Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Seventh Miss Hatfield Blog Tour: Anna Caltabiano Talks Young and Strong and Female!

Rebecca, a 15-year-old American, isn't entirely happy with her life, comfortable though it is. Still, even she knows that she shouldn't talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbour Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat and a drink, Rebecca wasn't entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything.
For Miss Hatfield is immortal. And now, thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Rebecca is as well. But this gift might be more of a curse, and it comes with a price. Rebecca is beginning to lose her personality, to take on the aspects of her neighbour. She is becoming the next Miss Hatfield.
But before the process goes too far, Rebecca must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture which might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. A clue which must remain hidden from the world. In order to retrieve the painting, Rebecca must infiltrate a wealthy household, learn more about the head of the family, and find an opportunity to escape. Before her journey is through, she will also have - rather reluctantly - fallen in love. But how can she stay with the boy she cares for, when she must return to her own time before her time-travelling has a fatal effect on her body? And would she rather stay and die in love, or leave and live alone?
And who is the mysterious stranger who shadows her from place to place? A hunter for the secret of immortality - or someone who has already found it?

The Seventh Miss Hatfield is published by Gollancz on July 31st, and the eBook will be available for £1.99 until August 7th. Thanks to Anna for writing the below guest post, and I hope you'll check out the book!


Young and Strong and Female
by Anna Caltabiano

As a teenage girl, I always like reading about other teenage girls. There’s something about opening a book and seeing someone who looks like you, sounds like you, and thinks like you. It’s magical. And fortunately for teenage girls like me there are many books (especially young adult books) that feature a variety female characters.

Many older books, now seen as classics, have a particular vein of female characters populating their worlds. These characters fulfill traditional female roles and live constrained lives. Jane Eyre fulfills a multitude of female roles—a tutor, a rescued sister, and then finally a wife. Jane Eyre’s life is so constrained that most of the tension in her character is about getting control over the very narrow choices that she has, such as either marrying St. John or Rochester. Even Cathy in Wuthering Heights, who’s known for being so wild, settles down, gets married, and runs her own household. However, the female characters in classic novels make life-changing decisions by going against the grain of society. They make these revolutionary decisions, but do so within a very firm box defined by societ. Jane Eyre’s decision to marry Rochester, who has nothing at the end, instead of the stable St. John would have been surprising to readers in that time period. Cathy in Wuthering Heights makes the decision to marry Edgar Linton and firmly stands by it.

Nowadays in popular literature, female characters are making bigger choices, spinning society on its head. Characters like Katniss in The Hunger Games are not playing by the rules of the game anymore—they’re defining their own game. Instead of waiting to be saved by a male character, Katniss saves herself and other characters through cold reasoning and her own survival skills. From the first few pages, by volunteering to be in The Hunger Games instead of her younger sister, Katniss takes control, courageously faces horrible truths, and refuses to be intimidated or constrained.

Looking at these examples, it’The Seventh Miss Hatfield, I consciously wanted to write a female protagonist who made her own choices. In the start of the book, my main female character starts off as a classical heroine. She starts as merely a victim. Things happen to her, and she’s powerless to control or even influence anything. Over time, she grows to become the proactive protagonist, driving events around her, instead of being caught in action she cannot influence.
s safe to say that female characters in novels have evolved as views in our society towards women have changed. It’s finally seen as ok to have headstrong female characters in charge of their own lives. When writing

They might not always be right and sometimes they do fail, but female characters have learned to make their own choices, and accept the consequences of these actions. As a teenage girl, meeting these characters through books, is more than inspiring. It shows me that women can and should be the leading characters in their own lives.


Monday, 28 July 2014

Review: Knightmare - Feast Fight! by Peter Bently

Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Format: Paperback
Released: June 2nd, 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Amazon summary:

Cedric Thatchbottom can't wait to train as a squire, serving Sir Percival the Proud - a knight famed throughout the land for his glorious deeds. But this famous knight isn't all he appears to be, and Cedric soon finds himself being run ragged around Castle Bombast by his new master. In Book 2 of the Knightmare series, there's going to be a banquet at Castle Bombast. And not just any old banquet - the king and queen will be attending, and they expect the very best. Which all means more work for Cedric! But what will Sir Percy's old enemy - Roland the Rotten - do when he finds out he's not invited?


Cedric Thatchbottom is back in Feast Fight!, the second book in the very funny Knightmare series. This time Sir Percy the Proud starts causing even more havoc when he gets word that the king and queen will be paying a visit to Castle Bombast, and that they expect a banquet fit for royalty. Obviously nothing goes to plan and poor Cedric finds himself doing more than any squire should - all in the name of doing a good job!

