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Category: Books I Love

I love to read, and when I read a book I love I write a review about it! Please bear in mind that I’m not a professional reviewer, neither is it the main purpose of this blog. I do not get paid for my reviews, neither can you bribe me into writing a positive review for a book I didn’t enjoy (then again, no one has tried to offer me cookies before…)

Review: Awakening by Brianna West (Promiscus Guardians, #1)

“Izzy is on the fast track to nowhere. Being ordinary really blew sometimes. That’s until she meets Lucas–a man that’s unlike anyone she’s ever met. Mostly because he isn’t actually a man. He is a supernatural creature that proclaims to police the Light and Dark in order to protect humans.

And Izzy–well–she isn’t the human she thought she was. She is actually a supernatural being as well. And now Lucas is going to do everything in his power to find out what she is and protect her from the Dark lurking around the corner.

Awakening follows Izzy as she navigates this new world of demons, vampires, angels, and many other supernatural creatures. Recruited by the Promiscus Guardians and partnering with the most brooding and devilishly handsome man she’s every met, Lucas, Izzy is suddenly knee-deep up crap creek. Discover the secret behind her power and why it’s such a commodity in her Awakening.”

What I thought:

This book (as well as several others by West) has been on my tbr list for the longest time! I’m so gald I finally decided to read it, because it was awesome <3

I immediately liked Izzy. I like my heroines with a bit of sass and a hell of a lot of attitude and relatability, and Izzy had all of that and more! She has a great sense of humour (see my chosen quotes) and a fabulous attitude. I loved the energy with which she tackled everything. Her humour and sharp wit are in every paragraph, and made every situation, no matter how dark, a delight to read. We share a lot of opinions, friends (see Izzy on tofu below).

I was prepared to fight to the end despite knowing it wouldn’t do me any good – I was clearly outmatched in strength and skill – but I was a woman capable of limitless, hopeless optimism, so I wouldn’t go down without a fight. I might do little more than roughen up his brand name clothing, but goddammit, I would do it in earnest!

Izzy wasn’t the only highlight. The plot was fast paced with no unnecessary information, and thanks to this it was a quick read. I was always excited to see what would happen next, and the occassional plot twists kept me on my toes.

I usually don’t struggle too much to put books down and get on with other things (I’m actually quite disciplined… *awkward cough*), but Awakening made this diffucult. I read every chance I had, and was dying to come back to it when I wasn’t.

I didn’t blame Lucas for what he was, but that didn’t mean I had to like what he ate. It was like being friends with a vegan. Sure we were friends, but don’t think I’m about to be okay with your tofu-eating ways. I’m a carnivore, and your tofu is freaking me out. Put that thing away.

The next book (once I’ve checked it’s not on my kindle already) is definitely going to be included in my next book haul. If you’re looking for an easy, action-filled read with lots of romance, sexy guys, and plenty of supernatural variety, then this is definitely for you!


Have you read Awakening, or do you need more convincing? 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.

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

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Review: On Writing by Stephen King

““Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.”

What I thought:

Part of me is appalled that this is the first book by the King I’m reviewing, but I suppose we all have to start somewhere 😛

I didn’t expect it to be so hilarious, honest, open, and encouraging. I feel like I can come back to this any time I’m stuck with my writing or feel bad about any part of the writing process, and it’ll lift me up. It’s such a wonderful book, friends. I can’t believe it’s sat on my shelf for a few months before I finally read it!

Someone – I can’t remember who, for the life of me – once wrote that all novels are really letters aimed at one person. As it happens, I believe this. I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, ‘I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?’ For me that first reader is my wife, Tabitha.

I’m not entirely sure how to review it beyond that, besides telling you that, if you’re a writer, you need to read this. We writers tend to put ourselves under a tremendous amount of pressure and self-doubt. It’s so important you see that every writer struggles at some point, even legends like Stephen King. You want the encouragement you get from this. And you will learn something. I’ve made so many notes I had trouble deciding which quotes to include and which ones to leave. Once I’ve got a bigger shelf (or just a second shelf would do, actually) I will have a separate space for inspiring books, and this one will be right up there at the front.

At one moment I had none of this; at the next I had all of it. If there is any one thing I love about writing more than the rest, it’s that sudden flash of insight when you see how everything connects.


Have you read On Writing, or do you need more convincing? 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.

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

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WWW Wednesday 17th May 2017

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 Wednesday

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

***

What I’m currently reading

An Ember in the Ashes

Time to see what the fuss is about! 😀 I only started this late last week and haven’t had much time to read since then, but I’m enjoying it so far! The characters are great and the world-building is excellent. Also, Sabaa Tahir has reacted to every tweet I’ve posted about this so far, so I love her <3

I’ve got plenty of time to read this week, so I’m excited to delve into this properly!

Blurb:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Neverwhere

Prepare yourselves. This’ll be in my WWW posts for a while 😛 I’m slowly making progress with Neverwhere. Since I only run for twenty minutes twice a week I don’t get much chance to listen to it. The original narration speed was too slow for my runs, so I sped it up which also helps get through it faster.

I’m really enjoying it. The villains are great and it’s made me smile while running, which I didn’t think was possible!

Blurb:

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

.***

What I recently finished reading

The King

The King was amazing <3 I already loved Meldon’s writing, but she’s sealed my loyalty with this one. It was exciting, had a relatable flawed main character with a fantastic personality, and it had some great steamy bits at the end 😉 This was so much more than an erotic romance, and I can’t recommend it enough (provided you’re old enough for the steamy parts).

Blurb:

Not all vampire hunters dress in head-to-toe leather and sit on rooftops overlooking a gritty vampire-ridden city. Meet Delia Roberts. At twenty-six, she’s a mid-level hunter with the Harriswood League, and, despite her best efforts, isn’t scaling the hunter hierarchy anytime soon.

Months earlier, desperate to prove herself, Delia snuck into an exclusive vampire masquerade, only to wind up with a bite on her neck courtesy of clan leader and gorgeous vampire Claude Grimm. Fearful of the League’s punishment for succumbing to a bloodsucker’s charms, Delia does what she can to hide the bite and pretends the night never happened.

These days, however, Claude is determined to win her over, insisting the spark they felt that fateful night is worth pursuing. As Delia tries to ignore her steadily growing feelings for the enemy and fend off a mounting quarter-life crisis, vampire clan tensions worsen around the quiet city of Harriswood, bringing with them a danger unlike any the League has ever seen.

One that might change the course of history for good.

Awakening

Awakening was my first read by West, but it definitely won’t be my last. I already have one more book by her on my kindle, and I’m thinking it might just come on holiday with me next month 🙂 I meant to have the review up tomorrow, but it’ll be next week instead now :/ Life got busy.

Blurb:

Izzy is on the fast track to nowhere. Being ordinary really blew sometimes. That’s until she meets Lucas–a man that’s unlike anyone she’s ever met. Mostly because he isn’t actually a man. He is a supernatural creature that proclaims to police the Light and Dark in order to protect humans.

And Izzy–well–she isn’t the human she thought she was. She is actually a supernatural being as well. And now Lucas is going to do everything in his power to find out what she is and protect her from the Dark lurking around the corner.

Awakening follows Izzy as she navigates this new world of demons, vampires, angels, and many other supernatural creatures. Recruited by the Promiscus Guardians and partnering with the most brooding and devilishly handsome man she’s every met, Lucas, Izzy is suddenly knee-deep up crap creek. Discover the secret behind her power and why it’s such a commodity in her Awakening.

***

What I think I’ll read next

I shall group both of my next reads together since I found them under similar circumstances 🙂 I know both authors from Instagram where they are absolutely lovely. Both books have been recommended to me several times now, and neither book falls into my usual genre! I used to love murder mysteries, so I’m really excited for The Dragon Sleeps. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like Becoming Lili (fantasy and sci-fi girl here!) but that’s why I’m so excited to read it. The blurb has intrigued me, and books of this genre don’t usually manage that!

Becoming Lili

Blurb:

Never has an ugly duckling turned into such a beautiful swan…

An ugly duckling girl, Phyllis is bullied viciously at school and is unloved at home, a lonely teenager, longing for so much more from life …

Suddenly, a random encounter with a stranger, offers her a chance to have it all … if only she has the courage to change, to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

In the years that follow, as her dreams of attaining friends and beauty are realised, others join her on her journey to Becoming Lili. She realises, even when you seem to have everything, sometimes, the one thing you really want, is the one thing you just can’t have.

Becoming Lili is an epic, heart-warming tale of aspiration, friendship and love set against a backdrop of the vibrant 90’s, and is packed full of unforgettable characters you will instantly fall in love with.

The Dragon Sleeps

Blurb:

A Dragon statue. An ancient sword.

What treasure is worth killing for?

It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A hedonistic time after the Great War
when young people knew they could enjoy life without the threat of war hanging over them. A time when women have more options opened to them.

There is a weekend house party at Thornton Park and Alexandra Thornton thinks it will be a good time to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like him, her grandfather and great-grandfather before her.

Only a small number of people are invited. Amongst the guests are Zhang Huo,
the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton.

Benedict Archer, who is manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne and who has
been secretly helping Alexandra learn more about her family business, is also invited. Alexandra asks Benedict and Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, to be with her when she approaches her father.

When Edith claims that Benedict is in love with her, Alexandra can’t believe it.
In all the time they’d been at Thornton Antiques together, he’d never said
a word. Now, Alexandra looks at him differently.
Can it be true?

Then a body found in the orchard and, before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen. Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought
with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.

What secret has remained hidden atThornton Park for the last eight years?

***

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!

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Review: Remember to Love Me by Becky Wright (Legacy Trilogy, #1)

“1900
Annabelle yearns for nothing more than motherhood. Losing her own mother in child birth at the tender age of four; a gaping hole has grown in the pit of her belly with the desire to nurture a child. Her sole purpose, she values its significance and her duty to provide an heir to devoted husband Richard Hardwick, successor to a wealthy landowning family. But motherhood may not be as she once hoped, as fate deals her a cruel hand, leaving her with a life-changing dilemma.
Her younger sister Emily, vibrant and full of zest is engaged to the dashing Lance Corporal James Wright, jubilant with thoughts of the future she imagines nothing but wedded bliss on the horizon. But as a new century dawns, darkness falls, as the Boer War gains strength James is deployed to South Africa, leaving his new bride alone with an uncertain future. As melancholy festers, Emily escapes the rural confines of Bury St Edmunds to stay with Aunt Anna by the sea, where she languishes in nature’s rough vast beauty. As the distance stretches between the sisters, so too does the life-thread of family.

1997
April has spent her solitary childhood in the pretty Norfolk village of Winterton-on-Sea, surrounded by its quiet lanes and circular pastel holiday cottages; a child flourishing in its rural beauty and thriving off the natural elements of sandy dunes and buffering waves. But now, after leaving University and as her 21st birthday approaches, April finds herself relocating closer to her Grandmother Sarah, to her mother’s childhood home of Bury St Edmunds; a market town in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Her parents open their longed-for antique shop, and although April is eager to assist with the busy Christmas rush, she aches for something else; a missing puzzle-piece. She looks to Sarah for guidance and direction, struggling to adjust, in her heart, pining for her sea-side home; she takes solace in the extraordinary bond she shares with her grandmother.
April’s feelings of uncertainty amplify as she steps over the threshold of her ancestral home; an early Victorian townhouse at the heart of the historic town, where time has stopped in its tracks, pristine and perfectly antiquated. In a visit to the attic late one afternoon, she discovers more than just dusty tea chests and old suitcases. She encounters an ancestor that has remained, a beautiful ghostly apparition whispering secrets in the shadows.

As the weeks follow and Christmas arrives, April is confronted with strange visions and dreams; memories of a lost, long buried time, of grave secrets, of sisterly love, romance and family loyalties that stretch beyond even love’s limits. April is thrown into turmoil, living moments in two eras, experiencing love and loss in both. With the help of Annabelle’s diary, she begins to unravel the mysteries of her ancestor’s history as her own destiny falls into place. Piecing together snippets of another life, giving peace back to the house and laying ghosts to rest; she unfolds the mystery of her family’s Supernatural Legacy.”

What I thought:

Twice now has Wright introduced me to a genre I’m unfamiliar with, and twice now has she won me over! Remember to Love Me is so different to my first read by her – The Manningtree Account – but I think ‘enchanting’ describes this one pretty well!

There’s a strong theme of family in this story, and it was one of my personal highlights. Not gonna lie, I’m a little jealous! The family in this – across both time periods – is incredibly close and the love remains strong throughout, even when tragedy hits again and again. It will make you ache for your own siblings and grandparents in a way I’ve experienced with no other book.

Loss is another strong theme, and informs especially Annabelle’s story. Over the course of this book April comes to terms with her grandmother’s mortality, while Annabelle’s chapters cover more difficult variations. I don’t want to say to much, but this family has suffered a lot, and once again it was heart-warming to see how it brought them closer together and how they coped despite the pain.

“People never really leave us, Darling. Your Nan is going to go, she is ill and well… she is old, and there is nothing we can do to change it, but she will always be with you. When you need her, she will be there, just as she is now.”

The plot develops at its own pace without taking too long. New developments happen just as we got used to the last ones. Because the plot doesn’t rush but develops as it needs to it’s a relaxed read.

My favourite part in the entire book was a conversation between Annabelle and her aunt, Anna, near the middle. It was incredibly touching and for me it was the best-written part.

“I knew every time I kissed him that he would never belong to me, but it didn’t stop me. Belle, our heart doesn’t choose with any rational thought, any more than love asks permission. I loved him and that was that.”

I read this book in April but it could easily be your next Christmas read. Christmas plays such a big part in this story and is the favourite holiday of several characters. I would quite happily have read this by the window while it’s snowing outside, with a steaming cup of hot chocolate in my hands and a blanket wrapped around me!

I’m curious about the sequel because to me it read like the story had concluded. It ended in a lovely place, and I’m intrigued to see where Wright will take it from there.


Have you read Remember to Love Me, or do you need more convincing? 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.

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

 

Leave a Comment

Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicles, #2.5)

“Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.

Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows…

In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.”

What I thought:

This is one of those books that’s not easy to review. That’s partly my fault for not taking a lot of notes, and partly the book’s fault for not being like most books. In a good way, though. This isn’t a complaint.

I loved The Slow Regard of Silent Things, but I loved it because I loved The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and Auri. If you haven’t read those two, and if you don’t know who Auri is, you might not like this book, and you likely won’t understand why it’s special and works perfectly the way it is.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things doesn’t have many things every book on writing will tell you a book needs to function. There’s no character development, no real action, no dialogue. What it does have is Auri’s incredible mind. Her thoughts might not make sense to you. Her reasoning might confuse you. But it’s all Auri’s, and because she is one of my favourite characters from the trilogy I adored her little story, too.

She heard something in the distance. Some echo of a sound. A scuff? A step? The sound of boots? Auri went startled and still. She closed her hand over Foxen and sat all quiet in the sudden dark, straining to hear….

But no. There was nothing. The Underthing was host to a thousand small moving things, water in pipes, wind through Billows, the rumbling thrum of wagons filtering through the cobblestones, half-heard voices echoing down the grates. But no boots. Not now. Not yet.

It’s a whimsical, magical, and innocent thing. I admire what Rothfuss has done with this book. Showing a mind as fractured and brilliant as Auri’s is not easy, but I think he’s done a stunning job.

It’s a short read, taking you through one week in Auri’s life in the Underthing as she waits for Kvothe to return. The illustrations were lovely, and helped set the tone in a wonderful way.

If you haven’t read his other two books, don’t start here. If you didn’t much care for Auri, you probably won’t get into this one, either. But if you did enjoy his other books and liked Auri then I hope that you’ll see the beauty in this one, too <3


Have you read The Slow Regard of Silent Things, or do you need more convincing? 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.

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

4 Comments

WWW Wednesday 3rd May 2017

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 Wednesday

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

***

What I’m currently reading

Awakening

Awakening is everything I wanted from a steamy paranormal romance. It’s action packed, and I love Izzy, the main character. Her mind rambles on as much as mine, and I love love LOVE her humour! So, in short, this book’s got everything. Whether you want fast-paced fight scenes, steamy action, great characters with great humour, or just a kickass heroine, you’ll find it here.

I’ll finish it this week, and my review should follow on Goodreads shortly after that 🙂

Blurb:

Izzy is on the fast track to nowhere. Being ordinary really blew sometimes. That’s until she meets Lucas–a man that’s unlike anyone she’s ever met. Mostly because he isn’t actually a man. He is a supernatural creature that proclaims to police the Light and Dark in order to protect humans.

And Izzy–well–she isn’t the human she thought she was. She is actually a supernatural being as well. And now Lucas is going to do everything in his power to find out what she is and protect her from the Dark lurking around the corner.

Awakening follows Izzy as she navigates this new world of demons, vampires, angels, and many other supernatural creatures. Recruited by the Promiscus Guardians and partnering with the most brooding and devilishly handsome man she’s every met, Lucas, Izzy is suddenly knee-deep up crap creek. Discover the secret behind her power and why it’s such a commodity in her Awakening.

 

Neverwhere

This is a new one for me – and something I didn’t think I’d ever try – because it’s an audio book! I wanted something to read while I was torturing myself on my treadmill, and figured if Gaiman can’t motivate me to run no one can – but it’s really difficult/annoying to hold up a book while you’re running. It just bounces around too much, you know? Since I did enjoy what little I read of the book I decided to give audio books a try. (If anyone knows of a cheap solution, I’m game.) Tomorrow will (in theory) be my first run with it, so I’ll report back in two weeks 😉

Since I only run twice a week for 20 minutes (if that *ahem*) I expect it’ll take me forever and a day to get through it.

Blurb:

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

.***

What I recently finished reading

On Writing

I’m cheating a little here because I haven’t quite finished this yet, but I’m as good as there! My bookish plan for today is to finish it this morning so I can move on to my next theory read.

Blurb:

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.

Remember to Love Me

Remember to Love Me was my second read by Wright, and it was so entirely different to my first read by her! There’s a strong theme of family and love throughout, which will make you ache for your siblings and grandparents. It’d make a fantastic Christmas read, too, due to it being the favourite holiday of several characters and due to so much of the book taking place during Christmas.

My review will be up next week Thursday (woot woot, I’m caught up!), or you can read it now on Goodreads 🙂

Blurb:

1900
Annabelle yearns for nothing more than motherhood. Losing her own mother in child birth at the tender age of four; a gaping hole has grown in the pit of her belly with the desire to nurture a child. Her sole purpose, she values its significance and her duty to provide an heir to devoted husband Richard Hardwick, successor to a wealthy landowning family. But motherhood may not be as she once hoped, as fate deals her a cruel hand, leaving her with a life-changing dilemma.
Her younger sister Emily, vibrant and full of zest is engaged to the dashing Lance Corporal James Wright, jubilant with thoughts of the future she imagines nothing but wedded bliss on the horizon. But as a new century dawns, darkness falls, as the Boer War gains strength James is deployed to South Africa, leaving his new bride alone with an uncertain future. As melancholy festers, Emily escapes the rural confines of Bury St Edmunds to stay with Aunt Anna by the sea, where she languishes in nature’s rough vast beauty. As the distance stretches between the sisters, so too does the life-thread of family.

1997
April has spent her solitary childhood in the pretty Norfolk village of Winterton-on-Sea, surrounded by its quiet lanes and circular pastel holiday cottages; a child flourishing in its rural beauty and thriving off the natural elements of sandy dunes and buffering waves. But now, after leaving University and as her 21st birthday approaches, April finds herself relocating closer to her Grandmother Sarah, to her mother’s childhood home of Bury St Edmunds; a market town in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Her parents open their longed-for antique shop, and although April is eager to assist with the busy Christmas rush, she aches for something else; a missing puzzle-piece. She looks to Sarah for guidance and direction, struggling to adjust, in her heart, pining for her sea-side home; she takes solace in the extraordinary bond she shares with her grandmother.
April’s feelings of uncertainty amplify as she steps over the threshold of her ancestral home; an early Victorian townhouse at the heart of the historic town, where time has stopped in its tracks, pristine and perfectly antiquated. In a visit to the attic late one afternoon, she discovers more than just dusty tea chests and old suitcases. She encounters an ancestor that has remained, a beautiful ghostly apparition whispering secrets in the shadows.

As the weeks follow and Christmas arrives, April is confronted with strange visions and dreams; memories of a lost, long buried time, of grave secrets, of sisterly love, romance and family loyalties that stretch beyond even love’s limits. April is thrown into turmoil, living moments in two eras, experiencing love and loss in both. With the help of Annabelle’s diary, she begins to unravel the mysteries of her ancestor’s history as her own destiny falls into place. Piecing together snippets of another life, giving peace back to the house and laying ghosts to rest; she unfolds the mystery of her family’s Supernatural Legacy.

***

What I think I’ll read next

The King

Now that I’m almost done with Awakening, it’s definitely The King next! I have no idea what I’ll read after that, but I imagine that I’ll fly through this one so I might even be on to my next read by the time my next WWW comes around! 😉 Right now I’d like a paperback to come next, but I’ll see what I fancy. My SO has chosen my last few reads (usually from a narrowed-down selection I gave him) so it’ll be nice to pick one myself again!

Blurb:

Not all vampire hunters dress in head-to-toe leather and sit on rooftops overlooking a gritty vampire-ridden city. Meet Delia Roberts. At twenty-six, she’s a mid-level hunter with the Harriswood League, and, despite her best efforts, isn’t scaling the hunter hierarchy anytime soon.

Months earlier, desperate to prove herself, Delia snuck into an exclusive vampire masquerade, only to wind up with a bite on her neck courtesy of clan leader and gorgeous vampire Claude Grimm. Fearful of the League’s punishment for succumbing to a bloodsucker’s charms, Delia does what she can to hide the bite and pretends the night never happened.

These days, however, Claude is determined to win her over, insisting the spark they felt that fateful night is worth pursuing. As Delia tries to ignore her steadily growing feelings for the enemy and fend off a mounting quarter-life crisis, vampire clan tensions worsen around the quiet city of Harriswood, bringing with them a danger unlike any the League has ever seen.

One that might change the course of history for good.

***

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!

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Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)

“Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.”

What I thought:

Guys. I’m so ridiculously in love with Nevernight. I thought if I’d leave the review for a few weeks it’d be easier to write, with more useful info and less incoherent gushing, but just be warned that there will be gushing. And lots of it.

For the briefest moment, she swore she could see lights at her feet, glittering like diamonds in an ocean of nothing. She felt an emptiness so vast she thought she was falling – down, down into some hungry dark. And then her fingers closed on the dagger’s hilt and she clutched it tight, so cold it almost burned.

She felt the something in the dark around her.

The copper tang of blood.

The pulsing rush of rage.

One of my favourite parts were the footnotes. I know a lot of people don’t enjoy them – if you don’t you can skip them and you won’t miss any necessary details – but I loved them. They added a bit of extra humour (something the book has plenty of), and as someone who likes a world with lots of lore and history I loved the insights, too. Many of them sounded like Kristoff took a brief break in his storytelling to let us in on a secret, or to say something the characters couldn’t, and I adored loved the hell out of that.

My other favourite thing was Mister Kindly, the glorious ghostly not-cat which feeds on Mia’s fear:

The thing called Mister Kindly waited. A patience learned over eons. A silence like the grave. Soon now. Any moment she’d begin to whimper. Whisper for him. What would she dream of tonight? The ones who came to drown her? Her father’s legs kicking, face purpling, guh guh guh? The Philosopher’s Stone and the horrors she’d found within, fourteen years old and lost in the dark?

No matter.

They all tasted the same.

One of my other many favourites (there are just so. many. of them!) was the main character, Mia Covere. She trains at this school for assassins (how cool is that?), learns how to poison people, how to steal their belongings and secrets, but she can’t get herself to stop caring. She’s my ideal heroine – lethal when she needs to be, loyal best friend at all other times – unless, of course, her best friends betray her. But who wouldn’t draw the line at that?

“This place gives much. But it takes much more. They may make her beautiful on the outside, but inside, they aim to shape a horror. So if there is some part of herself that truly matters, hold it close, Mia Corvere. Hold it tight. She should ask herself what she will give to get the things she wants. And what she will keep. For when we feed another to the Maw, we feed it a part of ourselves, also. And soon enough, there is nothing left.”

I also had a soft spot for Chronicler Aelius. He didn’t feature much but you get the feeling that there’s a depth to him the book only hints at. *sigh* Gotta love sublety! And librarians! And the wonderful smell of ancient tomes!

But I’m getting carried away.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. It has everything I want in a book and far more than I expected when I started. I had a much shorter blurb than the one above and didn’t really know what I was in for, but I love the mature take and strong language throughout. I’m beyond excited for the sequel, and will pre-order it once it’s available – something I don’t do often.


Have you read Nevernight, or do you need more convincing? 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.

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Review: The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman


“Editors always tell novice writers that the first few pages of a manuscript are crucial in the publishing process — and it’s true. If an editor or agent (or reader) loses interest after a page or two, you’ve lost him or her completely, even if the middle of your novel is brilliant and the ending phenomenal. Noah Lukeman, an agent in Manhattan, has taken this advice and created a book that examines just what this means, and I have to tell you, it’s one of the best I’ve read.

I’ve written (and seen published) pretty close to a dozen novels in as many years — some are still to be published and will be out shortly; others are already out of print after four years. But I wish I had read Lukeman’s book, The First Five Pages, when I began writing fiction.

I’m glad I did now. It has helped, immediately. I’m already embarrassed about some of the goofs I made in my writing — and I’ve been revising recent prose with his advice in mind.

First off, Lukeman is a literary agent who once was an editor, and his editorial eye is sharp. If every novelist and short story writer in this country had Lukeman as an editor, we’d have a lot more readable prose out there.

He writes:

Many writers spend the majority of their time devising their plot. What they don’t seem to understand is that if their execution — if their prose — isn’t up to par, their plot may not even be considered.

This bears repeating, because in all the books I’ve read on writing, this is an element that is most often forgotten in the rush to come up with snappy ideas and sharp plot progressions. You can always send a hero on a journey, after all, but if no reader wants to follow him, you’ve wasted your time.

In a tone that can be a bit professorial at times, Lukeman brings what prose is — and how it reads to others — into sharp focus. He deals with dialogue, style, and, most importantly, sound.

Sound.

How does prose sound?

It must have rhythm, its own kind of music, in order to draw the reader into the fictive dream. Lukeman’s tips and pointers are genuinely helpful, and even important with regard to the sound of the prose itself.

Lukeman also brings in on-target exercises for writers of prose and the wonderful advice for novelists to read poetry — and often.

Those first five pages are crucial, for all concerned. But forget the editor and agent and reader. They are important for you, the writer, because they determine the sharpness of your focus, the completeness of your vision, the confidence you, as a writer, need to plunge into a three- or four- or five-hundred-page story.

The First Five Pages should be on every writer’s shelf. This is the real thing.”

What I thought:

(What is it with theory books and overly long blurbs? You’d think they’d know better.)

The First Five Pages is one of the first theory books on writing I’ve ever read. Because I learnt so much from it I bought my own copy, and since I’m editing my second book now I figured it was the perfect time to read it again!

The blurb isn’t kidding when it hails The First Five Pages as the one book every writer needs to own, or at least read. It goes over every problem your draft could possibly have, shows you why each is a problem through examples, and shows you how you can fix it. It gives you the chance to apply what you learned with end-of-chapter exercises. It also offers small insights into how agents and publishers work, and why they might reject your manuscript. And, more importantly, it shows you how to fix it!

And on top of all that, it’s encouraging:

I have never had a book, story or poem rejected that was not later published. If you know what you are doing, eventually you will run into an editor who knows what he/she is doing. It may take years, but never give up.

It’s an invaluable resource and I urge you to read it, maybe even buy your own copy. It’s not a dry thing you’ll struggle through. It’s easy to read and quite humorous throughout (the latter is a quality my theory books must have if they want to end up on my shelf)!


Have you read Nevernight, or do you need more convincing? 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.

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

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WWW Wednesday 19th April 2017

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 Wednesday

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

Prepare yourselves, friends, this is a big one!

***

What I’m currently reading

On Writing

I’ve made two previous attempts to read this when I borrowed it from my library. Both times it was requested by a student almost right away, so I didn’t make much progress either time. I eventually just bought my own copy, and now I’m flying through it.

It’s my favourite book on the subject. It’s hilarious, honest – often brutally so, like when he talks about his addiction to drugs – and I’m learning so much I’m taking notes all the time. If you’re a writer and haven’t read this yet I urge you to give it a space on your bookshelf. Buying this rather than borrowing it was one of the best things I did for myself, and I just know I’ll come back to it every time I need a boost of motivation, or a little encouragement.

Blurb:

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.

Remember to Love Me

This is my second read by Becky Wright (my review of my first read, The Manningtree Account, publishes here tomorrow) and again she’s introducing me to a genre I’m not familiar with! I don’t read many romance novels, and I don’t think I’ve read any time-slip novels at all unless you count my other read by her, but this book combines the two really well. It’s a celebration of family with the warmth of Christmas sprinkled over it, so it’d make a great Christmas read! I’m a third through it now and I’m excited to see how the story is going to develop from here.

Blurb:

1900
Annabelle yearns for nothing more than motherhood. Losing her own mother in child birth at the tender age of four; a gaping hole has grown in the pit of her belly with the desire to nurture a child. Her sole purpose, she values its significance and her duty to provide an heir to devoted husband Richard Hardwick, successor to a wealthy landowning family. But motherhood may not be as she once hoped, as fate deals her a cruel hand, leaving her with a life-changing dilemma.
Her younger sister Emily, vibrant and full of zest is engaged to the dashing Lance Corporal James Wright, jubilant with thoughts of the future she imagines nothing but wedded bliss on the horizon. But as a new century dawns, darkness falls, as the Boer War gains strength James is deployed to South Africa, leaving his new bride alone with an uncertain future. As melancholy festers, Emily escapes the rural confines of Bury St Edmunds to stay with Aunt Anna by the sea, where she languishes in nature’s rough vast beauty. As the distance stretches between the sisters, so too does the life-thread of family.

1997
April has spent her solitary childhood in the pretty Norfolk village of Winterton-on-Sea, surrounded by its quiet lanes and circular pastel holiday cottages; a child flourishing in its rural beauty and thriving off the natural elements of sandy dunes and buffering waves. But now, after leaving University and as her 21st birthday approaches, April finds herself relocating closer to her Grandmother Sarah, to her mother’s childhood home of Bury St Edmunds; a market town in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Her parents open their longed-for antique shop, and although April is eager to assist with the busy Christmas rush, she aches for something else; a missing puzzle-piece. She looks to Sarah for guidance and direction, struggling to adjust, in her heart, pining for her sea-side home; she takes solace in the extraordinary bond she shares with her grandmother.
April’s feelings of uncertainty amplify as she steps over the threshold of her ancestral home; an early Victorian townhouse at the heart of the historic town, where time has stopped in its tracks, pristine and perfectly antiquated. In a visit to the attic late one afternoon, she discovers more than just dusty tea chests and old suitcases. She encounters an ancestor that has remained, a beautiful ghostly apparition whispering secrets in the shadows.

As the weeks follow and Christmas arrives, April is confronted with strange visions and dreams; memories of a lost, long buried time, of grave secrets, of sisterly love, romance and family loyalties that stretch beyond even love’s limits. April is thrown into turmoil, living moments in two eras, experiencing love and loss in both. With the help of Annabelle’s diary, she begins to unravel the mysteries of her ancestor’s history as her own destiny falls into place. Piecing together snippets of another life, giving peace back to the house and laying ghosts to rest; she unfolds the mystery of her family’s Supernatural Legacy.

.***

What I recently finished reading

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

While this had none of the things every book on writing ever will tell you a book should have – no dialogue, no character development, and no action, to name a few – it had everything it needed in just the right measures. It was delicate, it was whimsical, and I loved the insight into the mind of my favourite character. It’s a lovely little thing, just like Auri, and I recommend you read it if you’ve read The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear first, and if you’ve adored Auri. Otherwise this might just be a little too odd for you.

Blurb:

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is set at The University, where the brightest minds work to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences, such as artificing and alchemy. Auri, a former student (and a secondary but influential character from Rothfuss’s earlier novels) now lives alone beneath the sprawling campus in a maze of ancient and abandoned passageways. There in The Underthing, she feels her powers and learns to see the truths that science—and her former classmates—have overlooked

Nevernight

This book was awesome. Period. <3

My review will follow next week (I hoped if I waited a few weeks it’d be more useful information and less uncontrolled gushing, but I’m not sure that’ll be the case), and as always it’ll be up on Goodreads first. Hopefully today. *ahem* *makes more tea* *signs contract with the devil to have more hours in the day*

Blurb:

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

The First Five Pages

As much as I enjoyed this and recommend this to everyone who wants to write or is already writing, I’m glad to be done with it, too. I don’t usually take this long over one book, especially one so short, so I’m relieved you won’t need to see it again in two weeks! 😛

My review will be up next week Thursday, just before my review for Nevernight will go up.

Blurb:

Editors always tell novice writers that the first few pages of a manuscript are crucial in the publishing process — and it’s true. If an editor or agent (or reader) loses interest after a page or two, you’ve lost him or her completely, even if the middle of your novel is brilliant and the ending phenomenal. Noah Lukeman, an agent in Manhattan, has taken this advice and created a book that examines just what this means, and I have to tell you, it’s one of the best I’ve read. Continue reading

All the Birds in the Sky

Unfortunately this didn’t work for me. It’s very rare that I don’t finish a book, but this is now the second book I gave up on. The idea was so intriguing, and there were some brilliant, poignant moments, but the execution led it down. The writing was amateurish for the most part, and I couldn’t connect with the characters at all even though I felt I actually had a fair bit in common with Patricia. There was a lot of “This happened, then this happened, he reacted this way so she said this, and then they went their separate ways’ going on, which got old for me fast. According to reviews this really falls apart in the second half, and since, in my opinion, it already didn’t have things together in the first half I decided to stop. Which I hate doing. But we just weren’t meant to be.

Blurb:

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together—to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the Apocalypse.

***

What I think I’ll read next

Awakening

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this and I’m excited to finally discover this series for myself. It sounds like a mixture of all my favourite genres so I can’t wait to dive in!

Blurb:

Izzy is on the fast track to nowhere. Being ordinary really blew sometimes. That’s until she meets Lucas–a man that’s unlike anyone she’s ever met. Mostly because he isn’t actually a man. He is a supernatural creature that proclaims to police the Light and Dark in order to protect humans.

And Izzy–well–she isn’t the human she thought she was. She is actually a supernatural being as well. And now Lucas is going to do everything in his power to find out what she is and protect her from the Dark lurking around the corner.

Awakening follows Izzy as she navigates this new world of demons, vampires, angels, and many other supernatural creatures. Recruited by the Promiscus Guardians and partnering with the most brooding and devilishly handsome man she’s every met, Lucas, Izzy is suddenly knee-deep up crap creek. Discover the secret behind her power and why it’s such a commodity in her Awakening.

or possibly…

The King

I read the prequel The Fool (you can read my review here) earlier this year and have been looking forward to The King ever since. I’m torn between this and Awakening for my next read, but it will definitely be one or the other, likely followed by whichever one I don’t read first.

Blurb:

Not all vampire hunters dress in head-to-toe leather and sit on rooftops overlooking a gritty vampire-ridden city. Meet Delia Roberts. At twenty-six, she’s a mid-level hunter with the Harriswood League, and, despite her best efforts, isn’t scaling the hunter hierarchy anytime soon.

Months earlier, desperate to prove herself, Delia snuck into an exclusive vampire masquerade, only to wind up with a bite on her neck courtesy of clan leader and gorgeous vampire Claude Grimm. Fearful of the League’s punishment for succumbing to a bloodsucker’s charms, Delia does what she can to hide the bite and pretends the night never happened.

These days, however, Claude is determined to win her over, insisting the spark they felt that fateful night is worth pursuing. As Delia tries to ignore her steadily growing feelings for the enemy and fend off a mounting quarter-life crisis, vampire clan tensions worsen around the quiet city of Harriswood, bringing with them a danger unlike any the League has ever seen.

One that might change the course of history for good.

***

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!

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

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