Author Interview: Ben Peek

Hi Readers,

It’s November and it’s NaNoWriMo time. As you, me and everyone starts penning their 50,000 words, let’s encourage all the authors who have put in a lot of hardwork in their novels.

On this note, we have with us Ben Peek.

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Ben Peek is the author of The Godless, Leviathan’s Blood, Black Sheep, Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, and the short story collection, Dead Americans and Other Stories. He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his partner the photographer, Nikilyn Nevins, and two cats, who contribute very little. He can be found at www.theurbansprawlproject.com or on twitter @nosubstance

  1. Hi Ben! Tell us something about yourself and about your journey as an author.

I’m an Australian author who lives in Sydney. I’ve been publishing speculative fiction of one kind or another for about two decades now, beginning with short fiction in old paper fanzines that paid me nothing, to independent publishers, and big mainstream publishers. I suspect I’ve seen just about every story of success and failure that you can imagine in publishing.

  1. Your new book Leviathan’s Blood is a sequel to the Godless. And it is the second book in the Children’s Trilogy. Please tell the readers about it and what they can expect from the triology?

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The Children Trilogy is my big, crazy fantasy series, where the gods are dead, their bodies leak their power into the world, and people awake with strange powers. It’s set in a world where the sun is broken, the ocean is black, and the body of a god is hidden beneath a mountain range. It’s my homage to my childhood of reading big fantasy books, really. It’s all the things I loved as a teenager – big sword fights, big crazy cities – and all the things that I love as an adult – quantum entanglement theory, discussions on the nature of godhood, life after death – mashed into a big thing. I finished the last book earlier this year and all three books come in at around half a million words. It’s like I’ve lived my childhood dream.

  1. Is this your first work of fiction? Or have you written any other books? (Write about your other works)

Nah. Leviathan’s Blood is my sixth book.

My first was a science fiction novel, Black Sheep, that I wrote when I was twenty one. It’s a pretty rough book, but if you can find a copy of it round, it sort of pins the start of my interests down. Things like equality, fighting against racism, that sort of thing. You can see that running through all my work, to one degree or another. In the fantasy books, for example, the equality is just part of the world building. So there’s no discrimination based on gender, the cast is diverse, things like that. It’s the 21st Century, after all, and we ought to have fiction that represents the diverse, multicultural world we live in.

My other books include an autobiography about autobiographies, a flip science fiction novel with Stephanie Campisi, and a collection of short stories entitled Dead Americans and Other Stories. It’s full of my short pieces, and you should totally read it.

  1. Which of the characters in your recently released book is your favourite and why?

I like them all – otherwise, why write them?

  1. Who or what inspires you to write?

Mostly, it’s just the thoughts in my head. Left to my own devices – in a shower, walking, just passing time – I tend to make up stories in my head. I might read an article, or see someone, and more and more it all creeps in. So, in many ways, I write just to push out what’s in there.

Now, why do I publish, that’s a different question.

The answer is simple: I don’t like other jobs. I’d like to do this solo, if I could. So I write it to clean out my thoughts, and I sell it because it might mean I don’t have to do the other things I do for money.

  1. What do you think are the biggest strength and weaknesses of a writer?

I am sure another person can tell you all about my weaknesses. As for my strength, I don’t know. It’s all a bit too much to say you’re good at this but bad at that, I think. I try to be good at everything in my work. I know I’m not, but you have to strive forward.

  1. Have you ever faced the ‘Writer’s Block’? How do you deal with it?

No, not really. I mean, some days you don’t want to write, but if you keep a regular schedule, it pretty much takes care of itself. Which I guess is how I deal with it, really. I write between five to seven days a week, depending on how the work is going. I keep ritualised work hours, even. Those physical acts are a great help, I think, but naturally, your mileage may vary. 

  1. Being a published author, what do you think are the best ways to approach a publisher? Also, what do budding authors need to keep in mind while writing their first ever book?

Probably the best way to approach a publisher is through an agent. I mean, if we’re talking about a big publishers. Even some of the higher up independent publishers. You want to go in with an agent, there. S/he will know how to navigate the workplace there, in a way you never will, until you’ve been in the mix for a long time. After that, the only advice I can offer you is to be polite.

You’d be surprised how many authors are not polite.

As for new authors, I think it’s important that you keep in mind that you have to be writing for yourself, to a degree. Write because it means something to you. Not because of money, or fame, or something else. Write because it means something to you. Because it speaks to you.

And read. Read everything you can.

  1. Apart from your work, which other books would you recommend and why?

I recently read Roberto Bolano’s 2666, which I loved, and I think everyone should read. It’s about violence.


You can watch the trailer of the book here.

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Let’s Talk Embroideries

No wait. It is not what you think it is.

Embroideries need patience. In fact, tonnes and tonnes of it. And I don’t have that reserve of patience in me. What I am talking about is the book of the same name by Marjane Satrapi.

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Image Source: Amazon.com and I hold no rights to it.

It is not a book per se, but a graphic novel and a fine one at that. A quick read, you can actually finish this brilliant piece at one go. On a flight, on a long drive or on a day when you want to take a break from everything and need a change. It is rib-tickling and there are moments that would make you laugh out loud. Really LOUD.

I am afraid of giving away spoilers and hence, I steer clear of penning down more words and not including any quote. You have to enjoy it one word at a time. All I can say is that the book is a masterpiece and this is only the first of her many books that I have picked up to read.

I have targeted her book Persepolis next as a friend highly recommends the same to me.

Have you read Embroideries? What do you like about the book/graphic novel?

 

 

Beginner’s Luck: 7 Books To Have In Your Collection When You Start Reading

Look what I found! 😀

Scribbling Owlet

Image Source: Flickr Image Source: Flickr

Reading is a hobby that gives joy second to none. More often than not, beginner level readers are clueless as to how they can build up their book collection or which books should they start reading first. Here is a new series in my blog – Beginner’s Luck and I will start with a list of 7 books that every beginner should have in their collection.

