Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Author Guest Post from Sarah Naughton

Hello! Today I have an awesome blog post from the author of The Hanged Man Rises, Sarah Naughton, talking about ghosts! Do you believe in ghosts, and can you still be scared of things you don't believe in?

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The Hanged Man RisesWhen their parents are killed in a fire, Titus Adams and his little sister Hannah are left to fend for themselves in the cruel and squalid slums of Victorian London. Taking shelter with his friend and saviour, Inspector Pilbury, Titus should feel safe. But though the inspector has just caught and hung a notorious child-murderer, the murders haven't stopped. Now everyone is a suspect, even the inspector himself, and unless Titus can find a way to end the killings, he will lose all that is dear to him.
For this evil cannot be contained, even by death.


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The Hanged Man Rises is my first book and it’s about two of my favourite things: London and ghosts. 
London’s an old city and it has a lot of ghosts: you’re walking their streets, travelling on their tube trains, meeting in their inns: you can feel them swishing past you down Regent Street in their crinolines, hear them shouting to one another in the echoing halls of Smithfield market, imagine the black feet of the slum children pattering through the alleys of the old city.
But that’s metaphorical ghosts.
When it comes to real ones, I’m a total skeptic.
Even though my house bangs and creaks, and whispers and little feet go scampering up and down stairs when the kids are at school.  Even when things go missing and then reappear in the place I’ve looked 50 times.  Even though my friend sees the former, dead, occupant of her house still sitting in the armchair in the corner.  I still don’t believe.
Because as Derren Brown will tell you, everything has a rational explanation. 
Researching the book I read about all the tricks of the trade that bogus mediums (i.e. all mediums) used in the Victorian era, from secret trapdoors to fake hands that could be used in séances so that no-one would know the circle had been broken.  It was pretty disappointing because, you see, I really want to believe.
I’d love it if my granddad (who I based Titus on) was still puffing away on his cigar on my sofa.  There are things I wish I’d said to people, other things I wish I could take back.  I’d like to come back myself at some point (in the very distant future) and stamp muddy footprints over my kids’ carpet or leave Lego where its certain to cripple them as they get out of bed.  If spirits walk because they have unfinished business, then I’m going to make damn sure that when my time comes I haven’t completed my tax return or I’ve left the iron on.  Just in case.
But somebody once said that you don’t have to believe in ghosts to be scared of them.  And I do love being scared of them.  I immerse myself in ghost stories and horror films.  I must have seen The Exorcist twenty times (each time with my fingers in my ears and my eyes squeezed shut), and one of my favourite books is Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, which terrified me so much I couldn’t stay in the house on my own.
I really hope The Hanged Man Rises scares you, because I’m guessing if you picked it up then, like me, you want to be scared.
But when you put it down, turn off your bedside light and scrunch down into your duvet, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that the creaking of the stairs is just the wood expanding, the tapping in the attic is just the water-pipes, and that shadow in the doorway is just your dressing gown hanging on the hook. 
Because ghosts really don’t exist, do they?  I mean, come on…
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Huge thanks to Sarah for that! So, do you or don't you believe in ghosts? Do you like to scare yourself too? I love watching scary movies, but only as long as I've got a cushion by my side to hide behind! Let us know in the comments, we'd love to hear your thoughts.

Have you read The Hanged Man Rises, or would you like to? It's really really good, I definitely recommend that you do! My review will be posted here on the blog soon, and you can buy yourself a copy of the book from these places:

Book Review: The Hanged Man Rises by Sarah Naughton

The Hanged Man RisesTitle: The Hanged Man Rises
Author: Sarah Naughton
Series: Standalone
Pages: 234
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
Date of Publication: 28th February 2013
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: When their parents are killed in a fire, Titus Adams and his little sister Hannah are left to fend for themselves in the cruel and squalid slums of Victorian London. Taking shelter with his friend and saviour, Inspector Pilbury, Titus should feel safe. But though the inspector has just caught and hung a notorious child-murderer, the murders haven't stopped. Now everyone is a suspect, even the inspector himself, and unless Titus can find a way to end the killings, he will lose all that is dear to him.
For this evil cannot be contained, even by death.


My Thoughts:
I haven't read a historical book for a while, so I was really excited to get started with The Hanged Man Rises, and it was great to read something different. It was a quick, fun read that I would definitely recommend!

The book is set in Victorian London, and I really enjoyed reading about lots of the different aspects of it. There was Titus, Stitcher and Charly, who were street urchins, and then all the inspectors and policemen at the police station, and also Lilly Kent, a medium. They all had very different roles and lifestyles but were all really interesting to read about and I haven't really done very much at school about the Victorians ever really so it was awesome to get to learn a little bit about how they would have lived, even if it was through fiction.

