The Almost King by Lucy Saxon

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Title: The Almost King
Author: Lucy Saxon
Series: Take Back the SKies #2
Edition: Digital ARC, 400 Pages
Publication Details: June 2nd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre(s): YA; Steampunk
Disclosure? Yep! I was provided with a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads// Purchase


In the second book in this sprawling saga, Aleks is the youngest of four brothers, each with his future predictably mapped out. But Aleks wants more than a life in his father’s shop. So when he hears his parents worrying about money, he decides to save them the cost of his keep by running away.

Aleks joins the army—but when that doesn’t answer his problems, he breaks the law and deserts. Wanted and alone, he heads north, where he stumbles into love, adventure, and a skyship he might be able to call home . . . if he can evade the soldiers pursuing him.

Prepare for another sweeping adventure by nineteen-year-old Lucy Saxon in a series that seamlessly blends genre elements and a compelling contemporary voice.

Review

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Take Back the Skies considering the very mixed reviews it got, and I knew I’d need to continue with the series after a surprising, infuriating ending, so I was pretty thrilled to get approved for the second book.

The Almost King is set in the same world, but isn’t a continuation on Cat’s story,to my dismay. I was dying to know what that crazy ending was all about, but nooooooo!

However,The Almost King is about Aleks, the youngest boy in a large family who feels like he’s always in his older brother’s shadow and wants to do something that will set him aside from them.

Alexs’ solution is to join the military, which we know from Take Back the Skies is not as it seems.

I’m gonna throw it out there, the start of this book was written terribly. It was wooden, felt disjointed and was just very writing 101. I had expected the first book to be like that but it wasn’t, so I was really disappointed that this one was.

But saying that, it got much better after a chapter or two, and I really enjoyed it. I longed for it to meet up where the first book left off but I think it’s kind of more intriguing that it didn’t.

So all in all, I found this book to be a mixed bag, but I’ll deffo be looking forward to the next instalment.

unicorn rating 3

This Week in Books 27.05.2015

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week.

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Now: The Quality of Silence ~ Rosamund Lupton // The Testimony of a Hanged Man ~ Ann Granger

It took me a while to adjust to the switching perspectives in The Quality of Silence, but enjoying it now. I’m still going on my lunch-time read The Testimony of a Hanged Man too.

Then: Charlie, Presumed Dead ~ Anne Heltzel

I didn’t quite love this one, but it had one hell of an ending. My review will be up on Monday, prior to release on Tuesday.

Next: ???

I’ll be making a start on my holiday reads which I posted about yesterday. First up is The Almost King by Lucy Saxon

New on the Wishlist

Linking up with Friday Finds hosted by A Daily Rhythm

I added Uprooted by Naomi Novik to my wishlist after seeing Tammy’s great review on Books, Bones & Buffy.

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Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

New on the Shelf

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews) and Friday Finds hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Purchased: I bought the following books this week, specifically for my holiday next week. YAY!

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The Ring of Morgana (Daughter of Camelot #1) ~ Donna Hosie
Cruel Summer ~ James Dawson

Netgalley: I broke my no Netgalley requests pact and was approved for Beneath the Lake by Christopher Ransom, which is also on my summer reading list now.

I’m Waiting on…

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

The Wolf Wilder ~ Kathryn Rundell

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How beautiful is that cover!?

Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

Expected publication: September 9th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s

So, that’s my week in books, now how about yours?

If you still do a similar WWW post (or just want to join in, leave your link/answers in the comments, OR why not tweet using #ThisWeekInBooks, and I’ll come and visit!

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: Ten Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer or Ten Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads.

I’m actually going on holiday next week (whoooop) to Mallorca, Spain and plan on doing a lot of reading on the beach. So here are the books I plan on taking, and the rest I hope to read over the summer.

Click on the images for Goodreads

1. The Almost King ~ Lucy Saxon

This is my next ARC review deadline which I’ll probably be late on. I plan on finishing it and writing up a quick review while I’m away.

almostkingAleks Vasin is the youngest of four brothers, each with his path mapped out. But Aleks doesn’t want to work in his father’s shop and live with his family in a village in the westernmost corner of Siberene. And when he hears his parents fretting about money, he decides to save them the cost of his keep and leave.

First he heads south – though everyone tells him not to – to Rudavin, headquarters of the kingsguard, and he signs up for the army, little knowing what brutality it entails. After only a few weeks, Aleks realizes that this garrison is full of liars and thieves; he’s signed away four years of his life to a commander who steals his money and a captain who’s already hurt Aleks’s beloved horse. This is not a noble destiny.

