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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.

 

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The PitchWars Experience Comes To An End…?

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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!!)

 

Reviews · Uncategorized

The Defenders – A Review!

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4 / 5

My favourite characters go thus – Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Claire, the entire cast of all the Marvel series, and ends with “Ir-on Fissst”.

I’m gonna lay out the bad stuff first.

The issue with the Defenders is that it puts its weakest character front and center, and everyone revolves around it. Iron Fist, who despite supposedly being the most trusted warrior of K’un Lun comes across as an entitled little rich boy who can’t see anyone else’s opinion but his own.

And rational? He’s anything but. When I think of a warrior I imagine someone so chill they could have swallowed the Little Book Of Calm. That they are a wise and trusted being with the gift passed down generations. Not someone who hasn’t matured past infancy and hisses his dialogue like someone just shat on his favourite lego.

And so while the Defenders is fun, it would have been better if they’d been united against a common enemy, not to ‘defend’ the weakest (both personality wise and story wise) character of them all. Even Daredevil, who with his self-righteous dialogue and his friends who want to ‘save’ him I don’t even know what from, might have been a better choice for the One In Peril.

OK NOW THE PARTS I LIKED.

Jessica Jones, man. She’s easily the best of the Defenders and this series proved to me just how much I missed her. She’s the only one who delivers proper belly-laughs with her dry wit and “what the fuck is this” attitude giving a refreshing turn against the “For The City!” moaning heroes we’ve known.

It was exciting when the supporting cast of our heroes came around and they all got together. When Karen Page and Trish Walker had a conversation I admit I squeed a little – with Trish wanting to go more investigative and Karen being investigative, could we see another team up there? (anything to get more Trish, ngl).

Sigourney – queen. The concept of her character was brilliant and she’s a smoooooth actress who just oozes power and flair with every scene she’s in. However by the end of the muddled narrative we weren’t sure which line she was drawing in the sand, or whether there was a line at all. It promised to do so much with her character, then it was sort of… not delivered?

Madame Gao is still an absolute favourite of mine. Manipulative, sneaky, charming, POWERFUL who knew?! I think – think – we’ll see more of her? Here’s hoping, anyway. And Misty! Are we going to segway into the Amazing Arm story? Are ALL the sidekicks finally going to get their superhero alter egos going on or….?

Overall it was enjoyable but I do think it could have done with some bigger laughs, tightening of the narrative and a little less Iron Fisssst.

 

 

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REVIEW – Wolf Children by Phil Dowsdell

THANK YOU BLOOMSBURY AND NETGALLEY FOR THIS E-ARC

REVIEW – DNF

It is July 1945, Hitler’s Third Reich has fallen, and Berlin is in ruins. Living on the edge of survival in the cellar of an abandoned hospital, Otto and his ragtag gang of kids have banded together in the desperate, bombed-out city.

The war may be over, but danger lurks in the shadows of the wreckage as Otto and his friends find themselves caught between invading armies, ruthless rival gangs and a strange Nazi war criminal who stalks them …

A climactic story of truth, friendship and survival against the odds, Wolf Children will thrill readers of Michael Morpurgo and John Boyne.

I was hopeful for this novel, because I love the WW2 setting and historical novels in this context. But… it fell flat.

It was particularly tell-y, and it jerked me out of reading. Like an “and over there we have…” situation, where it’s obviously pointing where to look or what to feel at any given moment. Dialogue felt stilted, as though the author described the characters’ emotions rather than allow us to feel them authentically while we lived their story.

I didn’t feel either that we were in the setting of World War 2 – while it was a really interesting concept unfortunately it didn’t pay off and I DNF’d at 10%

NetGalley · Uncategorized

The Stargazer’s Embassy by Eleanor Lerman

Violent and despairing after the murder of the one person she loved — a psychiatrist who was studying abductees — Julia continues to rebuff the aliens until her relationships with others who have met “the things,” as she calls them (including a tattoo artist, a strange man who can take photographs with the power of his mind, and an abductee locked up in a mental hospital) force her deeper into direct alien contact, and a confrontation about what death means to humans and aliens alike.

Thanks to NetGalley! ❤

There’s a lot of praise surrounding this book and it immediately makes me feel as though I HAVE to like it, because everyone else does, and the reviews are thrown in your face.

While I did like it, I’m not raving about it.

There was a slight feeling of apathy with the beginning of the book – and while this gradually dissipated it made it hard to really fall in with the MC’s thoughts, feelings etc. As though she was bored with her life, and went home with a fairly nice man, and dated him, and it was all average and fair. It didn’t really speed the narrative along and didn’t suck me into the story.

The very brief (VERY) information about something lurking in the dark made me read on. But overall I couldn’t shake the first chapter’s apathy and it sort of left me underwhelmed.

The writer is very competent though, very good writer and it flowed well but as for the story – it was hit and miss for me.

