Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday at Mansfield Park

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowIt's the last Friday of the Autumn term in my second year and I'm actually quite sad about it because that means that I'm practically halfway through my degree and I am nowhere near ready for the world waiting outside the University gates. But until then, I will continue faithfully reading my assigned texts and hopefully find more time because I have been terribly neglectful! Now, enough procrastinating and on with the Friday memes.


Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and this week's question is:

'Bookselling time: Go to your biggest bookcase, the second shelf from the top and pick the sixth book from the left. Handsell that book to us - even if you haven't read it or hated it. 

I am actually really excited to answer this question because the sixth book on the left is one I recently bought and am really excited about. So I'm going to try to not just sell you the book but also the specific edition. Some weeks ago, I bought the American 1943 edition of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. So first, Wuthering Heights. I know it is quite a divisive book, people either love it or hate it and I can't tell you which of the two it will be for you. But one thing I do know is that no one who has read it and given it a chance has been completely unaffected by it. There is a certain uncanny quality about it, about its characters that are too real to be completely good, bad or likeable.



Now, for the edition. It is absolutely stunning because of the Fritz Eichenberg illustrations. He has managed to capture that distinct dark quality that gives Wuthering Height its desperate yet enthralling grip on the reader. Thankfully he didn't try to make the novel or its characters any prettier than Emily wrote them.

I'm not quite sure how else to convince anyone, but then again, I feel that if a novel like Wuthering Heights cannot sell itself, neither can I.

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice. This week I am using Jane Austen's Mansfield Park which I never really liked until I started studying it. There is so much subtext to it and I'm even starting to find myself appreciate Fanny, to a certain extent that is.


BB:
'About thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the country of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income.'
I think Jane Austen's style is quite recognizable in this opening, although the irony that is always present in her writing seems a bit harsher here and more judgmental, perhaps.

F56:
'Fanny's rides recommenced the very next day, and as it was a pleasant fresh-feeling morning, less hot than the weather had lately been, Edmund trusted that her losses both of health and pleasure would be soon made good.'
I think Fanny's occasional horse rides with Edmund are some of the very few instances in the novel where she is actually active. What I have started to appreciate is that Fanny is the single constant in the novel, the only character you can rely on throughout.


So, what about you?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Review: 'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe

'Robinson Crusoe' is an example of a novel that has become almost too popular for its own good. Everyone knows the story of the man who was shipwrecked on an abandoned island and has to build a life for himself there. Only few know how the novel actually works and until last week I was one of those people. I would probably never have read this novel if it hadn't been for University, but I think this was the perfect context in which to read a book which is, in all honesty, too detailed for its own good.
Shipwrecked in a storm at sea, Robinson Crusoe is washed up on a remote and desolate island. As he struggles to piece together a life for himself, Crusoe's physical, moral and spiritual values are tested to the limit. For 24 years he remains in solitude and learns to tame and master the island, until he finally comes across another human being. Considered a classic literary masterpiece, and frequently interpreted as a comment on the British Imperialist approach at the time, Defoe's fable was and still is revered as the very first English novel.
I gave myself almost two months before reviewing this novel after finishing it, because I wasn't sure how I actually felt about the novel as a whole. The premise is interesting, which is why the novel was survived this long, but it is very much a novel of its own time. Never has this much been written about 'she-goats' and the building of defensive walls on an abandoned island in any other work of fiction I've read. As I said above, there is an incredibly amount of detail in this book which might have been perfect back in the 1700s, adding credibility to Defoe's story, but clogging up the book for modern readers. Occasionally he skips over three years by simple stating he was busy building a cellar to store his crops in. It is impossible to belief that in those twenty-eight years that Robinson was stuck on that island, he never had either sexual or simply social desires but was perfectly content to colonize his little piece of Earth and come to terms with God and his own role in this world.

There is another aspect not many people are aware of: 'Robinson Crusoe' is an incredibly religious book. God and Providence permeate the book and are what guide Crusoe's thoughts and actions. Being completely alone, everything that happens is either the consequence of one of his own actions or has to be have come from God. The footprint is therefore a crucial part in the novel. Let's take a look at Robinson's response to the footprint:
'I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition.  I listened, I looked round me, but I could hear nothing, nor see anything; I went up to a rising ground to look farther; I went up the shore and down the shore, but it was all one; I could see no other impression but that one.'
Robinson has completely resigned himself to a solitary existence and the sudden 'apparition' of a footprint is not only a supernatural reminder that there is an entire world out there, but also a threat against the state he has built up there. The presence of a deity that has the power to change your life outside of your choice is a very important aspect of the novel that has not translated into popular culture.

However, I found 'Robinson Crusoe' quite enjoyable once you accepted the time period and genre within which it was written. The extraneous detail and the very imperialistic turn that the novel takes towards the end simply form part of the world Robinson and Defoe both come from. In many ways the true value of 'Robinson Crusoe' lies in it being one of the first, if not the first, novel that created a true psychological profile for its character. Crusoe's psyche is delved into and developed, bringing the reader a true travel novel that journeys through the mind as well as an undiscovered world.

I give this novel...

4 UNIVERSES!!!

Purely for the fact that the novel is very much of its own time and many of the aspects of its narrative haven't translated into popular culture, I have given this novel 4 rather than 5 Universes. I enjoyed it much more than 'Gulliver's Travels', an equally famous yet relatively unexplored novel written as a response to Defoe's novel, but mainly for the ideas it brought to the forefront of my mind, rather than for its own content.

Have you read 'Robinson Crusoe'? If yes, what did you think of it? If no, do you think you'd enjoy it?


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Review: 'The War of the Worlds' by H.G. Wells

When I think of my childhood, it is a vibrant mix between Star Wars, Harry Potter, classical music and Jeff Wayne's adaptation of 'The War of the Worlds'. Nothing was ever as scary and thrilling as the Martians' 'Ulla'. Once I actually understood the words in the songs, I discovered that there was also a novel and immediately read it. That was a couple of years ago but now it has been brought back to my attention thanks to University and I have once again been sucked in by the amazing story. The Goodread's synopsis was terrible, so I've decided to use one from Amazon.

