Saturday, 21 November 2015

Anti Bully Reads: Eleanor & Park - spoiler free review.

Hi booklovers

Today is day 6 of the #AntiBullyReads readathon and this morning I was able to finish 'Eleanor and Park'.
I'm so happy that I chose to reread this book and it was just as good, if not better, the second time around.
I was also surprised about how much I had already forgotten :-(
Since I didn't have this blog yet when I read it the first time, I never wrote a review of it, so that's what I'm going to do right now.

This is a non-spoiler review, btw.

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA contemporary
Publication date: 2012
Format: Paperback

*Story:
The book is about Eleanor, a 16-year old girl, who is totally different from your typical high school girl: Her clothes and hair both look crazy and all she wants is to be left alone. Unfortunately, having very red hair and wearing clothes that look different, means that she is stared at a lot. She is also the new kid at school and she has a very complicated family situation.
Then we have Park, a 16-year Asian boy, who hates taking the bus to school because all he wants is to be invisible. Unfortunately, he is regularly picked on by the popular kids.
On her first day Eleanor sits down on the bus next to Park and from there the story takes off.

*Characters:
-Eleanor: she is not your typical 16-year old girl. She looks different, she dresses in a 'weird' way and doesn't seem to care about what other people think of her. She gets picked on a lot by Tina and her gang. Eleanor comes from a broken home and she only recently moved back home with her mum and stepdad after he had kicked her out a year earlier.
From the first moment we meet Eleanor, we get sucked into her miserable family situation and I immediately felt bad for her. She lives in these very difficult conditions: she has to share her room with her brothers and sisters, there's no bathroom door, only a curtain, they sometimes don't have enough food, her stepdad is an alcoholic...
And yet, she still manages to keep going and be herself. At first, when she starts talking to Park, she doesn't want to tell him anything about her situation, but as the story progresses, she starts to trust him more and shares some things about her life.

-Park: being half Asian, he also gets picked on quite a lot at school. At first he seems like a bit of nerd - and maybe he is, with his comic books - but there is so much more to him than first meets the eye. He is sweet and sensitive and fascinated by Eleanor. He's also the kind of guy who doesn't really care about looks - at least not at the beginning of the book - or what Eleanor looks like, as long as he gets to be with her. We really see him grow throughout the story.

*Plot:
This book is set in the 80's and this makes the story even more special. I realise this might put some younger readers off, but since I grew up in the 80's it was quite nice to read about cassettes and walkmans :-)
The story revolves about being young, being different, attending high school and being in love. But it's not just a lovey dovy story. The reason I decided to pick this up for the #AntiBullyRead readathon is of course that it also deals with bullying. It's not just about bullying in school, but there are also other sorts of bullying involved. I'm not going to say more because I don't want to spoil you.
 
*Overall rating:
Just like the first time I read it, I gave this story 5 stars. It's heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time. It's a story about acceptence and coming to terms with who you are and how people look at you. The story deals with bullying and the topic is handled really well. But above all it's a story about first love and how overwhelming and at the same sweet it can be. This book made me feel all the feels: I laughed at the funny parts, I swooned over their love and cried when things got sad (even though I knew what was coming)!

I've heard people say this story contains some major clich├ęs about being young, being bullied and being in love, but I don't agree.
I like how the story is divided into chapters and every chapter contains both Eleanors and Parks POV's. The different lengths of the POV's make for a fast paced story and a rollercoaster of emotions - especially the last part of the book is packed with emotions. The ending is a bit sudden, but also very fitting, I think. No wonder 'Eleanor & Park' was my second favourite read of 2014!

Lastly, I want to share one of my favourite quotes from this book:
Have you read this book? Are you curious to pick it up? Let me know in the comments.

And now on to my second read of the readathon, the first story in 'Auggie & me', the companion stories to Wonder.

Happy reading everyone!

Annelies

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Anti Bully Reads Readathon update: day 1 - 2.

Hi booklovers

In one of my previous posts I showed you my TBR for the #AntiBullyReads Readathon and one of the books I want to (re)read was Eleanor & Park. On Monday morning, the first day of the readathon I picked this up on my way to school. From the first page onwards I was immediately pulled back into the story, but I also realised I had already forgotten quite a few things. That's why a reread is sometimes a good thing :-)

On the first day I only read 20 or so pages and yesterday I read 30 pages. I know this might not seem like a lot, but since my pupils have a report card, I have a lot of marking to do, so that is taking up a lot of my time. I know some people have already read multiple books, but I just don't have the time. I'm hoping to finish this book by Friday, so I can go on to reading the smaller companion stories of Wonder. We'll see how it goes.

Sarah Churchill does daily updates on her YouTube channel and every day you can win books, so it's well worth your time to go check out her channel!

That's it for my short update on how the readathon is going.

Are you participating in the readathon or do you have any recommendations for books about bullying, let me know in the comments.

Bye for now and happy reading

Annelies

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Author interview - Bre Faucheux part 3.

Hi booklovers

This is the final part of my author interview with Bre Faucheux. If you haven't read part 1 or 2, just click on the numbers to go to them. 

Be warned, this does contain some mild spoilers about her books, because the questions deal with the stories in particular.

Hope you enjoy!
  • Tell us a bit about your different series.
The first book I ever wrote was ‘The Elder Origins’. It was the first idea I had that I thought to myself: ‘I could write that.’ I wanted to write something with a bit of history and something paranormal. Then one day I was watching a tv show with vampires in it. It showed a possible “origin” story of vampires. I didn’t like it. I thought to myself that it could have been told better in a different way. So that’s what I did. I wrote an origin story for vampires that appealed to me. So in ‘The Elder Origins’, the origins of vampires was in pre-discovered North America with the Native Americans. It was always said that certain tribes foretold of the coming of the white men. And I thought to myself, what if they had tried to stop it? And that was the birth of ‘The Elder Origins’.
 
‘The Keeper’s Realm’ was my second book. I started writing it in pieces while I was working a dead end job overseas. I had hours to kill at my desk and no one realized I wasn’t working. I wanted to write another story with elements of history and ghosts. I saw a documentary online about Gettysburg and how haunted it was.  People have been said to walk around at night and come across troops walking in formation as though the American Civil War was still going on. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be interesting if they weren’t ghosts there, but actual portals to the past? What if ghosts are souls that think the past isn’t over and don’t realize they have died? And what if someone could witness the past as though it was happening around them. So I created a YA story of a girl who could do exactly that. See the past as though it was happening for real all around her.

‘Violet Blake’ was an interesting project. It started as a high fantasy and evolved into a supernatural contemporary kind of … thing. I still don’t always know how to describe it. I’ve always heard tales of people walking among us who can heal people with their touch. Those who have the touch of God here on Earth. And I thought to myself, if people like that did actually exist, they would have to stay under the radar. The government would want to experiment on them and harness their abilities. So I told a story around that concept. A young girl who has the ability to heal people with her touch. Only her ability is a little more enhanced than that of the average healer.
  • Who is your favourite character from your books / series?
I’ve had a soft spot for Jayden from ‘The Elder Origins’ since I first started writing him. He’s such a gnarly bastard, but when it comes to Madison, he’s very protective. I like that he has this one thing in the world that he wants to protect. Screw the rest of it. I really like Liam from ‘Violet Blake’ as well. He is so ancient, has seen all kinds of horrors, but he still has a heart of gold.

As far as series, I’m really proud of 'Violet Blake'. I feel like that is a series that just came together the right way. It was slow and it tortured the back of my mind while I was trying to finish it, but it all came together in the end.
  • How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I don’t really have a least favourite character. They are all fun to write on some level. I figure if there is a character I hate writing, then I’m not doing my job properly. 

These questions are specifically about Violet Blake: 
(These contain minor spoilers!!)
  • What made you decide to give your characters healing / resurrection powers?
I didn’t really decide to write a story about healers. It just kinda happened. I started the series as a fantasy with a whole separate dimension involving faeries and screaming banshees. Then I decided I was biting off more than I could chew and I condensed it. After I had done that, a girl with healing abilities was all that was left. All the fantasy elements were gone, then it turned into a paranormal story. I decided to run with it. Then I thought to myself, how do I make it different? Because healers have been written about before. And that was when I decided to make Shawn’s ability a little more enhanced.
  • Why did Rebekah turn out to be so bad to the bone?
Because it was fun. *evil laugh* I plan on going into that a little more if I write more to the series. But she was a product of being born to a time when life wasn’t valued as much as it is now. She stayed stuck in that mentality because it was all she ever knew.
  • How can people contact you or find out more about your books?
You can find my books on Amazon and most other eBook retailers online. You can email me at: brefaucheux@gmail.com. I answer every email I receive, so don’t hesitate to send me a message.

This was the final part of my interview with Bre. This was so much fun to do and I'm really greatful to Bre for agreeing to do this.


I hope you enjoyed it and that you feel inclined to check out Bre's channel and/or her books :-)

Bye for now

Annelies

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Author interview - Bre Faucheux part 2.

Hi booklovers

This is the second part of my interview with Bre. If you haven't read part 1, you can find it here.
These questions are about her writing in general. Hope you enjoy!

  • What genre are your books?
Most of my books are paranormal and fantasy. I dabbled in romance for a while, but I realized recently that I want to write paranormal full time instead. It’s what makes me truly happy and satisfied at the end of the day. 

  • What draws you to this genre?
I’ve always had a healthy fascination for anything paranormal and occult-ish. Magic, faeries, vampires, ghosts, etc. Real life is depressing and hard. I like the idea of escaping into a realm of things that others don’t find realistic. I don’t read to get a lecture on how hard life is from a book that’s considered a literary masterpiece. I read to be drawn into a story and taken away from the daily grind of life. Vampires, witches, ghosts, and magic have always done that for me.

  • Do you write full-time or part-time?
I’m currently trying to be a full-time writer. To me that doesn’t mean that I write from dawn 'till dusk. It just means that I’m not pursuing any other career at the moment. I write every day until I reach a certain word count, then I do whatever editing or marketing I need to do when I’m done. Being a full-time self-published writer means you are your own writer, editor, cover designer, marketer, formatter, etc. It’s definitely a full time job even when you’re not actually writing.

  • Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Currently, I wake up between 6 – 7 am. I work out, have breakfast and coffee. I get to writing around 9 or so. I usually finish around noon. I take a break, eat lunch, and then I do whatever editing I need to do that afternoon. I sometimes do this at cafes, but lately I’ve found myself more productive at home. I need a strict schedule and a goal for each day, otherwise I don’t get things done. But it’s usually writing in the morning, editing and marketing in the afternoon. Anything more than that and I get the brain drain.

  • What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?
The hardest thing to me is knowing that I might be doing all this work for nothing. There is a chance that I won’t succeed as a writer and that my stories will never be truly discovered by anyone. But I keep doing it because it’s my job. And I enjoy the high from a good work day.

The easiest thing, or the thing I most enjoy, is being able to get up and have that cup of coffee at home, ease into my day, and get to work on my own schedule. I hate working for others and being told what to do with my time. So being able to dictate how I organize my day is very relaxing to me.

  • How do you come up with plots, characters and settings?
I literally see everything in my mind like a movie. I see the characters like actors in a film. I see a set/setting as though I was watching it unfold before me in a movie theatre. As far as the plot, I come up with it a day at a time. Some people call my style of writing “pantsing.” Because I fly by the seat of my pants and write the story as it comes. I generally plan my story a day ahead of time so I know what scene I’m writing the following day. I can’t plan a whole novel to save my life. But I can come up with one scene. And if I can do that for a few months in row, I have an entire plot. Scene to scene, and then eventually I have a whole story.

As far as characters, I find that most novels have three essential people. The leader of the story, the villain, and the ally to the leader of the story. You can change up the formula, but most stories have those three essentials. Keep it the same, but give those three people different characteristics and you have a cast for your book.

Setting, I draw from what I know. I set a story in England because I lived there. I set a story in New Orleans because I was born there. I set a story in Colorado because I lived there. I draw from what I know then roll with the rest of it.

  • How much research do you do?
It completely depends on the story I’m writing. For ‘The Elder Origins’ and ‘The Keeper’s Realm’ I did a lot of research. They both had lots of history woven in them, so it was necessary. For ‘Violet Blake’ I was creating my own world within the real world, so there wasn’t as much research. When writing a story involving lots of research, I’ll usually spend about 1-2 hours a day checking on various facts or just doing some reading about the time period so I can portray it accurately. Doing my major in history helped with that a lot too. Many things I wrote about in ‘The Keeper’s Realm’ were based off case studies I read in college.

  • How do you come up with a title for your book(s) / series?
I try to draw from the story for this. For the 'Elder Origins' the original tribe of vampires referred to their vampires as the ‘Elders’. And it was a vampire origin story. Therefore, 'Elder Origins'.

For 'Keeper’s Realm' the main characters in the story were all Keepers to another realm, the realm of the dead. They were beings from another dimension. So it made sense to me.

Violet Blake was originally called 'The Resurgence of Violet Blake'. I was inspired by the title of the popular novel 'The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer'. But I decided later that it was too long and chunky. Even so, the subtitles of each novella in that series have names beginning of “R’s” in that same way. I tried picking a word that embodied what happened in the plot of each individual novella.

Overall my titles are drawn from what happens in the story. The title has to tell the reader a small detail that entices them to know more. It should be mysterious, kind of like the genre of paranormal.

  • Which type of characters are easier to write, the good or the bad ones?
The bad ones. Hands down. I find the really flawed characters are the most fun. As long as they think their motives are legit, you can make them interesting.
 
  • Do you get inspiration from your personal life / experiences?
All the time. I draw from things I’ve read, places I’ve been to, things I’ve seen, conversations I’ve had, friendships I’ve experienced and emotions I’ve felt. Anything a writer sees or feels can and will end up in a story. Many conversations I’ve had with my dad ended up in ‘Keeper’s Realm’. And Violet Blake’s experiences in high school mirrored mine in so many ways. I even included a few of the bullies who gave me a hard time over the years. My own personal revenge.

  • What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on the middle book to a trilogy I have planned. The first book is near completion. I’m determined not to publish the first book until the entire trilogy has at least been through one entire revision, so as to avoid continuity errors. I’m finding it very challenging and unlike anything I’ve ever done or written. I will be very excited to release the first one hopefully in January or February (at the latest).


That's all for part 2, look out for part 3!

Bye

Annelies

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Author interview - Bre Faucheux part 1.

Hi booklovers

I think it was about two years ago I started watching BookTube videos and I stumbled across a channel called Bre Faucheux.

I really liked Bre's videos, so I started following her on Twitter and we started talking and we got along really well. We still do, btw :-)
I soon found out that Bre is a self-published author and I was curious to read some of her books. I've already read 'The Elder Origins', 'The Keeper's Realm' and the 'Violet Blake' series and I have to say I've thoroughly enjoyed them.

Since I wanted to do something a bit different on my blog, I asked Bre if I could interview her. She agreed, so I asked her some question about herself, her writing and some of her books. I'm so happy that she agreed to do this, because it was really cool to come up with the different questions. Bre was really kind to answer my questions very thoroughly, so I decided to split the interview into three parts. The first part is about who Bre is. The second part will be about writing in general, what her life as a writer looks like, etc. The third part will be about her books in particular.

I hope you enjoy this interview and please go and check out Bre's channel! :-)

  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I was born in Louisiana. I moved over twenty times over the course of my life, lived in over twenty-five different houses, went to three universities, and started pursuing writing full-time about a year ago. I majored in history with an emphasis on medieval Europe and the World Wars. Then I received a graduate degree in Museum Studies abroad. After all those studies, I realized I was disenchanted with academia and having a 9-5 job. I moved home to be with my family and decided I would rather pursue a career of my own making rather than work in an office.
 

I started writing before I knew how to spell out the words I was thinking. I’ve had a journal since I was in single digits. And I wrote my first story in the first grade. I knew I wanted to be a writer before I ever had dreams of doing other things. Even when I studied for other professions through the years, being a writer was the one constant that never changed.  
  • What were you like at school?
A fashionable nerd. One of the few who liked to dress up and wear make-up. But still a nerd to the core. I had one group of friends and we stuck by one another and avoided the cheerleaders at all cost.  
  • What do you like to read?
I’ve always had an obsession with anything paranormal and occult. Anything with an element of history as well. I sometimes go for psychology, philosophy or spiritual books.  
  • Do you have any (unique) hobbies or talents?
I was quite the gymnast in my youth. Then I went on to figure skating. Then I went on to belly dance. Then I went on to swing dancing. I’ve always been physical in my hobbies outside of writing. Right now I’m into Zumba. As far as other talents, I can cook lots of southern dishes handed down by my grandmother. I sew, and I did some makeup artistry in college.  
  • Why do you write?
I started writing mostly because there weren’t any books out there about the topics I loved reading. When I was a kid, there wasn’t any material about the paranormal for kids unless you reached for a Goosebumps book. So I started writing the stories I wished were on the bookshelves for kids at the library. Even today I find myself writing what I wish I saw more often.  
  •  When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Since I was in single digits. I don’t recall the exact age. I must have been maybe seven or eight.
  • Why are you a self-published author?
I started querying agents for my books about three years ago. Not a single bite. I would often get rejection emails in return the same day I sent out my query letter. I think I sent over three hundred. No one wanted to even look at my work. I was face to face with the reality of being a writer in an age that is more concerned with what will sell rather than what is a good story. So I took matters into my own hands. I read about how other writers were making 70% of their royalties by publishing online. And then I read about how traditionally published writers were getting cheated by publishing companies. I quickly realized that having complete control over my books was something I really wanted.
  • How did you come up with your pen name?
Bre is my family nickname. Faucheux was my great grandmother’s maiden name. Done and done. My actual name is boring and there were four people with my name at my university for undergrad. I wanted people to be able to Google me and actually find my books. Currently if you Google my real name, you get over 9.4 million results. It seemed like a good idea to have a unique name.

This was part 1 of the interview. Look out for parts 2 and 3.

Bye for now

Annelies





































Friday, 6 November 2015

FACTS convention + haul

Hi booklovers
 
At the end of September we went to a Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention in Ghent: FACTS convention. I lost count of the number of times we visited this event, but I like the fact that there are so many different things to do, see or buy.

Every year you have the chance to meet actors, get an autograph or have your picture taken with them. Unfortunately, getting your picture taken with an actor is no longer free of charge - which it used to be when we started visiting the convention all those years ago. I don't like to pay money to have my picture taken with someone famous, especially when some actors charge €60 ($65) for a damn picture. What we do sometimes get is a personalised autograph of a certain actor. I know, I know, you still have to pay for an autograph, but the price is a bit more reasonable: €30 ($32). This year we decided to go for a Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca - Star Wars) and Ernie Hudson (Winston - Ghost Buster) autograph. We were going to get an autograph from Christopher Lloyd (Dr Emmet Brown - Back to the future) until we saw how much he charged for it: a whopping €50 ($54). I'm sorry, but that is ridiculous!! Btw, he was also the one charging €60 for a photo!
I also added some new Funko Pops to my collection. This is where this post becomes somewhat bookrelated :-)
Ron and Hermione
Professor Snape
 Voldemort

I really like the Harry Potter Funko's and I wanted to get the whole set, but unfortunately Hagrid and Professor Dumbledore had already sold out and they were charging too much for Harry Potter. Ah well, I'll get them eventually ;-)


And then lastly thing I got is totally bookrelated:
At one of the booths there was a Flemish author signing her books. I have her first book, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. But an autographed book is always cool, so I decided to put my principle aside and get the second book so I could have it autographed :-) All you booklovers know what I mean, right?! ;-)
 Dragon Queen and Dragon Wizard
An Jannsens

The text says: To Annelies. A book filled with wizards and magic to remember a fantasy filled day at Facts and to enjoy a couple of hours of reading when you get around to it.
I mentioned that I hadn't read the first book yet, so I thought it was pretty cool that she incorporated that in her note :-)
I had a very nice day at the convention, it's nice to be among kindred spirits when it comes to fantasy and that stuff, so we'll definitely be going again next year!

Bye for now

Annelies