Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Blog Holiday

Hi guys!

Just a quick one to let you know I'm taking this week off blogging to have a nice, chilled out week with my boyfriend before he starts his new job - so you won't see any new posts from me until September.

Have a great week,

Carly xxx

Monday, 18 August 2014

DNF: Black Ice - Becca Fitzpatrick

Published: October 7th 2014, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 392 pages, paperback
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads)Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late. 

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. 

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. 

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally? 

My (sort-of) review: As always, I call this a 'sort of' review because I didn't finish reading Black Ice, I got to page 81 before giving up so do remember that this opinion is based on that portion of the book, as I didn't like this enough to continue.

To be blunt, I really disliked Black Ice and it was not my thing at all. I didn't have any intention of reading it but when a copy popped through my letterbox and the publisher encouraged me to try it I thought I might as well delve in. Plus, I always get tempted to see what the fuss is about when I read a string of negative reviews - morbid curiosity, I guess!

Often I like books that a lot of people dislike but this time I 100% agree with the negative comments Black Ice is attracting. The protagonist - oh, wow, she is something else... I've seen a couple of reviews say that she gets better later on and it's easier to ignore her awful personality once the book gets going but I couldn't carry on with this. The awful characters, coupled with the dull story and uninspiring writing meant I was turning the pages purely to try and get through it and wasn't enjoying anything at all.

Our protagonist, Britt, is a selfish, spoiled, bitchy student who is on Spring Break with her equally dislikable best friend, Korbie. Instead of heading to Hawaii with their other friends they're heading to Korbie's cabin in the mountains to spend the time hiking the trails etc etc. There's a snow storm, their car gets buried, they hike through the woods and find a mysterious cabin in the woods, where they promptly shack up with the two guys inside. Sensible? NO, OF COURSE NOT. 

Britt is a pretty vapid, spoiled piece of work, as outlined by a few quotes I've pulled from the first 80 pages:

'I wondered if I'd gained any weight since he'd last seen me. I didn't think so. If anything, the running and weight lifting I'd done to prepare for our backpacking expedition had sculpted my legs. I tried to cling to the idea of sexy legs, but it wasn't making me feel any better.'

'"Daddy!" I hollered...and put on my best little girl pout. "I need money for gas, Daddy."'

'"Since you started pilfering Slurpee and pretending you can't operate the gas pump so I have to come out and fill your tank for you. Every time you pull in, I want to kick myself."
I wrinkled my nose. "I don't want my hands smelling like gas. And you are particularly good at pumping gas, Willie." I added with a flattering smile...
... I padded barefoot through the aisles looking for Twizzlers and Cheez-Its, thinking that if Willie didn't like pumping my gas he really should get another job.'

The next part is too long to type out but she runs into her ex-boyfriend and proceeds to lie and pretend she has a new boyfriend, pointing to the first guy who walks into the shop and pretending he's her new boyfriend. Seriously? This is a book about young adults, not children, right? After making up a fake boyfriend to spite her ex, she walks into the car park, sees his car and does the following:

'Climbing through the passenger door, I knocked his rearview mirror out of alignment, dribbled Slurpee on the floor mats, and stole his vintage CD collection from the glove box.'

All of the above happens in the first 27 pages, so you get the gist.

She also admits to reading her best friend's diary and starts flirting with one of the strangers in the cabin to try (the one her best friend likes) to try and prove a point. Yeah, a character I dislike that much cannot sustain my interest for almost 400 pages.

Oh, and my personal favourite, from page 69:

'I tapped my cup to his, grateful to have found Shaun, because for a minute there, I'd thought I was going to have to save myself. Instead, I'd wandered into the protective care of a sexy older man.
I dared any of my friends to return from spring break with a better story.'


I don't want my negative thoughts about Black Ice to deter anybody from reading it, as we all love different books and while this has had a lot of negative attention (particularly among UK book bloggers, which is interesting) it has also had lots of positive reviews on Goodreads, so swings and roundabouts. I do think this will be a polarising book so if you fancy reading it I'd probably download the Kindle sample before purchasing the whole thing, because if you're going to be turned off of this one it will probably happen within the first chapters.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Blog Tour: Abigail Haas - Dangerous Boys (*Shirtless Chad Michael Murray Klaxon*)

Today is my stop on Abigail Haas' blog tour for Dangerous Boys - a book I read and really enjoyed! I'm a big fan of Haas' books and adored last year's Dangerous Girls, so I recommend checking both of those books out if you're looking for entertaining mysteries to read.

For today's post Abigail is going to talk bout her top five bad ass brothers! What's not to like?


Damon & Stefan Salvatore – The Vampire Diaries

I never read the books, so this is all about the on-screen TV smolder, but Damon and Stefan take the prize for being recklessly dangerous while maintaining excellent hairstyling. They’ve role reversed ‘good bro’ and ‘bad bro’ so many times, peeling back the layers to reveal real strength and darkness every time. 

Lucas and Nathan Scott – One Tree Hill

If I can get a picture of a shirtless Chad Michael Murray on my blog then by hook or by crook I will!

Yes, I was a big OTH fan. No, I’m not ashamed. The show nailed crazy teen drama and emotional sincerity, and from the very first episode, the dynamic between half-brothers Lucas (single mom, illegitimate), and Nathan (rich, dysfunctional family) drove the action. The burgeoning sense of brotherhood grounded the often-ridiculous action, so that even when crazy nannies were kidnapping kids, and a dog ate a human heart set for transplant (true story, just watch), you still felt the emotion between the brothers.

Nick and Alan Ryves - The Demon’s Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan

Demon-fighting, sword-toting brothers on the run. Rees Brennan brings a trademark wit and banter to every scene, but still grounds their dynamic in real sibling protectiveness and loyalty. 

Loki and Thor – Marvel world movies

The layers of resentment, admiration, and jealousy that run between Loki and Thor will be recognizable to any sibling. Except this pair also comes with the threat of world domination.

Sam and Dean Winchester – Supernatural

What is it with hot brothers fighting (and/or becoming) demons? Sam and Dean have been through a lot in nine years of the show, with the future of humanity seeming to hang in the balance every other week, but through it all, their loyalty remains strong. As does their hair game.


Well, there you have it. What do you think? Do you agree with the choices? I have to agree with the Salvatore brothers and Loki and Thor, for sure!

For more information about Dangerous Boys you can check out the Goodreads page for the book, or follow Abigail on Twitter.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Wickedpedia - Chris Van Etten

(Note: Kindle edition cover differs)
Published: June 24th 2014, Scholastic
Pages: 224 pages, Kindle
Standalone/Series: Standalone

Summary (from Goodreads): It's the return of Point Horror for the Internet generation! Don't open the door. Don't answer your phone. And whatever you do, DON'T turn on your computer. . . .

Cole and Gavin love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia. They edit key articles and watch their classmates crash and burn giving oral reports on historical figures like Genghis Khan, the first female astronaut on Jupiter. So after the star soccer player steals Cole's girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field.

It's all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident . . . just as Cole and Gavin predicted. The uneasy boys vow to leave Wikipedia alone but someone continues to edit articles about classmates dying in gruesome ways . . . and those entries start to come true as well.

To his horror, Cole soon discovers that someone has created a Wikipedia page for him, and included a date of death. He has one week to figure out who's behind the murders, or else he's set to meet a pretty grisly end.

My review: I'm a huge horror fan, as any regular readers of Writing from the Tub will know. I'm always looking for the latest YA horror release and I've often loudly wished for the day when YA horror rises to the forefront of publishing wishlists and finally has its moment. As such, I was pretty darned excited when I stumbled across Wickedpedia on Goodreads earlier in the year - I thought it sounded like a great premise and I was a huge fan of the Point Horror books in my teenage years. So, when Wickedpedia's release day rolled around I was excited to download it to my iPad and dig in.

Unfortunately, that's where the excitement ended.

I wanted to love Wickedpedia, I really did. I wanted to be drawn in by the characters and engrossed by the story. I wanted to text my friends and tell them to read this book for pure nostalgic pleasure... Sadly, I really, really didn't love Wickedpedia.

The narrative was clunky and awkward and the entire thing could really have done with a lot more editing - it felt like I was reading a novel in the early stages of drafting rather than a finished product that was actually out on bookshelves. Cole and Gavin fell flat for me and I certainly didn't find myself rooting for Cole, who was incessantly moany about his break up with Winnie, or Gavin, who I think was supposed to be witty but just came off as bitchy.

The death scenes were gory and were probably the best written part of the book, to be honest. They did remind me of the old school Point Horror novels so, bravo for the gore because it did hit the mark.

The mystery surrounding the 'Wickedpedia' element of the story was just...no, it just didn't work. At all. By the time the 'big reveal' happened I genuinely didn't care any more and the killer was such a weird curveball that it didn't even surprise me. It wasn't a sophisticated mystery, it just felt like a random character was picked to be the killer and didn't feel like the natural progression of the story.

Unfortunately, Wickedpedia didn't deliver and I'm really disappointed because I wanted to be scared stiff; the scares just didn't come.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Blog Tour: Water Born - Rachel Ward

Happy hump day, everyone! I'm here today with the ever so lovely Rachel Ward for my stop on the blog tour for Water Born, the sequel to The Drowning.

In keeping with the theme of the books, Rachel is here today to talk about her relationship with water and there are some excellent stories in there, so do make sure you keep reading!

For more information about Water Born, which is due out tomorrow, you can check out the Water Born Goodreads page and follow Rachel on Twitter.

Water and Me - Rachel Ward

When I wrote The Drowning, my publisher Barry Cunningham of The Chicken House asked if I was scared of water. I said that I wasn’t, but that I had a healthy respect for it. And it’s true – I’m pretty scared of heights, I’m definitely scared of spiders and snakes but water isn’t one of the things that gives me nightmares or sets my heart racing in panic. In fact, I love swimming and one of the delights of this year has been discovering that there are river swims to be had only a mile or two from my home in Bath (and lovely literary folk to swim with).

His question did get me thinking about my relationship with water, though, and the more I think about it, the more I realise it’s played an important part in my life and in writing The Drowning and its sequel Water Born.

I didn’t have a water birth (if only my mum had thought ahead, it would have made the title of my new book oh so sweet). My first memory of water takes me to the back garden of my parents’ house, on a hot summer’s day, when I was three or four. I remember being alone and walking backwards (why? Just to see if I could do it, of course!) and I remember my legs bumping into the metal frame, the feeling of toppling, the shock of the cold water, the sound of it rushing in my ears. I remember not knowing which way was up and swallowing an awful lot of water. I can remember its taste. Writing this is making me shiver. Right now, even though I know it turned out okay, I’m scared for that little girl. I feel a bit sick about what might have happened. I managed to clamber out and trudge soggily into the kitchen, but how close did I come to drowning? Too close for comfort.

My other watery tales are happier. I learnt to swim during a glorious week at the end of the school holidays, when the new middle school building wasn’t ready and I had an extra few days off, while my older brother and sister had to go to their senior schools (result!). It was hot and sunny, and my mum and I went to Guildford Lido every day where we ate picnic lunches and I learnt to doggy paddle in a jerky, splashy sort of way. ‘Look! I’m not even touching the bottom!’

I met my best friend at secondary school in the first week of term in the swimming lesson. Rowena and I were both in the worst group, shivering miserably in the shallow end, while our more gifted classmates showed off their front crawl and did exciting things like diving for bean bags in the deep end. Or was it heavy rubber quoits? How would I know? I never got to dive for anything. I was still shivering in the shallow end after two years of futile lessons.

In my early twenties, one of my colleagues at Norfolk County Council taught me how to swim breaststroke and actually get my face in the water, during lunch hour jaunts from the Planning Department. Those were the days when long lunch breaks weren’t frowned upon. Friday lunchtimes would usually involve a stroll up to the on-site social club for a convivial drink. Times have changed. By the time I left local government a couple of years ago, most people just worked through lunch, nibbling their sandwiches at their desks, or taking a quick thirty minutes to catch up with errands. ‘Lunch is for wimps.’ Not in Norfolk, in the 1990s.

Through all this, front crawl eluded me, but when my son was little, fifteen years ago or so, I finally took swimming lessons. Turns out it’s all about the breathing. And it’s about trusting the water, lying flat, and learning to turn your head, find a rhythm and relax. 

These days I rarely refuse the chance for a dip in the sea, I swim in the local pool, and am looking forward to discovering more of the local wild swimming haunts. I’m not frightened of water, but researching for The Drowning and Water Born I did discover how easy it is to drown and to miss the signs of drowning in those around you. Water should be respected. You disrespect it at your peril. And, looking back, I do wonder whether my first adventure, make that misadventure, with water – that backflip into the paddling pool – lies at the heart of these books.