Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Teaser Tuesdays #1

 
Teaser Tuesdays... is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I am currently reading "The Goddess Test" by Aimee Carter (Oh, yeah!  It has a beautiful cover!). 

So, here's my teaser from the book:

“So you like him.” It wasn’t a question, and I glared at my grinning mother as we sat on a bench, watching joggers and people walking their dogs pass.

“I didn’t say that,” I said, slouching. Beside me my mother sat poised, as if she were dining with royalty instead of spending the morning in Central Park. “I just—don’t want him to die, that’s all. No one else should have to die because of me.”


Let me know what you think of this and also, share your teasers with me! :)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Musing Mondays #1

Hosted by Should Be Reading

This week’s musing asks…

How far along are you in your current read before you start thinking about what you’ll read next?

My Answer:

When the reading is interesting, engaging and/or enthralling and I have already chosen two to three books to read, I won't think about next read (But, my TBR pile keeps increasing, even at that time..I am not sure how ;-) ).  After I finish one or two from my currently-reading pile, I will start thinking what books should I buy and what can I start reading from my already-bought shelf.  Its fun to think those things..always fun..makes some of my favorite moments of my day. :)

So, do you have this habit too?

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Interview with David Estes: Author of Evolution Trilogy

It was fun interviewing David Estes, the author of Evolution Trilogy (read review here).   For those of you, who are new to this author, here is the brief introduction about the author from him.
I was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I was very young. I grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually I moved to Sydney, Australia where I met my wife. A reader all my life, I began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010. I'm a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefer writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table. 
Now to the interesting interview..

Interview with David Estes

You believe in angels and demons?

Sure, why not?  I mean, there’s a lot of crazy stuff that happens in this world, why not angels and demons?  I purposely kept my angels and demons separate from all of the religious views of angels and demons because people tend to have strong opinions about all of that.  The Evolution Trilogy is more about the question of what if?  What if humans evolved into something else?

How did you come up with this title?  Did you have any other titles in your mind for the books or the series?

My wife, Adele, actually came up with the title.  I was really hoping to have the words angel, demon, and archangel in each of the titles, but at first I was thinking of keeping it simple.  Just Angels for the first one.  Demons for number two.  Archangels for the third.  Then one night we were talking about my books, tossing around other ideas for titles.  Adele said something about how evolution was central to the stories.  The words Angel Evolution came out of her mouth and I loved it!  The titles were decided!

Where do you write your novel? Is it a messy desk or a great garden or a coffeeshop? 

Inspiration comes at so many different times and in so many different places, that I find myself writing all the time.  Sometimes I may just jot down a few ideas or words on my iPhone, and other times I might write a few paragraphs.  Then I can come back to these random thoughts and piece them together later.  I write every single day on the way to and from work on the Manly Ferry in Sydney, Australia.  The entire trip is 30 minutes so I get a solid hour of writing done while commuting.  I also try to write at least an hour over lunch in my favorite cafĂ©, GGs.  But the ferry and GGs are definitely not my favorite places to write.  I much prefer writing on our day bed on our balcony overlooking Manly Beach with the sun shining, a cool breeze in the air and more inspiration than I usually know what to do with.  I’ve also recently started writing at the pool while my wife, Adele, does her laps.

Apart from this series, do you have any other future literary plans?

Absolutely.  I am pretty much obsessed with becoming a full time writer and have many other projects in various stages of publication. 

My current project is a YA post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller written from the perspective of two characters in alternating chapters.  Without giving two much away, the two characters (one male and one female) come from very different walks of life, but are thrust together unexpectedly.  As their lives intertwine, they must seek to bring balance to a world that is out of control.   I hope to release the entire trilogy in mid-2012.

I have recently finished a YA novel about a boy with a very unique disability and one hell of a sense of humor who meets loads of interesting teenagers on a suspenseful yet funny adventure to uncover the truth about the father he never knew.  I am seeking an agent for this novel but am still open to self-publishing it if I am unsuccessful.

I have also completed the first four books in a children's series aimed at kids between the ages of 7 and 10.  It's a classic superhero story about a girl who meets a strange animal who leads her to a treasure chest in the middle of the forest.  The chest contains a gift that allows the girl to perform miraculous feats.  I have another two books planned for the series, which I will be working to complete in 2012.  The first book in the series is currently being reviewed by a large children's book publisher.

My remaining projects range from a variety of children's novels from the fantastical to the downright silly, to my next venture into YA fantasy, and to the creation of an adult suspense/mystery series with a strong and interesting male character.  I have written the first page of more books than I can count without taking off my shoes!

What was the hardest part about writing 'The Angel Evolution'?

Having zero experience writing books.  Angel Evolution was literally my first effort at writing a novel, and thus, it required so much rewriting and edits that by the end I was exhausted!  I had no plan, no outline, just a basic idea about what the story was.  I just started writing and plowed through the first draft in about six weeks.  Then I had some beta readers give me feedback and the rewrites started.  While I was rewriting I was reading everything I could about writing from successful authors like Stephen King and Donald Maass.  I’ve written 8 books since and I am getting better and better with each book.

If you had the opportunity to collaborate with another author, who would be your pick?

Suzanne Collins for sure.  I loved the Hunger Games and one day I hope one of my books is compared to it.  It would be awesome to work with her on a dystopian project, something that captivated people worldwide like the Hunger Games has.  I wish all my characters could be as cool as Katniss Everdeen!

Did you do researches while writing this series?  Like to share with us?

