Thursday, 29 May 2014

Book Review- Spireseeker by E.D.E. Bell

Title: Spireseeker
 Author: E. D. E. Bell
Series:  Spireseeker #1
Published:  October 2013
Length:472 pages
Source: author
Summary : Spireseeker is an epic fantasy tale by debut novelist E.D.E. Bell in which the heroine, Beryl, is forced from the only home she's ever known and must discover her true identity in order to confront one of her own kind, before the evil Aegra is able to enslave all of Fayen’s creatures.
Please join us in sharing this creative new novel about Beryl, a young elf who discovers that she is not who she thinks she is but instead is looked to as the one remaining hope to save her home. Communicating with the diverse creatures of the land, Beryl and her unlikely companion march through mountains, forests, and deserts to defeat evil—even as that evil seeks to destroy them first. Though a classic fantasy tale, we promise this one will be unlike any you've read. Experience it today!

Review: Beryl believes herself to be a normal girl until she is able to heal her grandomther when she is badly wounded, and she is told that  she is an elf. And not just any elf. She  has a unicorn’s blessing, enabling her to do the healing, and is also believed to be the one to  free the land of Fayen from the grasp of Aegra, who uses her blessing to manipulate loyalty to help her eliminate the other elves.
The fantasy world is different to those I’ve met before. Each elf can be blessed by an animal that gives them a unique gift, which I liked learning about. 
I really liked the characters. Beryl and her healing powers and Kick, the human companion, were fun to read about and get to know. The culture ofthe elves was fully developed and so were all the other cultures of animals. I quite liked the fact that the nonhumanoid characters played a larger part than they often do in other high fantasy stories.  
The writing style is simple, with more formal language during the council meetings  and more modern language occasionally that feels out of place.
Pacingwise, it starts off well, introducing new powers, new ideas and new quests for Beryl quickly. The middle is quite slow, It picks up towards the end, when Aegra finally appears more after an introduction at the very start followed by 70% of Beryl’s adventures. I think it would have been nice to see her a bit more, to break up the  sameness of the visiting various groups of animals and the discussing in the council, which does get a bit boring after some time. The action scenes were better  written than the talky ones.  

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a fantasy with great characters but was really dragged out in the middle.

Author interview- E.D.E Bell on Gender in Spireseeker

Today, we have author E.D.E. Bell talking to us about her novel, Spireseeker

, the review of which is coming soon.  We’re talking about gender identity, both in the real world and her fantasy one,

Did anything specific make you want to present gender as a theme in your work?
Growing up with two engineers as parents, I wasn’t introduced to gender rules as a child. As a toddler, I was bald and wore overalls, and people thought I was a boy. Then I had two brothers, and we played together with the same set of toys. You get the idea. I played low brass in high school. I went to electrical engineering school surrounded by mostly men, and was one of four women out of sixty-four students in my graduate program. I ended up working with the military, while my husband became a stay-at-home dad. And so I’m fascinated by society’s strict definition of gender. Once you’re really tuned into it, you see rules, expectations – as well as artificial limitations – everywhere. It’s a subject I feel passionate about and wanted to explore in my writing.

What bugs you about gender and stereotypes in the real world world?
Where should I start? I don’t think we should program children with the pink and blue toy aisles in the store, but it’s so much more complex than that. It’s dismissing men as stupid, or women as emotional. It’s, “boys will be boys” and “girl power.” It’s being overly impressed by a woman repairing a car, or making fun of a man who likes to sew. It’s insulting phrases like, “Mr. Mom,” women labeling themselves as “strong,” or people dismissing a heterosexual transgender woman and a gay man as the same. And then if you question these things, then you get accused of denying science, which I’m not. I know men and women are different. I just don’t think people want to be pushed into artificial boundaries. If people are so into nature, then just let people act how they naturally are and stop forcing it. Society just won’t fall apart if some men like flowers.

