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25 September 2015

Book Beginnings #7

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.

I am currently reading Wickham Hall  - Part Three: Sparks Fly by Cathy Bramley.
The tiny cottage I shared with my mum was a mere fifteen-minute walk from Wickham Hall, along a narrow side street at the far end of the village. But this afternoon it felt like the longest journey I'd ever made, every step taking me nearer to the truth about my father but further from Wickham Hall and further still from Ben and his mischievous brown eyes and cheeky smile.

I've had this pre-ordered for a long time, and it picks up exactly where part two dropped off. I never thought I'd be a fan of serialised stories, but I'm really enjoying them recently. I quite like the wait, the excitement when it drops onto my kindle at midnight, taking time to really savour the story. And, it's working out cheaper buying the parts separately that it would be to buy the complete finished work, so bonus.

24 September 2015

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Our Little Secret by Ashelyn Drake
Becca Daniels needs a passing math grade... But what she wants is to spend more time with Toby Michaels.
The only problem is Toby is her best friend’s twin, and Tori has a very firm “no dating the brother” policy.
But Becca’s grade has hit rock bottom and she needs a tutor. It just so happens that Toby is a math genius and more than happy to help—lucky her! Working so closely with the handsome, popular Toby, Becca can’t hide her attraction, and it soon becomes obvious he feels the same way.
Becca doesn’t want to lose her best friend, but she isn’t willing to give up Toby either.
How much is Becca willing to risk to keep…
Our Little Secret?

Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: friendship, lies, love, blackmail, secrets.
This was a pretty love hate read for me. First, I judged by the cover and had set my own expectations and I was very pleasantly surprised at how the story was panning out, then I was getting horrendously frustrated with the characters, then I was loving the tension, then I was hating the lies, then I was happy with the ending... Yeah, pretty up and down.

But my frustration was a good thing, I'm pretty sure it's what the author wanted you to feel.

And there were characters to love and hate, characters who challenged your perceptions and ideals, especially around the themes of friendship and love.

Although the lies weren't my cup of tea, it wouldn't have been much of a story without them. I guess the story has a bit of a moral theme running behind it about lies and secrecy. And compromise.

Overall I enjoyed this, it was entertaining and made me smile quite a bit.


22 September 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #40

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Books On My Fall Autumn TBR.

If you were buzzing around my blog last week you would have seen my interview with Faye Bird for YA Shot. If you weren't, it's a couple of posts back and the giveaway is still open, so check it out. Why? Because my Autumn TBR is made up from a whole host of YA Shot authors. And with over 70 authors taking part, I have plenty of choice. So these are the books that are already sat on my shelf or pre-ordered.
  • Banished by Liz de Jager
  • Entangled by Kat Clarke
  • Monster by CJ Skuse
  • This is Not a Love Story by Keren David
  • Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne
  • The Novice by Taran Matharu
  • The Savages by Matt Whyman
  • Acid by Emma Pass
  • Legacy by CJ Daugherty
  • The Beloved by Alison Rattle

18 September 2015

Book Beginnings #6

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.

I am currently reading Debutantes by Cora Harrison.
The girl's face was perfectly framed by the russet beech leaves. The early spring sunlight lit creamy-whit skin, a Grecian nose, violet-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, and a curtain of shimmering black hair.

I am starting this as I type, so this is more about my expectations of what's to come rather than my experience so far. That said, the prologue is pretty intriguing and has definitely sparked my interest. This book is touted as perfect for fans of Downton, and I'm definitely a fan. I know the new series starts on Sunday, but I still need something to fill that tiny gap.
When it comes to historical fiction it can be very hit and miss. I love Elizabeth Chadwick and Elizabeth Moss/Victoria Lamb, but I can't stand Philippa Gregory. I am rather nit-picky and love the little details, and I love history, so it needs to be accurate.

17 September 2015

YA Shot Blog Tour: An Interview with Faye Bird + Giveaway

There is just over a month to go until the big event itself, and while I am insanely jealous that I can't be there myself in person (300 miles is a wee bit too far) I am only too happy to support my one true love: UKYA. 

Go and head over to the YAShot website and check it out, and keep an eye on the #YAShot hashtag on Twitter where you can find more stops on the tour and more giveaways, and even a readathon.

I have just had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Faye Bird, author of My Second Life (which I reviewed earlier this year) and now I get to share with you everything that I've learned. Definitely check out her website, she's just revealed the US cover for My Second Life and her About page is so interesting and rather revealing if you have already read My Second Life.

