Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hello You! You're my friend...and I'm celebrating You! ❤

Friendship Give-aways for Thanksgiving!

"...Was my only chance at friendship here destined to be thwarted at every turn?"- Sophie Mercer, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

I have met a lot of wonderful people in my life, some of them became very very good friends.  There were, however, many thwarted friendships as well.  There had also been on-line friendships that began well...and ended up really bad.  I'd like to think they are ones that are never meant to be.

Why am I mentioning the thwarted and the unpleasant ones?  Because  I believe life shows us these undesirable things sometimes to let us focus more on the good!  It has made me appreciate more what I have!  This is why, I'm celebrating all the friendships I have in my life!

This message is to thank all of YOU:  Blogger friends, fellow writers and readers out there who have always been there for me.  Whether or not I have something worth reading, you are always there.  I often find myself unable to write anything worthy of posting and yet you keep coming back.  Again and again.

So, please let me tell you.

I heart  ♡♡♡ you all.

I'm celebrating Friendships!! YaY!

This Thanksgiving (in the UK, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving but I'd like to join my my friends in USA and in other parts of the world who are), I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you how grateful I am for each one of you. You know who you are.  I'm so glad that we crossed paths, that we are on-line buddies and that ours is the kind of friendship that has not been thwarted.

As a sign of my appreciation and lurve and with the help and generosity of friends who are donating books (massive thanks!), I'm giving away:

From the Author of Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold.
This is her memoir.
A Breath of Fresh Air by Erica James
A story of finding love again after a tragedy from
a Sunday Times Bestselling Author

An e-copy of Build a Man - donated by the author, 
the Bestselling Novelist Talli Roland
She is also the author of The Hating Game and Watching Willow Watts
Big thanks, Talli!
An e-copy of The Doll by J.C. Martin
A delightfully creepy novellete and a must-read for any horror-lover!
Donated by Author J.C. Martin
Big thanks, J.C.!
A YA dystopian novel by Rae Mariz
This will be sent by mail to one of the winners within the USA only
Big thanks to my friend Theresa Milstein for this book!

and I also have:
A beautiful floral Writing Set with 20 sheets of writing paper and 10 envelopes
plus I'm including some surprise treats inside!
Come on, I know you want them!  It's easy, you can do one, a combination or all of the following:

1.  share this on your Facebook wall - 1 point
2.  share it onTwitter - 1 point
3.  post a link on the side bar of your blog - 2 points
4.  write a blog post about it - 3 points

Please leave me a comment telling me what you've done and which books above you like in order of preference...and don't forget your name and e-mail address so I can let you know if you are one of the winners!

This ends on 30 November 2011, 12 midnight UK Time.  Winners will be announced after 30 Nov.

All giveaways, open internationally.  The Unidentified by Rae Mariz is open within the USA.

I'd love it if you follow me but it is not necessary or a requirement to enter. Sharing the news is to let others know I'm celebrating them, too.  Thank you so much for being here ❤ 

♥♥♥BIG Thanksgiving Hugs!♡♡♡

Friday, 18 November 2011

Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Another book review!  I promise you this is worth your time.  I just loved this book to bits and I really have to share it!

You probably have seen the film, Pay It Forward which stars Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment.  The film was based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  I had the honour of meeting Catherine on-line after I searched for her on Facebook as soon as I began reading Don't Let Me Go.  Let me tell you, it's not only her book I find amazing, Catherine herself is pure awesomeness!

Without much further ado, let me share with you this astonishing book!

Back cover summary:

Sometimes a child knows better... 


Ten-year-old Grace knows that her mum loves her, but her mum loves drugs too. And there’s only so long Grace can fend off the ‘woman from the county’ who is threatening to put her into care. Her only hope is... 

Grown-man Billy Shine hasn’t been out of his apartment for years. People scare him, and the outside world scares him even more. Day in, day out, he lives a perfectly orchestrated silent life within his four walls. Until now. . . 

Grace bursts into Billy’s life with a loud voice and a brave plan to get her mum clean. And it won’t be easy, because they will have to confiscate the one thing her mum holds most dear . . . they will have to kidnap Grace.

Why I like it:

A heartwarming tale of friendship and love.  Love in all forms.  The story depicts the goodness of humanity.  That in each of us lies kindness, no matter who or what we are.

I loved the characters in this story.   It's a feel-good book that would make you wish there was a Book 2.  It's funny, soul-soothing...full of selflessness and compassion.

I am particularly impressed with how the author switched point of view from an adult to a 10-year old girl.  I think it's brilliant!

I am now definitely a fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde!

"So I guess people figure it's not as hard to lose your mother when you never got along anyway.  But they're wrong.  They're dead wrong.  It's always hard to lose your mother.  Always.  If you loved her, if you hated her.  If she smothered you, if she ignored you.  It doesn't matter.  She's your mother.  Your mother.  That's just a very tough bond to break." 
- Jesse, page 233, Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Disclaimer: I own a copy of the book above. This is an honest review and I was not compensated for this.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

String Bridge by Jessica Bell

A Book Review and An Interview Part 2

As promised, fellow bloggers, I'm back with Jessica Bell again.  I've got 3 more questions answered by the lovely Jessica! (Thanks again, Jess!).  But before that, let me tell you about her book, String Bridge and why I like it.

Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian musician, Melody, was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter and settled in Athens, Greece. Keen to play in her new shoes, though, Melody trades her guitar for a 'proper' career and her music for motherhood. That is, until she can bear it no longer and plots a return to the stage--and the person she used to be. However, the obstacles she faces along the way are nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits ...

Why I like it:

Definitely gripping.  It might be a cliche to say it's 'unputdownable' but there isn't any other way to describe it.  Just amazing.

With a storyline so consuming, it felt like being in some sort of a trance reading this book.  I couldn't stop.  It felt like being on a rollercoaster of emotions.  Just when you think Melody is going to make a long-time dream come true, just when everything is all coming together - piece by piece...BANG!  Everything shatters.  How does Melody put all the pieces back together again?  Where does she go?  What is in store for her?

Intense writing.  Outstanding dialogue.  Impressive metaphors.  Jessica Bell writes beautifully.  String Bridge is a powerful novel.

One of my favourite parts (my ARC copy is full of markings!):

"I just want my mother's hugs.  I need soothing maternal hugs without having to explain why.  And even though the hugs are in the form of a gentle voice through a phone, I can still imagine these hugs - the reassuring scent of henna and coconut moisturizer - her smooth skin against my cheek as she kisses and breathes me in."  - Page 164

Before I can reveal too much, I guess I must stop here.  But let me tell you.  This is definitely a MUST-READ.

and below is the rest of the interview. Hope you all enjoy it like I did!

A Chat with Author Jessica Bell, Part Two:
The One where she talked about having children!

Len:  In String Bridge, Melody has a you see yourself being a mother yourself in the near future?  Do you dream of having children? 

Jessica:  Oh yes, definitely. I love kids. But I'm really not sure I'm ready, to be honest. My "career" has just started to kick off, and I'm a bit worried about putting myself into Melody's shoes! lol But you know what? I'm not getting any younger, so I think I might just have to bite the bullet. Soon.

Len:  There's a lot of humourous lines/parts in String Bridge that really made me chuckle.  For example on page 165, you wrote:  "Oh, how I'd love to squash someone's head between two trashcan lids.  I could make music at the same time.  Become a member of Stomp."

I think this is hilarious.  Did they naturally come as you wrote the first draft?

Jessica:  Nope. Usually that stuff comes in much later. These things are like extra touches. The icing on the cake, sort of thing.

Len:  On page 213, you wrote (as Melody):  "Somewhere up there is us, a happy us, in some parallel universe, living the way we're supposed to be.  I truly believe that the earth is our practice ground - the place where we are to test things out, to make mistakes, to discover what we believe in, what we are passionate about.  Death is when we move on and go up there - to the real world; to start again, to rectify our mistakes and live a happy and fulfilling existence.  There is no hell.  Earth is hell.  This is where we are allowed to sin.  Up there, is where we no longer want to."

I loved this part.  It is very deep.  I had to stop and think after reading this part...and then I read each word again, slowly, making every word feel like tiny morsels of food in my mouth, savouring them.

Which makes me ask this question:  do you personally believe this?  Do you believe in the life after death?

Jessica:  Firstly can I just say, that what I love about reading is savoring phrases.  When I find things like this, I underline them and mark the page on the inside of the cover.  When I find things I want to underline, the book becomes a prized possession and will never leave my bookshelf, not even into borrowing hands.  That said, I am SO THRILLED, you felt like this about something in MY book!!!  Did you know that that is the only thing I have ever wanted from my readers?  This is the most exciting moment, I have to tell you.  This is what I wanted.  I wanted people to savor my words.  So thank you so much, Len, thank you for savoring them!!!

In answer to your question, yes, I believe this.  I am not a follower of any particular religion, and I don't believe in "God" the way many do.  But I do believe there is something greater than us out there.  And I believe there is so much more than what we experience here.  I truly think the earth is our playground where we grow, learn, pick up our own shit.  But I don't believe that our transitions happen chronologically.  I believe it's possible we have already moved on in some other time frame.  I believe we are whatever and wherever we imagine ourselves to be.

Jessica, thank you once again. It's such a pleasure to have you on my blog.  

Congratulations on being on the Bestselling List on Amazon!!!! 


Disclaimer:  I received an ARC of the book above from the publisher for an honest review and I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Chat with Author Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell, one of my favourite people in blogosphere is launching her book, String Bridge this month!  YaY!  Let's do the happy dance for Jessica!

I have a bit of good news - I have Jessica on my blog today!

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you will probably notice that some of the questions I asked Jessica were the usual questions I'd ask an author.  I hope that this will not bore you - but the truth is, I really wanted to know her answers to these questions.  Now, my biggest mistake was this:  I did not ask her a single question about her debut novel, String Bridge!!!  Arrrrrghhhh!  Yes, I know, I've hit my head on the wall several times already today.  Looking back, I think that the mistake was because I sent her the interview questions months before I got a copy of String Bridge.  And I wanted to ask questions after reading the book.  Now.  I need to calm myself down.  I am posting my review on String Bridge on 15th November...I'm hoping it is not too late to ask Jessica a couple more questions.  If I get lucky, the answers will be posted with the book review, how's that?

I'm happy now.  Hope you are, too.

Now, friends, let's have Jessica!

Len:  What was your job before you made the decision to become a writer?
Jessica Bell:  An English text book writer/editor for English Language Teaching materials. Still am.

L:  Do you write full time?
JB:  Nope. Whenever I can fit it in!

L:  Who are the authors that influenced your writing?
JB:  Marilynne Robinson
Margaret Atwood
Raymond Carver
Gwen Harwood
Anne Lamott
Rebecca Miller

L:  I am really interested to know this - what are your most favourite books - the ones that you will be happy to read over and over again?
JB:  Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson is the only book I have ever read multiple times. I still find new things in it too. It’s an acquired taste, though; not for everyone. You need to read it and savor it. You can’t read this book for the story. You have to read it for the sheer brilliance of language.

L:  What do you look for when reading a book? Do you pick it up because of its cover or do you take friends’ recommendations when choosing one?
JB:  I actually don’t pay much attention to covers, I think it’s the blurb which is the first thing I look at. Mind you, if the cover looks tacky and cut and pasted together in five minutes, you can forget it, unless the book was written by a friend, then there’s no chance. Might be a bit shallow, but there’re only so many hours in a day, right?

L:  (*Laughing*  Because secretly, she agrees...hahahahaha!)

L:  You write poetry and literary fiction (aside from being a Singer and Songwriter), do you have to switch from one to the other - I mean, from being a poet to a novelist and vice versa depending on what you are writing?
JB:  All of my writing begins quite raw, so no, I don’t really have to switch, because the bulk of my creativity comes when I begin to embellish the content that’s already written, and I have the same system for both fiction an poetry. I write, I tweak, I color in.

*Len whispers to blog readers:  Have you heard all about it?  Jessica did not only write a book.  She also wrote and recorded a song for, let me correct that, she recorded an album!  Yes, all for her book, String Bridge!

L:  How do you deal with writer’s block?
JB:  I don’t suffer from it much because I don’t ever force myself to write. I really do think that writing when you want to is the key. The rule, that we must write every day, just doesn’t work for me. If I write every day, my creativity runs dry.

L:  Please can you tell us about the challenges you had to face on the road to publication? I’m sure a lot of our blogger friends would like to know.
JB:  Hmm … challenges … rejections, rejections, tears, tears, conflicting advice, rejections, tears, conflicting advice … need I say more?

L:  Any current projects that you are working on?
JB:  Yes, MUTED, which was inspired by a short story I wrote for an anthology called TINY DANCER. Here’s my current blurb:
It's illegal to wear clothes. In some streets, it's also illegal to sing without accompanying instruments. Concetta, a famous Italian a cappella singer from before “the change,” now living in Arles, France, breaks these laws. As punishment, her vocal chords are brutally slashed and her eardrums surgically perforated. Unable to cope living a life without song, she resolves to drown herself in the river clothed in a dress stained with performance memories. But Concetta's suicide attempt is cut short as someone grabs her by the throat and pulls her to the surface. Is it the busking harpist, who encouraged her to feel music through vibration, acting as savior? Or a street warden on the prowl for another offender to detain?

L:  Thank you very much once again, Jessica. Is there anything you’d like to add or tell your friends and supporters out there?
JB:  Have you crossed the String Bridge yet? Hahahahaha …

L:  Yes I have!  I have!  And I loved it!  Congratulations once again on your debut novel!


How about you, blog friends?  Have you crossed the String Bridge yet?  If you haven't yet, here are the links:

Jessica's links:
String Bridge Website:

Purchase links: