Friday, 29 January 2016

REVIEW: MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

Title: MILA 2.0
Author: Debra Driza
Series: Mila 2.0 #1
Source: Purchased from BookOutlet and Kobo (I had high hopes)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Rating: 3/5 stars
I am okay with marketing a book in a way that will get people to read it -- so long as it is true. When you say that something has Bourne Identity-esque qualities to it, then there should be some of those qualities to it. I thought it was a stretch to name Mila 2.0 in the same vein. This still wasn't TOO bad, I got through it. But there was so much of it that relied on convenience and dramatic moments that I couldn't handle it.

Chapter 1 Reveal + Giveaway of ASHES IN THE SKY by Jennifer M. Eaton.

Today Jennifer M. Eaton and Month9Books are revealing the first chapter for ASHES IN THE SKY, which releases March 15, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016



Author: Sarah J. Maas

Waiting on Wednesday: EARTH'S END by Elise Kova

This week's Waiting on Wednesday is one I have been waiting on since May 2015 even though I didn't realize I was waiting on it then. I have been eagerly counting down the days until it could be in my hands. Say hello to...
EARTH'S END by Elise Kova
Author: Elise Kova

Tuesday, 26 January 2016



Summary: For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water. 

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she's not about to stop.

Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: February 8th, 2016
Rating: 4.5 stars

Thank you to the publisher for the e-ARC!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was Pirates of the Caribbean on crack with a plethora of genetically engineered monsters thrown in. Cas was such a vibrant, real character and she really appealed to me. 

The book follows Cassandra Leung, the daughter of Reckoner scientists/trainers. On her first solo trip she is taken by pirates led by the villainous Santa Elena. Her dream of becoming a Reckoner trainer comes true, but in the most unlikely of ways when the pirates intend on using her to train their unhatched Reckoner pup to become a monster of their own. 

Me while reading this book.

Cassandra is badass. If Captain Jack Sparrow has an illegitimate daughter, it's Cas. She grows and changes throughout the entire novel in such an interesting way. I devoured her story in just one sitting, unable to stop reading. Also, queer characters and queer love! It's so refreshing to see more representation in fantasy books. After reading THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US, I've realised that this is the first book I've ever read that is a fantasy with a lesbian main romance. There definitely needs to be more. (Audrey Coulthurst's OF FIRE AND STARS also features a lesbian couple in the high fantasy setting! It comes out later this year and I'm incredibly excited about it already.) 

Also, I want a Reckoner. No idea where I could keep it as they are HUMONGOUS, but I do. Do you think that I could find a bath big enough?

I had a few issues with this book, but that all falls down to personal preference. It was a relatively short book for YA and I feel that it could have been longer, the world more expanded. Also, I would have liked some more world building, but I'm expecting to see much more of it in Book 2. So it's really no big issue. 

In short, if you love pirates, monsters of the deep and a touching and sometimes hot F/F romance, this is the book for you. Very excited for another book about Cas and her adventures! Skrutskie really knocked the ball out of the park, and I can easily see THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US doing very well indeed.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Off The Page Project #2: Maps Maps Maps

#2: Maps Maps Maps

Maps. What is a fantasy novel without a map? It's become the norm these days for every and any fantasy book to have its own map. Which is amazing, really..

My first true encounter with a map in a book was the ERAGON series. For hours as a kid I would sit and stare at it and illustrate parts of it (The towns, cities and desert, etc.) The terrain and imagination behind it utterly fascinated me. It remains to this day one of my favourite maps.


Maps greatly enhance the reading experience, that is a proven fact. The map in the THRONE OF GLASS series and the GRISHA trilogy are maps that I want to have framed on my wall one day. Along with A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSE'S Prythian and the Ice Court of SIX OF CROWS.

If England truly was split by Courts, I'd be living in the Autumn Court. Yikes. 

Urgh. MAP PORN. 

OCEAN OF INK AND TEETH's maps came right at the beginning of the original version in 2010, and they've barely changed since then. 

