Archive for November, 2012

Self Published Sunday: Interview with Sarah Billington

For this weeks Self Published Sunday feature we are delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington

When sixteen year old Poppy Douglas writes a song about her ex-boyfriend Cam and ex-friend Nikki, she has no idea that her heartbreak is about to go global.
A local band picks up her song from Youtube and soon she’s along for the ride with her own fanbase as they blow up on the local club scene and hit the international charts. Though it turns out leaving Cam behind isn’t as easy as she had hoped.
Tangled in a web of unfinished homework, ill-considered sexting and a new lead-singer boyfriend, Poppy has a choice to make between the ex that inspired it all and the rock God whose poster lines the inside of half the lockers at school. But as she struggles to keep her emotional dirty laundry private, she learns that the truth can be hard to find when your life is in the headlines.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m very into paranormal investigation shows at the moment. Partly because I go through phases in which I think my house is haunted. Which might be because I watch so many paranormal investigation shows. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it. I go out for dinners with friends a lot, and head down to the country/beach and spend a couple of days at my parents’ house visiting my dog, their dog, and my parents. But really my dog is my main priority.

What inspired you to become a writer? When and why did you begin to write?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I remember lying in front of the heater as a kid and I’d fallen asleep, face down on my stories, pages and pages of loose leaf paper I used to write on. The house was always littered with paper and notebooks.
Current work.

What was your inspiration for The Kiss Off?
Modern technology and an interest in the psychology of popularity and fame. I find it interesting how ordinary people these days can become famous just for being themselves. I’m not talking about them auditioning for reality shows, but just normal people on youtube for instance, going viral or gaining fan bases when they were just being their quirky selves. I’m specifically thinking of youtubers Charlie is so cool like and Jenna Marbles right now. This is the basis for what happens to Poppy in The Kiss Off. She’s doing what she loves and it explodes.

What research did you do for this book?
I watched a lot of Youtube! I watched a lot of behind the scenes videos by bands so I could get an idea of what it’s really like on the road, going to interviews etc, and how they feel about fame and fans. I used to read a lot of magazines and even did an analytical essay on the content of a bunch of celebrity gossip magazines so I gained a lot of insight into what would potentially happen in Poppy’s situation.

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?
I don’t base characters specifically on people I know, but I sometimes steal aspects of people I know, personality traits and blend them with other personality traits to create my characters.
I have been told that my authorial voice sounds very much like me as a person, and Poppy, the protagonist in The Kiss Off is like me in that she might fall over things just because there was something to fall over, I actually feel like one of her best friends, Vanya is the most like me as a teen.

Something that happens to Vanya fairly early on in the book did happen to me, but it certainly wasn’t funny at the time. I got off a bus after school and changed my mind and was getting back on when the door closed on my foot and the driver started driving away. I was hopping along outside the bus, so sure I was going to fall and be run over when the driver stopped, opened the door and I scurried away, quite sure I’d had enough of buses for the day, thank you very much.

This happens to Vanya in the book, but she’s inside the bus and her backpack gets caught in the door so she’s kind of dangling inside the crowded bus. This exact thing did happen all the time with one particular bus driver after school. Boy he hated teenagers.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently writing The Kiss Off 2! Poppy and friends (though not necessarily who you’d expect) go to a summer music festival and the non-spoilery way of putting it is that shenanigans are afoot. There are more boys in bands, fan girls, stalkerish types, fainting in front of famous people, accidental nude swimming and one wicked sun burn.

What is your writing process?
I don’t follow a routine, and that sometimes doesn’t exactly work in my favour. I try not to have a routine, so that whatever time of day it is, wherever I am, the words should flow easily. But by not having a routine I don’t necessarily write regularly which is pretty annoying, really. When I’m writing, it’s usually either on my netbook in bed or at my desk in my office. Bed’s more comfy, though. ☺

Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process? Coffee? Chocolate? Music?
I’m not a coffee person – I know, a writer who doesn’t drink coffee? And I can’t write with music playing because I get all distracted by the awesome music and the lyrics and the stories in them. Chocolate and soft drinks do help fuel me though. And honey roasted macadamias.

