Welcome to Serendipity Reviews !

The original UK book blog that brings you all the latest book news straight from the publishers, along with book reviews and author interviews. We read and review all genres, although we love paranormal, fantasy and contemporary books.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

Hi everyone,
I have to apologise for my lack of blogging throughout December. I started with great plans and they all seem to have gone to pot. I haven’t even managed to  get onto Twitter either. And don’t even mention writing, because that definitely stopped the moment I finished NaNoWriMo.
At the moment, I am working rather long hours in the run up to the festive period, so there hasn’t been a lot of spare time. Any time I have had, has been spent organising Christmas and my twin daughter’s birthday. So I am going to admit defeat and take a blogging break until the beginning of January, when I hope to be back and raring to go. I will have reviews of such fantastic books as The Art of Being Normal, not to mention event reports, showcasing the new books coming from Macmillan Children’s Books and Walker Books. I plan to get as much reading in as possible over the next couple of weeks and be a better blogger in 2014. There will be a few changes. I really want to start writing more personal posts about my writing and crafting abilities, so I hope you will be patient with my while I move things around.
So I wish all my blogging friends, lovely readers and wonderful authors and publishing peeps a very happy Christmas and a totally awesome New Year. Let’s make 2015 bigger and brighter!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Congratulations Kathryn Evans!

I desperately wanted to share this press release with you, because this is about one of my favourite people! Kathryn Evans is an amazing writer and finally the rest of the world will be able to read her amazing book.  Congratulations to an inspirational woman! I will pass you over to the lovely people at Usborne who sent out this press release on Friday.
Usborne acquires ‘incredible’ young adult debut novel

Sarah Stewart, Senior Fiction Editor at Usborne, has acquired World English Language Rights from Sophie Hicks, The Sophie Hicks Agency for More of Me by Kathryn Evans. 
For publication in summer 2016, in paperback.
Stewart says of this book:
“More of Me quite simply has the most original, compelling and incredible concept I’ve ever come across – and yet it’s so convincingly presented that you believe every second. The result is truly unique and utterly unforgettable – a book that demands to be talked about. We are so thrilled and proud to be the publisher to introduce Teva’s shocking and extraordinary story to the world.”
This debut novel will make young adults think about the concept of identity, and what it means to ‘grow up’.
Teva is sixteen. She goes to school, studies for her exams and spends time with her boyfriend, Ollie, and best friend, Maddy. To the rest of the world, she’s normal. But when she goes home, she’s anything but. Because at home there are twelve other Tevas – nearly one for every year she’s been alive. Because once a year, Teva separates into two, leaving a younger version of herself stuck at the same age, in the same house…watching the new Teva live the life that she’d been living.
And since Teva entered her teens, her strange existence has become a battleground. Because when suddenly there are boys at stake, friends lost and lives snatched away, Teva has a fight on her hands. With herself.
As her sixteenth year rolls around, Teva is all too aware that time is running out. She knows that another version of herself will soon be breaking free and taking over her life, and her future. Desperate to prevent this from happening, Teva decides to find out more about her past. In doing so, she finds new empathy for her younger selves and, when she comes head to head with her fifteen-year-old ‘sister’, she comes to realize just what a difference a year can make. 
Usborne Marketing & Publicity Manager, Anna Howorth, says:  “It is testament to Kathryn’s talent that she makes this plotline seem entirely plausible; I was completely swept away. Her characterisation of the different versions of Teva, each at a different age, is insightful and thought-provoking.” 

About Kathryn:  In addition to writing, running a fruit farm and raising two children, Kathryn Evans loves to belly dance and fences competitively. She is Finance Co-ordinator for SCBWI and can’t wait for the day when she holds More of Me in her hands at SCBWI’s annual mass book launch. This is her first book. You can follow Kathryn on Twitter as @mrsbung

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Tales from the Crafting Corner (2)

I had hoped that this would be a regular post, but it seems I might have chosen the wrong time of year to do it. As the festive season kick starts into action, I am finding myself working lots of hours so the crafting is nearly at a standstill. Not to mention, reading. My poor blog was abandoned all week, as I struggled to play catch up. However I have plans for this week, so I thought I would share those with you in the hope that once Christmas arrives, I might have time to stop and craft.
Firstly I want to share my Christmas present with you. Well, I haven’t technically got it yet, as it has to be kept for Christmas, but it is in the house.