The plot was really great. Although at only 234 pages the book was very short, at no point did the book feel rushed or empty, like not a lot happened. There were plenty of twists and unexpected turns of events that kept me guessing, and while it was a little predictable, it didn't matter because the writing was really good and it kept the story interesting. The Hanged Man Rises also has a supernatural element which I wasn't expecting but really liked. It was written into the plot extremely well and even though I don't believe in ghosts or witchcraft or anything like that, I didn't have a problem investing myself in the story and there were even times when it got a little bit creepy.

I liked the characters too. While I think a couple of them could have been fleshed out a little more, I think that the main characters in the book were very strong. I really liked Titus- I thought his fierce loyalty and care for his sister was admirable, and I loved his determination to find whoever was killing the children, despite only being a child himself. Stitcher, Inspector Pilbury and the creepy old lady whose name I have forgotten (I'm sorry!) were all super awesome as well.

While probably more suited to the younger reader, The Hanged Man Rises would be great for all fans of historical young adult fiction, and especially if you like it with a little supernatural twist. It's great if you're looking for something a little bit different that's quick and easy to read and I would definitely recommend it!

*Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel. 

Also, remember to check out this guest post from the author, where she talks about ghosts! It's really good, I promise! :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)Title: Scarlet 
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series:  The Lunar Chronicles, #2
Pages: 452
Publisher: Puffin
Date of Publication: 7th February 2013
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads:
This is not the fairytale you remember.

But it’s one you won’t forget.

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner...


My Thoughts:
I wasn't sure if I would like Cinder, back when I read it last summer. To my surprise, I absolutely loved it so I was super excited to read Scarlet, the sequel/companion. And although it took me over two weeks to read, I really enjoyed it and again am really looking forward to reading the next one. I love the way that Marissa Meyer retells some very well-known fairy tales in a completely unique, sci-fi/fantasy kind of way. With cyborgs. It's awesome.

As each book in The Lunar Chronicles is about a different character, and they don't all follow Cinder, I wasn't expecting her to have that big a part in the story. I was totally wrong, and Cinder's in it a lot, which I loved because she's really great. I really liked reading about her escape from her prison and being a fugitive - it was all very exciting! I was also really happy to see Iko back, even though she wasn't quite the same as she was before... You'll see what I mean when you read it!

Scarlet, however, funnily enough, is the story of a girl called Scarlet. I liked reading about her and Wolf, her companion I guess, but I did at times find myself wondering about Cinder was doing while reading Scarlet's story. I liked her enough, but gah I really felt like her relationship with Wolf was just instalove. I'm going to try and not spoil here, but seriously, as if he would give up everything he's been brought up to believe and the way he's been taught to act just for some girl he met a couple of days before... I'm sorry. It just annoyed me, but I guess I could overlook it because Wolf was pretty awesome while protecting Scarlet later on. So, you know, you win some, you lose some.

I loved the plot. I adore the way Marissa writes, it's so captivating and easy to read! I probably could have sat for hours and read the whole thing at once had my stupid life not got in the way. For the most part, Scarlet and Cinder's stories were told separately, and then they came together perfectly at the end. Marissa Meyer is such a brilliant storyteller! There were also a few chapters of Emperor Kai's story too, which was awesome because it was great to see how he was getting on since the last book. It was so cute to see he still cares for Cinder. I love him a little bit, I think...

Overall, I really enjoyed Scarlet. While I didn't think it was as good as the first one, and it took me such a long time to read, the writing is still awesome and the characters are still fantastic so I can overlook the minor issues I had with it (that you probably wouldn't) and say that it's well worth reading. If you've not read the first book yet, I cannot recommend it enough! Marissa's fairy tale retellings in a world of cyborgs and lunar people are so fast-paced and exciting that I'm sure you will love them, even if they don't sound like your cup of tea. I didn't think I'd like them even a little bit, and now I love them. So, so worth the read.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Happily Ever Endings: The Killables by Gemma Malley



