Thursday, 3 October 2013

The End.

Well hello again. It's been such a long time since I've written a post and in that time I've done a lot of thinking. In the past two years, blogging has been a key part of my life and it was one of the main things I spent my time doing. At that time in my life it fitted perfectly due to being out of education with not much else to do but now I've just started my last year of college and I'm already applying for university's. Time has flown by and I have loved blogging and interacting with all readers, but things must come to an end. I'm sad to say that I will no longer be blogging. Yes I know I've been pretty much inactive the past few months but its really given me time to do other things in my life and allowed me to plan my future. In that future there is no blogging and reviewing. At the current moment in my life I want to focus on my education as it is so important to me. It is also very time consuming but it's totally worth it when you get the qualifications in the end. I will have no time for blogging and hardly any time for reading, so the decision comes at the correct time and just feels right. So this is a farewell post. For the time being I will leave the blog up and online but in the future I may take it down. 

Lastly I want to thank all of the publishers, authors, readers and fellow bloggers who have made this such an amazing experience and one I've learnt so much from. It's goodbye from me! I will still be online on twitter, pinterest etc but just not here. Once again thank you all! 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Blog Tour and Guest Post: Undeniable By Liz Bankes

Welcome to this stop on the Undeniable Blog Tour! Today I have a guest post from the author of Undeniable, Liz Bankes. For the guest post she has chosen her top five teen dramas. Here it is:

My Top Five Teen Dramas By Liz Bankes

In UNDENIABLE Gabi gets a rather awesome summer job - she is a runner on her favourite TV show ever, The Halls. I love a good teen drama. They give you people to fancy and couples to get obsessed with, as well as many moments of heart-leaping, weeping and hilarousness - some of it unintentional (Dawson Leery's crying face). So here are some of my faves: 

1. Skins 
I have a bit of an odd thing with Skins. On one hand I love the drama, craziness and the heartbreak, on the other I am very aware that my teen years were no way near as cool as Skins and far more like the Inbetweeners. Nevertheless, Skins gave me plenty of couples to love - Sid and Cassie, Emily and Naomi, Mini and Alo, Chris and Jal, Cook and Effie (shhh I know I was meant to say Freddie). And with actual teenagers, rather than 25-year-olds playing 15-year-olds. (See no.2) 

Best moment: a tie between Emily and Naomi in Freddie's shed (series 4) and fireworks for Chris (series 2) 

Worst moment: Series 7. HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO ME. 

2. Dawson's Creek 
The original. DC went out on T4 on Sundays when I was in year 9 and so Monday morning at school began with Dawson’s Creek breakdown. Which mainly consisted of: will Joey pick Dawson or Pacey? and I WISH PACEY WAS REAL. It featured the oldest looking 15-year-olds the world has ever seen, saying things like ‘psychoanalyse’ and ‘non seqitur’ like it was normal, but Dawson’s was still undeniably awesome. 

Best moment: Dawson’s crying face and Pacey and Joey aboard the True Love can be merged into one, as they happen within moments of each other. No one knew whether to cry or hysterically laugh. 

Worst moment: I always wonder who thought it would be a good idea for Dawson’s dad to die because he lent down to pick up an ice cream off the floor of his car. I was supposed to be all sad and shocked, but instead I was thinking, ‘did he think he could still eat it??’ 

3. As If 
Before Skins came along, the British version of Dawson’s Creek was As If, with its set of six students and their tangled relationships. And with an added 90s catchphrase as a title. Cheeky Jamie was, for me, the British Pacey and he was part of the fans’ favourite couple, Jamie and Sooz. It also starred Lost in Austen’s Jemima Rooper, adding to my feeling that I LOVE EVERYTHING SHE DOES. 

Best moment: Jamie and Sooz finally get together. In a shopping trolley. 

Worst moment: Jamie and Sooz get untogether when she has a stupid affair with a stupid artist man. 

4. The O.C. 
At the beginning this seemed like it might fall into the unintentionally hilarious category, when bad-boy-actual-criminal Ryan pitched up in posh OC land and said ‘I stole a car’ in a voice so deep it was mostly just vibrations. Luckily the show lightened up after that and became an addictive mix of love dramas, family secrets, comedy and people getting shot. There were also plenty of people to fancy, if we ignore the season of Ryan’s bowl haircut. 

Best moment: Seth and Summer’s spider man kiss. 

Worst moment: ‘I stole a car’. 

5. Sugar Rush 
I loved this book and was very excited when it was made into a TV show starring Girls in Love girl. It was the story of Kim (Girls in Love girl) who was secretly in love with her bit mad, bit bad best friend Sugar. Kim followed Sugar round Brighton, getting into dodgy scrapes and being in love with her, but gradually becoming more confident about who she was. 

Best moment: Sugar is in loads of trouble and Kim has to finally decide whether to keep getting involved in her friend’s mistakes. The conclusion involves a chase, a hotel room and some car stealing that would make Ryan from the OC proud. 

Worst moment: Saint, with her cool hair and clothes and general coolness, was lovely and probably a better girlfriend for Kim, but I was always a Kim and Sugar fan, so I quite wanted her to go away.

Thank you Liz for the great guest post! 

About Undeniable: 

Release Date: 1st August 2013
Publisher: Picadilly Press
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192

Synopsis: Frank, funny and fabulous – the new romantic novel from Liz Bankes

Gabi is so excited – she's spending the summer working as a runner on her favourite TV show. It's a dream come true! Plus it's perfect for for distracting her from The Break-Up – especially with all those gorgeous actors around.

And then there's Spencer Black: student, extra, expert flirt. Everything with him is fun, intoxicating – and uncertain. Things between them are hotting up when he lands a minor role on the show. So is it make or break for them? Is Spencer undeniably the one for Gabi?

About the Author: 

Liz Bankes grew up in Sevenoaks (or One-oak as it should be called since six of the oaks fell down). 
As a child she was passionate about books, the Beano and Ryan Giggs.

She has been writing since she was little, drawing plenty of cartoons and comic strips, giving them to her family to read and then waiting patiently (staring at them intensely) until they laughed. In year 6 she co-wrote, with a friend, The Sealyham Story (like the Iliad, but in Wales), which was scandalously ignored by all the major literary prizes. Then at secondary school she wrote a story about a woman who killed people and turned them into pies. Instead of a referral to a psychologist the school gave her a creative writing prize and sent her on her way.

Since then she’s been writing book reviews and blog posts (find out more on her blog site) and, secretly, more stories.

Thank you to Liz for stopping by and to Piccadilly Press for inviting me to be a host on the blog tour.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Blog Tour and Author Interview: The Wild Girl By Kate Forsyth

Welcome to this stop on The Wild Girl Blog Tour. Today I have an interview with Kate Forsyth, the talented author of The Wild Girl. The Wild Girl is a enchanting novel which I highly recommend, you can find a link to my review further down the post. But first lets hear more from Kate Forsyth.

Author Interview with Kate Forsyth: 

What inspired you to write The Wild Girl?
I was researching the origins of the Grimm fairy tales for another book I was writing and just stumbled across the story of Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told Wilhelm Grimm many of the brothers’ most compelling fairy tales and – in the end – married him. I was struck at once by the fact that she was utterly unknown, and yet she told all this marvelous tales that everyone knows nowadays. I knew at once I wanted to tell her story. It was absolutely electrifying. 

How much research did you have to do for The Wild Girl? From the Grimm brothers themselves to the French occupation, the book is steeped in history that you manage to pull together so well but at first it must have been hard to find all of this information? 
It was an enormous lot of research, primarily because I was coming from such a place of ignorance. I knew nothing about Napoleon, or about life in Germany in the early 1800s. I am, however, undertaking my doctorate in fairy tales and so I knew quite a lot both about the Grimm brothers and also about how to undertake research. It took quite a long time, but I really loved every moment of it. Such a fascinating period of history and such an interesting topic. 

Ok then out of all your research you have done, what has been your favourite fact or discovery?
I loved all the research I did into the fairy tales and their sources, and into daily life in a small Hessian town – that was fascinating. Dortchen, for example, would have had to make her own soap from the ashes of her kitchen fire. She would also have collected the urine from all the chamber-pots and used it to spot-clean dirty linens. Yes, pee is a great, natural bleach. She would also have saved all the potato peels to starch her father’s cravats. I also loved reading up on 19th century apothecaries – I could whip you up some laudanum for you if you brought me some brandy and a lump of raw opium. And I found out that Napoleon was born with teeth! Apparently the old wives’ tale is that any baby born with teeth wants to devour the world alive and he certainly wanted to do that. 

Both the Wild Girl and Bitter Greens are fairy tale retellings combined with real history, what draws you to write this type of story?
I’ve always loved historical fiction and I’ve always loved fairy tales, and so it felt natural to put them together. As a storyteller myself, finding out the life stories of the women who first told these wonderful tales was utterly intriguing and moving. Their lives are like fairy tales themselves – filled with romance, drama, tragedy and ultimate triumph.

Dortchen is a strong female character and in your previous book Bitter Greens, the novel was told from three female points of views all of whom were strong in their own ways. Do you aim to write the characters this way or do they just take control?
Dortchen and Charlotte-Rose and my other heroines are all their own people and all I do is run after them writing down what they do and say. I am, however, naturally drawn to stories about strong women with something to say. 

As we are talking about characters can you tell us which ones are your favourite? And to make it slightly harder can you pick your favourite Grimm and then your favourite Wild?
Well, that’s easy! Dortchen Wild is absolutely my favourite character in The Wild Girl. I lived inside her skin for months and months, I feel like she’s a sister of the soul for me. Wilhelm Grimm wins hands down too – I think of him as the quintessential romantic hero – dark, brooding, intense, poetic, passionate ….

How long did the Wild Girl take to write? Where there many challenges on the way?
So many challenges! Far too many to list. I had to teach myself to read German, for example, and not modern German either – I had to learn the High German of the early 19th century. I had to compile a list of all the Grimm fairy tales and find out where and when each one was told. That took ages! All up the research took about a year and the writing and editing took another.

What is your favourite Brothers Grimm fairy tale?
I love many of them, but particular favourites are ‘Six Swans’, ‘’The Singing, Springing Lark’ which is a Beauty-and-the-Beast-type tale, ‘Sweetheart Roland’, ‘Dornroschen’, which we know as ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Aschenputtel’, a Cinderella-type tale. 

In the synopsis for The Wild Girl it says, “Once there were six sisters, The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one... And then there was the wild one.” Which one would you say you are?
Oh I’m the wild one too! Just ask my sister. 

Can readers look forward to another fairy tale retelling from you in the future? 
I’m just about to start work on a retelling of one of Dortchen’s tales, ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ (a Beauty and the Beast variant) set in Nazi Germany. I’m so looking forward to that!

Thank you Kate for taking your time to answer my questions!

About the Book:

The Wild Girl
Release Date: 22nd July 2013
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 350 

Synopsis: Once there were six sisters. The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one...And then there was the wild one.

Dortchen Wild has loved Wilhelm Grimm since she was a young girl. Under the forbidding shadow of her father, the pair meet secretly to piece together a magical fairy tale collection. The story behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm.

