Off to Oz Giveaway Hop! (closed)

Hello gentle reader,

today I’m taking part in the Off to Oz Giveaway Hop, hosted by Angela @ Angela’s Anxious Life.

Off To Oz giveaway hop

I am giving away one of my favourite books: a copy of Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (first published in 2000 by HarperCollins).

Wicked

Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

In Baum’s land of Oz, animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. Green-skinned Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, is smart, prickly and misunderstood; she challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

Giveaway information:

The giveaway is open until Tuesday 17th September 2013 at midnight (BST time).

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email. If you follow my blog by email or WordPress, if you are a Twitter follower, if you like my page on Facebook, if you follow me on Pinterest or Tumblr, or if you tweet about the giveaway, this will grant you an extra entry. Mention it below.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

This giveaway is open Internationally, as long as The Book Depository ships to your country.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

I hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck and feel free to leave me a comment below!

Book of the Week – 19

Hello gentle reader,

I have been so busy researching and writing Lily In The Shadows I haven’t read a book in ages! This week I decided it was time to read for fun again, and I picked up Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (published on 19th March 2013 by Tor). I figured short stories would help me ease back into my reading habits…

Queen Victoria's Book of Spells

From Goodreads:

“Gaslamp Fantasy,” or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. A number of wonderful fantasy novels, including Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, owe their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers ranging from Jane Austen, the Brontës, and George Meredith to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and William Morris. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature inspired by this period.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves these works of neo-Victorian fiction, and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call Fantasy of Manners, all of which fit under the larger umbrella of Gaslamp Fantasy. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, mainstream, and young adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents such as Elizabeth Bear, James Blaylock, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Kushner, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire, Delia Sherman, and Catherynne M. Valente, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century invested (or cursed!) with magic.

The Line-up:
“The Fairy Enterprise” by Jeffrey Ford
“From the Catalogue of the Pavilion of the Uncanny and Marvelous, Scheduled for Premiere at the Great Exhibition (Before the Fire)” by Genevieve Valentine
“The Memory Book” by Maureen McHugh
“Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells” by Delia Sherman
“La Reine D’Enfer” by Kathe Koja
“Briar Rose” by Elizabeth Wein
“The Governess” by Elizabeth Bear
“Smithfield” by James P. Blaylock
“The Unwanted Women of Surrey” by Kaaron Warren
“Charged” by Leanna Renee Hieber
“Mr. Splitfoot” by Dale Bailey
“Phosphorus” by Veronica Schanoes
“We Without Us Were Shadows” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Vital Importance of the Superficial” by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer
“The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown” by Jane Yolen
“A Few Twigs He Left Behind” by Gregory Maguire
“Their Monstrous Minds” by Tanith Lee
“Estella Saves the Village” by Theodora Goss

What are you reading this week? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Building a bridge between literary and genre fiction

Hello gentle reader,

Last week at the London Book Fair, I attended a seminar on Genre Snobbery, which inspired me for this post (please note this is not a recap of said seminar).

Traditionally, literary fiction and genre fiction have been akin to two different planets. On the one hand, literary fiction is seen as character-driven, “serious” fiction with universal/thought-provoking themes and global recognition. On the other hand, genre fiction is supposed to be plot-driven, focused on narrow niches of readership and often snubbed by well-meaning critics.

Yet.

Is it impossible for a book to be BOTH literary and genre fiction? To bridge that gap between both readerships, both genres, both worlds?

Yes, and here are a couple of examples (genre classification is mine):

Wicked by Gregory Maguire (Literary Fantasy Retelling)

Wicked2

The Radleys by Mat Haig (Literary Vampire Book)

TheRadleys

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Literary Historical Fantasy)

ElizabethKostova-TheHistorian

How do these books bridge the gap?

– The cover: only one detail (a drop of blood, a green girl) indicates the book could belong to the fantasy genre. At a first, quick glance, a reader could think this is a literary book. The cover thus appeals to both readerships.

