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Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: The Hope That Starts


Title: The Hope That Starts

Author: Heidi Hutchinson

Genre: NA Romance

Reviewer: Aly

Book Blurb: 
If there's one thing Zelda Fitzpatrick is good at, it's fandom. She can out-geek the geekiest. Her devotion knows no bounds. Her love is true, her motives pure. Oh, and she's also a talented freelance photographer, newly hired to go on the road with one of her favorite bands, Double Blind Study. All she has to do is not ruin this opportunity with her nerdy references (which are in abundance) or her devout klutziness. And she probably shouldn't fall madly in love with lead guitarist, Harrison O'Neil... who is taken. Unfortunately.

Review:
YAY IT’S HARRISON’S STORY! Alright so I was super excited to get the chance to read The Hope that Starts because Harrison was a sweetheart in the previous books and I just love him so much! He’s such a sweetie and sigh, I’m gushing a bit.

But in the prologue we see a different Harrison from the one that we usually see. This Harrison is introspective, sad and just not his usual happy-go-lucky self. It was different and appropriate for what’s going on. Not to mention as I said you see a different side to him.

Zelda was also my kind of character. She’s a self-proclaimed fangirl, and all of the mentions of Doctor Who and several other fandoms made me desperately want to rewatch those shows or movies. If only because I recalled exactly what she was talking about and it made me crave to watch it myself.

There is also a bit of an update on previous characters, which is much appreciated.

There were characters that I loved to hate and it gave me something to focus on. There were a couple of times that I wanted to smack Harrison because he was totally missing the obvious on purpose and that just frustrated me beyond belief.

The plot was easy to follow and didn’t have anything that was too crazy. No explosions or anything like that. The writing continued to impress me and was easy to read.

If you love rock star romances then you should definitely check out The Double Blind Study. I can’t really choose a favorite out of the series but Harrison is definitely towards the top!

Rating:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Spotlight: Death Wish


Title: Death Wish

Author: Megan Tayte

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Reviewer: Aly

Book Blurb:
IN SEARCH OF THE MEANING OF DEATH, SHE’LL FIND THE MEANING OF LIFE. 

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense. 

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need. 

As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power. 

What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death. 

To believe the impossible.

Review:

This book was definitely dark, or at least had a very dark start. The darkness didn’t go away entirely but it did diminish some. I think Megan Tayte captured the grief and the darkness of Scarlett really well at the beginning of the book. Then you start moving away from the grief a bit and get to know Scarlett but not the Scarlett before she was affected this way but the Scarlett she is becoming. It’s great to see this growth. It certainly talked about a lot of the questions people have after a death like that and I think it handed the issue tactfully without going overboard or doing anything to make readers uncomfortable.

The first person perspective was something I was neutral about with a slight leaning towards liking it. I’m not a huge fan of this perspective but in Death Wish it seemed to fit and I liked getting Scarlett’s perspective. I would have loved to have some peeks into Jude’s or Luke’s brains, mostly Jude’s just so when he got cryptic it would be easier to decode.But it did allow some mystery to remain. You learned quickly about the powers that she possesses. But at the same time there was still something to be figured out.

The ending was marvelous but horrible at the same time. There was such a cliffhanger that I wanted to know more right away. And that’s not possible at the moment. So now I’m curious as to what will happen especially because I loved the characters and I want them to have a happy ending. Every one of them. Although I know if they do it will be a hard road. Because otherwise there wouldn’t be a book right?

Overall, Death Wish was a great read, especially if you enjoy Young Adult Paranormal Romance.

Rating:




And now . . . an interview with the wonderful 
Megan Tayte!

 I know that this is probably a cliché question, but I’m going to ask it anyways J What inspired you to start writing?

My grandmother. I was very young when I developed a passion for reading, and one day I asked her how books got made and by whom. Once she explained, that was it: from that day forth ‘author’ was the only job for me.

Of course, deciding to write books was one thing, actually doing it was another. It took many years, a lot of practice and a good deal of soul-searching for me to reach a point where I put pen to paper. Even then, I had several books published under my professional name before I felt I was a ‘proper’ author and was ready to write what I really wanted to write: The Ceruleans.


 Is there something you must need in order to write? (i.e. a cup of coffee or music in the background)

Light. In daytime, I write best at the window – whether at home in my writing room, which overlooks the garden, in a cosy cafe or in the airy lounge of a local hotel. Writing al fresco is even better – on a bench overlooking parkland, a lake or the sea. On a dark day, or if I’m writing early in the morning or at night, I need soft lamplight and plenty of it, and when I’m writing an atmospheric scene, I often light candles.

What draws you to the genre you write?

