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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sample Chapter: The Body Finder

If you can't wait for the UK release of The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting, you can enjoy a sneak peek below. Here is the first chapter of the book for you to enjoy.

And just in case you need a little more info, you can read my review here.

 The Body Finder-Sneakpeek

The Body Finder hits UK book shops on November 11th!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Review: Grave Secret

Author: Charlaine Harris

Release date: UK January 2010
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Target audience: Adult (**sexual content)

Books in the series:
Book 1: Grave Sight review
Book 2: Grave Surprise review
Book 3: An Ice Cold Grave review

Grave Secret (Book 4) Review:

I am at that point where I know that I have finished a series and I am sad that it has come full circle. I know all there is to know about the characters and it is time to say adieu. Grave Secret was a chilling end to a great series.

Harper Connelly is on what should be an easy job when compared to her last horrifying case. She is to read the death of an affluent ranch woman’s grandfather. Lizzie Joyce is a woman who has a penchant for the unusual. Harper gets the feeling that she is just one of many in a long line of extraordinary experiences that Lizzie enjoys. Harper finds herself just outside of Dallas in a small cemetery. She reads each of the graves to play up to Lizzie’s expectations. But one corpse holds a secret that the Joyce family never knew existed and it sets in motion a chain of murderous events.

In this novel, Harper struggles with the notion that she has become too dependent on Tolliver’s support. I guess in an age of female equality, it can be easy to confuse that which is a partnership and that which equals dependence and an unhealthy reliance. The issue of the traditional notion of the “male breadwinner” is also raised. Harris explores gender stereotyping and leaves the reader to make up their own mind. Personally, I found it thought-provoking.

Of course as this is the end of the series the issue that has shaped Harper’s life for the last eight years plays a pivotal role. What did happen to Cameron all those years ago? Will Harper ever be able to stop looking for her sister’s body? The climax of the series was full of unexpected twists and by no means left me disappointed. Charlaine Harris really knows how to plot and leave you breathless for more.

If this review is a little melancholy, then it only serves to show how much I am going to miss reading about the lightning struck Harper and her supportive manager Tolliver. They were such a fun and intriguing team to follow and if you haven’t started their journey yet, then I wholly recommend that you do. This is a series that will grip you and is worth investing in.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Author Blog Recommendation: Reclusive Muse

Today I want to share with you one of my favourite author blogs.

Katherine Roberts, author of Song Quest, Spellfall and I AM The GREAT HORSE, has been blogging since January. Her blog is Reclusive Muse and she often communicates with her readers through her magical unicorn.

Katherine blogs about all kinds of interesting things - what she enjoys reading, places that she visits. She also posts art work, poems and writing by her readers giving them an outlet for creative expression.

I'm telling you about Katherine's blog now because she has recently written a series of posts that will be of interest to aspiring writers. Katherine has been documenting the process of writing I AM THE GREAT HORSE from the initial glimmer of idea to choosing a viewpoint and even the ending. I found it fascinating and an insight into the art of novel writing.

Here are the links to Katherine's I AM THE GREAT HORSE blog post series:
1. Why do you get your ideas?
2. Choosing a Viewpoint
3. Getting into the horse's rather big head
4. Beginning a Book
5. Research
6. Characters
7. The Plot Thickens
8. Endings

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Guest Post: Concrete Operational - Novel writing, art, music and independent publishing

I am delighted to welcome Richard Galbraith to The Bookette today. Richard is guest blogging about a fascinating project and so without further ado, here he is to tell us more:

Concrete Operational - Novel writing, art, music and independent publishing
Concrete Operational is my novel, it’s an independent release funded by the Arts Council England…that statement itself raises two quick questions, why indie, and how did you convince the English Arts Council to give you thousands of pounds to publish it? Well, this is where my journey into independent publishing, collaborative media, design, filmmaking, music production, art manufacturing and a host of other things came to being.

Let’s take a step back to 2009, I had my novel manuscript complete, and I’d had it assessed by the most excellent Oxford Editors http://www.theoxfordeditors.co.uk/ My assessor said that whilst it was a good manuscript, it was difficult in places and would have problems finding an agent or a publisher because of its content, being that at the time, the second chapter was a 4,000 word speech amongst other things.

I looked back on my manuscript and remembered that the reason I began writing it, wasn’t to get published, but to explore my theories and beliefs on the human condition and Fatalism, and to an extent, it had done that. I also knew however, I would now like people to read it and that the 80,000 words that I had written were a jumbled mess of vast streams of consciousness, and surrealist writing.

