31 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review & Guestpost: Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff

In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose - to obey.

Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servant; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power.

But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming.

In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free.

And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.


Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Power, control, feminism, survival, magic.

I knew from the moment I read about the Naondel in Maresi that I had to know more.

This book is written in a slightly different style from Maresi, with the narrative changing at intervals between different characters. It still has the same feel to the writing, it's still quite blunt and in your face at times, but I loved it. I could easily distinguish between the characters - and quickly realised that I had a favourite. I just love Garai, okay?

I would definitely say to read this after Maresi, even though it is set before. It just felt more natural to read them in that order.
How did I start writing books? 
I think it began as soon as I learned to write. My Mum has saved some stories I wrote when I was five years old. They are completely misspelled and very hard to decipher, but if you do, you find classic fairytales with a beginning, middle and an end. Only there’s often a small twist. After the poor farmer boy who set out into the world to find his luck and fortune has rescued the princess the two look at each other and decide they have no intention of getting married. Instead they go their separate ways. 
I dreamed of becoming a writer for as long as I can remember. Only it was my secret dream: if adults asked, as adults do, what I wanted to be when I grew up I replied “deep sea diver or ballerina”, because I frankly thought my innermost dream was nobody’s business. Least of all some nosy adults’. And I loved writing: it was fun, and easy, and I was teeming with ideas. Until something happened in my teens. I suspect it was self-criticism paired with the teaching method at the time: for creative writing you got a topic, wrote your piece, turned it in and got graded. There was no editing, so what I took from it was that a text is either good or bad, and if it’s bad, there’s no way to fix it. Another reason was that I wanted to be a Real Writer so badly that I started writing what I thought Real Writers wrote: realism. The imagination, the fantastical, was childish. It took me many years of heartache and hard work to get back to the joy of storytelling, and it didn’t happen until I allowed myself to start writing fantasy again. 
I struggled for the longest time with what I considered a lack of ideas. But I was blocking all the creativity by thinking that as soon as I sat down to write, it had to become that most mythical and holy thing, A Book. And nothing I came up with was good enough fodder for that hallowed beast. 
It took me leaving the computer, and all that press and expectation, and just writing small exercises by hand in a notebook, to find my way back to fantasy, and ideas, and writing being fun, again.

Book Beginnings #36

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence. This is my first time

I am currently reading Geekerella by Ashley Poston.
The stepmonster is at it again. 
Raffles, discount coupons, and magazine sweepstakes lay strewn across the kitchen table.
And from the get-go you can tell that this is a Cinderella retelling. I have to admit, it isn't my favourite fairytale in the world, I hated the Disney animation,... But I love retellings so I already have pretty high hopes for this. I love that there's no messing around.
"That's it?" I sit up. "Gail, honestly, it's probably just this angry blogger. They've been posting for weeks about how terrible I am as Carmindor."
Well. I pretty much read this whole page to pick out a quote for 56%  so I know the wider context, and I can't wait to get to all of the drama that is going to unfold!

Look out for a giveaway of this book on Monday!

29 March 2017

Blog Tour: Guest Post: Luz by Leslie DJ

Luz Vargas is a promising young Latina writer from Washington Heights, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood in New York City. Who upon receiving top honors for her short story, “Here and There” from the prestigious Quisqueya Writers of Tomorrow Association, Luz’s boyfriend, Luke, suggests a couple’s getaway to the Dominican Republic where he plans to propose. But when the trip to the Island brings her face to face with a past love, Luz is torn between honoring her commitment to Luke and revisiting an island romance.

The story is told through a series of vignettes that chronicle Luz’s struggle to reconcile her American identity with her Dominican side.

Loving in Fiction
I lost my virginity at age 23 to a boy I barely knew from a third world country. The story goes, the one I told my family and tried to convince myself of, that I waited till my wedding night to lose it. Although I did lose it to the boy that would eventually become my first husband I did not wait till my wedding night but that Catholic guilt did drive me to marry him even though I did not like him very much.

The details of that first encounter have been buried deep within my subconscious because the experience was both frightening and exhilarating. The truth lies within the fictionalization of Luz and Henry's first date in my novella, "Luz." Easier to recount and digest under the guise of fiction.

