Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What I've Been Reading:
'Zombies at Tiffany's' by Sam Stone

As you could probably tell by one of my previous posts, Meeting Sam Stone, I'm a huge fan of the horror writer and couldn't wait to crack on with her two newest books. On Saturday night, I started reading 'Zombies at Tiffany's' her steampunk Zombie Novella, and despite being extremely tempted to stay up reading all night, I reluctantly put the book down at 11pm and returned to it the next day. By mid afternoon on Sunday I'd finished the 180+ page novella. 

I simply hadn't been able to put the book down. I'm not normally interested in Novella's if I'm honest. I can count the number I've read on one hand. There's just something about them that doesn't appeal to me. But now I'm thinking I just haven't read the right ones. This novella was fast-paced, had the speed and momentum of a short story and yet still maintained the breadth of character and well-developed plot that you usually only find in the best novels.

The heroine of the novel, Kat Lightfoot is instantly likable. You can tell from the moment you meet her that there's more to this woman than being a shop girl at Tiffany's. She's beyond her time. She's destined for something. I like heroines like that. They're few and far between in horror literature these days, gradually being replaced with weak women in need of rescuing by Supernaturally powerful men. Sam Stone doesn't go there with her literature. She's all for empowering her female characters. It makes her books much more interesting reads.

I'm being careful not to reveal too much of the plot here, but the Zombies in this Novella are brilliant, a real surprise. They jump off the page, feel real, in that, this could really happen kind of way. And there's a whole aspect to do with cats that I thought was really inspired.

For anybody who hasn't read any of Sam Stone's books yet, this is a brilliant introduction to her work. Everybody, go out and buy it. If not for yourself, then as a Christmas present for the Horror fan in your life.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Meeting Sam Stone

A couple of years ago on one of my frequent trips into Waterstones to browse for books to add to my ever-growing "to-be-read" pile, I met Sam Stone. Living in Liverpool, I have two Waterstones to shop in, but for some reason I always seem to browse the Liverpool One store. I like it's quirky little signposts and it's openness. It feels bigger and I feel as though I could stay in there for hours. Maybe it reminds me of being a kid and bookstores seeming like huge, interesting spaces to get lost in. Anyway, I digress...
from Sam Stone's Goodreads

This particular day, as I reached the top of the escalator, I saw this really cool looking woman sitting at one of those little tables that bookstores set up for visiting writers. She had blond and purple hair and was wearing a corset and she was sitting next to a display of Vampire books. Of course I had to investigate. What I discovered was an amazingly friendly woman who wrote the kind of vampire literature that appeals to me (ie Vampires do not sparkle in the sunlight and do not suffer from severe bouts of teen angst despite being 103 years old). Sam had four books on sale that day, the first three books in her 'Vampire Gene' series and her book of short stories 'Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings'. Usually I wouldn't risk buying that many books by an author I've never read before but something told me I was going to like Sam's work and I really was not disappointed. I read all four books in what must have been less than two weeks (I was going through a period of devouring books at the time) and was sorry to close the last page on the world she had created for me.

When she returned to Liverpool with the fourth book in her series, 'Hateful Heart', I turned out to see her and get my signed copy and devoured that straight away. And now, after waiting what feels like an eternity, I have in my possession the fifth book in the series, 'Silent Sand' and Sam's new novella, 'Zombies at Tiffany's'. These books have been on sale for a while now and while it's been a torturous wait, I didn't want to just order the books from her publisher or buy them from Waterstones. I wanted to wait until she was there in person so that I could get my signed copies. It feels like a little ritual now. Maybe I'm just strange but it makes the experience of reading the book more interesting when you've been handed it by the author herself.

The really great thing about Sam is that she really makes an effort to connect with her fans. She has a heavy presence on facebook and twitter and takes the time to respond to messages that are sent to her. Remember when I was in hospital the other week? When she found out I was stuck in hospital, Sam kept me entertained for those few days, chatting to me on facebook, taking the time to find out how I was each day and see if I was feeling any better. Even once I was out of the hospital, she still messaged me to ask how I was doing. That kind of kindness always surprises me, I know it shouldn't but I think big readers like me, who read voraciously tend to see writers more how other people see TV stars. So for me it was a big deal. So it was really great to see Sam today in person. I got a big hug and got told that I looked well, which gave me a boost because I know I've been looking pretty crummy lately with the meds and stuff but I do actually feel like I look better today. Maybe it's the Epilim kicking in? 

We chatted and gossipped for ages about the amount of celebrity "literature" being published these days and when Sam told me that Waterstone's had actually forgotten that she was coming today, I was pretty astounded. It seems they were more preoccupied with the TOWIE "celeb" launching some excuse for a book in their store this morning than they were with the real writer who has been tirelessly promoting her own books in their stores for years. The store managed to find the promotional poster and copies of most of Sam's books but had no copies of 'Zombies at Tiffany's' in the store. Luckily Sam and her partner David had a car-boot full of copies as they were heading off to another signing event in Newcastle. But if they hadn't had those? Bad form Waterstones, bad form...

Anyway, I will be dropping everything to read these two new books, seeing as I've waited so long. And I recommend that you all go and check out Sam Stone's books right now. And I mean that, you need these books in your life. 

You can check out Sam's blog here, where you can also order her books.
And you can find out more about Sam's books on her Goodreads Page.

Sam Stone's latest books and the "ironic" postcard I picked up as I was paying at the till

I'll agree with that!

A lovely message :)

The signed limited edition card I got with 'Zombies at Tiffany's'

An amazing idea. A business card for Lilly (my favourite character from 'The Vampire Gene' series)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What I've Been Reading:
'Greenwitch' by Susan Cooper

The five-volume copy I'm reading
The title-page for 'Greenwitch'

I've had this five-volume copy of 'The Dark is Rising Sequence' by Susan Cooper on my bookcase for 14 years. My much older cousin bought it for me as a twelfth birthday present and it's sat there un-read ever since. I've always intended to read it and just never gotten around to it. But when we went on holiday to Majorca a few weeks ago I packed it as something different to read by the pool, and I'm so slad I did. 

'Greenwitch' is the third book in the sequence and usually I struggle to read more than two or three books in a series before I need a break but I know I'm going to go straight on to the next book in the volume, 'The Grey KIng'. Basically, I need to know what's going to happen.

The series was written in the 1970's and yet I haven't had that strange feeling that you sometimes get when you read older literature. You know what I mean, like when you're reading C.S Lewis and it's very obvious when the books were written. These books feel a little bit more timeless to me. Maybe it's just me, I don't know, or maybe it's the subject matter. Anyway, I would definitely recommend this series, or what I've read of it so far. I'm hoping the next two books live up to my expectations and that the conclusion doesn't fail me.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Love of My Life


I am in love with books

I own a ridiculous amount of them. 
I can't bear to part with the ones I've read. 
And even when my shelves are over-flowing with un-read books, I still can't resist buying more.
Luckily, my girlfriend understands that we are in a 3-way relationship with my books. She's even added a whole load of her own to my collection.

My perfect lazy afternoon is curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate and a good book. 
And I love taking my book to bed, reading until my eyes get gritty with sleep.
There's always a book in my bag and I'll pull it out and read in the strangest of places. Even when I'm cooking!

Books are a huge part of my life. 
And one day, I hope my own book will be an important part of somebody elses life.