Archive for March, 2012

Review Copy Cleanup [challenge 5] – Love Will Find a Way

Hello everyone and welcome to our fifth and final Review Copy Cleanup Challenge! As all of you know, the sign up for the Review Copy Cleanup are closed. Last week’s winners have been chosen by Random.org and are announced here. If you’re on the list but we haven’t contacted you yet, don’t worry, we will!

In the Love Will Find a Way Challenge we’re sharing our all-time favourite books. If you were stuck on an island, or in a cave, which books would you bring? We’re not limiting you to bring a certain amount of books, so give us your best!

And as usual, we have a bunch of goodies to give away to those of you who complete our final challenge. Here’s what’s up for grabs:

Prize pack 1:
  • A bath/soap basket, courtesy of Shannon Mayer (US only)
  • An ebook copy of Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright
  • An ebook copy of Covert Dreams by Michael Meyer
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: The Keeper of the Stones by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: Warriors of the Heynai by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of Lawless Justice by Karina Kantas
  • An ebook copy of All’s Fair in Vanities War by Elizabeth Marks + matching bookmarks
Prize pack 2:
  • A signed paperback copy of American Girl by Tony Talbot
  • An ebook copy of Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright
  • An ebook copy of Covert Dreams by Michael Meyer
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: The Keeper of the Stones by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: Warriors of the Heynai by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of Lawless Justice by Karina Kantas
  • An ebook copy of Justice by Jade Varden
Prize pack 3: 
  • A signed paperback copy of Over the Mountains by Tony Talbot
  • An ebook copy of Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright
  • An ebook copy of Covert Dreams by Michael Meyer
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: The Keeper of the Stones by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: Warriors of the Heynai by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of Lawless Justice by Karina Kantas
  • An ebook copy of Crystal Shade: Angeni, Volume 1 & Pale Moonlight by István Szabó Ifj
Prize pack 4: 
  • A signed paperback copy of Taken by Tony Talbot
  • An ebook copy of Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright
  • An ebook copy of Covert Dreams by Michael Meyer
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: The Keeper of the Stones by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of Jake West: Warriors of the Heynai by M J Webb
  • An ebook copy of All’s Fair in Vanities War by Elizabeth Marks + matching bookmarks
  • An ebook copy of Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson by Eliabeth Hawthorne + an ebook copy of Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Leocardo Reyes

We would like to thank everyone who has participated in our event, it was awesome to read all of your posts and to clean our review piles with you! Also a big thank you to all the authors that make these giveaways possible. If you have a moment, could you please fill out this formso that we can make our events even better in the future? Thank you!  (:

 

Challenge guidelines:

▶ Be signed up in the linky here
▶ You have to follow both this blog and Nyx Book Reviews in order to compete for the prizes
▶ Leave us a direct link to your challenge post in the linky below (this is not the same Linky as the sign-up one!) The linky is the same on both of our blogs so you only have to enter your name once. :)
▶ The challenge and the giveaway ends on Wednesday, April 4 – the winners will be contacted by email and announced at the end of this post.

The four winners are:
1. Jennifer @ Some Like It Paranormal
2. Sweet Marie83 @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer
3. Erica @ Ink Spots And Roses
4. MarinaCongratulations!

Blogging Know-How: Mentors, blog buttons, and sharing ARCs

Welcome to the second instalment of Blogging Know How, my brand new weekly feature here on Books, Biscuits, and Tea. The aim of this feature is to answer some of your blogging/ reading/ reviewing/ social networking related questions. If there’s anything you’ve been wondering about, you can’t figure out or just want me to help you out with, you can send it to me via email or the little contact form I’ll post at the end of these posts.

“I’ve been watching youtube videos and reading other blogger tips/tricks of the trade and a lot of them say to get a mentor. More experienced bloggers must have a TON of help requests. How would a fairly new blogger go about getting a seasoned mentor when they don’t know anyone? And thanks for this feature, I love it! I’ll definitely support it. :)” – Mandee

Thanks Mandee! Having someone more experienced helping you out is great and it definitely makes blogging and exploring this whole blogoverse much, much easier but I can see why it’s so hard to find someone to help you. It’s not the fact that people don’t want to help or not even the fact that you don’t know anyone. It’s rather that blogging takes a hell of a lot of time and most of us go to school or work full time besides blogging and taking on a mentee would mean that they’d have even less time for reading and well.. everything else. So how do you get started? I’ll tell you what I did when I started my blog and entered the blogosphere, the great unknown for the first time.


Take your time. Blogging and getting the hang of things takes time but you’ll get there. You don’t necessarily need to know anyone to get started. There are lots of websites and articles that may be useful for beginners. For example:

And as the last article says, don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow bloggers for help. All of us were beginners at some point so we know how confusing it is when you’re thrown into the unknown. When I started Books, Biscuits, and Tea I haven’t even heard about blogging mentors. I had no idea such a thing existed and I didn’t know anyone either. But I’m sure you (and everyone else) have some favourite blogs you often visit, and bloggers who you look for inspiration or look up to. You can learn a lot from even reading their posts! And it never hurts to ask for help. I’ve had some people emailing me about review templates and social networking but no matter how busy I was, I always tried to help them out – and I’m sure most people would do the same. :)

The buttons! How do you make them and the links that they use? THANK YOU!!! – Libby

You mean the “grab my button” photo with the code? You won’t believe how easy it is! I could copy-paste the whole thing for you but d’you know what? This website will do it all for you. If you’re having problems with any of the codes, just click on this photo and you’ll see how I did mine. First off, fill in the first two brackets with your blog’s title and its URL. Then, you’ll need a blog button. I did mine in Photoshop using my (previous) blog template. Once you have a button, make sure to upload it on Photobucket or any other image sharing website and copy-paste its direct link into the third bracket. As for container type, click on “Textarea” if you have a Blogger blog. If your blog is hosted by WordPress or something else, click on Pre.
Container’s border colour: #ffffff (which is white, but you can choose any other colours by clicking on that little black box)
Container’s background colour: #ffffff
Font colour: #000000 (which is black)
Then click on preview and get code.

1. Go to Blogger -> Design -> Page elements -> Add a gadget -> HTML/Javascript
2. Copy the blog button code from the website and paste it in the HTML/Javascript box in Blogger
3. Give a title to your widget, e.g. “Grab my button”
4. Save it. That’s it! :)

Easy peasy! :)

What do you think about people sharing ARC’s? All the ARC’s I have received say not to share with other people but I see all the time on other blogs that bloggers let each other borrow ARC’s. Do you think this is OK or not? – Anon

Judging by your question, you don’t approve of people sharing them – and to be frank, I have to agree with you and I’ll tell you why. An ARC (or Advance Reader Copy) is basically an uncorrected proof of a book. It’s a roughly-produced version of an upcoming book that publishers send out to newspapers, magazines, and book bloggers to create a buzz before its publication. It’s important to note that producing ARCs actually costs more than producing finished copies of the same book.

Going back to the original question, I think passing them on is okay as long as the recipient is a fellow book blogger who will review it on his/her blog as well. Lending ARCs to book bloggers is OK since the person you give it to will also spread the word and write about the book.

As opposed to this, I don’t think that sharing ARCs with non-bloggers or passing them on to friends who won’t review it is okay. That’s not why there were produced and sent to us bloggers, after all. Giving them away if you have a spare copy (sent by the author or the publisher) is one thing and it’s perfectly all right. Selling them on Ebay or passing it on to many people is a different story. Just imagine what would happen if everyone who has an ARC passed it on. Then the next person would pass it on to someone else and so on. Who would buy the book if every single person already read it by the time it comes out? That’s right, no one. The aim of this whole ARC business is to make people interested in the book not to let the whole word read it for free. So no, in this case I don’t think it’s okay to pass them on, nor is it okay to sell them on Ebay for a bunch of money.

What do you guys think of sharing ARCs? Do you think it’s OK?

