/> Witchblood: August 2012

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Being Human: Review

Being Human
 
Goodreads Blurb:
For Tommy, there is only one thing he needs to do: survive.

Only surviving isn't that easy. The hunt for blood can be tricky when humans know to fear the night. Desire sits on the edge of his mind, urging him to become the monster humans think he is. Vampire Forces, a special branch of police, is determined to turn every vampire to ash. Tommy included.

The only human Tommy can trust is his twin brother. A bond connects them, and with Danny's help, Tommy starts to understand the human world he struggles to survive in. He'll learn what friendships means and feel the sting of betrayal, find that sometimes the worst monsters are very human, and come to understand that family means more than blood.

Review:
There are a lot of vampire books out there, mine included, but I believe that Patricia has created another new, but worthwhile take on 'vampires living amongst humans'. I thoroughly enjoyed 'Being Human', a story following the life of a pair of twins, as one of them is turned and one remains human and struggles to stay connected to his twin.

I liked the way the book began by showing you the violent, unemotional side of the vampires. Depicting them as the blood sucking monsters they have always been, and yet by the end of the novel, you are made to question whether the vampires are as monstorous as the humans who hate them.

A well thought out, engaging read.
****
 Stalk Patricia here:
 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Vampires in Corfu?

No... I just can't see it! It would take a seismic shift of immense proportions to change the beautiful, sunny island bobbing gently in the Ionian sea. Sure there was wifi in some of the cafes, and prices had quadrupled, thanks to the Euro, but not much else had changed since I'd last been there 25 years ago. I had to squeeze my eyes tightly shut and cut out the perfect idyll surrounding me in order to envisage my somewhat darker plot lines developing in WitchLove.


This friendly fellow was as close as I got to anything remotely vampire related, and as he was only about 3 inches long I don't think he was after anything other than a late afternoon drink from the pool!   ;)

However, now I'm back from the lush island of Corfu, back in the freezing cold, soaking wet north of England, I can get back to my writing! I can announce that whilst away I did scribble down several pages of plans for the first 8 chapters of WitchLove, and I intend to get the rest mapped out this week and then when the kiddies go back to school next week my nose will be firmly stuck in the laptop and writing will commence.

So thank you for bearing with me through my idle summer holiday, and to thank you all, and all my new fans for helping me break my sales records for the second month in a row, I have just ordered some Witchblood goodies, and I'll be having a big giveaway as soon as it arrives. It's international as well, so I'm not leaving anyone out this time!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Looking for Alaska: Review

Looking for Alaska


Goodreads Blurb:
A deeply affecting coming-of-age story, Looking for Alaska traces the journey of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager who leaves the safety of home for a boarding school in Alabama and a chance to explore the "Great Perhaps."

The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like "forty-six days before" and "the last day" portend a tragic event―one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished "Great Perhaps."

Review:
I read this book straight after 'The Fault in Our Stars' and I think it lacked something because of that. This book is a very good book... but 'Fault' is better! A theme I see running through John Green's book is that of the intelligent, geeky and slightly outcast teenager. Green voices these characters perfectly and gives them depth and humour, and I love that. 

The problem I had with this book (which I did not have with 'Fault') is that for a large percentage of the book it is all about teenagers pranking each other in school., smoking illegal cigerettes and drinking... it's fun, but I think I'm just too old to appreciate it fully! I got a little bored of them with their teenage dilemmas and dramatics.

However, it does become more interesting in the days 'after' the shocking event, which as a reader you know Green counting down too throughout the first half of the book.  For me the book was worth reading just for the last chapter: Mile's religious studies essay... perfect! All in all I think this is a brilliantly well written YA novel that will appeal to teenagers more than adults like me.
****


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

WitchLove: Love Triangles in YA Fiction

After a couple of semi-negative comments about my Witchblood series having another love triangle in it I thought I'd address the issue and explain my reasons. Firstly I would like to point out that I don't believe I have actually written a true love triangle in Witchblood. There is an ex-boyfriend and there is a new boyfriend. Jess's emotions may overlap on occasion but I wrote this on purpose... not to toy with my readers emotions, but to reflect real life.

We have to remember that Jess is only 17. One reviewer asked why so many YA writers were introducing love triangles, and asked why they couldn't just have one love... Well I don't know about other writers, but for me it makes it more realistic. Part of growing up and becoming an adult is about falling in love and generally six months later falling out of love again! I know I thought every boyfriend from the age of 15 was 'The One', at least for a short time! Ironically my husband was the only one I started out dating, not expecting him to be the one I would marry, and it turned out he was the only one that could offer me everything I'd ever wanted.

So yeah, I don't think it's very realistic to have a teenage girl meet the love of her life at 17 and not be tempted by other relationships. Sure some may marry their first love, but not many. Some may meet 'The One' at 17, but then split up, date other guys and then end up going back to her first love. Sometimes love changes to friendship, and sometimes you have to date half a dozen idiots to realise how good you had it... And in the last book WitchLove I intend to take Jess on that journey of discovery, and her current love prospects may change yet again!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Fault in Our Stars: Review

The Fault in Our Stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.


Review:

YA/Contemporary is not my usual genre, as you know I write and read paranormal YA. I like the escape they give me from reality, but in the six months this book has been released it has been racking up the 5 star reviews, making people cry and tweet about it all over the show! I have to say I can't offer anything other than, everything else you will have already heard about this book.

Hazel is the kind of teenage girl I love, she is ultra smart, geeky in her bookishness, tough and self-depreciating. Augustus Waters is a gorgeous, funny, smart teenage boy, who with his action film/video game obsession is equally believable. Their relationship, and the way it develops is sweet, smart and also very grown-up, as is their language... and yet it is also believable due to their predicament.

The story is simple, and yet it will draw you in and make your heart sing. It will make you laugh out loud, then turn around and crush you, leaving you sobbing into a tissue! I don't know much about cancer, but I imagine this is a very real look at what must be one of the biggest horrors of our time. I have come to the conclusion that John Green is one of the best current writers out there. His characterisation is perfect. 'Looking for Alaka' will be my next read!

*****

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Reading, Books and Holidays...

I love my postman, especially when he brings me books! This was my parcel from Red House last week:

I decided to spend some birthday money and get these books because since having Meningitis in June and not being able to read, I somehow got out of the habit. I had started The Girl Who Played With Fire as I loved Dragon Tattoo. and I'm sure I will love this one, but for now it's too heavy and I just can't get into it.

I've wanted to read 'Looking for Alaska' for ages and I know 'The Fault in Our Stars' will be the first book I delve into because I've heard so much about it. 'Debutantes' begged to be bought for it's beautiful cover alone, although as soon as it mentioned 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'Downton Abbey' I was sold! 'Slated' looks superb, and no book has made me cry quite as much as Suzanne LaFleur's last book 'Love Aubrey', so I couldn't resist her latest offering.

Whilst I fully anticipate having read and reviewed at least one of these books before I go away, I'm writing the next few posts and scheduling them in for the next couple of weeks as the time is finally here. My holiday! I've looked forward to this ever since I booked it in February! Me and my family are off to the Greek island of Corfu for two lazy weeks in the sun. Ok, it probably won't be quite as lazy and book filled as my holidays once were, pre-children. With 7 and 5 year olds our days will no doubt be filled with lots of sticky ice-creams, salt water and sand... but ahhhh I can't wait! For my worldwide fans who aren't aware of the beauty of Corfu, here's a picture:



So yeah... that's where I'll be for the next 2 weeks. I will have scheduled a couple of blog posts, so keep checking back every couple of days, but I'll probably be having a facebook & twitter free holiday and be coming home refreshed and ready to write! Keep safe, keep happy and keep reading!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Modern Witchcraft: Part 3

There are many different types of witchcraft in our modern world, many of the 'western' types overlap into Paganism with some practising witches calling themselves Pagans, and some not. Wicca is one of these modern, generally Pagan, religions that worships Earth & nature. It was created by Gerald Gardner in the 40's & 50's. Gardner defined witchcraft as positive and life-affirming. Wiccans take an oath to do no harm in their magic.

Other similar forms of Pagan witchcraft may be types such as Kitchen or Cottage Witchcraft, which concentrates on practises around the home, using herbs to bring protection and healing. Hedge Witches are not a part of a coven or group. They practise alone as solitary witches, again often working with herbs (or the Green Arts) to heal. Green Witches are similar to Kitchen Witches except they often practise in the fields and forests. Traditional Witchcraft is different to Wicca in that they may not worship the gods & goddesses of Wicca and Nature. They contact an unseen spirit world during ceremonies and focus of herbs and potions, responsibility and honor.

As touched on in my previous post African Witchcraft is something different, and there are many different types of witchcraft in Africa, some more resembling Shamanism and some leaning towards Voodoo practises. Voodoo itself is the main religion of Haiti and is also popular in Louisiana. Whereas Shamanism is also popular in Asian parts such a Mongolia & Siberia and with Native indigenous people of the Americas & Australia. 

Lastly we have fictional witchcraft, that which exists within books such as the Harry Potter series and L.J.Smith's Secret Circle, or magical movies like The Craft, and of course my Witchblood series. Within my books I wanted to have the fun, fantastical element of fictional magic we know and love, but I wanted it to have roots in believable Wiccan and Traditional witchcraft practises of old.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Witchcraft Part 2: Witch Hunts in the Modern World.

In my last post I talked about the infamous witch hunts of 16th century United Kingdom. I mentioned that the last woman to be convicted of witchcraft was in 1944. It would seem unbelievable that practises similar to the same tortures those woman endured in the 16th century are still practised today anywhere in the world, but in the UK?

This time the victims are not elderly women and their daughters, they are not pagans, healers or village outcasts. They are children. Pastors in Southeast Nigeria claim their children are witches and warlocks, and that they bring illness and misfortune on their villages. They must be cleansed through deliverance or cast-out. They are beaten, attacked with boiling water and cut with machetes. They are accused of being able to transform into a cat (a typical witches familiar), a viper and even insects. When a child is accused of being a witch they are hated by absolutely everyone and cast out of the home, and village. Once cast out many of them are killed, tortured in the church or trafficked out of the city. According to the Telegraphs report more than 20,000 children are being forced to live on the streets due to being accused of sorcery, by the recently integrated Christian churches who take money from the parents to rid their children of demonic possession.


The recent case of a young couple convicted in the witchcraft related murder of 15yr old Kristy Bamu in London, highlights how immigrants from Central Africa are bringing their beliefs with them. The Metropolitan Police have reported 84 witchcraft related child abuse cases in the past 10 years. Kristy Bamu died after being tortured and drowned in an attempt to rid him of evil spirits.

Back in January Helen Ukpabio an evangelical Christian from Nigeria, known for exorcising demons from children she believes to be witches visited the US in a 12 day event to preach about combating evil spirits. Leo Igwe, International humanist warned, "she is coming to spread the gospel of hate and witch hunts in the US. Ukpabio's mission is not good for the US. Her evangelicalism is not good for children in the US."

No matter what religion we are, what beliefs we hold, is it not our job to protect our children? All children?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Ancient Witchcraft in the UK - Part 1

After a friend recently visited Boscastle in Cornwall and sent me a photo of the Witchcraft museum there I thought it might be interesting to write a blog about the various places you can learn more about our 15th/16th/17th century witches.

Witchcraft was not a punishable offence until the 16th century. Instead witches were respected for their ability to heal and knowledge of the land and calendar. In 1563 the Witchcraft Act was passed introducing the death penalty in England and Scotland. In July 1566 Agnes Waterhouse was found guilty of 'bewitching' in England's first major trial and hung for her crime. Over the next 150 years tens of thousands were condemned to death. In 1727, in Scotland, Janet Horne was the last woman to burn for witchcraft, but amazingly it wasn't until 1944 that the last conviction for witchcraft was passed, to a Helen Duncan!

This is the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle:

I really fancy visiting next time I'm in Cornwall. It claims to have the worlds largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts:
 
Now I presume these are all witchcraft related books but wow look at that wall... A wall full of book shelves that fit around my door... My dream!
 
 
Nearer to home is Lancashire, another place famous for witchcraft and made notorious for its Witchcraft trials. This is the home of the Pendle Witches, ten of whom were tried and hanged in Lancaster in 1612 and where you can visit the home of the notorious witch hunter Thomas Covell:
Amazingly it was only at the end of last year that an intact cottage of one of the witches was unearthed, near Pendle Hill. Archeologists found the building under a grass mound, complete with a cat skeleton bricked into the wall!
There are many more interesting stories and facts about ancient Witchcraft and the trials which came about. The North Berwick witchtrials are one to look up, and there are many more...