Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Killing Sound - Paul Southern

“The black cab tore through London’s rain-washed streets, slicing through the late-night traffic. It was 1.33am and Malcolm Lawrence was feverish with anticipation. The clamp of fear that had gripped him all day was gone, the blackened tunnels all lit up. He stared at the readings in his red notebook and a triumphant smile appeared across his face. William would be furious about this.”

Twelve years ago Jodie saw something terrifying. She saw something no little girl should and she had to live with the devastating aftermath. Both her parents were dead and she only had her Aunt Gene to rely on. For a while Jodie’s mind had blocked the thing she saw and once the nightmares stopped Aunt Gene thought she was safe forever. But now the thing is back, its a sound only Jodie can hear, a sound more chilling than human screams and what happened that night so many years ago, refuses to be silent anymore. 

***

OK so I wasn’t expecting to be as shocked and scared by this book as I was. It chilled me to the bone and made me think there was something behind me, watching me, as I read every page. 

I had been going through a reading slump when I picked Killing Sound up and I honestly wasn’t expected to be gripped by any book. I started reading and made my way through 50 pages in no time at all. The introduction to Jodie’s father followed by a couple of chapters from the ‘before’ were enough to seriously intrigue me and I really just had to keep reading. As the book went on the weirdness because creepiness and then into full blown terror. This book sneaks up on you like the demon within it, as you read it that creepy feeling gets closer, and closer, and closer.. 

I loved the pace of this book and I think it fit with the story perfectly. It was fast paced when it needed to be and slowed down when you need to understand something. I loved that I was kept on my toes whilst reading and I really enjoyed the feeling I got of actually being in London when I was reading. 

The characters didn’t do an awful lot for me to be honest and I really felt like thats what let the book down a bit. I didn’t understand why Jodie seemed to have only Luca (her boyfriend) and his mate as her friends and no one else, and I didn’t understand the whole thing with Laura and Trent and their stance against Jodie. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a backstory between Laura and Jodie that was completely missed and was more than her jealousy when it came to Luca. It let the book down a fair bit but the main characters didn't do anything to make me hate them so it was just a small downside. I thought the stuff with Jodie’s Father and William Habborlain was the most interesting thing to do with the characters directly and I kinda appreciate the route the author chose to take William on. 

I did love this book, I thought it was the best at producing the level of eeriness that fits in with the story. It also featured interesting developments when it came to science and mythology, with some of the science and facts discussed actually being real. I really enjoyed the link between the paranormal and the unheard and I loved what the author did with something that is really just kinda of an every day thing. I would really recommend this book especially if you like horror stories, but just be warned, its not for the faint hearted. 

Killing Sound was published on September 4th by Chicken House Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Please visit my blog tomorrow for a guest post from the author. 

To buy this book please visit: 


Monday, September 29, 2014

Gary’s Garden - Gary Northfield

Ever walk through a garden and feel that the insects and the birds are up to something? Now you can find out what in this special collection of comic strips focusing on all the birds, bugs and creepy crawlies who are all up to no good while Gary’s relaxing in his garden. A grumpy caterpillar, a space travelling ladybird and a ninja hedgehog will provide much entertainment for hours to come, and have you laughing like you wouldn’t believe! 

***

Again, a collection of fantastic comic strips which have come from The Phoenix, I am so looking into a subscription for my nephew in a few years!

Gary’s Garden is awesome. It follows different creatures which will easily be found in any garden whilst they adventure and hope that Gary is bringing them food. It allows us to see into the world of insects and shows us that, yes, they are as crazy as humans can be and sometimes what they do is completely hilarious! Each strip focuses on a different group or character and I must say one of my favourites was one with very, very few words in at all called First Legs. That strip showed a collection of tadpoles as they got their legs and made their way to the pond surface to show off their new found froglet-status and left behind one poor little tadpole whose legs weren’t coming through!! 

I really enjoyed all of the strips within this collection. They give each animal its own personality and they are so funny I was laughing out loud. In addition to First Legs I have to give a major shout out to the Boris and Monroe strips as they were brilliant, from the characters to the art style I loved every sketch of theirs. 