What prompted you to self publish?
At university we had to do a major assignment on a form of digital publishing and I’d been hearing of more and more success stories in self publishing so I decided that for my major assignment I would make an ebook. And it started selling. I ended up making six for that assignment. I got a High Distinction. ☺

Can you tell us about the challenges in writing and publishing your first novel?
Self publishing can be pretty exhausting, as though having control over every aspect is really liberating, it’s also time consuming. And brain power consuming. I design my own cover art and format my own ebooks, I am responsible for distribution, marketing and all expenses. Some days it’s easier than others.

Do you ever experience writers block? How do you overcome it?
I tend to have an overabundance of ideas. Too many books I want to write and I have to accept that many of the books inside me just won’t get written as I get more ideas all the time.

Sometimes I do, however, get stuck in how to get from one point to the next in a convincing and exciting way in a novel. I go for walks and try to quiet my brain. These days there are so many things that keep our brains occupied, we move from one activity to the next to the next. We listen to music in the car or on the train, have the TV playing as we eat meals, it’s crowded. I don’t tend to just stop and think very often. Walking helps a lot with that. It helps me nut out plot problems and get me fired up again.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing. Even if you think what you’re writing is crap, you’re learning what not to do. You’re learning how to do it better. Make mistakes. Make mistakes so that you can learn how to do it better. Persevere. Failure only happens when you stop trying. It’s hard. It’s really hard, but it’s worth it.
Genre

Why did you choose to write Young Adult fiction?
Young Adult fiction chose me. When I became an adult, I felt like I was supposed to write for grown ups. I needed to write something literary, that had merit, that was beautiful and poetic. But that’s not who I am as a person. I’m messy and I make mistakes and I embarrass myself all the time. And even though I was this big old woman at the grand old age of 21, I still enjoyed watching teen movies and could still relate to the issues that are in teen books. I may be a grown up but I relate more to teenagers. I went to a weekend YA writing workshop and it finally hit me that I may an adult, but it’s perfectly legitimate for me to be more interested in writing for teenagers. I’ve never looked back.

How did you choose the genre you write in? What inspired you to write it?
I have to just accept it. My voice is really contemporary and sarcastic. I really want to write a scary paranormal investigation book but the first ghost I ended up writing was the ghost of a woman’s teenage son. He was scaring the beejezus out of his mum because he thought it was hysterical.
That’s not scary. That’s typical of me. I’m trying to embrace it. ☺

Which books have inspired you?
John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began series was a huge inspiration for me as a teen. And Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series. These books really made me want to be an author. These days Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson books and Brent Crawford’s Carter series really teach me a lot about writing comedy. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy taught me to be brave and put my characters through the ringer and James Dashner’s Maze Runner taught me a lot about plot and turning it on its head ALL. THE. TIME.

What was your favourite book as a child/teenager?
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden. It’s about time I read that series again.

What are you currently reading?
I am halfway through three books right now. It would be so great if I could pick one and stick with it, but the siren song of awesome books calls to me. I’m so weak.

I’m reading That Boy by Jillian Dodd, Skylark by Meagan Spooner and Ghost Huntress: The Awakening by Marley Gibson.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford.

Just for Fun…
Paper, Audio or eBook?

I LIKE paper books, but I move house a lot and MAN ebooks are lighter. Audio Books are a real hit and miss for me. I’ve listened to some that I’ve really looked forward to, but I haven’t connected with the narrator’s reading style so didn’t enjoy the book, or didn’t finish it. The voice actor shouldn’t be a barrier between me liking or disliking a book.

If The Kiss Off was made in to a film which actor(s), past or present, do you envision in the lead role(s)?
I haven’t actually thought about this a whole lot, so I don’t have everyone down, but I can see Alexz Johnson as Poppy, Nick Roux as Ty and I think Jillian Rose Reed (Tamara from Awkward) would be freaking hilarious as Mads.

If The Kiss Off had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
McFly, All Time Low, Simple Plan, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Hot Chelle Rae, probably a bit of Ke$ha as well.

Tea or Coffee?
Iced coffee.

