Winter Vacation TBR

As fun and amazing as reviewing the Durban International Film Festival has been, I’m really looking forward to returning to my regular reviews (I promise to post reviews of my DIFF 2016 movies soon). I’m especially excited since my birthday is on July 1st and I’m planning a big book splurge. After all it isn’t everyday that you turn 21. Here are the books I’m most excited to read for my winter vacation:

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LOCAL IS LEKKER

Like I said above, I’m planning a huge birthday book splurge. However some of my favourite local authors have made my splurge plans super-easy by giving me ARCs. The local books I’m excited to read are:

1) “A Faerie’s Revenge” and “A Faerie’s Curse” by Rachel Morgan: I love the Creepy Hollow world and the first book in this part of the series (“A Faerie’s Secret”) had a heartbreaking cliffhanger. I literally couldn’t sleep after reading it and I’m dying to find out how it ends.

2) “Refuse” by Joanne Macgregor: The first book in this series, “Recoil” also ended on a cliffhanger so I’m eager to see this. I also love the main guy in this book. He’s Irish. Which I’ve mentioned before but whatever. I love the Irish. That accent *swoon*

3) Guardians of Summerfield series by Melissa Delport: I love love love the world-building in this series and the boxset was recently discounted on Amazon. I know Melissa had her reasons for discounting the boxset but I really feel like she did it for me. Obviously the book universe approves of my birthday book plans. Needless to say this is my birthday present to myself.

Work in Progress (AKA Books I Started Reading and Abandoned for Exams)
1) The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead: I was enjoying this book until I read a negative review which put me off this book completely. I’d love to finish reading it.

2) The Winner’s Curse by Maria Rutkoski: This was another book that I was really enjoying. I’m not too fond of the main characters though who obviously have an attraction between them but don’t seem to do anything about it.

3) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: I have no idea why I haven’t finished this book when I loved this series so much. Stephanie Perkins writes such amazing character. Etienne St Clair is boyfriend goals (and I say that despite my hate for using the term “goals”).

Fiction Friday: Interview With Leslie Welch

Leslie Welch is the author behind “The Goodbyes”, a novel that is equally heartwarming and heart-wrenching. I caught up with her to find out more about the beautifully moving book.

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1) Tell us a bit more about yourself

I’m the person at the grocery store who holds up the checkout line because the cashier is telling me her life story. I’m only half-joking. I’m a listener, a connector, and an intense observer of life. But I’m also a textbook Leo: a little wild, dramatic, and a natural leader. It’s probably a strange combination for an author, but it works for me. I love being on the water–especially in a sailboat. I’m a huge foodie. And I’ll drink coffee until my jaw clenches from caffeine intoxication. 

2) How did you come up with the idea for “The Goodbyes”?

I was driving to my childhood home in Pittsburgh. If you don’t live where you grew up, going home can be a surreal experience, at least it is for me. A lot of people that I grew up with still live in the area. Anytime I go back, I end up seeing someone from high school. Sometimes it’s amazing, and other times? Not so much. 

It’s a four hour drive from D.C. to my mom’s house. After the first two hours of the drive, I started to get lonely and bored, so I decided to do some creative exercises. I started daydreaming that I was a rock star going home. I made the fantasy a little more interesting. I was going home to see the guy who inspired all my songs. And then, I brought in the big conflict–he was dying. I couldn’t wait to start writing! I decided to write the story from a male perspective to challenge myself.

3) What sort of research did you do while writing “The Goodbyes”?

Some of the situations in the book are inspired by real-life events. Before I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a musician. I even dropped out of college for a semester to focus on music. 

I’m lucky to know people who do really cool things. I interviewed my friends who have toured with their bands. I went backstage at big shows. I sat in on recording sessions.

I also did a lot of research on celebrated musicians; I watched interviews and read memoirs. And, although I’ve been to Glen Hope and the surrounding coal towns, I spent a lot of time on Google Maps “driving” my little yellow Google guy around.

4) What was the best part of writing “The Goodbyes”? Was there a specific scene or an aspect of writing the book that was particularly memorable?

I loved writing the ending. The original ending was good, but, as Charlotte would say, it didn’t “make my scalp shiver.” The night before I was supposed to turn the manuscript over to my editor, I had a last-minute bolt of inspiration. I stayed up all night rewriting the ending. It’s my favorite part of the book now. I can’t imagine Webb’s story ending any other way.

5) Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?

I used to imagine that when writers typed “the end” they were done. In reality, that’s only the beginning. Pristine prose doesn’t flow out of our fingers on the first try. It takes a lot of work to get it right after the first draft. 

Writing is a partnership between creators and editors. Most writers are not masters of the English language. We struggle with punctuation (seriously, let’s not talk about my comma issues). We get to take credit in the byline, but we don’t create the magic alone.

6) What sort of books do you usually read?

Right now, collections of short stories are filling up my Kindle. I try to read a lot of different genres. For a while, I was obsessed with biographies about actresses from the golden age of Hollywood. I love Young Adult novels. There’s something comforting about tapping into a time of life that seems full of possibilities–where you’re not assaulted by the mundane details of adulthood like interviewing contractors to replace your roof. 

7) Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

I can’t take credit for this wisdom, but here’s some of the best advice I’ve collected over the years:

• Don’t edit until the first draft is done. Make notes if you must. The first draft is supposed to be a disaster. If you get bogged down chasing perfection, you won’t finish. Embrace the mess–fix it later.

• If you’re writing for insta-fame, you’re doing it wrong. 

• Write something you want to read. If you think it’s too weird for the world, you’re doing it right.

• Connect with other writers. Follow them on Twitter. Build your community; you’ll need them. 

• Eliminate passive voice with a vengeance. Search your document for the verb “to be” in all forms. Analyze each sentence and rewrite as many as you can.

• Read your dialogue out loud. 

• Reject the rejection, but consider the criticism. If someone’s telling you there are issues with your story, take a step back and try to see it from their perspective. 

• Throw in a 180 degree twist if you don’t know where else to go.

8) The characters in “The Goodbyes” are very real and flawed. Personally I’d love to see more of them. Do you have any plans for a sequel?

(*blushes) I’ve been thinking about writing Charlotte’s story. She’s my favorite character in this book and was so much fun to write. One piece of trivia: TempFive makes a cameo in my next book. 

9) What can we expect from you in the future?

I have four books in different stages of chaos. Currently, I’m rewriting my first novel–a YA Urban Fantasy that I wrote with my best friend. The working title is Tandem. 

It’s the story of a rebellious auto heiress who discovers she’s half extra-dimensional. When she starts her junior year of high school, her family declares bankruptcy and the guy she loves becomes a monk—literally. On top of that, she has to worry about trying not to blow things up with her emerging powers and it’s really getting in the way of her social life. We’re aiming for a late 2017 release. 

As soon as the final draft of Tandem is in the hands of our editor, I’ll tackle another Women’s Fiction project that I started a few months ago about a Congressional staffer who quits her job and leaves her boyfriend of four years (because he can’t commit). I’m really excited to see where her story goes.

You can order a pre-order copy of “The Goodbyes” from Amazon or Barnes and Noble

How to Get Over a Book Hangover

The first time I ever got a book hangover, I was 13 and the book was “Breaking Dawn”. I was young so I had no idea why I missed the book so much and my feelings made no sense to me (or anyone else). Now I’ve gained more book-hangover-experience and can deal with it (sort of). Here are my tips for dealing with a book hangover:

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1) Have a back-up book(s): Always have a book or books that you want to read once you’re done with your current read. This way you can easily jump into another book-world instead of sitting around and moping when your book is finished.

2) Binge-read an entire series: For me I find a sure way to NOT suffer a book hangover is to read an entire series. This is especially helpful if you’re reading work by an author who is known for giving her readers hangovers.

3) Write about it: Writing about your feelings on the book may help you feel better. I usually go on a Twitter or Facebook rant about my latest read and my friends and followers have accepted this small bit of strangeness.

4) Check the internet and social media for fan-art and fanfiction: This is great if you’re reading a really popular book or series. Tumblr is great for fan-art and other genius pieces of work by fans.

How do you get over a book hangover? What was the last book that gave you a hangover?

5 Lessons Learnt from Gossip Girl

It’s been…a really long time since Gossip Girl ended (sorry but I can’t count the actual time because it will make me cry like a baby). The lessons the show has taught us however will last forever. Much like Blair and Chuck’s romance (or so we hope). Here are 5 lessons from Gossip Girl.

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1) If your boyfriend cheats on you, do NOT take him back. It doesn’t matter if he’s hot. It doesn’t matter if he says he won’t speak to the other girl again,DO NOT TAKE HIM BACK.

2) You’re not a stop along the way, you’re a destination- Kinda ironic that the woman who said this took her cheating boyfriend back but I’ll try not to judge.

3) “Friends” are fickle but friends are forever- Despite Blair and Serena’s many ups and downs they were (usually) always there for each other. Blair’s minions however were a let-down time and time again. Anyone remembers how they attached themselves to Serena in season one when she decided she wanted to be a bad girl again?

4) You don’t always get what you want but that’s okay – Am I the only one who cried when Blair didn’t get into Yale? I was as heartbroken as she was. After all, if the Queen Bee couldn’t get into her dream school, what did that say about the rest of us? That episode taught me that things in life may not always go as planned but it doesn’t mean you should give up.

5) Always dress your best- The fashion on Gossip Girl was one of my favourite things about the show. The characters wore amazing outfits and they wore them with confidence.

What lessons did you learn from Gossip Girl?

A Change in My Usual Reviewing Schedule

My University runs a “Student Media Lab” where students get the opportunity to attend the Durban International Film Festival and review their movies. I’m excited to announce that this year I’m one of the students. I haven’t attended any screenings yet but I have picked up a very cute media pass as well as a media pack.

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Look. I'm finally a member of the media!

The Durban International Film Festival showcases a variety of films from feature films and short movies to documentaries. The first movie I’m watching is “Alison” by Uga Carlini. “Alison” tells the real-life story of Alison Botha who was raped, brutally stabbed and left for dead.
Unfortunately since my mother has just come out of the hospital after a shoulder replacement, I won’t be attending too many screenings. However, if you’re a fan of film I suggest you get a DIFF programme ASAP and start booking for some of the movies. They all look great!

Have you attended DIFF before? Will you be attending this year? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Fiction Friday: Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin

Fairytale Beginnings
Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really was like a fairytale. I adored it! There’s romance, mystery and if it were a Disney movie there would be more than a few catchy songs. This book is dream for anyone who enjoys fairytales. There’s a curse, there’s references to Disney movies (um, have you SEEN the quote from Frozen? Love is an open door?)
I was incredibly sad when this book ended as the characters were so colourful and creative. This book is interesting, well-written, gripping and funny. This would also make for a great series.

View all my reviews

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Still reeling from the horrific deeds of book one, I was glad to return to this world (what? You thought I was going to talk about Feyre? No. I’m scarred for life from what she did to save Tamlin. And apparently so is she).
Feyre is suffering the after-effects of the horrors she has faced to save Tamlin. This ruins what should be her happy ending. After all she and Tamlin can now be together for eternity. But before that happens, Feyre has to face her demons. And deal with Rhysand and the bargain she has made with him.
I think that the tone of this book was much different from the first one but I really did enjoy it even more. My only problem was with the ending. While it isn’t exactly a cliffhanger ending, it is an ending that leaves the reader waiting more. This book took me too long to finish so eventually I woke up at 3AM one morning just to see how it ended. And then I said some very bad words. So be warned- this book is great, it has the darkness we know and love, it has romance but it also is very long with an ending that will definitely make you long for the next book.

View all my reviews

 

Purchase a copy of A Court of Mist and Fury from Readers Warehouse

Book Buzz: 5 Must-Read Books That You’ve Probably Already Heard Of

Sometimes a book that has been talked about isn’t that great. It’s just a book with a huge marketing budget. But sometimes a book really does live up to it’s hype. Some of those really popular books that I’ve enjoyed are listed below.

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1) The Wrath and The Dawn series by Renée Ahdieh- Great writing, a strong female protagonist and incredibly world-building are just some of the aspects of this series. There’s a beautiful romance as well as fairytales that I adored.

2) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas- A fae retelling of Beauty and The Beast, I was gripped by this book (and it’s sequel). I’m so thrilled with this book that I now spend my days searching the web to find people currently reading the series so that I may cheer them on with over-enthusiastic comments about how amazing this book is. Like The Wrath and The Dawn series, this has a strong female lead with excellent world-building. Unlike The Wrath and The Dawn, this is a much darker story but I loved every second of it.

3) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas- If you read A Court of Thorns and Roses, this is what it’ll be like on steroids. A Court of Mist and Fury is unbelievably better. I don’t know how that’s possible because the first book was my everything but this one just blows my mind. It’s darker and more intense with surprises at every turn.

4) The List by Siobhan Vivian- another book that I’m obsessed with is The List. Every year a list is released of the prettiest and ugliest girls in the school. Their reactions are recorded in this book. As a girl who had something like this done (in primary school!!!), this novel is especially close to my heart.

5) Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn- Mercedes has an unusual after-school hobby. She helps young males learn how to give their girlfriends a perfect “first time”. Mercedes sees this as a favour to the other girls because she wants them to have the special experience she never did. This book was mysterious and thrilling (I cannot say more on that) and I enjoyed it immensely.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you think there’s a book or series that I missed out? I’d love to know (I’m soo behind on my book news). Feel free to leave a comment below.

Fiction Friday: More Than You Know (The Harrisons #1) by Jennifer Gracen

More Than You Know (The Harrisons, #1)
More Than You Know by Jennifer Gracen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know you’ve picked up a jewel when you pick up a Jennifer Gracen novel. This book had a beautiful blend of romance, drama and dysfunctional families (the latter two being two of my weak points when it comes to romance novels). Dane is looking for a singer for his new hotel. When he finds Julia she is perfect. Both for the job and for him. However Julia has a dark past of her own that refuses to let her get close to anyone. I loved that this book had two characters that were so alike in such different ways. This book is well-written and interesting. The characters are real, there’s enough tension to keep you constantly turning the pages and there’s a beautiful ending.

View all my reviews

Waiting on Wednesday: Bay of Sighs (The Guardians Trilogy #2) by Nora Roberts

I have a weakness for Nora Roberts books that have characters that need to save the world or else. It’s a storyline that she’s used over and over again (in The Circle Trilogy, Three Sisters Island and others) but she does it so well. I’m especially taken with this series because the characters are so interesting. They’re a group of six people but they all seem to have their own secrets that are hidden both from the reader and the other characters.

Release Date: 14 June 2016

Official Synopsis from Goodreads.com:
To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces…
 
Mermaid Annika is from the sea, and it is there she must return after her quest to find the stars. New to this world, her purity and beauty are nothing less than breathtaking, along with her graceful athleticism, as her five new friends discovered when they retrieved the fire star. 
 
Now, through space and time, traveler Sawyer King has brought the guardians to the island of Capri, where the water star is hidden. And as he watches Annika in her element, he finds himself drawn to her joyful spirit. But Sawyer knows that if he allows her into his heart, no compass could ever guide him back to solid ground…
 
And in the darkness, their enemy broods. She lost one star to the guardians, but there is still time for blood to be spilled—the mermaid’s in the water and the traveler’s on the land. For she has forged a dangerous new weapon. Something deadly and unpredictable. Something human