“Truth, terrible truth! Yet without it, how can one make sense of life’s madness?” // Review of “Nightshade” by Maryrose Wood

Title: Nightsahde (Poison Diaries #1)
Author: Maryrose Wood (based on a concept from the Duchess of Northumberland)
Genre: YA/Historical fantasy
Date Read: 21/06/2016 – 24/06/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book went in rather a different direction to the first one, and I’m still not entirely sure what I thought of it. Still, it was as easy to read as its predecessor, not requiring much effort to get through.

After the events at the end of the first book, Jessamine and Weed are separated, and Jessamine is quite sure she can’t trust her father. The voice of Oleander is still in her head, and she begins to follow his orders after he promises her that he can reunite her with her beloved. Meanwhile, Weed travels to Italy to a famous garden of healing, determined to find the right plants to cure Jessamine of whatever the Prince of Poisons has in mind for her.

In the case of both characters this time around, there was a lot of traveling and not much else happening. Some new characters are introduced, and there are certain events that increase the tension a bit, but these are generally addressed in a chapter or two and subsequently don’t have much effect.

It is only in the last third that a conspiracy affecting the larger plot arc really starts to take shape, making me think that this is another case of a second book really just setting up for a third. That, combined with the fact that reviews for the third book are scarce, and also that there was also a change of author, make me think I will probably leave this series here.

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 29 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 (I’m posting early, so you might have to wait a bit for the link up to go live).

wwwwednesday

What are you currently reading?

allthelightcoverI’ve started All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I’m moving slowly with it, though I do have seven hours of travel on Saturday, so in theory I could get it finished before it’s due back to the library next Wednesday. If I do have to return it, though, the queue is moving quite quickly, so I can reserve it and have it again in a couple of weeks.

catchmeifyoucancoverOn audio, I’m listening to Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding. I really enjoy the movie with Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hanks, and I absolutely loved the musical when I saw it earlier this year, so when I saw it available on Overdrive, I thought I would pick it up. I guess it’s unsurprising that a man’s memoir written in the 80s about being a teenager in the 60s is fairly sexist and gross at times… but if you can overlook that, it’s pretty entertaining so far…

wonderwomencoverI accidentally left All the Light We Cannot See on my desk at work yesterday, so last night I started Wonder Women by Sam Maggs, which I was approved for on NetGalley. While I really appreciate being made aware of these awesome women I had not heard of in many cases, I do wish the author was a little more academic and a little less snarky (I swear, there’s a “witty” aside every two sentences).

What did you recently finish reading?

nimonacoverNimona by Noelle Stevenson was very sweet, though not terribly original. I still really enjoyed it, though; the characters made it.

Nightshade by Maryrose Wood was… well, a bit weird. It felt a bit like it was trying to go dark and kind of missed and just ended up melodramatic instead.

fictionalwomancoverAnd finally,  The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss. Tara’s personal stories were definitely the strength of this book; the data analysis and social commentary felt like it was treading familiar ground. Still, an enjoyable introduction to feminism if you are looking for that sort of thing.

I also posted two reviews this week, for Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, both of which were 4.5 star reads for me.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have The Secret River by Kate Grenville out from the library after my library haul at the beginning of the month. I am honestly not sure whether I will enjoy it and I may not end up getting through it, but I want to give it a go.

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 the 29th, so I took eleven lines from my Scrivener document. In this scene, Carrie is still posing as the Princess. They have arrived back at the palace, and Masden has left Carrie to the princess’ ladies’ maid to get washed up before reporting to the King that she is supposedly home.

Her face lit up when she saw Carrie. “Oh, Princess, it’s such a relief to see you’re all right!” she exclaimed. She took a couple of quick steps forward with her arms out, as though she had intended to embrace the Princess, but then seemed to remember her place and thought better of it and let her arms fall.

Carrie gave her a smile. “Hello, Maisie,” she said, hoping she sounded natural enough. It was hard to talk to a stranger and make it sound like they already knew each other well. “It’s good to see you, too.”

Maisie gave a little curtsy, a broad smile beaming on her face, then she made her way straight to the bathroom. Carrie heard her speak through the door as she ran water into a tub. “Have to get you looking presentable for your father,” Maisie commented. “If you don’t mind my saying so, your Highness, you look a bit of a sight. You could do with a bath, but we haven’t got time for that. We’ll just get your face washed before you see your father, and change your clothes. The rest of you can wait.”

