16 March 2018

Book Beginnings #59

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.
I have a heart for every year I've been alive.
To Kill A Kingdom is a pretty dark re-imagining of The Little Mermaid - which, let's be honest, is dark AF to begin with. And it starts off pretty gruesomely, with Lira examining the hearts she has stolen. I love it.

Also can we take a look at that gorgeous cover? I've spent a ridiculous amount of time just staring at the cover instead of reading, gazing at the beautiful foiled typography.
My father told me to stop living inside fairy tales, but maybe that's exactly what I need to do.
This part of the book isn't about the character you'd expect.

I actually found this small part of the book a little frustrating, as the realisation the character came to had been pretty obvious to me since the beginning of the chapter but it took him until the end to work it out. Still, it didn't really detract from my enjoyment, and this is only page 56 so I still have a long way to go.

What are you reading this week?

15 March 2018

Q&A with Alwyn Hamilton

Alwyn Hamilton is the bestselling author of the Rebel of the Sands trilogy and an all round wonderful person (I know this from first hand experience). So when I heard she was going to be taking part in University of Central Lancashire BA in Publishing's Northern Young Adult Literature Festival I jumped at the opportunity to ask her some questions.

Q&A with Alwyn Hamilton

Can you describe the Rebel of the Sands series in five words?
Wild West Meets Arabian Nights.

What was your favourite book to write?
I loved writing TRAITOR TO THE THRONE. I had so many exciting ideas for it that had been brewing through the whole long process of writing REBEL so I was very glad to get those on the page. And also because it was my first time writing a book to deadline and I felt very accomplished doing it.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
Shazad and Sam would definitely be my top picks.

Do you think you could survive in the world you created? Who would you want by your side?
One time, when I had the flu on tour, I struggled to walk across the airport. It was about 500 meters. So I definitely don't think I could survive walking across a whole desert like Amani did! But If I had to I would want Shazad by my side. She'd keep me going.  

Are you a planner or a pantser?
I'm a daydreamer. I daydream the pillars of the plot that I'd most like to write and then figure out how they should all link together, so it is all mostly in my head when I start writing. 

What is your favourite thing about writing?
The "click" moments. The moments when something that was evading your grasp, a character trait, a plot twist, whatever it might be, clicks into place, and suddenly everything is flowing. 

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working a new YA Fantasy Duology. And for now that's all I can say ;-)

Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it's free!

Alwyn Hamilton will be talking about the epic conclusion to her hugely popular Rebel of the Sands story: Hero at the Fall. She’ll be around before and after for signing sessions.

13 March 2018

Making Tea with Children of Blood and Bone

My Maji clan is Tider, which means I have the ability to manipulate water and ice. At first I was a little confused because I didn't think that water is an element I have much affinity with. Then I spent some time thinking about it and it made sense.
You’re a Tider, the maji of water. Tenacious, warm-hearted, and creative, you have the power to manipulate water in all of its forms.

As a Tider, you’re a natural born leader. Though you can be stubborn at times, your persistence allows you to achieve anything you put your mind to.
When life gives you water, make tea.

Custom Tea Blends for Children of Blood and Bone

If you haven't already read Children of Blood and Bone, get on it. It's incredible. And if you get the Waterstones Exclusive Edition it even comes with red sprayed edges which are exactly as gorgeous as you'd imagine.

I reviewed it in 5 Words: Power, magic, family, loyalty, faith.

But reading this book is truly a journey. Tomi Adeyemi's writing is such that I was drawn into the world. I was there. I could see and smell and feel. So I blended up some tea to match some of the most vivid locations.

Amari in the Royal Palace
A tea blend based on Amari from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • First Flush Darjeeling
  • Pink Rose Petals
Three parts First Flush Darjeeling, one part Pink Rose Petals. 

Brewing Time: 2 - 4 minutes

This tea is subtle and light and expensive. I wanted to capture the luxury of the palace, the expensive tastes of the royal family. Use just under boiling water, and make sure not to leave it brewing for too long as first flush can turn bitter quite quickly.

