Sunday, April 20, 2014

Letterbox Love (#78)


Letterbox Love is a weekly feature that is hosted by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking and is a way for us to share the books that come through our letterbox, galleys and e-books (through our electronic letterbox) and any other bookish goodies that we want to tell you about.



Another two-weeker this time as I was away last weekend. And a good haul too! I am very excited to read some of these! 

For Review: 


This sounds like so much fun and a very interesting read. Its a memoir rather than a fiction book about Maya finding a 1950's 'Guide to teenage popularity' and decides to follow its suggestions to see if the 50's rules still apply. It should be interesting especially as Maya is a self-proclaimed geek and I am wondering if it really does work.
Published: May 2014 


This arrived completely unexpectedly and I'm not really sure what its about but it looks fun, gunna give it a go and maybe then pass it on to my friends 8 year old son - looks like something he'll enjoy! Thanks Simon & Schuster!
Published: 8th May 2014


Thank you Curious Fox for this - a beautiful finished copy of the book Alex As Well. I have already read this and loved it, will definitely cherish my finished copy! 
Published: 8th May 2013 


These came though from Penguin as part of the run up to a new series from these authors. Dangerous Creatures. I am looking forward to reading them as they are books 3 and 4 of a series I started and loved but never got round to finishing. I will be reading these very quickly! 
Chaos published: 18th October 2011 
Redemption published: 22nd October 2012


Thanks MiraInk for this, it sounds great. A road trip with twist, I believe there is only one of the five main characters on a road trip and the others have all been impacted by this one girl along the way. It sounds brilliant and I cannot wait to give it a read!
Published: August 2014


I loved Emma's first book and its fantastically developed main character and The Fearless gives off a similar vibe in that aspect - although a completely new book this sounds like a gritty, pebble dystopian with an enemy base provided by the most obvious enemy base I could think of - a very well known shopping centre! I can't wait to read it and thanks so much to Random House for sending it over! 
Published: 24th April 2014


This sounds awesome. A teen fiction book with recipe ideas throughout and budding romance. It definitely sounds like fun and I can't wait to read it and have a few laughs of my own! Thanks Stripes Publishing for this! 
Published: 5th May 2014

Borrowed:


I have been wanting to read these for a while and coming up with something special for the blog for a certain event coming soon I thought they would be the perfect examples of what I wanted. Thankfully my awesome manager smuggled her two year olds copies out of the house for me so I am going to read them quick and get them back before she notices! Thanks Vicky :) 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

In celebration of #UKYA - My favourite UK authors


Forgive me for using a hashtag in the title of my blogpost, that is something I would never do unless the hashtag needs more coverage and I feel that UKYA does! It is a hashtag started by Project UKYA, a blog dedicated to the awesome fiction which comes from our home soil.

This weekend sees the #readUKYA hit twitter in a readathon designed to focus purely on home grown fiction. The readathon started on Thursday and runs to 11pm on Sunday, and as my part in it all I decided to share with you some of my favourite UK authors.

There are some authors who jump straight to mind when I think of my favourites and I can honestly say that the majority of the are from the UK. My favourite adult authors are very British, with Irvine Welsh, David Nicholls and Nick Hornby holding up the fort there but today is about YA authors so here goes:

Zoe Marriott
Zoe came into my life via twitter. I started following her and loved what I saw, she's funny, proud of who she is and is a lovely person. I knew straight away that I wanted to check out her work and when I found Daughter of the Flames in my local library I knew I should start there. I am so glade I did because I never stopped, having read every book she has brought out recently I am yet to find anything about her work I don't love. She is the first author I recommend to anyone who asks; especially those who have ideas of teen fiction which need quashing.

Cat Clarke
I'm a sucker for psychological thrillers and thats what me and my dad used to bond over many years ago when I was a teen. We would sit watching movies from the genre and bat questions and suspicions off one another. When I found Cat Clarke I knew I had found fiction based on what I used to see on the screen, with a no holds barred approach I honestly am a little scared of what Cat could be capable of if her writings anything to go by. If you love ambiguous endings as I do, Cat is an author you should check out.

Sarra Manning
When I was a teenager I used to steal myself away in the teen section of my local bookstore. There I found a lot of love for a lot of authors who haven't found their way on to this list because I, and my reading choices, have changed so much in those years. Sarra Manning was the first to introduce me to an LGBT character in YA fiction and she is one of the few authors who has stayed beside me throughout my journey from awkward adolescent to the adult I am now.

Keris Stainton
Again I founded Keris on twitter. She was awesome, so knowledgeable about books and life and I was kinda in awe of her. When I found out she lived close by I couldn't believe it - someone near who I may be able to meet with and talk books! I decided to read her first book because I knew there was a parental advisor sticker (or the 'not for younger teens' equivalent) on it and I'm so glad I did. Keris offers a nice, fresh face to UK based contemporary teen fiction and does it with realistic characters who will win your heart.

There are many, many more authors I could go into but as I have limited time and I don't wish to bore you, my dear readers, I will leave the in-depth list here. There are others who come to mind who will not surprise people like JK Rowling and Malorie Blackman but also others who are worth noting who you may not recognise as well like Sharon Jones, Ruth Warburton, CJ Skuse and Non Pratt. Having looked over this list I've realised it is quite ridiculously one sided towards female authors - oops - I am forgetting the awesomeness which comes from within Jonathan Stroud, Phil Earle and Marcus Sedgwicks books, obviously!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Madness - Alison Rattle

“By the time she was fourteen years old, Marnie Gunn could swim like a fish. Hardly a day went by when her flannel shift was not hung out by the fire to dry. Often as not, it was still damp in the morning when she pulled it back on and went to the beach with Ma to at ten to Smoaker Nash’s bathing machines.
It was Ma that’d made Marnie go in the sea everyday to begin with. ‘The best cure in the world,’ she said.”

Marnie Gunn has liked the past 9 years as a cripple, lame in one leg following a bout of polio she is regarding as the towns crazy person, a fact that is not helped when she dares the rat-catchers boy to go swimming with her and he drowns. She is lonely in Clevedon, with a mother who hates her and believes she will never wed and no father to speak of, that is until an unlikely friendship sparks up between her and the Lord of Clevedon’s son, Noah. following their secret nighttime swims Marnie starts to become attracted to Noah believing there will be a future for them, but Noah is simply having fun and does not return her feelings. Its up to Marnie to make him see what she believes are his true feelings, instead of hiding them away behind his mask of propriety. 

***

Wow, this is a tale of unrequited love and a half! The Madness is quite simply, mad, and whilst it was enjoyable, it was also quite scary to think of someone becoming that fixated with another.

The story was enjoyable and it built up really well. A friendship blossoms where it shouldn't and turns into a little more, Marnie as a naive victorian girl thinks this is love whereas Noah, being a lords son and soon to be man of business, knows that this is fun, his stepping stone to finding out what a woman is and what she can do. Its incredibly sexist and socially wrong to think the way Noah does, that the lower class women are good for nothing but whoring and testing out techniques on, but thats a sign of the times and I liked that he still kind of got to know Marnie first. He has feelings for her, you can tell that, but he knows he's not allowed to and doesn’t become attached. Marnie on the other hand becomes obsessed with him, claiming to be pregnant by him when she's obviously not and fantasising about living together in the Manor. Its all rather creepy but brilliantly executed. 

I hated Noah for his pompousness and the fact he knew he was leading Marnie on, but he was very charming and this is what won me round within the story. I liked that he was actually normal around Marnie and his character would have been brilliant if he wasn’t born into the higher class. Marnie was a troubled girl and you could pretty much tell that from the start, she was confused about her father, she knew her mother hated her for her lame leg and she was constantly being told that no one would ever want her cos of it. I’m not surprised she got attached when someone like Noah paid an interest and I did feel sorry for her until her obsession became too much, then I pitied her and was actually quite scared of her. 

