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, 27 April 2015

Blogger Island with Andrew of The Pewter Wolf

Andrew from The Pewter Wolf is joining us today to share the books he has chosen to take with him to Blogger Island. I know it was a very tough choice for him, but he got there in the end.
I was looking at my TBR shelves (looking/stroking is the same thing, right?) and I wondered which five TBR books I would take to the desert island. I know, a bad thought but I thought it over and wrote my list. Hope you like my choice! 
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon 
I won my copy a while ago and it sits at the bottom of my TBR pile (it’s a hardback and can take the weight!), but I am kinda intrigued and excited over reading about this world. 
A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
The first book on this list where I feel like I haven’t read the book/seen the TV show that EVERYONE is talking about. I actually have no idea what happens in the show/book. All I know is that there’s something called “The Red Wedding” and I shouldn’t have favourite characters for they will die. That’s it! And I won this in a contest and am really intrigued over of this book lives up to the hype… 
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Am I the only person who hasn’t read this? I feel like it half the time. I think I will like this book a lot, but the hype/buzz scare me a little. But on a desert island, there will be no pressure to read this and like it. So, being trapped on a desert island might do me a favour with this book…. 
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I know. I KNOW! How have I not read this? HOW?! Well, like Fangirl, am a little scared of it, but after me reading Patrick’s latest, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, and loving it so, I feel brave enough to try this. And with being on a desert island, I can’t hide from it. I can imagine sitting down next to the fire and reading it. Reading it and not freaking out over the silence… 

Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs

I think the title’s quite apt for this, no? 

Some brilliant choices there, Andrew!If you would like to read more from Andrew then check out his blog here.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Write Way with Louisa Reid

Today, I am pleased to welcome UKYA author, Louisa Reid, on to the blog to answer questions about her new book, Lies Like Love and about her writing habits.
      Can you give me a one line pitch for Lies Like Love, so my readers can get a feel for the story?
‘Lies Like Love’ is both a love story and a horror story; heartbreaking and cruel, it’s the story of one girl’s struggle to be free to love whoever she chooses and to find her sanity against the odds.
Your book deals with depression and self- harming, how did you research these subjects?
I did loads of background reading, which consisted of devouring anything which explored similar themes. Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’ is a classic study in mental illness, and I also read Gillian Flynn’s ‘Sharp Objects’ in which the m/c self harms. Ultimately Audrey’s issues are a result of a very complex set of circumstances and I read a lot of medical journals to learn about the main psychiatric condition I explore in the novel, which I will not name here!
This is your second book to be published. Did you find it harder to write than the first?
Definitely. I felt a pressure to produce something similar in style and theme to ‘Black Heart Blue’, as that’s what the publisher wanted and the readers too, I presume. I also felt really worried about how the book would be received. When I wrote “Black Heart Blue” I had no idea about Twitter or bloggers or Goodreads or reviews. It all got a bit scary!  
Are you a planner or a pantser when it comes to starting a new novel?
I planned ‘Lies Like Love’ very carefully and conscientiously. I think it was a good thing and gave me a clear sense of where the novel was going. I sort of made ‘Black Heart Blue’ up as I went along, but I always had a sense of the novel’s shape and main concerns, as well as who the characters were. The books I’m working on now are planned in my head. I scribble things down on paper when I think of plot twists, but I feel like I have this cloud of story in my head that never really feels right written down as a plan.
Where is your ideal place to write? 
Sitting on the sofa, on my bed, at the kitchen table. Wherever I can get a few minutes peace! 
Do you try and aim for a daily word target when writing?
I try for as much as I can possibly do. I have days when I write nothing at all, other days when I write 5000 words. It depends on how tired I am. Managing a fairly full time teaching job as well as looking after my children/dog/husband and writing is pretty full on.
What gets you motivated enough to sit down and write?
The stories! They bug me until I write them down. When I’m struck by a great idea, I like nothing more than just hammering it out. Of course, once you’re 20,000 words in, then it’s all about staying power and seeing it through. You need discipline then. But I am a finisher. I don’t like to leave stuff undone, it annoys me.
Who are your favourite #UKYA authors? 
I love Teri Terry, I can’t fathom how she comes up with her ideas, they’re so beyond my imaginative capabilities. Keren David, who writes excellent contemps, as does Anne Cassidy. I’ve just started my first Frances Hardinge, which is so beautifully written I am in awe. I love Tanya Byrne and Emma Pass and Kendra Leighton. I’ve always been a fan of Anne Fine and Alan Gibbons. There are just too many to mention -  UKYA is bursting with amazing writing right now. For MG it’s Robin Stevens!
Do you have any advice for unpublished authors on dealing with rejection? 
Let’s be honest first of all and say that rejection hurts. It’s never nice. But if you can, don’t take it personally. Find something positive from the experience, if possible. This is difficult if you’re just getting standard rejections, but if you get any advice, consider yourself lucky and consider it seriously. I got lots of rejections from agents for a paranormal romance I wrote years ago, some of them quite unnecessarily snooty actually, but you have to leave the bitterness behind (as you see I have so successfully done). 
Summary:
LIES
'There were a few problems . . . bullying . . . a fire . . .'
LIKE
I think she's verging on psychosis . . . now she's lashing out.
LOVE
She's got no one else to fight for her.'

Sixteen year-old Audrey just wants to be normal. She's trying to fit in. But what happens when the person closest to you suffocates you with their love? What happens then?

About the Book
Title: Lies Like Love
Author: Louisa Reid
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
Published: July 3rd 2014

Author Information
 Louisa Reid is a writer and teacher living on the Fen Edge. Her debut novel, BLACK HEART BLUE was published in 2012 by Penguin and was shortlisted for the North East Teen Book Award and longlisted for the Carnegie and Branford Boase awards. Her second novel, LIES LIKE LOVE was published in July 2014 by Penguin.

Author Links


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Hippobottymus By Steve Smallman and Ada Grey

A mouse sat down by a bubbling creek –
The creek went bubble and the mouse went squeak!
Squeak, squeak, bubble, bubble, squeak, squeak, squeak.
Squeak, squeak, bubble, bubble, squeak, squeak, squeak!
Summary From Little Tiger Press
Plinkety-plonk! Tweetily-tweet! The jungle animals are making music to the sound of the bubbling creek! But – goodness me! – what is that naughty hippo up to? A bonkers, musical rhyming story with a laugh-out-loud, farting surprise! 
Dance and sing along to the musical noises – and bottoms - of the animals in this funny book by the award-winning author, Steve Smallman (Big Bear’s Bottom, Dragon Stew). Kids will love the bright and lively illustrations from Ada Grey (Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby). Packed with laughs and rhymes, Hippobottymus is the perfect picture book for parents and children to read aloud. 
******
I was pretty sure I wouldn't like Hippobottymus because breaking wind seems to have become a bit of an overworked subject in children's books. I needn't have worried though because the story made me laugh out loud. I was expecting it to be rude and very silly. It's silly all right, but in such a delightfully rhythmic way that I found my foot tapping as I read. And the farting I wasn't looking forward to turns out to be a clever twist right at the end. 

The illustrations are bright, colourful and lots of fun, but it's the words – brilliantly rhyming and rhythmic – that made this book for me. Read it out loud. Let your children join in with drums, rattles, spoons, anything that makes a good rackety din. It's far too upbeat for bedtime if you like your little ones to go calmly and quietly to bed, but for finger-clicking, toe-tapping, jiggly-giggly enjoyment you just have to share this book with them at some time. Don't miss it! 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Hot Key Books - Hot Picks

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we were shown a lot of books when we went to the Hot Key Blogger Brunch last Saturday. I've already told you a bit about the books coming out from the authors that were there on the day. Now I want to highlight the books I am really looking forward to out of the rest that were talked about.
Counting Stars by Keris Stainton 
I love anything that Keris writes! She has consistently brought out entertaining reads ever since she started writing. This is her latest YA novel and is about a young girl moving into a flat in Liverpool with seven older people, where she is trying to fit in. She begins to blog about her friends, who eventually discover what she is up to.    This is best described as Friends meets Fresh Meat and will be available to buy in September.
How To Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Miracle, and Sarah Mlynowski
This is told from three viewpoints, with each author taking on a different voice. It is about three friends going on a road trip, where we discover each one's reasons for going on the journey. This is very much a character driven novel and will be available in June. I loved We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and Lauren Miracle and Sarah Mlynowski are authors I've heard a lot about before. 
Monsters by Emerald Fennell
The author is better known for her Shiverton Hall novels. This book is a rather dark thriller, set in a Cornish town by the sea. The book follows two rather sinister teenagers, who are obsessed by murder and death. When a body is discovered on the rocks at the beach, these two can't stop themselves from searching out the truth. This will be out in October. 
Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall 
This sounds a lot a darker than Claire's first book, The Ferryman, which I loved. However, I honestly can't wait to read this. They only had to mention pagan burial sites at the blogger event, to have me really excited. This is out in August. 
Summary
Two survivors, one terrible truth.

Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she's desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge. 

One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn't, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence? 

Paperweight by Meg Haston
I'm not usually keen on this type of book, but the Hot Key team really sold it to me. This is out in July.
Summary
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.


Struggling to deal with her brother's death and a past she refuses to confront, Stevie knows she has problems. But she's still furious about the fact that she's been packed off to a health clinic, in the middle of nowhere, where mobile phones are banned and communication with the outside world is strictly by permission only. The regimented and obtrusive nature of the clinic and its staff is torture to the deeply private, obstinate Stevie - and don't even get her started on the other 'inmates'. All she wants is to be left alone...

But as Stevie is about to find out, life is full of surprises. And she will prove herself stronger than she knows - even when her past finally catches her up in the most shocking and brutal way possible. 

The Head of the Saint by Socorro Aciol
This is the first Brazilian book to be translated by Hot Key Books. Full to the brim of magical realism, I honestly can't wait until  October to read it. 
Summary
After walking for days across the harsh Brazilian landscape only to be rejected by his last living relative, Samuel finds his options for survival are dwindling fast - until he comes to the hollow head of a statue, perfect for a boy to crawl into and hide...

Whilst sheltering, Samuel realises that he can hear the villagers' whispered prayers to Saint Anthony - confessing lost loves, hopes and fears - and he begins to wonder if he ought to help them out a little. When Samuel's advice hits the mark he becomes famous, and people flock to the town to hear about their future loves. But with all the fame comes some problems, and soon Samuel has more than just the lovelorn to deal with. A completely charming and magically told Brazilian tale, sure to capture your heart

Almost Grace by Rosie Rowell
This is a coming of age story set in contemporary South Africa. Set at the beach, it had a real summer feel to it, yet deals with serious issues. I was lucky enough to pick up a copy at the event. I'm afraid everyone else will have to wait till June. 
Summary
Grace and her Cape Town friends are renting a house on the coast - after exams it's their rite of passage into adulthood. Yet 'maturity' means different things to each of them. Brett and Louisa have plans - university, travelling - but Grace is uncertain of her future. Anxiety drives her to take control of whatever she can, starting with her own body, and it is starting to worry those around her.

When Grace meets Spook - an older, nomadic surfer - their attraction is instant and his relaxed familiarity and assured confidence catch her off-guard. Can she allow herself to lose control, and fall in love?

Outcaste by Ellen Renner
This is the second book in the fantasy series described in The Guardian as spellbinding. I haven't read the first one, Tribute, yet, but I am well aware of how talented an author Ellen Renner is. The sequel is published in May. This series will suit fans of Philip Pullman and Cornelia Funke. 
Summary
Zara is on a quest for revenge - but is she amongst friends, or the bitterest of enemies?

Fleeing from the dangerous and powerful mage society she has betrayed, Zara has taken refuge in the Maker city of Gengst, where she knows she will face persecution and death if her identity is uncovered. She must live without magic, and even though she can finally be with the man she loves, her new life is far from the utopia she had dreamt it would be.

As the Knowledge Seekers work together to build machines powerful enough to end the centuries-long war between the mages and the non-magical Makers, Zara finds her loyalties and love tested to breaking point. She must face the evil that is her heritage, uncover the truth behind the childhood tragedy that haunts her - and find the strength to believe in herself.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
I read Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution very early on in my blogging life, and really loved it. So I can't wait to read this historical novel featuring kick ass women and epic descriptions. This will be out in October. 
Summary
Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.

So these are the books that I personally want to read. Look out also for new books from Paige Morgan, Guillermo Del Toro, Garth Nix, Simon Packham, Sara Shepard, Salla Simuka, Stephanie Tromly,  Chris Priestly, Alex Campbell and Hilary Freeman.


Blogger Brunch at Hot Key Books and Piccadilly

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited to the Blogger Brunch at Hot Key Books / Piccadilly. It was an amazing event, where  I was dazzled by an array of fabulous looking books coming out this year  as well as being let loose with lots of lovely authors to chat to and given a lovely lunch too. 
James Dawson signed copies of his book before the event started, as he was off to a festival in the afternoon. James was crowned Queen of Teen last year and it was lovely to catch up with him again.
When James spoke to the bloggers during the event, he actually got me all choked up. As many of you know there has been a lot of criticism about the blogging community recently from an author who will remain nameless. James stuck up for us and talked about how we had supported him since his debut with Hollow Pike, a few years ago. It was lovely to hear such strong support from such a well known author. 
James told us about his new book, All of the Above, which will be coming out in September of this year. It was originally written as a first draft for NaNoWriMo in 2013, yet since then it has taken longer than any other book to finish. James wanted to write an LGBT book, from the point of view of someone who is very much part of that community.  It is a lot different from his previous horror novels and James is nervous about how it will be received. This book is about falling in love, irregardless of your sexuality. I am really looking forward to reading this book. 
Lydia Syson told us all about her new book, Liberty's Fire, next, which is out this May. She described Liberty's Fire as a story 40 years on from Les Miserables. Keep a look out for a review of this book very soon from my new reviewer, Isabella.
Summary
Paris, 1871. Four young people will rewrite their destinies. Paris is in revolt. After months of siege at the hands of the Prussians, a wind of change is blowing through the city, bringing with it murmurs of a new revolution. Alone and poverty-stricken, sixteen-year-old Zephyrine is quickly lured in by the ideals of the city's radical new government, and she finds herself swept away by its promises of freedom, hope, equality and rights for women. But she is about to fall in love for a second time, following a fateful encounter with a young violinist. Anatole's passion for his music is soon swiftly matched only by his passion for this fierce and magnificent girl. He comes to believe in Zephyrine's new politics - but his friends are not so sure. Opera-singer Marie and photographer Jules have desires of their own, and the harsh reality of life under the Commune is not quite as enticing for them as it seems to be for Anatole and Zephyrine. And when the violent reality of revolution comes crashing down at all their feet, can they face the danger together - or will they be forced to choose where their hearts really lie? 
Next we heard from Jess Valance, a debut author. Jess told us all about her book, Birdy, which is out in July. 
Summary
A darkly compulsive tale of friendship and obsession.
Frances Bird has been a loner for as long as she can remember. But when she is asked to look after the new girl at school, the sparky Alberta Black, they soon become inseparable, doing everything together, and even creating their own sign of togetherness - a blackbird. After a while though, Bert wants to do things without Frances, and see other people without her there. And that won't do...No that won't do at all...
Hayley Long spoke next, telling us about the two books she has coming out with Hot Key this year.  Hayley was hilarious and she kept us in fits of giggles as she read from Being A Girl. This book tells you the low down on being a teenage girl and how basically brilliant you are. I can't wait to read this book. 
Summary
Being a girl is not all sugar and spice. How can you possibly survive school and even think about talking to your crush when you have spots in places you didn't even know you had, your boobs are too big (or too small) and the friend drama is off the charts? Luckily, bestselling YA author and sixth-form teacher Hayley Long provides a straight-talking guide to puberty - from cattiness to kisses, and everything in between. With witty black-and-white illustrations by Gemma Correll throughout, BEING A GIRL tells you everything you need to know about surviving puberty, in an honest and humorous way.

Hayley also told us about her second new book, Sophie Someone, which will be coming out in September. This book tells the story of  Sophie and her family, who moved to Belgium when she was little. By the time she is fourteen, she still doesn't know why they left England in the first place, until she makes a startling discovery which changes the whole way she looks at her family. Told in a unique way, with Sophie specially created language, which replaces every day words with code words. Hayley read us a little bit and it was really easy to follow the new language she had developed.
Next up was Julie Mayhew, who told us all about her new book, The Big Lie. This shows what England would be like now, if Germany had won World War II. Julie explained how easily children believe what their parents tell them, and these things become true in their heads. This gives you idea of how the story works. 
Summary
A startling coming-of-age novel set in a contemporary Nazi England.
Jessika Keller is a good girl: she obeys her father, does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher M├Ądel meetings and is set to be a world champion ice skater. Her neighbour Clementine is not so submissive. Outspoken and radical, Clem is delectably dangerous and rebellious. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?

Last to talk to us, was one of my favourite authors, Laura Dockrill. You may know Laura for her performance poetry and her children's series, Darcy Burdock. Laura is always entertaining to listen too and she kept us enthralled with details of her first YA, Lorali, about an extraordinary mermaid in an ordinary town. 
Summary
Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn't exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.

Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.

But along with Lorali's arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory's bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway? 


I had a brilliant time at Hot Key Books on Saturday and I want to thank the lovely team for looking after us so well. Thanks to Jen, Rosi, Livs, Monique and Sanne, who made us all want to read everything that Hot Key Books are publishing this year. Also thank you to the authors, who attended, for signing our books and taking the time to chat to us.

Later this morning there will be another post, where I showcase my Hot Picks from the other books discussed at Hot Key Books last Saturday.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Secret Serendipity Seven with Todd Hasak-Lowy,

Today on the blog, I am pleased to welcome Todd Hasak-Lowy, author of Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You which is published by Simon and Schuster which is published today! Todd is sharing seven secrets with us. 

1) It wasn’t my plan from the beginning to write a novel in lists.  I started with lists because I didn’t want to lose the first wave of details for this story as it suddenly crashed over me.  I wrote these details down in list form so I wouldn’t get distracted by questions of voice, style, perspective, etc.  But then writing these lists was oddly fun, so I just keep going.

2) Like Darren, I’m not a huge fan of my first name.  I used to think about changing it, until I realized I’m not the kind of guy who changes his first name.  I did, however, change my middle name from Eric to Sam when I got married.  This was a gift to my wife, who had an imaginary boyfriend named Sam Goldstein when she was growing up.

3) In the first few drafts of this book, Rachel Madsen, the “other” girl Darren gets involved with, was an utterly marginal character, appearing in only one list.  I’m very glad she wound up with a bigger role in the end, as I was for a while bugged by my sense that I had treated her unfairly in those early versions.

4) Like Darren, I used to play bass, though I’m confident he’s quite a bit better at it than I ever was.  I truthfully never thought too much about Darren’s personality or character, since I felt I knew him right away.  That being said, if you wanted to know what kind of kid is Darren, I’d say he’s the kind of kid who decides to play bass.  Not guitar, not drums, but bass.

5) My original visual model for Zoey was a girl (I can’t remember her name and never had anything to do with her) who showed up at my high school at the start of junior year (11th grade).  She wore only black, she even wore black lipstick.  But the weird thing is now, when I think about Zoey, she doesn’t look all that much like that girl anymore.

6) In early drafts of the book, there were even more songs mentioned by name.  But my editor, wisely, encouraged me not to name contemporary songs, since they often wind up seeming horribly dated even just a year or two later.  But while I have your attention, here are some songs that I originally named, songs I still stand by: “1901” by Phoenix, “Do You Realize??” by The Flaming Lips, and “Now Now” by St. Vincent.

7) I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as an undergrad.  I elected to have Nate live in an apartment in the last building I lived in there.  Even though he is arguably a difficult human being, I chose to charge him no rent.    


Book Summary
A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!
Darren hasn't had an easy year.
There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.
Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Check out the book trailer below.

To find out more about Todd Hasak-Lowy:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - The Lost and The Found by Cat Clarke

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, started by Jill at Breaking The Spine, highlighting future book releases everyone is waiting on!

The Lost and The Found by Cat Clarke - published by Quercus in May 2015
I love Cat Clarke's books! She was one of the first YA author's I ever read and every book knocks the last one she wrote off the top spot of my favourite book by her. If you have never read a Cat Clarke book, then you are definitely missing out. 

Book Summary

LOST. 


When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister. 

FOUND.

Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…