Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wedding Playlist by Lisa Williamson - All About Mia Blog Tour

I am very happy today to be taking part in the blog tour for UKYA book, All About Mia by Lisa Williamson!  I really loved Lisa's debut book, The Art of Being Normal and I'm hugely excited for All About Mia.  A story about sisters is a story that I will pretty much always want to read.  Not convinced? 

One family, three sisters.
GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. 
AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. 
And MIA, the mess in the middle. 
Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers. 
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. 
But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

Today Lisa is here to share with us all the All About Mia wedding playlist!  (Listen along to the actual music here while you read why Lisa chose each song) Weddings! They're so my favourite, even - especially - if dramatic things happen.  Over to you, Lisa... 

Wedding Playlist by Lisa Williamson

I love a good wedding. Always have, probably always will. Ever since my beloved Auntie Joyce got married when I was seven and I wore a yellow dress and straw boater hat and ate so many sausage rolls I was almost sick, I've been hooked (seriously, it was one of the best days of my life). I've since been to more weddings than I can count and enjoyed every single one. I love having an excuse to dress up for once and stick on a pair of sparkly shoes. I love seeing all my mates wearing their best outfits and looking all shiny and smiley. I love watching the happy couple get the giggles exchanging their vows. I love that magical hour between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast where you get to stand around drinking prosecco on an empty stomach. I even love the speeches. But the thing I love most of all, the bit I really look forward to, is when the tables are pushed aside, the lights go down and it's time to dance.

Wedding DJs are generally considered the bottom of the DJ hierarchy. Which is madness. The perfect wedding playlist is a work of art and I’m prepared to have it out with anyone who thinks differently. I once went to a wedding where the groom (a self-confessed music snob) hired his mate (a fellow music snob) to DJ the reception. For the next three hours he played all his favourite records to a deserted dance floor, ignoring every single one of my requests. My disappointment was acute. There's a time and place for so-called 'cool' music and a wedding is neither. Weddings are about shared joy and nostalgia. They're about dancing like no one's watching. They're about doing the Macarena and the Locomotion and discovering you still know the routine to 'Saturday Night' by Wigfield. Wedding discos are the polar opposite of cool and this is why I love them so much. It’s also probably why I was so keen to write a wedding in All About Mia.

The wedding in question is that of Mia’s parents. Having become engaged as teenagers, twenty years later they finally get round to tying the knot. Unfortunately, their day doesn’t turn out as picture-perfect as they planned, largely thanks to the drunken antics of their middle daughter Mia. One thing that is on point though, is the disco.

I was delighted when my publisher liked my suggestion of including the wedding disco playlist in the back of the book. After much deliberation, here are the twelve songs I narrowed it down to:

Back for Good - Take That

This is Mia’s mum and dad’s first dance. The lyrics are actually a bit sad considering the happy occasion:

Got fist of pure emotion
Got a head of shattered dreams
Gotta leave it, gotta leave it all behind now

However, it was number one when they got together twenty years earlier and has been ‘their song’ ever since. Grace performs a version of it during the wedding ceremony, much to Mia’s annoyance.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston

Pretty much the perfect pop song, I think I’ve requested this at every single wedding I’ve ever been to. The second Whitney goes ‘woooooooo!’ over the opening bars, I’m in musical ecstasy. ‘How Will I Know’ (also by Whitney) has the same happifying effect.

A Little Respect - Erasure

I LOVE eighties music. It’s the music of my childhood and makes me feel instantly nostalgic for disco floors filled with dry ice and dancing rainbow lights. The bit when Andy Bell sings ‘I’m so in love with you’ gives me proper intense feels every single time.

Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon

A modern classic. Best played towards the end of the night, by which point the female guests have kicked off their heels and the blokes have abandoned their suit jackets and wrapped their ties round their foreheads like Rambo and everyone’s jumping around like idiots.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyoncé

No explanation required. Dance routine compulsory.  

Got My Mind Set On You - George Harrison

I picked this one in tribute to Mia’s mum and dad and their epic twenty-year engagement. The lyrics were just too perfect to ignore:

It's gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It's gonna take patience and time, um
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it
To do it right child

Walking On Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves

Who can resist that beat? Not me. I asked a few friends for their favourite wedding disco songs and this was fellow YA author Non Pratt’s excellent contribution. This is another one you can’t help but dance like a crazy person to (the only way to dance at a wedding in my opinion).

