Online Writer’s Circle – Join me!? #Writing #WritersWanted

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I’m trying to write more and blog less at the moment…if you know what I mean. I have so many unfinished short stories, picture book ideas and one disaster of a YA novel and I think joining a writer’s circle/ group would be really useful, for motivation if nothing else.

This is where you guys come in. Does anyone want to join a casual, online writer’s circle (before I trawl the wider internet)? It would be really great to share work and get feedback from fellow bloggers instead of total randoms. If you’re interested leave a comment or email me (see contact page) and we can discuss it from there! 🙂 

 

This Week in Books 22.02.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading #WoW

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week

Happy Wednesday everyone ! I hope you’re all having a good week so far.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now: Wintersong ~ S. Jae-Jones // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I couldn’t resist starting Wintersong ahead of my next ARC and I’m totally hooked!  I’m also still going on The Time Machine at lunch-times.

Then:  The Chalk Pit ~ Elly Griffiths 

Hmm I ended up being a bit disappointed by this. It started off well but the plot unfolded a little bit too slowly for me.

Next: ??? 

Definitely Mercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson.

New on the Shelves

Received from Lodestone Books with thanks:

 


The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in /Macbeth/, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeares Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

Borrowed:

 

The Bodies in the Barrels Murders ~ Jeremy Pudney

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When bodies were discovered hidden in barrels in 1999 in South Australia, Jeremy Pudney was one of the first journalists to cover the case that stunned the entire world.

In this authoritative and darkly compelling book he pieces together the complete story of the Snowtown murders.

A Head Full of Ghosts ~ Paul Tremblay

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 The lives of the Barretts, a suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents despair, the doctors are unable to halt Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories begin to surface and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed.

Brooklyn ~ Colm Tóibín

brooklynEilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

I’m Waiting on…

Retribution Rails ~ Erin Bowman

 

I’m so happy that Bowman has written a companion novel to Vengeance Road – I loved it! It’s a long old wait til it comes out though!


retributionrREDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE

When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle. In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.

Expected Publication: November 7th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂

New(ish)Picture Books: Mini Reviews #PictureBookReviews

I’ve recently started paying attention to picture book releases, and existing picture books because I’m trying my hand at writing a couple. I requested the following books on Netgalley so I thought I had better write reviews for them, albeit very teeny ones 🙂

Pirates in the Library ~ Nadia Ali & Jake Tebbits

 

piratesHardcover, 40 pages
Published October 15th 2016 by Star Bright Books

Prepare to set sail for the adventure of a lifetime with fierce Captain Jake when he discovers a treasure map that leads him, his crew (and a parrot, too), right to the library. Ms. Benitez, the librarian, welcomes them—as long as they behave! The pirates’ search is on! 

Soon they discover—with the aid of Dread Pirate Dewey’s map—treasures galore on the shelves. Now the dilemma: Can they keep these treasures? Ms. Benitez has the answer.

Pirates in the Library is a lovely little story to introduce the wonder of libraries and books to children. They will be sure to love Captain Jake and his parrot too!
The text is nicely rhythmic and repetitive so that children can recite it with glee. The illustrations are bright and simple with a nice warmth and humour to them. I really liked the balance of fun and learning in this story, and the important message of supporting your local library because they really are full of the best kind of treasure – stories and knowledge.
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Princess Lemonella ~  Saarein te Brake & Sassafras De Bruyn

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Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Clavis
Princess Lemonella is born angry. She always looks sour and never smiles.
When the king and queen try to find a prince for her, she sends all the candidates away.
Until one prince just rides past her …
 

A funny and romantic fairy tale about how love can make you smile. 


For princes and princesses aged 5 years and older.

 

I was torn by this one. On one hand I loved the beautiful illustrations and some of the themes of the story such as that everyone is different and that there is someone for everyone.

However, I’m not a huge fan of modern children’s stories that are based solely on a princess having to find a prince. I love fairy tales but I do think that they need to be modernised to reflect and embrace diversity. I’m not sure how healthy it is for little girls to constantly read about the need for a Prince Charming, or in this case, a Prince Grumpy!
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This Week in Books 15.02.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week

Happy Wednesday everyone ! I hope you’re all having a good week so far.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now: The Chalk Pit ~ Elly Griffiths // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I’m almost half-way through The Chalk Pit. It’s the 9th book in the Ruth Galloway series and I haven’t read any of the previous ones but that’s not really been a problem so far.  I’m still going on The Time Machine at lunch-times too.

Then:   The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness

For some reason I was slightly worried that the mighty Ness was going to let me down with this – but he bloody well didn’t! Loved! I will have more faith next time. Oww, Todd!

Next: ??? 

I’d like to get my next ARC Mercy of the Tide out of the way and then I’m going to enjoy something random on my TBR – quite possibly one of these below…

New on the Shelves

My TBR pile is out of control but I felt so happy about my decision to request/accept less ARCs and review books that I felt the need to celebrate…by buying some new books instead. LOL! Very excited about both of these!


I’m Waiting on…

Release ~ Patrick Ness

I just want ALL THE NESS now.

releaseInspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17.

It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

Expected Publication: May 4th 2017 by Walker Books

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂

Calling Major Tom by David M. Barnett #BookReview

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callingmtTitle: Calling Major Tom
Author: David M. Barnett
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 304 pages
Publication Details: June 18th 2017 by Trapeze
Genre(s): General Fiction; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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CALLING MAJOR TOM is a heart-warming and ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.

We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world.

Review

Calling Major Tom is a story about family and friendship, and more importantly about losing your way.

Thomas Major is an extremely grumpy scientist who partly by chance and partly by his own stupidity becomes the first man to be sent to Mars. It’s basically a suicide mission but that doesn’t bother Thomas. He’s just happy that he’ll be alone. For a really, really long time, if not forever.

Thinking he’s calling his ex-wife from space, Thomas actually gets through to Gladys, a grandmother suffering from dementia and he’s unwittingly thrown into the lives of a family with some very real problems.

Despite his best efforts to be alone, Thomas Major finds himself trying to help the family from space, and in helping them he learns that maybe he’s not quite the lost cause he thought he was.

Calling Major Tom is wonderfully odd. It’s one of those genuine heart-warming stories that just makes you smile. It’s far-fetched; not at all realistic in plot, but each and every character stands out providing a good injection of realness to bring us back down to earth.

That’s not to say that I didn’t find some faults in it. There seemed a  tendency to jump from one scene or thought to the next without any transition, but that may have just been the pre-proof format to be fair. However, it did put me off at first until I got into the erratic rhythm of it.

I am always impressed by anyone who can create a wonderful story like this, but what impressed me the most was how current it was. There are references to David Bowie’s death and Brexit which makes me wonder when Barnett started writing it and how long it took him. I loved all the Bowie references, naturally, and its crazy quirkiness and undeniable charm made it a perfect tribute to the great man.

 

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My Favourite Books of 2016 #2016Books

Here are my favourite reads of 2016 – better late than never, right!?

I only awarded four books the elusive 5 Unicorns (not including rereads), because not many things are perfect, right? But I also rated 22 books with 4 Unicorns so this list was surprisingly difficult.

(Quotes from my reviews, synopsis’s from Goodreads, as always!)

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10. The Crow Girl ~ Erik Axl Sund

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The Crow Girl is one of the darkest, twisted, deviously woven crime books I’ve ever read. As the synopsis suggests it starts with one dead body, and mannnn does it escalate from there. “

Review // Goodreads 

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It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

9. The Merciless ~ Danielle Vega

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“I can definitely see where they got the whole ‘Mean Girls meets Stephen King’ tagline from. Unlike Stephen King however, this book is severely lacking in the character development department. But you know what? I kind of didn’t care.

Review // Goodreads 

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned…

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

8. The Hummingbird’s Cage ~ Tamara Dietrich

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“I was hooked into this story straight away {…} It was all a bit Twin Peaks, albeit not quite as insane.”

