Thursday, 30 January 2014

RHCP Bloggers' Brunch Jan 2014

One of my favourite events in the blogging calendar has always been the January Random Hose Bloggers' Brunch, so I was super excited for this year's event!

The theme was movies, so we were greeted with popcorn and pick 'n' mix in gorgeous mini popcorn boxes, which was such a lovely touch! We were given a presentation on the books Random House are releasing in the first half of 2014 and, trust me, we're all in for a huge treat. There are too many to cover in a single post,so I wanted to run you guys through a few of my top picks:

Bird - Crystal Chan

Billed as one for fans of Wonder and John Boyne, Bird is a debut novel that I'm seriously excited for. I'm only a few chapters through at the moment but it's seriously gorgeous and the synopsis reminded me a little of a YA version of Toni Morrison's Beloved. Well, certain elements of it, at least!

The Forbidden Library - Django Wexler

Seriously, is Django Wexler not the most insanely smooth name you've ever heard? And it's not a pen name. It's just a legitimately awesome name.

Anyway, I digress.

You know I'm not the hugest fan of fantasy but when I hear comparisons to Narnia and the Never-Ending Story I'm pretty much good to go.

Heart Break Girl - Malorie Blackman

I was a huge fan of Boys Don't Cry so I can't wait to read this one, which is the companion novel, told from Mel's point of view.

Web of Darkness - Bali Rai

(No cover reveal yet - but we got to see it at the event and it's spooky!)

A dark YA novel about online stalking? YES PLEASE. Bali Rai is always a reliable author so I'm sure this will be a good'un.

There are some other brilliant ones coming up (look out for The Tin Snail, The Fearless and Echo Boy) but these are the four I'm most excited about!

We got the chance to hear from Matt Haig and listen to him read from his upcoming YA novel, Echo Boy, which was a great experience. Huge thanks to Matt, who was very patient and signed all of our books for us.

I had a brilliant day getting to see some of my favourite bloggers and catch up with all of the lovely Random House ladies so a huge thanks to RHCP for putting on another brilliant event and sending us away with bulging goody bags, full of some excellent-sounding books!

Friday, 24 January 2014

£10 Amazon Voucher Winner!

For the past week I've been running a giveaway for a £10 Amazon voucher, to celebrate Writing from the Tub being around for four whole years!
Massive thanks to everybody who entered but, of course, there can only be one winner and that is...
Once again, thank you so much to everybody who's supported me and this blog over the last few years, it means more than I can ever say.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Days of Blood and Starlight - Laini Taylor

Published: November 8th 2012, Hodder
Pages: 513 pages, hardback
Series/standalone: Book two in the trilogy
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

Story: Days of Blood and Starlight picks up shortly after the stunning climax of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. After the destruction at the end of the first book, we see Karou trying to pick up the pieces of her former life and balance the rage and grief that are both fighting for power inside her.

Taylor gives us an action-packed story that absolutely smashes the 'second novel in a series' myth. This is even more exciting than book one and is a fantastic book in its own right - this is as far away from a filler novel as it's possible to get.
Writing: Oh good lord, the writing. Laini Taylor really is one of a kind, isn't she? I don't know any other YA writer who writes so damn beautifully. Every line reads like poetry; this is really, really special writing. I think she's somehow managed to make Days of Blood and Starlight even more lyrical than Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is a pretty giant feat!
Characters: Karou continues to be the perfect heroine. Gutsy, sensitive, brave, funny - she's got it all. Taylor creates something truly heart-breaking when we see the emotional pain she goes through when mourning the loss of loved ones mixed with the physical pain her newfound 'job' gives her. Seeing a character go to the limits of what they're capable of is quite a difficult thing to read and we see Karou really go through the wringer in Days of Blood and Starlight. There's a scene near the end that really made me wince and Taylor's writing just makes things like this even more powerful - anyone who's read this one should know exactly which scene I'm talking about! Jeez. Brutal but brilliantly executed.