The first time Luz and Henry were together it happened out of nowhere. One minute they were watching ESPN in the bedroom and the next his hand was underneath her blouse. Luz could feel her face turn red; her ears also reddened and burned as they often did whenever she was embarrassed or really angry as he pinned her on the bed. He must have outweighed her by at least eighty pounds; she squirmed underneath him and asked him repeatedly what he was doing, to which he responded, “Shhh.”

He asked Luz if she wanted “it,” and she asked him, “What exactly are you planning on giving me?” He laughed, unzipped his pants, pushed up her skirt, pulled down her pink panties and forced himself inside her. Luz squirmed but ultimately gave in, taking in the musk that exuded from his body.

Perhaps to understand my allure to someone who would go on to break my heart countless times we have to start at the beginning.

Boys never liked me, heck they don't really like me now. In the 7th grade after weeks of pretending to care or know anything about Capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts, I finally got the nerve to ask this 8th grader if he liked me.

He smiled shyly and begged me to change the subject but I persisted and changed my tactic.

“What don't you like about me?" I had the balls to ask.

He shook his head and declined to answer.

I continued to badger him and promised that I wouldn't get offended.

He finally gave in and said, "you're not developed" pretending to cup giant breasts.

The jokes on him I grew into an ample 38E.

My eyes immediately watered.

He apologized.

I waved him off, muttered "whatever" (it was the 90s after all) and ran home.

In those days I wasn’t fat. I was a scrawny tomboy with horrible posture. I spent most of my time looking down at my feet, avoiding eye contact. I found solace in my writing and in creating characters that weren’t as socially awkward as me. I wrote about love before I had ever experienced it and continue to live out my wildest adventures on the page.

Throughout the years I’ve experienced dating, love and loss but nothing beats the sweaty palms, rapid heart beat and uncertainty of a first kiss with someone you are falling in love with. Through fiction I get to watch my characters fall in love and fumble and it’s almost just as exhilarating as experiencing it for yourself.

28 March 2017

Blog Tour: Reviews: Bamboo Trilogy by Ann Bennett

  

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

I'm doing something a little differently here - I am reviewing the trilogy as a whole. Although all three books stand up fantastically in their own right, this delightful (and heartbreaking) trilogy comes together to paint an astounding portrait of Thailand during World War Two.

Click on the book covers above to be taken to my individual reviews.

5 Words on Bamboo Heart: Family, revenge, war, friendship, loyalty.
5 Words on Bamboo Island: Memories, family, love, passion, war.
5 Words on Bamboo Road: Family, loyalty, war, resistance, memories.

As a whole this trilogy is a fantastic glimpse into a war-torn Asia. I loved how family bonds and friendship and loyalty ties the series together as a whole, set against the harsh background of war in an occupied country.

There are threads of mystery throughout each of the stories, and this kept me reading. I wanted so badly to uncover the secrets of the past.

The characters are fantastic. I think my favourite is probably Laura, from Bamboo Heart, the descendant of a POW. I just loved how she was strong enough to pretty much put her life on hold, how she had this sparkling curiosity and large heart.

Top Ten Tuesday #84

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Authors I Can't Wait To Meet.

Yes, I have met/seen a fair few of these authors before in the past at various events. But still. Authors are amazing, magical people. They tend to be hilarious and I love listening to them talk about their books and take part in panels. And as usual my list is all UKYA! I hope you're paying attention, YALC!

  • Kevin Brooks
  • Melinda Salisbury
  • Zoe Marriott
  • Alwyn Hamilton
  • Terry Teri
  • Sarah Baker
  • Perdita & Honor Cargill
  • Katherine & Elizabeth Corr
  • Helen Maslin
  • Sophia Bennett

26 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review: The Witch Finder's Sister by Beth Underdown

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six... 

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.

To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?


Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Family, resentment, superstition, death, blame.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked this up, but whatever my expectations were they were not only met but exceeded.

It took me some getting used to the writing style. This is very much written as Alice's story, her voice is very clear, and the style is slightly old-fashioned. Alice is not afraid to tell it as it is inside her head, but perhaps not so much to other people, especially her brother. I think what I loved most about the writing was how superstition and fear was very much evident. It almost had the feel of a horror, but it was very subtle in its presentations.