Review // Goodreads 

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A dazzling debut novel about taking chances, finding hope, and learning to stand up for your dreams…

Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life: the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her facade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible—until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee….

On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble upon the small town of Morro, a charming and magical village that seems to exist out of time and place. There a farmer and his wife offer her sanctuary, and soon, between the comfort of her new home and blossoming friendships, Joanna’s soul begins to heal, easing the wounds of a decade of abuse.

But her past—and her husband—aren’t so easy to escape. Unwilling to live in fear any longer, Joanna must summon a strength she never knew she had to fight back and forge a new life for her daughter and herself….

7. Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky ~ Holly Martin

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“It’s literally like Holly Martin has taken all of my favourite things about Christmas and put them in this book. It was magical.”

Review // Goodreads 

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This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

6. Shadow and Bone ~ Leigh Bardugo

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“I saw influences from a lot of books I love such as Graceling and Throne of Glass, but Shadow and Bone felt fresh in some ways too. It was full of action and heartbreak, and I was totally invested in the great protagonist that is Alina.”

Review // Goodreads 

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The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

5. Into the Dim ~ Janet B. Taylor

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“I loved the setting, the plot was interesting and a whole lot of fun, but mostly, I enjoyed the writing. Taylor’s words grabbed me instantly”

Review // Goodreads

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers.

Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. 

Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail,Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens. 

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4. The Madwoman Upstairs ~ Catherine Lowell

madwoman“I loved everything about this book. The interactions between Samantha and Professor Orville were hilarious, and Samantha’s character in general just made me do actual LOLs.”

Review // Goodreads

In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she’s rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë’s literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that’s never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn’t exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world’s greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë’s own writing.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.

3. The Last Days of Jack Sparks

jacksparks“I absolutely loved this book. Jack reminded me a lot of Mystery Man from Colin Bateman’s novels of the same name. He is a lovable rogue. He is completely hopeless but you can’t help but root for him.”

Review // Goodreads 

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Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

2. The Song of Achilles ~ Madeline Miller

songof” The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written story of war, love, betrayal, and tragedy, written from the perspective of Patroclus- best friend and lover of Achilles, making this version of the legend more human than it is God-like.”

Review // Goodreads 

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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

1. Sanctuary Bay ~ Laura Burns & Melinda Metz

sanctuarybay“I absolutely loved Sanctuary Bay and couldn’t put it down! I liked the contrast between the futuristic-type technology at the school and that part of it was built on a POW camp, and how all of this is woven into a great mystery.”

Review // Goodreads

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.

Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

 

           Books of the Month – 2016

This Week in Books 08.02.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week

Happy Wednesday everyone ! I’m feeling really good about my new relaxed outlook on life and this blog since the discussion at the weekend. Thanks to those who gave opinions/advice.

If you missed it (and can’t be bothered to click the link – who would blame you) my new mantra is ‘post what you love’ and not what you feel obliged to. And my new aim is quality not quantity, so you may see a decrease in posts (this one is staying though!). I really think it’s going to make me feel better and also improve the quality and integrity of my blog. Everybody wins!

So without further ado…here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now: The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I’ve only just started the Ness but liking it so far, unsurprisingly. 🙂 I’m still going on The Time Machine during my breaks at work (so it’ll no doubt take me forever – what breaks you cry!?)

Then:  Calling Major Tom ~ David Barnett

This was a lovely, quirky story. I’m looking forward to reviewing it!

Next: ??? 

I have two ARCs due in Feb which I requested before my new rules (only 1 ARC per month) came into play. So I will make a start on those. They are Mercy of the Tide and The Chalk Pit

New on the Shelves

Really happy to be approved for this as it was my WoW pick last week – can’t wait. It will be my June ARC.

marshking ‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.

