Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sweet Venom Blog Tour - Tera Lynn Childs on inspiration and writing!


Sweet Venom Blog Tour

I’m lucky enough to have Tera Lynn Childs on the blog today! With the release of her latest YA novel Sweet Venom now available in the shops, I asked if she would write post and tell us all a little bit about where she gets her inspiration from. And also what her general day-to-day writing process is like for each book. Hope you enjoy! Over to Tera.
 

Tera

My ideas come from everywhere. Ask a writer where she gets her ideas and chances are she’ll reply, “Where don’t I get my ideas?” I’ve found inspiration in a reality TV show title, another book, a newspaper article… everywhere. Getting ideas is the easy part. The hard part is turning them into books.

The process is a little different for each book, but it generally goes something like this:

·         Think up with most brilliant idea ever.

·         Brainstorm. Make notes about scenes and characters, plot points and black moments, kisses and side kicks. (Note: This usually involves lots of post-its, index cards, highlighters, and white boards. And lots of gazing out windows, staring at ceilings, and drinking caffeinated beverages. This part is the most fun.)

·         Decide that enough time has been wasted on thinking.

·         Finally start to write.

·         Write blissfully for about two and a half minutes.

·         Come to a difficult word/sentence/paragraph/scene/all of the above.

·         Start at blinking cursor until inspiration strikes or coffee runs out.

·         Push through the tricky part using self-bribery, Write or Die, or sheer willpower.

·         Keep writing until it feels there are 50 pages written.

·         Check page count.

·         Realize there are only 12 pages written.

·         Get frustrated and stop writing.

·         Feel guilty for not writing.

·         Make character collages instead. Cutting up magazines and pasting images onto paper is way more fun than writing. Plus, productive!

·         Get inspired by finished character collages. Remember why idea seemed so brilliant in the first place.

·         Go back to writing, pushing through the horrid parts and making notes about how to fix them later, until The End.

·         Print it all out and start revising from the beginning.

·         Revise and repeat until novel is as close to brilliant original idea as humanly possible.

·         Click send.
 
Some books make this process easier than others. And some make me want to pull my teeth out with a tweezers rather than write another page. Sweet Venom was somewhere in between. Writing three first person characters in a trilogy (with three individual stories and three overarching stories told across three books—eep!) was probably the hardest writing project I’ve tackled yet.

Every time I got frustrated or stuck or generally freaked out about the scope of it all, I pulled out my character collages and reminded myself just who Grace, Gretchen, and Greer are and why I’m telling their stories.

You can check out her character collages below:
 
 
 
How awesome are they? Thanks for sharing this with us Tera - and for those of you who haven't yet had the chance to read Sweet Venom, what are you waiting for? It is another faboulous, light hearted read that that is full of fun, adventure and fiesty heroines! Deffinetly one to check out!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Swan Kingdom - Book Review


The Swan Kingdom – Book Review
Zoe Marriott
YA Fantasy
Synopsis:
Shadows fall across the beautiful, lush kingdom after the queen is attacked by an unnatural beast, and the healing skills of her daughter, Alexandra, cannot save her. Too soon the widowed king is spellbound by a frightening stranger, a woman whose eyes reflect no light. In a terrifying moment, all Alexandra knows disappears, including her beloved brothers, leaving her banished to a barren land. But Alexandra has more gifts than she realizes as she confronts magic, murder, and the strongest of evil forces, and is unflinchingly brave as she struggles to reclaim what is rightfully hers.
Review:
As many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of fairy tale retellings and I’m ashamed to say that The Swan Kingdom has sat patiently on my bookshelf for far longer than it should have. It truly is a magical read and one that I wish I had picked up much sooner.
The story follows Alexandra, a princess of a prosperous kingdom who – when she’s not learning healing and magick - spends her days frolicking around with her three older brothers. Yet after her mother is murdered and her father be-spelled by a strange young woman, an evil magic corrupts the kingdom and zaps the life from the land. But with her brothers missing and her father’s mind broken, there is no one to protect Alexandra from her new step-mother and she finds herself cast aside and sent to the far corners of the country where she can no longer be a bother.
But as time passes by, Alexandra stops feeling helpless and begins to unlock the door to her own incredible powers. Knowing she alone has ability to restore balance to the world, she takes up the burden and sets off on an epic journey to banish the evil, save her brothers and reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. But with each passing day the evil grows stronger and with time against her, Alexandra will sacrifice everything she has to protect those she loves, even if the cost is her life…
I’ll say now that I’ve read other books by Zoe Marriott and loved each and every one of them. Her prose is beautiful, with vivid descriptions and colourful imagery but what I love most about her writing is the flaws and vulnerability of each of her characters.
For example The Swan Kingdom is told from the view point of Alexandra and I found her to be a very relatable protagonist. Born the fourth child of the king, she is overlooked by her father, outshone by her brothers and falls short when compared to the beauty of her mother. Therefore it is no wonder that Alexandra feels small and trivial, an ugly duckling within a family of swans. However this also makes her both humble and shy and I loved watching how her character developed as slowly, throughout the book she became more independent and confident in herself.
The other characters were also very compelling. The relationship between Alexandra and her brothers was very poignant and real. The love interest Gabriel was sweet and charming and everything that a prince should be. And Zella (the wicked stepmother) was simply chilling and despite her character having been built out of classic clichés, Zella also came with a history and a reason behind her maliciousness to the point that, in the end, I felt deeply sorry for her. She really was a fabulous antagonist.
The plot takes place over a two year span and shows the compassion and bravery of a young girl who has only just started to grow into the great woman she is to become. With elements of love, trust and self-discovery, Zoe Marriott has put a new spin to ‘the wild swans’ fairytale while keeping true to the original story with her fairytale like prose and meaningful story.
Overall, a magical book that will keep you turning the pages until the happily ever after end! 4 stars!

