Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Image courtsey of vintageholidaycrafts.com

Merry Christmas to all my readers. I'll be back after Christmas with a blogoversary giveaway and some more fun stuff. See you soon x

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Driftwood by Cathy Cassidy

Driftwood Hannah and Joey have been best friends forever - just the two of them. But when Joey's new foster brother, Paul, turns up, everything changes. First Joey falls for Hannah's brother, Kit. Then Paul complicates things - with some kittens, a chocolate bar and a stripy pink bicycle.
Hannah's world is turning upside down. Can you rescue a friendship when it's drowning? Can you save a friend in trouble - if they don't want to be saved?
My thoughts: Joey and Hannah are best friends at the start of the book, but when Joey starts going out with Hannah's brother, the two girls start to drift apart. In the meantime, Joey's foster brother Paul is struggling to fit in at school. He gets bullied because he's different and because he won't join in with football or swimming or anything like that.
The bullying part of this book really broke my heart. It was horrible reading about how Paul was treated when all he'd done was be himself. I'm glad that there was a friendship between him and Hannah.

This book tackles the difficult subject of bullying, and although it is quite light-hearted in places it was very sad in others, I was almost in tears at one stage.
I also think it was interesting that it was a boy who was being bullied because you sometimes forget that boys get bullied too.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

In My Mailbox 26

I've been a bit absent this week, it's been my last full week at work and there's been all sorts of Christmas events and stuff to organise. But I'm back now, and as of December 16th I'll be blogging full time again.

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) My mailbox post looks a little sad this week, just one book arrived, and because I'm feeling lazy I've just used a cover pic rather than taken a photo of just one book lol.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. After reading and loving The Hobbit I decided to give the Lord of the Rings trilogy a try, so I got this book off bookmooch. I hope I can get into it, the movie of it sent me to sleep!

Well, that's all I got, what did you get?

In My Mailbox is hosted by thestorysiren.com

Sunday, 5 December 2010

In My Mailbox 25

Hello everyone, hope you're all well :) What a week it's been here in England, we've had snow all week, which is nice to look at, but really cold and wet when you have to go to work in it. It's just about all gone now though.
I went to a Victorian Christmas Fayre on Friday, it was really lovely and there were some great looking stalls there, and the food smelled delicious. I would have taken some photos, but it was so cold that my camera didn't want to work properly!

Anyway, on to books... I received one book for review this week. 85A by Kyle Thomas Smith, I'm really looking forward to reading this.


The folder next to it is the press kit that came with the book.

It's a subzero Chicago morning on January 23, 1989, and Seamus is at his fighting best. Braving the bitter cold at the 85A bus stop, Seamus rails against his repressive environment in anticipation of his ''the-minute-I-turn-18'' move to London. Liberated by failure when kicked out of school for yet another late appearance, Seamus makes a break for London via an Amtrak to the mean streets of Late Eighties Manhattan. 85A tracks a watershed day in the life of an adolescent antihero. Foulmouthed with a capital F-word, Seamus embodies Johnny Rotten as a way of fending off the bullies at home, at school and in his whites-only neighborhood. Luckily, his mixed-raced friend Tressa opens him up to experiences that turn his worldview on its head. Through it all, Seamus basks in BBC dramas, dreaming of what life would be if only he could stow away to London. By the time Seamus reaches his last L stop, he will come to see that his 85A ride that morning was just the kickoff to an intrepid urban odyssey.
Goodreads
Author's Website

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Monthly Round-up November 2010

Another month is over, and winter is officially here. We've even had snow this month, not enough to cause any major disruption, but enough to make you feel like emigrating to Australia! lol

November News
The Greetings Card Exchange was open for sign ups all month, and not many people signed up, so I've decided it's best to just cancel it. Only three people signed up, and two of them wouldn't send cards out of their own country, so basically there was no-one to exchange with :(
I did an interview with Rachel Vincent, author of the Shifters and Soul Screamers series.

Books finished in November
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton
My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
Beaver Towers by Nigel Hinton
Alpha by Rachel Vincent

My favourite book this month was My Soul To Take.

Books reviewed in November
A Catch of Consequence by Diana Norman
Whisper of a Witch by Suza Kates
Alpha by Rachel Vincent
Beaver Towers by Nigel Hinton
My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon

Books received in November: 9
Added to wishlist: 12

What's coming in December?
At the moment it looks like after Christmas I'll be out of a job again, which sucks, but does mean I'll have more time to spend on my blog. And with both Christmas and my blogoversary in December there's plenty to celebrate so I'll be having a couple of giveaways. Also I might share some christmassy photos with you as there's some exciting christmas events going on locally.
I might also have a couple of author interviews to share. And as always there'll be book reviews :)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon

Johnny Be GoodIf your boss was the hottest rock star on the planet, would you mix business with pleasure?

I'm Meg Stiles. This is my leaving party. And that song we're making a mockery of? That'swritten by one of the biggest rock stars in the world. And I'm moving in with him tomorrow.
Seriously! I am not even joking. Well, maybe I'm misleading you a little bit. You see, I haven't actually met him yet...

No, I'm not a stalker. I'm his new PA. His Personal Assistant. And I am off to La-La Land. Los Angeles. The City of Angels - whatever you want to call it - and I can't bloody believe it!

Celebrity PA to wild boy of rock Johnny Jefferson, Meg's glam new life in sun-drenched LA is a whirlwind of showbiz parties and backstage passes. Cool, calm Christian, in town to write his famous friend's biography, helps keep Meg's feet firmly on the ground. But with Johnny's piercing green eyes and a body Brad Pitt would kill for, how long will it be before she's swept right off them again?
My thoughts: This started off as a really fun read. It reminds of band fanfics that I used to read, because it's got a wish-fulfillment "Oh my god this is awesome and would never happen in real life" thing going on. I was really enjoying it and I loved the characters who were all fun and interesting. There were some nice friendships and relationships happening throughout the story which I really loved.

The book did get a bit repetitive and boring in the middle, a lot of it seemed like unecessary filler.

The ending was quite ambiguous and I'm not sure I liked it. The book was quite long and I felt really involved in the story so for the ending to happen the way it did was so frustrating. It was the sort of cliffhanger that you'd expect at the end of a book in a series, but I have no idea if there's another book after this one.

So yeah, basically I adored this book except for the ending which was a real let down.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

In My Mailbox 24

I hope all my American readers had a lovely Thanksgiving. No such fun for me I'm afraid, here in the UK it was just another day at the office. Not long until Christmas now though.
Anyway, to cheer myself up after hearing about everyone's Thanksgiving dinners, etc. I bought myself some new books.

Bought
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn
The Counterfeit Guest by Rose Melikan

Mooched
Regeneration by Pat Barker

For Review
Inside Out by Maria V Snyder

That's probably the last bunch of books I'm going to buy myself now until after Christmas. I need to start buying presents for people soon!

Talking of Christmas, there's only a few more days to sign up to my Greetings Card Exchange, please join in, it's going to be fun.

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

Saturday, 27 November 2010

My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Lose (Soul Screamers, #0.5)It was supposed to be a fun day, shopping at the mall with her best friend. Then the panic attack started and Kaylee Cavanaugh finds herself screaming, unable to stop. Her secret fears are exposed and it's the worst day of her life.


Until she wakes up in the psychiatric unit.

She tries to convince everyone she's fine--despite the shadows she sees forming around another patient and the urge to scream which comes burbling up again and again. Everyone thinks she's crazy. Everyone except Lydia, that is. Another patient with some special abilities....
My thoughts: This is the prequel to the Soul Screamers series and is available for free at Rachel Vincent's website.
The story begins with Kaylee and her friend shopping at the mall. Kaylee soon begins to have what appears to be some kind of panic attack in the middle of a shop. The next thing she knows, she's waking up in a psychiatric unit where the rest of the story takes place.

To be honest not much really happens in this story, and anything important will be covered in the main books of the series anyway. But this was a good introduction to the series and has made me more excited about reading My Soul to Take, the first full book in the series.

Kaylee seems like an interesting character and I'm looking forward to reading about how she copes with her affliction.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Beaver Towers by Nigel Hinton

Beaver Towers"Curse you. Curse you!" screamed the witch.
Only Philip can rescue the animals of Beaver Towers, but the forces of evil are strong. He must break into the castle and face terrible danger. Can an ordinary boy fight magic powers?

My thoughts: At around 100 pages this is only a short story. It is aimed at ages 7 and up.
It's the story of a boy, Philip, who gets carried off by his kite and ends up on a magical island inhabited by woodland animals.
The island has been taken over by an evil witch and her magical army of Growlers. In order to banish the witch and save the island Philip must sneak into the castle and find the magic spell book.

Because it's aimed at younger readers the story moved very fast and it seemed like everything was over before it had even began!

It was a cute little story that I'm sure young kids would enjoy, but I think older children might find the story too childish for their liking.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Alpha by Rachel Vincent

Alpha  (Shifters, #6)Everything is about to change for werecat Faythe when her father is ousted from the council that controls their secret world. And a shocking tragedy jeopardises her future as Alpha of the pride.
Now a rebel on the run, Faythe's biggest fight lies ahead. Old allies from the supernatural world are ready to stand by her side. And weretoms Marc and Jace would give their very souls in the duel for Faythe's heart...
Yet as their enemies draw near Faythe knows that she - and she alone - can lead the pride into what may be their final battle.

My thoughts: This is the final book in the Shifters series and, having not read the previous books, I was a bit worried that I'd be missing information that was important for this book, but it didn't feel like that at all.

Obviously I might have enjoyed the book more if I had followed the series, but it seemed to work just as well on its own as there were enough explanations given for me to get the general gist of what had happened before.

The book did seem to start quite slowly for me as most of the time the characters were planning and thinking about what they should be doing rather than actually doing anything. However, as the book goes on there is a lot more action and it gets quite exciting.

A big part of the story is the love triangle between Faythe and the two toms, Marc and Jace. Having not followed the series I was a bit confused about why and how she could treat them the way she did.

Overall it was an exciting book that was full of action. For someone who usually steers clear of 'urban fantasy' I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

If, like me, you haven't read the series I'd suggest starting with book one, Stray. The good thing with Alpha being the last book in the series is that you won't have to wait impatiently for the next book!

Check out my Q&A with Rachel Vincent.

I received this book from MIRA in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In My Mailbox 23

It's Sunday, and you know what that means? Yep, it's time for another In My Mailbox post (In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren). I got two books this week that I'm really excited about.


The first is Johnny Swanson by Eleanor Updale. I read Montmorency by the same author, and I absolutely loved it and have since been trying to get my hands on her other books. This ARC edition popped up on bookmooch so I mooched it, and when it arrived I did a little happy dance when I saw that it's actually signed by the author! 

The second book I got was My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent which came from the publisher for review. I wasn't expecting this one so was pleasantly surprised when it turned up on my doorstep. I've just read the prequel to this book, which you can read for free at http://rachelvincent.com/mysoultolose.pdf, so now I'm really excited to start this book.

