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:


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?


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?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My thoughts on blogging I have returned.  You might not have noticed, but it's been a rare occurrence, me posting on this blog in the last 6 weeks or so.  And, if I'm honest, for the majority of that time I wasn't really sure whether I would be returning from that break or not.  It was pretty touch-and-go for awhile.  But here are some thoughts I had on blogging while I was on my break...

1. Blogging takes up a lot of my time

2. I almost don't know what to do with myself when I go through blogging and reading slumps at the same time

3. I put a lot of pressure on myself

4. I need to find a way to relax and be nicer to myself when it comes to expectations and this blog

5. The community that comes along with book blogging is the best ever

6. I love book blogging too much to stop. At least for now.

So you're kind of stuck with me. (At least for now) And while I did mostly relax and not think about the blog or any of the responsibilities that come with it for many, many weeks, over the last week or so I have been making some exciting plans for the rest of the year and for 2015. I hope you'll stick with me.

I've got lots of reviews I need to catch up on writing, I've got a special non-bookish post going up soon and I will be revealing a reading challenge that I'll be hosting in 2015 that I'm very excited about. So stay tuned.

During my blogging break I mostly just read really trashy romances. Books that I didn't even add to my Goodreads (and some I did) because I felt too embarrassed to admit to have read them! It was glorious.  Now I'm on a Kindle/Netgalley reading kick.  2015 guys.  It's going to be a great year for YA...

What have you been reading lately?  

Friday, October 10, 2014

REVIEW: Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young

I think I'll always be quite excited to read another book by Samantha Young, especially in this series.  I was particularly excited by Echoes of Scotland Street because it features one of my favourite ever characters from the On Dublin Street series of books: Cole.  I really fell in love with Cole as an awkward teenager in Down London Road. But now he's all grown-up and it's his turn to find love in this new book. And man, did I love taking this journey with him.

Echoes of Scotland Street tells us this story of Shannon MacLeod, a girl carrying around a bit of baggage from her previous relationship.  She's decided to move to Edinburgh for a new start and finds a job at a tattoo parlour where she meets sexy Cole Walker.  Immediately Shannon thinks she knows exactly the sort of man Cole is based on his appearance and how strongly Cole comes onto Shannon and she's determined to avoid him at all costs.  Unfortunately (or not!) Cole doesn't share her opinion.

While I do love the sex appeal of Cole Walker and the chemistry between him and Shannon, I did think it was a little bit hard to really get behind Shannon and her perspective of Cole from the beginning. And this is because fans of this series will already be familiar with Cole and know that he's as far from the 'tattooed, bad boy' that Shannon thinks he is - with an attitude and lack of respect for women.  Readers will know this about him but it takes Shannon a lot longer to come to this realisation and in the time it takes her to realise this she's already said and done mean, unfair things to poor Cole which didn't endear her to me initially.

Still loved it though.  Samantha Young writes such wonderful stories that are yes, filled with amazing  and intense romance, but also amazing friendships and this sense of family that goes beyond biological relationships.  A previous criticism of books in the series was that a lot of back story was hashed out unnecessarily but I didn't find that in Echoes of Scotland Street at all.  I thought the story progressed at a great pace and that all of the secondary characters played their parts very well.  I loved seeing Cole's friendship with Hannah from a different perspective and also seeing how Cole fits into this whole On Dublin Street family from an outsider perspective.

A lot of the story line does revolve around Shannon gaining confidence in herself and her abilities again after an abusive relationship and I thought that the author handled this aspect of the story really well.  I love that not only do we see Shannon falling in love with a great guy who for the most part is really understanding and supportive, but also that she manages to find friends, a life, and she's able to explore her own creative side in this book.  I like that in my romance novels. But it isn't just that Shannon is broken and Cole fixes her, they both are coming from dark places and able to explore moving forward together.

Echoes of Scotland Street was captivating and addictive and sexy as hell! I was gripped right from the very first page and Cole Walker is now my absolute favourite Samantha Young love interest. He's so passionate and straight-forward that I couldn't help but fall for him wholly and completely! I highly recommend this book and this series!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Killing Sound Blog Tour: Writing For (Young) Adults by Paul Southern

I'm really happy to be taking part in the blog tour for Killing Sound by Paul Southern, a terrifying story about the London underground and sound waves.  I started reading this book late at night, on my own, in a creaky house and I just couldn't do it. If scary books are your thing, I'd recommend this one!

