31 May 2011


I've been looking again at my WiP, but seem to have hit a sticking point. I've got a particular outcome I need to happen, but am having trouble on how to get there. Perhaps this seems like a backwards way of doing it, but the current run of events doesn't seem to work, and I need to find an alternative that flows well.

To motivate myself I decided to draw out some of the characters and write little notes about them to give myself a better picture of what they are like.

Here's hoping my writing is better than my drawing ;)

How do you motivate yourself, or get around blocks in your writing?

30 May 2011


As I was given all 3 of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate books as a gift from my lovely boyfriend, and read them one after the other, I thought it would be appropriate to do mini reviews of all 3. I must however give you a WARNING: SPOILER ALERT - reading the reviews will give away spoilers for the other books. I.e. if you don't want to know what happens at the end of book 1, don't read the review for book 2.

The Parasol Protectorate Series (#1-3)
Author: Gail Carriger
UK Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Steampunk, Paranormal Romance

When she accidentally kills a vampire, Alexia Tarabotti becomes embroiled in the mystery of disappearing werewolves and vampires.  Her lack of a soul, which can neutralise supernatural powers, makes her a natural enemy of supernaturals, but now she must get to the bottom of the mystery before she disappears too.
The first thing I noticed about the story and its characters was its similarities to Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' - the main character, headstrong Alexi Tarabotti; her silly sisters and sillier mother; and the gruff but eligible love interest, Lord Maccon. I couldn’t help but like the snarky Alexia, who is determined and stubborn and on occasion very un-ladylike, and enjoyed the interplay between her and Lord Maccon.
Garriger’s comedic wit drew me in and the plot kept me guessing what would happen next. The supernatural theme has been given a new twist with Alexia's preternatural 'condition', a counter to the supernatural state, touching lightly on the issue of what the ‘soul’ is. I really enjoyed the Victorian setting and its lashings of steampunk features – who could not like the carriages, old fashioned rules to courting young men, and of course, the dresses!
Rating: 4*

Having married Lord Maccon and become protector/investigator for the Crown, Alexia is taken to Scotland in her attempt to solve why werewolves in Lord Maccon’s pack are no longer able to shape shift. It seems however that someone is intent upon keeping Alexia from reaching Scotland and solving the mystery, and Alexia must discover who it is before it’s too late.
On the journey to Scotland, we are introduced to the mysterious character, Madame LeFoux, whose eccentricities I adore (including her wearing of men's clothes, and attractions towards Alexia). With attempts being made to kill Alexia, those around her including her best frienIvy Hisselpenny and Madame LeFoux, become subject to suspicion.
Once again, Carriger finishes with a great plot twist at the end, and the witty dialogue continues throughout, however at some points the story lacked a certain depth. Effeminate vampires and friends with deplorable hats added humour, but not necessarily any sustenance.
Rating 3.5*

Having been falsely accused of certain indiscretions by her husband and publicly shunned, Alexia decides to visit to Europe the birthplace of her father and learn more about the Preternatural condition. Being hunted by vampires, the journey with Madame LeFoux, and Floote,  turns into a race towards the apparent safety of the templars, who also have an interest in preternaturals. And in Alexia.
Being fond of Professor Lyall, the werewolf second in command, as well as Madame LeFoux and Floote, I was pleased that they all featured more in this book. Professor Lyall and Floote both add a sensible yet humourous element to the snarky stubbornness that surrounds both Alexia and Lord Maccon, whilst Madame LeFoux smoulders with an adventurous sex appeal. Lord Maccon’s reaction and treatment of Aleixa is rather disappointing, as he doesn’t stand beside her in a time of need, but rejects her. It will take a lot to feel their relationship is back on track.
Blameless was full of action, intrigue, as well as Carriger’s usual wit. Mystery surrounds the Templars, and what their interest in Preternaturals might mean. Hints that were dropped in Changeless come to fruition at the start of Blameless, and promise an interesting development in the understanding of supernatural conditions as well as a possible new addition to the Maccon family.
Rating: 4*

Overall, I really enjoyed the series as light-hearted and humorous: the characters are interesting, the dialogue is witty, the plot lines keep you guessing, and there’s a big dollop of steampunk thrown in to boot!

