The Last Six Books I Got my Grubby Mitts On

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It’s been a while since I did a Top Ten Tuesday, and since the last one I’ve changed my blog’s colour scheme. So I decided to recolour the logo to suit. I hope that’s okay, Broke and Bookish folks!

Just a reminder of what this is — Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish blog hop where book nerds get to blog about books! In lists! It’s totally awesome. 🙂 This week’s theme is “Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession (bought, library, review copies)”. With one exception, I bought these books … because I have a credit card and poor impulse control. But I’m only listing six books, because I can’t remember which ones were seven through ten and I’d hate to mislead you, dear reader.

One: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Okay, this one’s a colouring book, not a novel, but the question wasn’t specific. I actually bought it for a friend’s birthday, and then discovered she’d just ordered herself a copy. (Why do people do that?!) So I decided to keep it for myself. I’ve been home sick this last week, and I’ve spent a lot of time colouring. Lots of fun!

The Secret Garden

Two: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The Book Depository sent me an email a few weeks ago, promoting some books they had on sale. I’ve been curious about this series, so I figured, why not? (I have a problem; I know!)

Throne of Glass

Three: Hit by Delilah S. Dawson

Bought it, read it, loved it. I also adore that cover. It’s a credit card with a very sensible piece of advice in the byline: “always read the fine print”.

Hit

Four & five: Atlanta Burns and Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

I think I bought these on the same order as Throne of Glass (and they weren’t on sale … shh). I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but based on the Wendig books I have read, I have no doubt that photographing them with a Tigger pillow is just about the most inappropriate combination ever. But I like the way he brings out the colours, so nyah!

Why do I own a Tigger pillow? It was a Christmas present from my then-four-year-old son.

Atlanta Burns Empyrian Sky Chuck Wendig

Six: Keir by Pippa Jay

The new copy of Keir is the one on the left; I already owned the one on the right. It was recently re-released with a new, even more gorgeous cover, and while I was chatting to Pippa on Twitter I expressed a little bit of cover envy. Her response was to send me a copy of the new edition as well. Isn’t she the best? (Seriously, go follow her. And if you like sci-fi romance, read her books too!)

Keir

So those are my six. Have you read/coloured any of them? And what’s the most recent book you acquired? Let me know in the comments!

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Ten Authors I’d Love to Have Dinner With

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Ten Authors I REALLY Want To Meet”. I debated whether to do this one or not, because I already did a top five on the same subject about a year ago. But I figured I’d do an expanded version. In my fantasy scenario, we’re all having dinner somewhere fabulous (where I don’t have to cook!).

In no particular order, Stacey Nash, Lauren K. McKellar and Kim Last. These three ladies are some of my fellow Aussie Owned and Read bloggers, and they’re always so ready to provide advice, cheers and a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold when required. They’re also all super talented, and the idea of being able to sit down with them and brainstorm plot ideas makes me giddy with delight.

J. K. Rowling. The world of Harry Potter is so clever and complex, and I’d love to engage with someone who can achieve such an epic level of world-building. Also, she was a single mother when she wrote it, and we could bond over that. We’d share parenting advice and give each other manicures or whatever it is that bonding single mothers do.

Stephen King. I’d probably be too terrified to talk to him, because — whatever you think of genre fiction in general and horror specifically — this man is a genius. (For the record, I love horror but am now scared of clowns. Seriously.) Maybe I could bask in his reflected glory. If I did speak, I’d have to be careful not to utter any adverbs.

Chuck Wendig. As well as being an excellent writer, he seems to be a stand up bloke, and I’d like to buy him a beer or something. He’s also funny. I like a man that can make me laugh and impart excellent writing advice at the same time.

Delilah S. Dawson. As well as writing kick-ass steampunk fantasy romance and a Southern gothic that will scare you witless. Delilah is funny too, and a geek. She’s such a geek she writes geekrotica, WHICH IS TOTALLY HOT YES I MAY HAVE READ IT SHUT UP! (The safe word is “wookiee”.)

Mercedes Lackey. Misty wrote one of my go-to favourite fantasy reads — the Last Herald-Mage trilogy is comfort food for my brain. I love some of her books more than others (I blogged about that during last week’s Top Ten Tuesday), but given she’s released over 100 novels, that is inevitable. I’d love to talk to her about her approach to writing — how she does it.

Honourable mentions

Unfortunately, unless I get a TARDIS, these folks are no longer available. 😦

Anne McCaffrey. Anne was my first writing love, and her Pern books are the first fantasy world I desperately wanted to live in.

Douglas Adams. Adams was not only a hilarious writer but a staunch conservationist and lover of science.

Who would you have to dinner?


Top Six Halloween Reads

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is my top books (or movies) to get you in the mood for Halloween. If you say so… *evil grin* My selection is mostly ghost stories, but there are other greeblies thrown in there for good measure. They’re listed in no particular order other than the one I thought of them in. And there are six rather than ten, because that’s how I roll. (Pretend it’s 100th of the beast, rounded down, if that helps get you in the mood to be spookified!)

(Note: While my own book, Isla’s Inheritance, opens with a Halloween party, I have valiantly resisted adding it to my list. I’m not that shameless. Not quite.)

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Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept thServants of the Stormrough Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real … including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey’s running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can’t see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly … and everything to do with Dovey herself.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

BlackbirdsMiriam Black knows when you will die.

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

 

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in BloodCas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Raven Boys“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

The Memory Game by Sharon Sant

The Memory Game‘If there is a hell, I think maybe this is it.’

Weeks after fifteen-year-old David is killed by a speeding driver, he’s still hanging around and he doesn’t know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his schooldays bullying.

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her.

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning…

 

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

DraculaCount Dracula sleeps in a lordly tomb in the vaults beneath his desolate castle, scarlet-fresh blood on his mocking, sensuous lips. He has been dead for centuries, and yet he may never die…

Here begins the story of an evil ages old and forever new. It is the story of those who feed a diabolic and insatiable craving into the veins of their victims, into the men and women from whose body they draw their only sustenance. This is Bram Stoker’s chilling classic, a novel of exquisite power and hypnotic fascination.

 

 

 

 

Pleasant dreams and happy reading!


Review: ‘The Cormorant’ by Chuck Wendig

The Cormorant

Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from “thief” to “killer”.

Hired by a wealthy businessman, she heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at, but in her vision she sees him die by another’s hand and on the wall written in blood is a message just for Miriam.

She’s expected…

The Cormorant is the third book in the Miriam Black series, and if you’ve read the first two you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into. If you haven’t, and you like sweary, gory, action-driven urban fantasy, it’s worth going back and starting with Blackbirds, if only because it gives you some context for the events in this book. (For example, although Miriam thinks about Louis a lot in The Cormorant, he doesn’t actually make an appearance—at least, not directly.)

This series is unusual in so many ways. For a start, it’s written in the third person present tense. As a style, it really seems to work for action-based books like The Hunger Games. And this. But I did have to switch mental gears, at least at first, to get into it.

The storytelling is gory enough to make any splatter film director proud. At the start of the series Miriam is already violent—she’s homeless and cursed, so who wouldn’t be? By The Cormorant, as the blurb indicates, she’s turned into a sometime murderer as well. Miriam is not a nice girl. She drinks, chain-smokes and has some of the worst language I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction. (There’s also sex. But that bothers me less than people spitting bloody wads of spit at each other. Because ew!)

In Miriam’s defence, though, she’s been screwed by the nastiest urban fantasy superpower yet: if she touches someone, skin-to-skin, she knows when they’re going to die. We’re not just talking about a polite letter from Fate, either; Miriam sees their death in full surround sound HD, with in-built stink and pain. Miriam doesn’t see death. She experiences it. Over and over again.

I’d swear too. Like a sailor.

She definitely qualifies for a kickass leading lady, though. She knows how to fight, and she’s not afraid to fight back—like a feral cat with a pocket knife and, sometimes, a gun. Or her teeth, or forehead, or elbow. I think she’d fight with her pinkie given half the chance and presented with a deserving target.

Over the course of the series, Miriam learns how to mess with fate to save lives, and the plot of The Cormorant is, in a nutshell, Fate getting angry and hitting back. I won’t go into any more detail than that, because spoilers. However, writing a book that involves visions of the future, some of which are largely immutable, presents certain challenges for an author: challenges that Wendig handles with skill. It’s a joy to read.

Also, the end of the book provides an interesting ray of hope for Miriam. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Five stars


Five authors I’d love to invite to dinner

I’m big on making lists at the moment (I’m writing this straight after scheduling a Top Ten Tuesday post), and after reading Chuck Wendig’s excellent post in the wake of the Santa Barbara shooting, I got to thinking about how, as well as being an excellent writer he seems to be a stand up bloke, and how I’d like to buy him a beer or something.

I don’t drink beer, but I can buy it for others.

So, in that vein, here’s my list of the five authors I’d have for dinner. As in invite over to my house, not eat. Or — more likely — take out to dinner at a nice restaurant somewhere, because I can’t cook that well and I wouldn’t want to shame myself. Or poison anyone.

I’m restricting myself to authors I’m not friends with, because otherwise this would be a much longer list. But probably a much wilder party! (Stacey, Lauren, I’m looking at you! 😉 )

Chuck Wendig. For the above reasons, and also because he’s funny. I like a man that can make me laugh and impart excellent writing advice at the same time.

J. K. Rowling. Because the world of Harry Potter is so clever and complex, and I’d love to engage with someone who can achieve such an epic level of world-building. Also because she was a single mother when she wrote it, and we could bond over that. Right? Right?

Stephen King. I’d probably be too terrified to talk to him, because — whatever you think of genre fiction in general and horror specifically — this man is a writing genius. (For the record, I love it but am now scared of clowns. Seriously.) But maybe I could bask in his reflected glory. If I did speak, I’d have to be careful not to utter any adverbs.

Delilah S. Dawson. As well as writing kick-ass steampunk fantasy romance, Delilah is funny and a geek. She’s such a geek she writes geekrotica, WHICH IS TOTALLY HOT YES I MAY HAVE READ IT SHUT UP! (The safe word is “wookiee”.)

Anne McCaffrey. Anne is my first writing love. We could have bubbly pie for dessert. Unfortunately, unless I get a TARDIS to organise this shindig, Anne is no longer available. 😦

I’d also like to add Richard Castle, but apparently he’s not real. *huffs*

Who would you invite to your very own author dinner?

He looks pretty lickable real to me.

He looks pretty lickable real to me.


Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Books

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Before I start, I just wanted to send a shout out to the lovely Amber A. Baradan, who tagged me for the writing process blog hop. Sadly, I already did it already, but you all should go visit her and shower her with love.

This week’s theme at The Broke and the Bookish is the ten most unique books I’ve read. This is hard, because there are so many books out there. Just because a book is unique to me, that doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens out there similar to it. I even considered skipping Top Ten Tuesday and posting something else. But I figured this is my blog and this is my list. These books are unique to me, and that will have to do. :p

Pivot PointPivot Point by Kasie West. This book’s main plot device is a girl whose talent is to see two alternate futures, based on a decision she is about to make. The ending took my breath away.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. I know I mentioned this book last week, but it’s Steampunk in feudal Japan, with fantasy creatures. It doesn’t get much more unique than that!

Dragoncharm by Graham Edwards. Set in a world with no humans, this book is the first in a trilogy where all the characters are dragons. I’m due to re-read it, now that I think about it!

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Alternate Earth fantasy with a BDSM twist (a little bit of kink!) and politics that would do Machiavelli proud.

Darkly Dreaming DexterDarkly Dreaming Dexter  by Jeff Lindsay. This is the first book in the series on which the TV show Dexter is based. Although Hannibal Lecter was the first serial killer I read about, he wasn’t the protagonist. Dexter, on the other hand, I could cheer for.

Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh by Katie Hamstead. Intrigue and romance in Ancient Egypt. I’ve read Egypt-like fantasy before (such as Joust by Mercedes Lackey) but not historical fiction.

Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey. This is the first book in a trilogy about Vanyel, the first and only homosexual fantasy protagonist I’ve come across. I love him to pieces.

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig. Miriam Black, the protagonist in this book, has a filthy mouth and robs the dead. But at least she doesn’t kill them first. This book’s not for the fainthearted.

The Memory GameHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling. I’m sure there are dozens — or hundreds — of immatators out there now, but Rowling’s rich world of magic and mystery in a wizard’s school is still the best.

The Memory Game by Sharon Sant. The protagonist in this book, David, dies just before the opening scene. The book deals with his experience as a ghost, haunting the weird girl from school. Heartbreaking stuff.

What would you say is the most unique book you’ve ever read?


My penmonkey evaluation

A couple of days ago on his blog, author and blogger extraordinaire Chuck Wendig posted what he called a penmonkey evaluation—a chance for writers to self-evaluate. I thought it was an interesting exercise so decided I’d do it here. If you decide to evaluate yourself too, please post your blog link in the comments. I’d love to see how others fare.

PenmonkeyWhat’s your greatest strength/skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

Definitely my editing skills. I still have the same problems with being able to impartially view my own work as everyone else, but I think I produce a fairly clean initial draft.

At least grammatically—I make no guarantees as to content!

What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

Transition scenes can die in a fire. I try to avoid them if I can, because I struggle with them so much.

How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

Three.

Isla’s Inheritance – scheduled for release with Turquoise Morning Press in around October 2014

Isla’s Oath – scheduled for release with Turquoise Morning Press in around January 2015

Lucid Dreaming – currently on the agent query world tour

Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

After considering all the wonderful advice I’ve received (minimise adverb use, avoid dialogue tags, etc), I couldn’t come up with just one thing I’d rate about the others.

Then I realised it was this, which I got from Mister Wendig himself.

“Just write.”

Writing your first novel is daunting. It’s a bit like mountain climbing solo, or at least what I imagine mountain climbing solo might be like. You have all these tools, and maybe some people to yell at you or inspire you, but you have to do the hard yards yourself. Each step can be torturous. There’s a risk of avalanches, and of being eaten by wolves.

But the feeling when you get to the top is ah-MAY-zing, and the next mountain you climb is just that little bit easier.

Even if you only manage to write 200 words in a session and it’s like squeezing blood from granite, that’s still another step forward.

Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

“The beginning is critical. If you don’t hook your reader, or that agent or editor, you’re screwed.”

This is not inherently bad advice. It’s actually very true. But where it tangled me up was when I was starting that mountain climb on my first book. I knew how critical the beginning was, and I felt from the start that mine had issues. I got so hung up on getting the beginning right that it took me a very long time—embarrassingly long—to move on with writing, you know, the rest of the book.

The reason this is bad advice is because I fixated on it at the wrong time: during drafting rather than editing. When you’re drafting, just draft.

One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

You can edit badly written words. You can’t edit a blank page.

Just write.

In other news, on Tuesday I was over at Marcy Peska’s blog, doing an interview about writing dialogue. Yes, I was talking about writing about talking.