Archive for July, 2013

All Our Yesterdays

Cristin Terrill
all our yesterdaysA brilliantly brain-warping thriller and a love story that leaps back and forth in time – All Our Yesterdays is an amazing first novel, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games.
Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.
Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

Every now and then bibliophiles like myself come across a book which inspires so much adoration that not only do they find themselves zealously recommending it to all of their friends (and strangers in book shops), but they find themselves envious of all those people who have yet to read it.

The theme of my reading experience can be summarized as torn; torn between racing thought the pages to discover the fate of this amazing cast of characters, while simultaneously feeling like I should slow down and savour every single page (with the knowledge that I would feel bereft when I came to the end of their story); torn between equally rooting for two groups of characters, from two different time periods with opposite agendas; and having finished the book and learning of the plan sequel, torn between my fear of spoiling the perfect reading experience and my desire for MORE, MORE, MORE.

And I really do mean experience. All Our Yesterdays isn’t simply a fantastic read, it is a breathtaking time twisting experience, with stomach fluttering romance, heart pounding action, breath catching tension, flawed hero’s and sinister villains.

I’ve racked my brains for a clever way of telling you more about All Our Yesterday’s without giving away any of the significant plot. But what I’ve realised is that with regards to this book, every single plot point, every twist, every character interaction was essential to my experience, and I am loathed to take anything away from yours.
Therefore I am going to leave you with the blurb above and urge you to read this fabulous novel.

Verdict: Perfection. Quite simply the best book I have read this year!

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: August 2013
Format: ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Speculative fiction, Time travel
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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New Adult Read-a-thon: Wrap Up Post

NAReadathon1The 2013 New Adult Read-a-thon is complete!

At the start of the week I set myself some personal targets for the week. They were:

To participate in my first read-a-thon
lol well of course this one is a given! When it comes to lists I am a bit of a cheat and I do like to have a few easy tasks I can complete and quickly cross off my list.

To Make a (however small) dent in my New Adult TBR pile by reading least 3 books

I am really pleased that I managed to read four books and a novella.

1. Breathe by Abbi Glines

2. Uncharted by Tracey Garvis

Read my thoughts on Breathe and Uncharted (here)

3. Faking It by Cora Cormack
Having loved Cora’s debut novel, Losing It, I had high expectations for Faking It. I am glad to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

I admit that while I wasn’t won over by Cade when I read Losing It, I absolutely fell for him in Faking It. In fact I found I was rooting for him from his very first chapter. It was so refreshing to read a book about the “good guy” getting his girl.

Faking it was written in the fun, flirty and hilarious style I admired in Losing It, cementing Cora Cormack’s place on my automatic read list. In fact I have already preordered Keeping Her, a Losing It novella (ebook), and Finding it the third and final, full length book in the Losing It series.

4. One week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy
I discovering the book via NA Alley’s Crush Tourney (Learn more about it here) and immediately downloaded it. Despite having only finished Faking, a book with a very similar premise, the day before, I found that I throughly enjoyed One Week Girlfriend. One Week Girlfriend was definitely darker than Faking it but not nearly as angst ridden as other NA books I have read. I loved Fable and Drew as a couple and how they were both so open about their feelings for each other. Also, who can resist a man that writes poetry? Not me.

One Week Girlfriend is currently available from Amazon for just 38p! I urge you to give it a try however, be warned that OWG does end on a bit of a cliffhanger which will have you immediately reaching for the sequel( which thankfully is also reasonably priced).Hense my fifth book of the week:

5. Second Chance Boyfriend by Monica Murphy
I have to apologise the the rest of my New Adult TBR list for being pushed aside, but when I finished reading reading OWG I just had to find out how Drew and Fable’s story worked out. In fact despite the late hour I finished OWG I could resist reading the first few chapters of Second Chance Boyfriend. In fact I managed to read both books in just over 24hrs!

To discover 3 new authors
Monica Murphy (see above) was a new author to me at the start of the read-athon.
During the course of the week while visiting other blogs, participating in challenges and the twitter chat I added a lot of new NA titles to my wish list and TBR piles. These included:

Hope Breaks: A New Adult Romantic Comedy by Alice Bello– eBook currently free on amazon

Lick by Kylie Scott

and Stitch by Samantha Durante

Visit at least 3 other blogs participating in the read-a-thon
I visited all of the blogs that had signed up to the read-a-thon. I even managed to comment on some!

