Wednesday 2 August 2017

I Know It's Over

The title for this post sounds a touch melodramatic, I know, but I started this blog back in June 2013 with nothing more than a URL and a Smiths lyric, so it kind of feels like a natural way to bring Books with Bunny to a close. 

Yes, the time has come for me to officially say goodbye to this blog.  I've not posted in months now, mainly because although I'm still reading (and reading brilliant books that deserve shouting about) I've been busy writing my own books.  Over the past two years I've written three novels and two novellas, and am currently beavering away on a fourth book which I hope will be the first of a trilogy.  Put simply, my focus has shifted and the time I dedicated to blogging is now devoted to crafting fiction.

There's a tinge of sadness ebbing within me as I write this post, because this blog has been a huge part of my life.  Really huge. 

It gave me purpose when I was at my most poorly.

It brought me friendships with fellow bibliophiles, authors and readers alike.

It drew me into a circle of wonderful bloggers who are passionate about books (and subsequently trebled the amount of books on my TBR pile).

It gave me the confidence to organise and co-ordinate online events such as #HIFortnight and the #HIReadathon.

Also, it was through blogging that I first met Charlotte Ledger, commissioning editor at HarperImpulse - the very person who offered me my first publishing contract.

I have dearly loved Books with Bunny, but the time is right to say goodbye.  Instead of blog posts here I'll be sharing the book love on my social media channels (see below) and hope to use my author blog (which you can find here) to talk about what I've been reading as well as my writing projects.

Thank you to all the readers, bloggers, publishers and authors who've supported Books with Bunny over the past four and a bit years, whether that's been by sending ARCs, giving exclusive content, retweeting reviews (the day Johnny Marr replied to my tweet about his autobiography was the ultimate highlight), leaving comments or sharing recommendations of 'must read' books. 

It's been a pleasure.  Please don't be a stranger.

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Monday 6 March 2017

What I Read... February 2017

Love at Second Sight - Cathy Hopkins
A cute romantic read about teenager Jo's search for the boy she fell in love with in a past life. I loved the London setting, especially the rich imagery of Highgate Cemetery.
If you enjoy light-hearted YA, this could be one for you.
Unknown Pleasures - Inside Joy Division - Peter Hook
This is a difficult one to review, because although I read the whole thing within 24 hours, I didn't find it easy.

The opening sections were probably my favourite, where he's going to punk gigs and first taking a serious interest in music. These sections also capture a sense of Manchester and the north in the late 1970s and make fascinating reading.

There was a lot of the dry humour I'd expected, and Hooky doesn't hold back with his opinions which makes it feel as though he's sharing his secrets directly with the reader. The stories of Joy Division on the road and in the studio were interesting, and the recollections of individual performances were entertaining and evocative, but the way he writes about the dynamic within the band creates the tension that made this a compulsive (and at times draining) read.

This volume of Peter Hook's memoir was always going to be very much about Ian Curtis and I found myself waiting uncomfortably for the section I knew was coming - Ian's death. I liked how Hooky went to great pains to paint the Ian Curtis he knew - someone who was one of the lads, and at times downright crude. Everyone knows about the epilepsy, the affair, the suicide, the artsy Ian... the way he's been frozen in time by the fans and the media. Hearing what he was actually like from bandmate makes him more 3D somehow, less of a caricature.

I'm definitely going to read the New Order book very soon and imagine that'll be equally as gripping (if not moreso to me personally as that's the music I prefer).

The Unmumsy Mum - Sarah Turner

I'm not sure if part of the reason this didn't speak to me as much as it has some of my friends is because I'm well past the baby stage.

There were definitely scenes from their family life I could relate to, and I did find myself giggling along at the comments about the challenges of parenthood, but personally I feel the short, sharp blog posts have more of an impact than a full-length book.
This Beats Perfect - Rebecca Denton

Amelie doesn't like boybands. She'd rather be listening to her diverse collection of original vinyl. However, because of her dad's job in the music industry, she finds herself surrounded by the biggest pop band of the moment 'The Keep'.

This is a book I'd been really looking forward to, and it was a quick YA read. The plot wasn't complex, but didn't need to be as it was still very readable.

My main issue was that I didn't always like Amelie and her ways. Yes, she is a teenager, but she came across as a bit brattish at times. However, I really liked the character Maxx and his motivations and story were very believable.

I'd have loved this book in my teens and I'm sure many fangirls will be hooked by this story of romance, the music industry and being true to yourself.

Why Pamper Life's Complexities? - Essays on The Smiths - Ed. Sean Campbell and Colin Coulter

Interesting collection of essays relating to The Smiths and their place in society, politics and musical history.

Some essays were more interesting to me than others, with particular praise going to Joseph Brooker's ' Has the World Changed or Have I Changed?- The Smiths and the Challenge of Thatcherism', Cecelia Mello's 'I Don't Owe You Anything - The Smiths and kitchen-sink cinema' and particularly Karl Maton's 'Last Night We Dreamt that Somebody Loved Us - Smiths fans (and me) in the late 1980s'. This is partly due to the content relating to areas that appeal to my own personal interest, but also because I felt they were most accessible and original.

One area which could have been stronger for me was a wider use of sources - many essays referred to the same key interviews and lyrics which made this book repetitive at times when read as a collection.

Friday 3 February 2017

What I Read... January 2017

I completed six books in January 2017, and they were all fantastic.  Here are my thoughts...

The Legacy of Lucy Harte - Emma Heatherington

I loved this story! Maggie, the recipient of a donor heart, knows that she's not making the most of her life. A run-of-the-mill job, a brother she doesn't talk to, a fondness for drinking more than she really should...None of it is enough any more. Maggie's knows she's lost all sense of herself, but it's only when she makes contact with the family of Lucy Harte, the girl whose heart she was gifted seventeen years ago, that she truly realised how little living she's actually been doing.

It was an absolute pleasure to follow Maggie on her journey, and Emma Heatherington has done a brilliant job in balancing a serious (and at times heavy) plot with witty one-liners. The Irish flavour will appeal to fans of Marian Keyes and there's overseas travel for those readers with wanderlust. There's a hint of romance, but this is as much a love story between Maggie and Lucy as it is between her and the potential partners.

If you're looking for a January read which will inspire you to live for the moment, The Legacy of Lucy Harte could be it.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies - Louise Gornall

Although I am not agoraphobic, Under Rose-Tainted Skies brought back painful memories of my own darkest moments. I found Norah's story so easy to relate to, and I'm sure many readers who have experience of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues will recognise the awful surge of panic Norah experiences in what she feels should be 'normal' situations.

Louise Gornall's book is so very necessary as well as being beautifully written; and it's wonderful to see such an honest portrayal of a character with agoraphobia hitting the shelves (especially from an #ownvoices author). I can see why so many people have raved about this book and predict it'll be an enormous success across the water now it's been published in America.

You Know Me Well - Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Kate and Mark have been sitting next to each other in class for a whole year, but until they meet in a bar at the start of San Francisco's Pride they barely know each other.

What follows is a week-long adventure of love and friendship set against the glorious backdrop of the beautiful city of San Francisco.

It's fantastic to see a YA book with a whole cast of LGBT characters, but more than that the high hopes I had for the book were met. The plot isn't complex, but it doesn't need to be. This is the epitome of a character driven novel, and from the moment I finished the book I was left longing to know what was in store for Kate, Mark, Violet, Ryan and the rest of the gang. I really, really hope we'll get to see more of them in the future.

Radio Silence - Alice Oseman

Frances is a fan of the Universe City podcast. In fact, some might say she's more than a fan. She used the podcast as inspiration for her artwork, the one thing she has besides her A levels.

When Universe City's creator reaches out to her via the internet, Frances is shocked to discover the person behind her favourite podcast lives in close proximity.

This is a book about secrets, fandom, societal expectations and friendships. I loved the diverse, believable characters, the plot and most of all the beautiful writing. Alice Oseman - this is wonderful. Thank you.  

Saturday, 3pm - Daniel Gray

A slender volume of fifty vignettes examining the everyday pleasures of life as a football fan.

Beautiful, heart-felt prose evokes a sense of nostalgia for a by-gone era whilst reminding the reader of the simple delights not yet erradicated from the modern game. From club shops to floodlights to the excitement at passing a team bus on the motorway, Daniel Gray's book is as much about society, sociology and history as it is about football.

Saturday, 3pm is a joy to read.                  

Set The Boy Free - Johnny Marr

Read my review here.

What have you read this year so far?

Monday 23 January 2017

Set the Boy Free - Johnny Marr

I've been waiting a long time for this book.  You can read my 'Hooray!  Johnny's writing an autobiography!' post here.

I love Johnny Marr.

His life story proves that the heady combination of hard work and natural talent pays off.  Set the Boy Free follows Johnny from humble beginnings on inner-city Manchester estates to global fame and acclaim.  It's partly a 'rise of the underdog' tale, but it's also a love story between Marr and music.  As a creative person myself, I couldn't help but be inspired by his drive, his ambition, his self-belief, and also his ability to do things his own way.

I love Johnny Marr.

His total commitment to guitar and continual desire to bettering his playing, writing and producing is obvious through his musical catalogue, and although I'm a huge fan of The Smiths, there is so much more to Johnny Marr's career.  I read a review that complained there was too much music lingo in this book.  Erm ... hello? This is Johnny Fuckin Marr, a man who's dedicated his whole life to music. What did you expect?!

I love Johnny Marr.

His style and the influences he has drawn on in terms of clothes and image fascinate me.  From roll-necks and beaded necklaces to well-chosen knitwear, his style has evolved yet never deviated from something that is totally 'Johnny Marr'. There's something comforting in that.   Familiar.  And the way Johnny talks about clothes and style in the book is highly evocative.

I love Johnny Marr.

He comes across as very introspective and self-aware, constantly reassessing what he wants from not only his career, but also other areas of his life.  Reading Set the Boy Free, particularly the sections about Johnny's lifestyle change to a tee-total, marathon-running vegan, has encouraged me to think about the life I want for myself. 

I love Johnny Marr. 

I've always been fascinated by his relationship with wife Angie.  They are a rarity - a couple who met young, knew they wanted to be together and still are over thirty years on.  I loved the chance to learn more about their relationship, although the romantic in me would have liked to have more of this and also his relationship with Nile and Sonny covered in the book.

I love Johnny Marr.

I love Johnny Marr's autobiography.  It's insightful and easy to read and although I'd heard a lot of the stories before, it was nice to have a chronological version of events from Johnny's viewpoint. 

I love Johnny Marr.

I love Johnny Marr.

And did I mention I love Johnny Marr?!

Friday 30 December 2016

My Favourite Reads of 2016

I've been a pretty rubbish book blogger in 2016.  There have been times this year where I've come close to calling time on Books with Bunny, because my life has changed beyond measure since I wrote my first post for this blog three-and-a-half years ago.  But I'm not ready to give it up yet.  I still love books and reading and spreading the literary love, so although there might not be regular updates any more, this little corner of the internet will remain my bookish space into 2017 (although if you want to know what I'm reading, Twitter is the best place to find me - @katey5678).

I've read some cracking books again this year and (this is the bit I love!) it's time to share them with you - here are my favourite reads of 2016!

If you like stories about secrets within families and communities, you need to read ... A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

If you like thought-provoking non-fiction, you need to read... Girl Up by Laura Bates

If you like sweeping romances that make your heart pang, you need to read ... Miss You by Kate Eberlen

If you like stories of friendship, roadtrips and nostalgia, you need to read ... Searching for a Silver Lining by Miranda Dickinson

If you like intriguing young adult fiction about boybands you need to read ... Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell

If you like books about forbidden love against a political backdrop, you need to read ... The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

If you like romantic books about travel and adventure, you need to read ... Just One Day by Gayle Forman

If you like uplifting books about fandom and finding yourself, you need to read Love Song by Sophia Bennett

If you like chilling psychological thrillers that will have you hooked from the off, you need to read ... Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

If you like young adult books with a gothic influence, you need to read ... Darkmere by Helen Maslin

If you like a good old-fashioned mystery stories or books set at boarding schools, you need to read ... Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens

If you like amusing manga about misfits and obsessives, you need to read ... Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura

If you like romcom books with an original twist, you need to read ... Please Retweet by Emily Benet

If you like your romance kooky with a hint of spooky, you need to read ... Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French

What have you read and loved this year?  I'd love you to share your favourite reads in the comments!

