Book of the Week – 26

Hello gentle reader,

A while ago I wrote a post about the books which successfully build a bridge between literary and genre fiction. The book I just finished reading belongs to this narrow category. It’s entitled NIGHT FILM and it was written by Marisha Pessl. It’s a literary thriller which was published in January 2013.

Night Film

From Goodreads:

Everybody has a Cordova story.

Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.

For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.

The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lost his grip on reality.

You may remember Marisha Pessl’s debut novel, SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS, is one of my favourite books of all time. Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating her second book, NIGHT FILM. I had to wait 7 years for it, but it was definitely worth the wait. This book is amazing. Buy it or borrow it now, and read it as soon as possible.

Have you read NIGHT FILM? What did you think? What are you reading this week?

Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Jazz Age January – 2

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Hello gentle reader,

Jazz Age January is a reading challenge hosted by Leah at Books Speak Volumes. The idea is to read books related to the Roaring Twenties during the month of January. If you want to join in the fun, read about it here.

This week, I’m reviewing BORN OF ILLUSION by Teri Brown.

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Title: Born Of Illusion

Author: Teri Brown

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Publication: 11th June 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Blurb (from Goodreads):

A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

What I thought:

I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to. The blurb really grabbed me (the Roaring 20s! Magic! Secrets!) but unfortunately the story itself failed to deliver the promised excitement. The main problem was that everything was told rather than shown: we’re told Anna is a gifted magician, yet we barely get to see her do any magic. We’re told the story takes place in 1920’s New York, yet we don’t get to see much of it (halfway through the book I actually had to check where the story took place, because the setting was so vague I couldn’t remember this piece of information). The last straw was during the final showdown, when the main character faints (!) and therefore we don’t get to see any of the ending firsthand. Definitely not the best 1920s book I’ve read.

What have you been reading this week? Make sure to leave me a comment below!

YA New Releases – December Edition

Hello gentle reader,

this month I have decided to highlight a few novellas that I’m really looking forward to reading…

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Forged by Jennifer Rush (Altered #0.5)

Expected publication: 3d December 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Before Anna and Sam, there was Dani and Sam.

There’s one rule that all Branch operatives must live by: No attachments. When Dani O’Brien entered the Branch, she planned to trade her freedom so that her family could have a better life. But joining up with the mysterious organization is more than she bargained for. Branch head Connor watches over her closely–too closely. The training is brutal, the experiments are secret, and the missions promise to be anything but ordinary. The only thing getting Dani through each day is the hope that she’ll run into Sam–a young man, about her age, who wears the world on his shoulders.

This short-story is the prequel to Jennifer Rush’s thrilling and suspenseful Altered series.

The Last Stand of the New York Institute

The Last Stand of the New York Institute

by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson (The Bane Chronicles #9)

Expected publication: 17th December 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Magnus meets Valentine in battle as the Circle attacks the Downworlders of New York City.

In the time of the Uprising, Valentine’s Circle goes after Downworlders in New York…and the Shadowhunters of the Institute must decide whether to join him, or fight with Magnus and his kind. This is the first time Magnus sees Jocelyn, Luke, and Stephen—but not the last. It is not long before Jocelyn seeks him out…

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Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me #2.5)

Expected publication: 17th December 2013 by HarperCollins

In this electrifying sixty-page companion novella to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, discover the fate of the Omega Point rebels as they go up against The Reestablishment. Set during and soon after the final moments of Unravel Me, Fracture Me is told from Adam’s perspective.
Fracture Me sets the stage for Ignite Me, the explosive finale in Tahereh Mafi’s epic dystopian series.

LITTLE, BROWN BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS DANGEROUS DREAM

Dangerous Dream by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Dangerous Creatures #0.5)

Expected publication: 17th December 2013

“Beautiful Creatures” authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are going back to Gatlin for an all-new spin-off series called “Dangerous Creatures”. The series follows fan favorite characters (and on-again-off-again couple) Link and Ridley as they embark on fresh adventures. The series kicks off with the enovella “Dangerous Dream,”, followed by the release of the first book, “Dangerous Creatures,” on May 6, 2014.

Which books are you looking forward to reading this month? Let me know below!

YA New Releases – November Edition

Hello gentle reader,

There are A LOT of YA books coming out this month! Here are the ones I’m most eagerly anticipating… they’re all coming out on 5th November 2013 (blurbs are from Goodreads).

palace of spies

Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel (HMH Books for Young Readers)

Historical Mystery

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t.

Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love…

 

Cold Spell

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Fairytale retelling

Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.

But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.

If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

Jackson Pearce, author of the acclaimed SISTERS RED and FATHOMLESS, returns with a unique vision of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”.

Daylighters

Daylighters (The Morganville Vampires #15) by Rachel Caine (Allison & Busby)

Paranormal (vampires)

Something drastic has happened in Morganville while Claire and her friends were away. The town looks cleaner and happier than they’ve ever seen it before, but when their incoming group is arrested and separated—vampires from humans—they realize that the changes definitely aren’t for the better.

It seems that an organization called the Daylight Foundation has offered the population of Morganville something they’ve never had: hope of a vampire-free future. And while it sounds like salvation—even for the vampires themselves—the truth is far more sinister and deadly.

Now, Claire, Shane and Eve need to find a way to break their friends out of Daylighter custody, before the vampires of Morganville meet their untimely end…

(NB: this is the last book in the series!)

Which books are you looking forward to reading this month? Let me know below!

BREAKABLE Cover Reveal!

Hello gentle reader,

One of my good friends and critique partners Aimee L. Salter has a YA Magical Realism novel debuting on 4th November 2013: BREAKABLE. I’m really excited for her book to be out, and I’m even more excited to reveal her beautiful cover art!

Here’s the book blurb. Scroll down to check out the cover!

When seventeen-year-old Stacy looks in the mirror she can see and talk to her future self. “Older Me” has been Stacy’s secret support through the ongoing battle with their neurotic mother, relentless bullying at school, and dealing with her hopeless love for her best friend, Mark.

Then Stacy discovers Older Me is a liar.

Still reeling from that betrayal, Stacy buries herself in her art. But even that is taken from her when her most persistent tormentor uses her own work to humiliate her – and threaten her last chance with Mark.

Stacy’s reached breaking point.

Literally.

Author Bio

Aimee L. Salter2

Aimee L. Salter is a Pacific North-Westerner who spent much of her young (and not-so-young) life in New Zealand. After picking up a Kiwi husband and son, she’s recently returned to Oregon.

She writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, are still in touch with their inner-high schooler.

You can find Aimee on Twitter and Facebook.

The premise of BREAKABLE was inspired by a visit to the website www.dearteenme.com in which authors write letters to their teen selves. This is Aimee’s first book.

And… here is the cover!

BREAKABLE

Isn’t it amazing?!

Don’t forget to add BREAKABLE on Goodreads, and you can also enter a giveaway on Aimee’s blog to win a signed and inscribed paperback, or an e-book of BREAKABLE!

 

Book of the Week – 20

Hello gentle reader,

My choice for Book of the Week is Coldness of Marek by Rachel O’Laughlin. It’s an Adult Epic Fantasy book and the first book in the Serengard Series. It was released on 6th August 2013 and I received an ARC from the author for review.

ColdnessOfMarek-Cover

I’ll start by saying that I fully enjoyed this book. I love Epic Fantasy and this is a very well written and engrossing read.

The story is divided into two parts: the first part takes place before a political upheaval which is going to overthrow the reigning monarch and introduce a new regime. The second part takes place ten years later and deals with the aftermath of the rebellion.

I loved how effortless the world building was in this story: Serengard and its political, social and geographical features are introduced slowly and smoothly, making it very easy to get immersed  in this world.

The characters are rich and complex, with Trzl at the center of it all. She is a wonderfully multifaceted woman, clever yet passionate, cold yet loving. Around her, a web of men with their own agendas creates a great cast. I only wished there were more female characters.

The plot is well-paced and compelling, although I did enjoy Part II more, because the action and scheming really picked up then and I couldn’t put the book down after hitting the halfway mark.

Although this first book in this series has a satisfying ending, I finished the story longing to dive into Book 2 straight away. But Knights of Rilch will only be released in February 2014…

In the meantime, I recommend Coldness of Marek for lovers of Epic Fantasy!

What are you reading this week?

A Writer In The Spotlight – Rachel O’Laughlin

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Rachel O’Laughlin on my blog as a part of her Coldness of Marek Blog Tour!

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Coldness of Marek, an Adult Epic Fantasy, is the first book in the Serengard Series and it comes out today!

A Writer In The Spotlight – 15

Author : Rachel O’Laughlin
Genre : Epic Fantasy
Location: New England
Contact: Website Facebook Twitter Goodreads
Books : Coldness of Marek (2013)

Bio: Obsessed with all things history, Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories and only recently fell in love with fantasy as a genre. She lives in New England with her husband and children, grows roses and tweets often. She adores lattes, The Fray, long drives in the country, and any dark story with a good twist. Coldness of Marek is her first novel.

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My interview (29th July 2013)

On Writing

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes! I always knew. When I was a little kid I used to write picture books, and by the time I was six or seven I was writing chapter books. They were all pretty lame, I’m sure, but I had a lot of fun. One of my friends who has read a little bit of everything I wrote through the years claims my signature event is a kidnapping. “Someone always gets abducted in your stories,” she claims. Glancing through my various drafts, it’s pretty true. Why do I always have a kidnapping? I have no idea. I guess I’m morbid like that, ha.

When and where do you write?

I write for about a half hour in the early morning before my kids awaken, and then again for two hours in the afternoon while they nap. These days I tend to perch on the loveseat with my Netbook. I’ll occasionally go to a coffee shop when I have a babysitter, and a lot of words to catch up on. I’ll end up writing again after dinner if I’m on a deadline. Hubby is a sweetheart and watches the kids whenever he can. WIN!

