Tuesday, 28 March 2017

10 Reasons to Read Lois Lane

In anticipation of the release of Lois Lane: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond, published by Curious Fox Books and Switch Press, I thought I'd highlight my Top Ten Reasons for reading the first two books; Fallout and Double Down. I hope you enjoy. My thanks to Curious Fox for Double Down and I cannot wait for Triple Threat.

1) Lois Lane - Such an iconic, powerful female character. Need I say more?

2) Lois in high school - What's the worst that could happen?

3) General Lane - Cracking down on Lois' 'trouble making' habits, even her father is a formidable foe.

4) Clark on IM - What could be cuter? Especially with pictures of baby calf Nelly Bly.

5) Secret (Or not so) Identities - SmallvilleGuy and SkepticGirl1. Truth's going to win out, right?

6) Creepy Capers - Mind controlling games, clones, and UFO sightings. Lois and co have their work cut out.

7) Teen Reporting - What's better than teen reporting in the basement of the planet? Especially if Lois cracks her front page story.

8) Perry - And who could be a better boss for the future reporters in training?

9) Lois is bad-ass - We all know this, but it's definitely worth mentioning.

10) Gwenda Bond - A talented author who takes Lois to a whole new level. What could be better?

Have you read Fallout and Double Down? As always, do feel free to leave me a comment below, or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 27 March 2017

Review: How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

Okay so this is actually a review book from Christmas 2015 and I totally apologise to both publisher and author for my extreme lateness. I wasn't feeling very Christmassy that season, and 2016 was honestly a bad year for which I'm now just trying to catch up on my reviewing. It may be late but I do hope you enjoy my review of this gorgeous 5 star book.

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone... 
Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen. 
But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?

This book was perfect in so many ways. For one it features a strong female lead who may or may not know what she wants but does know she can get it. Though a part of her does feel anxiety at the prospect of her new single life - and though her temporary move is part of her 'running away' - she nonetheless faces her doubts and carves a new life for herself amongst the lush countryside. Though she may occasionally stumble, she faces many challenges head on and comes out stronger in the end. Eve was a perfect heroine to follow and I loved her journey.

Second, the book had the perfect amount of romance and drama. Neither was too heavy, allowing Eve's character to shine throughout, but the drama worked well in pushing the narrative along, even creating an air of mystery around Greg and around who Eve's ex fiancé cheated on her with. The dual POV's also heightened the drama in an entertaining way, showing the truth to scenes where one character may have 'gotten the wrong end of the stick' so to speak. The romance was swoon-worthy - a true Christmas treat - without overpowering Eve's progress and strength as an independent woman.

The Christmas elements - specifically the setting - were absolutely gorgeous, and my favourite part was the little Christmas market Greg and Eve enjoy, as I honestly love attending myself. Despite not feeling wholly jovial, the book succeeded in bringing out my seasonal joy.

Last but not least, it was funny - almost crazy at times, in a way that makes you laugh out loud. I won't spoil anything, but lets just say I won't ever look at geese in the same way again. Also Marmite, who is probably the best fictional dog you'll ever meet.

How To Stuff Up Christmas was a fabulous seasonal read by an equally fabulous author, and one I do highly recommend. I'll definitely be re-reading next December, for sure.

As always, thanks for reading, and do feel free to leave me a comment below or @ me on Twitter.

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 20 March 2017

Event Recap: What Makes A Girl Strong?

On January 31st I was able to see four amazing authors at the Waterstones in Liverpool 1; Melinda Salisbury, Catherine Doyle, Katherine Webber and Sara Barnard. It was an amazing event and I hope you enjoy my recap of it.

The theme of the evening was 'what makes a gets strong?' and being that these authors have all written amazing books with strong, central female characters, it was obviously going to be an intense evening. With a mostly female audience, these four authors spoke about their writing process, personal quirks and - of course - what typifies great female characters in YA.

One of my favourite questions of the night was how each of the authors got into writing and I personally loved Cat Doyle's response. She told us hat she had always wanted to write but didn't think it was something she could pursue but it was thanks to her mum asking Cat to join her on a writing course, masquerading it as something she wanted to do, that really got her started. I thought it was great partly because it shows to me that being strong isn't always about taking a leap, it's sometimes being strong enough to accept help when and where it's due.

My favourite moment of the night of course belonged to Melinda Salisbury who recalled us with the tale of how The Sin Eater's Daughter came to be, with her singing in the shower and then being horrified of the prospect of being forced to sing day in and day out, as well as her research - slash - fascination of Sin Eating. Thus a star trilogy was born.

I also adored meeting all four during the signing afterwards. Though it was of course my fourth time meeting Mel, it was just a pleasure as always. I had been lucky enough to buy an early copy of The Scarecrow Queen (Review here) that night which she was happy to sign, and I got a hug before I - as always - rambled about how much I love her books.

Meeting Cat Doyle for the first time was a dream. I was heartened that she knew me from Twitter but also that I finally got the chance to tell her in person how much I loved her books and - more importantly - how much I love Gino. She was so lovely, and is a fellow Ravenclaw! You can find my review of her latest book, Mafiosa, here.

I also got to meet Sara Barnard and Katherine Webber for the first time, and they were both so amazing. Sara's A Quiet Kind of Thunder has helped so much with my own anxiety, and I was able to get a trainer-selfie with Katherine which was so neat.

Overall it was a fabulous evening and one I shall not soon forget. Thanks team at Waterstones Liverpool 1 and of course the lovely authors!

Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 19 March 2017

ARC Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I am a huge fan of fairytale retellings and Heartless was no exception. Big thanks to the team at MyKindaBook and MacMillan for the ARC, and I hope you enjoy my review!

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

The story of Heartless follows Cath, daughter of the Marquess of Rock Turtle Cove, who is to marry the King of Hearts. Yet the King is a silly fool in a court that is even worse. Cath has no desire to marry him, and then Jest comes along, and everything changes.

Cath was a fantastic heroine - as Meyer's MC's always have been - but what I loved most was her tenacity and vivaciousness. Her desire to hold on to her dream, despite all the challenges, was a true inspiration anyone could and should learn from. I loved the cheeky and mysterious Jest, whose presence was ever a joy, and whose slow burn romance with Cath was to aspire to. Definitely another addition to the list of book boyfriends.

I especially loved the other characters who populated this world, from Hatter and Haigha to turtle and the lion, who all brought a true life to the world and filled it with so much joy and love. Each one was carefully crafted, that I could see.

I loved the characters that populated this fantastical world, but it was the world itself that consistently held my attention. Elements taken from the original book have been spun and woven into an original masterpiece that harks back to Lewis Carroll's tale but more than holds its own. Mystical, magical, Meyer holds your attention from the very first page and refuses to let go until the last, immersing you in a world you almost feel you belong in, making it all the more difficult to close that back cover. It was truly a joy to experience.

My only very minor disappointment was that I could see the final twist coming, though I'll admit it was still a sort of shock when I finally read it. Overall Heartless was a wonderful, exciting retelling that had me happily turning page after page, laughing and crying with the characters, before finally letting it close with a satisfied sigh. A highly recommended 4* read.

What are your thoughts on Heartless? Is it in your TBR? As always let me know in the comments below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading.

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Interview With The Author: Moondust's Gemma Fowler

Today I have a very special post to share with you all. It's one I'm very excited about and that I absolutely loved arranging, for a book I adored. Today I am thankful to be able to bring you an interview with debut author Gemma Fowler, regarding her first novel, Moondust. I really do hope you enjoy it.

A miracle energy source, Lumite, has been discovered on the moon. The dark days of future Earth - torn apart by war and energy crisis - finally appear to be over. Aggie is the violet-eyed poster girl for the mining company, Lunar Inc, persuaded to campaign for a hopeful new future. But a chance meeting with one of the prisoner-miners, the darkly attractive Danny, changes her mind about everything she knows about her world ...

Gemma Fowler is the author of Moondust, out now, priced £6.99.

Find out more about Moondust here or follow Gemma on Twitter.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. When you're not writing, what books do you like to read? Any favourites? 

When it comes to writing, I’m all about the future and space, but my favourite books to read are always in the fantasy genre. Robin Hobb is my number one, followed very closely by Neil Gaiman (American Gods is my all time favourite book). Their worlds are so rich I never want to leave them. I’ve missed more tube stops because of those two than I can count!

2) When did you know you wanted to be an author?

It was a dream ever since I was at school, but back then the idea of writing something as long as a novel just seemed impossible. I had loads of ideas and I wrote all the time, but I just didn’t have the patience to turn them into proper stories. I also think I hadn’t had the right idea yet, I was desperate to write a fantasy story, but I couldn’t ever think of anything original. 

3) How did the story of Moondust come to be? From where did you draw your inspiration or research?

I had an idea about a world without power, where a tech dependent society had to learn to survive in the darkness. It kind of all spiraled out of control from there!

I have this theory that a good idea never leaves you alone. Moondust was nagging me in the back of my mind for months before I did anything about it. I had a setting, I had an ending, and I had a girl with red hair and violet eyes, the rest came out slowly over about 7 years.

4) I would say that the main message in Moondust is really about the environment; about not taking the earth (or moon) for granted. Would you say that was the main message you wanted to get across to readers? Is it something you're personally passionate about?

I think it’s really good that people are taking that message out of the book.
It’s definitely something I wanted to get readers thinking about. I love exploring the moral challenges the future poses to us all, as individuals and as a planet. Technology is wonderful and exciting and liberating, but we need to be prepared for the effects that it’ll have on us as a society and as a planet.

5) Who is your favorite character? Or, if that's too hard, what was your favorite scene or element to write?

Oh wow, how can you choose between your characters! Obviously Aggie’s my girl, I see the world of the United Earth through her (violet) eyes. Danny is based on every crush and imaginary boyfriend I dreamt up when I was a teenager, and Seb is the guyfriend I wish I’d hung out with. Basically I love them all, though Celeste, the AI, was probably the most interesting character to write.

I love a bit of world building. Before I think of anything else, I think of the way the world feels, to me and to the characters. The United Earth and the Lunar Inc. base always felt bright and colourful, despite being in space. I would always start with that feeling when I was writing a new scene, and it would always lead me to interesting new ideas and places.

6) The book features quite varied 'space-food'. Where did the inspiration for these come from, and what's your favorite flavor of frozen custard?

I’m passionate about snacks. It obviously shows! I think snacks and food in general are a great insight into a society. On the Lunar Inc. base, the food is abundant and varied, but ultimately quite fake and false.

When I was at school (in the olden days before the internet) there was a trend for freeze-dried ‘space food’ that came in silver packets. I think they still sell them in the Science Museum. I always thought the idea of something rehydrating in your mouth was kind of cool!

Frozen custard is a real thing! I tried it when I drove Route 66 with my boyfriend a few years ago and it blew my mind. They served it to us upside down, to prove how thick the mixture was, it felt kind of spacey and strange and I knew I had to get it into the book!

My favourite flavor would be Chocolate Meteor Mudslide (triple choc custard with cookie dough meteor’s mixed in), and maybe a drizzle of salted caramel sauce! Heaven!

7) Describe the book in one word, and yourself in one word.

Colourful and colourful. Ha!

A big thank you goes out to Gemma for answering all of my questions and her fabulous answers. I also want to thank Jasmine Bartlett for allowing me to take part in the promotion for Moondust, for arranging this interview, and also to her and Chicken House Books for the lovely ARC of Moondust; I truly adored it. You can find more about Gemma and Moondust here, or visit the Chicken House Books website here.

Please do feel free to comment below or @ me on Twitter with any comments or thoughts you have about the interview or Moondust, and as always thank you for reading.

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

ARC Review: Waking In Time by Angie Stanton

The problem with time travel stories is that they can have the tendency to become over-complicated, like a mess of tangled string that can't be undone. Waking In Time by Angie Stanton was surprisingly refreshing in that it does not suffer from this affliction. It was, simply, fabulous. Big thanks to Georgia Lawe and Curious Fox Books for the ARC.

Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to “find the baby,” Abbi has just arrived at UW Madison for her freshman year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backward through time. Will is a charming college freshman from 1927 who travels forward through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby, and plead with their champion, a kindly physics professor, to help them find each other again ... even though the professor gets younger each time Abbi meets him.

As said above, Waking In Time does not suffer from a convoluted plot. Despite revolving around time travel, the plot is linear and easy to follow, which makes a lovely change to what I've previously seen. Time travel is a wonderful element in the situations it can produce for characters, but if too complex it can cause headache and boredom for the audience. This happens at no point during Waking In Time. Instead the linear plot is fabulously entertaining. The wonder of how and when Abbi moves through time is intriguing, and is second only to the page turning, jaw dropping tale of why. A captivating tale about family, loss and love that spans almost a century, Waking In Time is a whirlwind that was a joy to read.

Abbi is a fabulous heroine who epitomises strength and resilience, refusing to back down from the challenge presented to her, regardless of its unique nature. Her relationship with Will - scattered through time - typifies the slow burn romance genre, and it was beautiful.

Simply put, Waking In Time is a novel of epic proportions with a swoon worthy romance to boot. The perfect book to curl up with, it receives a well deserved 5* rating and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who is a fan of time travel, romance, mystery, or simply just a great story.

If you have any thoughts about Waking In Time do feel free to comment below or @ me on Twitter, and as always thank you for reading.

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Friday, 3 March 2017

Blog Tour: Waking In Time by Angie Stanton - Guest post from the author

Today I am delighted to bring you a guest post from author Angie Stanton to celebrate the release of her new book, Waking In Time. This is a fantastic time-travelling YA sold as 'Time Travellers Wife for the YA market' and it really lives up to that. My review will be up this weekend, but first I'm delighted to bring you the 'Inside Scoop on Writers'. I really hope you enjoy it. Big thanks from me to Curious Fox Books and specifically Georgia Lawe for sending me an early copy of the book and allowing me to be a part of this amazing blog tour.

Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to "find the baby", Abbi has arrived at uni to start her first year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi's journey backwards through time. Will is a charming student from 1927 who travels forwards through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby and plead with their champion, a kindly physics tutor, to help them find each other again ...even though the tutor gets younger each time Abbi meets him. This page-turning story full of romance, twists and delightful details about uni life then and now will stay with readers long after the book's satisfying end.

·       In the UK by Curious Fox on 9th March 2017, priced £7.99, ISBN: 978-1-78202-593-1
·       In the US by Switch Press on 1st March 2017, priced $17.95, ISBN: 978-1630790707
·       Age: 13+

The inside scoop on the quirks and habits of writers
By Angie Stanton
Author of Waking in Time

Writers are a peculiar bunch. We have quirky habits and odd rituals, and many of the stereotypes about authors are true. For example, it’s common for me to stay in my pajamas all day, and when I get on a writing roll, I’ve been known to cancel all plans so that I can stay home and live in the fictional world of my characters.

Here are some other tidbits.
  • Some writers do their best work in coffee shops, but not me. For one, I don’t drink coffee. And being in a public place while I’m in that intimate space of creativity and dreaming up my own magic world demands privacy. And the ability to throw in a load of laundry once in a while. 

  • I have a daily pattern before I write. First I set up my laptop at the kitchen counter. Forget the beautiful oak desk I have in my office. I cover my chair with a plush Green Bay Packers blanket, put my phone within reach, and grab a cold Diet Coke before I can settle in to work.

  • Ideas can come from the most unexpected places and at random times. Some writers swear their best ideas appear while in the shower. For me it’s while on walks and listening to music, or long car rides. I’ll keep a notebook nearby to scribble thoughts as I drive.

  • Writing about family and friends is so tempting. Their lives are crazy and bizarre and would make great material, but I’m fearful they’d read it and disown me. Truth is usually stranger than fiction.

  • I stink at punctuation. I’m a storyteller, not an English major. Thankfully there are very smart people who love to edit.

  • Titles are one of the hardest things for me to think up. Everything original and catchy has been used. However, I am really proud that I came up with Waking in Time. It describes the book perfectly.

  • When I find a bad review I try not to read it. One negative review can stick with me for days. Ask any writer and most will agree. We put our heart and soul into our work so it always feels personal. But the good reviews--those are golden. 

  • From the time I finished writing Waking in Time, went through the publishing process, and it hit bookstores took two years.

  • I dread book signings. I’m afraid no one will attend, and if it’s only family and friends there, well that feels like they came out of pity. But when actual readers show up, I feel like the luckiest person alive.

  • I secretly visit my books at bookstores. I’m still in awe of the fact that I’ve been published. It never gets old.

Information about the author

    American author Angie Stanton is a life-long daydreamer who grew up with her hands on a book and her head in the clouds. As an adult she's learned to put her talent to good use and writes contemporary fiction about life, love, and the adventures that follow. She is the best selling author of eight novels including Rock and a Hard Place, and Love 'em or Leave 'em. Angie has a Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she sneaks off to New York City to enjoy the best entertainment experience on earth, Broadway. She is currently working on a series of Broadway- themed books, and is also a contributing editor to BroadwayWorld.com.

Social-Media information

Blog tour/book hashtag: #WakingInTime
Author twitter: @angie_stanton
Publisher twitter: @CuriousFoxBooks
Author website: www.angiestanton.com

Check out the rest of the blog tour!