Participate in at least one of the other read-a-thon challenge and one twitter chat

The #NARead twitter chat was really interesting (read the full chat here) topics of discussion included; What is NA? Sex in NA and the predominance of contemporary heterosexual romance.

I entered one mini challenge over at Smoking Hot Books (visit SHB here),creating a Twitter profile for Jax from Breathe.
I wrote:
Jax Stone
@NotMadeOfStone

Official twitter account of Jax Stone; musician, singer and songwriter.
Don’t Cry available to download now from iTunes

Sea Breeze. Alabama

jaxstone.com

I really enjoyed taking part in the read-a-thon and I would definitely consider sign up for another week long challenge in the future.

Pruedence wanted me to let you all know that unfortunately due to a crazy work schedule she was unable to fulfil her aims for the challenge. She did however read Breathe by Abbi Glines and is about half way through Frigid by J Lynn.

Posted by Caroline

click on the book title to be taken to the relevant goodreads page.

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Otter Chaos!

Michael Broad

otter chaosThe otterly bonkers Brown family are HUGELY excited, as today’s the day they move to their new home. But when they get there they find the beastly Black family have got there first!
This riverbank ain’t big enough for the both of them, so there’s only one thing for it: war. Well, not REAL war. Otters are more into playing than fighting, so instead they decide to hold a giant sports day – and may the best otters win! Whether that’s the Browns or the Blacks, only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, it’s bound to be OTTER CHAOS!

I love this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I love animals anyway so reading a story about them is great!

This book is amazing. When the Brown family, a family of Otter’s decide their house is getting too small for them, Papa Brown, Mama Brown, Grandma Maple, Grandpa Brown, Cocoa, Beanie, Woody, Chestnut and Nutmeg (The twins), decide to move to a bigger, better house only to find another otter family (their arch enemies) were already living there. The only way to settle the dispute over who lives there was an ‘Otterly’ chaotic sports day!

I don’t want to give it away but an act of surprising kindness by Woody cost the Brown’s the victory.
This is a surprising book with a twist at the end. I really like Jim Field’s illustrations too. I’m looking forward to the next book Otter Chaos – Dam Busters.

Verdict: I love this book and think this book is for boys and girls aged 7 to 12 .

Reviewed by Izzy (9)

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: Children’s, Humour, animals
Age: Early Reader
Reviewer: Izzy
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British Book
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Novel Nibbles: What-Happy-Looks-Like Pies

happy cover artIf fate sent you an email, would you answer?
In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith’s new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O’Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don’t even know each other’s first names.
Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don’t tell each other everything; Graham doesn’t know the major secret hidden in Ellie’s family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.
When the location for the shoot of Graham’s new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie’s mom want her to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

I loved Jennifer E. Smith’s This is What Happy looks like (read my review here). In the process of fulfilling my craving for the perfect romantic summer read, Smith created a equally demanding craving for the frosting filled, cake/cookie goodness of Whoopie Pies.

The quest for these sweet treats (the official state treat of Maine), provide an interesting background to the developing relationship between Ellie and Graham.

Ellie gave him a sideways glance. “We’re on a quest”, she said, as if it were obvious.
“A quest,”he repeated.”I like that.”
“Like Dorothy trying to find her way home again.”
“Or Ahab looking for the white Whale.”
“Exactly”, she said. “Only we’re on the hunt for Whoopie pies.”
“Aha,” Graham said, looking pleased. “So you’re a believer now.”
She shook her head.”I’m still skeptical. But if there’s anywhere that would have them, it would be this place.”

To satisfy my Whoopie craving I visited the BBC Food pages and followed this simple Chocolate Whoopie Pie recipe by Simon Rimmer (click here to be taken to the recipe).

 

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The pies were absolutely delicious. I loved Rimmers use of marshmallows in exchange for a more complicated frosting recipe. I will definitely use this recipe again.

Baked and taste tested by Caroline

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NA Readathon Mini Challenge

Welcome to our INTERNATIONAL mini challenge for the New Adult Read-a-thon!

photo-34Re-imagine, Redesign or Recreate Your favourite New Adult cover for the chance to win Three signed New Adult books.
One randomly selected entrant will receive:
One paperback copy of Losing It signed by author Cora Carmack
One paperback copy of Faking It signed by author Cora Carmack
One Paperback copy of Beautiful Disaster signed by author Jamie McGuire

Caroline's coverreimagine-2 <------Look what happens when you let Caroline and Faye (visit A Daydreamer’s Thoughts here)
loose with sissors and glitter glue! Very different from the original.

To take part in our mini challenge simply:

1. Sign up for the New Adult Read-A-Thon (here).

2. Re-create, Reimagine or redesign a New Adult cover of your choice. Using your chosen medium ie, graphics packages, photography, arts and crafts.

3. Post a picture of your artwork on to your Blog/ Twitter/ Facebook page etc, making a note of the URL

4. On Saturday the 27th of July complete the Big Book Little Book’s NA Mini Challenge rafflecopter form ensuring you provide both the links for your read-a-thon sign up post/status and posted artwork.

5. Like/Follow/Tweet the challenge for extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Getting To Know…Daisy

Daisy is 12 and has just completed her first year at secondary school. She likes all types of music, especially jazz, and she plays the piano. Daisy owns a guinea pig called Patrick and she loves reading. Her parents are more likely to find her with her nose in a book rather than doing something vital like getting dressed in the morning. She loves the ‘How to Train your Dragon’ series by Cressida Cowell and likes other authors such as: Eva Ibottson, Kate Di Camillo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Bond.
What have you enjoyed the most about blogging over the past year? Reading books that I wouldn’t usually pick up, the ones I don’t usually go for.

What was your favorite read of the last 12 months?
Probably the Hunger games- A-maz-ing!

What makes the perfect beach/holiday read?
Ooh definitely Jinx by Meg Cabot

What book are you most anticipating reading over the summer?
Slumber Party Wars by Melanie Marks is ready and waiting on my kindle!

Describe your bookshelf/TBR pile.
Pretty much anywhere I can find space. I’m thinking of starting a library! All I can say is I’m glad Kindles store a whole lot of space.

Where is your Favourite place to read?
My bed, definitely, who doesn’t?

What book have you enjoyed sharing with /recommended to your friends?
Ooh that’s a hard one! Probably Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins but lots of people love them already!
Mental note: READ BOOK THREE!!!

A favourite blog/forum/website you would like to recommend to our readers? Why?
I’m still faithful to Big Book Little Book!

And because we ask our visiting authors- Just For Fun

Tea or Coffee? Neither but I guess you’re not asking that…

Slippers or barefoot? Slippers, definatly

Shower or Bath? Showers

Marmite: Love it? Hate it? Love it!

Email or postcard? Email, honestly I’m 21st century!

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New Adult Read-a-thon: Update

NAReadathon1This week is just flying by!

I can’t believe that we are already day three in to this week long New Adult Read-a-thon.

If you would like to get involved in the read-a-thon, take part in the many read-a-thon activities and be eligible to win some fabulous New Adult books you can sign up throughout the week (here)

Click on the title to learn more about each book.

Caroline

Currently Reading: Between books

Completed: Uncharted (On The Island 1.5) by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Impressions:Uncharted is the companion novella to Tracy Garvis’ On the Island.
For a novella, Garvis managed to pack in quiet a story. Told from multiple points of view and from two time lines, Uncharted tells the story of dot.com Millionaire Owen Sparks. It was interesting to read the perspective of someone who had chosen to inhabit the island While Anna and TJ’s experience of the island was all about their survival, For Owen the island was an escape, a break from civilisation. A place of unique exotic beauty and a sanctuary. However all good things must come to an end and the mystery surrounding “Bones” is finally revealed.

I adored the unconventional relationship between TJ and Anna in On The Island and It was a real treat to be able to pop back in to their lives, see how they were getting on and witness their “closure” of their time on the island.

Garvis-Graves Island series is a wonderful place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there!

Completed: Breathe ( Sea Breeze 1) by Abbi Glines (New Adult edition)
Impressions: I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive that this new “sexed up” version wouldn’t live up to my memories of the original. The first time I read Breathe( incidentally my first ever Abbi Glines novel) I was struck by its sweetness and I just wanted to pull the protagonists in to a big group hug and protect them from the big bad world. I think that my (re)reading this in a single sitting is testament to the fact that Breathe has lost nothing following its new adult makeover.

