Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Something Wicked This way comes. . .

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

Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

I never thought I would read another vampire book after reading, The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.  However, I had heard so much about the Blue Bloods books by Melissa De La Cruz that I had to get the first two books.   First there is Blue Bloods and second there is Masquerade.  I will have to review the second later as I have just started to read it.
In Blue Bloods, Melissa does a great job bringing a society of vampires to life.  These vampires are not your typical vampires.  They can go out in the sun, they're not as pale as we think vampires to be, they don't glitter in the sun like diamonds, and their fangs aren't in the front of their mouth like traditional Dracula.  However, these are the creme de la creme of the vampire world.  These vampires own most of Manhattan, New York. 

The story is in third person and follows first and foremost, Schuyler Van Alen as she learns about being a Blue Blood and tries to figure out her life as a teenager with her best friend, Oliver, who is human.  But Melissa also shows us the story in other character views such as the new Texas transfer, Bliss Llewellyn who is also the daughter of a New York senator and Mimi Force, the most popular girl on private school, Duschesne's campus.

Along the way, we learn that vampires are fallen angels with Michael and Gabriel (the archangels) as their leaders to help them through their lives on earth.  Also, these vampires that Melissa has created always save a bit of their blue blood in order for them to reincarnate and return to life later on.  And they learn about Croatan or the thing that wiped out the Roanoke colony back when Plymouth was first established.

I have to say that I did enjoy the story Melissa De La Cruz has come up with.  However, I'm not into all the talk of Gossip Girl like stories.  Probably the best character this author has come up with in this story is Bliss.  Bliss is very down to earth and reminds me very much of how girls really react to their surroundings when they are in their teen years.  Mimi Force is way on the popular side with really no worries except how to plan the next big party and then there is Schuyler who is our main character, but on the opposite end of Mimi, being the most unpopular girl at school and dressing like a goth.  Nothing wrong with goths, I have nothing against them, but I see that I like Bliss because we see the conflict in her as she tries to choose which side to be on, Schuyler's or Mimi's.

I really do like the innovative take on vampires.  They are definitely new and the story really wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be.  She even ends it on a climactic point.  I think what could have made this story more interesting is smoother scene changes and more on the feelings on how these girls feel about being who they are.  I believe it would have added more depth to the story and to the characters themselves.  I'm not saying the story is really dry, I'm just saying that it has its high points but a lot of it is low points.  I have started the second book, Masquerade, and hope to enjoy it far more than I how I somewhat enjoyed Blue Bloods.

P.S. Sorry for the layout of this review...for some reason I can't get it to go the way I want it to look.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Awards & some general announcements

First of all, Tracey O'Hara (who's book I reviewed here) will be stopping by soon with either an interview or guest post - any preferences which? I'm also going to try and add a section at the top of the blog with a list of our 'coming soon' events.
The other thing I wanted to mention was, although it's still quite a way away, I want to do a giveaway when we reach 100 followers. I'm not certain about prizes yet, but I'm thinking of using a site like Book Depositry, so that I can keep it an international contest, and hopefully offer more prizes. There will be extra points if you're already a follower when the contest starts, so if you're reading but not yet a follower, this is maybe the time to press that button!

On to the award!
Tynga at Tynga's Urban Fantasy Reviews gave us the 'Honest Scrap' Award, which is for bloggers who write from the heart. The rules are to list 10 honest things about yourself, and pass it on to 10 other bloggers.
My 10 things:
1) I'm going to the French Alps on December 9th, to spend the ski season working in a small hotel.

2) I'm going to Edinburgh University next September to study Ancient & Medieval History, although I think I'm going to do some English/Literature bits too.

3) I live in the middle of nowhere, my primary school had 20 kids when I started, 50 when I left. The high school is a 20 minute drive away, and has a total of 500 pupils. If you want to get to the city, (& more importantly the nearest big bookshop) it's a two hour drive.

4) I got to be one of the 'cub reporters' at the launch of HP 6, the Half Blood Prince. It was a fantastic experience, and my signed book is kept carefully out of harms way.

5) I always do home made Christmas cards for my friends and family - I'm starting this year's batch this weekend.

6) This winter will be the first time I've lived away from home, as well as my first Christmas and birthday without my family.

7) My two favourite movies are 'I, Robot' and 'National Treasure'.

8) I've got two dogs called Malin & Brodie. Malin is the shipping area closest to where we live. We didn't name Brodie, because he was rehomed to us.

9) I'm useless at tidying my room, but I always know exactly where everything is in the jumble on the floor.

10) I have two main screen names - gapyeargirl is fairly obvious - I'm a girl, on my gap year. The other is Daeonica, which is the name of a play in one of my favourite books, The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I chose that one when I was looking for something unique that no one else on forums would have already.

I nominate:

Thanks again, Tynga!

Pingo by Brandon Mull

I'm really picky when it comes to children's picture books because you can't just go out and pick some random story.  It has to be able to keep the child's attention with both the magnificent pictures and the words that go with them.

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

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read The Hunger Games, I suggest you not read this review.

From the cover:

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.
The Plot:
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.
The Characters:
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.

On My Wishlist

On My Wishlist is a new weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City. I have a huge wishlist, and I'm always adding to it, so I thought it would be a fun thing to join in with!

I thought I'd start with a couple of the books from my BookMooch wishlist that I really really want - of course, that's a lot of them, so I'm going to work my way down alphabetically week by week.
Spoiler free.

1) Midnight Rising, by Lara Adrian.
I love this series about the Breed. Along the lines of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, each book is about one member of the guardians, and how they find their Breedmate - a human woman marked with the shape of a teardrop falling into a crescent moon. This book is Rio's story, and while I'm not as interested in him as some of his companions, I'm looking forward to learning more about him, and seeing what happens to the rest of the gang next.

2) Storm Front, by Jim Butcher
I think these books sound quite interesting - I've read the first couple of chapters of this book, and I'd love to read the rest sometime.
Blurb, from the site: Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things -- and most of them don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a -- well, whatever.

There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get... interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

What's on your wishlists this week?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In My Mailbox

Once again, a late & extended edition, because it appears I can't spot Sundays as they whoosh past. Here are the books I've received recently.

Soulless, by Gail Carriger - won from Stephanie at Misfit Salon
Watchers in the Night, by Jenna Black - from BookMooch
The Eternal Kiss - an anthology of vampire stories, edited by Trishia Telep - bought in Borders, in Glasgow
Slave to Sensation, by Nalini Singh - bought in Borders, in Glasgow
Visions of Heat, by Nalini Singh - bought in Borders, in Glasgow
Undead and Unemployed, by Mary Janice Davidson - from BookMooch
Bound to Shadows, by Keri Arthur - bought in Forbidden Planet, in Glasgow

Also, I have a question for you guys. Are you interested in reviews for later books in a series? I've got books 5 & 6 of the Sookie Stackhouse series - would you be interested in reviews for books like that, that are quite far on in a series?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Emily's Reviewing Policy

Reviewing Books:

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.

Grading system

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.

Competition Winner!

Time to announce the winner of the contest!
I got Emily to help me decide, and we both agreed on the same person:


We loved the acrostic she wrote. Llehn, I'll be posting the books to you this week - sorry for the delay!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Night's Cold Kiss, by Tracey O'Hara

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.

I'd read several reviews for this book before it came out, so I was so pleased to find a copy of my own when I was in Canada. Here's what the back cover says:

For centuries war raged between the humans and Aeternus vampires - until courageous efforts on both sides forged a fragile peace. But the rogue Necrodreniacs will never be controlled - addicted as they are to the death-high... and bloody chaos.

Since witnessing the murder of her mother, Antoinette Petrescu has burned with fiery hatred for the vampire race, even for Christian Laroque, the noble, dangerously handsome Aeternus who rescued her. Now an elite Venator, Antoinette must reluctantly accept Christian's help to achieve her vengeance - even as he plots to use the beautiful, unsuspecting warrior as bait to draw out the bloodthirsty dreniacs.

As you all should've guessed by now, I'm a big fan of vampire romance stories, so you won't be surprised that I liked this book.

This story has a great opening chapter - readers are pulled straight into Antoinette's daily life, as she stalks then fights with one of the evil Necrodrenics, or just dreniacs for short. It's clear she's good at her job of hunting them. We also meet Christian, who is watching the lair Antoinette is about to attack. He's passingly curious about her, and fate soon leads them to be working together. The two are very different, and sparks fly immediately - despite the fact that they are working towards the same goal, they have very different motivations.

