“My best guess, You Majesty, is that it’s breakfast, but I can’t be sure until we taste it.” // Review of Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

Title: Seeing Redd (Looking Glass Wars #2)
Author: Frank Beddor
Audio Book Narrator: Gerard Doyle
Genre: YA/fantasy(/steampunk?)
Date Read: 30/05/2016 – 02/06/2016
Rating: ★★★

seeingreddcoverThis series continues to be nothing especially mind-blowing, but still a great deal of fun. However, I felt this installment had a little too much focus on the villains and not enough on Alyss and her court.

Alyss is barely back on the throne of Wonderland when attacks at border outposts start happening at alarming speed. Alyss is distrustful of the King of the neighbouring country, King Arch, but cannot pin anything on him directly, and if the Caterpillars’ visions are anything to go by, Redd is back in Wonderland.

There was a lot of time spent on Redd and King Arch, and I have to admit, they are both somewhat cartoonish in their villainy (especially in the audio book, where the voices used by Gerard Doyle really emphasise this). Having said that, Alyss and her team weren’t really doing much. A lot of their time was spent observing various attacks from a security centre within the Palace, and Alyss then trying to use her Imagination to remotely assist where possible. There were some cute moments between Alyss and Dodge; their relationship is definitely a romance now, but it’s not an all-consuming passion like so many YA romances are. It’s sweet and unassuming and doesn’t overpower the main plot.

Hatter Madigan and Homberg Molly both end up in Borderland, and we do learn some interesting things about Hatter’s past, some of which I had predicted in the previous book, but we got more detail than my theories went into. A lot of the action sequences were thanks to events in Borderland, and I continued to enjoy learning about the various weapons of the Millinery. There was one fairly major character death and it bothered me that it happened, even though I saw it coming a mile away. It would have been nice for an author to not take that route for once.

The world-building continues to be one of the highlights of the series, though not much is really added to in this book. We did learn more about the Caterpillars, though, which was fun. Thanks to Gerard Doyle, I can’t help but imagine them as the Beatles, though, because he voices them with Liverpudlian accents.

There is some good setup for an epic showdown in the third book, and I must admit that I am looking forward to seeing exactly what alliances form in that one and how the various characters deal with the fallout from the ending of this one.

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“I’ve finished running from you, Redd. It’s time for you to run.” // Review of “The Looking Glass Wars” by Frank Beddor

Title: The Looking Glass Wars (Looking Glass Wars #1)
Author: Frank Beddor
Audio Book Narrator: Gerard Doyle
Genre: YA/fantasy(/steampunk?)
Date Read: 25/05/2016 – 26/05/2016
Rating: ★★★


lookingglasswarscoverFinally, an Alice in Wonderland-inspired book that I actually liked! Not that I’ve read an awful lot of them, and not that I thought this was the greatest thing ever, but when the last ones I read was Splintered, well. Oh, and there was also another one that I tried to read but I rage-quit it at 17% but I can’t remember what it was called. Anyway, my point is that it was nice to find an adaptation that had enough aspects of Carroll’s original Wonderland while still creating its own very alternative Wonderland.

The story begins on the 7th birthday of Princess Alyss of Wonderland. This day does not go as planned, and she ends up witnessing her parents’ violent murders at the hands of her Aunt Redd. She and the Queen’s bodyguard then leap into the Pool of Tears, where Alyss emerges in Victorian London. She spends time living on the streets before ending up in an orphanage and eventually being adopted by the Liddel family. By the time she is twenty, she has convinced herself that her memories of Wonderland are just a dream, but this is when she is finally tracked down by the bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, and her childhood best friend, Dodge, and returns to a very different Wonderland.

Seven-year-old Princess Alyss is just as bratty as the Alice in the original book, which I liked. She has powerful imagination-based magic (the idea that the user can imagine things into existence), but doesn’t know how to control it, and at that age, isn’t really interested in learning. When she returns to Wonderland many years later, her brattiness has turned into anger at what has happened there during her aunt’s cruel reign and seeing her develop from untrained, helpless heroine into a warrior was really enjoyable.

The side characters are also well-developed. Dodge is sweet as a boy but has grown hardened over the thirteen years he seeks revenge for losing his father and Alyss, the two people most dear to him. It’s fairly obvious that he will be Alyss’ love interest in later books, but there is basically no romance in this one apart from a little puppy love at the beginning, and that was so refreshing! I really enjoyed the character of Hatter Madigan, though he is a man of few words, so we know little about him. I think I have figured out a few things and I look forward to seeing if I’m right. Hatter is part of an elite part of the military known as the Millinery. All their weapons are hat-based. I loved this, as I thought it sounded like something Lewis Carroll might have come up with. Speaking of things he might have come up with, I also enjoyed General Doppelganger, who was able to split himself into two people, General Doppel and General Ganger. The Chessboard Desert and the Everlasting Forest were also nice touches.

Redd was a formidable villain. I am always a fan of villains who are unapologetically evil, and Redd is definitely that, but she does have her reasons.

The world-building is great. As I said above, there’s a lot of nods to the original Carroll story and while at first I thought the Power of Imagination maybe sounded a little weak as a magic system, it actually works very well. When two powerful imaginations are pitted against each other, anything can happen. There were a lot of great action scenes which were really fast-paced.

Most of my qualms were to do with the time Alice spent in our world. I felt that historical figures were maybe used too much. Perhaps it was because I looked Alice Liddel up on Wikipedia and read about her possible maybe-sort-of-brief-flirtation with Prince Leopold, and then a few chapters later, Alyss was engaged to said prince in the book and it felt jarring to have two versions of events in my head basically simultaneously. I did like the way the break between Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and the Liddel family was worked into the story (in this version, it’s because Alyss was so outraged at the version of events he put in his book that she never wanted to see him again) and there is an implication that the infamous missing pages from Dodgson’s diary were torn out by Hatter Madigan. Still, I felt these characters were overused a bit, especially when so many other liberties are taken with the facts.

Still, I had the second book reserved before I had even finished the first, and I definitely look forward to seeing how Alyss rebuilds Wonderland in the face of other adversaries.

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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 08 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

wwwwednesdayI’m actually properly reading Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel now! I think I’m nearly at 60% at time of writing.

And I’m technically listening to the audio of ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor, but I’m going a bit slowly with it. I think I’m just not as interested in Princess Alyss and co. after listening to the first two books in quick succession.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

I finally finished A Gathering of Shadows, and while I feel it was a bit Middle Book Syndrome-y, I feel like the next book will be epic! (When it comes next February). My review goes up on Friday.

I also read Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, which was silly, but I do love the idea of alcohol-induced superpowers/magic. I posted my review on Monday and the book is now available for sale.

My review of Viral by Helen Fitzgerald also went up on Friday.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I figured I’d just post the photo I posted on Instagram after a visit to the library to collect six holds last night. Good thing I have a weekend trip away and also the whole of next week off, eh? Also, add Anne of Green Gables to this list, though I’ll be reading it electronically.


wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Today is 8/6/16, and I have eight paragraphs for you. Carrie and Jasper are discussing how best to help the memory-less Princess who is currently in the next room.

“You need to go with her,” he said. “She has no hope of getting there on her own. She’s lost everything we taught her; she wouldn’t know how to light a fire or how to barter. She’d just hand over that gold if it was asked for.”  

“Are you sending her to Milton Nethercote?”  

“Yes. I think we can safely assume that her memories are being tampered with. I wasn’t being dishonest when I said he was one of the few that could help her.”

“But what if this is some kind of trap? Is it wise to send the Princess to the leader of the resistance when she’s still so loyal to the King?”  

“If he can help her, and I believe that he can, isn’t he the perfect person for her to be with when she realises how much her own father has lied to her?”  

“That’s true.”  

“If you don’t want to go, we can find someone else. But we shouldn’t shelter her here for very long. Ideally, you should leave again tonight.”  

“But she’ll be exhausted. And I will need to prepare.”

That’s it from me, see you on your blogs!

