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: 

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!