Monday, 10 November 2014

The Mime Order
By Samantha Shannon

Goodreads description of The Mime Order:
Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dreamwalker is on.

Welcome Back to Scion
Welcome Back to Scion, indeed. 

There is no question over whether or not you should pick up The Mime Order. It is a MUST. In the 2nd novel in the series, Shannon’s story well and truly settles itself in your memory, gripping you, demanding a place on your ‘favourite’s’shelf.

The Bone Season ended with Paige, the protagonist, escaping Sheol 1. Book 2 picks up immediately following its events so its beginning straight away hauls you in until your white-knuckled gripping the page. It is a lot easier to slip into the second book than it is the 1st. The 1st gave a lot of information to take in but with The Mime Order you can slip right in and feel comfortable without being info-dumped upon.

After the end of The Bone Season, I was a little concerned about how Shannon would keep the storyline running for her predicted 7 books. The 1st is so jam packed and fast paced, I didn’t know how her ideas would stretch out for all those books. Now I have read The Mime Order, I am not at all worried, 7 books seems a lot more realistic now. I’m confident in Shannon’s amazing writing.
Also, 7 BOOKS! Looks like we won’t be saying goodbye to Paige for a while yet, yay!

In The Bone Season we got to experience the inside of Sheol 1 with only flashbacks and a little hint of the Cohort Districts, teasing you almost. The Mime Order introduces a whole new range of places in the Cohorts. Shannon’s world is so vivid and rich, everything is seen so easily in my mind, and so once you start the book it’s very hard to pull yourself back into reality! London in 2059 is so unique, combined with the idea of clairvoyants separated Shannon’s book from anything I have ever read which makes it so special for me.

We get to get to know the other members of The Seven Seals a lot more, which is great as there are some wonderfully imagined characters in the group. Jaxon Hall is an especially brilliant character. He seems to walk the fine line of love and love to hate for me.  Paige is very much cemented as one of my favourite strong heroines now. I have so much respect and love for her after this book. It’s wonderful to read about such an intelligent heroine, you never feel exasperated towards her for being na├»ve for example.

The cover and chapter headers, of course, like the 1st has a meaning within the book, which is always fun to look out for.

If you like The Bone Season and maybe have trouble envisioning the characters, or if you just want to see some cool fanart, check out and The Bone Season wiki. There are amazing drawings to gawk over.

And boys and girls, I would prepare yourself for the ending of this book.

5/5 stars.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me and ARC to review. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

By Garth Nix
Goodreads describes Sabriel as:
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

If recently you have witnessed the release of Clariel, Garth Nix’s latest addition to his Old Kingdom series and wanted to read it, but found yourself wanting/wondering whether to read his other novels first, I highly, highly recommend you do.

Sabriel was published before I was even born, in 1995. This might be the same for you, dear fellow YA reader. But the absolutely wonderful thing about Nix’s books and just about every fantasy novel is that the story, the themes, its morals, just never become irrelevant or out of style, which can be a common thing with contemporary novels. As times change along with people’s interests and way of speech, contemporary novels can begin to feel old, fast. But as you can see from examples like The Lord of the Rings, fantasy remains. Sabriel is just as good a read as any other YA fantasy books released today.

Many young YA authors today have grown up with Sabriel as their very own heroine. In Lirael (the 2nd book in the series) it features a sword names Nehima, sounding very familiar to Sarah J Maas’s character Nehemia in her Throne of Glass series, showing her teenage love and respect for the books.

Nix’s writing is a mix of things, he paints such great images of his world and has some hard hitting lines, but he also manages to capture the teenage spirit and add humour despite its dangerous storyline.

Sabriel is the perfect heroine, she is a fabulous role model, she’s strong, intelligent, determined…I can’t sing praises about her enough.

The world of the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre are so well linked and described. Everything is explained and has a reason, for example phones, which if left unexplained could’ve become an easy plot-hole for readers to pick at. Having both places in the book allows the best of both worlds for the reader, and makes them want to live there, you still have a modern world with handy appliances like phones and yet still have a wonderful land of magic and adventure right next door!

