Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Something Wicked this way comes is a gothic novel by Ray Bradbury and was read for the Basics Challenge.
Writing a proper summary for this book is very difficult. Simply its a story of a strange carnival coming to town and two boys, Jim and Wills discovery of its horrific secret and purpose. This sentence summary doesn't do this story justice, as it touches on many themes such as the sins and follies of human kind, whether its the wish for youth (or age) or for immortality, on family, friendship or the soul.
To be perfectly honest i found this book to be a slow read, not because i found the story to be boring etc. or because i was 'making myself' read it but mostly due to the complexity and layers of the book which is reflected in Ray Bradbury's unusual (but amazing) writing.
Definitely a book i think that needs to be read several times, as I can imagine that each sentence and word of this novel was chosen for a specific reason. The style of the writing is so unusual and often confusing but reminds me of poetry/lyrics in the way it pulls you into the story.
I'm giving this book 8/10, because i'm still unsure of what to make of it? A book that needs time and a ponder, me thinks.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Pingo does just that. I really love the art by Brandon Dorman. He has brought an imaginary character to life through the beautiful renderings in this book.
The words of the story are fairly simple to read aloud to children. But then again, Brandon Mull does have a wonderful knack for making his stories family friendly. It is the most absolute cute story about a boy and his imaginary friend. At one time, the boy decides that Pingo needs to go away, that he doesn't need an imaginary friend anymore.
After that, Pingo became the boy's imaginary enemy throughout the rest of his life. It's a very adorable story that shows us that we should never give up our imaginations for anything.
I got this for my little one and I've been asked over and over again to read it aloud. If you need a really good picture book for your kids or whoever you think would like it, go ahead. Just remember, after you read this endearing story, Pingo stays with you for life. I mean, you don't want an imaginary enemy would you?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
From the cover:
SPARKS ARE IGNITING.
FLAMES ARE SPREADING.
AND THE CAPITOL WANTS REVENGE.
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol--a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her more is that she's not entirely convinced that she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn.
My overall thoughts:
When I received this book in the mail, I was very excited to be able to read it. However, I had to lay off because I knew that if I picked it up, I wouldn't be able to put it down. And that is exactly what happened when I got to reading it.
There are many book series or trilogies that get me hooked. Hooked enough to keep reading the series. But Suzanne Collins has me reeled in with the bait in order for me to see how the third and final book will bring this story to an end. If you are like me and love getting hooked so much much that you can never let go of the story, grab this book and start reading.
Don't get me started to tell you about the plot. I'm not giving anything away. I hate it when that happens and someone tells you the end of the story. I'm not that kind of reviewer. I will give hints most likely in my review, but I will not ruin the plot.
I love the twists and turns that Suzanne pulls us through as if we, the reader, were indeed the main character, Katniss. I don't know how many times I said out loud, "I did not see that coming." Or, "WHAT THE?!?" It was a strange thing for me to do something of the sort during a book. I am usually pretty good at guessing where a plot will run and how it get there, but Suzanne Collins takes a new twist to this story than I couldn't have ever guessed.
All I have wanted to do since reading The Hunger Games, is meet Suzanne and shake her hand and give her a standing ovation for her creations. I love her characters so much. The complexity makes my mind fumble over itself trying to wrap myself around them and what they are going through, in their minds and in their lives. I feel as if I am either Katniss Everdeen or I am such a close friend to her that she is practically my sister. I really felt like I could relate to Katniss at moments in the story. Like I did with The Hunger Games, I tried to keep up with Katniss and be one step ahead of the story. Obviously, it didn't work out so great.
Suzanne takes us even deeper into the romance territory with her male characters, Peeta and Gale. If you wanted a love triangle, you got it. Don't ask me to choose who my favorite guy is of the two and who Katniss should choose because I would tell you, "Both." I have only read of one male character written so self-sacrificing for the woman he loves as well as both these guys are and that was in A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott. I'll review that one later. All I have to say for now on these two boys is, "Move over Edward Cullen and Jacob Black. Here come Peeta and Gale."
Without a doubt, this book makes me feel the emotion, the sweat and the anxiety. I can really become part of it with how it is written in present tense and presented in a first person point of view. This book keeps me thinking about my own life and what I'm doing to keep it from going overboard. I love Suzanne Collins style of writing and will never get it out of my head since I will be reading and re-reading these books until the spine breaks. In that case, I'll just go get another copy.
