31 December 2010

TOR'S JANUARY 2011 FANTASY RELEASES

For those of you interested in Fantasy, Tor have given a list of 'January Releases for Fantasy' (click for link).

Fiction Affliction is a monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that examines upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre including fantasy, young adult paranormal, and science fiction. The following are  new releases in FANTASY. I've added links to Goodreads as well as Suzanne Johnson's summaries.


The Soul Mirror, by Carol Berg (Jan. 4, Roc)
In a royal city beset by hauntings, avian plagues and strange sinkholes that swallow light and buildings, whispers of necromancy swirl about the queen’s volatile sorcerer. Scholarly, reclusive Anne de Vernase rejoices that she lacks magical talent since her father’s pursuit of illicit sorcery left her family in ruins. But a plague of murders compels Anne to investigate matters beyond science—a centuries-old rivalry, the boundaries of death, and the most dangerous sorcerer in Sabria. Second in the Collegia Magica trilogy.

Of Truth and Beasts (Noble Dead), by Barb Hendee and JC Hendee (Jan. 4, Roc)
In the newest Noble Dead outing, young Journeyor Wynn Hygeorht finds herself cast into the wilds on a dangerous quest for knowledge that may instead lead to her doom. This is the third book of Noble Dead, Series Two. The first book of Series Three is scheduled for release in January 2012.

Spellweaver, by Lynn Kurland (Jan. 4, Berkley)
Lynn Kurland returns to the Nine Kingdoms for another story of magical romance. Ruith had long managed to ignore the magic in his veins, until aiding Sarah with her ill-fated quest forced him into places where his heritage was impossible to deny. Faced with an ever-increasing number of enemies who covet his power, Ruith must accept his birthright and gather his father’s spells so he can destroy them—or turn away and allow his father’s evil to overcome the Nine Kingdoms. Romance alert!

House Name, by Michelle West (Jan. 4, DAW)
The House War series centers on the most popular character in The Sun Sword series—a young woman named Jewel who survives both the everyday perils of being an orphan in the slums of the city of Averalaan and the demonic dangers of the Undercity. She rises to become a key figure in House Terafin, the most important of the Ten Houses of the Essalieyan Empire. At the close of The Sun Sword series, the House War is about to begin. Now the war begins.

The Hammer, by K.J. Parker (Jan. 5, Orbit)
Gignomai is the youngest brother in the current generation of met’Oc, a once-noble family exiled on an island for its role in a vaguely remembered civil war. On this island, a colony was founded seventy years ago to mine silver. Now, an uneasy peace exists between the colonists and the met’Oc, who are tolerated since they alone possess the weapons considered necessary protection against the island’s savages. Gignomai is about to discover exactly what it is expected of him, and what it means to defy his family. He is the hammer who will provide the spark that ignites a brutal and bloody war.

Harbinger of the Storm, by Aliette de Bodard (Jan. 25, Angry Robot)
In the second Obsidian and Blood novel, death, magic and intrigue are pervasive in the Aztec world, which teeters on the brink of extinction. As the political infighting starts within the imperial court, Acatl, High Priest for the Dead, makes a macabre discovery in the palace: a high-ranking nobleman has been torn to pieces by an invocation—and it looks like the summoner belongs to the court itself.

The Sentinel Mage, by Emily Gee (Jan. 25, Solaris)
Her magic may be the only thing that can save a prince—and the Seven Kingdoms. In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld of Osgaard, a prince with mages’ blood in his veins. But Prince Harkeld has a bounty on his head, and assassins at his heels. At his side as his armsman is Innis, a gifted shapeshifter posing as a man. Only the magic Harkeld loathes may stand between him and death.

The Warlord’s Legacy, by Ari Marmell (Jan. 25, Spectra)
Corvis Rebaine, the Terror of the East, a man as quick with a quip as he is with a blade, returns in this sequel to The Conqueror’s Shadow. Now Marmell raises the stakes in a story with the humor and action of its predecessor, plus a new villain evil enough to be a match for Rebaine himself, who returns in his trademark suit of black armor and skull-like helm, armed with a demon-forged axe, in command of a demonic slave, and with allies that include a bloodthirsty ogre.

