Saturday, 31 July 2010

Awesome!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

I have a huge headache

Yeah, I do. I woke up with it and it just won't go away.

Maybe I just need some fresh air, which I'll get later on when I go for a walk near the river. :) I've taken a few headache tablets too, hopefully that'll help.

So, how's everyone today? We're getting very close to the end of another week, aren't we? And tomorrow's the concert. Yay.

Anyway. I'm hoping to get back into my daily routine of writing today. Yesterday was a very long day and it rained way too much. Though at the same time, I think it matched the mood of the day. It was sad and tiring, but at least he's now been laid to rest. RIP Jim.

Okay, I'm going to get going now. But before I do, look what I found! That's right, one of the Static Movement anthologies I'm in is now available! Yay. It's called Caught by Darkness: An Anthology of Dark Tales. I've got a creepy short story called, Shoreline, in this one. :) 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

THEODORE BOONE by John Grisham

In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he's only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he's one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk - and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.

But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than he expected. Because he knows so much - maybe too much - he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.

The stakes are high, but Theo won't stop until justice is served.

I have to be honest, I've never actually read a Grisham book before. Sure, I've seen a lot of movies based on his books, but until this one I'd never sat down and read one. But when I received this book for review and read the blurb, I was intrigued. The main character is a thirteen-year-old boy, and I couldn't help but wonder what he gets himself caught up in.

So, I picked it up and was instantly swept up in the story. Theodore Boone is a very clever kid, even if he'd rather spend the day in court than at school. Both of his parents are lawyers--Dad is a real estate lawyer and Mum is a divorce lawyer--and have a family business called Boone & Boone, so it's no surprise that Theo's interested in law and that his favorite subject at school is Government. Not to mention that he has his own small office in his parents' office. It's where he goes every afternoon to do his homework. He also enjoys ducking into the local courthouse to run errands. He's very well-known there by just about everyone, including Judge Harry Gantry.

Theo's also got a knack for helping/answering law question for other kids in his class. Whenever they have a legal query, they go straight to him and get results fast. He's very helpful, and resourceful because he's always got his laptop with him and knows just where to look to get his answers. Even if he doesn't charge anyone for his services, because: "I don't have a license yet."

He also pops into a soup kitchen every Tuesday night with his parents, where he helps less fortunate children with their homework. And this is where everything going on in his life collides. See, there's a murder trial going on in town. A man's on trial for the murder of his wife, and Theo becomes obsessed with the case. He even organises for his Government class to go sit in for one day. But when one of the kids he helps at the soup kitchen approaches him about what his cousin saw on the day of the murder, it looks like this could be the only real piece of evidence.

But Theo's got himself a problem he can't crack, because by revealing what he knows the witness risks being deported. So he enlists the help of his uncle Ike (a former lawyer who had his license stripped) and together try to figure something out without involving anyone else. Something that turns to be a lot harder than it first appears.

Theodore Boone is a surprisngly good read that I really enjoyed. Actually, I breezed through it in under twenty-four hours because I really wanted to know how the trial was going to end and just how Theodore was going to work it all out. This was an interesting book with some very interesting characters and a kid that you just can't help liking. There's also a good blend of story, mystery, and court scenes. None of it was overbearing, just enough to keep you guessing.

Theodore Boone, July 2010, ISBN 978-144-471449-4, H&S Fiction Paperback (Royal)

Monday, 26 July 2010

THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING by Nancy Pickard

Twenty-six years ago, when she was only three months old, Jody Linder's father was murdered as she slept in her cot. Her mother vanished, presumed dead.

Local trouble-maker Billy Crosby confessed to the murder and was locked up, leaving his wife and son to face the consequences in the small Kansas town of Rose. But his son Collin, now a lawyer, has successfully petitioned for a retrial, which means that - for now - Billy is back in town.

Jody is horrified - the man who tore her family apart is living just a few streets away. So why does she find herself wondering if Collin is right? What if Billy was innocent, and her close-knit family has been hiding a terrible secret all these years?

Well, what can I say? I'm a sucker for small town mysteries, especially if there's some sort of dark family secret, too. And this book totally fit the bill. Not to mention that it's an amazing story!

Jody Linder lost her parents at the age of three. Her father was murdered in the house she's recently decided to call her own, and her mother disappeared. The local bad boy at the time was arrested and sent to jail for their murder, but now her three uncles have popped in to tell her that Billy Crosby is getting out of jail. Of course Jody freaks out, but is also determined to do a little investigating of her own. Because all of a sudden, a fact that she thought was absolute is getting questioned. A lot of people in the town of Rose have started to voice their opinions about whether they believed Billy really committed the murder. Including her lover, Red.

The story starts with Jody as a woman and leading her own life, preparing to start working at the local high school as a teacher, but we're soon taken back to September, 1986 when the murder/s took place. Told in the POV of several people, we get to follow most of the members of the Linder family as they get on with that fateful day and all of the events leading to Hugh-Jay's murder are lived by everyone. Of course, no one knows the truth, including the reader. Although the mystery does eventually unravel in an awesome and very unpredictable way. I thought I had it several times, but I was wrong.

