Mirror Interview # 5 Luccia Gray

*Today our guest is the lovely and talented Luccia Gray. Please welcome her and take a moment to say hello and check out her work! If you would like to do your own mirror interview–it’s a lot of fun talking to yourself–go to the contact me page and send me an email :) CIMG4315

Why do you use a pen name?

There is a long literary tradition of writers using pen names. 19th century authors were keen users; Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell (the Brontes), George Elliot, (Mary Anne Evans), George Sand, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain. There are many contemporary examples, too: Anne Perry, Anne Rice, and Toni Morrison, among others. No doubt their reasons are/were varied. There is no one reason why a writer decides to write with a pen name.

I started using a pen name because I wanted my ‘writing persona’ to be distinct to my ‘ordinary persona’. I don’t consider it a pseudonym because I don’t keep it a secret. I consider it my ‘artistic name’. I’m trying to keep both ‘personas’ apart professionally, although they sometimes overlap.

Why Luccia Gray?

My pen name is part of me, so it’s an anagram of my birth name: Lucy Garcia. I changed the letters around to produce Luccia Gray. I feel comfortable using it. I consider it a tribute to myself, because I’m finally accomplishing my life-long dream to publish my work and become an author.

How does Lucy feel about Luccia?

Luccia is very special and fragile. She’s insecure, sensitive, and very creative. Lucy is assertive, strong-minded, and very practical. Lucy is very proud of Luccia, and Luccia is glad Lucy found the time, and peace of mind, to give birth to her. I know it sounds weird, but we both feel very pleased with this arrangement!

Why should I read your novel?

All Hallows at Eyre Hall, is a great read. It’s an intriguing and exciting neo Victorian, gothic novel, set in an imposing mansion, frequented by villains, heroes, lovers, and ghosts. I challenge you to read chapter one, and you won’t be able to put it down!

Which are your favourite lines in the novel?

All Hallows is a powerful novel. The characters who breathe life into the narrative are all unique and impressive, that is why so many have been given a voice and a point of view.

There are some beautiful and intriguing letters in the novel. The following extract is from a letter written by one of my favourite characters:

‘My hand trembles as I write this letter. I humbly entreat you to consider it a token of my eternal loyalty and adoration. I can no longer wait in silence while I watch you suffer unjustly. You are not alone. The place I most cherish is by your side, or better still, in your shadow. I offer myself to you in humble and loyal service for the rest of my days. For you alone, I live, I hope, and pray. I will do anything to alleviate your distress and contribute to your contentment. You alone shall be my mistress. My only wish is to remain as close to you as I should be allowed.’

What are you working on now?

I published All Hallows at Eyre Hall as an ebook in May, and it will also be available in print, soon. It is book one of The Eyre Hall Trilogy. I’m currently writing book two, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, which should be out at Christmas 2014. Book three, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, is due next summer, 2015.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

It seemed to be a daunting task to find an agent and/or a publisher, and I didn’t want to wait around for replies to query letters, so I just got on with it! I wrote my first novel, found wonderful beta readers, to test my novel and get quality feedback, a proof-reader, and a cover artist. I finally formatted for Amazon and CreateSpace on my own. Now I’m busy writing and promoting my book, myself.

Quite honestly, it has been a fascinating journey, and I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way, in the last eight months, that I’m really glad I decided to do it by myself. On the other hand, I would be delighted to find an agent and a publisher, to help me with practical matters, so that I could get on with my writing…

More Information and to contact Luccia Gray:

Visit Luccia Gray’s Blog at http://www.lucciagray.com

Read the first chapter of All Hallows at Eyre Hall: http://www.amazon.com/All-Hallows-Eyre-Hall-Breathtaking-ebook/dp/B00K2G4SXW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405987048&sr=8-1&keywords=luccia+gray#reader_B00K2G4SXW

If you are interested in reviewing this novel, please contact me at luccia.gray@gmail.com

Follow Luccia on Twitter: @LucciaGray

Visit Luccia on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8186541.Luccia_Gray

Like Luccia’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LucciaGray?ref=hl

A question for the authors out there

Recently I was discussing the writing process at a small conference in Reno, Nevada. One of the people I was talking to was saying she had trouble figuring out if her idea was her own or if it had been done before. I asked her if she reads within the genre she writes in and her answer was very interesting. “No, I’m afraid it will implant ideas in my head that aren’t really mine and I won’t know it.”

