Tag Archives: Fiction Reviews

Look at these awesome anthologies!

All my friends are metalheads amazing writers, working hard and getting their stories published like the superstars they are!

There’s been a lot of well-deserved successes in my circle of friends lately, so this post is me raising a glass to them and sharing some writers and anthologies you should be looking out for.

And if I’ve missed something, drop me a comment below with your exciting news.

K.C. and Rob are in the Fox Spirit “Piracy” anthology

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Two of my friends and fellow Inkbots, K.C. and Rob, have stories in the upcoming ‘Piracy’ anthology by Fox Spirit. The accepted stories were announced here, and Fox Spirit owner Adele says “I’m really excited about this series and we have great stories taking piracy from a child’s mind, to the high seas and straight onto mind jacking. We have strange beasts and the penalty for stealing dreams.”

It’s part of the Fox Pockets series I mentioned yesterday, a series of reasonably priced pocket-sized books containing around a dozen short stories.

K.C.Shaw’s story is “Skyway”, starring two lady airship pirates in a fascinating steampunk universe. It’s guaranteed to be awesome and I can’t wait to read it.

Rob Haines’ story is “Pieces of 2^3” swings more in the sci-fi direction, putting an exciting new spin on digital piracy.

It looks like there will be many more talented writers involved as well. I’m looking forward to buying this anthology!

Rob is being published in the “Tales of Eve” anthology

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Rob Haines and K.C. are both insanely productive writers, putting my own workflow to shame. Have you seen all the books on K.C.’s site? They all sound amazing! Plus she’s got a short story up on Daily Science Fiction.

I mentioned Rob’s insanely productive, and here’s the proof. The short-story writing pro has another upcoming short in the “Tales of Eve” anthology, also being published by Fox Spirit.

Editor Mhairi said Rob’s story made her cry, so no doubt I’ll be blubbing as well.

Take a look at that cover! It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

John Dixon’s TV Pilot is looking awesome

The TV Pilot for INTELLIGENCE, based on John’s upcoming YA thriller PHOENIX ISLAND, is going well.

Go check out his blog, where there’s all the latest casting news, photos from the set, and a very mysterious image.

Erika’s ready for the end of the world

Erika Beebe is now officially a published author, with her short story  coming out from J. Taylor Publishing later this year. J.Taylor create some fantastic covers and I’m sure this anthology will have a great one too — I’ll share the cover for One More Day, and a short summaries for her story, on May 13, 2013.

PRESS RELEASE: J. Taylor Publishing Signs Seven Authors To One More Day, A YA Anthology To Release December 2, 2013
Six authors to be featured with L.S. Murphy in Young Adult Anthology, One More Day, from J. Taylor Publishing.

J. Taylor Publishing will release One More Day, an anthology of seven short stories written for young adults, with a world’s end theme.

The anthology’s theme, centered around what would happen if ‘tomorrow’ didn’t happen, produced dozens of entries with seven stories selected. “We asked authors to think on a prompt, particularly what happens as characters feel the stop, feel the shift, as they realize, only they know how to make everything go back to normal,” says J. Taylor Publishing.

With a singular theme, one might expect all stories to be “the same”, but in One More Day, the challenge to create something completely unique was met by all authors. From contemporary to paranormal, fantasy to comedy and mixes of multiple genres, each of the seven stories represents the author’s interpretation and method of ensuring the world doesn’t end—somehow, someway.

About Erika Beebe
Inspired by her first grade teacher’s belief in her imagination from the first story she ever wrote, Erika has been a storyteller ever since. A dreamer and an experiencer, she envisions the possibilities in life and writes to bring hope when sometimes the moment doesn’t always feel that way.
Working in the field of public relations and communications for more than ten years, she has always been involved with writing, editing, and engaging others in public speaking.
Her two young children help keep her creativity alive and the feeling of play in the forefront of her mind.

Books in the Post: January 2013

Because time isn’t always on my side when it comes to reading books and writing reviews, here’s a list of some of the awesome books I’ve bought or been sent recently. Despite one of my New Years Resolutions being to read more books from my to-read pile, I couldn’t resist making a few purchases this month. 

And be ‘a few’ I mean ‘so many it’s taken me half a month to write the post about them’.

bookshelf

 

Books

“Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print” by Renni Browne, Dave King. I was in a ‘writing reference book’ kind of mood. It shows.

Write To Be Published” by Nicola Morgan. Recommended to me by the Hi-Arts Work in Progress scheme, and it had been on my to-read list for a while, so I finally bought it.

“The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers” by Betsy Lerner. I’ve been a long-time reader of Betsy’s blog, so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

“Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life” by Lamott, Anne. Not so sure about this because I’ve heard it has some heavy spiritual and Christian leanings to its advice, and I’m not sure how I feel about bringing religion into a craft reference book, but we’ll see how it goes.

“Requiem” (“Delirium Series, Book #3) by Lauren Oliver. Review copy supplied by the publisher. Looks great, but I need to read Pandemonium first.

“Pandemonium” (“Delirium Series, Book #2) by Lauren Oliver.  Bought this so I can read Requiem, reviewed it here.

“Angels’ Blood” by Nalini Singh. Recommended to me on the AbsoluteWrite forums.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. A present from Dave. I CAN FINALLY READ THIS. I’m so excited!

“A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. Another present from Dave. I really want to read this serious, but I’m careful because they seem like a big time commitment.

Comics

“Batman: Hush”, “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” and “Batman: A Death In The Family” A present from Dave. These are very popular Batman comics and I’m looking forward to them, since the Batman comics have some of the best writers in the industry.

“Death Note Vol 2” Another present from Dave. Death Note has some of my favourite manga artwork, it has a really nice realistic edge. “Megatokyo Vol 4” and “Watchmen” Dave was on an absolute present buying spree last month. He knows how to make a bookworm happy. 🙂

“Saga” by Fiona Staples, Brian K Vaughan. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. I read this last month, and it’s already one of the best comics I’ve read in a while.

On Kindle

“Teeth” by Hannah Moskowitz. I’ve had this one on pre-order for months, and it’s finally out!

“Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry. I hadn’t noticed this book because of the terrible Kindle edition cover, but the plot sounds really good.

“Life Of Pi” by Yann Martel. I have this in hardback already, but for 20p I thought I might as well pick up a Kindle copy.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Bought this so I could join in with Crash Course Literature but I don’t think I’m going to be able to get round to it anytime soon. 🙁

“The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson” by Emily Dickinson. Same as the above, a Crash Course book.

Jeez, I really got a lot of books last month. February definitely won’t be as crazy.

Best Book of January!

Today, for their Road Trip Wednesday question for bloggers, YA Highway asked: What’s the best book you’ve read this January?

Oooh, tough one when you look at everything I read last month…

I’m going to discount all the comics, which narrows it down to Pandemonium, Seraphina, and Teeth. Seraphina and Teeth are my clear favourites, but if I had to pick one… it’d be Seraphina.

It’s just such a fun, refreshing YA fantasy, (whereas Teeth was a very dark read and quite ruthless with the emotions). My review should be up tomorrow!

TeethSeraphinaBatman: Year OneSaga, Vol. 1PandemoniumBatman: A Death in the FamilySoul Eater NOT!, Vol. 1Soul Eater NOT!, Vol. 2

Emma Maree Reviews: Pandemonium

pandemoniumBook: Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver

Series: Delirium, Book #2

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Sci Fi/Dystopian/Romance

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and fame.
 
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

I love that title, even though I always feel like it needs an exclamation. Pandemonium! It’s such a great word:

pandemonium [ˌpændɪˈməʊnɪəm]

n

1. wild confusion; uproar
2. a place of uproar and chaos

[coined by Milton to designate the capital of hell in Paradise Lost, from pan- + Greek daimōn demon]
pandemoniac , pandemonic [ˌpændɪˈmɒnɪk] adj

I’ve had a complicated relationship so far with Lauren Oliver. While I loved her debut, “Before I Fall”, and the concept of “Delirium”, the actual book left me flat due to it’s confusing ending.  I also get grumpy about the UK cover redesigns, though “Pandemonium” and upcoming final book “Requiem” have much nicer covers and I’ve actually grown to like them and how they fit in with the “Before I Fall” cover.

Thankfully, “Pandemonium” was full of pleasant surprises. It’s a much tighter-written and ambitious book than “Delirium” was, alternating between the past and the present as Lena adjusts to a hard, scraping-for-survival life in the unregulated Wilds outside the city (‘before’) and sneaks into New York City to tail the son of the president of Deliria-Free America, an organisation that viciously promotes the idea that love is a disease and the only safe humans are those ‘cured’ by a lobotomy-like procedure (‘after’).

Lena is a stronger person, even as she deals with her grief over “Delirium”‘s events realistically, and she’s a much more enjoyable character to follow this time round. Oliver also expands the world laid out in the previous novel, taken it from a sketched-out dystopia into a realistic future society with a lot of moral grey areas.

The scenery descriptions are nicely done, though occasionally repetitive (snow seems to crackle a lot in the Wilds), and the new characters introduced are varied and feel like they have a lot of depth to them. The two story lines also alternated nicely, with very little opportunity for confusion, up until the merging point which felt a bit unclearly defined.

I’m very happy with how “Pandemonium” turned out. While a lot of middle trilogy books can be weak and plotless, “Pandemonium” is miles stronger than “Delirium” and restored my faith in Lauren Oliver’s writing. I’ll be looking forward to reading and reviewing “Requiem” closer to its March release date.

I bought a copy of this novel myself for personal reading, but I’ll note that Hodder & Stoughton have previously provided me with review copies of “Delirium” and “Requiem” in exchange for honest reviews.

Books in the Post: September

Because time isn’t always on my side when it comes to reading books and writing reviews, here’s a list of some of the awesome books I’ve bought or been sent recently.

Above, we’ve got:

A red moleskine sketchbook: These hardy, reliable things are what I use to jot down writing ideas when away from my PC. This one’s a present to myself because I’ve filled up my black one. This was purchased by myself.

“What’s Left of Me” by Kat Zhang: This was a prize for winning the contest over at Once Upon a Bookcase! Can’t wait to read this.

“On The Day I Died”: A short story collection, just in time for Halloween. This copy was unsolicited, sent by Random House.

“Witch Crag” by Kate Cann: Another unsolicited book, sent by Scholastic. Absolutely gorgeous cover.

“Noughts & Crosses” series by Malorie Blackman: I requested these books (recently updated with new covers) from Random House and I can’t wait to start reading them! Did you hear the drama over the racism in the “Save the Pearls” book? N&C has a similar concept, but executed properly.

“Tiger’s Destiny” by Colleen Houck: Unsolicited copy sent by Scholastic. I have the whole series of these, and their cover art is fantastic, but for some reason I haven’t picked them up to read yet…

I’ve also had a very e-heavy month, buying all the following for myself:

“Mockingbird” by Chuck Wendig, “Zoo City” by Lauren Beukes, “Empire State” by Adam Christopher and “The Alchemist of Souls” by Anne Lyle: Angry Robot’s e-book store had a buy-one-get-one-free offer on, which I gleefully took advantage of to tick a few books off my to-buy list.

“Angel Dust” by Sarah Mussi: I have a publisher-crush on Hot Key Books (and Angry Robot, in case you didn’t notice) so I’ve been picking up a lot of their work to read. These is a great urban fantasy novel set in the heart of London.

“The God Engines” by John Scalzi. One day I will get round to reading a Scalzi novel. One day.

“Leviathan” Series by Scott Westerfeld. Lots of fun, I need to get round to writing a proper review of this trilogy.

Emma Maree Reviews: Dear Agent

Book: Dear Agent by Nicola Morgan

Genre: Non-Fiction/Writing Advice

You’ve written the best book you can and you believe there are readers for it, but how do you persuade an agent or publisher to take it on? The first thing they will see is your letter or email and this short document must sell your book, make it stand out from the crowd, make it (and you) desirable.

Dear Agent contains detailed expert advice, covering the best structure for your letter, what to put in (and what to leave out), the answers to the questions writers ask, and all the horrible mistakes to avoid. Make your book stand out for all the right reasons.

This is a sister book to Write A Great Synopsis, but this time the focus is on UK-style covering letters to help you net a UK agent. UK covering letters are a lot more laid back than US queries (by which I mean you won’t get instantly rejected dun dun duuun if it’s not perfect) but they’re still important enough to stress writers out.

“Dear Agent” is a short, sweet, and to-the-point read that covers all the important questions, such as should I mention multiple books, being rejected, my pets, or that my mum liked it…

It also pays special attention to the tricky bits: that dreaded hook, how to write the bio section even if nothing very interesting has happened to you, and how to inject a bit of personality into the letter. It covers both fiction and non-fiction, multiple Points of View, and other sticky situations that can make the thought of summing it up in a letter more nerve-wracking than it needs to be.

If you’re new to the submission process, or trying out the UK system for the first time after submitting in the US, then this is a great starting point. Authors who’ve been submitting in the UK or US will already be familiar with a lot of the advice, but the tips are still useful no matter how long you’ve been wading in the query trenches.

Laini Taylor’s DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT UK Cover Reveal!

The cover for the UK hardback of Laini Taylor’s “Days of Blood and Starlight” (sequel to “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”) has been revealed:

I really enjoyed “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”, which has had some interesting cover redesigns.

But honestly, I’m not really feeling it with this cover. I much prefer the US cover set:

It’s not going to stop me picking this book up, because DoS&B was one of my favourite reads last year.

Readers, I’m curious — what do you think of the cover?

Emma Maree Reviews: Good Omens

Book: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

An angel (who owns a bookstore) and a demon (who owns a Bentley) work together to try and stop Armageddon, while a witch hunter and a witch do the same, using prophecies that are hundreds of years old. The Anti-Christ grows up in a small English village. That’s about the size of it.

Just in case you’re new to this blog: Hi, I’m Emma. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are two of my favourite authors. My review of this book is unlikely to surprise you. Okay, now that’s over with…

I loved this book.

The entire cast is amazing, from the Horsemen of the Apocalypse (with a badass, redheaded journalist starting wars everywhere she steps), the book-loving angel Aziraphale (“gayer than a treeful of monkeys on nitrous oxide”) and the demon Crowley (“An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards”).

Strangely enough, my favourite character wasn’t the dark-humored but kind-hearted demon Crowley. It was a much more minor character, the humble package delivery man who loyally brings packages to help bring about the end of the World.

If you’re a fan of either or both author, pick this up ASAP and find out what you’ve been missing.

 

Road Trip Wednesday: Which Divergent Faction Are You?

Today, for their Road Trip Wednesday question for bloggers, YA Highway asked: What Faction Are You? In honor of their Book of the Month, Veronica Roth’s INSURGENT, we want to know which of the five factions in the DIVERGENT series would you choose? Here’s a great breakdown of the five factions, and if you’re on the fence, you can even take the quiz for a hint!

This one was a clear-cut choice for me.

  • Back when I reviewed Divergent, I had trouble putting myself in the reckless, foolhardy Dauntless group’s shoes, so  clearly don’t have the balls (or the lacking brain cells ;P) for that.
  • I focus a lot on my own goals (WRITING WRITING WRITING) so I’m too self-centered for the selfless Abnegation.
  • The quiz gave me Candor, and while I do love small doses blunt honesty I think I’d hate their tactless methods of deploying it.
  • Erudite, land of the bookworms and intellects, is the one calling to my inner Ravenclaw self. But they focus on reading non-fiction, and my passion lies with fiction.
  • So it was a clear-cut choice: Amity, the soft touches who think friendship will solve everyone’s problems. They’re basically the hippy faction, but they’re also the only faction that encourages the creation of art. And without art, I’d go mad very fast.

Now I really want to go read Insurgent…

 

Emma Maree Reviews “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”

If you’ve been reading much Young Adult fiction lately, you’ll be familiar with love triangles. You might even be sick of them. But “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”, a standalone contemporary novel by “Fallen” series author Lauren Kate, deals with that problem in an unusual way – the secondary love interest, green-eyed Justin, is dead. Not zombie-dead or vampire-dead. In-the-ground, exit-stage-left dead. This doesn’t stop him haunting every corner of the book, completely outshining Natalie’s own boyfriend Mike.

Natalie Hargrove is Lauren Kate’s smartest and darkest protagonist yet. A small town Southern girl born on the wrong side of the tracks, in the wrong trailer park, she’s spent years plotting her way into the richer side of town. She’s gained a hot, rich boyfriend and a place at the top of elite Palmetto high school’s social ladder. Then she accidentally kills Justin, the gorgeous green-eyed reminder of all her past mistakes. Now her relationship, her social status, and her carefully-crafted life depends on making sure the police don’t find out she’s behind it.

The American high school culture is fairly extreme compared to British schools, but easy enough to adapt into if you’ve seen enough American movies. I wasn’t a huge fan of the plot – it gets off to a quiet start, setting up the stakes well, but the climatic scene felt awkward and unnatural. I’m also getting really tired of conveniently physic friends.

Where this book really shines is as an example of a strong character ‘voice’. Natalie is my favourite of Kate’s characters so far, way above Lucinda Price from Fallen. The first person writing lets you know the reasons behind her occasionally cruel actions, and little details are picked up that only she would pick up: first their fashion sense, then the state of their hair and how it could be improved, then their eyes and make-up or accessories. Lauren’s also good at using her environment to bring out character details – check out how she blends a bit of family back story with a description of Mike’s mother:

“from the seamless skin around Diana’s eyes when she smiled […] it was obvious someone had discovered the perks of having a son with an endless supply of botox.”

Oh, and that cover? Not bad at all, fits perfectly with Lauren Kate’s other books and does a great job working in the main character’s fondness for the colour purple. A huge improvement on the original American cover. The new American cover is better, but I think the UK one fits with “Fallen” and “Torment” much more smoothly.

“Betrayal” is a short read, but definitely worth picking up if you enjoyed Lauren Kate’s other books “Fallen” or “Torment”, or the portrayals of popularity in books like Lauren Oliver’s “Before I Fall” and Chuck Palahniuk’s “Invisible Monsters”.

Disclaimer: The copy used in this review was won in a competition run by Random House.

Click here to read my review of Lauren Kate’s paranormal romance, “Fallen”.