Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Hot Key Blogger Brunch: What's coming in 2015!

On the 18th of April, I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Hot Key Books Blogger Brunch. There was absolutely no way that I was going to miss that! It was based at their offices and luckily that's only a twenty five minute train journey from my house, but I'd probably have gone even if it was the other side of the country. I adore Hot Key Books and they publish some amazing books, I couldn't wait to go and find out what they had coming up in 2015.

Photo by Zarina
I arrived nice and early and got to mingle with a few bloggers. I was attending by myself so felt a tiny bit shy and nervous*, but tried my best to make conversation with the lovely bloggers there. It was nice to meet so many wonderful people, especially when we all share a love of books. I tried to take some pictures of the event but I've been having a lot of issues with my camera recently, so most of mine came out really blurry. Luckily the wonderful Zarina over at Page to Stage Reviews has been kind enough to let me use a few of the ones she took at the event! Thank you, Zarina, you're a life saver!

*And by a little bit, I mean cripplingly shy! I am far too socially awkward and fail at small talk. 

Then we got taken through from reception into the main office, where we were presented with yummy breakfast food and drink. Here we had time to mingle and talk to everyone, have some munchies before heading into the boardroom. I have to say it, the Hot Key offices are absolutely stunning and I never wanted to leave. The walls were covered in gorgeous posters of some of their book covers, then they had shelves filled with wonderful books that I've either read and loved, or I am desperate to read.

Photo by Zarina
First up was James Dawson, who had a lot of wonderful things to say about blogger. He was there to talk about his new book All of the Above, which is due out 3rd September. His titles before this have all had a horror element to them, but this book moves away from that. It's a teen love story that sees a seventeen-year-old girl move from Bradford to Devon, where she has the chance to start over. She falls in love with a guy named Nico. But then has to deal with the fact she starting to fall in love with the charismatic Penny. It's a mix of prose and poetry and it sounds awesome!

The wonderful staff at Hot Key came next, talking about all the exciting titles they have coming up in 2015. But I am going to showcase those ones at the end, so it's time to move on to the next author that was there to talk about there latest releases. And that was Lydia Syson, who has a new book coming out on the 7th May and that is Liberty's Fire.

Syson sold it to me with one sentence, she told us to think 'Les Mis forty years on' and that was me sold. Give me the book, let me devour it and let me love it! The book is set in Paris, in 1871 and the rich have gotten richer, whilst the poor have only got poorer. Change is needed and it seems like a new revolution may be coming. This book follows Zephryine, a sixteen-year-old girl who finds herself being lured in by new government and all it is promising the people. But Zephryine finds herself falling in love with violinist Anatole, and seeing the reality of revolution. This is going to be a marvellous historical fiction and I plan to get to this very soon.

Photo by Zarina

Next up was Jess Vallance, whose debut novel Birdy is coming out July 2nd. This sounds like a very dark and creepy read, the perfect thing for anyone who loved Dangerous Girls. This is a story about a friendship that takes a dark and twisted turn. Frances Bird has always been a loner, but when she's tasked with taking the new girl, Alberta, under her wing she finds herself a friend. But things start to get complicated when Bert tries to make new friends and do things without Frances. I am excited to see what twists, turns and shocks this dark read has in store for me. I am beyond excited to get to this one, it's one gorgeous book!

Photo by Zarina
Hayley Long was next and she had two books to talk about. I just have to say this now, Hayley Long is absolutely hilarious. That woman had the whole room cracking up laughing, she was just one of the funniest women I have ever met.
She read from her non-fiction book, Being a Girl - that's out June 4th - and her chapter on periods is just completely on point. Hot Key Books need to hurry up and get her to record an audio book for that, I need that in my life as soon as. She also has a fiction book, Sophie Someone, coming in September, which sees a fourteen-year-old girl realise that everything she had ever thought to be true about her life isn't. It also sees Hayley Long give Sophie her very own language, which adds a whole element to the story. I've already read this one, and Being a Girl, and I thoroughly enjoyed both.

