Archive for January, 2014

Unrest

Michelle Harrison
unrestSeventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for six months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Now he is afraid to go to sleep. Sometimes he wakes to find himself paralysed, unable to move a muscle, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around, while his body lies asleep on the bed. According to his doctor, sleep paralysis and out of body experiences are harmless – but to Elliot they’re terrifying. Convinced that his brush with death has opened up connections with the spirit world, Elliott secures a live-in job at one of England’s most haunted locations, determined to find out the truth. There he finds Sebastian, the ghost of a long-dead servant boy hanged for stealing bread. He also meets the living, breathing Ophelia, a girl with secrets of her own. She and Elliott grow closer, but things take a terrifying turn when Elliott discovers Sebastian is occupying his body when he leaves it. And the more time Sebastian spends inhabiting a living body, the more resistant he becomes to giving it back. Worse, he seems to have an unhealthy interest in Ophelia. Unless Elliott can lay Sebastian’s spirit to rest, he risks being possessed by him for ever, and losing the girl of his dreams

I acquired Unrest at last year’s Summer Scream Foyles event after having heard Michelle Harrison read a section of it and getting some serious goosebumps in the full blazing summer. Unfortunately my forever growing TBR pile meant that it had to be postponed again and again until…. Halloween rolled on. I put everything aside and immersed myself fully in the scary world on the night of witches, and boy what a scare!!!

I stupidly read it mostly at night after I finished work and couldn’t seem to manage more than a few chapters at a time as got too creeped out every time. Now I should inform you that I’m not much of a horror person. Scratch that, I’m just plain and simple not a horror person. I don’t watch horror and I don’t read horror. Michelle Harrison may have changed all that as I now hunt for another similar thrilling read!!

The style of writing and the narration were laced with suspense, eeriness and mystery at every turn of the page. The suspense slowly built to a rising crescendo as small bizarre events occurred growing into bigger, more threatening and frightening events.

But no book’s complete without a bit of romance, which Michelle naturally provided as mystery and ghosts wrapped themselves around the budding spark between Elliott and Ophelia.
I very much enjoyed this book not only for the spook factor, which was delivered in abundance, but also because the characters themselves had depth and were seen to grow with every nightmarish situation. Amongst the ghost hunting, some own personal soul searching was done and it was lovely reading and watching these two characters grow whilst also facing some of our own worst haunting nightmares.

I never thought I would stumble across a horror that I would actually enjoy, let alone love but I am lucky enough to say that I most certainly have. Unrest possessed romance, eeriness, mystery and depth in equal and abundant amount. And I loved every goose-bump endured moment of it. I would even go as far as saying that although reading it at night petrified me and made me jump at every creak of my new flat, I would definitely read it again in the exact same conditions.

Verdict: Couldn’t have creeped me out or made me enjoy it more!!!

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: April 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 375
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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A Writer’s Role, A Father’s Responsibility

We are delighted to host the latest stop on Jeff Norton‘s blog tour for MetaWars: Freedom Frontier.

MetawarsThe thrilling final instalment of the action-packed METAWARS series.
With the Guardians and Millennials eliminated, Jonah and Sam are left to fend for themselves. When they discover their enemy, Granger, is also on his own they take the ultimate leap of faith and join forces to survive…and save humanity. The future of the world on and off-line is at stake and Jonah will not stop until he prevails.
Even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

One of my favourite things about walking into a bookshop with my son (Caden, aged four) is when he spots one of my books. “Dadda, look, your book!” he squeals, often accompanied by a feverish pointing and jumping up and down. But the satisfaction is tempered with sadness, since I know he’s years away from enjoying the book himself.

We’re still in the picture books and early readers phase, and while I would never wish this precious time away, there’s a part of me that waits with anxious anticipation when he can read the first MetaWars book on his own. It’ll probably be in about four to five years, depending on what type of reader he develops into, and assuming he’s not in a rebellious phase by then.

But in the books, I paint a bleak picture of the future: global population over ten billion, food and water shortages, resource constraints, and a phenomena whereby most people choose to hide out in a virtual world instead of facing the real one. Beyond the entertainment value of the story – essentially a chase thriller – I wonder if he will ask me why I didn’t do more to change the future? If the world he grows up into starts to resemble the fictional one I’ve created (and scientific consensus suggests that this is likely), then he’ll be right to accuse me of complacency of character and appeasing the forces that damage our environment.

