Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Shadow of the Fox blog tour – Julie Kagawa Q & A

Today I have a Q and A with Julie Kagawa to celebrate the release of Shadow of the Fox. The cover of this book is gorgeous and I can't wait to read it!

Writing insights

by Julie Kagawa

What is your writing process like?

I go into my office every morning and I try to write 1,000 words. That is my quota; 1,000 words a day. Sometimes they come easy and I'm done in a couple hours, sometimes it takes all afternoon and into the evening. But I don't consider myself finished for the day until I've written at least 1,000 words.

How do you know an idea for a book is the right one to pursue?

You just have to go with what you want to write. What speaks to you? What gets you excited? Don't worry that your idea might not be popular; write what works for you.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

In the words of a famous fish: just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Writing is a skill, one that you have to practice at to get better. Never stop writing, and remember, all writers started out the same: unpublished and unknown. The ones that made it are the ones that never stopped writing.

Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, that you've found useful?

Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is one of my favorite books on writing, as well as On Writing by Stephen King.

What is your favourite recent read?

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker. Think Pirates of the Caribbean with an all female cast. It was pretty aweseme. 

Thank you so much Julie! I love getting insights into the writing process and I'm excited to read Shadow of the Fox.

Check out this banner to follow the other stops on the blog tour.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan – review and giveaway

Charlie hopes that the school ski trip will be the escape from his unhappy home life he so desperately needs. But there is something wrong with the remote ski village of Kaldgellan. Something is out there, something ancient and evil, among the pines and the deep untracked drifts, watching and waiting. And when the storms blow in, Charlie and his schoolmates wake to find the resort deserted. Cut off from the rest of the world far below, as night falls the few left alive on the snowbound mountain will wish they were somewhere, anywhere else. Only ski guide Hanna seems to know of Kaldgellan’s long-buried secrets, but whether Charlie can trust her is another question…

Whiteout is part of the fantastic Red Eye series from Stripes and is one of my favourite titles so far. It ranges from unsettling to downright terrifying and somehow has an old-school feel at the same time as being like nothing I've read before.

I can tell Gabriel Dylan is a massive horror fan (partially because I featured a post from him about his favourite movies for Halloween.) This story has all of the ingredients of a classic horror story, from the remote setting with no way out to the frightening threat waiting to pick off the main characters. It also has a fresh feel that meant I had no idea what was going to happen next, or who was going to make it to the end...

I'm a huge fan of mythology and backstory underpinning a book, and Whiteout handled this really well. Details about the world and characters are seeded through the story without it becoming overpowering.

Whiteout strikes the right balance between shocking scares, building unease and quieter moments to get to know the characters. It also has one of the most intriguing endings that I've read for a very long time!

I also really liked the main character, Charlie. It feels like you get to know him as the book progresses and he isn't one of those horror character who sits back and lets the beasties get them.

This is the best horror book I've read for ages, YA and otherwise. I can't wait to see what Gabriel Dylan writes next and I'm going to catch up on the few Red Eye titles that I've missed while I wait.

Thanks so much to Stripes Publishing for the Netgalley approval and for the gorgeous finished copy!

The lovely people at Stripes have given me an extra copy of Whiteout to give away. Head over to my pinned tweet on Twitter (@yaundermyskin) to find out how you can enter.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman – review

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a war zone of desperation; neighbours and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

I love Neal Shusterman's writing, as his books always contain believable worlds and compelling characterisation. I think this is my favourite yet because it's terrifyingly believable and the characters are well-developed. 

The way society deteriorates so quickly in Dry struck me as frighteningly realistic. The book makes the reader feel very close to the main characters' actions and reactions, as well as capturing what's happening in the world at large. There are some unsettling parallels to the tragic fires affecting California and that brings home how topical this book really is.

There are a lot of characters to focus on in this book and each of them is developed really well. I liked trying to work out if we knew everything about a character and watching them grow and adapt as the story progressed.

A really effective device is the use of snippets of storyline about characters who aren't in the central group. It allows interesting insights into the wider world and it's fun trying to work out how these snapshots will impact on the main plot.

Dry is a gripping, almost unbearably tense book that made me think a lot about what we can do to be kinder to the planet. I hope there'll be more books in this series, but in the meantime I'll read Thunderhead, the sequel to Scythe.

Thank you so much Walker Books for the review copy!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

They called us the Mercies, or sometimes the Boneless Mercies. They said we were shadows, ghosts, and if you touched our skin we dissolved into smoke ...

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are Boneless Mercies – death-traders, hired to kill quickly, quietly and mercifully. It is a job for women, and women only. Men will not do this sad, dark work.
Frey has no family, no home, no fortune, and yet her blood sings a song of glory. So when she hears of a monster slaughtering men, women, and children in a northern jarldom, she decides this the Mercies’ one chance to change their fate.

But glory comes at a price…

Everything about this book appealed to me, from the premise and blurb to the cover. The Boneless Mercies is the perfect read for this dark and spooky season and one that I'd reread at any time.

I love an ensemble cast done well and the girls won me over immediately. Each were distinct, with their own rich characteristics and back stories, and I enjoyed their interactions as well. Frey is an interesting, multi-faceted main character with strength and agency. I'm hoping for a sequel to see what she does next!

The mythology and world-building in this book are exceptional. There is a timeless quality to the writing that suited the fantastical subject matter and I'd happily read a whole book of myths from the world of the Boneless Mercies.

I was a huge fan of Slasher Girls and Monster Boys (edited and featuring a story by April Genevieve Tucholke). April's writing is creative, unique and delightfully dark. I adored The Boneless Mercies and I'm excited to see what April writes next. 

Thank you so much Simon & Schuster for the book.