Friday, December 19, 2014

The Night Before A Book Lover's Christmas...

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin... the Bookish Brits and I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year by reading you a little story.  A story you might be familiar with, but with just one or two small changes...





This will be my final post in 2014, I hope you have a great time over Christmas and New Year and I will see you lovely people in 2015!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Books of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is to list your top ten favourite reads of 2014.  Usually I really struggle to narrow any list down to just 10, but these ten books jumped out at me immediately and I'm very happy with them as being favourites of the year.  In no particular order...




Salvage by Keren David

Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Raging Star by Moira Young



Trouble by Non Pratt

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini



Lies Like Love by Louisa Reid

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Night School: Resistance by CJ Daugherty



Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton

What have been some of your favourite reads in 2014?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is about new-to-me authors that I discovered in 2014. I love this topic and I love discovering new authors. I aim to discover many more in 2015! 

In no particular order... 

Robin York

This year, I read Robin York's two new adult books Deeper and Harder.  I thought they were both really good and I was really surprised by the depth to them as well as how emotional I felt when reading them.  After reading terrible NA book after another, reading these two books gave me hope that the new adult genre can be different.


Cammie McGovern

I absolutely loved Amy and Matthew. I was really surprised by it.  I loved both the main characters and how much we came to know about them and watch them both grow individually as well as in a couple.  I'd love to see more books like this - to see more characters with OCD or with long-term illnesses and conditions like cerebral palsy.


Clare Furniss

The Year of the Rat is one of my favourite books that I've read this year. And it's down to the wonderful, emotional story that Clare Furniss has written.  Grief and anger and family and friendship and love of all types.  It was really great read, Year of the Rat, and I'm looking forward to reading more by the same author.


Non Pratt

I didn't really discover Non this year.  I've known her for awhile and she's a fab person and friend. But this year I finally read her written work and her debut book, Trouble, was absolutely amazing.  I'm ridiculously excited for her second book, Remix.


Sarah Crossan

I think Sarah Crossan is my favourite discovery of 2014.  On a whim, I had bought her verse novel, The Weight of Water on my Kindle and this year I finally read it.  I loved it so much that I recommended that my book club read it who then all read it and enjoyed it too.  I was very much looking forward to reading Apple and Rain this year, which while it wasn't in verse as well it did contain elements of how powerful and important poetry is.  I loved them both and will certainly be reading Sarah Crossan's previous books in the near future!


Louisa Reid

I read Lies Like Love by Louisa Reid this year and I feel like it was the most powerful book I read all year.  It really packed an emotional punch for me and I ended up feeling so many strong emotions when I read it.  I loved the complicated family relationships and the element of mental illness and also the romantic aspects of the book.  It was definitely hard to read in places and might not be everyone's cup of tea but it was certainly mine. And I can't wait to read more by Louisa Reid! 


Emma Carroll

I'm not a huge reader of historical fiction but every time I say that I think I end up reading more and more historical fiction that I absolutely fall in love with and rave about.  And that was definitely the case for The Girl Who Walked On Air, this historical middle grade adventure novel about a young girl who is a Victorian tight rope walker.  It was exciting, it was emotional and I absolutely fell in love with everything about this book.  I definitely want to read more books just like this!


Holly Black

During the summer holidays, I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and I fell in love.  Not only with Holly Black's writing and this interesting story line, but I was also hugely impressed with the amount of diversity that was included. It really, really made me excited to read more by her. Starting with her newest, The Darkest Part of the Forest I think...


Brigid Kemmerer

Another surprise for me this year was reading and loving the first book in the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer.  I'd heard good things about the series but I really didn't think the series would be something I would enjoy. Little did I know! The first book was utterly addictive and I couldn't help but fall in love with all of the brothers at the same time. I can't wait to read more in this series and get to know all of them.


Leigh Bardugo

2014 was the year I finally read the first book in the Grisha trilogy! I've downloaded the second book onto my Kindle and I have a feeling that as soon as I finish the second book I'll want to dive straight into the third.  I loved the world-building in Shadow and Bone, I loved the characters and the relationships and I can see myself very easily falling into this world completely.


Who are some authors that you discovered in 2014?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year. And while I do know that, generally speaking, I do not often get book shaped parcels amongst my presents under the tree, this year I am only asking for one or two suggestions for books to add to my growing library.  Thank you for you time and consideration and for everything you do.



Pantomime and Shadowplay by Laura Lam

I know that I've already read these two books, but as you know, they are two of my favourite ever books and this series is just so amazing that I feel like you'll understand why I need physical copies of them both.



Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

This is a two-fer in that both the book and the film adaptation are both items on my Christmas list, if you please?  I'm just in that mood these days to get back to this story in any medium possible and I feel like my life is missing something vital for not having either of these things.




Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier

I feel like you know exactly why this book is on my list already.  The first book in the series, Born Confused, is one of my all-time favourite books and is definitely the YA book that I've reread the most. I really cannot wait to see what Dimple is getting up to and I don't remember being this excited about a book...


Everybody Leads To You by Nina LaCour

I've heard such wonderful things so far about both Nina LaCour and specifically this book.  It certainly goes along with my goals for reading more diversely. I think it's a story that I'll appreciate.  If you would be so kind.

I'll be leaving a mince pie and a carrot out for you as always!

Yours sincerely,

Michelle


Thursday, December 04, 2014

REVIEW: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

This review was originally posted on this blog on 20 December 2010 and has had some minor editing changes.

I bought Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle during the summer and saved it to be read before Christmas. With three such awesome YA authors, I figured I really couldn't go wrong. Let It Snow is a collection of three intertwined, Christmas-inspired short stories, each written by one of the authors. The stories are as different as the authors themselves as each put their own little quirks into the story and their characters. It's Christmas eve, and a blizzard has stopped a train from passing. There, in Gracetown at a waffle house, three couples find love. New love, love staring you right in the face and love thought loss. I thought each story was quite cute and gently romantic, but also like each story needed a little more time and words for me to fully connect emotionally.

Let It Snow opens with Maureen Johnson's contribution, The Jubilee Express. The main character of this short story, Jubilee, has found her Christmas eve plans change dramatically after the news that her parents have been jailed during an annual shopping trip to buy the latest collector's piece in a Santa village. Jubilee's parents are so crazy about this limited edition village that they've named their only child after one of the pieces. With them in jail, instead of the festive evening planned with her perfect boyfriend, Jubilee is on a train to Florida. When a blizzard prevents her train from going any further, Jubilee treks over to a Waffle House where she meets Stuart who invites her to his house for the holidays.

I liked Maureen Johnson's story, The Jubilee Express, very much, but I think she had the hardest job. She's trying to set the scene for the other two stories and introducing the different characters that we'll meet later on as well as telling Jubilee's story. Some of the details included during this setting-the-scene stages felt a little strange and out of place but it all makes sense in the end. I think if I was a teenager reading this story, I wouldn't have had as many hang-ups with it. I was questioning Jubilee's decisions the entire way. She's obviously making choices that a typical teenager would make, leaving the train and crossing a freeway, leaving the waffle house with a complete stranger, telling said stranger intimate things about her relationship and so on, that I probably cannot relate to anymore. It was a fun story and Maureen Johnson has such a great eye for detail and humour. 

Then, John Green's story, The Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, sees Tobin and his friends The Duke (also known as Angie) and JP heading on their way TO the waffle house in order to spend the evening with a bunch of cheerleaders to play Twister. This story seemed a lot more fun and had an element of a road-trip with the different disasters and setbacks that occurred. I really loved the relationship between Tobin and The Duke. And The Duke is quite a fun character, as she's trying really hard to make clear to Tobin that she is actually female and worthy of attention. JP provides some great side-kick material and the requisite humour that one would expect from a John Green story. As I said, the only real problem I have is that I would have liked a little bit more from each story.

Lauren Myracle brings up the rear with her story, The Patron Saint of Pigs, involving a Starbucks employee dealing with a breakup with her boyfriend. Addie did a terrible thing and now she no longer has a boyfriend. Instead, she's dealing with the fact that she may well be self-absorbed and it takes a lesson from one of her customers and an adorable little teacup pig to lead her back to love. Lauren Myracle is the author that I have the least experience with, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this story. But it was quite cute, if a little slow to get to the love and romance bits. How much do I want a teacup pig now?! Also?  A venti gingerbread latte.

All in all, I found Let It Snow to be a really light, fun and Christmassy book to read. I'm glad that I waited until December to read it and I'm hoping for snow this year.

Monday, December 01, 2014

I support #WeNeedDiverseBooks



I have two very simple reasons for supporting the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.  This is a photo of both of them:


These are my two children.  On the left, is The Littlest who is 6. On the right is E, who is 9.  These two boys have grown up in a household raised by a second generation Indian father and a first generation mixed-race American mother.  They are made of 50% British-Indian, 25% Native Alaskan and 25% white.  They've had questions over the years about their heritage and we are a family that is proud of our heritage.  On my list of things that have to be done are to show both these boys where they come from and we will be taking trips to both Alaska and India in the future.

These boys live in a world where mixed race and diversity amongst their classmates is a lot more common than when I grew up in a very white, middle class neighbourhood in the United States.  Whereas I always felt like I stood out with my brown skin, my two boys don't where children of colour make up more than  a third of their classrooms.



Both of my boys are readers.  They've seen me reading on a daily basis since birth and both boys share this passion with the written word.  And I want them to see a reflection of who they are in the books they read.  I want them to see the world and all the diversity in it amongst the books they pick up.  I want my two boys to see different people of colour, different religions and cultures. I want them to be introduced to different religions and see people with different abilities and sexualities.  Because diversity is all around us and to not reflect these differences means that they are not important and worthy.

I love that the WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is a thing and I love that it's getting so much suppport.  And it's something I feel very strongly about.  I pledge to do more on this blog to celebrate diversity.  Look out for more posts and reviews very soon that will be highlighting diversity in books.  POC, sexuality, religions, ability, mental illness.  A mirror needs to be held up to it all.

Friday, November 21, 2014

British Books Challenge 2015 - Sign Up Page



Hello! Today I have a very exciting announcement: in 2015 I will be hosting the British Books Challenge.  I have participated in this particular reading challenge for the past fours years and I'm crazy excited to now be hosting it myself.  I have a real passion for reading and supporting British authors and I really do hope that you will join me in this very special reading challenge in the new year.  I have to say a massive thank you to Rhys from Thirst For Fiction for designing this year's blog button! 


So what is the British Books Challenge?


The British Books Challenge is a reading challenge that will be running here on Fluttering Butterflies between 1st January to 31st December 2015 and the main focus of the challenge is reading and reviewing books by British authors.

This challenge is available for all bloggers and/or booktubers who review books on their blogs, YouTube channels or readers who review on other websites such as Goodreads.

If you sign up for the challenge you will be aiming to read at least 12 books by British authors (which works out to one a month). 

For every book you review each month you will get an entry into the draw to win a monthly prize pack (assuming that you've left all appropriate links on the monthly link page!) Therefore the more you review the more chances you have at winning that month's prize(s). There may also be some kind of special prize draw for those challenge participants who have gone to the most effort over the year and reviewing 50 or more books by British authors. 

As prize packs are mainly being sponsored by British publishers I'm afraid that some of the prizes will only be available for UK participants but I hope that international bloggers will still take part. I will try to host a couple of international giveaways throughout the year but this will be dependent on my own personal finances.  Please be aware that you may have to provide me with your address which may sometimes be passed on to a publicist in order for your prize to be sent out.

In terms of what books would count towards the challenge - the books can be in print or out. Old or new titles. They can be from any genre and for any age range. In previous years Becky and Kirsty focused mostly on young adult books on their respective blogs, and Sarah's reviews for the challenge spanned many genres and age ranges. The primary focus on Fluttering Butterflies will be on YA and MG, however feel free to read any books by British authors and have those books count towards the challenge: children's books, middle grade, young adult, new adult, or adult fiction or non-fiction. 

If you have any questions about the challenge then make sure you check out the FAQ page HERE

I have to say a massive thank you first to Becky for originally creating the challenge and also to Kirsty for hosting it in 2012 and to Sarah for hosting from 2013-2014. All three of these amazing women have put in an incredible amount of work towards promoting British authors and I hope I can do half as well as they did next year. Special thanks to Kirsty for letting me pretty much cut and paste her FAQ and sign up pages!






To Sign Up:



  • Write a blog post or page on your blog or upload a video to your YouTube channel linking back to this one.
  • In that post/page/video compile a list of titles by British authors that you hope to read and review during 2015. If you are not yet sure, just add one or two and update as and when you read titles with hyperlinks to your review.
  • Insert the British Books Challenge button onto your blog's side bar. To do this save the button you like onto your computer, then go to add gadget on your sidebar to put the picture on your blog adding a hyperlink to it of the url address for this post. For Youtubers, please include the graphic within your video.
  • Fill out the Mr.Linky form below. Do make sure the link you add goes directly to your sign up post and has your blog/channel name as the title. Links to anything other than sign up posts will be deleted and only people who have created a sign up post will be eligible to win the monthly prize pack. This is very important step!
  • And finally, as you review the books on your blog/YT channel, update the monthly review pages with a link to your review. Every link up you add will be an entry into that month's prize pack (although some of the prizes may be donated by publishers only willing to send to the UK).