The Sworn, by Gail Z. Martin (Jan. 25, Orbit)
Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to gather an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Tris seeks new allies from among the living and the dead as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle. Meanwhile, the legendary Dread are stirring in their burrows after millennia of silence and no one knows what hand wakes them and whom they will serve when they rise. Now, Drayke turns to the Sworn, a nomadic clan of warriors bound to protect the Dread. But even the mighty Sworn do not know what will happen when the Dread awaken. The Sworn is the beginning of a new adventure set in the world of The Chronicles of the Necromancer.

Heart of the Exiled, by Pati Nagle (Jan. 25, Del Rey)
The Bitter Wars left a world divided. Now the ├Žlven governors convene at Glenhallow, while the savage kobalen gather in numbers not seen in five centuries. Vastly outnumbered, the ├Žlven clans will send barely trained guardians to confront the kobalen, and a young female warrior, Eliani, will be entrusted with the most crucial mission of all: to reach distant Fireshore and learn why their governor has not responded to the call to war. But Eliani cannot see the dark force watching from the Ebon Mountains.

The Griffin’s Flight, by K.J. Taylor (Jan. 25, Ace)
In the newest installment in the Fallen Moon series, Arren Cardockson—brought back to life by a power beyond his understanding—flees for the frozen sanctuary of the North. With the man-eating griffin Skandar by his side and an entire country hunting him, Arren has little hope of reaching the place of his ancestry and of lifting his curse. But then he comes across a wild woman who may hold the key to making his lifeless heart beat once more. Romance alert!

The Executioness, by Tobias S. Buckell (Jan. 31, Subterranean)
In paired novellas both illustrated by J.K. Drummond, Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi explore a shared world where magic is forbidden and its use is rewarded with the axe.
In the The Alchemist: In the beleageured city of Khaim, a lone alchemist seeks a solution to the bramble, a plant that feeds upon magic. It presses upon Khaim, nourished by the furtive spellcasting of its inhabitants and threatening to strangle the city under poisonous vines. Driven by desperation and genius, the alchemist constructs a device that transcends magic, unlocking the mysteries of bramble s essential nature. But the power of his newly-built balanthast is even greater than he dreamed. Where he sought to save a city and its people, the balanthast has the potential to save the world entirely—if it doesn’t destroy him and his family first.
In the The Executioness: In Khaim, the price is your head if you’re found using magic. For the use of magic creates bramble, a creeping menace that has covered majestic ancient cities and felled civilizations. In order to prevent the spread of the bramble, many lose their heads to cloaked executioners such as Tana, who takes the job from her ailing father in secret, desperate to keep her family from starvation. But now her family has been captured by raiders and taken to a foreign city, so Khaim's only female executioner begins a quest to bring her family back together.

Brayan’s Gold, by Peter V. Brett (Jan. 31, Subterranean)
Return to the world of The Warded Man and The Desert Spear in a new novella by Peter V. Brett, illustrated by Lauren K. Cannon. Humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction. A scant few hamlets and half-starved city-states are all that remain of a once-proud civilization, and it is only by hiding behind wards, ancient symbols with the power to repel demons, that they survive. A handful of Messengers keep the lines of communication open between the increasingly isolated populace. Arlen Bales is seventeen, an apprentice Messenger about to go out for the first time on a simple overnight trip. Instead, he finds himself on a frozen mountainside, carrying a dangerous cargo to Count Brayan’s gold mine, one of the furthest points in the duchy.

30 December 2010

HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT THIS YEAR

At the start of every year, many of us make resolutions and goals to help us achieve something new. The tradition goes way back to 153 B.C. when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar. Depicted with two faces, Janus could look back on the past year and forward to the new, and thus became the symbol for New Year resolutions.