The use of talking animals can often seem silly in books. But Mogget the cat is an unforgettable character, with a cheeky personality and layers to his character. You constantly have to question your liking for the cat, but Nix still makes you love him. Mogget goes beyond the usual talking animal in literature. Nix manages to weave him so well that it’s so natural for a cat to be talking as still keeps that animalistic sense of being a cat in everything he does, as often talking animals can act too human.

The little hint of a love story in Sabriel is wonderful, it doesn’t take away any of the spotlight on the story being about Sabriel, as can often happen if the author gets too invested in the building of a romance. It was great to have the girl save the boy (strong women-yay!).

Finally, the storyline is so wonderfully unique! I’ve never experienced any others like it. I’ll always remember Sabriel.

I would give Sabriel 4 out of 5 stars!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

                                                             The Young Elites
By Marie Lu

“Be true to yourself. But that's something everyone says and no one mean.”

Goodreads description of The Young Elites:
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. 

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. 

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

Marie Lu is back! With a brand new series which is just about as different as you can get from her Legend trilogy. Instead of dystopian, The Young Elites is a fantasy novel. If you also feel in love with Lu’s writing style in the Legend Trilogy, you’ll feel a sense of ease slipping back into her easy style with The Young Elites.

The Young Elites has the feel of a fantasy The Darkest Minds (By Alexandra Bracken). A disease leaves children/teenagers with special abilities. These children are segregated and they hope and act for a better country/governing body.

The Young Elites is a little hard to slip in to, much more than the Legend Trilogy. Because it is a fantasy novel, the world needs to be built and you need to familiarise yourself with its oddities. The atmosphere is a little hard to imagine as there isn’t a large scale description, the map at the front catches attention, so I want more of an introduction into this wonderful world.

The different points of view were a little off-putting at times as you were introduced to many characters at once. I think because of the amount of characters and world building with it being the first book made it hard to form bonds with any other character but the main one, Adelina. The main character Adelina is simultaneously a good character and a bad one, she’s been through such a hard time and you feel for her.Lu always writes such layered characters, but, she isn’t very relatable and her emotional state and inside magical workings were hard to get your head around.

The romance in the story was nicely fitted and enjoyable; it didn’t overshadow the storyline at all but was relevant and added some happiness to the story.

The epilogue of the story, in my opinion, was the best part of the story. Before the epilogue, the end had left me wondering as to what could possibly happen next, but not desperate to know, but the epilogue really caught my attention. That made me excited for the next one!

I would give The Young Elites 3.5 stars. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Infinite Sea
By Rick Yancey
“When you look death in the eye and death blinks first, nothing seems impossible”

Goodreads description of The Infinite Sea:
How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

If you liked The 5th Wave, be prepared to fall deeper into Yancey’s story in The Infinite Sea.

Yancey’s writing is still just as exquisite and unique. He controls the power to make you stare at the book dumbfounded for a few minutes from merely a word or make you question everything the book has previously told you. He has such a haunting narrative.

All your favourite characters are back in The Infinite Sea, if a bit battered. Ringer becomes a bigger part of the story, which pleased me immensely as she struck me as such a strong intelligent female character in the first book. I hope you like her too.

The storyline is just as explosive as the first book; it’s full of intrigue, action and suspense. It has you constantly on edge and questioning everything, eager for more.

I love how Yancey deals with secondary characters; each one has their own, just as horrific as the main characters, back-story, sometimes you just don’t know about it yet. It makes you think that these characters could just as easily be the main characters, who aren’t more special than them; they’ve all been through the same things. You begin to respect them more than you would secondary characters from other series’ and hold them just as high as your favourite main characters. You remember them.

Just when you think you find a seemingly plot-hole looking thing in the story, Yancey has an answer or at least a hint to an answer yet to come. Why did the aliens attack now? If all it takes is a big rock to destroy the human population, why are they toying with us? He is relentless in covering and answering every point.

I would highly recommend rereading the first book before diving into The Infinite Sea, or read a recap as it’s sometimes hard to remember the who’s who of secondary characters and what happened. The Infinite Sea is significantly shorter than its predecessor, by around 150 pages, a downside if you prefer long books.

Being the 2nd book, which in a series, can sometimes take a nose dive, The Infinite Sea manages to hold itself up high with the 1st. It might not equal the 1st’s many shocking revelations at every turn, being more of a filler and builder book, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as exciting.

I would award The Infinite Sea 4.5 stars.
And now the long wait for the next book commences…

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Happy Book Birthday, Winterspell by Claire Legrand!!

WinterspellThe clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The NutcrackerWinterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

I am very very excited to read this book!

The hype for this book is BIG. 
There's some mixed reviews of this book, but that just makes it more intriguing, will I enjoy it? 
I really hope I do like it, it sounds different. I don't know about you, but I didnt really hear the Nutcracker fairy-tale much as a child, so in my head it hasn't be over-told/used, so i'm excited to read the links between Winterspell and the Nutcracker.

Please, tell me if you've read and enjoyed (or not so enjoyed) Winterspell or whether or not you intend on sinking your teeth into it!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Shadow Study by Maria V.Snyder
"New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.

Once, only her own life hung in the balance...

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job—and his life—are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous..."
I have missed Yelena and Valek so much...AND NOW THEYRE BACK!!! *Extreme happy dance*
If you haven't already read Maria's books, I highly recommend you do so! They're full of fantasy, magic and romance. She writes such a wonderful blend in her addicting books.
If you want to catch up with Maria's study series before Shadow Study arrives on shelves, it all starts with Poison Study!

Monday, 8 September 2014

An Interview With Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas

In an interview with Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas, they discuss such things as each others books, the importance of flawed characters and whether or not they bend spines...

I interviewed Sarah and Leigh at Seven Stories in Newcastle and just wanted to take a moment to explain how amazing and inspiring these two women are. Both authors took time to chat with each person who came over to them and offered and posed for pictures. They didn’t just sign the books with their signatures and pass them on, but wrote messages and quotes inside, a different thing in each, no matter how many books they had to sign (their poor hands!) and I had A LOT of books! Hardbacks and paperbacks of each author, each different cover, even the ARCs and a poster or two, but they didn’t put a limit on how much they’d sign and said they’d sign any and as much as wanted.

I adored Sarah’s idea of having her own book that the fans could sign! It really made you feel that she really did care about what you thought about her books and valued your interest.

Both were so SO lovely to talk to, and very funny! The girl behind me in the queue (someone id only met once before- when I recommended her the books, what a coincidence!) was nervous as she hadn’t any idea what to do or say but came out smiling and talking about how nice they were. My dad came along, wanting to see what all my fuss over these books was about and is now storming through Shadow and Bone, I think he must’ve enjoyed himself! Adults love YA too!

I don’t think either ever didn’t have a smile on their face, if you get the chance to meet either of these guys, I suggest you GRAB it with both hands!


After introductions, me, Leigh and Sarah sat down to discuss their New York Times bestselling books and their writing.

It always so hard for authors to pick their favourite characters from their own books, so, who is your favourite character in each others books?

Leigh: Nehemia is my favourite character from Sarah’s series.

Sarah: I’m gonna say Mal, he’s so hot. *laughs* He’s so hot! Oh my god, my body temperature actually just got hotter, my pits just got really sweaty.

Leigh: *laughs* she’s so classy!

Sarah: I’m from America! That’s how we do things there!

Would you rather be a Sun Summoner, a Darkling, a Privteer, Tracker, Heartrender, Healer, Squaller, Inferni, Tidemaker, Durast or Alkemi?

Sarah: I wanna be a Sun Summoner!!

Leigh: I can see that. I guess, if I could be as good a privateer as Sturmhond, I would be a privateer, but otherwise, I’d be a heartrender. Then I could be like, I don’t like you, I’m gonna put you to sleep…*reaches out hand*

Sarah: That was slightly terrifying with your rings and your nails.  I can totally see that too.

So, on the other hand, would you rather be human, fae, witch, human with magic or a human assassin?

Sarah: Witch. I want the iron teeth and the nails, and I want to be able to…well I don’t want to rip out someone’s throat with my teeth! But the ability would be good.

