sarah j maas

My Dream Book Panel!

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Recently, I was inspired by the lovely people at Eventbrite who asked me who I would want to see at my dream book convention? Dedicated readers will know I’m a huge fan of YALC and I spend way too much time dreaming about attending BEA or YALLWEST over in the U S of A, so it got me thinking… who would I *really* want to see? And what would I want them to discuss?

(And also, why haven’t I purchased my ticket to YALC yet?!)

First up…

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I’d like to see a panel on world building with authors who really know their stuff when it comes to creating weird and wonderful fantasy worlds. This panel would be all about writing fantasy, world-building and lots of tips for the audience on how each author works. We’d need only the best for this one so I’d pick:

  • V E Schwab, author of the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy
  • Laini Taylor, author of Strange the Dreamer
  • George R R Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire series

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I’ve been reading some super huge books recently, and so I’d like a panel with authors of some huge books to discuss writing fantasy, writing a huge quantity and how they have built their worlds. This panel would focus on authors who publish big books at a superhuman speed and so would feature:

  • Sarah J Maas, author of the ACOTAR and Throne of Glass series
  • Cassandra Clare, author of the Shadowhunters’ many series
  • Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy, among many others

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You can’t have a hyped book convention without some elusive authors with an exclusive talk. This panel would focus on the price and pressure of fame after a super hyped book, and their decision to stay in/out of the limelight. This would be the panel everyone would be clamoring to go to and would feature:

  • Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series
  • Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
  • J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series

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So many fantasies focus on royalty, and I think a panel focusing on the challenges and fun of writing about princesses, princes, kings and queens would be an interesting addition. I’d go for an range of authors, including:

  • Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries
  • Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles
  • Renee Ahdieh, author of the Wrath and the Dawn duology

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Now, I don’t think a book convention would be nearly as good without bookish friends and a heap of the amazing UKYA authors which have always made YALC such a special time. These authors I would probably listen to talk about Quorn cocktail sausages, but I’m sure they could come up with a few interesting themes between them!

  • Katherine Webber, author of Wing Jones
  • Non Pratt, author of Truth or Dare
  • Sara Barnard, author of A Quiet Kind of Thunder
  • Catherine Doyle, author of the Mafiosa trilogy
  • Holly Smale, author of the Geek Girl series
  • Lisa Williamson, author of All About Mia
  • Alice Oseman, author of Radio Silence
  • Sarah Crossan, author of One
  • Holly Bourne, author of the Spinster trilogy
  • and so so many more amazing authors!

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I’d love to see panels on topics such as diversity, mental health, feminism, disability, politics in YA, dystopias, LGBTQ, and so many more – I think sometimes the topic of the panel is what makes it so interesting rather than necessarily the speakers.

Check out Eventbrite’s conference page if you’re interested in hosting and organizing your own events!

So there are a few of my dream book panels! Who would you want to see? What would they talk about? Would you like to see some of my panels? Comment below, tweet me at @annalisebooks or create your own post – I’d love to know!

annalsie

 

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Dislcaimer: Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Last January, Truthwitch was a book with a beautiful cover that was getting A LOT of hype around it. Written by the infallible Sarah J. Maas’ best friend, Susan Dennard, any fan of YA fantasy was desperate to get their hands on this brand new fantasy series about witches, friendship and elemental control.

Fast forward to January 2017, and I’ve *finally* read Truthwitch in anticipation for Windwitch, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all the hype was justified.
Truthwitch is the story of four main characters – Safiya, the truthwitch, Iseult, the threadwitch, Aedeon, the bloodwitch, and Merik, the windwitch. Truthwitch is Safi’s story, but the book focuses on all four main characters pretty equally throughout the book. I won’t go into the plot too much, but essentially Aedeon is in pursuit of Safiya and Iseult for Safiya’s truthwitch abilities, and Safi and Iseult escape the city on Merik’s ship. Each character is fleshed out with interesting and mysterious back story, and some of my favourite scenes were when we learnt a little more about each character’s background.

I also loved how the characters in this book have motives and no character is 100% good or evil.

As well as some pretty kick ass characters, the world building is extensive and original – I loved the different types of witches, some of which are completely new to me (threadwitches, for example). The world is so rich that some scenes almost come flying off the page as if they were on screen (especially some of the scenes with Safi and Iseult).

The friendship between Safi and Iseult was refreshing and a feature which I loved – rarely does a friendship in a novel eclipse any romances. Their friendship was well done and powerful.

The only reason this is a 4 star read rather than 5 stars for me was pacing – I felt this book was a little slow at times, or perhaps a little long at 400 pages.

Personally, I can’t wait to delve into Windwitch which I have heard is even better, and I look forward to returning to this beautiful world and its characters.
View all my reviews

annalsie

Waiting On Wednesday: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Before I start this post/rant, I just want to say one thing: I love Sarah J Maas’ books – ACOMAF has to be one of my favourite books of the year, and I’m currently working my way through Queen of Shadows. Sarah is an amazing writer with amazing characters, but I do have some reservations about the promotion of her new book, the 5th Throne of Glass novel, Empire of Storms.

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Before I rant a little…

THAT COVER THOUGH?! I love the cover for Empire of Storms (both the US and UK editions) and am so excited for it to join the rest of my collection on my bookshelf. Bloomsbury have done an absolutely STELLAR job with Sarah’s covers.

However…

1. The UK Tour.

A little background on me – I live in the Northwest of England, and as a recent graduate, I have no idea where I’ll be in October, when Sarah comes to the UK for the Empire of Storms tour. I would have loved to be able to meet Sarah, but the timings of the tour meant I won’t be able to make it.

This has to do with the fact that half the dates on the tour are in the South of England (London, Bath and Cheltenham), one is in Scotland, and another in Dublin. The one closest to me (Birmingham – still up to two hours on the train away!) is on a Monday at 4pm, so it’d be a real struggle to get to. I don’t think I’m alone in this – a lot of these dates are mid-afternoon, during the working/school week, and therefore difficult for many to get to!

I’m always a little disappointed when an author has a UK tour and doesn’t have a date in Northern England. It’s great that authors include Scotland and Ireland, but there are still a lot of fans who simply can’t make it to this tour. I’d be able to attend a date in the evening, or at the weekend (I was able to attend the Cassandra Clare Shadowhunter event because it was at the weekend!).

2. The many MANY editions of Empire of Storms

Because I’m not going to be able to meet Sarah on her tour, I pre-ordered the signed edition from Waterstones. I was really disappointed that I didn’t know Waterstones would be stocking signed editions of ACOMAF, so preordered EoS early so that I’d be guaranteed to get a signed copy.

Now, I’ve already seen the Target and Barnes and Noble editions with exclusive short stories, but now WHSmith, a popular UK newsagent and bookshop, is stocking its own special edition, with an exclusive short story. Now, I’m very hesitant to buy more than one copy of a book – despite intending to purchase the US covers of Sarah’s books – because of a small amount of exclusive content.

I’m, again, a little disappointed in the plethora of editions available. More than one edition always seems like a money-making grab to me, however beautiful they are. When you’ve already preordered a book, it’s frustrating to see more (and sometimes better) editions go on sale.

Which edition of EoS will you be purchasing? Are you going to Sarah’s tour? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

annalsie

May 2016 Wrap-Up!

May 2016 has been an interesting month – I’m putting the finishing touches to the last assignment in my 16-year academic career, my thesis in Biophysics. I didn’t think I’d be able to get through many books or blog posts, but it appears instead I’ve broken records. Huh.

Blog Posts

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the YALC Reading List books as much as I’ve been enjoying writing them – they’re a great way of figuring out what books I want to read and get signed before the big weekend in July. I’m so excited to see the timetable tomorrow (1 June) at 9am!

YALC Reading List: Part 3!

YALC Reading List: Part 4!

YALC Reading List Part 5!

YALC Reading List Part SIX!

I’ve also been helping with the UKYA BookBlogger Awards. Here are all the posts from the awards, including the announcement of the winners earlier this week.

2016 UKYA Book Blogger Award Nominations!

UKYA Book Blogger Awards Longlist!

WINNERS of the UKYA Book Blogger Awards!

I also wrote about the boxsets I am so excited to buy, featuring the lovely new boxsets from Leigh Bardugo:

I want ALL of the boxsets!

Books Read

Here I would insert a nice photo of the books I’ve read, but I’m too lazy this month. Next month however…

Iron Fist

The Inventory: Iron Fist by Andy Briggs – review and my stop on the blog tour here.

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – review here.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

I read this after doing the play at school many years ago, and in preparation for the BBC adaptation (which I’m not entirely sure I’m going to watch – any opinions would be welcome)

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The Crown and the Arrow by Renee Ahdieh

This is a *really* short story bridging the gap between the two books in The Wrath and the Dawn duology.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

OMG. This book. Just go and read this book. 4.77 rating on Goodreads. (I’m planning on publishing my reviews for ACOTAR and ACOMAF over a weekend sometime soon.)

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My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger – review here

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout – review here

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I read this in anticipation for the movie – hoping to do a book/film comparison this month!

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The Girls by Emma Cline – review here

So that’s NINE books, in a month I wasn’t really meant to be reading…

I’m hoping June will be just as productive!

What have you read this month? Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think?

Annalise xxx

#ThisIsWhoIAm Time Capsule

To celebrate the release of The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood (review here), I’m going to be making a virtual time capsule, just like Thomas and Gottie do in the book (except theirs isn’t virtual).

First though, let’s appreciate the cover a little more…

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My Time Capsule

Favourite Photographs

So, it hasn’t happened yet, but in less than 3 months, I’ll be graduating! With some picturesque background, I’ll be all dolled up in my academic dress, this time with a big poofy gown (like a black cape rather than a ballgown) and a mortarboard – that will probably make for an interesting photo, so I’ll put it in here.

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I’d also put in a photo of my bookshelf, mostly because the book:shelf ratio is massively off, and I am struggling to fit all the books in my university room. (Pic above a little out of date – many books acquired since then). I’d also throw in a photograph of my collage wall (each room in uni comes with a huge noticeboard, and mine is covered in fashion advertisements and movie posters, as well as cinema tickets and Game of Thrones art prints). The photo below is my collage at the beginning of the year – it’s expanded a bit more now.

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Favourite Songs

This is a difficult one, so I’d probably put a copy of the ‘My Songs’ playlist from my Spotify account – it’s full of loads of random choices from pretty much every decade, and probably sums up my music taste quite well. (Think a lot of cheesy 90s stuff with power ballads, 00s R&B, and a bit of dance music thrown in).

If I had to pick three songs of the moment which I really like, it would be:

  1. Cheap Thrills by Sia; Sean Paul
  2. Me, Myself and I by G-Eazy, Bebe Rexha
  3. PILLOWTALK by ZAYN

Favourite Books

I mean, how am I meant to choose? My favourite books of 2016 so far have been:

  1. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  3. How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne – review here
  4. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – review here
  5. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – review here

However, the book that reminds me the most of SUMMER 2016 so far has to be The Square Root of Summer!

Favourite Films

My favourite film of all time is Confessions of a Shopaholic, weirdly enough.

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This year I’ve seen Deadpool (great), Captain America: Civil War (amazing) and Allegiant (a bit meh). I’ve posted about my most anticipated movies this summer here and here. I am looking forward to seeing Me Before You (but I need to read the book first!), Suicide Squad and Bridget Jones’ Baby.


If my time capsule has piqued your interest in The Square Root of Summer, the book will be available from all good bookshops, and online from Thursday 5th May – although I’ve seen some branches of Waterstones have them in early (and they have the most gorgeous sprayed pink pages!)


I’m so looking forward to meeting Harriet at YALC this year, although I may have to reread The Square Root of Summer first…

What would you put in your time capsule? Have you read The Square Root of Summer? What did you think? Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below 🙂

Annalise x

Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Crown of Midnight is the second book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, following the adventures of the assassin Celaena Sardothien and her friends, the prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and Princess of the Ellywe Nehemia.

Whereas I did enjoy the first book, Throne of Glass (review here), I found it difficult to read (I read it whilst travelling), and I found the plot and characters a little clichéd. This book, however, was a breeze to read. I love Maas’ prose, and her use of foreshadowing is divine. There’s more action, more romance, more assassin…ations? More everything… and it works really, really, well.

What I particularly enjoyed is the fact that these characters really develop during the novel, becoming multi-dimensional and interesting. They make mistakes, they say the wrong thing… and it makes the whole book so much more enjoyable. There’s twists and turns, unexpected surprises, right up till the last page.

Chaol, for me, became much more fleshed out in this book, and became a character in his own right. Dorian got his own scenes and secrets and, as a consequence, became a character rather than a plot device. Celaena turned darker, and actually killed some people, for once. Novel, for an assassin. Are these characters clichéd any longer? Not at all. They’re interesting, fleshed-out and explosive when put together.

Is the plot clichéd? No. It’s dramatic, full of cliffhangers and mystery and ultimately satisfying – sub-plots are set up and explored, and I feel that the focus isn’t exclusively on Celaena – we spend time focusing on Chaol, Dorian and Nehemia, both separately and when they interact. Theres a really nice balance between the character’s perspectives.

The world-building here is also great, delving further into the history of the world and setting up an intricate world and conflict that will (presumably) play out in later books.

If you were on the fence after Throne of Glass, this book is really, genuinely, worth the read. It’s good. Like five stars good. Reading it, I kept on comparing it to the Harry Potter books. Yeah, THAT GOOD.

So, I have a problem. How are any other books of 2016 going to compare to this first read? And how am I gonna cope until I can get my hands on Heir of Fire?!

Annalise x

View all my reviews