Tuesday, 24 June 2014

WOW... over 30,000 views!

Okay, so let me just say that this is amazing... (at least for me it anyway). As of this precise moment my blog has had 30,614 views!

(MASSIVE clunking sound as my jaw drops to the ground........)


So, firstly, thanks a lot for visiting my humble site.

When I started this blog back in 2012 I had no idea what I was doing, what I was doing it for, and frankly, doubted if anyone cared.

A blog was a way to vent about stuff, promote my books, post lovely pictures of things I did with the kids, my baking, cooking, etc. I'm amazed I actually got any book writing done when I look back and see what I did. You should read this post as a summary => HAPPY TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY, HYBRID. (My Evolution Trilogy blog has already amassed over 15,000 views, which is FABULOUS!)

Recently, I have been finding writing tough. Mainly because of my new work in progress...

When I finished the trilogy, I SAID I was going to work on something easy.

The trilogy had been incredibly tough as my first ever writing project. Without a publisher, I had to ask my super friends for help in reviewing the novels, but ultimately I made most of the big decisions. If you hate it, I'm sorry you feel that way. But, I did not write it to fit a niche market, or satisfy anyone in particular. I wrote it for myself. The ending is the ending I wanted, the one that left me smiling. It's not what everyone wants, but that's life - nothing is ever perfect!

So, moving on... my next project (and I have written over 20,000 words so far - early days...) is HUGE. I had no idea what I had let myself in for when I decided to write the story.

In a nutshell, I am writing a historical fiction novel based on the life of my great, great grandparents.

My father wrote several articles in the Gibraltar Heritage Magazine, one of which made me cry, and I knew this was what I wanted to write about. I was (AM) naive and foolish! I do not have a history degree, or even GCSE for that matter... so I am doing all the research myself and there is heaps of it to read. All fascinating of course, since it is the rich Victorian era, but writing about it is tough. Most of my time is spent researching, then writing.

I am keeping tabs on the various sites I come across so that readers can visit and discover this amazing world, outside of fiction. A lot of the information is shocking to say the least. The human story behind a lot of things we take for granted is something I want to flesh out. People have been the same for thousands of years. The only thing that changes is what we do with our time.

Fortunately, my great, great grandfather wrote many letters and luckily I have copies. These have helped me piece together their story. But, a lot will be fiction... my imagination is running wild again!

I hope to keep you posted on my book as I go, but I know it'll take a while to do the period and characters justice. Please bear with me.

Anyway, thank you for reading & I hope whatever projects you are involved in go to plan!

All the best,
Vanessa :) xx

HYBRID is permanently free - so tell your friends about it, download, & (whispers) please review?
Visit my blog for the links => THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Chocolate & Books - a match made in Heaven

I have been tagged by Susan Buchanan for the Chocolate Challenge - as she says in her post, who could resist talking about chocolates and books!

Instead of talking about my all time favourite ten books, I have decided to rate 10 books I've come across this year...

I have focused on the books, not the chocolate, otherwise you'll not be able to concentrate!

So, (drum-roll please) I give you my selection.

Apparently, "life is just like a box of chocolates..."

No. 1: Praline filled specialty chocolates

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny LessI loved this book, and can't believe it was first published in 1976 - a special year for me, hmm hmm...

Basically, this is a cleverly structured story about four gentleman who come together to seek revenge against a ruthless "clever" entrepreneur who steals 1million pounds from them. The way he does this is via an "insider trading" smoke screen - this practice is now illegal in the UK. Having studied business I understood all the tricks, and loved the way they were all conned. But, the twists kept coming & I did not foresee the ones Archer had up his sleeve towards the end...

I got this paperback for 30p via a charity shop so am chuffed to bits! Great story, clever characters, and value for money! The only gripe I have is that there are several moment of pure chauvinism - if you put that in a book nowadays they'd be a public outcry. Of course, I forget that "spanking" sells books... Luckily in this case it was written in a "joke" manner not for pleasure! (rolls eyes)

No. 2 Lindor

LongbournThis book got me at the right time... I have always loved the story of Pride & Prejudice, but have recently been interested in the life of the average person in that time. I am also fascinated by the effects of war on our society and think it is important that we realise that our way of life could never exist were it not for the sacrifices made by others in the past.

I found the original spin in the tale to be clever and interesting. Yes, it is based on the setting of P&P, but it is a distinct novel. To be enjoyed on its own merit.

I loved it & would recommend to readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially if you have read Victoria Hislop's "The Return". It works well alongside this other brilliant novel.

No. 3 Galaxy (preferably served with a Baileys on ice)

The Worst Girlfriend in the WorldThe sign of a good book is when I am hooked & HAVE to read it ASAP, which I did!

This is my 5th Sarra Manning book, and whilst not my favourite one, it had me hooked from the first page. There is something about the style of writing that makes it easy to read...

It also sent me on a flashback to my teenage years full of angst, family stress, and trauma!

I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend to both teens & women.

No. 4 Cailler

Forbidden Mind (Forbidden Trilogy, #1)I read this book in a day and loved it. This is a YA book, written in an easy style, which is perfect for fans of SciFi and paranormal. The characters are well introduced and developed and the plot is laced with intrigue and suspense. If you have watched X-Men the plot might be familiar at first, but it holds its own. I thought the quotes from fantastic books and sources where an extra special touch.

I really liked the authors style and will look out for more books.

No. 5 70% Dark Chocolate

Shift (Silo, #2)This is going to be an interesting review...

I have not read Wool, but had heard of it & the success of the author. I read somewhere that he was approached by publishers and managed to keep the rights to the eBook, since he was so successful. This is fantastic for an indie author!

Anyway, I saw Shift in the library and borrowed it.

At first (the first 150-200 pages), I found the book too slow and was confused by the story. I suspected where it was heading, but I had too many questions - it seemed implausible - which of course it is, this is fiction! Saying this, I was browsing a kids information book at the library and they talked of nano technology... The freaked me out a bit. I hope no-one ever decides to make a pact and create this dystopian society!

Either way, the more I read, the more I was sucked in. Still confused, shocked even by the raw and crude actions taken by humanity in its various guises. But, I liked the analogies, the subtle observations relating real life to what could happen if power were ever given to the wrong hands.

I have not put the book down over the past 2 days and, having finished the book, I know I will now read Wool and continue the story.

The fact this could have been more concise and better written is irrelevant - the plot is engaging, the characters show the reality of human nature, the outcomes the inevitability of despair...

However, I have to rate this a 4 because I think it lacks compassion, love, determination, human drive, team work... From my limited knowledge of us simple humans, I am convinced that in the end good will overcome evil. As humans, we show that as a unit we work better than as individuals. Our cunning, intelligence, and foresight make anything possible. So, it makes the idea that an entire silo is wiped out that easily (like in 17) without cooperation impossible in my mind - especially since food production was still possible. But, when I see where this is heading I might change my opinion.

I recommend this if you enjoy SciFi and dystopian fiction - there is not even a hint of romance to be found here. So romance lovers, steer clear...

No. 6 Flake

Trouble in Teutonia“The start had me gripped instantly as I envisaged a werewolf racing after a girl.

At present day, we again meet Billy (introduced in Bother in Burmeon), a boy on route to becoming the next Dr Who (without a blue tardis or bow tie!)

When the time-slip event happens we are thrust into the Cold War! The descriptions are vivid, the action is full on and the characters are wonderfully developed. I loved Billy’s inquisitive nature and as the plot unfolds you find yourself more curious. The addition of a space rocket adds to the excitement! His side kick, the brainiac American girl Kathleen, is a wonderful addition.

This book is obviously written for a younger audience and there were some occasions which I found implausible, but overall it worked. The only thing I found distracting was the translations as footnotes (my son disagrees and thought this was great). Something that struck me as odd was the fact the ebook ended at around 90%, since there was a lot of material at the end (on the paperback there were a lot of blank extra pages).

In summary, a great read for 8-12 year old children with an interest in action, war, space rockets, great characters and time travel.”

Vanessa Wester 

“I found the story line much more interesting than the 1st one as it added more drama, mystery and suspense as with a werewolf, a kidnapped girl and a criminal! (Cue the beasts, criminals and jets!)

The objective of the villain good, as a German trying to breach the cold war as a rank outsider...

From the first chapter, I was hooked and I read it in a day! Brilliant!”

Michael Wester (age 11)

*I received a copy of this book as a gift for review, and was lucky enough to interview the author on my blog*

No. 7 Bounty

Planet Urth (Planet Urth, #1)I really enjoyed this quick read. It is aimed at YA readers who enjoy books like Hunger Games, and the premise is a dystopian society where humans are hunted by two new breeds... Urthmen (mutated humans) & Lurkers (night predators likened to wolves). There is also the hint of a romance lurking on the horizon!

I am amazed at the amount of books these authors have written since 2010 and wish them all the best. I know what this takes having gone through a similar journey.

Escapism is fantastic!

No. 8 Malteser

Blood TitheI recently purged my kindle and found this eBook that I downloaded ages ago for free.

It is not what I would call a quick read, since I needed a break from it at times just to digest what had happened.

Basically, a young boy (5) accidentally falls into a pit and is exposed to something which makes him "special". The author switches between present and past with ease, giving you the full picture gradually. At times, I found this too slow and wanted to know more about the present, but since this is a series I can see that he is merely setting the scene for later books. The plot is clever, the characters are well developed, and everything is in place for the continuation. I have many questions and would love to see this on TV! Dash is probably the character that most intrigues me...

I would liken this book to the first few episodes of a TV SciFi series. I liked the premise, and thought Jeremy was a great main character.

Overall, a great start to a SciFi series...

No. 9 Ferrerro Rocher

Watery WaysI rarely read a book like this, but I have to admit I really enjoyed it.

The best way to describe it is as a diary, albeit, a very well written one!

Having lived in Rotterdam for over three years over several years, and having had my first daughter there, I was intrigued by this story, which is on the whole based in Rotterdam. I lived close to the Oude Harbour when I first lived there and frequently went for walks alongside. But, I had no idea about what it was like to live on a barge (apart from the fact I suffer from sea-sickness, so prefer to be on dry land).

My husbands parents are Dutch too, so I found the descriptions of Dutch traditions and locations really interesting.

I have to admit that many a time I found myself laughing out loud due to some of Valerie's experiences... Especially the one where she falls in the water!

I would highly recommend this book if you have a interest in Dutch culture and would like to know what it is like to live on a barge, as well as the work involved to do so.

No. 10 Cadbury's Whole nut

Love, Lies and LizzieRead it in a few hours...

Since the original story was written by Jane Austen it can't get a five, but it is a great interpretation suitable for girls in the modern age (I actually bought it for my daughter for Xmas - knowing I could read it! Ha)

Really enjoyed it & would recommend this is bought in a set via The Book Club - where I got it for a great price!

To continue this post I would like to tag several author I have mentioned above, so that you can find out more about them... click on the link below to go to their twitter feed! If they do post I will update the links with their blog post.

Sarra Manning
Valerie Poore
Glenn Soucy

Hope you enjoyed,