Friday 20 December 2013

2013: What an amazing year it's been!

Wow, what an amazing year it has been, I can't believe it's almost over, but also super exciting for Christmas, New Year and what's to come!

Lots of blogs and sites are doing a round up of the best books of 2013 (which I love to browse through) but I think this video from the New York Times is great - they've made a mini animation of their top 10 covers for 2013:

Also this competition by We Love This Book called Got it Covered is great too - they have taken 100 snippets of book covers published in 2013 and if you guess them all you could win £100 National Book Tokens.

It's trickier than you might think - it ranges from adult fiction, children's, non fiction, cookbooks etc. I'm on 
71/100 so far but it's taken a while!

What are your favourite books of 2013? 
My instant reaction is to say mine is John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (I'm on my third reading of it, it amazes me each time!) but going through my Goodreads 'Your Year in books' I realise that there have been so many amazing books I've been blown away by this year: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Kite Runner, The Book Thief, Life After Life and the Pushing the Limits series. But I could keep going on...
(I couldn't fit them all on one screenshot, so here's a small snippet!)

I've read some amazing books this year, new and old ones and I'm pleased to have hit my GR challenge target of 75 books (with still 10 days of December reading to go!)

I also want to say that I've had an absolutely amazing year blogging on the Mira Ink blog and thankyou all for reading, sharing and interacting! I've had the honour of writing about all the upcoming releases, including cover reveals, trailers, blog tours and giveaways as well as starting up discussions on book-themed topics at the time.
It's been such a great year and I've loved every minute of it and I can't wait to see what Mira Ink has in store for next year, so keep your eyes peeled!!

Have a great new year!

Friday 13 December 2013

Literary Christmas Gifts

Christmas is 12 days away!! Are you more excited or scared?? Have you done all your Christmas shopping yet? I've done nearly all of mine now and it's safe to say that a lot of people are getting books (whether they like it or not!) but one of the things I love about Christmas time is all the amazing book-themed gifts you finally have an excuse to browse through and maybe even buy!

I've picked out some of my favourite literary christmas gifts:

- Anything from the Folio Society, their books are so beautiful!

Go Away I'm Reading mugs - who doesn't need these mugs when they're having some time with a cup of tea and a book!?

Classic book ereader cases - the best way to make an e-reader feel like you're still reading a physical book!

- Anything from Out of Print Clothing - I totally think book t-shirts are amazing, they're quite subtle but they are still really cool. The trouble I'm having is there are just too many to choose between!

- A complete novel on a poster - I got the Great Gatsby version of this for my birthday and it's one of the best presents I've had, it's huge though! But it's definitely something different! They do practically every classic possible plus some fun ones too like Harry Potter

- Who doesn't love Penguin classics merchandise? There's something about having one of these bad boys in your kitchen cupboard that shows you're a massive book fan. I have The Great Gatsby one at home (I couldn't resist) and now having to force myself not to buy more of them, but they're still great and colourful!

What are your ultimate literary christmas gifts? Or would you rather just still to traditional books to read instead? (or both!?) 
Only 12 days left and counting!!

Friday 6 December 2013

Taste of Darkness Book Trailer

As a Friday special I've been given the honour of releasing the book trailer for Maria V. Snyder's new book Taste of Darkness! I'm so excited, Taste of Darkness is the third book in the 'Avry of Kazan' (Healer) series and one of my favourite Mira Ink series so far.

And here's the trailer...

What do you think of the trailer? Isn't it great?

The series follows Avry of Kazan, the last healer in the Fifteen Realms. So far she has survived plagues, wars and death as well as finding and losing the boy she loves and yet she's still not given up and is back for more! (That was the very summarised version, read the Goodreads descriptions for the proper action!)
She is a strong, fiesty character with a very hot boyfriend and I think the books do a fantastic job of weaving magic with action. It's the kind of book I wish I had written first!
Plus the covers together look amazing!
Intrigued yet? You can pre-order it here!

Friday 29 November 2013

*COVER REVEAL* Anything to Have You - Paige Harbison

Today I have a very exciting cover reveal for you!
If you didn't know already, the wonderful Paige Harbison has written another book (yay!) called Anything to Have You.


What is it about?

Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other’s backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie - the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens - one crazy night that Natalie can’t remember and Brooke’s boyfriend, Aiden, can’t forget. Suddenly there’s a question mark in Natalie and Brooke’s friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.

This is Paige's third book and if you loved Here Lies Bridget and New Girl, you'll love this one too!

You can pre-order Anything to Have You  here and it is out in the UK on the 7th February 2014.

Can't wait that long?
Enter below for the chance to *WIN* 2 proof copies of Anything to Have You!

(Comp ends Wednesday 4th Dec.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday 22 November 2013

What's coming up!

It's coming to the end of November now (This year has flown by!) and it's nearly Christmas (yay!) so what a great time to give you a sneak peek roundup of what exciting things are coming up in the world of YA...


I don't know about you but I think one of the most anticipated December releases for me has to be Crash Into You. Katie McGarry's third book in the Pushing the Limits books.

For those of you that don't know what it's about, its the tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane.

The girl with straight As, designer clothes, and the perfect life—that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.
Isaiah has secrets too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks—no matter how angelic she might look.
But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

Why should you read it? Well if you've read Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, we've watched Isaiah from afar and now it is finally time to get your hands on him in his story. It is definitely as series worth investing yourself in! Plus if you loved the emotional rollercoaster of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (who doesn't?!) and Jenny Downham's You Against Me then you'll love Crash Into You.

Who's looking forward to Part 2 of The Hobbit? It was such a huge success last Christmas so do you think the second part will be as good? 

Here's what's happening in this film:
After successfully crossing over (and under) the Misty Mountains, Thorin and Company must seek aid from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest--without their Wizard. If they reach the human settlement of Lake-town it will be time for the hobbit Bilbo Baggins to fulfill his contract with the dwarves. The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and burglar Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug. And, where has Gandalf got off to? And what is his secret business to the south? (IMDB)

What're your views on the films? Do you think they are good adaptations of the book, is it doing it justice? 

New year, new lovely long list of books to be released in 2014! What are you most looking forward to?

Pawn is the first book in a new series by Aimee Carter, The Blackcoat Rebellion Series released in January.
I've just started reading it and already at 70 pages in, my mind is blown! This is definitely one for the top of your new year lists.

What's it about?
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered. The same one that got her killed…and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

In my opinion, if you loved The Hunger Games, you'll love this, it's fresh and edgy in a dystopian world with a feisty girl having to make choices between life, death and what she believes in!

At the end of January is another very exciting film adaptation that is coming out... The Book Thief.
For those of you who haven't read/heard of it before, it is about a young girl in Germany during WWII who finds refuge in stealing books (that haven't been burned already) and reading them, as her family live on edge as they smuggle a Jew into their basement.
If you haven't read it, you should! It is a beautiful, but sad book from a different side of WWII that we're used to and captures the attachment that books can have in times of despair.

Check out the trailer:


Alice Through the Zombie Glass, book Two in the White Rabbit Chronicles is out in Feb! It's inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but with zombies! It also has a very hot boyfriend in it!

Zombies stalk the night. Forget blood and brains. These monsters hunger for human souls. Sadly, they’ve got mine…
Alice Bell has lost so much. Family. Friends. A home. She thought she had nothing else to give. She was wrong.
After a new zombie attack, strange things begin to happen to her. Mirrors come to life, and the whispers of the dead assault her ears. But the worst? A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do very wicked things.
She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more, but ultra bad-boy Cole Holland, the leader and her boyfriend, suddenly withdraws from her…from everyone. Now, with her best friend Kat at her side, Ali must kill the zombies, uncover Cole’s secret and learn to fight the darkness.
But the clock is ticking…and if she fails at a single task, they’re all doomed.


The Secret Diamond Sisters - A new author with a new series - if you loved Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars this will be your new addiction! 
Here's what it is about:
Three sisters. Big secrets. Get ready to meet...
The three sisters grew up never knowing their father and never quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-last dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip’s most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past--and holding on to the most important thing of all, sisterhood.

Some secrets grow too big to keep.

Intrigued? Sorry that you have to wait until March!

The Geography of You and Me  is out in April. I'm not sure how well known Jennifer E. Smith is, but I stumbled upon her book The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight last year and thought it was really encapsulating. She has since written a few more books and has a new one coming out next year. Any thoughts?
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, book 2) - There is no official cover, or even a blurb yet but the second book following on from the hugely successful The Fifth Wave is out in May 2014 and deserves a mention. If it's anything like the big campaigns they did for the first book, I'm sure it will be all we hear about it the run up to the release, so keeps your eyes peeled on Penguin!

Friday 15 November 2013

Is any subject taboo in YA literature?

UK vs.US: is any subject taboo in YA literature? 
An Evening with Tanya Byrne, Lauren Kate

This week I was able to go along to the YA event at Waterstones Piccadilly, where they had guest speakers Tanya Byrne (author of Heart-shaped Bruise and Follow Me Down) and Lauren Kate (author of the new book Teardrop) discussing whether they think there are any taboo subjects in YA literature?

Once everyone had settle down, first up was the ultimate question: Is anything off limits in YA fiction?

Both authors immediately said no - nothing should be off limits. Lauren Kate commented why should it? It is all about how your writing is handling the subject. If the content is overly dark or overly sexual etc, then as long as it is natural to the plot and the character earns it then it shouldn't be off limits.
Similarly, Tanya Byrne agreed, commenting that it is not what you say but how you say it. And I completely agree. One of the points that came up was about The Hunger Games if you really stopped and thought indepth about the plot - would anyone want to read it? But how the characters deal with it that makes it important and doing what is best for the character. Tanya mentioned that she never set out to make Follow Me Down into a date-rape plot, but it was something that came along when writing and it followed the story. Sometimes these unintentional plot lines can become the most crucial and relatable parts!
Also, people read what they want to in a book - many can read The Hunger Games and see the violence and propaganda, but others read it and the main thing they see is a love triangle. Each person's perception of a book differs.

These are everyday topics for teens so we shouldn't try and pretend they're not by covering them up. One of the biggest arguments for publishing all types of topics, in my opinion, is that these kind of books can help people to get through what they're going through - it can make them realise what's going on and that it's possible to resolve. Even if it helps just 1 person, it means it's worth it.

Another question asked was Are YA topics getting too dark and more shocking? - Is there a trend in this?
Tanya brought up the good point that YA isn't necessarily getting darker, it is just YA as a genre is growing! YA never really used to be a definitive genre 20+ years ago, there was a fine line between children's books and adult books and many of our best-read classics, the likes of Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice would probably fall under the YA category these days.
With the growth in YA, it gives people more of an opportunity to tell their stories, and so comes a proportion of darker topics - these seem bigger as a whole as they get the most paper coverage.

Is UK YA grittier and ruder than the US equivalent?
Tanya commented that she thinks UK is grittier than US YA, we're more open to receiving stories from the US but so many UK YA isn't reciprocated. In America, things are alot more glossed I think, High school is a bigger deal with cliches and rites of passage whereas in the UK it is alot more down to earth and straight to the point.

Interestingly, as someone mentioned - we're all different, every culture is different in YA literature, it is just there is more recognised English and American.

Another interesting debate that was brought up is the question of whether books out to have ratings/explicit warnings? What do you think of that?
Both authors answered that they didn't think books should have ratings as every reader is different - different ages, different cultures and home towns, everyone is exposed to different things that you can't limit them under one age group umbrella.
In Tanya's opinion, why is it wrong for kids to stumble upon books? If they're not ready for it they're not going to want to finish it/understand it.
Reading is a journey and so they shouldn't be dictated by age. Also, books should affect us - whether in a good way or a bad way, as long as the character gets through the other side in one way or another that's okay. The job of an author isn't about saying what's right or wrong, but offering a way the characters can get through it.

Additionally, another thing that was brought up that I found interesting, was that 'books are the weakest form of media' - you close it and it's gone, it won't come back and get you. And just because you're reading the topics in the book doesn't mean you're going to go out and do them yourselves! If your kid is reading 14 books on self-harm, it's not the books that are a problem, or even necessarily the kid, it just means there needs to be a conversation between the parent and kid as to what is going on, it could just be that they're interested in that kind of subject.

It is an interesting debate, and one that I don't think will ever cease - but what are your opinions? Do you agree with Tanya and Lauren or do you think there are other issues here? Share them below!

(All answers from authors have been paraphrased)

Thursday 7 November 2013

Every Day - David Levithan, Is Gender Important?

I have recently read Every Day by David Levithan, a book that seems to be on everyone's lips this year, and I thought it would make for an interesting discussion.

Have you read it?
If not, it is about 'A' who has no body, no gender and no sexuality - each day A wakes up inhabiting a new body of a 16 year old and has to spend the day impersonating them, trying not to interfere with their lives. A does this every day and has no reason or understanding of how it happens or why. Then one day A wakes up in the body of Justin and everything gets turned upside down when A falls in love with Justin's girlfriend Rhiannon and starts to break the rules one by one.

I was really intrigued when I first heard about it and I really commend David Levithan on it - although it sounds quite simple to explain it must have been so complicated to pan out and make into a coherent plot with a little loopholes as possible. It's an interesting subject as a whole, the idea that this person (well not really a person, entity really) exists without any physical identification or gender.
I don't know about you, but my brain couldn't quite get itself round the fact that A was genderless, it kept trying to attribute it to one or the other. Levithan says himself that the majority of readers instantly fall into the trap of calling A a 'he', which I am guilty of myself*, maybe because Levithan is a male writer, or because the first body in the book is male. Who knows, but I think it is instinctive for our brains to try and assign these unknown qualities that in real life are second nature to one or the other.
Did you automatically imagine A as male or female? Or did you stick with knowing A as genderless?

How important do you think gender is to a story? It's an interesting message that Levithan is trying to put out there with a genderless main character. Should we spend more time focussing on more important things in life and love? Would the story have been different if A was defined to being either male or female? Of which would also then define them by being straight or gay for falling in love with Rhiannon. I think it is so easy to go through a story and so subconsciously notice the gender or the character - especially when told in first person - that you don't really think about it, but with Every Day  Levithan is making you 100% aware of the lack of gender - to the point where it becomes a discussion point between A and Rhiannon. It is quite ironic really, in order to portray the potential message that gender doesn't have to be the focal point of a character, he has to highlight the gender (well, lack of it).

*However, I also want to bring your attention to a little thing I picked up on, which probably aided in my mental assumption that A was a guy, that both UK and US covers have pictures of guys on the front (although the UK cover has a girl on it too, I was under the assumption that that was Rhiannon, rather than a double version of A). It's hard not to be presumptuous, but surely having a picture of a male on the cover of a book about A who is genderless, makes it slightly redundant?

Should characters and plots be defined by their gender and sexuality? Or should they take a leaf out of A's book and be open-ended and unattached to any physicality which could define them, and instead focus on the mind and the powers within?

If you haven't read Every Day yet, I would strongly recommend you read it, even just to see what all the fuss is about!