In more recent years, our personal goals have often focused on lifestyle changes such as losing weight or getting a new job. Sadly, research has shown that only 12% of us achieve our goals and actually get what we want.

Women succeed 10% more when they make their goals public and get support from their friends, so I've decided to make an image board and share my goals. (In the past I’ve never set resolutions, but this year I want something to work towards).
 If I need motivation, I can look at my collage and visualise what makes me happy and what my goals are.... books (reading and blogging), sushi (I could eat it every day!) and moving jobs.

Have you made any resolutions or personal goals for the new year?

27 December 2010

IN SANTA'S SACK

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and got to spend time with your friends and family.

I'm spending a few days back in Cardiff with all my family. There's 7 of us all squeezed in together which can be a tad trying - don't get me wrong, I love my family - but as they say, everything in moderation! Thank goodness Santa brought me some lovely pressies to help me catch up on some great reads. It means I can escape off for a bit of peace as I read 'Soulless'!

Did you get any books in your Christmas sack?

23 December 2010

LITTLE BUNDLES OF JOY

In the run up till Christmas, I just love buying people presents. But I think I love wrapping them even more. Last year, I bought some stamps (the old fashioned ink kind) and since then I have personalised all the gift wrapping/labels I use. I just love seeing presents all wrapped and pretty ready for someone to receive.

I always hope that my family like the presents Ive bought them – I try to put thought into my gifts, but often my family tell me what they want. I don’t mind this, as I know they are getting something they want, but you lose that feeling of excitement which we all had as kids tearing away at the paper not knowing what might be inside. So I try to buy a few small surprises as well.


Which do you enjoy more...buying presents / wrapping them / watching people open them / receiving gifts from others?

19 December 2010

WRITING SUBMISSIONS & COMPETITIONS

Occasionally, but not often enough, I put pen to paper to try and write my own YA/fantasy stories. I have submitted a short story for one competition, but think that in 2011 I really should practice my writing skills more. Competitions can be a good way to motivate myself to write, as often the stories only need to be short in length and have prize giveaways too. So far I’ve found the following places that run short story writing competitions:

§   London School of Journalism
§   Mslexia (although you have to pay to enter)
§   Red Dress Club
§   British Fantasy Society

If you know anywhere else that runs similar writing competitions, let me know so I can add it to my list.

16 December 2010

WHAT MAKES A GOOD REVIEW?

When I was back in school, we were given the task of writing a review for a TV programme we liked. My review then was pretty poor, and got some bad feedback from the teacher. Sadly I doubt my review writing skills have improved much since then.

As there so many great book bloggers and book reviewers, I thought it would be good to get some advice on what to cover in a review. I would look at some of the following areas as a starting point:




* General Information: Title, author, copyright date, publisher, and genre.
* Plot summary
* Themes/issues explored
* Characters
* Style
* Star rating, and my reasoning behind the decision.


Are there other things you like to read in a review, or areas I have missed out?

14 December 2010

PLOT SUSPENSE

I recently read a book where I could already guess what would happen at the end and who the ‘bad guy’ was, long before the actually end of the story. At first I felt triumphant at my cleverness (apologies for my lack of modesty), but then felt quite perturbed that the second half of the book held no new revelations for me.


As it the mystery and suspense in a storyline that helps keep us reading, I started thinking...


HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT A BOOK WHEN YOU CAN GUESS
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE END?

From the point of view of the writer, should there be more twists and turns etc to stop the reader from guessing exactly what will happen?



Thoughts please...

11 December 2010

BOOK BLOGGER HOP

This week I decided I should catch up on some old series' that I never got around to reading before ... The Night World series by LJ Smith and The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine. So I've just finished reading 'Book Two: The Dead Girls' Dance' and started reading 'Volume 2: Dark Angel, The Chosen and Soulmate'. I still haven't figured out whether I actually like The Morganville Vampires series. I don't know why exactly, but there's nothing that really makes me want to keep reading the series. Maybe I don't feel that much attachment to the main character Claire....anyone else love the series, or not that bothered by it?

