Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Ship Blog Tour: In Praise of Libraries by Antonia Honeywell

I'm so pleased to have Antonia Honeywell, author of dystopian novel, The Ship with me on the blog today. I have worked for my local library service for almost 12 years and couldn't imagine a better a job than being surrounded by books all day. With my job in mind Antonia has written about the impact libraries have had on her and ultimately her writing.

Over to you Antonia

I can’t talk about imagining and writing The Ship without talking about libraries. Libraries have shaped me as a reader and as a writer, and the many and various cuts that have been imposed on our library services make me want to weep. I was a reader before I was a writer, and my love of books started at a small library in the village where I grew up. We went there once a week. I had my own ticket, and I was allowed to take out six books at a time. My mum was allowed twelve (imagine that! Twelve! How old do I have to be before I can have twelve books?  Older than you are now…) She claimed this was fair, as she had to use her ticket to take out books for my little sister. But my little sister just used to eat them, which felt like a waste of good book space to me (she’s a university lecturer now, so eating books was clearly a better idea than I’d thought).

The wonderful thing about the library was that I could choose the books I wanted. I had a thing about Thomas the Tank Engine for a while. Mum hated those books, but she couldn’t stop me trotting home with six at a time until I’d read them all. I discovered My Naughty Little Sister, Pippi Longstocking and Clever Polly, strong girls and rebels long before Katniss Everdeen came on the scene. We had the Puffin Book Club in those days too, and I was allowed to choose one book each month from the leaflet. But those books cost money, so my parents had to approve. At the library I could choose anything. I was still taking out picture books long after I’d started Junior school.

At thirteen, I was wrenched away from the village and its lovely librarian who, as I got older, turned a blind eye when I snuck out with Mills and Boon and the irresistible novels of Virginia Andrews at the bottom of my school bag. It took me time to adjust to my new school, although I got there in the end, learning to smoke and introducing that passage of Lace to my English class. The school library there saved my life. So did the one in the school I moved to after that. There’s no limit to the amount of time you can hide in a library, and the school librarian never makes you leave at the same time as everyone else. The house my mum, sister and I ended up in was near another library. I used to do my homework there whilst my sister devoured Jeffy the Burglar’s Cat and the novels of Enid Blyton in the children’s corner.

It’s the sheer promiscuity of the library reading experience that helped shape me as a writer. Teachers and librarians ushered me towards the classics – I discovered the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen and Charles Dickens through the library. But no teacher would have ever ushered a thirteen year old to Norman Mailer, or Shirley Conran, or Jilly Cooper. I devoured pulp fiction for the sheer joy of its predictability. Library books still had date stamps in those days and I’d search out the book which had been left on the shelf for the longest time, take it home and read it (that’s how I discovered Georgette Heyer). The books were my friends, my escape – and, as it turned out, my future.

The ship, of course, has a library in it. It’s a digital library, containing so many books that no one will ever be able to read them all. But it’s sterile. It has none of the joyous chaos that informed my library reading. Nothing new will ever be added to it; no elderly edition of an out-of-print romance will ever be found on its shelves. And there’s nothing to hold, no pages to be turned, no book-dust to be disturbed. Like the Ship itself, it’s a carefully curated, sterile experience. Long live libraries – their vibrancy, their all-encompassing welcome and their fertile shelves.

And long live all who work in them, too. It’s been a privilege to bring my library soapbox to your blog, Sam. Thank you for having me. 

For those of you local to the west of London/Middlesex area then Antonia will be visiting Hillingdon Libraries to talk about The Ship and more on Wednesday 27th April. Full details can be found here


Friday, 18 March 2016

Review: Talon by Sybil Bartel inc giveway

Talon by Sybil Bartel
(Uncompromising Series, #1) 

Publication date: March 1st 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance

The Blurb

I surf.
I fuck.
I pretend to smile.

Two years ago my life was perfect, until it wasn’t. I scattered my wife’s ashes then walked away from the Marines. I didn’t think I had anything else to lose.

I was wrong.

The blond showed up at my surf shop, beaten and stabbed. I did what I was trained to do—I stitched her up. I didn’t have a clue who she was and I told myself I didn’t care. Until they came looking for her.

I swore I’d take my last breath before I let anyone else hurt her except I didn’t know she was keeping a deadly secret. Now I had two choices, her life or mine.

Marriage and combat taught me the same thing—I was no one’s hero. And I was about to prove it.

My Thoughts

Sybil Bartel became one of my favourite authors when I read book one of her Unchecked series, that series looked at the story Blaze Johnson and Layna Blair but the real draw of those books for me was Talon. There was just something about him that had me hooked, that's why when I jumped at the opportunity to be part of Sybil's blog tour for the first book in her Uncompromising series, Talon. Check out the other stops on the blog tour over at Xpresso Book Tours

I must admit that I was a little apprehensive about reading Talon's story, I was still secretly hoping that him and Layna would end up together but I really needed to read more about him and where his future would take him.

We learned from the Unchecked series that Talon is a real ladies man, a love them and leave them type of guy who doesn't care who he hurts. The truth is that Talon was in love once but it ended in tragedy and he has been running from love ever since. But then Nicole walks into his life battered and bruised by her boyfriend and in need of a hero, Talon being an ex-army medic can be the hero that she is looking for. Unfortunately things aren't going to run smoothly and Talon finds himself involved way over his head with a ruthless biker gang. Just how far is Talon prepared to go to protect this woman?

Talon while a follow on from the story of Layna and Blaze can be totally read as as standalone. Sybil brings back some of the characters that we met in the previous two books as well has her brilliant storytelling skills. 

I loved this book and it was so good to see properly the much softer side of Talon that we had seen glimmers of in his relationship with Layna. I will admit to not being too sure on Nicole when she was first introduced but that as Sybil built her character and we learn what has happened to her I really started to feel the connection between Nicole & Talon.

Talon is a fab read that you can lose yourself in for a few hours - it's packed with action, suspense and the right amount of heat. I definitely recommend giving it a try & see if you end up being on Team Talon just like me.

About The Author

Sybil Bartel grew up in Northern California with her head in a book and her feet in the sand. She dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew her into the world of storytelling. She loves the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes her swoon.

Sybil now resides in Southern Florida and while she doesn’t get to read as much as she likes, she still buries her toes in the sand. If she isn’t writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in her backyard, you can find her spending time with her handsomely tattooed husband, her brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you probably really want to know about Sybil.

She grew up a faculty brat. She can swear like a sailor. She loves men in uniform. She hates being told what to do. She can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks her out. Her favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—she can’t decide. She has a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on her for driving directions, ever. And she has a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell her husband.

To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), visit her website, like her on Facebook or join her Facebook group Book Boyfriend Heroes for exclusive excerpts and giveaways.

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)

  • $25 Amazon gift card

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