Uncategorized

All The Crooked Saints – Review

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TITLE: All The Crooked Saints

AUTHOR: Maggie Stiefvater

BUY:

RATING: 4*

ABOUT: Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect

REVIEW: I got this in ARC form from my dear CP and all around lovely woman Kelly ^_^

This is gonna be a tough one to review, like. Really.

Before I started my review I read some on Goodreads, particularly the 2* ones, and I have to say I can see their point re: manic pixie dream girls, weird phrases, things that don’t make sense. I get it. While I adored the writing there were some things I could have done without. And I’m not entirely blind to the anger from some of the Latinx community on Twitter about the subject matter or treatment of their language.

While I don’t know enough about those issues to contribute meaningfully to that particular conversation, I recognise many people found the concept of this problematic. I can see why, since it was a very Latinx-centric book written by a non-Latinx author, and it had a sort of “People of Colour As Magical Beings” trope. It may have worked just as well without the Latinx history placed in it, so I’m not sure how that contributed, and I believe it would have held a much richer tone if written by an actual Latinx author — however I can’t deny I still love Stiefvater’s writing and this was a delightfully weird, eccentric story which gave me all the Big Fish vibes.

I read this as though I were directing the adaptation, because it’s the sort of creepy, atmospheric story I would love to visually portray myself, if not write like in the future. I saw everything like a vivid picture in my mind with The Mood clear on the page. Everything was vivid, and while I admit I skipped some of the descriptors (I had an ARC, so it wasn’t really the finished product – not sure if anything majorly changed) and history, I was still bowled over.

One thing I noticed with Stiefvater is that her books take me about 70-100 pages to understand the rhythm. Then I get into it. But until then I tend to read 40 pages, put it down and read an ‘easier’ book, then come back to it later.

As for the characters, some of them weren’t really needed IMO but I definitely prefer Beatriz to Blue, and she is now one of my favourite literary characters. She was practical, and reasonable, and had a lot of emotions she had to bury because everyone told her she was practical with no emotions – so she wanted to fit into that expectation. And I get that, having been told that for a while when I was younger by others, simply because I didn’t show them all openly on the surface.

While a lot of the emotional stuff was surface level and it didn’t go deep as I wanted I still appreciate the craft that was there, and the atmosphere really made it up for me. I will remember this book for the atmosphere and visuals of the place, and Beatriz, the rest may fade a little.

 

TBR lists

TBR Tidy-Up – Maximum Removal!

Tis the season for Christmas, and with it will come books, book vouchers, and money to buy – books. Hopefully, also a new bookshelf.

So while I have given out lists of my TBR to friends who have asked “what books  do you like?!” I still need to reduce this wanting-to-read list simply because there is no way I will be able to read all the books I’ve put on here AND new releases I’m hankering for.

Time turner? Invent one, please.

SO in this post I’m going to try and get rid of 10.

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THE RULES

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

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I would buy this for the COVER ALONE look at that!!! It’s beautiful. Plus space, crews, intrigue!!! This book has me written all over it.

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not sure “baby with a defect” is entirely unproblematic? Either way I’m not feeling post-apocalyptic space dramas with people wanting babies rn.

BYE

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a Middle Grade, and I didn’t know I had any of this on my list, so I’m keeping it – a delightful weird girl who can talk to ghosts? Yes. Gimme.

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

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Aaaaagh I mean I like the sound of this ish? But then there are some trope-y things I’m not sure about. Portal fantasy is dead right now but it seems to have been published when it was popular… I’m not sure. It seems like there’s some sort of love triangle and over sexualised shit.

Be strong. No.

BYE.

 

 

 

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Reading the synopsis of this religion-meets-mental-illness book, I was like oh, no. But then I realised it’s supposed to be a horror novel and it scared Stephen King.

KEEP (but probably won’t get to any time soon)

 

 

 

 

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Psychics in Victorian England…. like need I say more?!

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

I HAVE ONLY GOT RID OF TWO BOOKS. I NEED TO UP THE ANTE.

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Ok so this was probably added when I was crushing on a Swedish guy in my workplace, so I’m going to remove this.

BYE

 

 

 

 

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Wow, this preview is so small and it won’t get any bigger. Not to worry, though, since this is about alien/zombie/vampire hybrids and I have no interest in it any more.

BYE

 

 

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I’m a bit confused about what this is meant to be. Something about hallucinations and wrongful imprisonment and murder… I’m not feeling it, to be honest.

BYE

 

 

 

 

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I’ve had this on my TBR FOREVER. Maybe 2018 will be the year I finally read this fking thing.

