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Cookie Break

Writer, stationery addict & occasional cat pillow. Adorer of all things cute. Tea and pasta fanatic.

WWW Wednesday 7th December 2016

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This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW WednesdayThis meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always🙂

No outlandish amount of books in my post this week! We’re back to the normal three!😀

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What I’m currently reading

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Surrender

I only just started this yesterday so I’m not very far into it yet. I loved the first book in this trilogy so I’m confident that I’ll devour this one, too! It’s the final one of my three ARCs, so after this one I can get back to my ever-growing book stack!

Blurb:

Sophia Woodville’s life is anything but ordinary. You can’t be ordinary when you’ve discovered your’e an Earth-born Angel. Alone and suddenly powerless in the stinking heat of the Daimon realm, Sophia has been betrayed by the one person she trusted most. She must find a way to escape and continue her quest to unravel the clues left for her eyes only, fighting the Zombie-like Rogues to preserve the prophecies of Enoch. Only then can the Fallen Angels return to their homeland and humanity be released from the grip of Yeqon and his evil horde.

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What I recently finished reading

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Eléonore

Eléonore is the second of my aforementioned ARCs🙂 I had such high expectations for this, and it smashed all of them❤ My full review is out tomorrow, or you can find it now on Goodreads.

Blurb:

Eléonore Dormant’s life is a precarious balancing act: librarian by day, demon hunter by night and single mother around the clock. Each day brings its challenges and she brings her A-game. It helps that coffee and a bottle of painkillers are always in supply.
For six years, she’s protected the streets of Montreal from all manner of demons and the consequent evil that they would wreak on her city. But even a resumé like hers isn’t enough to prepare her for the unforeseen night when she becomes the hunted.
A sorcerer, an enigmatic Elder, has placed a hefty bounty on her head and the demons are eager to claim the reward for her capture. They bear down on her, disrupting her mode de vie and endangering her son’s life all in one fell swoop. But Eléonore is ready to fight whatever Hell deigns to send her way to save him. The path she pursues will lead her to new places and old faces.
One thing is certain, Eléonore’s about to get into a whole hellhole of trouble.

and…

www-09112016-4Fay Storms

Fay Storms is the first ARC. Because it won’t be out until next year my review here will have to wait, but you can already find it on Goodreads if you wish🙂 It’s a confident debut novel with a couple of smaller flaws, but nothing that stopped me from reading. Many of the sentences were too long for my liking and I’m still not sure how I felt about the main character Fifer, but the world building and its history were excellent! I definitely recommend keeping an eye out for it next year🙂

Blurb:

Thief by trade. Half-breed by blood. Fifer is part-Fay and all pluck.

When her partner goes missing and she is abducted by demanding clients, Fifer finds herself trapped in a plot she wants no part of. By fulfilling her contract with the Aestus, the brotherhood of powerful and secretive warriors, she will discover that she’s not what she thinks.

The Aestus need her—even though Arkadius, Master in training, can’t see it. In order to stop the Aestus clans from warring among themselves, Arkadius must rely on Fifer to steal a powerful magical artifact. But how can a woman save the mighty Aestus? When he discovers the answer, the fate of the Empire will rest on the edge of his sword.

and…

www-23112016-2The Colour of Magic

This was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. It was every bit as mad as you might expect, and I really enjoyed my first trip to the Discworld! (although, you know, I could have sworn I’ve read the second book earlier this year…) I’ve been assured by several people that they only get better, so I’m really looking forward to reading the other forty over the next three to fifteen years🙂

Blurb:

In the beginning there was…a turtle.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…

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What I think I’ll read next

www-14092016-4The Night Circus

Well. Technically I’m reading this now and have been for a couple of weeks. However, with two ARCs being published this month I had to put it on hold for the moment. I only got to page 67 so I might just start over when I’m done with Surrender. I have not given this beauty the attention it deserves and will make up for that as soon as I can. It might be my first read of 2017 at this point, but what better way to start the new year?❤

Blurb:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

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Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

Eight Writerly Routines

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What’s better than one writer’s routine? You guessed it – eight of them!😀 As writers we’re naturally curious and, yes, nosy, so today I’m bringing you the routines of eight writers from all stages in their careers. Some of the amazing people below are at the very beginning of their game, while others have published several books already. All of them have published at least one book – which makes this post a great source of information!

For a lot of new writers the routines they’re meant to have elude them. Truth is, there’s no right or wrong way of putting the words to paper/screen, and the eight authors below show just how different a routine can be. I hope this puts your mind at rest if you’re a new writer starting out, and if you’ve already released a book baby into the scary world I hope you get something from this post regardless🙂

Holly Evans Profile PicHolly Evans, Author of the Infernal Ties series

I was honoured when Sarina approached me to talk a little bit about my writing routine! Then I realised, with a little awkwardness, that I don’t have much of a routine. I’m one of those writers who only write when they’re inspired. I absolutely refuse to sit down and write unless I’m in the right headspace. Fortunately I write pretty quickly, so I can pull this off. This means that I don’t set aside any set time to write. What I do instead is finish up pretty much everything I have to do in that day, my freelance work, niggly paperwork, errands etc, then I relax and run the story through my head. That means that I rarely sit down and waste time going ‘ssooo… what am I writing next?’ When I sit down, it’s already straight in my head and I get those chapters written as quickly as possible.  If I can write, I do so until I can’t any more. If I can’t, I read or watch a movie.

This does get a little bit difficult when I look at my deadlines, because they’re pretty tight. I have a strict publishing schedule that means I have around about 10 weeks to produce one book, from start to finish. About 6 of those weeks, (sometimes more) is then devoted to editing so I do have to write at a reasonable clip. To do this, I do a good amount of character development and world-building, with loose outlines for the plot. I freaked myself out when I tried a truly in depth outline, I need the freedom to play and explore, otherwise I shut down and can’t do it. Knowing my world and characters gives me the space to play in, without taking away that freedom. Oh and I absolutely must have music when I write, Spotify is a godsend! All in all, it’s a bit chaotic, but it works for me.

Find Holly on Twitter, her blog, and Goodreads

kathryn-evansKathryn Evans, Author of More of Me

I’m a really busy person– I work full time on our family farm, have two kids and do a lot of volunteering plus I have a couple of time consuming hobbies. I’ve learned to jam my writing in wherever and whenever I can – It’s getting trickier now, with all the book promotion stuff, but it’s the same rules really. I’m lucky that I can work in short, intense bursts of time – give me 40 focussed minutes and I can usually turn around quite a lot!  If I can get to writing first thing in the morning, it’s usually the best time, but that’s quite often not possible. Am often writing on trains, in the hairdressers or while waiting to pick up a child from somewhere!

I’m a sort of Plonter or a Plattser…I need to know where I’m going and what the highs and lows of my story are, but then I just write. It does mean a lot of going back and forth but we all have to edit, right? I wish I could plot properly, I think it would save a lot of time – but maybe it wouldn’t, maybe all the time I spend correcting stuff I would have spent plotting!

Find Kathryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, her blog, and Goodreads

liz-meldonLiz Meldon, Author of the Lovers and Liars series and the Games We Play series

My goal is to write daily. Whether it’s just a few hundred words or two thousand, I aim to get a little done each day. Now, I write both as a freelancer and as an indie author, and I split my week up accordingly. At the moment, three days a week are dedicated to freelance work, with a set weekly word count decided in advance that I split equally between the three days. Personal work gets three days too, and Sundays are usually my day off.

Both freelance and personal writing days tend to go the same. Before sitting down to write, I go through all my social media, emails, or any other internet distractions so I don’t feel the need to check during my writing stints. Twitter distractions are my biggest struggle!

Once I’ve sorted out my online distractions, I occasionally disconnect the WIFI on my laptop so I won’t be tempted to go clicking around while writing. I then set up my timer (I write in 15 minute stints, then take a break), open my word count app, and confirm what scene I’ll be working on or what word count I need to hit.

Stretching out my wrists is incredibly important—and it should be for you too! Find a little routine that works for you to maintain wrist health. You need those hands to write, after all.

From there, I just go. I write until my timer goes off, maybe a little over, record my word count (yeay accomplishments!) then take my break to avoid burnout. Rinse and repeat this routine until my word count is hit or my designated scene for the day is complete!

Find Liz on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

kjchapmanK. J. Chapman, author of the EVO Nation series, and Thrown to the Blue

When it comes to a writing routine, I’m stretched to pull one together. I’m a pantser and a slap dash drafter; take an idea and run with it. Every draft is a journey of discovery for me. That being said, I do keep notes and snippets of dialogue that may or may not make it into the final cut, but my most important notes are the ones I write specifically for when I get to the editing stage- aspects that need more research, or chapters to add to make the ending plausible etc. Due to family life, I have to write when and where I can. On bad days, I don’t write at all. On good days, I can manage up to 3k words or more. The triumph is getting that first draft under my belt, no matter how I do it.

Editing is where routine features more highly on my agenda. I always redraft using my notes, and more often than not, I redraft my redraft. Being a pantser, I have to sift through the ramblings a fair bit. Once the redraft is complete, I comb through the manuscript for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. A rough deadline helps me to get through the edits in time to send the manuscript to my proof reader. I’m not an editing fan, so deadlines help me to slog through it.

My best advice is to do what suits your goals, lifestyle, and your sanity. Right and wrong is subjective when it comes to creativity. Do whatever it is that helps you get that first draft written.

Find K. J. Chapman on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

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James Fahy, author of the Phoebe Harkness series and The Changeling series

I know there are writers out there who plan every last line and detail of their books. Flowcharts, post-it notes pinned to the wall and joined to one another with a web of cotton like some serial killer’s crime scene investigation, but that’s not for me. I think too much micro-management can lead to dull writing. Your characters need room to breathe and express themselves. (within SOME kind of framework of course)

I like to initially split a novel into three ‘Acts’, as though it were a movie or a play. The Setup, the ‘Meat’ and the Conclusion. I have to know exactly what needs to happen in each of these three chunks to move the story forward and control pacing well. Once I’ve rolled the tale around in my head for a few weeks, and I’m sure of the shape of it, I’ll then usually break each of these three acts down into working chapter titles (even if these don’t make it into the final book)

It’s at this point you have to trust your characters to get you from A to Z. You’ve drawn the map as best you can, now it’s time to hand over the wheel to them and trust them to drive it forward. Hopefully, if your characters are strong and well realised, you can trust them to do all the work. It’s always surprising to me what back lanes, unexpected turn offs and occasional dead ends they take you down along the way, but it’s the absolute joy of writing just to fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

Find James on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, his blog, and Goodreads

beverley-leeBeverley Lee, author of The Making of Gabriel Davenport

I don’t have what I deem a ‘normal’ routine, as in sitting down at a certain time of day to write, but it tends to be the afternoon most recently. I like to get the real life things out of the way first as I find I can concentrate more. When I am in writing mode (as opposed to editing mode, which seems to be my default right now!) I usually have a word count for the day that I like to complete. There’s something so satisfying about seeing that number creep up daily. I rarely plan what I want to write in any session, I always just listen to what my characters tell me and where they want to go.

With all my drafts I write from beginning to end, even if I know what certain scenes will be further along. I find it helps keep me focussed more than jumping about. As far as rituals are concerned I write in silence and I have to have tea on my desk and be comfortable. Writing in lounging wear somehow makes the words flow much sweeter😉

Find Beverley on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog, and Goodreads

alan-morganA. Morgan, author of The Siblings

My writing can be varied. I can write pretty much anywhere, but mostly use my phone (as I have done for this) using the Werdsmith app. My favourite place to write is in bed. Nice and chilled. When I was writing my first novel The Siblings, I was writing a minimum of a thousand words a day, everyday. After a few months I had a draft but it was brutal. It can be hard to keep up a schedule like that with full time work commitments, a busy home life with visiting new places and other things I like to dabble in.

I have now changed it up and write to a less strict word count. I am a pantser at heart but have been  known to make notes and outlines where necessary, to ensure that certain stories do not get out of hand. I have so many ideas rattling around right now in my mind that it’s hard to stick to one. But my main focus soon will be The Siblings Two in the new year.

Find A. Morgan on Twitterhis blog, and Goodreads

gr-thomasG. R. Thomas, author of The Avean Chronicles

Initially I had zero routine when I began writing. I was quite literally free-range. Many a post-it-note was plastered to my walls; yellow, pink and blue ones with scrawled ideas. My plotting to this day still relies heavily on voice memos and those little coloured squares.  Often though I still just write off the cuff and let the story take me where it wants to go. Characters in particular, seem to develop themselves, despite what I may actually want for them.  

I developed an effective daily routine for the writing of my second book as my life is chaotic. Three kids and a farm to run, I needed a dedicated writing time.  I began visiting my local coffee shop after dropping the kids to school. I now dedicate at least 2 hours to solid writing. Whether that is plotting, editing or putting down new words.

So, what did I discover when I treated my writing as a job? It worked! Surrounded by the smell of coffee wafting through the air, punctuated with the white noise of the chatter-chatter in the back ground, I actually zone out and achieve more than I did previously. I would often look up and the hours had melted away as the cups and saucers piled up.

This is what works for me and I love every second of it.

Find G. R. Thomas on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads

How do you fit writing (photography, sculpting, painting, marketing, etc.) into your daily routine? Get a cookie and a tea – believe me, you’ve earned the break! – and let me know in the comments!🙂

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

A Chat with Danielle E. Shipley

 

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It’s already time for the last author interview this year! Is anyone else shocked it’s December as of today? Did anyone else rip into their advent calendar this morning? (which I’m totally not too old for… I figured if our Sellybean gets one it’s only fair if we indulge, too.)

Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Danielle E. Shipley, who’s here to talk about her novel The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale!

Danielle writes young adult fantasy novels. She’s no stranger to the publishing business and has previously published The Wilderhark Tales series – and that makes today’s interview all the more exciting! Her knowledge and advise is based on plenty of experience, and I strongly recommend you read on if you want to learn something!😉

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Hi Danielle, and welcome to Cookie Break! Congratulations on publishing The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale. Releasing a new book into the world is THE best feeling!

Thanks very much! I’m dreadfully pleased about it. *fondles beloved book baby*

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please!😉

My Outlaws of Avalon trilogy in brief: Camelot’s heroes and Sherwood’s most wanted are magically alive, conditionally immortal, and ingeniously incognito in a modern day Renaissance Faire. Enter Allyn-a-Dale, a minstrel dropped in (yes, literally) from a far-off fantasy world. Book 1’s the introductory adventure. After that, it’s deeper down the rabbit hole we go!

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

One favorite quote from among the outlaws’ unending banter? Ay-yi! Well, here’s giving it my best shot:

“Why do people do that?” Robin wondered, annoyed. “Just break the rules for fun? Breaking the rules is not fun.”

Little John looked at him.

“Well, that’s different,” Robin smiled. “The Merry Men make everything fun. And anyway, we always had our reasons.”

“Right,” said Little John. “Fun.”

“And justice. And slightly convoluted integrity.”

Little John said soberly, “I only joined up for the fun.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale?

Vividly. There I was, standing outside the gates of the Bristol Renaissance Faire (check it out if you’re ever in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on a summer weekend), and who should appear on the balcony above but the dashing Robin Hood! Not the real Robin Hood, of course and alas; only an actor. But that got me thinking: How amazing would it be if some Ren Faire somewhere housed the honest-to-goodness legend of old? And that very next autumn, “Ballad” was born.

What are you working on right now?

On the publishing front, I’m making ready for the release December 6th of the Outlaws of Avalon holiday special: “An Avalon Christmas Carol”. Writing-wise (at the time of this interview), I’m gearing up to take part in my sixth National Novel Writing Month – my first NaNoWriMo, incidentally, being the one in which I wrote “Ballad”. We’ll see where the muse takes me this time!

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What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I actually didn’t really get into fantasy until my teens. Then I guess I gradually became aware that I want more out of stories (and out of life, really) than what is generally considered “realistic”. So now I come up with places like Avalon Faire, where – as Marion Hood so pithily put it – “There is a lot of overlap…between the truth and the impossible.”

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

A dash of wishful thinking, a dollop of my misery wanting company in characters’ suffering, a bit of blind creation in the hope of tripping over something cool or funny or painfully beautiful… this, that, and everything, really.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

Either just keep spinning the straw until it starts to turn golden, or walk away until the muse chooses to woo me. The tricky part is knowing when to employ which tactic.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

The actual writing part. Just putting one word in front of the other. That’s… actually the answer to both questions. Pulling the story out of the blank page is my happy place, even if I’m sometimes a chicken about getting started.

What is your number one distraction?

Social media. They say it’s a marketing must, but yikes, what a time-sucking void it can be to shout into!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I must prefer to plot, though I have been on occasion known to pants a project.

Tea or coffee?

Tea, forever and always.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

1 = That saying about “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Not necessarily true. The thing you love can be work. Painful work, even. And that’s okay.

2 = Anything that depends on the reactions of others – fame, money, your book’s placement on this or that public shelf – is tragically out of your control. But the art you create is all on you. So make sure that, amidst your literary goals, you can reach at least one all by yourself, no outer validation needed.

3 = There will always be a better writer than you. Keep writing, and that better writer could be you.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?

How do you write like you need it to survive?

How do you write ev’ry second you’re alive?

Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?”

“Non-Stop” (Hamilton) by Lin-Manuel Miranda

(Quotes don’t tend to stick to me unless they’re set to music.)

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Hit the save button, close the laptop, and get something to eat before you pass out, Danielle.”

Where else can we connect with you?

That time-sucking social media I mentioned? I’m there, from time to time.

My blog, Ever On Word

The Twitter account of @DEShipley

My book-lovin’ face on Facebook

And because he begged so persistently, I let Will Scarlet loose on Tumblr

Thank you so much, Danielle, for a wonderful and insightful interview! Don’t forget to check out Danielle and her books on Goodreads, too – there’s plenty to discover!

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For all other interviews, take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

My Favourite Reads of 2016

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I’ve had amazing luck with my reading this year. Most of the books I’ve read were either every bit as good as I’d hoped they’d be, or they’ve exceeded expectations! I’ve found some incredible new authors, some new favourites, and the forever shelf on my bookshelf has had quite a few new additions, too! Thanks to Goodreads next year promises to be just as exciting – but right now I’d like to look back over the best books I’ve read this year, and make some recommendations while I’m at it🙂

Watch out for the indie edition of this post in a couple of weeks, too!😉

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Warheart marked the end of a long, wonderful series for me. In total there are 17 books, including the prequels, in the Sword of Truth series, so finishing it was bittersweet for me. I’d spend so much time in Goodkind’s world that moving on wasn’t easy, but at the same time I was excited to dive into something new. This was High Fantasy at its best for me, and I can’t recommend them enough! The first book is called Wizard’s First Rule – just be prepared for a long ride!

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I was drawn in by the cover and the blurb, although, I’ll admit, I thought this was about someone with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder (split personality)) It’s not. It’s about a girl who literally splits into two every year around her birthday, and that makes this one hell of an emotional roller coaster! Don’t finish it in public. You’ll want chocolate, and a lot of tissues! (I can’t stress enough how many tissues you’ll need – or how much chocolate!)

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I received The Name of the Wind as a Christmas gift a year ago. I hadn’t heard of it before and its size was intimidating, which is why it waited a little longer on my shelf before I braved it. The second book is even longer, but if you want an Epic Fantasy story (you know you do, don’t live in denial!) then it doesn’t get much better than these! Once I’d started reading the length no longer bothered me. You know a book is good when you’re halfway through its 994 pages and want more!

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I admit, I had my difficulties with these two. They were slow starting for me, and they didn’t draw me in as much as they did everyone else, but they still deserve to be on here for the incredible world building, wonderful magic, and fantastic characters! If you haven’t read these yet you probably want to. Go on, treat yourself!

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Do I need to say anything? Just read them. They were wonderful, fantastic, and everything I want in a book. Please read them. Read them now!

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I actually hesitated putting this on here, because I saw the film afterwards and the film was terrible, and ruined it for me. But then I remembered the beautiful writing style, and remembered that the film did it an injustice. I really enjoyed this book, and think that you might, too. If you’ve seen the film, ignore it. The book is so. Much. Better!

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane was everything you might expect from a Neil Gaiman novel – Magical and wonderful, and it did something not many books manage. It left me feeling empty. It stayed with me for a while after I finished it, and it made me wish magic was real more than any other book has done. This was the first year I picked up a Neil Gaiman book, and he’s immediately become one of my favourite authors.

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Because I didn’t enjoy ADSoM and AGoS as much, I went in with low expectations but This Savage Song made up for it. It was so beautifully written, and I found an insane amount of quotes for my little red book! The sequel is on my insta-buy list, and I’m really looking forward to it.

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This was another one for my little red book. The writing style in this was different than most books I’ve read but stunning, and I ended up with so many quotes I loved! Along with The Name of the Wind and Six of Crows, this book is my happy place. If I’m ever stuck in my own writing, I leave through this, and it makes everything better ^-^

What are your favourite reads this year? If you were to recommend only one book (… fine, make it two), which would it be?

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For all my book reviews, please take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, click me!

A-Z Name Prompts – C

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Happy Monday, everyone!🙂

Can you believe December begins in only a few days? That’s one hell of a wake-up call for my fellow NaNonites! I hope you’re not too stressed out about it, and took the weekend to recharge before launging your final assault.

If you need to take your mind of your WIP, or if you just want to have a bit of fun, then good news! You guys really have it in for me this week! If this writing prompt doesn’t make your creative juices flow (is anyone else slightly disgusted by that saying? I always picture someone’s wounds leaking when I hear it…)

This week’s prompt, chosen by you, is:

See what I mean? If writing about someone whose name means Dark Farm doesn’t inspire you to go nuts, I don’t know what will😛

If the prompt speaks to you, please go ahead and borrow it! If you decide to publish it on your own blog, or somewhere else, please link back here so I can be nosy ^-^ Happy writing!

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Colby

(m.; dark farm)

As long as Colby didn’t focus on what was behind him, he could almost pretend that everything was fine, and normal. Except, the feeling in the pit of his stomach wouldn’t go away, and the longer he stared at the wide open cornflower fields before him, the more he struggled not to turn around. He had seen too many horror movies. He felt like something invisible was beckoning him to turn around, and walk inside.

His grandmother lived in the countryside, and the summers were always hotter here than they were in the city. The heat was getting to him. That must’ve been it. Didn’t his grandmother always chastice him for not drinking enough? He was probably dehydrated, or something like that.

That fearful tugging in his stomach was stupid, of course. His grandmother had lived in this farm house for over fifty years, and Colby had visited her every summer for a week. Every year he’d had the same feeling of dark foreboding, and wrongness. Not once had anything bad happened to him. If anything, Colby was more relaxed here than he was back home in London.

He’d be eighteen next week. If he didn’t want to come next year, his parents wouldn’t be able to make him.

He tried to focus on the cheerfull trill of the birds in the ancient willow tree beside him. His mind followed the tune, as best as he could, and he whistled along. Whistling always made him feel better. Nothing could go wrong when you were whistling a happy tune together with the robins.

“Colby?”

He jumped, and scraped his arm along the rough bark of the willow.

“Yes?” His grandmother was ninety-eight years old. She needed help with most things, especially where the farm and household were concerned. He helped her keep things neat and tidy, and in return she baked him apple pie. It was a pretty good arrangement, as far as he was concerned.

The fine hairs on his arms stood on end when his grandmother didn’t respond. If she had fallen and hurt herself he needed to help her, call an ambulance. He couldn’t do either of those things while he was out here.

He took a deep breath in, and faced the house. Beautiful white walls, flowers in the windows, and the smell of a freshly baked cobbler. Little figurines of girls in blue dresses, and sunflowers. His grandmother’s farm house was all of those things. He felt stupid for being intidimated by it, but if his gut feeling persisted.

But that was stupid. He had come here for the last ten years, sometimes twice a year, and nothing had ever hurt him. Colby was too old to be frightened of creaking floor boards, and the shadows that only lived in the corners under his bed.

“Grandma? Are you in the bathroom?” He hated helping her up from the bathroom floor. She had only fallen twice while he had been with her, but one time she had just come out of the shower and the sight still haunted his memory. He’d rather she was somewhere else, like the kitchen. Not the bedroom. Nowhere where people usually undressed.

“I’m in the cellar, dear. Be a darling and give me a hand?”

Colby breathed a sigh of relief. The cellar was the one place in this house that didn’t spook him. He couldn’t explain it, but dark basements had held a strange fascination for him since he had been seven years old.

He walked down the old steps, skipped the broken one, and paused. There was no one down here.

“Grandma?”

She didn’t respond. A faint wisp of light shone through the door at the end. She had to be in there.

Colby took one step towards the door, and the dark feeling rushed over him. This wasn’t right. Hadn’t his grandmother gone out to the hairdresser? How had he forgotten that she wasn’t home?

He wanted to run the other way. Who had called him if not his grandmother? Could he have imagined it? It had sounded so much like her.

He began to turn around, but his feet moved on their own, ever towards the door at the end of the cellar. His hand reached out for the shelves, the table, the smooth wall, but it made no difference. His feet no longer needed his permission.

He panicked, and covered his eyes with his hands. He didn’t want to see what was to come. He already knew.

He sneezed. His hands had left dusty patches around his eyes and nose. He noticed dust everywhere now, like no parts of the cellar had been touched in a long time. Like a year.

And with that realisation, his memory returned. His grandmother had died five years ago. His parents knew. His parents were behind this.

His feet walked through the door, and he exhaled one loud, scared sigh. The creature his parents had fed his blood to was there, in the middle of the room, as it had been every year. Last year he had cried too hard to do anything but let it happen.

But not this year. This year, Colby refused.

He whistled – and his hidden magic replaced his fear.

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For all other writing prompts, check here.

For CookieBreak’s homepage, click me.

All writing belongs to the author, Sarina Langer

TITLE REVEAL! *drum roll*

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It’s time!!😀

I can’t tell you how much trouble this title has given me! Over the past few months I’ve had so many different ones, but none of them were quite right so I waited. And waited. And waited. And-

You get the idea.

So, I’m beyond excited to finally share the title of Book 2 in this series with you! Are you ready?

Drum roll, please! *drrrr*

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Here it comes….

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Book 2 in the Relics of Ar’Zac series, and Rise of the Sparrows‘ little sister, will be titled Wardens of Archos! :’D

What do you think? Do you like it? ^-^

The blurb will be announced early next year😉

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


All content belongs to the author, Sarina Langer.

For all previous updates on my books’ progress, click me!

For Cookie Break’s front page, take a look here.

Review: The Last Day of Captain Lincoln

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Captain Lincoln’s last day is the hardest day of his life.

An old, onetime Captain of the interstellar spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal, Lincoln always knew that this day would come. For just as birthdays are carefully planned, so are deaths. And although he must reckon with his fate, this is not a somber story. It is a tale of love and sacrifice, told in the context of the most advanced civilization ever to exist—a society that has taken to the stars in an effort to save all that is best in humanity.

Follow Lincoln through his internal struggles, his joy in having lived, and his journey to peace.

The End is just the beginning.

www-28092016-2What I thought:

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Well, this wasn’t what I expected! It was good, but it didn’t feel like a novel to me, more like a creative essay on mortality.

The blurb tells you everything you need to know, although I find the last line misleading. The book gives you exactly what the blurb promises, no more, no less – Captain Lincoln wakes up on his last day, and goes through his everyday life one last time.

Captain Lincoln lives aboard a spaceship headed for Earth 2. It’s several generations after the ship left Earth, and the people living on it have adapted. In fact, besides the videos and images of our Earth, the people aboard the Hope Eternal don’t really know life any other way.  Because resources and space are limited, people no longer reproduce the natural way. Eight new babies are born every five years, and to ensure that resources don’t run out, the oldest generation dies to make room for the young ones. The technology and sense of community on the ship are well described and intriguing, and exactly why I love sci-fi so much!

My favourite aspect of this book was definitely the reflection on our mortality. Any book that makes me think earns brownie points, and this one delivered! Because it’s short I got through it in only a few days, too.

Because it’s Captain Lincoln’s last day alive, there are no surprises, no cliff hangers at the end of the chapters, and no plot twists. It’s just not that kind of book. Because he realises at the beginning of the book that he doesn’t want to die, I had hoped for a bit of conflict with him trying to stop it, but nothing of the sort happened. He accepts his fate and that’s that.

I said at the beginning that this book felt more like a creative essay to me than a novel, and that’s down to several reasons. Every chapters starts with a beautiful quote on death, and throughout the author quotes and paraphrases philosophers, relevant writers and others, and when you get to the end there’s a bibliography. Scattered throughout are images which are supposed to show different parts of the book, but they didn’t work for me. I don’t think they add anything, and Lincoln looked too young for an eighty year old man in them.

So, to summarise: The Last Day of Captain Lincoln was interesting but I feel that more could have been done with it. I love that it makes you think about your mortality, and the technology and society on the ship were intriguing and believable, but because there were no surprises there was also no excitement for me. It’s simply an eighty year old man coping with his mortality and his last day alive. (I say that like it’s a small, insignificant thing… You know what I mean.)

It’s quite different and didn’t read like a novel to me, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you enjoy sci-fi and/or books that make you think I’d definitely recommend it!

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Have you read The Last Day of Captain Lincoln, or would you like to? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

WWW Wednesday 23rd November 2016

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This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW WednesdayThis meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always🙂

No outlandish amount of books in my post this week! We’re back to the normal three!😀

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What I’m currently reading

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Fay Storms

I received an ARC of Fay Storms in exchange for an honest review.

So far it’s a bit of a slow start for me and the sentences are too long for my liking, but I like the characters, especially Fifer, and am looking forward to learning more about her. Because Fay Storms is out next month I’ll prioritise it to give me enough time to write a review for its release day. I’m hoping to get through it late this week.

Blurb:

Thief by trade. Half-breed by blood. Fifer is part-Fay and all pluck.

When her partner goes missing and she is abducted by demanding clients, Fifer finds herself trapped in a plot she wants no part of. By fulfilling her contract with the Aestus, the brotherhood of powerful and secretive warriors, she will discover that she’s not what she thinks.

The Aestus need her—even though Arkadius, Master in training, can’t see it. In order to stop the Aestus clans from warring among themselves, Arkadius must rely on Fifer to steal a powerful magical artifact. But how can a woman save the mighty Aestus? When he discovers the answer, the fate of the Empire will rest on the edge of his sword.

and

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The Colour of Magic

I really wanted a light, witty, and maybe slightly silly read, and since I also wanted to read more Terry Pratchett (it’s a resolution for next year but why wait?) I thought I’d combine the two!

I’ve done this in an odd order. I’m sure I’ve read Books 2 and 3 earlier this year but The Colour of Magic was always out, so when I saw it available in my library I had to borrow it. So far it’s everything I knew it would be, and I’m enjoying it a lot❤

 

 

Blurb:

In the beginning there was…a turtle.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…

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What I recently finished reading

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Isle of Winds

This was so different to my first read by this author, which was an awesome urban gothic novel called Hell’s Teeth (you can check out my review here). This was light-hearted, magical and while it’s aimed at a younger audience than my usual reads I didn’t feel like it was too young for me. I really enjoyed this, and my review will be up next month🙂

Blurb:

Isle of Winds is the first instalment in a Middle-Grade age fantasy series

Robin Fellows lives with his grandmother and lives what appears to be a rather ordinary life for a normal twelve year old boy.

But when Robin’s Gran dies, quite suddenly and a bit mysteriously, his world is turned upside down. A long lost relative comes out of the woodwork and whisks him away to a mysterious new home, Erlking Hall, a quiet estate in the solitary countryside of Lancashire.

Suddenly Robin must adjust to his new reality. But reality is no longer what he thought it was…

Erlking has many secrets – as do his newly found Great-Aunt Irene and her servants. After a strange encounter on the train and meeting a cold, eerie man on the platform, Robin begins to notice odd happenings at Erlking.

There is more than meets the eye to this old, rambling mansion.
Little does he know that there is more than meets the eye to himself.

Robin is the world’s last Changeling. He is descended from a mystic race of Fae-people, whose homeland, the Netherworlde, is caught in the throes of a terrible civil war.

Not only this, but in this new world there is a magical force that has infiltrated the human realm.

Before he can wrench power from the malevolent hands of the Netherworlde’s fearsome tyrant leader, Lady Eris, he must first search for the truth about himself and the ethereal Towers of Arcania.

The first instalment of The Changeling Series, Isle of Winds is an engrossing tale written in the traditions of high fantasy story-telling while carving out a magical new realm. It is perfect for fans of The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series.

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What I think I’ll read next

So many options! It might be a spontaneous decision once I’ve finished Fay Storms, so I won’t declare anything now. If you keep an eye on my Instagram I might well ask for suggestions later this week🙂 I’ve had so many short reads recently that I’m quite far ahead in my reviews now (my review of The Colour of Magic won’t be published here until January), so I’d like something longer… Not too many options there on my bookshelf, so I expect there won’t be much to choose from🙂

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Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

Soul of the Heart’s Story Board on Pinterest

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Today I’ve got some visuals for you!🙂 Given that NaNo has long crossed the half-way mark it’s probably a good thing I’m preparing this post in advance back in October. I expect my sanity won’t be doing too well by now – and a few pretty images is much easier to get through now than lots of text! Our minds have earned a break, NaNonites!

*ahem*

As you might know I’m a wee bit obsessed with Pinterest, and love creating story boards for my WsIP. The images I’ve got for you today are all from my Research Soul of the Heart Board – apart from the image immediately below. I made that myself, all by myself, and it went straight into my Soul of the Heart board🙂 (and yes, I’m just a little bit proud of my creation. It’s not what I studied Photography for but this is what I do now.)

Because this WIP is still in its early stages and I haven’t even decided on a proper title yet, I don’t want to give too much away, but I hope that the images will give you a good idea regardless🙂 I’ll post more details next year when it’s closer to being released – until then, these visuals will have to do.

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Characters

Doran

doran

Naavah Ora

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levi

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Countries

Ceidir

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Hjeva

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Vaska

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Vasael’In

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Are you obsessed with Pinterest, too? Do you create story boards for your novels, or for everything book and inspiration related? Let’s stalk each other! (over tea and cookies, naturally – I wouldn’t have it any other way)

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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