Thursday, 23 May 2019

Review: If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon


Angie has always wanted to travel. But at twenty-seven, she has barely stepped outside the small mining town where she was born. Instead, she discovers the world through stories told to her by passing travellers, dreaming that one day she'll see it all for herself.

When her grandmother passes away, leaving Angie with no remaining family, she is ready to start her own adventures. Then she finds a letter revealing the address of the father she never knew, and realises instantly where her journey must begin: Italy.
As Angie sets out to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will mysterious and reckless Italian Alessandro help guide the way?

Review: As always this novel from Paige Toon has some of my favourite elements that I love to read about. It has travel, it has romance and it has our main character finding a sense of independence-definitely the kind of things I like to read about. If you're thinking of picking up this novel looking for the usual kind of escapism that you normally find in a Paige Toon novel then you are definitely in the right place. This book has awesome scenes of Italy., the food the fun and the awesome scenery. I loved being in Denver and being transported from the snow away and into the warm sunshine of Ital. 

Angie is an interesting character and it took me a while to work her out. I couldn't decide whether she was independent or not. I think she has been the big fish in her little world and now she has been thrown into the big bad world in another country for that matter, she does seem to flounder a little initially. I like the premise behind the fact that she hasn't really travelled and hasn't really left her comfort zone and now she REALLY has. I loved her sense of adventure and also her fearlessness. She chases what she wants even if that means facing her fears. 

The two male characters in this novel were definitely less easy to warm to. I initially got them confused with each other I think this might have been because I was listening on audiobook and I would have been better acquainted with them had I seen them written down.  Alessandro seems like a bad boy and don't get me wrong I love to read about a rebel without a cause but I sometimes felt like he might be just a bit too much of a risk for our Angie. 

There are plenty of moments in this book that will give you that same adventurous thrill that Angie is feeling, there are also romantic moments and a little bit of heartbreak. I loved escaping to Italy with Angie and I liked the personal journey that she went on as the novel progressed. Another wonderful dose of escapism from Paige Toon!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Guest Review: Heavenfield: A DCI Ryan Mystery by L J Ross

The hunter becomes the hunted…

When a man is found dead at the remote church of Heavenfield, DCI Ryan is the only other person for miles around. The police have no weapon, no motive and no other suspects.

Already suspended from Northumbria CID, Ryan must fight to clear his name. But soon, more than his career is at stake when prominent members of the mysterious ‘Circle’ begin to die. Somebody wants Ryan’s name to be next on the coroner’s list and to survive he must unmask the devil who walks among them – before it is too late. 

Unfortunately for Ryan, the devil looks just like everybody else…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit from LJ Ross, set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape. 

This is the third book in the DCI Ryan mysteries series from this author. Having read the first two books in the series, I was keen to find out what was happening to DCI Ryan and his colleagues following the dramatic events at the end of the previous story, Sycamore Gap. Once again, I would not recommend this as a stand-alone novel; it very much carries on from the first two in the series and frequent mention is made of characters and incidents in these books. As I found with the previous books, I was completely hooked by this story from the very first page and was eager to return to it at each sitting.

This story finds DCI Ryan in deep trouble when a man is found murdered in the ancient and remote Heavenfield church deep in the Northumbrian countryside. Suspicion immediately falls on him as he is the only person in the vicinity at the time; his superior officer sees this as an ideal opportunity to get rid of him. The ensuing investigation soon becomes complicated by several other murders involving suspected members of the mysterious ‘circle’ of Satan worshippers that Ryan and his team have been looking into since the initial events on Holy Island. As one death follows another, the reader wonders who will be next and, indeed,  who can be trusted.

I thoroughly enjoyed this third book in the series. It is always good to meet up with familiar faces and learn a little more about them. DCI Ryan is an interesting character with his gruff exterior and soft centre; you really wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of the law in one of his investigations. In this particular story, I once again found myself worrying for all of his loyal team, and also his girlfriend Anna, as someone was methodically disposing of members of the murderous ‘circle’ and anyone else who got in their way. Ryan knows that he must find the leader of the group but this is complicated by the fact that that person could be just about anyone; their evil seems to have penetrated the whole police force. The book has been skilfully written, with clues leading the reader as well as the investigators down many dead ends in an attempt to identify the guilty parties, danger lurking round every corner. As light relief from the tense investigation, there are also moments of humour and romance within the story. I highly recommend this book as a fast moving murder mystery, but definitely suggest reading the first two books in the series first.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch 21/5/19

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Now I'm not normally the kind of person that won't lend their books out. There have only been a couple of occasions where a book has come back damaged or hasn't come back at all (and I just don't speak to those people anymore) so this list doesn't really have anything on it... BUT I do have some books that are very very special to me because the author who signed it is no longer with us, they are annotated by the author or they are a special edition of some kind so here are some books that are special to me...

This one has a cool dedication in and I loved the event where I got it signed!

My copy of this one has a really cool dedication in...

This was my first signed copy of a Lindsey Kelk book (I think)

I was just so so excited to meet these authors finally!

Laura Dockrill annotated the first couple of pages of this one!

I have a numbered proof of this one

I am in this one

I am also in this one

 I have a couple of special edition of this one!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Bout of Books Wrap Up & Day 7 Update

Day 7 was a great day for reading because I basically just sat down and dived into a book I received in the mail and is one of my most anticipated books so that's all good. I also got some gym time in so I started a new audiobook. I knew I was going to be able to finish this one but I was really wanting to start it either way and it meant I could carry on reading-yey! I also did today's instagram challenge and my vlog of the week will be up on my booktube channel next week!

I read all of this book (and loved it) it was 400 pages. 

This is the audiobook I started. I read 119 pages and I will continue it today.

Books I Read this Week

This week has been a blast. I did all the challenges except the emoji challenge, remembered to link up all but one of my blog updates. Did an update every day and joined in both Twitter chats. As a bout of books expert I also hosted some twitter reading sprints on Friday/Saturday/Sunday and those helped me get a sprint on in my own reading. 

Here are the books i read this week with their page count....

Audiobook: 400 pages

Audiobook: 369 pages

Ebook: 144 pages

Audiobook: 384 pages

Hardcover: 32 pages

Hardcover: 32 Pages

Audiobook: 400 pages

Paperback: 400 pages

Audiobook: 400 pages

Hardcover: 384 pages

Paperback: 400 pages

Part Books

Ebook: 118 pages

Pages Read Today: 518

Pages Read This Week: 3463

Complete Books Finished: 11

Part Books Finished: 1

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Bout of Books Day 6 Update & Day 7 Challenge

Today was always going to be a good reading day because I had nothing else to do but read. I took a break in the evening for dinner and to watch Saturday Night Live so missed out on about 3 hours of reading time then but I got straight back into it again once we had eaten. I had to get up by 9am because that's when the bout of books chat was happening over on Twitter so I knew I would get a good start on reading for the day, listening to my audiobook whilst joining in the chat. I drank plenty of coffee and water, had snacks to hand and just had a great reading day. I also ran some sprints over on Twitter so that definitely helped keep me on track although I was so absorbed in my book I missed the end of one of them!

Today's Challenge

Today's challenge is to stretch your goals. Now I have already kind of met and surpassed my goals. I always have books on my TBR that seem unattainable because I like to have a bank of reading to choose from but I really feel like I've got another book in me today, I feel like i can start and finish Messy Wonderful Us because I am so excited to read it. I also might be able to start a new audiobook whilst I go for a walk and get my steps in but I'm not going to push myself to finish it because I really want to read Messy Wonderful Us and it is 400 pages so... let me know in the comments what your reading goals are today!

Reading Update

Yep I just spent the day with Lindsey Kelk today. I listened to the audiobook of I Heart Forever which was 400 pages before moving on to...

I Heart Hawaii which was also 400 pages and was just so good. It was emotional because there was lots of nostalgia in it and it was the last in the series but it had all the classic I heart Features, my review will be up very very soon!

Pages Read Today: 800

Pages Read This Week: 2923

Complete Books Finished: 10

Movie Reviews: May 12th-18th 2019

Another Sunday, another lot of movie reviews. As always, I go into more detailed thoughts on my movie reviews video over on my BookTube channel which I will leave at the bottom of this post once it is live so if you want a little more detail, give that a watch please and thank you!

This one I liked but didn't love. It provided some laughs but not loads of them and so I would wait and watch this one when it comes to streaming or rental if I were you. 

Oh my goodness I loved this. This is the filming of the recording of Aretha Franklin's album Amazing Grace and the footage has been locked away since 1972 basically because the original director did such a bad job of it it couldn't be used. It felt like you were witnessing something really privileged and was just great to to watch. 

Not my usual kind of film but it was playing in Dolby and you know I love that format. I had also seen some good reviews from other people who had been to see it despite it not being their usual kind of film. I laughed more at this one than I did at the first film and I really and truly believed the peril these characters were facing. I definitely recommend!

Unfortunately I was really disappointed in this one. I made a book vs movie video about it will which will be up on my channel on Tuesday 21st May 2019 so you can see my thoughts on how it compares to the book that I loved. It felt like really lazy film making, cut out some of my favourite bits of the film and was really oddly shot. Things would often be out of focus and there was an overuse of cutting away to scenes of New York which would slowly slant while music played and just made me feel a bit sick. It would have been better without those weird musical interludes and would also have saved the film about 20 minutes making it a much shorter and more watchable movie!

As always, leave me a comment if there is anything in particular you would like me to go and watch in the cinema and share my thoughts on here with you-always happy to go and watch on demand!

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Bout of Books Day 5 Update & Day 6 Challenge

Today was some good reading time in the morning and the evening. I tired hosting some sprints in the morning (around lunch time) as well. I was going to do some more in the evening but when I got back from the movie I was so tired I just wanted to finish the last few pages of Sweetie before falling asleep-it's been a busy week. Can you believe that today is the penultimate day of the readathon?

Today's Challenge

Today's challenge is to share the love so some favourites from the readathon. I want to share my love for this readathon it is just such a great time for reading and for connecting with others. It has majorly helped me get through my TBR so many times, I feel like it has been there for me. I love the chats and I love the challenges and I also love that it comes 3 times a year because I need to know that I can have a good old reading binge during those weeks of the year. I hope if you haven't taken part this time that you'll consider taking part next time because it really is amazing!

Reading Update

Not a bookish update but I did see the movie of this one today-I have a book vs movie video going up on my channel next week!

I finished the other half of this one on audiobook-the other 200 pages.  

I finished this one today-the remaining 144 pages! Review will be coming soon!

Pages Read Today: 344

Pages Read This Week: 2123

Complete Books Finished: 8

Friday, 17 May 2019

Bout of Books Day 4 Update & Day 5 Challenge

Today was less of a reading-y day than the others have been so far this week. I had book group until 11 then I saw a movie at 11, then it was time for work and then I came home and went to the gym before going out for doughnuts! So not a whole lot of reading time. I did do the instagram challenge and I did do some reading sprints before bed, I'm hoping to do some more tomorrow-yey!

Today's Challenge

Today Bout of Books wants to know who my favourite hero or villain is. This is a tough one because I don't read a lot of books with your traditional hero or villain in... I did love the Narnia books as a child though and I absolutely loved Prince Caspian, like wanted to be with him loved him so he could be an excellent hero. And then in terms of a villain, I really like the hate to love trope in YA romance so all those people who we didn't like at the start of the book and then we are cheering them on to get together with the protagonist by the end-that!

Reading Update

I finished this one today (and then immediately saw the trailer for the movie when I got into the cinema) so now I'm all ready to watch the film! I literally only had an hour of this left which equates to 48 pages. 

My pre-order of this one landed in my Audible app-yey! I listened to half of this one which equates to 200 pages. I hope to finish this today. 

I didn't get a whole lot of physical book reading time today due to going to book group then a movie and then work and gym. I did an hour of reading sprints over on twitter though and managed to read another 67 pages.

Pages Read Today: 315

Pages Read This Week: 1779

Complete Books Finished: 6

Blog Tour: Interview with Claire Legrand Author of Kingsbane

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Kingsbane, the sequel to Furyborn by Claire Legrand. This is the second book in the Empirium Trilogy and comes out on the 21st May. I have an interview with Claire today and if you like the sound of what she has to say or the synopsis of the book below, you can click here to order your copy now! Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews...

Here's what it's all about: 

The anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller Furyborn!
Two queens, separated by thousands of years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength―and their hearts.
Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien―but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.
Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity's long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption―fear of becoming another Rielle―keeps Eliana's power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted―by embracing her mother's power, or rejecting it forever. 

Thank you so much to Claire for stopping by today to answer some of my burning questions...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I wrote all the time when I was a child. Even from an early age, I loved listening to film scores and coming up with stories inspired by music (which I how I still tend to brainstorm ideas!). I especially loved writing (and reading) stories about horses and unicorns. I always answered with “writer” when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, but it wasn’t until college that I started writing seriously, with the goal of getting published.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

I do write full-time, in that writing—and everything that comes with it—is a full-time job. However, I also have a master’s degree in library science, and currently I work part-time at a public library. Many people are shocked when they learn how little authors make, and that even bestselling authors often have to supplement their writing income with another career or side-hustle.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?

When it comes to what kind of books I prefer to read, I love darkly fantastical stories about complex female characters, told through atmospheric, lyrical prose. And it just so happens that those are the kinds of stories I prefer to write, as well!

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

I spend a lot of time thinking about a story and its characters before I ever begin writing. That long, slow brainstorming period allows me to get to know my characters organically as I take my time to develop their story. And then, of course, I get to know them even better during drafting and again during revisions. It’s an ongoing and lengthy process.

Some of my characters are inspired by real people, particularly in my middle grade novel Some Kind of Happiness, much of which was inspired by my childhood and my cousins.

What was the inspiration behind the Empirium trilogy?

When I was eighteen years old, I had just graduated from high school and was flying home from a family vacation. While daydreaming, and listening to Howard Shore’s score for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, I had a vision of a powerful young woman surrounded by fire and quite obviously about to make a terrible and profound decision. I was immediately arrested by the image of this woman and started asking myself questions about her. As I answered those questions, the character of Rielle Dardenne was born, and the rest of the trilogy grew around her.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

As previously mentioned, I spend a lot of time brainstorming a story—through music, daydreams, and art—before I ever sit down to begin writing. Once I’m ready to start writing the first draft, I put together an outline that covers what I think will be the major plot points of the story. Some of my outlines are more detailed than others, and once I feel like I have enough outlined material to get started, I begin writing. What I came up with during the outlining stage always changes as I get into the actual writing, which is sometimes frustrating, since sometimes I have to stop, regroup, and rethink my outline while drafting. But without that outline to help me get started, the blank page is way too terrifying for me, so I’ve learned to accept my somewhat messy and roundabout process.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

You can learn a lot about me through reading my writing. I write to create stories that readers will love, yes, but I also write for me—to understand myself and understand the world around me. By reading my books, you can therefore see a lot of my fears, desires, questions, and beliefs reflected in my writing.

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing this trilogy?

This trilogy had been in the works for fourteen years before it was published. During that time, I did a lot of work planning the story, developing the characters, and building the world, but I didn’t conduct a lot of what you might think of as “research.” I do, however, frequently revisit my favourite action scenes from films and television shows to help me engineer and execute the numerous action-packed scenes in the Empirium Trilogy.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

I try not to seek out reviews. Reviews aren’t for me; they’re for readers. I don’t get on Goodreads, nor do I seek out reviews by searching for my name or my books’ titles on social media. I listen to my agent, my editors, and my trusted author colleagues. Their helps me untangle plot knots and guides me when I need guidance. Other than that, it’s about keeping my head down, practising my craft, and reading as many books as possible.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing? 
I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a huge network of supportive friends and family. They cheer me on, comfort me when the publishing world kicks me in the shins, and are so excited every time a new book hits the shelves. I couldn’t do this without their love and encouragement.
How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

Kingsbane will be my eighth published novel, so I’ve done this a few times by now and am therefore feeling pretty calm. I’m incredibly proud of this book—and this trilogy overall—and am so excited for people to read it!

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

A few authors who inspire me are Kristin Cashore, Philip Pullman, Frances Hardinge, Libba Bray, A. S. King, Karen Russell, Lindsay Eagar, Corey Ann Haydu, Lauren Groff, Elana K. Arnold, and Naomi Novik. I’ve also recently devoured my first Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie novel—Americanah—and fell head over heels for her writing.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

A young adult horror novel and the third book in the Empirium Trilogy!

Thanks again to Claire for stopping by the blog today and remember to check out the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

To pre-order your copy of Kingsbane, just click the link: UK or US

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Bout of Books Day 3 Update & Day 4 Challenge

So yesterday felt like a good reading day in that I read when I could and I enjoyed what I read, I actually completely forgot to do the challenge-how funny is that? So I might try and stick it up on Twitter today IF i remember-oh dear!

I didn't finish anything I started on Tuesday but I did start something new and I did read 2 picture books so that's awesome!

Today's challenge

For today's challenge, I have to pick a book, author, or trope (or whatever!) from my TBR and suggest similar books.

So if you like this...

You'll like this...

So if you like this...

You'll like this...

So if you like this...

You'll like this...

So if you like this...

You'll like this...

Reading Update

We read this at the library during Learning on the go-it was 32 pages. 

We also read this one, I really liked this one as would happily read it again. It was also 32 pages. 

I am listening to the audiobook of this one ready to go and see the movie on Friday. (I seem to be doing a few rereads this week which I am happy about) I read  336 pages of this one, as calculated through number of hours listened vs number of hours left!

And then of course I read some more of this one. I have listened to the previous 2 on audiobook so it is fun actually doing the physical book this time. I read up to page 167 so another 73 pages of this. I am loving it and hope to finish it today. 

Pages Read Today: 473 (1 less than yesterday!)

Pages Read This Week: 1464

Complete Books Finished: 5