I recommend, Catching Fire, for those who are not faint at heart. There are disturbing images that may enter your mind (for you vivid imagineers). But for those who have read The Hunger Games and couldn't put it down, just remember, when you pick up Catching Fire, make sure you have all day to yourself. Do what you need to do in order to be all by yourself with no disruptions or distractions as you dive back into the world of Panem.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I'll read anything that is in anyway half decent. I read alot of literary fiction, slipstream, 'weird' etc. I also have no problems reading genre fiction like YA, urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, historical etc. Genres that i'm not too mad about are mysteries, thrillers, horrors - but that being said if i'm recommended one - i will give it a read (and probably end up loving - e.g. John Connolly)
Things i like:
I'm a character driven reader, plot obviously is essential but i love to think and examine the underlining motives/reasoning of characters (did i mention i'm a psychology person aka psych). I love themes too and unusual concepts or experimental ways of writing - essentially outside of the box stuff. I also like shades of grey in writing, where it isn't obvious who the true villian is, or if it is obvious the 'villian' is extremely complex and not a cardboard cutout.
That being said, i always enjoy reading well written fiction - whether its literary or genre - whether its character or plot driven. Reading (and writing) is a subjective art. I might hate something which everyone will go GaGa over.
10 stars - Books that make me sick because they are so good that they tear my self-confidence as a writer to shreds! I will never be this good - damn talented people
5 stars - meeh! Alright but nothing to write home about. Basically a once reader which will eventually be donated to local library/charity shop to make room for 10 stars books.
1 star - i didn't get past the first chapter and if i did - my eyes are now bleeding from the awfulness. More than likely i won't even bother reviewing said book - not worth the energy.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I'm a little bit behind on my reviews, folks, so I'm hoping to get a lot of them up for you over the next couple of weeks. I'm also going to add a couple more things to the site - review criteria, etc.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
I'm happy to review most genres of books, although my favourites are urban fantasy, paranormal romance, fantasy and historical romance. If it has some supernatural element to it, I will often be interested. For the most up-to-date idea of what I'm reading, have a look at what I've reviewed recently, or my wish list on amazon (here). I accept both print and e-books, but print will be prioritised. Contact me at ailsa (dot) floyd (at) yahoo (dot) com
Emily's Review Policy & Grading system
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So as a graduation treat i bought a load of books, one of which was Charlaine Harris' omnibus edition of her Sookie Stackhouse series. I opened the page of 'dead until dark' this morning and have just read the first book! Brilliant and such a fun read. Definitely a guilty pleasure to read. Although i imagine everyone in the entire universe has read these books already - i highly recommend them to all, especially vampire fans.
My only thing is the back said 'move over bella. sookie stackhouse is here' - its really really important to remember (especially twilight fans who believe this series is a twilight knockoff) that these books were published 2001 and have won awards etc. so my recommendation to twilight fans is don't go in judging the book - sit back, relax and enjoy the ride because this books is 'fun' and such a great read!
Monday, November 9, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
From the back cover:
Things to do:
1) Infiltrate rival vampire cult and assassinate leader
2) Get rid of demon houseguest
3) Ditch the hot mage stalker
4) Betray family
In a world where being of mixed blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn’t really fit in. And being an assassin – the only profession fit for an outcast – doesn’t help matters. But she’s never brought her work home. Until now.
Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex, and threatens the fragile peace between the vampires and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she’s on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life-changing, but together, they could be fatal.
I’d been ‘hmm’ing and ‘hah’ing about buying Red-headed stepchild for months, since it first came out in the summer, and now I wish I’d got it sooner.
The action starts straight away, with Sabina’s world being pulled apart from the very first chapter, where she shoots her friend because she’s been told he’s a traitor. It’s never made clear what the relationship between Sabina and David was, but it was obviously close, because the echoes of this incident follow her through the novel, as she’s led to question everything she’s lived with.
I was a little bit surprised that Sabina had followed her orders with such unquestioning obedience for so long, but when her illusions break, boy, do they do it in a big way, and I can’t wait to see how revelations In this book affect her in book two, The Mage In Black. The early chapters brought through such a strong picture of what Sabina was like, her bold, kick-ass attitude staying constant throughout the novel.
My favourite secondary character was the mage Adam. (What is it with hot guys called Adam? Several of my favourite fictional guys are called Adam.) I loved the mystery of him from the moment Sabina met him in a bar. I don’t think we really got to see much of him in this book, but I think ‘The Mage In Black’ means we’ll get to see more of him in that book. ;-) And I like the blossoming romance between these two characters – it develops at a sensible pace for their prejudices and suspicions.
