4 Aug 2015

Book Review / A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Published:     5th May 2015
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, A Court of Thorns and Roses

Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

I knew when I went into this book that I would enjoy it, I just wasn't sure how much.  Having read both Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight (which I loved and will continue to read it when I collect the rest of the books) I wanted to try her new series having heard mixed things about it.  What I love the most about this book and about all of Sarah's books (ones that I have read so far, of course!) is the complexity of the world and the characters.  I have to remind myself that this is a young adult fiction novel.  The way the world is described, the way the characters interact and the plot really do make me forget what type of reading audience it is aimed at.  To me, this story is universal and can be enjoyed by anyone at any age.  Feyre as the beauty in this story is so well written and comedic in places.  I liked the fact that she is very 'kick ass' in the way that she deals with her enemies but very compassionate when dealing with others.  There are also so many secrets to uncover and secrets left to uncover I can't wait to be able to get my hands on the next in this series and find out what happens next!

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series (Queen of Shadows, Book 4, will be out in September 2015), as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (out 5/5/15).

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she's not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.


3 Aug 2015

Author Interview / Camilla Isley

If all your wishes could suddenly come true, what would you do?
A year ago when the love of her life dumped her for no apparent reason, Ally thought she had hit rock bottom. But now that she has seen him with another woman, and one she knows only too well, her life seems to have reached a whole new level of low.
Yet, when she stumbles across an ancient object infused with magical powers and a stranger with a dark past appears out of nowhere promising to grant all her wishes, she finds herself hoping again.
Suddenly Ally’s life is turned upside down; she has a mystery to solve, a rival to beat, a millenarian curse to break, and well, she wants to have some fun playing with her new “gifts”…
But can she wish her way to happily ever after?

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 
Within my genre, Romantic Comedy, it would definitely be Sophie Kinsella. Her standalone novels are something else, romantic, smart, and they definitely make you laugh out loud. If I were to choose anyone, I would go for J.K. Rowling. I grew up reading Harry Potter, I was twelve when the first book was released, and never have I been so addicted to something. Not even coffee.

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 
The best part of my job is that I can stay in my pajamas all day and write from home. On a good, inspired day I write non-stop from dawn till dusk. On a bad day, you’ll probably find me at my laptop promising myself to open that dreaded word document in just five minutes and procrastinating forever on social media instead. And that’s the bad part about working from home, you get easily distracted. My solution is usually to turn off the internet connection and to hide the remote.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
The biggest struggle for me is the mid-part of a book. Usually I know pretty early how I want my stories to end, and I come up with beginnings pretty easily. But all the twists and turns in the middle, those are hard work. And the most dreaded social-media-bad-TV day catalyzers.

4. When and why did you first start writing? 
My husband and I had to move to the other side of the world for his job. So I quit mine, I’m an engineer by training, and followed him in this new adventure. With this new situation in my life I had a lot of free time for the first time in a while and many ideas buzzing in my head. So I decided to give it a shot and transposed some of those ideas into my first novel.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book? 
I wanted to write a book that I would enjoy as a reader. So I tried to make it magical, romantic, and fun to read. I created a world filled with possibilities where wishes do come true. There’s a bit of me here and there, as it is almost impossible not to bring yourself to the page while writing, but mostly I Wish for You is a work of sheer imagination.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? 
Yes of course. I love a variety of genres…Romance, and Romantic Comedy in particular, Chick Lit, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, a bit of Paranormal, and many Classics. Since discovering Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) a website where you can download books with expired copyright for free, I’ve been catching up with a lot of literature that I had not read before.
Right now I’m reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

I get asked this question a lot, and I try to give a unique advice each time. Today my advice would be to listen to others and ask for help. As writers we tend to be introverts and a bit jealous about our work. One of the biggest mistake we could do is not to be humble enough to listen to what others have to say about our precious manuscripts. But in my experience our work can only benefit from a second, or many more opinions. Even if it entitles a painful round of re-writes.

The Day After
I abruptly wake up thanks to the racking sound of my alarm clock piercing deeply into my skull. I come to a sitting position and silence the damn thing, slamming my right hand on the off button.
My head is spinning, I feel kind of ill, and as soon as my comatose brain regains consciousness I remember why, which definitely isn’t a good thing. In fact, as my memory comes back I experience a stream of increasingly awful emotions. It starts with a choking pain, immediately followed by fear, anguish, and a strong wave of nausea. Ouch, heartbreak sucks!

I lie back on the pillows trying to abate my squeamishness. Sugar, my black and white rescue cat, decides this is a good moment to jump on my belly meowing for his breakfast.

“Not now, baby.” I say, pushing him aside. “I need five minutes before I get up.”

No. No. No. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to go into work either, not today, please, not after what happened. I’m not ready for it. I will look awful, and I’m being optimistic.

I spent the whole night crying, my eyes are going to be horrendously red and puffy, and my skin will probably be ghastly, in-between a putrid mustard and greenish coloring. There will be no mistaking my utter state of distraught. Damn! I can already picture the evil grin of triumph on her face. Of course she’s going to mask it as one of her best I-want-world-peace beauty pageant smiling faces, pretending nothing’s wrong.

Don’t you hate it when you know someone to be vicious, but you’re the only one who can see it since he or she always pretends to be the most kind and caring person in the world? Well, she’s the kind of two-faced poser that manages to make you feel like the wrongdoer even when it’s her delivering a sucker punch to your stomach. She does it with such grace and poise that you don’t even feel entitled to argue or be angry.

I have a horrible feeling she knows exactly how badly this hurts for me. Now that I think about it, many of the little nasty remarks she’s been making in the past months about the guy she was dating begin to make sense. I had a feeling that she was taking my unconcerned responses as a personal affront. Maybe she thought I knew! Well, from my reaction yesterday it must have been pretty clear that I didn’t. Wait a second, how long has she been doing it? When did she start? Did she say dating? Did she use the word boyfriend?


At the thought, my heart skips a bit and I gasp for air. Wow, this hurts…this physically hurts! I have a huge ball of pain in my chest that expands all the way down to my stomach. I can hardly breathe and I feel terribly dizzy; lying back on the pillows is not helping. My heart is beating so fast I can’t suck in air, and I feel trapped. Yeah, trapped in my horrible, disastrous life.

I need to calm down. I’m just having a panic attack! Aha! Mark the roots of a problem and then find the solution. What did Dr. Oz say? Ah yes, I simply need to take deep, profound breaths: air in, air out, in…and out…

Gradually my respiration returns to normal and I feel able to inhale and exhale properly. I have to decide what to do. Clearly, I can’t go to work in this status; the mere thought makes me sick. Well, more sick than I already am! Wait, sick…I am ill! This is my way out. I’m going to pull a sickie. Genius!

I haven’t taken one illness leave in the five years that I’ve been with my company. Surely no one is going to suspect me, and it’s not going to affect my career too badly. I mean, it’s just one day. Yes! I just need the one day to calm down, regroup, and think of a strategy for what to do next. Of course, she will know why I’m not there today. Oh, screw her! She can think whatever she likes.

Where is my cell phone? I need to put on my glasses because without them I am basically blind. Usually I do that on autopilot before even opening my eyes. You know, that way I can pretend I can actually see, but I guess today my routine went out the window. I grope the nightstand, grab the glasses, and put them on.

Ah, this is better. I scan the bedside table for any trace of my cell but it’s not there. Instead, nicely perched next to my table lamp, there is an innocent looking Sugar. I follow his not-so-innocent gaze to the floor and finally spot my mobile lying discarded on the carpet. I grab it before I change my mind and dial the office’s number, all the while shaking my head at my vindictive cat.

“Good morning, you’ve reached Crispy Koob Corporation.” Instead of hearing Michelle’s voice, the company’s receptionist, I am redirected to voicemail. “Our offices are open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to—” I end the call.

This is weird. The answering machine is never on during the week; they only turn it on for weekends and holidays. Hold on a second. What day is it today? I look at my phone’s screen and there it is, the sweetest writing I have ever seen:
Saturday, May 16
Yes! Yes! This means I have not one, but two full days before I have to face the world. This is so much better. I’ll have time to recover, think a little, and craft a plan. 