The art was really cool, quite cartoon-y and not at all serious, opting instead for a lighter take on bugs and animals, which fit in nicely with what the narratives offered. I loved the bright colours and the effects used to make it look like the birds were flying and the worms were wriggling. I think this book will be perfect for budding little artists as they will really see what they could achieve with a lot of practice and patience. 

I loved Gary Northfield’s Teenytinysaurs and was hoping for a second book following those characters (I’m not gunna lie, I still am hoping for that Gary!) but this was a very good substitute! I really recommend that any lover of comics checks out the ‘The Phoenix Presents’ books, or subscribes to the comic itself as I can definitely see myself wanting more like this! 

Gary’s Garden was published on August 7th by David Fickling Books, as part of the The Phoenix Presents… series. 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:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Letterbox Love (#94)


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.


For Review:


A collection of short stories by some of the best names in YA this focuses around a theme of winter romances and I believe I am going to love every second. I am very interested in reading some of the stories particularly as I have heard of the authors but never read their work, its a great chance to have a taster of what they are like. Thank you to MacMillan for sending this over! 
Published: 9th October 2014 


Now this is not a children's book but I have heard amazing things about Mal Peet and could not pass up an opportunity to read this incredible sounding book. The Murdstone Trilogy sounds dark and kinda depressing which really is what I love from my adult books. I will hopefully get round to reading this very soon! Thanks David Fickling Books! 
Published: 6th November 2014

Gifted: 



The wonderful Michelle at Much Loved Books got me these two books signed by the authors during an event I was meant to go to in August. Unfortunately I couldn't make the event due to a funeral so Michele kindly got the authors to sign these (and got Sarah J Maas to sign a bookmark) and she sent them to me. Bookish blogger friends really are the best, thank you so much Michelle! 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Corpse Talk - Adam Murphy

Join Adam Murphy as he hosts his very own, unique talk show, Corpse Talk, the only show which takes you direct to the voices of the past. Each week Adam digs up the dirt on some of the most famous, and infamous figures from the past. Did you know the secret of Cleopatras irresistible personality? Or why Genghis Khan became obsessed with world domination? Well you can, as Adam talks to their corpses and scoops all the goss! 

***

What a crazy concept! This book is a collection of comic strips which I believe have run in previous issues of The Phoenix comic, and I must say I fully understand now why that comic seems to do so well with kids because its artists are incredible. 

In Corpse Talk the artist Adam Murphy has his own character who, quite literally, digs up the bodies of well known figures form the past. The first of these in this collection is Amelia Earheart, who you may know doesn’t technically have a body to dig up - but even that is covered in the strip! Each strip gives an insight into the famous people and what they did. Its a fantastic way of teaching kids about important figures from the past because even at 26 I had no idea what some of them actually did to become as well known as they are now, I just knew their names! It also prompted me to want to find out more, find out about what else these figures were known for and why they are famous, and if it does that to me, what will it be like for an inquisitive 8 or 9 year old? 

As with all comics this features imagery which tells as much of the story as the words. I liked the talk show style and really enjoyed that Adam had included shall we say flashbacks, to illustrate what these people did. I loved how the talk show panels showed decaying corpses and the flashback panels showed whichever figure it was as they looked when they were alive, and how most of the strips had brighter panels for the flashbacks, as like a contrast. 

The strips were really interesting and I definitely thing that they will do a lot for teaching kids more about the important figures of our past. I noticed when I started reading that the first few strips were single pages which was a bit annoying as it didn’t allow for a lot of information to be shared with the reader but as the strips go on they get bigger and better in my opinion. I really did enjoy this collection and I think that most younger readers will too, there are also some really cheesy jokes that Im sure a lot of parents will enjoy in there too! 

Corpse Talk is a ‘The Phoenix Presents…’ book which was published by David Fickling Books on 3rd July. 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: 

Monday, September 22, 2014

This Book is Gay - James Dawson

“Lesson one 
Sometimes men fancy men 
Sometimes women fancy women 
Sometimes women fancy men and women 
Sometimes men fancy women and men 
Sometimes people don’t fancy anyone 
Sometimes a man might want to be a woman
Sometimes a woman might want to be a man
Got that? It really is that simple.”

This Book is Gay takes all the myths and prejudice surrounding the notion of gender identity and sexual orientation and tells it how it is. The Queen of Teen James Dawson shows how all human beings are confusing creatures and how not everyone wants, or needs, labels to be who they really are. This book will have you laughing out loud, cringing at the thought of sweaty parent sex, and shaking with rage at the ridiculousness that is apparent in society. However it will do all of this while providing you with a whole bunch of facts about how being LGBT doesn’t mean you should be treated any differently or be ashamed of who you are. 

***

 In this book there is humour, there is honest to goodness facts that will turn your stomach and whats most important, there is zero judgement. I loved the way James was so blunt and so out there and managed to convey the fact of the matter; people are people and it should matter what gender or sexuality they are, we should accept everyone for being themselves. 

The book is split into 13 main chapters which explore being LGBT, labels, stereotypes, hate, coming out, staying in, where to meet other people similar to you, gay sex and a whole bunch of other stuff. There’s even a brilliant chapter aimed at the parents of LGBT youths and a handy guide to recognising the different ‘bits’ of the male and female body. 

I have never been a massive fan of non-fiction books. Even the textbooks of the courses that I adored during my time at uni were force red and I have a great selection of books on my shelves that honestly have never been read despite me being interested in the subject. When I found out James was going to write this book I knew straight away that it was a non-fiction book I needed to read. I enjoyed every page because it was delivered using James’ fantastic voice and a humorous undertone that helped deliver even the most serious topic. 

There were a lot of things discussed which could upset a reader but they were offered in such a way that the reader has time to digest the information. The book also goes into major facts and information about what people get into under the sheets, and sometimes in other places, but this wasn’t done in an erotic way, it was matter of fact and came with prior warning. James points out at the beginning of the sex chapter that schools teach hetro sex education at age 10 so anyone older than this should technically be able to learn about gay and trans sex without an issues too but the options are there to skip any chapter you feel uncomfortable with. 

One of my favourite aspects of the book was the addition of real peoples’ voices and their stories, I liked what that added to the facts and information that James was sharing and I also thought it gave a more rounded view of the whole topic.

I really did love this book. I want every child to read it but I know I will have trouble trying to get my stepson to read it because a) he wasn't impressed with the title and didn’t understand it and b) doesn’t read anything unless its for school - which makes me sad. I really hope that this book is made readily available in school libraries because it would have helped me an awful lot when I was a teenager.

I think its also worth noting that this book is not just for LGBT people, its also not just for young adults. It is as accepting of all readers as it is of all genders and sexualities.  Thank you James for another incredible book! 

This book is Gay was published on September 4th by Hot Key Books. My copy was gifted to me at a blogger event at YALC. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Letterbox Love (#93)


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.


For Review: 


This is the ninth book in Darren Shan's 12 part Zom-B series. I have read the first but then lost my way with them until the 8th came through my door a few months ago and now the ninth is here. I really do want to read them so hopefully I'll be able to get hold of the others soon! Thanks Simon & Schuster! 
Published: 25th September


This adorable little book is a halloween read for kids between 1 and 4. I'm brooding my range of books read in all directions and I thought this one seemed cute so I asked for it. I've already read it and I really enjoyed it so thanks Little Tiger Press/Catapillar Books for this one! 
Published: 14th July


A very fun sounding middle grade book Prankenstein is very much the type of thing you want to read in the run up to Halloween! I love the sound of it and I'm hoping its as funny as it sounds like it will be. Thanks to Fat Fox Books for this one! 
Published: 1st September 


This collection of comic strips is awesome! Its part of the 'The Phoenix Presents' series which has published collections of the strips which are found in the comic book Phoenix. I've already started it and I can't wait to finish it, its st out like a talk show between the main character Adam and various historic characters. Thanks DFB! 
Published: 3rd July


This is the next book on my tar and I can't wait. Again a collection of comic strips this time from artist Gary Northfield, who had a book published last year called Teenytinysaurs, which was AWESOME! I've been waiting for more from Gary since and I'm happy I've finally got it! Thanks again DFB! 
Published: 7th August 



Friday, September 19, 2014

Rhyme Schemer - K A Holt

“”First day of school. 
My favourite. 
Easy prey. 

