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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A Might Dawn by Theodore Brun blog tour.

My book review for #AMightyDawn by Theodore Brun. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

A gripping and brilliantly realised debut epic adventure set in eighth-century Denmark. This is the beginning of an ambitious new series in the vein of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.

Whispers of sinister forces in the North pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

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 My Review of A Mighty Dawn

*I was luckily sent this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much to Kate asking me to participate.* 

I do not normally read this genre, or when I do it centres around Tudor England but I thoroughly enjoyed it and am now eager for more. 

I found this book to be riveting, captivating and not predicable in the slightest, which I loved. This is the first book that I have read about Eighth-Century Scandinavia which was both informative and educational.  I also have not read a lot about the Vikings, so I eagerly delved into the book with no preconceived ideas. 

This is the first book in what I hope will be a brilliant historical fiction series which I will definitely pick up in the future. *EX-CIT-ING…GIVE ME MORE NOW!* 

Within A Mighty Dawn, Brun effortlessly creates a complex world full of intriguing, well put together and compelling characters that will suck you in. While reading this novel, I was fully immersed within the world and at the mercy of Brun cleverly crafted narrative. 

Another part of A Might Dawn that I thoroughly enjoyed was the construction of the narrative. The novel is split in three parts, with each section showing a different side to Hakan aka Erlan (the protagonist). At the beginning of the novel, Hakan is the chosen son, then he goes on a journey of self discovery and finally we (the reader) see him under the ruling of a new king.

After tragedy strikes Hakan’s life, he abandons his old identity and instead takes on the new identity of Erlan. This journey of discovery is one that can be felt by all readers and the tragedy element makes it a page turning extravaganza. 

I do not want to give away any of the book but if you are a reader of historical fiction or fantasy, go check out this wonderful book. This book deserves all its recognition and much much more.

Release date for paperback: 4th January 2018 
Book extent:  608 pages
Publisher: Corvus Books (an imprint of Atlantic Books) 

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Author Bio:

Theo is an established author and public speaker. At Cambridge, he studied Dark Age archaeology (amongst other things), graduating with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History. After university he trained as a solicitor, qualifying into the area of arbitration law where he worked for several years, including for two Magic Circle firms. His career took him first to London, then to Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong.

However, in 2010, disenchanted with the law and with the germ of an idea for a series of novels already in his head, he quit his job in Hong Kong, jumped on a bicycle and pedalled 10,685 miles across Asia and Europe to his home in Norfolk. At this point he sat down in a spider-infested cottage to write the first volume in his epic historical fiction series, the Wanderer Chronicles. Four years later, A Mighty Dawn was published by Corvus Atlantic. Its sequel, A Sacred Storm, is due for release in July 2018.​

Theo is a third generation Viking immigrant, his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. One could say Viking stories are in his blood. They did also form a small part of his degree, but the truth is they only came alive for him through the discovery of Wagner’s Ring Cycle when he was studying for his law exams. Through this unlikely portal, Theo discovered the hoard of stories from the old Scandinavian and Germanic worlds which underlie many of the works of authors like Tolkein, CS Lewis, George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, Giles Kristian and Bernard Cornwell to name a few. It was this material that provided the inspiration for the first two novels in his Wanderer Chronicles series.

Besides writing, Theo is also an acclaimed speaker and has presented to a wide variety of audiences about his epic bike journey and about creative writing, as well as inspiring young people to dream big and pursue their passions.

Theo is married to Natasha. They live in London together with Natasha’s daughter, Ella, their baby girl, Talitha, and an unruly dog named Wilmo. 

For more information visit the below website:

Website – www.theodorebrun.com/home

Facebook – www.facebook.com/theodorebrunauthor/

Twitter –twitter.com/theodorebrun

 

 

 

Book Club Recommendations needed…

Hello lovelies,

I need some help. I need you to leave me some book recommendations in the comments below!!  Myself and my university friends are planing on starting a book club and I need some great book titles to suggest.

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What have you read recently?

Also don’t forget to go and check out my Instagram or ‘bookstagram’ over at book_captivation. 

What I have read in 2017 so far 👏🏻

Dissertation Books-

SOOOOOOO many research books for my dissertation, I am not going to bore you with all the titles though. It is like 76 or something now and I think don’t want to bombard you with trauma and gender theory. everywordiknow.gifUniversity Books- (books read for my course.)

  • Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
  • Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
  • Close Range by Annie Proulx
  • The Road Cormac McCarthy
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban giphyFun books-
  1. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  2. The Girl Before by J.P.Delaney
  3. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
  4. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  5. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

It makes me really really sad that I have only read five books for fun this year so far…ahhh…so annoying!

Do you have any book recommendations?? 

Oops (more books) 

I Was Here by Gayle Forman


When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated.

She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.


Lying About Last Summer by Sue Wallman 

 

Skye is looking for an escape from the reality of last summer when her sister died in a tragic accident. Her parents think that a camp for troubled teenagers might help her process her grief. All of the kids at the summer camp have lost someone close, but is bringing them together such a good idea? And can everyone at camp be trusted? When Skye starts receiving text messages from someone pretending to be her dead sister, she knows it’s time to confront the past. But what if the danger is right in front of her?

BOOK DELIVERY 📦 📚 

Buying books makes me so happy, legit reading just transports me to my happy place and I get soo much enjoyment out of browsing books. 

  

YAY BOOKS!!!! 

Hillow City by Ransom Riggs 

September 3,1940. Ten Peculiar Children Flee an army of deadly monsters. And only one person can then-but she’s trapped in the body of a bird. The extraordinary journey that begins in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved head-mistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around the corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safely, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience. 

Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher  

The next much-anticipated romantic chapter in Billy and Sophie’s love story from bestselling author Giovanna Fletcher.

Sophie’s got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of.
But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she’s totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy’s controlling mother.
And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there’s more than just miles between them.
Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not every love story lasts the distance . . .
Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King 

There is a treasure here for every reader: a man who keeps reliving exactly the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again; a columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries; a poignant tale about the end of the human race and a firework competition between neighbours which reaches an explosive climax. 

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave 

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.
When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.
But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself. 
What Light by Jay Asher  

Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 
Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable. 
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle 

This is a life told back to front.

This is a man who has lied all his life.
Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con? 
What has he had to do to survive a life of lies?

And who has had to pay the price?