Friday, 19 September 2014

Alice Hoffman is coming to an E-Reader near you

Celebrate Alice Hoffman

Today, eight of Alice Hoffman’s first novels will be available for the first time on ebook, including New York Times and national bestseller, Seventh Heaven. One of the most prolific American authors of magical realism and contemporary literary fiction, Hoffman’s works have none-the-less found readers in all genres who connect with her deeply moving stories about relationships, family, identity, and survival.


Commemorate classic works by Alice Hoffman

September 23rd will be an exciting day for readers everywhere. The release of these novels is an opportunity to celebrate one of the most influential authors of the 21st century, and share in the imaginative vision and powerful prose of Alice Hoffman.

What you can do:

v Share this video, featuring Alice Hoffman discuss the transformative power of imagination and how it influences her fiction.
v Review her free egalley copies of her novels, Property Of and Seventh Heaven, now available exclusively on NetGalley.
v Write about your first experience with the author, or invite your readers to tell you about the first Alice Hoffman novel they read.


About Seventh Heaven and Property Of


A bestselling novel of suburban daydreams and the magic of one woman who makes her own way in the world 

On Hemlock Street, the houses are identical, the lawns tidy, and the families traditional. A perfect slice of suburbia, this Long Island community shows no signs of change as the 1950s draw to a close—until the fateful August morning when Nora Silk arrives.

Recently divorced, Nora mows the lawn in slingback pumps and climbs her roof in the middle of the night to clean the gutters. She works three jobs, and when her casseroles don’t turn out, she feeds her two boys—eight-year-old Billy and his baby brother, James—Frosted Flakes for supper. She wears black stretch pants instead of Bermuda shorts, owns twenty-three shades of nail polish, and sings along to Elvis like a schoolgirl.

Though Nora is eager to fit in on Hemlock Street, her effect on the neighbors is anything but normal. The wives distrust her, the husbands desire her, and the children think she’s a witch. But through Nora’s eyes, the neighborhood appears far from perfect. Behind every neatly trimmed hedge and freshly painted shutter is a family struggling to solve its own unique mysteries. Inspired by Nora, the residents of Hemlock Street finally unlock the secrets that will transform their lives forever.

A tale of extraordinary discoveries, Seventh Heaven is an ode to a single mother’s heroic journey and a celebration of the courage it takes to change.


The mesmerizing debut of a major American writer

On the Night of the Wolf, the Orphans drive south on the Avenue, hunting their rival gang, the Pack. In the lead is McKay, their brooding, courageous President. Left waiting at the clubhouse is the Property of the Orphans, tough girls in mascara and leather who have declared their allegiance to the crew. Tonight, a new girl has joined their ranks. She waits only for McKay.

Drag races, dope, knife fights in the street. To the seventeen-year-old heroine of Alice Hoffman’s stunning first novel, the gritty world of the Avenue is beautiful and enthralling. But her love for McKay is an addiction—one that is never satisfied and is impossible to kick. Deeper and deeper she falls, until the winter’s day when she decides to break the spell once and for all.

A strikingly original story about the razor-thin line between love and loss, Property Of showcases the vivid imagery, lyricism, and emotional complexity that are the hallmarks of Alice Hoffman’s extraordinary career.


Alice Hoffman Quotes

"Magic in fiction is a long tradition. One of the reasons we like fables and fairy tales is that they’re emotionally true, and page-turners at the same time."
“Shut up and do not think. All the theorists agree: shut up and keep the words from being said. And all of the scars will remain invisible; and all of the scars will remain under the skin. Where they belong.” Property Of

“Sometimes the right thing feels all wrong until it is over and done with.” 
― 
Practical Magic

“You build your world around someone, and then what happens when he disappears? Where do you go- into pieces, into atoms, into the arms of another man? You go shopping, you cook dinner, you work odd hours, you make love to someone else on June nights. But you're not really there, you're someplace else where there is blue sky and a road you don't recognize.” —Here on Earth



Reviewers on Alice Hoffman’s work

“Alice Hoffman hits bull’s-eyes on the incomprehensions between the young and the old, on the magic and pain of ordinary life. She is erotic and romantic . . . funny . . . clever and humane.” —The Times (London)

