Cover Reveal – White Night

Better late than never – a cover reveal of White Night!

In keeping with the theme of other YA novels at the moment, the cover of White Night by Ellie Marney is quite abstract. Think Our Chemical Hearts and The Build-Up Season. It’s good, because it doesn’t give too much away about the story. Now I just have to remember not to look at the synopsis. This looks like a great addition to the YA stable.

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Review: Nick Lake – Whisper to Me

Whisper to Me
Nick Lake

Cass hears a voice. Just one, but that one tells her to hurt herself and not talk to other people, otherwise it will cause her dad to die. This causes her to hurt a boy she likes, so she writes him an incredibly long letter (email) in the form of this novel.

Sigh. I knew this novel wasn’t much chop from the very beginning. But a friend had said it was the best she had read while borrowing from my (limited) library. So I thought, ok, I’ll try it. It was the first couple of pages that put me off, honestly I’m not much of a list person, particularly in fiction novels. It better be useful, like in the start of me and you, but no, this one continued throughout the novel and it wasn’t useful.

There was no conclusion to that ending, and honestly, I was sick of it. I finished it, but that was it. Just a long email of apologising. Also, spoiler alert, no conclusion to the bad guys either. I’m not unwilling to read something else by this author, the writing style was engaging and I liked Cass’ characterisation well enough. But there was no resolution, and honestly the storyline was rambling (I know, I know, it’s the writing style of a teenager apologizing… over and over again).

I’m not even sure I can accept it for the mental illness content. Suggesting that ‘talk therapy’ can overcome hearing voices (even just the one voice Cass hears) is dangerous. As Cass finds out, when she stops taking her medication abruptly her self-preservation instincts go out the window. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been all that upset if she had died. Actually, that might have added some of the excitement I didn’t feel about Paris. Too much foreshadowing for so little actual action.

I do not recommend this novel. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on it. I’d love to just give it 1 star, but I did at least finish it. So 2 stars it will have to be. I held out for hope of an ending, and nope, nothing there to redeem it.

Bloomsbury | 3rd May 2016 | paperback

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Spotlight with Simon J Morley

Please welcome Simon J Morley! His series, The Universe Wide Web, sounds like a worthy addition to sci-fi adventure fiction. Here’s a very quick Spotlight from him about his work.

I came up with the idea of The Universe Wide Web whilst idly playing with Google Maps. There I was, taking a virtual wander along Broadway in New York, from the comfort of my home in England, when the idea hit me…what if there was an internet for the whole universe? A way of connecting to other beings all over the universe. And what if this universe wide web let you not just see faraway places at the click of a button, but to travel there, instantaneously – an intergalactic internet.

A story started to form. The hero would have to be young, the young adopt technology so much better than adults; I decided it would be a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, like my own son. And the story, much like all the best children’s fiction – I was thinking of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – would give our hero access to a fantastical, magical world from the corner of his bedroom (isn’t that what games consoles and laptops do anyway). Sure, the Universe Wide Web isn’t magical, its technological – but, as with magic, with technology, anything can happen.

So where is the Universe Wide Web? Well, like the internet, it’s sort of everywhere, and who knows where. The internet is in the cloud isn’t it – sort of? The Universe Wide Web, on the other hand, is in the aether; up there somewhere in outer space. What a setting to grow my story in…an entire universe.

So, I have a setting, now for the characters. Once you’ve made the intergalactic step of logging on to the Universe Wide Web, who can you expect to meet out there? There’d be aliens, of course – so limitless character possibilities perhaps? But are intelligent online aliens really going to be that much different to us? Though, do you always know what type of person you’ve just encountered on the net? My guess is going on the Universe Wide Web would be much like going on to the internet here; you’d just meet ordinary, everyday beings – except, as we know, nobody is ordinary close-up. Beware!

The Universe Wide Web series has grown to become four fast paced adventure stories: 1. Getting Started, 2. Uploading, 3. Profile Settings, 4. Parental Guidance.

So, keep up with technology and log on to the Universe Wide Web; just one click and you can be with anyone, anywhere in the universe.

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Spotlight with Andrew Joyce

Please welcome back Andrew Joyce! I have worked with Andrew before to promote his novel Yellow Hair and interview him. His newest novel, Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is sure to take the fancy of some readers! I know I love to read at bedtime.