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Also for those of you who are unfamiliar with Zoe Marriott’s books, she is an author I would definitely recommend to any lovers of YA Fantasy. You can also check out her blog HERE which is always worth a visit – particularly for any aspiring writers as her advice is priceless and her posts inspiring.



Monday, 17 September 2012

Immortal Beloved - Book Review

Immortal Beloved
Cate Tiernan
YA Paranormal
Book #1 of the Immortal Beloved trilogy
Synopsis:
Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.

Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.
Review:
This book is truly amazing and I really, really enjoyed it. While I must admit, it’s very different to anything I’ve read before and it did take me a few chapters to get into - I was soon completely hooked by the story. Based around the idea of immortality, the book contains elements of tragedy, drama, romance and self-discovery. A really fascinating read.
The story follows Natasya, a 559 year old immortal who has forgotten what it means to live a normal life. Going from party to party, she has spent the last few hundred years in an alcohol/drug induced haze that keeps each day fun and interesting – but lately she’s finding even her wild lifestyle a little monotonous. But then Natasya witnesses her best friend torture a mortal human for no reason other than for entertainment, and it wakes her up to the kind of life – and the kind of people - she’s choosing to have and spend time with.
Telling no one where she is going, Natasya decides enough is enough and runs away to America in search of a fellow immortal who she met many years ago. She soon finds herself in a small rural town and ends up at kind of sanctuary for wayward immortals. Here she learns to reacquaint herself with life and for the first time in years, she allows herself to remember the tragedy of losing her family. But her dark past will soon catch up her present and when Natasya accidentally befriends the person responsible for making her an orphan…
There were many great things about this book but my favourite would have to be Natasya’s character. At first I thought she was quite a shallow and party loving kind of person but as the story unfolds, you learn about the horrors and trials she’s suffered. The history she has been a part of and the many different lives and disguises she has lived in. They all shaped her into this sarcastic, clever and often, very sad and lonely person who in this story – just wants to find meaning in living life again.
The plot is very character driven and as the storyline is fairly complex, I did find the pace a little slow at times but ultimately I remained engaged in the story. I liked watching Natasya evolve as person and I enjoyed seeing how she overcame each new trial. The other characters were also very unique and interesting individuals – each trying to deal with their own problems and histories.
The romance in the story was also well written. From the beginning, Natasya’s attraction to sexy ex-Viking Reyn is undeniable – but unlike many YA romances, this one is a slow burn and comes with plenty of drama and shocking revelations. I can’t wait to see how things will develop between them in the next book.
So overall, a really great read and a fabulous start to what promises to be a fantastic new series. Dark and dramatic, Immortal Beloved is truly an amazing read! 4 stars!