About the Author: 

Kate Forsyth is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 books for adults and children , translated into 13 languages. She was recently named in the Top 25 of Australia's Favourite Novelists. Since The Witches of Eileanan was named a Best First Novel by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for many awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Gypsy Crown series of children's historical novels. Kate’s latest novel, Bitter Greens, interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale with the scandalous life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de la Force. It has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’ and ‘an imaginative weaving of magic, fairy tale and history’. A direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, Kate is currently studying a doctorate in fairy tales at the University of Technology in Sydney, where she lives by the sea, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

Please visit Kate Forsyth's WEBSITE and BLOG for more information. You can also find her on FACEBOOK and follow her on TWITTER.

Huge thanks to Kate Forsyth for answering my questions. Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to take part and host Kate and The Wild Girl. You can find my 5 star review of The Wild Girl here. Also be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour, you can find the schedule here. Thank you all for stopping by! 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Blog Tour and Review: The Wild Girl By Kate Forsyth

Welcome to this stop on The Wild Girl Blog Tour! Today I have a review of the enthralling novel that is The Wild Girl. Tomorrow I will have an interview with the author Kate Forsyth so be sure to check back then. So without further ado:

The Wild Girl
Release Date: 22nd July 2013
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 350
Source: Received from publisher as part of the blog tour. 

Synopsis: Once there were six sisters. The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one...And then there was the wild one.

Dortchen Wild has loved Wilhelm Grimm since she was a young girl. Under the forbidding shadow of her father, the pair meet secretly to piece together a magical fairy tale collection. The story behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm.

Review: After reading the flawlessly written Bitter Greens By Kate Forsyth I was incredibly excited to see what she produced next. To find out it was another fairy tale retelling filled me with joy. That novel is The Wild Girl and just like before Forsyth has written an enchanting novel that many readers will love. The novel itself is full of detail and is written so beautifully that you can't help but always read more than you originally set out to do. The world in which the novel is set has been clearly described and painted in the readers mind that it makes the story that much better. The readers are really drawn deep into the story and they will feel attached to the characters and the world around them. I only have good words about The Wild Girl, once again Kate Forsyth has successfully woven real lives and fairy tales set amongst a background steeped in history. 

The Wild Girl tells the story of a girl called Dortchen Wild. She is the wild girl, not only by name but by nature. Dortchen lives in a German town called Cassel during the Napoleonic Wars. The Wilds live next door to the Grimm family and play a key part in the success of the Brothers Grimm. Dortchen and her five sisters tell the Grimm brothers many fairy tales which would go on to be included in their story collection. The novel begins when Dortchen is a young girl and she firsts meets Wilhelm Grimm. As the story progresses we see the relationship between the two grow and expand, sometimes even stretching to its limits. All of this takes place while their town is in chaos and uproar due to the Napoleonic wars. Cassel is continuously being invaded and both families have to fight to survive when food and money is scarce. We see both face many problems but the thing that keeps them going is the fairy tales they both love. This is the story behind the stories themselves. 

We see a lot of character growth with Dortchen, so much happens and so much changes but the love for the character remains steady throughout the whole novel. Dortchen is a fully detailed character and one whose journey you will love to share despite some darkness and hard truths. At first we see Dortchen as a reckless wild young girl, who always breaks the rules even though she will be punished later. She is carefree and reckless and has a strength about her. She is also one of the kindest characters you will ever read about, she will always try and help those in need even when she herself is troubled. But soon she has to grow up, at first she remains wild but then her father begins to enforce more rules and she gets beaten when she disobeys. This breaks the wildness slightly, it's still there but now there is caution and even a level of maturity about her. Throughout the novel we see Dortchen grow and change. Times become extremely hard for her, not only is the country at war, there is also some problems at home. Some dark and inexcusable things happen and it changes Dortchen forever. It begins to crack the wild girl and soon it all weeps away leaving a dull mannequin in the place of the previously joyous girl. Will Dortchen be able to overcome the terrible things that have happened to her and begin to trust people again? Well you'll have to read and find out. I can guarantee that the detail and realness to the character will blow you away. 

There are many strong supporting characters in The Wild Girl, from the Wild Girls to the Grimms, all of them are great, flawed and real like they should be. Wilhelm is my personal favourite, historical romance fans will find him extremely swoon worthy. He is such a gentleman with a soft heart. He always looks out for his family first and will do anything to ensure that they are safe and are cared for, even if that means sacrificing his health and well-being. His love of literature and the written word is so profound and detailed you can tell the author has done so much research to get things so precise. 

Although I have already touched upon it, I would like to talk about the detailed backdrop of the story. It is set in Cassel, a German town during the Napoleonic Wars. Many times it is invaded and thrown into chaos, while other times the whole town is celebrating. In a way the town was a character in its own right, always changing and developing as things happened to it. It really changed throughout the novel and it will never be the same again, I think this greatly resembles the growth we have in characters. You can tell just by reading a small part of the novel that Kate Forsyth has spent a lot of time researching the place and the history that takes place in the novel. It is wonderfully described and flawless. As a reader you can imagine walking down the streets greeting the Wild Girls and saying good morning to the Brothers Grimm among many others. It really blew me away, the true extent of it all and it really adds to the novel. 

The last things I'm going to talk about is the fairy tales that are told during the course of the novel. I was incredibly surprised to realise that in reality I only knew a few of the fairy tales told by the Brothers Grimm and was very happy to learn more old fairy tales and the hidden meanings and lessons in each. They truly are stories woven into the story and it just works so well. At times Dortchen uses these stories to express her feelings and even events of her life that she would otherwise not say out-loud. It shows the raw power that fairy tales have and how they can give people strength, no matter their age, gender or class, and are very important in times of need. 