Slippers or barefoot?
Barefoot

Shower or Bath?
Shower

Marmite: Love it? Hate it?
Never had Marmite, but love Vegemite. Does that count?

Email or postcard?
Email

Sarah Billington is an Australian writer and editor who likes to write stories with love, laughs, suspense and zombies. Sometimes all in the same story. Her favouritest thing to write about are those horrendously awkward moments that come with being a teenager. Or a human being. Sarah was extremely accident-prone and klutzy as a kid and teen, so her cup runneth over with experiences of horrendously awkward moments to draw from in her writing. Thankfully, she has grown out of her klutziness. Mostly. She is, however, still an embarrassment.
She loves a variety of random things, which include Swing Dancing, Ice Hockey, Roller Derby and is a bit obsessive about paranormal investigation shows and channel E!.
To learn more about Sarah and her writing visit her website, her blog or follow Sarah on Facebook, Goodreads and/or Twitter

The Kiss Off is available to buy now from Amazon.uk, Smashwords and The Book Depository

Sarah is giving away a copy of The Kiss Off over at Goodreads. Click on the widget to enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington

The Kiss Off

by Sarah Billington

Giveaway ends December 07, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Unsuitable Men

Pippa Wright

After eleven years of coupled-up domesticity, Rory Carmichael is single for the first time in her adult life. Even she would admit that her ex-boyfriend Martin wasn’t the most the most exciting man in the world – let’s face it, his idea of a rocking night was one spent discussing pension plans in a Harvester restaurant – but Rory could rely on him and, having watched her mother rack up four turbulent marriages, that’s what matters. But when she discovers that her supposedly reliable Mr Right is a distinctly unreliable character, she’s forced to consider the possibility that everything she knows about relationships is wrong. In an effort to reinvigorate both her love life and her lacklustre career at posh magazine Country House, she sets herself a mission to date as many unsuitable men as possible. Toyboys. Sugar daddies. Fauxmosexuals. Maybe the bad boys she’s never dated can show her what she’s been missing in life. But if Mr Right can turn out to be so wrong, maybe one of her Mr Wrongs will turn out to be just right…

Rory is basically your typical lovely, normal girl who has sadly gotten into the rut of being with someone because it’s better to be in a couple than be on your own, even if the relationship isn’t that fulfilling. She relied on Martin, to the point where she has begun to lose herself. He is controlling and everything goes his way, and he’s totally boring! Rory has been a bit of a doormat to be honest and her self- esteem is on the floor, but in her mind she is in a solid, long term relationship that’s bound to end up in marriage and family and she is content with her lot. That is until Martin does the dirty on her and her world is turned upside down.

Having felt like she’s a bit in the background and not really noticed at work, as she works through the grief of her finished relationship, she finds herself getting to know her overbearing colleague Ticky better and getting somewhat steam-rollered into taking her advice. As a result this leads to a her beginning to write a new column basing her writings on her experiences of dating ‘Unsuitable Men’ as a way of getting over Martin and having all the ‘bad date’ experiences she never had when she was younger. Maybe if she experiences some of these it will give her a clearer idea of what she does what in a relationship.

There follows a series of amusing situations which poor Rory gets herself into, and she finds herself on a bit of a trail of self-discovery, all the while boarding at her Aunt Lyd’s house, a home with aging ‘has been’ actors and annoying plumber Jim which brings an enjoyable added dimension to the story.

Verdict: I liked Rory and there is a good cast of supporting characters and as a low cost Kindle download this was a very enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 465/629KB
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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The Diviners

Libba Bray and January LaVoy(Narrator)
It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.
For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.
But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.
Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

To the inhabitants of Zenith, Ohio, Evie O’Neill is just ‘Too Much’, sentiments with which Evie heartily agrees; too much for the small minds of her small hometown. She will show them, she is going to make a name for herself, be ‘a somebody’ and New York City is exactly where she is meant to be. All she needs to do now is prove to stuffy old “Unc” Will, just how indispensible she is, even if that means rustling up interest in her uncle’s dusty old museum and assisting him in the investigation of the gruesome Pentacle murders. The only question now is how much should she reveal about her mysterious powers and the unique perspective they afford her.

