Waiting On Wednesday – 52

Hello gentle reader,

today I’m waiting on AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir (expected publication: 28th April 2015 by Penguin/Razorbill). It’s a YA High Fantasy debut whose world-building was inspired by Ancient Rome. Paramount Pictures has already bought the rights to the book (se details here). Doesn’t it sound great?

An Ember In The Ashes

From Goodreads:

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

Elias is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Vow your blood and body to the empire.

Keep your heart for yourself.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you heard about this book? Is it on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?

Summer Reads – 2014 Edition

Hello gentle reader,

I’ve asked my friends which book they’re most looking forward to reading this summer. Here are their answers…

Lauren Garafalo chose The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (YA High Fantasy)

Queen of the Tearling

Jessica Rubinkowski picked Fire by Kristin Cashore and Warrior by Ellen Oh (both are YA High Fantasy)



Ambiguous A. chose The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Fantasy)

The Night Circus UK

Kate Michael picked Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey (Urban Fantasy) and The Falconer by Elizabeth May (YA  Historical Fantasy)

Autumn Bone

The Falconer

Rachel O’Laughlin chose Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Epic Fantasy) and Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (YA High Fantasy)


Midnight Thief

Jenny Adams Perinovic picked Written In My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon (Historical – Time Travel)

Written In My Own Heart's Blood

Katie Bucklein picked Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (YA Fairy Tale Retelling)

Cruel Beauty

And almost everyone said they were either reading or abour to read Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo (YA High Fantasy)

Ruin and Rising Final

Has your TBR pile suddenly grown? Yes, mine too 😉

Which book are you looking forward to reading this summer? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

A Writer in the Spotlight – Sara Raasch

A Writer In The Spotlight Logo

Hello gentle reader,

I’m delighted to share with you another interview with a YA author! This week it’s Sara Raasch, whose debut SNOW LIKE ASHES is coming out on 14th October 2014. It’s a YA High Fantasy and I was lucky to win an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and to read it early!


Author: Sara Raasch

Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy

Website: http://sararaasch.tumblr.com


Biography: Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, comes out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

My interview (5th May 2014)

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes! One of my earliest memories is of making Beanie Baby themed picture books, pasted together and drawn with markers and crayons. I’ve been hooked all my life! Not to Beanie Babies, thankfully.

What do you say to writers who want to be published one day?

It’s worth it! It’ll be hard — really hard — a lot of the time, but persistence is key. If you don’t give up on yourself, things WILL happen! Keep moving forward!

Snow Like Ashes

To write SNOW LIKE ASHES, where did you get your inspiration from? How did you come up with the world of Primoria?

A mashup of Pinterest (gotta love Pinterest) and combining some cultural aspects from our world. Pinterest is the best world building tool — it allowed me to throw a bunch of things together that I thought might be cool for a kingdom and see what they looked like side by side. For instance, one of the kingdoms we meet in the next book (Autumn) draws a lot of inspiration from Middle Eastern/Thai cultures. I have a lovely Pinterest board of that kingdom (that is of course secret now, but someday I will get to share it!).

Do you share any similarities with Meira, your main character?

We’re both very stubborn and passionate! Once Meira gets behind a cause, there’s no swaying her away from it, and I’m exactly the same way. Which can be a very useful trait, but is oftentimes detrimental and makes me/her blind to a lot of other things.

One thing you do really well in the book is describing how teenagers feel and act in this moment between childhood and adulthood. Is this why you chose to write for young adults?

Thanks! I love the time between childhood and adulthood — it’s such a time of transition and possibility, and that is mainly why I write YA. Anything can happen, and the characters can become anyone — seeing them grow is amazing!

What are you working on now? (Is it Book 2?!)

It is! Book 2 is currently in edits, and I’m actually already about 100 pages into Book 3. Why yes, I am obsessively early on deadlines, thanks for noticing.

Thanks so much for this interview, Sara!