To start with, I didn't really like Antoinette as a person - she's very prejudiced against vampires, and, even if she thinks she has good reason for it, I hate prejudice. Christian and his friends soon make her reconsider, though, and her initial resentment of Christian turns to a passion that makes for some quite interesting situations.

This is essentially a murder mystery. They know who the bad guy is - it's tracking him that's the problem, and working out where the other bits and pieces fit in to the story. Just as big a part of the story, though (if not more) is the relationship between Christian and Antoinette. While it was a bit predictable that they would get together, I didn't mind that - I like that in these books, it's why I read them, so it wasn't an issue for me. It annoyed me a bit how much Antoinette fought against the relationship. She gets angry too quickly, and still lets her rage and prejudice get in the way.

I liked the relationship Antoinette formed with Viktor, Christian's best friend - they get quite close, and she lets herself be normal with him, and enjoys his company. I wished she could give that easy acceptance to Christian, too.

The story was very enjoyable, but there was something about the writing that just got to me a little bit. Something about it just didn't quite seem to click for me, but it wasn't anywhere near enough for me to put the book down, and I'll definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out. The book stands very well on it's own, so I'm curious about what will happen in the next book. There is a lot of unsettlement in the politics of Antoinette's world, so I'm hoping to read more about that, and see what becomes of some of their organisations after the revelations and events in NCK.

A good book for paranormal romance fans, although it is quite a dark story, I would definitely recommend this book. I give it 7 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ailsa's review policy (and other things)

Reviewing Books:
I'm happy to review most genres of books, although my favourites are urban fantasy, paranormal romance, fantasy, contemporary romance or historical. If it has some supernatural element to it, I will often be interested. I'm also very happy to read mystery stories. 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. I'm getting pickier just now about what I review, because I prefer to talk about books I've loved than books that just hit me as 'meh'. I've got a lot of books I've been buying for myself which I'm excited about, and I don't want to feel pressured to review other things over those ones. As I say above, I'm much more likely to be interested in something similar to those on my wishlist or what I've review recently.

Things I’ll try and talk about in a review:
Characters (whether they change over the book or not – they should); Plot (If it’s interesting, if it’s realistic in the world the author has built); Beginning (how quickly it gets going); Ending (how effective it is.)

Other Things That I Think Make a Good Book:
Characters: As I mentioned above, characters should change over a book. Sometimes this is more noticeable with a series, but there should always be something that’s clearly different at the end compared to the start.
If I care about the characters, that’s another good thing.
Beginning: Something that starts quickly, and gets me hooked quickly.
Ending: Are the main questions answered? I don’t mind a few things being left loose, but too many, and it’s not ok unless there’s a sequel.
Dialogue: If it seems natural, realistic.
Romance elements: Don’t make it happen too fast. I’m ok with a little bit of this, but I’m getting kind of fed up with it now.
Please note that a book can meet all of these criteria and I still won’t like it. The biggest thing that makes up a book review is opinion. Sometimes I hate books that meet these points, sometimes I love books that have nothing in common with the above list.

How I grade, on our 1-10 star system:

10/10 = absolutely fantastic, it ticks all the boxes for me, I’ll read it again and again, and take it to a desert island with me
5/10 = It was ok, but could have been a lot better. Didn’t really pull me in.
1/10 = Did not finish

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our Review Policies

Ailsa's review policy:
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

Charlaine Harris - Dead until Dark

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

In My Mailbox 4: double edition!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

So, last week I was too busy, and the week before I only had one book, so there are a lot of books this week.

So, books I got in the past couple of weeks!

Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries #6) by Charlaine Harris - bought from my local bookshop

The Lion of Sennet (Second Sons #1) by Jennifer Fallon - from BookMooch
Lord of Shadows (Second Sons #3) by Jennifer Fallon - from BookMooch

Swallowing Darkness (Merry #7?) by Laurell K Hamilton - bought from Waterstones
Pride (Faythe #3) by Rachel Vincent - bought from Waterstones

Evermore by Alyson Noel - won from My Favourite Books

Cry Mercy by Toni Andrews - from BookMooch
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire - from BookMooch

Phew! Loads of great books there, I've had a great time reading this week. What about the rest of you? Get anything cool? What was your favourite?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder folks that today is the last day to enter our competition for One Foot in the Grave & Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost! We still only have a few entries, so you've a good chance of wining! Just get your entry in by midnight GMT tonight. All details here: contest info

Monday, October 26, 2009

Interview: Jaye Wells

I'm thrilled to welcome Jaye Wells to the Book Bundle today! Urban fantasy fans will recognise her as the author of 'Red-Headed Stepchild' which was released earlier this year (you can read my review of it here).
Without further ado, here is the interview:

Ailsa: First of all, could you tell us a bit about your journey to publication, getting an agent etc? Did you ever have doubts about or trouble getting published?

Jaye Wells: I started writing fiction about four years ago. I took a writing class at a local community college and started my first book there. Red-Headed Stepchild was the third book I completed. I found my agent through the traditional route--by querying, sending a partial (50 pages of of the manuscript) and then a full. He read the full overnight and offered the next day. About a month later, after some revisions, he sent it out to several editors. About a week and a half later, there was an auction and I ended up signing a three-book deal with Orbit.

I don't think any writer goes through the path to publication without doubts. It's kind of part of the deal. It doesn't end once you get published either. Even published writers deal with rejection--either from editors or fans. The hardest part is to keep writing anyway. You have to have nerves of steel in this business.

A: Woah, so that was pretty quick once you queried that agent! That's great! Plotter or pantser? If you're a pantser, how far ahead do you plan things?

JW: I'm kind of both and neither. ;) My process is confusing even to me. But generally, I start out with a situation and a few scenes. Once I figure out what the story's about, I plot it out all the scenes, leaving myself enough room to pants it as I go. That sounds a lot easier than it is.

A: Do you use beta readers, or have a trusted critique partner who's with you all the way, or does it very with each project?

JW: I have beta readers who read the manuscript once I've done a couple good passes. They catch the high level story and character issues and I fix them. I've used critique groups before, but I found having someone read an almost-finished product is more effective for the way I write.

A: Did you make any rookie mistakes while you were submitting that you can look back on now and laugh about?

JW: Oh yes. One particular issue happened with a query letter. I'd seen a male agent speak at a writing event, and when I queried him I went on and on about how I saw him speak. It wasn't until after I sent the query that I realized I'd addressed the letter to "Mrs. (Agent's last name)." Not surprisingly I never heard back from him.

A: Oh no! Did you query widely, or were you targeting specific people/agencies?

JW: I'd queried a couple of projects before I submitted RHSC, so I had detailed notes on which ones seemed receptive, which ones got back in a timely manner, etc. From that list and further research, I queried about fifteen agents for the book. So I queried quite a few agents, but they were chosen for specific reasons.

A: Sabina was a fun character to read about - how much is she, or are any of the other characters, like you?

JW: All of my characters are like me in some way. Sabina's personality is probably most like mine, but there are some major differences and area where she's more exaggerated. I'm probably best described as a combination of Sabina and Giguhl. Yes, I understand this brings my sanity into question, but I'm okay with that.

A: Lol! Related to that, who was your favourite character, and who did you love to write about most?

JW: Obviously, I love Sabina because it's her story I'm telling. She's such a complex character to write. But I probably have most fun writing Giguhl. He gets the best lines and gives me a break from the heavy stuff Sabina's going through.

A: Can you tell us a bit about The Mage In Black? I'm really hoping for lots more Adam!

JW: The Mage in Black is much more magic-focused than Red-headed Stepchild, and it takes place in New York. Sabina's struggling to deal with the stragne mage culture and come to terms with the fall out from the betrayal of the first book. Giguhl gets involved in a special club and might find a love interest of his own. As for Adam, well, let's just say things there might be a few wrinkles coming in that relationship.

A: Argh! You're making me even more impatient for that book. Maybe I just shouldn't have asked. Finally, then, I know you have some great advice for writers on your blog. Could you share a couple of the most important things here for us?

JW: That's a toughie. I've got four years worth of unsolicited advice on that thing. ;) For aspiring writers, I recently listed my top ten tips for when you're just starting out. It's here: Click

A: Thank you very much for answering our questions!

Jaye's website can be found here, along with her blog.
Please leave a comment if you enjoyed the interview, or if you have any other questions for Jaye!

