Blog tour: Yesterday by Felicia Yap.

Hi and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Yesterday, by Felicia Yap! Today I bring you an extract from the book, so read on to get a taste of this futuristic thriller...
A village near Cambridge two years before the murder
Let me tell you a couple of horrible secrets. I’ll start by showing you a photograph. 

This is me, a long time ago. I had a flat chest and protruding ears. If you look closely, you can see that I once had hope in my eyes and fire in my soul. Today, both the hope and the fire are gone. Wiped out by years of institutionalisation. 

Here’s a second photograph. Oh, I see you flinching. That’s understandable. It is, after all, a photograph of you. Your own mug shot, taken recently. You don’t look too bad here. Blonde hair cascading down your shoulders, impressive tits. Guess what? I’m going to transform myself so I’ll look exactly like you. I’m going to bleach my hair and get boobs like yours. 

Is that a frown I see on your forehead? You don’t get it, do you? You’re wondering: why would I want to look like you?

Let me explain. I remember everything. Really, I do. I’m the only person in this world who remembers her past. All of it. Mostly in vivid detail. I’m not kidding. And that makes me pretty damned special. 

You don’t believe me, do you? 

That’s understandable, too. Like the five billion Monos around us, you only remember what happened yesterday. You wake up each morning with facts in your head. Carefully curated information about yourself and other people. You stagger from your bed to the iDiary on your gleaming kitchen counter. To that electronic device of yours, your meagre lifeline to the past. Desperate to learn the few pitiful details you wrote down the night before. Eager to add them to your memories of what happened yesterday – and to the other cold, sterile facts you’ve learnt about yourself. 

Pretty rubbish, isn’t it? 

And you’re even used to this, aren’t you? Because you’ve been doing it since the age of eighteen, after your hapless little brain switched itself off. No wonder you’re envious of the Duos, whose shortterm memories are slightly better than yours. But you are all the same. 

Equally pathetic. 

Let me add a simple truth, since you’re getting to know the real me. 

When you remember everything, you recall what other people have done to you (even if they don’t). Down to the smallest, most gruesome detail. Which causes you to desire vengeance if they’ve hurt you badly. Like really, really badly. Like, say, if they caused you to end up in a mental asylum for seventeen years. It makes you yearn, during the darkest hours of the night when the moon’s smile has faded and the owls have fallen silent, to set matters straight. 

When you remember everything, you will also get away with everything. Like revenge, for instance. 

Fucking convenient, isn’t it? 

This is precisely why I, Sophia Alyssa Ayling, will get away with it. 

Vengeance would be nice. Especially in view of what you’ve done to me. All the terrible little things you’ve been guilty of, over the years. I recall each and every one of them. It’s the sum total of remembered grievances that makes hatred potent. Oh, yes. The act of revenge will be easy. 

Because no one will remember what I’m going to do to you. 

Except for me.

Yesterday is out now in paperback (available here)

Read my review here
[Huge thanks to Jenni at Headline for sending me a copy of the book ]

Blog tour: An Ocean of Minutes Q&A

Today you join me on the blog tour for An Ocean of Minutes, think time travel, love and dystopia!

The blurb...
America is in the grip of a deadly flu. When Frank gets sick, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him. She agrees to a radical plan—time travel has been invented in the future to thwart the virus. If she signs up for a one-way-trip into the future to work as a bonded labourer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years.

But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a changed and divided America, with no status and no money, Polly must navigate a new life and find a way to locate Frank, to discover if he is alive, and if their love has endured.

Sounds brilliant right? For today's post Thea answered some of my questions...

Hi Thea, thanks so much for answering some questions! Firstly, short and sweet, if you had to describe An Ocean of Minutes in only 5 words which would you pick? 

A bookseller in the US made me laugh recently when she described my book as a "really intense long distance relationship," so I'm going to go with that.

 This is your debut novel- how did you find the writing process?
This makes me think of a page from Kafka’s Writing Diaries, that I saw posted once on Twitter. “Complete standstill. Unending torments.” “How time flies; another ten days and I have achieved nothing.” Writing a novel is a very long process of finding a problem, and then fixing it, and then finding another problem, and then fixing it, and then finding another...I'm of the belief that tenacity is just as important as talent (if not more?) when it comes to making art. 

 One of the key elements is time travel. If you could travel anywhere in time where would you go? 
I read once that people are idealistic for the decade preceding the one in which they were born. It's true for me: the 70s always seem idyllic to me -- civil rights were getting better, social mores had loosened up, the fashion was great, and the shackles of smartphones and social media had not been invented. But maybe I just feel that way because of all the TV and movies I watched while researching An Ocean of Minutes: Cactus Flower, Annie Hall, the Americans. 

