Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Guest Blog: #100Blogfest by Martin King

Author Martin King is attempting to write 100 blogs at 100 different websites, all in the month of August. He has been writing about different childhood memories and I am honoured to be involved in this, particularly on the last day. Over to Martin...

I’m sat at home writing one of my final memories. It’s been a wonderful journey and it is lovely and toasty sat in my nice comfortable, warm office. But life didn’t always used to be like that.
Picture life growing up in a time with NO central heating, NO double glazing, draughts blowing everywhere. In fact our house was colder than a fridge, not that I knew what a fridge was when I was young, we didn’t have one. That’s right, we didn’t have a fridge, we had a pantry.
Anyway, I digress... so as you can imagine the house would be pretty cold in the winter. Back in those days when the temperature used to drop to way past minus ten, you can picture how cold it was. I would wake up in the morning to see ice an inch thick formed on my bedroom window – on the inside!
There was no way in this world I was going to wake up and get dressed for school. But as always, my genius mind had a cunning plan. It consisted of going to be, with my clothes on. That way when I woke up in the morning, I was already dressed for school.
Some nights I would let the cat snuggle under the blankets with me. We kept each other toastie and warm.
These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please follow this link to find the next blog in the series:

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Silence (Hush, hush)... coming soon

To finish up Hush, hush week, I am giving you guys a preview to the third and final book in the trilogy, Silence. The wonderful people at Simon and Schuster have finally released the official Uk book trailer... and not to worry, it wont spoil anything for you if you havent read the previous books.

For those of you that have read the previous two, Silence continues where Crescendo left off... Patch and Nora have fought their own personal battles and discovered their love can stand the test of time, even knowing who Nora's father is. It will be the final test of their relationship, where we will get to see what happened after the final chapter of Crescendo and how the battle between Fallen angels and Nephilim will end.
I look forward to reading Silence!

Release Date: 4th October 2011 (Hardback)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Childrens Books
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Friday, 26 August 2011

Review: Crescendo (Hush, hush)

The second book in the Hush, hush trilogy by Becca Fitzpatrick is Crescendo.
Crescendo continues on from where Hush, hush left off.

Life gets a bit complicated for Nora, with Patch now as her guardian angel; he still has his secrets that Nora can't figure out and it doesnt help that the archangels have forbidden their relationship. Nora is also on the hunt to discovere the truth about her fathers death.
Expect drama, jelousy and more action! With a battle brewing between Nephilim and Fallen Angels, you can expect there to be a little hostility as everyone is in a war to protect their best interest.

First impressions can be deceiving and we are left to figure out who to trust. Nora gives us a bit more teenage drama than usual and her best friend Vee is drawn into the mix. It's times like these, I wish I could step into the book and give Nora a wake up call because when it comes relationships, Nora is a bit clueless. I imagine the author chose to make that a strong part of Nora's personality as that seems to attract the drama and conflict in the story.

I wont spoil the rest of the book but the author leaves us wanting more at the end, and I for one can't wait for Silence to find out what happens next!

Once again the cover is brilliant. The image is stunning, the contrast and dark, mysterious feeling of it gives you a sense you are in for drama and anguish from the get go.

Final Comments:
I have to admit, while I loved the first book in the trilogy, I love this book the most. While we still had all the teenage drama, we got to learn more about the main characters and overall it was a more thrilling read.

Rating: 5/5
Release Date: October 2010 (Hardback), April 2011 (Paperback)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Childrens Books
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Review: Hush, hush

Hush, hush is a YA trilogy by Author Becca Fitzpatrick. The first book in the trilogy is titled "Hush, hush."
Hush, hush is a first person story told by Nora Grey who falls for a mysterious and bad boy/fallen angel named Patch. The story follows Nora as she tries to learn more about Patch, particularly since he already knows everything about her. She runs into several hiccups along the way, such as trying to protect herself and her friends from danger.

As she is so determined to get her way and know everything, you can expect this not to be your boring and predictable teen romance; there is action, jelousy, drama and an interesting turn of events. What is even more interesting is that the author introduces something new to the genre; Nephilim, who act as vassals for fallen angels for two weeks during the Hebrew month of Cheshvan.

There is a great collection of characters that support the story, such as Nora's best friend Vee, who is your typical sidekick friend. Elliot and Jules; both of which I will let you figure out and Rixon, an Irish fallen angel who brings some fun to the mix.

