Guest Post: What Forbidden Places Would YOU Like to Visit?

Hello everyone! Today I’m excited to welcome author Helen Grant to my blog and kick off her Forbidden Spaces blog tour. To celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Helen wrote a special guest post (in collaboration with a number of other authors you will recognise) for you guys – I really hope you enjoy it!

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The lure of the forbidden: it never gets old. The theme of my Forbidden Spaces trilogy is urban exploration. Over the course of the three novels, heroine Veerle De Keyser explores opulent empty houses, several castles (including one with a torture chamber) and the rooftops of an ancient city. The final book, Urban Legends, takes us underground to railway tunnels and sewers as brutal serial killer De Jager pursues Veerle and her friend Kris in a terrifying personal vendetta.

Urban explorers in an abandoned railway tunnel

Of all my books, researching Urban Legends was probably the most fun, and the most exciting. I went out with some real urban explorers to visit an abandoned factory; I also went down into the Brussels sewers and visited abandoned railway tunnels.

Abandoned Tunnel in Brussels
To celebrate the publication of Urban Legends on 26th March, I asked some of my fellow authors what forbidden places they would like to visit – it doesn’t have to be an abandoned building, it could be anywhere at all that you normally can’t go! Here’s what they said.

Emma Haughton, author of Now You See Me and Better Left Buried: “The vault in MI5 or wherever the government hides all its secrets. I would love to find out what is really going on. But then, I’d probably implode with outrage and indignation!”

Sarah Naughton, author of The Blood List: “The famous but possibly apocryphal tunnels under London.”

Dawn Kurtagich, whose novel The Dead House is out in August: “I would love to go to the Antarctic—to the south pole. They only let researchers go, generally, I think.”

Janet Edwards, author of the Earth Girl trilogy: “White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, because of what ended up as a very brief reference to White Sands in Earth Girl. It’s amazing the varied things I find myself researching for books. The last one was JCB mini digger controls, and before that it was kangaroos.”

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Showcase Sunday #99

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone! I hope you’re well – how was your week? Mine was pretty busy, as usual. I came back from my holiday last Sunday so the first few days at work were pretty manic. And now I’m ill… I managed to catch a cold on my way back to the UK (typical) so I spent my first weekend off lying in bed… Oh well.

Incoming

In Bloom by Matthew CrowThe Death House by Sarah PinboroughDeath House
In Bloom / The Death House

The Death House has been on my wishlist for a while (and I’ve heard so many great things about it even before it came out), so when I won a copy from the publisher a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to pick it up. I pretty much started reading it as soon as it landed on my doorstep. It’s an AMAZING story, but that’s all I’ll say for now – I’m writing my review as we speak, so keep an eye out for that!

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Review: The A to Z of You and Me – James Hannah

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
Publication date: 12 March 2015
Publisher: Doubleday
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780857522641
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Age group: Adult
Source: Curtis Brown Book Group
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★   

Ivo fell for her.
He fell for a girl he can’t get back.
Now he’s hoping for something.
While he waits he plays a game:

He chooses a body part and tells us its link to the past he threw away.
He tells us the story of how she found him, and how he lost her.
But he doesn’t have long.
And he still has one thing left to do…

The A to Z of You and Me has been on my wish list ever since I first read about it in the publisher’s catalogue last year and it was, understandably, one of my most anticipated books of 2015. The synopsis doesn’t give away too much and, for some reason, I always thought it was a young adult novel – but with so many YA cancer stories out there,  finding out that Ivo is, in fact, an adult was definitely a pleasant surprise.

The A to Z of You and Me centres around Ivo, a forty-year old man slowly dying of kidney disease. Ivo is lying in bed, on his own, in his local hospice and is waiting for death. To keep his mind occupied and take his mind off his increasing pain, his nurse Sheila (lovely Sheila, possibly my favourite character in this book) comes up with a game. She challenges Ivo to name a body part for each letter of the alphabet and think about a story or a memory he associates with each of these words. It is through these memories that we get to know Ivo and who he really is. It is through these flashbacks that we first hear about his friends, his girlfriend – and only love – Mia, his illness and all those events that lead to the present day.

I loved the fact that the author didn’t want to create a perfect, flawless character. It’s clear that Ivo has made some wrong decisions in his life which might have lead to where he is now, but he’s not looking for sympathy. The book doesn’t try to be sentimental – and that’s what makes it different.

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10 UKYA Books I’m Dying to Read

10 UKYA Books I'm Dying to Read

Although I’m not very big on New Year’s resolutions, I stepped into 2015 with one bookish goal: to read more YA this year. Normally, about 60% of the books I read are adult novels, with crime and contemporary fiction in the majority. This year, however, I decided to take a break from thrillers and add a bit more Young Adult fiction to my TBR list. (If you’re a fellow crime reader, fear not. I’m still very much reading and reviewing crime – I just want to add a bit more variety to my to-be-read pile.)

I kicked off February with a UKYA book I’ve been meaning to read since last year, T. S. Easton’s Boys Don’t Knit, and I absolutely loved it. I’m currently reading the second book in the series, An English Boy in New York, which is just as hilarious as the first one was, if not more so. I’m really hoping that March will follow the same pattern and I’ll discover some more amazing YA reads.

But before we step into the first week of March, I wanted to share with you ten UKYA books I’m really excited about, and which I’m hoping to read in the next couple of months.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal is THE book all my friends and Twitter followers are talking about this year – and I’ve heard amazing things about it. I have a feeling it’s going to be a truly special and unique read, and I can’t wait to finally pick it up.

Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth

This one reminds me a little bit of Erin Jade Lange’s books (Butter and Dead Ends), both of which deal with bullying and which I absolutely loved. What makes Seven Days even more interesting – for me, at least – is that it’s told from the perspective of both the bully and the bullied. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where we see things through the bully’s eyes, so I’m really curious how Eve did it. I also like the idea of hearing the same story from two different perspectives and it’s such an intriguing premise. I have a good feeling about this one!

The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

I adore Cat Clarke’s writing. Undone was unputdownable and is literally one of the best YA books I’ve read. Ever. It’s been a while since I read it but there are certain parts of the book I remember as vividly as if it was yesterday. So adding The Lost and the Found to my TBR was a no-brainer. And, as an added treat, it comes out a week before my birthday. May can’t come soon enough!

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella has been one of my favourite authors since my early teens and I’ve read (and re-read) all the books she’s written so far. If that wasn’t enough to convince me that I NEED to read Finding Audrey, what makes it even more exciting is that it’s Sophie’s first YA book. I’ve loved what she did with her adult books, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how she writes for a younger audience.

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Review: Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes
Publication date: 5 February 2015
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781405918930
Length: 95 pages
Genre: Chick lit
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★★★    

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She has never even been on a weekend away with her boyfriend. Everyone knows she is just not the adventurous type.

But, when her boyfriend doesn’t turn up for their romantic mini-break, Nell has the chance to prove everyone wrong.

Alone in Paris, Nell meets the mysterious moped-riding Fabien and his group of carefree friends. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life?

Although I’ve read hundreds of amazing reviews of Jojo Moyes’s books and everyone I know adores her stories, I’ve never had the chance – or the time – to pick them up myself. So when Paris for One was released as part of the Quick Reads initiative, I jumped at the opportunity and decided to give it a go.

With only 95 pages, Moyes’s novel is a super quick read. Just like the rest of the Quick Reads titles, Paris for One is aimed at those who, for whatever reason, find reading a difficult and daunting task. However, it doesn’t mean that you, as a bookworm who can easily devour a book in a day, won’t enjoy it. In fact, it’s perfect for days when you’re running errands and you know there will be some waiting time here and there. Whether you need to pop into the post office, do the school run or you’re about to go on a quick lunch break, it’s a perfect companion. I loved the fact that I could read during my lunch break without having to carry a 400-page long hardback with me, like I did the week before.

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