General chatter

Phew, that was a quick one…

I don’t know about you, but 2012 seems to have passed by in a blink of an eye. It’s been fun, but phew, I’ve barely kept up…

Of course, when I stop and think about it, 2012 has brought with it some amazing achievements – I’ve read a bundle of brilliant books and ‘recruited’ some amazing TBYL Reviewers. I’ve made lots and lots of new bookish friends, and seen a wonderful community grow around That Book You Like…

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 10.50.06 AMThe TBYL Store has grown, moving from strength to strength and promises to keep getting bigger and better, whilst the TBYL Book Club has taken shape as an amazing place to share reading experiences.

On a personal note, I’ve managed to see one child through kindergarten and another through his final year of primary school. I’ve had my fair share of health ‘interventions’ again this year, but despite this, finish the year feeling the strongest and healthiest I have in three years. I’ve got my eyes firmly set on ‘getting back to go‘ in the year to come.

In short, it’s been a great year!

Heading into New Year’s Eve, I find myself making a mental list of what 2013 might hold…

I’d say that more books, reading and reviewing is an absolute certainty, I’ve already got some great titles on the Reading Pile for January. Hopefully 2013 will bring loads more friends to TBYL – once we get to 1500 likers on Facebook, there’ll be a big book give-away, and we’re not far off now.

TBYL stallI’ve got lots of great ideas for new goodies in the TBYL Store, and the Store will be making a few ‘public appearances’ throughout the year at markets and pop-up shops – I can’t wait! Also, I’ve got some great book ideas for the TBYL Book Club so that we can keep reading together.

Setting my sights a high – I’m hoping to start running some literary events in 2013. There’s a little planning work left to do on this one, but with your help I’m sure we can get this new idea of the ground!

Finally, and most excitingly, the TBYL website will have had a major facelift. Check in on the 1 January and you’ll see a brand-new, easy to use website. The site is the easiest way to make sure that you don’t miss out on anything that is going on with TBYL. With all that I’ve got planned for the new year, you’re not going to want to miss a thing!

Thank-you so much for your involvement in, and support of That Book You LIke… It’s my pride and joy and it just thrills me that other people are getting enjoyment out of what’s going on here. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy our reviews, activities and give-aways for another bookish year.

All the best for 2013, best wishes to you all, and of course, happy reading!

 

Merry Christmas from TBYL

With the fuss and bother of end of school activities safely behind us, the family and I are already breathing a sigh of relief…

The tree is overflowing with tinsel and stars and its base is being kept warm by a huge bundle of gifts ready and wrapped for family and friends. We’ve one day left on our advent calendar, and Oscar is just about ready to burst with excitement in anticipation of Santa’s visit tonight.

Screen shot 2012-11-26 at 1.12.46 PMPinterest is brimming with photos of Christmas trim, #christmas is trending on Twitter and Facebook is starting to gleam and glisten with Seasons Greeting to fans, kin and colleagues.

And so, with no further ado, we here at TBYL would like to wish all of you wonderful, wonderful bookish people a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Whether your celebrations are big, small or in between; whether you take the day easy, or rush madly between dishes and dinners; whether you asked Santa for books or toys or tech; we hope you have a most fantastic day with your loved ones!

On this special day, take a moment, have a chat, share a drink, read a book… enjoy your day, and those around you.

Lots of love from the crew at That Book You Like…

Watch out, he’s back! Hunter…

At the beginning of 2012 I was lucky enough to be introduced to Defender, the first in the Intrepid series by author, Chris Allen. I was immediately drawn into the world of Intrepid agent, Alex Morgan, hard-hitting and action packed, I enjoyed every page. You can read my original review here, but let me just say, I’ve been hanging out ever since for the release of the second instalment, Hunter: Intrepid 2.

A lot has happened for Chris and his crew since his first release, not the least of which was the building of an exciting relationship between Chris and Pan Macmillan’s digital-only publishing arm, Momentum. A match made in heaven, this pairing has meant that Hunter has been brought to us with great gusto and in a fantastic digital format.