Jax’s point of view was a wonderful addition to the story. I loved the small insights in to his thoughts and feelings as he fell for Sadie and fought the obstacles to their relationship.

Abbi’s trademark,hot flush inducing, steaminess was a tantalising treat. The additional adult content merged seamlessly with the original story. I never felt like the scenes were forced or added for impact alone. Despite the adult content, Glines managed to maintain Sadie’s sweetness and innocence.

Next Read: I’m planning to start Cora Cormack’s Faking It tonight

Pruedence

Currently Reading: Breathe by Abbi Glines

Page: not sure but I’m 28% on kindle :p

Impressions: So far I’m enjoying the small subtle additions between the two books but I expect Abbi has more in store for me lol

Next Read: Well I’m not entirely sure but Frigid by J.Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout) just might be my next go to read :p

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Getting To Know…Pruedence

photo-32Pruedence is a fulltime healthcare professional. In her own private environment she’s a book addict. Her drug-books of choice ranges from Young Adult, New Adult, Adult, to the occasional Middlegrade covering a variety of genres.
When not at work she can be found curled up in just about any comfortable location indoors or outdoors with her trusty ipadmini-kindle or paperbook, with Ludovico Einaudi’s classical music playing in the background lulling her into a place free from space and time. And if you look carefully you will also always spot a giant mug of tea within reaching distance so that the least amount of disturbance is brought to her reading by movement.
She is a very firm believer of C.S. Lewis’s saying “You can’t get a cup of tea big enough book long enough to suit me”

What have you enjoyed the most about blogging over the past year?

In all honesty there isn’t just one particular aspect that I’ve enjoyed. It’s all so much fun and adventurous! But if I had to narrow it down I would have to say that I have found the support from the community of bloggers, readers and publishers has been truly wonderful, and has kept me going through fun times and low times.

What was your favorite read of the last 12 months?

Aaaaargh! The most dreaded question by all book lovers and bloggers alike. Do I really have to choose? Really really? Urgh! Fiiiine! Well if I did have to narrow it down to one (from my selection of I don’t know how many) I would probably go for Easy by Tammara Webber. I must have read it every day for about 2 weeks after my first encounter with it. I completely fell in love and now own 2 copies of it ^_^

What makes the perfect beach/holiday read?

Ummmmm if I can turn the pages digitally or in reality and it has a good story I’m good to go :p

What book are you most anticipating reading over the summer?

Well I will be re-exploring (if I ever get the time) most of my old faithful reads. Easy by Tammara Webber will be one of them and I’m hoping to re-read the Inescapable series by Amy Bartol too. But the one I am anxiously and nail bitingly itching to read as soon as it is published, has got to be Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout! Those deliciously aggravating aliens are doing my head in I just NEED to know what happens next!!!

Describe your bookshelf/TBR pile.

Well I’m a book worm or more accurately I’m a library mouse and my TBR is forever growing and I am finally starting to accept the concept that it will never disappear. Diminish yes, vanish no. I’d say it’s about spread fifty fifty between my faithful kindle and book shelves. What can I say a girl has to be book smart and always have a back up lol
I have no say in the kindle stacking 🙁 But at home I lack space on the shelves to let my true inner OCD book freak escape. So instead they’re shelved from all time favourites and reads that I got to time and time again. To the more recent and still unexplored books awaiting to be devoured.

How do you make time to read?

You mean aside from plotting and attempting to devise a machine that will add hours to the day? Or trying to finally invent time travel? :p

I always make time to read. Reading is a means of escape, adventure and leading a life in someone else’s shoes for even just a few minutes. And who doesn’t want to escape their own life almost everyday lol So be it in the late hours of the night, in garden soaking up some now finally present sun or just a few minutes on my lunch break at work I always make time 🙂

Where is your Favourite place to read?

Curled up under a blanket, with the biggest cup of tea you have ever seen, with a roaring fire. The rest of the world could fall into chaos and I wouldn’t notice. Unless books stopped being written. Then I would definitely notice. And then the chaos would look tame compared to a book deprived book worm. Just saying :p

A favourite blog/forum/website you would like to recommend to our readers? Why?

