Blog Tour Book Review: Monsters in the Mirror

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Publisher: UCLan Publishing
Pages: 424
Release Date: 1.3.2019
About: Darwen Arkwright’s world is turned upside down when he is forced to move from a small English town to Atlanta in the United States of America. Feeling out of place and struggling to fit in at school, Darwen seeks solace in a mysterious shop full of mirrors. It’s there that he discovers the ability to step through mirrors in to different worlds – worlds beyond his wildest imagination. Darwen befriends creatures including Moth, a tiny being with mechanical wings, but he soon learns that there is a terrible darkness threatening this new world…and only he can save it.The problem with doors is that they open both ways. There are monsters inside, and some of them are trying to get out…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Monsters-Mirror-1-Beyond/dp/099551559X

I fell in love with Dawen, his world and the story almost immediately and I couldn’t put it down. From the first page, you’re thrown into the story and it doesn’t let up until you close the book on the final page.

It holds a nostalgic magic that’s not only reminiscent of Snicket and Potter, but of one of my favourite childhood book series; the Shivers collection. They were an alternative to Point Horror and they were my go to. My favourite of them all was Madness at the Mall and Monsters in the Mirror really gave me such a throwback to it that I’ve been searching my bookshelves ever since.

Monsters in the Mirror would be an upgraded, movie quality version of those delightfully scary books of my childhood. With a chilling reminder of Return to Oz, I was hooked with both worlds presented and I really would love to see this being made into a TV progamme with 90s vibes. The worlds are artfully and passionately built that I dare people not to love them.

It’s a perfectly set out plot, that sees the protagonist develop relationships that have a fulfilling arc over the whole book while also laying a foundation for whatever comes next. Which, believe me, I’ll be here waiting for any news of an upcoming release date.

Its a story for all, but most of all… this could be the book series that gets parents recommending books to their children, digging out their old paperbacks and sharing them with a new generation of readers.

Han’s January Wrap Up

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Now I’m no longer teaching and am on the road to officially being my father’s carer, I am hoping to up my game with my blog. There’s no goal in terms of followers or awards, I just want to be more organised and help more books to succeed.
One thing I’ve always wanted to do is show my gratitude for the books I receive and reflect on what I’ve achieved over the previous month. Hopefully, this will be the first of many Wrap Up posts in which I share with you my purchases, book post and Net Galley gains before implementing a TBR I hope to stick to.
As always, comment and follow.
Love Han x

The Books I Got

  • Slay on Tour by Kim Curran (Usborne book post)
  • Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway (Piccadilly Press book post)
  • Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge (Hot Key book post)
  • The Anomaly by Michael Rutger (Zaffre book post)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J. K. Rowling (Sphere/ Little Brown. Bought)
  • Evermore by Sara Holland (Harper Teen. Bought)
  • DC Icons Batman: Night Walker by Marie Lu (Random House YA. Replacement purchase)
  • Doctor Who: The Good Doctor by Juno Dawson (BBC books. Bought)
  • Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly (Piccadilly Press book post)
  • Monsters in the Mirror by A J Hartly (UCLAN publishing book post)
  • Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (Hodder Children’s Press. From Wildest Dreams Book Box subscription)
  • Dark Blade by Steve Feasey (Bloomsbury YA book post)
  • Slayer by Keirsten White (Simon & Schuster Children’s UK. Net Galley)
  • Twisted by Steve Cavanagh (Orion Press. Net Galley)
  • The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson (Macmillan Children’s Books. Net Galley)
  • Ever Alice by HJ Ramsay (Red Rogue Press. Net Galley)
  • Aries 181 by Tiana Warner (Rogue Cannon Publishing E-Copy)

The Books I Read

  • Slay on Tour by Kim Curran
  • Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway
  • Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge
  • Slayer by Kiersten White
  • The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
  • Dr Ninth by Adam Hargreaves
  • Dr Tenth by Adam Hargreaves
  • Dr Eleventh by Adam Hargreaves
  • Dr Twelfth by Adam Hargreaves
  • Enchantee by Gita Trelease
  • Twisted by Steve Cavanagh
  • Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
  • The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson
  • Ever Alice by H.J Ramsay

So as it stands, I’m 14 books (18%) into my Goodread’s 80 book 2019 reading challenge. It also puts me a staggering 8 books ahead of schedule. I would love to keep this up, but I am also aware that 5 of my books are 5 minute reads.

The Books to Read in February

  • Monsters in the Mirror by A J Hartly
  • Dark Blade by Steve Feasey
  • Aries 181 by Tiana Warner
  • Time Traveller’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds
  • Hunting Evil by Chris Carter
  • Extinction Trials: Rebel by S M Wilson
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord
  • Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  • The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
  • Doctor Who: The Good Doctor by Juno Dawson

Happy February geeks x

photo out-take

Book Tour: Slay on Tour by Kim Curran

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As a reader it feels as if Curran’s opening story was the album and this, second offering that is so aptly named, is the amazing and anticipated arena tour.

You’ll gratefully applaud the hits the familiar characters roll out smoothly and with wonderful transitions. You will get that comfortable, almost homely, sensation even though it also feels different and new. Just like with all good bands on tour, Curran offers the fans something new that also teases what will come next.

I devoured this book, much in the same way I did the first. The key with the enjoyability of this book is having characters, relationships and situations I feel invested in. Slay on Tour has all, in buckets.

What I loved was the sub plot of Tom coming to terms with losing his hand. I had the pleasure of seeing Def Leapord last year and their drummer had his whole arm amputated in a car accident. The band stuck by is side while he recovered and learned to embrace his ‘disability’. I say it in that way because the man was one incredible drummer, regardless. Having that experience allowed me to experience Tom’s predicament on another level and that is all down to Curran’s writing.