HunterI’ve been reading Hunter over the last couple of days, and I’ve found it hard to put it down. Right from the get-go it’s firing on all cylinders…

His orders are simple: ‘The safety catch is off. Return that girl to her family and drag those bastards back to justice. Dead or alive. It makes no difference to me.’

Alex Morgan – policeman, soldier and spy for Intrepid, the black ops division of Interpol – is on the hunt for Serbian war criminals. But these guys were never going to let it be that simple. An assassination attempt is made on the presiding judge of the international tribunal. Days later, the judge’s daughter, the famous and beautiful classical pianist Charlotte Rose, vanishes in mysterious circumstances.

The girl is not just a pretty face and the daughter of a judge, however. She’s also the goddaughter of Intrepid’s veteran commander, General Davenport. It’s up to Morgan and the Intrepid team to track the kidnappers and the missing woman before the very fabric of international justice is picked apart at its fraying edges.

Part James Bond and part Jason Bourne, Alex Morgan must walk the line between doing the right thing and getting the job done. And this time he’s got permission to make it personal.

It’s fantastically international, intricate in its detail and cast with a range of beautifully developed characters, all with their own missions and methods of achieving them.

One of the things that strikes me the most about Chris’ work is that it is incredibly authentic, clearly very well researched, but at the same time avoids the trap of tedium that some highly detailed ‘action’ titles can fall into. At all times, the balance between fact and adventure is maintained superbly meaning that the story is punchy, compelling and always entertaining.

I’ve only one problem now…

I have to wait until next year for Intrepid 3!

***

Chris Allen, author of the Intrepid series has been having a browse at the TBYL Store and put together a shopping list!

5 things I like from the TBYL Store, who I’d give them to and why!

Curses and Blessings for All Occasions, by Bradley Trevor Greive… I admit to being very biased here because I know the author well and he is a great fella. However, despite my bias, this is an incredibly funny book. It is a must for anybody you know who deserves the escape and immense enjoyment of this page-by-page indulgence. This one is particularly suited to my wife Sarah who I’ve often found, on many occasions, giggling mischievously to herself as she discovers yet another favourite among BTG’s plethora of hilarious anecdotes.  In addition, there’s an incredible history behind each and every illustration. Not to be missed.

Haunted Pendant Small2pm Haunted Small Pendant (1″)… There’s something very dark about this.  I don’t know what it is that drew me to this piece but whatever it was it has succeeded in piquing my interest.  There are a couple of people I have in mind for this. Suffice to say I think this gift would be more suited to a fan of, say, ‘A turn of the screw’ than the Twilight series.

Happythoughts are Everywhere by Nicky Johnston… The thing that attracted me immediately to this book for kids was title followed immediately by the cover. We have a couple of great friends who are parents to three incredible little boys. I can say this now because Sarah and I have two little boys and boys are an absolute handful. When I saw this cover I immediately pictured the dad sneaking away for a quiet moment of solace under one of his boys’ beds having commandeered some toys. Although, in reality it is in fact the mum who would be in much greater need – and much more deserving – of the escape!

Diary of a Penguin-Napper by Sally Harris… I absolutely love the premise of this book especially the fact that the young hero would do anything to impress the girl of his dreams. I want this book for my two boys! Enough said!

Casino-Royale-200Casino Royale by Ian Fleming… It is absolutely no secret that I am a huge fan of Ian Fleming. With the recent release of Skyfall there’s been more than enough discussion of James Bond of late. However, I am duty bound to explain my reason for jumping on the bandwagon. It’s a sad fact that only truly die-hard Fleming fans or those who have read at least one if not some of his books can genuinely attest to his incredible mastery of story telling within the modern thriller context. I would offer this book as a gift to any reader of action thrillers whose only experience of 007 is via the movies. Casino Royale is a timeless classic of the genre, evidenced by the superb cinematic realisation in 2006 of the story first published in 1953. My love of reading was ignited by Fleming’s writing and he left such an impression on me that I can also unequivocally trace my determination to become a successful published author back to his books. 

Feel free to have a browse around the TBYL Store yourself… you can shop here!
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You can pick up a copy of Hunter: Intrepid 2 at the Intrepid website, and if you’d like to check out some other exciting Momentum titles, take a look at their website here.  

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Escape with Chaos Born

Yesterday, we had a chance to meet editor Kate Cuthbert, from Escape Publishing and so today, I thought it fitting that we have a bit of a chat with one of Escape’s talented authors, Rebekah Turner.

Chaos BornRebekah’s novel, Chaos Born is one Escape’s first releases and offers up a teasing romance against a dark, gas-lit setting:

A fresh and exciting debut novel introducing the Chronicles of the Applecross. Lora Blackgoat, smuggler and mercenary, has been lying low after a job gone bad made her a laughing stock in the industry. When a childhood friend turns to her for help, Lora leaps to restore her reputation and starts hunting a killer who is stalking the gas-lit streets. She never expects that her path will lead her to the Order of Guides, a sadistic militant religious organisation – or to Roman, a deadly and dangerously attractive half-angel warrior who also hunts the killer. When Lora discovers that the killer has broken fundamental laws of magic to enter the city, she also uncovers a conspiracy that leads back into her own dark past.

I had a chance to ask a few questions of Rebekah, and got to know her and her writing a little bit better…

Would you like to introduce yourself a little?
I live in Brisbane with my husband, two kids and a nervous Boston Terrier. In my past I’ve worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world. I now work part-time and spend rest of the week being a child-wrangler.

How did you get involved with Escape Publishing?
I attended the 2012 Romance Writers Convention at the Gold Coast. A panel of different publishers pitched to the conference attendees on why they should submit their manuscripts to them. After hearing the Escape editor say they had a two week response time, I jumped at the chance to submit. I got a request for a full very quickly, then an offer of publication after three weeks.

What does the establishment of Escape Publishing mean to you?
I think Escape Publishing is an exciting publishing model, with a fast response time and supportive editors. Being part of Harlequin Australia also means they have a well recognised brand name already in place.

Do you have any suggestions for other writers who think that Escape might be a good option for their manuscript?
Escape is focused on Australian writers, with a world-wide audience. So, it’s a great opportunity to get your novel out into the world and you don’t have to wait six months for a response.

Your novel is wonderfully visual, very cinematic in many ways – it reminded me quite a bit of films such as Bladerunner and Underworld. Where did you draw your inspiration from when writing ‘Chaos Born’?
My characters came first, then the world crystallised around them in the re-writes. I used a few techniques I found online to flesh the world out and also compiled a very detailed scrapbook to help me visualise what Harken City looked like. I wanted the world to be dark, moody and fantastic, but with a realistic baseline.

What do you hope your readers will enjoy most about your new novel?
I hope readers will have some fun reading Chaos Born and enjoy Lora’s misadventures as much as I did writing them.

What’s next for you? More Lora or something different?
I’ve been writing book 2 in The Chronicles of Applecross series, with a focus on Lora’s deepening relationship with the half-angel, Roman. I’ve also working on a sexy paranormal romance. The working title is Biker Werewolves in Tasmania and involves a burnt out, ex-homicide detective and a disgraced werewolf pack enforcer.

***
If you’d like to check out this title and many others pop on over to the Escape Publishing website today!
What would you pick from the Escape Publishing offering?

Welcome to Escape Publishing

When I was studying writing at University, my lecturers went to great lengths to inform us that getting published was, to put it politely, challenging. They made a point of making it quite clear that having a great idea, putting together a great story with a wonderful cast of characters was only one small part of the process of becoming a published author.

EscapeBlogTour3This year, new possibilities became available to a group of new emerging authors, with the launch of Escape Publishing.

Harlequin Books already have a reputation for listening to their readers and giving them plenty of accessible titles for them to join. In 2013, they turned their ear to new authors, hearing their cry for an easier, fairer manuscript submission, review and consideration process. And from this, Escape Publishing was born…

Escape Publishing takes a novel approach. Firstly, we are dedicated to our authors. If you’re an author with us… it’s all about you! Our promise to you is a personalised service with a fast turn-around of 3 months, supported by an integrated marketing campaign.

“We’re nimble – we are big enough to take the time to help you craft your manuscript and provide the marketing support to help create a bestseller, but small enough to adapt to, and move with, the market. We have built an unparalleled connection to the reader and with over 78% market share, we know romance!” Managing Director of Harlequin Enterprises Asia-Pacific, Michelle Laforest, explains.

I’m not the best to tell you all about this new publishing house though, rather, I’m pleased to be able to share with you, my Q&A with Escape editor, Kate Cuthbert…

Kate, would you like to introduce yourself a little?
Sure! Hi, I’m Kate. I’m the Managing Editor of Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s new digital-first imprint. I’ve been reading romance since I was about 11, and my first ever romance was a little Mills&Boon novel by Charlotte Lamb, called Dreaming.

And, could you tell us a little bit about Escape Publishing? What sets it apart from other Publishers?
Escape Publishing is the digital-first arm of Harlequin Australia, with the goal of bringing Australian and New Zealand voices to a global audience. We’re flexible, free, and fast – our digital-first model means we can take more risks, fill niche, explore new ground, as well as celebrate fabulous romance traditions. We have a small team, which makes us responsive, but we have the Harlequin team at our back. And we can have you published within 6 months.

Why is Escape so important to you?
As with all romance readers, I’ve seen the market shrink, and then shrink, and then shrink some more – the financial climate has meant that, in a lot of cases, publishers have had to bypass risks and stick to trends. This has lessened our diverse and wide-ranging genre. With Escape, we can start filling in some of the gaps, taking those risks, and catering to what readers want. Further, as an Australian-based imprint, we’re well-placed to really promote Australian voices, which is something we’re really passionate about.

Escape team

The Escape Publishing team!

Do you have Three Top Tips for people out there who might be thinking of putting a manuscript together, and see Escape Publishing as just the ticket?

Tip No. 1
Get someone else to read your manuscript. Digital-first publishing has some ramifications. We move very fast – at the moment we’re about 2 weeks from submission to first response, and just over three months from acceptance to publication. So the initial barrier to acceptance is probably a little higher. We don’t have time for a prolonged editing process, so your manuscript has to be in the absolute best shape it can be. Find someone you trust to read your story – someone who will be completely honest with you. Probably not your mum. You need to know where the holes are, the leaps of logic, the uncharacteristic actions. And edit, edit, edit. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

Tip No. 2
Make sure you have a website and have thought about your online presence. Digital-first readers live online, which means authors have to as well.

Tip No. 3
Hit that submit button. There are so many writers out there who just polish, polish, polish, but never work up the courage to take the final step. But if I don’t read it, I can’t publish it. So take the chance.

What can people expect to see from Escape Publishing in 2013?
So much good stuff! I wish I could tell you all about everything, but I’ll focus on some of our upcoming titles: I’m calling January ‘SF month’, because we kick off our Science Fiction romance section with two great titles: one is Legend Beyond the Stars, which is a very hot adult romance, and we also have Rayessa and the Space Pirates, which is a YA space opera and is a whole lot of fun.

Also, just to celebrate ourselves, we have a lovely little Australia Day story, set on the beach, about a very serious doctor and a not-so-serious surfer.

Do you have any reading recommendations for our bookish readers? 
Do I?! Well apart from the titles I’ve recommended above, we also have our December titles, which are now available:

New Year’s Kisses by Rhian Cahill is a very romantic, surprisingly sweet, subtly sexy sequel to Rhian’s Christmas Wishes, one of our launch titles.

Short Soup by Coleen Kwan is about best friends, mistakes, dreams, and the healing power of Chinese food.

Summer Fling by Serenity Woods is our first New Zealand story, a contemporary romance about a chocolatier and a sky-dive instructor.

Drawing Closer by Jenny Schwartz proves that short stories can still sizzle!

No Strings Attached by Bridget Gray is sweet, funny, surprising, and set against the aftermath of the Boxing Day Tsunami.

The Danger Game by Caitlyn Nicholas is a quick-paced, breath-taking techno-thriller.

***

If you’d like to find out more about Escape Publishing, please visit their website here.

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Christmas countdown can start now…

For a few years now I’ve struggled with the whole advent calendar thing. I can’t stand the ones that you find in the stores, but at the same time I just couldn’t seem to get organised enough to do something hand-made and really special (like this, for example).

This year though, I’ve managed to put a little something together. It’s not overly complicated in the making, and I think the fun will be in the execution. It combines four of my favourite things; twine, books, treasure hunts and chocolates.

First I got hold of some Christmas gift tags…

…then I wrote some numbers on them, ready for the countdown. I love Pigment Ink pens on black card!

On the reverse side I wrote some bookish clues, ready for a chocolate hunt, one each day leading up to Christmas…

I twisted up about half-a-dozed strands of twine to make a clothes-line, and then pegged each tag to it with a mini-peg. I had a couple of 3M hooks and some blue-tac lying around so I used that to string the advent calendar up on the wall.

Finally, I’ll buy some yummy chocolates and one final special gift for the night before Christmas, ready for the kids to go searching. They’ll have to work out Mummy’s favourite reading spot, Evan’s favourite books and where they’d find Dad’s stinky socks, all in order to find each day’s Christmas treat!

I hope it’ll be lots of fun for everyone!

What do you do for the Christmas Countdown?

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Friday Bits and Bobs

We’re starting another Friday and finishing off another week, edging one week closer to Christmas. For my own benefit as much as anyone else’s I thought I’d make today’s blog article a headline post full of bits and bobs. Here’s a few shots of information to get you into the weekend…

Find That Book You Like… Online
Did you know that you can find TBYL all over the internet? I spend a ridiculous amount of time online, and I find that each online space is a wonderful place to connect with people in different ways. Maybe you’d like to join me?

You’ll find TBYL on Twitter here…

You’ll find TBYL on Pinterest here…

If you’re looking for a place to chat about books, without leaving the house you’ll find our online TBYL Book Club here…

Of course, you should also bookmark our website www.thatbookyoulike.com.au as a hub for all these different TBYL goodies, including the online TBYL Store.


Blog Tours

That Book You Like… has a busy couple of weeks with no less than three blog tours on the calendar. On Monday, I’ll be chatting to Sally Harris about her new book Diary of a Penguin-Napper and then later in the week I’ll be catching up with the lovely Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publishing who’ll be telling us a bit more about their exciting new endeavour. After this conversation, I’ll be taking a look at some of Escape Publishing’s newest authors and I might even get to have a chat to some of them. Exciting things happening at Escape, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.


New in the TBYL Store

Have you taken a look at our newest editions to the store? My favourites… handmade Book Covers and Lego Earrings. Both are limited edition pieces, handmade with love and beautiful! Shop Now!


New Friends

Hopefully you’ve already checked out Little Birdy Tix after my feature in this month’s TBYL News: All Things Bookish… but if you haven’t make sure you pop on over and visit their website. They’re an amazing membership-based group that will help you to connect with promoters and artists so that you can check out new and exciting performances around Melbourne and Sydney. Best of all, once you’re a paid up member, event tickets are FREE! I’ve got a membership up for grabs as our newsletter give-away this month, so don’t forget to read the newsletter here and get your entry in!


A New Blog

For those of you who are interested in health and fitness, and would be keen to follow along with my current ‘health project’

I’ve started a new blog called Getting Back To Go. I started the blog mainly for my own benefit as a kind of logbook, and as such it’s a lot more personal than TBYL but if you’d like to watch along as I work at getting my fitness back and increase my ‘wellness’ after finishing breast cancer treatments, you’re welcome to have a read.

You’ll find the blog here…


The Reading Pile

Lastly, if you’re looking for any reading ideas for over the summer holidays, there is an absolute stack of great titles on the TBYL Reading Pile at the moment. Can I suggest a browse?

Happy Friday, and enjoy the weekend!

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Story Time for TBYL

It’s going to be quiet on the blog over the weekend, because That Book You Life is going ‘real-world’ !!

In a first for TBYL we’re going to be running a Story Time tent, accompanied by a real-life TBYL Store at this weekend’s Pink Lady Art Exhibition!

The exhibition will be held this Saturday and Sunday (10am – 5pm) at the Brighton Arts and Cultural Centre (Wilson & Carpenter Streets, Brighton, VIC, 3186) and the TBYL story reading will start at about 11am on Saturday.

I can’t wait to share some of my favourite books… Ish, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, some Nick Bland and Oliver Jeffers, with some lovely kids.  Hopefully it’ll help keep the little ones occupied while their parent’s enjoy the stunning art on show – it’s going to be a blast!

If you’re in the area I’d LOVE for you to pop by and say hi. You might even be able to pick up a book or two from The TBYL Store – it’s our first real-life set up, and I’d love your support!

The Pink Lady Art Exhibition is a community fund raising, raising money for BCNA and NBCF. It’s a cause close to my heart, and I can’t wait to do my bit in making this event a resounding success!

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Why so quiet?

I thought I might give you a little sneak peak into why it’s been so quiet on the blog this week…

It was partly because of a family road trip to the Art Gallery of Ballarat…

And it had something to do with slices of banana and chocolate bread and cups of tea on Monday afternoon…

On Tuesday I hung out with small kids and wild animals instead of writing…

And Wednesday I was entertained by bright lights and an Afro Circus…

On Thursday we had to tend to our garden…

And post out some TBYL Bookmarks to lots of friends…

And no reading will happen today, as I spend the day with my wonderful Mum and my delightful Dad.

So as you can see, I’ve taken a bit of an unplanned break to spend some well earned time off with my lovely others. But, I promise next week I’ll read twice as fast, write twice as much and introduce you to some new friends and endeavours. I hope you’ll tune in!

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Sure beats another cat video

I’ve got a bundle of new reviews lined up for the second half of this week, but I thought I’d begin my blogging week with the words of some people far wiser than I.

If you’re a little tired of Youtube’s usual fare of flash mobs, classic crashes and crazy kitties, maybe you’d like to take a look at these interesting videos from ABC TV’s Big Ideas

How about some real class?
Great English actor, writer and director, Simon Callow was the headliner act at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival and he based his keynote speech on his biography of Dickens – titled Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World. In this address, he discusses the importance of theatre to the life and work of one of the greatest storytellers in the English language. You can watch the video of his presentation here.

I’ve not read Anna’s book yet, but I hope to soon…
This year’s Miles Franklin winner, Anna Funder is in conversation with writer Anne Summersabout All That I Am. You can watch the video here.

I’m missing the Melbourne Writers Festival now that it’s over, so I’m going to revisit one of the sessions that I went too…
Labor in Vain – Is the fate of the federal Labor Party sealed? Is it in crisis or just experiencing the odd catastrophe? You can watch this conversation here.

And lastly, some food for thought…
‘Foreign aid is a waste of money” – this was the proposition for this IQ2 debate in Melbourne. Watch this polarising debate here.

Have you come across any interesting ‘thinky’ videos online lately?

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