Also, remember that you still have time to enter our contest! See the post below this one for details.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Competition Time!

I know, I know, I'm two days late - I'm sorry!

This competition is in celebration of Halloween, so I wanted it to have monsters in. It just so happens that I have double copies of a couple of things sitting in my room, waiting for just such an occasion.
So, up for grabs this time:

Halfway to the Grave & One Foot in the Grave (books 1 & 2 in the Night Huntress series) by Jeaniene Frost!

These is one of my favourite series', so I'd love to share it with other people. But because it's two books, together, you have to work for it this time!

EDIT: please note that I've extended the deadline on this: it will now close on November 5th.

To enter, please complete this sentence: I would like to win because....

I'll be enlisting the help of a couple of people to choose a winner, and I think entertaining/imaginative answers will be the ones that catch our attention.

Just leave your answer in a comment, and remember to check back to see if you've won!
Contest is open until midnight, GMT, on November 5th, and winner will be announced as soon after that as we make a decision! Good luck, and I can't wait to see your entries.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red-headed Stepchild, by Jaye Wells

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.

Exciting news!

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

In My Mailbox 3: Ailsa's mailbox

This week:

1) The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud -> from BookMooch
2) Magic Bites (Kate Daniels no. 1), by Ilona Andrews -> bought, from the Book Depository
3) Magic Burns (Kate Daniels no. 2), by Ilona Andrews -> bought, from the Book Depository

I read Amulet in about 2nd year at school, and loved it, and wanted to re-read the series. Magic Bites & Magic Burns should have arrived before I went on holiday, so it was great to finally get hold of them (I accidently read book 3 first, so it's nice to have everything now). I can't wait for the next book in this series. A new favourite author.

Please vote in our poll, if you haven't already, to get a say in what you'd like to see more of in the blog.
Also, keep your eyes open on Tuesday, when we'll be launching a halloween competition! And this one, you're going to have to work for ;-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Night Life, by Caitlin Kittredge

From the back cover:
Welcome to Nocturne City, where werewolves, black magicians, and witches prowl the streets at night...
Among them is Luna Wilder, a tough-as-nails police officer whose job is to keep the peace. As an Insoli werewolf, Luna travels without a pack and must rely on instinct alone. And she's just been assigned to find the ruthless killer behind a string of ritualistic murders - a killer with ties to an escaped demon found only in legend... until now.
But when she investigates prime suspect Dimitri Sandovsky, she can't resist his wolfish charms. Pack leader of a dangerous clan of Redbacks, Dimitri sends her animal instincts into overdrive and threatens her fiercly guarded independence. But Luna and Dimitri will need to rely on each other as they're plunged into an ancient demon underworld and pitted against an expert black magician with the power to enslave them for eternity.

I heard a lot about this author before I picked up the book, which led to mixed feelings while I was reading it. I wonder if I set my expectations too high, because it never quite hit the nail on the head for me.
The book opens with Luna looking at a grisly murder scene. It pulled me in, and I read the first chunk in one sitting. Luna was an interesting main character - I liked her, and I liked how she dealt with the issues presented to her over the course of the story. She was fun, and I could relate to her, which for me is important in a book.
I also liked Dimitri - very sexy, and a bit (ok, a lot) of a bad boy, which is something I find hard to resist in books. I did think things should have got further between the two of them in this book, though - or if they weren't going to, then it should have been ended differently. Their relationship didn't really fit right for the pacing around the rest of the events going on in the book, I thought.
I also didn't like the narrow-minded, racist, (watch me try to control myself with the adjectives) cops in the story. That's a peeve I've found in other books though - I just don't like it, it makes me angry, and unfortunately it makes me angry enough to stop reading. It was very tempting to do that at several points in the book.