Zuzana and Mik are back and lovely as ever. The perfect supportive friends, these guys would go to the ends of the earth (and beyond) to help Karou. Zuzana is laugh out loud funny and it's these comical moments that help lift the novel and stop it becoming too bleak to enjoy.

As much as I loved some of the characters... I really hated others. In a good way, though. Taylor creates some truly awful villains and I'm not going to talk too much about them as I don't want to get into spoiler territory but man I can't remember the last time I've hated a character so much as a certain someone in Days of Blood and Starlight!

Final thoughts: A breathtaking second installment of a truly special series. Now, what can I do to pass the time while I'm waiting for Dreams of Gods and Monsters to be released?!

Monday, 20 January 2014

The 'One Day' Book Tag

A few posts ago I said I wanted to start doing more tags. Well, I decided to make my own!
This tag focuses on books you're going to read when you finally have time, series that have been stuck on your shelf forever and authors that you've been dying to try out for years.
This tag is dedicated to all of the books you're going to read 'one day'.

1. Which book has been on your TBR for the longest?

The Hate List - Jennifer Brown. Four years and counting!
2. Name an author you've been wanting to read for ages now?

John Green! Can you believe all I've read so far is a short story?
3. Tell me a series you're determined to finish but need to play catch up with?

The Drake Chronicles - Alyxandra Harvey. I'm on book...five, I think.
4. Let's go one better - tell me a full series you want to read but haven't started yet?

Even though I'm not a huge vampire fan I want to try the Vampire Academy books soon as I haven't read a single bad review of them.
5. What are five books published over a year ago that you want to read this year?

Jessie Hearts NYC - Keris Stainton
This is Not a Test - Courtney Summers
Shut Out - Kody Keplinger
Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
Reunited - Hilary Graham
6. Which book have you been wanting to reread but haven't got the chance?

The Knife of Never Letting Go - really I want to reread the whole series!
7. To finish, give me one book to film adaptation you missed in the cinema but want to catch on DVD?

Catching Fire, definitely. Sooo annoyed I missed this one in the cinema.
I tag allllll of you to complete this one and I'm going to use my answers to form part of my TBR for this year. 2014 is going to be the year of tidying up my shelves and finally getting to those 'one day' books!

If you want to take part in this tag I've made a little button above that you can use and if you could possibly link it back to this post ( I'd be super grateful!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Blog Tour: Find Me - Romily Bernard

Hello hello my dears - it's Friday, we made it! Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Romily Bernard's debut novel, Find Me, which was released by Simon & Schuster yesterday. In case you haven't heard about this one yet I'll pop the summary underneath this intro so you can have a read.

Summary (from Goodreads): A girl is dead…
A killer’s closing in…
And two little words are the only clue…
“Find Me”.

These are the words that Wick Tate finds in Tessa Wayne’s diary. And now Tessa has been found … dead. Does someone out there really expect Wick to uncover the truth about her death?

An expert computer hacker, Wick has the skills for the job, but with the threat of her ex-con dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around and new foster parents to keep happy, getting involved with a murder case is the last thing she wants to do. Until her little sister, Lily, is the next target.

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker-girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare. And now she’s going to find this killer, no matter what it takes. Because it just got personal.

So for today's stop on the blog tour I've got two great videos from Romily to share with you. One is a teaser about the book and one is, of course, a blooper reel - because who can film a video without screwing it up a zillion times? I know I can't. So have a watch below to learn more about Find Me and just try get to the end without wanting to order a copy - I bet you can't.

Also, major hair envy - those are some serious Kate Middleton locks!

And now, onto the blooper reel:

I want to say a huge thank you to Romily for taking the time to film these videos for the blog tour - after watching them I'm more excited about the book and I hope you guys are too, what do you think?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Writing from the Tub's Fourth Birthday + Giveaway!

Tomorrow Writing from the Tub will turn four, how crazy is that? I can't believe I've been blogging for this long and I'm really proud of myself that my little corner of the Internet is still up and running after all of this time.