24 March 2017

Book Beginnings #35

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence. This is my first time

I am currently reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone.
I suck at reading classics. As soon as something is labelled as a classic, I'm instantly put off. This is a throw back to high school and being forced to repeatedly read Great Expectations and memorise the first few chapter. I know this is unfair and that one of my favourite books of all time is considered a classic, but I still find it hard to look past my own feelings.

I am excited (and scared) to be starting this. It is talked about so much, it seems like everyone has an opinion already.
Moira, breezing into my room, dropping her denim jacket on the floor. Got any cigs, she said.
In my purse, I said. No matches though.
I think it will take some getting used to the style. Interesting concept for there to be a character smoking in a dystopian novel, usually it's outlawed. Kinda makes me want a cigarette, even though I quit years ago. 

Have you read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood?

21 March 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #83

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Books I Read in One Sitting.

This is something I don't really do so often anymore, because ADULTING SUCKS, but when it happens it's magic. I love it when I can't put a book down.


Which books kept you turning the pages?


18 March 2017

Blog Tour: Guest Post: Quieter than Killing by Sarah Hilary

Todaay I am delighted to invite Sarah Hilary to my blog to talk about her Marnie Rome series. I am a huge lover of crime fiction, so I was very excited to find out what the author's secrets were!

It's winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie's family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it.

Suddenly, events seem connected, and it's personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing. 


Dial M for Murder: the secrets inside my Marnie Rome crime series
As soon as I started writing crime, I knew I wanted to write a series. I love standalones (many of my favourite books are one-off psychological thrillers), but there’s something addictive about a series. I can’t imagine ever tiring of Highsmith’s Ripley books, for instance. Each one peels another layer from Tom’s character, or adds a layer. You can get hooked on a se-ries; maybe it’s the obsessive in me that loves them so much.

Much of the thrill in writing my debut, Someone Else’s Skin, came from knowing it would be the first in a series; I’d be spending a lot of time with these characters. I wanted readers hooked enough to keep reading, wanting to go on this long journey with Marnie, Noah and the team. To do this, I needed layered characters and plenty of mystery. As a story-teller, I have to perform a balancing act between intrigue and empathy. But I love a chal-lenge.

Can we get close to a character who is keeping secrets? Doesn’t closeness require trust, full disclosure? This is where the balancing act comes in. Marnie Rome is keeping secrets from everyone, including herself. She’s even keeping secrets from me; it’s one of the reasons I find her fascinating to write. In fact, the whole series is predicated on secrets. As it says on the front of Someone Else’s Skin: “Some secrets keep us safe, others will destroy us.” I must admit I’ve become a bit obsessed with the secrets Marnie was keeping. In each book, we learn a little more about her, but she does a mean line in double-bluffing. At heart, she is be-coming softer (and stronger) as the series progresses. This, for Marnie, is growth. She started out so prickly and unapproachable. She’s had to learn how to make herself vulnerable.

This, for me, is the secret of a good crime series: the gradual discovery of the central character(s) through an ever-varied set of challenges. Of course, plenty of long-running crime series do splendidly without a notable character arc for their heroes. Sherlock Holmes, whom

I’ve loved since I was ten, changed very little over the course of his adventures, but each time there was a flash of something new in his character—those were the moments I cherished. When Watson takes a bullet, for instance, in The Adventure of the Three Garridebs and we suddenly see how very much Holmes loves him). The depth and breadth of the character arc in the Dexter series is another great example.

For my Marnie Rome series, I aim to pick my crimes with care, so that the solving of them will bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in Marnie. The second book, No Other Darkness, is about lost children. We learn about the kind of person Marnie was when she was sixteen, and the ways in which she’s changed. In book three, Tastes Like Fear, Marnie becomes close to an angry thirteen year old girl. And in my latest book, Quieter Than Killing, she must fight to save a brave but terrified ten year old boy.

We’re told as writers to put our heroes up trees and throw stones at them. Well, in the next book, Marnie might wish she was up a tree being pelted with stones, in preference to the fixes I’ve landed her in. Maybe in time she’ll give up all her secrets, but I can’t help wishing she won’t. I’m having far too much fun hunting them down.

14 March 2017

CORA AND THE REREADS: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

CORA AND THE REREADS is where I reread and review a book.

Sometimes a book is so awesome you have to pick it up again. Sometimes you feel like a different person than you were when you first read it. Sometimes you just need to read that book again.

Sixteen-year-old American girl Rory has just arrived at boarding school in London when a Jack the Ripper copycat-killer begins terrorising the city. All the hallmarks of his infamous murders are frighteningly present, but there are few clues to the killer’s identity.

“Rippermania” grabs hold of modern-day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. In an unknown city with few friends to turn to, Rory makes a chilling discovery…

Could the copycat murderer really be Jack the Ripper back from the grave?


Source: Purchase

5 Words: Ghosts, crime, fame, friendship, boarding-school.

I think I've actually lost count of the amount of times I have read this book and recommended it to people.


Times I've Recommended This Book:
❤ Twitter Chats
❤ Whenever anyone asks for a recommendation
❤ Any time there's a Ripper documentary on TV
❤ It's near Halloween
❤ Whenever someone mentions Urban Fantasy
❤ Any time there's a Ripper drama on TV
❤ Whenever someone mentions London
❤ If someone is remotely near Sci-Fi/Fantasy/YA in the bookshop
❤ If I see someone with pale skin and wildly curly dark hair
❤ It's near Valentines Day
❤ Whenever someone mentions Ghosts
❤ There's a readathon
❤ Someone is buying books
❤ If someone is remotely near Sci-Fi/Fantasy/YA in the library

I don't know quite what it is about the Shades of London series that has me addicted, but I bloody love it. It's one of my go-to series when I'm in a slump or I want to FEEL.

And boy, does this book make you feel.

As much as this is definitely a dark and gritty urban fantasy with GHOSTS IN LONDON WHICH ARE MY CATNIP, it is also lightened by humour and wit and friendship. And I love it. And I will never get bored of it.

Top Ten Tuesday #82

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR.

I'm not going to lie - a lot of these books have been on my TBR for a while. But I'm going to do a little spring clean and tackle a few of those pesky books which have over-stayed. And I will do it. Honest.
  1. If you know me, then you know that I adore Maureen Johnson's Shades of London series. But I have also never picked up any of her other books. This will change!
  2. I love history, and I specifically love this time period. So when I saw this waaaay back four years ago I one-clicked it. Then never read it. Why..?
  3. I loved the spinsterhood books, but I've never read any of her other books. Given that everyone loved them I think it's time to rectify that.
  4. I was seeing this book everywhere when I added it to my TBR. And it's sat there on my shelf. Only I haven't picked it up yet.
  5. I absolutely LOVED Looking for JJ when I read it as a teen, it's a book that has truly stayed with me. But part of me feels like the story wrapped up so well that I don't need more.
  6. Sometimes I feel like the only YA Blogger who hasn't read this! Even years after release it is still everywhere, and that is some staying power.
  7. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
    I saw the cover, I put this straight on my TBR. I don't even know what it's about, but I definitely want to read it!
  8. Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
    Downton Abbey meets The Selection? I'm sold. Even though I don't like The Selection.
  9. The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson by Paige Toon
    My little sister loved this book and read it in one sitting, even though she isn't a reader. Now, that's a sign I should pay attention to.
  10. Trouble by Non Pratt
    Yes, I am a bad UKYA lover. I have had this book sat on my TBR and my physical shelf for years, but I am yet to pick it up.

08 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.


Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Family, fame, friendship, fun, frolics.

Oh look. Alliteration. This book deserved it, it was fab.

I knew as soon as I started this book that I was going to like it. I was looking for something fun, something to lift my spirits and make me laugh... And that's exactly what I got! 

I loved Andy, how she didn't want what was being thrust upon her, how she was actually a huge geek. As much as Andy is incredibly different from me, I felt that I could actually relate to her. Probably the geekiness. She was almost a different person when she was LARP-ing and it was fab.

I liked how the film crew added a whole other element to every relationship, how no one was sure who was being real and who was in it for the fame. 