The Wild Girl is one of those rare stories in which everything works. The characters, the plot, the setting, the themes and even the truths within the stories. History is woven with fairy tales in this extraordinary novel. The Wild Girl is a book that will stay in the readers mind long after reading. It is a powerful book, one that is easy to read while taking in so much detail and depth. It is simply flawless. Kate Forsyth has well and truly done it again.

About the Author: 

Kate Forsyth is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 books for adults and children , translated into 13 languages. She was recently named in the Top 25 of Australia's Favourite Novelists. Since The Witches of Eileanan was named a Best First Novel by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for many awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Gypsy Crown series of children's historical novels. Kate’s latest novel, Bitter Greens, interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale with the scandalous life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de la Force. It has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’ and ‘an imaginative weaving of magic, fairy tale and history’. A direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, Kate is currently studying a doctorate in fairy tales at the University of Technology in Sydney, where she lives by the sea, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

Please visit Kate Forsyth's WEBSITE and BLOG for more information. You can also find her on FACEBOOK and follow her on TWITTER.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

#MurderOnTheBeach Blog Tour! Turning Paradise Into Hell - Guest Post By Kate Harrison

Welcome to this stop on the #MurderOnTheBeach blog tour! The tour is bringing exclusive excerpts, interviews and guest posts from Cruel Summer By James Dawson and Soul Storm By Kate Harrison. Today I have a guest post from Kate Harrison in which she explains why she chose to turn paradise into hell. So without further ado here it is: 

Turning paradise into hell – why setting the darkest of stories on the beach is irresistible for Soul Beach author Kate Harrison... 

I’m a beach babe who doesn’t own a bikini. 

I love the sun, but I also love the shadier side of coastal life… and after five years living by the seaside, I see the flaws the tourists miss… 

It’s one of the biggest inspirations for Soul Beach – the reality behind the glamour of beach life. Because there’s always a dark side.

I moved to Barcelona when the idea for Soul Beach was beginning to form in my head. It wasn’t even a beach back then. I had seen the tribute pages on Facebook for young people who’d died unexpectedly, and began to imagine a kind of Facebook for the dead, where they could carry on living their lives and communicate with their loved ones left behind.

As me and my boyfriend took our first walks on Barcelona’s long, sandy beaches that summer, I was fascinated by the life there. Beautiful people were everywhere: hanging out, running, playing volleyball or football on the sand, doing martial arts, or simply eyeing up the talent. In contrast, the London we’d left behind seemed drab and ugly.

But gradually I noticed the other side: petty criminals ready to pounce when tourists take a dip. Drunks and addicts drawn to the shores by some elemental force. And then there were my own fears – could I go swimming when I felt self-conscious about my body? And what did those slim people have to go through to stay looking like that? 

Pretty soon, the idea of Soul Beach – a paradise on the surface, with trauma below –began to crystallise in my imagination. I thought it was the perfect place to explore the difference between what we see, and what’s really going on beneath. So, my dead ‘Guests’ could resume the lives that had been tragically cut short, but in Paradise. I gave them perfect bodies and non-stop fun – sunshine, beach games, a bar with food and drink on tap.

And yet, it’s never quite enough to make them forget their pasts.

The Spanish name for the coast surrounding Barcelona is the Costa Brava – literally, the wild coast. Now I think that all coasts are wild, and that’s their fascination – the way the weather can change in a moment, the craziness that makes people push themselves further, whether it’s swimming against the tide or chatting up someone you’d never dare approach any other time.

Now we’ve moved back to the UK, but to Brighton, where the beach is pebbly and sunshine is not guaranteed, but the contrast between light and shade is even sharper here. Seaside living brings out and best and the worst in people. And in winter, the strangeness is magnified even more, as the ghost of the burned out old pier emerges from the sea. But I could never go back to being land-locked. 

And I still don’t own a bikini… 

Thank you to Kate Harrison for the guest post! Also thank you to Indigo Fierce Fiction for having me as a host on the tour! Both Cruel Summer and Soul Storm are out now! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour! 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Siege and Storm By Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm
Series: Grisha #2
Release Date: 6th June 2013
Publisher: Indigo 
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Source: Received from Publisher.

Synopsis: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review: Last year when I read Shadow and Bone I was so eager and excited to see what would happen in the sequel. I requested a proof copy of Siege and Storm and received a special ARC that had one of my quotes in it. I read it straight away and it was just as amazing as the first. It was fast paced and introduced us to many new characters that would go on to play a big role in the novel, while also bringing back past characters and showing us how they have developed after the devastating events on the shadow fold. I loved the development of characters in this book and the change of the theme which just aided with the progress of the plot, and kept the novel as a whole, fast paced with the reader continuously engaged.

Siege and Storm begins with Alina and Mal sailing across the True Sea in an attempt to escape the Darkling. When they reach land they try and remain hidden while they earn some money to continue their journey. Alina is being hunted by the Darkling’s army and it isn’t long until trouble arises. With the help of captain Sturmhond, she sets sail again. But it isn’t long until the Darkling finds Alina and a reunion reveals some horrifying things. The Darkling has managed to create a new type of monster, one that only he can summon. With this new revelation, it really hits Alina that she is the only one who can stop him; after all she may have been the cause of this new power. 

One of my favourite things about this novel was Alina’s character growth and development. I don’t think I have ever felt closer to a character throughout the course of a novel as I did with this. From the first novel we knew that Alina was a very strong character and one who wasn’t afraid to break a few rules now and again, while she also had an intelligent mind and would use this wisely. In Siege and Storm Alina is still as realistic as ever but now she is put through some internal conflict. We see her struggle with the extent and weight of her power and the realisation that people now see her as a god. This puts a lot of pressure on her and strains many of her relationships with others. Alina is forced to change so quickly in a short amount of time. At the beginning of Shadow and Bone she was a map maker, now she is the Sun Summoner and people are following her as if she is a god and their only salvation. That has to be both physically and mentally draining and we see how Alina copes with it all in Siege and Storm. She begins to develop her power in the hope to save her people but this only adds fear to her mind, as she find this power addictive and she knows the line between the light and shadows is very thin and she could easily fall. Sometimes it seems the best option would be for her to fall across this line and let things finish easily, but she knows that this isn’t the right option and she will rise to conquer the darkling. She knows how the power has changed the darkling and therefore she is scared to use her power so much in fright that she may also fall from grace. Throughout the course of the novel we see her come to terms with how people are now following her and how with their help and uniting everyone there may be a chance to win. She still struggles with her power but we see her trying and adapting to using it in the right way. The development is amazing and so realistically done, Alina gets so confused with things that it becomes a strain she knows she must fight and conquer. 

Now onto Mal and the Darkling. Mal first then, well I have to be honest I was not a Mal fan girl in Shadow and Bone and after reading Siege and Storm my dislike for him has grown so much. I just don’t like the way he disrespects Alina all the damn time, and when she says no to him he goes and drowns himself in drink and fights. To me that does not show a strong man, instead it shows a pain in the ass who isn’t worth Alina’s time. Both of them have changed from when they were in the orphanage and I think it’s time that they both move on. There isn’t a place for Mal in Alina’s new life, he knows it and she knows it but they just haven’t acted upon it yet.

Now the Darkling, I love him and his darkly seductive ways. He is still power hungry but we see that the events on the Shadow fold have had an effect on him and also the rest of the Grisha. His hold on them has been slightly impacted. In Siege and Storm we see him more vulnerable, he is slightly weaker due to the events of the Shadow Fold but this has left him with a new power that is greater than what he had before and even more terrifying. The thing is this new power drains on him and is not to be used too often. But as the Darkling is addicted to power he does not see the extent of weakness that has begun to show due to overusing this new power. 

I’m just going to talk a little about Sturmhond but not too much as I want you all to discover him and his secrets yourselves when you read the novel. All I have to say is that he is a great addition to the cast of characters and one that will leave an impression on the reader. Let’s just say that an alliance with him would give Alina even more power. 

The main part of this book is of course about Alina coming to terms with her power while the threat of the Darkling looms closer but what I also loved was the sub plot of the amplifiers and how they tie in to Alina’s story. I honestly did not see this new connection and addition coming, I love the mystery and enchantment that comes with the tales of the amplifiers and I cannot wait to see what Bardugo does in the final book with them all. Also I loved the Ice Dragon, it’s a shame there wasn’t more focus and time spent on this but never mind I’m still a very happy reader and I am eager to see what happens next. 

And with the plot there comes the development of the themes throughout the trilogy. Many trilogies get caught up and jump from themes without a smooth passage between but in the Grisha series it has been done so perfectly, that I can’t help but admire the talent Leigh Bardugo has and how effectively she uses it. In Shadow and Bone we were introduced to the enchanting and epic world of the Grisha and some of its backstory. In Siege and Storm the main focus seems to be the growth of Alina's power and how it has had an effect on the whole of Ravka and its people. From the ending of Siege and Storm we can see that the theme will need to change again due to the final events of the novel. I have every faith that it will flow and work just as well as the previous two novels. 

Ooh and the ending of the novel made me literally full of emotions, my heart was pounding and I was so excited but also curious to see what the hell would happen! All I will say is Alina you go girl! And also to the Darkling, I will hug you and comfort you! I won’t say any more but the rest of the ending, oh my god, shows we still have a lot to come in Alina’s story and I am so eager and excited to read it. 

Well there you go, Leigh Bardugo, you sure know how to involve your readers and make them an emotional wreck. Siege and Storm is an enthralling sequel that seriously ups the game and expectations of the reader. It is written so beautifully that is flows flawlessly while keeping the magic alive in the readers mind. If you want to read a fantasy series that has a truly unique world then read this series. If you loved the first book then there is no doubt that Siege and Storm will reignite the magic that you found before while also leaving you crying out for the final instalment of the Grisha series. I loved everything about this novel, the strength of Alina and her development, the world building that is still superb, the progress and twists in the plot that will keep the reader enchanted and of course the Darkling who is still waiting for you. Don’t make him wait any longer. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Hiatus Update

Hey guys, long time no see. I'm just popping back online to let you all know that I'm extending this hiatus for another two weeks. This is mainly due to having a full work load right now as term begins to come to an end. I hope you all understand and I thank you all again for sticking around. So far it's been a lovely relaxing break and I've read a few books, not as many as I would have liked, but some good ones at least. I shall see you all soon! Thank you guys for understanding! 

Friday, 17 May 2013

Submerged Blog Tour: Guest Post By Nicole Sobon

Welcome to this stop on the Submerged Blog Tour hosted by Itching for Books. Today I have a guest post from the author of the novel. First of all I will introduce you to the novel, Submerged. 

Series: Outbreak #1
Release Date: 14th February 2013
Format: Paperback / ebook
Pages: 384

Synopsis: After a mysterious virus makes its way into the United States, the government demands that states seal themselves off from one another and do their best to protect their surviving residents. When the state of Florida is bordered off from the surrounding states, Taylen Fincher, a seventeen-year-old girl with a yearning for her former life finds herself wondering how much of what they’ve been told is true.

When Troum took control of the state, he told the residents that the other states had fallen to the virus and that he wouldn’t allow the same thing to happen to them. But Taylen doesn’t believe it. She insists that there is still life outside of the state, and she is going to do whatever it takes to prove it… but her actions will cost her more than she ever expected.

Troum kidnaps Taylen’s sister, Penelope, in hopes of coaxing her into behaving – into being a submissive resident, much like the others. But Taylen isn’t one to give in that easily.

Eager to rescue her sister, Taylen will set out on an adventure that’ll force her to open her heart to the unexpected and to uncover secrets that will change everything.

Guest Post
My Writing Process By Nicole Sobon

Before I even start an outline, I usually start jotting down scenes/ideas as they come to me. I need to make sure that there is enough of a story behind the idea before I commit to it. Once I’m comfortable enough with continuing, I begin the dreaded outline process. (I don’t always outline, sometimes I just allow the story to tell itself.) 

This is also when I’d begin doing my research if the book requires it. 

Sometimes I can knock out an outline fairly quickly, other times, it can take weeks (which is usually the case with any outline I draft for the Emile Reed Chronicles). I’ll be honest, I don’t like outlining, at all. I only do it when I have to. With the Emile Reed Chronicles, I have to outline because I have to know where I’m going with the story in advance. I’m currently working on Deprogrammed, the second novel and fourth installment in this series, and I’m carefully following my outline. One little mistake could easily ruin the final outcome for Emile’s story, so I have to be incredibly careful. But with a book like Submerged, I didn’t outline. I tried, but the story kept moving away from where I intended it to go (the outline is a completely different book than the final product). Sometimes, I just have to allow the story to tell itself. 

If it is part of a series that I am working on, I keep a print out of the prior book next to me. I’ve read all of my books at least twenty times. Program 13 I have read close to fifty times. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to remember every single detail. So I try to jot down the basics (eye color, hair color, style, etc.) on a sheet of paper and attach it to my outline, if there is one. I also keep the print outs next to me in case I have to go back and re-read anything (when you’re connecting three novels and four novelettes together, you have to be incredibly careful that the story lines up correctly). 

Once I feel comfortable, I open up Word and start typing. 

I know people say not to edit while you write, but I do. I actually double check each chapter with the help of Grammarly after I have finished writing it. This is probably why it takes me so long to write a book, but I want the first draft to be as clean as possible. 

After I finish the first draft, which is usually around 60k words, I send it off the beta readers. I let them mark it up and tell me what needs to be changed while I take some time away from the story, this way, when I come back to it later on I have refreshed eyes. 

After I go through their edits, I let it sit again for a bit before I start my own edits. 

I usually send it off to the betas again at this point so that I can do one final round of edits. Once I receive it back from them, I go over it again with Grammarly and my red pen, and I clean it up as best as possible. This is usually when the manuscript goes from 60k words to 70k words. 

After I’m satisfied with the final product, I either prepare for the query process or I format the manuscript for publication. 

Random facts: 

· I listen to a lot of music while writing – mainly White Lies. 

· I usually go through an entire notebook per manuscript full of jumbled ideas. 

· Capture is the only book that I’ve written in parts, meaning that I jumped around while writing … it was also my first novel, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about writing it. 

· When I traveled to Seattle, I took a lot of photographs that later became my inspiration for the settings in Program 13. (I do try to familiarize myself with the setting if the story takes place in a real location.)

Thank you to Nicole for the great guest post! 

About the Author: 

Nicole Sobon is a YA author of several novels, including Program 13, The Emile Reed Chronicles, Capture, No Place Like Home, and the latest Submerged. This is the first in her dystopian duology. 

Find Nicole here: 


Thank you all for stopping by. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour, the schedule can be found here. Thank you Nicole for the awesome guest post! 

Friday, 10 May 2013

UK Cover Reveal: Siege and Storm By Leigh Bardugo

Hey, I'm still on hiatus right now but I had to break it to share the UK Siege and Storm cover with you all. I love all things Grisha and Shadow and Bone and I want to share the excitement. Yesterday the UK Cover for the second book in the Grisha series was revealed and here it is: 

Siege and Storm
Series: The Grisha #2
Release Date: 4th June 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt-US, Gollancz-UK
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 448 

Synopsis: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Ooh I really like the vividness of the blue and how it contrasts with the rest of the cover. I love it so much and I can't wait to get my hands on a finished copy! Well done Gollancz for topping the first cover. I have so much love for it, it really would make me pick it up in a bookstore! 

Here's the US Cover for Comparison:


What are your thoughts on the UK Cover? Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Blog Tour + Author Interview: The Last Academy By Anne Applegate

Welcome to this stop on The Last Academy Blog Tour! Today I have an interview with the author Anne Applegate and also a giveaway, so be sure to enter that. First here's some info about the book: 

The Last Academy
Release Date: 1st May 2013
Publisher: Point
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

Synopsis: Curtis Sittenfeld's PREP meets THE SIXTH SENSE in this spine-tingling, unforgettable debut. 

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam--and readers--stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.

Author Interview: 

First of all Welcome to Read Write and Read Some More, we are very pleased to host you!
Hi Annabelle, thanks for hosting! Great questions – I had fun answering them. 

First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
Sure! I have a pretty good case of social dorkwardness in real life, so I’m well-suited to a job in which most of my coworkers are imaginary. 

When did you start writing and when did you begin to take writing seriously? 
I’ve always loved to write, but I’ve also had the writer’s equivalent of stage fright. Up until my thirties, being afraid was more important to me than being a writer. Finally, I realized I wasn’t a kid any more – if I kept putting off my dreams until I was braver, I might end up dead before I ended up a writer. There were lots of baby steps to getting here, and even now, my delete key takes a lot of abuse. 

The Last Academy is your debut novel, can you tell us a bit about how it started from an idea in your mind to becoming a published novel? What was the whole process like? 
I had an unusual path to publishing. As part of getting over my stage fright, I kept an anonymous blog (now defunct). It was a place where I could try any goofy thing without anyone I knew looking. That space felt like the very best possible version of being Tom Cruise circa RISKY BUSINESS in the underwear dancing scene. One day, a literary scout/ film producer named Cori Stern emailed me. She’d stumbled across my blog, liked my writing, and wanted to see more. It was one of those fluky, one-in-a-million kind of things. All I could do was laugh. That’s what you get for dancing around like no one’s watching, I guess. 

I’d just finished THE LAST ACADEMY and was getting up the nerve to send it out to agents, so I sent the manuscript to Cori too. She got it into the hands of the producer who optioned the movie rights. Shortly after, I lucked out again when Scholastic’s fantastic senior editor, Aimee Friedman, decided to take THE LAST ACADEMY on. She and the publication team at Scholastic have been incredible. Basically, it feels like this book fell out of the lucky tree and hit every branch. 

Where did the idea for The Last Academy come from? 
I met Barnaby Charon on an airplane when I was fifteen. You can read more about that on a hidden page on my website: 

I’m really intrigued that the novel is set in a boarding school. What made you decide to choose this setting? 
I went to boarding school, so Lethe Academy felt familiar to me. Most of my high school memories are wrapped up with Pacific Ocean views, red tiled roofs, and an absence of family. 

What was your favourite part about writing The Last Academy? 
My favorite part was about three quarters through the rough draft, when I finally believed I’d finish a whole book. Up until that point, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Once I could see how the end would fall together, I knew I could keep revising until the story made some kind of sense. That transition from a place of insecurity to a place of surety? Amazing. 

You have one gorgeous cover! What were you first thoughts when viewing the final concept? How well does it fit the story? 
Thank you! I think so, too. I was completely in awe when I first saw the cover. Yaffa Jaskoll created an image that beautifully conveys the book’s emotional tenor and storyline. 

Which authors and novels have influenced you and your writing? 
Oh man, that is a tough question to answer, for fear of leaving out the dearly adored. Growing up, I loved THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris, and anything by Stephen King. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’m more influenced by bits and pieces of books. For example, in HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski, the story included a coded note from one character to another. The reader was required to count lines and mark letters to reveal the true message. When I glanced at my transcription and saw this CREEPY letter, written in my own penmanship, I had to stop reading for a day or two while I got over my heebie-jeebies. That’s the sort of thing I love – when a story is so unnerving you throw the book across the room, but so intriguing you are forced to pick it up again, desperately curious to read a little further. 

Do you write your novels by hand or straight away on the computer? 
Computer! I’ve heard writing by hand is a good technique – it makes you slow down and think about what you’re saying. But for me, I like to fly via typing. Sometimes, I can go so fast, I am almost actually there, in the story. It’s like breaking the time-space continuum for make-believe. 

Thank you so much Anne for answering my questions! It's been great hosting you!

About the Author: 
Photo credit: Brittany App

Anne Applegate was born in Chico, California. Most of her childhood was spent moving across America with her family, nomad style. 

When Anne was fourteen, her parents sent her to boarding school so she could spend four years in a single educational system. As it turned out, her family then promptly settled into a small mid-western town and lived there for the next sixteen years. Anne still hasn’t figured out if this means something. 

After graduation, she went on to Tufts University in Medford, MA, where she had a wicked good time. Eventually, she wound up back on the west coast, where she married a fantastic Californian guy. Together, they have three children. 

For the last twelve years, Anne has lived in San Luis Obispo County. This is by far the longest time she has stayed in any one place her whole life. She immensely enjoys living where 1) the sun always shines and 2) she isn’t the weirdest person in town.

Find Anne here:


Huge thanks to Anne Applegate for answering my questions and for stopping by. Also thanks to Shane at Itching for Books for hosting the tour. You can find the rest of the tour schedule here

Friday, 3 May 2013

Blog Tour + Author Interview: Zenn Scarlett By Christian Schoon

Hey guys, I'm super excited to host the sci-fi debut that is Zenn Scarlett and the great author Christian Schoon today! I have an interview with the author for you guys but first I'll let you know more about the book. 

Zenn Scarlett
Release Date: 7th May 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304

Synopsis: Zenn Scarlett is a bright and occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. She specializes in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars was going well - until there are a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school that Zenn finds herself blamed for. As if this isn't enough to be dealing with, her father vanishes under strange circumstances, and Zenn is worried that she has started hearing the thoughts of the creatures around her... 

With the help of Liam, a towner boy, and Hamish, an alien bug also training at the clinic, Zenn must try to find her father, rescue the animals and unravel the mystery of who is behind the attacks on the school. And all without failing her first year.

Author Interview: 

1. First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
Let’s see…I was born in glamorous downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My first cat was a Siamese named Phurtadateedah. During junior high, I was shot at by the police (mistaken identity. Honest.). I spent my senior year of high school as an exchange student in Djursholm, Sweden. My four college minors were English, astronomy, anthropology and the Lakota Sioux language. (I cannot, however, speak this language now). I’m a major sci fi geek, a fanatical animal person and a Capricorn but seriously, Saturn or any other planet or star has absolutely no influence over my life. Other lives? That's anybody’s guess. Planetary influence over my fiction is another matter entirely. 

2. Before Zenn Scarlett you were a scriptwriter, what made you change
to writing novels and ultimately becoming an author? 
Yes, I wrote TV scripts for live and animated shows during my years in Los Angeles. But after we moved back to my Midwestern stomping grounds and bought a farm, my interests shifted, for several reasons. One: it’s tough to keep your oar in the water, scriptwriting-wise, when you don’t live in LA or New York. TV and film are collaborative enterprises, and the people running these things want your body and mind there to collaborate with. There are exceptions to this rule, but they’re rare and didn’t apply to me. Novels, on the other hand, are the ultimate one-person-show. I’m the writer, director, cinematographer, set designer, lighting director, best boy, gaffer and craft services person all in one. Plus, no commute. I kinda like that. 