There are a lot of reader blogs and forums around but one of my favourite haunts has got to be Read and Repeat(Click here to see for yourself). The lovely Kerrie who runs it, is always honest and refreshing in her choices and opinions. She is also the source of suggestion of some of my now most favourite reads such as Easy by Tammara Webber and Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

And because we ask our visiting authors- Just For Fun

Tea or Coffee?

Tea all the way! In the biggest mug you can find!!!!

Slippers or barefoot?

Ummmm why would I care what I have on my feet. I’ll be reading so my feet should be up :p But seeing as you asked: slippers. Big
fluffy comfy slippers!

Shower or Bath?

Bath. With candles, and music and the most important thing of all an amazing book to read. Oh and dead bolt on the door so that I cannot be disturbed. Ever.

Marmite: Love it? Hate it?

Love it!!! As long as it doesn’t end up on my books.

Email or postcard?

Postcard :p

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The Dead Girls Detective Agency: Book Extract

Thanks to those lovely people at Much-In-Little, we are able to share a significant look at Suzy Cox‘s Debut novel; The Dead Girls Detective agency.

dead girls detectiveBeing told you’re dead is one thing. But having to solve your own murder? It’s a lot for a girl to take in. Solving the mystery behind your death can be murder.
Charlotte wakes up at Hotel Atessa, home to murdered New York teenagers and HQ of The Dead Girls Detective Agency. Before she has time to adjust to her new, erm, dead self, she’s thrust into the arms of her new afterlife companions, Lorna, Nancy and the cute – if slightly hostile – dead boy, Eddison.
But where does this leave Charlotte and her boyfriend David? Is it possible to have a long-distance relationship from beyond the grave? The only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed her, or she’ll have to spend eternity here. But who could hate her enough to want her dead?

I looked down at my body. Nope, it was the same as always. I hadn’t imagined myself with train-track marks or anything. Instead I was sitting, all nice and comfortable, on this big, black, squishy leather couch in this hotel lobby.

‘This is a very confusing time. I know that. Which is why I’m here to help you all I can. I’m Nancy, by the way. Nancy Radley. I’m dead too.’

The girl held out her hand. And because I had no better plan of action right then, I smiled and took it. She was super-polite for a figment of my imagination.

‘Now, I think the best way to get you acclimated to the situation is to just throw you in at the deep end. Tell you everything you need to know in one go, then you can absorb it at your own rate.’

Acclimated? Absorb? Dead Girl Nancy must have been working her way through the SAT word list before she
‘died.’

‘Sure.’ I smiled serenely and stood up to follow. I just hoped I’d remember all this when I woke up. David would get a total kick out of my imaginary friend.

‘Come on then, let’s get you up to your room. I’ll fill you in on the way.’

Ha! Here we go. This was totally not right.

‘Room?’ I asked. In what underworld would a ghost actually need a room? This was so dumb. I just wanted to wake up, call David, and dry out Mom’s boots before she realized they were missing. Nancy looked at me with a little smile.

‘Well, to be honest you don’t need a room,’ she said. ‘After all, ghosts don’t sleep. But we figured, seeing as we’ve got this hotel, and there are rooms here, why not give them to people when they arrive? You had a room while you were alive, right? So we give you one when you’re newly dead. We think it makes the transition from that life to this one feel a little less weird. Well, we hope it does.’

‘We? So you’re not alone?’ Jeez, my imagination must be doing overtime. I’d not just dream-invented one ghost but a whole bunch of them.

‘Yes, of course. You’ll meet the others later.’ She opened a door and led me into an elevator. Which also seemed a little stupid. If I were a ghost, surely I’d be able to walk through walls? I tried pinching my arm.

‘Right now you are in the Hotel Attesa, just off Washington Square in New York City,’ Nancy explained. ‘It’s right next to a regular old human hotel. Of course, the Living can’t see the Hotel Attesa, only we can. Otherwise you’d get all these ghost hunters popping in with their electromagnetic detectors or PKE meters or whatever other crap they saw in Ghostbusters trying to prove we exist. Which is the last thing we want – especially when we’ve got such important work to do.’ I pinched again. And again. Nope, still not awake.