Carrie had no idea how the Princess would react to that. Surely, if that sort of familiar conversation was not welcome, Maisie would not have lasted long as the Princess’ companion. And besides, the Princess Adelyn that Carrie knew went out of her way to be accepting to all people. She even believed that magic had its place, unlike her father. A talkative servant was unlikely to bother her.

Carrie settled on a vague, “Yes, that sounds good,” and continued to sit on the bed, not sure what her next move should be.

Technically, they probably shouldn’t even have running water at this point, but I do intend to revise the time period in the next draft. I will be revising a lot of things in the next draft actually. So. Much. Revision.

But that’s Future Emily’s problem. For the moment, I’m working on Lessons  Learned. I had a rather large epiphany about this one, namely that the backstory is not backstory at all, but the actual story. So I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo to make a start on that! My username is spaciireth on the site if you want to share a cabin. I’m not going to go in a random cabin but will happily hang out with blog friends.

I should head off now. Catch you all later!

~ Emily


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 22 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.

wwwwednesday

What are you currently reading?

nimonacoverAfter having it on hold for six months (no, really), I finally picked up Nimona from the library today! I’m only about 10 pages in at time of writing, but I’m already in love!

I’m also reading  Nightshade by Maryrose Wood, the sequel to the Poison Diaries, which I reviewed a while back. Like the first book, it’s very easy to read and I’m getting through it quite quickly.

On audio, I’m currently listening to The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss, which is part memoir, part social commentary on gender roles and sexual violence and other related issues. I’ve decided to try including a bit more non-fiction in my reading, and memoir seems a good in-road for that.

What did you recently finish reading?

ihuntkillerscoverI’ve actually only finished one book this week, and that was I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. It was definitely very good, though I felt it became a bit less chilling in the second half, so my rating was 4.5. I’ll have a review up soon.

I was rather ruthless with my DNFing this week, dropping both Libriomancer by Jim Hines and WARP: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer. It wasn’t that either book was bad, it was just that I got nearly halfway through both of them and didn’t really care about the characters or the events. I had had similar experiences with Jim Hines’ books before, so it wasn’t a complete surprise in that case, but I am a bit sad to see that I seem to have grown out of Eoin Colfer’s writing. I did love Artemis Fowl as a teenager.

Two reviews also went up this week, for Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor and Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel.

What do you think you’ll read next?

allthelightcoverI picked up All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr from the library yesterday, and I probably won’t be able to renew it because the queue for it is a mile long (in spite of there being about 20 copies across our library network), so I’ll get onto it next. As it’s a popular item, I’ve only got it for two weeks rather than the standard four, so fingers crossed I get through it in time.

And 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 the 22nd, so I have four lines from my document. Carrie is disguised as Princess Adelyn. Eli Masden knows about this, but no one else (he has his reasons for letting her get away with it. They have been traveling home, and have finally arrived at the palace.

“Don’t speak of these last few days to anyone,” [Masden] said. “I don’t want any gossip about the Princess permeating the ranks.”

Carrie didn’t notice it at first, but by the time Masden finished his sentence, she realised there was a certain tone, a resonance, to his voice that wasn’t usually there. There was a moment when he finished speaking in which all the guards were still, and then in unison replied, “Yes, sir”. It wasn’t the unison salute of trained military, but the monotonous tone of men in a trance. Carrie frowned.

Looks like the Princess isn’t the only one whose mind Eli is messing with.

I’ve reached 50k on this WIP now and am having a little break from it. In the meantime, I’m working on Lessons Learned (remember that other one I’ve shared from, with the immortal woman and the ghost of her former lover?). I’m brainstorming at the moment, so I’ll probably still share from Worlds Apart for a while, while I find my groove with that other story again.

~ Emily


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“Love is a kind of poison” // Review of “The Poison Diaries” by Maryrose Wood

Title: The Poison Diaries (Poison Diaries #1)
Author: Maryrose Wood (based on a concept from the Duchess of Northumberland)
Genre: YA/Historical fantasy
Date Read: 21/05/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

poisondiariescoverThis is the first book in a long time that I’ve had the chance to sit and read all in one hit, and that was wonderful. There were times when I wasn’t sure that I was liking it exactly, and I’m still not entirely sure it would have got published if not for its aristocratic connections, but I actually ended up really enjoying it in the end.

Jessamine Luxton lives with her father, Thomas, in an old monastery in Northumberland. Her father is an apothecary, obsessed with learning the secrets of the monks who lived there centuries before and whose library full of the secrets of powerful plants were destroyed. When a young man called Weed is sent to live with them, he and Jessamine fall in love, but when Jessamine falls ill, Weed has to use a unique connection he has with plant life, and face the horrors of Thomas Luxton’s poison garden, but will it be enough to save her?