 Does Beryl, the main character, being an elf in a world identifying as female where the elves’ default setting is gender-neutral, affect the story? I initially wanted to write a story with a female lead, but then—and honestly I don’t remember the moment I came up with this—changed the elves to instead be genderless. At first, I worried the story may lose credibility with those seeking female protagonists in fantasy literature, especially female role models for their young daughters. What I found was that most people reading the story identify with Beryl as a female, whether she physically is or not. This made me wonder – if I were to reprint the story with Beryl called “he” how would that change the reader’s perception? I also wonder if I would have written Beryl differently under that premise.

How have your readers reacted to your gender neutral characters?
Rikian is one of my favorite characters, and out of respect, I managed to avoid all gender pronouns while describing the elf, which was not an easy task. So, yes, I’ve heard, “You said he was genderless but instead he was just a flamboyant gay man.” What, quoting RuPaul is gay? But, yes, I did worry about this unintended effect after that chapter was written, but the people who read it told me not to change it. So I do think Rikian’s persona was a bit over-the-top but I also think that people (or elves) tend to exaggerate themselves when they grow tired of their perfectly reasonable choices making people so uncomfortable. Perhaps once treated a bit more normally, Rikian would put the raspberry robes away and tone down the flamboyance. Or not. Either that, or I fell victim to the same stereotypes I was trying to dismiss. But I still love the character, and that chapter (A Garden Walk) remains my favorite.

Do you regret challenging gender norms in Spireseeker?
No, not a bit. It makes some people uncomfortable, but if it makes others think (or even better, just enjoy the story), then it’s worth it to me. I am so interested by the many facets of gender in our culture, and plan to work a diverse cast of characters into all of my novels – both in terms of gender identity as well as issues of attraction. And all the blurring in between.

Anything else you’d like to say?
Yes. I’m sorry to my friends and family who are tired of the phrase, “genderless elves.” But not too sorry. And thanks, Nina, for the opportunity to talk with you. This has been great.

Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed Spireseeker, as you’ll see later.

Find E.D.E. Bell online at her website, her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mr. Gove, you are the UK's education secretary. Educate. #saveourbooks

It's no secret that I disagree with Michael Gove on the majority of the things he's doing. But his changes being made to the GCSE English Literature co
urse made me very very angry. Angry enough to write  a 650 word post on it. With footnotes.

Gove, Gove, Gove. Once again, I must ask: what are you doing? You’ve already played with GCSEs and A Levels to the point no teenager really understands fully what they're doing in the next part of their school years. And now you're changing the literature syllabus to remove important  non-British works from the classroom.

Such works include American classics like The Crucible,  To Kill A Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men, which is studied by 90% of students,[1] and works from other cultures like Purple Hibiscus and Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence.

These works are important. Not just because they’re works of literature that have stood the test of time. But because as well as being able to be studied and teach us about symbolism and metaphors and all other things you do when you study them for a literature course, they teach us about other cultures and themes.

Of Mice and Men’s themes include: power, privilege, friendship, racism, sexism, ageism, injustice, and prejudice. To Kill A Mockingbird’s themes include: racism, education, bravery, and justice. Both are set in cultures different to our own, but have themes and ideas that are timeless, and relevant to life today.

I understand that the main point of the English literature course is to develop analysis skills. But you can do that with many pieces of literature, regardless of where they originate from-look at my language notes for the start of Of Mice and Men.

You say that "If [exam boards] wish to include Steinbeck – whether it's Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath – no one would be more delighted than me, because I want children to read more widely and range more freely intellectually in every subject." [2]
The new plans  state that students should study “at least one play by Shakespeare, at least one 19th century novel, a selection of poetry since 1789, including representative Romantic poetry [and] fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards” [3]. I can’t see Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men fitting into any of those categories. No, your four guidelines don’t say you can’t study other things too, but two years to study these four things in depth, alongside multiple other subjects, means that exam boards will probably want to steer clear of piling extra things on students, meaning they will likely be excluded.

Britain is a multicultural country. We have students of all races and backgrounds studying the course, and we don’t need solely British Victorian viewpoints and ideas about poverty and romance, which is what the majority of Dickens and Austen is made up of.
Likewise, English is a multicultural language, spoken in most parts of the world either as a first or foreign language. It should not be surprising that quality literature written in English comes from all corners of the Earth. The study of world literature is important to broadening all our horizons.

Of course, British literature is important too. You know my love of Shakespeare, and works by Orwell and Huxley might go on the list to be studied, and some of these books are pretty good. But these aren't the easiest to understand and read and engage with. Difficulty levels really can put people off reading. One reason why 90% of students get taught Of Mice And Men is because it is short enough to be studied in depth, and the language is both  accessible to lower level students and good for analysis for higher level ones.

No, you’re not banning teenagers from reading these books. I get that these books will still be available to teens in bookshops and the dwindling number  libraries that are still going. But according to the Reading Agency, 46% teenagers don't read for pleasure [4] . For some, the books they read in school will be the only books they read at all. Shouldn't the few books these people read showcase experiences and ideas other than those of long-long dead people, and be able to teach us something about cultures and issues both historical and contemporary?  You are the secretary of state for education, Mr. Gove. Educate.

 1- BBC findings, 
 2- Guardian website,  
 3- The Department of Education’s document on GCSE English Literature 
 4- The Reading Agency 

To try and do something about it, there are a number of petitions. What are your thoughts on the changes to the GCSE?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Mini-reviews- Tainted by A E Rought and Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Title: Tainted
Author:  A E Rought
Series:  Broken #2
Published:  October 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Source: Netgalley
Review: Post events of Broken, Alex and Emma should be able to get back to their normal lives. These plans gets scrapped when Hailey Westmore turns up—Alex’s ex-girlfriend who we are quickly introduced to as a “manipulative, spoiled witch”. People start dying and it’s clear there’s more secrets that may come out.
This book is told from Alex’s POV as opposed to Emma’s which was a nice change because it helps  you understand the Alex from Broken a little more too. It also means the narrator knows things that everyone else doesn’t, a feature I like sometimes in mysteries.
The beginning was good. Something big happens in a car which really changes the dynamics, which I liked, and the way that scene was written kept me gripped. Later, it wasn’t quite as good-it’s quite predictable and the villain, while being beautifully crazy, isn’t very deep at all.
It’s very over the top with use of tropes and lots of romantic lines that you’ve heard before. There’s a lot of focus on the romance, which I found less interesting than all the action going on. Alex also goes a bit broody and annoying at times.  I liked Emma just as much as in Broken.
There’s still bits of Frankenstein in here, but there’s bits of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde in here too.
I liked the fact that the deers were still a thing. 

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book where we saw different parts of other characters.

Title: Blood Magic
 Author: Tessa Gratton
Series:  Blood Journals #1
Published:  26 April 2012 by Corgi
Warnings: cutting (for magic, but still cutting), lots of gore
Source: borrowed from friend
Review:  Ever since her parents were murdered, Silla’s been mentally scarred. Nick’s the new boy in town with past experiences of magic. When he finds Silla experimenting with magic, they form a bond, and romance happens. And then there’s a journal kept by Josephine, a girl from years past whose experience with blood magic will highly shape theirs.
From the start, you’re pulled in. The magic and intrigue starts pretty quickly, and promises to build.
The story is narrated by Nick and Silla in alternating turns. They’re two very contrasting characters that work together well. The writing is intricate, gothic and a bit longwinded in places.
I must admit, I didn’t read all of this. The copy of  Blood Magic that I got had journal entries in copperplate, which I looked at and thought “Eyes broken enough anyway. Not even going to try decoding that.” *bases view of plot on characters’ reactions to this*
The magic system is good. Due to it all requiring blood, this book isn’t for the faint hearted!
I didn’t really get into this for reasons unknown. I got characters mixed up a bit every now and again, it took a while for Josephine’s relevance to become clear, but the main thing is that it didn’t have that spark of awesome for me.
Overall:  Strength 2 tea to an atmospheric magic story that I didn’t get into.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Countdown to 5th June and Blog Tour- Essence by Lisa Ann O'Kane

Hey, today I have two exciting things. Well, one exciting thing

for two reasons- we’re kicking off the blog tour for Lisa O’Kane’s Essence, and being the next stop on the Countdown to 5 June tour organized by Jim at YAYeahYeah which has been generally fabulous over the past few weeks, and will continue to be so. So here, my interview with Lisa.

1. What emotion or feeling would you think drained Essence the most?

I drew inspiration for the concept of Essence from the Taoist belief that every light must have a dark and every good must have an evil. Therefore, Centrists believe positive emotions are just as dangerous as negative ones, and they try their best to repress everything.

That being said, I know I have personally felt my most incapacitated in times of great loss and sadness. These emotions were almost always due to my attachments to other people, so I’m sure the Centrists would probably say I shouldn’t allow myself to feel things so deeply.

2. Would you rather live in the security of the Centrists or the freedom of the Community?

Easy. I would much prefer the Community and the freedom to make my own choices, even if I ended up making some bad ones.

I think one of the best ways to grow is to take risks—and to fail from time to time! Our struggles keep us humble, and they make us appreciate our victories in a way we couldn’t otherwise.

I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t been given the opportunity to find my own balance. As John Augustus Shedd once said, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

3. What was your favourite thing about writing Essence?

I am very analytical and organized by nature, so I initially approached ESSENCE the way I would approach any other project: I analyzed, categorized, structured and dissected it. Unfortunately, the story fought back, and it died on me every time I tried to control it.

The moment I dropped the reins and finally allowed the story to tell itself is the single most terrifying and exhilarating moment I have ever experienced as a writer. I will never forget the electricity of that feeling.

4. Who would be in your dream cast of Essence?

I am a very visual person, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my characters’ appearances. I haven’t picked celebrity doppelgängers for everyone, but I definitely have a short-list of actors and actresses I think would be perfect for my dream ESSENCE cast:

Photo Courtesy of Anomoly1101
Photo Courtesy of Etlfc1999

Photo Courtesy of MyCanon

Photo Courtesy of LGEPR
Photo Courtesy of MingleMediaTV  

5. What do you want people to get from Essence?

The biggest thing I want people to know about ESSENCE is that it is not a traditional dystopian novel. It is a novel about cults, and although cults inherently have dystopian qualities, ESSENCE is instead a very personal account of one girl’s experiences as she escapes from one cult only to find herself accidentally joining another. 

The theme of ESSENCE is balance: between right and wrong, between too much and too little, between feeling everything and feeling nothing. I hope readers will find its message empowering, and I hope it will inspire them to question things and to be true to themselves while they search for their own personal balance.

6. What's your favourite thing about being a YA author?

I have always considered myself a people watcher. I love exploring the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, so my favorite thing about being a YA author is the opportunity to create characters and allow them interact with each other.

7. How do you write? Do you have any rituals/specific things that need to be in place, or can you do it anywhere?

I am definitely the hare, not the tortoise. My muse is fickle and hard to catch, so I often have periods of intense creativity followed by stretches of intermittent spurts and droughts.

When my muse is active, I can write pretty much anywhere. If she’s a little more hesitant, I do have a few rituals that usually help jump-start me. My favorites are Nag Champa incense, a strong cup of chai tea and any music by Bob Dylan, the Shins or Bon Iver.

8. What other books or authors would you recommend that are coming out on 5 June?

I am so honored to be in the company of so many incredible authors! I am particularly excited about TAKE BACK THE SKIES by Lucy Saxon, LIES LIKE LOVE by Louisa Reid, and TRUST GAMES by Simon Packham. This is going to be a fabulous summer for UK fiction!

Essence will be released as an ebook from Strange  Chemistry and can be bought from the following places:
Amazon (U.S.):
Amazon (UK): (This is a link to my author page. The link for my eBook won't show up until my release date, apparently.)