Ping! The elevator stopped and Nancy led me down a red-carpeted corridor. I couldn’t help but think that, if I were conscious and this hotel didn’t just exist in my dream, it was exactly the kind of place I’d love to stay in. If my parents didn’t think hotels were ‘a complete waste of our money,’ that is. It was super-classy, old yet pristine.

Nancy opened the door and the room inside was even more gorgeous than the lobby – white walls, antique lights, prints of old Hollywood movie stars in sleek black frames, a sink-into-me bed and floor-to-ceiling windows on one wall. I walked over to the windows, which looked out on Fifth Avenue and the Empire State Building. Wow. Nice imaginary view.

‘Don’t get too excited by the location,’ a high-pitched voice said. I turned around to see a blonde girl standing über-close to me. Another ghost? Awesome. This one was like something from an Abercrombie ad, all glowing skin, Mac-counter makeup, and perfect hair. She wouldn’t look out of place in one of those frames on the wall.

‘Want to know the suckiest thing about the afterlife?’ she asked. ‘It’s all look, look, look, but don’t touch. Like,
there’s all this on our doorstep . . .’ She motioned to the streets below. ‘And us? We can’t even enjoy it.’ She leaned on the window so closely she would have left abreath mark. If she was still breathing, that is. ‘I’m Lorna
by the way.’

This was getting ridiculous. ‘What are you talking about?’ I asked. ‘Oh, Nancy didn’t tell you that little Rule yet? It’s a bummer. Totally and utterly hideous. I mean, there are some great things about being dead: no eating equals no dieting. No more split ends or breakouts. Of course, style-wise, death sucks. The rule is that we ghosts have to spend all our time in whatever outfit we died in. Which as you can see, for me, is a baby-blue Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer ’06 dress. Not a bad choice. I mean, I’d totally be seen dead in it. It’s just that I’ll never get to wear anything else. Ever.’

I looked down at my outfit and saw my gross school uniform: a blue-and-yellow plaid skirt, white shirt, my navy blazer . . . and Mom’s DVF heels. Wouldn’t my favorite Seven jeans and Converse have been more eternity appropriate?

I smiled politely, all the while pinching my arm like a crazy person. Like the worst thing about being dead would be the limited clothing decisions. What about missing your family or your friends or, I don’t know, being alive? Then, on the eighteenth pinch, something in my brain clicked. A memory broke through. When I was on the platform, right before I opened my eyes here in the hotel, I felt something. What was it? A push. In my lower back. So hard I lost my balance. Then there was that scream. And the heat. And then I was here. What if this wasn’t a dream? What if I had been pushed? Right onto the tracks and under the F train. What if . . . what if, like Nancy said, I was dead?

Shut up, Charlotte, I told myself, stepping backward and landing awkwardly on the bed. I mean, come on. There was no tunnel with bright lights at the end, no big pearly gate, no old bearded guy welcoming me in. I held up my hand to the light – I couldn’t suddenly see through it. I hadn’t turned into Casper or anything. ‘So what else do I need to know?’ I asked, trying to play along and make sense of whatever was happening. Maybe this was some elaborate practical joke. ‘I mean, this whole hotel thing is nice and all, but I always thought heaven would be more sitting on a cloud with unlimited Ben and Jerry’s and less downtown fancy hotel.’

‘Sorry, sorry,’ Nancy said, turning her attention back to me. ‘I was getting to that. So here’s the deal.’ She sat on the bed beside me and gave me another of her re – assuring smiles. Worrying, I realized that she had the air of someone who had done this before. A lot.

‘When teenagers die in mysterious circumstances – like you being pushed under that train – they don’t pass straight over to the Other Side, as people do when it’s their natural time to go. Instead, in New York, they come here, to Hotel Attesa—’

‘It’s kinda like a waiting room,’ Lorna interrupted.

‘But adults, they go to this other hotel uptown. It’s, like, way nicer because it’s more modern and it’s nearer the park and whoever decorated it did this thing with pink paint and . . .’

‘Lorna! Be quiet?’ Nancy glared at her friend. Note to self, do not cut Nancy off mid-sentence. ‘While you’re here, you’re stuck. You can’t go over to the Other Side until you’ve worked out who killed you and why. Basically, you need to set things straight before you can move on. And we – me, Lorna, and Tess —’

‘Yes, you so need to meet Tess,’ said Lorna.