Well, that's it from me, what did you get this week?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Whisper of a Witch by Suza Kates

A Choice
Whisper of a WitchBiologist Shauni Miller, as beautiful as she is compassionate, harbours a secret that could alter her life forever. If she chooses to share it.
A Deception
Dr. Michael Black helps Shauni in her time of need but sees more in the raven-haired temptress than she ever meant to reveal. He knows she's hiding something, but then, so is he.
A Prediction
Both Shauni and Michael have a role to play, and decisions to make as a centuries-old prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. Only the fates know if they are meant to be together. Or if one of them has to die.
My thoughts: I won this book in a goodreads giveaway, and I'm really glad that I did otherwise I wouldn't have known about how fantastic it was!
The book begins with a prologue that introduces a whole bunch of women all seemingly heading to the same place. It was a bit confusing to be bombarded with all this information first thing, but it's only a quick introduction, so it's not that bad really. Anyway, after that the story begins properly. We meet Shauni, who has the ability of communicating with animals. This made for some great scenes with her pet cat, Cuileann, who I thought was great! He had such a no-nonsense attitude, just like you'd imagine a cat to be really.
Shauni's ability to communicate with animals means that she inevitably ends up meeting the town vet, Michael Black. A man who's sweet, sexy and loves animals (he might be my ideal man lol). I liked the relationship between Shauni and Michael, although it did seem to happen a bit quickly.

As for the action part of the story, well there's the coven of witches, including Shauni, who are the good guys, and they're up against some demons. There are, of course, some obligatory fight scenes, and it's all very exciting, if a little predictable. The author builds up this thing about Shauni having to face a test of her powers at the end, but when it came it was a bit of an anti-climax.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and I loved the characters. I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series. My only real complaint is that the author seems to have a habit of describing everyone's hair, which got on my nerves after a while.

Check out the author's website at: http://www.suzakates.com/

Sunday, 14 November 2010

In My Mailbox 22

Just one book again this week. This one is recommended reading for the course that I'm doing and I must admit it does sound quite interesting.
I received this from bookmooch.com, it came from Germany which is a change because most of my books just come from elsewhere in the UK.


The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (I think it's funny that the author's first name is the name of the town where I live)
In this powerful book we enter the world of Jurgis Rudkus, a young Lithuanian immigrant who arrives in America filled with dreams of wealth, freedom, and opportunity. And we discover, with him, the astonishing truth about "Packingtown," the busy, flourishing, filthy Chicago stockyards, where new world visions perish in a jungle of human suffering. Upton Sinclair, master of the "muckraking" novel, here explores the workingman's lot at the turn of the century: the backbreaking labour, the injustices of "wage-slavery," the bewildering chaos of urban life.
In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Also, while you're here I'll just mention again my Book Lovers' Greetings Card Exchange, sign ups are still open and everyone can take part. So check out the sign up page for more details. Thanks!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Author Interview - Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent is the author of the Shifters series, about a werecat named Faythe Sanders, who is learning to define her own role in her family and fighting to claim a place in her Pride.
Rachel’s young adult urban fantasy series, Soul Screamers, is about a teenage bean sidhe (banshee) trying to balance a normal school experience with the terrifying, hidden world she’s just discovered. My Soul To Take is published in the UK January 2011.

Rachel was kind enough to answer a few questions for me...

1. Are you sad that the Shifters series is at an end?
Yes, and no. I chose to end the series because I wanted it to go out on a high note, at a natural conclusion, rather than to extend indefinitely and suffer series burnout. And I’m happy with that decision, and with how the series ended. But it is a bittersweet moment for me, because I already miss writing Faythe and her dangerous world.

2. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Arguments. Fights. Any intense emotion, like loss or fury.

3. You have pet cats, did their personalities inspire any of your book's characters?
Actually, it was kind of the opposite. My cat Kaci is named after a character from the Shifters series.

4. What would you dress up as for Halloween? A writer on deadline. PJs, slippers, no makeup, dark circles under her eyes, coffee mug in hand. ;)

5. Trick or treat?
Treat, of course!

Check out Rachel Vincent's website at http://rachelvincent.com/

Sunday, 7 November 2010

In My Mailbox 21

I only got one book this week, which I got from bookmooch.com. I haven't read any graphic novels before so I thought I'd start with one that I'm fairly sure I'll like.

Serial (CSI, Graphic Novel 1)  From the back cover: In this gripping graphic novel, Las Vegas is terrorised  by a copycat killer who believes he is the legendary Jack the Ripper. His victims are ritualistically murdered then butchered and, like the Victorian archetype, he evades the best efforts of the police to catch him. It's left to Gil Grissom and his CSI team to stop the killer and bring this savage history lesson to an end!


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Catch of Consequence by Diana Norman

A Catch of ConsequenceMakepeace Burke serves Patriots at her late father's tavern on the Boston waterfront in 1765 and hates the redcoats with a vengeance. But even she can't watch an angry mob drown an Englishman. She rescues him and nurses him back to health-and falls in love.
In Patriot Boston, hers is an unforgivable sin-made worse by the fact that her Englishman turns out be the aristocratic Sir Philip Dapifer. Philip must smuggle Makepeace aboard a ship bound for London and save her life at the expense of the world she knows.

Rich in period detail, bringing the years of colonial rebellion to vivid life, A Catch of Consequence is a stylish novel of Boston and England, and of a woman who defies convention in both worlds.
My thoughts: The story starts off in 1700's Boston, USA but soon moves to England. I thought the main character, Makepeace was excellent. She came across as a strong and independent woman. When she first arrives in England she has to try and fit into the upper class society of London and also has to deal with Sir Philip's ex-wife. But then tragedy strikes and she must move to Northumberland to start another new life. For me this was the most enjoyable part of the story, with a little bit of drama and some romance thrown in too.
This was a fantastic historical fiction that really made me feel like I was right there. I loved this book and will be looking out for more books from this author.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Monthly Round-Up - October 2010

I can't believe it's November already! It seems like only yesterday it was Christmas last year when I had a broken arm.
I didn't get a lot of reading done in October, I seem to have got sucked into a routine of getting up, going to work, coming home, eating my dinner then going to bed. I think the fact that it's always dark and gloomy outside doesn't help much.