Logical in some ways, I suppose.

Still, this made me curious and begs the question:

 

Do you read within your genre? Do you think it helps you or does it harm you at all? Do you worry that you will inadvertently take someone’s idea and run away with it? If you don’t read other people’s work how do you know what is already being done?

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

” — Dr. Seuss

 

 

Mirror Interview # 4 Rishika S.

Thank you so much Rishika, for joining us on Readful Things today. It is so much fun to get a glimpse into the mind of an author and learn about their process. If you would like to do your own mirror interview, please email me from my contact me page here on the blog. Thanks everyone, and please take a moment to check out her work and spread the word!

 

Tell us a little about you and your work.

My name is Rishika and I publish under the name of Rishika S. My first piece of published fiction is One Chance. It’s a short story based around the life of a married couple that is torn apart by deceit. The story follows their path to finding trust and love again. A Bond Unbroken is another love story, and is based on the reunion of two people who had been greatly in love but were forced to take different paths in life. Both of them are short stories that fall in the genre of love stories – the kind of books that you would read while travelling, on holiday, or if you wanted to read something quick.

So how do these story ideas come to you?

Most times, any one scene from the story will play itself out in my head. This generally happens through my dreams. I see these vivid dreams that come with their own back stories and that, I know, will lead somewhere. And if I remember them long enough after waking up to write down some pointers, I have a starting point around which the entire story falls into place.

You have a scene, you have an idea of a story surrounding it – then what? Do you write a haphazard first draft, just getting it all out there, or do you detail an outline? What is your writing process?

I generally just work on it in my head, forming connections and subplots until it all comes together. A lot of research goes on during this phase which often aids the process. Sometimes, I may make a brief outline. But mostly, I’ll just start writing. I write individual scenarios and bring them together and I also write from beginning to end. But I’ve never done a first draft as such. Most of my work is already quite ready to be read and structured. I guess the first draft is getting cleaned up in my head itself.

But you do follow through the outline you’ve set, whether down on paper or not?

Not necessarily. The odd thing is that you create characters, you give them personalities, and then they just start behaving the way a real person with those personalities would. The characters can turn a story differently than I’d planned – basically take a different route to get where the story needs to. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I always go along with it just to see if it works better than what I’d thought of, and I’ve very often found myself agreeing with the paths they choose. That is actually the most beautiful part about writing a story. You create people, and they live out their own lives, just about following the idea you have. That’s what makes a story great, in my opinion. You have to really associate with your own characters if you want others to do so. And I want people to associate with my characters and their emotions. Only then can they associate with their situations and with the story. I want my characters to feel as alive to the readers as they do to me. I’ve found that from the many books I’ve read; the ones I’ve loved are the ones in which the characters just pull you in, all on their own. It was reading such books that made me want to write so that I could create that kind of pull in readers.

So do you think that reading is essential to being a good author?

Immensely! I think that if you don’t read, you can’t write. I read a lot as a kid, and still do. I miss reading when I need to take a break so that I can concentrate on writing. Reading is a major part of me; it’s what made me want to write. It’s what successfully pulls me out of writer’s block – just taking a break and reading for a couple of days. And there are some fantastic authors out there, who make reading not a hobby, but an experience that you live out with the characters.

If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?

J.R.R. Tolkien, because he is one author who writes beautifully and whose work, to me, is charming. His work is truly unique.

Michael Crichton, because he made me love science fiction even though I had always disliked science as a subject in school. But more importantly because his character development is brilliant – he really knows how to depict human beings and he does it so subtly that you won’t even realize it’s happening. That is why you can love, hate, and feel for his characters.

Stephen King, because from the little of his work that I’ve read (I’m really scared of reading horrors, but I’ve tried his books), and from the many quotes and interviews of his that I’ve read, I think he’s a brilliant man who voices his thoughts in a quirky, but very honest manner; and I think he’d be a great conversationalist. And I think anyone could learn a lot from him.

Let’s look at the opposite end for a moment – are there any authors, or even characters (since they’re the ones that make or break a story for you) that, given the chance, you would… I don’t know… punch in the face?