This little beauty!!!! I’ve been after a new sewing machine since I moved to Sussex, but never got round to replacing my very basic Brother one. But since working at Hobbycraft, I’ve been desperate to start sewing again and as I got a very good deal on this, I honestly couldn’t resist. I bought some fat quarters to go with it and I also have a couple of sewing kits I want to use it for too. I’m going back to basics as it has been a long time since I used a sewing machine and it looks like my daughter might have to show me how to use it again.
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You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, I showed you my pom pom wreath. Well as that one was for a demonstration at work, I decided to make another one for home. I am half way through it and hope to get it finished by the end of the weekend.  Then I hope to start making the sequin decorations above. I have a little obsession going on with polystyrene at the moment and I find myself coming up with different ways to decorate it.
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I also plan to make these. Apologies for the poor picture. If you can’t work out what they are, I can tell you. They are wine glass charms which have been cross stitched onto plastic canvas. They are then attached to wire rings which you can put around your wine glasses so that you don’t muddle them up for Christmas. Aren’t they fab. They should take about 2 hours each to make, so I am hoping to get them done for Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
So that’s all from the crafting corner of the blog this week. Look out for lots of book posts this week.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Waiting on Wednesday–Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, started by Jill at Breaking The Spine, highlighting future book releases everyone is waiting on! Today I am super excited about the next book from Sarah Alderson, one of my favourite authors. Conspiracy Girl will be published in February 2015 by Simon and Schuster and I can’t wait to read it.
Book Summary
Everybody knows about the Cooper Killings – the Bel Air home invasion that rocked the nation.
There was only one survivor - a sixteen year-old girl.
And though the killers were caught they walked free.
Now eighteen, Nic Preston - the girl who survived - is trying hard to rebuild her life. She’s security conscious to the point of paranoia and her only friend is a French Mastiff bulldog, but she’s making progress. She’s started college in New York and has even begun dating.
But then one night her apartment is broken into and the life Nic’s worked so hard to create is shattered in an instant.
Finn Carter - hacker, rule breaker, player – is the last person Nic ever wants to see again. He’s the reason her mother’s killers walked free from court. But as the people hunting her close in, Nic has to accept that her best and possibly only chance of staying alive is by keeping close to Finn and learning to trust the person she’s sworn to hate.
Fleeing across a snowbound New England, frantically trying to uncover the motive behind the murders, Nic and Finn come to realize the conspiracy is bigger than they could ever have suspected. But the closer they get to the truth and the closer they get to each other, the greater the danger becomes.
To survive she has to stay close to him.
To keep her safe he has to keep his distance.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Black North by Nigel McDowell