"The War of the Worlds" is a first-person narrative of an unnamed protagonist's adventures in London and the countryside southwest of London as Earth is invaded by Martians. Written in 1895-1897, it is one of the earliest stories that details a conflict between mankind and an alien race. The plot has been related to invasion literature of the time. The novel has been variously interpreted as a commentary on evolutionary theory, British imperialism, and on Victorian fears and prejudices. "The War of the Worlds" has been both popular (it has never gone out of print) and influential, spawning half a dozen feature films, radio dramas, various comic book adaptations, a television series, and sequels or parallel stories by other authors.
Before taking a look at the narrative and style of the novel, it is interesting to look at the ideas behind the novel and its foundation in the imperialistic culture Wells lived in. Wells was not the first or only one to write about alien words at the end of the Victorian age. Crucial to the development of this new sci-fi genre was Darwin's theory of evolution, interestingly enough. The idea that humans have evolved from ape-like animals, i.e. were once less developed, also opened up the possibility that the Victorians were not the height of modernity but might only be a lesser step on the stairway to perfection. Rather than invent silly aliens, Wells created a highly superior species that has no interest in communicating with humanity and that is where the true terror of the book lies. The Martians have only one goal, which is profiting from the Earth's resources, not establish contact. In many ways, Wells here echoes the Imperial sentiments of his time but presents them in a negative light. Although the Martians operate with cold intellect, at least their intention is not to maliciously harm humans. The suggestion is made that European colonizers were out to subject other people, not just countries, and rule over them. However, taking Wells' critical stance into account, he is unable to completely write off the possible advantages of an Empire. Being invaded by a superior species has brought new technology to the humans and has thereby improved their lives. 

I personally love the way in which The War of the Worlds is written. As the synopsis states, the story is told by an unnamed narrator. Although we know where he lives, what his profession is and that he has a brother in London, he is not a set character. As such, even the details of his life become stereotypical enough for him to be a template for any kind of reader to empathize with. As we travel through invaded England with him, the terror of the invasion comes a lot closer to the reader because, unlike in many modern alien movies for example, the reader has no contact to the outside world, does not know who survived and who died. This adds a sense of realism which might otherwise have been completely lost in a novel starring creatures from outer space. Although criticism on Wells often highlights the repetitive nature of his characters, he clearly knows this character and it allows him to mix his interest in science and human nature into one narrative.


The War of the Worlds had a lasting impact on popular culture. Aliens have been a constant presence in the cinemas and in science fiction, but not often do the new interpretations manage to live up to the original stories. The Jeff Wayne radioplay is one of the best adaptations around, fastly superior to the 2005 movie adaptation with Tom Cruise. Keeping the setting but changing the main character to a Journalist and introducing new female characters to balance out the otherwise completely male cast, Wayne and co brought the story into the 20th century while adding some great music. I highly recommend reading the lyrics to the songs, especially 'Thunderchild', 'Brave New World' and 'The Spirit of Man'. Naming one of the songs 'Brave New World' was a nice nod, considering Wells had been thought by Thomas Huxley, who was not only a big Darwin supporter but also the grand-father of Aldous Huxley, the author of the famous novel 'Brave New World'.

I give this novel...

5 UNIVERSES!!!

The War of the World is the novel in which fiction and science truly mixed for the first time. Wells creates a true horror story while still managing to give the reader an insight into human character. Besides that, some of his comic talent still occasionally shines through, making it an overall truly enjoyable read and deserved classic.


Friday, 15 November 2013

Busy Friday

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowOnly got time for a quick one today, Friday's are slowly turning into way too busy days where I try to catch up on things I missed during the week, spend all day at work and then relax at the library, which has become my new haven. I have never spent as much time in an academic building than I have in the library this past week. It's like the concept of the library has only now gotten through to me and I cannot help myself from getting books that are completely non-related to my course. Currently, I have a copy of Nietzsche's work, Sagan's 'The Demon-Haunted World', a book on Paganism and on 'The Germanic Hero'. Ok, the last two are sort of related, but the first two were just cause I can. And that's not a healthy attitude when it comes to me and libraries because I have hardly seen any people this week...


Anyways, onto Follow Friday which is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question:
Are there any book to movie adaptations where you think the movie is better than the book?

This is quite a difficult one, because I absolutely love watching movies, but I also love reading and the two are such different experiences that I can love watching the movie and then read the book straight after and they're two completely different experiences! I am a massive Jane Austen-fan, but I don't really like either Emma or Mansfield Park (please don't throw hate at me for not liking Emma). I absolutely loved the 2009 BBC series of the former though, with Romola Garai, who managed to not make Emma completely ridiculous to me. The 1999 film of Mansfield Park was also pretty good, although I still preferred Crawford over Edmund any time.


What I have just realised is that what both of those adaptations have in common is Johnny Lee Miller. I don't even really like him that much, but he's a good actor so I guess maybe he just helps smooth me into stories I don't really like.

So, how about you? What movie do you prefer over its book?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - I'm soo excited

I haven't done this meme in aaageees but since I am now genuinely excited about a book coming my way I simply couldn't help myself! Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.


I am not, as such, waiting for a new book to come out, but rather I'm waiting for an edition of an old book coming my way. Yesterday I finally managed to win a bidding on Ebay (first time in my life) and get myself a 1943 edition of 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte with Fritz Eichenberg illustrations. 
Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
'Wuthering Heights' is always my answer when people ask me what my favourite book is because I just love it so much and there's always something I can talk about when people question me about why I would like this book.


The illustrations are amazing! I've always wanted a copy of this edition because they just fit perfectly with the story. They're so gothic and sharp and just really underline the different aspects and themes of the story.

So, what are you waiting for?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Lisa Fray: 'Authenticity and the Author's Intrusion into Fiction'

Some of you might remember the amazing guestpost that Lisa Fray did for Universe in Words a while back. Well, I have good news: she's back, this time with a piece about fiction and authenticity. 