Andronia @ 2010
Plotting Andronia is still great fun. Though on the original drawing you can't really see it, the terrain varies drastically in some places. 

The Twin Islands (the blue islands) is where the Okyano, the "mermaids" reside. It's also where our heroine, Cascadia, lives. Now that I look back, I see that the islands were heavily inspired by Venice. (Canals, aqueducts and rivers and lakes. Also, like Venice, it is very slowly sinking beneath the waves. Hence its small landmass.) All in all, it's the perfect place for people who spend a great deal of time in or around water. Their livelihoods revolve around the ocean (they are natural born master fishermen.) The towns are built on raised bridges to prevent flooding, and the main city, Winonav, is nothing but rivers with the buildings tall and reaching up out of the water. Transport is swimming or boats. Instead of stone, the buildings there are created from a special type of white coral, hence the nickname for the city: The White City. The city is is essentially alive with the coral constantly growing and changing. 

Vyra to the north, capital of the people that have never changed and never will, the Tieranah, is built upon a mountain. It is a mountain. Well, an extinct volcano. The residents there have to deal with the steep climbs and have adapted long ago with incredibly strong muscles. Vyra's castle can be found at the top of the mountain. The higher up the mountain you live, the more important you are in the eyes of the people. The Tieranah occupy ALL of the yellow on the map. And they detest their watery neighbours. So you can see why the Okyano fear them and know that extinction is coming if nothing is done. The north is relatively dry and covered by lush forests and a few marshes. My trip to Scotland very much inspired Vyra. 

Finazea to the south is hot hot hot. The place is also volcanic, sporting a desert and the inhabitants have long been dark skinned because of the heat. Because of the high temperatures, the Finazean's are master craftsmen when it comes to working with metals and precious jewels. The best type of sword in Andronia is a Finazean sword. 
Finazea is Switzerland. Though its inhabitants are Tieranah, they harbour no ill will towards the Okyano. There's rumours of Okyano living there and dealing with the heat. Finazea was inspired by the Sahara desert. Also Namibia and African culture.

There are obviously many more places beside, but these three are the main ones. 

I have some sketches too. One of the map, and the other is Osa'ri.

So that's maps and typography! Plus a little info on the world in general. Up next? MYTHOLOGY! Take a dip into a few tales from Cascadia's world.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Off the Page Project #1: Stories new and old

#1: Stories new and old

This post contains information about my... reaaalllyyyy horrifying past stories. Ye have been warned.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. From downright cringe Supernatural fanfiction when I was 13 to when I wrote my first "proper," long-ass novel at 15 (a whopping 10k. Huge, right? And it was basically a Twilight ripoff with angels...) I have always been writing. Always gripped with the need to share the stories inside of my head. And there are a lot of stories knocking around in there. 

The first true novel I can remember writing (about 2009) was a YA dystopian story called PRIMALS. Basically, in the far future, nuclear fallout has caused some people to be born with the ability to turn into an animal that reflects their nature. They're hunted down and constantly on the run, searching for their "promised land" where they are safe from the evil King who wants to eradicate the dangerous hybrids. 

It doesn't SOUND too bad, right? But dear God, just looking back at my atrocious spelling, plot, etc... 

Basically. But here is a section that I've found. Knock yourselves out laughing:

After PRIMALS came DIAMOND WAVES in early 2010. And the beginning of my fascination with writing murderous mermaids. After a trip to the Isle of Wight, I returned with so much inspiration that I couldn't help but write about that magical place. It still remains my favourite place in the world. 

This was also my first NaNoWriMo project. Wanna read the summary I posted for it? You know you want to: 

These days it's called THE GIRL OF WIND AND TIDE. I hope one day to rewrite it. 

But DIAMOND WAVES gave birth to the story that has never left my mind, even after all these years. The characters that stayed in my head, developing constantly and the world in which they live in expanding regularly. 


