31 January 2012

Author Interview: Mark Tufo - writer of the Zombie Fallout Series

I'm super-excited to be interviewing one of my favourite ever zombie authors, Mark Tufo.  Mark is the writer of the Zombie Fallout series, and you can read my review of Zombie Fallout #1 (#5 will be published soon!) HERE



Welcome to The Aussie Zombie, Mark – why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi all, first off Katherine thank you for this opportunity, most folks after dealing with me have generally had enough! I will try unlike my main character to keep this short and not stray too far from the original question. I’m a former Marine, from a blue collar family, most of my life I found myself in the blue collar fields until I went back to school and decided to ’get ahead’ in the white collar world. It didn’t work out quite as well as I had expected. This answer leads directly into your second question.

Why did you decide to write a zombie book?

I wrote Zombie Fallout because I had once again been laid off from my ‘getting ahead’ white collar job. I was driving my wife nuts, I was stressed out, couldn’t sleep and was reading tons! One morning after a marathon reading session, I came downstairs and told my wife that I had read a decent zombie book but that I thought I could do better. Honestly I was kidding, but then she came back with ‘Then why don’t you.’ I also think that she was kidding but if it gave her ten free minutes from me bothering her than it was worth it.

Did you intend Zombie Fallout to become a series when you first started writing?

Zombie Fallout in its original scope and breadth was a one and done book. I had everything planned out exactly how I wanted it to unfold, I was halfway writing that first book when I realized that absolutely was not going to happen. One book quickly became three, so as I was halfway writing what I originally intended as the third book in the trilogy, I knew I would need a 4th, and then a 5th (and yes now a 6th). I’ve had a few readers actually berate me telling me that I was prolonging the story on purpose. That has no validity at all, I had an author friend tell me that I should just keep writing and when the story is done it’s done (but maybe stay away from calling them trilogies).

How did you come up with the idea of the Zombie Queen?

Eliza, is a friggen enigma even to me. When that creepy zombie girl/woman was standing in the field across from Little Turtle she was not Eliza (at least not as we know her now). Her and Tommy/Tomas where NEVER part of the original design. In fact Tommy was supposed to die on the Wal-Mart roof that very first night. I don’t have a clear explanation other than their characters took over and became who and what they are now.

Are the characters in Zombie Fallout based on anyone you know personally?

When I first started Zombie Fallout, I really never expected it to be read by anyone else but me, so I started with familiar names and people. So yes the majority of the people at the beginning are loosely based on real people. You write what you know. But at this point there is no way I could have predicted how any of those characters would have reacted at any given point along the way.

Sell me Zombie Fallout in 25 words or less.

This is more than a zombie book, it is about the bonds of family and friends and what one man will do to protect them.

Which is your favorite book in the Zombie Fallout series?  Which was the most fun to write?

Just so you know this is like picking a favorite kid, BUT ZF4 is my favorite. It is the first story I wrote without showing anyone (except my editor) until it was released. ZF1 however was my favorite to write, I had no expectations associated with it, it was written primarily for me.

Zombie Fallout 4 was released at the end of 2011 – do you have a plan for Zombie Fallout 5?

Zombie Fallout 5: Alive in a Dead World, should be available in ebook format by April 1st. (I’m notoriously bad at deadlines though)

How and where do you write?  Do you have a specific routine?

It used to be a much more constricted routine. When I was working for ‘the man’ I only wrote on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. When I first started to work for myself, I found that I could concentrate the best in between 10 am and about 4 pm. And now, I don’t know what the switch was but I can pretty much write at any time of the day. Oh and one huge thing! I have to have music cranked! I don’t know why other than maybe it keeps me focused on the task at hand, so when I write late at night I’m usually bebopping with head phones on.

What have been your best and worst experiences as a writer?

I don’t even have to think for a second about the ‘worst’ I had just put ZF1 out on amazon, and I got a couple of good reviews and then ‘bam’ I started to get slammed by the grammar police and other critics. I was starting to get some openly hostile reviews, I’m not kidding when I say I was a key stroke away from pulling the plug on the whole experiment. I was like ‘Who needs this *hit!’ It was an early reader (Rich Baker) that actually pulled me away from that precipice.

