“In Pieces” is How You Left Me // HIAYLM Review

hiaylm-book

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means…

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How to Write Your First Draft

So as you may have already seen, I finished writing the first draft of my Work in Progress (WIP) / novel last week, which was super exciting! But quite a few people have asked me questions to do with how a first draft works, how long it took me to write mine, and just if I had any tips or advice for people who were about to start working on a novel for the first time. Before I begin, let me say that I am in no way qualified to be giving writing advice and if anything, you should probably go and ask a reputable author. I’ve only written a first draft one other time — three years ago — and that book is never seeing the light of day. Before you ask, no, you’re never seeing it. Not even a snippet. I have buried it somewhere no one will ever find it.

Well, if you’re still with me, that must mean you’re reading to hear some dubious writing advice for how to ruin — I mean ace — your first draft! First, let me give you some background about how writing this first draft went for me.Read More »

Magical-Realism in YA

I didn’t realise I’d been missing a whole genre in my life until I finally decided to pick up my first magical-realism novel, Bone Gap, and was swept away by the beauty of the world Laura Ruby had created and the way magical elements were seamlessly worked into the narrative to create a truly mesmerising read. It was only after reading this gorgeous book that I realised I’d read hardly any books with magical-realism in them. As a lover of contemporaries and someone who does like fantasy – but is rather picky about what fantasy novels I’ll read because high fantasy confuses the heck out of me – I found that magical-realism was the perfect solution. You’ll definitely be seeing me reading more magical-realism in future!

(For those of you that aren’t completely sure what magical-realism is, it’s basically the term used to refer to fiction where magic or the supernatural is presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting.)

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Kill Your Darlings (not the dog)

It’s long been said amongst writers that we must “kill our darlings”. For those that are unaware, this seemingly psychopathic phrase isn’t about killing your babies or your favourite characters (although it is fun to make readers cry); it’s about cutting out elements from your novel that serve no purpose to the work as a whole, even if it’s something we adore. This was one piece of writing advice I got from my writing teacher and inspiration in middle school. The other was this:

“Whatever you do, don’t kill the dog. Killing people in fiction is mostly fine, but touch the animals and readers will hate you.”

And I mean, who hasn’t read a book or watched a movie that involves the death of a dog and cried your eyes out? If you haven’t, you’re clearly not human. Some of us still tear-up at the mention of Marley & Me — “some” including me. But when people die, especially when they go as quickly as on Game of Thrones, I find that I have to be really connected to them in order to shed a tear. But an animal? I don’t even have to know its name to cry my eyes out.

Exhibit A of this post is a new book called The Edge of Everything (if you haven’t heard of it, there’s more information down below). What’s worse than a dog dying in a book? A dog being killed in a book. And what’s even worse than that? Animal abuse. I can’t even think about it without feeling absolutely sick to my stomach. But that was what I found myself reading when I picked up The Edge of Everything. The blatant abuse of animals.

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Bisexuality in YA Fiction

Although I’ve read what feels like an abundance of YA novels featuring gay male protagonists, I’ve only read maybe three books featuring bisexual female protagonists. And I’ve read all three of them in the past three months. I’m pleased that books are finally being released with bisexual main characters, but it feels like it’s been a long time coming. Thankfully there’s been a push for diversity by avid readers and passionate writers, and I believe that’s influencing the bookish community in the best possible ways. It’s opened my eyes to see how much of what I was reading was featuring cishet protagonists, and it’s time to change that.

As someone who identifies as bisexual – which you can hear more about in this post – there’s nothing I want more than to see myself in more of what I read. But it’s not just about what I want. People who are still trying to figure out who they are need YA fiction to show them that being any and every sexuality is valid, and just because our world is heteronormative and can be cruel and invalidate who you are, it doesn’t mean you’re any less important or any less loved. How you choose to define yourself, whether that be with a label or with who you choose to love, matters. You matter.Read More »

Romanticising Self-Harm

Please be advised that this post discusses self-harm and mentions abuse.

Writing this piece is going to be somewhat difficult at the moment because I’m very angry, for reasons which you may have already guessed from the title of this piece, so I can’t guarantee that everything I write will be coherent or even marginally articulate, but writing has always been a form of therapy for me, so I think this is something that I need to do. For my benefit, as well as yours.

Yesterday, I saw an image on social media that was very confronting and, to be frank, vile. I’m not going to name the person whose photo it was, the platform it was shown on or post the photo here a) because I don’t believe in shaming someone without tagging them in the content and b) I don’t want anyone else to be triggered by this photo. But that photo got me thinking about some very important things that we should be discussing more, which is the way self-harm is often romanticised in what we read and watch, and how that’s not okay.

To give you a vague idea, the image was of a novel and a painted blue arm with golden slits dripping golden “blood”, mirroring the book cover. Disgusted, I moved to the comments section and saw that only one person had stated how hurtful the image was. The blogger responded, defending their work by saying it was just “art”.

Self-harm is not “art”.

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All This Could End – book review

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What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do? 

Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks—even she and her twelve-year-old brother Tom are in on the act now. Sophia, Nina’s mother, keeps chasing the thrill: ‘Anyway, their money’s insured!’ she says. 

After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. His mother has just left home with a man who looks like a body-builder vampire, and his father and sister have stopped talking. 

Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again. Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy, once again explores the hearts and minds of teenagers in a novel full of drama, laughter and characters with strange and wonderful ways.
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Gilded Cage – book review

gilded-cage

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

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Why are 3-star reviews so hard to write?

It’s been a well-known fact for years now that a lot of book reviewers and bloggers often have a hard time describing their feelings towards a book they simply feel meh about. For me, this is a phenomenon that is endlessly frustrating, and makes writing these reviews something I don’t look forward to.

For me, the reviews I love writing most are those when I either adored the book and have so much to discuss and gush about, and those where I absolutely hated the book and want to tear it to shreds. But when it falls neither here nor there and it doesn’t prompt any strong feelings about it, I’m left uncertain with how to begin.

But I’m going to have to try.

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Freek-ishly Brilliant // FREEKS review

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Mara has become used to the extraordinary. Roaming from place to place with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Carnival, she longs for an ordinary life where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future.

She gets her chance when the struggling sideshow sets up camp in the small town of Caudry and she meets a gorgeous local guy named Gabe. But before long, Mara realizes there’s a dark presence lurking in the town that’s threatening the lives of her friends. She has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she had in order to save everyone she cares about—and change the future forever.

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