Friday 31 July 2015

July Wrap-Up.

This month's reading once again has been pretty good! I got through a ton of books that I have wanted to read for a while, including a couple that I've waited far too long to get round to! In the end, I managed 5 of the 7 reads I set myself at the start of the month!

  1. 'The Hobbit'; J.R.R. Tolkien. This is the first book that I have read by this world renowned author, and in the end I thought it was pretty okay! However, it did not live up to the masses of hype that surrounded it and so I came out feeling a little disappointed. The characters were interesting, and the world-building certainly world class but it just felt a little too short and the tone was not nearly mature enough for my taste. I hope I enjoy the Lord Of The Rings series better!
  2. 'Sunbolt'; Intisar Khanani. This book completely blew me away simply because while I expected I would enjoy it, I didn't have huge expectations. It more than surpassed my idea of a great book, despite it's very short length, and I can only see this developing into a fantastic series. The characters were phenomenally written and the glimpse of the world of Karolene that I got to see really impressed me. I can't wait to read more when the sequel is released!
  3. 'The Winner's Crime'; Marie Rutkoski. Some of you may remember that I enjoyed but didn't adore the first book in this series. The pacing felt off and I felt like it wasn't explored to it's fullest. This second instalment was considerably better in my opinion! I actually felt masses of sparks between Arin & Kestrel (before, I really didn't feel an awful lot between them). This time, Rutkoski managed to exploit every little moment rather than leaving them feeling unfinished. Despite this, the plot-line at times felt like a series of misunderstandings and secrets that wore thin pretty fast.
  4. 'Valiant'; Holly Black. I feel like this was a month for surprises, and one certainly came in the form of this book. I've read a lot of Holly Black's work in the past (including 'Tithe', the first in the series) and despite adoring her imagination, I have always found her writing style a little too fast paced for me to keep up with a lot of the time. Not so with 'Valiant'. Everything about this book spoke to me: it's originality, complex characters, creative plot situations, and the romance was sizzling too!
  5. 'Neverland'; Shari Arnold. This was my favourite read of the month! Everyone knows I'm a huge fan of Fairy Tales, and Peter Pan is absolutely no exception! I've always been fascinated by the mysterious young boy who never grows up, and the world he lives in: Neverland. This book takes a more emotional yet just as magical twist on the concept. I cried a lot while reading it, yet also found myself laughing too. The characters were imaginative (I loved Arnold's vibrant take on Peter Pan himself and her aloof incarnation of Captain Hook).
This month I have read two physical books:

- 'The Hobbit'
- 'Valiant'

This month I have read three Netgalley/Edelweiss reads:

- 'Sunbolt'
- 'The Winner's Crime'
- 'Neverland'

And now it's time for a quick update on the Bookish Bingo & Story Sprites challenges I signed up for at the beginning of the month!

Cover Has Been Changed: Tithe; Holly Black.
PoC Writer: Sunbolt; Intisar Khanani.
Title Is More Than Three Words: The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry; Gabrielle Zevin.
Magic: The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkien.
Multi POV: How To Fly With Broken Wings; Jane Elson.
Face On Cover: The Winner's Crime; Marie Rutkoski.
Tearjerker: Neverland; Shari Arnold.
Travel: A Natural History Of Dragons; Marie Brennan.
2015 Debut: Skin; Ilka Tampke.
Short Story: The Sleeper & The Spindle; Neil Gaiman.
Finish A Series: Mockingjay; Suzanne Collins.

Fairies As A Theme: Valiant; Holly Black.
Forbidden Romance: The Winner's Crime; Marie Rutkoski.
Cover With Silver Lettering: The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkien.
Novel By An Indie Author: Sunbolt; Intisar Khanani.
Fairytale Retelling: Neverland; Shari Arnold.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds'.

Characters that love books are always the ones most memorable to me, probably because I love them so much too! It is such a nice idea to celebrate the fellow book lovers in books by making a list about them!

1) Hermione Granger from the 'Harry Potter' series.

I'll be very surprised if this name isn't on most lists today. Hermione is one of those bookworms that touches everyone's hearts and sticks in the mind, purely because she is just so clever! She was my favourite character in the Harry Potter series as I grew up, and I always told myself that if a letter from Hogwarts came for me, I would study hard and read everything just like her!

2) Charlie from 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'.