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce. I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. It came about because my editor hounded me for two years to put all my short stories into one collection. Actually, it was supposed to be a two-volume set because there was so much material. I fended her off for as long as possible. I didn’t want to do the work of editing all the stories. There were a lot of them. But she finally wore me down. Instead of two volumes, I put all the stories into a single book because I wanted to get the whole thing over with. I had other books to write.

Bedtime Stories is made up of fiction and nonfiction stories and some of ’em are about my criminal youth. I must tell you, I never thought any of these stories would see the light of day. I wrote them for myself and then forgot about them. By the way, there are all sorts of genres within its pages, from westerns to detective stories to love stories and just about anything else that you can imagine.

There are a whole lotta stories in the book—700 pages worth. Enough to keep you reading for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, here’s one of the shorter stories from the book.

Treasure

He stumbled upon the treasure quite by accident. He was exploring the vicinity when he happened upon it. His first thought was, This cannot be real. He cautiously approached it. Someone might be playing a trick on him. Maybe he was being observed. But no one sprung from a concealed location—no one yelled for him to halt his advance. It seemed safe to move forward. When he arrived at the treasure, he bent down to touch it, just to make sure it was real. After one touch, he fled to better-known and safer environs.

That night he could not sleep for thinking of what he had discovered. He thought and thought of ways he could explain it to members of his tribe. If he suddenly showed up with the treasure, anything he said would be suspect. One does not find treasure of this sort every day. No, he would have to think this through.

The next day he went back to where he had found the treasure, but dared not get too close. Instead, he peered at it from a distance. It was still there and untouched. But for how long would it stay undiscovered? A fire burned within him to possess it. If not for the taboo placed on matters of this sort by the Law Giver, he would claim the treasure as his own. But no, the Law Giver would never allow it.

As he tried to sleep on the second night after his discovery, he thought perhaps the Law Giver would understand. Perhaps he should approach her, and tell her of his find. No! If she forbade him from keeping the treasure, it would be lost forever. Conceivably, he could bring it to his village and hide it from the Law Giver. But … where could he hide it? The Law Giver was all-wise; she knew the secrets of his heart.

Quite unexpectedly, he overheard the Law Giver speaking of the place he had found the treasure. This is what he heard: “When they moved out, they told me they left a few things behind, and if we wanted anything, we were welcome to it. I’ve been too busy to go over there, but I think I’ll take a look this afternoon. Maybe there will be something Billy might like.”

 

Something I might like. Something I might like! Was she toying with him? Did she indeed know of the treasure? Later that afternoon, his mother called Billy to the front of the house. He was not allowed far from home because he was only five years old, so he appeared right away. His mother said, “Look what I found next door where the Simms used to live.” And there it was—the treasure!

His mother handed little Billy the bright red toy fire truck that had caused him to lose so much sleep. You see, Billy had been afraid his mother would think he had stolen it, even though it seemed to have been abandoned. And in his home, stealing was the one thing his mother, the Law Giver, would never tolerate.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

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Interview with Sue Bentley

An Interview with Sue Bently, author of We Other

Tell me a bit about your writing history so far.

A personal favourite from my other published works – it’s difficult to choose a favourite as I also write sparkly books about magic animals for kids. Very different, to We Other! But if I had to choose a title – it would be A Summer Spell, the first title of this series of books for ages 5-9 years, also written as Sue Bentley.

