Prone to stalking authors on Twitter and crushes on fictional characters. Mostly I just faff about on the internet and somehow manage to pass my life long work of trying to get people to read good books off as being a somewhat sane and professional book blogger.
Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Kingsbane blog tour! Kingsbane is the second book in the Empirium trilogy by Claire Legrand and I'm so excited to be sharing an extract from the book today for my stop on the tour.
Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Beauty Sleep blog tour! I'm excited to be kicking off the tour by bringing to you today an interview with the author Kathryn Evans and to be giving you the chance to win a copy of the book!
Hi Kathryn, welcome to the blog! Can you tell us a little bit about Beauty Sleep and what sparked the idea behind it?
The very first idea was an image that came to me of a girl waking up in a high tech room and having no idea where she was or why. I guess fairy tales are so deeply embedded in my subconscious, I was thinking about a modern sleeping beauty without even realising it.
In Beauty Sleep, Laura is cryogenically frozen. How much research did you have to do on cryogenics for this book?
I also visited an ice chamber in a spa – it wasn’t for me!
What does your typical writing day look like?
Pretty much every day is a writing day. My life is quite busy because we run a small farm growing fruit plants. I’m usually at my desk by about 8.30 but I tend to work at one thing in short intense bursts of 20 minutes to an hour at a time. Unless I have a tight deadline, I alternate farm work, volunteer work for SCBWI (I manage the finances), writing, editing, interviews and domestic stuff. My daughter usually rings daily too and we often chat for about an hour! Then in the evenings I have fencing training or dancing and I always finish the day by reading in bed.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read and write every day. Learn your craft – there are some excellent organisations that run courses and some brilliant books and websites on writing. I blog for one called Notes From The Slushpile. If you can join a writing community, online or in real life, it’ll help a lot. My friends from Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators have been my loudest champions and biggest supporters. It took me fifteen years to get a publishing deal, it’s nice to have some pals around when you’re dealing with a lot of rejection! It’s also a real joy to see your friends succeed – it gives you hope!
What books would you recommend to fans looking for similar stories to your own?
I’ve been waiting for the Black Mirror anthology to come out but it’s still not available! Teri Terry writes excellent thrillers with a sci-fi edge – her book Mind Games is one of my favourites. Christopher Edge writes for younger people but I still love his take on science fiction. For a more apocalyptic take on the genre, try Eugene Lambert’s The Sign Of One. Obviously The Hunger Games and Divergent And Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series. And the classics! I was such a fan of John Wyndham, HG Wells, Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley – I could recommend books forever and a day.
Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on next?
There’s always a heart in my stories – More of Me is about searching for your own identity and growing up, Beauty Sleep is about modern society but also about dealing with loss – my new book is about equality – or the lack of it. I think that’s all I can say about it, I’m editing it with my agent at the moment so it still feels a bit fragile – but it’s very much in my style, a strangely original thriller with a sci-fi edge.
And lastly what three words best describe Beauty Sleep?
Exciting, Emotional, Enchanting.
For your chance to win a copy of the book enter over on Twitter
Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Pulp blog tour! I'm such a huge fan of Robin's writing and brilliantly diverse books so it really is a pleasure to have her on the blog today sharing her top writing tips. I hope they prove helpful for all you budding authors out there!
Robin Talley’s Top 3 Writing Tips
1. Start with a plan. Personally, I’m a big outliner — I use spreadsheets to plan my novels, then more spreadsheets to revise them — but you don’t have to make an official outline if the prospect seems overwhelming. It is good, though, to have some ideas in your head of where a story might go so you don’t wind up floundering when you get past the beginning. And if you think there’s any chance you might forget what you had in mind, write it down. You don’t have to follow your original plan to the letter by any means, but having a record of it can be a jumping off point as you keep brainstorming if nothing more.
2. Try to write — or at least think about writing — as close to every day as possible. This can be hard, especially in the middle of holidays and travel and other obligations, but for me, once I’ve started a writing project I need to keep working on it or I’ll lose the momentum and it will be much harder to dive back in. I try to plan in advance when I’ll squeeze in pockets of writing/brainstorming time even during busy periods — when my daughter is napping, for example, or for an hour at night after an evening with my extended family.
