May Wrap-Up

Hello everyone, I knows it been ages since frequent blog posts but hopefully I am back now!! Yaaaaaaayyy. I have recently finished the teaching side to my MA in Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes and I am coming to the end of my one month stint in London working at publishing houses. I am so grateful to Biteback Publishing and Icon Books for taking me in and teaching me so much. If you have any questions about publishing/an MA in publishing or internships – drop me a message in the comments.

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Due to my daily commute into London for the last month I have had a lot of reading time.  Check out the books I have read in May below –

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  1. The Child by Fiona Barton
  2. The Read Peter by Peter Dudgeon
  3. Equal Power by Jo Swinson 
  4. Places I Stopped on the Way Home by Meg Fee
  5. The Art of Not Falling Apart by Christina Patterson
  6. This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
  7. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
  8. Post-Truth by James Ball
  9. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  10. Midnight Sun by Trish Cook
  11. (and I am currently reading) Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

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What have you been reading this month?

Guest Post: The Sheriff’s Catch by James Vella Bardon.

*Today’s post is by author James Vella Bardon. Thank you James for writing such a wonderful guest post for my blog. Readers, it would be fabulous if you could check the author out, watch his book trailer and ultimately – READ THE BOOK.  If you have read this book, let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you and I am sure James would also love to see your comments. *

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The Making Of The Sheriff’s Catch / Introducing James Vella-Bardon

I don’t think you can beat well-researched novels which are also fast-paced. It doesn’t matter if they’re in eBook format on your smart phone, leaving you to miss your train stop on your way home from work. Or if they’re paperbacks that you hide under your pillow with a small torch, so that you can read late past midnight long after the missus and kids are asleep.
There’s heaps of other people I know who love these breaknjeck page-turners which leave you too breathless to realise just how quickly you’ve read the story. Yet for some reason these sorts of books are so hard to find. I remember reading The Fellowship Of The Ring when I was ten and sick in bed. It was a magical week that I’ll never forget, in which my eyes were absolutely glued to the page while I read the chapter about the fellowship fleeing orcs and a flaming balrog in the Mines of Moria. Reading that chapter left me wondering: what if I could one day create the same levels of anticipation and exhilaration for other readers, all through written words on a page?
There have been other similar works which have also stirred great emotions inside me while also teaching me a lot about different periods in real human history. Henri Charriere’s Papillon was quite simply ‘crack on a page’ from cover to cover, not to mention the opening chapter of ‘Q’ by the band of Bologna-based writers who call themselves Luther Blissett (and subsequently Wu Ming). The first-person account of Gert from the well fleeing Catholic forces with the unconscious Anabaptist Thomas Muntzer was like something out of Mel Gibson’s Apocalytpo. Precious few novels have evoked the same exhilaration and burning curiousity, and in my case these have included Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Sharpe’s Tiger’, Perez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste series and more recently Tim Willocks’ ‘The Twelve Children Of Paris’.

What if I could write a whole novel with the same first-hand intensity? Something which you couldn’t put down, like ‘The Da Vinci Code’? But without the dryness of an airport read and without all the sagging, flouncy, hellishly boring bits usually contained in a Booker Prize-winning novel? And even better still: what if I could produce a series of books like that, with a story arc akin to those created by fantasy writers like Tolkien, David Eddings and Stephen Donaldson?

At the age of 25 I finished university and with my tertiary studies off my back, I instantly knew what I had to do. I was working in Brussels when I decided to try my hand at writing a fantasy epic, but I knew that the Dark Lord vs the forces of good theme had been done to death and was wearing a bit thin. Rehashing former fantasy series just wasn’t a stimulating enough venture for me. It was during that period of deliberation that I received a book called ‘Romegas’ by Carmel Testa as a birthday gift from my uncle Klaus in Malta. I was instantly drawn towards the stark differences in customs and traditions between the people of the 16th Century, and immediately decided that this world would be the canvas for my novel. But what sort of story should I write?

The key spark of inspiration occurred a couple of years later, shortly after I had emigrated to Sydney, Australia. I walked into a second hand bookstore and picked up a small historical nonfiction book by the Irish journalist T. P. Kilfeather, called ‘Ireland: Graveyard Of The Spanish Armada’. Spanish Armada in Ireland? What was this about? Yet I hardly started to read the first page, that I did not put the book down until I’d read it all. I bought it for three bucks and staggered out of the shop, feeling like I’d just been on the wildest rollercoaster ride I’d ever been on. Moria? Orcs? Papillon? The stories of the Spanish Armada castaways in Ireland ate all that up for breakfast!

I locked myself away in my studio flat, typing out my first twelve-chapter draft in less than a week, subsequently realising that the first draft required further rewriting and editing. I stuck to this project like a hound on the scent, editing and rewriting it again and again for years on end until I developed my voice. Extensive research was also carried out on this period of history, which was nearly as addictive as the writing itself!

And how couldn’t it be? The Spanish Armada shipwrecks in Ireland were a juncture at which three starkly different cultures met: counter-reformist Spaniards, reformist English and the late medieval Irish. There were just too many dramatic episodes to cover, from the preparation and voyage of the Spanish Armada itself, to the dramatic slaughter of Spanish castaways along the Irish beaches, with desperate ‘man on the run’ stories of those Spaniards who managed to elude the great bloodbath along the beaches.

As if this story was not amazing enough, nothing prepared me for the wonder and complexity of 16th Century Gaelic culture. We all too often forget that Ireland was the last European country to be influenced by Rome, so that a sophisticated Gaelic culture of law and bardic tradition had blossomed there, with women having the exact same rights of men and there being no concept of a bonus paterfamilias. I was also taken aback by the sheer beauty of the countryside when I visited Sligo Town and surrounds in Western Ireland to undertake further research on the novel back in October 2012. This was just too much mind-blowing material to be left untouched by fiction, and before I knew it I had penned a staggeringly long novel in five parts. I subsequently divided this into a five-part series called The Sassana Stone Pentalogy.

The first instalment is called ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’ and was published by leading British crowdfunding publisher Unbound on 15 March 2018. The required crowdfunding figure of 4000 pounds was raised in less than six days, even though the campaign was expected to last three months! A number of other highs were to follow. My publisher Unbound got me to work on the manuscript with structural editor and talented novelist CM Taylor, as well as experienced copy-editor Andrew Chapman. There followed work with award-winning cover designer Mark Ecob, before the novel was serialised on international online book club The Pigeonhole. To my disbelief, this book club was previously used by Ken Follett to promote his sequel to ‘The Pillars Of The Earth’, called ‘A Column Of Fire.’

I was walking on air as the comments from 250 readers about my debut novel came through on The Pigeonhole, with a few of them kindly also posting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. My nine years of backbreaking rewriting and research had already paid off, with a large number of readers greatly warming to my anti-hero protagonist and deadly marksman Abel de Santiago, also known as ‘The Lynx of Haarlem’, not to mention the gutsy tragic heroines Elsien Van Der Molen and Muireann Mac An Bhaird. And as if that wasn’t enough, I received a call from Tim Willocks’ (and Ken Follett’s former) literary agent Mr Albert Zuckerman last month which was the absolute cherry on the cake! Mr Zuckerman kindly invited me to his hotel to discuss my novel for close to an hour, which was quite simply unbelievable. Yet more unbelievable news was to follow earlier this month, when a novel trailer I created was nominated in the ‘best trailer for a novel or book’ category at the Golden Trailer Awards to be held in Los Angeles on 31 May 2018!

Watch the trailer below:

The product of a long lonely nine-year slog has so far met with a really good reception, and I cannot wait for what’s next around the corner. And for those readers who have loved ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’ (and you only need to check my Goodreads and Amazon pages to discover what the feedback has been to date), the good news for my growing following of readers is that the draft manuscripts for four other sequels have already been penned, which altogether will make up ‘The Sassana Stone Pentalogy’. I can’t wait to get stuck into the editing of the next instalment: ‘A REBEL NORTH’.

 So what are you waiting for?

Jump on Goodreads and have a look at the reader reviews, then hop on Amazon and read the ‘Look Inside’ free excerpt of The Sheriff’s Catch, and find out for yourself just how hard it is to put down! And if you love it, well, then strap on your seatbelt and buy the whole thing, as you embark upon one of the literary thrills of your life!

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James Vella-Bardon

James was born and raised in Malta, an island nation steeped in the millennia of history. As a boy he often caught a rickety old bus to the capital of Valletta, where he would hover around the English bookshops to check out the latest titles in fiction.

Growing up he was an avid reader and a relentless day-dreamer, with his standout subject at school being English composition. He also won a couple of national essay competitions. Although he spent seven years studying and obtaining a doctor of laws degree, this did not cure him of his urge to write stories. So after emigrating to Sydney in 2007 he resolved to have a proper stab at writing his first novel.

The result of this decision is an epic, sprawling five-part historical fiction series called The Sassana Stone Pentalogy. It is the product of nine years of intense rewriting and research, and tells the story of a Spanish Armada survivor who is shipwrecked in Ireland.

The first instalment in the series is a rip-roaring, myth-busting page-turner called The Sheriff’s Catch. Its anti-hero protagonist Abel de Santiago is an Armada survivor who finds himself on the run across Connacht, whilst being pursued by English troopers who want him tortured and killed.

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2018 reading so far…

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  1. An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire.
  2. Devotions by Mary Oliver.
  3. A Mighty Dawn by Theodore Brun.
  4. Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons.
  5. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
  6. Idiot Verse by Keaton Henson.
  7. You Do You by Sarah Knight.
  8. The Tinder Box by Hans Christian Andersen.
  9. Everything Wrong with You is Beautiful by Tina Sederholm.
  10. Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong.
  11. The Suffragettes by various writers.
  12. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen.
  13. The Beautiful Casandra by Jane Austen.
  14. To Be Read at Dusk by Charles Dickens.

 

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What have you guys been reading this year so far?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Quotes.

If you know me personally or have been following this blog for a while, you will know I am a sucker for a good quote. I am that friend that has loads of motivational plaques in her bedroom! Oh huns, if you need some cheering up or some inspiration…just pop to my bedroom and read a few quotes. *Maybe I should create a motivation museum.* 

Anywho, back on track… it has been AGES since I did one of these posts but I love them so I am making an effort this week (and maybe, just slightly I am procrastinating from uni work but shhhh…)

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1.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

‘We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.’

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2.

On the Road by Jack  Kerouac

‘The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.’

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3.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 

‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’

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4.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr.Seuss 

‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where you go…’

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5.

Wide Awake by David Levithan

‘Do not just seek happiness for yourself. Seek happiness for all. Through kindness. Through mercy.’

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6.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green 

‘I just want you to be happy. If that’s with me or with someone else or with nobody. I just want you to be happy.’

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7.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

‘There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.’

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8.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

‘Push yourself. Don’t Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.’

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9.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 

‘I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.’

 

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10.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

‘I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.’

 

 

Prosecco and Promises by A.L.Michael Blog Tour.

Title: Prosecco and Promises

Author Name: A. L. Michael

Previous Books: Cocktails and Dreams

 Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Release Date: 12th February 2018

 Publisher: Canelo

Cover Image:

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Book Blurb:

Meet Mia: an unforgettable heroine learning the meaning of life and love on a beautiful Italian island. Perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Lindsey Kelk and Lucy Vine.

Mia’s dad has always been her idol. Now, she faces losing him and he is insisting that she leave England to visit her mother’s family on the Italian island of Ischia.

Arriving on the island, Mia is embraced by the warm, crazy relatives she hardly knows. Despite her doubts about the trip, it is in Italy that Mia discovers connections to a part of her life that’s been missing, and during the sun-soaked days and steamy nights Mia falls for handsome local Salvatore. But as the day of her departure draws nearer can she risk having her heart broken twice in one summer?

If you love Prosecco and Promises, why not read more about Mia’s best friend Savvy in Cocktails and Dreams? Out now!

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:
A.L. Michael
is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of 10 novels. Her most recent collection of books, The Martini Club Series, started with Cocktails and Dreams, to be followed by Prosecco and Promises, and Martinis and Memories. She likes to write about difficult women. Well, they say to write what you know. Andi works as a Content Writer, as well as a therapeutic facilitator. She has a bunch of degrees in stuff to do with writing, and wrote her MSc dissertation on the power of creative writing in eating disorder recovery. She truly believes stories can change your life.

Author Photo:

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Author Social Media Links

Twitter: @AlMichael_

Facebook: A.L. Michael 

Website: A. L. Michael

THESE BOOKS CHANGED MY LIFE

A not so secret fact about myself is that I am a sucker for emotional narratives. It feels like a good book when my heart is penetrated by emotion and I am left paralysed by long lasting thoughts. Anyone else feel this?

So I thought I would write a post today about the books that did just that and more… evidently I love a bit of sadness and romance.

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. tumblr_nbqeo7YtmY1t0h4iro1_500.gif
  2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes tumblr_o2wzo4siN61tvwtbwo2_540.gif
  3. After You by Jojo Moyes 565460tumblrinlinen9lux5wo6V1si5usg.gif
  4. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult tumblr_munj4dk3xT1skktn6o1_500.gif
  5. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher 1.gif
  6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak tumblr_n3qqikAkad1s51xako3_500.gif
  7. The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood 997d2901a513e94d5e60cfcb0d2d6fc3.gif
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 2.gif
  9. Atonement by Ian Mcewan tumblr_lmv3l9v2NR1qzeiyio1_500.gif
  10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 91220636d-cc0c-4f49-b8ba-bfaa5d71d317.gif

Lucky for me 9 out of 10 of these books are films (which also BROKE ME and my poor little heart). Come on After You I am here and waiting for a movie version. I need visual closure as well. Each one of these books absolutely ripped my heart out and made me cry pools and pools of tears. I probably could have filled a swimming pool of tear after these books.

  • Have you read these wonderful books or seen the films?
  • I live by the fact that you have to read the book first but it is okay if you have not…lets chat.
  • What books broke you?
  • Can you recommend any books for me based on these books?

Gryffindor Book Recommendations…

Hello lovelies,

I am finally uploading this after it being in my draft box for ages…forgive me. I have previously done Ravenclaw , so if you want to read it – click here.

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Traits

  • Bravery
  • Nerve
  • Chivalry
  • Courage
  • Daring

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So, without further ado these are my book recommendation for those Harry Potter fans who think they are in Gryffindor.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman. 

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The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon 

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. 

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. 

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

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