The Wolf’s Cry – PAPERBACK (+ TLP Update)

By this point, I suspect you have already seen the news! (Who am I kidding, but let’s pretend)

THE WOLF’S CRY PAPERBACK IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE.

Yep. There are still many, many steps for me to climb before I am anywhere near the pinnacle of my writing dream – but this is definitely a big one! The fact that people can actually own a physical copy of something I have written is crazy exciting.

You can purchase the book from Amazon US, UK and also various EU Amazon…servers? (I don’t know what they are called…what are they called? MARKETPLACE? I’m not going to link them all because I’m lazy, but should anybody struggle to find it – let me know!)

I wish I could charge less money for it, but I’m afraid I have no control over the cost. If it makes you feel any better, I get a pittance of the price so I’m not trying to steal your money. Of course, the Kindle version is still available if you’re looking for a cheaper option (but look how pretty it is!)

Book shelfPaperback

So that’s that!

Now, onto The Lion’s Pride news.

If you follow my facebook page you will already have seen, but I am afraid publication is going to be pushed back again. It’s quite frustrating this time because it is so close to being ready to go. However, I shall be hunting for a new flat and moving at the start of 2015. Due to this, I simply do not know how much free time I will have to devote to writing (it’s a busy period at work too). Financially as well, it would be a bit of a struggle to do everything. So, I have decided to take the pressure off myself.

It shouldn’t be too long of a delay, as I’m hoping everything will be resolved quite quickly…but I wanted to explain the situation to all three of you that are desperately awaiting the next book.

I feel as though I have learned so much and grown as a writer since TWC was first released, so I’m really excited to see what people think.

Now, go buy somebody the paperback for the holidays!

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The Lion’s Pride – News and SYNOPSIS!

I’ve been a little big neglectful of this blog recently, haven’t I?

But yes, I actually have news!

Let’s start with the good…the synopsis for The Lion’s Pride has been revealed.

She is the reason your friends are dead.
She should pay the price for that betrayal.

Not long ago Kammy had led a simple existence, stuck on an island, with only her Gran and Jamie to care about. Now she knows she is half Semei and of royal blood, in possession of an item that could bring about a war that would destroy the world, and so the worlds within it. She cannot go back and, despite everything, she does not want to.

But she is haunted by the man – the king – that shadows her.

Bagor and his army wait. In three days he will march into Emire and he will take everything.

Kammy and her friends have one hope. They must find Danorrah; a cursed city, lost to the memory of all. Bagor will hunt them, every step of the way, determined to claim the Key and to claim her. It is all well and good that Kammy does not want to go back to her old life, but she will need the blessing of the Mother if she is to elude Bagor and hang on to her new one.

You can check it out  and add the book over on its Goodreads page.

I shall also have a date for the cover reveal in the not too distant future which is VERY exciting, as I think the cover is beautiful.

On top of this, the paperback of The Wolf’s Cry will be available very soon – about time, right? I’ll bring news on that as and when I get it.

The ~sort of~ bad news is that publication of The Lion’s Pride is going to be pushed back a couple of months. Originally, it was supposed to be released in December, but it will now be February 2015. I’ve made this decision simply because I think the overall quality of the book will benefit from it.

So that’s that. I hope the synopsis gets you a little bit excited! And if you haven’t read The Wolf’s Cry yet , then that’s…er…totally okay? BUT DO IT NOW.

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Storm Siren – 4/5

Storm SirenIn a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

 

Sooooooo guys, go read this one?

A part of me feels like I should have given this a five, because I really enjoyed it and couldn’t stop reading. That said, it’s not perfect, and I can tell this series is just bursting with potential. There’s a big world to explore, plenty of characters to get to know…I actually hope this is a Throne of Glass sort of situation (although I’d say this was technically better than ToG) in that this book gets me hooked, and then the next book blows me away!

But enough about that, let’s review Storm Siren!