27 May 2011


Over to this weeks Book Blog Hop, hosted by Jen at Crazy For Books. This week's question comes from Britta who blogs at I Like These Books:


I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s ‘The Golden Compass’ – it was steampunk, spectacular, visually beautiful, and felt very true to the original story. It was just such a shame that they never made books #2&3 into films either.

I also really enjoy watching Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’. I love the animation, the colours, everything!

Despite the fact that pretty much every book is better than its film version, I can’t really think of any films that I dislike per say. But if I had to pick my least favourite adaptation, I would pick  the Narnia series. For some reason the actors playing the siblings just gripe me. I don’t know why – I know it’s irrational – but there it is. It wouldn’t stop me from the films, but it would be like an itch I needed to scratch.

How about you? What film adaptations do you love/hate?

26 May 2011


IMM was started by the lovely Kristi (over at Story Siren) - check out their blogs for more information. This week, I got some lovely books for my birthday - yippee!

Die for Me (Revenants #1), Amy Plum
My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. 
Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent. 
Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.
While I'm fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family's—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

Dead Beautiful (Dead Beautiful #1), Yvonne Woon
On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she'd ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.
After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”
It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.
Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life.
Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

Black Swan Rising (Black Swan Rising #1)
, Lee Carroll
When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . .
That evening, the precious silver box is stolen. When Garet begins to investigate, she learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old, and opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan and the world at large. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity—one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet’s family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of this prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to reclaim the box and defeat this devastating force?
On her journey, she will meet the fey folk who walk unnoticed among humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager that she can’t stop thinking about. But the fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Whom can Garet trust to guide her? Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she’s got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world.

25 May 2011


Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)
Author: Suzanne Collins
UK Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: YA, Dystopian

Summary: In an attempt to stop rebellions across Panem, we saw in Catching Fire past winners were previously made to re-enter the Hunger Games in a special Quarter Quell. Having been rescued from these games by District 13, an underground community bent on the destruction of the Capitol, Katniss must now decide if she can really become the face of the rebel alliance. Peeta, captured instead by the Capitol, is now a prisoner and voice-piece of President Snow. Katniss must decide what she will risk to save Peeta and Panem.

Review: Suzanne Collins has truly become a master of the end-of-chapter cliff-hanger. Just when you think things are going smoothly, some drastic event happens or the story takes a twisting and unexpected turn. You’re left shocked and horrified, but you can’t wait to find out what will happen next. This helps keep the pace flowing and the suspense building.

In Mockingjay, we start seeing more of Gale, as he utilizes his knowledge and experience of hunting to help develop war machines and strategies. It isn’t necessarily a happy development, as he becomes more brutal in his view of the Capitol and the innocent citizens who are part of it. Whilst this might sway us (or Katniss) towards favouring Peeta, the Capitol cruelly manipulates Peeta so that he no longer sees Katniss in the same way. Knowing his real character, it’s really sad to see Peeta fall to the Capitol’s mind control and memory-altering tactics, however Katniss cannot give up hope for Peeta, despite his continued attempts at self-sacrifice.

Katniss’ growing use of Morphling, like others characters’ addictions to alcohol or drugs, show how survivors of the Hunger Games try to come to terms with post-traumatic stress, blackmail and manipulation by the Capitol and the deaths of loved ones. It is sad to see strong characters resorting to such means to block out reality, however it is a realistic and human way of showing the effects of the awful trials they have been through and helps make the struggle for independence even more important and valuable.

As a culmination to the series, it really will shock you, have you in tears, and keep you gripped to every page!

Rating: 4*

23 May 2011


I’ve decided to experiment a little…as I spend so much time working and then when I get home cooking, I get precious little time to write. So I thought I would write a short story in instalments. With a difference. You get to decide where the story goes by voting for what you think should happen next. I will write the next part of the story incorporating the most popular choice. (If this works, then I guess it could become a regular feature. If not, no loss.) Here is part one…don’t forget to vote on what should happen in part two! (Feedback on the writing is more than welcome too!)


As the door swished open and closed, letting in a frigid blast of February air, I looked up from my half drunk coffee. Normally I’d say half-full, but having been kept waiting for half an hour I was quickly becoming a half-empty kind of gal.
The man walking in was tall, smartly dressed and fairly attractive. But not the one I was waiting for.
I swirled the coffee around the chipped, stained mug, watching the last few bits of dirty foam settle up the sides. I certainly hadn’t picked this place for its quality coffee or buzzing atmosphere.
It was just after five in the afternoon and already fully dark, but the post-work rush had only consisted of a pair of workmen in dirty jeans and neon jackets and an older woman who looked like work had robbed her of any life she might have had this morning. Her silk blouse was creased and her makeup was making its decent down her face into the worn lines of her skin.
Waiting was certainly taking its toll on me. Like most people I didn’t mind a good gossip every now and again. But I wouldn’t normally be this judgemental and bitchy. Perhaps it was the coffee buzz wearing off.
Whatever it was, Lucas wasn’t going to see a pretty side to me tonight.
In fact, he’d be damn lucky to see me at all. I threw on my scarf, grabbed my coat off the back of the plastic chair and picked up my bag. Just as I was standing, a firm pair of hands gripped the top of my upper arms.
I looked up startled.
A pair of ice blue eyes stared at me like they were trying to freeze me in place. “Not leaving, were you?”
Shaking off the grip holding me in place and most likely bruising myself in the process, I tore my gaze from those burning eyes. I hoisted my bag onto my shoulder. “A lady can only wait so long for a gentleman, Lucas.”
Lucas burst out laughing, a deep rumbling laugh that broke through his eyes and showed across his face.
At least the awkward silence that had been building was broken. “Well then my fair Eve, would you at least let me buy you another coffee in the hope you might forgive me?”
Lucas looked down at the remains of my coffee, and as if realising for the first time where he was and grimaced, “Or whatever passes for coffee here.”
I allowed myself a quick smile. In his polished loafers and tailored suit, this wouldn’t be a usual haunt for the likes of Lucas. Not that there were many like Lucas.
Or at least I hoped there weren’t.
By the time I had pulled off my coat and scarf and sat back down, Lucas was walking back from the counter with two cups of steaming coffee. At least the hotness of the coffee made up for its gritty taste.
I wrapped my hands protectively around the cup. I wondered where they had managed to acquire a couple of china cups and saucers?
As Lucas stirred his cup and took a tentative sip, I allowed myself a look at the man sitting in front of me, with his long fingers, strong jaw line, and piercing blue eyes.
Lucas looked up, catching me watching him. A small smile lifted the corner of his mouth. I could feel my cheeks warm.
Sparing me any further embarrassment, Lucas cut straight to the chase. “You obviously didn’t invite me here to share a cup of jo,and chat about the good ol’ days. I presume you wanted some privacy, away from prying eyes.”
I nodded. Lucas could read me like a book. I only wish I could do the same with him.

To decide what you think should happen in PART TWO, vote below by commenting. Should:
  • Lucas be a supernatural?
  • Eve reveal a secret about their past that has come back to haunt them?
  • Lucas make Eve an offer she can’t refuse?
  • Other: leave your idea below for others to vote on.

20 May 2011


The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy For Books. This week's question comes from Ivan who blogs at Ivan Bookworm:


This is really difficult because so many books are rife with turmoil and wars, and I'm not sure I would want to be there! But, I would like to visit Victorian England, and the world in the Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, ie Soulless. Victorian steampunk, with a supernatural twist - as long as I get to ride in carriages and wear beautiful dresses, sounds like fun to me!
Where would you go?

14 May 2011


I like surprises, and today I definitely got a big one when I arrived home!

A shiny new copy of The Unremembered (Vault of Heaven #1) by Peter Orullian arrived through my letterbox today.

Eek, excited!

2 May 2011


Thanks to a book sale that was run in our work's office, I got all 10 Sookie Stackhouse books (including the additional short stories, A Touch of Dead) for £10.

Bargain! So now I'm re-reading them all!

What book bargains have you got lately?