After a brutal beating, Aleks escapes, hoping to find safety and a new life somewhere in the north. And there, this deserter finds love, adventure, and a skyship in which he might just prove himself a hero after all – if he can evade the soldiers who seek to capture him.

Prepare for another sweeping adventure in this second book in a unique six-book series. Each book is set in a different land within the Tellus world, with repeating characters and related, nonlinear storylines that combine to create a one-of-a-kind, addictive reading experience.

2. Cruel Summer ~ James Dawson

I bought this especially for my holiday. I’ve been wanting to read James Dawson’s work for ages – this will be my first!

cruelsummerA year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Janey was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…

A compelling and psychological thriller – with a dash of romance.

3. The Bones of You ~ Debbie Howells

I have an ARC of this book which is released at the end of June. I’m hoping to get a head-start on it while I’m away.

bonesofyouWhen Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.

4. Beneath the Lake ~ Christopher Ransom

Again, this is another ARC I’m hoping to get a head-start on. This one isn’t due out until September. I really enjoyed Ransom’s debut The Birthing House, but his later books were a bit of a disappointment. I hope this one is a return to form. He has great potential as a horror writer!

beneaththelakeThirty Years Ago…

On a camping trip by a remote lake, the Mercer family enjoyed the vacation of a lifetime – until a violent tragedy forced them to make a decision that would haunt them for ever.

This Summer…

When the younger Mercers learn their father is dying, the family reunites at the lake, seeking a second chance to put their lives back together. But something is waiting . . .

Four Days of Hell…

Also arriving at the lake are estranged son Raymond Mercer and an alluring stranger, Megan, both ignorant of the family’s secrets. Within hours, they are all trapped in a relentless nightmare and fighting for their lives.

Some places are better left. Some secrets are better forgotten. Some people are better dead.

5. Fearless ~ Devon Hartford

I’ve had a copy of this for well over a year. I figure it would be a good trashy beach read…

fearlessAfter moving from stuffy Washington D.C. to laid back San Diego, Samantha Smith hopes to shed her troubled past and reinvent herself as a freshman at San Diego University.

Her parents are pressuring her to major in Accounting, because it’s the safe thing to do. But Samantha really wants to try something more adventurous, and secretly dreams of ditching the business major to study Art instead.

When she crosses paths with a handsome tattoo-clad bad boy, her life is turned upside down, and Samantha finds herself with more adventure than she ever dreamed possible.

7. The Ring of Morgana ~ Donna Hosie

I finally got round to buying a copy of this. I love modern day Arthurian books!

ringofmorganaSixteen-year-old Mila Roth wants to be normal. It’s a phrase that has been drilled into her by her mother since she was born.

But Mila Roth is anything but normal. For sixteen years her parents have hidden a secret from her. For Mila was born one thousand years ago in the land of Logres, and far from being a math teacher and a housewife, Mila’s parents are the awakened King Arthur and Gorian druid queen, Morgana.

Two worlds, one thousand years apart. And those worlds are about to collide.

The spirit of the malevolent Lady of the Lake has been contained for sixteen years in the fabled Ring of Morgana. When the ring curses Mila’s younger sister, Lilly, the Roth family has no choice but to return Mila to the land of her birth as they face a battle against time itself.

Accompanied by her best friend, Rustin, Mila will have to decide whether to defy those she loves in order to save her sister. Should she trust the Gorian druids and the mysterious Melehan? What is the true cost to Mila’s heart as she strives to master the purple flame? And why have her mother and father denied the truth of her origins for so long?

For she alone has the combined power of royalty and druid magic within her.

And now only Mila can save Lilly and Logres.

In this brand new series, Donna Hosie revisits Logres with THE CHILDREN OF CAMELOT.

9. Deer in Headlights ~ Staci Hart

This is another one that I’ve had for way over a year but not yet picked up. I think this would make a good summer read though so I’m hoping to finally get round to it this summer.

deerinheadlightsAphrodite never loses, not when it comes to love.

Immortality has its perks and its downsides. Boredom, for one, is unavoidable, but instead of playing parcheesi, the gods devised a game that uses humans as pawns. Remember Shakespeare? That was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite versus Ares.

Aphrodite is on deck once again, and she’ll defend her domain of love as she works to get the humans together before the clock runs out, while her opponent tries to keep them apart.

Game one is against Apollo, and Aphrodite knows she has her work cut out for her when he chooses Dean, a brooding rock star man-whore who believes women can’t be trusted. Aphrodite decides on Lex, a perfect match for Dean, even though her heart is guarded, locked away tight. She’d never let anyone in. Not ever. Of course, she hasn’t met Dean.

But there’s always more at stake than just the game when you’ve lived for thousands of years. The Olympians are the original dysfunctional family, surviving eons of love and lust, betrayal and lies, as friends and enemies, through feuds and wars. From Ares, the douchebag, who’s forever trying to start a fight and get Aphrodite into bed, to Persephone, her best friend, who she can always count on for a healthy helping of bacon on a bad day, the gods will take you on a lighthearted trip as they mess with humans, laugh and fight, lose love and gain power.

9. In Your Face ~ Scarlett Thomas

I love a good light-hearted crime caper in the summer months, and this one is by one of my favourite authors. I finally found a second-hand copy a couple of weeks ago.

inyourfaceLily has received a phone call from Jess who has written a feature on three women who were victims of stalking-and on the day of publication, all three woman were found dead. Lily arrives to find Jess missing and has left behind a mysterious trail of clues.

In Your Face is the second instalment of acclaimed British author, Scarlett Thomas’ Lily Pascale mystery series.

10. There is no Dog ~ Meg Rosoff

I’ve already decided that this will be my plane read, and the only print book I’m going to take on holiday. I just can’t not take one, Kindle or no Kindle!

thereisnodogMeet your unforgettable protagonist: God, who, as it turns out, is a 19-year-old boy living in the present-day and sharing an apartment with his long-suffering fifty-something personal assistant. Unfortunately for the planet, God is lazy and, frankly, hopeless. He created all of the world’s species in six days because he couldn’t summon the energy to work for longer. He gets Africa and America mixed up. And his beleagured assistant has his work cut out for him when God creates a near-apolcalyptic flood, having fallen asleep without turning the bath off.

There is No Dog is a darkly funny novel from one of our most delightfully unpredictable writers.

What books are you planning on reading this summer?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

So guys, it’s the big one this week. The topic is: The Top Ten Books I Read In 2014. I can’t believe I’m compiling this list already. How it is nearly the end of the year!??

Anyway, here goes…in descending order for the EXCITMENTZ!

10. DIVERGENT – Veronica Roth

DIVI often forget how much I loved this book. I still haven’t finished the series though. And don’t even get me started on the movie!

Goodreads
Review

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

9. TAKE BACK THE SKIES – Lucy Saxon

take This book got some bad reviews but I don’t know why – I loved it!

Goodreads
Review

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .

8. VAMPIRE ACADEMY – Richelle Mead

345627 I can’t believe it took me this long to start this series. It was so much better than I expected. I read books 1-3 in 2014, but the first one was definitely the best.

Goodreads
Review

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

7. POISON – Chris Wooding

w1 I still haven’t reviewed this one! Slap my wrist. I had never heard of this book or the author for that matter, until one of my friends told me I had to read it. I can’t believe it had passed me by for so long.

Goodreads

Poison has always been a willful, contrary girl, prone to being argumentative and stubborn. So when her sister is snatched by the mean-spirited faeries, she seeks out the Phaerie Lord to get her back.
But finding him isn’t easy, and the quest leads Poison into a murderous world of intrigue, danger, and deadly storytelling. With only her wits and her friends to aid her, Poison must survive the attentions of the Phaerie Lord, rescue her sister, and thwart a plot that’s beyond anything she (or the reader) can imagine. . . .

6. SCARLET – Marissa Meyer

www1 I loved the second book in the Lunar Chronicles almost as much as the first. Favourite series of the year by far!

Goodreads
Review

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

5. BURIAL RITES – Hannah Kent

burial Iceland. Murder. An execution. Amazing.

Goodreads
Review

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

4. THE ONE – Kiera Cass

15844362 I was so sad when this series came to end…but now there’s going to be more. Squeal!!

Goodreads
Review

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

3. SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE – Marcus Sedgwick

siniI loved Sedgwick before this. I love him even more now. I will read anything he writes!

Goodreads
Review

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

2. OF SCARS AND STARDUST – Andrea Hannah

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I didn’t know what to expect from this and it just blew me away!

Goodreads
Review

After her little sister mysteriously vanishes, seventeen-year-old Claire Graham has a choice to make: stay snug in her little corner of Manhattan with her dropout boyfriend, or go back to Ohio to face the hometown tragedy she’s been dying to leave behind.

But the memories of that night still haunt her in the city, and as hard as she tries to forget what her psychiatrist calls her “delusions,” Claire can’t seem to escape the wolf’s eyes or the blood-speckled snow. Delusion or reality, Claire knows she has to hold true to the most important promise she’s ever made: to keep Ella safe. She must return to her sleepy hometown in order to find Ella and keep her hallucinations at bay before they strike again. But time is quickly running out, and as Ella’s trail grows fainter, the wolves are becoming startlingly real.

