Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy 2014!

Just a quick update to round off 2013! I'm spending New Year with the boyfriend and family and I've been absolutely swamped recently, so I've not been as active on social media or up to date with commenting on blogs (I'm thinking I'll have to spend the rest of January catching up with everything...). But I had a great interview over at Tangled Up In Words, in which I talk about the inspiration for the Darkworld series; New Adult fiction; my experience working with a small press; and writing novels while studying at university!

I'll be updating with my writing goals in a few days. Hope everyone has a great new year! :)

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Review - A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)

Goodreads description: With A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth volume of the landmark series that has redefined imaginative fiction and stands as a modern masterpiece in the making.

After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.

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After the jaw-dropping A Storm of Swords, it was always going to be tough for George R. R. Martin to beat the third instalment of his epic fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire. The project is so vast that Martin chose to split the action geographically, meaning that we only get the viewpoints of the characters around King’s Landing and the mainland during A Feast for Crows. These include Arya and Sansa Stark, who are now living under different identities. Sansa is masquerading as Petyr’s daughter Alayne at the Eyrie, where Lady Lysa fell to her death in the previous book, whilst Arya moves from one location and identity to another. Meanwhile Samwell Tarly travels to his family’s home to face a past he’d rather forget. Plans abound as various individuals plot to seize power, and rumours of dragons come in from the sea.

A Feast for Crows is as well-written and gripping as the previous books, but due to the constant switching perspectives to minor characters, I found myself getting frustrated that none of the cliffhangers left at the end of the previous book were answered. It was interesting to get Cersei’s perspective, however, I suspect that was due to Martin’s technique of allowing you to get to know a character, then springing their inevitable fall from grace on us. As before, there’s plenty of political intrigue, warring families, murder and betrayal, and shocking fates for characters we have come to like (though less so than in A Storm of Swords!). The complexity of the tale deepens, and the anticipation of what’s to come helped my impatience with some of the slower parts. I’m looking forward to revisiting some of my favourite characters in A Dance with Dragons!

Rating: ****

Saturday, 21 December 2013

#WIPMarathon Check-In #3

Last check-in word count + chapter count:  At last check-in, I was at 12,000 words of the YA post-apocalyptic fantasy WIP.

Current WC + CC: Now I'm at over 20,000 words, so over 1/4 of the way through the draft (if it runs to 70-80K, as I hope it will). That's around 1000 words per day - ideally I'd like to have more, but it's been quite a busy week!

But I've been inspired to experiment with different ideas, too. Perhaps because I'm not going to have much time to write over Christmas and New Year, I'm trying to make up for lost time in advance! I downloaded a few free books of fairy tales and legends for my Kindle, which has fired up my imagination. As well as two ideas for fairy tale retellings, I got a creepy, totally unrelated idea for a horror story and decided to see what I could do with it. I ended up with a rough draft of around 2700 words, not bad for a couple of days' work!

WIP issues this week: Entering the Evil Middle of the hasn't been too bad so far, but it's at this point where I feel like I'm trying to juggle everything at once - all the different characters and sub-plots and events fly around in different directions and try to run away from my outline. I'm doing my best to keep them all under control!

What I learned this week in writing: Trying out different writing forms mid-project can help me come up with great ideas for future WIP's! It started when I got an idea for a short horror story - and for the first time in years, I decided to let this sinister little plotbunny have its fun. *muahahaha*

What distracted me this week when writing: Christmas. Card-writing and present-wrapping and trying not to get trampled by last-minute gift-buyers. And next week might be even more distracting - in fact, I'm not 100% sure I'll be able to update next week, as I'm going to be spending a few days with my boyfriend and his family for New Year's, and I'm not sure I'll have the time/internet connection to update!

Last 200 words: Hmm...I don't want things to get spoilery, but I'll pick another random section from the WIP:

But I’ve overlooked its companion. The second fiend screeches at me, its breath harsh on my face, like heat from a furnace. Its punch catches me full in the face, knocking me back into the wall.
It’s like being caught in another energy blast. A ringing erupts in my ears. Plaster cracks behind my back, bricks crumble, pieces of the ceiling fall down. My sight darkens. Everything’s numb.
The punch should have turned my face into a pulverised mass of muscle and bone. I should be dead. But I’m still here, still conscious, still hanging onto something – whatever that is.
I wait for death or for my ears to stop ringing, whichever comes first.
Pain kicks in, shooting through my entire body, but it’s like a life-giving breath. I gasp, my eyes flickering open. I’m lying in a bed of plaster and brick dust, but I’m not dead, and the fiends have turned their backs on me.
Two figures stand outside the wrecked window. My vision’s still slightly blurred, but I can see they’re wearing long, red coats with the hoods pulled down over their faces. If they’re speaking, I can’t hear a word over the roaring in my ears. 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Emma's Top Urban Fantasy and Paranormal/Horror Reads 2013

This is probably the genre I read the most (possibly a sign I should branch out next year! :P), and when I tried to pick ten favourites, I found it impossible. So I've linked to the reviews of some of my favourites instead! Click on each book cover to find my review. :)

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys is unlike any other paranormal book I've read, and that's no mean feat! I also read the second book in the Raven Cycle, The Dream Thieves - keep an eye out for my review in 2014!

Another unique read is Laini Taylor's fabulous Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Set partially in Prague, partially in a vividly imagined alternative world, it offers a totally new view of angels and demons!


If you like your fantasy worlds immersive, definitely check out Splintered by A.G.Howard, a, eloquent retelling of Alice in Wonderland unlike any other I've read!

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)Speaking of beautiful writing, Ink is not only well-written, it also features stunning illustrations! It's set in Japan and has a unique mythological backdrop.

The Night Itself (The Name of the Blade, #1)Another fantastic book which draws on Japanese mythology  is The Night Itself by Zoe Marriott - keep an eye out for my review coming next year!
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)

Whilst I started reading some excellent series this year, one of the books I most looked forward to was the conclusion to Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy. Clockwork Princess certainly didn't disappoint!

The Archived (The Archived, #1)One of my favourite books with a brilliant concept is Victoria Schwab's The Archived, in which the dead are shelved like books. Amazing writing!
Don't Fear the Reaper (Netherworld, #1)

Another book with a unique perspective on the afterlife is Michelle Muto's poignant Don't Fear the Reaper. Michelle is a brilliantly talented indie author whose chilling ghost story, The Haunting Season, is an Amazon bestseller - with good reason!
The Haunting Season

Finally, I discovered two series this year I'd been missing out on - the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, and the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. I read both in only a few days, and loved them!

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2)Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3)Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5)Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, #6)

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers, #2)My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers, #3)My Soul to Steal (Soul Screamers, #4)If I Die (Soul Screamers, #5)Before I Wake (Soul Screamers, #6)With All My Soul (Soul Screamers, #7)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Emma's Top Fantasy Reads 2013

Here's my second 'Top Books of 2013' post! My goal for next year is to read more high fantasy! I've discovered some great books this year but I know there are lots more out there.

Touch of Power (Avry of Kazan, #1)Scent of Magic (Healer, #2)The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)
One of my favourite new authors I've discovered this year is Maria V. Snyder, whose Healer trilogy I recently reviewed. I also read her Study trilogy whilst I was on holiday in Italy. Maria specialises in fast-paced action, betrayals and kidnappings and unique magic systems!

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)I also started the Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson, which I thought was absolutely fantastic. I'll be reviewing this one soon!

Another new favourite series is the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It's unlike any other YA fantasy I've read, and the world-building is simply amazing. My review of Siege and Storm is coming in 2014!

I mentioned the fantastic Vampire Academy series in my last post, but when I saw that Richelle Mead was writing a new futuristic fantasy series, I had to give it a go. Gameboard of the Gods is a strong start to the new series!
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, #1)
Speaking of series, I became a new fan of Sarah J. Maas's epic Throne of Glass, and loved the second book, Crown of Midnight, even more!

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) I've not had the chance to review all of Zoe Marriott's books, but I'm pulling together a review of her new urban fantasy novel, The Night Itself. She writes diverse and immersive fantasy worlds, and I highly recommend checking these out!

The Swan KingdomShadows on the MoonDaughter of the Flames (Ruan, #1)FrostFire (Ruan, #2)

And last but not least, I started 2013 reading George R. R. Martin's amazing Song of Ice and Fire series (and joined the hordes of impatient fans waiting for the next book!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire #3, Part 1 of 2)A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold (A Song of Ice and Fire #3, Part 2 of 2)A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)
A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

What's Up Wednesday #20

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow and is a great way for readers and writers to catch up!

What I'm reading

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)
This week I got to read The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead, which I've been looking forward to! If you're a Sydrian fan, you'll love it!

Also, I finally read The 5th Wave. It. Is. Epic. One of the most gripping books I've read in ages! I actually had to leave my Kindle on the other side of my room to stop myself reading it in one go when I was supposed to be sleeping. :P Seriously, it's that good.

What I'm writing

I'm still working on my new post-apocalyptic WIP. :) And *gasp* I still like it. Even with the dreaded Middle of the Draft just around the corner...

What else I've been up to

Finding ways to distract myself from checking my inbox. Most of which involved emailing that kind of failed... 

I've been setting up some awesome promo stuff for Darkness Watching in the new year. If anyone wants to help me out by sharing my book, sign-ups for the book blitz/giveaway in January are here! :)

Other than that, I've been watching anime and playing on my 2DS. :)

What inspires me right now

Nice feedback on my writing.  I mentioned in my #WIPMarathon update already, but being told my book was ready to query agents with was a real confidence-booster! 

I still get a thrill whenever someone compliments my writing. It's ridiculous, but even though it's been almost a year since I published my first book, I still feel like a fraud sometimes. I know having an agent isn't the be-all and end-all, and to be honest, it's the five-star reviews from readers that matter more than validation. But I was scared to death to start querying again, all the same. It's been a year since I was last in the trenches and I purposefully focused on small presses when I was sending Darkness Watching out because I knew it was in a category agents were having difficulty selling. I'm glad I made that decision, but now its a bit intimidating going back into the trenches with a totally different book. Like stepping back to square one, I guess! 

But nothing's predictable in this business. Nothing to do but write the best books I possibly can and enjoy the ride. :)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Review - Ashes to Ashes by Karina Halle

Book & Author details:

Ashes to Ashes by Karina Halle
(Experiment in Terror #8)
Publication date: December 11th 2013
Genres: Horror, New Adult, Supernatural

It’s been two months since Perry Palomino and Dex Foray’s relationship reached a new turning point, two months since Perry started a new life in Seattle, and two months since their Experiment in Terror show took on a new partner, ex-Wine Babe Rebecca Sims, and found a new level of success. But whenever there is light in their lives, the madness still has a way of coming back in.

When the team is sent back to the stormy Oregon coast to investigate a haunted school, Perry wants to use the opportunity to reconnect with her family and reintroduce Dex into their lives. Only Perry’s not the only one who’s reaching out – her grandmother Pippa has started appearing to her with disturbing warnings and Perry’s presence at the school has ignited a chilling new wave of supernatural phenomenon. Once used a century ago as a sanatorium to house children dying of tuberculosis, the school’s past residents are slowly coming back to life and with one thing on their mind. They want someone to play with, someone to join them. Forever.

Even when dead, some children get whatever they want.

And they want Perry.



The daughter of a Norwegian Viking and a Finnish Moomin, Karina Halle grew up in Vancouver, Canada with trolls and eternal darkness on the brain. This soon turned into a love of all things that go bump in the night and a rather sadistic appreciation for freaking people out. Like many of the flawed characters she writes, Karina never knew where to find herself and has dabbled in acting, make-up artistry, film production, screenwriting, photography, travel writing and music journalism. She eventually found herself in the pages of the very novels she wrote (if only she had looked there to begin with).

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she's preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiance and rescue pup.

Author Links:

This is my stop on the tour run by Xpresso Books - thank you to Giselle, and to Karina Halle, for giving me the opportunity to review this book! I absolutely love this series, so I was thrilled to get a spot on the blog tour.

The eighth book in the series returns to Perry’s perspective as she and Dex take the Experiment in Terror show to a haunted school, formerly a sanatorium. Creepy child ghosts and sinister apparitions make this a nail-biting read! Perry and Dex have to be one of the most entertaining fictional couples ever, and I think what makes them so fun to read about is the way that their characters and their relationship develop with each book, rather than stagnating. They’re three-dimensional, complex characters, and balance each other perfectly. They face challenges but they face them together.

Again, Ashes to Ashes blends romance with the supernatural in an entertaining tale. There are humorous moments, sizzling romantic encounters, and scenes steeped in spine-chilling terror. A certain scene in a morgue…yeek! There’s emotional tension as well as sinister suspense, and of course some hilarious one-liners courtesy of Dex.

This is a horror series with emotional depth, romance and great characters. The series is building towards what promises to be a thrilling final book – and with an ending like that, I’ll be first in line to get Book 9!

Rating: *****

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Monday, 16 December 2013

Emma's Top Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic and Sci-Fi Reads 2013

So, I wanted to write a 'Top 10 books of 2013' post...but as you know, I've read a LOT of books this year! Because it's impossible for me to narrow my favourites list to only 10 or 20 books, I've decided to split it by genre. So, today I'm looking at sci-fi, dystopian, and post-apocalyptic books! (please ignore the weird formatting. Blogger's decided not to play nice, and it's beyond my technological prowess to figure out why I can't just put the book cover images where I want them to go...)

The Blemished (Blemished #1)Shudder (Stitch Trilogy #2)
I suffered from dystopian burn-out a bit this year, but still discovered some fantastic new series. 
Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, #1)

Near the start of the year I reviewed The Blemished, the first in talented indie author Sarah Dalton's trilogy. I'll have to pick up the other two books at some point soon!

Another fantastic indie author I discovered this year is Samantha Durante, whose Stitch trilogy is a unique combination of dystopian and paranormal elements!
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy, #1)Susan Kaye Quinn imagines a fascinating version of the future in Open Minds, first in the Mindjacker trilogy - a future where mind-reading is normality!

Obsidian (Lux, #1)
World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)

All Our YesterdaysTwo more dystopian series which do something different are Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking (I plan to buy the other two books in the trilogy soon!) and Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

In the realm of sci-fi, by far my favourite book has to be All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill - possibly the best time travel YA book I've read!

I also discovered the sci-fi romance novels of Jennifer L. Armentrout, an author I especially admire for publishing an insane amount of novels in a short space of time - and said novels being completely addictive!

And finally, I absolutely loved World After, the sequel to Angelfall. Seriously - of all these books, it's the one I'd definitely say, 'Buy it now!'.