Category Archives: Book Reviews

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe – Blog Tour

Lucy Sutcliffe Author Photo

If you recognise this woman you probably already have this book on your TBR. I have to admit though that I’d never heard of Lucy Sutcliffe when Faye approached me about being part of the blog tour for Girl Hearts Girl. Clearly I don’t spend enough time on YouTube because, Lucy, and her girlfriend Kaelyn Petras, have over 25 million views on their videos. I was, however,  keen to read the book which is Lucy’s memoir of ‘Finding Herself. Falling in Love.’

Girl Hearts GirlGoodreads Link

Synopsis

An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe’s debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, from Michigan. They began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in 2011. Lucy’s video montage of their first week spent together was the first in a series of vlogs documenting their long-distance relationship. Now, for the first time, Lucy’s writing about the incredible personal journey she’s been on.

What I thought

There has been a huge drive for increasing diversity in YA in the book community online, and writers and publishers are stepping up to the challenge with some great fiction and non-fiction books about mental health and LGBTQIA issues. Lucy’s memoir is a great addition to this market and adds to the #ownvoices movement.

Although the beautifully rainbowed cover markets this as a coming out story Lucy writes about her life more generally too and touches on her experiences with anxiety, transition to university, and generally managing a long distance relationship (Lucy originally lived in the UK and Kaelyn in the US).

Lucy starts the book with sharing her ‘mantra of sorts’ about thinking that the best is yet to come and she goes on to demonstrate a real appreciation of those simple ‘best’ moments that we often ignore. Being with friends, being in nature. There’s a sense of mindfulness and joy in simple pleasures that I found infectious.

Lucy’s coming out story is mainly a positive one and will hopefully provide other teens in similar situations with the courage to be authentic. Throughout her journey Lucy mentions that she knows her friends and family are supportive but she still delays telling them and there is suggestion that it is more about her own comfort and journey in ‘finding herself’ that is the biggest barrier. Doesn’t that ring true with lots of us – that search for and acceptance of identity.

There is a young feel to the writing, and at times perhaps a little over described for me but that didn’t stop me reading this charmingly honest account in only a few hours, and searching out the YouTube videos afterwards. I’ve shared a video below that really shows the importance of having real stories available to young people discovering their sexuality. To hear from Lucy’s friends about their experience, alongside the book, is a great addition.

In another video Lucy describes this as the book she wishes she had had when growing up. I think that whatever your sexuality, or age, this is a great read for anyone, it demonstrates to friends and families the importance of being supportive when someone comes out. The main negative experience Lucy had was so damaging to her health.

I wish Lucy the best of luck with the book and her relationship. The book is out now.

The Tour-wide Giveaway

There is a tour-wide giveaway! 3 copies of Girl Hearts Girl for 3 lucky winners!
Participants must live in UK or IRL.

Rafflecopter Link

The Rest of the Tour

GHG Banner

Links for Lucy and Kaelyn

Website: http://kaeandlucy.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lucyliz

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lucylizz/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/kaelynandlucy

See Lucy’s friends reflection on the night she Came Out

The Witch’s Kiss Blog Tour – Author and Character Interview

The Witch’s Kiss is the first book by writing duo sisters Elizabeth and Katharine Corr. (Freakily or not my middle name is Elizabeth and my sister is Catherine!).

Today we can see how in sync they are by checking out their responses to the same questions.

 

SISTERS IN SYNC?

 

Which one of you became interested in writing first? 

 

Liz: We both loved writing from an early age. Kate used to write poetry (some of it was alright) whilst I used to write for Star Trek fan fiction (way back in the days before fan fiction was actually a thing…)

 

Kate: I probably started writing first because I’m older, but I do remember Liz writing some pretty funny stuff as a teenager. I seemed quite drawn to very angsty poetry.

 

Name your top three witchy influences. 

 

Liz:

  • Terry Pratchet’s Granny Weatherwax: because nothing can ruffle the feathers of this cranky old bird, and she is practically indestructible.
  • Jill Murphy’s Mildred Hubble: because if I were a witch I’d probably be just like her – awkward and accident-prone.
  • J. K. Rowling’s Hermione Granger: because she holds her own with the boys and genuinely kicks ass!

 

Kate:

  • The Wicked Witch of the West. I used to LOVE the film of The Wizard of Oz (and I had the books too). Dorothy should have just given her the ruby slippers in the first place.
  • Jadis, aka The White Witch, from the Narnia books. Yes, she’s a piece of work, but you know – girl power.
  • Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, in all her incarnations. She’s evil and she doesn’t care who knows it.