I will be honest, there were times when I thought Jessamine more than a bit insipid and useless. However, given how controlling her father was (he wouldn’t even let her go into town for fear she’d be tricked into revealing his secrets), it made a lot of sense. Weed was a bit annoying at first, but he grew into his own. The romance was not insta-love, but that didn’t stop some of the language getting a little cringe-worthily over the top at times.

The fantasy aspects were a bit strange, and hard to describe without giving too much away. Basically, Weed’s connection to plants is supernatural, and on top of that, we also meet the personification of Oleander, the Princes of Poisons. I actually quite liked him as a character (he reminded me a bit of Morpheus from Splintered, but a bit more detached). I don’t want to give too much a way, but the main villain of the piece was also quite chilling in his determination.

While there is a somewhat abrupt change in POV at page 200 from first person Jessamine to first person Weed, after a while I got used to this. It was really the only way the story could move forward, with Jessamine confined to her sickbed. The climax was  quite gripping and had me turning the pages quickly. And it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger! Rather, the events of this book are resolved, though there is still story left to tell. I’m definitely keen to read the second.


P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for one of two signed paperbacks of A More Complicated Fairytale.

#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

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 18 May, 2016

Once again, I have failed at keeping up with everyone’s blogs! However, on the brighter side, I handed in my final two assignments for the semester this week, and now I am free for ten glorious weeks! My aim is actually to get a lot of writing done in that time, but it will mean increased blogging time, too, I hope.

Anyway, now is time for WWW Wednesday, 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 (though I’m posting quite early, so if the post isn’t there yet, check back later).
wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

lastdaysofmagiccoverThe Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins. It’s not exactly wowing me and the writing feels a bit clunky, but it’s early days so I’m not writing it off just yet.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

rebelofthesandscoverRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I actually realised about two thirds of the way through that there was no indication from the book that some of the things I had been expecting would be there, so I guess I did a bit of a disservice to myself and the book by having unfounded expectations. I still enjoyed it, but not as much as I might have otherwise. My review goes up on Friday.

I also finished World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which I was listening to on audio. My review will go up on Monday. I enjoyed it, though my mind wasn’t blown.

I  posted my review of Rivers of London by Aaronovitch on Monday.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

kingdomlittlewoundscoverThe Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, which I mostly picked up because of the stunning cover (seriously, go check it out), and The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood are the last two of my library books. I will probably read the Poison Diaries first because it’s shorter, and hopefully I’ll get through it before the due date, though I’m actually keener to read The Kingdom of Little Wounds.

Now for WIPpet Wednesday. My WIPpet maths this week is such – it’s the eighteenth, and so I have a nine-line paragraph because I added the two digits together. Carrie is getting Princess Adelyn out of the city, but they have to go on foot, and they’re getting into the dodgier parts of town.

Princess Adelyn kept her hood raised as they walked. It was still dark outside, but the street lamps lit their way. She wasn’t sure how much longer that would remain the case, though, as they headed into the poorer parts of the city. Once they reached the forest Jasper had mentioned, she didn’t know what they would do to see their way. Carrie seemed to know what she was doing though. She walked confidently through the streets. Adelyn was surprised that a young woman from the part of town where the Cortains lived would know her way out of the city by this road so easily.

If you are unfamiliar with WIPpet Wednesday, it’s a blog hop that I coordinate, wherein us writer types share an snippet from our current WIP (hence, WIPpet) that somehow relates to the date. The date correlation can be as tenuous as you like; we enjoy creativity in that respect. 😉 You can join in by clicking the little blue guy to the right. 🙂

On the subject of this WIP, I am very close to hitting 20k on it! Which isn’t a lot given I started it November, but I’ve had some rough patches lately, writing-wise, so I’m getting excited at any and all milestones.

Now that I’m done with uni for a while, I’m hoping to do some proper promo and marketing for A More Complicated Fairytale. Some people actually bought it despite my lack of marketing! But I’d like to see a few more! (If you’re keen, you might like to use the link in the sidebar to buy your own copy, but I am going to hopefully have a giveaway up and going in a week or so, so you might like to hold off until then).

Well, I’d best be off now. I’m going to the circus tonight! 😀 Hopefully this week I’ll actually manage to get around to a lot of your blogs. Until then!

~ Emily