Showing posts with label Penguin Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Penguin Books. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Burn The Kingdoms Down

SURPRISE! This is a last minute decision as, on a whim, I emailed Phoebe at Penguin, wondering if Sally Green, author of the Half Bad trilogy and the Smoke Thieves series, fancied writing a small guest post for me to celebrate to release the third and final book in the Smoke Thieves, The Burning Kingdom. Phoebe asked Sally and both were thrilled to. As am I as I got quite obsessed with Half Bad, Sally's debut trilogy!

I'm not going to do a write up about The Burning Kingdoms as third and final in series (I'm not going to spoil! I'm not a monster!), so let me do a tiny write-up of Smoke Thieves. Smoke Thieves follows several leads, each from four different kingdom.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and things take several sharp turns, throwing everything off course, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war...

I am thrilled that Sally found the time to write this guest post, so thank you Sally. I, also, want to thank Phoebe for saying yes and chatting to Sally about this post.

Now, before I hand over to Sally, if you want to say hi to her, you can say hi to her via her Twitter (@Sa11eGreen). Plus, if you are curious on The Burning Kingdom or any other of Sally's novels, you can always check her Penguin's website or Book Depository!

With this all out of the way, OVER TO YOU, SALLY!

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Audiobook Review - Waking Gods

  • Title And Author: Waking Gods (The Themis Files: Book 2) by Sylvain Neuvel
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 336 Pages or 9 Hours, 8 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Audible

Earlier this year, I listened to the audiobook of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, the first book in the Themis Files (my write-up for that is here, FYI), and since then, I wanted to listen to the second book in the trilogy to see where the series goes. 

So, when I got a credit on Audible (I preordered an audiobook so I had to wait a month or so), I bought this and went “Ok, hopefully, I’m going to enjoy this as much as I did the first!”

Set around ten years after the events of Sleeping Giants, a giant alien metal robot materialise in the centre of London. There was no warning for its arrival. It stands alone in London, stock still. As if it’s waiting… And it looks frightening like Themis. 

Doctor Rose Franklin can’t remember what happened to her. According to what she’s been told. she died several years ago and yet, here she stands, with no memory of what happened to her. As she, her team and Themis’s pilots try and figure out what to do next, a military decision backfires, reducing in half the city of London being destroyed! 

Now, with more alien robots appearing all over the world in cities, it’s a race against time as, if no-one can figure out what these robots want and a way to stop them, over 99% of the human population is going to die… 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Audiobook Review - Sleeping Giants

After listen to the Mythos audiobook, I wanted to listen to another audiobook with that addictive quality. I'm not 100% sure what made me decide to get Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, but I have loved the cover art for it since it first came out and, after listening to the sampler a few times, I went "Ok, I need to listen to this."

In Deadwood, USA, a girl fell into a hole. When she was discovered several hours laters, she was found in the palm of a giant metallic hand. Years later, the girl has grown into Dr Rose Franklin, who is asked by an unknown figure to lead a team to discover the rest of the metallic body.

But the metal used in the strangest Rose has ever seen, and when a forearm is discovered halfway round the word, the race is on to find all the pieces before other countries discover them. But are these pieces meant to be discovered? Where did these pieces come from? And what's going to happen when the pieces are put together?

This was such an gripping listen. Am kinda glad I audiobooked this rather than read as I think I would have struggled. Most, if not all of this book/this series, is told in transcripts, very much in a similar style to Illuminae trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. But this had a huge cast so this felt like an audio play rather then a audiobook, and this worked as the names went over my head so the voices helped me so much. So, production wise, this was stunning!

The story itself is interesting. This comes under sci-fi when you look on Audible, and while I agree up to a point, this book did feel more like a political thriller with a sci-fi twist. I sense that, as the trilogy goes forward, the science fiction element was became more pronoun at the end of Sleeping Giants will be pushed more to the forefront of the story. But the advertising for it felt out of step, and while that would annoy some people, I actually didn't might the political thriller element, as I watch shows such as Blacklist and Blindspot so I slipped into it with easy.

But I really liked the story. It was slower paced than what I was expecting, but it moved at a good pace, fast enough to keep you listening but slow enough to make you go "Well, this would be realistic in real life". The characters felt interesting yet flaw. I am surprised intrigued by one of the main character who we learn nothing about. He has no name, he let's nothing slip about himself to anyone and he pushes the story forward with back-up plans and "friends" in high places. This story felt like a sci-fi book I could very easy sink my teeth into and could very easily devour the entire trilogy in a ridiculously short space of time.

Barring this, I found Sleeping Giants an addictive listen and I really want to continue with the series. I will have to stick with audiobook rather than reading, and if/when I do continue with this, I will have to put reading book 2 and 3 of the Illuminae trilogy on hold so I don't get myself into a knot over which book is doing what or merge the plots together...

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Audiobook Review - Mythos

I think we all have a soft spot for Greek mythology. I do. I love myths in general and, if I wasn't scared of debts and everything else that comes with going to university, I think I would've loved to study myths (which would have been Classics, I think) or English. But I never went, but that's getting away from the point.

A few weeks back, I got a few credits on my Audible and asked what audiobooks I should listen to. I had a vague idea of one of the titles I wanted to do (Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, though Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz did call to me as well) but I wanted something different. I wanted to try something new and something I would be a little afraid to try. The lovely Virginie at Chouett tweeted me and said she was nearly finished audiobooking Mythos and was hugely enjoying herself and thought I might like. A few days later, she sent me a copy of the audiobook via audible, which was a lovely surprise. Plus, neither she nor I lost a credit over it (it's a one off thing Audible do, according to my research so am planning to return the favour with a surprise audiobook choice of my own... be afraid, Virginie. Be very afraid.)

Mythos is Stephen Fry's attempt to retell some Greek myths. From the dawn of creation, the war between the Titans and the Olympians, the creation of mankind through to the myths told within the Gold and Silver Ages of Greece.

There's not much else to say about what the book is about as it's just that: Stephen Fry retelling some Greek myths. And guess what: I adore this. So much so, I am very tempted to buy the hardback edition of this to use for research or when the mood takes me to reread/relearn the myths. I didn't know them all, so there was always a new myth to discover and me to go "Oh!" over.

I devoured this audiobook and Stephen is a wonderful narrator. I love him reading Harry Potter and it carried over. Plus, when the author reads their own work, there's something more special about it. They get the rhythm of the story and the humour, and Stephen does add a lot of humour to the myths he decides to retell.

He admits from the start that he tries to put the myths in an order to make it easier for himself and the reader to understand, and this does help with him doing this.

There are two faults with this, and they aren't really Stephen's fault. The first is the names. There are so many of them. There are gods, titans, demi-gods, nymphs, furies, humans, and that's to name a few. It can be overwhelming if you're not on the ball. I might have to do a relisten myself to get them straight in my own head.

The second is length. Like I said before, Stephen tackles the gods and their lengths and he tackles the myths told from the beginning to creation all the way through the Golden and Silver Ages. He goes into a little more depth with the myths he tackles. But, because of this, ee doesn't touch the three other stages in Geek myths - Bronze, Heroic and Iron - so he doesn't tackle Hercules, Jason, Troy and other myths we're probably more aware of. But this gives me a small hope that maybe, just maybe, that Stephen will do a sequel and tackle these ages.

I adore this and I do hope Stephen does do another book about Greek myths. If not, I will probably go on the prowl for other books that tackle myths (hopefully Egyptian as I am fascinated with Egyptian gods, but open to read Roman, Native American, Indigenous Australians - in fact, will happily read any myths and legends. Recommend to me, dear readers!). My copy of Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology is getting me the eye - should I be worried?

PS - Zeus. Mate, could you not stay faithfully? I mean... either see a sex therapist to talk about your sex addiction or let Hera leave you...

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

eBook Review - A Maigret Christmas

My fantasy reading funk is getting weird and out of hand. That's not a bad thing as it made me look at stories I bought or have advance reader copies of (physical and ebook) and, because I wanted something fast and outside my comfort zone, this called to me from my kindle folder "NetGalley TBR" (am trying to get myself organised for once!) and went "Ok, let's try this."

In this bind-up, we have three stories. Two novellas and one short story, set around the time of Christmas. The first is the titled story - following Inspector Maigret one Christmas Day when two neighbours come over and say a little girl saw Father Christmas that night. He gave her a doll but was pulling up some floorboards...

The second is Seven Crosses In A Notebook which follows a policeman at a switchboard, looking into as case that could involve his family. The third and final story is The Little Restaurant In Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown Up), which follows two women after they witness a suicide.

Now, I have problems with my reading experience as my eProof only had A Maigret Christmas. And even though, I'm not 100% certain I got the full version - the story ended quite abruptly, hence my uncertainty on whether to write my thoughts and reactions to this. But, am going to talk about my experience with Maigret Christmas and hope that's alright. But am warning you now, am only talking about this one story so take what I say with caution.

I'm not a huge crime reader. I like reading crime but I don't do it as often as I like. So, trying this out ticked some of my boxes. It's crime, it's a translation and people are become aware of this (with thanks to ITV recent adaption of some of the books in the Maigret series). Hence why I tried it.

This is an odd creature as I liked elements of it, and then there were other elements that didn't work for me. I'm quite fickle when it comes to reading crime. I liked the translation work as it didn't feel false. The characters intrigued me.

But - and this is a big but - I found reading this a struggle. Maybe it's because I'm not used to reading this type of mystery, but it was a slog for me to read. I would always be checking the line at the bottom of my kindle, telling me how much I had read and how much more I had to read. I never felt really connected to the story.

But this is my opinion and I only read one story. Who knows? I might try reading Georges Simenon in the future and it would click for me, but this wasn't for me. But if you don't try new things, who will know if you like them or not? So, am glad I tried something new!

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!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

DNFing (For Now) Rubyfruit Jungle

As you guys are probably aware, I wanted to read an LGBTQIA+ book last month. I had big plans for this, but Invasion of the Tearling threw those plans and my plans for this month kinda out of the window.

But I wanted to read a LGBT+ book before I got attacking my Advance Reader Copies and eProofs (my kindle is getting a little angry at me that I haven't read it in MONTHS!!!). And the lovely people at Penguin Platform sent me two books to promote their #PrideBookClub - Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Rubyfruit Jungle. Now, I knew nothing about Rubyfruit Jungle so decided to go into that.

And I stopped after a few chapters. I didn't click with the voice of the main character and... well...  after everything that I have been reading lately (the word am going to use is "heavy") and all the news and awfulness in the world (I fear for humanity and am terrified for future generations), I decided very quickly to put it down and read something fun, silly and a beach/candy-floss read.

And this is ok. It's ok to go "You know what? I'm not in the right frame of mind for this. I still want to read this so, am going to put this on hold and read other things before I come back." And I am planning to go back to this before the year's out. Or I will try.

But this is on hold, for now. Now, to read fun stories and listen to music full blast while I do so!

Friday, 30 September 2016

Martin Stewart Talks Riverkeep

Today, I would like to welcome Martin Stewart to the Pewter Wolf!

Martin is the debut author of Riverkeep, a story that follows Wull who is dreading taking up the family role of Riverkeep, tending to the river and fishing out corpses. But one night, his father gets possessed by a dark spirit and Wull has to go downriver to find a cure. If he doesn't, he will lose his father forever...

