Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review: London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

Firstly, thanks to Allen & Unwin for this review copy <3

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Date Read: July 25 - 30 2016
Date Released: June 2nd 2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin/Hot Key Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Seventeen-year-old Sunny's always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she's sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she's got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London - starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can't even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she'd have anything in common with - least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French 'twins' (they're really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it's the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone - from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers - is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution."

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Not gonna lie guys, when I read the full synopsis of London Belongs to Us I was sceptical of how Sunny would spend a whole night chasing down Mark as the blurb details – I mean how hard is one person to find when you know them and can contact them? I can 100% confirm that this book delivered as promised and it was exciting, fun, realistic and damn awesome. It's also so much more.

The book opens with our self-conscious, confidence-lacking, main character Sunny getting a photo of her (supposedly hunk) boyfriend locking lips with another girl. Poor girl is in absolute denial in the beginning then her hurt progressively grows into anger. I loved the realistic way her emotions slowly turn and the way they shape her actions in the book. Her development and growth is astonishing and I was cheering her on the whole way through. Some may think she’s being stubborn and relentless at parts, but what’s a girl to do when your whole life you’ve been trodden on like a doormat and this is the last straw? You show them what you’re made of and not to be messed with! I really admired Sunny’s determination and the way the events of the book help build her confidence.

On her adventures she’s accompanied by her best friend Emmeline, but mainly these two French boys known as the Goddards – Vic and Jean-Luc. One is a playboy, and the other seems to only know sour expressions. But like sidekicks, they follow her around London, providing comic-relief, advice and segues into more hilarious moments. There’s actually a whole cast of diverse characters that Sunny meets during her traipse through London – from drag queens, to superhero like girls, to famous band members. And yet because of the hour, the way things happen, it’s all entirely believable. I loved that each character had their purpose, had some light to shed on the situation and offer help or advice.

I adored the way Manning gives us a real local’s perspective of London nightlife. It’s not the tourist walk through Westminster, going on the London Eye and visiting Buckingham Palace. It’s the ‘burbs; London trains at night with track work, out of the way clubs, hot wings at midnight. It’s London like I would’ve never experienced on my own and Sunny certainly wouldn’t have either at that hour without her vendetta.

Romance isn’t the biggest factor in the book which I’m really grateful for. Qurrlll ain’t got time for any boys when she on her quest to kick some cheating arse! I liked the way bits of Mark’s true character are slowly revealed as the night goes on – in the beginning she thinks he’s the most amazing person on earth and that she can’t possibly deserve someone so wonderful. But as the night progresses and he never says he’s where he is, Sunny notices his flaws. Each stop along the night draws out a memory, an aspect of Mark that has Sunny reassess her earlier feelings. It was refreshing to see her head slowly come out of the clouds.

The best thing about this book is the girl power. It’s not just about one girl’s quest for revenge. It’s about her taking a stand, other girls helping her out, girls banding together in the face of pos (‘piece of shit’ for those of you who don’t know, I recently learnt the term) guys who think girls can easily be duped and are just for hook-ups.


All this, in one night. From north London to south London (and back). London Belongs to Us is an appreciation of the city and its diverse people – the way they can help a girl on a mission to right a wrong. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Blog Tour: The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson



Yooooo guys! Aussie author Lili Wilkinson's new book The Boundless Sublime (it's about cults!), has just hit shelves. As part of the blog tour I've got Lili herself here on Fiction in Fiction in Fiction talking about her experiences with writing and what she's learnt to get where she is today.

28052355Synopsis:
"Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it's all her fault.
The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox - a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she's going through and he offers her a chance to feel peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Sublime - and Ruby can't stay away from him. So she is also drawn in to what she too late discovers is a terrifying secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.

Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever really an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Sublime?

A gripping YA novel about an ordinary girl who is unsuspectingly inducted into a secretive modern-day cult."


Date Released: August 1st 2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Contemporary

What I’ve learnt from my career in writing
Lili Wilkinson
Editorial feedback letters are funny things. I’m always terrified to get one, in case my publisher has suddenly realized that she’s been wrong about me the whole time and that actually I’m a terrible writer. But the letter usually starts well.

Lili, this book is a triumph! We love it!!!
And then…
…here are twelve pages of things we’d like you to change.
Learning how to graciously accept feedback was one of the hardest parts of becoming a writer. Because when I started out, I’d pour my heart and soul into a story, and make it as good as I possibly could before bravely showing it to someone and WHAT YOU DON’T THINK IT IS PERFECT HOW COULD YOU STAB ME IN THE HEART IN THIS CRUEL AND UNJUST WAY etc etc.
But I toughened up pretty quick. Because here’s the thing I’ve learnt:

You can’t write a book alone. Or at least, I can’t write a book alone. It might have my name on the cover, but I need other people’s help. Editors are the actual best and I now love getting my feedback letter, because it opens up all these new possibilities for my story, and gives me the opportunity to make it better. And it can always be better.

I get help for my books from all over the place. I did a lot of research for The Boundless Sublime, looking into cults and new religious movements, and a lot of people were extremely generous in sharing experiences and stories.
As well as my editors, a bunch of other people read the book in various stages of draft – my husband Michael, my parents, and writer friends Sarah Dollard, Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld. Then I approached particular people for specific things – a friend with a particular knowledge of eating disorders helped with some of the cult’s weird dietary practices. I talked to a cop and a paramedic for certain procedures and terms. I chatted with a defamation lawyer about some of the details for my culty webseries Let’s Talk About Sects, because I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get sued.
There’re other people too – the wonderful Astred Cherry who designed the cover. My publicist Jessica. Copyeditors and proofreaders and foreign rights people and sales reps and of course the fabulous BOOKSELLERS and reviewers and bloggers and booktubers.
And MOST IMPORTANTLY there are the readers. A book is a conversation, and without readers, a book is just a waste of a tree.

So THANK YOU EVERYONE for helping me write a book.
Group hug? Dance party?Let’s Talk About Sects webseries about Lili’s cult research: http://www.liliwilkinson.com.au/lets-talk-about-sects/
Thank you so much Lili for joining me on the blog (:



The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $19.99, available now

Follow the blog tour:


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1) by Evelyn Skye

Firstly, thanks to HarperCollins Australia for this review copy <3

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Date Read: June 8 - 23 2016
Date Released: July 1st 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air.

They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose."

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When The Crown’s Game was first pitched to me as a Russian fantasy with an amazing love triangle between a prince, a female and male enchanter I wanted this book in my life like nothing else. The cover looked stunning and the premise had me tripping over my own feet trying to get hold of The Crown’s Game. It’s unfortunate I have to add this to the growing pile of disappointing 2016 releases.

What shits me is the book had a fantastic premise, beautiful descriptions and somewhat interesting characters but nothing ever bloody happened. The pace was so off I wanted to DNF so many times – but I soldiered on y’all. I think I deserve a gold medal for it. More than 2 freaking weeks to read this book and it put me off wanting to read altogether because I was so bored.

Vika, the female enchanter at the centre of this story is quite likeable. She’s fiery and full of passion and I liked that her emotions were always on at full force. She acted on instinct; attack first, think later. As someone who grew up on a secluded island she’s naturally slow to trust which came through in the book. I liked the way she reacted to Nikolai and the internal conflict she continually suffered as a result of the Game. Can’t say I had too many qualms with Vika.

Nikolai, too I didn’t have many problems with. Likeable dude who’s had to make his way in the world. Grown up in a home without love but he appreciates what he has and doesn’t complain being taken in by a rich woman to be trained in magic. I also like his progression through the story in regards to internal conflict after meeting Vika.

Love triangle you said. A love triangle that was well done you promised. LIES. ALL LIES. BURN THEM ALL. This was not a desirable love triangle. I felt no passion or angst or ANYTHING. It’s way too subtle and this annoyed me because I was promised a hot love triangle. It would have been way better had it not been sold to me like that. I didn’t glean romantic vibes from Vika or Nikolai for most of the book, save like this one time they properly meet. And the prince is obsessed after one sighting and it’s like whaaaaaaaaaaaat you barely know each other. I don’t buy it.

The writing faltered at the beginning but then it gets really good. Skye’s imagery is stunning and the magic she has the enchanters do is lovely and picturesque. The world building is fantastic and I could picture colourful canals, buildings with intricate columns and painted in pastel. Skye goes into a lot of detail to describe the surroundings and the imaginings of the young enchanters which I appreciated.

But see here’s my problem – the loveliness. Y’all these two are meant to be in a competition to the death. It’s meant to be magic in full force. I expected flaming swords and flying walls of sharp ice. I don’t know I think I went in with very different expectations. I couldn’t believe this was a fight to a death most of the time, more like a show of “my magic is better than yours as you can see by way of my decorating St Petersburg”.

So there’s this going back and forth as they decorate the city to impress the crown and I was bored out of my damn mind because no dire, near death situations were really happening. Or if they were, there was so much loveliness going on it got swept up under the pretty magic rug. It dragged on. And on. And on. It didn’t take long to read, but it was so slow I didn’t want to read anymore. Then the ending happened and it’s meant to be a bit of a twist and shocker but I was so groggy at this point I didn’t even care anymore. It was like yeah whatever next?

I mean if you like a really (and I mean really) slow burn, with lovely light magic and pretty descriptions then this might be for you. May the odds be ever in your favour.