3. Zenn Scarlett is your debut novel, where did the idea come from? 
After our move to the back of beyond in gorgeous rural America, my wife and I began accumulating animals on our farm and volunteering with animal welfare groups. Before long, I was hanging out with veterinarians who specialized in exotic animal medicine and found myself interacting with bears, cougars, big snakes, horses, etc. Along with my fondness for sci fi, this new arena of interest lead to the idea for a novice exovet working with alien animals. 

4. Can you tell us a bit about how it started from an idea in your
mind to becoming a published novel? What was the whole process like? 
The real lightbulb-popping-on-over-my-head moment was the simple concept of an alien animal vet. I couldn’t recall ever reading, or even hearing about, a similar character/situation in either books or films. From there, the rest of the story rapidly fell into place. Then, I worked and re-worked the story in my spare time over several years while I continued to work my day gig full time. I submitted to my list of chosen genre-specific agents. Got politely rejected. Main comment: “Awesome concept. Not ready for prime time.” And I quickly caught on to the fact this was all too true. So, I polished. Then, as I was about to submit to my next round of agents, an agent contacted me. He’d come across the manuscript at his former company and had pushed it, but his bosses passed. Now, he was at a new agency and wondered if I’d been signed. No, I had not. He signed me, we worked to streamline the story, split my one long book into two and a few months later he sold the books as a series to Strange Chemistry, who by the by are awesome as they come. The whole process was both educational for me as a noob novelist – I knew scriptwriting, but novels are a whole ‘nother animal… and it was angst-making during the submission process, but euphoric when the books sold. 

5. In the novel Zenn is training to become an exoveterinarian. How
much research did you have to do into the world of animal medicine and
animal welfare? As an animal management student myself, I’m very
My research for the vet science part of Zenn Scarlett really grew out of my “on the job” experiences as a volunteer with several animal welfare groups. One is the Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League. This group works exclusively through law enforcement agencies and steps in after horses, donkeys or burros are confiscated due to neglect or abuse. The equines come to our farm, and other foster sites, where we tend to any outstanding medical issues, then get them back to a healthy, stable weight, work with them on handling issues, and adopt them out to qualified owners. Another group is called Witty Kitties, Inc., but the name is a little misguiding. In addition to providing housing and life-long care for felines with special medical needs (FIV, Feline leukemia, etc.) Witty Kitties is also licensed to rescue and rehab exotic animals like bears, cougars, coyotes, emus, Burmese pythons, American alligators, iguanas, tortoises and other critters. 

6. You have wide variety of pet’s yourself, did they inspire you in any way?
I’d say my affection and admiration for my horses, cats, dogs and ferrets is a direct inspiration for Zenn’s similar attachment to the unearthly animals residing at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic where she's undergoing her novice year of training. 

7. I’ve just got to throw this one in there, you have 30 cats? I love
the kitties but how do you have enough space for them all? Are they
generally outside cats?  
Good question! Most of them are outside barn cats. But we provide heat lamps and hay bales in the “cat barn” for these outdoor guests here on the farm, and they’re almost as pampered as the felines living indoors. More than a few of our barn cat contingent are now in their second decade, which as you probably know, is well beyond old age for a cat living outdoors. And, as outdoor cats show signs of being true “seniors,” we move them indoors to live. Iowa winters can be pretty gnarly. 

8. The main setting for Zenn Scarlett is Mars, what made you set the
novel in outer space? Did this entitle much research on your part?
The desire to incorporate a Martian setting probably arose from my early reading of the Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom books. Plus, I’ve watched the various NASA Mars rovers with great interest; the reports on Mars’ environment seem to get more life-friendly all the time (even if that life turns out to be "simple" microbes and lived there long ago). And yes, I did need to brush up on my Mars facts as I wrote, so I now have a fairly full shelf of books on the subject. 

9. What was your favourite part about writing Zenn Scarlett? 
Some of the most fun scenes to write were Zenn’s interactions with her alien patients. She’s very good at what she does, and it’s always enjoyable to be around someone who’s competent at their job! 

10. What are your current writing projects and what can we expect from
you next? One of the most important questions, Will there be a sequel?
Next up from me is, in fact, the sequel to Zenn Scarlett, where we’ll follow Zenn off Mars and into thrilling encounters with outlandish new creatures, fascinating alien races and mind-boggling interplanetary intrigue! It’s due out about a year from now so… I’ll be in touch! 

11. Which authors and novels have influenced you and your writing? 
The above-noted Burroughs, as well as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, T.H.White’s The Once and Future King, and too many more to even get into here! 

12. Describe Zenn Scarlett in 5 or less words? 
Compassionate, empathetic, fearless, determined, way-cool! 

13: What’s your favourite Animal? 
Rikkasets are pretty fabulous. But, here on earth, I really love the grace and inscrutability of cats.

Bonus Question: I’m guessing you’ve been bitten by an animal with all
the ones you have, what’s been the worst one though? I was bitten by a
ferret last week and damn it hurt!
Yeah, I’ve still got tiny teeth marks sprinkled across one arm from one of my own ferrets. Have been nipped by several kinds of snake (nothing serious), chomped pretty good by horses (leaves nasty teeth-mark-bruises) but I have to say the worst bites of all are from those graceful, inscrutable felines. Especially if they get you in a finger joint; almost certain to get infected. But, still not bad enough to dull my fondness for the little varmints. 

About the Author: 
Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses. He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals.

Pre-order Zenn Scarlett:

Find Christian here: 

Huge thanks to Christian for answering my questions and thank you to Amanda at Strange Chemistry for allowing me to participate in the Zenn Scarlett Tour! Thank you for stopping by and Happy Reading!