Posted in Blog Tour

Splinter by Joshua Winning Blog Tour – Extract

Dawn eyed the trapdoor nervously but there was no point getting skittish. Nicholas swung his legs through the hole in the floor and began to climb down.

All he could hear was the quickening of his pulse in his temples. Strange smells – wax and old books and wet fur – made his head spin as his feet found the floor. For a moment, he was reminded of the oblituss, the dark tomb beneath the Abbey Gardens, and he had to force himself to let go of the ladder. This wasn’t the oblituss. The faceless man wasn’t going to emerge from the shadows and undo his sanity with a touch. His parents wouldn’t have kept anything dangerous down here, he was sure of it. Then again, he’d never known his parents were Sentinels. How much could he really assume about them?

Nicholas fumbled along the wall. If he could just find a light. He was sure it was a small space from the sound of his breath. Maybe little more than a cubby.

As he stumbled forward, his hands found a cord. A bare bulb clicked above his head, its fuzzy light settling over a bizarre collection of objects. Shelves, crates, broken lamps and intricate brass sculptures of what had to be the Milky Way.

“Heck, took you long enough, kid.”

Nicholas froze. The voice had spoken just over his shoulder. A man’s voice. Brassy and American. He turned around in the space, almost knocking over a stack of yellowed newspapers, but all he saw were shelves and inanimate objects.

“A guy could go nuts down here on his own.”

“Who is that?” Nicholas demanded. The voice was familiar. He had heard it before, but he couldn’t place where.

“Jeeze, don’t lose your head, bub. Down here.”

Nicholas moved towards the voice, spotting an old suitcase that had belonged to his grandfather. Beside it, on a low shelf, an object struck a dancing pose, its white flares, unmistakable quiff and glittery sunglasses moulded from plastic. Crouching, Nicholas crept closer to the figurine.

“Ya got me,” said Elvis.

Nicholas blinked. Of course he knew the voice. He had heard it a hundred times coming out of the radio or on television. It was unmistakable, twanging like guitar strings, and it was coming out of the statue, which remained motionless and appeared just as Nicholas had seen in his visions.

“You’re… you’re not Elvis,” Nicholas uttered.

“Not so bright, huh?” said Elvis. Only his mouth moved. His plastic hips remained motionless mid-thrust. “I get it; you’re starstruck. Not every day you get a private audience with the king of rock ’n’ roll.”

Nicholas almost laughed. “But you’re not the Elvis…”

“Kid, you got eyes?”

“Of course. Alright. So what was your biggest hit?”

“Man, are you writing a book? I can’t remember half those biscuits I baked. Geeze, your folks were never this difficult.”

Nicholas’s smile fell. “You knew my parents… Or, y’know, Anita and Max.”

“Good folk. Shame to see ’em go like that, but now there’s you, bub.”

Nicholas frowned. “What are you? Really?”

“Aside from the obvious? Look, kid, most people don’t ask so many questions when they meet me.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Funny; figured you’d recognise another emissary of the Trinity, being one yourself.”

“How…” Nicholas stopped, suddenly excited, even if a plastic figurine of Elvis was the last thing he’d been expecting. Heck, Isabel had possessed a cat. Why not a talking statue?

Nicholas swallowed, trying to keep his excitement under control. “You’re an emissary… Like a messenger? For the Trinity?”

“Gee, I thought you’d never ask. That’s me, kid. Hey, you notice the world’s going to hell quicker’n a bent-eight?”

“It’s sort of hard not to.”

“The Dark Prophets have that effect. They’re infecting the whole lot. They got this world sicker’n a lizard in a Tequila bottle. You ever tried Tequila?”

Nicholas ignored the question; his entire body had gone rigid. “The Prophets? They’re doing this?”

“Now don’t tell me you didn’t know?” Nicholas wasn’t sure if he had imagined Elvis’ eyebrows momentarily rising above his sunglasses. “They’re back, bubba. Crossed the great divide and we’ve got you to thank for it.”

Nicholas realised he’d clenched his hands into fists. Laurent had tried to raise the Prophets, but Nicholas and his friends had stopped him. True, monstrous things had clawed their way through the gateway before that, but they had closed the portal, prevented Laurent from releasing the Dark Prophets from their hellpit. But this figurine was saying they had failed.

“What did I do?” he demanded.

“Brace yourself, kid, cos this ain’t pretty. The faceless goon, the one who set that town to burning? He was the real conduit, bub. When you and your lady friend performed your mojo – that was impressive, by the by – you sparked the Tortor up good, warmed up the eggs in his undercarriage, got ’em sizzling. He birthed ’em right there in the ruins. The Prophets are back and you don’t wanna be around when they hatch.”

The dreams. The glowing pods. The Tortor’s cremated remains. Nicholas couldn’t believe it. Had everything he’d dreamt been true? The image of Laurent’s throat gushing blood leapt to the front of his mind.

“Laurent… he’s dead,” Nicholas murmured.

“Oh boy, he’s deader’n a doornail. Deader’n JFK and Marilyn combined, may they rest in peace.”

A shiver trickled down Nicholas’s spine. “How?”

“Killed by that flame-haired sister of Satan.”

“Malika.” That didn’t make any sense, either. Malika and Laurent had been working together. They had joined forces in the Abbey Gardens; Nicholas had seen it for himself. Why would she turn on Laurent? Trust probably wasn’t a top priority when you were evil.

“She’s the key to this, bubba. She’s the key to all of it.”

Nicholas scrutinised the statue. “How do you know so much?”

“Oracles sorta know things. It’s our deal.”

“You see things? The future?”

“When the music of the universe sings to ol’ Elvis. Seen plenty of weird shit over the years, but nothing weirder’n the shit you’re carrying around in that karmic suitcase of yours, kid.”

Nicholas didn’t know what to say. He glanced around the cubby hole and leaned in closer. “Did you talk to Anita and Max?”

“Sure, gave ’em my breakfast order every morning. Cuppa joe and a doughnut. Sorry, kid, bad joke. The sad truth is they couldn’t hear Elvis. Most people can’t. Coulda saved them a whole lotta trouble.”

“You tried to warn them?”

“Told them a hundred times about the train,” said Elvis. “But they couldn’t hear worth a damn.”

Nicholas doubted anything would have stopped his parents from boarding the train that they died on. They had been determined and fearless.

Nicholas took a breath, knowing he had to focus on the important things.

“Malika,” he said. “How’s she the key?”

“She’s nurturing the Prophets, boy-o. That makes her pretty darn important. Key player, you could say.”

“So to stop the Prophets, I have to stop her.”

“Bingo.”

“How do I do that?”

“You’re not gonna like it.”

Nicholas thought of the Drujblade, the mystical knife Malika had stolen from him. He’d have no problem plunging it into her heart given half the chance, and not just because she’d killed his family.

“Try me,” he said.

“You met her maker,” said Elvis. “The demon she served. Or pretended to, for a while.”

“Diltraa.” Nicholas remembered horns, bone-white eyes and a rasping voice like skeletal fingers clawing glass.

“The one and only.”

“Diltraa’s dead,” said Nicholas. Esus had killed the demon after it broke into Hallow House.

“Not dead,” said Elvis. “Banished to the demon plane. You destroyed its corporeal form, kid, but a demon’s essence is never truly toast.”

Nicholas’s jaw started ticking and he eyed the statue nervously.

“Just tell me what I have to do.”

Posted in Ramblings

Curtains Up of Theatrical #YAshelfies

My first Theatrical Moment

I was living in Leeds, but trying to get a job in London. On a drunken dare/suggestion I might add. I’d read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and I’d fallen in love with it. I was surprised by how I wasn’t disturbed by the violence as I was warned I was. However, I think that was because I read it as a satire.

I still hadn’t had a successful interview when the off West End Almedia announced a new production by director Rupert Goold. American Psycho the Musical. Oh man, I almost bought tickets there and then. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had yet to secure a job.

Then they went and announced departing Doctor, Matt Smith, as the titular Patrick Bateman. Which had me conflicted; on the one hand it did make me want to see it just that little bit more however, on the other there would be people who would think I was seeing it JUST to see the good Doc. In the end it didn’t matter; it sold out so quickly that they added almost an additional month to the run and I didn’t see any of those tickets either.

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By January 2014 I’d gotten a job in London and was all moved. I’d spoken to a few people about my love of the book and my desire to see the play. A new friend new someone who had a single, front row, ticket for sale. Oh I took it and it started something that has changed and shaped my life.

The second that music started, I was lost in New York. Even now, upon discussing the play my mind soundtracks it with the original song Killer Wolf. I swooned when Paul Owen took my hand and kissed it. It wasn’t Ben Aldridge, it was Paul Owen and he acknowledged me. I sobbed at the second act and his treatment of Jean; she was the character I’d always identified with. Bloody hell, I didn’t know theatre could move me so much. I felt alive.

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I had to see it again. So much so that I camped out over night to gain access to tickets for the final production. It rained and I didn’t care. I didn’t sleep and I still didn’t care. I was called irresponsible, but I don’t regret it. It’s had to explain in writing, but I saved two girls who’d arrived about 4am from having to deal with a sleazy bloke who was rubbing himself up against anyone and everyone in an attempt to jump the queue and buy tickets for a women we guessed was his girlfriend.
In a moment of bravery I called him out, I used my teacher voice and finally got them to join the back of the queue. I gained a round of applause and took a bow. Well, it was theatre after all. It was only after, I realised that my actions pretty much guaranteed the 15 year olds a spot in the audience, in which they’d witness their hero doggy-styling a over sized teddy bear.

2014 and American Psycho saw that I got to 64 shows that year. I was chasing that feeling I’d gotten from the Musical. Some couldn’t complete, but it was terribly fun finding that out.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Blog Tour, Book reviews, Reads of ..., Usborne

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

About
Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume-designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool…and her secret.

Theatrical blog tour.jpg

Characters

Hope is everything young me wanted to be. She’s perhaps everything all of us want to be; someone who is successful and able to make a path for themselves in the world. She also falls into the trap we all do; we assume and respond to other’s unspoken views.
You’ll be gripped by her passion, her independence and her growth throughout the book. She’s a wonderful protagonist and a perfect mirror for any reader.
My other favourite character is Hope’s mother. She doesn’t necessarily get the most time in the book, but I love the different perspectives we’re given with a first person narrative. I actually felt like this was almost the most realistic way of developing a mother within a book.

Plot

The plot centring around a work experience placement is so wonderfully refreshing and unpredictable. There is romance, but it certainly isn’t central to the plot, for me! And I think that’s the beauty of Harcourt’s work; the prominent strand or relationship is what you bring to it. For me, making my mother proud and also breaking away and do my own thing was always something I tried to balance. However someone else will find the romantic strand the driving force.

Writing

The aspects of writing that really stuck out for me was not the characterisation, but the location. There was a part in the book that I fell into. Okay, mainly because it’s boiling hot right now, but her description of the rain and darkness gave me some relief from this sticky nightmare I’m currently finding myself in.

It also speaks volumes about the writing that I have 15 students on a waiting list for my copy just from reading the first page.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Book reviews, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Blog Tour: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

Characters
Lulu is a brilliant young woman, growing up in a mixed culture household and not knowing where she truly belongs or its impact it has on her identity. That’s all before we even get onto the fact that she’s a teenager in high school and dealing with the social etiquette of that too.
I love her fire and loyalty. She’s honest and uncompromising with her views; it gives you a good basis for the plot to revolve around.
James is a curious individual who isn’t overly likeable at first, but as Lulu gets to know him, you’ll be forgiven for having a change of heart.
Plot
It’s Easy A meets Heathers, by way of Mean Girls. You get an understanding of teen life, before Lulu’s life is turned upside down. It causes her to confront aspects of her life that she has always questioned; enabling her to understand herself a little better before the status quo is finally reached.
You don’t leave Lulu’s perspective, so her friend’s views are given to us through Lulu’s perspective or second hand news. It gives you an interesting view of what Lulu thinks of herself and others.
Writing
The writing is crisp, clean and emotional; you can clearly feel the torment of a person caught between two cultures. It is perfect for anyone wanting to understand what it feels like to almost have your very existence questioned.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Book reviews, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Not the Girls You’re Looking For – Book except

“It’s a matter of principle.” Audrey crossed her arms.

When it came to Audrey and her sister, everything was a matter of principle. Lulu shrugged. What Lulu knew of sisters, apart from Audrey, she had taken from fiction. Lulu suspected that Audrey found her sister to be a Mary Bennet– priggish and pedantic– while Audrey’s sister probably thought of Audrey as a Lydia Bennet– thoughtless and selfish. Or maybe they were Amy and Jo March and this was all about a burnt manuscript and an heiress of a boy. Lulu found the idea of sisters fascinating, but her only vocabulary for the relationship was borrowed. She did the best she could to keep up, given the circumstance.

Audrey turned the radio back up. Lulu flicked Audrey’s fingers, like swatting a fly, and turned the radio back down. Audrey sighed. After waiting a beat, she turned up the radio in one grand, sweeping effort, “So where to first?”

“‘Emma’s, then Lo’s,” Lulu punched off the radio with her knuckles. Her ears vibrated from the aftermath of that decibel level. “Then I’m thinking tacos. We haven’t had tacos in forever.”

“Two weeks. Yes, that was forever ago.” Audrey used as much condescension as she had in her. And Audrey had been bred to hold plenty of condescension.

