It’s complicated…

Wow, this British summer is lasting a while. A good thing too really, considering I currently have no heating in my house.

About a month ago I wrote a post about starting a new story, a fantasy one, and I had hoped to write about 10,000 words a week. By that calculation I should have over 40,000 now. Instead, I’m just off 20,000. I think I need NaNoWriMo for motivation. But the thing is, I just can’t get into this story yet, which is odd considering I’m taking elements and characters from a story I wrote several years back. Maybe that’s the reason why…?

I’m also a little uncertain about which historical era to set it in (though it’s a fantasy world, it needs a basis). I’m thinking perhaps 1860s? The American Civil War. I haven’t done that sort of thing before. I loved the setting of that TV show, Hell on Wheels, and it’s the time when technology was coming in, which could be interesting. In any case, at the moment I see it as a mix of:

One thing I know isn’t worrying me, is the plot. I am planning this novel as the first of a trilogy, and that means not only a lot of world-building (which is fun) but a lot of things that need to interconnect. I think Sarah J. Maas did that really well in Crown of Midnight, as did the Percy Jackson series. I have therefore created an Excel document that charts the characters, their arcs, their motivations, the plot, things that link, and things that will lead to book 2 and 3. It’s all pretty with colour coordination, and with it I can see where sub-plots need to be and which aspects of the story need to be where. I know this will get far more complicated as I go along, and after the first draft, but it’s a start. I got the idea mainly from author Marissa Meyer (Cinder) who did a blog post on her website about it (though hers was printed out).

I’ll just keep plodding along and reminding myself this is only the first draft. The final draft of VL is basically unrecognisable from the first draft. (I don’t know if that’s good motivation or not…?)

I’d love to hear how other people plan novels from the beginning. Is it just throw everything in? Plan every single chapter? Or is your method somewhere in between?

Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

Crown of Midnight Sarah J. Maas

Wow. I was really not expecting to like Crown of Midnight as much as I did. I had seen all these amazing 5 star reviews for it, but I still wasn’t convinced. I enjoyed the first in the series, Throne of Glass, but it wasn’t anything special. There were flaws in it that I’ve noted in my review for it here. Those flaws are non-existent in Crown of Midnight.

There was just so much more in this book. It didn’t have middle-book syndrome. It moved forward. The pacing was excellent. The characters grew, and I liked all of them, which I can’t really say about many books. Just… argh – I loved it.

If I had to say one problem, I think it would have to be that the plot and plot points were perhaps not all that original. Though I’m only thinking that now, after I’ve finished it. It was so beautifully written, with enough new elements, that I don’t really care anyway.

The reveal/cliffhanger at the end was not all that surprising. It was hinted at, quite strongly I think, in Throne of Glass. That being said, I was still grinning when I read the last few pages, and this was at 3am – I couldn’t put it down.

Seriously, if you like fantasy books, read Crown of Midnight. If you like YA books, read Crown of Midnight. It builds and expands on it’s predecessor, which pales against the awesomeness of this one. When does the sequel come out…?

By the way, this is the 100th book I’ve read this year. I’m going to have to ‘up’ my Goodreads aim…

The Bone Season

The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

There is so much hype surrounding this book, I was really excited to read it. Unfortunately, it disappointed. I had to force myself to sit down and finish it, and at over 400 pages, it was tough going, though to be fair it did improve by the end. I don’t really like writing bad reviews, but with this book being advertised everywhere as being amazing, I felt I should throw in my thoughts.

The Bone Season has been touted as a truly original story, but it really wasn’t. I can see similarities between this and several other YA books – Shadow and Bone, Divergent, etc. And they did it better. The story itself was simple enough but was somehow seriously overcomplicated. I really had to have my brain switched on to understand what was going on. Once I understood the mechanics of the world, I realised it was fairly simple but the way it was described made it difficult. This wasn’t helped when I didn’t know what the limits of the world was, magic-wise, as things such as a healing potion and magic blood were thrown in half-way through. Much of the world/dreamworld information was given by helpful characters throughout, and I would have preferred some of it to have been ‘show don’t tell’.

Paige, the protagonist, was all over the place. I did not know what she wanted half the time, and when I figured it out, she would suddenly act differently. She was also ridiculously stubborn; there was one point where she was poisoned by something that would not leave her system and that would cause her to lose her leg. But, because the antidote was in the hands of a guy she didn’t like, she refused to take it. You’re going to lose your leg, girl! Or how about when she was told not to go south, it’s dangerous, and so she does because it’s a chance to escape (she wants to escape, she doesn’t want to escape – I’m not sure). Then, half-way there, she suddenly remembers there’s a mine field that way and she is almost blown up.

To be fair, it did improve a lot by the end, which gives hope to the sequel. This is an ambitious debut novel which probably went through a lot of editing and tweaking so I can forgive some of the flaws. I won’t be holding my breath for the sequel but if I see it in the library I may pick it up as I hopefully the problems I had with it will be ironed out.

Thanks to Netgalley

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

These Broken Stars

Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

I think, like everyone else, I was drawn to this book because of the pretty cover. Sadly, with a digital early copy, you don’t get the cover.

I read this in one afternoon/evening. I couldn’t put it down. The basic premise is that Lilac, a rich girl, and Tarver, a soldier, are on a spaceship that crashes onto a seemingly deserted planet and they have to survive together, even though they dislike each other. The story is told via both points of views, and they are virtually the only characters in the whole book. This could have caused problems – boredom, not enough character development etc – but it really didn’t. I really liked both Lilac and Tarver, and their banter and chemistry. It didn’t seem forced, and you got to see it from both their perspectives. And I must admit, I quite like Tarver. I rarely, if ever, like like a guy character in books (aside from Will Herondale in Clockwork Angel – though not in the sequels), so that alone made this book stand out.

It was more of character driven story than a plot one – not that there wasn’t a plot. I read Meagan Spooner’s Skylark recently, and there were a lot of similarities though it didn’t bother me. There was a twist I did not see coming, and I’m a little conflicted over my feelings toward it. Warning: it gets a little creepy. In a LOST TV show sort of way. I wasn’t expecting it, so maybe that was one of the reasons I read it so fast…?

I really enjoyed These Broken Stars and am looking forward to the sequel.

Thanks to Netgalley.

Favourite reads so far – part 1

I’ve been rather lax on the reviews/posting front recently, so I’ll catch up by mentioning a few of my favourite reads of the 94(!) books I’ve read so far this year.

Dark Triumph Robin LaFevers

First, I just have to say how well this one matches with Grave Mercy, looks-wise. I love books that match. This one was darker than its predecessor, though not as dark as I was fearing from other reviews, and I particularly liked the protagonist, Sybella. The chemistry between her and the love interest was great, just as it was in the first book between Ismae and Duval. They’ve stood out to me as possibly the best I’ve read recently.

Percy Jackson series Rick Riordan

Yes, I finally got around to this series. I was trying not to, mainly because I didn’t want to revert back to reading children’s books, but I caved. And I can see what everyone was talking about. I loved them. There’s so much going on; tiny parts that link the books, clear characters, action (The Last Olympian felt like a film), strong motives… It just had everything. I can’t wait to read the next books, after my TBR pile has gone down.

Stormdancer Jay Kristoff

This one I’m actually conflicted about. I enjoyed it whilst I was reading it, it really got my heart pounding in places, and the settings were cool, but afterwards I realised it wasn’t really anything new. Like Blood Red Road (Moira Young), it reminded me of books I used to read when I was younger – the ones that aren’t just about the love interest and have lots going on. Though I did like it, I felt like I had seen most of it before.

James Bond series Ian Fleming

I think everyone has to read this series in their lifetime. I mean, it’s James Bond. Long story short, they were far better than I expected them to be (I suppose I’m ageist when it comes to books).

Have you read any of these? What did you think? What books have you been enjoying this year?

Is that the finish line I see…?

My aim for the end of July was to have VL ready to send off to agents. It’s now the 29th and I’m reading through it to write the synopsis. So far, I’m on track.

I’ve spent the last seven weeks simplifying the story (I overcomplicate so much it’s insane), and line editing. I love doing those latter edits – maybe I’d be an editor if I wasn’t a writer…? Anyway, with that all typed up I’m finally seeing an end in sight again. And it’s exciting!

In non-writing news, I’ve been really busy reading. I spent all of Saturday reading my CP (aka my sister)’s story and making notes. I have two ARCS from Netgalley to read (The Bone Season and These Broken Stars), and I’ve had so many library books recently that books I bought at the start of June haven’t been read yet. Link that with the sudden burning desire to write my fantasy story, and you can see it’s been rather hard to concentrate on VL.

But now, as the British heatwave that lasted a fortnight fades, the rain hammers against my windows and every so often lightening flashes through (my laptop is unplugged in case it fries it), I think I can see the finish line in sight.

Stacking the Shelves [5]

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Bought

Shades of Earth Beth Revis
This only just came out in the UK, so I finally get to finish this series. I’m half way through at the moment, and it’s so different to Across the Universe and A Million Suns, but still good so far.

From the library

Magic Study Maria V. Snyder
I’ve wanted to read the Poison Study series for a while, but my library only has books 2 and 3. I don’t think I’ve ever read a series/trilogy out of sequence before, but I’ll have to with this one. I’ve read Storm Glass, which I didn’t like, and started Touch of Power but gave up because I didn’t like it. For some reason, I think I’ll like this series more…?

Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken Oliver Bowden
I thought this would be a fun read. I like the games, and I wanted a kind of light action-y historical book.

Have you read any of these? What books did you get this week?

Stacking the Shelves [4]

I’m adding in last week’s books too, as I missed ‘Stacking the Shelves’ last weekend.

Bought

Through the Ever Night Veronica Rossi

From the Library

Wyrmeweald 3: The Bone Trail Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Perfect Scoundrels Ally Carter
Sever Lauren DeStefano
Octopussy Ian Fleming
Dr. No Ian Fleming
Thunderball Ian Fleming
The Man With The Golden Gun Ian Fleming

Netgalley

The Elite Kiera Cass

I’ve finished all of these books already, except for Through the Ever Night which I’m reading now. That’s two series I’ve finished, The Chemical Garden Trilogy and Wyrmeweald, and it’s always a good feeling. I didn’t really enjoy either of the middle books in those trilogies, but liked the last ones better. I’ve also finished reading all the James Bond books, which was one of my aims this year. They’re far better than I expected them to be. On a side note, the only copies of three of those Bond books at the library were large print. People must have thought I had terrible eyesight.

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Have you read any of these? What books did you get this week?

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

This cover was only released last night, and I love it. It’s going to match so well with Throne of Glass (click for my review). It’s interesting that they’ve decided to use the same image for the US cover as the UK one. I suppose it is far more exciting than the original US hardcover Throne of Glass.

I’ve pre-ordered my copy already.

Check out Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas on Goodreads.

“Waiting on Wednesday” is hosted by Breaking the Spine.