Do you have any blogging/reviewing related questions you’d like me to answer on my blog? Something related to ARCs, social networking, or anything else? Don’t hesitate to let me know. :)

Review: Agatha Raisin: As The Pig Turns – M.C. Beaton

Book cover of Agatha Raisin As The Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton

Title: Agatha Raisin: As The Pig Turns 
Author: M.C. Beaton 
Publication date: April 19th, 2012
Publisher: Constable & Robinson
Format: Paperback
ISBN:978-1-78033-160-7
Length: 294 pages
Genre: Mystery
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Winter Parva, a traditional Cotswolds village next door to Carsely, has decided to throw a celebratory hog roast to mark the beginning of the winter holiday festivities. And Agatha Raisin has arrived with friend and rival in the sleuthing business, Toni, to enjoy the merriment. But as the spit pig is carried towards the bed of fiery charcoal, Agatha – and the rest of the village – realise that things aren’t as they seem…

Very quickly it transpires that the hog roast is in fact the body of Gary Beech, a policeman not much loved in Winter Parva. And although Agatha has every intention of leaving the affair to the police, she just can’t resist in joining the fray to try and solve the case herself!

The Agatha Raisin series was recommended to me by many of my bookish friends, so naturally, I had to find out what the hype was about. When I first read the synopsis, I was expecting something along the lines of a modern day Miss Marple or the female version of Sherlock Holmes, but that’s where I was wrong. M.C. Beaton’s series, in fact, is quite different from both Doyle’s and Christie’s novels. Did I still enjoy it? I would say yes.

To be frank, I haven’t read any of Beaton’s previous books in the series but I had no difficulties with getting into the story whatsoever. As The Pig Turns is the 22nd instalment but don’t be put off if you haven’t read any Agatha Raisin books before – you’ll be able to figure out who’s who soon enough. Agatha Raisin is a middle-aged woman with a nicotine addiction and a penchant for swearing, and being disagreeable. Even though I was expecting something entirely different and it took me some time to actually get to know and like her, I managed to warm to her after a while. Even though she has a reputation for her ‘stiff upper lip’, you cannot help noticing that there’s a more vulnerable side to her and despite the fact that she deals with murder on a daily basis, she’s still as frightened as we are.

As much as I’d like to say it was a fantastic read, there’s still a few things I think this book is lacking. As far as the characters are concerned, it’s great. As far as the plot is concerned, it’s not so great. What I missed the most was details. I love the fact that the book is fast paced but most of the time I felt like we were flying through a lot of details that might have been important for us readers. We don’t know what goes on in Agatha’s mind and we’re not given any clues by the police either. Forget everything you’ve read in Christie’s novels, from lengthy explanations to detailed crime scenes and investigations – this book is definitely not like that. Maybe it’s just the Christie fan in me that says this but I think this book could have been so much better if it was more focused on details. What I love the most about mysteries is the fact that readers are part of the investigation process. You get a chance to guess who the murderer might be or what the motive might have been – and in many cases, the book just keeps you guessing right until the end. As for As The Pig Turns, however, I didn’t have this feeling at all and now that I know what happens, I don’t think anyone could have guessed what was going on or who might be the one to blame.

Other than that, I think you should give this series a try if you like fast paced mysteries. The characters will really grow on you along the way and you’ll find yourself breezing through the story as Agatha and her staff are faced with different obstacles and enemies each day. Even though it was slightly less detailed than I would have liked it to be, all in all it was an exciting read.

Rating:
*Thank you to Constable & Robinson for sending me a review copy of this book*

In My Mailbox #23

Hi everyone and welcome to my 23rd In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It’s our opportunity to get a sneak peek into what books everyone  received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders.


I didn’t do an IMM post last week because I didn’t have anything to show you but this week was amazing book-wise and I got lots of amazing books. Shall we check them out?

Purchased:

A Kestrel For a Knave by Barry Hines (paperback)
Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood (paperback)
Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess (paperback)
Union Street by Pat Barker (paperback)


I’m writing my dissertation on the British working class so these four are basically research material. :) I’ve actually read Union Street before but I didn’t have my own copy, that’s why I ordered it a few weeks ago. It’s fantastic, by the way! I loved it.