Very little.  Unlike some authors, I really do not like research and much prefer to create a place from scratch.  However, as I got into some of the other books in the Evolution Trilogy, I have some scenes that take place in New York City so I had to do some very small amounts of research on where places were located.  But I much prefer to create worlds of my own, similar to the way Suzanne Collins did in The Hunger Games.

If you are given a second chance at your book, will you change anything in it?

Tough question.  Maybe.  I hate to have any regrets about Angel Evolution, because it was my first book and it’s what made me want to be a writer.  But when I read the later books in the trilogy I realize how much I’ve improved and it makes me wish I knew at the beginning what I know now.  I’ve found that for the YA genre, I prefer writing in the first person.  I might have tried that with Angel Evolution.  I also would have developed Taylor’s character a lot more in Angel Evolution, instead of waiting until Demon Evolution for her to really come into her own.  I also would have slowed down the love story a bit.  I was so focused on moving the plot along and getting to the action, I skipped over the romance more than I probably should have.

Three 'good to know' facts about you.

The first thing is that my wife calls me ‘Brick’, after the child character from the TV show The Middle.  In the show, Brick is constantly reading no matter where he is.  That’s me.  We’ll be watching TV and then a commercial will come on and Adele will run back into the kitchen to get a drink, and when she comes back, I will have my book out, trying to sneak in a page before the show comes back on!

The second thing is that I am a mad rollerblader.  I grew up playing hockey, and now that I live in Australia, there isn’t much opportunity to play as they are more into cricket and rugby here.  So I just rollerblade instead.  Every weekend my wife and I go to the pool to swim laps.  To get to the pool, Adele rides her bike along the beach.  I rollerblade!  There aren’t too many good rollerbladers in Australia, so I get a lot of funny looks when I’m cruising along, doing jumps and skating backwards.

The final thing is that Adele and I love dancing in our apartment.  Like crazy, silly dancing on Saturday mornings.  We put on a good Shakira song and jump around doing our favorite dances, like the sideways dance (invented by Adele).  If a softer song comes on we’ll slow dance, too.  It’s really nice.  Adele is my best friend and I love our time together—all of it.

One funny secret about you, for your readers? :)

I have a touch of OCD.  Okay, maybe a lot of OCD.  Some of my readers who follow me on Facebook probably already know this as I post about it sometimes, usually in joking manner.  There are so many silly things that bother me because of my OCD, like when different types of food are on the same plate and touch each other LOL.  Also, when things are out of place, or someone moves something that I put somewhere.  Sometimes I wish I could just not worry about such things.  On the other hand, I think my OCD helps me as a writer.  I am obsessive about meeting a minimum word count every day, so that helps me to write every single day, no matter what, and be quite productive.  Generally, I like to write at least 2,000 words a day, although lately I’ve been at around 3,500, while working full time in an office at the same time.

Quick Answers

Favorite place?
Hawaii, we hope to live there someday!  Although where we live now at Manly Beach in Australia is pretty awesome too.

Favorite pastime?
Playing tennis maybe.  Although chilling out and watching movies is awesome too.

Favorite book?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Favorite author?
Dean Koontz

Favorite character from your books?
One from one of my unpublished books.  His name is Touch and he’s awesome.  I can’t wait to publish this book so everyone else can fall in love with him too.

Favorite series?
Lord of the Rings!

Favorite genre?
YA Dystopian at the moment.

Favorite writing spot?
At the pool probably

Favorite movie?
Lord of the Rings again!  All of them!

Favorite dish?
Vegetable pasta with chili, my wife’s specialty.  Yum!

Favorite color?
I dunno, it changes.  Blue I guess.

Favorite quote?
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  
As I’m sure many of those who read this will know, this is from The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.  There are a million amazing and inspiring quotes out there, but this one has always been my favorite.  It was the perfect line for Tolkien’s characters and their story, but the beauty of it is that it can be related to many other books, as well as to real life.  Sometimes the first step is the hardest, because once you take it you are out of your comfort zone.  But I can promise you that it’s always worth taking anyway.

Your best trait?
Committed

Your worst trait?
A bit stubborn and quick-tempered

Hope you enjoyed the interview!  Below are the ways, you can contact author and buy his books.




Contact David Estes at Facebook | Blog | Twitter.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Review: New Girl

Original Title:  New Girl
Author:  Paige Harbison
Publisher: Harlequin
Expected Publication Date:  January 31st, 2012
Genre: Young-adult


Author Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

*** Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Publishers for providing the ARC of this book. ***

Ever since I started reading Enid Blyton's children's books, I have always wanted to go to boarding school.  It felt like fun, to make new friends, live with them all year and learn something about the life's challenges.  One of the main leads in this book had such wish, when she was young and was obsessed over Harry Potter books.  But, when she got older, she forgot all about it..but, not her parents.  They had repeatedly applied for a famous, prestigious Manderly Academy for their daughter and now, they got the acceptance letter.

The 'New Girl', that's what she was always called in Manderly Academy, soon founds out that she was accepted because the girl named Becca is missing, probably dead, and she was 'replacement' for her.  All of the Academy's students adored Becca and when the new girl came, they started resenting her.  Becca also had a boyfriend, who now our 'New Girl' also likes.  But she was insulted and left alone at various places, for no mistake of hers.  Her roommate, Dana, previously the roommate and best friend of Becca, does everything in our powers to make the New Girl's life in Manderly, a hell.  Even in the most unlikely circumstances, she makes some good friends and tries to live her life.

Through the initial pages, I felt the book dragging and I thought it would be my first 2-star rating book this year.  But, I was surprised how soon the change happened.  When I was half-way through the book, I cannot put the book down.  The shift of chapters between Becca's life and the New Girl's life has worked perfect for me.  The girls are both new, but in different circumstances and make different decisions in their life.  Beautiful story-telling!