Would you snap-shut your trap and listen – I can hear something.’
‘I hear nothing. Imagining things, so you are.’
‘Not. Tell the lads to be ready. They’re close now.’
‘The lads are ready enough – we all are. Ready to die for the Cause!’
‘Not gonna die.’
‘Don’t be frighted now, sister dearest.’
‘Dying in battle isn’t a thing to be worried about. Remember – it’s how Da and Granda went.’
‘I know that. Can’t forget, can I?’
Published by Hot Key Books in 2014
416 pages in paperback
Cover by Manuel Šumberac
Summary form publisher’s website
The Divided Isle, once a place of peace and tranquillity, has been ravaged by war. Twins Oona and Morris live with their grandmother in a stone cottage in the quiet southern county of Drumbroken, but the threat of the Invaders of the Black North - the ravaged northern part of the island - is coming ever closer. When Morris, fighting against the Invaders, is kidnapped by one of the evil Briar Witches, Oona must journey to the unknown realms of the Black North in search of her brother.  She is accompanied only by Merrigutt, a jackdaw with mysterious transformative powers, and a treasured secret possession: a small stone in the shape of a plum, but a stone that reveals truths and nightmares, and which the Invaders and their ruler, the King of the North, seek more than anything. Oona must keep the stone safe at all costs, and find her brother, before the King of the North extends his evil hold over the whole island and destroys it forever.
This is only Nigel’s second book – and it’s a cracker. To be fair, it has a distinctive voice which not everyone will relish, but those who do will absolutely love it.
If you would enjoy a re-working of Irish myth and legend with a moving family story at the heart of it, then this is for you. Add a much larger drama with some frightening elements of dark magic and you’ve definitely got my sort of book, oh, and don’t forget the beautiful writing.
It’s an adventure story with a brave girl at the centre of it, and some very scary enemies. A kind of Northern Irish Guillermo del Toro imagination animates this strange world. It’s easy to enjoy the weirdness and pace of the story – but there are deeper ideas beneath the fascinating surface. For me, it left a distinct and satisfying imprint after the end.
I would highly recommend this for any fans of fantasy who are competent readers and not too easily scared. Adults will get more out of it than perhaps they might expect. If you delight in Kate Thompson or Michael Scott for example, this might well suit you.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Don’t look now,’ Lockwood said. ‘There’s two of them.’
I snatched a glance behind me and saw that he was right. Not far off, on the other side of the glade, a second ghost had risen from the earth. Like the first, it was a pale, man-shaped curtain of mist that hovered above the dark wet grass. Its head too seemed oddly skewed, as if broken at the neck. I glared at it, not so much terrified as annoyed. Twelve months I’d been working for Lockwood & Co. as a Junior Field Operative, tackling spectral Visitors of every horrific shape and size. Broken necks didn’t bother me the way they used to.
‘Oh, that’s brilliant,’ I said.’ Where did he spring from?’
Published by Random House in September 2014
496 pages in hardback
Summary from publishers’ website
Ghosts and ghouls beware! London’s smallest, shabbiest and most talented psychic detection agency is back.  Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is desperate for an exciting new case. 
Things seem to be looking up when the team is called to Kensal Green Cemetery to investigate the grave of a sinister Victorian doctor. Strange apparitions have been seen there, and the site must be made safe. As usual, Lockwood is confident; as usual, everything goes wrong – a terrible phantom is freed and a dangerous object is stolen from the coffin.  Lockwood & Co. must recover the relic before its power is unleashed, but it’s a race against time. Their obnoxious rivals from the Fittes agency are also on the hunt. And if that’s not bad enough, the skull in the ghost-jar is stirring again…
I decided I’d better read the first Lockwood story [the Screaming Staircase] before I reviewed this. I’m glad that I did.
They are both great fun – in a spooky way – but this second one’s even better. If you like a mixture of detective novel with creepy bits mashed up with humour in an alternative ‘now’ – then these are for you. 
There’s a really pleasing balance of chills, thrills and laughs – I could so see it as a serial in the manner of Randall and Hopkirk [Deceased] if anyone remembers that. One of the best things is there are two boys and a
girl involved – and not a hint of a love triangle. Hurrah. Adventure, risk, strong female characters – and no soppiness. What more do you want from this sort of book?
It’s not profound – it never makes any claim to be – but the friendships are well drawn and the sense of honour in our investigators is engaging. There are some ongoing strands which are not fully resolved – so you know there are more books to come – but this one has more completeness than the first, perhaps. I found this plot more satisfying though sometimes I do get pulled out of the story by strange details – like rapiers and Velcro. This is probably an adult perspective – and a finicky one at that. I doubt younger readers will notice at all.
I would recommend these for when you want a fast-moving, entertaining read with likeable central characters – and you love a mix of eerie and funny. You want to be a competent reader – but audio would be great too. I hadn’t really expected to – but I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next one!

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas By Britta Teckentrup

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
a partridge in a pear tree. 
Summary From Little Tiger
Introduce children to the traditional song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, in this beautiful new book, featuring illustrations by Britta Teckentrup. The peep-through pages reveal each new Christmas gift, creating a stunning layered effect. A perfect gift for your true love! 
This book is very cleverly designed. Every present that 'my true love' handed over during the Christmas season is drawn on the last page of the book, and the pages before it are cut out in such a way that the gifts only become visible when the reader reaches the appropriate page. But the drawback to this way of presenting this well known Christmas carol is that the pictures are rather small which probably means it will appeal to older children, rather than the under-5s. 
The front cover shouts Christmas with its dark blue background and silver holly leaves and snowflakes, the title page is Christmassy and there are snowflakes on the back of every cut-out page, too, though some of the pages have flowers or autumn leaves which detract a bit from the seasonal feel.
I imagine this book will sell well as Christmas approaches. It should be particularly popular with people like me who are always singing but can never remember whether the drummers come before the pipers or the other way round. I've got no excuse now for getting the words wrong and neither will you have with a copy of this book on your bookshelf!  
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