The Novel I wish I’d Wrote: The Bone Season…

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This is the novel I wish I had wrote. Shannon builds her world with deep originality and a fascinating dystopian concept. Though it seems like I should have waited it out until I’d persisted with all of the series first, I wanted to just get right in and gush about The Bone Season…

I like the way we jump straight into the mystery with one of those vague ‘we walk among you’ paragraphs followed by an initial development on the setting of the novel. There are dates and histories to Shannon’s world that show great care and imagination, not to mention the whole ‘Seven orders of Clairvoyance’ and the detail given to each (I think I would want to be a Dreamwalker by the way, in case you were interested. Though I am intrigued by the Augurs and there many subtypes.) The whole ‘dreamscape’, ‘aether’ and ‘spirit’ concept completely beguiled me, despite my tiny brain having initial trouble following all of the information dedicated to the plot. It was a little overwhelming jumping straight into everything but the terms and mechanics of the novels make up grow more concrete as you read.

As always, I stayed with the book because of the characters and I’m hugely keen to spend more time with the Seven Seals and get a real taste of the Dials in the second book. Paige is intriguing from the get go because of her gift, it’s the first thing we learn about her and it throws you in deep rather than beating around the bush and dragging you through a hefty build up. There is a fierceness in her that makes her immediately respected, if not likeable, she’s stubborn and grows from being dependant on Jax and his Seals to being reliant and trusting in herself. You’re on her side because she’s so headstrong and, well, badarse. Even the smaller characters, like Liss and Julian become dear through their struggle. In this world the humans are the weak ones, the hunted and their circumstance builds pity and anger in the reader, especially toward the amaurotic’s (the fully human, no clairvoyance to grant them worthy) and the brutality of the slavery they face.

Sheol I was a gnarly setting, again with that well set up back story of the fire in Oxford and the isolation from the rest of the Scion. And the clairvoyants revolting and overcoming the imposing power of their Rephaite captors appealed to the underdog backer in me. You wanted to keep at the story because you needed to know the outcome.

I’m less keen on the love story development. It felt rushed, like Paige was all of a sudden smitten just because Warden showed her some attention. There didn’t seem any gradual warming to him at all. It was as if the author thought it best to shovel a love story down our necks to keep us  interested for the second novel. Warden was an okay guy, loved the heart of gold rebellion he had going on, but mostly he was sort of dull. I was more intrigued by Dave, the fellow red jacket and the prospect of an, at least friendship, blossoming there. There are so many lose ends to continue with though so I’m almost certain the next instalments in the series will be just as compelling.

What did you guys think of it? Any recommendations along the same lines?

Light and Love, N x

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Recent Reads…

I can’t promise there won’t be spoilers.

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The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

Holly Black is a new favourite author. If I hadn’t been so overjoyed in discovering ‘The Cruel prince’ earlier this year, then this stand alone definitely sold me. The central premise revolves, once again, around faerie lore, with a heard of magnetic characters and themes integral to the fantasy genre. There are mystical forests, hidden worlds, knights and dream walking. It’s set in a small town in America, always a promising setting for the weird and wonderful. The plot follows the lives of a sister and brother, now in their teens, who have grown up infatuated with the mysterious presence of a young boy in an unbreakable glass coffin in the woods. In this town the people aren’t strangers to the trickster work of the faerie folk and even have a half breed changeling boy living amongst them. The story is all sorts of magic but has it’s roots in the modern world which is always the best doorway to escape.

As a kid I used to love being let lose in the woods, my imagination whirring in the same direction as the tale Black weaves in ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’. For some reason the setting just stuck with me, a little like the Shiver series by Stiefvater, where the forest is home to the uncanny, a deep, twisted land of possibilities. If you’re a fan of the genre then you have to give this one a read. Black is sort of phenomenal.

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A Skinful of Shadows – Frances Hardinge

A stunning write with a fascinating concept at the heart of it. The opening to chapter ten is one of the countless pages I bookmarked and I’ve included some snippets here because, gosh darn, they’re illuminated by imagery. Such prettily strung words they are.