At Home in Elorin
A tea blend based on Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Second Flush Assam
  • Cocoa Nibs
Two parts Second Flush Assam, one part Cocoa Nibs. 

Brewing Time: 3 - 5 minutes

This tea feels like home. It's strong and smoky and slightly sweet to drink, and it smells like treacle. It's comforting and familiar, something that I had wanted to capture when I was blending it. It's malty and rich and the cocoa adds extra warmth.

This blend would lend itself well to a tea latte, just brew a little stronger and use an equal quantity of hot frothy milk.

In the Dreamscape
A tea blend based on Inan from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
One part of each.

Brewing Time: 2 - 5 minutes

This tea is not subtle, but it is relaxing. The scent is super strong and hides the lightness of flavour, and I like how this reflects the turmoil of the characters in the dreamscape when they are trying to figure each other out and are projecting misleading personas.

This can be brewed multiple times, lengthen the brewing time by a minute each time. Use just under boiling water. Best of all it's caffeine free so actually pretty perfect for bedtime when you're headed into dreamland yourself.

The Temple at Chȃndomblé
A tea blend based on Chȃndomblé from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Jasmine Dragon Pearl
One part of each.

Brewing Time: 2 - 3 minutes

I wanted something that was simple yet special for the temple. I hope this tea light, fresh tea reflects the place itself rather than the horrors that unfolded there, representing new beginnings rather than brutal endings.

Do not use boiling water, either stop it before it boils or let it rest for around 5 minutes before pouring. As expensive as dragon pearl is, it can be re-infused multiple times, and the flavour will change each time, becoming more floral as the green tea unfurls from around the jasmine blossom.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 

Top Ten Tuesday #117

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Books That Surprised Me (in a good way)

I love it when I'm surprised by a book, when it exceeds my expectations. I am a habitual non-reader of blurbs so I am often surprised when a cover or hype doesn't give it all away.
  1. Below Zero by Dan Smith
    With this being Middle Grade, I absolutely did not expect to be so freaked out by this book.
  2. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
    Yeah, after the hype I was expecting just another gay story. But this book is so much more than that, and I love it.
  3. Gilded Cage by Vic James
    I'd seen the author talking about it in a #SundayYA chat and I knew I had to have it, what I didn't expect was to find a new all time favourite book. Yes, I have already read it five times. And listened to the audio.
  4. Fir by Sharon Gosling
    This book is so creepy. All of the creepiness. This book is truly scary. The moment it starts snowing I'm itching to pick it up again even though I know it means I won't want to go outside.
  5. Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
    This. Book. It's one that surprised me so much I can't shut up about it. When Jo at My Attic Library let me lose on her blog you can bet that yes, I talked about this book. 
  6. All The Good Things by  Clare Fisher
    This wee book is heartbreaking and challenging and even the voice of the book surprised me. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I read was beautiful.
  7. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
    I was excited by this book from the moment I first saw it, but this shouty take down of the patriarchy made my heart sing.
  8. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    Yes, there is so much hype for this book. And yes, the hype is real. It is so real. It may be 600 pages, but every page is awesome. I couldn't put it down.
  9. Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young
    Is it cheating that it's not out yet? This book absolutely blew my expectations out of the water and was better than I ever imagined it could be.
  10. Clean by Juno Dawson
    I mean, it's Juno Dawon, it was already going to be good. But Clean is breathtaking, even from the first pages I was hooked.

Which books have surprised you?

09 March 2018

Book Beginnings #58

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Pick me. 
It's all I can do not to scream. I dig my nails into the marula opak of my staff and squeeze to keep from fidgeting. Beads of sweat drip down my back, but I can't tell if it's from the morning heat or from my heart slamming against my chest. Moon after moon I've been passed over. 
Today can't be the same.  
I have Expectations for this book. And although I'm posting this for Book Beginnings, I'm actually almost finished. And it's bloody excellent. The start is excellent and if anything it gets even better as it progresses.