Duh, why am I always this dumb? What made me think it was a weekday? As my self-questioning goes on I spot the culprit standing right there on my night table—the abominable alarm clock. Why the hell did it wake me on a Saturday? I never, and I swear never, turn on my alarm clock on weekends, I mean, sleeping in is the best part of the weekend, so why…


The doorbell rings interrupting my train of thoughts. Who’s at my door this early on a Saturday morning?

Twitter: @camillaisley
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=NGMICgAAQBAJ


30 Jul 2015

Book Review / The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She's a nobody; she has no-one and that's how she wants it.

But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else's—or so she thought.

Then one night a terrible thing happened in the crooked house, a nightmare of violence out of which Alison emerged the only witness and sole survivor and from which she has been running ever since. Only when she meets academic Paul Bartlett does Alison realize that if she's to have any chance of happiness, she has to return to her old life and confront the darkness that worked its way inside her family and has pursued her ever since..

Published:     23rd April 2015
Publisher:  Sphere
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

What I loved about this book...
I really enjoyed this story.  This is a new author to me and I have a feeling I will be looking into reading more of her work.  This book was actually so creepy (especially when describing what happened to Alison's family) I didn't want to read this at night.  What I loved the most about this story was the creep factor.  There is really great suspense in this story where you see what happened to Alison in the past and try to figure out what really happened together with the fact that there are some creepy things happening to Alison now which made me wonder if the past wasn't going to stay in the past!  This book kept me looked right to the very end.  

There are a lot of secrets in this story that are revealed gradually as the story progresses.  Some I had guessed and some I was really surprised at.  There were  definitely some family secrets that I had not guessed at and were really interesting to read.  

I do have to say that this book does touch on an adult sensitive subject.  I can't say what that is as that would spoil part of the story but just in case you don't like that kind of thing I thought I would just mention it here to let you know.

Christobel Kent was born in London in 1962 and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and four children; in between she lived in Florence. 

She worked in publishing for several years, most recently as Publicity Director at Andre Deutsch. Her debut novel A Party in San Niccolo, was published in 2003.

29 Jul 2015

Waiting on Wednesday / The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.

Expected Release Date: 27th August 2015
(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

What if you weren’t the Chosen One?

What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions...

27 Jul 2015

Book Review/ The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

Lily Fitzpatrick loves vintage clothes - made all the more precious because they were once owned and loved by another woman. Thousands follow her vintage fashion blog and her daily Instagram feed. But this passion for the beautiful clothes of the past is about to have unforeseen consequences, when Lily stumbles upon the story of a 1950s New York beauty, who was not only everything Lily longs to be, but also shares Lily's surname.

Joy Fitzpatrick was a legend. But what was the famous dress which she once commissioned - said to be so original that nothing in couture would ever match it again? What happened to it - and why did Joy suddenly disappear from New York high society?

Kate Kerrigan's enthralling novel interweaves the dramatic story of Joy, the beautiful but tortured socialite and that of Lily - determined to uncover the truth and, if possible, bring back to life the legendary dress itself.

Published:     10th September 2015
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

Now this book was one that really surprised me.  For those who know me, I am not a fashion person.  I am not into fashion and really just wears what I like despite that it currently the 'in' thing to wear.  I have to be honest and say that I did think that maybe I wouldn't read this as this wasn't my thing but I am really glad that I decided to give it a chance.  I started off the year with the resolution that I would try to read more books that are 'out of my comfort zone' and this was definitely one of them.

This book is split into three different character perspectives.  First you have Lily who is in the present day.  She is the one that discovers a picture of the dress and becomes obsessed with finding out more about it.  Next you have Joy who we see in the 1950s.  She is the person who has the dress commissioned and wears the dress. We follow her story with her husband Frank and her story of the Dress.  Lastly you have Honor who is also in the 1950s.  She is the seamstress who made The Dress.  We follow her story making the dress and so much more as the story goes on.  I really enjoyed following each of these three character's stories but if I had to choose a favourite (or favourites) it would have to be the story of Joy and Honor.  There are a lot of ups and downs and definitely a few surprises that I never saw coming.  Another character who plays a key part in the 1950s story is Frank, Joy's husband.  He definitely has a lot of secrets in his past and in the present 1950s as well.