Exciting Extras:

I am absolutely delighted to tell you I have had a huge amount of support and encouragement in the planning of this challenge from UK publishers.

These wonderful publishers / authors have agreed to provide British bookish goodies for prize packs which can be won by the challenge entrants (I will be updating this list as new prize packs are confirmed)

Sponsor details coming soon

Watch out for the review link up post each month for details of what you could win.

If you are a publisher who publishes books by British authors or British author who would be interesting in promoting their titles through the British Books Challenge giveaways please contact me by email.



Current Participants in the 2015 British Books Challenge:

British Books Challenge 2015 - Frequently Asked Questions

I am super excited to be hosting the British Books Challenge in 2015. I have been a participant in this reading challenge since the very beginning and I love being to able to read and support my favourite authors. I'm really hoping that quite a few of you will continue to choose the British Books Challenge as a reading challenge you will accept in the new year!  Very big thanks to Rhys from Thirst For Fiction for creating the brilliant graphic for this year's challenge.

I would suggest following this blog using your preferred feed subscription (by email, Google Friend Connect, BlogLovin', Feedly etc) in order to keep up with the latest news and posts regarding this challenge throughout 2015!

Here are a few of the FAQ concerning this challenge:




So what is the British Books Challenge?


The British Books Challenge is a reading challenge that will be running throughout from 1st January to 31st December 2015 and is all about reading and reviewing books by British authors.

This challenge is available for all bloggers and booktubers who review books on their blogs, YouTube channels or readers who review on other websites such as Goodreads.

If you sign up for the challenge you will be aiming to read at least 12 books by British authors (which works out to one a month). 

For every book you review each month you will get an entry into the draw to win a monthly prize pack (assuming that you've left all appropriate links on the monthly link page!) Therefore the more you review the more chances you have at winning that month's prize(s). There may also be some kind of special prize draw for those challenge participants who have gone to the most effort over the year and reviewing 50 or more books by British authors. 

As prize packs are mainly being sponsored by British publishers I'm afraid that some of the prizes will only be available for UK participants but I hope that international bloggers will still take part. I will try to host a couple of international giveaways throughout the year but this will be dependent on my own personal finances.

In terms of what books would count towards the challenge - the books can be in print or out. Old or new titles. They can be from any genre and for any age range. In previous years Becky and Kirsty focused mostly on young adult books on their respective blogs, and Sarah's reviews for the challenge spanned many genres and age ranges. The primary focus on Fluttering Butterflies will be on YA and MG, however feel free to read any books by British authors and have those books count towards the challenge: children's books, middle grade, young adult, new adult, or adult fiction or non-fiction.

Sign up for the British Books Challenge 2015 HERE


What books would you suggest that I read for the British Books challenge?

I will be writing many a blog post throughout 2015 to give you any and all recommendations but until then, Sarah, Kirsty and Becky have provided this fabulous round-up of links for other suggestions and recommendations: 

A great resource for information about British authors of YA books is the UK-YA blog, they even have a list of the Top 100 UK-YA titles (as voted by readers of the blog) which should give you plenty of suggestions!

There are some great YA suggestions on Kirsty's UK-YA shelf on Goodreads HERE or Sarah's Goodreads HERE You can also see what books I've read for the challenge on my British Books Challenge shelf HERE 

Since 2013, I've maintained UKYA lists on Goodreads which has tried to be comprehensive lists of the UKYA that was published in each year. You can see those lists: UKYA in 2013, UKYA in 2014 and UKYA in 2015 While I make every effort to maintain that these lists are accurate, the occasional non-UKYA title has slipped through

You can always check my own tag 'British books challenge' for Fluttering Butterflies which has over 200 reviews and blog posts concerning British authors over the years. HERE 

If you're on Twitter, following the hashtag #UKYA usually is an interesting place to find out about newer or older titles.

You can always have a look through other participant's review links on the monthly link up pages once the challenge gets started. I'll add links to each month's post below.

These links by no means include the only books that count towards the challenge but hopefully they'll help you get started.

Don't forget to post links to your reviews each month for your chance to win prizes:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

How did the British Books Challenge come about? 


The BBC is a reading challenge that was created by Becky from The Bookette in 2011 as a way to encourage people to read more books by British authors. The challenge was taken over by Kirsty at The Overflowing Library for 2012, was  hosted by Sarah at Feeling Fictional between 2013 to 2014. And will now be hosted with me, Michelle at Fluttering Butterflies throughout 2015. 

