A Day In My Life – September 12, 2015

Back at the start of August, Celine Jeanjean tagged me in a meme, in which one is required to chronicle a day in their life by posting a photo from every hour. I have to be honest, if I were to do a ‘normal’ day for me, it would just be a million shots of the computer, maybe interspersed with some food. So why do that, when I could do a day I spent in the 1920s last weekend? (Honestly, this is mostly just an excuse for me to post lots of photos of myself looking far more glam than I usually do). My partner, Edy, and I traveled to Melbourne last Friday to attend the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries costume exhibition and 1920s Garden Party at Rippon Lea Estate on Saturday.

(For the uninitiated, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a crime show set in 1920s Melbourne. Phryne Fisher is a socialite/lady detective who helps the local police solve crime. It’s a stunning show to look at, and the cast are fabulous. I recommend it to everyone. The first two series are on Netflix. The third only aired in Australia earlier this year, so I’m not sure when it’ll show up Elizabeth just informed me in the comments that the third is also on Netflix now, in the US at least.).

It was wonderful. So without further ado:

Continue reading

Writing Regrets: The Fear of Failure

Some great advice from Kate Sparkes.

disregard the prologue

I don’t do a lot of advice posts here. I don’t feel qualified. I’m happy to answer questions in private and chat about writing until you want to duct-tape my mouth shut, but for the most part I keep posts to talking about my work, releases, and whatever else is going on in my life.

Today, I’m going to make an exception.

We’re not going to talk about how to write, how to outline, how to create characters, or how to find an editor. Today is just going to be me sharing one big regret from my life as a writer in the hopes I can encourage someone else to not make the same mistake. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I think it might help someone out there, so here goes.

Ready?

I wish I’d had the courage to write shitty books.

Does that sound strange? Let me…

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Brief Hiatus

Hello everyone

I’m just posting this to let you know I’m going to go on a brief blog hiatus until the end of August. Writing blog posts is kind of time consuming, and I really need to spend that time on the 3000 word essay I have due on August 31, but am yet to really start. I’ll see you again in September!

~ Emily

Book Review: The Madman’s Daughter series by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman’s Daughter series
Author: Megan Shepherd
Genre: YA/sci-fi
Date Read: 22/06/2015 – 22/07/2015 (intermittently)
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

madmancoverI’m reviewing this series as a whole because I’m not sure that i wouldn’t repeat myself a lot if I wrote three separate ones. This is not to say that the three books are all the same if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. It’s just that have similar themes running through them, and obviously the same characters, so I think I would end up saying similar things.

The three books in the series are The Madman’s Daughter, Her Dark Curiosity and A Cold Legacy and they are based on The Island of Dr Moreau by H. G. Wells, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley respectively.

In book one, we meet Juliet Moreau, a sixteen-year-old whose scientist father disappeared amid much scandal several years before. Juliet learns that he may in fact not be dead, as she had always thought, and travels to a near-inhospitable island to learn what he has been doing all these years. There she learns that the rumours were really not so far from the truth, and she only just escapes the island with her life.

In the second book, Juliet is back in London, where a spate of murders have been taking place. The one thing the victims all have in common: they had all wronged Juliet in some way. As she struggles to track down the murderer and realises that perhaps one of her father’s creations escaped the island and followed her home, she also learns that her father’s research is a lot more sought after than she thought, and she is forced to weigh up the lives of the few against the lives of the many.

In the third, Juliet and her friends take refuge in the von Stein estate in northern Scotland. But still, they aren’t safe from the beasts that have toyed with them.

These are very dark books, make no mistake. There is violence, bloodshed, detailed description of medical procedures, along with awful treatment of animals. They are not for the faint-hearted. Juliet herself is quite a morally ambiguous character; while she wants to ensure that she does not follow in her father’s footsteps, there are times when she sees it as the only option. The books are written in first person, which usually annoys me a bit, but Juilet’s narration didn’t, I think because she was darker than most of the leads in YA. There were times when she was waxing lyrical about her main love interest, and that wore a bit thin, but for the most part, it worked.

Speaking of love interests, there is something of a love triangle, but it’s messed up and actually serves the plot, for once! And by the end of the series, it has actually worked itself into a square, when another character comes into it. All that subversion of the usual YA romance tropes was really refreshing to read.

There were some weird themes running through it, especially the third book, which I didn’t agree with (apparently it is impossible for Juliet to take after someone she is not related to, even if it’s that person’s personality and not his genetics?) but I was able to overlook those for the most part.