This is such a beautiful story that captured my imagination from the very first page.  Even if you are not keen on fashion, do give this a go.

Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, The Miracle of Grace, Ellis Island, City of Hope, Land of Dreams and The Lost Garden.

Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain’s most successful young women’s magazines before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990’s to edit Irish Tatler. 

She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo – and contributes regularly to RTE's radio's Sunday Miscellany.

Author Interview / Lorna Peel

London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan, newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle, and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?

Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. Her first novel, Only You, a contemporary romance, was published in 2014. Into The Unknown, an historical novel set during WWII, was published in May 2015.

Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she write, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?  I prefer to write alone but if I had the chance, it would be Sharon Kay Penman. I absolutely love her historical novels, especially her Welsh trilogy. The amount of research which goes into her books must be phenomenal but it never shows.
2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?  I’m not a morning person so I write in the late afternoon and evening. I like to be comfortable when I write so I tend to do most of my writing on the sofa in the living room. The TV is off but I might listen to music, depending on what I’m writing.
3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?  Finding the time in Summer to write. Winter isn’t so bad, with long, dark evenings, but Summer is harder with chickens and a garden to look after but I always make up for the lack of Summer writing in Winter.
4. When and why did you first start writing?  I was nineteen and hadn’t been encouraged to do any creative writing at school, so once I was free of school, I wanted to see if I could put my imagination to good use and actually write a full length novel from start to finish.
5. How did you come up with the idea for the book?  I wanted to show World War Two from a different perspective—from one of the many Irish people who joined the allied forces—so I created Kate. She needed a contrasting love interest, so I created Charlie.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?  I don’t have time to read very much in Summer, but I make up for it in Winter, so I have quite a few books on my combined electronic and print TBR pile. Some at the top are: Heartstone by C.J. Sansom, Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham, Faithful Place by Tana French and The Secrets of Pain by Phil Rickman.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?  Never give up. Be stubborn and grow a thick skin. Don’t allow anyone to put you or your writing down.

Amazon UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00UAY719Y
Amazon US - http://amzn.com/B00UAY719Y
iBooks UK - https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id974054282?mt=11
iBooks US - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/into-the-unknown/id974054282
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/525040
Nook UK - http://www.nook.com/gb/ebooks/into-the-unknown-by-lorna-peel/2940046616323
Barnes and Noble - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1121346684
Tirgearr Publishing - http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Peel_Lorna/into-the-unknown.htm

26 Jul 2015

My Week in Books / 20th to 26th July 2015

This was a bit of a hit and miss week for me in books.  While I was really in a reading mood unfortunately the first two books I read just didn't do it for me.  The first I tried to read was Texas Gothic below is an explanation of how I DNF'd that one.  The next was The Memory Hit which was an 'out of my comfort zone' type of read so that one honestly could have gone either way (bad or good).  Normally, I don't like stories about drugs etc so this was a trial by fire style book.  The last book was the one that I enjoyed the most this week, The Witch Hunter.  I love books about witches so that definitely had that going for it from the start.  This one got 4 stars from me.  

Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems—she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds. Not only to protect any hope of ever having a normal life.

Ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas should be exactly that. Good old ordinary, uneventful hard work. Only, Amy and her sister, Phin, aren't alone. There's someone in the house with them—and it's not the living, breathing, amazingly hot cowboy from the ranch next door.

It's a ghost, and it's more powerful than the Goodnights and all their protective spells combined. It wants something from Amy, and none of her carefully built defenses can hold it back.

This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.

This is a story that has been on my shelf for absolutely ages and is one that I was highly recommended to read as being quite scary so as I am in the middle of changing my bookshelves I thought now is as good time as any to read it (and I made sure that I started it during the day just in case!).  Honestly, I didn't find this scary or even remotely creepy.  I read about just over 100 pages and found that I just didn't care enough about what happened to the characters.  It's not to say that this wasn't a good story it was just the story wasn't going anywhere and when it did it seemed to take ages to get there, which lost my interest.  This is one that I may pick up again at another time but just could not continue with this one right now.   

23 Jul 2015

Book Review / The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Published:     1st September 2015
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, The Witch Hunter
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

What I liked about this book...