Giant John. 
A parade float of himself. 

Freckle-Face Kelly, 
like a painting 
by that one guy 
who drank too much beer 
and went crazy.”

Kevin is a bully, he’ll laugh when someone falls - he’s usually is the one who pushed the - and he’ll try anything to rub someone up the wrong way. But he choses the wrong prey and his prey finds a way of hitting back. When the tables are turned and he becomes the bullied he’ll do anything to make it stop but its not that easy. Not when everyone knows your secrets.

***

This book was fantastic. I love books written in verse and this one is perfect as it shows the repercussions of peoples actions along with the brilliance of expressing yourself with poetry, which isn’t always about floating clouds and trees and crap. 

Kevin obviously bullies for a reason and whilst I didn’t want to like him, once I found out his background I could see why he was the way he was and how much his life hurts. He picks on people to make himself feel better because he doesn't get the love elsewhere. I loved the outcome of the book and that someone chooses to take a chance on him. 

The book took me a grand total of about an hour to read. If that. It was fast and not a great deal happens but it was powerful even as a short book. It carries a brilliant message that I hope a lot of kids will take away with them. I loved the addition of the pages and the finally two pages were brilliant, making me laugh so much! 

I really enjoyed this book, it made me laugh and it restored my faith in humanity. I really do recommend it especially if you want to deliver a good message to middle grade kids who are reluctant readers.

Rhyme Schemer will be published on October 1st by Abrams & Chronicle. My copy was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Hidden Princess - Katy Moran

“‘So are you coming tomorrow night, Amy? You could bring Mika in the pram.’ I knew it was a stupid thing to say the second I opened my mouth. Even wrapped in the enormous patchwork blanket I’d spent three months knitting, Mike was still smaller than the Creed family’s ancient and bad-tempered calico cat. There was no way Amy was going to bring her newborn baby to a party in the woods.”

Lissy Harker has been trapped in the Hidden halls for six long years. Her father, the Swan King keeping her captive but alive as she is the only one who can open the gateway to the mortal world. At least for now. The gateway is the only means of freedom for The Hidden but the Swan King wants to wreak havoc on the mortals so Lissy must keep it shut at all costs. In the mortal world Connie, Lissy’s sister, is seeing visions in her dreams. She has been told her sister is dead but isn’t sure what to believe. When it becomes apparent that Connie is getting closer to the truth the real worries begin for Lissy and she doesn’t know how much longer the Hidden will remain trapped. 

***

This is the second book of the Hidden Among Us series by Katy Moran and for a series which surprised me from the start I’m happy to say its a define must read. 

The story takes place six years after the event of the first book. Connie is angry and confused and still not over what she was told was Lissy’s death. In actual fact Lissy is a prisoner in the Halls of the Hidden and is trying to stop her father from unleashing a fatal plague which will wipe out all the mortals. There’s almost 100 pages of run up to the proper adventure in this book which was a bit slower but it was good to catch up on everything that happened in the earlier book and it does that brilliantly. Subtle hints and reminders of the previous events were what kept me interested because it has been a while since hidden Among Us and they helped emerge me into the world again. 

Once those reminders and back story stuff had moved on the real fun began and I loved it. There was a lot of on the edge of your seat moments and one particularly harrowing scene which was written perfectly. Its an awful thing to write about but Katy Moran did a brilliant job of expressing the emotions that the character it involved was experiencing. I can’t say any more for fear of spoilers but that scene will stay with me, no matter how awful the thing it involved was, because of the brilliant writing. 

