Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Book Review - Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

My first "You Pick My Next Read" write-up. It's taken a while to post as I didn't want to overwhelm you all with a lot of blog posts. Plus, with me going on a small blog holiday over Easter and a few weeks in April, I want to pace myself and not do what I normally do to myself and turn my brain into a mental pretzel (work has been doing this to me a lot lately so I didn't want The Pewter Wolf to go the same way...)

So, my first vote at the beginning of the month and you picked Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Which I kinda wanted to read for past few months. I have been told since this book's release to read it as "You'll love it, Andrew!". But was a bit intimidated by the buzz round it. Bit like why I haven't read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, though I REALLY want to. It seemed like now I felt ready to try it, and with the movie coming out next month (and everyone loving it from what I have heard), I was really happy this won.

Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to figure his life out. He goes to school, has friends, has a cool family but has a secret - he's gay and doesn't know how to tell people. When someone leaves an anonymous message on the town's tumblr that they're gay, Simon starts to send anonymous to him and slowly, Simon begins to fall in love with the mysterious Blue.

But when one of his classmates finds the emails and begins to blackmail him, Simon has to find things out: who Blue is, a way to come out and to find out who is he and own it...

Before you say anything, yes, internet. You were right. I should have read this sooner. I should have. Because OH! MY! GOD!!!

If I had this when I was a teen, coming to terms with my own sexual identity, this would have been My Book. Yes, I had Harry Potter and Twilight and His Dark Materials, but this would have been My Book. I would have read and read this so many times and I think this would have, maybe, help me come to terms with myself sooner and been braver in owning my truth.

So yeah... I adore this book and I know I will be rereading this in the future. I adore Simon and fell instantly for him. I loved his friends, even when I felt like they were getting the raw end of the deal (Leah, am looking at you - but we're going to talk about you later). I loved reading his family. I loved the romantic which wasn't heavy handed. I liked the mystery element over who Blue was. I loved the humour, the writing - everything in this book worked.

Even Martin and the blackmail - which I loathed and hated, and if you read most of my Twitter feed, I was spitting venom over - I liked reading because it put a spotlight on this and I liked the fallout and how Martin reacted after realising the damage he caused. Which made me love Simon even more because of how he coped with the fallout.

If I have one tiny critique, it's that I wish there was a moment in the book where I could tell who was who. I kept getting muddled over if Simon had one sister or two (and who were they?) and if Leah and Nick (Simon's best friends) were related or not (they're not).

But, I love this book. I think Becky might be an author I will be binge reading/instant buy from now on. And with me having The Upside of Unrequited on my kindle and the "sequel" of Simon, Leah on the Offbeat (this is why I think Leah had a bit of a rough time as we have her story to come) out in May, a novel she co-wrote with Adam Silvera out later this year and the movie of Simon coming out next month (please don't suck!) and my intake of Oreos might increase (if you've read the book, you understand), my bank account is gonna hate me by the end of the year! So yes, am late to the party, but so glad am here now!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Shatter Me Contest!

CONTEST TIME!!! And it's a good'un! I promise!

After years of hype and excitement in the US, a UK publisher - Electric Monkey - finally picked up the rights to publish the Shatter Me series in the UK. And not only are we getting the trilogy, Tahereh Mafi is writing an extra three books within this world as TV studios write a TV pilot based on the world.

For those who aren't aware of this series, Shatter Me follows Juliette, a girl who has been held prisoner in a cell without human contact for over 200 days. Why? Because her touch is lethal. Anyone who touches her will fall red within seconds. If she wasn't a threat, she would be the perfect weapon. But something expected happens that no one sees coming...

A boy touches her. And he survived her touch...

The series follows her journey from there, continuing through Unravel Me and Ignite Me. The fourth book in the series, Restore Me, sees Juliette and those who survive thinking the war they fought in is over. How very wrong they are...

If that doesn't wet your appetite, here's a trailer to feast your eyes on...

Get it? Feast your eyes on... yeah, I'll see myself out...

Anyway, to celebrate the release of the series so far coming to UK bookshops, the lovely people at Electric Monkey have given me the series so far to give away! One lucky winner will win a copy of Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me & Restore Me

Ok, the boring info-dump time! For you to enter contest, fill in the form below. That's it. Nothing more than that. Although, heads up, this is a UK addresses only contest, and this contest will end on Thursday 22nd March 2018 at 7pm. The winner will be chosen at random via random.org and will be announced on Twitter. Once done, will email the winner for details for the books can be posted to them as soon as the publisher can. 

With that out of the way, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Reading Some Kindle Samplers (Again)

Ok, I did this a few weeks ago and I kinda enjoyed doing it (here is my first attempt at this), and with still a stupid amount of Kindle Samples on my iPhone's Kindle App, I decided I wanted to do it again.

Basically, it's me reading the whole sample or a small section of the sample. Some are entire chapters, others are just a few pages due to the book's length. So was going to read them and go with my gut reactions to them.

So let's get the weird party started!