  1. Classic: There are so many classics out there that you will surely be spoilt for choices. However, in my opinion, you can settle for quick classics such as – The Animal Farm or The Old Man and The Sea.
  2. Chicken Soup For Soul: I have not read any of the books in this series. But if you want to get started with non-fiction, this is the best series that you can try. There are many variants of the book such as…

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I Never Read Non-Fiction, Almost…

Non-fiction is the dark sheep of my reading expeditions. Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, self-help books etc. are never picked up by me from the shelves, apart from gifting purposes.

Not that I never tried reading them, or haven’t ever read them. But beyond a few pages, I start yawning and can’t seem to focus. My heart and soul wanders away and I long to pick up a work of fiction as soon as possible.

Such is my condition.

Till date, the only non-fiction works that I read (and remember) are :

  • You Can Win by Shiv Khera
  • Who Moved My Cheese
  • The Diary Of Anne Frank (Read it numerous time)
  • Timepass by Protima Bedi
  • Letters from a father to a daughter
  • Ogilvy on Advertising

And I guess that’s all.

I am still figuring out the WHY of non-fiction aversion. And I have concluded that it is because of the fact –

  • If I can learn it from a story, why read someone else’s account?
  • Self-help never motivates me and I find it to be a bit “preachy”. I don’t like being “preached”.
  • I feel lost. Every single time I pick up a non-fiction work. Sometimes, I feel I am losing my identity and questioning everything when I read excerpts. Whereas, I am overall a very optimistic person who never compares and contrasts her life with others. So, no.
  • I can’t visualise anything when I read a work of non-fiction! I can’t imagine a scenario where person X and person Y meet at an office and then person Y becomes the bigshot and blah. No. Not happening. Give me names! Give me imaginary setups please.

Having said that, I believe that I have learnt more from Harry Potter or The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants than from a Men are from Mars. I learn more from Jodi Picoult and Jhumpa Lahiri than the who’s who of non-fiction world.

I know I am biased, but this is how I function. Hopefully, I do aim to read more non-fiction in the coming days (one book is already shortlisted), but I am not promising that I won’t wander off! 😉

What about your equation with non-fiction works? Suggestions are most welcome.

 

 

Author Interview: KSR Menon

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Hello Mr. Menon. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a writer?

I have been a news agency journalist for most of my life.I was posted as the correspondent of the leading Indian news agency, the Press Trust of India in Dubai. That experience gave me an opportunity to base my novel in Dubai. As a wire service journalist,I have been schooled to write with brevity, clarity and accuracy which feature, I believe, is reflected in my style of writing and also in my thriller,Desert Hunt.

You’ve been a journalist and a writer. Could you tell us the difference between the two? How were your experiences as both?

As a journalist you are not at liberty to take a purely subjective view of events. A journalist at best is only an interpreter of events.  A writer is not bound by such rules. However, after being a journalist for so long, I cannot exercise that writer’s freedom to see things only in any one perspective. When I write about a people or a region, I am conscious of the fact that it is my responsibility to see situations from a wide angle.

What is your book about? How did you come up with the plot and the characters?

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Desert Hunt” has terrorism as the theme which is very topical today. When I conceived the idea of a Dubai-based novel, I wanted to write something unique. As far as I know, no novel has been published by an Indian expatriate author based on this kind of a terror plot unfolding in the Middle East region, particularly Dubai. This emirate is at the crossroads of East and West and also of opposing ideologies. What is foreseen in the novel is something that is waiting to happen. Once the theme was decided, the characters fell into place. It was as if I knew them in real life.

Who or what inspires you to write?

That is a difficult question. I had done creative writing a couple of decades ago. But in the interregnum, try as I may, I could not produce any fiction, not even a short story. But then one day, I decided to write again. It was part destiny that I succeeded.

What are the qualities, which you think is needed to become a successful writer?

First and foremost one should have the felicity of expression. Language is your tool, and proficiency in language does not come about in a day. One has to be observant of people and places that one has been associated with, as all that will find a place in what one writes. Then there is this endless churning in the mind, which ultimately leads to creative writing combining all other elements and a lot of imagination.

Give our budding writers some tips on how to write well and get published.

Read, read and read. Write, write and write. Earlier, one had to be in an exclusive club, or very luckyto get a book published. Now, thanks to Amazon plus other self-publishing platforms, and social media, anyone can write, and quality and effort can sell.

As a writer, what are your pet peeves?

I have none. But I always wonder why I had a writer’s block for a long time and how why the synapses opened suddenly.

What are the books, apart from your latest release, that you would like to recommend all the bookworms out there?

I now read books of many of my fellow authors who are on, say, goodreads or other similar sites. I must say many of them write very well and are waiting to be discovered. Selection may be decided by the genre one likes. Of course, step into other genres and see what is happening there once in a while. You may enjoy that too and get motivated to be an author.

Given a choice, what would your ideal writing space look like?

I will be alone, all by myself. Plus my laptop, books mostly of the same genreas the one I am trying to write, reference works, and dictionary. I read dictionaries by the way. Keep your cell phone; but switch it off.


Desert Hunt is for all your thriller lovers out there! Do read the book and share your thoughts with us!

Repost: “Ugly” by Warsan Shire — johncoyote

Originally posted on Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.: UGLY Your daughter is ugly. She knows loss intimately, carries whole cities in her belly. As a child, relatives wouldn’t hold her. She was splintered wood and sea water. They said she reminded them of the war. On her fifteenth birthday you taught her how to tie…

via “Ugly” by Warsan Shire — johncoyote

Giveaway on Goodreads: Myth by Erin Ritch

Hello folks!