Quite a few actually. The first would be Bella, from Twilight. I’ve read the books, and I just couldn’t like her. The entire clumsy, modern damsel in constant distress needing rescuing thing didn’t work from me. Her need for a guy’s support at all times, the way she breaks down when Edward leaves, was all a bit over the top. I mean, a normal woman, I think, would pick herself up and move on. The second would be Edward Cullen – only because he sparkles like diamonds. I mean, come on! You’re a vampire! And Dracula is one of my favourite books. So I just can’t digest this new twist on the ‘why vampires can’t get out in the sun’ thing. I’m even okay with the ‘I hunt only animals’, though vampires don’t exactly have consciences, but that’s creative liberty. But shining like diamonds – nope, sorry! As someone who loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that’s a bit much to take. My third choice would be Frodo Baggins. Odd, I know, but not because I hated him. In fact, I thought the way his character is influenced by the ring and the way he begins to slowly change was awesome. I just feel so bad for him – he was a good guy who was entrusted with something that began to break him. And I’d punch him in the hopes of breaking him out of that spell (even though it wouldn’t work).

You clearly don’t like the Twilight saga! What about another series that has garnered just as much popularity – the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? You must have tried that one?

I did actually, but I couldn’t really get past the first half of the first book. It had nothing to do with the theme. BDSM has been around before Fifty Shades and will continue to be around. In fact, it’s an interesting genre to read too. But there was something about the story that just dragged on and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it, making it only the third book I’ve ever left midway! The same goes with the Twilight saga. Vampire fiction has always been popular. I’ve read others in the genre like Katherine Sorin’s City of Lights trilogy which I really liked (the vampires were all gory and bloodthirsty in those, fitting my idea of a vampire). And there is nothing wrong with the Twilight saga or the Fifty shades trilogy. They really work for some people and, like all books, have been created through effort which I respect. But I just can’t associate with them, or really like them either.

Say you were hanging off a cliff and the only way to save yourself was to read either Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. Which one would it be?

I’d brace myself for the fall! No, but seriously, can I watch the Twilight movies instead? That way, I get popcorn and save a lot of time… and my life!

You like giving honest reviews. But what would you do if someone gave your work a bad review?

I’d recognize that just how I can’t like every author’s work, not every reader can like mine. But like every storyteller, there are stories that I can tell in my own way which is different from others. And those that like my way, will like my work. You cannot please everyone, that’s part of every writer’s life. Accepting that isn’t easy. But I think I’ll get there with some effort.

Do you plan on continuing with short, love stories or is something else coming up?

I’m not genre limited. I write what comes to me. So I’ve got a lot of ideas for romances, fantasy, and mysteries and thrillers, which happens to be one of my favourite genres. But right now, I’m working on a full length novel – a historical fiction based in 700 CE, India, which should be up for sale end of this year or early next year.

Last question before we wrap up – how can one know more about you?

To know more about my work and me, you can visit any of the following links to my Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon author pages.

http://on.fb.me/R4HfLU

http://bit.ly/1ga5Hkp

http://amzn.to/1oOt1h5

Mirror Interview # 2 Elizabeth Tyree

Why don’t we start with who you are? Is this a pen name?

My name is Elizabeth S. Tyree and I write for the YA and Children’s age groups. I suppose technically they call what I do ‘Fantasy’ but I try to make sure that it is written like mid-20th century works would have been…no sex, no graphic language, and if there’s a fight scene or nastiness we move through it quickly. I don’t use a pen name because I am also a teacher and the daughter of a preacher so I work with people of all age groupings. It would be confusing for many of them to try to find my work if I used a pseudonym!

You can click any of these links and find me online (the last being my amazon.com page):

http://alaynabellesmom.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes

http://about.me/ElizabethTyree

http://www.twitter.com/writerbaby13

www.amazon.com/author/elizabethtyree

How did you make the choice to become a writer?

Some people have said that they chose to be writers in their teens, or late adulthood, or whenever…I wasn’t aware that it was a choice I got to make. I have always been a storyteller and if I take time away from my ink and paper, the characters chase me down and cause me all types of trouble until I give in. Of course, that is also what keeps me motivated as an author…when the voices in your head just want you to write down their story, that’s what you do! (disclaimer: the voices are very kindly dragons and fairies, except for the one bent on world domination, and they only ever pop up when there’s new pieces of story to tell.)

What can you tell us about your books?

