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Blog Tour: G.X. Todd, Defender

January 18, 2017 in Blog Tours, Bookish Posts, Guest Posts

If you follow me on Twitter, it will come as no surprise to you to hear that I’m VERY EXCITED about today’s post! Back in November, I posted my thoughts on Defender by G.X. Todd and I am not exaggerating when I say that I am still thinking about this book! I can’t wait for the second book in the series.

Blog Tour Poster - D v2

So, I am hugely excited to welcome G.X. Todd to the blog today, on the final day of her Defender Blog Tour. Make sure to check out all of her other guest posts this week!

Over to Gemma! 😀

G X Todd Blog Tour

Ten books I read as a kid that turned me into a book devouring monster

I want to do something slightly different here and not just list a bunch of books. With that in mind, I’m going to hunt out some old copies I read as a kid and discuss why Young Me might have picked them. You’ll see I had quite a diverse taste in reading material for a 12-year-old girl…

 

The Hobbit

 

 

Look at the state of this! I’ve given it a right battering. I was very lucky in Junior school in that my English teacher at the time read The Hobbit to my class. We were all around eight or nine. I think being exposed to Tolkien’s imagination set me up for life (I primarily read Fantasy and Sci-fi for most of my teenage years). I really like Smaug on this cover, too. Look how majestic he is!

 

 

 

 

Space Trap

What a beaut Space Trap is. I had a massive author crush on Monica Hughes. I read everything the library had to offer but this is where it all started. Even the title is bold and exciting. And it looks like that robot is kidnapping those kids! Space shenanigans!

 

“There was blackness with no space and time, no breath and no heartbeat…her throat had shrunk into a hard knot the way it does during a nightmare.”

 

This woman knew how to write, and she certainly knew which artist to pick to do her cover art.

 

FutureTrack 5

 

 

Come on, that helmet is a blatant Storm Trooper rip-off. Young Me must have lapped it up. It has motorbikes, too. I bet I snatched it off the shelf and ran all the way home with it. Didn’t hear a peep out of me until tea-time.

It’s actually a fantastic book, one I’ve read a bunch of times. Westall’s Urn Burial is also ace. It has a space cat in it, and that’s all I’m saying.

 

 

Lotus Caves

 

“Beneath the arid crust of the moon there grew an alien being – one both beautiful and terrifying!” reads the back cover. And take note of that exclamation mark. They’re not messing around. Spaceman Benny looks happy with my choice, too. Probably because there’s a spaceship involved.

 

I remember this being much darker than I was expecting. I think it played on my mind for quite a while, but that’s good for a kid. It makes us realise not everything in this world is rosy.

 

 

Mountain Survival

 

 

Talking about children’s books that weren’t afraid to go to those dark places, do you remember these? I was given my first Choose Your Own Adventure at Asda in Wolverhampton. We must have bought something to make us qualify for a freebie, but I have no idea what. A grizzly bear alarm? Climbing apparatus? I mean, there’s a dead person on the front cover, for goodness sake. Still, I loved it. I read an awful lot of books that were derivatives of this, including Steve Jackson’s Fighting Fantasy series.

 

 

For an idea of just how harsh some of the endings you could choose in these stories, have a read of this:

Ending

 

George's MM

Matilda

 

A Roald Dahl double-whammy. These covers bring back so many fond memories, and the illustrations haven’t dated at all. Testament to the talent of Mr Blake. My copies aren’t too shabby, either. This must have been during my “can’t crack the spine” phase, which lasted about ten years. Pocket money was so precious that when I spent it on books, I wanted to keep my purchases immaculate.

 

 

 

 

face

 

 

Look at this craggy-faced geezer! Why did I pick this up? He’s old and has unfashionably long hair for a guy (even for back when I was thirteen). Do you have any idea who he is or what book he’s from? Nope?

