Tuesday, 10 October 2017

RSM - A Break


Which means, for a little while, am going to go on a blog break. Nothing hugely. Maybe two weeks, maybe longer...

It's not a big deal. I will be in the country for the next few days so will be tweeting/Instagraming like normal. Plus, with October being a month where am focusing on quite a few meaty books (Fate of the Tearling, Origin, La Belle Sauvage, etc), so a blog break might do me some good as I won't (in theory) worry about getting reviews up.

When I come back from my break and have got myself more in control of blog posts and ideas, will shout at you. But am off on my hols now so I'll see you all when I get back. Stay safe, stay happy and I will see your faces all real soon!!!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Quieter Than Killing Blog Tour Stop

Why, hello and welcome to my stop of the Quieter Than Killing blog tour. As you guys know, I enjoy reading a good crime novel and am always on the hunt to discover new authors in the genre. So, when this blog tour came on my radar, I couldn't resist.

Quieter Than Killing is the fourth DI Marnie Rome series where she and her partner, Noah, are investigating a series of random assaults. But they're not random as they first appear as all the victims have been convicted of violent crimes and have just been released. But as they investigate further, outside dramas effect them both: Marnie's parents' home has been targeted by a gang of youths and her tenants have been attacked in an apparent robbery and Marnie can't help but feel that there's a connection between what happening and  her foster brother, Stephen. All the while, Noah's brother might be involved in gang, though he claims that he isn't.

As Marnie and Noah investigate the three cases, they can't help but wonder whether the cases are connected in some way. Because some crimes are much quieter and more insidious than killing... and if this true, they all better be careful...

Doesn't that sound tense and creepy?! Right up my street for crime! I can't wait for it to get darker and sink my teeth into this!

But that's not what this stop is about. I am very lucky to have Sarah Hilary talking about some chilling Autumn reads, books that will give you a shiver (and not just because of the turning weather!).

So, before I hand it over to Sarah, I must thank her for finding time to write this tiny post (and I blame her for me looking up one or two of her titles and go "That sounds good...") and I want to thank Katie at Headline/BookBridgr for allowing me to pop on this!

Now, are we sitting comfortably? ... good. Then Sarah will begin...

Friday, 6 October 2017

A Shiver of Snow and Sky Extract & Giveaway!

SURPRISE!!! This is my day on the A Shiver of Snow and Sky blog tour! And I have a double-whammy for you all!

For those curious, A Shiver of Snow and Sky is set on the island of Skane where the sky speaks. Beautiful, colourful lights fill the sky, relaying a message from the Goddess. Green means all is well, blue means a snow storm is coming and red... red is rare and it's a warning... 

And the last time the sky turned red, it was seventeen years ago, Ósa was just born and a disease went through her village, killing hundreds of villagers, including her mother. Now Ósa is determined to figure out how to stop the onslaught before it destroys her village... 

Now I have wetted your appetite, I'm going to tease you with an extract from the story and, if that grabs your attention, I have a small contest for you to enter (if you want to enter, all the details will be on the Google Form so check that before you enter, ok?). All the details for the contest is on the form so read before you enter.

With all that out of the way, ONTO THE EXTRACT AND THE CONTEST!!!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

BBC National Short Story Award & BBC Young Writers Award 2017

Or, if you fancy a subtitle, "A Boob At the Beeb" (You can blame @gavreads for that and all will be revealed in the next few paragraphs).

As you know, I have been blogging/tweeting about the BBC Young Writers Awards in the past few weeks and, because of this, I was asked very kindly if I wanted to go to the award ceremony for the BBC Young Writers Awards and the BBC National Short Story Award 2017. I jumped at the chance! I mean, it's the BBC! And I love stories - and I love any excuse to book a half day off work to come to London to celebrate stories! (Booked today off as can write this and one other blog post up)! Plus, the idea of discovering new authors I have never heard of before was delicious!

So, yesterday, after panicking about train strikes (because I couldn't get my train app to work!), I made my way and, after getting off a tube stop two stops earlier than I needed to (was power-reading Fate of the Tearling and thought I had missed my stop!), I found the BBC.

It's an odd feeling as the BBC is a huge thing. We all use the BBC in one form or other (TV, radio, internet, app, podcast, etc) so to be there was a surreal moment. And exciting! I saw the window into the One Show studios opposite a coffee shop where I bought coffee and cake. Only to have the plastic fork snap and the cake go splat on the floor.

I dropped cake outside of the BBC! I DROPPED CAKE OUTSIDE THE BBC! It can't get worse than that on my first visit, I thought to myself as I went into receptionist to find where I was going.

How very wrong I was.

After I was pointed in right direction and did quick security check, had to put my bag and hoodie into coat-locker. Which is fine. So, I took off my hoodie. And my T-shirt decided that it loved my hoodie too much and didn't want to be parted from its lover. When I realised what was happening, my naked stomach and a good chuck of my chest were on show. I FLASHED MY MALE BOOBS TO SEVERAL SECURITY GUARDS AT THE BBC! OH! MY!! GOD!!!

Am never going to be invited back. Ever.

Moving quickly away from that! After that, I chatted to the lovely ladies at ED PR (Emma, Frances and Annabelle) who invited me to the event and an editor at Fleet Books (who's name has gone completely out of my head as I am useless with names! Sorry! And sorry for grilling you about your job - I went a bit OTT on the question front!).

And after discovering there were more people there I knew than I first realised, we had to be whisked into the BBC Radio Theatre where the winners to both the BBC National Short Story Awards and BBC Young Writers Award were going to be announced live on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. (Yes, dear reader, it was announced on Radio 4 so I had to pretend to be smart!). And after a quick speech from three editors at the BBC (I have forgotten one name already [sorry], but we had Di Speirs [Editor of Books] and Aled Haydn Jones [Radio 1's Head of Programmes]), we had the host of Front Row, chat to us and then, we were on the air!

For those of you who want to listen to the show, check out the show here or download the podcast here (it's the National Short Story Awards 2017 episode you want)!

Both winners were announced live on the radio. The winner of the National Short Story Awards 2017 was Cynan Jones's The Edge of the Shoal and the Young Writer's Award winner was Elizabeth Ryder with The Roses. Now, I haven't read/heard any of the stories on the National Short Story shortlist yet (you can read them in the small collection, published by Comma Press or listen to the them via the BBC's new Short Stories podcast), but I have spent most of this morning reading all five entries of the BBC Young Writers Awards 2017 (all are on the website!) and all are extraordinary, and I hope that all five will have literary agents before next year's awards...

After the show, most of us were thrown into the area where there was wine, a view of the BBC News area (Very open-planned. Very swish!) and I chatted books with people I knew [Hi Rosi, Nina and everyone!]. We chatted about the World Book Day list, books we have/haven't read recently (the reaction I got when I admitted I still haven't read The Hate U Give because the hype I built for it in my head was priceless!), and other odds and ends.

And after that, I went home. I know. A bit anti-climatic. But I had three glasses on wine on a semi-empty stomach so that made things interesting! But to everyone involved in last night's events and involved with both awards, thank you for a wonderful evening. I can't wait to see what you guys are going to do for next year's National Short Story Awards, Young Writers Awards and the new Student Critics Award...!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Through the Kindle TBR

I try not to look at my kindle TBR. I buy a lot of ebooks on my kindle - usually when they are on sale. And, as am in the mood for sharing/having you all gasp in horror and go "WHY HAVEN'T YOU READ THAT YET?!", I thought I would pick a few out at random and go "I have this on my kindle and one day... one day, I will read this!"

Oh, just to be clear, these are ebooks I have bought. None on this is my eProofs. I will reveal a few of those one day... maybe not yet though...

I have three of her books on my kindle - Poison Study, Touch of Power and Scent of Magic. I know, I know. I am a huge fantasy reader and, somehow, this author has gone by me. I was aware of her but it was only in the past few years that I have gone "Ok, I need to make an effort to read her as this author sounds right up my street". So, I got these... and I have never read them. Now, I have every intention to read them. I am thinking I will read either Poison Study or Touch of Power before the end of 2018. I'm not sure which, but I am aware I need to get my rear in gear on this author!

THE SEVEN KINGDOMS Trilogy by Kristin Cashore
I have all three books within this trilogy on my kindle. THEY WERE ON SALE AND I AM WEAK AND I STILL HAVEN'T READ THEM! But the hype! Oh, the hype, dear reader when this trilogy came out was scary. I love fantasy and this sounds perfect for me - very much in the same way that Maria V. Snyder (and Trudi Canavan - some of you mention her in passing). But the hype and the passion the fans have for this series scare me a little. I would like to read Graceling soon (very much like Poison Study and Touch of Power), but when I do, I want to read it with very low expectations. I don't want the hype to to lead me to a "It's ok, I guess" situation.

I swear, most of my kindle TBR isn't just fantasy. Honest! But fantasy and crime/thrillers are genres I go towards normally, hence my choices. But I saw the cover and hear the early buzz about this series and I was intrigued. Not sure now and heard that one or two books in the series aren't really needed, but I want to give this a try! Same goes with Crown of Midnight that is still sitting on my kindle, demanding I get into the Throne of Glass fandom.

HAVEMERCY by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
You can blame Stevie from SableCaught for this being here. She was the one who got me aware of this and a few Terry Pratchett books that are on my radar (but not on my kindle. One mission read at a time!). But a book about clockwork dragons with LGBT+ leads? SIGN ME UP!

Do I really need to go into this? *Picks two other titles on my kindle to distract*

U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton
Like I said earlier on, I like a bit of crime. And this book - along with another book in Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series (R is for Ricochet) - catch my eye. This title follows someone who claims he remembered a crime happening when he was six year old - a kidnapping. But is it a case of the boy who cried wolf or is there some truth to his memory?

I got this when there was a glitch on price on Amazon preorder. It's the whole series and everyone who I chat to when I mention I have this LOVES Diana Wynne Jones. Though I think everyone has read Howl's Moving Castle (I haven't and not sure I will - the movie's has excited/spoilt me a little). Plus, I think I have read one of these titles many, many years ago. I'm not sure and I can't remember the plot. Am such is was Witch Week, but until I sit down and start making my way through this collection, we will have to see...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

BBC Young Writers' Award 2017 Shortlist!

If you were just listening to BBC Radio One, you would have just heard Alice Levine announce the shortlist to this year's BBC Young Writers' Award 2017! 

For the third year running, this contest is on the hunt for fresh writing talent from teens aged 14 to 18 and this year, there were over 500 entries, which Alice (the head judge) and her fellow judges, authors Holly Bourne and Nikesh Shukla had to read and judge. 

And it is an honour to be asked to reveal the shortlist on the Pewter Wolf with little info from the press release! Each of these stories sound gripping and something I would happily devour in one sitting! 

Now, for those curious about when the winner is revealed, they will be revealed this coming Tuesday  on BBC Radio 4's Front Row (7:15pm, just after The Archers) with the announcement of the winner of the BBC National Short Story Award and the Young Writers' Award winner will have their story read on Alice's show the following Saturday. Fast turnaround, I know! 

Ok, before I give you the press release, if you are curious over this and want to know more, check out www.bbc.co.uk/ywa or follow the #BBCYWA hashtag on social media (here's the link to Twitter!). 


Friday, 29 September 2017

Another NetGalley Declined

I do believe that my cries to publishers of "You can't decline me on NetGalley and other review sites! I won't mind! Honest!" are beginning to be heard. And I'm a mix of thrilled (my TBR thanks you) and, in one case recently, a little disappointed as I REALLY WANNA READ IT!

Oh well! No biggie.

For those curious, when I say NetGalley, it's basically me being too lazy to say eProofs/Advance Reader Copy. And I have four declines that I want to show you as I want to show you guys that I am trying to read different books outside my comfort zone (and because I'm not reading/going to read these, doesn't mean you shouldn't if they call to you!).

So... let's get start!

Ballantine Press - GoodReads Link
A historical mystery set round Christmas? Perfect! I am trying to read more seasonal reads and get myself more in sync with books and weather. Plus, I am always a fan of a good murder mystery. I get why I was declined this - this being published in the US so why have a UK-based blogger read and review it - but I believe this does have a UK publisher so if I am still in the mood to read this in a month or so, I will try and

THE QUARTERBACK by Mackenzie Blair
Riptide Publishing - GoodReads Link
Ok, I have to admit it. The cover was the first thing that caught my attention. I am that shallow. But once I read the blurb, I was intrigued to read this LGBT romance. Yes, it's a coming-out story and I am very uncertain of these (sometimes, the handling of these can be very heavy-handed), but I thought "Why not?" on requesting it. They declined but that's ok. It was a late night whim!

JEK/HYDE by Amy Ross
Harlequin Teen Australia - GoodReads Link
An Australia reimagining of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - this hook and the cover were the reasons I requested this. Plus, I had read a "sequel" to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which tackled the issue of identity thief, so I was in the mood for trying this out. Plus, I was curious/worried over how the author was going to bring this story into the present day. And from the looks of the reviews, while I would whizz through this, there would have been one or two things I would go "Hang on a second!" and question... Maybe I had a lucky escape.

HOW TO BE CHAMPION by Sarah Millican
Trapeze/Orion Books - GoodReads Link
Like I said at the start of this post, there was one book that I got the "Thank you for requesting this eProof, and sadly, you have been declined" email and I went "NO!" and would have a tiny book blogger sulk. This was that book. I find Sarah funny (will put a link to her standup here and here - there might be some sweary) so reading this was going to be either hilarious or am going to tear my hair out (look at the cover! She did something weird with the buttons of her cardigan). But I am going to read/audiobook this! It might not be when it's realised but I will do some plotting and soon... soon... if I have the funds, of course!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

eBook Review - Every Heart A Doorway

This was a mistake buy. I feel like I need to state that. I was aware of this eBook and I was intrigued by it. So, I was going to download the sampler of it on my kindle and read it quickly as there was an offer on its price. Expect I hit buy instead. I was at work on my phone when I bought it and knew I couldn't return it till I get home and on my laptop, so when I told people on Twitter, everyone basically said "No! Keep it! Trust us on this!". And I trusted you guys so, kept on my kindle for the perfect moment. And seeing as next month is my holiday month and am planning to read a lot of thick books, it felt right to read now. (Plus, other half saw cover and went "Read that next").

Ever wondered what happened to kids who step through a magic door into another world? Step into the wardrobe, crawl under the bed, step into a chest, fall down the rabbit hole. Well, that's not what this novella/series is about. It's the not what happened to them in the world they discovered - it's what would happened when they come back...

The Miss Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children accept children that slip into other worlds and help them find themselves once they come back. For every child attending this school all want to return to the world they discovered.

Nancy is a new student, sent her by her parents who believe the school will help her over her "trauma", not believe that she travelled to a world very similar to the Underworld. But her arrival has a knock on effect when something terrible happened... And it's going to happen again if Nancy and her classmates can't stop it.

This is a weird novella to describe. The best way I can think of is it's a bit of a mash-up between Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and X-Men, with the feeling/tone of The Night Circus about it.

It's a little gem of a book. It's not perfect (more on that later), but for the most part, it works. It tackles an idea of "what happened when the kids who discovered a wonderful world return?" and flip it on its head. And the world of this idea is intriguing - I know at the time of writing this, this is meant to be a trilogy but I want it to be a series as there are ideas/places/characters that call to me and I want to know more and I would happily read full-blown novels about them. I would happily read them and go "MORE!".

One of the aspects of this story I love is the diversity! The diversity in this book is on point. Nancy, our main character, identifies herself as asexual. Another main character, Kade (who I love and I will pay good money to read him!) is transgender. We have characters in here that hint that they are part of the LGBT community and the BAME community without saying outright. I love that this felt like it had a wide range of characters.

I do have problems. But these can be summed up in one fault. This is a novella of 176 pages. This length is too short for this story and the ideas mentioned and touched upon. The last quarter felt rushed and lacked depth. The murder mystery element was rushed and felt anti-climatic when who/what/why was revealed (I guessed these quite quickly), character development wasn't fleshed-out as I hoped and there was several things that happened in final chapter and epilogue that made me go "Oh, that's convenient.".

If this story had a hundred pages extra, it would have worked in my opinion. We would have built the tension to the mystery, spent time with characters and saw their development (one character came in quite late in the story and the world he went to intrigues me but due to how late he appeared, we know incredibly little), we could have explored the ideas, worlds and places (there's a second school briefly mentioned that similar to this school and I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT!). But it felt as if the author had a word count or page limit and she was going to stick to it, no matter what.

I am going to read the other stories in this series (at the moment, we have Down Among the Sticks and Bones [a prequel following two characters we meet in Every Heart a Doorway] and Beneath the Sugar Sky [a sequel, I think. Don't hold me to that]). Let me make that clear - if I can get my hands on them, I will read them.

Every Heart a Doorway has so much potential, and while it doesn't hit all of them, it looks like it's going to be a start of a wonderful series.