Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Book Review|| Polly Wants to Be a Writer

Blurb: I suck. I'll never make it. I get writer's block every ten seconds, every day, all the time. I should give up. I can't even finish any of my own stories. I truly suck. I'm sorry for wasting your time. Maybe I'll be a nurse like my mom or sell farm equipment like my dad. Whatever! I'm going to go home and tell Scrum I wish he was dead and get on with my life. In the wake of her parents' separation, Polly, a fifteen-year-old wannabe writer, comes face to face with her inner dragon, a truculent, impatient creature named Scrum who is a talented but frightful critic of her writing. With the help of Ms. Patience Whitford, a literary dragon trainer and leader of a global writing guild, Polly faces the almost impossible task of going beyond her good ideas to finish a publishable piece of fiction. All the while, Polly and Scrum become entangled in a dangerous scheme that threatens the future of every writer on the planet

Amna's rating: 5/5
The fate of every writer is at stake. And it's taking all of 15 year old Polly’s determination to forget that and concentrate on her short story. *Blink*. Another literary dragon wiped of the map. Getting really hard to concentrate on her story now.
"You suck, you’ll never make it," the distracting snide voice breaks in again. She knew she should have muzzled her dragon before getting started on her first draft.
Oh the trials of a writer.
Brilliantly creative with memorable characters, Thomas’s hybrid novel is a one of a kind. Who would have imagined a cross between a writing guide and an exciting urban fantasy narrative. Well, Laura did and she made it work brilliantly.
The storyline is, simply put, awesome. Dragons- check. Despicable Villains- yes. Unique Characters- you've got them. A perfect story ready...But it doesn't end there.
Oh, the writing advice. I have never read any thing like that before and trust me I have read a lot of books and articles on writing. With long arguments either claiming that writing cannot be taught or with detailed step by step procedures you are better of skipping, writing guides are just about the most useless things you can get your hands upon. That is before Polly
Written by a writer experienced in pretty much every writing related field, the advice within is priceless. This is a journey which catches up to you and takes you along in an unstoppable flow. This is a book which gets you writing. This is a powerful book.
The plot is captivating, to say the least. Urban fantasy with dragons and calculating villains keep you hooked on to the book till the very end. Fast paced, funny and serious at appropriate moments, this is perhaps the only writing guide which is actually readable. You learn loads without being overwhelmed. The idea of training your literary dragon is obviously so much more cooler than 'countering writers block'. And Laura knows it.
The best part of this book are the characters which was specially epic for me as I always judge a book through the characters. Reading about Polly is as if the book revolves around you, for any aspiring writer. You see her face similar inner turmoil but this time you have Ms Whitford a qualified dragon trainer at your side to help out. Every character is perfect for its role and there are no extra, unnecessary characters. Motives are clear and everyone is determined to get their way creating mass conflict.
With no unnecessary dialogues or details, the book never lags.It is a seamless read as you don’t have to work through it. As Thomas says she writes in a way that the words don’t exist.
As an aspiring writer this book really jolted me back to my writing and to appreciate the fact that I AM a wannabe. This may seem *cute* to read but upon reading Polly Wants to Be a Writer you'll get what I mean. This is a book I have nothing but praise for.
TSD's Interview with Laura Thomas
Laura's Website

Check Out:

Polly on Goodreads
Polly on Amazon

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Upcomming Book Reviews by TSD

Joseph Delaneys's Spook's: A New Darkness

Really excited about reading and reviewing this one, Joseph Delaney being one of my favourite authors. Review to come soon!

A chilling new trilogy from the author of the internationally bestselling The Last Apprentice series! Tom Ward is an apprentice no longer—now he is a fully fledged spook battling boggarts, witches, and other creatures of the dark. This three-book arc will introduce brand-new readers to Joseph Delaney’s haunting world, and delight longtime fans.

Tom Ward is the spook, the one person who can defend the county from ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, witches, and other bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he’s only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom’s skill, not till he’s proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and she wants to be Tom’s first apprentice—even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they’ll team up with a witch assassin to confront it.

A New Darkness begins a three-book series that will introduce new readers to Joseph Delaney’s deliciously scary imagination and delight his longtime fans. A New Darkness is perfect for every reader who loves thrills, chills, action, and adventure-no prior knowledge of the Last Apprentice series necessary!

Read TSD's Interview with Joseph Delaney
Check out A New Darkness on Goodreads

Hunting by Andrea K. Host

If you enjoy books with strong female protagonists, Andrea Host is the author for you! Review, by Elvenarya, to come soon.

Ash Lenthard doesn’t call herself a vigilante. She’s merely prone to random acts of derring-do, and occasional exhibitions of tomfoolery. Her friends, the Huntsmen, have never stepped over the line while patrolling the streets of Luinhall.

That was before the murder of Ash’s beloved guardian, Genevieve.

Now, Ash Lenthard is out for blood and even when the hunt sends her to the palace, on a collision course with a past identity she would do anything to forget, Ash cannot, will not, back down.

Read TSD's Interview with Andrea
Check out Hunting on Goodreads 

Crown Duel- Sherwood Smith

Crown Duel was a highly entertaining and refreshing read. I am longing to pen down my feelings about this one. Shewood Smith has done an amazing job!

A deathbed promise to their father sends a daring girl and her brother off to war. Filled with intrigue, romance, and magic, this spellbinding novel is a dramatic coming-of-age story about a girl who rises from impoverished beginnings to take command of her own fate.

Interview with Sherwood Smith Upcomming

Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Review|| Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

'A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, Can we do this anonymously? Because I don't need the Olympians mad at me again. But if it helps you to know your Greek gods, and survive an encounter with them if they ever show up in your face, then I guess writing all this down will be my good deed for the week.' So begins Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, in which the son of Poseidon adds his own magic--and sarcastic asides--to the classics. He explains how the world was created, then gives readers his personal take on a who's who of ancients, from Apollo to Zeus. Percy does not hold back. 'If you like horror shows, blood baths, lying, stealing, backstabbing, and cannibalism, then read on, because it definitely was a Golden Age for all that.' Dramatic full-color illustrations throughout by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco make this volume--a must for home, library, and classroom shelves--as stunning as it is entertaining.

Amna's Rating: 3/5

This book promised much. Knowing that it would feature the long-awaited Percy first person narration, it probably got fangirls all over the world excited.
Except for the fact it wasn't a Percy book.
I mean sure Percy was 'supposed' to narrate it but it didn't really have the feel we have come to expect of a Percy Jackson book (atleast before Heroes of Olympus). It's witty, sarcastic, entertaining but it would be better suited if it had been narrated by Rick Riordan( Chief Scribe at Camp Half-Blood as he likes to call himself). Percy... I don't know, he seemed kind of forced. If it had been Percy he couldn't go through what happened to Tantalus and the lot without adding some sarcastic comment based on his own experience with them.

Don't get me wrong, I am a major fan of PJ (thankfully not a mind-numbed fangirl) and that's why it annoys me to find him telling a story which fits in with the rest of the series like a glove potato sack
There were a lot of contradictions with the original series. I know, I know greek myths have lots of versions but if you are making it a Percy book atleast stick to the ones used in the books, especially the ones which had an impact on the plot. Hestia giving up her throne in favour of Dionysus was important the The Last Olympian, it taught Percy about yielding when necessary and if that didn't happen, he wouldn't let Luke be the hero of the prophecy and Kronos would have probably come to power, defying the whole purpose of the series. Not giving Hestia a throne in the first place in this companion book was not a cool idea. Other contradictions include Dionysus's past and Zeus's captivity.

Otherwise, it was an okay-good book. It weaves through the Olympian's backgrounds effortlessly making you absorb a lot of cool info. The stories are interconnected seamlessly and for a book without any plot or characters, it keeps you reading nicely. PS. that wasn't an insult, it isn't supposed to have a plot as it is mostly follows up on important events related to the major olympians but it is much cooler than a factfile. 
It's a decent read if you want to know about Greek mythology and I would have rated it more if it hadn't been labelled as a PJ book because that really spoiled it.

It's written in the typical easy- flowing Rick Riordan style which is easy on the eyes and leads you in a chatty way through various important events in a oh-theyre-not-so-important way.

The illustrations were pretty cool but had little to do with the reading experience.

Cut to the chase: pretty interesting book on the olympians and their history but not a PJ book, though if you are a Rick Riordan fan then there aren't a lot of reasons not to read it as it is somewhat entertaining. Just don't think of it as 'omigosh! its the last Percy narrated book the author's gonna ever write and just before Blood of Olympus eek!'' (or whatever fangirls do)

I Liked:
  • The easy flowing style characteristic of Rick Riordan
  • Interconnection between stories

I Didn't Like: 

  • A forced Percy POV
  • Contradictions
Check it out on Goodreads

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Author Interview|| Andrea K Höst

Andrea K. Host is the author of the Silence of Medair series along with several other books. Even if you don't read self-published books this one is definitely a must- read.

Born in Sweden and raised in Australia, she currently lives in Sydney. She writes fantasy, but wanders occasionally into science fantasy. Her novel "The Silence of Medair" was a finalist for the 2010 Aurealis Award for best fantasy novel. 

Andrea was kind enough to spare some time to give us an interview about publishing and publicizing books. Writers, read up, there are some really helpful tips in here!

TSD: After having bad experience with a publisher (details), you decided to self-publish ‘The Silence of Medair’. The decision was proven to be a good one as the book went on to be a finalist for the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel 2010. When you made the decision to self-publish, did you know that your book would make it?

Not at all. It was a huge and delightful surprise for me to make the finals of the Aurealis. At the same time 'making it' as a writer covers a lot of different goals. I think my first fan letter, my first positive review – not to mention my first royalty cheque – were also little 'making it' milestones for me.

TSD: How was your self-publishing experience? Did the pros outweigh the cons? Would you recommend it?

Andrea: I really enjoy self-publishing. It's had very few negatives for me, and for the most part has involved gradually building a readership and being buoyed up by support.The decision to self-publish is an individual one – different people want different things out of their writing – but for anyone who likes a hands-on approach, who can take the long-term view on gaining a readership, or who just wants to get their work out there, there's not a lot of reasons to not self-publish.

TSD: You take out time to reply to emails. How does that affect your relationship with your readers?

Andrea: I guess that depends on how well I answer the emails! Getting mail from my readers is a special experience for me – hearing how my stories have touched people, or just being asked for more. I always feel a little daunted trying to draft a response, but I hope that I don't come across as too much of a prat in my replies!

 TSD: What do you find to be the most successful technique of publicizing your books?

Andrea: Free first book in a series. There is nothing that compares.

TSD: What aspect of your writing are you most proud of?

Andrea: Gosh – that's a difficult question! I like messing with expectations. Not plot twists so much as building my worlds just a little bit left of centre. I particularly like to write egalitarian worlds, giving my female characters challenges that don't revolve around what women are and aren't allowed to do in a restrictive culture. While stories about coping with restrictive cultures, and stories about "a girl can do that too", are both important, these particular narratives almost completely dominate stories revolving around women. I like to read – and write – stories exploring different challenges for my female characters.

 TSD: Do you think all your hard work and determination paid off? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Andrea: I think that I'm really lucky that the internet and e-readers came along and gave me all these opportunities. The past few years of self-publishing have definitely given me plenty of emotional highs – and a nice income supplement as well.

I'd love to be writing full time in ten years, but even if that's not the case, I hope to see myself with, well, ten more books out! A book a year is about my speed. No matter what the future holds with the constantly changing face of publishing, I know I'll want to keep on writing.

 Thank you Andrea for taking out the time=) We'll keep reading as long as you keep writing!

Additional links:
Andrea's Website
Check out The Silence of Medair
Check out Hunting

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Author Interview|| Gina Damico

About Gina Damico
I grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where I was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, a murder mystery improv comedy troupe that may or may not have sparked my interest in wildly improbably bloodshed. I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker, and breadmonger. I live in Boston with my husband, two cats, and a closet full of black hoodies

TSD:  Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Can you start by telling us about your books and who you wrote them for?

Gina: I am the author of the Croak trilogy - CROAK, SCORCH, and ROGUE - which are about a teenage girl who finds out that her uncle is a grim reaper, and that it's her turn to learn the family business. I don't know that I wrote them "for" a specific audience, but rather wrote them in the style and voice that I think is fun to write - lots of snark, plenty of excitement, and even some heartbreak along the way. I guess I just knew that there would be an audience out there for some funny, dark, deathy adventures.

TSD: Nowadays, YA is a very popular genre. Did you grow up reading YA? What are your opinions about the conditions of the genre at present?

Gina: I read all kinds of things growing up - some books primarily targeted towards teens, but also plenty of classics and TONS of Kurt Vonnegut. And I think YA is in a wonderful state at the moment. There's something for everyone, and there are so many talented authors out there. It's really a very exciting time to be writing.

TSD: Which character do you connect most to? Do you base your characters on real people?
Gina: I suppose I connect most to Lex - she's sarcastic and spunky, and I like to think of her as a younger, much braver version of myself. Unlike Lex, however, I don't go around punching people. As for inspiration for my characters, I sort of pick and choose from all sorts of places. I take a little bits from people that I know, then mix them in with other fictional characters, celebrities, you name it. They all come together in a delicious character stew. Mmmm. Stew.

TSD: How does you’re the idea of the afterlife you have created communicate to your younger readers?
Gina: One thing that I've really enjoyed is hearing from my readers about how my books have affected their view of the Afterlife--or that it got them even thinking about it at all. I didn't set out to prompt this sort of discussion--and I don't even know if I believe in it myself -- but It's such a wide open unknown that it's fun to hear about what other people envision.

TSD: Advice for aspiring writers

Gina: Let other people read your work. It's the hardest thing in the world to do, putting your words out there for others to judge, but in the end, hearing other people's feedback is an absolutely necessary part of writing. Just bite the bullet, throw some pages at them, and run! (Just make sure you come back to listen to what they have to say.)

Thank you so much Gina, you have really inspired us a lot.
You can buy Gina's book Croak( Croak Trilogy#1) from:

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Author Interview || Joseph Delaney

About this author
Joseph Delaney is a full time writer living in Lancashire, in the heart of Boggart territory. He first got the idea for the Wardstone Chronicles series when he moved to the village where he lives now and discovered there was a local boggart - ‘a man like me needs boggarts around’. He made a note in his notebook ‘a story about a man who hunts boggarts’ and years later when he had to come up with an idea at short notice developed this into ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’, the first book in the series. The Spook's Apprentice, The Spook's Curse and The Spook's Secret have all been shortlisted for the Lancashire children's Book for the Year Award. The Spook's Apprentice is the winner of both the Sefton Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award.

The Speculative Daily: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and your books?

Joseph Delaney: The ‘Wardstone Chronicles ’is the story of an apprentice, Tom Ward, being trained by a spook to fight the dark. They deal with ghosts, ghasts, boggarts and lots of witches who drink blood and crunch bones.

I was a teacher of film and media studies before becoming a full-time writer. But I began my working life as an apprentice in a factory. I carried a tool bag for an older engineer but we didn’t fight the dark. We just repaired machinery.

TSD: Which books inspired you to start writing?

Joseph: Every time I read a great book I think ‘I wish I’d written that’. There were so many – far too many to list. But I enjoyed ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Dune’ both of which probably influenced my writing. They certainly inspired me!

TSD: Nowadays, YA is a very popular genre. Did you grow up reading YA? What are your opinions about the conditions of the genre at present?
Joseph: When I was growing up there was no such category as ‘YA’. I got my books from the local library which had a children’s section although I really wanted to borrow from the adult library! I used to read two books a week from about the age of six. The ‘YA’ genre is thriving and some of its books can be read by much older people. Recently when I signed a book for a teenager she said: “It’s not for me. It’s for my mum!”

TSD: The movie for ‘Spook’s Apprentice’ is scheduled for release early next year. How involved are you in the filming process? Is it going to stay true to the book and what are your expectations?

Joseph: I have not been involved in the filming process that much. They asked me a few questions and I visited the set in Vancouver and watched Jeff Bridges in action. It has gone through a process of three directors and even more screen writers. It took eight years from my signing of the contract to the post production of the film. It is different from the ‘Spook’s Apprentice’ but it will be a good action film and Jeff Bridges will be a good convincing Spook.

TSD: With a book a year, you must have a very busy writing schedule. Do you still find time to read? Which books have you recently enjoyed?

Joseph: My schedule is busy but I still read a lot from a range of genres. Recently I have read:

The Wool Trilogy Hugh Howie

The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers

Success Martin Amis

The Green Man Kingsley Amis

Goldfinger Ian Fleming

Butcher’s Crossing John Williams

The Luck Uglies Paul Durham

(This last one was a proof copy. It is published in July 2014)

TSD:  In the “Curse of the Bane” the body of the Quisitor who burns ‘witches’ floats showing that he is the evil one. As a former educator, do you leave subtle lessons in your books for the benefit of young readers? If so, how do you manage to balance the part meant for pure entertainment and the one which is meant to teach your readers something?

Joseph: I don’t deliberately leave any lessons at all in my books but they probably do reflect the way I think. I am just trying to tell an interesting story and scare my readers.

TSD:  You completed an apprenticeship just like your protagonist Tom Ward. Do you see other similarities between him and you?

Joseph: There are a few. For example my mother believed in duty. I hated being an apprentice but she made me go to work on cold rainy mornings. That’s what Tom’s mam does too. He has to work with the Spook and fight the dark whether he wants to or not!

You can buy Joseph Delaney's book "The Revenge of the Witch (also published as The Spook's Apprentice)" from
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