Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands #2)

imagesTitle: Traitor to the Throne

Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Pages: 592

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible. Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

Continue reading “Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands #2)”

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Learning a foreign language: tips from a wannabe polyglot (spoiler – I’ve still got some way to go)

I’ve always had an interest in languages, which I wouldn’t say is usual of my monolingual social and family background.  I grew up in a small South Devon seaside town.  All of my family are English (and 90% of them all live in the same county I was born in so they’re very close by – as in no more than 6 miles away close by), we never went on holidays abroad because we couldn’t afford them and none of us had passports so instead we owned the ‘staycation.’  So there was nothing to immediately pull me towards learning another language.  Although maybe that’s it?  I’ve never really been exposed to anything other than what is comfortable so perhaps this is my way of branching and exploring?

When I was seven years old I had my first taster lesson of French at school.  We learnt things like counting to ten and introducing ourselves and the usual things most primary school children know.  This is where it all started and I’ve been learning French ever since.  Unfortunately, mainly due to the appalling English school system when it comes to learning languages, I am not fluent yet – despite over 12 years of French.  However now I’m at university, and learning language under the standardised European Language Framework, I’m getting so much better and really enjoying learning again.

Over my 12 years of foreign language education I’ve picked up some things that have helped with my learning and are a great idea if you want to maintain and/or improve your language ability.  In the last 6 months I’ve been learning Italian too so I am now actively learning two languages in addition to my own.  Here’s what I’ve found has helped me.

Continue reading “Learning a foreign language: tips from a wannabe polyglot (spoiler – I’ve still got some way to go)”

Review: The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #3)

9781407147659Title: The Scarecrow Queen

Author: Melinda Salisbury

Pages: 336

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

The final battle is coming… As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever… Explosive, rich and darkly addictive, this is the stunning conclusion to Melinda Salisbury’s internationally best-selling trilogy that began with THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

I’m more than a little obsessed with this series at this point.  I honestly don’t know how I was so late to the party in reading this.

The Scarecrow Queen is the third and final instalment of Melinda Salisbury’s series The Sin Eater’s Daughter.  If you’ve read my reviews for books one and two you’ll know I’m a bit of a fan.  I panicked a little bit when I flicked through this book because my pet peeve is switching POVs every few chapters and I could feel it coming owing to the fact the previous books left us with two equally important protagonists that both have a voice.  Whilst Melinda did do this and switch POVs between Errin and Twylla I loved the way Continue reading “Review: The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #3)”

Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #2)

9780545921275_mresTitle: The Sleeping Prince

Author: Melinda Salisbury

Pages: 367

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more. Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep. When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help Errin, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds splits the world as she knows it apart, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom…

Warning: minor spoilers ahead in the form of fangirling over a character pairing

This is the second instalment in Melinda Salisbury’s The Sin Eater’s Daughter series.  This is the first book in a long time that I ran through in one sitting.  After immensely  Continue reading “Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #2)”

2017 Reflections and Dealing With my Fear of Flying

So, 2017 has been a big year for me.  I went to a book launch.  I went on holiday on my own, more than once.  I took a gigantic step towards my dream job and broke into an almost impossible professional field.  I started learning Italian and took drastic action to improve my French.  I walked up the Eiffel Tower.  I went to Disneyland for the first time.  I had a coffee with one of my favourite authors.  I almost finished writing a book(!!).  I saw the Northern Lights.  I saw sea otters playing free in the ocean…so yeah.  Dreams came true.  Perhaps biggest of all for me was the fact that my three holidays this year all involved me getting on a plane and bigger than that, I had to do it alone some of the time.  For most people this isn’t a big deal but I have a severe fear of flying which I am working to improve.

Unfortunately the first time I ever got on a plane was 3 weeks before my 16th birthday.  That’s extremely late for most people’s standards.  I have never been able to go on holiday abroad with my family and in fact didn’t even have a passport until that trip.  I didn’t have the luxury of being too young to remember my first flight.  A couple of things added up to make my first flight somewhat of a disaster.  One of those things was that it was a school trip – and we all know how horrible kids can be once they know something gets to you.  Another thing was my ears.  They never seem to pop.  Ever.  The pressure just builds and builds and builds until the pain is beyond unbearable.  I’d also never experienced that kind of altitude before and my body didn’t react well to it.  On top of all this I ended up sat in a seat next to a complete stranger, away from my best friend and we then had one of the worst landings possible for the first time on a plane.  I spent most of the week crying and begging my teacher to buy me a train ticket from Naples back to the UK and ended up almost being carried onto the plane back because I was in such a state.  It took me three and a half years before I left the country again, let alone got on a plane.

In the several years after that flight, the trauma of the memory spiralled, making my recollection now probably much worse than what actually happened, and I got to the point where I couldn’t even hear a plane fly over head or, when it was really bad, even see a plane without getting very distressed and crying.  I went to a convention at a hotel right next to Heathrow airport and had to walk into the restaurant with my back to the window because it was overlooking the landing runway.  Pathetic, right?  Even talking about it now makes my heart race beyond anything that is normal.  But it has improved.  My goal has always been to get to New York but how can I possibly do that when it involved an EIGHT HOUR FLIGHT.  Nope.  No thank you.

But I couldn’t live my whole life without getting on a plane again.  So I bit the bullet and when I was invited to an event in Scotland back in March,  I booked the 45 minute flight to Edinburgh instead of taking the easy option and getting the train instead.  I had to get on a plane for the first time in years and I had to grow a backbone and do it alone.  I had to do it.  Enter my ridiculous superstitions and coping mechanisms!!

Just booking the flight was a big step.  I did it at the kitchen table in the early hours of the morning with the help of my flatmate (who had to deal with me shaking so much I could barely type in my name let alone my passport number).  I had to book it from Stansted which I really didn’t like as I’d only flown from Gatwick before, and although I didn’t like it I thought that would be safer because I knew I didn’t die the last time I used that airport (I realise this is ridiculous logic as if I stuck to it I’d never go to new places ever again but just roll with my screwed up terrified brain will you?).  I also had to book Easyjet because that company had kept my alive the first time.  I then had to book a “safe” seat.  This is entirely based on my idea of lucky/favourite numbers and letters which basically means even numbers and window seat letters.  4A is the seat on a plane that makes me feel happiest.  3C or 6C would cause a meltdown beyond anything you’ve ever experienced.   Completely irrational I know but a “safe” seat number makes me feel better.  Which brings me on to window seats.  I have to sit by a window so I can see outside.  My first flight was in an aisle seat and I couldn’t see out (because leaning forward to look made my head swim and the arsehole by the window put the blind down so they could sleep) which was the worst thing ever.  Sitting by the window means that no matter how alien the feeling in my head, I can see the real world and, crucially, the floor thousands of feet below is staying still and level which seems to help keep my head still.

Finding ways for me to feel comfortable with getting on a plane was the first step to dealing with my fear.  I just need to keep being able to get on a plane.  Now don’t get me wrong, I sobbed from the second I got to the bottom of the stairs on the runway at Stansted until I left Edinburgh airport and the same on the way back but thats not the point.  I did it.

In June I flew to Paris to go to Disneyland.  This time I didn’t cry until I sat in my seat on the plane and only cried for the first 40 minutes plus landing on the way there and lasted until the take off engines started and only cried until we reached cruising altitude plus landing on the way back.  I did have problems at the airports though because they had floor to ceiling windows at the terminals meaning I had to sit and watch planes taking off and landing for ages which was horrible (whereas Stansted is completely boxed in until you get on the plane – God bless Stansted!)  When I went to Norway this Christmas it got slightly better again.  It was two flights there and two flights back – out of the four takeoffs I only actually cried once and just welled up on the other three (I seem to be pretty much okay now until the engines pipe up) and only cried on three of the landings – one of which was horrific because the back of the plane slipped around on the snow/ice (and for anyone who’s interested all the airports had floor to ceiling windows and I was fine until I got on the planes this time).  Each time I fly the list of conditions to make me get on a plane seems to be reducing or at least relaxing ever so slightly.

None of this is very interesting really and no one wants a play by play of my anxiety when I fly but my point is this: people were right.  It does get better the more that you do it and for me I think that’s the only way I can progress.  People telling me that it will be fine and that flying is apparently statistically safer than driving a car (which I cannot accept no matter the facts or figures – it just doesn’t make sense to me) does not help.  But getting on planes does.  I’m really proud that, even though I still make an absolute twat of myself on occasion, I know I can now get on a plane.

So thank you 2017 for getting me on a plane. And here’s to 2018 – the year I finally book that flight to America, because look at where planes can get you:

 

Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

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Title: The Sin Eater’s Daughter

Author: Melinda Salisbury

Pages: 333

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

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. 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?

Continue reading “Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury”

#AmWriting – NaNoWriMo 2017

It’s happened. I’m writing. I’m not sure how far I’ll get with this as I still have a full time job and university to contend with but…

I. AM. WRITING.

**KLAXON – CANNONS – CONFETTI**

So here’s a few things about my NaNo 2017 project to give you an idea of what’s going on in my head.

  1. It’s a Young Adult novel
  2. It’s set in some version of our future where the world has fallen due to deceit, dishonesty and blatant lies from those in power. They caused irreparable destruction, civil war and the end of the world as we know it. The people now in control are obsessed with honesty (to a dangerous level) and the new society of the ‘New Common Era’ is built with this virtue as its core pillar of strength.
  3. It follows my protagonist, Verity, who has been brought up by a kind neighbour, Mrs Andrews, after her father’s death. Mrs Andrews is the only family she has.
  4. Verity is a driven young woman who is working towards her dream job within the government and is just starting an apprenticeship in order to gain enough experience and earn enough money to be able to pay for her training.

That’s it. That’s all the information you’re getting until I get this published 😉 😂

 

Let me know below how you’re doing with your own NaNoWriMo projects and any words of encouragement would be much appreciated. 50,000 words is more than a marathon right now… We’ve got to have each other’s backs through this.

Good luck all and happy writing!!

Review: A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Luddecke

After going to another panel event at Waterstones Piccadilly (Fantasy and Folklore with Samantha Shannon, Melinda Salisbury and Lisa Luddecke) I decided to buy one of the books spoken about: A Shiver of Snow and Sky. It sounded right up my street with mention of the Northern Lights, folklore, superstitions…I was not disappointed.

9781407174037

 

Title: A Shiver of Snow and Sky – DEBUT NOVEL ALERT

Author: Lisa Luddecke

Pages: 341

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

On the frozen island of Skane, the sky speaks. Beautiful lights appear on clear nights, and their colours have meaning: Green means all is well, and the Goddess is happy. Blue means a snow storm is on the way. And then there’s red. Red is rare. A warning. Seventeen years ago the sky turned red just as Osa was born, unleashing a plague that claimed the lives of hundreds of villagers, including her own mother. This time, when the night sky once again bleeds crimson, she must discover what it means before so many lives are lost again.

Continue reading “Review: A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Luddecke”

Review: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

It’s been five years but here we are. John Green has a new book on the shelves again. We have this little gem in our hands. It’s something we all want to be a part of. More than a want, a need. (I’m sorry. That was too good an opportunity to miss. Let me know when you get the reference)

Turtles All The Way Down cover John Green.jpg

Title: Turtles All The Way Down

Author: John Green

Pages: 286

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

Turtles All the Way Down is the story of sixteen-year-old Aza Holmes, a young woman looking for clues in the disappearance of a fugitive billionaire, while grappling with mental illness.

Turtles All the Way Down begins with a fugitive billionaire and a cash reward. It is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. In his long-awaited return, John Green tells Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.

Continue reading “Review: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green”

Review: An American in Paris

Last night I went to the Dominion Theatre in London to see the new musical An American in Paris. The musical is an adaptation of the 1951 Oscar-winning film of the same name starring the likes of Gene Kelly. It features a 50-something strong cast of dancers, actors and musicians and is accompanied by a score belonging to George and Ira Gershwin. A musical is always in safe hands with a Gershwin. It was nice to escape for a few hours and be transported back to the Golden Age of musical theatre.

Continue reading “Review: An American in Paris”