Monday, February 21, 2011

'I Am Number Four' Book + Movie Combo!

I was thrilled to be asked to spread the word about the FABULOUS deal on that concerns the long-awaited release of the I Am Number Four movie. The Pittacus Lore novel has amazed readers everywhere and now you can get the movie tie-in edition in hardcover (featuring Alex Pettyfer on the cover, the hunk de jour who seems to be everywhere nowadays) for $17.99 and get a free movie ticket with it (for any movie!), only on Bookperk! It's not a competition - everyone gets the ticket. Bear in mind that the offer expires on the 18th, so you have about a week left to kill two birds with one stone. Click here to read more.

And obviously, come back and let me know if the movie is worth seeing. I'd greatly appreciate it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Interview + Giveaway: Tom Dolby

Today, we welcome author Tom Dolby to Nikola's Book Blog! Tom's YA novel The Trust has just recently been published and it is the second in his very successful and popular Secret Society series. This is why I am so excited that Tom is here today to answer some questions and, wait for it, do a giveaway for a SIGNED copy of The Trust! Welcome, Tom!

First of all, congratulations on The Trust being published last week! There must be much excitement in your camp!

Thanks! I'm excited to continue the Secret Society journey for my characters. I'm very fond of Nick, Phoebe, Lauren, Patch and Thad.

Why should people go and buy the Secret Society books right now?

Secret Society is the type of book that I like to curl up with on a snowy winter day - and now that its followup, The Trust, is out, the story has completed its arc. The Trust picks up right where Secret Society left off, so there's no more waiting around to see how those cliffhangers will turn out.

Your earlier novels, The Trouble Boy and Sixth Form, both have gay protagonists and could be dubbed coming-of-age novels. Do you think YA fiction is a good field for writing gay fiction?

I love good adult fiction with gay characters. I haven't written many fiction with gay main character that is "YA" per se, but The Trouble Boy and Sixth Form do have a lot of teenage fans, as they are about teenagers and twentysomethings. I think the teenage years are ripe for exploration, and doing it through young adult fiction is a great way to speak to young people while they are going through these formative years.

Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, an anthology of essays including your own, has just been adapted for the small screen. Would you like to see your Secret Society novels adapted for the screen as well?

Of course! It was thrilling to see Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys become a reality show on the Sundance Channel! Like any author, I would love to see my novels as films!

What is the biggest challenge you face as an author? Also, what's next for Tom Dolby?

I am working on a screenplay now, as well as starting work on a new novel. I think my biggest challenge is simply balancing work with new fatherhood (my husband and I had twin girls several months ago) - it's very rewarding as well as often exhausting!

Congratulations on your new family member as well, Tom!

Tom is offering one SIGNED hardcover copy (how cool is that?!) to one lucky winner. The contest is open to US (48 states) and Canada only! Contest ends February 22nd! To enter, leave a comment with a way to contact you in the comments. The winner will be randomly selected.

BONUS ENTRIES (not mandatory):
+2 for following my blog
+2 for tweeting about the contest (leave the link!)
+2 for linking to the contest somewhere
+4 for blogging about the contest
+4 for visiting Tom's website and coming back with a title you'd read other than the Secret Society books and the reason why!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book to Movie Review: Never Let Me Go

One of my favorite 2010 reads was Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (click here for the review). It is a strange, wonderful story of a world which does not care for its inhabitants and how the power or love and friendship may or may not win in the end.

The movie adaptation of the novel stars three of the most perspective young actors - Carey Mulligan (Oscar-nominated for An Education), Keira Knightley (Oscar-nominated for Pride & Prejudice) and Andrew Garfield. They play Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, respectively. The three have grown up in a boarding school named Hailsham and, having recently graduated, are thrown in the outside world to fend for themselves. I do not want to give too much away - but Hailsham, as well as the world in the story, may not be at all as it seems and once the three reach this conclusion, they only have each other for support.

Much of my excitement prior to seeing this movie was the cast - namely, Keira Knightley. One of my favorite actresses, she is given the most colorful role in the movie. A part of a love triangle, she embodies the conflicting feelings of competitiveness and vulnerability perfectly, and particularly shines in a scene where she is finally confronted with the reality of her situation. Mulligan and Garfield are just as competent and have remarkable chemistry, which helps the movie immensely. Throw in competent direction and beautiful cinematography and you cannot go wrong with this one.

It is difficult to write about Never Let Me Go without giving anything away. Yet, I cannot recommend this movie enough. My DVD copy will surely be played a great number of times as this wonderful, warm story is slowly becoming one of my all-time favorites. Ishiguro should be really proud.


BEWARE: The trailer contains spoilers!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

Have you ever read Julian Barnes? One of the greatest living postmodernist authors, he is one of those writers who are able to turn serious matter into hilariously witty - yet real - stories. And check out the title of this one: A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters. First, a history, because there are official, textbook histories, but then again, there are the private, subjective, personal histories. In 10 1/2 chapters (the half-chapter is a short essay) are Julian Barnes' view of history. Here, it is not the people who shape history - it shapes people. At least according to Julian Barnes.

The book is hard to define. It could just be a novel - after all, there are overarching themes, symbols, story lines and leitmotifs. On the other hand, each chapter could be read exclusively. Not only that, but each chapter is written with a different narrator and in a different style. The first one, for example, takes place on Noah's Arc and is related from a mystery animal (I won't give it away). This animal stays as a leitmotif throughout the book, but is never the narrator again. In fact, the abundance of voices, narrators and styles in the book shape and populate Barnes' history. There is not one voice, but many.

Not all of them worked for me, naturally. While I enjoyed reading about the Noah's Arc (The Stowaway), a brave and possibly delusional woman (dystopian The Survivor), a tourist ship hijacked by terrorists (The Visitors), the role of art in forming history (The Shipwreck) and the plights of a religious zealot going on a ridiculous pilgrimage (The Mountain), I've also found certain parts dull and uninteresting. And that's okay - just like any other history, there are periods and events that spark your interest more than others. Not liking certain chapters is not enough for me to knock off any points from this book. After all, it is not hard to admire Barnes' mastery.

This is literary fiction that is bursting at the seams with imagery, symbols and fabulous thoughts. However, it is also easy and fun to read, as well as highly entertaining and witty. Go read this book ASAP. Otherwise, you're really missing out.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop #1

Book Blogger Hop

I'm excited to be participating in this fabulous Hop for the very first time! This week's question is:

What are you reading now and why?

The book I am reading at the moment is Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games. The fact that I'm reading this book is a testimony to the power of book blogs - I would never pick it out based on its cover, nor would the blurb interest me enough. But people raved about it, so I decided to try it. And I am LOVING IT! I read about 100 pages last night and it kept me up until 3.30AM - after which I think I dreamed something scary from the novel. No, it's not for the faint of heart, but it's one of the best YA books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Make sure you pick it up ASAP!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

There is rarely a book that shakes the blogosphere as much as Hush, Hush did. Starting with the gorgeous cover, then followed by the information that the Edward Cullen of Fitzpatrick's universe is a fallen angel (!), it really does not come as a surprise that this book has done so well.

And now, after reading it, I cannot wait to get my hands on Crescendo, the sequel, not because I loved the book. Rather, it felt like a big trailer that helps establish the author's mythology before the story kicks in. And I am sorry to say, the story and the characters in Hush, Hush were paper-thin.

Nora Grey, the protagonist of Hush, Hush was one of the most idiotic characters I've recently read in YA fiction. If Hush, Hush were a horror movie, Nora would be the first one to grab a banana as a weapon and run upstairs instead of get out of the house. I felt like the majority of the book was spent on Nora contemplating how dangerous most of her options seem and then choosing on the most dangerous one. Usually, this would be attributed to the passion and electricity between her and Patch, the bad boy angel. Too bad I never felt this electricity myself. Nora didn't work for me at all and I would rather see Vee, her best friend and a far more intriguing character, as the protagonist.

On the other hand, Patch is one hot tamale. Although his mystery doesn't quite kick in until halfway into the book (the readers, unlike Nora, are aware of the book cover, which is a spoiler in itself), he is a bona fide bad boy. It was really refreshing to have a character like this - teen love is often insecure and scary, so it seemed fitting. I don't know anyone who had a Bella/Edward sort of relationship in their teens, unless they are suffering from the Benjamin Button syndrome. So, when it comes to Patch, I give a big thumbs up to Becca Fitzpatrick.

Finally, the story itself. It was definitely intriguing and creepy at times. It's a book you read in record time, and forget even faster. The whole guy in a ski mask mystery worked fabulously, but I had huge problems with the mythology of Fitzpatrick's universe. The whole angel hoopla was incredibly confusing for me and ultimately, I found that I didn't exactly care how the plot was going to turn out.

So, it's a mixed bag. I guess I am getting a bit too old for YA novels that are written without any other audience in mind. Hush, Hush was a nice diversion, but nothing else. I do believe Crescendo will be better - now that all the necessary introductions are over and done with, there is actually chance for a good plot to emerge. I hope.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Interview + Giveaway: Tina Donahue

Today, we welcome author Tina Donahue to Nikola's Book Blog to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Yearning! In the interview, we talk about ebooks, pet peeves and, believe it or not, privacy! Welcome, Tina!

You write for many different publishers - Kensington, Ellora's Cave, Samhain... Does this mean that you are an eclectic writer?

Never thought of myself that way. Although I write in many subgenres, I am a romance writer, first and foremost. And the reason I write for many publishers is because it’s the best way to get my work out to fans in a steady and quick fashion. With print publishing, the journey from contract to publication could take a year or longer. It’s faster with ebooks. Therefore, I always have something out for publication whether it’s print or digital.

Are there any romance cliches or stereotypes that bug you?

I guess my biggest peeve is misunderstandings, rather than complications, in plots. In every romance, it’s necessary to keep the hero/heroine apart (at least for a time) to build sexual tension. What’s keeping them apart should be a complication. For example, he’d hurt her deeply in the past and she’s afraid to trust him again, even though he said he’s changed. Or he lost his wife/girlfriend in a tragic accident that he feels responsible for (even though he’s not) and now he feels guilty for liking her, so he’s pulling back.

A misunderstanding, on the other hand, is something you or I would consider silly. Something that could be cleared up easily between the couple if they simply talked about it.

One of your earlier hit novels, Close to Perfect, uses tabloids and the paparazzi to drive the plot. Do you think a person's privacy has been compromised by the modern age?

Absolutely. And it’s gotten worse with social networking sites. It used to be that only celebrities and politicians had their most embarrassing moments broadcast for the world to see and comment on. Now, cyber-bullying is a reality for many teens. And adults may find photos of themselves on YouTube, Facebook, etc. without having given permission for those pictures to be used.

I love the sexy covers of your books. How did these come about? Did you have any input when it came to the visual representation of your stories?

My publishers have cover artists who come up with the wonderful art you see. For my ebooks, the publishers provide a cover art form, asking for the hero/heroine’s ages, physical descriptions, a brief synopsis of the story (to get its flavor) and what I, as the author, would most like to see on the cover.

Congratulations on releasing The Yearning! What's next for Tina Donahue?

I have another paranormal coming out in October. This one will be the start of a series, my very first. I’m also currently working on another contemporary erotic romance on the lines of Sensual Stranger, Lush Velvet Nights and Adored, my other works.

Since Tina is uber-cool, she has an awesome (international!) giveaway in store for all the readers. In order to celebrate the release of The Yearning, one lucky commenter will get to choose one of the following books:

1. Lush Velvet Nights (ebook)
2. Adored (ebook)
3. Deep, Dark, Delicious (ebook)
4. In His Arms (ebook)
5. Bad Boys with Red Roses (trade paperback)
6. Take My Breath Away (trade paperback)

Winners will be chosen at random. Winner in continental US has his/her choice of one of the six. Winner outside the continental US wins one of the ebooks. In order to enter, leave a comment with your email. 18+ only.

+2 for following my blog
+2 for tweeting about it (leave the link!)
+2 for linking to it
+4 for blogging about it
+4 for visiting Tina's site and coming back with
the cover you find sexiest!

The giveaway ends February 16th. Good luck!