 

What was your biggest disagreement when writing the book? 

 

Liz: Katharine always wants to kill someone. I generally like our characters and want them to live out their natural lives as best as they can. Kate, on the other hand, often wants to do exceedingly mean, dark things to them. Sometimes she makes me cry with her darkness.

 

Kate: I’m pretty sure I suggested killing off Leo, Merry’s brother, at some point; we ended up having quite a lengthy “discussion” about that. Voices were raised. There may have been some un-sisterly language…

 

Describe your sister in five words 

 

Liz on Kate: Tall, bossy, beautiful, caring, over-achiever.

 

Kate on Liz: Short(er), brave, funny, determined, loyal.

 

What word/s does your sister overuse in their writing? 

 

Liz: ‘S’okay.’ Drives me nuts.

 

Kate: It’s her punctuation. Too many exclamation marks, not enough commas. *Grits teeth. Gets out red pen.*

 

The Witch’s Kiss – Synopsis

Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse. Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?

 

Character questions

 

Merry (Our witchy protagonist)

Where did you see your life going after school? 

 

Until recently, I didn’t see my life going anywhere. There was just a void. Nothing. I’d done some bad stuff, and I couldn’t get past it. But now… things are getting better. I’m becoming more used to my power, starting to get comfortable with it. But as to the future… It’s difficult to say. After everything I’ve been though recently, I’m trying to take it a day at a time. I’m just glad to still be here.

 

What does magic feel like?  Tell us about the good and the bad. 

 

Magic is – or can be – empowering. Liberating. When a spell goes well, I feel pretty unstoppable. And the power – it’s like a kind of…liquid fire, snaking through my veins and lighting me up. But that’s also the problem. It’s addictive. The more you use it, the more you want to use it. And if you’re not really careful, if you don’t have utter certainty about what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it… Things can go bad, really quickly. I’ve found that out the hard way.

 

Leo (Merry’s brother)

Do you wish you were able to do magic? 

 

No, not really. I’ve seen Merry do some pretty amazing stuff. But I’ve also seen her on days when it’s all gone wrong. Days when the magic has been almost been controlling her, not the other way around. Sure, using a spell can sometimes be a quick fix, make life easier. But looking at Merry, and the other witches in my family… it definitely comes at a price. At the end of the day, I’m happy being ordinary. Merry once said I was her glamorous side-kick, but I’d rather think of myself as her solid second-in-command instead. Besides, she’s got zero common sense.

 

Jack (The cursed love interest)

What does love mean to you? 

 

Love? It means everything to me. Love is what Gwydion was trying to destroy. He thought love was a weakness – a lie – but love saved me in the end. When I first found out I was the son of a king, my thoughts were not of the kingdom, or the riches and wealth I was about to inherit. Instead all I could think about was my family – about the mother and father who raised me as their own, whom I was about to leave behind. So, I suppose that, for me, love is about family. But it’s also about kindness, and sacrifice. True love means truly putting another first. Despite the curse, I have been lucky, in a way: I have had people in my life willing to do that for me.

 

Ruby (The neglected best friend)

If you could describe your best friend Merry in 5 words what would they be? 

 

Only 5? Oh, that’s hard. I guess…well, athletic, obviously. Fearless. Over-achieving. Secretive, especially recently. And, you know, just a little bit weird. But in a good way.

 

What I thought

I do love a good witchy story and this one was a good mix of urban fantasy and historical fantasy – with the past and present worlds colliding. I got hints of Maleficent (the cursing) and Practical Magic (especially when the coven came out in force). Merry is a somewhat reluctant heroine – and I don’t blame her – poor thing hasn’t had half the training she needed thanks to some ‘family dynamics’. One set of family dynamics that really works to help her is with her and her brother Leo – I really liked him as a character and I’m sure she was thankful for his protective instincts on a few occasions.

The historical scenes showed the long line of witches that Merry descends from – and they are as cursed as Jack. I had echos of Melinda Salisbury’s The Sleeping Prince when reading these sections.

I’m not going to tell you what happens except to say it ends with the mention of the sequel – The Witch’s Tears. This can be read as a stand alone but I’m sure, like me, you’ll want to know where the story goes from here.

 

Huge thanks to the sisters for answering my questions (and demonstrating typical sisterly love) and to Vicki Berwick for the ARC (my opinions are my own – as ever).

Do check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour – The Witch’s Kiss is available to buy now.

hc_witches_kiss_blog_tour

#TommyvsCancer Blog Tour

Tommy V Cancer

In today’s world there aren’t many of us who can say that we haven’t been affected by Cancer in one way or another. But, did you know that many people who are directly affected experience financial hardship as a result of their diagnosis?

This blog tour is to raise awareness and hopefully inspire donations to one such individual. The author Tommy Donbavand. Huge thanks go to the wonderful book bloggers that bought this tour together.

Tommy has been blogging about his experiences with honesty and humour and you can find the link to his blog, and links to donate, below:

 

Website: www.tommyvcancer.com

Patreon Link: http://www.tommyvcancer.com/support/

Paypal Link: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=Nl-IE_9Fhy7jbNI-H8DqkoBnmUwmOAA9TnlRAPyO8oZz6VpeywfwY3hWxai&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8dcce3e160f5b9538489e17951d2c62172

 

The Man Himself

Tommy

Tommy is the author of the popular 13-book Scream Street series for 7 to 10 year olds, published by Walker Books in the UK and Candlewick Press in the US. His other books include Zombie!, Wolf and Uniform (winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award) for Barrington Stoke, Boredom Busters and Quick Fixes For Kids’ Parties (How To Books), and Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis (Network Continuum).

 

In theatre, Tommy’s plays have been performed to thousands of children on national tours to venues such as The Hackney Empire, Leeds City Varieties, and Nottingham Playhouse. These productions include Hey Diddle Diddle, Rumplestiltskin, Jack & Jill In The Forgotten Nursery, and Humpty Dumpty And The Incredibly Daring Rescue Of The Alien Princess From Deep Space. He is also responsible for five episodes of the CBBC TV series, Planet Cook (Platinum Films).

 

As an actor, Tommy played the Clearlake MC in the West End musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story for over eight years, in addition to roles in the movies Zombie Love Stories (where he battled hordes of Scottish undead) and Going Off Big Time (where he was beaten up on a bouncy castle). A veteran of pantomime, he has portrayed just about every comic character from Abanazer to an Ugly Sister.

Tommy lives in Lancashire with his wife and two sons. He is a HUGE fan of all things Doctor Who, plays blues harmonica, and makes a mean balloon poodle. He sees sleep as a waste of good writing time.

 

Website: http://www.tommydonbavand.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tommydonbavand

 

For each stop on the tour we could pick any book of Tommy’s to review, and there were plenty to choose from – check out his list of publications on Goodreads. There were two that caught my eye so I got them both on kindle.

Fang of the Vampire (Scream Street 1)

FotV

Yes, I went for the the first volume of his 14 book middle grade series Scream Street – I do love my supernatural tales of vampires and ghouls.

This book was lots of fun and I will be checking out the others – though due to the illustrations I think getting hold of print copies might be the best way forward.

Scream Street is a place that supernatural creatures are sent to avoid them being a problem to humans, so when Luke turns into a Werewolf, him and his human parents are sent there, with no way out. Not so fun for Mr and Mrs Watson who can barely stop trembling when in a room with their vampire neighbours. Scream Street is also controlled by the nasty landlord Otto Sneer who takes pleasure in confiscating people’s things…including the electricity.

Luke makes friends with a vampire, Resus Negative and a mummy, Cleo Farr and together they start a search for a way out of Scream Street. This trio is great together and get into a number of scrapes in this first book. There is a whole host of characters that kids and adults alike will enjoy – like the farting goblins and the very laid back zombie Doug.

Great for bedtime stories.

 

Ward 13 (Teen Reads)

Ward 13

I was intrigued by the synopsis of this one where a teen, Mark Jackson, ends up in hospital with a broken leg, after a skateboarding accident. Whilst there he notices that patients who don’t seem to have any relatives visiting, don’t seem to come back from surgery. As a boy in a group home Mark fits that description and his surgery is scheduled for the next day…

This story was only 49 pages, which I didn’t realise when I bought it but that is because it is aimed at teens who are still developing their reading skill. A bit like the new Quick Reads series. Plots relevant to that age group but with slightly less challenging language. There was a nice bit of suspense and I liked the two young characters. It also made me feel queasy – in a good way?! Tommy has written a few creepy books in this series.

 

Do let me know in the comments which book(s) of Tommy’s catch your eye and make sure you check out the rest of the blog tour (some of the stops are hosting a giveaway) and do come and join in Vivienne and Chelley’s twitter chat on Thursday 30th June 2016 8-9pm using the hashtag #TommyvsCancer

Tommy Tour 4

 

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