Welcome everyone :) Things may be a little slow at the moment as I am in my last few months of school so I am swamped with work and exams but if you had time to leave a comment it would make my day!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Blog Tour: A Small Free Kiss In The Dark by Glenda Millard & Giveaway

Today I would like to welcome Glenda Millard, author of "A Small Free Kiss In The Dark" which deal with war, homelessness, loneliness and finding a place to belong. Glenda has kindly written a guest post about her inspiration.

Inspiration, Meditation and Flying

Whenever I'm asked where I get inspiration from, I'm reminded of the lyrics of the  song, 'Love is in the air'. In my experience so too, is inspiration. For every second of our lives we absorb experiences, details, sights and smells and sounds, soak them up like a sponge without even realising it. But still, sometimes I find the need to get some extra stimulus, to stretch myself.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,
'What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.'
I like that idea and from time to time I decide to do something about finding out what's within me, hopefully something inspirational. I usually try to schedule these finding-out-about-me sessions around the summer holidays. I've tried milking goats so I could make cheese but gave that up fairly quickly. I liked the goats, but not their owner. I resented being told what was wrong with my books while I milked. I turned my hand to making mosaics for a while but couldn't stand the sound the tiles made when I cut them. Making cheese and mosaics gave me some satisfaction but weren't high on the scale of inspiration.

For years I'd been keen to try creating visual art. I wasn't sure why. Maybe I thought it would help me find those hidden things Ralph talked about . This desire manifested itself in all kinds of ways. I assembled lemons in tall, clear, vases and gathered glass marbles in crystal goblets by the window. I arranged polished green apples in individual white china bowls, filled fallen bird's nests with baby blue sugared almonds and embroidered baling-twine hearts on the wire of the hen house.  Summers where I live are always hot and dry, but each year of a six year drought I sewed white muslin sails, threaded them onto bamboo masts and raised them on my crisp brown lawn. But this wasn't real art, I told myself.

So a couple of summers ago I enrolled in a short art course called 'Intuitive Drawing' at the University of Melbourne. I'd left school when I was 15, so my kids joked that I only enrolled so I could say I'd been to university.  

The philosophy of the course was that, in surrendering control, intuitive acts of creativity would emerge. I couldn't have guessed just how hard surrendering was going to be. The facilitator explained that the first part of the lesson each week would be devoted to meditation. For the first five weeks, it was the best part of the course apart from the four hours I spent in the train getting there and going home again. I often get inspiration when I travel by train. The thought came to me that maybe I should have bought  a six week rail pass with my art class money. 

The problem was that I had to draw things in full view of everyone else. It wasn't like writing where I could retain my privacy until I was good and ready to expose my work. My hand wouldn't do what my mind thought it could. What appeared in front of me was not what I had imagined.  Everyone else seemed to do much better and I hated that.

I never took my pictures home. For the first three weeks I pretended to forget them or made lame excuses about not being able to carry them on the train. After that I was persuaded to take them with me - but  they only got  as far as the rubbish bin in the cafeteria.

I kept wondering when someone was going to show us how to make art properly.  When would they talk about what sort of paper and paint we should use and discuss technique and all those other practicalities? It became increasingly clear to me that my expectations of the course were not the reality and that it was never going to be any different.

Then we had a two week break. Enough time to decide if I should hoist the white flag of surrender or bail out.  I reminded myself that my primary motive for enrolling was to find out more about myself. That affirmation seemed to set me free. Two weeks later I was back on the train. From then on the things I created began to please me.

I made a Chinese fishing boat from a large black seed pod and woven reeds.
It had an orange and gold sail made from joss house paper. I named it JUNK. The lecturer didn't get it. And I didn't care.

Then I painted with a cockatoo feather that I found in the bush. I dipped it in the scarlet ink and in the violet and made a sky like the one I saw at my place. And the sea I imagined when I lay on my back watching my white muslin sails fluttering. I painted sails on my seascape and felt a welling up of pure delight. Finally, I was painting with my heart and not my head. I named everything, I signed everything, I took everything home - like a little girl from kindergarten.

And when it was all over and I asked myself what I had discovered, I realised that I use control to protect myself when I'm scared of the unknown. That I worry too much about not being good enough, and about what other people might think of me or my work. But the best thing I leant was that to surrender control, is the antidote for fear, the catalyst for creativity. 

You might ask what all this has to do with writing.  Everything.

In his book, 'Unless It Moves the Human Heart’, Roger Rosenblatt says,
'You go along, telling your story, and it's moving very well and very fast, and then like a glider pilot, you come to a cliff and you have no choice but to soar.'

When I was a little girl I dreamed of flying. I used to stand on the roof of my nana's shed with my arms stretched wide, hoping to catch an updraft. Now I write.  It's frightening to put down those first few words of a new novel not knowing where they'll take me. The feeling's not that much different to that instant when I jumped off Nana's shed.  But when I come to a cliff and soar, it's amazing.


What an inspirational post! Thank you so much for your time Glenda and I hope you all enjoyed it. Go check out some of Glenda's books too :)

Glenda is also giving you the chance to win a copy of A Small Free Kiss In The Dark. Just leave your email address in the comment section below! (UK Only - sorry international followers!)

Monday, 25 April 2011

Review: Babe In Boyland by Jody Gehrman

Babe in Boyland      
Title:Babe in Boyland
Author: Jody Gehrman
Pages: 304
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: February 17th 2011
Source:  Bought

When high school junior Natalie--or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper--is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want.

But the guys in her class won't give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected--especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?

This was a really cute read. It was light hearted, hilarious with lots of romance. What's not to love? If you have seen She's The Man and enjoyed you will love this!

The beginning was a little slow but as soon as Natalie was in the boys school it all kicked off for me. It was full of pranks and uncover missions and just lots and lots of laughs.

I liked Natalie. She was really dedicated, though a little crazy. She just made me laugh. My favourite bits were when her girly tendencies came out when she was Nat. Hilarious. 

Emilio. So hot. I wish he was my room mate. He was not only sexy as hell but he was a genuinely nice guy and you got to learn a lot about him because Nat was a guy when he confided in him. 

The writing was really funny but it was occasionally juvenile at times. Jody definitely got a perfect voice for a teenage girl though.

The ending was sweet and predictable which, from a romance, is always nice. I did like how there were hardships along the way and lots of lessons learnt.

This is a great read if you like romance and comedy. A very quick and sweet read.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Author: Josephine Angelini
Pages: 487
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 31st May 2011
Source:  From Author

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

This book was pure magic. It was a whirlwind of romance, mythology, action. I fell in love with all the characters and the life Josephine created for them.

I loved Helen. She was strong, brave, a romantic and had super duper Greek God powers. How freaking awesome! I loved how we were in the same situation as Helen, experiencing everything with her. Another character I loved was Lucas. The love interest of Helen and boy I wish he was my love interest. So kind and protective. I loved how much he cared for Helen and what he would sacrificial to protect her.

Many of you will know that I adore love hate relationships. This, however, is a refreshing twist on this concept. The Three Fates make Lucas and Helen hate each other (which I didn't get why for ages because I am silly). Once their romance kicks in I was completely hooked. I was most definitely rooting for them to be together. But as always, things aren't so simple for them.

The secondary characters were just as exciting and added a lot to the story. I loved Helen's dad and Cassandra. I was definitely rooting for Claire and Jason (I think that is who I mean). I really felt something for these characters which I think is so important in a book.

The writing was in 3rd person which I'm not usually a fan of but the way it was done still allowed the reader to see into Helen's mind and see what else was going on. Josephine is just a talented writer and has a great way with words. 

The ending is action packed and eventful and as a great novel does, lots of cliffhangers and shocks. There is so much going on before the end that you just know the next book is going to be as good. There is enough suspense to keep you excited and enough closure to tie it up nicely.

I adored the mythological element. I don't know much about greek mythology but it has gotten me so excited. I think I am going to buy some non fiction books on the subject just so I can learn more about it. If a book gets you to learn more then it is a darn good book!

If you love mythology, romance and some action then this is definitely the book for you! A fabulous read.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

    Divergent (Divergent, #1)      
Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Pages: 487
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 28th April 2011
Source:  Review

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

This book kicks mighty butt. It is awesome. Definitely the best dystopian I have read this year, if not ever. It is way up there with The Hunger Games. It was nearly 500 pages but I was so addicted I didn't even notice. It was devoured in two days!

The plot was fantastic. I don't want to give too much away as the summary is very vague but it is full of ass-kicking, action packed awesomeness. It is jam packed and there isn't a dull moment anywhere. There are plenty of secrets, twists and turns.

I loved Tris. She was a great heroine and a wonderful character to look into the mind of. She was headstrong, courageous and powerful and I loved how gutsy she was.

Lets move onto Four. I adored Four. He is my ideal man. Strong, kind but not without fault or fears. I shan't give too much away but I am 99% sure you will all love him too!

The ending is a whirlwind of excitement, thrill and horror. It is action packed and full of shocking revelations. It shocked me, saddened me, made me ecstatic. I was full of so many feelings when the evening came around.

I can tell this book is going to be a huge hit and if you like dystopians you are going to LOVE this. I guarantee it! I cannot wait for the sequel. 

Friday, 22 April 2011

Review: The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan

    The Long Weekend      
Title: The Long Weekend
Author: Savita Kalhan
Pages: 180
Publisher: Anderson Press
Release Date: October 2nd 2008
Source:  Blog Tour

Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive? This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night.

The book address really important issues about child abduction and the risks of getting into a strangers car. It may not be heavily addressed but it definitely brings awareness to such a serious issue. 

I thought the friendship between Sam and Lloyd was lovely. You could really see that Sam cared for Lloyd and he put himself in danger to protect him. For an 11 year old I think that is incredibly courageous.

Despite the young teenage voice (which was done very well) I almost forgot how young they were because of their bravery and determination. Sam especially acts beyond his years whilst Lloyd lost a few. I think this was really effective as it shows how traumatic situations can affect people differently.

The book started off very slow and I felt it remained that way for most of the book. The last third of the book picked up pace and I was really enthralled but it definitely took a lot of staying power to continue to that point. 

I didn't find the book too scary though I see how it could be for younger readers which is who it is targeted towards. I found the concept a lot more creepy that the book itself. 

I did like the ending. Some of it was rather unrealistic but I loved the last chapter and how it closed the book. It concluded it nicely and felt very real.

I did enjoy this book but I personally don't feel it was the book for me. If you like thriller type books then this is probably a book for you! I know a lot of people who have loved it so don't be put off by me necessarily. 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Review: Numbers by Rachel Ward

Title: Numbers
Author: Rachel Ward
Pages: 285
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: January 5th 2009
Source:  Review

Since her mother's death, fifteen-year-old Jem has kept a secret. When her eyes meet someone else's, a number pops into her head - the date on which they will die. Knowing that nothing lasts forever, Jem avoids relationships, but when she meets a boy called Spider, and they plan a day out together, her life takes a new twist and turn. Waiting for the London Eye, she sees everyone in the queue has the same number - something terrible is going to happen.

I was really excited about reading this book. My friend told me about this book a couple of years ago and decided to leak me spoilers. I had forgotten about them before I read the book which I am so pleased about as mystery is a huge part of this book.

It started off extremely slow. It dragged and it dragged. I almost put it down. My friend kept saying it got better so I stuck with it. I am so glad I did. The summary of the back of the book is rather misleading. I thought the London Eye thing was going to be central to the plot but it probably took place in 10 pages, maybe less. After that happened it got better and better. 

I don't want to give anything away so I won't say too much about the plot. It does get very exciting and there are lots of shocking moments. I was gasping and crying plenty towards the end. A lot of things happened I didn't expect. If you have read the book or like spoilers: chapter 18. Oh my freaking god. That is all I have to say.

The book felt so unbelievably British to me. I have never read a book that is so British that after I finished the book it was all I could think about (I am so weird, I know). It also felt like a teenager had written it. It was definitely a teenage voice.

I liked the characters. I didn't always agree with Jem's choices but due to her gift (or curse) I couldn't really blame her. It took a while to warm up to her though but once I did I really felt for her. Spider (despite his ridiculous name) was great. He really brought another element to the book. 

The ending. Oh. My. God. I couldn't believe what just happened. I literally stared at that page for a good five minutes. It was a great ending and a fabulous way to lead onto the second book. 

I started off underwhelmed by the book but once I finished it I wanted to go back and read the book again (though I'd skip the first 50 page). If you like mystery, romance, thriller type books then this is for you. It is a real mix!

Just be warned there is either mention/use of sex, drugs and there is quite a bit of swearing (F**k and sh*t)
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