18 Jun 2018

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Series Review / The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater


“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


Publisher:  Scholastic
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 4, The Raven Cycle
Source:  Owned




MY REVIEW

I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up this series to start to read it and never continue.  I think the furthest I had got to before this time was about 50 pages and I am really not sure why!  I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing, having read and loved her Shiver series and also read her stand alone novel The Scorpio Races and guess what I loved that too!  This time around I was determined to read through the series and figure out what this series was all about.  I am so glad that I gave this story a chance.  This was so much fun to read.

This story was more about the search for the ley lines and all that sleeps beneath rather than a love story between any of the characters.  That's not to say that there isn't any romance along the way but its not the main part of this series.  The best part of this series for me was definitely the characters, more particularly the Raven boys 'gang' including Gansey and Blue with her family also.  The dynamics of the relationships between them felt so real I could not help but feel happy or sad (whatever the case may be) for them.

That said, for me, I felt that the story dragged a bit.  Although this series had a lot of plot and history it just seemed as though it could have worked just as well if it was a duology or trilogy rather than a four part series.

All in all, this was a really fun read with interesting characters and a wealth of history.  A bit dragged out in places but definitely worth the read.


Continue reading Series Review / The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

15 Jun 2018

Author Interview / Krystal Ford

On the eve of the 2016 elections, young Republican Megan Thompson faces a once-in-a lifetime opportunity when her boss decides to groom her to run for his congressional seat in 2018. Ambitious and pragmatic, Megan is missing just one thing: a wealthy, well-connected trophy husband.

So, when Megan moves from Florida to DC and lets the congressman broker a power match, she’s looking to get down to work, not fall in love. And she’s definitely not looking to make nice with her new roommate, Andrew Croswell, a liberal environmentalist determined to make her life hell.

After a series of unpleasant blind dates, Megan begins to lose hope of finding her shiny white Republican knight in time to boost her appeal to donors and voters. At last she hits it off with Brock, a dashing, Don Draperesque spokesman for the NRA, and even love-shy Megan thinks he could be “the one.” But as the year progresses, she and Andrew start getting along a little too well, and Megan finds herself second-guessing all her well-laid plans.

Things start spinning out of control when a special election pushes everything up by a year. As Megan races against the clock, she’ll do anything to win—almost. Now she must choose: career over love, or love over politics?

Across the Divide follows genuine, familiar characters from both sides of the aisle, smashing stereotypes and striving to make sense of our not-so-brave new world. Most of all, it asks a crucial question: Can love bridge the great American divide?


AUTHOR INTERVIEW
1.     If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I just finished Jodi Picoult’s book Small Great Things, and I loved it. I could tell she did a ton of research to get this right and she did a fantastic job with the different point of views as well, plus she’s a great storyteller.  I could learn a lot from her.
 