I did enjoy this book (I'm giving it 7/10 stars) but unfortunately it's the more negative things that I'm remembering. There were too many gruesome murder scenes, and it just didn't quite pull everything off as well as it could have.
I do want to read the next one, because I think this series & the writing can go somewhere - I'm hoping that 'Night Life' gave Kittredge somewhere to smooth off the rough edges, and that 'Pure Blood' (book 2) will be able to join my shelf of 'favourite books'.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Belated 'In My Mailbox', and a contest/interview shoutout

A little delayed, obviously, but these are the books I got last week:

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead -> bought from WH Smiths Books (in Glasgow Airport)
Dead As A Doornail (southern vampire mysteries no. 5) by Charlaine Harris -> bought at Indigo books, Toronto
Greywalker, by Kat Richardson -> bought at Indigo books, Toronto
Night's Cold Kiss, by Tracey O'hara -> bought at Indigo books, Toronto
Dawnbreaker (dead days chronicles no. 3) -> bought at Indigo books, Toronto

Review will be coming this week for some or all of those.

We'd also like to direct you over to Ellz Readz review site, where she's interviewing Chloe Neill today, and giving away a copy of Friday Night Bites - check it out here: click

Finally, please vote in our poll on the right, to let us know what you'd like to see on the blog.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Gargoyle

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.

ECHO... Echo... echo...

*looks around at the vast emptiness of the blog*
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

Giveaway winner!

Thank you for all your entries! Keep your eyes on the blog, because there will be another competition soon!

So, without further ado, the winner of 'The Vampyre' by Tom Holland is:

Jessica (BookLover)!

Congrats, Jessica! You've got until the 14th to contact me. (It wouldn't normally be that long, but I'm away, so you get extra time!)

Friday, October 2, 2009

In My Mailbox 1: Ailsa's mailbox

I thought it would be fun for us to join in with this meme from The Story Siren.

These are the books I got this week:

1) Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase -> from BookMooch

2) Red-Headed Stepchild, by Jaye Wells -> from the bookshop

3) Night Life, by Caitlin Kittredge -> from the bookshop

4) The End of Mr. Y. by Scarlett Thomas -> from Book Hopper

What about the rest of you? Did you get hold of any interesting books this week?
And has anyone read any of these? I'm part way through L.o.S, and I'm saving T.E.o.M.Y. for a long plain ride on Monday, but I've read the other two, so I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on any of those books.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Contest! Let's Have A Contest!

Well, more of a giveaway, but it equals the same thing: free books!

I noticed the other day that we've made it past 50 posts, so to celebrate, I'm giving away one copy of 'The Vampyre: the secret history of Lord Byron' by Tom Holland.

From the back cover:

"I have written my memoirs - but omitted all the really consequential and important parts - from deference to the dead - to the living - and to those who must be both"
- Lord Byron, Detached Thoughts

What was the deadly secret that haunted the writings of Lord Byron, that most brilliant and notorious or romantic poets? Tom Holland, in this dazzlingly crafted blend of fact and fiction, offers a truly terrifying answer. Impeccably researched, vividly imagine, The Vampyre i gothic fiction at its most atmospheric, allusive and thought-provoking. As Byron himself pointed out: truth is stranger than fiction.

So, what do you have to do to enter?
Just leave a comment to this entry, telling me the last book you read that gave you a new perspective on vampires, or, if you aren't a vampire fan, other supernatural creatures.

The comment give you one entry, and additional entries can be gained from the following:

+3 for being a follower already
+2 for becoming a follower
+2 for doing a blog post about this contest
+1 for listing the contest on your blog/website
+1 for tweeting about the contest/posting on facebook

You must let me know in the comments if you are doing these things, and link to the appropriate places.

Contest is open to everywhere in the world

Contest closes end of the day, anywhere, Friday 2nd October, and winner will be announced the next day.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Elnice over at Ellz Readz very kindly gave me the Super Comments Award! Thank you!

I get to pass it on to other deserving people, so I'm going to choose Diana from Writing Roller Coasters.

Oh, and keep an eye on the blog over the next couple of days for a competition!

Interview: Ripley Patton

This Friday, we've got short story/flash fiction writer Ripley Patton. With almost 20 shorts published, she has a lot of helpful insight into this area.

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.

Bio: Ripley Patton is an American writer of speculative fiction happily living on the South Island of New Zealand. She writes fiction because truth has always fascinated her more than fact. You can get a glimpse into her mind and writing at http://rippatton.livejournal.com .

This interview was brought to you by GapYearGirl123

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Not To Write A Novel -

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

Interview: Will Lavender

The other week, I reviewed 'Obedience' by Will Lavender. He's now very kindly agreed to do an interview for us. I asked him about things from plotting, to how he became a writer, and his new project, Dominance.