As a parent, part of my job is to project my children from the world, but more and more I wonder whether it’s also my responsibility to create a better one for them to grow into. I don’t think I knew it consciously, but that’s the question that I was grappling with when writing The Freedom Frontier, the fourth and final book in the MetaWars series. What can I do to make the world better for my children? Now that the series is over and I’m due to move onto other projects, the question still lingers.

Caden is four now, and I expect he’ll make his way into the world in about fourteen years or so. That gives me fourteen years to find an answer that satisfies both of us. That’s not a lot of time.

Post by Jeff Norton

jeff nortonJeff Norton is London-based writer who dreams up big, immersive worlds and fills them with page-turning stories and awesome characters. Sometimes he writes by himself, sometimes he creates stories two co-write with his friends.
A reluctant reader as a boy, Jeff strives to create stories that will turn reluctant readers into lifelong ones.
Before writing full-time, Jeff managed the Enid Blyton literary estate. Jeff moved to London from Los Angeles where he’d developed and produced the critically acclaimed interactive movie Choose Your Own Adventure, based on the best-selling books.
Originally from Canada, Jeff lives in London with his wife and two young sons. Norton is the author of the MetaWars saga from Orchard Books. The final installment, MetaWars 4.0: The Freedom Frontier publishes 2nd January, 2014. Find Jeff on the web at www.jeffnorton.com, twitter at www.twitter.com/thejeffnorton and facebook at www.facebook.com/thejeffnorton.

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Bookish Brits: The Book Cake Tag

Daphne, Faye, Debbie and I had a fantastic pre Christmas catch up over tea and cake. While we were there we filmed the Book Cake Tag. The tag originally created by SuddenlyLorna (view her video here) consists of seven cake related book topics:

1) Flour – A book that was a little bit slow to start off but that really picked up as it went along.
2) Butter – A book that had a really rich and great plot.
3) Eggs – A book that you thought was going to be bad but actually turned out quite enjoyable.
4) Sugar – A sugary/sweet book.
5) Icing – A book that covered every single element that you enjoy about a book (funny moments, action moments, sad moments, etc.).
6) Sprinkles – A book series that you can kind of turn to for a little pick me up when you’re feeling down.
7) The cherry on top – Your favorite book this year so far.

Posted by Caroline.

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Darcy Burdock

Laura Dockrill

darcy burdockIntroducing Darcy Burdock, a new, cool, all-conquering girl character with a fresh and distinctive take on the world.
Ten-year-old Darcy is one of life’s noticers. Curious, smart-as-a-whip, funny and fiercely loyal, she sees the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around her.
Written and illustrated by Laura Dockrill: author, poet & performer – think Lady Gaga meets Mother Goose.

Darcy Burdock is one of life’s thinkers she sees the amazing in everyday life around her. She thinks about everything and has a very active imagination. She often writes inventive stories and uses lots of people from her own life in these stories. She is a friendly character and you tend to fall in love with her because she’s so friendly and I love her because she also likes Glee!

She tells about her hectic life and how growing up as a tweenager (a between teenager- not quite a teenager or a child) affects her. Her life is quite normal but she has problems at school, nosey neighbours, annoying boys, rubbish siblings and equally annoying girls as well.

My favourite part in the story is when her sister doesn’t get chosen for a dance school and Darcy realises how important her sister is to her. Also there is a part whenever she walks into a room her parents stop whispering and her best friend Will is ignoring her. She feels really left out. Turns out they were planning a surprise birthday party for her.

Darcy Burdock is a very nice story with memorable characters but it’s quite short, I read it very quickly, and it ends very suddenly. It’s for younger tweens- about 9-11, and because I am 12 and it seemed like a book for younger children.

Verdict: If you are a fan of Lauren Child you would enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Random House Children’s
Publication Date: March 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 278
Genre: Contemporary
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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New Year, New Adult Blog Tour: Natasha Boyd Interview

I am delighted to host Natasha Boyd on the blog today as she answers some of my burning questions about her Eversea series.

NATourBanner

Congratulations for writing such a fantastically touching coming of age, steamy, not to mention addicting duo logy. As soon as I finished Eversea I had to immediately downloaded and started reading Forever,  Jack. What was your initial inspiration for Eversea/Forever, Jack, and did you always plan to write Jack and Keri Ann’s story in two parts?

Hi there! Thanks for having me on your blog. And thank you for your kind words. My initial inspiration for Eversea was to write a Cinderella story where the heroine didn’t really need saving, and the prince wasn’t quite that perfect. The setting was always the Lowcountry and the hero was always going to be famous but out of his element. Parts of his backstory were actually based on my own upbringing in the UK. It was going to be one book, b tot was getting too long and I wasn’t totally convinced it was going to have a happy ending either. You can thank some fairly vocal and demanding readers that Forever, Jack ended the way it did!

After reading the synopsis, I couldn’t help but envision a particular “hollywood” couple as the scandal separated Jack and Audrey. That lasted for all of two minutes in to reading the book, when the characters took on identities and lives of their own. What I would like to know is, if you were casting the Eversea movie who would you choose to fill the roles of Jack, Keri Ann and/or  the prominent secondary characters?

It’s amazing how polarizing that certain Hollywood couple can be! And yes, I did wonder where and how a Hollywood star would hide of they wanted to reassess their life. The idea of the contractual aspects of Jack and Audrey’s relationship came from a Vanity Fair article I read about Tom Cruise. But the reality is, as you say, Jack and Keri Ann are their own people and always were. For that reason it is SO hard to cast them in my head. I’m a Henry Cavill fan, so he’d be nice, and I like Alexis Bledel for Keri Ann – but if it was ever a reality (I’d be in HEAVEN if it was being made into a movie! Can you imagine?…Sigh…), I’d love less well known actors to play their parts.

Congratulations on your recent publishing deal with Headline Eternal. Prior to this exciting development you self published Eversea and Forever, Jack. What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of self publication?

Thank you! The deal with Headline Eternal is a wonderful thing, the best of both worlds actually. It is wonderful to have your words recognized and appreciated by such a well-respected publishing house. They bought the UK and commonwealth rights, so it means I am still self-published in the USA. The most rewarding aspects of self-publishing are the control and the marketing. You can measure your success against your own efforts in an extremely tangible way, and if you are successful, you are paid well. It is extremely wonderful to be rewarded commensurate with your efforts. There is also a wonderful community of support and friendship with bloggers and writers and readers who all appreciate the effort self-publishing takes when done right. The most challenging aspects are the same. It takes an extraordinary amount of financial outlay, effort, marketing and organization and sometimes it is hard to find time to write!

One of my favourite characters was Keri Ann’s elderly neighbour, Mrs Weaton, she appears to have had an absolutely fascinating life. Despite being just a small anecdote to add texture to Keri-Ann’s history, I was also fascinated with her grandparents love story. Do you see yourself ever writing historical fiction? 

I love historical fiction! I’m not sure I would be very good at writing it, I think I would get bored with all the fact-checking! But it would probably be incredibly rewarding. Yes, Mrs. Weaton is one of my favourite characters. I love that she is hovering in the background like Cinderella’s fairy godmother (at least as far as getting her to the ball in the perfect dress!). And yes, she led a fascinating life. One of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t record or write down all the incredible stories my grandmother told me about her life. There always seemed to be time to get around to doing that. There wasn’t. We should all make more of an effort to hear the stories of our elders before they are lost forever.

I understand that Warriors Of Erath, the book series Keri-Ann is obsessed with, and the movie adaptation which launches Jack’s career, is based on a short story you wrote years ago. Do you have any plans to explore making it in to a full length novel, or releasing the short story for your Eversea fans?

Yikes.

Great question. I would LOVE to. Do you think people would read it?? I might be too nervous to try it! If I did, I would re-write and expand it. My writing has grown since then. I’d never inflict it on anyone in its current form!

Over the course of the Eversea duo logy, Kerri-Ann develops confidence in her artistic abilities. Do you have any hidden talents you would like to share with us?

In a way, Keri Ann discovering her confidence in her artistry is partly about the confidence I developed in writing. If I tell you that writing Eversea, and then publishing it for public consumption was the most terrifying thing I have ever done, it would be a gross understatement. It’s still a terrifying rollercoaster of emotion to this day! The feelings you get from people’s reactions to something you’ve written is for me akin to having bipolar disorder. I can be flying high with confidence one minute to hitting the ground so hard the next, I feel I won’t ever get out of bed or type another thing. Maybe that part will get easier! I hope so!!