The story in itself is fast paced, action packed and contains all the feels. It’s well wrapped up, but we get a juicy sting to tell us that London’s Calling. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Slay.

Love Han x

Jack Loves Rosie Blog Tour- Important Journeys

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Rosie Loves Jack by Mal Darbon is one of my favourite reads of 2018. It hooked me from the first page and reduced me to tears by the delightful ending. It is my absolute pleasure to be part of this blog tour, telling you about my own journey of discovery.

Getting Lost and Finding Myself

The Giant’s Causeway

In July 2016 I was in a weird place. I’d lost a bit of who I was while trying to be what I thought other people liked. Namely a boy. I’d convinced myself that if I lost enough weight, he’d at least look at me in away that wasn’t disgust. To me, he was beautiful, funny and I would have been happy for him to just be my friend.

He never did see me as anything other than ugly and pathetic and I didn’t speak to him again when I left my job in July. I was 3 stone lighter,but I was also beginning my journey into managing the chemical imbalance in my brain that had led to life defining anxiety and depression. I don’t think I’d ever hated myself more.

One of my favourite people in the whole world suggested a trip to Oban and the Outer Hebrides by way of landing on the beach of Barra. I jumped at the chance and hoped time away would mend my broken soul.

Finding Myself

One thing I decided before we left was that I would use this opportunity to try foods I wouldn’t normally. No burgers, no pizza and no salads. Being Scotland, my diet became primarily fish based. From the ‘best fish and chips’ to muscles, I tried it all.

The best part of this new mind set was trying oysters for the first time. London isn’t void of the shellfish; but they’re never cheap especially when you’re not certain you’ll like them. Turns out, I love them and that moment marked a much more experimental me when it comes to food.

The whole experience was documented

Searching for gods in all the Ancient Places

My friend, knowing I was struggling with my mental health,found some ancient rituals that took place in the area we visited. One was sacrificing wine to the god in order to be given good health over the following year. I didn’t have any wine on me, so I’m hoping the grapes I chucked were accepted with equally good grace.

The other was to walk 7 times around the church in a clockwise direction to improve your mental outlook. Having waded into the sea to offer my grapes, I didn’t want to put on my shoes. I figures the surrounding area of the church in question would be grass so off I went down the path towards the church.

How wrong I was. Not only was the quarter mile to the church(only accessible by foot) pathed with sharp rocks and nettles, so was the entire path around the church; it was almost as if someone knew I was going to attempt to do this barefoot.

The first lap was unbearable and I considered giving up and just letting my friend complete it without me. That was when I noticed there was a small concrete section next to the wall of the building. If I was careful with my footing and pace; I could walk it pain free. And so I did.

There were the corners that were hard and if I took them too fast, my feet paid the price. However, the last two laps were taken without a single misstep. Not sure it was what I was meant to take away from the activity, but I certainly saw it as a perfect metaphor for my own mental health.

From God to a Naughty Dog

I wasn’t the only person who was lost on this holiday in the highlands. While trying to find out way to our fourth (possibly fifth?) hotel of the trip, we encountered what looked like a frightened and lost terrier dog.

After getting our directions from the Post Office that just so happened to be back the way we’d come, I decided to walk while my friend drove ahead. This was in the hopes of me capturing the lost looking pup and getting him back home. I should point out here that I’m a little bit like Hagrid; I’d spent the entire trip trying to stroke the cows and any other animals we happened upon.

Alvie

However, I soon realised he had a cunning, yet dastardly, plan. The ankle height beauty would stand still, trembling until I got to grasping distance; when he’d run away at full speed. He then leapt over the grassy dip at the side of the road and waited on the other side. There was nothing for it but to jump over myself. Except I fell into the dip and plastered myself with mud. I swear I heard him laugh.

I gave up after that and decided to inform whomever lived at the house we’d just past, figuring that it must be theirs. The gentleman opened his door. Between myself and my friend, we explained that we’d seen this dog, that we’d tried to catch him and that if he was to hear about a lost dog we’d last seen it in what we assumed was his field.

“Oh, that’s Alvie! He’s forever getting out of my neighbour’s yard and causing mischief.”

Rosie Loves Jack is out now. 

Distortion by @VictorDixen @HotKeyBooks

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About:

After a speed-dating show that is literally out of this world, twelve young astronauts are set to become the first humans to colonise Mars. They are also the victims of the cruellest of plots.

Léonor thought she was a pioneer on an extraordinary mission. She thought she had left all regrets behind her on Earth. But when memories are this painful, there can be no forgetting . . .

Characters

Leonor is as wonderful as ever. Her relationship with the rest of the crew is a little more open. It gives the story scope and allows her to become the leader, whether she wants it or not. She is the consistent within a world of chaos and you’ll want to stay by her side from start to finish.

Returning characters Harmony and Andrew are thrown further into the fray in Distortion and they are a welcome addition to the narrative. Now Andrew is not trying to put pieces together on his own, the tension has changed somewhat. Allowing him to spend time with Harmony gives the reader more scope into his character and he’s someone I want to spend even more time with.

Plot

Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure where the sequel was going. By the mid way point I was convinced there wasn’t a sequel. I assumed that perhaps the trilogy was condensed, and it was leaving me a little sad. It’s on of the reasons why the final act pulled the rug from under me and yet again had me begging for the sequel. 

Collision cannot come quick enough for me. The writing is engaging and the story is compulsive. You can’t put it down and it certainly would make the perfect TV show for all ages.

 Pick up Distortion and Ascension now. Collision is due April 2019

https://amzn.to/2AmrhVq

Splinter by Joshua Winning Blog Tour – Extract

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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.”

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

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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.