This book was definitely a page-turner for me. Once I got started, I couldn't put it down. Seriously. I read most of it yesterday. I had the last twenty pages to go and polished them off early in the morning because I just couldn't wait! I couldn't get this story out of my head, and I think it'll stay there for a while yet.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning is an intense thriller that kept me turning each page with the expectation of getting to the truth. Instead, it kept throwing me deeper into the thick of things and the tangled web of this family and town. This is a great, well-written book with a vivid location, characters, and a satisfying ending too. I particularly enjoyed the story of Jody and Collin. I found it sweet in a very innocent sort of way.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning, May 2010, ISBN 978-034-092207-1, H&S Fiction Paperback (C)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY by Ally Carter


Cammie Morgan may be a spy-in-training with a genius IQ, but there are still a lot of things she doesn’t know. Like, does her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And why is her mother acting so strangely?

This semester at Gallgher Academy, Cammie just wants to lie low, but danger seems to follow her everywhere. When the principal plays host to some mysterious guests – code name: Blackthorne – she is blamed for a security breach that leaves the school at risk.

Cammie and her friends are determined to clear her name, but this time the targets are tougher (and hotter), and the stakes for Cammie’s heart – and her beloved school – are even higher.

The titles in this series are very clever! Just like the books...

Cameron Morgan--aka Cammie, or Chameleon--has just finished up her winter break by being debriefed by the CIA in DC, which wasn't that much fun. Luckily, she's now back at school--the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women--which happens to be a secret boarding school for spy girls. She's still not completely over her ex-boyfriend, even if she knows she done the right thing by letting Josh go.

She's soon faced with a new rogue operation, one that might prove to be a good distraction.

Her mother is acting secretive, and so is the hottie teacher, Mr. Solomon. Not to mention that the East Wing has been sealed off. This gives Cammie, Bex, Liz and Macey a new mission--to find out exactly what's going on. When a little bit of spying turns up the name Blackthorne, they've got themselves a lead. Because they've just discovered that there might be a spy school for boys. OMG! And after one of their CoveOps assignments goes wrong because every girl is caught before getting to their destination, Cammie is devastated to be beaten by a boy! A boy who turns out to be one of the Blackthorne guys, Zach.

All of sudden, Cammie finds herself thrown in the path of Zach even though she doesn't want to get involved with him. Or at least, she doesn't think so. I mean, he's so mysterious and always seems to be amused, almost as if he's constantly making fun of her. But he's cute, and seems to be interested in her. But when she runs into Josh in Roseville and realises that she might not be as over him as she expected and Josh seems to have moved on, she can't help but feel confused.

It's just as well that Cammie can't waste time thinking about either guy, not when something really dangerous is going on at the school and a traitor might just be trying to take very valuable information from the Gallagher Academy.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy is a fun, fun, fun book with a lot of nifty spy bits, some hilarious situations, and a lot of action. Once again, Cammie's voice grabs you by the neck and keeps you pinned to the spot until the book ends. It's interesting and unique, and full of surprises. I also love that even though Cammie went through her ordeal with Josh, she still doesn't know the first thing about how teenage boys really think.

I do believe I've become addicted to the Gallagher Girls!

Oh, and I'm going to end this review like I did last time, with a few of my favourite lines in this book:
"And I couldn't help but think that spy stuff is hard. Girl stuff is hard. But I doubt there's anything harder than spy-girl stuff"
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy: The Gallagher Girls #2, November 2008, ISBN 9780734410801, Lothian Children's Books

Thursday, 22 July 2010

SIZZLING SIXTEEN by Janet Evanovich


It is summertime in Jersey and our favourite bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is up to her old antics, joined by her gang of memorable characters: Grandma, Lulu, Connie, Vinnie and Mooner. Someone wants to kill Vinnie, Lula's involved in a shabby investment scheme while Stephanie is chasing a dangerous crim. Adding even more heat to Stephanie's life are those two sizzling hot heroes... it's Ranger days and Morelli nights (Or perhaps it's the other way 'round).

Get ready for some grand-scale fun. With hilarious capers and action galore, this is a laugh-a-minute Stephanie Plum novel not to be missed!

Well, here we are again. This is the latest book in the Stephanie Plum series, and it didn't disappoint. That's for sure. :)

Stephanie's a bond enforcement agent, which comes with some risks, but that's not the only thing that makes her life so incredibly hard and dangerous. Nope, she's got two hotties in her life--Morelli and Ranger--and can't seem to make up her mind about which one she wants. So much that it's starting to keep her up at night. And then, when she rocks on into work with Lula one morning, Connie tells them that Vinnie was taken by his bookie. Apparently, her sleazy cousin owes $786,000 after a stroke of bad luck at the track. And by the time they decide to bail him out, the amount has risen by a lot more.

Of course, they don't have that sort of money. But as it turns out, there's something much bigger and more sinister going on. Something to do with a guy called, Sunflower. So, what can the three tough chicks do to help Vinnie? They decide to find out where he is and break him out. Which leads Stephanie, Lula, and Connie into one hilarious and downright dangerous situation after another. Before they realise it, they're into something a lot deeper than they imagined. But with Ranger and Morelli on her side, Stephanie might be able to save the day. Oh, and Uncle Pip's lucky bottle might help her out of a few tight spots, too.