As for the best experience…honestly Katherine it is each and every time a reader contacts me. I can think of nothing more satisfying to know that there are folks out there that genuinely enjoy my books. 

Who/what is your writing ‘’inspiration’’?

I’ve been a reader forever so it’s hard to give credit to just one person, but Stephen King has been a favorite of mine for so long. And another story that has stuck with me since I was a kid is called The White Mountain trilogy by John Christopher, I’ve always wanted to spin as good a yarn as those authors.

If you could say anything to your readers and fans, what would it be?

Thank you, you folks are the reason I write. I appreciate each and every one of you! (Party at my house!)

Quick questions:

Early Bird or Night Owl: Night Owl (mostly)
Mountains or Beach: Mountains!
Sun or Snow: Snow, lots and lots of snow!
Coffee or Beer (homage to Mike Talbot!): Brutal question, if I honestly had to pick one over the other it would have to be coffee.
Cereal or Toast: Cereal (anything peanut butter flavored) (And no I do not like peanut butter on my toast, yes my wife thinks I’m nuts because of that and about a hundred other things)

So its looks like we'll be having a party at Mark's winter mountain retreat late into the night!  A massive Thank You to Mark for taking the time for this interview.

If you're a lover of zombie books, or if you've never read a zombie book before and want a great place to start, track down a copy of Zombie Fallout - I'll bet you $5 you'll become as addicted as I am!

Want to learn more about Zombie Fallout or Mark Tufo?  Check out the blog.
Want to buy your very own copy of Zombie Fallout - it's available on Amazon, Amazon UK, B&N and Smashwords.

30 January 2012

Review: ZombieDead by Ian Woodhead

ZombieDead by Ian Woodhead

Published: 19 December 2011

Pages: 122 (Kindle)

Genre/s: Zombie

Source: Author for review

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis


The rotting dead slowly clawed their way through the hard packed grave soil. The risen corpse only had one purpose, to feed on the living.

Somewhere on the welsh border; the insular village of Seeton continues its usual business unaware that the world around them is falling prey to the reanimated dead. Their routine lives are abruptly turned on their heads when a lone scientist arrives in their village with the virus close behind.

Dean Kasnovski had arrived home, his mind laden with the guilt of leaving his fellow researchers to perish in the secret laboratory hidden deep under the streets of London.

Dean is positive that a cure can be found but he’s quickly running out of time. As the villagers, departed loved ones return to feast on their warm bodies, Seeton’s surviving population direct their hate at the stranger’s in the village.

My Musings

I really enjoyed Ian Woodhead’s The Unwashed Dead when I read it in 2011, so I was pretty damn excited to start reading ZombieDead.

Opening with a group of teenage boys in the small village of Seeton descending into the sewers in an attempt to peek into the girls changing room of their local school, a cast of characters emerge that are gritty and realistic and a story of epic-creepiness begins.

Again, one of my favourite parts of Mr, Woodhead’s book are the characters – there’s no cookie-cutter nicey action-heroes here, only flawed characters that range from likeable to downright slappable.

Add in some intense zombies, a virus that reaches 6 feet under and an unlikely hero and you have all the makings of another memorable zombie tale. The action doesn’t stop throughout the story, and boundaries are pushed to their limits as the town tries to rally against the undead threat, all the while carrying on their internal politics and grudges.

ZombieDead is a short but intense ride – if you love zombies and incredibly real and believable characters, this story is perfect for you.




It's Monday! What Are You Reading (4)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey and is a great way for others to find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading.

Whew, what a reading week it's been!  Here's what I read this week:



Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam (review HERE)
Happy Birthday to Me by Brian Rowe (review HERE)
New Girl by Paige Harbison (review HERE)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (review HERE)
ZombieDead by Ian Woodhead (review coming today!)


Not too shabby - that's three of the books I was aiming to read this week all done!


On the blog last week:


Blogger Interview with Janice of Have Book Will Travel - check it out HERE
WWW Wednesday - HERE
I delved into my dusty shelves for The Time Will Come #2 HERE
My stop on the YA Giveaway Hop - my giveaway HERE (ends 31-1-12!)
I spilled out the contents of my mailbox HERE in In My Mailbox #10


This week I'm planning on reading:




Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson
Z-Strain by Rutger Klamor
Nocturnal by Scott Sigler


There will also be an author interview tomorrow with one of my favourite zombie authors, Mark Tufo (much excitedness!)


What are you reading this week?




 

29 January 2012

In My Mailbox #10 - Trying to Show Restraint


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers and readers can talk about the books and booky things they have received in the last week - paper-books, e-books, library loans, swaps, wins, anything!

I'm trying to be more particular about what I purchase - I've got something like *cough* 855 *cough* books that I own but have never read. That's about 8 years of solid reading if I don't purchase another book in the meantime. So, how did I do? Ermmm...


Kindle Freebies



Origin by J.A. Konrath
Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

e-Books



House Guest by John Paul Allen
Into the Badlands by Brian J. Jarrett
The Burn by Annie Oldham
The New World by Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss


Paperbooks
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green


NetGalley (thank you Macmillan Childrens!)


Life is But a Dream by Brian James
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett


What did you get in your mailbox this week?  
Let me know so I can snoop through it ;-)

28 January 2012

Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

New Girl by Paige Harbison

Expected publication: 31 January 2012

Pages: 304 (paperback edition)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary

Source: HarlequinTeen via Netgalley

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis

They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back. 


My Thoughts

I have to start this review with a disclaimer. I’m not a huge reader of YA fiction, and if I do read YA it tends to be post-apocalyptic or dystopic, contemporary is something that I only really read in my teens. But when I saw New Girl was an interpretation of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier I was intrigued, so still with some trepidation I started to read…..

New Girl starts with new girl (her name is revealed right at the end of the book, so for the purposes of the review, I’m going to call her NG), who has fantasized of attending a big old boarding school since reading Harry Potter, being accepted into Manderley which is located far away from her home town in Florida. Upon arriving things seem a little “weird”, and she quickly learns that as well as being the new girl in school, she is also replacing Becca, who mysteriously disappeared before the summer break. As the story progresses, more of Becca’s story is revealed and NG struggles with the pressure (and nastiness) of being the “replacement” for a beloved classmate and friend.

The story of New Girl is intriguing, captivating and well-written and is in first person POV for NG and third person POV for Becca. I was constantly drawn back to the story and every time I was forced to put it down I just wanted to get back to reading. Ms. Harbison’s writing style is near faultless and matched the story perfectly.

What I liked best about New Girl was the story, but also the characters of NG and Becca. Although completely different in their lives and behaviors, there are common themes of peer acceptation, self-identity and isolation. NG is an average, nice girl and as a reader I liked her immensely while simultaneously feeling sympathy toward her situation. The romance between NG and Max could have been built up a little further, but it wasn’t a main feature of the book for me.

The only thing that stopped me giving this book 5 stars is the ending – it felt a little rushed and things fell a little too neatly into place. However I will definitely be reading more of Ms Harbison’s work in the future.

Despite my hesitation when it came to New Girl, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. It is important to point out that there is alcohol, some drug use and “funky-time” in this book which does mean it is aimed at the older end of the YA spectrum. I’m not a prude when it comes to books, so this wasn’t even an issue for me, but something to keep in mind if you are looking for a clean YA read.


27 January 2012

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Published: 5 January 2012 by Headline

Pages: 224 (hardback)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Owned

Check it Out: Goodreads ~Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.


My Thoughts


My copy of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight landed on my desk at work just over 24 hours ago. Despite the looming piles of books to be read surrounding me when I woke up this morning, I picked this book up intending to read a few pages and then get some of things I had planned for today done. You know what they say about the best laid plans….

I’m hesitant to call this a “cute read” because I don’t think it does the story, the characters nor the writing justice. I had assumed that this book would either be written in first person POV of Hadley, but it is actually written in third person, which makes it feel a little bit more “grown-up” – in a good way! I really liked Hadley as a character, and felt sympathetic towards her without feeling pity, enjoyed her sense of humor, her claustrophobia is something I can completely relate to and Oliver is funny and sweet in that most English of ways (am I a little biased as Mr Kat is English? Most probably.)

Ms. Smith’s writing is excellent, delicately balancing the story with dialogue and story and moving at a quick but unrushed paced, with emphasis on character interactions, detailed but not over-the-top descriptions of people, places and situations and I was completely immersed.

I highly recommend this book, particularly to lovers of YA contemporary novels. It also has huge appeal for anyone who enjoys a good, sweet story.

Review: Happy Birthday to Me by Brian Rowe

Happy Birthday To Me by Brian Rowe

Published: April 2011 

Pages: 175

Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: Own library

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK 

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Cameron Martin has a huge problem: he’s aging a whole year of his life with each passing day! 

High school is hard enough; imagine rapidly aging from seventeen to seventy in a matter of weeks, with no logical explanation, and with prom, graduation, and the state championship basketball game all on the horizon. That’s what happens to Cameron, a popular pretty boy who's never had to face a day looking anything but perfect.

All Cameron wants to do is go back to normal, but no one, not even the best doctors, can diagnose his condition. When he finds love with a mysterious young woman, however, he realizes his only hope for survival might be with the one person who started his condition in the first place...


My Thoughts


I’d seen this book around the blogosphere and thought the premise sounded interesting – what would you do if you were ageing a year for every day that you lived? How would you cope with ageing faster than your peers, becoming physically older than your parents, knowing that instead of having another 60 years to live, you would only have another 60 days. And how much worse would it be as a teenager, with your whole life ahead of you, knowing your dreams and plans would never eventuate?

For Cameron (who I have to say is a bit of an arse in the beginning of the book), he decides to continue living his teenage life as normal – despite being ridiculed and ostracized by his former girlfriend and basketball team-mates, the pressure of his father and the fact that every day he wakes up looking and feeling a year older than the day before.

The characters of Happy Birthday to Me are interesting – Cameron is a self-assured brat at the beginning of the book, but as he rapidly ages he comes to realize some important things about life – as well as having a few creepy and surreal experiences as a 17 year old in the body of an adult. His parents and sister struggle with watching him age before their very eyes, and the adults around him begin to treat him differently, despite that he is still a teenager on the inside.

Happy Birthday to Me is well written – the story is clear and moves at a good pace, is engaging and raises some interesting questions about the restrictions we place on people when they reach a certain age, a family dealing with a medical anomaly and a little bit of supernatural thrown in for extra entertainment.

I did have one niggle with this book, and that was Cameron’s relationship with his girlfriend, Charisma (the name just grated on me!). I didn’t feel it added much to the story, only made me grind my teeth a little.

As this book is part of a trilogy, I won’t say much about the ending, but it did definitely make me want to move on to the next book as soon as possible.  As a YA writer, Mr. Rowe has amazing potential!


26 January 2012

Young Adult Giveaway Hop


Welcome to my stop on the Young Adult Giveaway Hop!  Co-hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Down the Rabbit Hole, there are dozens of blogs participating. Make sure you hop through the links!

I love ''free choice'' giveaways -  reading what everyone would like to win, and seeing what the winner chooses is fun - it also gives me some GREAT ideas for books I want!  So I'm doing it again - this time up to the value of EUR 15 from The Book Depository (as long as they ship to you for free!) - any YA book you want!

Review: Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam

Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam

Published: March 2009 by Sleepers Publishing

Pages: 174 (paperback)

Genre/s: Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Own library

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis

It’s the anxious eve of the millennium. The car is packed to capacity, and as midnight approaches, a family flees the city in a fit of panic and paranoid, conflicting emotions.

The ensuing journey spans decades and offers a sharp-eyed perspective on a hardscrabble future, as a boy jettisons his family and all other ties in order to survive as a journeyman in an uncertain landscape. By turns led by love, larceny, and a new sexual order, he must avoid capture and imprisonment, starvation, pandemic, and some particularly bad weather.


My Thoughts


Things We Didn’t See Coming is the story of one young boy, 9 years old on the eve of the millennium, and his subsequent journey through a world irrevocably changed by Y2K. As the world falls slowly apart and suffers through drought, flood, fire and disease, he teeters on the fence of petty crime and respectable government employment and experiences all facets of the evolution of human civilization.

The writing is beautifully stark, poetic and chilling, and the story twists and turns along with his fortunes and falls. This is not a book for the faint-hearted; there are few redeeming moments and little happiness in his journey through his teenage years and adulthood. The characters are flawed, but fit completely in the story – alliances are easily broken and every person is focused on their own and their families survival.

I enjoyed Things We Didn’t See Coming immensely – Mr. Amsterdam’s writing reminded me of Tim Winton or Ian McEwan and I was more than surprised to learn Things We Didn’t See Coming is his debut novel. I look forward to reading more of his work in the very near future.


The Time Will Come (2)


The Time Will Come is a fantastic meme hosted by Books For Company where we can feature those poor books that we brought, put on the shelf, and haven't (yet!) read.

All you have to do is:
- Pick a book you have been meaning to read
- Do a post to tell us about the book
- Link the post in the linky
- Visit the other blogs!

On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad

Published: 19 June 2007 by Atria

Pages: 320 (Hard-back)


Adele Pietra has heard her mother say that her destiny is carved in the same brilliantly hued granite her father and brother cleave from the Stony Creek mine: she is to marry a quarryman. But when Adele's brother, Charles, dies in a mining accident, Adele sees the chance to change her life. Enrolling at Yale as Charles, Adele assumes his identity -- and gender -- as a way to leave behind her mother's expectations and the limitations of her provincial Connecticut town.

To her own surprise, hair chopped and chest bound, Adele falls in naturally with a lively crew of undergraduates: the Jewish Harry Persky with his slick Manhattan know-how, the quiet and mysterious legacy student Phineas, and the lanky, charismatic Wick. And in many ways, Adele faces her freshman year at Yale as would any undergraduate boy: she dreads invasive PE examinations and looks forward to dances, experiments with cigarettes and reads the classics. Through her work with a questionable eugenics professor and her friendship with a local Italian family, Adele confronts her class and ethnicity as never before, all the while fearing that both her crush on Wick and her mother's well-meaning interventions will put an end to her delicate masquerade.

I don't remember where I got this book (the case with so many of my books!), but it's been sitting on my TBR for nearly two years now.  I haven't read many books set during the 1930's and this one has an interesting synopsis - coming of age, social commentary - I don't know why I haven't read it yet!  

25 January 2012

What What What (WWW) 25-Jan-2012



What What What Wednesday (WWW) is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It's pretty simple - three questions:

What Are You Currently Reading?
What Did You Recently Finish Reading?
What Do You Think You'll Read Next?


I'm trying to have a bit of variety this week - hence my totally unconnected choices!

What I'm Currently Reading


Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson


Published: 7 November 2005


Pages: 320


Source: Owned


Why I'm Reading This: My Antarctica pick for the Around the World in 52 Books challenge, I'm intrigued by both Antarctica, and what it would be like to actually live and work there.  Personally I don't think I could do it - I HATE the cold!






What I've Recently Finished Reading

New Girl by Paige Harbison

Published: 31 January 2012 by Harlequin Teen

Pages: 320 (paperback)

Source: From publisher via NetGalley

New Girl is the story of the new girl at the boarding school Manderley, where mystery surrounds the recent disappearance of another student, Becca.

Why I Read This: I saw it all over the blog world and was interested by the premise. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, and my review will be up this Saturday.





What I'm Reading Next



ZombieDead by Ian Woodhead

Published: 19 December 2011

Source: From author

Why I'll Be Reading It: Ah my zombie friends, welcome back. Set in Wales, written by one of my favourite zombie authors, I'm looking forward to getting back to the brain eaters - and discovering some of Ian's new characters!












What are you reading right now?  Or planning on reading next?

Blogger/Reader Interview: Janice of Have Book Will Travel

Janice is the blogger behind Have Book Will Travel, a book blog dedicated to her journey Around the World in 52 Books, of which I am also a part of in 2012!  She also plays another role in my reading life, as co-moderator of my favourite Goodreads group, You'll Love This One (or YLTO) for short.  If you're looking for a friendly, fun group with lots of great challenges and themes, you should come by and check it out!



Firstly – a quick introduction – tell me a little about yourself.

That’s a tall order! I live in Northern Alberta on a hobby farm with a few cows and horses, two dogs and one cat. Our son and his family live on 10 acres of our land so I have a lot of interaction with my grandson (13) and granddaughter (10). I’m a self-employed bookkeeper with 15 clients. I’m celebrating 10 years with my little business.

I love quilting and of course, reading. I always used to say that I have a four year attention span because I take on a sport or hobby passionately for about 4 years and then lose interest. Quilting and reading are the exceptions. They are a life time passion.

Night Owl or Early Bird:


Definitely, I am a night owl. In fact, owls are my favorite bird. I have owl figurines and pictures all over my house. They are my “totem animal”.

Beach or Mountains:

Can’t I have them both? I have a vision of living in a little cottage on a cliff overlooking the ocean. When I was in Scotland on the Isle of Raasay, I found the spot. It’s a mix of mild mountainous area with an ocean view. Now, I just need a small fortune to make my vision a reality.

Sweet or Savoury:

Generally, I prefer sweet. I have to have a bit of candy every day.

Sun or Snow: 

There’s no doubt in my mind over that one! Get me away from these snow-bound winters!

Toast or Cereal:

I prefer toast. I love raisin toast with honey.

On Reading


What is your favourite book/author/series?

Gosh, I need to put on my thinking cap. I have to come up with THE perfect answer.

My favourite book of all time has got to be “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier.

Stephen King has long been a favourite author. Amy Tam, James Michener, and John Irving are also high up on my list.

As for series, I loved The Clan of the Cave Bear series, by Jean Auel. More recently, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins stirred my emotions.

Do you have favorite genres, or is there a genre you would really like to read more of?

My favourite genre is a toss-up between horror, fantasy, and historical fiction. I’d like to start writing, and I would start out with horror. Recently, I’ve read a couple of steampunk novels and would like to read more in that genre.

Where do you typically read? Do you have any particular place/outfit/food or drink requirements for a good reading session?

When I was a kid, I used to read lying across the bed on my stomach with my head hung over the edge and the book on the floor. That doesn’t work so well anymore. Now, my reading zone is my recliner, in comfy clothes, some trail mix on which to nibble and a Coke to sip.

What's the first book you remember reading?

Other than the primer we had in Grade One, there was a book about a fairy and fireflies in a garden. I don’t remember the name of the book or I would try to obtain it. A few years ago, I ransacked my former bedroom at my parents, hoping to find it, but my mother had disposed of all my old books. Shame!

How to do you find your next reads?

I get most of my next reads from friends by word of mouth or on Goodreads. I also find them browsing the books on various sites online including Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, etc. There’s no end to where I might find information about a possible next read.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading “The Blood of Flowers” by Anita Amirrezvani on my way into the office this morning. Plus, I’m about half way through “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Journey”, by Alfred Lansing. I will be starting the audiobook, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, on the way home tonight.

On Blogging

When did you start your blog, and why did you start?

I started my blog in December 2011 to blog about my journey in the Around the World in 52 Books Challenge from Goodreads.

What is unique about your blog?

I have decided that I am not going to review the books I read. Instead, I am going to write commentaries based on something arising from the book. For example, “The Blood of Flowers” has many themes that I could write on. The richness of food, spices, and colours has filled my senses. The treatment of women as chattel speaks to my feministic viewpoints. I could even decide to talk about folk lore and the role it plays.

What is your favourite, and least favourite, things about book blogging?

I don’t know. Each blog is as individual as the person writing it and that holds my interest. I’m a little in awe of the sophistication of the blogs that are out there with the inclusion of graphics, animations, photos, links, etc. I’m just a simple blogger who is still a bit confused about all that.

Do you review every book you read on your blog?

No. Initially, the blog was intended to be for the books I read for the challenge. But I will likely blog about other books as well. I might even have the occasion post not relating to books at all. You may find entries about quilting or family.

Where do you get your books from (not just review books!)?

Bookstores have large magnets. I cannot walk past a bookstore without going in and I always end up buying at least one book. I also get ebooks from iBooks and Kindle. Lastly, I love audiobooks and am addicted to audible.com. 

And Finally

Do you have an e-reader? If yes, what do you like about e-reading? If no, why not?

I love being able to touch a word and get the dictionary definition. I find myself trying to do that with a dead tree book now and feeling a sense of disappointment when it doesn’t work. I like being able to highlight and make notes which I don’t like to do on DTB’s (don’t want to mark them up). Best of all is the ease of acquiring the books. If there’s a book I want right now, I don’t even have to leave the house.

Does cover art / design influence the books you choose?

Absolutely! I love covers. I love titles. Those will be the first thing to draw me in.

If you could say one thing to all the authors that you love, what would it be? 

Thank you for enriching my life and my dreams.

Thank you Janice for taking the time to tell us about your reading, your blogging and yourself!  If anyone is interested in joining the ATW in 52 Books Challenge, drop on by HERE and join the Goodreads group.



If you would like to participate in my Blogger Interviews, please click HERE.

24 January 2012

Review & Giveaway: In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories by S.B.Lerner

In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories by S.B. Lerner

Published: 13 September 2011

Pages: 72 (paperback)

Genre/s: Short stories, Adult Contemporary

Source: Author for review

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK 

Synopsis

An engrossing collection of funny, poignant and bittersweet stories about busy young women who find men in all the wrong places (the garage attendant across the street, the stay-at-home dad in the playground, the younger man at the diner counter) and discover something about themselves in the process.

The stories speak to the curiosities and actual experiences of many city dwellers...A cross between anonymity and 'what-ifs'.


My Thoughts


In the Middle of Almost is a collection of short stories about women and their experiences in meeting men, whether randomly or by design. Without giving too much away, there are stories of love that can never be, realization of the importance of freedom, not settling for Mr. Right Now and conflicts between safety and excitement. There is also an excerpt from the novel A Familiar Stranger and two short-story memoirs focused on family, and in particular, parent-child relationships.

All the stories are beautifully written (some in first person POV, others in the third-person), and although it is difficult to bring characters fully to life in a short story, all the characters are individual and their personalities shine through. Whether I agreed with the choices the characters made or not, I still felt a connection with each and every one of them.

I really enjoyed all the stories, especially Out on a Ledge where I felt a particular affinity to Jessica and her story which was both touching and bittersweet.

If you’re looking for a short story collection that is well-written, engaging and thought-provoking, you should really pick up a copy of In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories – I highly recommend it.



S.B. Lerner has generously offered two Kindle versions of In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories for a giveaway! Enter below and have the chance to read this fantastic collection yourself!


23 January 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3)




It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey and is a great way for others to find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading. 


Last week I read:


Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (review)

Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt (review)

Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo (review)


In the Middle of Almost by S.B. Lerner (review and giveaway to be posted tomorrow!)

On the blog this week:
  • I interviewed Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer here
  • Winner of Dreaming of Books Giveaway and a list of the Top 11 Most Wished for Books was announced here
  • I fell off the book-buying wagon in spectacular style with In My Mailbox #9 here
  • I confessed my Reading and Blogging Slumps here
  • I joined The Time Will Come here
This week I'm planning on reading


ZombieDead by Ian Woodhead

New Girl by Paige Harbison

Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson

Alias Dragonfly by Jane Singer

Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam

What are your reading plans for this week?

22 January 2012

In My Mailbox #9 - I've been a bad bad girl!



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers and readers can talk about the books and booky things they have received in the last week - paper-books, e-books, library loans, swaps, wins, anything!

If you remember from IMM 7 & 8, I was on a book-buying ban - instead of filling up my shelves and e-readers with even more books that are going to take me years to read, I was focusing on review books, freebies and catching up on some of the other books jousting for top billing on my TBR pile.

Well, this week I fell off the wagon - I discovered that a Dutch website has had an explosion of English language titles since I last checked them out a few years ago, and well...some books accidentally fell into my cart and somehow my bank card typed in it's details and BAM some books appeared in my mailbox. A miracle!


Bought (paperback)

Gone by Michael Grant
The Poet's Wife by Judith Allnatt
Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson


Bought (e-book)


The Boy From Baby House 10 by Alan Philips
Dying to Live: Life Sentence by Kim Paffenroth
Zomblog by T.W. Brown
Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me Again and Happy Birthday to You by Brian Rowe (I got #3 for free - I had to buy the others, OK!)
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

For Review (NetGalley)


The Coward's Tale by Vanessa GebbieIf Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter
Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
On Haunted Ground by Lisa Rogers


For Review (from the Authors - thank you!)



Deadlocked by A.R. Wise
Vaempires: Revolution and Vaempires: White Christmas by Thomas Winship
Mountain Man by Keith C. Blackmore
Hellhound on My Trail by D.J. Butler


Won! 


Blood Drunk by Angela Lovell (thank you Angela and Melissa of Books and Things!!)
Ok thats 24 books. In a week. I think I need an intervention!!!

What did you get this week? Leave a link so I can stop by, or let me know in the comments!

21 January 2012

Review: Zombie Fallout (Zombie Fallout #1) by Mark Tufo

Zombie Fallout (Zombie Fallout #1) by Mark Tufo

Published: February 2010

Pages: 322 (paperback)

Genre/s: Zombie

Source: Own library

Check it out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis

It was a flu season like no other. With fears of contracting the H1N1 virus running rampant throughout the country, people lined up in droves to try an attain one of the coveted vaccines. What was not known, was the effect this largely untested, rushed to market, inoculation was to have on the unsuspecting throngs. Within days, feverish folk throughout the country, convulsed, collapsed and died, only to be re-born. With a taste for brains, blood and bodies, these modern day zombies scoured the lands for their next meal. Overnight the country became a killing ground for the hordes of zombies that ravaged the land. This is the story of Michael Talbot, his family and his friends. This is their story a band of ordinary people just trying to get by in these extra-ordinary times. When disaster strikes, Mike a self-proclaimed survivalist, does his best to ensure the safety and security of those he cares for. Book 1 - Of the Zombie Fall-Out Trilogy, follows our lead character in his self-deprecating, sarcastic best. What he encounters along the way leads him down a long dark road always skirting on the edge of insanity. Can he keep his family safe? Can he discover the secret behind Tommy's powers? Can he save anyone from the zombie Queen? - A zombie that seems by all accounts to have some sort of hold over the zombies and Mike himself. Encircled in a seemingly safe haven called Little Turtle, Mike and his family together with the remnants of a tattered community while not fighting each other, fight against a relentless, ruthless, unstoppable force. This last bastion of civilization has made its final stand. God help them all.

My Thoughts


I first read Zombie Fallout in July 2011 and then went on to read Zombie Fallout 2 and 3, all one after the other. The Zombie Fallout Series made it into almost all of my top 2011 lists and still remains one of my most recommended zombie books. I’m not the biggest re-reader – I’m always a little scared that I won’t enjoy the book as much the second time around – but I’m so glad I went back to this one, and I will re-read the rest of the series before moving onto Zombie Fallout 4.

Zombie Fallout is the story of the Talbot family, and their survival through the first weeks of the zombapocalyse, when a government flu vaccination program goes catastrophically wrong. Mike and Tracy Talbot gather together their children and join other survivors in their housing estate, Little Turtle to try and evade the zombie hordes.

Written in the first person POV of Mike Talbot in journal-style, there are also third person entries from other main characters such as Mike’s wife Tracy and daughter Nicole, and his sons Travis and Justin.

Mike Talbot is a fantastic main character, an ex-Marine/Human Resources Executive/Road Worker and survivalist with a die-hard dedication to his family and friends and a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor Рhe could have been the ultimate zombie book clich̩, but is definitely not. The other main characters and supporting characters are well-developed and their interactions are believable and a great mix of laughs, tension and emotion. The bad guys are ultra-creepy and the good guys are imperfect in a way that made me like them all the more.

Zombie Fallout has a perfect mix of tension-building and action, with a great big wallop of snarky, sarcastic, humor - exactly the kind of book I love – great characters and dialogue, good writing and a pee-your-pants-scary Zombie Queen thrown in for good measure.

It’s hard to say more without giving the story away, particularly as I know how it progresses through the next two books, but Zombie Fallout remains exactly what it was the first time I read it – one of my favourite Zombie books/series and one of my most highly recommended books to both zombie enthusiasts and readers who are looking for their first ‘proper’ zombie book. 




Extras – here are a few of the lines that made me smile, laugh or smirk!


“I honestly wanted to stop the car and thank Captain Obvious”

“Tipper looked like a cokehead. He twitched more than Tom Arnold when Roseanne was yelling at him”

“He was a good man, maybe a card or two shy of a standard deck but you could always draw in the missing cards on the jokers”

“I was moving like an epileptic on crack, shitloads of movement with no purpose”

“Zombies were coming through like holiday shoppers on Black Friday at a Best Buy with 50 inch plasma televisions on sale”

“I’d like to say there was a face-off but the zombies take that stuff way too literally”

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