The Madness really gets into the obsession and the train of thought of Marnie. Whilst reading you really understand how she can about these conclusions even though its obvious to you that those weren't the conclusions to make. There are parts of the book where you will be shaking your head and wanting to shout ‘don’t do that silly girl!’ but there are others where you want to sit her down and talk to her gently and maybe give her a hug. I loved the writing because it really gave you a proper glimpse into the world of Marnie and I liked that it wasn’t told from her point of view so you could also stay objective, almost like a friend of hers. 

It really was a great book, especially if you enjoy romances and maybe are a fan of the older classical romances like Jane Eyre and the Austin novels. I did enjoy it but I have to admit I was a little disappointed because I believe Alison Rattles first book, The Quietness was so much better, but it definitely hasn’t put me off the author and I hope for more to come from her soon. I also have to add that I adored the ending of the book and thought it finished perfectly, I would love to discuss it with other readers in order to find out if others felt the same way as me or not but obviously it would contain spoilers to do so here! 

The Madness was published on March 6th 2014. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cover Reveal: Weirdos vs Bumskulls by Natasha Desborough

Blossom and Petrina, school Weirdos, are on a (natural) high after their band Camel Toe shared the bill with International Rock God (unfortunately homosexual) Josh Raven. Now they have the chance to perform at a real festival when they enter Battle of the Bands. 
But they face competition from an unlikely source. And then Blossom meets Vince, lead singer of rival band Bumskulls and totally sexy MANCAKE. And supposedly loved-up Petrina has been spotted staring (dribbling) at the bass player . . . 
In a churning whirlpool of love, sex and music, can the Weirdos keep their quest for musical domination on track? 
Or is everything about to go norks up?

*** 

The Weirdos are back and I can't wait to see what they have in store for us this time. I adored their rise to fame in Weirdos Vs Quimboids (read my review here) and next month Bumskulls will hit the stage - and it wont be quiet! Look at how fantastically awesome and eye-catching that cover is! 

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

"But all I could see was a beautiful girl in a long gray dress, under a white track jacket with the word Munich sewn on it, and beat-up black converse peeking out underneath. A girl who wore a long silver chain around her neck, with tons of stuff dangling from it - a plastic ring from a bubblegum machine, a safety pin, and a bunch of other junk I was too far away to see. A girl who didn't look like she belonged in Gatlin. I couldn't take my eyes off her.

Macon Ravenwood's niece. What was wrong with me?
She tucked her dark curls behind her ear, black nail polish catching the fluorescent light. Her hands were covered with black ink, like she had written on them. She walked down the hall as if we were invisible. she had the greenest eyes I'd ever seen, so green they could've been considered some new colour altogether."


Ethan is hiding himself from the rest of his schoolmates. He’s clever and wants out of the dead-end town that is Gatlin. He reads even though that doesn’t bode well with the other guys on the basketball team and he isn’t attracted to the cheerleaders the way he is meant to be.

Ethan has been having strange dreams since his mom died, strange dreams about a girl he’s never seen, until the day she turns up at his school. The niece of the odd “Old man Ravenwood” Lena is shunned as soon as she starts at Jackson high, from everyone except Ethan. He is drawn to her and from the moment he nearly runs her down he hates to be apart from her.

Lena isn’t just a normal girl though, a 15 year old teenager who has powers so strong no one can begin to imagine what shes capable of, Lena doesn’t even know herself yet and as the impending fate of her 16th birthday draws near things get dangerous for the two who have fallen so far they can’t seem to make sense of where its taken them.


Beautiful Creatures is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Believe me, I could barely put it down, I would be reading it at work then I’d suddenly realise that my lunch break finished over 5 minutes ago and I was about to get in serious trouble! The way the feelings between Ethan and Lena are described, they way the settings and the town and the manor are put into worlds is so powerful sometimes I thought I was actually there!

Ethan is a great main character, the way the books written from his point of view is awesome, you get to know exactly who he is, he lets you into his mind, the way he lets Lena in and the conversations between the two of them, in their minds is incredible, you get that the world is going on around them but really all that matters at that point is what they’re talking about.

I have seen a lack of male protagonists in the books I've read recently but I think that’s one of the things that made this book so amazing to me. I felt what was going on with Lena stronger because Ethan felt it, it seemed stronger because it was going though him then out onto the page in front of me. I cant really explain it but I loved the fact that the story is about Lena really and her situation but I felt more connected because of the love between her and Ethan. I think Ethan is an amazing character, hes a very special guy, everyone should have an Ethan…

This book made me feel every emotion possible; love, happiness, sadness, fear and even blood curdling fury. There were a few times when I really just wanted to hurl it at a wall…. More often than not when Mrs Lincoln or Savannah Snow were on the pages in front of me! A few times where I found myself crying and more than a few times where I’d be laughing like a loon… especially during the gym scene with Macon.

I’ve always been fascinated with witches, the pagan religion is probably something I can relate to more than Christianity, even though I’m christened, and I love stories about witches and wizards. However Beautiful Creatures was different to other stories I’ve read, as Lena says they are Casters not witches and the history of the Casters and their mannerisms and stuff really captivated me. I was in awe of their powers, their Casts, everything about them they just amazed me.

Another thing that can be said for this book is its pace. It’s a big book, at 563 pages I knew it wasn’t going to be quick and the last book of this size I picked up bored the hell outta me because it really didn't need to be so big! However Beautiful Creatures never bored me, not once. I was dying to know what was going to happen next, what revelations would come and how the sixteen moons would turn out at the end. The suspense in certain parts of the book nearly killed me. I was begging to know what was going to happen or how they were going to find themselves out of the situations.

I have honestly not experienced a book like this for a while. The Caster Chronicles are now right up there with Uglies as my favourite series because I cannot let this one go. I’m gutted it took me so long to read this book, and I hope like hell the library has Beautiful Darkness because if I don’t know what happens next soon I think I’ll go crazy.

This is a re-published review of Beautiful Creatures; first reviewed on Readaraptor on 3rd March 2011. I am following this post up with reviews of the rest of the series over the next few weeks in the run up to the release of a new series by the authors. Dangerous Creatures will feature Ridley and Link from this series and is available for pre-order via Amazon, the iBooks store and other retailers now. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alex As Well - Alyssa Brugman

“There are moments in life where something happens and it changes everything forever. You make one decision, and after that you can’t go back. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing.
Five days ago I stopped taking my medication. I think it might have been one of those decisions. How do you know? Maybe if I just start taking them again everything will go back to the way it was? I don’t think so.”

Alex is fifteen and confused. Born intersexed and brought up as a boy, she has finally told her parents that she is a girl and has stopped taking her medication. Her mother is furious and takes it as a personal insult. Her father leaves. She starts making the life changes she has to make; changing schools, changing her look, changing her life. However can things be that simple, can you just up and leave one life one day and move onto another? And how will you explain anything to your new friends or your family?

***

Wow, for such a short book there was a lot of deep topics raised and a lot of things to tackle within Alex As Well and I have gotta say, Alyssa Brugman did well! Saying that however, I am not going to do well explaining my feelings on this book because theres a lot of them zigzagging around my head! 

The story is fantastic, even if it wound me up something rotten! I loved that Alex was strong enough to declare her true feelings but the way she does it might not be the best method, and I loved that other things were explored like mental illness and social interactions. It is not a nice story as Alex’s parents reactions cause all kinds of problems and Alex has to deal with people who might not take kindly to her past, but it was still a brilliant, touching story and it does need to be read.

I got very annoyed with the book and thats because of the way characters did things and how they went about things. It wasn’t nice but the feelings that stirred up in me were the right ones for the story, it was meant to hit the buttons it did and I think it needed to. Alex’s parents reaction to her declaration were the worst, and I hated them for it. They were so selfish and I couldn’t believe someone could react like that to their child, especially as they knew Alex was born with female and male sexual organs. I hated his mothers reaction and I understood more about it towards the end of the book but I can also understand why Alex reacted to her the way she did too. 

I think that Alex can’t go without blame when it comes to the outcome of the story and she did do things a little to rashly, she has a tendency to rush into things head on which was part of the reason why her mother’s reactions were so terrible. However I think the story indicates that the medication she was one did that to her as she seemed a lot more messed up when she was taking the pills and applying the lotion. The issues surrounding that were interesting and got me thinking too and I really hated her mother even more because of that. I also loved the way there were two Alexs and how it because obvious to me that the second one was more prominent at certain times, depending on what was going on with the main Alex, I liked that that gave the reader some kind of insight as to what it could be like for someone who was raised as the wrong sex and how much of a mess that could make your brain!

In the book there are snippets of internet forum pages from Alex’s mother asking for help to deal with Alex and I absolutely adored these bits, yet hated them at the same time. I can see why it was a great idea to put those in and it really showed how different people can have different reactions to this kind of thing. Alex’s school friends helped with that too and I really did feel for her in the fact that she will have to almost tread carefully throughout her entire life in order to judge peoples reactions and that kind of thing. It made me sad that people cant just be accepting, but happy that some people can. 

The book really was heartfelt and it raised a lot of interesting points just in my head, I would love to re-visit Alex to see how things have gone on for her in the future, but saying that the book doesn’t need a sequel. I loved it from the start and although a short, quick read Alex As Well was a fantastic one. 

Alex As Well will be published on May 8th by Curious Fox. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To pre-order or for more info please visit:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

News: The WoMentoring Project


As a quick post I wanted to share with you the new WoMentoring Project, a project for female writers which has just launched today. It sounds like a fantastic opportunity for budding writers, which I know many of my blog readers will be. It sounds like a fantastic opportunity and I hope some of you benefit from it. Be sure to visit the WoMentoring site and follow the team on twitter for more info. 

*** 


About?
The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.

The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.

Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project - from the project management to the website design to the PR support - is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project. 
Why do we need it?

Credit: Sally Jane Thompson
Like many great (and not so great) ideas The WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers - largely writers, editors and agents - who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.

The WoMentoring Project is managed by novelist Kerry Hudson and all of our mentors are all professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.

In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.


Applications
In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn't possible so instead we've tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.

Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about why they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be in application to a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. 

Credit: Sally Jane Thompson
Why our mentors are getting involved
The reason I’m doing this is simple: mentoring can mean the difference between getting published and getting lost in the crowd. It can help a good writer become a brilliant one. But till now, opportunities for low-income writers to be mentored were few and far between. This initiative redresses the balance; I’m utterly delighted to be part of the project.
Shelley Harris, author of Jubilee

I have only achieved the success I have with the help of others, and now I am keen to pass on that help. I particularly want to reach out to those who don't have the privileges of wealth, status or existing contacts, but who have so much to gain and to give.
Marie Phillips, author Gods Behaving Badly

I’m so pleased to be involved in the WoMentoring Project, and I can’t wait to meet my mentee. I know from my own authors how isolating an experience writing can often be, especially when you’re just starting out, and so I really wanted to be involved. I hope that knowing that there is someone on your side in those early days will give writers courage and confidence in their work.
Alison Hennessy, Senior Editor at Harvill Secker

The WoMentoring project is the kind of opportunity I would have relished when writing my first novel. It's founded in the spirit of paying it forward, and I'll take real pride in sharing whatever experience I've gained with a mentee. I've benefited from the advice and encouragement of some truly inspirational writers, the right voice cheering you on can make all the difference when you're in your solitary writing bubble. The formality of the mentoring arrangement also gives a sense of responsibility and focus - something that's invaluable when you're lost in the sprawl of a work-in-progress - and it's beneficial to mentors too.
Amylia Hall, author of The Book of Summers

My career as an editor has been immeasurably enriched by working with inspiring women writers, yet the world of publishing would have been inaccessible to me without the time and support I was given when first starting out.  The WoMentoring Project is a wonderful, necessary thing and I’m very proud to be taking part in it.
Francesca Main, Editorial Director, Picador

I wanted to get involved with this project because I'd like to help authors feel that whoever they are, and wherever they come from, they have a right to be heard.
Jo Unwin of the Jo Unwin Literary Agency

Why female writers feel they need this opportunity 
I'm interested in being mentored because although I think you have to make mistakes to learn, having someone who's been there help you work out the ones with no value can be really useful. Most of all I'd like to have someone to push and challenge me on what makes me and my writing tick.

Credit: Sally Jane Thompson
The idea of women sharing their skills and experience in a dynamic, nurturing way is a really important one given the lower profile given to female writers. Even though the mentoring is one to one a collective voice and resilience is still being built up - I think it's a great idea that, for writers like me, will help get rid of some of the layers of doubt and creative loneliness that come with being a beginner.
Clare Archibald

I'm on my third novel; I've had good notices from Faber, HoZ etc. but still not quite there. What I need is that final push. I especially need guidance on pacing, keeping the action pulsing along. I feel a mentor could be hugely beneficial in this process.
Suzy Norman

Breaking Butterflies by M Anjelais Blog Tour: Review

“When my mother was a little girl, she walked to the playground by herself every day after school. I can picture it easily; photos of her as a child are almost indistinguishable from photos of me when I was little. I used to look at her old yellow-edged school photographs a lot. My mother had a shy, quiet look a round face, and the same straight brown hair I used to have, though in every picture hers was pulled back from her forehead in two tight little pigtails.” 

One day Sphinx’s mother met a girl who would change her life. Her and Leigh would be friends forever and that friendship would pass on to her children. This is why when Sphinx and Cadence were 5 and he killed the butterfly, Sphinx didn’t run and hid, she just cried, and why as they grew up she felt connected to him in ways she never thought she would be connected with another. There was something about his eyes that day that ade her know he was different, he was special. On the day Cadence killed the butterfly Sphinx realised that something could be so unusual it was broken; so extraordinary that something was wrong with it. And that is why she can not leave Cadence behind now. 

***

Sometimes you start a book and you know it will be intense. You know that it will be unlike anything you have read before and that it is worth all the effort you will have to put in to understand its complex characters. Breaking Butterflies was one such book for me, it was so powerful and so heavy but I powered on through and I am so unbelievably glad I did because this book needs to be read, by everyone. 

The story is heavy. When I first read the blurb I wasn’t aware that Cadence was only 5 when he killed the butterfly and that the two main characters had known one another all their life. I thought it would be about falling for a guy who was unusual and had mental health problems…. not about the friendship and the feelings that are born when you have been brought up with that person all your life. This book was not about love in the usual teenage love story sense. It was about power struggles, death, mental health and the love you feel when you know that something is wrong, that it is bad for you, but you can’t help but feel it anyway. Its about fate and the way a plan mentioned before you are born can shape your life so much and can cause you to think twice about your actions. 

The characters are incredible and whilst Sphinx annoyed me at times, at others she was ridiculously strong and I loved that she knew where she needed to be. Cadence was an intense character and my feelings towards him were much like his personality; it was an emotional rollercoaster and it was one I didn’t want to ride for great chunks of time. The idea of having to care for someone like hi terrifies me and I don’t know how I would cope in Leigh’s shoes… but I know for a fact I couldn’t have stood by like Sphinx did… I am not as strong as that fictional character is, or at least I have never had to be! 