Now Claire must deal with her attraction to Grant, the soft-spoken boy from her past that may hold the secret to solving her sister’s disappearance, while following the clues that Ella left for only her to find. Through a series of cryptic diary entries, Claire must unlock the keys to Ella’s past—and her own—in order to stop another tragedy in the making, while realizing that not all things that are lost are meant to be found.

1. CINDER by Marissa Meyer

11235712 (1) It just has to be. So. Much. Yes!!!

Goodreads
Review

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I’m especially looking forward to seeing what made everyone’s lists this week. Even if I’m a bit later to the party!

YALC UK 2014 – Day One

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At the weekend my friend Dora and I attended the UK’s first ever Young Adult Literature Convention which took place as part of London’s Film & TV Comic Con at Earl’s Court (more details here). It was amazing and manic and painful all at the same time. But totally worth it.

Here’s my run-down of day one:

I had been a bad friend and hadn’t booked the advanced tickets in time so we had to go and queue to buy tickets on Saturday morning. We got there at about 9am, slightly hungover and very tired from a late-night outdoor Labyrinth screening the night before.

When we saw the queue we wanted to cry. It was so busy, and unorganised, and the closer we got to the door, the more people were trying to push in. The Rage set in. But we amused ourselves by admiring all of the costumes, and there was a nice man and his seven year old Spiderman son in front of us who were lovely.

There were also some guys promoting the new book by Joe Abercrombie, ( which is on my wishlist) by giving people rides on their Viking Wheelbarrow which was amusing.

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After just over 2 1/2 hours, a lot of standing, and some sunburn later, we made it inside. And oh holy hell, it was not a good place to be with a hangover. People EVERYWHERE. Hot, sticky and no air. But luckily we had the forefront to ask the guy on box office where the YALC area was so we knew where to aim for – otherwise we may never have found it. It was worse than trying to get to the barrier at a festival.

The good news is that we made it, and there was a bit more breathing space that end. The bad news was that we’d missed the first talk were hoping to attend, The On-going Appeal of Dystopia. Instead we collected tickets for the other talks that were available and checked out all the book swag, and the publisher’s area including the Hot Key Books’ book swap which was a genius idea.

Going Graphic: From Novels to Graphic Novels

With Ian Edgington, Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli and Sarah McIntyre

 
The first talk we attended was one that we actually weren’t too bothered about initially, we just wanted to sit down to be honest but I’m so glad we went, it was great. Sarah McIntyre chaired the event in an awesome cosplay and discussed the process of adapting a novel into a graphic novel.

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Marcus Sedgwick was the only one on the panel whose work I was familiar with, and I’d been wanting to get a hold of his graphic novel Dark Satanic Mills for ages, so it was lovely to hear him discuss his experience of writing it, compared to writing a novel.

Emma Vieceli, was full of enthusiasm for her work on illustrating The Vampire Academy graphic novels (which I really, really want now!) and talked about her new web-comic Brakes which she has written as well as illustrated.

It was really interesting to hear the panel talk about how to turn classics such as Pride and Prejudice and War and Peace into a graphic novel.

After the talk I wanted to buy a copy of Emma’s Vampire Academy but they didn’t have it, however both Dora and I bought one of her Manga Shakespeare books (we’re easily converted) and headed over to Emma’s signing table to get them signed. She was so lovely. I couldn’t resist telling her what a good job she’d done with Dimitri – Manga Dimitri is so hot, you guys.

We also headed to Marcus Sedgwick’s signing, and he was the nicest man ever. He chatted away to Dora about Poland (where she’s from) as he’d lived there for a while, and was planning on taking his partner there this summer. I got my favourite book by him signed, and he drew a coffin in it – he knows me so well already!

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Bring me my Dragons: Writing Fantasy Today

With Frances Hardinge, Amy McCulloch, Jonathan Stroud and Ruth Warburton, chaired by Marc Aplin

 
We didn’t actually have tickets for this talk but we got back just as they were finishing the introductions and there were still some spare seats so we sat down. After that I’m not really sure what happened to be honest. There seemed to be a lot tangents going on, and definitely no talk of dragons. The early start and sunburn perhaps got the better of me.

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Heroes of Horror

With Charlie Higson, Will Hill, Derek Landy and Darren Shan, chaired by Rosie Fletcher

 
Thankfully we managed to perk up for the final talk, because two of my favourite British writers were on the panel – Darren Shan and Derek Landy, and it was hilarious as well as interesting!

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A lot of the discussion revolved around how much is too much in YA Horror. And the answer? You can get away with anything, apart from decapitating mothers! Both Landy and Shan also discussed the beauty of publishing long series and how you grow as a writer, alongside your characters, from book 1 to book 12.

Random Happenings:

  • I knew Rainbow Rowell was popular but woah! Her signing queue was INSANE. They were everywhere, and most people had like four books to sign. Crazy!
  • I really wanted to go and talk to Lucy Saxon who didn’t have anyone in her signing queue when we got there, but I couldn’t justify buying another book. I really enjoyed her book Take Back the Skies, despite the ending, and she looked awesome, but it’s not really the done thing is it…just walking up for a chat with nothing to get signed!?
  • I was proper fangirling over the fact that Juliet Landau (Drusilla from Buffy) was there, and half way through the day they set up a place for Anthony Head (GILES) next to her but he was never there 😦 I was totally willing to spend £20 to talk to him. GILES!!
  • While we were waiting for the first talk, Stan Lee walked past us to get to his Photo Shoot area. It was pretty cool.

Don’t worry if you missed YALC, look out for my post of Day 2, and I’ll also be posting a gallery and links to the best news coverage of the event – you’ll feel like you were there by the end of it.

WWW Wednesday! 11.06.2014

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m pretty much back on track with ARCs and reviews and things, so whooooop for that! Here are my answers for this week:

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Currently Reading: I finally, finally, Finally got my copy of The One and it’s going too quickly. I don’t want it to end!

Recently Finished: I finished The Apple Tart of Hope and Take Back the Skies this week. I loved them both! Click on the links if you want to read my reviews.

Up Next: Now this is a hard one. I have some author review books I really need to start but I’m going up north at the weekend so will need to take a paperback with me (no, I don’t do Kindles). I have Burial Rites, Cress, Vampire Academy #3 and many more to choose from….how to choose!!

I think Burial Rites is too serious for me to pick up and down so I think I’m leaning towards Cress (it’s been too long a wait already!)

Link me to your post, so I can see what you’ve been up to! 🙂

(Out Today!) Skyships, Pickpockets, and a Whole Lot of Lies…

take
Title: Take Back the Skies
Series: Take Back the Skies #1
Author: Lucy Saxon
Edition: e-book, 496 pages
Published: June 5th 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Steampunk
Disclosure? Yep, I received a copy via the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

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Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Take Back the Skies. I’d read a few unfavourable reviews, and found out that the author is only 19, 16 when she started writing the novel, which I realise I shouldn’t let sway me before even opening the book, but of course it does!

Then I started reading, and it was good. Really good! I was hoping to skim-read it because I’ve fallen behind on ARCS/reviews lately, but I found that I didn’t want to skim it at all, I wanted to savour it.

Take Back the Skies is a fast-paced, well written, fantasy-adventure. Protagonist Cat, is a loveable, head-strong character who I instantly felt invested in.

We follow her as she runs away from her snobbish, government father who wants to marry her off for status, to the skyship Stormdancer where she meets a colourful array of characters who soon become Cat’s family. Once in the skies, it quickly becomes apparent that things in Anglya and the surrounding islands are not as they seem. The war seems to have ended, so why are all the teenagers being ‘collected’ to go to war? Where are they?

Seriously guys, I really loved this. There was a lot of action and intrigue, and I think the world Saxon built is great. There was a lot of characterisation too, so even though Cat hadn’t known the crew of the Stormdancer very long, it felt OK how close they became. There is a cute romance between Cat and Fox, a hot orphan who likes to get his guns out – in both senses of the word – but it did start to feel a bit Twilight-y on some occasions where Fox was telling Cat that he’s no good for her and she should choose another. And also Cat thinking that he couldn’t possibly like her. Yawn.

Once they’d gotten over that though, and decided to be together, I liked that it wasn’t all Cat thought about. There was no ‘omg he kissed me and it felt amazing and I want to touch him all the time’, it was pretty much wham, bam, thank you maam (they’re wasn’t actually any ‘bamming’, don’t get your hopes up).

Cat, Fox and the rest of the Stormdancer crew were intent on outing the government and finding out what was happening to all the kids, and once they do, there’s definitely a sense of look what you’ve got yourselves into. I really enjoyed the conflict between high-society and the commoners, and the sinister operations of the government – I wasn’t expecting that plot at all.

However, I can’t wrap this up without talking about the ending. No spoilers I promise, but it was just bad. End of. There was no need for the Epilogue at all, nothing was resolved, and I only hope that the outcome makes more sense in the second book.

I’m tempted to give it 3 Unicorns just because of the ending, but the rest of it was so good, so I won’t. Any book that makes me GASP deserves 4 Unicorns.

unicorn rating 4

Take Back the Skies is available from Waterstones in Limited 1st Edition Hardback, and Paperback from today.