Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Brand New Cover at Last!!


All right, admittedly this was supposed to happen over the weekend, so I’m a little late.

I have a legitimate excuse though – a very good friend got married on Saturday (Congrats Nora and Rob!) and I was a bridesmaid so I was a little busy.

However, now the wedding madness is over I have the time to do what I’ve been wanting to do for ages and reveal my new cover for The Last Knight.

I had to wait a while until the paperbacks were ready to go – but they pretty much are. So the new cover will be available from the end of this week hopefully..

Therefore, without further ado….Drum Roll please……
The Kindle/Front Cover


I am so excited about these. They make me super happy - I hope everyone else likes them too!
With huge thanks to two lovely ladies who made these possible - Jo of Silver Rock Designs for the stunning back cover photo and the runic design, and Jennifer of Eye 4 Design for the design work.



 
The Full Paper Back

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Book Review - Jaded


So firstly, let me explain a little about why this review is appearing on blog.

You see, so many wonderful people have read and reviewed by book and shared it on their blogs and spread the word, that I wanted to start giving back to the same community that’s been helping me. So I am going to start sharing the books I’ve read and enjoyed on this blog.

I was actually given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review – so let us begin.

 View Jade EYE.jpg in slide show

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00II0UUSQ

Jaded - Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie
 
(From the Back Cover
Jade has spent her entire life within the confines of the eye-color- obsessed Nirvana commune.
She dreams of experiencing freedom but travel to the Outside is forbidden. Besides, she’s a dutiful daughter who never breaks the rules. As her seventeenth birthday approaches, however, she realizes just how little she wants to follow the commune rules. She doesn’t want to undergo another eye color surgery, or immediately choose a life partner, or follow her parents’ life paths of teaching or wine making.
 In fact, her green eyes suit her just fine, she’s never even been on a date, and she’s passionate about photography. And yet she’s resigned to do as she’s told because it’s easier for her to close her eyes and follow orders. 


Her Grandmother Ruby’s murder is the catalyst that causes Jade to open her eyes wide for the first time in her life. She’s devastated yet determined to find the killer and their motive. With help from her mysterious friend Tyrian, and Peaches, the commune leader’s sweet daughter, Jade unearths dark secrets which include her mother’s illicit affair, her maternal grandparents’ escape from Nirvana, and a plethora of murders. To make matters worse, someone is hell bent on ending Jade’s mission for the truth, and that someone is most likely the killer. 


Jade can’t continue conforming to an evil society and yet she fears the Outside is just as corrupt. If she resolves to flee and is caught, the punishment is banishment to the slave cabins…and blinding. 

Although Jaded is considered a young adult dystopian novel, adults will be able to relate to Jade’s plight.)

Jaded  is ultimately the story of a girl figuring out who she is and what she wants from life, but with the added twist of growing up in a secluded commune, where some seriously dodgy things are happening and she’s facing the overwhelming pressure to choose her ‘life path’, a choice that cannot be changed once it’s made. In Nirvana, a person can only retire when their child chooses to follow in their career path, so the main character Jade, must decide before her next birthday which life path she wants, or take the third choice which is to leave her family and everything she’s known and try to escape to the Outside. The punishment if she gets caught is her sight.

So firstly, the things I didn’t like/struggled with:

1)      There needs to be a certain willingness to accept the basic premise of the book, which is, I have to admit a little unlikely. The commune is completely cut off from the outside world and has been for a significant length of time. Which in the modern day is hard to imagine. But it also meant that I struggled to figure out exactly what technology they did and didn’t have.

2)      I never did figure out exactly the significance of eye colour in the commune. I wonder if this is going to come in the next book, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. It could be as simple as a means to control the people, but I felt it had to have more than that, and it was the question I was most asking myself throughout the book and it was never answered.

In fact if I had any problem with this book it was that – not enough questions were answered. There was a big reveal when Jade finishes reading her grandmother’s diary, but the reader never finds out what. It is just mentioned as ‘a lot of horrific things’ or similar rather than any details. I think it might just be because this is a series and therefore some secrets have to be kept for the later books, but it did leave me just a little frustrated at the end of the book.

However those issues aside, I really did enjoy this book, for a number of reasons.

Jade is an interesting character with a lot of good qualities. I particularly liked that even when she starts considering leaving the commune she does worry about leaving her family behind when in a lot of YA books the MC runs off with barely a thought for their parents.

The romance is done very well. It really is. There is none of the insta-love so prevalent in a lot of YA books. Instead it’s a really nice, sweet development between two characters who’ve known each other for a long time. Ty, the male lead, is sweet and loyal with just enough protectiveness without being over bearing.

The overall plot and story are really interesting, the characters are very well developed for the most part and I feel there’s much more to all of them than meets the eye, and I honestly am looking forward to reading the next book. Hopefully I’ll get all the answers I need!

I’d recommend this to anyone who love YA but wants something a little different to the usual tropes and clich├ęs. The mystery/thriller element really made this stand out for me.

I would give this just under 4 Stars. It wasn’t quite a 4 for me, but not low enough to be a 3.
 
 
About the Author
View kristy.jpg in slide show
Bio: 

Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie lives in Warrenton, VA with her husband, two cats, and two dachshunds. She's a middle school counselor, graduate student at Longwood University, (pursuing a degree in School Library Media) blogger, short story and YA novel writer. When she's not working, she's traveling or dreaming of traveling. She's been to 39 states and is planning a 9 state road trip with her mom in the summer of 2014.

Blog: 

Keep Calm and Write On: http://kristyfgillespie.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristy.feltenbergergillespie?filter=3
 
 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Desert Island Books


I was chatting to someone the other day about reading, and how much I love to bury myself in a good book, and they asked me ‘if you were stuck on a desert island, which 5 books would you absolutely have to have with you?’ It was something no one had ever asked me before and it’s a bit sad how long I had to think about it.

(Owen Island)

Of course, I didn’t like to mention to them that I pretty much do live on a desert island when it comes to getting hold of new books to read. (I swear about 50% of my salary when I did work full time went on buying books for my kindle.) But even though my Kindle is my life-saver I do like still love proper paper books. Maybe it makes me old-fashioned, but I really do feel that there is a difference between curling up with a kindle (or Nook, Ipad whatever) and a proper book.

That aside, if someone told me I had to pick 5 books, what would they be?

1.       The Lord of the Rings (obvious answer for anyone who knows me). And I class that as one book not three. It doesn’t matter how many times I read them, they will never get old.

2.       Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I know I can’t really get away with classing all 7 books as one – so I have to pick my favourite. But Harry Potter in general will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll be the first to admit that J.K isn’t the absolute best writer, but she is a Master of story-telling.

3.       Flowers of Algernon. Honestly just one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s beautifully written, incredibly engaging and wonderfully thought-provoking.

4.       Pride and Prejudice. Again, don’t think I need to say much about this one. To be honest I love all of Jane Austen’s books – but Mr Darcy *sigh*.

5.       Every. Single. Book. Written. By. Terry Pratchett. Ok, so I guess I have to choose one. But to be honest it’s almost impossible. If I could only read the entire discworld books over and over again for the rest of my life, I don’t think I would get bored. The man is a genius. But, if I do have to pick one it would probably have to be Guards Guards! It’s the first book where we meet Vimes and the Night Watch, and introduces you to my favourite character. (Vimes!)

That’s my 5 (or 7 if you’re really being picky) books that I class as my top reads – and the books that I will happily read over and over and over again.

Now it’s your turn. What are your top 5? What books do you go back to year after year?

 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

I have a mortal enemy – He’s called procrastination.


So, in just the last day or so my wonderful Muse has decided to make a reappearance (I think he’s been on a long extended vacation). Brilliant news because I’ve been struggling to write more than a couple hundred words a day.

Unfortunately, with the reappearance of my Muse comes my mortal enemy and the enemy of any writer. Procrastination.

I know what you’re probably thinking. Isn’t writing this blog a form of procrastination? Shouldn’t I be busy scribbling away wrapping up the glorious and thrilling conclusion to the sequel to THE LAST KNIGHT?

Well yes. Exactly.

But it’s tricky see, because I’m not just wasting time. (Honest! I swear I’m not).

The social media are essential to my marketing. I don’t have some huge, wealthy publisher to pay for my marketing. I have to do it all myself and the cheapest, easiest form of marketing is social media. So you see, when I’m on Facebook it’s work. No. Seriously, it is. Stop laughing.

And then there’s Twitter. Oh Twitter how I both loathe and love you. It should be so easy to just throw out a few tweets, a few #hashtags. A little witty comment here or there. But I’m a writer – I LIKE words – and 140 characters does not give me nearly enough words!

Of course, there is also this blog, which mocks me when I don’t post often enough.

And whilst I’m engaging in these fun and thrilling activities my Muse is tapping his foot and getting impatient, threatening to take another long vacation if I don’t get my act together.

So I better go and get writing. I’ve got a great scene to write about…wait, can’t tell you. Spoilers! You’ll just have to read the book. One day. If my Muse doesn’t quit on me before then.

 

Coming Soon: The Last Knight sequel has a title at last – Woo hoo. THE LAST KNIGHT is getting a new sexy cover – Woo Hoo.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Dear Dad


Dear Dad,
I hope you don’t mind me sharing the eulogy below with the world.
But you see I’m proud of it in a strange way. It was the hardest, most difficult thing I ever had to write, and I sometimes wondered if it was worth the tears and the pain – or whether I should have let someone else write it.  But when it came down to it – I knew it had to be me.
This was the last thing I would do for you, and it had to be the best that I could do. I had to make you proud.
And now I’m sharing it with the world because the internet is the best way I know of to make something permanent. As long as the internet exists – this post will exist. A strange, cybernetic monument to you. And I know you would have liked that – considering how much you loved computers.
I want the world to be able to see the man that I knew. I want people from all over the world to be able to read this and see a little glimpse of an incredible father, and a wonderful man who is desperately missed.
I want this out there because I don’t ever want to forget you.
So this is it, Dad. My tribute to you. It may not be the most perfect thing I’ve ever written – I doubt it’s particularly grammatically correct – but it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. The most honest thing I’ve ever written.

David George Dorrington  1947-2014

JRR Tolkien once said, through the wise words of Bilbo Baggins:

‘It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’

And he was right. It takes a brave person to let life take you where it will, into new situations and uncertain territory.

Dad was never afraid though. He had no fear of stepping onto the road and letting it sweep him away. In doing so he carried us along with him. Dad never shied away from a road or path others would turn aside from. When he met mum, a woman with a young child, he didn’t hesititate. He took the road, and took the woman and child into his heart.

I never thought of Tracie as my half-sister, because Dad never did. Because he never thought of her as anything other than his own. It was the way Dad was.

When his road diverged and he had a choice - stay in the UK or go to a far off country so different from the one he grew up in - he made the kind of choice he always made - the brave one.

He packed up his bags, his wife, and three small children and took the hard road - but the more exciting one.

Later when that same road led him back into Kuwait just before the Iraqi Invasion it became the toughest, most rocky road our family ever faced. But Dad faced it head on. And Dad, being Dad, didn’t just look out for himself. Instead he chose to help others. He opened his home to other men who needed a place to hide, and kept them safe too.

I was too young back then to know much of what was going on - or to remember it, but I know Dad was brave and selfless, helping others get out of the country, even when it meant he didn’t get out himself.

After the war Dad’s road diverged again. Most of the expats we’d known chose not to return to Kuwait, but Dad chose the other path. He chose to go back into Kuwait - back into a country badly damaged by war - in order to make a difference.

I’ve seen the pictures - of a sky back with smoke from oil fires - of people’s homes looted and vandalised - of a church senselessly ransacked.

Dad was there, he packed up people’s precious memories, he opened his home to anyone who needed a place to relax, or even a sneaky beer, he rebuilt the church and got it running again. He did what a lot of people couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

Yet after all that, Dad still wasn’t afraid of what life would throw at him. He followed his road to Cyprus, Bahrain, back to the UK, and out to Abu Dhabi. It even took him to Kenya for a while. Sometimes we went with him, other times he went it alone, but I know that we, his family, were never far from his thoughts.

Through all these places Dad had a few hobbies and passions that stayed with him.

He was a Scout Leader - he’d been a Scout himself as a boy. He was Skip to his Scouts - and it seems is still an inspiration at 3rd High Wycombe Scorpion scouts, where, ‘what would skip do’ has been known to be asked - even 30 years later.

He loved the stage. From serious plays to pantomime and he made a fine Zena warrior princess. The only time I got to shout at him with repercussions was when I played his Grand daughter in The Weekend - I was fifteen and it was the highlight of my year.

He was passionate about his darts and his rugby - playing the former and watching the latter, but both with a beer in his hand.

A lot of people upon hearing he was into his campanology could only imagine what that was - but he was a bell ringer from his teens - and anytime he was back in the UK he took the chance to go and ring some bells. It was the last thing he did, and I know it made him happy.

But above all else, what Dad loved more than anything else, was people. Dad was a larger than life, soul of the party kind of man - because he loved people.

He loved to talk to them, didn’t matter what colour, race or creed, Dad could talk to them all. It was one of the things that made him so special - his ability to open his heart up to anyone. I’ve lost track of the number of ‘adoptive’ kids he and Mum have had over the years. It’s only surpassed by the number of adoptive animals he and mum opened their homes and hearts to.

Over his life Dad has been many things to many people. Son, brother, Uncle, Godfather and friend - but above all - a husband and a father.

Over the years, as a family, our lives have all diverged, and we have taken our own roads. For Jo and Tracie it was families of their own here in the UK. For Ian it was a life in Cyprus with a wife and a dog. For me it was a life in the sun a thousand miles away.

But no matter how far away our roads took us we always knew Mum and Dad were there, just as they have been our whole lives. I, for one, knew I could always look back and see what it was I was looking for, because I’ve always known if I could have a relationship half as good as Mum and Dad’s, then I would be an incredibly lucky person.

Like most girls, my Dad has been the yard stick against which all men are measured, and I feel sorry for them. Because it’s a very tough act to measure up to.

One day my life may lead into marriage and a family of my own, and I can only hope I’ll be able to give them what Mum and Dad gave me.

Dad and I had a conversation once, and he told me he worried he’d made the wrong choice. Had he done the right thing in taking us all with him on his road, or would it have been better to have stayed in one place, put down roots and never let the road sweep us away? I told him straight that he was crazy. I told him he’d done exactly the right thing. I had a childhood i would never forget - and along the way Dad inspired a love of new places and new things - a love of people and a love of books. Much of what I am - including being a writer - I owe to Dad. Because he always dreamed - he always loved, and he was always ready to let the road sweep him away.

Now Dad’s road has taken him in a new direction - away from us.

And it’s a road we can’t follow - not just yet. But I know he’ll be watching us - from far down the road - watching our lives taking us to new places and new experiences. He’ll be watching his children, grandchildren and great grand-children - as excited as we are to see what direction our lives take.

And one day, a long time from now, our roads will take us down the same path and he’ll be there. With a thousand new stories to tell.

After all -

‘Still round the corner there may wait,

A new road or secret gate,

And though I oft have passed them by,

A day shall come at last when I,

Shall take the hidden paths that run,

West of the Moon, East of the Sun.’

 

I miss you, Dad.