For review:

Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale (hardback)
The Watcher by Charles Maclean (paperback)
Breathless by Anne Swärd (paperback)
The Life of Rebecca Jones by Anghard Price (hardback)
Agatha Raisin: As The Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton (paperback)
Run Rabbit Run by Kate Johnson (ebook) 
All These Things I’ve Done by Gabriel Zevin (paperback)

* A massive thank you to Book Divas, Penguin, Maclehose Press, Constable & Robinson, Pan Macmillan and Choc Lit *

This week was even more surprising in the way that I got my first unsolicited (i.e. not asked for) books from a publisher! How exciting is that?! Plus, I got another copy of All These Things I’ve Done – I received a copy a few weeks ago with a different cover so I’m not sure what happened, but I adore both versions :) Also, I’m reading the Agatha Raisin one right now so keep an eye on my blog for the review!
And here’s a funny question for you all: does your postman ever … give you strange looks when he delivers your packages? I know it’s a silly question but I was just wondering, since mine literally GRINS from ear to ear when he delivers my parcels. I don’t know what he’s thinking but he has this strange look on his face every time I get another book. It’s so funny! And it’s kind of sweet of him,haha
Anyway, what did y’all get this week? Make sure to leave me a comment with a link to your own post so that I can visit you back! x

Review: The Look – Sophia Bennett

Cover of The Look by Sophia Bennett

Title: The Look
Author: Sophia Bennett
Publication date: March, 2012
Publisher: Chicken House
Format: Paperback
ISBN:978-1-906427-91-7
Length: 327 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Ted is fifteen, and…oh yes…tall. When she’s spotted by a model agency, she can’t believe it. At the same time, Ted’s fashionista sister, Ava, is diagnosed with cancer. With her world turned upside down, Ted has a lot of growing up to do, some of it in five-inch platforms. Should she be the model sister for Ava? Life in front of the camera is harder than it looks. And will they still be smiling when it’s over?

The Look is without a doubt one of those books that will make you roar with laughter one minute, shed a few tears the next but most importantly, it will make you think and re-evaluate your life. I loved everything about it, from the characters and the plot to Bennett’s writing style – just brilliant.

Writing from a 15-year old girl’s point of view is quite risky and and it can go horribly wrong since many times these teenagers sound a bit too mature, too adult-ish and I can’t seem get over the fact that I didn’t talk or think like that when I was their age, but Sophia Bennett pulls it off perfectly. Her ironic/sarcastic sense of humour definitely fits Ted’s personality and it’s one of the things that make this book as good as it is.

What I loved about this story, however, is the message that it’s trying to convey to its readers. I liked how different Ava becomes after she learns about her illness. She transforms from this stunning and popular older sister into someone brave and more mature. It’s interesting how different people think when they know they might lose the battle against the illness. I loved how she was behind Ted the whole time and encouraged her to go for it and give modelling a shot. It’s as if she said we only live once and we shouldn’t be afraid of taking chances…because what’s the worst that can happen? In the end we only regret the chances that we didn’t take and the decisions that we waited too long to take. The Look is an incredibly motivating and optimistic novel which will no doubt give hope to teenagers all around the world.

At the same time, it’s not a depressing and heart-wrenching novel which tells the story of a girl who’s trying to survive cancer, quite the opposite. Don’t be afraid to pick it up if you don’t like highly emotional stories because it’s not like that. If you like contemporary / chick lit novels then I can guarantee that you’ll love this one. The characters will really grow on you along the way and you’ll be amazed how much they change by the end of the story and how much the two sisters’ relationship itself changes.

The modelling world itself was very well researched and written – I’ve always had a soft spot for fashion so I was really excited about reading this book and it didn’t disappoint me one bit. If I had to make comparisons, I’d say it’s like America’s Next Top Model and The Devil Wears Prada rolled into one, sprinkled with a pinch of humour and topped off with a great sisterly bond, witty and amiable characters, and gripping storyline. What’s not to love?

Rating:
*Thank you to Chicken House for sending me a review copy of this book*

Review Copy Cleanup [challenge 4] – Mysterious Meetup

Hello everyone and welcome to our fourth Review Copy Cleanup Challenge! As all of you know, the sign up for the Review Copy Cleanup are closed. Last week’s winners have been chosen by Random.org and are announced here. If you’re on the list but we haven’t contacted you yet, don’t worry, we will!

