Sunday Brunch #7

Hello shiny happy people!

Sunday Brunch is a feature where I talk about books without it being a review (where I only talk about one book and its themes) or a meme (because it doesn't leave much place to debate sometimes).

I have been a terrible blogger for the past two weeks *hangs head in shame* but shall make it up to you (I hope!)!!



I received an adorable award from Adam @ Roof Beam Reader (link to the award here) and it totally made my day. Adam is a wonderful blogger and each of his reviews or articles are well researched and insightful, if you haven't been on his blog yet - go give him some love now!

So My One Year 
Blogoversary has passed and I have quite a few signed books to giveaway - how do you think I should proceed? I am thinking about organising a massive Treasure Hunt through the world wide web, (I just love the craziness of this idea!) 

If you have any ideas please pass them along :D The most inventive treasure hunt idea will win this exclusive and mega rare signed copy of Romeo and Juliet!

(This is a joke by the way but I can send you the book for fun's sake)



I have been reading books/manuscripts for work these past two weeks so not a lot of blog-related books but I read Before I Die by the incredibly talented Jenny Downham. I have read and loved her second book You Against Me and I wanted to do a "Double Bill" with her first (which I'll publish most probably next week!). I have also done an impulsive-buy-and-read with the graphic novel Kick-Ass (Hit-Girl cover *of course*) and I just loved it so much! I read it in one sitting and loved how the film was a great adaptation! Review to come soon I expect!


Stuff I read and want to share:

Digital vs. Print: Who Will Win?
So it has started a bit in the second half of 2010 but in 2011 the war is ON! Indeed, digital may take over print sales in books. The question for you guys is: Team Digital or Team Print? (Digital may "overtake" print sales by 2014 | The Bookseller)

Philip Pullman tells people to leave libraries alone on False Economy.

io9 asks if the next step in young adult fantasy/SF is monthly serialized novels, what do you think?

The Young Adult Fantasy Guide made a list of the best Mermaid books for young adult (here).

Every week, the super talented Sarwat Chadda reviews and interviews amazing YA authors for his Kiss Me Kill Me series (check out his posts here!)

Sarah Rees Brennan tells you to write the change you want to see in the world (here)

YA author Zoë Marriott tells you to wake up and smell the real world. Go read her wonderful article on Diversity in YA (here).

Are you still fuzzy on the what and why and where and when of an ARC? Go read this on Waxman Literary Agency!

Interesting article about Fantasy and SF covers (What's the story behind genre fiction's covers? | The Guardian)

An author deeply upset about people thinking downloading a free book isn't theft.

Iceland might be one of the first countries to digitise all its literature (All Icelandic literature to go online? | Internet Archive blogs).

So Melvin Burgess raves about Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls in The Observer (which is good)... by taking a dig at YA literature (which is not so good)... (link here)

Are you a fan of Paranormal Romance? Do you want to know more about it by asking questions to Lauren Kate, Karen Mahoney and Amy Meredith? Well lucky you, Jo @ Once Upon A Bookcase is organising a virtual panel on Paranormal Romance, head over here for more details!

Are you a fan of Jean M. Auel? would you like to be part of bringin Ayla to life? Head over Earth's Children facebook page for more info!

I read a fascinating article on the Guardian today about the fact that everyone now can be a critique through blogs, facebook, twitter etc. and that the real critiques are having a tough time. The article also talks about the difference in tastes/opinions between elitist critiques and popular culture fan population in America (Everyone's a critic now | The Guardian)


That is all now!

Have a lovely Sunday evening!

x Caroline

Firebrand - Gillian Philip

Title: Firebrand
(Rebel Angels Book 1)
Author: Gillian Philip

Publisher: Strident Publishing
Release Date: 2010
Category: Fantasy
Source: From the author
Paperback: 372 pages

Summary from Amazon:
It is the last decade of the sixteenth century: a time of religious wars in the full-mortal world. But the Sithe are at peace, hidden behind the Veil that protects their world until their queen, Kate NicNiven, determines to destroy it. Seth MacGregor is the half-feral son of a Sithe nobleman. When his father is assassinated, and Seth is exiled with his brother Conal to the full-mortal world, they vow not only to survive, but to return to reclaim their fortress and save the Veil. But even the Veil's power cannot protect the brothers when the brutal witch-hunts begin...


