Friday, 20 April 2018

Q & A with T.E. CARTER author of I STOP SOMEWHERE

Published yesterday by Simon & Schuster is a powerful debut novel by T.E. Carter, I Stop Somewhere. 
I'm currently reading this book and I have to say it's no easy book. It's harrowing, it's raw, it's real also. This girl's story is from personal experience and it warrants you're full attention. 

Today I'm extremely honoured to have T.E. Carter on my blog answering some questions that played on my mind since beginning this book. But before that here is a little bit more on the book. 

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished. 

Tormented throughout middle school, she begins her freshman year with new clothes, new hair, and a plan: she doesn’t need to be popular, she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

It’s a lonely existence, but at least no one’s tripping her in the halls. In fact, no one notices her at all. Until Caleb Breward, tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it.

Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she doesn’t like him that much - his awkward smile, the possessive way he touches her, the tone he uses, how he ignores her one minute and can't get enough the next. And on one black night, she discovers the monster her boyfriend really is. Ellie wasn’t the first victim, but now, trapped, she has to watch it happen again and again. She tries to hold onto her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

But no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place. 

The Lovely Bones meets Asking For It - this is the searing, heartbreaking story of a lost teenager, and the town she leaves behind.

Q & A with T.E. Carter 

What was the idea behind I Stop Somewhere!? 

         To be honest, much of it stems from personal experience and the things I’ve spent a lifetime not being able to say. The catalyst for writing it, though, came with yet another girl going missing in a neighboring town. I wish I could say that her story ended differently, but just after I sold the novel, they found her body. It’s now been years and no one was ever held accountable for what happened to her.

Did you feel there was a lot of pressure when writing Ellie’s story, to do her story justice?

         From the outside, not really, as I put enough pressure on myself. From a personal perspective, though, yes, it was – and is – an immense amount of pressure. Because it’s so closely tied to my own experiences, I do struggle with putting the story out there in general. I have to admit I feel somewhat uncomfortable about its existence, because it’s like opening a wound I’ve tried for years to keep from reopening.

What was your writing journey like when creating your debut novel?

         I get in the zone so much I don’t really remember much about the process itself. I tend to be the kind of writer who writes for hours every day when the story is swirling around in my head, and then I take months off to find the threads of another one.

This is a harrowing story and I felt that I had to read it in my own comfort zone, I.e. in my bed with lots of cups of tea! I’m curious when you were writing this did you find you needed to escape, take a step back from the book?

         Because I was so focused on the writing, I didn’t really feel it until after, but after was very hard. It’s still very hard. The process moved quickly. I wrote and rewrote and edited before querying, but once I sent out that first query, I had an agent offer within a few days and a book deal three weeks after my agent submitted the manuscript. As a result, I don’t know that I ever had time to really process what I was doing, and I am still reeling from it. The writing was far easier than the publication. I needed to get these things out of my head, as they’d been stuck in there for so long, and it was cathartic. That said, I’m still not fully sure I wanted them to be out of my head and into the universe, which was something I hadn’t truly considered at the time. Now I feel overwhelmed because I have to go back to those feelings and thoughts when I think about the novel, and I am so closely tied to the story that it’s exceedingly challenging not to find myself in a pretty dark place when I think too much on it.

What would be your advice if girls of Ellie’s age, or anyone going through the topics in your book?

         I tried to address this in my author’s note at the end of the novel, but I would say that it’s important to remember that these things don’t define you. The world can be a dark place and it’s excruciating to go through, especially if, like Ellie, you are alone or nearly alone in facing it. However, every single person counts and even if they don’t see it, even if they can’t feel that they matter, they are shaping the world around them every single day by living in it. No one deserves to be put through situations like this, but you will survive it. No matter how much it feels like you may not, and sometimes it may feel like you’d rather not, you will survive. And someday, as you start to find your way again, hopefully you can see that even in the darkest places, there is always light.

Do you have any writing advice for budding authors?

         I believe it’s important to stick with it, even when it feels pointless. I would also recommend that if you come to a point where you don’t love it, it’s a good idea to take a break. Most likely, you will rediscover that spark and, if you don’t, maybe that’s okay. Maybe there will be another outlet, but don’t force it. If you don’t enjoy it, give yourself permission to walk away.

What books would you recommend/do you have a current favourite YA read?

         I always recommend the books of Gillian Flynn, and I also really love the classics still. They’re definitely not perfect, but in those moments when life becomes tough, there’s comfort into returning to a world and story you’ve visited hundreds of times. I find myself doing that a lot, because books were my best friends growing up and when I feel down or alone, I like remembering those old friends.

Thank you to T.E. Carter for taking the time to answer my questions... If I'm honest it really resonates with the book and just makes how it important it is to tell these stories as well as how brave this woman really is.

Image result for t.e. carter
About T.E. Carter

I was born in New England and have pretty much lived in New England for my entire life (minus a few years in high school).
Throughout my career, I’ve done a lot of things, although I always loved to read and I still love stories in any medium (books, movies, video games, etc.).
When I’m not writing, I can generally be found reading classic literature, obsessing over Game of Thrones (100% Team Lannister), playing Xbox, organizing my comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions.
I continue to live in New England with my husband and our two cats.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

馃摎 REVIEW - THE WITCH’S BLOOD by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

The Witch’s Blood (The Witch’s Kiss #3)
by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr
Publisher - HarperCollins Children’s Books
Release Date - March 8th 2018
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Just who can you trust when no one around you is who they seem?

The final spell-binding book in THE WITCH’S KISS trilogy by authors and sisters, Katharine and Elizabeth Corr.

Life as a teenage witch just got harder for Merry when her brother, Leo is captured and taken into an alternative reality by evil witch Ronan. Determined to get him back, Merry needs to use blood magic to outwit her arch-rival and get Leo back. Merry is more powerful than ever now, but she is also more dangerous and within the coven, loyalties are split on her use of the magic. In trying to save Leo, Merry will have to confront evil from her past and present and risk the lives of everyone she’s ever loved. Given the chaos she’s created, just what will she sacrifice to make things right?
Please find reviews for the rest of the series - The Witch's Kiss & The Witch's Tears

*Potential Spoilers ahead - read carefully*

A magical tale of family and magic... 

I finished this book at the beginning of March and I'm finally giving it the review that this book, this series and these Sister Author's so deserves. 

Merry would fight through covens, dark magic and shadow realms to get her brother back even if it rips a gateway, a point of intersection between their world and the shadow realm where Ronan resides. But Merry’s power is getting stronger, by breaking the boundaries she believes that it’s her fault. So this is what it has come to, the final battle between the original fairy-tale and those who want to control it once and for all. Will their finally be a happily ever after? Merry's family has transformed from Book 1 to this final book. There have been ups and downs, with Merry’s family oath, Leo’s kidnapping and then finishing it together as it always should have been. It brought pain, fear, tears but also moments of such joy, contentment and happiness and that’s what The Witch’s Kiss Trilogy is all about.

From start to finish, it’s doesn’t seem possible by how much these characters have grown in such a short amount of time considering it’s been 3 years for the reader and 6 months for Merry and Leo. Merry and Leo have been these focal points in time of the book, when one moves the other reacts - they are more alike that even they would know. Their feelings for each other as brother and sister is captivating and emotional to say the least. Merry literally breaks the fragment in time and put the world into tremendous danger to bring her brother back, if that's not sacrificial, brave and courageous, I don't know what is.  

The final battle was epic to say the least - It comes down to this book, this moment and it was magnificent. As story shapes up in The Witch's Kiss to the steady build up in The Witch's Tears, the final battle was everything a reader and the characters deserved. It reminds me of Charmed in the final episode where they brought together her past and present to save the future. In The Witch's Blood the final battle combines all of that defines the love, the unlikely friendships, and magical relations that have been discovered in this story. Kate and Liz create such vivid, intense and powerful descriptions, take this quote that I marked in this book, it just oozes realism and sends shivers down your spine. 

"...the world from which Merry had just returned - was bulging through the fracture like blood oozing from a wound." 

The Witch’s Kiss trilogy is right up there with Twilight and The Hunger Games. It’s a series that feeds on your fantasies, favourite fairy-tales, romance, realism and most of family! It’s addictive, joyous, compelling and one of my favourite series to date. I haven’t read a series like this in a long time. I’m sad it’s ended, but I’m excited by the prospect by how it’s ended too. 

Rating - 馃専馃専馃専馃専馃専

Thank you to HarperCollins Children's Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Not If I Save You First 
by Ally Carter
Publisher - Orchard Books
Release Date - March 27th 2018
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Dear Logan,Someday I'm going to write a book: How Not to Die in Alaska - A Girl's Guide to Fashionable Survival.

I bet you don't know that a hair pin can make an excellent fishing hook. You may think you can use just any kind of mud for mud masks, but trust me, you CAN'T! In a pinch, nothing starts a fire like nail polish remover. Alaska is tough. You might know this, if you ever replied to my letters.

After Maddie's Secret Service dad takes a bullet for the president, he takes Maddie somewhere he thinks they'll be safe - far away from the White House and the president's son, Logan.

But when Logan comes to Alaska, so does the danger.

If there's one thing Alaska has taught Maddie, it's how to survive. And now her best friend's life depends on it ...

This book took me back - Ally Carter was the highlight of my teen years with The Gallagher Girls series and then All Fall Down a good few years later. Carter likes a good mystery and/or conspiracy especially within the the famous White House, and it doesn't disappoint in her latest conquest.

Her latest novels takes of the shape from a dual perspective, the President's son and his best friend; Logan and Maddie. They are inseparable, always finding new tunnels or secrets doors to explore, whilst running rings around their security. That's just what you do when you live in the White House. Maddie's dad is the President's secret detail, the guy that will stop a bullet and protect the the most sort out family in the United States. That's exactly what happens, the Russian's nearly kidnap the First Lady and her dad gets shot, to protect him, his family Maddie had to move away, to furthest, most secluded place in the world, Alaska. Logan and Maddie were inseparable, now they've been apart for 6 years, until Logan comes to stay, to stay out of trouble, trouble soon finds them once again.

If you want a book full of girl power, you've come to the right place. You can't get anymore than that. Maddie is the epitome of badassary, girl power, flare, feisty and she is not afraid of being more than just a teenage girl. She's had to become strong, a survivor of the fittest, she has learnt the hard way by growing and shying away from the 10 year old girl raised in DC that she used to be. Alaska isn't for the faint of heart, it's hard, it's cold, it's rough, full of predators both animals and humans and totally devoid of all technology. It's only the letters that she sends to Logan that even have some semblance of the life she used to have.

What I loved behind all of Carter's books is the premise of friendship and danger all-in-one. Logan and Maddie had something special once, but one day destroyed all of that. Maddie wanted to hang on to it, Logan dismissed it, he felt that he didn't deserve to have a friend when it was his family that sent her away. Logan was a tricky character for me to like, he'd changed so much and then when they finally found each other again, Logan and Maddie whilst a tense beginning seem to unravel and find a mutual ground where they both knew each other but also getting to know each other once again.

Ally always knows a way to a girls/readers heart, her characters and stories are always fashionable, relatable, funny and for me a breath of fresh air. It's one of those books that is just a guilty please reliving my teen years all over again. 馃摎

Rating - 馃専馃専馃専馃専

Thank you to Orchard Books for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

馃摎 REVIEW - THE WITCH'S TEARS by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

The Witch's Tears (The Witch's Kiss #2)
by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr
Publisher - HarperCollins Children's 
Release Date - February 2nd 2018
Buy -  Amazon | Book Depository

Can true love's kiss break your heart...?

It's not easy being a teenage witch. Just ask Merry. She's drowning in textbooks and rules set by the coven; drowning in heartbreak after the loss of Jack. But Merry's not the only one whose fairy tale is over. Big brother Leo is falling apart and everything Merry does seems to push him further to the brink. And everything that happens to Leo makes her ache for revenge. So when strangers offering friendship show them a different path they'd be mad not to take it...

Some rules were made to be broken, right?

-Spoiler free review-

For my review of The Witch's Kiss please click here

We've got over the potential threat of the King of Hearts and Gwydion, but what if the magic that still lurks under the Black Lake is waiting to be harnessed by someone else. What is the darkest fairy tale only had a short lived happening ending? Merry's life was never meant to go back to normal, normal is far too overrated for her these days, especially with a troubled Leo and losing the love of her life.

Merry isn't her usual self, it's like all this energy to destroy something is still swimming through her body but she's being undermined by the coven but in a way feared because Merry is unlike any witch the coven has come by. Just because she does things differently, her wires work differently, she feel she isn't being accepted no matter how much she's putting into her sessions with her Gran. Not to mentioned Leo is basically being a bum. I didn't realise understand his coldness towards her, but in a way I do, it's all focused on Merry being magical, not that fact that Leo was with her all time and everyone is forgetting that .Merry tries to help, but she pushing him away, he's locked away and the only person who seems to be helping is a new stranger, a wizard named Ronan. It isn't until Gran say that wizards are untrustworthy and dangerous that Merry becomes suspicious.

