Ten books on my Winter TBR

Following on from my last post, I thought I’d join in with Top Ten Tuesday and share ten books I’m excited to read over the coming months. It’s a mix of wintry stories and books I’ve been looking forward to reading – some physical copies and some audio books (you know how much I love an audio book!), so hopefully there’s something for everyone on this list.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I’ve been sitting on this book for a while, it calls to me from my book shelf (I mean, look at that cover!), but I wanted to wait until it was appropriately frosty outside and cosy inside before I curl up with Wintersong. It’s a new take on the legend of the Goblin King, and sounds very Labyrinth, so I’m excited to sink into this one in the New Year.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I definitely think Winter is a time for dark, twisting fantasies, and The Hazel Wood is a perfect example. It’s got a hint of Scandi Noir about it, a Hans Christian Andersen kind of vibe that I am here for. Centred around a collection of pitch-dark fairy tales set in a supernatural realm called the Hinterland, which may or may not be fact rather than fiction, The Hazel Wood sounds like the perfect read for those long, dark nights. Just add hot chocolate and a blanket.

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land sounds like a lovely Spring read (and let’s be honest, with a young baby it’ll probably be Spring by the time I get round to it!). It’s got elements of The Cruel Prince, The Sin Eater’s Daughter and, to be honest, my novel The Fair Queen – so if that doesn’t mean I’m bound to love it, what does? 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

This has been on my TBR (and in my Audible library…) for quite a while, but 2019 is the year I finally jump feet first into this series! Book three, A Reaper at the Gates was released this year and everyone was obsessed, so I’m really excited to start An Ember in the Ashes. It’s inspired by Ancient Rome, similarly to Nevernight, which if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know is an absolute favourite of mine, so I’ve got high hopes.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone Tomi Adeyemi

I’ve been dying to read Children of Blood and Bone ever since I took part in Pitch Wars 2017 and Tomi Adeyemi was a mentor. I’ve got the audio book, which I think was a good idea because I’m terrible at pronouncing the names of people and places in fantasy books, so at least I won’t have to worry about getting that wrong – it’s just the spelling I’ll get wrong now! It strikes me as a sort of Throne of Glass X Black Panther, so I’m pretty excited.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands is giving me very City of Brass vibes, which is definitely a good thing. It’s got a sort of Aladdin/Arabian Nights style cover, and is set in a desert nation where djinn and magic abound. It might be more of a summery read, so I’ll probably save this one for later in the year, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for a good while now and I’m looking forward to reading it, especially as the series is complete now so I can binge the entire trilogy.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

If you haven’t read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, then what have you been doing with your life? This is less of a sequel and more of a companion novel, as it follows Monty’s sister Felicity on her very own adventure across Europe as she tries to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. As in TGGTVAV, nothing is straightforward and shenanigans ensue. And we wouldn’t have it any other way! 

Gilded Cage by Vic James

So after that brief segue into historical fiction, we’re right back at it with the fantasy. Dystopic fantasy, if we’re being precise. Gilded Cage is set in modern-day Britain, which I think will be fascinating as most magic-oriented fantasies are set in the past or future, or a completely fictional world with little resemblance to our own. With society divided into the Skilled, a powerful, magic-wielding upper-class, and the unskilled lower class who are forced into ten years of servitude to their superiors, two families become entwined as political tensions build to 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic V. E. Schwab

This is my current read, I’m only 50 pages in and already hooked. I’ve been following Victoria Schwab on various social media for a while, but shockingly have never read one of her books, despite knowing they’d be exactly my cup of tea. I decided to rectify that this year and ordered A Darker Shade of Magic, as it seemed like a good place to start. The final book in the trilogy was published last year, and we all know how much I love to binge a complete series! I’m now obsessed and will be ordering the rest of Schwab’s published works immediately. (Did you see her post announcing that her debut, The Near Witch, was finally being published in the UK? Exciting!)

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This is my current audio book, and it’s an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, with a paranormal twist. Admittedly, it took a few chapters to get into, but now I’m well and truly gripped. The protagonist is completely unique and the concept is so fresh and original – every day Aiden Bishop wakes up in a different body, and every night Evelyn Hardcastle dies, unless Aiden can uncover the killer by the end of the 8th day. It’s really well executed, Turton has thought about absolutely everything, dropping clues expertly throughout the story, and I’m desperate to get to the end and find out who killed Evelyn, and more importantly, who’s behind the plague doctor mask…

And that’s just a few of the books on my TBR that I’m hoping to get through over the next few months. Have you read any of these? Let me know which one I should read next!

Lyndsey

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Finding your tribe – Author toolbox blog hop

It’s time for another Author Toolbox Blog Hop! Huge thanks to Raimey Gallant for hosting this fantastic link up between writers at every step of the publishing journey, and those who just do it for fun!