3. Read as much — and as widely — as possible. This is my biggest tip, especially for writers who are just starting out. You should always be reading something. Definitely make sure you read in the genre/category you’re writing in, but read outside it, too. If you write YA, then make sure you’re reading YA, but also read adult and middle grade books. If you write thrillers, then by all means read your favorite thriller authors, but also make a conscious effort to read outside your comfort zone. Contemporary stories, fantasies, nonfiction, even fanfiction — all of it helps develop your writing muscles and expand your thinking.
Hey guys and welcome to my stop on the The Light Between Worlds blog tour! I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this and really enjoyed it so keep an eye out for my review soon. Today I have a guest post for you from the author Laura Weymouth all about writing soundtracks and how it influences her writing.
A Soundtrack for The Light Between Worlds – Laura Weymouth
I’m one of those writers who strongly prefers listening to music while working. The Light Between Worlds was plotted, drafted, and revised to music, and here’s what I listened to throughout the process.
While plotting, I prefer to listen to songs with lyrics that sum up the mood or theme of whatever scene or arc I’m working on. For The Light Between Worlds, I had two key songs for both Evelyn and Philippa – for Ev, they were Old Days by Ingrid Michaelson (“Maybe what you think of me won’t change, but I still hold on to the old days”) and The Light by Regina Spektor (“I know the morning is wiser than the nighttime, I know there’s nothing wrong, I shouldn’t feel so down.”)
For Philippa my songs were Half the World Away by AURORA (“And when I leave this island, I book myself into a soul asylum, I can feel the warning signs running around my mind”) and Drink You Gone by Ingrid Michaelson (“Like a sinking ship while the band plays on, when I dream you’re there I can’t even sleep you gone.”)
While actually drafting and revising, I tend to prefer music without lyrics – generally movie scores. From the moment I started seriously working on The Light Between Worlds, I knew what its soundtrack would be. One of my favorite films is The Village – originally pitched as a horror film, it’s really not a frightening movie so much as an exploration of the lengths we’ll go to in order to protect the things we love and perceive as good in this world. And it has one of the most ethereally beautiful, haunting scores you’ll ever hear. Every word of The Light Between Worlds was written to that score, and now I can’t listen to it without seeing the woods outside Evelyn’s boarding school, dripping with late winter rain.
Laura Weymouth is the author of The Light Between Worlds (Chicken House, £7.99). Find out more and read the first chapter here.
Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Two Dark Reigns blog tour! I'm a proud member of the poisoner court and so for today's post Kendare Blake is sharing her very own song choice for each court and I'll be adding my own addition for us poisoners. Plus! I'm going to be giving away a copy of Two Dark Reigns over on Twitter so make sure you don't miss that.
Poisoners: Billie Eilish, "See Me in a Crown"
I've heard from several readers that this song makes them think of Katharine, and the dramatic, slightly offbeat melody feels very Arron to me.
Elementals: Florence and the Machine, "Shake it Out"
Elementals love big soaring voices, and songs with a lot of movement. Florence and the Machine always sounds like a dance to me, and I can see all of Rolanth dancing right along with her.
Naturalists: AWOLNATION, "Bad Wolf"
This one is for Arsinoe, although the beat and the antithetical vibe does feel very naturalist. Mostly though, there's a line that goes, "Mother*ucker I'll be back from the dead soon" and I can totally hear Arsinoe saying that. If Arsinoe swore.
And for my addition for us poisoners I'm going withLook What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift, especially the music video which is fantastic and perfectly captures the poisoner energy and aesthetic. Basically it's a big mood.
Have you read this series? I'd love to know which court you belong to and what song you associate with it!
The other week I finally picked up Strange the Dreamer. I don't know why I waited so long to read it because I adored the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor but now I like to think it was waiting for the right time to come into my life because this was certainly a case of reading the perfect book at the time I needed to read it and it quickly became my favourite book, like, ever.
It's the first book I ever tabbed because there were so many parts I didn't want to let just slip away. I wanted to hold onto them and cherish them and be able to return to my favourite moments whenever I wanted.
I gushed about this book a LOT on social media and I was so incredibly lucky to then be sent an early proof copy of Muse of Nightmares which I read straight after finishing Strange the Dreamer and, of course, absolutely loved. This has quickly become my new all-time favourite series and there was no way I could ever write a constructive review about either book so instead I wanted to share with you my top reasons for why you need to read this series.
