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17 February 2020

Q&A with Nina de Pass

At the beginning of last year I read a book that blew me away. The Year After You by Nina de Pass broke my heart and lifted my soul. It's a firm favourite and I've read it four five six seven times.

Q&A with Nina de Pass

Q&A with Nina de Pass

Can you describe The Year After You in five words?
It’s a book about guilt, grief, forgiveness & second chances – doused in snow.

What inspired you to write the The Year After You?
When I was seventeen, there was a terrible car accident at a nearby school – one that has stayed with me ever since. A girl of my age died; a girl of my age – the driver – survived. I didn’t know those involved personally, yet I have thought about them for over a decade – about what happened, about everything that came after. The Year After You is not about that accident – that’s not my story to tell – but the events in the novel are underpinned by a car crash. For years I had been thinking about the aftermath of such a tragedy and the complex relationship between guilt and grief – how do you reconcile yourself to a life without someone you love, when you feel responsible for their death?

In terms of creating the setting, when designing the school that my main character Cara is sent to in the book, I was inspired by the image of Wes Andersen’s iconic The Grand Budapest Hotel, the snowy landscape from snippets of old James Bond films and the winter scenes from The Night Manager BBC TV series. Winter is my favourite season, and the image in the opening scene of the book – a perilous journey up winding, icy roads to Cara’s new school – became stuck in my head.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
Oh, that’s easy: Hector. I loved writing him – to me, he’s bright and engaging, and not totally straight-forward. I’m not sure it would be the most relaxing cuppa, but it certainly wouldn’t be boring!

How do you think you would cope if you were dropped into Cara's story?
That’s an interesting question. I would hope that I, like Cara, would find it within me to open up to the new people I met at Hope Hall. If I found friends like Ren, Hector and Fred, I hope I’d find a way through to the other side like Cara does.

Are you a planner or a pantser?
Hmm… A bit of both, I think. A huge part of the joy of writing for me is seeing where things go and being creative and imaginative as I write. I used to hate planning essays at school – I just wanted to get on with it! – and I feel the same about writing novels. That said, I don’t usually start writing if I don’t know in what direction the story is going. I have markers throughout – I know where I have to get to, or what has to happen, and then I just write as I go.

What is your favourite thing about writing?
I love stories; I love creating new characters. Sitting down and writing the first draft of a novel is always my favourite part. The page is a blank canvas and the possibilities are endless

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
The Year After You is coming out in the US and Canada at the end of March, so that’s my big focus at the moment and something I am very over-excited about. I am also working on a couple of new projects and have lots of ideas spinning around my head – that’s all I can say for now!


So there we have it, my Q&A with the wonderful Nina de Pass. And both gorgeous covers, for the UK and US editions. Check out my Five Favourite Quotes from The Year After You by Nina de Pass and read my fan-girling book review. It's an incredible book, and I hope you pick it up.

Have you read The Year After You by Nina de Pass?

14 February 2020

Book Beginnings: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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 The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon cover
The stranger came out of the sea like a water ghost, barefoot and wearing the scars of his journey.
I have been putting this book off for a while. A long while. I've had it since it came out. I'm taking part in the Series Crackdown 9.0 Readathon for the next week-ish and this is my first read and team read. It'll also tick off three prompts on the bingo board, yay.

First off I love the cover. It's stunning and vibrant and so intricate. There are small illustrations on chapter pages too, and some gorgeous maps. Everything I love in fantasy!

I mean... Wow. That's a first line. So much mystery already, and I love the writing style. I am excited.
When she has bene banished, Kalyba had fled to a part of the forest she had names the Bower of Enternity. It was said that she had put an enchantment on it that tricked the eyes.
This is from roughly 56% through the books. As it's a mammoth 800+ pages this is fairly far. Having just started this book today I am nowhere near this far through.

I have no idea of the context for this, but I am excited to reach it. Dramatic.

What are you reading this week?

12 February 2020

Series Crackdown 9.0 Readathon

Series Crackdown is a 10-day long readathon where you attempt to read those unread series on your bookshelf, between Friday 14th – Sunday 23rd February 2020.

I'm going to be using this readathon to try and tackle the books on my shelves that I already own and have not read yet, so I'll be joining the Beasts team lead by Jemima Osborne and reading the team book The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon because it's been sat on my TBR since it came out.

As for the other books, I've no idea. I guess I'll just scan my shelves and pick based on my mood, and ask people on Twitter for recommendations.

Series Crackdown 9.0 Readathon

The Prompts

One book can tick off up to three prompts, and I'll be using the Team Read The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon to fulfill three of them. Because fantasy, has gorgeous maps in it, and is first in a series.
  • First Book in a Series
  • Sequel
  • Gathering dust on your shelf
  • Includes a Map
  • Recommended by a friend
  • Fantasy
  • Read with a warm drink
  • 5-Star Author
Check out Mel at The Book Moo's blog for all of the details.

Will you be taking part?

10 February 2020

BlogTour: Book Review: The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo *AD - Gifted

St. Martin's sent me a review copy of The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo ahead of the blog tour. 

The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo coverAdd to Goodreads button
During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare's lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

Alyssa Palombo's captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy's most infamous families--the Borgias.

Source: Digital review copy

5 Word Review: Family, secrets, ambition, obligation, power.

I am a bit conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I loved the story. On the other, I hated the characters. But I think that I enjoyed the story itself so thoroughly that I could look past the characters.

With the characters, I generally liked Cesare and Maddalena to being with. It was once they met that I started to dislike the two of them. I didn't have much love for the secondary and supporting characters either. What I loved about Maddalena, her devotion and naivety, seemed to be pretty quickly tossed aside, and I thought that was such a shame. And I definitely wasn't expecting the steamier scenes in the book!

The story though? It's glorious. There is plotting and intrigue and secrets and lies and power plays. I loved the descriptions of the places and the clothing, the historical setting really came alive for me. I loved all of the little details, the intricate strategies and dramas.

Overall I loved the story, but my dislike of the characters was definitely a personal preference thing. I'd recommend this to anyone who's a fan of political intrigue and steamy romance.

08 February 2020

Blog Tour: Book Review: Witness X by SE Moorhead *AD - Gifted

Trapeze sent me a review copy of Witness X by SE Moorhead ahead of the blog tour. 

Witness X by SE Moorhead coverAdd to Goodreads button
From one of the most original new voices in fiction comes a startling vision of a world where hero Kyra must fight the past to save our future. A genre-bending thriller for the Netflix generation, for fans of Altered Carbon, Dark and Mindhunter.

She's the only one who can access the truth...

Fourteen years ago, the police caged a notorious serial killer who abducted and butchered two victims every February. He was safe behind bars. Wasn't he?

But then another body is discovered, and soon enough, the race is on to catch the real killer. Neuropsychologist Kyra Sullivan fights to use a new technology that accesses the minds of the witnesses, working with the police to uncover the truth. Will Kyra discover the person behind the murders, and if so, at what cost? And how far will she go to ensure justice is served?

An addictive futuristic thriller, perfect for fans of Stranger Things.

Source: Review copy | Blog Tour

5 Words Review: Crime, truth, deception, morality, justice.

When I heard this book as being described as Silence of the Lambs meet Blade Runner, I was intrigued. I requested it straight away. And I was not disappointed by the comparison.

Witness X is tense and chilling and shocking. It's a compelling and thrilling read, and I could not stop turning the pages to find out what would happen next. And more than that, it's something that feels very possible and real. This book ticked all of the boxes for me when it came to both sci-fi ad crime, and I loved it. There was the grittiness and mystery of crime, the possibilities of the future, and the way they came together was great.

I loved Kyra. I loved her strength of conviction, her stubbornness, her morality. She was so determined to do the right thing, always. She has a strong moral compass even if her business partner is a bit of a snake.

At times the story had me physically bouncing up and down, it was so bloody tense. If I still bit my nails my finger tips would have been bleeding. My partner watched my anxious reading, and when I was finished he started reading it himself.

I definitely want more of this story and this world. I really hope that this is the start of a series because it's something special.

07 February 2020

Book Beginnings: Wranglestone by Darren Charlton *AD - Gifted

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 Wranglestone by Darren Charlton (gifted copy).
Wranglestone by Darren Charlton cover

Peter was born into a world of unwelcome visitors. And winter on Lake Wranglestone sure as hell was one of them. 
I was sent a free finished copy of Wranglestone by Darren Charlton after I requested it from the publisher, and it released yesterday. I am very excited to start this queer zombie thriller.

The cover is gorgeous and isolated and cold, and I love the small flash of red, like a warning. There's a map of the layout of the islands on Wranglestone lake which is great for orientating myself.

I love these first lines - it introduces the setting as almost a character in itself and makes the feelings of the narrator very clear. I think it's an excellent start.
The bottom step hovered about five feet above the line of the water to stop wolves and lynx from getting up the watchtower when the lake was frozen.
This is from page 56 in my finished copy.

This isn't far into the book and I'm still getting the feel of it.I love how nature is very much at the forefront of the story. There is desperation on almost every page.

I am really enjoying Wranglestone by Darren Charlton, I feel like it's one I'll struggle to put down.

What are you reading this week?

05 February 2020

Five Favourite Quotes from The Beholder by Anna Bright

I was pretty excited when I picked up The Beholder by Anna Bright. I received it in May 2019's Unlikely Romances themed Fairyloot box and then read it the next month for the readalong and when I couldn't resist the cover any longer. I absolutely adored reading this book.

Today I'm sharing my five favourite quotes from this beautiful slow burn, and I'd like to see them plastered across all kinds of merch please.

The Beholder by Anna Bright cover

Today I'm sharing my five favourite quotes.

He'd left me burning brighter than the candles.
Now I just felt burned.
My heart was a burning star, singeing my lungs, setting fire to my nerves.
Was it my fault, really, that my chest couldn't hold it?
My heart was a lit candle, a forest fire, a burning star.
I think the powerful would love less the fruits of violence if they had to deal it out by hand.
I was straw in a breath of wind. I was glass shattered on stone. I was the soft red flesh of a heart, vulnerable to every sharp thing in its path.

Hopefully these quotes will convince you to read The Beholder by Anna Bright, but if you need another push then check out my spoiler free review.