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My Soul to Take - Book Review


My Soul to Take – Book Review
Rachel Vincent
Soul Screamer Series Book #1
YA Paranormal

Synopsis:
She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

Review:
It’s been a long time since I first read this book and recently re-reading it made me remember what a truly awesome book it is. With a fast paced story line, great characters and a steamy romance – My Soul to Take is a hard book to put down and offers a great start to the soul screamer series.
For the most part, Kaylee Cavanaugh has led a pretty normal life. Yet the night she and her best friend sneak out into a club she spots a girl and feels the overwhelming and unexplainable urge to scream (not the best reaction to have when the hottest guy in school is currently talking to you). But as Kaylee is to discover, her reaction is perfectly normal… for a banshee.
Now a whole new world of supernatural oddities opens itself up to Kaylee as she discovers the truth about what she is and, more importantly, what she’s capable of. Coming from a long line of Banshees, Kaylee has the power to sense when a person is about to die – a handy gift – considering that recently girls around town are dropping down dead from a seemingly unknown cause. So, aided by the mysterious bad boy Nash, Kaylee makes it her mission to discover just what, and who, is causing these girls to die, but it is a mission that may cost her her life…
There are so many great things about this book! Firstly, I think it’s refreshing to read a paranormal romance that isn’t about vampires or werewolves – and I have to say I loved all the banshee myth and legend that comes with this story. Additionally I also liked how Rachel Vincent portrayed the idea of grim reapers, writing that reaping is nothing more than a job, and like most job’s, it comes with both its perks and limitations.  (Also I think Tod sounds like a total hunk!)
The characters were also brilliant. Kaylee is fun heroine, full or moral obligation and teen hormones – she is very realistic and entertaining to read. Nash on the other hand is in many ways your typical bad boy, deep and dangerous with plenty of secrets with hints of a troubled past. Yet the chemistry between him and Kaylee is so obvious, and I loved the slow build up of their romance… they make a great couple J
Also the secondary characters were all interesting, each with their own troubles and secret agendas. Particularly within Kaylee’s family which was a mix of complicated relationships, hidden pain and half-truths. All of which tangled together with the plot to create an engaging and dramatic story.
Therefore if you haven’t all ready I totally recommend that you check out this book along with the rest of the soul screamer series. Rachel Vincent has truly taken the paranormal genre to a whole new level.  Freshly tantalizing, dramatic and completely addictive, My Soul to Take is screamingly good! 4 Stars!
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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Debutantes - Book Review


Debutantes – Book Review
Cora Harrison
YA Historical
Synopsis:
It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.
Review:
I really enjoyed Debutantes and found it to be a fun, light hearted read that transports the reader back to the glamorous age of the 1920’s. Full of vivid descriptions it shares the magical sheen of new technologies, risky fashions and scandalous love affairs unique to the time period. It is a must read for any fans of YA historical fiction!
Although the book is about all four of the Derrington girls, this story mostly focuses on the younger twin Daisy. A future film director to be – she is never far from her trusted camera and unlike her sisters, she cares little for the thought of marriage and fancy dances. However when the girls are offered the chance to go to London Daisy is excited by the prospect of the big city – even if she is only there to support her eldest sister Violet in finding a husband. But when Daisy uncovers a mysterious love letter dated from sixteen years ago, she opens the box to a world of best-forgotten family secrets that could change the lives of the Derrington girls forever…
I really enjoyed this book. Placed in a beautiful setting the descriptions were vivid and detailed and I felt completely immersed in the era of the 1920’s. The drastic changes in fashion and technology were very interesting to read – as were the reactions and difference in opinions between the younger and older generations.
The plot, however, I thought was a little predictable and I guessed most of the twists straight away – yet the story was still fun and held my attention throughout. Both well paced and expressively written, I think Cora Harrison has done a fantastic job in capturing the feel and vibes of the 1920’s.
 Also I liked how each character was unique, with the sisters all having distinct personalities and individual dreams. For instance, Violet secretly aspires to be an actress yet as the eldest of the four sisters, she sees it as her duty to marry well and provide for her family. The youngest sister Rose is quite melodramatic and romanticises everything to put into her stories (she wants to be a writer) and Poppy, Daisy’s twin sister wants nothing more than to own a jazz club and play music all day.
The secondary characters such as Daisy’s Godfather and Justin also contributed greatly to the book. Their scenes were often humorous, witty and in the game of ‘murder in the dark’ just downright fun!
 So overall, a thoroughly enjoyable read that I would recommend to younger teens and anyone who enjoyed books by Anna Godbersen such Bright Young Things or the Luxe series. Sassy, vibrant and scandalous, Debutantes brings together all the life and energy of the 1920’s.  3 ½ stars!

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