Julie Mayhew came next and she was there to talk about a book that I am so excited to read and can't believe I actually have an ARC of. It's called The Big Lie , it's out August 27th, and it is set in a present day UK, but in a modern day UK if the Nazis had won World War II. Now that's a pretty scary thought, but an absolutely fascinating one too and something I am eager to read. Jessika is a girl that does all she can to follow orders and impress the adults around her. But her best friend Clementine doesn't feel the same and she isn't afraid to show it. But when people begin to notice, Jessika realises she may have to give up the life she has known if she is going to protect her friend.
Photo by Zarina
Last up was Laura Dockrill, who was there to talk about her upcoming book Lorali, which will be in stores on 2nd July. Laura read a passage from the book and she had us all in fits of giggles as she read from a blog post from the book, where a girl talks through what she believed to be the stages one needs to take to become a mermaid. I just could not stop laughing. Her impression of a blogger and then of a siren just had me in absolute hysterics. I mean, how could you not laugh at 'Sirens - fuck me, I'm gonna eat you!'. Has there ever been a more accurate description of a siren before. I think not! Lorali is a book that I am going to get to asap. It has mermaids, romance, fit pirates, bloggers. What more could you want?

After all the authors had spoke about their upcoming releases, it was time to mingle again. An opportunity to grab the books you couldn't wait to read. A time to eat some more yummy food, have a drink and talk books. I got my books signed by the authors and had a fun time talking to them all. I'm horribly shy, so I have to admit to being beyond excited that they were serving prosecco. I'd rather be the more drunker me who makes up for being shy by never shutting up, then the sober me who says nothing at all!

Photo by Zarina
I had an absolutely lovely time getting to talk to everyone. The wonderful people at Hot Key couldn't have been more friendly and inviting if they tried. I loved watching them talk about the upcoming titles and see them get excited about them. Livs talking about the Irenmonger series was one of my highlights of the day, her excitement about it was contagious. Jen was willing to talk to me in depth about Piccadilly Press and the titles they offer, ones that are just want I am looking for at the moment to go in our books for assisted learners at the new library I manage. It was wonderful to meet Sanne, Rosi and Monique as well - nice to finally put a face to the name on the bottom of the Hot Key emails! - and they were all so lovely.

I had a wonderful time and didn't want to leave, I could have sat and talked books all night. It's days like that that make me certain that I would truly be happy in publishing. It's something that I am so passionate about and, even though I love libraries, it would be something I could put all my love, enthusiasm and hard work into. It's something I honestly want to work towards, but feel maybe I am getting too old and not qualified enough, But who knows!

Now time for more books! Here's some amazing titles coming from Hot Key Books this year.

Outcaste by Ellen Renner (Tribute #2)

This is the sequel to Tribute and Hot Key suggests that if you're a fan of Philip Pullman then you will love this. I adore Philip Pullman, so they didn't really have to tell me any more but everything they did sold me on it more. It has strong female characters, mages, spies, romance and action. And it's a fantasy series. YES, GIMME!
Out 7th May.

The Wondrous and the Wicked by Page Morgan (The Dispossessed #3)

This is the third book in a series, one I haven't read yet but plan to. The series involves the Underworld, demons and gargoyles. And the gargoyles get the same treatment in this that vampires got in Twilight, they're all strangely attractive for some reason. This is dark in some places and has a historical backdrop, set in Paris. The first book is The Beautiful and the Cursed and the sequel was The Lovely and the Lost.
Out 7th May.

Trollhunters by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus 

This is Guillermo Del Tor's first YA read and how could I not want to read that. It's said to be perfect for fans of Pan's Labyrinth. It's set in California, where children are going missing and only Jim seems to believe that trolls are to blame.
Out 30th June.

Clariel by Garth Nix (Abhorsen #4)

The prequel to the Old Kingdom trilogy is finally coming out in glorious, gorgeous paperback. The cover is absolutely stunning! It's a book that you could read as a standalone, if you didn't want to read the original trilogy. But I read the trilogy and really enjoyed it, so I am really looking forward to this one.
Paperback releases in June.

To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix

This is a short story collection and includes an new Old Kingdom novella!
Out 9th June.

