Monday, 31 October 2011

Review: Haunted - Anthology

A FACE in the mirror . . .
HOWLING in the night . . .
A BLACK DOG at your door . . .
COLD HANDS dragging you down . . .

Some of the best-loved children's authors have come together to bring you this terrifying collection of ghost stories:

There's a lost ghost child trapped in a mirror and wanting to pull you in; an evil Soul Eater waiting for its next victim; a ghost walk with a haunting twist; and the spirit of a drowned boy who needs to be put to rest.  These and many more spine-chilling tales will make you scream, shiver and gasp.

Open if you dare . . .

Visit the Anderson Press website for more information

The Haunted anthology includes the following short stories (click the links to visit the author websites):
The Castle Ghosts - Joseph Delaney
The Caretakers - Susan Cooper
Good Boy - Mal Peet
The Blood Line - Jamila Gavin
The Ghost in the Machine - Eleanor Updale
Songs the Dead Sing - Derek Landy
The Beach Hut - Robin Jarvis
The Praying Down of Vaughan Darkness - Sam Llewellyn
The Ghost Walk - Matt Haig
The Ghost Wood - Philip Reeve
The Little Ship's Boy - Berlie Doherty

Review:
Haunted is an anthology containing scary short stories from some of todays best children's writers and it makes for perfect Halloween reading.  Immerse yourself in stories of haunted prisons, demon worshipers, trapped ghosts, demon dogs and even a spooky beach hut.  These stories may be short but they're all well written and there are some great twists in there too.

Stand out favourites for me included Good Boy by Mal Peet, The Beach Hut by Robin Jarvis and The Ghost Wood by Philip Reeve but I enjoyed each of the stories and The Ghost Walk by Matt Haig brought back memories of the ghost walk I did in York a few years ago.  Anthologies are a great way of trying new authors and I've definitely found some I want to add to my to read pile with this one.

If you're a horror fan then you'll love Haunted although if you're a bit of a wimp like I am you may find you only want to read it in daylight!  Treat yourself to a fright this Halloween & pick up your copy today.

Source: Received from Anderson Press in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Happy Halloween!


So I wanted to do a quick post to wish you all a happy Halloween!  I hope that you all have a fantastic day whatever you have planned.  If you're getting all dressed up then I hope you'll be sharing pictures :o)

To get us in the Halloween mood I wanted to share some spooky book trailers with you.  First we have the trailer for The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck.  This looks like a fab book & I can't wait to read it!



Next we have the trailer for book 9 in the Spooks series - I Am Grimalkin by Joseph Delaney.  I've not read any of this series yet but I think I'm going to have to get started on them.



Then last but not least we have the trailer for Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough.  This book scared the life out of me when I read it earlier this year so if you're looking for a scary Halloween story I can definitely recommend it!  You can read my review here if you missed it.



While you're here don't forget that this is the last day to enter the Spooktacular giveaways, don't miss out on your chance to win prizes on over 400 different blogs!


I'm hosting 2 different giveaways for the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, feel free to enter both or just pick the one you'd prefer. Both giveaways are international and close at 12:01 EST on the 1st of November. The winners will be announced soon afterwards. Click on the links below to enter the giveaways.

Giveaway 1 (YA): 1 winner will receive a signed ARC copy of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Giveaway 2 (Adult): 1 winner will win ebooks of entire Granite Lake Wolves series by Vivian Arend. 4 further winners will each receive an ebook of their choice from the series.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Review: City of Bones - Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray is seeing things: vampires in Brooklyn and werewolves in Manhattan.  Irresistibly drawn towards a group of sexy demon hunters, Clary encounters the dark side of New York City - and the dangers of forbidden love.

The Mortal Instruments Series:
City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass
City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls (2012)
City of Heavenly Fire (2013)

The Infernal Devices Series: (Prequel Series)
Clockwork Angel
Clockwork Prince
Clockwork Princess (2012)

Visit Cassandra Clare's website or the Mortal Instruments website for more information

Review:
I feel like I'm one of the last people to join the Mortal Instruments party, I've seen so many people raving about these books that I have no idea why it's taken me so long to start the series - all I can say is that I'm glad I finally did!  Despite the fact that City of Bones is a long book it was a surprisingly quick read and once I got started I found I couldn't put it down again.

Clary discovers the secret world that is hidden within our own by accident when she sees a boy attacked at a night club.  Even though she doesn't know the boy she is brave enough to step in and try to help him but when she does she gets a lot more than she bargained for.  She is quickly drawn into a world where demons, vampires and werewolves really exist and although humans are unaware of this fact they are being protected constantly by shadowhunters (demon hunters).  The deeper she is drawn into this world the more secrets she uncovers about her family and about herself - her life will never be the same again.

I liked Clary from the beginning, as I've already said she is brave and will do anything to protect those she loves but I'll admit there were a couple of times I wanted to shake some sense into her.  My favourite character would have to be Jace, he may be arrogant and full of himself but I fell for him anyway.  I loved the banter between him and Clary, they were constantly arguing with each other but you could see all along that they were attracted to each other.  Another favourite would have to be Clary's best friend Simon, he is drawn into this new world because he cares for her and although he is human and has no special abilities he was very protective of her.