I'm excited about another book I've got... 'Metamorphosis' by Ola Laniyan-Amoako. I've looked it up on Goodreads but as of yet there aren't any reviews, ratings or even a synopsis. It's nice to find a book that hasn't been splashed on every blog, so I won't have formed an expectation of it before I even read it. So I figure I will review it and be the first to post on Goodreads :)


And finally over to this week's Book Blogger Hop - which is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books.
The Hop is a fantastic way to find other cool blogs that you didn't know about before, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! If you want to join, visit Jenn at Crazy-for-Books!!

This week's question comes from Angela at 'Library Book Reads':

"WHAT IS THE THING YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT READING BOOK BLOGS?
IS IT THE REVIEWS, AUTHOR GUEST POSTS, ARTICLES, GIVEAWAYS,
OR SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY?"


Ok, I finally have to admit...I often skip over reviews without reading the whole thing. I know I should be getting an idea of whether the book sounds like something I would want to read and judge whether I should go buy it, but at the same time I don't want to be influenced by others' ideas on books. I don't mind reading the review after I've read the book, to see what others think then. Sounds silly, I know, but what can I say.... But what I really like is seeing what books are coming up, finding out more about the lovely bloggers themselves and finding out about other peoples' own writing experiences. Ok, giveaways are great too - but they're just aren't enough open to the UK!

What do you like reading about on other book blogs?

24 November 2010

VAMPIRE BOOK CLUB GIVEAWAY

Unfortunately I can't take part, as I don't live in Canada/US, but if you do, hop on over to the Vampire Book Club blog here to WIN A SIGNED COPY OF PARANORMALCY.

In Paranormalcy, Evie’s best friend is a mermaid. To enter the competition for a signed copy of Paranormalcy, leave a comment on their blog answering the question: If you could have any paranormal creature as a best friend, what would it be?

That's actually a really hard question...I might get jealous of a best friend with paranormal powers, if I didn't also have some ;)

WHAT KIND OF BEST FRIEND WOULD YOU PICK?

22 November 2010

2011 DEBUT AUTHOR CHALLENGE

Normally I pick up books quite randomly from the library, without really focusing on who/what I'm reading: I simply enjoy reading. But for 2011 I've decided to treat myself by buying myself a book every month. (This might seem a ridiculously small amount of books, but as I have so little money at the moment this really is a big treat for me!) Each of these books will be a YA book written by a debut author, and which I will review. The reason....

'The Story Siren' is hosting the 2011 Debut Author Challenge, and I will be taking part. All you have to do is read 12 YA/MG books by authors that are debuting in 2011, and you can take part in it whether or not you have a blog. If you want more information or to find out how to sign up then go here

So far, my planned books for the year are:

January: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White [Review here]
February: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney 
March: TBC
April: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton 
May: TBC 
June: TBC 
July: TBC 
August: TBC 
September: TBC 
October: TBC 
November: TBC 
December: TBC

I'll be updating my side bar as I figure out which books I will be reading each month.

Is anyone else taking part, or do you have any suggestions for debut authors?

20 November 2010

BOOK BLOGGER HOP

So this week's Book Blogger Hop question is....

"SINCE THANKSGIVING IS COMING UP NEXT WEEK, LET'S USE THIS HOP TO SHARE WHAT WE ARE MOST THANKFUL FOR AND WHAT OUR HOLIDAY TRADITIONS ARE!"


Even though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving over here in the UK, I think it's always nice to think about what we are grateful for. For me, its family. Unfortunately I don't get to see them that often, as they live in Cardiff, Wales. Its only 3-4 hours drive away from London, but the petrol costs and toll bridge make it ridiculously expensive to travel there often. My sister has a two year old boy, who changes everytime I see him. I just wish I could see more of him!
Family are always there for you, no matter what silly things you do! And when you come home after a long drive, they're always there with hugs and food!

If you haven't joined or seen the hop, pop on over to Jennifer at 'Crazy-for-Books'.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving everyone, no matter where you are. x

15 November 2010

NANOWRIMO 2010

As we are exactly half way through November, I wondered how many people have taken up the 'NaNoWriMo' writing challenge? 

NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge, to write a 50,000 word novel during November. It doesn't focus on the quality of the writing, rather the quantity - prompting those to take part to write and write and write! The idea is to take risks and give yourself permission to make mistakes. There's a forum for everyone taking part to share ideas, progress and frustrations.

It sounds like a great motivator to try and 'pump' out a first draft of a novel, but unfortunately I'm ridiculously busy in work to be able to do it this year.

If you are doing it, how are you finding it? Is it hard work or a good motivator?

14 November 2010

IS SUBJECTIVE TEACHING RIGHT?

So six weeks ago I started a nine week creative writing course. Every Thursday evening I go along and  our small group looks at different topics to do with creative writing (such as plot, character etc - when I've finished the whole course I will post a summary blog covering interesting things I've picked up).

On our first session, everyone in the group shared the different genres they are interested in writing and work they've started. When it came to my turn, I described the types of books I enjoy starting with YA. My tutor immediately said, "Oh you're not into all this vampire stuff, are you? I can't stand it." Straight away, I felt my interests were demeaned and seen as a 'lower' form of writing. And probably only because of its current popularity.

During the last session we looked at some typical plot scenarios, and ended up discussing whether new stories can be original. The tutor chose the example of vampire novels to say how these plots and stories and just re-hashed over and over.

I would certainly disagree, having just read 'Of Saints and Shadows' (Shadow Saga #1) by Christopher Golden.  This takes a different angle to the vampire theory and has some unexpected twists at the end. (A fair amount of graphic violence, but a good read!)

Now surely there are a number of different genres that could be said to be 're-hashed', such as romance or crime - a crime's committed, a detective investigates, crime is solved...

I felt that he was picking on vampire stories because of his own particular dislike for them.

Since that first session, I haven't been able to feel comfortable reading out any of my work, or even felt able to like my tutor. Even though he has said we can give him some of our own writing to critique, I don't want to, because how can I trust that his own biases won't influence his feedback...?

I'm wondering whether I'm taking it all a bit too personally (which admittedly I often do), or am I right in feeling aggrieved at my tutor for imposing his own subjective view on which genres are better than others?

Do you think that a tutor of a creative writing class should be able to
express his own personal likes and dislikes of genres,
or do you think he should remain impartial in order not to
offend his students own writing preferences.

Thoughts please!

12 November 2010

BOOK BLOGGER HOP

Hello friends, I'm going to be good this week and blog. I was a happy bunny coming home today, as I had a lovely lovely letter from my new penpal BC at 'A Fairy's Playground'. I'm really glad to have BC as my new writer friend, and I can't wait to get to know her some more :)
So over to this week's Book Blogger Hop - which is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer at 'Crazy For Books'.




The Hop is a fantastic way to get your blog noticed more and visit some other cool blogs that you didn't know about before, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! If you want to join, visit Jenn at Crazy-for-Books!!

This week's question comes from Cristina at 'The Paperback Princesses':




"IF YOU FIND A BOOK THAT LOOKS INTERESTING
BUT IS PART OF A SERIES,
DO YOU ALWAYS START WITH THE FIRST TITLE?"

Hmmm, well it's definitely annoying to read a book and have lots of hints to a background story you know nothing of. But as my book budget at the moment is £0, I'm back to borrowing from libraries. Unfortunately they seem to love stocking the 2nd or 3rd or 4th in a series. Never the first. Why?! Well, today I actually stood in the library for a good few minutes debating whether to get Kat Richardson's 'Labyrinth', which is 5th in the 'Greywalker' series. Do you think they have the earlier ones in the series....of course not - that's too easy. So after much internal debating, and at the risk of looking like I was lost amongst the three short aisles, I decided that yes I would get it. If I like it then I'll definitely read the earlier books in the series. Its just a shame that I'll know what happens in the very end. I can only hope Kat Richardson writes a sixth book, and leaves me something to look forward to ;)

30 October 2010

REVIEW: THE AFFINITY BRIDGE

Apologies my dear friends for being so absent and neglectful of my blog. Work has been busy (I'm really hoping to win the lottery so I can quit and spend more time writing!) and I started my creative writing course which is bringing up lots of ideas but sadly no secrets on how to write the perfect book ;)

I've still been reading away...and this is the latest, which I couldn't help but pick up what with its steampunk feel. Even though it was published a few years ago I'm going to review it anyway. So here we are....

The Affinity Bridge
Author: George Mann
UK Publisher: Snowbooks
UK Release date: 2008
Genre: Steampunk, science fiction

Summary (from Goodreads): Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by new inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, whilst ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen and journalists. But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side. For this is also a world where ghostly policemen haunt the fog-laden alleyways of Whitechapel, where cadavers can rise from the dead and where Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, works tirelessly to protect the Empire from her foes.

... Once again, I picked up the book based on its cover. Well, old habits die hard. I love the idea of Victorian London, which the book certainly built up with a steampunk feel - cue the laudanum addiction, airships, and horse drawn carriages. We follow the main characters, Sir Maurice and Miss Hobbes, as they investigate an airship crash where all the passengers had been tied to their seats and the pilot was missing. Some of the ideas are a little stereotypical and cliche, but I still liked it.

The plot moves very quickly keeping you on the edge of your seat, albeit wondering how one man can take quite so much physical abuse whilst the chief of police comes out completely unscathed. There were a number of twists and turns in the story as well as a final twist in the epilogue, however some parts of the ending felt a little forced trying to tie up all the loose ends and numerous subplots.

Despite its minor flaws, I'm a very forgiving reader and would definitely read the others in the series.

Rating: 4*

27 September 2010

NEW 'FOREVER' COVER ART

Thanks to 'Down the Rabbit Hole', I discovered that the new cover for Maggie Stiefvater's book 'Forever' has been unveiled. And it looks so cool. Well, this is the US version anyway.




I don't imagine the UK cover art will be quite as cool, but I'm still looking forward to it coming out.
What do you think of the new cover?

16 September 2010

WARNING: RANT AHEAD

Well, I finally posted off my short story submission. With barely a whisker of time to spare. I admit I would have liked to have sent off two stories, or at least spent a lot more time on the story I did send off. It was probably more rushed that it should have been.

* Warning: rant ahead... I'm struggling working full-time, and then coming home and motivating myself to write, when I really just want to sleep. With the school term started again, my job's getting more stressful trying to organise so many events. With all the budget cuts, it means I've got to take on more work. At the moment I'm organising at least 11 different events, one of which is a one day a week-14 week programme for disengaged young people. Now my boss has suggested setting up work experience placements for 20 young people with moderate to severe learning difficulties, which is no mean feat making sure it works! Unfortunately I don't think this job will let me have the energy to write in the evenings. Sometimes I go to bed worrying about my job. Normally I read loads as well, but I've been too tired to read much either. Eek.

I'm not sure this is a good enough 'excuse'. I'm sure if I worked part-time or not at all, there would be another reason for me being rubbish at getting writing done. I just really need to pick up my motivation and get going again. Hopefully the short writing course I'll be going to will help me feel more confident about my work.

I just finished Shiver, so will let you know my thoughts next time. Definitely good though!

Despite my rant about not being motivated to write, I would still like one or two pen pals. I used to have one when I was younger which I really liked. She used to send me little gifts, and I want to pay these little favours on to someone else. Plus I have so much cute stationery I want someone to send it to! PM me if you're also looking for a penpal!! (Just because I wanted to post a pic...here's some of my lovely stationery!!)