The story is told from the point of view of Seth, a young Sithe who is sent to live with his Noble father. We learn very early that Seth never felt as if he belonged when he was living with his mother Lilith, an adviser to the queen Kate and that he doesn't belong either when he is sent to live with his father. He develops his strong character from this very lonely childhood. His half-brother Conal takes him under his wing when he is 8 years old and they become very close throughout the years. When Conal is exiled to the full-mortal world, behind the veil, Seth follows him into what is our 16th century. Seth and Conal discover more about the world behind the Veil, but also about themselves.

To be honest this is one of the most promising fantasy series I have read lately. The writing grips you from the very first pages and I haven't been able to stop reading it. This book is truly a much welcomed addition to the genre and I am really excited for the sequels! 

I absolutely loved the world created by Gillian Philip. It is thoroughly original and keeps enough mystery to keep you wanting more. The Sithe society is so different from the human society that not only was I interested to learn more and more about their customs but I was also given, as the full mortal that I am, a really good insight into human customs. We see the 16th century through the eyes of Seth and how religion worked back then. The perspective is fascinating to read and I really love books which make me think.

In the Sithe society, women are equal to men and as strong as them when it comes to fighting. I *loved* reading about Seth not understanding why, in the full mortal world, women are required to stay at home and wear dresses (my point exactly!). An also very interesting thing that was present in the book is the difficulty encountered by some Sithe to have children. It is very interesting how an ever decreasing prospect of a younger generation can affect a person. It's the type of undercurrent themes that I wasn't anticipating in a fantasy book and which bring so much depth to the story.

The characters and various personalities and lives presented throughout the book are truly fascinating and a proof of an amazing talent. I am going to go all fangirly on you here but I loved all the characters and I thought they were brilliantly created. 

And I will love Gillian Philip *forever* for the presence of two Sithe wolf pets. I *love* those two darlings!! Okay and I might have already told my mom that this is what I want for Christmas because now I know they (metaphorically) exist, I can't live without them.

Seth is the narrator but we can read every now and then a sentence which tells us that he is telling the story some time in the future. The comings and goings in the past/present/future usually don't entrance me though it is not too present in this book and I have a feeling that at some point in the following novels of the Rebel Angels series we'll be reading Seth narrating in the present. 

This is an amazing book for anyone who is a fan of fantasy, but maybe also to people who enjoy historical fiction and character-oriented stories. The writing is mesmerising and I am sure you won't be able to put it down!

Info: Some violent scenes in the book and definitely a perfect book for boys!

Thank you so much to Gillian for sending me her book!

The Hand That First Held Mine - Maggie O'Farrell

Title: The Hand That First Held Mine

Author: Maggie O'Farrell

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 2010

Category: Adult Contemporary Fiction

Source: From work book club

Hardback: 352 pages

Summary from Amazon: 
When the bohemian, sophisticated Innes Kent turns up by chance on her doorstep, Lexie Sinclair realises she cannot wait any longer for her life to begin, and leaves for London.  There, at the heart of the 1950s Soho art scene, she carves out a new life for herself, with Innes at her side.  In the present day, Elina and Ted are reeling from the difficult birth of their first child.  Elina, a painter, struggles to reconcile the demands of motherhood with sense of herself as an artist, and Ted is disturbed by memories of his own childhood, memories that don't tally with his parents' version of events. As Ted begins to search for answers, so an extraordinary portrait of two women is revealed, separated by fifty years, but connected in ways that neither could ever have expected.


This book was chosen by my book group at work and it went on to win the Costa Prize earlier this year. 

The book follows two stories. The first one is about Lexie Sinclair, a young girl in the 1950s who decides to leave her family and follow the intriguing Innes Kent to London where she starts a career in journalism. The second is about Elina and Ted, whose child is born, and where we see the difficulty of motherhood for Elina and the progressive appearance of Ted's memories about his own childhood. The book is an ode to family, love and life.

I wasn't sure what to expect about this book, I read it as part of a book group at work so I didn't exactly choose it. I completely fell for the cover, I think it is one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. It has also a link to the story since the photograph on the book was taken by John Deakin who is mentioned in the book.

I have been literally blown away by the story and by the incredibly sophisticated and poetic writing. You have the impression of having your five senses titilated throughout the book and you can't help but be mesmerised by the story.

Lexie's story was my favourite part of the book, and the book could have been a stand alone novel telling only her story (though after finishing it, I understand the choice of the two stories). She has an amazing personality and the decade in which she evolves has always been in my mind a thriving and fascinating period. Lexie is an absolutely wonderful character and I mourned the fact that she didn't really exist. She is strong, determined, intelligent and passionate. Her love story with Innes is intense and their intellectual connexion and evolution is fascinating. Had she existed, her life would have been told and told again in books and films. Her life was at her image - very passionate and intense. I would have loved to meet her and to learn things from her. She is one of the most interesting contemporary heroine literature has shown me for a long time. I may be a fantasy fan and love my stories to be very far from every day life, but when an extraordinary character rocks my ordinary world, I cannot not like her.

I had more issues getting into Elina's head and the first part of the book with her kind of put me off. I didn't see where the story was going, it felt too long and overly descriptive and I disliked Elina as a character. I continued reading the book because of my love for Lexie's story, and I was determined to see why anyone would put those two women in the same book. But as I read on, I started to see the bigger picture and realise that the book brought so much more than first met the eye. I won't spoil the story for you, but if you find yourself not liking the first part of Elina's story, don't give up on this wonderful book.

Elina and Ted's story brings a different take on the birth of a baby and how it fundamentally changes the parents. They have now to think about someone else than themselves. The birth also brings confusion and uncertainty as to what to do, but also a wave of memories of their own childhoods and what happened then.

As Maggie O'Farrell said in an interview, London appears as a third main character behind Lexie and Elina. Not only London but the famous Soho of the 1960s where culture and politics would intertwine constantly. Enthralling doesn't even cover it.

The story-telling is simply breath-taking. So much am I admirative of Maggie O'Farrell's writing that I will add her to my small list of authors of which I read every single book published without even glancing at the back cover. Not only is the story interesting and surprising, but the way the story is presented is pure pleasure. If you are an aficionado of beautiful writing - don't hesitate any further.

I will stop now with the ridiculous cheerleading of this book :) but if you like brilliant writing, adult fiction, the sixties and strong women character, this book is definitely made for you.

Sunday Brunch #6

Hello everyone!

How have you all been doing this week? Did you read anything interesting?

I had quite a tough week at work and I am happy to relax this weekend with good books!

Sunday Brunch is a feature where I talk about books without it being a review (where I only talk about one book and its themes) or a meme (because it doesn't leave much place to debate sometimes).



I had a few people signing up for this and I am thrilled! I am starting to put together the prize pack for the first quarter and really loving what I have for the moment!

I published my review of Inside Out and interviewed the wonderful Maria V. Snyder. I really loved her point of view on the popularity of dystopia in YA literature and how it might be a generational thing.

Last weekend I met up with fellow bloggers for a lunch and a little visit to Foyles (where some serious book buying ensued). And newt week I will be going to the lovely Cat Clarke Entangled launch party as well as to a Random House Children's Books brunch - I am sooo ecstatic to meet all those lovely people!!



This week I finished reading a manuscript of debut thriller novel (adult) Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson and it was absolutely brilliant - so if you like thrillers, be sure to buy it when it comes out in April!

I am currently reading Firebrand by Gillian Philip and I absolutely love it, anyone who likes fantasy should read this book!

And this is not a book but it is about a book blogger: because of the wonderful Jenny's (Wondrous Reads) commitment and life-long passion for Buffy I have bought the first season (*cough* and now the second) and I can't figure out why I even stopped watching this show - it is bloody brilliant!! :D And now I want to reread Luisa Plaja's novels Split by a Kiss and Swapped by a Kiss because of Jo and Albie's obsession with it!!


Stuff I came across and want to share:

Libraries in the UK:
The hashtag #savelibraries on Twitter has been existing for a while and it is global (thanks @MarDixon for the info!) but making it trending now in the UK is more vital than ever. Read major UK authors talk about the danger of libraries closures (The Telegraph). You can also visit the blog Voices for the Library or their Twitter account

New blogs I came across:
Bibliophile Brouhaha: YA, contemporary, paranormal, dystopia
I'm Here, I'm Queer, What The Hell Do I Read?:  Blog centered on GLBTQ literature.
Crime Central: I am really excited about this one since it is one of the first blogs I have seen on the subject: it concentrates on YA thrillers and crime fiction. The blog was set up by UK writers Anne Cassidy, Keren David, Gillian Philip and Linda Strachan.

It was Martin Luther King Jr's birthday yesterday and several articles about him came up - I was really interested in reading Pragmatic Mom's Best children's books on how Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world (link here).

Read React Review posted a hilarious Top 10 Signs You Are Reading Too Much Paranormal Romance (link here).

The wonderful L. K. Madigan, author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid's Mirror, has published a heart-breaking post on her blog about being diagnosed with a stage IV pancreatic cancer (link here). The blogging community (authors and bloggers) are organising several giveaways and events to honour her writing.

Malinda Lo posted a book round-up of the winners of the American Library Association's youth media awards who celebrate diversity in YA (link here).

Rachel Vincent presents her new adult series here.

Finally, a US judge has dismissed JK Rowling plagiarism case stating "The contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity" *kapow* (article The Independent).

I read this cool article on the Guardian and realised they were right! Even if we spend hours online - contemporary fiction has gone to great length not to include this in fiction! (How Novels Came To Terms With The Internet | Guardian).

An interesting article on The Guardian asking the question: Do creative writing courses make novels too literary? - I found it a fascinating article for aspiring writers. What do you think? (Link here). 


And I believe that is it for today!

Have a lovely week people and talk next Sunday :)

x Caroline

Inside Out - Maria V. Snyder

Title: Inside Out
(First book in the series)

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Publisher: Mira Ink

Release Date: January 2011

Category: Young Adult, Dystopia

Source: From the publisher

Paperback: 315

Summary from Amazon:
Keep your head down. Don't get noticed. Or else. I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous - the only neck at risk is my own. Until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution...


After you've read my review, hop over to my interview with Maria V. Snyder and read how she came to write Inside Out and her opinion on dystopia.

There are books like Inside Out where I start reading without even having read the back cover. I vaguely knew that the heroine lived in pipes but I didn't try to know more. There is nothing I love more than being taken by surprise by an original story and going on an adventure in a new world with new rules. Inside Out doesn't disappoint and I was blown away from the very beginning by the life Inside.

In this world where everyone lives "inside", the society is split between Uppers (living a rather regular life in upper/richer parts) and scrubs which have no real life to speak of and clean the pipes of dust and rust constantly for fear of being "recycled" (understand literally recycled). Trella is named "the Queen of the Pipes" by her fellow scrubs. She has no friends to speak of (except Cog) and she doesn't feel as if she is part of the scrub population. Not that there is any group feeling, the fear is so extreme that scrubs don't really have real friendships. 

The description of the life inside is so masterfully described that I felt suffocated by the oppressive surrounding. The setting is haunting and you keep wondering, as all characters in the story, where is the outside, what is it and why has no one found it? I loved seeing this world through Trella's eyes.

Trella is one of the most interesting character I have met. I love her take on life and how she came to be queen of the pipes. The other characters we encounter as well as the dynamic between Uppers and scrubs are astutely described and not only could we feel the difference between both populations, but we could understand on a systemic level how the society was organised. In a very subtle way, Maria V. Snyder details with fantastic accuracy the power struggles and the power games played by all parties. I am pointing this out because, having studied political sciences it is an aspect I always look for in dystopian or fantasy worlds and I usually feel that those worlds created are not always viable systems (as in - this society organisation could have never existed) and things usually get foggy in the details. That's why I loved this book so much because it is a fascinating subject (oh boy wait for to read the end, you will love it even more!) and it is intelligently and inventively crafted.

Fans of dystopia and science fiction should really fall for this book and the fascinating world it brings. Thoroughly captivating from the very beginning, you won't be able to stop reading until you find the truth about Outside. Maria V. Snyder has created a fantastic new original series which you shouldn't miss! Trella has become one of my favourite heroines in YA and I absolutely can't wait to read Outside In!

Many thanks to Mira Ink for sending me the book!

Info: Some violent scenes in there so better suited for 11/12+

Maria V. Snyder interview on Inside Out!

Title: Inside Out
(First book in the series)

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Publisher: Mira Ink

Release Date: January 2011

Category: Young Adult, Dystopia

Source: From the publisher

Paperback: 315

Summary from Amazon:
Keep your head down. Don't get noticed. Or else. I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous - the only neck at risk is my own. Until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution...


Interview with Maria V. Snyder!

Thanks to the lovely people at Mira Ink, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to the wonderful Maria V. Snyder! 
My review of Inside Out will follow tonight!

Hi Maria!
I am really thrilled to be asking you some questions about the amazing Inside Out!!
First of all, I wanted to know how came to you the idea of a world where everyone lives inside, where there is a hierarchical society of uppers and scrubs and about the scrubs in particular?
A dream! I dreamt the whole story, including plot, characters, the Pop Cops, the society, and even the twists! I’ve never had a dream like that before or since, and I’ve been wracking my brain to remember what I had for dinner that night :)
I thought that the oppression at living inside and being a scrub felt by Trella is really well described, how did you set to write the book? Did you isolate yourself to write these scenes or did it just come to you in your imagination and you didn't need to change any of your writing habits?

They came to me in my imagination. I wrote the book the same as all my others.  In fact, it was easier since I had almost a complete plot to work with at the start.  My other books, I had to fill in the details and discover the story as I wrote.

Dystopia is fast becoming one of the most popular genres in Young Adult Literature and I was wondering if we could see more into this than just the thrilling action and the fascinating worlds. With books like The Hunger Games, Matched and now Inside Out, rebellion is a major theme of Dystopia, do you think that we should see this as a generational feeling for teenagers (and not so teenagers)? 
I agree that Dystopia is popular right now, and I think there are many reasons for this trend.  One, because there have been a number of great books released in the last few years, including the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and readers are clamouring for more.  Two, the current global economy is rather glum and it's all over the news.  These books portraying horrible societies gives readers a sense that compared to say The Hunger Games, things aren't THAT bad.  Third, I agree with you.  It could be a generational feel since the main characters in these books change their world and teens are constantly being told they're the future and they CAN change the world. Plus these characters are strong survivors and proactive – they're great role models, making the best of the worst situations. (Note- I haven't read Matched, yet :)
And I would like to comment that I had the idea for Inside Out back in 2003 and finished the book well before The Hunger Games was released in July 2008.  I'm sure other authors have as well and I think it's interesting how these ideas form in many writers around the same time.  It's not like we rush to write a dystopia because it's popular – many writers have already finished the story and it's either been sitting in their drawer or making the rounds of editors.

Could you give us a top 5 of your favourite heroines in books?
Am I allowed to choose the heroines from my own books?  :)  I didn't think so.  Here they are in no particular order: Tess Sorensen from Jaran by Kate Elliott; Lessa from the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey; Hermione Granger from Harry Potter; Claire Danvers from the Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine; and Alexia Tarabotti from Soulless by Gail Carriger.

And finally, do you have some deets about your current and future projects (ok, and Outside In in particular!!)?
Outside In begins about twelve weeks after the events in Inside Out. The world is trying to recover from all the changes that has happened and not everyone is happy about the new state of affairs.  Trouble starts soon after and Trella has to deal with a whole laundry list of problems: sabotage, the new Committee, and her mother.  If that wasn't bad enough, there is something from Outside and it wants in!  I do have the first chapter of the book up on my website, but I would strongly suggest you DO NOT read it unless you finished Inside Out.
      Right now I’m working on another fantasy novel about a healer set in a world that is recovering from a deadly plague. Her world has blamed the plague on the healers and has hunted them down.  She is finally caught only to be rescued by a group who wants her to heal their Prince.  The group's leader, Kerrick, knows the healers aren't to blame for the plague and that she could do some good for a change instead of hiding. Unfortunately, she believes this Prince is the one who started the plague as an attempt at biological warfare so she isn't risking her life for some pampered Prince. As they travel to the Prince's hidden location, they're pursued by others who have realized having a healer around might just be a good thing for them, but not necessarily for her.   This book is set for a January 2012 release in the US.

Many, many thanks for writing such wonderful books and for taking the time to answer these questions!
Thank you so much for inviting me! If your readers would like more info about me and my books, I have the first chapter of all my books on my website as well as a number of free short stories they can read. I also have a page full of writing advice for any aspiring writers out there :) 
Here's the link:

Thank you so much to Mira Ink for sending me the book and giving me the opportunity to interview Maria!