We Are Family - Sister Sledge

‘We are family, I got all my sisters with me!’ The perfect soundtrack to a story about three sisters, this was a no-brainer. In an alternative version of the Campbell-Richardson wedding, where things don’t go completely tits-up, I like to imagine Mia, Grace and Audrey having a ball dancing to this together.

You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall & Oates

My friend Dale is a wedding DJ and was kind enough to share his most played songs with me, of which this was one of them. Indeed, it featured prominently at Dale’s own wedding. Immortalised in the film 500 Days of Summer, this is total musical sunshine and makes me smile every time I hear it.

Higher and Higher (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) – Jackie Wilson

Romantic and uplifting with a great beat, this is THE perfect song to play at a wedding.

You and Me Song – The Wannadies

Another song designed for jumping up and down to with your mates. The unassuming verses make the rousing chorus all the more joyous to yell along with. A cheesy must.

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

Mia’s anthem. If you read the book, you’ll probably work out why.


Thursday, February 09, 2017

What I Write To by Rebecca Denton - This Beats Perfect Blog Tour

Today I'm really happy to be hosting this wonderful guest post by debut author, Rebecca Denton, for This Beats Perfect.  This Beats Perfect sounds really amazing. I'm loving books about music and fandom lately. Here is the summary for this book, then over to Rebecca...

Amelie Ayres has impeccable taste in music. Bowie. Bush. Bob. So when she finds herself backstage at The Keep’s only UK gig she expects to hate it; after all they are world’s most tragic band. In fact she feels a grudging respect – not (obviously) for their music, but for the work that goes in to making them megastars. And when lead singer, ‘Maxx’, is not dressed up as a cross between Elvis and a My Little Pony, he is actually rather normal, talented and has creative struggles not too dissimilar to her own.

But the next morning she wakes up rolls over and discovers a million new @’s on social media. Overnight a photo of her backstage has made her a subject of global speculation. Suddenly the world needs to know #Who’sThatGirl? – but for all the wrong reasons.

All Amelie wants is to play her music. She’s got the guitar, the songs, the soul and, in the safety of her bedroom, she’s got the voice. But when it comes to getting up on stage, she struggles with self-doubt.

Immaculate’s a concept. Flawless is fake. But just sometimes music – and hearts – can rock a perfect beat.

I’m one of those people that works well with a ton of distraction. The TV on, the radio on, music, whatever - for some reason I’m more comfortable working when there’s noise. There’s something nice about dipping out of the world you’re creating and having a constant atmosphere of inspiration to dip in and out of.

Last year, the Nobel’s caused great controversy by awarding the prize for literature to Bob Dylan.  There were lots of book folk angered by this for various reasons, the New York Times had a piece that simply argued by giving the award to him, a musician, a writer missed out.  And in these times of declining long form reading, that is a damn shame.

But when it comes to telling stories, in my opinion lyrics can be as potent as any poetry.  Here are a couple of the artists that inspired me when I was writing This Beats Perfect.

Regina Spektor

You might know her as the writer of the OISTNB theme song, but there’s so much more to her than that track. If there was ever an artist that made me want to start writing, Regina Spektor was the one. When I saw her play in a pokey little place off Tottenham Court Road over 10 years ago, she sat at a piano and sang/told these brilliant, eccentric stories that were just so mind-blowingly creative.  After a decade of guitar rock I felt like someone blew open a door to a whole new room.  I feel the recorded music sadly lacks that raw brilliance I saw live back then. But it’s still magic.

Tom Waits

Nothing makes me happier than songwriters who are theatrical and flamboyant storytellers and therefore I heart Tom Waits. As an artist, he is the *real deal* my friends – and there is no one I’d rather see live right now. Preferably in a dark, dingy wine bar in Berlin or Paris.  Prepare for heartbreak:

Get a taste of his theatrics; check out this classic interview with a perplexed Australian. This interview was apparently the inspiration for Heath Ledgers The Joker.

Monday, February 06, 2017

I Love You... Goodbye

Main text originally posted on 24 February 2009, entitled 'Meet My Dad'

My father was born in 1947 in Eugene, Oregon but the family soon moved around northern California and finally settled in a little town called Benicia. His father worked in contruction and his mom was one of those perfect 50s mom that you hear so much about. She was famous for her cooking and baking, she grew her own fruit and vegetables. As much as he was a boy's boy, he was also a big time Mama's boy as well. He had two older brothers and a younger sister, who nicknamed him 'DD'.