Find out more about Killing Sound or Paul Southern at his website and his twitter

Writing For (Young) Adults
by Paul Southern 

It is fair to say that my previous novels contained more than their fair share of violence and sexual content. Indeed, there was a surfeit of it. I was dramatizing the lives of young people in Manchester the way it is really lived on the streets. Having taught all ages from 5 to 21, I  also have a good idea of age appropriateness when it comes to writing for and about children. For example, I think most people would agree that giving 11-year-olds a dose of expletives and violence is probably not a good thing (although 11-year-olds play computer games with just that content). Most people would also agree that 13-year-olds should be protected from these things. By the age of 16, however, with the odd exceptions, and despite our best attempts to protect them, most children swear, are aware of what sex is, and have seen 18-rated horror films. The rites of passage have already begun. All of which leaves that difficult 13-16 age range in limbo.

 Teen fiction purportedly covers the ages 10 to 15, while Young Adult covers 12 to 18, or maybe even older. The lines between children’s fiction and YA and adult fiction are policed by adults, of course, who have often forgotten what it was like to be young, and like to read on their behalf. Meanwhile, children just want to be adults. Increasingly, the age they do so gets younger and younger. It’s difficult enough to set boundaries as a parent, never mind as a guardian of the nation’s youth.

 From its inception, Killing Sound was a book written for YA and adults. It was never written for 11-year-olds. Or for 13-year-olds, for that matter. The lowest age I thought would read it was say 14/15. In other words, well on the way to adulthood, coming to grips with growing up, and being aware of the world around them. I was consciously aware of this as I wrote it, edited it, and re-edited it. As a writer, you set your own bounds.

 Frankly, I think there is no difference in writing for YA and adults, except that, in the former, you’re writing largely for teen protagonists. You should never patronise your reader. You are still telling them a story. If a story for a 13-year-old has the word ‘fuck’ in it, society isn't going to collapse. My 12-year-old daughter has used the word talking to friends. I didn't want her to use the word. I’d rather she used a different one, but I guess my parents would have said the same thing about me. Kids want to use the word; it makes them feel grown up. Part of its appeal is the stupid taboo about it.

 Swear words should not be taboo. If they are used in context (or even out of it), they are appropriate. The author is best placed to judge this. No one knows their work like they do. The same goes for sex and violence. It isn’t just profanity and graphic content, either. Difficult or obscure words are sometimes deemed unsuitable for young adults. If a child or young adult comes across a word they don’t know, they should be reaching for a dictionary, not the remote control. How else do they learn?

 Killing Sound has its fair share of violence. It also has a lot of horror in it, both psychological and physical. I think it is important for kids to confront these things, just as the characters have to. Children know what’s at stake. It is only when you measure life against the alternative that it carries any meaning. Death is a constant in the book – not just coping with it, but the experience of it, and understanding what it means to die. Philip Larkin once starkly said, ‘Life is first boredom, then fear. Whether or not we use it, it goes.’ The quote is pinned to the wall above my desk. A good horror novel (or movie) helps us confront that fear and makes us feel more alive. That’s something children, young adults and adults can benefit from.

Killing Sound by Paul Southern out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House)

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Castle by Sophia Bennett Extract

I am currently reading a really wonderful book.  It's the latest offering from Sophia Bennett, one of my favourite UKYA authors.  It's a little bit different to her previous books, in that it's an adventure story about a girl trying to find and rescue her dad, but I think it's pretty special.  Today, I bring you an extract from the book for my stop in the blog tour.  I hope you enjoy!

If you'd like to know more about The Castle or Sophia Bennett, please do visit the following websites:

Extract 1 – The Van

Peta Jones has evaded an attempt to kidnap her by a dark-haired woman she calls the Wicked Queen, and has bunked off school to find the London home of the family she thinks might be holding her father prisoner. The house is partly obscured by a big removal van parked outside ...

I stared up at the gleaming windows, willing someone to look out – some face to give me a clue as to who was inside. But the house was dark behind the shining glass.

After another five minutes, a man came up the basement stairs, struggling with an old-fashioned, upright trunk. He put it on a trolley and wheeled it up the ramp into the van. He was straining under the weight of it. Were the Wahools moving out? Or just going on holiday? Either way, these were clearly not people who stuffed their clothes into the nearest rucksack and hoped for the best.

However, one other thing seemed certain: for the moment, at least, the family was here. Of all the places they could have been, I was right – this was this one.

Was there a cell in the basement, I wondered, near the underground swimming pool? After one simple coach ride, could I really be so close? Dad? Are you a prisoner behind those walls?

I shivered. The air seemed to shimmer. The house, so close, seemed impossibly distant and impregnable. It was eerily quiet. Apart from removal guys, there didn’t seem to be anyone about. The only sounds were birdsong and passing traffic, and a pneumatic drill going off somewhere in the distance.

