Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m a huge true crime fan, and a podcast addict. As soon as I heard about Sadie, the story of a teenage girl on a journey of revenge, told via a serialised podcast in addition to her own POV, I knew I had to read it.

Not only that, but I chose to listen to the audio book for the full podcast experience, and if you take one thing from this review it’s that the audio book is the absolute best way to experience Sadie (in my humble opinion).

Review

Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sadie-Courtney-Summers-ebook/dp/B079DVQG97/

Rating: 5/5

Sadie is a relatively quick read, especially when you’re used to 800 page epic fantasies that convert into 30 hour audio books. At just under 8 hours, it’s definitely one of the quicker listens in my Audible library, but that might also be because it was so damn gripping and fast-paced, I found myself listening at all hours because I just needed to know what happened next.

The audio book is presented by not just one or two voice actors, but a full cast, so it genuinely felt like a podcast with every character/interviewee having their own voice. If I’m honest, I almost wish there had been more chapters from Sadie herself as I loved the voice Summers gave her titular character. And that’s without discussing the ending, which we’ll come to later. (No spoilers, but if you’ve heard anything about this book I’m sure it’s that the ending is a shocker).

We need to talk about trigger warnings, because Sadie touched on some of the darkest and most horrific things humans do to each other. If you’re at all triggered by child abuse, including sexual abuse, grooming, rape and molestation, then I wouldn’t recommend reading unless you’re prepared.

I would say that, as someone who has fortunately not experienced any of the above, it isn’t gratuitous and is handled with the seriousness that it deserves. But I wouldn’t want to tell you what someone who has been through those things would feel on reading this book, so I’ll just let you make the decision whether to read it for yourself.

The ending tore my heart out as I checked and rechecked that I hadn’t missed something and it was really, truly over. It wasn’t a happy or uplifting ending, it wasn’t even particularly hopeful, but it was real. And in the end, Sadie did what she set out, just perhaps not quite like she

Sadie is a book about revenge, about hunting monsters with human faces, and finding pure evil in some of the darkest and some of the brightest places. But beneath all of that, Sadie is a book about a girl who loved her sister with her whole, entire heart and only ever wanted to protect her. She didn’t always succeed, and sometimes she failed spectacularly, but she didn’t stop trying. Ever. Not until the very end.

If you like true crime, podcasts, really strong voice, quirky formats and stories about sibling relationships and unexpected endings, then you’ll love Sadie.

Lyndsey
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Interview: New adult fantasy author K. L. Kolarich

This week, I had the absolute privilege of chatting with K. L. Kolarich, author of the gorgeous, epic New Adult fantasy series The Haidren Legacy.

Come along and find out what she had to say on writing, favourite tropes, and what to expect from book two in her new series…

Hi K.L., thank you so much for joining me on the blog today! Can you tell us a little about yourself to begin with?

In short, I’m just an itty bitty nymph who lives in a quiet, small town about an hour south of Nashville. Originally from Metro Detroit, you can imagine my nerdy haven, nestled in a loudly cicada-filled woods, is a far cry from those Motor-City origins. I reside in the humidity and ever-present trill with my four Bengal cats and mysteriously patient husband, who endures said cats along with myself. When I’m not scrawling away on the next installment in the THL series, we are usually lounging on our porch, sipping heavy handed pours, or traipsing around our little downtown square, doing the same.    

Well, that sounds absolutely dreamy! I’m from the UK and have dogs, so imagine the exact opposite of your fabulous, sunshine-filled life and you’re probably not far off! When did you start writing and what inspires you?

I never actually intended to become an author—it just happened. Which sounds overtly vague and nonchalant, but it’s true. I’d gone from working on a sort of research project to, through the prodding of trusted confidante, drafting a fantastical realm of my own, as the subject matter more accurately mirrored my bookshelf.
 
In my own writing, I find inspiration from the magic of music and language. Most especially, how different cultures tell their own stories and histories. This is, in part, why the worldbuilding in The Haidren Legacy is so vast. To some, even a bit daunting. I wanted the reader to truly feel as if they were in a foreign land, in which they needed to enlist a handy-dandy codex to navigate, like one traveling to a foreign country today. It could be said that the reader has to “work for it”, but then again, so would an American, for instance, to fully experience France. The goal was for that multi-layered richness to permeate off the page and their mobile devices. In a sense, I wanted my inspiration, the force propelling my heart, to setup residency in their own.  

I love a book with really rich world building, so that sounds perfect to me. I studied European languages at university, so I wonder if that experience is what draws me to fantasy novels with new and different cultures. I especially admire writers who can create entire languages! It’s not something I feel confident I could do. What are some of your favourite genres and tropes?

I’m going to answer this question by sharing that the most coveted possession in my entire home is my father’s decades-worn collection of Louis L’Amour books. These old westerns I grew up reading are filled with action, snark, and of course, unrelenting heroes who always win. In truth, I’m a sucker for hard-earned triumph. My softer side likes seeing the “guy get the girl”, so to say. But that isn’t always the case, is it? It’s ironic how what we love to read isn’t always what we need to write. Thus, it will be interesting indeed, to see the fruits of those old loves spring up, when permitted, throughout the remainder of the THL saga.  

That’s so true, I think sometimes we’re writing the stories we didn’t have when we were younger, trying to fill the gap between what we loved reading and what we felt was missing. On that note, tell us about your first published book.

My debut publication, The House of Bastiion (The Haidren Legacy, book 1) released just recently in January, 2021. Described as an intricate epic fantasy, full of political intrigue, complicated characters and sharp objects, HOB is best suited for fans of Sanderson, Hobb, and Rhodes (ie. Anyone who fancies a thick spine and a fat glossary).  

Additionally, I am already halfway through drafting HOB’s sequel, which I’m extremely excited about. While Book 1 undoubtedly laid a thorough groundwork for the worldbuild, its characters, and subsequently, a plethora of questions about everything in between, Book 2 compounds upon those questions, gives them further weight, and compels the reader to dig for clues; all of which, likely to result in many more delightfully head-scratching theories.  

I can’t wait to read it, political intrigue, complicated characters and sharp objects are three of my favourite things! Where do you find inspiration for your characters and settings? 

THL boasts a diverse cast. This was primarily inspired by my upbringing, alongside a wide variety of cultures, which is partly why I miss my northern state so much, aside from its snow. I wanted the Orynthian map to highlight the prism of beauty; how loveliness refracts in so many variegated ways.

Likewise, the tension among some of my invented peoples was inspired by the prejudice sometimes thrown against groups dissimilar to others…. An unfortunate human experience repeated throughout history. Adding that honest, often uncomfortable component to each character’s POV and personal experience was a crucial facet in honoring their differences, as well as showcasing why those differences should be treasured in the first place. 

I love that, it’s so important for literature to hold a mirror up to the realities of our world. And where better to reflect the darkest side of humanity than in a fantasy novel? Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser?  

Plotter, plotter, and you guessed it, plotter.  
 
I’ve framed my entire series, but the in-depth plotting takes place per book, by chapter, by scene. It’s a bit meticulous, but to be honest, I think the whole book would become a giant rabbit trail if I didn’t. We all have our strengths and our areas for improvement. My strengths are just usually rooted in tedious marathons of systematic scheming. So, to that end, I stay in my obsessively organized happy place. 

 I plan my books by the scene too, but where I fall down is the series planning. I need to take a leaf out of your book with my next series and make an outline from the start! Plotting books whilst pantsing the series arc is a little chaotic! Tell us, what are you working on right now? 

As mentioned above, Book 2 is currently underway. This installment pulls the Quadren (a group of ambassadorial advisors assigned to each seated regent) out of the crown city, Bastiion, as they begin to travel the Orynthian map. This is an endearing development because it brings certain Houses to the forefront of our story. In Book 2, we will discover more about our male MC, Zaethan, who represents the House of Darakai, and in doing so, must investigate his origins to better understand who he is and who he is becoming.

That sounds fascinating, I love when book one in a series introduces a new world by focusing on one small section of it, but then book two takes you farther afield to see what else is out there. I’m excited to see where your characters end up at the end of the book!  What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

I give the same advice to anyone who asks, usually because I still need to hear it myself: Write your favorite book, because no one else can.  
 
When at my best, I’m treating myself like THL’s biggest fan. No one will ever know my characters as well as I do, love them as dearly as I do, so how dare I belittle their value in unnecessary comparison or subject them to unproductive critique? Ratings and reviews will always vary because readers do. We should continue to grow and expand, no matter our success. But from day one, from the initial page, you are your first reader. Feed that soul what it craves, and the rest will follow.  

I think I needed to hear that today, thank you K.L. I completely agree, write for yourself first and foremost. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, it’s been a pure delight. Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books?  

The best way to keep up to date on Luscia, Zaethan, and all future THL installments, giveaways, events, etc. is to subscribe to the #TeamHaidren Newsletter. While I am active on social media, I tend to give extra love to the team in the form of bonus content and exclusive raffles through our NL.  
 
Additionally, Team Haidren causes a good amount of ruckus in our reader group (hosted on FB). Being a rowdy menagerie of misfits, we welcome everyone to join!   

K.L.’s website:   https://www.thehaidrenlegacy.com/  

Signup to the Team Haidren newsletter:  https://www.thehaidrenlegacy.com/contact  

Follow the THL series on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehaidrenlegacy/  

Follow the author on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/k.l.kolarich/  

Join the Team Haidren Facebook group:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/teamhaidren  

Like the THL Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thehaidrenlegacy  


That’s it, I’m off to read House of Bastiion, hold my calls.

It was so lovely getting to know K.L. better, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I can vouch for how much fun the Team Haidren Facebook group is, I’ve been a member for a while and it’s a great place to find new fantasy book recs, so go check it out if you’re looking for a new fantasy-loving gang to join (motorbikes and leather jackets not required, but you do you boo).

Lyndsey

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