What are you able to tell us about the project you are  currently working on? * crosses fingers and whispers “please be Jazz and Joey’s story, please be Jazz and Joey’s story …” *

HAHAHA! Actually, I have been working on Jazz and Joey, but it looks like the UK publisher wants a whole new series. So either way, I can confirm you WILL be getting Jazz and Joey, but I’m not sure how soon. Definitely this year!
  
Like the BBLB team, and many of our readers, you are a busy mother . How on earth do you manage to fit your writing in around a busy home life? Do you treat it like any other job, 9-5 with set childcare, or is it a case of catching time whenever you can? How do you maintain your work-life-balance?

Wow, it’s hard, right?! I am always in awe of those I meet who seem to be managing it so smoothly. Maybe they think the same of me? It’s hard, and you don’t always get it right. I hope that even if I mess up and my kids feel a bit neglected sometimes, they’ll still remember that their parent, their mother, worked really hard to accomplish her dream, and that anything is possible if they set their minds to it. I write mostly when the kids are in school, so…not many words appear on a page between June and August.

One of the reasons we created Big Book Little Book was to share our passion for reading, not only the books we enjoyed,  but also those we love to share with our own children. Which books have you particularly enjoyed sharing with your own children?

When I was young I read the Willard Price Adventure series for boys which was at my grandmothers house (her youngest son’s (my uncle’s) old books). I was hooked and never looked back. I couldn’t wait for my oldest to start those! I found the whole series one by one on ebay, and he’s read them all and is now a voracious reader. He’s 9 and reads more and faster than I do. Thank goodness for libraries! I keep telling him not to give me the ending to Allegiant, but he threatens me with it daily! LOL!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog.

I hope you all see your dreams materialize in 2014!

natasha boysNatasha Boyd is a writer with a background in marketing and public relations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and lives in the coastal Carolina Lowcountry, complete with Spanish moss, alligators and mosquitoes the size of tiny birds. She has a husband, two sons and a cat named Tuna. Eversea is her first full-length novel. To learn more about Natasha and her work visit her website (here) or Goodreads author page (here)

Your scavenger hunt clue is: B

For more information about the tour scavenger hunt, giveaway and to view the full New Year, New Adult tour schedule click here.

Interview questions by Caroline.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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New Year, New Adult Blog Tour: Eversea

Natasha Boyd
EVERSEA_4An orphaned, small-town, southern girl, held hostage by responsibility and self-doubt.
A Hollywood A-list mega-star, on the run from his latest scandal and with everything to lose.
A chance encounter that leads to an unlikely arrangement and epic love affair that will change them both forever.
When his co-star and real-life girlfriend is caught cheating on him with her married and much older director, A-list hottie, Jack Eversea, finds himself in sleepy Butler Cove, South Carolina. Jack hopes the sultry southern heat in this tiny coastal Lowcountry town will hide him not only from the tabloids and his cheating girlfriend, but his increasingly vapid life and the people who run it. He doesn’t count on meeting Keri Ann Butler.
Keri Ann has relied on herself so long, dealing with her family’s death and the responsibilities of keeping up her family’s historic mansion, that boys and certainly the meager offering of eligible boys in Butler Cove, have never figured into her equation. But fate has other plans. Suddenly face to face with the man who played the movie role of her favorite fictional character, Jack has Keri Ann yearning for everything she has previously avoided … and Jack must decide whether this funny, sassy girl is worth changing his life for, before his mistakes catch up to him.

When I agreed to read Eversea in preparation for my interview with Natasha Boyd. I was expecting a light and fluffy retelling of the cinderella story. What I discovered was a heart tugging, hot flush provoking, coming of age story

Although Jack is an adult who has been living in the real world( as real as Hollywood will allow), crafting a successful movie career, he has always been led and guided, cajoled and contracted in to increasing claustraphobic situations. He craves something more; independence to be himself, to lead his own life and make his own decisions.

While Jacks life has be controlled and contained by contractual obligations , Keri Ann has had to contend with her own agreement-although an informal one with her older sibling. While both have begun to recognised and become frustrated by their limitations, it is their meeting that is catalyst for change in both of their lives.

When I read the synopsis, I couldn’t help imaginging a particular Hollywood couple in the roles of Jack and Audrey. That all changed the moment I got to know Jack. OMG! Over the span of two incredible books Jack Eversea, has not only made it on to my list of book crushes, he has stormed up to the top of the pile.