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?
I knew I wanted to be a writer early on, after I read the Bunnicula books by James Howe. I remember thinking how cool it was that people told stories for a living, that there were folks out there who were making books and providing them to people for enjoyment. I've always had an affinity for books and an aptitude for writing--and so it was natural that I got into this. I got the idea for Obedience from the Mt. Washington McDonald's case, which was well-known in Kentucky for a couple of years earlier in the decade. The scientist Stanley Milgram's name was mentioned in the newspaper account of the case, and I got to thinking about how far someone might go only because a person in authority tells them to go there. I was a college instructor at the time, and I wondered how far I might be able to go with my students. I couldn't go that far, obviously, and wouldn't for ethical reasons--but Professor Williams does.

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?
A lot of what you see in the book came to me when I was writing the first draft. I did not have a very good plan, in fact I didn't have that much of a plan at all. I had three main scenes: the very first scene of the novel, one of the middle scenes, and a late scene that allows things to start moving toward the climax of the novel. That was it. It's an age-old battle in novel writing: Should one write with or without an outline? I always choose to write without, because I need those plot twists to surprise me. If they don't surprise me, then they won't surprise a reader. The plot twists in Obedience continued to surprise me, so I just kept on going and kept putting them in. My editor helped a great deal with consistency and coherence after the first draft was done, but at least 75% of the book you see now is pretty much how I conceived it.

3) Can you tell us a bit about your next book? Is it in any way a sequel to Obedience?
My next book is called Dominance. My deadline is October 1st. It isn't a sequel per se, but I do use some of the same themes. The book is another college novel, this one set in upstate Vermont. It's about a class of English majors that is taught via satellite by a convicted murderer. As the class gets into the syllabus, they discover that the murderer may not be who he says he is--in fact, he may not even be guilty of the crimes he was convicted of. It's been a difficult book to write, probably because I'm working with different timelines and time sequences. (Part of the book takes place in the present, with the students from the original class grown up and the novel's heroine investigating a murder that looks shockingly similar to the ones her old professor was accused of.) But if you enjoyed Obedience, you'll like this new one as well.

4) I'm dying to know - what happens to Brian after the end of Obedience?
The novel pretty much ends for me where it ends for the reader. I've been asked a hundred times about Brian, and I really couldn't tell you what becomes of him. I would hope he is granted some leniency for what he did, because he was of course driven to that point by the class. Brian was a tough character to write in general; he comes to Winchester sort of a broken soul and then has this bizarre class that he really doesn't even want to take come along. You feel more sorry for him--at least I do--than the other two main characters. But essentially he chose to do what he did at the end of the book; I believe, though, that a jury would agree that he was manipulated in some pretty profound ways.

5) Did you ever have doubts about or trouble being published? How did you get your agent & publisher?
I didn't really have too many doubts about Obedience because I knew it was different, and I was pretty sure it was a book that would appeal to people who read thrillers. I found my agent on a Web site called PreditorsandEditors.com. From there she helped me clean the manuscript up, and then she sent it off to a few publishers. Before long we had some interest and then, eventually, a few offers. The book has been published in eleven or twelve foreign countries and was a pretty big seller in China. Movie rights have been discussed, etc. None of that happens without a good agent--and I definitely have one of those.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read. Read a lot and then continue reading and finally read some more. And not only that: read like a writer. Read with an eye toward how published writers do things. Not just big things, either--I'm talking about the "little" things as well. (Though they are in no way small.) How do writers use tags in dialogue, for instance? How do they get characters from place to place? How do they write action sequences? How do they make their characters come to life? All these things can be picked up if you go out there and try to find them. I'm not talking about stealing--I'm talking about picking up the essential pieces of writers' styles and then making them your own. I try to learn something from every book I read, good or bad.

Thank you very much, Will!
Will's website can be found here: Click, where you can learn more about him, his books, and his influences. Please leave a comment if you enjoyed this interview!

Posted by Gapyeargirl123

Friday, September 18, 2009

When Writers Blog: an Interview With Jon Gibbs

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?

JON: It’s never too soon to start. As for hosts, I use LiveJournal, but whichever provider you choose, you can keep in touch with people on other blog sites via things like RSS feed.

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.