DOWN BY CONTACT by Santino Hassell
(Goodreads Link)
I read the first book in the series - Illegal Contact - last year via NetGalley and I gobbled this up. It came at the right time for me. It was light, fluffy, but there was an edge to it that I quite liked. So, when I saw this was on Amazon, I downloaded the sampler and read it, thinking it would be the same fun read I wanted. It was following a side character I liked reading in the previous and this promised angst. But... I don't know. I didn't finish reading the first chapter. Maybe it was my mood, but but I didn't click with this in the same way that I did with Illegal Contact. I can't figure out why, but I was reading it going "This isn't working. Why isn't this working for me?". So, as much as I wanted to enjoy and want to read this, am holding fire on this. Maybe skipping this due to what I read.

THE CAT WHO TAILED A THIEF by Lilian Jackson Braun
(Goodreads Link)
Now, I have read a few books in the series in my past. I have, before I started this blog, read The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare and The Cat Who Talked Turkey and I have read (and reviewed) The Cat Who Saw Red. I do have another title in the series that I bought when the series went through a sale - The Cat Who Went Underground. But, the prices of all these ahem gone up to £3 barring this title and it intrigues me. Sadly, I didn't make it through the sampler. Not because it was bad, but because I didn't enjoy it in the way I hoped I would. I feel that the bit I read felt a bit stiff in language. Maybe it's because I want something to grab me by the throat recently (am going through a fantasy slump at time of writing this) and this is more Sunday afternoon cosy crime. It doesn't appeal to my mood now, though I know I will be reading The Cat Who Went Underground by the end of the year...

GROOSHAM GRANGE by Anthony Horowitz
(Goodreads Link)
People at my new job (how long can I call my current job "new"? Six months?) know I have a blog (hence why I have some control over work's social media) and someone said "I read this years ago when I was younger and you might like it". It is Anthony Horowitz and I do enjoy reading the Alex Rider series (I read Never Say Die last year and I am quite excited to see what he does with James Bond in Forever and A Day) so I knew I was going to like it. And I did, as something light and fluffy. It's not exactly for me (maybe if I was younger, I would hoover this up) but this is fun and can read within a day, but might try and return to Alex Rider and maybe try The Power of Five series...

(Goodreads Link)
I can't remember how I came across - Twitter, me thinks. But once I heard a few sentence from the blurb, I knew I was sold on this book. An asexual black teen trying to figure out life - sign me up! So, when I saw this on Amazon by fluke (it doesn't have a UK publisher, to my knowledge), I downloaded it and read while feeling super tired. I gobbled this sampler up in one sitting. I couldn't stop and when it ended, I was a little annoyed as I wanted more. I didn't want this to end. I am currently trying to find out who is publishing this in the UK as I WANT THIS BOOK ON MY SHELVES, DAMNIT!

(GoodReads Link)
This has bee getting a lot of love on the Book Blogosphere since it's release last year and I have been intrigued over this. When I finally read the sampler (this has been sitting on my iPhone Kindle app for quite a while). It didn't grabbed me like I hoped, not compared to Let's Talk About Love. But there is potential here. I can definitely sense this is something I will enjoy reading, but the start is a tad slow. But I think this might be a book I could love once I found my reading groove.

So, out of the five, which are the ones that call to me. Well, definitely Let's Talk About Love and I think, once I have my reading groove, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. But, with so many books on my TBR, not sure when am going to read them... or buy them for that matter.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Audiobook Review - The Book of Life

Just when you thought I wouldn't be finishing this trilogy before I go on my blog break in early April (I will be talking more about that later this month so hold your horses there), I did it! I FINISHED THIS TRILOGY!!!

Ok, quick history lesson time (again). I first audiobooked the first book in the All Souls trilogy back in 2011 and, while I did like A Discovery of Witches, I decided that I wasn't going to rush into audiobooking the rest of the trilogy, just because. Fast forward to last year and, because I was going through a bit of an audiobook binge, I decided to relisten to A Discovery of Witches and while I think I enjoyed it more the second time round, I wasn't going to rush into reading/audiobooking the rest of the trilogy. There was no rush, but I knew I wanted to. Jump forward a few months later and I bought (due to a hiccup with my Audible credit), both Shadow of Night and Book of Life. Last month, I blitz listening to Shadow of Night and went "Ok, I need a small break before I start Book of Life." ... I didn't even last 24 hours!

So here we are with the third and final book in the All Souls trilogy. Now, seeing as this is the final book in the trilogy, there is a lot of spoilers so sorry if I let something slip. But after the events of Shadow of Night, witch Diana and vampire Matthew time travel back to the present from Elizabethan London, to be reunited with family, friends and loved-ones - barring one heartbreaking exception. But before either can given, they have to deal with crises old and new, the two must from the missing pages of Ashmole 782 and the book itself. But with enemies coming at them from all sides - via politics and revenge - can Diana and Matthew's forbidden love for each other survive...?

I have to admit this that, while I do have problems with this series, I had a really good time getting sucked into the story and this audiobook was no exception. It has the same things I like about it that I do with the Queen of the Tearling trilogy. It was deep, rich with detail, complex and a joy to listen to. I liked returning to these characters and them trying to figure out what they were going to do and how. There's something about this series I thoroughly enjoy.