 

Earthsea

 

 

I read the whole Earthsea Trilogy (including Tehanu) and remember being completely enthralled by Sparrowhawk’s adventures (if not by his long flowing locks). I’ve not re-read the stories since and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the fear of ruining my childhood memories of it, the same way I refuse to re-watch episodes of Marshall BraveStarr. This period really was a golden age of reading for me. I was transported to magical, faraway worlds every time I cracked open a book. And it only cost me 10p.

 

 

 

The last two books I’m sharing are purely because they have awesome covers (I found them on my bookshelves while searching for this blog post).

Exhiles

 

I loved all the Douglas Hill books I read (most especially The Huntsman and Warriors of the Wasteland, which reminds me now of a kid’s version of the Aiel desert people from the Wheel of Time series). And all Hill’s books had these full wrap-around artwork on them. They’re like classic B-movie films. Hammy but great.

 

 

Roadkill

 

Anthony Masters’ Roadkill books are like a glimpse into the future of 2017.

 

“Massively powerful multinationals pacify and control the pampered few with brain implants and touch-screen instant-gratification television. The rest – mutants, renegades and worse – prowl the sickly polluted streets.”

 

From the front cover, I like to think I was exhibiting an early love for films like The Terminator and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. They were so hardcore and anarchic. My parents were lucky I never asked to have my hair cut into a Mohawk.

 

Argh, thank you so much, Gemma, for this incredible blog post! I love the format you chose and yes, yes, I remember those Fighting Fantasy books. I have plans to raid the bookshelves at my parents’ house to find my old copies!

Defender, the debut novel by G.X. Todd is out now. You can actually still get your hands on a limited edition signed copy from Goldsboro Books (it’s a beauty). Also be sure to follow Gemma on Twitter (@GemTodd).

All photos in this post were taken by G.X. Todd who gave me permission to post them here.

Illumicrate #5: Unboxing

January 17, 2017 in Bookish Posts, Illumicrate, Unboxings

So I found this post lurking in my drafts folder! It’s rather late, but I thought you might like to see what came in the November Illumicrate! Over to past Rhoda…

I do love receiving my quarterly Illumicrate box, it’s always so well put together. The November box might actually be my favourite box they’ve ever done! Want to see what was inside? Keep reading!

illumicrate

 

Oh and before I dive it,  you can find all of my previous unboxings here if you are interested.

View Spoiler »

I’m honestly not sure how the Illumicrate team are going to top this box. Mind you, I’ve said that before and Daphne’s achieved it time and again! I can’t wait to see what treats she has in store for us in February.

Blog Tour & Review: The Dry

January 13, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour & Review: The DryThe Dry by Jane Harper
Published by Little Brown UK on 12th January 2017
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

I am very excited to be one of the stops on The Dry blog tour today!

friday

In rural Australia, the town of Kiewarra is in drought – it hasn’t rained for two years. The farming community, and subsequently the entire town are struggling. So when three members of the Hadler family are found dead, with Luke, the father, having seemingly taken his own life, the community are appalled but not entirely surprised – perhaps he was seeking a way out of the struggles for his family.

Aaron Falk, Luke’s childhood best friend, returns to the town he left twenty years ago for his friend’s funeral. Being back is hard. He can’t wait to return to his job as a Federal Agent in Melbourne and leave the memories behind. However, there’s a twenty-year secret that Luke and Aaron shared and it’s possible Luke’s death will bring the secret to light. This, coupled with Luke’s parents’ request that Aaron helps them investigate their son’s death, leads Falk to spend a lot more time in his hometown than he’d planned.

This book grabbed my attention from the first page and I honestly couldn’t put it down. This is Jane Harper’s debut novel and what a debut it is! Her scene-setting, the description of a rural Australian town desperate for rainfall is fantastic. I could almost feel the heat (impressive in a Scottish winter), taste the dust and crave the water myself.

The story itself flits between the real time post-Hadler murders and Aaron & Luke’s teenage years. This allows us to feel as though we know the dead man and, of course, helps us to understand Aaron himself more.