The Door That Led To Where by Sally Gardner

This first released in hardback back in January, and I've reviewed it already - which you can find here if you're interested in finding out more.
Paperback releases in August.

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Mlynowksi

This one sounds amazing, and I might just be saying that because E. Lockhart is a part of it. What can I say, I am desperate for more from her. Each author writes the POV of a character, Jess the opinionated Christian, Vicks the cool, calm one and Mel the newcomer. This involves a road trip, and I can't help but be drawn to road trip books.
Paperback released 4th June.

Almost Grace by Rosie Rowell

This is a coming of age novel set in contemporary South Africa, and that was all I needed to know. I actually can't think of one book I've read that has been set there. The boyfriend was born and raised over in South Africa and it sounds beautiful, I'd love to see what the author does with the setting in this.
Out 4th June.

Only We Know by Simon Packham 

I really can't wait for this one to release, it sounds so good! There's not even a synopsis for it on Goodreads yet, which is a little annoying. But, from what we were told on the day, it has a mystery element to it. Lauren moves away from her home town and is able to get a new start for herself. She starts to receive anonymous notes and we learn that something is being hidden about her past. I am intrigued!
Out 4th June.

Paperweight by Meg Haston

Stevie is trying to come to terms with her brothers death, whilst coping with an eating disorder and being shipped off to a health centre for women. The chapters are in days. Sounds emotional and amazing.
Out 2nd July. 

Foulsham by Edward Carey (Iremonger #2)

I think Livs excitement for this series managed to sell it to everyone in the room. I am going to be devouring book one as soon as I can, then it's on to book two.
Paperback releases 2nd July.

The Good Girls by Sara Shepard (The Perfectionists #2)

I recently read and really enjoyed The Perfectionists, which is the first book in the series, and it has me itching to get my hands on book two. In the first book, Mackenzie, Ava, Caitlin, Julie and Parker all have a reason to hate Nolan Hotchkiss, so much so that they even discuss the way they would kill him if they could. It's all talk, of course. That is until Nolan Hotchkiss turns up dead, in the way they had discussed. Book one ends without the girls solving the crime, so I am desperate to get to book two and see what happens next.
Out 2nd July.

As Black as Ebony by Salla Simukka (Lumikki Andersson #3)

This is the third book in a YA crime series that take place in Finland. There are two more books in the series: As Red as Blood and As White as Snow. I read book one and really loved it, mostly because of how great a character Lumikki Andersson is.

Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall

This book is set in Scotland and has a supernatural mystery element to it. This one sounds really good and I am very desperate to get my hands on it. Heather goes on a group camping trip with her boyfriend, Dougie, and his friends. Then it skips forward a year, where Heather has scars and Dougie is still in a coma and a mystery surrounding what really happened.
Out 6th August 

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

This was pitched as a The Breakfast Club meets Sherlock and what could be better than that? This sounds like a fun crime novel. Zoe moves and meets Digby, who ropes her into helping him track down a kidnapper. Really does sound like it's going to be a fun read. I snagged an ARC and can't wait to read it.
Out 4th August

Cloud 9 by Alex Campbell

Hope runs a blog, where she promotes and endorses Leata, a pill that takes the edge off. Tom has never taken the pill, none of his family has - they're happy enough without it. But when his journalist father dies under mysterious circumstances
Out 3rd September
When I Was Me by Hilary Freeman

This is a darker read and contains many twists! Ella wakes up one morning to find she's not herself and no one else seems to realise anything is wrong. This seems very Never Never to me, and that sounds good to me! GIMME!
Out 3rd September

Here's a few that don't have any covers. You can check up more about them on Goodreads, just follow the links.

Monsters by Emerald Fennell - 3rd September

Counting Stars by Keris Stainton - 3rd September
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly - 27th October

And these were all the pretties that ended up coming home with me. I'm slowly making my way through them. 6 down so far and I enjoyed every single one! 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Mini Reviews: The Adult Fiction Edition

Title: The Three 
Author: Sarah Lotz
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy this book: Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) / Book Depository
Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he's right?The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.   Dubbed 'The Three' by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival...
I really had no idea what to expect from The Three when I started it. There was a small part of me that was a little nervous that it was going to be a really creepy read and that I might wimp out when reading it. It turned out that it wasn't creepy at all, even if it was probably trying to be. It's told completely through interviews, phone conversations, messages and media reports that slowly unravel the story of Black Thursday and what happens to the three children who survive.