Right from the first lines, I knew I was going to enjoy it. I am going through such a fantasy kick right now, and this book is like catnip. You are plunged straight into a rich world that exists, and not just for the characters. It is magnificently written, with tiny nuances that make Orïsha stand out from other fantasy worlds.

And the characters, wow the characters. I love Zélie and Amari, they are the kind of characters I want to read always - original and strong in a hundred ways.
He doesn't see that her blood stains my own hands. 
I scramble backward onto my feet, tripping over the hem of my dress. I rush up the stairwell at the corner of the main hall, my legs shaking with every step. My vision blurs as I fight to make it to my quarters, but it's all I can do to rush over to a vase. I grab onto the ceramic rim. Everything inside me comes back up.
With this being a 600-page Door Stopper of Awesome book, page 56 is riiiiight at the beginning. Everything is still being set up, and it's the first glimpse of Amari (who is my favourite, I love her, Amari forever) and her family situation.

This is a great example of how the author doesn't just tell what characters are feeling, she truly shows it. I can feel Amari's terror and horror and panic and guilt.

Honestly though, this book. Go out and get it now and be amazed.

What are you reading this week?

08 March 2018

Guest Post: Izzy O'Neill's iPod

If you haven't already read The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven then you need to rush out and buy it now. It really is excellent. Pretty much everyone I know who has read it (myself included) read it in a short, feverish sitting. It is one of those books you can't put down.

Music features a fair bit in the book, and while I'm a little sad that Cute Is What We Aim For didn't make the cut, here are the top tracks on Izzy O'Neill's iPod as provided by the author herself! Including a handy Spotify playlist so you can listen along. It's a perfect companion to the book.

The Tracklist

I love It
Icona Pop, Charlie XCX

I Don't Care

Sit Still, Look Pretty

Tove Stryke

Kate Nash

Remember When


Dog Days Are Over
Florence + The Machine

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

Izzy O'Neill here! Impoverished orphan, aspiring comedian and Slut Extraordinaire, if the gossip sites are anything to go by...

Izzy never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician's son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off - but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay. It's the Exact Opposite of Okay. 

Bitingly funny and shockingly relevant, The Exact Opposite of Okay is a bold, brave and necessary read. For readers of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Doing It by Hannah Witton and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.

A hilarious, groundbreaking young adult novel for anyone who's ever called themselves a feminist... And anyone who hasn't. For fans of Louise O'Neill, Holly Bourne and Amy Schumer. 


Do you listen to music when you read?

06 March 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #116

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes.

I love picking out quotes, highlighting passages that particularly resonate with me. So I had to spend a fair while going through my Goodreads quotes and my Kindle highlights to pick these out.

Can I have all of these as art prints or cushion covers or mugs now please?

It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow streets because it is grieved by what it finds there.
Trudi Canavan, The Magicians' Guild

“For heaven’s sake,” I say, “will you please sip the tea so I don’t have to pour you another cup every five minutes?” 
“We’re facing an apocalypse,” he replies. “There is not enough tea in the world to calm me.”
Elizabeth May, The Falconer

I am so angry all the time, and so sad, and it screams inside me and never stops. Cutting is the only thing that eases me.
Zoë Marriott, Shadows on the Moon

Love changes how you see everything. It blinds you, but in a good way.
Will Hill, After the Fire

The beauty of this world is fading all too fast through the cruelty and thoughtlessness of men.

But beauty can make people forgive a thousand cruelties.
Marie Lu, Warcross

She is alone.
And oh
how brilliantly she shines.
Nikita Gill, Wild Embers

“Oh, right," I snap. "And because he's spent enough money and inserted enough friendship tokens, the offer of sex and/or marriage should just fall out anytime now?”

Men like to talk about themselves and their achievements. Nona knew that much about men even if she was little.
Mark Lawrence, Red Sister

“She does not know how to feel safe.” As I said it I knew it was true. “We will have to teach her how.”
Maria Turtschaninoff, Maresi

What is your favourite book quote?