I’m Waiting on…

Carnivalesque ~ Neil Jordan

I’m a fan of Neil Jordan as a movie director (Interview with a Vampire, Byzantium) and I learned a while back he’s also written novels, but this is the first I’ve seen floating around the blogosphere. It sounds great!

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It looked like any other carnival, but of course it wasn’t…

It had its own little backstreets, its alleyways of hanging bulbs and ghost trains and Punch and Judy stands …
And at the end of one he saw the Hall of Mirrors. There were looping strings of carnival lights leading towards it, and a large sign in mirrored glass reading ‘Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors’ and the sign reflected the lights in all sorts of magically distorted ways.

To Andy and his parents, it looks like any other carnival: creaking ghost train, rusty rollercoaster and circus performers. But of course it isn’t.

Drawn to the hall of mirrors, Andy enters and is hypnotised by the many selves staring back at him. Sometime later, one of those selves walks out rejoins his parents – leaving Andy trapped inside the glass, snatched from the tensions of his suburban home and transported to a world where the laws of gravity are meaningless and time performs acrobatic tricks.

And now an identical stranger inhabits Andy’s life, unsettling his mother with a curious blankness, as mysterious events start unfolding in their Irish coastal town…Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.

Expected Publication: Feb 3rd 2017 by Bloomsbury Circus

 

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂

Review Round-Up: January 2017 #BookReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t warrant a full review. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

There are quite a lot this month because I took January off from blogging and read anything I wanted. It was great!

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Bowie: The Story of Rock’s Enduring Enigma ~ Mike Evans

I got this book for Christmas and really enjoyed working my way through it. The text wasn’t anything spectacular but it was laid out well and the photographs and old gig posters/ticket stubs made it special. As a huge Bowie fan, I was surprised to see a few photos I didn’t recognise which is always a bonus.

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Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: The Novelisation ~ A.C.H Smith

Another Christmas book and one I had wanted for so long! I’m so glad I wasn’t disappointed. There were some notable changes from the film which made it fresh, but without a doubt the best part of this book is Jim Henson’s notes at the back and Brian Froud’s original sketches. A must for any fan of the ultimate ‘kids’ fantasy film.

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Heartless ~ Marissa Meyer

I was really excited about this Alice in Wonderland tale (mainly because it looks so pretty tbh) but also quite apprehensive to start it. The Lunar Chronicles was amazing, and something that I thought shouldn’t work (Cyborg Cinderella), and I worried that maybe Meyer was churning out another retelling on the back of that success. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong and found Heartless to be an enjoyable origin story for the Queen of Hearts. There were some really great bits in it, but I felt it dragged in places. Not hugely exciting, but enjoyable enough.

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Ruin & Rising ~ Leigh Bardugo

It’s taken me a whole year to read this series. I was quite disappointed with the second book so I kept putting this one off but I’m glad I finally picked it up. The third and final book in The Grisha series was a vast improvement and I couldn’t put it down. I loved Alina’s character arc, and her complicated (and very different) relationships with Mal, Nikolai and The Darkling. It’s a vivid, dark fantasy world that Bardugo has created here using elements from Russian folklore, which is what sets it apart from other YA fantasy.

unicorn rating 4

Pagan Portals: Merlin ~ Elen Sentier

I’m not religious at all but I like to think I’m pretty open-minded and I’ve always been interested in alternative religions, especially those which worship nature rather than a person. I’m also a fan of Arthurian mythology so I figured this book would be an interesting read.

Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what I was expecting (which I guess was something along the lines of exploring Pagan values in the stories of Merlin and King Arthur). However, what I actually got was what seems to be an eccentric old lady who is frequently visited (in real life) by the wizard Merlin who guides her spiritually, and goes on describe how we too can befriend him if we try hard enough.

It just wasn’t for me and I couldn’t finish it.

DNF – no rating

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Year in Books: 2016 End of Year Survey #2016Books #BookBlogging

I took a blogging break over Christmas and all the way through to the end of January so I never got the chance to do any of the yearly round-up posts that I really enjoy doing. But what with my new ‘blog what you enjoy’ mantra I’m going to post a few now – lateness be damned!