Meeting new characters, like Finn, Ronan, Flo as well as seeing more of the coven and even Merry and Leo finally being able to reconnect with their mother. Whether the new and current characters were good or bad, it built a family of characters that you couldn't pull away from, you wanted to know more and Kate and Liz did that, both through Merry's and Leo's perspective. It gave them a sense of belonging to the story.

The sequel to The Witch's Kiss is like the after story that leads to a much bigger plot - to the final battle in The Witch's Blood. When I read this book I was surprised I admit, because this could be taken a filler book and yes there were elements to it but what I loved about is that we got of what happened next. I miss that with a lot of stories, it finishes and your thinking "what happened to them?", "what happens next?" or "what sort of future did they have in-store?" It builds characters, it builds that relationship you have with the reader especially with Merry and Leo, I applaud Kate and Liz for doing that. It felt more realistic, the timing and pacing of the story-line, it builds the momentum to the final book which I loved considering I can read it straight after. I hate to imagine if I read this last year I don't think I could cope.

The Witch's Tears has more magic, mayhem, action, it's once again seamlessly well written and I just love Kate and Liz's writing regardless. The Witch's Kiss was only beginning, but as this series progresses and transforms into something powerful, Kate and Liz are putting their stamp in the world of fantasy in YA.Whatever you do, don't stop now. there is epicness to come in the final battle in The Witch's Blood.

Rating - 馃専馃専馃専馃専.5

Sunday, 11 March 2018

BLOG TOUR: GUEST POST - THE WITCH'S BLOOD by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

Hi Everyone, it's all about The Witch's Kiss series by Kate and Liz Corr this week. Earlier this week, I finally reviewed my reread of The Witch's Kiss, which you can find here. From the middle of February I have only been reading this series as the final book, The Witch's Blood has finally been released. There's something about reading a series from start to finish as well as the waiting an excruciating year for the next book. Anyways, I'm so excited to be part of this blog tour which I've been part of from the very first book. Kate and Liz are extraordinary women and I'm so happy for them and this amazing series. I can't wait to read more from them. So rather than me sharing with you the synopsis of the last book because well spoilers, here is a series description of The Witch's Kiss trilogy. 

A blend of fairytale, magic and modern teenage life, The Witch’s Kiss trilogy follows trainee witch Merry and her older brother Leo. When a prince who has slept for hundreds of years finally wakes up, Merry has to deal with an Anglo-Saxon curse and a dark wizard hell-bent on revenge, whilst she and Leo discover whether true love’s kiss really can save the day. But curses are hard to kill, and the ripples of Merry’s choices and actions – and her growing power – attract more attention than she bargains for. As witches start dying and an ancient fairytale becomes a horrifying reality, both Merry and Leo have to choose who to trust, risking their lives and even their world in the process. Past and present collide and Merry faces a decision: how much is she really willing to give up to finally lay the curse to rest?
Our Favourite Book Battle Scenes

The Witch’s Blood is the final book in The Witch’s Kiss trilogy, so we knew wanted to include an epic battle scene at some point before the end. Lots of our favourite fantasy books have epic battles in them. Here are our top four….

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling

Image result for harry potter and the deathly hallows adultWe love the battle scene between Lord Voldemort and Harry at the end of The Deathly Hallows. Not only does Harry finally destroy Voldemort once and for all (with a fine display of magical outmanoeuvring), but he mocks the hell out of Mouldy Voldy whilst doing it. And it’s joyful to behold. After all the pain, death and destruction inflicted by the Dark Lord, there’s something VERY satisfying in hearing Harry ridicule him:

‘You don’t learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?’ ‘You dare -’

‘Yes, I dare,’ said Harry, ‘I know things you don’t know, Tom Riddle. I know lots of important things that you don’t. Want to hear some, before you make another big mistake?’

It’s a deliciously humiliating defeat for Voldemort, all the more because it’s played out in front of an audience of Harry’s friends and Voldemort’s supporters. Unfortunately, the film of Deathly Hallows (Part 2) fails to replicate this mock-off in all of its sardonic glory, instead concentrating on CGI special effects. The final duel between Harry and Voldemort takes place outside Hogwarts in the grounds, without a single soul to witness Voldemort’s downfall. Shame.
The Two Towers - JRR Tolkien

Battles don’t get much more action-packed than the battle for Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers, the second book of The Lord of the Rings. There are orcs and wild men, kick-ass elves, ruckus-loving dwarves, and of course the dark and brooding Aragorn (oh, be still our beating hearts). Throughout the siege the men of Rohan (lead by King Theoden) valiantly defend their fortress from the vicious onslaught of Saruman’s forces. Lots of people die, and at various points it looks like the battle will be lost. Yet help is at hand in the form of Gandalf the White…

‘The White Rider was upon them, and the terror of his coming filled the enemy with madness. The wild men fell on their faces before him. The Orcs reeled and screamed and cast aside both sword and spear. Like a black smoke driven by a mounting wind they fled. Wailing they passed under the waiting shadow of the trees; and from that shadow none ever came again.’

Ah, the revenge of the trees. As battles go, this one’s truly epic.

Goddess - Josephine Angelini 

Image result for goddess by josephine angeliniThe battle scene in Goddess, the final book of the Starcrossed Trilogy, is notable in part because of the sheer number of Greek gods (and their mortal demigod descendants) that Angelini manages to pack into it: Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Aphrodite, Helen, Lucas, Hector, Orion - you get the picture. We were impressed by how Angelina pits her modern-day characters against those from Greek history in one all-out blockbuster battle. Best of all is the beautifully triumphant moment where demigod Helen manages to trap big bad gran-daddy Zeus in Everyland (an alternate world she’s created), averting a war between the gods and their half-human descendants on Earth. Finally, we see Helen complete her transition from awkward teenage girl to world-building superbeing...

‘Zeus looked around in panic. Helen knew he was trying to open a portal and leave. She could feel it, but he couldn’t do it. And as long as Helen existed and held ownership of the borders [of Everyland], he would never be able to leave.
‘Welcome to my Trojan horse,’ she said with a tight smile. ‘Enjoy. You’re going to be stuck inside it for eternity.’
Helen saw Zeus’s face freeze with horror, and then she left him, locked in her heavenly prison forever.’

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett
Image result for equal rites terry pratchett
Last but not least is Equal Rites, which is a book chock full of battles (between good and evil, witchcraft and wizardry, the sexes, etc). It has one fight scene however, between badass witch Granny Weatherwax and stuck-in-his-ways Cutangle (Archchancellor of the Unseen University) that trumps the rest. Determined to help Esk realise her destiny as the first female wizard, Granny Weatherwax won’t take no for an answer when the University refuses to admit her. There follows as standoff between witch and wizard of monumental proportions…

‘Cutangle vanished. Where he had been standing a huge snake coiled, posed to strike.
Granny vanished. Where she had been standing was a large wicker basket.
The snake became a giant reptile from the mists of time.
The basket became the snow wind of the Ice Giants coating the struggling monster with ice.
The reptile became a sabre-toothed tiger, crouched to spring.
The gale became a bubbling tar pit.
The tiger managed to become an eagle, stooping….’

And so on. Eventually the fight gets interrupted by the appearance of nasty creatures from another dimension who imprison Esk. After this Granny and Cutangle work together to get Esk back. They stop physically fighting at least, but the battle between the sexes continues...

Thank you to the lovely Emma for being part of our blog tour!

About Kate and Liz
We are sisters and best friends (try writing a book with someone else and you’ll see why that last bit is kind of important). After spending our childhood in Essex, we now live ten minutes away from each other in Surrey. We both studied history at university and went to work in London for a bit. When we both decided to write novels – on account of fictional people being much easier to deal with than real ones – it was obvious we should do it together.

Stuff Katharine likes: playing instruments badly; dead languages; LOTR; loud pop concerts; Jane Austen; Neill Gaiman; Loki; the Surrey Hills. Killing off characters.

Stuff Elizabeth likes: sketching, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cinema, long baths, kitchen discos, Terry Pratchett, Thor, London. Saving characters.

Friday, 9 March 2018

馃摎 REVIEW - THE WITCH'S KISS by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

The Witch's Kiss (The Witch's Kiss #1)
by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr
Publisher - HarperCollins Children's
Release Date - June 30th 2016 
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository 

Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse. Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?
With the third and final book in The Witch's Kiss trilogy and although I read this last year, I felt the need to reread the book in preparation for the last book. The funny thing is the first time I read it, it was for when I was going to meet them in my first book week at work, but I never reviewed it, and reading it for a second time I loved it even more.

The Corr sisters have created the next modern fairytale.

Then...The tale begins with Gwydion on a quest to bring back the King's daughter in return to take her as his betrothed. But when the King refuses his promise, Gwydion spirals out of control and makes sure that his daughter will know nothing of love. So he takes it away, in the shape of her son, Jack. Jack becomes his apprentice and Gwydion, the master of the darkest magic. When three sisters sworn to the Queen to destroy Gwydion, and temporarily they send him into an eternal sleep... 1500 years later he awakens.

Now...A true love's kiss, a sleeping master and his puppet - the King of Hearts - this is a story that Merry and Leo were told when they were children, what they didn't realise that is was real. The recent attacks in their village is no coincidence when The King of Hearts has finally awaken. Merry  is part of a bloodline of witches where they bound their bloodline to an oath, to finally complete what the three sisters prolonged to do, to destroy Gwydion by separating the King of Hearts and Jack once and for all.

What I loved is that Merry embraces that of a normal sixteen-year-old British teenager with the teenage problems, rebellious, boys, spots, friendships, but on top of all that she isn't a ordinary person. She's had grow up with this 'rumour' of her family, whispers in the locker room, the fact is she doesn't mind being magical, but when she first start to 'experiment' she realised all to quickly the dangers of an untrained magic and being selfish with it can have it's consequences.  So when this oath falls on her shoulders, I don't really blame her that acts out a bit, she has every right too. But one thing I really loved about Merry was that she's brave and courageous, to grow up, face her fears very quickly knowing that the fate of the magical and non-magical worlds is down to her. Plus falling in love with the bad guy also helped...

"I'm not the wicked witch, but I don't have to be perfect good fairy, either. I'm just me: a normal, complicated human, who happens to have a talent for witchcraft."

This book isn't just about fairy-tales and magic or curses, there so much in the way family. There's the good and bad like with any family, especially with Merry's mum's distance. But then you have the exceptional characters, that bring so much more to book. Leo, everyone needs a brother like Leo. Having his perspective in the book, spoke volumes, it added such a familiar and truly touching moments between Merry and Leo. It gives it texture to the book and an unbreakable bond that you can't help but just love so completely. But no matter what they'll always be there.
Then there is Gran, she's the life of the book. She isn't your regular type of Grandparent in the slightest, head of a coven she has a heavy responsibility not only training Merry but also as her grandmother too. She's a bit on the extravagant side but the coolest gran I've ever come across and that's why I loved her.

The Corr sisters have this uncanny way of creating a book together that is seamless. Sometimes in a book you can tell who has written what part and that's the beauty of it because they are so attune with each other and that's what I loved. Having met the Corr sisters; Liz and Kate, they have such affectionate, supportive, and down to earth personas that you can see that through their writing and especially through the sibling love of Leo and Merry.

Rating - 馃専馃専馃専馃専馃専

Thank you to HarperCollins Children Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

馃摎 ARC REVIEW - TO KILL A KINGDOM by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom
by Alexandra Christo
Publisher - Hot Key Books
Release Date - 8th March 2018
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
What more do you need when you have pirates, royalty, sea queens and sirens? Oh and not forgetting kick ass crew, romance, sacrifice and adventure. Two world's collide in this stunning debut novel by Alexandra Christo...

"If I would have just been a girl, like any other who walked the world. Keto created our race in war and savagery, but it was the sea queens who took her hate and made it our legacy. Queens like my mother, who taught their children to be empty warriors."

Told from two perspectives; Lira a siren, she is also known as the Princes Bane. A dark creature that seduces and lures the princes of each of the kingdoms and rips out their heart to bring more power to the sea kingdom. Being the daughter of the Sea Queen, she has a duty to make sure that when the time comes she can become the Sea Queen that her mother approves of. But when she does something that Sea Queen disapproves of, she is punished and reduced to being a creature she loathes, a human.

Elian, by blood he is the Prince of Midaos when he's on land, but when he's not he rules the sea as Captain of the Saad. His reputation proceeds him as the Siren Killer, he wants to rid the world of the creatures that threaten the waters and finally end the war the has been waging between human and siren.On his quest, he rescues a girl named Lira and two worlds collide but what happens when their battle may be closer to home, when Lira can contrive a plan and use the ship as an advantage to get what she wants.

What I loved through both of their chapters was their character progression and the intensity of their persona that you are instantly ready to dive right in. Who knew I could fall for such evil creatures, I mean I researched Siren and they aren't beautiful, they are totally opposite of mermaids, but Lira's character developed in such a way that her sinister and evil nature surpassed itself when she became human. To the Sea Queen she is seen as weak, but Lira became more than just human.

Elian is more Captain than Prince. His duties and expectations lie within the waves, his loyalties are to his family, his crew on the Saad. My favourites characters being Kye and Madrid, I would love for them to have their own story. But more than that, he is proud and he would sacrifice himself for the sake of his kingdom whether on land or on the sea. He is driven by the darkness of the sirens that has inflicted his life, and he won't let it go until he's finished his quest. Lira and Elian are more alike than they know, a perfect match.

A brilliant take on the classic tale of The Little Mermaid, this year seems to be the year of mermaids fantastical stories. Alexandra's novel is the first book that I've read from under the sea and I have to say that I loved this world without a doubt. The world building was just beautiful, from the sands and ices of the most powerful kingdoms, to the depth and darkness of the sea below. You can smell the sea, you can feel and sense the emotional connections between all of the characters. These touches add shows off  Alexandra's quality of her writing, full of darkness, emotion, romance and adventure. There is more to this world, more to this kingdom that needs more stories of their own but at the moment this is a standalone and a cracking one at that. To Kill a Kingdom is beauty of The Little Mermaid with a mix of one of Sinbad's dangerous and magical adventures.

Rating - 馃専馃専馃専馃専

Thank you to Hot Key Books for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Hi Everyone,
What a way to start March and also to celebrate Matt's debut novel, Orphan Monster Spy on World Book Day. I can't honestly wait to sink myself into this book, with current affairs in the world at the moment OMS is the book to watch out for and really resonates with the celebration of female heroes. We certainly need more of them. 

As I said I still need to read this book, so my review will be up a little later in the month. So today Matt has written a guest post about the a female hero called Flora 717 from The Bees. But before that here is a little bit about the phenomenal new book from Matt...Orphan Monster Spy.

A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah--blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish--finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He's a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can't attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she's ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she'd ever imagined.
Release date - March 8th 2018
Publisher - Usborne 

Flora 717 from The Bees

I love Watership Down with a burning Frith-like passion. It’s a deep, emotional, terrifying and multi-layered work and much of what I’ve learned about responsibility or leadership in my life comes from that book and the universe around it. Yet, like Tolkein’s work, there are virtually no female characters of note. To anyone pointing out the patriarchal nature of rabbit society, I have to say – this isn’t real. No fiction is truly realistic and the exclusion of female, LGBT+ and characters of colour in your fiction is a choice – even if it’s often a subconscious one. I guess Richard Adams was a product of his era, but the promotion of Hyzenthlay to Co-Chief Rabbit in the 1996 follow-up Tales from Watership Down suggests that he had become aware of this gender imbalance.

Laline Paull’s debut The Bees inevitably draws comparison with Adam’s masterwork – s’animals innit? – but turns the patriarchy on its head, by setting a tale of inequality and control, freedom and choice in the matriarchal world of the beehive.

Born within the rigid strata of bee society, Flora 717 is the lowest of the low, part of the janitor caste and underclass of hive existence. Bigger, darker and uglier than she should be, as well as gifted with the power of speech above her station, her life seems doomed to be a short one at the hands of the deformity police. It’s never clear whether the Sage, of the highest priestess class, who rescues 717 and promotes her to the royal nursery, is part of some conspiracy to stimulate variation in an endangered hive. Certainly, Sister Sage’s actions border on the sacrilegious. But beyond this early intervention 717 forges her own destiny and rises through the hierarchy, all the while buffeted by competing chemical and biological imperatives.

717 wants to lay her own eggs – a terrible blasphemy punishable by instant death – yet her own desires sit within her fierce loyalty to the hive and the dying Queen. She battles their dangerous wasp cousins, negotiates with spiders, manoeuvres through complex internal politics and the deadly polluted countryside, before finally leading a revolution born of the need to survive.

The novel discusses fundamentalist religion, fanaticism and choice over fertility, themes reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale, yet unlike Offred, 717 has no memory of a better time or a more humane system. She is working off instinct – an instinct to nurture, to defend. 717 is an insect, yet she’s addressing issues of women the world over – working mothers, women with no control over their lives, women held in frameworks of responsibility and mental load, the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised.

Pretty good for a bug.

 I've never read Watership Down but I think after Orphan Monster Spy and this post I need an education on female heroes. 

About Matt
Matt Killeen was born in Birmingham and, like many of his generation, was absorbed by tales of the war and obsessed with football from an early age. Guitars arrived at fourteen, wrecking any hopes of so-called normality. He has had a great many careers – some creative, some involving laser guns – and has made a living as an advertising copywriter and largely ignored music and sports journalist. He fulfilled a childhood ambition and became a writer for the world’s best-loved toy company in 2010. He lives near London with his soulmate, children, dog and musical instruments, looking wistfully north at a hometown that has been largely demolished & rebuilt in his lengthy absence.Orphan Monster Spy is his first novel.
Twitter | Goodreads

Sound amazing right?! I can't wait to read Orphan Monster Spy. We need more authors like Matt and his characters like Sarah. Be sure to stop by A Little But A Lot next on this blog tour for celebration of female heroes.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

#FANTASTICALFEB with Josh Martin (author of Ariadnis)

Hi Everyone, As you may all know I'm having a fantasy month on the blog, so as well as reading fantasy books, I'm also featuring some of my favourites as well as discovering some new authors too. So my very last but no means least, guest author on my blog is Josh Martin, author of the Erthe series, Ariadnis the first in the series..

As part of this month, the publishers very kindly sent me a copy of each of his books including his latest Anassa, which was released 8th February. So before I hand over to Josh talking about why science fiction and fantasy can save the world. It's an amazing guest post, one I found so interesting. Here is a little bit more about her book.

Image result for anassa josh martin
Back then I thought that if it weren't for that cliff, our cities would be one and there would be no need for all this fierceness toward each other. But then I learned about pride and tradition and prophecy, and those things are harder than rock.

Joomia and Aula are Chosen. They will never be normal. They can never be free.

On the last island on Erthe, Chosen Ones are destined to enter Ariadnis on the day they turn eighteen. There, they must undertake a mysterious and deadly challenge. For Joomia and Aula, this means competing against each other, to end the war that has seethed between their cities for nine generations.
As the day draws nearer, all thoughts are on the trial ahead. There's no space for friendship. No time for love. However much the girls might crave them.

But how you prepare for a task you know nothing certain about? Nothing, except that you must win, at whatever cost, or lose everything.

You Should Read Robin McKinley, and here’s why.

Her books grow in strange, prickly and unexpected shapes out of the ancient soil of fairy-tales and mythology. You know that her stories are fantasy, yet they carry a world-weariness that grounds them in reality. There are no easy shortcuts or tidy endings in a McKinley book. Her heroes slog for their magic, fight for their solutions.

They fight dragons, yes. Some of them carry the spirit of the moon inside them, or the gift of beast-speech - but before they save that child, that litter of puppies or break in that horse there are chores to do:
If Princess Aerin wants to do battle with dragons, then she must make her own burn ointment - and trial it herself. Rae Seddon isn’t a renowned baker in her vampire-infested town because she stays in bed every morning. Before Jake ever meets a real dragon, he must clean out the cages of some lesser species. If Lissar is to survive the winter in her shepherd’s hut, she must first make sure she has the means to keep warm, to eat, drink and clean. There’s a work ethic among the characters of these stories, and nothing comes unearned.

There is darkness in McKinley’s books too - Beauregard the vampire and Maur the dragon and Fthoom the sorcerer, for instance, are festering vessels of evil. And yet though you’ll see a one-on-one battle between hero and nemesis, the damage of these villains is often far greater in the aftermath than in the moment they’re face-to-face. More often than that, as with all great stories, her heroes are usually facing something bigger inside themselves than any enemy without.

Is there romance? From a cursory glance at her titles - two of which are retellings of Beauty and the Beast you’d assume so. Well yeah, kind of. But with McKinley’s characters, it always seems to be less about staring deeply into the well of each other’s eyes and more about two shy creatures learning to recognise the other as a kindred spirit.

The world of a McKinley novel is always beautifully realised too - you can feel the cold bite of a mountain stream, you can smell the dusty interiors of palace walls, you can taste “cinnamon rolls the size of your head”. McKinley has a gift in making you feel the world stretching out as far as the eye can see, while only showing you a sliver of that world - a real boon in any fantasy writer (and the reason, I’d argue, that people are often confused by her lack of sequels). She’s also refreshingly precise about practical, realistic details. Escaping from a Vampire Lair? The heroine still needs to pee! Exploring the wilderness of a mountainside? You still need to take a rest as your period hits. Burned by a fire-spirit? You’re going to need to find more than just a bandage!

The other thing I should mention is the sheer amount of animals - fantastical and not - that McKinley manages to weave into almost every narrative she picks up. Unlike many fantasy writers, McKinley (mostly) avoids talking animals, but will always make them sentient, watchful, and often much more intuitive than their human counterparts. Excellent examples of this are the bees in Chalice or the fleethounds in Deerskin. They never act like humans: and exist according to unwritten rules of their species - yet the magic of them is that they feel as real and important as the humans of the story - never merely an extension of our heroines. I haven’t even mentioned her magical creatures yet, but maybe I’ll leave it here, I hope I’ve convinced you to give her a try if you haven’t already.

If it ends up being my life’s purpose to press Robin McKinley books into people’s hands, so be it!

Image result for josh martin author
 About Josh
Josh Martin writes and draws his way through life and is currently residing in London. He has aspired to novel writing since he was a tadpole and has since graduated from Exeter University before completing Bath Spa's Writing For Young People MA.

His particular interest in heroines, fantasy, environment, gender studies and wisdom led him to write his first book Ariadnis.

Thank you to Josh and Team Bkmrk for being part of #FantasticalFeb. 

Also I want to say a massive thank you to everyone, authors and publishers that have taken part this month - it's been truly amazing! 

Monday, 26 February 2018

#FANTASTICALFEB with Sif Sigmarsd贸ttir (author of I Am Traitor)

Hi Everyone, As you may all know I'm having a fantasy month on the blog, so as well as reading fantasy books, I'm also featuring some of my favourites as well as discovering some new authors too. So my penultimate guest author on my blog is Sif Sigmarsd贸ttir, author of I Am Traitor

I have a copy of I Am Traitor from before it's release and again it's one of those that is on my TBR but near to the top, I promise you. I Am Fugitive, the sequel will be publishing in June. So before I hand over to Sif talking about why science fiction and fantasy can save the world. It's an amazing guest post, one I found so interesting. Here is a little bit more about her book. 

Image result for I Am Traitor
At the end of the world, who can you trust? The story of one teenager's fight against an extra-terrestrial invasion. For fans of Michael Grant, Suzanne Collins and Robert Muchamore

London has been targeted by extra-terrestrial life; large pipes fall from the sky, sucking teenagers up into a world that is entirely unimaginable.

Amy Sullivan surrenders in a quest to save the teenage population. But nobody can prepare her for what's on the other side of the pipes; a grim and gruelling dystopian world run a specialised government. In order to save the human race, she must literally fight the other species.

Then Amy meets Caesar, a boy who doesn't seem entirely normal.

Amy must decide what's more important - saving planet Earth, or following her heart - wherever it might lead.

This is the modern day War of the Worlds with romance

Why science fiction and fantasy can save the world

Noon was approaching. I was at home, letting everyone think I was a serious writer writing my latest political radio column for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, when in fact I was still in my pyjamas watching This Morning and seeing how many pieces of Rolo I could fit into my mouth at once – I was going for a personal record of thirteen.
The phone rang. It was my boss at the radio station.
“There’s a problem.”
I tried to swallow. There was indeed a problem – a big, sticky, five tubes a week, 60p each, three quid a week, twelve pounds a month, one hundred and forty-four pounds a year, I-don’t-love-anyone-enough-to-give-them-my-last-Rolo problem.
“There has been a complaint about your last column.”
Oh, that kind of problem.
“The prime minister’s office did not like it.”
I tried to get the caramel off my teeth with my tongue. “Well, they weren’t meant to.”
Pause. “I understand you’re doing another column on the PM.”
“I am.”
“We’d appreciate if you wouldn’t.” He hung up the phone.
I stared at the TV. Was that a threat? Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby were interviewing a guy who was about to drink his own wee on live television – he said it made him think clearer and his eyes sparkle.
I didn’t need to drink wee to see very clearly that I had only two options: 1) I could stay safe in my job and write a column about what Kim Kardashian’s behind had been up to that week. Or: 2) I could risk it and take a stand.
To make a long story short: I took the second option – and, later, the consequences. But that was not the end of the matter. Thanks to my other job, that of a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I am about to have the last laugh.

A moral force
Last month the world lost one of its greatest novelists, Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin was a varied writer. She wrote 20 novels, dozen books of poetry, more than 100 short stories, 13 children’s books, five volumes of translations and a guide for writers. But she was always best known for being a writer of fantasy and science fiction.
Le Guin was a champion of the genre. In an interview with The Guardian in 2005 she spoke about the genre’s ability to serve as a moral force. Much of fantasy writing she said, was “about power – just look at Tolkien. It’s a means to examine what it does to the person who has it, and to others.” She said that “the great instrument of moral good is the imagination… If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly.”
I don’t think I sound like a prophet of doom when I say that there’s a lot wrong with the world we live in; wars, corruption, climate change, modern day slavery… so many moral transgressions that humanity has to “imagine the results of” in order to tackle.
I have a confession to make: Even though my job as a journalist requires me to keep up with the news, sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, I can’t bring myself to open the papers – the news is just too horrible, too depressing. So, sometimes I just don’t (I hope my editor in chief at the newspaper I work isn’t reading this).
I don’t think I’m alone in avoiding this mirror to the horrors of our time. But how are we supposed to make the world we live in a better place if we refuse to examine what’s wrong with it?
The answer is fiction. In particular science fiction and fantasy. It’s within science fiction and fantasy that we tackle the big issues, dissect them, get to the core of them and are reminded of “our moral responsibility”.

Facts and fiction
No one would have liked to read a book called When the Prime Minister of Iceland Tried to Have Me Fired from my Job I Cried and Ate Two Whole Tubes of Rolo. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a story worth telling.
Animal Farm by George Orwell tells us so much more about the path towards a dictatorship than a 1000-page biography of Joseph Stalin ever could. 1984 warns us about the dangers of censorship and government surveillance more potently than a report of some political think-tank. Post-apocalyptic novels such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood are much starker warnings against climate change than, say, a ten-hour Ted Talk by Al Gore with graphs reaching so high you’d need one of Elon Musk’s rockets to find its peak.
Stories reach into your soul. Facts just reach into your brain and activate your prefrontal boretex which serves to makes you fall asleep from boredom (that’s not a scientific fact – please don’t quote that… that was just a sad attempt at a joke).

The fundamental truth
I just handed in the manuscript of my latest novel to my publisher. It could have been called When the Prime Minister of Iceland Tried to Have Me Fired from my Job I Cried and Ate Two Whole Tubes of Rolo, but it’s not. It’s called I Am Fugitive and it will be out in the summer. If you read it and come across a neurotic, power-hungry statesman with censorship tendencies you know who I’m writing about. Because science fiction and fantasy don’t give us the facts; they give us something much more important. They give us the fundamental truth.

Image result for sif sigmarsd贸ttirAbout Sif
Hi. My name is Sif Sigmarsd贸ttir. I’m a writer and a journalist. I live in London with my two children, Inspiration-Drain-One and Inspiration-Drain-Two, my husband who goes by the name He-Who-Takes-Out-The-Trash and a family of moths that are unfortunately not the only reason I can’t buy myself a proper cashmere sweater.

I’ve been writing children’s books in Icelandic for over ten years. I Am Traitor is my debut novel in the English language. If you want to support my dream of owning a cashmere sweater — and a house without moths where one can actually hang a cashmere sweater without it being eaten up — you can buy my book from your local bookstore.

I have a BA in history from the University of Iceland, and an MA in children’s literature from the University of Reading. I write a column for the Icelandic newspaper Fr茅ttabla冒i冒. My most recent book in Icelandic, Freya’s Saga, was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize.

Thank you to Sif and Team Bkmrk for being part of #FantasticalFeb. 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

#FANTASTICALFEB with Sara Holland (author of Everless)

Hi Everyone, What I a way to start your weekend. As you may all know I'm having a fantasy month on the blog, so as well as reading fantasy books, I'm also featuring some of my favourites as well as discovering some new authors too. So next guest author on my blog is the brilliant Sara Holland with her bestseller novel Everless.  

I still have this on my shelf and I still need to get read it. Shameful I know. But I'm so excited to have Sara on blog. So before I hand over to Sara talking about the concept behind Everless, her is a little bit more about her book. 

Time is a prison. She is the key. Packed with danger, temptation and desire - a perfect read for fans of The Red Queen. 

In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything - even time. Ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery, hours, days and years have been extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry.

Jules and her father are behind on their rent and low on hours. To stop him from draining himself to clear their debts, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family.

There, Jules encounters danger and temptation in the guise of the Gerling heir, Roan, who is soon to be married. But the web of secrets at Everless stretches beyond her desire, and the truths Jules must uncover will change her life for ever ... and possibly the future of time itself.
The concept behind Everless... by Sara Holland

I’m often asked how I came up with the idea for my YA fantasy novel Everless—or more specifically the central conceit of the world, that time is transferable and can be bought and sold, hoarded and stolen. At first, it seems pretty out-there: time can be extracted from blood, bound to metal, and consumed; and in Sempera, the feudalistic queendom where Everless takes place, it’s molded into coins, called blood-irons, and used as currency. The land is ruled by a selfish Queen and subdivided into estates controlled by powerful families. The rich live for centuries, while the poor—like Everless’s heroine, Jules Ember—trade their time away just to keep a roof over their heads, and invariably die young.

But even in this world of alchemy and blood-irons, the basic dynamics of Semperan society aren’t too dissimilar from the ones that govern our own. We see the same patterns: a privileged few living their life without any thought for how their actions affect people below them on the pecking order; and the greater number just struggling to survive. Some people fighting the system, and most just trying to get by. Everless’s heroine, Jules, is driven mostly by a desire to protect the people she loves, but there’s no small amount of resentment in there too—resentment that through no fault of her own, she has to struggle and fight while others sail through life, because that’s just the way the world is.

While in real life our time isn’t literally money, the two are tied together in all sorts of ways—the phrase “time is money” has some accuracy to it. If you’ve ever been paid by the hour, that’s literally saying an hour of your time is worth $8 or $12 or $20 or whatever. And frighteningly, zooming out, it’s pretty obvious that our wealth or lack thereof does impact the length of our life as well as the quality. With our society being what it is—with issues of healthcare, housing, and access to resources coming into play—the rich live longer, and we usually take it for granted. Just as those in Sempera do.

So I think the concept of time as currency resonated with me because it takes something that’s already an abstract reality in our world—the connection between time and money—and making it tangible. I think the best fantasy concepts are ones that don’t feel totally alien; as readers, viewers, and audience members, we can buy in better to a fantasy conceit if in it we see a reflection of our own struggles. It’s like looking at a funhouse mirror, or viewing the world through a pane of stained glass—we can see ourselves, albeit in a warped or exaggerated way.

It’s my hope that Everless does that for its readers, offering an escape from the real world while still reflecting it back to them.

Evermore the second book in the series is coming very soon.

Sub / Urban Photography
About Sara Holland

I grew up in small-town Minnesota among hundreds of books. I graduated from Wesleyan University and worked in a tea shop, a dentist’s office, and a state capitol building before heading to New York to work in publishing. These days, I can be found exploring the city’s bookstores or finding new ways to put caffeine in my bloodstream. EVERLESS is my debut novel.
Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Thank you so much to Team BKMRK and Sara for being part of my #FantasticalFeb!

Monday, 19 February 2018

#FANTASTICALFEB with Taran Martharu (author of The Summoner Series)

Hi Everyone, As you may all know I'm having a fantasy month on the blog, so as well as reading fantasy books, I'm also featuring some of my favourites as well as discovering some new authors too. So next guest author on my blog is Taran Matharu, author of The Summoner trilogy. So before I hand over to Taran talking about how to design a fantasy creature, here is a little bit more about the series. 

About the Summoner Trilogy
Image result
From The Novice:
Enter an immersive fantasy world where one boy’s ability to summon demons will change the fate of an empire…

Fletcher was nothing more than a humble blacksmith’s apprentice, when a chance encounter leads to the discovery that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, he must travel with his demon to the Vocans Academy, where the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. The academy will put Fletcher through a gauntlet of gruelling lessons, training him as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against the savage orcs.

Rubbing shoulders with the children of the most powerful nobles in the land, Fletcher must tread carefully. The power hungry Forsyth twins lurk in the shadows, plotting to further their family’s interests. Then there is Sylva, an elf who will do anything she can to forge an alliance between her people and Hominum, even if it means betraying her friends. Othello is the first ever dwarf at the academy, and his people have long been oppressed by Hominum’s rulers, which provokes tension amongst those he studies alongside. Fletcher will find himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with nothing but his demon Ignatius to help him. As the pieces on the board manoeuvre for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands...
Taran's first book in the Summoner Trilogy, The Novice is one of 5 YA books for World Book Day - only £2.50!!! Look out for it all good booksellers around March 1st!

Designing Fantasy Worlds – By Taran Matharu
Writing in a fantasy world is no easy task. World building is tricky – too much, too soon and you're 'info dumping'. Too little, too late and the reader will have very little idea of what the world is like.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about designing the world in the first place, before you write the story. In fantasy, the world is often the first thing readers look at when deciding if it's a book they would like to read, so it's important to make it a good one.

Five stages of creating a new world:

Step 1: The Premise

After the first exercise, you will know what the basic premise of your world is. Maybe you want to write about dragon riders vs. necromancers, for example. So drill down into these things first. Is there a military element to the dragon riders and if so, what's it like? How many types of dragon are there? Are necromancers born with the ability, or is it taught?

Exercises: Describe your world in one or two sentences, then write down four elements that explore the basic premise of the world you are designing.

Step 2: The Wider World

Once you have the main stage set, ask yourself, how does this affect the day to day of the wider world? Are there dragon transports, carrying goods back and forth? Do people no longer fear death, knowing they can return as the undead? Is this a medieval fantasy, or are there gunpowder weapons powerful enough to take down a dragon? These are the things you need to explore before you begin writing. It will add detail and colour to the world you build, and the story will be all the richer for it.

Exercise: Write down four ways your premise impacts on the wider world.

Step 3: The People

Quite simply, a world is only as good as the people in it. It is somewhat an extension of Step 2, with more focus on the different groups of people who populate the world. Their history and motivations can even add a political element. Are undead slaves doing all the work? Perhaps there are activists, campaigning for undead rights. What are dragon riders like? Do other troops support them, or do they fight alone? Are there royal and noble families? Again, these questions will not only allow you to build a more coherent world, but also allow you to develop the characters that will feature in your book.

Exercise: Write down four groups of people in your world.

Step 4: The Geography

The fantasy map is always fun to design. But it also serves as an important backdrop for your world. Is it a tropical paradise, full of mountains for dragons to roost in? Or is it a flat wasteland, perfect for roving hordes of zombies.

The landscape the world takes place in is important. Although great swathes of purple prose describing the landscape can be irritating. Find the right balance and your work takes on a cinematic quality. Laying this all out early will help you when developing your world and the plot itself. Do the distances involved have an impact? Are some places impassable, requiring the hero to take a certain route? Think about how important geography is in The Lord of the Rings.

Again, Step 2 comes into play here. With zombies everywhere, you might have enormous walled cities, the last bastions for humanity's survival. Or maybe it is the dragons that are the real threat, scaring people into living in underground cities.

Exercise: Write down four ways geography impacts your world.

Step 5: Choosing What Belongs and What Doesn't.

Be ambitious, but realistic. At the same time, try to stay flexible.

If you're anything like me, you'll have more ideas than you can count. Keep them all in the back of your mind as you write, but always be aware of one thing:

Sometimes, a world can be too complex and creative. You'll find yourself bogged down in lengthy explanations, or exploring some aspect of the world's intricacies that throws the plot off course. Be wary of your book becoming an encyclopaedic exploration of a world, rather than a story.

Finally, don't be afraid to adapt as you write. Maybe some aspect of the world doesn't fit, or you can't do it justice in the text you can spare to feature it in. Perhaps it has no relevance to the story, serving as a distraction rather than a backdrop. When writing, it's important to keep to the core of the world first and filter in the rest when it feels natural. Your writer instincts might warn you that something isn't quite working. Listen to them if they do.

Taran Matharu
About Taran Matharu

Taran Matharu is a New York Times bestselling author. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.
Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.
Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’.
Thanks to and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months. After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

Thank you so much to Team BKMRK and Taran for being part of my #FantasticalFeb! Don't forget to bag WBD The Novice for only £2.50!