The writing really is brilliant throughout though, not just in that scene. There are at least five points of view expressed throughout The Hidden Princess and they swap around all the time, you don’t get a linear viewpoint. So it will go from Connie to Lissy to Larkspur, back to Connie then on to Joe, back and then to Nicolas. This apparently haphazard point of view system worked so well for the story because it gave you a complete idea of what all the characters were experiencing and their feelings at that moment. It could have easily got confusing if the story wasn’t written so well and I’m happy to say that because of their voices I always knew exactly which character each chapter was meant to be, without looking at the heading. 

I loved this book and its predecessor, which is so strange for me. I usually really dislike Young Adult fae stories but this is brilliant. The fae are messed up and far from perfect, they are also far from evil, for the most part and are really interesting to read about. There are elements of a love story but its by far the focus of the overall story and I think that is what gripped me the most due to its brilliance, without going down the same root a lot of other YA fae books I have experienced do. 

The Hidden Princess was published on June 5th by Walker books. My copy was sent from the publisher for an honest review. 

To buy the book or for more info please visit: 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Q&A with Kim Hood - author of Finding A Voice

Today I am joined by the author Kim Hood to talk about her debut book Finding a Voice, which I absolutely adored and came out via O'Brien Press on August 11th. You can read my review of it here.

Your book, Finding A Voice, focuses on mental illness, coping with the pressures of life and the idea that people dont always come across as being the way you expect them to be, how did the story come about and was there any major inspiration for the book?

I truly am not sure how the story came about.  I suppose like any story, it came from my experiences in life weaving in and out of my imagination.  Many of those experiences have been through my work supporting and teaching people with challenges such as mental illness and disability, so it was natural for the themes you mention to emerge. 

As this is my first (finished) novel, I was pretty na├»ve about how to go about it.  I didn’t have an outline or any idea where I was going when I started.  Little inspirations kept saving me.  For example, Chris, who happens to have cerebral palsy and is unable to walk or talk because of it, was inspired by something that happened over twenty years ago.  I was working as a camp counsellor and one of my campers had a disability that made him unable to verbalize.  Unfortunately, the electronic communication board he usually used was in for repairs.  I can’t say too much without giving away the story, but that camper taught me a lot about making assumptions about people, and inspired a major part of the plot of Finding a Voice.  

The mental illness in Finding a Voice was a pretty intense part of the story and it felt shocking, but very real in that I could see that there are probably a lot more children experiencing what Jo was experiencing than I had thought, what kind of research did you do for the book? 

I drew from my experience in supporting people with very complex mental health challenges to write about the crisis Jo’s mum experiences.  It is a really tough place for anyone to be in, to hit a wall that requires hospitalization, and I’ve been there with a few people unfortunately.  I think it is important to point out that not everyone struggling with mental illness has these kinds of crises, but yes, I think there must be many kids experiencing mental illness in their family.  These kids deserve books that let them know they are not alone.  

The book also covers communication and the idea that sometimes things can be missed in translation almost, from Jo misinterpreting what Chris wanted to say to people missing her own very subtle cries for help. How important do you think it is for teens to see this and understand that what people say is a lot different to what they are feeling sometimes? 

I definitely don’t want to ‘teach’ teens anything through this book!  It is something I wish I would have realised a lot earlier in life though.  I remember, as a teen, thinking that everyone else was soooo happy and sure of themselves.  It made it harder to cope with feeling so unsure and unhappy myself.  What I didn’t know, was that the kids I envied were often struggling with their own problems.   Some of these problems were pretty horrendous, and there I was wishing I could be as ‘cool’ as they were.  You often don’t know what people are facing.  It makes for interesting writing; but real life requires a lot more empathy than I think is usually out there.   

I thought that Finding a Voice tackled very adult topics for a young adult book, but did it fantastically well in a way teens will have no issue with. Were you always planning on writing for young adults or was it something that just happened? 

Writing for teens definitely just happened—I was half way through writing this book before it occurred to me that it was probably for teens!  Now, I’m not sure I can imagine writing for anyone else.  It’s such a raw age for a lot of people--full of passion, angst and finding out who you are.  This is all great stuff to write about!

