Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #170

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


Gifted
by Donald Hounam

Synopsis:
The Bishop of Oxford is very, very dead. At least the police think it’s the Bishop – it’s impossible to be sure, since someone has made off with his head.

Fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson is the forensic sorcerer on the case. But he is easily distracted. By Kazia, the supposed victim’s beautiful, and possibly dangerous, niece. By Marvo, his police colleague, who seems dead set on making his life difficult. By the terror that he's losing his Gift – the ability to work magic. And by all those stupid rules which get in the way of proving that everybody is wrong about the case . . . except Frank.

Donald Hounam has wrought a sharp, exciting, original new voice in teen fiction.
I spotted this one at Waterstones Birmingham High Street when I was there at the weekend for the first UKYAExtravaganza (which was beyond fantastic, by the way), and I was instantly intrigued, not just by that fantastic cover, but also by the fact that it's apparently so dark, it's fantasy and it's set in Oxford (one of my favourite places to go). If this is done well, I think it has the potential to be a really unique fantasty. I'm planning on getting this one very soon, so fingers crossed it's a good one!

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #169

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


Seed
by Lisa Heathfield

Synopsis:
Seed loves you. Seed will never let you go.

Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it's too late.
I stumbled on this last week when I was browsing through my Goodreads feed. Someone had added it to their wishlist, and after reading the synopsis, I had to follow suit!
I have recently gone off dystopian fiction a little ... mostly because if it's not actually post-apocalyptic, it feels like it's almost there, and I've been wanting to read something a little more cheerful of late. However, I did read and love the entire Giver Quartet at the end of last year, and that had a very nice feeling to it – this reminds me of it, in the way that I imagine it might feel.
Fingers crossed it's as good as I think it's going to be. It's released in April by Electric Monkey in the UK, so I will definitely be looking out for it then!

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








Sunday, 15 February 2015

[UKYAExtravaganza Blog Tour] Robin Stevens: Writing and Baking


I was lucky enough, after the announcement of the mega-epic UKYAExtravaganza event taking place at Waterstones Birmingham High Street on the 28th February, to be asked by participating author and event co-organiser, Kerry Drewery, to take part in the official event blog tour. Of course, this was an opportunity not to be missed, and so I readily accepted Kerry's invitation. As a Birmingham-based blogger, I am always ready to promote author events in the city, especially when it's a YA event. This particular event is going to be epic – with 35 UKYA authors attending, it'll be one of the British literary events of the year!

Each blogger on the blog tour has been partnered up with one of the event authors, and I was super-lucky to be partnered with the fabulous Robin Stevens, author of Murder Most Unladylike, and the latest instalment, Arsenic For Tea, which is now available in stores! 
If you've never heard of Robin or the Wells & Wong series, these books have been received incredibly well since Murder Most Unladylike was released last year by Corgi Children's, and this has now been shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize. Waterstones has also chosen Arsenic For Tea as their children's book of the month for February! Both of these are great achievements and speak volumes for the books and their talented author.

So without any more from me, I'd like to introduce you to the talented Robin Stevens, who has been kind enough to write a piece especially for us on the joys of her two great passions – writing and baking!


Two of my favourite things in life are writing and baking. This becomes pretty obvious as soon as you read my books, Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic for Tea – my detective heroines, Hazel and Daisy, are as fond of eating bunbreak as they are hunting down criminals, and last week I launched my second book, Arsenic for Tea, by holding a real afternoon tea. Writing is a comfort for me, and so is baking – I love that there are safe rules to follow, but once you’ve followed them there’s still scope for putting your own stamp on the recipe.


Actually, I think that I could say the same thing about the mysteries I write: I create them by following a basic murder mystery recipe and then tweaking it exactly how I want. Just like the flour, butter, sugar and eggs that I have to add when I bake, there are certain ingredients that I have to add to make my books work as mysteries. So, how do they compare? And what is my perfect murder mystery recipe?

  • Prepare the area. Before you bake, you need to choose a recipe, set out your pans and bowls, find a surface to work on . . . and the same is true for mystery writing. For me, setting comes first, and I always need to know everything about it before I start typing – I draw maps, I do my historical research and I make an enormous spreadsheet of exactly how my murder will take place, plotted down to five minute intervals.
  • Assemble your ingredients. You can’t start cooking until you have everything you need laid out in front of you, and you can’t start writing your story until you know the people you’re writing about. I note down a lot of information about each of my characters – their name, age, appearance, backstory and possible motive for the murder. Then I send the list my editor (making sure that I don’t let her know which one of them is the killer – she likes to be surprised when she reads the first draft) and make sure she thinks I’ve created a balanced group of people.
  • Mix well. Every recipe involves beating your ingredients together – and you wouldn’t have much of a mystery if you didn’t let your suspects stir each other up. I start writing my first draft, and I finally let the people I’ve made up interact in my setting until they’re whipped into a delicious, scandalous mix of emotions.
  • Season and add spice. Your cake will be dull if you don’t season it – and no murder mystery would be worth its salt without a good spicy murder added in Chapter 3.
  • Add special ingredients like fruit, nuts and chocolate. Extra ingredients make the texture of your cake more interesting, and its flavour far more exciting – and all of the best mysteries need the flourishes of clues and red herrings to interest the reader. I love weaving them in as I write, hiding clues in plain sight and dazzling readers with misdirections to try to trick them into guessing the wrong murderer.
  • Pour into moulds and bake. Cake batter is delicious, but cakes do need structure, and every cake needs to be baked. Once I’ve written my first draft, my publishers and I work together to shape the story, with several rounds of structural edits, then copyedits and the final proofread. What I’ve learned is that the first version of a story can always be improved on!
  • Decorate and arrange on your tea table. Cakes need to be dressed up to entice people to eat them – and in exactly the same way, a book needs a great cover and good marketing and PR to help it sell. I’ve discovered that there’s a lot more to being an author than writing a book. I write blogs, I give interviews and I hold signings, school visits and author events like the UKYA Extravaganza. I’ve discovered that I absolutely love doing them – they really are the icing on the cake, especially when I get to bake . . .

Find out more about Robin's books:

Murder Most Unladylike
Series: Wells & Wong #1
Pages: 324
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books
Release date: 5th June 2014

Add to Goodreads
Arsenic For Tea

Goodreads synopsis:
Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident - but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there's more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #168

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


Soul Crossed
by Lisa Gail Green

Synopsis:
"A wickedly romantic story that will have you cheering for Lisa Gail Green’s addictive storytelling. SOUL CROSSED is devilishly delicious!" — Martina Boone, author of COMPULSION and the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy

"Soul Crossed blurs the lines between good and evil with addictive characters and plot that will have you eagerly turning the pages." ~Kelly Hashway, author of the Touch of Death series.

One Demon.

One Angel.

One Soul.

Josh lived a reckless, selfish life, so upon his death, escaping the eternal torments of Hell by assuming the role of a powerful, soul-corrupting demon is an easy choice. His first soul assignment doesn’t seem too hard: the mortal Camden is already obsessed with weapons, pain, and torture. If only Josh wasn’t distracted by Cam's beautiful friend, Grace.

Grace never expected to die violently at age sixteen, but now she’s an Angel, responsible for saving a soul. She can already see past Camden’s earthly flaws, so the job should be be easy. If only that handsome, playboy Josh would stop getting in the way.

It’s forbidden for an Angel to be with a Demon, so if Josh and Grace stop resisting each other, the results would be disastrous.

And only one can claim Cam’s soul.
This one popped up on my Goodreads feed last week and I think it looks pretty cool. I haven't actually read that many angel/demon stories, surprisingly, but those that I have read, I've really enjoyed, and I especially like the angel/demon forbidden romance (yes, I know it's quite cliche, but it's still fun). I think the story sounds like it could be quite fun, and if it's not too cliche, I reckon I'll really enjoy it – especially if the consequences for their romance are big enough!
I'm looking forward to getting this on my shelves and seeing what it's all about!

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #167

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


The Night We Said Yes
by Lauren Gibaldi

Synopsis:
A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.
This one popped up on my Goodreads feed at the end of last week and although I was initially unsure about it, reading some of the reviews has swayed me, and it ended up on my Wishlist. Even though it's not even out yet, there are some really good reviews flying around and that makes me think that it may actually be worth reading. I'm hoping that it lives up to these reviews for me as well – it has the potential to be a really thrilling read, but it could also be cliched and boring.
I guess the only way to find out is to read it!

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #166

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


The Girl at Midnight
by Melissa Grey

Synopsis:
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
I heard about this book at the beginning of the week and it looks seriously awesome. I'm all for unique fantasy worlds, and that's exactly what this sounds like. And I already love the sound of the main character, Echo ... and that's without having met her!
Plus, who can resist that cover?

This looks like a seriously good book, and it's the beginning of a series, so there will be even more awesome to follow.
This is released in the UK in April by ATOM, so I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for it on the release date!

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








 
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