Sunday 30 April 2017

What I Did In The Readathon...

Time for a change this year! Rather than constantly updating on here I thought I'd post photos on Instagram throughout the #readathon and do a round-up post here. Imagine my delight when I discovered there was going to be an Instagram #readathon too!

So that was my #readathon all perfectly set up for me in advance... Let's see what actually happened!

Hour 1 - Hour 5

Reading, lots of reading and all the IG prompts. Gail Carriger liked my picture of Soulless and left a comment (about forgetting the #readathon was on, but still, squee!!!) and I was pretty pleased with my progress.

Hours 6 & 7

Stopped for dinner, both the making and the eating of, so no reading.

Hour 8 - Hour 10

More reading but no prompts as surprise! The internet connection was down. This happens every time I do the Dewey #readathon and I'm starting to think I'm jinxed.

Hour 11 - Hour 21

This mainly consisted of reading for a bit, dozing off and waking to look at the time. Repeat a dozen times and that's how I spent those hours.

Hour 22 - Hour 24

Consisted of reading and breakfast and more reading.

And now it's all over until October when I hope I can join in the whole day again!

Closing Survey

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? All of them...
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next time? Anything shortish and/or graphic novels
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? Nope, loved it as usual!
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? The Instagram challenge, please keep this!!!
5. How many books did you read? 6
6. What were the names of the books you read? Swashbuckle Lil & the Jewel Thief, The Secret Of Nightingale Wood, Soulless, The Watcher, Thursdays with the Crown, Fridays with the Wizard. I also read a couple of short stories from Fearsome Magics
7. Which book did you enjoy most? The Secret of Nightingale Wood
8. Which did you enjoy least? The Watcher
9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Sign me up please! And always as a reader, although I'd be quite happy to do something on Instagram...

Wednesday 26 April 2017

GuestPost: If I Were A Fictional Character - Andy Briggs

I'm very excited to welcome Andy Briggs back to the Outsider today as part of the blog tour for the third instalment in the Inventory series, Black Knight. Rather aptly for a third book this is Andy's third guest post on the blog. His first was on fictional inspirations, his second was on how to write a sci-fi world, and today he's talking about his favorite fictional characters. I have to say, I agree with his final choice... A huge thanks to both Andy and Scholastic for getting to read the next heart-stopping adventure of Dev and his gang!

If I were a fictional character I would be…

If I could body-swap with any fictional character, who would it be?

Well, I think we should be treating this experiment as if we’re buying a new car. Let’s explore the car dealership, a second-hand dealership, of course. I intend to take them for a test drive.

Luke Skywalker – the young Jedi from the original series (not the old duffer in the new ones!). This should be a good test drive, after all he gets to blow up a Death Star, Imperial Walkers and run around a swamp. But ultimately, Skywalker has some serious family issues and – face it – he’s not as cool as his dad. Plus, all that moping around on a desert farm… I think it’s time to switch bodies…

After having a few minutes awesome fun being Darth Vader, I quickly flitted onward as I thought he maybe wasn’t setting quite the right tone for a distinguished blog such as this…

After a hop-skip-and-a-jump I’m experiencing Harry Potter. He’s not quite as glamorous as you may think. There’s a terrible smell of sweaty shoes in the cupboard and Hogwarts catering is failing several basic health and safety standards. I guess JK was forced to edit those details out. Onwards.

I took a wrong turn in the quantum time tunnel and, after a little excitement as Young Bond, decided Old Bond was definitely having all the fun. After all that fooling around in speedboats and supercars, it was time for another skin ‘n’ bones excursion…

This time I thought I’d take a spin through the trees as Tarzan. Yup, it’s a lot of fun, although the smell of gorilla poop is all invasive and those splinters in the feet are a nightmare. I considered dropping in on Dev, my main character in the Inventory… but I thought perhaps not. After all, I know what an uncomfortable ride he’s in for. At the end of the day my final full-body test drive was an easy decision to make and one, I think, we can agree on --

Spiderman. I would be Spiderman and, let’s face it, who wouldn’t?

About The Author

Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the, and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school, and library events.
Website | Twitter

Follow The Tour

The Inventory: Black Knight - Andy Briggs

Dev and his friends are back with more mind-bending tech in this third installment of the Inventory series. 

The World Consortium is recruiting more agents to defend the most advanced technology the world isn't ready for, and it's up to Dev, Lottie, and Mase to train them up for action. But will they be ready before Shadow Helix's next strike? And has Dev uncovered all the secrets of his past, or is there more to know about his special abilities?