There are plenty of things going on, you don't have a moment to get bored while you're reading.  I had actually guessed the main twist (although I wish it wasn't true!) but there were still plenty of things that did surprise me and I definitely enjoyed the journey.  I'm looking forward to continuing with the series and if you're like I was and haven't started it yet then I'd strongly recommend giving it a try.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
Reading Shy With Aly
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Animated Cover: My Soul to Steal - Rachel Vincent + UK Competition

Mira Ink have created the first ever animated book jacket for My Soul to Steal, the fourth book in Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series.  I have to confess I absolutely love the UK covers for this series but the animated cover just blew me away, it's just so pretty - I wish I could have an actual book with the animated version on it lol!

What do you think?  Isn't it beautiful!

*************************

UK Competition Details:

Mira Ink are also offering 10 UK readers the chance of winning a copy of My Soul to Steal.  All you have to do is go to Mira Ink's facebook page click on the jacket image of My Soul to Steal and leave a comment.  10 lucky winners will be selected at random and each will receive a copy of the book.

*************************

While I'm talking about the Soul Screamers series I thought it would be the perfect time to compare the UK and US covers.

My Soul to Take:

UK / US

My Soul to Save:

UK / US

My Soul to Keep:

UK / US

My Soul to Steal:

UK / US

So what do you think?  Although I love the colours of the US covers I prefer the smokey feel to the UK ones.  They're so different compared to other YA paranormal books that they easily stand out when you spot them on the shelves and I love how the colours of the lips, eyes, flower & butterfly stand out against the pale background.  Do you prefer the UK or the US covers? 

Have you read the series yet?  If so I'd love to know what you think of it.  I really need to do a catch up on these books, I really enjoyed My Soul to Take (you can read my review here) but haven't read the others yet.  They're sitting on my shelves waiting for me though so I'll have to pick up My Soul to Save soon!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Review: The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet . . .

Discworld Series:
The Colour of Magic (Rincewind book 1)
The Light Fantastic (Rincewind book 2)
Equal Rites (Witches book 1)
Mort (Death book 1)
Sourcery (Rincewind book 3)
Wyrd Sisters (Witches book 2)
Pyramids
Guards! Guards! (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 1)
Eric (Rincewind book 4)
Moving Pictures (Industrial Revolution book 1)
Reaper Man (Death book 2)
Witches Abroad (Witches book 3)
Small Gods
Lords and Ladies (Witches book 4)
Men at Arms (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 2)
Soul Music (Death book 3)
Interesting Times (Rincewind book 5)
Maskerade (Witches book 5)
Feet of Clay (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 3)
Hogfather (Death book 4)
Jingo (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 4)
The Last Continent (Rincewind book 6)
Carpe Jugulum (Witches book 6)
The Fifth Elephant (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 5)
The Truth (Industrial Revolution book 2)
Thief of Time (Death book 5)
The Last Hero (Rincewind book 7)
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
Night Watch (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 6)
The Wee Free Men (Tiffany Aching book 1)
Monstrous Regiment (Industrial Revolution book 3)
A Hat Full of Sky (Tiffany Aching book 2)
Going Postal (Moist von Lipwig book 1) (Industrial Revolution book 4)
Thud! (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 7)
Wintersmith (Tiffany Aching book 3)
Making Money (Moist von Lipwig book 2) (Industrial Revolution book 5)
Unseen Academicals (Rincewind book 8)
I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching book 4)
Snuff (Ankh-Morpork City Watch book 8)
The World of Poo
Raising Steam (Moist von Lipwig book 3) (Industrial Revolution book 6)
The Shepherd's Crown (Tiffany Aching book 5)

Discworld Related books:
The Discworld Mapp - Terry Pratchett & Stephen Briggs
Terry Pratchett's Discworld Colouring Book - Paul Kidby

Visit Terry Pratchett's website for more information

Review:
I first discovered Terry Pratchett's Discworld series when I was in my teens and I have been a massive fan of his work ever since, over the years I've read most of the series but I thought it was about time I started a re-read. Although you don't have to read the series in order I have a bit of a thing when it comes to series so I have had to start again at the beginning.

If you've never discovered the Discworld books (although that is highly unlikely lol) then I can't recommend the series enough, Terry Pratchett has a fantastic imagination and a way of writing that will have you laughing throughout the whole book. The Colour of Magic is our introduction to Discworld, a flat, circular world that rests on the back of four giant elephants who are standing on an even bigger turtle that is flying through space. Has that caught your interest? How can you resist something as brilliantly crazy as that? I would love to spend time inside Terry's mind and see where he gets his ideas from!

Here we follow the adventures of the not very successful wizard Rincewind as he tries to keep hapless tourist Twoflower safe. The pair bumble along from one mishap to the next somehow managing to avoid serious injury despite being in the most difficult circumstances. They will meet dragons & barbarians, have more than one brush with Death and are constantly trailed by a walking luggage chest with very big teeth.