Being a writer can be a lonely existence at times, especially if it’s your full-time job, so this month I thought I’d give you some tips on finding your tribe – those like-minded individuals who share your love of writing and will celebrate and commiserate with you, whatever the writing milestone.

Whilst many writers are introverts, needing time alone to recharge their batteries, there are also many extroverted writers out there who need social interaction to refill their cups, so I’ve included some suggestions that will appeal to both types.

Not sure whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert? Take the Myers-Briggs test and find out!

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Blogging and blog hops

First things first, blog hops like this one are excellent for getting to know other writers and bloggers! Not only do they help you build a list of brilliant blogs to follow, they encourage you to interact with as many of your fellow bloggers as possible, building a real sense of community. You’ll make internet friends that might even become IRL friends! And you’ll learn a lot in the process, so you can’t really lose.

Suitable for both introverts and extroverts, as there’s a lot of interaction involved but it’s all from the safety of behind your computer screen, plus you can pick and choose when and who you interact with.

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Social media

The main places you’ll find a big writing community are Twitter and Instagram, and there are about a million hashtags that you can start by searching, e.g. #amwriting and #writerlife. You can also find most of your fellow bloggers’ social accounts listed on their blogs, so you’ve got a ready made list of people to follow and connect with right there.

There are loads of Twitter chats you could join in on, some generic and some specific to genre or demographic, e.g. #storysocial, #storycrafter, #RWchat for romance writers or #FemalesInFantasy for women SFF writers.

Again, there’s no pressure for introverts on social media – getting overwhelmed? Log off for a few hours. Don’t enjoy a particular chat? You don’t have to join in next week. Share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with, and don’t forget the gifs!

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Writer groups

This one’s for the extroverted writers out there. If you’re happy to read your work out loud in front of a room of relative strangers and receive criticism to your face, then writer groups could be for you. You can search online for your nearest group, or head down to your local library where many writer groups meet, or post flyers on the notice board. Most groups invite published authors to speak about their work, their writing process and publishing journey, so you’ll learn something as well as getting valuable feedback from your fellow writers.

In my experience (from that one time I attended a group… #introvertsunite), there’s often a weekly (or monthly, depending on the group) theme on which you’re expected to write a piece, so it’s not all about your passion project, but that in itself can be a great way to broaden your range and practice using different styles. Plus, you’ll be meeting writers who live near you, so if you become firm friends with someone you could even ditch the group and start your own little writers meetup at your favourite coffee shop!

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NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is a fantastic way to connect with other writers, and there’s a good mix of activities to suit both introverts and extroverts. You can register on the website and track your writing progress, adding your writing buddies from social media and the real world. You can join your regional group and chat with local writers in the forum, sharing tips and advice. You can even attend write-ins and meet your regional group in person, if being surrounded by other writers tapping away at their keyboards gets your creative juices flowing.

If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo (have you been living under a rock?) it’s a month long challenge that takes place every November, where writers aim to clock up 50,000 words in 30 days. There’s also Camp Nano every April and July, when you get to choose your own target, whether it’s a word count, page count, or hours spent writing. You can join a “cabin” with other fellow writers, making it an even more interactive experience. And now you can use the Nano website to track your writing goals all year round!

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Pitch competitions

If you’ve been around here for a while, you might know I entered Pitch Wars back in 2017 with my manuscript The Fair Queen. I didn’t get in, but that almost didn’t even matter, because I discovered a community of writers at a similar point on their publishing journeys who share their experiences and advice, boost each other up when they get knocked down, and celebrate each other’s wins on a daily basis. There’s such a sense of kinship and friendly support when you take part in pitch competitions – despite the fact you’re all competing, there’s no bad blood whatsoever. Everyone cheers everyone else on, there’s room for all of our books out there in the world, after all!

There are lots of pitch competitions on Twitter throughout the year, Pitch Wars even has their own pitch party on Twitter for those who didn’t get into the main mentoring competition, called #PitMad. iWriterly has compiled them into a handy calendar so you can plan your entire year around pitch competitions!

Getting into the competition is honestly just a bonus – OK, OK it’s a bit more than a bonus – but the greatest thing about these competitions is, you guessed it, the community! Take the opportunity to find some beta readers and critique partners, and build a support network of like-minded writer types who’ll be there for you on every step of your journey to publication.

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I hope these tips help you to find your tribe like I have, I really recommend taking advantage of some of these brilliant opportunities to meet other writers and start building your own writer community.

Do you have any other suggestions for great places to make writer friends?

 

Lyndsey

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Ten books I’d combine to make an even better one!

Hi folks, I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl this week for Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s topic is ‘books you’d mash together (pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined)’.

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1. The Raven Boys X One of Us is Lying

The Raven Boys One of Us is Lying Karen McManus

Can’t you just see it? Blue, Gansey and the gang involved in a totally non-supernatural murder and a bunch of normal high school drama? I see Gansey as Bronwyn, Blue as Addy (at the end rather than the beginning), Ronan as Nate, Adam as Cooper and Noah as Simon (of course!). In fact, now I think about it the similarities between these two groups of characters are huge! It would be even more fun to combine the two groups and see how the dynamics changed.

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2. Six of Crows X Throne of Glass

Six of Crows Throne of Glass

I reckon Kaz could give Celaena/Aelin a run for her money in the mad scheme area. Somehow their plans always seem to come together in the end, even if things go horribly wrong somewhere in the middle. They also both have a band of misfits and outcasts for friends, with a variety of talents and abilities, who are loyal to the death. I think they’d start out as enemies and wind up friends (with a bit of healthy rivalry thrown in).

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3. Red Rising X Cinder

Red Rising by Pierce Brown Cinder by Marissa Meyer Lyndsey's Book Blog

Something about these two just fits together for me, like they could be going on concurrently in the same universe – Cinder is what’s remaining of Earth, and Red Rising is just one of many new colonies across the galaxy. The sci-fi elements feel like pieces of a jigsaw that would fit neatly together, and I think Cinder and Darrow are a match made in heaven.

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4. Stalking Jack the Ripper X The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Stalking Jack the Ripper Kerri Maniscalco The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Wouldn’t Audrey Rose and Felicity just be the best of friends? They could go on adventures together, share tips on medical procedures, and generally show the boys how it’s done. I love single-minded and bold female characters, and these two are even better as they’re so ahead of their time and incongruous to the historical setting, yet so believably written. Thomas and Monty would probably be firm friends too, they share the same cheeky sense of humour.

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5. The Bone Season X Clockwork Angel: The Infernal Devices

The Bone Season Clockwork Angel

Both of these novels give me a strong steampunk vibe, despite the fact they’re set around 200 years apart. I can imagine Will, Jem and Tessa living in the same world as Paige and Warden, just a couple of centuries earlier, can’t you?

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6. Strange the Dreamer X The Sin Eater’s Daughter

Strange the Dreamer 2 The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Strange the Dreamer and The Sin Eater’s Daughter are both full of gorgeous imagery, strange new mythologies and selfless, heroic characters – and they’re two of my absolute favourite books/series in the world! The gods and magical goings-on in Taylor’s novel would absolute fit with the world of fairytales-come-to-life created by Salisbury. In fact, I might need these two to collaborate on something now…

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7. Flawed X Delirium

Flawed Delirium

In Oliver’s beautifully written trilogy, love is forbidden and everyone undergoes a lobotomy (delightfully named ‘the Cure’) at age 18 to prevent them from developing feelings. In Ahern’s YA debut, Flawed, moral and ethical mistakes have been outlawed and those who commit errors of judgement are labelled ‘Flawed’ and branded with an F on the related part of their body, whether that’s their head, chest, hand or even tongue. I can totally see these two regimes coinciding, and as dystopians go they’re two of the most credible I’ve read. Scary.

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8. The Hunger Games X The Maze Runner

The Hunger Games Maze Runner

The similarities between Panem and WICKED are massive – both think it’s totally cool to send a group of kids into a man-made arena with engineered monsters, and a strong possibility they’ll all die. The main difference is that one is doing it because of a (man-made) virus that broke out and almost wiped out humankind, and the other because war broke out and almost wiped out humankind…(how is killing more people the answer?? Who knows.) I definitely think The Maze Runner could learn a thing or two from The Hunger Games, particularly in the fashion stakes.

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9. Fallen X Hush, Hush

Fallen Hush, hush

Ah, two of my favourite teenage reads. Actually I was probably in my early twenties, but same thing. Aside from the similarly beautiful covers, both stories centre around a girl who falls in love with a fallen angel, who are both your typical brooding YA males, with a divine twist. I loved the strong family and best friend bonds Nora has in Hush, Hush, but I am a sucker for a boarding school setting, so a combination of these two books would be the ultimate angel story for me.

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10. Nevernight X Prince of Thorns

Nevernight Prince of Thorns

I can’t think of two more stabby and sassy characters than Mia Corvere and Jorg Ancrath. Both went through a terrible, bloody and traumatising experience as young children, forcing them to become the badass assassins they are today. Mia’s story is set in a fantasy world resembling ancient Rome, complete with gladiators, whereas Jorg’s setting is suggested to be the future of our planet, centuries after some event, the likes of that which killed off the dinosaurs, has destroyed everything we currently know and returned civilisation to the Dark Ages. They’re both incredibly detailed and well-drawn settings, providing the perfect stage for our murderous little friends to perform on. I wonder what Mr Kindly would make of Jorg?

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There you have it, ten pairs of books that would combine to make an epic tome of the absolute best kind! Which two books would you create a mash up of if you could?

 

Lyndsey

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