Top Five… Couples

In honour of Valentines Day this weekend, my Top Five this week is Favourite Couples. I’m not the overly romantic type so some of these may be bitter sweet relationships! And I’ve added in some fan fiction for good measure 🙂
 
5.
 
Sonea and Akkarin by CartographerCaitlin
Picture by Cartographer Caitlin
Sonea and Akkarin – The Black Magician Trilogy (Trudi Canavan)
I’m going to admit that I can’t say much about this relationship: it’s been a really long time since I read the books and I’ve forgotten a lot of plot details, but I remember loving these two so much. At least this way there’s no spoilers for anyone (including myself – I want to read the books again as if it’s the first time!) I remember it from so long ago so I’m sure it’s worthy of a place here!
 
4.



Picture by Laurajanetolton

 

Sabriel and Touchstone – Sabriel (Garth Nix)
I’ve always loved the scene where Sabriel and Touchstone meet: there’s such an innocence and curiosity there that seems so genuine. Theirs is a relationship that develops slowly and doesn’t seem contrived: everything that happens occurs naturally and their relationship isn’t even a big focus of the book, which I appreciate. I also love being able to see them grown up in the next book, with an even stronger relationship despite all their trials.
 



3.
 
 
I Wished For Her - the-night-circus Fan Art
Picture by Greeneiris
Celia and Marco – The Night Circus – (Erin Morgenstern)
Celia and Marco are true star-crossed lovers: right from the beginning they are destined to be pitted against each other, and it’s infuriating when Celia doesn’t even know who her opponent is. But I think that the wonders they create for each other in the circus show an incredible love that can outlive their fate.
2.
 
Picture by Nick Morgan

 

 

Alyss and Dodge – The Looking Glass Wars (Frank Beddor)
It’s never an easy ride for Princess Alyss of Wonderland and Dodge Anders, son of the Captain of the Guards. Alyss is destined to wed the spoilt and rotund Jack of Diamonds and even if he were out the picture, Alyss could never marry a servant. When Wonderland is taken over by Alyss’ evil Aunt Redd, the childhood sweethearts are separated for almost 20 years and they both have a lot to work through when she returns. Still, they make an amazing couple and Alyss is very strong, inspiring woman.
And the winner is…
 



 
1.
 





Picture by Gtjiyeon
Will and Lyra – His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)
I told you there’d be some bitter sweet in here! Lyra and Will’s relationship was one of the first that I really remember touching me from my younger days of reading, and it always stayed with me. There was something so natural and truthful about their relationship and the progression of it, whereas these days it often feels like relationship are just shovelled in for the sake of it (especially the dreaded love triangle!) This relationship was made more memorable by the sacrifice they made together (which I won’t spoil, in case you haven’t read it.
Wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day this weekend, whether you’re celebrating with someone special or enjoying a little me time 🙂

 

Book Review: Water Born (Rachel Ward)

Publisher: Chicken House

Pages: 273

Release Date: August 7th 2014

Summary (From Goodreads):

Nicola’s dad has been terrified around water for as long as she can remember, and will never come to watch her swim. But then Nicola starts to hear a voice in the pool which changes everything. When girls start drowning, who’s to blame? What secrets lurk beneath the surface?

Review:

I loved The Drowning but I loved Water Born even more. The stakes were higher, the pace was faster and it would work perfectly as a stand alone novel as well as a sequel.

I think the main thing for me with this book was how relatable Nic was as a character. This is probably quite a personal thing, but I struggled to relate to Carl in the first book as a young male with quite a poor family life. Nic, however, is a young female with a loving home and is also a competitive swimmer, which is something I did at her age.

Personal touches aside, I raced through this book. Rob’s spirit or ghost or whatever it is of him that is haunting water has survived since the last book and become even more malevolent. In his quest for revenge on Carl and Neisha for the events in the first book, he isn’t fussed about hurting others to get to them, including using their teenage daughter, Nicole.

This book is less of a mystery than the previous one, because early on I knew who Rob was and what he wanted. The tension came through his threats and ultimatum to Nic: girls are mysteriously drowning and accidents start happening to people he knows she’s angry with. I felt so awful each time something happened, for what it did to Nic and what I knew it was driving her towards. There were also a few twists and surprises that I wasn’t expecting to keep me on my toes.

The ending was satisfyingly sad (from someone who’s not a fan of the happily ever after stories) and it seemed an appropriate sacrifice to stop Rob. I did feel the last few pages were perhaps a little cheesy at first, but on reflection I found it sinister: if (trying not to spoil things here) this person is talking to her in the water, that means Rob still could too, or some of the other people who have died in water by his hand/influence. I’m wondering if it points to a possible sequel or if I’m just being paranoid!

This book was the perfect follow up to The Drowning and will give a more satisfying ending to those who want to discover what happens to Rob next.

I will be interviewing Rachel Ward as part of the UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour so if you have any questions you’d like to ask, leave a comment or drop me a message!

4

Book Review: The Drowning (Rachel Ward)

Details:

Publisher: Chicken House
Pages: 274
Release Date: April 29th 2014
 
Summary (From Goodreads):

What happens if you’ve done something terrible? But you can’t remember what. And you don’t know how to put it right …When Carl opens his eyes on the banks of a lake, his brother is being zipped into a body bag. What happened in the water? He can’t remember And when he glimpses a beautiful girl he thinks he recognizes, she runs away. Suddenly he knows he must find her – because together they must face the truth before it drowns them.

Review:

I was intrigued by this book as soon as I read the prologue. It was only a couple of pages but it draws you into the story so well you can’t help but be hooked.

The protagonist, Carl is left with amnesia after an accident that’s left his brother dead. His confused state is just another thing that pulls you into the story: information is leaked in dribs and drabs as it comes back to him. Small things like where he lives and who his neighbours are, and then much bigger things, like his relationship with his mother and, of course, the events that led to his brother drowning.

The book reminded me of a Kevin Brooks novel in the way that Ward handles the mystery so skilfully. Each time I though I’d figured out what had happened she’d let slip a little more information that would throw my theory overboard.

The characters were well developed and you get a great picture of them from just a few snapshots of information. And everything is just so vivid. The description of Carl’s house and his mother gave me such an image of the kind of poverty they lived in and the relationship they had and I empathised with him immediately.

I loved the relationship between Carl’s dead brother and water and thought it such a creepy concept. Imagine fearing water and having to avoid it, especially when living in rainy ol’ England. It’s so depressingly, terrifyingly impossible, and the inevitability of his encounters made it even scarier. I was also impressed at how individual each encounter was: it’s a real tribute to an author’s talent when they can write about the same basic thing (water in this case) over and over again and still make it fresh and interesting. It never felt like I’d already read about this: each time was new and beautifully described.

Overall, a really great read for any lover of YA – and I say that as I normally go for much more fantasy based books. But not one that I’d read in the bath…

I will be interviewing Rachel Ward as part of the UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour so if you have any questions you’d like to ask, leave a comment or drop me a message!

My Verdict:

4

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter (Melinda Salisbury)

Publisher: Scholastic UK

Pages: 336

Release Date: 5th February 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?

Review:

I was lucky enough to receive this book from the author (through a competition on Twitter) Along with a copy of the book, I got a signed proof copy and some other lovely bits and pieces too.

I am drawn in instantly by the cover (the colours are just beautiful) and by the idea as well: the quote on the proof copy reads ‘I am the perfect weapon. I kill with a single touch.‘ Along with some hype that’s gone on around it on Twitter I was all set to read and love this book.

And that is exactly what I did.

Twylla, the protagonist, is well rounded in a way that I haven’t seen in many books lately. While being likeable and believable, she has real emotions and flaws that hold her back and have a major impact on her life and how she’s living it. It’s interesting to watch her develop over the book and eventually start taking some control for herself. I hope that in the sequels, (which I can’t wait for) we’ll see her growing into herself more.

The world creation is beautifully done. There’s a lot of information to take in but it’s drip fed slowly and steadily, with little reminders throughout the book so you never forget what world you’re in and what the rules are. Speaking of which – and without giving too much away – I admire a writer who can create and then break rules in the way that’s done here. It makes for great twists and turns in the book and really shows how clever you can be with your own world if you know what you’re doing.

What really made the world feel real and rounded was the mythos: the religion, the Gods, the fairytales. It’s just enough information to bring the world to life. I was really intrigued by the idea of ‘Sin Eating’ and would love to hear more about it. Twylla’s mother as the Sin Eater was an excellent character who both repelled and fascinated me.

I’ll admit to being the teensiest bit irritated by the love triangle that formed, not because it wasn’t believable and intense and everything, but because it feels like love triangles are almost mandatory in YA novels at the moment. But that’s only the briefest if niggles: it’s integral to the plot and has its own series of twists and turns. I love that, like Twylla, both contenders for her heart are deeply flawed and neither is the obvious choice or knight in shining armour that you might expect.

I’d say it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year (I know it’s only February but I’ve read a fair amount and only one other got five star). If you like a beautifully crafted world full of its own mythos, with an deep and intricate plot then this is for you. It stands well alone as a novel as well as the first in a series and it’s definitely one to read immediately.

My Verdict:

Copy of an art exhibit
Check out my soundtrack for The Sin Eater’s Daughter here

UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour

 I am extremely excited to say that I am going to be taking part in the UKYA Extravaganza blog tour this year.

As a newbie to blogging still, this will be my first blog tour and also the first book related event I’ll be attending as a blogger. I feel incredibly lucky that this amazing event is happening just around the corner from me in Birmingham. I believe it sold out the day the tickets went on sale, so there’s definitely demand for this kind of event in our area.

The event sees 35 authors all gather in one place for a magical day of Q&As, book signings and a chance to meet the people behind the stories we love. Below is a list of all the authors ‘officially’ attending (I believe there may be some ‘unofficially’ attending as well).

 

But before the event we have the blog tour, with a blogger assigned to each author right up until the event itself, and a write up to follow afterwards.
I have been paired with the “new and exciting” Rachel Ward who wrote the Numbers series, which has won multiple awards, and more recently The Drowning and Water Born which I shall be reviewing on this site soon. Our slot is on the 22nd Fenruary so there’s a while to wait yet.
But, in the meantime here is a list of all the bloggers and authors on the tour. If you want to keep up with everything going on then take my lead and follow the blogs so you don’t miss a thing!