~ Emily

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 01 June, 2016

Hey everyone! Just to let you know, this is the last chance to enter the giveaway for one of two signed copies of A More Complicated Fairytale! It closes 11:59PM Australian Eastern time. Winners will be announced in Sunday’s blog post and contacted by email.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

wwwwednesdayI’m back to A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. And, um, unpopular opinion time! I obviously still love these characters and their world and V. E. Schwab’s writing, but… I’m 50% through this book and still haven’t seen much resembling a plot? Like, I still feel like things are setting up. And from a couple of reviews I’ve read plus what a friend of mine who is at about 90% was saying when we were talking on Monday, it remains this way? Don’t get me wrong, I still love the characters and the world-building, I just expected things to moving along more.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

seeingreddcoverFinished the audio of Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor, the second in the Looking Glass Wars series. I’m enjoying this series! It does Wonderland-adaptation right. I also love that it’s a YA series where the romance really is part of the background, even when it’s what’s currently going on. It’s not all-encompassing and passionate, it’s actually very cute. And Dodge is just occasionally described as being handsome, rather than Alyss swooning over him every minute.

Also posted two reviews this week: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood (3.5*) and Disclaimer by Renee Knight.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

nightshadeloungecoverI have a NetGalley of Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger, which releases on June 7, so I should probably read that asap. And I have the audio of the third Looking Glass Wars book, Archenemy, on hold so hopefully that will become available soon.

My beloved Kindle has finally decided to die. It is over four years old so it’s had a pretty good run, but I am still sad. It’s not letting me turn pages now, and it keeps rebooting or freezing up. And every time it reboots, it goes back to the home screen, and then takes forever to load the book I was reading. I’ll probably read ebooks on my tablet for a while, then eventually get a replacement.

wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Today is 1/6, so I have seven paragraphs (don’t worry, it’s dialogue, so they’re all short). This is slightly before last week’s excerpt. Princess Adelyn has escaped due to Carrie casting an illusion so that everyone thought she was the princess, and thus Carrie is the one who gets captured and dragged back to the palace. She lets this happen somewhat, to buy Adelyn time to get to where she needs to be. Anyway, this is her speaking to the King’s chief magician, Eli Masden.

The magician looked at Carrie. “There now, Your Highness. See what happens when you run off with strangers?”

“You won’t get away with this,” Carrie said, trying to mimic the Princess’ tone.

“With what? Returning the princess home after a terrible, traumatic abduction?”

“Is that what you’re going to make me believe? Are you going to put that in my mind?”

“Oh, something like that, most likely.” He smiled cruelly. “But don’t worry. You won’t know any different.”

“Why aren’t you doing it now, then?”

“Because I want you to face your father with these memories still intact, and tell him the names of the people who helped you, and where they can be found.”

I love Eli. He’s one of my favourite characters, even though his character will need some fairly heavy revisions, because he’s rather inconsistent in how nasty he is. Sometimes he feels bad about it, sometimes he’s very unapologetic.

I’m going to leave this here, as I am off work with a cold today and am getting to the point where I want to take another nap. See you all later!

~ Emily

#WIPpet and #WWW Wednesday – 25 May 2016

First of all, I’m excited to announce that I’m doing a giveaway! Launching a book in the middle of semester was perhaps a silly thing to do, as it meant I couldn’t properly promote it at launch time. But that’s all done with now, so here I am with two signed paperback copies of A More Complicated Fairytale to give away. It’s open to everyone, anywhere in the world, because if I restricted it to Australian entries I’d probably get maybe two. 😛 You can go here to enter. Good luck!

(If you want to know a bit more before entering, the Amazon and GoodReads links are both in the sidebar to the right)/;’

My goodness, this has been a good writing week. You can read a long ramble about the reasons for the sudden upturn in my progress in Sunday’s post, but suffice to say – you know how last Wednesday I was all like, “It’s taken me from November to now, but I’ve just reached 20k on Worlds Apart”? Well, I’ve added over 5k just this week. My aim for the ten weeks between uni semesters was to add another 10k, but I’ve upped that goal to 30k, which will bring me to a total of 50k by the time I return to uni. Fingers crossed I can keep up the momentum! I’ll still try to keep my WIPpets somewhat in sequence so as not to cause too much confusion, but at least I don’t have to worry about running out of material to share from now.

wednesdaybannerFor today’s WIPpet I have five lines, which also happen to make up two paragraphs in my Scrivener file (and it’s the 25th). Quite a lot has happened prior to this scene, but all you need to know is that Princess Adelyn and Carrie Cortain had the royal guards catch up to them while they were trying to escape. Due to circumstances that would take far too long to explain here, Carrie has been taken by the guards and Adelyn has lost all of her memories of who she is, etc., and has been left alone in a giant forest. And yes, there is a reason she thinks she may be Carrie, but again with the “too convoluted to explain” thing.

The girl wandered the forest, her hands brushing against the rough bark of trees as she passed. She jumped every time she heard a noise. The pack on her back made her shoulders ache, but she kept moving. She didn’t know if it would be safe to stop, though she didn’t know where she was going, either.

The other girl had called her Carrie. Was that her name? She assumed so, though they had seemed to be in trouble. Perhaps she had been using an alias. Why didn’t she know who she was, and why was the other girl so keen for her to get away to the point of sacrificing herself? And who was Milton Nethercote, the man she was supposed to somehow locate?

If you are unfamiliar with WIPpet Wednesday, allow me to elaborate. It’s a blog hop where writers get together and share snippets from the WIP that somehow relate to the date (eg. my 2 paragraphs/5 lines thing for today). You can reach our link-up by clicking the blue guy in the right-hand sidebar. Please feel free to join in with us! We’d love to have you.

wwwwednesdayNow onto WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop in which we answer questions about what we’ve been reading this past week. This is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in by commenting on today’s post over on her blog.

  • What are you currently reading?

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal. Ive only read the first 100 pages so far, but I’ve already witnessed the marriage of a twelve-year-old girl (thankfully, despite my fears, there is no wedding night described), and the violent miscarriage of another girl not much older (it’s set in the 16th century, so basically everything is awful) yeah. It’s going to be a bit harrowing, I think.

I also made a very decent chunk in the audio version of The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. I got the email from my library that was available this morning, so I delayed leaving for work slightly and downloaded it. I’m already halfway through. I’m quite fussy about Alice in Wonderland retellings/adaptations, but I am actually liking this one. I think the fact that the Mad Hatter-equivalent character is not the love interest for once is helping. His connect to Alice/Alyss is entirely different. (I know that in Splintered, the Wonderland love interest was based on the Caterpillar, but I hated that book, so it doesn’t count :P)

  • What did you recently finish reading?

disclaimercoverI finished two audio book thrillers this week. The first was Disclaimer by Renee Knight, about a woman who has to confront her deepest, darkest secret when she is delivered a novel which clearly references said secret. It required a fair bit of suspension of disbelief, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It made me think. Second was Viral by Helen Fitzgerald. It’s about a girl whose worst moment ends up as a viral Internet video. It was good, and really drew attention to the woefully inadequate laws we have around video uploads and that sort of thing. But one of the two POV characters was quite unrealistic, I felt, which let it down a bit.

As Friday night was the beginning of my first weekend with no uni work, I spent it in bed reading The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood, which was a very quick read in the end. While there were some parts I didn’t especially like, the ending was really gripping!

I realised that I wasn’t going to get The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins finished by today, when it was due back to the library, so I gave up and returned it on Monday. However, I’ve put it back on my GoodReads TBR shelf rather than my DNF shelf in the hopes I’ll be able to come back to it when I’m in a better mood for it. It’s one that I do want to give a proper chance to.

I posted two new reviews this week, one for Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (3 stars) and one for World War Z by Max Brooks (3.5 stars).

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

A Gathering of Shadows FinalMy next audio book is Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill, which sounds cute and lighthearted and charming.

It’s not so much a case of reading next, but getting back to reading. The Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel  and A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab have both been sitting, started but not completed, on my Kindle, waiting for me to get back to them once I got rid of all my library books. Kingdom of Little Wounds is the last of my library haul for the moment, so I will actually be able to return to these.

Whew this was a long post! If you’ve made it all this way, you have my thanks. I’ll sign off now, and go and catch some of you on your owns blogs!

~ Emily