There's a lot of fun and snappy dialogue, a good dose of explosions, fires, a funeral viewing with a difference, some strange people to catch, an alligator called Mr. Jingles, stink bombs, a cow stampede, shootings, a genius plan to 'collect' the money they owe for Vinnie's release, brownies with a secret ingredient, and an all-round good time to be had by all!

Sizzling Sixteen is another hilarious installment in this awesome series. It's just one of those series that I can't get enough of. I doubt I'll every get sick of Stephanie's antics, or Lula's insane diets, or even Grandma Mazur's hilarious ways. This is one series that I want to keep reading and reading. What an awesome adventure! Oh, and look out for the Hobbits. There's an excellent scene featuring some very brave Hobbits, towards the end. LOL.

Can't wait for the next one!

Sizzling Sixteen, July 2010, ISBN 978-075-535280-7, Headline Fiction Paperback

Monday, 19 July 2010

REBEL by R.J. Anderson

No ordinary fairy tale…

Linden is a feisty faery with a lot on her mind. She her fellow faeries are under threat: their magic is fading, and if they do not act fast, they will die…

When Linden meets Timothy, a human staying in the house opposite her Oak, she knows he can help. Together they embark on a dangerous journey to seek more magic and discover that there is more to fear from other faeries than they could ever have imagined.
After reading KNIFE earlier this year, my daughter and I had been looking forward to reading this book. So, when she went on school holidays, we decided to read a couple of chapters each day until we got to the end. Today, we reached the end. As glad as we were to get to the end of Linden's and Timothy's fantastical adventure, now we're both sad that it's over. :(

Linden is a young faery who's been charged with heading out into the human world to find others of her kind in hopes of helping the Oakenfolk regain their magic, before the Oak and everyone in it perish. Timothy is a teenage boy who's been kicked out of school and is now staying with Paul and Peri. But he feels like a burden and is sure that neither one of them want him there, so he takes off.

Of course, he doesn't know that a tiny faery is inside his rucksack and is hoping to hitch a ride into the human city to find help. As it turns out, instead of finding other faeries, other faeries find them. And they're not entirely friendly. Actually, after venturing into a place called Sanctuary, Timothy almost has his music stolen from him by one of them--he plays the guitar. With Linden's help, they get away, and meet a male faery called Rob. He tells them that the Empress will surely know that they're in London and will hunt them down, to force them into servitude (like she has to every other faery) or punish them.

These events send Linden and Timothy on a journey across the country, to some unseen islands off the coast of Wales. Along the way they face one dangerous and harsh situation after another--ranging from having no money or food to eat, to being attacked. Their adventure is hard, long, and at the end of it they're thanked by being captured by the Empress. But like a true adventure story, the action and surprises don't end there.

Rebel is as beautifully written and charming as Knife was. It was a lovely story of friendship, rebellion, and features two very determined teens willing to do whatever it takes to not only help each other, but also save a race that is close to extinction. There are a lot of memorable moments in this story, and all of them are vivid and wondrous. Also, the strong friendship between Timothy and Linden reminded me of how Paul and Knife first got along when they met.

And speaking of Paul and Knife (or is that Peri?) I loved meeting up with them again and finding out what became of them after Knife made her very serious choice at the end of the first book.

With ARROW just around the corner, I can't wait to see who the heroine and hero in that one will be... But I do know that both my daughter and I enjoyed and loved this book as much as we did the first one. :)

Review from my 9-year-old daughter:

Rebel is an awesome book. It has an extremely dangerous and exciting adventure. There are some new faeries that made it a lot more interesting. Linden is a kind and bold faerie. Timothy is a nice friend to the Oakenfolk.

R.J Anderson wrote a very cool sequel to Knife. When my Mum read Rebel we LOVED every bit of the book--from the pretty cover, to the amazing storyline. There is adventure on every page. I just loved this book!

Here's a picture I drew of Linden.

*Cassie*

Rebel, March 2010, ISBN 9781408307373, Paperback - B Format

Busy-busy

We had another busy weekend. Got some walks in, some workouts, and even managed to get our tax returns filled out. I'll be sending them out today. Phew!

Oh, and as you can tell from my two new reviews below, I also read two more books. Of course, my TBReviewed pile is still huge. I keep saying that, don't I? But it's true. But you know, I've been reading such awesome books, that I'm just excited to have more on there.

Today, I decided to make it tie-loose-ends day. Which means that I proofread one guest blog entry, wrote and proofread another, and then emailed them both in. I also proofread one review, wrote and proofread another. Then I posted both of them to my blog. Once again, Phew!

I'd also like to finish reading REBEL to my daughter. We've got about two more chapters to go, so I'm hoping to get that done. That'll then mean another review to write. lol. It's a never-ending cycle, but a good one. :D

Well, in about twenty minutes, I'll be tackling our first thing--going for a walk. So, see ya later!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter


The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it's a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn't have a code name?

Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's doing something riskier than ever—she's falling in love.

Wow, with a title like that, I just knew I was going to be in for one hell of a ride. And I wasn't wrong.

Cammie Morgan attends the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a boarding school that looks like an elite all-girl school to outsiders in the town of Roseville, but is actually a secret school for spies. I should probably add that not only does she attend the school, but her mother is the headmistress. Actually, Cammie's mother used to be a former spy, just like her father, who died during a mission.

