Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas - review



Publisher: Delacorte Press

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone. (Publishers blurb)

I received this book on Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.


This was a fast-paced book that didn't take me long to read at all. I wanted to know what happened to Bailey and was intrigued to piece the clues together.


I really liked the structure of this book, with the majority of the story told from Kacey's viewpoint and diary entries that illuminated the motives of another character. Seeing the events from different perspectives enhanced the experience of trying to solve the mystery. 

The pacing had a good balance of tension, scary scenes and lighter moments. A couple of plot elements disappointed me, but overall plotting was a real strength of the book and I found it hard to predict what was going to happen!

I liked the fact that the book explored Kacey's relationship with her step-siblings, as I haven't seen this in many YAs that I've read recently. 


I found this a tense, enjoyable read that kept me guessing.





If you liked the sound of this, now try Lying about Last Summer by Sue Wallman, which I reviewed here or Cruel Summer by Juno Dawson, which I reviewed here

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber - review



Publisher: Walker Books (5th January 2017)

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants. (Publishers' blurb)

This is a book that I probably don't have to tell you to read - the chances are you already have based on the love I've seen for Wing Jones online. If, like me, you're a little late to get around to it, I recommend that you make it a priority! This is a beautifully written, uplifting book with amazing characters. 

Wing herself was my favourite part of this book. She had so many layers and her responses to the events of the book were believable and relateable. I liked watching her grow as a character and that she didn't always have the answers.

Katherine Webber's descriptions of the 1995 deep south setting evoked strong feelings of the time and place. These created an effective backdrop for Wing's conviction that she is between two worlds and her journey towards finding her place. 

The voice of this book was very convincing, capturing Wing's emotions amidst vivid, sensory descriptions and whimsical touches that I really enjoyed.

This has been a great year for books and Wing Jones has been one of my favourites so far.







If you liked the sound of this, try Truth or Dare by Non Pratt, which I reviewed here.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

There's someone inside your house by Stephanie Perkins - review


Publisher: Macmillan Children's books (5th October 2017)

It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.

Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets. (Publishers' blurb)



I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

This was the book I was most excited about at YALC and I was thrilled to get a copy. I’m a big fan of the 90s Point Horror series and slasher movies, but I haven’t read a recent YA along these lines. There’s Someone in Your House is a thrilling, gruesome book and I enjoyed every page!

One of the best things about this book was the pacing. It’s so cleverly plotted that there wasn’t a single moment where I got bored, or was pulled out of the narrative because something just didn’t make sense. A couple of plot points weren't quite as strong in my opinion, but overall it kept me guessing, and had me caring about these characters who may or may not be brutally murdered.

Even the minor characters who only lasted a few pages were really well developed, and I was never sure who was going to make it to the end of the book. I warmed to the core group of characters, and there’s an amazing romance that I was 100% behind.

The horror elements were also brilliant. It was gory in places, and tense all the way through. The book kept a really good balance of elements, so the lighter moments and romance were all the sweeter against the darkness and horror.


This is one of the best horror books I’ve read for ages and I really hope Stephanie Perkins writes more!




If you liked the sound of this, now try Cruel Summer by Juno Dawson. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

YALC Write-up and signed Darker Shade of Magic Giveaway

I’ve been to every YALC and it gets better each year. This time, I split my time between YALC and having photographs taken at LFCC. I met so many lovely people (Steph @eenalol, Liv (@liv_gacka), Cora (@Corazzz), Kelly (@kellysambles) and many more) attended inspirational workshops and panels, and got more books than I could squeeze into two suitcases. Who needs clothes?



One of those books is an extra signed copy of A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab. You can earn up to three entries by following my blog, leaving a comment and retweeting my pinned tweet (@yaundermyskin).

This is my book haul, a mixture of books I bought, samplers and proof copies. The process of dashing around to some stalls for proofs was quite stressful, so I avoided going for those.


I’ve already read There’s someone inside your house and it was incredible – a super tense, scary and romantic read. I’m really excited about Everless in particular (and in love with the white cover). 

