away. It has symbolism in Christianity, Judaism and other schools of thought. It can be found anywhere from Cornwall – where they are the Tinners’ Rabbits – to the Silk Road. There are associated rhymes in multiple languages. Truly fascinating.

Are you a planner or a pantser?
I’m a planner, cusp pantser. I have a framework, with a beginning, an end and a few pivotal events. Then I tend to write chronologically from start to finish. This lets the research and the characters – because I don’t always know what they’re going to say – change the path of the story along the way. I was romping towards the end, very pleased with myself, and a minor character walked back into the story. Then I had to deal with that and rewrite accordingly. My writer friends all howled, “KILL HIM.”

What is your favourite thing about writing?
Ha. There are many, many things that I love about writing. The supportive community, particularly in children’s literature, is awesome. That, and all those other reasons sound better than this big one: writing a novel, the first draft at least, is solitary. If it’s good, bad or indifferent, that’s entirely on you. You make that world, you make it work, you create people to live in it and decide what they do. You can listen to feedback and advice, but in the end it’s your choice. Every other creative endeavour I’ve been involved in has relied on other people or things, for better and worse – guitarists, cameramen, account executives, money, the physical laws of the universe – but writing is you. You are the entire creation. All that changes when you get published of course, with lots of super-talented people steaming in to make it better, but that core experience is your fault and you can’t blame anyone for it. Or it’s ace and you did it. 


Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on a sequel to Orphan Monster Spy right now and that’s my big focus. Same spy, different monsters. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m not short of ideas, so I’m not too scared. I am…wistful, is what Dodie Smith would have called it.

Femal Hero: General Leia Organa

No list of the women who made me is complete without my princess. Yes, she’s a princess and I get that’s a problematic trope, but this is no typical damsel in distress or Disney princess – even though, now, she literally is.

She’s a politician and a diplomat. She has authority. She’s also a resistance fighter against an overwhelming and malevolent totalitarian dictatorship. She may have been adopted into wealth and privilege, but she has made all that work for her in defence of the oppressed and vulnerable. She’s the ultimate ally.

She is captured, red-handed, by the Empire’s most dangerous individual and can only expect abuse and death. Yet she stays calm and tries to brazen it out with an aura of appalled and condescending innocence.

She is tortured for vital information – and refuses to respond to threats or invasive interrogation methods. She watches her home planet get destroyed, with millions of people murdered, as the result of a double-double cross that she must have relived over and over again in the hours that followed. Then the door of her cell opens, and she makes fun of the Stormtrooper who is presumably there to take her to her execution. That’s some woman right there.

 Yet, she’s also a woman of compassion. She comforts Luke on the apparent death of his mentor without judgement – even though she’s watched her father and her people executed just a few hours earlier. She accepts Han’s apparent betrayal as just one of those things – it’s his path, no one else can choose it for him. That’s very generous of her as his departure will inevitably cost lives.

I was five years old when I first saw Star Wars at the cinema and it was a watershed moment for me, in every conceivable way. It’s difficult to calculate how important this depiction of women was in my cognitive development. Strong, smart, opinionated, right about most things and not taking anyone’s crap. I saw that this was what women could be – should be – in sharp contrast to some of the real world events I was witness to at the time.

Her character continues in that vein for the whole trilogy. She is calm and decisive in the Rebellion’s darkest hour, willing to sacrifice herself to allow the transports to escape. She struggles a little with a sexual harassment issue, but this is resolved by the time she bluffs her way into a gangster’s den to rescue the man she loves, by playing chicken with a thermal detonator. When she fails she allows herself to be captured and humiliated in order to affect that rescue later. Then she goes to fight on the ground with her troops, a leader that won’t ask anyone to do anything that she isn’t willing to do herself. Finally, when she discovers one of her best friends is, in fact, her brother, she rolls with that as well. She doesn’t beat herself up about what she may or may not have done or felt. By the time of Episode VII, she could be allowed some vulnerability, having fought evil for more than 40 years, losing a son and a husband along the way. We’ll also forgive her the moment of racism – “get this walking carpet out of my way” – as she was under a lot of stress at the time and I suspect she regretted it shortly afterwards.

 Actress Carrie Fisher struggled with manic depression, plus various substance addictions all her life, an understandable result of being born into a famous family, becoming one of the world’s most famous women at 21 and suffering the insidious abuse that Hollywood actresses went through in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Her behaviour had been erratic and occasionally unpleasant in the past, but she had come to a place of peace, health and generosity in her final years. Those who met her then, found she embodied much of the famous princess.

Meeting Carrie Fisher felt like coming home.

In a sidenote, I misheard one of her early lines as, “the senate will not forestill for this.” For some 30 years until I saw a DVD with the subtitles on I was convinced that “forestill” meant tolerate. Apologies to those who may have had to deal with me using that word in a sentence prior to 2008. You were all very kind.

Northern Young Adult Literature Festival

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it's free!

Matt Killeen will will be taking part in the Feminism in YA panel with Katherine Webber, Annabel Pitcher,  and Lauren James, to celebrate the Centenary of the Woman’s Vote, discussing their inspirations, and the empowering characters they have created.