#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 15 March, 2017

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Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday! This is a weekly blog hop hosted by yours truly. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

I was away over part of last week and briefly returned to With Memories and Magic but my main project at the moment is still my Wizard of Oz contemporary retelling. Today I’m sharing 15 lines for the 15th day of the month. Dora is chatting to one of her housemates, Sam Crowe, who if you couldn’t tell from the name, is the Scarecrow character. He’s only just started college and he’s already flunking out.

“I barely passed this paper,” he said. “If I don’t pick up my grades soon, I’m going to flunk this class.”

“What’s the class?”

“Twentieth century American literature.”

Dora stopped leaning on the door frame and took a seat on the couch next to him. “I did a few literature courses while I was getting my drama degree,” she said. “I did pretty well. Maybe I could take a look at it for you. I might be able to give you some advice.”

Sam didn’t look too thrilled at the suggestion, but he shrugged and handed the paper to Dora anyway. The topic of the paper was broad, asking for a discussion of themes in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. As Dora glanced over it, she began to see a few reasons for Sam’s lower marks. He didn’t really focus on a particular topic; instead he jumped from idea to idea. His examples were vague, too. She had a feeling he had only read parts of the book and was trying to shoehorn in the quotes he was familiar with, even if they didn’t quite fit the point he was trying to make.

“Listen, I’m not trying to be rude,” Dora said, “but did you actually read the book?”

“Yes,” Sam replied, too quickly. Dora just raised her eyebrows at him and he looked away, shrugging again. “Maybe half of it. I used CliffsNotes for the rest.”

Dora bit her lip, trying not to laugh. “Sam, do you really think CliffsNotes is going to get you through college?”

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

wwwwednesday
So I had the majority of this post ready for last week, then I shut down my computer and went away for three days without finishing it and posting it, so here we are! As a result, and the fact that I had lots of reading time while I was away, this is sligthly longer than usual.

What have you recently finished reading?

These aren’t in order of when I read them, rather I’ve grouped like books together.


I have finished the entire Colours of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty, comprising of A Corner of White (which I listened to on audio and the narrators were completely awesome), the Cracks in the Kingdom and A Tangle of Gold (I read these two in paperback). The first two I absolutely loved, but I was let down by the third one sadly. My reviews of A Corner of White and Cracks in the Kingdom are here and here respectively. A Tangle of Gold’s review goes up on Friday.

On a related note, I was thinking about starting a “this series started so well, what happened?” shelf on GoodReads because this happens to me an awful lot! Or maybe I need to swear off series and concentrate on standalone books.

untoldcoverI also finished Untold, the second book in the Lynburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan. The character arcs and the writing were really well done but the plot itself was a bit light on the ground. Review here.

I also finally got back to the Lemony Snicket books and read The Wide Window and The Miserable Mill, books three and four of A Series of Unfortuate Events. I haven’t been reviewing these because they work to a particular formula and I don’t think I would have enough to say about each of them individually, but they are rather addictive! Though I seem to be liking the odd-numbered books better than the even-numbered ones, so that’s a thing.

And last but not least, I’m going to put this here because I’m going to finish this tonight, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson on audio. This is an interesting book exploring the issue of public shaming in the age of the Internet, and how a person can have the virtual screaming hoards pile onto them and they can lose their jobs, etc, over one badly worded tweet. It’s fascinating stuff, though I think some of the things he talks about are a bit tangential, or at least the way he structures the book makes them seem that way.

I also posted my review of The Fearless Travelers’ Guide to Wicked Places by Peter Begler since my last post.

What are you currently reading?

After weeks of having this book as the answer to What do you think you’ll read next, I am finally actually reading Adverbs by Daniel Handler. It’s essentially a short story anthology, but the stories are all set in the same universe, and the main characters in some stories show up later in smaller roles in others. It’s interesting, but the writing style is a bit pretentious, but then I guess even his Lemony Snicket books are a bit pretentious.