My first novel – well there were a few turkeys! But I learned a lot from the mistakes made when writing them. I had high hopes for Mooncaste, an historical novel inspired by an iron-age, hill-fort close to where I live. I hand wrote it in three notebook. It was never published, but I did get an agent on the back of that book.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I work best when writing to commission. A dead-line is wonderfully motivating. My children’s series were written in concentrated bursts of energy, but each book was quite short. I haven’t been commissioned by a publisher for a while. The publishing world has changed a lot. We Other was a much bigger undertaking. It’s a complex novel, aimed at an older readership. I did a lot of research before beginning to write, made notes about the main characters, and wrote a detailed plot outline. I find it works for me to live with characters for a while before diving in – maybe for a few months. But when the urge to write is too strong, I’ll begin. It would be easy to be seduced by doing research, which I love, but I have to force myself to call a halt. We Other probably took around 3 years to write, all told.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I’m lucky enough to have a room of my own, where most of the writing is done. I write directly onto my desktop. I scribble notes on bits of paper, which pile up on my desk. I also take notebooks and research books with me to cafes and sit writing in longhand, which I type up later. I like writing with a pencil. There’s something about the way ideas flow, but I couldn’t write entirely in long-hand. I’m a perfectionist and do a lot of re-writing as I go along, so any piece of paper would soon be unreadable with all the crossings-out and notes in the margins.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have close writing friends who will read and comment on work in progress. I do the same for them. Over time I’ve developed a good instinct for when a passage is working. I also know when it isn’t right and will re-write as many times as I need to, before finishing a first draft. There are usually cuts and more edits to make before I finally show it to my agent or publisher. And then more to do when working with an editor.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I’ve always loved everything about books, their smell and feel. Opening a new book is such a pleasure – better than a box of chocolates. I enjoy browsing bookshops – especially small independents. Haye-on-Wye, a small town in Herefordshire, is my favourite place to go as it’s full of bookshops, cafes, and vintage shops. But I also enjoy browsing larger bookshops like Waterstones and Foyles. I buy books online too, and can’t resist looking at the shelves in charity shops. I’m also a regular user of my local public library. I’m never without a book in my bag.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from your different life stages?

Historical. I started with these, as I enjoy being lifted out of the every day. But I also like fantasy, magic-realism, gritty dark fairy fiction, gothic and dystopian fiction. I enjoy crime now and then. A good psychological thriller with a fantasy or historical setting can be good. From childhood, I enjoyed traditional fairy tales, some sword and sorcery stuff, anything unusual. The works of BB. A local author who wrote some fabulous books about the last gnomes left in England, rich with details of the natural world, made a huge impression on me as a child. As did Jane Gaskell and Michael Moorcock, when I was growing up. I’ve been inspired by Diana Norman, Tanith Lee and latterly Teri Windling, Holly Black, Stef Penney, Carol Birch, and so many others.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

Social Media is a mixed blessing. For authors it’s a great way of bringing your work to the attention of readers and it’s great to keep in touch with other writers and friends. Writing is a solitary craft, which is fine most of the time as I’m comfortable in my own company. I sometimes use social media for research, but it’s easy to become distracted, when you ought to be working. At the moment I manage my own profile, which can be very time consuming. I try to limit posting on FB, Twitter and Goodreads to the evenings, but don’t always succeed. Two or Three hours can go by without me noticing. I’m presently about to have a major overhaul of my website and I’ll then write a regular blog. I’m constantly learning how to make the best use of social media.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

This Q and A session – the questions were interesting and stimulating – thanks Rosemarie! Yes it takes a while to answer all of them. Makes you think hard – which is no bad thing. Was I tempted to recycle my answers from one interview to the next? Yes and no. Yes – because it would have been less work and some of my answers may have been of interest to readers. No – because it’s a privilege to be asked to contribute to a blog and I’m grateful for the opportunity and the time you’ve taken with this. The least I can do is try to be honest and provide full answers. I hope your readers will enjoy reading this interview. It’s been a pleasure.

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Interview with David Meredith

An Interview with David Meredith

I’m going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite? 