There are hundreds of reviews out there for this book so I'm not going to go into much more detail, I'll just say that I love the characters, I love this world and from experience the series just gets better and better with every book. If you like fantasy and are looking for something that is quirky and fun you can't go wrong with any of these books and I would highly recommend the series.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Review: Touch of Frost - Jennifer Estep

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy - a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos.  First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities.  Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War.  You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things.  Freaky stuff like this goes on all of the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why - especially since I should have been the one who died . . .

Mythos Academy Series:
First Frost (prequel ebook novella)
Touch of Frost
Halloween Frost (ebook novella found in the Entangled anthology)
Kiss of Frost (November 2011)
Dark Frost (June 2012)

Visit Jennifer Estep's website for more information

Review:
Gwen has been an outcast since she started at the Mythos Academy, with the student's all training to be warriors and claiming to be from families of Spartans, Amazons & Valkyries, Gwen is the uncoordinated one who struggles to make it through weapons training without doing herself an injury.  She does have an ability though, she may not be good at fighting but she is able to know the history of every item she touches and feel the emotions of people who touched it before she did.  Gwen doesn't really want to be at the Academy though, she doesn't believe in the myths and legends that she is taught and isn't quite sure what to make of the fact that everyone else seems to think they're true.  When she discovers the body of another student she becomes determined to find out who was behind the murder, along the way she will also discover just why she was sent to Mythos Academy in the first place.

In a market flooded with vampires and werewolves Touch of Frost stands out for it's use of mythology - Gods & Goddesses, Valkyries, Amazons Spartans, Romans & even Vikings all have their part to play (not a vamp or were in sight!).  The world building is strong but not overwhelming and I'm looking forward to finding out more as the series progresses.  The story moves along at a good pace and I loved the action and fight scenes.

Gwen is a great character, a self-confessed geek who loves comics and doesn't care about fashion she struggles to fit in at a school where everyone else seems perfect.  Gwen comes across as very independent but deep down she is incredible lonely, she is still struggling to cope with her mum's death and doesn't have anyone at school to turn to.  I loved the fact that she has a strong relationship with her grandmother though and she does find others she can rely on as the story progresses.  Gwen's gift is as much of a curse as it is a blessing, she has seen some terrible things because of it but she copes amazingly well and is determined to use her gift to do something positive.  There were a couple of times that I felt Gwen was acting a bit young for her age (which I think is about 16/17?) but that may just be the fact that I'm getting old lol and it didn't stop my enjoyment of the story.  Gwen is the kind of character that may be shy but she won't let anyone walk all over her and I appreciate someone who can stand up for herself.

The other stand out character for me was Daphne, when we first meet her she is one of the school mean girls and I really didn't like her.  She changes a lot throughout the book though and I came to love her by the end, she has such a snarky sense of humor and I really enjoyed scenes with her in them.  It was nice to see her friendship with Gwen develop and I felt that they were good for each other.  Potential love interest Logan is a character I'm looking forward to seeing more of, he is a Spartan and the school bad boy but he is also very protective and has the whole hero thing going for him.  He is definitely hiding something though so I'm curious to find out more about that in future books.

Overall Touch of Frost is a great start to a new series, it is the first book I've read by Jennifer Estep but I've been wanting to read her adult series (Elemental Assassins) for a while now and am definitely planning on picking it up soon.  I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Gwen in the next book, Kiss of Frost, which luckily is out in November so I don't have too long to wait!

Source: I was given a copy of this book at AADPhilly in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
Between Dreams and Reality
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Scream Street Blog Tour - Exclusive Short Story: Shiver of the Phantom - Chapter 9


To celebrate the release of Flame of the Dragon, the 13th book in the Scream Street series,  author Tommy Donbavand has written an exclusive short story that is being released over 13 days on 13 blogs.  I'm delighted to be taking part in the tour and am hosting part 9 of the story for you today.  Before I post the extract here are links to the other blogs taking part so you can make sure you read the story in order:

19th October - Scream Street - Chapter 1
20th October - Wondrous Reads - Chapter 2
21st October - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Chapter 3
22nd October - Barry Hutchison - Chapter 4
23rd October - Floor To Ceiling Books - Chapter 5
24th October - My Favourite Books - Chapter 6
25th October - Spine Chills - Chapter 7
26th October - Tall Tales and Short Stories - Chapter 8
27th October - Feeling Fictional - Chapter 9
28th October - Notes from the Slushpile - Chapter 10
29th October - The Book Zone (For Boys) - Chapter 11
30th October - Trapped by Monsters - Chapter 12
31st October - Scream Street - Chapter 13

So now you've had a chance to catch up on the previous installments of Shiver of the Phantom by Tommy Donbavand here is the next one:




Chapter Nine
The Team

Mr Aspin’s eyes were practically bulging out of his head. “How dare you presume to tell me what will and will not happen in my own organization?” he screeched.

“Because I think you’re a bully,” said Luke, unfazed by the ghostly president’s anger. “I used to have a teacher like you at my old school, and the only way to deal with people like that is to stand up to them.”

“A BULLY?” the ghost roared. “I’ll show you a bully!”

“Then Luke’s right,” said Cleo. “You are a bully. You’ve certainly been bullying poor Henry here. I’m sure he’s brilliant at haunting, but he’s just been put off his work by having to deal with someone like you every day.”