I love a good witchy book and I knew as soon as saw the title to this one that I had to read it!  What I like the most was the world building.  You have this world where there is a king, a person who controls the law of the land, the witch hunters who carry out one of the rules and you have the people who live in this world.  I liked how the structure was put together and I could tell that there was something not quite right but could not put my finger on it straight away.   I loved following Elizabeth as she goes from witch hunter to trying to disguise the fact that she is a witch hunter, discovering what she discovers along the way.  I have a feeling that there are a lot more secrets lurking in this world yet to be discovered and I cannot wait to discover them!

The two characters that really stood out to me were Nicholas Perevil and Blackwell.  Blackwell is the character who controls the law of the land and controls the witch hunters and is portrayed as a dark character.  Nicholas is a wizard who Elizabeth tries to help.  He is portrayed as the 'good guy'.  I get the feeling there is a lot of history with these characters left to discover. 

What I was not fond of with this book...
This was quite an easy read for me, meaning there was nothing to complicated to get my head around.  What I would have loved to have seen was a bit more depth into the world, a bit more description of the surroundings and what was happening.  But that said, I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to read the next one in the series although there may be a long wait for that lol!
 (From Goodreads)

Virginia Boecker recently spent four years in London obsessing over English medieval history, which formed the basis of her debut novel, The Witch Hunter. She now lives in the Bay Area, California with her husband and spends her days writing, reading, running, and chasing around her two children and a dog named George.

In addition to English kings, nine-day queens, and Protestant princesses, her other obsessions include The Smiths, art museums, champagne, and Chapstick. You can visit Virginia online at virginiaboecker.com or on Twitter @virgboecker.

22 Jul 2015

Author Interview / Lisa Ballantyne

The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she's spent her life remembering little - her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. And now she has a burning desire to discover who she is, why her life has been shrouded in secrets, and if it has anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life.

In a thriller that flits effortlessly between past and present, this is a harsh, gritty yet ultimately uplifting journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness. 


1.    If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

That is a really great question, which I have never been asked before. The nature of novel-writing is that it tends to be a solitary undertaking. Dramatists often work together, and I can visualise a writer working with an artist…but novelists working together sounds novel indeed.
            I am interested in graphic novels and loved Persepolis – because of its drama and emotion – and because I have visited Iran. Perhaps I might choose to work with Marjane Satrapi – the author of Persepolis. I am sure my work would benefit from being ‘storyboarded’ in places and perhaps we would complement eachother with our mutual interest in family, culture and religion – all themes in REDEMPTION ROAD.

2.    What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I am trying very hard to change my habits to become a morning writing person, but as of yet I tend to get all my chores done early in the day and then settle in the afternoon to write – and evening if things are going well. I am a very active, impatient person with a short attention span and so I like to do exercise before I write, as it seems to calm me down and help me to focus.

3.    What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The part of the writing process that I am engaged in at the time is the hardest part. If I am just starting to tease out a story, then that is the hardest; if I am trying to find a voice and a structure, then that will seem unsurmountable; if I am trying to get a draft finished then that can seem overwhelming and sometimes – when the novel is done and an editor has given me changes to complete - these can seem extremely challenging. I think the answer is that writing is very hard and none of it is easy. I must enjoy a challenge.

4.    When and why did you first start writing?
I started writing when I was very small, and I am sure that the reason was some kind of drive to express myself. For many years I wrote poetry, but I started writing long fiction when I was living in China. Novels are like a relationship – they’re a big commitment and you have to work on them every day and after a while, that effort becomes your habit and then it is hard to shake. No matter how I earn my money in life, I will always write.

5.    How did you come up with the idea for the book your book?
When I first began to work on REDEMPTION ROAD, I was interested in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the mechanism of memories from the past impacting on the present. The first scene of the book – involving the car crash and the strange, scarred saviour – came to me quite quickly and I knew that the burned man who rescues Margaret would be the key to her past. In writing the 1980s scenes, I knew I wanted to write about a man who steals his daughter and for the journey they undertake to be a redemptive one, spanning the whole country. I wanted the relationship between father and daughter to gradually soften as the road trip progresses, from one of captor and captive, to one of genuine mutual affection and love.

