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Four books I can’t wait to read (by Charity Bradford, Su Williams, Rachel Morgan & Lauren Oliver)

I thought I’d get a lot more reading done on maternity leave than what I am. I guess I assumed I’d have a baby that would sleep longer than 20-40 minutes at a time during the day! Little Mackenzie definitely keeps me busy, that’s for sure. Here’s a recent photo of my little dictator. 😉

12 weeks old

Mackenzie, 12 weeks old

There are a heap of books that I’m looking forward to reading, but these four are at the top of the list.

The Magic Wakes by Charity Bradford 

16052411Since childhood, scientist Talia Zaryn has been haunted by recurring dreams, visions of an alien attack on her planet Sendek. Each time it ends abruptly with Talia’s death in the capital city Joharadin, a city that she has spent her life desperately avoiding. Talia keeps these dreams a secret, hoping they are nothing more than childish nightmares. But when she is unexpectedly transferred to Joharadin she is convinced that the conflict, and her own death, is at hand.

As Talia’s nightmares occur with increasing frequency, they reveal the imminent invasion of a half-dragon, half-human race called Dragumon, bent on the annihilation of her world.

In Sendek, magic is dead and science rules, forcing Talia to keep another secret, one that could cost her everything if it were known. Now, in order to save her planet, Talia must awaken the powers within her and rely at last on the magic that is her true inheritance.

Those of you who know my reading tastes well would know this book isn’t my usual cup of tea. I usually steer clear of fantasies set on other planets, especially those than involve dragons. But I’ve read so much about ‘the making of’ this book (on the author’s blog) and I think it’s going to be the exception. Who knows, maybe it will even open the door to a newfound love of fantasy? Time will tell!

Dream Weaver by Su Williams

17205213Dream Weaver is a novel of mind benders and breakers. Are your memories your own?

I wasn’t asking for a past. Not even a future. Just a few less painful memories to make surviving the present a bit more bearable.

Seventeen year old Emari Sweet has a world of choices before her. Her parents are real estate investors that dote on their beloved daughter. Her only true worries are bullying cheerleaders and cookie cutter kids that harass her for her dark and different, emo ways and the cryptic messages in her music. So when her parents are killed in a car crash, Emari’s whole world implodes around her. Night terrors stalk her sleep and haunt her through each day. And only the dream of a dark-eyed stranger can draw out the poison of the chimera.

Just as she’s recovering from the toxic dreams, treading water to stay afloat, the violent nudge of a predator reawakens the terrors. He promises her two things; pain and fear. And on a snowy December night he makes good on his promises. Emari plunges head first into her personal hell and begins to feel there is no choice left to her but death–if only to escape the torture of grief.
As the nightmares once again shred her life, Emari’s dark-eyed angel returns. With the touch of his hand, he chases away her dreams and weaves magic that quiets the roiling terror within her.

But is this a real angel or something more sinister? Is he simply a figment of her distorted imagination? How does he capture her nightmares and soothe her aching heart? Why does he whisper a single word, ‘forget’, and evanesce into the cool grey mist of morning? And how is he entering her home that’s protected by a state-of-the-art alarm system?

This book sounds full on. Dark, mysterious, and – hopefully – gripping. The possibility of your memories not being your own – that’s what grabs me most about this book. Plus, the author has been a loyal follower of my blog for a while now and I’m really happy to see her taking the self publishing plunge!

The Faerie Prince (Creepy Hollow 2) by Rachel Morgan

[Warning: the blurb below contains minor spoilers of the first book in the series.]

THE FAERIE PRINCE (Creepy Hollow 2)Guardian trainee Violet Fairdale is just weeks away from one of the most important occasions of her life: graduation. After messing up big time by bringing a human into the fae realm, Vi needs to step up her game and forget about Nate if she hopes to graduate as the top guardian of her year. Everything would be fine if she wasn’t forced to partner with Ryn, her ex-friend, ex-enemy, current ‘sort of friend’. They might be trying to patch up their relationship, but does she really want to spend a week undercover with him for their final assignment? On top of that, the possibly-insane Unseelie Prince is still on the loose, free to ‘collect’ as many specially talented faeries as he can find—and Vi is still at the top of his list. Add in faerie queens, enchanted storms, complicated not-just-friends feelings, and a murder within the Guild itself, and graduation is about to become the least of Vi’s problems.

I really enjoyed The Faerie Guardian, the first in the Creepy Hollow series, and will probably re-read it before I dive into The Faerie Prince so that the story is fresh in my mind. The blurb above makes me really excited to see where Part 2 takes the story, although I’ll be gutted if Vi falls for Ryn! The Faerie Prince is released 30 May so I have a bit of time to get through my other to-reads first!

Requiem (Delirium 3) by Lauren Oliver

Requiem cover

[Warning: the blurb below contains spoilers of the first two books in the series.]

Battling against a society in which love has been declared a disease, Lena now finds herself at the centre of a fierce revolution. But the Wilds are no longer the haven they once were as the government seeks to stamp out the rebels. And Lena’s emotions are in turmoil following the dramatic return of someone she thought was lost forever…

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Lena and her best friend Hana, Requiem brings the Delirium trilogy to an exhilarating end and showcases Lauren Oliver at the height of her writing powers – emotionally powerful and utterly enthralling.

I recently re-read Delirium and I’m halfway through re-reading Pandemonium so that I’m back up to speed with this series before I jump into the third and final instalment, Requiem. And now I know that the book alternates between Lena and Hana as narrators, I’m even more excited to read it as Hana is one of my favourite characters in the series. I have some predictions about what will happen in this book so I’ll be interested to see if they come true (like they did in Pandemonium), or whether the author completely surprises me (like she did with Delirium).

How about you?

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? If not, do they take your fancy? What’s at the top of your to-read list?

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The Big Smoke soundtrack, IWSG, early reader reactions and a competition idea…

The Big Smoke soundtrack

In the seventh stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting over at Charity’s Writing Journey about the soundtrack to The Big Smoke. Here’s a sneak peak…

Like many authors, I often use music to help get me into the right mood when I’m writing. I used this technique frequently when writing my debut novel, The Big Smoke, which is told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Seb and Ceara. Interestingly, I could only ever listen to music where the lead singer was the same gender as the character. (Strange, I know!). Read more…

The Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) and some early reader reactions to The Big Smoke 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

You might remember that as part of IWSG a few months ago, I posted about a fear I had. It went something like this:

“Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.”

Well, I’m pleased to say that hasn’t happened yet. I do have a slight fear that they’re still coming, but some lovely reviews from early readers have helped to set my mind at ease. I thought I might share some snippets of these reviews with you. (Note: each of these reviewers received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson“I’m going to be honest here and say that originally I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this. I wasn’t sure it was going to be “my thing” by the blurb. For that reason, it means a lot more when I say I REALLY enjoyed this… Cally did a wonderful job digging into some deep emotional topics in a realistic and believable way.” Charity Bradford (read the rest of Charity’s review)

“I received an Advanced Reader Edition of Cally Jackson’s debut novel, and I read it in just a few days. It was THAT good… The Big Smoke is a complex look into the lives of college freshman that tackles issues of body image disorder… abandonment, sex, relationships, and loss. This is a great book, and you would do good to read it for yourself.” Michael Offutt (read the rest of Michael’s review)

“Relationships, romance, drama, humour, heartbreak, coming of age–this book has a lot packed into it! It’s a long book. Not long in a this-story-is-dragging-on-forever-I-wish-it-would-end kinda way. No, no, no. Long in a I-scored-two-awesome-books-in-one kinda way!!” Rachel Morgan (read the rest of Rachel’s review)

“This book sneaks up on you, grabs you by the throat, and doesn’t let you go until the last page… The Big Smoke boldly sets itself against the current trend of shallow character development and over reliance on plot. What the reader finds instead is an organic development of connections, entanglements and emotional high stakes, which provide much food for imaginative reflection.” Mari Webb (read the rest of Mari’s review)

“I don’t normally review books, and if I was going to review a book it would have to be one I was crazy in love with. THE BIG SMOKE definitely didn’t disappoint… What I loved most about this book was how distinct Seb’s and Ceara’s voices were. Sometimes with books written from a multiple POV it’s very hard to differentiate bewteen the charcaters, but in Cally’s novel the voices were not only very different but very authentic.”  Tracey Joseph (read the rest of Tracey’s review)

How awesome is that?! I’m so unbelievably happy that The Big Smoke is connecting with readers – which leads nicely into the next topic I wanted to cover…

A competition idea – 50 Amazon reviews for a $50 book voucher 

So many people say that reviews  are one of the driving factors behind a book’s success. And while I’ve been overjoyed to receive the reviews I have, so many other people have dropped me a line on Facebook, Twitter or email to say how much they enjoyed The Big Smoke, but they don’t get around to actually reviewing it (which I totally understand – writing a review take time and mental energy).  However, I thought maybe I offered up a little incentive, they’d decide it was worth their while!

It’s still just an idea at this stage, and I’m keen to hear your thoughts about it. Here’s a bit more info about what I’m thinking:

  • Reviews do NOT have to be positive. Anyone who takes the time to write a considered review of 100 words or more can enter.
  • People do not have to have a blog to enter. Reviews are to be posted on Amazon (as well as anywhere else people would like to post them) so ANYONE can enter.
  • The winner can choose which book seller they would like to receive their $50 gift voucher from (as long as I can buy it from Australia).
  • I will set a time limit of six months on the competition. If I don’t receive 50 reviews in six months, the competition will be cancelled.
  • People who have already posted reviews on Amazon will be automatically entered into the competition so they’re not ruled out for being my early supporters.

I’m quite excited by the idea because I LOVE hearing the reactions that The Big Smoke has prompted from people, even if they’re not so glowing! There are a few risks though. These are the ones that immediately spring to mind:

  • Am I just asking for negative reviews by putting this out there?
  • Although I will be very clear that all reviews (as long as they don’t contravene Amazon’s guidelines) are eligible to win, perhaps it could come across like I’m trying to solicit positive reviews.

So… what do you think? Good idea? Terrible idea? Considerations or other angles I haven’t thought of? I’m really keen to hear your thoughts.

And don’t forget to check out The Big Smoke soundtrack over at Charity Bradford Writes!

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Filed under blog tour, Competitions, Insecure Writers Support Group, The Big Smoke, Writing