Here’s the blurb: Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall. 

Here’s Lisa’s other links- site, twitter and facebook. Check on Tez Says tomorrow for a post from Lis a on plotting.

As for the Countdown, check tomorrow on Debbie’s site Snuggling on the Sofa for something with Lucy Saxon. 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Book Review- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Hey, it’s International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Go to AllOut for more info on queer rights around the world and things you can do to help improve them.
Also, I wrote a thing for the Guardian on why I ran Rainbow Reads last year. You may want to read it. 
Title: Two Boys Kissing
 Author: David Levithan
Published:  August 2013 by Knopf, March 2014 by Egmont
Length: 239 pages
Warnings: homophobic attack, suicide attempt
Source: library
Other info: Levithan has written other stuff.
Summary : The story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.
Review: Craig and Harry are attempting to break the world record for longest kiss. Peter and Neil kind of going steady, but do have issues in their relationship. Avery and Ryan recently met and started going out. Cooper is alone, but chats to men online. All are watched by the gay men of previous decades as their lives develop.
I was a little apprehensive before reading his because I was told that another of Levithan’s solo pieces, Boy Meets Boy, was good, and I didn't enjoy it, and I found his other work with partners was average or made better by the other person.
Still, within the first few pages it was clear that this was better than Boy Meets Boy because... not all these boys are white and cis! (Intersectionality makes me very happy).
I'm glad the couples and Cooper all got vaguely equal attention. What I found with Levithan’s other stuff is that the side characters were a lot more interesting, so I'm glad we saw more of Cooper than I expected. His story is definitely the most moving one in the book, and thus my favourite. Next favourite, Avery and Ryan. Peter and Neil and Craig and Harry, I didn’t really care much for, apart from the whole “seriously you’re kissing for thirtytwo hours how are you not going to die of thirst or hunger or tiredness or lack of air or something?” when Craig and Harry start and continue kissing.
The narration is hard to get used to at the start, but I got used to it and by the end it was really beautiful. It’s a chorus of men who died of AIDs narrating it which provides perspective on past, current and future generations of gay teens, and it really made me think about how lucky I, as a queer teen, am to be growing up in a world where attitudes towards queer people are slowly changing for the better, and made me more aware of queer history.
I love the fact that lots of different experiences are represented, from the happy to the sad to the painful to the beautiful. As well as the different positions of the characters, there’s also the support, the opposition and emotions and little things that I think lots of teens experience, regardless of their identity.
Oh, and added points to Peter and Neil for impromptu book spine poetry. Adorable levels through the roof.
Overall:  Stregnth 4 tea to an emotional book that lets you into lots of lives.
Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Author website |

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Skyscraper Throne reread- Chapters 1 to 4

Apologies for lateness of the post! I'm not sure if you noticed, but I really like Tom Pollock's The Skyscraper Throne series, and I'm hugley excited for Our Lady of the Streets. To lead up to its release in August, Jo Fletcher has been holding a reread of the books, with and we're now at the start of The Glass Republic. This summary will have spoilers for The City's Son, but I'll try and keep them to a minimum.

Chapter 1
Pen's back at school,following her being held captive by Reach, explaining her scars to her new “friends”. They don't believe her, even when she tells the truth. Who would? Still, their disbelief and promise that they will find out what happened don't matter for the time being, as it's off to go see Parva. I started off by thinking more Pen! Heck yes! I loved her in The City's Son. It's great to see she's the focus of The Glass Republic. I really like the idea of another version of Pen, and the added intrigue of the mirror world, which we were kind of introduced to in The City's  Son, but it seems like it'll be a bit more involved in this one.

Chapter 2
This quickly looks back to Pen was first adjusting to her scars. It shows the awkwardness you get when you don’t fit in, and with her scars and the fact that for the first week, she really doesn’t fit in as she chooses not to wear makeup. There’s also lots of bad flashbacks for Pen, for abuse from both Reach and Dr Salt. I loved seeing how she reacts to everything, with her religion and her choice to work to become physically strong. It’s these little things away from the big fantastical elements that really build up her character.          