Black Thursday took place on the 12th January 2012, four commercial planes crash around the world, killing almost everyone involved. However three children survive, from three separate crashes and these children become known as The Three in the press. Mystery surrounds the children as more information comes out about the crashes, and conspiracy theories start to gain more and more support as time goes on. 

My ending feels.
This book really grabbed me at first and I was sucked into the story. The style took some getting used to, but I liked it because it was all speculation. Everything was the opinion of someone, so you had to try and figure out what was really the truth. I got more and more nervous as the story went on because I felt like I knew what was going to happen at the end. I didn't know. I was so very wrong and I was left so very disappointed. 

I'd thought it was a very smart look at how powerful the media can be. How quickly rumour can become truth to people. But it just wasn't that at all. I was left completely disappointed by the ending and thought it was really poorly done. I'm certain I could have written an ending that was a million times more satisfying and powerful. I'm clearly not going to be continuing the series and reading Day Four. 

2/5 Butterflies

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. 

Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy this book: Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) / Book Depository
Shea Rigsby is content enough with her life in the small town of Walker, Texas. She has her dream fangirl job working for Walker's football team, a mostly satisfactory relationship with her boyfriend, and even if she's got the sneaking feeling life is passing her by, she doesn't quite have the confidence to do anything about it.But everything changes when the mother of Lucy, Shea's best friend, dies suddenly. Lucy's father, now a widower, is the town's charismatic football coach, and Shea's hero since she was a young girl. Coach Carr is now alone as he and Shea grow closer than ever, Shea realises she can't help how she feels . . . for the father of her best friend, who's grieving for his wife
I was really surprised when I read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin and ended up loving it. I even enjoyed the sequel Something Blue. But I've not enjoyed any book by her that I have read since. So I probably should have already learnt my lesson and not even bothered with The One & Only, but I think a part of me is still hoping that she will write another decent story. But apparently she won't.

Some of you may end up loving this book and thinking the story is really romantic. I just couldn't, wouldn't and never will. This basically tells the story of a woman who ends up falling in love with and having a relationship with her best friends father. Not too long after that best friends mother has died. The best friend she has been best friends with since she was a child. This guy used to babysit her when she was little. Am I the only one who finds that ridiculously creepy?

I don't care how much I love my best friend, if they tried to sleep with my father they would no longer be considered my best friend. They wouldn't be considered any kind of friend, I would disown them. Then I would probably disown my dad for sleeping with someone who is the same age as his youngest daughter. IT'S JUST CREEPY! Why did Emily Giffin think this was a great idea for a romance novel?

2/5 Butterflies

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.

Title: Away From You
Author: Kay Langdale
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy this book: Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) / Book Depository
The heartbreaking novel from the author of CHOOSE ME, about the sacrifices parents must make and the anguish that can befall them. When Monica is offered a three-month placement in LA, she knows that for the sake of her career she must accept it - even though it means leaving behind nine-year-old Ruby, toddler Luca and her husband Daniel. She hires Ursula as a housekeeper and nanny during her absence, although the older woman is oddly reluctant to agree to a childcare position. What is the dark secret in Ursula's past, which has left her so closed-off and reserved? Will her growing attachment to Ruby bring it to the surface? And will Monica regret leaving the children in her care?
This is a hard one for me to review and I still don't think I am entirely sure what I make of this book. I did think it was really well written and I liked Langdales writing style, but I struggled with her characters. Especially when it came to Ruby, who seemed more like a forty-year-old woman than she did a nine-year-old girl. She spoke like an actual grown up and it didn't seem very realistic to me.