Overall, I highly recommend this series, though only to those with a strong constitution!

Cover Reveal: Alicia by Gloria Weber

It’s time for another cover reveal! This one is for Alicia, by Gloria Weber.

First, though, here’s the synopsis:

Leon has decided it is better to remain silent and accused of Alicia’s murder than admit the truth. The truth, well… that’s so unbelievable it’s crazy.  Not that Detective Dorndorf believes a word that comes out of Leon’s mouth. Dorndorf just wants a confession and figures dragging Leon to the last spot Alicia was seen might just pry it out of him.  Will the detective’s plan work or will the truth come out?

Intriguing, right?

And, now here’s the cover, followed by a trailer as well!

aliciacover

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely intrigued, and I’ll certainly be grabbing a copy when this is released.

I’ll leave you with a bit more about Gloria and where you can find her:

Gloria Weber lives in Ohio with her husband, son, daughter, and many pets. She has been writing for publication since March 2006 with over a dozen titles published. Her favorite letter is L.

Website: http://gloriaweber.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @GloriaWeber ~ http://twitter.com/GloriaWeber
G+: http://plus.google.com/107706782152210234267/posts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GloriaWeberWriter
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/GloriaWeber

Alicia will be available for $0.99 from Amazon and Solstice Publishing’s website (http://solsticepublishing.com/)

Book Review: The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts by K. C Tansley

Title: The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts (The Unbelievables #1)
Author: K. C. Tansley
Genre: YA/paranormal
Date Read: 10/05/2015 – 25/05/2015
Rating: ★★★

Review:

ignoredghostsI have three disclaimers for this review. First up, my ARC was received for free as the prize in a giveaway. Secondly, this book had the disadvantage of being read when my life was super busy and I was going a bit crazy with everything, so I probably wasn’t in the right mindset unfortunately. At another time, this may have totally got an extra star or two. Thirdly, because I finished the book at the end of May and am writing my review at the end of June, the review is probably also somewhat lacking, and for that I apologise.

Another thing to note: I read an ARC. The book itself comes out today and you can buy it here! Talk about timing! (I’ll make sure I schedule this post in such a way that it is Friday in most parts of the world, rather than just Australia, when it goes up).

All right, now for an actual review.

Kat Preston refuses to believe in ghosts after an experience that left her with her soul nearly torn out of her body. She’s been doing pretty well, but when a school assignment involves visiting the site of a century-old unsolved murder, suddenly she’s not only surrounded by ghosts, but due to a portal in a mirror, sucked back in time and into the body of one of the guests in the days leading up the murder. Her research partner, Evan, follows her through, and they find themselves trying both to stop a murder from happening and also find their way home before they fade away completely.

There is a lot packed into this book’s 256 pages. The book has supernatural creatures, time travel, a murder mystery and a dash of romance. I found it most interesting when Kat and Evan were sent back in time, both in terms of the plot but also the way in which the story was written. The book is in first person from Kat’s POV, but often she has no control over the body of the woman she is possessing in the past, and the narrative is almost in third person, describing that characters’ actions. This may annoy some readers, but I actually found it kept me interested.

It’s hard to say too much else without giving away important plot information, but suffice to say, even once Kat and Evan make it home, the adventure is not over. Kat is able to start learning more about her gift of seeing the dead, but the ghosts of the murder victims are not their only issue… There is enough set-up for future books in the series but enough resolution that you don’t feel like the author wrote one book and then chopped it in half at an exciting bit.

I think my main issue with the book was that apart from Kat, I never really felt that invested in any of the characters, despite everything that was happening around them. The historical characters were a bit more interesting than the modern ones, but I did have a bit of trouble keeping track of them as well.

All in all, though, this is an entertaining beginning to a series with an original concept. I look forward to more!

Cover Reveal: First Choice, Second Chance by Fallon Brown

I’m really excited today to be taking part in Fallon Brown‘s cover reveal for her upcoming release, First Choice, Second Chance. The book is coming out on August 18, but you can pre-order it on Amazon if you like the sound of it. Or, if you don’t have Kindle, you can mark it as to read on GoodReads.

Here’s a quick synopsis:

One wrong choice doesn’t have to lead to another.

Seven years ago, he watched her drive away.

Lila Corelli was the love of Mason Akeley’s life, but she chose a music career and another man over him. He thought it would destroy him, but he’s been scraping by; on the family farm and in life. Now, she’s back in town, and he feels like he’s barely hanging on.

She made a wrong choice.

Lila knows she made a mistake. She thought she had been on the right path; to her career, love, her life. Instead, she never saw the disaster one wrong choice could cause. Now, with everything gone, she returns to her hometown, hoping to find her way to a new path.

Mason’s love for Lila has never died, but he’s afraid to open himself to be hurt again. Lila chose the wrong future once, and she worries she’ll be making another bad choice that will only lead to more destruction. But, if they can untangle their past from their present, they just might be able to find their future together.

Now, the bit you’ve all been waiting for, the cover, designed by Marianne Nowicki.

FirstChoiceSecondChanceSmallerWebUseIsn’t that gorgeous?

Just as an extra teaser, here’s an excerpt as well:

He held up a hand to stop her. “Give me a shot of Jack.” He caught Lila at the edge of his vision. “Actually make it a double.”

Jess hesitated then poured the drink and passed it over to him. He took the first sip and winced at the burn. He wasn’t sure if he would ever get used to it. The whiskey warmed the parts of him that had gone cold with Lila’s arrival. He kept his eyes focused on the wall across the bar as he took the second sip. He still knew the moment she stepped up beside him. He didn’t know if her scent still lived in his memory and he recognized it, or if it went deeper. He didn’t even have to hear her voice. It was in his head, in his dreams, every day and every night. When she ordered a drink, it twisted around his heart again.

His fingers tightened around the glass. He was almost afraid it would shatter right there in his fist. He dragged in some air through his nose, but it only came back out sounded strangled. He started to turn away. He needed to put some space between them. He couldn’t handle having her so close. As soon as he took a step, her hand was on his arm, the muscles in it cording tighter. “Mason.”

He was going to explode, shatter into tiny pieces no one would ever be able to put back together again. He had to get away. He didn’t even respond to her saying his name. He set the glass on the top of the bar. It must have been harder than he planned because a crack sounded when he did it. He didn’t even look back.

“Put it on my tab, Jess. All of it.”

His head pounded. He didn’t think it was the alcohol or the music. It was Lila. It had always been Lila. He pushed out through the door. Then braced his hand against the side of the building and squeezed his eyes shut. The door opened again, and he didn’t even look behind him. Instead he strode across the small parking lot to his truck. She called his name again, but he didn’t stop. He checked his mirror to make sure she wasn’t right behind him, he certainly didn’t hate her that much. She still stood close to the building. She had her arms wrapped around her, and stared after him. His eyes started to burn. Then, he backed out of his parking spot and pulled out of the lot. The gravel spun under his tires, but he didn’t care. He wanted to put distance between them. Before he lost the grip he barely kept on his sanity.

About the author:

Fallon Brown was born and raised in a tiny town in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. At one time, she dreamed of having a cabin in the woods or mountains where she could be left alone to write. Instead she spent three years studying psychology before realizing that wasn’t for her. She now lives outside of a slightly larger small town in the same corner of her home state with her husband, two children, dog, and cat. She spends her days interfering in the lives of fictional characters while trying to keep a semblance of a clean house. Often the clean house bit fails.

Follow her:

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Book Review: Splintered by A. G. Howard

Title: Splintered (Splintered #1)
Author: A. G. Howard
Genre: Fantasy/fairytale adaptation
Date Read: 17/06/2015 – 21/06/2015
Rating: ★★

Review:

splinteredcover Look at that cover. I had really high hopes for this book, pretty much based on the cover alone. Alas, it was not to be.

In Splintered we meet Alyssa, the descendent of Alice Liddell, the namesake of the titular character in Alice in Wonderland. Her female ancestors have always been cursed, hearing insects talk and other weirdness. Eventually, Alyssa finds out that the Wonderland in the stories is real, that she is the only one who can save it, and most importantly, that her childhood friend, Morpheus, who visited her in her dreams when she was young, is really sexy but less than trustworthy.

I’ll get my ranting out of the way first. Though I only mentioned Morpheus above, there is actually a love triangle, with Alyssa’s best friend’s brother, Jeb, as the other point. Jeb was awful. He was controlling and over-protective, and it drove me crazy. He wouldn’t let Alyssa make any of her own decisions, even though she was the one who actually had latent memories of Wonderland and of the two of them, was going to be capable of getting them home alive.

Morpheus, on the other hand, while definitely morally ambiguous, at least had faith in Alyssa and her abilities. He always let her choose. Even when it often turned out that he was on his own side more than Alyssa’s or Wonderland’s as a whole, he was still preferable as a love interest.

Alyssa as a character was okay. I got the sense the author was trying to make her “quirky” and “alternative” with dreadlocks and a skateboard and that sort of thing, but she still felt pretty bland. She spent a fair bit of time swooning over either of her two guys, though when she was with Morpheus, she did at least want to take charge a bit more.

The world-building itself was pretty good; I’ve read a few Wonderland adaptations before and this one took things in different directions, which I did appreciate, even if I wasn’t entirely I liked the direction. It was definitely a much creepier Wonderland than usual, and some of that I got really into, while there were other parts that made me go, “… really?”

Overall, I felt this book could have been really great, but suffered from objectionable or boring characters. I read a few reviews of the second one because a small part of me was interested in continuing the story, but based on a few things I read, I decided not to. I think it would just make me crankier.

Book Review: Grounded – The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison

Title: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel (Tyme #1)
Author: Megan Morrison
Genre: Fantasy/fairytale adaptation
Date Read: 29/04/2015 – 01/05/2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

groundedcoverI discovered this book entirely by accident, and boy, am I glad I did! I had been looking for a Rapunzel adaptation that really explored the psychological effects of Rapunzel’s isolation, and this book captured it perfectly!

In Grounded, we meet a Rapunzel with a completely perfect life. She has her tower, she’s looked after by Witch, and she is kept safe from the peasants that would try to poison her below. That is until a boy named Jack climbs through her window and claims that she had met him the day before. The next thing Rapunzel knows, she’s climbing down her tower and joining Jack on an adventure in a world she’s never experienced. As they travel, Rapunzel begins to learn that Witch hasn’t been telling her the whole truth, and that maybe she might even be better off without her.

Both the characters and the world-building are outstanding. Rapunzel has grown up in one of many realms within Tyme, and throughout the book, she and Jack end up exploring several of them, and hearing about others. My mouth was watering as I read about the different foods available in the marketplace in the Yellow Country, and the descriptions of the Fairy Realm (I will admit that it’s now been a little while since I’ve read the book, so I can’t remember exactly what that realm was called) made me want to visit. There were also hints of other fairytales taking place in some of these other lands, something I assume will be explored in later books.

Rapunzel’s characterisation is great. If you’ve seen the movie Tangled, I got a vibe of that version of Rapunzel from this one, though book!Rapunzel is around 12 or 13, rather than 18. I wanted to hug her as she tried to reconcile everything she’d known with the new information she was learning about herself and about Witch, and using leaps of logic to get there. Jack was also sweet if somewhat long-suffering – having to look after Rapunzel was not something he was planning. We got a little bit of his back story in this book, but I think there is much more to come.

This was one of those cases where I found out a book within days of its release, finished it a few days later, and now have to wait who knows how long for the sequel. I have a feeling the wait will be worth it, though!

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Sci-fi
Date Read:
22/04/2015 – 28/04/2015
Rating: ★★★

Review:

TheMartianUKCoverI had such high hopes for this book. Every single person I know who has read it has given it five stars. And while I can see where they were coming from, this book didn’t do it for me.

The Martian focuses primarily on Mark Watney, the seventeenth human to set foot on Mars, who accidentally gets left behind when an accident leaves his crew thinking he’s been killed. Most of the book takes the form of Mark’s log entries, though we also meet characters who work for NASA as they realise he is still alive and try to work out how on Earth (or Mars) to rescue him before he dies of thirst or starvation.

At first, the book was really interesting. Mark was figuring out how to grow food in Martian soil, as well as provide himself with water, and find a way to contact NASA. However, after a while, this starts feeling more like a Mars survival guide than the log of someone who has been completely deserted up there. There was so much science-talk, which is fine, but most of it went over my head. Not only that, but Mark was always chipper. Even when things went wrong, he just swore a bit and then spent a couple of days figuring out how to fix whatever it was. There were no moments of depression, no existential crises or anything else you’d expect from a character who has been left on another planet. And because he was always in such a good mood, it never felt like the stakes were particularly high.

The characters at NASA were a bit more interesting because they had each other to react to, and the techno-talk in these scenes was generally a bit more accessible. However, I did lose track of who some characters were, as we switched between NASA divisions and subsidiaries, and that did also make it hard to stay engaged.

The amount of research that went into this book is incredible, and I definitely applaud Andy Weir for that. People at NASA, as well as Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and others who are far more scientifically-minded than I, have said that the majority of the science provided in the book is sound. But a scientifically-sound book is not necessarily an engaging one, and that was where this book fell flat for me.