I have complicated feelings for Evie. Evie is a good time girl, brash and single-mindedly to the point of selfishness, she doesn’t consider the consequences of her actions and at times I felt like I want to reach in to the pages of the book and shake some sense of her. But then she would give you a glimpse of the deep hurt and vulnerability beneath the brash, roughed façade, a flash of brilliance, of quick thinking intelligence, a backbone of steely courage and an innate sense of right and wrong. I found myself loving Evie, because of her faults not in spite of them.

While Evie, is undoubtedly the main protagonist of The Diviners, the majority of the story line being narrated from her third person perspective, such care is taken with the introduction of each of the additional players that by the end of this installment instead of a list of supporting characters, we are gifted with a large ensemble cast, irrecoverably tied to each other and unknowing racing towards a greater purpose. I can’t help referring to the protagonists as a cast. The descriptive narrative, the sprawling scenes taking in swathes of New York City and the frequently changing third person perspective gave the book a very cinematic feel.

Like a good horror movie, The Diviners was accompanied by an eerie soundtrack track, an ominous warning, a creepy nursery song, the merest hint of which was able to catch my breath and accelerate my pulse.

Libba Bray is the master of creepy. Crafting a story that managed to maintain a baseline of lip biting unease throughout the entire duration of the book, punctuated with fight or flight inducing, sweaty palmed, stomach twisting, heart in mouth horror.

One of the main attractions of the book was the 1920’s setting. For me thoughts of this era inspire images of bobbed haired beauties, draped in pearls on the arms of dapper young men, visiting jazz clubs and drinking cocktails. While the glamour and the sparkle were certainly evident, I was pleasantly surprised at the parallels with our own society. The vilification of our hooded youth as reflected in the disapproval of the flappers. While the heartbreak of young men misled into conflict, returning broken and unsupported, the reconciliation of faith, belief and ethics with ever advancing technological developments, and fame culture are still very relevant to our culture to this day.

I have to admit that as in many areas of my life, I am Glutton for books, devouring whole novels in just a few sittings. At 600 pages, The Diviners is the kind of book that can’t be easily gobbled, the sheer number of pages combined with the weight of it conspire against the book glutton.

Feeding my gluttonous urges, I called upon my multitasking skills, and downloaded the audio book. My intention was to alternate between the crisp paper pages in the evening and the audiobook as I went about my daily life of housework, school runs, commuting and dog walks. I found narrator, January LaVoy’s performance totally engaging and absorbing. So much so that I found that I quickly favored listening to the audiobook and put the paper edition to one side. The Diviners audiobook was the perfect accompaniment to my urban strolls in the fading evening light and crisp autumnal air.

Under LaVoy’s guardianship, each character was bestowed with a distinctive aural voice, which beautifully complemented the character voices created by Bray and the images I’d already begun to formulate in my minds eye. The production value was exceptional, suffering from none of the skipped passages and repeats I have come across in some audiobooks.

The Diviners suited a slower, savored read. Libba beautifully weaves together so many intricate and unique story threads, that you want to slow down and take note of each new colour and texture in its own right before enjoying its contribution to the overall tapestry of the book and, what promised to be a fantastically gripping, series.

That isn’t to say that the book wasn’t a well-paced page turner. Instead of the book lovers chant of “just one more page” I found myself walking just one more block. I even volunteered to take the dog for her morning walk, deserting my duvet and braving the early morning frost, just so I could squeeze in a little more listening time each day.