He had one of those childhoods that reminds me of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and he took inspiration from both, sailing down rivers into places he shouldn't go. He ran wild and had adventures. He got into trouble and used up so much energy that he never went to bed but passed out at night mid-activity.

He was loved by teachers and students alike. Smart but a class clown, and at an early age started tutoring younger students and those less capable in maths. He joined the swim team to enormous success. Competitive swimming became a huge part of his life as he won trophies and medals. He worked hard and long to be the best. There was talk of him trying out for the Olympic swim team but an accident beforehand prevented this from happening. (He jumped into what turned out to be an empty swimming pool trying to impress a girl and broke his kneecap.)

Despite having a full-ride sports scholarship to Indiana University, instead, he enlisted in the army. He spent three tours in Vietnam. He could have come home earlier than he did, but he stayed. He was shot down from his helicopter three times. The third time, a bullet went through his calf, all the way up his body. It hit his spinal chord. He had to relearn how to walk and speak and spent a great deal of time in physical therapy.

After the time spent in hospital, he travelled, lost himself. Stories from this period of his life include drugs, alcohol and even the Hell's Angels. More trouble. He spent a great deal of time by himself, trying to recapture something good in himself after the horrors that he witnessed and participated in during Vietnam. To this day, he's still plagued by nightmares, still suffers the affects of the war. He's 33 when he meets my mother. He's living in Seattle, a caretaker for the apartment building she lives in. He falls in love ... with David, my mother's 5 month old son. He'd do anything for this chubby little boy. Two years later, I arrive.

We lived in seclusion in Alaska for 7 years, before my dad felt comfortable living near other people. We moved to Oregon, got our first dog. He stayed at home and looked after us. He was there when we had the chicken pox and poison oak. It was him that fostered my love of reading, encouraged my brother to try out for sports. My dad volunteered as a maths tutor when I was in middle school. He has a great ability to get boys to understand algebra by using sports analogies. He became very active in the wrestling team and became a sort of mentor to most of the team.

Of course there were problems. His relationship with my mother, the divorce, his pent-up anger which stem from his war experiences. He made some bad decisions, but through it all, I've always know that he's loved my brother and me. He was a single father for so long. Drove us to sports practices, took us on holidays. Supported my decision to marry at such an early age and move across the country. He gave me away on my wedding day.

He's led a very interesting life, I'd love to write his biography one day. I bet I wouldn't be able to capture him at all. He has such a loud voice, a personality that people are drawn to. Children everywhere flock to him. He is generous to a fault and gives away most of his possesions every time he moves. The first time he came to visit, he managed to transform a group of strangers on the tube from being stony-faced and unable to look anyone in the eye to laughing and discussing the differences between England and America.

He is a devoted grandparent. He can't see enough pictures of the two boys, he loves every story I tell him about what they're up to. He calls Elliot 'Buddy' and Elliot calls him 'Baba'. The point of my story is this: this time next week, my dad will be here for a three week visit. I am very excited.

Kenneth D Reeve
15 October 1947 - 5 February 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Wrap-Up

So, one of my New Year's resolutions was to find my love of my reading ...and I'd say I'd pretty much found it based on the amount that I've read in January! Hurrah. That's such an amazing feeling.  Now if I only I could work on the blogging and booktubing, eh?  One step at a time though.

Books read in January

1. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
2. Consumed by Abbie Rushton
3. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
4. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
5. Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
6. Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
7. Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel
8. We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
9. Crush by Eve Ainsworth
10. Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
11. Snow Sister by Emma Carroll
12. The Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
13. Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew
14. The Last Beginning by Lauren James
15. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
16. salt. by nayyirah waheed
17. nejma by nayyirah waheed

Total read in January: 17
Total read in 2017: 17

What a fun collection of books for the start of the year. I love the mixture of YA, non-fiction and poetry there.  I think the key for me to continue reading and to avoid a book slump in the future is to mix things up in terms of genre and type of book.  I really hope this surge of reading continues. I have missed it.