As far as tackling adult topics, I think teens are not given enough credit for what they understand.  Also, they are dealing with these topics in their lives so it doesn’t make sense to try to protect them.  When I was writing this book I wanted to capture how it felt to be almost-fourteen-year-old Jo.  If the perspective is that of someone your own age, hopefully it makes difficult topics accessible and easy to relate to.   

I understand you work with people who need additional care and help in their day to day lives, how much of this found its way into Finding a Voice? 

A lot!  I’ve always struggled with the dichotomy of providing the help someone needs and yet facilitating someone to live the life he or she wants to live.  It’s a fine line and one that everyone supporting someone with a disability needs to be mindful of, especially if that person can’t speak up.  It was fun to see this ‘care’ through Jo’s eyes.  Her anger at the lack of respect for Chris at times is very familiar to me.

Are there any major influencers on your writing, any authors who made you really want to pursue the written word? 

Oh, the dreaded question!  This question is so hard to answer because there were so many authors who influenced me as a child.  From the time I was six, until I went to university, everything inspired me—I read everything, and I wrote every sort of story and poem because of these influences.  I loved fantasy writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, and reality writers like Judy Blume.  I loved Scott O’Dell, S.E. Hinton and Madeleine L’Engle.  There were so many more, but it would take hours to mention all of them.

And then, that inspiration turned to intimidation when I started university.  With my love of books and writing, it was obvious I would study English , but I didn’t do well in my first English Literature courses.  I hated discussing books as allegory and motif and I became intimidated to write anything myself.  How could I ever achieve what all of these great writers had?  I wanted to write STORIES, not think about what it all might mean. 

Twenty years later, I finally got the nerve to ignore all of the ‘literary devises’ I learned about in school and just write stories again.  

Do you have one book you will always run to when you want comforting, and if so what is it? 

When I moved to Ireland, from Canada, one of the things I had to leave behind was my books.  I have dozens of boxes of them still stored in my sister’s shed, but they are just too heavy for me bring over.  I miss looking over my shelves to find the particular book I need for the particular hurt or insecurity I happen to be experiencing.  There isn’t one that covers everything; different books take on different meaning as I (hopefully!) change and grow (yes, even adults keep growing).  Luckily, my partner has some of the books I love—but it isn’t the same as having my first loves around me.

For pure comfort I love A.A. Milne’s Now We are Six.  I also love all of Robert Frost’s poems.  I don’t know a lot of poetry, but I do love the way poetry can exactly capture how I feel sometimes.

If you could have coffee and a chat with any author, alive or dead, who would it be and why? (Obviously I know you have probably met quite a few fellow authors so this could be either someone youve already met and would like to again or someone you havent!)

I actually know almost no authors!  In fact I know one, and she is in Canada.  I’m planning to meet Sheila Buglar (a new crime writer who is from Ireland, but lives in England) for a school event this autumn.  I really hope I can meet more authors, because writing is a very isolating thing to do and it would be nice to have others to talk with about the challenges of writing.  

Three authors I adore are Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver and Meg Rosoff.  I am in awe of their works, but they also seem like women who would be incredibly interesting to talk to about life in general. 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer some very interesting questions! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Letterbox Love (#92)


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.


For Review: 

Ironsky: Dread Eagle - Alex Woolf (unsolicited) 

I hadn't heard of this book until it dropped through my letterbox but it sounds pretty awesome. It sounds like a steampunk historical book about a fight between Britain and France. I am very intrigued about it! Thanks to Scribo Books for this. 
Published: 25th September 2014 


This is a finished copy of a book I've already got a proof for that sounds awesome. I am very much looking forward to this but will be finding a new home for this one by way of my stepsons school library I think! Thanks Chicken House! 
Published: 2nd October 2014


NEW LOCKWOOD!! 
I am so excited to find out what happens next in the Lockwood series! I loved the first book and this is definitely going to the top of my tbr pile! Thanks Random House! 
Published: 28th September 2014

The Winter Wolf - Holly Webb 

This has a christmas-sy feel to it and seems really sweet, a middle grade book about wolves and I can't wait to curl up and read it when the weather turns! Thanks Stripes Publishing! 
Published: 1st October 2014