Bad News

Sunday, 12 July 2015

My laptop has finally given up on life. One day I'm typing like the wind and the next it won't even turn on which means there won't be any posts until I can get a new one. Sorry about that!

Blog Tour: Sleeping with the Blackbirds

Monday, 6 July 2015

Hey guys, welcome to Confessions of a Bookaholic's very first blog tour! Alex Pearl, author of the YA novel Sleeping with the Blackbirds will be joins us in this thrill ride of a tour!

The novel has been described by author and screenwriter George Layton as "A delightful fairy story that deals sensitively and compellingly with real, modern-day issues like homelessness, single mums and abusive parents."

Here is the synopsis: 

Eleven-year-old, Roy Nuttersley has been dealt a pretty raw deal. While hideous parents show him little love and affection, school bullies make his life a misery. So Roy takes comfort in looking after the birds in his garden, and in return the birds hatch a series of ambitious schemes to protect their new friend. As with the best-laid plans, however, these get blown off course - and the lives of both Roy and his arch tormentor, Harry Hodges are turned upside down - but in a good way.

Find out more on Goodreads | Amazon | Website

There are a number of events involved from reviews and guest posts to interviews and giveaways.

The tour schedule is below, visit as many as you like! 

6th July - Book Wormie Spot - Guest Post
7th July - Mallory Heart Reviews - Review
8th July - CK Books Blog - Review 
9th July -  Mousiey Books - Review
10th July - Books and Barrels  - Review 
13th July - Daniela Ark's Blog - Interview
14th July - Lovely Paranormal Books - Guest Post
                 - Tanya Robinson 100 - Review
15th July - A.E. Albert: A Writer's Blog - Interview
16th July - A Cascade of Books - Interview 
17th July - Poseidon99 - Guest Post

Sunday Spotlight: Sandra Saidak, author of Daughter of the Goddess Lands

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support.

I am NO LONGER accepting submissions for my spotlight scheme.

Today I am hosting Sandra Saidak, author of Daughter of the Goddess Lands.

About Sandra
Sandra Saidak is a high school English teacher by day, author by night.  Her hobbies include reading, dancing, attending science fiction conventions, researching prehistory, and maintaining an active fantasy life (but she warns that this last one could lead to dangerous habits such as writing).  Sandra lives in San Jose with her husband Tom, daughters Heather and Melissa, and two cats.  
Writers she counts as her greatest influences include Jean Auel, Spider Robinson, Zena Henderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ursula Le Guin.

Sandra’s prehistoric fiction series, Kalie’s Journey began with the novel, Daughter of the Goddess Lands, an epic set in the late Neolithic Age, and published in November 2011 by Uffington Horse Press.  Book 2 of the series, Shadow of the Horsemen, was released in July of 2012.  A story set in the Kalie universe can be found in Sandra’s short story collection, In the Balance.
Sandra loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to post a comment on her Author’s Page, or her website.


Hi Sandra! Thank you for joining us at Confessions of a Bookaholic.
I know you write prehistoric and alternate history fiction but many of my readers won’t be familiar with those genres, will you explain what they entail?
Prehistoric fiction is generally viewed as anything which takes place before the birth of writing, anywhere in the world.  When set in Asia or the Middle East, it often bumps into Biblical fiction or new takes on the Classics, like the Trojan War. Generally, prehistoric fiction relies on archeology and a really good imagination, since very little information from those times can be proven—or agreed upon.  Alternate History is taking any real event in history and asking: “What if things had gone the other way?”  What if the South had won the Civil War?  What if Nazi Germany had won WWII?  What if the Black Plague had wiped out 90% of Europe in the fourteenth century instead of 30%?  What if Islamic Africa became the dominant power and colonized the America with slaves brought from Europe?  And yes, there are novels about each of the scenarios I just mentioned.

How easy is it to maintain a balance between fact and fiction in your work?   
I’ve studied archeology since I was twelve, so I’ve got a pretty good library now.  I find the balance easy to maintain because the research only gives me ideas, pictures of artifacts, and information on what the climate was at a certain time and place.  The characters I create tell me the story I’m going to write, and that’s when the real work begins.

Tell us about your Kalie’s Journey series!  
The problem with this question is that I could talk about this series all day, and I’m sure your readers will eventually have to move on to other things.   Kalie’s Journey is about the culture-clash that occurred when peaceful, Goddess-worshiping farmers first encountered violent, nomadic horsemen in what is now Eastern Europe and Russia.  It takes place about six thousand years ago, and there is a lively debate in professional circles about how much of what I show in my books actually occurred. What no one disputes, however, is that the abuse of women that I describe in my fiction is very much a fact of life in many parts of the world today.  I was inspired to write these books after reading the work of Mary Mackey, Joan Wolf, Judith Tarr and Joan Dahr Lambert.  I loved their books, but none of them had exactly the heroine I wanted to read about, or the confrontation I wanted to see between characters who hold such strongly opposing views.  So I wrote my own book, which grew into a series.  My favorite part was starting out with a character who had survived abuse and trauma, and traveling with her as she grew from an angry victim to a powerful hero.

I read that you are an English teacher; do you believe that daily interaction with young writers influences your own writing in any way?
Unfortunately, most of my students are not big fans of either reading or writing. It’s more a case of the students themselves inspiring my writing.  I teach high school and teenager’s lives are so full of drama—whether they want it that way or not.  Sometimes, when my students misbehave, I threaten to put them in my next novel.  This actually helps, because they always want to know what characters they would become.  I like to think that being a published author gives me more credibility than I had before.  I tell them, “I know what I’m talking about because I don’t just read books, I write them.”  For those students who do enjoy reading, I think that helps.  The ones who don’t like reading don’t seem very impressed to have a published author as a teacher, except when they ask me how much money I've made.

What authors have influenced your writing the most?
There are so many, and the answer constantly changes, depending on what I’m writing (or thinking about, or living through) at any given moment.  Jean Auel, of course, since she remade the genre of prehistoric fiction, and made it so popular that there’s now room for writers like me.  The rest are all in the science fiction/fantasy realm: Spider Robinson, Robert Heinlein, Zena Henderson, Orson Scott Card and Marion Zimmer Bradley.  There are many more, but that should give your readers an idea about me.

Tell us about the most interesting character you have created.
I think my most interesting is Adolf Goebbels, the main character of my upcoming book, From the Ashes.  Adolf is my only male protagonist to date, but—much to my surprise—he was the easiest to write.  A privileged son of the ruling class in a world where Nazi Germany won WWII, Adolf is probably the nicest, humblest and most empathic character I’ve created.  Although Ilsa, originally created as Adolf’s love interest, tried to hijack the novel, I managed to satisfy her by putting her in charge of the military side of the revolution.  A terrible soldier (because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone), but a brilliant leader and visionary, Adolf showed me strengths I didn’t know I had as writer—and a person.

How important do you believe it is for writers to read widely?  
I don’t know many writers who don’t love to read.  I certainly do.  I can’t speak to “widely” since that means something different for each person.  I enjoy fiction over non-fiction, but within that genre, I read science fiction, fantasy, historical from almost any period, and all kinds of mainstream fiction.  I sometimes read books in the genre I’m writing as a form of research, but if a book doesn't hold my interest, I don’t finish it.  

What should we look out for from you in the future?  
This summer, I will be making my debut in alternate history with From the Ashes, a novel set in a future where Nazi Germany won WWII. The inspiration came from a documentary I saw long ago, when a historian explained that one of the plans of SS Chief Heinrich Himmler was to create a series of museums showcasing vanished races (this would be after he and his government finished exterminating them).  But the result was that, even while the war raged, many Jewish books and artifacts were preserved for this purpose.  (I don’t know anything about other groups, such as Gypsies, although I would love to find out.)  It came to me one day, more than twenty years ago, that a world under Nazi rule would be a pretty terrible place to grow up, even for the children of the ruling class.  What would happen, I wondered, if an angst-ridden adolescent, dreaming of a better world, or looking for meaning in his life, wandered into one of these museums—and started reading?  Before I knew it, I had young Adolf Goebbels (grandson of Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda) leading a group of college outcasts, ready to overthrow the government—with Judaism as their guide.

I read that you have cats called Cocu and Oreo, they sound adorable. I’m sure my readers want to hear more about!    
Cocu, the older cat, is a Japanese bobtail.  I’d never even heard of that breed until my husband met one and fell in love with him.  Cocu is nearly pure white and, of course, has that stubby little bobtail that makes me laugh when he wags it.  My husband is more of a dog person, and insists this cat is really a dog wearing a cat suit.  I think the word cocu is a form of ancient Japanese currency or measure of rice; I never did get it figured out.  Oreo, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is black and white.  He’s a rescue cat we adopted.  I wanted to name him Tuxedo, but was outvoted by the rest of the family.  A scrawny kitten when we brought him home, Oreo now outweighs Cocu by several pounds, but Cocu is still the dominate one—for both the felines and humans in the house

 Finally, is there anything else you wish the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?  
I really love to hear from my readers, and I also love book discussions.  Put those two together (discussions about the books I write) and I’ll be on cloud 9.  If anyone reading this interview decides to start reading my books, I hope you’ll post a review, comment on my blog, or start a discussion somewhere (but if you do, please tell me where, or I may not know about it!)  I also hope to see you in a discussion of favorite books we turn out to have in common.

About Daughter of the Goddess Lands
Daughter of the Goddess Lands is the unforgettable saga of Kalie, a courageous young heroine born into the untamed beauty of prehistoric Europe. Kalie's peaceful life is shattered when a brutal attack by horsemen from the east leave her scarred in body and soul. As the sole survivor of the assault, Kalie makes her way home, and warns her people to prepare for the invasion that she knows is coming. But the goddess-worshiping farmers of her home have no concept of battle, and dismiss Kalie's warning. 
When the marauders strike again, they cut a swath of destruction and death that prove too late the truth of Kalie’s words. Then Haraak, the leader of the invaders, demands a tribute of gold, grain and slaves in exchange for sparing her village. It is in Harak's cruel show of power that Kalie sees a chance to save her people--and gain revenge for herself. 
She leads a group of volunteers to infiltrate the horseman's society, and then destroy them from within. Once she is among them, Kalie uses her skill as a storyteller, and her knowledge of healing to penetrate the horsemen’s inner circle and to discover the secrets that could lead to their destruction. But Kalie discovers that price of revenge is high, and that a quest for vengeance can become a journey of healing and redemption.

Tell Sandra and I what you thought of the Spotlight! 

Review: King's Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Thursday, 2 July 2015

King's Warrior (The Minstrel's Song, #1)Series: The Minstrel's Song #1
Genre: Fantasy 
Release Date: February 29th 2012
Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis: Six hundred years ago the land of Aom-igh was threatened with invasion by the Dark Country across the Stained Sea; in their danger King Llian sought the help of the dragons and the myth-folk. Graldon, King of the Dragons, granted the human king with a gift that would help him defeat his enemies. Graldon also promised King Llian that the dragons would come to the humans’ aid should Aom-igh ever be in such danger again. Years passed, and Aom-igh remained safe and isolated from its enemies. The dragons slowly disappeared and faded into legend and myth, and people forgot magic had ever existed. 
When her kingdom is threatened by the Dark Country once again, the headstrong Princess Kamarie sets off on a quest to find the man who may be able to save them all: the former King’s Warrior. Traveling with her are two companions: her eccentric maid, and a squire who resents his charge to travel with and protect the princess. However, finding the legendary hero proves to be the least of their worries. Together the companions encounter more than they ever bargained for. A beautiful gatekeeper, a sword fashioned by dragons, enemies who pursue them relentlessly and hound them at every turn, and an underground world full of mythical creatures are just the beginning of their adventures. 
As they search for the answers to mystifying riddles and seek a way to save everything they hold dear the comrades will learn a little about courage, a lot about truth, and more about themselves than they ever imagined. But if they can succeed in their quest, they may join worlds together. 
First Line:Graldon, King of the dragons, mighty lord of the skies over Aom-igh, handed the golden sword to the mere man who stood before him.

I always say that I am not a fan of fantasy but this keeps being disproved again and again as I delve further into the genre. I think what I actually don't like is a novel that focuses more on plot and events rather than character development and this does appear to be more common in fantasy than in any other genre. This does not apply to every fantasy, though, as I am slowly discovering after getting lucky with the genre recently. King's Warrior is another of those fantasies I have discovered which deviate from the tendency to focus entirely on plot, in fact, it focuses on plot and character development in equal parts and this works really well. The worldbuilding has often been compared to that of the Lord of the Rings but I think there is one significant difference, King's Warrior is a young adult novel and therefore the language is more suited to a variety of different people as opposed to the complex and sometimes dull language of the Lord of the Rings. When reading this novel I often forgot it was a young adult novel because of the gorgeous language, it was only when I got to the end that I realised it lacked the more gory and explicit aspects of the normal fantasy but this complemented the novel rather than detracted from it. The young adult tag of King's Warrior does not mean it cannot be enjoyed by all, it is one of the rare YA books which anyone can love.

The character development was definitely the best part of the novel, I loved every one of them. Kamarie in particular was a wonderful heroine in the way that she is very unique. In all literature, not just fantasy, a heroine is often at one extreme or the other - weak or ridiculously strong. Kamarie, on the other hand, has a very strong personality and is easily admirable but she still has feminine weaknesses. I know what you're thinking but I don't at all mean that in a sexist way. I mean, the environment in which Kamarie lives mirrors our medieval period and therefore also has the traditional gender roles, women are feminine and domestic and men were the warriors. Kamarie deviates from this by being a female trained as a female warrior but, unlike most strong female characters, this deviation isn't taken to the extremes, she still respects the role that her society has determined for her. While the feminist in me feels slightly conflicted about this, I really do appreciate the realism and the author's ability to craft such a lifelike character. The other characters were all also equally realistic and interesting, I loved every one of them. What I really enjoyed about the character were their relationships. The loving and, again, realistic relationship between Kamarie and her parents was refreshing to read and the sweet one between her parents themselves was a lovely contrast to the usual troubled relationships I was used to reading about. My favourite relationship was the love-hate one between Kamarie and Oraeyn, it was so amusing to read about and easy to relate to. It is the realism of Schmidt's characters that makes them so great.

This novel had me glued right away, some may call the plot slow but personally I think it is that aspect which enabled the characters to be so complex and developed. The plot itself is not sacrificed for the fantastic characters, this book could easily be used as a recipe for the perfect fantasy. I would recommend this book to everyone, even those who are not the biggest fans of the genre like myself. I loved every page and cannot wait to get my hands on the second book. The sooner I can get to it the better.
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