Monday, June 29, 2015

The Winners of The Literary Connoisseur Week of Giveaways!


What a wonderful way to spend my 2nd Bloggerversary! I hope you had as much fun as me. I'll make this quick, so you can find out who won all of the giveaways from my event! I want to thank my family, my friends (who text me and message me now and then just to ask how my blog is going), my authors, my friend Jennie, who suggested I become a book-reviewer in the first place, my friend Denise, who set me up with my very own blog and website, and the very first author to ask me to review their books, Juli Page Morgan. Without you, I literally could not have made it to two years old. You keep me going, so let's all look forward to many more years of The Literary Connoisseur!

And now, it's time to announce all of the winners! If you didn't win this time, not to worry. There will be many more giveaways in The Literary Connoisseur's (and her Lit-Wits') future!

Giveaway #1 (Amazon gift card) goes to...MARIAN YOUNG!

Giveaway #2 goes to...PATRICIA SMITH (who wins a copy of The Cure), MELISSA ADKINS (who wins a copy of The Blackout), RENATE HENTSCHEL RAPP (who wins a copy of The Dead Room), and JENNIFER STASSI SAMPSON (who wins a copy each of Unseen and Unforgiven)!

Giveaway #3 (Book Scents Candle of winner's choice) goes to...SARA DOYLE!

Giveaway #4 (miscellaneous signed swag/goodies) goes to...APRIL WARREN!

Giveaway #5 (ecopy of Oblivion by Joshua Ryan Ogg) goes to...ANDREA KESTER!

Giveaway #6 (signed Tami Lynne book of winner's choice and bookmark) goes to...AMANDA MAXWELL!

Giveaway #7 (HerShelves Elves mini elf) goes to...KRISTY WILLIAMSON JACKSON!

Giveaway #8 (ecopy of Lindy Zart's Ordinary) goes to...STACIE CHAPMAN!

Giveaway #9 (Michaela Book Scents Candle) goes to...MICHELE M. ORTIZ!

Giveaway #10 (signed blind book date book) goes to DAVID HANKERSON!

Giveaway #11 (ecopy of You Don't Think She is by Max Shenk) goes to...AMBER DOVER!

Giveaway #12 (signed copy of Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri and Lemongrass Hope Book Scents Candle) goes to...BRITTANY RENEA!

Giveaway #13 (winner's choice of signed copy of Atancia by Wren Figueiro, or set of ebooks of Atancia and For Atancia) goes to...SUSAN CAPUTO FINAN!

Giveaway #14 (ARCs and swag donated by The Vero Beach Book Center bookstore) goes to...ERIN ESPOSITO!

Giveaway #15 (set of signed paperback copies of Dragon Fate and Dragon Blade by J.D. Hallowell, and set of ebooks of Dragon Fate and Dragon Blade) goes to...RACHEL DESPINS!

Giveaway #16 (signed copy of So Far Gone by J. Wright) goes to...LAUREN BECKNELL!

Giveaway #17 (Amazon ebook of winner's choice up to $2.99) goes to...KATE BOBB!

Giveaway #18 (book from K&B Adventures in Books up to $20) goes to...BECKY LEWIS!

Giveaway #19 (surprise paperback book) goes to...WENDY JAMES!

Giveaway #20 (book necklace made by The Literary Connoisseur's mama) goes to...MELISSA JOHNSTON MILES!

Giveaway #21 (signed copy of The Things They Created by Tim O'Brien) goes to...RACHELLE S. LITZENBERG!

CONGRATULATIONS, WINNERS!!! Please PM me on Facebook with your information, and I will send it right on to the one responsible for your prize!

If you didn't win this time, please don't worry. There will be more celebration, more giveaways, and more fun soon!

My very best wishes to you all, and thank you SO much for contributing, joining the event, and celebrating my 2nd Bloggerversary with me!! XOXO


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dudley and the Toy Keeper's Chest by Patrick Algermissen

  I haven't had much history with reviewing children's books, but thanks to the wonderful experience I've just had, I may have to start making it a regular occurrence.
  Reading Patrick Algermissen's Dudley and the Toy Keeper's Chest has awakened the child in me and reminded me of how magical children's books can be. I mean, think about it. These are the books that open the majesty that is the literary world to young readers, and starts the love affair with books that will last a lifetime.
  Dudley and the Toy Keeper's Chest is pure wonder. As soon as I started this wonderful little book, I was immediately sucked into Dudley's story with the hope that he, and the other toys, escape the evil clutches of Silas, a wooden wolf toy. This book made me want to transport into the Toy Keeper's shop and get lost for hours and hours discovering new toys to play with.
  Any child who is lucky enough to pick up this book will be transfixed with Patrick Algermissen's words and Kristen Pauline's gorgeous illustrations. (I know I was, and I am almost in my twenties.)
  But if there's one thing Mr Algermissen's Dudley and the Toy Keeper's Chest has taught us, is that the magic of a truly captivating children's book will stay with us forever.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Unforgiven by Stephanie Erickson

  Oh, boy. I don't think I've waited for a book like this to come out in quite a while. Ever since I read, finished, and LOVED Stephanie Erickson's Unseen, I have been anxiously waiting for Unforgiven, book two in the series.
  But thankfully, my wait is over! (Actually my wait was over a few days ago, because I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy from Ms Erickson, so really I am one lucky duck.) 
  I think, although I was excited for this book to come out, there was a part of me that was afraid book two wouldn't be as magical as book one. It wouldn't capture my attention, and I would simply fall out of love with the series (which has actually happened before with some series that should have stayed novels, IMO). 
  I was wrong. Very, very wrong. 
  In Unforgiven, Mackenzie, "Mac," Day is heartbroken after some terrible news that she received at the end of Unseen. But Mac's sadness quickly turns to anger against the ones responsible for this tragedy, and the Unseen's enemy, the Potestas. 
  This is where we are when we begin Unforgiven. 
  This book was beautiful. It's odd to call it beautiful, because this book does start an all out war between the Unseen and the Potestas, but it just is. In Unforgiven, we get a first hand insight into the minds of mind readers, the walls they build up to protect their defenses, and the dark secret each Unseen has been hiding since the day of their initiation. 
  The way Ms Erickson created this universe of the Unseen is phenomenal. It's books like Stephanie Erickson's that renew your love of reading and remind you of why you became a reader in the first place. You read books like Unforgiven, and this wonderful, magical world surrounds you, and you think, "Yes. This is right where I need to be." 

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

An Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author, Darren Shan

It seems as if it were only yesterday that I was browsing the aisles of Books-A-Million (my local bookstore chain), searching for books, any books, by Darren Shan. (This was about six years ago, or so.) One of my closest friends had recently suggested Mr Shan's work to me, and as soon as I finished the last page of his book, A Living Nightmare, I needed more. 

  Needless to say, my thirst for Darren Shan's written word has not ceased, and I still look out for more of his work to devour. 

  That's where the love affair with his books started. I was a young, impressionable bookworm, and I was looking for "WOW" books to keep me hooked. Thankfully I could rely on Darren Shan to supply me with reading material. The more books he came out with, the more I read, and the more I fell in love. 
  Now, as a full-fledged Darren fan, I am beyond words to express my excitement. 

  After two years of blogging (only twenty-four more days until my two-year Bloggerversary), I had built up the courage to ask Darren Shan to do an interview about his books. And guess what. 

  He said he would be happy to. 

  When I said I am beyond words to express my excitement, I meant it. I am not only thrilled and ecstatic to do this interview with Darren Shan, I am truly honored.

  But I digress...If I continue to ramble on about my feelings about this interview, I will never actually ever get to the interview! 

So, without further ado...

My Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author, Darren Shan: 

The Literary Connoisseur: Welcome to The Literary Connoisseur, Darren! Thank you so much for stopping by and answering some questions about your work, and your life as a bestselling author. If you're ready, let's begin. Tell us a bit about your books. 

Darren Shan: I write for YA (as Darren Shan) and adults (as Darren Dash). My books are a mix of genres, but tend to get sold primarily as horror books, because they do delve quite deeply into the darkness!

The Literary Connoisseur: At what point of your life did you know you were meant to be a writer? 

Darren Shan: I wanted to be a writer since I was 5 or 6 years old, which is when I realised I was good at telling stories. But I suppose I was 12 or 13 when I consciously made the decision to devote myself to pursuing writing as a career.

The Literary Connoisseur: Do you have a favorite thing about being an author? 

Darren Shan: Meeting or corresponding with my fans. It sounds corny but it's true!

The Literary Connoisseur: How did the plots to the Cirque Du Freak series, the Demonata series, and the Zom-B series come to you? 

Darren Shan: With Cirque Du Freak, I was sitting in a car one day, babysitting a sleeping cousin, and I started thinking about what it would be like if a young boy ran into a vampire at a circus. The Demonata all began with a poem about its main villain, Lord Loss -- I wrote the poem several years before the book, and just couldn't shake the character of Lord Loss from my thoughts; I felt that I had unfinished business with him, and I was right! With Zom-B, I wanted to write a book about the dangers of racism and not taking a stand against hatemongers, and zombies just seemed like the best way to do that.

The Literary Connoisseur: Do you have a favorite out of all of the books you've written? 

Darren Shan: The Thin Executioner, a surprisingly sweet fantasy tale about a boy who wants to chop off heads for a living when he grows up!

The Literary Connoisseur: What would you like to say to your devoted fans?

Darren Shan: I love you every bit as much as you love me!

The Literary Connoisseur: Would you say you've connected to certain characters that you've written more than others? If so, who? 

Darren Shan: I feel attached to all of my main characters (even the bad guys) but Mr Crepsley is my favourite out of all the ones I have created.

The Literary Connoisseur: All of your books have an irresistible and creepy story that chills you to the bone--what made you choose the horror genre to write? Or did it choose you? 

Darren Shan: I think it chose me. I always say to young writers to write the sort of stories they would like to read, and I've always been drawn to dark, edgy tales.

The Literary Connoisseur: Are there any new and exciting projects you're working on? 

Darren Shan: I'm almost at the end of my Zom-B series -- book 11, Zom-B Fugitive goes on sale in September, and book 12 next March or April. I've already started work on my new series, but I can't say anything about it yet, as it's still at a very early stage. And I plan to release another book for adults under the Darren Dash banner next year -- but I have a few to choose from, and I'm just trying to figure out which to plump for.

The Literary Connoisseur: Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

Darren Shan: My most recent release is a fast-paced, full-on horror book for adults called Sunburn, which went on sale at the start of May. It's been drawing rave reviews, so I heartily recommend it to all of my older fans. (As a rough guide, I'd say 16 years upwards, though I was reading Stephen King books when I was 11 or 12, so I never like to forbid any of my books to my more adult-minded younger readers!)

About Darren Shan: 

Darren Shan's real name is Darren O’Shaughnessy. Although he is Irish, he was born on July 2, 1972, in St. Thomas’ Hospital, London — directly across the river from the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, which may explain his fascination with evil bloodsuckers! He lived in South East London, near the Elephant & Castle. He started school at the early age of three (he was such a wild child, no pre-school facility would have him!), in English Martyrs. At the age of six, he moved to Limerick in Ireland, with his parents and younger brother, and has lived there ever since.

Darren went to primary school in Askeaton, where his mother was a teacher, then to secondary school in Copsewood College in Pallaskenry. Later, he went back to London to study Sociology and English at Roehampton University. He then worked for a cable television company in Limerick for a couple of years, before setting up as a full-time writer at the age of 23.

Although Darren always wanted to be a writer, it was only in his teenage years that he began writing in his spare time for fun (before that, he only wrote stories if they were for homework). He bought his first typewriter when he was 14, and never looked back, knocking out loads of short stories and comic scripts, and making false starts on several books, which he never completed. He enjoyed his first taste of literary success at age 15, as a runner-up in a television script-writing competition for RTE in Ireland, with a dark comedy script titled "A Day in the Morgue" (he was morbid even then!).

Darren was 17 when he finished his first novel. Although it was never published, he relished the writing experience, and found himself focusing more on novels in the coming years, leaving behind the short-story format. For the next several years, sandwiched between university and work, he wrote an average of one book a year, experimenting with different ideas, genres, lengths and styles. When he started writing full-time, his output shot up to 5 to 6 books per year! But that has dropped back to 2 to 3 recently, due to all the travelling around he’s been doing to promote sales of his books.

All of these early books were adult-oriented. Although Darren quite liked the idea of writing a children’s book one day, he considered himself an adult writer first and foremost. In fact his initial breakthrough was with an adult book, in February 1999, called "Ayuamarca" (later republished as "Procession of the Dead"), the first of a trilogy of books known as "The City". That was followed by "Hell's Horizon" in February 2000. Then, several years later, when the first two were re-edited and re-released, he published the third book, "City of the Snakes".

In January 2000 Darren's first children’s book, "Cirque du Freak", which he’d written as a fun side-project, was published. The first book in a series titled "The Saga of Darren Shan" (or "Cirque du Freak" as it’s known in America), it attracted rave reviews and an ever-growing army of fans hungry to learn more about vampires which were quite unlike any that anyone had ever seen before!

Darren loved writing for children so much that for the next several years he focused almost exclusively on his books for younger readers. First, he wrote a total of twelve books about vampires. He quickly followed up his vampiric saga with "The Demonata," a series about demons. Running to ten books in total, "The Demonata" cemented Darren Shan’s place as the Master Of Children’s Horror, and saw him score his first UK #1 bestsellers. He also wrote a one-off short book, called "Koyasan", for World Book Day in the UK in 2006.

There was a very successful manga adaptation of Darren’s vampire series, drawn by the Japanese artist, Takahiro Arai. It was originally serialized in Japan, but collected volumes are now on sale in the USA, UK and other countries.

Darren followed up "The Demonata" with a one-off fantasy book called "The Thin Executioner", which he has cited as his favourite book that he has so far written. After that he wrote a four book series called "The Saga of Larten Crepsley," telling the background story of Mr Crepsley, covering the two hundred years of his life before we first saw him in "Cirque Du Freak."

Next up for teenagers, Darren is writing a twelve book series called "Zom-B." Little has been revealed about it so far, except the books will be short and released swiftly, every three months in the UK and USA. The first book is due to go on sale in late September or early October 2012.

In addition to writing for children, Darren has now returned to his first love and is once again writing for adults as well. He has had three adult books ("The City Trilogy") published to date, with a new, one-off thriller with supernatural tones scheduled for release in the UK in 2012, called "Lady of the Shades."

By the start of 2012, Shan’s books were on sale in every continent, in 39 countries, in 31 languages, and have been children’s bestsellers in America, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and other countries. The books have topped adult bestseller charts in Hungary, Japan and Taiwan. In total, Shan’s books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide!!!!

The movie rights to Cirque Du Freak were bought by Universal, and a movie (which combines elements from the first three books in the series) was released on October 23rd, 2009, starring newcomer Chris Massoglia as Darren Shan, along with a wide array of established stars such as Josh Hutcherson, John C Reilly, Salma Hayek, Willem Defoe and Ken Watanabe. The movie was called "Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant". It did not do well at the box office and there are no current plans to release any sequels.

A big film buff, with a collection of more than four thousand movies at home, Darren also reads lots of comics and books, and likes to study and collect original artwork, especially comic art, impressionist and post-impressionist art, modern art, and sculptures. Other interests include long walks, watching football (he’s a Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland fan), listening to pop and rock music, theatre, worldwide travel, sampling the delights of both gourmet cuisine and finger-licking junk food, and dreaming up new ways to terrify his readers!!!

Darren spends most of his time in Limerick, Ireland, with his girlfriend Bas. He has no pets, but a neighbourhood dog called Goldie joins him on his walks most days. He also feeds a variety of wild birds, and spots the occasional hare and pheasant strolling through his back yard. In addition to his main home in Ireland, Darren has an apartment in London, to which he escapes for a burst of high-speed living every so often, when he feels the need to get his juices flowing!! Darren only rarely writes when in London or on the road, preferring to tie himself to his computer when at home in Limerick, where he can work away solidly without any distractions in the peace and quiet of the Irish countryside.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions and Interviews sections for more facts about Darren and his books -- you can find links to the top left of this biography.

Be sure to check out Darren's latest release, Sunburn!

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