I instantly fell in love with this book after reading the Prologue and first chapter. Unlike other books, it doesnt take hours for the reader to get into the book. In the prologue we are given a short introduction to explain the difference between fallen angels. nephilim and humans (read the book if you would like to know what the difference is.)

As an art school graduate, I tend to be picky when it comes to book covers. I am in fact a huge fan of the cover art for this series. A combination of the photography, contrast, colour and font are perfectly combined, drawing in anybody walking past. I happened to be one of those suckers. I was walking to the checkout at Waterstones to pay for a book in my hand, when I walked past hush, hush and replaced the one in my hand for it.

Final Comments:
The thing that separates this book from others in the genre firstly is that its not about vampires or witches, its about fallen angels. There is something more pure about the idea of falling in love with a fallen angel as opposed to a monster. It also doesnt leave teenage girls asking boys to bite them, and yes I am referring to Twilight.

Becca Fitzpatrick turns a teen novel into an exciting and modern tale of romance, mystery and drama, with a dash of humour. I highly recommend this series!

Rating: 5/5
Release Date: May 2010 (Paperback)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Childrens Books
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Hush Hush week!

As a big fan of Becca Fitzpatrick, I thought I would dedicate a week to her Hush Hush trilogy, sans the third book "Silence" as we are still eagerly awaiting its October release. While I love the first two books, I will be reading them again this week so I can give a fresh review on them.

For a young adult fantasy series, I think it is amazing! It is written by the one and only Becca Fitzpatrick. The story is told by the main character Nora Grey who is a young student, thrown into a world of fallen angels, not surprisingly, she falls for the fallen angel Patch. What I like about this trilogy is that its not your typical girl falls for guy who she really shouldnt story.... but we get more action and a whole group of other characters thrown into the mix. To learn more about the series, keep track of my blog this week for reviews and comments. The third book is going to be amazing!

For those already a fan of the series, the author is also going on a UK tour! Details below.

The books in the series are:
Hush Hush
Silence (out October)

UK Tour details:

Tuesday October 18
6:30 pm
Talk & Signing at Foyles Bookshop
The Gallery space
Charing Cross Road

Saturday, October 22
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Signing at Eternal Twilight 6
Hilton Metropole,
Birmingham NEC

For more UK locations click here.
For US tour details click here.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: The Watchtower

The Watchtower by Lee Carroll is the second novel in the trilogy by author Carol Goodman and her poet husband Lee Slonimsky. It makes for interesting reading as it's not your typical urban fantasy book but it combines great writing with creative poetry!

The first book in the series, Black Swan Rising was about jewellery design Garet James and her journey to discovering about her life and heritage on her mothers side. We are introduced to a love interest by the name of Will Hughes who is a four hundred year old vampire with a history attached to Garet's ancestors. We follow the story from Garet's perspective as she uncovers the truth about who she is while she is trapped into an never ending fight with multiple forces of evil coming from every angle. I suggest reading this book before you move on to the second.

The Watchtower continues from the first book where the dashing Will Hughes steal's Garet's magical antique box and runs off to Paris, leaving Garet a tip on where to start to find him.
Will is on the quest to reach the Summer Country where in an attempt to reverse the vampire curse and become mortal so that he can be with Garet.

There are new characters introduced and old ones who have come back with a vengeance, obviously not giving up on their goal to control the world.Throughout the book, we learn more about Garet's past and are now introduced to Will's past and how he became a vampire. Garet learns that her ancestors are more powerful than she imagined, they are in fact guardians of the line between the earth and the mythical world.

The entire novel alternates chapters between the past featuring Will's story and the present where Garet is speaking. It does get a bit confusing at times, but once you get into a few lines of each chapter, you can figure out which story you are following.
There's alot more poetry, action, drama and interesting turn of events which the first book was lacking. I was very pleased with this book and can't wait for the third.

My only disappointment is that Will as one of the main characters isnt as strong or smart as I initially imagined him to be... he seems to live off his good looks more than anything.
The author duo have done a superb job for a team effort.