Henry ducked nervously behind Resus, although that didn’t achieve much as he could still clearly be seen through the vampire’s transparent body.

“I’ll haunt you every night for the rest of your lives for this!” Aspin roared.

“No, you won’t,” said Luke calmly. “From what I can tell, you’re a stickler for rules – and I’m willing to bet that there’s a rule against haunting the same family on a regular basis.”

Aspin ground his teeth together and tightened his grip on his clipboard – but he didn’t say anything.

“I thought so,” said Luke. “So, please don’t threaten us, or say anything to scare Henry. It isn’t a very kind thing to do. Now, what time does his exam begin?”

Aspin checked the time on his shimmering pocket watch. “Fifteen minutes ago!”

“Then we’d better get started, hadn’t we?” said Luke with a smile. “Now, what are we doing first?”

“Oh no,” sneered Aspin. “There’s no ‘we’ in this. You three can buzz off! You’ve already forced me into letting Harper take this exam. I’m not having you hovering around while it happens.”

“You can’t send us away,” said Cleo. “We’re Henry’s support team.”

“His what?”

“His support team,” the mummy repeated. “Luke’s his manager for all things creepy, I’m his confidence coach and Resus is his nutritionist.”

“He doesn’t need a nutritionist!” yelled Aspin. “He’s a phantom. He doesn’t eat!”

“Just because he doesn’t need a nutritionist doesn’t mean he can’t have one.” Resus grinned. “I don’t need fake fangs, but I’ve got them.”

“GET OUT OF HERE!”

“No, we won’t,” said Luke. “Show me where it says in the rules that a phantom can’t have a support team when taking the spirit level exam...”

Aspin flipped through the transparent pages of text on his clipboard. “There isn’t a rule that says that,” he said through gritted teeth.

“I thought not,” said Luke. He turned to Henry, still shivering in fear behind Resus. “You ready to go up to spirit level two then, champ?”

Henry glanced nervously from Luke to the furious Mr Aspin and back again. “I, er... I suppose so,” he squeaked.

Luke grinned. “Then let’s do it!”

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

HarperCollins Jack the Ripper Walk with Maureen Johnson - 13th October 2011


A few weeks ago I posted about a fabulous competition that HarperCollins were holding to celebrate the release of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.  As the story is about a copycat who is killing his victims in the same way as Jack the Ripper they were organising a fan walk to visit some of the locations from the book - places where the real victims were found.  I've always wanted to do one of the Jack the Ripper walks so I jumped at the chance of entering and can't tell you how excited I was when I found out I was one of the lucky winners.  I even got to take a guest with me so I invited the lovely Sammee (from I Want To Read That) to come with me.

Sammee & I met up early for an afternoon of book shopping, coffee drinking and gossiping before making our way to Tower Hill for the walk.  We were met outside Tower Hill by Sarah from HarperCollins and had time to chat with the other winners while we waited for Rosi to arrive with special guest Maureen Johnson.  The walk we went on was organised by London Walks who host a Jack the Ripper walk every day from outside Tower Hill underground station (click here for more information) and our tour guide Oliver was great, he was very knowledgeable about Jack the Ripper and managed to tell us lots of gruesome details about the murders.

Our guide Oliver

We stopped at various different locations as Oliver told us about how each of the victims (Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly) were killed and where their bodies were found.  Each of them had their throats slashed and most of them had internal organs removed, some were placed beside their bodies but other parts were never recovered (although one reporter received a particularly nasty package containing part of a human kidney along with a letter from someone claiming to be the killer!).




We walked through Mitre Square and some of the guests were unlucky enough to sit on the bench where Catherine Eddowes' body was found!  I didn't realise how many women were forced into prostitution due to severe poverty.  Job opportunities for women in the late 19th century were scarce and it is estimated that there were 1200 women working the streets so it is no wonder that Jack the Ripper found it easy to find his victims.  A lot of the prostitutes used to gather outside St Botolph without Aldgate church waiting for customers.




We also discovered some fabulous old Victorian streets, they are very narrow, dark and atmospheric - it was like taking a step back in time!  I had no idea you could still find places like that in London and I'd love to go back and explore them more thoroughly in the future.  Maureen pointed out the building she based Wexford school on although she said she took liberties with the geography by creating the square around the school that doesn't exist in real life.  She said the building was in the perfect location and she knew it was the school as soon as she saw it.

This is the building that Maureen based Wexford school on in her book

Here you can see the 3 windows from Rory & Jazza's room

I've never been to the famous Old Spitalfields Market before but I think it's somewhere else I'm going to have to visit again - this time when the market stalls are open & I can have a good look around.  I'd also like to head over to the Ten Bells pub (where some of the Ripper's victims were known to frequent) for a drink.




I thoroughly enjoyed the Jack the Ripper walk and it was really interesting to see a different side to London.  If you ever want to give it a try I'd definitely recommend London Walks for the tour & I'm sure I'll be trying out some of their other walks in the future.  After our guide left for the evening we had time to chat with Maureen Johnson & get our books signed.  She was absolutely lovely and spent ages talking to us before she had to dash off and catch a train to Manchester for the next stop on her tour.  It really was lovely to meet her.  I'd like to say a huge thank you to Rosi & Sarah at HarperCollins for arranging the event!

Me with Maureen

HarperCollins were filming during the tour so if you'd like to watch the video they made here it is:



Who Was There?
Rosi & Sarah - HarperCollins
Maureen Johnson - Website
Oliver - London Walks

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Haunted Blog Tour - Guest Post from Robin Jarvis


I'm very excited to welcome Robin Jarvis to the blog today as we kick of the Haunted blog tour.  I've been a massive fan of Robin Jarvis since I discovered his Whitby Witches, Deptford Mice & Deptford Histories trilogies as a young teen.  They were books I read over and over again and I still have the original copies that my Dad bought for me back in the early 90's (yes that does make me feel old lol).

The Haunted blog tour is to celebrate the release of the Haunted anthology, this is a perfect Halloween read containing scary stories from some fabulous writers - Susan Cooper, Joseph Delaney, Berlie Doherty, Jamila Gavin, Matt Haig, Robin Jarvis, Derek Landy, Sam Llewellyn, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve & Eleaor Updale.  I'll be posting my review of Haunted on Halloween so make sure you stop by then to read it.

A FACE in the mirror . . .
HOWLING in the night . . .
A BLACK DOG at your door . . .
COLD HANDS dragging you down . . .

Some of the best-loved children's authors have come together to bring you this terrifying collection of ghost stories:

There's a lost ghost child trapped in a mirror and wanting to pull you in; an evil Soul Eater waiting for its next victim; a ghost walk with a haunting twist; and the spirit of a drowned boy who needs to be put to rest.  These and many more spine-chilling tales will make you scream, shiver and gasp.

Open if you dare . . .

Visit the Anderson Press website for more information

Picture of Robin Jarvis & me (taken at the HarperCollins Afternoon Tea)

So without further ado I'm going to hand over to Robin Jarvis who is going to talk about what Halloween means to him . . .

Hallowe’en is a special time of the year for me. Growing up in the north, we always bobbed for apples, ducked for chestnuts, tangerines and pennies and begged to hear the family ghost stories repeated. Of witches we spoke in soft voices, whilst casting wary glances at the dark sky. Even though my young eyes scoured the night and never saw one, I knew they were up there.

The most magical and thrilling part of Hallowe’en however, was the making of the lantern. A fearsome face, lit by flame, was needed to guard you during that eerie, dangerous time when the worlds of the living and the dead touched and malevolent spirits went a - roaming.

Pumpkins are rubbish. There, I’ve said it. They belong to the Disneyfication of an ancient Celtic festival that was steeped in blood and terror and illuminated by fire. The time has come to champion the only true vegetable from which to make a Hallowe’en lantern – the turnip. Okay, I call them turnips yet somehow, over the years, they’ve been re-branded as “swedes” but they’re still turnips to me. It may sound odd to everyone else in the world but, in my opinion, there’s a deep, earthy magic to a turnip and I can understand why it was the natural choice for turning into lanterns before the gaudy orange usurper crossed the Atlantic. Turnips grow in the ground, the same soil the Celts associated with the underworld and into which they interred their dead.

Hollowing out a big turnip is a serious undertaking. People prefer the easy, soft scoop version of pumpkins, but that isn’t really the point. Turnip gouging is and should be a ritual. It requires concentration and effort and takes a flipping long time! It’s worth it in the end though. When the candle stub is lit within that golden flesh and a thread of smoke rises from the hole in the lid, suddenly that ferocious purple face is alive. That’s a genuinely magic moment.

I still make a turnip lantern every year and visit different supermarkets and grocer’s stalls in order to find the correct one. There’s a lot of character and variety to turnips. There are fat, round faces and sharp pointed ones, some have square chins or fibrous beards, others already have noses sprouting to show you where the front is. I know what I’m looking for, because I’ve been carving the same face for decades and only the right shape will do.

So you can keep the vastly inferior, dreary pumpkin. It’s got all the charm and enchantment of a fibreglass theme park castle, compared to the solid Stonehenge of a turnip. When He is on guard, I know its safe to scour the dark sky again and yearn to believe.

The young boy Bram, in my short story, “The Beach Hut” really needed the protection of a turnip lantern. But it was the height of summer, at the seaside, and his thoughts were filled with rock pools and ice cream. Besides, malignant ghosts don’t go haunting then – or do they?

Thanks so much for a fabulous guest post Robin, I actually carved my first ever pumpkin last year & really enjoyed doing it.  I guess I should be buying a turnip to carve this year though - although it sounds like there is much more work involved in carving them!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway 2 (Adult) - Win the Granite Lake Wolves series by Vivian Arend


Along with about 400 other bloggers I'm very excited to be taking part in this years Spooktacular Giveaway Hop being hosted by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Rhianna from The Diary of a Bookworm.  That means there are aproximately 400 chances for you to win some amazing prizes!  Check out the link list below to find all the other blogs participating.  I'll be hosting 2 different giveaways, 1 young adult giveaway to win a signed ARC of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson and 1 adult giveaway giving you the chance to win the entire Granite Lake Wolves series by Vivian Arend.  Please feel free to enter both giveaways if you want to or just pick the one you'd prefer.