October news
I launched the Greetings Card Exchange, other than that not much has happened around here.

Books finished in October: None! But I did start reading Alpha by Rachel Vincent.

Books reviewed in October:
Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder
Entangled by Cat Clarke

Books received in October: 10
Added to wishlist:  0

What's coming up in November?
I'll be taking part in NaNoWriMo, but hope to still be blogging throughout the month. Sign ups for the Greetings Card Exchange will continue. Hopefully I might get some reading done in between everything else!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

In My Mailbox 20

It was quite funny this week, I was feeling really proud of myself because I gave away a lot of books on bookmooch so had cleared some space on my shelves. Then what did I do to congratulate myself? Bought more books of course!


From BookMooch.com:

Bought:

Well that's what I got, what did you get this week?

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Book Lovers' Greetings Card Exchange

A while ago I mentioned that I was thinking up a secret project, well this is it! It's kind of like a secret santa thing, but instead of sending gifts you send a nice card to celebrate the holiday season. Sign ups are open to anyone who is willing to send out at least one card (you can send up to 10). The plan is that everyone who signs up will receive as many cards as they send out, so basically the more you send, the more you receive!

There are a few rules/guidelines:
  • You must be prepared to cover the postage costs of sending out your cards (you have the option whether or not to send internationally).
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate.
  • Please do not send cards that others may find offensive (ie. anything with nudity or obscenities)
  • You can send store-bought cards or you can send homemade ones.
  • You can include a small gift if you want (e.g. bookmarks and postcards).
  • You are also allowed to include a business card for your blog if you have one.
  • You can include a letter if you want to.
  • Open to everyone, regardless of where you live.
You can sign up anytime before Nov 30th when I will send you a list of where to send your cards.

Please let your friends and followers know about this as the more people who sign up the more fun it will be!

Sign up by filling out the form below:
 

Entangled by Cat Clarke

EntangledThe same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?
AM I GOING TO DIE?

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got here.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction.
 
My thoughts: I could not put this book down! The book is told as the journal of Grace, the main character. She self-harms and is suicidal. At the start of the book Grace thinks she's been kidnapped and is being held prisoner. To make sense of the situation she starts writing down everything that she remembers. This includes her relationship with boyfriend Nat and her best friend Sal. Some of the 'twists' in the story were a bit obvious and it made me feel like when you watch a horror movie and you know that something bad is going to happen, but you have to watch anyway.

At first I found it hard to like Grace, but as the story progressed and I learned more about her I really started to feel sorry for her and I just wanted to give her a big hug!

This was a really great book and I recommend it to everyone! But I do warn you it is a bit sad in places.

I received an ARC copy of this book on tour from UK Book Tours.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

In My Mailbox 19

I received two books for review this week. I'm really looking forward to both of these.


Alpha by Rachel Vincent - Everything is about to change for werecat Faythe when her father is ousted from the council that controls their secret world. And a shocking tragedy jeopardises her future as Alpha of the pride.
Now a rebel on the run, Faythe's biggest fight lies ahead. Old allies from the supernatural world are ready to stand by her side. And weretoms Marc and Jace would give their very souls in the duel for Faythe's heart...
Yet as their enemies draw near Faythe knows that she - and she alone - can lead the pride into what may be their final battle.

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton - A rural idyll: that's what Catherine is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the CĂ©vennes mountains. With her divorce in the past and her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and to set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you're no longer here on holiday. There is French bureaucracy to contend with, not to mention the mountain weather, and the reserve of her neighbours, including the intriguing Patrick Castagnol. And that's before the arrival of Catherine's sister, Bryony...

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.
Spy Glass (Glass, #3) An undercover mission leads to danger, adventure and an impossible choice...

After siphoning her own blood magic in the showdown at Hubal, Opal Cowan has lost her powers. She can no longer create glass magic. More, she's immune to the effects of magic. Opal is an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference in the world.

Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes flash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood - and that finding it might let her regain her powers. Or know it could be they are lost forever...
My thoughts: I received this book from the publisher for review, and I was so pleased when they contacted me because I've been dying to find out what would happen next to Opal. This is the third and final book in the Glass trilogy featuring Opal Cowan the glass magician. At the end of the second book (Sea Glass, read my review here) Opal lost her powers, and in Spy Glass she is on a quest to find her blood hoping she can regain some magic.
I was pleased to see that some of my favourite characters from the previous books were also in this one. I was especially pleased to see Ari and Janco again because I really love them.
I mentioned in my review of Sea Glass that there was a confusing appearance of the Bloodrose clan that I hoped would be cleared up in the third book. They did reappear in this book and the mystery surrounding them seems to have been resolved.

One last point to make is that if you've been following the series you'll know that Opal has been torn between Kade and Devlen. By the end of this book she has finally made the choice. I don't want to give anything away, but I think after reading the book I can understand her choice.

I really enjoyed this book, and I think it was a good end to the series. But there were some new characters introduced in this book that I really hope Maria is going to write some more books about!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

In My Mailbox 18


This week's books are The Tin Princess, The Tiger in the Well, and The Shadow in the North all by Philip Pullman. After reading The Ruby in the Smoke I was looking for the next in the series on BookMooch and happened to find someone who had the whole set and was willing to send them all to me.

