Sunday, 30 November 2014

Classics & Contemporaries | Science Fiction | Sci-Fi Month 2014

Due to my little hiatus I couldn't bring you Science Fiction in August, so I figured I'd just do two C&C posts in October as a Halloween treat. Then I discovered Sci-Fi Month, and it seemed a shame to do this installment of C&C outside of Sci-Fi Month!

So, at long last, here we have Science Fiction!

Now sci-fi, and especially classic sci-fi, is a genre I know very, very little about, so instead of the usual layout, today I'm going to be offering you some very simple recommendations. Enjoy!

If you like The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Read The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

If you like The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

If you like The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Read The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

If you like Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Read A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Thanks to Rinn Reads and Oh, The Books for a fantastic Sci-Fi Month!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas!

I didn't post anything on my blog yesterday, despite usually posting something every Monday and Friday. Boo me! The reason? I'm not very well. I have a really gross head cold, and while I've definitely felt worse in the past it did mean that I just couldn't be bothered to do anything yesterday.

So I'm making up for it this weekend! Tomorrow I'll finally be posting my Sci-Fi installment of Classics & Contemporaries to celebrate the end of Sci-Fi November, and today I have an announcement. This December I'm going to be blogging the Twelve Days of Christmas!

Now traditionally the twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days following on from Christmas day, but I'm going to switch it around a little and post something every day on the twelve days leading up to Christmas day. So, from the 13th of December through to Christmas Eve I'll be posting something every day, from book reviews to film recommendations to some of my favourite Christmas songs!

So until the 13th I'll be posting the odd Top Ten Tuesday and What's Up Wednesday posts, but other than that I'm saving everything for those twelve days.

I love Christmas, it's my favourite time of year, so I hope you enjoy what I have in store!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Blog Tour | Voices Echo by Linda Lee Graham | Spotlight

02_Voices Echo
Publication Date: June 16, 2014

Repository Press, LLC

eBook; 570 pages

Series: Voices Series

Genre: Romantic Historical Suspense


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The third book in the VOICES series, VOICES ECHO stands alone as a riveting depiction of both the beauty of 18th-century Jamaica and the horrors of plantation life in the British West Indies.

When Albert Ross sailed to Jamaica months after their wedding, Rhiannon Ross believed he'd abandoned her for the sanctuary of his West Indies plantation and complacent mulatta mistress. Not one to live life in limbo, Rhiannon has followed in a bid to secure the funds necessary to ensure her financial independence and position as his lawful wife, and to quell her growing attraction to her unsuitable American advisor, Liam Brock.

Determined to put the enticing Mrs. Ross out of his mind, Liam Brock accepts an assignment to escort a young heiress to her father's Jamaican estate. Convinced his and Rhiannon's ships have crossed paths, he is stunned to learn Rhiannon is still with her husband, and shocked when he finds her isolated and frightened--a shell of the vibrant woman who still fills his dreams. He begins to suspect that beneath the exotic beauty of an island teeming with vitality, there beats a sinister pulse.

As evidence of smuggling and dark magic are uncovered, Rhiannon realizes that not only is her plantation in danger, but the lives of those she holds dearest are at stake. Though she struggles to hide her feelings for Liam, she cannot bear the thought of him coming to harm because of her. As greed on the island evolves into violence and violence into murder, Liam and Rhiannon find themselves in the midst of a deadly intrigue. Both must decide how far they will go in the name of protecting the other, and how much they will sacrifice to attain a future neither thought possible.

Watch the Book Trailer

Buy the eBook


About the Author

03_Linda Lee GrahamHistory and real-life narratives had always blended in Graham's imagination, particularly when she delved into the stories of her family's ancestors. Eventually the engaging voices of characters who might have lived emerged. Tracing paper trails quickly gave way to creating her own stories, and she hasn't looked back since.

For more information please visit Linda Lee Graham's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Voices Echo Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 3

Review & Giveaway at Historical Romance Lover

Tuesday, November 4

Review & Interview at A Cup of Tea & A Big Book

Wednesday, November 5

Review at Book Nerd

Monday, November 10

Spotlight & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

Spotlight & Giveaway at Romance Junkies Blog

Wednesday, November 12

Review at Turning the Pages

Thursday, November 13

Guest Post at Bookish

Review at Romantic Historical Lovers

Monday, November 17

Interview at Book Babe

Tuesday, November 18

Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews

Thursday, November 20

Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews & More

Sunday, November 23

Spotlight at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Monday, November 24

Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, November 26

Review, Interview & Giveaway at A Way With Words

Thursday, November 27

Spotlight at Curiouser and Curiouser

Friday, November 28

Interview at Triclinium

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

What's Up Wednesday! | 26/11/14

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk as a way for writers and readers to stay in touch!

What I'm Reading

Since last week I've read The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly and finally gave up on A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan after three weeks of slogging through it. Both of these books were only okay. I reviewed The Little Women Letters on Goodreads here for anyone interested in my thoughts, and while I think I might return to A Natural History of Dragons at some point in future for now I want to concentrate on books I actually enjoy.

Today I'm hoping to make a start on my Winter TBR! I'm either going to pick up A Winter Flame or Burial Rites first, not sure which one just yet!

What I'm Writing

After a long break I'm finally starting to get back in the mood to work on Bloodroot and Bracken again, which is awesome.

Other than that I haven't been writing a whole lot, but I'm still jotting down ideas for one of my SNIs, a mix up of Sci-Fi and Contemporary Romance that I've mentioned before. I had a little brainwave this week regarding one of the characters, and because I'm in such a Christmassy mood it's accidentally turned into a Christmassy story. Probably because my favourite Christmas song is A Spaceman Came Travelling!

What Works For Me

I feel like this is going to make me sound really narcissistic, but sometimes I like to imagine that my WIP has been published and I'm being interviewed by BBC Radio 4's Book Club. Imagining what questions I could get asked about my characters and my writing process often helps me to solve something I'm struggling with. Weird, I know.

What Else Is New

I'm officially a published author! On Monday my science fiction short story, Beam Me Up, was published in the latest issue of Nebula Rift. It's only a short story, but I'm still really pleased - I've never had anything published before and it's a wonderful feeling!

And today I had a job interview with an independent publishing house based in South Wales. It's for a six month job as an administrative/marketing assistant. I do have another job waiting for me in January if I want it, but right now I'm keeping my options open. Of course if this company decide to offer me the job I need to make a decision, and when it comes to these kinds of decisions I hate making them.

I've also started working on my PhD applications. Fun stuff!

Other than that I've just been Christmas shopping and wrapping the presents I do have. I'm desperate to have all my presents so I can wrap them all and make them all look pretty; I think I love giving people presents more than I like receiving them, to be honest!

What's new with you?

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Top Ten Tuesday | My Winter TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find out everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR'. I really enjoyed doing my Autumn TBR, so I jumped at the chance to do another seasonal reading list. I know a lot of people like to read Christmassy books at this time of year - I do too! - but I'm pretty bad at reading things at the right time of year. I read Dash & Lily's Book of Dares during one of my Easter holidays. Oops!

So this year I'm making an effort to read some seasonal books - because I'm in a really wintery/Christmassy mood right now - which is why I've split my TBR into two mini piles. First up I have my Christmas/winter reads, and my second pile is made up of some YA books I really want to cross off my TBR before the end of the year!

Seasonal Reads

A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson: Lately I've been on a bit of a contemporary kick, which is unusual for me because contemporary reads aren't usually my thing. I borrowed this book from my library just yesterday and I can't wait to read it because it just sounds adorable, and I think Christmas is the perfect time for a bit of wintery romance reading!

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan: I read Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams at the beginning of the month purely so I could read this book when Christmas rolled around, and it's another one I'm really looking forward to reading because I loved the first book. Plus Jenny Colgan's latest novel, The Christmas Surprise, is another Rosie Hopkins novel, so if I read this one I might just read that one, too!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: This time of year is the perfect time to reread this classic, which is pretty much the only Dickens story I can push myself through. Victorian fiction is dense, but Dickens takes density to a whole new level...

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: Okay, so unlike the previous three I hope think this book is going to make me cry, because it doesn't have the most cheerful of premises, but I do think winter is the perfect time to read it because of its barren, Icelandic setting. I've owned this book since Easter and I've been saving it - I can't wait to read it!

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston: First of all, how gorgeous is that cover? With a name like The Winter Witch how can I not read this book at this time of year? Not only that, but it's set in Wales, where I'm currently living, so I'm interested to see how the setting has been described.

YA Reads

Blackout by Mira Grant: As I'm sure any of you who have been following my blog for a while will know, I've absolutely fallen in love with the Newsflesh trilogy this year. I've already started Blackout, but I'm savouring this trilogy while I still can and I'm aiming to finish it soon!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer: Taking part in Sci-Fi Month has really put me in the mood to read some sci-fi, and frankly The Host has been on my TBR pile for far too long - I've owned my copy since the book first came out, so it's about time I read it!

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers: The third and final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, another trilogy I've loved this year. I have this book on my Christmas list, so with any luck I'll find a copy of it under the tree on Christmas Day and I can see how this trilogy ends.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: I've heard nothing but praise for this series, and a couple of weeks ago I finally caved and bought myself a copy of The Raven Boys. I want to read it before the end of the year and see what all this hype is about!

My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins: I own quite a few short story collections, but I don't think I read enough of them at all. I don't own this one yet, but I think I might treat myself to a copy of it nearer Christmas for some festive fun!

Which books made your top ten?

Monday, 24 November 2014

My Favourite Female Science Fiction Authors | Sci-Fi Month 2014

I didn't really start getting into sci-fi until earlier this year. For a long time I felt as though I wasn't allowed to like it because I was a woman, and I was almost afraid of venturing into it for fear of being criticised because of my gender, especially as I'm useless when it comes to pretty much all sci-fi terminology and tropes.

As a feminist I'm rather ashamed that I let myself be scared away from the genre, especially considering there are so many amazing female authors and female protagonists in science fiction. I still consider myself a newbie to science fiction, but I've already discovered some fantastic female authors (some of whom I already liked, I just wasn't really aware I was reading science fiction at the time!) and today I'm going to share three of my favourites with you!

Mary Shelley

I couldn't possibly make a list about my favourite female science fiction authors without mentioning Mary Shelley, the woman whose work is believed to be responsible for modern day science fiction! Shelley is most famous for Frankenstein, one of my all time favourite classics, but it's not the only thing she wrote; she also wrote The Last Man, a piece of post apocalyptic fiction about the last man on earth, Mathilda, a novella which was never published during her lifetime because it explores incest, Valperga, a piece of historical fiction, and a series of supernatural short stories. Frankenstein, her masterpiece, is believed to be one of the very first science fiction novels.

Tanya Huff

I started reading Tanya Huff's work long before I started my adventure into science fiction. Huff is well known for her science fiction and fantasy works, and is especially known for the way in which she explores and upturns gender stereotypes. She is the author of several series, including the Blood Books and the Quarters novels, and is also the author of the Confederation series; a science fiction series with a female lead that is on my TBR!

Mira Grant

Any of you who have been following my blog regularly this year will know that I've fallen in love with Grant's Newflesh trilogy. It's quickly become one of my all time favourite series with one of my all time favourite heroines, and now I'm a little bit in love with Mira Grant. As well as writing the Newsflesh trilogy, a series about blogging, conspiracies and zombies, she is also the author of the Parasitology trilogy and, under her real name of Seanan McGuire, she is the author of the October Daye series.

Which authors do you love?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Review | The Giver by Lois Lowry

by Lois Lowry

My Rating: 

It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in the community wants for anything. Everything needed is provided. And at twelve years old, each member of the community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders.

Twelve-year old Jonas has never thought there was anything wrong with his world. But from the moment he is selected as the Receiver of Memory, Jonas discovers that their community is not as perfect as it seems.

It is only with the help of the Giver, that Jonas can find what has been lost. And it is only through his personal courage that Jonas finds the strength to do what is right…

If you're interested in reading my review with spoilers, you can find it on Goodreads here!

I won my copy of The Giver in a First Reads Giveaway.

I've been meaning to read this book for years. When it comes to dystopian fiction this story is a classic, so when I won myself a copy - rereleased to coincide with the release of the film - I was excited to read it at last.

Sadly, this book really disappointed me. The only thing that disappoints me more than a book I don't like is a book I don't like which has a lot of potential, and The Giver is one such book.

I like my dystopian fiction to scare me with the possibility that it could come true. Books like Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and The Hunger Games are frightening because we can see echoes of those stories in the world we live in now; we can understand how these societies may have come about. The Giver just didn't do that for me. I didn't get this community's way of life, and I didn't understand how a lot of it worked. For me dystopian fiction should have at least a grain of truth in it, but this community had somehow managed feats that I couldn't understand the science behind.

The Giver was too metaphorical for my tastes. There was a certain point that made me sad which is the main reason why I gave it 2 stars instead of 1, but I still didn't particularly enjoy the book.

The Giver just didn't do it for me, but judging by the other ratings on Goodreads I'm in the minority so be sure to read it for yourself if it's on your TBR!

Review | Legend by Marie Lu

by Marie Lu

My Rating: 

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. 

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. 

Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. 

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect.
Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

If you'd like to see my review with spoilers, you can find it on Goodreads here!

I'd be a liar if I said I didn't step into Legend with high expectations, but I was hugely disappointed. As far as I could tell from the blurb Legend had a very interesting premise, particularly as it was claiming to be a modern interpretation of Victor Hugo Les Miserables. However, the only similarity between the two novels is that there is someone of authority in pursuit of a criminal, and if that makes Legend a Les Mis retelling then so is every other novel which uses two such characters. That sure is a lot of retellings.

Unlike the characters in Les Mis, June and Day are flat. They can do everything; they are intelligent, quick, strong and talented and it's simply unbelievable. Throughout the novel they were far too similar to one another in terms of character. In other words, they are pretty much the same person with different genitalia. I like depth and conflict in characters, and for me June and Day have neither.

The romance between the two protagonists was far too quick and forced. Let's be honest for a minute here: this is the start of a YA dystopian trilogy with one male protagonist and one female protagonist, of course they're going to fall in love. I would have been pleasantly surprised if Lu had simply developed a friendship between the two of them and the romance for later in the trilogy. They barely knew another; it was a severe case of instalove.

The relationship I enjoyed most was that of June and her doomed brother Metias. They had a closeness which was lovely to read, and I think Metias may have been my favourite character in the novel. There was something honourable, admirable and rather gentle about him, so I very much enjoyed his role within the story. It says something, then, if my favourite character was the one who was killed in one of the very early chapters.

Overall there wasn't enough character building in the novel for me - I found none of them, aside from Metias, particularly memorable - but I also felt a lack of world building, which is a shame because some of the aspects of the futuristic world Lu created intrigued me, but instead Lu seemed to ghost over all of the details.

In fact what Legend is lacking in plot and character development it seems to make up for in descriptions of what every single character is wearing - including the ones who don't matter! I love a good outfit just as much as the next person, but I'd rather read about what a character is doing than what they're wearing. Give me a scenario and I can probably picture an outfit for them myself! Unless a particular aspect of an outfit is going to be important later then I don't need to know what every single person is wearing all the time.

