How do you organise your books?

My main bookshelf looks a little like this:

The way it is organised is the top shelf are all my favourite 5-star reads, the second shelf are my 4-star reads, the third shelf are some of my TBR pile (I have more of these on a second bookshelf) and the fourth shelf are my meh-reads.

How do you organise your books? By author? By rating? By cover?

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Links: GoodReads

Blurb:

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Why I picked it up:

This book was sort of everywhere when it was released. Everyone was talking about it, mainly because look at that cover, it’s gorgeous! I got my hands on it pretty early, but it took a while for me to get around to reading it.

My thoughts:

I went into this book not really knowing what to expect. I hadn’t read the blurb and I hadn’t read any reviews, so I went in completely blind.

Sara Raasch is very good at painting a picture with few words. Which is good because the “world” of Primoria is confusing at best. Eight kingdoms, four with all four seasons, four with only one season – some with magic, some without, and then a bunch of characters dumped into the fray. For the first 20 or so pages I was struggling to keep them all in order…. By page 50 I had everything sorted in my brain, but still hadn’t settled completely into the story.

The unfiltered rays of the sun prickle my skin as I stare up into the blue sky, wincing at a particularly sharp stone under my back. This is the fourth time in the last twenty minutes that I’ve ended up on the ground, watching stalks of prairie grass billow around my head. My lungs heave and sweat beads down my face, so I stay on my back, basking in this moment of peace.

All in all, this novel was a little too… bland for me. I never felt like I connected to the characters. I didn’t feel like I was rooting for anyone. I was just reading along, disconnected from what was happening. I think that’s because I couldn’t connect with Meira. I didn’t feel like she had any qualities that made me excited to be reading about her.

Around page 70 I finally sank into the story. Around page 90 it all got a little too predictable, then it started to drag. I skimmed the last half. This book wasn’t for me. It never grabbed me and sucked me in.

My Verdict – 1 Star

Do you keep books or give them away once they’ve been read?

I admit it… I’m a HUGE book hoarder. I keep all of my books, even the ones I didn’t like and should probably donate to a second-hand bookstore.

I’m not really too sure why I hold on to books… I think I’m in love with the idea of building my own library.

Do you keep books once they have been read? Or do you give them away?

Do you keep books or give them away once

Book Review: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Title: Kissing in America
Author: Margo Rabb
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: May 27
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Links: GoodReads | Book Depository | Amazon

kissing in america margo rabb

Blurb:

In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that’s still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who seems to truly understand Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

Why I picked it up:

This book was sent to me from Penguin in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

This novel has a beautiful voice. Right from the starting pages it felt like the author has something important to say, like every word was carefully measured before jotting it down onto the page. Or maybe I’m just feeling articulate because Eva loves to read and appreciate the written word, so almost automatically I jumped on board and started thinking a little more elegant also.

Unfortunately, the effect didn’t last. The middle section of this book really dragged for me. I found myself putting it down and picking it back up, reading a little and putting it back down again. It was unnecessarily long. I’m not a huge fan of “road trip” novels, but all of the travel and meeting of relatives was boring for me. It felt like all of the “story” was in LA, so reading endless chapters of them getting there was just plain bland.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this story was the “illusion” that Eva was under. She had a few conversations and a make out session with Will and was all of a sudden traveling across the country to see him, calling him her boyfriend and telling him she loved him.

In short, this isn’t an exciting novel by any means. Nothing really happened, there was no dynamics, it was just all on one level. At its core, I suppose it’s a novel about grief, family and friendship, but considering I started the novel thinking the author had something really important to say, by the end I was still unsure what it was.

My Verdict – 2 Stars

How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Before I started blogging, I used to read books that were highly rated on GoodReads. I’d pick up the books that everyone was raving about, that were up the top of Listopia lists, and in the top 10 new releases for the month or the year.

Since starting this blog however, that has sort of gone out the window. Mainly because I receive review copies from publishers before they are released, so suddenly I’m reading books where I have no clue whether they are going to be good or not. Instead of reading books I know are quality, I’m the one deciding whether they are or not for others.

Sometimes it’s rewarding and sometimes it’s like wading through a lot of average stuff. But I like it, because it forces me out of my comfort zone.

How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

read out of comfort zone

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Links: GoodReads

Blurb:

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

 Why I picked it up:

This book was sent to me from Penguin in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

I’m a big Sarah Dessen fan. Her young adult contemporary novels were some of the first books I read in the YA genre, so I went into this new novel with fond feelings.

I’ve always loved Sarah Dessen’s writing style. It’s so simplistic, to the point, and yet almost musical. It’s very rhythmic with sentences that vary in length and tone. I also love how she can create subplots that are just as interesting as the main plot. But even more than that, I love how she can create well-developed characters. Even the minor characters have traits and stories you can care about. I didn’t realise how much I missed that until I read this book. So often I read subpar books without really realising why they are subpar. Most of the time, I think it’s because the characters are like cardboard cut-outs. They are there and functioning within the story, but they have no real dynamic or personality.

