Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Posted on 20 September, 2012 by Faye - 4 Comments

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Author: Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: October 11th 2012
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC copy from Bloomsbury
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, TBD

Summary:

Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe.
Breathe.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina
has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn
should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea
wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?


Once there was Air
When I first heard about Breathe, I was instantly swept away by the magical cover. I mean, just take a look at it for a moment. Now read the synopsis… and the title… and how could you not want to read this? It already sounds so amazingly captivating, doesn’t it? These were my thoughts and so when I was asked if I wanted a review copy of this book, I simply had to say yes. Now, after having finished this book, I am so glad that this book landed in my lap. It is a story that really pulled me under and by the end of it, I was simply aching for more. For more concrete reasons as to why you should pick up this book, keep reading below.

But then it ran out
The very first thing to notice about this book is the world in which it is set in. The world as we know it is long gone, humanity destroyed all the trees for selfish reasons until there was not enough oxygen left in the world for people to live. Then came Breathe, a place where a select few were able to live with enough oxygen, it was a safe house against the disaster outside. Now, a few decades on, the lives of three young teenagers living in Breathe changes forever. I loved the concept of this book. I loved the descriptions of how it came to be, the stories of what happened before and what happened after. I found it so creative the way Breathe was separated into three different zones, zone 1 for the rich – or the premiums – and zone 3 for the poor – the auxillaries. Zone 2 was the middle ground were everyone worked or went to school. It was astonishing to read about and was incredible easy to imagine in your mind.

The wastelands were also really well described. I could imagine the broken down villages, the drifters and everything else that happened. It was so amazing and kept me captivated. But really, for me, the best location in this book was The Grove. I won’t say too much about it for fear of spoiling it but this was a magnificent location with such amazing imagery surrounding it. I loved reading it and was just awed at Sarah Crossan’s imagination. I have not read any other novels by Sarah but if this is what her world-building is like across them all, I will happily read more.

so only a few survived
There are three main characters in this story; Alina, Quinn and Bea. Straight away I found myself struggling to like Alina. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her, as such, it was simply that I didn’t know if I did like her. I was unsure of her character. Unfortunately this feeling of uncertainty didn’t leave throughout the novel. I could see the journey she took as a character and appreciated it but I think I need to see more of her to know exactly how much I like or dislike her. Bea, on the other hand, was on character that I instantly fell in love with. She was so strong yet she wasn’t sure of herself. She was smart but didn’t want to outshine Quinn. She had so much potential in her and her emotions were just so real and amazing and I think I just managed to connect with her so much. For me, Bea simply made the story worth reading.

Quinn was a character that I started out unsure of. I couldn’t quite work out if I liked him because he seemed shallow and an idiot – not in terms of book smarts – and just seemed to fly through life without a care in the world. But then somewhere in the book I started to like him. I’m not even sure I could pinpoint an exact moment when it happened but I just suddenly realised that I cared about what happened to him, I wanted him to succeed and show the world what he was truly made of. He was so strong and ready to stand up for what he believed him and I just admired that quality in him. I’m certainly going to enjoy reading more about him and about Bea too.

and they wanted to live
The writing style of this book was a bit baffling to begin with. Written in first person POV, it took a while to get used to fact that it switches between Alina, Bea and Quinn. However, once I was about six chapters in, I was used to it and barely even gave it a second thought. The book was also split into different parts and I really liked this about it. Different plot points happened within each part to set off the epic conclusion and I just feel that it worked really well. I also liked that it was written in first person because sometimes it can feel unnecessary but I think that Sarah Crossan has really managed to get this narrative style to work for this book.

While there was one over-arching plot to this story, it was, without a doubt, a book with many underlying layers. Throughout the book it brought about themes of friendship, and how strong and powerful friends can be, it covered issues surrounding family in really interesting ways that really grabbed at me. I really loved some of the families that were in the book. It also touched upon the idea of being strong enough to fight but also the knowledge of knowing when it is the right time to fight and how the best way to fight is. Do you just lie down and let them take away everything you love or do you take a stand and make sure that you don’t go down without a fight? But really, for me, the best sub-plot of this novel was the romance aspect. I’m extremely picky when it comes to romance but what was shown in this novel was raw, fresh and emotional and it just felt so real and great and I just loved it. It wasn’t fast and it happened just the right way.

not to lie down and die
All in all this was a compelling story that I truly struggled to put down. It had all the elements of a brilliant dystopian novel and it just really managed to keep me interested and hooked. The characters were all so complete and complicated and real that it was often difficult to remember that you were just reading a fiction novel. This book ends with such a climax as well, so many things come together throughout the book and when it finally finishes, the reader is left with some gaping holes and many thousands of questions. It was an interesting, cliff-hanger-like ending that has made me aching to get my hands on the next instalment. This novel is about finding yourself and showing the world who you are.

** I received this copy in return for an honest review **

Four Stars
four out of five hearts

Faye

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Posted on 20 September, 2012 by Faye - 4 Comments


NaNoWriMo 2012 – Are You In?

Posted on 19 September, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments


* this is obviously from last year, but you get the gist!*

Hey Guys!

So, last year I took the plunge and did NaNoWriMo for the very first time! I did it first in August for their Camp NaNoWriMo and then again in November for the proper one. I plan on doing it again this year in November but I found the best way for me to succeed during this month was through the motivation of fellow nanowrimo participants.

Where I was based at university I had a great moral support system and it really helped. I have looked but I don’t think there’s anything quite like it here (that’s what happens when you move from a city to a town!), but I really want to succeed again. But then I thought, what am I doing? I know a BUNCH of BRILLIANT people, my followers and fellow writers!

Therefore I am calling out to YOU.
I think it would be awesome if a group of us hardcore bloggers planning to dive into the NanoWrimo ocean got together and helped support each other. Throughout the month we could have weekly “meets” to discuss our ideas and progress and to cheer each other on and we could also have word wars or timed goals.

All of it to help us to reach, or surpass our goal.

It still has a lot of planning on my part to be done – there may be some blog posts to think about, maybe a goodreads group to create, etc – but, if you’re interested in this, let me know! I’m adding a linky to the end of this post so if you definitely want to join, sign up! That way I can e-mail you with all the new details and updates too.

Let’s make this year great!

*not sure what nanowrimo is? Check it out here *

Posted on 19 September, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments


Fire City by Bali Rai

Posted on 18 September, 2012 by Faye - 7 Comments

Author: Bali Rai
Publisher: Corgi – Random House Imprint
Published: August 30th 2012
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC from publishers
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, TBD

Summary:

Twenty-five years ago the world changed forever. A great war, which had raged for three years ended, and the reign of the Demons began…
Within the crumbling walls of Fire City, fifteen-year-old Martha is a member of the resistance, a small band of humans fighting for freedom in a lawless and horrifying new world. Amidst the chaos of battle arrives Jonah, a handsome stranger with a thirst for revenge and a power to destroy the Demon rulers.
As Martha and Jonah’s lives collide, the future of the resistance is altered forever. The battle for humankind will now begin. An epic story of catastrophe, survival and the power of humanity.
THE HUNGER GAMES meets TERMINATOR with Demons, by multi-award winning author Bali Rai.

The Demons Arrive
As soon as I heard about Fire City, I was instantly intrigued and simply had to get my hands on a copy. I am so glad that this intrigued ended up with me reading a great book that I would easily recommend to others. It was the first Bali Rai book that I have ever read so that fact that it is his first dystopian did not phase me. It was so easy to read and the style made me know why so many others have loved his other books. He is now an author whose books I will be going out to look for and read because I want to read more of his style. It was a great book, and this is the reasons why I felt this way.

The World Changes
Whenever a writer sets about to start a novel in the dystopian genre, they have to acknowledge that a large proportion of their book has to be dedicated to world building. It would be impossible to simply send the reader off into this unknown place without any true bearings. This can often be the part of writing that many authors struggle with because finding the balance to create the perfect description is often incredibly difficult but somehow Bali Rai has managed it. I loved his way of describing the world, the place they were staying in and everything else that was going on around it. It was never too much but it wasn’t given all at once either. The reader was always given just enough information to get them through a particular chapter.

But really it was the very first chapter that caught my attention. Written in the first person, you were pulled straight into the action and you could just imagine the entire chaos around you. At each point the necessary details were given for the reader to imagine what was happening without being given the full picture. And then he turned up and suddenly our narrator isn’t omnipotent. It was such a lovely moment and really made me want to read on. It is the perfect example of everything this book has to offer.

The People Stand
Really, all I want to do here is tell you about every single character that was mentioned in this novel but I know that if I did that we’d be here for an incredibly long time. While the ‘cast’ is long, and it can take a while to get a head around who is who to begin with, I found myself liking – or disliking as the case came to be – almost everyone who was mentioned. Bali has managed to make the characters feel more like real people then just plot points. The actions of the characters, which in turn made ripple effects in the plot, didn’t feel forced but felt like actions of what someone in that situation would do. It was great to read and made it really enjoyable and emotional throughout the book.

My favourite character was Jonah. With his mysteriousness at the beginning of the book, to his reveal and his past and just everything else, I found myself really enjoying his presence. He had ulterior motive but he was also passionate and protective and he just cared about this people. He tried not to let his emotions get the better of him but sometimes he couldn’t help it. I also really liked the Mace. A giant, called so due to his overbearing size but you really shouldn’t let that fool you because underneath it all he’s an absolute sweetheart of a character with a heart of gold and I just want to give him a great big bear hug a lot of the time! Oscar and Tyrell were also golden characters who I was really interested in reading and I really hope to see more of them in the next book!

Chaos Overcomes Them
Twisting and turning at so many different points, there was barely a moment in this book that was slow. There was always something going on and with so many characters to deal with, you can understand why. The plot really kept me entertained and intrigued with a lot of curious holes that needed to be uncovered. Unfortunately the book did leave a lot of questions when it finished but this has just left me wanting to read the second one straight away! I really enjoyed the pace of the book and while there wasn’t a lot of focus on it, you could see that this book has a lot to see about friendships in the face of adversary and it looks like a rather interesting romantic plot could come into play very soon.

It would be impossible to finish this review without noting the style of the book. In fact, the style of it is so difficult to actually describe in a review. It starts out as a first person book, jumping from one POV to another but then it switches to third person for a bulk of the book, going back to first person every now and again. At first this style was difficult to get on board with but once I got a handle on it, it was one that I actually really enjoyed. Naturally I’m a bit of an attention jumper, easily distracted and easily bored but with this writing style, I was able to appreciate the book that much more. However, I can definitely tell that this would not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is a style of writing that I am really interested in seeing more of and so really, I cannot wait to read more of Bali’s books to see if he does the same across his works.