Also this week I got a 2010/2011 diary for noting down appointments etc. Plus I got some black and gold glittery nail polish from Missguided. It looks really good on because it looks black but the gold glitter makes it kind of shimmery.

Anyway, that's what I got this week, what did you get?

Oh by the way, I've started a writing blog in preparation for NaNoWriMo if you're interested :)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Monthly Round-up - September 2010, IMM 17

I'm a bit late with my monthly round-up and last weeks IMM. I spent the whole day on Sunday frantically typing a 1500 word essay that had to be in Monday morning. Anyway, that's out of the way now, so back to business.

September's news:
  • Birthday giveaway winners were announced
  • Started a Facebook for the blog
In my mailbox 17
Last week I got one book:
Fleshmarket Close (Inspector Rebus, #15)

Books read in September:
The One & Only by Sophie McKenzie
Entangled by Cat Clarke
Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder
Exurbia by Molly McGrann
The Outcast by Sadie Jones
Endal by Allen & Sandra Parton
The Pi**ed Off Parents Club by Mink Elliott
Puppy's Pet Pals by Gerald Durrell
Whisper of a Witch by Suza Kates

Total read: 9
It's so hard to choose a favourite book this month, they were all pretty great! If I absolutely had to pick I'd say Endal was my favourite just because it's completely different to anything I normally read.

Books reviewed in September:
Endal by Allen & Sandra Parton
A Wartime Poetry Journal by Effie M. Roberts
Moonshine by Christina Jones

Total reviewed: 3

Books received in September: 7 (10 if you count my uni books)
Added to wishlist: 6

What's coming in October?
I've signed up for NaNoWriMo in November, so throughout October I'll be preparing for that. Also, because all of the winners of my birthday giveaway were international readers I'm thinking of having a UK only competition.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Birthday Giveaway Winners

There were three winners of my birthday giveaway, each winning a different book.

Winner of Happy Birthday by Christina Jones: Rebecca
Winner of The Birthday Room by Kevin Henkes: Bee
Winner of Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden: Audrey

Thanks everyone for entering, and I'll be having another giveaway soon so stay tuned!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

In My Mailbox 16

I didn't get to do an In My Mailbox post last week, so these are the books I've got in the last fortnight.


'Salem's Lot by Stephen King - I started reading this one at work on a day when the computers were broken, then because I hadn't finished it they said I could keep it, which was nice of them. Although I doubt I'm going to finish the book because I'm finding it really boring!

Entangled by Cat Clarke - On tour through UK Book Tours. I just finished reading this one yesterday, it was really great! Review to come in the next few days.

Innocent Blood by P.D. James - Received from bookmooch.com


Operation Concrete Boxset, including Concrete Operational novel by Richard Galbraith, art book and CD - Received from the author for review. Check out the guest post that Richard Galbraith wrote for my blog here.

P.S. Please excuse my rubbish photos, it's hard to get the lighting right with this crappy British weather!

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Author Guest Post: Richard Galbraith

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll notice that I've been missing in action lately! Anyway, to make up for it I have something a bit different for you today. I have a guest post by Richard Galbraith, author of Concrete Operational.

Concrete Operational - Novel writing, art, music and independent publishing

Concrete Operational Concrete Operational is my novel, it’s an independent release funded by the Arts Council England…that statement itself raises two quick questions, why indie, and how did you convince the English Arts Council to give you thousands of pounds to publish it? Well, this is where my journey into independent publishing, collaborative media, design, filmmaking, music production, art manufacturing and a host of other things came to being.

Let’s take a step back to 2009, I had my novel manuscript complete, and I’d had it assessed by the most excellent Oxford Editors. My assessor said that whilst it was a good manuscript, it was difficult in places and would have problems finding an agent or a publisher because of it’s content, being that at the time, the second chapter was a 4,000 word speech amongst other things.

I looked back on my manuscript and remembered that the reason I began writing it, wasn’t to get published, but to explore my theories and beliefs on the human condition and Fatalism, and to an extent, it had done that. I also knew however, I would now like people to read it and that the 80,000 words that I had written were a jumbled mess of vast streams of consciousness, and surrealist writing.

I decided to compromise, I would make the novel, the manuscript that ‘had legs’ legible, I’d do everything I could to make it a compelling, insightful and interesting read and tell a real story, but I also wanted to keep the keen look at humanity. I wanted to make sure the reader came away with something and in this regard, I decided on a collaborative media project, because well, I’m not Kurt Vonnegut.

I pulled my resources and crowd sourced five British bands and five British artists who were prepared to create original music and art around five emotionally driven extracts of my novel. The promise was an art book, music album and novel, all to be released at the same time through the Amazon print on demand service, Createspace. We would have a launch night, a seven-day exhibition and the support of marketing and promotion professionals.

And that is what Operation Concrete came to be. Only we achieved so much more along the road; we produced a 72 page art book, a five track album, a six minute short film, original designs and branding around all assets, 200 bespoke, hand-made boxes for ‘box-sets’ of all the products. The launch night had well over 200 attendees and the seven day art exhibition that was free to the public and ran in London saw over 1000 patrons pass through. The exhibition was an immersive experience that allowed the patron to read the extract to the art and listen to the music all at the same time. It was all a great success.

However, all in all, it’s been a very difficult road, pulling it all together was hard, but trying to get people to find out what we did and understand what it was and is all about is proving the most difficult part.

Hopefully this post has sparked some of your interest though, so head over to Operation Concrete for samples of the art, music and words, to view the short film, and ultimately to purchase any of the items or all of them, in one of the box-sets. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that through it, you can discover something about yourself that you might not have known was there before.

If you would like to know more about the project that you can find online, just email me at ricgalbraith [at] gmail [dot] com

Richard Galbraith


Sunday, 12 September 2010

In My Mailbox 15

I got two books this week, they're both ones that I can't wait to read.