I was used to being invisible. People rarely saw me, and if they did, they never looked close. I wasn’t shiny and charming like my brother, stunning and graceful like my mother, or smart and dynamic like my friends. That’s the thing, though. You always think you want to be noticed. Until you are.

Overall I loved this book. Sarah Dessen does not disappoint. The characters were so vivid and I fell in love with their lives and the separate conflicts they all experienced. Considering this book is over 400 pages long, it just flew by!

If I was the invisible girl, Layla was the shining star around which her family and friends revolved. We didn’t form a friendship as much as I got sucked into her orbit.

I think the best thing about this was that it didn’t have a “case of disappearing parents”. So many YA novels do. I loved that Sydney’s mum and dad were strict. It drove me insane, but I loved it.

A another great piece of work to add to my Sarah Dessen collection!

My Verdict – 5 stars

Blog Tour: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass

Today I’m very lucky to have Sarah J Maas featured on my blog. Thanks to Bloomsbury for organising the tour and to Sarah for answering my questions.

I am writing this post from my iPhone whilst overseas traveling, so I hope it looks okay! I will beautify it a little more when I get home!

  

Blog Tour: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas


1. Your books are always filled with such beautiful characters and settings, where do your ideas come from?

Blood sacrifices to demons.

Kidding. Sort of.

I have no idea where my ideas come from, but I do know most of them hit me when I’m listening to music. Music inspired both Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses—both of them were literally the product of a few minutes of music. For TOG, it was some music from the Cinderella soundtrack. And for ACOTAR, I was listening to a piece from the Princess Mononoke soundtrack when I suddenly saw the opening scene of the book and heard Feyre’s voice narrating it to me.

I’m also inspired by my own travel/adventures (…alas, no hot Fae men, though), by the TV/films I watch, and by art—usually stuff I stumble across on Pinterest. Which is my addiction and downfall.

2. What is your favourite book that you have written to date?

Oh, boy. That’s a tough one. I love all my books for different reasons. Heir of Fire might be the book I poured the most of myself into and will always hold a special place in my heart, Queen of Shadows was the most fun I ever had while writing (and perhaps tied with HOF for tears shed while drafting), and A Court of Thorns and Roses is a culmination of so many fairytales and things that I love… My favourite book legit changes depending on my mood.

3. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Plenty of people are going to tell you that you can’t do it. That what you write isn’t good enough, or the “right” thing to be writing. Don’t listen to them. You do what you love, write what you love, and screw the rest. The only person who can ever get you to stop writing is you.

4. What are your three favourite novels?

This is the worst and most unfair question of all time.

I’d have trouble picking my favourite thirty novels, but… I’ll list my favourite three authors (which is kinda cheating, but whatevs):

Sharon Shinn, Megan Whalen Turner, Anne Bishop………

And I can’t resist naming more, so I’ll just make this Top Favourite Authors List now: Melina Marchetta, Karen Marie Moning, Nalini Singh, J. R. Ward, Gena Showalter, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Susan Dennard, Christina Lauren, Alex Bracken, Patricia A. McKillip, Thea Harrison, Diana Gabaldon, James Clemens, Garth Nix, and J. K. Rowling.

*takes a breath*

5. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m just finishing up my final read-through of Queen of Shadows (the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, out September 1st worldwide), and editing the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses (out Spring 2016).

….And I’m drafting the (untitled) fifth TOG book, too.

Travel Hiatus

Words Read & Written will be on a temporary hiatus while I’m overseas traveling. I’m off to America for a few weeks and will be back in mid-May. Once I’m home, I’ll resume blogging as normal!

One blog I will post while I’m overseas is my stop on the A Court of Thorns and Roses blog tour. I’ll be interviewing Sarah J Maas so keep an eye out for that on the 4th of May.

Until then, I’m off to enjoy my travels!

Blog Tour: Paradise City by CJ Duggan

Today is my stop on the Paradise City blog tour. Lots of thanks to Hachette for organising the tour and to CJ Duggan for answering my questions!

Title: Paradise City
Author: CJ Duggan
Publisher: Hachette
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | iTunes

Blurb:

When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they’d send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home schooling on a rural Australian property, she’s sure that Paradise will be amazing. But when she’s thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie’s not so sure.

Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie’s never experienced, but all that’s about to change. It’s new, terrifying . . . and exciting. But when she meets Luke Ballantine, exciting doesn’t even come close to describing her new life. Trouble with a capital T, Luke is impulsive, charming and answers to no one. The resident bad-boy leader of the group, he’s sexier than any boy Lexie has ever known.

Amidst the stolen moments of knowing looks and heated touches, Lexie can’t help but wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?

Why I picked it up:

This book was sent to me from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit, I love a “trashy-high-school-summer-romance”. I mean, how could you not love the “new-girl-in-town-meets-hot-bad-boy” cliché. It’s incredibly overdone, but man… as far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with that premise!

Probably one of the strengths of this novel was the characters. Lexi, Amanda, Balantine, Boon… they were a great cast of unique and fun characters. I also loved the romance between Lexi and Bellantine – it developed at the perfect rate.

Ballantine and Boon made their way into the class.
“How about we sit apart, boys, wouldn’t want you to be distracted now.”
The boys stilled, looking at each other with guarded amusement.
Boon broke off down the middle aisle, throwing his books onto the desk and taking his seat.
“Yeah, Ballantine, stop distracting me.”

I also really enjoyed the writing, it was light and well written.

I had one of two choices. Move and live to fight another day. Or two, hold my ground, stamp my authority and run the risk of being flushed at recess. For some inexplicable reason, for which I will never, ever truly understand for the life of me, I chose the latter.

I simply broke from his heated eyes, and shifted my body to sit forward clasping my hands innocently together over my books, like a choir girl with a halo above her head.

I heard titters and a catcall instantly, Ballentine’s friend wailing, ‘Oh no, she d’int!’, as if he was some kind of guest on the Ricki Lake show or something.

But mainly I enjoyed all the Australian’isms – this was one seriously Aussie novel and I loved that.

Overall, I loved everything about this book. It was light and cute with plenty of laugh out loud and giggly moments. In a way, it sort of reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss. It had a similar tone and voice and a romance that made me sigh happily.

I’m looking forward to the next in the series!

My Verdict – 4.5 stars

1. Tell us a little about Paradise City – where did the idea for the story come from?

I really enjoy writing books about wallflowers and underdogs. Paradise City is heavily based on a journey of self-discovery and the fear of the unknown. I wanted to set it in a rich, vibrant city setting after having holidayed in LA and the Gold Coast; I just loved the vibe of these places. And although Paradise City is set in a mythical location in Australia my experiences from my travels drew heavily on the inspiration behind Lexie’s story.

2. The Boys of Summer series was self-published, how did you make the transition from self-publishing to Hachette?

It was very much a surreal, exciting, scary-crazy-cool experience that I don’t think I could sum up any better than in my actual announcement on my blog. My Very Big Announcement

3. Who is your favourite character in Paradise City?

Lexie is the closest to my heart, but am I Team Ballantine or Team Dean? Hmm?

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Own what you do, write what you love.

5. What other books do you love that you would recommend to readers who enjoyed Paradise City?

Anything by Simone Elkeles, Jenifer Echols, Kody Kleppinger, Stephanie Perkins – to name a few heroes.

Author Interview: Joe Ducie

Today on Words Read & Written I’m interviewing Australian author, Joe Ducie, winner of the Guardian Young Writer’s Prize.

Author: Joe Ducie
Publisher: Five Mile Press

Blurb: (The Rig)

Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at The Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from The Rig. No one except for Drake…

After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on The Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X – a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom – but can they survive long enough to make it?

1. Where do your novel ideas come from?

Always an interesting question. Not one I’m sure there’s any particular answer that fits across the board! I read a lot, consume large amounts of media across all sorts of platforms (TV, movies). The idea for THE RIG, the first book in the Will Drake series, actually came from my work in the security/counterterrorism industry. I was inspecting some oil rigs and a thought occurred that, with no access off the platform, this place would make a fairly decent prison. Then I pictured it as a juvenile holding facility, and the rest snowballed from there.

2. Describe your writing process? Are you a planner or do you write by the seam of your pants?

Little of both, with a larger slice of the pie heading toward seam of my pants. I start with a rough idea, maybe just a scene (like a kid jumping off an oil rig), and from there I’ll build a story around that particular, usually rather cool and action-orientated, scene. I try to write one page at a time, in the sense that I don’t often jump ahead and write future chapters ahead of time. I jot notes for those chapters, which is something of a plan, but I often find the ending comes as I get about 60% of the way into a manuscript. That’s when it’s time to consider planning a bit more.

Often this way of doing business means I need to go back and alter/spruce beginning chapters to be more aligned with the end, but that’s the fun part after getting a 100k words of rough story onto the page.

3. What makes you happy?

Oh, wow. Surrounding myself with good people, quiet drinks in dimly lit bars, discovering new books. Finishing a book long since past deadline.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Same old advice they’ve no doubt heard a dozen times before, but sit down and write! Read with a critical eye. The only real writing advice I’ve ever felt qualified to give has been to finish what you start. Even if you start to think the work is rubbish. Sit down and finish the story. The pages may go straight to the bin, but it is vastly important to get over the hurdle and finish something.

5. What are your writing goals?

Technical goals: 2000 words a day. I hit this goal on average.

Overall goals: Write until they tell me to stop, then keep writing. I’d love to hit bestseller lists and all that jazz, of course, but I’m more in it for the story. I want to write cool stories. Going to try my hand at adult thrillers soon.

6. When are aren’t writing, what do you get up to?

I’m employed in the counterterrorism and intelligence industry. That’s another bit of writing advice I’d give – don’t quit your day job. Heh.

7. What are your favourite books?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
Stolen by Lucy Christopher (very good book)
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

A small selection.

8. What is the most important this you’ve learnt in your writing journey?

Don’t forget to write! It’s becoming increasingly easier for me to get caught up in things related to writing, that isn’t actually writing. Need to ensure you have a daily word goal and work towards it! The rest of the stuff can and should wait until after those words are on the page.