It's Cammie's sophomore year, so she'll get a chance to learn a whole new set of spy intel. She shares a suite with her best friends, Liz and Bex. But when a fourth girl is added--the obnoxious daughter of a Senator who seems to get kicked out of every school she attends even though she's smart--Cammie's not too happy. Still, Macey turns out to be helpful, especially the day that Cammie meets a boy called Josh. An average boy she can't stop thinking about. With the help of her friends, they wind up running surveillance on him, which leads to some very funny scenes as they attempt to find out about him to get an understanding of how boys think. lol.

But how can Cammie the Chameleon keep a fake relationship going with a guy she's possibly falling in love with when everything she's told him about her life is false? A made up legend that she wants to keep separate from her real life persona. Because at the end of the day, she realises that for once, she wishes she could be a normal girl dealing with normal issues. Even if she discovers that she knows virtually nothing about boys, or being a normal teenager, for that matter.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You is a fantastic book! There's a bit of everything in it--spy secrets, teenage angst, humour, action, romance, strong friendship, loyalty, adventure, sadness, and a lot of tough teenage chicks! It's an awesome mix, and Cammie's voice just made everything that much more fun. I love the way that Ally Carter can mix a very serious setting with funny bits that had me laughing out loud. Like, Josh trying to rescue Cammie. That totally cracked me up.

I loved this book so much that I devoured it in one day. Seriously. Bring on the rest of The Gallagher Girls books... and since I happen to have two more already waiting for me: excellent!

Oh, and I'm going to end this review with one of my favourite lines in this book:

"All these years I'd thought being a spy was challenging. Turns out, being a girl is the tricky part."

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You: The Gallagher Girls #1, August 2008, ISBN 9780734410795, Lothian Children's Books

Saturday, 17 July 2010

FIRESPELL by Chloe Neill


As the new girl at the elite St. Sophia's boarding school, Lily Parker thinks her classmates are the most monstrous things she'll have to face. When Lily's guardians decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia's. Lily's ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke and on top of that, she's hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building. The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout's a little weird - she keeps disappearing late at night and won't tell Lily where she's been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster...

This is another YA book that I'd been looking forward to reading, so when I got started and found Lily's voice to be casual, clever, sarcastic, and fun... I was instantly sucked into this world she's only discovering herself.

Lily Parker has just been sent off to St. Sophia's. A boarding school for girls located in the heart of Chicago. She's not too happy about it, but her parents have been offered an opportunity of a lifetime in their academic lives and there's no better place to put her. So, she gets there, tries to settle in, and meets a girl called Scout. Scout looks like a bit of a rebel, and when Lily notices that she's sneaking back in really late at night, she can't help but be curious.

Of course, Scout isn't willing to share. So the next time she sneaks out, Lily follows her to the basement. Where it looks like Scout's running from something. In the meantime, Lily meets two other friends of Scout's--boys who attend the male version of her boarding school. And also gets acquaintanced with the 'brat pack', three obnoxious girls who decide to play a prank on Lily because she's obviously chosen the wrong friends to hang out with. When they lead her to the basement and shut her into a janitor's room, she's able to make it out, but that also leads her to Scout's secret. And gets her injured.

After that, she's pretty much dragged into a secret world of magic that a small group of teenagers is trying to keep balanced. They moonlight as protectors of humans who have been targeted by Reapers--tainted magic users--and each have a power of their own. Lily doesn't seem to fit in at first, but as the days go by and she starts to realise that her parents might be keeping a few secrets from her, she once again gets in too deep. Especially when the Reapers take Scout.

Firespell is a page-turner that gradually introduces you to the characters, the city, and the hidden world they live in. Lily's voice was snappy and snarky, and her conversation exchanges with Scout are awesome. There's even a little hint of romance that takes a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but I can't wait to see where things go with the mysterious blue-eyed Jason. And also, very importantly, because this is a first POV-written book, I really liked Lily. She's a cool, interesting character who's slowly finding out that things in her life aren't as simple as they seemed.

This was a very entertaining book, and a terrific start to a new series that I can't wait to read more about. Another awesome book to add to the list!

Firespell: Dark Elite #1, July 2010, ISBN 978-057-509540-3, Gollancz Paperback

Friday, 16 July 2010

I've said it before...

...and I'll say it again:

Where the hell did the week go?

My gosh!

I can't believe that Tuesday was the last time I popped in for a post, but the days just keep slipping away from me. I've been filling them with a mix of revision (or re-reading), spending time with my daughter, going for walks, reading (both on my own and with my daughter), keeping the place tidy, catching up on the washing, and writing reviews. And I still have two blog posts to write, as well as my monthly RomErotica's blog to schedule. Yikes!

At least the novella has now been finished, formatted, and emailed in. That's one less thing to worry about now. And I've finally posted book reviews for the two books I finished within the last week. My TBReviewed pile is still huge, though. And I received three more books today. lol.

Anyway, today I'm aiming to get the guest blog posts written (at least the first draft) and the RomErotica post scheduled. Oh, and because we're going for our daily walk in less than an hour, I better get going, I need to clean Loki's litterbox before leaving.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

WHITE CAT by Holly Black


Cursed by the memory of the fourteen year old girl he murdered. Life at school is a constant trial. Life at home even worse. No-one at home is ever going to forget that Cassel is a killer. No-one at home is ever going to forget that he isn't a magic worker.

Cassel's family are one of the big five crime families in America. Ever since magic was prohibited in 1929 magic workers have been driven underground and into crime. And while people still need their touch, their curses, their magical killings, their transformations, times have been hard. His granddad has been driven to drink, his mother is in prison and his brothers detest him as the only one of their family who can't do magic.

But there is a secret at the centre of Cassel's family and he's about to inherit it. It's terrifying and that's the truth.

Wow. This book was so awesome that as soon as I picked it up, I couldn't get it out of my mind.

It's no secret that Holly Black is an amazingly talented storyteller. She weaves fantastical stories that leap off the pages and captivate you so much that you can't put them down. And her latest--book one of The Curse Workers series, is just that: brilliant.

Cassel Sharpe lives in a world that's a lot like ours, except that it's also inhabited by Workers. People who can do things to others with a touch of their hands. It's the reason why everyone wears gloves and having your hands uncovered looks obscene and dangerous.

He's your average student at Wallingford Preparatory, or at least he pretends to be. He acts the way he's supposed to, even if he has a little betting business on the side. Being the only one in his family who is not a Worker is hard enough, without adding the fact that he once killed a girl and his family helped him hide it. His father's dead, his mother's in jail, and who needs enemies when he has brothers like Philip and Barron? Plus, he's just been kicked out of school because they think he's suicidal after being found on the school's roof.

But that's the least of his worries, because when he ends up with his grandfather cleaning the old family home, Cassel's life begins to unravel. He starts to dream and see a white cat--the reason why he was sleepwalking and ended up on the school roof--that reminds him of a girl he used to know and love. The girl he killed.

Haunted by the cat, he starts to wonder if he's been cursed, which leads to figuring out that things aren't as they seem in his family. And so begins his journey into the truth. What he finds out is both wondrous and woeful. The amount of secrets that are being kept from him are huge and have some very serious circumstances. Including showing what he's really like to a couple of people at school, something he's never been brave enough to do before.

White Cat is a riveting page turner of a book, with a great cast of characters and a whole lot of surreal and amazing situations. I got sucked in from the very beginning. Actually, I read it in three sittings because I just didn't want to put it down.

This is one awesome book! Loved it. Looking forward to reading more stories set in this very dangerous and unstable world.

White Cat, June 2010, ISBN 978-057-509671-4, Gollancz Paperback

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

WINTERCRAFT by Jenna Burtenshaw


Ten years ago Kate Winters' parents were taken by the High Council's wardens to help with the country's war effort. Now the wardens are back...and prisoners, including Kate's uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane - the High Council's most feared man - recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council's experiments into the veil, and he's convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft - a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft.

I have to admit that I'm a book-cover fan, and although the cover for this book looks nice on the screen... it doesn't do it justice. It's got patterns on it that you can't make out properly, but when you hold it--nice!

Anyway, enough about the lovely cover. This is a YA fantasy book that I'd been looking forward to checking out, and it didn't disappoint.

Kate Winters lives in Morvane with her uncle. They have a small bookstore that does okay, and are left alone to do their business. Kate has a best friend called Edgar. He's shy, loyal, and helps out at the bookstore. Everything in her life is peaceful, even if she did lose her parents the last time wardens stormed the town.

And now, the wardens have returned. The day they storm into Morvane, Kate's peaceful life gets thrown into chaos. While hiding in the basement with her uncle and Edgar, she revives a dead bird by holding it in her hands. This gets the attention of Silas Dane. A man who isn't exactly alive, but wants one of the most powerful Skilled to help him out of his undead existence. And when he eventually gets his hands on Kate, the game of cat and mouse begins. Every time she gets away from him, Silas seems to be one step behind her. Until he gets her on the Night Train, and takes her to the graveyard city of Fume. Which is now being used by the High Council.

In Fume, Kate starts to realise that her life isn't as simple as she thought it was. She also comes to terms with the fact that her uncle has lied to her for years, in order to keep her safe. Although she doesn't know it, she's one of the Skilled and becomes a sought-after weapon. Because when the cunning Da'ru gets her hands on her, she wants Kate to find Wintercraft--a book that will give Da'ru the power she craves. But not if Silas gets to it first.

I really enjoyed this story. There seemed to be a new discovery at the turn of every chapter. The mythology, customs, and way of life was intriguing. I couldn't wait to find out what Silas wanted from Kate. I also thought that the interaction between Silas and Kate was unexpected. Her friendship with Edgar is only strengthened, even though he's got his own secrets and a past he wanted to escape. And she never gives up on her uncle, Artemis. Also, the scenes featuring the Veil are amazing.

Wintercraft is a refreshing, exciting, and very well written fantasy tale that takes the reader to a very unique place. The imagery was vivid, the characters interesting, and the story so intoxicating that even though Fume was so dangerous, I couldn't wait to return.

Yeah, I loved this book. It's packed with a whole lot of dangerous fun.