You can read more about my favourite NA crushes over at Lola’s Book Reviews (here)

Holly swoon fest! When I read Eversea I decide that I had never read such a lip blighting, breath accelerating, hot non-kissing kissing scene- That is until Natasha and Jack pulled it out of the bag with Forever Jack! give us even more non- lip smacking swoons. What that boy can do with his hands! *fans self*

What I loved the most about Keri Ann was her determination to be her own woman. Despite at times being overwhelmed by Jack the celebrity (her reactions when ever she “realised” who she was with felt so normal)she never allows herself to be swayed by Jack’s status, she doesn’t take any crap, calls him out on his arrogance (sorry, confidence), she doesn’t want to be caught up with the Hollywood scene or have her fifteen minutes of fame. Once she finds the courage to step out of her comfort zone and really begin her life, she is determined to hold on to her own dreams and identity.

Eversea finishes on what I consider to be one hell of a clift hanger. This was definitely one of those time where I am glad to come late to the party. Rather than have to wait for publication,or even approval from netgalley, I was able to Immediately download ( I love ebooks) and start reading the sequel Forever Jack.

Verdict: I am a fully paid up member of the Jack Eversea fan club

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Headline Eternal
Publication Date: December 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 359
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: New Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: British book
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Unhinged

A.G.Howard

unhingedAlyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Ok before I attempt to review this book I would just like to say that it is 02:00 am, I only finished reading it a few hours ago and am still basking in it’s awesomeness. And to now be asked to try and put all the mixture of amazing thoughts I have running through my head into words is perhaps a little too much. Infact it may be almost impossible and crazy. As netherling crazy as it would be to harness the power of a smile. But hey if our dear Alyssa could do that in Splintered, then who am I to not attempt this task mere human that I am.

I started reading Unhinged and all it took was a few sentences for me to once again tumble down the dark rabbit hole that A.G.Howard created, only this time the fall was darker, deeper, scarier, far more dangerous and by far one of the most thrilling and riveting rides I have ever been on. This fantastic author was quick to throw me back into Alyssa’s reality and into Wonderland.

We left Alyssa with a seemingly temporarily solved situation, with two worlds more or less under control (as much as you can control a world that does not respond to logic), with a choice made as to where she wanted to live her life and who she wanted to spend it with. It has now been a year and all the lines drawn by those choices are beginning to blur, as the dark tendrils of netherling insanity creep through the cracks of broken mirrors and rabbit holes into our light and rule abiding world. The world Alyssa chose, the half of herself that she decided to live by. But can you really choose a half when both are just different sides of the same coin, the same soul? Alyssa is confronted with overwhelming decisions of the heart, the mind and for the kingdom that she can no longer ignore.

Each page, each sentence was laced with bright clashing colours that despite their light showed a darkness and insanity to them but in a non threatening way. Every aspect of this book was perfectly written to suit the characters and the tone of this thrilling read. Every comparison and description was done using the most absurd and yet perfect means delivering at each and every turn just the right picture, feeling and sensation to make me feel on the brink psychosis but without having completely lost track of where I am or what’s going on. The entire book dances and skirts on the edge of pure genius and madness, flirting with one whilst bluffing to be the other, when actually the whole time it was both all along and when you realize it it’s already too late and events have occurred. All the while the bigger picture is one step ahead of you, because to reach it would be to reach pure madness, or genius depending on which side of the line you’re on.

The best way I can depict to you this book is by quoting a line from the book itself: Unhinged is a truly awesome story with it’s “logic wrapped in nonsense”, that only a partially unstable but brilliant mind can unravel.
I fell in love head over heals with the vivdly coloured, darkly mysterious, dangerous and yet enthralling and enrapturing Splintered. And I was afraid that the sequel would fail to reach the very high set standards. But I can draw a sigh of relief and can tell you all that it is just as brilliant as it’s predecessor, and now all I want to do is dive back into this fantastic world and never come back. And you know what? It may be 02:00 am but I just may very well re-read the whole thing because it’s all so delicisouly dark and devious, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a little mad. All the best people are 😉

Verdict: I highly recommend this series to you all. Take a tumble down the dark brightly coloured rabbit hole, play with devious and alluring Wonderland creatures and put your mind to the test and see if you want to resurface from this read.

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 394
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Bookish Brits: Caroline’s Confessions

Posted by Caroline.

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