Posted in Books, Haul

November Book Haul

Well, it has been a VERY sparse month for book buying, which is probably a good thing, and I think that was definitely a conscious effort on my behalf. It was also down to a combination of NaNoWriMo (less time for reading) and Christmas shopping (less money for buying), which is definitely a blessing in disguise.

A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir

25716704I received this gem courtesy of Harper Collins and a Goodreads giveaway and I am super grateful for that. I read it straight away and have posted a review which you can check out for more information. A Torch Again the Night is the second book in a YA fantasy series that deals with a slave girl and a unwilling mercenary in training, Laia and Elias, with heavy Roman Empire influences, and slow burning fantasy elements. Obviously I can’t give any detail about plot because of spoiler for the first book, An Ember in the Ashes, but I can tell you that it’s amazing. I also have review here that is SPOILER FREE for this book, but not for the first, if you would like my thoughts in a bit more depth.

Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

 

Along with Tahir’s book I was sent this  ARC completely 25814363
unexpected in the same package, which was a lovely surprise. I’d never heard of either the title or the author but the ARC is quite lovely, a lot of pinks and orange and black. The cover you can see here is the final art, and while it’s a shame that I couldn’t find a picture of the ARC art, this one is also quite beautiful. After some research I discovered that this is actually the second book in the Fire Sermon Series, which is a YA dystopian series. From what I understand the first book tells the story of twins, Cassandra and Zac, teens living in a post-nuclear world where people are separated into two groups, Alphas and Omegas and they are actually on different sides. It sounds really intriguing, and I’m interested in why and how these sibling are operated, hopefully it’s going to be told in dual perspective, but I don’t know, so we will just have to wait and see. Since this remise does sound elaborate I think I will try to get hold of the first book in this trilogy before picking the second up.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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And, here we are, with Leigh Bardugo once more. You must be sick of me talking about her by now, does a post go by where I do not mention this duology? Here we go again. Crooked Kingdom is the final book in a duology about a bunch of thieving misfits and picks up right where Six of Crows left off. I pre-ordered this on my kindle, because I knew I had to have straight away, but got sent a signed bookplate thats to a pre-order promotion with Books With Bite, so now I have a paperback to put it in. And that is why I needed a second copy of this book, just in case you were wondering. As you probably know by now I do have a SPOILER FREE review just waiting for you to take a gander at here.

Fantastic Beats and Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K Rowling

30030950.jpgAllow me to transport you back a few months ago where I can specifically remember saying the following words to my friend: “I don’t think I’ll be buying the screenplay, it’s just a waste of money.”. I ordered this from Amazon on Friday the 18th of November, the day the film came out, hours after I came out of that midnight showing. Yes, that’s the sort of willpower I possess when it comes to J.K Rowling, and just books in general. I regret nothing. Just in case you have no idea what this is about, if follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, author of the textbook that Harry & Co. use in their lessons, as he accidentally looses some of his creatures in 1920’s New York. Obviously it is a screenplay, so you don’t get anything more than you did in the film, it’s just a matter of noticing some extra bits that you might not have picked up on. It’s also beautiful, while I’m not a huge fan of Hardbacks, I can’t deny the gold lettering against the midnight blue is going to look gorgeous on my shelf.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

30367320.jpgNext I got Stealing Snow, a urban fantasy re-telling of one of ‘The Snow Queen’, by Danielle Paige. We kick off with our protagonist Snow, committed to a mental asylum after her fist kiss turns her boyfriend, Bale, violent, I guess if you’re familiar with the source material you will recognise that little incident. Urban fantasy is one of my favourite genres and I’m also always up for a retelling and ‘The Snow Queen’ is one of my favourite fairytales so I look forward to seeing how it’s been retold.  I’ve never seen if in YA before, or really anywhere other than a straight forward adaptation, so it will be super interesting to see how that is interpreted and adapted for a modern day setting. I’ve also heard that Paige’s other series, set around Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz is really good too.

Bucky Barnes: The inter Soldier Vol.1; The Man on the Wall by Ales Kot, Marco Rudy and Langdon Foss

25661166Finally, as a little motivational treat I downloaded this graphic novel on my kindle.Bucky is my favourite character in the marvel universe, so it was an easy choice to make, even though I haven’t heard fantastic review. This takes place after the tragedy of ‘The Original Sin’, which, even though I had no idea what that was, wasn’t something that I could find out about from this books itself. I am thinking of writing a proper review for this at some point, but I will say that it is set in space and the art is gorgeous, even on my iPad. This will be my third graphic novel this year, and my first ever one from Marvel, as I begin to further explore this intriguing medium.

And that’s that. Like I said I showed a lot of restraint this month, or maybe it was just a lack of time to shop, who know, either way this looks sensible. You will be seeing a few of these also make an appearance in my November Wrap-Up so keep you eyes peeled for that.

What’s your favourite book you bought in November? Have you seen Fantastic Beasts yet?

Thanks for reading?

 

 

Posted in Books, Review

Book Review: Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Ah, Prince of Fools, what can I say about this? Whatever I do, say will be SPOLIER FREE so enjoy!
I guess we’ll kick things off with a synopsis. So, Prince of Fools is a first person, past tense, epic fantasy novel following Prince Jalan, who’s maybe tenth in line to the throne. Jal, is busy enjoying his charmed life, full of wine and women, until he gets caught up in a magical quest with a Viking warrior, Snorri.

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Don’t be fooled by the interesting cover. I’ve read the book and I don’t recognise this scene.

I am in no way an expert in the epic fantasy genre, but I have to say this is one of my least favourite of the ones that I have read, and there are a lot of reasons. The first, and definitely the biggest reason why I had to drag myself though this book is a gentleman called Snorri. As on most quests, at least the ones I have read, there is two people travelling together, and in this case it was Prince Jal and Snorri, which means that there was a whole lot of Snorri in this story. I’m not completely sure why, but I never really clicked with him, and as a main character this turned into a huge problem. He was sort of the straight man, to Jal’s funny man act, but he was just super boring. I think Mark Lawrence even tried to remedy this with the revel, bit by bit, of his back story and how he ended up in Vermillion, but not only did this come off as info-dumping, but still didn’t get me to care.
The second problem I had was with the setting in general because for me, it just was not vivid enough. This definitely could just be a me problem, I’m a city girl and I prefer cities to the countryside. There were points, like the beginning in Vermillion, and then the other castle they visited, that were really good and those were, without a doubt, my favourite parts. However, most of the narrative takes place on the road, so to speak, which just did not do anything for me at all.
Then, and this sort of ties in with the problem I had with the setting, and that was the confusion of mythologies. Usually, if something is pure fantasy they have their own belief system, but not here. I should say that Jal, from Vermillion, did have an original belief system, though not him personally, from what I remember. However, Snorri, from the North, is a frequently described as a Viking, and even follows the old Norse, religion. Everything I know about Norse mythology comes from Marvel’s Thor film, which I’m sure is not the most reliable source, but my point here is that I did recognise a huge amount of information because of this. I’m sure some people would like this interweaving of fantasy and, what felt almost historical to me, but I did not like it. I found it to be confusing and messily done.
I’d imagine so far, you’re wondering why I actually finished this book, considering how negative I’ve been so far, but that reason can be summed up in one word; Jal. I have a weakness for characters that are, for the lack of a better phrase, playboy princes, that don’t care about consequences. He never tried to claim that he was a hero, unless he was trying to get a woman into his bed, and his actions never suggested anything to the contrary. I would of happily just read about his antics around the castle, and the disasters he leave sin his wake, it was just a shame that Snorri and the quest appeared. I did have one tiny little qualm with his narration but it didn’t crop up until the final chapter, where there is a sudden change, half-way through the chapter, from past tense to present tense. Why? Who knows! I can only assume that the author thought it will be a good way to set up for the next book, which I won’t be reading.
All in all, there was a stark lack of any character development, despite the physical journey that out two characters go on. I still have a little soft spot for Jal, just because he was so charismatic an unapologetic but not a big enough soft spot that I have to see him again in the next book. Ultimately this book only gained 🌟🌟[two stars] from me.

Have you read Prince of Fools? Am I being too harsh? What’s your least favourite fantasy novel?

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Books, Review

Book Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against the Night is the not entirely unexpected sequel to the enormously popular An Ember in the Ashes where we first met Laia, the slave, and Elias, the soldier. SPOILERS for An Ember in the Ashes ahead but NO SPOIERS FOR A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT.. In this follow up we pick up right where we left off with Laia and Elias on the run from the rest of the Empire on a quest to free Darin from Kauf. Thank you to Harper Voyager who were kind enough to send me the ARC, and a surprise ARC for Francesca Haig’s Map of Bones.
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Continuing in the same vein as the first book in the series, A Torch Against the Night is full of vivid description of the fantasy world that almost straddles the border of fantasy and historical (there are surely some comparisons to be drawn between the Martials and the Roman Empire). This book is full of action from the very first page, definitely more so than its predecessor, which was more of a slow burning ember, if you’ll excuse the pun. The plot, on the whole, is very quick paced with a remarkable amount of development in the plot when this is essentially a cat and mouse story, with Elias and Laia on the run. However, I did find that Helene’s chapters dragged just a little more than Laia and Elias. This might just be me, personally I’m far more invested in the love story than I am in the political plot, and since Helene’s chapters were politics heavy that may have been why. There are three main plot lines, with a fourth brought to the forefront in the final chapters. The first is Laia attempting to free her brother from the most secure prison in the empire. I really enjoyed this aspect, though it’s definitely not as heist-y as it could have been, which is a shame after so much build up. The second is the love triangle between Laia, Keenan and Elias, which isn’t really important enough to class as a love triangle. This was a really interesting no depiction, which was sort of hinted at in the first book but fully resolved during this one. Then there was the political aspect, mostly concerned with Marcus’ new found emperor ship, of which his claim is tenuous to say the least. And, finally, it was touched upon in the first book, hinted at in the second before being brought to the forefront and that was the supernatural aspect. The Nightbringer was finally revealed and I’m assuming that will be where the next book is going. I re-read the first book before reading this one, and I have to admit the way Sabaa Tahir has manages to juggle all of these plot lines so far has been masterful. Towards the end  of the third part there is an enormous plot twist, I mean I did not see that coming at all and then suddenly I was hit in the face with this revelation. I almost dropped my book. It’s been a while since I’ve truly been shocked at a reveal and I love it when an author manages to pull something like that off. I never would have guessed it, but once it was revealed everything made sense. Also, in the last few chapters something happened to my favourite character and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call that a plot twist too, since although I didn’t anticipate it I also wasn’t completely shocked. Again, it was masterfully woven throughout the plot, so subtle that you didn’t see it until it was staring you in the face. The second I finished I wanted to read it again (and then like the bright spark that I am I went and left it at home when I returned to uni).

As I mentioned before, the POV’s are split up between Laia, Elias and Helene, a new addition since the first book. Elias’ were my favourite, as was the case in the first book, and I though Tahir did a fantastic job of keeping every chapter interesting even when at times there was a bit of overlap because of the changing situations. All three of these were really well defined and easily differential from each other, which is want you look for when there are multiple POVs. There was also a lot of character development from side characters like Izzi, and to some extent Cook, and the newer characters like Harper (a new favourite) and Keenan (definitely from Keenan).

Going forward I would love even more POV’s in the next book including Harper, who reminds me so much of my baby Zane from The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. I think the fantasy elements are going to get even more intense, something which is being built up slowly, like easing into a hot bath, in these last two books. I’d really love a Nightbringer POV but I’m not sure how exactly that would work without a hell of a lot of exposition. Also was it just me who imagined The Nightbringer to look like the Night King from Game of Thrones?

So, to recap. Sabaa Tahir has snuck her way onto by auto-buy author list with her masterful handling of the plot. This book gave everything I didn’t even realise that I wanted, and got a full five stars for it’s execution 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. I mean the first book was good, but now I am definitely on this bandwagon. Things are heating up for the next book in this quartet and I can’t wait! I’ll definitely be pre-ordering that gem. Thanks again to Harper Voyager for this ARC! 

Posted in writing

Hello NaNoWriMo 2016

Hold on to your hats because NaNoWriMo 2016 has begun! That’s right guys and gals, at this very moment I am attempting to write a 50,000 word novel. God help me!

This is going to be a super short post, for a change, because I don’t really have anything to say, I just thought that I should acknowledge that time is a-ticking on those daily word counts.

Of course I would love, love, love to be able to stand up on the 1st of December and say that I won NaNoWriMo, but I doubt that’s going to happen. Instead I am going o be pretty damn chuffed if I can say that I wrote 30,000 words during this month. I’ll still be aiming for the 1,667 words a day but I know there will be days when I don’t come near to that.

I’ve had a bit of an issue with my story, which hasn’t come as a total surprise. I hate it. I’ve never written fantasy before so I think the problem lies in my lack of world building. Either way I dragged myself kicking and screaming through four days worth of this novel when I realised that there was no way in hell I would survive the month. So, what did I do? I threw the novel out of the window. Not literally, one, because it’s written on my laptop,and secondly, because I need those words to count towards my final word-count. Instead I decided that as long as I write the 1,667 words each day, who acres if it’s not part of a complete novel. I’ve jotted down some super quick writing prompts mostly related to other little bits that I work on just for fun, some more in the vein of fan-fiction than others and hopefully this will see me through to the end of the month. I’ve decided that as long as I reach my personal goal of 30,000 I’ll be happy and who knows, maybe I’ll even reach that illusive 50,000. Stranger things have happened at sea.

So, good luck to me and if you’re taking part this year good luck to you too. If you have any questions about NaNoWriMo or about my writing process in general I will be more than happy to procrastinate and answer them instead of whatever I should be doing. And that goes for pretty much anything!

Are you taking part this year? Have you taken part in the past? Do you like to write in your spare time?

Thanks for reading!