13 August 2017

Samplers


As I have been reading so many samplers lately, I thought I'd post my thoughts on a few of them.

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr
The descriptions I've read do not really do this book justice. There is so much more to it, just from the couple of chapters you get in the sampler. Though I have to say it is quite a substantial start to the book, some samplers are so short you don't have time to really get into the story, not so with this one.

Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
The chapter here seems to be more of a prologue to the book so it is hard to guess what it will be like but I really enjoyed it. I believe 'Sorrow' is just a working title. I've heard it will be quite a long book so I am really looking forward to getting into it. If it is even half as good and the 'Sin Eater's Daughter' trilogy I will love it.

The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman
I'm quite nostalgic for the days when I got to read His Dark Materials so it is great to get into that world again. This time going back to when Lyra was just a baby. This is a short sampler but still enough to know that I want to read the rest of the book... as if I didn't already know that.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
The cover and title drew me to this one but while I did enjoy the sampler, it didn't really entice me to read the rest of the book. I've heard good things about it though so I might be persuaded in future.

Floored by 7 authors including Melinda Salisbury, Non Pratt and Holly Bourne
I am really enjoying reading the scenes from each different character's point of view. I think I already have a favourite, Kaitlyn, and I look forward to seeing if that will continue when I read the rest of the book. I haven't read all the authors before so I don't have a clue who wrote what but I am curious to find out.




Here are some quick recipes for short and sweet cocktail shots to go with the short reads.

Tequila sunrise shot - fill a shot glass 1/3 with tequila, top up with orange juice, then slowly pour some grenadine in. It should sink to the bottom of the glass, giving a nice sunrise effect.

Pornstar martini - half fill a shot glass with vanilla vodka and add a squeeze of lemon and sugar syrup. Fill to 3/4 with Passoa and finish with cranberry juice.

Long Island Ice Tea - 3/4 fill a shot glass with equal measures of gin, vodka, tequila, triple sec and rum. Add a little sugar syrup and a squeeze of lime juice. Top with cola.





5 August 2017

Godkiller - Colleen Vanderlinden



I was hooked soon after starting Lost Girl, the first of the Hidden series and have been impatiently awaiting each new book as it came out, including all through the Soulhunter follow-on series. So I was absolutely ecstatic when Godkiller was released.




It is 10 years later and things in Detroit have been calm since the last huge adventure. But of course peace never lasts and this time Molly is up against something even bigger and badder than ever before. You wouldn't have thought it possible but it is. Lucky she has all the gang supporting her. I love getting more Nain, more Brennan, more Eunomia and everyone else too, including Molly and Nain's teenagers Zoe and Hades, who were just little children in the previous books. All the characters are just amazing. I don't think there is anyone who does not have a well-thought-out personality, though some have a lot more back story than others, for example Eunomia has her own series - Soulhunter.

I am trying to avoid spoilers, but I must say the moments between Molly and Nether actually had me in tears, anyone who has read the previous books will know the history and changing relationship between these two. And if you haven't read the other books you're going to want to get on that as soon as you finish reading this post! Warning, this book does end on a cliffhanger but luckily the author has promised we won't have to wait too long for the next one.

This is yet another fantastic book from Colleen Vanderlinden. I really missed reading about Molly and this one did not disappoint. Also, I have just realised there are interviews with some of the characters on the website (I'll put a link on the list). I can't believe I missed these before! A great way to get back into the world when you've run out of Molly books to read.

Another great series by Coleen Vanderlinden is the Strikeforce superhero series. If you love superhero stories or even just love strong, amazing characters like Molly then you will enjoy these.

One of the many aspects I love about these books is the Greek mythology and I found the perfect cocktail for Molly - the Greek Goddess. I have had to be a little creative with the ingredients as there was a quite obscure one in the recipe, but I think the one I made has worked out well.




To make my version, pour a shot of vodka into the shaker, along with a dash of elderflower liqueur. Squeeze in a quarter orange and throw the piece into the shaker too. Add some mint and a few pieces of cucumber. An optional addition I made to bring the flavours out a bit more is a couple of drops of Angostura bitters. Add ice, shake it all up and strain into a glass to remove all the little pieces. If you're feeling adventurous, flame a little twist of orange peel over the top, pass it around the rim of the glass and then use to garnish.


1 August 2017

YALC (part 2)


This was my first experience of YALC (Young Adult Literary Convention) and I loved the atmosphere. I managed to get my nails done to match Stargazing for Beginners, had a drawing lesson from Ruby etc herself and heard a panel discuss myths and magic. I stood in queues for proofs, followed a lady in a red cloak, got a picture with The Doctor and grabbed tons of samplers. And the highlight of my day, I managed to meet the wonderful Melinda Salisbury who kindly signed my book even though I missed her official signing day!



I only attended the Saturday this year but I have definite plans to go at least for the weekend next year. The jealousy when I heard what I missed on day 1, and then watching twitter to see everything that was going on day 3 was so tough to deal with. Now I miss being surrounded by books and authors but luckily have loads of goodies to keep me occupied.I managed to get my hands on some great proofs and freebies which I can't wait to read.


I also picked up tons of samplers for some books which I am really looking forward to. So far I've read the samplers of Sorrowbook and Book of Dust, both of which had me drooling for more. Why oh why do they have to publish next year? How do they expect us to wait so long?  If you spot any personal favourites in here let me know in the comments, you could help me decide what to read next.


And of course I had to buy just a couple of books too. It was very hard to restrict myself, the lure of all those lovely books just sitting there... I've been wanting to read The Girl of Ink and Stars for ages, just could not resist The Invisible Library (a book about books...) and was recommended The Sun is Also a Star by the bookseller.


Last but not least is all the lovely swag! Posters, badges, bookmarks, bags, sweets and plenty more. I now have to figure out how to display all this great stuff. My library walls will be covered. Any ideas for the rest, please leave me a message, I'm open to ideas, no matter how kooky.


Now I feel like I really need to up my reading though I have no idea when I will find the extra time. My already overflowing TBR has grown significantly. All in all I felt YALC 2017 was a very successful first experience, looking forward to next year!


26 June 2017

See You in the Cosmos - Jack Cheng




Alex is 11 years old, but at least 13 in responsibility years. Inspired by his hero Carl Sagan, he has a plan to tell aliens everything about life on Earth and records all his thoughts for them on a golden iPod. He is going to launch it into space on the rocket he has built and travels from Colorado to New Mexico to attend SHARF, the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival where he plans to enter his rocket into one of the competitions.

As the story progresses, Alex's real situation is uncovered gradually, through his entries on the ipod. His mother's quiet days, his brother Ronnie who works in Los Angeles and his father who died when he was very young. Alex is so open, honest and innocent, while being super smart and in many ways much more mature than his age.

As he tells the story you can read the childlike wonder in everything he sees and hears. It's a very touching story that makes you feel everything Alex goes through. I loved this book, even though it is written from the point of view of an 11 year old boy, it is not childish at all.

I read most of this book on holiday in Sardinia where we drank lots of Mirto, the locally produced liqueur. Along with plenty of prosecco of course. So I thought I should combine the two somehow. I decided to try out a Mirto Bellini and the liqueur works extremely well with the prosecco. Just pour a little Mirto into a flute and top up with prosecco. It's easy enough to adjust to taste, depending on how sweet you want the drink.





11 June 2017

YALC


I am super excited to have tickets to my first ever book con! In July I'll be going to YALC, the Young Adult Literary Convention, which is part of the London Film & Comic Con, with by book bestie Sophia. I'll add the link to the blog in case you want to check it out too. Inspired by the enthusiasm of Grace Latter from Almost Amazing Grace fame, I decided to write a little post about this and then I'll update on how I got on after the event too.

I have been checking out the listed authors who are attending so far and have quite a long list of books to read before I go. A lot of the ones I have read so far have been borrowed or e-ARCs so I plan to buy loads of these too and hopefully get them signed. There are so many amazing books, I'm worried how I'll get round to all the authors I want so it's probably going to take quite a lot of planning.

A few of my favourites from the books I have read so far:
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett
The Sin Eater's Daughter (trilogy) by Melinda Salisbury
Wishbones by Virginia Macgregor
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I have already reviewed some of these and there will be more posts to come.

My very long to be read list includes:
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss
The Witch's Kiss by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
It's All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot
The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

If you have read any of these or have more suggestions, please write me a note in the comments, I love recommendations.

I couldn't really find just one cocktail to match all these books but as I write this I'm sipping (trying not to guzzle) a Strawberry and Basil martini. I bought some strawberries today and I don't think they will last long so thought it would be good to use them up today. I've already eaten a bowl of them earlier. Plus it's a nice summery drink and the sun is shining for a change.

Muddle 3 or 4 strawberries in a shaker and then add a bunch of basil leaves and mash a little more to release the flavours. Add a shot of gin and half shot of lemon juice. Depending on how sweet your strawberries are, you might not need to add any sugar but I used a squeeze of agave syrup as I didn't think mine were sweet enough. Add plenty of ice to shake, and then double strain into your glass as there will be lots of strawberry bits and leaves in the shaker. I actually love the bits so spooned out the leftover strawberries from the bottom of the shaker, yum!




27 May 2017

Perfect - Cecelia Ahern


Finally! Well, the year long wait for this book was pure torture, but it was all worth it. This sequel to Flawed is just as fast-paced, emotional and full of edge of the seat excitement as the first book. If you haven't yet read Flawed then what on Earth are you waiting for? Get reading (see my very first review post too) then come back here for this one.




Celestine never wanted to be a heroine, or a leader, or a role model. She simply did what she thought was logical, but her action threw her whole world into turmoil and now everyone is trying to use her for their own agendas. However, she has something very powerful and if she is smart she may be able to bring the whole Flawed system down.

This book drops you straight back into the action with Celestine in hiding after fleeing her home, on the run from Judge Crevan and the whistle-blowers. While she's not exactly safe at her grandfather's farm, she is using the time to try and figure out her next move. She needs to find Carrick so they can make a plan and even more importantly she needs to find the video her lawyer took of her branding. This video seems to be the solution to everything if she can find it and decide the best way to use it to her advantage.

Celestine makes many plans and tries many ways to fix things but suffers countless setbacks for every step she manages to take forward. Just when you think things are going to go right for her, something unexpected usually turns up. But Celestine's stubbornness and strength comes through so she never quite gives up. She does make some allies as she goes though she knows she must be extremely careful who she trusts.

There is absolutely no let up to the tension and emotion in this book and it has an extremely satisfying ending. I was worried that there couldn't possibly be a good enough ending to match the rest of the book but I was not disappointed. You will want to read it from cover to cover, I read it in an afternoon as soon as it was delivered. Good thing too as my Mum and sister were waiting to rip it out of my hands as soon as possible.

The Black & White Daiquiri kind of symbolises the 2 sides of every person, perfect and flawed (or if that's a bit too philosophical for you, I just wanted an excuse to make one!). The original cocktail is made with blackberry and it is named for this and the coconut flavour, however I made mine with raspberry which means I should probably call it Red and White Daiquiri. Whatever you call it, this has been one of my favourite Booktails so far.

Muddle the fruit in the shaker then add a shot of Malibu, 1/2 shot each of rum and Chambord, 1/4 shot of lime juice. Shake with ice and then fine strain into your glass to remove the fruit bits. This cocktail is so delicious!




21 May 2017

The Scarecrow Queen - Melinda Salisbury


Twylla and Errin come together in the final book to The Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy. Both separately and together, they have a crucial part to play in rescuing their world from Aurek, the Sleeping Prince. He is a thing of myth and legend but the stories are actually true and just as horrific as told.




Aurek has moved through the Three Kingdoms, terrorising the people and destroying towns, villages and anyone who tries to stand in his way. He is so powerful it seems no one can stand against him. with his magic he can force people to obey his orders and he can create fantastically strong golems. Their only hope is to recreate the potion which put him to sleep hundreds of years ago.

I really enjoyed reading the story from both points of view. In the parts where they were together, I felt like Twylla and Errin could have been sisters. They had such a close relationship despite not really knowing each other that well. I loved how they both believed the other to be so brave and strong though they could not see those same talents in themselves. They are inspirational to each other and with their support they do more than they ever could have on their own.

Some mystery remains, even at the end of the books, we'll never really know Lief's motivations. It seems like everyone, Errin, Twylla, Prince Merek, all have a different view of him and we don't know what changed him or if he was always this way. Maybe this leaves an opening for more books or at least short stories to come in future. I really hope so.

These books just got better and better and I felt like I would need a week to recover when I finished! I was lucky to have The Heart Collector short stories to keep me going a little while longer. These are well worth a read to get some background to the legends.

While reading I was thinking I really needed some kind of golden cocktail to accompany the book. The alchemists from legend can create gold and Aurek's name actually means Gold King, or Ruler of Gold.

Hopefully I can be forgiven for mixing magical worlds here but the Felix Felicis (liquid luck) from Harry Potter looks like the perfect sparkling golden drink to accompany this book. Not to mention that the girls really need all the luck they can get.

A great recipe can be found on buzzfeed, I'll put the link below for all the other Harry Potter drinks. Mix 1/4 shot sugar syrup and 1/4 shot lemon juice in a champagne flute. Pour in 1 1/2 shots of ginger beer and top with champagne. A simple drink to make but it looks magical.




Link to Harry Potter cocktail recipes - https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/harry-potter-and-the-night-he-wont-remember?utm_term=.vm19VaAaJ#.dnWzAVOV3