Top Ten Tuesday #216

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. I got my Uni results last week and I’ll be graduating next week with a 2:1, which, for those of my readers outside of the UK, is really good! I also went to a HarperCollins blogger event last night which was really fun, I’m hoping now that I’m back home for the foreseeable future I might be able to get to a few more of these and meet more lovely UK bloggers.

Anyway, as it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday for you all, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking about our Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half of The Year. I can’t believe it’s already time for this list and I’ve only actually read five of the books on my first half of the year list! Oh well, let’s hope I have more luck with these ones (I’m doing this in order of release date rather than level of excitement):

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  1. Spin The Dawn-Elizabeth Lim-Releases 9th July

I’m so excited that there have been so many more releases by Asian authors coming out this year, it’s great to see. This book sounds really cool as well, a girl in a tailoring competition to become imperial tailor but in order to enter she has to disguise herself as a boy. It’s been pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway and that combination sounds just strange enough to work!

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2. We Hunt The Flame-Hafsah Faizal-8th August

We Hunt The Flame came out in the US last month, but it’s finally making it to the UK in August. I actually have an e-ARC of this, so I don’t have to wait till then, but I’m really excited to read it anyway. it’s inspired by Arabian Nights which is super cool and I’ve heard pretty good things so far.

Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake, #2)

3. Tunnel Of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2)-Victoria Schwab-Releases 5th September

Now leaving aside the fact that I haven’t actually read City of Ghosts yet (I will!), I’m still really excited for a new Victoria Schwab book. This one is set in PARIS and involves the Catacombs, which just sounds amazing and gives me even more incentive to try and read City of Ghosts soon (I think I will in September or October).

The Tyrant's Tomb (The Trials of Apollo, #4)

4. The Tyrant’s Tomb (Trials of Apollo #4)-Rick Riordan-Releases 1st October

Okay real talk, I think I’m kind of growing out of Rick Riordan’s books? It’s sad but considering they are intended for an audience a decade younger than me, not entirely surprising! I haven’t enjoyed this series as much as his others, but I’m so close to the end, and Rick Riordan has meant a lot to me over the past nine years, so I’d like to finish out this series and hopefully end on a high.

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5. Ninth House-Leigh Bardugo-Releases 1st October

I’M SO EXCITED FOR THIS. A college set book with hints of fantasy? YES PLEASE. Honestly this is the kind of book that I’ve been waiting for and I’m super excited to dive into Alex’s adventures in occult Yale secret societies!

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6. The Fountains of Silence-Ruta Sepetys-Releases 1st October

Another historical fiction from Ruta Sepetys, I’m so excited! This one is set in the dictatorship of General Franco, twenty years after the Spanish Civil War, another piece of history that barely gets looked at in historical fiction and I’m excited to see how Sepetys takes it on.

The World of Throne of Glass

7. The World of Throne of Glass-Sarah J Maas-Releases 3rd October (maybe?)

I’ll be honest, I don’t actually know if this one is coming out this year or not, but it says that it is on Goodreads and Amazon, so I’m going with it. I wasn’t initially that excited about this, since it sounded like just a boring encyclopaedia of the Throne of Glass world, but apparently it is also going to show what the characters are up to following the end of Throne of Glass, so count me in.

Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, #1)

8. Into The Crooked Place-Alexandra Christo-Releases 8th October

I loved Alexandra’s debut To Kill A Kingdom, so I’m super excited for her next book. A group of thieves who accidentally plunge their world into a war and have to fight to save it, but they don’t even know if they can trust each other? YES PLEASE.

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9. A Kingdom For A Stage (For A Muse of Fire #2)-Heidi Heilig-Releases 8th October

For A Muse of Fire ended in a really exciting place, so I can’t want to read more of Jetta’s adventures in this book as she deals with the fallout of what happened in the last book and it sounds as if this one is going to be even more exciting-I am ready for it!

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10. Call Dawn The Hawk (The Dreamer Trilogy #1)-Maggie Stiefvater-Releases 5th November

AGHH! I have been anticipating this book since The Raven Cycle finished three years ago and I can’t believe it’s finally almost here! I’m so excited to see what Ronan has been up to since the end of The Raven King, and hopefully some of our Raven Cycle faves might appear in this trilogy too.

So there we go, my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2019! Are you excited for any of these? What are you most anticipated releases for the next six months? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for this week! Next week we’re talking about our Summer TBRs, but as you may have noticed from the top of this post, my graduation is next Tuesday! I will still be doing the post, but it will be pre-scheduled and I won’t be doing my usual round of comments, nor replying to comments on here, I’m sure you guys can understand! In the meantime, I will have a recap of the HarperCollins event I went to up at some point this week, and also my Spring Quarterly Rewind on Friday, so stay tuned for those.

