Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Month That Was... April 2015

Hurrah for readathon! I really was feeling my reading mojo sliding away this month but readathon got me right back on track, with 13 books in total read in April. Although now it means I have lots of review writing catch up to do! A blogger's work is never done...

I've brought back my UK Goodreads giveaway round-ups that were previously on Win All the Books. I will try and do them on a semi regular basis from now on, though they won't be every week. I will also annouce a Book of the Month each month, based on what went on the blog rather than what I've read, mostly as I've been reading a bit further ahead than I normally would with advance copies. So if there's only one review you read each month, make sure it's that one.

Here's what made it onto the blog...

Book of the Month:
Uprooted by Naomi Novik


Read and awaiting review:

The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis, The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner, Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan + Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor.

Blogged about:

UK Goodreads Giveaways
More UK Goodreads Giveaways
#readathon: getting ready to rumble
#readathon: hour five
#readathon: hour nine
#readathon: hour thirteen
#readathon: hour nineteen
#Readathon Mini Challenge - Draw It Out!
#readathon complete
Recommended Readathon Reads
Kim Curran: What it feels like to be a UKYA author right now

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Space Traveller's Guide to the Solar System

Do you look up at the night sky and wish you could travel through space and visit the planets of our solar system? Do you know what the weather’s like on Venus? What’s life really like travelling in space? Mark Thompson is about to take you on a journey, from our planet Earth to the ends of the solar system.

As soon as we travel beyond the protective confines of our ecosystem we can expect no air to breathe, no atmospheric pressure to stop our blood boiling, and a fatal dose of solar radiation.

In part, the journey is told in second person, to make it feel as if you’re the one travelling through space. It kind of has the effect of making it feel like a kid’s book in a way, although the science will go over most youngster’s heads. Some of the physics passed me by to be honest, especially the parts about gravitational effects of planets. The chemistry and geology side was more at my level of understanding.

I learned what will happen when the sun reaches the end of its life and which planets, or moons, hold the most hope for future settlements should the worst happen. I found reading about the weather on other planets fascinating, and the reasons why they are so different from Earth. The book is divided up by location, starting with how to plan your journey and get into space and then visiting each planet one by one, describing its environment and behaviours in detail, plus small snippets of relevant historical information.

Contrary to what many sci-fi films depict, we do not yet have a magic device that when turned on causes gravity to suddenly appear.

The sections dealing with space travel and life on board a space ship were very down-to-earth. This may burst the bubble of anyone hoping for Star Trek style ships in the future, but it also highlights how much we have achieved in such an alien environment. It is a miracle we have made it into space at all. There’s even a tiny bit about sex in space!

I would definitely recommend this book to go on your research list if you’re writing space based fiction or creating other worlds that you want to appear feasible or hostile. There’s a tendency to create duplicates of earth, when the likelihood of other planets being like ours is so slim. This book really brought that home. Let’s hope we’re not hit by a giant asteroid any time soon…

A Space Traveller's Guide to the Solar System is published by Bantam Press and is available now in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

#readathon complete

Local time: 13:00
Hours spent reading: 20
Pages read: 1493
Books finished: 4
Feeling: ready for a lie down
Raised for charity: £163.93

Woohoo, we made it! Thanks to everyone who shared their drawing for my mini challenge. I will peruse them all later and draw a prize winner once I'm more with it. I will have to just accept that 20ish hours is my maximum, with our starting times here.

My donations add up to £34.93 and thanks to everyone whose donated as well, bringing in a total of £163.93!

Pages read since last update: 316

I'm Reading for Alzheimer's - Donate Here

#Readathon Mini Challenge - Draw It Out!

Welcome to Hour 20's Mini Challenge!

So what's your current book about? No, don't tell me in words, I want to see a picture! Please draw a scene from your current read (or any one you're read during the readathon).

You've been awake at least 19 hours now, so I'm not expecting a masterpiece. Stick people are welcome here!

You can get simple drawing apps for your tablet or smartphone, or use whatever software's on your computer (Paint's OK, honest). Draw on paper and take a photo or scan it in. You can create it out of leftover snacks or that coffee you threw everywhere in a sleep deprived haze. Please note, I will need to see your picture if you want to enter to win a book BUT you can just join in anyway, as it's a good break for your brain.

Leave a comment with a link to your picture here, or you can tweet me your picture @patchworkbunny (also on Instagram).

#readathon: hour nineteen

Local time: 07:00
Hours spent reading: 14
Pages read: 1177
Books finished: 4
Feeling: undead
Raised for charity: £154.77

So it was the lurgy after all and I gave in and went to bed at 3am. Going to try and carry on at a leisurely pace for the rest of the morning, drugged up on Lemsip.

Currently reading: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor + You Say Potato by Ben + David Crystal
Read: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis + Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan
Pages read since last update: 228

I'm Reading for Alzheimer's - Donate Here

#readathon: hour thirteen

Local time: 01:00
Hours spent reading: 12
Pages read: 949
Books finished: 3
Feeling: bleary eyed
Raised for charity: £150.49

Well I've hit my fundraising target at least, though that doesn't mean I'm stopping just yet. It is past my normal bedtime now and I'm feeling a bit under the weather, so I might have to risk a forfeit for a few hours sleep. I haven't read this solidly in ages though, so that's a huge plus. I might even be caught up on that dreaded Goodreads target I set...

Currently reading: Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan + You Say Potato by Ben + David Crystal
Read: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman + The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis
Pages read since last update: 329

If I wanted to make up memories, wouldn't they be good ones? Wouldn't all my childhood stories have happy endings?

I'm Reading for Alzheimer's - Donate Here

Saturday, 25 April 2015

#readathon: hour nine

Local time: 21:00
Hours spent reading: 8
Pages read: 620
Books finished: 2
Feeling: full
Raised for charity: £143.20

The Little Black Classic edition of The Yellow Wall-Paper actually contained three stories, so I read them all but the title story was definitely the strongest. I would say the stories are ghost stories, although The Yellow Wall-Paper could be read in several ways. For the most part it feels like a woman who could be suffering from paranoia, but then don't we all imagine things in patterns that aren't there? I think there's a recognised phenomenon, whereby people will always try and see faces in things. Anyway, a good one to keep you awake if you're reading late at night with some dodgy wallpapered walls...

I really enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss, everyone was right, it is a great readathon read. I also dipped into You Say Potato and have read half of The Earth is Singing, which is a very saddening story of a half-Jewish Latvian girl who is living in Riga when the Nazis come to town.

Currently reading: The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis + You Say Potato by Ben + David Crystal
Read: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins + The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Pages read since last update: 314

The only thing I can think of that it is like the color of the paper! A yellow smell.

I'm Reading for Alzheimer's - Donate Here

#readathon: hour five

Local time: 17:00
Hours spent reading: 4
Pages read: 306
Books finished: 0
Feeling: hayfeverish
Raised for charity: £136.06

Waaah why has my hayfever hit me now? Or maybe it's the dreaded lurgy? At least Anna and the French Kiss has been distracting me nicely and I've polished off a cinnamon bun, fresh out the oven. Yum! And we'll soon be ordering our gourmet pizzas. I should be finished my first book soon and then I'll probably read The Yellow Wall-Paper for the readalong. You can get the ebook for free if you want to join in.

Currently reading: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Pages read since last update: 306

I wish for the thing that is best for me.

I'm Reading for Alzheimer's - Donate Here

#readathon: getting ready to rumble

Local start time: 13:00
Hours spent reading: 0
Pages read: 0
Books finished: 0
Feeling: ready for action!
Raised for charity: £129.00

I'm going to stress, sleeping is not a failure. I thoroughly recommend a nap, especially for those of us starting in the afternoon. It's just since I am reading for charity, my boyfriend came up with a forfeit system to encourage me to raise more money. I am only glad that he budged on making me read Jordan's biography and instead, for every hour I sleep, I will have to read 60 pages of Zoella's book (which I might even like considering it's ghost-written). I am reading in aid of the Alzheimer's Society again, and donation links are all over the place if you'd like to help out.

I will donate:
£1 for every hour I stay awake
1p for every page read

Josh is staying up with me and having his own code-athon. It's possibly top secret stuff, so I won't say what he's working on just yet. Just in case one of you pinches the idea and sells it to Facebook for $1billion... He'll also be making me coffee, playing games and reading if he needs a break from the code.

I'll be aiming to post an update here every 4 hours or so, plus I'll be on Instagram and Twitter throughout. Find out more about the readathon at

P.S. Don't forget to pee!

I'm Reading for Alzheimer's - Donate Here

Starting Questionnaire

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
By the sea in Bournemouth, England.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I only just read Daughter of Smoke and Bone the other week (I know, I know) so I am looking forward to Days of Blood and Starlight which I bought just for readathon.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
We're dieting so readathon means I actually get to be a little bit naughty! Josh is currently making cinnamon buns, I can't wait! We are ordering pizza for dindins but we also have some new-fangled tortilla Pringles. Even the healthy option watermelon looks good from where I'm sitting...

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I am the owner of a 5 legged leaf insect called Steve McQueen. I have been blogging for 4 years and read a wide range of books but lean towards SFF and YA. Or my books lean towards me, there are towering piles everywhere. I break software for a living.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
I reckon I'm getting this readathon lark down to an art form. I wasn't reading for charity last time, so I guess I'll make more of an effort to read longer. I'm also hosting a mini-challenge (not Book Jenga this time, something different). Check in at Hour 20!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

More UK Goodreads Giveaways

Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins by James Runcie
10 copies, UK only
Ends 1st May

Nelly Dean by Alison Case
10 copies, UK + Ireland
Ends 8th May

The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena De Blasi
20 copies, UK only
Ends 17th May

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
5 copies, UK + Ireland
Ends 30th April

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary
10 copies, UK only
End 13th May

Hunted by Carla Norton
5 copies, UK only
Ends 18th June

When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner
5 copies, UK only
Ends 29th April

Imperatrix by Russell Whitfield
5 copies, UK only
Ends 22nd May

Biocode: The New Age of Genomics by Dawn Field + Neil Davies
10 copies, UK only
Ends 5th May

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer
30 copies, UK only
Ends 20th May

Single Woman Seeks Revenge by Tracy Bloom
10 copies, UK only
Ends 21st May

The Dressmaker of Dachau by Mary Chamberlain
10 copies, UK + Ireland
Ends 12th May

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


The year is 1785 and young engineer, Jean-Baptiste Baratte has been charged with removing Les Innocents, along with its cemetery, from the heart of Paris. The scent of the graves permeates the lives of those living by, perhaps corrupting the entire area. The job will have its challenges, but Baratte is determined to succeed, and show the King that he has what it takes to be a top engineer, just like those he idolises.

The ambiance of 18th century Paris comes seeping through the pages. One member at book group said she felt a bit nauseous because of the smell, it was that effective at depicting the awful state of the old church at that time. Many of us are familiar with the catacombs of present day Paris, and this is a fictionalised story of how they got there. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t based of real life, historical characters.

Baratte starts off unsure of himself in this changing world. He goes drinking with Armand, someone who lives for The Future, and he gets swept away, partially by drink. This leads him to purchase a pistachio green suit, which becomes a symbol. As he wears the suit he is pretending to be a modern man, desperate to make an impression. It frankly sounds like a ridiculous suit to be attending grave digging sites in. As he becomes more comfortable in his own skin, and starts to see his priorities, he wishes for a plainer suit, but one still an improvement on that his father gave him.

Whilst I found the history interesting, and had a slightly morbid fascination with their task, the overall story was lacking something. There are some excellent pieces of writing, but overall it lacked something for me. It’s a short book, something that seems uncommon for historical fiction, and each element didn’t get as much exploration as I would have liked. It’s very much from Baratte’s point of view, and it skims over things that affect the other characters.

The cover blurb mentions rape, but this doesn’t happen until near the very end. Which does mean you are waiting for it all the way through. It is also brushed over very quickly and whilst handled by the characters probably as best as it could considering the period, the attitude is irritating. Also, I don’t believe it was relevant to the story, unless we are to believe the Les Innocents was corrupting people. But this was all very wishy-washy, and not concrete enough to justify the inclusion of the rape in my opinion.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Also reviewed @ Literary Relish

Book Source: Purchased

Monday, 20 April 2015

Day Shift

Day Shift is the second book in the Midnight, Texas series and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

The residents of Midnight, Texas are not happy about the renovation of the old, abandoned hotel. It will bring strangers to the town, where everyone has something to hide. Manfred’s on a business trip when one of his clients drops down dead in the middle of a reading. Her unhinged son points the finger at the psychic and accuses him of killing his mother to steal her jewels. Not wanting to draw attention to the town, Manfred’s neighbour Olivia steps in to lend her own special brand of help.

If you were thinking Midnight Crossroad was missing some characters from the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, well never fear, Day Shift has a couple of cameo appearances from Bon Temps. I’m not going to spoil it and say who, because half the fun is them turning up randomly. Day Shift is also a lot more fantasy than its predecessor, with a lot of the inhabitants revealing what they are.

An old hoodlum just popped in to promise us he’d keep silent in return for scones. Mr Snuggly has uncovered bad doings at the hotel. And I still need to clear my name of these bogus theft charges, which draw attention to Midnight, and therefore all this other shit that should remain secret.

Manfred is dealing with false accusations that come along with the attitude that all psychics are con-artists, and the resulting publicity. In steps Olivia and much skulking about ensues, plus some entertaining old folks from the new hotel, which doesn’t seem entirely above board either. It turns out Olivia’s hidden life is a lot less supernatural than the others but still out of the ordinary.

Closer to home, the Reverend has a guest, a boy who appears to be growing at supernatural speed. There are things in Midnight that not even these residents are prepared for.

“I was going to say ‘How is that possible?’” Manfred shrugged. “I should have known better.”

These books are all quite sweet and stamped with Charlene’s voice, but they may be disappointing for those who like more meat to their fantasy or mystery. They feel indulgent, harmless fun. I liked this one more than Midnight Crossroad, it was pacier and had more characters I knew already. The town really pulls together, this time without suspicion turning in on itself.

Day Shift is published by Gollancz and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 7th May 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Humans have gotten glimpses of things over time. Just enough to make the rest up. It's all a quilt of fairy tales with a patch here and there of truth.

Karou lives two lives. In one she is just a blue-haired art student in the city of Prague. But when she walks through the doors to Brimstone’s shop, she enters a world of monsters, where she runs errands for the only family she has ever known. She doesn’t know what the teeth she collects from around the world are for, but she wouldn’t refuse her family.

I finally got round to starting this trilogy which has seemed to get universal praise from amongst blogging friends. Beautiful angels are good and monstrous beasts are evil, right? I enjoyed the play on the traditional assumptions on good versus evil and the exploration of the pointlessness of endless war. Is the similarity of the words of Chimaera to Crimea on purpose? When I saw their war referenced as the Chimaeran War, I misread it as Crimean.

This first instalment is very much about the back story, or at least the discovery of it, which reveals itself in snippets until it all comes tumbling out. I enjoyed Madrigal’s story, which explored more of the other world, its customs and struggles. Learning about the chimaera and the relevance of the teeth was riveting, and it all ties back to little hints during the book. The ending broke my heart…

Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters? I've seen things, angel. There are guerilla armies that make little boys kill their own families. Such acts rip out the soul and make space for beasts to grow inside.

Before Karou gets all mushy, I liked her attitude and her best friend Zuzana. Their conversations were authentic and they were blasé about boys, even if Karou is annoyed about Kaz. She treats him in a way one would expect, well if we could wish itches on our exes. The story sets out with Karou as leading a very nearly normal life, and establishes her love of art and her limited social life in the streets of Prague.

I’d forgotten how rampant instalove used to be in young adult books. I understand there’s some sort of justification for it here, but there must be a better a way to write a bond between too people who barely know each other. It’s very intense and I know it’s arguable that’s because teenagers feel everything intensely, but then what’s Akiva’s excuse? I dunno, I just felt the romance was the weakest part of an otherwise amazing book.

Fantastic world-building and touching, non-romantic relationships mean I will definitely be reading the rest of this trilogy.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Also reviewed @ Winged Reviews | prettybooks | Once Upon a Time | Booking in Heels

Book Source: Purchased

Thursday, 16 April 2015

UK Goodreads Giveaways

I used to maintain a list of UK Goodreads giveaways over at Win All the Books but it kind of dwindled away along with my spare time. So, I thought every now and again I'd draw your attention to some giveaways on Goodreads offered in the UK. Often these have very good odds of winning, with multiple copies and not huge numbers of entrants. This won't be a definitive list but hopefully will draw your attention to some potential reads...

Crashing Heaven by Al Robertson
20 copies, UK only
Ends 1st May

Skin by Ilka Tampke
20 copies, UK only
Ends 1st May

Barricade by Jon Wallace
10 copies, UK only
Ends 30th May

Man on Fire by Stephen Kelman
5 copies, UK only
Ends 27th April

Mrs. Engels by Gavin McCrea
30 copies, UK only
Ends 20th April

You, Me and Other People by Fionnuala Kearney
10 copies, UK + Ireland
Ends 29th April

Boo by Neil Smith
5 copies, UK only
Ends 30th April

Liberty's Fire by Lydia Syson
5 copies, UK only
Ends 6th May