2.     What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I have two young kids. I typically get home around 9 am after dropping everyone off.  I write at my dinning room table, even though I have an office, but my office is a mess.  Who has time to organize? Not me. In the summer I write outside on my patio. I love my backyard, I’m surrounded by trees and flowers and birds (I’m an amateur gardener.)  I only get six hours to work before I have to pick everyone back up again. On the weekends when my kids are watching tv you can find my typing away on my computer, I always work best right after I have my first coffee of the day.
3.     What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Reading what I write. It sounds so great in my head and then I’ll read it and think this could be so much better.
4.     When and why did you first start writing?
To be honest, the first time I ever started writing fiction was last June!  I’ve always wanted to write a book. My Masters thesis was a food memoir but I struggled to tell a story instead of recite the past (boring), so my memoir got put aside and I had a couple of kids. But I’m a storyteller, I love to tell stories. I like putting the world under a magnifying glass.  I want to know the why behind peoples’ actions. And I really enjoy research and learning new things. I think you need to be naturally curious about the world and people if you want to write.
5.     How did you come up with the idea for your book?
While I was driving (I have some of my best ideas driving… of course when I can’t write them down) but the thought popped into my head can two people from opposite parties even date in these divisive times? I know there are plenty of couples who have different political views, but would that be a red flag if you were dating now?  My gut reaction was to say no, people can't date across the political divide now. That's when I knew I had to explore it. I had to find away to make it work. What else but love unites us?
6.     Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Oh yes. I love to read books.  I probably read about 3-4 books a month.  I just finished the novel How to Walk Away by Katherine Center, I couldn't put it down.
7.  Did you always like fiction?
Ha, ha. So here’s a confession, I used to be a snob about fiction.  I would only read depressing non-fiction books about social injustices, everything from factory farming, CIA coups, to genocides in Africa.  My husband used to tease me and said I read the most depressing books. My good friend tried to get me into fiction but I said I only wanted to read “real” books. But after my son was born I really got into fiction and that’s basically all I read now, unless I am doing research.  I’ve come to realize there can be more truth in fiction than in non-fiction.
8.     Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Give yourself a deadline.  Just write and don’t worry about revising. Just get that first draft done. I wrote my first 60,000 words over 8 weeks while my kids were at summer camp!  And it doesn’t matter what the first draft looks like. It doesn’t matter if you throw half of it away. Its all part of the process. If you find yourself stuck and can’t write, take a break and do research, that helps me get my imagination going.  Oh, and find a good writing program, I used Scrivner, it is so much easier to keep the draft organized that way!




Continue reading Author Interview / Krystal Ford

11 Jun 2018

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Duology Review / 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson



Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.
In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.


Published:     2010
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 and 2, Little Blue Envelopes
Source:   Owned



MY REVIEW

Having read the first book many years ago, I remembered that I loved it and had only just realised that there was a follow on book.  I did think that the first book was left very open ended and weird but I had thought it was one of those books that leaves it to the reader to decide what happens next (which usually is a pet hate of mine).  As it had been a while, I re-read the first book and loved how fun it was.  Nothing complicated, just following Ginny as she follows her crazy aunt's wishes.  I did feel that maybe Ginny was a bit young to be travelling all around the world on her own and felt that she was very naive in more than one circumstance and didn't seem to learn from her mistakes.

These were fun reads and ones that, honestly, I would have really enjoyed a lot more when I was a teenager/young adult.   Although I feel that this duology would have been much better as a single novel, it was interesting and I did enjoy the theme of a crazy aunt trying to help her niece come out of her shell.



Continue reading Duology Review / 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

8 Jun 2018

Author Interview / Debbra Lynn





Beyond the Red Carpet -https://amzn.to/2jIvOcQ
 Sophia Donovan had it all: a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills, a successful career at a high-profile celebrity magazine, amazing friends – and she was married to one of the hottest Hollywood Directors of their time. Things between her and her husband Marcus weren’t perfect but after 11 years, what marriage was? But if the secrets that lay behind the walls of the Donovan home were ever exposed life would never be the same for anyone.
When an unexpected visitor from Sophia’s past shows up, it forces her to come to terms with her suspicions. As she unravels the truth about the people closest to her, it quickly becomes clear that fighting to save her marriage won’t be nearly as important as fighting to save her life.

Heart of Stone - https://amzn.to/2jIj8TD
Caleb Stone’s life had never been easy – though nurtured by a loving and devoted mother, he’d been forced to become a man early at the hands of his abusive father. If it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of the woman who would eventually show him what true love was, Caleb’s dream of becoming a police officer may never have come true.
Now one of Los Angeles’ finest homicide detectives, Caleb hadn’t foreseen the impact his past would have on his life, or the lengths he’d be willing to go to in order to protect the people who couldn’t protect themselves. His life was full of secrets and lies, but it was his life, and more importantly it was the life that would put him directly in the path of the woman who would change his world forever.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? Tough question, I like a wide variety. But I think the most interesting experience would be Stephen King. He has a wicked imagination and I would love to watch him and work with him to watch how he creates all of the madness he does.

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? Well I still work a regular job as I complete my trilogy. So I work Monday to Thursday and I try to leave Fridays for myself to write. I will also try to write Saturdays but with summer coming that probably will get pushed. I just finished the third book in my trilogy so now I am just waiting for the editing process to start then I will take the summer off before I start the next one.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you? Honestly, I think it is writing the book blurb or the synopsis. It is so difficult to wrap up your story in such few words. Usually the writing part comes fairly easy. I mean, I struggle with plots and characters just like everyone else but it always comes to me in the end somehow.

4. When and why did you first start writing? I have always wanted to write. I have always read a lot. I had a small idea in my head a few years back and I wanted to write a book but I thought there was no way I could create an interesting book. Now I am on the third. I started writing my first book Beyond the Red Carpet in June of 2015 and I had it released in December. Then I wrote the prequel Heart of Stone and had that one released in June of 2016. The third and final book in the series proved to be much more difficult. I had a 2 year block but I worked through it and it will be released this summer.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book? I love to watch a lot of movies and crime shows. So the basic beginning of the idea came from that. However, the entire premise of my story developed as I wrote and as the characters came alive. As I began to know my characters my story took on a life of it's own.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? I am, I go to local thrift stores and browse and whatever looks interesting I read. I don't always recall the names of the authors. I am reading a book right now but cannot recall the name. I like to read Tami Hoag, Sandra Brown, Dean Koontz, I used to love Danielle Steel but I found most of the stories became to similar. I also love to read true crime books.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers? Yes, do it for the love of writing. Do not do it to become rich and famous because that adds such an unwanted amount of pressure it takes the joy out of it. Have patience and if you are faced with a block just take time, step back and it will come when it is ready. Don't give up though because to be able to write a book from beginning to end is such an accomplishment, even if you don't make a load of money off it.



Continue reading Author Interview / Debbra Lynn

6 Jun 2018

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Book Review / The Chamber by John Grisham


5355

In the corridors of Chicago's top law firm:

Twenty -six-year-old Adam Hall stands on the brink of a brilliant legal career. Now he is risking it all for a death-row killer and an impossible case.

Maximum Security Unit, Mississippi State Prison:

Sam Cayhall is a former Klansman and unrepentant racist now facing the death penalty for a fatal bombing in 1967. He has run out of chances -- except for one: the young, liberal Chicago lawyer who just happens to be his grandson.

While the executioners prepare the gas chamber, while the protesters gather and the TV cameras wait, Adam has only days, hours, minutes to save his client. For between the two men is a chasm of shame, family lies, and secrets -- including the one secret that could save Sam Cayhall's life... or cost Adam his.


Published:     2005
Publisher:  Doubleday

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

The one thing I am rediscovering that I absolutely love about John Grisham is that he has the writing power to make me thing.  In every single book I have read so far there has always been a issue, whether moral or something else, that has made me thing for hours if not days after finishing the book.  This book was no exception to that.   There are so many aspects to think about, some of which I won't be able to tell you about as that would spoil but what I can say is you have this klansman who is on death row for murder in respect of a bombing and you have a lawyer who wants to defend that person.  Why would someone want to do that?  He has his reasons, that's for sure, but it was certainly interesting to follow Adam and watch what he does. 

This book was written so beautifully that even I had was hoping that things all worked out for the best for Sam, despite what he had done.  After finishing the book, I am glad about the decisions that were made at the end of the book and completely agree about it. 

Continue reading Book Review / The Chamber by John Grisham

4 Jun 2018

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Series Review / Night School by CJ Daughtery


Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. Her brother’s run away from home. Her parents ignore her. And she’s just been arrested.

Again.

This time her parents have had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to boarding school, far from her London friends.

But at Cimmeria Academy, Allie is soon caught up in the strange activities of a secret group of elite students.

When she’s attacked late one night the incident sets off a chain of increasingly violent events. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, she finds out that nothing at Cimmeria is what it seems to be.

And that she is not who she thought she was.


Published:      2012
Publisher:  Atom
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 5, Night School

Source:  Owned
 


MY REVIEW

In the same theme as many of the books I am reading this year, this was a series that has been on my TBR for AGES....  I had read the first book in the series back in 2013 just when it had come out and remembered that I loved it but never got around to reading the rest.  I am really glad that I decided to pick this up again.  I had not remembered much from reading book 1 previously so it really was like delving into this for the first time.

