I thought I’d try a new format for my reviews, so I’ll be touching on the overall feelings before I go into the meat itself, which will be spoilery!
So warning now. But I’ll go through worldbuilding, characters, pace and plot.
I thought I’d try a new format for my reviews, so I’ll be touching on the overall feelings before I go into the meat itself, which will be spoilery!
So warning now. But I’ll go through worldbuilding, characters, pace and plot.
2018 looms – it is in fact, only 3 more days away – and I’m already thinking about the habits and patterns I want to bring in to the next 12 months.
Blogging is obviously a priority, and reading more blogs / discovering more content will be something I look forward to. But in this post I want to focus more on what I want to achieve not as a blogger or a writer, but as a reader. I’ll cover personal things in another post 🙂
Thanks to THIS POST I’m joining up on a challenge! This means I read everything I wanted to read prior to 2018 and I set a goal OOOFFFF….
40 Backlisted books!
Let’s see if I can do it!
Literary Agent Dr. Uwe Stender mentioned that if everyone involved in writing / editing / publishing bought ONE book from a proper book store a month, the business would be thriving.
So in order to contribute to this, I will buy one book – either new release or old – every single month to do my bit in keeping this business afloat. I want my career in this business, so it makes sense to support it! Plus 2018 has a TON of books I’m dying to read, so it’s not gonna be too hard.
Sorrynotsorry bank balance…
This year, COUNTING DNF’S, because if I get 200+ pages in I still class that as reading, I read 41 books. Not bad and still over my 40 goal!
However… I want to go beyond that. I want to read one book a week. I’ve no idea how people manage 100+ books a year and I am not an audio book fan. I create a narrator in my head which is unique to that book and most of the time (my director head coming on here) the narrators don’t read the story how I want it to be read. (I know Emma Thompson isn’t available for all audiobooks but please try?!)
I take my time reading content, too, so while I know readers who consume 600+ page novels in a day (dear lord how?!) I’m going to aim for around 50 pages a night. 1 book a week. That’ll work, right?!
I read mostly YA this year and within that it was mostly fantasy. I am trash for a good fantasy novel. But while I dotted it with contemporaries and mysteries within that, I feel like I want to dip my toe into the adult sector again, and get into the other areas of novels that I very rarely pay attention to.
Like historical – I LOVE historical, why don’t I read more of it?! And women’s fiction / chick lit, I devoured three of those books in one 7 day holiday years ago and never touched the genre again. And classics, I need to read more of them! Jane Austen is not the only classic author out there.
She’s my favourite, but not the only one.
SO. I need to branch out. Put on my big girl pants and delve back into difficult books.
In some ways this is tricky – because I want to read from LGBTQA+ authors as well as authors of colour, and not every LGBTQA+ author is out – but I’ll be scouring my TBR pile and prioritizing authors who are classed as diverse, including neurodivergent and disabled.
I pray for the day this type of content becomes normal, and the White Straight (and probably male) Author is no longer the “norm” in publishing.
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.
3 Things about Me
Lex @ Lex Writes
Destiny @ Howling Libraries
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!
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?
What books are you hoping to get to before the end of 2017?
The Hate U Give
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.
While I’m still in the throws of PitchWars, I am making myself clip the TBR pile because it’s currently overwhelming…
To be honest this sounds so strange – a Peter Pan retelling-ish that’s dark and twisty, and I’ve heard little of “Brom” but enough to know their name and… yeah I’ll keep this.
Let’s be honest – the cover isn’t the best. It doesn’t really give a sense of what the story is about BUT – I never try to judge a book by its cover, and the synopsis sounds cool (witch and knight and power and CRUSADES) as well as the reviews, so I’ll give this one a go.
I’ve heard SO MUCH about this book and most of my friends love it so I’m not getting rid of this at all. I can only hope someone buys it for my birthday or something because I never seem to have it top of my list :S
There’s been some half and half reviews on this and to be honest my heart isn’t into the story premise… though I know I should read books I don’t think I’ll like, I’m not sure this is one I want to keep immeditely.
This sounds intriguing – phantoms, darkness, fantasy – but also according to reviews, confusing. A very tentative keep…
The consensus with is… as well as what I’ve actually heard from friends – is that the romance gets in the way of plot with this one. And right now I’m not in the mood. The author is absolutely lovely but I’ll check out her other works instead.
Two of my favourite authors have waxed lyrical over this magical book and so I’M KEEPING IT.
DECISION: KEEP DAMNIT
Zoraida Cordova is an author I’ve yet to read – I know, bad Jade – but I remember putting this one on my list ages ago and then recognising her name because her premises always sound amazing. So I’ll..
DECISION: KEEPITY KEEP KEEP
I am such a sucker for an Arthurian tale, and this centers on young Merlin and – while I’m not 100% sure that this will be a book for me I’ll give it a go.
I AM SUPPOSED TO BE GETTING RID OF BOOKS NOT KEEPING THEM ALL BUT THIS SOUNDS SO COOL I AM KEEPING.
Honestly…. I will continue doing this exercise because I need to narrow this down but it’s not working as much as I hoped because I want to read ALL THE THINGS.
AGH so in the heat of the moment which was PitchWars I forgot to do this on Friday! How this works –
I definitely want to read this one it sounds like delightful magical realism, and I also haven’t read anything from this author so…
I forgot this existed, but it’s definitely something I want to read!
I read the first one, NIGHT WATCH and it really annoyed me. I think it’d take a lot to make me pick up this one, so I’m going to unfortunately…
I BOUGHT THIS RECENTLY IT’S WAITING TO BE READ!
This is such a classic I’m not getting rid of this.
I read an excerpt of this and it was painful.
Dude it’s Tolkien, of course I’m going to read this.
This has got some hype around it but also mixed reviews…. I’ll keep it for now
The plot on Goodreads really doesn’t seem to hold much information about it but I will reserve judgement, because a lot of people say this is a great fantasy
This really doesn’t float my boat. Talking dogs and stuff, sounds zany, but… not really for me.
I was making my breakfast this morning when – either out of hunger or sleepiness – I likened queries to cereal.
By the time I sat eating I’d gone off on a completely new train of thought to do with queries, but all about food (I was REALLY hungry).
So here is a (probably weird) post about queries, what’s needed within them, and what you can do to make sure yours stands out.
As if you don’t know what cereal looks like. I mean.
You don’t want to give someone a cereal query. This is where it’s just the grains of your story and nothing else. Even if it’s something fun with a free toy (ok I might be going a little overboard with this analogy…) the grains of story doesn’t give whoever is reading your query a strong idea of what your book is about. If you just throw in the basics, chances are it won’t be the most interesting
cereal query in the world. For example –
“17 year old Jessica Lisa Eisenstein wants to win a talent show. If she wins the talent show, she’ll get a crown and £100. A boy, Marcus Orelio, thinks Jessica is too much competition so he ruins her dress. To get her revenge Jessica thinks up a huge plot to ruin him – publicly – in front of everyone.”
We know the characters, but it sounds pretty boring – it doesn’t really GRAB people’s attention and say READ ME (unless you want to read about Jessica’s revenge). WHY is the talent show important to Jessica? Why does Marcus want to win so much and think Jessica is competition? What happens if Jessica fulfils her revenge?
This is the play-by-play, read my book, I’m doing this but I don’t think I have a shot query. You can dress it with marmalade or chocolate all you want but it’s still burnt bread – dry and without flavour. If you’re not inspired when writing your query, they won’t be inspired reading it. Where there’s no personal lilt to a query, it can come across as bland as toast.
In my view, the best thing you can give to me as a query-breakfast is the staple hotel morning welcome;
ORANGE JUICE / CROISSANT / CEREAL.
I would have put bacon etc on here but I’ve turned vegetarian so my piggy friends will leave it off this list.
ORANGE JUICE – the refresher
Orange juice is a wonderful, refreshing taste which just zings up your mouth and gives your tongue a little dance. This is what you want your query to do – zing with the tang of your story, your voice and your style to whet the appetite.
CROISSANT – the thing which makes your book UNIQUE
If you think of a croissant chances are you will associate it with France. It’s one of the most uniquely identifying things of France around the world bar the Eiffel Tower. That’s what you want for your book – something which will identify your premise as UNIQUE, what makes it new?! Exciting, bold? Is it the characters, is it the layering of plots? SHOW US YOUR CROISSANT.
…. there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
CEREAL – GRAINS ARE STILL NEEDED, PEOPLE
You can dress up your query with Croissants and OJ but you need to also have the basis of your story, except in this case – with the help of the above – your cereal is like little bits of bread, creating a little trail for query-readers to follow while you ensnare us with your writerly-wiles.
So there you have it – my thoughts on how to write a query based on breakfast foods.
I, unlike a lot of friends of mine, DNF books I can’t handle.
I know, sometimes the book turns around in the last and actually surprises you, I get it. But in my opinion life is too short to read books you’re just not into.
Whether it’s content or the way it’s written, many things can cause people to stop reading. It’s why books are so subjective. Not everyone likes the same TV shows either. For instance *prepares for barrage of stones* I don’t like Game of Thrones.
But what are the particular things which make me so uninspired I choose to stop reading?
Read on, if you care.
This is a biggie. A lot of the time I view writing as a rhythm. Sometimes, particular writers have a sort of style I need to read a few chapters to get into, like a song you need to listen to a couple of times to truly enjoy or understand.
Case in point for me – Uptown Funk.
Once I understand the rhythm I can enjoy a book no end. But a few writers I’ve read and either DNF’d or come close to abandoning, have a very staccato style of writing and it throws me off. Terry Pratchett is world renowned for his humour and writing style, but I’m not a fan unfortunately. I couldn’t ever wrap my head around what he was trying to say and the flow of the writing always felt disjointed to me.
It’s the same when some writers are very to-the-point with the writing, it becomes less of a flow and more of a play-by-play. So… I like it lyrical, not too jumpy, but also not too lyrical.
If you tell me each leaf colour I’m going to scream.
Whether it’s acting out of character, doing Dumb Shit, or simply skimming the surface of what could be an interesting personality, I stay with books for characters. Even if nothing much happens dramatically, if there’s characters rich with personality and voice, I’ll stay.
Of course there are some exceptions – if the MC is far too whingy or weak or just not my kinda person, I usually read on for the side characters but there are some times where everyone is on the same level of either one-dimensional or nasty personalities, or a combination of that and the first reason, then… yeah. It’s annoying.
I am a fan of character-driven novels, but if all you’re doing is having characters talk to each other and nothing else? If your story is just a romance of will they won’t they dragged out over 270 pages and the only thing that happens is she goes shopping?
I will be bored. I’ll be more than bored, actually, I’ll have closed the book and be running around the garden singing songs.
Slow pacing is fine a lot of the time done well, but if there is NO ACTION at all I will be asleep with the book for a pillow.
I get it, especially in YA, that hormones can make you lust after someone. Again in YA, teenagers can say they love someone after an hour. I know I felt really connected to people when I was 17 and formed a very intense, hormonal bond.
HOWEVER, I’m sick of the image of teens who would readily die for someone because of insta-love after 2 days. I’m sure some teens feel so deeply they would, but there are some teens who wouldn’t really believe it as a be-all end-all. I think it sometimes does teens a disservice to imagine that they’d blindly follow someone they love just because they love them.
Like, yeah love is blind sometimes but does it always have to be damaging characters? Follow me off a cliff or else? Psh.
Everyone: Feyre, no!
Feyre: Feyre, yes.
You know, when someone is told 100x NOT to do something and they do it anyway? Without remorse? Or second guessing?
I will put the book down, heave a huge sigh, and may or may not pick it up again. IF they go against someone’s advice who knows better, and the character KNOWS they know better, at least give them a fucking good reason to defy that advice. Not just “because I must!”.
Where to buy? Let’s be honest, you can buy this pretty much everywhere. I borrowed it from a dear friend instead.
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.
Ooo. This is a tough one.
When I’m in a fandom it takes a LOT for me to completely disregard it and hate it and shove it to one side. For instance, even though Buffy is 20 years old I STILL get excited by that shit. I’m still in the Harry Potter fandom, purely for nostalgia’s sake, even though I’m not active in many of the conversations because of bullshitteries from both fans and author.
NOTHING will get me to leave the LOTR fandom. Nothing. Ever.
Also, I’m not active in the Sherlock fandom any more (because WHAT – was that last series?!) but I remember the good old days and it still helped me through depression so yeah.
Here be a list of fandoms which either pissed me off or I tapered off from.
I saw the first X men film about 6 times at the cinema. I do still adore the X-men but I’m nowhere near as active in following new mutants, or anything like that. I no longer go crazy when I see a new film is coming out. The more recent films pale in comparison to the originals IMO but I haven’t seen Logan so I am going to reserve judgement.
4. DOCTOR WHO
GO AWAY GO AWAY GO AWAY
Now, see, this is a fandom I adored but also… I felt Matt Smith got shit scripts despite being the best doctor, Peter Capaldi’s doctor is far too cold for me, I hated Clara, and it’s taken me three or four years to catch up with his series simply because I know he’s going to regenerate at the end of the current one and finally – without Clara, without 12 – I can maybe get into it again. So I need to be up to speed.
But saying that, I’m really not as excited about it as I used to be. Blame Moffatt? Sure.
Because this show damn well lost its way, basically. Series 3 was my favourite, and I never saw the ending because I was at Uni and had no time for additional confusing narratives. I will always hate Kate and Jack but Sawyer, Desmond, Charlie, Hurley, Sun and Jin…. my babies, I heart you.
I still adore Merlin as a series but they fucked up Mordred’s storyline, the ending was rushed, and they’re not bringing him back, so while my admiration and love for Colin Morgan endures, I hardly ever re-watch any of the series just… it was of its time, that’s all.
MOTHERFUCKERS KILLED IANTO AND I AM DONE.
Not only did they kill Ianto, they killed him the DAY BEFORE I GRADUATED UNIVERSITY. And in the universe where anyone can be brought back to life, THEY REFUSED. So on the DAY I graduated, still with hope I would come home to see Ianto alive, nope. They killed a kid for the finale instead, and I couldn’t stand Gwen, so when we were left with her gawpy fucking face and child-killer Jack I deserted.
HE EVEN HAS A SHRINE FFS IT’S STILL THERE AFTER 8 YEARS!!!
IANTO DESERVED BETTER #stillbitter
I was tagged by the gorgeous Hetal Avanee to answer these questions! Be aware I may be rambly at times but I’ll try to inject it with as much concise info as possible 🙂
What draws you to YA?
I had a reading slump for about 7 years. I barely lasted through the books I read, apart from Neil Gaiman’s works, because the adult arena of SFF and fantasy had lost its luster. I wanted more. More diversity, more variety, more risk taking in stories. I wanted to be punched in the gut with emotion (oh boy do I regret that now!).
YA provides all of that for me. It seems to take more risks in themes, stories, voices, etc. where adult is still stumbling along with it a little bit. I love the fact that I can see strong teenagers coming through – because to be honest, even at 29, I still don’t have my shit figured out, so I feel more in tune with the YA characters than I do with adult most of the time!
Also Sci fi and fantasy? YA is KILLING it, AND with the female characters.
Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structure, or seeing where the story takes you?
Both, but to be honest it varies from story to story. Not sure whether it’s just me, and the fact I’m growing with every novel I write, but this tends to be my process:
IDEA! WOW! Ok let’s write this out… brainstorm it… I see these scenes, ok, write those down, tidbits of characters, awesome, great.
*writes out brief plan of novel*
*writes the first 7 chapters faithfully, sticking to the road*
OOoooo look! Shiny new path!
*wanders off entirely and writes self into a corner even though this stuff is half fantastic and half complete drivel*
*cries for about 3 weeks because I can’t bridge between this barren land the path I should ACTUALLY be on*
*figures it out and then writes some more*
I also actually write queries first now, to give myself an outline of it. It seems to really help me keep on track for the heart of the story.
How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?
Since I was teeny tiny I have been writing stories. I just never knew what to do with them. I lived in a time before internet (I KNOW) and my outlet was books, but without the internet I never really thought about the publishing process.
My teacher, when I was young, told me to promise her to always keep writing stories, no matter what else I did. So I kept that promise.
After writing stories about fantasy and other stuff (based on other books I was reading at the time) I started my first proper book. My first novel took me 10 years to complete, my second novel took me a year, and I think it’ll be the same for my third.
What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?
I often listen to music, I have playlists GALORE but I can easily write in the quiet of night (when my ear isn’t ringing and annoying me lately, which is rare). But yeah my playlists help. And I always need a drink of some kind, mostly tea or water.
If you could offer one piece of advice to another writer (OTHER THAN “don’t give up”), what would it be?
Know your characters. It doesn’t matter if the plot works or not just yet, if you don’t know your characters or don’t focus on making them the heart and utter backbone of the story, nobody will care whether their world ends.
What book still has you reeling from its plot twist? (*no spoilers please*)
You know, I don’t think I’m reeling from a plot twist. A lot of them I either knew already from people talking about it or it was like “oh ok”. I think, though, the way Maggie Stiefvater ended the search for the King was REALLY unexpected. I loved that.
What books are you most anticipating for this year?
I need more August!! I adore him.
This sounds fantastic. And LOOK AT THE COVER. I need the US version.
And this one….
AND THIS ONE
In your opinion, which YA book/series has the most unique premise?
GOSH. I’m not sure. Actually I would say the Monsters duology by Victoria Schwab because I haven’t actually read a story about a warring city full of monsters created from bad things happening, so I’d put that.
What is your all-time favorite quote from YA lit?
“I will have you without armour, Kaz Brekker, or I will not have you at all.”
QUEEN INEJ, DUDE. QUEEN. INEJ.
What book do you most hope will have a movie adaption?
Movies are hit and miss. They don’t cram as much intricate information in them and they’re only so long. I’d MUCH rather have a TV series, and since Raven Boys is already happening, I will say SIX OF CROWS. I need to see Scheming Face in real life!