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

So I thought my March TBR had gone right out the window, but I’m actually not doing too terribly with it, despite getting distracted by Jaclyn Moriarty. A Conjuring Of Light by V. E. Schwab is still waiting for me on Kindle, so that will probably be next. After that, I’m looking forward to returning to my Beat the Backlist and Australian Women Writers Challenge items for a while.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

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“If the truth didn’t help anyone, and love didn’t last, what was there left to struggle toward?” // Review of “Untold” by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre:
YA/urban fantasy
Date Read: 28/02/2017 – 06/03/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review: 

This was a strong sequel to Unspoken, with beautiful writing again and some strong character arcs, but the plot itself was a bit dull. I realised 200 pages in that I couldn’t really tell you what had been happening.

Factions are forming in Sorry-in-the-Vale, with sorcerors and townspeople giving their support to either Rob Lynburn or Lillian. Jared is still mad at Kami and she is trying to work out whether she likes Jared, Ash or both of them. And they have until the Winter Solstice when Rob Lynburn will return the town to its old ways and demand a blood sacrifice.

Credit where credit is due, this is the first time I have read a YA love triangle that actually worked. I think it is because Jared nor Ash are both actually well-developed characters and we get to see scenes from their points-of-view, which avoids that issue in so much YA where the two romantic interests just come across as entitled jerks. Jared and Kami’s relationship returned to the deep messiness that I enjoyed so much in the first book, and I really appreciated how Ash tried to understand that but really just couldn’t appreciate the connection Jared and Kami shared.

The side characters are all really well written. Angela’s coming out story, which was touched on briefly in the first book, was addressed, and continued to be handled with nuance. The awkwardness between her and Holly felt really honest. The conflict between Kami’s parents when her father found about her mother’s involvement in magic also read really well, and both the situation itself and Kami’s feelings about it were very realistic.

As I said above, it was the plot that moved so slowly that lost this one points. I got to page 228, where Kami was once again doing research into the Lynburn records to try to find information that might help them against Rob Lynburn, and realised that with the exception of the opening chapter, there had been little action up until that point. It had all been about who it was that Kami made out with in a dark corridor at the pub, and Ash feeling inadequate about all facets of his life, and Angela and Kami making sure nothing was awkward between them. So while it was all beautifully written and the characterisation was great, it still got a little dull after a while.


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 01 March, 2017

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Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday! This is a weekly blog hop hosted by yours truly. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

I mentioned in my Sunday Summary post that I had decided to put With Memories and Magic aside for a while and focus on a new project. Some of you may remember a while back I mentioned a plot bunny for a contemporary Wizard of Oz retelling. I planned it out at the time and intended to start working on it in March. Well, I started a few days early.

I’m trying to remember to use American English, since it is set in America. I had to google “What do Americans call a dressing gown?” the other night because I was totally blanking on “bathrobe”. At the moment, it’s strict contemporary, no fantasy elements, though that may change if it takes my fancy.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the opening scene (third month – first day). Dora has arrived at Linda North’s boarding house during inclement weather. Linda is awesome and had hot chocolate waiting for her at the door.

“Here, dear,” she said, placing the mug in Dora’s grateful hands. “This is terrible! I can’t believe you drove through that. I’m surprised you didn’t get blown away!”

Dora let the warmth of the mug flood through her before taking a sip of the hot chocolate. She swallowed and shrugged in response to Linda. “It was only the last twenty miles or so that were really bad,” she said, and then took a slightly bigger gulp of the drink.

You Americans and your miles. I had a rough distance in mind and had to convert it from kilometres. Because I’m pedantic like that and just picking a number out of the air just won’t do. 😛

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

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

fearlesstravelersguidecoverI finished The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places by Peter Begler and while I enjoyed aspects of it, I found myself skimming the last 100 pages or so. It was a bit too slow. My review will go up on Friday.

Just one review this week, of Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography.