Verdict: I finished The Diviners with the overall impression of a fantastically creepy and satisfying read, but also with the excited anticipation that it was just the first step in Bray’s master plan.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Atom/Audible.co.uk
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Hardback/Audiobook
Pages: 592/18hours 15min
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher/ Own copy
Challenge: None
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Meg and Mog

Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski

Meg and Mog is the first in the long-standing series about a witch (Meg) and her cat (Mog). Meg is a cute well-meaning witch who lives with Mog and her owl. In Meg and Mog, we are introduced to a witch wardrobe and a witch’s breakfast. Later Meg flies off to meet her witch friends for some spell-making at a Halloween Party. Unfortunately the spell does not go exactly to plan…

Meg and Mog is the first in the long-standing series about a witch (Meg) and her cat (Mog). Meg is a cute well-meaning witch who lives with Mog and her owl. In Meg and Mog, we are introduced to a witch wardrobe and a witch’s breakfast. Later Meg flies off to meet her witch friends for some spell-making at a Halloween Party. Unfortunately the spell does not go exactly to plan..,

It’s been so lovely to see the Meg and Mog books regain their popularity – if indeed their popularity ever waned! I loved these books as a child was so happy to see them gracing the shelves of the book shops again of late. It gives me a warm and cosy feeling to be reading them again with my children now.

The stories are simple and enjoyable. Although Meg is a witch she isn’t scary or unlikeable in any way and, although I’m not a fan of Halloween or any scary stuff in general, Meg and Mog make for enjoyable and fun reads for pre-schoolers and even those a little older who will like to read the books to themselves.

Verdict: With fun little stories and wonderful illustrations these are a welcome addition to our bookshelf!

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 1972
Format: Paperback
Pages: 31
Genre: Picture book, Magic
Age: Early readers
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Self Published Sunday: Bonus scene from Inescapable

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting an interview (read it here) with Amy Bartol, the author of The Premonition Series. Amy has kindly provided a taster of the first book in the series, Inescapable.

My name is Evie Claremont and this was to be the making of me–my freshman year of college. I had been hoping that once I had arrived on Crestwood’s campus, the nightmare that I’ve been having would go away. It hasn’t.
I may be an inexperienced seventeen-year-old, but I’m grounded…sane. Since meeting sophomore Reed Wellington, however, nothing makes any sense. Whenever he is near, I feel an attraction to him–a magnetic kind of force pulling me towards him. I know what you’re thinking…that sounds fairly awesome. Yeah, it would–if he liked me, but Reed acts as if I’m the worst thing that’s ever happened to Crestwood…or him. But, get this, for some reason every time I turn around he’s there, barging into my life.
What is the secret he is keeping from me? I’m hoping that it is anything but what I expect: that he is not exactly normal…and neither am I. So maybe Crestwood won’t be the making of me, but it could be the breaking of me. I have been left to wonder if the dark future my dream is foretelling is…inescapable.

FROM INESCAPABLE – CHAPTER 13 – COLDWATER: “SHADOW MAN DREAM”
This scene was cut from Chapter 13 of Inescapable. It was the scene right after Evie drives with Freddie to Coldwater and she sees the “shadow man” there. I cut this scene primarily for word count, but also because I thought it was confusing. Evie’s dreams are premonitions and this was intended as just a standard nightmare.

Leaning back against the seat, I close my eyes. This was a bad idea, I think and wonder how I’m going to explain what I saw to Reed when I’m not even supposed to be in Coldwater. He’s going to be hostile when I tell him what I did. He wasn’t here to ask, I think grasping at straws, but then I look at my cell phone and I can already hear the argument that I hadn’t even tried to call him. Maybe I don’t have to tell him. I look again through the back window, scanning the cars behind me for any sign of the shadow man, but I can detect nothing. That thing was evil, you felt it and it felt you. You should be on the phone to Reed this minute, I think. Damn!

I worry about the shadow man all the way back to Crestwood. Freddie doesn’t seem to notice my tension as we discuss the installation of the firewall in depth. It’s obvious that Freddie can handle the install without me. Russell and his roommate will probably be at the field by now, so it should be easy enough to get in and get out without him knowing.

Freddie drops me off in the parking lot of my dorm and I can hear the drums of the marching band playing at the field house from my room. Russell’s first game is going to start any minute. I’m torn as to what to do. I had planned on going to support him, but my being there will probably have the opposite effect on him right now. I’m probably the last person on earth he wants to see and that fact makes me more miserable than I can say.