In An Ocean of Minutes, Polly makes a huge sacrifice for love. Would you have done the same in her shoes?
I think when I would have, when I was her age. Part of what I wanted to explore was how many sacrifices we make for love, we make unknowingly. So much of aging is coming to understand in a very nuanced way what love can cost, or how love and people change; what change truly means. It's impossible to understand these things before we live through them. At the same time, I didn't want to suggest that young people are fools; I also wanted to honour how Polly's belief is poignant and beautiful, and how bittersweet youth is.  

Where there any particular inspirations when creating Polly? What do you like about her the most?
Her determination! My mother used to have a postcard with her family crest and motto, and the motto was "Try." So I guess that inspiration came from somewhere close to home! 

Although the book revolves around time travel it is set in the 80s and 90s, was there any specific reasoning you chose those periods?
Early versions took place in the late 21st century, but that gave my guinea pig readers the impression I was trying to predict what might happen, if our cultures continued to act as we do. Instead, I wanted to talk about how we act now; but set in a way that enabled us to consider our actions in new light. I stole the idea from Never Let Me Go to put the story in an alternate past, because doing so made much clearer to my readers that I was talking about how we already are. My book falls into the category of "dystopic fiction" but because I'm not making predictions as dystopic fiction does, I've been trying to make the term "allegorical fiction" happen.  

You touch on the class system and wealth in a changed future- where these themes you planned on including from the onset? 
Not at all! I published a novella about ten years ago, and for that one I did have lofty ideas about which systems of oppression required critique. Then a writing instructor told me not to worry about theme, arguing that a writer's job is to tell a story, not make an argument, and that if we trusted our stories, theme would creep in. He was completely right. While a book can make an argument, a story becomes a bit bloodless if it's sole goal is to make a point. It was much more fruitful for me to just follow the plot, and to let myself be surprised by what political themes could come in naturally, if I let the story unfold. 

What are you currently reading?
Suicide Club by Rachel Heng.

An Ocean of Minutes is available now in hardback

Huge thanks to Ana at Quercus for arranging the tour and to Thea for answering my questions!

Blog Tour: In The Wake

Hi, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the gripping thriller In The Wake...

When a body is found floating in London's Royal Albert Dock, successful public relations expert Kay Christie is sent to quiet the media, but things get complicated when it emerges that she knew the victim. 

As events spiral out of control, Kay discovers that those close to her may be harbouring another secret - the story of a missing girl. Can Kay discover the truth before her life unravels and she risks losing everything? 

In the Wake questions whether we can ever truly leave our pasts behind and explores the lengths that we will go to protect the people that we love.


My thoughts...

In The Wake is a well written debut thriller that is packed full of suspense. The pace is just right as the story gradually unfolds.

One thing that I think is important in a good thriller is fully fleshed out interesting characters. There were no tropes here- our protagonist Kay is strong willed, and someone I could definitely empathise with. She was struggling with past events that she had never fully dealt with as well and that was a strong theme throughout the book- can the past ever stay buried? It is also worth noting that Kay is gay, and I felt like that was important as LGBTQ+ characters aren't particularly prevalent, especially in the thriller genre. 

I felt like the author was really careful of how she dealt with certain themes in the book such as addiction and sexual assault. These themes were never used as just plot points. If you enjoy thrillers, but want your read to have a little more substance then In The Wake should be your next read.

Psychological thriller + LGBTQ+ characters + feminism = YES PLEASE!

In The Wake is out now in paperback here                 

Huge thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.   

Small pleasures 4.

1. Trying bubble waffles for the first time
2. Sweet Williams season (my favourite flower)
3. Tracing back my family tree 
4. Reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch which was brilliant!
5. Buying books because I've been feeling really anxious
6. A day at the fair
7. Having a 99 for the first time in forever
8. Cool hair ties from this months Pink Parcel
9. The posters released by Marvel to celebrate 10 years of the MCU (my faves below)
10. New episodes of iZombie

Honestly I'm struggling to think of anymore as I am feeling pretty mehh right now so I will leave it there. Hope you are good, wherever you are!

Summer 2018 new releases I want to read.

I don't know about you but my TBR is RIDICULOUS. So what better than a fresh pile of new releases to lust after, because you can never have enough books. 100% Fact. Seeing as we are now about half way through the year, I thought I'd round up the new books coming out over the Summer which sound brilliant. 

The novels...

