Sunday, 3 June 2018

June Hiatus and International Giveaway!


As I mentioned in my Monthly Wrap-Up, I'm taking a blogging hiatus in June. But...... I have a surprise for you ;) During June I'll be running a giveaway over on my blog, so keep reading and enter it below!


INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

Prize:

A book of your choice worth $12 from Book Depository or Wordery

Rules:
- If you're under 18, you must have parents' permission to enter.
- There will be one winner.
- If the winner doesn't respond within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. 

















May the odds be ever in your favour, and see you again in July! 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Monthly Wrap-Up: May-June


May is gone! Flip! It's so darn quick people. Seriously.

These last few weeks of May have been so cold and wintery and I am loving it. Hopefully there'll be more of that in June! Otherwise, I think it's going to be a relaxing and at the same time productive month ahead. I'm going to write a lot, spend a lot of time reading the Bible, and towards the end of the month I'll be working at our church's holiday club looking after little kids. It's always crazy, but so rewarding too!


Blog Posts from this month

The WIP Diaries: The CONTORTION trilogy
Blog Tour and Blitz: THE GHOST OF GLENDALE
Romanticised Abuse // Posts So Far......
Blog Tour and Intl Giveaway: MY SWEET FRIEND
The WIP Diaries: JACKIE Aesthetics......
Romanticised Abuse: Rhysand and Feyre in ACOTAR
Female Film Reboots: Yay or Nay?


I loved writing all these posts. My favourite was probably the Female Film Reboots.

Reviews from this month

The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken
Molly's Game (film) - 2017
A Thousand Perfect Notes - C. G. Drews
Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian
Bring Me Back - B.A Paris
Batman Nightwalker - Marie Lu
Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi
The Astonishing Colour of After - Emily X.R. Pan
To Kill A Kingdom - Alexandra Christo


My favourite read was To Kill A Kingdom, and my least favourite was Bring Me Back, even though I actually read it way back in March ;)

Hiatus Announcement 

I'm going to take a blogging hiatus in June. I haven't had one since I've been blogging, and I feel like a break will do me good. Only it won't be quite a break - I'll be spending the time working on my WIP and hopefully writing a lot :) So I won't be posting, I won't be on social media much, and I probably won't get to blog hop either.

BUT. Be on the lookout because I have a surprise coming your way.....hint hint: did someone say giveaway?...........

Keep an eye out for a post on Sunday! 





Happy June! Did you have a good month? What's on your TBR? 

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

TO KILL A KINGDOM - by Alexandra Christo

TO KILL A KINGDOM - Alexandra Christo
Published: March 2018 - Fiewel and Friends.
Genres: Young adult / romance / fantasy / retelling
Pages: 342.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Fantasy violence.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever. The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I needed this book as soon as I heard "retelling" and "pirates". Considering that what was my most highly anticipated pirate book, Daughter of the Pirate King, ended up being disappointing and problematic, I was ready for something else. This book met my expectations full on.


Christo's writing grew on me. I don't love it, but for a debut I think it's above average. There is an unfortunate amount of info dumping in certain places throughout the story, but otherwise the writing is good. Christo's a strong writer. She also writes insanely brilliant dialogue - the perfect mix of wit, information, and character personality. And the banter is sublime.
The descriptions are spellbindingly lush. The story is so atmospheric, and every scene is chillingly and deliciously palpable. I particularly love all the underwater scenes because of how Christo brings them to life. They're vivid and creepy, and the final climax takes that above and beyond. The imagery is just captivating. 

The plot is exciting and entertaining, and the action is breathless and dark. The rich mythology coursing throughout the tale is also stunning. It really brings magic to the world Christo's created. Speaking of, the world building is amazing. The depth and the imagination, the fairy tale landscapes and cold waters and haunting seaside towns and brawling taverns all sweep you into their grasp. I love that the characters visit many different lands (islands) on their journey, because as the reader you get to experience a whole array of diverse, magical settings.

I do have some very minor issues re. the plot (they're basically just parts of the story I'd appreciate clarity on), and so I'm just gonna list them below. They're just small things I think the author should've taken the time to explain in the story.
 When Elian saves Lira and brings her on board his ship, she's naked. So he kindly gives her his shirt to wear. Now while that's all very well, his shirt would not have covered her completely, and considering she moved around a lot, surely she needed to be wearing something on the bottom half of her body as well?! What's up with that - couldn't they have given her pants too? Or if they did, why are we, the readers, never told? And if they didn't, why don't the other characters react to seeing *cough* *cough* what they would naturally see if she wasn't wearing pants?
 - Lira first plans to attack Elian when she sees him alone on his ship in the harbour. But considering that the chapter right before that (in Elian's pov) had him wandering around the library in the castle, a jump to him randomly showing up on his boat seems very sudden and coincidental.
 Lira and a mermaid fight over Elian in the water towards the start of the book. He's unconscious for most of it, but then he washes up on the sand and Lira makes a move to kill him (before she's scared away by his guards). Elian is conscious for this. Later, he saves Lira when she's been turned into a human, and he doesn't recognise her. Surely, even though she's human and not siren, he would've recognised her? She couldn't have looked that different.


His hand moves from beside mine, and I feel a sudden absence. And then it's on my cheek, cupping my face, thumb stroking my lip. It feels like the worst thing I've ever done and the best thing I could ever do and how strange that the two are suddenly the same.


The characters are a mix of lovable cinnamon rolls and adorable dark darlings. Basically, they're epic. Lira is a wonderfully fierce, vicious heroine who gets excellent development, and Elian is the perfectly swoony and dashing anti-prince.  The rest of his crew are an amazing bunch of people, too, and they're all well developed, strong personalities. I love them all so much. Even the Sea Witch, a deliciously dark villain, is the kind of character who brightens up every scene just because she's so creepy and vivid. I adore the scenes between her and Lira.

The relationships in this book are brilliantly written.  The romance between Lira and Elian is extremely slow-burn, but their banter is fantastic and the development of their relationship is so well paced. The friendships between Elian and his crew and the friendship between Lira and her cousin Kahlia are also amazing - I love how close Elian's crew is, how Kye and Elian have this gorgeous bromance, and how the banter between the group is so spot-on. There are so many good friendships in this story.




To Kill A Kingdom is the YA pirate fantasy we've been waiting for. Be prepared to be swept away into dark, chilling waters amid a cast of fantastic characters, swoony romance, and epic banter.  It's a swashbuckling, seductive adventure.  

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The WIP Diaries: Dark thriller trilogy...


This is another post in my WIP Diaries blog series where I talk about my writing and what I'm currently working on. Check out the previous posts here:

MONSTROUS: a short story
What I'm currently writing...
THE WOODS Saga
MORGANA series
The CONTORTION trilogy
JACKIE Aesthetics


Title: Not sure yet, but the series will be a trilogy.

Status: Brainstorming.

Genre: Thriller / contemporary







I went through a stage of rigorously working on these characters, but then other WIPs took over and I haven't thought much about it since. I do know that it'll revolve around two damaged detectives who work together to solve crimes in a small English town, while simultaneously battling their own demons, and it's a kind of Sherlock Holmes retelling that goes way darker. I love my characters though (even if I haven't decided on first names for them yet...... - Ellis, who's a battling alcoholic and lives with her single sister and niece, and Chase, new in town and running from something).

I look forward to digging into it again soon!





Are you writing anything at the moment? What's your WIP about? Do you like creating aesthetics? 

Monday, 28 May 2018

THE ASTONISHING COLOUR OF AFTER - Emily X. R. Pan

THE ASTONISHING COLOUR OF AFTER - Emily X. R. Pan.
Published: March - Orion Children's Books.
Genres: Young adult / romance / contemporary / magical realism
Pages: 480.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Strong themes of suicide and mental illness.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Leigh Chen Sanders is sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving only a scribbled note: 'I want you to remember'. Leigh doesn't know what it means, but when a red bird appears with a message, she finds herself travelling to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. Leigh is far away from home and far away from Axel, her best friend, who she stupidly kissed on the night her mother died - leaving her with a swell of guilt that she wasn't home, and a heavy heart, thinking she may have destroyed the one good thing left in her life. Overwhelmed by grief and the burden of fulfilling her mother's last wish, Leigh retreats into her art and into her memories, where colours collide and the rules of reality are broken. The only thing Leigh is certain about is that she must find out the truth. She must remember.


This book is beautiful inside and out. That cover is my new favourite thing. I mean, just look at it. It soothes my soul. It also feels incredible, so do yourself a favour and buy a physical copy.


Pan writes lyrically, and her style is stunning. It is purple prose, but the metaphors actually make sense and they slam into your chest with a shocking potency; they aren't just flowery words that sound nice together - they make sense.
I especially love the descriptions of food (specifically Taiwanese food). There is so much food amazingness in this story and I guarantee you your mouth will watering. Mine definitely was.

Another 'purple prose ' aspect to the writing is the colours Leigh continually assigns to emotion. But instead of the author throwing nonsensical colours at emotions, it's Leigh who admits to doing so herself because it's a 'game' she shares with her friend Axel. Lines like "Only the stiff mint green cold of being unable to process what was in front of me", don't really make sense, but it's a quirk Leigh has. It also helps that the story is in first person. It feels more natural; not like the author's trying to be overly creative. The colours-to-emotion quirk is Leigh's.
Does that paragraph even make sense?! I hope so!

The plot is slow - very slow - but what it lacks in physical action it makes up for in emotional depth and the complexity of the characters' relationships. It's a painful story - gut-wrenching - but it's also hopeful. We follow Leigh's painful journey as she comes to terms with her mother's suicide. It's thought-provoking and every scene has so much substance. There are also some great twists at the end of the book, and the story ends very satisfyingly.


“There's no point in wishing. We can't change anything about the past. We can only remember. We can only move forward.”


The characters are painfully human. They're all complex, vivid, and flawed. Leigh has so much pain inside of her, but her character development is excellent. She really grows over the course of the story, and she isn't the only one - her Dad and other family members do, too, and so does Axel.

I also love Leigh's relationships with the other characters. They are all extremely messy and complicated, but they're beautiful at the same time because they are so real. They're broken and hurting and fallible, but they're realistic. It's magnificent. Pan writes them brilliantly.

At first I was hesitate about the romance, but it did win me over. Usually when a book is so much about the protagonist's inner growth, a romance can come across like an unnecessary add-on, and I was worried that this book would fall into that trap.
But it doesn't. Leigh's relationship with Axel is a big part of who she is and where she comes from, and it makes sense within the story and what Leigh's going through.  It doesn't distract from her personal journey - it's a suitable part of it.  Sure, the book wouldn't fall apart without it, but it works.




The Astonishing Colour of After is a kaleidoscope of riveting emotion. Loss, love, grief, hope, hurt, all collide to deliver a deeply moving and well nuanced novel, slow and complicated and held together by a compelling cast of characters.