To make matters even worse, I’m beginning to really miss Reed, which is pathetic because he has only been gone a little more than a day. It doesn’t take long for me to break down and try to reach Reed on my cell phone. He doesn’t answer his phone, but I get to listen to his sexy voice on his voicemail and I wish that I had some way to record it so that I can play it back over and over again like an obsessed groupie. When I hear the beep that indicates that I should leave a message, I’m at a loss as to what to say because I hadn’t planned the call at all, it was an extreme impulse.

I say almost breathlessly, “Hi, Reed, it’s Evie…I miss you…come home soon.” Hanging up the phone, I cringe and cover my face with my hands when I think of the message I just left. You are so not a player Evie.

I opt to stay in my room instead of going to the football game. A while later, I hear the chatter in the hallway outside my door. The Chargers, apparently, have won and all the houses are celebrating the victory with parties overflowing with contraband kegs hidden in their basements. I’m not in any mood to party tonight, in fact, all I want to do is hide for as long as possible

I go to bed early and try to imagine just what Reed is doing at this moment. I imagine him lying in his bed, thinking of me. It makes me feel better, even if it isn’t true. I fall asleep thinking of how it will feel to hold him in my arms again.

A noise outside my window distracts me from my thoughts of Reed. It sounds ugly, like the popping sound of joints when they crack from being hyper-extended, but on a grander scale: louder, and with more crunching and fracturing of cartilage and sinew. Confused as to what can possibly be making that noise, I get out of bed and go to the window to find the source of the sound. I can see a man standing under one of the bright lights in the parking lot outside. He’s looking directly at my room. I move back a bit, hiding from his view behind the curtain where I can still see him. I cover my mouth with my hand in fear, watching him.

The man is growing taller, but not exactly “taller.” It’s more like he’s elongating. His legs are growing, but his torso remains the same size so that he resembles a distorted stilt walker. His tread is that of an obscene carnival clown as he scissor-walks toward my window. My breath is coming out in shallow gasps as I’m beginning to shake. Coming abreast of the fire escape, he’s beginning to decrease in size again, morphing into the exact likeness of the shadow man I’d seen earlier in Coldwater. My legs are numb with fear so I can’t run, I can’t scream. I watch him with a sense of helplessness as he moves disjointedly; he is on the fire escape one moment, and the next, he’s in my room.

Backing up stiffly on trembling legs, my knees buckle when I bump into the bed, forcing me to sit on it. He followed me back to Crestwood. He knows what I am! He’s here to tear me apart, I think in terror.

Before my eyes, the shadow detaches itself from the man to become a separate entity, so that “he” becomes “they.” The shadow leads the man, I think as they near my bed. I can smell the rank odor of the shadow; it smells like the sulfur in chemistry class, but different—more putrid. It’s burning my nose with its stench.

I want to scream, but the shadow has put one of its elongated fingertips to my lips. It feels like a blast of icy rotten air. It wags the grotesquely long finger of its other hand in my face, as if shaming me for telling a secret. Watching its fingers grow longer, each one seems to be sharpening like a knife. Before I can do anything to stop it, the shadow plunges its fingers into my chest. Fire burns through me as its spiny appendages enter my heart. Trying to put my hands on its chest, they slide right through it like air. There is no substance to it, but I feel pain; its knives are twisting inside of me. Panicking and flailing, I reach out and push against the shadow’s partner: the man. He’s solid. I beat my fists against his chest, pounding him with all of my strength.

Energy passes through my body and into the man in the form of extreme heat. Through my haze of pain, I can see that I hurt them. The shadow, stunned by my counter attack, withdraws quickly, as if it too, is burned. It leaps back into the man, turning them black. They distort, shrinking like a balloon that has a slow leak, decreasing in size until they’re no more than a murky dot in my room. Then, as if they had never been, they’re gone.

I shoot straight up in bed, clutching my chest where I’d been stabbed in my dream. Gasping for breath, I sob while putting my hands to my chest. I’m whole, I’m uncut, but I feel twinges of pain from the knives that had entered my chest in the dream. I’m okay, I assure myself, panting as if I’ve actually undergone the extreme exertion of fighting off the shadow man. Coldwater was a bad, bad, idea, I think, feeling panic overwhelming me. I allow panic to take hold. Lying in my bed trembling, I realize that I have not been taking this seriously. I’ve been in a state of denial. Reed had said that there are things out there that would like nothing better than to get their hands on me, but I hadn’t been able to grasp it fully. I’m grasping it now that I’ve seen one of them. If that thing had really come for me tonight, I doubt I’d have even seen it coming. I’d probably already be dead. I hug my pillow as I lay in my bed, waiting for the sun to come up.