It's been a while since I've truly thought back to reading 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower', but one of the most memorable things about Charlie was his love of reading. I adored watching his interaction with his English teacher, who suggested a ton of books for him to read and enjoy.

3) Tyrion Lannister from the 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series.

This guy is hands down one of my favourite bookworms of all time. He knows his faults, and his handicaps, but he uses his intelligence and wit to counteract and overcome those obstacles nine times out of ten. I instantly knew he would be one of my favourite characters in the series the moment I first read him with a book in his hand. Thank you George R.R. Martin for such a wonderful character!

4) Matilda from 'Matilda'.

Matilda has inspired me since childhood, and was the very first bookworm that I ever read. I will never stop adoring this story, be it through book, film, or musical, because Matilda herself is a one in a million. She became one of the first relatable characters in my life and largely contributed to my love of reading now.

5) A.J. from 'The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry'.

I could actually include pretty much every character from this book because they all love or are connected to books in some way. I chose A.J. though because he owns a Bookshop and probably has the most to say about his favourite and least favourite kinds of books. 

6) Liesel from 'The Book Thief'.

Though not the best at reading, Liesel's bravery when it comes to books is beyond measure. She steals them. These books that she takes, be it a banned book from a book burning fire or a Gravedigger's instruction manual help her to get through life and the tragedy that surrounds her on a daily basis.

7) Diana from the 'All Souls Trilogy'.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the very beginning when Diana is studying in the Oxford Bodleian Library. I really felt my own love for books and my desire to have a big library just like it creep up on me and plaster a huge great smile on my face, and that is why I chose Diana. I'm not only interested in books that are great works of fiction, I like reading books that help me learn too!

8) Sarah Grimke from 'The Invention Of Wings'.

It feels like an age since I read this gorgeous book, but while the main subject that it focused on was Racism, the rights of women were also a big part of the plot-line too. One such example of this was Sarah's ongoing battle with her parents regarding her desire to read the books in her Father's library.

9) Meggie from the 'Inkworld' series.

Meggie has grown up with a love for books and stories because her Father, Mo, is a bookbinder! She later discovers that her Father can do a whole lot more than that, and gets to live some of those tales that she has grown to love, but it's this initial love that made me pick Meggie!

10) Lady Isabella Trent from the 'Memoir By Lady Trent' series. 

Similar to Sarah Grimke, Isabella Trent is also fond of her Father's library. Her family, and society itself, also has a largely negative viewpoint on this but luckily she meets a man who shares her passion for reading and lends her his library for her to use. The books are mostly on the subject that Isabella is interested in of course, Dragons!

Monday 27 July 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (20th July - 26th July)...

This week hasn't been hugely exciting. The best part was certainly on Monday, when Mat, Tash and I went to see 'Ant Man' at the cinema. I am a huge fan of the Marvel films, and I always get excited when one is being released. I was a little sceptical about the concept of Ant Man, but I was not disappointed. I didn't realise that shrinking would turn out to be such a cool power! There were some really nice cameos too, and I'm really excited about the after-credits scenes they showed too. I had plenty of time to do a lot of reading this week too, which was very satisfying for me.

I Read:


Sunday 26 July 2015

Book Review: Neverland; Shari Arnold.

I feel like I've been pretty lucky with my last few reads, they've all been so enjoyable. I felt a little nervous about starting this book because I so wanted to enjoy it and I was scared that I would be disappointed. I needn't have felt that way however, because this book was fantastic!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Neverland
AUTHOR: Shari Arnold
PUBLISHER: Shari Arnold
PAGES: 313
GENRE: Young Adult, Retelling, Contemporary, Fantasy

RATING: 5/5 Stars

It’s been four months since seventeen-year-old Livy Cloud lost her younger sister, but she isn’t quite ready to move on with her life — not even close. She’d rather spend her time at the Seattle Children’s hospital, reading to the patients and holding onto memories of the sister who was everything to her and more. 

But when she meets the mysterious and illusive Meyer she is drawn into a world of adventure, a world where questions abound. 

Is she ready to live life without her sister? Or more importantly, is she brave enough to love again?

