Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Anticipated April Releases 2015


After a fantabulous month of new March releases and events, April is just around the corner with even more exciting new books for us! I'm going to talk about my most anticipated releases that will hit the shelves this coming April so let's get started.

23399192
#1 - ROOK by Sharon Cameron

Publish Date: 28th April 2015

Genres: YA, Fantasy, Sc-Fi, Dystopia, Romance

One of my 2015 most anticipated releases! This book is set in Paris which I think is rather amazing. The synopsis won me over with such an interesting and intriguing concept. It sounds very unique about a girl named Sophia who is bound to marriage to save her family but there's more to her than meets the eye! That cover is gorgeous too so I can't wait!

Goodreads: Here


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#2 - AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

Publish Date: 28th April 2015

Genres: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Again, the synopsis for this book had me hook, line and sinker! And another glorious cover! There's already a lot of buzz surrounding this book and from what I have heard, it sounds incredible and definitely my kind of read! This story follows a girl called Laia who sneaks into the empire's greatest military academy as a slave in return for help to save her brother from an execution. Doesn't that just sound incredible?!

Goodreads: Here



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#3 - SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli


Publish Date: 7th April 2015

Genres: YA, Contemporary, LGBT

This one has been floating around the blogosphere lately and I've heard some great things about it. I'm really intrigued by the summary and want to get into reading more diverse books! I believe this is a novel about a boy who is trying to keep his sexuality a secret and gets trapped in a rather difficult situation. It's sounds like such a fun and cynical read!

Goodreads: Here


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#4 - THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough


Publish Date: 2nd April 2015

Genres: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance

Hooray for more YA historical fiction! I've been wanting to read more lately and when I came across this particular novel on my Twitter feed, I immediately searched it up and fell in love with the summary and cover. This also features an African-American protagonist which is absolutely fab! The novel spins the story of love and death and how in most popular romances, death always persevered! Now it's time for Henry and Flora's story. Who will win? Love or Death?

Goodreads: Here


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#5 - SEED by Lisa Heathfield 


Publish Date: 16th April 2015

Genres: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

This kind of reminds me of Crow Moon without the whole witch thing. It does include cults which is rather awesome! Mother Nature plays a big role in this story and it's on my list mainly because of Michelle (she wrote an awesome review by the way, check it out here!) who has been non-stop recommending and pushing people to read it! Anyway, the world sounds super mysterious and intriguing and that cover! Wow!

Goodreads: Here


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#6 - THE SHATTERED COURT by M.J. Scott


Publish Date: 28th April 2015

Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic

Thought I'd throw in an Adult one. I came across this one randomly on Goodreads and it sounds fan-freaking-tastic! A Fantasy world ruled by witches and set at a royal court. The synopsis just sounds so good I can't wait to read this! If you love Fantasy and Magic then maybe you should check this one out too! Plus that cover reminds me of Kiss of Deception!

Goodreads: Here


So those are my most anticipated April releases! I can't wait to get my hands on copies of them all!

Which April releases are you most looking forward to?
Any on my list catch your eye?
Am I missing one out that I should include?

Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 30 March 2015

REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast by Ravinder Randhawa

23224161I received a copy of this book from the Author for free, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the content of my review in any form.

Author: Ravinder Randhawa
Published by: Createspace on 12th September 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 250
Format: Paperback
Source: Author, Faye
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Book Depository | Kindle

Summary:

'Problems? Confusions? Contradictions? I got them all and if you've got them, then FLAUNT them is my motto.'

Meet Harjinder (aka Hari-jan): 'A' level student, supermarket worker and desperate journalist. Feisty and impulsive, Hari-jan can't refuse a dare and to make matters worse, has fallen in love with the wrong boy. Her best friend Ghazala has taken to wearing hijab and mentoring racists.

Can Hari-jan battle through the hurdles and win her man?
Can Ghazala work out how to do Good in her own way?
A sparkling coming-of-age about love, life and friendship.



First up, hooray for independent publishing! 

It's been a while since I've picked up a book where the main character is of Asian descent. The main reason I was keen on reading this book was for the diverse themes. Extra props to the author for including feminism.

Beauty and the Beast wasn't anything like I'd expected it to be, it was quite a huge surprise if I had to be honest. Naturally, one would think this was a fairytale retelling - and to an extent is is - with an Asian twist but I was delighted to find this was actually a YA contemporary! I think the link between the fairytale and this novel is the idea of women being more than damsels in distress who are subject to the stereotypical views of women in society. Out hot-headed protagonist Harjinder AKA Hari-jan, is a fun, sarcastic and charismatic young adult with strong beliefs in equality among males and females. I absolutely loved her! She developed as the story progressed and had great relationships with the other characters. Her aspirations to become a journalist really was admirable because it still counts as writing, which I love.

Hari-jan's best friend Ghazala, is a Muslim, one thing I was won over by because I rarely read about a protagonist's close friend being something other than a White British/American Christian. And to add, the friend is not used to fill in the gaps in the story and instead is given her own plot and issues to face and overcome. Issues relating to the typical Islamic hardships and I'm so glad this was covered.

The romance was fluffy and cute, definitely fun and light and I loved it. The love interest Suresh really caught my interest! He came off as that insufferable critic that hangs around like an annoying rash but I found this highly amusing especially the banter between him and Hari-jan! 

This is a very quick and short read and perfect for a time when you need to refresh your mind after reading a dark and intense book. With such lovely characters and great diversity, this was a rather enjoyable read. I felt like something was missing though which is stopping me from giving it a 5 stars and also because I felt the scenes jumped from one to another too quickly, it was a little confusing. But I would recommend this book to all!

Thank you to Faye (Blogger at A Daydreamer's Thoughts and Freelance PR - click here for her website) who gave me the opportunity to read this book and thanks to Ravinder who was super kind enough to send me a copy of her book!

Rating:
Silver Wreath

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Where Do I Buy My Books?


Where do people buy their books from?

I'm sure everyone is pretty familiar with this question whenever you've just seen a book haul, or maybe a snazzy beautiful book cover caught your interest and you're eager to know where to get one. I ask this question, partly because I'm insanely curious as sometimes I see an edition of a book I like, but have never found it myself - and partly out of pure nosiness. 

So I'm just going address this question and tell you where I buy my books from. And these range from both online and in bookshops!
Note: I've linked all bookseller websites so click on their name if you want to check them out!


ONLINE

#1
Hive


As you know, supporting independent publishing is hugely important, and even better if you support independent bookshops. Nothing beats visiting your local bookshop and getting acquainted with the staff who work so hard to keep the place bright and filled with lots of amazing books! We all know of the big Amazon/Book Depository debate and books can be expensive, I agree, and sometimes you can't find the book you want from another seller or bookshops. But lately I've steered towards spending my money on other bookseller websites rather than fall victim to the tempting low prices on Amazon.

One of the best places to buy books from is HIVE. Lately I've been making quite a lot of my purchases from them because they accept National Book Tokens and because they support local independent bookshops.
That's right peeps, a percentage of your purchase goes to support your local independent bookshop! (How cool is that?!)
They have discounted prices, maybe not Amazon cheap (sometimes they're cheaper!) but a discount is a discount! They even sell a few US hardbacks you would rarely find in most UK online booksellers! And they don't just sell books - DVD's, Stationary, Accessories too! (and more!)
And as if they weren't awesome enough already, they do FREE UK SHIPPING on every order! Or alternatively you can have your order delivered to your local independent bookshop.
BONUS: You also receive awesome My Independent Bookshop bookmarks with your orders!

I absolutely love HIVE and what they do so you should definitely check them out, especially if you're in the UK!


#2


Who hasn't heard of Foyles? Unless you're in the US then I can accept that. 
I shop from Foyles A LOT. Possibly 80% of the time I buy my books from them. This counts as both online and instore shopping as I tend to always leave the bookshop with at least with one book, especially when I visit the Charing Cross flagship branch! I have no self restraint when I'm in Foyles. (I mean have you SEEN the inside? It's frigging beautiful!)

They have great prices online and have various editions of books you wouldn't find in other UK booksellers. Their extensive range is staggeringly impressive and the stores are gorgeous. I'm lucky to be able to make regular visits to the bookshop myself, but if you live outside London, their online store is just as good! Plus they have a great Foyalty card scheme to build up points to use in future purchases!


Surprisingly, I don't know why I never thought to look up this bookseller earlier. I only discovered Wordery in September last year. They are a fast-growing independent bookseller with a ginormous range of books in all kinds of editions you could think of! They have amazing prices on their books and ship so fast, for example a while back I pre-ordered the US hardback of The Sin Eater's Daughter and it was dispatched days before publication meaning I got my glorious book early!

Wordery is my go-to place if I need a US hardback that I really want. They usually always have them in stock and again, FREE UK SHIPPING guys! It's a fantastic website!

Those three are my main online booksellers I purchase my books from but when I can't find a specific edition or a particular book, then I resort to Amazon and Book Depository.


BOOKSHOPS

I've mentioned Foyles so here's a few bookshops I pay regular visits to when I can! (I mostly do online shopping due to time consuming work hours)

WATERSTONES

Surprise surprise. This was a no brainer. Waterstones is undoubtedly popular in the UK and what draws me to them usually is the fantastic events they hold which kind of tempts me to buy books when I'm there! They usually feel very 'home-like' to me and I love spending my free time there when I can. The staff are always so lovely!

Waterstones Piccadilly is my usual branch because their YA section is enormous and the building itself is amazing! And recently it has been extended so I can't wait to see that! They always have signed books available but the real bonus is their great Buy One Get One Half Price offer they always have going. It's just too great an offer to pass up whenever I stop by!


CHARITY SHOPS

Charity shops are what I call gold mines. Because they nearly always have fabulous books, even new releases that other people didn't want anymore. Prices are always great and the money goes towards charity so you don't need to feel guilty my friend!

I always try to stop by my local charity shops or those near work when I can and almost everytime I buy something so check out charity shops, you might just find a precious book you'll love!

LOCAL BOOKSHOPS

Again, I try to visit when I can. I don't have many near my area and opening hours really don't agree with my work schedule! But do support your local bookshops when you can guys!
(This is why I try to make up by shopping at Hive)

AND THAT'S IT.

Hope you all got a good dose of information and maybe even discovered a few new places to buy books from!

Where do you buy your books from? 
Any booksellers you'd recommend that I haven't listed here?
Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

REVIEW: Those Above by Daniel Polansky

21017636I received a copy of this book from Hodder for free, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the content of my review in any form.

Author: Daniel Polansky
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton on 26th February 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy/Epic Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Series: The Empty Throne #1
Source: Publisher, bookbridgr
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | Book Depository

Summary:

They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered and army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in a single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.




Sigh.

This was me, at the end of the book. Suffice to say, I did not hate this book but I was really disappointed. I felt a little cheated by that summary because I was expecting action, battle scenes galore and betrayals and plotting that would make me gasp. My main issue with Those Above was the writing style. It took be a few tries to get into it at first, but even as I pondered on, I just felt like I was forcing myself to keep reading. 

I was bombarded with a huge vocabulary that was so complex, I needed Google after every two sentences. It is heavily descriptive and I was left confused page after page. There are 4 point-of-views told here alternating by chapter. A well-known widow, Eudokia, who has huge influence over the political society, a war general named Bas, who is the only human known to have defeated one of the beastly superior creatures, a teenage boy living in a lowest Rung called Thistle and Calla, one of the privileged to live above alongside the Lord of the Red Keep.

The multiple POV's were a great way to get a perspective on what is happening around the fantasy world although I felt like I enjoyed reading from Bas and Eudokia's POV the most. Reason being the battles and action that snapped my attention was narrated through their eyes and which was what saved me from giving this book 1 star. Honestly, Eudokia was the saviour. I wasn't fond of a majority of the characters, they just popped up here and there for me, but Eudokia grew to be my favourite. Here's a woman who had lost her husband in battle and now stands proud and confident as a widow and holds huge political influence over the society. She was devious, crafty and entertaining and I loved how her plan to start a war slowly unfolded, even surprising me with how she had a back up plan incase things went wrong. She was an incredible woman!

I grew irritated with Thistle who held so much promise. From the summary, it is told he would lead an uprising but all I got was a hormonal teenage boy trying to get by in a dog-eat-dog-world. Nothing was happening. The plot lagged. And this was the case for most parts of the book. The ending was definitely the highlight of the entire book, things kicked off then! 

All in all, the world building was pretty intense, detailed but a little overwhelming. I had trouble keeping track of the cities and areas, it actually would've helped greatly if the book had a map! I think they help visualise the world better, especially if it's an Epic Fantasy world. I just couldn't get into it as much as I wanted to and wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for action and fast-paced drama. There is a lot of political references and a slow build up which I evenly disliked and enjoyed.

I'm just sad it didn't live up my my expectations. This book just wasn't for me. I really love that cover though!

Rating:
Green Wreath

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

REVIEW: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

23747002I received a copy of this book from the publisher for free, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the content of my review in any form.

Author: Julie Berry
Published by: Piccadilly Press on 1st January 2015
Genres: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Historical
Pages: 326
Format: Paperback
Source: Hot Key Books, Piccadilly Press
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | B&N

Summary:

At Prickwillow Place, Disgraceful Mary-Jane, Smooth Kitty and their fellow students are keeping a deadly secret.

When the headmistress of St Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies drops dead at a Sunday dinner, her seven pupils agree on a clever scheme: to bury their teacher in the vegetable garden, dress up Stout Alice in her place, and educate themselves. This is tricky enough in a small Victorian community, but when the girls deduce that their teacher was poisoned - (it was the veal!) - they realise there is also a murderer on the prowl...



What a whopper of a tale!

Now I don't read many Middle-Grade fiction novels, in fact I would even say that I hardly read them at all! Mostly due to the fact I find it difficult to relate to such young characters, but really it depends on the story. But with such a huge buzz surrounding this book throughout the blogosphere and my Twitter timeline, I honestly couldn't pass up the chance to read it! And I was not disappointed!