I was surprised how much I like how the story was broken down. Most of the time, Diana was telling the story but, every now and then, we had a break and the story was told in third people, following Matthew for one reason or another. It made sense to do this and this is something Deborah did in Shadow of Night. 

I did listen the reader of all three audiobooks in the series - Jennifer Ikeda - though the one time my Other Half heard it, he did go "What the hell is that?!". But I think because she had stayed within the whole trilogy, I was used to her and liked how she read it.

I do have problems - don't I always? It seems to come under one thing which is something I have mentioned in every write-up I've written for this trilogy and that is detail. These books are quite long and there's a lot of detail. At times, it can be too much and I wonder on if some details were removed, would it effect the story that much?

Another thing I was a bit "Oh" over. And that was Benjamin. I know he appeared, very very briefly, in Shadow of Night, but it was a blink and you missed it. So when it's revealed how involved he is within the whole trilogy, it's a bit of a bolt from the blue and I wished there was more clues to hint at his importance.

So, with the TV series coming to Sky One coming out at the end of the year and the companion novel - Time's Convert - following Matthew's son, Marcus, and his human fiancee, Phoebe, it's going to be interesting to see what happens next. Am pretty certain I am going to be reading Time's Convert and I kinda hope Deborah does write more companion novels on other characters within this world (I would love there be the novels about Galloglass, Ysabeau and Phillipe, and Fernando).

While this trilogy isn't exactly perfect, I had a great time listening to the three audiobooks and and am intrigued to see what Deborah Harkness does next...

Friday, 9 March 2018

YAShot 2018 - Captive In Your Light

I am thrilled to be today's stop on this year's chock-ful YAShot, and I'm really excited to welcome Annalie Grainger on the blog.

Annalie is the author of two YA thrillers, Captive and Into the Light. Captive follows Robyn, daughter of one of the master powerful men in the world, and what happens to her when she gets kidnapped. And Into The Light, Annalie's upcoming release (3rd May and you can follow the drama on social media under the hashtag #InYourLight), follows Lil who is desperate to find her missing sister, but when she crosses path with Alice, a young woman desperate to escape the seemingly peaceful community, Lil can't help but wonder if Alice knows what happened to her sister? And she can't help but wonder why Alice is so frightened...

I am quite excited over this post as it's a little different for me. As myself and the lovely Eve were chatting about ideas for YAShot, I mentioned an idea similar to "8 Questions in 8 Minutes", and something just clicked with us both. While the idea has changed slightly, we wanted to keep the idea as much as we can.

So, to everyone at YAShot, Annalie and Eve, thank you so much for all your help, ideas and just being your wonderful selves! I know how busy you all are at the moment so you all having times to deal with me is awesome so thank you.

Now, before I hand you all over to my questions and Annalie's answers, just gonna give you all the links to go if you want to find out more details about the lovely author and this lovely event! You can check out Annalie's website at ajgrainger.com & her twitter is @_AJGrainger, and if you want to check out YAShot, their website is yashot.com and their twitter is @yashortmediateam.

Now, onto past me and Annalie.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Witch's Blood - How To Build A Fantasy World

I am thrilled and honoured to be involved with the Witch's Blood blog tour, and to have Katharine and Elizabeth Corr back on the blog. They are a hoot and a half on Twitter so to have them back is a delight!

I did hope to have Witch's Blood read by now but real life has thrown me through a reading loop "ARGH!" so I haven't read the third and final book at the moment. Actually, at the time of writing notes for how am going to introduce my stop, I am halfway through Witch's Tears and basically am trying very hard not to tweet Katharine and Elizabeth with the words "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY POOR BABIES?!"

But I won't. So, without trying to spoil myself, all I can say is: how far will Merry go with her magic to save someone she loves? And given the chaos she and the people around her created, what will she have to sacrifice to set things right?

Before I hand it over to Katharine and Elizabeth, two quick things: First, if you want to check out Elizabeth and Katharine on Twitter (and why wouldn't you?), check them out at @lizcorr_writes@katharinecorr. And to them both, thank you both for including me in this tour!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Pick My Next Read Month

I must be an idiot to decide to do this but ha-ho!

I like doing polls on Twitter, asking you guys to pick my next read. And you guys have excellent taste. So, earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to do again. But more. I wanted to do a month's worth.

So, after I made that decision and did the poll you see above (and was really glad you guys chose March), I get plotting over what books am going to pick, style, genre, age range, etc. Then went "Sod it!" and am going to go by the seam of my pants and just pick books for polls that will make me smile.

Hopefully, this month's reading is going to be exciting, fun and full of goodness. There might be one book I have to read no matter what (my buddy read had to be pushed back a month. Our timing's basically suck!) so this might carry over a few weeks into April (though I have said am reading something at the start of April due to possible holiday).

But, to get me started, I did a poll last week on which book that gonna kickstart this month. And it came down to these four...

Now, am writing this post a week ahead of myself so (at time of writing), I have no idea who's gonna win and who am going to read but I can not wait!