At London Film and Comic Con, I had photos with Kevin Smith, Finn Jones, Michael Rosenbaum and Alyson Hannigan.

Special mention has to go to Alyson Hannigan, since Willow has been one of my favourite characters since Buffy started. She was really friendly and I don’t think I’ve ever been so star struck!

There were so many amazing things to do at YALC and LFCC that I couldn’t fit it all in. These are the highlights of the events that I attended. Everything is based on my speedily scribbled notes, so apologies for any misquotes or errors!

Friday

I started off in a writing workshop with Olivia Levez, author of The Island and The Circus
This was a fun opportunity to write a circus scene as a villain with Olivia's guidance, using her prompts, tips about making a scene cinematic and writing prompts.



My next stop was the Heroines panel with Sophia Bennett, Melinda Salisbury, Amy Alward, Laure Eve and Alwyn Hamilton. I adore all of these authors, so this was a massive treat! I was interested (and unsurprised) by what Laure Eve had to say about her heroes. She’s interested in writing villains, who know what they want and are willing to do anything to get it. They said overall that heroines are characters who have agency, that you can root for and who stand up for their beliefs. Alwyn is drawn to characters learning to be heroes, while Laure is interested in where it goes wrong for them. Sophia made the very important point that we need a variety of role models, and girls need to see themselves in books.


I was really excited by the Thrillers panel, because this seems to be a genre that I’m reading more and more. The main point I took away from this is that a lot of us like a bit of light in contrast to dark subjects in thrillers. Karen McManus also made a comment that stood out to me, about thrillers creating tension by giving readers characters they care about and then making them miserable. It was really great to hear about the many forms that YA thrillers can take. I’ve already read Emily Barr and Karen McManus’s books, but I definitely need to pick up Sweetfreak by Sophie McKenzie. 


The Buffy panel was the essential ending to my day. It was so fun to hear some of my favourite authors quoting Buffy and discussing their favourite (and controversial least favourite) episodes.



After YALC, I headed to Quiz YA, which was run by the amazing Non Pratt as a fundraiser for the Royal Hospital for Neural-disability. This was a great chance to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones (especially Millie @bookbirdfiction and Holly @HollyStorm). I also got to be on Alwyn Hamilton’s quiz team, which was very exciting as she's one of my favourite authors! Although we didn’t win, we had a lot of fun (and ate a lot of sweets).

Saturday

I spent most of this day queuing for photos (totally worth it) and feeling excited about seeing Laini Taylor’s panel at the end of the day. I also picked up a couple of great proofs and had my books signed by VE Schwab, who is super friendly and smart!

The only workshop I did was Melinda Salisbury’s Books and bags, where we learned how to make cute bags out of books, and weren’t at all surprised that Mel enjoyed wielding sharp tools.

 Laini Taylor’s panel was one of my highlights of the weekend. She was interviewed by Katherine Webber, the author of Wing Jones, which made this extra special because Wing is one of my favourite debuts of the year!
Laini talked about her idea for Strange the Dreamer being made up of a few premises that fit together. Her initial idea was the Muse of Nightmares, and the left behind children of murdered gods. Lazlo stole the story from them! For her, stories grounded in our reality are easier – it’s harder once you strip away pop culture and wider cultural references.
Katherine commented on Laini’s amazing world building, and she said that’s all she did as a young writer! Now, she doesn’t do as much world building. She likes to leave corners of the world unfinished, because you don’t know what you’ll need.
It was incredibly reassuring to hear that Laini has to find the right way into a story, and she decided to introduce the city of Weep through the eyes of an outsider.

The books that made me panel featured the dream team of Laini Taylor, VE Schwab and Joanne Harris. My favourite part of this was when V talked about Harry Potter. Her mum’s friend called about this book she’d got signed for V from some unknown author called JK Rowling!


Sunday

My first workshop was Writing from Myth with Sarah Mussi. This was a really useful workshop where we looked at the elements of a story and how you can draw out key elements from a myth. It’s a bit like writing fan fiction, as it’s based on a story that already exists. Myths are proven to have powerful elements.

I then attended Rhian Ivory’s wonderful Dialogue writing workshop. She talked about how important dialogue is in terms of showing who characters are by what they say and do. It’s also easy to get wrong! She gave us each a book quote and we jotted down notes about the character. I got The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which I haven’t read yet, so this was an interesting exercise! I then worked with the lovely Kirsty Stanley (@kirstyes) on putting our characters into a scene together. She got Noah from Noah Can’t Even, and hilarity ensued…

Next I attended Kevin Smith’s panel, who has been one of my favourite directors since I was in my early teens. Dogma and Mallrats are my favourites of his films!

The weekend ended on a high with Juno Dawson interviewing Patrick Ness. I love both authors and it was a joy to hear them talking about writing (and making filthy jokes!) Patrick Ness talked about drawing inspirations for Release from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Forever by Judy Blume. The book isn’t autobiographical, but there’s a lot of him in it and some events really happened.

YALC was an amazing, inspirational weekend and I’m so grateful to the organisers and the authors who attended.

Thanks for reading my exceptionally long post (if you've made it this far) – good luck with the giveaway!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Waste of Space by Gina Damico - review



Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.


Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality. (Publishers’ marketplace)


This blurb really appealed to me but I didn't know what to expect. It ended up being a fun, unpredictable read.


The structure of this book felt fresh, as it was written like genuine documentation about the reality TV show. The voices of each different extract came across as very authentic, and were pieced together cleverly to create a cohesive narrative. It reminded me a lot of The Illuminae Files, even though the kids in this book aren’t really in space!


It was interesting how the book highlighted that the children were selected for the TV show because on the surface they represented certain groups. This provided a lot of opportunities to challenge stereotypes and flesh out characters as the book went on. The only downside of the cast size was that I didn't connect quite as much with the characters.

Another thing I really liked was the idea behind the book. It was original, current and executed brilliantly. The reality TV concept was a strong hook and the action definitely lived up to the idea. I loved how this book took some unexpected turns and I really hope there's a sequel!



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Siobhan Curham Guest Post - On writing 'Tell it to the Moon'

I have a fabulous guest post today from Siobhan Curham, the author of the gorgeous Moonlight Dreamers series. The sequel Tell it to the Moon is out on 3rd August and it sounds like a lovely, uplifting story of friendship. You can read more about the book here.

For today's guest post, Siobhan shares her process of writing Tell it to the Moon and offers some fantastic writing advice.



On writing Tell it to the Moon


I started the writing process of Tell it to the Moon by taking myself out to a cafĂ© with a notebook and pen and having a coffee-and-cake-fuelled brainstorm about the issues I wanted to cover in the book. Writing a novel is a long and solitary process, so it’s really important to write about subjects and characters that fire you up and will keep you entertained. Writing a sequel is easier in some respects because you already have a fully formed cast of characters, but the challenge lies in keeping the storylines fresh and interesting.

So I asked myself the questions: What do you really want to write about? What makes you angry / inspired / excited / curious? Then I began jotting down ideas. The first subject that came up for me was the school system and how I feel it’s failing young people. So I decided to explore this through the character of Sky, who, in Tell it to the Moon, is sent to high school at the age of sixteen after being home-schooled her whole life. Another issue I was keen to explore was sexuality and coming out. I was also interested in testing Maali’s spiritual faith to breaking point, and I decided to give Amber an identity crisis and continue the bullying storyline that I’d started in the first book.

Once I’d figured out the main storylines for each of the characters, I took a pack of index cards and wrote out the major scenes on them. Then I played around with the order and started filling in the gaps with more scene cards – at this point most of my living room floor was covered in the plot, which made for an interesting talking point with any visitors! Then I started writing.

Once I started writing, other ideas for the plot began popping up. In the first book I’d been keen to avoid any of the characters having a romantic relationship, as I wanted the emphasis to be on the girls’ friendships. But this time round I thought it would be interesting to have one of the characters completely unexpectedly fall in love and examine the impact this would have on her friendships within the group. I also got the idea to send one of the characters off on her own mini-adventure.