“I live in Michigan with my husband and our two sons. My family is very supportive of my writing. When I’m writing, they often bring me the take-out menu so that I can call and order them dinner. They listen patiently when I talk about my characters like they’re real. They rarely roll their eyes when I tell them I’ll only be a second while I finish writing a chapter…and then they take off their coats. They ask me how the story is going when I surface after living for hours in a world of my own making. They have learned to accept my “writing uniform” consisting of a slightly unflattering pink fleece jacket, t-shirt, and black yoga pants. And they smile at my nerdy bookishness whenever I try to explain urban fantasy to them. In short, they get me, so they are perfect and I am blessed. Here are some of my sites: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest and Pintrest.

Inescapable is available to buy from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

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The Walking Dead Compendium 2

Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

Returning with the second eight volumes of the fan-favorite, New York Times bestseller series, The Walking Dead, collected into one massive paperback collection!
This is the perfect collection for any fan of the Emmy Award-winning television series on AMC: over one-thousand pages chronicling the next chapter of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner Award-winning continuing story of survival horror – beginning with Rick Grimes’ struggle to survive after the prison raid, to the group’s finding short solace in The Community, and the devastation that follows. In a world ruled by the dead, we are finally forced to finally start living. Collects The Walking Dead #49-96.

Now, that the televised ‘Walking Dead’ series 3 is kicking about, I’m going to try and make sure this review is as spoiler free as possible. There are some in here but I hope that they are obvious and expected developments.

I can’t tell you how eagerly I have been waiting for the second compendium to come out, especially considering the incredibly huge, jaw dropping ‘I didn’t see that coming’ finale that the first compendium ended with. The initial compendium was actually my first foray into comics….sorry, slaps hand, graphic novels. As a fan of the TV series and knowing that Robert Kirkman helped create the graphic novels and series I thought I’d give it a try. The story lines are similar and still based on how the characters have had to adjust to the zombie apocalypse. They now behave with a different set of moral codes which will at times be in conflict with the group as a whole and how that is dealt with.

What makes the novels so brilliant is the level of detail with the illustrations. You literally see what the characters see, if a scene unfolds without speech or watching a character go through a slew of emotions. Time is taken to painstakingly draw scene after scene to make you explore every detail to understand what is going on. It’s quite cruel really as the speed of the story is fast, making you eager to find out what’s happened but you can’t just skim over the pictures as they convey more of the story than the actual dialogue!

If like me, you’ve finished watching season 2 and only seen the trailer for series 3, you’ll know that a prison seems to be the answer to our survivors’ dreams whilst some of the disbanded survivors find themselves in a maintained community with a governor that would make even the zombies shudder. Well, the conclusion to that particular chapter finishes at the end of compendium 1.
Compendium 2 starts straight away following this dramatic finale. The survivors are all scattered but gradually regroup. They’re all emotionally beaten as they have seriously just taken such a kicking. Rick in particular has to fight his demons and has lost confidence in his ability to lead the group, a thought which is also shared by others in the group. As we follow the survivors try to once again find sanctuary however short-lived, the pace feels a little slower but understandably so. The survivors are licking their wounds after all and there is a fear that being too relentless could lead to predictability which the novel avoids. I also wonder if you, the reader can become desensitised to the zombie attacks, something of which, even the characters acknowledge as zombies and the manner of killing them, once and for all becomes part of daily routine.

Verdict: This compendium ends on not quite such a dramatic cliffhanger as it’s predecessor, but you just know that, ‘a storm’s a coming’. Now I know that I could buy the following novels separately, but that will ruin the harmony of my collection so far, so I will just have to sit on my hands and hope that Compendium 3 doesn’t take too long to come out!

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: October 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 1068
Genre: Graphic Novel, Zombie
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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