I have written somewhere between 8 and 10 books, ranging from children’s picture book storylines to an ‘adult’ novel about a woman who has estranged herself from her mobster family. That does not include the several blog posts a week, the short stories I post each Sunday, the myriad of poems, or the three unfinished manuscripts that I am working on right now.

That’s right, I said 3 current works in progress (because I apparently enjoy chaos and insanity). Since all three are vastly different from each other, a case of writer’s block on one can lead to a great day of work on another. However, I am mostly trying on concentrate on Dragons in the Deep which is The Stone Dragon Saga: Book 4; since I have the first three segments of this series already published and available through Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Hastings (the bookstores will have to order it in for you). I have people asking when book 4 will be available…guys, it’s not quite halfway written!

Do you play favorites?

My favorite of my novels has got to be Dragon on My Neck. That book was my baby for years as I coaxed it out of a short story that had been written for contest on writing.com. Eventually, after it became my first NaNoWriMo win and had been edited and sent to several agents and publishing houses who weren’t looking for that type of tale, I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and discovered the joys of self-publishing on CreateSpace. Though not my first completed novel, Dragon on My Neck was the first novel I poured my full self into, and it has become the first in a series entitled The Stone Dragon Saga. The characters are always with me, their voices and forms flitting through my brain and the corner of my eyesight, just waiting for their next turn in the lime light. Since the characters are several dragons, a few fairies, a sorcerer, two band geek college girls, and some Brits…they know how to keep my attention!

So you write novels, short stories, and a daily blog post? How DO you do it?

As for how I do all of this writing…I’m a writer, duh! No, seriously though, I stay at home with my toddler (my parents have been so amazing to give me this opportunity for the past 2 years) and I write during her naptimes and after she’s gone to bed, unless I just HAVE to write at some other point, which happens more often than I can tell. The coming fall will find me in my own classroom, teaching writing and social studies to 5th graders, so we’ll see how that works out for my writing.

That is a lot of writing, how do you come up with it all? Do you rely on a muse or is this inspiration taken from a hard fought battle with your brain?

I find muses to be unreliable and flighty creatures, though wonderful to have around. I take inspiration from my daughter’s zeal for life, the actions going on around me wherever I am, and especially from nature which is ever changing and ever similar. However, the best way to find inspiration (in my humble opinion) is to make yourself sit down and write, whether or not you know what you’re going to get out. Sometimes the best chapters are ones that I had to force, and the favorite short stories or blog posts took blood, sweat, tears, and cursing at writer’s blockades to get them published.

Once I become inspired, or my child is asleep and my most pressing chores are done, I sit down with a notebook and colored pen. I don’t usually type up novels until the first draft of a section is handwritten, that provides me with an automatic opportunity for editing and redrafting as I type up my word count. Writing it out by hand also forces me to slow down a smidgeon and really see the story I’m writing, although there have been several writing sessions that I finished up and then could not remember writing large chunks of the story because I was so in the zone that I merely became the vessel for the words.

Do you have a special writer’s area that you go to in order to write?

I like to sit outside and write at the park or near the lake/ocean so that I can take ‘block breaks’ and become re-inspired by the goings on around me. However, when I need to feel that extra bit of separateness that can mean the difference between writing and giving in to the world around me (read, watching reruns and Netflix), I have a writer’s loft in the old choir loft of our home (yes, the choir loft. Before it became a private residence, our house was a church building. There is still as belfry, with its bell. Sadly, my father will be having our bats removed after the bat babies are old enough to move).

Is there anything that you do to help the writing process that others might find odd?

I occasionally do silly things, like hanging upside down over the couch or sitting on the front porch during a severe thunder storm so that I can write from a new perspective (the storm was super fun except for the wind gusts of up to 75 mph and the straight line winds). You just have to find what works for you and go with it, no matter what other people think (unless it’s illegal, then I suggest finding the closest possible legal approximation that doesn’t put yourself or others in horrid danger).

Thank for this opportunity! I enjoyed interviewing myself…though it may have been one of my dragons that did the interviewing ;)

 

Thank you so much, Elizabeth for giving such a wonderful interview! I love that last question and answer!

*I apologise if the links are not working as they should. WordPress has been giving me fits the last few days and this morning it has been nothing but issues. You may have to copy and paste the links into your browser if they don’t work  :( Technology!

The City by Dean Koontz

The CityThe City by Dean Koontz

#1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz is at the peak of his acclaimed powers with this major new novel.

The city changed my life and showed me that the world is deeply mysterious. I need to tell you about her and some terrible things and wonderful things and amazing things that happened . . . and how I am still haunted by them. Including one night when I died and woke and lived again.

Here is the riveting, soul-stirring story of Jonah Kirk, son of an exceptional singer, grandson of a formidable “piano man,” a musical prodigy beginning to explore his own gifts when he crosses a group of extremely dangerous people, with shattering consequences. Set in a more innocent time not so long ago, The City encompasses a lifetime but unfolds over three extraordinary, heart-racing years of tribulation and triumph, in which Jonah first grasps the electrifying power of music and art, of enduring friendship, of everyday heroes.

The unforgettable saga of a young man coming of age within a remarkable family, and a shimmering portrait of the world that shaped him, The City is a novel that speaks to everyone, a dazzling realization of the evergreen dreams we all share. Brilliantly illumined by magic dark and light, it’s a place where enchantment and malice entwine, courage and honor are found in the most unexpected quarters, and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Part coming of age story, part suspense novel, this is definitely not the Dean Koontz I recall from earlier novels.

I really wasn’t sure what to think when I began reading this novel. I have had good and bad feelings about the work of this author in the past. Sometimes his work would surprise and thrill me and yet other times I would come away feeling like I just didn’t get it. This novel, was a little bit of both.

If I had to choose what I liked about this novel and sum it up in a single paragraph, it would be that it is different and a bit unexpected. The writing is superb and the descriptions did not run away with the story as I have noticed in some of his other works. This was a new direction for Mr. Koontz to take his readers, and for the most part I thought it worked.

I won’t go so far as to say that every second of this book was exciting, but it was a thoughtful tale and had a lot of fully formed, independent characters that all added to the story. There was still some suspense and some tense moments as with his other works.

Overall, I gave this book three stars for being an example of an author taking a risk and making it work. If you are a fan of the older Koontz novels, this may strike you as a bit of an oddity but I encourage you to give it a shot.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Mirror Interview #1 John Howell

photo-by-tim-burdick-copy

 

John: Hi Ionia I’m so glad to be able to sit with you for this interview.

 

Ionia:Urm, John could you hold on a moment. I need to make a basic introduction. John W. Howell has a blog he calls Fiction Favorites [http://johnwhowell.com] It’s there he holds court from a small barrier island off the southern Texas coast. He has published his first novel titled My GRL [http://www.amazon.com/My-GRL-John-W-Howell/dp/1625530595/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388558903&sr=1-1&keywords=My+GRL ]and has submitted the sequel to his publisher Martin Sisters Publishing. John completed a career in business and began writing full time when his youngest graduated from college. Now John you may go ahead.

John: Good thanks for that intro. Although it is all true it still sounds like a fantasy when it comes from your lips.

Ionia: How so.

John: First there is the lovely Kings English accent which could turn reading a McDonalds menu into a thing of beauty. Second the information sounds a bit odd when you think of it.

Ionia: Odd? How do you mean?

John: Think of some old coot busting his butt in a business career and then turning to a writing career. It sounds like an old coot has a self-destructive tendency.

Ionia: Perhaps it is not a destructive tendency, but more a productive tendency.

John: See when you say things they come out so well.

Ionia: Tell us then what made you decide to write a novel?

John: I tried to write about ten years ago and had to give it up. I was working full time and trying to write at night. It just didn’t work. My manuscript still sits holding the laundry room door open. I have to admit it was pretty bad. I quit the writing with a promise I would return when I could devote myself fully.

Ionia: So you published My GRL and have finished the sequel. What’s next?

unnamed

John: I have started the last of the trilogy and am about 20,000 words into it. The second book is titled His Revenge and pretty much describes how the protagonist John Cannon is worked over by Billionaire Matt Jacobs who wants retribution for John messing up his terrorist activities in My GRL. The last book is called Our Justice and details how John develops the evidence to put Matt away for a long time.

Ionia: So when do we get to read the second and third.

John: Good question. The release dates are determined by the publisher so I hope His Revenge will be out by year’s end and Our Justice in 2015.

Ionia: What about after these are done?

John: By the way forgive me. I brought a thermos filled with margaritas. Would you care for one and if not do you mind if I go ahead?

Ionia: Yes I would love one.

John: Here you are. Would you like some crisps as well?

Ionia: Um I think I will pass on the crisps. Have to watch my girlish figure.

John: If you want to go ahead with the crisps I’ll watch your figure for you.

Ionia: *laughs* Okay sounds like a deal. Now tell us what else you are working on?

John: I have a collection of short stories that I am editing right now. I think I’m going to publish these stories myself.

Ionia: Why don’t you submit them to Martin Sisters?

John: I really don’t think they will be of interest to them. The stories are somewhat different and cannot be categorized easily. Some are thriller type stories and some more literary. I would be very comfortable just calling them a collection and see what happens.

Ionia: I have heard your stories have a reoccurring character named Frank. Tell us about that.

John: Yes Frank shows up in almost all my short stories. Frank is a despicable character who is self-absorbed and, as a result, stumbles into the oddest circumstances. I can say right now, nothing ever goes well for Frank. He is a symbol and representative of all the nasty people who think they have the power over individuals simply because they are the boss in the work environment. Personally Frank is the fictional personification of a boss I once had.

Ionia: Sounds like you did not like him much.

John: The sad fact I liked him, but he took advantage of a friendship and cost me an immense amount of stress.

Ionia: Do you ever talk or see him?

John: No. Thank heaven. I never want to see him again. I have created a way to work off what could have become self-destructive hatred and it feels good when Frank is on the suffering end of the story. The beauty of the arrangement is there is no bloodshed and justice is served.

Ionia: I’m glad you found a way to turn something negative into a positive. How about free time. What do you do?

John: I read mostly. I have a TBR pile that would choke a horse. I also write short stories to relax.

Ionia: The last time we talked you were working on an old FJ 40 Toyota. Still doing that?

John: No. I found a young man who was crazy for her so I sold her. I simply didn’t have the time to continue my restoration project. The young man is a firefighter and has days in a row off. He will do her justice.

Ionia: it is almost time to wrap up. Any advice for writers?

John: Yup. Keep writing. Don’t listen to those who say you should do things a certain way. Those folks really don’t know what you are attempting to accomplish and are really giving advice from their point of view. Also don’t show your work to anyone until it is complete. The biggest barrier to finishing work is creeping self-doubt. Once somebody says something in your work sucks, it is almost impossible not to be affected. Best alternative is that someone tells you something sucks after it is done.

Ionia: Thank you John it was nice having you stop by. Thanks for the drink and crisps

John: My pleasure totally

 

 

* On a personal note, John Howell–You do a better job being me than I do. I’d like my voice to come out of your head more often.

On a second personal note, John Howell is one of the true blue. He is definitely one of the most dedicated and hard working authors I know. His first novel rather blew me away, and as far as people go, you just can’t find any better than him. Check out his work, or drop by and say hello to him at his blog. He will enrich your life just by knowing him. Thanks, John–for the interview and for making my life brighter.

Lockwood & Co. The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co., #2)The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn’t made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood’s investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George’s curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood’s annoyance. Bickerstaff’s coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.

The author of the blockbuster Bartimaeus series delivers another amusing, chilling, and ingeniously plotted entry in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you ever look at your child and wish that they could see the magic in reading a book the way that you do? This might actually make them do it. It is very rare that I rate a book intended for youths with five stars. Honestly, most of them seem to be lacking any real plot, world or character building, etc. That is not the case with this series.

“The Whispering Skull” begins a bit after the last book ended, and continues to frighten and please with the sarcastic humour, most excellent descriptions of the setting and characters and leaves the reader wondering the entire book what is about to happen next. This book is full of surprises and twists and the pace is quick, so there is no time to lose interest.

If you were to take all the best ghosts from all the classic stories (think Charles Dickens) and put them into a modern tale, you might get a general idea of how cool the haunts in this book are. I loved that the author was so inventive in his spooks and the way they behave (or misbehave as the case may be.)

I can’t imagine a child picking this book up and not falling in love with it. The quality of writing is good enough to keep an adult entertained, but kids are sure to enjoy this. Jonathan Stroud has a unique knack for figuring out what terrifies us and makes us laugh and how to combine the two in equal measure.

I love this book, and this series. My highest recommendation.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the Publisher, Disney Book Group, and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Mirror Interviews: Authors Wanted

So, I’ve been thinking about doing a Wednesday feature here on Readful again as I haven’t done one in a while. Usually the Wednesday feature is a guest blog, and I’d like to keep that tradition running…sort of.

See, there’s two things. First thing: I was talking to an author the other day who pointed out that all author interviews seem to ask the same questions over and over. Not a lot of people pay attention to them, and it gets rather monotonous answering the same boring things all the time.

second thing: I’m lazy.

So, here is my solution:

I am looking for a handful of authors who want to do a blog interview. The catch is, I’m looking for a handful of authors who want to interview–themselves. Yep. I won’t send you any boring, already answered questions. I won’t ask you boxers or briefs or who would play your lead character in the movie. Please limit your questions to however many you feel like answering:)

You interview you. Ask yourself the questions you want to answer. Tell your audience what you want them to know. I’m not going to limit this to an exact science, so if you want to have a bit of fun with it–go ahead. If you’d like to be featured, email me at the address listed on my contact page and let me know. If I get enough authors, this may become a permanent feature of the blog.

Come on authors, you know you talk to yourselves anyway.

Writer’s Intuition

Universal Signs 032

How much do you rely on intuition, gut feelings, whilst you are writing, planning and choosing the avenues you will use to market your books?

I’ve had quite a few recent conversations with authors who are trying to decide whether or not they will stick with independent publishing or if they will try their hand at traditional. One of the things I have noticed during these conversations, is that these authors tend to ignore a lot of the market trends, the information about publishing or what is currently being said about odds, and go with instinct.

So, what about you? Do you rely more on what numbers, graphs and general opinion says about your odds of success in a venture, or do you listen to the inner voice and trust your feelings?

Do you ever stay away from something just because you have a bad feeling about it?

 

The Scrolls of Sion: Rise of the Dark Queen by TJ Therien

The Scrolls of Sion: Rise of the Dark QueenThe Scrolls of Sion: Rise of the Dark Queen by T J Therien

For five thousand years after the Great War, the world of Brynmor knew peace. The Orc had been driven from the land and the uprising of the Dark Elf ended in the near extinction of their Race. What survived of the Drow fled the crypt city of Sion and for five thousand years they dwelled in secret and shadow restoring their numbers deep in the Iron Hills. Not since Lolth had there been a Drow more ambitious than Rianon, High Priestess of the Cult of the Spider and Queen of the Dark Elf. Follow Rianon as she plots and schemes to reclaim Sion, the fallen city of the Dark Elf and the lost scrolls of Lolth that contain the ancient and forgotten dark spells of the God-Queen.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Scrolls of Sion: Rise of the Dark Queen is a deeply thoughtful and carefully crafted novel. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting when I began this novel. I knew the author wrote poetry, so I wasn’t positive that a novel from him would work. I was pleasantly surprised by his ability to write a longer work that was neither disjointed nor overly poetic.

This author has a way with words. You can sometimes read a novel that has a lot of extra words in it and feel like you keep losing your place as you go along, but that doesn’t happen in this book. There were a few places where I thought there may have been a bit of over explaining on the part of the author (you have to trust that your readers will be able to work things out and make connections on their own,) but I honestly felt as I read this book that each sentence had been selected with care. There are no pointless roads that lead off into dead ends.

Here’s what I liked about this novel: The characters are vibrant and the author is descriptive of both them and the world that surrounds them. You can see the characters in your mind’s eye without struggling to keep track of who is who. I did have a few issues with some of the names being difficult to pronounce. There are a couple that stopped me in my tracks when I came to them. Still, they do not sound similar, so once you figure them out you can distinguish between who is who.

The creatures are not simple repeats of other books. The author put thought into what kind of beings he would use and each of them serve a purpose for the advancement of the story. There is a lot of originality in this work.

The other thing I really liked about this story was the complicated lives and events that all interweave with one another. This seems like a story that could really go places, and I believe this could be a very strong series. The characters are well fleshed out, the plot has a solid foundation and there is plenty of reason to want another book after this one.

Overall, I thought this was intelligently written and will please those who love fantasy. I recommend you give it a try and see what you think.

http://insidethepoetsmind.wordpress.com/