What I didn't like was Andy's parents - but I did like was how their awful actions (and lack of) contributed to the story. I think this is something that may put other people off, but I forgave it because of how it contributed to the overall story.

This is a fun and flirty read that doesn't take itself seriously. It's perfect for rainy days or when you need cheering up.



07 March 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #81

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Ten Book and Drink Pairings.

I wanted to do something a little bit fun with this pairing. Usually when I'm reading, I'll have a drink of sorts to hand. Sometimes a book just begs you top pick up a certain drink. There are my favourite pairings, handily split in to two - the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic.

🍹 Non-Alcoholic 🍹
🍸 Alcoholic 🍸
  • The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
    • A champagne cocktail
      I don't think any other drink would go quite as well with this lavish prohibition-era tale of crime, punishment and mystery.
  • Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
    • Hepple Gin, Fevertree Tonic, Cracked Black Pepper
      You need a strong drink for this one. The black pepper adds an extra bite, although this book can make you angry enough (in a good way) that you won't need it.
  • Pirates! by Celia Rees
    • Alnwick Rum
      Drink in shots, every time someone dies by the hand of Nancy, Minerva or their fellow crew. Quickly feel like you're on a ship yourself.
  • The Tribute Bride by Theresa Tomlinson
    • Aegir Dragonsbreath Mead
      Sip it slowly as you sink in to Acha's world, and let the richly described setting surround you.
  • Darkmere by Helen Maslin
    • Vodka and Diet Coke
      Think back to your teens and remember TFW you managed to mix a quarter bottle of Glenn's Vodka into a single small bottle of Diet Coke 🙊
  • All of the Above by Juno Dawson
    • Ye Olde English or Lambrini
      Ahh, the sour taste of cheap alcohol. Nothing better to bring on heartburn and remind you of your misspent teen years, which this book nails perfectly.

05 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review and Q&A: Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett

When Mary Adams sees Millais’ depiction of the tragic Ophelia, a whole new world opens up for her.

Determined to find out more about the beautiful girl in the painting, she hears the story of Lizzie Siddal – a girl from a modest background, not unlike her own, who has found fame and fortune against the odds. Mary sets out to become a Pre-Raphaelite muse, too, and reinvents herself as Persephone Lavelle. But as she fights her way to become the new face of London’s glittering art scene, ‘Persephone’ ends up mingling with some of the city’s more nefarious types and is forced to make some impossible choices.

Will Persephone be forced to betray those she loves, and even the person she once was, if she is to achieve her dreams? 


Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour | Purchase

5 Words: Art, family, class, adventure, secrets.

Ever since I first wandered around the Laing Art Gallery as a young teen and set eyes on Isabella and the Pot of Basil, I was in love with an art movement. Much like Mary when she first glimpses Millais' Ophelia, I couldn't stop staring at the Pre-Raphaelite painting in all of its Romantic glory. So when I heard about this book, I was insanely excited. And I had very high expectations.

The writing in this story is very colourful, focused on the imagery and the wider picture. Like a painting, the setting subtly reflects what is happening in the story.
Under the snowy peaks of each wave it was a thousand shades of green and grey.
I loved Mary. I loved her past and her present and her hopes for the future. I loved seeing her fight for everything, how large her heart was, how much she cared. She is truly a character to get invested in and when she took on the persona of Persephone, I was as carried away in her antics as she was, and every crash back to earth, to her real life, was with a heavy jolt.
She felt as if she was about to enter another time, another world. 
Then we have the glimpses of the Brotherhood themselves, those familiar names from history with their hedonistic ways and their constant search for the beauty in everything. I loved this peek we got at them, how immediately you could feel the hairs on the back of your neck raise with one interaction. If you know anything about the Brotherhood then you'll know they were very close and insular, in love with each other's muses, and they were right proper rebels against the art of the day.
They broke the rules of dress and decorum, and consorted with servant girls.
I loved the tiny details that brought the historical setting to life. London was never just noisy and busy and dirty, it was vibrantly described as the filthy, overly populated center that it was. The whole place was brought to life
There was no green at all in the view, Mary realised - only shades of grey.
This book is perfect for fans of YA and history and art. I think that Sophia Bennett's familiar tone means that this would be a fantastic start for fans of contemporary who are looking to try something new. The writing is beautiful and slightly decadent, rich with research and passion.

