27 February 2015

Guest Post #1: There’s no perfect writing environment by Vani

When I was fairly new to writing, I thought most writers sat in front of their desks, pen in hand, their notebook open in front of them, fire burning in the hearth, a cup of tea right by their side, and words just started flowing. My ideal workplace had to be like Bilbo Baggins’s hobbit hole: warm, cosy, comfortable. I was in London at the time and the cold weather helped fuel my fantasies. I had recently bought a laptop and though not the type to write longhand, I invested money in buying new stationary before I sat down to write my first novel, The Recession Groom.
I’d done everything to create a perfect environment, but the words just wouldn’t flow. And I needed only to look at my life to understand why. I was working as a management lecturer and my work entailed long hours of standing and lecturing in front of the students. I’d then come home and spend hours working on power-point presentations and case studies. Add to that groceries, cleaning and cooking and one compact bedsit (which looked nothing like a hobbit hole!) By the time I sat down to write, I felt so wrung out and exhausted, nothing came to my mind. Clearly, this wasn’t anything close to my dream. And yet, there were many like me who had managed to write novels whilst working full-time jobs.

Review #152: Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“True love is finding your soulmate in your best friend”

----Faye Hall, an Australian author

Indeed, the quote is very true, if we all could have a soulmate who is actually the best friend of our life. Cecelia Ahern's, the international best-selling Irish author, novel, Love, Rosie is a sweet love story between two childhood besties- a girl and a boy. Well, I wish, I could have read this book, before The Year I Met You, which is far more better and I guess the best of her creation till date. Love, Rosie falls short in the category of the characterization. We'll talk about that in a while, but now let's get into the synopsis part.

26 February 2015

Author Q&A Session #35: With Mitchell Kriegman

Hello and welcome,
In another new author Q&A session, we have the American filmmaker of Clarissa Explains It All and many other innovative TV series and documentaries- Mitchell Kriegman. Today he is here to share with his journey as an author, about Audrey Hepburn and life beyond books and movies. Read the interview to know more about this incredible author/film-maker.

Read the review of Being Audrey Hepburn here

Review #151: Arab Jazz by Karim Miské

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Everything is a dangerous drug except reality, which is unendurable"

----Cyril Vernon Connolly, an English intellectual, literary critic and writer

Karim Miské, a French-Mauritanian writer and director of French documentary films, penned his debut novel, Arab Jazz, a crime thriller set across the 19th arrondissement of Paris and New York, centered around drug trafficking, Salafist Muslims, Jews and Jehovah's witnesses.

25 February 2015

Review #150: The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I feel now like I'm living in a goldfish bowl and all I can see and hear from every window in my home is you. You, you, you.”

----Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern, the Irish best-selling author, has crafted yet another poignant love story, The Year I Met You and I think this book will be your perfect book companion to end/begin a year.

Jasmine know two things: one, she loves her vulnerable sister unconditionally, and will fight to the death to protect her from anyone who upsets her. Two, she's only ever been good at one thing – her job helping business start-ups.

So when she’s sacked and put on gardening leave, Jasmine realizes that she has nothing else to fill her life. Insomnia keeps her staring out of her bedroom window, and she finds herself watching the antics of her neighbor, shock jock Matt, with more than a casual eye. Matt is also taking a forced leave of absence from work, after one of his controversial chat shows went too far…

Blog Tour: Too Dark to Sleep by Dianne Gallagher

Hello and Good morning Folks,

Presenting you the blog tour of the psychological thriller- Too Dark to Sleep by Dianne Gallagher. And today the blog tour is at my stop- Book Stop Corner. Welcome people, we have a review of the book for you, a surprise giveaway and the links to buy this intriguing book which you shouldn't give it a miss. Go ahead read the review and participate in the giveaway.

24 February 2015

Author Q&A Session #34: With Sherry Jones

Hello and Good Evening Folks,
In another new author interview session, we have another international best-selling author, Sherry Jones, who is the author of the controversial "The Jewel of Medina" and other historical fiction novels. Well Jones is here to talk about her new book, The Sharp Hook of Love, her journey and her life beyond books. Read the interview to know more about this amazing author.

Read the review of The Sharp Hook of Love here

Review #149: paper Towns by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“That's why I love road trips, dude. It's like doing something without actually doing anything.”

----John Green

John Green, the international best-selling author, created yet another masterpiece with his book, Paper Towns, and I would like to thank Mr. Green for introducing me about the concept of paper towns and subdivisions and other cartography facts. No this is not a map story or anything to do with it, instead it's a teenage road-trip movie based on some mind blowing facts about the very existence of Paper Towns.

23 February 2015

Author Q&A Session #33: With Lucinda Riley

Hello and  welcome to my blog,
In an all new author Q&A Session, we have today, Lucinda Riley, the international best-seller author, whose works have been translated into 28 languages and published in 38 countries. With her new seven- book series, The Seven Sisters, Lucinda is here to talk all about books, her journey and life beyond books. Read along to know more about this incredible and most amazing best-seller author of our times.

Read the review of The Seven Sisters here

Award Time: Versatile Blogger Award

Hello and Good morning Y'All,

Versatile Blogger Award- What is it?

The Versatile Blogger Award is the best of the ‘chain letter’ awards out there in the blogosphere. Bloggers can only nominate each other for this award and when a blogger nominate another for this award, he/she looks out for the the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page, or of course, the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.
For more information on Versatile Blogger Award, visit here

Review #148: The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero".
----Marc Brown, an American author and illustrator of children's books

Holly LeCraw, an American author, created a heart-touching tale, The Half Brother, about two brothers who had different fathers and how their complex relationship and some dark family secrets fills them up with loss and regret.

When Charlie Garrett arrives as a young teacher at the shabby-yet-genteel Abbott School, he finds a world steeped in privilege and tradition. Fresh out of college and barely older than the students he teaches, Charlie longs to leave his complicated southern childhood behind and find his place in the rarefied world of Abbottsford. Before long he is drawn to May Bankhead, the daughter of the legendary school chaplain, but when he discovers he cannot be with her, he forces himself to break her heart, and she leaves Abbott—he believes forever. He hunkers down in his house in the foothills of Massachusetts, thinking his sacrifice has contained the damage and controlled their fates.

22 February 2015

The Bookshelfie #1: With Alex

Good morning and welcome fellow bloggers and readers,
Today's Sunday, and it's time for the bookshelfie blog post and today we have Alex from The Book's Buzz blog, who happens to be a very talented and extraordinary blogger. Do check out her quirky and cute blog which features book reviews to giveaways to discussions to some to-do tips etc.

20 February 2015

19 February 2015

Author Q&A Session #32: With Mona Rodriguez

Hello and good morning folks,
Welcome to an all new author interview session, and today I present you the author who have a spun a family saga which is thoroughly compelling. Inspired by her own family story, Mona Rodriguez wrote her very first book, "Forty Years in a Day", and she is here on BookStopCorner to talk about those family secrets, her book, her journey and her life beyond books.
Read the interview to know more about this incredible first time author.

Read the review of Forty Years in a Day

18 February 2015

Review #147: Through the Fog by Michael C. Grumley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Faith requires following the power of a whisper.”
----Shannon L. Alder, author

Michael C. Grumley, an American author, has woven an intriguing tale of dreams, visions and abduction, in his new book, Through the Fog , which is a short novel. You can read it in just an hour or two.

Two weeks after his eighteenth birthday, everything changes for Evan Nash. When he injures his head after being run down on his bicycle, he begins having strange, harrowing visions whenever he tries to sleep. He turns to psychiatrist Shannon Mayer for help. Mayer has troubles of her own: her daughter has been kidnapped, and she's desperate for answers. Though she's at first skeptical of Evan's accounts, it quickly becomes clear that his mysterious ailment may be the key to finding her child. Soon Evan's visions prove essential to the case but at a terrible cost. Evan and Shannon face an agonizing decision: Should he risk himself to save the girl?

17 February 2015

Review #146: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Remember, even if we can’t see them, those we love are always with us”
----Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley, an Irish international best-selling author, have spun a terrific and absolutely stunning saga of six sisters in an all new series of The Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters is the first book and the story of first/eldest sister, Maia. This is her journey to search for her roots after her adoptive father's death.

Maia D'Apliése and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, 'Atlantis' - a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva - having been told that their beloved father, the elusive billionaire they call Pa Salt, has died. Maia and her sisters were all adopted by him as babies and, discovering he has already been buried at sea, each of them is handed a tantalising clue to their true heritage - a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of where her story began . . .

Review & Giveaway of Noise by Brett Garcia Rose

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I was searching for answers I would never find, Just to keep busy of my mind”
----Bria Martin

Brett Garcia Rose, an American writer, software entrepreneur, and former animal rights soldier and stutterer, spun a story of fear and search in such a way that pushes you on the edges as the fear seeps into your heart and mind, in his new book, Noise.

Lily is the only person Leon ever loved. When she left a suicide note and disappeared into a murky lake ten years ago, she left him alone, drifting through a silent landscape.
Or did she?

15 February 2015

Birthday Blog Tour of Traveling Left of Center by Nancy Christie- Review & Interview

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
----Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet

Nancy Christie, an American author, spun a remarkable collection of stories about sorrow and pain in her book, Traveling Left of Center.

""Girl," my mama had said to me the minute she entered my hospital room, "on the highway of life, you're always traveling left of center." (from "Traveling Left of Center)" What happens when people face life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared? They may choose to allow fate to dictate the path they take-a decision that can lead to disastrous results. The characters in "Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories" are unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, relying instead on coping methods that range from the passive ("The Healer") and the aggressive ("The Clock") to the humorous ("Traveling Left of Center") and hopeful ("Skating on Thin Ice"). But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash? Included in this collection of short stories are the critically acclaimed Alice in Wonderland and Annabelle.

14 February 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #1: Using "hashtag" FF on Twitter

    Hello Fellow Bloggers and Blog Readers,

I know, it's not Friday! But still, I just came across this amazing weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View. And each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Valentine's Day Special: History & Gifting Ideas

Hello Folks,

So finally February is here. And I think February actually begins when the week of love comes knocking at our doors! Yes, so in this month of romance and on this day of love, let's go all lovey-dovey just for today to feel the love lurking in the air. So I'm going to make this blog post as romantic as possible. Being a single, I won't have much to share, but I sure can help out all those sweet-loving couples. And I bet reading this post about St. Valentine and those difficult gifting ideas for bookworms like us might lit up your hearts and minds. Go ahead and read along.

13 February 2015

Review #145: Innocent While Sleeps(A Tale of Vampires, #3) by John Hennessy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Death is the one predator we can't escape. But vampires have found the loophole so many of us crave. I think that's the allure of vampirism.
----Sherrilyn Kenyon a bestselling US writer

John Hennessy, an English YA writer, has done it again with his new novella Innocent While She Sleeps in the A Tale of Vampires series. He has once again made it equally provoking, wicked and alluring, enchanting at the same time. There are few authors on the block who can turn a blood-lusting vampire into an innocent being, reading about which can only fill up your heart with compassion, instead of hatred!

Tormented by all the wicked and evil deeds she has committed in her life, the vampire has never known what it is like to truly rest in peace. Far from the confines of the Blood and the Raven; at Castle Dreymuir, a most unlikely source offers her a way out of the life.

Initially, she dismisses it out of hand; stating the cost is far too high for her to possibly consider. But as time goes on, one overwhelming desire eats away at her - a return to innocence in both her waking hours and whilst she sleeps.

Will she accept this deadly but most compelling of offers, so that she can put her brutal existence to rest, once and for all?

12 February 2015

Book Spotlight: Authentic Arts: VENICE Travel Guide and Giveaway

Ciao and buongiorno!
Today my blog post will be very Italian and simply romantic like Venice!
So where are you catching your next flight to?
Venice, wait a second then, Laura Morelli is here to guide your steps through Venice from enchanting shopper's paradise to the hidden away Venetian ghetto to the Venetian delicacies, you certainly don't want to miss out the best things of Venice on your next trip to the most romantic cities in the world.

And as Thomas Mann said in his book Death in Venice,
This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty - this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.

You might feel the very same after reading Laura Morelli's book which is a thorough insight and vividly captured portrait of Venice layered with that perfect Venetian flair! Her words will simply transport you to this magical and romantic paradise.

Read along Laura Morelli's version of true Venezia is calling you!

Author Q&A Session #31: With Liz Nugent

Good morning Folks!
I hope you have observed the new template of my blog. Well, I figured that I could use much functionality on a dynamic blog. Hope you like the new look of my blog, although I'm still working on it!
Please guys, your feedback are very much appreciated, so do leave a comment below the blog post to let me know how you like the look or if there any modifications you want me to make. Thanks!

Well it's a brand new day and on this day, I present you the debut author, whose new psychological thriller simply captivated our minds with fear and hatred with a dash of empathy! Yes, we have, Liz Nugent who is here to chat about her debut book, Unravelling Oliver, her life as an author, and life beyond books!

Read the review of Unravelling Oliver here

11 February 2015

Review #144: Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“No matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”
----Audrey Hepburn

Mitchell Kriegman, an American filmmaker cum writer, penned his tribute to the America's "fair lady", Audrey Hepburn with his new novel, Being Audrey Hepburn . It centers around Hepburn's one of the most die-hard fans, Lisbeth, who channels Hepburn's trademark and sophisticated grace and charm as she explores the world of glitz and glamor in NYC.

Lisbeth comes from a broken home in the land of tube tops, heavy eyeliner, frosted lip-gloss, juiceheads, hoop earrings and “the shore.” She has a circle of friends who have dedicated their teenage lives to relieve the world of all its alcohol one drink at a time.
Obsessed with everything Audrey Hepburn, Lisbeth is transformed when she secretly tries on Audrey’s iconic Givenchy. She becomes who she wants to be by pretending to be somebody she’s not and living among the young and privileged Manhattan elite. Soon she’s faced with choices that she would never imagine making – between who she’s become and who she once was.

9 February 2015

Review #143: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”

----Laurell K. Hamilton, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Liz Nugent, an Irish author, captivated our hearts and minds with her dark thriller, Unravelling Oliver
which centers around the revelation of true identity of a popular writer of children's books.

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children's books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease - enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.
Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him.

Review #142: Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, he is trash.”
---- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Mark Wisniewski, an award winning American author's new novel, Watch Me Go is a mind-blowing literary thriller and is one hell of an addictive read that brings two unfortunate human beings together under the consequence of murder and gambling.

Douglas “Deesh” Sharp has managed to stay out of trouble living in the Bronx, paying his rent by hauling junk for cash. But on the morning Deesh and two pals head upstate to dispose of a sealed oil drum whose contents smell and weigh enough to contain a human corpse, he becomes mixed up in a serious crime. When his plans for escape spiral terribly out of control, Deesh quickly finds himself a victim of betrayal—and the prime suspect in the murders of three white men. When Jan, a young jockey from the gritty underworld of the Finger Lakes racetrack breaks her silence about gambling and organized crime, Deesh learns how the story of her past might, against all odds, free him from a life behind bars.

7 February 2015

For Fifty Shades Haters & Lovers!

Disclaimer: This post is not to irk up the Fifty Shades Haters or to imply that you should go and buy a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and worship it.

Have you ever been to a place where 4-5 factions rule the democracy? Have you ever been to a place where you need to play deadly games to save your districts? Have you ever been to a city where you're neighbor is a vampire or werewolf? And why am I asking all these stupid questions, when the answer to all the above questions is "Yes, I've been there- in my fantasy world!" Right, there's the "F for fantasy word" to validate your support for either Divergent or The Hunger Games or The Vampire Academy or any of the best-selling fantasy book. Now my question becomes, are these books fall in the fiction category? Yes. So have you been to someone's bedroom where there are ropes and handcuffs tied to the bed? No, never. And why would anyone reveal that dark side to you. Anyways, let's stick to the NO answer to this question, but some have been there in their fantasy world. Similarly, Fifty Shades of Grey is a work of bad fiction, which destroys any realism attached to the world of BDSM even if there was any! So there's nothing to hate about the book- it's pure fiction, no relevance with any real life characters.

Month in a Recap #1: January

Hi Y'all!
Good morning and Good evening folks!
Well in this brand new post, I'd like to recapitulate my previous month, I think it's high time that I take up blogging more seriously, so introducing this brand new feature on my blog and at the end of every month, I'll try to wrap up my month with a Month in a Recap post!

So, beginning with my new year resolutions to wrapping up the month with a visit to the book fair, January was pretty cold at times but for me just like it's most of the time perky weather, I had a nice and charming month with lots of bookish drama, movie time and hang out and fun!

  •  My Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies."
                                                ----George R.R. Martin

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Aditi has
read 30 books toward her goal of 365 books.

Yeah, this year, I've decided to read 365 books, just like the saying goes an apple a day keeps the doctor away, similarly, a book a day, keeps me happy and determined. I don't know, if I can complete my challenge, but who cares about the outcome, and it seems like I'm doing pretty good with 3 books behind the schedule! How am I doing it? Well, I'm trying to eat up a 400 pages book a day, which till now I couldn't achieve it and most of the books that I read in January were less than 500 pages. Let's keep up the good faith and move on with my challenge! And for you guys, this is the current status of my bookshelf, which looks pretty messed up and I know that I need to organize the shelf real soon! Probably this year, I'm going to need another bookshelf to keep up with my reading challenge :-(

6 February 2015

Review #141: My Ghosts by Mary Swan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”
                                                    ---- George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics

Mary Swan, a Canadian novelist and short story writer, spun a spectacular family tale, My Ghosts which tracks the history of a family for 150 years down the line.

In My Ghosts, with an uncanny eye for the telling detail, Mary Swan brings to vivid life a household of Scottish orphans trying to make their way in Toronto in 1879. The youngest, Clare, has rheumatic fever; the oldest brother has run away. The fate of them all rests on the responsible Ben, the irrepressible Charlie and the two middle sisters: Kez, sarcastic with big ears and a kind heart, and Nan, benignly round but with a hidden talent for larceny and mischief. Fascinating lives spool out from these siblings: a cast of indelible strivers and schemers, spinsters and unhappy spouses, star-crossed lovers and hidden adulterers, victims of war and of suicide--proof of how eventful the lives of "ordinary families" can be.
Swan leaves us with the contemporary Clare, widowed and moodily packing up her house. She isn't sure what she'll do next, and she knows nothing of her family's past. But we do: we recognize the ghosts and echoes, the genetic patterns and the losses that have shaped her as much as her own choices and heartbreaks.

5 February 2015

Author Q&A Session #30: With Lucy Cruickshanks

Good morning Folks!
Welcome to another new session of Author Interview and today I present you with the debut author whose compelling novel, The Trader of Saigon took us into a beautiful land where evil sustained over goodness. Lucy Cruikshanks is here at my blog to talk about life, Vietnam, books, and life beyond books, read on to know more about this amazing writer!

Read the review of The Trader of Saigon

Me:  Hello and welcome to my blog, Lucy. Congratulations on your debut book, The Trader of Saigon. Please tell us briefly about the story behind The Trader of Saigon.

Lucy: Hi Aditi. Thank you so much!
The Trader of Saigon is a literary thriller, set against the backdrop 1980s Vietnam. It follows the story of three seemingly unconnected characters as they navigate the chaos, corruption and destitution of the post-war society.
Alexander is a US Army deserter. He’s traumatized by his time at war, and falls under the influence of a Russian pimp known as The Herder. He begins trading Vietnamese women, deluding himself he’s helping the girls to a better life and atoning for the wrong he’s done. Hanh is a rural girl who moves to Hanoi to escape poverty and provide for her mother, and for whom Alexander seems like the answer to a prayer. Phuc is a former businessman who lives in Saigon. He backed the wrong side of the war and is now unable to pay his financial and political debts to the government, and it’s his struggles that pull the narrative together.
The context to the novel is incredibly bleak, but in a way, it’s a redemption story really – and a story of self-determination. Each character is battling to take control of their life when personal, cultural and political odds are stacked against them.

Me: What was your inspiration behind The Trader of Saigon, though you already mentioned about it in the back of your book, but it'll be really great if you can tell us one more time for the readers who want to read your book?

Lucy: Trader was inspired by a chance meeting on a flight between Singapore and Vietnam in 2007, when I sat beside a man who sold Vietnamese brides. He described himself as a matchmaker; someone who helped aspirational young women find better lives with Chinese or Western men. He told me how desirable Asian women were – they were loyal, obedient and hard working – and how he was doing them a service by helping them to find love. He was incredibly proud of how rich this had made him. I was shocked by his arrogance and flippancy, but utterly fascinated.
Back in Britain, I looked him. His business was licenced by the government of Singapore and apparently operated entirely within the realms of the law. I started to take a wider look, however, at the Asian marriage industry. It didn’t take much digging to find that whilst some genuine matchmakers do exist, many more ‘legitimate’ companies are fronts for traffickers; groups that mislead, coerce or kidnap women and girls and sell them into forced marriage, prostitution and slavery.
The man I met may or may not have been involved in trafficking, but he made me think hard about where the line between matchmaking and trafficking lies – and who draws it. This question became the basis for the novel.
I always wanted to set the novel in Vietnam because my experience on the flight had rooted the issue of trafficking there in my mind, but also because the country has such a fascinating, turbulent history. American involvement in the civil war – and the war itself – is well-documented, but what happened next, when the soldiers, film crews and journalists left, is much less so. I felt there was scope to explore what came after. From an author’s perspective too, it’s exciting to write about somewhere so beautiful and diverse. There is so much to play with. 

Me: So that means you traveled extensively for the purpose of research?  How will you summarize your journey to Saigon/ Ho Chi Minh City?
Researching in Vietnam

Lucy: My favourite place in Vietnam is easily Hanoi. It’s such an energetic city – probably my favourite in Asia – and the Old Quarter has endless charm and intrigue to spark the imagination. When I was researching Trader, I spent days sitting in Hanoi’s open-front cafes and watching the world go by. That’s the beauty of revisiting a country. You don’t feel obliged to ‘see the sights’ and can slow down, just sit, observe and absorb it.
I found Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) less overtly romantic than Hanoi, but just as fascinating. For me, the point of travelling is to have experiences that are different from those I’ll get at home; where I’ll meet different people, learn something new, or be surprised. Places with strong political, social or cultural context excite and inspire me – they are always so full of stories. Ho Chi Minh City provides all these things by the bucket-load. There’s so much variety.
I have a real love affair with Asia as a whole for the same reason. Every time my husband and I get itchy feet, we pull out the atlas and say “this time we’ll go somewhere other than Asia” but we always seem to end up going back there. 

Me: Tell us one trait of each of your primary characters, Alexander, Hanh and Phuc, that intrigue you the most?

Lucy: The trait I love most about each of Trader’s main characters is the same; their moral ambiguity. It is easy to see the world as very black and white, to filter what is right and wrong through a privileged viewpoint, as – particularly in the West where I grew up – we generally live such comfortable lives. With the characters in Trader, I wanted to show that for many people, decisions of morality are not clear cut. Parts of the world are still incredibly poor, and for some, the simple task of feeding your family on a day to day basis can become an issue of life and death. When faced with genuine survival situations, the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ behavior are stretched. Like nowhere else I’ve been, Asia shows the world is full of moral grey areas. I hope the characters in Trader encourage people to think about that.

Me: Was it always your one true dream to be a writer? How will you describe your journey so far an as author?

Lucy: My husband persuaded me to write Trader. Like a lot of people, I suspect, I had been saying ‘I want to write a novel’ for as long as I could remember, but without ever picking up a pen. I’d been bouncing between jobs that I struggled to get excited about, and travelling as far and as frequently as I could to try to escape them. He encouraged me to think about writing and travelling differently, and to see that I could make these things my career if I stopped procrastinating, took a risk and actually wrote something. I left my job, enrolled on the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in the UK, and gave myself a year to write a novel and get a publishing deal. Of course, this was wildly optimistic, but at the end of the year I had a first draft, and real drive to see just how far I could go.
When the MA ended, I spent the best part of two years editing and redrafting, and doing the rounds at agents and publishers before getting my deal. All in all, it’s almost exactly 4 years from first putting pen on paper, to publication.
I always wrote Trader with the ambition of being published and trying to make writing a career. I knew that giving myself a tangible goal was the only way I’d be able to motivate myself over such a long process. I’m really proud of how the novel has turned out, but I don’t trust myself to look at it too closely. I know I will still find things I don’t like. I don’t think I’ll ever look at my writing and think ‘that’s finished’. If I didn’t have an editor and a ticking clock to stop me, I would never be able to stop tweaking.
The main things I’ve learned are to persevere and not be precious about my writing. You need a thick skin if you want to be published – not just for the slog of getting an agent and publisher, but for facing readers too. Reading fiction is a completely subjective, personal experience. I’ve been really lucky that Trader has had such a positive response, but not everyone will like what you do. Some people will hate it. You have to get over that.

Me: Your debut book, The Trader of Saigon was Shortlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2013 award? What was your initial reaction when you heard that your book was nominated for such a prestigious award?

Lucy: Of course, I was thrilled! I’ve been thrilled with the reception Trader has had in general, in fact. It was also shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award and voted a Top Ten Book of 2013 by the Bookbag.
As a debut novelist, publishing is a tough nut to crack. There are many, many great books and great writers who sink without a trace, because getting people to read your work when they haven’t heard of you and there are so many competing voices wanting you to read their work instead, is incredibly difficult.
I think a lot of people assume that getting a novel published is a mark of success – and whilst I am very proud of what I’ve achieved so far, really getting published is only the very beginning. Just because my book is sitting on a shelf, doesn’t mean anyone will buy it. To be able to build a career as a writer, I need the support of individual readers. I need to them to buy the book, hopefully enjoy it – and then tell their friends and spread the word. As someone just starting out, rather than a celebrity or other known name, the support of individual readers is what will ultimately make or break me. That’s why being shortlisted for Not The Booker and the other praise I’ve received is so important. It has given me exposure I greatly needed and helped – and will continue to help – in reaching readers I may otherwise not have found.

Me: What is your normal writing day like?

Lucy: My brain works much better in the morning, so when I was writing Trader, I was up and at my desk as early as possible and would stay for as long as the words came – be that two hours or ten. Now, as I’m finishing my second novel, I have a toddler in tow and another baby on the way very shortly, so all routine is out the window. It’s a matter of snatching precious hours to write whenever I can!

Me: How do you get away from the stress of writing? And tell us about your other passions apart from writing.

Lucy: I absolutely love writing, so other than when I have a deadline looming, I don’t find it too stressful. If anything, having a young family means I’m scrabbling for more hours to write, and though spending time with them is always my priority, if anything, writing becomes my time to slow down and relax. Aside from writing, reading and family, my other biggest passion is to travel, so I’m thrilled I can combine it with writing and try to do so as much as possible.

Me: What's next up on your writing sleeves? Please tell us briefly about it.

Working on my second novel with some Burmese tea
Lucy: I’ve spent the last couple of years working on my new novel, THE ROAD TO RANGOON, which will be released in September 2015. It’s a thriller set against the backdrop of the ruby trade in 1980s Burma (now Myanmar) and looks at how the battle between the ruling military junta and ethnic insurgent armies for control of gem mines impacted ordinary lives, following three characters as they navigate through the precariousness of a society suffering from dictatorship and civil war.
Here’s what my publisher has to say about it:
“In 1980s Burma, the British ambassador’s son goes missing. Taken north from the capital Rangoon, Michael soon finds himself used as a pawn in a rebel war against the government. His best hope of salvation is to trust Zeya, a ruby smuggler with her own desperate past who offers to help him escape. Enigmatic, deeply scarred and desperate to find her parents, Zeya has spent her entire life in a frontier town between rebel and government forces, never choosing a side but trying to make a living from both. For Zeya, the ambassador’s son is her salvation. For Than, an ambitious military officer, rescuing Michael and returning him to Rangoon offers an opportunity for promotion and distinction. But as all three learn to their cost, in this exotic, mysterious and savage country, everyone has a price. This is a tale of ambition, salvation and hope that confirms Lucy Cruickshanks as a master storyteller.”

Me: Thanks once again Lucy for sparing time to have this interview with me for my blog. I can only wish you luck in all your future endeavors and wish you a very happy and glorious New Year.

Lucy: Thanks for having me, and for reviewing Trader!

Lucy's Bio:

Lucy Cruickshanks was born in 1984 and raised in Cornwall. She holds a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Warwick and an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. She has traveled widely in Asia.
The Trader of Saigon is her debut novel and was published by Heron Books, an imprint of Quercus, on 4th July 2013. The story was inspired by a chance meeting on a flight between Singapore and Vietnam, in which she sat next to a man who presented his business card, and casually told her how he made his fortune selling women.
She is currently working on her second novel - a thriller about the ruby trade in 1980s Myanmar, due for release in February 2015.
Visit her here

Connect With Lucy On:  Facebook | Twitter | Author Website | Goodreads | Email


4 February 2015

Review #140: Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Don't provoke me - wretched headstrong girl!
Or in my immortal rage I may just toss you over
Hate you as I adore you now - with a vengeance."

                                                                  ----Homer, The Iliad

Judith Starkston, an American historical fiction writer, has spun a gripping tale of Briseis, who was held captive by the half-immortal, Achilles ans she was the very reason of a dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon which is the central plot of Homer's The Iliad, in her new book, Hand of Fire. Although
Judith Starkston has focused her book on Briseis's painful life and also how a woman like Briseis love a half-immortal man like Achilles.

The Trojan War threatens Troy’s allies and the Greek supply raids spread. A young healing priestess, designated as future queen, must defend her city against both divine anger and invading Greeks. She finds strength in visions of a handsome warrior god; will that be enough when the half-immortal Achilles attacks? Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis.

Author Q&A Session #29: With Lucy Lawrie

Good morning and Good evening folks!
Welcome to a brand new author interview session and today we have the first time author who left us entertained to our hearts and minds with her debut novel, Tiny Acts of Love. Lucy Lawrie's new novel centers around motherhood, love and lots of laughter, in short, a happy and enlightening story that will leave us enthralled till it's very end. Read along the interview of Lucy Lawrie to know more about her life, books and motherhood!

Read the review of Tiny Acts of Love

Me: Hello and welcome to my blog, Lucy. Congratulations on your debut book, Tiny Acts of Love. Please tell us briefly about the story behind Tiny Acts of Love.

Lucy: Tiny Acts of Love is about a young couple who’ve just had their first baby. While dad Jonathan takes fatherhood in his stride, new mum Cassie is overwhelmed by that ‘What have we done?’ feeling and doesn’t quite know what to do. From the outside, her life looks as perfect as it always was – a successful legal career, a husband who adores her, a beautiful home and now a new baby – but somehow everything seems fraught with peril now, whether that’s working on a new case at work or just pushing a buggy around the park. Jonathan dismisses her anxieties, but it’s when Cassie’s oh-so-understanding ex-boyfriend Malkie turns up, working at her law firm, that things really begin to unravel!

Me: So who/what was the inspiration behind Tiny Acts of Love?

Lucy: When I had my first baby, a friend from my antenatal class told me a saying she’d heard – that deciding to have a baby is like deciding to have your heart walk around outside your body for the rest of your life. That really resonated with me, and I wanted to explore that feeling in Tiny Acts of Love - how it might impact on your relationships, your own sense of identity and your sense of being in control (or not) of your world. But Cassie made me laugh a lot and the book ended up being a blend of both the serious and funny sides of parenthood.

Me: How much time did it take to finish writing your debut novel?

Lucy: It took about eighteen months to write the first draft, but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just left it for a few years. Then I joined a writers’ group and that gave me the motivation to finish it – that took another two years! So it was about five or six years in all! And even after that I worked in more changes suggested by my literary agent and then my publishers. But with each set of changes it became more the book that it was meant to be.

Me: Now that your debut book is widely loved by so many readers, can you tell us about your journey so far as an author?

Lucy: It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve loved every minute of it, and my publishers, Black & White Publishing, have been brilliant and worked so hard with me to get it out there. Every time I hear about somebody reading the book it still gives me a huge thrill!

Me: Tell us one trait of Cassie- your protagonist, that intrigues you the most.

Lucy: At the beginning of the novel Cassie is quite unsure of herself – she’s trying to find out who she is, now that she’s a mother, and a wife who’s a mother. She frets a lot and has a tendency to catastrophise, but at the same time she knows how to laugh at herself – her sense of humor is her saving grace!

Me: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Lucy: My favourite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I remember reading it for the first time as a teenager – I was so pulled in by the intense, first person narration. There’s so much there – romance, mystery, humor, tragedy, as well as that hint of the supernatural. I think it’s the ultimate women’s fiction novel!

Me: How can you describe your normal writing day? Since you're a mother, is it difficult to juggle motherhood and writing smoothly?

Lucy: When my daughters were babies/toddlers it was really hard and I just had to snatch a half hour here or there. Now they’re at school it’s easier, but unfortunately the creative part of my brain works best in the evenings and at night so I often stay up too late!

Me: And how do you break-free from the stress?

Lucy: I like running – that often frees up ideas, especially when I’ve got stuck. And I like cooking, and playing the piano. It’s good to be creative in ways other than writing sometimes, even if that’s something very simple, like playing with my daughters.

Me: What is next up on your writing sleeves? Please tell us briefly about it.

Lucy: I’m working on a second novel, which is about a lonely single mother who tries to track down a school friend who vanished when they were twelve. Secrets from the past begin to surface. It’s about finding yourself when you’re lost, and the redemptive power of friendship.

Me: Thank you so much Lucy for sparing time to have this interview session with me. I can only wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

Lucy: Thank you very much for inviting me to take part!

Lucy's Bio:

Lucy Lawrie grew up in Edinburgh in a house overflowing with books, and she spent most of my childhood either reading or scribbling in mysterious notebooks. 
After studying English literature at university, she returned to Edinburgh and worked as a commercial lawyer for several years, specializing in employment and pensions law. But it was motherhood that propelled her into writing, generating ideas that she wanted to explore through stories. She started writing her first novel, just to see what would happen, and then found it impossible to stop.
It took her a few years to work out what she was doing, but Tiny Acts of Love, the very same novel that she started as a new mum, has now been published! She is now writing her second novel, when permitted by her two small daughters.

Connect With Lucy On:  Twitter | Author Website | Goodreads | Email