X is for … eXcessive fashion reports

I always knew filling the X slot in my alphabet reading challenge might be difficult, so when I spotted a book titled Xoe early in the year I grabbed it. Due to my lack of choice I wasn’t especially hopeful.

Cover of Sara C Roethle's Xoe

Click to try it for yourself

Fie on me for a cynical doubter! Actually, Xoe was mostly a fun read. The relationships between the female characters was great fun and well-depicted. The paranormal elements were good and intriguing (we had the introduction of demons to bring a different slant to the customary paranormal vampires and werewolves fare). What I enjoyed less was the romantic element which felt slightly forced and clichéd, as though the author had been told to make the romance more obvious. And there were an awful lot of fashion reports. Maybe this stuck with me because I rarely describe my characters, and never in detail (I’m often told off by editors for this). But what do you need to fix a character in your mind? I don’t think very much – maybe hair and eye colour, and then if something’s remarkable about them mention that: they might be very tall, or always wear a hat. But in Xoe we seemed to constantly get a run down of what each character was wearing when we met them, which I found unnecessary.

But maybe I’m the one out of step, reader – do you like a full and detailed description of characters, or just a broad stroke of description that you can fill in for yourself?

And it’s hard to believe I’m nearly at the end of my alphabet reading challenge! Check back next week to see what I’ve found starting with Y.

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W is for … why is it “double” U?

It’s always puzzled me why “w” doesn’t get its own name, but just gets called “two u’s”. I guess it didn’t need a name until it was written down, and then it does look a little bit like two “u’s” side by side. But in that case, why doesn’t “h” get called “long n” or “stretched n”?

Okay, so that’s a bit of a tangent, but this is the sort of stuff that keeps me awake at night, readers!

And it’s also aimed to be a bit of a distraction from the fact that I’ve stayed on the letter W for an extra week.

Cover of Vee Bergin's Who Runs the World?

Click to start reading

I could not tear myself away from Who Runs the World, readers. Virginia Bergin’s latest, it’s a post-apocalyptic treasure. I love Virginia Bergin’s books. The end of the world is real and messy and, in places, very dark. There are no easy answers, and she doesn’t bother with the usual YA fare of “shucks, the world ended, now just overthrow this evil dictator and everything will be fine.” The world ended. ‘Fine’ is going to take a while once that’s happened. There were some good, uncomfortable questions raised here, and River’s assumptions were illuminating in so many ways – as were Mason’s.

And writing in the future enables a sense of distance from now. I got a visceral sense of disappointment when the nudity conversation happened (why do women have to change their behaviour the moment a man shows up?), and River’s sense of puzzlement about how come men had matters stacked in their favour in the past got a wry smile.

I’ve – crikey! – just visited Goodreads and seen that it’s provoking all manner of strong feelings. That’s not a bad thing for a story. For me, I’m strongly on the positive side. Highly recommended!

The Alphabet Challenge

I’m reading my way through the alphabet at present. Nearly at the end – check back next week to see how I got on with my X book: Xoe.

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W is for … well recommended!

I joined Instagram recently, on a bit of a three-line whip from a group I’m working with. But I’m glad I got the push because Instagram (or, more accurately bookstagram, since I’m in it for the books) is fabulous. It reminds me of what twitter was like before everyone used it to promote and run: overflowing with book love and a fabulous bunch of like-minded people enthusing about books they’ve read or want to read. I’m in a couple of challenges to give me ideas and I’m thoroughly enjoying posting pretty book pictures and connecting with people who like the same kind of books as I do (if you hang out on Instagram, find me @katyhaye).

As I was scrolling through, finding my feet in my first few days, a few books stood out. There was lots of the Grisha chronicles (And anything by Leigh Bardugo got a “heart” from me) along with Cassandra Clare and Sarah J Maas (hmm, not so much of a fan). In particular, the book Caravel was getting a lot of love, along with a contemporary YA romance, When Dimple met Rishi. Ah-ha, thought I, I need a “W” book, and that looks good.

When I walked into Waterstones last weekend and it was right there on the promo tables I knew it was fate.

The cover of Sandhya Menon's When Dimple met Rishi

Click to start reading

Let me tell you, fabulous reader, Instagram was spot on. When Dimple met Rishi is a glorious book. You might guess from the names that it’s about a couple of Indian characters – in fact they are both Indian-Americans; their parents were first generation immigrants. It’s about family and expectations and culture and being yourself and finding your path in life, and it’s funny and touching and wry and I loved it. It does lose a little bit of pace towards the end, but it’s so entirely excellent I’ll forgive that.

Well done, Instagram – bring me more!

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U is for … Uh oh!

Okay, so it’s been a mixed week, to say the least. I haven’t found or read a “U” book yet. I tried several and discarded them. There’s another I could pick, but it’s by an author I’ve already read in this challenge and I’m trying to widen my reading experience.

Cover of Karpov Kinrade's Vampire Girl

How is that practical? White? As a vampire? Blood stains, you know…

So … I moved on and found a “V” book. Vampire Girl was picked based entirely on the “V” and on the cover. I’m intrigued as to why so many YA books have a girl in a floaty ballgown on the cover when they are vastly impractical for what said girl gets up to between the covers. Vampire Girl fit this mould, although there was a fun bit where she gets dressed up all fancy (against her own best instincts) only to find that she would have been better off in jeans and sneakers.

And then (my cup runneth over) I got the ARC of War and Wind flagged to me. War and Wind is next in the Tides series by Alex Lidell and her books have very swiftly become “drop everything” reads for me. I love them. So everything else was set aside while I swooped through that in the space of 36 hours.

Cover of Alex Lidell's War and Wind

Click to pre-order

In short: War and Winds is AMAZING, grab a copy now (well, grab a pre-order), and Vampire Girl was very good, although it lost a bit of impetus at the end with some strange and clumsy consistency errors which were a great shame given how sparkly the writing had been up until then.

However, while I’ve clearly been productive, I still haven’t covered off my “U” requirement. I think a trip to Waterstones and a talk with an actual, real, live bookseller might be needed…

 

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T is for … truly spell-binding!

There was a bit of a wobble this week, reader, I’ll confess. I had a “T” book that was recommended by a friend whose books I love. Sadly, the book wasn’t half as good as her own and simply wasn’t for me. Referring back to my “speed of reading” measurement, when I’d been reading for 3 days and barely reached a quarter of the way through I knew we weren’t a good match.

So I shelved that and tried to find something (I was only mildly panic-stricken; no biggie). Taking what I’ve learned about searching on Amazon I picked a likely word, “Truth” and went in. Anita Oh’s The Truth Spell caught my eye. Oh, my goodness, it was a delight! It’s a first-person narrative and Lucy was so lively and spiky and fabulous the novel was a joy to read.

Cover of Anita Oh's The Truth Spell

Click to check it out.

I zoomed through it in two evenings’ reading, it was that good!

And a first for me – this was the first book I’ve read entirely on my phone. I often have short stories on my phone in case I’ve got five minutes to fill, but I’ve never tried to read an entire novel on my phone thinking it would be annoying to be continually swiping, but not at all. Clearly, if the narrative is gripping enough it doesn’t matter how I’m reading.

The Truth Spell is highly recommended if you like a fresh and modern paranormal tale. I’m now going in to find myself a “U” book, with the keyword “Under” – check back next week to see how that goes.

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S is for … sand stunner

My S book for my alphabet challenge is Sand Runner, Vera Brook’s debut YA dystopian. Now, this was a last-minute addition and it offers a fascinating insight into my read/review process.

I review over on the Paisley Piranha website, with a group of other YA authors. Vera got in touch and asked if I’d like to review her soon-to-be-released Sand Runner, pointing out that maybe it could fill my “S” space (so points for paying attention, definitely). However, my heart sinks a little when I get asked to review pre-order books because one thing I do know is that I’m fussy. The number of books I start and discard is enormous, and the pile of books raved about by other people that have me scratching my head as to what the attraction could possibly be, is equally legion. What I always do is read the preview first to see if the book’s going to suitable – but that’s not possible with pre-release books (and, of course, I don’t want to ask the author for the first couple of chapters because then I’d have to say I didn’t want the rest and – argh! – confrontation!).

So, generally, if a preview isn’t available it’s going to be a no from me. However, Vera had a short story available, Look at Me (follow the link to check it out) so I could read that. It’s entirely excellent: well-written, unsettling, believable and a little bit heart-breaking. After reading that, I had no hesitation in saying yet to a preview copy of Sand Runner.

Cover of Vera Brook's Sand Runner

Click to find out more.

And it’s equally stunning. I loved it. The dystopian world is close enough to our own to be highly believable, with disturbing elements you could picture coming to pass. Just my cup of tea!

Sand Runner is out on June 2nd, so not long to wait!

 

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Summer Scavenger Hunt

Summer is nearly upon us. Have you got your summertime reading lined up? If not (and even if you have), check this out.

In June, the Alliance of Young Adult Authors is sponsoring a massive young adult scavenger hunt. This is a chance to meet some new authors, grab a bunch of free books, and sign up to win a whole bunch of epic prizes!

The whole thing is going to be fabulous fun.  So, please, check back on June 1st and join us!

RULES
Each author will be given a special keyword, which will be bolded and all caps like this: BUTTERFLIES.  All you have to do is visit all the author’s sites (below) in this order, write down the special keywords to discover the short story, then enter the giveaway with the completed short story HERE (not yet live – check back as the link will be posted soon).

There will be one main giveaway for the main prize, but most of the participating authors will also have smaller giveaways for free books and author swag (three lucky readers can win a signed copy of Discord from me, for example), so make sure you read their post carefully to see what else they’re offering while you’re on their site for the keyword.

THE MAP (participating authors)

  1. Cindy Ray Hale
  2. Katherine Bogle
  3. Melle Amade
  4. David Kudler
  5. A.M. Yates
  6. Alethea Kontis
  7. Stevie Rae Causey
  8. Katlyn Duncan
  9. Debbie Manber Kupfer
  10. Meredith Rose
  11. N.M. Howell
  12. Lara Ann  
  13. K.M. Robinson
  14. J.A. Culican
  15. Heather Karn
  16. Rob L. Slater
  17. Dylan Keefer
  18. Sarah K. Wilson  
  19. L.J. Higgins
  20. Gina Marie Long 
  21. Em Kazmierski
  22. Travis Hall
  23. Heather Young-Nichols
  24. Anna Santos
  25. J.L. Weil  
  26. Jo Schneider 
  27. Rebecca Fernfield
  28. Kristin D. Van Risseghem
  29. Martine Lewis 
  30. Tara Benham
  31. Stacy Claflin
  32. Beth Hammond
  33. Erica Monroe Cope
  34. Nicole Zoltack
  35. Char Webster
  36. Sabrina Ramoth
  37. T.J. Muir
  38. Raquel Lyon
  39. Beth Rodgers
  40. S.L. Beaumont
  41. Eva Pohler
  42. Melanie McFarlane
  43. Cheryllynn Dyess
  44. Audrey Rich
  45. Amanda Zieba
  46. Sandie Will
  47. Elle Scott
  48. Angie Grigaliunas
  49. Ashley Maker 
  50. Mandy Peterson
  51. Audrey Grey
  52. Elisa Dane  
  53. Amy McNulty
  54. Melinda Cordell
  55. Monica Leonelle
  56. Claire Luana
  57. Frost Kay
  58. Preeti C. Sharma
  59. Bentz Deyo 
  60. April Wood
  61. Lena Mae Hill
  62. Angel Leya
  63. Wendi Wilson
  64. Wendy Knight
  65. Chogan Swan
  66. Tamara Hart Heiner
  67. Norma Hinkens
  68. Patti Larsen
  69. Megan Crewe  
  70. Jamie Thornton
  71. Jessie Renée
  72. T.A. Maclagan  
  73. Lydia Sherrer
  74. Phyllis Moore
  75. P.D. Workman
  76. J.A. Armitage
  77. K.N. Lee
  78. Angela Fristoe
  79. Rhonda Sermon
  80. G.K. DeRosa 
  81. Erin Richards
  82. Ali Winters
  83. Larissa C. Hardesty
  84. Kristine Tate
  85. Debra Kristi
  86. Bella Rose 
  87. Cortney Pearson
  88. Jeff Kohanek
  89. Kristal Shaff
  90. Rachel Morgan  
  91. Emma Right
  92. C.L. Cannon
  93. Joanne Macgregor
  94. Lindsey Loucks
  95. Farah Kuck
  96. Erin Hayes
  97. Jesikah Sundin
  98. Dorothy Dreyer
  99. Danielle Annett
  100. C.J. Ethington
  101. L.C. Hibbett 
  102. Madeline Dyer
  103. Katie John
  104. Nicole Schubert  
  105. Rachel Medhurst 
  106. Tee G Ayer  
  107. May Freighter 
  108. Heather Dyer
  109. Jen Minkman  
  110. J.L. Gillham
  111. Karen Tomlinson
  112. Katy Haye
  113. Tom Shutt
  114. Martina Billings
  115. Jo Ho
  116. Brian King
  117. Inna Hardison
  118. Rachel Bateman
  119. Sally Henson  
  120. J.L. Hendricks 
  121. A.L. Knorr  
  122. T.M. Franklin  
  123. Konstanz Silverbow
  124. felisha Antonette
  125. Jake Devlin
  126. S.F. Benson
  127. Laurie Treacy
  128. Emily Martha Sorensen 
  129. Leia Stone
  130. T. Rae Mitchell
  131. J. Keller Ford
  132. Kat Stiles
  133. Jessica Hawke
  134. Elyse Reyes
  135. Sophie Davis
  136. Bianca Scardoni
  137. Jenetta Penner
  138. David R. Bernstein
  139. Olivia Wildenstein
  140. Derek Murphy

 

TIMELINE

Authors will have their post up and visible on their site/blog, with their keyword, by June 1st. Readers just need to go through the list, find the words, and use the story to enter for the grand prize.

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R is for … riding high again!

Oh, this week was a breath of fresh air! I fell into Risuko and, frankly, didn’t want to ever come out. It’s absolutely glorious!

In short, it’s a Japanese medieval warlord adventure. I loved, loved, loved the world. It’s the sort of place I’d like to go on holiday (except with a really good guide who could ensure I wasn’t run through with a samurai sword!). If you’ve read (or only heard of) Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor series, it’s a lot like that.

Cover of David Kudler's Risuko

Click to start reading

Sadly, I did swoop through it in two days, and now I just want the next to come out so I can vanish into that world again!

With my spare time I moved on to another on my TBR pile, Melle Amade’s Remnant. It’s the second in her shifter series and the series is really hotting up.

So that’s two fabulous R books in a week, and I am raring to go with my ‘S’ book – Sand Runner. Check back next week to discover how I got on.

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Check out my next project!

I am so excited to share this with you – my next release will be part of a set with 22 other novels by a group of uber-talented YA writers: Shattered Worlds

Escape into twenty-three epic worlds that will leave you breathless.

 

 

.99 for a limited time!

From dystopian nightmares to gorgeous steampunk and fantasy settings to fairy-tale retellings and beyond, SHATTERED WORLDS has every story you’ve been dying to get your hands on!

This unique Young Adult/New Adult collection, inspired by the creative minds of today’s New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors, promises to satisfy your cravings for action and adventure as you experience rune magic and time-travel, overthrow corrupt governments, meet reapers and aliens, battle dragons, fall hopelessly in love, and break ancient curses, right alongside some of the bravest characters in fantasy fiction!

Each book within this collection is exclusive to the set and can’t be found anywhere else.

Preorder now for your passport to SHATTERED WORLDS!

Featuring Titles from:

USA Today bestselling
author J.L. Weil 

USA Today bestselling authors Armitage & Culican 
New York Times bestselling author N.R. Larry 
Rebecca Rode 
Kristy Tate 
A.G. Henley 
USA Today bestselling author Jane Redd 
Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel 
Ali Winters 
Audrey Grey 
Elana Johnson 
Megan Linski 
Elizabetta Holcomb 
Cindy M. Hogan 
Liz Long 
Julie Hall 
Cameo Renae 
Jen Minkman 
Cortney Pearson 
Ainsley Shay 
Katy Haye
USA Today bestselling author Emily Martha Sorensen
Nichole Giles

 

Get Your Copy Today!
 

 

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Q is for … quite slow-going

So, leading on from my last alphabet post where I noted that you can rate my enthusiasm for a book from how long I take to read it, I’ll start by telling you I finished my Q book, started more than a week ago, at 10pm last night.

I don’t quite know what happened because I thought I’d love Shadow Queen. Maybe I’ve been thinking about reading it for so long I’d ended up with expectations that were never going to be fulfilled.

Cover of CJ Redwine's Shadow Queen

Check it out for yourself.

Irritatingly, there’s nothing specific I can point at to say, “That was wrong; that’s what I didn’t like.” It just didn’t set me on fire the way I always want a book to do. It was written in 3rd person, which was a change, but a refreshing one since 98.27% of YA books appear to be written in the first person. There were three points of view, which again is a lot for YA, but I don’t see how she could have told the story without all three, and they were very different voices and didn’t jar.

It read a little bit generically, slightly as though it had been composed by numbers of what’s ‘in’ right now. It’s clearly a retelling of snow white, with what felt a little like grisha magic thrown in along with dragon shifters (is it just me, or are dragons EVERYWHERE right now?). There were new and creative elements (the apples were revoltingly fantastic!), but overall I didn’t feel as though it was completely heartfelt. Sorry.

Check back in for my R book next week – I’ve only just started, but I’m already gripped by Risuko by David Kudler, long may it last!

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