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Quite a bit, actually. I always have emotions pouring through me, sketchy visions of what characters are feeling and saying to each other, but I often fail at plots. I can write pages and pages of dialogue that makes no sense whatsoever plot-wise — but it has ALL THE FEELS — and then writer’s block will hit when I’m trying to iron out those details. When NaNoWriMo comes around, I fortify myself with all the chocolate and coffee and push through every barrier, no matter how bad the writing I end up with may be. It’s totally worth it. I fast-draft in spurts throughout the year, and then revise when I can look at things with a cold, critical eye. It works for me.

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

Draft something. Anything. Get your words down, and finish a whole MS. It might not be the one you want to polish and take all the way, but simply writing words will keep your brain going and your craft improving. Someday you’ll write something amazing that you want to share with the world, and all that drafting will pay off.

Is it better to outline and plot your novel or “go with the flow”?

I outlined my first two 100k manuscripts, then I completely went with the flow for COLDNESS OF MAREK. It took a lot a revision AND a full rewrite, but it was nice to just run with it while writing. The second book had a definite outline…but I just tossed half of that outline out the window, so we’ll see what happens. I do have a future novel that I’m outlining the heck out of and I have a feeling it will be the most epic of anything. Needless to say, my process seems to change with each project, and I’m cool with that.

Do you set goals for yourself as you write?

Always. Rewards for reaching 15k, 30k, 50k, 80k, for finishing a revision, for getting through edits, anything. Usually the reward is just a break and an episode of The Mentalist or something, but it keeps me pushing through instead of procrastinating. It’s cool when I have rewards from the outside, too. Like, my sister-in-law brought me a pound of homemade butter for finishing my rewrite. My husband is more of an endless dispenser of chocolate and delicious drinks whenever he sees me getting bogged down.

ColdnessOfMarek-Cover

On Coldness of Marek

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from?

I wanted to try epic fantasy when I was about 13 but I was just terrible at it, and I swore off of fantasy.  Then, when NaNo 2011 rolled around, the cliffs and cliff men begging to be written, and I knew it had to be a fantasy. Really, the image was just THERE and I couldn’t shake it. Trzl was challenging. I felt like I knew her, because she reminded me of a tenacious girl I grew up with. Just, boom, she existed, everything about her crystal clear. Maintaining that consistency wasn’t easy, though. I was tempted to change her all the time. I had to force myself to come back to my muse and ask myself what she would REALLY do. Mikel, on the other hand, was this purely fantastical character that was hazily in the back of my mind for years and I couldn’t shake him. I tried to fit him into an apocalyptic mystery, but he didn’t really belong. He definitely belongs in the midst of swords and soothsayers.

What type of music did you listen to when you wrote this book?

I can’t listen to music while I’m actually writing, but I always have a playlist that I listen to in the off-time to give context to certain emotions I want to evoke in the story. When I drafted COLDNESS, I was listening to Norah Jones, Keith Urban, Colbie Callait, and Vanessa Carlton. But during the rewrite? Breaking Benjamin, Switchfoot, and Jewel. Oh, and of course, The Fray. Always The Fray. 😉

What are you working on now?

I’m deep in the sequel to COLDNESS, with a lot of revisions already done. It’s going well! This main character is so different from Trzl. Akkk, I want to tell you so much more, but I don’t want to spoil it, so all I will say is this: NINJA ASSASSINS. That is all.

Reading advice

Which authors inspire you now? Any books you would recommend?

Oh, my. For plots, Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien and Rafael Sabatini. For writing style, L.M. Montgomery all the way. But those are all old books, haha. I just love classics. In modern lit, I’m definitely inspired by Leigh Bardugo, Geraldine Page, and Michael Crichton. I would recommend anything by Crichton to anyone, any day of the week, but especially his book TIMELINE. If you haven’t read it, you just…you have to. Also, GONE WITH THE WIND (Margaret Mitchell). That book floors me over and over again.

On self-publishing

Why did you choose to self-publish Coldness of Marek and would you recommend self-publishing to would-be-published writers out there?

I chose self-publishing because I decided I’m not interested in having an agent represent me at this point in my career. I want to slowly get to know my audience, what they like about my writing, and what they’d like to see more of. I want Serengard to evolve somewhat organically, and I don’t have that option with an uber-competitive market and a readership that already has certain expectations. That said, I would love to have an agent represent some of my other projects. I believe I can write something that could sell on a large scale — someday — and I might want a major book deal and a wider audience reach.

I only recommend self-publishing if a would-be-published writer is ready to be very dedicated and open. It’s just like being a street musician. You’re basically sitting there with your coffee can, asking for coins for your art, because there’s no way the crowd is going to know who you are at first. You want people to hear you, and you have to be willing to work extra hard for that. Willing to put out cash you might not earn back (pay for editing, invest in a nice cover and promo), and spend endless hours interacting with readers (on twitter, facebook, email, etc). It can be very rewarding, including having the ability to plan and act out every step of the process, but I especially just love the down-to-earth-ness of this process.

Everybody has different reasons for publishing different ways. If you have good reasons for self-publishing and you know you can do it, I’d say go for it.

Thanks for an awesome interview, Rachel!

Thank you so much for having me, Eve!

COLDNESS OF MAREK is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble. You can order it signed by the author here. And please note the book is also available on Amazon in Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.