Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Interview with Sarah J Maas - Glasgow October 2016

You can now watch my interview with Queen Sarah J Maas, filmed when she visited Glasgow on her UK tour.
I can even tell you have amazing it was to see her you guys. Oh. My. God.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Image result for empire of stormsSome rambly thoughts I had on Empire of Storms: 


EoS is SO different to the other books in the series. I feel like it steps up into a war book. We’ve finally reached the point where the fighting and planning is starting. It’s terrifying and SO EXCITING.

ELIDE AND LORCAN ARE MY NEW FAVOURITE THING EVER. I’m waiting for the fanart of them to be drawn. They’re the unlikeliest couple and that makes it even better. I never thought about them interacting, never mind being a couple. It being so unexpected made it even better. I adored seeing this other side to Lorcan. He’s so protective of Elide. I love seeing this huge warrior male cowed by this small girl. Elide is totally my new favourite character, I loved her in QoS and I love her even more now. Her strength and her kindness is amazing. She might have a disability but that doesn’t stop her from doing anything or helping in any way she can.
I’m not even mad Lorcan and Elide are in a bad place at the end of the book, I’m just looking forward to their interaction in the next book and him trying to win her back. I strangely like the conflict :p

O.M.G the naval battles. They were so cinematic! I was cheering on Lysandra so much! I’ve never read anything like the Sea Wyvern/Dragon fight. Holy crap that bit was amazing. I completely take back every bad thing I ever thought about Lysandra while reading the Assassins Blade. That girl is amazing. But man, they must have taken some planning; I completely read them while imagining how it’d look as a movie. EPICCC.  

The Wyverns attack on Rifthold totally reminded me of the Nazgul destroying Minas Tirith, picking people up and dropping them, big winged shadows over buildings etc.

I’m so glad Manon stood up to her grandmother. I was so happy she saved Asterin (I was truly scared for a moment there)  and when Abraxos went missing whenever someone wondered where he’d gone I would be like ‘please say he’s gone to find the rest of the thirteen’. I still want my own Wyvern…and to be part of the thirteen.

Even though Chaol was always my love and he wasn’t in EoS, it wasn’t that I didn’t miss him but rather it felt like he wasn’t actually missing. The couple of mentions about him kept him in mind I’m excited that he’s getting his own novella. I also think the cast of characters was SO big in EoS, his absence helped not to overwhelm you with them all. I felt like this was the book with the least amount of Aelin PoV because of the many different things going on across the map but it worked well in terms of Aelin secretly planning with Ansel, Ilias (THEYRE BACK :O ) and Galan. It broke my heart that she didn’t get to see all her hard work come to fruition.

I feel bad that I never really thought about how Dorian would be in this book. He’s never had time to grieve and move on and it made me want to cry for him. Its so cool how Aelin is like her power in that she’s fiery and now Dorian feels like he’s becoming like his own. He’s a lot colder than the Dorian we were introduced to. His character development is insane. So good. But so sad. Bless him, he’s so haunted by Sorcha and being controlled. I loved ManonXDorian, they have this strange chemistry, but I hope they can be together not because she’d not easily broken but because they love each other.

I’ve totally decided Aelin CANNOT die at the end of the series now. NO. WAY. I don’t think I could handle it, that girl deserves the happiest of endings! I was trying to prepare myself as I got near the end of the book as I knew something would happen. But I don’t think anyone can be prepared for that. NO ONE. I never expected Maeve to do something like this, was waiting for Erawan to be doing the horrifying deeds. I was trying to think of a way of describing how the ending feels so I compared it to Nehemia death and the end of Heir of Fire, to me they were like a sharp punch to the heart, they hit me full force and made me immediately cry. EoS is like someone is squeezing my heart…permanently. Over the year I’m gonna be doing work or something and ill just think ‘Aelin is being tortured by Maeve right now. Alone. Not knowing her husband is coming for her.’ and ill just curl into a ball.

Image result for empire of stormsAELIN AND ROWAN GOT MARRIED! MARRRIEDDDD. Oh man those two make my heart soar and break it too. Rowan first saying ‘where is my wife?’ is like the perfect example, I was so happy for them but so devastated too.

The most insane moment I think has to go to finding out Aelin’s plan in case something like this happened. It makes me feel so deeply sad that they even have to consider the plan. Lysandra forever living as Aelin, Rowan living without Aelin but pretending that he still is and that their children are his and Aedion being in love with Lysandra but cant be with her, but have kids with her that he cant acknowledge. It was this that hit my right in the heart because these characters could survive the war, save the world but then go on living like this…without their happy ending.  I want to pick them all up and drop them on a safe little island somewhere where they’ll have no problems and somehow not be bothered by Erawan/Maeve.
Aedion declaring he would marry Lysandra brought tears to my eyes. Their slow burning but deep love for each other is just so sweet.

The links between each of the main characters and each of the gods was so interesting, as if they were each picked for a purpose and have all come together to complete the plan. I love that hints about this have been dropped since ToG.

Getting to read about Elena and Gavin in their own time was brilliant and to finally gets some truths on them. I love that their was a brave heroine who tried her best but ultimately failed because she wasn’t perfect.

One thing I always love in books is when two people from a group of friends who never really talk are forced to interact with each other, so I loved to see what kind of dynamic Rowan and Dorian had.

 5 Stars obviously, when do I ever not give Sarah 5 stars?

Thoughts on Chaol's story in the WHSmith edition of Empire of Storms. Which you can read here: http://assassingrisha.tumblr.com/post/150076719065/for-people-who-cant-read-the-empire-of-storms

I think everyone, the Chaol lovers and the Chaol haters, needs to read this little novella because it explains everything we've wanted to know and questioned about Chaol. 

I'm a Chaolaena fan, they'll always have a special place in my heart, but they could never be endgame and any questions about this are answered in the story. 

Chaol says himself he would've never left Dorian, so he could never have gone with Aelin to live in Terrasen. So, Chaolaena would've ended...without the introduction of Rowan. Even a Chaolaena lover like me can see that this is true. Now I just want them to be friends. 

Chaol also talks about how he only saw a 'fraction' of Aelin and he imagined himself with that fraction and couldn't get his head around seeing her as a whole after loving her as just Celaena. Rowan saw the whole of Aelin, and fell in love with that. For me, its a perfect explanation of Chaol's inner turmoil over the last couple of books. All i want now is for Aelin, Dorian and Chaol to be besties for life. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Insurgency by S.J.A Turney

A forbidden love. A daring escape. A gathering storm.

Forty years have passed since the Empire was restored. Emperor Kiva the Golden, his wife Jala Parishid, and his brother Marshal Quintillian have together overseen decades of peace and prosperity, a time when the horrors of the civil war could begin to fade from memory.
But nothing can last forever. A forbidden love drives Quintillian from the capital far into the eastern deserts, where he discovers an unprecedented threat to the Empire’s very survival. And when Jala is kidnapped by a sinister and ruthless group of warriors, it will take all of Kiva’s strength to defend her, his people, and their destiny…
Insurgency is the fourth novel in S.J.A. Turney’s Tales of the Empire series, set in a world inspired by Roman history. A sweeping tale of deception, cunning, and military valour, this will appeal to readers of Matthew Harffy, Simon Scarrow, and K.M. Ashman. (Amazon) 