Wintercraft, June 2010, ISBN 978-075-537096-2, Headline Paperback (B)

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Oh, man!

This filmclip makes me VERY excited. And not just because I love this band and love this song... but because soon, I will be just like these other lucky people in the crowd. I will be going to the Sydney 30STM concert on July 30, and I'm starting to get really excited. :)

Awesome! Can't wait.

But anyway. It's Tuesday today. I've got stuff I need to do.

This week, I want to read the novella I mentioned yesterday. As well as write two guest blog posts and a review. There are just so many things to do all the time. And not enough time to do it in. If you like to get some sleep, that is.

The days are just going so fast, too. I feel like I'm constantly racing to meet my goals. Of course, having only a few hours a day to get any real amount of writing stuff done is hard. But this is my daughter's last week of school holidays, so next Tuesday I'll get my almost-6 hours/day back. :) Still, having said that, I'm actually having a good time with my daughter at home. Looks like the older she gets, the easier it is to organise our day together.

I'm quite happy with what I've managed so far today: read the first 44/94pgs of novella, got the first chapter finalised (don't ask, double checker here), went for a walk, read two more chapters of REBEL to my daughter, blogged (heee heee), and am getting lunch ready now. Phew. Still got other things I'd like to get done before hubby gets home, though.
Well, see ya!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Pulpo = win!

The other day, I mentioned Octopus Paul--aka Pulpo Paul--and I have to mention him again today. You see, he's quite the champ. Here he is with his latest prediction:

He clearly picked Spain over the Netherlands. And you know what? He was right, right, right! Yes. Spain won the World Cup. We got up at 4am this morning to watch the match, but gosh, the real action didn't happen until almost the end of extra time. By then, hubby had already left for work. lol. Still, it was worth watching. :)

And, that's it for another four years. It was fun while it lasted, but it'll be great to get some proper sleep now.

You know, late last week, I thought I knew what I was going to tackle this week... but over the weekend, I changed my mind. This month has been a lot about rewriting/reviving stories that I think deserve a second chance of life. So far, that adventure has proven to be quite successful, and I'm going to take it again. This week, I'm going to read over (I don't expect any real rewriting, just tweaks) a novella that I'm going to sub into an anthology. I plan to get it read by the end of the week, so I can sub it in by Friday. Fingers crossed.

Because of the World Cup, I got off to a pretty bad start. :( Just got the first chapter done, and want to read it again because my head just wasn't in the right place. Hopefully I can do that sometime later, although I doubt it because daughter and I have to walk down to the bank to sort something out. I hate it when people make errors that should've been clear from the start. Incompetence is a pet peeve of mine.

Well, better get my daughter's brekky ready because I want to head out as early as I can. Better to get to the bank early. See ya!

PS. I got a new Static Movement Anthology acceptance this morning! For the Ghosts and Demons antho, this time. Got my eye on the Darkest Secrets one, too. :D

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A new FREE READ...

Jake is a vampire haunted by the past.
Mary is a waitress trapped inside a coffee shop.
Can flesh and blood help save each other?

That's right, this is a vampire novella that was previously available to buy, but I'm now offering as a free PDF download on my website.

If you'd like to get yourself a copy, you can HERE.


:::Feel free to share the cover and link, if you like:::

Friday, 9 July 2010

Oracle Talk

Even if you haven't been watching the World Cup, I'm pretty sure you've heard about the octopus called Paul--aka the German Octopus Oracle. Well, if you haven't, here he is with his latest pick:

Isn't he cute? As you can see in the pic, he actually picked Spain to win. And he was right! He's been right every single time. Which is awesome. In so many ways. Of course, the Germans were a little disappointed by his latest choice, but damn it, he got it right again. I think he's totally awesome, and just had to post a pic on my blog. :)

Well, what have you been up to? I've been busy trying to get the word out about my latest release. Yay! It's amazing how many places need to be updated whenever a new book comes out. It's a lot of fun, but I always find that I forget somewhere and then have to rush around a day or two later. lol. Still, I think I've got the word out as best as I can. Just gotta send it out to a few review places now. Looking forward to hearing what readers think of Gypsy and Calvin's story.

It should be out in print soon too, which is great! Can't wait to have a copy in my hands. :D

My gosh, it's Friday. I can't believe how quickly this week's gone! Yikes. I probably won't get a chance to do anything too involved today, but at least I'll be able to tie up a few things. I've managed to cross stuff off my to-do list, but still have a few other things left to do. Some which will probably take a while--like reading REBEL to my daughter. We're up to page 50-something at the moment. We're aiming to get through it by the end of her school holidays. I think we can do it.

Oh, and on another positive note, I've had another short story accepted into a Static Movement Anthology. This antho is called, Madness of the Mind. And I had a story which I thought was perfect for it. It's called Shocked. And actually happens to be one of those stories I mentioned the other day. Y'know, the ones that deserve a second chance at life. I opened it, rewrote it, and subbed it. So glad it got accepted. These anthologies are addictive. lol.

