August 28, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

This is a meme hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

Scariest place in the books

There is a bunch of scary places in the books, and I would be okay without stepping into any of them - Gaunt's house, the old Riddle house, the Forbidden Forest... Basically, anything related to Voldemort. Even the lake with its residents doesn't seem too appealing. Still, the scariest place has to be

The Forbidden Forest

Not only are there gigantic spiders, we also have pretty hostile centaurs and god knows what else even Hagrid may not know about. I wouldn't be too keen on the forest.

The Forbidden Forest, also known as Dark Forest borders the edges of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry grounds. As its name suggests, it is strictly off limits to students - except in the case of detention, or Care of Magical Creatures lessons that occasionally take place there. Of course, with the various dangerous creatures living in the Forest, few students would even want to venture into it. Black flowers are known to grow in the forest.

Sources: gif - text

August 27, 2014

'Mockingjay' Rebel Warriors Posters

Click to enlarge.

Author Spotlight: Bette Lee Crosby

Q & A with Bette Lee Crosby

1. What was the biggest inspiration/influence for the novel?
Cracks in the Sidewalk is based a true story, and I found the truth of what happened so heart-wrenching I knew I had to write about it. Claire, the grandmother in the story, was a friend of mine and a wealth of information.

2. How easy or hard was the writing process?
This particular novel was harder than most because of the level of emotion involved. I found that I was so in sync with the characters that I suffered through the things I knew they were feeling. The emotions in this book are at times beautiful and at times ugly, but they are always raw and open on the surface. Knowing the background as I did, it was the only way I could write the story.

3. How many discarded drafts and fixed pages happened before the final product?
It’s impossible to say. Each day when I start to write, I read what I have written the day before and in reading I also edit and smooth out the flow of words. Sometimes I will go back to re-read and re-edit 5 or 6 chapters before I move on. Until the day the manuscript goes out the door to my editor, it is still a work in progress.

4. How long did it take to get from the idea to the book?
I knew about this situation years before I even started to think about doing the book, but it was too sad a tale to tell. Only after the situation was resolved in a happy way, could I consider writing the story. From the time I started the story until it was completed was over a year.

5. Do you have any other ideas you’d like to put to paper.
I most certainly do. That’s how a writer’s mind works. Before I’ve finished one book, I’m already thinking about what I’ll write next. I’m happiest when I am working on a novel. And I have been very happy for the past ten years. My latest novel Passing Through Perfect is scheduled for release in January of 2015.

6. Your top five writers?
That’s a tough question. I like different writers for different reasons; some because of the beauty of their prose, some because of the way they create characters I can fall in love with and some because they open up a whole new world of ideas for me. That said, some of my favorites are:
1) Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of Pay it Forward) because her stories never fail to inspire me with their faith in mankind.
2) Harper Lee – because she wrote about the South the way it actually was, (although it’s hard to forgive her for penning To Kill A Mockingbird and then never writing another book.)
3) Erin Morgenstern (author of The Night Circus) for the sheer beauty of her prose
4) John Grisham because his books are the purest form of entertainment
5) The Brothers Grimm, for the wonderful fairy tales that as a child inspired me to think outside the box. 
About the book

A powerful story that is a heart-wrenching reminder of how fragile relationships can be. Cracks in the Sidewalk is based on a true story.

Claire McDermott is a wife, a mother, a grandmother... Her only daughter is gravely ill... Her son-in-law is resentful and angry... Her grandchildren are missing...

After years of writing letters, hoping to find the children, hoping to bring them back, Claire receives a reply...a dog-eared gray envelope is stuffed into her mailbox, but will it bring hope or simply put an end to the waiting?

Can a single letter change the lives of four people? Claire McDermott and her grandchildren are about to discover letters are a journey of the heart which can ultimately deliver people to their destination.

Reviews for Cracks in the Sidewalk

Reviewed By Samantha Rivera for Readers' Favorite
Elizabeth is a woman whose sole purpose in life is to be a good wife and mother. She has no care in the world but to accomplish these goals and she works hard at them despite the treatment she is given at the hands of her husband. When Elizabeth falls ill suddenly during her pregnancy with their last child, her husband determines to have nothing to do with her. Unfortunately that means her children (including her newborn son) will also have nothing to do with her. It's almost a year before Elizabeth is finally able to see her young children again, but even then things are not what they might seem in Cracks in the Sidewalk.

Cracks in the Sidewalk is the type of book that you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down. Elizabeth is a woman that any woman would be proud to be. She is able to roll with the punches and even when people behave in a reprehensible way towards her she is incapable of truly hating them and can only feel sorry for the love they don't have. Her plight is one no mother would ever want to find herself in, but at the same time it is one that will draw you in. This is a heart-wrenching story but it is also a beautiful one of love and devotion and forgiveness. For Elizabeth's children and her mother it is also a story of miracles and of overcoming any obstacle life may put in your way. An excellent book by Bette Lee Crosby.

A moving, emotional story...when I read this book I felt so moved, I was crying at the end...writing flowed beautifully...depth of characters and insight kept me turning pages. Bria Burton
A compelling story...Well written, with a realistic, compassionate telling, Cracks In the Sidewalk will bring readers into the family, happy to be a part of it.Angie Mangino

About the author
Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. "Storytelling is in my blood," Crosby laughingly admits, "My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write."

Crosby's work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since that, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President's Book Award Gold Medal and Reviewer's Choice Award and Reader's View Southeast Fiction Literary Award.

August 21, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

This is a meme hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

Free week: Favorite holiday in magical world

I am a little torn between Hallowe'en and Christmas. They both seem really magical, especially when you get to have them at Hogwarts or among other wizards in a magic-filled home, with magical treats and decorations as such. It must be an amazing, fun affair to have and I'd really love to experience it all.


Only because of the snow and trees and gifts and so on. I still think Hallowe'en is magical in itself, and has a different kind of appeal in the magical community, as its linked to witches and wizards. And it's also in Autumn which is my favorite time of the year. But Christmas has something else about it. I'm not religious myself and don't celebrate it for that; I love it for everything else it means - family, love, friendship, coziness. And of course gift. Duh.

Guest post: Casey Clubb + GIVEAWAY!

Today's guest post is written by Casey Clubb, author of Jacob, King of Portalia.

The Wonderful Gift Of Rejection

Many thanks to Ula for having me as a guest on her blog!

Writing Jacob, King of Portalia has been a powerful and humbling journey for me.
It started three years ago when I finished my manuscript and eagerly began querying agents.
I’d written a good story, one that I thought kids and parents would want to read.
But even so, for some reason, the agents I queried failed to express their undying gratitude to me for offering to send them my masterpiece.
Two years and dozens of rejections later, I tossed Jacob in a drawer and moved on.
I wrote more stories.
I attended more conferences.
And I read more articles on the art and craft of writing.
One day, I read a snippet of writing advice in Stocking Stuffers: 13 Writing Tips From Chuck Palahniuk that transformed my writing.
Tip number ten reads simply: “Write the book you want to read.”
At first I thought I’d misread the statement. I was supposed to write what other people wanted to read, right? Granted, It turns out that I’m a complete failure at mind reading, which admittedly makes it a bit of a challenge to know exactly what book someone else wants me to write.
So I thought about what stories I wanted to read.
One of those stories was about the struggles of a young gay man named Jake. Jake was a great character and I was looking forward to writing his story. But as I got to know him, I couldn’t ignore the fact that Jake seemed strangely familiar to me. Like an older version of another boy whose story I’d wanted to tell.
Every time I thought about Jake, I thought about the manuscript gathering dust in the drawer.
A year after I gave up on Jacob, I hauled the manuscript out and re-read it.
I realized that while I’d written a good story, I hadn’t written Jacob’s story. I’d written the story that I thought other people would want to read. Not the one that I wanted to read.
That’s when I knew that Jake’s story wasn’t the story I wanted to write. Because it wasn’t the book I wanted to read, Jacob’s was.
I’ve never been so grateful to have experienced so much rejection.
What if one of those more than fifty queries I’d sent out had resulted in Jacob getting published? I never would have had the opportunity to write it right.
Jacob, King of Portalia is a story about a boy who’s been hiding all of his life. He’s scared of his own shadow, scared to be who he is, yet he could save us all, if he can find the courage to come out of hiding and be true to himself.
I didn’t set out to write a story about a gay pre-teen boy. In fact, I was almost too chicken to do so. I mean, nobody wants to read a story about a boy who likes boys, right?
But Jacob’s story is the book I want to read.
When all is said and done, I am the only reader that any of my stories is ever guaranteed to have. I owe it to those stories to be true to them. I need to write the stories that I will want to read over and over again.
And so this is the story I’ve written—Jacob, King of Portalia—Jacob’s story.
About the book

Jacob is the only one who can protect us all from a vengeful lunatic.
But Jacob’s a tiny sixth grader who’s scared of his own shadow. And his only known talent
is hiding.
A misfit in his own home, a boy out of place in his own skin, Jacob has been hiding all his life—in his head, or behind his only friend.
His kind of different just isn’t accepted.
He thought hiding would keep him safe. But he was wrong.
For Jacob’s hiding has buried more than one truth, more than one secret. Including a destiny and a duty that are his to fulfill.
And a powerful talent. One that could doom his people.
Or save them...if he can find the courage to stop hiding from the thing that terrifies him the most—the truth about who he is:
A boy who likes boys.
A boy with a destiny foretold in an ancient legend.
A boy whose love could save us all.

About the author
Casey Clubb lives near Portland, Oregon with her husband and her ever-growing collection of stuffed Tiggers.

For news and updates on Book Two—Jacob, Portal Master, visit

Author Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Ruth from Booktrope Publishing has made it possible to give away Jacob, King of Portalia to FIVE lucky international winners! Thank you Booktrope Publishing!

5 e-copies of Jacob, King of Portalia (INT)

1. The Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL! (the book will be provided by the publisher directly to the winner via email on the day of release in September)
2. After the winners are announced, they will have 48 hours to respond or we draw another winner.
3. I reserve the right to disqualify anyone who breaks these rules.

Good luck!

August 20, 2014

Book review: Station Eleven

Thank you Sam and Picador Books for the ARC!

Goodreads synopsis

The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb.

News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.


Civilization has crumbled.


A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe.

But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.


Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan - warned about the flu just in time; Arthur's first wife Miranda; Arthur's oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed 'prophet'.

Thrilling, unique and deeply moving, this is a beautiful novel that asks questions about art and fame and about the relationships that sustain us through anything - even the end of the world.

This is a very unique book. It's an adult dystopia told around theatric group. Whaaaa? I know, but it's a good one! I was excited when Picador offered us 30 copies in a giveaway (totally the coolest people ever!) and when I got a copy in the mail, I started it soon. It was just calling to me to pick it up.
It's a very poetic story and I really enjoyed it for it. It's a dystopia (or rather more of a post-apocalyptic story), which means there's much less people alive, the world is in ruins, food is scarce, no electricity etc. It sounds horrible, like the end of the world. But Mandel did a great job portraying that. There are memories of the 'old' world, lovely descriptions of the new one, and it's all so magical. It's almost like an oxymoron, I know, a magical world in ruins, but it's true! The start of the novel is happening during a snowstorm, and the reader gets a feeling of world ending in a fairytale. It's... I cannot even explain but it's so pretty! There's night, snow's falling, it's all pretty and glittery, but people are dying, and the world will end in a few weeks. But you just can't feel too bad about it.
The story drew me in instantly. I wanted to know more about the world, the survivors, their coping. And it was lovely to see people still gathered around travelers and listened to music, appreciated Shakespeare... This book shows you that only when you lose something, you start cherishing it. It was full of things we now take for granted, but imagine the world ending, there being no running water, no power, no internet! You see the world totally differently.
Then when I though this is just going to be a pretty story about travelers, weird things start happening. People are disappearing, strange symbols can be found in places... What's going on? It's  a very engaging story and I had to read on, know more! It just grips you completely. There are twists and so many unexpected moments. Just when you think you know what's happening, bam, new information! It was mind-boggling but in a good way; I loved how it all came together towards the end, how the various characters connected around the one man from the start of the novel. Loved it!
I haven't read any adult dystopias before and it was such a relief there was actually dystopian elements, and no crappy sappy instalove. There was also beauty in ruin, and there was this slightly sinister feel to it all. Like a soft undertone of something scary going on. It was totally awesome. It wasn't really action-packed but still very engaging. It didn't need explosions and stuff to hold one's attention.
I adored the writing so much. It was pretty diverse, with past and present, memories and 'in the now' moments, with a whole bunch of characters... But it was all connected in the most unexpected ways, coming together slowly but surely, and it blew my mind.
All in all, I didn't expect this when I picked Station Eleven up. It's beautiful, magical, but also sort of real. I loved it. It's so different and unique, I absolutely recommend this.


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