Sunday, 29 November 2015

ARC Book Review: Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Published: September 2015

Pages: 283


After ten years of being told she can't tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she's going crazy. Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real. But all is not well in Wonderland. The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful. But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl? Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tale are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows. Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace. With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

ARC Book Review: Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Bookouture

Series: Detective Jennifer Knight #2

Published: September 2015

Pages: 338


He will predict your life... and your death. Don't ever cross his palm with silver. He will reveal your most shameful secrets. He will predict your death. He is hiding a secret. He is hiding a monster. And all his predictions come true. Investigating a series of chilling murders, Detective Jennifer Knight finds herself tracking a mysterious tarot card reader known only as The Raven. As the death toll rises, Jennifer and her team build a picture of a serial killer on the edge of sanity, driven by dark forces. But these are not random killings. And the method behind the madness could be the most terrifying thing of all... Especially when it seems the death of one of their own is on the cards. Time to Die is an absolutely gripping serial killer thriller with a breath-taking supernatural twist.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

GUEST POST by Michelle Hauck - How NaNoWriMo Motivated Me

Hey everyone! Today, I'm really excited to be hosting Michelle Hauck, author of GRUDGING (out today!), who's here to share with us her experience participating in NaNoWriMo. Thank you so much, Michelle!

I want to tell you why entering NaNoWriMo (National Write a Novel in a Month) can be a blessing. But first let's go back a little ways.

It was fall of 2013, and I had just landed a literary agent as summer ended. My middle grade manuscript was out on submission with all the big name publishers. People from HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin and Random House (this was before their imprints merged) were reading my little story. There was really nothing further I could do. It was out of my hands. That meant it was time to move forward with a fresh manuscript. Something to give my agent if the middle grade didn't get a six-figure offer.

If you're not a writer, you don't know how hard that can be. These are your darling characters. You've slaved over them for months. You've become attached. You know them as well as you know yourself - how they'll react, how they think. The characters from your last book are familiar friends. It hurts to leave them, sort of like a break up. And for someone new. Some character you don't know the least thing about yet. Ugh. It's so difficult.

But necessary.

Maybe some writers can jump straight into another story, but I always need a bit of cooling off period first. I took a month. A month wasn't too long. Then things came up. It stretched to two months. How could I concentrate on something new when the big people were reading my pages? Might contact me at any moment with a high-powered deal.

But a little voice kept saying, "And what if they don't. What will you have to show your agent?"

Darn it all. The little voice was right. I needed to get busy. So I searched around for something to write about and came up with a big, fat nothing. I'm not a big idea person who can crank out ideas for novel plots at the drop of a hat. Luckily, I heard a song on the radio. I won't go into details too much because I talked about this in several other interviews, but this song (Come Along by Vicci Martinez) had marvelous lines for a fantasy story. It got me thinking about sirens using their voices to lure people. About characters who might be friends or they might be enemies, and maybe it took them a long time to decide which. About a city surrounded by foes and a blood-thirsty army, and the desperate lengths it would send people.

So I had enough of an idea for a couple of chapters. I could picture a character or two. As a pantser writer (no outline or detailed plan), that's really all I needed. Now I just had to sit down at the laptop and face the blank screen and put down some words. But... but what if it wasn't perfect. Or what if my agent called with good news and I had to switch gears again? Maybe I should check my email inbox about 500 more times first. I could start this new story tomorrow. Tomorrow was soon enough.

A couple of days of this and it became apparent that I needed help. That's when inspiration struck. NaNoWriMo started in a few days!

I'd never tried to enter this before. There was no way I could write 50,000 words in a month. I'm way too slow of a writer. I average a chapter a week on a good week. That would be four chapters in a month, possibly 12,000 words. Far short of the 50,000 word goal to enter NaNoWriMo. And I didn't like that kind of pressure. But this year was different. This year I tasted desperation. I needed to get going on writing something.

So I took the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo in November of 2013. On November 1st, I took off like a shot and got a respectable word count for a single day of close to 1,500. I was impressed with myself. And better, I was learning about my new characters, getting a feel for the new story. And the page wasn't blank anymore.

The days went by and I reported my word count on Twitter under the #NaNoWriMo tag. I was falling farther and father behind on the goals. Within two weeks, other people were declaring themselves finished. They'd reached the 50K mark. I was still at 10K. But I didn't feel bad. NaNoWriMo had motivated me. By the end of the month I'd reached an astounding total for me - 20,000 words.

But despite "losing" at NaNoWriMo my new story was off. I had ideas. I had an interest in seeing where the characters would take me. I forgot to stare at my inbox, waiting to hear from my agent. (That middle grade story never did sell.) I knew I would finish this one. And finish I did, in an unspectacular ten months, instead of one.

But you know what else?

I edited that story that lost in NaNoWriMo. I sent it to my agent and we revised some more. It went out into submission land where big people read it. It landed a three book deal with a Big 5 publisher called HarperCollins. Now I have the first installment of a trilogy coming out from Harper Voyager on November 17th. A little story called Grudging that came from a song, and was made possible because NaNoWriMo forced me to be responsible and write.

About the book

A world of chivalry and witchcraft...and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa... demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

November 17, 2015
Published by Harper Voyager

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

About Michelle

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly query contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy from Harper Voyager starts with GRUDGING on November 17, 2015. Her epic fantasy, KINDAR'S CURE, was published by Divertir Publishing.

Find her online

Goodreads: Grudging
Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Book Review: Mistress of Justice by Jeffery Deaver

Publisher: Rizzoli

Published: March 2012 (first published 1992)

Pages: 466


Taylor Lockwood spends her days working as a paralegal in one of New York's preeminent Wall Street law firms and her nights playing jazz piano anyplace she can. But the rhythm of her life is disrupted when attorney Mitchell Reece requests her help in locating a stolen document that could cost him not only the multimillion-dollar case he's defending, but his career as well. Eager to get closer to this handsome, brilliant and very private man, Taylor signs on... only to find that as she delves deeper and deeper into what goes on behind closed doors at Hubbard, White & Willis, she uncovers more than she wants to know - including a plentitude of secrets damaging enough to smash careers and dangerous enough to push someone to commit murder. Yet, who is capable of going to that extreme? With her life on the line, Taylor is about to learn the lethal answer...

Sunday, 1 November 2015

October 2015 Wrap-Up!

Bye-bye October, hello November! 

Another busy, busy month is over, and a new one is beginning. Reading and blogging-wise, October has been a terrible month. I have fallen behind on SO MANY activities! I have been working a lot outside of home, so of course that has taken its toll on my free time (spoiler: it's been basically non-existent). And I have a feeling that November will not be that different...

BUT! I still managed to read three books in October! This is quite below my average so far this year, but I'm still very pleased, considering I had very little reading time this month. 

Once Upon a Time: Red's Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver - 4/5 stars
The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen by R. T. Lowe - 3.5/5 stars
Mistress of Justice by Jeffery Deaver - 3/5 stars (full review to come)

What I added to my shelves

Mistress of Justice by Jeffery Deaver - from the library
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro - from the library
Io Amo: Piccola Filosofia dell'Amore by Vito Mancuso - gifted by a friend
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher - thanks to the publisher and NetGalley!
Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons - thanks to Curiosity Quills Press and NetGalley!
Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn - thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy!

My Plans for November

I'm always kind of wary of making big plans for my reading, since I have a distinct tendency not to follow them. I'm definitely a mood reader, so I often change idea on what book to pick up at the very last moment. But, this month, I will try to stick to my schedule!

- The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro - I'm reading this now, and I will definitely finish it very soon, because it is due back to the library. That's motivation for you!
- Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell - My other current read, this one for review. I definitely plan on finishing this pretty soon, because I am very curious to see how things will turn for DI Jennifer Knight.

I also hope to get through some of the review copies that I have neglected until now. In particular, I'll try to read:
- Never Never by Brianna Shrum
Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons
- The Traitor by Seth Dickinson

I'm linking up with Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
What about you? How was your October? What are your reading goals for November? Tell me EVERYTHING in the comments!