Anyway, onwards to the nosiness! I mean, the interview.

You used to be a literary agent for TV, can you tell us a bit about the job?

As an agent you are the champion for your client. That’s true whether you represent writers, footballers or actresses. You guide and manage the careers of people with a talent that you recognize, admire and want to nurture. It’s a very personal relationship; some weeks you might speak every day (you have to get on well with your clients!) but it’s also a business relationship because essentially your job is to negotiate the best deal for your client. And that means protecting the rights in their scripts and formats and ensuring that they are getting paid properly for their work. You are essentially a friend, a manager, a lawyer and a deal maker. It’s quite a combination!

Your website says that you were always writing something, did you find that your job changed how you wrote?

No, I don’t think the job changed the way I wrote. However I would say that when I came to writing the experience of being an agent definitely helped me think about what I write, and gave me a greater foundation for the trials and tribulations of being a writer than I might otherwise have had. It’s made me less sensitive about rejection, more pragmatic about taking notes and massively appreciative of my own agent - to name just three things!

Do you plan what you write or just go with the flow?

I don’t really plan. Or perhaps I should say I’m learning to plan more! With My Second Life I just wrote, and I kept on writing until I got to the end. I guess the only plan I had in my head with that story, if you can call it a plan, was that there were certain key scenes that were in my head that I was always knowingly writing towards. This way of writing is not one I’d recommend. It is hugely inefficient. As a result I wrote many drafts before I got to the one that worked. So with my next book I have planned a good deal more, and what I’ve come to realise is that I like a plan, but I can’t plan too much. I like to know where I’m heading but I also need to leave room for my imagination to take hold, as this is what allows the story to change and grow as I write. And of course the excitement in writing a first draft is exactly in those spaces where you begin to see where the story can take you.

Where do you write?

I have two days a week that I dedicate to writing, and I go to the reading rooms at The British Library on at least one of those days. It’s an amazing space, and I love being in a room with other people, and lots of books, with lots of thinking going on in the quiet. There’s something quite extraordinary about it. And I can have my head down there writing for hours that somehow feel like minutes. It’s like magic! At home there are just too many distractions.

My Second Life is pretty dark - was that something you set out to write or is it just where the plot took you?

I always knew it would be a dark story. I was interested in writing about life and death – and specifically about how we live our lives based on what we think, believe or understand about death – and I guess by definition, it was bound to touch on some darkness. I didn’t set out to write a dark book, not at all, but I suspect in lots of ways the book reflects something of how I see life; that there is light and shade and you cannot really have one without the other. And certainly for Ana, at the end of the book, there is absolutely a sense of light despite all the shade that has come before.

What do you believe happens when you die?

I don’t know. And I’m sure this is why I have loved writing about it in the way that I have. What happens to us after we die is, for me, the ultimate unanswerable question, and in a story it can also make for the ultimate drama. Living in the life we live right now is all that we know of life. So the idea that we could live again, that we could experience all of life’s brilliance as well as its sadness, in another different life – feel the resonances of our previous lives in this one – is an idea that I love. And of course it’s not that far away from what we do as readers when we step inside the world of a book. Being a reader is perhaps the closest we can get to living another life in this one. Perhaps that’s also why the idea intrigued me as a writer.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

My Second Life is being published in the US on 19 January 2016, which I’m obviously completely over the moon about. And in the meantime I’m hard at work on my second book, which is a completely new story entitled WHAT I COULDN’T TELL YOU. It will be published in June next year, so watch this space!

Are you a big reader yourself? What's your favourite book?

I love reading, of course I do, reading and writing go entirely hand in hand. Reading books, the joy of them, is what made me want to write in the first place. But I have to admit that my reading tends to slow down when I’m also writing. Whilst I’ve been working on WHAT I COULDN’T TELL YOU I’ve found it hard to read almost anything at all. It’s like my head is too stuck in the world of my own book. So I really can’t wait to get beyond the next draft and catch up with the rising pile of books next to my bed.

I’m very bad at pinning down my favourite anything… But my favourite book this year would be between (you see!) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Infatuations by Javier Marias. In terms of YA I loved Sarah Crossan’s Apple and Rain.

If you could share afternoon tea with any fictional character, who would you choose?

Without doubt it would have to be the BFG.