All in all I think it's fairly obvious that Legend is certainly not a novel I'm particularly fond of, and I doubt that I'll read the rest of the trilogy. If I don't care about the main characters in the first book then I'm not likely to care what happens to them throughout the other two books either. In terms of YA dystopia this was a disappointment for me but, despite my criticism of it, it would make a good read for readers out there who enjoy fast-paced, quick reads who are perhaps only just starting out in the dystopian genre.

As for my copy, I think it's going to find a new home either in a charity shop or in a library.

Stories & Songs #4 | Sci-Fi Month 2014

Sci-Fi Month continues, and today I thought I'd post a sci-fi only edition of Stories & Songs. As always, you can find all the songs mentioned here in this playlist!

by George Orwell

"Mad World"
Gary Jules

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head, I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world, mad world

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Katy Perry

You're so hypnotizing
Could you be the devil?
Could you be an angel?

Your touch magnetizing
Feels like I am floating
Leaves my body glowing

They say: be afraid,
You're not like the others
Futuristic lover
Different DNA
They don't understand you

You're from a whole 'nother world
A different dimension
You open my eyes
And I'm ready to go
Lead me into the light

Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me,
Infect me with your love and
Fill me with your poison

Take me, ta-ta-take me,
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction

Boy, you're an alien
Your touch so foreign
It's supernatural

by Marissa Meyer

"Make Me a Robot"
Tessa Violet

I don't want to be a human anymore,
I'm done
I don't want to make mistakes anymore,
He's won

I'm too old to change.
Take my heart and I'll restart; please just let me fall apart
You may say it's strange,
But I quit, guess that's it; for a human I'm unfit, so

Make me a robot.
Make me a robot.
Make, make me cold.
Make me a robot.
Make me a robot.
Take, take my soul.

by Suzanne Collins

"If I Die Young"
The Band Perry

If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in a river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

Uh oh, uh oh

Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colours, oh,
And life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no,
Ain't even grey, but she buries her baby

The sharp knife of a short life, oh well
I've had just enough time

by Stephenie Meyer

"Children of the Universe"
Molly Smitten-Downes

Something's stirring in the silence
And it reeks of passive violence
Hold on tight this opportunity we'll take,
Put an end to all this suffering
Before it gets too late
Hope's on the horizon
I'm not giving in

We're children of the universe, don't you know?
Dancing on the edge of time and it's ours to own
Just children of the universe

We're shining like diamonds
With love in our hearts,
They said it's the end but I've a feeling
It might just be the start
As I am awakened with fire in my bones
Standing beside you I've a feeling
That I'll never walk alone

Thursday, 20 November 2014

My Sci-Fi Wish List | Sci-Fi Month 2014

Sci-Fi Month continues, and today I thought I'd share with you some of the sci-fi novels I'd really like to get my hands on!

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: Isn't that cover just stunning? Space usually freaks me out - even more so the idea of being lost/stuck in space - but I've heard nothing but praise for this book since its release and I want to stop letting space freak me out.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: The whole premise of this book just sounds fascinating. The more I get into sci-fi the more I discover books I'd really like to check out, and this is one of them.

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout: I've heard a lot of people describing this book as Twilight with aliens, and while I'm no longer a fan of Twilight (though I won't deny I did like it during my teens) I've heard a lot of praise for this series, too. And, in all honesty, it just sounds like a bit of shameless alien fun to be had.

Valour's Choice by Tanya Huff: I love Tanya Huff. She's the author of the Blood Books, a vampire series that I love, and I adore the way she challenges gender stereotypes in her books. After writing a vampire series with a fantastic female lead I'd love to see read her female-led sci-fi!

Alienated by Melissa Landers: Like Obsidian, this book just sounds fun. There's something about stories that treat relations between earth and other planets as somewhat ordinary that I really like; I've no doubt that there are other planets out there with other civilisations - the universe is huge, how can there not be? - and I like to think if there was we'd organise school exchanges, too.

So those are just some of the sci-fi novels I'd like to read soon! Which sci-fi titles do you most want to read?