What I Liked:
  • There was so much about this book that I loved, above all the perfectly formed plot-line. Firstly, it is a real emotional roller-coaster. I cried at quite a few moments while reading, and laughed out loud at others. By the end I had a huge great smile on my face and felt this strange calm wash over me, quite unlike anything I have ever felt while reading. Yes this book contains magic, mystery, adventures and excitement, but above all it is the story of a young girl coming to terms with the loss of her little sister. Having a younger sister myself, I found it particularly touching.
  • The characters were really well written and above all, believable. Livy, the heroine, was someone I felt I could connect to. Above all, I just wanted her to find a way to overcome her struggles and find happiness again. The connections to J.M. Barrie's original 'Peter Pan' were clear too, despite changing the names. Meyer, the Pan in this story, was exactly how I imagined him. Youthful, energetic and full of life, yet frustrating, spontaneous and illusive also. I liked the way Shari handled James Hale also, Livy's mysterious new tutor. The connection to Captain Hook was clear in his dangerous aura, and yet he wasn't the 'bad guy' either.
  • Shari Arnold has an absolutely gorgeous writing style. I was absolutely swept away from start to finish. She writes emotions and memories so well which is important in a story like this. Her words really enlivened my imagination and helped me to completely envisage what was happening.
What I Disliked:
  • The pacing was not fast but I didn't mid this so much in Part One of the story. However, when Part Two (there are three in all) came around, it meant that it felt a little rushed. I would have liked to see a little more of Neverland and have time to wrap my head around the new change to the story progression, as it was a rather sudden onslaught of Magic and Fantasy. I can see why Arnold decided to keep it quick, as it did contribute to the sense of decision making urgency.
Overall Conclusion:
I absolutely adored this re-telling of J.M. Barrie's 'Peter Pan'. I'm a huge fan of Fairy Tales re-imagined, and this is certainly the best I have read in a long time! It had a really good plot-line with huge emotional highs and lows that had me gripped from beginning to end. Arnold's characters stood out too, managing to conform to the Peter Pan characters we know and love, and still bring something new to the table also. I loved, above all, Arnold's writing style, and I will certainly be getting into more of her books in the future.

Friday 24 July 2015

Book Review: Valiant; Holly Black.

This book has taken me an epic amount of time to get round to, but I am sure glad I did because it was gorgeous in every way! I can't wait to review it, I'm so excited!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Valiant
AUTHOR: Holly Black
SERIES: Modern Faerie Tales (#2)
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
PAGES: 313
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Retelling

RATING: 5/5 Stars

When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system. 

But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends. 

And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her new-found affection for an honourable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.

What I Liked:
  • I'm going to talk about the plot pacing and writing style first because this is the thing I am most excited about! I have read an abundance of Holly Black's books, and have always found these two elements to be wrong somehow despite adoring everything else about her books. I am overjoyed to announce that finally it was perfect! The action moved along quickly enough for me to be completely and utterly hooked, but not too fast for my poor brain to handle. This is by far the best piece of writing I have seen come from Holly Black, long may it continue!
  • Once again I can only commend Holly Black for her gorgeous imagination! The world of Faeries in these books is really very creative. It mixes terrifyingly dark with undeniably captivating beautifully. It sounds like a world I would love to explore, despite knowing it would be extremely dangerous. In this second instalment, not as much of the courts (Seelie & Unseelie) are seen, but I did get a whole new idea to think about: Nevermore. For Faeries, it keeps the Iron Sickness at bay. For humans it's a hallucinogen that gives the user an almost Godlike power. Amazing concept!
  • The characters! Black has a knack for writing strong characters who look and think differently to the norm. These ones totally sucked me in! Val was a really very good heroine, and I adored watching her romance with Ravus (who is my new favourite Troll) blossom and the electricity between the two intensify. Her friends Ruth, Lolli, Luis & Dave were really interesting too. There was a tiny bit of stereo-typing, but I actually really loved these characters so much because the relationships they formed with each other were not only emotionally charged, but complex too.
What I Disliked:
  • The only thing that got to me ever so slightly was Val's reckless nature. It all contributed to furthering the plot-line, but the fact that she would happily go along with anything and never mind the consequences was a little frustrating to read. Drugs? Sure! Sex with someone who is pretending you're somebody else? Okay! Stealing? Breaking and entering? Why not?! It was of course the point to highlight the danger that someone with such an addictive personality was in, but did she have to say yes to everything?
Overall Conclusion:
This book was amazing from start to finish! The pacing was nice, the detail, imagery and world-building absolutely gorgeous and I am a very happy reader right now because I have finally found a book by Holly Black that I couldn't fault (apart from the never saying no thing). If you are intrigued by Fairy Tales, like 'Beauty & The Beast', can handle a book with a lot of sexual situations, bad language and drugs and have a thing about Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance then don't even hesitate. Read this book!