This End of Year Survey was started by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner who also created the graphics. Many thanks to her!

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Number Of Books You Read: 69 – 1 short of my target.
Number of Re-Reads: 1 – A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Genre You Read The Most From: YA Fantasy/Horror –  22 books

best-in-books

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

For the second year running my favourite book has been one I read right at the beginning of the year. This time it was Sanctuary Bay – an impressive dark and mysterious YA novel.

sanctuarybay

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

fellside I was disappointed with this one 😦

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

madwoman I didn’t expect to love it so much!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

jacksparks I loved it and knew a lot of people who would too!

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Best series started – The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

Best Sequel – I didn’t actually read many sequels but Glass Sword was great.

Best Series Ender – I didn’t read any. Fail!

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2016?

Definitely Jason Arnott (The Last Days of Jack Sparks)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The madwoman Upstairs – I don’t often read general adult fiction, especially not ones about classic literature (The Bronte’s) like this one.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Last Days of Jack Sparks

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

sanctuarybay

Probably none because I never find the time but I’d love to re-read Sanctuary Bay again as I read it at the start of the year and have already forgotten lots about it despite thinking it was amazing at the time!

 

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2016?

merciless2 The real life gold hardback cover is purrrrty. And badass.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Probably Jack Sparks again. He was such a loveable, despicable idiot.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

songof

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Ooh this one was hard to choose. Tbh I didn’t read that many ‘serious’ books last year. I almost went for The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes but I think I’ll choose The Hummingbird’s Cage for its interesting look at the afterlife  and having hope.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Song of Achilles.

 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” ― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

 

Shortest: The Book of Kringle – 32 pgs

Longest: The Crow Girl – 794 pgs

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Hmm this one has stumped me…maybe The Crow Girl just for the sheer dark, grimness of it.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

My favourite romance had to be Achilles and Patroclus in The Song of Achilles.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I really loved the dynamic between Jack Sparks and his editor/agent in The Last Days of Jack Sparks. 

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

foreshadowing

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

summer16.7

 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Sturmhond/Nikolai from The Grisha trilogy

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

It’s a tie between The Song of Achilles and The Madwoman Upstairs. Neither of which were YA. I’m surprised with myself!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Definitely The Grisha Trilogy

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Jack Sparks

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

I definitely cried at The Song of Achilles, more than once. I can’t think of any others.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

a9 This was a heart-warming little gem.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Erm I wouldn’t be that dramatic but The Enchanted was depressing and beautiful all at once.

theenchanted

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

I think The Enchanted again. It was like nothing I’ve ever read before.

 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

stealingsnow

Stealing Snow made me mad because it started off well then very quickly nose-dived!

 

blogging-bookish-life

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2016?

I discovered lots of new blogs but I don’t want to single any out!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2016?

I liked my slightly ranting review of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I really enjoyed the discussion about why books aren’t promoted to teens enough.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I didn’t go many last year, apart from events we hosted at work. My favourite of those was Mike Carey’s visit with the director and producer of The Girl with all the Gifts.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Probably just getting nice comments from authors/publishers, and the huge success that was Horror October. It’ getting bigger every year.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Just keeping going in general. With a busy work and social schedule it’s really hard work sometimes, but worth it.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By far the Flash Fiction Battle posts during Horror October. I’ve never had such high stats!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I guess a lot of reviews and also promo posts/blog tours that take a while to write but don’t end up being very popular. I think it’s fair to say that this is a bone on contention with a lot of bloggers.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Hmm…I think just a lot of he vintage I’ve found which come with so much history. I find it really interesting and I’m going to incorporate that on my blog more this year. My vintage bookshop is here.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Hmm I didn’t really set many goals last year. I was one book away from reaching my Goodreads total.

looking-ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Ha! Lots. But my first port of call is The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

marshking

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

wintersong It sounds so good!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

The only series ending I needed to read was the final Grisha book and I finished it last week. Loved it!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Quality not quantity!

