Sunday, 29 November 2015

Letterbox Love #114

Letterbox Love is a way to give all of the books I receive for review some exposure. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated.

The Island, Olivia Levez (proof)

Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however and with the help of the only other crash survivor she sees that the future is worth fighting for.

A gripping and thoughtful story about a girl who didn’t ask to be the person she is but is also determined to make herself the person she wants to be.

So intriguing! Thanks One World!

How Not to Disappear, Claure Furniss (proof)

Our memories are what make us who we are. Some are real. Some are made up. But they are the stories that tell us who we are. Without them we are nobody.

Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to “find himself” and Kat’s in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding. Oh, and she's also just discovered she's pregnant with Reuben’s baby.

Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one previously knew even existed comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia. Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her pasts before they are wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future…

Non Pratt’s Trouble meets Thelma and Louise with a touch of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, Clare Furniss’s remarkable How Not to Disappear is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that will make you laugh and break your heart.

So ready to have my heart broken by this. Bring it on! Thanks S&S!

Night Study, Maria V Snyder (e-proof)

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia or Sitia is safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. as they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realise it's far more sinister than they could have imagined.

I’m so excited!! After the cliffhanger ending of Shadow Study I am more than ready to devour this. Thanks Harlequin Teen and NetGalley!

The Square Root of Summer, Harriet Reuter Hapgood (proof)

My heart is a kaleidoscope, and when we kiss it makes my world unravel…

Last summer, Gottie’s life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason – the boy to whom she lost her virginity (and her heart) – wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years’ absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Forever everything. And as life turns upside-down again, she starts to experience strange blips in time – back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then…

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tried to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last.

I can't even begin to articulate my excitement for this book!! Thanks Macmillan!

Waiting for Callback, Perdita and Honor Cargill (proof)

When Elektra is discovered by an acting agent, she imagines Oscar glory can’t be far away, but instead lurches from one cringe-worthy moment to the next! Just how many times can you be rejected for the part of ‘Dead Girl Number Three’ without losing hope? And who knew that actors were supposed to be multi-lingual, play seven instruments and be trained in a variety of circus skills?

Off-stage things aren’t going well either – she's fallen out with her best friend, remains firmly in the friend-zone with her crush and her parents are driving her crazy. One way or another, Elektra’s life is now spent waiting for the phone to ring – waiting for callback.

Can an average girl-next-door like Elektra really make it in the world of luvvies and starlets?

This sounds like so much fun! Thanks S&S!

Underwater, Marisa Reichardt (proof)

In order to move on after a traumatic experience, Morgan must learn to forgive – first someone who did something that might be unforgiveable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can't move on. She can't even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she's underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can't hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what's he needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

Another gorgeous proof from Macmillan – thank you!

Changers: Drew, T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper (e-proof)

Some teenagers worry who they’ll wake up next to. Others worry about who they’ll wake up as…

Ethan Miller is about to star high school in a brand-new town. He's finally sporting a haircut he doesn’t hate, has grown two inches since middle school, and can't wait to try out for the soccer team. At last, everything is looking up in life.

Until the next morning. When Ethan wakes up as a girl.

Welcome to the world of Changers.

This sounds interesting! But also like it could be too much like Every Day… Thanks NetGalley and Atom!


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Blog Tour: A Wicked Old Woman

Today I’m welcoming Ravinder Randhawa to the blog for the tour for A Wicked Old Woman!

A Wicked Old Woman is full of passionate and bruised women, buffeted by life, are also intelligent, caring and powerful. Here are some poems that just seem to fit them.

KULWANT, the wicked old woman of the title, loves this poem from the anthology “A Few Figs From Thistles” by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

CAROLINE, Kulwant’s old school friend, receives carefully personalized sonnets, from the younger man who’s in love with her.

Had we world enough and time,
This coyness lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain.

But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
The grave’s a fine and private place
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Had we world enough and time,
This coyness, my dear Caroline, were no crime.
 (Adapted from the sonnet To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell)

MAYA, who’s called the myopic, nursing a broken heart, carries these three verses with her:

You thought you’d make a fool of me
I was so blind but now I see
So now you’ve had your little joke
Guess I’m just warning other folk

You’d looked at me with those bedroom eyes
But your tender words I now despise
You broke my heart through and through
Well honey I’ve got news for you

Your designer clothes are now in rags
Packed up inside black plastic bags
Your car’s been scratched and it’s got a dent
Your name’s been taken off the rent
 (From “It’s Over” by Jan Allison)

RANI/ROSALIND, full of contradictory emotions and anger, as well as fierce independence, often recites this poem to herself, feeling guilty but not knowing what to do.

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
 (A Poison Tree by William Blake)

I love the magic of words, both in prose and poetry.

Ravinder Randhawa


Friday, 27 November 2015

Wolf by Wolf, Ryan Graudin

Pages: 379
Publisher: Indigo
Release Date: 5th November 2015
Edition: UK trade paperback, November Illumicrate book

Other Titles by this Author: The Walled City

Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them – made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.

Germany, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war.

Seventeen-year-old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.

But first she’s got to get close enough to him to do it.

A captivating and unforgettable story from The Walled City author, Ryan Graudin.

Even though lots of my friends have said Wolf by Wolf is one of their favourite books of the year, I was a still a little hesitant to read it, but I'm glad I did.

I don’t like reading about wars, but particularly WWI and WWII – I think my brain has been oversaturated with them at school. I'm sure we studied WWII at least four times? So Wolf by Wolf being an alternate history set in 1956 where Hitler and Axis won the war and the Nazi regime is still going strong, I wasn’t sure if my curiosity would be enough to make me want to read it. Luckily for me, it was the November Illumicrate box so I had no excuse but to give it a go!

The whole premise behind this novel is fascinating. The ramifications of Hitler taking over Europe and spreading into Asia, while the US standing by and declaring no sides, is a terrifying idea, and one that doesn’t feel too impossible with the way of the world at the moment. All of the horrors we’ve learned about in classrooms for the last 70 are still going strong in Yael’s world and she's one of the persecuted. The cruel experiments carried out on prisoners are famed, and without the end of the war, they carried on and got more and more terrifying, and Yael’s has developed the ability to skin shift. It saved her life over and over again and helped the resistance beyond measure, and know she’ll be putting it to the ultimate test.

The motorbike race from Germania to Tokyo is a test of endurance, strength, skill and the ability to survive, and though Yael’s journey was fraught with danger from the sabotage of other contestants, the drama of someone doing everything in his power to protect her and the fear of not succeeding in her task to kill Hitler at the victory ball, I rarely felt the desire to pick up Wolf by Wolf. I was fascinated by the premise, I thought that Yael and her backstory were really well-drawn and interesting, Ryan Graudin has some really beautiful turns of phrase, and yet I didn’t feel anything. Until the final 100 pages.

I was blown away by the last quarter of Wolf by Wolf. Yael had come to the last section of the race and the tension was insane. Sabotage, danger, emotional manipulation and fear flooded the final pages and at 10 pages from the end, I legit had to put the book down for ten minutes to get my sh*t together before I carried on. It was almost painful tension and I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time a book had such a visceral effect on me. And in those last few pages, I was so shocked by what happened that I immediately looked to see if there was a release date for the sequel yet (sadly not). The ending completely turned this book around for me and left me wondering that maybe I was just in the wrong mood for the first 280 pages?

Wolf by Wolf is an alternate history that you won't forget: clever, unexpected and terrifying real.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Blog Tour: The Iron Warrior Playlist!

Today I have the very lovely Julie Kagawa sharing a playlist to celebrate the final (*sob*) book in The Iron Fey series, The Iron Warrior!

Bulletproof Heart by My Chemical Romance

This song shows both the desperation and the defiance Ethan is feeling, wishing he could run away from everything, but knowing the Nevernever will never let him go.

If I Die Young by The Band Perry

This is Kenzie's song, perfectly showing how she feels about the possibility that she might not have long in the world.  It's sad but hopeful, as Kenzie has made her peace with it.

Some Nights by Fun

This song can be for both Ethan and Keirran, as they struggle to understand what they're doing and what they're fighting for. 

I See the Light by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi

A sappy love song that shows Ethan and Kenzie's strange, magical relationship in the Nevernever.

Hand of Sorrow by Within Temptation

Prophesized to bring destruction to the Nevernever, Keirran has become the enemy and the champion of the First Queen.  This song shows his struggle within, even as he accepts that he must wage war on his family and everything he loved.

The Iron Warrior is in shops now!

Share your #TheIronWarrior experience
@Jkagawa @MIRAInk

Thank you so much to Midas PR and Julie Kagawa for a cool post! If you haven’t read The Iron Fey series, you really should – it’s brilliant!


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Barbara the Slut and Other People, Lauren Holmes

Pages: 272
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Release Date: 13th August 2015
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy

A fresh, honest, darkly funny debut collection about family, friends, and lovers, and the flaws that make us most human.

One woman takes a job selling sex toys in San Francisco rather than embark on the law career she pursued only for the sake of her father. Another realises she much prefers the company of her pitbull – and herself – to the neurotic foreign fling who won't decamp from her apartment. A daughter hauls a suitcase of lingerie to Mexico for her flighty, estranged mother to resell there, wondering whether her personal mission – to come out – is worth the same effort. And Barbara, a young woman with an autistic brother, a Princeton acceptance letter, and a love of sex navigates her high school’s toxic, slut-shaming culture with open eyes.

Fearless, candid, and incredibly funny, Lauren Homes is a newcomer who writes like a master. She tackles eros and intimacy with a deceptively light touch, a keen awareness of how their nervous systems tangle and sometimes short-circuit, and a genius for revealing out most, vulnerable, spirited selves. With heart, sass and pitch-perfect characters, Barbara the Slut is a head-turning debut from a writer with a limitless career before her.

I've recently become really intrigued by short story collections so when I spotted Barbara the Slut and Other People on NetGalley, I snapped it up. And I really enjoyed it!

The ten stories in this collection aren’t really stories; they’re what the title implies – snapshots of people and their lives. None of them have a particularly strong plot or a distinct beginning or ending which makes them kinda hard to review really! The collection covers people of all ages, different lifestyles, situations and personalities, and even the POV of a dog… Every voice was distinct and unique and they sat apart so strongly that I had to have a little Twitter break between each story to be able to move on.

With the exception of the final story, the titular Barbara the Slut, I enjoy the stories in the first half of the collection a lot more than the second half. I loved the brutually honest way they approached sex, love, loneliness, the fallout of living by someone else’s wants for you and not having a distinct path in life. They were bold and refreshing, even if I never fully connected to the characters. The second half was a lot more experimental in narrative and I felt a lot more disconnected from the stories. It felt like Lauren Holmes was trying to experiment and push the boundaries, losing the organic feel of the earlier stories.

Barbara the Slut and Other People is a fascinating collection and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on Lauren Holmes in the future, she has a lot of promise.

Thanks to Fourth Estate and NetGalley for the review copy.