The plot moves quickly, and as usual with a good book it kept me up well past my bedtime! There were so many twists and turns, so many exciting things for the characters to deal with, but unlike some novels, the reader can still keep up, which is another great point in this novel’s favour. It was also good to see vampires pitted against something new – the mages. I also love the way their hair colour identifies vampires, and the shade shows how old they are. Little things like this make it a very well-built world, and I’m sure the sequels will be just as strong.
The ending was satisfying, too. Ms Wells has found the balance between a drawn out end that goes on too long, and the sudden stop that leave you wondering what happened. It tied up the important bits, answered some last minute questions, and left me desperate for the sequel.
Overall, I’m giving this 8/10 stars. Vampire fans should add this to their TBR piles, and Ms Wells is definitely one to watch for the future!
Book 2, The Mage In Black, comes out in April next year.
Jaye has very kindly agreed to do an interview with us here at the Book Bundle. If you get questions to me quickly, I can include them in the interview. Look out for it soon!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
From the back cover:
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I absolutely love the opening line of this Novel,
"Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love"
The Gargoyle is the story of a young man fighting for his life, after a horrific accident, which has ended his pornographic cocaine driven lifestyle and made him into a monster. Enter - Marianne Engel, a schizophrenic, who believes they have meet in a previous life and are destined to be together.
Through her naration, we travel from Norway to Japan, and through the middle ages charting the tragic ending of their previous love affair. Anderson expertly allows these shifts from past to present, without losing the reader and sucking us deeper into the world of Marianne.
Combining mystery and mysticism, events unfold which are left unquestioned, which gives this book an air of magic realism. The concept and development of the characters and their stories is done very well, with this story remaining with you for days after being read.
Definitely one of my favourite books, i give it 9 stars. Although i thought this book was exceptionally, I felt that there was something lacking - a 'je n'ai sais quoi' which i never put my finger on.
Hello, faithful readers, if you haven't given up on us. I'm sorry for the lack of posts - I've been away. (I still am, in fact, but I've got nice free internet here, and I wanted to post something.) Normal posting will resume on Wednesday/Thursday, once I've caught up with the time zones again. I've got a lot of reviews to share with you guys.
In the mean time, I have a question for you. What would you like to see on the blog?
More reviews? More interviews? More contests/giveaways? More about us, the people writing your reviews?
I'm going to put this in a poll on the side of the blog, but I'd love to 'hear' your opinions in the comments, too.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
1) What made you go for short stories and how long have you been writing seriously? Did you ever consider writing novels?
Ever since I could write, I have. For me writing is a necessary process in making sense of the world and my own inner landscape. I write to find meaning and, where none can be found, to create it. However, I started pursuing writing as a serious career in 2005. Stories came to me, and I wrote them down in as many words as it took to tell them. I had no real designs as far as length. If they were short, it was because they wanted to be. That being said, I have always loved short forms of both poetry and prose. There is something about capturing the precise and poignant moment; about creating the most lasting impression in the fewest words that I find wholly gratifying. I do periodically try to manifest a novel, mostly after having been asked again when I am going to write a novel. Conversely, I don't know that I have ever heard a novelist asked when they are going to start writing short stories. To date, all my attempts at novel writing have resulted in more short stories. I think if I wanted to force the issue, I could, but I doubt I'd be proud of the results
2) How do you go about finding markets for your stories? Do you start with one in mind, or look once the story is finished? If both, which do you think is the more successful method?
I write the stories that come to me, the things that inspire and interest me and clamor in my head to be told. There is a quote attributed to the Aborigines of Australia that says, "The big stories are always hunting the right person to tell them." I believe that and I tend to think of stories as gifts, rather than commodities. I always write and fall in love with my stories first. The marketing comes afterwards, and it is a matter of finding the right home for each beloved story, rather than trying to fashion a story to fit a particular kind of home
The question of success is an interesting one. I am notoriously awful at writing to a theme or to preset parameters, because for me the process of writing is much more organic than mechanical. Writing for a specific market isn't particularly successful for me because I end up with a story I'm not that passionate about. I wrote it for someone else, rather than myself, and as a result, it isn't that good.