Will It End?
All in all, this book kept me entertained. I fell in love with the characters and the plot and the writing style and I just need to know what happens next. There were some great emotions spread throughout the book that had me gasping, laughing and crying and I was just fully invested in it. Fire City tells the tale of a city under corrupt ruling and how people try to find their voice and their strength to fight back. It is also the tale of a community of people all fighting towards the same goal, having each others’ backs and doing everything they can. It is a brilliant novel that I would easily read again and again. I know there is probably so much more to say but I don’t want to go on for too long. All I can say is that I hope you go out and get a hold of this book to try it for yourself.

** I received this copy in return for an honest review **

five stars 
five out of five hearts

Faye

Posted on 18 September, 2012 by Faye - 7 Comments


Fresh Start September – Guest Post by Brodie of Eleusinian Mysteries

Posted on 17 September, 2012 by Faye - 6 Comments

freshstartlogov2

Hey Guys!
Today on Fresh Start September we have the wonderful Brodie of Eleusinian Mysteries. She has written a brilliant guest post for all of you about what she does and doesn’t like about covers. What appeals to her and makes her eventually pick up a book from the shelves.
Hope you enjoy it!


I admit it: I DO judge a book by it’s cover. I screw my nose up at unprofessional covers with poor photography, text, colouring, etc. If I’m casually browsing shelves online or offline, the books I’ll click on or pick up are those with a cover that is well put together. There’s likely hundreds of amazing books I’ve missed out on because the cover has never interested me enough to check it out. Which is unfair to debut authors, because if I love a seasoned author, but hate their newest books cover, I’ll still be running to my nearest bookstore because of their name alone (why hello there, The Casual Vacancy…). Most debut authors sadly don’t have the name benefit.
So, what do I look for in a debut cover?

Professional photography is a must; it’s more than just sticking a girl with a pretty dress on a cover. You could have the prettiest dress ever, but an awful quality shot will ruin the whole thing for me. When a designer can pull all elements of a cover together and make it look EFFORTLESS, so that my attention is not drawn to each aspect that went into building it, then ding ding ding, I’ve found a winner!


Some of my favourites? I’M GLAD YOU ASKED.

Yes, the pretty dress trend. But it’s not the dress that make these breed of covers for me. It’s the glass ball the girl is trapped in, the gorgeous garden with a sinister edge to it, and the smokey tendrils that are drawing the girl back… somewhere.

FIERCE GIRLS. Each with a weapon, each looking confident, capable and sexy. The badassery of these type of covers appeal to me the most; they promise a strong heroine on an epic journey, and that’s my favourite flavour of story.

Covers that are a little bit unique definitely stand out to me more. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres is an excellent example (okay, not a debut, but the type of cover I’d want in a debut). It promises a dark, gothic, different world and like nothing we’ve read before. I love how with Mila 2.0, you’re not entirely sure if she’s coming apart or being put together. It makes me desperate to learn more about her.

COLOURS. That doesn’t mean splash every colour of the rainbow on a cover. The Nightmare Affair is just purple, black and white, but the use of colour is what makes it so special. And of course, the gorgeous silhouettes and illustrations. I love the vibe each of these give and they’re just so darn PRETTY.

I love covers that tell me something. The fiery symbol on Divergent obviously has significant meaning to the two people overlooking the city and it makes me want to learn WHAT it is. Forgotten is compelling in a less bold way; why is the girl laying alone (forgotten?) in a field of poppies? And Under the Never Sky teases the aether sky with the heroine trekking… well, under it. I love it!

____________

Those are just a few debut covers that I’ve loved, that have made me want to pick up the book regardless of what it’s about. Surveying them all together, I do notice I have a tendency to pick those with models on the cover… maybe I just feel bonded with my fellow humans? Or I like to have an image or the protagonist before venturing into a story? Sure, the hair colour might not always be right, or their dress sense, but many times the posture, the confidence, the fierce or broody gaze give give an idea for the tone of the story. So, the most important thing? THEY LOOK PROFESSIONAL! Well put together will almost certainly have me intrigued enough to flip it over and read the summary!


So there we have it! What a lovely post! What about you? How do you decide which books to read? Are there any covers that you love?
I want to take this moment to thank Brodie for writing this guest post for me and for allowing me to host her for this event!
Don’t forget you can actually vote for your FAVOURITE covers out of the books we’re showcasing in this event by clicking here.


As a bonus part of the event we are giving everyone the chance to win some prizes donated by our wonderful participants and ourselves! These include:

  • 2 winners of Strange Chemistry ARC packs, each pack including a copy of Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings, The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke AND Katya’s World by Jonathan L Howard (courtesy of Strange Chemistry)
  • 1 winner of an eBook of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris (courtesy of Entangled Publishing)
  • 1 winner will receive a paperback copy of Speechless by Hannah Harrington – US/CAN only
  • 1 winner of a hardover copy of 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues (courtesy of the author)-US only Enter here
  • 3 winners of a book of your choice from any that has been featured in Fresh Start September (each courtesy of the hosts)

The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL and will run until the end of the event (30 September). Remember to follow the Twitter and Facebook pages of the prizes you want to win, for example, to be eligible to win the Strange Chemistry Prize, you must follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted on 17 September, 2012 by Faye - 6 Comments


Blogspiration #19; Brains Are Amazing

Posted on 16 September, 2012 by Faye - 8 Comments

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. This meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the authors choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.
 

This week I have seen so many little bits of inspiration about that choosing one, as usual, was really difficult but I have finally decided on one that I actually found a week ago. It’s a quote from Starters by Lissa Price. I love it and I hope that you do too!

blogspiration callie

I read this quote and instantly had to grab a piece of paper to note down the page – which is 39, if anyone wants to know – because I just loved it so much. It’s not something I’ve really thought about before and yet it is so true. Our brains are unique to us. But we would never complain about what it looks like because we don’t physically see it.

