Coming Up!

This month I’m going to be concentrating on books I’ve had on my TBR for quite some time. I decided that for a few reasons; firstly, I don’t have ANY ARC deadlines this month – for like the first time ever (woooo me!); and secondly, I’m well and truly failing at the TBR Pile Challenge that I signed up for at the beginning of the year.

It’s my own fault because I set a rule for myself that I’d only count the books that had been on my TBR shelf for over 4 months, in an attempt to read all of those books I’ve had forever (some up to 5 years!) but haven’t got round to yet. Well, that obviously didn’t happen because I kept buying new books and adding them to the pile and obviously reading them before the older ones. Sigh.

So, in a last attempt to get my TBR pile down, I am dedicating the rest of the month, and some of August to those dust-gathering TBR Pile books.

Here’s what you can expect to see on Lipsyy Lost & Found in the next month or so. Click on the image to go to the Goodreads page.

The Princess Bride – William Goldman

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Released: October 20th 1999 by Bloomsbury (first published 1973)
Genre(s): Classics; Fantasy; Adventure
Time on TBR Pile: About 1 year

A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts – The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic.

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini – the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik – the gentle giant; Inigo – the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen – the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

The Foreshadowing – Marcus Sedgwick

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Released: May 23rd 2006 by Wendy Lamb Books (first published 2005)
Genre(s): Young Adult; Historical Fiction; Fantasy
Time on TBR Pile: Over 1 year, maybe 2.

It is 1915 and the First World War has only just begun.

17 year old Sasha is a well-to-do, sheltered-English girl. Just as her brother Thomas longs to be a doctor, she wants to nurse, yet girls of her class don’t do that kind of work. But as the war begins and the hospitals fill with young soldiers, she gets a chance to help. But working in the hospital confirms what Sasha has suspected–she can see when someone is going to die. Her premonitions show her the brutal horrors on the battlefields of the Somme, and the faces of the soldiers who will die. And one of them is her brother Thomas.

Pretending to be a real nurse, Sasha goes behind the front lines searching for Thomas, risking her own life as she races to find him, and somehow prevent his death.

The Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J.Maas

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Released: March 4th 2014 by Bloomsbury Childrens
Genre(s): Young Adult; Fantasy
Time on TBR Pile: Since its release, 4 months.

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

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Released: September 16th 2003 by Picador (first published 2002)
Genre(s): Contemporary
Time on TBR Pile: About FIVE years!

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Godmother – Caroline Turgeon

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Released: 2009
Genre(s): YA; Fairy Tale Retellings
Time on TBR Pile: 5 months

Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings–the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming.

But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica–a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men–and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for. . . .

The Little White Horse – Elizabeth Goudge

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Released: December 31st 2001 by Puffin (first published 1946)
Genre(s): Classics; Children’s Fiction
Time on TBR Pile: About 1 year

A new-fashioned story that is as wonderful as the best fairy tales

When orphaned young Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she’s entered Paradise. Her new guardian, her uncle Sir Benjamin, is kind and funny; the Manor itself feels like home right away; and every person and animal she meets is like an old friend. But there is something incredibly sad beneath all of this beauty and comfort—a tragedy that happened years ago, shadowing Moonacre Manor and the town around it—and Maria is determined to learn about it, change it, and give her own life story a happy ending. But what can one solitary girl do?

Book Promo: Slip by Leslie J. Portu

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Title: Slip
Author: Leslie J. Portu
Series: Slip #1
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary;
Pages: 400
Format(s): Paperback; Kindle (Only £1.85/$3.11 at time of posting)
Published: June 19th 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Links:
Goodreads
Facebook
Purchase:
Amazon

Synopsis

As Vivien Allen begins her junior year of high school, her expectations are flat.

While the status quo has always been a source of comfort, she can’t silence the small voice inside of her that yearns for something out of the ordinary. When her crotchety old French teacher is replaced by Christophe, an attractive young newcomer, she senses the possibility for change, and a strange, indefinable relationship begins.

But, luck, it appears, has arrived in pairs, and Vivien soon finds herself the object of attention of Declan Mieres, the star senior lacrosse player. As her intimacy with both grows, so, too, does her unease. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep her two worlds separate. When at last they collide, the repercussions are far worse than she ever imagined.

Meet the Author

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5 Things With Leslie Portu:

1. I believe reading novels is one of the best ways to increase your knowledge on just about ANY subject. As you follow the characters into their world you can’t help but soak up all sorts of new information. There is nothing like the feeling of losing yourself in a good book.

2. Most kids/young adults these days do not read enough due to an overabundance of competing distractions. (Obviously this does not apply to YOU, since here you are on a blog about books! So congratulations! Take a second and give yourself a pat on the back).

3. I am so glad that I have found writing later in life, and it is my great, great aspiration to make a connection with all of you voracious readers. It would be especially great to hear your thoughts: Do you identify with any of my characters? Do you hate/love one in particular? Would you act the same in a similar situation? The questions are endless…

4. Other factoids: I attended the University of Wisconsin for four of the best years of my life (Go Badgers!). After spending hour upon hour sitting in a chair, I love to head for the stair climber and lift weights (my family will tell you I am a serious grump without exercise). I love the beach and the sun and chicken lettuce wraps and coffee and atomic fireballs. Currently, I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan (not a Wolverine fan, sorry) with my husband, four children, and two dumb dogs. In the summers I can be found in Carolina Beach, NC where I have recently converted to a country music fan (the most touching lyrics! seriously!).

5. More books are coming.

Slip: Top Ten Eleven Playlist

Hi all!
I would like to share with you some of the music that was my inspiration while writing Slip. Music is a powerful generator of all kinds of emotions. These are the songs that helped me to visualize my characters more clearly, and access the emotions of a particular scene. The list (more or less) follows along with the storyline. Happy listening! And, more importantly, happy reading!

– Leslie J Portu

1. Live: Lightning Crashes (What’s this? Could it be love?)
2. Marcy Playground: Sex And Candy (Riley’s Halloween Party)
3. Big Data: Dangerous (Things are not always what they seem)
4. Tame Impala: Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (When is it OK to lie?)
5. Icona Pop: Good For You (Dinner party at Lauren’s)
6. How To Dress Well: Cold Nites (Turn up the heat (Ch. 20))
7. City and Colour: Weightless (Declan’s world crashes down)
8. Prince: I Would Die 4 U (The chase)
9. Death: Denial of Life (In the mind of a killer)
10. The Limousines: Wildfires (Passion in the winter woods)
11. Ghost Beach: Miracle (Love trumps all: final scene)

Excerpt

And so it begins…Boy Meets Girl

Vivien heaved open the gym door to be greeted by the thunder of bouncing balls. Kids were running in all directions, shrieking and shouting at each other. She stood uncertainly, her eyes sifting through the chaos for any sign of an adult in charge. By sheer luck she managed to dodge an errant basketball just before it collided with her face. At last, near the center of the gym, she spotted a bald man wearing an ID badge and she made her way toward him.

“Excuse me!” she shouted, extending her hand. “I’m one of the volunteers. Vivien Allen.”

His hand gripped hers in a firm shake. “Another one. Fantastic! Wonderful! We’ve got a nice-sized group this fall. Excellent!” He spoke every word without ever losing his broad grin. “I’m Mr. Peterson. Bob, you can call me. Where would you like to start?” He gestured toward the basketball nets. “We’re about to get a game going in a minute here.”

She hesitated, eyeing the net with suspicion. She knew nothing of the rules of basketball. In fact, she avoided all sports whenever possible. To say she was unathletic was putting it kindly. As her gaze dropped, the sight of a small boy crying caught her eye. One of the volunteers was crouching before him, his back to Vivien. He appeared to be listening thoughtfully as the child sobbed and pointed his finger at the accused (another small boy who, upon being singled out, promptly split the scene). Slowly the volunteer rose to his feet: faded jeans, cardinal-red Eastbrook Lacrosse sweatshirt, perfectly tousled dark hair. Oh no. She sucked in a breath. He remained still, hands on hips. Then at last, Declan Mieres turned and looked straight at her.

