Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Meeting Karl Pilkington

On November 23rd last year, I was lucky enough to meet one of my absolute favourite people: Karl Pilkington! He was at Waterstones' flagship store in London signing copies of his latest book, The Moaning of Life, which accompanies the TV series of the same name.

It took a 6am start, almost two hours on the train and a gruelling three hour wait outside the bookshop in a line consisting of at least five-hundred people, but it was all definitely worth it for the minute or so that I had with the man himself.

And I can happily say that he is exactly the same in person as he is on the TV (perhaps even nicer)! He was also very engaging and took his time to have a mini-conversation with me about the epic photograph that's on the back of his book. Here's a picture of us discussing it:

He's smiling! I made Karl smile! YAY me!

Here's another photo of us together, which also features this little red gift bag that I'd brought for him. His reaction was, 'Oh, what is it? I hate surprises.' Yup, I had my very own classic Karl moment! He was amused, slightly, when he saw that it enclosed teabags (what can I say? The man enjoys his tea!)


Finally, the signature he left inside my copy of The Moaning of Life. This will have pride of place on my bookshelf for a long time to come!


I'm so happy that I finally got to meet Karl and experience, first-hand, his unique personality. As he would say himself, 'yeah, was alright, wa'n't it?'

Have you met any of your favourite famous people? 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Review: The Tudor Conspiracy by Christopher Gortner


1553: Harsh winter falls across the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower, but rumours of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person many consider to be England's heir and only hope-- her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.

Brendan Prescott's foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings news that sends Brendan back to London on a dangerous mission. Intent upon trying to save Elizabeth, he soon finds himself working as a double-agent for Mary herself.

Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a shadowy opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess's private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit - where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister - nobody can be trusted. (via Hodder.co.uk)

Though The Tudor Conspiracy is the second book in the Elizabeth's Spymaster series, it also works as a standalone novel. So, as I'd not read its predecessor, The Tudor Secret, this served as my introduction to Brendan Prescott and the world he navigates.

From the wonderful descriptions to the three-dimensional characters, The Tudor Conspiracy is an enjoyable read. The atmosphere Gortner creates is very evocative, and I found myself easily transported back to 1553 and its vast unpredictability under the rule of Queen Mary I. It also helped that the novel is set during winter, thus making it a fitting companion during these cold, grey days we're currently experiencing here in England!

I enjoyed the characters; especially Brendan (who serves as narrator for the story) and Peregrine. But though the background of each character is fully explained through the plot, I did feel as if I came in at a bit of a disadvantage not having read The Tudor Secret. Perhaps I would have felt more of an attachment to the characters had I started the series from the very beginning (which I may still go back and do)?

Overall, The Tudor Conspiracy is a suspenseful, fast-paced read with some exciting twists. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to Brendan in the next novel!

Rating: 4 / 5

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy 2014!

Though I've had much less time to blog this year, it hasn't been a bad 2013. I've started an interesting job, met some fabulous new people in a variety of ways (including Karl Pilkington at a book signing more on that in January), read some amazing books, and encountered some wonderful authors (and adjectives to go along with them!).

I hope 2014 continues for me in the same manner, though I do hope I'll produce more posts! Only time will tell. But, for now, a massive thank you to all my followers and visitors for reading this little blog.

Happy New Year! I hope it's a great one for all of you.

See you on the other side...

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Review: The Girl Behind the Curtain by Stella Knightley [Hidden Women trilogy, book 3]

Warning: There are spoilers beyond this point for anyone who hasn't read the Hidden Women trilogy (check out my reviews for the first two books).

Sarah Thomson and Marco Donato's complicated love affair continues - their passion is a deep one but both have been badly hurt before and are wary of exposing their vulnerabilities to the other.

Meanwhile, Sarah begins to research a new subject . . .

In Nineteen-Thirties Germany, Katherine Hazleton escapes her stuffy finishing school and runs away to Berlin in pursuit of an unsuitable man. Alone and penniless when her boyfriend deserts her, she is forced to become a hostess at a cabaret bar. There she reinvents herself as Kitty Katkin. Writing her own songs to accompany her risque dance routines, Kitty is soon a sensation. She is in love with Berlin and her handsome musician lover, Otto. But Germany is about to change.

Will Kitty and Sarah find the love they truly deserve? (via Hodder.co.uk)

So, this is it. The last book in Stella Knightley's Hidden Women trilogy and, I must say, it went far beyond my expectations.

The Girl Behind the Curtain continues the same structure, with Sarah's story running alongside that of a historical research subject this time the fun, brave, and lovable Kitty. There are less sex scenes here than in the previous novels, but I found this to be very fitting of the plot's development and underlying message. Anything more would have seemed gratuitous.

And though I'm sad that such a fabulous story has ended, I absolutely loved its conclusion. I stayed up for hours one night to finish the book because I was dying to find out the truth behind each mystery; including what becomes of Kitty and Otto's relationship and, of course, whether Sarah and Marco are finally able to make it work.

Altogether, The Girl Behind the Curtain is a sweet, emotional, and atmospheric conclusion to an inspiring trilogy, and reveals a powerful message about the true value of love. I cannot recommend it enough!

Rating: 5 / 5

Monday, 9 December 2013

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth [Divergent Trilogy, book 3]

Warning: Don't read this review if you haven't read the first two books in the Divergent series beforehand!

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent. (via Goodreads)

I loved the first two books in the Divergent series, and I'd been counting down until the release of Allegiant – the final book in Veronica Roth’s bestselling dystopian trilogy. Unfortunately, however, I was disappointed.

It’s hard to explain why without giving too much away, but I found that Allegiant had a completely different tone to its predecessors. It was in fact so different, and so unsatisfying, that I truly struggled with the first 80% of the novel. I found the events boring, frustrating, and far too removed from the dystopian society which I'd come to know and love.

By the time Allegiant reached its climax, I’d developed a sort of indifference to everything that was going on, and I even found it difficult to remember why I had loved the characters so much in the previous instalments. It felt as if my reactions had been watered down, and all I could think was, ‘huh’, although I really wanted to care more. I even met that controversial bit which has many Divergent fans throwing tear drenched tissues into bins and cursing at Veronica Roth with a surprising degree of apathy.

So, overall, I found Allegiant to be an anticlimactic end to an otherwise superb series. At some point, I might go back and read all three books simultaneously, just to see if it makes a difference. For now, though, this will have to do.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Interview with Allison Rushby – author of the Living Blond trilogy + a giveaway

It's wonderful to welcome Allison Rushby back to the blog, who's here to talk about her new young
adult series, the Living Blond trilogy, which is available to buy now at Amazon. You can find its blurb at the bottom of the interview, along with a giveaway to win 1 of 20 'We Love Marilyn Monroe/Marilynette' wristbands.

~

The Living Blond trilogy centres around Nessa, a teen who is obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. What inspired you to write the series based around one of film’s most iconic leading ladies?
Nessa had a bit of a funny start in life as a character. I was house-sitting for a friend, who told me to peep inside her housemate's room one day (she was also away at the time). When I did this, I couldn't believe my eyes. All over the room were huge glamour portraits of the housemate dressed up as Marilyn Monroe. Apparently she had quite the Marilyn obsession, as the portraits demonstrated. I wondered about this for years afterwards – I couldn't stop thinking about how a young person could be so obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, a star long dead. This is how Nessa evolved – I took that character trait to an even younger, stranger place. Imagine a thirteen-year-old with a Marilyn obsession – how strange would that be? What would people make of it? What would her parents do about it if it got out of control? And that was how Nessa came to be. It was interesting to stay with her over three books and watch her grow and her obsession slowly fade, with her eventually handing the torch over to a new Marilyn fan by the end of the third book.

Tell us about trilogy’s leading lady, Nessa. What do you hope readers will enjoy about her personality?
I really hope readers will love her overactive imagination and crazy ability to see what might not be there (okay, is definitely not there, but is way more entertaining).

Like your previous release, Shooting Stars, The Living Blond trilogy has been written for the young adult audience. What do you find most appealing about writing for this demographic? Do you see yourself writing for an older audience in future?
I actually started out writing for adults (my first chick-lit novel came out in 2000) and moved towards writing for young adults after that as I found I simply enjoyed it so much. It's just such a great time of life – very heady and self-involved (in a good way!) when anything and everything is possible. I really love the immediacy of YA and the fact that characters tend to act on their true emotions.

Now to get personal: what’s your favourite Marilyn Monroe movie?
It has to be Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for its amazing lines. Like Lorelei Lee's line, 'Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You might not marry a girl just because she's pretty, but, my goodness, Doesn't it help?'

Lastly, what other projects do you currently have in the works and where can we keep up to date?
In 2014, I'll be releasing two other YA books – Blondtourage and Being Hartley. Readers can always keep up-to-date at http://www.allisonrushby.com, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.

~


 Blurb
Nessa Joanne Mulholland, aka Marilyn Monroe's No. 1 teenage fan, is used to moving house. This time, however, she's relocating in movie-star style—crossing the Atlantic on board the Majestic, headed for Paris from New York City. And it really would be in movie-star style if it wasn't for the fact that she's bringing her cringe-fest professor dad along for the ride (Dad's specialization: human mating rituals—need Nessa say more?). Oh yeah, and sharing a cabin that's five decks below sea level and next to the engine room. Still, at least Holly Isles is on board. Yes, really, that Holly Isles—star of stage and screen. Suddenly, things are looking up. Looking a little Marilyn, in fact, because events are strangely mirroring Nessa's favorite movie of all time, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 

~

International giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter form to win one of these very cute 'We Love Marilyn Monroe/Marilynette' wristbands!


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Enter to win Karl Pilkington & The Moaning of Life goodies [UK only]

If you're in the UK and happen to be a fan of Karl Pilkington, you'll love this competition where you can win a bunch of amazing Moaning of Life prizes!

Check out the details here:
~

If the approaching end of Karl Pilkington’s TV series The Moaning of Life is set to send you into a spiral of withdrawal, worry not as the book to accompany the show is out now. And, to coincide with the launch of the DVD, a new competition has launched where three lucky winners will each receive:
  • a SIGNED copy of the book
  • a SIGNED illustration from the book
  • a copy of the DVD. 
Plus, five runner-ups will each receive a copy of the book. Does life get any better, Karl Pilkington fans?!

To enter, simply look at the photo below and then e-mail marketing@canongate.co.uk with Karl Pilkington in the subject line, telling us what you think Karl is saying in the picture:


The funniest entries win. The competition closes on Monday 2 December and the lucky winners will be chosen at random by Canongate. 

Don’t forget to follow @welovemoaning on Twitter for all the latest updates on Karl Pilkington’s Moaning of Life book.

Good luck, everyone!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The 'I am officially back' post!


Okay, I know it's been ages. Aside from a must-read interview with Elizabeth Moss, posted at the beginning of the month, I haven't exactly been around.

And for this I blame life, which has really eaten up my free time and forced blogging into the back of my mind. But, from now on, that's going to change. I have a few weeks off work and I'm almost caught up with my studies, meaning I'll have more time to be here. Woohoo!

So, over the next few days, look out for some fab new posts. Among these you'll find a competition, an interview with an awesome Young Adult author, and something Typewritten. I'm also currently reading Allegiant, the final instalment in Veronica Roth's Divergent series, so expect to see this reviewed sometime in the near future.

It's certainly great to be back!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Interview with Elizabeth Moss – author of Wolf Bride

It's delightful to welcome author Elizabeth Moss to the blog, who's here to talk about her newly
released historical erotic romance novel, Wolf Bride.

~

Wolf Bride tells the steamy tale of Queen Anne Boleyn’s lady in waiting, Eloise Tyrell, and the man she is betrothed to, Lord Wolf. What attracted you towards setting such a story during this historical period?
The sheer drama of it. Everything was more life-and-death at the Tudor court than in most later periods of history, with the slightest error in judgement getting you carted off to the Tower of London. This raises the stakes in a romance to an alarming degree. With Henry VIII in the mix, it's not just 'Does the hero get the girl?' but 'Can they survive this and reach a happy ending?' And of course we know, as 21st century readers, that not everything is going to end well for Anne Boleyn at least.

What can you tell us about the two main characters? Are they based on any real historical figures?
Lord Wolf and Eloise Tyrell are not based on any specific historical figures, but they are representative members of the Henrician Court. Lord Wolf is a superb soldier and commander, tough-minded, incredibly loyal to the crown, driven by his loyalty in fact. But as a nobleman, he approaches picking a wife - to breed an heir - with the same lack of emotion as when buying a horse. So you can imagine how a feisty and rebellious young woman like Eloise throws him off balance. Yet he finds her passion invigorating and seems to take pleasure in nettling her whenever they are together. Eloise has been serving the Queen for several years, and is an independent spirit. She wants to marry for love, so being forced into an arranged marriage - Tudor women often had little choice in the matter - makes her desperate. What stuns Eloise about Wolf is how well he seems to understand a woman's body - he's an expert lover, of course! - while failing to understand her heart. But just when things begin to hot up for them, Anne Boleyn is arrested, with Eloise suspected of hiding dangerous secrets about her mistress ...

Wolf Bride has gained a positive response from several high-profile media outlets, and has been described as a cross between Hilary Mantel and Sylvia Day. What do you think critics and reviewers have found so appealing about the novel?
Cross-genre writing is a very exciting development in fiction right now. And this is really an account of Anne Boleyn's fall from grace, but we see it not through the eyes of key historical characters, but via Wolf and Eloise's love story. By constantly foregrounding the dangers inherent in a marriage where a husband has absolute power over his wife, even to the point in Henry's case where he can sign her death warrant, Wolf Bride achieves an unsettling note that makes the erotic content more ... well, erotic. It responds to something in the zeitgeist, in my opinion. This is the right book for the right time, perhaps.

Judging by the list of previous releases on your blog, you’re quite the productive writer. How do you stay motivated?
I have a large family to support; needing to pay the bills is usually motivation enough to go to my desk every morning. When that doesn't work, I remind myself how little I have achieved so far in comparison with my late mother, who wrote over 150 novels under the name Charlotte Lamb. Now that's productive!

Lastly, what’s next for you? Do you have any other projects currently in the works?
I have two more novels in the Lust in the Tudor Court series to come out in 2014, but would dearly love to write a contemporary erotic series too. I do write under other names, but mostly historicals, so a contemporary story would be marvellous.

~
Blurb:
England, 1536

Bound to him against her will...
Lord Wolf, hardened soldier and expert lover, has come to King Henry VIII's court to claim his new bride: a girl who has intrigued him since he first saw her riding across the Yorkshire moors.
Eloise Tyrell, now lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, has other ideas. She has no desire to submit to a man she barely knows and who - though she is loath to admit it - frightens her not a little.

Then comes that first kiss...
It awakens in both a fierce desire that bares them to the soul. But as the court erupts into scandal around the ill-fated Queen, Eloise sees first-hand what happens when powerful men tire of their wives.

Dare she surrender her body and her heart?
~

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Busy as a butterfly

 
I wanted to apologise for the lack of posts lately (especially book reviews), and let you guys know that I'm still around!

It's been a very weird and hectic few weeks for me, and it's only going to get busier. I started a new full-time job a few days ago and, on top of that, I have a university course kicking off in the next week. So, until I settle into my new schedule, I'm not going to be blogging or communicating as much as I would prefer.

So bear with me, everyone, and I promise there will be new stuff on the blog before too long.

See you soon!