I have news. Erin Ritch, the author of Myth is hosting a giveaway on Goodreads. If you are interested, then head straight to Goodreads and enter the giveaway! You can always get lucky! 🙂

The Giveaway ends on October 12th, so hurry up!!!!! And don’t forget to tell me if you win! 😉

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Myth by Erin Ritch

Myth

by Erin Ritch

Giveaway ends October 12, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Author Interview: Erin Ritch

Hi people, this is yet another Author Interview this week and I have more lined up for you! 🙂 This time is it Erin, who has an absolutely pleasant demeanor. Say hello to her and read the interview. You can also show some love to her latest release The Myth, which by the looks of it, seems to be a delightful read!

Just by the way, Erin is also hosting a giveaway for her wonderful book for book lovers like you and me.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Myth by Erin Ritch

Myth

by Erin Ritch

Giveaway ends October 12, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


1. Hi Erin! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and how did you become a writer?

Hi Sucheta – thank you so much for having me on your site! I’m an author/blogger from rural Oregon where I live on my little farm with my family. I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old and it started because I had fun traveling to different times and worlds vicariously through my characters – and that has continued to this day!

2. Your new release is “Myth”. Why did you choose the title and what is it all about?

“Myth” is my Fantasy novel about a young woodsman and a girl with powers from the sea who join to save their home from an evil spreading across the world. The two main characters, Shogun and Madigan, have to solve an old myth in order to stop the darkness. That’s where the idea for the title came from since this myth is the key to everything.

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3. Getting rejected by a publisher is probably the worst nightmare for any upcoming author. How would you tell them to deal with rejections?

Read the rejection, thank the publisher for their time, and move on. Whatever you do, don’t dwell on it. File the rejection away or move it out of your inbox. Rejection is certainly part of the job and it will sting at first, but the most important part is to rise above it and keep writing.

4. Who do you consider your biggest critic and why?

I actually think my spouse is my biggest critic – and I’m happy about that! I value his opinion and we’ve built a trust that I won’t get offended by his honest critique. In fact, I depend on it! He’s always the first to read my next story.

5. From where/whom do you get inspiration from?

Many of my stories start with a random image or thought that I keep exploring until I build a story from. Sometimes the story will be a piece of flash fiction and sometimes it will be a full-length novel. Another source of inspiration for me is that I love to write to music, specifically Celtic music!

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6. What would your ideal writing space look like?

Great question! If I could design my ideal writing space, it would have a huge desk and a big comfy chair with one window that overlooks the ocean and one that looks right into the forest. Oh yes, and an espresso machine. Maybe one day I’ll get it!

7. If you were to read only one book for a lifetime, which one would it be and why?

I think it would have to be “A Red Heart of Memories” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I was very influenced by this story when I first read the novel in my late teens, just when I was starting to experiment with my own style of writing. One of the characters in the book has the ability to communicate with inanimate objects. That was an idea I was trying out myself and it was very exciting to see it work so well for an established author. That book really gave me the confidence to try out the ideas that I was afraid were too obscure or different.

8.  The epic question. How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ve found when I suffer from Writer’s Block, it’s usually because I’m taking the story in the wrong direction. Going back through the last chapter in the story and trying out different options will usually solve the problem. I keep the deleted material in a separate document just in case I need it later in the book.

9. What are the books you grew up reading and how did they shape up your writing career?

When I was growing up I read everything I could get my hands on but found that I was really drawn to Fantasy and Sci-fi books such as Star Wars. As a teenager, I read a book on writing by Brenda Ueland called “If You Want To Write.” That book truly gave me the confidence to trust my voice and embrace my own style of writing.

10. Give our budding authors some tips that they can use.

Remember that your voice is unique and there is no one else like you! Embrace your own style and explore the stories that interest you. When you finish a story, wait a few weeks before you go back and revisit it, editing will be much easier when you’ve had a chance to step away. Lastly, if you’re interested in publishing your work, remember there are so many options available to writers nowadays – whether it’s traditional publishing, self-publishing, small presses, e-zines, blogs, etc. Connect with or follow authors who write books similar to your’s and see what they are doing to achieve success.

11. What other work(s) do you have in the pipeline?

Right now I’m working on a book called “The Reanimation of Robert” that I’m calling a Paranormal Literary Fiction! It’s about a man that cheats death and gains supernatural powers. I am very happy with how it is turning out and plan on releasing it before the end of the year!


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You can contact the author via these links:

Website: http://erinritch.com/

Myth is available to purchase internationally in print or e-book on Amazon. Link to Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2cwGjLf

Book Review: The Vigil and Other Stories

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There are stories that you read once and forget.

There are stories, which remain with you always.

And then, there are stories that you never expect to turn out that great, but they ooze a certain kind of warmth and never leave you.

This is what I learnt from many Sudha Murthy stories. I am glad to add one more name to the list today and that is of Gita Reddy, author of The Vigil and Other Stories.

To be honest, I sometimes DO judge a book by its cover. Mainly because I belong to the IT industry and often, I have to work in close quarter with design. So, when I received the copy of the book, I was a bit skeptical about how it will turn out to be, what sort of stories will it contain, reviewing shall anyway be done but will I actually love the book and read it with acute interest?

As you might have guessed by now, I did love the book. The collection of mostly women-centric short stories, the book strikes a chord. It has been written in a simple language and keeps you hooked on every sentence, every page. Saying anything more will just spoil the book for you.

Read it at your own pace and make others read it too!

Click here to take a look at the book on Goodreads.

 

Author Interview: Eva Snowden

Eva Snowden is an extremely warm and jovial person and I am glad to have interviewed her. Instead of me yapping endlessly about her, why not read what she has to say! 🙂


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Hi Eva! It is nice to have you on the blog. Please tell us about yourself and how did writing happen to you?

Hello, My name is Eva A. Snowden and I am the author of NamuH, a science fiction novel released this past August.  I have always loved story telling. When I was in elementary, secondary and later college I was always telling stories.  To me it was the best hobby.  I could take any picture, look at any group of people or any object and develop a story around them.  It came in handy in later years when raising my daughter.  I made up stories and told them to her every night and encouraged her to be creative and explore.  It was only after I retired from work that I was able to devote full time to my writing and this novel, which had been roaming around in my mind for years, came to life.