Giveaway 2:

The second giveaway gives you the chance to win the entire Granite Lake Wolves series by Vivian Arend.  There will actually be 5 lucky winners in this giveaway.  The first winner will get the entire set of 4 Granite Lake Wolves ebooks (Wolf Signs, Wolf Flight, Wolf Games & Wolf Tracks) and 4 other winners will each get an ebook of their choice from the series.





I absolutely love Vivian Arend's Granite Lake Wolves series, they are great paranormal romance stories and ones I would highly recommend.  I'd like to say a massive thank you to Vivian Arend for allowing me to host this giveaway for her.





Here is the list of all of the other blogs taking part in the giveaway hop, don't forget to check them out for the chance to win more prizes!

Spooktacular Giveaway 1 (YA) - The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Signed)


Along with about 400 other bloggers I'm very excited to be taking part in this years Spooktacular Giveaway Hop being hosted by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Rhianna from The Diary of a Bookworm.  That means there are aproximately 400 chances for you to win some amazing prizes!  Check out the link list below to find all the other blogs participating.  I'll be hosting 2 different giveaways, 1 young adult giveaway to win a signed ARC of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson and 1 adult giveaway giving you the chance to win the entire Granite Lake Wolves series by Vivian Arend.  Please feel free to enter both giveaways if you want to or just pick the one you'd prefer.

Giveaway 1:

The first giveaway is for a chance to win a signed ARC of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.  This is a great supernatural story based on the Jack The Ripper murders and makes for perfect Halloween reading.  I really enjoyed this one & hope the winner likes it as much as I did (you can read my full review here)

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux flies to London for the start of a new life at boarding school.  But her arrival is overshadowed by the sudden outbreak of brutal murders in the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper.

"Rippermania" grabs hold of modern day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses.  Except one.  Rory has seen their prime suspect on the school grounds.  But her friend Jazza, who was with her at the time, didn't see anyone.

So why could only Rory see him?  And more urgently, what is he planning next?


Shades of London Series:
The Name of the Star
Future book titles and release dates to be confirmed

Visit Maureen Johnson's website for more information





Here is the list of all of the other blogs taking part in the giveaway hop, don't forget to check them out for the chance to win more prizes!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Quick Review: Vampire Academy Graphic Novel - Richelle Mead

Lissa Dragomir is a mortal vampire.
She must be protected at all times from the fiercest and most dangerous vampires of all - the ones who will never die.

Rose Hathaway is Lissa's best friend - and her bodyguard.

Now, after two years of illicit freedom, they've been dragged back inside the iron gates of St. Vladimir's Academy.  The girls must survive in a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night-time rituals.

But above all, they must never let their guard down, lest the immortal vampires take Lissa - forever.

Vampire Academy Series:
Vampire Academy
Vampire Academy Graphic Novel
Frostbite
Blood Promise
Spirit Bound
Last Sacrifice

Bloodlines Series: (This is a spin off from the Vampire Academy Series)
Adrian's Lost Chapter (Free Short Story can be read here)
Bloodlines
The Golden Lily
The Indigo Spell
The Fiery Heart (Release date to be confirmed)

Visit Richelle Mead's website for more information

Review:
I have to admit that I've not read many graphic novels before but I'm such a massive fan of the Vampire Academy series that I had to give this one a try.  I absolutely loved the illustrations in the story, Rose and Dimitri (swoon) are just how I imagined them and I really enjoyed the visual addition to the reading experience.

Obviously you don't get as much detail in a graphic novel as you do in the full book but you do get the feel of the story and most of the important information is covered.  I'd have to say I preferred the full novel just because you get more background details but this makes a great companion read for fans of the series.  If you've not started the series yet you would be able to follow the story but personally I'd recommend reading the novel first.

The graphic novel is a very fast and easy read and one I really enjoyed.  After I'd finished I actually spent time going back through it just to spend more time looking at the illustrations and I'm looking forward to seeing the graphic novel for the next book in the series (Frostbite).

Source: Received for review from Penguin in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Review: The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux flies to London for the start of a new life at boarding school.  But her arrival is overshadowed by the sudden outbreak of brutal murders in the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper.

"Rippermania" grabs hold of modern day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses.  Except one.  Rory has seen their prime suspect on the school grounds.  But her friend Jazza, who was with her at the time, didn't see anyone.

So why could only Rory see him?  And more urgently, what is he planning next?


Shades of London Series:
The Name of the Star
The Madness Underneath (2012)

Visit Maureen Johnson's website for more information

Review:
Rory has travelled from her home in Louisiana to spend a year at a boarding school in London and has all the usual problems you'd expect someone to face when starting at a new school in a new country.  School soon becomes the least of her worries though, there is a Jack the Ripper copycat on the loose committing gruesome murders and Rory is the only witness.  Can Rory help the police catch the killer before he strikes again?

The Name of the Star is the first book I've read by Maureen Johnson but it has definitely left me wanting to pick up more of her books.  I really enjoyed her writing style and loved seeing London through the eyes of an American character.  The setting is really well written and you can easily see yourself walking through London alongside Rory.  Maureen has captured the feel of the area and visiting the old abandoned London Underground stations was incredibly creepy.  The story itself is fast paced and manages to be both spooky as well as laugh out loud funny in places.  I would have liked the supernatural element to have been unveiled a little earlier, I felt like I had things figured out long before Rory did but the author managed to throw in a few twists that still managed to surprise me.