I like to be flexible with the plot as I’ve learned that often the best ideas come up once I’ve started writing. Sometimes it feels as if the characters have taken over and they’re telling you what they’d like you to write. I love it when this happens because it means I’m really in the creative flow.

I wrote all of the first draft at my computer, apart from Sky’s poems. For those, I took myself off to Brighton beach with a notepad and pen and wrote them free-hand, imagining I was her. It’s fun being a writer, pretending to be another writer! Then I typed them up into the manuscript.

As with every novel I’ve written, for about the first half, the task ahead feels incredibly daunting. Especially when I looked at my scene cards all laid out and saw how far I still had to go. But once you pass the half way mark something shifts psychologically. I also seem to pick up speed with my writing, which provides another boost. Finally getting to that very last scene card is one of the sweetest feelings in the world, beaten only by typing the magical words: THE END.

But of course, it’s only the end of the first draft. Then the editing begins…

It took a couple of redrafts to knock the book into shape – it’s hard juggling four separate storylines and my editor’s great at spotting which character isn’t quite getting her fair share of the spotlight, or which story needs a bit of fine-tuning.

Once a novel is edited, it has two final checks: the copy edit and the proof read, both of which are done by separate people, so it’s being looked at by fresh pairs of eyes. Then finally, I’m sent a proof copy – the first time I get to see the novel laid out in book form, which is always a thrill.

But nothing beats the thrill of seeing the finished product. And this was particularly true with Tell it to the Moon, as I was so delighted with the beautiful cover Walker Books created. Seeing your finished book makes all of the hard work of plotting, writing, rewriting and editing so worthwhile. And it’s a dream that every aspiring writer should hold on to.

********

Thanks so much Siobhan! I love gaining an insight into the writing process and picking up tips from writers that I admire.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt - review




A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian's "writer to watch" Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you're willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose? (Publishers' blurb)





I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

It's been a glorious year for YA contemporary, with The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, Release by Patrick Ness, Wing Jones by Katherine Webber and now Truth or Dare by Non Pratt. 

The structure of this book was sheer brilliance and it worked really well for the plot. I loved how the first half of the book was told from Claire's perspective and then the book literally flipped for Sef's. When I got to the end of Claire's section I was initially gutted, as she was a great character and I became really attached to her viewpoint.
Seeing the story from Sef's side was really effective, in terms of seeing his views on what had already happened as well as revealing new pieces of the story. 

Both characters had strong, distinctive voices, and this made me invested in both of their stories. I liked that certain character's motivations weren't always admirable (I'm trying really hard to avoid spoilers here!) as it felt realistic. 

This also gave me such powerful feels that I cried from happiness a couple of times (which is not at all like me!) It made me hopeful about the state of humanity to think that two people could embark on a journey to raise money for someone else. I thought the book dealt really well with the subject of brain injury, considering how it would impact on the person affected and those around them. 

Truth or Dare is a heartwarming, moving book that is also very real and funny. Even writing this review is making me want to start reading it all over again.





Thursday, 6 July 2017

Interview with Dyan Sheldon - More Than One Way To Be a Girl release day


To celebrate today's release of More Than One Way To Be a Girl, the wonderful author Dyan Sheldon has shared her favourite books, movies and TV shows. I've just started reading my copy and it's the perfect mix of fun and humour, set against serious discussions about gender and identity.

I'll share a little bit about the book and then hand over to Dyan. 

