Sunday, 30 June 2013

Quick Note!

Hey guys! Quick note to tell you I'm on holiday! I'd actually written a slightly longer post about being away, but I deleted it by accident! :O Anyways. I won't be around for two weeks, so yeah. See you in two weeks! :P

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Even though I won't be commenting on blogs while I'm away (I'll catch up when I'm back! ;D), I will still be around on Twitter! :P

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Review: Dear Dylan...

Author: Siobhan Curham
Edition: Electric Monkey (Signed) Paperback
Released: 2nd April 2012
Series: No, standalone
Pages: 302 approx.
 
A first crush. An unexpected friendship. A dream come true...

Dear Dylan!

Thanks so much for your email and I'm sorry about my last one when I said I love you. I hope you don't think I'm a weirdo mentalist?!!! It's just that I was watching Oprah yesterday and she said we should all say we love each other a whole lot more. Not to everyone of course. There's no way I'd tell my scummy step-dad that I love him because that would be lying. But the thing is, sometimes when I watch you on TV, I feel as if you're talking just to me and it makes me feel less alone.

I know you probably get loads and loads of fan mail but I wanted to ask you - could we be e-mates?

Yours hopefully,
Georgie
xxx

This book has been on my wishlist for the longest time, so when I finally managed to get my hands on a copy (or in this case, win a giveaway for it!), I was over the moon! As soon as it arrived in the post, I could tell I had high expectations for it. Why, you ask? Well, I'd read way too many glowing reviews of it for me not to be excited.  Did it meet my expectations? YES! Yes, it did! If anything, it was everything I wanted and more!
 
So, yes, the whole format of this book is definitely worth mentioning. It's composed entirely of emails! Honestly, I was a little hesitant... I mean, how can an author give us a good sense of character, setting and even romance just through emails back and forth between two people?! But, Siobhan Curham managed to do just that. By the end of the book, I really knew Georgie. She was a strong, caring character. Always looking out for her mum and little sister. Easily one of the most admirable characters I've read about. Whenever she would reveal something about her family, my heart would go out to her a little more each time. I completely and utterly empathised with her.
 
As for the rest of the characters, I loved and hated some. I adored Nan and Jamie. Jamie was so sweet and I loved that he was there for Georgie, even when she thought he wasn't. He was exactly what she needed! As for the hated characters, those would be Jessica and Georgie's step-dad. Jessica - meant to be Georgie's best friend - was jealous and nasty while Georgie's step-dad was just plain mean/repulsive/every bad word you can think of! I even wanted to shake Angelica (Georgie's mum) at times! I didn't hate her though. I knew what she must've been going through - but that didn't stop me from wanting to reach through the pages and shake her for not seeing sense!
 
This sort-of leads me to my next point. There are quite a few delicate topics touched upon in this book. I don't want to give too much away about them, but they certainly added depth and much more emotion to the story than I was expecting. I completely appreciated the realistic way Curham wrote about them - it made you really want to hug the characters affected, namely Georgie and her little sister, Michaela as they seemed to be smack in the middle of everything. Curham's writing could get really poetic every now and again which I also really enjoyed. Here's one of my favourite quotes from the book:
 
"If you were a caterpillar then I was a moth - old and dusty and ready to fling myself into a flame. But you made me want to embrace life again. Despite all of the problems you were going through, your emails were so full of life and hope. I couldn't help but be affected by them. So thank you too, from the bottom of my heart."

Overall, I adored this book. It's a lovely, heart-warming tale which shows how two people can really affect each other. A story about true friendship, first love and always looking on the positive side of things. I really came to love both of the characters that emailed back and forth. It was lovely to see a real friendship blossom. With great, admirable characters, a sweet, adorable romance and a depth which gives real emotional meaning to the story, Dear Dylan is a book I certainly recommend.

FOUR STARS FOR THIS BOOK! :D

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Five (Popular) Books I Couldn't Finish!

I was trying to think of a post to do today, different from anything I've ever done before, and decided on this! I've never really talked about any books I've not finished so, hopefully, you'll enjoy this little change! Just so you know, I am most definitely not trying to bash any authors, offend any people that have already read these books and loved them or encourage anybody not to read them! On the contrary, I'd love to know your own opinions - whether you share the same feelings as myself or are the complete opposite and loved some of these books! So, without further-a-do, here we go! :)


The Glimpse (The Glimpse #1) by Claire Merle:
 
There are actually a few reasons I didn't really enjoy this one and I'm pretty sure one of the main reasons will make you laugh. That reason, you ask? Well, it was the age gap between the main character, Ana and the love interest (Ana being 17/18 and Cole, 24, I think). It sounds so strange but it really got on my nerves for some reason! I also found the writing to be too slow-paced for me - plus, nothing that exciting was happening to keep me hooked! So, after a while, I decided to call it quits. :(
 
Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle #3) by Christopher Paolini:

Now, I'm sure most of you will know that these books have a very... shall we say, advanced writing style. It requires a LOT of concentration. I actually read these a few years back and managed to struggle through the first two in the series before admitting defeat a little ways into the third book. The writing style was just too much for me and the pacing I found too slow. I felt like pretty huge chunks of the book could've been cut out... There were also a lot of places and people mentioned over all three books and in Brisingr I just couldn't remember who was who and where was where etc. So it just took all the enjoyment out of it for me and I put it down.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson:

Remember a couple years back when this book was at the height of it's popularity and everyone seemed to love it? Well, I just couldn't get into it. True enough, even I'm not sure I read enough pages in to say I gave it a fair go but I just could not get into it one bit. I couldn't empathise with the main character, Lennie or see any sort-of promising foundation in her and Toby's relationship... But, you never know, maybe I'll try it again some day and see if I can get more into it! :)

The Repossession (Repossession #1) by Sam Hawksmoor:

I won this one in a giveaway from a bloggy friend who'd absolutely loved it. So I cracked it open preparing to love it too but, alas, I read quite a good bit into it and had to give up. The plot was really strange and the writing wasn't hooking me enough that I was constantly wanting to continue reading on. I also didn't see the 'wow-factor' in Genie and Rian's relationship... So there was really nothing there to keep me entertained.

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl:

I remember reading 246 pages of this before finally putting it down. The pacing was too slow, as much as the main character, Ethan was a nice guy, I couldn't empathise with him and nothing much happened in the majority of the book I read that made it look promising. There wasn't any action to keep me glued... Not much going on at all. So, unfortunately, I ended up not finishing it.

What about you? Did you like/love some of these books? Why, what did you enjoy about them? Or were you the same as me and didn't really enjoy them and had to put them down? Comment below with your thoughts!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Harry Potter (Would You Rather) Tag!

Recently, I've been in a bit of a Harry Potter frenzy. Don't get me wrong, I've already read and loved the books and watched all the movies and everything. It's just, every year, I always go back to them at one point or another... and I've been doing so these past few days. I've already re-read one of the books and, in the last two days, watched all eight movies. So, it's safe to say, I'm one of the biggest Potterheads. ;) Anyway. Today, I came across the Harry Potter: Would You Rather Tag on Youtube (created by ryanohrama) and knew I just had to do it!

Would you rather go to prom with Harry, Draco or Ron?
No question for me on this one - Harry all the way! He's definitely my favourite out of these three options! Draco is just a big no-no and, even though, I'm sure Ron would be a good enough date, it's Harry I want on my arm. ;) He's just perfect and I'm sure I would be safe with him!

Would you rather be sorted into Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin?
Well, if you had asked me this a few years ago, my answer would have certainly been Gryffindor - no question about it. But, now, well... I wouldn't mind being in Ravenclaw (and this is no way affected by the fact I'm in Ravenclaw on Pottermore... :P). I'd HATE to be in Slytherin and, as much as I love my Hufflepuff besties, Zoe and Ruby, it just ain't the house for me. ;)
Would you rather explore the forbidden forest or the halls of Hogwarts?
Eeeeeeek! A hard one! As much as I'd love to say the forbidden forest, I'll have to go for the halls of Hogwarts. Wait, no! I'll be brave and go for the forbidden forest! *puffs up chest* I'll just make sure to take Hagrid with me! Maybe I'll get to see a Centaur or two! :D
Would you rather enroll in Potions, Charms, Divination or Defence Against The Dark Arts?
Oooooh... Can't I just take all of those classes?! No? Oh, alright then... *cries in corner* If I had to choose one, and I mean absolutely had to, I'd go for Defence Against The Dark Arts. I need to know some good spells if I run into Voldemort or a Deatheater after all! It's a shame that Care of Magical Creatures isn't up there though... I would certainly have picked that one!
Would you rather buy an owl, cat, rat or toad?
This one I can answer easily - an owl, of course! But not a snowy owl like Hedwig. Some other breed... I would never buy a rat - I'm scared of rats/mice! :3 - and toads are just... icky and, judging from Neville's experience, great escape artists. As for a cat? I'm more of a dog person, myself... Or, in this case, an owl person. ;)
Would you rather have in possession: the elder wand, resurrection stone, or the cloak of invisibility?
The cloak of invisibility! Just imagine the amount of conversations I could eavesdrop in. Or the pranks I could pull! Or the books I could take from the Restricted Section. The possibilities are endless!
Would you rather be tutored by Luna Lovegood or Hermione Granger?
As much as I adore Luna, she can be a bit of a goof - in the best possible way, of course. If I want to pass my OWLs, I'm going to need someone who'll really help me. So Hermione. :P
Would you rather, in the final battle, fight against Nagini (the snake) or Bellatrix?
Nagini. Bellatrix freaks me out like nothing else and I really hate that snake so I wouldn't mind chopping off it's head with Godric Gryffindor's sword - if I'm in Gryffindor that is. Otherwise, I'll have to be more inventive... Maybe cast an immobilisation spell? Then let someone else wield the sword who is from Gryffindor. See, I'm really thinking this through. ;)
Would you rather fight a basilisk or a dragon?
They're both huge and I'm sure I would stand no chance but... a basilisk. Dragon's are MASSIVE and can fly. At least I can take some tips from Harry on how to kill the snake. He's not really fought a dragon - so I'd have nothing to go on. Let's just hope that the basilisk doesn't bite me with one of it's poisonous fangs. Or kill me, y'know. :(
Would you rather be a part of the Malfoy family or Weasley family?
Is this meant to be a hard question?! The Weasley family, of course! I'd love to live with Fred and George - it'd be hilarious to watch their pranks in action! And Mrs Weasley's just adorable and can cook... And I'd have Ginny around the house so I wouldn't just have to deal with brothers. It be loads of fun! ;)
Would you rather have a butterbeer or pumpkin juice?
A butterbeer. Whenever I smell a pumpkin, I just gag. So I'm sure I'd do the same with pumpkin juice. So, I think I'll go for the butterbeer. With a side order of chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, obviously.
Would you rather fly on a broomstick, Hagrid's motorbike or Buckbeak? *this is my own question, couldn't resist adding one in! :P
BUCKBEAK! I'd love to go a wee fly around Hogwarts on Buckbeak! xD
Would you rather have a conversation with Daniel Radcliffe or J.K. Rowling?
As much as I love Daniel Radcliffe for so perfectly capturing the character of Harry Potter, I'd love to have a wee cup of tea with J.K. Rowling. Actually, scrap the tea - I don't like tea. I'll bring along the butterbeer instead! I'd just love to ask her hundreds of questions about the books and if she would so kindly write a spin-off series involving Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione's children. That. Would. Just. Be. Amazing. *stares into space dreamily*
So there we go. I had SO much fun doing this tag! If you love Harry Potter, I definitely recommend doing this - you'll love it! If you do, feel free to leave a link and I will most happily stop by and fangirl with you. Or tweet me. Whatever. Also, feel free to use the question I added too! :P
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Some Updates!

loving this kitty! ^.^
Hey guys! Today I've decided to give you all a little explanation as to why I've not been posting as much lately, and why I may be a little absent for the next few weeks as well. I usually just put these sort-of updates at the end of posts but since I've got quite a bit to say, I've decided to dedicate a whole post to it. After all, you deserve a full explanation. :)
 
First off, some of you may know I started my new school year this week. I am no longer a 4th year now, but a 5th year. Or a Junior to those of you in America. Anyway. I've got two weeks left until the summer holidays and for those of you wondering why I'm in my new year already, it's because my school likes us to get settled in to our new classes so we all know what we're doing and where we've to be when we return to school in August. Right, going off topic...
 
Since I am now a Senior (in Scotland both 5th and 6th years are classed as Seniors :P) I've now got double periods - take it from me, an hour and forty minutes of Math isn't fun! - and quite a lot of homework. Since I've only just started getting double periods, my system isn't quite used to it yet and so that's why there have been no blog posts up this week. After coming home from school already tired enough and then having to sit down and do more homework for the next day, I've just had no energy to write up a post. I do apologize for that! :( I'm sure I'll get used to this new schedule soon enough and be able to have my usual amount of motivation to write up book reviews, discussion posts etc. :P
 
As much as I'd like to say as soon as the summer holidays start I'll instantly be able to post loads, I just won't be able to. I'll be going on holiday for the first two weeks to Spain. So, basically, what I'm trying to say here is that it's most likely I'll be posting only a few times over the next two weeks followed by nothing for the following two weeks after that - if I manage to schedule any posts for the time I'll be in Spain, I'll make sure to tell you, but chances are I probably won't have the time. :3 However, after these four weeks are over, I'll be making sure to post hundreds! :D
 
So, there you go. Admittedly, a rather boring post, but I thought you should all know what is going on. :P
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo
 
PS: I'll most likely also be a little absent from comment boxes, twitter, goodreads and the like. :(

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Interview with Authors, Kirby Howell!

Hey all! Today I have an interview with authors Kirby Howell to share with you all! And, no, it's not a typo, Kirby Howell is a writing partnership. ;) So, without further-a-do, here's the interview! :D

First off, can you tell us a little about yourselves and your book, Autumn in The City of Angels?

We’re actually a writing partnership. Our real names are Dana Melton and Jessica Alexander, but we write under the name Kirby Howell (an amalgamation of both of our maiden names). We’ve been writing together since 2000 when we met as freshman in our first scriptwriting class in college. We got paired together to write a feature script, and enjoyed the process so much that we’ve just kept doing it! We both moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, and have continued writing together through all that time.

The books are YA, but they cross over a lot of genres, because, honestly, we write what we love, and we love a lot of different types of books! Whenever we have to classify it, though, we give this basic answer to help narrow it down (some):  Dystopian/Paranormal Romance. Anyone who read The Hunger Games Trilogy, Delirium, Matched, and even Twilight would find these in the same vein.  There are no vampires, werewolves, or wizards in our books, but we do consider them to be 'SciFi Lite' (Science Fiction grounded in reality), as there's a twist in the first novel that heavily determines the direction of the sequels.  Here's a short synopsis of the first book, Autumn in the City of Angels:

A plague of epic proportion sweeps the globe, leaving less than one percent of the world’s population immune. Among the living is Autumn Winters, the teenage daughter of a famous actress. When Autumn’s parents don’t come home and the city is overtaken by a dangerous faction, she goes into hiding with a small group of underground survivors. They’re led by a mysterious young man who harbors an unearthly secret, and with whom Autumn feels a deep connection.

Did you always want to write in the dystopian genre? Or was it more of a spontaneous decision?