Chapter 3
This is a more happy chapter, in which Pen and Parva talk, and dance, and have fun.  It’s a lot of fun, and sets Parva up as a totally different character to Pen, despite the physical similarities and them both being equally awesome. I definitely wanted to know more about Parva, how Pen and Parva came to be different, and life in the London-under-glass that we were briefly introduced to in The City’s Son.

Chapter 4
Longer chapter, back to Beth for the time being. I’m glad she isn’t forgotten about, even though the focus has changed. She’s exploring the city, and finds a sewermandar. And names him Oscar. And has a text conversation with Pen that shows the friendship between Beth and Pen really well, and  gives way to one of my favourite lines from this book: “I only went and got a bloody dragon!” This chapter brings out one of my favourite things about Tom’s writing and this world, the fantasy and imagination and description that creates such a beautiful new  world for the story to happen. This chapter then sets up some more of the plot: Pen asks if there’s a way to go behind the mirrors. Beth’s not sure. Beth leaves, a little awkwardness in the air, and sees Pen dancing with someone who isn’t there.  

What did you think of this? Leave comments here or at the Jo Fletcher blog, or use the hashtag of  #SkyscraperThroneReread .
Tom can be found at his website, twitter and goodreads.
My review of The City’s Son can be found here and my review of The Glass Republic can be found here.
You can get copies of The City's Son and The Glass Republic from amazon by clicking the links. 
Don't forget to go to Utter Biblio to follow chapters 5-8 of The Glass Republic!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Book Review and Giveaway - Glaze by Kim Curran

Title: Glaze
 Author: Kim Curran
Published:  12 May 2014 by Jurassic Park
Length: 293 pages
Source: author
Summary : Petri Quinn is counting down the days till she turns 16 and can get on GLAZE – the ultimate social network that is bringing the whole world together into one global family. But when a peaceful government protest turns into a full-blown riot with Petri shouldering the blame, she’s handed a ban. Her life is over before it’s even started.Desperate to be a part of the hooked-up society, Petri finds an underground hacker group and gets a black market chip fitted. But this chip has a problem: it has no filter and no off switch. Petri can see everything happening on GLAZE, all the time. Including things she was never meant to see.As her life is plunged into danger, Petri is faced with a choice. Join GLAZE… or destroy it.
Review:  Glaze-the next level of social media. A chip is inserted into your head, and you are on Glaze. You can see everyone's names and stories. You can see the history of an object. You are connected to everyone all the time. Petri is fifteen when she is charged with inciting a riot. As a punishment, she isn't allowed onto Glaze until she's twenty-one, as opposed to the standard age of sixteen. Unable to take being left out, Petri goes to some hackers to get a  chip inserted on the black market. But this illegal chip means she can't get away from Glaze even if she wants to.
I really enjoyed Shift and Control, and I'm looking forwards to Delete coming sometime soon. When I heard about this, the concept and the author made me sure i'd have to read it.
I loved the world of this. It's scary how we're progressing ever faster towards it; google glass is putting our data in front of our eyes, it's only a matter of time before we get data in our heads. And the dystopian element of a company having all the data and controlling you is something that intrigues me a lot. 
The pacing is really good. There's always something happening, and the ways the plot develops keeps you hooked. It was a little predictable as to who did –the thing-- but the reasoning behind it was harder to see, and I still enjoyed reading. 
The characters are all varied and really well done. I loved Petri, and her desire to fit in is not an unfamiliar one for anyone. I didn't really feel anything for any of the romance in this, but i'm glad that it didn't detract from the plot. I liked the characters by themselves though, from the resourceful hackers to the  friendship and to the real social dynamics of the school to the slightly crazy Mimi.
The best thing about this book is the way it connects with contemporary life, the way this kind of thing could happen if the way we’re going is taken to extremes,, and that this is a book about our reliance on the internet and what happens if we let this internet connectivity control our lives.

Overall:  Strength 4 to a fast paced dystopian with a great world and a look at what happens if technology goes too far.

Also, because I forgot on Saturday, there's a tourwide giveaway happening of one of 75 hardback copies of Glaze, plus other stuff like signed copies of Shift & Control, Glaze Bookmarks, Glaze badges and a meet with Kim Curran or Skype chat if you're not able to come to London. Enter!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Guest Post for GLAZE- Top 10 Places for Kim Curran to write

Coursework. Revision. Musicals. That sums up what I have been doing to stop me blogging, which is something that will be rectified come the middle of June
. For now though, expect any posts that have been scheduled as part of a thing, but not much else. Apart from complaining on the internet. Sorry.

Anyway, we now have one of my favourite authors, Kim Curran, author of Shift, Control, Delete and GLAZE, talking about where she likes to write.

1) On the top deck of the 243 bus

This is the bus that I used to take from Waterloo to Shoreditch and back in my commute to and from work. It was on that bus that I had the idea for Shift and where I wrote most of it – scribbled in notebooks. I’ve written a fair bit about my bus writing. The combination of being stuck in a boring place with no internet connection, and weird people to avoid, allows me to lose myself in the writing. And there’s also something about the forward motion that gives me a sense of progress.

2) On the train

Since I’ve moved further out of London, it now takes me 40 min to get into Waterloo. Which is just the perfect amount of time to get some writing done. Like the bus, it’s really productive because I don’t have access to the internet. And thanks to my tiny MacBook air, I can type away on my lap – as long as I get a seat. And boy am I grumpy if I don’t.

3) In my office.

I am probably most productive when having a writing day at home. I get up and start writing straight away, without bothering with boring things like showering or getting dressed. Often, I’ll be so lost in the writing that I’ll start at 8am and next thing I look up and it’s 5pm. I have a great chair (courtesy of James Smythe who I bought it off) a terrible desk which I HAVE to change, and a black board, which I scribble motivating quotes on. Oh, and it’s a MESS!

4) In the Royal Festival Hall

The Royal Festival Hall is my home away from home. I’m a member, which gives me access to an area on the 6th floor, which seems to be filled with writers and other creative types. I have a bunch of friends who also work out of there, so I get to have the company and the camaraderie I miss so much when spending days upon days on my own. The coffee is poor but the view is to die for!

5) In a hammock.

I finished Shift in a hammock in Mexico. And I worked on Delete in a hammock in Oman. Once I get my act together, I’ll put up a hammock in my garden and write from there. There’s something about the gentle back and forth motion that’s so soothing.

6) In Topolski

There’s a cafĂ© near Waterloo that is a pop-up for the Royal Festival Hall. Not many people know about it yet, so it’s quieter, there are more power soc

kets, and it’s cool (the RFH becomes a sweat box in summer). The staff are super welcoming, the coffee is great, and as for the view, well, they project Polish films on the brick walls and the place is filled with the artwork of Toposki himself. So it’s equally as inspiring as looking over the Thames. I love it there, and it’s where I’m having my launch for Glaze.

7) In a park

Until last year, I lived in a flat with no garden but with a beautiful park nearby. And when the weather permitted, I used to go and sit under a tree and write while watching the joggers and squirrels scamper around. I found it more inductive to scribbling ideas rather than clocking up the word count.

8) In bed

Sometimes, if I’m up against a deadline, I don’t even bother getting out of bed before I pick up my laptop and start writing. The one time I attempted NaNoWriMo I did this. I woke up, started writing, and didn’t get up till I’d hit my daily target of 1667 words.

