GUEST BLOG: Jennifer Niven on the inspiration behind her new novel ‘All The Bright Places’

jennifer niven

Author Jennifer Niven

I wrote All the Bright Places the summer of 2013, following the death of my literary agent. The last time I saw him, I was nearing the end of a series of books I’d begun writing in 2008 and was feeling depleted. He told me, “Whatever you write next, write it with all your heart. Write it because you can’t imagine writing anything else.”

Years ago, I knew and loved a boy, and that boy was bipolar. I witnessed up-close the highs and lows, the Awake and the Asleep, and I saw his daily struggle with the world and with himself. The experience of knowing him—and losing him—was life-changing. I’d always wanted to write about it, but I wasn’t convinced I would ever be able to.

That summer of 2013, I thought again about this boy and that experience, and I knew in my heart it was the story I wanted to write. Issues like teen mental health aren’t always talked about openly, even though we need to talk about them. I’d never felt as if I was allowed to grieve for this boy I loved because of how he died. If I was made to feel that way after losing him, imagine how hard it was for him to find help and understanding when he was alive.

After I decided to work on the story, I thought of a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t. All these years later, it was still too painful. And there was another doubt in the back of my mind. When I was a screenwriting student at the American Film Institute, the main criticism I got from my fellow writers was that I didn’t put enough of myself in the stories I wrote. They wondered if I would ever be able to truly open up on paper. Novelist Paul Gallico once said, “It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader.” But it’s not always easy to bleed so publically.

9780141357034When I sat down to write the first chapter of All the Bright Places, I told myself I would just see what happened. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to write anything at all. And then I heard Finch’s first line: Is today a good day to die? And I saw him up on the ledge of his high school bell tower, his classmates down below, the same ones who called him “Theodore Freak.” And then suddenly, Violet was there too, on the other side of the ledge, the popular girl, frozen and needing help.

For the next few weeks, I barely left my desk. The story of this boy and this girl who went from that bell tower ledge to wandering their state—seeing every out-of-the-ordinary site, making it lovely, leaving something behind—flooded right out.

In just six weeks, the book was born. I like to say it’s the book I was writing in my head for the past several years without knowing I was writing it.

My mother, Penelope Niven, was an author as well. She used to say, “You have to be able to write in spite of everything. You have to be able to write because of everything.” In other words, you need to be willing to bleed onto the page, knowing that you will have something on paper which is real and honest. More so than any of my previous books, All the Bright Places proved to me I could do that.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


9780141357034All the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I’m broken, and no one can fix it.

Violet Markey us devastated by her sister’s death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.

They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves . . .

I send a message to Violet: ‘You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.’

You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here

Scott Blackwood, author of See How Small, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Scott Blackwood

author of See How Small

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in the state of Arkasas, in the same small town, El Dorado, where Charles Portis, who wrote True Grit and a number of other great books, was born. My family moved around quite a bit. Memphis, Tennessee, Oklahoma. But I lived much of my life in Texas—first the Dallas area and later Austin, where I found a real home. I remember thinking that I’d been looking for this place all along, where it was okay to be a little different, to even aspire to be a writer or musician. I’m not sure it would have happened had I not moved there to go to school at the University of Texas in the mid-eighties. It was liberating to be around other people who’d take chances and pursue things that weren’t at all lucrative or safe. People who were willing to pursue an improvisational life, of sorts. That was very new to me and had a profound effect, even if my talents hadn’t really sufaced yet.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was nine, I read a lot of Marvel Comics and suspected I had super powers that simply hadn’t surfaced yet—incredible reflexes, strength, eyesight, something. I was waiting patiently. So I practiced super heroing in the woods, beating on old tires, swinging on ropes. Just readying myself to defend suburban Dallas,Texas from petty criminals.

But by the time I was twelve, it occurred to me that girls would think I was even stranger than I was if I kept this thing up. So I became fixated, instead, on being a professional baseball player (more socially acceptable yet equally as far fetched).

Finally, in college, having failed at those things, I turned to something maybe even more impractical, writing fiction. I wasn’t very good at it at first. But being a glutton for punishment, I kept at it until it would have me.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Scott Blackwood

Love conquers all.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Works of fiction—Hemingway’s stories from In Our Time, Alice Munro’s The Progress of Love and Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From and years later One Hundred Years of Solitude, Moby Dick, Light In August, Marilynnn Robinson’s Housekeeping.

Music—I listened to a lot of traditional Texas music and innovative music when I was in Austin in the 80s and early 90s, inspiring stuff mostly made by people roughly my own age.  Film—Richard Linklater’s first film, Slacker, which was set in Austin, Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire. Jarmusch’s early films.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

To be honest, I don’t think I had numerous avenues—it’s the rare person who has multiple talents. I grew into a novelist because I fooled myself long enough, incrementally enough, about my abilities, so that my confidence grew proportional to the task. The novel form intimidated me for the longest time—it seemed so unwieldy. I struggled at first because I thought a novel in stories was the same thing, that I could stay in my comfort zone but then I hit a wall. I realized a novel is about rhythms (because we are about rhythms too), and what affects us as readers are the rhythms of  interweaving story threads. And the weave gets tighter and tighter and vibrates more and more.

I once heard the Kentucky writer James Still describe, when he was a boy, hearing this wonderful music from a basement window that he thought was Bach but but when he looked through the window, it was coming from a giant mechanical loom. It’s archaic but it still works as metaphor because we think in story threads, through lines. So when I figured out  how this great weave works—and could see this overlaying, hear the rhythms of all that coming together in other people’s novels—I was finally able to take what I was doing in the shorter form  for a larger cumulative effect, a momentous push, a thrumming rhythm, as in a novel. It was a revelation to me.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

It’s a heartbreaker, I think, this book, See How Small. But I mean this in the best way. It’s about the aftermath of the brutal murder of three teenage girls in an Austin, Texas ice cream shop— the deep sense of loss but also the ways we make emotional sense of that loss, to transend it. How evil acts—atrocities—can strip us of this sense-making if we allow them to. These kinds of random acts are more with us now than ever—for instance, the Newtown massacre two years ago at the school in New York—and hit at the heart of who we are and want to be. My characters struggle against this, try to tell their own stories in the face of it, including the girls themselves, whose stories have been taken from them by the killers and even inadvertently by the community itself, which now only remember them as victims. I should say that See How Small was inspired by an actual murder in 1991 in Austin, Texas that remains unsolved, a crime I’ve been haunted by for many years. 

Grab a copy of Scott’s new novel See How Small here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I want them to be changed by it, to feel, a sense of wonder about things, about life, and a sense of terror, too, at times. That all of this together—wonder and terror—is in the world and that’s as it should be, as it’s always been. It’s not a comfort book but I do think it’s a book that celebrates life and its mystery, which is intimately tied to loss and death.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

My favourite living writer is Denis Johnson. If you haven’t read it, I can’t tell you how great a book like Train Dreams is. He gives us so little—the book isn’t much more than a 100 pages—yet the whole world’s inside it. It reaches back, as E.M. Forster said about truly great books.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To link all of my work together as Faulkner tried to do so that they are parts of one great weave. And like every writer worth his or her salt, I’d like my writing to have some kind of half-life. Somewhere in his amazing (and very long) novel 2666, the Chilean writer Roberto Bolano has one of his characters say that we forget sometimes that really great works are not easy, not symmetrical, that they even fight their authors. It’s always the heavyweight bouts that bring back the news from that other world. The writing that readers will to turn to again and again. Moby Dick, say, or A Hundred Years of Solitude. The rest are only sparring.  

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Well, one of the accidental advantages I had as a young writer was having children early: When I was 25. I had to make all my writerly choices count because there really couldn’t be any backtracking—there was no time for that. So I began to think about how all my work could fit together, how characters, if they were interesting enough, might be brought back in another work, broaden the scope of what I was trying to do. How a sense of place fits into this. How I was always writing out of the same themes—what separates us also draws us together. It only occurred to me later that this is how to create a fictional universe that resonates, make the sum worth more than its parts. This is a writer’s vision and it’s at least as important as talent. Maybe more so.

There are a lot of talented writers out there. But if you know where you are, what you’re working towards, how to fit it together, then no matter what happens around you—the publishing world in flux, personal setbacks—you’re still connected to your life’s work, which for me was trying to make something beautiful and lasting. In other words, don’t chase after the market, “what’s selling,” because that’s totally ephemeral. Ask maybe instead: if someone had a gun to my head, what would I write? The gun to all of our heads is time, of course. And there’s always less of it than you think.

Scott, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of See How Small


See How Small

by Scott Blackwood

Virgin Suicides meets Lovely Bones.

It begins one summer evening in a small Texas town. Two men walk into an ice cream shop shortly before it closes. They bind the three teenager girls working behind the counter. They set fire to the shop. They disappear. This horrific, mysterious crime is the subject of Scott Blackwood’s new novel.

Loosely based on the 1991 Yogurt Shop Murders in Austin, Texas, See How Small explores a community’s reactions to the brutal and seemingly random murder of these three girls. It is told through the perspectives of the community’s survivors, witnesses, suspects, and yes, the deceased girls. Among the people we meet is Jack Dewey, the fireman who ran into the burning building and discovered the girls’ bodies, and whose life becomes haunted by the girls’ memory. We see Kate Ulrich, the mother of two murdered girls, who finds that in fighting the community’s need to narrate her life in light of the murders, she’s also losing her connection to the girls’ lives. A suspect in the murders, Michael Greer, now with a daughter of his own, is haunted by his inadvertent participation in it and his brother’s earlier tragic death. And Rosa Heller, an investigative journalist who tries to piece together the mystery by interviewing involved people, becomes lost in the community’s false memories and lies and regrets. Above everything else is the girls’ shared narration as they watch over the community during the five years following their deaths, as they attempt to comfort their town.

See How Small will remind readers of the paradoxical promises of security and belonging, remembering and forgetting, and our collective need to both obscure and name evil. It is a short, powerful novel.

About the Author

Scott Blackwood is the author of three books of fiction, including the forthcoming novel See How Small. Blackwood was a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award recipient and his first novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here, set in the Deep Eddy Neighborhood of Austin, Texas, won the AWP Prize for the Novel, Texas Institute of Letters Award for best work of fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN USA Award. His first book was the award-winning story collection, In the Shadows of Our House, published in 2001.

 Grab a copy of See How Small

VIDEO: John Flanagan tells us the difference between Vikings and Skandians

scorpion-mountain-order-your-signed-copy-Scorpion Mountain: Brotherband Series Book 5

by John Flanagan

When the worlds of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband cross over, action and adventure are guaranteed!

King Duncan of Araluen has an urgent mission for Hal and the Heron Brotherband. One assassination attempt on Princess Cassandra was foiled. But the killers won’t be satisfied until they have fulfilled their honour-bound duty.

The Herons, along with Ranger Gilan, set off for Arrida. There they must track the cult of killers across the desert, and infiltrate the cult’s mountain lair to find their leader – and stop him. But the giant assassin isn’t the only threat they will face. There is a seaside battle looming, and the Herons are called upon to help an old friend of Araluen in his fight.

Trapped in an unfamiliar land, their forces split between searing hot land and treacherous seas, can the Herons complete their mission – before the killers find their royal target?

Click here to grab a copy of Scorpion Mountain here

Ruthie May, author of Count My Christmas Kisses, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Ruthie May

author of Count My Christmas Kisses, Stew a Cockatoo and Count My Kisses, Little One

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia until my father dragged the family across the Nullarbor when I was 15 for bigger things out East. I finished high school and went to University in Sydney and haven’t really ever left.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At age 12 I dreamed of one day running my own newspaper and dating Spike from Press Gang – the thought of sitting around talking about what stories were important and which weren’t seemed wonderful to me, and Dexter Fletcher was just so witty and respectful of Julia Sawalha; at age 18 I wanted to be an academic historian – I was studying history and loved it, I still do; at age 30 I wanted to be a lady of leisure – it seemed so appealing.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Ruthie May

I believed that life would take a linear, logical course.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Itsy-Bitsy Babies by Margaret Wild & Jan Ormerod; The Millennium Book of Myth and Story by Maurice Saxby & John Winch; & The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a picture book? 

There is so much delight to be had in a picture book – you only need to sit down and read to children to discover that. You can see the world open up to a child right before your very eyes. To be able to create those experiences is a total joy.

6. Please tell us about your latest picture book…

My latest picture book is a follow up book to a book I wrote a number of years ago called Count My Kisses, Little One. They appear to be counting books, but they are really about smooching and the affection small children have for new babies.

Grab a copy of Ruthie’s new book Count My Christmas Kisses here

 

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

A warm fuzzy feeling.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

In the realm of children’s picture writing, I’ve always admired Margaret Wild who knows how to write for babies and toddlers like no other, and Jan Ormerod, who was also a great expert in writing and illustrating for small children.  If you read their books, it doesn’t take long to see what great observers they are of life in the small lane.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To continue writing picture books that keep the interest and imagination of toddlers alive; books that when the reading comes to a close the toddler says, ‘again’, and mum or dad or the loved one has to read it over and over. Sorry grown-ups. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t be one of those people who read children’s books and say ‘I could have written that’ – you didn’t – but you could – if you sit down and give it a try.

Ruthie, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Count My Christmas Kisses


Count My Christmas Kisses

by Ruthie May, Tamsin Ainslie (Illustrator)

From the creators of the beautiful Count My Kisses, Little One comes another delightful book, perfect for the festive season.

One kiss for baby, under mistletoe. Two kisses for baby, catching falling snow.

2010’s Count My Kisses, Little One was an instant hit with Australian littlies and their parents. With Tamsin Ainslie’s adorable illustrations and Ruthie May’s beautiful rhyming text, the book gently introduced young children to the idea of numbers and counting.

The book soon left our shores, and went on to become an international bestseller, with more than 100,000 copies sold worldwide. Now, Ruthie and Tamsin are back with Count My Christmas Kisses – a gorgeous new picture book, perfect for the holiday season.

About the Author

Ruthie May was born in Perth, Western Australia. She is the published author of Count My Kisses, Little One and Stew a Cockatoo: My Aussie Cookbook illustrated by Leigh Hobbs. Ruthie immerses herself in stories for both children and grown-ups, but prefers stories where age doesn’t matter..

 Grab a copy of Count my Christmas Wishes

SERIES: The Incompetent Cook takes on Quinoa with Adam Liaw

Could Adam Liaw be the cook who drags our Incompetent Cook, Andrew Cattanach into kitchen competency? Adam is very patient with Andrew. He takes his time. Speaks clearly and demonstrates his techniques as simply as possible. But first things first – can he teach Andrew how to say Quinoa!?

adam-s-big-pot-order-your-signed-copy-Adam’s Big Pot 

by Adam Liaw

Want simple, healthy and delicious meals? Quickly? Masterchef winner Adam Liaw is back to help!

Adam’s Big Pot is a cookbook for modern families. In his latest cookbook, Adam Liaw shows you how to prepare easy family meals and gives new answers for that age-old question: ‘What’s for dinner?’ In this beautifully photographed cookbook, Adam takes a practical and creative approach to family cooking, creating new flavours from ingredients you already know, all in just one big wok, pan, dish or pot.

From fresh Vietnamese salads and simple South African curries, to Korean grilled pork belly and one-pot Japanese classics, the dishes in Adam’s Big Pot are basic enough for the novice home cook, affordable enough to feed the whole family, and can all be made from basic supermarket ingredients. Whether you’re after easy classics like shaking beef, mee goreng and lamb vindaloo or looking to add new dishes to your repertoire like tiger-skin chicken, snapper rice and Japanese souffle cheesecake, Adam’s Big Pot is your guide to simple, creative family cooking.

 Click here to grab a copy of Adam’s Big Pot

More Episodes of The Incompetent Cook

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What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her recent reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

Lots of romance recently, from rural to historical, sexy contemporary and suspense. Plus a spooky thriller and a brilliantly written true-life crime thrown in to perk things up.


Mr Impossible

by Loretta Chase

This is one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read. Every part of this book was a delight, from the characters to the setting, plot and dialogue. No wonder it’s considered a classic of the genre.

Rupert Carsington has been sent to Egypt by his father in a last ditch attempt to sort him out. But Rupert soon lands in a Cairo jail and no one seems in a hurry to let him out. Until scholarly widow Lady Daphne Pembroke strides in. Daphne’s brother Miles has been kidnapped by a rival who believes Miles holds the key to a fantastic treasure. In an unlikely business alliance, Daphne frees Rupert and together they attempt to rescue Miles. But danger and desert heat seem to have them acting in ways they never imagined.

Truly wonderful. Clever, witty and gorgeously romantic. A not to be missed romance.

Grab a copy of Mr Impossible here


Poppy’s Dilemma

by Karly Lane

Karly Lane is one of my favourite rural romance authors. In Poppy’s Dilemma she’s stretched herself further and written a story with two narratives – one historical, the other contemporary – and it doesn’t disappoint.

Poppy Abbot is a city career-girl, still grieving the loss of her grandmother. When she discovers a diary among her grandmother’s effects written by Maggie Abbot, a relative she’s never heard of, Poppy is intrigued. Beginning before the Great War, the diary unfolds to reveal a wonderful love story between Maggie and a man named Alex, but crucial pages are missing and Poppy hankers to know what happened to the couple. After difficulties arise at work, Poppy escapes to her grandmother’s house in rural Warrial. As she falls into country life, more and more of Maggie’s and Alex’s story is revealed, and with it the feeling that perhaps Poppy’s own life needs reassessment.

Poppy’s Dilemma is a heartfelt book about the tragedy of war, but it’s also mystery, a lesson in what matters most, and an enjoyable romance. Highly recommended.

 Grab a copy of Poppy’s Dilemma here


No More Mr. Nice Guy

by Amy Andrews

This is one hot book! And a hoot to read with lots of sex, snappy dialogue, a vet hero (swoon) and a heroine you want to cheer on.

After a stale long-term relationship breaks down Josie Butler seeks refuge with her best friend. During a drunken night, Josie makes a sex to-do list which is discovered by her friend’s brother Mack. Suddenly these old acquaintances are looking at one another in new ways. Mack and Josie come to an agreement. He’ll help her fulfil her list before she heads overseas, no strings attached. Except neither count on their hearts having other plans.

Great fun!

  Grab a copy of No More Mr. Nice Guy here


The Honeymoon Trap

by Kelly Hunter

This is a short but beautifully formed romance between geeky gamer Eli Jackson and vivacious costume designer Zoe Daniels. Married during an online role-playing game, the ‘newlyweds’ are tricked into sharing a room at a gaming convention by Eli’s brothers. Though this is the first time they’ve met in person, the attraction is fast and it’s clear Eli and Zoe are made for each other. But Zoe has a secret that could change everything.

Loved it. A fun fast read that put a big smile on my face.


The Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House is a book that seems to crop up often whenever scare-the-pants-off-me stories are mentioned. I can’t say it did that to me but it certainly had a few nightmarish moments.

Occult scholar Dr Montague has engaged three others to join him at Hill House, a strangely built house notorious for never retaining tenants. There’s Eleanor, a delicate young woman who’s spent years caring for her invalid mother, Theodora, a free spirited and self sufficient woman, and Luke, heir to Hill House. Plus creepy caretakers Mr and Mrs Dudley, who refuse to stay in the house at night. From the moment the group move in odd events begin occurring. Soon the paranormal activities escalate. The house appears to be drawing energy and focus. And its target is one of them.

One for daytime reading!

Grab a copy of The Haunting of Hill House here


This House of Grief

by Helen Garner

This is a gripping courtroom drama that follows the trials of Robert Farquharson, a man accused of murdering his three children on Father’s Day 2005 by driving his car into a deep dam near Winchelsea in Victoria.

It’s also a heartbreaking story of grief and confusion. How could a loving father do this to his three young boys? How could he hate his ex-wife with that much passion? What made this man act in such a way? Throughout the narrative Garner seeks answers but only one man knows what happened on the road that night and his version – that he blacked out in a rare case of cough syncope – is very hard to swallow.

As with all her books, Garner’s writing is amazing and I was constantly underlining passages. Her descriptions of the players, their characters, her own feelings, are compelling. A study of character and the courts brilliantly related.

Grab a copy of This House of Grief here


In The Bleak Midwinter

by Julia Spencer-Fleming

I adore a juicy crime story and this series has been highly recommended by a couple of writer friends. The premise is certainly hooky, featuring female Episcopalian minister Clare Fergusson who joins forces with Russ Van Alstyne, the married police chief of the Adirondack mountain town of Millers Kill.

Clare is a former army helicopter pilot who retrained as a minister and is new in town. When she discovers a newborn baby on the church steps along with a note that the baby should be adopted by a couple from the congregation, Clare can’t help but become involved in the investigation, and with Russ. And both are dangerous.

Although I picked the murderer fairly early on I enjoyed this mainly for the relationship between Clare and Russ. I can easily see how readers have become invested in the couple and made the series so successful. They’re very likeable and with Russ married and Clare a minister the romantic conflict is clear.

Grab a copy of In The Bleak Midwinter here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

UK NEWS: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) is fastest selling book of the year


The Guardian:
 Girl Online, the first novel by Zoe Sugg AKA “Zoella” has pushed Jeff Kinney’s newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul off the top of the chart as the fastest selling book of the year in the UK.

Zoella’s book, published by Penguin, has also become the fastest selling hardback of 2014 – pretty impressive as it was only published on 25 November.

On hearing the news Zoe said, “It’s such an amazing feeling. I’m so grateful to everyone who has bought a copy of Girl Online. I love that so many of my viewers are enjoying the book! This year has been so exciting and this for sure is the icing on the cake.”

To read more click here


girl-onlineGirl Online

by Zoe Sugg

Girl Online is the stunning debut romance novel by YouTube phenomenon Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella.

I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has – I can’t believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! – and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes . . .

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family – and the panic attacks she’s suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

Click here to grab a copy of Girl Online

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