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books That Celebrate Diverse Characters'.

These are often my favourite kinds of books because of the very fact that they contain a character that is different to what I have seen before!

1) 'The Rosie Project'; Graeme Simsion.

For those that have read this book, it's pretty clear why I picked this one. The main character, Don Tillman, is most certainly neurotypical. Yes he has Asperger's Syndrome but he is also unknowingly kind, extraordinarily clever, a fantastic chef and cocktail extraordinaire. This is a fun and light-hearted read that I would certainly recommend to those that are looking for a less serious way to think about what makes us 'normal'.

2) 'The Shock Of The Fall'; Nathan Filer.

This book instantly grabbed my attention because a fair amount of the characters are neurotypical in some way. It focuses on our unreliable narrator, Matt, who suffers from Schizophrenia and as a result is constantly haunted by the ghost of his dead brother Simon, who suffered from Down Syndrome. Of course I could go on to talk about his overly paranoid Mother too but I think you're getting the picture. It was clear while reading this that Filer had real experience when it came to working with Mental Health patients, and it's an enjoyable read.

3) 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe'; Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Realising that this is the only LGBT focused book on the list was slightly depressing, but nevertheless it was also one of the best books I had ever read. The story of how these two characters meet, become friends, save each other's lives and fall in love was wonderfully heart-warming and also contained all the elements of a good coming-of-age story. For those who haven't delved into LGBT fiction yet, or even those who read only LGBT fiction but haven't tried this one, I thoroughly recommend you get to it ASAP!

4) 'Good Kings, Bad Kings'; Susan Nussbaum.

This book had a little bit of everything in it, and provoked such strong feelings in me that I couldn't not include it. Some characters are physically disabled or suffer from a debilitating Mental Illness. Some of them are LGBT and long to show the world that they are not so different. And then of course this book covers all sorts of ethnic and cultural minorities too. There are so many different voices and all of them have something very important to say. Seriously, read it to see what I mean!

5) 'The Invention Of Wings'; Sue Monk Kidd.

This will always remain to be one of the best Historical Fiction books that I have read, and it's focus on the plight of Ethnic minorities and women during a time when both parties most certainly did not have a say in anything was nothing short of inspiring. I liked that every character was human whether they were of colour or not, and it wasn't instantly a story about Good Vs. Evil. 

6) 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'; Stephen Chbosky.

This is one of the first reads I ever got into on the subject of Mental Health. It focuses on a young boy named Charlie, who is a seemingly typical teenager going through the highs and lows of High School. As the story progresses however, it becomes increasingly clear that all is not completely well in both Charlie's life and his head. Though this was a little bit of a slow starter, it certainly did a great job of celebrating all kinds of Diversity and Patrick, the guy not afraid to flaunt his homosexuality, will always remain my book best friend.

7) 'Noughts & Crosses'; Malorie Blackman.

There are actually four books in Blackman's gorgeous series about the evil consequences that both Racism and Terrorism can have, and the effect that it has on family and friendship alike. This first book very much focuses on a forbidden love story that flips the script by having white people suffer and people of colour be in a position of power. The whole idea of it was very clever, as it really highlighted that such prejudice only damages lives. I wouldn't recommend if you're one for happy endings though as there are very few to be found here.

8) 'Sunbolt'; Intisar Khanani.

I read this book quite recently, and though it isn't really about diversity, one of the first things I noticed was the PoC heroine. That's right! She isn't white! Until I read this book, I didn't realise just how many female-led stories that I had read where the lady in question was. It felt so refreshing, and that is why I had to include it here on this list!

9) 'To Kill A Mockingbird'; Harper Lee.

Oh come on, this book had to be on here. There is such a rich cast of characters and though the book focuses mostly on the impact of racism in Deep South America during the Great Depression. Not only is it an interesting (and slightly terrifying) slice of life in those days, but there are even diverse characters that are buried under the surface and require a great deal of looking (Boo Radley anyone?). Maycomb is a town that runs almost solely on gossip and prejudice, and characters that play the victim are often the villains while those made out to be villains are nearly always victims. 

10) 'Smiler's Fair'; Rebecca Levene.

Another book that doesn't necessarily involve Diversity as a theme, but I decided to include because of the richly diverse character list. There are of course multiple viewpoints to be found here, but my favourite was Eric's strand of the story, involving his life as a male prostitute and his love for another man, Lahiru. It was one of the sweetest, saddest story-lines of the book and I desperately await Book 2 when I can hopefully see more of these two? Fingers crossed!