9) In a pub

I recently took part in a writing event called 1001 nights – where writers are invited to create a story that’s 1001 words long, using characters and suggestions from Twitter. It’s run by the super lovely Nicci Cloke and the two of us held up in a pub in Clapham, wine and burgers on hand, and I wrote like the wind. You can read about it here:


Basically, I can write anywhere I can sit down. With pen and notebook or on my laptop, it really doesn’t matter. Just so long as I can get the words out of my head. And a change of scene is crucial for me. Often if I’m struggling with a plot issue, moving to a different location

Great post from Kim. Also, great book from Kim. You can read my review of Glaze sometime this week. You can find Kim at her website at her twitter at facebook  and on youtube.
Glaze will be published on 15 May 2014. You can find it on goodreads here.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Book Review- Fleeced by Julia Wills

Title: Fleeced
 Author: Julia Wills

Series:  N/A
Published:  1 January 2014 by Templar
Length: 400pages
 Source: Publisher
Summary : Meet Aries, the wise-cracking ghost-ram of the Golden Fleece!
Aries, the ram of Golden Fleece fame, remains furious at the loss of his beautiful coat - stolen by Jason and the Argonauts centuries ago. So he hatches a plan to return to earth, along with his friend Alex, zookeeper of the Underworld. But instead of arriving in ancient Greece, they teleport slap-bang into the British Museum in modern day London.
Aries and Alex soon discover that the Golden Fleece is in the clutches of evil immortal sorceress Medea - now a world-famous fashion designer. With the help of twelve-year-old human girl Rose, Aries and Alex must foil Medea's wicked plans and save Aries from an eternity of being bald!
A madcap, mythological adventure ewe don't want to miss!
Review: Those of you who know Greek Mythology may have heard about Jason and the Argonauts and their quest to find the Golden Fleece. Everyone remembers Jason, but what about the ram? Aries, the ram from whom the Fleece is stolen, is still upset at the loss of his fleece. When Athena holds a contest in the Underworld for a chance to go up to the real world, Aries and Underworld zookeeper Alex compete and win, sending them up to modern day London. With the help of a human girl, Rose, they try and find the Fleece. It won't be as easy as they hoped. It's  in the hands of Medea, the sorceress, who is now a fashion designer, and who has a plan for the next wearer of the clothes made with fleece...
  I heard about this at the Templar/Hot Key blogger event thing. They said something along the lines of “I know this is aimed at slightly younger readers but I think you'll enjoy it.” Whoever said that was right.
The idea for this is wonderful. The big name Greek myth book is of course Percy Jackson, and Fleeced presents Greek mythology in a totally different way.
Either Rose or Aries is my favourite character. Not sure which. Rose is a wellbuilt character, and one of the few twelve year olds I don't find really annoying. Aries, well for starters non human main characters are awesome, and I love his thought processes. Medea is a wonderfully put together interpretation of the one from the original myth. Both she and Rose are sharp and clever, and seeing them dance around eachother with wits is great to read.  I didn't really like Hazel, because she didn't seem to do much, but everyone else was good.
The plot moves quickly, with a lot of back and forth around the scenes for effective cliffhangers, with commentary remarking that they're moving back and forth around the scenes.  It works in a lot of Greek myth elements, and I liked seeing them all have a small part.
This is one of the most fun, and funniest, books I've read all year.  My love of Greek Mythology meant I enjoyed all the gags about that, and there's lots of more modern jokes in it too. Then there's the chapter titles, of which about 95% are puns. By the time I got to The Flocky Horror Show, I was  absolutely done.  Then there's everything to do with
The narrator is one of the most sarcastic ones I've met. They're chatty, and narrate everyhing in a distinct way that made me laugh a lot. Then there's the bit at the end, the scroll providing a handy glossary of creatures and characters in Greek Mythology. Best who's who ever; Medusa's says “anyone who looked at her immediately utrned into stone, which made it very difficult to get agood hairdresser” and Narcissus' says “He stayed by the pool until he died. I know. How silly was that? But, as I said, he was good looking, not smart”.
Final point-my Latin teacher loves the idea of this. 
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to another book spreading the love for Greek Mythology
Quotes from the Uncorrected Proof. They may change in the final copy.

Links: Amazon | Goodreads