From the writer of Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen and My Worst Best Friend comes this hugely entertaining teen read, all about what it really means to be a girl. ZiZi likes to think of herself as a girly girl: her wardrobe is almost exclusively pink, her daily makeup routine can take upwards of an hour and she loves a bit of a flirt. Her best friend Loretta is very different: all of her clothes are black, she doesn't wear any makeup whatsoever and she doesn't like the way ZiZi dumbs herself down for boys - or her old-fashioned ideas about "a woman's place". One day, they decide to make a bet. Can ZiZi stand looking like Loretta for longer than Loretta can bear dressing like ZiZi? As their summer unfolds - often hilariously - the pair are surprised to find they have a lot to learn from each other. (Publishers' blurb)

Favourite YA book/s

One of my all-time favourite YA books (though it’s definitely one that spans generations) is THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE AGE 133/4. I’m not an expert on fictional diaries, but I can’t believe that anyone’s ever done it better. It’s funny, it’s warm, it’s clever, and it catches the time in which its set perfectly. What’s even better, is that there are more of Adrian’s diaries, following him into the future he never imagined he’d have – and they’re every bit as good.

Next up, is Patrick Ness’s THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. This is the first book in his brilliant Chaos Walking series, and I have to say it’s my favourite. When I first read it I was, as they say, gob-smacked. It’s so complex, so bold and so original. Indeed, I can’t think of another book it even vaguely reminds me of – unless, of course, it’s the other two in the series.

CARNABY by Cate Sampson. This is the story of Sarah, who is not your typical YA heroine. Sarah lives in a falling-down council tower block in London with her mother, her sister and her sister’s baby. Sarah doesn’t have what you’d call a great life; and then suddenly it gets really worse. Her mother is murdered, and it falls to Sarah to find out by whom and why – and to protect her sister and herself. Part mystery, part thriller, and part social commentary, CARNABY is a book that stays in your head.

BUFFALO SOLDIER by Tanya Landman

In Charley we have another untypical YA heroine. Born a slave in the American South, Charley finds herself adrift after the horrors of the Civil War and, in a desperate attempt to survive, disguises herself as a man and joins the all-black cavalry of the US Army, the Buffalo Soldiers. This is historical fiction at its best.

Favourite YA character/s

My very favourite teenager ever is Huck Finn. What’s not to love? Smart, sassy, and, above all, a boy who stands on his own, he is one of the best YA characters ever.

But right behind him comes Adrian Mole. An everyboy – or everyperson – if ever there was one.

I totally loved the two protagonists in Lisa Williams’ THE ART OF BEING NORMAL, David Piper and Leo Denton. David wants to be a girl, and Leo (who has been there, done that) just wants to be invisible. They are both such lovely people that you wish they lived next door.

Favourite adult book/s

I’m not going to give you the complete list, but it goes something like this:
CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
THE WOMAN IN WHITE by Wilkie Collins
SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
PATCHWORK PLANET by Anne Tyler
WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler
MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot
The Shardlake series by C J Samson
The Jackson Brody series by Kate Atkinson

Favourite genre of book/s

I don’t think I have one. I would say that I’m not into historical fiction, but the Shardlake books are set in Tudor England, so that can’t be true. And I would say that I don’t read mysteries, but both the Shardlake and Jackson Brody novels are crime novels, so that’s not true either.

Favourite TV show/s

I don’t watch much telly, but the TV show I can watch over and over and over again (and do) is Inspector Morse, followed closely by Lewis and Endeavour.
More recently, I’ve loved Happy Valley (absolutely fantastic with the most wonderful central character), Fargo and Broadchurch.

Favourite film/s

I am a major Wes Anderson fan. He is so unique and distinctive – so intelligent, compasisonate and so incredibly funny. His films are nothing like anyone else’s, to anything we usually expect. 

Favourite book to film adaptation/s

Apocalypse Now, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s fantastic novel HEART OF DARKNESS that moved the story from the Congo in the late 1800s to the Vietnam War, is one of the greatest films ever. Even though the production was beset by a troop of problems from the weather to its lead actor suffering a near-fatal heart attack.