There were places, where teens were drinking and indulging in activities that the school disapproves, inside the school itself..and I mean it, like, always.  When I thought of Enid Blyton's schools and J.K. Rowling's Hogwarts, 'New Girl' is definitely not for kids/children.  A unique plot, but not for more conservative readers.  A great mystery!  Kept me wondering what happened to Becca and what will happen to our 'New Girl'!  Well, I think I make it perfectly clear, that the New Girl's name will not be revealed here..and so in the book, until you reach the final chapter.

Recommend the book for mature YA readers!


Guest Post: 'Why I Love Writing?' By David Estes, author of Evolution series


Although I have a full time 9-5 job, I manage to sneak in at least 2 hours of writing each and every day, and they are 2 of my favorite hours (besides TV time with my beautiful wife, Adele--Yes, we never miss our favorite shows like the Mentalist and Merlin!).  At about noon, my friends at work know it's time for me to head down to my favorite cafe, GGs, and work on my newest book.  By the end of the hour, I am usually lost in a fictional world of my own invention, creating colorful (and often bizarre or even scary) characters, who make me laugh (yes, I get a chuckle from my own writing at times), sweat (during the suspenseful parts), and occasionally even cry (there's a scene near the end of Archangel Evolution that made me tear up as I was writing it and reading it back to myself).

You are probably wondering what any of that has to do with the title of this blog--why I love writing.  I am getting to that, I promise.  You see, I love writing because I love reading even more.  When I can escape into a magical world of fantastical people and creatures, I just feel happy.  It's the same with writing.  Creating worlds full of characters that entertain, excite, or delight my readers makes me incredibly happy and I get immense satisfaction from it.

All it takes is one reader to enjoy something I have written to make all the hours writing, revising, formatting, rewriting, editing some more, working with cover artists, and editing, editing, editing completely worth it.  I have received a many positive comments and reviews in the months since publishing the Evolution Trilogy, and each and every one of them has filled my heart with joy.  For me, that is enough.  That's what it's all about.  And that is why I love writing :)  I look forward to continuing to connect with my readers in any way that I can.  Keep on reading!  I know I will ;)

- David

To see my review of The Angel Evolution, visit here

Author Online: Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Guest Post: English Lingo by Stephanie Abbott

Guest Post Compiled by Stephanie Abbott- For Orangeberry Book Tours

England and America are two countries separated by the same language.  – George Bernard Shaw.

Here’s a fun little glossary for those who might find English usage “across the Pond” amusing:
  • Fag: a cigarette.  Respectable usage: “I just need five minutes to suck on a fag.”
  • Cider: a mild-to-moderate alcoholic drink currently more popular than beer in some parts of England, especially with underage girls.
  • Pouf: a soft place to sit, e.g., an ottoman.  Also, a male homosexual.
  • Slag: an unattractive and or dirty woman of ill repute.
  • Wank: how a male pleasures himself.  Common insult: “You wanker!”
  • Sacked: Fired. 
  • Footballer: a professional soccer player and (usually) national hero.
  • Football Hooligan: someone who uses his or her support of a sports team to bully, insult, or physically threaten those who support other teams.
  • Panda cars: black and white police cars.
  • Rent boy: male prostitute.
  • Page Three Girl: A beautiful topless female featured in a British newspaper as a sort of daily confection, like horoscopes or the crossword puzzle.
  • Dog-end: a cigarette butt.
  • Row: argument, loud quarrel.
  • Mate: friend.
  • Detached house: a house unattached to any other, with a surrounding yard.  In some parts of urban England, most homes are “flats” – one-level apartments – or “row houses,” each dwelling literally attached to the next.  For some people, the ultimate middle-class status symbol is a house that doesn’t touch either neighbor’s.
  • The Tube: London’s underground subway system.
  • Tosser: person who masturbates.  More commonly, a despicable person.
  • “Gagging for it”: desperate for sex.
  • Bugger off: go away
  • Flannel: a washcloth
  • Ginger hair: red.
  • Gastro-pub: a bar that serves food.
  • NHS: National Health Service, universal healthcare in Britain.
  • A.A.C.D.: American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, because “American” denotes a white smile and cash up front.
  • Top-Drawer: the best.
  • Take the Mickey: to make someone feel like a fool.
  • Open University: education open to all adults seeking career training or self-improvement.
  • Ward sister: head nurse.
  • Top yourself: commit suicide.
  • Pudding: any dessert.
  • “In the club”: pregnant.
  • Scarper: run away.  Also known as “doing a runner.”
  • Screw: prison guard.
  • Winging: whining, complaining.
  • Pensioner: senior citizen, also called an Old Age Pensioner, or O.A.P.
  • “Put you in the picture”: fill you in.
  • Petrol: gasoline.
  • Braces: suspenders.
  • Dustman: garbage collector.
  • Boxing Day: traditionally December 26th, the day when service people – post carriers, dustmen, etc – are presented with a gift of money.
  • “Early days yet”: too soon to tell.
  • Lady Day: March 25th, Mary’s Feast of the Anunciation.
  • Doolally: insane.

I think the above sample proves we have a way to go before we comprehend our English cousins.  For more about the similarities and difference between our language, please check out three of my favorite reference books: British English A to Zed, 3rd Edition, by Norman W. Schur; Watching the English by Kate Fox; and The Anglo Files by Sarah Lyall.

