Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen says: While reading is generally a solitary event, love of books has always been something that people have fiercely bonded over. The emotionally intense journeys inherent to reading demand to be shared, recommended, and dissected with friends, family, or anyone else who will listen.

 

Rest is still inwrittenThis is what made the Hachette Bloggers’ night such a pleasure to attend. Aside from having a wonderful welcome from the evidently passionate and book-mad staff, and the chance to meet the equally enthusiastic Laini Taylor, it was a chance for everyone to finally talk in person to each other about a deep mutual interest.

The bloggers that I met at the event were wonderful – I’m sure the ones that I didn’t meet are just as lovely, but alas, I’ll never know. In fact, the only downfall of the night was that I didn’t have the time to meet everyone, which considering the turn-out would have been quite a lofty achievement.

The people that I did meet, however, have already given me a wealth of information. Rachel from The Rest is Still Unwritten is amazing for finding free YA books on Amazon and sharing her finds on Facebook. On her blog she writes long, passionate reviews of all of the many books she’s read and, considering that her favourite books list shares some hefty similarities to my own, my want list has grown because of her blog. On top of this, it turns out that she was one of the stops in the Shine Light Blog Tour, proving yet again that in YA it’s a small world.

YA book addict.jpgTracey at YA Book Addict is another book blogger who has a wealth of information at her disposal. She’s a bit of a Renaissance woman when it comes to the online community. Her wonderful blog has a wealth of information about YA, and she’s firmly embraced the New Adult genre too. As well as the blog, she has a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, which makes following her easy, no matter your preferred platform.

cuddlebuggeryKat Kennedy of Cuddlebuggery fame was also at the Hachette Bloggers’ Night, which was a huge and lovely surprise – and not only for myself. I think that Kat was almost as in demand as Laini on the night, and didn’t see her alone once. If you haven’t stumbled upon Cuddlebuggery in your online wanderings, I suggest you drop everything and go there now. Anything that Kat Kennedy and Steph Sinclair don’t know about YA books, authors and gossip is not worth knowing, and they tend to share their knowledge with everyone else. They’re also intelligent reader/reviewers, analysing books through a feminist and multi-cultural lens.

The Hachette event was a fantastic way to connect with other readers and reviewers. In a world where so much discussion of books is conducted online, it was a nice change to be able to sit down and talk to people about what they read, what they’d recommend and everything else book related.

Blogger Links 

http://cuddlebuggery.com/

http://youngadultbookaddict.blogspot.com.au/

http://rachybee-the-rest-is-still-unwritten.blogspot.com.au/

 

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnOn our last night at Disneyland, we all (as in, all 16 of us) headed out to dinner at Napa Rose. Napa Rose is a (very) fine dining experience, located within The Disney Grand Californian Hotel, where we stayed.

 

Both the food and service were exquisite. Five big fat stars from me. After a couple of days of fast or mass-produced food, it was so good to sit down to fresh produce prepared with plenty of care. While I might be handing out big fat stars, that’s the last thing the meal made you feel. Sure, we left feeling full and satisfied, but it was a nice change to eat two courses (plus bread) without feeling bloated and greasy.

For starters, I – along with a few others on our table – chose the Pan Roasted Diver Scallops on a Sauce of Lobster and accented with Vanilla. Seriously, *I die*. This has to be one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever eaten. So delicate, so delicious. The balance of textures and flavours was just divine.

For main course I had the Smiling Tiger Salad with Fried Lobster, Spicy Beef, Asian Greens and a Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette. Oh. My. Now, I’m not much of a drinker these days, especially when it comes to wine, but I did share a bottle or two of Moscato with my sisters-in-law, Tamzine and Kerrie. The sweet wine was a great balance to the spice of the Smiling Tiger Beef.

What a way to say good-bye to Disneyland! While Napa Rose might not be the cheapest dining option, it really was a special evening. The staff were efficient and full of personality, and treated the children of our group with just as much care as the adults

None of us could fault The Grand Californian Hotel either (except maybe to say that it is MASSIVE and the hallways are reeeeally long and it’s easy to get lost. But err, maybe that was just me…) If you’re ever fortunate enough to get the opportunity to stay there – DO. With exclusive park access to both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, and also to Downtown Disney – there’s not a location more convenient. And, no other location has Napa Rose. 

 

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forman_yearJust One Year is the sequel to Just One Day…kind of. They take place at the same time, but in different perspectives and different locations!

If you don’t know what Just One Year is about, then here’s the quick rundown.

Allyson is on a boring tour in Europe. Not that Europe is boring, but the tour definitely is! When a boy she met the night before asks to take her to Paris for a single day, Allyson can’t help but say yes. She spends hours eating, exploring, and talking to Willem. Feelings start to form, but when Allyson wakes up the next morning, Willem is nowhere to be found.

Allyson is heartbroken and we witness the bruise that Willem has left on her heart and life in her first year of college.

Just One Year is the EXACT same thing! But instead of following Allyson’s side of the story, we’re witnessing Willem’s. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to learn more about Willem since he is such a mysterious character, but I was pretty upset that it was the ‘same’ story.

Allyson’s perspective started by focusing on the strange relationship between Willem and herself, and it continues with Allyson’s life and overcoming this heartache. Willem’s perspective, on the other hand, starts with a little bit of a bruise, and then continues on about his life, family, and friends.

I would have to say that I was a little disappointed two times in this story: the beginning and end. The beginning, because I was expecting the story from Just One Day to continue, so I could see what would happen next, and the end, because of the same reason. I was praying that the story would take the end much farther. I guess I was just a little heartbroken that I didn’t get to see more of Willem and Allyson together.

But even with that, I still enjoyed the story. It was a bit slower, but I think I really liked that the story didn’t COMPLETELY revolve around Willem thinking about Allyson, but more about discovering himself.



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnHello! We arrived safe and sound at LAX very early on Saturday morning after leaving Melbourne, Australia early Saturday morning. Isn’t time travel awesome? We flew with Qantas, and though the food was typically airline standard, it could have been worse. Like when, 6 hours into a fifteen hour flight, my ten year old became awfully air-sick. All over my lap. Yep.

 

USA_poDay One passed by in a blur of exhaustion, but we did manage to get into Disneyland for a few hours. We stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, and just…WOW. So highly recommended, in every way. Seriously, just wow. We’re travelling with the extended Wrangles family – my parents in law, their three sons (one of whom is my husband), three daughters in law and eight grandchildren, so just getting a table together in a restaurant is a bit of a mission.

For lunch on that first day, we ate at The Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, which was just outside our hotel. I had the Green Goddess Salad with shrimp – which tasted a whole lot better than it looked – and Simon (significant other) had the Cheesesteak Po-Boy. Both, apparently, dishes typical of New Orleans. Honestly, we were both so tired and hungry we would have eaten anything, but it was a very tasty welcome to American food.

usa-goddessDay Two was a BIG day at Disneyland, which meant hot dogs and sugary soft drinks all day. California is in the midst of a record breaking heat wave (Aussies, I’m talking 38 – 40 c each day. And dry), so again, I was happy to go with a salad for dinner.

We all ate at the La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney (so convenient!) I had a Wedge Salad, which was delivered as a full quarter of iceberg lettuce with bacon, beetroot, chicken breast and a blue cheese dressing. Holy Moly, it was amazing! My sister in law, Tam, had a BLT with a side of yam chips – again, delicious.

After dinner, we headed back into Disneyland itself for more exploring and the fireworks over the Disney castle – one of my highlights so far. Just beautiful, and very sentimental for this big sook!

 

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bec2012_TNBec Stafford interviews Paul Weston as part of her HAZE book tour.

 

 

paula-weston1. The last time we spoke with you, you’d just released book 1 of The Rephaim, Shadows. Can you tell us a bit about the journey so far and what we can expect from book 2, Haze?

Of course – and thanks for having me again. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you that Haze has a couple of fairly significant plot developments from a series perspective. It picks up a few days after the end of Shadows, and a few things happen early on that set Gaby on a collision course with the Outcasts.

This instalment is primarily driven by Gaby’s search for her brother, Jude, but it also focuses on her own soul-searching about who she used to be, and what that means for who she is now – and how that affects her relationships with everyone else.

She learns more about the Outcasts, and she and Rafa discover a new threat that changes everything for the Rephaim. There are more twists, more swordfights and more heated moments between Gaby and Rafa (romantic and antagonistic!). And you might have heard there’s a bit of a cliffhanger…

 

weston_haze2.   Paula, The Rephaim series includes a number of supernatural creatures, including (half) angels and demons! If you could be any of these creatures for a day, which would you choose and why?

Out of that choice, I’d have to say I’d choose to be one of the Rephaim (half angel). Mostly because of their ability to ‘shift’ (be anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye), which would make travelling so much easier and less expensive! They can also look after themselves in a fight. The downside is the whole ‘why do we exist’ dilemma, and the possibility that they have to fulfill some epic destiny to atone for the sins of their fathers.

 


3. You’ve told us how much you enjoyed creating Rafa’s character and how much fun he’s been to write. Well, we know what a huge hit he’s been with your female fans, in particular. Why do you think he’s so appealing, and did you base him on anyone from reality?

Ha – no, he’s not based on anyone in reality. I’d like to think Rafa appeals to readers because there are a few layers to him, and he shows different sides of himself with each book. I wanted to introduce him as a typical bad boy/smartass and then peel back the layers to show why he acts and reacts the way he does. Yes he can be a bit of a dick at times, but there are reasons why he responds to Gaby so erratically. He has a long and complicated history with her but because she doesn’t remember it, she treats him differently, which confuses the hell out of him. I like keeping him off balance. I also like the fact he’s a brutally efficient fighter, because it makes it interesting when he can’t solve a problem with his fists or a sword. Over the four books of the series, his growth curve is almost as big as Gaby’s.

 

4. Which of your fictional characters Burns Brightest in your mind and why? (We’ve asked you this one before, and you said it was Rafa. Has that changed? If not, who’s next in line?)

Rafa is still fun to write (as are all the characters, actually), but now that I’m deeper into the series I can’t escape that Gaby definitely burns brightest for me. It’s not just that I’m viewing the world and the story through her eyes – it’s also because so many of her questions and reactions reflect my own.

Thanks for the great questions!


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