I've gone through countless terrible layouts to finally get to this lovely one and I've grown and changed so much as both a blogger and a person over the last four years. I've honed my reading tastes, joined memes, left memes, experimented with review styles, taken part in countless blog tours and attended a tonne of exciting events. I've made some of my best friends through blogging and I'm so honoured to count fellow bloggers, publicists and writers amongst my friends. There have been people who commented on my first few blog posts who still read my blog and I'm so grateful that there are people who have been there right from the beginning and still enjoy reading my reviews.

It's been a crazy four years; when I started Writing from the Tub I had recently graduated from uni and when I look at how my life has changed since then I can't believe so much has been crammed into four years! The bookish world has changed so much in that time - when I started blogging vampires ruled supreme and we've gone through so many different trends since then. Blogs have changed too - the community has grown, Booktubing is booming and blogs are becoming slick and professional. Blogging is getting more and more recognition and I couldn't be prouder to be part of such a welcoming, warm community. 

I'll never be able to say enough thank yous to everybody who's supported this blog, read my reviews, commented, chatted to me on Twitter and stuck around while I've had numerous dry spells. But to try and show my gratitude I want to do a little giveaway! 

So, to be in with a chance of winning a £10 Amazon gift card (to spend on anything you like but, honestly, it's 
probably going to be books, isn't it?) please fill in the form below. This is going to be international but I can only send gift cards to or

This will run until January 23rd 2014 so good luck and I'll announce the winner here on the 24th!

I've had the best four years being part of the book blogging community - here's to the next four!

Monday, 13 January 2014

How to Love - Katie Cotugno

Published: October 3rd 2013, Quercus

Pages: 400 pages, paperback
Series/standalone: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): This is a love story. But it’s not what you think. This is not a first kiss, or a first date. This is not love at first sight. This is a boy and a girl falling in messy, unpredictable, thrilling love. This is the complicated route to happiness that follows.

This is real. This is life. This is how to love.

My review:

First impressions: A real love story? Yesss please. I did like the thought of reading How to Love and when I first received it I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters as a taster but it was one that stayed on my shelf for a month or so before I picked it up. I think maybe I was a little 'bad boy' love storied out at the end of the last year - but that just goes to show how wrong first impressions can be.

Story: A contemporary love story with a big hook, How to Love touches not only on the tragedy of losing a friend, or of falling into a troubled relationship and subsequent abandonment but the struggle and stigma of teenage pregnancy.

Writing: There's a hell of a lot packed into How to Love and it is quite lengthy for YA but it deals with each of the issues it confronts very well and doesn't get too bogged down in the middle, which is what I was worried about with the length. Luckily, though, Cotugno is a great writer and keeps everything ticking along nicely so I didn't feel bored at any point.

I think the construction of How to Love is part of what makes it such a strong, powerful read. Each chapter alternates between the past and the present, so we learn how Reena and Sawyer's lives are slowly intertwining again at the same time we learn what happened to them in the past. 

Gradually finding out about Reena and Sawyer's past makes for such a tense, exciting reading experience and I went through so many different emotions as I was reading. I was completely involved in the story, willing Reena to make the best choices for herself and Hannah and not just getting suckered back into accepting Sawyer again without thinking about the impact it would have on both of their lives. 

I like that Cotugno chose for the characters to act realistically, even though it can make them seem unpleasant at times. I'd rather see Reena's family seeming unsupportive but realistic, rather than accepting every decision she made without batting an eyelid, so I'm glad she decided to portray the characters, especially Reena's father, as true to life depictions.

Characters: Cotugno has created such a great voice for Reena and I really felt present the entire time, my attention didn't wander and I found myself rooting for her from page one. She lost her best friend, the love of her life and everything she thought she'd have in the future. She gave everything up to raise her daughter and make her number one priority and it's impossible not to warm to a character who is so selfless.

I'm really impressed with the way Sawyer was presented. So many novels would have gone down the standard 'bad boy' route but we see that there's so much more to Sawyer, he's a whole rounded person and not just a stereotype. My opinion of him at the beginning of the book was very different to how I felt by the end of the book and it's Cotugno's fantastic character development that managed to make me completely change my mind about him.

Final thoughts: A beautiful, frank love story, Cotugno teaches us about loss, first love and responsibility.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Book Blogger Memory Challenge

So I wanted to start doing a few tags here at Writing from the Tub in 2014. I've seen a few floating around and then seem a lot of fun so when I stumbled across the Book Blogger Memory Challenge created by Laura's Book Reviews I thought I'd give it a go.

1. Name a book written by an author called Michael

Gone by Michael Grant

2. Name a book with a dragon on the cover

Eek... A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin? Dragons are not my forte. 

Is that a sword or a dragon? Technically a dragon...right?!

3. Name a book about a character called George

George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. Love that book!

4. Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

5. Name a book set in Australia

Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell, which is a great book if you haven't read it

6. Name a book with the name of a month in the title

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway. Do I get three points for that? :)

7. Name a book with a knife on the cover

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Is anyone ever going to say anything else?!

8. Name a book with the word 'one' in the title

One Day by David Nicholls. I still need to read this one

9. Name a book with an eponymous title

Artemis Fowl - Eoin Colfer

10. Name a book turned into a movie

Ooh, a few I could pick here but I'll go with my favourite - The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

So, have you guys read any of the books I mentioned? Which is your favourite? There's a couple I named that I still need to read, especially One Day.

And if this is something you fancy doing yourself... I tag all of you!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Dark Inside - Rupert Wallis

Published: January 30th 2014, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 368 pages, hardback
Series/standalone: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): When thirteen-year-old James discovers a homeless man in an abandoned house, the course of his life changes dramatically. Hoping to find a 'cure' for a dark curse inflicted on the homeless man, the pair embark on a journey together not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined...A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope, perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.

My review:

First impressions: There's something about this one that's so intriguing and I can't quite put my finger on it. Debuts are always interesting; I think the potential to discover a new favourite author always pulls me towards debut writers. Maybe it was that, or maybe it was nostalgic feel the summary gave me. Either way, despite a huge TBR pile I picked this up and devoured it as soon as my copy arrived.

Story: James is struggling with the loss of his mother and lives a miserable existence with his stepfather, who has been left to care for him after his mother passed away. We quickly learn that James's home life is disruptive and abusive and leaves him at the mercy of his stepfather's internal rage every time he drinks. Which is often. To cope, James hides out in an abandoned house and draws on the walls as a way of passing the time. But one day he realises he isn't alone, he's sharing his fortress of solitude with a mysterious, injured man. And it's after meeting Webster that James life changes forever.

We see the pair go on an adventure that takes them across country, to gypsy camps and the moors, meeting a whole host of characters along the way. This isn't a light-hearted adventure novel, though, the tone is set from the outset and it's this bleak, wistful feeling that encircles the story that makes it so powerful. There's this aching for James to come to terms with the loss of his mother, and for Webster to accept his past and the darkness that dwells within him.

This novel isn't just about the darkness within Webster, though, it's about the darkness inside all of the characters. And by reaching out from the pages, grabbing the reader and refusing to let go, it's about the darkness inside all of us as well.

Writing: There's a lot to The Dark Inside. Layers upon layers of meaning and I think every reader will take something different away from it. There are supernatural elements...or are there? Wallis is very clever when it comes to this, as he writes in such a way that the reader can decide for themselves whether there really is anything paranormal afoot or if there's an explanation for all the strange goings on that happen. I love a novel where I'm given free rein to make my own mind up about things and it's one of the many reasons why I love this book so much.

The writing has such a gorgeous, dreamy feel to it, as if I'm watching the story unfold through a hazy lens. This reminds me of the books I read as a teenager and fell in love with, it just feels timeless.

Characters: James is such a sweet boy, so full of hope, despite everything he's gone through. He has the belief that things can get better, that he can overcome the pain in his heart and it's a reminder I think we all need sometimes - that time is a great healer and, although loved one are never forgotten, it is possible to go on and live a full life after they've gone. He's plucky too and has a dark sense of humour, making it easy to enjoy this book as an adult reader, despite the age of the protagonist.

My heart absolutely broke for Webster, pretty much from the moment he was introduced. Such a deeply troubled man, he's impossible to work out and I still haven't quite made my mind up about what I think the truth of his story is. The fact I'm still making up my mind and I read this book a month ago should tell you exactly how strongly I feel about it. 

Final thoughts: The Dark Inside isn't a book you can just read once and put back on your shelf to gather dust. It's a book that you can't stop thinking about, that you have to tell people about and, for me, that's the mark of a truly powerful novel. A staggering debut by a writer I think we'll all be watching out for in the future.

Monday, 6 January 2014

The Trap - Andrew Fukuda

Published: October 24th 2013, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 320 pages, paperback
Series/standalone: This is the third and final instalment in the series
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): After barely escaping the Mission alive, Gene and Sissy face an impossible task: staying alive long enough to stop an entire world bent on their destruction. Bound on a train heading into the unknown with the surviving Mission girls, Gene, Sissy, David, and Epap must stick together and use everything they have to protect each other and their only hope: the cure that will turn the blood-thirsty creatures around them into humans again. Now that they know how to reverse the virus, Gene and Sissy have one final chance to save those they love and create a better life for themselves. But as they struggle to get there, Gene's mission sets him on a crash course with Ashley June, his first love . . . and his deadliest enemy.

My review:

First impressions: I was obviously excited about this one - come on, you know how much I've banged on about the first two books in the series and after the revelations at the end of The Prey I was gagging to read the final installment!

Story: Picking up where The Prey left off, The Trap continues with Gene and Sissy's story as they try to keep themselves and the rest of their group alive against the terrifying vampires. After a brief catch up session we're plunged straight back into the action and the pace doesn't let up for a second, just builds and builds towards an earth-shattering climax that I did NOT see coming.

Writing: Reading one of Andrew Fukuda's books is an exhilirating experience, and an all-encompassing one. I read The Trap in two sittings and, for the second half of the book, was so involved in the story that nothing else existed while I was reading. I was curled up on my bed reading a book, I was racing against time with Gene and Sissy, fighting for survival. And that's all we really want from a book, isn't it? To feel like we're part of the world with the characters. I can't think of many other writers out there who do this as well as Fukuda does. The man is a genius when it comes to action.

The intelligence of Fukuda's writing is apparent throughout the series but the end of The Trap really shows this off. I'm obviously not going to give spoilers but this is one of those wonderful final novels in a series that makes you go back and re-examine the other books that came before it. When I looked back at The Hunt and The Prey I couldn't believe how many little references and hints that had gone over my head but now make total sense.

Characters: Something I've always liked about this series is that the cast is relatively small. With three books coming out over the space of three years it would be easy to forget who everybody is but I haven't had that problem with Fukuda's books, partly because he doesn't introduce too many characters and partly because the characters he does introduce are so memorable. Gene and Sissy are both excellent - determined and smart but flawed in a way that makes them human. It was great to see Ashley June back and I'm a big fan of her character, whether she's a villain or not, I have major hair envy.

Final thoughts: I always know a book has really got into my head when I make my boyfriend listen to me explaining the plot of the entire series and this time he commented that this must be something special if I was still thinking about it so long after reading (FYI, I was still talking about it while we were driving to Tesco to buy our last minute Christmas food the day before Christmas Eve - not that you needed to know that, but still). A triumphant way to end one of my favourite ever series.

Friday, 3 January 2014

She is Not Invisible - Marcus Sedgwick

Published: October 3rd 2013, Orion
Pages: 354 pages, hardback (note: Ha! Anyone who's read the book already might notice something interesting here... Well played, Mr Sedgwick, well played)
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown. He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong.

On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.

My review:

First impressions: This one grabbed my interest straight away purely because of the author. I'm a big Marcus Sedgwick fan so I'm always keen to try his latest release. Once I got over this excitement and read the summary I was even more sold. Throw in the gorgeous cover and this was one of the my most anticipated reads of last year.

Story: The story is a complete winner, isn't it? As always, Sedgwick manages to take a slightly stale concept (YA thriller about a teenager trying to solve the mystery of a loved one's disappearance) and make it overwhelmingly exciting again. The second I read the summary I knew this was going to be something special and truly unique. I haven't read a single YA novel that features a blind protagonist and it puts such an interesting spin on the story - but more on that when I talk about the writing in She is Not Invisible.

Writing: Sedgwick is one of those writers (Laini Taylor is another) where you can take a snapshot of any random page in one of his books and the words will be beautiful. He has such an easy, relaxed turn of phrase, which makes reading his work thoroughly enjoyable and the narrative in She is Not Invisible is gorgeous. The language used is deceptively simple and I've always admired Sedgwick for his ability to tell a meaningful story without needing to lean on overly complex language to try and seem more sophisticated. He is just a classy writer, he doesn't need to patronise his reader to try and prove it.

It was so interesting to read a story from the point of view of a blind protagonist and Sedgwick absolutely does this justice - it's subtly done so doesn't feel like it's been shoe horned in to become an 'issues' novel - our protagonist is blind and that's that, which was definitely refreshing. Reading a whole novel without a visual description of anything, particularly as the setting is New York, really changed the way I look at novels - focusing on the sounds and smells and other senses made for a whole new reading experience and it's an area where I think Sedgwick excelled.

Characters: The characters in She is Not Invisible are just great - my personal favourite being Mr Walker, who really shocked me. When we were first introduced to him I pictured a mean gangster type and what we actually get is something very different indeed! 

Our heroine, Laureth, is everything a protagonist should be - likeable, charismatic and engaging. She might make some mistakes along the way ('abducting' her younger brother is definitely questionable) but everything she does is with the best of intentions and her good heart really shines through. 

Benjamin (Laureth's younger brother) is very sweet and is often the voice of reason throughout the book - he manages to be innocent and wise beyond his years at the same time. His stuffed toy, a raven called Stan, is a lovely touch and helps breathe life into his character. 

Sedgwick does a great thing, which is manage to have two physically absent parents without them being emotionally absent. While the mother and father characters are barely in the novel they still manage to be present within the story and I liked getting to know their characters, despite them having little page time. Family is something Sedgwick does really well here, as we see the different relationships between the characters change and grow as the story progresses, in both positive and negative ways and it's a really balanced view of family life, rather than overly positive or negative, which is what seems to be a new YA cliche (either extremely overbearing parents or those that are never there).

Final thoughts: An exciting, wonderfully told story, She is Not Invisible is Sedgwick at his best. This is a book that will leave you musing your own belief in coincidence and fate long after you've finished reading. And the final paragraph? Fantastic.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year, New Look!

So, as you may have noticed, I've had a little redesign!

My lovely boyfriend has been working on a website for me for a couple of months now and I'm so excited to show it to you all. January 1st was always the day I wanted it to go live; new year, new look and all that, so I'm really pleased it's all up and running.

As my online presence has been a little scattered lately I thought one central hub to host all of my projects would be a great idea and I'm so happy with the results. For a little preview take a look at the picture below but give it a click if you want to see the whole thing - it has links to my blogs, as well as a section for my novels and writing services. It's pretty swish!

I want to take this opportunity to say a huge, massive thank you to my boyfriend, who has worked so hard on this and created something absolutely perfect. It's exactly what I pictured in my head and I can't wait to start using it!