Uprooted Review

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Book: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Bechdel Test: FAIL-I couldn’t find anything that I would really class as a conversation between two women that wasn’t about a man, especially as most of Agnieszka’s conversations revolve around the Dragon.

Uprooted was my May #RockMyTBR book and I have to admit that going into it I was kind of in two minds. On the one hand, I’d heard that it had Beauty and The Beast-esque vibes and all the reviews that I’d seen of it were really positive, but on the other, I tried one of Naomi Novik’s other books Spinning Silver, last year and I really couldn’t get into it, so that kind of put me off trying this one. After reading it, my feelings really aren’t any less conflicted than they were before I read it, on the one hand I thought it was a creative concept and I liked reading a fairytale type story with less obvious influences, but it was an incredibly dense book, Novik’s prose was kind of unwieldy and I couldn’t really relate to any of the characters. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

A dark enchantment blights the land

Agnieszka loves her village, set in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she is everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he takes. 

Honestly I’m not even sure how to review this one, the plot was kind of complicated and confusing anyway, and it’s generally meant to be quite a strange story, so it’s difficult to know where exactly to begin.

I’ll start with the writing, since that was one of my biggest bugbears about the story. I’ll admit this is a very me thing, and the writing isn’t necessarily bad, but for me the prose was incredibly dense and kind of unwieldy. I’m not sure if purple is exactly the way to describe it but it was definitely heading that way. Some people like that kind of writing, but I’m not one of them, so from the get go, this was a bit of a difficult one for me to read.

The pacing was incredibly uneven, the first half is incredibly slow and there’s not all that much really happening and then we get the latter third or so and suddenly everything is going at breakneck speed and it’s kind of confusing because things are going so fast that you can’t quite work out what’s going on.

The chapter lengths were also a bit of an issue for me, they’re quite chunky and again on a personal note, I just don’t really like that. I read before bed, so chapter brevity is always a winner for me, it means that I can read more, plus the denseness of the prose meant that the chapters felt even longer than they already are. The book could definitely have been trimmed a few hundred pages, the climax seems to go on for far longer than is actually necessary. I kept thinking the book was over and then it just kept going!

As far as the characters go, for starters there were far too many in the latter portion of the book, as soon as Agnieszka gets to court, suddenly we are introduced to twenty million different people, and I just couldn’t keep them all straight in my head, especially since most of them were barely developed. Agnieszka herself also felt kind of flat to me, I wasn’t really sure what it was about her, but I just felt like I couldn’t connect to her. She also falls kind of into the special snowflake trap, she struggles with magic for a little bit but then suddenly she finds a book and it becomes super easy for her and she doesn’t seem to tire from using it until its convenient for plot purposes. I didn’t need to be reminded every two chapters that Agnieszka was plain and clumsy, but the author did anyway. I just didn’t find her particularly memorable as a heroine and I found that her voice was kind of detached, which meant I didn’t really feel the emotions in the story that I was supposed to.

The Dragon I had issues with for different reasons. He’s kind of a jerk and whilst I did enjoy some of his snarky comments, I didn’t really see what about him I was supposed to like? I do get the appeal of gruff guys, but usually they have a heart of gold underneath and that’s why you love them, The Dragon just came off as a jerk to me. He’s pretty nasty to Agnieszka and honestly I just couldn’t tell what she saw in him.

The romance I also had major issues with. For starters, we have the classic captor/captive trope, which should just die in a hole already, much as I love Beauty and The Beast, I have to admit that I have become ever more uncomfortable with that particular part of the story over the years. He is also over 100 and she is only 17, and whilst I did appreciate that he acknowledged this (most books don’t), it did seem to be glossed over pretty quickly. Plus, I genuinely just didn’t feel the chemistry between the two of them, Agnieszka seemed to feel more for Kasia (her best friend) than she ever did for the Dragon. We also get a very explicit sex scene late on in the book, that didn’t really seem to fit and made me kind of uncomfortable, though I did appreciate that the author made sure to include on page consent.

The magic system is another one of my big issues with this book. IT’S NEVER EXPLAINED. No one explains why certain people have magic and certain people don’t, we don’t know why Agnieszka is so drawn to this particular type of magic that no one else seems to really use, and there’s no hard and fast rules. They seem to be able to just throw out magic until it becomes convenient for the plot for them to be drained.

The Wood was an interesting villain and I liked not having a person, but rather a thing, be the source of evil, but I felt like the explanation for how the Wood turned bad and the corruption started wasn’t really thought through enough. The stakes were also never really that high, even when the characters were in danger, you knew that they were only one good magic spell away from getting out of it.

The ending I found kind of anti-climactic, I think it would have been fine ending off at Chapter 31, but then we get this weird extended epilogue that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and doesn’t really add anything to the story as a whole.

Overall, I liked the concept of this book but found the execution lacking. The first half was far too slow and then the second half was way too fast and confusing, the characters weren’t all that well developed and the plot became difficult to follow the further through the book you got. I don’t think I’ll be trying anything by this author again.

My Rating: 3/5

My next review will either be of Finale, the final book in the Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber, or of Romanov, by Nadine Brandes, depending on which one I finish first.

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Top Ten Tuesday #211

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Hi everyone, I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. It’s my last week at Uni, so I’m spending the week packing up my room which is pretty much my least favourite thing because I despise packing but I am excited to be going home as I’m going to see my friends Zoe and Hannah for the first time in three months next week!

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’s topic was meant to be a Page To Screen Freebie, but since I did that topic last week, I’ve decided to go a little bit off script this week and do something completely different. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK this week, and I thought it would be great to share Top Ten Books You Should Read For Mental Health Awareness Week. I’ve picked a mix, so some are books where the characters mental illness is central to the plot and others are books where the main character has a mental illness but it’s not a central plot point. So here we go:

  1. Challenger Deep-Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep follows teenager Caden Bosch as he struggles with schizophrenia, it takes place in parallel timelines, partly in reality as Caden is in treatment and partly in Caden’s hallucinations on a ship to the Marianas Trench. The entire book follows the descent of Caden’s mental illness as his hallucinations slowly start to leak into his everyday life.

2. Under Rose Tainted Skies-Louise Gornall

Louise Gornall’s debut is an unflinching look at OCD, agoraphobia and anxiety, based on her own personal experiences. The story follows Norah and her struggles with these illnesses as she grows closer to the new boy next door, but never fear, there is no love cures all here! It’s not an easy read, Norah’s thoughts are so pervasively intense that reading them can be a struggle, but it’s definitely an important one.

3. Countless-Karen Gregory

Countless is another one that’s quite difficult to read, but it’s certainly a unique story, about a girl with anorexia who finds out that she’s pregnant. She attempts to tackle her eating disorder for the sake of her unborn child, but it’s much harder to get rid of “Nia” (her name for her eating disorder) than she first thought. It’s frustrating and difficult to read about Hedda’s attempts to tackle her eating disorder, but ultimately does end in a hopeful place.

4. For A Muse of Fire-Heidi Heilig

This is an #ownvoices story with the main character suffering from the same bipolar disorder that the author does, which I loved because I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read a book that features a bipolar character before, especially not one also by an author with the disorder. The story is brilliant too, Jetta (the main character) is able to bind the souls of the dead to shadow puppets and her family travel around the country performing. The world is also a really cool blend of French colonialism and Asian cultures.

5. Radio Silence-Alice Oseman

I have to admit, this wasn’t my favourite book of ever, but it definitely does tackle mental health issues well, Aled suffers from depression (though it would have been better if it was named on page, it’s very very heavily implied) and both Aled and Frances are dealing with anxiety, especially surrounding school. If you love contemporaries, you will probably enjoy this one more than I did.

6. The Perks of Being A Wallflower-Stephen Chbosky

Again, I have to admit, I didn’t totally love this book, but that was mostly a format issue for me, I’m not really one for epistolary novels, so personally, I would go for the film over the book for this one. However, it is a great book for mental health awareness week since a lot of the book focuses on Charlie dealing with his mental illnesses (anxiety & depression, I think) and struggling through his first year of high school.

7. Asking For It-Louise O’Neill

Asking For It follows the aftermath of main character Emma’s rape, in a small town in Ireland. Emma struggles a lot with her mental health following the incident, as can be expected, dealing with the trauma results in serious depression and suicidal thoughts and it’s incredibly harrowing and difficult to read. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has made me this angry before, no one deserve what happened to Emma and the reactions of her town are just……AGHHH.

8. Six of Crows-Leigh Bardugo

One of the main characters Kaz Brekker, suffers from PTSD after a traumatic event in his childhood and as part of this, he also has a fear of touching people and being touched himself, so he constantly wears gloves in order to avoid physical contact. Plus, the story is a brilliant fantasy heist caper, with a great ensemble cast and a wonderful group dynamic.

9. Timekeeper-Tara Sim

The main character in Timekeeper, Danny, is suffering from PTSD and anxiety following a terrible accident which took place before the beginning of the book, he was caught up in a clock tower explosion and his subsequent fear affects his job as a clock mechanic.

10. Rose Under Fire-Elizabeth Wein

Rose Justice, the main character of this novel, when we first find her, has just escaped from Ravensbruck concentration camp and is clearly suffering PTSD as a result of her experiences, she’s unable to dress, eat, sleep, anything for several days following, all she can do is sit and write about her experiences. It’s obviously an extremely tough book to read due to the subject matter, but an incredibly important one as well.

Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? What books would you recommend for Mental Health Awareness Week? Is there anything you would like to see more of in YA books addressing mental illnesses? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for this week, I’ll be back next week for another Top Ten Tuesday, next week we’re talking Books That I Refuse To Let Anyone Touch, which might be a difficult one for me because I’m generally quite good about lending my books out, but I’ll see what I can come up with. Meanwhile, I’m almost done with my current read, Uprooted, so I should have a review of it up before the end of the week.

Jo Talks Books: Do You Always Have To Read The Book Before Watching The Movie?

Hi everyone! Please don’t shudder away or starting throwing things at me through your laptop after reading the title of this post, I swear it’s not as controversial as it might seem. You might have seen my Top Ten Tuesday post this week about Films that I’ve watched without having read the book and I’d actually planned on doing this post first because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently and I thought it might make quite an interesting discussion since it’s something that the book community seems to have quite strong feelings about.

I understand the standpoint of “you should read the book before watching the film” for film adaptations of books. The book is usually better, and reading it before seeing the film gives you an understanding of the world & characters before going in, plus you can complain about all the things that the film got wrong.

But, and hear me out here: I don’t actually think it’s a requirement to go into a book to film adaptation having read the book. I’ve done both, I’ve watched films when I’ve already read the book & I’ve watched films and read the book after (I’ve also watched films with no intention of ever reading the book). I get why some book lovers insist that reading the book first is what you should do, consuming the story in the format it was originally conceived, but I think there are certain advantages (and disadvantages also) to doing it the other way around.

For one thing, one of the most common complaints of book lovers is that the film isn’t as good as the book. If you haven’t already read the book first, then you are going into it with fresh eyes, you’re less likely to be disappointed and you’ll probably enjoy it more because you won’t spend the entire film looking for your favourite scenes from the books which aren’t there. It’s the same reason why as a history student I tend to enjoy historical films more when I’m not as familiar with the time period, because I’m not constantly looking for inaccuracies!

Also, there are actually a lot more films based on books that you would think, and it’s not always obvious. For instance, Shrek was originally a book! I doubt many people went out and picked up the graphic novel by William Stieg before they went to see that film though. Mean Girls, was originally based on a self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, Pitch Perfect was also based on a non-fiction book, Pitch Perfect: The Quest For Collegiate Acapella Glory. Legally Blonde was based on a novel of the same name by Amanda Brown. The Parent Trap was based on a German children’s book called Lisa & Lottie. The point is, there are millions of books out there, many of which are made into films and it’s not going to be possible to always read the book before you see the film. I can think of many films I’ve watched without actually knowing they were based on books before hand (the above being just a few examples) and I enjoyed them, so “read the book before the film” doesn’t always have to be a hard and fast rule.

For me as well, I have very different tastes in books and films. Things that I might like in a book, I might not necessarily want in a film, or vice versa. This particularly goes for romance, I love romantic comedies, but am not a big fan of romance novels, so I’ve watched a lot of films and TV shows that were based on books which I would never have read. Outlander, for instance, as I talked about in my Top Ten Tuesday post, I love as a show, but would hate as a book because I would hate that much romance in a book. The Devil Wears Prada is one of my favourite films, would I ever have picked up the book? Nope. If I hadn’t watched those things without having read the book first, I probably would never have seen them because I would know that the books weren’t for me.

I also think that it can be a good idea to watch the TV show/film first if you aren’t entirely sure about the book and want to make up your mind whether you’d like it or not. I watched The Hate U Give film when I couldn’t get into the book, because I really wanted to experience the story and see what everyone was talking about, and I enjoyed it, so will now probably want to try the book again. I wasn’t sure whether the Game of Thrones books were for me, but my friends love the show, so I tried it, loved it and now I might try the books (on audio, there is no way I’m going for books that long in physical format). Films can be a great way of testing the water for books you’re not necessarily sure about, it’s not as big of a time commitment, so if it sucks then you’ve only wasted an hour or two of your time as opposed to a day or two (or much longer if you’re a slow reader like me).

Some films you’re probably actually going better in blind, especially if they have major twists because if you know what’s going to happen then the twists don’t land as well. If you’re watching a film based on a murder mystery and you already know who the murderer is, will the film be as much fun as if you spent the entire thing working out who the killer was? Personally, I don’t think so. A good example for me of something like this was when I went to see Gone Girl, it was a great film and stuck really closely to the book, but because I’d already read the book, I wasn’t as surprised as I would have been by some of the plot developments because I knew what was going to happen.

I also feel like if you can’t understand the film without having read the book, then the film is doing something wrong. Obviously when you release a film based on a book, if it’s a popular book, you have to expect that a lot of the audience is going to be fans of the book. However, one of the best things about books being made into films is that it allows them to reach an audience of people who might not necessarily be the most avid readers, and who might then decide that they want to try the book. If the film is totally confusing and only really comprehensible for people who have read the book, then you’ll alienate some of your audience. I’ll admit that I personally, whilst I usually have the intention of reading the book later, tend not to read the book if I’ve seen the film first but that’s more a reflection on the state of my TBR pile than anything else.

It also comes down to your preferred medium for consuming art. Some people like films or TV shows better than books. Does it mean that you love the story any less if you consume it in a medium different to the one it was originally? I don’t think so, I think you can still love something even if you’ve only seen the film or TV series, and it doesn’t make you any less of a fan than those who read the book first.

There are also logistical reasons for watching a film first, if you want to see a film in the cinema, it tends to have a much shorter shelf life than a book, they’re only in cinemas for a short amount of time (a few weeks, several months if they’re really popular) and if you’re desperate to avoid spoilers, it might be better to just go see the film first, since people tend to talk more about film spoilers than book spoilers on social media (assuming that you are not big into Book Twitter). You might not want to wait till you get to the book on your massive TBR before getting to see the film, or like me, you might be a slow reader and not able to get through the book before the film comes out.

So there we go, those are some of my thoughts on the whole book or film first debate, ultimately it all comes down to what you prefer and I don’t think that one way is better than the other, I think you can have an enjoyable experience whether you read the book or watch the film first.

How about you? Have you ever watched the film/TV show of a book before reading it? Have you ever watched a film with no intention of reading the book? Have you ever watched a film not knowing it was based on a book? Let me know in the comments!

I will probably have another Jo Talks post for you guys up before the end of the month, but I’m not quite sure what that will be yet, I have a few ideas kicking around and we’ll see which one I end up going with. In the meantime, I’ve been tagged in a Spring book tag and it looked like fun so I’ll probably put that up either tomorrow or Monday.

 

We Are Blood and Thunder Review (e-ARC)

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Book: We Are Blood and Thunder

Author: Kesia Lupo

Published By: Bloomsbury UK

Expected Publication: 4th April (I’m sorry!)

Format: e-book

Bechdel Test: PASS-It took until almost the very end of the book to find, but Lena and Constance have a brief conversation discussing the spell that counts.

I received this book from Bloomsbury UK, through Netgalley UK, in exchange for an honest review.

As always, thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book early.

I saw a lot of people crowing about this book when ARCs went out, on Twitter, and it sounded intriguing, so I decided to request it from Netgalley and thankfully got accepted. However, the book didn’t actually live up to expectations for me, I was expecting something really great and instead I found it kind of flat and getting through it was a bit of a slog, honestly if I hadn’t been reviewing it for Netgalley, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, running for her life, convicted of being a mage and sentenced to death. Her only way to survive is to trust those she has been brought up to fear – those with magic.

On the other side of the locked gates is a masked lady, Constance, determined to find a way back in. She knows only too well how the people of Duke’s Forest loathe magic. Years ago she escaped before her powers were discovered. But now she won’t hide who she is any longer.

A powerful and terrifying storm cloud unites them. It descends over the dukedom and devastates much in its wake. But this is more than a thunderstorm. This is a spell, and the truth behind why it has been cast is more sinister than anyone can imagine … Only Lena and Constance hold the key to destroying the spell. Though neither of them realise it, they need each other. They are the blood and they have the thunder within.

I was so excited about this book, it sounded so different and intriguing! And it got off to a really good start, the opening was strong, the first chapter was really action packed, everything was setting up for something really exciting. And then the rest of the book happened.

It was SO SLOW. I’ve read 600+ paged books that were better paced than this, it made it’s 430 page length seem like it was twice as long. It did start to pick up again at the end but by that point, you had already had to slog through 300 0dd pages of nothing, and I’m not sure many readers will have the attention span to get through. It didn’t help that most of the chapters were 20 or 30 pages long, so despite there not being a massive number of them (29 + a prologue and epilogue, pretty standard), each one took forever to get through.

I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters, I felt like they were flat and could have been way more developed. I was interested in Lena to start off with, but she never seemed to develop at all from the beginning to the end of the book. Constance was a little more interesting and fleshed out but I still didn’t feel like I could connect to her at all, her voice seemed very detached. Emris was just your typical generic mentor and Winton, Constance’s brother seemed to have very little purpose and the Justice was a very cardboard cutout villain with weak motivations.

Constance and Lena have very separate story arcs and they don’t really combine till right at the end of the book, which meant that most of the book felt disjointed and the blurb was kind of misleading in that respect because it made it seem like their story arcs were more connected than they actually were.

The world building I found lacking and kind of confusing, the magic system is never fully explained, I didn’t really understand why the world hated magic so much and a lot of the world just didn’t really make much sense to me. I also felt pretty confused by the explanations we did get of the magic, it was a lot of waffle about Chaos and Order and Bindings and Gods without any real explanation.

The writing was fine, nothing to particularly crow about, but to be honest I was so bored, I don’t think that amazing writing would have saved it!

There was some representation in this, as far as I could gather, Lena was a POC, and Winton, Constance’s half-brother was gay, I’m not sure if there was anymore than that though, at least not on page.

The romance in the book was half baked and not at all developed, Lena and Emris seem to have a mentor/student relationship going and then all of a sudden they like each other and are kissing? I mean I know that can happen, but it just seemed to come out of left field. Constance is hinted to have had romantic relationships with a man from home Xander, and Emris, but nothing really comes of either. I also found it kind of weird that Emris and Lena got together, since it seemed as if Emris was the same age as Constance, and she was in her early 20s whereas Lena is 16 and whilst it’s not the weirdest age gap in YA ever, I’m not a massive fan of relationships between adults and under 18s (it’s different if it’s 16 & 18 or 17 & 18 but 16 & 23? That’s a bit weird).

There were some great twists towards the end of the book and I liked where the author went with the mystery about the storm, but I found myself rather unsatisfied by the ending, because it didn’t really feel earned, because of how slow everything had been up to that point, the ending felt somewhat rushed.

Overall this book just really wasn’t for me, slow pacing, a confusing plot, lacklustre characters and a rushed end made it very difficult to enjoy and I couldn’t really find much positive to say about it, which is a shame for me, because I always try to find at least one positive thing to end my review on.

My Rating: 2/5

My next review will be of my May #RockMyTBR book, Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday #210

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Hi everyone, I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. I’ve had a relatively quiet week, working on the sequel for This Is Not A Love Story and reading a lot, I’m trying to distract myself because I’m waiting to hear back about my grades for this semester, and to hear back from agents, so basically I need to keep as busy as possible to stop myself from stressing (it’s not working very well!).

Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic was meant to be Characters That Remind Me Of Myself, but I actually did that topic back in December as an old one from the archives, and since I didn’t want to give you guys a list that was a complete replica of that one (because it would be), so I’m going to do next week’s topic early and talk about Films/TV Shows I’ve Watched, but Haven’t Read The Book, since it ties in quite well with the discussion post I want to do this month. So here we go:

  1. The Hate U Give-Angie Thomas

Okay, okay, hear me out. I tried reading The Hate U Give but I wasn’t getting into it, however, I was still interested in the story, because obviously so many people loved it, so I decided to watch the film and I thought it was really great, so I am now going to go back and give the book another chance-see watching the movie first can have its upsides!

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A friend of mine loves this book, but I’m not a massive lover of books with an epistolary format. However, I loved the sound of the story and I’m a big fan of Lily James, so the movie was right up my alley. I really loved the film, the 40s is very my aesthetic (in terms of fashion, I love 40s and 50s stuff), Lily James is amazing in it and the story is beautiful and heartbreaking. I’m in two minds as to whether to read the book now, because I did love the film but I know the book’s format will not work for me.

3. You-Caroline Kepnes

I was actually already interested in reading the book before I watched the show for this, but it just so happened that the show came out before I’d had a chance to read it yet. so I watched the show first. I thought the show was really great, and so now I am definitely going to check out the book, but I think in audio form, because I loved the narration on the show and Santino Fontana reads the book!

4. Love, Simon-Becky Albertalli

Simon Vs is not really my kind of book, so I hadn’t read it before the film came out and then everyone loved the film, so I decided to try it. I thought the film was really cute, but I’m still not entirely sure if I’m going to read the book, because the point about it not really being my kind of book still stands.

5. It’s Kind of A Funny Story-Ned Vizzini

I didn’t know this was a book before I watched the film, I was just looking for something to watch on Prime, this came up and looked interesting so I watched it and I did really enjoy it. I still haven’t read the book, I’d like to, but it’s not one that’s at the top of my TBR list.

6. Game of Thrones-George RR Martin

I only really started watching Game of Thrones because my friends kept talking about it, it wasn’t really on my radar before then, but I really wanted to understand their references, so I ended up binging the show in the two weeks before Season 7 came out. I’m still not overly sure whether I will read the books, because they are SO LONG, but if I do, it will definitely be in audio.

7. Outlander-Diana Gabaldon

I started watching Outlander when it came out on Channel 4, and then quickly binged the rest of the series, up to the end of 3, which was what was available at the time (I think this was two years ago, I’m not quite sure!) and I love it, but I’m not entirely sure I would read the books, they are massive and I don’t think I could deal with that much romance in the books (I’m far more tolerant of on screen romance than book romance, don’t ask why, I really don’t know).

8. Bridget Jones’ Diary-Helen Fielding

I think I had briefly read maybe like a chapter or two of the book before I saw the film, but the film was my first experience of the full story, so I’m counting it! It’s one of my favourite films but I’m not sure I’d read the book, again because of the disparity of my interest in romance between books and TV/Film.

9. The Miseducation Of Cameron Post-Emily Danforth

I’m honestly not sure why I watched this, it’s not exactly my kind of thing, but I was bored and wanted a film to watch one night and landed on this. I didn’t really enjoy it, I found it kind of dull, so I don’t think I’ll be reading the book.

10. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (Full Frontal Snogging for the book)-Louise Rennison

I was kind of vaguely aware of the book before I saw the film and I hadn’t read it, but I did like the film, in it’s own cringey way, but I’m not sure I could read the book now, the second hand embarrassment would be way too much!

Have you watched any of these films, or read the books that they are based on? Did you enjoy them? Do you ever watch the film before reading the book? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for this week, I’ll be back next week for another Top Ten Tuesday. Obviously I’ve done next week’s topic for this week, but since next week is a freebie, I figured I could do a different Page To Screen topic for next week, so I’m going to talk about Upcoming Book To Movie Adaptations I’m Excited For. Meanwhile, my Q&A with Amanda Foody went live today, so please check that out, and in the meantime I should have a review of my most recent read, We Are Blood and Thunder up by the end of the week.

 

 

Writing Corner: Q&A With Author Amanda Foody

Hi everyone! As you can probably tell from the picture at the top of this post, today is my stop on the blog tour for Amanda Foody’s new book, King of Fools. I’m super excited about this because I love Amanda’s books, and it was so much fun getting to ask questions about King of Fools, plus having another author on my blog is such a cool thing for me, so thank you so much to Amanda, and to her publicist Nina Douglas for setting this up. I hope you guys enjoy it and if you like content like this then please let me know and I will try to see what I can do to hopefully get more authors on here in the future. My questions are largely about King of Fools, with some more general ones about the Shadow Game series as well, but don’t worry if you haven’t read it yet, there are no spoilers here. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Shadow Game series, I’ll give you a quick basic rundown, it’s a trilogy, with King of Fools being the second book, set in a fantasy version of Atlantic City, where the streets are run by gangs. The main characters are Enne Salta, a finishing school dropout who travels to the City of Sin to find her missing mother and Levi Glaisyer, a gang lord who she ropes into help her. There’s a lot more that goes on than that, obviously, but hopefully that gives those of you who are not familiar with the series, a better idea of what Amanda is talking about in this post. Now onto the questions: 

  1. Q: King of Fools is the second book in your Shadow Game trilogy, did you find that the process of writing the second book differed at all from Ace of Shades? What were the major challenges in writing this book?

A: It was, by nature of circumstances, a very different process. I wrote Ace of Shades in high school, with far off aspirations of being published, and I rewrote it many times over the years as I improved as a writer. King of Fools had a publishing deal before it was written. It was drafted over two months on deadline, and I was both a different kind of writer and person than when I wrote the first book. The biggest challenge had to be the book’s length-it’s undoubtedly the longest book in the series, and the complexity of the story made every little change take me forever to implement.

2. Q: One of the things I love so much about the book is the wonderfully wide range of female characters, how important was it to you to show all these different kinds of women within your world?

A: Extremely! Even in a world of violence and crime, it was very important to me to have just as many women in the game as men.

3. Q: On that vein, which one of your female characters is your favourite to write? Who is the most difficult?

A: Vianca is my favourite, she’s so complicated, and so evil. The most difficult is Enne, who is also deeply complicated. Complicated is a lot harder when it’s through their POV, when their thoughts get jumbled among their many desires & contradictions. Enne lost everything in the first book, so she begins King with nothing–not a home, not security, not ambition. It was a lot easier to write characters like Levi and Jac–who did want a very definable thing–than to write the journey of a young woman finding herself.

4. Q: King of Fools introduces a lot of new characters to the world, how do you think these additions change the dynamics between the characters readers remember from Ace of Shades? Who do you think will be readers’ favourites?

A: It changes the dynamics a lot. In fact one of the hardest parts about talking about Ace of Shades was not being able to include so much of the new cast in King of Fools. We originally had this group of four–Enne, Levi, Jac and Lola. And now that’s expanded, and even more, it’s become this very complicated, multi-circled Venn Diagram. You have Enne, Lola, and Grace. Then you throw in Tock, Sophia, Narinder, Poppy. The questionable Bryce-Rebecca-Harvey trio. Not to mention all the new villains. I think Grace will inevitably be a fan favourite. Also Poppy. I’m personally very partial to Tock.

5. Q: There’s a lot of great exploration in King of Fools of women and power, particularly through Vianca and Enne, what interests you most about the relationship between women and power?

A: When women are powerful or successful, they have to prove they deserve it, over and over again. Because women don’t just “get” power. They have to be special in some way–maybe they’re uniquely cunning, uniquely ruthless or just uniquely lucky. Because the second they’re viewed as simply women, they’re dismissible. This is a pressure both Vianca and Enne have struggled with. Vianca was warped by it. She surrounded herself with men and went to constant efforts to prove herself to them through ruthlessness. Enne has surrounded herself with women and has proven herself through loyalty. I loved writing their relationship because these two women did identify with each other…to a point.

6. Q: Your books are wonderfully feminist, how would you say your feminism has influenced your writing in the Shadow Game series?

A: As a young girl, I had a wide variety of interests. I was focused in my academics, but I also loved arts, sport, fashion, books. I didn’t fit neatly into one category, and I quickly learned that the world loves to put women into categories. Hence the development of one of my least favourite phrases, “strong female character”. This label, originally only meant to denote a female character who was developed, not simply a prop, has twisted somehow to throw girls into two categories, strong and weak. Which has low-key deviated further into masculine and feminine. For most of my childhood, I identified with the main characters of books–usually bookish, quiet girls. I also identified with their bubbly best friends who liked clothes. Or the mean popular girl who cared too much about being liked. In fantasy, there were these warrior female characters, who used their strength not to lift other women up, but to diminish them.

I’ve thus made it my raison d’etre to write girls who do not fit into neat categories. Who surround themselves with women. Who cry and are vulnerable and sometimes want silly, useless things. These are the sort of female characters we should be lifting up–female characters who are not internalised models for the patriarchy.

In fact, I loved writing Vianca because I felt like in many ways, she was the epitome of the twisted version of “strong female character”. Ruthless. Oh so different from other women. More terrified of being called “weak” than being called “cruel”.

7. Q: King of Fools added Jac’s POV into the mix, how different was he to write from Levi and Enne?

A: At first I struggled with him. I had spent so many years with Levi, and Enne, of course Jac took some getting used to. But I very quickly fell in love with his voice and the perspective he added to this world and this story. Jac also gets what–in my opinion–is the most action-packed, highest stakes chapter in the book.

8. Q: You first came up for the idea for Ace of Shades when you were 16, did you know that it was going to end up being part of a trilogy? And if you did, how different was your initial conception of King of Fools to what the book ended up being?

A: I did! I usually know when I get my ideas whether they’ll end up as standalones, duologies, trilogies, or otherwise–even if I don’t necessarily know what comes next. Honestly, King of Fools was quite similar to how I always pictured it. Though I didn’t have everything figured out–I’m still figuring out what happens in the third book as I write it–there are some really big reveals that occur down the line that I knew King of Fools needed to build the framework for. So there were really two categories of characters in this book–characters that I knew because they are major players in the overall story, and characters who introduced themselves to me as I wrote and demanded a spot at the table.

9. Q: Are there any characters from the Shadow Game series that you’d love the opportunity to explore more once the series is done?

A: Apart from perhaps the occasional short story, the only story I’d be willing to write any sort of spinoff for is the tragic romance of Enne’s parents during the Great Street War. It’s not off the table, but it depends on so many factors–the success of the series, the willingness of my publisher, the desire from readers. We’ll see!

10. Q: What are you most proud of about King of Fools?

A: I’m most proud of Enne and Vianca! I loved writing their relationship. I’m also pretty proud of the RIDE that is my last four chapters. I held nothing back.

Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she lives in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.

www.amandafoody.com

Amanda Foody’s third novel, King of Fools, the sequel to 2018’s Ace of Shades is out now, so head to your local bookshop, Amazon, or wherever it is you get your books from and check it out.

I hope you all enjoyed this Q&A with Amanda Foody, and if you are a writer and would love to do a Q&A about your books or your writing with me (you don’t have to be published, I welcome all writers, published/unpublished, agented/unagented, if you write then I want to hear from you!), or do a guest post about your writing, then please get in touch with me via email: jo.ell.x@hotmail.com or Twitter, @iloveheartlandX. I have spots available from August-December, and the sky’s the limit, you can talk about your books/WIP, writing process, agents/querying, whatever it is you want to talk about! 

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post will be up later, so make sure to check that out, and I’ve got a few things planned for the next week or so, a review of We Are Blood and Thunder and a Jo Talks post, so you can expect those soon! I’m also going to have another post for this feature before the end of the month, as I told you guys last month, I’ll have a video from my friend Hannah (not my YALC friend Hannah, my other friend Hannah who is an author!), talking about finding a publisher and a publishing route that works for you. I’m going to be on her channel talking about writing as well, so I’ll let you know when that’s up and you can check that out too.

#RockMyTBR April Update (2019)

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good April, mine kind of disappeared in a haze of deadlines, lots of final activities for Uni, my family visiting and various other things, I actually don’t quite understand how it went so quickly.

Anyway, for those of you who have started following since I last did one of these, #RockMyTBR is a challenge originally set up by Sarah K at The YA Book Traveler in 2016, where she challenged us to take a list of backlist books that we wanted to knock off our TBRs. I’ve kind of taken it for myself over the past two years as it’s a really nice, low pressure challenge. I have 12 books on my list, so I’m aiming to have them all done by December, reading one book a month. April was pretty good for me, not as good as March, but I feel like that was kind of a fluke anyway, I read 3 books, which is pretty decent for me. Anyway, here’s all the books I read in April:

38470247Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J Maas:

This was my #RockMyTBR book for April and I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting? I’m not really a comic book person and I struggled to get into Wonder Woman, so I didn’t really have high hopes for this one, but I really enjoyed it, it was nice to see Sarah taking on a different world for a change, and reading a book by here that wasn’t like a thousand pages long! I read this book from 28th March-11th April. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/catwoman-soulstealer/

41054664King of Fools by Amanda Foody:

This was my main Netgalley read for April, and I LOVED IT. It took everything I loved about the first book and turned it up to 11, it’s so brilliantly feminist and has so many wonderful and varied women, there’s amazing character development for everyone and enough twists and turns to make you dizzy! I cannot wait to read the third book now. I read this one from 4th-15th April (a 600 page book in under two weeks is very impressive for me!). Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/02/king-of-fools-the-shadow-game-2-review-e-arc/

41054515A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven:

I loved the first book of this duology but I feel a little bit lukewarm about this one. I still loved Izzy, but I didn’t feel that this sequel was quite as funny as the first book and the plot was kind of lacklustre and slightly lagging. I read this one from 11th-21st April. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/a-girl-called-shameless-review-izzy-oneill-2/

So that’s what I read in April, here’s what I’ve got coming up for May:

Uprooted-Naomi Novik

My #RockMyTBR book for this month, I’ve heard great things about this one. I’m struggling with it a little because the chapters are so long, but I’m not all that far through yet, so I’m hoping that it will get better.

Finale-Stephanie Garber

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK! Only six more days to go until I finally get it. I love this series and I can’t wait to see how things end for Tella and Scarlett.

We Are Blood and Thunder-Kesia Lupo

My Netgalley read for this month. Honestly I’m not really enjoying this, I’m finding it kind of boring and confusing, but it’s a Netgalley book and I’m too far through it now to give up.

Romanov-Nadine Brandes

This is going to be my other Netgalley read for the month when I’ve finally finished We Are Blood and Thunder, and I’m so excited for this one, I really loved Fawkes and I can’t wait to see what Nadine Brandes has done with the story of Anastasia Romanova!

I’m still really pleased with my reading progress through this year, I’ve read 18 books which is far more than I usually would have by this point in the year & I have a few weeks before I go home from Uni, so I’m planning on getting a lot of reading done in that time. I’m still 7 books ahead of my Goodreads Challenge, so that’s feeling pretty good. How did your April reading go? Let me know in the comments!