We complain about other things to do with the brain, but that would be a completely new topic altogether.

Where I’m going with this is how amazing our brains are and how we should cherish the brain that we were born with. It looks the same now as it did when we were born; except maybe it’s bigger because we’ve gotten bigger but I’m no scientist so what do I know? But it functions in exactly the same way. And how great is that? Our brain controls everything we do.

Need to pee? That’s your brain telling you. Hungry? Your brain is allowing you to understand that. Reading? Writing? Listening? Your brain is in control of it all. It is the one part of your entire body that you should never worry about because even if you’re not as smart as the person near you, if you don’t retain information as well as the next person, your brain is all yours. It works. And it is a complete and utter inspiration, isn’t it?

This post seems to have rambled a lot, but I hope that what you take from this is that the brain is a magnificent work of art that you should never take for granted.

It is inspiring.

Faye

Posted on 16 September, 2012 by Faye - 8 Comments


One Year Ago…. (+ winners!)

Posted on 15 September, 2012 by Faye - 18 Comments

blogoversary

I have been staring at a blank document for a long time, and hell, this is a regular occurrence for me lately, but today it is not because I cannot think of the best way to describe how I feel about a book, it’s finding a way to best describe my very first year blogging.

I could easily start with the basics, how I started my blog to cover both books and films and how, as of late, it has slowly turned into more books than films. I could talk again about why I started the blog in the first place but the problem I have with these things is that I’ve said them all before. I know that finding fresh content for a blog is a continuous battle, but who knew it would be so hard to talk about my own blog in a new way!

I guess, to start this post and to get me typing away – more than I’ already have – I will start by announcing the winners of my giveaway!
I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated. I am sorry that I can’t send everyone a gift – maybe one day? lol. – but I do want you all to know how grateful I am to you.
This was the biggest giveaway – prize wise and entry wise – I have ever held and I just think it was a success. Hopefully the winners agree!

Gaby Paniagua
Lynn Kho
Justine H
Zemira

CONGRATULATIONS!!
You have all won a book of your choice from the list! An e-mail will be/has already arrived. You have 72 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Now I am sure you have gotten to here and are just wondering why I haven’t yet mentioned my super, awesome, cool new banner and layout, right?
I’m sure you are!

For the past year I have used the same skin, banner, layout, etc, and I decided that it was finally time to change! I know it’s not a major change and it may have a few bits and bobs changing in the upcoming weeks but aside from that, I’m happy with it all!

It is also only fair that I send out a massive thank you to Daphne from Winged Reviews who created the lovely and wonderful banner I have at the top there! I was so amazed when she showed me it. I love it so much and just couldn’t be more thankful to her!

What do you think about the new layout? Any thoughts? Changes?


In many ways, blogging has changed my life. A year ago, I was oblivious to the power of owning a blog. I was – supposedly happy – living my life and just getting on with my day-to-day life without a ‘care’ in the world. In fact, it would have been four years since I had really read more than one book in three months. And you know, I would never want to go to that oblivious state again.
I love my blog. I love blogging. I love reading.

This blog has taught me so many things. Not just about blogging but about e-mailing people professionally, about law-suits, copyright laws, and really the art of being really, really well organised and scheduled. It hasn’t been easy. There have been a few hiccups and bumps along the way but I still wouldn’t have it any other way. This is my life now and I am certain that it won’t be changing any time soon.

My sister actually said to me the other day, “I swear you’re blog is more of a job to you now, it seems like you don’t get enjoyment from the books you read.”
Maybe she’s right in some ways but she’s also wrong in many others. I would be over the moon if I could blog for a living – my mum actually found a job advert that was for blogging but since there was no detail of what I’d be blogging about, I gave it a miss.
But I still get enjoyment from reading.
Sure, sometimes I get stressed because life gets in the way and I realised I haven’t read X book in time for Y tour and I’ve forgotten to send an e-mail to B author about J idea but this is barely a blip on the radar. A lot of time I get stressed when reading because people are distracting me when I’m reading a great book – that just happens to be, by coincidence, a review book.

So, I guess, what I’m trying to say is that I have truly enjoyed and appreciated this past year and I am certain that I will have many more years of blogging ahead of me!


There are a thousand other things I could write in here. I could tell you all about how well I think Behind the Blog is going, I could point you into the direction of my favourite reviews that I wrote over the year, I could show you my welcome post from when I started but I’m not sure I really want to do any of that. But then, this could be because it’s 11.20pm and I am immensely exhausted and am looking over at my bed with complete and utter desire. But really it’s because it would be too difficult to think about all those things and this post would probably wind up too long for you to read and you’ll groan and moan at me and then I may lose all of my followers. *sadface*

Instead, I’m going to leave you all with a promise to do similar posts at some point in the near future which do these things. And end this post by just saying another thank you for following me and I hope that I manage to bring you content in the next year that will make you want to stick around some more!

If there is anything you wish to see more of on the blog, or anything, let me know! I’m always open to your suggestions, thoughts and opinions! (Unless they’re in anyway derogatory in which case keep them to yourself because I don’t appreciate cyber bullying.)

YOU GUYS ARE SO AWESOME!

Faye

Posted on 15 September, 2012 by Faye - 18 Comments


Fresh Start September – Jay Kristoff Interview!

Posted on 15 September, 2012 by Faye - 2 Comments

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Hey Guys!
I really hope you’ve been enjoying Fresh Start September so far! Don’t forget, if you want to go back and look at other posts, just click the graphic to the right *points* and it’ll take you to all the links!
Today I am bringing you a lovely interview with the awesome, spectacular and hilarious Jay Kristoff whose debut novel Stormdancer has been released in Australia and in the UK, and will shortly be released in the US.
Hope you enjoy his interview!


Published
13th September (UK)
18th September (US)

Publisher
Tor UK
Thomas Dunne Books

Pages
352 (HB – UK)
336 (HB – US)

Buy the book: Amazon UK, Amazon US, TBD, B&N

Add this book to your TBR list on Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.


How amazing does that sound? I hope you’re nodding your head and saying aloud; pretty damn amazing! If you are, check out this awesome interview with the author of this swell book!


What did you do when you first got the call to say that Stormdancer had been picked up by a publisher?
It was a little drawn out, because Stormdancer sold at auction. I got told we had an offer before Christmas 2011, and that was awesome – I got drunk on Christmas day for the first time in my life (hey, my Auntie bought me a bottle of bourbon, gimme a break) But very soon we had two other houses bidding on the book, so it all became very surreal very quickly. I’d wake up each morning and there would be a new email from my agent with a new offer (which was a really nice way to wake up every day). The whole auction took about a month to complete – book auctions aren’t these big swanky affairs like I imagined them to be, they’re basically just a bunch of emails flying back and forth.
On the day we actually decided which house we were going with, I played air guitar for about ten minutes (furious solo), called my folks and said “guess what?”, and then got stonkingly drunk.
And I know I sound like a lush now, but it’s all coincidence, I assure you.

Were there any disagreements between you and your editor while you were editing or did you both agree on the things that needed to be changed?
A couple of minor ones, but nothing earth shattering. My editors were great – working through the book with Pete (Thomas Dunne/SMP) and Julie (Tor UK) was an amazing experience – they’re both incredibly sharp and bring slightly different sensibilities to the table. It really felt like a collaborative experience. I’m just about to start working on book 2 with them – can’t wait.

Is Yukiko based on anyone you know?
She’s probably an amalgam of a bunch of the awesome, strong women I’ve known in my life. But nobody definitive – I couldn’t point to anyone and say “you’re Yuki”. But I can definitely see a bit of myself in Buruu, her griffin.

Could you tell us anything about the world in which Stormdancer is set? Where did the inspiration for it come from?
Stormdancer’s setting is a nation teetering on the edge of ruin, inspired by the Japanese samurai age. Shima is an imperium built on the backs of fantastical technologies – sky-ships and motor-rickshaw and thunder-rail, defended by noble Iron Samurai in lumbering suits of power armor. But Shima is being slowly consumed by the very technologies that once made it great. Fields of blood lotus flowers are cultivated for the fuel that drives their machines, but that same flower is killing the earth and everything on it. The magical beasts of legend are dead or gone, the air is choked with toxins, and a blast-furnace sunburns in a blood-red sky.
It’s not such a nice place.
The inspiration for it is all around us. The things we’re doing to this planet we live on and the creatures we share it with. And I don’t want to sound like some rabid environmentalist on a soapbox – Stormdancer is first and foremost an adventure story and a telepathic girl and her best friend, who just happens to be a two-ton griffin. But the book does kinda hold up a dirty mirror to our own planet and what we’re doing to it.

Do you collect anything? If so, what is it?
I’m a collectible card game nerd. I’m playing A Game of Thrones at the moment. My living room is littered with the damn things. My wife hates them :)

In life there are people who love exercise and those who detest it, would you call yourself a sporty person or do you prefer to sit in front of a computer writing?
I’ve always been terrible at sports. I hate exercise. Hate it with the fury of a thousand suns. It bores the crap out of me. But I force myself to work out every night, because sitting in front of a computer writing all day and night is a good way to get unhealthy.
The cool thing is I’ve got a dog who I have to walk or else he loses his tiny mind. So I just take some weights with me while I walk and dutifully lift them up and down as he runs around whizzing on things.
We must look pretty odd, now that I think about it…


I would like to take a moment to thank Jay Kristoff for answering all of our questions and for giving me the chance to host him for this event. We hope you enjoyed getting to know this author a little better – I know I have!


As a bonus part of the event we are giving everyone the chance to win some prizes donated by our wonderful participants and ourselves! These include:

  • 2 winners of Strange Chemistry ARC packs, each pack including a copy of Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings, The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke AND Katya’s World by Jonathan L Howard (courtesy of Strange Chemistry)
  • 1 winner of an eBook of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris (courtesy of Entangled Publishing)
  • 1 winner will receive a paperback copy of Speechless by Hannah Harrington – US/CAN only
  • 1 winner of a hardover copy of 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues (courtesy of the author)-US only Enter here
  • 3 winners of a book of your choice from any that has been featured in Fresh Start September (each courtesy of the hosts)

The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL and will run until the end of the event (30 September). Remember to follow the Twitter and Facebook pages of the prizes you want to win, for example, to be eligible to win the Strange Chemistry Prize, you must follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted on 15 September, 2012 by Faye - 2 Comments


Behind the Blog #18; International Literacy Day

Posted on 13 September, 2012 by Faye - 1 Comment

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Behind the Blog is a meme to help bloggers connect their life and interests to the content showcased on their blog. The co-hosts, Faye, Kathe, and Melissa will provide a different topic, idea, or question every week that bloggers can relate to themselves and the books, films, or other media they find interesting!