We're back in the World Consortium with Dev, Lottie, Mason, along with some new arrivals to face the next battle with Shadow Helix. Say what you like about reading YA or middle-grade fiction, the Inventory series have been better than a lot of the adult 'tech' thrillers I've read over the years - and not because it's in a more simple form. 

Each installment has improved on the last so reading Black Knight was a huge treat but I was concerned about the addition of extra characters to the gang. I worried needlessly because Wan Soo, Riya, and Aaron were great and added an extra layer to the dynamics between Lot, Dev, and Mason. Dev and his friends are in charge of training the new recruits and this does not always go as smoothly as Uncle Charles (Parker, head of the World Consortium) would like. There's more than a little friction, especially when Mason starts mooning over the new girl and one of the new boys doesn't seem to have a good word to say about anything, except for dropping veiled hints about the fact there may be a mole in their midst...

Not only do they have to contend with Shadow Helix it appears there may be a new player in town, called the Company Of Merchant Adventurers who appear at every location the children go to on their mission to retrieve more of the technology stolen from the warehouse. There's also a mystery man who claims to have amnesia, a mysterious entity known as Black Knight and a flashback to the 1800's which I loved!

Black Knight has all the great elements from the first two books and then more heaped on top. I think the relationship between Dev, Mason, and Lot is exactly as it should be and their bond is even stronger despite Mason going gaga over Riya. The action is non-stop from the first page to the last page, the tech in this one was amazing and personally, I'd like to get my hands on some of it! There's also a space battle which I shan't say anything about so as not to spoil too much of the plot but this was by far the best trip into space I've read about, especially as we're reminded of Dev's fear of heights...

The book ends on a cliffhanger but for once I'm happy about this as it confirms (hopefully) that the gang will be back for more adventures and I would love to get to know more about the Company of Merchant Adventurers. In the meantime, all three books are going on the keeper shelf for the twins to read, even though it might be a couple of years before they're ready for them!

The Inventory: Black Knight - Andy Briggs
ISBN - 9781407162065
Publisher - Scholastic UK
Release date - April 6th, 2017

Thanks again to both Andy and Scholastic for the chance to read Black Knight and don't forget to check out my review of book one, Iron Fist, here.

Can't Wait Wednesday #184 - Girls Made Of Glass & Snow

Can't Wait Wednesday is a new weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally, they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
This week's choice is -

Girls Made Of Glass and Snow - Melissa Bashardoust 
ISBN - 9781250077738
Publisher - Flatiron Books
Release date - September 5th, 2017

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone - has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do - and who to be - to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything - unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

I was sold on this book as soon as I saw 'feminist fantasy reimagining of Snow White' but what makes me less enthusiastic is the reference to The Bloody Chamber. Being a huge fan of Angela Carter and her work makes me nervous to read Girls Of Glass And Snow, as well as excited. Here's hoping it lands on the good side of the comparison! 

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #183 - A Skinful Of Shadows

Can't Wait Wednesday is a new weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally, they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's choice is -

A Skinful Of Shadows - Frances Hardinge
ISBN - 9781509837540 (UK) or 9781419725722 (US)
Publisher - PanMacmillan (UK) Amulet (US)
Release date - 21st September (UK) 10th October (US)

A Skinful of Shadows is a dark YA historical fantasy set in the early part of the English Civil War. 

Kate is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, and as such, she shares their unique hereditary gift: the capacity to be possessed by ghosts. Reluctant to accept her appointed destiny as vessel for a coterie of her ancestors, she escapes. As she flees the pursuing Fellmottes across war-torn England, she accumulates a motley crew of her own allies, including outcasts, misfits, criminals, and one extremely angry dead bear.

Excuse the CAPSLOCK and over-abundance of exclamation marks but OMG!!! A NEW FRANCES HARDINGE!!! HURRAH!!! This is the best news I've had so far this year and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy!

Thursday 13 April 2017

April New Release Giveaway!

Welcome to the April 2017 New Release Giveaway Hop, hosted by It Starts At Midnight! The hop runs from today through to midnight on April 30th, 2017. Up for grabs is any new release this month up to the value of $22 from the Book Depository as long as they deliver to your country - find the list of countries here

All you have to do is choose any new release published in April and fill out the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the linky for lots of other chances to win, thanks for entering and good luck!

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #182 - Black Bird of the Gallows

Can't Wait Wednesday is a new weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally, they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
This week's choice is -

Black Bird Of The Gallows - Meg Kassel
ISBN - 9781633758148
Publisher - Entangled Publishing
Release date - September 5th, 2017

Her love breaks his curse. But his love spells her death.

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell the mysterious new boy next door is more than he appears, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. But when a grotesque, otherworldly man tries to attack her and Reece comes to her rescue, everything changes.

