Friday, 30 June 2017

The Fourth Monkey Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway!

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Fourth Monkey blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from J.D. Barker on how to write a chilling serial killer and I'm giving three of my readers the chance to win a copy of the book over on Twitter!

How JD Barker goes about creating a chilling serial killer 
and what he thinks makes a great villain

Easy peasy –

I’ve known I wanted to write a serial killer thriller for a long time but the story had to be just so. The formula has been done to death and I needed something fresh. Years ago, I decided if I wrote this book, the killer should die at the beginning of the story. That created a few complex problems, the least of which was where to go from there. The story sat patiently waiting in my subconscious until a day back in 2014 when I was in line at the grocery store. There was a rather rotund woman in line ahead of me in one of those electric carts and a boy of about eight years old standing behind me with his father. The boy said something about the woman, I didn’t hear what exactly, then his father leaned down and said, “Speak no evil, son.” As soon as I heard that, a number of thoughts flooded my head – Who says that? What exactly is happening back at their house? By that night, I had the basis for my killer’s childhood and the story found its way to paper quickly.

I’ve always been fascinated with serial killers and the overall psychology behind them. What causes a person to kill? Is that urge hardwired from the moment they’re born or is it somehow a learned behaviour fueled by environment and upbringing? A combination of both? The more I studied, the more I realized that even the experts don’t really know. They love to pretend they do, psychologists love their labels and find peace in the various boxes they feel they can drop people into but that appearance of knowledge is nothing but a mask. I’ve known good people who grew up in bad places and bad people who grew up under the best circumstances. There are a lot of sociopaths out in the world and only a small fraction of them kill, not all killers are sociopaths. The world isn’t black and white but filled with gray and it’s within that gray 4MK was born. My goal was to write a book that not only entertained but blurred the line between innocent and guilty – I hoped people would not only empathize with the victims but also the killer.

What makes a great villain? Showing the good in them. Nobody is purely good or evil, we all just lean one way or the other. A good character should be no different.

 For your chance to win a copy of The Fourth Monkey head over to Twitter 

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

My Favourite LGBT+ Books

Today is the start of the fab LGBTQIA Readathon hosted by my lovely friend Faye and the brilliant George Lester, this paired with the fact that Pride has officially begun here in the UK means that I wanted to share with you some of my favourite LGBT+ books for anyone looking for some recommendations on what to read.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan 

This is the perfect book to read during Pride given the fact that it takes place in San Francisco over Pride weekend following two LGBT main characters. Nina LaCour and David Levithan are two of my favourite writers and them writing together works incredibly well. This book had its sunshine and its showers which by the end created a rainbow of a finale. You Know Me Well features the largest LGBT+ cast that I've ever read about and coming in at 247 pages makes it the perfect little read that packs a powerful punch for this readathon.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

What I loved about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is that despite being a LGBT book it doesn't feel like a LGBT book and what I mean by that is that this is simply a love story that just happens to be between two guys. There are so many fantastic books out there about coming out and what it's like to be a gay teenager that are so profound and moving and important but with this book the focus was on the romance and I loved the normality of it. This book felt like a turning point in LGBT fiction for me and I adored everything about it.

A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke 

I read A Kiss in the Dark way back in 2014 and it's still one of my absolute favourite LGBT books. The book follows the love story of Alex and Kate but underneath their perfect relationship lies a secret so explosive that if discovered it will tear their relationship apart. This book explores themes such as identity and love being gender free. A Kiss in the Dark is so utterly consuming that once you start it you won't be able to put it down!

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan 

As I mentioned before, David Levithan is one of my favourite authors especially when it comes to LGBT fiction and Two Boys Kissing is one of my favourite books by him. The book is based on a true story and follows ex's Craig and Harry as they attempt to break the world record for the longest kiss. What I loved about this book was its look at history and how far we've come in terms of LGBT rights and how much further we still have to go. It's a short, important, beautifully written book that is essential reading for everyone.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson 

My last recommendation is for the brilliant The Art of Being Normal this book follows David who has always identified as being a transgender girl whose life changes forever when he makes friends with Leo Denton the new boy at school. I loved David so much, Lisa Williamson is an incredible writer and I felt all of David's feelings and experiences as if they were my own. This was the first book I ever read from the perspective of a trans character and it really opened my eyes. The Art of Being Normal is a beautiful book about living your life unapologetically and being true to who you are.

 I'm so looking forward to getting stuck into some brilliant LGBTQIA books over the readathon and I hope these recommendations encourage you to pick up some of these wonderful books!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

May Favourites: Feminism, Bookstagram and Conspiracy Theories

Hello everyone! It's been ages since I did a monthly favourites post mainly because I keep coming down with various illnesses since catching flu at the start of the year (it's true what they say, it really does throw your immune system out of wack) so a favourites post would mainly consist of cough sweets, sleeping and other boring sick person things that nobody wants to read about. But now summer is almost here and there has been lots of things I have been enjoying in May so let's take a look at what I've been loving this past month.

Favourite Books


In May I fell head over heels for two very different books. First up was Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh a YA Fantasy Mulan retelling. I loved the sound of this one but was a bit hesitant to pick it up because I wasn't the biggest fan of this authors previous book The Wrath and the Dawn but I'm so glad I decided to give this book a go because I absolutely loved it! I posted a review for this one so if you'd like to find out more do check that out here.

Half way through the month I found myself in a bit of a reading slump and fancied reading something light and enjoyable. I'd been hearing good things about Paige Toon's latest The Last Piece of My Heart so when I spotted a copy going for cheap in Tesco I decided to pick it up and read it right there and then. This book completely swept me away, I was so invested in the main character Bridget and her journey. I absolutely loved the romance and even had a little cry over the ending. Like Renée Ahdieh, Paige Toon's books can be a bit hit or miss for me but this turned out to be my favourite Paige Toon novel to date! This months reading has definitely shown me that sometimes giving an author a second chance can really pay off.

Favourite to Listen to


Recently I've been really loving the new single from Hailee Steinfeld Most Girls. Hailee's music is so fresh carrying a really strong feminist message and Most Girls is no different. It's a song that confronts the backhanded "you're not like most girls" compliment and celebrates different kinds of girls and how they choose to express themselves. The music video for this is fab and I'd definitely recommend giving it a watch if you haven't seen it!

Favourite to Watch

As I type this only the pilot episode has aired so far in the UK but it was so good that it had to make my favourites post. So, can we just talk about The Handmaid's Tale for a second!? I have yet to read the book (more on that in a future blog post) but I'd heard enough about it to know that it's a dark, harrowing look at a near-future where women lose their rights and become walking wombs for rich and powerful men, yet nothing could prepare me for how relevant this show is to things that have and are currently happening in the world at the moment. Sitting here writing this, the scene where one of the handmaids has been raped immediately comes to mind. She's sat in the middle of the room, closed in a circle by her fellow handmaids, who are pointing at her and chanting "her fault" that scene gives me goosebumps to think about and brings to mind what goes on in our own courthouses today. I have a feeling that The Handmaid's Tale will be one of the most important, most talked about shows of the year and I already can't wait for the next episode.

Favourite Online


Don't you just love when you find a new favourite YouTuber and you spend a whole weekend getting caught up on their entire backlog of videos? So that's basically what I did one weekend with YouTuber Kendall Rae when I fell down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole on Youtube. Kendall produces some of the most interesting, well researched content that I have ever watched on YouTube and covers everything from conspiracy theories, to murder mysteries, to body confidence videos, to astrology. Since watching her channel I now believe in so many things that I didn't this time last month so if like me, you are fascinated by the unexplainable I would definitely recommend checking out her content - just be warned that once you start you won't be able to stop! I've shared one of my favourite videos from her to get you started. You're welcome.

 Favourite Thing

From my Instagram JessHeartsBooks

My favourite thing in May has to be Bookstagram! At the moment I love nothing more than creating pictures of the beautiful books I get in whether that's by creating a set or playing around with filters and editing. Sometimes if my mental health is bad I can find social media pretty stressful but Bookstagram is my happy place where I can step away from online conversations and get lost in a world of pretty books. I think that Bookstagram is such a fun and creative way to share what you are reading and I love scrolling through the hashtag on Instagram to become inspired and look for new ways to improve my own content. I'm getting close to 1,000 followers so I'd really appreciate if you could give me a follow over there at JessHeartsBooks if you'd like to see more bookish posts from me!

Favourite Memory

Photo credit to RayReadsaLot

Early last month Ray, Chelle, Faye and I had a Girlhood reading party where we sat around with snacks, Chinese takeaway and the new Cat Clarke book for an entire Saturday reading out loud to each other and chatting. Our reading parties are always one of my favourite things that we do together as a group and this one was particularly fun because we were all reading the same book. Girlhood is a book that heavily focuses on female friendships so it was a really great choice for a group of friends to read together. We're talking about hosting another reading party in June and I already can't wait!

What were some of your favourite things in May?

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