First up, I got a review copy of Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder. I'm so excited to read this one!
An undercover mission leads to danger, adventure and an impossible choice...

Spy Glass (Glass, #3)After siphoning her own blood magic in the showdown at Hubal, Opal Cowan has lost her powers. She can no longer create glass magic. More, she's immune to the effects of magic. Opal is an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference in the world.

Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes flash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood - and that finding it might let her regain her powers. Or know it could be they are lost forever...
The second book I got was A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly. This has been on my wishlist for ages, so I was really pleased when someone on bookmooch offered it to me as a swap for one of my other books.


A Gathering LightWhen Mattie is given letters by a guest at the hotel where she has a summer job, she thinks the guest is simply upset. But when the woman is found drowned next day, Mattie must decide whether she will read them, or burn them as requested. A touching funny surprising novel set in 1906 and based on a true story.




In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Endal by Allen and Sandra Parton

Endal: How One Extraordinary Dog Brought a Family Back from the BrinkAllen Parton suffered a serious head injury while serving in the Gulf War and returned home unable to walk, talk or remember most of his life. He couldn't even remember his wife, Sandra, and their two children. After five years of rehabilitation, he was still severely disabled.
Sandra was a nurse so thought she would be able to help her husband, but the Allen who had returned didn't remember her, and couldn't cope with what life had dealt him. Determined to be strong, Sandra would have to fight to keep her family together.
Endal was a Labrador puppy with problems of his own until he 'adopted' Allen and Sandra. He was to change their world, and give them back their family.
My thoughts: A truly amazing story, this book completely blew me away. Have the tissues ready!

Allen was serving in the Gulf when he was involved in a car accident which left him suffering a serious brain injury. He couldn't remember anything about his life other than his naval career.

The first half of the book explores Allen and Sandra's life before and after the accident. It made for really intense reading. All that Allen wants to do is get better and get back to work, but his short term memory loss is so bad that sometimes he'll stop speaking halfway through a sentence and forget he was even talking. Sandra was incredible in the way she dealt with everything. She has to put up with the navy closing ranks on her when she tries to find out the truth about Allen's accident, then she has to cope with money worries and possible eviction from their home. All this while trying to care for a man who doesn't even recognise her as his wife.
Endal the dog isn't introduced until much later on in the book, which is good because you really do need to know the full story to fully appreciate how much Endal changed Allen and Sandra's lives.

The book is told in alternating chapters between Allen and Sandra. This is slightly repetitive in places, but it's good because you get to see both sides of the story.

Endal is an amazing dog and it was lovely to read about all the things he could do and the way he brought people out of themselves. But I have to say that my hero of the story was Sandra. There's not many people who could (or would) stand by their spouse for so long when he didn't even know who she was. The way she coped with everything was amazing and she's a true inspiration to me.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

In My Mailbox 14

It was quite a quiet week for books this week. I only got one which I mooched from bookmooch.com.

The Ghosts of Sleath I have read this before when I was 16, but I fancied reading it again.

Also I got my course books for my next course which is starting in October. Please excuse the terrible photo, the camera batteries were about to die so I was hurrying!


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, 3 September 2010

A Wartime Poetry Journal by Effie M. Roberts

A Wartime Poetry JournalEffie M. Roberts wrote her journal of poetry in World War 2. Times were very bleak but she rarely lost her sense of humour, or her courage.

My thoughts: This is a really lovely book. It has been edited and published by the author's granddaughter, and this means she has been able to give a really good introduction to the book telling the reader about the background of her grandmother's life. I found this really helpful beacuse it gives you a context for the poems.

The poems themselves are really lovely. Effie wrote them as her journal during the war years, so they are quite personal. She writes about everything from waiting in a queue, to finding out that her husband was killed. The poems made me feel a range of emotions; some made me smile, others had me nearly crying.

My favourite poem in the book was this one:

After so many months of war,
And the ruins around, we see,
We think - must everything be lost?
And what will the end ever be?

War has left thousands homeless,
And robbed us of many a thing;
Though havoc is left near and far,
It can't take away everything.

We must have the cheerless black-out,
We must have the great guns booming,
But the birds still carol gaily,
And the flowers still keep on blooming.

We still have the leafy woodland,
There is joy in the sunlit hill,
In the breezes, softly sighing,
And the river that's never still.

There is joy in the starlit sky,
And the health-giving sun's warm ray,
We find, when we just think awhile,
There's lots the war can't take away.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Moonshine by Christina Jones

MoonshineCleo Moon is starting life over again after a divorce. She lands a job as PA to Lady of the Manor - Mimi - having settled herself in a caravan in the sleepy little village of Lovers' Knot. But the trouble starts when the most beautiful boy in the world - Dylan - turns up on her doorstep drunk one night.

My thoughts: When Cleo finds some old recipes for homemade wine, her and Dylan have a go at making the wine, planning to serve it at the Harvest Home festival. Cleo obviously fancies Dylan, and even though he's a bit of a player, I found myself really wanting her to end up with him.
In a side story Cleo's teenaged friend Elvi is falling in love with Zeb, a rich kid who she knows her father will hate.

The Harvest Home festival is what the whole book leads up to, and it doesn't disappoint. When the wine is served for the first time it turns out to have magical effects on anyone who drinks it. This made for some really funny scenes, but it also revealed the secrets of some of the characters, which brought everything together nicely.

