Author of the day – Stephen King

The first writer that I remember seriously getting into at the age of 15 was Stephen King. I read everything and anything I could find and all the money from my babysitting job was spent on books.  Other kids my age were buying CDs, beer, weed etc, but I just wanted to read, and I wanted to read anything he’d written.

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I was so enamored with ‘Steve’ (as he’s known), that I wrote to him when I was 16 years old, back in 1989. Imagine my immense pleasure and surprise when a big, thick, fat envelope arrived from America, with embossed spideweb gates on the top left hand corner!! It wasn’t a personal letter from the man himself, but a fab letter from his secretary, complete with a short story, some articles and stuff that kept me entertained for hours. And it had come from him own Maine address! I was in heaven.

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In the envelope was also a complete book list. This was before the Internet, you understand. Certain books only printed certain titles, so how could I be sure I got them all? I used that list to buy every book I could get and when my collection was complete, I then played the waiting game.  I bought every book as soon as it came out. I was part of the contingent that widely acknowledged that some books were okay, some were good, some were great and some were works of completely incredible story telling and were called The Stand. Stephen King has the ability to frighten me, but also to take me away into another world so completely and utterly, that sometimes I’d hear a noise and blink back into consciousness, surprised to find myself in Nottingham, England and not in Jerusalem’s Lot. Or Derry, Maine. Or travelling with Larry through the Lincoln Tunnel in New York…

Generally, every story was magic.  Some were sheer brilliance.  Some people are still surprised to find that he penned the novellas, novels and short stories behind the movies Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.  Everyone knows that The Shining, Firestarter and Carrie are his though!

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Around about Gerald’s game, he lost me a little. I just wasn’t enjoying his books as much and something was missing for me. In fact, I started to miss books out and just not bother.  Then, the accident happened.  Steve was hit by a drunk driver and was so close to death that we very nearly did lose him. Once that fear was out of the way, it was then a case of  him nearly losing a leg and fighting to keep it and enduring all the subsequent surgeries.

Around this time., something inside him seemed to changed.  After he gave us the great On Writing,  he went to a darker place and gave us the masterpiece Duma Key. Up until the release of this book, my favourite King novel, hands down had been Firestarter. Duma Key knocked it off the top spot. I read it during the Christmas of 2008 which we spent in the Florida sunshine in a bid to help my mum recover from her intensive Chemotherapy. The novel really spoke to me, really frightened me and I loved it.  After that, he was back on track. He gave us the brilliant 11.22.63 and then the sequel to the Shining, my runner up book of the year, Doctor Sleep.

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There is no stopping this man, his urge to write and the brilliant works he produces, but then, Constant Reader, why would we want to?

My top 5 King books:

  1. Duma Key
  2. Firestarter
  3. The Stand
  4. ‘Salem’s Lot
  5. The Eyes of the Dragon

Also, the entire Dark Tower series.

Recommended links:

Official website UK

Official website Worldwide

Stephen on Wikipedia

Stephen King interactive office

Steve on goodreads

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Author of the day – Jane Austen

After featuring the likes of Neil Gaiman, Marian Keyes and Sarah Addison Allen, it’s time for something else! Something from the world of the classics….

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Jane Austen was smart, witty, observant and did not suffer fools gladly.  Or write about them nicely!  She hasn’t just given us Pride & Prejudice; don’t forget the beautiful tale of 2 sisters in Sense & Sensibility or the story of that spoiled little rich girl Emma growing up and getting over herself.  Then there’s the tale of common Fanny Price coming good in Mansfield Park and the haunting supernatural elements of Northanger Abbey.
Jane’s novels are still cherished to this day because the observations and sentiments within them were spot on and are still relevant now.  Plus, she could tell such a damn good story!

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I enjoy the movies and TV shows created from her novels as they bring her work to a brand new audience.  The audience who want instant gratification and can’t be bothered to real an ‘old’ book.  The type of people who just don’t have the time or inclination to sit and read her novels.

Her works have inspired sequels and further stories, as well as satire novels and guides on how to live your life the Jane Austen way (presumably as a proper lady).

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The fact is that Jane Austen created such memorable stories and characters that we can’t bear to let her creations go off to their happy every afters. I am currently reading Death Comes to Pemberley and the BBC adaptation premieres at Christmas. Lizzy Benntett is still alive and kicking, it seems!

So what was it that made her characters so memorable?  Let’s take Elizabeth Bennett as an example – Lizzy (like Jane Austen) didn’t suffer fools gladly (or at all), or allow anybody to look down on her, undermine her or belittle her.  This includes people far above her rank who had every right (back then) to do so.  Lizzy was a strong, determined, educated woman in a time and place when those qualities were certainly not desirable in a lady.  So we love Jane’s heroines because they aren’t typical of those times and in a way, they’re the underdog and we always root for the underdog! It’s worth noting that Elizabeth Bennett was similar to Jane Austen in a few ways. Jane, who was a writer when she should have been getting married and producing heirs.  Jane, who didn’t live conventionally and actually dared to not like visiting Bath and go against the grain 🙂 I like to think that Jane based Elizabeth upon herself to some extent.

Jane received only a few positive reviews of her works during her lifetime and only became so well loved after a publication in 1869 of her nephew’s A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public. By the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer, and to this day is considered a national treasure.

So yes, a very worthy author of the day! And now, for your viewing pleasure, a selection of Elizabeth & Darcy images.  Enjoy!

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Author of the day – Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen is the author of some of the most readable, magical, sweet, heartfelt books I’ve ever read. Except, there is nothing twee or mushy about her books; each one has an element of magic, but the most basic elements that make a good book are there too – three dimensional characters, a damn good story line and excellent writing.

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Sarah is a cancer survivor and a lover of cats who can’t drive. But man, can she write! She’s also wonderfully active and interactive on Social Media sites – she shares lots with her readers and gives plenty back. Not surprising that she has a wide readership and lots of fans, really.  Her new book, Lost Lake is due out January 21st 2014 and this will be her 5th novel.  Her previous novels are:

Garden Spells
The Sugar Queen
The Girl who chased the Moon
The Peach Keeper

I remember spotting this book on a shelf in my local Supermarket (in the UK), and thinking I would get it and give it a go. So far, I have read Garden Spells about 5 times.

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I have all her other books and I’ll be pre-ordering Lost Lake as soon as I get around to it. That will help cheer me up about going back to work after the holidays!

Anyway, I can truly recommend Sarah Addison Allen. Her website is better than the average author site, packed full of information, links, pretty visuals and facts.  It’s kept up to date with events and news and is well worth a visit.  In the meantime, sink your teeth into one of her books. You’ll be glad you did!

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What do I love most about her website? The gorgeous visuals that have been created for each of her books! Just beautiful.
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Author of the day – Marian Keyes

Author of the day today is Irish writer Marian Keyes.

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Although she often doubts her own epic talents, she’s a fantastic writer whose books are full of warmth, humour and cracking storylines, but sadly (and unfairly) she often seems to get thrown into the ‘chick-lit’ category (as though books aimed at women are bad!). I don’t class her books as chick-lit.  Books that tackle death, loss, addiction, domestic violence, rape and other hard-hitting subjects are to me just books attempting to tell a damn good story about life in general. They don’t deserve the derogatory label of chick-lit and it is a derogatory label, almost as if anything in this category is for bubble headed thick types who can’t handle real books…..anyway, at least they can’t put Saved By Cake into the chick-lit category!!

Marian loves her fans and because of that, we love her.  She Tweets, holds prize raffles, blogs, writes back to you if you write to her and is so lovely if you are lucky enough to meet her at a book signing/reading.  She also loves fashion and beauty and writes lots of lovely beauty columns on her website.  But back to the novel writing!

My favourite books (although I love them ALL) are about The Walsh Sisters.  There are 5 sisters and they each have a book.  The books are funny, brilliant, addictive, fantastically written and each one has been a bestseller.  Here they are in order of how much I love them!

1. Rachel’s Holiday  – Featuring Rachel Walsh.  This is not only my favourite Marian Keyes book but my favourite book of all time.  Yes, it’s that good. Read it and I dare you to not fall in love with Luke Costello, or Rachel’s touching story.  Sheer brilliance.

2. Anybody out there? – Anna Walsh’s story.  If you see the twist coming early, then good for you – it took me awhile and as the penny dropped, I actually gasped out loud to myself and put the book down for a moment to process….

3. Angels – Featuring the oldest sister, Maggie. I love this book because one of the main stars in my beloved City of Angels, LA. I also adore the book because it’s brilliant.

4. The Mystery of Mercy Close – This is the youngest sister’s story – Helen is the prettiest, most sarcastic sister of all but she suffers from debilitating depression…..something Marian can truly write from the heart about.

5. Watermelon – Claire’s story and Marian’s first novel.  I do love the book, but I love the others more! It’s still a cracking place to start with the collection.

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One reason why I find Marian herself so awesome is because of everything this lady has had to deal with and go through and how she has come out the other side, still smiling (most days), still writing (excellently), and still fighting.  She’s battled and won against alcoholism and addiction and even now battles daily with debilitating depression.  Did she let it get the better of her? As if she did! Instead of acting on strong and persistent impulses to end her life and instead of going under completely, she made cake (or several hundred). Now, how fantastic is that?!

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You can read about Marian’s latest news and her struggles and get advice and see fabulous videos on her lovely website : HERE. You can also access a full list of her books HERE.

Why not let yourself be drawn into the world of Marian? If you don’t fancy the Walsh Sisters, she has plenty more offerings – all wonderful, all well worth a read.

Author of the day – Neil Gaiman

I won’t be making Author of the day posts every day….just naming my favourite author on any day that I can be bothered to blog 🙂

Neil Gaiman

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Is there anyone with a wilder imagination that Neil Gaiman? Probably.  Maybe people like Stephen King (legend), Clive Barker (a world woven into a rug? Obviously) and JK Rowling (I’ll forget the Casual Vacancy if you will).  But Neil Gaiman has just captured my imagination lately like no other writer.  I’ve read in very quick succession : Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Anasi Boys and my next book all lined up on my Kindle ready to go is American Gods.

Anyone who has a section header on their website entitled Cool stuff & other things gets my vote. I know Neil writes for younger readers but I don’t really care – I am reading everything and anything I can get my grubby mitts on, and it all feels like it’s been written just for me. So far, The Graveyard Book has stuck with me the most and I am really hoping to see a movie of this….the potential for it to be good is really out there. I didn’t think they did too badly with the movies of Coraline and Stardust. Speaking of, I really need one (or all) of these:

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I would also love the Stardust Gift Edition, but at £163.99 I will need to win the lottery first.

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Anyway, after being thoroughly dragged into the world of Neil Gaiman, I have resolved to read all of his books, somehow manage to get ahold of the book above, meet him and get  him to sign it.  After American Gods, I wonder what I should read next…?