A black cat jumped on to a nearby wall, curled its tail neatly around its paws and watched me.

I couldn’t stop thinking that Max Wahool could be inside right now, which meant Dad was there too. I couldn’t imagine how, or why. Or rather, I could imagine a million scenarios, but none of them made sense.

My muscles were cramping from all that crouching by the jeep. There’s only so long a girl can pretend to tie her non-existent shoelaces. Even the removal guys seemed to have given up for a while. I straightened up and checked my watch: 12.15. Perhaps they’d gone for lunch. It seemed amazing that they should leave the van open like that, shutter up, with the ramp leading into it, but they had.

Rather like an invitation.

I got a prickle down the back of my neck.

The house looked impregnable, but the van was wide open. I could hear Luke in my head, screaming at me not to, but the thing was ... maths.

The statistical probability of me making it into the van, finding out something useful about the Wahools and getting out safely was, oh, about ten per cent. Or maybe five. Or – the more I thought about it – one. But the family was moving, it seemed, and the chance of me ever seeing Dad again if I didn’t do something, now, was zero. Absolute zero. That’s how it felt to me. And I was the only one who cared enough to try.

This was my chance. The only one I’d get. So I ran.

I was panting by the time I got inside, and I instantly knew I’d made a mistake. The van was half empty. There was a clothes rail to one side, next to the steamer trunk, and some antique chairs and tables held in place with ropes and blankets near the back. What could I possibly learn from trunks and clothes rails? But beyond them all I could just make out one other thing: an ornate writing desk with lots of drawers. Drawers could be full of papers. I ran over to it as fast as I could.

Only one drawer opened and it was empty. I tried the others. Maybe I’d find a letter mentioning Dad, or a photo, or something connecting them, or ... But even as I desperately tried each new drawer, the possibilities seemed increasingly unlikely. You have the power to be way over-optimistic, Peta Jones. Anyway, the other drawers didn’t even budge. Of course they didn’t budge. Why had I ever thought this was a good plan? Oh, wait – I never had.

That’s when I heard voices coming up the basement steps. The removal men, both of them, this time. Perfect. It was as if they’d been waiting specially for this moment.

My eye fell on a clothes rail, packed with garment bags. It felt as though the beating of my heart was powerful enough to catapult me through it. I ducked behind the bags and rearranged them in a solid mass in front of me. Thank God the Wahool family had loads and loads of clothes.

‘You seen what’s in this one?’ the first voice said, in an Australian accent, tramping up the ramp into the back of the van.


‘Basketballs. Dozens of ‘em, all blown up.’

‘What does he need them there for? Don’t they sell basketballs in Italy?’

‘No idea. Guy inside said they were signed or something. How much more’ve we got to go?’

‘Three more boxes? Then the cases and the shopping bags. That’s about it.’

‘Won’t take long.’

The men arranged their boxes in the middle of the van and disappeared again. Somehow, they hadn’t heard my heart pounding.

I could have gone at that moment. Should have done. But I was busy trying to think of excuses. What would I say if they caught me? I’d tell them I lived nearby. I’d say I was curious. I’d say my cat had jumped inside and I’d come in looking for him.

But before I could move, I heard more steps on the ramp. This was someone new, and big. The van shook as he entered. I could smell his aftershave – it was strong, like lemons.

I made a tiny gap between the clothes bags to peep through. Despite the thud of the new man’s walk, he wasn’t bulky like a rugby player; he was like the men in Dad’s old regiment who were experts in judo and karate. His body was lean under his business suit, but solid, and his head was shaved. You could just tell he could beat you in a fight (not only me – obviously he’d beat me – but even someone tall, and mean, and trained). He radiated calm efficiency. This was not a man you made excuses to.

Holding a shallow black box in one hand, he approached the desk. He opened the one drawer that would open, felt around for a minute and took out a key. The key opened the central drawer. He put the box inside, locked the drawer and replaced the key in its hiding place. Then he left. Outside, I heard him call sharply to the removal men.

‘One of you’s always looking after the van, right?’ He sounded brisk, authoritative.

‘Yup,’ an Australian voice assured him.

Really? They so weren’t.

‘Good. Keep it that way.’

‘Sure thing. No problem, mate.’

Oh great. So now they were turning all conscientious. I waited for a few more minutes, then peeped through the clothes to see if they were still outside. Even if they were, I’d use the cat excuse on them and run. It was better than staying here.

At that moment, a car pulled up behind the van. A Range Rover. Dark, with blacked-out windows. I peered into the light and adjusted my vision. The driver’s door opened and a woman got out.