Monday 20 July 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (13th July - 19th July)...

The week started off really well, as I went to Thorpe Park with Mat and my two lovely flat mates, Tash and Meg! Despite the fact that I'm not very good with a lot of the extreme rides, and I have an immense fear of water rides, I still had a fantastic time! It was nice to have a whole day out as a Flat together, and despite the recent closures and ride troubles, we managed to get on all the rides that we wanted too! The highlight was being able to take charge of some water cannons with Meg and splash Mat and Tash in the face after they had just recovered from a huge drop on a Log Flume. Very satisfying!

Of course for the rest of the week I worked, which was considerably less exciting. Oxford Street is getting quite busy now so I've been on my feet a lot, meaning I was rather tired when it came to Sunday. Therefore, I spent the day doing a few chores and relaxing which was lovely!

I Read:

Blitzes/Tours/Cover Reveals/Giveaways:


I Posted:

Sunday 19 July 2015

Book Review: The Winner's Crime; Marie Rutkoski.

I had to take a nap straight after reading this in order to sort out my head before writing the review. I still feel a little dazed too. Am I supposed to feel this angry, upset, and yet oddly happy about a big improvement at the same time? I have no idea! Still, I'll explain as best as I can my loves and gripes with this book. I'm entering this into this month's 'Monthly Motif' challenge too, as in her own way Kestrel stands up for her beliefs that other cultures are not to be feared or conquered.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Winner's Crime
AUTHOR: Marie Rutkoski
SERIES: The Winner's Trilogy (#2)
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Childrens
PAGES: 416
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Lady Kestrel's engagement to Valoria's crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust ...

While Arin fights to keep his country's freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. 

What I Liked:
  • My review for 'The Winner's Curse', the first book in the series, was okay but hardly glowing. I definitely felt like this was a big improvement to it's predecessor. One of my gripes had been the constant jumping around and unfinished moments/conversations. The constant change of character happens in this book too, but I felt like Rutkoski actually explored everything fully before moving onto the next scenario. As a result, I was completely hooked by the plot from start to finish and fully invested in the outcome.
  • I guess my other problem with Book One was Kestrel and Arin as a couple. Due to the jumpy, slightly forced nature of the book, I really felt very little in the way of romance between the two of them. However, the atmosphere and chemistry between these two was totally electrifying in this book and I couldn't believe the huge difference. I actually really believed in these two as a couple and wanted them to get together. Thank goodness too, as if I hadn't then I don't think I would have really bothered with the next book in the series.
What I Disliked:
  • With this book comes a huge feeling of frustration and anger. At least, it was there for me. Despite an improved relationship and sexual tension between the two romantic leads, their inability to talk to one another on a basic level wore thin pretty fast. They were so immature at times, and in the most childish way continued the petty charade of pretending not to care in front of each other, while claiming to know the other so well. Not only did I want to throw my Kindle across the room, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed that at times it felt like Rutkoski's plot was reduced to a series of misunderstandings.
  • This is a really small annoyance but were there meant to be chapters? Because there weren't. Any. At all. There were just very sudden, unannounced viewpoint changes that slightly threw me every single time it happened.
Overall Conclusion:
This was certainly a marked improvement to the series and I definitely want to read the final instalment and see what happens. The world-building was not heavy enough to overload you, but definitely provided the information I needed and the plot was thick with twists and turns this time around. There was even an element of mystery that I enjoyed. I loved the political intrigue and the deeper meaning behind the conversations that the characters had, particularly in scenes with the Emperor who was a remarkable villain in the story. I did find myself feeling a great deal of frustration as characters missed the obvious in order to create plot points, but that cliffhanger is too hard to resist.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Book Blitz & Giveaway: 'At The Heart Of The Deep'; Carrie L. Wells.

Welcome everybody to my Book Blitz post for 'At The Heart Of The Deep' by Carrie L. Wells. I've got plenty of treats in store for you, including an Author Q&A, two International Giveaways to enter and all the information you'll need on what looks to be a fantastic read! Enjoy! Make sure to click the picture below to be taken to the Goodreads page!

Synopsis: Oceanographer Luke McAllister races to figure out why the ocean depth is changing off Florida's Treasure Coast. But before he and his crew discover what’s transforming the deep, he stumbles upon an even greater mystery. Leagues below the waves, he swear he sees…a mermaid?

