Blog Tour

Blog Tour: We Other by Sue Bentley

Here is the Second of my Blog Tours for today – We Other by Sue Bentley being run by Rachel’s Random Resources. I am honoured to be taking part on DAY ONE of the tour which goes until the 6th June which is publication day too!

Blurb:

Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.

When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.

Amazon UK – Amazon.com

Author Bio:

Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. She also writes for children and adults under various pen names. A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. We Other is her first book for Young Adults.

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Giveaway (International):

  • Win a signed copy of ‘We Other’ and a personal letter.
  • Worldwide entries welcome.
  • Please enter using Rafflecopter. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner.
  • Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

My Review:

OK so I umm-ed and errr-ed about signing up for this as fantasy is not usually something I go for but I decided that I needed to stretch my reading brain and I am REALLY glad I did! From the moment we meet jess, I was on her side – her sassiness in the face of what she is dealing with is admirable and her sense of humour is amazing too. But Jess is not the only character that Bentley has written perfectly!  Her new friend Lisa sounds like me when I was younger so I of course loved her immediately and then meeting Caleb and willing him with every bone in my body to ‘GET OUT’ made me realise that I was truly ensconced in the story!

I have to admit that the first couple of chapters jump a little between the real world and the other, and with the names and types of beings we are meeting, I did find myself slowing down for those chapters, certainly at the beginning. I suspect that is more due to my lack of fantasy experience than it being the books fault!

I love that she gets you trying to guess things right from the start – sometimes she does what you think she will do, but not always which is great and definitely keeps you reading!

One bit I loved was the scene with Crowle in Chapter 5;

“He Grimaced. ‘In the old days, we used to be partial to the odd slice of roasted mortal. My father kept a stable of them for the kitchens. I had the care of the newborns.'”

and then later .. “Infants don’t do a lot, besides supping, sleeping and shitting.’

Overall I think this is a great book and one you should definitely read, whether you think you like fantasy or not …!

4 Stars

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Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks

I am delighted to bring you my stop on this blog tour today (the first of two today – never say I’m not good to you)!  This blog tour is organised by Lola’s Blog Tours and runs until the 28th May. I received a free copy of the book in return for my honest review.

The Author:

Born in Boston, MA and raised in Miami, FL, Sara Marks has two masters degrees and plans to never stop getting over educated.  She likes the idea of having all the academic regalia she can ever possess and winning with the most degrees in her family. By day she’s an academic librarian.  In what little free time she has, she also knits and plays with her dog Cedric Doggory.

You can find and contact Sara Marks here: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, Amazon, Her Mailing List.

Blurb:

Phi Alpha Pi is the oldest and largest sorority on campus and new president Lizbeth has a busy senior year ahead of her. She’s determined to keep her sorority in good standing on campus after a year on academic probation. She’s trying to manage the new sorority house manager, Mrs. C, who has her own ideas about how to support the sorority sisters. All while trying to find balance with her own academic goals to complete an honors thesis, graduate, and decide her future plans.

The last thing Lizbeth expects is her anger when Wil, a new member of the Alpha Pi fraternity, pushes every one of her buttons. Lizbeth finds Wil, a new transfer to the university with his best friend, to be rude, snobby, and judgmental. Even though she tries to avoid him, he seems to be everywhere, scowling with displeasure when he sees her.  That is, until his Thanksgiving proclamation of love. That causes Lizbeth to reconsider how she sees the world.

GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, Kobo

Excerpt:

The more they walked around the museum, the more Lizbeth realized they liked a lot of the same pieces and artists for very similar reasons. They didn’t draw while in the Matisse exhibit, but Lizbeth would periodically sit and doodle while listening to tour guides who led groups through the space. Her paper was quickly filled with little triangle butterflies and poorly drawn horses.

‘Suddenly I expect you to love unicorns and rainbows,’ Wil said, sitting next to her on a bench and looking over her shoulder.
‘I do!’
‘I was joking’
‘I’m not. I also love mermaids. Ask Becca. For years I was going to turn into one when I grew up. It was my career goal for quite a while.’
‘Are you a good swimmer?’
‘Fantastic! I’m a much better swimmer than I am an artist.’
Wil laughed at her. ‘You are great at riding horses and swimming? Did you want to become a unicorn
later?’
‘No, I was going to be a mermaid princess who came on land to ride her unicorns. That’s why my grandparents bought me Windfola.’
Wil blushed, probably remembering his plan to buy her horse.
‘Then your income would be princess-based.’
‘Obviously, a great plan.’
This time they both laughed. Wil wouldn’t let her see what was on his paper. They left the exhibit and headed for a cafe in the museum to grab lunch. As they left the exhibits, Lizbeth saw him fold his paper and slip it into his back pocket.

As they made their way to the cafe, they got distracted by a collection about roosters across cultures. They stood before a painting of a rooster called “The Cock” Neither recognized the artist, but Lizbeth felt inspired.
‘The thing that catches my eye about this cock is the color and shape. Notice the left curvature of the cock. The shape is of an average cock. What are your thoughts about the cock, Wil?’ Lizbeth said.
She turned to face Wil and found him trying to stifle a laugh.
‘Do you find cocks funny, Wil? A cock is nothing to laugh at. If you had a cock as grand as this would you want people laughing at it?’ Lizbeth said.
She would have continued, but she started laughing herself. She let Wil take her hand and pull her out of the room.
‘You’ve seen my terrible drawings. Let me see what you did’ Lizbeth said once they were seated with lunch from the cafe.
‘No, it’s nothing.’
‘Wil, don’t worry. I won’t tell your aunt how you aren’t a well-rounded young lady.’
Wil laughed at the joke, but refused to let her see what he had drawn.
‘This isn’t over. The more you refuse, the more I want to see what you drew,”
Lizbeth said as she got up to throw away their trash.

Author Interview:

I was lucky enough to be able to ask Sara some questions about Phi Alpha Pi and her reading life, and here is what she said!

Phi Alpha Pi is the second book in your ‘21st Century Austen’ series and is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with your first being a Persuasion re-telling. What made you pick those particular books / that particular author?

I started with these two books because they’re my favorites and my go-to plots (second chances and personal growth).  I’m taking a break from the modernizations for book three, but am already working on my update of Emma and Northanger Abbey.

Do you have to have read ‘Modern Persuasion’ to read this book or is a ‘standalone’ series?

I call this an anthology series because they exist in the same universe, but only the thinnest tendrils connect them.  You can read them in any order and the connections are show in the short stories that exist.

Do you have to have read the original ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to understand Phi Alpha Pi?

I don’t think you need to have read the original and readers have told me the same thing.  The nice thing about modernizing a book is that it’s contemporary, but nothing has to connect to the original. I find that books that are variations of Austen are more often sequels, prequels, and alternative versions of the story.  They require knowledges of the original. My story is about people like us who have no connection to their Regency era counterparts.

What made you set this story in an educational setting?

I love academia.  I love getting degrees and learning new things.  I’ve been at a college or university (for school and work) since I was eighteen.  This is a world I know better than I probably should. College specifically is a time when a lot of  people start making friends, meeting partners, and deciding how they might spend the rest of their lives.

Who was your favourite character to write about and why?

I love writing Jorge more than I thought I would.  I’m one of those people who find villains compelling characters.  I had to get into his head more than the other characters and try to figure out what motivated him to be so manipulative.

And who was the most difficult and why?

Also Jorge!  In the original he seduces and dumps young women, ruining their reputations.  That simply wasn’t going to work, as much as I tried to find the nuances of such situations. I had to think about what modern con artists do and it all centers around money.  It took a while and push back from beta readers to get him to the right place.

Do you know what book comes next and is it another Austen retelling?

The next book is a romance/mystery about a women whose husband doesn’t come home after a guys weekend.  The blurb will be at the end of Phi Alpha Pi. It’s my own idea and I’m surprisingly anxious about it being good.  Book four, which I’m already working on, is a modernization of Emma.

Were you ever in a sorority yourself? If yes, which one and tell us about your experience, if not, do you wish you had been and which would you have liked to join?

The first time I went to college it was at Florida State University. I was in a co-ed fraternity: Alpha Phi Omega and they focused on community service over everything else.  I joined because a close friend had also done it and my other friends were joining too. I had other friends that joined sororities and fraternities. I considered joining a sorority, but it can be expensive and I had other interests.

Your ‘day job’ is a Librarian; what is the best part about the job?

The best part of being in a library, for me, is that I get to keep learning new things and collaborating with interesting people in the faculty and students.  We are getting ready to take on making a series of instructional videos and improving those we have on YouTube. I’ve been learning more about putting videos on YouTube and it’s something I know I can use to promote books too.

You have professed a love for Wil Wheaton (I mean, who doesn’t love him?!), hence the name of one of the MC’s in this book – what, in your opinion, is his best performance to date?

I fell in love with him when he did Star Trek the Next Generation, but his best role was definitely Stand By Me (ed: AGREED!).  My secret favorite is a 1991 he did with Sean Astin (who I also loved), Toy Soldiers.  I only read Ready Player One because he was the narrator (it was worth the read!).

I see that you have been a NaNoWriMo participant for the past 14 years or so – how many times have you ‘won’ and do you have any suggestions or words of wisdom for anyone planning on taking part?

I’ve won it every year but one.  My advice is to not worry about the quality of the words. A lot of people get stuck in crafting the perfect opening or making sure every work is perfect.  Just keep writing and don’t delete because it’s about quantity. It’s really tough for people to remember. If you think 50,000 words is too much to manage, in April and July you can set your own word count for Camp NaNoWriMo.  I wrote Phi Alpha Pi in the April 2014 event and Modern Persuasion in July 2014!

I love reading challenges and am doing quite a few this year – are you challenging yourself to read a certain number of books or perhaps certain books this year?

I’ve done the GoodReads annual challenge, but I’ve cut down my goal to like 50 books because I get obsessed with reach the goal instead of enjoying the books.  I usually get in like 100+ books and it helps that I love audiobooks. Right now I’m at 21 books, about 3 books ahead of the goal. I suspect it will pick up in the summer and then slow down again when things get crazy in the fall.

Giveaways:

There are two tour wide giveaways during the blog tour of Phi Alpha Pi! There is a US Only Giveaway for a prize pack and an international giveaway for 14 e-copies and a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi!

US Only Giveaway

One winner will win a Prize Pack containing:

  • Mrs. C’s homemade officers shirt in Comic Sans (you pick XL or XXL)
  • A Phi Alpha Pi sorority sticker, candle, and bracelet (some of the items mentioned in the story).
  • An illustration by cover designer Risa Rodil
  • A rooster dishtowel (so you can make cock jokes with Lizbeth and Wil)
  • Autographed printed copies of Modern Persuasion, A Little More Modern Persuasion, and Phi Alpha Pi.

For a chance to win enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Open for all Giveaway

These are the prizes you can win:

  • 14 winners will each win an e-copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks
  • 1 winner will win a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks

For a chance to win enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Good Luck!

My Review:

Being British, Greek life is not something I know much about apart from what is show us on TV and in films, which I am sure is not truly representative of real life; I still have a real fascination with it though and that’s why I decided to take part on this tour. I also need to confess that although I have watched the TV series and film a few times, I never actually read Pride & Prejudice but that really didn’t matter.

I did struggle to get into the book to begin with – put I cannot put a finger on why. I think it must have ben just the mood I was in at the time as one I hit 26% on the Kindle, I looked up a moment later to realise I had made it to 53% without realising how long I had been reading! I soon then devoured the last half of the book and come the end, had really enjoyed it!

Sara tends to write words out in full (e.g. do not instead of don’t etc) and it takes just a little to get used to it (which is ridiculous really!) but it also brings it back into mind that you are reading a retelling of a Regency era book.

The characters are well written – I was invested in Lizbeth but also did feel occasionally that she was a little cols but this is something she acknowledges throughout the book.  Of course you can’t help but fall for Wil and Collins makes your skin crawl.  One thing that was interesting was the situation surrounding the Bennett sisters and parents now being Sorority sisters and other characters. I did feel it was a shame that Dr Bennett wasn’t mentioned a little more but felt that the Mrs C character was BRILLIANT!

I would definitely recommend this book if you want an ‘easy to read’ happy ending that you know is coming – if you know the story it’s interesting to see how Marks deals with things and definitely keeps you reading!

My rating is 4 Stars.

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