ARC Giveaway: The Screaming Staircase (Children’s/YA Supernatural)

The Amazing World Book Day have another great YA giveaway this month. Get Involved Here.

13555073

FIVE advance copies of Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase to be won!

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

‘You’ll want to leave the lights on . . . Stroud is a genius’ Rick Riordan

Closes at midnight on Friday 13th September 2013

WWW Wednesday!

What a week! I have been recovering from a Bank Holiday Hen Party Extravaganza so it’s been a slow reading week for me. Looking forward to my friend’s wedding this weekend though! Therefore I am apologising in advance for lack of updates.

But Happy Wednesday Everyone. I did manage to finish one book and I have no idea how to review it!

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading: Frost Hollow Hall – Emma Carroll

View on Goodreads

View on Goodreads

Recently Finished: Hemlock Grove – Brian McGreevy

View on Goodreads

View on Goodreads

Up Next: I’m under instructions from my friend Dora to re-read The Mortal Instruments before we go and see the film. I couldn’t decide if I liked it the first time round and gave up after book 2. But I’d like to be able to compare them with it fresh in my mind.

Upcoming Release! (I’m a NetGalley convert)

I was a bit dubious of signing up to NetGalley or any of the other reader services out there because I’m not a huge fan of reading e-books, and I like to feel free to read what I want, when I want.

But, I’ve come to realise that I should really review more new and upcoming releases..it’s my duty as a book blogger, right? It’s got nothing to do with getting free books…honest. So I caved, and wow…how easy was that! I’ve been approved for my first ‘assignment’ and I’m actually really excited about reading it; it looks awesome!

Winter is Coming!

Winter is Coming!

Title: Frost Hollow Hall
Author: Emma Carroll
Details: E-book, Paperback, 368 pages
Expected Publication: October 3rd 2013 by Faber and Faber

The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.

Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.

Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.

Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .

Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.

Favourites Friday #9: Mystery Man (and Laughing So Much You Get Funny Looks In Public)

Click Images for Goodreads.

Click Images for Goodreads.

Colin Bateman is a legend. He has a huge amount of books in his back catalogue and the Mystery Man books are my absolute favourite. The first time I read this, I remember being on the tube and finding myself in fits of laughter and getting some very funny looks from the other passengers. I think The Bookseller With No Name is possibly one of the best fictional characters I have read (big statement – I know!).

If you’ve ever seen Black Books, imagine Bernard Black trying to solve a mystery…That!

Blurb: A superbly gripping and blackly funny mystery by the king of the comic crime caper.

He’s the Man With No Name and the owner of No Alibis, a mystery bookshop in Belfast. But when a detective agency next door goes bust, the agency’s clients start calling into his shop asking him to solve their cases. It’s not as if there’s any danger involved. It’s an easy way to sell books to his gullible customers and Alison, the beautiful girl in the jewellery shop across the road, will surely be impressed. Except she’s not – because she can see the bigger picture. And when they break into the shuttered shop next door on a dare, they have their answer. Suddenly they’re catapulted along a murder trail which leads them from small-time publishing to Nazi concentration camps and serial killers…

Many of Bateman’s characters are hilariously inept yet tenacious but Mystery Man is so perfect with his Irish wit and eccentricities. He’s a complete eejit, but you have to love him. He gets himself into the most ridiculous situations, and does some awful things, but y’know, his heart’s in the right place.

There are so many great lines in this book it’s hard to choose, but I have managed it, just for you:

“Bookselling is like prostitution, you sell your wares, you close your eyes, and you never fall in love with the clients. You also keep your fingers crossed that they won’t ask for anything perverted.”

“I gave her my hard look, which is like my normal look but harder. At this point, if she’d had any sense, she should have asked for ID, and I could have shown her my Xtravision card and my kidney donor card and dribbled off into the distance ranting about this or that, but as it happened my hard look proved more than adequate”

He was the type of man women said they hated, they absolutely hated, they absolutely and categorically hated, and then they went to bed with him. I was the type of man women said they hated, and then they went home.”

“Serial Killer Week got off to an inauspicious start when the opening wine and bean evening was invaded by a former prisoner who misinterpreted the poster, but he was at least able to give us the professional’s view of the genre.”

Also, I have a morbid fear of rates, and mice, and nettles and wasps and jagged cans and rotting food and damp newspapers and the unemployed.”

About Colin Bateman
Colin Bateman was a journalist in Northern Ireland before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, DIVORCING JACK, won the Betty Trask Prize, and all his novels have been critically acclaimed. His book Murphy’s Law was adapted for the BBC television series Murphy’s Law (2001–2007), featuring James Nesbitt.