However, when I write for myself, to tell myself the story I want to know the ending to, and then look for a market, I have great success in placing it. Initially, it may take more effort to find a market that fits, but the results are almost always a sale. I consider writing what I want and selling it much more successful than writing what someone else wants and selling it. And yes, I still feel that way even when I get paid less for not writing whatever is the trend in the more popular markets
3) Where do you get your inspiration from?
It might be easier to answer "Where don't I get my inspiration from?" I have more ideas tucked away in notebooks than I could write in ten lifetimes. It is a rare day that passes without giving me some idea for a story. However, some of my favorite sources for inspiration are my kids, life experiences, nature, fairy tales, ancient mythology, reading, travel, and my dreams
Dreams are an especially lucrative mode of inspiration for me. Many of my short stories were written after just waking up from vivid dreams. Off the top of my head, "A Speck in the Universe," "The Moth Collector's Daughter, "Sheep Women and Dog Boys," and "The Bus to Nostalgia" were all inspired by dreams. Stories born out of dreams often fall into the category of magical realism, which is a genre I very much like to read and write. Dreams work in archetypes and symbolism, just as storytelling does. Joseph Campbell wrote that "Dreams are private myths. Myths are public dreams."
4) Tell us a little bit about why you like writing about magical, mythical themes.
I think of myth and magic as the hieroglyphics of the human psyche. They are a special language that circumvents conscious thought and goes straight to the subconscious. Non-fiction uses the medium of information. It tells us what we need to know. Science fiction primarily uses the medium of physics and mathematics. It tells us how things work, or could work. Horror taps into the darker imagery of the psychology, telling us what we should fear. Fantasy, magic and myth, however, tap into the spiritual potential of the human life. Their medium is symbolism, truth made manifest in word pictures, and they tell us what things mean on a deep, internal level. I have always been a meaning-maker. I have always been someone who strives to make sense of everything and perhaps that is where my life as a storyteller first began. Life doesn't always make sense, but story must. And so I write stories, and the world comes right again.
5) Is it hard for you to keep the stories short?
No. In fact, lately I've been writing and publishing quite a bit of flash fiction, which has helped me learn to better hone and edit my longer works. I haven't yet written any twitter fiction, but there are some great new markets for it out there, and I hope to try my hand at it soon
There are those who argue that short stories and short forms are a dying breed, but I would disagree. I think with the popularity of reading over the internet, shorter forms, which are easier on screen-weary eyes and appealing to a fast-paced electronic culture, are probably more in demand than ever. I am also repeatedly told that no one can make a living writing short stories. I suppose that depends on how you define "a living." It is generally very difficult to become wealthy writing poetry, or painting, or dancing, or even writing novels, for that matter. Thank goodness artists for centuries have been ignoring that brutal fact and creating what fulfills them anyway.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Ok, i have read numerous books on writing. I have stopped midway through many, my eyes and mind drained and befuddled from terminology and small print and i walk away with a terrible feeling of trepidation - that i will never be good enough to actually write a book (and remember all this nitty things that are so important - pov, climax, development etc.)
Wandering one day, i saw this little book, i picked it up, bought it and began to read it on the train home and i didn't stop till i was completely finished. It now sits by my bed (in a very honoured position) between my Stephen King 'on writing' and 'elements of style'.
In humorous, short anecdotes and tips, this book outlines all the things a person can do WRONG, and strangely enough its one of the most positive writing books i've read because its advice is sensible, practical and the examples portray clearly what they mean.
In 255 pages, and 200 mistakes Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark take you from Plot to how not to sell a novel, with lots of great information in between AND with lots of humour too!
So, when i was reading through and saw about ten things that i was doing wrong, i actually laughed, and nodded my head to myself - sniggering at my stupidity because through their amazing fun and friendly style, mistakes are shown and criticism is offered in a easy to swallow form (especially to the hyper sensitive newbie).
Definitely ten out of ten and light years ahead of many 'how to' books! This book is worth every cent!
For more information : http://www.hownottowriteanovel.com/
Monday, September 21, 2009
1) First off, when did you decide you wanted to write, and how did you come to write this novel? Where did you get the idea for Obedience from?
2) The plot twists are great - how hard was it for you to keep some information hidden, and lead the characters where they are supposed to go? I'm guessing you must have had a very good plan. Were there times when you missed things, or did most of it come out right first time?
3) Can you tell us a bit about your next book? Is it in any way a sequel to Obedience?
4) I'm dying to know - what happens to Brian after the end of Obedience?
5) Did you ever have doubts about or trouble being published? How did you get your agent & publisher?
6) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Friday, September 18, 2009
WHEN WRITERS BLOG: An interview with Jon Gibbs by gapyeargirl123
On January 11, 2009, novel and short story writer, Jon Gibbs, made the debut post on his online journal. Aside from his long-suffering wife, Denise, only one other person read the entry.
Now, thanks to features like the regular Friday links to interesting posts by writers, agents and editors; oddball competitions like the Meager Puddle of Limelight Awards, and tongue-twisting acronyms like the one for IPAFPFYOJOJB (International Pimp a Favorite Post From Your Own Journal on Jon’s Blog) Day, An Englishman in New Jersey, receives over 1,000 visitors a month. Not bad for a virtually unpublished writer.
After much begging and pleading, we finally agreed to ask Jon a few questions about his work, his blog and why he believes most writers should have an online journal too.
TBB: Wouldn’t a writer’s time be better spent working on stories and books rather than on a blog?JON: It’s true that developing an online journal takes time and effort, but in my opinion, the benefits are well worth it. Aside from the fact that a blog can help you get your work seen by new readers, there’s a wealth of knowledge and writing know-how on the web. How much would you pay for helpful advice from successful authors, agents and editors in your genre? An online journal gives you access to people from all around the world. Many of them share their knowledge and experience on their blogs, for free.
TBB: When should a writer start blogging, and which service should they use?
TBB: How often do you post entries?
JON: I try to post a minimum of four times a week.
TBB: Most entries on your blog are about writing. Where do you get your ideas?
JON: All writers have thoughts and experiences worth sharing, whether the theme is ‘Don’t make the same dopey mistake I did’ (like a lot of my own posts), or about how he/she approaches the craft. I also get ideas from my friends’ blogs. The inspiration for one of my most visited posts came from reading about someone else’s bad experience at a critique group.
TBB: What can someone do to get more people reading their blog?
JON: I’d say the most important thing is to write about what interests you. Different things work for different people, but if you have a passion for something, coming up with good posts on that subject shouldn’t be hard.
Invite discussion. Let’s say you’re a writer, blogging about your latest work-in-progress. Try adding “How about you?” at the end of the post. Those three little words make a world of difference to a blog entry. They show readers you want to talk to them, not at them.
Have fun! If you don’t enjoy writing your blog, how can you expect people to enjoy reading it?
TBB: What shouldn’t a blogger do?
Don’t be boring. Better no post at all, than a procession of uninteresting entries. That particularly applies to writers. If people find your journal dull, they may assume your writing is too.
Don’t ignore people. You’d think this was obvious, but a surprising number of bloggers seem to feel they don’t need to acknowledge those readers who take the time to post a comment on their journal. Maybe it’s just me, but for a writer, I think that’s the equivalent of saying, ‘Please don’t ever read a story or buy a book of mine.’
Don’t be afraid to post off-topic once in a while. My journal is mostly about writing, but I often throw in something on a different subject.
TBB: Which of your writerly blog posts are you most proud of?
JON: Hmm, I got a lot of good feedback for ‘The Critiquee’s Charter’ so let’s go with that.
TBB: What’s happening with your novels?
JON: I’m currently putting the finishing touches to my sci-fi thriller, Waking up Jack Thunder. My MG urban fantasy, Fur-Face, is under consideration with a publisher at the moment.
TBB: Most of your short stories are flash fiction (less than 1,000 words), is that deliberate?
JON: Yes. More and more people read (or listen to podcasts) on the web. With that in mind, it’s good for writers to have their stories available at the click of a button. I do submit to print markets, but for me, I’d rather sell my flash fiction to an online publisher.
TBB: Where can people find your writing on the web?
JON: I only have two 100-word stories online at present. They’re linked from my website, A Cat Of Nine Tales.
TBB: Final question: Where do you find time amongst all the things you have going on in your blog to actually write stories?
JON: I’m supposed to write stories too?
My old gran used to say, ‘You don’t find time, you make time’. Writers make time for pitch/query letters. They do that because they want people to read their work. A good blog will help you achieve that too. Rather than ‘Where do you find the time?’ a better question would be ‘Is it worth the time?’ to which my answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’
An active member of both The Garden State Horror Writers and The Monmouth Creative Writing Group, Jon Gibbs is the founder of the New Jersey Author’s Network. He can usually be found hunched over the laptop in his kitchen. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on. If you decide to visit his blog, tell him we sent you.