Now, I am very lucky that people at Penguin asked if I wanted to read Riverkeep (which I plan to read in the depths of winter - this feels like a wintery read, with hot chocolate and a chill in the air. Trust me, am going to read this before the year is out!) and, because of me going "Hell yeah!", I somehow managed to get this piece for the blog about Riverkeep and what aspects of the story inspired Martin.

So, before I go any further, I must thank Martin for writing this. I know he has been busy and the last thing he needed was me and Clare at Penguin going "Fancy writing that blog post?". Also, I must thank Clare at Penguin for setting this up and thank you to Harriet for sending this to me!

Now, handing it over to Martin!

Monday, 22 August 2016

How I Live Now - Some Discussion Points

As you guys should know, I chaired/moderate a YA Book Club this Saturday just gone for the Southbank Centre, as part of their Festival of Love (and hopefully, they will continue to do this in the future. They are some great books coming out in YA and in crossover that will be great to discuss - not just do we like the book or not, but on bigger subjects such as race, sex, gender identity, feminism, mental health, what it means to be human, etc). As you know, this month's book was How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Now, I know most of you love this book and, if you have read my review yesterday, I strongly disliked it.

But what I found with this book (and last month's, I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson [review for I'll Give You The Sun is here and discussion points are here]) is that these books are rich with discussion! And because I am feeling kind, I thought I would, again, share some of my discussion points - yes, it's that bit at the end of some books that are super useful for books clubs.

Before I hand over some of my points, I just want to say thank you to the South Bank Centre for asking me to moderate the YA Book Club & the the people who came! Now, with that done, let's show some discussion!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Book Review - How I Live Now

Yesterday, I was at the South Bank Centre, moderating the YA Book Club (as part of their Festival of Love) and we were chatting about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Now, I finished this last Sunday and am writing this on Monday (15th August) but posting this now as I didn't want my review/reactions to affect people's who turned up to the club.

Daisy has been sent from New York to England to live with cousins she's never met before. But as soon as she gets there, she feels a strong connection: she feels home. More home than in New York. Summer becomes an Eden... until the bombs are dropped in London and war come crashing into her and her cousins's lives...

I must state something before I go further. I know this is some of you guys's favourite book and it is held with high regard with readers all over the world. I get that and I respect that. But this is my opinion.

I struggled. Very badly with this book. I found it hard work, hard going and I know that, if I wasn't reading this for the South Bank's YA Book Club, I would have stop, put it down and picked up something else. I didn't click with this story or this writing style.

I'm not giving up on Meg Rosoff. I have Beck by Mal Peet, which Meg completed when Mal died. So I am going to try her again, but in a smaller dose. But I'm not sold on her or this story.

I have a lot of issues and problems.

I didn't click with the writing style till a good 50 pages in (and this is a novella of 200 pages so around 25% of the book was me going 'Ok, I need to find my groove"), and not much happened in these 50-odd pages. It was slow and it felt slow throughout (even though it shouldn't due to the events that unfold). Plus, maybe because of my work patterns one the past few weeks, but there were one or two times I nearly fell asleep while reading! That's not a good sign!

But the writing style, I believe, is very marmite. You will either love it or you will hate it. I know people who love Meg's writing style so if the book has a saving grace, it's this.

I had huge problems with Daisy, our narrator and other characters. There was one or two characters I warmed to, but everyone else, I had huge issues with. I disliked Daisy with a passion - I believe she was meant to be written this way. But in books like these, I need to root for my main characters. Even if I dislike them, I have to cheer them on. This wasn't the case with Daisy. I keep putting down the book, shaking my head and cursing her. At one point in the book, I threw the book on the sofa and cursed "You stupid [enter two swear words here]!", giving my other half a scare as I very rarely swear and treat books with little care. Plus, there is an aspect of Daisy I felt was handled very poorly.

Another huge issue I had was Edmond and his relationship with Daisy. I had HUGE problems with this. They are cousin - first cousins, FYI - and age wise, he's 14 and she's 15. But their relationship grossed me out. I was warned about their relationship and I went in open-minded, but nope. BIG FAT NOPE! I have cousins and the idea of me having a relationship like Daisy's and Edmond's upsets and creeps me out no end!

The book reminded me of a book I read YEARS ago called Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsen, which I read back in 2011 (very early days of me book blogging! But if you feel brave, my review is here!). I remember liking it and I had books 2 and 3 at the time (not now, sadly), but I never continued with. Maybe I should go back... But these two books have very similar feels and ideas. However, I think I prefer Tomorrow When the War Began.

I know I sound like I am hating on this book. But I just didn't click with this story. It's just not my cuppa tea. I'm not saying you should avoid (I said that once. Not saying that again as I have grown and learnt better). If you want to read this, that's ok. Go for it! But if you don't want to read this, that's ok too. Every people is different and has different tastes, likes and dislikes.

And I just didn't like this. But I tried. And now, onwards to try another book!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Murder Month - Little Boy Blue

Second audiobook for the month of Murder May! I warned you guys on Twitter I was trying to work hard on this for the past few months! And because of this, I must thank Leanne from Midas PR for giving me this audiobook (via Audible) for review.

In this, the fifth DI Helen Grace series, DI Helen Grace and her team are called to investigate a murder at a BDSM club. It's obvious that this was't a sex game gone wrong. But when the victim is revealed to Helen, the case becomes too close to home and, hiding her connection to the victim, Helen must try and keep her head to investigate this case.

But with in-fighting between two of her officers, a boss that might have an unhealthy obsession with her, and a killer who seems to be one step ahead, can Helen solve this case? Or will this be her fall from grace?

Like I said in the previous paragraph, this is the fifth book in the series. A fact I didn't know this I was a good way into the story. And while you can read this as a standalone up to a point, this book does have connections to the previous books in the series so you might want to go back and start with Eeny Meeny and work your way through.