Ingrid – the Wicked Queen. Right here. Right now. Right in front of me.

My heart beat so fast I thought it might blow itself up.

Stupid idiot, Peta Jones. You went straight to them.

As she locked the Range Rover with a quiet ‘beep’, I heard somebody call across to her: Muscle Man. ‘So you’re back. Where’s Marco?’

‘I left him there,’ she said. Her accent was clipped and sounded German now she wasn’t trying to hide it. I watched her through the garment bags.

‘Does he have the kid yet?’ Muscle Man asked, coming into view.

‘No. He’s staying down there to get her. I’m bringing the car back because he said it was too con ... con ... It stood out too much.’

‘Conspicuous,’ Muscle Man said. ‘Yes, I can see that.’ He sounded unimpressed by her grasp of English, and also her grasp of kidnapping.

‘Anyway, Marco will finish the job tonight,’ she said crossly. ‘He has the equipment.'

‘Good,’ Muscle Man said. ‘The boss is waiting. He’ll join us later with Miss Yasmin. Madam is still in Paris, shopping.’ He almost spat out the word ‘shopping’. Obviously that wasn’t something he was very impressed by, either. ‘So – Southampton docks, nine-thirty tomorrow. Marco must have the kid by then.’

‘Oh, he’ll have her. Alive and kicking.’

He laughed at that. A short, sharp, satisfied laugh.

‘How’s the princess?’ Ingrid asked.’ Is she ready?’

‘Magnificent,’ he said. ‘The best in her class. She’s everything he wanted and more, they tell me. And yes, she’s ready.’

They walked out of sight, but as they did so, the removal men came back with more bags and boxes. They made a couple more trips while I hid as far into the shadows as I could.

I waited for everything to go quiet again. I was ready to run as soon as the coast was clear.

What I wasn’t ready for was for one of the removal guys to come back, pull down the shutter and lock me in the dark. I wasn’t ready for the engine to start up and the van to move off, with me inside it.

I wasn’t ready for that at all.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Top Ten Underrated UKYA Authors

I know that it's been awhile since I took part in a TTT, but I couldn't pass up this week's topic. I was going to film a video about underrated authors but it's always more fun to do things with a group of people, so I'm doing this instead!  Top Ten Tuesday, as ever, is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Do visit her site to visit other people taking part in this week's topic!

In no particular order, here are my top ten underrated authors.  They are all British authors who write YA. I came about this list by checking my Goodreads page and ranking my 'read' books by the books with fewest ratings. It's a very scientific approach, really. Sometimes I impress myself.

Liz Bankes

Liz Bankes is the author of three wonderful, funny, romantic books: Irresistible, Undeniable and, most recently, Unstoppable.  All three books are companion novels of each other and focus on a similar group of characters as they navigate their friendships, identities, jobs, and relationships.  I love all three books for their humour, their friendships and for all the lovely boys we meet. There's plenty of tension and awkwardness and I wish more people were reading and talking about her books!

Vanessa Curtis 

I really love Vanessa Curtis' books.  She is the author the Zelah Green books - Zelah Green and One More Little Problem - about a girl who is dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder and also the Lilah May books - The Taming of Lilah May and Lilah May's Manic Days - about a girl with rage.  She's also written a ghost story calling The Haunting of Tabitha Grey and most recently a middle grade story, The Baking Life of Amelie Day, about a teen baker who also has cystic fibrosis. Each of her books have been quite emotional and felt very different to other books I've read. I love the range of topics covered and how easily it was for me to really care about the characters.

Helen Grant

Now, I haven't yet read many books by Helen Grant but based solely on the strength of her two books in the Forbidden Spaces trilogy that have been published so far - Silent Saturday and Demons of Ghent - I really want to hunt down her other books.  I absolutely love Silent Saturday and Demons of Ghent. They're both set in Belgium and cover urban exploration and the ways in which the main character, Veerle, finds herself involved in difficult (and illegal) situations with some dangerous people.  I love the way these books unfold, how emotional they are and how absolutely tense and suspenseful they are!

Lydia Syson

I think that historical fiction writers are kind of overlooked? Especially in YA? And I think that's an absolute shame.  I've read and loved both of Lydia Syson's YA novels - A World Between Us and That Burning Summer - and I think she has a wonderful skill of really drawing me into her stories and letting the historical detail wash over me really seamlessly.  I'm not usually a big of historical fiction, but I am when Lydia Syson writes it.  A World Between Us tells the emotional story of three people during the Spanish Civil War and That Burning Summer is about a Polish pilot who crash lands in England and cannot face returning to war.  Both books are fascinating and gripping reading and count amongst my favourite UKYA.