What's the best way to start off a mystery novel? - With a murder of course! Headmistress of St Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies suddenly drops dead alongside her brother at a normal Sunday dinner. Someone was fiendish enough to put poison into the veal they had been eating. So where does that leave her students? The seven enigmatic young ladies with no headmistress to lead and teach them? In an effort not to be sent home and now with a chance of freedom within their grasp, the seven students team up and come up with a scandalous plan - burying their headmistress and her brother in the garden, dressing up Alice to act in their headmistress's place and fooling everyone into believing nothing was wrong.

This was such a brilliant idea, executed extremely well. With the historical time period, the writing style suits to that of the time period, each character speaking with elegance yet with a hint of sarcastic wit. I found it equally enjoyable to read and difficult to get used to. 

Out of the seven students, I think Smooth Kitty was my favourite, reason being that she was the quick-thinker and took lead during the situation. She was the one most afraid of being sent home and separated from her dear friends and confidently managed to pull of their scandalous scheme for an impressive amount of time! But truly, all the characters were amazing. Their friendship is by all means one of the best I've read about and I loved how they banded together and despite being suspicious of each other, it didn't stop them working together to find the real culprit! Being so young and to pull of such a tricky heist takes a lot of courage too!


The mystery aspect was very interesting seeing as I had absolutely no idea who poisoned the veal, not even a sneaking suspicion. The plot truly does build up with tense moments that make you cover your eyes with your hands when you feel like something is about to go wrong. There were a lot of those moments! It's incredibly gripping with an obvious sense of thrill lingering in the background. It wasn't until about halfway I had suspected a certain someone but even then, events kept swaying my choice and forcing me to reconsider! That's what every mystery should aspire to do!

The Scandalous Sisterhood truly sparked my interest in Middle-Grade fiction and with no doubt I will be picking up a lot more in the future. It was such a fantastic read with funny, charismatic characters who were all unique and made the book that much more enjoyable to devour. Books like this are perfect to break you out of horrid reading slumps! (Also that cover! I'm in love with it!)

Rating:
Silver Wreath

Sunday, 1 March 2015

UKYA Extravaganza


I sit here today, with sore shoulders and a frazzled brain, to share with you my experience about this event I went to yesterday in Birmingham. UKYA Extravaganza was brought to us by incredible authors Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass - an event that consisted of 35 fabulous authors squeezed into one room within the walls of Waterstone's Birmingham!

I jumped at the chance to go and meet some of my favourite authors and a few news ones too! It was an opportunity to really get involved with the UKYA community, something that I love which is no secret. Aside from YALC and Writeidea Fest, I hadn't really attended any big blogger events, so it was a wonderful experience. 

From the journey there, all the way up until the train home, I had a ton of fun! It was the first time I ever really travelled outside London by myself, that and it was my first time going to the city of Birmingham! I felt a little adventurous and excited instead of my usual wrecked-with-nerves attitude. I had nothing to be nervous about because everyone was so friendly and lovely - I felt right at home! I think everyone else could say the same.


I had a pleasant journey with Crow Moon to keep me company and yummy cookies!

Authors, Bloggers and Reader's from all over gave up their Saturday to attend this amazing event and the turnout was amazing! It was a mad fun-packed day with Q & A's from the author's and readings, signings and general lively chatter. 

Here's the lovely Robin Stevens reading from her latest release Arsenic For Tea! (Apologies for the bad quality photo!)

Author panel with author of the astounding Seven Days, Eve Ainsworth!

The atmosphere was overwhelming! I got to meet fellow Twitterer's and bloggers that I had been talking to for months, including the lovely Michelle Toy who was the first to find me! I also got to meet bloggers Charli, Sofia, Anna and Lucy who were all wonderful! I got to make new friends and ramble about books, everyone was so kind and welcoming that I felt disheartened when the time came to leave! Alongside reading fanatics, I got to meet a couple author's for the first time. Emma Haughton, author of Now You See Me was one of them, we got to meet (at last!) and have a friendly chat and talk about our love for Russia! It was also lovely to meet a familiar face again!

Here's little old me with the wonderful CJ Daugherty, author of the Night School series.

I wish I could have taken more pictures!

This was the first time an event like this has taken place, and it was a huge success! I think it was a wonderful idea to gather up dozens of authors and book lovers into one place to discuss and share our love for books. We need more events like this, especially to promote UKYA because it deserves recognition. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming that you wouldn't feel out of place. That's one of the things I love about the UKYA community. I hope there are more events like this because I would drop everything and race to buy a ticket without hesitation! (Especially if there's more cake involved!)


Huge thanks to Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass for creating such a fabulous and memorable event that I'll cherish forever. You guys did an awesome job! And a huge thank you to the authors who attended! You all made the day so special. Thanks to everyone I met and spoke to who managed to put up with my awkward blabbering! Although I'm aching all over from the aftermath of the event and hauling so many books (which was totally worth it by the way), it was a blast to meet everyone and chat. I look forward to future events like this!