Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

 Under the streets of London there’s a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre. There’s a girl named Door, an Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on the carriage of a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining… And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him below the streets of his native city.

I must have been brought up in some cave or something as I don’t think I’ve seen this on TV.  But having read and enjoyed the book I’ve brought the DVD of the TV series to watch.  Hope I’m not disappointed.  I love Neil’s writing style, the descriptions are so good it’s like I’m walking through London Below with them.  At the beginning I was a bit WTF as I didn’t really know what this book was about, but I’m pleased that I kept going and I did enjoy it.  It’s also funny.  Neil has an imagination I’m envious of, even if you’re not too familiar with London you’ll enjoy this book.  The book is so wonderfully written; the way he writes things without putting the reader off or making them feel like they’re wading through wordy descriptions is so refreshing. I’m making this my August book of the month.  Thoroughly recommend!

I was going to read Summon by Penelope Fletcher next but it isn’t available on kindle 😦 so I’m going to read the Freya North classic, Sally.

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Sign Of The Times – Susan Buchanan

 Sagittarius – Holly, a travel writer, visits Tuscany to research her next book. Seeking help when her car breaks down, she gets more than assistance when Dario, a vineyard owner, puts temptation in her path. Disappearing without explanation, he proves elusive. Bruised, Holly tries to put it behind her until a chance encounter brings her feelings to the surface again.

Capricorn – Holly’s fiancé, Tom misses her while she is in Italy and turns to an internet chat room for solace. His construction business is under threat, but could foul play be at work?

Gemini – Holly’s sister, Lucy, a serial man-eater finally meets her match, which puts her long-term relationship and career in jeopardy. Cheating she discovers, can have devastating consequences.

Libra – Holly’s uncle Jack, an eminent prosecutor, juggles a difficult teenage son with his high profile career and finds himself lacking. When his son’s school work starts slipping, he decides he needs to take control, but it’s not long before the balls all come tumbling down and Jack finds his family on the wrong side of the law.

One event binds them all…

 

 

This book starts off with a fast pace which continues throughout the book.  I love how a series of chapters are for each characters each woven into each other; quite intricately done.  Cleverly written; Sign Of The Times has everything – happily married couple, not so happy married couple, a couple having second thoughts about getting married, a woman lonely having given up everything to look after her mum, cheaters, some faithful, some liars, some honest, some good, some bad.  I like how each character’s story came through.  Obviously very well researched as Italian places are quoted as well as medical terms.  Susan manages to touch on some very current issues which give this book depth and takes it beyond the chick lit genre.

All in all I really enjoyed reading this book.  I found it hard to put down and left wanting to read more when finished.  I’m classing this as a must read.  My next book is Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere

An Interview With Tracey Garvis Graves – UK Blog Tour

I am totally bouncing off the walls right now – it may have a little to do with the large can of Relentless I drank.  But it has a lot to do with the  lovely Facebook message I got from Katie Sheldrake from Penguin asking if I’d like to be involved with Tracey’s UK Blog Tour for the release date of her debut novel “On The Island”.  Now I loved this book so much that I made it July Book of the Month.  Read the review here: https://rosiereview.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/on-the-island-tracey-garvis-graves/  So the reason I’m excited is that after sending a long list of questions to Katie to pass on; I’ve got Tracey’s responses.  So grab yourself a cuppa and chocolate biscuit and find out a bit more from Tracey about On The Island and more.

‘Tracey Garvis Graves has one of those dream-come-true stories that make other authors simultaneously delirious with joy on her behalf and jealous as all-get-out. Tracey self-published a book … called On the Island … well, you know that saying “No. 1 with a bullet”? On the Island was No. 1 with a nuclear missile.’ – USA Today

 bestselling story of love and survival…

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a summer job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s holiday home in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation: a tropical island trumps the library any day. T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having had cancer wasn’t bad enough, he now has to spend his first summer in remission with his family — and a stack of overdue essays — instead of his friends. Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. There, Anna and T.J. must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter, but even once their basic needs are met, they encounter plenty of other obstacles — including the possibility, as the days turn to weeks and then months, that T.J.’s cancer could return. And, as T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man…

About the Author:

Tracey Garvis Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband and two children. ON THE ISLAND is Tracey’s first novel and was self published in the US, spent eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, was a Wall Street Journal top ten and USA Today top fifteen.

What inspired you to write On The Island?

I’ve always loved the desert island premise but knew I wanted to give mine a unique twist. I thought it would be a great challenge to put two characters on an island (two characters who really shouldn’t be together) and then see what would happen.

How did you come up with the title?

I originally wanted the title to be simply, The Island, but there were already several books with that title. I then played around with, The Things That Happened on the Island, but that didn’t sound quite right. My son (who was twelve at the time) said, “Mom. Just shorten it to On the Island.” I thought that was a fantastic suggestion. He loves it when I tell that story at book signings – he feels so proud.

The title doesn’t give anything away as to what the characters go through whilst they’re on the island.  Is this one purpose?  

Not really (see above). About the only thing I was adamant about was that the word island needed to be in the title. I wanted there to be no doubt about the setting.

Is the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, but I’m certainly influenced by my love of the desert island premise. I begged my mom to take me to see The Blue Lagoon many, many years ago. My husband and I are also huge fans of the T.V. show Lost. I enjoyed the movie Castaway but never quite bought the relationship between Tom Hanks and the volleyball.

What research did you do for this book? 

I did a lot of research on dehydration, including finding out how long a person can stay alive without fresh water. I watched YouTube videos on how to make a fire using the bow and drill method (which is what T.J. used) and I remember feeling ecstatic when I discovered that breadfruit is high in Vitaman C (otherwise, T.J. and Anna really could have died of scurvy or some other illness caused by vitamin deficiency). I also read about malnutrition and how long it would take for it to cause problems even if you did technically have enough to eat.

What books have most influenced your life most?

I love Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s one of the books I remember reading and thinking, “Wow. I want to write someday.” I think Stephen King is a genius storyteller. I also went through a really long Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins phase in high school. I don’t know if those author’s books have influenced me, but they taught me about the true escapism that reading provides.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in On the Island?

I might have made it a bit longer. I was really trying hard to limit the word count to 80,000 which is considered the “sweet spot” for the type of book I was writing. Conventional wisdom was that anything longer could be harder for an agent to sell and since I had really hoped to obtain an agent, I didn’t want to take any chances. If I’d had a crystal ball and had known I would self-publish, I might have written more words.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I sometimes have to remind myself not to hold back bits and pieces of the story, whether it’s description or internal narration or some other element. I may know all the information because the entire story is in my head, but my readers still need to read it on the page.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Since I wrote On the Island in a dual narrative, I had to make sure the structure worked and also that the two main characters had their own distinct voices.

How did you decide to self publish?  Was it something someone motivated you to do?

I had no choice. I was turned down via form rejection letter by every agent I queried. I decided self-publishing was a better idea than letting the manuscript languish on my hard drive.

Anna and TJ manage to rescue a few belongings when they get deserted on the island.  The belongings were a key part to their survival. How did you decide what was saved and what was lost?

I wanted the toiletries to be saved because I just couldn’t imagine not giving them some kind of comfort items. Maybe it’s my own personal preference, but I hate the thought of not being able to get clean at least once in a while. T.J.’s backpack also contained some changes of clothing whereas Anna had nothing but the clothes on her back. The suitcase with her clothes and toiletries just made sense. The life raft washing ashore had the added benefit of the inclusion of a first-aid kit.

Can you tell me about your next book?

Covet is the title of my next book. It’s my first foray into upmarket women’s fiction (but it will still have plenty of romance). It’s the story of a married couple’s struggles after the husband loses his job in the recession. It’s a story of hope and heartbreak and though it is ultimately uplifting, you should have your Kleenex box handy.

What books are you reading now?

Unfortunately, I can’t read when I’m writing a book. The other authors’ voices mix with my own and it makes it hard to stay immersed in my own story. I’m looking forward to a big book binge when Covet is done.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Stephen King is one of my favorites. He’s just a master storyteller.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write the book you want to read, and don’t be afraid to take risks. It’s okay to think outside the box a little.

How does it feel to be a published author?

It’s truly a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to be a published author and I’m eternally grateful to the readers who helped me attain a goal I once thought was impossible.

I am so pleased that Katie asked me to be involved – thank you and I thank Tracey for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you want to read On The Island, it is available on iBooks here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/on-the-island/id531324191?mt=11 or Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/On-The-Island-ebook/dp/B008846BR6  Also it is available from today in any good book shops.

The Sugar Queen – Sarah Addison Allen

In this irresistible novel, Sarah Addison Allen, author of the New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.