I really loved this book. I felt really involved with the characters and I enjoyed reading about the developing romances. I thought the story was a really original idea and I will definitely be seeking out more books by Christina Jones.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Monthly Round-Up - August 2010

Hope you've all had a great month. August has been a busy month for me, there was a bunch of family birthdays, my mum came to visit for a weekend, work was crazy, and there's been some big arguments too. All of that has slightly taken me away from blogging, but I am still here! So here's a round-up of reading in August.

Books read in August:
1. My Secret Admirer by Carol Ellis
2. Tall, Dark and Filthy Rich by Jill Monroe
3. The Smoking Gun by Malcolm Rose
4. I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk
5. The Player by Rhonda Nelson
6. The Hitchhiker by R.L. Stine
7. Milly Molly Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley
8. A Wartime Poetry Journal by Effie M. Roberts
9. Moonshine by Christina Jones
10. The Ruby In The Smoke by Philip Pullman
11. Ratcatcher by James McGee
12. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
13. Skinny B, Skaz and Me by John Singleton
14. Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon
15. Danger In The Shadows by Dee Henderson

Total read: 15
My favourite book this month was Moonshine by Christina Jones. It's a really fun and cute story with a touch of magic. I'll be posting my full review of it tomorrow.

Books reviewed in August:
1. Touching The Sky by Susan Madison
2. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
3. My Soviet Kitchen by Amy Spurling

Total reviewed: 3

Books received in August: 20
Books added to wishlist: 17

What's coming in September?
My birthday giveaway is ongoing until September 30th, make sure you enter for your chance to win one of three books. Apart from that, you can look forward to more reviews and maybe a few book-related posts.

Monday, 30 August 2010

My Soviet Kitchen by Amy Spurling

LIST OF INGREDIENTS:

My Soviet Kitchen: AND Companion Guide: Ivy's Guide to Life in the Ex-USSRMemory loss, homo sovieticus, and a wandering PhD student. This is Neo-chick lit. with a darker side, a vodka twist and a generous slice of post-Soviet living.

It’s 1994 and English PhD student, Ivy Stone, wakes up in a Moscow flat with a hangover and a vague sense of unease…

Unable to remember what she did last night or why there is a cryptic Post-It note on her fridge, she begins an emotional, alcohol-fuelled journey via an Uzbek wedding, an Estonian sauna, and a Georgian serenade. What dark past haunts her new Russian man? And will she ever find the author of the mystery Post-It note?
My thoughts: The whole idea behind this book really interested me. I don't know much about Russia and the surrounding countries, but I thought the book sounded intriguing.
However, I'm not sure I enjoyed it that much. I found the plot quite confusing. The whole "Mystery post-it note" thing sounds like it should be the main plot line, but in reality it's more of a side plot, and a very predictable one too. The main plot was more about the main character, Ivy, who is supposed to be a PhD student researching for a project, spending her time getting drunk and gallivanting around the former soviet union with an old, married Russian guy. The plot jumped around a lot too. It felt like one minute Ivy was at a party, next thing she's in a completely different country three days later. This is probably supposed to add the "memory-loss" that Ivy is feeling, but I just found it confusing.

Throughout the book there are lots of footnotes and references to the companion guide, which at first was a bit of a novelty and quite fun, but as the book carried on I just found these footnotes annoying and distracting. A lot of the time they didn't even seem that important or relevant.

Overall I can't say I enjoyed the plot that much, nor liked the characters enough. But if you're interested in reading about the former Soviet Union then you might like the facts that are scattered throughout the book. Also the companion guide that comes with the book had some recipes and things in it which were interesting.

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

Sunday, 29 August 2010

In My Mailbox 13

I got six books this week.

Bought:
Birds in the Spring: AND The Silken Thread
Birds in the Spring/The Silken Thread by Evelyn Hood

The Pissed-off Parents Club
The Pi**ed-Off Parents Club by Mink Elliott

Bury Me Standing
Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca

Won from Goodreads:
Whisper of a Witch
Whisper of a Witch by Suza Kates

Got free with a magazine:
What The Hell Is He Thinking?
What The Hell is He Thinking? by Zoe Strimpell

From bookmooch:
Puppy's Pet Pals - Puppy goes to pets day
Puppy's Pet Pals by Gerald Durrell

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

Friday, 27 August 2010

Birthday Giveaway

It was my birthday yesterday (August 26th) and to celebrate I'm going to have a giveaway!

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED

The books you can choose from are:

1. Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden

Molly Fox's BirthdayDublin, Midsummer: While absent in New York, the celebrated actor Molly Fox has loaned her house to a playwright friend, who is struggling to write a new work. Over the course of this, the longest day of the year, the playwright reflects upon her own life, Molly's, and that of their mutual friend Andrew, whom she has known since university. Why does Molly never celebrate her own birthday, which falls upon this day? What does it mean to be a playwright or an actor? How have their relationships evolved over the course of many years? Molly Fox's Birthday calls into question the ideas that we hold about who we are; and shows how the past informs the present in ways we might never have imagined
2. Happy Birthday by Christina Jones

Happy Birthday On midsummer's day, Phoebe Bowler - star-sign demon - should have returned home an ecstatically happy new bride. Instead, she's been jilted at the altar. In need of sympathy, perhaps she could turn to her neighbour, the dishy Rocky Lancaster? But with problems of his own he's turned into Mr Grumpy and wants to be left alone. That is until Essie Rivers arrives on the scene, and then Phoebe and Rocky's paths seem destined to collide with a very big bump. Essie knows far more about astrology, personolgy, numerology - any 'ology' you care to mention - than Phoebe has ever heard of. But it is the secret magic of 'birthday-ology' that catches Phoebe's eye. Can she really use a birthday to find a perfect match or to set her and Rocky back on the path to happiness? Phoebe thinks so, but that's when things start to go really wrong...
3. The Birthday Room by Kevin Henkes
The Birthday Room"Two of the things Benjamin Hunter received for his twelfth birthday took him completely by surprise: a room and a letter. The room was from his parents. The letter was from his uncle." A room and a letter--both so vague in the abstract, and so full of possibility. On Ben's birthday, however, both weigh heavily on his mind.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