Anya isn’t allowed to get close to humans. But when a golden-haired researcher gets too close to her island, she can’t afford to stay away.

Together, this unlikely pair will seek to discover what’s causing shifts in ocean floor. While their new alliance is forbidden, Anya will risk everything to save her beloved ocean. The only problem is, she’s not sure what’s really luring her in, her love of the sea or the tempest Luke has stirred in her heart. Either way, Anya knows that the dangers facing the sea are nothing compared to what will happen to her when her father learns she’s broken the merfolks’ most sacred law.

Can Anya and Luke discover what lurks at the heart of the deep before it's too late?

About The Author: Carrie L. Wells crosses genres, writing everything from newspaper editorials and textbooks to paranormal romance novellas. Her first fiction publication, The Heart of the Deep, will release in June 2015, followed by Playing with Magic in October 2015. A New England native, she spent her childhood on the beach and inland, fishing and dancing, before moving to Florida. And while she doesn’t tan, nothing keeps her from a walk on the beach.

Carrie earned her Master's degree in English with a minor in Psychology from Hardin-Simmons University and a Bachelor's degree from the University of Central Florida. With a love of chocolate, books, and her family, Carrie braves the world and chaos only children can bring. She currently lives in Florida with her fire-medic hubby and three children. She is an English instructor at Eastern Florida State College.

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Author Q & A

1. What is your favorite mermaid story or myth?

Growing up in New England, it seems all stories were about the ocean. I know it is cliché, but I remember sitting on my grandmother’s porch, looking at the water, and wondering if Marina, the “real” little mermaid was actually out there. I guess she started it all for me.

2. What was the inspiration for your mermaid novella?

I spend a lot of time down in Vero Beach, FL where my sister lives, and since it is on the Treasure Coast there are plenty of stories about buried and found treasure. I wanted to mix pirates with mermaids, and while I didn’t quite do that here, this leads into the next book in my series, The Mark of the Mermaid, which does just that.

3. Cast your characters. If your novella was made into a movie, who would play your main characters?

Anya would be a Drew Barrymore type, independent and a bit silly. I could see her tripping in front of Luke and just laughing it off. Luke, well, I wrote him with the surfer version of Matthew McConaughey in mind. Focused and fun, at home in the water, and cut!

4. What was most challenging thing writing about mermaids?

The challenge was determining how much time to put them on land. It isn’t easy to offer mermaid human interaction in the middle of the ocean, so you need a plausible world where they walk on land.

5. Ursula or Ariel?

Ariel’s curiosity, but not her “sell my soul” naiveté.

6. What else should we know about your novella?

It’s my first! I have plenty more in the works, but I’m busy reveling in this one right now.


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a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Giveaway (the first one) ends on August 8th so that I may get the winner's information in on time for them to receive their prize after August 12th. Enjoy! Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for running this Book Blitz!

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'The Last Books That Came Into My Possession'.

I absolutely adore this Meme, as I have said before, and I really like this as a topic too. It might be a little difficult to track down in terms of time order, but I'm excited to give it a go! I'll start with the most recent and work my way backwards!

1) 'A Thousand Nights'; E.K. Johnston.

Everyone knows that I am a fan of Fairy Tales and Legends, and the One Thousand And One Nights collection is no exception. I would therefore like to thank Netgalley for allowing me the chance to grab a copy of this book! I've read the synopsis for the story and it looks like it will be rather good, so I am very excited about reading this. Hopefully it's as good as it looks like it will be!

2) 'A Whole New World'; Liz Braswell.

This is along a similar theme, as it's a story based on the tale of Aladdin. Or I should say, a re-imagined version of how the story pans out. I have read and really liked the synopsis, and can't wait to see the differences between the two versions of this story. Also, I'm really holding out for a totally badass Jasmine!

3) 'Spinning Starlight'; R.C. Lewis.

I might have actually squealed when Netgalley approved me for this one. It's based on a Hans Christian Andersen story! And it's set in space! I'm really so excited about how good this story could be. It's written by the same lady who wrote 'Stitching Snow' which is another book I quite wanted to read despite it receiving some mixed reviews.

4) 'The One'; Kiera Cass.

I know, I know. I haven't even read 'The Selection', so what am I doing requesting 'The One' from Netgalley? Well of course I'm going  to read it. Despite mixed reviews, this is a series I really want to read because the plot concept actually sounds like a really good one! Hopefully some point soon I'll get round to enjoying this story.

5) 'Station Eleven'; Emily St. John Mandel.

In the process of buying a birthday present, I bought a couple of books for myself too. This was one of them and I am so excited! I keep seeing this book around and want to read it so badly. The synopsis is really exciting and it has been a while since I last read a Dystopian story. I hope this turns out to be as good as the reviews say it is!

6) 'All The Bright Places'; Jennifer Niven.

This was the second book I bought while Birthday present hunting. The reviews for this book were just too good, and many people told me that as I had loved 'The Fault In Our Stars' so much, I would definitely enjoy this one. I don't normally like blurbs that start with 'This book is a mix of <insert famous book names here>' because I am a big fan of originality. But here, I think I'll forgive it because the synopsis actually does sound like it could easily stand by itself!

7) 'Every Last Word'; Tamara Ireland Stone.

Yet another contemporary novel that looks like it could have the power to bring a tear to my eye. This was another Netgalley request that I was really pleased to get! There was a lot of hype surrounding this book when people began receiving an ARC of it, and I would really like to see if it lives up to the fuss. I don't know when I'll get round to this book, but fingers crossed it's in the next few months.

8) 'Mockingjay'; Suzanne Collins.

I got round to reading this book pretty much as soon as it arrived as it had been on my TBR for so long! In the end I found it a fairly satisfying conclusion to 'The Hunger Games Trilogy' as the second half really made up for the slow, slightly frustrating beginning. Most people have probably already read this though, so I'm a little late to the party. Still! It was worth the wait.

10) 'Valiant'; Holly Black.

I bought this alongside 'Mockingjay', and it is on the TBR pile for this month. In fact, it's my next chosen book to read! All I can say is that I'm really looking forward to continuing with this series, as I did enjoy the first book: 'Tithe'. I love the cover artwork and I haven't read a book set in the world of Faeries for a while, so it's an exciting upcoming read for me!

Monday 13 July 2015

How Do I Make My Blog Better?

This is a question I've been asking myself for a little while now. In fact I mentioned way back in May that I had some exciting ideas I wanted to share with you all, but never got round to doing so until now. The thing is, despite continuously coming up with posts, taking part in challenges and writing book reviews, I've felt dissatisfied for some time. The problem isn't that I don't enjoy writing these things; I do! In fact I love it! The problem is that I feel like my Blog doesn't really have a whole lot of personality, or anything interesting that makes it stand out. Some of the best Blogs I read have really interesting discussions and debates, promote books, talk about events they have attended in great detail and do a whole host of things I don't do. I'll explain why:
  • I've been busy. The fact is, I have a full-time job now that takes up five of my precious seven days a week. I have to blog around my shifts, as well as do a ton of chores, try and read books and of course have a social life. It's hard to fit it all in.
  • I've been lazy. Despite the aforementioned hectic schedule, there's no denying that the fault is also on my part. I fall behind on posts all of the time, and I fail to try and sit down and think of ideas. Instead, I've become stuck in a pattern of doing the same memes repeatedly alongside the book reviews. Enough is enough.
All I want is for this Blog to become more 'me' again, rather than being a repetitive chore that I do when I can. Of course I love taking part in the Memes and that will continue but I also want to feel like I'm a part of the community more.

So how do I improve?

Well firstly, more discussion posts! I love reading them so much, why not write some of my own? I do have some ideas, as well some response posts to other discussion posts I have seen on Blogs that I follow. I've been holding these back for far too long!

Next, I plan to get better at Blog design. It's time my blog had a make-over I think. It has always been very basic in it's template because I'm personally a little naff at making headers and using HTML etc. If I can learn to do a better job, I'll think I'll be happier overall.

Book tours, cover reveals and blitzes are also a huge part of the Book Blogging community and up until now, I have rarely got involved. Not just because I worry I'll 'do it wrong' but because I didn't want to commit to something, only to disappoint. Well worry no more everyone, I am on the case! I've signed up to some sites and hope to kick things off very soon!

Do you know what else needs improving? My 'Shenanigans' posts. I need to do more things where I live. This one is hugely important to me because I live in London! I should be making the most of that and finding fun things to do so that you all have fun things to read about (preferably Bookish things)!

These are just a few ideas of mine but there is one more that I'm a little unsure about, and would really like to hear your thoughts on. Some of you may remember this Top Ten Tuesday post on my very own imaginary Fairy Tale Book Club. It had a lot of comments and was very well received as an idea. The books I chose I am so desperate to read too, and I thought 'Hey! What if I actually make this...a thing?'. People would have to be on board with it though to make it work, so please let me know what you think!

I guess this post really kicks of my Discussion post idea. What top tips do you guys have for writing a better Blog? Are these ideas good ones? And what do you think of a Fairy Tale-esque Book Club? Write in the comments below and thank you all for being such wonderful followers!

Last Week's Shenanigans (6th July - 12th July)...

Compared to previous weeks, this one actually ended up being a little more interesting than usual. Firstly, I'm absolutely gutted because I so badly wanted to go to YALC this year but didn't plan properly and can't buy tickets for Sunday now (which was the only day I could go). Part of me feels like crying but I'm trying to stay strong and focus on the other things I should be looking forward to! Monday ended up being quite the quiet day for me, especially as everyone else had work or other things to do. I spent quite a lot of it being productive Blog-wise, so that was good!

The rest of the week I worked (of course) but a little bit of 'excitement' reached me on Wednesday and Thursday due to the Tube strikes. All I will say is that the roads and buses were absolutely horrendous and I ended up being one tired out, frustrated lady upon returning home. I'll just leave it there. Luckily on Saturday, I had dinner with my work friends to cheer me up! We went to a lovely Diner (American themed) named Tinsel Town! The food was really good, and the shakes were incredible! I will certainly return there in the future if I can! Yum!

I Read:


Top Ten Tuesday: Hyped Books That I Have Never Read

Saturday 11 July 2015

Book Review: Sunbolt; Intisar Khanani.

My favourite feeling in the world is picking up a book (expecting just to enjoy it) and then completely being bowled over by and falling in love with it! This was one of those books. I requested it thinking it sounded like the kind of thing I would read, but not having huge expectations, particularly as it was short. Boy do I have some hats to eat! I am also entering this into the 'Key Words Challenge' for having the word 'Sun' in the title!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Sunbolt
AUTHOR: Intisar Khanani
SERIES: The Sunbolt Chronicles (#1)
PUBLISHER: Purple Monkey Press
PAGES: 144
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure
RATING: 5/5 Stars

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

What I Liked:
  • I'll begin with the plot and pacing of Khanani's writing because they were probably the most impressive features of this story. Normally, a book that doesn't reach 200 pages feels short. Especially in Fantasy where I find that the balance of fast-paced action, world-building and character development needs to be just right in order for me to completely connect with it. Somehow though, I felt like I was reading a book double it's 141 page length. Khanani achieved that balance perfectly! There were some amazing twists and turns, and yet the level of detail was enough to wow me, but not so much that I got bored or the pace suffered.
  • Such a colourful cast of characters certainly deserves a round of applause. Hitomi is a diamond when it comes to main characters. She is clever, strong and not so impulsive that she makes a whole host of reckless decisions which I see a lot in YA Fantasy. She had such a great personality that I adored her from the very beginning. The characters surrounding her (good and bad) were great too. The Ghost, Val, Kol, Blackflame, even Saira and the rest of the Degaths impressed me as well and I hope that I get to see all of them again in book two!
  • Despite the use of some common Fantasy tropes, there is a lot of originality in this book. Khanani managed to put a twist on Vampirism and make it feel wholly new to me, despite not really actually changing anything, and I loved the idea of the Breathers. It makes me excited to think that the rest of the series might introduce a whole new host of monsters for me to think about! I loved the spin on Mages too, I'm fed up of them either being the good or bad guys. Their history actually felt complex in this one!
What I Disliked:
  • It's hard for me to write anything here, but despite Khanani achieving the impossible by making the book feel long, I think it could have benefited from the tiniest bit more world-building. Perhaps a little bit more on Hitomi's past, or how she came to join up with The Ghost? Maybe a little more time with Val wouldn't have harmed it either. These are all really minor things and I think I will get these in the books to come, but there was certainly the page space for some more detail.
Overall Conclusion:
So a final word from a very pleased reader? Don't judge a book by it's cover, length, or your own experiences with the genre before. You may find yourself surprised. I certainly did, and I will definitely be reading more of this lady's work too! The book had a fantastic plot, with some gripping twists and gorgeous characters. I'm excited to see what happens to Hitomi and company, and look forward to the release of the next book! Why did I wait so long to read this?!