She swallowed, eyes darting away, but not before he’d caught her staring. Great. “Um…are there any other choices?” she asked.

Bob managed to reveal an even more spectacular view of his back molars as he nodded and signaled for her to follow. She trailed along behind, flinching every now and then as a basketball whizzed past her ears.At the opposite end of the gym were another set of doors through which they passed, ending up in a small cafeteria. Here she saw three rows of long tables set up for various arts and crafts. Much better, she thought.

“Jules is in charge of this room,” Bob explained, indicating a frazzled-looking woman cradling a large tub of crayons. “She’ll get you situated.”

Before she knew it, her two hours had gone by and she was letting Jules know it was time for her to leave. Most of the afternoon had been spent showing a second-grade girl how to make cootie catchers. She’d been drawn to this particular girl when she saw her sitting glumly, methodically kicking her foot against the table leg. None of the other children sat by her or paid her any attention whatsoever. She seemed in dire need of a friend.

“See you next week, Dashayla,” Vivien promised as she headed for the door. But Dashayla protested her departure by wrapping her chubby arms around Vivien’s thigh and clinging to her the entire length of the cafeteria. Gently she peeled the fingers off one by one. “You better go back before you get in trouble.” Dashayla put on a pout. “Don’t worry. I’ll be here every Wednesday.” Vivien bent down and gave her a big hug.

Smiling to herself as she headed toward the front office, she couldn’t help but marvel at the easy affection of her newfound friend. Everything seemed so simple in elementary school. If you liked someone, you showed it. Had she really been that way once? She couldn’t remember at what point she’d begun to tuck away her true feelings…just in case.

Her head in the clouds, she failed to notice the three Eastbrook seniors as they crossed paths exiting the office.

“Oh!” she gasped, stumbling backward. “Sorry!”

Directly in front of her, Declan stood gaping, as if he’d just come upon a perplexing riddle.

“Dude!” Nathan shouted over his shoulder. “Watch where you’re going. You almost ran right over this fine girl.”

Vivien returned Declan’s stare. Never before had she been this close to him; he traveled in packs made up of lacrosse players and the most attractive senior girls. Now at last she had a golden opportunity to see for herself what all the fuss was about. He was nice-looking, she gave him that. Yet his striking presence failed to induce rapid heart palpitations, as all the other silly girls claimed was the case. Maybe he did have soft brown eyes, the kind that looked like pools of melted chocolate. And maybe they did go flawlessly with his olive skin and his wavy dark hair. And he wasn’t exactly hurting physically, either; his muscular body towered over hers by a good twelve inches (she’d inherited the “short genes” from her mother’s side of the family and was finally coming to grips with the fact that she was never going to be much over five-foot-two). But none of these things could make up for the fact that he was nothing but a player.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “I’m fine.”

“Don’t you go to Eastbook?” Declan asked, still gawking. “You look…familiar.”

She nodded, trying with difficulty to pull her gaze away. And then, strangely, absolutely nothing happened. The four of them stood trapped in an uncomfortably prolonged moment. A moment of complete and utter silence. The spell was broken at last by Thomas as he cleared his throat, and time was permitted to resume its natural progression.

A self-conscious dance variation followed—a simultaneous shuffle in one direction, then the other as the four bodies attempted to navigate the narrow confines of the doorway. She managed at last to slide past the three leering Neanderthals, stomach sucked to her spine as if it was essential to create as much space as possible between their species and hers. Despite this superhuman effort, she felt the tiny hairs on the back of her neck rise and stand at attention as she and Declan shared the intimate space of the doorframe.

“Nice set of DSLs,” she heard Nathan mutter once she was several feet away. She had no idea what this meant, but coming from Nathan, the king of crass, she was certain the comment was hardly complimentary. She made a beeline for the sign-out sheet, fighting the urge to look back. The sound of laughter drifted in as the three boys headed out to the parking lot.

It took a minute before she’d regained the mental capacity to sign her name. She didn’t know how they’d managed to fluster her so badly. Why should she care about them? She had nothing but contempt for the entire lacrosse team and their social circle. They breezed through the halls like they were some kind of royalty. And she was only a minor character—the lowly chambermaid—in their star-studded cast.

One thing was for sure: hell would freeze over before Miranda could talk her into going to Nathan’s Friday night.

Purchase:

Amazon

Huge thanks to Leslie for taking the time to talk to me about herself and her book!

Keep Your Enemies Close…

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

weight The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

Reading The Weight of Blood felt like sitting on a swing-chair on a porch in the sticky night-time heat with Dragonfiles bashing against your lantern; kind of peaceful and beautiful but there’s this uncomfortable feeling rising to the surface, and you know where it’s coming from but if you just ignore it, it might go away. Obviously, it never goes away…

The Weight of blood is set in a small town with big secrets and a growing number of disappearing teenage girls. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and from two different periods of time. In the present Lucy is hell-bent on finding out what happened to her friend Cheri, a girl with learning-difficulties who was found dismembered in a tree, and also trying to discover what happened to her mum, Lila who vanished a year after she was born.

We also follow Lila as she first arrives in Henbane with the promise of a job and board from local business man, Crete Dane. It’s not long before Lila realises that all is not quite as it seems in this town.

McHugh really did a great job here in intertwining these two stories to create a compelling read. I wasn’t ferociously trying to find out who was behind it all, or on the edge of my seat as I was fed more pieces of the puzzle like I sometimes am when reading thrillers, but that’s not to say it wasn’t compelling.

The story unfolds at a gentle pace (and the plot continues to thicken all the way to the end) but I was never bored. There is something enchanting about her writing that makes it a joy to just float along for the ride. The style really reminded me of Alice Hoffman in that way.

I was a little disappointed that there were no major unexpected turns or twists, but as it was the writing and the characters were enough to keep me happy. The characterisation was great, with more than enough seedy, sinister ones to keep you guessing, and Lila and Lucy were both so likeable that it was hard to not get invested in their well-being.

I look forward to reading more by Laura McHugh.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an HONEST review,
Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Laura McHugh
Details: Hardcover, ebook, 320 pages
Published: March 11th 2014 by Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
My Rating: 4/5
You’ll like it if you liked: Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it: The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

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During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world. Image and synopsis from Goodreads (Click the Image to go there).

The Secret Keeper is another winner from Kate Morton. She has found a definitive style that suits her perfectly and creates beautiful, engrossing drama and decade-spanning mysteries. So, if it’s not broke don’t fix it right?

Usually I’m not a huge fan of shifting timelines but Morton does it so well. We start in the 1960’s when our protagonist Laurel is a teenager and witnesses her beloved mother stabbing a random man. We’re then propelled foward to the present where poor mum is approaching her 90th birthday and on her deathbed. With Laurel back to take care of her she aims to find out for once and for all what exactly happened that day. The mystery emerges bit by bit in true Morton style – by following Dolly (Laurel’s mum), through War-time London and beyond.

This is a hard book to review without just relaying the story. So much goes on but so little of it seems important without seeing the bigger picture, so it’s hard to pick out certain elements. One of my favourite things though was the description of London during the raids. The characters weren’t fazed by it because they’d become so accustomed to it. It’s funny how you can just get used to something so awful. They almost seemed immune to death and destruction which definitely helped put Dolly’s story in perspective. I also really enjoyed the family dynamics, especially Gerry, he was a lovely, complicated and quirky character.

I can’t say I was gripped the whole way through, but I certainly was for the most part. On numerous occasions I thought I knew exactly where the story was going and what the secret would be and whilst part of it was easy to guess, the final blow definitely wasn’t which made for an excellent read.

If you’ve never read any Kate Morton, I definitely recommend her work. I haven’t read every single one of her books on account that they sound so similar to each other, but the ones I have read have been really pleasant surprises.

Details:Paperback, 602 pgs. Published May 9th 2013 by Pan Books.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Unicorns
Is it a keeper? As much as I enjoyed it, I know I’ll never read it again so no. I have added it to my Book Swap List. (UK only, soz!)
If you liked this try: The House At Riverton