I spent a long time writing this and only this. From the middle of 2010 to the end of 2012. Unheard of from me. The first draft remains on my computer still, edited only a little since then. Incompleted. I realised in early 2013 that, while I adored the world and its characters, it wasn't the right story. Wasn't the story I wanted to tell. So I stopped writing and started searching for the story that Cascadia, Gabriel and the others belonged to.

Here is a snippet of the original. It has a tiny bit of the world thrown in as well. (Yes, Gabriel IS some tortured and lovesick puppy. Doesn't unrequited love suck?)

 I discovered the story that they belonged to at loooooong last near the beginning of 2015 and began to plot like never before. It's this that I am currently working on, along with two WIPs from the beginning of 2015 called STARHOUNDS (YA SciFi. Vampires in space, dude! And fat heroine.) And THE HOLLOW PRINCE (NA fantasy with faeries. I began this wayyyyyy before reading ACOTAR and ended up having to edit bits because it was so similar. Small world, huh?) These two WIPs are 30k or beyond now. There's also other WIPs such as; HEARTLESS, LADY WINTER and THE DARK CITY and DRAGONSONG.

 I really don't stop plotting. It's become the norm for me to carry a notepad and pen around with me. 

OCEAN OF INK AND TEETH has undergone major changes, and it feels so, so great to be writing about Cascadia again. This new version is definitely best described as SIX OF CROWS (or PEAKY BLINDERS) meets THE LITTLE MERMAID. These mermaids (called the Okyano) have a hidden layer of shark's teeth in their gums that slides down when they're angry (or hungry...) and they can and will rip your throat out. No aria singing fishes here! You can see me affectionately calling it "Mermaid Mafia" on Twitter.

What fun!

It's OCEAN OF INK AND TEETH that my OTPP posts will be about. I will tell you how I created Cascadia's world, plotted out the mythology and more. There's just... so much! I am terribly passionate about this story and its world. (I have maps for another post. Ye have been warned.)

So... I hope you can join mine and Cascadia's story. There's still much to do and I know for sure that it's going to be a crazy ride. 

*me when I realise just how much more I have to write*

For the first OFF THE PAGE PROJECT post, I'd like you to write about YOUR past and present novels. How did you get from those old works to where your writing is now? Do your old works make you cringe? Did they, like me, inspire your current work? 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

8 Most Anticipated February 2016 Releases!

Author: Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens #3
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: February 11, 2016

A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.
Author: Jeff Garvin
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 2, 2016

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Off The Page Project: What is it?

First of all: What IS the Off the Page Project?

I write a lot. Way too much. I have a stack of WIPs higher than me, ranging from YA SciFi to Retellings to NA Fantasy. And I'd like to share my writing journey and experience with everyone. My triumphs, failures, everything. Think of this as a journal. 

There are many bloggers out there who are also writers like myself. No, not aspiring writers. Anyone who writes is a writer. Aspiring doesn't come into it. You write? Good, then you are a writer. I wanted to take this fun opportunity and extend it to others beside myself. There are no strict guidelines, no "you must post about this!" You decide the pace and decide what you're going to share. 

Here are some things that you could share: 

  • Your inspiration. 
  • Techniques you employ to keep yourself interested in your project. 
  • Your world building methods. 
  • How you create a character. 
  • Tips for dialogue.
  • Research tricks and advice.
  • Maps! Have you designed a map for your world?
And many more besides. I will be doing a weekly meme for those that would like to participate in sharing their writerly experiences. So feel free to join in with that! I will tweet when the first one is out/what it is. 

This project will, hopefully, highlight the different plotting methods and help others to perfect their own; encourage fellow young writers to keep on going; inspire others to take up writing and much, much more. It's a fun little project by writers for writers. 

Post one starting from now will be an introduction post where you tell people who you are and what you are currently working on (genre, etc).
And don't feel shy or like you're bragging! We are all at the bottom of the ladder that is the journey to publication. (Of course, you don't HAVE to be working towards the endgame of publication to join in!)
And most importantly: have fun! Post as often as you want, and about anything relating to writing. What you think as rambling just might be the inspiration someone else needs to continue. 

If you do tweet your post, please use the tag #OTPP so others can find your post! (And so I can RT!) And please head your post with the image at the top of this post. (Or design your own with the words on! That's super cool too!) If you have any questions, feel free to ask. 

Will you be joining in? Do let me know if you are! Or simply considering it!

Monday, 18 January 2016

REVIEW: THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Source: Purchased from Kobo
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Rating: 3/5 stars
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
This wasn't a bad book per say. I didn't mind reading it, but I thought it was pretty predictable. I felt like I knew everything that was going to happen before it did. Maybe I just have some latent mind powers though. You never know.

Sunday, 17 January 2016



Summary: Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Title: Beyond the Red
Author: Ava Jae
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016
Rating: DNF

Thank you to the publisher for the ARC!

Yep, I have finally found a 2016 debut that, sadly, I don't like. It's never easy DNF-ing a book, especially one such as this. In 2015, my biggest problem was trying to slog through books that I didn't like, forcing myself to get to the end. In 2016, if I read a book that I don't like at all by page 100, I will DNF. It's hard, but I need to do it. 

BEYOND THE RED, unfortunately, was not my cup of tea at all. I did break my own rules and try to read this twice, but I simply couldn't get into it either time or enjoy it. I strongly disliked Kora, the heroine, and simply could not connect with her or feel anything for her. The same with Eros. 

The beginning started out wobbly, then it just didn't recover in my eyes. Despite desperately trying not to, I kept finding little things wrong after that and I couldn't overlook them by the time I reached page 100. Incredibly disappointed that one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 has fallen flat. I feel like I was expecting something vastly different because of the scintillating summary, then saw next to none of it.

Ava has great writing potential, I will say that. Truly hoping that she writes other books, because she could very easily knock the ball out of the park with her vast imagination. 

So, with the heaviest of hearts, BEYOND THE RED is a DNF. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Sharing Your Writing With Others: A guest post by Ray

So, what's on the shelves today? Why, a special guest post from a lovely friend of mine and fellow writer, Ray. Inspiring, hilarious and talented, it's quite the honour to have her here! Read on to see what Ray has to say on the subject of...

Sharing your writing with others.

By Ray @ Ray Reads Books

Something I’ve come to realise over the last couple of years is that I both desperately crave and fear-like-a-biblical-plague having other people read my writing. Obviously this is something that would be inevitable *IF* (note the enormous “if” right there) I ever managed to get a book published. The whole point is that strangers would read the words you’d slaved over for weeks, months, YEARS, and dive into that world that has only been real in your own head for so long. But that doesn’t make it any less petrifying.

It’s incredibly easy to share your writing with people beyond your nearest and dearest friends (gods forfend that I show my mother anything I write!) what with the amount of readers & writer-folk you can find on Twitter, Wattpad, Writing Forums and other internet platforms. All it takes is a hefty slug of courage *coughvodkacough* and some tech-savvy and you’re away! Your stories can be let out into the wild for people to read and comment on just like that.

Posting a story online can have one of four outcomes; People read it, love it and write lovely comments; People read it but no one gives you any feedback; People read it, hate it and are vehement in telling you all the reasons why; or No one reads it at all.

The first is the dream obvs, who doesn’t love the happy-gooey feeling of having someone you’ve not bribed tell you how much they enjoyed reading your writing and that they want to read more? That is fucking music to my ears. The second outcome is strangely nerve-wracking because while you’re glad that *someone* has read it you’re left wondering what they thought and on Wattpad it’s not like you can hunt down each reader and shake feedback out of them.

The third outcome is one that even NYT Best-selling authors have to deal with and on the internet those type of people get seriously *mean*

 Getting your writing trashed on is heart-breaking but if someone actually gives constructive criticism on why your story didn’t work for them then it might actually help you in the long-term. For me the idea that no one will read your writing is possibly the most soul-destroying to contemplate. Nothing would discourage me more from writing if I felt like I was merely posting into a void where no one had any interest in the story I wanted to tell.

While I have posted some of my writing up onto Wattpad, I recently took it down once I realised that it was in NO way something I wanted other people to see and judge me by as a writer. It was literally the first drafts of chapters from a novel that I am still trying to finish since I wrote it so utterly out of order (I have many posts on my blog about *that*). I was horrified when I looked back at the chapters and saw how HORRENDOUS they were. Like I couldn’t believe that I had just left them lying around the internet for anyone to read and laugh at! Thank buggery no one actually left a comment pointing out how awful they were.

For some people the instant gratification of Wattpad and other sites like it is all they want for their writing. For others, myself included, the end goal is publication with a traditional publisher or maybe self-publishing. This makes sharing your writing a little more fraught with self-doubt and the nagging thought of should you show it to anyone? Some writers might not share any of their writing before they start querying agents whereas some might have a trusted reader or two who sees *everything* from the shitty first scribbles right up to the twelvety-millionth edit.

I am the latter kind of writer. I physically *need* another pair of eyes to read over my scenes and share their thoughts good or bad. I would go insane, having convinced myself that every word I wrote was pure shit and that no one would ever consider publishing me if I didn’t have my Threadsister/Twinnie/Bestie Extraordinaire Jess to send my work to. She has read every single word that I have written for my current novel-in-progress even though I wrote the end before I wrote the beginning. She knows and loves these characters almost as much as I do and we spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about them as if they were real people, not figments of my imagination. I have been writing this book for her as much as for myself.

However I’m getting to the stage where I am almost comfortable with people other than Jess reading my writing – almost - I am still bricking it when I send a snippet of my work to someone new. Learning to trust another person with your precious babies is hard as fuck but building those kind of relationships with fellow writers can be so rewarding. I mean, most of my favourite authors are super close friends with other authors (Queens Sooz and Sarah being prime examples), they read and critique each other’s work and can help work out problems in a way that a friend or family member who don’t read/write couldn’t. True, having your other half tell you they love your story is an excellent morale booster but it sometimes may be more helpful to have another writer whom you trust and respect saying it and then breaking down all the reasons why.

Supporting the aspiring writers you meet via social media (the Twitter writing community is quite literally the best thing ever), offering to read their writing and give feedback, simply cheering them on when they tweet about how many words they got written today are all fantastic ways to build relationships with people who might be just as eager to do the same for you and your work. Hell one day you and the writer friends you make might all be debut authors together! And if you don’t lie awake at night mentally drafting your acknowledgements section and mentioning all the lovely people who read your book before it got near publication, I think you’re a dirty liar. Either that or I’m a nutter. Jury’s still out.

Massive thank you to Nicola for hosting me and my rambling thoughts on writing. She is one of the aforementioned lovely people who have read some of my book *squishes*. I have also been so lucky as to have been able to read a snippet from one of her WIPs and dude lemme tell you – it was some good shit and one day I’m pretty damn sure y’all will get to read it too. Unless she tries to convince herself otherwise – NO NICOLA, DO NOT THROW AWAY THAT STORY! 
Anyway for frequent updates on the nervous mess that is my brain trying to adult you can find me on Twitter @RayReadsaLot and less frequently this past year but HOPEFULLY more often in the next I have a bookish blog called Ray Reads Books (funnily enough). I hope you are not too weirded out by this post to come see what goes on there.
Ray :D

Thank-you very much for that, Ray! Such a truly interesting piece. And I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said! Indeed, having someone read your work can be both exhilarating and... well, TERRIFYING! I've yet to meet a person who isn't frightened by the prospect of allowing someone else to see part of their soul. Because that is, truthfully, what a book is; a part of that author's soul. They have poured their entire being into creating it. 

Ray's story is magical, I must leave you all with that. Captivating even in the early draft stages. I greatly look forward to seeing my good friend and fellow Brit one day dominate the NYT Bestseller List herself. And maybe I'll be up there with her!