Authenticity and the Author's Intrusion into FictionIt is difficult to forget what you know about an author when you are reading one of their books, but the sorts of authorial intrusions that can occur when you know all about an author's history or opinions can have a big impact on your experience of their work. Sometimes, it can enhance the experience, by giving us a sense that we are hearing from someone who really knows what they are talking about, but in other cases, it can prevent us from valuing the work for its own merits. It can also leave us searching for "authenticity" in fiction, rather than allowing authors to live separate lives from their creations. We can end up expecting authors to prove to us that they can give us better insight into that fictional world than anyone else. They are required to show their qualifications before we will suspend our disbelief.
Authenticity and VoiceMany authors tend to write about people and subjects that are close to their own background, but if we required authors to prove that they have real life experience matching the lives of their characters, we would limit creativity too much. Writers do often write about writers, but we shouldn't feel that this is the only subject they can cover, and we need to be wary about questioning how and why authors write across cultures, nationalities and sexes. There has been a nasty tendency in the past to believe that the Western middle class male norm is universal, while everyone outside it must be limited. Writers can then be attacked for writing outside their own experiences, but devalued for sticking to them because they aren't the traditional material of "great" literature.
Authenticity and the AutobiographicalReaders seeking authenticity don't just want authors to speak from their own real-life background, they also search for specific autobiographical elements in their works. We often believe that we see the author in their characters, particularly when books blur the lines between fiction and fact. When we read David Copperfield, we want to see it as a sort of autobiography of Dickens. It is a tendency that authors often play with, suggesting that they are recounting true histories, presenting real diaries or letters that they have only edited, or creating characters who are very similar to themselves. Many authors write about people who live in the same city, who are part of the same culture, or who resemble the public persona they cultivate. Some even indulge in metafictional games, introducing themselves as characters in their own books. A few authors have gone even further. They make their books explicitly autobiographical, or pretend that a fictional work is based on more truth that it actually contains. This is where the fun of playing with the line between the real and the imaginary can leave readers feeling cheated.
Cheating at Authenticity
The problem with the quest for authenticity in literature is that it makes us judge books by how much expertise and authority an author has over a particular topic, rather than by the quality, or even the actual accuracy, of the work. It doesn't matter how realistic a novel about drug addiction and poverty is, or how well it enables readers to empathize with its characters, it just matters whether the author has ever been a drug user. The classic example of a novel that was suddenly re-evaluated when its author's authenticity was challenged is A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, which was accepted by publishers only after the author stopped describing it as a novel and started suggesting it was his true-life story. When it was later revealed to be fiction, readers suddenly felt that their experiences with the book had been cheapened. If the author hadn't actually struggled with recovery in a rehabilitation centre, then his readers suddenly couldn't believe in his characters anymore. Frey is not alone in having lost his readers' confidence after his true relation to his narrator was unmasked, but when readers are begging for more authenticity, it is easy to see why authors would fall back on the time-honoured techniques that convinced readers that Robinson Crusoe was real, or that The War of the Worlds was coming true. Asserting that fiction is true is all part of the game between author and reader that makes fiction work, but it only works as long as we all know that we are playing.
When Authenticity Goes Too FarThe desire for authenticity in fiction can be linked to our need to feel that books can make us better people, by giving us insight into the lives of people who are completely different from ourselves, but in looking for this kind of "reality" in an author's relationship with their creations, we risk limiting both our own interpretations of literature, and the scope which we will allow our authors to cover. It can be interesting to learn that the author's childhood resembled that of the main character, or that their former career has been turned into fiction, but we should be wary of placing too much importance on this type of authenticity. Authors do write from their own experiences, but they don't have to write autobiographical fact. Imagination and empathy allow us to use our own experiences to understand the people we encounter in both real life and fiction, and this means that there are no boundaries we cannot cross when reading or writing literature.

So, what do you think? I think authenticity should only matter to a certain extent. Sure, I want my fiction to be realistic, but we read books because we want to escape and maybe enter a world we thought impossible.

Here are some links to other articles Lisa has written:

Friday, 25 October 2013

I can't believe I'm actually managing to post something...

Book Blogger HopI have been incredibly busy between doing reading for University (which has increased exponentially from last year and includes the much despised Wordsworth) and working, while freaking out about essays which are due in 3 weeks (who came up with a mid-November deadline?), but I really wanted to do a Friday meme post because, to be honest, I miss them and everyone's answers to the questions. Also, I am looking for book ideas as a gift for my sister, so who knows what I'll find today!


The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and this week is a Halloween special:
What is your favourite horror novel and why?

I don't actually think I've read that many horror novels. I think 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley counts, no? I really like that book, despite its occasional theatricality which usually turns me off other books. There is just something about Viktor Frankenstein that I dislike so much that it becomes fun to read him go paranoid. And it is an amazing text to know here at University because you can always compare it to other novels, somehow.

To my shame I have to admit I've never read any Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft, but I definitely want to get onto the latter because a friend of mine swears by his books. I am actually quite easily scared by things I read, I have had two nightmares related to Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels (don't judge).


Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 by Freda's Voice. This week I'm using 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson. I'm using it for one of my essays and discovered that I actually quite liked it while rereading it.

BB:
'MR. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable.'
How a man like that could be lovable I'm not quite sure, unless it's in that surely, grumpy kind of way where you can't help but enjoy how much he hates everything and stumbles over his words in social situations.

F56:
'Small indeed was my appetite.'
That has never really happened to me so this might be the true point in the book where I found it hard to relate to Dr. Jekyll. We've all felt a little bit evil in our own time, but I've always been hungry afterwards.

So, what did you pick? And what is your favourite horror novel? Has it terrified you to tears?

Friday, 18 October 2013

Blood Series: Character Interview - Meet Dominic

Blood Yellow (Blood Series)I am very glad to present to you, an interview with Dominic Khaled from Ashley Nemer's 'Blood Series'.