There was something about this book that captured the intensity of Cadence and his situation perfectly and it was a brilliant read because of it. It felt like a real life situation and like it could easily happen to anyone. The things that Cadence goes through with his health are possible and while they are horrible to read about, it must be so much harder to have to live through them. The only aspect of the book I didn't like so much was the inclusion of the characters mothers' plan and how specific it was. It added intensity to the story in that they made this plan up but how specific and how almost robotic it was that everything happened right to plan threw me off a little as it seemed so forced, I don't believe that life can work to your own plan like that, especially when it's something you say at 7 years old and it all sticks right down to the names of your children - also Sphinx is too much of a strange name for me and I'm wanting to name my future son after a fantasy video game character! 

There is a part of the book that is terrifying when Cadence confronts Sphinx about his death and it triggers something in her mind and that was awful for me to read. It scared the hell out of me and I think this book will sit uncomfortably with some people but still deserves a read. 

Breaking Butterflies was published on april 3rd by Chicken House books. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of the books blog tour. 

To buy this book or for more info please visit: 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Devil in the Corner - Patricia Elliott

"'What shall I do, Miss Caseborne? I am penniless. I have nowhere to go.'
I was dry-eyed but my voice faltered. We were sitting in the drawing room of Miss Caseborne's Boarding Seminary for Young Ladies, surrounded by a press of empty chairs and heavy mahogany furniture.
'Come, come,' said my headmistress. She patted her neatly coiled hair. 'We shall find a position for you. I shall write a reference myself.'"

When Maud Greenwood's father dies suddenly she is forced to start work as a governess. Left with no money and no known family she starts her working life. Two years later she has walked out of two jobs and been fired from a third. The future looks grim. Then she receives a letter from a  cousin she never knew she had. Juliana Greenwood offers her a home, food, and promises of a good life in the future. But when Maud arrives at Windward House she finds things are different to what she imagined. She is unsure whether her cousins promises are the truth and things seem a lot more sinister than she ever expected.

***

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I love historical fiction and I often complain I don't read enough of it, mainly as there isn't a lot out there for teens at the moment. The Devil in The Corner was released by Hodder Children's books recently and as soon as I saw the email about it I knew I would have to read it. Sinister goings on in an old mansion house in Suffolk in 1868? A bit of sociology thrown in as its mainly about women of that time? An element of romance? It sold me from the second I read the blurb and now I've read the book I'm desperate for more from the author.

The Devil in the Corner was my first Patricia Elliott book and I am certain it will not be my last. I loved the writing and it flowed so well. The obvious element of suspense in the writing was brilliant and the way she conveyed the feelings of the characters had me grinding my teeth and calling out in frustration throughout the book.

The story was very much focussed on the situation Maud had found herself in and how at that time she could do very little about it. I studied sociology at A Level and its one of the things I have always loved reading about in historical fiction, the way life was for women and just what they could and couldn't do. One of the things I loved about this book was the way it featured very strong female characters despite being set in a time when females weren't viewed as strong... and yet it was still very realistic. Maud was strong but niave, a powerful and dangerous way to be in that time as she soon found out. Edie was quite possibly my favourite character due to her strength as it came about through love for her family, among others, and she was very calculated with it - she's not a likeable character but definitely an interesting one.

As with most historical fiction there was some elements of the story speficially that annoyed me. The obvious disregard for women and the way they needed a man to look after them, the way men could be however they wanted and weren't viewed badly - unless they made a fool of themselves in public - and the way a women was treated as a liar in the eyes of many. However Patricia Elliott put all this across very well and I loved the whole book for it. The addition of the art piece and the sinister element that gave to the book was fantastic too and I really loved that. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to The Doom and how people's reactions changed throughout the book too.

I would definitely recommend The Devil in the Corner even if you are a bit apprehensive about historical fiction and I am off now to find more by the author to devour!