Rory was a great protagonist and I loved her observations about London and the English way of life.  I liked the friendship between her and her room mate Jazza and her interactions with Alistair.  Although Jerome is a nice guy I didn't really buy into the romance between them, perhaps that will change as the series progresses though.  Besides Rory my favourite characters were introduced about half way through the book (I love Stephen!), I don't want to say too much more about them but I'm confident that they'll have a big role in future books which has me very excited.

The thing I loved the most about the story was the connection to the original Jack the Ripper murders, I've read quite a bit about this subject in the past and like a lot of people am fascinated by the murders and who was behind them.  I've always wondered why the killer stopped when he did and although the book obviously isn't able to answer that question it was still fun to learn more about the subject.  The idea of a copycat killer is chilling and I was creeped out (but not surprised) by the Rippermania that takes over the population when the murders start happening again.   

Overall The Name of the Star was a great read and one that I would recommend to fans of supernatural stories.  If you have an interest in history - Jack the Ripper in particular - then you're sure to enjoy the story.  I'm really looking forward to seeing where Maureen Johnson takes the series next.

Source: Received from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Review: Alien in the Family - Gini Koch

Planning any wedding is hard enough, but Katherine "Kitty" Katt and Jeff Martini have a lot more to worry about that seating arrangements, because multiple inter-stellar invasions, Alpha Team in mortal peril, and inter-alien conspiracies are all on the guest list - and the gifts they've brought contain some explosive surprises.

Kitty and Martini should be happily finalising their wedding plans. Kitty's biggest worries should be about winning over Martini's mother, finding the right dress, and lining up her bridesmaids. But protecting the Earth from assorted aliens threats seems to keep getting in the way.

The discovery that Martini is actually a member of the Alpha Centaurion Royal Family brings additional bad news - emissaries are on their way to see if Kitty's royal bride material. And they're not the only things coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Amazonian assassins, spies, alien beasties, shape-shifters, and representatives from the Planetary Council, combined with a tabloid reporter who's a little too on the mark, create a deadly situation for Kitty and the rest of Alpha Team. When the assassins strike far too close to home for anyone's comfort, Kitty realises it's going to come down to more than throwing the bouquet - she's going to have to face an entire planetary consciousness and dethrone a monarch in order to make it to the church on time....

Katherine "Kitty" Katt Series:
Touched by an Alien
Alien Tango
Alien in the Family
Alien Proliferation
Alien Diplomacy
Alien vs. Alien
Alien in the House
Alien Research
Alien Collective
Universal Alien
Alien Separation
Alien in Chief
Camp Alien
Alien Nation
Alien Education
Aliens Abroad (release date to be confirmed)
Aliens Like Us (release date to be confirmed)
Alien Galaxy (release date to be confirmed)
Alien Rescue (release date to be confirmed)
Alien Reckoning (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Gini Koch's website for more information

Review:
Alien in the Family continues the story six months on from the ending of Alien Tango, Kitty and Martini's relationship is stronger than ever and they are in the middle of planning their wedding. Their only worry should be how to keep the fact that Martini's family are all aliens a secret from Kitty's family but their lives are never that simple. It turns out that Martini is in fact a member of the Alpha Centaurion Royal Family and they're about to have visitors who want to make sure Kitty is a suitable wife for him. They aren't the only new additions to the guest list though, members of the Planetary Council are also on their way and things are about to get complicated!

If you've read any of my previous reviews for this series you'll already know that I've become a massive fan of Gini Koch - it's been a while since a new series hooked me in quite so quickly. I'm not sure how Gini does it but the series just keeps on getting better and better with each new instalment. To say Alien in the Family is action packed is an understatement, the surprises just keep coming and it makes for an addictive read. When I pick up one of these books I have to know I've got plenty of time to read - I can easily devour each book in one sitting and find them nearly impossible to put down once I get started.

I don't want to give spoilers by telling you any more about the plot so I'm just going to say if you love Kitty, Martini and the gang you're going to love this instalment. There are some fantastically sweet moments between Kitty & Martini, I love the friendship between Kitty & Reader and Kitty gets some fab new pets (OMG I want a Poof of my own!). Along with the team we know and love we are also introduced to some great new characters, Kitty gets to meet her alien soul sister and she also adds some new members to the airborn crew.

This story made me laugh and cry, it was an emotional roller coaster and I loved every minute of it. It's going to be a long wait until Alien Proliferation comes out in December and I know it will be a book I devour as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. Kitty and Martini remain one of my favourite fictional couples and I'm already looking forward to their next adventure. In the meantime I feel a re-read coming on! If you're yet to discover this series don't let the science fiction label put you off, if you're an urban fantasy fan who enjoys a fast paced story line with sexy characters and non-stop action then you'll adore these books!