I guess that's it for today. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

ASH by Malinda Lo


In the world of ASH, fairies are an older race of people who walk the line between life and death, reality and magic. As orphaned Ash grows up, a servant in her stepmother s home, she begans to realise that her beloved mother, Elinor was very much in tune with these underworld folk, and that she herself has the power to see them too. Against the sheer misery of her stepmother’s cruelty, greed and ambition in preparing her two charmless daughters for presentation at court, and hopefully Royal or aristocratic marriage, Ash befriends one of these fairies a mysterious, handsome man who grants her wishes and restores hope to Ash’s existence, even though she knows there will be a price to pay. But most important of all, she also meets Kaisa, a huntress employed by the king, and it is Kaisa who truly awakens Ash s desires for both love and self-respect…

Isn't the cover for this book absolutely stunning? I love the colours, the font, the dress Ash is wearing... it's all beautiful. This is a story that I've been wanting to read for a while now, so when I picked it up on Friday night, I was hooked in right away.

Ash is a 12-year-old girl mourning the loss of her mother, and shortly after finds herself doing the same for her father. By that time, he's remarried and Lady Isobel has taken over the household. But as soon as Ash's father dies, Isobel moves back to Quinn House, isolating Ash from her life in Rook Hill. Gradually, her stepmother turns Ash into the maid's helper. Until she figures it would be easier and cheaper to make Ash do all of the chores. And if Ash refuses, she gets locked away in the cellar.

The years pass and Ash is treated like a slave. Expected to do everything for her stepsisters, as well as take care of the house on her own. She's very lonely, and never quite gets over the loss of her parents. Especially her mother, who believed in things that everyone else has forgotten or disregards. But Ash was always intrigued by old stories, and when she meets the mysterious, Sidhean, he becomes her only, constant friend. Even if he is keeping a secret from her.

When the very alluring huntress, Kaisa enters her life, Ash is fascinated by her. Kaisa is strong and independent, beautiful and headstrong. After meeting by chance several times, they slowly build a friendship. Ash loves spending time with Kaisa, and with Sidhean's help is able to partake in the events that bring her closer to the huntress. But using fairy magic means that she owes a debt. Still, it all seems worth it, to spend more time with Kaisa.

This is a magical and enchanting story about a girl growing up all alone and finding comfort in fairy tales.

Ash is a magical and enchanting story. It's a beautiful, unique retelling of the Cinderella story, with a lot of new elements that I really enjoyed. And the object of Ash's affection isn't the prince, but the King's Huntress. I found the growing frienship between the two girls touching. It was so sweet to see how it slowly, but mutually became so much more.

This is a love story with a difference. It's also a story of how magic affects someone in a time when most doubt it even exists. But above all, this is one fantastic story!

Ash, May 2010, ISBN 9780340988374, Paperback - B Format

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Hello!

Today, I'm being interviewed at the Menagerie Authors Blog. Pop in and say 'Hi!' if you have a sec. :D

Wow, having two hours to squeeze in some serious writing/revision is definitely not enough time. But that's pretty much all of the alone time I'll have for the next few weeks.

Still, it's not all that bad. While my daughter finds other stuff to do, I do get time to blog, update, and tick some things off my to-do list.

The first thing I ticked off my list this morning was finishing up the Sci-Fi rewrite/revision novel. I knew that it would be a good idea to put it aside until today, because last night when I was falling asleep, I remembered a few things that needed a final look. I fixed those as soon as I woke up this morning, and then subbed it to one of my publishers. Now it's time to cross my fingers and be nervous until I hear back. lol.

In the meantime, the only thing I have left to do is finalise the notes for this first installment and write down/possibly write the first chapter for the second book. It also appeared inside my head last night. You gotta love it when that happens!

Yesterday, I picked up WINTERCRAFT. I have to admit that three chapters in, I'm already looking forward to reading the rest of the story. That's always an excellent sign. :) And after we got back from our walk this morning, I started to read REBEL to my daughter. We both love this one already.

So, there's some happy reading ahead.

One of the Static Movement Anthologies I had a story accepted in is already closed. You can read the TOC here. And the cover's just above it. I really, really like this cover. Very creepy and bright, for all the wrong reasons. ;)
Well, that's it for today.

One day until SoG is released... and until I'm a year older.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Back to the dreary...

After a gorgeous weekend, once daylight hit this morning (I actually get up before the sun comes up, lol) I noticed how dark it was still out there. And of course, no sun means that the temperature drops quite a bit. :(

Anyway. I'm so tired today. We've been watching the soccer over the weekend, which means going to bed after 2AM. At least I'm glad that the matches were good. And guess what? Spain's gone through to the next round! Yay. Let's hope they make it all the way to the end, huh?

Yesterday, I had three different short stories accepted into three different Static Movement Anthologies. They are for: Creepy Things, Were-What? and Caught By Darkness. That was very cool news, indeed! I'm very excited to have found a home for my little stories. It's better than just having them sit on my hard drive.

This year, I've been going through short stories that I've written throughout the years, and I've put aside the ones that I think deserve to be looked at and revised/rewritten. My writing has evolved, and some of those shorties deserve a second chance at life. So after doing just that to a handful of them, being included in the above anthologies is great!

