Eren Blog Tour 2014

I am very excited to be part of the Eren blog tour-check out my review on the 2nd October!

Bookseller Recommendations-Old Favourites

Working as a bookseller for almost ten years over the years there were a range of books I recommended to customers over and over again. Many customers who are avid readers are always looking for recommendations and keep coming back based on books recommended to them by booksellers. I wanted to share with you today some of the books I must have recommended a thousand times and more often than not customers really enjoyed them.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

This book was recommended to me by a fellow bookseller years ago and I have to be honest and say it wouldn't have been something I would pick up myself. Historical fiction is not necessarily my favourite genre, although I have read a few fantastic historical fiction novels, but this story is just brilliant. The main reason I would recommend this book is the HUGE twist part way through. I love a clever twist, and this book has just that. The characters are incredibly well written and it gives a real insight into life in 1862 in London for those who have to steal to survive.If you haven't read this, do yourself a favour and give it a read.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The story is written in such an understated way that it slowly dawns on the reader what the story is actually about and I love that it is written this way. It is written in a very classic way about a subject matter which belongs in science fiction. It isn't a read which will fill your spirits, but it gives a very clear reality of how the characters feel and how their lives are controlled from childhood. A very sad, yet interesting read and so different to Kazuo's other novels in terms of subject matter. I would also say that the movie isn't so bad, but given the choice, read the book over the movie every day of the week.

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

A well loved novel, this has brought most of my friends to tears by the end of the novel. I do know some have given up reading this part way through as the shifts in time can be confusing. The advice I always tell people is to try to read it from the wife's point of view as this makes it easier to cope with the shifts in time by the husband. Although the subject matter would be classed as science fiction, it is ultimately a love story that is written so uniquely, it is a must read in my opinion.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (YA)

If you have read If I Stay and enjoyed that, then you will love this novel. I actually prefer this.Popular girl Sam lives the same day over and over "Groundhog day style" of the day she is fatally killed in a car accident. As she relives this day over and over she starts to realise that she wasn't a very nice person and throughout the novel she learns her mistakes and ultimately fixes them before passing on. Whilst the subject matter is a sad tragic event, the way the story is written is so interesting and moving, and highlights how easy it is to be self-absorbed, especially as a teenager. Get your tissues at the ready for this one.

In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

Firstly, do not read this book if you dislike reading about hard core violence, but if you can put that to one side just for this book, I would highly recommend it.( I struggled, but it was worth it) It is one of those books where you aren't sure what to believe and the truth is so shocking and awful, it really packs a huge punch.Kenji is the main character hired to show an American tourist Frank, around Tokyo. Kenji starts to think Frank may be something rather sinister, but frankly Kenji is not the most upstanding of people, so his thoughts are not necessarily to be entertained...There is an awful shocking scene midway through, totally out of the blue, and whilst I had to skim read the details, it is such a unique novel, short, full of punches and will leave you feeling like you need a lie down. I still recommend reading it though..

New Book Releases I Can't Wait To Read-FALL 2014

As we are now in September the arrival of a delude of new book releases has begun, each vying for the Christmas book buying market. The run up to Christmas is a huge time for publishers, authors and booksellers as people not only buy books for themselves but also for gifts for others. There are lots of fantastic books coming out in the next few months from very popular authors and below I wanted to list just a few of the books I am very excited to read and would make great gifts for I won't say it!

September 2014

Day 21 by Kass Morgan-Released September 16th
The sequel to 'The 100' which is now a hit TV series as well. Great novels, full of twists and turns, a good sci-fi novel for teens featuring teens( including some very evil ones...)
Sunrise by Victoria Hislop-Released September 25th.
The new release from bestselling author Hislop set in Formagusta in Cyprus as the war between Turkey and Greece cause destruction to the resort and to the people of Cyprus.
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion-Released September 25th The follow up to The Rosie Project, an essential read for lover's of the first novel.
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide-PB released September 25th I love Japanese fiction and this looks to be a very interesting read where a mystery cat brings love and life back into an unhappy couples lives in Tokyo.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld-Released September 25th I have been a huge fan of the 'Uglies' series by Westerfeld for many years and I can't wait to read this new novel from the Australian author.

October/November/December 2014

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick-Released October 7th. I am a huge fan of the Hush Hush series by Becca and I am sure I will like this novel too which is a 'romantic thriller'.
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty-Released 23rd October. I really enjoyed The Husband's Secret and Little Lies, by Liane.This should also be a corker!
The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes-Released 6th November. I have never been a 'chick-lit' fan, but Marian's novels are so well written, clever, sad and funny that I always look forward to a new novel by the lovely lady.
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny-Released November 6th. My mother is a massive fan of Louise Penny, so she will also be very excited about her new crime thriller release.
MELT by Selene Castrovilla-Released November 6th.Marketed as a 'brutal love story' set against the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz, this looks intriguing to say the least.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant- Released December 9th. A new coming of age novel about  family, friendship and feminsim from the best selling author of The Red Tent.Can't wait.

Which novels are you excited to read this winter?

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

I must admit that I haven't read any of Karen Joy Fowler's previous novels, but was drawn to this one for some reason. I didn't know what it was about, but I had read on social media that a few people I knew really enjoyed it. I won't be revealing the twist or too much of the story but I do have to say that after reading about two quarters of the novel I had to stop for the evening as I was absolutely heartbroken and so upset. Animal lovers be prepared for tears!

What is the novel about?

Firstly I would say that this novel is very unique, both the subject matter and the way in which it is written are different to the norm. Whilst it is written extremely well, with humour and with heart, I sometimes found the back and forth nature of the timeline could be slightly confusing. The novel starts with the middle of the story. Rose is at University and she tells us that both her sister and brother have left the family and she feels like an only child. She tells us about her life at the University culminating in her being arrested mistakenly after another girl goes crazy in the canteen smashing everything up. She tells us about what happened when she was five, she was sent to live with her Grandparents and she thought she would never live with her family again, and when she returned to the family three weeks later, her sister Fern was gone and not long after, her brother Lowell left.

The Twist

The twist happens quite near the beginning of the book, probably about a quarter of the way through. Needless to say, I will not say what that is, but it absolutely changes the novel entirely. Rose explains about what happened before she was sent to her Grandparents and the general issue of memory, whether it can be trusted, whether our memories tell us the whole picture, or are we in fact hiding things even from ourselves? There is a lot of physiological theories discussed within the novel, both because of the twist and also because in the novel, Rose's father is a phycologist so it has always been part of her life.After we learn about some of her early childhood, we go back and forth somewhat until the end, which is the age Rose is now as she narrates the story to us.

The characters

Rose is the narrator of the novel and she talks to us as readers, which I really enjoyed and she could be very witty and clever, At University she shares a flat with her friend Todd, but generally finds it very hard to make friends.She makes a sort of friend in the crazy girl who smashed up the canteen, Harlow, who takes Rose drinking and gives her drugs and gets her arrested twice! But, really Rose finds it hard to conform to society as she is not being herself which is revealed as the book progresses. Her parents are in the background for the most part , but we learn more about their pain and suffering as the novel goes on. Her brother and sister Fern are also huge parts of the story, in a number of ways and covering a number of themes and issues.

In conclusion, without revealing too much, I would certainly recommend reading this if you are a book lover. it is very well written, very unique and heartbreaking at the same time.

Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer (YA) Review

Lingering Echoes is a novel dealing with a range of issues, which I believe it handles really well, especially for a young adult novel. It tells the story of Allie, who is spending her last summer before college at Hidden Pines with her father, step-mother and step-brother.

What is the story about?

Allie lost her cousin, nine year old Maddie the year before at Hidden Pines during an accident on the river. She is still coming to terms with this and feels immense guilt that she couldn't save her cousin. She has built up a wall and won't let anyone in,  spending her time alone running, always running. Then her mother and father decide it would be a good idea for her to return to Hidden Pines for the summer so that hopefully she can start to deal with the accident and open up about what really happened. She has made a few new friends, although her relationship with her step-brother Nick is tenuous to say the least. One night they hear a ghost story about a house nearby, where the son of the family killed his parents and sister in a fire. They visit the burned out house and realise the ghost story could actually be true. Allie meanwhile realises that someone is following her, Damien. When he finally introduces himself she feels an instant connection with him, although he seems like a 'bad boy'. He helps Allie to get back in the water and feel comfortable and unafraid and their bond grows stronger until she learns a devastating secret about him. But is is really true?

My thoughts (••••spoiler alert•••••)

Although for about the first half of the book I did enjoy it, I also found it to be very predictable. After the 'ghost story', I knew that Damien would be the son who people thought killed his family. It was also very obvious  that he was the one who saved her during the accident at the river the summer before. I also knew that Aaron liked Allie in the romantic sense, presenting the reader with the 'bad boy' versus the 'good boy'  scenario (Twilight anyone?) I certainly didn't see the gang/guns part happening. It almost felt like I was reading a different novel once it switched to Damien's story. I didn't really enjoy that part as it didn't really fit in with the novel so far and was quite traumatic to read! I also felt sorry for poor Arron who was a lovely person and had shot someone to save Allie's life. He was just given a standard 'you will always be important to me' speech by Allie before she went off with Damien. Harsh.

I really like the setting of the novel and could imagine exactly what Hidden Pines looked like with the lake, the cabins and beaches. The weather and the rain played a key part in tying in with Allie's emotions. The weather would turn stormy and wet during dramatic scenes and I thought this added impact to the story and to Allie's pain. I didn't always find Allie to be the most appealing of narrators's as she very quickly changed from brattish, childish, sullen, to chatty, happy and friendly. I did like Damien, Brooke and Arron though and I think overall, its a good novel for young teens, it is very readable and has a good love story. Who doesn't like a good love story eh?

Published-4th January 2014
Publisher-Clean Teen Publishing

A Few of My Favourite YA Fantasy Trilogies/Series

I have always been a huge fan of young adult fiction and I am certainly not a young adult anymore. Many popular "young adult' series can also be found in the adult fiction/ sci-fi sections with different, more 'grown-up' covers. Remember the Harry Potter adult editions? Same books, black dull covers. But if it it makes us 'oldies' feel less embarrassed to be reading children's books, then why not. But I am not, embarrassed that is! I embrace my inner teen, plus just because the protagonist and main characters may be children, that doesn't mean the story isn't a great read for all ages.

Below I wanted to list some of my favourite YA Fantasy series so far, by no means are these my only favourites, I have many, but here are just a few;

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights (Bk1)
The Subtle Knife (Bk2)
The Amber Spyglass (Bk3)

I adore these books following Lyra and Will on their adventures in many 'other worlds' or 'multiverses'.There are many themes in the book including religion, science and the embodiment of the soul called a 'Daemon' which is a physical animal which stays with you and is an animal in form. Who didn't want their very own daemon after reading the trilogy? A fantastic trilogy, clever, well written, magical, good versus evil and so much more. I am not going even mention the film-my advice-ditch the film and read the books, you won't regret it, adult or child.

Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix

Sabriel (1)
Lirael (2)
Abhorsen (3)

Featuring black magic, powerful sorcerers, the undead, necromancers and much more. Entirely set in a fantasy land made up of two waring countries, we follow Sabriel in to the scary underworld as she battles evil. She must enter death to try to save herself and her father and battle a growing evil entity called Kerrigor. I read this trilogy a number of years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For those not into or used to fantasy books it is a great way to get into the fantasy genre and the story is so interesting, scary and complex, you will completely forget that these dark and dangerous worlds do not exist. Garth Nix is a great writer, has written a number of other books and series and I am a big fan of all his work.

Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go (1)
The Ask and the Answer (2)
Monsters of Men (3)

I always tell everyone to read this trilogy, they cover so many issues, so many emotions and are incredibly well written. The books take place on a planet called 'New World' initially in a town called 'Pretisstown'. In this town there are only men and the reason for this is because the Spackle, the indigenous species of "New World'. There are no females because there was a devastating war with the Spackles and they killed all the women, or so they say. Another interesting thing about this man only town is that they have the 'Noise' so once they become of age they can hear the thoughts of each other and all other living species. The main protagonist initially is Todd and his talking dog, he is about to come of age when he learns a devastating secret about the town he grow up in and runs away. Along the way he meets the other main protagonist Viola. They stay together to fight the evil which is about to unleash war on New World. These books are just fantastic, the first book will always be my favourite, and the books get more and more dark and violent and upsetting as they go on. Definitely one of my favourite trilogies ever.

Tales of The Otori by Lian Hearn (Gillian Rubenstein)

Across the Nightingale Floor (1)
Grass for His Pillow (2)
Brilliance of the Moon (3)

Sequal-The Harsh Cry of The Heron
Prequel-Heaven's Net is Wide

Set in a fictional version of Japan, the novel follows  Takeo who is trying to avenge his adopted father and fight against his real father who is a member of 'The Tribe'. Takeo initially lives as an outcast with others who are called the 'Hidden'. All three countries persecute the 'Hidden' for their beliefs. One day warriors break into the village and destroy it, thus beginning Takeo's removal from the village where he is then trained to be a warrior in the Otori clan by Otori Shigeru. Takeo has many issues to contend with and must decide what to do when a devastating event unfolds. He must also try to be with the woman he loves and marry her whilst battles, wars and murder are all around him. I must admit that I probably wouldn't have read this series if I thought it was all about warriors and fighting, but it is so much more than this. The novels are incredibly addictive, beautifully written, the characters are so well rounded and vivid and the story twists and turns in so many unexpected directions. Although the subject matter is being a warrior, fighting etc the story is more so about love, loss, revenge, making the right decisions which we can all connect with in some way. Highly recommended series.

Some more favourites;

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer ( I still have a soft spot for the first book)
House of Night series by PC and Kristen Cast
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver ( I loved this series)
Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld ( Plastic surgery gone crazy-brilliant series)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth Series by Carrie Ryan (A fantastic zombie series)
The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner (Great if you enjoyed The Hunger Games)

Review-The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson

This title is being marketed as something like The Lovely Bones, which I have to admit did make me read it above the million and one other books I have waiting.I wasn't sure what to expect from his book, but I found it to be one of those books that takes up a special place in your heart. It is beautifully written and so atmospheric, when I was reading the book I was there in the story 100%. It is hard to describe what exactly makes this book so special, but I certainly believe that the descriptions of the area of Door County and the descriptions of the small town and people are perfect.

What is the story about?

The story is about a girl called Maggie who with her parents, have to leave their home in Chicago to move to Door County to a house left to them in a will. Due to financial reasons they have to live here and try to make the house homely. Whilst we get to know `maggie, we are also aware of a spirit in the house who sometimes lives in the basement of the house Maggie has moved into. The spirit isn't sure why she is there, but that she is bound to Maggie in some way;

"I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried."

Soon Maggie meets her neighbour from the big white house across the field, Pauline. Pauline is beautiful but unaware of it. She is chatty and outgoing and soon befriends the slightly cautious Maggie. Maggie is then introduced to Pauline's childhood friend  Liam and they all start to hand around together.

Not long after Maggie settles in and gets a job in an antique store in the main street, the fact that a serial killer focusing on young girls Maggie's age is moving closer and closer to the area means that the whole town becomes extremely cautious. There is a curfew for young people and many shops and cafes shut up completely. There are increasing snow storms and the nearby lake is frozen over, the snow and the storms add both to the story and to the atmosphere throughout the book.Along with the story of Maggie, Pauline and Liam there is the backdrop of a killer who's victims are all beautiful young girls. As a reader I feared for both Pauline and Maggie and also started to pick up clues as to who the killer might be. Whilst the killings are a part of the book, they do not make the story a book of crime in any way.

There is also the ongoing story of the spirit, throughout the book we learn certain things she has seen, we feel her loneliness and confusion as to why she is where she is, and finally at the end we learn who the spirit was. The book itself is melancholy, yet beautiful, atmospheric and anything but a cheesy YA novel. There is love and loss, but Jodi writes this so well, so painfully, but without extra drama, tears or overreactions.This book  is really special and a beautiful, sad, atmospheric read.

Published August 7th 2014
Orchard Books
Young Adult