February 2015 Wrap Up

I have to say… 2015 is getting off to an epic start! I have had a great year so far and I hope everyone else can say the same :)

Here is a wrap up of my month:

My Book Reviews in February:
Wild by Sophie Jordan – 4 stars
Soulprint by Megan Miranda – 3.5 to 4 stars
Sublime by Christina Lauren – 2 stars
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – 2 stars

My Author Interviews in February:
—- Charlotte McConaghy
—- Lori Reisenbichler

What I’ve been up to this month:
1. Sunny Coast Trip – This month I went up to the very beautiful Sunshine Coast with my mum for the book launch of Akarnae by my good friend, Lynette Noni. Check out my wrap up of the event here. It was a great night!

2. The Gym – If you read my January Wrap Up you would know that last month I joined the gym. This month I continued my commitment. Body Pump on Monday, Body Combat on Tuesday, Body Balance on Wednesday and then another class on either Thursday or Sunday. That’s my routine! I don’t have a great love of exercise, but I have to say, I feel great! I have so much energy!

3. Dating! – I’m newly single as of November last year… This month I went on a few dates, which was exciting. I’ve never really “dated” before… guess I’m just at that age now where dating is what happens, instead of being young and hooking up at parties, haha.

What have you been up to this month?

Do You Finish Bad Books?

A comment left on one of my posts got me thinking about finishing books. The comment was:

I have seen you reading/reviewing a fair number of Two stars it seems lately …… I actually feel bad that you go through and read so many bad books…

Which is interesting, because I generally have a 50 page rule. I’ll read 50 pages and if I’m not fussed then I’ll put the book down and try another, but when review copies of books are sent to me from publishers, then I will take the time to read the entire novel.

I find book reviewing really interesting, because I can read something and be like “meh” and other people will read it and be like OMG THIS WAS THE BEST BOOK EVER! So it really depends on personal taste.

I enjoy reading average books, because they really make me sit down and think about what it is that makes them so average. And then of course, when I stumble across an amazing book it makes it that much more exciting!

Do you always finish books? Do you give them a couple of chapters and then put them down? A couple of pages? What is your rule for starting and finishing novels?

Guest Post: Eight Minutes by Lori Reisenbichler

Today I have the good fortune to interview Lori Reisenbichler on her novel, Eight Minutes. Lori is more than happy to talk to book clubs if anyone is interested!

Title: Eight Minutes
Author: Lori Reisenbichler
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Links: GoodReads | Lori’s Website

1. Tell us a little about Eight Minutes…

Eight Minutes is the story of a suburban mom who becomes suspicious of her three-year-old son’s imaginary friend, and becomes convinced that he’s neither imaginary nor friendly. Her husband, a rational engineer, thinks she’s reading too much into it, but she can’t let it go.

The seed of the story was planted when my son came back from a visit to a flight museum in Tucson talking about a grown man he talked to named John Robberson. The dialogue at the beginning of chapter two is verbatim. Like Shelly in the book, I jumped all over my husband for not supervising our son. My son talked about John Robberson every day after that and not in a typical, playful way. Like Shelly, I noticed and worried about it, but unlike Shelly, I dropped it. Within a couple of weeks, John Robberson seemed to go away and now, my son is eighteen years old and doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

2. What do you love the most about writing?

For me, writing is a luxury. Even though I love stories and have always been an avid reader, I never considered writing as a career option. I wasn’t an English major. Writing always came easily to me, but producing a novel wasn’t on my bucket list. Until I started trying to do it. It’s harder than it looks, folks. Which, for me, makes it a perfect fit. Writing is a creative pursuit that’s challenging enough that I have to keep learning and fun enough that it feels like playing.

3. Do you write everyday? What is your writing routine like?

I treat it like a job. I block out time on my schedule Monday through Friday, wake up, take a shower, get dressed and go to work. I have about three or four coffee shops that I have on rotation, where I know I can sit and write in peace. I have to get out of the house to kick into work mode.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

When I got serious about writing, I went back to school. I got an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University, which is in Louisville, Kentucky. They have a low-residency option so I only had to be away from home ten days each semester, and the rest of the time I had a private writing coach. For me, I needed to take this step, but I know it’s not for everyone. There are lots of resources out there. My advice is this: learn your craft, however you can. Keep your standards high and find a small circle of people who share your high standards and will hold you to it. Those are your first readers. I’m not saying that it has to be perfect, but the rookie mistake I see most often is that the writer gets frustrated and just wants to be finished. Hang in there. Learn more. Make it better. Don’t put your work out in the world too early.

5. What are your top three favourite novels?

This is a really hard question because it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to three. I’m going to forego naming the classics, but they are all on my list. Instead, I’m going to give you three women writers who I would read anything they wanted to write:

1. Audrey Niffenegger, especially HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY. Twins. Ghosts. Beautiful sentences. Who could ask for more than that?

2. Louise Edrich, whose work is full of magical realism in a uniquely American way. Hard to pick a favorite but A PLAGUE OF DOVES is high on the list. It’s not exactly a page-turner kind of beach read, but it’s fantastic. It’s got everything from snake handlers to kidnapping and miracles. (Do I sound a little like Stephan on Saturday Night Live?)

3. Lorrie Moore. She’s a short story writer that delivers the perfect mix of funny and smart. BARK is her latest, but if you can get your hands on any of her work, you’ll start to love short stories.

If I can sneak three more in on you, I’d recommend these books by debut authors: GOLDEN STATE by Stephanie Kegan, SECRET DAUGHTER by Shilpi Gowda, and MY JANE AUSTEN SUMMER by Cindy Jones.

6. What are your writing goals?

I want to write book club books. My first writing goal is to write in an accessible way – easy reading, fast paced, plenty of surprises and twists—about issues that everyday women deal with all the time –like families, relationships, issues of the heart and soul.

It only took me about a year to write EIGHT MINUTES, but it took me four years to revise it, get an agent and get it published. Because it needed that time and all those revisions. I hope it doesn’t always take that long. My latest writing goal is to write faster and get to the finished product more efficiently.

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen, Book 1 in the Red Queen series
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Hachette
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance, High Fantasy
Links: Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Blurb:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Why I picked it up:

I requested this one from Hachette and they were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

My thoughts:

I started reading Red Queen after I finished reading Snow Like Ashes. I had assumed (from the covers alone) that the two books would be similar, but in all reality, Red Queen was nothing like Snow Like Ashes. Red Queen sort of reminded me a little of X-Men meets The Selection series. I couldn’t decide if it was a fantasy or a science fiction.

A lot of people are raving about this book, but for me it didn’t feel original enough. It felt like a mash-up of X-Men, Divergent, The Hunger Games and The Selection, all combined into a story that felt a little too much like everything else I’ve read. It didn’t have a distinctive enough voice to set it apart form others in its genre. Which sucked, because I wanted to love this, but it just felt average to me.

It didn’t help that this isn’t a short book… at 400 pages it felt too long, especially when I never felt like I was rooting for the characters. I ended up skimming the last 50 or so pages.

All in all, this book has a lot of amazing reviews on GoodReads so I encourage you to check it out, particularly if you are new to the Dystopian genre. But if you are a seasoned fan, then this will blend into everything else.

My Verdict – 2 stars

Weekly Wrap Up | Words Read & Written

My life feels like a crazy hive of activity lately, so to keep everything straight in my head I’ve decided to do a wrap-up post each Sunday, while my Tumblr Sunday meme that I started last week will move to another day.

Books I Read:

Fake by Becca Nicholas
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Books I Reviewed:

Sublime by Christina Lauren – 2 stars

Books I Bought:

Wild by Sophie Jordan – this one was a 4-star read for me, so I had to add it to my bookshelf.

New eBooks:

Wallbanger – Alice Clayton
I spotted this one on a ‘best romance’ list and the premise sounded oddly hilarious.
Red Rising – Pierce Brown
I see this book mentioned everywhere! Everyone raves about it. Definitely need to see what all the fuss is about.
Down London Road – Samantha Young
I read the first in this series and it was a 3 star read for me, but a friend assures me this one is better.
Samantha Young – Hero
I saw this one recommended once and it has been on my TBR list for a while.
Tiffany Reisz – The Siren
I saw the 4th book in the series selling for like $5 in my local Big W, so I figured I’d check out the first and see what it was all about.

What books have you been reading and buying this week? Feel free to do your own wrap-up post and link it in the comments.

2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon

Hey all,

This year I decided to take part in the 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon hosted by Alexa Loves Books. I have no real clue what it’s all about, but it seemed like fun so I signed up! Festivities take place from February 21 to 22, and it all kicks off with a getting-to-know-you questionnaire.

1. What’s your name?
My name is Jodie :)

2. Where in the world are you blogging from?
I’m blogging from the very beautiful Australia. Specifically from the east coast of NSW.

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?
I also write, so this blog started as a “writers platform” and then expanded into book blogging.

4. How did you come up with your blog name?
For a long time my blog was just my name, “Jodie Llewellyn”, but when I made the move from WordPress to self hosted I decided to come up with an official blog name. Words Read and Written came about from a lot of brainstorming. I wanted something that linked my love of writing and reading together.

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?
Generally Young Adult novels across all sub-genres. I like contemporary, romance, science fiction, fantasy and dystopian. I also read new adult and the occasional adult chick lit.

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?
I do a lot of author interviews, which I love. I’ll also occasionally ask the sporadic writing relating question to promote some discussion.

7. Best blogging experience so far?
Recently I’ve been lucky enough to interview some authors from larger publishing houses, which is exciting.

8. Favorite thing about the blogging community?
I’m still on the edge of it. I don’t have internet access at home at the moment so I haven’t been able to get to know other book bloggers as much as I would like.

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015!
1. The Heir by Kiera Cass – I am so excited for this one! I loved The Selection trilogy.
2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – an ARC of this one appeared in my mailbox the other day, so I’m excited to get started.
3. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas – because seriously, who isn’t excited for the 4th Throne of Glass book?
4. When by Victoria Laurie – this one is already out, but I need to get my hands on it. I’m intrigued.
5. I’ll save the fifth spot for a book I haven’t heard of yet, haha. I’m sure I’ll find one when reading other people’s questionnaires.

10. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
I really loved THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young. It came out of nowhere and surprised me. I also like the Ivy Chronicles series by Sophie Jordan, it’s a fun NA series. And the Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning if you want a steamy adult series.

11. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?
At the moment I’m reading Wallbanger by Alice Clayton and Caroline seems like a fun girl to have around :)

12. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?
I like to write. I write YA fiction. I also love scrapbooking – I’ve been doing Project Life for 3 years now.

13. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?
People go to the shops for something other than books? haha. I’m not really too sure. I don’t buy a lot of things. I can go a little crazy in craft stores buying scrapbooking supplies.

14.At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?
Lay Down Your Guns by Jimmy Barnes… I have no idea why, but I always put it on the jukebox.

15.Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.
This is a hard one… I tend to think the movie is never as good as the book. That said, The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. That would be awesome!

What are you reading at the moment?

Hey everyone,

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently making my way through Fake by Beck Nicholas.

And next up, I think I might start A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. It isn’t released until May but Bloomsbury sent me an ARC copy and I’m dying to sink into it!

What are you reading?

Review: Sublime by Christina Lauren

Title: Sublime
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Ghosts
Links: GoodReads | Book Depository

Blurb:

When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed…

Why I picked it up:

This book was sent to me from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

My thoughts:

My first thoughts within the first few chapters was that this book is weird. It alternates from second person to third person and is written in a really abstract way. So I automatically knew it would either grab me, or lose me completely.

The girl isn’t sure what to do with his attention. She suspects, from the way her skin seems to be aching to move closer to him, that he’s the reason she’s drawn here every morning, just as she found herself in the dining hall that first day. But he seems so sweet, almost too open, like she’s a strip of paper dragged through poisoned honey and this perfect boy flies innocently around her.

In all honesty, I’m not a fan of this sort of writing. I like my writing direct and to the point, with the bare minimum of fluffing around. I find writing like this to be almost needlessly dramatic and that effect was only heightened because I found it so hard to identify with the characters.

This novel is also not… logical. I mean, a girl just arrives on campus and floats from class to class without anyone asking any questions? Like… really? I get that the author is going for some sort of mystical feel, but I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t more curious about her.

It wasn’t really until page 100 that the plot started to make some sense and I started to understand what was going on. But even after that I still didn’t feel like I ever connected with the characters or cared about their plight. The execution of the story never really grabbed me. It was unique and haunting and different, but it fell short somehow. I guess it just wasn’t for me.

My Verdict – 2 Stars

Tumblr Sunday | a Words Read and Written meme

Okay, I admit it, I am a HUGE Tumblr fan. I spend a lot of time cruising my dash and re-blogging whatever catches my eye. So I’ve decided to start a weekly meme to feature the trends I’m seeing on my Tumblr blog.

Feel free to do your own wrap up and post a link in the comments!

This week, I’m re-blogging a lot of:

— Waterscapes —

— Books —

— Travel —

— Whimsical Landscapes —

My Tumblr – Words Read & Written

Do you have a Tumblr account? Post a link in the comments so we can all follow each other!

 

Blog Tour: Avery by Charlotte McConaghy

I’m very excited to be taking part in the Avery blog tour. A big thanks to Random House for giving me the opportunity to interview Charlotte, and be a involved in a tour with some amazing fellow Aussie book bloggers!

Title: Avery, Book 1 in The Chronicles of Kaya
Author: Charlotte McConaghy
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Links: Blog Tour Stops | GoodReads | Book Depository | Charlotte’s Website

AVERY is a sweeping fantasy from 26-year-old Australian author Charlotte McConaghy.

Charlotte is making a name for herself in the speculative fiction genre, having published her first book at just 17 years old! She now has six books under her belt, with another due to be released later this year.

AVERY – the first book in The Chronicles of Kaya series – is a novel about loss and identity, and finding the courage to love against all odds. Charlotte has created a vivid and unique world of magic, mystery and, most importantly, twisted and lovable characters. Among the century-long wars and deadly sibling rivalries, AVERY is at its heart two beautiful and captivating love stories.

1. Tell us a little bit about Avery…
Avery is a romantic fantasy novel set in a world where people die in pairs. It’s about the first young woman ever to survive the death of her mate, about her quest for revenge and the ensuing adventure and love story that follows.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
My advice would be to write as much as possible because practicing your craft is how you develop talent. Read heaps, as this is how you establish what your taste is and what you aspire to with your own writing. Write what you are most passionate about, and of course don’t get discouraged if you get a rejection letter – keep trying, and keep writing new things.

3. How did you come up with the world of Kaya?
Kaya initially came to me in a vivid dream, which I then wrote down and started to develop. Like most fantasy worlds, it’s based on a historical period in the real world – in my case it’s the Viking period in Scandinavia.

4. Do you utilise the help of critique partners in your writing process?
I don’t often do that for my novel writing, as it’s a difficult thing to ask friends to read such a hefty word count and give feedback, but I definitely have a group of trusted writer friends with whom I share all my screenwriting. It makes more sense, as well, because screenwriting is a much more collaborative process, whereas writing novels is quite solitary. But I always look forward to the insights and feedback of my editors – because getting a new set of eyes on something is very important.

5. What genres do you like to read?
I love fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal… I like a lot of YA stuff, I like straight-up fiction and literature, romance… I’m a bit of a mixed bag.

6. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently writing the third book in the Chronicles of Kaya series (the sequels to Avery), which is very exciting as it’ll be the last in the series for a while. Unless I get the urge to write more set in the world of Kaya and Pirenti ;)

7. Who is your favourite character in Avery?
Umm… I love them all, but I think I would have to say Thorne is, simply because he goes through the most difficult transformation. I always love the most flawed characters, as I can really sink my teeth into them.