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

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Nnnnngh. I think I added this since I was doing my own psychic detective story at the time, and right now I don’t really want to read this sort of stuff. It’s average is 3*

NAH SORRY

 

 

 

 

 

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A QUEER WOMAN OF COLOUR WITH AN ILLNESS – I don’t care about the mixed reviews I’m getting this.

KEEP

 

 

 

 

 

I must point out that I’ve now got rid of some other reference books, because I didn’t need any more, but I won’t include them here cause boring.

Where are we, 5 out of 10? Sigh. Ok I’m going to do THREE MORE books.

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A beautiful cover, and absolutely great premise, and though I try not to check there’s great reviews from friends.

KEEP

 

 

 

 

 

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A dear friend recommended this to me after I came out of hospital with a crush on my surgeon, since the protagonist here also has the same issue. But I no longer have  a crush on my surgeon (he’s probably still pretty hot to be fair) and I won’t ever read this, so.

BYE

 

 

 

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NNNGH. I really wanted to end on a definitive “no”. But this book has 3 POVs in a high fantasy (I mean… the book I’ve written may have similar ahem) so… God.

I’ll keep it.

 

 

 

 

 

SIX GONE. Not including the reference books. Now I’m up to my 2016 adding spree, where there could be more up to date titles and become more difficult for me. So I’m now on page 3 of my TBR, with 14 pages to rifle through total. This is gonna be a loooong series.

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday – Book Things I’m Grinchy About

Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About
— Since being a grinch is a funny thing, try not to make this serious topics that make you angry (like lack of diversity or abusive relationships in fiction, etc) as this is supposed to be more of a petty bookish things you hate. This can be stuff about covers, dumb tropes, etc. Have fun with it.

Goodreads Group Here!

  1. Different Book Sizes

I have a very nice shelf space at the moment, so imagine my utter horror when I bought Crooked Kingdom and it was TALLER than Six of Crows! They’re paperback, why…. why? Why. You ruined my aesthetic and the books I lie flat on top look all wibbly.

2. UK vs US covers

A LOT of the time I prefer US covers over the UK versions. A lot. Sometimes it doesn’t make a difference, others I like the UK but in cases such as Daughter of the Burning City, where the UK cover could belong to any old book in any genre with no distinct personality, I love the US version because it gives you such a sense of MOOD.

Thus:

UK / US

Image result for daughter of the burning city covers   Image result for daughter of the burning city covers

And while I’m on the subject, women in dresses as a cover. This does not tell me anything about the book! Other than it involves a woman in a dress. Nothing.

3. Reviews At The Beginning

There was a book to do with Angels and it had 14 pages of glowing reviews at the beginning. Yes, I counted, and yes it was front and back. 14 pages. It put me off, because I want to make my own mind up, and I wondered how sodding desperate people were to form the same opinion. It was so bad I can’t even remember the name of it, I just recall it had yellow and blue on the cover.

4. UK doesn’t do hardovers

When books are released in the UK it’s generally paperback first. This is why, originally, I was a bit confused as to the hoo-haa of paperbacks releasing separately in the USA and the big promotions people have for that.

Although they’re not as easy to read as paperbacks, I love hardcovers. There’s something about them, with their shiny glory, that I adore. And it makes me sad that the UK doesn’t do hardcovers unless they want to charge £20 for it.

5. Big, Convenient Proclamations Of Love

Story-centric now – there’s been tension. There’s been intrigue. People shoving their feelings away, even thought it was SO DAMN obvious as to how they felt for each other. And just as it all seems to end in a big, bloody battle, the hero stops the action to say-

I LOVE YOU.

Come on, man. Be like Hermione.

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Reviews

The Hate U Give – Review

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Title: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

From: Amazon UK / Book Depository

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Rating: 5*

Books exist to allow readers into a world they might never experience in day-to-day life. Some educate, amaze, immerse or leave you with a lasting impression you take with you for a long time.

This is one of those books.

The hype on this book is definitely deserved, and the fact “handbook gate” managed to knock it off is rightfully laughable, I’m incredibly glad that was resolved because this is a master of contemporary literature – and I don’t even gravitate towards contemporary all that much.

Starr is an amazing leading lady, without being the typical leading lady at all. Everything on the page is rooted in her grief and sense of anger, the fact she has to have two different personalities for fear of isolation from the ‘posh kids’ (don’t get me started on that Hailey cow, I’ve known too many of her). You understand everything she’s going through, the torment of losing a friend in such a horrific way. And how refreshing it was to have such a supportive and loving family dynamic in this. Perfect family? No. Real family? Yes. In fact they’re one of my favourite families ever, now.

