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! 🙂 

 

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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 🙂