Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Show Stealer by Hayley Barker: Blog Tour

Show Stealer (Show Stopper #2)Title: Show Stealer
Author: Hayley Barker
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Sent by publisher

Hoshiko and Ben have been on the run since they burned Silvio Sabatini's circus down to the ground at the explosive finale of SHOW STOPPER. But Ben's mother will stop at nothing to track him down and get her revenge: backing him into a corner where he is forced to sacrifice himself to save Hoshiko. The deadliest show on earth has been resurrected and if Ben thought he'd seen into its dark corners as an outsider, the true extent of the horrors that lurk beneath the Big Top are about to be revealed as he becomes the circus' new star attraction...

I am excited to be the next stop on the Show Stealer bog tour. Show Stealer is the second book in the Show Stealer series by Haley Barker. Show Stopper takes place in a not-so-distant future England where the poorest people, considered 'Dregs' and not 'Pure' English have no rights and a terrible way of life. Many Dregs are forced to sell their children into a travelling circus, where they are forced to perform in deadly acts where many of them die. The first book followed Ben, the teenage son of a government minister who visits the circus for the first time and falls in love with Hoshiko, one of the young circus performers. Ben quickly becomes aware of how wrong the society he lives in really is and he works to help Hoshiko escape the circus,

Show Stealer takes place a year after the events of the first book. Hoshiko, Ben, Greta, Jack and Bojo the monkey are still in hiding, having escaped the Circus. Ben's mother is determined to track them down and get Ben back. And the Circus has been rebuilt bigger and more deadlier than before. Ben sacrifices himself and gives himself up, in order to allow the others to escape. Ben finds himself thrown into the Circus, as the new star attraction. Ben's position in the Circus will see him learn more about the deadliest show on earth, and will change everything he thought he knew.

I was immediately sucked back into this story and world in just the first few pages. I enjoyed book one but I absolutely loved book two of the series. It went at such a fast pace, and I was unable to put the book down. I was reading it, not wanting to reach the end. Hayley Barker has a way of writing the circus to life, so you can picture it so vividly in your head that you feel like you are there. I don't want to dive into details of the book because I fear spoiling it for any of you. You won't be disappointed if you pick up this series.

I also love the look at society we get through these books. Hayley was inspired to write this series after seeing an increase in crime and animosity against minority groups in England, especially around the time Brexit was first being discussed. It can make for uncomfortable reading at times, but I love it's overall message of acceptance. I highly recommend this series, especially if you like books set in dark futures, or those set in a circus.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt: Blog Tour

TheatricalTitle: Theatrical
Author: Maggie Harcourt
Publisher: Usborne
Source: Sent by publisher
Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool… and her secret. 

There are very few things in this world that I love as much as I love theatre and books. Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt manages to bring my two loves together and it is total perfection. Visiting the theatre is always a magical experience and Maggie manages to bring the magic of the theatre to life on the page. Before I gush about Theatrical, I first want to talk a little bit about the theatre and why I love it so much.

Image result for hamilton gifI still remember the very first time I saw a show on the West End. I went to see The Lion King for my 13th birthday, in a new outfit that was bought for the occasion - a tradition that continues today. The show started and it was as if I had been transported to the savanna's of Africa. My face was one of complete awe and wonder. I had fallen in love with the theatre that day and I haven't looked back since. I have seen quite a lot of shows on stage, but there are so many more I am desperate to see. Every show I have seen was unique, mesmerising and transported me someplace new. I've seen Hamilton five times in six months and I don't think I'll ever get sick of seeing that show. The Cursed Child blew my mind with the ways it managed to bring magic to the stage, I still can't even figure out how they did some of it. The theatre is an experience you never forget and you'd struggle to find a more talented bunch than the people you see on that stage and the incredible people behind it too.

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt follows Hope, who dreams of working backstage in the theatre. Hope wants to earn her place though, she doesn't just want to be given a job because her mother is a famous costume designer, When Hope gets an internship at a theatre, working on a major new production, she could not be more thrilled. Piecekeepers, a best-selling novel, is being turned into a play with the famous Hollywood heartthrob Tommy Knight in the lead role. Hope has her work cut out for her trying to ensure the show is ready for opening night, all the while trying to keep her internship hidden from her family.

Maggie Harcourt brings the theatre to life and gives us a peek behind the curtain. This book made me fall even more in love with the theatre. It also made me truly appreciate just how many people and how much work goes into making a play a reality. Maggie's writing easily transports you into the theatre, you can vividly see everything she is describing.