This post has also reminded me that this should be arriving sometime soon- completely funded by Kickstarter.
1012167_10151577634069006_313251959_n

Colin Bateman’s first collection of short fiction and drama. Dublin Express is a collection of five rare short stories from one of Ireland’s most acclaimed novelists, together with the complete script of his hugely successful first play, National Anthem.

Also in the Mystery Man Series:
71979819406955 16055875

An Explosion, a Dwarf and a Missing Person: The Black Dragon (The Mysterium #1) by Julian Sedgwick

Click to view on Amazon

Click to view on Amazon

East meets West; past meets present; criminal minds meet skilled artists – welcome to the Mysterium, a circus with dark and thrilling secrets at its heart.

Twelve-year-old Danny Woo is half-Chinese, half-British. His parents are performers in the Mysterium. Following their death in a mysterious fire, Danny is sent to live with his aunt Laura, an investigative journalist. When Danny’s school is closed after an explosion, he joins Laura on a trip to Hong Kong. She is researching the Triad gangs; he is trying to understand more about his cultural background.

But Laura disappears, and Danny is plunged into a dangerous quest to find her – which opens the door on the past he could never have imagined, and which leads him to question everything he has ever known about his past.

I felt the same way about The Black Dragon on the whole as I felt about its protagonist, Danny. I liked him enough, and thought he was funny enough, but he just didn’t give me enough to keep me interested. I felt like his past was more interesting than his present which probably isn’t a good thing.

Danny grew up in a travelling Circus, The Mysterium, where his Dad was an escapologist and his mum a high wire acrobat. Prior to the events in The Black Dragon Danny’s dad dies in an under-water trick that he’d performed hundred times over, and shortly after their trailer is set on fire and his mum is killed too.

Under the care of his aunt Laura, Danny is just settling into a more traditional life and trying to get through the boredom of high school when an explosion goes off and Laura whisks him away to Hong Kong.

It’s not long before Laura is kidnapped leaving Danny and Zamora, an Italian Dwarf – a friend from The Mysterium days – to find Laura and find out how all of these things are connected.

As fun as this was, the whole way through I just wanted it to be about The Mysterium and didn’t really care about finding Laura. By the looks of it, the next book in the series might do just that, so I’ll definitely check it out when the time comes.

I enjoyed the characters here, especially Zamora, and the fast pace of the adventure was welcome but it didn’t have enough strings to its bow to really hook me. I do feel like this could improve in later books though.

Disclosure: I received a copy from Hodder Children’s Books via World Book Day
Details: Paperback, 340 pages, Published 2013 by Hodder Children’s Books
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns
Is it a keeper? Although I will check out the next book I’ve already added this to My Swapping List.
If you liked this try: Charlie’s Monsters by Dean Lorey. Similar in style…swap magic for monsters and viola!

WWW Wednesday!

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading: Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy According to Goodreads it’s an exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares, according to my friend Di, it is so terrible I will love it.

Recently Finished:
51LCpAM70DL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_
The Mysterium: The Black Dragon by Julian Sedgwick
This was a fun read but it didn’t have a lot to it.

12755985

I also finished Water By Terra Harmony which gave me a lot of ranting material even though I liked it a lot. My Review is here.

Up Next: I kinda just want to read The Selection and The Elite again. Send help!

Top Ten Tuesday #2 (Things That Make Life as a Reader/Blogger Easier)

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (Click the image to visit them). This week the theme is Top Ten things that make your life as a reader or blogger easier.

I concentrated more on my life as a reader than a blogger. Here goes…

1. Goodreads I basically just want to answer Goodreads to all 10 of these, because Goodreads is King and I’m sure I don’t need to explain why.

2. ReaditSwapit I love being part of this site. It’s really easy to use and I’ve never had any trouble, as in not getting a book in return. It’s a great way to get rid of unwanted books and get ones you do want in return.

3. One Hour Lunch Breaks Having a 9-5 job does have some perks, and I LOVE getting in an hour of reading half-way through my day.

4. Fellow Bloggers You guys keep me entertained, informed and inspired.

5. Amazon I kinda hate to say it but Amazon makes it easier and cheaper for me to buy books. It definitely has a lot to do with how many books I have on my TBR pile at any given time.