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Book Trailer: The Carrier of the Mark - Leigh Fallon

Author Leigh Fallon's debut novel Carrier of the Mark is being released in the UK next week (on Thursday the 27th of October) by HarperCollins and it's a book I'm very excited about.  I think this cover is beautiful & the blurb (taken from Goodreads) has been desperate to read it!

Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRís.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

Visit Leigh Fallon's website for more information


I thought I'd share the US trailer for the book here, what do you think?  Is this one on your wish list?


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

Errand requiring immediate attention.  Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it.  Karou read the message.  'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.  When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance.  On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family.  Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping.  She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Night of Cake and Puppets (Novella)
Days of Blood and Starlight
Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Visit Laini Taylor's website or the Daughter of Smoke and Bone website for more information

Review:
Karou has spent years living a double life, on the one hand she is an art student studying in Prague and on the other she runs errands for a demon. She works hard to keep the two sides of her life separate but it isn't easy juggling her responsibilities - especially when Brimstone regularly makes her drop everything because he has a task for her. Brimstone is a wishmonger who collects teeth in exchange for wishes, he raised Karou from a baby but has always kept her origins a secret from her. With the doors to Elsewhere mysteriously closing Karou must choose between her human life and the demon family who brought her up.

I've said before that I get nervous picking up a book that has a lot of hype around it, so many times I have found myself disappointed by the story and not enjoying it as much as I expected to. I can tell you straight away that didn't happen with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, now I've read it I can confirm that it totally lives up to the hype! In fact it surpassed all my expectations and is currently my top read of 2011, it's going to take a miracle to knock this one off the top spot!

Karou is now one of my favourite YA female protagonists, she is smart and strong but also slightly vulnerable. In her life as a student in Prague she has the same concerns and problems most teenagers face, she worries about her studies, spends time with her best friend Zuzana and has issues with her cheat of an ex boyfriend. The way she deals with the ex made me laugh out loud but I'm not going to spoil anything by telling you more so you'll have to read the book if you're curious. Karou has never felt like she fits in completely in either of her worlds so when she finds herself cut off from Brimstone's shop and the only family she has ever known she feels lost and alone. I loved the fact that she doesn't just sit around feeling sorry for herself though, she is determined to find out why the doors have closed and discover a way to get back to Elsewhere.

I also loved that there are no good guys or bad guys, well not in your usual shades of black and white anyway. Brimstone was absolutely terrifying at times but he isn't completely evil and although he does some abhorrent things he usually does them for the right reasons. Akiva is a stunning angel and I absolutely loved the romance between him and Karou but he isn't perfect and some of his behaviour is questionable at times. Like I said it's all shades of gray in this story. The romance has a feel of Romeo and Juliet with love developing between characters who should by rights be enemies but it was a joy to read and very believable.

There is so much more I want to say but I'm very wary of giving unintentional spoilers so I'm going to stop here. I don't think I can recommend this book highly enough, the writing is absolutely beautiful and Laini Taylor has created a rich world populated with unusual characters. The story is sure to be a hit with any fantasy fan and is definitely at the top of my recommendation list. Daughter of Smoke and Bone has everything I look for in a book - strong characters, a believable world, humour, romance, plenty of action and a few good twists along the way. It is a book to be savoured and one that will leave you breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

Source: Received from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Hardback / Paperback / Kindle:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Launch Party - 3rd October 2011


A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the Hodder launch party for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  The launch was held in a bar called The Worship Street Whistling Shop in Shoreditch and I have to say it was a fab atmospheric place to visit.  As soon as we arrived we were treated to a special cocktail that had been created in honor of the book and started out a smokey grey and turned pink when they added the magic ingredient.  I didn't actually try one but they looked fantastic.


There was plenty of time to mingle with lots of my blogging friends and staff from Hodder while lots of delicious looking nibbles were being passed around.  They had the most amazing little meringues that turned people into fire breathing dragons when they ate them (with smoke coming out of their mouths and noses!) it was fun to watch I can tell you.

Viv & Sammee

Hayley, Stacey, Casey, Leanne & Alice

Rhys & Matt

Cait & Me

Then it was time to meet the lady we'd all come out to see Laini Taylor.  I absolutely loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone (watch out for my review coming tomorrow) so I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to meeting Laini!  She was just as nice in person as she is on Twitter and it was great to be able to chat with her and we were even able to get our books signed.  Thanks so much to Hodder who gave us all a beautiful hardback of the book (I also managed to get my arc signed for a future giveaway so keep an eye out for that one!).  Can I just tell you that Laini has the coolest hair I've ever seen, just look at the pictures below & you'll see what I mean, I absolutely love the colour!  I've always wanted to dye my hair blue but I'm now seriously tempted to give pink a try :o)

Laini & Viv

Laini & Sammee

Laini & Andy

Laini & me

A quick apology for the poor quality pictures - I forgot to take my camera *GASP* so had to use my phone instead.  I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone at Hodder for organising such a fun event and an even bigger thank you to Laini for writing such an awesome book and for spending so much time chatting with us all as she signed our massive piles of books!

Who was there?
Leni, Kate, Lucy & Nick - Hodder
Laini Taylor - Website
Casey & Hayley - Dark Readers
Liz & Essjay - My Favourite Books

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails
There was an error in this gadget