Ursula's past absolutely fascinated me though and I was kept guessing for a lot of the novel. I had to know what had happened to her in her life. And when I finally did my heart actually broke a little. This book also introduced me to a term I hadn't heard of before, but probably should have. It makes me sad to think it happens so often that we need a term for it. This book was beautifully written and incredibly moving. It's not a favourite of mine, not something I will read again but I do think it was a great story.

4/5 Butterflies

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.

Title: The Life I Left Behind
Author: Colette McBeth
Publisher: Headline
Buy this book: Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) / Book Depository
I'm the only one who knows the secrets her friends have hidden, the mistakes the police have made.I'm the only one who can warn her she's still in danger.I know exactly who attacked her.He's the same man who killed me.
I really enjoyed this one, even if the mystery aspect wasn't as hard to guess as I would have hoped. My first guess and only suspect ended up being right, but it didn't affect how much I enjoyed this book. I still enjoyed the story and the characters and watching it all unfold.

Melody, our lead character, grows so much over the course of this novel and I liked watching that. She has been struggling for years since a man, always assumed to be her next door neighbour, tried to murder her. Years later another murder seems to link back to the guy who tried to kill her. But the more she delves into it the more she realises that an innocent man might have gone to jail for the crime.

I thought this story was a very believable mystery novel, especially in comparison to other ones I have read recently. I also loved The Lovely Bones element to the story, as we get to continue Eve's story, the girl who was murdered, as she watches Melody try to hunt down her killer. If you're looking for an interesting mystery read then I highly recommend this one.

4/5 Butterflies

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.

Title: Keep Quiet
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Publisher: Headline
Buy this book: Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) / Book Depository
One decision. One family's future in ruins.When Jake Buckman decides to let Ryan, his sixteen-year-old son practice driving home along a deserted street, he has no idea of the deadly consequences.But in the darkness of night, a runner comes from nowhere and the hit is fatal.Now Jake and Ryan have two options: admit Ryan's responsibility ... or drive home as though nothing happened. What follows is not a clear-cut hit and run, but a split-second decision by a father who will do anything to protect his son. How much should a parent sacrifice for their child? And could any family survive the burden of such a terrible secret?
How I felt after reading this book.
I was incredibly disappointed with this one, and also surprised by how utterly ridiculous the story was. I thought it was going to be another one of those hit and run stories that I have seen far too often. The one where the parent tries to take the fall for their child. That would have been bad enough, because it's a story that I have seen so many times before. But this just had to push that story into the realm of absolutely ridiculous.

This is going to be a very mini review because I don't want to waste more time on this novel, it's bad enough that I wasted hours of my life reading it. Just know that I wouldn't recommend it in a million years.
1/5 Butterflies

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.

Title: Leaving Time
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Buy this book:   Amazon(US) / Amazon(UK) / Book Depository
For over a decade, Jenna Metcalf obsesses on her vanished mom Alice. Jenna searches online, rereads journals of the scientist who studied grief among elephants. Two unlikely allies are Serenity Jones, psychic for missing people who doubts her gift, and Virgil Stanhope, jaded PI who originally investigated cases of Alice and her colleague. Hard questions and answers.
Jodi Picoult has been an auto-buy author for me since I read My Sister's Keeper and absolutely loved it. I have bought and devoured every single book the woman has ever written and I have mostly loved each and every one. But in the last few years I have found myself not enjoying her latest novels. I feel they were getting a little too predictable and like I knew just what to expect from them. She's known for her twists, but they start having the same power when you spend the whole novel expecting it.

This one was really interesting and the mystery element worked really well. But the twist was actually what ruined this for me. I know that it totally shocked some, blew them away and really impressed me. But it mostly ruined this story for me because I just didn't get it. Not that I didn't understand the twist because I did. I just didn't get why that was where the story ended up. It's a twist I've seen before in novels, but also a twist I have seen before in a Jodi Picoult novel already.

This was definitely not one of JP's best books. This one felt a bit all over the place and maybe something that I would enjoy more on a reread. The elephant facts that are put throughout the novel start to get a little boring. There's only so much I need to or want to know about elephants. This novel will probably be more appreciated by people who are completely fascinated by all things elephant. I am just not one of those people.

3/5 Butterflies