Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book review: Love Virtually

Side note: A slightly edited version of this review originally appears on the women24 website, which you can find here.

Additional Note:
Not a YA novel, but I reckon that lovers of YA fiction will love this one as much as I did. Tons of YA reviews to follow after this. :)
Love Virtually
A modern, witty, comedy-of-errors look at just what happens when two people connect through a series of accidental email exchanges.

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer (Quercus)
Favourite quote from the book: "Write to me Emmi. Writing is like Kissing, but without lips. Writing is kissing with the mind."
It starts in an unexpected, but not completely uncommon manner.

Emmi, a happily married woman, sends a few e-mails to a subscription service with the intent of unsubscribing to a magazine.

By chance, these e-mails inadvertently somehow always manage to end up landing in Leo Leike's inbox.

And thus begins a daily exchange of conversation filled with witticisms, simmering romantic tension and the sharing of inner most longings between two people who are, in essence, virtual strangers to one another.

As with most people who meet online, the inevitable subject of meeting each other outside the virtual realm crops up. Will they meet? And if they do, what happens when the reality isn't as grand as the web-spun fantasy?

Is Emmi really prepared to risk her marriage? And what if Leo can't reconcile fantasy Emmi with real Emmi?

What happens then?

Many readers have said this, but if you're a fan of David Nicholls's work (particularly One Day, which happens to be one of my all-time favourite reads), then you will love this epistolary novel by Austrian author, Daniel Glattauer.

The entire book is written in e-mail format and is a fast-paced, witty and wonderfully relatable novel which was translated to English by Husband and wife duo Jamie Bulloch (Leo's voice) and katharina Bielenberg (Emmi).

I must confess I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book, but the easy, relaxed writing style (so reminiscent of what most of us would sound like on e-mail), won me over pretty quickly. 

Daniel Glattauer has a way with words and writes such fabulously snappy, clever dialogue that you can't help but wish that you were on the receiving end of any one of the e-mail responses conducted throughout the entire novel.

There's an immediate rapport between Emmi and Leo, who each, seem to try and outdo each other in the sharp, spunky, quick-witted comeback stakes.

That there's a virtual chemistry becomes apparent pretty quickly, but with that online attraction, comes a whole new set of emotional issues, jealousy, insecurities and harsh accusations which stems from the fact that the two of them haven't met face to face. 

Strangely enough, the roles seem to be reversed and Leo seems to be reluctant to meet, while Emmi, despite the fact that she's happily married (or so claims to be), is dead keen on meeting the face behind the E-mail based persona (Somehow, I've always thought that women are more reluctant to meet their online "friends").

I thought that Glattauer was pretty accurate in his portrayal of how easy it is to make assumptions when you're not face to face with someone and adeptly showcases how people become trapped in their own perception of what they think is being said as opposed to what they're reading.

He drives home the fact that reading people online is no easy feat and that what people perceive as being real, could be the opposite of what they've initially thought.

It's this that makes the characters so interesting.

Both are not without their flaws; Emmi especially tends to be abrasive and jealously possessive, while hypocritically enough, often refuses to open up about her family life. In fact, Emmi reminds me a lot of Emma from One Day, who was also not all that likeable.

Leo, on the other hand, is often restrained and selfishly persists in holding on the image of the fantasy Emmi that he's carved in his mind.

Yet, for all that, there's an inherent likability about both of them; two lost souls, who accidentally discovers what it means to be virtual soul mates. But how that translates itself into real life and whether they actually end up meeting is something you'll have to discover for yourself.

What I can say is that you should be prepared for a few unexpected twists and an unexpected ending that leaves room for a sequel, which I believe is already in the works.

It's a wonderfully addictive novel which can be read in one sitting, and which I believe will appeal to everyone who has ever tried and succeeded and tried and failed at the online dating game. 

You may probably end up inevitably feeling like you're invading the intensely private and intimate liaison between two illicit lovers, but don't let that stop you from reading what I consider to be one of the most cleverly written and incredibly romantic (despite the virtual settings) novels of this year so far.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book trailer: The Faerie Ring

To round up my previous post, here's the trailer for The Faerie Ring. Definitely very excited for this one as it's not only features one of my favourite supernatural beings, but it's also set in Victorian London - which is one of my favourite eras for a book to be set in.

Check it out below.

P.S. I'm sorry I haven't been catching up on comments lately - I'm rather busy at work (it's my book club newsletter week this week - you're more than welcome to sign up for it here, if you want) and only seem to have time to prep a post over the weekend and post it week nights.

I promise to get around to doing catch ups as soon as my time allows.

Author interview: Kiki Hamilton

Today I have the absolute pleasure of featuring Kiki Hamilton, author of debut novel, The Faerie Ring on my blog today.

Being a lover of all things fae, I immediately fell in love with The Faerie Ring when I first stumbled across it.

In today's post, Kiki answers a few of my questions and tells us what we as readers can expect from The Faerie Ring.

On to the Q & A:

Thanks for joining me on my blog today Kiki.

1. Describe The Faerie Ring in 5 words.

London, Faeries, Mystery, Romance, History

2. There are currently a host of YA reads dealing with vampires, werewolves, mermaids and ghosts. Why choose faeries?

I kind of felt like vampires had been done a million different ways, werewolves don’t interest me personally, mermaids are so limited and ghosts are a whole different sort of entity.

But I like the idea of another world existing side by side with the real world, and the world of Faerie exists in the same airspace, just in a different dimension – one that often intersects with our own world – which was perfect for the story I wanted to tell.

Plus, I grew up with the idea of faeries being these small little glittery things like Tinkerbell, and I loved turning that idea on its head and considering that they could motivated by greed and lust and revenge.

2.  Can you tell us a little about your road to publication?

I think it was pretty typical. I completely re-wrote my first book, like, THREE times, then revised it several more times after that. I’ve only ever had a handful of editors look at it, then I pulled it from submission because I felt like it still needed work.

So, that one is still waiting to be ‘fixed’. THE FAERIE RING was my second book and there were a couple of close calls before my agent sold it to Susan Chang of Tor Teen. That took about 9 months. However, from the time it sold to the time it releases will be two years.

3.  Your book is set in Victorian London. What made you decide to choose this setting and what kind of research did this entail?

I love Victorian London. It is a magical and mystical time in history with tremendous technological change but where people still believed in magic and mysticism. 

I also love stories about orphans and pickpockets. So – I wrote the story I wanted to read.
I had never been to London when I wrote the book.
To be honest, I knew NOTHING about the City when I first started writing. I did a lot of reading and research to get the historical details correct in the story. Liza Picard has a very informative book on that time period and there’s another book by Daniel Pool that was helpful.

After I had sold the book, I did get to go to London and walked in my character’s footsteps from Charing Cross to Buckingham Palace to St. James Park. Let me tell you – that was surreal!!

4.  What was the writing process like for you? Did you have a specific writing structure or plan that you adhered to?

I write in a linear fashion, which means I start at the beginning of the book and write straight through to the end.

I don’t write scenes out of order, but I do go back and forth adding details as necessary.  For THE FAERIE RING the story just sort of flowed out – I wrote the book in a very short amount of time.  Unfortunately, I don’t outline so I had to keep writing to find out what was going to happen next.

5. What can readers expect in terms of the world within The Faerie Ring?

The world in The Faerie Ring is very much embedded in London 1871. Most of the characters and the places are based on reality. I hope readers feel like they’ve gone back in time.

6.  The characters in the Faerie Ring sound absolutely fascinating- especially Tiki, who happens to be a pick pocket and an orphan living in an abandoned clockmaker's shop.  Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?

Well, I wish I had a great answer for that one. I started the story knowing I wanted to write about a girl pickpocket and Tiki just appeared.

I had her living in the abandoned clockmaker’s shop and as I was doing my research I found out that there actually had been a clockmaker’s shop in Charing Cross back in the 1860’s.

After Tiki had stolen the Queen’s ring I started wondering what would happen if somebody else wanted the ring.

Then Tiki told me what happened next. However, I have to say, Larkin is another of my favorite characters. That girl is complicated. :)

7.   Which of your characters are based most on people that you know?

None of my characters are based on anyone I know. There might be phrases or items pulled from real life, but the characters are wholly fictional, with the exception of the royals, who are based on Queen Victoria and her two youngest sons.

8.  The Faerie Ring is the first in series of four books. Did you know right from the start that there would be more than one book?

No, when I wrote The Faerie Ring it was just a story I was writing. I had no intention of making it a series.

But when I got to the end, I realized the story wasn’t over – it was just beginning. I’m not totally sure if the series will be three books, four books, or more – stay tuned!

9.  What do you think makes your book different to any other YA historical fantasy novel out there?

I hope the historical aspect will make my faerie book a bit different than some of the others out there. How the world of Faerie is tied in with real history.

10. And finally, what books would you recommend to lovers of faerie books?

I know I should be this fountain of information on YA books, but sadly I’m not. I only started reading and writing YA a few years ago with the publication of Harry Potter, so I’m always trying to catch up with all the great books out there.

However, I did read IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin and enjoyed that. THE HUNTER’S MOON by OR Melling is beautifully written and I’m sure everybody knows about THE WICKED LOVELY series by Melissa Marr. Julie Kagawa has a series on faeries too.

I just read the ARC of THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern, and while it’s not about faeries, it is about magic set at the turn of the century and it is beautifully written and totally takes you into another world.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions for me and for joining me on my blog today. I had a lot of fun coming up with the questions.

About the book:
The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London.

Their only means of survival is by picking pockets.

One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace.

With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be.

Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

For more information about Kiki, you can:
- Follow her on her blog
- Find her on twitter
- Visit her website
- Find her on Goodreads,

Finally, Kiki is also giving readers a chance to win an ARC of The Faerie Ring on Goodreads as well as on her blog, the details of which you can find here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book trailer spotlight: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I don't do book trailer spotlights very often (even though I adore them), but when I do, I usually try to make sure I'm featuring one that I haven't yet come across on the blogs.

Today's one is no exception - i stumbled upon Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and, without having read the synopsis, immediately fell in love with the gothically atmospheric trailer.

It's also one of the most beautifully produced book trailers I've seen to date and one which I think will definitely give this book a huge sales boost. Based on the trailer alone, I'm definitely going to be picking this one up. It's not necessarily a YA novel per say, but I think adults and teens will love both love this one.

Have you stumbled upon any new, interesting trailers lately? I'd love to see them, so please feel free to share your blog links below. 

In the meantime, check out the trailer and a synopsis teaser below.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

About the book (teaser synopsis):
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

I can't wait for this one...