Saturday, July 28, 2012

Author interview with Shayne Leighton

Welcome to the blog Shayne Leighton author of The Vampires Daughter (Of Light and Darkness #1)

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Shayne and I love every aspect of storytelling - which is probably why I am involved in so many aspects of it. I love writing novels, and am especially in love with my Of Light and Darkness novels, but I am also developing the feature film adaptation of the novels as well as maintaining an up coming career in acting and singing as well. I have been in several independent films and am currently working on my first original album. I'm married to someone from the Czech Republic (where my novel takes place) and my favorite foods are eggrolls, olives, and iced tea. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

I've been writing short stories since I was in the second grade. My favorite story was one I wrote in the fourth grade about what it would be like to live inside a bubble. My mother is a published poet, so I guess I've always known that I would love writing and storytelling - and that it would be something in my blood. 

When did you initially begin writing?

As early as I could spell (even when I couldn't) I was writing. :) I've always loved it. 

What was your inspiration for Of Light and Darkness?

My initial inspiration for the story came from one day when I was imagining my life as a fantasy. If I lived within a fantasy world, what would it be like? It was almost a fanfiction of my life, with a few elements skewed. I imagined everyone I knew and loved, and what kind of magical creature they would all be. I was inspired to form the characters first and the plot began to form itself later. 

Could you tell us a little about Of Light and Darkness?

Of Light and Darkness is a Gothic fairytale that takes place in Prague, Czech Republic, about a young girl raised by a Vampire. She is the only mortal who lives in this hidden, secret, magical city as she tries to survive among impossible things. It's kind of a cross between Interview With The Vampire and Harry Potter. 

Do you have any other novels and if so are they of the same kind of genre?

Of Light and Darkness is my debut novel. The next novel I am working on is the sequel to the first in this series. But I do have several other ideas including an alien novel and also a true story drama depicting my husbands life and his immigration process to America. 

Where can we find Of Light and Darkness?

Of Light and Darkness is available wherever books are sold including Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and more. 

Where can we find you? (blog, twitter, ect..)

You can join my fanpage on, or on my twitter @ShayneLeighton, or by visiting my blog linked on my personal

Is there anything else you would like to say? 

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, and I look forward to hearing from some new readers! I always try to connect with all readers who have something to say about the book, so please don't hesitate to leave a comment or write an email. :) 

The Forsaken by Lisa M Stasse - Book Trailer

Saturday Snapshot - July 28th

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by At Home With Books. To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

I had a real good week this week. As I live in Cornwall, England I live a five minute walk from the beach and it has been very sunny this week, I've felt like I'm on holiday! I spent the majority of the week at the beach, or sunbathing on the balcony/in the garden including an amazing day where all my friends came down and we played rounders and swam in the sea. Also I finally took my driving theory test and passed with 48/50 on the questions and 66/75 on the hazard perception - which I was really surprised as the man told me as I felt like I hadn't even passed! I've also started healthy eating and exercising regularly again *yay for determination* (though an injury to my knee means inside work outs and no jogging for the moment *sigh*).

Didn't take too many pictures this week... 

I've begun to make some yummy smoothies lately

The day before my theory, sunbathing and revising

As a result I tanned loads! (though I'm half Asian so...)

Ohh and did you notice I changed the design of the blog? Thought some summery colours were needed!

Hope everyone had a great week, enjoyed the weather and have a lovely weekend to come! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guest blog with Rachel Hartman

Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman

The inspiration behind the book 

My inspirations for Seraphina came from all sorts of strange directions over eight long years, and are difficult to untangle from each other. Here three of the largest and most important.

One of my earliest inspirations was the famous Renaissance song “Mille Regretz” by Josquin Desprez. My sister took a course on early music at university, then came home and shared the music with us. “Mille Regretz” was one of her favourites, and I have to agree that it is something extraordinary. I don’t always warm to polyphony, but this song is achingly mournful. It inspired me to seek out more early music, and somewhere in all that listening I began to get glimmers of a musician character, but she was little more than a shadow.

I was a musician myself when I was younger, playing cello all the way through university. I particularly loved performing in an orchestra, how the music swept so grandly around and through me. It was an unbelievable rush, much more intense than being a mere listener. I had always wanted to convey that feeling, and having a musician as the main character gave me the opportunity.

A second spark of inspiration came from my parents’ divorce, as sad as that was. I was almost thirty and was shocked by how much it hurt. You’d think an independent adult, married and living far from them, would not have felt it so keenly, but I absolutely did. I had a lot of processing to do, and somewhere in all that an idea came to me: what if you married someone with a secret, and you didn’t learn the truth until they died?

I realize that’s a question that’s been asked before (The Constant Gardener comes to mind). There were  lots of possible secrets, however, and I had just the thing readily at hand. I had been writing and illustrating a comic book, Amy Unbounded, for years; it was set in a world where dragons could take human form. That could be the secret: someone married a dragon, not knowing what she was, and not learning the truth until she died in childbirth.

And thus, Seraphina was born – and a born musician. The pieces were coming together, but there was still a big one missing.

I was on the second or third iteration of the book before I had this big epiphany. My son was having some difficulties in preschool, so we had him assessed. One of the conditions he was assessed for (but turned out not to have) was called “Sensory Processing Disorder”. I read about it during the assessments and was deeply intrigued. SPD affects what the brain does with sensory input. Some brains may overreact (such as finding all clothing itchy, or noises unbearable) and some may underreact (some children bump into things on purpose, just for the stimulus; some may fall out of their chairs while working because they lose track of where their bodies are in space). All brains are different, of course, and everyone has their own quirks in this regard. Such differences only constitute a disorder when they are extreme enough to be debilitating – and they can be.

If dragons can take human form, then they will suddenly find themselves with human senses. How do they adjust to that? What must it be like to go from scales to skin, or from sharp predator’s vision to our relatively pathetic eyes? And what about emotions? Would dragons even have them, in their natural shape? Would they suddenly find themselves overwhelmed by sensory input when they take human shape?

This flurry of questions informed the final versions of the book. So many wonderful things came out of it: the nature of human/dragon conflict, insights into their history and misunderstandings, tension within individual dragons, and especially a new dimension to the deception Seraphina’s mother had perpetrated, the one that had gained her a human husband and cost her her life.

Those were the wellsprings of a few ideas, anyway. I’ll tell you, though, I get inspired just walking down the street. There is nothing I enjoy more than asking “what if?” The answers to that question are myriad, and they can take you to places you never imagined.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Title: Awaken #1
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Published: May 2011
Synopsis: Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her. 
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking. 
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

I was instantly drawn to this book due to its beautiful cover that seems simple
 yet holds so much meaning, matching perfectly with the story within the cover. When I read the synopsis I knew the book would live up to this, I have a little obsession with dystopian based novels/things to do with society and what the world could become. 
I have always 'disliked' or been one to not 'get along' with technology, saying 'I should have been born in the Victorian era' and my biggest fear - like in the film IRobot (you know with Will Smith) - is technology taking over the world. In Awaken technology isn't taking over exactly, however based in the year 2060 the population is allowing technology to live their lives so they become dormant. But there are people who want to change that, who want to show people how it is to live, really live and appreciate the outside world and interaction with others. 
But this world is all Maddie has ever known, she has become content with her life and then  Justin - the selfless, mysterious guy - comes along and turns her world upside down, she realises there was something inside her that was never completely content with the life she had. Justin is the one who shows Maddie and as he 'awakens' her to the world beyond the computers and gadgets, she awakens him to emotions he hasn't allowed himself to feel because he is too busy trying to save everyone else. The story is both fast paced with action and a slow awakening to these new worlds. Leaving you wondering if you spend enough time living, has technology already got a big seat in your life? and wondering if you think about others enough and even if you think about yourself enough. 
Like any novel there are obstacles and dilemmas, Maddie is very closely linked with the designer of the technology that has spiraled into control of the population. She's left with a choice between the people she has always known and loved and the ones who want to change the world, the one she begins to fall in love with. 
I could relate to this book in so many ways from my fear of technology having a too big of a presence in our lives to feeling controlled by parents to the want to live and appreciate nature and the world. Isn't it great when a book just gets you? 
I found as I was reading there were so many quotes I wanted to remember, to live by, here are a couple of them: 

' I'm a piece of clay they have to mold in order to hold a shape.' 

"It's like looking through a microscope your whole life." he said "You miss the whole picture. Sometimes you need to get lost in order to discover anything."

'We'll never realise our potential if we always live inside the boundaries of what we fear. Teaching society to be afraid and stay tucked safely behind their locked doors is not the answer to human problems. It only conceals the problem, like a bandage. It doesn't fix it. Giving the problem open air and room to breathe, to mix with other elements, is what helps it heal.' 

"You need to content with small steps. That's all life is. Small steps that you take every day so when you look back down the road it all adds up and you know you covered some distance.'

In my Saturday Snapshot post yesterday I mentioned this book and a lot of people said in the comments they haven't heard of or read this book and if you're hesitant about reading it I hope my review has given you that little push. I came across is by accident on amazon but couldn't find it in any shops so I ordered it, maybe it isn't widely known, but if you like dystopians such as Delirium, Across the Universe, Matched, Divergent... then I recommend this book for you, in my opinion it's better than a couple of those novels I just mentioned.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Snapshot July 21st

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by At Home With Books. To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

I spent most of the week with my friends, had a party and nights watching movies...

But I also read this amazing read (review will be up shortly)... 

I could relate to this book so much and there are so many quotes from it I adore. 

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Snapshot, July 14th

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by At Home With Books. To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

This week was my first week of summer break, I had a chilled week, spent time with friends, with books, with family and converted my room at our other place into an art studio. 

Poppies next to the bus stop

Visited the park I spent my childhood days in

Hope you had a lovely week. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: Rapture by Lauren Kate

Author: Lauren Kate
Publisher: Random House UK
Series: Forth and final book in The Fallen Novels

The sky is dark with wings . . . .
Like sand in an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past they must find the place where the angels fell to earth. Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this—live only to lose Luce again and again.
Yet together they will face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies . . . and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed. And suddenly Luce knows what must happen.
For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her—and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now will be the only one that truly matters.
In the fight for Luce, who will win?

Rapture is the fourth book in a dearly loved series of mine, The Fallen Novels by Lauren Kate, in fact I write because the first book in the series inspired me so much. So this series will always mean a lot to me and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life. 

As all the Fallen novels do, you simply can not predict what is going to happen and are kept on edge, gripping your book tightly, from page to page. The pace that has built up from book to book is even more intense in Rapture. Bringing us an race to run to the ending. 

Again despite all that is happening, it is all about Luce discovering herself and her past. I always hoped for what she finds and I realised quite early in Rapture she was the one. And I adore what she discovers and the stories uncovered. We find more strength in Luce, she is an heroine, a fighter, a woman who is not afraid to love, a woman who is not afraid to discover her self and be true to herself. All doubts in Daniel are erased, his love for Luce is understood and their love empowers everything. 

Rapture is also kind of like a road trip, or an 'around the world in 9 days', something like that... and for someone who hasn't got to discover the world yet, it's an experience. You learn culture and history and the world along with love and religion and faith. 

The myths and technicalities of the history of the fall the angels and so on, are so complicated that a book like this could easily become confusing, and yes maybe it isn't true but it is a fiction book after all,  and Lauren has made the story into a beautiful one, a memorable. 

The ending is what I adore the most, at first I thought is that it, is that what the big build up was for, because after a long race and build of tension I guess I expected something like a miracle or even something tragic, but the ending it has is actually perfect, it's simple and romantic and just perfect. Although Luce and Daniel could have had an immortal fairytale ending, maybe Lauren is trying to tell us that real fairytales exist in morality, and that is the most romantic ending I can think of. 

There are moments of grief and anger and disbelief along with love and admiration and pride - Rapture is the cherry upon this series of books, it does not go quietly, it leaves you crying and smiling and with a story you'll always remember. 
And now there is no more books to anticipate, I will be waiting for the movies! Though none could perceive it as perfectly as it has been written. 

Reviewed for Random House UK

I don't think you need me to rate this, you can probably tell how much I adore this series. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Saturday Snapshot (7th July)

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by At Home With Books. To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Yesterday was the last day of college and now it is summer break! I can't believe how fast this year has gone, I am half way through college! Scary stuff!

So me and my friends celebrated afterwards at pizza hut, it was a good day.

We failed trying to take photos like this many times..

Me and the girls

I was ill at the start of the week so not much happened other than yesterday and finishing college, hope everyone had a lovely week.

Many photos to come now that it is summer! I have art and photography projects to do which I am really excited about, nothing for psychology and for English I just have to read some classics (which I've been meaning to get around to anyway) so I am so excited for this 9 week break!

You'll be seeing more posts and reviews now!