Happily Ever Endings... was born out of sheer frustration. You know how when you read a series and you love it but the last book takes a little while to come out and then you sort of forget parts of the novel? That's what these posts are going to serve to remedy. Happily Ever Ending... is a short post about what happened at the ending of each book that is going to be in a series for people who need a quick reminder of what happened in the previous installment. It's really annoying when you can't remember what happens and don't have time for a reread, so this hopefully will be a huge help!
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The Killables (The Killables, #1)Synopsis from Goodreads: Everyone accepted that people were different physically. But inside? Inside, they were different too. You just had to know how to tell, what to look for. Evil has been eradicated. The City has been established. And citizens may only enter after having the 'evil' part of their brain removed. They are labelled on the System according to how 'good' they are. If they show signs of the evil emerging, they are labelled a K ...But no one knows quite what that means. Only that they disappear, never to be seen again ...
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Happily Ever Ending: After Raffy and Evie escape the City with the help of Raffy's brother, Lucas, they are captured by Linus and his friends. They turn out to be against the City and its system, and have been working with Lucas for a very long time. Linus takes Evie and Raffy to their 'city' or Base Camp, where they are preparing to wage war on the City and the Brother. Evie learns that the Evils aren't actually evil, they are just experiments gone wrong. She then finds out that she was adopted at three years old and her parents are fake - her real, biological parents are Evils.

Once Evie realises that the City is using the Evils as slaves, she decides to help Linus and the Base Camp attack the City and restore 'healthy' civilisation. The plan was to gather the damaged ones (the Evils) and let them loose into the City using the key Evie stole from her father at the beginning of the book. Then, while the police guard was focused on that decoy, Lucas would let them in at another gate so they could get it without being stopped. Then, Linus and Raffy would rewrite the code for the system to remove all labels, and Martha and Evie would change everyone's labels to As in case Linus and Raffy couldn't change the code.

However, somehow the Brother got wind of the plan and captured Lucas, which temporarily jeopardised the plan. Lucas however, managed to get Mr Bridges to let them in at the gate, and the plan went ahead, with a little detour to the hospital to free Lucas. Once Lucas was free, he went to the Brother and captured and imprisoned him. Meanwhile, Evie and Martha changed everyone to As and Raffy rewrote the system. However, Linus was nowhere to be found, so Lucas goes to find him. He goes to where the Brother was tied up and finds him gone. He then finds Linus and the Brother talking outside.

The others all follow Lucas and then the citizens of the City also arrive. Evie tells them about what's really going on and threatens to shoot the Brother dead. In the end, Lucas shoots him in the leg, allowing everyone to escape apart from Linus. Lucas stays behind too, to get Linus out and make sure the new system works and peace is restored to the city.

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I hope this helped! Now you're all set up to read the next one! If I've missed anything important or you think there's something wrong, let me know in the comments! I'm not all that good at these... ;) 

Monday, 4 February 2013

#TFIOSlive

Hey! So, on 3rd February 2013, I went to #TFIOSlive, which was John Green's UK tour to celebrate the release of The Fault In Our Stars in the UK. It was awesome, as expected, and I just thought I'd do a quick write-up!


My seat was in the gallery, so I had a pretty good view of everything that went on on the stage. It started with John Green introducing The Fault In Our Stars by telling us a little bit about it and how his work in a children's hospital inspired him, but it took years and years to make it into the story that it is today. He told us about a nerdfighter called Esther Earl, who, although the story isn't about her and Hazel isn't her, had a big influence on the way that he wrote the book. Then he read the first couple of pages of the book, before introducing his brother, Hank, to the stage.

Hank sang a couple of his songs, starting with Strange Charm. He sang a couple more, including Accio Deathly Hallows which was awesome because that was requested by a nerdfighter in the audience and he wasn't originally going to sing it, and it's one of my favourites so I was hoping he would. Then John came back out onto the stage to answer some questions that the audience got the opportunity to write down before the show started. I didn't write one because I couldn't think of any, but there were some really good ones! Some were about the book, some were about other things, and it was all really interesting. He then left the stage for Hank to sing some songs.

He sang the ice cream chords song/commentary, which was awesome (if you've not heard that one you should definitely look it up on YouTube here, it's fab) and also a song he wrote about The Fault In Our Stars which I've not heard before but definitely am looking forward to hearing again! Then John came out again and also introduced Maureen Johnson, who came out to ask some more of the audience's questions. They timed the questions, so that whoever was holding the microphone at the end of the time lost, and John won, meaning he had to hit Hank in the face as punishment (if either of them went over their allotted times, they had to be punished, like in their videos), and so that was fun to watch (that sounds horrid, but hey... :P ) 



Then, Hank played some more songs, including A Song About An Anglerfish, which I absolutely love, and John thanked us for coming and for reading and loving The Fault In Our Stars and we whooped and cheered and clapped and it was incredible. Then, the last thing was they came out for an encore, and as, when they first started making their videos, a lot of people confused them for The Proclaimers, they decided to sing 500 Miles and get all 900 nerdfighters in the concert hall to sing along. It was great fun, and I think I will forever have 'And I would walk 500 miles!' stuck in my head. It's so worth it though.