About the author - Stephanie Abbott is the face behind the popular pseudonym, S.A. Reid. Well-known for her “real and likeable characters”, she also writes paranormal fiction (a new series titled Past Lives is currently being penned), fantasy, and sci-fi. Additionally, she also pens cozy mysteries as Emma Jameson.

Friday, 27 January 2012

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Thursday, 26 January 2012

My Fairyland Haven



We all have moved to online shopping for purchases, and for book lovers like me, the only shopping we do is books.  And we are also aware that many traditional bookstores are in the verge of closing, due to these online shopping and e-books.  Amazon.com said (on July, 2011), it is now selling more Kindle books than paperback books — 115 ebooks for every 100 paperbacks, in the US market.  I never question the advantages of ebooks and online shopping - less expensive, time-saving and less space..this is practical.  I can carry a single Kindle in my bag, that will be equivalent to 1000 books.  In spite of all these advantages, I still think an online store can never replace a traditional bookstore.

Its like a fairy-tale world for me, when I enter a bookstore.  That is where I belong..  Inside of a book shop filled with books?  Yup, exactly!  There is no better place I can think of, that I would love to be.  Almost every time I go to a bookstore, I never know what I want to buy.  Yet, I always leave the bookstore with a minimum of two books in hand and I love the one hour that I spend inside the store, selecting those books.

When I see a kid searching for book in a bookstore, I see the excitement in her eyes that she never gets in searching for a book in an e-store.  

When I see the guy, who asks for the place, where a particular series or book is stacked, I feel like raising my hand and saying "I know where it is..I just now saw and thought of buying.  Do you want to buy it too?".  This is not small talk.  This is where I share my passion for books with other book lovers.  I get to know more books, speak with more people and share our opinions.  I miss all of these small incidents, when I shop online.

On June 14, 2011, the Australian Minister for Small Business, Nick Sherry, shocked the publishing world, when he stated his belief that online shopping would force the closing of all traditional general bookstores within five years. He did, however, give credence to small, niche bookstores in large cities.  So, that is where we are leading to?  Yes, the world is changing incredibly fast..but letting the traditional bookstore to die, in the name of innovation, is overkill.  We, well fine, I, need traditional bookstores.  I still want my kids to feel the magic, that I felt inside the stores in the midst of thousands of books.  I think I always can spend an hour or two in my weekends inside a bookstore, however big or fast this world is changing.


*** This is the entry for the competition being held at 'The Bookplex'.***

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review: The Prophet - The New Brotherhood

Original Title: The Prophet: The New Brotherhood
Author: K.J. Dahlen
Publisher: Bucks County Publishing
Published Date: September 28th 2010
Genre: Thriller, Mystery


Author Online: Facebook | Blog | Twitter

Book Description:
After a three year search for a serial killer known as The Prophet, FBI agents Sean Sebastian and Rheta Morgan; both who have a personal reason to stop him, finally get a break and The Prophet is within their reach. Confrontation leads them to discover a secret network called the New Brotherhood and the more they find out about the New Brotherhood, the more determined they are to stop it. When The Prophet takes Rheta and Sean's sister hostage, the race is on to free them and bring down the Brotherhood.
Review:

*** The copy of this book is provided by Ever After PR for the book tour. ***


 
The author presents us with a psychopath, who kills women, just because he can.  He calls himself as "The Prophet",  moves around countries, charms the population with his talented speech, robs them of all money, kills an innocent woman and leaves for next place to continue the process. 

The FBI agents, Rheta and Michael is on his trail, trying to stop him.  Rheta's sister and Michael's fiancee are also in the list of victims, killed by the Prophet.  While on his trail, they both are faced with Prophet's smart escapades and misses him several times.  Soon, there are various twists, surprises and shocks, and then the FBI agents find themselves with him face to face.

The thrill of the novel has been kept from beginning to end.  The novel was realistic and enjoyable.  The need to catch the Prophet is felt more by the readers, as much as the FBI agents.

A perfect thriller!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Review: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)

Original Title: Mockingjay
Series: The Hunger Games #3
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published Date: October 24th 2010
Genre: Science-fiction, Dystopian


Enveloped and toasted with so much sadness and pain, is the book, 'Mockingjay'.  In spite of all odds, Katniss Everdeen enters in the Hunger Games twice and comes out of it alive both times.  If you think it as her luck, then you should read this book.

At the end of the 'Catching Fire', there was a very unfair cliffhanger.  Katniss finds that her district is completely destroyed, and Peeta is taken by the Capitol to be tortured.  Katniss is brought to District 13, which was considered as destroyed.  In District 13, Katniss is expected to be Mockingjay, the symbol of revolution.  But all Katniss could do is to think of a way to be out of insanity.  Well, who can blame her!  I just felt that way myself.  On to the story.. District 13 forms a plan and starts a revolution to overthrow Capitol, keeping Katniss as a piece of their game, again.

When I finished the book, I didn't feel happy or glad..only heaviness and disappointment.  No matter what happens in the future of the book, there could never be a completeness or peaceful night's sleep in Katniss' life.  The series is an ultimate success and most of us felt it, than knowing it.  But, I just thought there are so many deaths and even the final decision of Katniss, while choosing between Peeta and Gale, is not happier.  It felt like another survival need.

No hope or optimism in the book.  The main goal for the revolution falls, when they won.  I know the author has made it realistic..but if tearing apart your heart is realistic, I think I can live without it.

Closed the book with a heavy sad sigh!

Some favorite quotes:

“You love me. Real or not real?"
I tell him, "Real.”

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”

“Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!”

“Some walks you have to take alone.”

“I knew you'd kiss me."
"How?" I say. Because I didn't know myself.
"Because I am in pain," He say's. "That's the only way I get your attention.”

