Friday, 30 May 2014

Guest Post: My Favourite Things by Sarah Alderson

Hello! Today I have a great guest post from Sarah Alderson telling us all about her favourite things, as part of the blog tour for Out of Control, Sarah's her latest novel for young adults. The book's out now and I'm halfway through - I definitely recommend that you pick it up. I hope you enjoy the guest post!
__________

My favourite things…

Favourite City…
New York! Where Out of Control is set. I love the food, the energy, the fashion, the characters, the smell. I love the village and I love Brooklyn. I love how many nationalities there are there and how intense it is.

Favourite book… this changes all the time. This year it would have to be The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I adored it. Also Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. She always blows me away with her writing.

Favourite TV show… Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s so brilliantly written. I just adored it. It was also one of the first shows to depict a really awesome female protagonist who knew how to rescue herself. I’m also addicted to Game of Thrones, Mad Men and Vikings.

Favourite movie… probably Terminator or Alien. Or Spiderman. I grew up in the 80s. Spidey was on TV every Saturday morning and my best friend would call me up to make sure I was up to watch it. We had such a crush on him, even though he was a cartoon. And Reese in Terminator was one of my first film crushes.

Favourite chill out activity… I live in Bali so that would be a massage followed by a margarita with my girlfriends!

Favourite food… Chocolate. Sushi. In that order.

Favourite thing I can’t live without… My Macbook Air and my Spotify subscription. I can’t write without music and I can’t write without my laptop. I type really fast. In fact it’s the one skill I am most proud of. I can type about 80 words a minute which means I can write as fast as I think and also means I can write a book in about 4 weeks if I push it.

Favourite character from one of my books… I do have a crush on Jay from Out of Control. When he kisses Liva in the alleyway…just woah…probably the hottest kiss I’ve ever written. They have smokin’ chemistry. But I also love Demos from Hunting Lila (so misunderstood) and Cyrus (he’s funny, athletic, has mad skills and is incredibly smart to boot).

__________

When 17 year old Liva witnesses a brutal murder she’s taken into police custody for her own protection. But when the police station is attacked and bullets start flying it becomes clear that Liva is not just a witness, she’s a target.

Together with a car thief called Jay, Liva manages to escape the massacre but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit two killers who will stop at nothing to find them.

When you live on the edge, there’s a long way to fall.


__________


I'd like to say a huge thank you to Sarah for this fab post! I was hoping to get my review out earlier this week but alas I did not, but do look out for that next week. Also, don't forget to stop by the other posts on the blog tour and to check out Out of Control!


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

#countdownya: Interview with Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Countdown To...

Welcome to my stop on the Countdown to 5th June blog tour! Today I've got an interview (with a twist!) from Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, authors of LOBSTERS, which, just like all the other books featured on the blog tour, is coming out on 5th June! I've been lucky enough to read it already and it's FAB and so funny, and this post will give you a taste of what to expect from the book itself (you can also read an extract here).

 


I gave the authors five awkward situations that one might find oneself in at some point. Each author wrote an answer, sharing how they would react.

You fall over in public. There is underwear on show. Everyone saw, but no one helps you. What do you do?

LUCY: Style it out. Pretend you totally meant to fall over. Roll around on the pavement a bit for good measure... and then when there is a lull in spectators get up and RUN.

TOM: Jump up immediately and start confidently speaking to an imaginary cameraman 'hiding' in the nearest bush. Say: 'Right, well, you saw it with your own eyes, folks - this secret experiment we've just conducted for our new hidden camera show proves it: the general public are simply NOT willing to help out a stranger in distress. Even - EVEN - when that stranger falls over so dramatically that he displays his own underwear. What sort of a world are we living in, eh, folks? Terrible. Tragic stuff. Join me after the break, when I'll be tumbling down an escalator in a busy shopping mall to see if today's consumers really are as heartless as they would appear'.


You are walking down the street, when you see someone you know but generally try to avoid. You turn your head and try not to be noticed, but they see you and come over to chat. You find this person really irritating. You try to be subtle and get rid of them but they are not getting the hint and won't leave you alone. What do you do?

LUCY: Drop in the odd occasional hint that you are completely bonkers. Do an unexpected sloth impression, growl at passers-by and insist they dance with you whilst you sing Under The Sea really loudly. Eventually they will make their excuses. If not, why don’t you like them? They sound fun.

TOM: Try this: set an alarm on your phone that will go off, say, every 15 minutes between the hours you might encounter someone you generally try to avoid (say, 9am to 6pm weekdays, 10am to 1am weekends). Make sure this alarm is set with a tone that sounds like a ringtone, rather than a standard alarm. Then, when you do, inevitably, end up in a conversation with someone you generally try to avoid, you'll be buoyed by the knowledge that you will only have to bear, at most, 15 minutes of their company before your 'phone rings' and you 'answer it' to receive 'a call' that's 'really important' and requires you to end the annoying conversation now. There are two obvious downsides to this plan: 1) you'll have to put up with your phone going off every 15 minutes, and 2) this idea won't work on an underground train (which is where, in my experience, most annoying awkward conversations end up happening). But, other than that, it's foolproof. I don't actually use this method myself in real life, obviously (I'm not a maniac), but it's just occurred to me, and it seems pretty solid. If anyone would like to try it for a few days/weeks and let me know how it works out, that'd be great.


You've finally got rid of your irritating acquaintance when you realise there's a girl in front of you with her skirt tucked into the top of her tights, displaying a full view of her underwear. The girl is wearing headphones and hasn't seemed to notice things are getting a bit breezy. Others have noticed but they don't say anything. Will you be the one to tell her and how?

LUCY: No, I would tuck my skirt into the top of my tights too as a show of support for the sisterhood and start a bum tight revolution. Or if I didn’t have the courage to do that, give her a meaningful look which she would instantly know means ‘Your skirt is in your 60 deniers missus’.

TOM: No, as a man, I would feel slightly uncomfortable passing on this information. I would, perhaps, alert the nearest woman, point out the skirt-in-tights situation to her, and ask her to relay the information to the unfortunate girl.


You get uncontrollable giggles half way through a performance of a really sad play. Everyone around you is sombre but you can't stop laughing. Even the actors have noticed and it's putting them off. What do you do?

LUCY: Slyly reach for your handbag and squirt some perfume into each eye. They will think the howling is a terrible allergic reaction or that you are moved to A LOT of tears by their outstanding performance.

TOM: Simply laugh harder and harder, until tears are streaming down your face, and then pretend you're actually crying at the moving portrayal of sadness and tragedy taking place before your eyes.


Your friend tells you that another friend is pregnant. You'd been suspecting but didn't want to say anything just in case they weren't. You go up to them and ask them when the baby is due, but it turns out your friend meant a different person and the person you asked had just eaten a little too much. What do you do?

LUCY: Lean in and whisper to them ‘Obviously I know you’re not pregnant but I am employing Sherlock style sleuthing. Someone in this room is and has just given themselves away. See how shifty Mavis looks right now? She’s the real preggers alright. Thanks for helping out.’

TOM: If you've posed your question like this - 'When's the baby due?' - simply follow your error up with, 'Not YOUR baby, you idiot. Obviously I know YOU'RE not pregnant. I mean, when is (INSERT NAME OF PREGNANT FRIEND/CELEBRITY/RELATIVE/ANYONE WHO'S DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY PREGNANT)'s baby due'. If you've posed the question like this - 'When's YOUR baby due?' - simply follow your error up with, 'Yeah, I know you're not pregnant right NOW, you idiot. That's obvious. All I meant was, do you reckon you'll ever have kids, and if so, when? I realise I phrased the question slightly oddly, and for that, I apologise.'




Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison are co-authors of Lobsters, which is published by Chicken House on 4th June. I want to say a huge thank you to both authors for this, and also to Jim for hosting this blog tour and all others involved in organising it! Do make sure to look out for LOBSTERS in shops on 5th June as you won't want to miss it! 

