Thursday, 29 September 2016

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore - Review

 Publisher: Thomas Dunne (4th October 2016)

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel's wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they're willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. (Publishers' blurb)

I don't know how anyone could read that description and not buy this book immediately! My favourite book of last year was 'The Weight of Feathers' by Anna-Marie McLemore (which I reviewed
here) so I was really excited to get an advance copy of 'When the Moon Was Ours'. I'm so happy that I enjoyed this one just as much and can now safely say that Anna-Marie McLemore is one of my favourite YA authors.

I love Anna-Marie's writing more than any other author. Her lyrical style perfectly suits the gorgeous, magical things that she writes about. You could open any page and find a beautiful description that gives you goosebumps!

Like 'The Weight of Feathers', this book overlaps fantasy, myth and contemporary themes in a totally unique way. Both books feel timeless because of the strange, beautiful world that they are set in. I've never read anything else like them.

A great part of the book came after the narrative, where Anna-Marie explained the basis in her own experience. There was a strong sense of honesty and realism throughout this that I really appreciated.

Another strength was the characterisation. I adored Sam and Miel and I wasn't ready to let go of them at the end of the book. I also thought that the minor characters were really well developed and I understood their motivations.

This is a fantastic book and I can't stress enough how much I love it! It's out in less than a week and I hope everyone goes out and buys it.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley Beaulieu - Review

Publisher: Gollancz

Çeda is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this brilliant new story, a prequel to Twelve Kings, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf. None but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.

But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, one of the sadistic creatures known asehrekh which were forged long ago by the god of chaos. They are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda's struggle becomes a battle for her friends, her life, and her very soul. (Publishers' Blurb)

I thought this might be hard to follow because I haven't read 'Twelve Kings'. This wasn't an issue at all, as the book was accessible and made me want to know much more about this world.

My favourite part was Çeda's character and voice. She's quickly seemed real to me because her back story and motivations were fleshed out well. I loved that she was a pit fighter and I think my favourite scene was when we got to see her in action!

The world building was also incredibly strong
. Even though it was comparatively short, the book captured a complex and fascinating world underpinned by mythology.

Another strength was the plotting. There weren't any points where it lost momentum (or my attention with it). I loved the little mysteries that were thrown in and then uncovered later, such as Çeda's use of petals.

This was a great introduction to a new fantasy world and I'm looking forward to reading 'Twelve Kings'.

Image result for 4 stars

If you liked the sound of this, now try Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Shadow Reaper Release Day

This book sounds amazing and I have an extract to celebrate the release day!  There's also a read-a-long happening from 3rd October (see above). 

First I'll give a little bit of info.


Only the bravest go over the Horizon...

Twenty years ago the barriers between worlds came down and our reality was swallowed up by the Shadowlands. Now we scavenge to survive, until one day there’s nothing left to reap. Starvation is around the corner, but I’m not the roll over and wait-to-die kinda girl. Nope, I’m going further than anyone has ever been and returned to tell the tale. I’m going into the Beyond, and I’m not coming back without a solution.

Information about the Book:

Title: Shadow Reaper
Author: Amos Cassidy
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Kindle Press
Format: Ebook
Goodreads Link:
Amazon Link: 

Author Information

Amos Cassidy is the pen name for Richard Amos and Debbie Cassidy. Amos is a 31 year old Diva and Cassidy a 39 year old mother of three; well, four if you include the husband. A common love of all things Joss Whedon, Urban Fantasy, and a tug of war over Jensen Ackles, brought them together, and one cold February afternoon, over nibbles and coffee, their partnership was born.

You can find Cassidy hard at work in her fortress of solitude which has eaten up the majority of her garden, and Amos...well he's still trying to get the invisibility gizmo he got off a friendly alien in exchange for a pair of earphones to work. Funnily enough he hasn't been seen around much lately...

Frequent doses of Sugary snacks, coupled with regular injections of caffeine aid in their production of a unique brand of cross genre tales. They are always writing, but are happy to take a break to chat to their wonderful readers, so drop them a line at, or just pop over to see what they're working on at and they'll bust out the biscuit tin.


Now to the extract! If you're anything like me, this will make you order your very own copy!
It was a day like all the others, dark as pitch and cold as ice, most definitely not a day to die. So when I came face to face with the Knightmare, I froze, all my training taking a flying leap out the proverbial window. You didn’t get Knightmares on this side of the Horizon. In fact, it’d been over a year since anyone had seen one at all.

The Knightmare stared at me with its slanted, glowing eyes, steam pluming from its perpetually flared nostrils, its equine body poised to attack and then it opened its mouth and screamed.