 

 

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Jo Talks Books: Does Authors’ Online Behaviour Affect The Books You Choose To Pick Up?

Hi everyone! I had originally intended to use my June discussion post to talk about my University graduation, which is happening in a week and a half from now, but since I usually try to do two discussion posts a month over the summer anyway, I wanted to make sure that you definitely got some bookish content from me as well this month! Plus, there’s been a lot of talk on Twitter about this recently and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, so I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

Before I joined Twitter/started blogging, I had very limited access to authors. I only really started going to book events in 2014 and before about 2015/2016, I didn’t really follow all that many authors online. All this is to say, that for a long time, I had no idea what authors were saying or doing online, it wasn’t on my radar, so it wouldn’t affect the books I chose to read.

That naturally changed as I became more involved in the online book world over the past few years, I started following more authors and getting more involved in the YA community and of course, with that, comes more awareness of authors who exhibit problematic views online or act in ways that are inappropriate or even aggressive towards bloggers.

I know the mantra is “separate the art from the artist” but it’s not something I’ve ever really held to. I think art is intrinsically linked to the person who creates it, it’s an outward expression of their inner thoughts and feelings and experiences. If you as a creator hold bigoted views about a particular group in society, then those views will likely be reflected in your work and even if they’re not, most people. myself included, don’t want to support people who hold those views.

I, like all other readers, have a massive TBR pile, larger than I will probably be able to finish in my lifetime. One of the easiest ways to cut down on books on my TBR is weeding out authors who have expressed hateful views online, because that is not the kind of author that I want to be supporting. I can also easily weed out authors who have bullied or harassed bloggers because again, that’s not behaviour that I want to support.

Last February, it came out that several high profile authors had been accused of sexually assaulting and harrassing women, a few of whose books I had read in the past and whilst I can’t change that I did read and enjoy their books, I can make sure that I don’t support their work in future because those are not the kinds of actions that I, as a reader, want to support even if I did at one point like their work.

This year in particular seems to have been filled with drama already, from the whole YA author incest row a couple of weeks ago, to Nicholas Sparks showing his racist and homophobic colours, to Kathleen Hale getting a book published about being a stalker, it seems that every day brings new incidents of authors behaving improperly online. Twitter has done great things with bringing us closer to authors we love, and more easily able to interact with them but with the good, comes the bad, authors are now more easily able to share views that they previously may not have, including those that express hatred towards marginalised groups.

I feel like a lot of the issues with authors’ online behaviour comes from the fact that conversations that should take place in private, happen on a public forum. This is particularly true of the whole incest debate, it started because authors were talking about shipping Jon and Sansa from Game of Thrones and then kind of spiralled out of control. I don’t think any of the authors involved intended to condone real life incest (or at least I hope they didn’t) but conversations on Twitter can be very easy to misconstrue and the fact that so many of the authors backlashed when they were criticised about it, didn’t do anything to improve the situation. Author social media is so often a combined public and private presence and I think it can be difficult to straddle that line sometimes which often leads to authors’ expressing things on their public social that should really be kept private.

I’m talking about all this however, from a standpoint of someone who is involved in the book community online, for the general reading populace, because not every reader is on Twitter, bad behaviour from authors is probably not on their radar at all, unless you are a fan of a specific author and their online bad behaviour is reported in a news outlet, you aren’t going to know so it won’t impact your reading choices in the same way as if you are highly involved in the online community.

This assumption from authors though can be quite dangerous. In the whole incest drama, a large part of the justifications from authors when it was brought up that being seen to endorse incest was rather irresponsible when your readership is teens, was that most teens aren’t on Twitter anyway and that everyone who was outraged was 30+ year olds, which was not only blatantly untrue, but also ignoring that their intended readership is online and that they can see what you’re posting, including when you pretty much erase them in order to justify your point. I think when authors assume that their target audience cannot see what they’re saying, they think that they’re justified to say things that they otherwise would never say on a public forum. Teens are discerning enough to tell when you’re talking down to them, or completely erasing them from the conversation and that sort of behaviour is likely to alienate you from your target audience.

What I’m saying, in an incredibly long winded way, is that yes, the online behaviour of authors does affect what I choose to read. I don’t know how other people feel about it, but for me, how an author interacts with their fans online, what they choose to share and promote, what they chose to talk about, is a reflection of who they are as a person, rightly or wrongly and when I see authors promoting hateful views, or disregarding their audience, or expressing support for problematic things online, I am unlikely to want to support that author when there are so many others who use their platform to lift other people up, to share advice and support and are kind and generous in their fan interactions.

So there we go, that’s my incredibly rambling thoughts on authors and their online behaviour. What do you think? Does the way authors act online affect your reading choices? Why/why not? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back at the end of the month with a graduation post for you guys, so stay tuned for many pictures of me all dolled up and lots of rambling thoughts on how I feel about the end of my time at Uni! In the meantime, the next you hear from me will probably be my regularly scheduled Top Ten Tuesday post.

The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue Review (Montague Siblings #1)

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Book: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue (Montague Sibilings #1)

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Bechdel Test: Fail-By conceit of this novel, it kind of has to fail, the narrator is a guy, his friend is also a guy and they travel with his sister, but aside from her, there are very few important female characters in this book and given that the book is narrated by Monty, he is involved in pretty much all the conversations we see her have.

This book was my #RockMyTBR challenge book for June, and I’ve heard so much great stuff about this book over the past couple of years that I was super excited to dive in, but also nervous in case it didn’t live up to the hype for me. I’m so happy to say that wasn’t the case and you can consider me fully on the bandwagon because I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was so funny, and diverse and heartbreaking but also hopeful and the characters were amazing, and I am so excited to read the sequel now BECAUSE FELICITY (but more on that later). Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

I kind of have to start this review with Monty, because he’s one of the many reasons that I basically fell in love with this book from the first page. His voice is just brilliant, dry and sarcastic and cheeky and just so engaging, I loved it. Voice is such a hard thing to get right and Mackenzi Lee completely nails it. Monty is brilliant, he’s a complete and utter dickhead, but he owns it and where Lee could have made him one dimensionally awful, she creates a flawed, but incredibly well rounded character. You feel for Monty, in part because he’s very upfront about who he is and doesn’t shy away from his less tolerable attributes, but also because Lee shows us the vulnerability beneath the surface, he’s dealing with a lot, especially with regards to his father, and suffers from low self esteem and self doubt so even when you want to slap him (which is often), you still feel for him. It also helps that he’s pretty charming and hilarious! He has great character development too, Felicity and Percy aren’t afraid to call him on his bullshit and he does learn and grow from his mistakes over the course of their adventure.

It’s not just Monty who makes this novel though, we have two other parties in our trio. We have Percy, the lovable and incredibly caring best friend, who is so sweet that like Monty, you just can’t help but want to protect him. And we have my personal favourite, Felicity, Monty’s smart and brilliant younger sister. She’s basically the mother hen of the group, grumpy and disapproving, but secretly enjoying her brother’s antics, and she’s also incredibly funny (she has the best one liners in the entire book, including an incredible period joke which had me chuckling long after I read it. She’s also the only one of the three of them who actually gets shit done, without her Monty and Percy wouldn’t have made it to Barcelona, let alone the end of their trip! She is done with the 18th century sexism and is determined to make use of her medical skills, acquired by covertly reading medical textbooks. I’m so excited to see Felicity take centre stage in her own adventure!

The three of them make such a brilliant team, Monty gets them into all the trouble and Percy and Felicity (mostly Felicity) have to help solve all the dangerous situations Monty lands them in. They have such a great group dynamic as well, Monty and Felicity are the bickering siblings, Monty and Percy are clearly in love but won’t admit it and Felicity and Percy basically bond over eyerolling at all Monty’s stupid decisions. I really loved Monty and Felicity’s sibling dynamic, it felt very authentic, they argue a lot but ultimately love each other and always have each other’s backs and it was so lovely to see Monty’s respect for his little sister grow through the book.

There is so much diverse representation in this book, which is awesome! I love seeing historical fiction becoming more diverse, because history wasn’t full of white, straight people and it’s amazing to see historical novels starting to reflect that. The entire main trio is LGTBQ+ (Monty is bi, Percy is gay and Felicity is aroace, though that is only hinted at here, it’s confirmed in Lady’s Guide apparently). Percy is also biracial, and epileptic and Monty pretty clearly suffers from depression and PTSD.

I loved that Percy’s epilepsy wasn’t resolved with a magical cure, it seemed like that was where this book was going, but Lee definitely came through and Percy is seen to be happy and comfortable with his epilepsy as part of his life, rather than something that needs “fixing”.

It was also really nice to read about 18th century history rather than 20th century for a change, I feel like YA historical fiction can so often be saturated with 20th century stories, so it’s nice when I get to read books outside that time period. Lee definitely doesn’t shy away from dealing with the less palatable aspects of the period, homophobia, racism and sexism are all explored in the book but in a very natural way that never feels preachy and Monty is called out on his white, male privilege multiple times. I will say that the time period could have done with a little clarification, this is probably a nerdy history student thing, but I would have liked to know exactly what part of the 18th century the events were happening in!

I’d never heard of The Grand Tour before reading this book, so it was really cool to learn more about a part of history I wasn’t all that familiar with.

I also thought in places, the setting could have used being described slightly better? I felt this was mostly an issue in Barcelona & Marseilles, the author does a pretty decent job of painting a picture of 18th century Paris, Venice & Santorini.

The book is also really well paced, there’s a lot of great drama and shenanigans throughout the trio’s adventure but also lots of smaller, quieter moments as well. There’s a particularly great scene with Monty and Felicity discussing their sexualities and though they don’t have our twenty first century language to describe their identities, it’s a beautiful thing to see in a historical novel. I will say that some of the chapters felt overly long, but for the most part, the 500+ pages of this book definitely don’t drag. My only quibble with the pacing was that I felt the climax was slightly rushed, I had to read back over parts of Chapter 29 because I kind of missed what was going on.

I really enjoyed Lee’s writing style, she manages to write in a way that both fits the time period and is appealing to a contemporary reader, which is no mean feat and she particularly excels with dialogue and humour, which pleased me immensely because those are always my favourite aspects of a book. You can also clearly tell that she knows her stuff when it comes to history, and she doesn’t describe all European countries as a monolith, which can be an issue when it comes to American authors writing Europe.

The balance between humour and heartbreak is straddled really well, there are definitely more serious aspects to this novel (content warnings for homophobia, abuse, alcoholism, PTSD, racism, ableism, epilepsy) and it definitely takes some dark turns, but this is all very well balanced with the more light, humourous, adventurous events in the novel.

I really loved the pirates and I wished we could have seen more of them, not just because I love pirates, but because I really liked the burgeoning, almost father/son relationship that Monty and Scipio developed and I would have loved to see more of it.

Percy and Monty’s romance is brilliant, there is a ridiculous amount of romantic and sexual tension through the book and so much flirty banter, but of course, they’re both morons who can’t see that they’re both equally as besotted with each other! It has such a beautiful payoff though, the final scene was just EVERYTHING and I loved Monty’s letter to his dad at the end. It takes a lot of getting there, but don’t worry, there is no #buryyourgays here. I also loved that all sexual activity in this book, even kissing, happened WITH CONSENT. It’s so important to show teens what consent looks like and that definitely happens here.

Overall, I really loved this book. it had everything I love, bickering siblings, a great LGBTQ+ romance, an adventure filled with pirates and highwaymen and alchemy, tons of humour, a brilliant voice and an incredibly badass woman! I wish I already had the second book to read right now!

My Rating: 5/5

My next review will be of the latest Skulduggery Pleasant book, Bedlam, by Derek Landy (also coincidentally, will be the only book by a male author that I’ve read so far this year).

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday #215

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I finally got to meet up with my friend Ellie, who I haven’t seen in almost two years over the weekend which was awesome & I’m getting my final grades for Uni tomorrow so I’m kind of freaking out about that, but fingers crossed everything will be okay!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so I have another Top Ten Tuesday for you all, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re meant to be talking about our Unpopular Bookish Opinions, but honestly I don’t think I have that many? I could think of about three, and since that’s not really enough for a TTT, I decided to change the topic. Since it’s Pride Month and we don’t have any Pride themed prompts, I thought I’d share 10 LGBTQ+ books by LGBTQ+ authors. Since I couldn’t come up with 10 that I have read, I’m sharing 5 that I’ve read and 5 that I want to read (and if you guys have any recs for me, please leave them in the comments), so here we go: (I didn’t want to out anyone, so I’ve only chosen authors that I know have spoken about their sexuality online).

Books By LGBTQ+ authors that I’ve read:

  1. Timekeeper Trilogy-Tara Sim

This is honestly one of my favourite fantasy trilogies out there, when you read a lot of YA fantasy, it’s difficult to find anything that feels new, but this series definitely did. It’s alternate Victorian era, steampunk, with a great romance between clock mechanic Danny and clock spirit Colton. Also Tara Sim has a way of crushing your heart that I’ve only ever found with my very favourite authors.

2. Shades of Magic Trilogy-VE Schwab

Anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time in the past three years knows how much I love this series. It’s pretty much everything I love about fantasy tied up in one book, a world that really sucks you in, a stabby female lead, a male lead who gets frequently exasperated by the girl’s antics, but secretly loves them and brilliant sibling relationships. It also has two great romances, one of which is a m/m romance that is just adorable.

3. Ace of Shades/King of Fools-Amanda Foody

Amanda Foody’s Shadow Game series has several main LGBTQ+ characters, & I love that it’s so normal in the world she’s created, there’s no homophobia, the LGBTQ+ characters are all allowed to just be, which I think is really great. Plus the Shadow Game series is just really great, there are so many awesome women (yay!), so many brilliant twists and turns & the world that she’s created, the 1920s-esque, fantasy Atlantic City, is just really cool!

4. The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue-Mackenzi Lee

Yay for inclusive historical fiction! I definitely want to see more of this, so if you guys know of any other historical fiction which features LGBTQ+ characters then please let me know. This is my current read, and I’m nearly done with it, and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Monty and Percy are such adorable dorks who love each other so much and won’t admit their feelings and I’m here for this!

5. For A Muse of Fire-Heidi Heilig

Jetta, the main character of this book is queer, biracial and mentally ill, which is something that is sadly not seen very often in books. She has the power to bind the souls of the dead to puppets, which is pretty darn awesome and the world, which is a combination of Asian cultures and Colonial French, works really well.

Books By LGBTQ+ authors on my TBR:

6. The Devouring Gray-Christine Lynn Herman

This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, it was compared to The Raven Cycle and Stranger Things, which I think could make for a very cool combination and it just sounds wonderfully creepy and eerie, which is one of my favourite things. Two of the main characters are also bisexual, which is great and I follow Christine on Twitter and think she’s great, so I’m hoping for good things from this book.

7. Reign of The Fallen-Sarah Glenn Marsh

Honestly I was pretty hooked when I saw the cover of this one (it’s gorgeous!)  and then the synopsis just sealed it for me, a bisexual necromancer who is fighting to stop zombies from taking over her world? Yup, sign me up! This is on my TBR list for this year and I cannot wait to read it.

8. The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats and Piracy-Mackenzi Lee

Having almost finished The Gentleman’s Guide, I am ridiculously excited for this one because I love Felicity so much! I also don’t think I’ve ever read about an asexual character in a historical setting, so that is also super cool.

9. This Is Where It Ends-Marieke Nijkamp

I was really excited for this book before it came out and then I haven’t really heard all that much about it since. I bought it at YALC last year, so I’m hoping to get to it at some point, but all I really know about it is that it definitely has LGBTQ+ rep in it and that it’s about a school shooting.

10. Vengeful-VE Schwab

I really can’t wait to read Vengeful, I loved Vicious so much when I read it last year, but I just didn’t have time to read Vengeful and I’ve heard so much good stuff about it since then, that the women are the focus of this book and it has Victor being confirmed as canon asexual and I just can’t wait to get back to this world and these characters.

So that’s it for my list this week. I’ve definitely read more books by LGBTQ+ authors in the last few years than I did before, but I know I need to read more, so if you have any recommendations for me, then please share them in the comments! Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for this week, next week we’re talking about our Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half of the Year, so July-December, which is always a super fun list to do. In the meantime, I should have a review of Gentleman’s Guide, and hopefully a Jo Talks post coming up sometime this week, so keep an eye out for those!

Book Vs Movie: The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Hi everyone! Today marks the start of a brand new feature for BookLoversBlog, something I’ve been wanting to start for over a year now but just haven’t had time to with everything going on with Uni. It’s going to be a monthly feature, where I compare a book I’ve read to it’s movie counterpart and come up with a judgement as to which one I prefer, as hopefully a fun way to integrate my love of films a little bit more into this book blog!

For the first instalment of this new feature, I’m going to be talking about The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I actually watched the film for this one before I read the book, I saw the film when it was released back in 2013 and didn’t actually read the book until last year.

Book Thoughts:

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The book is written in an epistolary format, which kind of put it on the back foot for me from the start since I’m really not a big fan of that style, I find it kind of jarring to read, it just doesn’t feel like I’m reading a story. I also found the book kind of difficult to follow, if I hadn’t already seen the movie, I’m not sure I would have had a clue what was going on. I didn’t really love Charlie’s narration either. I can definitely see why some people love it so much, but I personally wasn’t a massive fan.

Movie Thoughts:

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I actually really liked the movie! The film has a far more cohesive narrative than the book, and I felt like the other characters were a lot more fleshed out, in the book, you only really get to know Charlie and the other characters seem more like side notes. I thought the casting was great, especially Ezra Miller as Patrick and I felt like the film offered a lot more hope than the book did? I think I liked the story, but the book didn’t necessarily express it in the best way and it came across better for me in the film.

Movie or Book Judgement:

Movie! I know the saying is the book is always better, but I think in this case, the story was more suited for the screen than the page, at least for me anyway.

So there we go, the first instalment of my new feature! I hope you guys enjoyed this and if you have any suggestions of films/books that you’d like to see me talk about on here, then please let me know, I can’t promise I will get to them right away, especially if I haven’t read the book yet, but I will definitely try.

I’m going to be back with another Book Vs Movie post next month, where I will hopefully be talking about Ashes In The Snow, the film adaptation of Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray, it comes out on the 15th July, but I think it’s going to be a largely digital release, so fingers crossed that Amazon will have it! In the meantime, my next post will be a new Top Ten Tuesday.

 

 

 

Writing Corner: A Writing Update

Hi everyone! I know I said that I was going to have another guest post this month, but I’ve been shuffling things around in the schedule a bit, so that guest post is going to come later in the year and I’m talking about something different today. I’m actually quite excited for today’s post, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve shared anything about my writing, mostly because there’s not been all that much to share, other than my frustrations with editing but there’s been quite a bit happening in my writing life at the minute, so I thought I would share it with you all.

Firstly and I guess the most exciting/terrifying news is that my novel is officially out on submission with agents. I started querying back at the end of April and it’s been…..well I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard. It’s scary sending your work out into the world, and disheartening when all that comes back is rejections. Which is it what it has been so far, lots of rejections and I was expecting that of course, but it’s one thing to expect something and another to actually experience the reality of it. It’s also kind of frustrating, because agents are incredibly vague about their reasoning for rejecting your book, which I know is totally fair because they get thousands of submissions, but it’s a constant worry when you’re writing something new and you don’t know exactly why agents aren’t responding to your current work, so you might be unwittingly making the same mistakes. I had to take a step back from writing for a while because getting all those rejections made me feel kind of despondent towards it, especially since I’m working on the sequel to the book I’m querying and it was kind of hard to see the point of working on it when I was getting rejections everywhere for the first book. I know that it’s only going to take one yes to actually get an agent, but waiting for that yes is incredibly stressful!

In happier news, I’m working on a new project! Since This Is Not A Love Story is out on submission, there’s not really anything more I can do with it, so I’m working on the sequel. I didn’t originally intend to have a sequel, I’d envisioned it as a standalone work, but my critique partner Katie suggested that it might have series potential and once I’d reworked the ending, it seemed to quite naturally lead into another book. What can I say, apparently standalones aren’t my style!

I started writing TINALS’ sequel last summer, after I finished my first round of revisions for the first book, but I kind of put it aside to work on more revisions for TINALS, especially as I was getting ready for querying, so I’ve been working on it on and off since last June, mostly when I had any free time from Uni work, which was not often!

I’ve written the first 9 chapters so far and am currently working on the tenth, it’s just under 24,ooo words, so I’ve still got a fair way to go considering that the first book was just over 76,000 words and I think that this one might end up being a bit longer than that. Unlike the first book, I did write an outline for this one, though being me, it was basically just a few bullet points and I’m still pretty much making things up as I go along!

The second book has definitely been a very different beast to write so far than the first one. I’ve got three POVs now as opposed to two, so that’s quite a lot to juggle, and two of the POVs are new ones that I didn’t have in the first book, so though I already knew the characters, learning their voices and their thought processes has been new for me. I’ve loved it though, the two new character POVs are Mia and Adrianna, two major characters from the first book and they’re both quite different to Tiffany, my main character from the first book and extremely different from Cam, who is the other main POV in the first book.

Mia is a particularly interesting character to explore, and though I can’t really go into too much detail as to why (without spoiling stuff from the first book, which I hope will eventually be available for you guys to read one day), she has a complicated past and I’m getting to explore that a lot more in this book which has been super fun to do. Mia is kind of an enigma in the first book, no one really knows all that much about her and in this second book I’ve been able to explore her character and motivations a lot more which I’ve loved doing. Adrianna, my other new POV character has also been a fun new adventure to write, she’s quite a nice contrast to Tiffany, she’s more sensible, she embraces the more traditionally feminine things that Tiffany has been conditioned to despise because her sexist society has wrongly taught her that enjoying those things makes you weak and she’s been part of the Resistance for a lot longer, so she has insight and perspective that Tiffany just doesn’t have after only a year with the group.

I’m not entirely sure whether this series is going to be two books or three, I know roughly where I want this book to end and I think there’s enough storyline to have a third book as well, but I’m not going to know for sure until I finish this book, which could take a while considering I still have at least another 50,000 words to go.

That’s all I really have to share right now, I’m going to be working on the TINALS’ sequel throughout the rest of the year and I’d like to have a full first draft done by December, though that might be a little ambitious! I’m also hoping to finally get more done on Underground Magicians this month, I’ve had over a year away from it now and that doesn’t really seem to have helped my block any, so I want to go back to it and see if the time away has given me a fresh perspective on it.

Fellow writers, how has your writing been going? Anyone else struggling with querying right now? What projects are you working on? Let me know in the comments!

If you are a writer, and would like to do a guest post, or a Q&A or any other kind of post for me then please get in touch, I have spots open for this feature from August-December, so either drop me an email, my email address is jo.ell.x@hotmail.com or a DM on Twitter, my handle is @iloveheartlandX. You can talk about any writing related topic, the sky’s the limit, and it’s not limited to published or agented writers, if you write then I want to hear from you!

I’m hopefully going to have my first post of a new feature for this blog, comparing books to their movie adaptations up over the weekend, which should be the start of a fun new feature for this blog, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime for this feature, I’m going to have a guest post from a friend of mine, Amy McCaw, about her journey to finding an agent next month, so that should hopefully be very insightful and useful to those of us who are embarking on the querying rollercoaster!

Top Ten Tuesday #214

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, mine has been relatively quiet, my parents were away so I spent the week looking after the animals. I did get to go to a book signing on Saturday though, it was Derek Landy’s Cambridge stop for the new Skulduggery Pleasant book. It wasn’t as much fun going to a signing on my own, but it was great meeting Derek again and I got a suitably awkward photo, as is mine and Hannah’s tradition when meeting Derek.

Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday for you all, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a pretty easy one, we’re talking Books From Our Favourite Genre, so naturally I’ll be talking about my Top Ten Favourite Fantasy Books. Since most of my favourites come from a series, I’m just going to be talking about my favourite book in each series, but if a series is on here, take it as me recommending the entire series and not just that specific book, as they will not all be the first book in their respective series (in fact, most won’t be)! Also I am not going to be able to keep this limited to ten, there are too many brilliant fantasy books that I love for that!

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)-VE Schwab

I love all of the books in this trilogy, but this first one will always be the most special to me, because it introduced me to the wonderful world that Schwab created and some of my favourite characters of all time, Lila, Rhy and Kell and of course it was the first VE Schwab book that I ever read. And it’s also just a brilliant book, so well written and has that wonderful immersive quality that I love in fantasy novels, you fall into it and just don’t want to come back out.

2. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)-Leigh Bardugo

This was the Leigh Bardugo novel that set the bar for all the others for me, it was the first one I read and it was just so brilliant. Such a well crafted heist, a brilliant cast of characters with such a fun, and incredibly banter filled friendship and a world that I really loved. I found a new favourite author from this book, so naturally it had to go on my list of all time favourite fantasy novels.

3. The Raven King-(The Raven Cycle #4)-Maggie Stiefvater

Again, I love this whole series, but the final book just had a little something extra for me. It’s the final book, so you get the answers you’ve been waiting for the entire series. The characters are what really make this book (and series) for me though, they have such a wonderful friendship and they grow so much over the course of the series, so it was great to see that all come to the fore in the final book.

4. The Song Rising-(The Bone Season #3)-Samantha Shannon

I liked the first two books of the series, but this instalment was definitely the most exciting for me. It’s shorter, so everything feels a lot more tightly plotted, Paige’s character development is brilliant, the world is expanded so much and it feels like a real turning point in the series: so far the action has all happened in the UK, but as of the next book, we’re finally going to get to see Scion citadels in Europe which I’m super excited for!

5. Heir of Fire-(Throne of Glass #3)-Sarah J Maas

My ratings have been kind of up and down for this series, but this one was definitely an up for me. I loved Celaena’s journey toward healing in this book and really coming into herself and we get the introduction of the witches, which I know a lot of people felt iffy about but I personally loved, Manon is the best! Much like the above book, Heir of Fire also felt like a real turning point in the Throne of Glass series.

6. The House of Hades-(Heroes of Olympus #4)-Rick Riordan

The House of Hades is not just my favourite Heroes of Olympus book, it is quite possibly my favourite Rick Riordan book as well. We get so much brilliant Percabeth content in this, with them in Tartarus, which was quite frankly what we deserved after the brutal ending of Mark of Athena, Hazel comes into her powers more, we have Leo and Calypso for the first time & of course there’s Nico coming to terms with his identity. There’s just so much great stuff packed into this book, it feels far shorter than it’s 500+ page count!

7. The Last Olympian-(Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5)-Rick Riordan

It’s honestly tough to choose a favourite Percy Jackson book, I read them all in a matter of weeks in 2010 and loved them all so much but I think if I had to choose I’d go with this one. It’s such a satisfying final book in the series, you get the culmination of the prophecy that’s been building for the past four books, the final battle with the Titans and of course, the official start of the Percabeth relationship which is built up throughout the books.

8. Chainbreaker-(Timekeeper #2)-Tara Sim

I love the entire Timekeeper trilogy, but I think the second book is my favourite. We get to go to Victorian India, which is super cool, Daphne and Colton have brilliant and emotional development arcs in this book, the world is developed so much from the first book, there were lots of brilliant twists and turns and an incredible, gut punching ending.

9. Last Stand of Dead Men (Skulduggery Pleasant #8)-Derek Landy

I had to have at least one Skulduggery Pleasant book on this list, and I decided on this one as it is definitely up there as one of my favourite books of the series. It’s so fast paced and action packed, we get to see all of the Dead Men (Skulduggery and his group of friends together) and it’s the start of the climax of the Darquesse storyline which has been building since the fifth book.

10. The Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4)-JK Rowling

Of course I had to have at least one Harry Potter book on this list and this one is my favourite. You have the Triwizard tournament, Voldemort’s return, everything gets a bit darker and more dangerous, again it feels like a turning point book, which apparently I really love!

11. Legendary-(Caraval #2)-Stephanie Garber

Caraval has become one of my favourite series in recent years and having now read all three books, I can definitely say that this one is my favourite, I loved Tella as the narrator, the pace was a lot more even than in the first book, there was a lot more worldbuilding with the Fates and everything being introduced and there were a lot of brilliant twists and turns as well.

12. Children of Blood and Bone-(Legacy of Orisha #1)-Tomi Adeyemi

Another of my favourite fantasy reads from last year, this book took a lot of recognisable tropes and made them feel fresh because of the diverse cast of characters (yay for an entirely POC world!) and fantastic world building. I can’t wait to see what is to come in the sequel when it finally comes out at the end of the year.

13. Rebel of The Sands (Rebel of The Sands #1)-Alwyn Hamilton

I loved the mix of Arab and the Wild West in this book, they worked together really well. It was also such a fast paced, exciting novel, I couldn’t get enough of it and I though Amani was a brilliant heroine.

14. To Kill A Kingdom-Alexandra Christo

The Little Mermaid has never been one of my favourite fairytales (or rather Disney movies!) but Alexandra Christo’s dark twist on it made it feel fresh and new, I loved the heroine Lira who was so vicious but also grapples with her humanity because she’s not supposed to feel anything for the people she kills and I thought the slow burn enemies to lovers romance was brilliant.

15. King of Fools-(The Shadow Game #2)-Amanda Foody

I thought the first Shadow Game book was good, but this one just took things to a whole new level. There’s so much happening, twists and turns round every corner, brilliant character development especially for Enne, so many awesome women, great new characters and an ending that punched me in the gut.

16. Enchantee-(Enchantee #1)-Gita Trelease

This was one of my first reads of the year and it was so good! I loved the whole concept of magic in the French Revolution anyway, but this book merged them so well. I loved the main character Camille, the fact that her bond with her sister was so central to this book and Trelease’s wonderfully visual writing that made me feel like I’d been dropped in the middle of the court of Versailles.

So that’s it for my supersized list this week! I know I went a bit overboard, but it was impossible to narrow down my favourite fantasy novels more than this (in fact I could have added several more!). Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for this week, I’ll be back next week with a new Top Ten Tuesday, we’re going to be talking about our Unpopular Bookish Opinions. I’ll be honest I’m not sure how many of these I have, but we’ll see if I can come up with enough to make next week’s list! In the meantime, I’m going to have a Writing Corner post up this week and hopefully I might start my new Book/Movie comparison feature and that’s something I’ve been wanting to do for ages.