Dystopian has always been one of our very favorite genres, and we’ve written a lot of things in this genre for ourselves, and occasionally for pay. One of the things we love most about the dystopian genre applied to YA books is that you get to thrust teenaged characters into roles where they have to make very adult and often world-changing decisions. Most teens feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, even without those kinds of stakes, so in a lot of ways they can relate to these characters and the pressures they face, even if they are somewhat magnified.

The dystopian genre also lets us break a lot of rules. Where these stories are either set off into the future, or in modern day around extraordinary circumstances, you get to let your brain run wild without silly things like “reality” and “rules” confining the stories that you want to tell... and that’s a lot of fun for both of us.

Are either of you like one of your characters? If so, who and why?

It’s funny you ask this, because our main character, Autumn, is pretty much a version of both of us combined. Friends and family will read the books and tell either one of us how much Autumn reminds them of one of us.

With Autumn, we wanted to craft a strong, young female who has to start making a lot of big decisions. We can see how hard that is for her at first, and then, as her character matures, how well she shoulders the decisions she’s making. We like to think that this was the journey we both took, but it’s possible we’re still aspiring to be more like Autumn every day. 

What was it like writing a book together? Did you have a schedule? Any fall outs? Or did everything run smoothly?

We get asked this a lot, just by virtue of being a writing partnership. We like to joke that we’re two women with one shared brain! But the truth is, it’s more like Dana is a left foot, and Jessica is a right foot. When we work together, we can stand up and walk straight. But without the other, we just end up walking in circles, directionless.

We’ve developed our schedule and process over the course of 13 years of writing together, and because of this, we give advice to a lot of other folks out here, working and writing in LA, to tell them how we manage to do it. The short answer is, we keep the channels of communication completely open, at all times. We also meet in person twice a week, Wednesdays after work and all day Sunday, and we keep to our writing schedules (or whatever phase we’re in) during the week and hold each other accountable.

There’s obviously a lot more to it than just that, and we once broke down the process in one of our blogs in much greater detail for other burgeoning writing partnerships to refer to. If you want to know more details on how we work in our own writing partnership click HERE.

Quick, there's a meteor shower! You need to jump into one of your favourite books! Which ones do you pick and why?

For Dana, that’s a no-brainer. She’d open her Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy omnibus and dive in head over heels to seek refuge on the spaceship, Heart of Gold, during the meteor shower... and she’d remember to take her trusty towel with her!

For Jessica, her hand would hesitate over her well-worn, faded yellow box set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House Series. Worried that she might end up in the middle of The Long Winter, (no improvement over a meteor shower!) she’d pick up Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World instead, because Danny’s father is amazing and can fix anything.

Finally, are you working on any other books that you can tell us a little about?

We are! Thank you for asking! We’re actually working on the third book in the Autumn Series right now, Autumn in the City of Lights. We’ve got a full outline and a rough draft of the first few chapters, and we’re plugging away at getting more words down on paper. Though, if you ask any of our beta readers, we’re not moving nearly fast enough!

We also have a draft of a first book in a new YA series called The Wayfarer. It’s a fantasy series dealing with the foster care system, runaways, and an adventure in a new world. We’re very excited to eventually have that available.

Quick-Fire Questions:

Dana: Favourite Animal? Dogs (of all sizes and fluffiness)
Jessica: Favourite Colour? Green! It’s so calming and it reminds me of my favorite place in the world – Oregon!
Dana: Favourite City? Paris... or Tuscaloosa, AL. Tough call. One has The Louvre, and one has really good southern food & American football.
Jessica: Favourite Activity? I just love a good book – one that stays with you even when you’re not reading it, one that makes you crazy when you have to put it down, one that is easy to slip inside of and feel part of.  A good book is even better when it’s raining. I also enjoy eating what my husband cooks for me and a good long road trip.
Dana: Favourite Book?  It’s a tie between Pride & Prejudice and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: On a sidenote, I've now finished my exams! xD So I'm officially done with 4th year and will be starting 5th next week! *laughs nervously* :3