Rating: 4.5/5
Release Date: August 2011
Publisher: Bantam
Author: Lee Carroll

Monday, 15 August 2011

Review: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

In my last post I reviewed Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict which is a story about a 21st century LA girl named Courtney, who goes back in time to Regency England and experiences life in another body, of a girl named Jane. 
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is not a continuation of Courtney's story, it is in fact a parrallel to her story and is about Jane and her experience in the 21st century in Courtney's body.
While the first story is one that we dream to be transported into, this story is the opposite, showing us how someone from our favourite books could cope today, in our time, where dating is completely different and public displays of affection do not turn you into an outcast where you have no future chance of marriage or a happy life.
In Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict Jane wakes up and discovers she is living life as Courtney. Just like Courtney, Jane believes it to be a dream, until time passes and she realises she isnt going anywhere. Where as Courtney has books, movies and recollections from history to guide her through Jane's life, Jane had no previous knowledge to guide her through technology and modern day life.
Jane is completely thrown into a different scenario she isnt used to; the freedom of choice, living alone, no servants, an ex and a job! While it is something we are accustomed to, Jane on the other hand has a tough time getting a hang of it.
In the story, Jane learns more about Courtney, and while she initially sees Courtney as a lower class woman with no respect for herself as she had slept with men before marriage, she eventually discovers with the help of a Fortune Teller (the same from the first book) that you shouldnt judge people without knowing their story. This book in fact had alot more life lessons about respect, choices, relationships and free will.
Just like in the first book, Jane is given the task to deal with Courtney's past relationships with the ex that apparently cheated on her. Therefore we get to see how Jane handles the break up and how she uses the memories triggered from Courtneys life and her own to strive for a better life of love through her own choice and not forced by society or her mother.
I highly enjoyed reading this book, as I got to see how a woman from a time where society governed your life, coped with freedom and the ability to think and make choices on her own. The author still gives us romance, so dont expect a boring story about a girl trying to fix someone elses life... Jane has her own life too after all.
Rating: 4/5
Release Date: February 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Review: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

I am a bit delayed in writing a review on this book, seeing as though I didn’t always have this blog when I won it several months ago through a giveaway on Twitter by the wonderful people at Bloomsbury.

Confessions of a Jane Austen addict by Laurie Viera Rigler, is a wonderful and insightful Austen inspired fiction novel that perfectly plays of what every Jane Austen addict dreams of…. living the life of a Jane Austen novel. As an Austen addict myself, I did my best to win the books, which I had never heard of before the competition. My memory is a bit fuzzy but I recall we had to say what makes us an Austen addict. I had absolutely no problem in sharing my addict stories.
This book is the first of the two books, the second being Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (That review will follow shortly).

The story is about 21st century LA girl, Courtney Stone. She is a confessed Austen addict that has read far to many Jane Austen’s books. Courtney lives the life of a woman wounded by love, friends and restlessness; that is until she wakes up one morning and is spiraled into the world of Regency England in a foreign body, also known as Jane Mansfield. We follow Courtney and she attempts to live life as Jane Mansfield and unfortunately for Courtney she isn’t brushed up on Regency England etiquette and language. We are introduced to new characters in Jane’s life that Courtney has to become familiar with and discover who is honest and who will make her life as Jane difficult. The theme in the story begins to focus on destiny vs free will and as a reader I became confused whether this was a dream or similar to ITV’s Lost in Austen. Since Courtney is not thrust into an actual Jane Austen novel like Amanda Price, it is not entirely the same. Either way, the story was highly enjoyable, I found myself utterly engaged in Courtney’s new life, thinking about what I would do in her shoes.

The book has its share of drama, scandal, romance, passion, friendship and handsome men, add to that a twist of cross century travelling, fortune tellers and poor hygiene and you will get an amazing read that makes you to go back and brush up on Jane Austen’s novels. Who knows, you could wake up one morning and be in Regency England…. Or just stumble across Charles Edgeworth.

Rating: 4.5/5
Release Date: March 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Gripped into Books: 1000 Followers Giveaway!!!

Every blog has its valued readers and what better way to thank followers than a Giveaway! Gripped into Books has hit the 1000 mark and has launched an AMAZING giveaway! Some amazing new releases and books that I am still dying to get my hands on!

For more info and to enter, visit:
Gripped into Books: 1000 Followers Giveaway!!!

Review: Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil

Generally it is a good idea to read up on the town you are about to live in for University as you will be spending the next four years there. As I set off for a long flight to Savannah in the US, my mum gave me a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It is not your typical city guide, it is by far the most fascinating non-fiction novel that combines great crime with travel.