Maggie breathes as much life into her characters as she does the theatre, Hope is such an adorable character, and so very relatable too. She lacks confidence in the beginning and second guesses herself a lot, but it's great to watch her grow throughout the book. I also loved seeing the relationship between Hope and Luke, Tommy's understudy, develop throughout the novel. The book s also filled with a whole cast of interesting side characters. I especially loved George, with his larger than life personality, he was the perfect balance for Hope and I loved their friendship. Tommy Knight was one of those complex characters you don't warm to right away, you need to see all his sides to truly appreciate the character.

Theatrical was the perfect cute contemporary romance that transported me straight into the theatre and made me never want to leave. If you're looking for your next adorable romance and super loveable characters then this is the book for you.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Zenith by Sasha Ahlsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Zenith (The Androma Saga, #1)Title: Zenith
Author: Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she's just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.
But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder's all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi's past.
Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.
Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

Image result for space gifNo, your eyes aren't lying to you, I really am posting on the blog... Finally! And I'm returning as one of the last stops on the Zenith blog tour. Zenith was advertised as a pirates in space adventure, with a kick-ass, all girl crew. It sounded like my idea of a good time, so I was excited to read and review it for the tour stop. But I wanted to mention something that I noticed when I added it to my Goodreads. There was a little controversy over the fact a Booktuber got a book deal, which felt like a no brainer to me. I'd rather one go to a book lover than a beauty vlogger who would just get a ghost writer to do it and then slap their name on the front. But maybe that's just me. This book faced much harsher criticism and scrutiny than your average book because of that. So please don't let that put you off, this book is worth your time if you love science fiction, space adventures, political intrigue, and a killer, all girl squad.

This is a space opera, so it means we get all of the space! I love being able to travel to the different planets and seeing the world that Sasha and Lindsay have created. Science fiction is a genre that just has such endless possibilities, and I really love what they did with theirs. I think it was obvious to see that they went for a large scope and have thought hard about their world, the people within it and everything else. It also means that their are many more places and things to explore in future books. I also loved that we get a deeper look at the past, and what led to the different planets and solar systems within the book being at war. This book has some interesting political intrigue and moving pieces all across the board. And it keeps you on your toes, as there were some twists I did not see coming at all.

Image result for girl squad gifThere's a large cast of characters and we actually get six different POVs. I think I could have been better with less, but they were all needed for one reason or another. I especially loved the Marauder crew, it was great to see that group of girls having such a close bond. They trusted and relied on each other and I loved their dynamic so much. I also appreciated that each of the characters were from different planets, so we got to find out about each of their worlds a little and about their races.

My other favourite thing about this series was the conclusion. The ending was action-packed and had some shocking surprises that I did not see coming at all. So much happens at the end of this book and it made it fly by and suddenly it was over. And it leaves you with some big questions that you need answering in that next book.

Now there were a few things that I didn't really enjoy about this book. Personally, I felt it was far too long. This story definitely could have been told over less pages and it probably would have been more enjoyable. Especially since this seemed a little repetitive at times. So much happens in this book, and maybe some of that could have been saved for the sequel. So it wasn't the most polished novel that I read but I still enjoyed it.

Honestly, if you're a fan of sci-fi and want a book with strong female friendship, than this would be perfect. Plus, who doesn't like an epic space adventure. I DO!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer: Review & Interview

Letters to the LostTitle: Letters to the Lost
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope. 

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past. 

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.
Image result for I LOVE IT gif
This book has just been announced as part of the Zoella Book Club and I couldn't be happier for Brigid Kemmerer. This book is incredible and I can't wait for so many new people to read the book because of this! Grab yourself a copy asap, and now you can even grab the Zoella Book Club WHSmith exclusive cover.

Before Letters to the Lost, I'd actually once tried to read another book by Brigid Kemerer, Storm, the first book in her Elemental series. I ended up not finishing the book, I couldn't get in to the story and thought that maybe her writing just wasn't for me. So I must admit that I was a little hesitant to pick Letters to the Lost up, but I just had to read it as it seemed like exactly my kind of contemporary. I was so very right. I am so glad I took a chance on it, I ended up absolutely loving this bstory and now I am left wanting more from this author. I read this book in just a few hours, I honestly just couldn't put it down and step away from the story or these characters. Within just a few pages Kemmerer managed to get me ridiculously invested in her characters and their story. Ahhhhhh, I just really loved this book and now I just kind of want to gush about it.