This story is a weird beast. There were elements of this I liked and elements I had serious problems with.

Let's start with the positives. This book was fast paced and moved at a good speed. The chapters are short - very James Patterson - and this felt like something was happening, even when you were going "Why are we reading about this?", even though you suspected that this was going to effect the ending of the book. It had a level of grit and it showed that the author worked hard to get details right and I haven't read a book that tackled BDSM before (it's always touched upon in some crime books I have read/watched but never tackled properly).

The negatives I will try and keep equally brief. I didn't like most of the characters and their attitudes. Most I felt didn't feel "right" and those that were, I felt were pure backstabbers - not something I felt would represent the Police in a respectable light. For example, there was one character who tried to do something to another (who fought back!). Later, out of pettiness, the first character decides to do something that could and will destroy the other character, and I found this unforgivable.

There were times I fear the story became predictable and if you are a seasoned crime reader, you might suspect where the plot might be going.

Also, I wasn't the biggest fan of the reader in this story. I'm not sure why - nothing wrong with Elizabeth Bower's reading. But I seem to prefer her when she was reading faster-paced scenes. When the pace slowed, I lost connection with the story.

But my main issue was that this book is a two-parter. The continuation of this story arc will go into the next book - Hide and Seek (out this coming September) - and I feel that this is a very cheap trick. Why wasn't these two stories written as one longer novel? And with the way this book ended, I can't see any way the author can undo the damage he's caused to his characters. I fear he might have boxed himself into a corner...

But, like I said before, I dived into this without knowing this was the fifth book in the series so I might be missing a trick that the author has pulled off in previous books...

If you are a fan of MJ Arlidge or the other DI Helen Grace books, you will devour this. Not come across this author before (barring Six Degrees of Assassination), I would say go back to the series start with Eeny Meenie and take it from there. But be warned, this series will not be everyone's cup of tea nor is it for the faint-hearted.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Book Review - Half Lost

As you guys are probably aware, I fell in love with this series last year. I became a little obsessed with it and, because I binge read the first 2 books and one eNovella, I fell into a book slump. So, yes... I had to get my hands on this, the final book in the series. I HAD TO!!! I was going to buy it, hunt it down and panic read. So, when the lovely Megan from Reading Away The Days tweeted that she had a copy and wanted to give it to someone, George of George Lester fame suggested me and I went on full on "I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER IF YOU GIVE ME THIS BOOK!" tweets. So, my huge thanks to George for suggesting me and a big thank you hug to Megan who I have probably scared with my tweets (and me asking questions about Sookie Stackhouse - it's a series I dip in and out of that I really want to investigate and read!)

After the devastating events at the end of Half Wild, Nathan is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has all but been destroyed, but they have a plan. They need Nathan to go talk to a witch called Ledger to get half of something that could help me take down Soul and his Council.

But war is war. And not everyone will survive.

I shouldn't have read this so soon after Frail Human Heart by Zoe Marriott. Reading two books which are the end of trilogies I love is too much for my poor heart.

But Half Lost. Ok, am saying this right now, but this book destroyed me. I forgot how much I love Sally Green's writing and I forgot how quickly I fell into this world. I had to force myself to read slow so I didn't power-read it! And this book... oh, this book did feels to my poor heart. It's a breathless read and there were moments I was holding my breath. Or moments where I was going "Nonononono!!!". (George knows this as I was DMing him on Twitter after I finished the book, SCREAMING IN CAP LOCK!!!)

There are some trilogies out there (am not going to name names) that should look at Half Lost as THIS is how you end a trilogy. This book gets it right on the money. I trust Sally Green (as you should with any author whose book you are reading - otherwise, why are you reading the book?) and Sally wrote Nathan's story her way - unflinching and never afraid to take the tough route - and I love her for that. I love how the book is raw, dark unflinching but has moments of softness, kindness and love (only to rip these moments into tiny pieces in front of your very eyes...)

This series is definitely a marmite read - you are either going to love it or you are going to hate it. I love it and I am already itching to reread the whole trilogy again. And I am watching Sally's Twitter feed for any news on her next project. But this trilogy... wow. Just wow.

Friday, 8 January 2016

T.R. Richmond Talks What She Left

I want to welcome T.R. Richmond to the blog today. T.R Richmond wrote the novel, What She Left, which have had people comparing it to Gone Girl on Goodreads and Amazon. The story starts with Alice Salmon, a young woman who died when returning to her university town one night.

But as Professor Cooke begins to look into Alice's life via her paper and internet trail, he begins to wonder...

To celebrate this book's US release (out next week, for those of you in the States), T.R Richmond has joined us to reveal why he wrote What She Left in the style that he has.

Before I hand it over to T.R. Richmond, I just want to say thank you to him for taking time out to write this post. I know how busy he must be, but thank you nevertheless.

I expect most people who read this blog, as well as loving traditional “paper” books, also have an electronic reading device. 


It’s not just how we read novels that’s changed in the last decade or so, however. The way we get our news and information has changed more in the last 10 years than it did in the previous 100.


Long gone are the days of keeping up with what’s going on in the world by taking one newspaper or catching one radio or TV news bulletin. The internet allows us to hear about local, national and global events in a host of ways from a multitude of sources. 


It's also true of how we communicate with friends, colleagues and loved ones. We interact in a variety of disparate, episodic methods. We text, email, tweet, blog, post on Facebook and use picture-sharing websites. So many ways, these days, to get in touch, stay in touch and to hear – and spread – news, views and information.
I wanted to reflect this in my novel, so rather than featuring one single narrative voice included multiple subjective accounts and snippets. My lead character was a 25-year-old woman who was part of the Facebook generation – it felt appropriate to tell her story in this way. 


Of course, it means readers have to do a bit of “join-the-dotting” (is that an actual expression?) as they piece together the story of Alice Salmon’s life and, ultimately, the mystery surrounding her death. But hopefully that’s the fun bit – they get to “play detective” as they sort fact from fiction, work out who to believe, and come to their own conclusions about what she was like and what she left. But this is actually no different to what we all do every day – we piece together news and the narratives of our own lives. 


As for why I opted for multiple first-person narrators, well, I’d always enjoyed this form (we’ve all read Gone Girl, right, and I’m currently watching a TV show called The Affair which also does it brilliantly). It feels like an “honest” approach because we all see things from our own perspective and are all, in fact, unreliable narrators of our own lives. I’m also a fan of epistolary novels (everything from Dracula to Bridget Jones) so was drawn to this format.
Ultimately, I wanted to explore how representative of us the traces we leave behind in this digital age are – because, more than at any point in history, we all leave a “footprint” nowadays. 


So this was the challenge I set myself – to write a suspense story that collated a life (and the circumstances of a death) from this footprint. In some ways, I wanted What She Left to feel like an unfolding news story, as well as a novel.


I might have set out with such motives, but when you get into the heart of a story, the characters take over. It not so much then about what I wanted – more about what they told me they were going to do. At times, it felt like I was doing a jigsaw puzzle, but that’s how life feels, isn’t it.


Writing What She Left highlighted to me how much I enjoy the digital world – it reminded me of its joys, its power and its omnipresence. That said, it’ll never replace that most old-fashioned and wonderful of things – face-to-face human contact. Just as electronic reading devices will never totally replace traditional books.

Friday, 13 November 2015

GoodRead - Half Truths

If you have been reading my blog since the beginning of this year, you know that I went through a bit of a blitz where I read Sally Green (the end of February and beginning of March, to be truthful) and, because of this, kinda fell into a reading slump (I say kinda, because I pulled myself out of it, but still!).

So yes, earlier this year, I became a little obsessed with this series. I admit it (Reactions to Half Bad, Half Wild and the eNovella prequel, Half Liesare on each title.), so when the news was revealed that there was going to be another eNovella, I preordered it without hesitation. I needed more from Sally Green.

Half Truths takes place just after Half Lies (so yes, this is another prequel) where we follow Gabriel from when he arrives in Switzerland, looking for help from the powerful Black Witch Mercury to when he meets Nathan in Half Bad (so it overlaps in a way).

Between Half Lies and Half Truths, I think I prefer Half Truths.

I'm not sure why. I don't think this novella really added anything to the series (but you never know - there was a character who I sense might pop up in Half Lost), expect it gives us an insight in what Gabriel was doing before he met Nathan and it shows that he had a life before Nathan. He met people and nearly fell in love with people before Nathan. It's nice to known stuff about Gabriel that Nathan doesn't know.

Half Truths didn't really add anything to the series, I think, but it's was a nice fast read that will tie me over till Half Lost...

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

What She Left - Alice Salmon's Diary

So, today is my turn on the What She Left blog tour! So, if you're following the tour for clues over what happened to Alice Salmon, hi! If you have no idea what What She Left is, let me fill you in.

What She Left by TR Richmond is a crime where Alice Salmon drowned last year. But who was she? Professor Jeremy Cooke finds him trying to piece it together via her diaries, her texts, the "Alice" she put online. But everyone has a secret to hide, even our professor. And we all know what happens with secrets... They have a habit of coming out...

As part of the tour, I have been given an extract of Alice's diary, written when she was 17. Does this hold clues to who she was? Does her Facebook hold any clues? Does the Professor's tumblr or his twitter? Go check them out at facebook.com/alice.salmon.52professorcooke.tumblr.com & twitter.com/ProfessorJCooke.

And now, to the diary...

Extract from Alice Salmon’s diary, 22 July 2003, age 17

BEST. DAY. EVER.
Met Josh in Starbucks then went to the park after going to his mum’s to collect Waggy who barks at everything but is dead soft. The three of us lay under the trees in the park at the top of East Hill and I told him I was pretty confident with English and History but German was a bummer and I needed it to get to uni. As well as being buff, Josh is a right brainiac, he’s doing Maths, Physics and Geography.
We kissed a bit but mostly we just chilled, me with my head on his chest and Waggy with his head on my leg. Josh said he really liked me and he really emphasised the ­really. Underlined and in italics, that’s how much, although he probably wouldn’t have underlined and italicised it, because that’s how my brain works – his operates more in terms of equations and numbers so I might have been something multiplied by something else or to the power of it (hot, hopefully, but I very much doubt it!)
Josh is going to build bridges to get rich, but he’s also gonna run a music business – not be some cynical producer who rinses artists, he’s going to work WITH new talent, even when he’s like 30. 
He said I could easily get an A* in German, it’s merely a case of applying myself and that he’d help me, all we need to do is break revision down into manageable bits, and even though we’ve only been dating six weeks that shows he’s deffo intending us to stay together because exams are ages off and he’s planning that far ahead.
‘Bite-size chunks,’ he said, rolling over and pretending to bite me and growling and that set Waggy off who raced after a squirrel and the sound of that crazy dog barking, us rolling around, the faint taste of ice cream and Josh pressing against me made me think: Is this love?
If I’d been 14, I’d probably be writing a poem now about the lack of need for words, full of cheesy metaphors and similes (smilies, Andrea Kirkpatrick called them once!) about Josh and I facing the sun and our futures together. It would have probably ended with a cliché about how far we could see from East Hill, but you can see for miles from there so I’m confused what the difference is between a fact and a cliché.
I read an interview with Rose Tremain and she said she first knew she had to write one summer’s day when she was a kid and walking through a hay field and realised she had to make the memory permanent. Mum said she wrote a book years ago (Rose Tremain did, not mum, she wouldn’t have time!) which was about a woman who wanted to be a man in East Anglia which must feel awful (being the wrong sex, not being in East Anglia, haha). If I’d been Rose Tremain, I wouldn’t have written the hay stuff, I’d have written about Waggy and my head on Josh’s chest, my thumb crooked in the gap between him and his jeans and the way he smells because it isn’t like boys. Certainly not like Robbie the skankaroo who always used to stink of sweat and food and noise.
‘Alice, how on earth can you smell like noise – you sound like a noise,’ my English teacher would have replied if I’d said that to him. ‘Deconstruct it,’ he’d tell me. ‘How do the words help you visualise it?’
‘Dry cracked clay,’ I’d say. ‘That’s what the bark of the tree in East Hill reminded me of.’
I suppose Josh and I are in a book of our own – this diary. Squillions of people have written diaries, but no one has done this one before, even if I haven’t put anything in it for about 100 years. I’d die if he ever read it, but there’s no point keeping a diary if you’re going to leave the juicy stuff out. Not being honest is lying and if you’re going to lie you might as well write Harry Potter, which is fantastic but not real. Keeping a diary and not writing the truth is like telling someone you love them if you don’t and why would you do that?
When I asked mum if she’d ever kept a diary she said she had once but binned it, which struck me as well OTT, and then she said ‘Angel, I remember every tiny detail of every single thing you’ve ever done’.
She’s in one of her moods at the moment, grouchy and flat, and Robbie’s up in Durham so I cop the brunt of it. I told her the other day that I couldn’t wait to move out and I mentioned what a good rep Southampton has and how Meg was interested in going there too and she went all weird. ‘We’ll support you wherever you go, Alice, but don’t focus solely on that place, please,’ she said, and the please was definitely underlined and in italics and bold too.
She likes Josh, but she did say he wouldn’t be the only man I like. Well I think I know my mind own mind, thank you very much. Just been looking at the photos of him on my phone and OMG he’s SO cute and SO mature. He looks like the sort of person you’d ask directions from, or if a double glazing salesman knocked at the door and he opened it they’d say ‘Can I interest you in double glazing, sir?’ rather than ‘Is your mum or dad in?’
His mum and dad are out on Friday night so I’m going over to his place. Am BRICKING myself, but am determined to write about you-know-what when it does happen. Maybe we’ll go back to East Hill on Saturday after we’ve done it, and it will be our place then – like, part of us, the smell of grass and the pink ice-cream van with STOP: Children on the back, and the way the bench feels cold and hard when you sit on it but after a while you don’t notice.
Better stop thinking about Friday or it’ll become such a big deal I’ll say something dumb or make myself sick on cider. It’s not like it’ll be Josh’s first time – not that he’s said as much but it’s so not because he went out with Sophie Sallis for, like, five years and even dated Emma Brown and she’s a right slag, but I reckon that’s good because if it was the first time for both of us we might get it wrong although they say it’s like how even if you’ve never been taught to swim and you fall in water, you swim.
I know it’s a posh word, but I had this kind of epiphany in the park. We were laying there staring up at the sky and even though I’m like one of those weird baby birds on Springwatch Josh told me I was beautiful and I had this zing of connectivity (that’s my word of this diary entry) with him and it struck me that this one thing, my life, was entirely mine, and I could do with it whatever I wanted. And realising that gave me a rush of happiness, a feeling of being more in control than I’d ever been, knowing that I didn’t have to take orders, go with the flow, pull myself together, calm down, cheer up, do my homework, stop complaining because there were a lot of girls who’d love my life, I could do whatever I liked, whatever I decided, and I put my hand in Josh’s pocket.
There were loads of them aeroplane trails zig-zagging across the sky and one that was amazingly clear, seriously that’s not just how I’m choosing to remember it, and we were totes transfixed and Josh went all poetic and said That’s for us.
‘I love it when we’re together,’ I replied.
He didn’t answer even though I’d deliberately said it was us being together I loved, not that I loved him. But the way he was, all cute and embarrassed and rubbing Waggy’s back, made me feel funny and I know I jabber when I’m nervous but then I did say I love you and he rubbed the dog a bit more, except the wrong way so its fur stood up and you could actually see the dog bit rather than the fur.
‘I’d kill myself if you ever dumped me,’ I said and I was joking, I didn’t even plan to say it, I only did it for effect because I’d been reading Virginia Woolf, but he looked all emo.
‘Don’t do that,’ he said after a pause, and I wasn’t sure whether he was referring to what I’d said or where my hand was, but then he said ‘I’d hate a world without you’ and I realised it was the first one, which made me want to keep my hand where it was longer even though it felt weird and I was a bit scared and Waggy knew something was going on because he was whimpering.
Maybe us on East Hill was a tiddly bit like Rose Tremain in the hay field. I wish you could read this, Ms Tremain – maybe I’ll send it to you, haha, and you’ll write back and say I’m clearly going to be the best journalist ever and I bet you’ve met loads because they all hang around together, the arty sorts, drinking in trendy clubs and eating in glam restaurants.
Then Waggy stole a scotch egg from a couple who were having a picnic so we headed off and had another snog outside my house even though was Dad was probably tutting behind the curtains like some prison guard and Josh said he couldn’t wait until Friday.
His exact words. I. CAN’T. WAIT.
I can’t, too.                                                                 
My life is finally beginning.

Monday, 2 March 2015

GoodRead - Half Wild

I finished this yesterday evening, and I had to sit and let it sink in before I dare consider writing this review.

After the events of Half Bad (not read my review or seen my 60 second review video for Bookish Brits? You know the drill), where Nathan meets his father so briefly, Nathan is a now a full adult witch. And still on the run from the White Witches.

He needs to find his friend, Gabriel, then try to save Annalise from the powerful Black Witch, Mercury. All the while, trying to control his Gift and watching as Soul O'Brien has taken control of the council of White Witches. War is coming as Soul is planning to take more control and is expanding his war against Black Witches into Europe.

War is coming. The question is, what will Nathan lose?

Right, I have to say this before I go any further. I loved Half Bad.  I LOVED IT SO MUCH! So much so that, within a very short space of time, I read the eNovella prequel and the sequel. THIS IS SUPER RARE FOR ME! I usually get excited and then have to wait a year for the next book, which gives me time to calm down and get my expectations to a nice level so I can enjoy and love the book.

Not this time. And because I LOVED Half Bad, I guessed that, while I'll love Half Wild, I won't love it as much... So I braced myself.

This is a very different book. It feels more brutal and bloody compared to Half Bad. If Half Bad was Harry Potter on acid, then I think Half Wild is Mockingjay on acid as well.

Both books have a feel that war is coming and the planning that goes behind war. But, unlike Mockingjay, which only took one book to look into the war, Half Wild throws us into war in the latter part of book 2 of her trilogy, leaving one more book to make all the heck hit the fan (not going to swear here!).

If you disagree with me, read the last 10 or so percent of this book and get back to me. This left me in a book coma all yesterday and today. And I start a new book amost immediately! DAMN YOU SALLY!!!

The writing in this is still very unique. It feels very Sally Green and I can't fault her in it. It's one the book's strongest points! And the way Sally is tackling the love triangle is interesting - it's there but it isn't the main focus. It's gently simmering in the background and I love that!

I still have a few tiny problems. One of them was Annalise. I can't help it with her. I keep thinking of her as Viola Davis in How To Get Away With Murder (love that show!) so I have to keep them serpeate. But I don't buy the relationship between her and Nathan (yes, this book converted me to the Nathan/Gabriel). I think it's because I was going "Nathan, are you really in love with Annalise? Do you love her because you love her? Or is it because, outside your family, she's the first White Witch who treated your like a human being rather than a experiment?"

But a worthy sequel. I can not wait for how Sally wraps this up (and we have to wait till next year. NEXT YEAR?! HOW AM I MEANT TO WAIT THAT LONG?!). Can I preorder it now or should I start begging Sally for book 3 now?


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

GoodRead - Half Lies

Like I said, I devoured Half Bad (review was up yesterday because of my mini-break with family - review is here), and without a rest-bite, I jumped straight into the eNovella prequel, Half Lies.

Gabriel and Michele is in a new and scary world. They understand that they are Black Witches so the world is cruel to them anyway, but with their mother dead and their father drowning himself with booze, the brother and sister are clinging to each other. They have to find their way when they move to Florida and when Michele begins to fall for a boy that could be seen as unsuitable. Soon, loyalty and love will be tested, but will Michele make a deadly mistake...?

Before I go any further, I have to state that even though this is a prequel, I would strongly advise to read this after Half Bad. I asked on Twitter if I should read this before or after Half Bad, and I was told strongly to read this after but I had to read it before Half Wild.

Now with that out of the way, I am going to be honest with you. I didn't love it as much as I loved Half Bad. I liked it, but there was something about this eNovella that I couldn't warm to and I'm not sure why...

Ok, let's say the good - Sally's writing style is excellent again with this. She write this story in Michele's diary with entries (and small notes written between Michele and Gabriel, showing that Gabriel reads his sister's diary and Michele knows it. I like it alot as it shows their connection and I enjoyed reading this side of the story).

But, like I said, there was something about this story that didn't make me fall in love with it. I didn't warm to the whole "Romeo & Juilet" vibe but this wasn' the problem. There was something about this story that I didn't like and I can't put my finger on what the problem is...

But I like it. Just not as much as Half Bad. But I think this has some importance (or some clue) over Gabriel when we meet him again in Half Wild... We shall see...

PS - A few days ago, the lovely Bookish Brits's Twitter asked what we/they should read next and this was the reply and this is an awesome reply and pin-points at an interesting view of the series at a whole...

Monday, 16 February 2015

GoodRead - Half Bad

I can imagine you all recoiling from me now. I can hear you all shouting "You've only just read Half Bad in the past few days?! YOU CALL YOURSELF A YA BOOK BLOGGER!". And yes, I have only just read and yes, I know I am late to the party but I was scared. The hype/buzz monster scared me and everytime I picked it up to read it, I was always worried over if I would like it and what would happen if I didn't...

Nathan will be seventeen soon. He is living in a cage; beaten, shackled and trapped in a modern London where White Witches and Black Witches are at war with each other. Nathan is a Half Code: White Witch mother and Black Witch father. An abomination. The only way Nathan is going to survive is he has to escape the White Witches, find his father, receive his three gifts and come into his powers. But when he knows that he can't trust anyone, can he keep those he do trust - his family, his friends, the girl he cares deeply for - safe? And if he can't, what then?

Before I go any further, the cover. Doesn't it remind anyone else of Lord Voldermort from the Harry Potter series? Yes, let's get the Harry Potter stuff out of the way first as EVERYONE seems to be comparing the two. Both books have witches and both are set in a world very similar to our own. But that's it. I can't see any other similarities.

Ok, the book. I loved it - it was like read Harry Potter but on acid (ok, last Harry Potter reference. Honest). . I became obsessed with this book when I was reading it. There was a day or two when I had to stop because I was becoming that obsessed with it. I felt scared that Sally Green's twitter feed would be of me going "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!"

But yes, I fell for it. I found the writing so unique and unlike anything I have ever read before. She jumped from first person to second person narrative and back again with such ease and I never found it jarring. The only other book I feel that wrote second person narrative brilliantly was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (and I LOVED that book!). So it's rare, but Sally nailed it!

I felt the world was strong and how Nathan saw the world was interesting. He saw it as harsh (hence why he wrote the characters quite flat, unless he cared deeply for them, then he gave them depth) and his need to find his father - the powerful Black Witch who kills without a moment's thought - interesting. He knew he was a bad/evil man and yet, his need to find and please him made Nathan complex.

Also, is it bad I shipped two characters even though THEY HAVE NEVER MET?! I'm sorry but Gabriel and Arran need to meet, fall madly in love, get married and adopted little Witch children. I will ship this, even if this doesn't happen!!!

The only negatives I think most people will have is Sally's writing on characters. Some characters are quite flat - but I think this is because if Nathan doesn't care for them, he sees them as quite flat, not a person to take qreat detail of.

Another small thing is his and Annalise's relationship. At times, I just didn't see it. I didn't feel happy with it and I couldn't put my finger on why. I think it might have been rushed or maybe Sally wants to have Nathan question himself and his sexuality throughout the course of the series (I read Nathan as straight, but if this is the route Sally is going to go down with Half Wild and the third book in the trilogy, I will be intrigued to see how sensitively she tackles this subject matter)...

But despite its flaws, I loved this book. So much so, I jumped straight into the eNovella prequel, Half Lies, without a moment's thought (and I requested Half Wild on NetGalley so I will be reading this in the next few weeks!). I sense I will become obsessed with this series...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

GoodRead - Life Before Legend

This was an accidental purchase! I feel I have to state this before I start this review. I didn't want to buy it! I wanted to read a sampler of it as I was, at the time, reading Legend at the time (review here, by the way) and I wanted to read a sampler in case of spoilers. Shouldn't have worried, though.

In this prequel, readers get a glimpse in Day's and June's everyday lives several year before the events of Legend took place and the two met. We see how, via some distance, their lives affected each other. The days in question is June's first day at Drake University and Day trying to survive on the streets.

Now, I am torn over this. I'm not sure if it's because I read it so soon after Legend or because I liked Marie Lu's writing style, but I did like slipping in and out of reading this novella. It was nice to see their lives BEFORE the events and the tiny hints of foreshadowing to the rest of the series. It's a good way to introduce yourself to Marie Lu's writing and the series if you haven't read the series and you want to know if you would like it. It was a good taster into this world.

However, I do have two big points I want to raise and one of which has NOTHING to do with the author but the publishers.

The first is me wondering what exactly was the point of this novella? It kinda didn't give us anything new. If anything, we see Day's first kiss (which wasn't as amazing as it sounds), his first act against the Republic (this could have gone more in depth) and June's relationship with her brother (again, this could have gone SO MUCH MORE in depth). But, if you think about this, we kinda go over these details (barring the first kiss) at the beginning of Legend, so you wonder why these points are so crucial?

My second point is price. If you know me, you know I have issues with pricing with eNovellas and it's not the author's fault. Some eNovellas's prices I agree with due to length, while others are priced ridiculously! We readers want our money's worth! And with Life Before Legend, I think the pricing is too high. For an eNovella that, according to Goodreads, is 38 pages long, it's £1.81. Which, when you compare to other eNovellas's page lengths and their prices (The Prince by Kiera Cass [64 pages] is 99p, Die For Her by Amy Plum [60 pages] is 99p & Radiant by Cynthia Hand [94 pages] is 99p), you have to wonder why, on this eNovella, the price is double but the length is shorter?

Fans of the series will enjoy this and I think if you want to start this series, you might want to check this out. But at that price, me thinks you should wait till a sale happens on your eReaders...

Thursday, 13 February 2014

GoodRead - Legend

You've guys have caught up with me and my reading. CURSE YOU WORK!!! So, looks like the next few weeks/months/FOREVER, you guys will get my reviews on books as soon as I have finished the book. 

So, Legend. Legend was actually chosen by my other half. After reading Throne of Glass (Review here, by the way), I asked him to choose my next read. I like it when I don't have to pick my next read, and I seemed to be in a weird book slump mood. Nothing excited me! So, I was going to ask Twitter, but other half took over. He demanded a few random books and then he would choose one. And he choose Legend because of the "shiny cover". 

In Los Angeles, Republic of America, there's a boy and a girl. Day and June. They haven't met. And why would they? Day is a criminal and June is the Government's prodigy. When the plague hits a member of his family, Day decides to break into a hospital for a cure. This sets off a chain of events in which June's brother is killed and she vows to find his murderer. And all the evidence is point to Day... 

I am going to admit this: I knew very little about this. I know that might sound weird, but all I knew was the vaguest details (the synopsis on book and on some reviews), it's a trilogy and it's a dystopia (something I haven't read in a while because... well, I got sick of dystopian books and needed time away). That's it. So, I went into this kinda blind. 

And you know what? I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed reading this. 

I got caught up in the world and the pacing was great once June and Day actually meet. Before that, I felt it was a bit slow, but once they met, it was like reading a thriller with the fastness and the chapter point-of-views going back and forth. I liked reading from both their point-of-views (that's rare, I think. To like both characters equally) so I never felt like I had to rush back to a character as the other was boring it. There was always something happening and that kept me turning pages. 

I admit this now, the first few chapters were a tad slow for my taste. I just wanted them to meet and I wanted the fireworks! I wanted see how it would happen and the fall-out. And the relationship - I'm not 100% certain that I buy it. It feels a bit like insta-love. But this is a trilogy, so Marie could explore this in the next two books (and with the film rights bought by the team that bought us the Twilight Saga, I think the movie's in safe hands). 

I am surprised how much I enjoyed the mad ride. I do hope I get to read the second book in the series, Prodigy, soon. Not sure when, but I did accidentally buy the "prequel" eNovella Life Before Legend (stupid iPhone! I wanted "Try A Sample", not "Buy Now"!) soon. Am oddly looking forward to seeing what these characters were like before the events of Legend