After the show there was an opportunity to meet the brothers and get our books signed, and as we were in the gallery we were very lucky to get to go first! It was very very quick as there were so many of us to get through, and there were no pictures and no dedications, but it was so awesome to get to meet them both, even if I was incredibly awkward and I couldn't say anything that was understandable... Still! I'm now a proud owner of signed and Hanklerfish-ed copies of a TFIOS hardback and a UK paperback, Let It Snow and An Abundance of Katherines. I also bought myself a tour t-shirt which is TFIOS blue (sort of) and super awesome. 


So yeah... That's it in a nutshell! It all flew by so quickly and it was so freaking awesome that I just want to do it all over again! I loved the songs, I loved the questions, I loved the signing,... All of it! I can't wait until they come back (which hopefully they will soon) because it was honestly the best event I've ever been to, bookish or otherwise. Amazing! Truly. If you've not read The Fault In Our Stars yet (seriously, why not?!) you can read my review here and you can (and definitely should) buy it from these places: 


Don't know who John and Hank Green are? *gasp* Anyway, they are the Vlogbrothers on YouTube, and John is the author of many YA books, including (obviously) The Fault In Our Stars, but also Looking For Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and he is also the co-writer of Let It Snow and Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Letterbox Love #3

Hello! Letterbox Love is hosted by Lynsey over at Narratively Speaking, and it showscases everything we've received in the last week. Mine's for a few weeks though, because I've been lazy, again :P Anyway, onto the books! (Also, really sorry it's really late! My camera wouldn't work and I've been out all day (more details at the bottom))



RECEIVED FOR REVIEW

Prodigy by Marie Lu
This is the sequel to Legend, which came out last year. I really enjoyed Legend, so I'm looking forward to reading this! Thanks to Penguin for this! Released.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Again, thanks to Penguin for this one! It's the sequel to Cinder, which is about cyborgs, and I read and loved it in the summer last year so I'm super excited to get to this one! Out February.

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
AHHH! Reading this one now and it's as awesome as ever. I LOVE Richelle Mead's YA books so much... Anyway, this is the third book in the Bloodlines series, which is a spin-off to the Vampire Academy series. I definitely recommend you read these books if you haven't already, they're brilliant! Thanks to Penguin again for this one! Release February.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
This is the second book from Jennifer E. Smith, and I really enjoyed her first one, The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight, so I'm definitely looking forward to giving this one a read! Thanks Headline! Released April.

In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
I've seen this on several other bloggers' Letterbox Loves and I loved the sound of it, so I cheekily requested a copy for myself. I can't wait - it sounds awesome! Thanks to Abrams and Chronicle for this one. Release April.

Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
SO EXCITED for this one! It's going to be awesome, I think! I loved Jenny Han's Summer series, and although I haven't read any of Siobhan Vivian's books, I've heard some great things about them! Thanks to Simon & Schuster! Released February.

Unremembered by Jessica Brody
I don't really know too much about this one but from the synopsis it sounded pretty good so I thought I'd request it and see what it was all about. I'm looking forward to reading it! Have any of you read it? Thanks to Macmillan! Released February.

The Disappearances by Gemma Malley
I wasn't sure about the first in this series, so I'm interested to see what this one is like. I'll check out other bloggers' reviews and then see what they say, so if you've read it and you liked it better than the first one, let me know! Thanks to Hodder for this one. Released April. (Also, if you can't remember what happened in the first book, I will be posting an Happily Ever Ending for The Killables sometime this week or next! Don't know what that is? Click here.)

JOHN GREEN - THE FAULT IN OUR STARS UK TOUR


Okay, so today I went to an awesome event... It was John Green's UK The tour with special guest, Hank Green for The Fault In Our Stars! It was so freaking awesome and I had so much fun! I got this t-shirt, and I bought An Abundance of Katherines especially, and I also got a signed and Hanklerfish-ed UK paperback of The Fault In Our Stars! I took my hardback of TFIOS, and Let It Snow too to get signed and Hanklerfish-ed, and I've taken a picture for you all to see above! Did anyone go, or went to the Swindon show or going to another one this week? Let me know! I couldn't take pictures with them, or get my books personalised, but it was the best day ever, I can't wait until they come back to the UK because I just want to do it all again! :D 

I'm hoping to do a write-up of the event sometime this week, so look out for that (although it's entirely possible that I won't bother, because I'm lazy and also have a busy week coming up!) 

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you got in your letterbox this week in the comments, or let me know which one of these you think I should read first! Happy reading everyone!
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