Thursday, 26 November 2015

Authors are our rock stars: Sarah J Maas at Central Library

Auckland Libraries recently had the pleasure of working alongside our friends at Allen & Unwin, to bring you what was the rock star author talk and book signing of the year!

More than 100 fans, and their friends and family, descended on the Central City Library to attend Sarah J. Maas’ only New Zealand appearance.  The 100 tickets that allowed fans to listen to the author talk and gain priority access to the book signing went like hot cakes, and for several weeks library staff were answering emails asking if people could be placed on the waiting list if people didn’t collect their tickets in time. Plus, we had people living in Wellington, Whangarei, and Cambridge book tickets! >THAT< was the level of excitement!

On the day, the event opened with a brief author talk, where Sarah had the audience enthralled with her completely relaxed self-admission that she was practically unrecognisable without her makeup, has loved Lord of the Rings since she was a teenager, and she had Legolas adorning her bedroom walls!  After charming everyone with how down-to-earth she was, Sarah then spent the next four hours signing books for her fans, chatting to them one-on-one, and posing for photographs – in other words, she totally set the bar way high for future author talks!

This event was a great example of collaboration between Auckland Libraries and a publisher to provide a (hopefully not) once in a lifetime opportunity to meet an author who has something of a cult following.  Auckland Libraries provided the location and managed the ticketing, while Allen & Unwin organised the arrival of Sarah and provided a complete set of her books as a prize for an online competition asking: what question would you ask Sarah if you could only ask her one question?

Jenna and the team from Time Out Bookstore were there to help fans fill any gaps in their collections, and helped fans buy treebooks - because it is really challenging for an author to sign an ebook.  It was a great afternoon, and Jenna obviously enjoyed interviewing Sarah in front of a very engaged audience – an interview which showed that Sarah is a thoroughly lovely person as well as a talented one!

This was seriously one of the best author talks we've ever held, not only because Sarah spent so much time with each of her fans, but also because of how amazing those fans were.  Two young fans had to leave the signing early, because of a job interview and a work meeting respectively, and they were upset that they were going to miss out on their chance to have their books signed.  A quick chat with the two lovely ladies at the front of the queue and they were able to get their books signed with no fuss, and a very special memory of the day.

After her marathon signing session Sarah was driven off into the night to start her two week vacation in New Zealand, and if you are on Instagram you can follow Sarah and see what an amazing New Zealand fangirl she is!

But don't just take our word for it: read Tearaway eMagazine's great article about Sarah’s visit to the Central City Library too.

Photos courtesy of Dan Liu.

Friday, 13 November 2015

A few of my favourite things: Paranormal Romances

I love a wide range of fiction genres. Crime, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Urban fiction and Steampunk are right up there in my favourites. But top of the pops for me over the past few years have been Paranormal Romances. This has been an ever growing and popular genre, and our collections are just chokka full of paranormal goodness. These following Paranormal Romance series are my personal top 5, and are full of amazing world building and characters and plots I have laughed and cried over.

One of the first authors I came across when I started my love affair with Paranormal Romance was MaryJanice Davidson with her Queen Betsy series. MaryJanice is just so hilarious, and takes characters that should probably be pretty darn unlikable and makes you kind of love them. The titular Betsy begins the first book in the series Undead and unwed by losing her job, getting killed, and finding herself a member of the undead. She is also pretty disgruntled about the fact that the vampire community think she is their prophesied Queen; Betsy just wants to buy pretty designer shoes ;)

There is the tall, dark and gorgeous (and rather undead) Eric Sinclair to complicate matters further, as her potential consort to the unwanted throne. As the series progresses we meet werewolves, mermaids, zombies and Betsy's rather hellish younger half sister and so much more. MaryJanice has done several other series that both stand alone and tie into this one, including the Fred the Mermaid series (which starts with Sleeping with the fishes) and The Wyndham Werewolf series (we have Derik's bane). If you like a whole lot of humour with your paranormal romance (and really nice designer shoes), then MaryJanice is the author for you!

