March Wrap Up…

Welcome to my March Wrap Up. I had a great reading month, finishing 10 books (only 4 from my TBR). I really enjoyed all the books I read this month, So im looking forward to talking about them in this wrap up.

I have reviews up or coming up for most of these books so as usual this is just going to be a brief run down on each book I read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my March Wrap Up…

The Land Of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer: Book 2 in The Land Of Stories series and it didn’t disappoint. Continued building on the amazing characters with a great and exciting new plot. Loved this book.

The Land Of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer: Book 3 in The Land Of Stories series. This is my least favourite book in the series. I just didn’t like the fact that our two leads spend the book in different dimensions. Something was just missing for me in this book.

The Land Of Stories: Beyond The Kingdoms by Chris Colfer: Book 4 in The Land Of Stories series. My favourite book to date. I love that this book travelled out of The Land Of Stories and the Otherworld and entered Oz, Neverland and Wonderland. Such a great concept that was perfectly executed.

The Land Of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer: Book 5 in The Land Of Stories series. Continuing with the storyline from book 4, An Author’s Odyssey was amazing. Introducing some strange yet awesome new characters and setting up an amazing storyline for book 6. Bring on The Land Of Stories: World’s Collide.

The Stinky Street Stories by Alex Ratt: A funny, smelly book, containing 3 truly stinky stories. I really enjoyed this book. The stories were fresh and fun, with each story new yet containing the same loveable characters. I will definitely be reading this book again in the future.

The Saggy Baggy Elephant by K & B Jackson: I couldn’t stop myself from buying this book. It brought me back to my childhood. I hope that people are still reading this amazing book to their kids today. If you havent heard of the Saggy Baggy Elephant find yourself a copy stat.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner: A Beauty and the Beast retelling that really blew me away. After a slowish start this book hooked me. I loved the fact that Beauty was a hunter and I really loved the strength and independence she possessed. A must read book.

The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend: I didn’t love this book. It was about a group of teenagers who find each other and go searching for their sperm donor. There was just something about the tone of this book that I didn’t enjoy. I also had trouble warming to the characters. I think it was a great idea for a story its execution just didn’t really do anything for me.

Letter To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer: I Love Love Loved this book. A beautiful story, with realistic characters that radiated emotion. I can’t speak highly enough of this book. Make sure you get yourself a copy when it is released next month. You wont regret reading this book.

London Bound by C.J. Duggan: Third standalone book in the ‘A Heart Of the City’ series. I adored this book. My favourite Heart of the City book by far. Amazing setting, A romantic and steamy plot and relatable characters made for a fantastic read. A must have book.

That’s it for my March Wrap Up. Let me know what you guys read this month. Until my April Wrap Up… Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

 

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Q&A With Alex Ratt…

I was lucky enough to get the chance to do a Q&A with Author Alex Ratt. Alex Ratt’s book The Stinky Street Stories was released yesterday. I have a review for The Stinky Street Stories that went up earlier this week. I hope this Q&A ties you over untill you can get your hands on The Stinky Street Stories.

Where and when can we buy your book?

The Stinky Street Stories will be filling bookstores with foul fumes from 28 March.

Give us an insight into your main character. Why does he want to be called Brain?

Brian has a rather over-inflated sense of his own brilliance. (In fact, it is really his sister Brenda who is the brainy one.) But he means well!

Was there a particular moment or smell that sparked your idea for this book?

Who would have thought that walking down a street lined with rubbish bins stuffed full of prawn shells would lead to a book idea? But it was a very STINKY STREET!

When did you decide to become a writer?

I have actually been writing for more than ten years (as the more fragrant Frances Watts; Alex Ratt is a pen name). In fact, the inspiration for my first book, a picture book called Kisses for Daddy, also came while walking down the street. In that instance, witnessing a funny moment between a cheeky little boy and his dad sparked a story idea.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I started writing almost immediately after seeing the boy and his dad mentioned above. Although I have always loved reading and writing, I never thought of writing a book myself until that first story started bubbling away in my head.

Do you have a special time or place where you like to write?

I find mornings are the best time to write (which is strange, because I am not a morning person). And though I’d love to be one of those people who writes in cafes, I’m much more productive at my desk.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

When I’m writing something long I try for 1500–2000 words a day…Wouldn’t it be wonderful to actually achieve that?! Really, I’m happy with 1000 words a day. And that’s only the first draft, of course; I usually do three or four drafts at least.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I always start longhand, writing ideas and random scenes and passages of dialogue in my notebook. The ‘proper’ writing takes place on the computer though.

Where do your ideas come from?

Well, it seems that just walking down the street is my best source of inspiration! But I also draw on my memories and experiences, things I see while travelling, my love of history…even language itself—a lovely sequence of words that rolls off the tongue in a delightful way (usually involving alliteration: putrid pongs, rotten reeks and foul fumes can be found in abundance on Stinky Street!).

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

A bit of both…I usually have a general sense of where the plot is going, but I don’t quite know how I’m going to get there. Sometimes I’m quite surprised by the result!

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Ideas for stories! I have so many stories in my head I’m eager to tell.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

There are times when a story just won’t go where you want it to. (Stories can be stubborn like that.)

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Oh yes!

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Walking. It’s funny how many writers say the same thing: going for a walk always helps. And it turns out it’s no coincidence. Researchers at Stanford University have found recently that walking really does help boost creativity.

What book/s are you reading at present?

I am obsessed with a picture book at the moment: We Found This Hat by Jon Klassen. (It’s all in the turtles’ eyes…)

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

Well, I know I could be better at it than I am!

How do you relax?

Reading. (Of course!) Plus travelling and cooking.

What is your favourite book and why?

Russell Hoban’s The Twenty-Elephant Restaurant. It’s hilarious.

What is your favourite quote?

‘Sometimes it’s a one-man circus and sometimes it’s a twenty-elephant restaurant. And that’s life.’ (from Russell Hoban’s The Twenty-Elephant Restaurant)

Which writers inspire you?

Writers like Jackie French and Russell Hoban, who have written for all ages in a variety of genres, have made me feel free to do the same.

What is your favourite film and why?

There’s this French film called Conversations with My Gardener…It sounds exciting, doesn’t it?! I’m a big scaredy-cat, so I prefer films with no drama or tension. (A bit of lovely scenery is a bonus.)

 What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Find your creative satisfaction in the act of writing itself. Whether your book will be a commercial or critical success is outside your control, but you can control how much work and care and passion you put into your manuscript. Write to please yourself first.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: http://www.franceswatts.com/alexratt.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Frances-Watts-305102072863691/
thumbnail_Alex Ratt Author Image                                                       thumbnail_Stinky Street Stories cover image

Thank you so much to Alex Ratt for participating in this Q&A.

The Stinky Street Stories by Alex Ratt is available now.

The Stinky Street Stories by Alex Ratt

When Brian wakes up one Sunday morning he is overwhelmed by a truly pongy, putrid smell. After he realises he is home alone, he calls his best mate Nerf to come over, Knowing that it is up to them to find and destroy the horrible stench. Brian and Nerf’s hunt to find the mystery smell is only the start of their stinky adventures.

This fantastic book contains 3 stinky stories, the third story is longer than the first two so it has been split into two parts. Splitting the book into 3 stories makes this book a great book to pick up and put down while reading with kids.

Illustrated by Jules Faber, the stories and illustrations perfectly compliment each other. Jules Faber’s illustrations add an extra layer to this book helping to enhance these great stories.

I really enjoyed this book, so I can only imagine how much enjoyment this book is going to give to young readers. As I was reading this book I could actually picture kids laughing, especially young boys.

Alex Ratt has done an amazing job with this book, the humour, character and storylines are on point from start to finish.

This book definatly hit the mark. The great easy to read narrative make this book flow seamlessly from one story to the next. Filled with smelly situations and funny exchanges between the characters, Alex Ratt has discovered the magic formula.

This book is a must have for all kids.

Never Tear Us Apart by Quinn Brockton 

A Queer As Folk Story.

Based on the record-breaking Showtime series; Never Tear Us Apart reunites you with your favourite Queer As Folk characters. A prequel to the Showtime series, Never Tear Us Apart follows Brian and Michael as they adjust to their new lives as college students. We join the boys as they meet new friends, explore their sexuality and come face to face with the realities of jealousy, homophobia and HIV.

This book was awesome. I absolutely loved it.

I was concerned about how the characters were going to be developed in this book, but I really didn’t need to worry. Quinn Brockton did a great job in capturing the essence of these characters and creating this story without altering their personalities. This book kept true to the heart and soul of Queer As Folk while giving some extra layers to the characters we know and love.

It was fantastic getting to see the friendships between Brian and Lindsey and Michael and Emmett form. Seeing the situations that shaped these characters into the men and women we got to know in the television series. It was quite nostalgic getting to read about Brian, Michael, Debbie, Vic, Lindsey and Emmett. It was like catching up with old friends.

Reading this story and watching the characters grow throughout it gave me a greater insight into the bond that these characters have and how it developed.

Quinn Brockton’s writing style was very cinematic, which made both the characters and narrative read more like a script than a novel, which really worked perfectly for this story.

This book doesn’t affect or distract from the Queer As Folk television series, it just adds another dimension to the much-loved characters. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the Queer As Folk novels and getting to see the introductions of the remaining Showtime series characters.

This book is a must have for any Queer As Folk fan.

My 13 Favourite Books…

After much deliberation I have narrowed this post down to my 13 Favourite books. I will go through each selection and give you some insights on why its one of my favourites. Lets jump in…

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Well if you follow my blog or social media you would already know I Love Harry Potter. Reading Harry Potter blows my mind. The characters, the world and the magic is and always has been an escape for me. I use to wish that Hogwarts was real and I would be lucky enough to go there. The Harry Potter series sparked my love of reading and is a series I always return to when I need a little magic in my life.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett: This book is the first book I remember reading. As a child this book was everything to me, it was my happy place. I’ve read this book many times as an adult and it still moves me. I love the imagination, the friendship and the strong shelf belief that this book promotes.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: After reading and loving A Little Princess I got The Secret Garden, and I fell in love with my second book. I still to this day, dream of having my own secret garden. This book just makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I read it.

Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: I love Anne. Growing up I could relate to Anne’s talkative personality and her insecurities about her appearance. I love the character arc that Anne goes on through this book and I love her imagination and internal descriptive dialogue. Anne Of Green Gables is a must read.

Les Miserable by Victor Hugo: Victor Hugo is the master. Going into this book was extremely daunting. The sheer size of it almost put me off. Thankfully I pushed on and I am so glad I did. Having a book cover such a massive amount of years and people was something I had never experienced before. Seeing the characters struggles, connections and the way life changed over time made for an unforgettable reading experience.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: I adore this book. If you have read it, I hope you do too. This book was perfectly written. Reading about WW2 through the eyes of a child was both beautiful and heartbreaking. Seeing the way these character’s grew and changed as the story and war progress was a masterpiece of writing. If you havent read this book you definitely should.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: I had to read this book in high school. I didn’t think I would enjoy it, it was required reading after all. After reading this book I had to adjust my thoughts on require reading. This book was amazing. I loved the characters and their journeys. This is a book that I think everyone should read at least once in their life. Stay Golden Ponyboy.

Time Of My Life by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi: As a massive Patrick Swayze fan I wasnt really surprised that I loved this book. It was honest, raw and heartbreaking. Reading about Patrick and Lisa’s life, careers, marriage and Patrick’s battle with cancer was such a moving experience. Having the book written by both Patrick and Lisa gave it an extra layer, getting both party’s views and opinions made for a beautiful read.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck: I read the Grapes of Wrath in high school and while it was good, I just didn’t love it. After leaving school I decided to give John Steinbeck another chance and picked up East of Eden. I am so so so glad I did. I couldn’t put this book down. East of Eden is one of the best classic books I have ever read. It was perfectly written, with amazing characters and a fantastic plot. As a pretty large book I was pleasantly surprised how fast I devoured it and how unhappy I was that there wasnt more book for me to read.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: This beautiful little book is a joy to behold. Every time I read this book I take something different from it. Whether its Hope, Longing or pure joy, this book just radiates life for me. A must read for everyone.

The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon: When narrowing down my top 13 I just couldn’t bring myself to take this book off the list.This beautiful book is set in modern times, with current events being intertwined into a beautiful plot. With family the core of this book, I just fell in love. With amazing characters and cinematic writing I felt like I was apart of this story. I can’t think of another book like this one. In my opinion its one of a kind.

My Special Christmas Adventure: This amazingly beautiful book was given to me by my Nan and Pop for my first Christmas and I absolutely adore it. It is personalised, and features Me, my older sister and my two older cousins. I read this book every Christmas and it always makes me feel special and happy.

Miss You, Pat by Sharon Watts: Miss You, Pat is a collection of memories of Captain Patrick J. Brown of the FDNY. Paddy Brown was a first responder who lost his life on 9/11. 9/11 was one of the first devastating event that had an effect on me. As a young teenager I didn’t really care about what was happening in the world around me up until this point. I became a little obsessed with learning about 9/11 and the lives that were affected. Miss You, Pat really struck me and opened my eyes to the world around me and the people who live in it.

While I had a lot of trouble picking just 13 books I am happy with how this list turned out. Comment and let me know if any of these books are on your favourite list, or let me know your favourite books and why.

Happy Reading

❤ Gem

 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Scarlet and Tella live a very repressed life with their domineering Father. As children the sister’s Grandmother told them wonderful stories about the magical Caraval. After years of writing to Legend; the mast of Caraval, Scarlet finally received a reply as well as 3 tickets to this years Caraval. Upon arriving at Caraval, Scarlet realises nothing is what it seems and no one can be trusted. Scarlet must trust herself and her instincts, while following clues and unearthing mysteries in order to win the game and find her sister Tella.

I Love Love Loved this book.

Stephanie Garber’s writing is absolutely beautiful. It is clear and easy to understand and her cinematic descriptions are breathtaking.

While reading this book you really feel like you are on the journey with Scarlet. The world of Caraval is perfectly described and well thought out. The concept of this book; the blurred lines between fantasy and reality is really strong and constantly builds throughout the book.

As a reader you are experiencing Caraval the same way Scarlet is, you have little to no understanding of what’s real and what isn’t. The story is so well written, that as a reader it is really easy to get lost in Caraval.

The characters of Scarlet and Tella are polar opposite sisters. As both an older and younger sister I was able to relate to both or their characters and their sisterly dynamic. The relationship between Scarlet and Tella was so authentic and beautiful. I loved the fact that the love or this book was sisterly and not romantic.

Stephanie Garber’s did a fantastic job with the characters of this book. Each character was strongly defined and had a well-developed storyline.

The feel of this book was so weirdly awesome. It was dark and mysterious yet still fun and whimsical.

For a debut Author Stephanie Garber has created a truly atmospheric story. Caraval is almost an interactive experience, with clubs and puzzles to delve into and amazing characters to fall in love with.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a must read.

Tomorrow Never Knows: The Silverchair Story by Jeff Apter

15 Year Old Daniel Johns, Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou went from rocking out in their parents garage’s to become one of Australia’s most successful rock bands. This first ever account of Silverchair details the albums, tours, highs and lows of being teenage rock stars, as well as candid interviews with the band include rare one on one interviews with Daniel Johns and Silverchair’s manager, John Watson. This amazing book is not to be missed.

I love Silverchair.

As a Silverchair fan I was so excited to read this book; and let me tell you it didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t put it down.

I grew up listening to and loving Silverchair, so this book was right up my alley. Getting to read about the bands highs and lows as if I was actually there with the boys was truly an amazing experience. Reading and learning more about Silverchair; especially the shy and captivating Daniel Johns was absolutely wonderful.

Jeff Apter did a marvellous job with this book; it was informative and inspirational. Jeff showed great skill and empathy in capturing the hardships that Daniel and the band faced over the years, while still keeping the book radiating positivity. Jeff Apter could teach a masterclass in great writing.

This book is a testament to both great writing and to an amazing band. What Silverchair achieved and the journey the band travelled paired with Jeff Apter’s skill as a writer makes for a great reading experience.

This book is a must have for any Silverchair fan.

Wacky Wednesday…

After some soul-searching I have decided to make a new addition to gemsbooknook.

Welcome to Wacky Wednesday.

Starting next Wednesday and continuing into the foreseeable future, I will be adding a Wacky Wednesday post. These new posts won’t be book reviews like their Monday and Friday siblings. They will be lists and collections and opinions. Posts about books I like or don’t like. Topics to look forward to include: Books that changed my life, books that made me think, my favourite book to movie adaptations, any many many others.

I am extremely excited to be adding these Wacky Wednesday post to gemsbooknook.

I hope you all enjoy this new addition to the blog.

The addition of Wacky Wednesday won’t affect the current post scheduled. I will still be posting book reviews every Monday and Friday as well as bonus reviews for special occasions.

If you guys have any suggestions for topics please let me know and I will do my best to include them all. I look forward to hearing what you guys think I should post about.

Don’t forget to check out gemsbooknook on Friday and Monday for my latest reviews.

Happy Reading

❤ Gem

The Marvellous Roald Dahl Library 

The Marvellous Roald Dahl Library is a collection of 14 Roald Dahl books, illustrated by Quentin Blake. The 14 books came with a box to keep them in. This collection was in conjunction with the Sydney Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph news papers. Each book was $2.60 with the purchase of the newspaper.

This fantastic collection is a definite keeper. These beautiful books are a great idea to help get kids interested in reading. To keep it easy for children, the larger books in the collection were spilt into two to make them less daunting.

I loved the fact that The Marvellous Roald Dahl Library gave me the opportunity to read some or Roald Dahl’s lesser known books. I grow up loving Roald Dahl, so I was very excited to get my hands on this collection.

I don’t really have a lot to say about these books individually, so I have decided just to list the books that were part of The Marvellous Roald Dahl Library.

So without further ado, Welcome to The Marvellous Roald Dahl Library:

  • The Twits
  • The Magic Finger
  • The Great Mouse Plot
  • James and the Giant Peach part 1
  • James and the Giant Peach part 2
  • Marvellous Joke Book
  • The Giraffe and Pelly and Me
  • Fantastic Mr Fox
  • Mischief and Mayhem
  • Danny the Champion of the World part 1
  • Danny the Champion of the World part 2
  • Splendiferous Quiz Book
  • The Dahlmanac Fun Facts and Jokes
  • Esio Trot

If you havent read these Roald Dahl books, then now is the time. You wont regret it. They Really are Marvellous.

Happy Reading…

Paris Lights by C.J. Duggan

First standalone book in the A Heart Of The City Series.

After her boyfriend dumps her is Paris, Australian Claire Shorten is determined not to let him ruin Paris for her. Deciding to stay in Paris and reclaim her love for the city, Claire finds herself a job at the hotel where she has been staying. When the hotel where she now lives and works garners the attention of celebrity chef and business Tycoon Louis Delarue, Claire is thrown into the deep end of a business lunch from hell. Despite the disastrous luncheon, Louis has taken an interest in the hotel and decides to help it reach its potential. Despite her protests Claire is assigned to work with Louis. Can Claire handle the ruthless business man and help her friends and co workers save their jobs.

I really enjoyed this book.

With interesting and relatable characters it wasnt hard to get swept up into this story. C.J. Duggan has done a wonderful job with this book. With a great array of relatable character, a great setting and steamy situations, this book was an easy enjoyable read.

The descriptive almost cinematic writing really captures the city of Paris. I loved seeing Paris from a tourists perspective, it was both exciting and overwhelming.

Emotion played a big role in this book and you could definitely feel it throughout the story. The writing was emotive yet witty at the same time.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this book was needing to wait for conversations to be translated. Being that the main character of Claire was an Australian who didn’t speak French, in Paris, some of the dialogue need to be translated to her and that slowed down the flow of the book a little.

Other than my issue with the translating, I will definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a different yet beautifully told romance, with a great setting, relatable characters and great writing.

In other words I think everyone should read this book.

Bring on the rest of A Heart Of The City Series.