Thursday, 28 April 2016

Blog Tour: Review for The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater and Giveaway

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Release: 26th April 2016
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure any more."

The Raven King is a book that I’ve been both anticipating and dreading. I’ve fallen in love with this world where magic is ripe, dreams can be brought to life, curses are destined and death is a promise. For four books I’ve been spellbound by Blue and her Raven boys, a family of psychics and the poetic, dreamlike way their story is told. From start to finish this series has been pure magic.

As with most final books in a beloved series there were things I was both happy and dissatisfied with. There were some things that I’ve been dying to see come about since book one that happened that I was so happy with but there were also other outcomes that I found disappointing and a little anticlimactic after so much build up throughout the series.

For me, the most important thing about a final book is for the characters that I’ve come to know and love to have an ending that I am happy to leave them with. Overall I was really happy with the outcome of the book but there were one or two characters who I felt deserved more of an ending. I loved how Maggie really brought this series full circle but in some situations I’d have liked a little more clarity and closure.

The pacing for this book was pitch perfect, I never once wanted to skip to the end to find out what happened because so much was happening throughout to change the course of the story. The big things that I wanted to happen were delivered perfectly at just the right moment; a certain kiss went way beyond my expectations. Again there were a few plot points that I found somewhat anticlimactic but for the most part my expectations were more than met.

I truly feel like I’ve been on a magical journey with The Raven Cycle and I’m so sad that our time with these characters has come to an end. Each book has read like a haunting dream that I find myself getting lost in; every word has delivered beauty and has held me enchanted. I was so sad to turn the final page and wake up.

For the chance to win a set of these exclusive Raven Cycle badges enter bellow!

Giveaway Rules 
 To enter you have to fill in the Rafflecopter 
 Open to UK residents only 
 One winner will be drawn and contacted by email with 1 week to reply else another winner will be selected 
 Make sure you complete what the form asks of you - I do check! Any winner who has not completed an option will be disqualified

Make sure you follow the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 22 April 2016

My Top Readathon Tips

Hello lovely people! Tomorrow is Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and I'm very excited. Despite taking part in lots of readathons before (and even hosting one myself) the first time I took part in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon was last year and I absolutely loved it! I'm so excited to be taking part again this year and thought what better time to share with you some of my top readathon tips. I've definitely learned some tricks that help me make the most out of a readathon over the years and so today I decided to share what I've learned with you in case there are any readathon newbies looking for advice or anyone who'd just like to be nosy about how I make the most out of a readathon.

Join us and sign up here!
• Be Organised – For me this is the most important tip because it usually insures that the readathon runs smoothly for me. The day before a readathon I like to go shopping for snacks, clean my reading area, put together a TBR pile and make sure my comfiest clothes are washed and ready for the next day. Being well prepared means that I’m saving myself precious time that I can put towards reading once the readathon has officially begun. 

• Choose Books Wisely- A readathon is not the time to be trying a new genre or a book you know is going to be a bit of a gamble. Also don’t be afraid to choose more books than you’re going to have time to read, that way you’ll have plenty of choice and if a book isn’t working out for you you’ll have a backup plan. I like to go for fast paced reads that I know are going to keep me turning those pages, I also like to put a few books on my TBR by some of my favourite authors who I know I can rely on for a great read. I find that it’s a good idea to read books on different formats, graphic novels or audiobooks are great for when you want to keep your reading progress going but are feeling bogged down from reading a physical book. 

• Follow Fellow Readers- Before the readathon starts I like to go through social media and bookmark bloggers and booktubers who will be taking part in the readathon. I find following other people’s progress really encouraging when I’m struggling to keep reading. 

• Try NOT to Read Beforehand – The day before the readathon I like to not pick up anything to read. For me it’s almost like not eating anything all day because you’re going to an all you can eat buffet for dinner. I love the anticipation of waiting to dive into a pile of books and I like to spend the night before watching some TV because I know I won’t be doing much of that over the next 24 hours.

• Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Make sure you get an early night the night before the readathon - you’ll be grateful for it when you’re up late reading the next night. 

• Choose Snacks Wisely- A readathon is a great excuse to pig out on some delicious treats but also try to add some healthy foods in there too. Too much pizza, chocolate and crisps can make me feel tired and sluggish so I try to eat some fruit and drink plenty of water too. It also goes without saying that if you like to read and eat at the same time try to go for finger foods that aren’t going to leave your book messy. 