1.) Laini Taylor has the most beautiful, lyrical, writing ever. I was lucky enough to attend a talk with Laini whilst she was on tour for Dreams of Gods and Monsters and she said she can spend hours tinkering around with sentence structure and you can totally tell. Every paragraph reads like poetry yet is so easy to read and sink into. Her writing is pure sorcery and like nothing else I have ever read. I ran out of purple sticky tabs whilst reading this series because there were so many quotes I needed to tab. I could easily get my whole body tattooed in Laini Taylor quotes and I may run out of skin before I'm done. If you love beautiful, otherworldly writing you need to read this series.
2.) Lazlo Strange loves books and I love him for it. The main character in Strange the Dreamer is Lazlo and he's a librarian and fellow book lover. From the start I had an instant connection with Lazlo in the only way that a book lover meeting a fellow book lover can. This series pays homage to the readers, the dreamers, the ones who believe in the impossible and because of that I think every reader can find a bit of themselves in Lazlo.
3.) Despite this book being classed as fantasy it actually has a great mystery at its heart. What was the city of Weep and what happened to it? Like Lazlo you quickly become consumed with needing the answers and that burning need to know more makes it so easy to fly through this book in the same way you would a mystery novel. Especially as the answers typically only lead to more questions in this series.
4.) Laini Taylor writes characters you come to care about with your whole heart. Even the secondary characters who we perhaps only get a handful of interactions with in each book I absolutely loved and want whole stories about.
5.) The characters are incredibly complex. In this series you get to hear from characters from opposing sides and each one is so morally grey. Even the characters considered the villains in this book have their reasons and I love how this series shows there are two sides to every story.
6.) If romance is your thing this book has the sweetest, purest romance ever that is literally something from a dream it's so perfect. Lazlo and Sarai are such cinnamon rolls and not to be dramatic, but I would die for them.
7.) A reoccurring theme with Laini Taylor's books is exploring what it means to be a monster and what it means to be a hero. She takes all the old stereotypes in books and shakes them up giving such depth to her characters and the reasons behind their actions, both good and bad.
8.) A large part of why I had such an intense connection with this series is because of the way Laini Taylor handles trauma. I have PTSD and suffer from nightmares and it's a theme that's covered in this series. She shows that there is hope and a way to move forward after trauma and it was a message I badly needed to hear.
9.) There's nothing worse than a brilliant first book and a rubbish finale that leaves you with so many questions, but both of these books are just as strong as each other and complement one another perfectly. It's an expertly plotted series that neatly ties all the threads together for a satisfying ending where all those burning questions I mentioned at the start are answered.
10.) And finally, if none of my above reasons have convinced you just look at the covers! They're absolutely breath-taking and a must for any book collector. I promise that the stories they hold inside are just as beautiful.
If you have yet to read this series, then frankly I am jealous of you because you have such a wonderful journey awaiting you. Now go ahead and get started already! There are mysteries to uncover and monsters to defeat. But before you go I want to share with you a quote from the book itself that I think captures this series perfectly.
"You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable," she pleaded. "Something beautiful and full of monsters." “Beautiful and full of monsters?" “All the best stories are." - Strange the Dreamer
Hello everyone! Today is my stop on the A Storm of Ice and Stars blog tour and I'm so excited to be bringing to you an interview I did with author Lisa Lueddecke all about folklore, mythology and life as an author. I hope you enjoy reading it!
Hi Lisa, welcome to the blog! Firstly, can you tell us a bit about A Storm of Ice and Stars?
Hello, and thank you for having me on your blog! A Storm of Ice and Stars is a prequel novel to my first book, A Shiver of Snow and Sky. It is set at an earlier time, and follows a different set of characters. You don’t have to have read the first one to read this one, but you will probably get a lot more out of it if you do. What can fans of your previous book A Shiver of Snow and Sky expect from this one?
If you loved the icy setting and the folklore in the first book, then you can expect more of that from the second book. Telling little stories within a bigger story is something that I love to do, especially if it adds to the history and depth of the world. We also get to explore a little bit more of the island of Skane in this book, which I loved doing.
I love the folklore and mythical creatures in your books. Are they based on any particular mythology? Or are they a product purely of your own imagination?
I did a lot of reading of folklore and mythology when I started writing these books. Some things inspired me in one way or another, but mostly just reading about various things got my wheels turning, so to speak, and helped me to imagine a rich folklore for my own world. I really tried to immerse myself in Scandinavian legends and whatnot to get a feel for the environment and the lore, but Skane isn’t based off of any one place.
Your writing is so atmospheric and lyrical, are there any writers who influence your writing style?
Reading Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted really inspired me to write fantasy. And although I don’t think that other writers’ writing directly influences my own, I always feel inspired when I read something by Leigh Bardugo (although I haven’t read all of her books).
What’s been your best moment as an author so far?
Honestly, doing my first event in London last year and getting to meet people who had read my book was a high point for me. It left me a bit teary. Even knowing that one person bought and read my book was life-changing.
What does your typical writing day look like?
Prior to being pregnant and having my day to day life significantly changed, I would write from early morning until I felt like my creativity was waning. I have always loved writing in the very early morning, around dawn, as I feel like that’s when the day is new and exciting, and it makes me feel like anything can happen.
Do you have any advice for aspiring fantasy writers?
Look for inspiration everywhere you are, in sunrises and sunsets, in rainstorms and snowstorms, and in everything that you do. A lot of scenes that I have written have been born from moments in my real life, in one way or another, whether dialog or setting descriptions. Understand your world, and have fun building it. If you aren’t having fun, that will be obvious to your readers.
What books would you recommend to fans looking for stories similar to your own?
I haven’t read the whole series yet, but I loved The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. It has a wintry setting, as well, and I just loved it. I have also started reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, and although I haven’t finished it yet, I am loving the snowy landscapes and the mystery!
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
I’m working on something that I’ve always wanted to write. It’s been in the back of my mind for a while, so I’m exploring it and seeing where it takes me. I can’t say much about it right now, but I can assure you that it’s a fantasy.
And lastly, what three words best describe A Storm of Ice and Stars?
Frozen. Heartache. Bravery.
A STORM OF ICE AND STARS by Lisa Lueddecke out now in paperback (£7.99, Scholastic)
Autumn is officially here and it's by far my favourite time of year! As the leaves change colour and the nights draw in there is nothing better than snuggling up under a blanket with some hot chocolate and a good book so today I wanted to share with you the books on my TBR for fall.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Synopsis "Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.
When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself."
I started reading this one the other day and I'm so excited to continue on with it! Ghosts, Scotland and a little girl who can see the dead sounds like the perfect autumn read for any age!
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Synopsis "Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world."
I've heard endless good things about this series especially recently following the release of the third book in this series Escaping from Houdini. Stalking Jack the Ripper sounds like the perfect historical mystery for this time of year!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Synopsis "Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.
Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.
But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness."
Nothing screams Halloween quite like Frankenstein so I'm ridiculously excited to dive into this YA retelling from the perspective of Elizabeth. I am also obsessed with this beautiful cover!
Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
Synopsis "Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out — dissecting living people is a step too far.
But when she tries to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold on the black market in his place — because Nita herself is a supernatural being. Now Nita is on the other side of the bars, and there is no line she won’t cross to escape and make sure no one can ever capture her again.
Nita did a good deed, and it cost her everything. Now she’s going to do a lot of bad deeds to get it all back"
This book is pitched as "Dexter meets This Savage Song" and if that doesn't make you want to read it I don't know what will. This gruesome, dark fantasy about monsters and body parts sounds like the perfect Halloween read.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Synopsis "Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.
He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.
Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.
Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.
Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now."
Sawkill Girls is probably my most anticipated book on this list. Fun fact, I actually queued for over an hour to get an arc of this at YALC and I've been saving it for Autumn. It sounds like the perfect YA horror story and I'm so excited to read it!
It's that time of year again, back to school season. Whether you're going back to school as a student or teacher or your school days are long behind you, I thought that today it would be fun to reflect on some of my favourite fictional schools. Because whether you hate school or love it I think we can all agree that there are some fictional schools we'd all love to attend.
Deepdean from Murder Most Unladylike
I was one of those children who always wanted to go to an all-girls boarding school and Deepdean - the school that our main characters Hazel and Daisy attend in the Murder Most Unladylike series - takes me right back to those days. Okay, so people get murdered on the regular but that just adds to the creepy historical boarding school allure don't you think? Whether it's exploring the school solving crimes or having a bun break with Hazel, Deepdean is a school I'd love to attend.
Aglionby Academy from The Raven Boys
Next on the list is Aglionby Academy and thus my fascination with old buildings and boarding school continues. Like Blue, I'm totally enchanted by The Raven Boys and I'd love to attend a Latin class or two in Borden House. The Raven Boys is so atmospheric and perfect for fall reading.
The Red Church from Nevernight
The Red Church is not a school for the faint of heart gentlefriends, for The Red Church is a school that trains the most feared cult of assassins. That being said, it’s by far one of my favourite schools on this list. It won major points for its library, a metropolis for "dead books" including all the unfinished books out there in the world that have been abandoned by their authors. I was in my element exploring The Library of Niah with our main character Mia, let’s just say it puts the Beauty and the Beast one to shame.
Watford from Carry On
If you love Harry Potter (especially the fanfic based on this world) you will love Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Watford is a school for magicians and has some serious Hogwarts vibes. If you like stories about chosen ones, magic and have always considered yourself a Drarry shipper this is the back to school read for you!
The School of America In Paris from Anna and the French Kiss
If you're more of a contemporary reader I'd highly recommend heading back to school with Anna and the French Kiss. The School of America In Paris is exactly as its name suggests. Going to a boarding school in Paris has been my dream since reading and watching Madeline as a little girl and this book brought that all back to me! Autumn is the perfect season to explore Paris and having Étienne St. Clair as your lab partner and tour guide makes the experience even better.
St. Vladimir's Academy from Vampire Academy
This is an oldie but a goodie. Vampire Academy is one of the books that made me rediscover my love for YA back in the day and this series still has such a big place in my heart. St. Vladimir's Academy is a school for vampires where half human half vampires are trained to protect Moroi - the royal vampires in this world. This series is seriously addictive, so much fun and honestly stands the test of time now that vampires aren't the in thing anymore. Just don't judge this one on its movie okay? I promise the books are better.
Hogwarts from Harry Potter
Obviously, I couldn't list my favourite fictional schools without including Hogwarts. Like so many people who love this series Hogwarts is my home and every September I get nostalgic to hop on the Hogwarts Express and read this series all over again. If for some reason you've never read Harry Potter but have been meaning to this is the perfect time of year to do so. From getting sorted into your house, to dinner in the Great Hall, to exploring the castle grounds Hogwarts is hands down the school we'd all love to attend and is one we'd all go to willingly no matter our age.
If you've started back at school I hope you have a wonderful year!
I'd love to know, what’s your favourite fictional school?
With September and the final part of the year fast approaching I got to thinking about all of the books still on my TBR that I want to read before the end of the year, so today I wanted to highlight the six at the very top of my TBR because your girl always loves a list and if I put it out into the world I'm way more likely to actually get around to reading them!
Strange the Dreamer is a book that I've been desperate to read ever since it was first released last year and for some reason or another just haven't gotten around to. With the final part of this series Muse of Nightmares out really soon, now seems like the perfect time to read this duology back to back and soak up all of the beautiful Laini Taylor words all at once.
Sci-Fi is a genre that has been very neglected by me over the past couple of years and This Mortal Coil is a book from that genre that I've heard nothing but good things about. This sounds like a fresh new spin on zombie books and also looks at genetic modification a subject that I find so fascinating. I have a feeling I'm going to love this one and am itching to pick it up soon!
The release of the final book in the Throne of Glass series Kingdom of Ash is just around the corner and I've heard that Tower of Dawn is required reading before the final book. I'm currently reading it now and despite a huge 600+ page book from Chaol's point of view seeming really daunting at first, I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying it!
Sky in the Deep is a 2018 debut that I've heard nothing but good things about from everyone who has read it this year. This is set during the winter months so I've specifically been saving it for cooler weather and I'm so excited to get to it over the next few months, all snuggled up under a blanket with a candle burning!
THUG has been on my radar for the longest time and I still haven't gotten around to it! I think I'm a bit intimidated by how good it's supposed to be. The movie adaptation is being released this October and the trailer looks awesome so I'm making it my goal to read it before then so I can go and support this important story in the cinema.
Scythe is such a well loved book that everybody seems to have read this year but me. The world sounds so fascinating, population control is another subject that I just find endlessly interesting and the idea of scythes already just blows my mind! I'm so so excited for this one and think it'll make a great Halloween read!
Have you read any of these books?
What books do you want to read before the end of the year?