Monthly Archives: October 2015

Out of Orbit Blog Tour – Guest post by author Chele Cooke

I had author Chele Cooke on my blog a while back to talk about her vampire novel Teeth – now she’s back with the third book in her science-fiction series Out of Orbit. On the 29th October 2015, Rack and Ruin continues the story started in the first two books, Dead and Buryd and Fight or Flight. (Click on the titles to find out more about each book).

Chele is on my blog today though to share her Top Ten Series (not including her own, which of course you are welcome to add to your top ten lists).

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My Top Ten Series

Earlier in this blog tour, I answered the question of my top ten favourite books. I had to narrow down my possible choices, and in the end, I still ended up with an entire series as one of my answers. Luckily, hopefully choosing my favourite series of books will be a bit easier.

  1. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

This is the book series that I couldn’t choose a single book for. I love it. I first read Harry Potter as a teenager and I was one of those people who queued at midnight for the final books. These books are what started me writing (I started out writing fanfiction) and so they’ll always be very close to my heart.

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I ploughed through this series in a matter of days. I was lucky that I waited so long to pick it up, because it meant I didn’t have to wait. Admittedly, I think the third book doesn’t stand up to the rest of the series, it felt a bit squashed to me, but it’s still a series I adore rereading.

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R Martin

I’ve listened to this series on audiobook, and at about 80 hours per book, I’ve put a lot of time into it already. I both love and loath the detail that goes into these books, and there are times when I really wish someone had taken an axe to all the excess characters and points of view, but never let it be said that G.R.R Martin doesn’t know how to make a detailed and interesting fantasy world.

  1. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

There is far too much to say about Discworld to put into a small paragraph. I actually started out with Discworld via a point and click PC game. It was, without a doubt, the most infuriating game I have ever come across. If anyone can get through it without looking up answers, I bow down to you! Also, getting through it without hating the phrase “That doesn’t work” is impossible.

Terry Pratchett is far more of a wizard than anyone in his books. What he has created is astonishing.

  1. The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire

Not only did Maguire retell The Wizard of Oz, but he continued his wonderful story with three more fantastic books, turning what little we knew about Oz into a story far more interesting than the original tale. I love his detail and his willingness to roam into the darker sides.

  1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

We’re including the Hobbit in this! I don’t care what anyone says, I am including the Hobbit in this series because I love it, and I don’t think it should be discounted. Tolkien is one of the fathers of Fantasy, and I’d not be able to get through a series top ten without including him. Like Martin and Pratchett, the world he has created is beyond astounding.

  1. The Wool Trilogy by Hugh Howey

There’s something mesmerisingly claustrophobic about Hugh Howey’s Wool trilogy. Taking place inside underground silos, there is a closeness to it that Howey has recreated wonderfully in his language.

  1. Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind

Another epic fantasy series where the books are quite long by themselves. I’m still only about four books in (out of more than a dozen) because other books sometimes get in the way. They’re quite dense books, and can be a little hard going at times, but I love the complexity of the world, the magic system, and the history. Plus, Zed is amazing! How can you not love a crazy old wizard you first see standing naked on a stone holding a chicken?

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis

Yep, I’m going back to childhood! These, along with Roald Dahl, were some of my favourite books as a kid, and I get quite nostalgic for them.

  1. Books by Jane Green

A little bit of cheating here, because technically these books are not a series. They’re stand alone novels, but all by the same author. I love Jane Green and she writes most of my favourite comfort read books. I can pick up any one of them and know I’ll enjoy it. So, while they’re not about the same characters, and they’re not the same settings, they give me the same feeling, and sometimes that’s just what I need.

I only cheated once, hurrah! There are some other series I could have mentioned, but admittedly those are the series where I feel like one of the books let it down. For example, I really enjoyed the Divergent series, but I felt the last book and the one-eighty the story took, let it down quite a bit.

I’d also like to celebrate the fact I didn’t go into my top ten TV series, because that is another wide and interesting list.

So, how many of Chele’s favourite series have you read?

Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway.

The prizes include;

A full set of Out of Orbit series in paperback and a £25 Amazon giftcard

Ten ebook sets of the Out of Orbit series

Click on the link above to enter and check out the other blog stops below.

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Guest Post from Holly Webb – Author of Return to the Secret Garden

Today is my stop on the Return to the Secret Garden Blog Tour. I asked author Holly Webb to share her thoughts on writing with existing characters. Here’s what she had to say:

I dithered about the idea of writing a sequel to The Secret Garden for ages. It was suggested to me by my then editor at Scholastic, the lovely Zoe Griffiths, when we were discussing favourite books from childhood. That was a good five years before the equally lovely Lucy Rogers nudged me into thinking about it again! Apart from it just not being the right time, I think it was the idea of taking someone else’s characters that worried me.

If you know The Secret Garden, you’ll remember that Mary Lennox is fabulous. Grumpy and friendless, she arrives in England to find the whole place is wet and miserable and wuthering. She only goes out into the wintry gardens because she’s bored and there’s nothing for her to do and hardly anyone for her to talk to. But Frances Hodgson Burnett makes this unlikable child in a grim old house fascinating. For me it was the way the house, and especially the secret garden itself changed Mary that was the wonderful part of the book, and I wanted to recreate that feeling. So I cheated – even though Return to the Secret Garden is a sequel, and many of the characters from the original book reappear, it’s not a direct continuation of Mary’s story. It’s set just under thirty years later, at the outbreak of the Second World War, and another lonely child arrives at Misselthwaite.

I loved introducing Emmie to the garden – and those parts of the book were very easy to write. The gardens and the house are almost characters themselves in The Secret Garden, and I loved working with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s landscape (although I had to draw several maps to try and work out the geography of the gardens, and I still don’t think I’ve got it right…)

It felt very difficult, though, to make decisions about Mary, Colin and Dickon and what had happened to them. But one thing seemed obvious – The Secret Garden was published in 1911 (though it first appeared in 1910 as a serial in The American Magazine, which is really interesting, as it wasn’t meant to be a children’s book). Mary and Colin are 10, and Dickon is 12 – so towards the end of the First World War, Dickon at least would have had to fight. What would that have done to such a happy, friendly child, whose life was shaped by loving nature and his Yorkshire landscape? And even if they survived the First World War, those children would have been in their late thirties, possibly raising their own families, when the Second World War broke out.

So many opportunities to take their story on…

I’m really looking forward to re-reading the original and seeing how Holly has moved things on in her follow up. I really love the idea of the landscape as a character too – I wonder how the environment grows up too? Thanks to Scholastic for sending me a copy and to Faye Rogers for organising the tour.

There is a tour wide giveaway that ends today for a copy of both books (UK and Ireland only). Unfortunately I can’t embed the rafflecopter in my blog so just follow this link to enter.

If you can’t wait – ‘Return to the Secret Garden’ is available from book retailers now.

Check out today’s other blog tour post over at YA Under My Skin and catch up with the rest of the tour by following the links on the banner.

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Coming Thursday 22nd October – Out of Orbit Blog Tour with author Chele Cooke’s Top Ten Series.

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – Book Review #NOTAskingForIt

First Sunday post of my new schedule and I even had real post delivered today – on a Sunday! Uncle Vernon would be fumigating right now.

Today’s book created another unusual experience for me too – a proper book hangover. Often, after a finishing a book, I can just pick up another not long after  – but, not after this one. It hung around in my brain for a while and has been a tickle there ever since. Please note that this review discusses sexual violence against women so if you find that triggering please don’t read on.

This is my first book from Louise but it won’t be my last. Everyone was talking about Asking For It on twitter and saying how important a read it is. They aren’t wrong but, the fact that that’s true, is.

This is Emma’s story of that time she went to a party in a tiny dress, drank too much, took some drugs and woke up the next morning, in pain, on her front door step. Pictures emerge – online of course – that showed what happened last night and everyone, including Emma herself, is asking – was she Asking For It. You might even be asking the same question.

The book is written from Emma’s point of view and her view is heartbreaking, the responses everyone has to her are illuminated through her internal narration. The person whose initial response made me the most angry was her brother, he comes round, but I couldn’t understand why what he saw would make him think what he does. Some have criticised the ‘repetition’ in this book. I’d suggest that this reflects the type of mental ruminating that might happen after a traumatic event.

I’m not going to tell you the outcome but needless to say this will never be the type of story with a typical happy ending.

Asking For It will make you angry – at society and even at yourself. I knew what this book was about and even found myself almost repeating this question – in fact had the book not added the scenes that Emma doesn’t remember, it would have probably have been a very difficult case to prosecute. I remember seeing the film The Accused with Jodie Foster when I was a lot younger and this book echoes that. Who are the accused? Not the rapists but the girl who “let herself” get in a position to be raped. We really need to change the question from What did she do? To Why did they do it?

Please put yourself aside a few hours to read this in one go – once you’ve started it you won’t want to put it down…and even after you’ve literally put it to one side, figuratively it’s going to stay with you.

People ask why do we need feminism – because we call books like this important. Because the cover of the girl as a Barbie doll to be played with and posed is reflected on the cover of numerous magazines and in clubs and at parties across the world. I look forward to the day that the story in this book is seen as a relic of the past! How can we make that a reality?

I was inspired by Georgia Blackheart @GeorgiaReads review graphic. She said I could borrow the idea so I made some review tweaks to the cover below.

Asking for it

Next Sunday Guest post from author Holly Webb as part of the Return to the Secret Garden Blog Tour

Coming Soon Review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown – sneak peek – I bloodydamn loved it!

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