Actually I’d say my favorite is one I haven’t published yet. It was one I started WAY back in 2004 that is mostly complete.  It is a fantasy series based upon Japanese myth, legend, and folklore, rather than the European model that is so prevalent in fantasy literature today. Originally it was a 406,000 word behemoth, but I’ve edited it down to three volumes that are between 95,000 and 120,000 words each. It’s still kind of my baby, so I’ve been holding back on publishing, but I think that time is coming. I wrote most of it while I was living in Japan. It is based on many of my experiences there and borrows heavily from the mythology and folklore of Northern Japan where I spent the bulk of my time. It is probably the one thing I’ve written that is the most personal to me so I’ve been reluctant to release it until I’m sure it’s perfect.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Well, I definitely had several false starts, (I think I got 50+ pages into four separate novels before abandoning them for various reasons) and those are probably well and deservedly dead, but they were all extremely important in helping me develop as a writer, especially in terms of learning what didn’t work. However, the piece I mentioned before was the first novel that I actually finished.  It has gone through countless rewrites and now 13 years after starting it, I think I finally have the writing chops to realize my original vision in a way that other people will actually want to read and the knowledge as an Indy writer to promote it the way it deserves. It will definitely be published at some point. It’s just a question of when.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I probably could, but I don’t think I’d be very happy with the final result. I easily take at least twice as long editing and revising my completed work as I do writing the initial draft. Maybe others are different, but I really need to see that complete final vision to truly understand where it’s working where it’s not and how to tighten it up. I don’t really let ideas percolate, per se. I do however, try to get new ideas down as soon and as quickly as I can, but I don’t like to release until I’m sure a piece is as solid and tight as it can possibly be.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Especially since I just finished my doctorate degree, I’ve been pretty busy. I usually work on my laptop whenever and wherever I have a couple of free minutes. Home, office, coffee shop, kids’ sports practice, even parked in the car! I can’t afford to be fussy if I want to get anything done.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I impose often on talented friends and family. My wife is my first proof reader, and she offers a lot of valuable insight. Other friends also offer their two cents, but recently I’ve started doing Beta-Trades through Goodreads. I Beta-read theirs. They do mine, and that has been an enriching experience so far. I infinitely prefer Beta-Trades to review swaps, which I really don’t like doing. In trading reviews I always feel compelled to spin a book as positively as possible or risk hurting someone’s feelings. Telling someone their completed masterpiece is awful never feels good. With Beta-Trades on the other hand, I feel like I’m offering valuable constructive criticism that will hopefully make the final product better.  I have a great deal more freedom to be honest, and feel much better about myself in the end as well. Then of course, the feedback I receive is extremely valuable too.  It has been a great way to get a number of diverse perspectives on my work, and see things in a way I might otherwise not have.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

The smell of my dad’s office growing up is a foundational memory for me, so I understand what you mean. I do like physical books. Given the choice, I honestly prefer them, but as time has gone by I find myself reading more and more electronically. My favorite shop though is actually a used book store named McKay’s. They have several outlets here in Tennessee and are all opened in old warehouse buildings stacked floor to ceiling with used books. It definitely has the smell you’re talking about.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

I read mostly fantasy for my own entertainment though I have branched out some in recent years. It’s still my strongest inclination and preference. In terms of my own writing, so far all of my fiction work has had some kind of fantastical element to it. I really enjoy the freedom that speculative fiction offers. Most of my reading lately has been required course material for my doctoral program, but some of my favorite authors are Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robin Hobb. I also like work by Robert Jordan, Liza Dolby, and James Clavell. I still reread Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy every couple of years.

  1. childhood? Dr. Suess – Wacky Wednesday (I wore that book out) and the Winnie the Pooh stories by A.A. Milne. I also spent a lot of time at Number 32 Windsor Gardens J.
  2. adolescence? I read A LOT of Dragon Lance and Forgotten Realms novels.
  3. young adult? LOTR by J.R.R. Tolkien and the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy by Tad Williams
  4. adult? I really liked Shogun by James Clavell and The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby. They helped me make sense of the Japanese people and culture I found myself immersed in for nearly a decade. Both are great stories, but even better resources for getting into the nuts and bolts of the Japanese psyche in a way that is easy for westerners to understand.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I was not a natural in terms of using social media to promote my writing. I still struggle with it honestly, but make regular use of Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads in particular. It is admittedly however, an area where I still have a lot of room to grow.

If you manage your own profile, please tell me as much as you are comfortable with in regards to your preferred platform and an estimate of time you spend doing it.

After a book is released I easily spent two or three hours or more a day sending review requests (I use Twitter heavily for finding book review sites), working on my Facebook writer page and monitoring sales and promotions. I easily spend as much time and effort on online promotion as I do actually writing the book if not more. I’ve gotten to where I have accepted it as a necessary evil, but I enjoy working on the promoted pieces themselves much more than their promotion.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Maybe, “what do you want Aaru to accomplish? What do you want people to get out of it?”