What according to you are the qualities needed to become a writer?

To be a writer you need to unleash your imagination.  Allow your thoughts to wander and to wonder.  A writer needs a sense of discover to create the uncreated to unearth new ways of communication and tell a story.  I want my stories to evoke emotion and perhaps a new perception of ourselves and others.

What or whom do you take inspiration from?

I am inspired by nature.  The absolute marvel of  creation and knowing I am cared for by a loving God encourages me daily.  I also find great inspiration from reading other writers.

How easy or difficult was it for you to get published?

After I wrote my novel, I spent a few months sending query letters to both agents and publishers with no success.  There are so many authors seeking to be published and unfortunately very few that are picked up commercially. That doesn’t mean publication is impossible.  Because of the internet self-publication is very affordable and practical.  I decided to use Create Space and they were very helpful in getting my book in print and on-line.

What would your ideal writing space look like?

Everyone has a different learning style.  I think that is also true for writing.  Some people write better in a quiet office, but that’s not me. I like to write in the middle of my kitchen on a kitchen chair with my laptop on the kitchen Island.  I like the smell of coffee and hearing the sounds of nature outside and the bustle of my house.  I take long walks nearly every day; and while I’m walking I work out plots and dialogue.

Give us an idea about your new book, the plot and the characters.

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My novel is dystopian fiction.   In 1968 a third grade teacher named Jane Elliott conducted a phycological exercise with her third grade class.  This happened  shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  She wanted the children to experience the irrational nature of prejudice and discrimination.  She told the children that the blue eyed children were smarter and better than the brown eyed children and separated the children based on their eye color.  By the end of the school day the blue eyed children had done better on all their tests and were  better behavior while the opposite was true of the brown eyed children.  They acted that way not because of fact but because of what they had been told. That is the insidious evil of discrimination.  My novel takes that idea and expands it to a civilization based on prejudice and discrimination.

The main character is a girl named, Dara.  She is born into privilege as the daughter of circle elder, the supreme commanders of the civilization.  The life of the Circle people is  fraught with peril.  There is a disease, the Luza plague which is first detected in newly born babies.  Infants infected with the virus must be euthanized to prevent the deadly plague spreading.  The circle elders are also responsible for the Namuh, a humanoid species that were once savage and preyed on the circle people.  The circle elders have over time domesticated them and they are used as farm laborers and domestic servants.  In the mountains surrounding the circle complexes are bands of marauders composed of circle deserters and their luza infected children as well as escaped Namuh.  They terrorize the circle villagers and are a bane  to the eldership.

While on an archaeological dig with her father, Dara encounters a ferocious reptile and is saved from sure death by a young soldier of the band.  Severely injured she is nursed back to health by the band.  It is with the band, Dara discovers the truth of who she really is and the evil of the circle elders.  She then must decide what to do with what she knows.  There are many twists and turns as the novel unfolds and the mystery of the Namuh is revealed.

What are the books you grew up reading? What is the earliest memory that you have on reading?

I have always loved science fiction especially dystopian fiction.  I loved George Orwell and Mary Shelley and also enjoy Stephen King and Carrie Ryan.  I am also a fan of books about space fiction especially the works of Michael R. Hicks.

 Give our budding writers some tips that you picked up while writing your book.

If you wish to be a writer you have to have patience with your imagination   Some days the words just flow out and other days you have to let the book talk to you .  To me it is important to edit often.  It helps me get a feel for the flow of the book.  I also find that enlisting the help of several beta readers gives me a better perspective and forces me to stay on track.

The book has a Facebook page, http://www.facebook/Book of Namuh.  I welcome your reviews and comments there.  NamuH is also listed on Goodreads.

NamuH is available on line at  Amazon, both in print and in e-book formats.  It is also available on line at  Barnes and Noble.

https://www.amazon.com/Namuh-E-Snowden/dp/1535127554/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474312240&sr=1-1&keywords=Namuh

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/namuh-e-a-snowden/1124386150?ean=9781535127554

 

Guestpost: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Review by Nam H Nguyen

About Nam H Nguyen

Nam H Nguyen is a Melbourne based freelancer. His publications can be found online at The Australia Times magazine and on his personal blog, Scratches and Scribbles. An Australian by birth, Nam is a major in Creative Writing and English literature. He can be found perusing Melbourne’s many laneways blanching at the prices of tea.

Do visit his blog to read more write-ups: www.scratchesandscribbles.com


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 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler

Published 30th May, 2015, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

ISBN 0399162097 (ISBN13: 9780399162091)

310 pages

Man Booker Prize Nominee (2014)Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2013)PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2014),California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction (2013)John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee (2014)

Specsavers National Book Award for International Author of the Year (2014)

“In the phrase ‘ human being,’ the word ‘being’ is much more important than the word ‘human.’ ”

Imagine if your father operated your childhood as a social experiment. That is the life of the younger Rosemary Cooke, a life of the apathetic notes and scientific assertions. Now older, her twin sister, Fern has disappeared and her older brother, Lowell, has run away – leaving her with only her mother and father. Weeks after having finished the novel, I still stare at its cover and her voice still echoes with her grief.

Awkward and lonely, Rosemary hides from many things in life, but she doesn’t shy away from everything – and it’s with this determination, that she won’t lose her parents, or herself too.

Author of the 2004 critically acclaimed Jane Austen Book Club, now a film, Karen Fowler has again brought to us a modern work of art.Interspersed with her natural charm, Rosemary Cooke makes for an endearing protagonist. With such talent that couldn’t be done otherwise, she comes too readers as isolated, and then ordinary – and suddenly she leaves you unique and profound. Now older, her voice she echoes with youthful jubilance, and her intelligence and wit leaves you with observations that you can take with you for life.

It’s this complexity –Rosemary’s voice and Fowler’s skill that reshapes your typical family drama into something more relevant today. Readers would forgive the authorsdiscourse, only because it integrates so seamlessly into the structure of the narrative.

What happens when you remove the word human from human being? That’s what half the people I knoware today. Humans or beings, both aspects are important to the modern representation of humanity. Fowler’s greatest achievement is not her innovation on family drama itself – but rather how she sets about asking questions which otherwise are so heavy handed.

Ultimately, the narrative asks us to accept the reality of the world which we live, but leaves us with emotionally charged knowledge to decide our own.

 “I didn’t want a world in which I had to choose between blind human babies and tortured monkey ones… that’s the sort of choice I expect science to protect me from, not give me.”

It’s through novels like these, where we can ponder a little bit, and put the word ‘human’ back where it belongs – right beside the word ‘being’.

 

My Pick From The Most Beautiful Literary Quotes Of All Time.

Book readers and avid fans of literature are suckers for quotes. Some hold on to them forever, some, like me, tend to forget them as soon as they close the pages. Thanks to this blog, I will be able to preserve some of my most favorite quotes, which I have come across while reading or while stalking words on the internet. Take a look and tell me how many of them do you love as well!


“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” -Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“In our village, folks say God crumbles up the old moon into stars.” — One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.” – The Road by  Cormac McCarthy

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
— The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” – Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

“The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order.”
— Beloved by Toni Morrison

“Sometimes we get sad about things and we don’t like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes, we are sad but we really don’t know why we are sad, so we say we aren’t sad but we really are.” The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night time by Michael Haddon

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
— East of Eden by John Steinbeck

“One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

“Call me Ishmael.” – Moby Dick by Herman Melville (not a quote per se, but it is magnetic)

“Neighbours bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbour. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good luck pennies, and our lives.”To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

 

The Crappiest Year In A Row

This is the crappiest year of my life. The second one in a row, and I can’t wait for it to end.

Every month of this year, I have had one sorrow-filled news. Every other month, things went awry. Every two months, I was sick to my bones. And every quarter, I was so busy, that I neglected the things I love the most – books and blogging.

As this crappy year comes to a close in another 3 months or so, I wish to have a better, if not worse year ahead. Hopefully, I will devote more time to this blog and catch up on my reading.

There are already a number of books on their way and I want to utilize my upcoming vacation for the same.

Cheers to that!

Author Interview: Brian Trenchard-Smith

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Hello all you wonderful people! Today, we have a very special guest here – Brian Trenchard-Smith.  And he needs no introduction, if you are a movie-addict as well! Brian has given us some of the lovely movies and is one of the favorite directors of the very famous Quentin Tarantino! He has also presented over 50 trailers from hell.

Am I lucky or am I lucky to have him on the blog? Here’s his interview for his latest release “The Headsmans Daughter“.

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself and how did you foray into writing?

I’ve directed 42 movies for Cinema, direct to video, and cable television. 12 of them were either written or co-written by myself. The script is the architect’s blueprint, so I try to exert as much influence as possible. I have also made trailers for over 100 movies in a parallel career, which gave me good research into what movie audiences respond to. The Headsman’s Daughter is my first novel. Here’s how it came about.

  1. How easy or how difficult was it for you to find a publisher for your book?

The Headsman’s Daughter started as fragments of a dream I woke up from in 2004. The fragments represent the basic premise outlined in the first two chapters of the novel. I had no idea what would happen next but thought it was the basis of an intriguing off beat movie. I do a certain amount of creative thinking when I swim, and back then I had access to the pool at UCLA where my wife had a scholarship in the doctoral program. So most days, I would lap for 45 minutes, more elements or a plot twist would come to me, I would jot them down in the changing room, and add them to my noodlings when I got home. Coincidentally water, and water rights, became a key element in the politics underpinning the story. Eventually a screenplay was born that was optioned twice for good money but never made. Financiers required a major twenty year old female star like Scarlett or Keira, etc. They all passed. We could not make firm offers, only offers contingent on financing, and financing was contingent on a letter of intent from the star. And the star rarely reads without a firm offer. Catch 22. I wonder if their agents ever sent them the script.

But to be fair, it may have seemed too wacky a premise for a new young star. After a few years the rights returned to me. I put it aside to concentrate on other work, but it kept gnawing at my liver. So I re-wrote it quite substantially as a novel and sent it to publishers. Those that responded (few) told me 2008/9 was a very bad time for first time authors, and they could not take the risk. Again I put it aside, but Alice kept reminding me of her presence. So late last year I rewrote the novel again, updating the politics and deepening the characterization.  I  have referred to the book in a number of ways – a genre mash-up/ movie homage in novel form., as if Game Of Thrones met The Bourne Identity on Freaky Friday – A ripping yarn for progressives –  A sardonic take on agitprop fiction exploring themes of political corruption, justice, destiny, and timeless love, with a bit of metaphysics thrown in for good measure.

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I realize fiction in today’s market is very niche-reader specific, particularly in self publishing, and I am swimming against the tide by combining genres. But I could not keep Alice locked up in my head. She had to come out.  I hope  she will attract young adult readers of The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc. and people will love Alice as much as I do.  However I have tried to make the book a page turner for older readers of multiple genres.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story but in essence Alice, 16th Century girl, becomes entangled in a 21st Century spy drama while a 21st Century girl faces an equivalent conspiracy via a past life transfer to the reign of Bloody Mary. Has there been a glitch in the multiverse, or is Alice insane? Why will intelligence agencies kill to possess her? Are cosmic forces in play to change both past and future? There a some bizarre twists and turns, as the politics and culture of two societies are contrasted.

  1. Who inspires you or what inspires you to write?

From childhood onwards I have been driven towards creative expression, initially films. Also the “what if’s” of history and the evolution of social customs have been a lifelong fascination of mine. But the kind of movies I am known for (and therefore am sort of pigeonholed in) and the limited budgets of such films preclude the epic sweep of my imagination. A novel has no such restrictions, so I thought I would give it a shot.

  1. What according to you is the biggest challenge for any writer?

I’m sure it’s the same for every writer in all media – summoning the courage to stare at the empty page till something bubbles to the surface that feels right. Finding the way in to the story or the next scene is key.

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  1. What would be your ideal writing space?

Where I am right now, sitting on my porch looking out at the trees, the bird bath and feeders, watching squirrels and birds compete for seeds, is a good place to start. Then when the juices flow, I move indoors to fewer distractions.

  1. What advice/tips would you like to give our budding authors?

As a first timer, I would not presume to advise others at my level. But persistence wins in any endeavor.

  1. Are you working on any other book now? Tell us a bit about it. 

I have ideas for the sequel which would follow straight on from the current ending. But I am waiting to see if the volume of readership justifies the time needed. I noodle at my memoirs. But I am not done with film production yet. I do write for Cinema websites occasionally: http://thetalkhouse.com/artist/brian-trenchard-smith/

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  1. What keeps you busy when you are not writing?

Trying to get the next film project up. I may do an action picture in Thailand next year.

  1. What are the books you grew up reading and how did they shape up your writing career?

Shakespeare, Dickens – grand themes and social nuances, Raphael Sabatini – Boy’s Own adventure, Catch 22. – irony.

  1. How do you deal with writer’s block? 

Vape some herbal remedies, scribble furiously, then see if it makes any sense in the cold light of dawn. It generally shows me the way in or the path through in principle.


Buy the book on Amazon

Get in touch with Brian on Facebook

See the trailer of the book

 

Author Interview: Amanda Bucan

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Hello people!
Today we have Amanda with us. She is here with a new book “From Stardust To Babylon” , a few tips for budding writers and much more. Here’s her interview for the blog.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself and how did you foray into writing?

I was born in 1964 in Northamptonshire England, where I still live with my current partner.

I was married for 20 years and I have two grown-up daughters as well as one granddaughter. Other than writing my hobbies include Gardening, Numerology, Past-life regression and Spiritual self-development. From a young age I had an inner knowing that I was a writer, but aside from dabbling with a few poems and school plays I never really gave any thought to making a career out of it. I always considered myself to be more of a home and family person.


2. How easy or how difficult was it for you to find a publisher for your book?

The book was first published in 2004. Back then I didn’t have a clue about the different types of publishing available and I received an offer quite quickly to publish for a substantial cost. Although I spent a great deal of money that I couldn’t afford, I basically got nowhere fast. To be honest I suspect it was largely my own fault because I had stupidly requested no publicity; not the smartest move to make when releasing a book, but at the time I felt that the most important factor was to get the story out rather than to make money from it. As the story was centred round a relationship I`d had with someone other than my husband, (albeit before we met), I wanted to protect my family, particularly my children who were still at school at the time, from any potential malicious comments. My second and equally disastrous attempt was in 2012 when I found a publisher who agreed to print in e-book format only. This time they didn’t take any money upfront but they were pretty useless. They didn’t do half the things they were supposed to do and they didn’t adhere to the contract, so that sort of died it’s death. After that I decided to let it lie for a while before a further re-write. I decided to self-publish this time around.

At the time of the first publication I did receive a rather amusing review, I think it was from some Christian magazine. They said that the book had obviously been written to be a bestseller, but in their opinion it was probably clever fiction disguised as autobiography. I remember feeling quite honoured at the time that someone should think me a good enough writer to have made the whole thing up. I only wish I had such an imagination!


3. Your new book From Stardust to Babylon sounds every bit interesting. Could you share a gist of the story with our readers?

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From Stardust to Babylon is a book of two halves: The first is a love story set in the early 1980`s between myself and someone who I worked with at the time. We had a very intense and unusual relationship, yet despite knowing that we were meant to be together, our relationship was doomed and we went our separate ways for 19 years.

In 2001 I learned via telepathic messages that he had died and that sparked a bizarre series of supernatural events which led me on a journey of self-awareness and subsequently through some high-profile past lives and a monumental biblical conspiracy.


4. Who inspires you or what inspires you to write?
I was inspired to write to help others remember the truth; a truth that we all have inside us. I think that helping others would always be my main inspiration for writing.This particular book is for anyone who want to advance their own spiritual journey.

5. What according to you is the biggest challenge for any writer?
I think the biggest challenge for any writer is getting people to know that your book exists in the first place. You could effectively write the best book in the world but if nobody knows it exists then it`s going nowhere. It`s also much harder for the ordinary person who doesn’t have connections, money or a university education because any publisher will look at how marketable YOU are before your book. It’s a business after all, and businesses are all about making money at the end of the day. If you do decide to self-publish then you need to develop other skill sets as well like marketing for example.

6. What would be your ideal writing space?
My ideal writing space would be a beautiful secluded garden free from distractions such as barking dogs, screaming kids, motorbikes and ice-cream vans, preferably on a nice warm sunny day.

7. What advice/tips would you like to give our budding authors?
The main tips I would give to budding authors is firstly take your time, don`t rush. Read, read and read again. Where can you improve? Think of it like polishing a rough diamond until it glistens. Gather as much information as you can about the publishing industry and how you want to proceed with your book. Look closely at authors who have been successful as well as those who haven`t. Make notes on each and compare. And secondly NEVER give up!Learn to accept rejections gracefully and not take them too personally. A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that your book is no good, it might just mean it doesn’t fit into a nice neat little box for marketing purposes.

8. Are you working on any other book now? Tell us a bit about it. 
I`m not working on another book at the moment although I do have one or two ideas floating around, so we`ll just have to wait and see what happens. Promoting`From Stardust to Babylon` is the priority just now.

9. What keeps you busy when you are not writing?
When I`m not writing I`m usually gardening. I like to try and maintain a healthy balance between the physical and the spiritual, and it helps to get outside in the fresh air and soak up the sun. It`s a great stress reliever. I also love to spend a full day shopping, followed by a nice meal when I can afford it which to be honest isn’t too often these days.

Here’s a link to her website: http://www.amandabucan.com

You can also get in touch with her on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FromStardustToBabylon/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmandaBucan

Links to her work:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2c3MPNi

Lulu.com : http://bit.ly/2bSvBQI

Youtube: https://youtu.be/5d8CCwJEKUk

 

The Umpteenth Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Review (No-Spoilers)

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The title is a spoiler. But the post is not.

I am going to review Harry Potter and The Cursed Child and it is the gazillionth review that is going to be written about the book ever since the release of the play/book.

To begin with, I didn’t have much expectations from the book. I mean, the story ended with book 7 and so, what could possibly be in a play that claimed to reveal what we already know about Mr. Potter Junior and his universe?

Also, I never read those fan-fictions as I wanted to preserve my memories. Of reading the novels under the sheet with a torch hours past the bedtime, of rushing to the library and nearest stores to get a copy, of being the first one to read it and later, brag about it in the friend circle…and I digress.

Let me put in points what are my thoughts on the book/play.

The bad

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins in a familiar yet unfamiliar universe, where the original trio are middle-aged. Nope. I couldn’t imagine them being middle-aged and all “parenty”. They were still teenagers for me.
  2. It was in a play format and very very difficult to read. Acts/Scenes…not my cup of coffee to be honest. Nope.
  3. At one point, the plot was very confusing. I didn’t know what was happening.
  4. Some of the plot twists, twisted my stomach because I couldn’t make myself to accept them. Nada. Scarred for life. Childhood ruined forever. Logic went for a toss.
  5. It was much ado about nothing really. But like I said, I didn’t have any expectations, so there.
  6. Favourite characters missing.
  7. Too much emo-moments happening. No thrills really.

The good

  1. It still had the essence of the original books to a certain point. Loved the sorting ceremony.
  2. Return of favourite characters.
  3. The entire idea of traveling back and forth in time.
  4. Scorpius ❤
  5. Draco ❤ ❤

That’ll be all.

I wouldn’t give a thumbs down to the book, but it didn’t add to the legacy of Harry Potter. It can fall in the category of additional books like Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, but not as the 8th installment of the series.

Would I recommend it? If you are a Potter fan, hell yes!!!

Book Review: When Darkness Falls and Other Stories – Ruskin Bond

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When Darkness Falls and Other Stories is my first ever Ruskin Bond book.

Although I have grown reading his stories as a part of my English curriculum, I don’t exactly remember what took me so long to pick up the book for my shelf. Needless to say, it was the right decision.

A collection of stories based in the hills, the book seems to be semi-autobiographical in nature (Mr. Bond grew up in the hills). I love the hills too, more than beaches (beaches be blah, no offence). And when I was reading the book, it was about 40 degrees C in my city. So, it gave me a respite, an escape from the scorching sun. Although virtually. But who’s complaining?

A short book, it is not a short read. You have to read each word, turn each page slowly so that you can absorb everything, including the witty lines, the characters and even the smell of conical trees that grow in abundance in the hills.

Once you read the book (or any other Ruskin Bond book for that matter), you’ll know why reading a Ruskin Bond book is something you’d want your kids to do before they grow up. The book belongs to another era and ‘gen-tech’ may not exactly be able to relate to it. But it is a book that should definitely be on their bookshelves.

As opposed to the name though, there is nothing dark about the book. It simply contains stories, anecdotal in nature, which will never lose their charm.

It shouldn’t take you long to grab a copy. 🙂

Author Interview: Mark Binmore

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You have published short stories, prose collections and novels. Which of these was most difficult for you to write and why?

 With short stories you are giving yourself such a brief window and in that condensed outlet you want to engage the reader as much as you can.  A few years ago I wrote a collection called Jig Of Life (it was published in the USA as The J) and I used a unique formula of writing a longer story and then cutting it down, editing out what I felt wasn’t needed for a shorter version.  It was like expanding a 7” single in reverse.

 Your fictional biography “Now Is Not The Time For Trumpets” seems very interesting. How did you conceptualize it? How different was it from the usual biographies?

 I have actually just found the original first draft which was so different and was a kind-of whodunit Agatha Christie type yarn.  The idea was to write a fictional biography of someone that never existed, but could have against a backdrop which did exist.  It is different from the perspective that it alternates between modern day and the past, questions, answers and a glimpse into the past.  You discover what people made this person, the love, the heartaches, the success and failures.  When I was writing I could actually visualize the main character.  I could see him as he was in his youth, golden hair, flamboyant, beautiful but also how he was in old age which in retrospective was quite haunting and sad.  The book worked well and from that I picked one character to write a further book – A Life Of Parties – and both books are now being workshoped in America for a stage adaptation.  They are taking the characters and some dialogue and recreating something visual.

Tell us something about the books you are penning this year. Are you working on them simultaneously? 

 Two books are ready to be launched this winter as well as a book written by fellow writer Chris Henson which is about me.  Nemesis is what I believe is my goodbye to prose collection.  It’s a journey of arrangements, a chance to say goodbye to the past and move forward.  With every piece I have written briefly what it means but like anything they are open to interpretation.  Take Down The Flags has been a labour of love over the last two years.  It’s a set of stories all based on the ending of World War 11.  I spent time with many people who were around at that time listening to their stories and then re-interpreting them into mini stories with their permission.

Versus America is the book by Chris and is a kind of sequel to his book Tour De Europa.  Chris follows me on my 2016 American book tour and witnesses the parade, the parties, behind the scenes, the hotels, glamour and ultimate tedium of it all in a documented writing style. I am already working on books for next year and beyond.  One is called Beautiful Construction, a collection of diaries and the other HappySad, Stories From The City, focuses on love and consequences from the late 1970s in San Francisco. 

What does your writing schedule looks like, on an average? How would you describe your average day, which you spend writing?

I am quite disciplined when I write.  Usually coffee for breakfast then I will re-look at what I wrote the previous day, either edit that or start writing more.  I will usually write for a few hours uninterrupted and like to flit between two or maybe three pieces of work.  To break the day up I do go to the gym for a few hours, time out, music, just to be me really then a few more hours writing afterwards.  It can all change.  Last year I wrote a whole book in three whole days, it felt like I was never sleeping but I had this idea and out it came.

When and how did you first start writing?

I have always loved the idea of writing but as a child I loved the idea of writing utensils, the pens, pencils, paper, any form of stationary.  I am still the same.  I have always kept diaries which are useful when searching for names, situations and ideas.

How did you find your first publisher? Was it easy, difficult, did you face lots of rejections?

I guess I was very lucky.  I was introduced to my former editor via a friend.  We had lunch, we had drinks, we talked and she read a few pieces, a few weeks later contracts were signed.   Five years later we re-negotiated terms and I now have representation on both sides of the Atlantic as well as PR management who handle the bigger stuff.  But it hasn’t all been glamour and success.  I very nearly signed to another American agent but their contract wasn’t workable and I felt I was getting no assistance from their editing team so on the strength of my lawyers pulled out and various manuscripts were returned to me.  Two of these have since been published under a nom-de-plue and are doing really well.

Share some writing tips with our budding writers. 

If you are starting to write then simply a page a day, because after a year you will have written 365 pages, a book.

Keep a notebook with you all the time.  Write down ideas, overheard conversations, and names you hear, if on a bus or train write down titles, ideas, characters, anything.  These little notes may come in handy later on.

Forget about agents, PR, publicity, sales etc.  Just focus on your own writing rather than worrying how many copies they will shift.


Excerpt: This piece from Take Down The Flags is called Observations.

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Anton is here, talking for the hundredth time about what he did during the war, about “how life’s an endless pit of chaos, but every now and then it all makes sense, and that’s what makes life worth living, you know?” and Simone is telling him, “It’s already been done.”

 

It’s Wednesday so Jo and Sarah are here – playing the same songs– he’s playing the piano and she’s drunk on her voice and soon their composition will be careless and sloppy and they’ll leave as lovers and whoever is scheduled next, probably me, will be too drunk to perform, so someone will get up and sing the anthem of France. And there’s Alice, sitting by the piano again, that instrument she pretends to know how to play, wearing red high heels and matching lipstick, disguising her writer’s block and making herself available enough for another cheap story that will probably be published the same day she writes it. She thinks we don’t know what she did, but we do, we’re just biding our time, her day will come.

 

Michael’s stood at the bar, rolling his own cigarettes, wearing that goddamn hat again like he’s some kind of Hemingway in a Parisian café. And Esmeralda’s pouring my drinks and I must say she’s damn good at her “transient position” and my disowned intemperance will miss her if she ever does make it back home.  Here comes Olivia, being the ridiculously beautiful woman she is, dressed for a Gatsby party, ignoring Michael, asking Charlie how his story is coming along, speaking Spanish to Esmeralda.

 

She’s pretending that she’s got somewhere better to go next. Pierre and Allen stumbled in behind her, drunk and obscene as usual. They’ve read so much propaganda lately that now they’re convinced nothing matters, not even the fact that they are wanted men. Take a moment, look at all these people, all these beautiful fools with their talents and critiques and theories and philosophies and hang-ups and memories. It’s like the past few years never happened; they have forgotten what really happened, what real life was like.  And I have to witness all of it. But really, who am I to judge? I’m just some two faced liar, thief, and drunk, sitting at the bar and scribbling about their lives on damp used napkins. I’m swaying on my bar stool, feeling all warm inside, and in such a state to choose my own reality, we’re no different from one another.

 

We’re just a bunch of worried, hopeless, starving artists and writers and musicians that come to this wine bar for the exact same goddamn reason.

 

Because now we can.

 

 

The Reading Update – July-August

  1. Maus 2 – Arthur Spiegelman
  2. House Rules – Jodi Picoult
  3. When Darkness Falls and Other Stories – Ruskin Bond
  4. The Room on the Roof – Ruskin Bond
  5. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Hello there!

We meet again. The current month and the previous are very hectic for me. I barely get time to sleep, let alone blog. This is because I am learning a new language! Nevertheless, I managed to squeeze some time for the most awaited book of the year – the 8th installment in the HP series.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts! Cheers.

 

 

Reader’s Nook: QA with Kimsiang

Image Source: Flickr.com

Image Source: Flickr.com

Kimsiang is all of 15 years and dreams big already! She aspires to be a fashion designer, travel the world and of course, read as many books as she can! She blogs at The Spines Breaker. Show her some love, will you?! 🙂 Here’s what she has to say.

 


Most favourite books/series
HP: Like of course ;D
Throne of Glass: It’s my new obsession. I never thought I would pick up the first book even but to these days I have been nagging everyone around me to pick it up!
The selection: I’m a real sucker about royalties, prices and princesses. I know many people didn’t really like this series because the MC is annoying and I agree to that point, but I read this book solely because of the love story and it was amazing!
The Lunar Chronicles: This series has come to a close recently and I can’t stop fangirling. This series have one of the most amazing set of characters that I can’t help but love.
Anna and the French Kiss (and the other companion novels): It’s one of the first books that got me into the YA community and as cheesy as they were, I love each and everyone of them with all my heart! My favourite tho is Lola & Cricket’s story.
A book that you’ve reread the most
Anna and the French Kiss (about 5 times) 😉 Told ya I love it
Favourite authors and why
I haven’t read anything else by J K Rowling (or Rovert Galbraith) other than HP, but I’m gonna go with her anyway, because she is amazing and a genius. Also Morgan Matson and Stephanie Perkins, the queens of contemporary. Also Sarah.J.Maas!
Genre you dislike
Non-fiction, I find it too boring.
Character Crush
  • Etienne St.Clair
  • Cricket Bell
  • Dorian Havilliard
  • Maxon Schreave

and more…XD

What is your ideal reading space/environment
my bed is my small comfortable nook and also cafe but can’t have too many people :-/