 

Reviews · Uncategorized

ACOWAR – Review!

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RATING: 4.5*

Where to buy? Let’s be honest, you can buy this pretty much everywhere. I borrowed it from a dear friend instead.

So. ACOWAR.

The series finisheth.

Or so I thought, because there’s something like 17 more coming out.

I admire Sarah J Maas’ work ethic if she’s cranking out so many books in the next few years, though I do hope her editor doesn’t seem to be as bored as they were doing this one. There were SO MANY throat bobbings, loosened breaths and ellipses and repeated information that were totally unnecessarily and it was SO LONG. The bobbing throats really pissed me off at times, too.

I found this to be about 700 pages of episodes. Because it felt extremely episodic. And it’s billed as Feyre infiltrating the Spring Court and finding shit out but SPOILER ALERT – she’s out within the first 20% of the book and then it’s all Velaris and talking about war. Which is not what I expected. I wanted spying and manipulating, not “oh by the way, I did this”.

BUT – I did enjoy seeing the other courts, and the tension in whether others would help or not. The introduction of monsters, and Nesta and Elain were great additions to bring to the fore in this novel. Cassian and Nesta were lovely. I just wish we’d known more about it in the round-up in the

And I did cry. I hated that I cried, but I did, because of women camaraderie ❤

While I still adore the Illyrian, Rhys and Feyre sex scenes seemed pretty basic, simply because the tension wasn’t there any more. I could have done without it. And Rhys – while still lovely – didn’t have the same spark as he’d had in ACOMAF. Everyone loves a smirking little shit, and we lost that in this one.

This seemed to be aimed for the die hard SJM fans, the readers who live to absorb her world. I really did enjoy the world building and characters, despite the book’s problems, and found it entertaining. But substance? Maybe not. There seemed just too many elements in this volume for her to wrap up and give justice too. In ACOMAF and ACOTAR it was pretty small and neatly wrapped, in this one, it was like Pandora’s box – so many different things spinning out like webs couldn’t be contained to give the proper attention.

This could have done with being split IMO.

The only reason this gets 4.5* and not lower is because I did care about Nesta, Amren, Elain, Azriel, Cassian and Rhys – even the monsters, which were not used for much effect which I found unfortunate.

The reason it doesn’t get the full 5* is because of the fucking bobbing. And so many sodding courts and names I lost count.

I would have liked it to round out a bit better, but I suppose she has to find a way to lure casual readers to buying more books somehow. I might pick up future books, but probably only to borrow.

PitchWars · Uncategorized

#PitchWars Advice

I ended up copying and pasting my tweet feed here! For all of you entering PitchWars this year, GOOD LUCK but also take a moment to review information on self care, and taking a step back when you need to –

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Ok so I kinda wanna tweet advice for #PitchWars since I’ve entered twice now, and this year will be my third

AND last year I was lucky enough to be an unofficial mentee with the lovely @mkengland and @jamiepacton #PitchWars

Since it’s almost time for the blog hops and the competitions and the sheer joy of it, I wanted to point out something

A major thing about #PitchWars is that it can overtake your life. NGL. It’s very easy to obsess about the PW milestones / events

In my case, I’d stay up til the early hours watching the mentor talks which were SUPER helpful #PitchWars

I’d watch the feed all the time, engage with the community (I love you, PW community) and anxiously prepare my MS

BUT – and this is a big but (heh) – *anxiously* slipped over into actual anxiety for me. Because #PitchWars meant so much

Now my advice is to SELF CARE at every opportunity. #PitchWars is an incredible asset, it’s true, but it’s not the end OR beginning of your writing journey.

It can seem that way for some people. Especially if you’re passionate about writing and getting your work out there, PW can seem like a life line

But you will not enjoy #PitchWars if particular aspects of your health are exasperated by what’s supposed to be a wonderful & unifying experience.

Be sure to take time out and see this for what it is – an opportunity, on the long road to publication, to give you a helping hand.

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#PitchWars is a competition, yes. But I doubt ANYONE in the community would want you to burn yourself out just to be a part of it.

If you feel like you’re too nervous, take a step back. Engage with your writer friends, privately if you like, and voice concerns.

Nobody will judge you, nobody will think you’re not up to it. It’s perfectly natural to worry about your writing cause let’s face it

Even bestselling authors still wonder about their ability and have crisis of confidence. It’s not wrong to experience that.

But don’t compare yourself to the other hopefuls. Especially if #pimpmybio comes back, don’t compare yours to others. It’s just graphics.

Some people can pitch better than others, what matters is that you’re a) writing something you love and b) not an asshole

I guess my ultimate advice is – be excited, be happy, be engaging in #PitchWars but draw the line if you start feeling overwhelmed.

#PitchWars is ultimately a place of love, encouragement and help. Get to know other writers, bond with CPs. That could be your focus 🙂

Alright, I think I’m done. That was waaaay longer than I intended! GROUP HUG!

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