This Month in Books: March 2017 #TMIB #MarchReleases

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March has been a weird month. I spent most of it in a reading slump and watched a lot of TV instead. Bad Book Blogger! IRL I went home for a weekend to surprise my mum for Mother’s Day which made her happy, won tickets to a 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer party sponsored by the Syfy channel and Fandom which made me very happy (I was in heaven), and took a few days off work which was nice.

March 2017 Stats

Total Posts: 14 (+ 3 from previous month)

Books Read: 4 (-1)
All the Good Things ~ Clare Fisher
Girl in Disguise ~ Greer Macallister
The Invisible Hand ~ James Hartley
King’s Cage ~ Victoria Aveyard

 
The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (2/4); Crime/Thriller (2/4); Fantasy (2/4)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (2/4); Digital (1/4); Hardback (0/4); Paperback (3/4) / Owned (1/4); Borrowed (0/4); For Review/proofs (3/4)

Most Surprising: All the Good Things
Most Disappointing: King’s Cage
Most Exciting: Girl in Disguise
Most Swoon-worthy:  Hmm…King’s Cage I guess…
Most Beautifully Written: All the Good Things

Reviews

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 22.03.17
  2. This Week in Books 15.03.17
  3. Lazy Saturday Review: The Rest of us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Promos, Guest Posts and other Highlights

Awards

 

 

 

TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 85

Books Added: 0!

Books Read: 1

Remaining: 84

That was my month, how was yours?

This Month in Books: Jan & Feb 2017 #Books #NewReleases #Reviews

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I haven’t done a monthly round-up yet this year (my bad), so here’s a quick summary of both. In January I took a blogging break and only posted TWIB and one review anyway. When I returned in Feb I decided to make some changes in which I wanted to blog less and read more, and also blog to the mantra of quality not quantity. It’s really renewed my enjoyment of blogging and reading so far. Whoop!

Jan & Feb 2017 Stats

Total Posts: 5 & 11 

Books Read: 9 & 5

Reviews

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 01.02.17
  2. Discussion: Blog-Life Crisis
  3. My Favourite Books of 2016

Awards

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That’s it for this month. I should be back to my full monthly round-up next time. I also usually share my TBR update here but I haven’t looked at that since Christmas so there’s lots of additions (and a few subtractions) to make. I’ll do a separate post if I get time.

 

 

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.

 

unicorn rating 4

 

Reading Round-Up: January 2017 #MiniBookReviews

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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

January’s Spotlight Review was A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere #BookReview

thechristmastownTitle: The Christmas Town
Author: Donna VanLiere
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 240 pages
Publication Details: October 18th 2016 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre(s): General Fiction; Christmas
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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Donna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

 

Review

I feel like I was a little bit mislead by the title of this book as I was expecting a story about a lonely woman who is taken in by a crazy town that loves Christmas or something to that effect – you know the type. The Christmas Town wasn’t really that, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Christmas Town is actually about twenty year old Lauren who has been in and out of foster homes all her life but is now living independently and working at a grocery store. The one thing Lauren wants is a family to spend Christmas with so she puts an ad on the internet.

In the mean time, she befriends a lady who was involved in a car accident which leads her to a charity-run community centre where she is thrust into the melee of a big event.

The Christmas Town is a nice, light read and I enjoyed the story. But it didn’t feel particularly festive which is what disappointed me about it. Lauren was an interesting protagonist but her character was a little bit too plain for me. I would have thought that someone who had been through everything she had would have more depth to her. She felt too simple.

The cast of characters she meets in Grandon are nicely balanced and varied but no one stuck out. I also found it quite farcical in places with all the missed meetings and misunderstandings.

I did however enjoy that the story wasn’t what I had expected from the cover, and liked the feel-good community spirit that was at the heart of it. If you’re looking for a quick, light read but not one that will throw Christmas in your face, give this one a try.

unicorn rating 3

 

This Week in Books 09.11.16 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

Greetings, blog-friends! Here’s what I’ve been up to this week. Better late than never, right? 

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Now:  The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily ~ Rachel Cohn & David Levithan // The Enchanted ~ Rene Denfeld

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily is a quick, light read but I haven’t been swept away by it like I was with the first book. I’m also still going on my ‘lunch time’ (what’s that I hear you cry!?) read, The Enchanted. I managed about 2 pages today. Sigh. 

Then:   Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky ~ Holly Martin // The Book of KringleDerek Valez Partridge // Saint Death Marcus Sedgwick

It’s very rare I finish two whole books in a week, never mind three! But I lost myself in the first festive reads of the season and then moved on to the new Sedgwick. I liked all of these books a lot. I reviewed The Book of Kringle on Monday, and my review of Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky will be up tomorrow. Saint Death was the only (slight) disappointment, probably because I always have such high hopes for his books.  I’ll get my review up by Monday. 

Next: ??? 

I think it has to be  The Witches of New York by Ami McKay which I should have read and reviewed abut a month ago. Bad blogger. Sorry, World. 

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

Once again I’ve chosen this book based on the cover. It immediately got my attention. Sounds great, too!

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Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis.

When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless, one-winged faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition.

But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.

Expected publication: April 25th 2017 by Algonquin Young Readers

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

I’m really not sure about this one but I was so intrigued I had to pre-order it. It arrived earlier this week….

thechemistIn this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life, but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors.

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 🙂

This Month in Books: October 2016 #HorrorOctober

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Horror October came and went in a flash! I got a lot of reading done at the beginning of the month and spent the rest blogging. IRL I saw some good films, went to a gig (on a school night no less) and visited my friend’s new flat on the other side of London (read: the world). I thoroughly enjoyed the change in the weather and I’m loving the dark nights. I’m weird like that.

October 2016 Stats

Total Posts: 36 (+ 18 from previous month)

Books Read: 7 (+1) 
Self-Made Man ~ Poppy Z. Brite
The Daemoniac ~ Kat Ross
The Merciless II ~ Danielle Vega
Reckless ~ Cornelia Funke
The Travelling Bag ~ Susan Hill
Miss Peregrine’s Home… ~ Ransom Riggs
Hunter of the Dead ~ Stephen Kozeniewski

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (4/7); Horror (5/7); Crime/Thriller (1/7); Supernatural (5/7)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (2/7); Digital (3/7); Hardback (2/7); Paperback (2/7) / Owned (3/7); Borrowed (1/7); For Review (3/7)

Most Surprising: Hunter of the Dead
Most Disappointing: Reckless
Most Exciting: Hunter of the Dead
Most Swoon-worthy:  Hmm…I guess The Merciless at a push. 
Most Beautifully Written: The Travelling Bag

Reviews: 6 (=)

    • Haunt Me by Liz Kessler, 3/5 (View)
    • The Daemoniac by Kat Ross, 3/5 (View)
    • The Merciless II by Danielle Vega, 3/5 (View)
    • Reckless by Cornelia Funke, 2/5 (View)
    • Self-Made Man by Poppy Z. Brite, 4/5 (View)
    • The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill, 3/5 (View)

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Flash Fiction Battle: Let the voting commence
  2. Come in Here by Stevie Kopas
  3. The Secret of the Basement by Lily Luchesi

Promos, Guest Posts and Highlights

Awards

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TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 72

Books Added: 2

Books Read: 2

Remaining: 72

That was my month, how was yours?

#HorrorOctober Week 3 Round-Up

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It’s been another busy week of bloody blogging – only 1 week to go! – so here’s a handy summary in case you missed anything. Wouldn’t want that would we!? (Titles link to the posts)

Horror October Week 3 (15th – 21st)

 

Review: Reckless ~ Cornelia Funke

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Flash Fiction Battle:

Entry #1: The Secret of the Basement

Entry #2: Come in Here

Entry #3: The Quiet Life

Entry #4: Wake Up Mommy

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This Week in Books 19.10.16

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Spotlight: In the Service of the Boyar by Jason Graff

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Posts from around the blogosphere

Short Story Review: Getting it Wrong by Ramsey Campbell – Bibliobeth

How to Survive a Horror Story – A Kernel of Nonsense

Halloween Book Recommendations – The Book Addicts Guide

Review: Goosebumps Series – Aussie Owned and Read

How Horror Fiction Can Make us Better Writers – Warrior Writers

Spooky Mint Mint Millionaires Shortbread Recipe – Claire Huston

#HorrorOctober 2016: Week 1 Round-up

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It’s been a busy first week of bloody blogging so here’s a handy summary in case you missed anything. Wouldn’t want that would we!? (Titles link to the posts)

Horror October Week 1 (1st – 7th)

 

Welcome to Horror October 2016

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Flash Fiction Battle – Vote Now

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Review: Revisiting An English Ghost Story

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Review: Haunt Me

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Top Ten Tuesday: Sexy Villains 

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Pretty Wicked

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This Week in Books 05.10.16

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Flash Fiction Battle: And the Winner is…

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Spooky Posts from Around the Blogosphere

If you would like a spooky link adding to next week’s wrap-up, drop me an email on lipsyylostnfound[AT]GMAIL [dot] co{DOT}UK

Revisiting An English Ghost Story #BookReview #HorrorOctober

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It has become somewhat of a tradition to kick off the Horror October proceedings by reblogging my favourite read from the previous year. And I’ve also noticed a bit of a pattern. They aren’t necessarily the highest rated book I read, but rather the one that has stuck with me the whole year through.

The first time around I chose The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black and last year I chose Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory. These are certainly books that I think about often, and An English Ghost Story is no exception. 

An English Ghost Story ~ Kim Newman

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Format: Paperback, 315 pages
Publication Details: October 7th 2014 by Titan Books
Genre(s): Horror; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

Review

This was the last book I read for Horror October, and I’m so glad because I finished the month on a high.

An English Ghost Story was exactly what I was looking for! It was a book which started with promise. I was absorbed from the beginning even before anything spooky happened and then it built up its suspense and creepiness in a masterful, almost majestic way.

The Naremore family move into a grand old house in the countryside which was previously owned by a famous children’s author whose popular series of books were about a haunted boarding school. It turns out that these books were a lot less fictitious than anyone would have believed.

However, the ghosts, spirits, or presences (however you would like to refer to them) struck the Naremore family as friendly, and they found The Hollow an enchanted place to live. A place where they were finally happy; it had brought the family together in a way they had not felt before.

Unfortunately for them…the family had been lulled into a false sense of security and bit by bit, the ‘others’ in the house start to make life very difficult in The Hollow. The dream home, becomes a nightmare. They are turned against each other, and it looks as if they won’t wake up until there’s no one left.

This book was delicious for a horror fan like me. Ghost stories aren’t usually my favourite because I often find them unbelievable and just not scary enough, but I loved how ‘real’ An English Ghost Story felt. It gradually built up momentum as the house began to turn against them and slowly pulled their family apart. I couldn’t put it down.

It was funny in places, certainly creepy, and had some great gory, gross-out moments, but it felt magical too; it had a whimsical feel about it, like reading through a dream.

I was very impressed by my first delve into Kim Newman’s imagination, and I can’t wait to read more. Maybe I’ll finally get round to Anno Dracula now!

unicorn rating 4


Next up on Horror October: Review – Haunt Me by Liz Kessler