What are you currently reading?

cornerofwhitecoverI’m almost done with A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty on audio. I’m really enjoying it, though I can understand why the reviews are somewhat mixed. It’s one of those books where I think the charm of it is really enhanced by the narrators, though unfortunately, my library only has this one Overdrive, so I’ll have to read the print books if/when I continue the series.

untoldcoverI’ve also started Untold, the second book in the Lynburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan . So far it’s a good follow-up to Unspoken. Jared’s being a jerk, though.

What do you think you’ll read next?

adverbscoverI think it will Adverbs by Daniel Handler and that will be the last of my library books. I’m also traveling to Sydney next Monday and to save space in my bag, I’m just going to take my Kindle and start A Conjuring Of Light by V. E. Schwab, so I can (hopefully) squee with the rest of you. I have about 7 hours of traveling all up, so I should be able to make a good dent in it.

I also posted a full March TBR here yesterday.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 22 February, 2017

bookcrossinglogoSo quick question. Does anyone here do Bookcrossing? It’s that thing where you register a book and it gets a unique ID which you write on a little bookplate and then you leave it in a public place and hopefully the person who picks it up will register it and you get to see where your book travels.

I’ve known about it for ages but I’ve only just joined. I “released” my first few books this morning to an “official” crossing zone, so a place where other users actively look. It looks like my state, for all its tiny-ness, has a very active Bookcrossing community, which is quite exciting. I did make a pact with myself though, that I would release a few books before I go about capturing any and giving myself more books to read.

Anyway, that turned into a bit more than a quick question. But let me know if you’ve ever done it! On with the blog hops!

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Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday! This is a weekly blog hop hosted by yours truly. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

I haven’t written much so far this week, as I’ve become stuck on a slow scene. I am tempted to just leave it for Future Emily to finish/fix in revisions. Future Emily won’t be too happy but that’s also Future Emily’s problem.

I have four paragraphs following on from last week’s snippet. Clara is letting the bad guys think she’s going with them, in order to let Max and Jana (Max’s aunt, and to Clara’s knowledge at this point, her godmother) get away. Max knows this is the plan because they were able to communicate telepathically, but Jana doesn’t.

She looked at the four strangers. “I get the feeling that even if we got away from you now, you would keep coming after me,” she said. “So I decided to come with you. After all, in the first words you spoke to me, you told me more about where I come from than these guys ever have.” She jerked her head towards Max and Jana and saw Conrad smirk at the dig. Max kept his expression neutral, but Jana began to open her mouth to argue.

“It’s fine, Aunt Jana,” she said. “I know it was ‘for my protection’” – she did air quotes as she spoke the last few words – “but I’m tired of not knowing anything. And if this does all fall apart, I can magic myself back to you, right?”

She tried to give her godmother a reassuring look. Locking eyes with her, she sent her thoughts through to her.

This is part of my plan. But do feel free to object out loud.

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

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

traitortothethronecoverI finished Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton and while I figured out the twist right at the end before it was revealed, it was nonetheless a really fun book! Usually I’m not one for in depth political intrigue, but there was just enough in this one. And very little romance, which also worked for me.

I posted my Traitor to the Throne review here and you can also read my review of The Mesmerist by Ronald J. Smith here.

What are you currently reading?

fearlesstravelersguidecoverI have started The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places by Peter Begler. It’s quite slow-going and while I am liking it, I’m not sure it would keep an actual middle-grade reader interested. My reading speed also slows right down when I’m reading something slower-paced, so it might take me a little while to finish.

cornerofwhitecoverI also began A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty on audio yesterday. This has been on my Australian Women Writers Challenge TBR for a while, so when I saw it available on Overdrive, I picked it up. It has various narrators, but one of them is Fiona Hardingham, who I just recently listened to narrating The Dark Unwinding.  She’s got a lovely, silky voice that’s really easy to listen to.

What do you think you’ll read next?

adverbscoverI’ve got a couple of ARCs still pending but one of them has been on NetGalley for a year after its publication and the other is not published until  the end of April, so I feel I can let them both sit for a while. After 3 ebooks, I’m rather hanging out for a physical book. I think it untoldcoverwill either be Untold, the second book in the Lynburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan or Adverbs by Daniel Handler. They’re the two things I’ve currently got out from the library, so it would be good to get through them and then return to working through things I own.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

#BeatTheBacklist “You’re not one of them. You never were. You’re not theirs. You’re mine.” // Review of “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre:
YA/urban fantasy
Date Read: 24/01/2017 – 30/01/2017
Rating: ★★★☆

Review: 

For about the first 100 pages of this book, I thought it was going to be my first 5* read of the year. While that didn’t work out, this was still quite an enjoyable read.

Kami Glass has had a voice inside her head all her life. When the mysterious Lynburn family returns to her village of Sorry-in-the-Vale, she discovers that the voice is not someone who doesn’t exist, but in fact belongs to Jared Lynburn, the black sheep of the Lynburn family. Not only that, but animals and people are being killed in the woods, and the Lynburns are the most likely suspects.

When this book started, I really loved the direction it was taking. I loved that Kami and Jared had to cope with the realisation that the voices in their heads actually belonged to a separate individual, that it wasn’t just something in their head making them crazy, and that there was actually another person who knew all their secrets and could possibly spill them all. Their relationship was deep and complicated and messy and it made me squee a lot. But then it started to get a bit weird later on. Jared started acting controlling, and didn’t like the fact that Kami had friends other than him. I can’t remember whether he literally said at one point that he wanted Kami to himself, or whether he just thought it, but either way, he was drifting into toxic territory.

Apart from that, the rest of the characters are all fantastically written. They were kind of like TV teenagers – you know, you look at them and you know that the people playing them are all at least 25, and they speak like they’re at least that age, but you handwave it anyway becauses snappy dialogue between teenagers is good fun. Yeah, they’re those sorts of teenagers. But the dialogue really was quite brilliant most of the time. There’s also some LGBT representation and it was handled really well, I thought. I hope there’ll be further exploration of that in the next book.

(^^ I really hope that made sense, and wasn’t just an unintelligible ramble).

I had hoped that the mysteries surrounding the Lynburns had taken a bit more time to be sorted out. It was the sort of thing that could have been explored throughout the entire series, so I’m not 100% where the subsequent books are going to go now that a significant portion of that is all out in the open.

One thing that did bother me about the writing was the occasional Americanisms that popped up. Some of the characters had been raised in America, so if it had been them referring to asses rather than arses and cell phones rather than mobile phones, I wouldn’t have been bothered, but it was in fact the English characters. This could have been very easily fixed and I’m not sure how it slipped into the final text.

I did have plans of racing straight onto the second book, which I already have from the library, but I have read a few reviews that say it focuses quite heavily on the romance, so I’m going to wait a little while. Still, this was a great series opener that I do recommend!


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 01 February, 2017

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

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

unspokenlynburncoverI finished Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, which at first I thought was going to be my first 5* read for the year. But then as I went on, my feelings became a bit more mixed. It started off with tropes and characters I really liked, but then it veered off not necessarily bad things, but things I am less fond of and less likely to flail and squee over. Review will be along soon.

Idarkunwindingcover also finished The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron. It’s definitely not a standalone and I do want to read the second book, but I am going to have to buy the ebook, as neither my public library nor digital library has it. So it will wait for a bit. My review went up on Monday and you can read it here.

I also posted my review of The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co.) here this week.

What are you currently reading?

traitortothethronecoverI was approved for an ARC of Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton, which is released later this week. I’m hoping to finish it in time to get a review up on Friday, though if I need to leave it until Monday, that’s okay. It took a little while but I’m getting into it now.

beautyqueenscoverI also started listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray on audio. I went looking for one of her other books, and found this one. It’s a very black YA comedy. I’m enjoying it so far. And she is a great audio performer as well.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I actually posted a February TBR post yesterday, as I’ve got quite a few to choose from. I already have The Reptile Room (Series of Unfortuate Events #2) and Untold from the library, and I have two other pending ARCs to read as well.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

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The
other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up. I’ve got three paragraphs today, for 01/02. Max has been reunited with some of his Aligarian Mage colleagues, but Clara is missing, and they’ve just told him that some of the Mages not loyal to Clara are also hunting for her here. Reminder that Clara has an entirely different set of memories at the moment.

Max felt his stomach knot up. “We need to get back to my Aunt. Clara – the Queen – has run off somewhere. Just now. I didn’t think she was that far ahead of me, but there’s no trace of her.”

“You’re that familiar with her?” Derek asked. “Calling her by her name like that?”

“She’s not the Queen here,” Max reminded them. “And she has no concept of being a Queen, either. We’re just her friends here.”

If anyone is interested, I’ve decided to participate in Faith Rivens‘ February challenge, Fictional Flashback February. My first post is here, introducing Clara in more detail.

That’s it from me this week. Toodles!

~ Emily

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 25 January, 2017

Oh, look, it’s, um… Thursday. In this part of the word. However, it’s only 8am on Thursday here, which means it’s still Wednesday in pretty much every part of the world where this blog has readers. I did have plans of writing this post last night before bed, except then I fell asleep on the couch. Oops.

Anyway. Let’s just pretend it’s still Wednesday and start off with WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

Jcreepingshadowcoverust one finished this week – The Creeping Shadow, which is book 4 in the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. I actually ended up being a bit disappointed in it, but it’s the 7th Stroud book I’ve read and the first one to let me down, so I can’t really complain. My review will be up on Friday.

I posted reviews for Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket this week. Click the titles to read them.

What are you currently reading?

darkunwindingcoverI’ve got about two hours left on the audio of The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron. This is a very character-driven book but I’ve ended up really enjoying it. And at risk of sounding like a teenager on Tumblr, pretty sure I found my first book boyfriend of 2017 in Lane Moreau.

unspokenlynburncoverI started Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan yesterday. It is the first in the Lynburn Legacy series. I wasn’t supposed to be getting anything else from the library but I’ve had this on  my TBR forever and when I saw it on the shelf I figured why not.

What do you think you’ll read next?

heartofbrasscoverI don’t know why I keep answering this question, since I have not once this year gone on to actually read the book I’ve mentioned under this heading. I think I will probably return to Heart of Brass by Felicity Hall, which is sitting on my currently reading shelf with only 60-odd pages read. I also have no idea what audio I’ll pick up; I will have to go on a hunt for one.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

wednesdaybanner
The
other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

In this scene, Clara’s been chased down the street and grabbed by some strangers in purple robes. She’s stopped struggling because they seem willing to tell her some things about herself that her so-called friends so far have not, but she’s still not entirely buying it. Also, quick reminder because it’s been a while since he showed up in a WIPpet, General Bauer is the bad guy. He’s not really worried about her. Seven paragraphs beacuse 2+5 =  7.

She stopped struggling against her pursuer’s grip. Seeing that she was following his instructions, the man lowered his hand from Clara’s mouth. Three other figures stepped into Clara’s line of sight. They were all wearing dark purple robes and looked like they must be melting. Even after dark, the heat was still oppressive.

“Your Majesty,” said one of them, a woman. “General Bauer has been extremely worried about you these past six months. Come back to Thelidon with us. He looks forward to doing great things for the Kingdom, with you by his side.”

Clara bit her lip. “Look, um, it’s not that I don’t believe you about this, okay? Because some weird stuff has been happening to me lately, and at this point I’m willing to believe I’m the Queen of some far off country I’ve never heard of. But you’re going to have to explain things to me very slowly, because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The three people in front of Clara glanced at each other, as well as at the fourth person over her shoulder.

“You don’t remember Thelidon at all?” asked another woman.

Clara racked her brain. There was something about that word. And the robes these four were wearing. It was like a scrap of memory waving in the wind at the back of her mind, but when she tried to reach out to it, it was gone. She shook her head.

“Sorry.”

That’s it from me this week. As I’m late to the party now, and also since it’s a public holiday so I can spend my morning doing what I want, I shall visit your blogs straight away. Toodles!
~ Emily