Before we continut with the FAQ, I have to say a massive thank you first to Becky for originally creating the challenge, to Kirsty for hosting the challenge in 2012 and to Sarah for hosting the challenge in 2013 and 2014. All three of these incredible women have put in a huge amount of work promoting British authors and I hope I can do half as well as they did next year. 

Special thanks also goes to Kirsty for letting me pretty much cut and paste her FAQ and sign up pages! 

And finally, an absolutely massive shout out to Rhys from Thirst For Fiction for being hugely creative and generous by creating this year's wonderful blog button. I hope you'll agree that it looks wonderfully classic and absolutely stands out. Thank you, Rhys! 


I post reviews on more than one blog. Can they count towards my challenge total?


Yes.


I am an international entrant and sometimes I do not have time to write my reviews in English. Can I write them in my native language?


Of course. It would be helpful if there was a little summary in English so that I can comment but as long as you make sure the book's title is translated somewhere on your post then it is fine. I'm delighted that international bloggers are going to help promote British authors.


Do Irish authors count towards my challenge total?


No. Ireland is not part of the UK. The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Authors who live in any of these four locations can count towards the challenge.


How about authors who were say born in America (insert any other country here) but are currently living in the UK?


Yes, we are using the following criteria to decide whether an author can count towards the challenge:

  • Authors who were born in the UK, live in the UK and are published in the UK
  • Authors who were born overseas but are CURRENTLY living in the UK and his/her books were/are being published in the UK first
  • Authors who were born in the UK are currently living overseas but his/her books are being published in the UK first

Top examples of authors born in other countries but who currently reside and are published in the UK and count as being 'British authors' include Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff, Moira Young, Laura Lam, CJ Daugherty etc.  We love these authors and we claim them as our own! 

I know it can be tricky to work out if X author counts towards this challenge so if you are not sure about a particular author, please do contact me and I'll see what I can do to help!


I do not have a blog but I would love to take part. Is there a way that I can take part?



If you have an account on Goodreads or another book review website you may still join the challenge. Sign up by linking to your profile page and make sure you link directly to your reviews each month to be eligible to win the monthly prize packs.


I am a publicist promoting a book by a British author (or indeed a British author). Can I promote my book via the British Books Challenge?


Yes. If you would like to donate prizes to the monthly prize packs that would be fantastic. Please contact me via email to discuss this further.  I really do appreciate the generosity of publishers and authors who have donated books as prizes in the past and I hope that this continues in the future!


Can I count books that I have already counted on other challenges?

I don't see why not.


I have a question that you haven't answered here. How can I contact you?


The best way to contact me is by email, I will reply to all emails as quickly as possible but sometimes life gets in the way so please bear with me if it takes me a couple of days to respond.
I do have a twitter account (@cloverness) and love to hear all thoughts/comments regarding the BBC there, however, email is still your best bet towards hearing back from me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

REVIEW: All Broke Down by Cora Carmack

I didn't much care for the 1st book in the Rusk series, All Lined Up, if I'm honest, so I didn't begin All Broke Down, the second book in the Rusk series, by Cora Carmack with particularly high expectations... I only vaguely remembered the characters introduced to me in All Lined Up, but sort of remembered thinking Silas Moore would be an intriguing, complicated character. 

And he turned out to be. I really loved seeing his vulnerability in this book. I quite easily fell for him and was rooting for him from the beginning. Even though both him and Dylan both had their issues to address in their personal lives, it felt like his was the bigger journey and I loved seeing him transform into someone more mature and responsible and fighting for what is important. Plus? God, he's sexy. And him and Dylan had all kinds of crazy, hot chemistry. 

Basic plot of the story? Silas is the bad boy from the football team who gets into a fight and lands himself in jail. While in jail, he meets Dylan, a political activist who took things too far on a protest possibly down to some other things going on in her life. The two decide to work together to clean up Silas's image so that he is able to remain on the football team. Meanwhile, sparks fly between them.

While I liked Dylan's character on the whole, I did find the political activism included in the book to be slightly cheesy at times. Of course, sometimes, particularly in the last third of the book, I felt like the whole theme of injustice just really worked. I kind of wanted to see Dylan's relationship with her parents to be explored more fully as well. I feel like this was only briefly touched on and more depth in this area was needed to round out her story line.

All in all, reading All Broke Up was a great way to spend an evening. I think even if I am sometimes disappointed in this series (as I was with the first book) I'll also still probably continue to give the series more and more chances because sports in books is just something that I find myself attracted to.  More sports!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Sequels I'm Dying to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and asks bloggers to participate by listing their top tens on a particular topic. 



This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is SEQUELS I'M DYING TO READ. How very exciting. I did want to keep my list to be entirely UKYA but I did sneak a couple other books in that I can't help but be extremely, extremely excited for.  So without further ado, here we go. Books are in no particular order.


P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

This is the sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before which I read recently and I absolutely loved.  I just adore Jenny Han in general and I cannot wait to see where this story will go. I really liked Lara Jean and her relationships with both her sisters and the different romantic entanglements she gets into.  Please get into my hands quickly!


Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale! Rachel Hartman! AHH! I absolutely LOVED Seraphina SO MUCH. That I can't help but write in CAPITAL LETTERS when thinking about a sequel.  Dragons and music and political intrigue. This sequel had been delayed and the publication date had been put off but I don't care. I want this book BADLY.


The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I quite enjoyed the first book in the series, The Winner's Curse.  I thought it had a great premise and showed off a great and complicated relationship between the two main characters. I found myself quite surprised by how emotionally invested I became in this world and with these characters. I can't wait to find out more!


Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens

I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Murder Most Unladylike! With a passion.  I wanted to be both Hazel and Daisy's best friend and I was desperate to go to this school and go on bun breaks and solve murders. It sounds like amazing fun and I have really high hopes and expectations for Arsenic For Tea!  Plus? Great covers.
Frail Mortal Heart by Zoe Marriott

I'm such a huge fan of Zoe Marriott's! And I adore this new trilogy.  Frail Mortal Heart is the third and final book in the trilogy and I think I'm going to be worried about MY heart whilst reading it.  I love the characters, the Japanese mythology and especially the friendships.  Great stuff.
The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

The Falconer, the first book in this trilogy, is a book that I've absolutely RAVED about since I first read it. It's fast-paced, it's exciting, it has amazing characters and friendships and relationships. It's set in Scotland and killer fairies ... and oh, I'm in love with Kiaran McKay.  I NEED this sequel and I need it now.


Stung by Joss Stirling

I've loved absolutely everything I've read by Joss Stirling so far. Especially the books in the Benedict brothers series. But Stung is the second book in a new series about smart, teen detectives. The first book was initially called Storm and Stone but I believe it was renamed Struck when published in ebook format. This follows on with different characters and it doesn't even matter to me what it is about. It's Joss Stirling, so I will definitely pick up this book and read it (and love it.)


Endgame by CJ Daugherty

The end of Night School! Am I ready emotionally? No, no I am not. But maybe I will be by the time this book is published. Night School really has been one of my favourite recent series. I love that it's contemporary, I love how exciting and action-packed it is as well as having some really emotional friendships and romantic relationships. It's great stuff all around and I will be sad to see the end of this series.  (But how exciting is the news of the Night School web series?!)


Urban Legends by Helen Grant

I've been a huge fan of the Forbidden Spaces trilogy since the beginning! I absolutely adore Kris and Veerle and I'm going to be so sad when it comes to the end of their story. I've become very emotionally invested in their lives and their relationship that I don't know how I'll be able to cope. Plus, it's set in Belgium and there's some great legends and folklore that I've been introduced to that have been really fascinating.
Poppy in the Field by Mary Hooper

I'm not a super big fan of historical fiction but I have been finding recently that I do enjoy certain time periods more than others. And I've been loving what I've read about WWI lately. Especially this book by Mary Hooper which really sucked me in.  I can't wait to find out how this story and these characters get on!


What are some of the sequels that you're most looking forward to?!

Friday, November 07, 2014

REVIEW: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

I wasn't quite sure what to make of Hard Time by Cara McKenna when I first received it.  Adult romance isn't something that I read a great deal of AND it's a story about a romance involving a convicted criminal whilst he is in prison (which sounds more than a bit iffy!) but this book came along at a time when I was feeling adventurous... and I'm really glad to say that I absolutely loved it and after reading it I immediately decided to seek out more books by the same author.  There was just so much to enjoy about this book that I couldn't resist.

So, Hard Time tells this story about Annie, a librarian, who as part of her job goes into a prison once a week in order to run different courses for the inmates in order to promote literacy.  On her first day she sees Eric, one of the prisoners, and she's immediately drawn to him: his sexy good looks, his bad boy vibe. And this crazy and intense attraction is shared by Eric. And very quickly, Eric ends up writing Annie a love letter.

Now honestly? I think I could fall in love with the most unsuitable person in the world once he's written a love letter.  There's just something about putting thoughts and feelings into words that can make most things sexy.  And while I feel like things between Eric and Annie get a little hotter a little quicker than perhaps I was ready for, I really enjoyed seeing how things progressed between the two of them. Also, I loved that there was more to this story that each of the characters had to overcome.  In particular, Eric's dysgraphia was an interesting addition to the story. I'd never heard of the term dysgraphia before but I assume it's more common than most people realise.

Eric and Annie are an interesting couple. Annie is still reeling from a past abusive relationship and at times I felt uneasy about her exchanging letters with Eric considering her background, but I could also see quite clearly that through Eric she was reclaiming something that was taken from her. I liked witnessing her grow in confidence again. And as for Eric, as I was reading, I was thinking it could have been a lot easier for Cara McKenna to turn his character into something easier for reader to digest - if, for example, Eric was innocent of the crime or if the crime was something more 'acceptable' - it would have been a lot easier for readers to fall for him and root for happiness for all involved. Instead, we have a convicted criminal charged with assault who has committed the crime and admits to choosing the same course of action in future.  It really made for interesting reading when Annie learns of this and watching her struggle with this information as well as her growing attraction not only to Eric's physicality but also to what she reads in his incredibly romantic, sexy letters.

I was really surprised by how addictive I found this book.  I found myself really sympathising and relating to both of the main characters and I did want the best for both of them. I felt really sorry for Eric throughout because in his letters and the way he speaks and behaves, it really does come across as him not believing that things can be real between him and Annie, especially when the two have to face the realities of an actual relationship.  Hard Time was a really sexy, emotional and addictive story to read and I really did love it.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Blogger tea with Zoë Marriott

Very recently, the lovely Annalie from Walker Books invited me and some other amazing bloggers to have tea with Zoë Marriott and it was absolutely the best time ever...

I'm laughing because of how long it took to get a decent shot of us both! 


There was cake and sandwiches, awesome conversation, a sneaky peek at an excerpt of Frail Mortal Heart, a cover reveal, books being signed and probably (for me) most excitedly, I was able to interview Zoë for the Bookish Brits.  It was wonderful.  It was my first time interviewing someone in person, but I'm quite happy with the ways things turned out. I didn't, in fact, edit a single bit of the footage so that's another first! Here's that interview, do let me know what you think, it was a pretty nerve-wracking experience for me.




I do love Zoë Marriott's books so much.  On our name labels at the blogger tea, it did ask what our favourite of her books is. It was a tough decision, because while I ADORE the Name of the Blade series and know that the trilogy will become a favourite once Frail Mortal Heart is published, my favourite (for now) is still Shadows on the Moon.

Andrew, Cicely, Daphne and Caroline


During the tea, Zoë was absolutely great at answering loads of questions about her research into Japanese mythology and some exciting ideas for future projects amongst other things.  There was also quite a lot of discussion about diversity. It made me really happy that diversity and how important it is to be included in books was at the forefront of so many conversations.  At the same time, Annalie (her editor) and her cover designer were on hand to provide some great insights into how both of their roles shaped the finished books.  I thought it was all completely fascinating and I loved that I was able to share in this whole thing with everyone.  Including some of my favourite bloggers!

Kirsty, Laura and Vivienne

What a fantastic day it was.  I went home with a sackful of signed, dedicated books, the first chapter of Frail Mortal Heart and a big smile on my face. Thank you again to Zoë Marriott, Annalie Grainger and everyone at Walker Books for being super stars.  Here, for you all, is the cover for Frail Mortal Heart which will be published July 2015!




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Most anticipated UKYA in 2015

I am so excited for so many books being published in 2015, I really am. It sounds like (and I think I say this every single year!) that 2015 is going to be the most amazing year for YA fiction. And especially for UKYA which has continued to grow and hopefully will catch a bigger spotlight.

Here is the very top of my list of most anticipated titles coming in the new year.



The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell

I'm not even sure when or how I first heard about The Last Leaves Falling but I think it sounds incredible. I'm so excited for this book. This book is being published by Definitions, an imprint of Random House, on the 29th of January. Definitely add it to your wish lists!  Here is the summary...

And these are they. My final moments. They say a warrior must always be mindful of death, but I never imagined that it would find me like this . . .

Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.



Othergirl by Nicole Burstein

I absolutely adore the cover and product description for this one. And I've found it really interesting witnessing Nicole's journey towards publication as I've followed her on Twitter for a very long time.  I really can't wait to get my hands on this one. It's being published by Andersen on the 2nd of April.  Here is the summary to tempt you further...

Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They're closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers.

When Erica isn't doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero's BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can't win every fight by herself.

Life isn't a comic book - it's even crazier than that.




The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

I loved seeing the #WhatisNormalFlashmob last week as the cover was revealed. And what a stunning, stand-out cover it is. I absolutely adore it.  Luckily, I do have a review copy of this book and by the time this post is published, I'll probably have already read and loved this one. But I still want to highlight this title here.  Already I've heard such amazing things about this book and I feel like it'll be the one to read in 2015. It's being published by David Fickling Books on 1st January. Here's more about it...

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. 

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. 

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…



Under My Skin by James Dawson

Don't Hot Key Books produce some absolutely stunning covers? Look how amazing and eye-catching this latest from James Dawson is? It's published by Hot Key Books on the 5th of March and I'm really looking forward to it. I love the sound of a book involving a sinister pin-up tattoo.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Feather is not exactly a rebel. Her super-conservative parents and her treatment at the hands of high school bullies means that Sally’s about as shy and retiring as they come – but all that’s about to change. Accidentally ending up in the seedier side of town one day, Sally finds herself mysteriously lured to an almost-hidden tattoo parlour – and once inside, Sally is quickly seduced by its charming owner, Rosita, and her talk of how having a secret tattoo can be as empowering as it is thrilling. Almost before she knows what she is doing, Sally selects sexy pin-up Molly Sue, and has her tattooed on her back – hoping that Molly Sue will inspire her to be as confident and popular as she is in her dreams.

But things quickly take a nightmareish turn. Almost immediately, Sally begins to hear voices in her head – or rather, one voice in particular: Molly Sue’s. And she has no interest in staying quiet and being a good girl – in fact, she’s mighty delighted to have a body to take charge of again. Sally slowly realises that she is unable to control Molly Sue… and before long she’s going to find out the hard way what it truly means to have somebody ‘under your skin’


The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

And last but absolutely not least is this lovely looking book! Again, no idea when or how I first heard about this book but everything about it from the gorgeous cover to the book summary make me slightly desperate to read this one. This fab sounding fantasy book will be published the 5th of March from Scholastic. More about the book...

A startling, seductive, deliciously dark debut that will shatter your definition of YA fantasy.

16-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner.

As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

---------------------------------------

...Obviously this is just a small portion of the titles I'm excited for. Others include new books by Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Patrick Ness, Keris Stainton, Helen Grant, Zoe Marriott and Cat Clarke.

What books are you most excited to read in 2015?

Friday, October 24, 2014

On going to concerts...

Earlier in the year, N and two other friends and I had this discussion about concerts and it started with a question.  If you had the chance to see any 5 artists (currently alive and still performing) in concert, who would those five artists be and why?

I thought it was a pretty difficult question to answer and I struggled to come up with 5 living artists because a lot of my favourite music and bands and things were from when I was growing up. Those songs stick in my head from then.  But we did end up with this smallish list of bands/musicians we'd love to see.  And then N went on a hunt for concert tickets and upcoming events...

Which is pretty exciting for me as I've only to two concerts. And actually one of those is probably better known as a 'gig' (though it makes me roll my eyes to type that).



Before children, N surprised me with tickets to see my favourite singer at the time, Enrique Iglesias.  I had made plans with some high school friends ten thousand years ago to go see Enrique in concert and sadly it never happened.  So N did his very best to make it happen and I love him for that.  That was my first ever time at a concert.  And while I don't really follow Enrique Iglesias' career anymore, I still have very fond memories of that concert.


Then, a lovely, lovely friend of mine who I used to work with in a bookstore invited me out to see this quirky singer, Rosie Thomas, in one of those intimate little venues.  And I loved it.  Afterwards I bought Rosie's album and it is still the album I return to when I need a pick-me-up (even though N thinks it sounds like a really depressing bunch of songs). Whatever - It's just so lovely and gentle and I love it so.  But that gig was years ago. Also before children.  The video I've (hopefully) embedded isn't my favourite song on the album, but I do really like it...

Which brings me to the point of this blog post.  Tonight, N and some friends and I are all going to see Nerina Pallott in at Union Chapel in London.  It'll my 3rd ever concert and I cannot wait. I've been listening to Fires and The Graduate and Year of the Wolf on repeat for weeks. I love Nerina Pallot. Geek Love is one of my favourite ever songs.



Which five (still living and performing) artists would you most like to see in concert?