Next up on my list is Charlaine Harris, the author of the Sookie Stackhouse series which the TV series True Blood is based on. I was not initially a fan of the book series, which is entirely down to my stupidity in choosing a random book halfway through and then being completely confused about what was going on. Then I became 100% addicted to the TV series, so I went back to the books to fill my need for Sookie between seasons. When I actually started with the first book Dead until Dark, I totally loved the series (funny that). There are some pretty major differences between the books and the TV series, but I loved them both in their own way (and I way prefered the way the books ended to the way the show ended, ahem). If you don't know, Sookie is a waitress is a small town in Louisiana, with the 'gift' of being able to read minds. Due to the creation of True Blood, a synthetic blood, vampires have come out of the closet as it were. Local vampire Bill is rather attractive to Sookie, as she discovers that vampire minds are closed to her, which to a telepath is like all her Christmases have come at once. Vamps are still finding their new place in the world, and it makes for a fantastic series!

Perhaps my favourite paranormal vamp of them all is Bones from Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. In the first book Halfway to the grave Bones takes main protagonist Catherine Crawfield (known as Cat) and helps to turn her into a completely kick ass vampire killing machine, which is kind of an interesting place to start when he is a vamp himself, and she is a half vamp! Cat is on a mission to take out as many vampires as she can to avenge the attack on her mother, but somehow learns along the way that maybe not all vampires are bad.  These guys are just plain HAWT and so are lots of their buddies that we meet along the way (personal favourite: Vlad Tepesh, who just happens to be that most famous vampire of them all - he even gets his own series which starts with Once burned).

I discovered Ilona Andrews and her Kate Daniels series when I took part in an online chat with NZ author Nalini Singh (another fav who features below). When I asked Nalini who some of her favourite authors and series were, this was on her list, and boy can I see why! In the first book Magic bites we meet merc Kate, and she is AMAZING. Easily one of my favourite kick butt heroines out there for sure. Kate's world is in a bit of a mess. Technology went too far and so magic decided to fight back, and now the world is hit by magic waves where tech doesn't work, and all kinds of magical beings exist, which is usually not really a good thing. There are two factions in Kate's city, the Shapeshifters lead by alpha Curran (talk about alpha male at his best), and the People, who operate vampires, which are mindless beings that are controlled by navigators. The world building in this series is fantastic, wouldn't want to live there, but love love love my visits!

And talking about fantastic world building, Nalini Singh has created not one, but two fabulous series, set in worlds similar yet oh so different to our own. We can be extra proud of Nalini as she is a New York Times bestselling Kiwi, based right here in Auckland. I have been lucky enough to meet her a couple of times at book events, and she is as amazingly nice as she is talented, with lots of time for her fans, especially on social media. The first of her series is my personal favourite the Psy-changeling one, which starts with Slave to sensation. While each book in the series focuses on a couple and the development of their relationship, there is a brilliant overarching storyline that is further developed with each book in the series. It focuses on the changing dynamic between the three main races (the Changelings, the Psy and humans) and in particular the crumbling of the Psy race (a race with psychic abilities) and its impact on society. I LOVE THESE BOOKS!

Second up by Nalini is the Guild Hunter series, which starts with Angels' blood. I do love this series too, but I always find it interesting chatting to other fans, everyone seems to love one slightly more over the other. To me this is a slightly darker series, set in a world where we are ruled by Archangels. Elena, the main protagonist is a Hunter. Her job is to hunt rogue vampires that have run away from their Angel masters. I do love the totally different take on vampires in this series, and Archangel Raphael is terrifyingly gorgeous! I'm personally hanging out for more about Ilium, I just can't get enough of the Angel also known as Bluebell ;)

For more about these fantastic authors (and nice comprehensive lists of all their series and titles), you can find their websites at:
MaryJanice Davidson
Charlaine Harris
Jeaniene Frost
Ilona Andrews
Nalini Singh

(PS - you may have noticed I managed to sneak an extra series into my top five, MWAHAHAHA!. Sorry, just couldn't choose between Nalini's ;) )