‘And Tess.’ Nancy ignored her this time. ‘We’re here too, trying to help out those who come in because, you know, then they might get to the Other Side faster.’

‘Nancy calls us the Dead Girls Detective Agency,’ Lorna said, smoothing down her skirt. ‘And she’s actually proud of it.’

I tried to focus. Maybe, just maybe, if this actually was some big, stupid, fainty dream, if I solved my murder, I’d wake up. Like, it was a coma and not a dream. Ohmigod, if I was in a coma my mom was going to freak. And she was going to know I stole her boots.

‘So this Other Side,’ I said, trying to stay calm. ‘If we figure out who killed me, how do I get there?’

‘Through the Big Red Door,’ said a new voice behind me. I spun around to see a brunette standing in the doorway. She was not channeling Nancy’s reassuring smile or the kindness in Lorna’s eyes. Instead she looked bored. As if she’d been here a million times before and couldn’t care less. I wondered how long she’d been standing there, just listening.

‘That’s Tess,’ Lorna said, checking out her cuticles.

‘She’s been here the longest of all of us girls. Tess is the best, but she can be kind of . . .’

Nancy shot Lorna another look and gave me an eye roll. ‘Subtle, Lorna.’

‘I can be kind of what?’ Tess asked. ‘Honest? Harsh? A mega-bitch?’

When Lorna shrugged vacantly, Tess turned to me. ‘Well, seeing as I appear to have a rep, I may as well live up to it. All those little fantasies you’re currently having? The ones where you’re trying to convince yourself that this isn’t real and any second now, Mommy dearest will come into your bedroom and wake you up? Forget them. They’re all lies.’

She carried on talking before I could tell her I’d already worked out I was in a coma.

‘These two’ – she paused to gesture toward Lorna and Nancy – ‘they’re all, “Let’s make it easy for newbies, let them come to terms with it in their own time.” Well, that tactic didn’t help me. In fact, nothing helped me.So here’s the truth: you’re dead. End of story. The only thing you can do is deal with it and hope you’re lucky enough to move on.’

Tess gave me a look that practically screamed capisce? and walked out of the room, leaving Lorna and Nancy gaping after her. Outside a cab horn honked.

‘Got to say it,’ Lorna said eventually. ‘That girl has a way with words. You’re totally dead, Charlotte.’ And that’s when I tried to throw up. Except I couldn’t throw up anymore. I couldn’t do much of anything anymore.

I, Charlotte Louise Feldman, of Twenty-One West Seventy-First Street, was, apparently, no more. My head was swimming. I wasn’t sure if it was the having-just-died part or the it’s-impossible-to-take-inall- this-information bit of the situation that was freaking me out the most; but on reflection, I guess it was probably the part where I was dead. That morning all I had to worry about was where to meet David for lunch, whether I’d get tickets for the portrait exhibit at the Met, and what Dad was going to say when he heard I’d flunked chemistry. Again. Now? Now I had to deal with the fact that (a) I was dead, (b) OMG, I was dead, and (c)
someone really didn’t like me. As in, didn’t like me so much that they had decided to murder me.

What about my poor parents, did they even know yet? And David? Did this mean we’d broken up? Tears welled at the corners of my eyes. I tried my hardest not to think about the ‘Living,’ as Nancy had called them. Come on, Charlotte, I told myself, biting down on my lip and waiting for it to hurt. But it didn’t. Hold it together. There must be a way to fix this.

‘I better show you the Door,’ Nancy said, all businesslike again, desperately trying to distract me. ‘I know it’s
a lot to take in, but we have to get moving. Every second we waste could mean we miss out on a vital clue to what happened to you and we can’t have that, or we’ll never find your Key.’

‘My what?’ I asked, pressing my finger to my lip. No blood.

‘Your Key,’ Lorna said. ‘Don’t worry, it’s taken me four years to understand all this stuff. It’s more complicated than applying a streak-free fake tan!’

I followed Lorna and Nancy out of the room. My new room. For that moment, at least. One thing was for sure: dead or not, I wasn’t ready to leave my life behind just yet.

Suzy Cox is deputy editor of Cosmopolitan UK. She lives in London, but she loves New York.

The Dead Girls Detective Agency was published on the 18th of July by Much-In-Little

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Getting To Know…Helen

Helen is addicted to books and has been an avid reader all her life – or at least, as long as she can remember! She usually has at least three books on the go at any one time and no day is complete without some reading in there somewhere, if it comes with chocolate that’s a bonus!
Helen pursued her passion for books to University, reading English Literature. Having been a primary teacher, and then re-training in youth work she has had a great incentive to keep reading books for children and young people (not that she has needed much excuse).
Helen will read almost anything that comes her way; classics, crime fiction, humour, drama, chick lit, the list goes on. In between her reading she is a full-time Mummy to her two gorgeous girls, Tianna and Sienna and she is encouraging them to become book worms in as many ways as possible!

What have you enjoyed the most about blogging over the past year?

I have continued to enjoy the range of books that blogging encourages me to read and getting to read ARC’s and see books before they hit the shops. This year I seem to have had more tweets from authors who have read and appreciated my reviews and I love getting their messages. I managed to get to a couple of events this year and was really excited to hear some authors that I love speak about their books, Phillippa Gregory and the children’s book authors at the RHCB’s publishers showcase. Actually getting to have a conversation with Jez Alborough was a definite highlight.

What was your favourite read of the last 12 months?

As usual choosing one is difficult my light read would have to be You Had Me at Hello by Mhiari Macfarlane for great characters, good humour and an unpredictable romance. I have read a few very good more ’meaningful’ novels and the ones that I still think about are The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak and The Declaration Trilogy by Gemma Malley. In adult books the recently read Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows was a favourite.

What makes the perfect beach/holiday read?

For me any book that grabs me and won’t let me go! It has to have a good, pacey plot and interesting characters. After that I’m not so fussy. Usually I go for chick lit or a thriller so it doesn’t take too much brain power but it doesn’t have to be set in the sun for me to read it on holiday. My best ever holiday read was Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher, which had all those things in spades!

What book are you most anticipating reading over the summer?

I have lots of borrowed books I must get on with over the summer, Game of Thrones might take up most of my time, but I have lots of others jostling for position; The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, Sister by Rosamund Lupton, A Sisters Gift by Giselle Green, The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman, The White Queen and The Kingmakers Daughter by Phillippa Gregory. I do love to reread my old faithfuls but the TBR is so huge at the moment I’m not sure if they’ll get a look in!

Describe your bookshelf/TBR pile.

My book shelf is packed! Having had to reduce to one book case from two there are many books in boxes too. The book case is double stacked and on one shelf, where it’ll fit the shelf is double stacked outwards and upwards. I try and keep books together by their size, I prefer the look and they fit more on the shelf that way!

How do you make time to read?

Usually by foregoing sleep as I read when I go to bed, my habit of a lifetime, and sometimes I don’t stop as soon as I should! Otherwise I just fit in as and when I can. The Kindle and Kindle app on the phone make fitting in a few minutes with a book here and there a lot easier and with young children at home that seems to be the way to cram it in.

Where is your favourite place to read?

As above, in my bed. Also on a sun lounger on a nice sunny holiday, but that doesn’t happen too much these days.

How do you encourage the love of reading and books in your children?

By reading as much as possible with them and letting them look at the books, the pictures and even my books when they want to. We talk a lot about books, make up our own stories, do the voices… Being excited about books with them hopefully helps them to understand that books are exciting. I buy them too many books too!!

What is your favourite book you have shared with your child(ren) in the last 12 months?

Again I can’t chose just one, our stand out picture books have been Dr Dog by Babette Cole and Johnny Duddles’s The Pirates Next Door. With my older daughter we have enjoyed Usbournes early reader books with the fairy tale stories in chapter book form and then Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

And because we ask our visiting authors- Just For Fun

Tea or Coffee? Coffee, although I currently have a bit of a thing for Peppermint Tea

Slippers or barefoot?Barefoot, but due to hardwood floors in our house making my feet ache and I have to wear slippers.

Shower or Bath? Shower in the morning, bath if its to relax in the evening with a glass of wine and a good book of course!

Marmite: Love it? Hate it? Love it.

Email or postcard? It’s always nice to get a postcard, especially now it’s so rare!

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