I remembered how to run.

I ran on instinct, moving through the underground tunnels from memory alone. I could hear it behind me, its hooves thundering against the cracked concrete, its rumbling breath pressing against my ears.

It shouldn’t be here, couldn’t be here, and yet it was.

I realised that if I ran back to Shelter, then I’d be leading it straight home, so I took a left instead of a right at the next intersection. I ran, losing myself in the burning of my lungs and the screaming of my muscles. It was only a matter of time before it got me, only a matter of minutes, because I was losing momentum. I couldn’t keep up this pace much longer.

My eyes stung, my throat grew tight. Man, I was pissed! Nineteen years I’d survived this hellhole, nineteen, and I was going to get taken out by a Knightmare? No way was I going out like that! Besides, if I croaked, then that thing would be left roaming the tunnels. My people would be in danger. I had no idea how it’d managed to get across the Horizon without being spotted by the Eye. I’d have to report this to Blake, get him to look into the security. The small bitey critters that scuttled across were one thing, those were inevitable. Those we could handle, but this was bad, real bad.

Up ahead, the fallen and rusted body of a huge contraption from the time before came into view. I gave a final burst of speed and leapt up onto its metallic body. The Knightmare reared back. One thing about Knightmares, they’re not big on climbing. I blew tendrils of hair out of my eyes, yanked out my scrunchie and then scraped my hair back up into a tight ponytail.

It paced, back and forth, its eyes glistening in the dark. I crouched, tips of my fingers grazing cool metal, and watched it—waiting.

That’s it, just get bored and piss off, you ugly—

“Mansfield?” A shrill whistle. “Where are you, boy?”

What the hell? There was someone down here.

The sound of slow, leisurely footsteps echoed through the darkness.

The Knightmare turned his head to look back up the tunnel.

Who could be so stupid as to be out here alone?

You are, you twat!


“Oi! Don’t come any closer,” I yelled. “There’s a Knightmare here. Run!”

The footsteps faltered.

He was probably from the slums, maybe using the tunnels to scavenge like I was. Fuck, I remembered those days, but it was dangerous, too dangerous for someone untrained. I waited, straining to hear the sounds of retreat, yet there was nothing but silence.

Had I imagined the voice?

The Knightmare turned away from me.

No, definitely not my imagination. Those things could smell a human a mile off. Stupid bloody man, boy, whoever it was.

“Bloody run, you idiot! There’s no point hiding! It can bleedin’ smell ya!”

A low chuckle filtered through the air, accompanied by the sound of footsteps.

They were growing closer.

Well, there was no helping some people.

A shape became visible. A man, tall, broad, and slim, wreathed in darkness. My eyes, accustomed to the gloom of the tunnels, could make out only the whites of his eyes surrounding cerulean blue.

“Well, there you are, Mansfield.” The Knightmare whinnied and trotted over to the man, offering his huge head to be petted.

What the crap?

The man tilted his head to look up at me. “Dangerous being out here all alone, little human.” He said the last word as if it were a dirty one.

Mansfield emitted a pleading rumble.

“Mansfield’s hungry.” The man cocked his head and stared at me for a very long time, so long, in fact, that I began to wonder if he’d turned to stone or fallen asleep on his feet with his eyes open. “I don’t think she’ll make a very palatable meal, boy. All skin and bones, that one. Come, we’ll find you something more . . . substantial.”

A chill crawled up my spine. Only one of them could control a Knightmare. A Shadowlander.

He flashed me his even white teeth. “You’re safe for now, human. Crawl off to your hideout and forget this ever happened.”

And just like that, they were gone.

I exhaled sharply and stared at the spot where they had just stood. Something had stood. Something.

What the hell was I doing on top of this rusty contraption?

Climbing down gingerly, I wiped my dirty palms on my trousers and headed home.


I crawled through the hidden passageway that led back into Shelter. I reached the grate that opened up into Corridor 4 and waited, listening. There wasn’t usually anyone about at this time, but you never knew. After long minutes of absolute silence, I knocked aside the grate and slid into the corridor, landing lightly on my feet.

I moved the grate back into place, then pushed in the rusty screws to make them look like they were snug in their holes.

Straightening my shirt and brushing off my trousers, I made my way back to my quarters.

If I thought I’d gotten off scot-free for my little escapade, then I was sadly mistaken.

Clay sat on my bed, his face dark with anger.


“What the hell, Ash? What. The. Hell?”

Crap! Time to do some damage control.

I plastered a contrite expression on my face, ready to do the pleading thing, but he held up his hand.