I enjoyed reading this book, but however feel that it hasn’t rocked my world.  The writing is okay, the story fine but with the small bits of Magic, some love and relationship breakdowns I feel that it was missing a certain something to make this a great book.  It was easy to get into, however I was constantly questioning if this book was set in the real world or not.  The begining was slow and it really picked up toward the end.  I liked the ending as it finished the character’s stories off nicely but it was a little too predictable.  This book is a good book for holidays or if you’re in need of some chill our time.  I dont know what genre to put it in – it’s not chick lit; but it does have some magic, romance and heart break in it. 

I’m going to rate this book an Okay read.  My next book is Sign of the Times by Susan Buchanan.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfall

Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des Rêves

The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.”

Now you’ll have to bear with me somewhat as I’ve got a new laptop (MacBook) and I’m not used to Macs.  The quote section doesn’t seem to be working above for the blurb, so I’ve put it in speech marks and left a bit of a gap so hopefully you can see the difference.

Back to the book…

I’ve really enjoyed reading this book.  Like I said in my last post I wanted to venture a little outside my comfort zone.  With this book you’re transported into the real world 200 years ago where everyone has the same paranormal ability it’s just not everyone are aware enough to learn their skills.  I have to say that I did get a little confused (doesn’t take much!) with the chapters skipping around from year to year and also location to location.  When you’re reading it take note of the location and year – it helps trying to keep up with whats happening.  It is quite a complicated book, not one you could absently mindly read which I’m more used to.  I think  its the kind of book which you read once, and then again to sweep up the bits you’ve missed.

It is written really well.  I like Erin Morgenstern’s style and also the story is original which is refreshing in a world where we have to wade through the copy cat fan fiction to find the decent books.  I love the hidden messages; how you can achieve anything if you work at it.  But as usual I’m not too pleased with the ending.  I think my problem is I get so wrapped up in a book I don’t want it to finish.  So when it does I’m either left feeling cheated or wanting more.  For me I’m wanting more from this book, the ending isn’t how I imagined it whilst I was reading the book (no spoilers here) However I was left with a number of questions.  I suppose this just leaves it open for a sequel?  Will there be?  Doing a bit of internet stalking on Erin, says perhaps no 😦  But never mind.

I totally enjoyed this book…although it could be the mind control making me love it! lol (poor joke)  For me I don’t think it’s BOTM material (Book of the Month if you’re wondering) But I’ll place it as a Very Much Must Read.  So why dont you join me on my journey of stepping outside of my comfort zone?  Tell me what you thought of the book.

Next book is The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Do You Come Here Often? – Alexandra Potter

Life’s full of surprises. Grace never expected to wake up on her thirty-first birthday and realise that Mr Right had turned into Mr Wrong. She never expected to break off her engagement. But then she never expected to go on honeymoon with her ex-boyfriend either. Set against a backdrop of a late-night radio show hosted by Dr Cupid who promises to sort out the love lives of his listeners, this is a romantic comedy that looks at what it’s like to be single again, about finding true love and how it can all get very, very complicated… 

I’m back to my chick-lit romance comfort zone.  And I’m not too sure if I like it.  I’m starting to think that one genre isn’t enough for me and perhaps now is the time to move outside of my comfort zone.

Back to the book, I did enjoy it.  I loved how you were kept guessing about why Jimi never called Grace until the end of the book.  I thought it was something to do with his exam results and his traditional father but no I was wrong.  I wont tell you as I don’t like my reviews to be spoilers.  I laughed in places and just as I thought it was getting slow we’d swap to another character and I’d find it hard to put it down.  But that said I didn’t read it with such urgency like I did with some other books.  Which in a way is nice not to have a book to take over your life so much seeing I’ve had a busy time this week with the event on Monday and yesterday I went to the Olympics to cheer on Team GB in the Equestrian Dressage.

I’m going off track again!  All in all this is a good book, it’s very well written the way Alexandra Potter explains and describes things in her book is good.  I liked that there wasn’t too many characters.  I knew from the very beginning who people were and even small parts like Tanya I remembered who she was when she appeared again further on in the book. Which I think is down to how the author has described and written about the characters.  I don’t retain names very well so it’s good to read a book where the author has taken time to lay the foundations of a character as it helps me hold on to their names and especially in Tanya’s case where she’s only in it twice (once at the beginning and then again towards the end)  So when she was brought back towards the end I didn’t think “Who the hell is this?”.  I was like “Oh, Tanya the snobby bitch from the birthday meal”

This isn’t an amazing book, however it is very entertaining and nicely written familiar story with a twist.  I’m rating this as a good read.

So to my next book a little different to what I’ve read and reviewed before; The Night Circus but Erin Morgenstern.  Hope I enjoy it!

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