This book starts with a bang, literally, as our heroine starts a storm. And it never really let up. I thought the pacing throughout the novel was fantastic and so this can be point no.1. A lot of first books in a series end up being more about introducing everything, but not really pushing forward the plot. That is not the case here, in fact it’s more the opposite. You will still have questions by the time that you finish. You will have questions about characters you barely know, questions about Nym’s power, questions about the world and its history. But that’s all okay, because I’m sure those answers will come. In the mean time, Storm Siren has it’s own complete plot filled with intrigue, romance and action. There’s a little bit for everyone! And just when I was wondering what the hell book 2 could even be about (things had been wrapped up so well) I was completely blind sided by a plot twist that has me dying for more.

There were a number of great characters here. Nym, our heroine, was quite typical of YA heroines. She was spunky, sarcastic, and she had a troubled past. But her characterisation was well executed, and I really enjoyed seeing her grow into her powers. I also really enjoyed how she treated the people around her. She has a good heart, despite her past, and that came through well. Also, as a random note, she has a mishapen hand and nothing is ever made of it. I kind of LOVED that. It’s something that she has always had, but it doesn’t impact her or anybody’s view of her at all.

The supporting characters are varied and fun. A number of them remain on the edge of our knowledge, like Sedric and Rysha, but I’m looking forward to more. But then we have the siblings, Breck and Colin. Breck is blind, and once again Weber does not make this a huge plot point. Breck is perfectly capable and shows it. Colin is very lovable, and he added some lightheartedness to the novel. Early on I thought we were heading down a love triangle route, but nope! I particularly LOVED how Colin and Nym’s relationship progressed. Weber could have included a ton of silly drama, but she steered clear of it. THANK YOU. Adora was fun. She’s a bit of a two dimensional villain, but she’s so weird that I kind of didn’t mind. I loved all the descriptions of her crazy outfits. Then we have Eogan. I can’t say I LOVED Eogan, but I also didn’t NOT enjoy it. Same goes for the romance. It wasn’t my favourite thing…but then the ending…yeah.

I also just really enjoyed the writing. There was a great flow to it, and humour in the right places. But then Weber did a great job of creating an atmosphere when needed. The world intrigues me greatly, especially the kingdom of Bron. I wonder just how modern it really is?

The only two critiques I have are probably things that are specific for me.

Firstly, I HATED when ever Eogan called Colin ‘mate’. It just felt like the word didn’t fit the setting and it pulled me out of the story every time.

The second thing is that occasionally, in big action scenes, it felt a bit like characters were moving around inorganically. So, they’d appear when needed. Then randomly disappear when a life was on the line, and then appear again.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this and I look forward to the next book GREATLY. Weber really impressed me. The writing was great, the plot was something new and well executed. She also didn’t pull any punches when it came to knocking off a few characters. Kudos for that, and hurry up with writing the sequel!

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Sabriel – 3/5

SabrielSent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death — and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. With “Sabriel,” the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear — and sometimes disappears altogether.

If I had read this ten years ago, I suspect it would have been one of my ultimate favourites. It has a little bit of everything that I like, and finding fantasy books with female leads was harder back then…so this would have been amazing. Reading it now, I did enjoy it, but I didn’t fall madly in love. Sabriel has what I shall call an ’80s vibe’. I have no idea when it was published, but it’s a very old school writing style. It’s also very much a quest book, and I think that is one of the reasons I never felt fully engaged. Sabriel and her companions move from place to place,facing an obstacle and overcoming it, facing an obstacle and overcoming it. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the novel is quite short so I felt like I was getting a condensed view of the world and the characters.

The romance was also written in an old school kind of way. I blinked and they were in love. Nothing about it offended me, but it also didn’t effect me emotionally.

That said, there were some aspects of the novel that I LOVED. 

I loved that there were essentially two different worlds separated by a wall. I was not expecting that at all, and I look forward to that being expanded on in the sequels.

I LOVED the bells. I can’t even begin to explain why! I just thought they were really cool, and they bring such an eerily beautiful image to mind. I loved the whole idea of the Abhorsen, I loved the Charter Stones. The settings were often very powerful to me.

While the other characters and their relationships never felt entirely fleshed out, I appreciated Sabriel’s character on its own. There is never any negative attention drawn to the fact that she is a woman, and I loved that being a woman didn’t make her an extra speshul Abhorsen. She is very practical and very determined. I liked how she just embraced what she had to do and went about it. Again, if I had discovered her as a kid she might be somewhere near Alanna in my heart.

A lot was touched upon briefly in Sabriel, but never really given full attention. I have the sense of a much bigger world, with a huge variety of characters. There is certainly a fully resolved plot in this novel, but it definitely feels like an introduction. I’m not dying to continue, but I definitely will and I hope that the next book sucks me in that bit further.

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My Top Ten Heroines

So, I spent the morning writing up my first China recap…including photos and videos…AND I LOST THE WHOLE THING. I’m having a bit of a tantrum about it, so I’ve decided to recycle something old that I never posted directly to this blog. My top ten heroines were originally featured in my book tour over at Breezy Reads.

But I want them here too. Because I think this list says a lot about the sort of heroines that I like to read and write. Do you share any favourites? Let me know and we can FANGIRL.

 

Alanna – (Tortall Series)

Alanna was my first heroine.

Well, technically she might not have been…but she is the first name that comes to mind when I cast my mind back. I was a tom boy when I was a kid, and I was a tom boy that liked to READ BOOKS that were typically considered ‘boys BOOKS’, at least they were back then. I wanted knights in armour, I wanted epic battles, I wanted different worlds full of history.

Alanna was everything I needed. She wanted the same things as me but, and this was the most important thing even if I didn’t know it at the time, she was still a girl. She had to deal with that as she grew up and it was a joy to see her grow. Honestly, I still re-read The Song of the Lioness Quartet frequently because I will never get enough of Alanna, Lady Knight – the lioness rampant.

 

Hermione – (Harry Potter)

Hermione was a badass like Alanna, but in a completely different way. Her character is no less important as a heroine, in my opinion.

Here we have a girl that sticks to the rules (apart from when the smart thing is to break the rules, of course), she works hard because she wants good grades, she doesn’t feel the need to change herself when people don’t understand her, she is technically disadvantaged (muggle born with no experience of the magical world) but she still excels, AND she doesn’t spend ANY of the seven books obsessing over boys.

What more can I say about Hermione Granger? She is just a spectacular character and an incredible role model for young readers. Everybody should want to be like Hermione Granger!

 

Lyra – (His Dark Materials)

I wanted to BE Lyra when I was younger.

You know how sometimes you see a person, in real life or on tv or film…wherever! You see them and you fall a little bit in love with them because of how amazing they are. You admire them from afar and if you are lucky enough to be their friend you feel incredibly blessed, because they are just the best person?

This is how I felt about Lyra. I wanted to be her best friend. She was wild, she was ferocious but her precociousness delighted me. She was so brave, and so strong that I wished I could be like her. She grows up throughout the series but I always felt really connected to her character. So much so that I sobbed for days at the end of the last book.

 

Mara of the Acoma – (Empire Trilogy)

Reading these BOOKS, you watch Mara grow from a young girl to a woman. You watch her overcome so much adversity, I cannot even describe. Honestly, every time you think it will be too much, she rises back up again.

The best thing about Mara is how real she is. These books are never easy on her. She has to overcome her own lack of knowledge. She has to overcome old enemies, and new. She has to overcome her own heart. Why? Because she must protect her people. And she does. She does.

Her strength is not physical. Her strength is of the spirit and the mind. She outwits her foes. She dares to do what others would not. She sacrifices so much for her people and her family.

I love her so, so much.

 

Cinder – (Lunar Chronicles)

Cinder is a recent addition to my loved heroines list but I ADORE her.

What is so great about Cinder is how normal she is. I realise that might sound ridiculous, seeing as how she’s a freaking cyborg, amongst all the other stuff. But she is just so chilled out, you know? She’s got a great sense of humour and a good heart. When she gets a crush on a boy, it’s cute without falling into drama and hysterics. She puts up with her stepmother until it all goes too far and then she REACTS.

There is nothing passive about Cinder. She might be your average girl (cough) but she knows she’s smart. She knows she can look after herself even though she is only sixteen, so she will damn well do it. And this is just in book one!

Her growth as the series has gone on has been just as delightful. She is still Cinder and she certainly has moments where she doubts herself, but she will keep plugging away because she’s a good person that wants to help.

 

Scarlet – (Lunar Chronicles)

Yep, two ultimate faves in one book series. (I love you, Lunar Chronicles).

Scarlet X shotgun is my ultimate OTP.

Really though, right from the start of Scarlet I knew I loved this lady. Her attitude and her short fuse was perfectly balanced by the fact that she was clearly shown to have a compassionate heart. The fact that she was stomping around in a red HOODIE with a gun in the back of her jeans just made my immediate love all that more intense.

Like Cinder, Scarlet is not passive. She does what she wants, goes where she wants, and trusts her instincts. That doesn’t mean that her instincts are always right, but I don’t need my heroine to get things right all the time. I just need them to have agency, and Scarlet certainly has that.

She also has a SHOTGUN.

 

Bitterblue – (Graceling series)

I feel like loving Katsa is probably more common than loving Bitterblue, but I just really connected with this young queen. We don’t have similar life experiences, obviously, so it wasn’t a connection due to that. I think it was because Cashore made it so clear, through her writing, how oppressive the palace was for Bitterblue. So in those moments, I felt for her, and when she got out to freedom, I felt her relief.

The BOOK was also incredibly frustrating in a good way, so when Bitterblue was frustrated I emphasised and understood her confusion.

Bitterblue was also unique in that she feels like she isn’t that great at anything. Her whole crisis is one of wondering – what is she good for? She’s not particularly tough. She’s not incredibly smart. She’s just ordinary, yet she’s the queen. This made her easy to relate too, and by the time she starts figuring things out, she is also figuring herself out.

I found Bitterblue to be incredibly refreshing and unique and I feel proud fuzzy feelings when I think of her.

 

Sophie – (Howl’s Moving Castle) 

If Bitterblue is unique, then Sophie is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy unique.

How many books have you read where the young heroine becomes a grumpy old woman?

Sophie is hillarious. Honestly, she made me laugh so hard throughout the book. Her unique perspective, due to the sudden aging, means her OUTLOOK is different to what I would normally read. This means that she treats the other characters differently to how other heroines would. Watching her boss around/ignore/berate Howl, whose charms might have worked on her immediately under normal circumstances, was a true delight.

And of course, her whole character arc is delivered impeccably. Only as an old woman does Sophie learn to appreciate herself and understand her worth. She’s a true treasure, old and young.

 

Celaena – (Throne of Glass)

You know, technically I can see the issues with Celaena’scharacterisation as Adarlan’s Assassin. I see the issues in her behaviour and how it doesn’t all add up…and I’ve decided to stop caring. These books are just so much fun, and Celaena is the heart of all that.

Crown of Midnight was the BOOK that really made me fall in love with her. The quality in general was much higher. But we also got to see her actually showcase some of her assassin like ways! We got to learn more about her history and the pain of her past.

And then we got to see her sink into a truly dark place and I was so happy about it. You get the full range of Celaena in Crown of Midnight and I cannot wait to continue her adventures. I am DYING for the *reunion* scene between Celaena and Arobynn. DYING FOR IT. GET HIM GIRL. GET HIM.

I still struggle to spell her name though…

 

Queenie – (Code Name Verity)

Have you read this book? No? THEN GO AND READ THIS BOOK. 

Right from the start, Queenie’s voice was incredibly entertaining to read. She managed to come across quite chipper despite her dire circumstances. I mean, being a POW was obviously a nightmare, but her wit and charm still seeped through the page (well, the Kindle screen) in a completely authentic way.

Then, just past the halfway mark, this book turns and destroys all of your emotions. Queenie becomes everything I want from a heroine. Her courage is beyond anything you can imagine. Her love and loyalty brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Her fear makes her so real. But she stays strong.

I just…

‘KISS ME HARDY! Kiss me, QUICK!’

*sobs*

Adventures in China – IT IS OVER

Beijing Forbidden City

 

So, my adventures in China are over.

I am sad about it. I had such an amazing, incredible, fantastic time. I needed a break for one thing, I had wonderful company and I saw so much cool stuff. I’ve been delivered a bucket load of inspiration for my writing too, although still no time in my life to actually WRITE. But ah well. I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts about the two weeks, location by location, because I basically cannot stop talking about CHINA.

Fancy some background first? One of my very best friends has been teaching English in China with her boyfriend for about a year now. They have actually just made the decision to stay for another year, and I knew I just had to get out there and visit. Not only was I getting to see China, but I was also getting to see my friend. Win/Win! Originally, another of our friends was supposed to be flying out with me, but she sadly could not make it (Sorry, Abigurl).

In the end, it was just little old me flying out by myself from Gatwick. I don’t really get too nervous about travelling, but I am a bit of an obsessive packer and was very paranoid because I had to transfer in Beijing. I was convinced that my case was going to get lost! I DID get delayed in Beijing, but it all went pretty smoothly in the end.

So, here is the order of these blog posts. I’m not tying myself down to days, because who has time to have a schedule? Not me!

  1. Hang Zhou – the city my friends live just outside of. We climbed up to a temple in the middle of a storm, and strolled around the beautiful West Lake.
  2. Huangshan – we CLIMBED A FREAKING MOUNTAIN RANGE and definitely almost died.
  3. Shanghai – A pleasant surprise, and a much needed rest after CLIMBING A FREAKING MOUNTAIN RANGE.
  4. Beijing – All the magic that you would expect, and very little smog! (And more CLIMBING. So much climbing.)

 

For now, I have written a list about my observations of China. Oh China, I loved you.

  1. I have always had a bit of a thing for mountains, but MOUNTAINS.
  2. I doubt I have any Chinese readers, but if I do I gotta say…your public toilets are very, very gross. Like, I was OBSESSED with toilets while I was over there. If you go to China, be prepared to squat. (The squatting thing wouldn’t be so bad on its own, but…gross) And if, like me, you are an arthritic person that just climbed a mountain with knees that are physically incapable of squatting – seek out your nearest Mcdonalds. (Shanghai won on the toilet front, by the way. Four for you Shanghai.)
  3. If a guy approached me in London and said ‘Hey beautiful, can I have a photo?’ I would probably respond with a fuck no. But this happened A LOT in China. The locals in Beijing and Shanghai were less interested, but the Chinese tourists were just fascinated by us. In a way, I guess it felt so strange because I’m not used to being a minority – but yeah, it was interesting. I had so many photos taken with guys, and also little kids that were just so excited to say ‘hello’ that I wanted to smush them.
  4. You hear about censorship of various things in China, but it was odd seeing it in effect. Apparently, since the anniversary of Tiananmen Square, my friend has struggled to use Google. Loading up BBC news was practically impossible, and Wikipedia (what? I was doing historical research) was difficult depending on the topic you were searching for. It was also weird to see Mao still being cherished by people young and old over there, when you consider how he is viewed by my part of the world at least.
  5. I now want to know everything I can about Chinese history, and culture and just everything. It is such a vast and diverse country. I want to learn more about Mongolia and the history there. I WANT TO GO TO TIBET. I want to see a panda. Just EVERYTHING.
  6. Can I go back now please?
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Adventures in China

I AM FLYING TO CHINA TOMORROW.

 

AHHH.

 

I am going over to meet up with two friends that are teaching English over there and I am so excited. I LOVE history and new cultures, and I just know that I will feel completely re-energised and motivated for writing and just for LIFE when I come back.

We’re staying at their flat in Hangzhou for a couple of nights, then heading to Huangshan Mountain (AKA the Yellow Mountain) and OMG IT LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL. Then we have a few nights in Shanghai followed by a whole week in Beijing (with a few day trips outside of the city planned). It’s going to be insanely hot and insanely busy, but also insanely wonderful.

LOOK AT IT

LOOK AT IT

I’m not typically a nervous flyer, but I have only ever been on a long haul flight twice before, and I never had to transfer flights in between before. So I’m a bit anxious about that stuff, but in a pretty chilled kinda way. Que sera, sera – right?

BASICALLY. I won’t be blogging while I’m gone but I will definitely share a few posts about my travels when I get back. I am also taking a few books on my Kindle for the various train journeys/flights. So I should have a queue of reviews waiting as well. On top of that, a super cool ‘thing’ should also be entering the blogosphere by the time I return.

I’m so glad it’s finally here. The last couple of months have been pretty stressful for a number of reasons, and getting sorted for this trip was part of that. But it will be so worth it.

EXCITING.

So long, farewell. If my plane falls out of the sky, please ask JK Rowling to finish the Semei Trilogy for me. The notes are in my flat.

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Fangirl – 4/5

fangirlCath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

 

I am happy to say that I really enjoyed FangirlEleanor and Park was a disappointment, but this book has won me around when it comes to Rainbow Rowell.

I’ll get a couple of negatives out of the way first:

 

1. The Simon Snow extracts add nothing to the story. The first few were kinda fun to read but the novelty wore off and I ended up skipping them. The good news here is that you CAN simply skip them, so it’s not that big of a deal.

2. I couldn’t really relate to Cath early on. This is more of a personal thing as I’m sure plenty of people feel a strong affinity to her. But there were some points where she drove me a little insane. I guess I’m more of a mix of Cath & Wren. The most glaring example of this is when she submitted fanfiction for an assignment and could not understand why that was wrong. I’m a huge supporter of fanfiction as a writing practice, but wow this was annoying.

3. I wouldn’t really say that there is much of a plot, and I don’t actually think this book really delves into fandom at all. I was expecting more on that side of things. It’s really about how Cath, a fanfic writer that prefers living in that world to really living in the real world, comes to find a balance. This isn’t really a bad thing either, but if you’re expecting to read about forums, and tumblr, and meta wars – think again!

 

That said, I really really enjoyed reading this book. I could not stop, and it was refreshing to read a NA book! While this was set in the States, the University setting was still familiar enough to feel nostalgic for me. I’ve avoided NA because the genre is full of badly written erotic fiction as far as I can tell (please rec any good NA that you have found), so this was really refreshing.

Rowell’s writing flowed well and was incredibly amusing at times. While I couldn’t always relate to Cath, I did relate to her passion for writing and her need to sink properly into different worlds, so I enjoyed that aspect. I also enjoyed seeing her grow, and accept the real world. The book really picked up once she befriended Reagan, and I think that is where the true strength of the novel lies. These are believable characters! Reagan was a ton of fun. Her friendship with Cath is totally unconventional and I LOVED it. And then there is Levi. Levi is just ADORABLE. He is such a wonderful romantic interest. There is no insta love, their relationship builds slowly which is in keeping with Cath’s character. They face obstacles which are believable and suit their age and setting. Cath’s issues with her family, and her relationships with her father and twin were also drawn wonderfully. I just really, really adored the dynamics and Rowell gave the characters a ton of heart.

If you want a contemporary read in a university setting (fine, I’ll say it the American way – a college setting)  with a cast of wonderful characters, that is a fun and easy read – then this is for you!

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Half a King – 4/5

hakPrince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?

 

I’ve read Abercrombie’s adult books and LOVED them, so I was interested to see what the difference would be in his YA work. There is the obvious stuff – less brutal violence, and no sex. I did also, sadly, think that he wrote a more simple novel to the point where I found myself thinking ‘Joe, YA readers can handle more than this‘ HOWEVER, I really enjoyed the read overall.

It starts out slow, so if you’re tempted to put it aside after the first few chapters I would urge you to stick it out. The setting feels kind of Viking to me, very much a brutal patriarchal world. There’s nothing ground breaking about the setting, or really about the plot, but it’s all executed with great depth and gorgeous writing. If you’ve read Abercrombie before you’ll know that he infuses every page with black humour, bringing a smile to readers’ faces in the most dire moments.

The book really gets going when Yarvi finds himself aboard a ship, and his quest for vengeance truly begins. The greatest thing about this book is its characters. We end up with a really loveable group. Nothing is a stand out that surprised me, which is always good. Yarvi was also a fantastic lead, and it was in him that I could really see Abercrombie’s hand. He’s the hero, but he’s not a typical hero. He’s not strong physically, but he has a sharp mind and he thinks himself out of situations. He’s not dashing, and he has a deformed hand. He’s also not particularly moral. He’s a human being, and sometimes he isn’t perfect. I really appreciated that about him.

Something I loved about this book was it’s female characters. Men dominate the society created here, but the females that are featured and all fabulous and unique. Yarvi’s mother is basically the most powerful person within the whole book, and is desired and respected by all. She takes absolutely zero crap and I ended up a little in love with her myself by the end of the book. Then there is Sumael, a slave on the run who leads Yarvi and the others to safety. Without her, all the boys would have died and they all treat her respectfully and acknowledge this fact. Then there is Shadikshirram! She’s essentially a pirate, and an alcoholic to boot. She’s a cut throat antagonist without a hint of softness to her, and I loved it. Mother Gundring is one of the female Ministers featured, and the book basically continues to tell us that women are typically smarted than men. Yarvi takes after his mother over his father, and was mentored by Mother Gundring. The female touch is important here. Even Isriun, who features significantly less, has her badass moment at the end.

The plot feels fairly obvious, but it was fun and then it did manage to surprise me a couple of times at the end, which was cool.

Overall, if you you like low fantasy and tales of revenge, then I am sure you will enjoy this. It’s a slow starter, and it never really reaches the heights of greatness that I had hoped, but it’s a ton of fun and the quality of the writing and the characters carries you on.

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More Than This – 4/5

more than thisA boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.

Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.

How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

 

 

 

 

 

The best thing about this book is that I now feel like I can LOVE Patrick Ness without guilt. Seriously, he is the best on twitter and then he was the best when I saw him at YALC. So it sucked that I didn’t like The Knife of Letting Go all that much. Honestly, I WANTED to love it.

But now? ALL IS WELL. Because I LOVED More Than This.

I went into this book knowing pretty much nothing about it and I think that really aided the reading experience. So I’m keeping this review as spoiler free as I can! This book works well when it is all a mystery.

I was immediately swept up by the writing and by the horrible, but dramatic, start to the book. Ness captures your attention with words that are brutal, but lyrical and my reading senses tingled straight off. Then the novel steps straight into whatthefudgeville and everything slows down. I guess this could bug people, but it didn’t bug me. We spend a lot of time just with Seth, with very few answers and a number of flashbacks. The flashbacks also might bother some people, but I felt like they were nice breaks in the tension. While we weren’t getting answers about the present, we were getting to learn about who Seth was as a character. There was a LOT of heartache in those flashbacks and also one of the best things about the book…a gay relationship portrayed incredibly well!

I’m still trying to avoid spoilers but at about halfway through this book we meet a couple of new characters that I fell in love with. Regjne who, as an overweight black girl, was a wonderful inclusion and Tomasz who IS THE BEST CHARACTER EVER. These two kids get a huge amount of depth and they feel like real people, breathing off the page. And Tomasz is just…so delightful…his English made me want to laugh and cry and squeeze him. There is a lot of sadness in this book, and you really feel for these characters. But when the three of them are together you really feel a sense of hope which I’m sure Ness was trying to convey.

So we have beautiful writing, a mysterious plot that keeps you turning the page, and great characters. So why didn’t I give this 5/5? Ultimately, it was the ending that pulled the rating down. This is a very philosophical book so I can actually see why it ends the way it does. This book poses the questions, and the reader is left to work out the answer  by themselves. But it’s just not my type of ending. I want to know WHAT happened. I want to know WHAT the Driver really was. I was waiting for answers and building myself up for answers throughout, but didn’t really get anything at the end.

The ending won’t bother everyone, and this is definitely still worth a read regardless. If only to meet Tomasz, the greatest little hero you ever will read.

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