Friday, 28 April 2017

Skin Deep: An Update

Chicken pox and the Easter holidays have delayed my Skin Deep posting somewhat, but chapter five was posted on Wattpad today! This is how it opens:


The voice behind him grated like nails on a chalkboard. Beau steeled himself before turning to face it; the beast. He had expected a monster of towering height, with horns, fur and blood-drenched fangs. 

What he hadn’t expected was a woman. 

She was draped in an etherial black veil that Beau at once recognised as a funeral shroud. The eyes that gazed out from beneath it looked dead and empty; her skin was skeletal in its paleness. She was a corpse incarnate; a spectre risen from a funeral parlour to freeze the blood running through his veins. Death and darkness and despair.


“Don’t tell me what you see,” she said, almost softly. “I learnt long ago not to ask such questions.”


You can check out the full story so far, here:

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Why We Love: Don't Wake the Bear, Hare!


The woodland animals' preparations for their spring party are curtailed by a sleeping bear. They need to be really quiet if they're going to avoid waking him up. Because bears are hairy and scary, right?

A good picture book should be fun to read aloud and Don't Wake the Bear, Hare! definitely ticks this box! The text scans really well and also encourages you to whisper and be really loud. It's really enjoyable to read.


The artwork is lovely too and there's lots to look at on each page - from towering stacks of cups to the tiniest of ants.


We've read Don't Wake the Bear, Hare! at least once a day since we got it and it's still just as enjoyable as the first time. Seriously though, if anyone knows of a job where so can be paid just for reading picture books all day let me know!



Saturday, 15 April 2017

A Gathering of Shadows

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab


It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games--an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries--a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port. {Goodreads Summary}

I have a habit at the moment of reading the second novel in a trilogy at the same time everyone else is devouring book three. My ability to keep on top of trilogies is really lacking and definitely something I need to work on.  


“I am Delilah Bard, she thought, as the ropes cut into her skin. I am a thief and a pirate and a traveler. I have set foot in three different worlds, and lived. I have shed the blood of royals and held magic in my hands.”

In A Gathering of Shadows, Lila is back, causing as much trouble as ever and keeping an increasingly conflicted Kell on his toes. The Element Games allows for a brilliant insight into the world these books are set in and the plot kept me guessing throughout as it never quite went where I expected it to. 


"Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high."

I loved the new characters - especially Emery. He reminded me a bit of Nikolai in the Grisha Trilogy, because of his ability to fit in everywhere.  


“Dozens of ships, Lila! And you had to climb aboard his.”
“I’m sorry,” she shot back, bristling, “I was under the impression that I was free to do as I pleased.”
“To be fair,” added Alucard, “I think she was planning to steal it and slit my throat.”
“Then why didn’t you?” snarled Kell, spinning on her. “You’re always so eager to slash and stab, why couldn’t you have stabbed him?” 

Kell and Rhy's relationship is a strong as ever and really is one of the best things about this series. I love they way they interact with each other, and the events from the ending of the first book brings an interesting new dynamic to this. 


“Look, everyone talks about the unknown like it's some big scary thing, but it's the familiar that's always bothered me. It's heavy, builds up around you like rocks, until it's walls and a ceiling and a cell.”

The cliff hanger ending was horrible, but the only benefit to being so behind with this series is that I don't have to wait long to discover what happens next. 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

This Raging Light

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure


Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. {goodreads summary}

I've wanted to read this since I first read the synopsis before it was released, so I was really excited to snap it up on a Kindle sale last week.

"Explain to me what the point of living is if you aren't willing to fight for the truths in your heart, to risk getting hurt. You have to rage."

Lucille's mum tells her she'll be back in a week, but when school starts and she still hasn't returned, Lucille starts to suspect she might never be coming back at all, leaving Lucille in charge of her nine year old sister Wren. This Raging Light follows Lucille's attempt to keep her and her sister fed, alive and safe. It's about keeping secrets, refusing to give up and knowing when to ask for help, as well as friendship, love and family. 

“All feeling has an equivalent in action or is useless"

"Did you say that?" 

Of course not," she says. "Virginia Woolf”

I do wish I hadn't ended up reading two books where the protagonist was in love with someone else's boyfriend back to back. I'd have probably enjoyed TRL more if I hadn't just read Anna and the French Kiss. There was still a lot to love in this book though. Lu is a really strong protagonist. I love how pragmatic she was - she never crumpled to the floor and gave up; she kept going no matter what was thrown at her. 


"Denial is for losers. Face your crap and move on. Otherwise you’ll get old and depressed and turn into a scary pod person whose most pressing issue in life is when they get to trade in the can of Dr Pepper for the can of Bud.” 

I also liked how open ended the final chapter was. There are loads of unanswered questions, leaving it to the reader to decide what happened to Lu and Wren next. Although, while writing this, I've just discovered that there's actually a spin off/sequel about Eden which comes out in April: But Then I Came Back. I guess the ending isn't going to remain so open after all...

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Why We Love: The Darkest Dark

It's been ages since I posted a picture book review and I'm really keen to do them more regularly since I spend most of my day reading them at the moment. Recently, my daughter and I have been enjoying The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield.


Before I went on maternity leave, I worked in a space-themed secondary school (yes, that is a thing. There's actually two of them in the UK!). Space (and physics in general) is a pretty big deal in our house and my daughter has been sung the astronomically correct version of Twinkle Twinkle since she was a few weeks old.


The Darkest Dark has been a great addition to our growing collection of space-themed picture books. The story is sweet, and incredibly appropriate at a time when we're struggling to get our daughter to sleep in her own bed. The illustrations are beautiful and it's been a great way for us to talk about space travel and the moon landing. We had great fun walking around the kitchen like astronauts after reading TDD this morning, although there were a few appearances from Zoe and Beans' moony moles, so there wasn't a lot of scientific accuracy!


We would definitely recommend TDD to all budding astronauts, or toddlers who are afraid of the dark. Are there any space-themed picture books you've enjoyed and would recommend? Please leave me a comment if you have any suggestions; I'm always on the look out for more.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? {goodreads summary}


Anna and the French Kiss is a fun, fast read that will have you researching French hotels and Eurostar prices as soon as you reach the last page.

“French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.”

The last thing Anna wants is to be sent half way around the world to complete her senior year, in a school where everyone has already known each other for three years and a country where she doesn't speak the language. But 

“I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I'm not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it.”

This novel is really cute. It reminded me a bit of Dairy of a Crush in terms of how I felt about the characters and the ups and downs of the romantic plot line. 

“I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It's so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn't have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.”

My favourite thing about this novel was definitely the setting: Perkins brings Paris to life through her narrative and the setting is fundamental to the plot throughout. 

“How many times can our emotions be tied to someone else's - be pulled and stretched and twisted - before they snap? Before they can never be mended again?” 


Anna is the first book in a trilogy and I'm really keen to read the rest when I get a chance. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Mother's Day Reading


This Mother's day I was "lucky" enough to get some lovely gifts. I've put the lucky in inverted commas because my kids are 2 and a half, and 9 weeks old, so I knew exactly what I was getting as I'd picked them myself and sent my husband the links!

Mary Berry Everyday is my second Berry cookbook and now proudly sits alongside my much loved and often used Mary Berry's Baking Bible, which is easily the best recipe book I own. I love cooking and baking, so I've acquired quite a large collection of recipe books now. Some seem to end up just being for show (Crumb and The Weekend Baker have only been used once each so far) but I've already picked out three recipes from this one to try next week, so I think it's going to be a great addition. 

I'm halfway through the Unmumsy Mum Diary at the moment and have laughed out loud more times than I can keep track of. Turner is a brilliant writer and is superb at telling stories in hilarious ways. I'm only concerned that I'm looking slightly into the future, to when my two start interacting - and therefore bickering and fighting - with each other. 

I also received the blu-ray of Fantastic Beasts, which isn't in the picture as it was released the day after Mother's day). I didn't manage to see Fantastic Beasts in the cinema as I was seven months pregnant when it came out and didn't fancy being sat down for that long without a toilet break, so Monday was my first time getting to watch it. Although, I did know the plot as I picked up a copy of the screenplay in Minalima when I went to see the Cursed Child (which I saw in November, despite being seven months pregnant and having to walk up a lot of stairs!) I read a lot of plays, but FB was the first film script I'd ever read and I kept expecting the film itself to deviate from it in some way then had to remind myself that they wouldn't be any different (baby brain!). The special effects were superb and I'm already looking forward to watching it again.

I think I organised quite a successful, bookish Mother's Day for myself; however, I'm looking forward to the first year when I don't have to pick my own gifts even more!