Any minute, chaos could rain down on her town, on her family, on everyone she cares about. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

The blurb on the front cover says 'dark, twisty thrill ride' and I'm hoping it is. Mysterious boy next door books aren't usually my cup of tea but there's something about this one that appeals to me, and not just the cover!

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Dream Magic - Joshua Khan

In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery . . . Lilith Shadow, princess of darkness, is struggling with her growing powers. Castle Gloom is filling with ghosts, zombies roam the country and people throughout Gehenna are disappearing. Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Weaver and his army of jewel-spiders whose bites send victims to sleep. Thorn and his giant bat Hades must save Lily from the realm of sleep and help her overcome the evil Weaver in order for her to reclaim her kingdom.

Ah Gehenna, how good it is to be back! After falling in love with all things Gehennish in Shadow Magic I was utterly thrilled to be back in the world of Lily, Thorn, Tyburn and Hades, and what a ride it turned out to be! 

Having saved the Kingdom Thorn thinks it's time for a rest but unfortunately things don't quite work out that way. The troll clans are massing and threatening war, there's a much-unwanted guest in the form of Gabriel Solar, and villagers are going missing in large numbers. Turns out that there's much more work for Lily, Thorn, squire and friend Wade, new troll maid Dott and the castle's very own zombie army.

If you like magic, giant friendly bats, princesses who are just a teeny bit Goth, squires who don't know their place but will do anything to save the girl, troll girls who think Gabriel Solar is 'bootiful' then Dream Magic is definitely for you. Thanks to unforeseen events the secret is out that Lily can do magic, forbidden thanks to an ancient curse it might be the only thing that saves Gehenna.

Tyburn is missing, there's an evil wizard intent on destroying both Lily and Castle Gloom, but worst of all? There are spiders... Beautiful crystalline spiders but all the same, spiders! They're incredibly venomous and one bite sends you into the Dreamtime where Weaver, the evil wizard, is using the power the dreams create to take revenge on Lily and her family.

Dream Magic is better than Shadow Magic, I didn't think that was possible but it is. I adored everything about it, the way that Lily steps forward with her magic knowing that she may be executed just for knowing never mind doing, the interaction with Lily's family from her father in the Library, the only place he appears to be able to manifest, to her mother and brother in the Dreamtime, beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Thorn is just as grumpy as ever but his feelings for Lily are so sweet and sometimes it's hard to remember he's still only a twelve-year-old boy. His relationship with Hades is wonderful to see, you'd never think a giant bat would be the perfect companion for a boy but he most definitely is.

Both Shadow Magic and Dream Magic go beyond the standard middle-grade novel, the friendship between Lily and Thorn, the world-building and the page-turning writing will hook any reader who loves fantasy. I know I picked up Dream Magic at 11pm intending to read a couple of chapters and didn't pit the book down until I had finished, 4 hours later... Joshua Khan has an amazing way with words, and the world he has created leaps off the page thanks to this.

Now starts the long wait for Burning Magic, where a certain young K'leef hopefully makes a welcome return and Lily and Thorn (and Hades, naturally) must team up yet again for another epic adventure!

About The Author

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.

                           *Tintagel, in case you were wondering.

Dream Magic (Shadow Magic #2) - Joshua Khan
ISBN - 9781407172095 (UK Edition)
Publisher - Scholastic UK
Release date - April 6th, 2017

Tour Schedule

Monday 3rd April

Tuesday 4th April

Wednesday 5th April

Thursday 6th April

Friday 7th April

Saturday 8th April

Sunday 9th April

Monday 3 April 2017

#ShelfLove 2017 - April Check-In

Welcome to April! One quarter of the year has already gone and I think I'm slightly behind on my #ShelfLove targets but I am slightly ahead on my Goodreads challenge! I've also just donated 140 books to the library so I could have a splurge on books, so far though I've managed to restrain myself...

My total #ShelfLove so far is 37, times that by 4 is 148 so to meet my target of 180 I'm going to have to increase the number of books I read (and own) by 4 a month... Yikes! Interestingly, I have noticed that my Kindle reading has gone right down to the bare minimum! More on that next month.

  • Read at least 15 of my own books a month - they have to have been on my shelves up to and including December 2016
  • For every 15 books read I'm allowed to buy 3 brand new books
  • For every 20 books donated to either charity or the library, I can buy 2 new books

Read - 27

Own - 17
Kindle - 2
Library - 8
TBR Challenge - 14
Review -3
 #ShelfLove Target - 37/180

Wishlist - 2636
TBR (Still not accurate) - 1535

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