Aaru is first and foremost an entertaining and emotional YA/NA SyFy/Fantasy novel. It is at its core a story about the love of two sisters, and how they struggle to cope as the paradigms of what they’ve always been taught is true and good is challenged and shifted in a monumental way. However, Aaru also explores a number of what I think are fundamentally human questions: What happens when religion and faith conflict with technology and science? Is there a way to reconcile the two? What constitutes a human being or human soul? What would happen to religion and faith if the fear of death was removed from society? How would that change the way individuals choose to live their lives? In a world where people in power can essentially choose who is and is not saved, how should that determination be made? Who should be saved? Is the act of choosing winners and losers, judging who is righteous and worthy vs. who is not in and of itself even moral at all? I suspected that the answers would be a lot messier and more complicated than the utopian realization of John Lennon’s Imagine lyrics and lead to a great deal of conflict as people try to hash it all out. In the end, Aaru doesn’t really answer any of these questions, nor is it intended to, but it does speculate on what the answers of different people from different circumstances and indeed society at large might be. What I want people to get out of Aaru is an intensely emotional experience that stimulates some productive introspection even as they enjoy it as a compelling story about the fierce love of two sisters that transcends even death.

And as to the other question… Sometimes… J

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Interview with Theodore Ficklestein

An Interview with Theodore Ficklestein, author of A Day in the Life

Theodore Ficklestein is an author, blogger and poet. His books include This Book Needs A Title Volumes 1 and 2 and I Killed the Man Who Wrote This Book. His first novel Day In The Life will be published by Gen Z Publishing in 2017. His multiple blogs include This Blog Needs Sports, This Blog Needs Poetry and This Blog Needs Movies.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I have actually been able to produce content out on a regular basis. I self-published my first book in 2013 and have written three books since then, so I am on pace to write a book a year. The only thing that stops me from writing books at a faster pace is focus on my writing elsewhere, like a blog or social media.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I write in my office and I always write in pen. I try not to put my first draft in digital form. I remember a teacher saying how people are more elaborate in their writing when they actually write it. I tried to type some posts on one of my blogs and felt that there is something to writing it out first. I’m interested if there is a major difference when people write in script compared to print, since script is out of style for most people. I will say that my one requirement when I write is silence. I don’t like to write with music on or while watching tv.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I don’t use beta readers. I have a few family members that I pitch my ideas to in order to get a readers take on it, even then I only summarize the work. The most I give them is the synopsis of the work and see how they respond to it. I never have anyone besides the editor manually look it over. I’m not really crazy about people (who are not the editor) criticizing my work before it is released. People will do that anyway, so I might as well stay as close to my original story as I can.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I have a Barnes and Noble by me that I love to go to. When I visit I normally have an idea on when I want to go because there is a book that I am looking for, but I still go to the literature fiction section to browse afterwards.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from your different life stages?

I like the classics. I find an author and try to read all of their work. If I have not read any of the author, I cover their main stuff first. I like reading the unknown from the classic writers. That is where it is fun for me as a reader and I learn of stories that sometimes the writer never even intended on publishing.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I manage the content I put up on all my social media accounts. I have found a company that helps with finding suitable followers for one of those accounts. I try to put out enough so people know I am doing something, but not too much where it takes too much of my time. It is a balancing act.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Perhaps something about where literature is going or a silly question, like if I could go to outer space with any author who would it be? I am tempted to copy and paste some of my answers for interviews, but I answer them honestly and if a bunch of interviewers ask the same question, I give them all the same answer because that is the only answer. For example, a lot of interviewers ask about my reading habits and I tell them all the same answer, classics, because that is what is in my library right now.

A post through Roger Charlie Book Promotions.

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Review: Danielle Rollins – Breaking

Breaking
Danielle Rollins

Charlotte’s been at Boarding school for a long time, but she never seems to fit in. She’s surrounded by pretty people, pretty people who also happen to be super smart. Charlotte’s boring compared to her two awesome best friends – but they’ve committed suicide, and she hasn’t. Can Charlotte gain a bit of a spine and find out the answers?

Oh man, oh man. I thought I had made notes on this novel and how AWESOME it was. But apparently not, and now I’m faced with a blank text editing box. Not very inspiring. I liked Charlotte and her ‘humanity’, despite her calling herself boring. Nothing’s boring about someone who is soooo totally average! There’s always that sneaky thing she only hints about…  Just reading it was lovely and gripping, and the ending did not disappoint.

Others reviewers have mentioned that the flippant references to suicide put them off giving this novel full stars. Personally, I knew the whole time that there was something else going on, and that there was no way that Charlotte’s best friends had done that. Also, there are some tropes of the same kind – you know, character thinks that she is the most boring person ever, all of the girls only want ONE fabulous guy, everyone is jealous of everyone else – but honestly?

I’m liking the themes at the moment towards products and potions that can make people instantly beautiful. Think Charisma and another book I read a while ago that I can’t currently remember the name of. Makeup has been such a big part of most women’s lives and conforming to the norms. But what happens when everyone is pretty? That’s what I’d like to see played out next.

For this novel, I didn’t realise until somewhere near the end that it could be considered a prequel to Burning. But there is no need to read this one first, or indeed both of them (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to read them both!). I read Burning about a year ago now on vacation! I read Breaking just before I went. I guess now I’m going to be expecting to have a Rollins’ masterpiece before every vacation!

Bloomsbury | 1 September 2017 | AU$15.99 | paperback

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Review: Allison Rushby – The Fifth Room

The Fifth Room
Allison Rushby

Self-experimentation is the only way to get results… Or at least that’s what an international secret society of Doctors believes. Brilliant highschoolers are invited to take part in this self-experimentation, and are pitted against each other to win a prize of continuing their research. But its a challenge, they’re all brilliant, but how many of them are willing to go to the end?

Oh my! This book was amazing! I gobbled it so greedily, and then neglected to review it. But just sitting here writing this review is making me want to re-read it, that’s how good it was. Uh oh, it’s within reach, I might actually reread it now….

Is this a psychological thriller? I don’t know, but it had me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t scared for myself at any point, and I wasn’t jumpy, so I’m not sure it’s a thriller. Nevertheless, I couldn’t put it down!

I know they set it up for a sequel, but I don’t care! It was amazing! The ending was just what I wanted. I didn’t really see it coming, and I found the final reveal to be entirely keeping with what we knew of Miri’s character. I don’t agree with all of her actions, but she’s certainly a believable character.

I’m giving this novel 5 stars, and strongly recommending you go and get yourself a copy. As we approach Christmas (it’s after my birthday, I can start mentioning it now), this would be the perfect gift for the aspiring high-school doctor (or undergraduate student) or teens in favour of thrillers with captivating storylines.

Scholastic | 1 September 2017 | AU$16.99 | paperback

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Review: Nicole Lara – Bullet It!: A Notebook for Planning Your Days, Chronicling Your Life, and Creating Beauty

Bullet It!: A Notebook for Planning Your Days, Chronicling Your Life, and Creating Beauty
Nicole Lara

“Dotted grids, handwritten fonts, and fun doodle tutorials make this more than just an organizing notebook. It’s an artistic keepsake for your life. And perforated pages make it easy to remove your favorite pages and display them in your home.”

I can’t tell you anything about the quality of this journal. I have a feeling that most hard-core Bulletters would look down their noses at this book, because it has guidelines to help you think of creative ways to present things. Additionally, those perforated pages are a temptation to remove things you shouldn’t remove! If a journal is about being honest, then having an easy way to rip out pages is not the way to go.

I found this to be a good gift to give to someone I didn’t know anything about. If they were already a Bullet Journaller, then they might appreciate having a new one to test out. Or if they weren’t, they could be tempted! I think I’d firmly recommend this as a suitable Christmas gift for those people who are hard to buy for. At the very least, they can use it to make grocery lists and rip out the pages!

I’m not sure how I feel about ‘Bulletting’ in general. Honestly, before I received How to Bullet Plan, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to pay good money to buy a journal full of dots. Now I can see the allure. Ok, mine wouldn’t look pretty, but ever since I started tracking a couple of goals, I would like to try out the practicality of it. I’m a serial list maker, and it could be cool. Stay tuned to see whether I take it up.

Pan Macmillan | 12 September 2017 | AU$19.99 | Paperback

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