One year ago…

Whose idea was it to start a blog with Uni, a holiday, life, all within the first year of creation? Hmm? Who? My organisational skills have failed, my reading has failed, and my dedication has faltered. Always with intent or bringing it back from the lonely corner where it was continually pushed. Always hoping that what I had built up over the fractured year would remain when life got sorted again, I think it’s still there? Well as there as it was before, granted it wasn’t all that there to begin with if we’re honest.

One year ago I launched this blog. I had wanted to do it for so long, I wanted to write reviews about books I had loved, I wanted to explain what was exquisite about them and how they made my world a wonderful place. I wanted to read books that I hadn’t read before and if I hated them I wanted to figure out why, what was it that made me dislike it and find cause instead of just disliking it overall.

I never used to write reviews. I have been a Goodreads member for about five years and I never wrote reviews there either. It wasn’t a conscious decision, exactly, I just didn’t do it. But then a couple of years ago a friend of mine discovered Goodreads and she said that she looked forward to exploring the site and reading some of my reviews. It was then that I almost went to say to her that I hadn’t written any reviews and then I thought, ‘well why not? If she wants to read my reviews, my opinions and thoughts on a book I should probably start writing reviews’. So I wrote short reviews and long reviews and emotional reviews and all kinds for awhile and the idea of the blog grew. It had been there for awhile, popping up on occasion, but I never thought I could manage it, it seemed so hard and confusing. Funnily enough it wasn’t until a Uni course about 18 months ago that I realised blogs are not that complicated. The premise is there, it just needed to be started and so I took the plunge, a year and one week ago today I created my blog, technically, but today was the day it was released out on its own. Thinking back, before the chaos the rest of the year was to bring, it was beautiful. I had fun, people who read it enjoyed it, and I realised as it got more lost as the year progressed, just how much fun it was. Being able to escape for awhile and tell people about a book, just a simple book, that had had an effect on me.

In this year however I have had some wonderful opportunities I will remember forever. When I was still in the early months I was offered a chance to be part of a blog tour for the wonderful author Kerry Letheby. Her novel Mine to Avenge was a wonderful read and being part of her tour made me feel like I was helping something worthwhile. The second excellent thing was the amazing chance I had to not only get an advanced copy to review one of my favourite singers Aurelio Voltaire’s debut novel Call of the Jersey Devil, but I also got to interview him about it as well which was seriously the highlight of the year if we’re honest. I then subsequently ruined it by missing the chance to tell him I did all this when I met him, but we aren’t dwelling on that. I also got to do some great cover reveals, I have been asked to review people’s novels for them, and I also got to run a giveaway which was really wonderful.

But away from these great things, this  has not been the best first year I will admit. There were teething problems (understatement of the year) with the old site, and then so many interruptions and problems for the latter half of the year. Ignoring the three month Uni block, as well as the three week holiday, the other time I had seemed devoted to simply recovering from the emotional and work overload and suffocation I was feeling. I would look at these half finished reviews, of books I adored but I could not find the devotion to finishing them. What I realise now is I think I needed to recuperating time. I needed time after Uni finally finished to just gather myself up again after the mess of the last six months and try and hold myself together with more than sticky tape and safety pins. As I say, not much of a smooth start to this first year of blogging. But I will say that I have realised something in all this: the fact that through all of this I never once wanted to throw in the towel. I always felt guilty for neglecting my posts and for feeling like I let people down. That shows me that I do want to keep doing this. I know now that it’s going to take some time, I need to balance my time once more and work around things like Uni and slowly build myself up again before the new semester starts. Finding the passion again for what I like doing, gradually bring myself back.

I know this is not the most wonderful or uplifting of blog anniversary posts you may have seen, but this is where we’ve ended up. I’ve let out as much of my emotions as I am willing and I can’t really sum up this year without all the cracks. I am very grateful for those who have read my reviews this past year, and all those who found me on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr, it is wonderful to feel supported and to be able to share things with you about books and reading and crazy things like fireworks and emotional instabilities.

I look forward to making this a better blog in this second year and building up my reviews once again. In the meantime I will quietly celebrate this one year anniversary because even after everything we cannot simply let it pass by unnoticed, and I hope you’ll join me in continuing this journey of reading and the world of books.

Anniversary

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Mine to Avenge by Kerry Letheby

Published: November 1st 2012
Goodreads badgePublisher: Love Of Books
Pages: 488
Format: Book
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When Alcandor is blamed for the tragic death of his friend’s sister in Greece in 1940, little does he know of the repercussions this will have for him and his family for the next seventy years. Unable to forgive himself, and wanting to give his young family a new start, Alcandor leaves Greece and brings his family to settle in the Riverland of South Australia in 1948. Although Greece and his past are far behind him, Alcandor harbours a terrible secret and he remains a fearful man. Alcandor subdues his fear, and he and his family adapt to an idyllic life of freedom and opportunity. 

However, eighteen years after leaving Greece, Alcandor learns that his past has caught up with him. His family needs to know the truth, but circumstances tragically intervene before he can warn them. Years later, Alcandor’s sons show signs of odd behavior hinting at possible mental instability, before disappearing without a trace. And in the next generation, Alcandor’s grandson exhibits the same strange behaviour not long before he is killed in the tragedy of September 11, 2001. It is not until 2010 that Alcandor’s great- granddaughter, Alethea, discovers that there is far more behind her family’s tragic history than mental illness, and little does she know that the threat against her family is much closer than she realises, and very far from over.

Mine to Avenge is an excellent book. The amount of work and time and thought Kerry has put into this book is amazing. There are interconnected things everywhere, not to mention the research she has done about the history of Greece and America and Adelaide, and all the other places mentioned in the story. If you followed her blog tour she mentions a few details about where she got her ideas and how she wrote this story, and I always have a great admiration for people who put so much time and effort into their work for others to enjoy. There surely must be a time where they want to just wing it because it is easier, but a lot don’t, they want it to be as accurate as possible, especially if dealing with real times and real places and events.

 When Alcandor Galanos is blamed for the death of his friend’s sister in 1940 Greece, it sets in motion a vendetta that will follow his family for the next seventy years. Kerry takes us on this journey of mystery and a vengeance that haunts the Galanos family, and by the end of the book you close it with so much inside your head about the connections and the lives of all the characters it is extraordinary. We are given multiple points of view and there is a fractured chronology as we get to see everyone’s side of the story as is required. This was evident right from the beginning because Chapter one opens with September 11, 2001, and leaving us on a cliff Kerry then jumps back to 1940 Greece where she shows us how it all began with another side of the story. It is writing like that that makes you eager to keep reading, if not to see where the exciting chapter leads, but also because you know there is still a cliff hanger from the very first chapter that is always on your mind as you are given this new information. But through this novel you get so many moments unanswered with new questions and as you continue you are abuzz with theories and you half read and half try and leap ahead in your mind and connect the dots.

 The way Kerry captured moments of the past was wonderful. With real events like September 11 and World War 2 and conflicts in Greece, she manages to portray the feeling and environment wonderfully, as well as the characters who are embroiled in these events. For September 11, because it was the only real one I had any real connection too; the way the confusion and the environment were captured was done extremely well, without it having to be the main focus of the scene. I especially liked how other characters reacted, even those who were not directly involved, specifically Nina and her children Alethea and Mila. Nina cared for her children and protected them from the scenes outside their window and the way Kerry tells their side of the events, you instantly can establish the fear hidden deep under a need to keep children unafraid, but you also can sense the almost young adult 12 year old Alethea who senses the fear, but wants to help her mother by being calm for her.

 Kerry has thought about everything, she has small details that make all the difference, the fact a mother protects the September 11 news from her kids, and how they treat the situation is very real, and very touching without showing the horrors, but still managing to capture the scene perfectly. The emotions, fear, uncertainty and missing description creates the images for you. This is evident in the other cases of terror with the family, creating the family bond, the family love amidst the destruction of the world around them was insightful and heart warming without a sense of over the top emotion.

There are so many gripping moments in this novel, even away from September 11, which isn’t really a huge part of the novel in the scheme of things, though it has its consequences and influences though which play their role in this interwoven narrative as does everything else. But with these scenes, and gripping moments of curiosity and intrigue, you become very involved in the lives of these characters, you have become so invested in their personal lives over their lifetime and knowing the dangers that surround them your brain works overtime to try and anticipate or deduct what it happening, about to happen, or has already happened.

Through the multiple points of view, as well as the jump between years you get to see the evolution of this family, and see children become fathers, mothers, and great grandmothers. When you read about characters when they are older with their families you also have the knowledge behind you of their childhood and their previous moments up until that point. And by having the same experiences retold from different eyes Kerry has compiled these lives, and this mysteriousness into an exquisite packages that leaves nothing unturned, even if it is still being uncovered in the final pages.

There are wonderful transitions between characters and emotions, nothing is rushed, yet nothing is drawn out unnecessarily with unneeded details. Each character is captured and portrayed so well, with such affection you do see them as real people, or as whole characters with a history and past.

As I reached the halfway mark point the cogs inside my head that had been working overtime to think and deduce started to click into place. When suspicions were confirmed it was as if a curtain had been lifted and the pieces started to fall into place. Of course there is always the missing pieces in the puzzle that magically end up under lounge cushions and under pets, these were yet to come, but that doesn’t stop a small sense of delight at the developing result.

I will not give away any more of this plot as it is too glorious not to experience yourself, but by the end of the book, when we are truly still having things revealed, it is done so wonderfully that you close the book feeling like you have been involved in something amazingly complex that works so well on oh so many levels.

News!

Oh this has been a super crazy week, we’ve had author birthdays and reviews and uni work and no sleep and house sitting and chaos, it’s all a bit too much really. I am hoping it starts calming down soon. I remembered the other night as I realised I was on a review day (where does the time go? They blur all into one these days) that I used to do this once a day, back when there was time – ah time, we had so much fun. But we are powering through. I know if I start slacking off this may get abandoned for that education thing and I don’t want that to happen, this is a lot of fun, despite the fact it is somewhat neglected in the time and love aspects. But enough complaining we have some newsish things.

The super secret only Amy can know is coming in May, I am going to put up on May 4th, Star Wars day. It seems fitting in my mind, though it is probably not a strong connection exactly but I don’t care. So that is going to be amazing! So excited. I am also working on getting up my second Liebster Nomination up so you’ll have another list of facts about me and a bunch more blogs you should check out. Also I have been trying to get a Top 10 or  Theme Thursday up and going, I have had my little Theme picture made for months it just is not finding a spot in the schedule but I am trying so keep watching!

More importantly I have just realised something! Gee whiz, we are not good at these important milestones! I blame Shakespeare, I really do. So somehow it has already been another month, how does that even happen! But on the 23rd, which I am realising is the most under appreciated and remembered day (except for Shakespeare, see all his fault), but on the 23rd we hit out three month anniversary! Yay! It is speeding up the more months we accumulate, it is rather terrifying. In that three month period I have gotten a lot of visitors so thank you guys a lot. I do enjoy popping over to my stats and seeing the numbers go up and see the spread of colour on my visitor location map as my world domination comes to fruition. Did I say world domination? I meant a simple collection of visitors from every country and continent *innocent smile*. But thank you guys a lot. Read, share and repeat and all that jazz.

So as I say it is hectic right now, I cannot wait for June when all the crazy stops for a while and I can focus on reading full time instead of just minutes here and there. It is taking a lot longer to get through books this way, it is rather frustrating, especially when they are so enthralling! I am hoping to have a review up soon of Kerry Letheby’s book Mine to Avenge, if you haven’t checked out her guest post or tour you should do that. There is also a giveaway (ends May 3rd) of her book over with Jess at The Never Ending Bookshelf.

But enough on me, ok one more, usual reminder for the Twitter/Facebook extra content and fun times option and all the buttons to click to get those and I hope to see you all for month four. Stay tuned for super exciting (to me and maybe to you) things in May, more birthday posts, more reviews, and I hope you all have a wonderful day and read something spectacular.

Guest Post: Kerry Letheby – Justice or Vengeance – what’s the difference?

I am very glad to be able to hand the reins over to author Kerry Letheby for a guest post as part of her blog tour for her wonderful book Mine to Avenge. There are links at the bottom about where you can find out more information, keep following the tour, or better yet to buy a copy! It’s gotten a 5 Star average on Goodreads at the moment, and it is worth it I assure you.

Justice or Vengeance – what’s the difference?

What is the difference between justice and vengeance? I have often asked myself this over the past few years while writing Mine to Avenge, with the themes of justice and vengeance bound inextricably within the plot.

The dictionary defines justice as ‘the administering of deserved punishment or reward’. It defines vengeance as ‘infliction of injury, harm or humiliation on a person by another who has been harmed by that person’.

In Mine to Avenge, I tell the story of a vendetta, where one man seeks justice for his family when he believes a wrong has been committed against them. At least, that is his motive – to seek justice, but my question is, does he achieve justice by his actions, or does he only hurt those who wronged him? I can’t tell you what his actions are, as that would be a plot spoiler for those who haven’t yet read the book.

If you think carefully about it, a person might commit a certain act, maintaining that it was done to achieve justice where a wrong was committed. However, you would need to closely examine that person’s motive to determine whether the action was done with a desire for fairness, or whether the motivation of the act was more accurately driven by the desire to hurt, or get even.

When you seek to return a wrong for a wrong that was done to you, it is highly likely that you are not unbiased in your actions. The very fact of a wrong being committed against you presupposes that the act has had some impact on you, most likely negative. In that instance, what is the chance that your punishment will be truly just and fair? Likewise if another relative, or a family friend sought justice on your behalf, could they truly be just? They, too, would most likely have been impacted by the harm done to those they love. I think such a person would be driven more by their emotions than a desire for fairness.

Is it possible for you to seek true justice for yourself, in the sense of determining what that justice should be and administering it yourself, or is the outcome more likely to be vengeance? Can you honestly admit your true motive – would you be truly seeking justice for yourself or vengeance towards someone who hurt you?

What about seeking justice for someone else? I believe that only someone who is completely impartial, with no direct interest in the committed wrong, can dispense fair justice in any given situation. Anyone who seeks to dispense justice while having a direct interest in the event, risks acting from the motive of vengeance – seeking to return pain for pain rather a fair and just punishment for the act. Perhaps the difference between the justice and vengeance is just a matter of motive.

With Mine to Avenge, the lines between vengeance and justice are blurred. We have Constantine Anastos seeking what he believes to be justice for his sister, but another character from the same family perceives it to be a quest for vengeance. And on the other hand, the family being targeted by this man also seeks justice for their family for the wrongs committed against them, but there is doubt as to whether this is what they truly achieve.

To complicate things, both the protagonist family and the antagonist family can be said to have the same goal – a quest for justice, but even as the reader is permitted to read the thoughts of each man as he seeks justice, you might well question whether his motives are truly a pursuit of justice or a quest for vengeance.

If I were guilty of committing a wrong against someone, I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I was told that the wronged person was the one to determine what was just and fair. Nor would I feel comfortable if it was to be one of their family members or friends. Justice denotes a degree of fairness. I don’t think the wronged person or their family or friends could be trusted to dispense justice because they are personally involved. Their response would most likely be driven by hate and anger.

In Mine to Avenge, I don’t venture to conclude whether it was vengeance or justice that motivated the avenging family. I deliberately leave that to the reader, and look forward to hearing readers’ thoughts once they have read the story.

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News!

So it’s come to news, not that we don’t have news, we have a lot of news, and an update on my failure to deliver isn’t required but it is still sad. Server issues all week, a very hectic life, a wandering notebook and little sleep (like super little sleep), have put a damper on my plans of excitement sharing about the super awesome fun times I have been having, but rest assured I will be boasting! Not only do I have the continuing adventures of my Newcastle Writers Festival to get up where I was inspired and enthralled by the likes of Courtney Collins, Ryan O’Neill, Patrick Cullen, and so many more I could list them forever but I won’t, but I also got to meet one of my authorial heroes.

On Friday I was lucky enough to go to a talk by Australian author and personal idol, John Marsden and it was absolutely wonderful. I would like to think I behaved in a terribly adult manner when I got to meet him but I feel that would be a lie. As I stood in line with my pile of books ready to be signed I could feel my heart pounding and the realisation that the man who wrote Checkers, So Much To Tell You, Winter, and The Tomorrow Series was mere metres away was almost too much. I did have enough control to have a proper conversation with him, but I have witnesses that the before and after I was ‘fangirling’ (Googled it, seems to fit). I do not mind for one simple reason: for me John Marsden was, and is, the author who made me realise books have a lot of power over a reader, he can engage you with his words and with his stories, and in doing so he has the ability to twist everything you every thought about writing, about books, and even about the story you just read. I started reading his books at 13 and I haven’t stopped. I will talk more when I get the post up in a few days (*fingers crossed*), but it was truly one of the best moments I have had.

Then on Saturday the Sydney Writers Festival program was released after an excellent launch on Thursday night. I have already made my schedule and booked what needs to be booked. It is going to wonderful. Dates are 20-26 May, but there are events on before as well, all details are on their site.

Other news that is more pressing than news that is going to be gushed about later is the fact that Kerry Letheby’s blog tour began today over on Time 2 Blog. She will be providing Lost in a Good Book with a post on Friday and you can follow where the tour will be next and the find the other blogs here. Kerry might even drop by to answer any questions you may have as well. Her book is very good, it is suspenseful, mysterious, and very touching, a great read.

Reminder with the shameless self promotion, Lost in a Good Book has a Facebook page and a Twitter where you can get loads (maybe not loads), but a lot of book, reading, and other related things that don’t get put on the blog. So head on over there and click all the appropriate buttons to start finding all the goodies. I’m also on Goodreads if you wanted to check out other reviews that are not on here, always forget about my poor Goodreads despite the fact I live on it.

Also I was nominated for a second Liebster Award by the delightful Jess at The Never Ending Bookshelf! So that post will also be going up soon as well. So much time and so little to see post! Strike that, reverse it. (Woo, Willy Wonka for the funnies!)

Despite still being very much in April I do have secret news that I can reveal in May but that is all I am saying. Super secret news is for my ecstatic squeals and joy only for now, but your turn will come.

Ok! Well I think that is finally all the news, check out all the links and get excited about all the upcoming things, enjoy your remaining Monday night, and read something spectacular.

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