Sunday, 20 May 2018

Weekly What's Up - sick, school, sleep

The royal wedding. Let's talk about it. I absolutely loved it, thought it was amazing, and Meghan looked incredible. Also, couple goals <3 I melted a few times. 
AND AMAL CLOONEY'S OUTFIT. Gosh. She was my fave - she looked sensational. Also, the Queen, Kate, Meghan's mother, Serena Williams......BEAUTIFUL.  

Apart from an amazing Saturday, it was hasn't been a great week for me. I've only scraped by with school because I was sick, and spent half of Friday in bed with a headache that made it impossible for me to get up. I hate flu because it's not just the nose you get - it's the aches, the headaches, the sensitive eyes, the temperature. And I slept so much
But I'm already getting better :)    

Posts of the Week

I took part in the blog tour for My Sweet Friend.

I shared some aesthetics from my WIP...

I reviewed Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.

Currently Reading

I didn't actually realise I was reading this many books until I collected their covers for this post ;) Oops.

For Review

Thank you so much, Penguin Random House, for these amazing paperbacks!

Around the Blogosphere

Uma reviews Ash Princess

Heather reviews Zenith

Olivia reviews A Thousand Perfect Notes

Ronnie reviews Nothing But Sky

Amber Elise reviews Furyborn

Aneta reviews From Twinkle, with Love

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

ASH PRINCESS (Ash Princess #1) - by Laura Sebastian

ASH PRINCESS - Laura Sebastian
Published: April 2018 - Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young adult / romance / epic fantasy
Pages: 432.
Triggers/Content Advisory: One traumatic whipping scene / mild sexual innuendos / mild violence
Format: Paperback ARC.
Source: Gift from Pan Macmillan.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner. For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside. Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield. For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

I buddy-read Ash Princess with the amazing Uma from Books.Bags.Burgers. You can read her review HERE. After seeing the many 5 star reviews on Goodreads, we were both excited to start reading this book.

The writing is beautiful. There is the occasional info dumping, but otherwise, for a debut, the writing is solid. I liked it.
But the characters are uninteresting. Theo is one-dimensional, there's absolutely nothing unique about her, and I'm not even sure if she has a personality. The secondary characters aren't great either -  they're dull and stereotypical - and the love triangle is predictable and unnecessary.
Overall, I couldn't connect to or care about anyone. They're all cardboard cut-outs.

But the plot is the worst. I could endure the characters and enjoy the writing, but the plot has no redeeming factors:

- There is no real conflict. Sebastian plays it safe with petty troubles and easy-to-control situations, and keeps events on a straight path to a risk-free finale. Every incident in the book is devoid of excitement and extremely underwhelming because of the lack of threat. It's too safe, and considering the premise, it definitely shouldn't be.
- The story is also too easy and convenient, and events are random and coincidental. Blaise killing off Theo's guards to get them out of the way, Blaise giving Theo the poison to use against her enemies, Blaise getting the ships ready for the escape and making sure Theo's friends are safe, are all laughably opportune events. It's all taken care of off the page and it is SO. CONVENIENT.
- There are also incidents like the Kaiser's wife's death and the little uprising that gets Theo punished that I don't think worked in the story simply because they're isolated events with no direct ties to the main plot. They just happen (and they have little consequence). Wouldn't it have been so much better if Theo had implicitly caused the Kaiser's wife's death? Or if she'd done something to cause the uprising? Just get her involved, please! Theo doesn't lead the plot, and as the heroine, she should be doing stuff, making mistakes, following impulses, etc, that set the dominoes in motion.
Yet she doesn't. She thinks about doing stuff more than she actually does the stuff. She isn't making the plot move - it's moving regardless of what she's doing.

Ash Princess is beautifully written with an intense premise. But the characters are cardboard cut-outs, the heroine doesn't move the plot, and the story has very little conflict.  

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The WIP Diaries: JACKIE Aesthetics......

This is another post in my WIP Diaries blog series where I talk about my writing and what I'm currently working on. Check out the previous posts here:

MONSTROUS: a short story
What I'm currently writing...
MORGANA series
The CONTORTION trilogy

Today I'm sharing some character aesthetics! The peeps below are secondary characters in my WIP - Jackie - but since I haven't finished my heroine's one yet, she's missing from the group. I'm hoping to shows hers in a few weeks :)

In the meantime, here are the supporting cast: 

Cali (heroine's close friend and Tikee's sister) 

 Liam (heroine's friend and love interest) 

Minh (heroine's best friend) 

Tikee (heroine's friend and Cali's brother) 

Are you writing anything at the moment? What's your WIP about? Do you like creating aesthetics? 

Monday, 14 May 2018

Blog Tour and Intl Giveaway: MY SWEET FRIEND - by H.A. Leuschel

Today I'm sharing an excerpt and international giveaway for this beautiful book! Read on to find out about the story...

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives...
A perfect friend ... or a perfect impostor? Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships. But is Alexa all she claims to be? As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack's, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted? In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Goodreads   /    Purchase 

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

Twitter    /      Website      /     Goodreads     /   Facebook


Win a signed copy of My Sweet Friend!

*Terms and Conditions
– Worldwide entries welcome.
 Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Note from the author: 

Many dream to become the next Husain Bolt, Nobel Prize Winner or movie star? Much of what children are taught today is about reaching goals, coming first, standing out and being one of a kind.

Without hard work and learning to accept failures and hardship, very few are in a position though to reach those heights. So, what if you haven’t got the grit, little personal ambition to sit down and work? What if appearances are everything to you?
There’s one way to get there and that is via the observation of fellow humans, how they tick, what their strengths and especially what their weaknesses are and then lie yourself to the top. Lies and betrayals have fed numerous story lines in literature since time immemorial. From psychopaths, protagonists out to achieve their goal at all cost, deceiving husbands and wives to those simply scared to be found out, lying comes in many shapes and colours. Their consequences are always devastating to the injured party, leaving a trail of hurt.

Deception and lies leave behind broken hearts and suspicion, cause anxiety and often further deceit and in my latest novella ‘My Sweet Friend’ this is no exception.

It had all happened quite fast. I was standing in the queue at the ticket office, waiting for my turn, when my memory travelled back to the day I’d gone back for a cup of coffee to Jack’s apartment. ‘Let’s have some fun, shall we? No one has to know.’
The words had worked their magic because he, like countless others before him, could not resist my direct advances. The signals were clear and without complicated initiation periods. They’d soon be all too keen to assuage their guilty consciences when it suited me later. At the next opportunity, facing each other over evening drinks, I started tickling his conscience.
‘Are you worried about Rosie finding out?’ I asked, and he blanched at the question, his eyes focused on his Apple Martini.
He took another mouthful, then looked at me. ‘I care about Rosie and I think our little game is a mistake.’ He’d chosen the wrong condescending tone, as if he were the father telling off his silly little girl.
 ‘Whoa, seriously? Are you suggesting it was a chore to spend time with me? You’re just like every other guy, you know. Alexa is fun but let’s dump her for the little mouse who prefers women,’ I said, watching Jack squirm and shift in his seat.
 ‘Why do you keep calling her a little mouse? That’s offensive. She’s your friend, you said. Since when do friends talk badly about each other behind their backs?’ He slapped his hand on the table. ‘Calm down. She is, and she’s really sweet, but I sometimes feel she’s too clingy and needy, calling me in the middle of the night to cry on my shoulder, so to speak, borrowing money from me because she can’t pay back her credit card bills.’
The words tumbled out of me without much reflection, so to back them up I showed him the long list of calls and text notifications Rosie had sent, after I had called her in desperation in the middle of the night, then had given her the silent treatment. I left the latter fact out, of course, watching the dismay sadden Jack’s face.

Hope you like the look of this book! 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Weekly What's Up - birthdays, watching, reading

This is a really short weekly round-up ;) Not sure how that actually happened, but oh well.   

It was my birthday on Thursday!! I turned 18! It feels so weird and terrifying and exciting. I got wonderful presents, ate amazing food, and spent most of the day relaxing. My parents also gave me season 1 of Big Little Lies, which I was EXTREMELY ecstatic about. ( I've already finished watching it and it is sooooo good. Go watch it now). 

I'm also watching a Netflix mini series at the moment with my Mum and I highly recommend it. It's called Safe, and is based off of the thriller by Harlan Coben. If you enjoy crime shows, you should love this one too. It's addictive.  

Posts of the Week

I rounded up all the Romanticised Abuse discussion posts that I've done so far.

I reviewed A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews.

Currently Reading

I'm not enjoying either of these so far and I feel TERRIBLE :(

For Review

Looking forward to The Astonishing Colour of After, and kinda hesitant about The Darkest Minds #2 and #3...

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching?