Tag Archives: fantasy

Artemis by Andy Weir. Review. 

Thank you to the lovely people at Ebury publishing for my review copy of Artemis. 

Artemis is the new novel by Andy Weir, best known for his debut novel The Martian which became a film featuring Matt Damon. Artemis continues the space theme but this time it’s on the moon. Jazz lives on Artemis, the first town on the moon, and has done since she was 6 years old. The worst thing imaginable for her would be deportation back to her native Saudi Arabia with nothing but gravity sickness to look forward to. But despite this, she’s running the biggest smuggling operation on Artemis because it’s really important that Jazz gets a certain amount of money for a certain something she wants to buy. Unfortunately, she just can’t seem to help getting into trouble. 


This novel is seriously fast paced, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently but Artemis brought me right back out of it. There’s excitement, a particular form of dry humour that I love, and some kickass feminism thrown in. Andy Weir certainly shows his skill writing a first person narrative from the perspective of someone of the opposite sex. 


The character of Jazz and, in fact the whole novel in general is really engaging and captivating, I laughed a lot and it’s clear that a lot of research was done to make the Moon town as ‘realistic’ as possible. A real modern day adventure novel! I loved it! 

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Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. Review 

Eeeeesh! This was so good. I love Wonder Woman and also Greek mythology so obviously a book about the Amazon Wonder Woman was always going to be on my TBR. Anyway, I finally got round to reading it today after buying it in September and here is my review! 

Wonder Woman is such a powerful novel. It’s the first book I’ve read by Leigh Bardugo although I have all her other novels on my tbr. I was expecting in all honesty for the storyline to follow that of the film (I never read synopsis’) but it was a little different and equally as brilliant! 

Diana lives on the island of Themyscira with her Amazon sisters, desperate to prove herself as a true Amazon she intends to win the annual race, but things go awray when she disobeys one of the fundamental rules of the Amazons and rescues a girl from a shipwreck. Soon she embarks on an adventure which takes her to New York and into the World of Man.


An epic journey unfolds as Diana discovers that Alia is a warbringer, descended from Helen of Troy and destined to bring war and destruction to the world. That is if Diana can’t get her to a sacred spring where her Warbringer tendencies can be cured. But first she gets dragged into New York society, parties, drugstores and dirty motel rooms. 


I love how Diana is portrayed as both incredibly fierce and incredibly vulnerable. I love that the main characters are not just female but fiesty, kick ass females with great attitude. Nim was easily one of my favourite characters. And of course Diana is extra badass when she discovers her own abilities. 


This is the first novel I’ve truly been engrossed in, in a while! I almost missed my stop on the train! 

September 2017 wrap up! 

It’s that time again! Yay! I really love doing the wrap up and getting the chance to look back on what I’ve read this month, what I’ve enjoyed etc. This month I read 22 books at a total of 8,149 pages which is less books but more pages than usual so still a win. I’m very competitive with myself in terms of how many books I read each month, but I seem to be averaging at around 20-25 books a month which is really good. Anyway, to the books! I won’t write a long post about each as there’s just too many but reviews for pretty much all of them can be found on my blog or goodreads if you’d like to know more. 

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden  












Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine. Review. 

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine is the third book in the Great Library series. It follows on from Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire and you can read my review of Paper and Fire here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/paper-fire-by-rachel-caine-review/

I don’t know why I didn’t do a review of Ink and Bone but anyway, the following review will contain spoilers of the first two books! But none for Ash and Quill. 


Ash and Quill picks up where Paper and Fire left off. I thought it was the final book in a trilogy, however, there are actually going to be 5 books in this series! Yay! Book 3 sees Jess and company arriving in the burner capital Philadelphia after they were betrayed by Jess’ father and brother and transported there. 

This book is a lot more ‘political’ than the first two, we start to see what’s really going on outside the world of the library and how other people outside of the little group of rebels view it. The burners are an interesting if complex group and I’m unsure where it’s been left with them and whether Jess and co will be able to rely on them as friends or face them as foes in the rest of the series. 


What was great about it? – I love the relationship between Jess and Thomas, it’s a real friendship with love between them and I also love that Jess has found a family in his friends after his own have treated him so badly. 

What wasn’t so great? – I’m still not really feeling the relationship between Jess and Morgan. I don’t feel like there are any sparks between them or that I really ship them as a couple. I also found this book was at a much slower pace than the last two although still very interesting. 

I’m excited for what the next two books will bring and to finally find out what the library has been hiding from the world. I think it’s going to be a lot more than just the black archives and the gang are now playing a very dangerous game. 

Beren and Lúthien by JRR Tolkien. Review. 

I’m finding this review quite hard to write and had originally decided not to even do one. You see, like most people who love reading and particularly those who love high or epic fantasy, I have an admiration for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. But when a well meaning family member bought me The Simarillion I found that I just couldn’t get into it. The same for The Lost Tales etc. Basically when it comes to Tolkien I love only stories with Hobbits in them. 


Trying to read anything else about the history of Middle Earth, for me, is like forcing my way through Beowulf or Ivanhoe. It just becomes tedious, boring and I struggle to get into it. I don’t profess myself to be a reader of grand texts. I like a story I can get into it. And that’s why this review is hard. While I fully respect the work of art that is Beren and Lúthien I just didn’t really enjoy it. 


The beginning part of the novel is mostly a preface and notes from the editor; Christopher Tolkien. One thing I certainly did like was this section and the other explanations, extracts from letters etc which are spotted around in the different chapters. I also enjoyed the actual story of Beren and Lúthien because it was fairly short and easy to understand. But for the most part the book is mainly very long and boring poetry. That part I didn’t like so much. It was worth a read all in all but I can’t say I’ll be rushing to pick it back up again! 

September Author Interview – L.L McNeil 

This month I’m really excited to host not only a brilliant independent author but someone I feel I am lucky enough to now call a friend. 

Lauren is an independently published author who reached out to me back in the spring to ask me to read and review her debut novel Moroda. You can check out my review here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/moroda-by-l-l-mcneil-review/

Lauren has kindly agreed to do this month’s interview and I am very excited to host her! 

What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I’m a Copywriter and have worked in Marketing / Marketing Communications for quite a few years now! I’ve always loved writing, and as a child I was always making up stories! I always wanted to make a living from writing, which is what I do, but there’s something incredible about writing your own novels!

What are your ambitions for your writing? 

My previous ambition was just to get published! Next it’ll be to get the remaining books in the series out, but also to the same standard as book one, if not higher! Five novels to go…

But in truth, I’d like to be an author full time – to have my bills paid with my books. That’d be an epic achievement!
I’m really excited for the next books in the series! Which writers inspire you? 

Many of them! In particular, those who create complex characters, worlds that come to life, even created languages! Right now I have a lot of admiration for Leigh Bardugo and Patrick Rothfuss.
Writing fantasy requires a lot of imagination, particularly high or epic fantasy like Moroda. 

I really need to get into Leigh Bardugo! Where did the idea for Moroda come from? 

I came up with the original concept back when I was sixteen, so quite a while ago, now! I remember handwriting pages and pages of this idea, trying to get it down before I lost the thread of it. It combined a lot of things I enjoyed – dragons and quests, magic stones, a vast world. I remember very clearly seeing the university at Berel, and the ballroom scene in the palace of Taban Yul in particular. I even hand-drew a map of the world!

Moroda herself was actually the weakest character up until almost final draft. She was kind of dwarfed by all these strong side characters and I struggled to find the character and voice of Moroda until very, very late on. She was just kind of swept up in events and didn’t do much for herself – so I hope I’ve brought her back to be a more balanced character, with real motives and understandable behavior!


Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

I’m working on a spin off / collection of short stories which details some of the characters’ lives before the events of book one. These are very short reads, only about 10,000 words. The first one I’m working on is all about Amarah and how she became a sky pirate!

I’ve also written the first draft of book two in the series, which is called Palom. I’m currently working on editing that in the hopes of publishing it later this year.



So that’s due anytime now then! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

I use anything and everything to jot ideas down!! I’ve always got a notepad in my bag, a couple on my desk at work, and loads more floating around at home! It’s nice to be able to write down a bit of dialogue or description of a scene as and when ideas strike! I also keep one by my bed in case my dreams throw up anything worth exploring!

For actual writing I use my laptop and stick with Word. I often have many files of notes – so I have a whole document on the world of Linaria, another on various characters and their arcs, another on currency, another on things I’ve written that I’d like to keep for another book, etc. Plus all my outlining and plotting!



It all sounds very complex! Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write? 

I’m a fantasy fan through and through, so I can’t see myself writing another genre. I’m in awe of those who write thrillers and mystery. All that plotting and foreshadowing. It’s very complex!!


How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I try and set aside a couple of hours every night (although that’s gone out the window since publishing!) – I can typically write 2,000 words an hour, so once I’ve completed my plotting, I can sit down and churn out quite a lot. NaNo is very good for helping with accountability, too! 

I do need to get back into a routine, but often when you’ve been at work all day, the last thing you want to do is spend another few hours looking at a laptop screen!


What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I went for self-publishing, though it wasn’t my original plan. I wanted to go traditional, and purchased the Writers and Artists Yearbook, shortlisted agents I wanted to query, etc. But by the time I finished my manuscript, I’d had a change of heart.

I mentioned having a Marketing background, including many connections and colleagues. I could probably do a lot of the things a publisher would do, by myself. Plus I’d keep full creative control, and I could get it out there faster. If I was picked up by a publisher right now, it could be another eighteen months before the book went out on shelves.

There are also stories of wildly successful self-published authors who have later been picked up by a traditional publisher, so something like that could happen if my series takes off! You never know! 



From what I’ve seen so far Moroda is continuing to be very successful How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 

I’m quite active on Twitter and Facebook, so I’ve run a few ad campaigns there. I’ve also done some “author takeovers” and interviews like this one (many thanks again for the opportunity!). I’m part of a fantastic writing group called Garage Fiction who do a weekly podcast that I’m now involved with, which is awesome fun! 

I have an author website and blog which I post to at least weekly (including a series on my self-publishing journey and mistakes I made!), and I’m currently working on creating a book trailer. I’ve also commissioned an illustrator to create some beautiful artwork of the eight main characters from the book, which is awesome!

I approached people on Goodreads who typically read my genre and asked if they might like to receive a free copy for review, and I’ve also run a couple of Goodreads Giveaways, which has really helped with visibility and a few reviews have come from it. I’ll be exhibiting at some of the UK film/comic-cons, too!

It’s a constant learning curve. I don’t have an emailing list or newsletter (yet! I’m working on some added content for this), and a lot of my marketing efforts probably would have helped more if they were done before the book was released! But it helps to have this in place for when it comes to book two!

 
It sounds like you know what you’re doing! If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 


Oh gosh, that’s a tough one! So many! I’m in awe at the scope of A Game of Thrones, so I’d probably have to go with that one! Sorry for choosing the obvious!


What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 


Touch wood, I’ve not received a bad review yet!! I’m still expecting one/several; certainly, as I have critiques about the book and shortcomings I’m not happy with. Good reviews make me giddy and I often cry when I read them, haha!

I am hugely influenced by reviews. If someone I follow on Goodreads leaves a four or five star review for a book and I like the synopsis, I’ll immediately add it to my “to read” list. If that book is part of a series, I add the rest of the series without looking! I love paperbacks too, so tend to rush out and buy those!

I think on a site like Goodreads, reviews will help the success of an unknown book or author. Amazon supplements this, too. 

Overall, reviews are very good, I think – especially when you hit about 50+, so I’m always asking those who’ve read my book if they’d be kind enough to leave a review!

Thank you so much for joining me this month Lauren it’s been a pleasure to have you! 

If you want to see more from Lauren and get the latest updates to can visit the website and social media pages below! 

http://www.llmcneil.com 
https://twitter.com/LLMcNeilAuthor https://www.facebook.com/LaurenAuthor/  http://www.llmcneil.com/blog/  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16468949.L_L_McNeil https://www.amazon.co.uk/L.-L.-McNeil/e/B06VVFY3DC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 

 

Unpopular Opinions Booktag 

So I’m reading two books at the moment. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard and Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra. Which means I’ll not be able to review for a while as the great Don alone is over 1,000 pages. So I’m going to be doing a couple of book tags in the meantime! 

This is one I should have done ages ago but never got round to, I found it on http://www.booklovingnut.com which has a host of fantastic book tags which you should check out! It was originally created by https://readatmidnight.com/ and it’s all about Unpopular Opinions! 

1. A popular book you didn’t like. 

Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith 


Loved the show, hated the books. Genuinely some of the worst books I have ever read. Poorly written, terrible characters and well, just poor altogether! 

2. A book series that everyone hates but you love. 

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James 


I’m not going as far as to say everyone hates this book but I’ve heard a lot of bad things about it. I really enjoyed it and I like the series. Fair enough the first book is pure smut but the second and third start to bring together a storyline which is really interesting. 

3. A love triangle where the main character ends up with the person you didn’t want them to end up with. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 


Although Cathy’s heart always belonged to Heathcliffe I hate that she ended up married to Edgar. He was a sweet guy, I can’t speak ill of him, but Cathy and Heathcliffe should have been the couple! 

4. A popular genre you rarely reach for. 


Horror, I’m far too much of a scaredy cat! I’ve read a few but they scar me for days so I tend to avoid them! 

5. A popular character you didn’t like. 


Katniss Everdeen, I just find her a bit annoying. Also she treats her love interests like sh*t but they still love her. 

6. A popular author you can’t seem to get into. 


Saying that, I’m reading Glass Sword at the moment but I’m just really struggling to keep an interest in these books. 

7. A popular trope you’re tired of seeing. 

Lip biting. Seriously, who can bite their lip and look sexy? I’ve tried, I look like I’m attempting self cannabalism. Also who here bites their lip when they’re nervous/angry/scared? Nope, me neither. 

8. A popular series you have no interest in reading. 


The Discworld series by Terry Pritchett has just never appealed to me at all. 

9. The saying goes “the book is always better than the movie” but what movie do you prefer to the book?


I can’t think of a film but I’m enjoying the tv mini series of Cuckoo’s Calling much more than the book. 
I hope you enjoyed my unpopular opinions. Let me know what you think in the comments and have a go yourself if you haven’t already!