6.    Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I read a lot, but at any one time I am reading about ten books and this can be a fatiguing situation. I usually have about four or five books (sometimes more) that I am reading for research, then I usually have a novel I am reading for my own pleasure, and usually something non-fiction as well, just for me. Then there are books that I am sent to review and I often stop and focus on them so that they are not lost in the pile.
At the moment, for sheer pleasure, I am reading Marilynne Robinson’s GILEAD and Barack Obama’s DREAMS FROM MY FATHER.

 7.    Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
I don’t ever feel in a position to give advice, but I know things that have helped me! My motto is always, ‘once it’s finished, it exists’. I try not to get disheartened as I write, but press on… once a manuscript is complete you can assess it, but you can’t edit what you have not written. My other advice would be ‘write if you have to, and if you don’t…don’t’. Writing is agonising, obsessive, draining and gives you curvature of the spine. Only embark on it if you are driven to it so much that you cannot avoid it.

Waiting on Wednesday / The Next Together by Lauren James

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.

Expected Release Date: 3rd September 2015
(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

How many times can you lose the person you love?

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer.

Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different...

21 Jul 2015

Book Review / The Memory Hit by Carla Spradbery

On New Year's Eve, Jess's life is unrecognizable: her best friend is in the hospital, her boyfriend is a cheater. A drug-dealing cheater it would seem, after finding a stash of Nostalgex in his bag.

Nostalgex: a drug that stimulates memory. In small doses, a person can remember the order of a deck of cards, or an entire revision guide read the day before an exam. In larger doses it allows the user detailed access to their past, almost like watching a DVD with the ability to pause a moment in time, to focus on previously unnoticed details and to see everything they've ever experienced with fresh eyes. As Leon, the local dealer, says 'it's like life, only better.' What he fails to mention is that most memories are clouded by emotions. Even the most vivid memories can look very different when visited.

Across town Sam Cooper is in trouble. Again. This time, gagged and bound in the boot of a car. Getting on the wrong side of a drug dealer is never a good idea, but if he doesn't make enough money to feed and clothe his sister, who will?

On New Year's Day, Jess and Cooper's worlds collide. They must put behind their differences and work together to look into their pasts to uncover a series of events that will lead them to know what really happened on that fateful New Year's Eve. But what they find is that everything they had once believed to be true, turns out to be a lie ...

Published:    4th June 2015
Publisher:  Hodder
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

I am afraid that this one one of those books that 'I could not get into but was invested enough to continue reading until the end because I wanted to know what happened'.  I was really sad I could not get into this book, it sounded like one of those stories that would be fast paced and full of surprises.  I found that it was neither - slow paced and really no surprises at all.  I had guessed pretty much the entire story in the first few chapters.  I think if I hadn't guessed what was going on then this story would have been more of a three or four star review but as there were no surprises there was no 'hook' to draw me in and want to know more.  Jess was my favourite character in this story as she seemed to be the 'innocent' in the madness and it was interesting to follow her story.

I am really sad that I could not get into this book but if you are after an easy read and like reading this sort of thing then do pick it up.  It is worth a try if this is the type of story you are into.

After working with teenagers for more than a decade, Carla decided to start writing for and about them. Having had a lifelong obsession with dark literature, it only seemed natural to write stories that would thrill, scare and maybe make her readers think twice about reading alone in the dark.

Carla lives in Hampshire with her husband and two children. She still enjoys working with teenagers, although she finds it harder and harder to understand why the music they like has to be quite so loud.

20 Jul 2015

Author Interview / Tonya Plank

Rory’s once promising ballet career was destroyed by family tragedy and illness. She turned her life around and became a lawyer. Now at the start of her legal career, she lacks passion in her work and self-confidence in her abilities. But when she meets gorgeous, mysterious Russian ballroom dancer, Sasha, at a firm holiday party, her passions for life and dance are immediately re-kindled.

Since being torn from his Siberian family as a child, Sasha’s life ambition has been to be world ballroom champion, a path he was destined for until his former partner pulled the plug on their partnership. She went on to win the world title, leaving him, without a partner equal in ability, forever in second place. The instant he lays eyes on Rory, he recognizes the depth of her passion and talent, and falls hard for her in more ways than one.