I found the writing very addictive.  I was always left wanting to read just a bit more, even when I was struggling to keep my eyes open late at night.  Although there are quite a few characters in this story, the author has done a very good job at making each and every character rememberable and either likeable or unlikeable, whatever the case may be.  However, I do have to say that I found the main character, Allie, to be very childish and very selfish in parts of this series.  She was going to do what she wanted to do, even if she thinks she is doing the right thing, without really thinking it through or thinking about anyone else.  I found that highly irritating.

In places I did feel that the story dragged and certainly felt that this might have been even more action packed had the story been a 3 or 4 book series rather than 5.









Continue reading Series Review / Night School by CJ Daughtery

Author Interview / Karen King (The Bridesmaid's Dilemma)





Every summer has a story... Fun-loving travel rep Jess doesn't want to be chief bridesmaid at her snooty cousin's wedding, but it will cause a family feud if she refuses. She doesn't want to fall in love either, but when a raucous stag party arrives at her Majorcan hotel, Jess hits it off instantly with best man, Eddie. A summer romance is exactly what commitment-phobe Jess needs and, as the stag-do draws to a close, so does the holiday fling. She has no intentions of carrying on the summer fun but when Eddie turns up again, Jess is faced with a big dilemma. Will this bridesmaid get the happy-ever-after she never knew she wanted...






 AUTHOR INTERVIEW


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
There are lots of authors I admire but I’m not sure I could work with them, I’d be so in awe of their talent I think I’d feel everything I wrote was rubbish.


What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I moved to Spain in November last year and no longer have a typical working day. I write when and where I can. Some mornings I work on my laptop at 6 am, sitting up in bed, then I might work in the studio room on the upstairs terrace which is my official office, afternoons you might find me in my husband’s shed, or sitting by the pool with my laptop in a cardboard box to shade the screen from the sun, and evenings I often work on the table in the corner of the lounge. Some days I hardly find time to write at all, other days I will write all day and well into the evening – with the occasional pool break.
 
What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
I always find setting and description the most difficult to write. I find that writing character, action and dialogue flows quite easily, but I really have to stop and think when I write setting and description. I think it may be because of all my earlier work writing for teen and children’s magazines where the word limit was too tight to allow for description, the picture told it all. When I’ve written my first draft I go back over it and add more description and visualization to the scenes


When and why did you first start writing?
Although I’ve always written stories and poems it wasn’t until I had three young children that I started sending my work out to magazines. After a while Jackie magazine accepted an article of mine and asked me to write more. I wrote features and photo stories for them, then for other teen magazines such as Loving and Patches. Just after my fourth child was born I started writing regularly for children’s comics such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh, I then wrote children’s books too and about ten years ago started writing YA and romance novels.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I’ve often admired the travel reps at the resorts I’ve holidayed in, they work hard and play hard. I thought a story involving a character working as a travel rep would be really interesting. They have to cope with so many different customers, including stag and hen parties, and there might be times when they have a summer romance with holiday-makers. When my husband, Dave, booked us a third anniversary trip to Majorca a couple of years ago I thought that would make a great setting, popped in a few complications to the story, and off I went.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I love reading but don’t always find time to read as much as I want to. My kindle is loaded with books waiting for me to read. I’m a big fan of Mandy Baggot and am looking forward to reading her ‘Desperately Seeking Summer’. I also love Sophie Kinsella and Sharon Shinn. I mainly read romance novels but sometimes I’ll read a thriller, I thought ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn was fantastic, also ‘Before I Go to Sleep’ by S.J. Watson. My all time favourite though is ‘Gone With The Wind’ – what an epic tale with fantastic characters.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers? 
Don’t give up on your dream. Keep writing, rewriting and sending off your work. And don’t forget to make time for reading, reading is the foundation for writing.
 


Continue reading Author Interview / Karen King (The Bridesmaid's Dilemma)