Hello there – I’m Nadia Maverick, of the Cedar Rapids Mavericks and I’m here today to sit down with Dominic Khaled, son of the infamous Haydar. Hopefully this interview goes better than the one I had with Haydar … but given they are family, I’ll just be glad I’m not eaten alive. Nadia: Good Morning Dominic. Thank you for taking the time to sit with me today, I really appreciate it.Dominic: Not like I had much of a choice – I was told if I wanted to be mentioned in any more books by our Author that I had to attend. And apparently be nice. Nadia: Well I’ll try not to make this too painful for you, how about that?Dominic: Nah, I like pain. Nadia: Well, okay then. How about we just get down to the nitty gritty. Ashley created this exciting world of vicious and different vampires. How do you think it compares to the others that are already out there? For instance, Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse.
Dominic: First Nadia, we are Algula. Please get our race right. And the main difference with us, just because we are “vampires” that doesn’t make us what we are. It’s as simple as, you’re a human with brown hair. That doesn’t define you. You cannot put Algula into a cookie cutter vampire outline and expect it to be accurate. We are anything but normal. Nadia: How are you not normal? Please elaborate.Dominic: For instance, Algula can die. We are not immortal. If we are lucky we will live 4,500-5,000 years. While to you humans that is practically immortal, reality, it’s not. Nadia: Is that the only thing that doesn’t make you normal? That hardly seems like a label killer.Dominic: You didn’t let me finish, impatient woman. Our Algula also control the elements. We gain this ability through our blood line. Not any two Algula will be identical because our blood lines aren’t. Even brother and sisters, or twins won’t have the same chemical make-up. Nadia: What do you control?Dominic: I control the element of fire. Nadia: And who else controlled that in your family?Dominic: My father passed it onto me, and he received that from his mother, my grandmother Afaf. I never met her but I have heard stories of her ability. Nadia: Do you need human blood to live?Dominic: Isn’t that a definition of, “vampire”? Nadia: Well you said you weren’t normal, so I thought I would ask.Dominic: We need blood to live. Human blood is the strongest for us. Let me put it this way; you humans need meat to survive. It gives you iron and all that crap you need to be strong and healthy, so I can eat you. But you survive without meat; you find other things to nourish you. It’s the same for us. Nadia: Why human blood, why not cow or chicken or dog?Dominic: You want me to go eat a dog? Nadia: No, I’m just asking, why us humans.Dominic: Because you were our creation. Nadia: I do believe science would debate you on that Dominic. We have never been known to come from vampires.Dominic: You know what we allowed you to know and the rest we willed in with what we wanted you to know. My ancestors were the children of the Gods. They needed nourishment and so, created humans. You’re like cattle to us. We made you in our image so you would be the perfect source of nutrition to our system. We allowed you to breed and populate so we wouldn’t have to continue creating more of you. All of those stories in your bible that you know, we are the creators.
 Nadia: My, that’s … quite a … I don’t know what to call that, tale?Dominic: It’s not a tale Nadia. It’s the truth. Look, I’m doing my job, I’m not eating you, I came here to be nice, like I was told to do by everyone. But if you’re not going to believe me I can just leave. Nadia: Sorry, no, don’t leave. I do have another question.Dominic: Proceed… Nadia: How do you feel about Blood Yellow, and the way the stories are unfolding?Dominic: I hope my sister rips my father apart and makes him pay for all the bull-shit he’s put us through my entire life. Nadia: After reading these two books I can see why you would say that.Dominic: Yeah – are we done here? Nadia: Yes I suppose. I think I have enough for a good story.Dominic: Alright – make sure you tell everyone I’m the most vicious and sadistic of the Khaled’s. That my pain will have vengeance and when it does, Haydar won’t know what’s coming. Nadia: I will note that but Dominic, how are you going to do that – your character…Dominic: Silence! I will have my way, even in death I will haunt him and destroy what he claims. After that I watched Dominic flash away – I have to say, that was one of the oddest interviews I’ve had. ** Dominic and Nadia can be found on the Art of Safkhet’s website. Both are characters created by Ashley Nemer for two different series. To check out more please visit www.artofsafkhet.com **


I love character interviews, they're just so much fun to read!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

How History and Politics create Literature



Olivertwist front.jpgI have been terribly absent from the blogosphere, but life does that to you sometimes. Now that I'm actually managing to settle into a routine at University, I am once again filled with knowledge at lectures that I now feel the need to spread. Today I caught up with an introductory lecture for a module about Victorian and Fin de Siecle module. It doesn't get much more introductory than being rushed through an entire century worth of historical context in one and a half hours. But then the realisation suddenly struck me how much history and politics influence literature and I decided to try and formulate my thoughts.


Everyone knows that literature is influenced by, even originates in, the everyday life of the author and his/her direct surroundings. It seems logical when you think about it, but I had never thought about it. Currently we are studying 'Great Expetations' by Charles Dickens, which I'm having a horrible time with, and we made a quick detour to the ever-so-famous 'Oliver Twist'. Dickens is one of the defining authors of the Victorian age and has, for many, defined how London looks: misty, industrial and dark. This perception wouldn't be too far from the truth. Living in the mid-1800s, Dickens experiences England in one of its most revolutionary and busy times. Industrialisation had hit Europe full force, the working class was expanding and literacy was booming. In his writing, Dickens reflected, or at least tried to reflect, the time he found himself in while it was changing around him.

'Oliver Twist' is the tale of a naive orphan who finds himself in a miserable workhouse before he flees to London where he gets involved with Artful Dodger and Fagin, who introduce him to a life of crime. One of the book's major themes is poverty and how it leads to criminal behaviour, especially among younger children and presents it as a constant threat in society, when many of the, now iconic, images were actually only very recent changes. Where would we have met Oliver, if the Poor Law Amendment Act  of 1834 had not been passed four years before the book was published in 1838? Without this act, workhouses would never have existed since they were only opened to reduce amount of money the government spent on relief for the poor. A Factory Act passed in 1833 reduced the amount of hours children were allowed to work while still maintaining the legality of child labour as a whole, which offers an explanation for the normality with which the adults in 'Oliver Twist' treat their minor employees. Had the circumstances during the creation process of 'Oliver Twist' had been only slightly different, the novel would have taken a completely different spin and perhaps never achieved the iconic position it now holds in the English Canon. Had Dickens written it ten years later, Oliver would have possibly been a migrant boy from Ireland, suffering from the European Potato Failure in the 1840s, which led to an incredibly rise in mortality in Europe.

Charles Dickens
Had the time been different, perhaps all the characters would have had a different fate and I think this is something fascinating to realise every once in a while. Books are not only a reflection of their time, but also of the human spirit. In Oliver's struggle to a better life, Dickens manages to show Britain's, and especially the lower class', struggle towards a better existence in which there is more equality and less exploitation. And simultaneously, the novel shaped history in its own way. By writing about the vile, lower class villains, Dickens kept crime a decidedly classed problem. It is not just what they do that makes Fagin and Sikes despicable characters, it is what they are. Criminality is innate to their being but not to Oliver, whose origins lie securely in the middle class. As publishing took a huge boost due to mechanised printing and cheaper paper in the 1830s, literacy and literature spread through the middle class and upper class who now demanded entertainment. Next to a tale, Dickens gave them firm reassurance of the security of their morals and values against the dangerous outside world. Oliver's entrance into prosperity is granted to him due to his family origins, whereas there is no hope of class transgression for the other characters. In this way, literature shaped society, maintaining prejudices and beliefs while time was doing its best to change.

I hope this post has somehow been informative and interesting. If not, I sincerely apologize, but it has been a great way to get my own thoughts straight. Now if only I could actually read a Dickens book, in this case 'Great Expectations' without despairing of all my life choices that led me to that book, I could be happy.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Guest post by Lisa Fray - 'Do Books Make Us Better People?'

Today I am honoured to play host to an article by Lisa Fray about the impact of books on readers and the way they think. 

Do Books Make Us Better People?
Have you ever met one of those people who announces the fact that they have read a book with a sense of pride that suggests they just solved world peace, cured cancer, or at the very least completed a marathon? They almost seem to pause for your applause after telling you the title, and even worse, they might then go on to tell you how much they abhor "lesser" forms of entertainment like film, TV or (shudder!) video games. The myth that these people have fallen for isthat books are inherently more sophisticated and intellectual, and that the very fact that they have read one makes them a superior sort of person. It's easy enough to do, particularly if you've just made it through one of the heavier classics, or had your understanding of the world challenged by a great philosophical work, but we shouldn't be so quick to assume that reading alone is enough to turn us into better versions of ourselves. Books don't make us into better people simply because we read them. We only become better people if the books we read make us think about our own morality.

Origins of the Idea
It's hard to find a literary critic who doesn't think that literature has some sort of influence on the way we see the world, but modern theorists tend to focus on revealing the hidden ideologies that lieinside our favourite books, rather than on the way that books might make people better. The moral approach to criticism was more powerful during the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was believed that making sure people were reading the right kind of books would keep them peaceful and satisfied with their lives. Such a start for the idea that books can make us into better people hardly gives you confidence in the sort of morality that we might be developing as we read, but this is the origin of the belief that books are inherently good for us. If this were the only reason people believed in the power of books over morality, it would be difficult to believe in the intellectual superiority of the reader, let alone in their better moral character.

The Good, the Bad and the Amoral
Many stories have obvious morals, or were designed to teach us through showing how the "good" characters are rewarded and the "bad" ones are punished, but it has always been difficult for people to take these sorts of stories seriously. Samuel Richardson's Pamela, the story of an impossibly virtuous servant, was almost immediatelysatirised by Henry Fielding's Shamela, and it is often the bad characters who are most glamorous and attractive in fiction. If it were true that books could pressure us into being good simply by making us copy ourfavourite characters, we would be in trouble. Reading a moral book would make us good, but reading an immoral one would make us bad. All of the rest of literature, lacking a clear moral stance, would just leave us lost and confused.

Thinking About Philosophy in Fiction
The way that books change us is obviously more complicated than this. If books can make us better people, it is not by telling us simple morality tales. The difference that reading makes is that it encourages us to take the time to think about the unintended consequences of our actions and to empathise with strangers. Books make us think for ourselves, rather than trying to force us into the "right" way of thinking. The sorts of questions about what makes a perfect society that Thomas More raises in Utopia, or the ethical perspectives of Ayn Rand's protagonists in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead can challenge us to look at the world in a new way. The difficult concepts that philosophers spend their lives studying can become clear when we approach them through fiction, even if some of the more challenging books force us to look beyond their pages to find out more about nihilism, solipsism or ethical theory. If we are willing to make the effort and engage actively with the ideas that we are reading about, we can actually learn a lot from our books, even if the text has been written before our time. Descartes, Locke, and Spinoza's publications on ethics can all reveal a better understanding of society before and how some of the ideas came to contribute to our world today.

Are We Better for Loving Books?
However cynical you might be, perhaps as a result of honing your mind with difficult philosophical books, it is hard to dismiss the idea that reading can make us more empathetic and thoughtful. It is much easier to laugh at the sort of moral control that the Victorians believed literature could exert and at the way that some people still believe that just reading a book will be enough to make them a better person. Books aren't in themselves morally good or bad. It is the way we read them that determines their influence. It is the way they make us think.

Here are some links to other articles she has written:

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Blog Tour for 'Maverick Touch' by Ashley Nemer

I'm honoured to host the blog tour for 'Maverick Touch' by Ashley Nemer today.

Reporter Nadia Maverick takes an adventure through the underbelly of her town, where she discovers that even the criminal life she had been reporting on isn't quite like it seemed.
Things turn bad for Nadia when in the middle of an investigation, the tables are turned and she becomes the one under the watchful eye of Mr. A. Everyone becomes a suspect when Nadia turns up missing.Who will be there to set her free?


Author Bio
Ashley is married and lives in Houston with her husband Tony. They have two dogs, Toto and Doogie. They have been together for over 8 and a 1/2 years and he brings her more joy than she could ever imagine as a child. She loves to read and has been hooked on the romance genre ever since her lifelong best friend Laura gave her "Ashes to Ashes' by Tami Hoag to read when they were younger.
Ashley finds her strength through her family, especially her parents. They always support her in life; they push her to strive for greatness. There once was a motto that Ashley heard in her youth through her Taekwondo life 'Reach for the Stars' and that is what Ashley has always done. It was through her upbringing that the values Ashley has and displays come from. With her parents always cheering her on in life she was able to grow up having faith in herself and her ability to conquer the world.


Author Information: Ashley Nemer Website Facebook Twitter

And, because Ashley is amazing and I love my readers: an excerpt from Chapter Eight:

Nadia was pulled from her short 15 minute nap when she heard Gabe and Kevin talking outside of the SUV. She looked around and noticed there were several cop cars lining the street. She opened the SUV door and stepped outside, her hands moving up and down her arms, the cool night air giving her a chill.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Guest post: Meredith Blake - 'More Holden Caulfield’s on the Horizon?'

I am pleased to introduce you to another blogger, Blake Meredith, who wrote this post on a new documentary coming out about J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye and his most famous character Holden Caufield.
Among the most famous of fictional characters to ever exist is Holden Caulfield. The 16-year-old protagonist of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is still an icon for teenage angst today. His rebellious spirit makes him particularly appealing to adolescent school children learning to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. The 1951 novel is, in many regards, considered an American Classic, and around 250,000 copies are sold every year with total sales of more than 65 million books to date.
The book has also been the subject of controversy in American schools due to vulgar language, sexual references, blasphemy, and what some call the undermining of family values. With all the controversy surrounding the novel it has still managed to be one of the most loved and influential books in all of American literature. Holden Caulfield is very cynical and relatable for teens and those who have ever suffered from depression. He is a symbol of something we have all felt as some point in our lives. 
There is a long list of characters that were inspired by Holden Caulfield and J.D. Salinger. Without the bad boy Holden Caulfield we may never have seen characters like Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, Chris Chambers in Stand by Me, Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting, Juno MacGuff in Juno, Charlie in Perks of Being a Wallflower, or even Green Day’s Jesus of Suburbia. The list goes on and on. Salinger loved Holden Caulfield so much he felt protective of him and as a result we were never able to see the classic character himself come to life in a film version of Catcher. After the flop of the recent The Great Gatsby film, who could blame Salinger?
Holden Caulfield was the embodiment of teenage angst. He hated the adult world and thought everything was fake and pointless. When opening up a copy of Catcher in the Rye most teen readers think that somebody finally gets it. The pent up anger and disgust with the way the world works. At some point in our lives everyone feels that things just aren’t the way they should be. People hate growing up, but Holden Caulfield explains why. 
A documentary on the extremely reclusive J.D. Salinger is scheduled to come out September 6th. According to the New York Times the new film claims that the legendary manuscripts in a vault will be published in as early as 2015. Much of Salinger’s life was a mystery and it was rumored that after he quit publishing he continued to write. In her memoir, his daughter Margaret Salinger describes the detailed filing system her father had for his unpublished manuscripts: "A red mark meant, if I die before I finish my work, publish this 'as is,' blue meant publish but edit first, and so on." A neighbor said that Salinger told him that he had written 15 unpublished novels. The documentary, which will air after the release on PBS in American Master series, states that Salinger instructed his estate to resume publishing his as-yet unseen work after his death.
On the original Catcher in the Rye jacket cover, there reads a quote: "The boy himself is too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it."


It is unknown if J.D. Salinger wrote this about Holden Caulfield or not, but one thing's for certain; there is a place in every adolescent’s heart for a boy like Holden Caulfield.
Blake Meredith is an arts and entertainment blogger for GetDirectTV.org where she covers interesting topics ranging from classics to new releases in both television and film. When not catching up on her summer reading list Blake enjoys longboarding and exploring the city. She currently resides in Chicago, IL.

Virginia's Friday



Alison Can Read Feature & FollowToday is my last Friday as a 19 year old, which is hard to believe. In 5 years I'll be a quarter century old, which is just a really strange and strangely awesome idea! Anyway, let's get to the memes and the books.

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.
Bookshelf Tour. Gives us a tour of your bookshelf!

I only picked up my books yesterday from where I had stored them over the summer, so I haven't put them on my bookshelves yet. But here's a picture anyway, so I can at least partially show you. Most of my books are still at home, hiding under my bed and stealing space in my sisters bookcase.

I'd say there's about a 100 books in those two bags and I carried/pulled them through the heat yesterday. I have bruises on my legs from where the edges of the books pushed through the bags, but it was all worth it to have my babies back home with me. In the white bag there's mainly academic books. The two you can see are 'An Introduction to Middle English' and 'The Greatness and Decline of the Celts', the latter of which I have only partially read. I love these kind of books that are just full of wisdom and knowledge that I can soak up or be inspired by when I myself write.

The brown bag mainly has fiction books in them, apart from the obvious 'The Writer's Presence'. Shakespeare is in there of course, he'll always have a prominent position on my shelves. The Bronte's are in there as well, as is Jane Austen, Tolkien, etc. Some of my antique books are also there, carefully hidden away between newer paperbacks for padding.

Maybe I'll upload another picture when I have them all on their shelves.

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.
What got you started as a blogger? Everyone has a story/reason, what's yours?


What gave me the final push was my English teacher who told us that keeping up a book blog would help us process our thoughts about the books we were studying. Because I had only just moved to England, I figured I could use any help I could get and started this blog. I had tried before, but sometimes it's like trying to keep up with a diary, there's just no pull. But something was different this time and I absolutely loved it. There was just so much more to blogging about books that I knew and before I realized it I had become part of the book blogosphere and knew what our memes were.

I've decided to give Virginia Woolf another shot after I completely failed at enjoying and understanding 'To The Lighthouse'. So I'm using 'Night and Day' for Book Beginnings (Rose City Reader) and Friday 56 (Freda's Voice).
BB:
'It was a Sunday evening in October, and in common with many other young ladies of her class, Katharine Hilbery was pouring out tea. Perhaps a fifth part of her mind was thus occupied, and the remaining parts leapt over the little barrier of day which interposed between Monday morning and this rather subdued moment, and played with the things one does voluntarily and normally in the daylight.'
One of the things I like about Virginia Woolf is how she seems to understand people and can find words for little every day things we do. Although I don't spend a lot of time pouring tea, my mind is always all over the place.

F56:
“I’m often on the point of going myself. And then I know I couldn’t live without this”—and he waved his hand towards the City of London, which wore, at this moment, the appearance of a town cut out of gray-blue cardboard, and pasted flat against the sky, which was of a deeper blue.“There are one or two people I’m fond of, and there’s a little good music, and a few pictures, now and then— just enough to keep one dangling about here. Ah, but I couldn’t live with savages! Are you fond of books? Music? Pictures? D’you care at all for first editions? I’ve got a few nice things up here, things I pick up cheap, for I can’t afford to give what they ask.”
This is quite a long "sentence" but I saw it and just loved it. I love being in London and one of my favourite views is from Waterloo Bridge, when you can just look both ways and see Parliament, the London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral and if I strain I can pretend I can see my favourite building: the Shakespeare's Globe. And the second part just described me, really.

 So, how does your book shelves work? And when did you start blogging? Leave a link or answer in the comments and I'll come check your blog out!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Guestpost: Liesel K. Hill on writing and 'Dark Remnants'

I am very honoured to be hosting a guespost by the lovely Liesel K. Hill today as part of her blog tour for 'Dark Remnants'. And in even more amazing news, 'Dark Remants' is available for only $0.99 during the blog tour, so hop over to Amazon or Smashwords

Hello All, and thanks so much to Juli for having me here today.

I’m a very eclectic person--I love variety in colors, shapes, sizes, organization, and yes, even book genres. I have no fewer than fifty-three goodreads shelves, and will probably add more in the future.

In my writing, I write across three major genres: sci-fi/fantasy, historical fiction, and crime drama. My historical fiction tends to be somewhat literary, but my real forte is in fantasy.
So, why stray to write thriller crime novels you ask?
Like most bookish people, I’ve always been an avid reader. When I was a kid, I read The Boxcar Children. I loved the idea of children solving mysteries. I loved the whodunit of it all. One day, I started a new volume, and two chapters in guessed who the culprit was.

Time to graduate to harder mysteries.

I was still young at the time, so I moved up to--drum roll, please!--Nancy Drew! It didn’t bother me that Nancy was eighteen for about sixty-five years, that her boyfriend was so perfect he was a flat character, or that she managed to out-smart every cop, lawyer, and bad guy she happened across. I was in it for the whodunit. Once I get my teeth into a mystery, I gotta see it through.
Sometimes, I don’t even car who did it, as much as why. What chain of events led to the tragic murder, or bizarre set of events? I’m what you might call a COAM: a Chronic, Over-Analyzer of Motivations (a.k.a. an author) so you can imagine how hard it is for me to put down a great mystery.
Eventually I graduated to adult reads such as Mary Higgins-Clark (the woman’s a genius) and a few others, but I’ve never lost my passion for mystery.
My favorite TV shows also played a role. I’ve been a fan of CSI pretty much since the first episode of the original series aired. I can watch it for hours, just to watch the mysteries unfold. Understanding human motivation is a powerful thing.
I’m also into Criminal Minds (my true love) and I’ve watched lots of cop or otherwise law-enforcement-oriented shows over the years, from Third Watch to Rookie Blue to the X-Files. I even remember watching the Commish with my mom when I was a kid. Anyone remember that show?
And then there are cops in general. I know a few in real life and they are just the most down-to-earth, heroic, generous people you can imagine. They’re so great, if they were characters in fiction, most readers would probably find them unrealistic. I have so much respect for them and what they do. 
All these things came together and I found myself thinking about a story about a fairly average--though ridiculously intelligent and brave--heroine who throws herself into a dangerous world for chivalrous reasons, and gets herself onto the radar of good cop. Once the story started to percolate, it didn’t matter that this genre wasn’t my forte. I knew I’d have to write it sometime or it would keep me up at night.
Since this is the first book in the series, don’t expect all the big mysteries to be solved by the end, but see if you can spot a mystery that the characters think has been solved, but really hasn’t.

This is a series I intend to put out quickly--a new volume every 2-4 months if I can manage it. If you enjoy a good thriller, an attractive cop, a spunky heroine, and plenty of mystery and intrigue in dangerous places, you might enjoy Dark Remnants.
Happy mystery-reading, Everyone! And may the whodunits always be shocking! :D
P.S. Dark Remnants if available right now for $0.99! Get it before the promotion ends!

Does 'Dark Remnants' sound like the kind of book for you? Hop on over to  Liesel's Facebook, Twitter or blog to find out more! In more news, there's a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Cover reveal: 'Perfection Unleashed' by Jade Kerrion


PERFECTION UNLEASHED


perfection-challenged-600x800Perfection Challenged, the thrilling conclusion to Jade Kerrion's multiple award-winning, bestselling DOUBLE HELIX series, will be released on September 17th and will be available in paperback and all electronic formats. Beta readers have declared Perfection Challenged "the best of the four books...the perfect ending to an amazing series." If you've never picked up the DOUBLE HELIX series, keep on reading for a special offer on Perfection Unleashed, the book that launched the DOUBLE HELIX series.

PERFECTION CHALLENGED

An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre has survived abominations and super soldiers, terrorists and assassins, but he cannot survive his failing body. He wants only to live out his final days in peace, but life and the woman he loves, the assassin Zara Itani, have other plans for him. Galahad, the perfect human being created by Pioneer Labs, is branded an international threat, and Danyael is appointed his jury, judge, and executioner. Danyael alone believes that Galahad can be the salvation that the world needs, but is the empath blinded by the fact that Galahad shares his genes, and the hope that there is something of him in Galahad? In a desperate race against time and his own dying body, Danyael struggles to find fragments of good in the perfect human being, and comes to the wrenching realization that his greatest battle will be a battle for the heart of the man who hates him.

Perfection UnleashedRecipient of six literary awards, including first place in Science Fiction, Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and Gold medal winner in Science Fiction, Readers Favorites 2013. "Higher octane than Heroes. More heart than X-Men."

 Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted—a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention. When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives—the in vitros, clones, and mutants—collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab’s search for perfection, descend upon Washington D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war. Although the genetic future of the human race pivots on Galahad, Danyael does not feel compelled to get involved and risk his cover of anonymity, until he finds out that the perfect human being looks just like him.

FOR A LIMITED TIME, E-BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR JUST $0.99 (Discounted from $2.99) 
E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository To be the first to receive news of Jade Kerrion's latest book releases, sign up for her New Release Mailing List. If Perfection Challenge makes it to the bookstores before September 17th, you'll be among the first to know. Connect with Jade Kerrion: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Friday, 30 August 2013

Tolstoy's Friday

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowI have now lived in my own house for a week (THE EXCITEMENT) and feel incredibly grown up! But I didn't get Wifi until yesterday, which is why A Universe in Words has been generally quiet. But today, it's time for the Memes! :)

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's qst is:
If you could only have ONE book - one book - for the rest of your life. Don't cheat...what would it be?

Oh God, that is such a difficult question! There are so many books out there that are amazing and so many I haven't read yet but want to. I am really torn between two books, right now. It would either be 'The Lord of the Rings' for obvious reasons. I mean, there's enough there to last me a lifetime I think! But on the other hand, I absolutely love 'Wuthering Heights' and every time I reread it I discover something new. The love story between Heathcliff and Cathy is one of my favourite ones in all of literature and I think Emily Bronte was incredibly talented.

I think it would be a toss up between these two. And then I'd smuggle Harry Potter through the checks as well, because, let's face it. I don't think I'd be here without that book.

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and this week's question is:
Have you ever ended up reading a book with its last or last few pages missing? What book was it? And how did you manage to get to the the end?

I don't think I could start a book if I wasn't assured of the end. I mean, when you start reading a book you trust yourself to it and good books can rip out your heart. So unless I know that there is an end at which there is the chance everything will be resolved, even if it is in the last line, it makes everything easier to bear. So no, I've never read an incomplete book. The closest I maybe have ever come to this is when my mother taped shut the last two chapters of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. So the end wasn't really accessible, but she cut it open once I got there, so it wasn't really hard work to finish the book.


I've recently started reading 'War and Peace' by Tolstoy, because I actually really like the idea of this novel that is going to take me months and that will just unfold an entire world in front of me that I can sink away in. So, this is the book I'm using for Book Beginnings (Rose City Reader) and Friday 56 (Freda's Voice).

BB:
'Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichirst - I really believe he is the Antichrist - I will have nothing more to do with you and you are o longer my friend, no longer my "faithful slave", as you call yourself. But how do you do? I see I have frightened you - sit down and tell me all the news.'
I love this beginning for a number of reasons. Partly because it is a great example of conversational writing. There are just so many shifts and it shows a lot of the speaker's character, I think.

F56:
'The princess smiles as people do who think they know more about the subject  under discussion than those they are talking with.'
The book, as far as I've read, is filled with these tiny kind of wisdoms about people and society. Tolstoy really observed people well, because occasionally there'll be this little anecdote that could come straight out of real life.

So, what are you reading this week? Have you ever tried to read a book with a missing end?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Double Cover Reveal: 'Quantum Entanglement' and 'Dark Remnants' by Liesel K. Hill

I have been MIA for a bit since I moved into my house and there is no wifi, but I am more than happy to break the silence with a double cover reveal for Liesel K. Hill. So let's get started:

First: 'Quantum Entanglement'
Five months after traveling to a post-apocalyptic future where collectives reign supreme and individuals have been hunted to the verge of extinction, Maggie Harper was returned to her own time until the threat to her life could be neutralized. She thought Marcus and the others would return for her within a few weeks, and now she’s beginning to worry. 
When travelers from the future finally show up to collect her, it’s not who she expected. With the return of her memories, she wants more than ever to see Marcus again, but a snake-like woman whose abilities are a perfect match for Maggie’s, an injured Traveler, and decades of civil unrest to wade through all stand in the way of their reunion.
Meanwhile, Marcus and Karl traipse through the countryside, trying to neutralize Colin, who’s promised to brutalize and murder Maggie if he can get his hands on her. When a collective woman is left for dead, Marcus heals her, hoping she’ll be the key to killing Colin and bringing Maggie back. But she may prove as much a hindrance as a help.
The team struggles to get their bearings, but things happen faster than they know. The collectives are coalescing, power is shifting, and the one called B is putting sinister plans into action. If the team can’t reunite and get a handle on the situation, their freedom and individuality—perhaps their very identity—will be ripped away before they can catch their breath.
I think the cover looks great, with the different layers. Also, the girl's eyes are creepily amazing!

Then there is 'Dark Remnants'
 In the most dangerous city in the country, one controlled by a sadistic gang called the Sons of Ares, Kyra Roberts is searching the deep places for someone…
Kyra has come to Abstreuse city to find someone she’s lost, but walking the underbelly—a dark alley system residents call the Slip Mire—even in disguise, is rife with dangers. Kyra must stay on her toes if she intends to live. After crossing paths several times with the same detective, she wonders if his work and hers might be connected.
Gabe Nichols has worked homicide in Abstreuse for three years. Dead prostitutes and gang violence are part of the night shift. When a woman who looks like a street junkie but acts like an intellectual saves his life, he’s intrigued. Another woman shows up at his crime scene, and Gabe’s instincts kick into high gear when she clams up. Two cases involving strange women who won’t tell what they know are too coincidental.
If Gabe and Kyra can’t find a way to collaborate, they may not live to see the sunrise. Doomed, like so many others, to become gray, unmarked graves in a forgotten fracture of the Slip Mire.

This is probably my favourite cover out of the two!  There is just something classic about an eye staring at you from a cover!

Find more information about Liesel here:
Her Blogs:
     Musings on Fantasia: http://musingsonfantasia.blogspot.com
     LKHill: http://lkhill.blogspot.com

Her Facebook: facebook.com/lieselkhill

So, what do you think? Don't the covers look great?