Wednesday 20 September 2017

Book Promo - Swan Song

Book synopsis

When iconic ballerina Beatrice Duvall died, a nation mourned – and a legacy was born. Sixteen years later, her daughter Ava comes to London to take part in a high-profile tribute to Beatrice, and to learn about the mother she never knew.
There’s just one snag: the tribute is a ballet, Swan Lake. Which is infinitely painful for Ava, because she can’t dance. Won’t dance. Not since she quit the Royal Ballet School last year and walked away from everything that defined her.
But this is London, colourful and crazy, and with actor Seb at her side, there’s so much to discover. Like Theatreland razzmatazz and rooftop picnics and flamingo parties. And a whole load of truths Ava never knew about her mother – and herself.
When the time comes to take the stage, will Ava step out of the shadow cast by her mother’s pedestal? And who will be waiting for her there, in the bright lights?
A coming-of-age novel about family and first love, in the city of hopes and dreams.

Book link

Author bio

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess. ‘Write, Charlotte,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Charlotte writes the kind of books she loves to read: romances. She lives in a village of Greater Manchester with her husband and two children, and when she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, baking up a storm or embarking on a DIY project. She recently achieved a lifetime ambition of creating a home library for her ever-increasing collection of books. She pretends not to notice that the shelves are rather wonky.

Mini interview

What is the inspiration for the story?
A kaleidoscope of ideas… Memories of performing on stage. The years I lived in Kensington, London. The many shows I’ve seen in the West End. A backstage tour of the Royal Opera House. The public reaction to Princess Diana’s death. My own experience of losing my mother.
What draws you to this genre?
Young adult: the time of life that most signifies discovery and sensation and freedom. Dreaming big; confronting reality. Being trendy; being quirky and out of step. Messing up gloriously; succeeding epically. First crush, first kiss, first love. Making memories that will last a lifetime.
Why do you write?
Because writing makes the blood sing in my veins; it makes me feel alive; it defines me. Because I’m a bibliophile, and the only thing better than having a book in my hand is having my own book in my hand. Because I want to entertain, inspire – and leave a legacy for my children.

Author links

Book extract

The Tube from Turnham Green is quiet, until we reach Earl’s Court, where it starts filling up. By the time we get to Victoria I’m in a scrum spilling out onto the platform. I find the Victoria Line platform and shoe-horn myself into a carriage; Seb would be proud of my elbow action.
At Oxford Circus I’m carried by a sea of shoppers up the escalators, across the foyer and up some steps to the street level. I’ve managed to come out the right exit, opposite the flagship Topshop. The massive store calls to me. Now that’s where to buy a dress for the tribute. Simple and trendy. I dread to think what Thisbe’s wardrobe department contact is going to make me. Something showbiz, I guess: long and loud and sparkly. Ugh.
But I don’t want to offend Thisbe, who’s called in a favour, apparently, to get me a dress sewn so quickly. So, with a sigh, I turn my back on Topshop and trudge down Argyll Street. When I see the Palladium, like a classical temple with massive columns, my mood lifts. At least I’m getting to visit one of London’s most historic theatres, where anyone who’s anyone has performed over the years, from Elvis Presley to Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald, Elton to Adele – even The Muppets have taken to this stage. I wonder: will I get to stand on the stage?
Nope, is the answer. I don’t even see the auditorium. A security guard shows me from the foyer down into the underbelly of the theatre, to a small, windowless room made even smaller by its many contents: two dressmaker’s dummies, a hanging rail of costumes, shelves of fabric and haberdashery, and a desk for the sewing machine. I barely have time to make a mental comparison of this room and the wardrobe department at the Royal Opera House – in a big room overlooking the Piazza and flooded with light – before a girl springs out from behind one of the dummies and hugs me.
Hugs me?
Thankfully, it’s brief. She steps back and beams. I smile back automatically, and in a second I take her in: round, rosy face, electric-blue eyes, dark wavy hair. She’s a little older than me, maybe twenty, and wearing stylish jeans and a really unusual shirt covered with little embroidered seahorses.
“You’re Cara Cavendish?” I say, daring to hope that maybe my dress won’t end up being horrendously glitzy after all.
“The one and only,” she says cheerfully. “And you’re Ava-who-needs-a-dress. Thisbe explained. Sit, sit…” She pulls out a little stool from under the desk and I perch on it.
Cara walks around me in a circle, eying me up and down. “Easy-peasy,” she declares. “Dancers’ forms are so simple to dress.”
“Oh,” I say. “I’m not a dancer.”
She completes her circuit and leans on the desk, looking curiously at me. “But you’re Beatrice Duvall’s daughter,” she says.
The name gives me a jolt, but I manage to reply evenly: “That doesn’t make me a dancer.”
“’Course not,” says Cara. “I mean, my mum was an architect, and look at me! But I heard you were training to be a dancer like your mother. With the Royal Ballet.”
“I was. I… stopped.”
“Oh. Why was that then?”
I frown at Cara. She smiles back at me.
“Did Thisbe put you up to this?” I ask.
“Up to what?”
“All the questions.”
“Oh, no. That’s just me. My brother’s always telling me I’m blunt, because I don’t go in for all that evasive British crap – ignoring the elephant in the room. Better to lay it all out there and say, ‘My mum’s dead, and it sucks.’ You know?”
“Not really,” I reply honestly. I’ve never said those words in my life.
Cara nods like I’ve said something profound. Then, to my relief, she claps her hands and says, “Let’s talk dresses.”
After a quick-fire round of questions designed to establish my style, Cara hands me a scrapbook in which she’s pasted cuttings, photos and drawings of formal dresses, and she talks me through cuts, lengths, necks, sleeves and fabrics. Somewhere around the midi dress page I begin to come undone.
“What is it?” she says.
“Nothing,” I say.
“Something,” she says. “You look like you’re about to have a panic attack. Is it claustrophobia? This room is a little dinky.”
“It’s not that. It’s...”
She waits expectantly. I gesture to the scrapbook.
“It’s just all a bit real, suddenly, looking at these dresses. I mean, I’ve got to wear one and stand on a stage at the Royal Opera House in front of people. Lots of people.”
“Ah,” she says. “Yeah, I’d be a wreck doing that. But you’ve performed on stage before, right?”
“Sure. Plenty of times. But this isn’t a performance. I have to be myself. I mean…”
“You mean you have to be your mother’s daughter. And your mother was the legendary Beatrice Duvall.”
Startled, I nod. She gets it. I don’t even know this girl, but she gets it.
“So,” Cara says, plucking the scrapbook off my lap and leafing through the pages, “what you need, besides the strength to get on that stage, is a really kick-ass dress. A dress that makes you feel tall and powerful and goddam beautiful, like nothing can touch you while you’re wearing it. Ah-ha. Here. This one. What do you think?”
The dress illustration jumps right off the page. It’s bold, it’s simple, it’s glamorous, it shouts “designer”: a strapless bodice with criss-crossing satin ribbons and a flowing skirt with chiffon overskirt ending just on the knee.
“Wow,” I say. “You can make that? In time?”
She grins. “Hell yeah.”
“And you think I can pull that off?”
Her grin widens. “Hell yeah.”

Thursday 14 September 2017

Book Review - Forever Geek

Title: Forever Geek
Author: Holly Smale
Series: Geek Girl  (Book 6)
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Release Date: 27 July 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0007574667

My name is Harriet Manners and I’ll be a geek forever…
Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.
Modelling isn’t a sure-fire route to popularity. Neither is making endless lists. The people you love don’t expect you to transform into someone else. Statistically, you are more likely to not meet your Australian ex-boyfriend in Australia than bump into him there.
So on the trip of a lifetime Down Under Harriet’s to-do lists are gone and it’s Nat’s time to shine! Yet with nearly-not-quite-boyfriend Jasper back home, Harriet’s completely unprepared to see supermodel ex Nick. Is the fashion world about to turn ugly for GEEK GIRL?
It’s time for Harriet to face the future. Time to work out where her heart lies. To learn how to let go…

My Review
I love the Geek Girl books and couldn't wait to find out where it went and how it all ends. I put off reading this for a while as I knew it was the last in the series and I didn't want it to be over. I did however read it about a month ago and have been meaning to review it ever since, so I'm hoping I can do it justice from memory.
The book continues pretty much where book 5 left off, Harriet is travelling to Australia but this time she won't be on her own, she is going with her best friend Nat and her awesome grandma Bunty. You know it's going to be an exciting trip but there is one thing making Harriet more nervous than usual - her ex Nick is from Australia and yes it's a big country but knowing her luck they are bound to run into each other - but is Harriet ready for that?
I loved that Nat was along for the trip, I think she's a great character and I love that we got to see more of her and see Harriet and her friendship grow, change and adapt. 
I won't include many spoilers but the scene in the hedge maze photo shoot was lovely and really stuck in my mind. The imagery and expressive writing really made it come alive off the page. 
This book shows Harriet finally growing up and coming to terms with what she wants and what she expects, both from herself and from those around her. There are loads of cool facts and funny scenarios and every bit of charm that we have come to love from Harriet. If a series has to end, I'm glad it ended like this. Totally refreshing, moving, funny and sad, it really was a wonderful installment in Harriet's life.
If you haven't read the series, start at the beginning and work your way through, you certainly won't regret it.

My Rating

Book Review - The Dark Prophecy

Title: The Dark Prophecy
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo (Book 2)
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 2 May 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0141363950

The god Apollo, cast down to earth and trapped in the form of a gawky teenage boy as punishment, must set off on the second of his harrowing (and hilarious) trials.
 He and his companions seek the ancient oracles - restoring them is the only way for Apollo to reclaim his place on Mount Olympus - but this is easier said than done.
 Somewhere in the American Midwest is a haunted cave that may hold answers for Apollo in his quest to become a god again . . . if it doesn't kill him or drive him insane first. Standing in Apollo's way is the second member of the evil Triumvirate - a Roman emperor whose love of bloodshed and spectacle makes even Nero look tame.
 To survive the encounter, Apollo will need the help of a now-mortal goddess, a bronze dragon, and some familiar demigod faces from Camp Half-Blood. With them by his side, can Apollo face down the greatest challenge of his four thousand years of existence?

My Review
I have been a fan of the Percy Jackson world for years and always look out for the next installment. I wasn't blown away by book 1 (The Hidden Oracle) but I enjoyed it and thought it had good premise so I was looking forward to seeing where Apollo would end up next.
Apollo is supposed to be egotistical and rather irritating but I found he started to grate on me a bit, I wanted to tell him to be quiet and focus on those around him for once. If he wasn't so cocky things would get done a lot quicker. He also tells a lot of bad jokes and stories that i don't find funny, they just annoyed me. However, there were parts of the book that I really enjoyed, I loved the secret hideout and those inside, a whole hidden society - though limited and low on numbers, the characters all had different and interesting personalities. The inclusion of the Griffins was awesome, i found myself wanting to pet one and maybe fly one if it would let me. 
I enjoyed learning more about Meg's background, it was nice for the focus to shift to her and it does make you feel for her, she is a strong character and I would like to see more of her. I also enjoyed that the focus shifted away from Apollo and onto Leo and Calypso, they make a great couple and in a way I love that their relationship isn't easy, they have arguments and spats and don't always want to be with each other yet they seem to be able to work things out. It makes it more realistic. 
There were a lot of exciting moments in the book that have you turning the pages quickly, and overall the book is enjoyable, but I do wish Apolllo would grow up a bit or maybe take more of a back seat - however as the series is the 'trails of Apollo' I doubt that will happen, but at least he will always have his friends there to save his skin. 
I will definitely keep reading the series out of curiosity but it doesn't match up to the original Percy Jackson's

My Rating