The blurring of history and fantasy by S.J.A. Turney

If you look along the shelves of a bookshop, or even browse the categories of an online store looking for your next read, you will find a number of handy, well-defined categories. Some readers will be drawn to crime, or to romance, or horror. Some will find themselves searching for the history section, or the fantasy section. Most genres have a certain amount of blur, for instance Ellis Peters and Ruth Downie are both Historical Crime writers. One might call Thomas Harris’ Hannibal books Crime/Horror. There are many combinations in this manner, of course, but one of those least recognised and yet most common is historical fantasy.
The thing is that half of what we understand to be history is in reality pure legend, myth, and hearsay – basically fantasy. So where do we draw the line between the mythical and the practical? I recently read the first book of Glyn Iliffe’s Adventures of Odysseus. Anyone who knows anything of Ancient Greece or the Trojan war might already wonder where the lines of true history can be drawn, for the tales of Homer are largely accepted to have at least a basis in truth and yet are filled with Gods whisking people from battlefields, serpents sent to slay men, mystic visions, invulnerable heroes, magic armour, and so on. Do these things have a place in history? The answer can only be: perhaps. That depends entirely on the reader’s perspective. I find Iliffe’s work to be no less valid on the Trojan War than the collaboration in which I took part (A Song of War), which is released in October. In our retelling all magic, visions, gods and the like are explained away as far as possible with pragmatic detail. That does not mean we were right and Iliffe wrong. It means we chose to look at the history a different way, removing an inherent fantastic element.
In numerous historical novels, gods and mysticism play a part, and even monsters sometimes, largely because humans who lived in the times we write about believed in such their selves. These things were accepted as a part of life and therefore can equally be accepted in retellings of those lives. Ben Kane, Manda Scott, Gordon Doherty – myself too – have all bent the practical into the unexplained at times to add authenticity and atmosphere to our tales.
And then there’s the flip side of the coin. Some authors have set out writing fantasy that is so realistic that it feels more like history than many historical novels. A recent very popular example is George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones, which, while it contains both monsters and magic, is no more a stretch to the imagination than many Ancient Greek, Viking or Medieval tales. But to move even closer, there is a whole genre centred around fantasy based solidly on historical facts. Guy Gavriel Kay has written many standalone novels that are clearly works of fantasy with odd common threads running through them, which take their flavour and often the bones of the plot and even some detail from a real historical event. The Lions of Al Rassan was a fantasy retelling of the Spanish Reconquista. The Sarantine Mosaic was based around the life and reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, and so on. There are other such writers, of course, but I cite Kay as the master of the art.
I myself have tried to blur the lines in my Tales of the Empire. They are heavily flavoured with Late Rome, many of the locations re-envisioned from real places and some of the characters even faint re-imaginings of true historical personages. Such ‘historical fantasy’ or ‘alternate history’ (something more based on the ‘what if…’ principle, such as Guy Saville’s novels) have value for writer and reader that exists outside both the fantasy and historical genres on their own.
For example, I took part in a retelling of Boudicca’s revolt against Rome in 60AD (A Year of Ravens) and while we were able to take a fresh angle and create something I loved, no reader with a basic knowledge of the era is going to wonder how the tale will end. Similar problems hit most historical periods. If I write a book about Caesar (yes I have) no reader is going to wonder if Caesar will pull through at the end. If I write about the second world war, no one is going to wonder whether D-Day will flop and the Germans will cross the channel. See what I mean? History has rules we have to stick to, and that means that many historical novels based on real events or people hold little true surprise for the reader.
Fantasy, on the other hand, can often be too far removed from reality to sync with the reader’s subconscious comfort levels. It is hard to become too concerned with the fate of Zorvax the Ogre Mage’s fate when he fights the nine armed toilet brush of doom. An strained example perhaps, but you get the point. Yet when the hero is a man dressed in a realistic historical manner standing with a sword, up to his knees in snow and bellowing slogans of resistance against an oppressive king… well, it’s so damned realistic it could happen. So it becomes a comfortable read.
Historical fantasy hits the sweet spot for both genres. It creates something unpredictable, exciting and unexpected, yet in such a familiar way that it feels like a part of our heritage. In my opinion, this small but important sub-genre has grown a great deal in recent years and is rising to become of great value in the literary marketplace. Bravo Mr Martin for popularising this concept, though I shall continue to trumpet my own contribution too. I write Roman historical novels and Ottoman ones, but my Tales of the Empire are historical fantasy, flavoured with late Rome and yet pure imagination. The latest in the series – Insurgency – was released on the  15th of August and incorporates a fictionalised invasion of very Hun/Mongol-type horse clans of a late-Roman/early Medieval empire.
So hooray for historical fantasy and the blurring of genres. Pick up a book you’d never have expected to read. Who knows where it might take you…
Insurgency is published by Canelo price £3.99 as an ebook.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Image result for nevernightIn a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge? (Goodreads) 

Nevernight isn't for new fantasy readers. If you want to dip your toes into fantasy, Nevernight isn't the place to start.  This is the sort of story for experienced high fantasy readers, who enjoy dense world building information. Even I struggled a bit at the very beginning, getting through the footnotes and info dumps but I wanted to persevere because I was sure that this would be a story I would love. I'm so glad I was right. If you're in doubt as to whether to continue at the beginning, DO. Your work will pay off. 

I'm torn over the footnotes that are added in, while I liked the interesting information we learned from them, I still don't like the use of them. I think they pull you out of the story and the characters mind and then you have to find your place again and try to slip back in, which is hard. 

Image result for nevernight
The world of Nevernight is SO unique. I've never read anything like it. From its suns to its streets its completely entrancing. Jay has really built something amazing here. I could see ( and hope) for multiple series from this world. 

I like Jay Kristoff's style of writing. The only book I've read by him is Illuminae, which he wrote with Amie Kaufman and is written in an odd style so I couldn't really judge him from that. I'm a person who enjoys long winded and flowery writing so I really enjoyed Jay's unique way of describing things. 

Mia is a great main character. Despite the book being about assassins, Mia manages to keep me rooting for her. She's brutal and deadly which on its own would make me not connect with her but she's also humble and caring. She's still a young woman with the feelings and urges of a young woman. And I love her for it. 

Nevernight reminds me a bit of Throne of Glass as in both books were the first in big high fantasy series and they started off with a simple competition story line, letting you get to know the world, the history and the characters but dropping hints started to develop the main plot for the series. 

P.S the ending will give you a dangerous amount of feels. 

4 Stars! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


I have THE MOST EXCITING news to share. Some of the best news ever. EVER. I am officially an advocate for The Bone Season aka one of my favourite series in the entire world.

If you haven't yet read The Bone Season, I highly recommend you go pick it up because your life just isn't complete without it. True story. And if you pick up both The Bone Season and the sequel The Mime Order you should be finished them by the time the third book, The Song Rising is released early next year.

I found out I was going to be an advocate yesterday. I'd gotten home from a hard days work, and of course went to check Twitter. There I saw a few people tweeting about their own excitement at being chosen to be an advocate. My heart both started beating extra fast and dropped to my feet. People had started being chosen?! I was so nervous that I wouldn't have been picked, but I hadn't checked my email yet. But just waiting for me was that oh so special email, blessing me with it's presence. I may have squealed, I may have half cried a little. I'm certainly going to keep that email forever, It's now precious to me.

I also get to share something awesome with you: THE PRELUDE FOR THE SONG RISING. You can read below... (spoilers, obviously...)

 HOW EXCITING RIGHT? What a way to start off! It always feels a little surreal when you get something new from one of your favourite series of books after you've been rereading the previous books for so long. I JUST WANT MORE NOWWW.

What did you think?
Jaxon makes me so conflicted. He's so horrible and things would be so much easier if he were removed from the plot...by death. But he's somehow become the only 'evil' character that I don't want to die. I LOVE every scene he's in. He's such an amazingly crafted character. I'm so excited to see what he gets up to in The Song Rising!

Laura x

Friday, 19 August 2016

Sing to Silent Stones - Violet's War By David Snell

When 19-year-old Violet falls in love with Frank, a clerk in the family firm, her father refuses to allow their relationship. The year is 1913 and the world is spiraling into war.  After Frank goes off to the Front, the unintended consequences of their romance catch up with Violet and her family. 
The dramatic events in Violet's life before, during and after the First World War are exhilarating, emotional and deeply affecting. Sing to Silent Stones: Violet's War is a story of love, illegitimacy and changing social attitudes. 
This epic family saga offers a view into the lives of girls and women who served as nurses in the Great War faced with struggles that are almost inconceivable to us today. (From the blurb)

I haven't read a lot of World War I novels and now David Snell has made me definitely want to read more. I've seen many films and TV shows/documentaries about the war but being able to read and get inside the characters head to experience it through their eyes I think is better. I feel the emotion a lot deeper and connect a lot more with the characters by seeing events solely through their eyes. 

Being a young adult myself, the same age as Violet. It was so interesting to read about what my life could have been like if I'd been born 100 years earlier. I loved that the book's main character was a woman. Often war novels focus on men, as men were the ones on the front line in the thick of the war but as this novel shows, women also faced hardships and had to adapt and harden. It's wonderful to learn more about women's roles.

Usually, the end of the war marks the end of the book. End of the war = end of the struggles. I liked that David didn't do this. Instead we got to carry on for over 10 years after the war ends and experience what happened afterwards, what the lasting effects were. This was great as its something that isn't talked of/ written about much. 

The size of the book might put  people off, it's a large book, coming in at 563 pages. I enjoy big  books but I know a lot of people don't. However, reading other reviews of the book, SO many say they were completely put off by the size but then couldn't put it down once they tried it. It might be big but it reads so easily, never having a drop in keeping your attention.

Everything feels so real while reading, the language and descriptions makes everything feel so authentic. David clearly did his research and makes it very easy for you to imagine the struggles faced by people during the war.
It was interesting to learn that both Davids parents were wartime pilots so a lot of the details in the novel are probably stories and facts they've told him which makes the story come alive and seem even more real. 

I would read this book again, and I'll definitely be picking up Volume Two.

4 Stars! 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill

Asking For ItIt's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. 

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does. 

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes... (Goodreads)

I've been meaning to read Asking for It ever since I heard it was coming out. I remember discussing the synopsis with my friends and talking about how we wanted to read it but knowing it would probably make us mad. So, I picked up a copy from YALC and now I've read it, rather than being mad, i'm just sad. Asking for It isn't an easy book - which it shouldn't be. 

Emma was the perfect main character for the novel, because she really tested your opinions. Was she a nice person? No. Was she a good friend? No. Did she deserve what happened to her? NO. Was what happened to her her fault? No. Louise could've wrote a rape story about a girl who didn't have a lot of sexual partners or like to get drunk but that's not what she wanted to make a point about. I'm so glad she wrote it the way she did because the opinion that it's the woman's fault for being raped if she's drunk or dresses provocatively  or just looked at a man suggestively (that shes asking for it) NEEDS to end. 

It's my first novel I've read by Louise and I enjoyed her writing style. You need some skill to write such a hard-hitting story and make it really hit you and she has it. The only thing I wasn't a fan of is  how some of the flash backs were inserted. Often there'd be no warning of a jump forwards or back and it could be confusing. 

The ending Louise wrote was exactly the right ending the book needed. We all wanted it to end with justice for Emma, but then it wouldn't have been as true to life and the nightmare that rape victims can face every day. It also makes you angry that people still suffer through this every day and want to do something to change it. 

Asking for It should be read by everyone. It needs to be discussed. 

4 Stars.