I decided to compromise, I would make the novel, the manuscript that ‘had legs’ legible, I’d do everything I could to make it a compelling, insightful and interesting read and tell a real story, but I also wanted to keep the keen look at humanity. I wanted to make sure the reader came away with something and in this regard, I decided on a collaborative media project, because well, I’m not Kurt Vonnegut.

I pulled my resources and crowed sourced five British bands and five British artists who were prepared to create original music and art around five emotionally driven extracts of my novel. The promise was an art book, music album and novel, all to be released at the same time through the Amazon print on demand service, Createspace. We would have a launch night, a seven-day exhibition and the support of marketing and promotion professionals.

And that is what Operation Concrete came to be. Only we achieved so much more along the road; we produced a 72 page art book, a five track album, a six minute short film, original designs and branding around all assets, 200 bespoke, hand-made boxes for ‘box-sets’ of all the products. The launch night had well over 200 attendees and the seven day art exhibition that was free to the public and ran in London saw over 1000 patrons pass through. The exhibition was an immersive experience that allowed the patron to read the extract to the art and listen to the music all at the same time. It was all a great success.

However, all in all, it’s been a very difficult road, pulling it all together was hard, but trying to get people to find out what we did and understand what it was and is all about is proving the most difficult part.

Hopefully this post has sparked some of your interest though, so head over to Operation Concrete http://www.operationconcrete.com for samples of the art, music and words, to view the short film, and ultimately to purchase any of the items or all of them, in one of the box-sets. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that through it, you can discover something about yourself that you might not have know was there before.

If you would like to know more about the project that you can find online, just email me at ricgalbraith [at] gmail [dot] com

Richard Galbraith

Thank you so much for guest blogging today, Richard. It is certainly interesting to hear about someone who is finding their own road in the publishing industry.
Readers feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Review: Crescendo

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Release date: 14th October 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Angel Fiction / YA / Supernatural
Target audience: 12 +

Summary from Amazon:
Nora should know better than to think her life can return to normal after falling in love with a fallen angel. And Nora's life isn't normal - her dad was murdered, and the facts about his death just don't add up. Now Nora's own life is in imminent danger. Are she and Patch strong enough for the battle ahead?

Crescendo, what can I say? It is melodic, enticing and ultimately explosive. Fans of Hush Hush will not be disappointed as Becca Fitzpatrick pulls out all the stops for the second book in the series.

If you have not read Hush Hush, please skip this paragraph as it will give spoilers for the first book. So, the story begins and summer is in full swing. Nora is enrolled to study chemistry in the mornings over the holiday which leaves the summer afternoon to while away with the heart-stoppingly swoon-worthy Patch. No longer fighting his inner fallen angel, Patch is all about the guardianship and keeping Nora safe. It is makes my heart flutter just to think about it. But there is trouble on the horizon, Marcie – Nora’s nemesis – is out to make her life a misery and steal Patch away. Their feud has been raging for years, a game of bizarre one-upmanship. When Nora finds out that Patch has been lurking outside Marcie’s house, it angers her and sets her suspicious mind churning. The trouble with Patch is he plays his cards too close to his chest – maybe it is because he has Nora’s best interests at her or – maybe it is because Patch is a bad-boy through and through?

Before you dive into the world of Nora and Patch, there is the prologue to contend with. I found it confusing and to be completely honest I thought the dialogue was very forced. It just didn’t feel human. But the prologue is my only complaint about this book and I am very anti-prologue so I’ll let you come to your own conclusions about that.

The story itself is driven by Nora. Her insecurities about Patch and his inability to physically feel her touch take on a life of their own as the novel unfolds. I could empathise with Nora’s frustration about her limited physical connection with Patch but I also wanted to throttle her at times. I wanted to tell her to stop being so emotional and to be patient. Having said that, it is Nora’s turmoil that is so absorbing in this novel and had me turning pages at lightning speed.

Vee came into her own in the best friend stakes in Crescendo. Far from being the irritant of the first book, she shows a deeper understanding and support for Nora. I began to really like and respect her as she took on the role of chauffer and shared a blunt but caring wisdom about boys and Nora’s grief for her father.

The ending was a mighty thunderous cliff-hanger which left me crying for more! Crescendo was a novel that easily lived up to the expectations set by the first instalment. Deliciously angelic! An absolute must for angel fans and lovers of all books paranormal.

Thanks to the lovely people at Simon and Schuster for inviting me to be part of the Crescendo UK blog tour.
Don't forget to stop by on 4th October for an exclusive Crescendo extract. All the other tour stop info can be found here.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Review: Blood Ties + UK GIVEAWAY

Author: Sophie McKenzie

Release date: 7th July 2008
Genre: Thriller
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Blood Ties is a gripping thriller which is not to be missed. It tells us the story of Rachel and Theo and how the collision of their lives sets a chain reaction in motion.

Rachel is bullied at school. She has a really negative self-image. She thinks her parents are constantly comparing her to her dead sister Rebecca. Rachel sees her photographs all over the house and hates that she is not as pretty or as sporty as her sister. She feels like she will never be as good as them. Rachel’s lack of confidence

Theo is smart boy who wants to know why he has had a bodyguard for as long as he can remember. His mother isn’t well-paid yet he goes to a private school. The inconsistencies won’t leave Theo alone and he is ready to uncover the truth. Finally, Theo manages to convince his mum to tell him more about his father but that only leads to more unanswered questions for Theo and so he decides to take action. Theo never stops to think that maybe he is being protected for a reason.

Rachel and Theo’s two lives have more in common than they could possibly understand when they first meet. A painfully shy girl. A determined boy. Both characters are hugely likable. The novel is told from their alternating viewpoints and as the action unfolds this builds the tension.

Blood Ties embodies everything that a thriller should be. There is action, gun fires, explosions, bluffs and double bluffs. But it also asks huge questions about identity, about the nature of who we are and what the future holds for science and humanity. Apart from being an addictive, full-throttle and pacy read, it would be perfect for citizenship lessons around the nature/ nuture debate.

Blood Ties hooked me from the very first page and kept my adrenalin pumping until the final pages. I just adored the ending and I cannot wait to read more books by Sophie McKenzie.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me the book to review.



Thanks to the lovely people at Simon and Schuster I have one set of Blood Ties and the next book Blood Ransom (which is out 1st October) to giveaway.

To enter:

Complete the form below.
Open to UK entrants only.

You do not have to be a follower of The Bookette to enter.

Please note: Under 16s must get parent / guardian permission before entering and provide their email address rather than their own. Check my Contest Policy for further information.

For all of you who are desperate to read Blood Ransom, stop by Chicklish tomorrow for a teaser extract and enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Bookette's Guide to ... TV addiction

The love Audrey at Brizmus Blogs Books has been posting about the things she loves other than books. She inspired this post. But it is more about my misery than love of TV shows because right now so many of my favourites are on a break!

First up is Third Watch which I have only just got into on FX. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Third Watch is set in New York and it serialises the lives of the public services – Fire, Ambulance and Police. It is the most action packed crime show that I watch and in practically every episode someone dies a shocking death so you’re on the edge of your seat the whole time you’re watching it. Unfortunately, the series just ended on the biggest cliff hanger. Grrr...

Source: tvguide.com

The second series that I got into on FX was The Listener. I watched enough episodes to get into it and then that finished too. It’s about Toby Logan, a paramedic, he can hear people’s thoughts and he uses his ability to solve crimes with the help of his cop friend. The trouble with FX is they never give you any warning as to when the series is going to finish or when the new one is going to be aired so it leaves you feeling completely heartbroken.

Source: nerdles

My biggest sense of loss is for Stargate Atlantis which has finished altogether and happens to be one of my favourite TV shows of all time. We are talking sci-fi and outer space here and the reason I just adore it so much is the team. I love each of the main characters and how they all have their little foibles – especially Dr Rodney McKay. I actually sobbed my heart out when the writers killed off a character. I just could not believe that they would do that to me. I really miss Atlantis. So I had been watching Stargate Universe which is poor replacement really but just as I got into it the series finished. Grrrr... This time Sky 1 is at fault.

Source: movieeye

Did you know you can keep up to date with all news Stargate by following them on Twitter? Seriously, they have a verified account! @stargatecommand So cool!

Source: the-vampire-diaries-26506 india-server

Anyway, now on to Vampire Diaries which I had stacked up on my Sky+ box. I just finished watching the end of the first series. I have to say I hate all the scenes where they go back to when 18th Century, they are just too cheesy. But I do love all the dynamics between Elena, Stephan and Damon. I am Team Matt though because he is just such a sweet and grounded guy. At least it won’t be long until Series 2 is aired in the UK.

And finally, the show I love above all others is The Mentalist. My love for The Mentalist is wider than the Pacific Ocean, vaster than outer space. I am crazy about it. Every time Patrick Jane pulls one of his little tricks I am like a firework on Guy Fawkes’ Night. I hate that the series has finished. It makes me miserable just thinking about it. But hey, what do you expect when the man is genius?! Even my husband has accepted my love for Simon Baker. *sigh*

Source: downloadmovies24

I am not a patient person. I need my favourite TV shows. I have an addiction that needs feeding. So tell me which TV show should I be watching to keep me going and why?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Review: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Release date: 2nd August 2010 UK
Genre: Dystopia
Target audience: 11+
UK Publisher: Chicken House

Summary from Amazon:
When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade - a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there - or what's happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything - even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrols its corridors, to find out.

The Maze Runner, for me, was all about running the gauntlet. Thomas wakes up in a lift. He remembers only his name but not where he came from or anything about his life in the past. When the doors open, he is greeted by a band of boys who call themselves the Gladers. It soon becomes apparent that there is only one way out of the glade and that is to solve the impossible maze that lies at its heart. Thomas doesn’t know why he feels it but he knows that he has to become a Maze Runner and find the way out.

I have to admit it took me a while to get into The Maze Runner but I knew so many bloggers had loved it so I persevered. The beginning was rather disorientating largely because Thomas doesn’t understand the things that he is seeing or some of the colloquial terms used by the Gladers. Once Thomas began to understand the situation he was faced with I began to feel intrigued by the story.

At times I was reminded of Lord of the Flies – a group of boys fighting for their survival and not knowing why or how they came to be in the mysterious glade. At other times I was reminded of The Hunger Games because The Maze Runner had The Panopticon feel – a prison where the criminals do not know if they are constantly being watched. The Gladers seem to have been forced into the Glade against their will and their freedom depends on their solving the maze. The bleak tone and more violent aspects of the book didn’t really appeal to me.

Having said that, I did love the characterisation in the novel. Thomas is a divided character. He knows that he is integral to the survival of the Gladers but he doesn’t know why. Yet he carries a huge burden of guilt because of brief glimpses into his past. This certainly raises interesting questions about guilt and innocent and how much responsibility we have over our own actions. It was the connection between Thomas and the other Gladers – Minho, Teresa, Newt and Chuck that kept me absorbed throughout the story.

The Maze Runner will certainly be a hit with fans of the dystopian genre. They will love the impossible odds, the gritty battles of will and the ever present feeling of being watched. When you add it the character dynamics, you know that this book is a winner!

Thank you to Chicken House for sending me the book to review.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Review: Betrayals

Author: Lili St Crow

Release date: UK 4th November 2009
Genre: Paranormal Thriller / Urban Fantasy
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Quercus Books

Summary from Amazon:
Dru Anderson's not afraid of the dark. But she should be.

Poor Dru. Her parents are long gone. Her best friend Graves has been bitten by a werewolf. And she just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn't entirely human. Now Dru's strange and handsome savior, Christophe, has her hidden away at a secret Schola for djamphir and wulfen teens. Trouble is, she's the only girl in the place. The really bad news? Dru's killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead.

With all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide...
Betrayals is yet another kick-butt book from the awesome Lili St. Crow. Yes, it is true; I am becoming quite a fan of this series.

The prologue of Betrayals reminds us how Strange Angels ended. This is definitely a series to read in the correct order. You’ll miss out on so much action-packed fun if you skip ahead. And indeed, if you read this review you will give yourself gigantic spoilers for the first book. You have been warned.

For those of you still with me, we meet Dru again as she takes up enforced residence at the Schola. She still has the feisty, crude and determined edge that defines her voice and character. So needless to say, she is far from happy when she gets put in the baby classes at the Schola, is prevented from training and is left out of all the supernatural action. Dru is miserable and the novel is structured around her being placed in a situation which is beyond her control. She spends hours in her room alone and brooding on her predicament and waiting for the impending doom to come.

Graves is perhaps even more adorable in this book. He doesn’t always keep Dru in the loop. Hey, do you like the pun? He is loup-garou...get it?! Anyway, he is such a dopey wolf-boy, almost like an obedient puppy except for the killer instinct (obviously) and he commands his supernatural abilities in this book. I also loved meeting other wulfen, their individuality really stood out and the affectionate relationship between them endeared them to me.

Christophe on the other hand is not my favourite character but he certainly adds an ever present sense of mystery and tension to the story.

I notice I have told you nothing of the plot. I think you can probably guess that Dru isn’t safe in the Schola though, right? So what more do you need to know? There is butt-kicking. It is exceedingly refreshing and fun.

I was reading Betrayals expecting not to like it as much as Strange Angels. You had all left me comments saying it wasn’t quite on a par. But you know, I have no idea what you lovely people were on about. I really enjoyed this book in equal measure to my love of the first. I can only assume that you didn’t like the fact that Dru wasn’t calling the shots in this book but please correct me if I’m wrong. I am certainly intrigued because I thought it was gripping, adrenalin-fuelled, angsty and high on melodrama. The only thing I would say is that all the different groupings are starting to confuse me a little bit: djamphir, Nosferatu, wampyr, wolfen, broken. I could do with a baby class on the breeding habits of the supernatural. That little niggle aside, I thought this was fabulous. I am so excited to start Jealously. A definite series addiction is developing here!

Thanks to Quercus Books for sending me the book for review.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sample Chapters: The Lost Hero

Yesterday, I gave you an interview with the amazing Rick Riordan. Today I bring you the first two chapters of The Lost Hero. I am soooo good to you people. This post is perfectly legal and is brought to you on behalf of Just So for Puffin Books.

If you haven't visited the official UK site because you've been too busy writing your fanfic, stop now and head on over to www.percyjackson.co.uk there are some very fun things on there. (I know I am a mega-fan after all).
Rick is coming to the UK on tour at the beginning of November. One highlight of this will be "Rick Riordan: Virtually Live" on November 2nd. When Eoin Colfer did this webcast earlier in the summer, he reached more than 22,000 school students and Rick will be looking to top that number! Sign up is already available at http://www.rickriordanvirtuallylive.co.uk.

Sadly, I won't be at school to watch this with my minions pupils. We are having a super two week half term but you can bet I'll be tuning in at home for some LIVE action and I guess a lot of squealing.
The wonderful people at Just So for Puffin Books reminded me that not only is Rick a worldclass author, he is also a major champion of young people with dyslexia so how awesome is it that the week of his UK tour (Nov 1st - Nov 6th) happens to be Dyslexia Awareness Week?! Seriously, Mr Riordan could not be any more brilliant in his ability to reach out to all children and include them in a world where anything is possible. I may just faint from fanliness.
So without further ado, here are the first two chapters:
The Lost Hero First 2 Chapters
The Lost Hero is under global embargo until October 12th! And thank goodness, because if anyone spoils for me what happens next I will throw my lightning bolt faster than Zeus can accuse Poseidon of being a wet blanket.
Thanks again to Just So for making one fan girl's dreams come true.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Author Interview: Rick Riordan

There have been many wonderful opportunities that I have come my way since I became a blogger. This really is the cherry on top of the coconut cake (my favourite by the way).

If you don't know how much I love The Olympians, I guess you've been held prisoner by Lord Hades for the last year. So it the guise of a mega fan and Percy Jackson addict, I bring to you an author interview with the one and only Rick Riordan. You might get a few clues about the level of my fandom... and a little insight into The Lost Hero. Cue squealing!!!

On Percy Jackson

The Bookette: I think it is fair to say that Percy Jackson has a huge following. He appeals to adults, teens and tweens everywhere. What would you say is the secret ingredient that makes Percy so popular? I would say it is the very believable teenage voice. Do you agree?

Rick Riordan: I always imagine reading the books to my own classroom. I try to keep the story moving, inject plenty or humor and action, and keep things relevant for modern kids. I hope they learn a lot without ever feeling like they're in school. That was my goal as a classroom teacher, and it's still my goal as a writer. Also, I read each book to my two sons, and they are great editors. They let me know right away if a section is too slow, or if my jokes aren't funny! If the voice is believable, it’s probably because I read the manuscripts aloud.

The Bookette: The Greek Gods are to use your words “alive and kicking”. Which God or Goddess is your favourite and why?

Rick Riordan: No surprise: Poseidon and Athena. I’ve always been drawn to the power of the ocean, and Athena always strike me as the most helpful goddess.

The Bookette: How do you feel about fan fiction and RPG forums based on your books? Would you ever dare to read them?

Rick Riordan: I am of course aware of fan fiction but I never go near it. For copyright reasons, I can’t really do anything that would appear to endorse other people writing about my characters, and I certainly wouldn’t want someone saying, ‘Hey, you took my Percy Jackson idea!’ I suppose I’m honored people like the series so much, but I also find fan fiction a little unsettling. It’s like watching other people parade around in my clothes.

On The Kane Chronicles

The Bookette: How does it feel to be writing a series that is not The Olympians? Do you feel any pressure from fans (like me) because of the popularity of Percy Jackson?

Rick Riordan: Everything must have an ending, including Percy Jackson, and I knew that if I tried to write the same novels with Percy Jackson again and again until I died, it wouldn’t work. The quality would suffer and I would get bored. The readers would end up being disappointed. I was excited to try something new, and Egypt has timeless appeal. It was a refreshing challenge to tackle a mythology that is not as well known. Of course I knew fans would be comparing it to Percy Jackson, but I couldn’t let myself worry about that. I just tried to make it different enough, without losing the elements that fans like about my stories – action, humor, magic, mythology.

The Bookette: Sadie and Carter are a great double act. They have perfected the sibling rivalry thing to a fine art. Did you make a conscious choice to write about a sibling team? Did you draw on your personal experiences?

Rick Riordan: The sibling dynamic is something many children can relate to. I liked the idea of having two narrators constantly bickering and correcting each other. I was raised an only child, but I taught many, many families. Sadie and Carter are based loosely on an actual brother and sister I taught many years ago in San Francisco.

The Bookette: I’m assuming that you had to research the Egyptian Gods as background for The Kane Chronicles. Can you tell us an interesting fact or two that you found out through your research?

Rick Riordan: I read a ton of books for my research. I thought I knew Egypt before. I was wrong! The most interesting fact was the existence of the House of Life. I had no idea the Egyptians had a school of magic five thousand years before Hogwarts. It was great fun bringing Egyptian magic to life, and everything in the books – spells, gods, magic items – is all based on my research.

On The Lost Hero

The Bookette: I cannot wait for the release of The Lost Hero. In fact I want to dance around the house just thinking about the moment I get it in my hands. Can you tell me anything, anything at all about what I can expect? The tiniest snippet or a little insight into one of the characters?

Rick Riordan: Well, the first two chapters were just released at www.percyjackson.co.uk The password is ‘newhero.’ That will give a pretty good introduction to the characters. As many readers have speculated, the prophecy at the end of The Last Olympian plays an important role in the new series. Past that, I’m afraid the details must remain secret!

On life as a writer

The Bookette: Are there any writers who inspire you? Or that you aspire to be like?

Rick Riordan: I was inspired most by J.R.R. Tolkien when I was young. I also loved Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, E.B. White, and Edward Gorey. There are many writers who still inspire me today. Obviously J.K. Rowling is amazing, but also Suzanne Collins, Jonathan Stroud, Jeff Kinney, Michael Scott, Eoin Colfer, the list goes on and on.

I read on the Puffin website that your most treasured possession is your first rejection letter. Please explain why this means so much to you.

It reminds me where I’ve come from, and how hopeless I felt when I was first rejected. It was a very long road to getting published, and an even longer road before I became successful enough to write full-time. It reminds me to be grateful and appreciate what I have. I was a kid who dreamed of being published at 15. Many kids dream of that. It’s a fine dream to have, but you also have to be prepared for a long difficult journey. Becoming a writer is usually not a sprint!

The Bookette: Please describe your life as a writer in three words:

Rick Riordan: Revise, revise, revise.

The Bookette: And finally, as a very English lady I do love a cup of tea. I ask every writer when I get the chance to tell me if they have a favourite biscuit and if so, which one?

Rick Riordan: Being American, I think of buttermilk or sourdough biscuits with gravy, but I doubt those would go with afternoon tea. I enjoy a good currant scone, though I try to go easy on the sweet treats!

The Bookette: Rick, thank you so much for indulging my inner fan. Good luck with the worldwide release of The Lost Hero (not that you'll need it).
A note to my hubby: If I do not get to go to Mr Riordan's UK signing, there will be a Zeus worthy tempest rising in our house!

Rick will be signing at Waterstones Bluewater, Saturday 6th November, 12.00 pm

The Lost Hero is released worldwide 12th October 2010! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Info: Upcoming Author Events/ Signings

There are so many author events happening in October and November so I thought it was about time that I blogged about them for you.

So without further ado, here is The Bookette's Guide to upcoming author events:

L.A. Weatherly will be signing copies of Angel

After Twilight

Cheltenham Literature Festival
Friday, 10 October, 16:00 to 17:00


Sunday, 12 December 2010, 1:00PM More info here

Author Signing - Eternal Twilight Con

Eternal Twilight convention - Birmingham
Saturday, 23 October, 09:00 to 13:00
Sunday, 24 October, 09:00 to 13:00

Angel Signing and Reading - Windsor

Waterstone's bookshop - Windsor
Wednesday, 27 October, 11:00 to 12:00

Angel Signing and Reading - Reading

Waterstone's bookshop - Reading
Wednesday, 27 October, 14:30 to 15:30

Angel Signing - Bristol

Waterstone's bookshop - Bristol
Thursday, 28 October, 11:00 to 13:30

Angel Signing - Westfield, London

Foyles Bookshop - Westfield
Saturday, 30 October, 14:00 to 15:00

There are lots more too. Check out the Angel facebook page for more info
Becca Fitzpatrick will be signing copies of Hush, Hush and Crescendo


Sunday, 31 October 2010, 12:00PM
An Evening with Becca Fitzpatrick

Monday, 1 November 2010, 6:30PM


Tuesday, 2 November 2010, 6:30PM
More info on all three events here

Rick Riordan will be signing copies of The Lost Hero

Saturday, 6 November 2010, 12:00PM More info here
Lauren Kate will be signing copies of Fallen and Torment

Bury Library

Tuesday, 19 October 2010, 6:30PM
An Evening with Lauren Kate
Thursday, 21 October 2010, 6:30PM - 8:00PM

More info on both events here

Cornelia Funke will be signing copies of Reckless

Friday, 1 October 2010, 4:30PM - 5:30PM

Saturday, 2 October 2010, 3:00PM
More info on both events here
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Foyles, Westfield
Maggie Steifvater will be signing copies of Shiver and Linger
Crawley Library, Southgate Avenue, Crawley, RH10 6HG

Tuesday, 5 October 2010, 6:30PM - 9:00PM  More info here
I am going to keep adding to this as we find out the locations of the other events that these wonderful authors are hosting in the UK, so keep checking back, comment or @the_bookette me on Twitter if you spot an event I've missed.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Review: Trash

Author: Andy Mulligan

Release date: 2nd September 2010 UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Target audience: 10+

Summary from Amazon:
Raphael is a dumpsite boy. He spends his days wading through mountains of steaming trash, sifting it, sorting it, breathing it, sleeping next to it. Then one unlucky-lucky day, Raphael's world turns upside down. A small leather bag falls into his hands. It's a bag of clues. It's a bag of hope. It's a bag that will change everything. Soon Raphael and his friends Gardo and Rat are running for their lives. Wanted by the police, it takes all their quick-thinking, fast-talking to stay ahead. As the net tightens, they uncover a dead man's mission to put right a terrible wrong. It's three street-boys against the world...
Trash is an empowering story which takes you on a journey of courage, friendship and a quest for the truth. At the heart of the story are three boys: Raphael, Gardo and Rat. They live on a dumpsite in Behala. They make their living picking through rubbish and finding odds and ends to sell. They work among human faeces and when you read this and know that there are children in the world living in just this way, your heart wants to fracture into a million pieces. What’s amazing is that they don’t resent this way of life, it just is.

The story begins with Raphael and Gardo picking through the rubbish like any other day. But this day is different because Raphael finds a plastic bag and inside there are some intriguing items and some money. Raphael squirrels away his find and later he and Gardo cannot believe their luck. They are best friends and they share the money.

Unfortunately, the police soon arrive and begin asking questions on the dumpsite. They offer money to the residents to give up the bag. Raphael and Gardo realise that there is more to this particular piece of unwanted trash than they first thought and their instincts tell them to keep silent about their find. The story then unfolds into a thriller where three boys take on the police and try to get to the heart of the mystery behind the person who threw away the bag.

All three boys are such great characters. Gardo is the serious one. The planner, the thinker and in my mind, he was the leader. Raphael is the one who is easily excitable, fun and immensely loyal. Rat is the spontaneous genius with a natural instinct for survival. I felt that he was the most optimistic of the boys too. As you read the story, you become attached to all of them.

Trash isn’t your average crime thriller. The way it is told is really unusual. The story is passed like a relay baton from character to character as they each tell their part of the journey. You don’t lose the flow or the feel of the narrative though as you keep returning to the voices of the three boys. Trash is such a heartfelt and poignant book to read. It makes you think about injustice and poverty. It makes you realise how different your own life is to so many other peoples all across the world. But above all, it is a gripping mystery which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Thank you to Random House Children's Books for sending me the book to review.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Review: Prep

Author: Curtis Sittenfeld

Release date: This edition July 2010 (first published 2005)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Target audience: Adult
UK Publisher: Black Swan

I feel a little sad to have finished Prep; it seemed to me while I was reading it that it was so full of truth and mistakes of judgment. I felt at times as if I was the main character of the story. Lee Fiora is thirteen when she has the idea that she could go to boarding school. She orders the prospectuses and is mesmerised by the glamourous, idealised images of adolescence that stare back at her. At fourteen years old, she has secured herself a place at Ault which is a prestigious private school just outside of Boston. Her parents are not well off but Lee is awarded a scholarship and she convinces them to let her go.

Prep is the story of her four years at Ault, from her early days as a Freshman to her final days as a Senior. It is an adult novel in style but it explores the experiences of a teen. I found it very relatable and I’m sure there are older teens that would enjoy this novel.

Lee is an interesting study in character. In her days at her state school, she was “special”. She stood out as academic and an achiever. At Ault, her position is not in any way extraordinary. If anything, Lee is below average at Ault and struggling to keep her grade up in Maths. She goes there thinking she will enjoy a rich and broadening education. What she actually experiences is something rather different. This is not to say that Prep gives a negative portrayal of private school education. Rather it explores Lee as a girl who is a dreamer, a thinker, a wisher but not a person of action. She is very much a voyeur. She watches the other students and almost creates a mental map of everything they do, say, wear. She is so afraid of saying the wrong thing that she rarely says anything in case she causes a social faux pas. The consequence is that much of Lee’s time is spent being incredibly lonely and living through an imaginary existence. In her first year she develops a crush on Cross Sugarman. He is a very popular guy in her year and is not lacking in self-esteem or charm. She spends so much of her time at Ault longing to be near him.

It would be easy to say that Lee is lacking in self-esteem. She is certainly not a character who is a great role model to young women but I think it isn’t fair to define her in such simple a way. It is almost as if Lee chooses to be self-conscious in the hope that it will make her more noticeable. She almost wants to be affronted, to experience some sort of monumental shake up to the social hierarchy. The frustrating thing is that as the reader you can recognise that she could easily be a part of the Ault social groupings if only she tried because she is a naturally funny and likable person.

When I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it. I wanted certain things to happen; I (like Lee) willed them to happen. Prep had a very attractive style. It isn’t necessarily abundant with figurative language but there is an honesty in Lee’s narrative and her bizarre ideas about how people are and how she chooses to be are really fascinating to read. Even though adult novels are outside of my comfort zone, I couldn’t have enjoyed this book more. I am definitely going to be reading more novels by Curtis Sittenfeld. It would be fair to say that for me Prep was an education. This is one book that I would love to see transformed into a film. It had so much that I could visualise between its pages. I loved it.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Info: Roald Dahl Day

Monday 13th September is the fifth annual Roald Dahl Day.

Last year, I got the whole school taking part in a Roald Dahl quiz. I bought Wonka Bars from Bluewater for the winners. It went down a storm with the pupils. You'd be surprised what 13 year olds will do when there is chocolate at stake. I attempted to make a Giant Peach for display but I didn't really pull that one off.

This year, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to fit in a week of celebrations because we only went back on Monday. I have only just imported the new borrowers into the catalogue and things are still in the getting set-up-for-the-year phase. But then yesterday...I received an email from none other than Justin Somper telling me about the Reading Relay Challenge and giving me lots of information about other events that will be happening all over the country.

For great ideas about how you can celebrate the life and work of Roald Dahl in your library, school or home with your family, go to: www.roalddahl.com

For those of you who are wondering about the Reading Relay, "it is a challenge is for children to read three Roald Dahl books during September – December. All participants can download a Roald Dahl Reading Relay Diary and, on completion of reading three Roald Dahl books, a Buckswashling Book Champion certificate. You can download everything you need to get started, as well as the Roald Dahl Challenge calendar at www.roalddahl.com from September 1st 2010." © Roald Dahl Nominee Ltd, Media Press Release JS

What I like about the idea is that all the work doesn't have to be achieved by Monday. I will have the whole of this term to encourage my pupils to read three books by Dahl and find different ways to introduce them, read extracts etc. I will target my Year 3 classes and the Year 4 book group. And the resources are all free to download.

I might even buy some copies of "WILLY WONKA’S WHIPPLESCRUMPTIOUS ANNUAL – the first EVER Roald Dahl Annual, bursting with story extracts, games, puzzles, a guide to Gobblefunk and ideas to make and do."© Roald Dahl Nominee Ltd, Media Press Release JS I think they would make super prizes and maybe I'll find some activities for the children to enjoy at lunch.

If you celebrate Roald Dahl Day, I'd love to hear what you get up to!