Thanks so much Dyan for your recommendations and thanks everyone for reading. You can find out more about Dyan's books here or buy More Than One Way To Be a Girl here.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Release by Patrick Ness - review

Publisher: Walker Books

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

The most personal and tender novel yet from Patrick Ness, the twice Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. It's Saturday, it's summer and, although he doesn't know it yet, everything in Adam Thorn's life is going to fall apart. But maybe, just maybe, he'll find freedom from the release. Time is running out though, because way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake... This uplifting coming-of-age novel will remind you what it's like to fall in love. (Publishers' blurb)


It's taken me a while to put this review into words, because I feel so strongly about Release. This book wasn't always easy to read, as it deals with difficult subjects and powerful emotions. It is thought-provoking, compelling and so full of feelings that it's impossible not to be drawn in.

This was my favourite thing about Release. Patrick Ness has made it clear that the book isn't autobiographical, but it is very personal. What really struck me was how raw and honest it felt, that Adam's emotions were so convincing and accessible to the reader. Although the story takes place over a short time frame, my connection with Adam was immediate and his character developed over the course of the book. 

Patrick Ness has this amazing authenticity about his writing, which makes his characters feel real and relatable. He captures the intensity I remember about being a teenager, and the sense that your decisions and actions can change everything.

The structure of the book was excellent, which I can't go into too much because of spoilers. I loved how it took me time to work out what w
as happening with the dual narrative.

The literary references also added another level. I now have a desperate need to read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and reread Forever by Judy Blume, as these books lent inspiration to Release. I really like the fact that I can read them and then go back to Release with something fresh to look for.

This book really matters to me and I know it's one I'll reread. 








If you liked the sound of this, you have to read The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Salvation Project by Stewart Ross - blog tour interview

To kick off The Salvation Project blog tour, I've got a great interview with the author Stewart Ross. There's also a giveaway if you head to the Goodreads link at the bottom of the page.

First I'll tell you about the book, then get straight to the interview! 




Humanity’s hope of salvation lies within a single laptop…

A mutation in human DNA means no one lives beyond nineteen. Scientists working to reverse this pandemic died before their Salvation Project was complete, leaving behind the results of their research in a sealed vault – the Soterion.

122 years have passed. The civilisation of the ‘Long Dead’ is almost forgotten, the Soterion has been burned to ashes, and communities of Constants are tormented by brutal tribes of Zeds. Cyrus, Miouda and Sammy flee their burning city with a laptop rescued from the inferno. They believe it contains the key to the Salvation Project. But its batteries are dead, there is no electricity to power it, and murderous Zeds will stop at nothing to get it back…


I love the sound of this and I'm looking forward to reading my copy! Now, it's time for the interview.





What were your favourite books as a child?

Long time ago! I remember being mesmerised by the Wind in the Willows when a neighbour read it to me and her son, and the book’s been a favourite ever since. Pooh featured highly early on. I collected the Wonder Book series (The Wonder Book of Farming (?!) etc) and the I-Spy series. The first book I remember buying for myself was Treasure Island. I re-read it again recently – it has one of the best beginnings of any book I know.

What books or authors inspire you?

No. 1 by miles and miles is William Shakespeare, the greatest literary genius of all time who just happened – lucky us! – to have lived at a time when the English language was fresh and new and flexible. The terms of abuse used by Timur/Giv in The Salvation Project owe much to the Bard. My favourite novelist is Charles Dickens, whose larger than life characters influenced many of my creations – especially the Zeds – in the Soterion Mission trilogy.

My favourite living writers are the Canadian Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin) and Cormac McCarthy (The Road). Children’s authors? A. A. Milne and Roald Dahl stand out. And among those living today I’d go for Philip Pullman among the many, many writers and illustrators (Quentin Blake) of undisputed genius.

If you could meet any author, who would it be?

Shakespeare. Apparently he was good fun to be with. I’d like to hear his accent, listen to his conversation, and ask him what he’d do if I could carry him forward to our century. Would Hollywood interest him?

Then I’d bombard him with questions: Who taught you at school? Were you ever a spy? Do you love your wife? Are you a secret Roman catholic? What do you think of Queen Elizabeth? Etc etc

Do you have any writing or editing rituals?

Cup of tea, switch on computer, switch on brain with four different games of solitaire and a game of chess… and off we go.

Where do you write?