But she also reminds him of great pain from his past. He must not only overcome his own demons but convince her to leave her demanding law career, and all that she has worked for in her adult life, to train with him full-time in order for their partnership – both on and off the dance floor – to work.

This is part one in a continuing three-book series.

1) If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?   Oh my gosh, this is one of the hardest questions I've been asked! I have so many favorite authors, it's so hard to choose. But I guess my absolute dream right now would be to collaborate with Alice Clayton. I just love her totally off-the-wall sense of humor. Even though her sex scenes are full of such zaniness, they still contain such passion and fire. I think my love scenes are full of passion and desire as well - I have a lot of repressed desire in mine, actually. But I would love to let loose a bit more, and not have everything seem so serious. I'm good with humor - bawdy humor included - in the scenes where Rory, my main character, learns to partner dance. There are lots of crazy, goofy missteps. But my love scenes are so dramatic and angsty. I would love to be able to let loose and bring out the humor there a bit more. Just like Alice!
2) What would be a typical working day for you?  When and where do you write?   A typical writing day depends on whether I'm working at a day job at the time. I do contract-based attorney jobs. So when I'm working on a project, I'll try to put in at least two hours of writing every weeknight after I get home and have dinner and walk the dog. Then, on the weekends, I work all day, eight hours at least. My apartment gets rather messy during those times! But when I'm fortunate enough to have a few weeks off from work, then I'll write like every day is a weekend day - eight hours each day. I work really hard during those times; that's actually when most of the writing gets done.
3) What is the hardest part of the writing for you?   The hardest part of writing for me is writing too much and then having to go back and take things out. I tend to describe things in way too much detail. So when I'm re-working the draft, I'll have to figure out which parts are the ones that aren't necessary. I hate cutting!
4) When and why did you first start writing?  I feel like I've always written, at least since I was a small child. I remember when I was very young my mom got me hooked on the "Little House on the Prairie" books. My grandmother always told me such fascinating stories about growing up in her little log cabin in the woods, and they reminded me of the Laura Ingalls books. I thought I was going to write the same kind of series, from my grandma's perspective! But that never happened of course. I took creative writing classes all throughout high school and college though. Even during law school, I took some fiction workshops. They really kept me sane. My first novel came out of one of those workshops.
5) How did you come up with the idea for the book?   I came up with the idea for my "Fever" series from my experiences as an amateur ballroom dancer, and my love of romance novels. I met so many fascinating people in the ballroom world - both professional dancers, and people from other walks of life who were just taking lessons at night. So many different kinds of people come together in a dance studio. And there were sweet little romances that would develop. Plus, there were so many really talented, gorgeous male dancers, I just felt like that type of man would make a perfect hero for a romance novel! The dance world is replete with passion and drama and competition and just ... hot, thrilling dancers - all things that make for a great romance!
6)  Are you a big reader?  If so, what are you reading now?  Yes, I love to read! I'm probably a reader before I'm a writer. I recently returned from Romantic Times BookLovers Convention in Dallas and brought back so many books. Right now I'm simultaneously reading "The Master" by Kresley Cole, "Loving Dallas" by Caisey Quinn, and "The Marriage Pact" by M.J. Pullen, all of which I got there.
7) Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?   My advice to other aspiring writers is to read as much as you can. You learn so much about good writing from just reading great books. And read a lot of books in your genre. Read the blogs and the reviews, and know what readers are loving about the type of books you want to write. And try to write everyday, even if you only have a small amount of time. It really helps to have a schedule.

19 Jul 2015

My Two Weeks in Books / 4th to 19th July 2015

What a mixed reading fortnight I had.  My favourite book out of the four that I read this fortnight would have to be The Turning Point.  Not only was it a new author for me so that was refreshing but it was one of those books that I got completely engrossed in reading and did not want to put it down, even when I got to the very end.  A very emotional read.  Lying Out Loud had the great comedic writing of Kodi Keplinger but it didn't really hit the right reading spot, emotionally.  The Boy that Never was and The Treacle Well were both OK reads for me.  I read them all the way through but they didn't make much of an impact on me as I wish they had done.