January Book of the month

I've chosen Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer as my book of the month because of the impact it has had on my life.  I'm currently in the process of switching over to becoming vegetarian.  This is something I feel strongly about, however I need to be aware of how that will impact on N and the boys.

Books reviewed in January

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Consumed by Abbie Rushton
The Memory Book by Lara Avery
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Lots more reviews this month than in previous months, so that's a nice change.  Back in my peak blogging days it'd be more like 12-16 reviews a month, so there's still some more improvement to be had.  We'll see though.  I don't want to pressure myself needlessly.

Other posts in January

Happy New Year!
British Books Challenge 2017
Wing Jones Photo Blog Tour
Fluttering Butterflies Turns 11
February TBR

A paltry amount of other blog posts this month.  I do have PLANS however it's just been easier to fall back into writing reviews than it has been to sit down and write some of the other more detailed posts that I've been mulling over.  Hopefully they'll be coming at you soon enough.

Booktube videos in January

October-December Book Haul
Michelle Talks Future Videos

Ah, booktube. How I have missed you.  Baby steps though.

My progress in reading challenges:

British Books Challenge

Consumed by Abbie Rushton
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Crush by Eve Ainsworth
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
The Snow Sister by Emma Carroll
The Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew
The Last Beginning by Lauren James

Total in January: 10
Total in 2017: 10

I've been reading a ton of books by British authors lately, it feels pretty good.  Let's hope this keeps up throughout the year, especially as the British Books Challenge is the only official reading challenge I usually take part in.

Read My Own Books 

Last year I half-heartedly tried to read some of my own books.  This year I'm hoping to do the same. Mostly to clear some space on my shelves but also I just like reading a variety of different types of books.  I read 8 books I bought myself in January but I'm not counting any of them because they were all e-books and part of this challenge is to read physical books!


I decided to re-dedicate myself towards keeping a high feedback ratio percentage on Netgalley, seeing as it's been hovering around the 89-90% mark.  This month I read 4 Netgalley books, wrote reviews for many, many more. I currently have 15 unread books from Netgalley that needs to be read and reviewed in order to be fully caught up. I can do this.

What have you been reading and loving in January?

Monday, January 30, 2017

February TBR

Do you guys remember several years ago I used to hold a month-long event on this blog called Love Month? It was basically a celebration of romance in YA and I would read lots of different types of romances and have giveaways and interview authors and have guest posts and everything? Do you remember? No? That's okay.

It was something I really enjoyed doing but it was also a lot of work.  And it got to the point where I'd get blogger burn-out trying to cope with all of the expectation that I put on myself.  But also, every year since then I've wanted to do it again, even unofficially.  So this year I thought I'd just go for it.  None of the other times I did Love Month had a theme but most of the books I read for previous Love Months didn't include that many LGBT romances either.  So for this year's Mini-Love Month event, I thought I'd only read books involving an LGBT story line.  Because why not?  Unless you're an author of an LGBT story line or you're just a fan of LGBT books and want to volunteer to be interviewed or provide a guest post, I won't be doing much else in February except read and review some (all?!) of the following books.  But it should still be fun anyway. At least for me!  Here are some of the books I'm hoping to get to during the month of February...

Physical Books

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

The Robin Talley was a leftover review book from early last year, or the year before? SORRY. The Adam Silvera is obviously fairly new and I bought Wildthorn in a library sales age ago.  I think I also have Hero by Perry Moore in my loft. I'm not sure, so I won't count it here just yet.

Netgalley Books

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Dreadnought by April Daniels

There are some mighty intriguing upcoming books with LGBT story lines, yo. I am excited. I also really wanted to keep the number of books I've requested from Netgalley to an absolute minimum until I have enough time to read and review the other books I've requested (8 of them which are over 3 months old!) but I literally could not resist any of these four books above. I have no regrets.

E-Books I Own

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Openly Straight by Bill Konisberg
Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
As I Descended by Robin Talley
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

What can I say? I've been stock-piling this collection of LGBT YA reads for awhile! Mostly because despite this month in which I'm focusing on just LGBT YA reads, reads involving these story lines are something I want to read year-round as well. Which is why I've been buying these books on the regular. I think I'm most looking forward to reading a lesbian retelling of Macbeth in As I Descended. MORE LGBT retellings, that's what I say. But also If I Was Your Girl too.  I've heard good things.