On The Day

On the day, Faye Bird will be signing books and running a workshop Sitting on Both Sides of the Desk: Writing & agenting, novels & scripts where she will use her experience, both as a former agent for television scriptwriters and as a YA author, to inspire you to create your own characters and get them talking.


Two lucky winners can each win a signed copy of My Second Life by Faye Bird as well as a poster and some postcards. Lucky winners! The giveaway is open to UK residents.

16 September 2015

Review & Giveaway: Em and Em by Linda Budzinski

Em and Em by Linda BudzinskiAdd to Goodreads
The last thing sixteen-year-old Emily Slovkowski wants is to move away from her home at the Jersey shore, gorgeous surfer boyfriend Zach, and her entire identity. But that’s kind of how Witness Protection works, and Em must prepare herself for an epic do-over as she starts a new life in the Midwest.

Even as she pines for sandy beaches and the night life of the shore, the newly-named Ember O’Malley finds herself making new friends, taking photos for the high school newspaper, and thinking an awful lot about the paper’s editor, an oddly cute cowboy named Charles.

When Em stumbles upon a shady beneath-the-bleachers exchange between one of the school’s football coaches and a student, she refuses to get involved. The last thing she needs is to be witness to another crime or call attention to herself. Besides, she finally has some real friends – well, real except for the fact that they don’t know a single thing about her – and she prefers to keep it that way until the trial.

But as her day in court approaches, Em begins piecing together what she saw that day beneath the bleachers. And, as her own past secrets start to catch up with her, Em needs to figure out who she really is – Em or Em.

Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Photography, friendship family, secrets, crime.

I really enjoyed this!

When I started reading I'm not sure what I was expecting - I'm terrible for not reading blurbs and judging by cover/title/author when picking what to read.

And I was very pleasantly surprised.

I loved the way that the story hinted at what had happened but never actually revealed it up until the end, even if it did leave me pretty frustrated at times. That said, I did like the two stories of Em and Em separately.

And I loved the photography elements - I studied photography myself at school, college and a year at uni so I appreciated that she didn't just point and click, that she wasn't shutter-happy. I love reading about artistic processes. I also loved how she badgered her younger sister into modelling for her, a struggle I know only too well! That familiarity with the situations really made me like Em a lot more.

I don't want to give away the plot, but her boyfriend was pretty cowardly. It's certainly something that I'd never forgive and it made me quite angry.

Em & Charles forever <3


15 September 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #39

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list. 
This week is Top Ten Best UKYA Books.
Being 25 doesn't stop me from reading and loving UKYA.
Out of all of the books I have ever read, these are the ones that have stayed with me the longest, that have haunted me most vividly. Not all of these books are even rated 5* - I'm sure I only gave one a two - but that hasn't lessened the impact. If you've been browsing my blog for a while you are about to see some very familiar titles and authors, but I can't help it. These books are all amazing.
  • Lucas by Kevin Brooks
    This is one of my all time favourite books and I have lost count of the amount of times I have read it. Even the first page has me bubbling.
  • Junk by Melvin Burgess
    This is often hailed as one of the first YA books and it is immensely gritty and dark and really makes you think.
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
    Every time I walk anywhere near water on a sunny yet nippy day, I think of this book. And sometimes I'll just be day dreaming away and think of it.
  • Darkmere by Helen Maslin
    I only came across this book a few weeks ago, but it made one heck of an impression. I once read someone saying it was like someone gave the cast of Skins a castle, and that is exactly what this is.
  • Pirates by Celia Rees
    I just have to smell the sea to think of this book. Or see a barrel. Or just let my thoughts wander to pirates. This book is every bit as bloodthirsty and violent as the title entails, but also has this incredible underlying story about family and love and friendship.
  • The Blemished by Sarah Dalton
    This is the only indie to have made it on to my list and it is breath-taking. The feminist undertones to the story really take it to the next level.
  • My Second Life by Faye Bird
    What happens when you die? This book asks some serious philosophical questions about life, death, family... You name it. It's intense.
  • Slated by Teri Terry
    The possibilities explored in the pages of this book are terrifying. This book is what YA should be and it's what dystopian should be. It's absolutely incredible and the series just got better with each book.
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale
    I don't think that I have ever laughed as hard as I did when I read this. In one sitting. Staying up until three. Keeping my OH awake because I was reading the facts aloud. And laughing. Loudly.
  • Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann
    I stumbled upon this book by accident in high school and I've read it (and the second) probably about twice a year since then. It is my go to book when I'm in a slump or need something for a summer's day or an autumn evening.