The characters in this series are brilliant, even down to Margaret the cook at Castle Bombast. They're all completely bonkers (just like the books themselves), and very easy to like. So far my favourite has to be Sir Percy the Proud, expert liar and utter wuss. He couldn't survive without Cedric looking out for him and obeying his every command - honestly, Castle Bombast would crumble!

Fred Blunt's illustrations are again excellent, successfully bringing everyone to life in a suitable cartoonish fashion. The illustrations themselves are often just as funny as the accompanying text, especially when they include Cedric looking a bit puzzled at something Sir Percy has said. Fred Blunt gets it all exactly right and together he and Peter Bently make one heck of a team.

Peter Bently has a great knack for writing children's books, infusing them with lots of humour and stupidity. The Knightmare series is a delight to read; I've thoroughly enjoyed both books so far and am very much looking forward to Damsel Disaster! being published in August.

Review: Knightmare - Life Stinks! by Peter Bently

Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Format: Paperback
Released: April 7th, 2014
Rating: 8/10

Amazon summary:

Cedric Thatchbottom can't wait to train as a squire, serving Sir Percy the Proud - a knight famed throughout the land for his glorious deeds. But this famous knight isn't all he appears to be, and Cedric soon finds himself being run ragged around Castle Bombast by his new master. Roland the Rotten has challenged Percy the Proud to a duel. But the famous knight refuses to take part because he's lost his lucky underpants. It turns out that Percy is lying to avoid the fight. With his new master's reputation at stake, Cedric finds himself stepping up to the challenge...


Knightmare: Life Stinks! is exactly the kind of children's book I love. It's fast, funny and not afraid to make a joke of itself - basically brilliant! Peter Bently knows his stuff when it comes to comedy writing for kids and I can absolutely see why he won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. I'd say it was very well deserved, too!

Life Stinks! is the first in this series about Cedric Thatchbottom and his work at Castle Bombast. Cedric works for a knight called Percy the Proud (who is really anything but proud), his best friend is a jester called Patchcoat and his enemies are Sir Roland the Rotten and his goons who live at Blackstone Fort. In this book Cedric finds himself charged with the task of getting Sir Percy out of a joust. The only question is how?

I knew I'd enjoy this book as soon as I read the first page, and I was right. It's just my kind of daft, easy humour and Fred Blunt's illustrations are fantastic. They suit the writing so well and everyone looks exactly how I imagined them to look, especially Patchcoat the Jester.

Knightmare: Life Stinks! is a great read for anyone who enjoys a good laugh with their books. Knightmare: Feast Fight! is next in the series and also next on my reading list. I must find out what happens to Cedric and the inhabitants of Castle Bombast!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

In My Mailbox #217: New Books This Week

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and any links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!

Thanks so much to all publishers/authors who sent me lovely books to review. There were some nice surprises this week!


For review:

  • Timebomb by Scott K. Andrews (UK proof/ARC)



Happy reading!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review: Corpse Talk Season 1 by Adam Murphy

Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: Trade paperback
Released: July 3rd, 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher's summary:

In this collection of one of the most popular comics in The Phoenix, our intrepid interviewer chats with some of the most amazing guys and girls from history. Kings, explorers, heroes of science, musicians – he gets all the DEAD FAMOUS to spill the beans on some of the most INCREDIBLE, ASTONISHING, GRIZZLY, GRIMY AND COOL bits of our world's history!


As soon as I laid eyes on Corpse Talk I knew it was going to be good. The idea by itself is fantastic - a chat show interviewing famous dead people from history. Have you ever heard a more genius pitch than that? The fact that it's presented as a comic makes it even better, and the illustrations are some of the funniest I've seen. Kids are in for a treat with this one!

Corpse Talk host Adam Murphy, also the author and illustrator, basically interviews real dead people who had an important role to play in our history. So besides being educational, it's also highly amusing and very, very clever, packed with facts that kids nowadays probably don't even learn in their school history lessons.

Famous dead people interviewed include Tutankhamun, Florence Nightingale, Henry VIII, Abraham Lincoln and my favourites Winston Churchill and Jane Austen. The comic conversations themselves are easygoing and interesting, and Corpse Talk succeeds in making history fun, and as an added bonus you'll also learn all about Winston Churchill's power naps!

Corpse Talk is a great way to spend a couple of hours, especially in you're interested in historical figures. Even if you're not it's still an enjoyable read, packed with jokes and intelligent writing that is sure to make anyone appreciate years gone by. Oh, and the artwork is great too - you'll never look at Emmeline Pankhurst the same way again!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Review: Eversea by Natasha Boyd

Publisher: Headline Eternal
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: June 19th, 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Amazon summary:

An orphaned, small-town, southern girl, held hostage by responsibility and self-doubt. A Hollywood A-list mega-star, on the run from his latest scandal and with everything to lose. A chance encounter that leads to an unlikely arrangement and epic love affair that will change them both for ever.


