Blurb (from Goodreads):
Aine (pronounced "Aw-nee") believes herself to be a regular teenager in 1930s Alabama, but when a blue-eyed monster named Biblos attacks, she discovers that the reclusive woman raising her isn't really her grandmother and that she's been living inside a book for the past five years. With her blind brother, Spenser, she flees the pages of the novel she's called home, one terrifying step ahead of Biblos' black magic. Her only chance at survival lies in beating him to the three objects that he desires more than life.
As she undertakes her strange and dangerous odyssey, Aine must choose between a family she doesn't remember and her growing attraction to a mysterious young man named Gilgamesh. Only through treacherous adventures into The Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, and the epic Indian saga The Ramayana will she learn her true heritage and restore the balance of the worlds... if she can stay alive.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
(Source: Downloaded for free from Amazon.co.uk)
Aine and spencer have lived with their grandmother since their mother abandoned them. They have to spend most of their time outside of the house and out of their grandmothers way. Aine is determined to grow up, earn some money and track down her mother.
One day when they get home, their grandmother is behaving oddly. She sends them to town to buy salt, when she never allows them to go to town.
On their return they find the small house empty, and then someone begins knocking on the door and shouting out their names. Luckily their grandmother and her friend return in time to save them, but are killed in the process.
Aine and Spencer (and their friend Tru) are now running for their lives from the man called Biblos who killed their grandmother. With the help of a man called Gilgamesh, they try to escape, but Aine is disbelieving when the man expects them to get inside a toadhouse only a few inches high!
When it becomes clear that the toadhouse is magical, and that they are able to enter, Aine hopes that they are safe, but becomes annoyed when instead of giving her answers, Gilgamesh begins talking about magic keys and books that can be entered like houses.
What Aine is about to learn though is that she’s really from a place called ‘Tir Na Nog’, and that she must find 3 keys in three works of literature to make it back there and keep herself and her brother safe.
Can Aine really do this? Who were her parents really? Was her grandmother really her grandmother? How is it possible to jump into and out of books?
This was a fab tale with a real fairy-tale feel.
The ideas were so unique! I have never read a book with the sort of ideas that this one has! I really liked how the author had really used her imagination and really thought about the small details in this book, and how she also managed to pull inspiration from other literary greats, without making things seem cliché.
It was also great to learn some things about novels that I have never read such as ‘The Time Machine’ by H. G. Wells, and ‘The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor’ by Sir Richard Burton.
I loved how these other stories were so cleverly interwoven – I would never have thought of something like that!
Aine (rhymes with Bonnie), was such a strong female lead. She was so real and so intent on keeping her brother safe, and I really liked her. She felt like the sort of person you would want to be friends with, and I couldn’t fault her for her intelligence and bravery – such a great character.
There was plenty of excitement and action in the story, and plenty of twists in the tale. I especially liked the ending. It seems that the next part of Aine and Spensers adventure will be no less difficult too!
Overall; a fairy tale sort of book with real unique ideas and a great lead character.
7 out of 10.
Interview with the Author
Hi Jess! Welcome to the blog!
Thank you for having me! I'm excited to be here.
When did you start writing?
I began writing when I was six. I crafted this poem, which I can still recite from memory: Grandpas are full of love, grandpas are full of tickles, but grandpas are especially full of pickles. My poetry skills have never evolved beyond that point, but in the early 90s, I started writing novels. My first one, thankfully, never got published. It's a self-indulgent, thinly-disguised autobiography that I apparently had to get out of my system. My next foray into novel writing was May Day, the first in an eight-book (to date) mystery series. It came out in March of 2006.
What was your inspiration for 'The Toadhouse Trilogy'?
Adventure, magic, fear, love (I think you meant to write "four words," right?) :)
What are your favourite things about the character Aine?
That's a tough question because I have a difficult relationship with Aine. I very much wanted her to be one way, and she very much refused to be written that way. I'm not an author who talks to her characters or thinks of them as real. Rather, I wrote a first draft, and then a second, and then a third of the book, and it was taking a lot of time and not coming together. I knew after the first draft that it was because I was making Aine too negative and too self-involved. I was forcing my idea of her into the story, and it didn't fit how other people treated her or where the story needed to go. When I finally let her react to her surroundings and be the complex character she needed to be, it all came together with an audible "click." So, I guess I'm still a little resentful that she won. That said, I love her spirit, and her absolute love for her brother, and her vulnerability combined with her raw power.
With luck, it'll be out late summer of 2013. It's called Monsters, and here's the current description:
Aine, Spenser, and Gilgamesh have retrieved the first object, but their time is running out. Biblos the Book Worm has returned, and he is devouring the greatest novels ever written in his hunt for the the threesome. Their desperate search for the remaining two objects is further complicated when Madame Bovary discovers the secret of the toadhouse and escapes her novel to wreak havoc across worlds. Aine leads the desperate race through Babbit, Frankenstein, Beowulf, and The Jungle, confused by the developing romance between her and Gilgamesh, worried for her brother Spenser who is growing ever inward, and amazed as her and Spenser's magical powers develop by the day. Will they retrieve the second object, or will Biblos destroy them first?
Can you tell us about your other books?
I also write the Murder-by-Month Mysteries for adults with a sense of humor. December Dread, the 8th in the series, just came out. Here's a complete list of the series: http://www.jesslourey.com/books.html.
Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment?
I am currently writing a magical realism novel about four generations of women and the secrets they keep.
Other than your own, what are your favourite books?
I love books that are so good I forget to be jealous. My favorite authors are Daniel Woodrell, Barbara Kingsolver, Marion Zimmer Bradley, William Kent Krueger, Margarat Atwood, Isabel Allende, and anyone who can transport me with a story.
- what’s your favourite treat? Caramel apples with nuts. Yum!
- What’s your Favourite place to read/write? I have a home office where I usually write, though lately I've been leaving the cave and attempting to write in coffee shops. It's a young experiment, so I'll let you know how it goes. As for reading, I have a chair that would comfortably fit two people. It's upholstered in deep jewel tones, tucked in a corner, and sits under a crystal lamp with a glass-beaded fringe. I love to read in that corner.
- If you won the lottery what would you most look forward to spending money on? Honestly, writing. I would love to be able to write full-time. After I established that, I'd get my friends and family out of debt. Then, I'd buy shoes and caramel apples.
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? The mountains have been calling to me for the last year. I have two trips to Denver planned this coming spring, so I'll see what I can do about that. In the meanwhile, Minnesota is a beautiful place to live.
Thank you for having me!
You can find Jess here:
Thanks so much to Jess for stopping by the blog and for making this giveaway possible!
1 lucky winner will receive an ecopy of 'The Toadhouse Trilogy Book 1'!
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You can also win a copy of 'The Athena Effect' while you're here!
Country girl Cali has been kept a secret her entire life, raised in isolation by two very troubled people. Despite her parent’s disturbing fits, Cal is perfectly content, living at one with the nature that surrounds her, and finding adventure inside the pages of her beloved books. When an awful tragedy tears her away from her remote cabin in the woods, nothing she’s ever read has prepared her for a world that she knows very little about.
Girls and motorcycles are what bad-boy Cal’s life is all about. Brought up in a raucous party house by his biker brother, he’s free to do as he pleases, going through the motions on his final days of high school. Aimless, Cal stopped thinking about his future a long time ago.
Attacked by a gang of thugs while running an errand for his brother, Cal is in serious trouble until a fierce girl appears out of nowhere to intervene. She chases off three grown men, sparing Cal a brutal beating before disappearing into the night like a spirit. He can’t stop thinking about his mysterious rescuer, and when she turns out to be the weird new girl at school who goes out of her way to avoid him, he can’t contain his curiosity.
He’s never met anyone like her before, and the more he learns about the unusual girl who shares his nickname, the more he wants to know. Cal can’t help falling for Cal, but can he keep her from falling victim to a dangerous enemy from her parent’s tragic past?
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