6. Lazy Weekend Mornings Book in Bed time at the weekends is bliss for me, and when I get most of my reading done.

7. Long Tube/Train Journeys Similarly, when Book in Bed time is impossible, travelling is always a good excuse to spend time reading. I can never understand people who spend time travelling or commuting staring into space and looking bored. What a waste of time. I carry a book with me pretty much everywhere because you never know when you’re going to be left hanging around. I hate wasting time, life is short, yeah.

8. Charity Shops and people who donate books to them I love second-hand books and finding bargain books in charity shops not only saves me money, but is totally satisfying.

9. Friends Similar to other Book Bloggers, my book-loving friends make reading easier by way of recommendations and borrowing. They also make it a whole lot of fun. I’m looking at you, Di and Doreen!

10. GOOD BOOKS Pretty obvious I guess, but the sheer amount of amazing books out there make my life better, and definitely make Book Blogging easier. Good work to all involved. .

I wish I could have added my local library to this list as I’d love to support it. But the fact is, my local library is pretty rubbish which upsets me a lot.

Water (Akasha #1) by Terra Harmony: A Rant  Review

12755985
Elemental powers in the palm of her hand…and it won’t be enough to save her. When Kaitlyn Alder is involuntarily introduced to a life of magic, she becomes part of an organization hell-bent on saving the Earth. Just as her new-found life holds promises of purpose, romance, and friendship, the organization divides and a rogue member holds Kaitlyn hostage. Now one of the most terrifying men the human race has to offer stands between her and Earth’s survival. Image and synopsis from Goodreads. Click the image to go there.

I was really fascinated by this book as it sounded new and different to me. I’ve also been a bit obsessed by the idea of eco-villages lately and part of me would love to just disappear somewhere, build my own hut and live a simple, non-materialistic existence so the eco part of this ‘Eco-Fantasy’ series excited me too.

Basically, Kaitlyn is harboring some serious elemental magic but doesn’t know it. Everywhere she goes, natural disasters follow which she was oblivious to until she is kidnapped by what can only really be described as a cult. A cult who want to save the save the world, no matter who gets hurt in the process. Excellent premise, yes? Well, yes, but unfortunately so many things didn’t work for me with this book.

For one, the way Kaitlyn was kidnapped was all good and exciting but she didn’t really seem to be that bothered about it. I mean, she had a bit of a rant, and was upset that they’d gone through her apartment and packed it up but she didn’t really hold it against them, and she definitely didn’t ever seem to want to leave.

If I’d been kidnapped by a cult who told me I was essentially their Goddess and they wanted to use me to help save the world I think I’d have a few more questions and doubts than she did. Maybe it was supposed to be a bit of the old Stockholm Syndrome going on, but she never really felt like a hostage, she just excepted that this was her life now. Odd.

Also, you can be forgiven for thinking this is a YA book because it certainly reads like one. The narration feels very ‘young’ which is pretty disturbing when the very non-sexy, sexy times start. I didn’t like that it was a given that Micah, ‘the love interest’ and Kaitlyn belonged together. They had barely said two words to each other and he’s kissing her to calm her down or something. Likely story. Plus, the fact that he’s just kidnapped her…oh it’s all a bit unrealistic really.

To me it sounded like all of the characters apart from Cato -the leader of sorts – were in their early teens. But at some point Shawn, the villain, is described and I realised that he was relatively old. I don’t want to give to any big spoilers away to those who don’t know but let’s just say that it was bad enough as it was, but then to realise that was pretty horrific. He was a great villain though, hats off to Harmony for that – it made for some very uncomfortable but riveting reading.

I really loved what a quick read Water was, and even with its faults it was interesting to say the least. It made me wish I knew more about elemental magic and the real science behind it so I could judge just how ‘fantastical’ some parts were.

There were a few laughs too – mainly from Kaitlyn’s quips – that I enjoyed, but then I also found myself laughing at parts that weren’t supposed to be funny. Like when Kaitlyn manages to make a whole coat (and shoes was it?) out of leaves from some candles. No really. Oh, and how after Shawn does the hideous thing they just seem too normal around each other.

And lastly (Wow, sorry I didn’t realise how many things I wanted to rant about in this book – I did enjoy it honest!) the way it ended left me a bit miffed. I felt like there were too many unsaid things, I needed closure. I needed Kaitlyn to spill all to Micah and see his reaction. But I guess that’s what book 2 is for….

After everything is said and done…I will definitely be reading the next in the series, Air. So Terra Harmony obviously didn’t do such a bad job. And I love a book I can rant about, if you haven’t noticed.