“Is that why you hate me?" I ask.
"Partly," She admits. "Jealousy is certainly involved. I also think you're a little hard to swallow. With your tacky romantic drama and your defender-of-the-helpless act. Only it isn't an act, which makes you more unbearable. Please feel free to take this personally.”


Series:

1.  The Hunger Games - Read review here
2.  Catching Fire - Read review here
3.  Mockingjay


Monday, 23 January 2012

Review: Angel Evolution (Evolution #1)

Original Title: Angel Evolution
Series: Evolution #1
Author: David Estes
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published Date: October 17th 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Young-adult

From Goodreads:

Angel Evolution- the first book in the young adult fantasy trilogy: The Evolution Trilogy... When Taylor meets Gabriel at college, she is in awe of the subtle glow that surrounds him. No one else, not even her best friend, seems to notice. Something about him scares her. Is all as it appears? While Taylor struggles for answers, she finds herself in the middle of a century old war centered on one miraculous revelation: evolution.
Review:

* Received this book from the author for review purposes *

A new take on angel-devil myth.  We are always taught that angels are good and demons are evil.  The term 'Guardian Angel' itself is a comfort for many.  But, what if we are all wrong..that angels always try to destroy humans, while demons try to save us even though we consider them as evil beings from Hell.  So, I think I gave you an idea of what this book is about.  Yup, angels are evil and demons are good.

Our protagonist is Taylor, a freshman college girl, who trusts her instincts at all points of her life.   Her best comfort is that her best friend, Sam, is also with her in the same college.  While Sam can make friends anywhere any time, Taylor doesn't involve socially.  Having lost her mother in young age, Taylor remembers that her mother would always want her independent and strong at all costs.  This works for her, until she meets Gabriel, in her college.  Taylor could see a glow around Gabriel that other could not see.  In spite of her instincts, Taylor finds herself speaking to him.

Gabriel, a freshman in the same college as Taylor, is a glowing charming young 'angel'.  His task is to get Taylor to his Angel Leader, where her aura, which is exceptionally powerful for a human, can be used to destroy the demon race. Christopher, a dark charming young 'demon', also joins the college, to get Taylor and neutralize her, before she goes in the hands of Gabriel.

The two lead male characters are both unique and charming in their own angel-demon ways.  And Taylor and Sam's characterization are also adorable.  The plot is different and engaging.

But, there are some problems with the book.  The inner thoughts and turmoil of Taylor and Gabriel are frustrating at times.  There could be more action and romance, as its a young-adult.  This book lacks some magic, in spite of all the angel-demon charm.

The readers are in for a shock, when they complete the book.  You need to buy all of the trilogy to know the ending.  I enjoyed this book until the end, when I learned about this shock. 

An engaging tale, but with less shine and magic for an angel!

Series Order:

1.  Angel Evolution
2.  Demon Evolution
3.  Archangel Evolution


 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Author Tom Jackson

I recently had the pleasure of reading 'The Devil's Legacy' by Tom Jackson.  There will be many questions in your mind, regarding the Parthenon Marbles, and our history, after reading this book.  If you look into the Facebook profile of the author, there will be many recent posts regarding that.

For knowing more of the book, read my review here.  If you still have not read the book, but would like to read, participate in the giveaway below (Courtesy to author).

And the author has also shared a guest post about his research and other great things.  Read the guest post here.

Today, he has kindly accepted to offer an interview with "Books Are Magic". 

Interview

What is your favourite character in the book and why?

Difficult, because I like them all. But let’s say Johnnie Walker - because he really has hit rock bottom, and then finds a new reason to live again. And he maintains a sense of humour, even when down.

We are aware that you are going to continue this book as a series.  Any sneak peeks you can share?

Let me just say that the sequel will be set in Greece again, and will have elements of Greek shipping and international banking. Sounds boring? Not with what I have in mind!

Where did you come up with this title?

Each of the chapters is prefaced by a quotation from the works of the famous Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy, and I thought at first of using one of these as the title. However, the theme of ‘Legacy’ runs through the book on different levels, and whilst one of the characters in my novel is actually referred to several times as a ‘Devil’, again the Devil could have several connotations in the context of my novel.

Did you have any other titles in mind?

As in 3 above. Also, I did think about ‘The Devil’s Inheritance’ - but then discovered that a non-fiction/history book with this name was due out soon.

Where do you write your novel? Is it a messy desk or a great garden or a coffeeshop?  Any picture would be a great visual.

Mostly at my very messy desk in our basement, next to my pool/snooker table - although I don’t get to play pool/snooker very much nowadays. My favourite place is in the lounge at our house in Perdika. We have a wonderful view.





Apart from this series, do you have any other future literary plans?

Yes. I am really interested in doing a trilogy set in Greece in the 19th century and tracing a specific person’s life. I don’t want to say any more at this stage.

What was the hardest part about writing The Devil’s Legacy?

This is an easy one to answer. The interweaving of the various plots spanning four centuries (backwards and forwards) so that it all fits together and makes sense was very challenging. Many times I had to re-visit scenes to re-draft/amend so that ‘the whole came together as one’.

If you had the opportunity to collaborate with another author, who would be your pick?

Not sure I could collaborate with anyone. I like to develop my own ideas too much. If I were pushed I would opt for Robert Ludlum. I love the way he constructs the plots of his novels.

If you are given a second chance at your book, will you change anything in it?

No, not really. Maybe some minor points, but nothing significant. I think I must have re-written it dozens of times to get it the way I wanted.

Three 'good to know' facts about you.

Internally - I like everything I do to be perfect.
Externally - I have an easy-going approach to life.
The most important thing for me is ‘my family’.

Quick Answers

Favorite country?
Greece, of course

Favorite Prime Minister?
Winston Churchill

Favorite place?
Perdika, Aegina

Favorite pastime?
Reading

Favorite book?
Pride and Prejudice

Favorite author?
Jane Austen

Favorite series?
Yes Prime Minister, NCIS, Castle, The Mentalist

Favorite genre?
Adventure / Mystery

Favorite writing spot?
Perdika

Favorite movie?
Difficult, but . . . Casablanca - I’m a Bogart fan!

Favorite dish?
Anything Greek - the list is endless!

Favorite color?
Red

Favorite quote?
“You look like the flood’s started and you’ve just got word Noah’s rescinded your complimentary pass for ‘the Ark’.”

Your worst trait?
Impatience, when faced with bureaucracy or stupidity

Your best trait?
Imagination - I hope!

International E-book Giveaway

The author is giving away an e-book copy of The Devil's Legacy to one of you.  All you have to do is enter the giveaway below and follow the instructions.  The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  And its there for a week.  So, please stop by daily and enter the giveaway for more entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 16 January 2012

Review: Soul Seeker (The World of Lasniniar #3)

Original Title: Soul Seeker
Series: The World of Lasniniar #3
Author: Jacquelyn Smith
Publisher: WaywardScribe Press
Published Date: October 13th 2011
Genre: Fantasy


Soul Seeker is similar to The Lord of the Rings in many ways.  But still, the plot is likeable, once you get to know what the book is all about.

The plot takes place in a land where Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, Trolls and many other mythical creatures dwell.  In this land, all the lives of the elves were decided or we can say, planned out by a mystical presence called "Quenya".   Iarion, our protogonist, a shadow elf from a place called Melaralva, cannot feel any such connection towards Quenya like all other elves.  So, he roams around the lands for thousands of years, hoping to find his destiny one day.  And then there is The Fallen One, a light elf, who turned to the dark side, by stealing a little part of the Quenya.  When Iarion turns to Melaquenya, where the light elves and the rest of the Quenya reside, seeking their counsel about his destiny, the Lord and Lady of the light elves ask him to go on a quest to retrieve the stolen part of the Quenya, which might help him to know his destiny.

So, a party consisting of Iarion, his friend Barlo - a dwarf from Dwarvenhome, Silvaranwyn - a light elf and the princess of the Melaquenya (the land of the Light Elves) and Lysandir - the Learned One having the power of Fire, starts for the quest.  The rest of the plot is how the team makes friends along the way, fight the enemies and reach the Dark Land, where the Fallen One rules.  The friendship, loyalty, love and sacrifices are awesome.  And then there is deception, treachery and violence.

Most of the characters will be adored for their courage and will.  The war scenes are well brought out by the author.  They are as descriptive as possible, so that the readers can fully take in and remember the full sacrifice and courage of the warriors.  Good to read these kind of fantasy books once in a while.

An engaging fantasy read!

Series:

There are four books that are released so far in the series.  The series need not be read in order, as each book concentrates on different realms in the same land.  But forth book, Shadow Stalker, takes place some time after the "Soul Seeker" and continues with the same set of characters.

1.  Light Chaser
2.  Legacy Hunter
3.  Soul Seeker
4.  Shadow Stalker



Sunday, 15 January 2012

Guest Post: "What Inspired Me To Write My Book?" by Tom Jackson

I am honored to have Tom Jackson, author of The Devil's Legacy, today for an interesting guest post.  For quite some time, I am very interested to know the research behind "The Devil's Legacy".


About the book - The Devil's Legacy


The opening of Pandora’s Box creates pandemonium in the office of the British Prime Minister. A team is assembled to solve a two hundred year old conspiracy in order to prevent the Box’s incredible secrets from being revealed to the world and plunging British society into chaos. Will the search for truth be successful? And will it result in the restoration of a country’s stolen heritage?

What is the bizarre umbilical cord that links the 200-year old theft of the Parthenon Marbles to the Turkish Governor of Athens, Jack the Ripper, Winston Churchill, the Titanic, Napoleon Bonaparte, the British Royal family, an obscure nineteenth century Italian artist and a Koala bear?

The British government’s decision to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece triggers the opening of Pandora’s Box, covertly held for over 100 years in the vaults of the British Museum. And thus the first appalling secret is revealed--the Parthenon Marbles are counterfeit.

A team comprising archaeological experts and secret service agents is assembled under the leadership of Natalie Sinclair, a young female lawyer and Parthenon expert. The team’s mission is to find the real Marbles and ensure their return to Greece within a six-month deadline.

Success must be achieved against an intensifying background of treason, competition from an American billionaire collector, and the intervention of the Greek mafia.

Failure would threaten the very fabric of British society.

The clock is ticking!

Well, you want to know more about the book? 


And so without further ado, over to Tom Jackson!

What Inspired Me To Write My Book?

I would first like to thank my host Vidya for giving me the opportunity to participate on her blog today and talk about my debut novel, ‘The Devil’s Legacy’. I’m very happy to join you all here at ‘Books Are Magic’.

First, what inspired me to write?

Well I think I have always wanted to create . . . to share my thoughts, even as a child I took pleasure in writing - my first attempt at a short story was around the age of ten. I believe that my desire to write stems from reading. Every Monday I would visit the local lending library and stock up with five or six books to keep me going for the week. My preference is undoubtedly for the cocktail of adventure/mystery/crime. For example, I enjoy Agatha Christie, Alistair McLean, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth and Ken Follett. Although I do have a decided passion for historical novelists such as Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favourite novel), C.S. Forester, John Buchan, and naturally, Dickens.

I vividly remember a high school essay contest I won back in the autumn of 1963 the plot of which surrounded the assassinations of the American President, John F Kennedy, and the Russian Premier, Khrushchev. Within two months JFK was dead, and I was in a state of some shock. Spooky! It took me some time to get over the experience.

Anyway, for far too long, serious writing was not an option - work got in the way. What changed was early retirement. I was with a British Bank, initially in my home city of Manchester, and then here in Greece. With retirement came the resurrection of the deep-rooted desire and ambition to write.

Secondly, what about ‘The Devil’s Legacy’ itself?

Many years ago I attended a conference here in Athens on the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. The keynote speaker at the event was the late Jules Dassin (the film director and husband of Melina Mercouri). I must admit that my initial attendance at the conference was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Like the vast majority of British nationals I had little knowledge of the exact sequence of events leading up to the Parthenon Marbles being owned by Britain, and housed in the British Museum. For me they were merely another collection of antiquities we had acquired a couple of centuries ago. We owned them! Why should we just hand them back? What was the big deal?

However, the conference stimulated my curiosity, and I became interested in the actual events surrounding the removal of the Marbles by Lord Elgin’s agents. This led me to undertake research here in Athens and in the UK - including a visit to the archives of the British Museum.

This research in turn led me to the undoubted conclusion that the Marbles had been removed illegally, without any proper authority. In fact, the man actually responsible for the removal, Philip Hunt, admitted quite openly at the time that he was able to remove the Marbles only through a combination of ‘cajolery, threats and bribery’! The bottom line is that I felt, as an Englishman, I must do something to rectify the errors of our ancestors.

Thus, my research gave me the germ of an idea for a work of fiction with the removal of the Parthenon Marbles as the underlying theme - and ‘The Devil's Legacy’ was born.

There have been many publications of a purely academic nature regarding the removal of the Marbles, however, I am not aware of anything fictionalising the event - and thus felt that my novel may well offer a uniquely interesting and thought-provoking perspective. As well as a good and fun read!

One final point. I had already chosen the name of Natalie Sinclair for the main protagonist before embarking on my research in London into certain historical elements in my novel. In ‘The Devil's Legacy’ part of her backstory is that her great-grandfather had been a minor minister in Churchill’s government, and a Trustee of the British Museum. During my research I discovered that there actually was a ‘Sinclair’ who had been a minor minister in Churchill’s government, and also a Trustee of the British Museum. Again, a bit spooky!


Magical Blog Award

I am very very happy to receive the "Magical Blog Award" from Deirdra Eden Coppel at A Storybook World.

Dierdra's words - "You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you the Magical Blog Award for all the hard work you do! There are no pass along requirements. This is just to reward you for all the hard work you do!"


At last, I got my own unicorn and I love it.  Thanks Dierdra!

About Dierdra:

Deirdra is a fresh new author with a strong voice and a passion for creative marketing in a changing literary world. She works full time as a professional writer and illustrator. In 2009 she began creating animation for e-books.

Deirdra has spent the last decade captivating audiences of all ages with her novels and fairy tales. Her specialty is paranormal that delves into documented historical phenomenon and natural disasters of biblical proportions that entices indulgence of a fine line between fact and fantasy.

Thanks Dierdra, once again!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Review: The Boy Who Flew With Eagles

Original Title: The Boy Who Flew With Eagles
Author: Ben Woodard
Published Date: November 6th 2011
Genre: Children's

Excerpt from Goodreads:
An adventure story of a boy challenged to save a family of eagles or become their meal. With famine looming for animals and humans, the boy works to feed the eagles and learns their wisdom. As a reward for his help, he asks the eagles to teach him to fly. The book depicts his struggle, both mentally and physically, to fly and convince his people that fewer salmon each year are due to their actions. The story combines myth, environmental awareness and the concept of working together. It is a short middle grade novel.
Review:

*** Thanks to the Women's Literary Cafe for the review copy! ***

"The boy who flew with eagles" is about a boy named Naa'ki, who was carried away by a giant Mother Eagle as food.  After making a deal with the Eagle, that he would feed the eaglets and the Mother Eagle by catching fish, Mother Eagle lets Naa'ki live.  While in his time with the eagles, Naa'ki learns so much about the problems of other animals.  Also, he asks the Mother Eagle to teach him how to fly.  After some attempts, Naa'ki learns their techniques about flying.  With the new found knowledge about flying and about the importance of the lives of the forest, Naa'ki sets out to his village to share with his populace.  I don't want to put in more spoilers to the readers..so, please read the ending for yourself.

The author has a beautiful message to the readers.  For all to live, we must share.  We, humans, have exploited so many resources, that Mother Nature has provided  us without any questions.  Its time for us to think, for once, wisely and know about the conservation of resources.  Personally, this message should be out in the world for everyone to read and learn.

The illustrations, that are in each chapter, are so apt and speak volumes.  The book is recommended to everyone - kids or adults.  A great read and an awesome leason!


Friday, 13 January 2012

Review: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)

Original Title: Catching Fire
Series: The Hunger Games #2
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published Date: September 1st 2009
Genre: Dystopian, Young-adult, Science-fiction


I finished this book 24 hours before and from that moment, I keep thinking the same - "What is it with this author?  Why is she sooooo.. Oh! Forget it!".  Seriously!  What is it with this author and writing!  I am mad, when I finished this book.  All the time, I keep praying for the characters in the book and then THE WORST CLIFFHANGER EVER!

For those of you, who are hearing about this book/series for the first time, please see the The Hunger Games #1 review, before reading this.


Katniss Everdean and Peeta Mellark, after coming alive from the 74th Hunger Games, did not feel happy or safe with the winnings.  The aftermath of the Hunger Games seems to torture them even in their dreams.  Katniss begins settling into her new life as victor, where she never has to hunt or work for food and she has more money, than everyone else in her District.  Katniss is unsure of how she is feeling towards Peeta and Gale (her friend from childhood), while both Peeta and Gale are in love with her.

But what Katniss doesn't know is, there is a rebellion starting against the Capitol, keeping Katniss as their symbol. This news comes through the President Snow, who threatens her that if she fails to convince the people that all she had done in the arena is due to love and not to evade the Capitol, then her whole district will be destroyed.  While she decides on how to go about all this, she finds two women, who say they are headed for District 13, which the Government claims to have destroyed.  

Katniss convinces herself that the information about District 13 must not be true and she starts thinking of running away from District 12 to save her family from the President.   But, before she can take another step towards it, the Government announces Quarter Quell - the celebration of the 75 years of Hunger Games, where every District has to offer two of their previous tributes (one male and one female) for the 75th Hunger Games - and Katniss finds herself entering again into the worst place again, to save Peeta this time, instead of her.  Again, THE 75th HUNGER GAMES begins and the adventure rolls.

Katniss, the girl on fire, is actually on fire, this time.  I like Katniss, who always concentrates on the problem at hand, rather than mulling around her unfortunate circumstances or discomforts, even when there is utter hopelessness.  Both outside or inside the arena, there is a knife point always hanging over her head.  

The plot and storytelling are so powerful, that I felt myself pulled inside the book.  The arena and all the dangerous stuff that the people face there, are both scary and spell-binding.  No way would I have guessed any of it.  The feeling of sadness towards the second half of the book is so high, because of the losses and sacrifices that takes place.  Well, there is always a huge cost, when revolution begins.  At the cliffhanger at the end of the book, I completely lost it.  I would have thrown the book and hunted for Suzanne Collins for such unfairness, but then I remembered the third book is already out and calmed down.  Starting with it..immediately!

Another best from Suzanne Collins!  A must read!  A 5+ star book, again!


Series

1.  The Hunger Games - For review and trailer, click here
2.  Catching Fire
3.  Mockingjay

Time magazine named Catching Fire was the fourth top fiction book of 2009, while People magazine rated it their eighth Best Book of 2009. It also won Publishers Weekly's Best Book of the Year for 2009 award.

Lionsgate announced that a film adaption of Catching Fire will be released November 22, 2013,[18] as a sequel to the film adaption of The Hunger Games, which will be released March 23, 2012.


Some Favorite Quotes


“I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever."
“We had to save you because you're the mockingjay, Katniss," says Plutarch. "While you live, the revolution lives.”
“The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion.”
“Technically, I am unarmed. But no one should ever underestimate the harm that fingernails can do. Especially if the target is unprepared.”
“At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.”
“I can only form one clear thought. This is no place for a girl on fire.”


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Dusty Reads #1


Dusty Reads is a weekly meme, hosted at .Xpresso Reads, featuring a book that has been sitting unread on my home shelf for some time.



My pick this week

The Immortals of Meluha (Shiva Trilogy #1)
Author: Amish Tripati
Released: April 1st 2010


1900 BC. In what modern Indians mistakenly call the Indus Valley Civilisation. The inhabitants of that period called it the land of Meluha a near perfect empire created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram, one of the greatest monarchs that ever lived. This once proud empire and its Suryavanshi rulers face severe perils as its primary river, the revered Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis. To make matters worse, the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracised and sinister race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills!

The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient legend: When evil reaches epic proportions, when all seems lost, when it appears that your enemies have triumphed, a hero will emerge.

Is the rough-hewn Tibetan immigrant Shiva, really that hero? And does he want to be that hero at all? Drawn suddenly to his destiny, by duty as well as by love, will Shiva lead the Suryavanshi vengeance and destroy evil?

So, have you read this book?  And what books you have, that has to be dusted?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Review: Dink and Daisy

Original Title: Dink and Daisy
Author: Joyce Mitchell
Publisher: CreateSpace
Published Date: September 29th 2011
Genre: Children's


Excerpt from Goodreads
Dink and Daisy is a fictional story of one not so cute ox-eye daisy (Dink) and a beautiful Gerbera daisy ( Daisy) who were accidentally planted in the wrong place and it seemed they would never be noticed by the owner (Barton's). The goal of all daisies was to be placed in a beautiful bouquet in the Barton's house as a place of beauty and honor.Their story displays how even when not as expected life can still turn out good if we "bloom where we are planted".

Review

This book is about the journey of two daisy plants, from their seed phase to a bouquet inside the house. Dink and Daisy are those unfortunate plants, who become friends in due course and always there for one another. Their aim is to reach the bouquet. But as they are in the unsafe area - a sidewalk of their owner's house, they were faced with many problems, which contributes to the rest of the book.

This is a children's book and so they are light and cool. There can be some pictures, than using so many words. Kids are not usually used to read these kind of books without pictures. Atleast one picture for each chapter should do, to keep the kids get interested.

The book focuses on the moral that kids should learn through this journey of the daisies that, our job is to bloom no matter where we are placed in the world.

Some favorite quotes

She'll tell you quick it's her way or the highway!

This is where the good Lord put me, and I want to bloom where I'm planted.



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