– The content: these books have vampires, witches and ladies in petticoats, yet both their characters and plot lines could belong in a literay book.

– The author: often, a book that bridges the gap between literary and genre fiction has been written by a writer who has published works in both genres.

– The classification: these books are hard to put in a box. Often, the marketing team in charge of promoting them has struggled to pinpoint which genre they belong to, which readership they would appeal to and which cover to give them.

So what do you think? Have you ever read a “genre book” that you felt was literary? What do you think about genres and classifications in general? Feel free to leave me a comment below and to join the discussion!

Liebster Blog Award!

Hello gentle reader,

Last week my blog was nominated twice (!) for the Liebster Award! Thanks to Craig Schmidt & Mara Valderran for passing the award on to me. This award is about spotlighting new blogs (with fewer than 200 followers) and answering 11 questions. Since I was nominated twice, I had to choose from a set of 22 questions.

So this award arrived just on time since my blog has almost reached 200 followers (more on this coming soon!). Here are the questions I have decided to answer:

What is your motto?

Don’t give up your dream.

Tell us three things about a favourite character you’ve created.

In my WIP The Last Queen, the main character Elian is shy, dutiful and self-conscious. Yet, somehow, he becomes a hero. Don’t ask him how, he wouldn’t know.

Which author influences you most as a writer, and in what way?

Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, because he tells fantasy stories that are accessible to any reader, at almost any age.

When you get writer’s block, doing this helps.

When I get the feeling that what I’m writing doesn’t work, I stop writing and I read instead. Sometimes it takes just one book, sometimes it takes six, but eventually it makes me want to write again.

What is something you regret?

I have been writing for 15 years, and it took me a very long time to listen to people who told me “why don’t you try to get published?” I wish I had listened to them earlier.

What was the first thing you remember writing?

The first novel I wrote AND finished was a story called The Chronicles of a Girl on a Swing in Paris. Well, the title pretty much says it all 😉

What goal are you most focused on right now?

Finishing edits to The Last Queen and querying it.

Who was your favourite actor or actress when you were growing up?

Kevin Costner. I still really like him. If one of his movies comes on TV, I’ll always each it.

What is your favourite television show that was cancelled before its time/too soon?

I’m assuming everyone already said Firefly… So I’ll say Blood Ties (2007): vampires and an awesome heroine. No idea why it got cancelled, it was excellent. I also was a bit disappointed that The Gates (2010) didn’t really get a chance to find its audience.

What is on your bucket list (things you want to do before you die)?

Read ALL THE BOOKS (almost). Visit the US West Coast, New Zealand, Italy and Greece.

If you were to write a “Thank you” note to someone you’ve never actually met, who would that be and why?

I would write it to Fantasy author Gregory Maguire (The Wicked Years series). His books were a huge inspiration because they were like nothing I had read before and it showed me that I could write weird stories too, as long as they were good.

Now I have to tag other new bloggers so they’ll answer those witty questions…  Here is my list:

Yesenia Vargas

Em Loves to read, Wants to write

Lauren Garafalo

SJ Maylee

« Clear Your Shelf » Giveaway Hop (over)

Welcome to my « Clear Your Shelf » Giveaway! It is hosted by Kathy @ I am a reader, not a writer and it runs from Friday, June 15th to Wednesday, June 20th 2012.

Here you can win ONE of the five following books:

Young Adult books:

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins (UK edition)

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins (UK edition)

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (UK edition)

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (US edition)

Adult fiction:

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (UK edition)

All books are paperbacks  in perfect condition.

Giveaway information:

  • The giveaway is open until Wednesday 20th June at midnight (BST time)
  • To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name, email and the book you wish to win. Please state if you’re a blog follower (by email or RSS feed) or a Twitter follower or if you like my page on Facebook, as this will grant you an extra entry.
  • Entrants must be  at least 13 years of age.
  • This giveaway is open Internationally.
  • The 5 winners will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
  • For official giveaway rules and guidelines please consult the I am a readre not a writer page.
  • Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

*Giveaway is now closed*

Thanks for entering my giveaway and good luck! Feel free to leave a comment…

Visit the other giveaways here.

Favorite books

What’s on my bookshelf ? 2

Today I want to mention the books that have made me want to become a writer. They are the books I wish I had written myself, the books I can read over and over again, the books I can’t imagine my bookshelf without.

Because they are all different, I can’t really decide a number one and a number ten, so I will mention them in the order I have read them, from the oldest to the most recently discovered.

1-    Remember Me, Christopher Pike

I read this book when I was maybe 12 or 13, and I still recommend it to people. Because when it comes to YA novels, it doesn’t really get better than this: a girl who wakes up and realizes she is a ghost. She embarks on a journey to find out who killed her – before he kills again. It’s gripping, Shari is a great character and all the themes that you want to find in a YA book are there.

Most people would probably call me a ghost. I am, after all, dead. But it wasn’t so long ago I was alive, you see. I was just 18. I had my whole life in front of me.”

2-    Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling

I am one of the lucky readers who grew up with Harry: I was thirteen when the first book came out and I eagerly waited for each book to be published so I could read it in the next two days, then re-read it a few time afterwards. As I got older, I came to really appreciate the amazing literary achievement that this series is.

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

3-    A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving

I clearly remember reading this book during my High School Senior Year because it had been recommended by my English teacher. And I can still tell you the story from start to finish. The plot is one of the best written I have read, with every single small part of the book being meaningful and important in the end. When I try to write today, I always ask myself: is this important in the grand scheme of things for my novel? If it’s not, I get rid of it.

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

4-    Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl

Another great plot. It is a 700-page novel about reading, writing and teaching literature, complete with visual aids and a final test. It is incredibly clever, funny and sad. Loving to read can save lives, Marisha Pessl proves it.

“It was as if Hannah had sprung a leak and her character, usually so meticulous and contained, was spilling all over the place.”

5-    Wicked, Gregory Maguire

Another book I keep recommending to everyone, although I know it’s not the easiest read. It’s just that I LOVE it. It tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West (yes, the one from The Wizard of Oz). It’s about women empowerment, evil and good, friendship and loss, communication and miscommunication, love and hate, books and magic. It’s a Fantasy novel about us. It’s an amazing book.

“Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”

6-    American Gods, Neil Gaiman

I have read every book by Neil Gaiman, but American Gods remains my favorite. It is a classic American novel written by an Englishman. It tackles serious themes like religion, violence, loss, freedom and love and it mixes them with humor, magic and oddities. It is a Fantasy book, so not everything in it is true, or is it?

“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.”

7-    Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I never laughed so hard reading a book. This tale of the apocalypse, by the two literary geniuses that Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett are, is impossible to describe. There are a witch, an angel, a demon, the son of Satan who gets unexplainably lost, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and a nun. All these people work towards/against the coming End Of Days, and it’s hilarious.

“Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.”

8-    A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin

Obviously, this Fantasy series is not yet finished, however its first book, entitled A Game of Thrones, made me rethink my way of writing Fantasy novels. As I read the following books, I grew tired of the main characters dying and of the thickening of the plot. But Daenerys Targaryen  remains one of those characters I wish I had thought of myself;

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

9-    Wither, Lauren DeStefano

Wither, which came out last year, was, on top of being an amazing read, a real eye-opener for me in terms of Young Adult writing. Yes, you can write for teenagers and still tackle very serious issues, write with a rich vocabulary and describe elaborate settings.

“And here we are: two small dying things, as the world ends around us like falling autumn leaves.”

10- Anna Dressed In Blood, Kendare Blake

Another read from last year, I bought Anna Dressed in Blood because I loved the title. And I wasn’t disappointed, as the writing is as good as the title. This Young Adult ghost story narrated by a foul-mouthed teenage boy is a great novel, on top of being remarkable for its non PG-rated writing.

“Anna, she’s like Bruce Lee, the Hulk and Neo from The Matrix all rolled in to one.”

So, what are your favorite books?