Details: Kindle Edition, 1st Edition, 279 pages. Published September 26th 2011 by Terra Harmony
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns
Is it a keeper? Hmm not sure. I want to read the next one and see, but at the moment I’m glad I didn’t buy the paperback.
If you liked this try: The Skulduggery Pleasant Series for a child friendly adventure with some elemental magic thrown in.

More Flaws Than a Broken Mirror? Throne of Glass (ToG #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Click image for Goodreads.

Click image for Goodreads.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

I don’t think I’ve ever had so many issues with a book yet still loved it. But that’s what happened with Throne of Glass. I absolutely loved the settings and the descriptions in the book, the salt mines sounded horrific and the glass castle sounded beautiful and exciting so I enjoyed the world that Maas created in that way but in other ways it fell flat.

I instantly fell in love with Celaena though. She survived the impossible and came out of it relatively unscathed albeit with a bit of an attitude. She’s a kick-ass, smoking-hot assassin and she knows it, and feels the need tell everyone she is such. I usually find narcissistic characters unbearable but for some reason with Celaena it was OK. It kind of suited her and I felt like she deserved to love herself a bit.

The main issue I had with her was that as the story develops she never quite lives up to her infamy, and no one treats her the way I thought they should. She’s taken out of the deadly salt mines and given a chance at freedom if she competes in the competition but she is so infamous as the deadliest assassin in the kingdom that her identity has to be covered up, yet she’s still free to roam around the castle and make friends with Princesses? It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, but I went with it anyway.

I enjoyed the relationship dynamics between Celaena and Prince Dorian (what is it with all these princes with stupid names?? Po, Maxon, now Dorian…really!?) Dorian doesn’t seem too bothered that Celaena could kill him with her bare hands, and considering that the contestants are now dropping like flies, he never seems to even doubt her. Which is nice I guess, if not stupid.

Celaena on the other hand comes across as being pretty compassionate for an assassin but she’s still quite icy when it comes to love. We’re never entirely sure if she likes Dorian as much as he likes her, or if her close friendship with Chaol, Captain of the Guard, will turn into something more. To be honest, she doesn’t really seem to care either way. She wants Dorian, but we don’t know if it’s just lust or something more. She’s certainly a character of contradictions – she might be an assassin but she’s a book-loving, dress and shoe-obsessed assassin who doesn’t even seem to enjoy fighting all that much, or really be that good at it.

I liked how fast-paced Throne of Glass was and I was never bored, but I did wish that some of the ‘tests’ that the competitors faced were a bit more imaginative and dangerous. I expected each round of the competition to be a fight to the death so we could see Celaena’s skillz in action, but most of them were harmless tasks like archery which I found a bit lame. However, the gruesome deaths of the other competitors and the mystery and magic surrounding them was enough to keep me interested and entertained.

I haven’t read the prequel novellas yet, and I hope that between those and the following books in the series we’ll discover more about Celaena and how/why she became an assassin in the first place to help us understand her and believe in her more. I also hope that this is just the beginning and that the world Maas has created has something more to offer – I’m sure it does.

Somehow, despite all of its flaws and beyond all reason I absolutely loved Throne of Glass. It didn’t hurt that Maas is a Buffy fan either. Or that her initial idea came from one simple thought – what if Cinderella was an assassin sent to kill Prince Charming (I kind of wish her idea hadn’t evolved so much!)?

Details:Paperback, 420 pgs. Published Aug 02 2012 by Bloomsbury.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Unicorns
Is it a keeper? Definitely!
If you liked this try: Graceling.

WWW Wednesday!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

Water (Akasha #1) by Terra Harmony.
12755985
I’m not LOVING this so far but I have the feeling it is going to improve.

I’m also reading The Mysterium: The Black Dragon by Julian Sedgwick which I received from Hodder via World Book Day.

Click to view on Amazon

Click to view on Amazon

East meets West; past meets present; criminal minds meet skilled artists – welcome to the Mysterium, a circus with dark and thrilling secrets at its heart.

Twelve-year-old Danny Woo is half-Chinese, half-British. His parents are performers in the Mysterium. Following their death in a mysterious fire, Danny is sent to live with his aunt Laura, an investigative journalist. When Danny’s school is closed after an explosion, he joins Laura on a trip to Hong Kong. She is researching the Triad gangs; he is trying to understand more about his cultural background.

But Laura disappears, and Danny is plunged into a dangerous quest to find her – which opens the door on the past he could never have imagined, and which leads him to question everything he has ever known about his past.

Just Finished I finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas which I loved. I’ll get a review posted soon.

Up Next: Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
12510849
An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.
The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.Leave a comment with your link 🙂