“Don’t even go there. You’re not sorry. I know it, you know it, and the whole fucking world knows it. What I want to know is why. You got what you wanted. You’re a Reaper, so why take these unnecessary risks?”

I felt the first spark of anger. “Why? Because someone has to! The bimonthly reaps aren’t cutting it. Everyone knows it. Someone has to take the risk. Remember the penicillin, the iodine, the—”

“Yes! I remember. You found some important stuff, but—”

“And I didn’t go over the Horizon to do it. I’m not bleedin’ suicidal. I was careful. Nothing saw me and I didn’t see any of . . . them.” Some memory skittered under the surface of my mind but was gone too quick to catch.

Clay rubbed his face with his hand, his shoulders rising and falling in a heartfelt sigh, and I felt the guilt heavy on my chest. I was his burden. His little sister, the one he’d sworn to protect. I didn’t make it easy.

Older than me by five minutes, Clay had seamlessly stepped into our parents’ shoes after they died five years ago. We’d been barely fourteen at the time. Clay had taken their deaths as an inevitability. He’d said good-bye, buried them, and then turned his attention to taking care of me. Sod that! I’d been pissed off and incensed by the unfairness of it because, as far as I was concerned, they’d chosen to die. Food and shelter had been less than a mile away; all they’d had to do was claim it. All they’d had to do was volunteer for the academy, become Reapers, and we would have been clothed and fed and sheltered. But they’d been afraid, weak, and they’d died. Yes, I’d been angry. So angry that I’d done the one thing that they’d never wanted either Clay or me to do. I’d signed up to be a Reaper.

Reaper status meant food. It meant lodging. It meant safety. It had come too late for my parents, but I was determined not to lose Clay to their skewed convictions. Clay couldn’t bring himself to break the vow we’d made to them, though; thank goodness Shelter needed able-bodied men to train in the tech side of things. Clay always had an affinity for building shit, so here we were five years later—Clay a head Technician and me a seasoned Reaper. The tech we had here was primitive, but he managed to keep the lights on and the heat running, and that’s all we could ask for.



“Go to bed.” He stood and moved toward the door.

He was disappointed in me. I hated it. I couldn’t leave things like this between us. As he brushed past, I turned into him, wrapping my arms around his waist. He tensed and then relaxed. His arms wrapped around me and he squeezed me tight.

“Please, Ash, just follow protocol, ’kay?”

I nodded against his chest, and yes, I really meant to keep my promise. I always do . . . until next time.

He released me and ruffled my hair.

“Say ’night to Blake.” I smiled up at him coquettishly.

He blushed. “Will do.”

It was sweet the way those two were still so gaga over each other. They’d been dating for just over a year now, and they acted like a married couple. Clay had even moved into Blake’s quarters, and yet he still blushed when I mentioned Blake’s name.


He pecked me on the forehead and then left me to it.

A yawn ripped through me, and I stretched and threw myself onto my rumpled bed. My quarters were small and boxy, but they were mine. Pictures from old magazines I’d found on my scavenging trips decorated the walls: cars and paradise settings, gardens and sunsets, and lovers holding hands. These were memories that I’d never have. They lulled me to sleep, and sometimes I’d find myself on a beach somewhere, waves lapping at my toes, or maybe in a beautiful garden, the scent of roses sweet and strong in my nose. I didn’t know if what I dreamt held any similarity to how it used to be. How could I? I’ve never smelled a rose or walked on the beach, but the dreams kept my spirits alive, and sometimes he joined me—the man who didn’t speak.

The first time it happened, I was frightened. I mean, some strange bloke walks into my dream and just hangs out? It was creepy, but I soon started to feel okay with it. In fact, he’d become a kind of friend now . . . I think.

My eyelids were starting to get heavy, so I closed them, exhaling long and deep, and let sleep take me.



Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Lost and Found Blog Tour - Lying About Last Summer Review

The 'Lost and Found Tour' is a fantastic opportunity to see 5 YA debut authors talking about their books! All of these are on my TBR pile and I have the pleasure of reviewing 'Lying About Last Summer'. Please head to the bottom of my blog for more information about the 'Lost and Found Tour' or follow this link to buy tickets:

Title: Lying about Last Summer
Author: Sue Wallman
Release Date: 5th May 2016
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Paperback
Amazon Link:

The story centres around a girl called Skye, who is sent to a camp for troubled teenagers after her sister dies in an accident. However, once she is at the camp she starts receiving text messages from someone pretending to be her dead sister. (Publishers' blurb)

Now to the review! I saw a lot of buzz about this book on Twitter so it was brilliant to be invited to join the blog tour.

The subject of grief can be triggering but in this book it was handled really well. Skye's emotions were portrayed in a sensitive, convincing way and the book overall felt uplifting despite aspects of the subject matter.

Another thing I loved was that the book was really tightly plotted. The tension built as Skye tried to work out what was going on and the beginning linked back with the end in a really satisfying way! Flashbacks were used effectively to reveal what happened the previous summer in small pieces.

'Lying About Last Summer' also had a really compelling voice. I loved Skye and I really rooted for her. There was a strong cast of supporting characters too and a really interesting (and irritating) antagonist.

The final thing I want to discuss was the use of technology. It was a great idea to have someone contacting Skye via social media and it made the book feel really current.

I loved this book and I strongly recommend it if you want a compelling mystery with friendship and romance.

Image result for 4 stars

Author Bio

Sue Wallman is a former magazine journalist who lives near Kingston-upon-Thames. Her debut book, Lying About Last Summer, was published in May, and her second book will be published in May 2017. She likes swimming, eavesdropping and watching First Dates with her three teenage daughters.

The Lost and Found Tour

Now a little more about the amazing
Lost and Found Tour! The authors involved at Olivia Levez (The Island), Patrice Lawrence (Orangeboy), Kathryn Evans (More of Me), Sue Wallman (Lying About Last Summer). Eugene Lambert (The Sign of One)

It launches on 1st October 2-4pm at Birmingham Waterstones and is chaired by Chelley Toy.

Join us for a discussion of identity, loss, and the darkness inside; of self-discovery, friendship, and hope for a better tomorrow as part of the #LostandFound Book Tour.

Unflinching, clever and honest, our five authors explore what it means to grow up when the cards seem to be constantly stacked against you.

Don't miss your chance to meet these amazing authors, ask questions, and get your books signed.

This is the full list of tour dates and locations:

-Sat 1st Oct, 2pm Birmingham Waterstones
-Thurs 6th Oct, 6pm London Islington Waterstones
-Sat 26th Nov Guildford Waterstones
-Thurs 1st Dec Liverpool Writeblend
-Sunday 22nd January Hampshire Libraries, Petersfield
-Sat 4th March Glasgow Waterstones

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Alwyn Hamilton's favourite things & signed Rebel of the Sands giveaway

It's brilliant to be part of the YA Shot blog tour and to host one of my favourite authors!

YA Shot is a YA and MG festival that raises money to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events, with an emphasis on books and opportunities for all. YA Shot is a one day annual festival running on Saturday 22nd October 2016 in London. Around 70 authors sign their books and run panels, workshops and in conversation events. You can follow
this link to buy tickets and find out more or follow @AlexiaCasale on Twitter.

You've probably already read the fantastic 'Rebel of the Sands' by Alwyn Hamilton (and if you haven't you really should!) What you might not know is that Alwyn is a pop culture master. She's kindly agreed to share her favourite YA characters and other recommendations through the medium of Gifs. Details about the giveaway follow. Enjoy!

Favourite YA Characters on Screen

Mulan from Mulan
Umm…best Disney character ever obviously.

Nancy from Stranger Things

I just finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix and fell head over heels for Nancy, the older sister who gets embroiled in the mystery when her best friend goes missing. She goes from a naïve nerdy girl just beginning to become popular to a stone cold badass who will point a loaded pistol at you if you get in her way.

Olive from Easy A 

So let’s be real, the true heroes of that movie are Olive’s parents. But from her quick snappy way of talking to the guts to own her reputation once she had acquired it rather than curl up and cry, Olive has my respect in this movie. And I would happily be her BFF when hers dumps her to get churchy on her.

Caroline Forbes from The Vampire Diairies 

I started off, like everyone else, thinking Caroline Forbes was around to fill the role of the bitchy blonde bimbo to Elena’s relatable Brunette. But then came the moment where a sobering up Caroline, head down on a restaurant table, asks, “Do you ever feel like there’s not a person in the world who loves you?” Which was the beginning to all of Caroline’s Hidden Depth on the road to her becoming a badass who pushes men twice her size into trees when rescuing her friends.

Bellamy Blake from The 100 

I mean…the Abs, the face…need I say more? Ok there’s also the fact that he is ultra protective of the people he cares about and develops from narcissistic coward to fearless leader.

Buffy Summers from Buffy The Vampire Slayer 

She’s the Slayer with the Sass. Enough said.

 Veronica Mars from Veronica Mars

She’s the PI with the Sass…Enough Said.

Favourite Adult Character in TV or Film

Lesley Knope from Parks and Recreation 

Relentlessly optimistic feminist icon. Need I say more?

Dr. Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project 

Mindy Lahiri might seem, to the uniniated, like some cliché ditzy gilr chasing love from a rom com. But she’s actually a badass doctor who is exceptional at her job and is willing to make a fool of herself for love and doesn’t feel the need to apologize for the girlier parts of herself.

Detective Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn 99 

I’m scared to talk about Rosa she might punch me in the face.

Robin Scherbotsky from How I met your Mother 

She’s a fellow Canuck who never feels the need to put her life on hold for a man even though that is basically the whole concept of the show she’s on. There is so much greatness to get into with Robin I don’t know where to start…she sparkles basically.

Poe Dameron from Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

Someone wrote a whole article somewhere on the perfection that is Poe Dameron. Find it and report back please.

Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean

It’s Captain, Captain Jack Sparrow.

Favourite YA characters in Books – Current
(And we descend into less easily gifable, and yet I soldier on!)

Kestrel Trajan from The Winner’s Curse 

She’s a warrior girl who fights with her brains instead of with brawn.

Nina Zenik from Six of Crows 

I’m not sure if I want to go out and eat cake and try on dresses with Nina or flatten armies with her. Both maybe?

Marigold from It’s a Yuletide Miracle Charlie Brown short story
in My True Love Gave to me Anthology 

I read this story over and over each Christmas and I love it as much every time. Marigold is the perfect mix of vulnerable and strong and hopeful but realistic that I want in my YA contemporaries.

Kat Bishop from Heist Society 

Any girl who can form a crew of teenager Ocean’s 11 style thieves after conning her way into a boarding school is my kinda gal.

Day from Legend 

Another criminal on this list, doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons and overturning corrupt governments in his path.

Cress from The Lunar Chronicles 

She’s so sweet and so innocent and so naïve that you can’t help but love her!

Eleanor Fitt from Something Strange and Deadly 

Eleanor is a girl who has to step up in a judgey society that is not used to girls stepping up.

Vivian Apple from Vivian Vs. The Apocalypse 

I feel like if there was an apocalypse I would basically be Vivian Apple in this situation. Or maybe I just HOPE I would be as awesome as Vivian. Also she has a baseball Bat.

Favourite YA characters in Books – That I read as a YA

Harry Crewe/Harimad Sol from The Blue Sword 

Oh Harry Crewe, how I love you, let me count the ways. Ok, there’s no time to count all of them.

Apart from her desert setting that she and Amani both belong to, there is a line that always sticks with me from The Blue Sword. Where it’s mused upon by another character how proud and unwilling Harry is to show weakness. I remember reading that line and being determined to become more like her. And I think a piece of that is in every female character I have ever created, including Amani.

Alanna of Trebond from The Song of the Lionness 

I think I talk about Alanna more than I talk about Amani most days. Alanna was the first heroine I ever encountered who looked at the sexist society around her and decided to subvert it by disguising herself as a man to prove her worth. Every cross dressing heroine since, including mine, is compared to her in my mind.

Ella from Ella Enchanted

You’d think a girl who has to do what she is told would be a shrinking violet…instead she’s Ella!

Countess Meliara (a.k.a Mel) from Crown Duel

Another Fiery Red Head on the list. Is it any wonder I desperately wanted to be a red head as a kid?

Cimorene from The Enchanted Forrest Chronicles

I couldn’t not give a shout out to this princess who refuses the fate of being married to someone she can’t stand, and goes off to live with dragons instead. As you do.

Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire

Stick them with the pointy end Arya!

Favourite YA book to film adaptation/s

Catching Fire

Hunger Games book was better than the first movie, but with a bigger budget and added stakes…we get this beauty!

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

I cried every tear in my body watching this movie. I loved it.

The Princess Diaries

Mia Thermopolis. Iconic.


One of very few movies I think might be better than the book…I mean, it has Sigourney Weaver!

Favourite Webseries

I mean everyone has seen this one right? It’s a pitch perfect retelling of Pride and Prejudice via Web Videos. Watching this as it aired was pure torture waiting for Darcy!

This is the only show that deconstructs pop culture to the same extent I do. Best episodes for me are the Disney ones.

I’m not even into Video Games and I loved this one!

It’s the story of 2 actors who keep being cast along side each other in roles that require them to kiss in the rain and the gradual development of their off screen relationship.


Thanks so much to Alwyn for that fantastic post! I feel the need to read and watch all of those things immediately, but first onto the giveaway!

Alwyn has kindly offered a signed copy of Rebel of the Sands to celebrate YA Shot! To enter, all you have to do is leave your name and Twitter handle in the comments.

Important update - this giveaway has now ended and the winner has been announced on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who took part!