If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn
Run by Kody Keplinger
Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee

I really think that I have enough to work with in the previous three categories but I thought I'd share with you some of the titles highest on my wish list. Which isn't actually because I want to read them more than the others on my list, these are just the cheapest on my list. Hush. No judgement. I only buy cheap e-books. Because I'm a cheapskate. The Sara Farizan and CB Lee books would probably be at the very top because they're also by POC authors and I feel like that's important too.

Will you be reading any LGBT books in February?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fluttering Butterflies Turns 11

Yesterday was my 11th blogiversary here at Fluttering Butterflies. 11! How amazing is that. I feel such a sense of ...pride and achievement at sticking with this for so long.  I should really do something more than this to celebrate but I'm literally writing this last minute because this anniversary surprises me every single year and I'm not very organised.

11 Books I recommend

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Jessica's Ghost by Andrew Norriss
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
Fracture by Megan Miranda
The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett
Far From You by  Tess Sharpe
The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale
Bird by Crystal Chan

These books are some of my favourites of the last few years, since I started keeping track on Goodreads anyway.  All of these books have been read during my time as a book blogger. I realise that all of these recommendations are ...fairly similar. I think you can look at a list like this and see mostly straight away the type of reader that I am.  I love emotional, contemporary stories with a bit of darkness to them.

11 Upcoming Books I'm looking forward to

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett
The Jungle by Pooja Puri
A Change Is Gonna Come by Various (Stripes)
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
The Pants Project by Cat Clarke
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
The Fallen Children by David Owen
One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

I think 2017 is looking pretty exciting for YA releases, don't you think? I'm so looking forward to all of these books. I love supporting books by UK authors in particular, which is why they feature so heavily on these lists.

11 Books on my TBR I haven't read (But really want to!)

Here I Stand by various
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence
Mind the Gap by Phil Earle
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Most of these books have fallen victim to my horrendous reading slump that has mostly lasted between 18 months and 2 years. So while I've been incredibly excited about some books ... the books such as above usually go unread because I'm just not in a reading mood.  But I hope that my slump has left me (at least for awhile yet!) so that I can make some good progress in reading these books and others!

11 Authors I recommend

Non Pratt
Cat Clarke
Melina Marchetta
Courtney Summers
Phil Earle
Zoe Marriott
Tanya Byrne
Jenny Han
Keris Stainton
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Sarah Crossan

Hard to narrow this list down to just 11 authors I love without double-posting the same books and authors in more of these lists.  Melina Marchetta is my absolute favourite ever author, I think.  But every author on this list deserves their place there.

I contemplated ending this blog post with 11 book bloggers and booktubers that I admire, but I couldn't possibly limit that to 11 or even 22 bloggers or booktubers. It isn't possible. But you know, my favourite thing about this blogging thing is the community that has sprung up around me. It was such a lovely, unexpected bonus to what my idea of what book blogging would entail. I never would have guessed that you all would be so warm and welcoming and supportive.  Thank you for being bookish and for letting me tag along.

Here's to the next 11 years... 

Friday, January 27, 2017

REVIEW: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr was ... a very different read.  It was unexpected.  And I definitely think that how different I thought this book would be is the reason that I was so attracted to reading it in the first place.  And while I did like it, I wasn't entirely blown away by the story of by Flora Banks. But I wanted to be.

This is the story of Flora Banks, 17, and she is someone who has anterrograde amnesia, which means that she has no permanent memories before 7 years ago when she was in an accident.  She can only hold new information in her head for a very short period of time, at the most several hours.  So to get by, she writes notes on her arms and post-it notes, takes pictures on her phone, writes in a diary etc filling herself in on the events and important stuff between then and now. She's on medication, she's well looked after by her parents and her best friend. We meet Flora at a party, her hands say 'Be brave' and she goes onto leave the party and kisses a boy on a beach.  Unfortunately it happens to be Flora's best friend's boyfriend who she kisses but the thing to be taken from that night is that Flora remembers the boy, she remembers the kiss, the beach, all the details of that interaction.

The thing with her memory though means that as the narrator to this story, Flora loses a lot of information.  Which she then relearns shortly after and that makes Flora's story really quite repetitive in parts which felt grating in the middle.  I also found Flora's voice to be hard and factual which made it difficult for me to warm to her. I also wasn't thrilled with the idea of her chasing down a boy with her 'this boy will save me' thoughts but I felt like that was at least handled towards the end.  The only relationship I wanted to explore more (as I didn't love Drake with the same fervour as Flora!) is the one with Jacob, her brother.  This book needed more Jacob, in my opinion.

I think the thing in particular that I loved the most about Flora is that she is courageous.  She really takes that 'Be Brave' on her hand to heart and instead of cowering indoors where she knows she'll be safe, she continuously tries to do different things, change herself, her circumstances and her life.  Going so far as trying to track her brother, Jacob, down, as far as experiencing new things and tracking a boy down to the Arctic in order to find out more answers about why this kiss stuck in her head when other memories did not. I loved that about her.  I wish more people were a little bit more Flora.

This book was a definitely interesting read. I'm glad to have to read it, I just wish things had been slightly different.

This book was read and counts towards the British Books Challenge 2017. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wing Jones Photo Blog Tour

I absolutely adored Wing Jones by Katherine Jones! Which is why I'm hugely pleased to be on the blog tour, AND to be the final tour stop. Below we have Katherine Webber sharing one of her favourite quotes, I hope you enjoy it.

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter@kwebberwrites

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos! Now, over to Katherine Webber...

Whew! If you’ve been following along this whole time, WELL DONE! I hope you aren’t bored of my face and that you enjoyed finding out about my path to publication and what inspired me! I wanted to end the #WJPhotoTour with something to inspire other aspiring authors and writers. This is one of my favorite quotes, I have it on a postcard next to my bed. Being a published author is a dream come true, but I started writing because I love it. Because it makes me happy. Everyone’s path to publication is different and unique. Don’t get discouraged. Maybe it won’t be by the time you thought you would, or it won’t be with the first book you write, or even the second. Have hope. You’ll get there.

REVIEW: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

I so loved Wing Jones by Katherine Webber.  Wing Jones is definitely a book that I heard a lot about, way before publication date, and I'd been looking forward to reading it for some time.  I am sometimes nervous to start such books, for fear of them not living up to expectations.  But this book? This book was beauty and love and hope all wrapped up in this gorgeous cover.

Katherine Webber has this great way of writing. A very visual, imaginative style and I absolutely adored it, and Wing and her family right from the start.  We're quickly introduced to Wing Jones, half-Chinese, half-Ghananian and her family of single mom, bickering grandmothers and an older brother who soaks up all the limelight. This story is set in Atlanta in the mid-90s, and I loved it so very much.

I guess the biggest, most enjoyable thing for me in this book was witnessing Wing's transformation after a tragedy occurs involving her older brother, and how Wing chooses to adjust to this new life in which her brother isn't the shining beacon that she's always looked up to, always believed to be perfect. In her anger and sadness, she goes on on night-time runs and finds she's really fast and good at running.

Wing Jones has such a great cast of characters.  My favourite characters are, of course, Granny Dee and LaoLao, Wing's two grandmothers who are constantly arguing in this way that was both sad and adorable. But I also loved Wing, herself, some new friends she makes throughout her journey, seeing Marcus as a more complex person as Wing's brother, Monica, his girlfriend.  And then there's Aaron, Marcus's best friend and Wing's crush.  I really loved seeing Aaron through Wing's eyes.

Wing Jones is a story that has so much going for it.  I loved the little glimpses into what Wing goes through when meeting strangers and their confusion as to how her family fits together.  I loved these things because I could relate to them so much, same as the stares, the looks, the questionable things people say like it's okay (it isn't). It has this cute romance to it but also really complicated and emotional family relationships and friendships.  But as I've said before, the highlight for me is Katherine Webber's writing style, in bringing all of this together she weaves this beautiful story together of picking ourselves up after tragedy, of finding who we're meant to be.

This book counts towards the British Books Challenge 2017. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

REVIEW: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

I'm lately very curious about co-written novels.  How they originated, how they work, who writes what, when.  I find it fascinating.  It makes me think of future pairings, dream writing teams...

And this book, We Come Apart, written by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan is very intriguing. I've read books by Sarah Crossan before and loved everything she's written and also read the one book by Brian Conaghan and found it very unusual and interesting. This pairing isn't one that would spring to mind naturally, but I think it worked very well.

We Come Apart is a novel told in verse. I love verse novels, I think they manage to convey so much depth and emotion in fewer words and I'm usually in awe of that fact. This book manages that very well.  Some of my favourite poems were quite short but each word managed to hit a place in my heart.

This is a dual-perspective verse novel told in alternating chapters from the two main characters. Nicu is a Romanian immigrant in the UK with his family. His parents are hoping to earn enough money for Nicu to return home and marry, though Nicu is struggling with the limitations on his future. And Jess is also struggling in her home life that is overshadowed by an abusive step father.  The pair meet after being caught shoplifting and sentenced to community service.

I think one of my favourite aspects of We Come Apart is how subtly it engaged my emotions. As in, I wasn't fully aware of how much I had to come to care for both Jess and Nicu until something more dramatic began to happen in the last quarter of the novel that made me realise that what I was feeling was shock, anger and devastation.

My only complaint about this book is that I wanted it to be longer. Well I appreciated the ending that this book has, I also wanted more.  I wanted more of these characters and to learn more about their stories.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

REVIEW: The Memory Book by Lara Avery

The Memory Book by Lara Avery ended up being an incredibly quick book to read that was emotional but not overwhelming.  I'm glad I gave it a chance and I loved how sweet the book ended being.

I was a bit conflicted about reading The Memory Book by Lara Avery.  The cover itself makes it look like a book I'd want to pick up and flick through... but once I found the story revolves around 17 year old Sammie with a rare disease, Niemann-Pick Type C, a genetic disease similar to dementia in which Sammie will slowly lose her memory as well as other cognitive functions, I was a little less keen.  Only because a member of my close family suffers from dementia and I worried that this book would feel like too much

Luckily for me, this book is very readable.  There were moments of heart-break, but the overall tone of the book is very positive and hopeful and that comes across very well within this book.  It's essentially Sammie's diary as she tries to make sense of this condition she's living with, trying to record the important events but also as she's trying to work towards her goals, her new relationship and the rest of her life as it is becoming.  

I think the fact that Sammie is quite young and dealing with this disease and also her character's approach towards it made it far easier to read her experiences.  Yes, she's going through something awful, but she has such a good attitude about it that it felt harder to feel sorry for her and I think even her denial that she might not achieve some of her goals  is what helped create some distance in the emotional aspects of the story line.  

Because Sammie is such a driven character. She's determined to do All The Things: win the national debate championships, be valedictorian, go to New York for university. She realises that Niemann-Pick will affect her life in some ways but she's determined to live out her goals anyway.  I also enjoyed her burgeoning friendship with ex-friend, Cooper, and new love interest, Stuart.  It was nice to see that this book was very much about the experiences of a teenage girl with romance and troubled friendships.  I loved everything else going on in Sammie's life.  

But I think ultimately what I enjoyed the most about this book is that it is a very life-affirming story of hope and love and slowing down and treasuring the things most important to us. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

REVIEW: Consumed by Abbie Rushton

Consumed by Abbie Rushton was a really, easy readable book.   Right from the beginning I wanted to know more about the two main characters, Myla and Jamie and I wanted to know more about their individual situations. I liked that the story includes some aspects of mental health but at the heart of it, Consumed is a thriller and the identity of who did it kept me guessing!

The two main characters are Myla and Jamie and they're sort of thrown together in a well-meaning attempt at kindness between Myla's parents and Jamie's aunt.  Myla is suffering from panic attacks and agoraphobia after the murder of her sister two years ago, and Jamie is staying with his aunt for the summer following some troubles at home and a problem with eating. It is thought that perhaps the two could be good for each other and, after a rocky start, they seem to be!

I liked that the two main characters are both dealing with mental illnesses.  While I feel like Rushton's portrayal of Myla's agoraphobia and panic attacks didn't feel quite like it hit the spot for me and that perhaps other authors have done this better, I did appreciate the addition of a male teenager with an eating disorder.  I'd very much like to see more of this in YA. Jamie is really struggling throughout this story about eating and control and I really liked that his aunt in particular was quite supportive of Jamie's route towards recovery.

Aside from the thriller aspects, which I'll get to in a minute, and the mental health issues, my favourite part of the book is that Myla is a food blogger and spends a great deal of her time indoors cooking food and writing blog posts about food.  I'd love to read some of her blog posts! I loved the variety from the origins of carrot cake, Mauritian food, and her attempts at the perfect recipe for chilli brownies, I think it'd make for fascinating reading.

In fact, Myla spends a lot of her time online. From updating her blog, her online friendship with a girl called Eve ... but she's also interested in setting up a website that exonerates the man who has been convicted of her sister's murder.  This is obviously a contention between Myla and her family and is the basis of the thriller-ness of Consumed. I think the small-town setting helped this story along, as well as the different characters and how Abbie Rushton weaved everything together. I was definitely doubting many characters throughout the story unfolding and I love to be kept guessing like that!

So while there were some faults with Consumed it was definitely an interesting and pleasurable book to read and spend several hours with!

This book counts towards my British Books Challenge 2017!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

REVIEW: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer was a book that I'd heard about years ago, starting reading last year and only finished early this year.  It's a book about animal welfare, animal cruelty and the morality of eating animals.  I found it fascinating. It was definitely a book that was difficult to read, but it feels like an important book to read as well. I'm really glad that I have.

As I said, this book is a non-fiction book written by a well-known literary author, Jonathan Safran Foer. He spent several years researching this book after pondering the idea of how moral it is to raise, kill and eat an animal for the food.  As well as having quite a lot of facts in this book (there was at least two pages on my Kindle that listed all the sea life that is harmed or endangered from modern methods of farming fish for food consumption!) there is also some thoughts from the author himself, extracts from people in the farming communities, protesters against factory farming and a really wonderful narrative about eating as story-telling that ties all the different threads of this topic together.

I think the facts speak for themselves on this one. I think most sensible people will realise the harmful impact of factory farming on the animals themselves, pollution etc. But I think the extent of the harm is what is eye-opening about this book.  To me, at least. I knew that things were bad, I didn't realise how bad. Or perhaps I was just entirely disinterested in knowing and thus didn't look into further because of how much I enjoy eating meat presently? I think the latter is more likely the case.

The author delves into the welfare of animals currently being factory farmed, predominantly in the US but he brings up in the text that practices are no better in other countries such as the UK.  The lives and deaths of chickens, pigs, fish, turkeys and cattle are in the main spotlight in this book.  But also the economic reasons for factory farming, detailed accounts of what the different farms for these animals look like, what the lives of these animals consist of. It also looks at a handful of farmers who are trying to be more compassionate in the ways in which they farm animals. The facts portion of this book made my stomach clench, my conscience kick in and it had me seriously considering vegetarianism.

There was also a large section of information regarding the spread of disease that is caused by factory farming and information regarding the extent of pollution.  But I think my favourite aspects of the book revolved around eating as a means of social culture and the thread of story-telling and our eating practices.  I really loved these parts of the book and I could really relate as well. I think what we eat, how we eat, who we eat with are definitely areas that shape our identities which means making large changes in our eating habits difficult for a lot of people to do.

Though the author himself, after doing the research for this book, admits to becoming vegetarian himself, it isn't his aim, I don't believe, to advocate for readers to turn vegetarian themselves. He seems to want to bring the facts to life and is really advocating for better, more responsible choices in terms of animal welfare and well-being.

I really found Eating Animals to be an engrossing, thought-provoking and emotional read. And I, will definitely be considering my eating choices in the future based on the facts provided to me here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

British Books Challenge 2017

The British Books Challenge is the only reading challenge I historically sign up for, so it should come as no surprise that I'm signing up for it this year as well!  This year, Chelley from Tales of Yesterday is hosting and I'm really looking forward to all the prize packs, authors of the month etc that will be coming from her through 2017!

The aim of this particular challenge is to read at least 12 books by British authors during the year, review them and for every link added to the monthly link up pages you are in for a chance of winning prizes. It's pretty simple but fun. And, as you know, I very much enjoy supporting British authors when I cam.

Normally at this point I'd be sharing with you some of the UKYA books that will be published this year that I'm hoping to read for the challenge ... but I think I'll mostly be focusing on some of the books by British authors that I already own.  So, some, but not all, of the books I'm hoping to tackle this year include:

Consumed by Abbie Rushton
Crush by Eve Aisnworth
The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
All About Pumpkin by Natasha Farrant
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird
Blade and Bone by Catherine Johnson
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
The Last Beginning by Lauren James
The Deviants by CJ Skuse

Which books by British authors are you hoping to read in 2017? Have you joined the British Books Challenge?