Sunday, 26 September 2010

In My Mailbox 16

I didn't get to do an In My Mailbox post last week, so these are the books I've got in the last fortnight.

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King - I started reading this one at work on a day when the computers were broken, then because I hadn't finished it they said I could keep it, which was nice of them. Although I doubt I'm going to finish the book because I'm finding it really boring!

Entangled by Cat Clarke - On tour through UK Book Tours. I just finished reading this one yesterday, it was really great! Review to come in the next few days.

Innocent Blood by P.D. James - Received from

Operation Concrete Boxset, including Concrete Operational novel by Richard Galbraith, art book and CD - Received from the author for review. Check out the guest post that Richard Galbraith wrote for my blog here.

P.S. Please excuse my rubbish photos, it's hard to get the lighting right with this crappy British weather!

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Author Guest Post: Richard Galbraith

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll notice that I've been missing in action lately! Anyway, to make up for it I have something a bit different for you today. I have a guest post by Richard Galbraith, author of Concrete Operational.

Concrete Operational - Novel writing, art, music and independent publishing

Concrete Operational Concrete Operational is my novel, it’s an independent release funded by the Arts Council England…that statement itself raises two quick questions, why indie, and how did you convince the English Arts Council to give you thousands of pounds to publish it? Well, this is where my journey into independent publishing, collaborative media, design, filmmaking, music production, art manufacturing and a host of other things came to being.

Let’s take a step back to 2009, I had my novel manuscript complete, and I’d had it assessed by the most excellent Oxford Editors. My assessor said that whilst it was a good manuscript, it was difficult in places and would have problems finding an agent or a publisher because of it’s content, being that at the time, the second chapter was a 4,000 word speech amongst other things.

I looked back on my manuscript and remembered that the reason I began writing it, wasn’t to get published, but to explore my theories and beliefs on the human condition and Fatalism, and to an extent, it had done that. I also knew however, I would now like people to read it and that the 80,000 words that I had written were a jumbled mess of vast streams of consciousness, and surrealist writing.

I decided to compromise, I would make the novel, the manuscript that ‘had legs’ legible, I’d do everything I could to make it a compelling, insightful and interesting read and tell a real story, but I also wanted to keep the keen look at humanity. I wanted to make sure the reader came away with something and in this regard, I decided on a collaborative media project, because well, I’m not Kurt Vonnegut.

I pulled my resources and crowd sourced five British bands and five British artists who were prepared to create original music and art around five emotionally driven extracts of my novel. The promise was an art book, music album and novel, all to be released at the same time through the Amazon print on demand service, Createspace. We would have a launch night, a seven-day exhibition and the support of marketing and promotion professionals.

And that is what Operation Concrete came to be. Only we achieved so much more along the road; we produced a 72 page art book, a five track album, a six minute short film, original designs and branding around all assets, 200 bespoke, hand-made boxes for ‘box-sets’ of all the products. The launch night had well over 200 attendees and the seven day art exhibition that was free to the public and ran in London saw over 1000 patrons pass through. The exhibition was an immersive experience that allowed the patron to read the extract to the art and listen to the music all at the same time. It was all a great success.

However, all in all, it’s been a very difficult road, pulling it all together was hard, but trying to get people to find out what we did and understand what it was and is all about is proving the most difficult part.

Hopefully this post has sparked some of your interest though, so head over to Operation Concrete for samples of the art, music and words, to view the short film, and ultimately to purchase any of the items or all of them, in one of the box-sets. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that through it, you can discover something about yourself that you might not have known was there before.

If you would like to know more about the project that you can find online, just email me at ricgalbraith [at] gmail [dot] com

Richard Galbraith

Sunday, 12 September 2010

In My Mailbox 15

I got two books this week, they're both ones that I can't wait to read.

First up, I got a review copy of Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder. I'm so excited to read this one!
An undercover mission leads to danger, adventure and an impossible choice...

Spy Glass (Glass, #3)After siphoning her own blood magic in the showdown at Hubal, Opal Cowan has lost her powers. She can no longer create glass magic. More, she's immune to the effects of magic. Opal is an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference in the world.

Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes flash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood - and that finding it might let her regain her powers. Or know it could be they are lost forever...
The second book I got was A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly. This has been on my wishlist for ages, so I was really pleased when someone on bookmooch offered it to me as a swap for one of my other books.

A Gathering LightWhen Mattie is given letters by a guest at the hotel where she has a summer job, she thinks the guest is simply upset. But when the woman is found drowned next day, Mattie must decide whether she will read them, or burn them as requested. A touching funny surprising novel set in 1906 and based on a true story.

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Endal by Allen and Sandra Parton

Endal: How One Extraordinary Dog Brought a Family Back from the BrinkAllen Parton suffered a serious head injury while serving in the Gulf War and returned home unable to walk, talk or remember most of his life. He couldn't even remember his wife, Sandra, and their two children. After five years of rehabilitation, he was still severely disabled.
Sandra was a nurse so thought she would be able to help her husband, but the Allen who had returned didn't remember her, and couldn't cope with what life had dealt him. Determined to be strong, Sandra would have to fight to keep her family together.
Endal was a Labrador puppy with problems of his own until he 'adopted' Allen and Sandra. He was to change their world, and give them back their family.
My thoughts: A truly amazing story, this book completely blew me away. Have the tissues ready!

Allen was serving in the Gulf when he was involved in a car accident which left him suffering a serious brain injury. He couldn't remember anything about his life other than his naval career.

The first half of the book explores Allen and Sandra's life before and after the accident. It made for really intense reading. All that Allen wants to do is get better and get back to work, but his short term memory loss is so bad that sometimes he'll stop speaking halfway through a sentence and forget he was even talking. Sandra was incredible in the way she dealt with everything. She has to put up with the navy closing ranks on her when she tries to find out the truth about Allen's accident, then she has to cope with money worries and possible eviction from their home. All this while trying to care for a man who doesn't even recognise her as his wife.
Endal the dog isn't introduced until much later on in the book, which is good because you really do need to know the full story to fully appreciate how much Endal changed Allen and Sandra's lives.

The book is told in alternating chapters between Allen and Sandra. This is slightly repetitive in places, but it's good because you get to see both sides of the story.

Endal is an amazing dog and it was lovely to read about all the things he could do and the way he brought people out of themselves. But I have to say that my hero of the story was Sandra. There's not many people who could (or would) stand by their spouse for so long when he didn't even know who she was. The way she coped with everything was amazing and she's a true inspiration to me.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

In My Mailbox 14

It was quite a quiet week for books this week. I only got one which I mooched from

The Ghosts of Sleath I have read this before when I was 16, but I fancied reading it again.

Also I got my course books for my next course which is starting in October. Please excuse the terrible photo, the camera batteries were about to die so I was hurrying!

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, 3 September 2010

A Wartime Poetry Journal by Effie M. Roberts

A Wartime Poetry JournalEffie M. Roberts wrote her journal of poetry in World War 2. Times were very bleak but she rarely lost her sense of humour, or her courage.

My thoughts: This is a really lovely book. It has been edited and published by the author's granddaughter, and this means she has been able to give a really good introduction to the book telling the reader about the background of her grandmother's life. I found this really helpful beacuse it gives you a context for the poems.

The poems themselves are really lovely. Effie wrote them as her journal during the war years, so they are quite personal. She writes about everything from waiting in a queue, to finding out that her husband was killed. The poems made me feel a range of emotions; some made me smile, others had me nearly crying.

My favourite poem in the book was this one:

After so many months of war,
And the ruins around, we see,
We think - must everything be lost?
And what will the end ever be?

War has left thousands homeless,
And robbed us of many a thing;
Though havoc is left near and far,
It can't take away everything.

We must have the cheerless black-out,
We must have the great guns booming,
But the birds still carol gaily,
And the flowers still keep on blooming.

We still have the leafy woodland,
There is joy in the sunlit hill,
In the breezes, softly sighing,
And the river that's never still.

There is joy in the starlit sky,
And the health-giving sun's warm ray,
We find, when we just think awhile,
There's lots the war can't take away.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Moonshine by Christina Jones

MoonshineCleo Moon is starting life over again after a divorce. She lands a job as PA to Lady of the Manor - Mimi - having settled herself in a caravan in the sleepy little village of Lovers' Knot. But the trouble starts when the most beautiful boy in the world - Dylan - turns up on her doorstep drunk one night.

My thoughts: When Cleo finds some old recipes for homemade wine, her and Dylan have a go at making the wine, planning to serve it at the Harvest Home festival. Cleo obviously fancies Dylan, and even though he's a bit of a player, I found myself really wanting her to end up with him.
In a side story Cleo's teenaged friend Elvi is falling in love with Zeb, a rich kid who she knows her father will hate.

The Harvest Home festival is what the whole book leads up to, and it doesn't disappoint. When the wine is served for the first time it turns out to have magical effects on anyone who drinks it. This made for some really funny scenes, but it also revealed the secrets of some of the characters, which brought everything together nicely.

I really loved this book. I felt really involved with the characters and I enjoyed reading about the developing romances. I thought the story was a really original idea and I will definitely be seeking out more books by Christina Jones.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Monthly Round-Up - August 2010

Hope you've all had a great month. August has been a busy month for me, there was a bunch of family birthdays, my mum came to visit for a weekend, work was crazy, and there's been some big arguments too. All of that has slightly taken me away from blogging, but I am still here! So here's a round-up of reading in August.

Books read in August:
1. My Secret Admirer by Carol Ellis
2. Tall, Dark and Filthy Rich by Jill Monroe
3. The Smoking Gun by Malcolm Rose
4. I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk
5. The Player by Rhonda Nelson
6. The Hitchhiker by R.L. Stine
7. Milly Molly Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley
8. A Wartime Poetry Journal by Effie M. Roberts
9. Moonshine by Christina Jones
10. The Ruby In The Smoke by Philip Pullman
11. Ratcatcher by James McGee
12. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
13. Skinny B, Skaz and Me by John Singleton
14. Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon
15. Danger In The Shadows by Dee Henderson

Total read: 15
My favourite book this month was Moonshine by Christina Jones. It's a really fun and cute story with a touch of magic. I'll be posting my full review of it tomorrow.

Books reviewed in August:
1. Touching The Sky by Susan Madison
2. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
3. My Soviet Kitchen by Amy Spurling

Total reviewed: 3

Books received in August: 20
Books added to wishlist: 17

What's coming in September?
My birthday giveaway is ongoing until September 30th, make sure you enter for your chance to win one of three books. Apart from that, you can look forward to more reviews and maybe a few book-related posts.