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Christmas Q&A with Caroline Roberts!

I'm delighted to welcome Caroline Roberts to the blog today for a Q&A session. 
Hello Kate, thanks so much for featuring me and The Cosy Christmas Teashop on your blog!
The Cosy Christmas Teashop is a follow up to your previous novel The Cosy Teashop in the Castle. Did the fact that it's a sequel make a difference to your writing process? How long did it take to write?

In a way, it was easier to write as I already had the main characters and setting in mind. But I also wanted to freshen it all up, so I added some new characters and situations. I had fun with it, as well as exploring the more difficult times they had to face. I felt I knew everyone so well by the end, like the castle team had really become firm friends.
It took me four months to write The Cosy Christmas Teashop. A bit of a miracle as the first book took over a year. But I had a deadline to meet, so got my head down and kept going. It was hard work, but also fun.

2) This is your first festive novel. Do you envisage writing another in the future?

Yes, I enjoyed writing about Christmas and all the lovely festive build up to that – Christmas markets, craft fairs, snow, tinsel, Christmas trees, Christmas cupcakes, mince pies and more. I’d happily write another Christmas-themed novel. In fact, I might be working on that right now!

3) What are your favourite Christmassy reads?
I loved Debbie Johnson’s romantic comedy “Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper”.  It was a warm and funny story, unique and rather sexy.
And, on Christmas Eve, I always used to read to my children “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in a fabulous pop-up version, and we also loved The Jolly Christmas Postman.

4) What are your own plans for Christmas? Do you have any special family traditions?
I love the tradition of Christmas stockings, hanging them up by the fire, and then them “magically” being filled – I still have them for my grown-up children even now! And we always have a real tree, it looks so pretty all decorated and twinkly, and you get that gorgeous smell of pine.

On Christmas day, we have a glass of champagne around ten am (mid-parcel opening) with cheese and ham croissants, a fresh fruit platter, or chocolate if you fancy, after all, anything goes - it’s Christmas! Then there’s the traditional Turkey Roast. I’m chef as I enjoy cooking, though I have to be well prepared as after a couple of champagnes and a G&T, it can all get a bit out of sync!

For me, Christmas is all about family and friends and having a lovely, sociable time with some fabulous food and drink.

5) What can your readers look forward to next?

I have a summer book coming out around April/May time. A gorgeous and poignant love story  about hurt and healing and making the most of those simple special moments in life. It’s set on beautiful Bamburgh beach in my home county of Northumberland (one of my favourite places to walk the dog). In fact, the family might have a wander down on the beach there on Boxing Day!
And by this time next year, there may well be another Cosy Christmas novel! Watch this space…

Have a really lovely Christmas everyone!

The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop is out now, published by Harper Impulse.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Talking As Fast As I Can - Lauren Graham blog tour

As a recent convert to Gilmore Girls (how on earth did I miss it for so long?!) I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour for Lauren Graham's Talking As Fast As I Can.

I'm one of many women out there who can relate to Lorelai Gilmore and how she says whatever's on her mind without really thinking it through.  That's part of her charm.

Picking a favourite Lorelai moment for the blog tour was tricky.  I could have gone for a mother/daughter moment (Lorelai's graduation left me with a lump in my throat) or her epic fangirling with Sookie at The Bangles gig despite being at the back of the venue, but I'm going with the one liner that makes me giggle every time I think of it, when Lorelai says to Rory - "Hey, maybe instead of going to college, you should drop out and I could quit my job and we can form an all-girl band with Lane, you know, like Bananarama. We could call it Tangerinarama or Banana-fana-fo-fana-rama…or something." 

Why does that tickle me so much?  Mostly because that sounds like a band I'd really like to be part of. 

The Blurb
In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood-along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, "Did you, um, make it?" She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood ("Strangers were worried about me; that's how long I was single!"), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge onProject Runway ("It's like I had a fashion-induced blackout").

In "What It Was Like, Part One," Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay "What It Was Like, Part Two" reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she's aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls ("If you're meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you've already set the bar too high"), and she's a card-carrying REI shopper ("My bungee cords now earn points!").

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and-of course-talking as fast as you can.

Talking As Fast As I Can is released on December 6th in hardback and ebook formats, and available for preorder now.