September 8th was International Literacy Day. Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write by age 15. According to the CIA World Factbook currently 83.7 percent of the world population is literate. While that is a significant portion of the world population, it unfortunately doesn’t include everyone. Learning to read and write is an important skill that impacts a person’s entire life. How different do you think your life would be if you weren’t able to read and write? Many libraries offer literacy programs. Have you every volunteered to help at one? In relation to books: Have you ever read any books where the main character struggles with illiteracy?


Reading and writing are such a large part of my life that the idea of thinking how different my life would be if I couldn’t is incredibly difficult and saddening to me. Reading isn’t just a past-time for me, it isn’t just something I do because I can. It is something I do because I love, it is something that brings me joy, sadness, anger, elation and hope. Reading, to me, is life. This isn’t the case for every literate person in the world; in fact I live with two sisters who read simply because they can and need to.

With the world rapidly turning to the internet, the ability to read is quickly becoming more crucial then it ever has been before. It truly saddens me to think that there are people out there who are in their adult years who cannot read or write but I also fully believe that there is also nothing wrong with them. Learning to read and write is often seen as a privilege, this is what is wrong. It should be a necessity that everyone who is able should have the ability to learn how to read and write. This is where the world needs to go, we need to adapt to the new times and help those in need.

I cannot say that I am an expect on this subject. I’ve, regrettably, never done any research but when I heard about International Literacy Day, I was overjoyed and glad that there are people out there willing to help. So many people are willing to take it for granted that they can read. If you don’t have the ability you may never be able to take the bus, to drive a car, to go food shopping to buy new items, to fill out forms, to use mobile phones, or laptops. So much of what we do in our day-to-day lives require us to read and this ability is often taken for granted, with many barely thinking about not being able to do so. This needs to change. More people need to understand that some people see the world differently and may just need our help.

Of course, it’s not just about reading but writing as well. Another ability that we all use in our day-to-day lives without even noting how much. Texting? E-mailing? Signing for mail? Writing shopping lists? Some people aren’t able to do any of these things because they simply can not write. They don’t know how to pick up a pen to form words, they don’t know how to type or what to type and they often go by without being noticed. Others don’t understand or may mock them, or feel that they are just being lazy if they ask someone else to read something for them. For example, a twenty-three year old asks you to read the menu in a restaurant to them so that they can choose what they want. The obnoxious answer (and snotty one) is to simply assume they’re being rude and comment ‘Can’t you read?’. Chances are, they probably can’t because it’s not an ability everyone has.

Personally I feel the illiterate need more coverage and awareness. Too many people are in the dark about the real statistics and I think that days like International Literary Day is a great way to do this. In my local library on the day we had the local radio station come in and do a story-time with the children to support it and I was so glad to be able to witness it. And throughout this summer I volunteered for the Summer Reading Challenge where 4-11 year olds were challenged to read six library books over the summer and being able to encourage young children to read was the most amazing experience and the knowledge that there are some children who will never take part because they simply can’t read is devastating to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I can not imagine my life without the ability to write and read and I hope that in a few years time, that percentage will have gone up a large proportion so that even more people are given the chance and the opportunity to live life with these abilities.


But now that you’ve got to here, why don’t you join us!
Behind the Blog is a new meme for bloggers themselves. To find out more, check out the introduction on my blog or that on Kathe’s.
Are you joining us? Here are our rules:

  • The hosts’ Behind the Blog posts go live at midnight on Friday, GMT + 0:00. Feel free to post before that and then just link up on Friday!
  • Feel free to make use of the button shown above or, if it clashes with your blog colors, e-mail us or make your own.
  • Read, write, and connect! The Linky is there for you. Make use of it!
  • Last but not the least, have fun!

Posted on 13 September, 2012 by Faye - 1 Comment


Hereafter by Terri Bruce (Review & Guest Post)

Posted on 12 September, 2012 by Faye - 1 Comment

Hey Guys!
So today I am introducing you to the wonderful Terri Bruce, author of Hereafter.
First up we have a lovely guest post written by her about the title of the book and then a review of the book.
Hope you enjoy!

In Search of a Title
Terri Bruce

I want to thank Faye for having me stop by today – I love Faye’s blog, plus Faye was one of the first people to ever host me as an author (I did a guest post on writing sequels for her back in April) AND she lives in England, all of which makes her one of my favorite people in the world.

So today I wanted to talk a little about titles—specifically, the trouble I had coming up with a title for Hereafter. Now, there are some very light spoilers in this post and some tantalizing teasers of what to expect from future books in the series—so if you don’t like that sort of thing, best look away now. J

From the beginning, the concept for the Hereafter series was the story of a woman making her way through the afterlife. One of the most common beliefs I came across in my research was this idea that the afterlife contains different levels or realms. Most thought the dead would have to travel through many different levels—facing difficult challenges in each—to reach their final destination. This journey was meant to test the soul’s worthiness to enter paradise. In some cases, it was more a belief in different intensities of punishment or reward—such as the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno. In these cases, a soul was simply sent to the appropriate level, based on how good or how bad they had been in life.

For Hereafter I used this idea of traveling through multiple realms—each with a distinct feel and purpose—and facing in each a specific challenge to prove one’s worthiness to move on. This “physical” journey would reflect the person’s increasing enlightenment. Hereafter was always envisioned as a series in which the stories would hook together like the cars of a train—each book picks up directly where the previous one left off. However, I’m trying to be very careful to make each book stand alone with a finite beginning, middle, and end. I hate books that end on a cliffhanger—to me that’s a book that isn’t complete—if the story doesn’t end there, then neither should the book. So, if I do my job correctly, you should be able to stop reading the series at any point and still have a good sense of completion and ending.

I modeled the different levels of the afterlife, in part, on Aztec beliefs. In addition, the series was originally planned as nine books, and the Aztecs believed that there were nine levels to the underworld so I originally titled the series: On the Shores of Mictlan—Mictlan being the name of the Aztec afterlife. The first book in the series was called Across the Pontine. So the full title would have been On the Shores of Mictlan, Book 1: Across the Pontine.

No one, and I mean no one (including me), liked this title. My sister, who is a librarian and therefore very smart, very well read, and has a large vocabulary, said “What the hell is Mictlan?” J In addition, very few people know that a pontine is a bridge and, more specifically, often used to refer to a spiritual bridge. Hence, the title was meant to reflect a spiritual journey through the afterlife, plus pick up the bridge/tunnel theme frequently referenced in the book. I did send a few query letters with that title, but very quickly realized that it was going to kill my chances of finding an agent or publisher.

But what to call it instead? Hereafter isn’t really about the afterlife. It’s about Irene and her struggle to figure out who she is, what she wants from life, and what’s important. After.Life would have been a GREAT title, but it was already taken. After a bit of thought, I settled on Life 2.0, with the idea that each book would increment the title—Life 3.0, Life 4.0, etc. Feedback on this title was that it made the book sound like it was about robots, cyborgs, or cyber-implants—some kind of techno-thriller or dystopian book about sentient computers.

Back to the drawing board. Finally, impatient to continue querying and drawing a blank, I decided to just call it Hereafter. It wasn’t very original or evocative, but it was just meant to be a working title. After all, the publisher would most likely change it, so why waste time racking my brain? So I returned to querying, using that as the title. Meanwhile, I started working on the second book of the series, and somewhere along the line the idea came to me that Hereafter was the perfect title for Book 1 because Irene is here (on earth) after she dies, compared Book 2, where she has crossed over to the other side—in essence, she was now there (as compared to here). Book 2 then became Thereafter. Suddenly, I realized that every title in the series would contain the word “after” and the title would describe the afterlife realm through which Irene was traveling in that book: Hereafter, Thereafter, Whereafter, When After, Better After, Ever After (there are some advocating for “Forever After” for the last book, and I’m starting to warm up to it).

Now I loved my title and in my head, the series became the “Afterlife Series.” However, around this time, Clint Eastwood’s movie, “Hereafter” came out. Then Tara Hudson’s book of the same title came out. Now I was sad again—the title was taken and the publisher would definitely want to change it.

Finally, I sold Hereafter to Eternal Press and, to my surprise, they didn’t want to change the title. We talked about it and in the end they liked the naming scheme for the series and since Tara Hudson was writing for the Young Adult market and I was writing for adults, keeping the title wouldn’t cause any confusion.

And there you have it. Some of the behind the scenes negotiations that took place to finally arrive at my book’s title, and a little glimpse of what to expect from future books in the series. So, what do you think—would you have preferred it to be called Mictlan or Life 2.0?


Author: Terri Bruce
Publisher: Eternal Press
Published: August 1st
Pages: 296
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC copy from Author
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, TBD

Summary:

Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn’t plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex…well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.
This sounds suspiciously like hell to Irene, so she prepares to strike out for the Great Beyond. The only problem is that, while this side has exorcism, ghost repellents, and soul devouring demons, the other side has three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment. If only there was a third option…

in the beginning
Sometimes, when I’m reading and reviewing a book, I often kick myself for never introducing half ratings on the blog. Personally, I can’t stand them. It’s one of those things that just really irks me but there are a few times when I find myself wondering why this is. While reading Hereafter, I have had this very feeling. I almost want to scrap my rating system just to accommodate this book; and some others, so that it fits better. I really enjoyed this book but it also had its few flaws for me. It should be deserving of three and a half hearts, in my opinion, but because I don’t work in that framework, I am rating it three hearts. But I feel it was important to let you all know that it is closer to four hearts than it is to two hearts!

it’s all a mystery
One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the concept. If you awoke one day to find out that you were dead but still wandering on earth, how would you deal with the things you come across? I loved how well this is executed throughout the novel and it is so clear that Terri has done a lot of hard research to make this book what it was. I cannot say with any accuracy whether the informational facts used within the book were true or not but they certainly fit well within the book and it was nice to read them all. I liked how it all fit together eventually, how things occurred, and how they mixed together.

I think this book may have been a little better if we were given more than just the POV of Irene but this may also be due to the fact I’ve reading a lot of dual POV books lately but I felt that some great characters were being missed and it sometimes failed to give a full scope of what was going on. Fortunately, this was only few and far between, didn’t make me want to stop reading and is definitely more of a “me” issue then a novel issue.

until the pieces fit
It took me a really long time to get my head around Irene. I often found her childish and just annoying to read. Her character and the depth of it took a long time to fully come to surface. When it did I found myself clicking with her but before then it was just a bit of a struggle. Obviously her situation wasn’t great but I honestly just felt like hitting her on the upside of the head and telling her to stop being such a fool. This did make it a challenge to read at times but it was nothing major and it was still easy to carry on reading – I still found myself wanting and needing to know more – where was it all going?

Jonah was by far my favourite character. He was so intellectual, protective, caring and just downright awesome. He was so kind to Irene and just kept coming back even when she just kept pushing and pushing. The relationship between the two felt so raw and real and just perfect. It wasn’t easy, they didn’t know what they were to each other but he treated her like a friend and he really was the best friend. Despite this, there were times when he got on my nerves and I just wanted to tell him to leave Irene alone, which Irene proceeded to do for me anyway, but even at these times I still felt a lot of respect for him.

in perfect harmony
The first thing I noticed when I started reading this book was that I loved the writing style. I have been reading a lot of YA books lately and it has, admittedly, been a bit of a while since I read an adult book but I really liked the writing style that Terri has. She has found the perfect balance between description and dialogue and just manages to stop the reader from getting too lost within the plot and narration of the book. It flows really well and really does a good job of keeping the reader interested and wanting to come back for more. The story kept going, more information to cover, more plot twists to uncover and really Terri did a great job in putting together this book.

and create something new
Hereafter
may not have been one of those books that grabbed me from front to end, it may have been a book that was difficult to rate but it is still a book that I really enjoyed and one that I am really glad I picked up to read. It is funny in places, sad in others, aggressive elsewhere and full of peace and clarity as well. It really paints a nice picture on the after-life and what could come next and is just a lovely book that I think many people will really enjoy and be glad that they picked up. I would recommend this book to people who like adult paranormal books that can get into the real nitty-gritty emotions. It is a grand book that has made me very intrigued for the next in the series!

Three Stars
three out of five hearts

* this book was received in return for an honest review *

Faye

Posted on 12 September, 2012 by Faye - 1 Comment


Fresh Start September – Publicist Interview!

Posted on 10 September, 2012 by Faye - 6 Comments

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Hey Guys!
I really hope you’ve been enjoying Fresh Start September so far! Don’t forget, if you want to go back and look at other posts, just click the graphic to the right *points* and it’ll take you to all the links!
Today I am bringing you a lovely interview with the amazing, sweet and charming publicist Lauren Bennett who works for Random House Children’s Publicity in the UK.
Enjoy!


The marketing for every single book is different but is there anything that is consistently used when it comes to the publicity for debut novels?
It does depend on the book but I’d say for all YA debuts we look to the bloggers for feedback and support, it’s often about sending the right book to the right blogger but once you have a few key people on board the invaluable tool of word of mouth starts and works as a platform to launch the book, it also gives new authors experience in interviews, writing guest posts etc. One of the most successful series launched by bloggers was Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, I’d say they had a huge impact on the success of the series.

You deal with the online and offline publicity of books, what steps do you take when sorting publicity for debut novels?
I’d say my role was about 50/50 online / offline as digital makes up such a massive part of most campaigns now, however there are things we can do for debut novelists offline. One of the most important things I think is building an author’s relationship with their local community, if you have a sound base to work on you can build from there. I’d always encourage authors to make friends with their local bookshops, libraries, schools and media, this helps to build confidence, gain experience and gives the author a local support network.

In your opinion, how important are bloggers to the publicity of debut novels?
As mentioned in my first answer I think they are vital! Most are well connected, they talk to each other as well as influence readers and they are genuinely passionate about books. Bloggers do not seem so concerned about authors who have a high profile or massive sales behind them and are willing to give any book a go, debuts can be tough to get coverage for in traditional media but bloggers seem to like adopting a new author or trend at an early stage, they like to be the first rather than follow the trends which is great for debut novelists.

How much time goes into the cover of novels? And has there ever been any covers you didn’t like after they’ve been approved?
I don’t feel I have the authority to answer this one! However I know a HUGE amount of work and planning goes into designing the jacket, our design team are so creative and talented it is extremely rare for me to not like a jacket, in fact I can’t think of one I haven’t liked…

In your view, are negative reviews good or bad for debut novels?
I think constructive reviews are good, I have no problem if someone doesn’t like a book but I do have a problem if they can’t explain why, bad reviews for the sake of bad reviews are frustrating as children’s / YA books get so little coverage it feels like a waste. I know some authors take on board constructive criticism For their next novel.

Do you decide which books you work with or are they given to you by the editors?
Once we have the publishing schedule we sit down as a team to work out who works on what, if someone is really passionate about a book in the team we like to encourage them to work on the publicity as that seems to make sense!


I want to say a thank you to Lauren Bennett for interviewing with us for this event. I hope it was as interesting for you as it was for us!
Don’t forget to enter our two giveaways running throughout this month!


As a bonus part of the event, we are giving everyone a chance to win some prizes donated by our wonderful participants and ourselves! The prizes include:

  • 2 winners of Strange Chemistry ARC packs, each pack including a copy of Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings, The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke AND Katya’s World by Jonathan L Howard (courtesy of Strange Chemistry)
  • 1 winner of an eBook of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris (courtesy of Entangled Publishing)
  • 3 winners of a book of your choice from any that has been featured in Fresh Start September (each courtesy of the hosts)

The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL and will run until the end of the event (30 September). Remember to follow the Twitter and Facebook pages of the prizes you want to win, for example, to be eligible to win the Strange Chemistry Prize, you must follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Good luck

a Rafflecopter giveaway


But wait, there’s more!
One lucky reader will win a hardcover copy of 34 Pieces of You which Carmen has so generously offered!
This giveaway is limited to US only.
All you have to do is leave a comment on Carmen’s interview here, saying anything you’d like. Then click the rafflecopter button, and you’re entered to win!
The giveaway will run until September 30th
The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond to their notification email, or another winner will be chosen.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE


Faye

Posted on 10 September, 2012 by Faye - 6 Comments