Currently Reading

Currently reading: Vulture by Bex Hogan.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Cover art released for Kingdom of the Wicked

HarperCollins are gearing up for the publication, this Summer, of the seventh book in Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant series. Kingdom of the Wicked is out on 30th August, and the cover art has just been unveiled! Check it out!

Thursday 24 May 2012

Geekhood Blog Tour!

I am very honoured today to welcome Andy Robb to Empire of Books today! He's the author of the brilliantly funny Geekhood, and today he tells us about how he became an author!


The A, B and C of Becoming an Author… The Andy Robb way!

Here I am, all nervous and sweaty on the eve of National Geek Pride Day, trying not to think about the impending Launch of my book, Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind. Which happens tonight. Geekhood entered its final journey to becoming a real, live book about a year ago and it kind of got me thinking about the journey that has got me to this nervous, sweaty – but excited – place.

When you do Showing Off for a living, you have to take on other jobs, because Madame Showbiz can be fickle with her affections. One of the jobs I was doing, to fill the lengthening gaps between acting jobs, was working as an on-set film-caterer. A guy I know runs a Craft Services outfit – which is a posh way of saying ‘caterer.’ Having said that, the difference is that, while the caterers cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole crew, the Craft Services bunch are open all day, providing food and drink for anyone who’s missed those meals or is just a bit hungry. But, you also get to cook for the grown-ups: the producers, the director and the lead actors (Jennifer Anniston has eaten my Ginger Muffins).

We were working on the set of a film called Sunshine and there was a guy who kept coming to our kitchen for snacks and buckets of coffee. We liked to serve up food with a difference and I was making chilli bread one day and this chap commented on the chillies we were using and said he’d bring in a smoked habanero the next day. Whoever this mysterious man was, he knew his chillies and was obviously important, because there were always people hanging off him.

The next day, he brought his chilli in and we chatted about how to use it (it ended up going in a dessert). As he walked away, I turned to the head chef and asked who he was.
“That’s Alex Garland. He wrote the film.”

Alex Garland. Who also wrote The Beach and The Tesseract. I’d been writing for a while, as a personal challenge more than anything else. Mostly, I’d been trying my hand at TV treatments and had a meeting coming up with Disney about a proposal (I know! Disney!).

Now, I’ve done that thing where you see someone in the street who’s off the telly or who you think is cool and walked past them, cursing yourself for not being brave enough to say something. But here was a big, fat, literary opportunity staring me in the face: I had an ‘in’ with the Disney thing and decided to ask his advice.
I think I gabbled a lot, through nerves. I was also aware that Alex has a bit of reputation for being ‘private’. ‘Private’ is the word they seem to use in literary circles. In Showbiz circles, it’s known as ‘grumpy’. 

Thankfully, Alex was neither: he listened and made a few constructive comments about dealing with big companies and then we started chatting about other writing and I mentioned I was working on a book.

“Don’t tell me about it,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Because all writers are thieves. The more I know about it, the more I’m likely to absorb some of it and use it in a book of my own. I won’t mean to – but that’s what’ll happen.”
“Oh. OK.”

But, Mr I’m-Not-Grumpy-Really Garland said, if I put a one-page pitch together and showed it to me, he’d have a look. So I did. And, the next day, he gave it the once-over.

“OK. I’ll send this to my agent.”


And he did. I waited a while and then got a call from Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg’s asking to see more chapters. So I sent them. After another while, I got a phone-call, asking if I’d like to go for a meeting. I don’t remember much about that meeting, other than I was in Babble Mode; I do remember telling them that I still read The Beano and kicking myself as I did it. But, it worked. A few days later, I got a call from Jenny offering to represent me and suddenly I was a writer with an agent.

I’m fully aware that it takes some people a long time to get agented; a lot of struggle and heartache. I have been impossibly lucky in my situation; I wasn’t actively pursuing a writing career and things just sort of fell into my lap. But, because of that, I am approaching it with a Very Serious head on: I don’t want to appear devil-may-care about the whole thing, because that would be insulting to everyone who’s still chipping away at the cliff-face.

Geekhood got its act together at the end of 2010. After a few nips and tucks, it ended up on Stripes’ desk in March 2011. A year later, I’m staring down the barrel of a Launch Party and in the throes of winding up Geekhood 2.

On the final day of Sunshine, I saw Alex again and told him I was now with his agent. He was happy, but in a hurry. “What’s your book going to be called?” he asked. I didn’t know. “Well, when you do – let me know and I’ll buy a copy.”

I did and I have this ridiculous little vision of The Great Alex Garland going into a bookshop and asking for my humble offering. Now that’s cool.

I don’t know what reputation I’ve got or am going to get as a writer but, even if I’m known as Grumpy Andy Robb, it’d be nice to think that, if someone

decides to roll the dice and stop me for a chat, I might be able to do something, like Alex did for me.
But, I warn you: I babble a lot.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Letterbox Love #1

So there's been a lot of drama lately in the blogging world regarding plagiarism, and a certain blog (perhaps the biggest and most popular around, right?) was right at the centre of it. And as a result, their meme, In My Mailbox, is attracting a lot of negativity right now. I'll be honest, I love that feature as it was the way I used to learn about new books. I think it was one of the first posts I ever read from the book blogging world (over on Wondrous Reads, actually) and I liked making those posts as I hope other people learn about books that I have too so they too can share the book love and read just as I want to when I visit other peoples blogs. 

I didn't want to stop doing In My Mailbox (I changed mine slightly to Postbox... we're in England...) but at the same time wasn't sure about continuing, and it has been a little while since I've done one so I've got a bit of catching up to do. Well, no worries. As some UK based bloggers have created a new meme. Letterbox Love. In principle it's the same, but there's only love!

Now as I said, it has been a while since I made a post like this, so there may be some books lurking in the dark, deep corners of my bedroom, or somewhere else in the house that I've missed, I've done my best though! If I do find any that I have missed, I'll put them aside for the next Letterbox Love post! Would like to say before I start, a massive thank you to all the publishers who send me the books. Cannot express how truly grateful I am to be part of this blogging community!


After the Snow by S.D. Crockett.
The Last Echo by Kimberley Derting.
Insignia by S.J.Kincaid.
Twilight Robbery by Frances Hardinge.
Partials by Dan Wells.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.
The Enchantress by Michael Scott.
The Adjusters by Andrew Taylor.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.
Dying To Know You by Aiden Chambers.
1.4 by Mike Lancaster.

Unrest by Michelle Harrison (So excited for this! Reading it now actually. So creepy!)
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore.
Another Life by Keren David (EEEEEPPPPP!! So excited about this!)
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (read it. loved it. reviewed it here...)

I'm also, quoted on the back of The Power of Six in paperback. How cool is that?! :D Done a little jig when I found out. Being quoted on books is awesome, especially books you feel so passionate about, so thanks to Penguin for quoting me! (That is actually the adult edition... I wonder if it's the same on the YA edition? Hmm...)

So that's all for this week. Would just like to give a shout out to all the publishers! Puffin/Penguin, HarperCollins, Random House, Hot Key Books, Egmont, Macmillan, Headline, Simon and Schuster and Frances Lincoln! You guys rock!

Happy reading and see you soon!

(P.S. Would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who visits this blog. It hit 100,000 views since it started in March 2010, overnight and I am so chuffed about this. Really made my day! :D)

Saturday 5 May 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth [Review]

WARNING!!!! Insurgent is a sequel, and I can't talk about it without talking about key points of the first book, Divergent, so if you haven't yet read it, please do not read this review or the spoilers contained within!! There may also be some spoilers for Insurgent, as it's so tightly woven it's hard not to... But I'll try my best!

Written by: Veronica Roth.
Published by: Harper Collins.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 1st May 2012.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature."

Flash back twelve months, and the bloggosphere was a-buzz with word of a d├ębut novel from some woman called Veronica Roth. It was called Divergent, and it came in riding the wave of distopian fiction that has been steadily increasing after the success of The Hunger Games. But... Divergent wasn't, and isn't, like those other books that just ride the wave. Divergent was the one that broke the wave and brought it crashing to shore with a smash.

Fast forward to today, and now it's time for Insurgent to crest the wave and smash into all of our lives.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here. You need to read this book. It's not a case of "you probably should... it's good you know," it's a case of you simply must! No two ways about it. 

Tris' life is in even more danger than before. She, along with Tobias (Four), her brother Caleb, and Tobias' estranged father Marcus, have barely escaped the city with their lives. Erudite are everywhere, with their mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers, they are on a mission to hunt down the Divergent rebels, and they will stop at nothing.

I really only have one grievance with Insurgent. For me, it's as near to perfection as a book can get, especially a sequel, a second book, the middle of the trilogy no doubt, which is always tricky territory. I had wondered whether Veronica would be able to do it again. And while she has, there is one part of the overall plot that's bugging me a little bit. It is quite spoilery... so I have changed the colour of the text, so if you've read the book you can just highlight it and read, otherwise, if you want to read it regardless, you can just highlight it anyway... So many Divergents! Yeah, I know there have been several over history within the world the books are set in. But it kind of annoys me that here's Tris, this girl who has to hide because of what she is, because the way in which her brain works, and then... ooh... here's another Divergent. And another. And another. And another. I just... I don't know. For me, it kind of detracts from the whole "we need a hero" feel. We need a leader, someone who leads us through the plot, into the pending mass revolution, the final battle and I don't really get that feel any more. I kind of feel like that aspect of the book, of having the protagonist has kind of been taken away. And while it may sound major, for me it's not. It's just annoying really!

Regardless of that though, Insurgent truly is a beauty of a book. The writing is taut and rich, the prose engaging, and the characters just as flawed and real as loveable as ever. Tobias is my favourite I think. He's so complex and you can never really get a true hold of him, which is something I like in a character. We all love a bit of mystery right? I love when authors have a true ability to make you care about the characters, and it's something that Roth seems to have down to a tee! I don't just care about these characters, I love them! So much so that at times I was nearly pulling out my hair in frustration (at their actions...), feeling for them in their grief (we're at war folks, and people are going to die...) and grieving for them. I actually liken reading this book in particular to my reading experience of Mockingjay. Both in terms of character and of plot. We are at war, and war is exhausting. Reading Mockingjay was an emotionally exhausting experience, one I have re-encountered with Insurgent. And while people may say "but Ryan, why read a book that makes you feel miserable?" Well... because while it does get me down a little, they are so well written and just so beautiful in the whole. A good book does leave a mark on you, regardless of what it's about, and boy does  Insugent hit the mark and stay there!

Plot wise, despite my earlier point, the book is incredibly strong. The whole faction aspect is even more ingenious when looked at now, after Insurgent. The way they all interact with one another, they way they think of one another. Erudite in particular. Whilst I am part of Team Erudite UK for the release of the book, I will say I would like a transfer! They really are not nice! Ha. 

Only downside apart from my earlier point is the cover. I'm not going to lie, I really do not like the new UK look for the books. I just don't. They're nice, but they're not right. To be honest, I'm glad I read Divergent before the cover was released. I'm not one for judging a book by its cover, I don't agree with it. But the new covers make it look chic-flic gone futuristic, and it just doesn't suit these books. The US covers though... Spot. On. Hence why I have ordered a copy from America which I cannot wait to have in my possession. Whilst the UK cover is better in person, I'll give it that, it's just still not right. I am hoping, and praying that Haper Collins might just change the cover back, I doubt they will but a guy can hope right?

I'm going to close this review off now, it's already over 920 words long... Oops! I, quite simply, cannot wait for the third and final book (which I want, for some odd reason, to be called Convergent!! Don't ask why... just seems like it'd fit). I get the feeling that bigger things are to come and I cannot begin to imagine what can happen after the events in Insurgent. A knowledge long hidden has been released, and the consequences may be dire. One thing is for sure, the next twelve months need to hurry up and fast forward!

My thanks to the lovely Rosi at Harper Collins for my review copy. You're a star for organising this whole thing. Team Erudite UK! Woop woop!