‘Twenty-seven months is long enough for a place to seep into your bones, its colours become the palette of your mind, its sounds your private music.’

‘Humans are strange, adaptable animals, and eventually get used to anything, even the impossible or unbearable.”

‘One day you wake up in your prison, and realise that it is the only real place. Escape is a dream, a lip-service prayer that you no longer believe in.’ 

So many of the lines are almost poetic and there’s a constant solemn tone to every paragraph. I found it almost draining to read because there wasn’t really any comic reprieve or any love story. But the tainted bones of it all only made it all the more impressive. It had the senses of a classic in the detail of description, the setting in an old manor in the marshes, the severity in class divide and the themes of war and politics. The characters are pretty much all ghastly, the redeeming qualities are forever in self interest. It’s all very pessimistic and very…honest.

Makepeace is likeable in her naivety and in her struggle. She’s just so good despite her “curse” and the family that are bestowed on her. I say it in every single book review when I’ve quite obviously chosen the novel because of the protagonist, but she’s such a gem of a female character. She doesn’t give up, not in the cemetery where the dead could get the better of her, not at the house when she’s caught time and time again daring to escape and then not on her brother James, even after he seemingly gave up on her. The way she and James utilise their curses in the end is so fulfilling too. But bear is my favourite character, I love the way he becomes an extension of Makepeace, possesses her and turns her into a feral girl capable of protecting herself. Like a witches familiar, only a whole lot more discreet. The heart of the story is bonkers and, for me, a very original concept. Massive love for Hardinge.

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Dark Elements – Armentrout

I think this may not be the first time I’ve read this series which wouldn’t be a wild guess seeing as it’s an Armentrout creation. The first two books were niggling at my memory and I kind of had a grasp on the outcomes and felt familiar with the characters and their relationships. Regardless, it was such a throwback series, a very teen me kind of deal, and I felt a bit weird reading about eighteen year olds falling in love at twenty three. Is that silly? Regardless, I dig the plot. Being that it revolves around my all time favourite subject matter, demons. It’s a classic, over done, concept but I always go back to it.

Layla is fiesty and headstrong, though the self pity in the beginning made her my least favourite Armentrout heroine. But the whole, mother is Lilith, boyfriend is Prince of Hell but demons have redeeming qualities and one once feeble eighteen year old girl can now save the world thing had me hooked. And of course the ease in which the books read is just bliss. You can drown in the world because you don’t have to think about an overly complicated language or navigate your way through a completely new realm. That’s not to say the simplicity is a bad thing but a strong foundation to place witty banter between well rounded characters. The dialogue in Armentrout’s books has forever impressed me. There is always such a rhythmic, realistic, flow to it and the characters are always so dominating of their own identities. You could read the lines without, ‘he said, she saids’ and know from the story who’s speaking when. It’s a powerful thing that.

As always recommendations are welcome, hope all of you lovely people are doing well.

Light and Love, N x

Recent Reads

Midnight Sins – Jennifer L Armentrout

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A haunting, erotic, very devourable novel. I didn’t absolutely love it and it did take a bit of time to get into but it was a nice easy, impossibly romantic, storyline with a proper crime plot around it. There was a hint at ghosties and the supernatural but it never lead anywhere, it was more of a thriller than a fantasy. Which of course was gripping just not a genre I tend to get obsessed with. Armentrout is, as always, one of my main ladies and her female lead had that same headstrong determination I’ve always admired in her novels. Julia was relatable and courageous and grew subtly throughout which is always a little bit empowering. The de Vincent brothers were a treat too, and not just because of how they were physically described either, it was a pleasing story in itself to go from that super tense relationship between them all, to that sense of loyalty in the end. Armentrout planted little seeds of intrigue hinting at the lives of Gabe and Dev too, which definitely upped the hype for the next instalments.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas

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After the whole A Court of Thorns and Roses hype I was sceptical to try another series by Maas because it seemed that anything would just be a disappointment in comparison. However, though I can’t quite let myself love this world as much just yet, it still indulges in that smooth writing style, particular description, deep world building and of course a feisty leading chica. Celaena is a freaking assassin for a start which is just such a top level of badassery I can’t even handle it. It has just the right sprinkle of romance between a lot of magic and action packed scenes too. And though I was gunning for a possibly lesbian relationship between Celaena and Nehemia (how perfect would that of been though?) the tension between Celaena’s obvious attraction toward Prince Dorian and that hopeful little spark toward Chaol was tension enough. I’m team Chaol by the way, in case you were wondering.

Be Careful What You Joust For – Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak

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This one is a little bit special because I got to read it before the release and as an avid reader of the fantastical, that was a slight honour. When I was in my teens I was following all major writing and book publishing career paths, I wanted to be an editor and publisher and a published writer and just all of the wordy creative pursuits. I used to follow book bloggers and get all kinds of envious when one of my favourite authors reached out to them for an early copy of a book and then a couple weeks ago it happened to me.

I read the synopsis and I was super keen, it had hints toward the historical and fantastical, a whole load of depth to promise a gripping read. What I loved most was the multiple perspectives. It gives you a stronger engagement with each of the characters and as there are a whole bunch of them with varying but related stories to tell, it’s a pretty nifty narrative tool. I was particularly fond of Isolda because of her double life and Terrin for his wild little heart. It was a beautifully crafted world too and after that cliffhanger I’m hungry for what the writers have up there sleeve for the rest of the Pentavia series. Massive thanks to Ivy Smoak for letting me read it ahead of release too. So cool.

As always drop me your recommendations and favourites below. Always scouting for new paper worlds.

Light and Love, N x

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february

  1. A surprise scrapbook I received in the post from some special humans I had to leave behind in Australia. I’m a sentimentalist so it goes without saying this is one of the best presents I’ve received.
  2. Make-up. A foreigner to my skin, which has had a very lovely year of sun kissed freedom. I like nude by nature, it’s cruelty free, mostly vegan and this foundation is the sheer sort which still lets my imperfections shine through (It’s the Luminous Sheer foundation which I can’t source on the website). I don’t like full coverage, just enough to keep me confident but also keep me, me. The powder is nice too but I don’t really use it all that much.
  3. Coffee Dates with my best friend. I had to go a year without them so this month has been all about filling those missing spaces and investigating what awesome cafe’s my city has to offer. Pictured is Pink Lane Coffee a creative little nook, with a menu and vibe that has me reminiscing about Australia (can you tell I miss it?) I’ll be sure to do a little review of it soon!
  4. A Book and a cup of tea. I don’t really enjoy regular tea (terribly un-British of me I know) but I’ve developed an addiction to green tea as of late. I’ve also been re reading my favourite books to encourage more words and less telly in my life. Hush hush is just as heartbreaking to finish the sixth time around. Yes this is a young adult fantasy, yes I’m a twenty two year old woman, what of it?
  5. Instagram – My favourites this month have been my friend Jody’s – She’s a photographer so her feed is always perfect shots of beaches and travel fun. And also Tia Hendricks for style inspiration and empowering captions.
  6. I have too much time. I HAVE TOO MUCH TIME. With too much time comes too much youtube so here’s a bundle of joyessness to fill your time, if you have too much time, like I have too much time. Time, ya know?
  • Meghan Hughes – specifically the Pizza Talks, her one with Arden Rose just recently was delightful, go Check it!
  • Negative Feedback – I’m Miss. Amateur everything so I’m trying to use this space in my life to learn things. I super love photography so this little Youtube channel is expanding my mind (even if some of it is a little too smarty pants for me). P.s. give me money so I can afford this hobby.
  • Neverland Boys. Co – I like adventures, they do adventures. I like the sea, they film the sea. I like Australian accents, they have Australian accents. It’s win, win, win. Also checkout their blog and instagrams for insane pictures of insane places, it might hurt your wanderlust a bit!

So there we have it, a couple pieces that made my month, inspired me and kept me busy during too many lost days of moping around. How about your favourites? Any book, music, instagram recommendations?

N x