Leigh: I’m gonna pick fae… they’re really attractive.

How important and influential is music in your writing?

Sarah: Music literally inspired this entire series for me. Music still inspires every scene, ever character, every moment. Especially movie scores, classical music. I have to have music on (when writing) or else the silence swallows me whole.

So, do you have different playlists for different moods, different characters etc?

Sarah: Yeah, I keep really extensive, detailed playlists for all of my books. I have all of my music ordered in order of the scenes in the books, so if anything gets cut or moved ill take the song out or move it in the playlist, so it helps me when revising to be able to slip into a scene or a mood because I can play the song and get into my characters heads.

Leigh: I never used to listen to music when I was writing, and that really changed when I got into book 2. When I wrote book 1 I would never write to music, for whatever reason. Now I really use it to get into the right frame of mind. The cool thing is that I’ve had people make fan-mixes and playlists on Tumblr so ill go in and if I don’t know them ill take them. Recently, I was driving up the coast to go to a writing retreat, and I was listening to them all, and this one song came on that I’d never heard of and I was like oh my gosh! And I listened to that song when I was writing the Darklings prequel story. I just listened to it on repeat the entire time. So, I’ve actually discovered a lot of music through readers, which is cool.


So when and how did Winter’s Prayer come around, Leigh? ( Leigh’s song she wrote for her book series)

Leigh: Oh, gosh! Honestly, it was when I was writing Shadow and Bone, I was driving around in the car and I had this folk melody that my parents used to play stuck in my head. I was stuck in traffic so I just started coming up with words for it. I put my cell phone on voice memo and recorded myself singing to first two verses. (the verses) stayed exactly the same all the way through and I just added a third verse. I am lucky enough to have guys from my band, guys who used to be in the band who all did a lot of favours. The whole song was recorded in my friends living room, it sounds like there’s a choir in the background but it’s actually my friends wife and her friend. They were singing words from the book. I’m lucky to know such talented, nice people!

You have both started new series’, and we’ve heard many times your inspiration for your first series’ ( Sarah- Cinderella with an assassin and Leigh- walking down a dark corridor at night imaging there’s something there) so what inspires these books? Was it another fairy tale or experience?

Sarah: A Court of Thorns and Roses, big surprise, was inspired by music. By actually listening to the Princess Mononoke soundtrack. ( A Studio Ghibli film- check it out!) It’s one of my favourite movies ever. A bloody warrior riding a wolf just speaks to my soul. And then I became inspired by Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun, West of the Moon and the legend of Tamlin. I love fairy tale retellings and mash-ups. It actually wound up going away from those things; it started off as a retelling of the more original fairy tales, but then moved away. Kinda, like Throne of Glass has done.

Leigh: I really love rag-tag, band of misfits stories, like Oceans Eleven, The Dirty Dozen and Inglourious Basterds. I wanted to write, basically, a heist story, so that’s where the inspiration for The Dregs story came from. And its exactly that. Its this group of outcasts and misfits from the lowest of the low, this gang, from a slum called The Barrel. They’re tasked with an impossible heist that is essentially a suicide mission. If you’ve read Ruin and Rising you can tell I like friends who are facing impossible odds, so that’s basically what I was going for with this. I also wanted to write a cast of semi-despicable characters, which was fun to do.

Sarah: Like The Goonies?

Leigh: Yeah, but they’re more thuggish than The Goonies. I don’t think the goonies would pluck someone’s eyes out. If you took the Fratelli’s, made them a lot more attractive but kept that zaniness of The Goonies, then it’d be more like The Dregs.

How important is it for your characters to be flawed?

Sarah: It makes it fun and exciting and unpredictable. The readers have more to relate to. None of us are perfect.

Leigh: I dunno about you, but, I am pretty perfect.

Sarah: You are pretty flawless.

Leigh: It’s true. You know it’s funny because I’ve seen criticism levelled at Sarah’s work and at my work that could be mirror images of each other. They’ll say “Celaena’s so vain and cocky!” And then they’re like “Alina’s so insecure! She’s so whiny!” Every time you see someone saying a characters too this or too that, those are the things that make a character. And these are things that guys get away with all the time. I think out heroines would be pretty boring if they were perfect all the time.

How important is it for your ‘bad’ characters (E.g Manon and The Darkling) to still have good qualities?

Sarah: What was that quote that says something like a good villain see’s themselves as the hero of the story? In order to write a good villain, you need to think of them as a person with motivations and backgrounds. (to Leigh) I mean like the Darkling, you have hoards of fans that are obsessed with him. I liked the Darkling, I thought he was hot, but he is a really atrocious person, he’s a monster! But you made him sexy and approachable; he obviously had something about him that readers connected with.

Leigh: Yeah, I think you should always be able to make your villains case, otherwise, why would people follow them? The people who enter out lives that are the most dangerous don’t usually come in twirling a moustache *rubs hands menacingly* saying “I’m an evil genius.” They’re people who are charismatic, charming and appealing, who speak to some part of us that makes us want to follow them, that makes us attracted to them. It was important to me that my heroes not be all good and my villains not be all bad. Sarah actually writes her villains PoV chapters, so she’s really in their heads!

Sarah: Yeah, that’s the witch narrative (Manon), she’s on the bad side, she’s a villain. I like adding her voice to the story, it was something that I connected with and wanted to add to broaden the world and offer a different glimpse of the two sides of what’s happening.

Leigh: We both have pretty despicable kings in our stories so sometimes evil is used as shorthand for really, really, bad. Sometimes people want to be let off the hook, and say “Well is this person good or bad?” “Am I supposed to like Celaena?” It’s not one or the other; you’re just supposed to be in the story and make your own choices.

What it your opinion on the attitude that adults shouldn’t read YA?

Sarah: People have too many opinions! I’m happy if people are reading anything, I don’t care what the hell they’re reading! I am happy if someone is picking up a book and investing in it.

Leigh: Agreed. These articles pop-up every couple of months and I think it’s a really good thing to watch out for because you don’t see those articles crop up about the things that men and boys buy in bulk which may be not the most edifying, they’re book that are going to cure cancer, but they don’t receive the same amount of criticism as young adults or romance and the reason is because people get really wigged out when ladies are really into things. Anytime someone tells you to be ashamed, I think its good idea to find out why they’re pointing the finger.

How important do you think the links between authors and other authors and authors and fans are today, with the ease of contacting via twitter, tumblr etc.?

Sarah: It’s the coolest, I got into writing at a young age because I realised my favourite thing about writing was getting to share it with readers. So getting to talk to fans, see which characters they love, getting invested, it makes a lot of the hard work worth it. Its surreal still, sometimes it feels like none of it happened and that the fact that people care about the characters and love them, blows my mind.

Leigh: I think it’s always a surprise when someone says “I loved your book.” And I don’t know why. It’s always a lovely feeling. That passion can be a wonderful thing and it can be a scary thing. If people aren’t happy with a choice you made, they’re gonna let you know! So I think you’re always walking a line between public and private when you’re working as an author. And I love seeing all the art, the edits and the mixes. It’s sort of a culture that didn’t exist before.

Sarah: I was just thinking, if I’d had that when I was a kid, that would’ve been the coolest thing to tweet at my favourite authors.

Leigh: I always wonder if I would or if I’d just lurk in the background. I still get a kick out of when Anne Rice tweets. Ill be like “Oh, look!”, I mean its her assistant, but still. I was very antisocial. I don’t know if the internet would’ve made me any more social. I would’ve had this very angry blog somewhere.

Was it always fantasy?

Sarah: Fantasy, sci-fi, I grew up with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings.

Leigh: For me it was always Dune and Labyrinth and Legend. Those were the touchstones for me.

Okay, quick fire round! Hardbacks or paperbacks?

Leigh: Hardbacks

Sarah: Paperbacks

Do you bend the spine?

Sarah: Break it!

Leigh: My books looked trashed, but I love that, it means they’re well loved.

Sarah: That’s why I love paperbacks, you can just *makes spine bending motion*

Leigh: I am very mighty!

Do you dog ear too?

Sarah: Yes!

Leigh: Yes!

Which Hogwarts house would you be in?

Sarah: Slytherin

Leigh: Slythindor, haha, I cant decide! Slytherin!

Good or Evil?

Leigh: *dramatically* What is good, what is evil?

Sarah: Gray, in-between.

Cats or dogs?

Sarah: Dogs

Leigh: Dogs

Current TV obsession?

Leigh: Orange is the New Black

Sarah: Um, oh! Outlander.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Leigh: *grudgingly* yeah…

Sarah: Unfortunately.

Would you rather be a Jedi, a Hobbit, a Wizard or a Disney Princess?

Sarah: Jedi!

Leigh: Wizard.

What fictional world would you like to live in?

Leigh: Either the world or JK Rowling or the world of Diana Wynne Jones. Like from Howls Moving Castle.

Sarah: Yeah, I was thinking of like a (Hayao) Miyazaki film, like Howls Moving Castle, where everything is beautiful and shiny and you always find a way to save the day.

Finally, do you guys have any advice for YA readers, whether they’re aspiring writers or just aspiring to do something with their lives?

Sarah: Don’t let anyone shame you for what you read or what you love in general. Many people are gonna tell you not to xyz things. Do you what you love, and screw the rest.

Leigh: I guess I would just say, there’s no expiration date on your talent, so…

Sarah: Aww! *crying noises*

Leigh: Yes, cry! I think there’s sometimes the idea that if you don’t do something by this date or by this time, that every decision you make is gonna be the end of the road, and its not like that, life’s not like that. As long as you have a story to tell, the world will wanna hear it.

Thank you so much Sarah and Leigh for allowing me to interview you and thank you to Emily Drabble from the Guardian Teens and Nina Douglas from Indigo for helping organise the interview!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Walled City

By Ryan Graudin


The Walled City on Goodreads is described as:

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your kni
fe. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.


I was given The Walled City as a surprise ARC from the Guardian, so I had no idea what this book was about. I’m so thankful for being given it to read, as I’m convinced if given a choice, I don’t think I would’ve picked up this book as it’s not my usual type of book, and I would’ve been deprived of the experience of reading The Walled City!


The Walled City was not at all what I expected. It feels dystopian, with its superb descriptions of this dilapidated, starless, overcrowded city. You feel like a place such as this couldn’t EVER exist now, surely not, but then you read the authors note. The Walled City is based upon Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. This isn’t set many years in the future, outside the walled city; there is society just like todays. This just adds more awe and depth to the book as you realise this story could be true, many, many children and teenagers could’ve been in the characters positions. I think it’s wonderful that Graudin has called to attention the subject of The Walled City; I didn’t know anything about one, id never heard of a Walled City before this book. I’m grateful for the knowledge this book has bestowed on me.


The storyline jumps straight into the action. There’s no escape, once you start you’re pulled into the lives of these characters. It’s just so easy to read, you’re not struggling or pushing yourself through parts. You’re right there beside Jin running through the streets.

The characters are brilliantly written, they’re consistent, layered and unique. Each is damaged in their own way and you immediately start routing for their happiness. The character of Dai believes himself a horrible person, wracked with guilt, but instead of agreeing with him and disliking him, you become convinced he is a good person you want him to prove himself because he’s capable of it.

Each of the characters is linked to one another in a sort of triangle without initially realising it, so it’s great to read the gradual build up to the reveal while you know the truth.


I like that the books end is happy, as the characters deserve the happiness they receive, but at the same time, it feels a little unrealistic. Having a near-death scene for one of the characters seemed like a method of trying to get away with not killing any of the characters rather than a crucial plot point. I think maybe that the near-death character should’ve died, which might’ve made the ending less happy but feel more real.


The subject of the book makes it a hard hitting novel, it’s not an easy fun read. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be revisiting The Walled City for a reread! I love that the book is a stand-alone too, so many YA books are part of a series, so it’s nice to read something different that has the same richness of characters and storyline, but contained in one book. I would recommend The Walled City to anyone and everyone.


A beautiful tale of love and loss in the everyday fight to survive The Walled City. I would give The Walled City 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to the Guardian Teen Website for allowing me an ARC of The Walled City.