Since Juliet lost her mother in a car accident, she has been leaving letters at her grave as a way to feel close to her. Her mother was a war photographer, constantly travelling to war torn countries to capture the true horror, so letters have always been how Juliet and her mother kept in touch whilst she was away. Juliet never expects anyone to read the letters she leaves at her mother's grave, she definitely doesn't expect anyone to reply. But Declan does. He is currently doing community service at the graveyard when he finds one of her letters. He understands her feelings, he is still dealing with the death of his sister and the guilt he feels from that. He write back, which begins a communication between the two of them. They seem to understand each others pain, guilt and grief, but they don't realise that they know each other in real life and they haven't exactly had the best interactions with one another. Cue all the good stuff!

Image result for now kiss gifI'm not even sure where to begin, there are so many things that I loved about this book. It covered so many issues so well, and gave me so many feelings in the process. I think first I should say that I loved the characters, they just felt so real. Their grief and pain was just so easy for me to understand and relate to, as well as their guilt, even for the things they really shouldn't blame themselves for. I loved watching Juliet and Declan connect through their letters, whilst also getting to know one another in real life without even realising it. It showed so well how quickly we can judge people and make assumptions about them, without knowing their full story. It also perfectly showed how anonymity can make us far more comfortable and willing to show who we really are.

This book dealt with a lot of tough subjects, not just loss and grief; Brigid Kemmerer dealt with these all so well. It never felt like too much, or that she went too over the top with it like I have seen in other books. These tough issues were never used for drama, they were so important to the story and these characters, who they were and the decisions they made.

Another thing I loved about the book was all the different relationships portrayed here. You had those with good relationship with their parents, those without. Not to mention the strong friendships here, ones that I really enjoyed. I especially enjoyed Declan's relationship with his best friend Rev, the level of understanding those two have of each other is just brilliant. They know each others past and the struggles it caused them, they were supportive, whilst also being capable of calling the other out on their bullshit when they needed it. I felt the family relationships were also very realistic, especially Declan's struggles with his step father. I felt like their lack of communication was so true to real life. If you don't open up and tell someone your feelings and motivations, they'll judge you only on what they can see and that won't always be who you are. I really enjoyed how Kemmerer dealt with that relationship over the course of this novel.

Image result for kiss already gifKemmerer did such a wonderful job building up the relationship between Declan and Juliet. This is a fantastic contemporary, where the romance isn't overpowering the story, and I actually preferred it that way. This was definitely a slow build and slow burn romance, with two characters truly opening up and getting to know each other; my favourite kind of romance. That isn't to say that I didn't totally want to see these two end up together, I did. I shipped these two so very hard!

I absolutely loved this book and can't really find any faults with it. My one and only complain might be that I wanted one more chapter or so, which is what I seem to say about every single contemporary I ever read. That's not because the ending didn't wrap up the story enough or didn't give me closure, it was just that I didn't feel ready to say goodbye to these characters, which is a good sign that I loved the book.

5/5 Butterflies

Why do you write?

I’ve always loved telling stories. I started writing stories in middle school because I couldn’t find enough to read to keep me busy.

Do you write letters? How important do you think it is to keep up letter writing rather than just always texting/emailing etc – or do you think we have to move with the times? 

I rarely hand-write physical letters (though I’m going to write two physical letters to two people I found incredibly inspiring as I was writing Letters to the Lost). That said, I am constantly emailing and texting. I love being able to take the time to sit down and think through what I say, and especially with email, being able to deliver all of it at once, instead of as part of a conversation. I think that goes hand-in-hand with writing books: I’m just a storyteller at heart.

In the age of digital dating and online friendships, how much do you think it is possible to get to know a person without actually meeting them? 

My absolute closest friend is a woman I met online through a writers’ message board. We’re as close as sisters now, and we’ve only physically seen each other twice. I met my husband over the phone, and we developed a friendship well before we ever met in person. And those are my two closest relationships! I think it’s very possible to develop a close relationship with someone online. I’ve never met many of my writer friends. Being able to connect with people all over the world is one of the best parts of the digital age.

Which novelists do you admire? 

Oh my goodness, SO MANY! Huntley Fitzpatrick, Sabaa Tahir, Charlaine Harris, Sophie Kinsella, Bill Konigsberg, Jane Green…I could go on and on!