Okay. Another cool thing: I believe that the Sci-Fi novel (yes, I can now call it a novel) is done. I finished reading everything that I rewrote on Friday, and added/deleted a few last-minute things. I'm very excited about how it's turned out, and hope to sub it in tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed. It ended up being 60,829 words. How cool is that? And it's so different that it's virtually a new story. ;)

Darn it! I was hoping to go for a walk today, but it looks like we won't be going anywhere. It's raining. :( Now, I have no problem walking in the rain when I'm by myself, but dragging my daughter with me is a different story. So, let's hope it clears up soon.

Two days until SoG is released...

Friday, 2 July 2010

What a pretty picture!

Don't you think?

Well, what can I say... but, it's Friday! Yay. The weekend is already here, really. I mean, it is Friday night now. I didn't have enough time to blog during the day because I was busy with the Sci-Fi rewrite.

I wanted to get it finished by today, but... um, I didn't exactly finish. I did, but I didn't. What does that mean? Well, instead of rewriting/revising a chapter and then backtracking to make sure that everything fit together, I decided to just keep moving forward until I got to the end. Which I did.

The stats are: Total pages ended up being 171. Word count is 58,426. That's pretty cool. Except, I don't know where the extra 8k came from. lol. I was hoping to reach 50k and instead am pretty close to 60k. But hey, I'm not complaining. In fact, I think 60k should be the new word count goal. ;)

I have to admit that as much as I wanted to be done with it so that I could move on to something new next week, I don't mind. My daughter is now on school holidays for two weeks, so I think that finishing up this rewrite, dealing with a new release, catching up on my reading, and taking care of things that need to be brainstormed and/or cleared off my to-do list will be perfect things to tackle.

So, backtracking will be the first thing on the list. I have to go back to page 113 and read on from there. I expect the word count to go up a little again, because I pretty much rewrote the story from there. I can't believe how much the story has changed and evolved. I like it a LOT better now.

Last night, I picked up ASH and started reading it. Wow, it hooked me in right away. I love the writer's voice, and the story's charming so far. Can't wait to read more of it. I'll have to put some time aside for it over the weekend.

Have a great one!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Toy Story 3 is a winner!


As you can probably tell, we went to watch TOY STORY 3 the other night. We surprised our daughter by taking her to a Tuesday evening session, and we all LOVED it. I also adore the aliens. They're so cute, and heroic. ;)

If you enjoyed the first two movies (which I did) then you'll love this one as well. The toys all have another big, dangerous adventure that takes them from Andy's room, to Sunnyside, and other places that I can't mention because it would provide spoilers. lol. Still, it was another amazing story with a lot of heart. I just want to hug the movie. *grin*

Asides from that, I've been busy working on the Sci-Fi rewrite. I'm currently sitting on page 132/157, and the word count's gone up to 53,409. See, here's where it seems like I've been doing nothing: according to yesterday's stats, I only got through 8 pages worth of work. That's nothing! But, I added 1,600 words, which is pretty good progress. And why did that happen? Well, because the last two chapters I've worked on needed to be totally rewritten. As well as the one I'm working on now. Phew! Because of all the changes I made earlier on in the story, this section needs to be changed as well.

The coolest thing about this is that it's pretty much an entirely different story now. It's almost as if it's now based-on the previous novella, not just revised. :) Strange, but cool.

I've also finished reading a book that should've taken me a day (max) but instead has taken me three weeks! WTH? Seriously, I should've loved it. But I didn't. I did, however, love Sookie #10. I need to proofread and post the review.

Anyway, I've got to make my daughter's lunch now. See ya later!

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer


Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Okay, let me start this review by saying that I really enjoyed the Twilight Saga. I was one of those few people who read it late. Actually, I only read them a few years ago. But when I got started on Twilight, it only took me a few weeks to read the four books. I got caught up in Bella's world, and have to admit that I enjoyed every moment of it.

When I heard about this novella, I was excited. Even if I couldn't remember Bree. To be honest with you, I still can't. And even though I did know what was going to happen at the end, I was looking forward to reading a story told from the POV of one of the red-eyed vampires. Yet, when I picked it up and got started, I had to put it down. Several times.

A book that should've taken me a day to read (max) actually took me three weeks. I picked up other books in between because I just couldn't get into it. I'm not sure what it was exactly, though I suspect there were a few things. The fact that there are no chapter breaks at all was a little annoying. I also couldn't connect with Bree. No matter how much I read, I just didn't care about her 'ordeal' or that she struck up a relationship with Diego after three months of violence with the other vampires. I didn't like Riley, or that Victoria was pulling the strings of this 'vampire army' created to defeat the Cullens and the 'human girl'. And to be honest, it wasn't all that exciting.

Although, I did enjoy reading when Bree and Diego overhear the conversation between Riley, Victoria and the Volturi. And I did like Fred--a character that we unfortunately didn't get to see much on the page.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a novella intended for hardcore fans of the Twilight series. It's well written and adds a little more perspective to the vampires who aren't like the Cullens. It also shows you how the Cullen family appear through someone else's eyes. The cover's lovely, too. But for me, it didn't personally add anything new. I think there's such a thing as Twilight overload, and I might have reached that quota.

Although, at the end of the day, this is just my opinion.

I'm looking forward to reading something set in a completely new world from Stephenie Meyer.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella, June 2010, ISBN 978-190-741036-9, Atom Hardback (HB)

 
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