Tomorrow's stop on the Countdown to 5th June blog tour is Ellie Irving at Wondrous Reads, and to see more of the posts from the blog tour, you can visit the schedule and check out the website!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie Cover Reveal

Hey guys! Today I have an exciting cover reveal and extract from Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie by Jeff Norton! It comes out early August. It looks great and so funny - I was lucky enough to hear Jeff read an extract himself earlier this year and everyone present was in fits of giggles. So, without further ado here's the awesome cover, the synopsis, and a short extract!


Synopsis: 
'My name is Adam Meltzer and the last thing I remember was being stung by a bee while swinging at a robot-shaped piƱata on my twelfth birthday. I was dead before the candy hit the ground.'

Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie is narrated by the hilarious Adam Meltzer - pre-teen, worrywart, and now zombie. Adam's family gets the fright of their lives when he turns up at their door desperate for a shower . . . three months after his funeral.
When most people think zombies, they think of eating people, and unintelligent monsters.
But Adam doesn’t like germs. Or dirt. Or things being disorganised. So waking up as a zombie was definitely not in his plans, and the idea of eating people is disgusting. Getting stung by a bee doesn’t normally lead to becoming a zombie, and it seems incredibly unfair that it’s happened to Adam.
Soon Adam's back at school trying to fit in and not draw extra attention to himself, but when he sees his neighbour Ernesto transform into a chupacubra, and the beautiful Corina (Adam's number one mega-crush) turns out to be a (vegan) vampire, undead life is never going to be the same again.

A hilarious adventure caper - if Ferris Bueller met Shaun of the Dead - all about friendship and being yourself . . . even if you're undead.

__________

Extract:
Adam voluntarily goes back to school, hiding his decomposition:

14. As I walked down the school hallway, a strange hush fell over the students as they parted for me; staring and whispering. Seventh grade was the middle grade of middle school, so I was used to being basically invisible. But everyone slowed down and stared at me as I strolled to my first class. I felt really exposed, walking through a cloud of gossip:
Is that Adam Meltzer?
I thought he died.
His hair looks better, smoother
What’s he doing back?
Is he into make-up now?
What’s the big deal? I was just a kid back from the grace. Granted, a kid with too much rouge on his cheeks.
Is that Amanda’s little brother?
I hear he’s been touring with SMOOCH.
Before death, I’d been an anonymous seventh grader, now I was part of the rumour mill. I wondered if this is how the popular kids felt all the time.
But I didn’t have time to bask in my newfound fame because suddenly I was yanked into a classroom.
‘What are you doing here, you moron?’ asked Corina, closing the door or the empty history classroom. After Saturday night, I was hoping for a secret handshake, or at the very least a polite nod.

__________

17 other blogs around the blogosphere have also revealed the cover, but each with a different extract - just head on over to Twitter to find the links. Go to A Day Dreamer's Thoughts for the extract preceding mine, and to Bookbabblers for the one after (they run in order but they don't follow directly on from each other). Do stop by them to read more of the novel, because they're all great (I've had an early look) and the whole book looks absolutely fantastic, so don't forget to look out for it in August! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it! 


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Series:  Divergent, #3
Pages:  526
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Date of Publication: 22nd October, 2013
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Sorry in advance this review is a bit bitty! I had a lot of feelings (as usual)... :P

My Thoughts:
I reread Divergent and Insurgent before I read this, so I could be completely clued up on what had happened (I originally tried to read this in November when I first got it - however with such little memory of what went on in the first two books it was kind of difficult) and I think that that really added to my enjoyment of the book. I know it has a whole host of mixed reviews, from the 'OMG I LOVED IT SO MUCH' to the 'THIS BOOK IS TERRIBLE WHAT ON EARTH WAS SHE THINKING?!', and...

I'm definitely on the 'OH MY GOSH I LOVED IT' side.

Unfortunately, I knew what happened at the end of the book before I'd even started - Twitter was a spoiler goldmine for a few weeks and I happened across it completely by accident - needless to say I was pretty shocked. Anyway, now having read it I can see exactly why Veronica Roth wrote it the way that she did and while I wouldn't exactly say I was happy at the end, I was pretty satisfied at the ending to Tris' story.