Blind Defense is the second book in a series from John Fairfax- I read the first and really enjoyed it (review here) so am looking forward to this one. Likewise, I am a fan of Ruth Ware- she writes brilliant thrillers so her latest, The Death of Mrs Westaway went straight on the list. Crudo is about a woman getting married, but takes in everything happening in the world at the moment from brexit to Trump. I love novels with a feminist theme, so What Girls are Made of went straight on the list- about a young woman navigating love, relationships and her place in the world. How to be Famous follows on from Caitlin Moran's last book How to Build a Girl, which I loved and follows Johanna in the mid 90s (I LOVE 90s set books!) Eat Only When You're Hungry is a humourous and sympathetic look at addiction (in this case alcohol and food) and sounds intriguing. Things to Make and Break is a short story collection that sounds strange and quirky- which is what I want from short stories!

One of my big weaknesses is sci-fi and dystopian fiction so Vox, about all woman in the world suddenly loosing their voice sounds like an amazing premise. Also, The Oracle Year about a man who finds he has the power to predict the future. Suicide Club is about the pursuit of immortality in a world were some people are able to live forever.

How about some YA?! Aside from the great cover, Undead Girl Gang follows some best friends who use witchcraft to bring back some dead school friends- who then have to work out who murdered them! Catwoman: Soulstealer is the third DC Comics YA novelisations and it centers on my fave Catwoman so of course it's on the list! I've read quite a few Melvin Burgess books over the years and his latest, The Lost Witch is about a girl who is told she has powers of a witch but her parents think she is hallucinating... is she? Dress Code for Small Towns follows a tomboy and is all about gender and sexual fluidity. 

The graphic novels...

I loved the first issue of Heavy Vinyl and immediately pre-ordered the bind up. I'm looking forward to reading this fun mix of music and girl power. Of course I pre-ordered volume 9 of Saga as soon as I could, this sci-fi/romance/adventure is 100% amazing and keeps getting better. 'A betrayed murderess wants revenge'- that's all I needed to know about crime noir Kill Them All to make me want to read it! Finally, after failing to get hold od a copy of the first issue of Ice Cream Man I really want to read the first volume. It's made up of weird and wonderful one shot stories that sound right up my street.

The non-fiction...

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of How to be a Grown Up and I'm looking forward to reading this warm and funny book about being a twenty something woman. Feminists Don't Wear Pink is a collection of essays from all sorts of women from different backgrounds talking about what feminism means to them. On the Same theme Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of Unruly Women does exactly what it says on the tin! I have a big interest in mindfulness and books on the subject so Kindfulness caught my eye. Written by a psychotherapist this looks at bringing empathy and kindness into your self care routine. The Back-Up Plan is a memoir about a woman trying to get her life back in order after everything falls apart, it looks at self confidence and mental health and sounds like it could be a really interesting read. Heart Berries: A Memoir follows a woman who receives a duel diagnosis of PTSD and Bipolar and how she deals with it. I am always interested in memoirs about mental health so this sounds really interesting. 

Check out all these books on my Goodreads book shelf here!

What new releases are you adding to your TBR?

Veronica Dearly stationery club May.

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

Veronica Dearly have a monthly stationery club (costs £10) that sends you a box every month full of cool stuff including some exclusive cards, a exclusive print, a sticker and other paper goods and fun things. Each month has a theme, and I think May has been my favourite so far: plants! As a proud plant parent I was very happy with everything that arrived...

 The cards are always a useful addition and I love that they cover all sorts of occasions.  The print is already on my wall, and I loved that the info sheet for this month had a print on the back (which is also on my wall!)

This month we got a necklace, which is a lovely four leaf clover

and a tiny magnet which is very cute!

That's the May box, I highly recommend this subscription- it's always a fun suprise.

Free Comic Book Day 2018.

I'm super late posting this, this year but here is my Free Comic Book Day 2018 post! (Here's 2017, 2016, and 2015!) This year I went with my sister, niece  (who looked very cool dressed as Batgirl) and brother in law and it happened to be the hottest day ever. 

Free Comic Book Day is the first Saturday in May every year and comic book shops give out specially printed free comics from tons of different comic publishers and some stores have events and celebrations going on.
Usually when we go we make a day of it in our city (Birmingham) and get some nice food and have a nerdy treat 'yo self day. This year we were on the poor side so toned it down a bit! But we did go to a delicious cookie dough place in the Bullring and it was GOOOOD!

These were the free comics I picked up. The main one I wanted was Comic Friends Forever which I got (yay!) I missed out on a few others but did get the Forbidden Planet exclusive Doctor Who comic which had a very cool introduction of the thirteenth Doctor.

I was very chuffed to pick up a signed Motor Crush comic and trade set. Babs Tarr is one of my favourite comic artists, and I love Fletcher and Stewart too so this baby is going in a frame.

I've been enjoying reading these True Believer reprints and have been soaking up anything to do with Thanos after seeing Infinity War (twice, because I'm obsessed!)

I also got a whole bunch of cheap back issues and was happy to find a Frison Wonder Woman variant I'd missed out on. Altogether it was a nice day despite the unbearable heat.