100% accurate picture of me reading Following Ophelia
OR the fickle Rossetti's Lady Lilith.
Five Quick Questions with Sophia Bennett

1. What inspired you to write Following Ophelia? 
The idea came from Katie Jennings, my editor at Stripes. She suggested the Pre-Raphaelite theme and I’d been wanting to write about art for ages, so it was the perfect opportunity. I love how passionate they were about their art, and how they became a community of friends and lovers. It creates lots of material to write about! Also, I love the intensity of colour in their paintings, and the sheer romance of some of them. 

2. What is your favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting?
Hard to say. However, Rossetti is my favourite Pre-Raphaelite artist, and Jane Morris is my favourite muse. He painted her as Proserpine, in a gorgeous blue-green velvet dress, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the painting when I saw it. My own version of it appears in Following Ophelia. 

3. If you could meet any one of the Brotherhood, which one would it be?
Rossetti would be the most shocking. Millais was actually quite staid. I would pick Burne-Jones, because my parents had a poster of his on their wall when I was growing up and his paintings were part of my visual landscape from the age of six. I’d want to hang out with him in Oxford, go for picnics, and see what inspired him. 

4. Do you have an interest in art/painting yourself?
Everyone in my family is a talented artist - except me. I based my first main character in Threads, Nonie Chatham, on myself and the fact that I love art but can’t draw. I write instead. However, I’m utterly fascinated by how people translate a 3D world onto a 2D page. I can’t wait to see the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate Britain (where there are also  a lot of Pre-Raphaelites). Hockney's whole career seems to have been an examination of that question. I’m a total art freak and always have been. 

5. What's in store for Mary/Persephone next?
At the end of book 1, Mary had the chance to escape to Venice. I lived there myself as part of my degree course and loved every moment, so Mary gets to explore it the way I did. Also, there’s my new, favourite villain. I’ve had huge fun inventing him! 


03 March 2017

Book Beginnings #34

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence. This is my first time

I am currently reading Bamboo Heart by Ann Bennett.
"Hey!" Tom shouted. "I need some more. You've spilled half of this."
The guard bent over to stare at him, breathing heavily, his narrow eyes slits of hatred and derision.
I've not read more than the first chapter of this, but I'm quite excited going in. I love historical fiction, and this WW2 trilogy sounds right up my street.

I think that these first lines really set the scene - I know I'm starting something I'm going to get emotionally invested in.
Tom glanced at his watch. It was almost 10 o'clock.
Well. That doesn't give much away. But damn, I can't wait to get to this point and find out what's so important about 10 o'clock!

01 March 2017

CORA AND THE REREADS: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

CORA AND THE REREADS is where I reread and review a book.

Sometimes a book is so awesome you have to pick it up again. Sometimes you feel like a different person than you were when you first read it. Sometimes you just need to read that book again.


When Paige Townsen gets plucked from high school obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling film set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie's famous love triangle, Paige's crazy new life begins to resemble her character's.

In this exciting tale of romance and drama, both on-and offscreen, Paige must adjust to a crazy new life without the daily support of her friends and family, while figuring out who she is--and who she wants--as the whole world watches.

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Love, fame, family, friendship, sacrifice.
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS TRASH.

And I kind of can't help but love it.

If you had me list out things I hate in books, this book would tick off a good 75% of them.

❤ Instalove
❤ Poor little rich kids
❤ Love triangle
❤ Forced chemistry
❤ Overly wordy descriptions
❤ Romance, romance, romance

But you know what? I'm starting to lose count of the amount of times I've read this book. It's perfect for rainy days and escaping from the world.

And I don't know why, but I just bloody love it.

I can't even say it's the characters, because really they're not so good. I can't stand Paige. And don't get me started on Rainer. They're all such cliches that it's almost (but not quite) funny. I can't say it's the romance either. The romance is bland with unfathomable instalove and I can't read it without rolling my eyes.

This is cheesy trash with a crispy-trope coating. And I need MOOORRRREEEE.