In the Mysterious Meetup Challenge you can have that conversation with your favourite book character of all times. Who would you want to meet? What questions would you ask him or her? Share your Mysterious Meetup with us!

And once again, we have some books to give away to those of you who complete the challenge. Here’s what’s up for grabs:


1x ebook copy of Covert Dreams
by Michael Meyer
1x ebook copy of  The Keeper of the Stones by M J Webb
1x ebook copy of Warriors of the Heynai by M J Webb
1x ebook copy of Better Off Without Him by Dee Ernst
1x paperback copy of Quicksilver by Joy Spraycar

Five lucky winners will get to choose from the five prizes listed above. It’s first come, first serve – which means that the first winner will get to choose first, the second winner chooses next, and so on.

Challenge guidelines:

▶ Be signed up in the linky here
▶ You have to follow both this blog and Nyx Book Reviews in order to compete for the prizes
▶ Leave us a direct link to your challenge post in the linky below (this is not the same Linky as the sign-up one!) The linky is the same on both of our blogs so you only have to enter your name once. :)
▶ The challenge ends on Thursday, March 29 – the winners will be contacted by email and announced during next week’s challenge.

The five winners are:

1. Jenn @ Owl Read It – Quicksilver
2. Shawna LeAnn @ Dreaming In The Pages- Better Off Without Him
3. Megan @ Megan Likes Books -The Keeper of the Stones
4. Erica @ Ink Spots And Roses – Warriors of the Heynai
5. Rebecca @ Kindle Fever – Covert Dreams

RCC Challenge #4: Mysterious Meetup

Hello everyone! Here’s my own entry for the fourth Review Copy Cleanup challenge. So, the task this week was to tell you about my favourite book character – in other words, I had to pick a fictional character who I’d like to meet and tell you why and what I’d ask him/her.

This is actually pretty easy for me, although I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one person only. *cough* Celine *cough* is this cheating? I hope not. Ahem. Anyway, I’m having a hard time here because there are so many characters I love that it’s just impossible to choose. What I’ll do instead is show you my top 3 list. Sounds okay? Let’s see.

#1: Hercule Poirot (from Agatha Christie’s novels)

Okay, here’s the thing. When I started reading Christie’s books about 6-7 years ago, I didn’t really like him and I kept saying how arrogant he was and that I preferred Miss Marple. Then, something happened and I started to enjoy the Poirot stories more and more and now I’d pick him over Marple any time, he’s brilliant. And what would I ask him about? I’d ask him to take me on as his mentee and teach me how to exercise my “little grey cells”. (And maybe beg him to take me to his next investigation – that would be fantastic!) *dreamy look* Can you tell I’m a tiny bit obsessed with Agatha Christie? Ahahaha :)

#2 Severus Snape (from J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter series)

Here’s another funny story. When I first picked up book #1 in the HP series, Snape instantly became my favourite character. I don’t know why, maybe it was his mysteriousness or the fact that he didn’t seem to like Harry (I wasn’t the biggest Harry fan myself), I don’t know. But the funniest thing was that when the film came out, I realized that Snape was played by one of my all time favourite actors, Alan Rickman. Coincidence? So anyway, I adore both Snape as a character and of course Alan – he’s flipping brilliant. And his voice is just gorgeous. I don’t even care that he’s almost 70… So if I met him, I would probably have a hard time concentrating… let alone ask him anything. Ha! (: I would probably ask him to talk to me so that I could listen to his voice all day long. *fangirl rant over*

#3 Mark Darcy (from Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Bridget Jones’s Diary is STILL one of my all time favourite books – I adore almost everyone in that book but Mark Darcy is definitely my favourite. If you’ve read the book (or seen the film – mind you, they are totally different), you know how gorgeous he is so I won’t go into details. (: If I met him, I’d ask him to forget Bridget and marry me. :D If he said no, I’d ask him – and Bridget too, because I like both of them – to be my friend. They’d be the coolest friends ever.

Who would you guys like to meet? :) Feel free to leave me a link to your own posts so that I can visit you and check out your pick!