Describe your route to being published: 

I feel like I’ve been writing forever, but I started to really take it seriously in my late twenties. I began researching what it would take to get published—and learned it takes a lot of work! My first real novel was rejected everywhere, so I wrote another one. That novel landed an agent—but didn’t sell to any publishers. My third novel, Storm, sold at auction, and it’s the first novel in a series about four brothers who control the elements of earth, air, fire, and water.

What songs would be on a Letters to the Lost playlist? 

I always say that Shots by Imagine Dragons is the book’s theme song. The regular version is great, but there’s a slower, acoustic version that just absolutely nails it. The song is about someone who wants to do things right, but they feel as though everything they do ends up being terribly wrong.

What is the first book that made you cry? 

I can’t remember. The last book that made me cry was The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

What drove you to make Juliet’s mother a war photographer? 

I wanted her mother to have a job that would require a lot of travel, but also be something unusual and admirable. I started researching photojournalism and it just clicked immediately.

What’s your favourite photo you’ve ever taken? Or one that you’ve seen? 

The most powerful photo I’ve ever seen is the one that inspired the opening chapter of Letters to the Lost. It’s called “Iraqi Girl at Checkpoint,” taken by Chris Hondros, and it’s terrible and devastating.

Here’s a link: How a Photo of an Iraqi Girl at a Checkpoint Changed the ...

The girl's parents were shot dead by U.S. soldiers who thought the family's car held insurgents or suicide bombers But seriously, it’s terrible and heartbreaking. Not for the faint of heart. The instant I saw it, I started crying, and the mother in me wanted to find her and hold her.

What was the hardest part of writing the book? 

Looking at war photographs. Some of them (like the one above) are terribly difficult to look at. My husband and I went to the Newseum in Washington D.C. so I could do some research for Letters to the Lost, and seeing so many photographs all at once was an incredibly emotional experience.

Can you tease any future projects? 

Yes! Rev Fletcher, a side character in Letters to the Lost and already a reader favorite, is getting his own book. More Than We Can Tell will be released in March 2018. I’m also just finishing A Curse So Dark and Lonely, a fantasy/contemporary crossover, which should be available sometime in 2019.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

Swear on This LifeTitle: Swear on this Life
Author: Renee Carlino
Publisher: Atria Books
When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

Anyone who has followed my blog for a while will know that I have a complicated relationship with New Adult books. It is very rare for me to find a new adult book that I like. My biggest issue with the genre from the majority of books I have read is the poor writing, annoying tropes, every tragic backstory you can think of and the cringe-inducing dialogue. I mostly stick to Colleen Hoover, although I've been disappointed with her last few books. I recently discovered Fisher Amelie and I will forever recommend Katja Millay's The Sea of Tranquility. Every now and again I will take a chance on a new adult book, hoping that it will pay off. I decided to give Swear on This Life a try because it was recommended by Colleen Hoover and I was curious. Unfortunately, I have to say that this was one of the worst books I have read in a very long time.

Image result for i hate this gifThe story follows Emiline, a writing instructor at UC San Diego, who always longed to be a writer but could never find the story she wanted to tell. When a debut novel blows up and becomes the next big thing, Emiline decides to read it. She is surprised to find that the book is about her. The author, J. Colby has to be Jase, the guy she grew up with and her first love.

Another reason I was curious to read this book was because of the childhood friends to lovers story line, as I usually find them super cute. However this story offered me absolutely nothing and I honestly wish I had never picked it up. My biggest problem with this book was that it was poorly written. It had some of the weakest dialogue that I have ever encountered. It also contains the whole 'book within a book', a book we are supposed to believe is getting world wide attention and acclaim, which made no sense given how poorly that book was written, so much so that it could make Fifty Shades look like a work of genius. It was just so, so, so, soooooo bad.
This also had one of my least favourite tropes that is ride in New Adult literature. And that is the tope of the tragic back stories. Why can' a lead character in a new adult book not have some awfully tragic back story? One has an abusive, alcoholic father and a mother who abandoned them. The other has a druggie mother, absent father and brother who dies tragically. Of course! It is always sooooo fucking over the top and ridiculous and I hate it.

Image result for i hate this gifThe book within this book made it hard for us to get to know the characters as adults. Instead we kept going back to a fictionalised version of their childhood. It made it hard to connect to them or to really buy their romance. Not to mention it had a really rushed and swift end. It felt like you got absolutely no pay off for sticking through the whole book. I just had a horrible time with this book and it has put me off trying anything else by this author.