“With her glorious prose and extraordinary eye . . . Alice Hoffman seems to know what it means to be a human being.” —Susan Isaacs

“A remarkably envisioned novel, almost mythic in its cadences, hypnotic . . . The imagining is true, the writing lovely.” —The New York Times

“Showing the magic that lies below the surface of everyday life is just what we hope for in a satisfying novel, and that’s what Ms. Hoffman gives us every time.” —The Baltimore Sun
“One of the best writers we have today—insightful, funny, intelligent, with a distinctive voice.” —The Plain Dealer

“Miss Hoffman heals wounds with the gentle touch of an angel.” —Joseph Heller

“Hoffman is operating in Kafka’s realm, in the territory of I.B. Singer, and of Tolstoy’s folk tales. . . . She has tapped some timeless quality of human experience.” —Newsday

“A reader is in good hands with Alice Hoffman, able to count on many pleasures. She is one of our quirkiest and most interesting novelists.” —Jane Smiley

“Alice Hoffman is the American Brontë.” —Michael Malone

“Haunting . . . Alice Hoffman is a daring and able writer.” —The New Yorker

“Like Anne Tyler, Hoffman spins a story enchantingly, with the undeniable force and vividness of a dream, and a dream’s own logic.” —Ms. Magazine

Review: 'Age of Iron' by Angus Watson

Age of IronI am absolutely thrilled to be today's stop on the blog tour for Angus Watson's Age of Iron, which was released on the 2nd of September. There is always a danger when books are compared to contemporary tv shows (Game of Thrones in this case) that they are an inevitable let down because they're not as rich or as visual as the show is. Thankfully that wasn't the case with Age of Iron and I really enjoyed it. Many thanks to Orbit for sending me a copy of the book for this review.
Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the biggest epic fantasy debut release of 2014.
LEGENDS AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE FORGED.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar's army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people. 
First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar's most fearsome warriors, who's vowed revenge on the king for her sister's execution. 
Now Dug's on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join ­- and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that's going to get them all killed . . .
It's a glorious day to die
I am currently studying to become a Medievalist and I can't count the amount of times that people have thought that the inhabitants of Britain still lived in caves during the Iron Age. Instead of continuing this ignorance, Watson's story is ultimately human and neglects many of the stereotypes that unfortunately cloud many fantasy/historical fiction novels, especially regarding women when in fact women enjoyed a lot of rights before Christianity came to Europe. My favourite character in Age of Iron was therefore probably Lowa. She is strong, emotional, full of action, sexual and her position within the novel is never questioned. Watson writes her as a key character who drives the plot. This might sound normal, but many novels and films actually suffer from strong female characters who are only there as guides. They are the ones who are clearly capable of great deeds and yet they have to stand aside for a male character to take up the spotlight they were more than capable of filling. Although Dug is arguably the main character in this book, Lowa has her own path and follows that. The same counts for most of the other characters, all of which had their own story lines which seemed to come together quite beautifully in the end.

Watson's writing is evocative and this is really what brings to life a landscape that is unfamiliar to many readers. Everyone has probably seen a Marie Antoinette movie or knows what Henry VIII was like, but what exactly would a castle from the Iron Age look like? Since there was hardly anything to base his story on, in the sense of historical evidence, Watson was given licence to invent freely and he does exactly that. His world-building is vivid and imaginative, without seeming ridiculous. He creates a scene landscape feels both familiar and yet different enough to tickle the reader's curiosity. He also deals very adequately with the tradition of Druidism, which is, too often, ridiculed. Even among Druids there are wise ones and ridiculous ones and Watson offers us everything. Although I am not quite convinced at the choice of names for the characters, I can't really suggest any ones which would have maybe been more accurate.

Clocking in at 560 pages, Age of Iron is a whopper. However, the pages flow by and the story sweeps you along. Although I needed the first chapter or two to settle into Watson's style and the story but then I was off and didn't really stop until I reached the end. The novel takes a lot of unexpected turns and the switching of narrators between chapters means the reader gets to see the story from a lot of different angle. Naturally back in the day they didn't have any way of staying up-to-date with their companions so the switching really helps to make sure the reader stays attached to all the different characters and it also does a lot to up the suspense.

I give this novel...

4 Universes!!!

I absolutely loved Age of Iron. I raced through the novel and didn't want to put it down. Each of the characters had something endearing which means that there is not a chapter that feels like a waste. I would recommend this to history fans and readers who are looking for a read with strong female characters.

Check out the rest of the blog tour on the poster further up! Age of Iron by Angus Watson (Orbit) is now available as a paperback and eBook (at AmazonBarnes & Nobles and many other places).

Friday Memes and 'Age of Iron' by Angus Watson

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowLast Friday before university starts again!! I can't believe it's my last year already, which is just waay too scary to think about because I don't want it to end. But let's get to the memes rather than lose ourselves in university nostalgia!

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question was submitted by Take Me Away...:

Blogger pet peeves? (Like when I've drafted an entire post, ready to publish it, and I see somewhere I've left out a html code... When I didn't even do my post in html)

I'm quite bad when it comes to html so sometimes I forget to remove the white background when I copy a blurb from Goodreads and I just hate seeing it on my blog because it clashes with the background! But my major pet peeve is actually something that is probably more my fault than anyone elses: how does one schedule a post? I still don't know!! Whenever I try to schedule a post, it simply doesn't get published and I come back after a day of work without anything having been posted!


Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and this week's question was suggested by Stephanie over at Books Are Cool:

How important is a book's cover to your overall impression of it?

That's a very good question! There is the famous saying 'Don't judge a book by its cover' and although it does make sense it doesn't ring quite true. I think a cover is an incredibly important part of the book because it often shows you which aspects of a book are considered important by its publisher. For example, in romance novels you always know what to expect because of the fainting women and the brooding, strong men on the cover. Also, if I don't like a cover I'm less likely to want to read it if it doesn't draw me in.

Age of IronThis week I'm using Age of Iron by Angus Watson for Book Beginning (Rose City Reader) and Friday 56 (Freda's Voice). I am today's blog tour stop for this book, so drop by my review here!
Bloodthirsty druids and battle-hardened Iron Age warriors collide in the biggest epic fantasy debut release of 2014.
LEGENDS AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE FORGED.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar's army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people. 
First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar's most fearsome warriors, who's vowed revenge on the king for her sister's execution. 
Now Dug's on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join ­- and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that's going to get them all killed . . .
It's a glorious day to die
BB:
'"Mind your spears, coming through!"Dug Sealskinner shouldered his way back through the ranks. Front rank was for young people who hadn't learned to fear battle and old men who thought they could compete with the young.' p.1
I really liked this beginning because it shows Dug's dry wit quite well, while also showing his sense of realism. The beginning did take me some time to get into the book, but after the first chapter or two, I was pretty much sold.

F56:
'Even in Maidun's army wanton murder was frowned upon. Unless it was Zadar's idea.' p.56
I just thought this was another great example of the humour in the book. It's almost morbid at times but it is also something that will make you laugh. And these two sentences already tell you quite a lot about the bad guys!


So, that was my Friday! Have you got any pet peeves? And do you care about covers?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week - Best Dumbledore Moment

I'm currently on my third day of full-time working after an exhausting weekend and I can feel my attention-span decreasing by the hour, as is my capability of being really enthusiastic. However, Harry Potter can always get my spirits up, so I am actually excited to get to it! Harry Potter Moment of the Week is hosted by Leah over at Uncorked Thoughts and this week we're picking:

Best 'Dumbledore Moment'!

Why are all these moments always so hard to pick? But I definitely think my favourite moment was when Dumbledore took on the Inferi in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! He had already drank all of that poisonous liquid (I have forgotten the name for it, in case it had a name) and he was clearly weak and then he still managed to save Harry and perform some of my favourite magic in the whole series!

Just look at that gif, doesn't it make you shudder? This scene is also helped by some amazing music of course, but the cinematography really made me love this moment. It was already amazing in the book, but it was bad ass in the movies! I even preferred it over the Dumble-Voldy fight in Order of the Phoenix which I definitely preferred in the books!

So, what's your favourite Dumbledore moment?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Spotlight: 'Moral Order: The Rise of Luca C. Mariner' by Phil Pauley

Moral Order: The Rise of Luca C. MarinerI'm honoured to  be part of the blog tour for the launch of Moral Order: The Rise of Luca C. Mariner by Phil Pauley, hosted by Authoright. This book sounds absolutely amazing and yesterday was its launch day!
Society has been ripped apart by environmental decay and the battle scars of progress. Solar storms, extreme weather, barbaric tribes and outcasts rule the planet. In the 22nd century, no one lasts in the Wilds for long. 
Shielded from this world, teenager Luca C. Mariner lives a privileged existence in one of the last remaining Megacities. Yet his tranquil life is about to be shattered as Luca and his friends are thrown into the brutal reality of the Wilds when Earth is attacked by a merciless alien alliance. Luca, fragile humanoid Ceiba and feisty Asia-Mae are catapulted into a thrilling adventure of intergalactic and deep sea mystery. They must battle against time and use their strength of friendship to become leaders of a new resistance. But is it too late to restore moral order across the universe and ultimately save humanity from imminent collapse?

Doesn't that sound really interesting? I really like the sound of how Pauley uses contemporary themes such as the environmental crisis as a base for his book. He was also kind enough to allow me to post a QA, but first, some info about him.

Phil Pauley
Phil is an internationally recognised conceptual designer and futurist. His innovative designs have been featured heavily on a number of high profile technology, lifestyle and popular science websites, blogs and news sites. Phil works developing innovative initiatives to tackle corporate, social and global issues. 


Website: http://www.philpauley.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/philpauley/
Authoright Twitter: https://twitter.com/Authoright

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Why did you choose to write for the YA and Sci-Fi genre?

Most of my designs are near-futuristic which appeal directly to the younger age group so it was a natural audience and genre to select.

Are the names of your characters important/ meaningful in some way?

LUCA means “last universal common ancestor” which refers to the most recent organism from which all organisms now living on Earth descend. Most of my characters have names with a deeper meaning.

How much of an influence is your professional career on your writing?

My conceptual design (and digital learning work to a degree), especially my subsea habitat designs are also my passion from which the book has evolved.

What authors/books do you feel have influence your writing?

Jules Verne has always been a strong influence as is most recently, JK Rowling

What’s your must-have snack to have on hand when you’re writing?

I’ll eat anything and everything, especially chocolate but I do like strong cups of tea!

Do you have any writing tips for budding authors?

Everything I do is rooted in a deep-seated passion for a subject. Find what inspires you!

What books do you enjoy reading? What are you reading now?

I like most books featured on Edge.org and I am currently reading The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism

What do you hope to achieve with Moral Order?

I hope to ignite a spark of enthusiasm about inspiring collective action towards caring for our planet...

What’s next for Moral Order?

I’m preparing to complete the second book.

Do you prefer writing or designing?

Designing a concept with a pencil and blank sheet of paper is effortless and is something that has always come naturally for me. Creating a book series is a new skillset that I am still trying to come to terms with.

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I think that as a concept designer, Pauley's world building will be exceptional!

Check out the other dates of the launch tour to the left!

Moral Order: The Rise of Lucas C. Mariner by Phil Pauley (published by Clink Street Publishing, RRP £8.99 paperback, RRP £2.99 ebook) is available 16th September 2014 at online retailers including amazon.co.ukand ordered from all good bookstores. For more information, please visit,www.moralorder.com .

Tomorrow's post will be over at Manic Readers, www.manicreaders.com!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Friday memes and 'Storms of Witchcraft' by Emerson W. Baker

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowIt's my birthday!! I'm officially 21 which means I'm not allowed to legally drink in America, not that that does me any good over here in the UK. It does feel like I'm not at an 'officially grown up' age, so I'll try to be a bit more adult ;) No promises though. Now, let's get onto these memes!

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee and this week's question was suggested by Jess over at GREAT Read and is:
Before blogging (dark times people!) how would you find out about new books or did you?

I actually am not quite sure, it feels like such a long time ago! I got most of my books from family, I think, and because I wanted to study English I looked up a lot of lists of books to read which meant I tried to read Catcher in the Rye at twelve, which wasn't a good idea. The first Twilight book on the other hand was a bit more of a hit at that age, although when I was fifteen those two switched around and Catcher in the Rye became a new favourite. OK, got side-tracked there. I got most of my new books from just seeing them in stores and since I tend to be wary of books that get hyped I missed out on most of them even then!
Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This week's question was submitted by Camille over at Girl meets Books (great blog name!):
What books would you want to read again for the first time?

Ugh, which wouldn't I? I watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night and realized I would love to read the Harry Potter books again for the first time and just be completely new to J.K.'s whole magical world. It was just such fun! I would also love to read Wuthering Heights again because I think I have decided on it being my all time favourite book and I would just love to experience that rollercoaster all over again. There are lots of other ones as well, like Pride & Prejudice, Frankenstein, Special Topics of Calamity Physics and more.


This week I'm using a book that has me slightly obssessed and fascinated for Book Beginnings (hosted over at Rose City Reader) and Friday 56 (hosted over at Freda's Voice). That book is A Storm of Witchcraft by Emerson W. Baker. This isn't the whole blurb, but it's a bit long:

Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers--mainly young women--suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history. 
Baker shows how a range of factors in the Bay colony in the 1690s, including a new charter and government, a lethal frontier war, and religious and political conflicts, set the stage for the dramatic events in Salem. Engaging a range of perspectives, he looks at the key players in the outbreak--the accused witches and the people they allegedly bewitched, as well as the judges and government officials who prosecuted them--and wrestles with questions about why the Salem tragedy unfolded as it did, and why it has become an enduring legacy.
I'm fascinated by witchcraft and Baker's account is really interesting. I've already learned so much about not only the Salem trials but also about Puritanism, Massachusetts' history and other, fascinating, witchcraft cases and I'm only a third in.

BB:
'Tucked away in a corner of the Peabody Essex Museum in the City of Salem sits one of the great artifacts of early American history: a small oak valuables cabinet. - Introduction'In the middle of January 1692, strange events began to take place in the Salem Village parsonage. Reverend Samuel Parris and his wife, Elizabeth, began to notice that their daugter, Betty, and niece, Abigail William, were behaving oddly.' - p.14
I decided to give you the beginning both of the intro and the actual book because it shows two examples of why the book is so interesting. Baker approaches the trials from a lot of different angles, such as for example the cabinet, while also giving quite detailed accounts of what the documents tell us. It's simply really interesting!

F56:
'Even the climate seemed to be part oft he conspiracy against New England. The 1680s and 1690s were part of the Maunder Minimum, the most extreme weather of the Little Ice Age, a period of colder temperatures occurring roughly from 1400 to 1800. Strikingly cold winters and dry summers were common in those decades.' p.58
Climate and environment are really important contributors to culture and this makes the book even more interesting because currently out climate is changing quite a lot as well. I'm not suggesting we'll soon have new witchcraft trials, but I can imagine some of our current world problems can be brought back to it.

So, that was my post for today, now I'm going to go blog-hopping!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week - Least Favourite Book

Thursday means Harry Potter, and Harry Potter, in my world, means happiness. I have been craving going on Pottermore for ages now and since I've gone back home for my birthday tomorrow I don't have to be at work so I'm going to spend the day pottering around there! (See what I did?!). Anyways, Harry Potter Moment of the Week is hosted by Leah over at Uncorked Thoughts and this week's question is hard:

Least Favourite Book


I actually genuinely don't know. I haven't read the books in so long that all I have to go by are the movies. What I do remember is that every time a book came out I was incredibly excited and I loved it, no matter what. Every new story about Harry Potter was all I wanted and more so I don't think I ever read one that was disappointing, so I won't be able to pick one like that. Hhmm, plot-wise I always felt Goblet of Fire was my least favourite because it distracted so much from Harry's personal problems but then I really enjoyed how their personal relationships grew in that book because at that point it definitely changed from school friends to intense friendships, if you know what I mean. AAAGGH, I don't know what to pick. So here's a Buzzfeed post about '26 Times Tumblr Had Serious Questions about Harry Potter' and it's hilarious so definitely check it out. I was laughing out loud about halfway through!

Do you have a least-favourite book?