Thanks for having me, EM! This was fun 😀

You can add SNOW LIKE ASHES on Goodreads here and you can follow Sara on Twitter here.

The Best Book Ever Giveaway Hop! (closed)

Hello gentle reader,

Somehow my blog has gained a lot of new followers lately. To thank you all for your support, I am taking part in the Best Book Ever Giveaway Hop hosted by The Best Books Ever & I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Best Book Ever Giveaway

The giveaway runs from today until Monday 10th June 2013. It is a chance for you to win:

A paperback copy of The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo (UK edition)


You may know this New York Times Best Seller by its US title, Shadow and Bone.

Same book, but here I’m giving away the gorgeous UK edition!

This giveaway is, as always, international.


The winner will be contacted by email.*

Giveaway information:

The giveaway is open until Monday 10th June 2013 at midnight (BST time).

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email. If you follow my blog by email or WordPress , if you are a Twitter follower , if you like my page on Facebook or if you tweet about the giveaway, this will grant you an extra entry. Mention it below.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

This giveaway is open Internationally.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

I am not responsible for items lost in the mail.

I hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck and feel free to leave me a comment below…

This is a blog hop! Visit the other giveaways here.

Book of the Week – 18

Hello gentle reader,

Did you know Thursday 7th March 2013 is World Book Day? This is a celebration of reading. Vouchers and free books will be given out to young readers, libraries and schools will hold events, and most importantly, the love of reading will be passed on to children and teens everywhere.

So today I’d like to share with you a couple of books that are coming out this week or the next. They are definitely books I’ll be reading on World Book Day. What will you be reading on Thursday?

Legacy of the Clockwork Key

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey (out today!)

YA Historical Fantasy

A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.


Poison by Bridget Zinn (out 12th March 2013)

YA High Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it.

Clockwork Princess

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare (out 19th March 2013)

YA Historical Fantasy – Steampunk

If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it? The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose. Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

What will you be reading for World Book Day? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Waiting On Wednesday – 23

Hello gentle reader,

this week I’m waiting on City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster (Expected publication: 5 February 2013 by Harper Teen in the US and 26 February 2013 by HarperCollins in the UK). This upcoming release by US debut author Miriam Forster is part of a trend that sees the publication of YA High Fantasy novels inspired by non-Western cultures. After Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, the Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson or Eon by Alison Goodman (and to some extent The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo), here comes another book set outside the usual Medieval Europe setting. And I’m looking forward to reading it!

City of a thousand dolls

From Goodreads:

“An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.”

Which book are you waiting for this week? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. You can see what other bloggers are waiting for here.

ROW80 Check-In 1- Writing a first novel by Marie Lu

ROW80 Logo

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for my first ROW80 check-in of this round. As a reminder, my goal for this round is simply to Write or edit every day.

I don’t know about you, but this week went by really quickly to me. I started my new position at my day job and it was quite time-consuming. In my spare time I wrote a couple of blog posts, went to see Les Miserables at the theatre and rewrote my query letter. But I didn’t find the time to work on my novels, which I intend to do this week. Finally my blog received the Lovely Blog Award and you can read all about it here.

Now if you’re new to this blog, know that each Sunday, I share an inspiring story with you to keep us motivated for the week to come. This week I’m sharing YA author Marie Lu‘s tale of her Very First Novel. She published this post on Publishing Crawl in November 2012 and I thought you might find it interesting… Enjoy!

Marie Lu-Legend

“I’m talking about my very, very, very first novel. You only have one first novel–not your first published novel, but the first one that you are able to write “The End” on. I know that for the most part (unless you are Stephenie Meyer!), first novels don’t end up going anywhere except for the back of your closet or the Archives folder on some old hard drive. And for the most part, this is a good thing. But I’ve always felt a certain rosy fondness for first novels–not just for my own, but for others’. It’s usually that first novel, however bad (or good), that teaches us that we want to become writers. It’s the one that makes us realize that we can do it. The dream is possible, at least according to our word count.