• Take Regular Breaks – Every couple of hours I like to take a 10-20 minute break to stretch, play with my dog or watch a sitcom. Taking breaks keeps your mind fresh and it’s so important to stretch those legs! 

• Time Your Internet Allowance- We all know how easy it is to get sucked down the internet rabbit hole when you’re supposed to be reading. I like to set a timer on my phone allowing myself half an hour to browse the internet and see how other readers are getting on. That way I’m not looking up from my laptop hours later and realising I’ve lost a large chunk of those precious 24 hours online. 

• Put Books You Aren’t Enjoying Down – This is something I find really difficult to do because I usually like to finish a book even if I’m not enjoying it all that much. The readathon is not the time to be slogging through a book you aren’t enjoying so if like me you like to finish a book, put it down just for the readathon. Telling myself that I can go back to it after the 24 hours are up really helps. 

• Sleep If You Need To – I’m an insomniac so staying up all night reading is not a good idea for me. I try not to feel guilty over the fact that I need to sleep. If you’re getting to the point where you’re reading the same sentence over and over again because you keep drifting off put the book down and get some sleep. You’re only wasting precious time making slow progress; you may as well catch some sleep and try again when you’re feeling fresh and alert. 

 Because the readathon is on for such a short amount of time I won't be posting updates on my blog but you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads to see how I'm getting along. Read lots and have fun!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Review for When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen 
Publisher: Black Swan
Release: 21st April 2016
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years - they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ....

Now, there's something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?"

When I read the synopsis for When She Was Bad I immediately wanted to read it. There are so many psychological thrillers out at the moment that it’s hard to find one with a unique premise. The idea of a murderer at work was so intriguing to me and made a refreshing change from the missing child stories that are currently so popular in this genre.

When She Was Bad is told in alternate chapters, one thread of the story follows a group of work friends in the UK whose once friendly workplace is growing toxic and competitive with the arrival of new boss Rachel. The other half of the story is set in the United States and follows Anne, a child psychologist, who is treating a highly traumatised child called Laurie. Both plots grow more sinister as the book goes on but they also read completely separate from one another. The two storylines kept me invested in this story. I just had to know if and how they were connected!

My only complaint about this book is that it took a while to get going. It’s a thriller that ends on an explosion rather than starts with one so it opens slowly and gathers speed as it goes along. The real fun of this book is getting to know the large cast of characters who all have their secrets and sinister side. Are any of them capable of murder? As the tension in their work environment and personal lives rises, the characters are on tenterhooks with each of them growing more troubled. I loved guessing who would snap first!

I pride myself on usually being about to guess “who done it?” in a thriller but When She Was Bad had such a clever ending that I was completely taken aback by. It also ends on a deliciously twisted final note that teases at what might be in store for these characters when we close the book and leave them.

Overall When She Was Bad is a fresh and exciting read that stands out as different in an overcrowded genre.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

My Favourite Books on Mental Health

Hi guys, as I'm sure most of you already know I suffer with mental health issues. Over the years since being diagnosed with PTSD, OCD, Anxiety and Depression I've read countless books featuring characters with mental illnesses. Today I wanted to share with you some of the best books I've come across in that time. I thought that all of the books mentioned in this post represented mental health in a really honest light. If you're suffering with your mental health or know someone who is I hope that these books help and make you feel a little less alone.

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne 
Add to Goodreads
Deals With: OCD, Anxiety 
Synopsis: "All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?"

Why I Love It- Being totally honest here, if I had to choose one book as my favourite on this list it would be Am I Normal Yet? When it comes to OCD, anxiety and just growing up as a girl, Holly Bourne really gets it. I've suffered from debilitating OCD in the past and this book portrayed the thoughts and feelings I went through at that time so accurately that it's scary. This book is an absolute must read.

When We Collided by Emery Lord 
Add to Goodreads 
Deals With: Bipolar DisorderDepression 
Synopsis: "Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him."

Why I Love It- I read When We Collided very recently and absolutely fell in love with it. What I really liked about this book is that it not only follows someone living with a mental illness but also someone who loves someone with a mental illness. I'd especially recommend this book to anyone who is trying to support someone who has either depression or bipolar disorder.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 
Add to Goodreads 
Deals With: PTSD, Social Anxiety, Depression 
Synopsis:"Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor."

Why I Love It- The Perks of Being a Wallflower has become a bit of a mental health classic and if you've read it then you'll know why. This is a book that really gets it right and somehow manages to put those dark, devastating feelings into coherent sentences. When I read this back in 2012 I remember reading passages out to my parents and saying "This is what it's like for me!" It also has a stellar film adaptation that is well worth watching after reading this book.

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt 
Add to Goodreads 
Deals With: PTSD, Agoraphobia, Anxiety, Panic Attacks
Synopsis:"Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then herself.

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

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

Why I Love It- Underwater is another fairly recent read for me that I read in January this year. The character in this book is actually housebound because of her mental illnesses which is something that I was for a while so I found this book incredibly relatable. This book focuses more on mental health recovery which I found really refreshing to read. I loved the hopeful message that things can and will get better. No matter what you've been through and how bad your mental illnesses are there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson 
Add to Goodreads 
Deals With: Eating Disorders, Anorexia
Synopsis:"“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl. I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through. I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit."

Why I Love It- Like Perks, Wintergirls has also become a mental health classic over the years. I read this one way back in 2009 but to this day it still sticks with me as being the best book that I've read about anorexia. This wasn't a book that I could personally relate to but it was one that really opened my eyes to the world of eating disorders. I remember it being incredibly powerful and evocative to read and like all Laurie Halse Anderson books it's beautifully written.

Beautiful Broken Things 
by Sara Barnard 
Add to Goodreads 
Deals With: PTSD, Anxiety, Depression 
Synopsis:"I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own."

Why I Love It- Beautiful Broken Things is one of my favourite reads of this year so far and one that I've been pushing absolutely everyone to read. I'd especially recommend this to anyone who has a friend with a mental illness as this book shows how best to (and best not) support them.

There are so many incredible books out there representing mental health, these are just a handful of my favourites. I have so many books sitting on my bookcase featuring mental health that I have yet to read. Whatever you're going through you are not alone. I want to end this post by leaving a link to this excellent list on Goodreads sharing books dealing with mental illness that is well worth checking out.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Review for Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane

Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release: 7th April 2016
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Chick-lit, Women’s Fiction
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, Edie’s forced to take an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?

Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgy, layabout sister.

When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out."

Mhairi McFarlane is one of my favourite authors and Who’s That Girl is her best book yet! Her stories are always funny, smart and slick and despite their length I never want them to end.

Who’s That Girl follows Edie Thompson whose found herself in a very modern, very complicated sort-of-relationship with a guy at her work. On his wedding day he kisses Edie and his new wife witnesses it all. Labelled a “marriage wrecker” and “the other woman” Edie becomes a social pariah. Targeted by bullies both online and at work she flees London in shame and goes back home to Nottingham. Her boss throws Edie the lifeline of ghost writing famous television star Elliot Owen’s biography and the two connect over their lives being judged by other people – Elliot with the press and Edie with her online bullies but there’s more than one side to each of us and we’re more than what people see. Who’s that girl? Edie’s about to find out.

I think that what puts Mhairi McFarlane head and shoulders above the rest for me is her heroines and the way she writes them. They’re all incredibly complex and their stories aren’t solely based on their love lives. The romance in Mhairi’s books is equal to the relationships her heroines have with their friends, family, career and themselves which results in a more fleshed out, modern heroine who I relate to. Every one of her heroines comes to feel like my best friend when I’m reading their story and I see myself reflected in them.

One of my favourite aspects of Who’s That Girl is its take on social media. Like most people, Edie is addicted to her phone and has built an image online showing her best self, so when that all comes crashing down she has an identity crises of sorts. It was interesting to read about our online selves in comparison to our real selves, we live in a time where it’s very easy to feel like you know somebody and can make a judgment on them when really you’re only seeing a small part of who they are.

Who’s That Girl is a heart-warming, emotional and fist pump inducing read about claiming your own identity and sticking it to anyone who tries to tell you who you are, who you are not and puts a label on you. Who’s That Girl has left me book drunk and has utterly spoiled me for all other romantic comedies this year.

Who’s that girl? She’s Edie Thompson and she’s f***ing fabulous!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Susin Nielsen Blog Tour: Writing Two Narrators

Welcome to my stop on Susin Nielsen's UK blog tour! Today I have the lovely Susin herself guest posting a piece about what it's like to write two narrators.


What’s It Like Writing With Two Narrators? by Susin Nielsen

Until We Are All Made of Molecules I had never written a book with two narrators. I really wanted to write a story about a blended family. And if it was going to be blended, two narrators seemed like the way to go. Stewart – intellectually gifted, socially awkward, empathetic – was the voice that came to me first. I remember having fun with the first iteration of the opening chapter as I began the journey of discovering his voice.

Ashley was more challenging. I knew she needed to be, in many ways, the polar opposite of Stewart. I knew she would be much more self-centered, socially gifted, academically not so much. It wasn’t until I’d been playing with her opening chapter for a while that I had a revelation: I had met her before. She had been a secondary character in one of my earlier books, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom. In that novel, she had been little more than the stereotypical mean girl. Suddenly I couldn’t wait to dig in, and dig deeper, into that character.

So – as you can tell from their micro-descriptions – I rather intentionally started out with two characters who, at first glance, could be perceived as stereotypes; then, chapter by chapter, started stripping back their layers.

I loved writing Stewart because he is just such a decent human being. But I loved writing Ashley, too. Beyond having fun with her malapropisms, I had a lot of sympathy for her. Most readers seem to warm to her; I’ve had a few people tell me they couldn’t stand her. If I’m “totally one hundred percent honest,” to use Ashley’s phrase, maybe I have sympathy for her because I remember being her in so many ways. She is in that teenage girl swirl of hormones and insecurity, and it results in some really crap behavior. Um … been there, done that …

From a technical perspective, writing two narrators was a unique challenge. On the plus side, I really only had to write half a length of a book for each of them. :) The challenges were making sure I kept the story propelling forward every step of the way. I tried hard not to have too much repeat information, unless it was crucial to get it from both perspectives, in which case I’d try to tell it from a different entry-point into the scene.

I also had to be very careful to make their voices entirely distinct. Thank goodness for my great editors, because they found a few slips, where I had given certain expressions to both of my narrators.

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

We Are All Made of Molecules and The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen are both out now and available in all good bookshops. 

For more from Susin follow her on Twitter @susinnielsen and check out her website

Monday, 4 April 2016

March Round Up and Book of the Month

March's Book of the Month is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

I'm so surprised by March's book of the month! I'm not the biggest fan of non-fiction and I bought this on the recommendation of Sophie (she has the best taste in audiobooks!) and because I love Shonda's TV show How to Get Away With Murder. I fell in love with Shonda Rhimes, a person I knew very little about before reading Year of Yes, as I got to know her through this book. She's such an inspirational lady - especially to introverts who like to live in their head rather than in the real world like me. It's not often that I call a book life changing but Year of Yes was for me. This is a must read for anyone who loves books about smart inspirational women. I now have the biggest girl crush on Shonda! If you haven't let Shonda Rhimes into your life either via this book or one of her epic TV shows yet then you should.

Words cannot explain how much I love How to Get Away With Murder
Read in March 
29.) The Martian by Andy Weir (4*) 
30.) A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (3.5*) 
31.) Leap of Faith by Candy Harper (4*) 
32.) In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings (4*) 
33.) All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (4.5*) 
34.) These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton (4*) 
35.) Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (5*) 
36.) Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes (4*) 
37.) Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge (4*) 
38.) When We Collided by Emery Lord (4.5*) 
39.) Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens (4*) 
40.) Pop Goes The Weasle by M.J. Arlidge (4.5*) 

Monthly Book Awards 
Best Plot: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker 
Best Writing: When We Collided by Emery Lord 
Best Cover: When We Collided by Emery Lord 
Best Characters: Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens 
Best Ending: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 
Best Romance: These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton 
Best Friendship: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 
Most un-put-down-able: Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge 
Most Memorable: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 
Best Moral: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: Year of Yes, When We Collided, All is Not Forgotten 

Books I’m Looking Forward to Being Released in April 
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead 
The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer 
Head Over Heels by Holly Smale 
When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen 
The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters 

 What was your favourite book of March? 
 And what are you looking forward to reading in April?

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