Is it a perfect book? Damn well near. While I didn’t like Chris, the boyfriend, because he felt bland and underdeveloped on the page it didn’t really matter. It wasn’t Chris’ story, it was Starr’s, and I was fully enveloped in her world. I felt her anger, I felt her sense of injustice, I was absolutely ashamed at a system which is flawed – because the same issues present here in the UK, too. Chris, at least to me, wasn’t important at all. Starr was. So the fact I didn’t feel him much doesn’t really make a difference to the overall lasting impression THUG leaves.

THUG gave me a lot of feelings. I am definitely better off for having read it, and it has given me more of a sense of the dangers the black community face in America. I understand more of their issues with the police, and while I know it’s a work of fiction it’s nevertheless rooted in reality. That’s why it packs an extra punch, and I believe it’s going to be considered a classic in many years to come.

TBR lists

Update & TBR Tidy Up

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about anything… at all. I haven’t finished reading a book since the PitchWars picks were announced in August.

THIS WILL CHANGE. I’m 90% through The Hate U Give and I have other lovelies waiting on my TBR. However… I still need to get this stuff down.

So! Back we go, down the TBR hole, clearing out the 266 titles remaining.

Web

THE RULES

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

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Hmm. Hmmmmmmmm.

This sounds fascinating. It’s got Zimbabwe history, folklore, tourists, murders. I’m hoping to get more diverse reads in next year so

KEEP

 

 

 

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Ok so this cover does NOT reveal it’s about aliens and mind control. From this you’d think it was a nice, magical-realism or contemporary romance or something, but no. It’s aliens. And it’s about Special Characters Who Don’t Conform.

Getting rid.

 

 

 

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Honestly, I’m not sure if I want to absorb a government conspiracy, kamikaze bird novel soon but I can see my friends dig it. So I’m going to

KEEP

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve heard so many things about this particular book and I’ve heard of the author. Another government thing, maybe I was on a destroy-the-government high when I added the last two books?

KEEP

 

 

 

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Oh my god, assassin girl?! Yes please.

Again with the government thing, though…. still

KEEP

 

 

 

 

I’m not doing a very good job of getting rid of things, am I?

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This is a book 2. Of a series I don’t even read. Why did I put this on?!

NOPE SORRY

 

 

 

 

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Ok so…. this sounds good? It’s set in a graveyard about a girl with powers and her reaper cousins. I like that spooky shit. Nobody I know has read it but I might give it a go if I can find a copy.

KEEP

 

 

 

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As much as I LOVE witchy books I’m not sure that this is something I’ll ever get to.

NOPE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not convinced. I don’t even know what the premise is. All I know is walled city and coming back changed? That doesn’t tell me anything.

Sorry, NOPE

 

 

 

 

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This includes revenge and Australia and it’s historical fiction but I honestly believe I’ll take up other historical fiction before I read this so, sorry but you gotta go.

NOPE

 

 

 

 

OKAY. SO that’s a bit better, got rid of more this time than previous rounds. My New Year’s Resolution is to buy a book a month from a physical store – something an agent on Twitter said would help secure the business if everyone who wrote, edited or agented a book actually did it. I hope to get to some of these!

Uncategorized

The PitchWars Experience Comes To An End…?

Pitchwarslogomentee

You may have noticed there’s a question mark in the title, which I will get to in a bit, because that’s… well it’s my own version of clickbait. So keep reading! (if you want, no pressure, there’s no flashy adverts here.)

As we’re nearing the finale of PitchWars, there’s a conflict of feelings I’ve noticed in general conversations and posts.

Excitement – definitely. Nervousness – oh hell yes. Courage – IN BUCKETS.

Everyone is doing their best to balance real life, revisions, and the multitude of things we need to prepare for in general.

For those who don’t get in PitchWars (having been there twice, I know the feels) the competition may have gone dark. You may not have bothered looking at the hashtag, you (hopefully!) ploughed on with your writerly life, and for the most part mentees are hidden away in their writing caves screaming at the keyboard, only surfacing to cry.

Or was that just me…?

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Behind the scenes there’s so much happening it’s a struggle to keep up. The amount of posts in our 2017 Mentee Facebook group is testament to that, with about 20 posts a day at peak times. Then there’s the helpful comments and the wonderful camaraderie, and you’re lost in a sea of authory wonder on the best of days. People at all stages of revision and preparation for deadlines come through to help each other out and answer questions some of us can’t see the solution to.

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Throughout this whole experience my CPs have been incredibly supportive, and I treasure them forever and always. My mentor Cat has been absolutely wonderful in shaping this story and being the ultimate critiquing cheerleader. My teammate Elizabeth has been in the exact same situation as me, and we’ve checked in and supported each other during the *head down don’t look up* phase of revisions.

But I don’t think I could have done this without the YA PitchWars friends I’ve made along the way. They’ve lightened dark moments with humour, dragged me up by my britches when I needed it most, and given me the most hilarious conversations I think I’ve ever had which leave me giggling to this day.

Not to single anyone out here, but I am about to name drop: Anna, Victoria, Gillian, Kimberly, Bethany, Sher-May and Ciannon — YOU ARE GODDESSES and I love you. I look forward to the day I can stroke your pretty covers on my shelf (with the ULTIMATE non-creepy vibe).

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(if you’ve never seen Friends that could seem quite alarming…)

In fact… there are so many – SO MANY – books I want to read I truly want everyone to keep going with their PitchWars novels until they see the light of day.

So here’s where the question mark comes in– just because she showcase ends soon, does it mean PitchWars is done? For this year, maybe, but the experience will continue indefinitely. The Facebook group isn’t going to close. All the mentees aren’t going to disappear off Twitter. News will come in, people will get agents, books will find homes. More books will be written. The knowledge we’ve learned, we’ll gladly pass to others and the friendships will rage on.

So while the PitchWars contest is technically July-November, the experience itself is much longer and richer than that. To anyone who’s thinking of submitting next year I urge you to GO FOR IT. It’s an amazing, heartbreaking, difficult and OH SO REWARDING experience. And you know I’m passionate about it cause I’m using caps, what more do you need?!

I hope to see all of you and your fantabulous books smashing it next year.

Never give up; NEVER SURRENDER.

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(listen to the Galaxy Quest alien!!)

 

blog awards · Just For Fun · Random Musings

Mystery Blogger Award!

mysterybloggerThe Mystery Blogger Award was created by Okoto of Okoto Enigmas Blog ,and I was nominated by Hayley of Fangirl Fury — thanks so much Hayley!

The purpose of the Mystery Blogger Award is to honor bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do so with love and passion.

 

 

The Rules

  • Put the logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and link their blog.
  • Tell your reader 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

3 Things about Me

  1. I bake–I think people will already know, but I love it. I make my Mum’s birthday cake every year.
  2. I once skipped school after my piano teacher reduced me to tears. The afternoon class was P.E so I was like “Peace” and basically left the piano lesson and walked home without telling anyone. I was fine, cause it was only a few streets away but I think I almost gave my grandma a heart attack.
  3. I keep a dream diary because my dreams are weird

I nominate:

Anna Mercier

Lex @ Lex Writes

Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Mikrael 

Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek

Kristi @ Confessions of a YA Reader

If you’ve done the award already or you’re currently writing like you’re running out of time enough, no worries!

My Questions:

  1. If you could make ONE character come to life, who would you choose?
  2. What was the first book you remember being obsessed with?
  3. Have your favourite genres changed over time?
  4. If you could cast yourself in a TV Show which one would it be?
  5. You’re stuck in jail. Your favourite Disney princess is in there with you. Who is it, and what did you get jailed for?!

Hayley’s Questions For Me:

If you could revive any past TV show, what would it be?

BUFFY. That show was incredible when I was a teenager and I loved how much I saw women being strong and vulnerable all at once. I wanted to be Willow so bad and it completely fit my spooky little aesthetic far more than Charmed ever did. It also showed vampires in their (imo) best incarnation yet.

Do you celebrate any holidays during the winter season?

Mostly Yule and Christmas. And the winter solstice, which is Yule, but sometimes I take it without the pagan reference. OH and my birthday which is 7th November — while it’s technically autumn it’s cold enough to be frickin winter 90% of the time.

What is or was your favorite subject in school?

Art and English. I loved being creative. I also got my highest marks in that. Not sure what the lesson came under, but I also loved weather–where we did little experiments outside or learned about clouds. Anything to do with nature was a plus for me.

If you had a soundtrack of your life, what would be three songs on the album? 

  1. May It Be by Enya
  2. Wicked Game by Chris Isaak
  3. Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend – Moulin Rouge! version

What books are you hoping to get to before the end of 2017?

The Hate U Give
Scorpio Races
Language of Thorns
Forest of A Thousand Lanterns.

I can do it, right?! I haven’t read so much lately because of PitchWars edits/revisions but I hope to remedy that and fulfil my 40 books read this year.