I’ve always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. Anyone who’s fallen in love, held a newborn baby or looked at a rainbow knows there is more to life than what is concrete and definable.
I grew up knowing loss, and I think that is where my belief in there being something more stems from. What child wants to think that someone they love has ceased to exist? Faith is essential.

That said, I don’t write hardcore paranormal fiction. I class my writing as romance, fundamentally, with just an edge of paranormal – the paranormal element isn’t what drives the story; the relationships between characters are at the heart.

 If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?

I’ve always been fascinated by Erik, the twisted genius in Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera, but to meet him in person may be somewhat chilling. Perhaps Nancy from Dickens’ Oliver Twist then – to tell her to leave her vile man and run as far and as fast as she can before Bill Sikes can bludgeon her to death.


Do you think that it’s true that each character in a novel reflects some bit of the author?

Perhaps not every single character, but certainly some. Because the best writing comes from a place of personal experience, and so you instinctively give your characters traits that you understand. So, for example, my heroine Scarlett is like me in some ways: independent at a young age, happy enough in her own company, sensitive when it comes to emotions, and definitely not at ease in a loud, crowded nightclub.

But, crucially, no character is a representation of you, the author – each is very different. A big part of the fun (and the challenge) of writing is navigating territory that’s new to you. In Death Wish, for example, Scarlett is determined to conquer her fear of the ocean and learn to surf. Eventually, she becomes a pretty kick-ass surfer. That’s not me at all: I’d remain as Scarlett is at the start of the book – bobbing about on the waves, clinging to a surfboard for dear life and in dire need of rescue. Ideally, by a very hot surfer, of course.
                                                                                                  

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate, every time! Did you know you can grow chocolate-scented flowers now? Mmm.

 Do you outline?

Yes, extensively. But then I give myself permission to go off course when I feel like it and try a new direction. So by the end of the book the outline is generally covered in additions and amendments, and that feels right to me: a pristine sheet would be too boring, too rigid.

What, in your opinion, makes a character “interesting”?

Their flaws and their quirks. Perfect, ‘normal’ characters are dull and flat and impossible to connect to. I’m interested in characters that feel real – that tell a fundamental truth. I love characters who battle inner demons, who see the world differently, who inspire and challenge.

In The Ceruleans, the character of Cara was the most fun to write because she isn’t defined by her disability, but is feisty, opinionated and intelligent: 

Life was never dull with Cara. She was always upbeat, with a refreshingly open perspective on the world (‘See that homeless guy? Yep, the one selling the Big Issue. Yes, the one with the big beard and the scars. Hot, isn’t he?’)...

How many people see the beauty in a scarred homeless guy?

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Write a lot, read a lot, dream a lot and smile a lot – there’s so much to smile about!

   Anything else you would like readers to know about you? Thanks!

I love connecting with readers and fellow romantics. You can find me online at:



About the Author
Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. 'Write, Megan,' her grandmother advised. So that's what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan writes the kinds of books she loves to read: young-adult paranormal romance fiction. Young adult, because it's the time of life that most embodies freedom and discovery and first love. Paranormal, because she's always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And romance, because she's a misty-eyed dreamer who lives for those 'life is so breathtakingly beautiful' moments.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood's county, Nottingham. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a paleontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: The Tale of Nottingswood


Title: The Tale of Nottingswood

Author: J R Young

Genre: Steampunk/Dystopian Novelette 

Review:

Think "Dr. Suess on steroids" and you basically have The Tale of Nottingswood. And I say this in a complimentary manner, by the way.  How Young managed to get a whole freakin' novelette to rhyme is beyond me, considering my rhyming skills are basically limited to "roses are red and violets are blue, and I don't remember the rest what do I do?"  

The Tale of Nottingswood is a delightful read suitable for all ages--something both children and adults and everyone else in between can enjoy. The story revolves around a pair of siblings whose lives are turned upside down when they discover a strange creature bundled up in a blanket with a magical tabloid. The story has a fairytale-esque feel to it . . . with a slight steampunk influence that can really be seen in the second half of the story.

The illustrations by the lovely Amelia Grace are also wonderful--they really bring the story to life! Check out some of the pics below:

Such a quaint looking village!

Yep, definitely see the steampunk-ness here

One thing I do think I should mention is that one should not read this book in one sitting--or at least I couldn't do that myself else the words started getting twisted in my head as the rhymes began to blur. For me, I found the best way to enjoy this book was to read it in 15-20 minute chunks . . . allows me to spend more time appreciating the story, rhyme, and pics without feeling overwhelmed. Also, not sure if this holds true for everyone, but when I read, I always hear a little voice inside my head reading out loud the words. Funny thing is, that little voice inside my head started reading singing to a little tune in time to the rhymes! It was weird--but quite fun, to be honest.


All in all, The Tale of Nottingswood was a fun, lighthearted read--the perfect book to add to your summer reading list!

Rating: