Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

I’ve always been amazed by people who can read several books at once. I’ve always wondered how in the world they can keep track of where they are at. I think I’d start confusing the characters and struggle to keep any sort of continuity. I personally like to delve into one book at a time and only start another when the prior one is complete.

Although that said, I do have a book on my iPhone that I read on the fly. I open it up whenever I get a chance and read a couple of pages here and there. In my car before work, while I’m waiting in a line for something… it’s my “boredom buster”.

Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or can you juggle multiple?

Book Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren

Title: Dirty Rowdy Thing, Book 2 in the Wild Seasons series
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon Shuster
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Links: GoodReads
Related Reviews: Dirty Filthy Boy (Book 1)

Blurb:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Bastard, Beautiful Stranger, and Beautiful Player, Book Two of the brand-new Wild Seasons series that started with Sweet Filthy Boy—a story of friends, love, and lust.

Despite their rowdy hookups, Harlow and Finn don’t even like each other…which would explain why their marriage lasted only twelve hours. He needs to be in charge and takes whatever he wants. She lives by the Want-something-done? Do-it-yourself mantra. Maybe she’s too similar to the rugged fisherman—or just what he needs.

Why I picked it up:

I received this one from Simon Schuster in exchange for an honest review. So after purchasing and reading the first, I moved on to this one!

My Thoughts:

The duo that call themselves Christina Lauren are really good at creating likeable, and more importantly, believable characters. They write intense scenes that the chemistry crackles out of. Harlow and Finn were gorgeous together.

I skipped through most of the sex scenes in this book, just like I did in Dirty Rowdy Thing. I’m not really too sure why because I love a good sex scene, but in this series, I felt like they detracted from the actual story. I think sex scenes are fine when you know you are going into an erotica, but these books have a new adult vibe, so for me, there was too much sex for my taste.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It flowed well, the pace was good, the characters were lovable and interesting… All in all, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next in the series!

My Verdict – 4 stars

Blog Tour: Weightless by Sarah Bannan

Welcome to my stop on the Weightless blog tour! Thanks so much to Bloomsbury for organising the tour and allowing me to be a part of it. And thanks to Sarah Bannan for answering my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Weightless – where did the original ideas for the story come from?

WEIGHTLESS began as a voice in my head. And I couldn’t let it go.

A group of girls, sitting in bleachers at a football field, watching another group of girls – cheerleaders – and analysing anything and everything about them. They know every girl’s waist size, her bra size, her relationship status, and the “watchers” are fascinated by the girls they are watching. But also envious. And judgmental. And then, in the distance, the girls see something – someone – new. The new girl. And they can’t look away. Their attention is drawn towards her, and they think that she’s perfect.

So, I had this voice. And then I had my own high school experience. I moved to a small town in Alabama when I was thirteen and it was a culture shock.

And then I started writing. And at the same time, I was coming across a lot of articles and stories about online bullying among teenagers.

All of this was swirling around in my head when I began writing WEIGHTLESS. The voice. My own school. These cases. And then I let my imagination take me places, create the characters of Carolyn Lessing, Brooke Moore, Shane Duggan. And the voice led the story.

2. Do you have a set writing routine that you follow?

I work full-time, and I have a three-year old daughter. I was pregnant when I first started writing WEIGHTLESS and then continued to work on it after my daughter was born. So writing has to be done when the moment becomes available. And the only time that I can really count on is early in the morning.

I try to get up between 4.30 and 5 am. I set the coffee machine to go on at that time, so I hear it when I wake up. And then I pour a cup of coffee and get my lap top and try to write until 6.30, which is when I need to start to get ready for work.

Our house is incredibly small and there are two places where I work. The first is a little desk that’s in a corridor between our bathroom and the kitchen. I actually have to climb in to start work and it’s difficult to get out – which I think is a good thing, as it keeps me at work!

The second – and the place that I’m using now – is my daughter’s iron frame bed. She wakes up every night around 2 am and we bring her down to our bed. And in the morning I take hers. I find it’s a comforting place to write, and I’m not sure the reason for that.

I’m on a sabbatical from work now – for nine months – to allow me to finish my second novel. This lets me write more during the days, which is great. But I still do the early mornings, as that’s when I’m most creative. I read somewhere recently that sleep deprivation is good for creativity and I totally believe that! Something about the mundane tasks of your everyday life not creeping into your creative brain…

When I write during the days I leave the house and either go to the library or a coffee shop. I find this is good because you have to walk between places, which is good for thinking through problems. And when you’re at the computer in a coffee shop, or in the library, you can’t get up because people could rob your stuff!

For me, it’s all about putting little limits or targets in place. Nobody asked me to write a novel, so I had to pretend like I had real deadlines all the time to make sure I actually finished.

3. What is the hardest thing about writing?

Confidence, I think. Lack of confidence, usually. (Although sometimes over confidence is a problem, too!) Fear of failure. Writing is so un-testable. You can’t check to make sure it’s in tune, like you would a piece of music or an instrument. You have only yourself to rely on. Only yourself to blame.

4. A lot of readers who follow Words Read and Written are aspiring authors, do you have any advice for them?

Read lots. I try to read a novel a week. Old and new. It’s amazing how helpful it is to see how other writers have solved problems, how they’ve approached voice or time or place or character. Now that I have slightly more time for writing, I try to write until lunchtime and then spend any other time reading. (With the odd bit of Netflix in the evening with my husband – dramas like THE WIRE and BLOODLINE are structured like novels, so that’s helpful too!)

5. What are your three all-time favourite books?

Not possible. But here goes:

THE SPORTSWRITER by Richard Ford
SKIPPY DIES by Paul Murray
THE VIEW FROM CASTLEROCK by Alice Munro

6. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learnt from the publishing process?

I’m still learning so much as I go along!

I was naïve, I think, about the level of time and dedication and hard work on the part of so many people that goes into each and every book. I’m amazed by the enthusiasm of everyone I’ve met in publishing. How genuinely passionate they are about books. How many people put their hearts and souls into a single title. The number of hours spent on planning marketing and promotional strategies. Sales strategies. Cover design. Production design. The thought and meticulous attention given to editing, line editing and copy editing. I felt like my book should have a million people’s names on the cover.

7. Who is your favourite character in Weightless?

That’s difficult! I probably feel the most intensely for Carolyn Lessing, which is hardly surprising, and I love her so much, and sympathise with her the most deeply. I also love the narrators, and probably identified with them a bit too closely! But my favourite to write was probably Stephanie Simpson, the English teacher. She was an amalgamation of half a dozen teachers I had during school, and a bit of myself, and she has this kind of lame enthusiasm for her teaching and for her students that I found touching and hilarious and cringe-worthy.

8. What are your writing goals?

My only ambition right now is to finish my next novel by the autumn. And for that novel to be of high quality, to be achieving something new. It’s covering very different territory from WEIGHTLESS, and my goal is to pull it off! The first novel was a real challenge in sustaining the first person plural voice, and this one comes with another set of challenges…as I’m sure every novel does … but I’m too superstitious to reveal what those challenges actually are!

9. What do you get up to when you aren’t writing?

We live in the inner city of Dublin, which means that I can get to the theatre or to a book launch or reading in no time, which is fabulous. But that means being away from my husband and daughter…and we basically try to spend as much free time as possible together. This means lots of trips to the playground and to the beach in Dublin, followed by lots of hot chocolate and/or ice cream.

My husband and I used to go to the cinema all the time before we had a child, and now we’ve been a total of three times in three years! So, hopefully that will become a pastime again in the future. But in the meantime, we are always engrossed in one box set or another. We just finished the second series of VEEP and loved it. And we binged on THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT and now we’re onto BLOODLINE. All superb.

I’m also a pretty dedicated runner (I’ve run eight marathons) but I haven’t done quite as much since having a child and taking on this novel-writing business! But I do find it really good for clearing my head and getting ideas.

10. Do you use critique partners to get feedback on your work?

I took a novel-writing course in 2010 and critiquing each others’ work was a key part of the process. I found it really helpful, but my writing was at a really early stage then.

My husband reads my work sometimes – which I always hear you should never do, ie share your work with your partner – but he’s honest, and kind, and he usually just asks me questions rather than suggesting how I might change things. And the questions he asks lead me places.

I asked a few writers to read a draft of WEIGHTLESS before I submitted it to agents and they were really helpful. Mostly they just gave me confidence, but they also asked questions that prompted me to make some small but important changes. And then my agent, once she signed me, did something similar before we submitted to publishers.

I’m not sure how I’ll approach it this time – it certainly feels too early to me to share the work with anybody. But I know eventually I’ll run a few things by my husband and then I’ll submit the novel to my agent, who has an incredibly keen eye.

Weightless_blog tour banner

Where do you buy your books from?

It’s interesting, because people always talk about the “death” of the book. That books are being replaced by eReaders and other electronic formats and soon no one will buy physical copies. But spending time with other readers and actively participating in the book blogging community makes me think this is all crap. From what I can see, the book is just as popular as ever. When you scroll through the booklr tag on Tumblr, no one is taking photos of their eReaders, it’s all photos of gorgeous book hauls. People are passionate about books and reading and that’s never going to change.

Which got me thinking… I live in a small town that has a couple of book stores that I never use. So while book buying is still alive and well, I think book stores will disappear before the book ever does.

Why? Because even though I have book stores in my town, I don’t buy my books there. A book from an Australian bookseller can cost anywhere between $15 to $25. As such, I buy all my books online, where they are cheaper. Or from my local Big W where books are around $10 to $14.

Where do you buy your books from? Online or from a local store? Are book stores dying out?

Review: Boomerang by Noelle August

Title: Boomerang, Book 1 in the Boomerang series
Author: Noelle August
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Blurb:

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret.

Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

What began as a powerful connection between them is treated to a cold shower courtesy of two major complications. First, Boomerang has a strict policy against co-worker dating. And second, they’re now competitors for only one job at the end of summer.

As their internships come to an end, will they manage to keep their eyes on the future and their hands off each other, or will the pull of attraction put them right back where they started?

Why I picked it up:

I saw this recommended in a couple of different places and decided to give it a go.

My Thoughts:

Boomerang has a killer first line!

On the single most important day of my life, I wake with the thought: Oh crap, where are my panties?

This line said a few things to me:
1. This book is going to be fun.
2. I already feel like I’m on familiar territory, which is great, because I like new adult contemporary romances.
3. This is already written with a nice upbeat voice.

I have to admit though, I’m not a huge fan of novels where the protagonist is into acting, drama, filmography or anything relating to the movie business, so really, this book could have gone either way.

This novel is sort of defined by its outlandish characters. I wasn’t sure if I was a fan… it felt as though this book was written for “movie” or something. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the premise… a guy and a girl competing for the same prize, it isn’t my favourite romantic cliché. I must prefer a hate-to-love story than a hey-you’re-hot-but-I’m-going-to-pretend-I-don’t-think-so story.

Overall though, this novel was a bit of fun. It had some great can’t-put-this-book-down moments and then some average this-is-silly moments. But overall it was a cute read and pretty enjoyable.

My Verdict – 3 stars

Monthly Wrap Up – March 2015

March was a great month for me. 2015 is well and truly getting off to an awesome start! Here’s a little wrap-up of all the fun and excitement!

March 2015 in a Nutshell:

My Reviews:
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach – 2 stars
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – 5 stars
Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren – 3 stars
I Was Here by Gayle Forman – 3 stars
Fake by Beck Nicholas – 2 stars
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton – 3 stars

My Author Interviews:
Natasha Ngan on The Memory Keepers

Discussions:
What book has been on your shelf the longest?
What is your favourite genre?
What is your favourite cliché in novels?

Reading/Blogging Events:
In March I was fortunate enough to attend two reading events. They were great fun and I definitely look forward to attending more in the future.
– Readers & Writers Down Under on the Gold Coast – post to come
Sylvia Day Signing in Brisbane

Blog Posts I Loved:
I’ve been doing a lot of research on “taking your blog to the next level”. I’m considering doing my own version… my thinking cap is currently on.
Five Years On: The Ever Changing World of Books and Blogging
9 Ways to get the most out of old blog content
15 resources for an awesome blog design
5 free resources for growing your blog
25 free resources for bloggers

How was your month?

What is the most outlandish thing you’ve done to access the Internet?

I was going to update my blog with something completely different today, but considering my circumstances right now, I have been inspired to discuss another topic.

Right now, at this very second, I’m sitting in the front seat of my car, halfway down a 1km driveway using the hot spot on my mother’s iPhone. It’s 8pm at night, pitch black and I have my Macbook Air open in my lap writing this.

Why am I half way down a driveway in my car? Because our Internet at home is down, and we live out of town, so I get better reception to tap into a hot spot down here, lol.

Which got me thinking… what is the most outlandish thing you’ve ever done to access the internet?

Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic, Contemporary
Links: GoodReads

Blurb:

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

Why I picked it up:

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

My Thoughts:

The writing in We All Looked up is beautiful. It flowed really well and was written in a way that described the characters perfectly without describing them at all.

Up until her dad got sick, Eliza had believed the universe to be a fundamentally balanced place. She figured that, excepting the super lucky and the super unlucky, most people ended up with about the same amount of good and bad in their lives, when all was said and done.

I also liked the themes in this novel – insecurity, uncertainty of the future, the toss up between obeying your parents and following your heart, the fragility of life, etc.

Why had he assumed time was some sort of infinite resource? Now the hourglass had busted open, and what he’d always assumed was just a bunch of sand turned out to be a million tiny diamonds.

I didn’t expect this novel to be so… gritty. I thought it would just follow a bunch of kids and their worries at the end of the world – and it did do that, but it was also a serious look at how society can disintegrate into chaos in the face of an emergency – with a state of emergency declared and kids being thrown into prison and police guarding schools.

As a whole, this novel started really strong. In the first few chapters I was thinking wow, I hope this book never ends. But at the end of the day, I seriously disliked  the characters. I never fell in love with them or the world they existed in. I couldn’t summon anything more than a vague interest in what was happening to them, and I think that’s because they didn’t have endearing qualities. I found them destructive, selfish, petty and almost depressing. They were really dark and gritty.

It kind of bothered me that they didn’t do anything beautiful before it all ended. And I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want to spend time with loved ones. They were off with people who barely gave a shit about them… I didn’t identify with them at all.

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. You can see previous weeks here.

Books I Read:

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Boomerang by Noelle August

Books I Reviewed:

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – 5 stars

Books That Appeared In My Mailbox:

Just a Queen by Jane Caro – Thanks UQP

Books I Bought:

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines – I bought this copy to be signed at Readers & Writers Down Under
Lick by Kylie Scott – I bought this copy to be signed at Readers & Writers Down Under

New eBooks:
iBooks still has the first book in some NA series free to download, so get onto that if you haven’t already.

Run to You by Clara Kensie
Real by Katy Evans
Popping the Cherry by Aurelia B Rowl

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

This is a hard question for me, because I sold my entire bookcase of books back in 2011. Prior to that I had a really healthy collection, but decided to get rid of them all before I went to Europe and traveled for four months… so a lot of books I’d had for a long time were no longer in my possession.

bookshelf

That said, one of the books I did keep was the Harry Potter series :) I don’t think I’d ever sell them. My copies are well-loved and yellowing with broken spines and dog eared pages, but I love them. They have a lot of character!

What book has been on your shelf the longest? Perhaps it was one you inherited from your parents, or bought yourself when you were young… Tell me about your well-loved books!