 

Blog-Life Crisis: To Blog or Not to Blog? #Discussion #Blogging #Bloglifecrisis

icon-discussion

Lipsyy Lost & Found is coming up to its fifth anniversary (in May). Which is a bit mad! It’s mostly been a joy, but it’s also felt like a burden at times and I’ve just emerged from what appears to be my annual slump/crisis/blog-meltdown.

I always like to take some time off at the end of each year and start of the next but every time I do I have this sudden feeling of relief and freedom which leads me to wonder if I want/need to keep the blog going.

Does anyone else have these melt-downs?

I’m completely aware that the pressure I feel is all self-induced but that doesn’t make it any easier. This year has been my biggest slump yet, and I was very seriously considering not coming back for so many reasons which I’m sure will resonate with many of you too…

The grand ole issue of time: 

This has always been a problem and always will be for those of us with full time jobs & commitments. I started the blog when I had a very boring office job and could work on it during the day. I haven’t had that luxury for three years now so all of my blogging (including reading/commenting on other blogs) takes place in the evenings and at weekends.

Also the more I blog, the less I can read and the less I can read the less I can blog…and I won’t even get started on writing – which leads me to…

What am I really achieving apart from unnecessary stress? Sure, getting free & advanced books is nice and all the other little perks that come along with book blogging but I really started the blog because I wanted to take reading more seriously. I was in desperate need to get a job I was passionate about, so I thought having a book blog would look good when looking for publishing/bookselling/library jobs (and I was right – it did, and I did and…see full circle!?)

But that wasn’t my only aim. I also wanted the structure of writing every day. I dreamed of being a journalist for years, then, whilst studying, I decided I preferred creative writing. After years of trying my hand at a few stories here and there it became obvious that I needed to improve on a myriad of things to ever hope of getting published. I hoped that reviewing books would force me to think about what makes a good story and why, and improve my awareness of story structure and language. I think that maybe it did at first. Back when I put a lot of thought into reviews and what I was reading. But I feel like I’ve just been churning them out lately, trying to get through as many books as possible and rushing through reviews.

This is my main issue at the moment. A lot of the joy has been stripped away. I feel like I’ve created a monster and lost sight of what I wanted to achieve. Before I knew it a hobby turned into a second job, and without the outcome I was hoping for. The all-important time issue has meant that I’ve been posting without editing, reviewing without thought and reading without enjoyment. Which is all a bit pointless really….

However, after a month of really thinking about it and weighing up the pros and cons I realise that I don’t want to give up my little blog, or give up on what I wanted it to achieve. I do think my writing style has improved, and will continue to improve with this blog. I would also miss all of you fellow bloggers who I am forever inspired and entertained by.

And so, the conclusion I’ve (finally) come to is to carry on blogging, but a little bit differently. 

  1. Restrict ARCs/ review requests to one a month leaving time to read what I want to read when I want to read them.
  2. Only reviewing a book when I have something to say: There’s nothing worse than trying to frantically get reviews done when you don’t really have anything to say about it anyway. I may do a summary of books that didn’t warrant a comprehensive review but I won’t be forcing myself to write them for everything I read.
  3. Quality not quantity: This is the big one. I mean it as far as reading and posting goes. No more power-reading! And posts will be written in advance and edited.
  4. No more self-imposed pressure: It’s hard not to get click-happy on Netgalley and to say no to review requests when you like the sound of the book but NO is my new friend. And if a book doesn’t get reviewed on time? Tough!
  5. Introducing new content: I have a lot of other things going on in my life that I love, such as my vintage bookshop on Etsy, my work in the prison library and my own writing (which I hope to do more of with this new approach to life- LOL) so I would like to include those on my blog more instead of just posting memes and book reviews.

What do you think, can it be done?

 

Join the discussion, leave a comment…

Why do you blog about books and what keeps you going?

Do you ever want to give it up?

Do you have any advice for bloggers like me who love blogging but find it difficult to fit into a busy life schedule?