Tuesday, 31 October 2017

#ScarecrowBook Trick or Treat


Well, as I am not a huge fan of Halloween (yes, I know. Am a strange blogger!), I am excited to give you a treat and be the last stop on the #ScarecrowBook Blog Tour! And am a little creeped out to welcome Danny Weston onto the blog.

Danny has written several creepy stories - The Piper, Mr Sparks, The Haunting of Jessop Rise and his newest (hence the tour!), The Scarecrow.

Jack's dad turned whistleblower about several very powerful people and their illegal dealings and now both are on the run, fearing for their lives. While laying low in a remote hunting cabin in Scottish Highlands, Jack notices a scarecrow outside and when he notices something incredible, Jack realises that this scarecrow isn't a normal scarecrow. It's alive, hungry and full of unspeakable rage. So when things turn dark, the scarecrow might turn out to be Jack's best chance of survival...

I am thrilled to have Danny on here, and I want to thank him for writing this post for the tour! And I want to thank Harriet from Andersen Press for allowing me to be involved in this tour!

Now, I will hand it over to Danny!

Monday, 30 October 2017

Friendships in the Not Yet Darkness...

It's Halloween tomorrow and, to get your creep on, I am thrilled to have Simon P. Clark on the Pewter Wolf to talk about his latest novel, Not Yet Dark.

Not Yet Dark follows Danny and Philippa, who have been friends for years. And yet, things are changing between them. Danny has new friends - the rugby boys - when rumours and whispers of "Phil the Thrill" begin to follow Philippa around, she knows where they came from.

When, one night, Philippa goes to an abandoned house by the sea to clear her head, not only does she discover the Danny secretly followed her, but something is happening in the house. Something dark. When the two escape, Philippa and Danny discover that two children are following them. Two children that claim not to be human. But, if they are not human, what are they? And what do they want?

I met Simon briefly at the launch party of David Owen's The Fallen Children earlier this year, so am thrilled that Simon wrote this and I can share with you guys! (if you haven't met him, he's super nice!)

But before I hand you over to Simon and his guest post about friendships in Not Yet Dark (now you see why I called the blog post what I did - I know, bad pun alert!), I just want to thank Simon for writing this (and so quickly! I've been sitting on this post for a few weeks because I wanted this for this week!). And I also want to thank Stephanie from Atom for setting this up!

And now, over to you, Simon!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Book Review - Grave Matter

As you guys know, I was away the past two weeks on holiday/blog holiday. So when I came home from the Lake District and getting ready for the second week of holidaying, I got this book through my letterbox and got excited. A creepy/ghosty story by Juno Dawson and it has illustrations by Alex T Smith. Sign me up to put down Dan Brown for an hour so I can read this!

Since the crash, Samuel is lost. Eliza is dead and he wants her back. Overwhelmed by his grief and his need to see her again, Samuel remembers his Aunt Marie and her healing powers. But remembering this takes him down a dark path of Hoodoo and making a pact with the Milk Man. A pact he might live to regret...

I'm going to admit something to you guys right now: I'm not sure how I feel about it. Am torn over my feelings.

On the one hand, this is a fast, addictive read. I read this in practically one sitting. I couldn't put this down. I liked that this book tried to tackle issues such as grief and, very VERY briefly, feminism. I like that this written and laid out in a dyslexia-friendly way. I liked the illustrations by Alex T Smith, which added something extra to the story.

And yet... And yet, I can't help but feel a tiny bit disappointed. It just wasn't creepy enough for my tastes. I know, I am a huge wuss so me saying that is a bit of a contradiction, but bear with! I have read Juno's other works and I know she can crank up the creepy factor. But with this, we had hoodoo and the dead so I expected something to creep me out or gasp, but it never came. It felt like it always just missed being creepy and spine-tingling. Maybe it's because I was expected so much from a 140-ish page novella and it was never going to deliver - maybe reading Juno's other works have spoilt me a little...

While this wasn't creepy enough for me, I hoovered this book and I expect several of you will devour this on dark, snowy, moonless nights....

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Christmas At Woolworths Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the Christmas At Woolworths blog tour! And I have a tiny Q&A with the author, Elaine Everest!

Christmas At Woolworths is the second novel in the series (though we do have a eNovella set just before Christmas, Carols at Woolworths) went we follow Sarah, Maisie and Freda. The friends bonded together while working at Woolworths and try and bring Christmas cheer to their customers during the dark days of the Second World War.

But as Christmas creeps closer, and their loved ones on the front lines, can their friendship survive the war?

Before I hand it over to the questions and answers, I just want to thank Elaine for taking time out to answer these questions and to Faye for organising this tour (and allowing me to tag along!). Now, with that out of the way, who's ready to get into the holiday spirit...?

Friday, 27 October 2017

Book Review - The Fate of the Tearling

I did it! I read the whole Tearling trilogy! And I read and finished the third and final book in the series before I went on my holiday! HOORAY!!! And it took me just over 2 weeks to read (compared to however long the audiobook of Queen of the Tearling took me and two months for Invasion of the Tearling).

So, here we are. The third and final book in the trilogy and the one most book bloggers who have read this were going "NO! Don't do it, Andrew! It's a trap!" over...

It's been less than a year since Kelsea took the Tearling throne and already, she has become a powerful Queen. But with power comes danger and enemies, one of which is the Red Queen who, in the last book (Invasion) was on the verge of invading and easily conquering the Tearling until Kelsea made a huge sacrifice - she offered herself and her magical sapphires to the Red Queen to save the Tearling, leaving the head of her Guard, the Mace, as Regent till her hopeful return.

But the Mace isn't going to sit back and wait. He's going to rescue Kelsea and nothing will stop him...

And all the while, an enemy is slowly growing in power. An enemy that scare the Red Queen, and an enemy Kelsea has unleash onto the world. And this enemy isn't going to rest till it gets what it has long desired...

The fate of the Tearling is now on the line... and not everyone is going to be around to see the final outcome...

Ok, dear readers. I have to admit this: this is a strong fantasy trilogy and I am really surprised on the writing, the world development, the magic and the complexity of the characters. This is a strong, solid adult fantasy trilogy that just work.

And yet, I completely get why I was told to avoid this book. It doesn't reach the same heights of Queen of the Tearling (out of the three books, I feel that the first, Queen of the Tearling, was this trilogy's strongest) and it either just on par or below my feelings of Invasion of the Tearling. And it's mainly because of the ending...

For three quarters of the book, this was solid! It felt stronger than Invasion and I was impressed on what this book was showing. But the last 20-ish percent of the book - oh boy. It's an ending you are going to love or hate. I am very much on the "meh" side - right in the middle. I saw it coming and went "Oh no... no, really? You want to go down this route? I hate this troupe so why are you doing this?" so had time to brace myself. And while I understand why this was the direction the series took (and it shouldn't be much of a shock for us - there were clues from Queen and it got more clue heavy in Invasion), I get everyone reaction of "This is a cop-out ending" because it is. It's a cheap "Get Out of Jail Free Card" trick that most readers don't like, because it really undermines the whole story.

I like this trilogy and I will be intrigued to see what Erika Johansen writes next. But the last 20-odd percent of Fate of the Tearling is going to be the thing that defines most readers thoughts on the series. But this series and this ending - you are either going to love it or loathe it.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

RSM - Am Back!

Am back from my holiday and my blog holiday! Did you miss me?

Well, it's so nice to have a few weeks off work/real life/blog life and just chill out. I went travelling (I will put a pic of where I went on Instagram in the coming few days once I got my work groove back (this week, they doing shifts and am working 6am till 2pm. meaning am awake at 5 and walking to work at half 5...).

ANYWAY, I thought to celebrate me coming back to the blog world (and me VERY SLOWLY AND VERY LEISURELY reading La Belle Sauvage), I thought I would put some songs up that my other half and I had on our holiday driving playlist as we have quite different taste in music.

So, sit back and relax/dance and see you tomorrow for my first "true" post back!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

RSM - A Break


Which means, for a little while, am going to go on a blog break. Nothing hugely. Maybe two weeks, maybe longer...

It's not a big deal. I will be in the country for the next few days so will be tweeting/Instagraming like normal. Plus, with October being a month where am focusing on quite a few meaty books (Fate of the Tearling, Origin, La Belle Sauvage, etc), so a blog break might do me some good as I won't (in theory) worry about getting reviews up.

When I come back from my break and have got myself more in control of blog posts and ideas, will shout at you. But am off on my hols now so I'll see you all when I get back. Stay safe, stay happy and I will see your faces all real soon!!!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Quieter Than Killing Blog Tour Stop

Why, hello and welcome to my stop of the Quieter Than Killing blog tour. As you guys know, I enjoy reading a good crime novel and am always on the hunt to discover new authors in the genre. So, when this blog tour came on my radar, I couldn't resist.

Quieter Than Killing is the fourth DI Marnie Rome series where she and her partner, Noah, are investigating a series of random assaults. But they're not random as they first appear as all the victims have been convicted of violent crimes and have just been released. But as they investigate further, outside dramas effect them both: Marnie's parents' home has been targeted by a gang of youths and her tenants have been attacked in an apparent robbery and Marnie can't help but feel that there's a connection between what happening and  her foster brother, Stephen. All the while, Noah's brother might be involved in gang, though he claims that he isn't.

As Marnie and Noah investigate the three cases, they can't help but wonder whether the cases are connected in some way. Because some crimes are much quieter and more insidious than killing... and if this true, they all better be careful...

Doesn't that sound tense and creepy?! Right up my street for crime! I can't wait for it to get darker and sink my teeth into this!

But that's not what this stop is about. I am very lucky to have Sarah Hilary talking about some chilling Autumn reads, books that will give you a shiver (and not just because of the turning weather!).

So, before I hand it over to Sarah, I must thank her for finding time to write this tiny post (and I blame her for me looking up one or two of her titles and go "That sounds good...") and I want to thank Katie at Headline/BookBridgr for allowing me to pop on this!

Now, are we sitting comfortably? ... good. Then Sarah will begin...

Friday, 6 October 2017

A Shiver of Snow and Sky Extract & Giveaway!

SURPRISE!!! This is my day on the A Shiver of Snow and Sky blog tour! And I have a double-whammy for you all!

For those curious, A Shiver of Snow and Sky is set on the island of Skane where the sky speaks. Beautiful, colourful lights fill the sky, relaying a message from the Goddess. Green means all is well, blue means a snow storm is coming and red... red is rare and it's a warning... 

And the last time the sky turned red, it was seventeen years ago, Ósa was just born and a disease went through her village, killing hundreds of villagers, including her mother. Now Ósa is determined to figure out how to stop the onslaught before it destroys her village... 

Now I have wetted your appetite, I'm going to tease you with an extract from the story and, if that grabs your attention, I have a small contest for you to enter (if you want to enter, all the details will be on the Google Form so check that before you enter, ok?). All the details for the contest is on the form so read before you enter.

With all that out of the way, ONTO THE EXTRACT AND THE CONTEST!!!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

BBC National Short Story Award & BBC Young Writers Award 2017

Or, if you fancy a subtitle, "A Boob At the Beeb" (You can blame @gavreads for that and all will be revealed in the next few paragraphs).

As you know, I have been blogging/tweeting about the BBC Young Writers Awards in the past few weeks and, because of this, I was asked very kindly if I wanted to go to the award ceremony for the BBC Young Writers Awards and the BBC National Short Story Award 2017. I jumped at the chance! I mean, it's the BBC! And I love stories - and I love any excuse to book a half day off work to come to London to celebrate stories! (Booked today off as can write this and one other blog post up)! Plus, the idea of discovering new authors I have never heard of before was delicious!

So, yesterday, after panicking about train strikes (because I couldn't get my train app to work!), I made my way and, after getting off a tube stop two stops earlier than I needed to (was power-reading Fate of the Tearling and thought I had missed my stop!), I found the BBC.

It's an odd feeling as the BBC is a huge thing. We all use the BBC in one form or other (TV, radio, internet, app, podcast, etc) so to be there was a surreal moment. And exciting! I saw the window into the One Show studios opposite a coffee shop where I bought coffee and cake. Only to have the plastic fork snap and the cake go splat on the floor.

I dropped cake outside of the BBC! I DROPPED CAKE OUTSIDE THE BBC! It can't get worse than that on my first visit, I thought to myself as I went into receptionist to find where I was going.

How very wrong I was.

After I was pointed in right direction and did quick security check, had to put my bag and hoodie into coat-locker. Which is fine. So, I took off my hoodie. And my T-shirt decided that it loved my hoodie too much and didn't want to be parted from its lover. When I realised what was happening, my naked stomach and a good chuck of my chest were on show. I FLASHED MY MALE BOOBS TO SEVERAL SECURITY GUARDS AT THE BBC! OH! MY!! GOD!!!

Am never going to be invited back. Ever.

Moving quickly away from that! After that, I chatted to the lovely ladies at ED PR (Emma, Frances and Annabelle) who invited me to the event and an editor at Fleet Books (who's name has gone completely out of my head as I am useless with names! Sorry! And sorry for grilling you about your job - I went a bit OTT on the question front!).

And after discovering there were more people there I knew than I first realised, we had to be whisked into the BBC Radio Theatre where the winners to both the BBC National Short Story Awards and BBC Young Writers Award were going to be announced live on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. (Yes, dear reader, it was announced on Radio 4 so I had to pretend to be smart!). And after a quick speech from three editors at the BBC (I have forgotten one name already [sorry], but we had Di Speirs [Editor of Books] and Aled Haydn Jones [Radio 1's Head of Programmes]), we had the host of Front Row, chat to us and then, we were on the air!

For those of you who want to listen to the show, check out the show here or download the podcast here (it's the National Short Story Awards 2017 episode you want)!

Both winners were announced live on the radio. The winner of the National Short Story Awards 2017 was Cynan Jones's The Edge of the Shoal and the Young Writer's Award winner was Elizabeth Ryder with The Roses. Now, I haven't read/heard any of the stories on the National Short Story shortlist yet (you can read them in the small collection, published by Comma Press or listen to the them via the BBC's new Short Stories podcast), but I have spent most of this morning reading all five entries of the BBC Young Writers Awards 2017 (all are on the website!) and all are extraordinary, and I hope that all five will have literary agents before next year's awards...

After the show, most of us were thrown into the area where there was wine, a view of the BBC News area (Very open-planned. Very swish!) and I chatted books with people I knew [Hi Rosi, Nina and everyone!]. We chatted about the World Book Day list, books we have/haven't read recently (the reaction I got when I admitted I still haven't read The Hate U Give because the hype I built for it in my head was priceless!), and other odds and ends.

And after that, I went home. I know. A bit anti-climatic. But I had three glasses on wine on a semi-empty stomach so that made things interesting! But to everyone involved in last night's events and involved with both awards, thank you for a wonderful evening. I can't wait to see what you guys are going to do for next year's National Short Story Awards, Young Writers Awards and the new Student Critics Award...!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Through the Kindle TBR

I try not to look at my kindle TBR. I buy a lot of ebooks on my kindle - usually when they are on sale. And, as am in the mood for sharing/having you all gasp in horror and go "WHY HAVEN'T YOU READ THAT YET?!", I thought I would pick a few out at random and go "I have this on my kindle and one day... one day, I will read this!"

Oh, just to be clear, these are ebooks I have bought. None on this is my eProofs. I will reveal a few of those one day... maybe not yet though...

I have three of her books on my kindle - Poison Study, Touch of Power and Scent of Magic. I know, I know. I am a huge fantasy reader and, somehow, this author has gone by me. I was aware of her but it was only in the past few years that I have gone "Ok, I need to make an effort to read her as this author sounds right up my street". So, I got these... and I have never read them. Now, I have every intention to read them. I am thinking I will read either Poison Study or Touch of Power before the end of 2018. I'm not sure which, but I am aware I need to get my rear in gear on this author!

THE SEVEN KINGDOMS Trilogy by Kristin Cashore
I have all three books within this trilogy on my kindle. THEY WERE ON SALE AND I AM WEAK AND I STILL HAVEN'T READ THEM! But the hype! Oh, the hype, dear reader when this trilogy came out was scary. I love fantasy and this sounds perfect for me - very much in the same way that Maria V. Snyder (and Trudi Canavan - some of you mention her in passing). But the hype and the passion the fans have for this series scare me a little. I would like to read Graceling soon (very much like Poison Study and Touch of Power), but when I do, I want to read it with very low expectations. I don't want the hype to to lead me to a "It's ok, I guess" situation.

I swear, most of my kindle TBR isn't just fantasy. Honest! But fantasy and crime/thrillers are genres I go towards normally, hence my choices. But I saw the cover and hear the early buzz about this series and I was intrigued. Not sure now and heard that one or two books in the series aren't really needed, but I want to give this a try! Same goes with Crown of Midnight that is still sitting on my kindle, demanding I get into the Throne of Glass fandom.

HAVEMERCY by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
You can blame Stevie from SableCaught for this being here. She was the one who got me aware of this and a few Terry Pratchett books that are on my radar (but not on my kindle. One mission read at a time!). But a book about clockwork dragons with LGBT+ leads? SIGN ME UP!

Do I really need to go into this? *Picks two other titles on my kindle to distract*

U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton
Like I said earlier on, I like a bit of crime. And this book - along with another book in Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series (R is for Ricochet) - catch my eye. This title follows someone who claims he remembered a crime happening when he was six year old - a kidnapping. But is it a case of the boy who cried wolf or is there some truth to his memory?

I got this when there was a glitch on price on Amazon preorder. It's the whole series and everyone who I chat to when I mention I have this LOVES Diana Wynne Jones. Though I think everyone has read Howl's Moving Castle (I haven't and not sure I will - the movie's has excited/spoilt me a little). Plus, I think I have read one of these titles many, many years ago. I'm not sure and I can't remember the plot. Am such is was Witch Week, but until I sit down and start making my way through this collection, we will have to see...