For the last 27 years I have worked in a hut in the garden:



It’s stuffed with books and known in the family as ‘Auld Reekie’, a nickname given to Edinburgh when it was a very dirty and smoky city. I have written a number of books on Scottish history, and once smoked a pipe: back then, when it was too cold to open the door or windows, the inside of my hut got very Reekie indeed.

Sadly, my Auld Reekie is getting a bit rotten around the edges nowadays and before long will need some serious surgery.

If you were stuck in a dystopia, which fictional character/s would you take with you?

I’d take three:
Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne, not Disney – for comfort, kindness and homespun common sense.
Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird), the all-time wise and liberal hero.
Roxanne from my Soterion Mission, the bravest, most attractive woman I know. I was in love with her from the moment she appeared on the page.

Thanks so much for the interview Stewart.

The giveaway link is below - good luck everyone!


Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Salvation Project by Stewart Ross

The Salvation Project

by Stewart Ross


Giveaway ends June 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter Giveaway


If you want to follow the rest of the tour, you can check out these links:


Monday, 19 June 2017

Perfect Score by Susan Roebuck - blog tour review


PublisherMundania Press LLC

Feckless, exasperating Alex Finch is a rich, handsome and talented singer/songwriter who longs for two things: a career as a professional rock singer, and to have his love for Sam Barrowdale reciprocated. But drifter Sam's two aims are simply to earn enough money to pay his sister's medical bills and to hide from the world his reading/writing and speech disability. At this time the word 'dyslexia' is generally unknown so to most people he's just a 'retard'. From the severe knocks life's dealt him, Sam's developed a tough outer coating and he has no time for a spoilt, selfish guitar player.

Despite his defects, Alex's love for Sam never wavers and when Sam unexpectedly disappears, Alex begins a somewhat bungling quest to find him, only to discover that Sam has a fearful enemy: Alex's powerful and influential yet sociopathic uncle.

As Alex spirals downwards towards alcoholism, many questions need answering. Just why did Alex's evil uncle adopt him at age eleven yet deny him any affection? And what's the mystery behind Alex's father's death?


Both seem to face unbeatable odds. Are they doomed to follow separate paths forever? (Publishers' blurb)

I'm so pleased to start this blog tour, as I love a good romance that I can root for.

Alex and Sam's relationship was my favourite part of the book. I really liked both of them, particularly how they grew as characters. Their relationship was touching, heartfelt and at times heartbreaking. I loved this aspect of the plot, but sometimes I felt like the book went in a lot of different directions when I wanted more Alex and Sam time!

Another interesting aspect of this was the viewpoint. It was an unusual choice to have Sam's parts of the book in the third person and Alex's in the first person, but this worked for their characters and the development of the plot. Both characters' stories were told honestly and went to some dark places, more so than I expected. 

This book also had a strong sense of time and place, sometimes to disturbing effect when it came to how Alex and Sams' relationship was perceived. It captured the 1960s period well and created vivid images of the different settings.

I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and appreciated the honest (and sometimes dark) feel of this book. Thank you for having me on the blog tour!






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Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Devil's Poetry by Louise Cole - blog tour

 
Publisher: Kindle Press

Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution - too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.

Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war? Dare she read this book? What’s the price - and who pays it? (Publishers' blurb)



The premise of this immediately intrigued me and I really liked the idea of there being a manuscript in this world that was shaping history without most people knowing about it. 

My favourite part of this book was the way the perspective shifted between Callie's first person viewpoint and other third person viewpoints, including the Cadaveri and political leaders. Due to the high stakes of stopping a world war, it was really interesting to get the views of the different people involved. I didn't a hundred percent get invested in Callie's overarching plot line for some reason, but overall I enjoyed seeing the events from different sides. 

Another fun aspect was watching out for pop culture references. Any book that references Buffy has definitely won me over, and that wasn't the only reference that gave me a smile. 

This is an action-packed book with an original premise and I'm really happy to have been involved in the blog tour!



If you want to follow the rest of the blog tour, check out the next stops on the banner below: