Review: ‘Running Away’ by Julie Hutchings

Running Away Final Cover

Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.

Running Away is the second book in one of the most unique vampire stories I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot). I interviewed Julie Hutchings after the release of the first book in the series; I asked her if Running Home was summed up by the phrase “wasabi and tears”. She said that was a better description of Running Away.

Having now read both, I have to say: hell yes. Wasabi and tears.

This book has the same lush — and often lucious — descriptions as the first book did, with a heavy emphasis on evocative scents and dark imagery. There’s a bit less of the snappy dialogue I loved from book one, but that’s mostly because Eliza spends a lot of time in this book trapped inside herself, both metaphorically and physically.

We meet some interesting new characters — I particularly liked Paolo and Kieran, although I could take or leave Blue. The Master was creepy; he’s traditional old-school Japan, and Eliza is brash modern American, so as you can imagine they get on like a house on fire. (With the exploding.) Also, I couldn’t help but imagine him looking a bit like the Master from the first season of Buffy. Eeew.

Running Away is the second book I’ve read recently that featured the Japanese deities Izanagi and Izanami. (The first was Endsinger by Jay Kristoff.) I really enjoyed seeing the different takes on the same mythology.

For me, the only downside to Running Away is that I felt the editing let Julie down a little in places. It wasn’t anything really major, just the occasional comma splice and so on, but still enough that I noticed.

Still, this was a solid four-star read (“I really liked it”), and I’ll be going back for the last book in the series when it comes out.

Four stars


An A to Z of young adult

Cassandra Page:

Today over at Aussie Owned and Read, I put together my very own A to Z of young adult fiction. Check it out! :)

Originally posted on Aussie Writers:

Here’s my A to Z of young adult. For some of the more popular letters (I’m not looking at you, X!), it was hard to choose only one option. Still, I’ve given it a red hot go. If you have other suggestions, why not leave them in the comments? :)

hunger gMWAAdaptations. Twilight, The Hunger Games, City of Bones — popular young adult series (serieses?) and stand alone books like The Fault in Our Stars are often turned into movies, admittedly with varying levels of success and sometimes to the great anguish of fans.

BFF. If she’s female, the BFF of the usually female main character is stereotypically confident, cheerful and quirky. She provides a foil and some normality for the main character as she goes through whatever it is she’s going through. (If he’s male, the BFF is usually in unrequited love with the main character…

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I Found My Green-Eyed Monster

I had a moment of personal clarity the other day.

I’ve often thought that I was pretty Zen about my position in the writing world. I don’t have an agent or a publishing contract with a big press, but I don’t lie awake at night comparing myself to others who do have those things. If I did, then I’d have to look no further for angst than Jay Kristoff, who I’ve known for more than a decade. He’s been very successful with his Lotus War trilogy, and was able to quit work to write fulltime (basically every writer’s dream ever) after he signed the contract for Illuminae. Another good friend of mine, Stacey Nash, has a three-book deal (yay!) with a Harper Collins digital imprint. (And one of her books came out a few days ago.)

The thing is, I’m genuinely happy for these people, both of whom are entirely deserving. I don’t even feel a twinge of jealousy — I actually find it inspirational. Back when I was at uni, I had a very dour lecturer who told all the wannabe writers in the room that, as Australians, we’d never ever be able to quit work to write fulltime (unless we wrote romance).

I’d like to be able to rub Jay’s success in her face. Maybe with a copy of Endsinger, which is 600 pages and rather heavy. ;)

But then I realised when I was chatting to someone a few days ago that there is one thing that I am really jealous about. If I dwell on it, it actually makes me a little depressed. It’s not the end result of the book deal and the agent that triggers this reaction me.

It’s the speed at which some people write.

Adventure Time Jealous

In this image, I am Jake (the dog), clinging to the wobbly back of the speeding Lady Rainicorn!

I’m a slow drafter, although I’m getting better. Isla’s Inheritance took over a year to draft; I was averaging maybe 2000 words a month and, because it was the first book I wrote, I was still feeling my way through the process. That means I wrote a couple of chapters that were ultimated scrapped (sob). With Isla’s Oath, I doubled my word goal, but it still took the better part of a year. With my most recent manuscripts, Melpomene’s Daughter and Lucid Dreaming, I set myself a goal of 2000 words a week and finished the first drafts in around seven months. These were also much cleaner drafts than my debut was, meaning there was less work to do in the editing stages.

Still, that’s just a first draft. Looking at all the reading and re-reading, and re-re-reading that happens during the editing process, it’s more like a year for me to produce something polished. And by comparison, Chuck Wendig – who is a fulltime writer – writes 2000 words a day.

When I see people who are releasing two or three books a year, the envy is strong in this one. I’ve got three books coming out in 2015, but that’s because Isla’s Inheritance and Isla’s Oath were done before I signed with TMP. I definitely won’t be maintaining the “several books a year” schedule after 2015.

It’s even more sobering when I see articles and posts by indie authors who talk about how you need to release at least two books a year to maintain momentum, keep your fans keen. I try to do the things “they” say, but this one’s beyond me. There’s not a lot I can do to write faster than I am now. I work thirty-five hours a week and I’m a single mother, which means the only times I get to write are after my son goes to bed, or occasionally on the weekend if I decide to let him have a “lazy day” in front of the TV or on the Wii. (I feel guilty when I do that, but a wise friend once told me that it’s important to let your kids see you pursue your goals.)

The other factor in my jealousy is that I have other book ideas I’d love to be working on. I went through my plot bunny notebook the other day, and there were ideas in there for four novels, two novellas (both for my Tammy Calder pen name) and a short story. One of the novel ideas is actually plotted out, down to character details; the rest are in the embryonic stage but could get there with a little bit of time and energy.

It should be said that I’m happy for others who are able to publish more than one book a year. Delighted. Being crazy jealous that they can do it doesn’t make me less pleased for them! And I know that the mere fact of having written a book — more than one — and then seeing it published it is a massive deal. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved to date and look forward to doing more of the same.

Thinking about it, I suppose jealousy can actually be a good thing. It’s a kick up the backside, a goad to action. And even though I’m not sure what else I can do to increase my productivity, it does at least keep me thinking about ideas to do so. It’s also an awesome spur to get my butt in the chair to write when I do have the opportunity.

So that’s my confession. I found my green-eyed monster: it was down the back of the couch this whole time!

Also, I realise this post is a bit of a ramble. It’s more me thinking aloud (well, on screen) than anything else. But I thought putting this out there might help other writers who feel the same way I do.

Some of you do feel this way, right?

Right, guys?

Adventure Time friends


Excerpt and giveaway: ‘Shh!’ by Stacey Nash

Shh_Stacey_Nash

Nineteen-year-old Olivia Dean has the perfect reputation, the perfect boyfriend, and an increasingly perfect CV. She has it all, until Christian breaks up with her in public, calling her out as a self-gratifying sexoholic: the kind that plays solo. But Olivia doesn’t masturbate all night — the only thing she does is sleep … right?

Now all the boys on campus seem to want her attention for the absolutely wrong reason — including resident hottie, Logan Hays. He’s pulling out his best moves to gain her attention, so resisting his sexy charm is hard work. With rapidly slipping grades, a disturbingly lurid reputation and demanding parents, Olivia must discover the truth behind her rumoured sleeping problem. If she doesn’t, the perfect life she’s worked so hard for may slip away, including the one person who has Olivia breaking all her rules — Logan.

What do you do when you’re asleep?

***

Shh! is a story about acceptance, learning to trust and in turn love while facing life’s unexpected difficulties.

NB: This book is of a mild heat level, and contains no explicit sex scenes.

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Excerpt

At five p.m I was starving. After just the muesli bar for breakfast, I’d skipped lunch to avoid a potential repeat of this morning, which meant my stomach had jumped into full riot mode. Nervous about facing my fellow students, I pulled my big girl panties up and marched myself to the dining hall. It was early, so I wasn’t all that brave, if I were being totally honest with myself. The place should have been near empty.

There were half a dozen people in the common room, watching some crappy reality television show. I scooted around the back of the seats and up into the dining hall. Dinner smelled delicious — burgers — if my senses served me right.

Twirling my meal card around my fingers, I strolled right up to the servery and stood in line. The girl in front of me turned and I tossed a confident smile her way. She smiled back. The line wasn’t moving yet as dinner hadn’t officially started, but people began flowing in, increasing the number of voices in the room. I swiped my clammy hands on my jeans. This was the first time in more than a year that I’d come down to dinner alone. Generally I came with Christian and being alone was a little daunting. It was all cool, though. Savvy should turn up soon, then I wouldn’t look like a loner. She never responded to this morning’s text and I hadn’t seen her since Saturday night, but that wasn’t uncommon if she’d hooked up with a guy. Especially with how busy I’d be this year. She knew my Sundays were reserved for study, so she didn’t usually bother me then, and today we’d been at classes. Still, it was a little weird. She could have at least called to chat about Christian, surely she knew like everyone else.

My tummy grumbled like a truck moving at high speed. I glanced at the clock; it read five-thirty p.m. The line started moving, thank the lord. I glanced over my shoulder, and surprisingly the line curled all the way around the edge of the hall. Everyone had to be famished tonight, not just me.

I kept my eyes to the front and walked through the servery where I built my own burger: meat, egg, tomato, beetroot, no lettuce, and a slathering of tomato sauce — perfect. As I emerged out the other side, my gaze slid over the line, looking for someone who might join me, and the weirdest thing happened. Not a soul met my gaze. It was like they all deliberately looked the other way, or were engrossed in such deep conversation that they didn’t see me.

I’d never had problems with friends. People just … well … they liked me. It had always been that way. I liked everyone, and they all liked me back.

My tummy churned for reasons not associated with hunger. What the heck had I done wrong? I walked over to one of the many empty tables and set my tray down, then flicked my phone out of my pocket and pretended to check my texts. Savvy had replied and I’d missed it.

Sorry I missed breakfast. Catch you at dinner.

A string of girls who I knew — we’d all been freshers together last year — walked right past me, talking softly as if they thought I couldn’t hear, but when people are talking about you, it’s not hard to tell. And those girls were most definitely doing just that. The glances my way every few seconds were a dead giveaway when everyone else in the room was deliberately avoiding my gaze.

I ducked my head, and studied my phone again. Whatever was going on, it was weird. I was the captain of Oxley’s hockey team, netball team, in the social committee, and even campaigning for the university’s student council. I had lots of friends.

Savannah’s giggle sounded like it came from somewhere behind me. Thank gosh. I really needed to talk to her and figure out what was happening. The whispers and stares, the fresher at uni this morning, Dane on Saturday night, sexploits — Oh my gosh. Christian. I glanced over my shoulder, raising my hand to call Savvy over, but my heart dropped into my stomach.

Savvy was attached to Dane’s hip. Her arm hung around his waist and his rested on her shoulders. Christian walked in step with them and the two guys wore massive grins. I hadn’t seen Christian that happy since … well, since I couldn’t remember. I suppose now that I thought about it, lately he’d been kind of cranky and tired. Always tired.

I swung back around in my seat, hoping they hadn’t seen me, and there someone had sat in the chair opposite me: the tool from this morning. He stared like I was some porn star he’d just paid to watch. And he smelled like a brewery; not to mention his eyes looked a little glassy.

Those same eyes locked on my mine and he placed his flattened palm on his chest like he was about to dive headfirst into a heartfelt apology. Which frankly, he owed me. His hand circled over his left pec, going for his heart, but then it moved to the other side and — ohmygod did he just tweak his nipple? My heart pounded a little faster and I glanced away. The entire dining hall looked at us. But he was like a train wreck. I couldn’t stop my gaze sliding back. His hand trailed down his chest and disappeared under the table in the general direction of his groin. He moaned, then his arm started moving slow at first and increasing in speed, all the while his dark eyes held my gaze. Then the crazy guy rolled his eyes back in his head and yelled, “Yes. Aaa—aa—ash. Yes!”

Someone clapped.

He arched his back. What in hell’s name was this freak doing? It was like that old nineties movie where the chick faked an orgasm in the middle of a café, except this was some dude in the centre of the Oxley College dining hall and I wasn’t entirely sure he was faking it.

Spent, he flopped in the seat, his arms hanging beside it, then snapped his head forward again and his face split in a stupid grin as he pushed his chair back, placed an arm across his waist, and freaking bowed.

Everyone laughed.

The whole room full of people thought this idiot was funny.

I couldn’t move. It was as if the air had frozen around me and I was a statue unable to even blink.

“My impersonation of the one and only Olivia Dean,” he shouted, loud enough for the whole room to hear.

Couldn’t the ground just open up and swallow me already? My cheeks burned so hot they should have caught fire. Blood rushed past my ears so loud that I couldn’t hear anything; my stomach lurched.

I was going to throw up.

I needed to get out of there, right now. Whatever held me in place snapped free. I shot to my feet and high-tailed it out of the dining hall, past a million staring faces. The common room was no more than fuzz at the edge of my periphery, Front Courtyard much the same. I cut across the back of block F and made a beeline for K, then darted up the stairs and into my room.

Whatever was going down, it looked like I was the centre of a joke I didn’t find funny or nice.

ShhTeaser

Giveaway

  • Signed paperback of Shh!
  • $10 Amazon Gift Card

Enter here!

About Stacey

Stacey Nash (3)Writing for the young and new adult market, Stacey’s books are all adventure filled stories with a lot of adventure, a good dose of danger, a smattering of romance, and plenty of KISSING! Hailing from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, she loves nothing more than immersing herself in the beauty and culture of the local area.

Author of the Collective Series; Forget Me Not and Remember Me. And Oxley College Saga; Shh! and Wait!

Author Links

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My Seven Favorite Bookish Heroines

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly list-making meme where we get to talk about my favourite thing: books! Today’s theme is “Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books”. Or, you know, seven. Because seven is a good number.

Menolly from The Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. The thing I like about Menolly is that her “superpower” isn’t having a dragon or being able to shoot lasers from her eyes (for the record, no one can do that in the Dragonriders series). It’s that she is able to write popular, catchy songs in a culture where music is the vehicle for passing on traditions. She’s basically a band geek.

The Hunger GamesKatniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It’s nice to see a heroine who doesn’t conform to all the stereotypes about likeability, but is largely likeable nonetheless. Although Katniss’s treatment of Peeta in the beginning isn’t exactly admirable, it is pragmatic for both of them, and there’s no doubt she grows to care for him.

Gaby from The Rephaim series by Paula Weston. Gaby manages to combine being sassy and fun with being broken, wracked with nightmares over the death of her beloved twin. She’s also struggling with a serious case of amnesia, all of which makes for a very complex character.

Tana from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Tana is another wonderfully complex character. She manages to be reckless and courageous, capable and caring, all at the same time. If I had to sum her up in one word, it’d be “conflicted”. She’s scarred, literally and psychologically, by events in her past.

Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. My favourite thing about Cinder is that she is a cyborg and a brilliant mechanic, and she manages to maintain her sense of self-worth despite her awful circumstances. I’m sure there are other female cyborg mechanics out there, but none that I’ve read about! I just loved it because it’s so far from the usual.

Yukiko from The Lotus War trilogy by Jay Kristoff. Yukiko is mature before her time; her father’s lotus addiction and her mother’s absence mean she’s had to grow up and be the responsible one in the family. When the mad emperor sets her father a seemingly impossible quest to capture a thunder tiger, she’s dragged along with him because, well, who else is going to do it?

And last but not least…

HermioneHermione from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Because duh. Hermione is “bookish” in all senses of the word. It’s so awesome to see a series where the studious, intelligent, empathetic female character is a role model for teenage girls and grownups alike. I wish these books had been around when I was a 12 year old.

Who are your bookish heroines?


Review: ‘Losing it: A Collection of V-Cards’ anthology — part two

Losing It

22 Bestselling YA authors reveal what went on behind the curtain in your favorite YA novels! From paranormal to contemporary, this collection features over 200 pages of ALL NEW CONTENT full of deleted scenes, extended endings, and more from the young adult series’ you love.

In this YA/NA crossover collection all of your favorite heroines are cashing in their VCards! YA just got steamy, sexy, and not afraid to go all the way!

Due to the graphic nature of some content, this collection is recommended strictly for mature readers.

Note: I was given a copy of this anthology in exchange for an honest review.

I reviewed the first eleven stories in this anthology here. My apologies to those authors I didn’t get to, but I didn’t just want to write a sweeping, generic review that didn’t touch on any specifics. And there are twenty-two of you!

Of Fire (A Dark Faerie Tale series) by Alexia Purdy. This is a fae fantasy — again, I expect you guessed that — and is also written from the man’s point of view, which I found captivating. The only thing that bothered me is when he thought about his lady love as being pure, untouched by another. Maybe some people like that, but it gives me an icky feeling, because it suggests that once you’ve had sex you’ve been tainted.

Our Someday (The Double Threat series) by Julie Prestsater. A contemporary tale, this story was sweet but the balance felt a little off. There was no lead-in to the two characters going to their hotel room, but then there was a lot of looking back and introspection, even immediately before they had sex. The scene afterwards was good, though.

The Ultimate Prize (The Elsker Saga) by S.T. Bende. I’ve read a book and novella set in ST Bende’s sweet new adult urban fantasy world. It features the Norse gods, especially the very hot god of winter, Ull. This scene is actually Kristia dreaming of seducing her traditionalist boyfriend, and of him losing control. I was as disappointed as she was when she woke up!

The Release of Rae (Ovialell series) by Tish Thawer. I looked this series up on Goodreads and saw that it’s an adult PNR series, which surprised me — I thought the books this anthology draws on were all YA (with some NA, like Elsker). Still, this story was magical — fae — and sweet rather than sizzling. It felt more YA than some of the YA-inspired stories!

A Valkyrie’s Song (The Runes series) by Ednah Walters. This UF/PNR had a decent introduction before the main event, which I’ve come to conclude from reading this anthology is my favourite kind of story. The encounter was magical, but I felt a little cheated by the memory loss at the end. That’s a personal thing — it feels like just about the meanest thing you can do to a character.

Fire Stone (The Cornerstone series) by Misty Provencher. The start of this story really, really reminded me of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, so I was hooked — far more by the setting and the events than by the sex, to be frank. Also, the prose was beautiful. I then spent ages reading reviews on Goodreads trying to find out more! Another for my TBR pile.

Selfish (The Waiting series) by Ginger Scott. A contemporary told from the point of view of a reformed jock with his quite timid new girlfriend, this is a really sweet look at a guy seeking to prove himself worthy of her. It’s not my usual genre but is very well done.

Sealing the Bond (Forged series) by A.O. Peart. This story is a paranormal with a fantasy vibe. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into this one — there was too much backstory, largely expressed through sometimes stilted dialogue. Your mileage may vary, though.

Rosaline’s Redemption (The Arotas series) by Amy Miles. Another paranormal romance (or maybe urban fantasy — given the context it’s hard to tell!), this story is told largely through flashback to a battle that feels medieval but may be set in the future. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, though. A combination of the setting and the encounter itself make this story stand out from the rest.

Adventures in Dating (Funeral Crashing Mysteries) by Milda Harris. This is a cute contemporary. I loved the narrator’s voice — at first I was a bit alarmed that things seemed to escalate from first kiss to touchdown in the space of one scene, but it all makes sense in the end. 

Wolf Passion (The Wolf Trilogy) by M.R. Polish. There is one last paranormal romance / urban fantasy to round out the set. The scene was sweet, but I was a bit shocked at how naive the leading lady was about certain things, especially as she is apparently at least eighteen (if the blurb for the first novel in the series is to be believed). Still, her surprise was kinda adorable, and I had a genuine laugh out loud moment.

Final thoughts

One thing I’ve come to realise in reading this anthology is that I’m not wild about sex scenes where magic enhances the experience in an intangible way. Fangs, claws and wings are fine because they are solid things that I can imagine, but bursts of tingling energy — on their own — don’t really do anything for me. That might be just me, though. :p

There’s definitely going to be something in this anthology for everyone who is interested in male/female pairings (sadly there were no LGBT encounters), regardless of your tastes in genre fiction. And it was a great way to discover new-to-me authors.

LosingItST

Four stars


My Top Ten Book-Related Problems

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme where you get to talk about books and make lists: two of my favourite things! This week’s theme is “Ten Book Related Problems I Have”. But I’ve listed five because I’m a rebel, me!

I am a book-buying addict.

This is the biggest problem in this post — to the point where, when I sat down to compile this list, I remembered there were two books I wanted to buy and opened up my favourite online bookstore almost by reflex. (The books are Fairest by Marissa Meyer and Ensnared by A. G. Howard, if you were wondering. And yes, I ordered them.)

Most of the subsequent points in this list extend from this single fact.

My TBR is two overflowing shelves deep.

And that’s not even considering what’s on my Kindle. I’ve got enough to-read books to last me a year, maybe two — easily a hundred, at least. BUT I CAN’T STOP BUYING THEM.

When I moved house, the removalist heckled me for the number of book boxes he needed to haul up a flight of stairs.

There were over thirty boxes. In my defence, two of them belonged to my son. He has over 100 picture books. (I admit I bought almost all of them for him, so maybe that isn’t as much of a defence.)

This problem could be mitigated if I actually occasionally gave books away. But I really struggle to do that. I’m getting better, though. I gave away two books from when I was a teen to a friend’s daughter, and about a dozen I bought and will never read to a charity shop. SEE? I’ve grown!

Books packed

I like owning all a series in the same format.

This used to go as far as me getting upset if one book in a series was a different edition than the rest. Now I try and limit it to paperback vs hardcover vs audiobook.

I know one person who will re-purchase an entire series in a new edition if they can’t get the last book they need in the previous one. So it could be worse. (Note: I probably would do that if I had the money…)

But I also like owning paper books.

As an example, I have listened to all of the available Iron Druid Chronicles audiobooks. Now I really want to own the paperbacks even though I’d probably never read them. But they are so pretty. And audiobooks feel so intangible — I can’t pat them. Not that I pat my paperback books.

Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I do!

What are your book-related confessions? Please tell me I’m not alone!


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