Eversea is a contemporary New Adult novel that I fell for hook, line and sinker. I raced through it in a mad fashion, got completely sucked into Keri Ann's world and found myself falling in love with the delectable Jack Eversea. Natasha Boyd's style of writing is addictive and immersive, making my trip to Butler Cove a wholly enjoyable experience and one I'll hopefully be repeating very soon with the sequel!

Keri Ann lives in the small town of Butler Cove, South Carolina, and has been pretty much alone since her parents were killed in an accident. Her brother's away studying, and to pay the bills she works in a restaurant cafe. One day a mysterious guy wearing a hoodie turns up at her work, and he ends up being none other than famous actor Jack Eversea. What happens next isn't something either of them bargained on, but it changes their lives nonetheless.

Both Keri Ann and Jack are great characters, well-realised and easy to like. Keri Ann is good for Jack in the sense that she's independent and able to stand on her own two feet, whereas he is perhaps more used to assistants doing everything for him. Moving to Butler Cove makes him examine himself as a person and figure out who he wants to be and what he wants to stand for. Keri Ann is a big part of that self discovery, and together they really do make a good team.

There's a high dose of drama throughout Eversea, which is something I've come to expect from NA novels. This time it's a little more realistic - more believable - especially considering that Jack is in the public eye and is well known worldwide. This book tries to shed some light on what it's like to be in that position, being recognised all the time and having to watch every move you make. It succeeds for the most part, making the reader think about what the more negative side of fame can be like and how it affects personal lives, friendships and romantic relationships.

I loved Eversea and I'm so excited to revisit these characters in Forever, Jack. They feel like old friends to me after only one book which, for me, is the sign of a good story and a good writer. I'm sure all NA enthusiasts will love this one as much as I did and no doubt Jack Eversea will be a lot of people's new book boyfriend. I can't say I blame them!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Event Report: YALC and LFCC!

A couple of weeks ago I went to London Film and Comic Con and YALC (the UK's first YA convention), where I got to get books signed, see friends and meet Anthony Head and Juliet Landau from Buffy (my favourite show EVER).

The best part of YALC for me was getting to catch-up with some author/publisher/blogging friends, including Phil Earle, Marcus Sedgwick, Lucy Christopher, Non Pratt, Cat Clarke, Sophie from So Many Books, So Little Time, Leanne from District YA, Carly from Writing from the Tub, Kat, Nina and far too many other publicists/editors to mention. It was great to meet some of said publicists and editors for the first time after emailing and tweeting with them for so long, and each and every one of them is brilliant! I talked about books SO much and I could have carried on talking for hours. It was the best way to spend my weekend!

[Me and lovely Lucy!]

My other favourite part of the weekend was LFCC, which is basically like geek heaven. I finally got hold of a Game of Thrones Funko White Walker (yay!) and now have a couple of new signed additions to my Buffy collection (a book and DVD). Oh, and check out this huge dragon skull from Game of Thrones!

Of course there were a few glitches with both events, which is normal for something of that size (LFCC grows every year attendee-wise, but this year was the worst I've known it). It was far too hot and crowded on Saturday, and the YALC author signing queues were a nightmare to navigate. The Sunday was a LOT better - calmer, more organised and a little bit cooler where the temperature was concerned. There was more good than bad, though, and most of the bad just had to do with my personal distaste for extreme heat and crowds blocking me in!

The line-up of authors was pretty fantastic, with a lot of my UK favourites in attendance (see those mentioned above). I really enjoyed Sunday morning's YALC blogger brunch which I was lucky enough to be invited to, and I also tagged along to Saturday night's Fringe event which wasn't part of YALC but was fun nonetheless. I finally met Keren David - yay!

 [Phil Earle signing books like the cool dude he is.]

I personally think YALC was a great success and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I came back with more books than I arrived with, lots of cool promo bookmarks, many signed books and a big grin on my face after seeing so many of my lovely friends who I only see in person every now and then. Thank god for Twitter and email, eh?

I hope there's another YALC next year, and I hope one day it gets its own venue. There's enough interest out there to warrant it, and it would be great to have more space. I think this was the beginning of what could be a very successful annual YA convention in the UK, full of fantastic authors and enthusiastic book lovers, and I really hope it did well enough to happen again. (That's a lot of hoping I'm doing, isn't it!)

 [Den Patrick after signing my copy of The Boy with the Porcelain Blade.]

Special thanks go to Non Pratt and Daphne from Winged Reviews for making my weekend in London possible, and to the whole YALC committee for organising everything. Thanks, ladies!

Here are a few pics, and you can see more images from the weekend on my Instagram.

[Juliet Landau! Drusilla from Buffy!]

[Anthony Head! Giles from Buffy!]

[My stack of signed books.]