 Here’s the story behind my first. […]

That first novel was a high fantasy titled The Wings of Heaven. I’m still not sure why I called it that, since it had nothing to do with the story. It was about a young, orphaned (of course) knight’s apprentice named Pher (pronounced “Fair”) Artemsrough who aspired to become a knight and who loved the kingdom’s red-haired princess. One day, a beautiful woman came to the kingdom and told him that he was the Chosen One, and that she was on a quest to bring him to the far reaches of the world so that they could find a shiny ancient object that would tell her what his role in a prophecy was. I can’t even remember who the bad guys were in this story, but there were definitely some bad guys. I think. Along the way, the beautiful woman and Pher picked up a ragtag team of elves, thieves, and assassins that all happily joined them on this quest. There were also some children that could breathe fire, some powerful sorceresses, and a snowy cave called The Dark of Night.

It was 160,000 words. Yeah, I know.

Of course, fifteen year old Marie was completely oblivious to all of this thing’s flaws. I worked on it obsessively. Every night, I’d set my alarm clock for 2 AM, wake up, stuff a bathrobe under my door so that my parents wouldn’t see lamplight leaking from the bottom of the door, and then write quietly until the hour right before dawn. I wrote notes in my schoolwork and drew pictures of my characters on the margins of my homework. I posted chapters of it onto a personal site that I shared with my closest childhood friend. I spent a great deal of time lost in the whimsical haze of First Book Euphoria. I promised myself that I would finish it. I will never forget typing “The End” on that manuscript–I leaned back in my bedroom chair at 3:30 AM, stretched my arms up high, and smiled so hard that I thought I might break.

It was a terribly written story. I loved it with all my heart. I learned from The Wings of Heaven that I could finish a novel-length book, that I could carry characters from point A to point B (however badly), and that I could keep a promise to myself. I learned that if I wanted something badly enough, I would find the time to work on it–even if it was in the middle of the night.

Of course I went on to submit it to over a hundred literary agents, and of course they all soundly rejected it. I don’t think I even had a single request for sample chapters–that should tell you something about my query-writing skills. I remember crying over some of those rejections, laughing over others, stuffing them all in a big manila envelope (which I still have), and then pushing stubbornly onward. The thing is, looking back, my naivety was probably my greatest advantage. Had I actually known how difficult it would be to get published, I might never have finished that manuscript. I never might have been able to face getting rejected. And writing another manuscript. And getting rejected. And writing another. And getting rejected. And another. And another. If I hadn’t been so naive, I might have stopped right there. But I was so young, arrogant, optimistic, ignorant, and hopeful, and because of that, I was able to convince myself to write “just one more.” Most importantly, I was able to figure out over time that I wanted to write stories regardless of publication, that I loved it and that it was a permanent part of me.

This is why I love first novels, in all their imperfection and wonder.”

What was your very first novel like? Did you try and get it published? And how are you other ROWers doing after this first week? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Here is the Linky to cheer the other ROWers on if you wish to do so.

On world building and how to avoid the “info-dump”

Hello gentle reader,

It’s Friday, let’s talk about writing and Fantasy, shall we?

Before I started querying my novel The Last Queen, I researched agents and the reasons why they reject A LOT of High/Epic Fantasy manuscripts. Most of the time, their verdict is: too much info-dump in the first pages. It means that instead of artfully weaving the secondary world into the story, the writer buries the reader under a heap of information. Agents and readers? They don’t like it, especially if your novel is intended for young adults.


We are bored.

So today, I’d like to help you avoid painful rejections or reviews by sharing a few tips on world building and how to eliminate the dreaded “info-dump” in 3 steps…

Step 1: Recognizing the “info-dump”

Let’s say you’ve been told your novel is “plagued by info-dump”. It’s not nice to hear, but we’re here to learn and make our stories better, aren’t we? So how do you recognize the signs of “info-dumping”? You ask yourself the following questions:

–          Does your Epic Fantasy novel include long descriptive passages where absolutely nothing happens and whose sole purpose is, well, to describe stuff?

–          Do your characters have conversations about things they already know? Is the sole purpose of these conversations to give information to the reader?

–          Do you explain your world to the reader instead of showing it to him?

If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you’re guilty of info-dumping. But fear not, gentle reader! You can FIX THAT.


I don’t see how this situation can be fixed.

Step 2: Fixing the “info-dump” problem

The key here is to avoid the aforementioned issues by making your world building integral to the plot and having it emerge as the story unfolds. Your readers need to be slowly immersed into the world you created, not banged on the head with it. How do you do that?

–          You focus on the plot and the action. Instead of spending a chapter describing the Big Castle, you have your Hero escape from said castle and, as he is being chased by the Bad Guys, you include a few details that give the reader an idea of the setting, through the MC’s eyes.

–          As a result, you can’t describe everything. Because you only include the few details that your hero sees as he runs through the corridors of the castle, you can’t tell the reader about all the castle’s turrets and secret passageways. And it’s fine! Because even with only the few details you give him, your reader will be able to imagine the rest. Trust him.

But as you delete all the info-dump and replace it with a few chosen details, how do you know what to focus on?


I’m listening.

Step 3: Focusing on the details that matter

So you’re building your secondary world by showing it as the story unfolds, awesome! But what to focus on? You focus on the details that matter for the specific scene/action you’re writing. And there’s so much to choose from, it’s easy to find something that will be a nice touch of world building in your scene without appearing to be world building to the reader. Here is what you can mention in passing and that will help you build your world:

–          Natural elements: flora and fauna, rocks and animals, bugs and creatures…

–          Political elements

–          Cultural elements: religion, mythology, language

–          Historical and geographical elements

–          And if all else fails, as we say in England, mention the weather.

Hoping this helps, feel free to leave me your comments and questions below! (This blog post was sponsored by A Series of Unfortunate Events. Or not.)

And if you want to find out more about this topic, here are a few useful links:

Juliet Marillier talks about creating Fantasy Worlds…

World Building: In the Beginning… by Raewyn Hewitt

How to Dump Info without Info-dumping– Writing Lessons from Inception by Shallee McArthur

World-Building 201: How to eliminate the info-dump by Hayley E Lavik

The Best Of 2012 – Movies

Hello gentle reader,

This is my last post looking back at 2012… I already mentioned the TV shows I watched this year in this post and my favourite 2012 books here.Today I’m finishing this series of posts with movies I watched in 2012. This year I watched a total of 30 new releases (most of them at the theatre) and I have picked 10 to share with you…


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


The Dark Knight Rises


The Hunger Games

Breaking Dawn Part 2

Twilight – Breaking Dawn – Part 2


Underworld – Awakening

Snow-White-and-the-Huntsman 2

Snow White and the Huntsman



The Avengers

The Avengers

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows



What did you watch this year? Any movies you’d recommend? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

The Best Of 2012 – Books by Debut Authors

Hello gentle reader,

I hope you had a lovely Christmas!

As the end of the year draws near, I am looking back at 2012… I already mentioned a few TV shows I watched this year in this post. And today I’d like to give you a list of my favourite 2012 debut authors. I have interviewed a few of them on my blog and you can click on their names to read those interviews.


The Gathering Dark (aka Shadow and Bone) by Leigh Bardugo (YA High Fantasy)


Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard (YA Steampunk/Horror)

Throne of Glass- UK cover

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (YA High Fantasy)


Skylark by Meagan Spooner (YA Dystopia)


Hollow Pike by James Dawson (YA Paranormal)


The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse (YA Dystopia)


Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (YA Paranormal)


The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand (MG Gothic Fantasy)

Black City-Elizabeth Richards

Black City by Elizabeth Richards (YA Dystopia)

What did you read in 2012? Which debut author did you discover? Feel free to leave me a comment below!