The mystery aspect of this book had me guessing throughout, with Harper’s writing and storytelling keeping me glued until the final word.

Yes, I know who really killed the Hadler family – and I highly recommend you find out for yourself!

four-stars

A Quiet Kind of Thunder Challenge

January 12, 2017 in Book Reviews, Bookish Posts, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder ChallengeA Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on 12th January 2017
Genres: YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

Steffi doesn’t talk and her anxiety can make life extremely difficult for her. Until now she’s had her best friend Tem at school to help her, but Tem has left school for college and Steffi is alone. That is, until she is introduced to Rhys who is deaf and the two of them can communicate through sign language.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s not your typical teenage story – it’s thought-provoking and illuminating as well as being well-written.

a-quiet-kind-of-thunder

I was challenged by Macmillan Children’s Books to spend a day imagining what it might be like not to be able to use the power of words. Not like a sponsored silence, but how life must be like for folk like Steffi with ‘selective mutism’.

Generally, I spend most of my days alone at home, so I used a day over the festive period to take the challenge. Family, noise, questions, requests, games, meals – how would I cope if I couldn’t speak?

I thought it’d be hard but I was actually really shocked by how hard it was. From simple things like saying “yes” to a morning coffee, to handling the inevitable questions as you catch up with the family. Then, in my case, telling everyone I need to go and lie down, or asking for a hand to get up, for someone to go get my meds, or even just asking for a glass of water! I realised how much I communicate and how much, by necessity, I ask for the help of those around me.

How on earth do you handle Christmas dinner? When all eyes fall on you to read out your cheesey cracker joke. Or asking for someone to pass the gravy!

We had a family game of Trivial Pursuits – that just couldn’t happen. How frustrating would it be to know the answers but not be able to say them?

The thing is, this was just one day, in the comfort of the family home where you’d assume everyone would understand. But how would you deal with the outside world?

This challenge really made me think. It made me realise how hard even a day with family must be, let alone actually leaving the house, getting on a bus, life at school or uni or work! And what about in an emergency? I think this book, the challenge and the issues addressed will stay with me for a long time.

four-stars

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

January 11, 2017 in Book Reviews, YA

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The One Memory of Flora BanksThe One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Published by Penguin on 12th January 2017
Genres: YA
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Flora Banks is 17, but in her head she thinks she’s 10. That’s because she has no short term memory. She had a tumour removed from her brain when she was 11 and it took her ability to form new memories with it.

Flora lives by the notes she has written on her arms, post-its and notebooks. They are her lifelines, as are her parents and her long-term best friend Paige.

But when Flora kisses Drake one night on the beach, she finds that she actually remembers! It’s her one new memory and she believes that Drake may actually be able to help her recover. The thing is, he has moved to Norway. After exchanging emails, Flora decides to take the trip to Svalbard alone to surprise Drake. Armed with just her notes to keep her on track, she sets off to find Drake, and perhaps create some new memories.

This was really quite an interesting book. I’ve read novels centered around memory loss in older people, but never teenagers.

On the whole, I enjoyed it and was really rooting for Flora and her Arctic expedition. The storytelling style worked well, in that we were uncovering the details of Flora’s life along with her. Obviously, there were times when everything was a bit repetitive, as Flora had to keep reminding herself who she was. Yes, it could be a little dull, but there’s a strong message there. This repetition made me think of those who surround those with memory loss. How many times a day must they answer the same questions? They must have so much patience! I think, in some small way, this repetitive aspect allows us to thinks about the support network around sufferers, their families and friends and I liked that.

I also really liked Flora herself. Her bravery and determination in the face of constant uncertainty made me, once again, consider the real-life implications for sufferers. They must spend so much time being scared, and yet this story doesn’t dwell on that. It shows what can be achieved regardless of memory status. It show us how some people face adversity straight on, they keep on fighting to live their lives – even if those around them would prefer to wrap them in cotton wool!

All in all, I enjoyed this book and the messages within. I also now totally want to visit Svalbard!

three-half-stars