Phil Earle

Love Phil Earle. His debut book, Being Billy, will always be one of my favourite books and it's one that made me feel a whole range of things. And everything else he's written - Saving Daisy, Heroic, The Bubble Wrap Boy - has been written with such warmth and heart as well.  It's been a very emotional experience reading Phil Earle's books but I look forward to it always.  He's published the first in a series of middle grade fiction next year and I cannot wait.

Candy Harper

Now I've only read one book by Candy Harper so far (but have read her dystopian book written under the name CJ Harper called The Disappeared and really enjoyed that!) but I found it hugely funny and entertaining and I can't think why more people haven't been picking it up and raving about it.  It's called Have A Little Faith and there's already a sequel, Keep the Faith, which I'm looking out for to read next.  I love the main character's attitude and self-centredness SO MUCH. I did the full range of smile to snort to full-on belly laugh reading some of Faith's adventures!

Sharon Jones

I've said it a million times, but I love Sharon Jones' books. Her Poppy Sinclair novels - Dead Jealous and Dead Silent - are really incredible and I'm constantly recommending them to people. Not only do I love the thriller aspect of the books, I also love the main character, her love interest, the setting and the fact that religion plays a part in both books. I love everything about these books and I can't wait to read more by Sharon Jones!

Julia Green

Julia Green is perhaps the author that I've read the least from on this list, but I'm very sure that that will change in the very near future. I just love how gentle Julia Green's stories are. Especially This Northern Sky which I absolutely adored. I love how much family and friendship and the setting felt like the main focus of the story.  It was also beautifully written in a way that made me quite desperate to visit the Scottish islands.
Theresa Breslin

Theresa Breslin is another historical author who I absolutely adore. I've only read a handful of her novels but everything by her that I've read, I've loved. And it does make me want to read her entire backlist too. My favourites of hers being Divided City about the religious divide between Catholics and Protestants in Scotland, Prisoner of the Inquisition and also Spy for the Queen of Scots.  Wonderful characters and settings!

Sita Brahmachari

I haven't read all of Sita Brahmachari's books (yet) but those books I have read make me want to read her others.  She's the author of five books for teens: Artichoke Hearts and Jasmine Skies which I believe are in a series together. There's also Kite Spirit, about a girl who goes to the country to recharge after the suicide of her best friend, and also Brace Mouth, False Teeth a Barrington Stoke book about a girl's work experience at a care home.  All of her books are filled with wonderful characters and settings! Her new book, Red Leaves, is being published this month, I believe.

Which authors would you consider as being underrated?

Monday, September 08, 2014

REVIEW: Say Her Name by James Dawson

I was quite pleasantly surprised by Say Her Name by James Dawson. I'll admit, I did go into this book hoping that it would scare the pants off me and while it didn't quite reach that level for me, I did find Say Her Name consistently and, at times, uncomfortably creepy.  I loved that there was this thread of unease that really built up throughout the story and that there felt like quite a bit of tension.  Plus? I absolutely love the cover.

Say Her Name is the story of Bloody Mary and how the legend of this ghost manifests itself in the lives of a group of teenagers at a boarding school.  It all starts off as a bit of a joke at a Halloween party, when our main character, Bobbie, her room mate, Naya, and a local boy, Caine, end up in front of a mirror invoking Bloody Mary's name. Nothing happens immediately however, unfortunately for the three characters in Say Her Name, that isn't where the story ends.  Things start happening.  Nightmares, scary reflections in mirrors ...and then more.  There's a race against time for these three characters to find out what they can about Mary and this curse in order to save themselves.

I think my favourite aspect of this story is how much I came to care about the characters. Bobbie is a wonderful main character. I think she's funny and witty and has the best dialogue throughout the story.  I liked her relationship with her room mate, Naya, and how they interacted with each other.  And I also really liked Caine as a love interest, especially with how lacking in confidence Bobbie is to believe anything could happen.  But I think the thing I loved the most is what these three characters come to find out, in their search for answers, about Mary's past and how this curse came about. I think it could have been quite easy to not give Mary a back story but I found myself feeling a little bit sorry for Mary's character and I think that made this story a lot more interesting for me.

It also had lots of elements of scariness and horror.  I did read parts of this book late at night, in bed, alone and I found myself succumbing to some of the creepiness, especially with the elements of water and reflections.  My only complaint with the book is that I would have liked the ending to have gone in a different direction. I felt like the conclusion of the book took something away from what the author did with the Mary's back story and motivation.