The Devil in the Corner was published on March 6th by Hodder Children's Books. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Hive | Goodreads | Author Website 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lobsters - Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

“Grace burst through my bedroom door with such force that she nearly fell over. 
‘Freddie isn’t in France!’ She announced triumphantly as Tilly came crashing in breathlessly behind her. 
I sat up in bed, where I have been watching videos of baby sloths and tutorials on how to do eyeliner slicks all morning.
‘Are you sure?’ I asked. 
‘Yes!’ Tilly yelled, and started doing a little victory dance on the spot. 
‘But I stalked him this morning.’ I said, ‘and there’s a picture of him actually standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, holding up a baguette and pretending it’s a moustache. He literally couldn’t be more in France if he tried.’”

For Hannah and Sam this summer is about one thing. Losing one thing and finding another. The thing they both want rid of is their virginity, and it has be gone before Uni starts! The thing they want to find is their Lobster; their one true love, in order to do the first thing. But the path of true love never runs smoothly and while Hannah seems to think Freddie, the waistcoat wearing Hollywoods-esque guy from her year at school, is her one the events soon to happen may suggest otherwise. Sam meanwhile is trying to get over his ex, falls for a girl he doesn’t know the name of and snogs a Panda. Things this summer are certainly going to be interesting, but will either of them reach their ultimate goal? 

***

Oh my word. I haven’t laughed so much in years and that was within the first few chapters! What a book! Lobsters is the ultimate slap in the face for anyone who is 18 and thinks they have their life sorted out, because from the events of this book you’ll soon realise you don’t! 

The story is brilliant; two strangers, one summer before everything changes, and a whole load of boys and girls to choose from. Both Hannah and Sam want to lose their virginity and whilst Hannah thinks she's got it figured out that all messes up, as do her feelings towards her best friends. Sam isn’t as fussed about the ‘who’ as long as it happens, or at least he doesn’t think he’s bothered until he falls for Hannah, who he is pretty sure has already been taken. Its fairly obvious right from the start that romance will blossom between the two of them but whats great is how it blossoms and exactly what goes on between then and the end of the summer.

The writing really brought the characters to life for me and I could see them all clearly. I could understand how these very different yet alike girls got to become friends and just how Sam got lumber with Robin but loved him for all his quirks. I loved how the characters would fit into my life at that age and how the fast approaching end of school days were making things pretty crazy. But the thing I loved most was my feelings towards the characters at certain points in the books. Sam was an idiot and a moran at times. Hannah was a whinging git at times. At others though they were brilliant, they were being the friend they needed to be, they were letting their hair down, and being their own people. I loved the scene in the Mad Hatters Tearoom Tent when it was just the two of them more than any point in the whole book because it was brilliant and they were being who they were, without a second thought as to who could see them. However, although they were brilliant I loved other characters more. A shout out has to go to Hannah’s Nan for just being there, and not caring what came out of her mouth yet it always being the right thing, almost anyway. And Stella, although I hated her at times, I loved her too because she was always true to herself, even if she wasn’t with the people around her. Then there was Robin… oh my Robin, I need you in my life, though I do wish you would embrace your inner Harry Potter geekiness… hopefully in a few years you’ll be proud of being a potterhead… I can imagine its a hard thing to admit to at 17 when you’re trying to be cool! 

The book worked so well because of its split perspective characters, you got both sides of the story and that worked so well because of the writers. You can tell that Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison not only put themselves into this story but worked on it together and are very comfortable together. Their relationship with each other as friends comes out in their writing and I think it makes to book flow even better for it. 

I absolutely loved Lobsters because I can remember from my own teen years just how much difference one summer can make your life and this book really brings that to life. It felt real, it felt like a true life story written down on paper and it was brilliantly funny in a way that I could seriously relate. I honestly think you’d be mad if you didn’t read this book, even if you are yet to reach the grand old age of 18, and especially if (like me) You’re already old and love to reminisce on the good old days of your youth! 

Lobsters will be published in June by Chicken House Books. My copy was sent to me from the publishers via lovereading.co.uk in exchange for an honest review

To pre-order the book or for more info please visit: