Leave Your Mark – An Evening with Aliza Licht.

From superheroes to the DKNY PR girl, it’s been a busy week at More Books Than Shoes. This week I attended my very first author meet and greet at the Manchester Deansgate branch of Waterstones, a branch I love and adore, SO many books!! But I digress. My dear friend Jess knows that I’m slightly addicted to social media (especially Twitter, follow me @GinaAlanaLane) and also that I have my own blog (which you are now reading) so asked me to go along. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about Aliza Licht before I went other than what I’d learned from doing a few google and Twitter searches on her. She seemed to exhume confidence and power in her online presence so I was really intrigued by what Aliza had to say.

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I sat nervously in the front row, my hair all flyaway and flicking out here, there and everywhere due to the close humidity the day had blessed us with. My cheeks were flush, most of my makeup had melted off and it’s safe to say I wasn’t looking my best. I really didn’t feel too confident about sitting on the front row in front of a beautiful woman who has made a career out of successfully selling a brand. But when Aliza came to the front all my anxieties washed away. With a silent but strong confidence and disarming smile she introduced herself and talked about her career and I was instantly in awe.

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Aliza started using twitter for Donna Karan PR in 2009 when there was no other brand on Social Media, it was inspiring to hear her discuss how people’s lives have been changed thanks to social networking on websites like Twitter and even touched on how Twitter makes connections with people regardless of who they are and where they come from. But perhaps one of the most relatable things Aliza discussed was how similar people’s concerns and worries are. I think it’s increasingly easy in this day and age to think that your stress and work related issues are exclusive to you, but Aliza said that one of the main motivations behind the book was how people always seem to be asking for advice in relation to the same issues, the advice in the book will easily relate to all careers.

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Refreshing, inspiring, honest and uplifting, it was one of the best evening’s I’ve had in a while, and I know it seems silly to say but I really feel that she struck a chord with me, needless to say I bought a copy of the book and can’t wait to curl up with a cup of coffee at the weekend and get started on it. I’ll post a full review when I’m done.

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I can’t wait to leave my mark, can you?!

Happy reading fellow bookworms.

Georgina

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Superheroes, Sass & Mystery.

The First Death of August is the debut novella from Matt King. This is the first of many short stories that are connected to the Circle War series, which Matt is currently writing.

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I can’t quite remember how Matt came on my radar but I think we must have exchanged a couple of tweets for one reason or another and it wasn’t long before I started following him. On Twitter he’s funny and engaging and when he posted that his book was available on the Kindle, I just had to buy it. The thing that first struck me about ‘The First Death of August’ is how instantly likeable and mysterious August is, you don’t learn or find out much about his origin, which adds to the intrigue.

Before long it’s easy to see that August is a no nonsense guy, on a mission to track down the even more mysterious Gemini and stop their evil ways. There’s plenty of action involved in this first instalment as well as plenty of humour, and sass. It may seem odd to say this but girls are going to fall in love with August and guys are going to want to be him. The way he deals with the situations he finds himself in is effortlessly cool and he takes everything in his stride. Well written, perfectly balanced and ending with a cliff hanger, this will leave you wanting more.

Matt was kind enough to share some more information about the novel, the series as a whole and even tell us what’s he enjoying right now in the literary world with More Books Than Shoes. Here’s what he had to say.

August was a really intriguing character, but there wasn’t much mentioned about his origin, can you tell us more about that? I’m not a huge fan of superhero origin stories simply because the origins aren’t nearly as interesting to me as the characters and their actions as a hero. That being said, I included August’s origin in the first chapter of GODSEND. It’s short and sweet and totally doesn’t involve a lab disaster. You can check it out on my site: www.kingwrites.com

There was a lot of mystery surrounding the storyline and the character of Gemini, can you tell us what we can expect from that character? Gemini starts out as more of an urban legend. He’s a destructive force that’s never been seen. When you finally meet Gemini, you start to realize what drives him and maybe feel a little bit sorry for him. Not too sorry, though. He’s still a maniac.

One of the most interesting traits of August is that he can’t seem to be killed, what inspired this trait? August is so excited to be a hero, he flaunts his healing ability as though it’s something special. Among the other champions, healing is kind of a basic requirement. What August finds out later is that he’s easily the weakest of the people chosen to fight in the Circle War and that having the power to heal doesn’t mean much when your opponent can rip your head off.

In this first book August managed to get tied up with a snake and scared the town bully, can we expect more of the same thing? Oddly enough, there are more snakes in GODSEND. Not sure what that says about me. Maybe I just like limbless villains. He spends most of the book tracking down others like himself, though, which is a group pretty far above town bullies in terms of abilities.

There seemed to be a lack of female characters in the story, are there going to be any popping up? Definitely. Two of the central gods in the book are women, including the series villain. One of my favorite characters, Aeris, shows up as a co-main character of the second and third book.

Which novelists and books inspire you the most? My books are like a combination of traditional novels and comic books, so the people who influence me come from both fields too. I love Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, and Victoria Schwab, to name a few. As for books, some of my favorites are The Stand, To Kill A Mockingbird, Preacher, Bone, and The Lost World.

Can you tell us what the hardest process is for you when it comes to writing? What have been your bigger challenges? My biggest problem is that I’m a fairly slow writer. It takes a while for me to finish a novel. That’s mostly because I spend too much time editing as I go along, so in recent years I’ve tried to do less of that and concentrate on getting stuff completed, regardless of whether it’s the perfect sentence or not. That’s what revisions are for.

Is there any advice you could offer to people wanting to write their first book? Finish it. That’s the hardest part. The next hardest part is realizing that your first work may not sell. So many people quit the process early on because they get discouraged. Don’t let that happen. If your book doesn’t sell, keep writing. The only way you make it is to keep writing.

What’s the best book you have read this year? I’ve actually hit a bad patch as far as my reading goes. Too many DNFs lately. I’m really loving what I’ve read of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab, so I’ll go with that as my favorite so far.

Any final comments you’d like to share with the readers of the blog? Both THE FIRST DEATH OF AUGUST and THE TRIA are short stories connected to the Circle War series of superhero novels I’m writing. I hope to write at least one more before the first book comes out. The next one may center on the gods of the series. Or maybe it’ll have August fighting orangutans. Haven’t decided yet.

Well it’s certainly got me intrigued. You can check it out for yourself, the book is available on the Kindle from Amazon.co.uk for just 99p.

Happy Reading fellow book nerds!

Georgina

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Reading Challenge – A Book Based on a True Story

Book Number Thirteen – Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius with Megan Lloyd Davies.

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The first I ever heard of Martin Pistorius was on the NPR podcast. The story fascinated me and I instantly set about seeking the book. It took me a while to but I came across a copy in my local branch of Waterstones.

Ghost Boy follows Martin who was a healthy, normal little boy, then one day he suddenly becomes tired and starts sleeping all the time. Pretty soon he can’t talk or move, his feet and hands curl up and no matter where his parent’s take him the Dr’s don’t seem have an answer as to what his caused his condition. Now reading this you can empathise that this would definitely be upsetting for his parents, watching their child become so changed overnight but imagine for a second if everyone around you thought that you couldn’t understand what was happening to you? This was the case with the Martin.

People looked past him, beyond him and through him. They believed he was incapable of communication or understanding but he was incredibly aware. The novel tells Martin’s story of the frustration and battle he faced on a daily basis as he urged his brain to make his body work to his will. As well as for making an inspiring read this book also makes for an often painful one, as Martin recalls the times when he was mistreated, spoken down to and even sexually abused by those who were meant to support, protect and care for him. He also discusses how his condition impacted his mother and father and his siblings, this in itself can make tears prick the corner of your eyes.

Honest, inspiring and heart-breaking, this is a great book and one that will make you appreciate the simple things we take for granted in life like speech. Although an uplifting story, I feel that the latter chapters seemed to focus more on Joanna than Martin, and whilst I appreciate she gave him belief and strength, it also overshadowed all the hard work he put into getting his life back.

‘I wasn’t just a ghost boy. But no one looked’

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Star Rating out of 5: 4

Happy reading my fellow bookworms.

Georgina

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Reading Challenge 2015 – A Book With a Number In The Title

Book Number Twelve – Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel.

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This book has been on my radar for a while now, the first I read of it was in a Buzzfeed article that discussed the novels to look out for this year and I have to say they got it spot on.

It opens with famous actor Arthur Leander dying on stage during a performance of King Lear, that same night a deadly virus, known as the Georgia Flu, touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again. Anyone who contracts the ‘flu’ is usually hospitalised within a couple of hours and dies hours later.

Twenty years on and the novel picks up with the Travelling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors who travel the settlements of survivors and perform for them. When they stop off at a previously visited town, all does not seem right and pretty soon they come under threat. The novel flits between present day and the desolate world following the flu and the past, the years and days leading up to that fateful day when most of humanity was wiped out.

This is a really gripping novel, beautifully written with the paths of the characters being cleverly and expertly woven, I found it hard to put down. What was most noticeable though was how thought provoking it was, perhaps because it wasn’t a book that went with a zombie-esque style, which it could have easily done, but instead focused on the frailty of the human race when faced with a virus they can’t fight. I love authors who have the ability to take something painful or raw but write about it in such a poetic way, and for me that’s exactly what Emily did.

It makes you stop and think about the things we place value and dependence on, makes you appreciate even the smaller things we take for granted. Station Eleven is an intelligent page turner that balances tension, heartbreak and questions about the important things in life perfectly. One of the best books I’ve read all year.

‘Outside the world was ending and snow continued to fall.’

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Star Rating out of 5: 5

Happy reading my lovely bookworms.

Georgina

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