I just wanted to get that out of the way because if you've been anywhere these last six months you'll probably know that it ends in kind of really shocking way. But that's all that I shall say on that matter and if you want to know more you'll just have to read it to find out :P

I really loved Tris in Allegiant. It had been a few years since I'd read any of Tris' story (I read Insurgent when it came out in 2012) so obviously I'm older and (I'd like to think although it's debatable :P ) a little bit more mature than I was last time I read about her. It really hit me while reading Allegiant that Tris is only sixteen. That's younger than me. Which was so weird because I'm used to her being older than me. I started reading YA when I was 11 so it's really strange that all of these characters that I used to look up to and wish I could be like when I was their age, are now younger than me (AND I'M STILL NOT LIKE THEM AT ALL). I feel so old (and I'm only 17... This does not bode well for my future!)

Anyway, Tris has changed a lot since the start of Divergent and I think reading them all in order one after the other really helped me to see that. She's brave and strong and I loved that by the end she was exactly who she wanted to be and she was able to stand up for herself and be a strong and independent individual. I think she sends a great message to the impressionable youth of today and for that I'm really grateful to Veronica Roth. Tris always says what she thinks and although she got herself into a lot of trouble for it I think that ultimately it served her well and I wish more people would be like her.

Allegiant is told in dual narrative, for the first time in the series, with the other narrator (besides Tris) being Four. While I sometimes forgot that the narrative had switched (the narration styles were pretty similar and so it was kinda difficult to differentiate) I really liked seeing inside Four's head and seeing his more vulnerable side. I mean, sure we got some glimpses of that side of him through Tris' eyes in the previous books when she brought it out in him, but never to the same extent as the dual narrative allowed. I really liked seeing him in a more realistic way and seeing him flip out over things just made me love him more. (Also, I'm not gonna lie, but having seen the film now and picturing Four as Theo James in my head did not hurt matters AT ALL... XD ) Anyway :P

Despite not being so sure about Allegiant at first, I ended up loving it. It really reminded me of why I loved this series so much when I first read Divergent three years ago, and I'm sure that it will be a series that I revisit in the future (now that I'm getting better at rereading, yay!). I cannot recommend this series enough to both boys and girls, especially if you want something that's action packed and exciting but not mindless. The Divergent film is also GREAT so you should definitely watch that - although obviously, READ THE BOOK FIRST! :D


*Huge thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were LiarsTitle: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Series:  Standalone
Pages:  225
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date of Publication: 15th May, 2014
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads:

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?


My Thoughts:
I knew very little about We Were Liars before I read it. Really, all I knew was that this book is the current big thing and so when I got an email about the live read that took place this weekend, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy if possible to take part. I actually think that knowing relatively little made me enjoy it even more, since I literally had no idea what I was walking into, and I think that the mystery and slight uneasiness you feel when reading since nothing quite seems to sit right and fit together nicely, only adds to the reading experience.

As I mentioned, I read We Were Liars as part of a global live read along that happened on Twitter, using the hashtag #liarsliveread. If you head on over to Twitter and search that you'll get a whole load of tweets about people's reactions to the story as they reached certain pages. Reading along with the rest of the world was great fun and I loved seeing other people having slight 'what the hell is going here?!' moments at exactly the same time as I did. So perhaps my review is a little biased based on that, but whatever :P The book would have been FAB anyway.

E. Lockhart throws us straight in at the deep end with We Were Liars. Cadence, our main character, has been in an accident but we don't know what happened or where or why. We're kept in the dark for a while as the story builds up and while it was frustrating not knowing what happened, it only made me more eager to read on in order to find out. The plot is SUPER TWISTY and I frequently found myself a little bit lost as to what the hell was going on. It's so easy to read and I understood everything, it just didn't make much sense, plot-wise. It is called, We Were LIARS, after all, so it's really difficult to work out what's the truth and what's just another lie. It definitely makes for really interesting reading!

There are A WHOLE LOT of characters in We Were Liars. Like, a lot. The Sinclair family is huge and it did take me quite a long time to get to grips with all them and who was related to whom (well they're (almost) all related, but they're cousins and aunts and grandchildren so it took a while to work out who they all were in relation to each other, if that makes sense.) and where they all lived etc. Luckily though, there's a handy map and family tree at the beginning of the novel that I could keep referring back to, which made things a lot easier (and let's face it - maps and family trees just make books BETTER, right? Right! ;) )

I really liked Cadence. It took a while for me to warm to her, since she most definitely has a flair for the dramatic (which is immediately seen on page five - WOH.) and at first I found it a little grating. As the book went on however I warmed to her and began to understand her and why she was that way. I felt I could connect to her pain because she suffers from severe migraines, and if you were following me on Twitter about a year and a half ago you may know that I also have been diagnosed with migraines and stress-induced tension headaches. They're actually very manageable now but every so often I'll get a migraine that'll knock me out for a day or two. They can be agonisingly painful and while I would not exactly describe it as someone bringing an axe to my head and cracking open my skull as Cadence does, I could completely sympathise with the frustration and the pain she must have been feeling since, like me, there was nothing wrong with her brain physically and it's all psychological, which only makes it worse since you know that it's only YOU that's causing these headaches yet you cannot seem to escape them. So while she was very dramatic, I could totally understand and that made me feel closer to her and root for her even more.

I don't want to say too much in a bid to not give anything away, but the end is like WHAT THE...?! I've seen this described as mind-f and yeah, I would totally agree with that. When you finally reach Part Five, entitled Truth, just take a deep breath and brace yourself for the last thing you're expecting. It's a shocker, let me tell you! It's written so well though that it totally works. Completely.

Overall I was surprised and confused by We Were Liars but in the best way possible. It played with my mind and totally threw me with all the lies and deceit that by the end, it's almost impossible to determine what on Earth is going on. However, it's so cleverly done and so well written that it's not weird or disjointed in the slightest, as can sometimes happen with an overly complicated plot. Now, I recommend that you go get yourself a copy of We Were Liars as soon as you can, as you certainly do not want to miss out on this fantastic page turner.

*Huge thanks to Hot Key Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

March and April 2014 Wrap Up

I can't believe it's May already! This year is going so fast... Anyway! Here's my wrap up for March and April!

March:

Banished (The Blackhart Legacy, #1)  Dandelion Clocks  Zom-B Gladiator (Zom-B, #6)

1. Banished by Liz De Jager
2. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
3. Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott
4. Zom-B Gladiator by Darren Shan

April:

More Than This  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)  Divergent (Divergent, #1)

1. More Than This by Patrick Ness
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I've read a mix of stuff these last two months and I actually really enjoyed each book that I read! Harry Potter and the two Divergent books were rereads, and I really enjoyed returning to both series - I don't reread much so it's been really great. Banished was excellent, as expected (I might review it at some point - I have got half a review typed up somewhere so I'll finish that hopefully soon!). I wasn't sure what to expect from Maggot Moon and although it was really weird I really enjoyed it. Zom-B Gladiator was another great instalment of the Zom-B series, and I can't wait for more!

I don't really have a favourite book since they were all so great! I can't choose, so I won't ;)

Reviews posted:


New books this month:

Sorry for the super messy table in the background... :P 

I only got two physical books in the last two months - so huge thanks to Hot Key Books for Love Letters to the Dead and to Hodder & Stoughton for The Edge of the Water! Can't wait to read Love Letters and I haven't read the first book to The Edge of the Water so I'll see about getting myself a copy of that. 

I also got a few books from NetGalley (I couldn't help myself...) which I'm super excited about! 


Sorry for the small picture! The books are:

Between The Lives by Jessica Shirvington
Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
Smart by Kim Slater
The Rain by Virginia Bergin

Thanks to Macmillan, Orchard Books and Random House for these titles! 

Finally here are some books that are coming out in the UK in May to look forward to! 

The Bubble Wrap Boy  The Worst Girlfriend in the World  The Glass Bird Girl
We Were Liars  Out of Control  City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)

What did you read in April?
Have you read any of these books?
What are you most looking forward to in May?



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