"John Berendt's enthralling new book is an exotic cocktail: two hearty measures of travel-book whimsy mixed with a slug of real-life murder, a dollop of old world affluence and a sprinkling of off-centre sex... It's not hard to see why this has sent coachloads of tourists heading for the swampy Georgia coast."
- Robert Winder, Independent

"Berendt - and the reader - are in travel-writer heaven... This is a book which leaves you amused, spooked and introduced to a new piece of America."
- Mark Lawson, Independent on Sunday

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is based on real events from the 1980's in Savannah and is one of the most popular non-fiction releases of all time. It is written by John Berendt and became such a hit that it led to a movie being produced by Clint Eastwood starring Kevin Spacey and John Cucask as the main characters Jim Williams and John Kelso.

The book itseld is based on true stories, primarily focusing on the murder of a local male prostitute named Danny Hansford, by millionaire and well respected antiques dealer Jim Williams. It is told from the point of John Kelso, a New York Journalist who is hired to write a story on Jim Williams annual Christmas party in Savannah. It is extremely unpredictable and entertaining.

While the novel focuses on a murder that occurs, it also introduces readers to life in Savannah and notable residents, past and present; from musician Johnny Mercer to the Lady Chablis; a local drag queen and entertainer. Chablis brings life and light hearted humour to the book and if you visit Savannah today, you can still catch a chance to see Chablis perform.

Background to Savannah:

All of the settings still exist today, however the famous bronze bird girl statue featured on the book cover was relocated to the Telfair Museum in 1997. Like the famous bench in Forrest Gump, the sites became crowded with tourists that they were removed for preservation into one of the many historical museums and galleries in Savannah.

Savannah is a quirky, historical and fascinating town on the coast of Georgia, surrounded by a river, marshes and the ocean. It is built on a unique grid pattern where garden squares become the major points of interest, surrounded by beautiful and grand historical houses from before the Civil War. In my four years studying in Savannah, I discovered this book is every bit as real as promised. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in crime and travel books, however I think it could provide a fascinating read for everyone. \

And if you want to get more into the story and experience the town for yourself, Savannah is the friendliest city in the world that makes every visitor feel welcome. It is a hub for students at the Savannah College of Art and Design, locals and tourists from all corners of the world. With year long events and celebrations, St Patricks Day is one of the highlights as the city turns green and the cobbletoned River Street is open to everyone to enjoy the day.

Rating: 5/5
Release Date: June 1995
Publisher: Vintage (Random House)
Author: John Berendt

Monday, 8 August 2011

New review on it's way...

"I've only been here three days and there's a shooting. I know you're my agent, but this place is fantastic. It's like Gone With the Wind on Mescalin. Listen to me, they walk imaginary pets here, Garland. On a ****ing leash. And they're all heavily armed and drunk. New York is boring!"
- John Kelso

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Review: Tweetheart (The Tweeting Novel)

A bit different to regular printed book is a tweeting novel. I only heard about this today. It is titled "TweetHeart". Tweetheart is a novel written by 140 character tweets and published live on Twitter by Journalist Doug Sovern.

The tweets started on the 1st January 2011 and are said to finish on the 11th November 2011. The Author is using Twitter in a way to share the story with the world as Twitter seems to be the best source for it.
With the tweets that have come in so far, I find it brilliant and very touching.

The Story:
TweetHeart is the story of Zoe, a young woman living on the streets of Berkeley, California. The story follows her as she becomes estranged from those close to her and starts to live a dangerous live on the streets. She uses twitter to communicate with her friends and family, similar to an online diary, sharing her deep thoughts, troubles and decisions. She talks about life, men, her parents, stepmother and her dog and while you get a sense of who she is, you can also see her spiraling out of control as the days go by. In the beginning she is like any other person and just like any book, you get the chance to hear the story of how things went wrong.
As the story isnt finished, there is still more to come....

In the middle of writing this, today's tweets are going live:

My thoughts:
While it is fictional, when you begin to read through the tweets, you can feel the emotion and pain. It is as though by using twitter, we suddenly become closer with Zoe as its not a book in our hands, but a live account where we eagerly wait to see what happens next. I can feel her pain and while I read through what she has to say, I have the urge to help her. I think the way the author decided to approach her story is brilliant as it feels more real. I have heard of several teenagers using Twitter to share their emotions and drama in their lives and this fits right in, just another girl having a tough time, looking for an outlet to express herself.

Behind the Story:
It is based loosely on a real person that was close to the author. On his website, he mentions that it was based on his significant other that fell into a spiral of substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness. Sadly, she did not survive it. He is using the tweeting novel to share the fictionalized version of her story, as if she has been around during our time when social networking is at its highest.

You can read the entire story on the website.
Or you can follow the story on the official Twitter.
The NextWeb review.

Are you on Instagram?

I'm a big fan of Instagram, so much that I have two accounts, one for the blog and a personal account. I have had my personal account much longer, so its a bit more exciting than the other.
I have chatted with alot of bookaholics on Instagram, so if you have an account, please feel free to follow me (under either account).

I don't want to mix my reviews and news, so you can read my article here.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

As a huge fan of Jane Austen Novels... (ok maybe thats an understatement) I decided to give this Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen) a go after a recommendation from my best friend. I was initially told the author does not butcher the original story enough that I will be offended. Luckily my brother beat me to the punch and bought me the "Deluxe Heirloom Edition".
In comparison to the paperback, this edition has 13 additional full coloured oil painting illustrations and 30% more zombies; The Author decided to write some new pages of zombie action! If you are a fan of book covers, well the limited edition Hardcover takes the cake.

To story is pretty much exactly as you will guess, Pride and Prejudice meets Zombies. Most of the basic storyline is in there, but with a twist. The author introduces some action that will appeal to the men. My brother gave this book a 10 out of 10, and he finds Jane Austens version boring.
The story is still set in the same era, in the English Country Side. Mrs Bennet is still content with marrying off her daughters, but the twist is Mr Bennet is training the girls in martial arts and teaching them how to handle powerful weapons. The same characters are still there, the same relationships and events.... however where characters simply ignore each other in society and speak ill of each other, this is replaced with death wishes and fight scenes. You may find the way Mr Darcy proposes to Elizabeth is a slightly different scenario.

Now I dont want to spoil the rest of the story to those of you who havent read it or even read Pride and Prejudice, but expect something strange; action, romance (less than usual) and drama!
I have already spoken to a few eager book readers today who are keen to give it a go.

The full coloured pages of zombie and ninja fighting action are very well drawn and hilarious. Some samples that I took using Instagram below.

For those more interested in the illustrations, there is a Graphic Novel version also available.

Rating: 5/5
Release Date: April 2009
Publisher: Quirk Classics
Link to Amazon: Paperback
                          Graphic Novel

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

YA Review: Passion (Fallen series)

I was first introduced to the Fallen books in September last year, just before the release of the second book (Torment). I have found the series very exciting to read, however it does come to a point where I want to get to the next chapter.

The Fallen series is about two characters, Luce and Daniel and their goal to be together despite everything in their way. It is a love story tracing through all eternity, where they are bound by a curse that keeps them apart after a period of time. The third book (Passion) is all about their travels back in time to learn to understand their past lives in a bid to unlock the curse that keeps them apart over and over again. In some lives, it is easy to put the pieces to together, but it others it is just as much a mystery to us as it is to Luce.
The interesting thing about the book is Lauren Kate does not only focus on Luce as she travels through time to uncover her fate, but she shows us where Daniel fits in by following him as he follows Luce. You learn much more about Daniel in this book than through the others. Something the majority of the books on the market dont really give you... the guys story.
The book received mixed reviews as alot of readers wanted to know what was going to happen next, instead they were sent back in time. However I think the fact we are sent back in time to learn the history of Luce and Daniel will play a major part in the final book (Rapture) which comes out next year. How we will stay patient to hear what happens next is a whole other story, but I expect alot of action at the start of the next book based on this ending.

My recommendation: 4/5 - Must read if you are into Fallen Angels, YA and romance.


Fallen Series: Book 1: Fallen
                     Book 2: Torment
                     Book 3: Passion
                     Book 4: Rapture - Out in 2012

Release Date: 16th June 2011 (Out Now)
Publisher: Doubleday Childrens
For more info: Authors website

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Journey begins...

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the Overflow the reed-beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The Man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.
- AB "Banjo" Paterson
I decided to start this blog for a way to share my love for reading and the publishing world. While I enjoy reading other peoples reviews on books, I am also fascinated with the world behind it. This blog will focus on reviews, publishing, technology and anything else book related.
For those of you wondering, why Banjo Paterson, I am from a town in Australia where tales from the bush, the dreamtime and ancient mythology are treasured. The Man from Snowy River has and always will be one of my favourites.