Lulu laughed. Her freshly won freedom made her gracious enough not to hold a grudge. She had taken the blame for the night of the pool incident, getting Audrey off nearly scot-free. But Audrey would do the same for her, even if Audrey knew the world to be a certain way. A way that didn’t hold water, but still.

Lulu made an unprotected left turn and Audrey swooped in to turned the radio back on. Lulu paid these antics no further attention. They constantly danced around like this, attracting one another with what ought to repel. The two girls chatted and laughed until they became four. How any of them could hear one another, over each other, or the music, or the wind coming into the car as it sped along, was anyone’s guess.


BOOK INFORMATION

 

TITLE: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

AUTHOR: Aminah Mae Safi

PUBLISH DATE: June 19th 2018

PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends

SYNOPSIS:

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

 

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

 

Debut author Aminah Mae Safi’s honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if —especially if—you love them.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35795940-not-the-girls-you-re-looking-for

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250151813

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-the-girls-youre-looking-for-aminah-mae-safi/1126791458?ean=9781250151810#/

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250151810

Audio (Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/Girls-Youre-Looking-Aminah-Safi/dp/1250314577/ref=tmm_abk_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise. She’s the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. Originally raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner, a cat bent on world domination, and another cat who’s just here for the snacks.

 

Author website: http://www.aminahmae.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16090821.Aminah_Mae_Safi

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aminahmae

Instagram: http://instagram.com/aminahmae

Tumblr: http://aminahmae.tumblr.com/

Posted in 2018, ARC, Ramblings, Reads of ..., Usborne

Slay by Kim Curran

The most painful time in my life was when my copy of this went missing in the post. For a month, I had this feeling of knowing I *could* have read it, I *could* know how awesome it was but I couldn’t, because my postman decided to ‘return to sender’. My house appeared to be Grimmauld Place for a month or so and clearly the post man was not privy to the knowledge of the secret keeper.

Anyhow, I did get to read it. As it happens, it arrived the day after I started I Was Born For This and they made for a thematic reading pair.


It’s hard not to be biased because I was sold at the reference to Buffy. My life is lacking something teen and supernatural and SLAY fits in just perfectly.
The story hits the ground running and doesn’t stop to let you catch your breath. It’s amazing. From the moment you meet the boys of SLAY, all the way through their collaboration with Milly you will feel like you’re right with them.

Milly is a perfect protagonist. She’s relatable and new to the world of demons that the boys are so familiar with. However, she’s not going to be a damsel; she holds her own and catches up quick. Her feelings towards the band members gives depth to her character and some friction that I expect to see arise in the sequel.

The boy band. They are a riot! If only this band was real; I’d so be going to see them live. There’s a clear leader complex in JD. His frosty front will melt your heart. There is then the twins who are the perfect ying and yang. Curran has a talent for demonstrating sign language in a coherent way. Zek is my favourite and the perfect person to bring together a group that might clash without him.

It’s a perfect origins story for this group. It has the ideal pace and emotion to get you attached, but you are still left wanting so much more. I personally can’t wait to see how the relationships develop within the next book.

Posted in 2018, Book reviews, Han, Harper Collins, Harper Teen, Ramblings, Reads of ...

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

About:

The third novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most talked about YA writers in recent years.
For Angel Rahimi life is about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything she loves – her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing.
But dreams don’t always turn out the way you think and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together, they find out how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.


I was waiting for this book for so long. I was anxious to get my hands on this book, as if there was a small window for it to be bought or it would be lost to me forever. I fully expect I wouldn’t have slept the night before it’s release date, had I not had the wonderful surprise of finding it in a Central London book shop, nestled in with the new releases, a few days before.

I love Alice Oseman’s writing and narrative messages so much that I abandoned what I was reading to start I Was Born for This. Once again, Oseman did not disappoint. There is so much to relate to in the book. It doesn’t matter if the fandom didn’t fit, the reactions and the emotions are still the same.
Me, I’m not so much a boy band following girl any more. I remember abandoning Westlife for Alice Cooper back in 2003 when I went to my first ever concert at 18, but before then I was firmly a Boyzone and Spice Girls fan. I’m also firmly in the tv and film fandoms and can completely relate to the meeting friends online, paying money to be involved in some event and even meeting some of the celebrities involved.

What, perhaps, is the most familiar aspect of the novel is the idea of perceptions. From the viewpoint of both Angel and Jimmy, they clearly think and feel differently to those around them. I loved how they were both explored for their negative and positive aspects.

How it came to an end was perfect; both Angel and Jimmy will make decisions in their lives that provide a fulfilling and satisfying ending. However, Oseman has given me people I love and I want to know more about them.