In My Mailbox 12


As you can probably see from the photo, I went a bit crazy buying books this week. I visited the same shop I went to last week, and they were still having the sale. So from there I bought:

From BookMooch I received:

And then yesterday from the charity shop I bought:

A grand total of 9 books in a week!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)Synopsis: When sixteen-year-old Sophie Mercer discovers she's a witch, she imagines life will be full of magic, fun and... well... broomsticks! But her first attempt at a love spell goes disastrously wrong and, as punishment, Sophie is shipped off to Hecate "Hex" Hall, a reform school for witches, shapeshifters and faeries.
By the end of her first day among her fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person on campus and the only vampire.
Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
My thoughts: I had heard great things about this book, and it did not disappoint. I absolutely adored Hex Hall, and it's now one of my favourite books.
The characters were really interesting to read about, and not just because they were magical either. I loved Sophie, the main character, and I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Archer developing.
The story line was enjoyable and I loved the mystery element of the story. The ending was a huge surprise for me and I absolutely MUST read the sequel.
My only complaint about this book would be that it was over too quickly!
If you haven't read this book yet I would highly recommend it. Even if, like me, you're not that keen on fantasy and magic.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

In My Mailbox 11


I told my boyfriend I wasn't going to buy any books this month, but these were in a sale at 49p each, how could I resist?

Mooched from bookmooch.com:

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Touching The Sky by Susan Madison

Touching the SkySynopsis: Melissa Sherman moved to the quiet town of Butterfield, amid the rugged mountains and lakes of Vermont, to escape the pain of a broken heart. Now she has built a life for herself and seems to have everything she could wish for. But she still feels a corrosive sense of loneliness. Something is missing from her life. When she befriends Lisa who has recently moved to the country with her husband Ben, Mel cannot help but be reminded of everything she has lost. But when Lisa’s life is shattered by tragedy, and Ben turns to Mel for reassurance, Mel herself is drawn to him with an all-consuming passion that precludes all else.
My Thoughts: I found this book very depressing. Everyone seems to either die or be desperately broken-hearted. It was a good story with interesting characters and relationships, it was just really sad. There are a few happy parts, but if you're going to read this book make sure you have the tissues ready!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Monthly Round-Up - July 2010

I'm a bit late with the monthly round-up for July, but not a lot happened anyway. If I was doing blogging for a job I think I'd have been sacked this month!

Books read in July
1. Live Bait by P.J.Tracy
2. My Soviet Kitchen by Amy Spurling
3. Isabel's Daughter by Judi Hendricks
4. Bertie, May and Mrs Fish by Xandra Bingley
5. Skull Session by Daniel Hecht
6. The WAG's Diary by Alison Kervin
7. African Adventure by Willard Price
8. House at the Corner by Enid Blyton

Total read: 8
My favourite book read this month was House at the Corner by Enid Blyton.

Books Reviewed in July

None. Isn't that terrible?

Books received this month: 14
Books added to wishlist this month: 0

What's coming in August?
Well we're already a week into August so really it's what's coming in the rest of August. I'll be scheduling some reviews today to be posted over the next few days. I do not want a repeat of last month! I'm also still working on the 'secret project' that I mentioned a while back.
My birthday is coming up on August 26th so I might have a birthday giveaway.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

In My Mailbox 10

I got a whole heap of books this week!


From Erotic Horizon I won a huge prize pack consisting of:
1. Spirit's Song by Madeline Baker
2. Call of the Highland Moon by Kendra Leigh Castle
3. The Rake's Proposal by Sarah Elliott
4. Night Game by Christine Feehan
5. Marley & Me by John Grogan
6. Party of Three by Joan Kilby
7. Tall, Dark & Filthy Rich by Jill Monroe
8. The Player by Rhonda Nelson
9. Christmas Angels by Nora Roberts
10. Maitland Maternity: Triplets, Quads and Quints
Also included was a mousemat and coasters which I forgot to photograph.

From Book Chick City I won The Other Countess by Eve Edwards.

From a ReadItSwapIt swap I received Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman.

And finally I got I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk free with Glamour magazine.

I feel so lucky to have won those prizes, I don't normally win anything.
It feels like my birthday has come a month early! (My birthday's August 26th in case you were wondering...).

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

In My Mailbox 9

I've been terrible at updating this month! Since starting my new job it's like I've had no time to do anything. Well, I have had time, it just seems like I haven't because there's always so much to do.
I haven't bought many new books lately, which is unusual for me. I've only bought 1 book so far this month, usually I buy at least 10 a month! This week I bought this book from a charity shop, it sounded like a fun summer read.

The Wag's Diary (WAGs Diary, #1)The Wag's Diary by Alison Kervin

Tracie Martin is Luton Town's longest-serving WAG. For 12 years, team captain husband Dean has kept her in acrylic nails, UGG boots and Juicy Couture.
But with the start of the football season looming, there's a new breed of WAGs at LTFC who aren't quite playing by the rules. Standards are slipping and Wagdom is in crisis! To add insult to injury, Tracie's daughter Paskia-Rose is more interested in the offside rule than shopping.
What is a WAG to do?
Tracie decides to end this improper conduct by writing the ultimate guide to life for wannabe WAGs. Overnight, she finds herself propelled into the limelight, achieving the A-list status she has craved for so long. From Old Trafford to Baden-Baden, she's the talk of the town. But will fame and fortune bring Tracie more than she bargains for?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren