Worlds Collide Tour: Meeting Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo!

img_6195In October, it was announced that Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows Duology, with Rainbow Rowell, author of Fangirl and Carry On, would be coming on a UK tour, Worlds Collide! There were only going to be four stops to this tour, and luckily we were close enough to one of the venues to attend (although because of super bad traffic, the journey took five hours?!)

Bee is a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo, and we’d met her almost exactly a year before when she was first promoting Six of Crows. We thought it would be really poetic to see her again a year later, when the series was finished and we were so much more confident than we had been in 2015. It also gave Bee a chance to have the rest of the trilogy signed that she missed out on last year. And, it’s no secret that we were the biggest fans of Fangirl, being twins studying Creative Writing and all…there was a lot of hype, and that kept us going when the traffic was at a stand still.

Tphoto-1he event took place in the Manchester Central Library, and was our first event not held at a Waterstone’s, so we were a little concerned we wouldn’t know where to go, but the long queue was clue enough for where we needed to be. Because we didn’t need to pick up copies of either author’s books, we managed to head straight to the seats and find a pair in the front row.

The format of the event was different to anything we’d seen before. Rather than having an interviewer prompting them with questions, Rainbow and Leigh led their own discussion, first telling us about how they first met. It turns out that when Rainbow was writing Carry On, Leigh was writing Six of Crows, and both books were going to have a character called Baz. Of course, in Leigh’s final product, the leader of the crows is Kaz, but it was still fun to hear about this little conflict at the beginning of their relationship.

They went on to discuss the stereotype ideas they had about each other’s writing, but how they really did fall in love with what they ended up reading, so the moral is always don’t judge a book by its genre, or the author’s slightly kooky name.

Unlike any other event, they then took it in turns to help each other act out scenes from their books. Rainbow performed the scene in Carry On where Simon is trying to make Baz admit he’s a vampire, Bella Swan style, and Leigh chose the scene in Crooked Kingdom where Nina is teases Matthias about what ‘barbarian’ means. It was beyond interesting to hear the scenes in the author’s voices, as that’s not something you get to experience often, and definitely helped to illuminate the vibe both authors wanted those scenes to have. The words really came alive, and it made me appreciate scenes I normally wouldn’t pay too much attention too as moments of development between characters.

So after just over an hour of chatter and a Q&A, the signing portion started. We were in the fourth group to be called forward, and you can probably guess the lines were Disney World long. We got chatting to some super lovely ladies, Nabilah and Charlie, about the event and the books and just about anything and that made time fly. So much time had flown in fact that that the library turned off all the lights and we were all cloaked in darkness for fifteen minutes before they were turned back on, saving us from the terror of flash photography.

photo-2Getting to tell Rainbow how much Fangirl meant to us, and how accurate we thought she’d represented twins was amazing and a highlight of the event. Seeing Leigh again was cute too, she was just as quirky and hilarious as before. And although we didn’t get more than a few minutes with each author, we got to say everything we wanted, and the interaction was definitely worth it!

cardsLeigh was also giving away badges and playing cards with the Crows on them: we managed to get my favourite, Inej and Bee’s favourite, Nina by trading Kaz with Nabilah (thank you!!) and overall, we couldn’t stop smiling when we walked away.

So, although we had one heck of a journey to get there, the atmosphere of Worlds Collide fans and aspiring writers was great, as always and the value of signed books will always be worth travelling for! It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one we were so glad to take!

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Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

25063781Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Genre: 
Romance
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 336
Format: ARC e-book
Rating:
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There’s nothing we love more than summer. The weather’s been super nice recently, tricking us into thinking we’re closer to June than we are! So, to fuel those summery vibes, we started reading Summer Days and Summer Nights, because if there’s one thing better than summer…it’s romance! Each story is individually rated, so check it out!

Who'sWho

We tried to match the couples to the authors, so here’s the key!

Continue reading “Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins”

(Spoiler) Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

22535408Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: Indigo Books
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Series: Shadow and Bone (#1), Siege and Storm (#2)
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Author | Amazon

P L O T
In the final book of the Grisha Trilogy, Alina and Mal must hunt for the final amplifier in hopes of destroying the Darkling and his power once of for all. Full of action, tragedy and the occasion sweet kiss, Ruin and Rising is one of the best series finales I’ve ever read.

The characters have reached their climatic peril. It’s all go for the gang. How many other ‘this is it!’ quotes can I put in a plot summary? Basically, we’re in for a wild ride. (Woohoo, cliche counter cracked!)  Continue reading “(Spoiler) Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo”

Leigh Bardugo’s Writing Advice

When we met Leigh Bardugo at her Magic and Mayhem Book Tour for ‘Six Of Crows’, she answered a lot of questions about writing, the inspiration and the motivation behind it. Leigh gave some absolutely amazing pieces of advice. So, today, we thought we’d share what the best selling author of ‘Shadow and Bone‘ had to say about writing:

1. “There’s No Expiration Date On Your Talent”
This was the best thing she said. This is the best thing anyone has said.
Leigh talked a lot about how, when it comes to writing, it’s easy to put deadlines on yourself, and what you should be able to achieve at a certain age. There’s always the comment of ‘She’s doing so well for her age.” But, we should just scribble out the last half of that sentence. You’re always bright, you’re always talented, and there’s no limit to the amount of things you can achieve. Leigh said she didn’t start writing ‘Shadow and Bone’ until she was 35, and look where she is now. You don’t need to have a three-book publishing deal at 18. You can write whenever, without deadlines. 

2. “You Have To Love Them If You’re Going To Write Them”
Pretty easy, but if you don’t absolutely love the characters you’ve created and the world they’re living in, you’re not going to take the time to write them. It normally takes quite a while to write a book, (50K in a month is beautiful, but redrafting can take years!) So, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your characters. Make sure you won’t want to strangle them by the end of your manuscript.

3. “There’s No One Way To Write”
You do you, that’s perfectly fine. Apparently, one of the most popular questions authors get is to do with their writing process, but there’s something different for everybody. Leigh talked about how Laini Taylor loves to have every, tiny detail planned out before she writes, whereas she herself likes to have a looser idea of what’s going on.

4. “Go With The Muse”
When you’re feeling inspired: write. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a bargaining magic scene, if you feel the desire to write a kiss or a battle or a calm conversation over ice-cream, do it because inspiration doesn’t hit you everyday.

5. “Don’t Crush The Inner Critic”
When that little voice inside your head tells you something isn’t quite right, or that your writing is terrible (which I assure you, it isn’t!) listen to the voice. Agree with it. Qualify that this is only a first draft, and nothing is going to be perfect first time round! You can do anything, but you don’t need an enemy inside your head before you’ve even started.

6. “Nobody Writes A Good First Draft”
Normally, when you get stuck in the middle of writing, it’s easy to turn to all the beautiful books on your shelf and compare what’s on your Word document to what glued between those covers. That’s not fair. At all. What we see on the pages of our favourite novels is probably nowhere near what was written in the first draft. Everyone struggles, and everyone has setbacks. Comparing yourself to published works is only going to make you lose the fight before you’ve even picked up a sword.

7. “Write Terrible”
Sometimes, the only way to get a draft finished is to just write, no looking back. Leigh stressed that no one else has to see your first draft, that it’s 100% for you, so don’t be ashamed of what you think is sloppy or rushed or badly written. All that matters if you’re telling yourself the story first, before you try and tell it to other people. But, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see the first draft of ‘Shadow and Bone’?

8. “Finish Your Draft”
Every time I’ve heard this piece of advice, I’ve thought ‘that’s obvious!’, but somehow, I’m yet to do it. It’s not enough to say you want to write, you actually have to do it. Who knew?

And there you have it, tiny pearls of wisdom from Leigh Bardugo! Keep writing everyone, and good luck with your drafts!

Book Signing: Meeting Leigh Bardugo!

photo 2-1 photo 3
This was the best event ever!

There, summary complete!

Seriously, though, this was the BEST. We only managed to get tickets for the event two days ago, and weren’t even aware that the signing was happening until this week, so it’s been quite a whirlwind adventure of tracking down ‘Six of Crows’ and meeting one of Bee’s favourite, favourite authors.The event was scheduled from three until five o’clock. We had to pay £3 each for the event, but had no idea what was in store (literally, ahah!) We’d met Sarah J Maas earlier in the year, and for that we were allowed one book signed and one dedicated, with no photo ops and only a badge to remember the event by. THIS signing was unlike anything we’d been to before.

photo 1After running around the entire building to try and find just where they’d decided to hide Leigh Bardugo, we eventually made it to the top floor where seats arranged like a mini theatre, with two chairs stationed at the top. We had no idea how exclusive the event was, and we’d guess there were about 30 people there in total. Luckily, we managed to snag seats in the second row, so our view was fantastic! Also, Leigh is incredible at projecting her voice so no one missed anything she said.

The even started with a reading, probably about 4 pages from roughly the middle of Six of Crows giving us a delicious insight into the relationship between Nina and Mathias, and also an example of her Irish accent! Next there was an interview for about an hour, with really intriguing questions that covered the majority of the basics about the book, the Grishaverse and her writing process.

During the interview process, Maddie decided to whip out her phone and take some notes so that we could remember all of the  quirky details and funny stories that Leigh told, so we’ll share a few:

  • [After using the analogy of the boiling pot and the palette] “Everything about my brain is food!”
  • [About her favourite new character from Six of Crows] “Matthias was the easiest to write because he’s a DRAMA queen.” But her favourite character was either Nina or Kaz.
  • She reiterated a few times how much she disliked researching about boats! “I won’t care about boats and I never will!”
  • For Six of Crows she talked to a guy that had worked for the CIA to get information about impenetrable fortresses, which is a key plot point in the new tale.
  • Six of Crows is going to be a duet – we say duet because Leigh said she didn’t like the word duology (“sounds like some kind of body cream” – which is true) – and even though she said she could have written 12 books in the series, she wants to take a break from the Grisha and experiment with other magic systems. Coming next year, she’s written a short story in the new anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins and talked about how fun it was to write a contemporary (“there’s no death?!”)
  • However, she did promise more kissing in Book 2, not to mention some cameo roles of our favourites from the original trilogy!
  • Grisha is pronounced Gree-sha. The ‘Gen’ in Genya is pronounced like ‘gen’ in ‘genesis’
  • She loves a good love/hate relationship, embodied in Nina and Matthias.
  • The inspiration for Shadow and Bone came from when she was staying in the mountains and she’d fallen asleep only to wake up at sunset and all of the lights were off. It was a house unknown to her so she had no idea where the lights were or where to find the knives to protect herself in her panicked state – she wielded her shoe instead! – which got her thinking about what would happen if it was just dark forever and you couldn’t turn on the lights? What would lurk in the dark and why would people go in there if it was so dangerous? And what power would you need to defeat the darkness and thus Alina and the Darkling were born!
  • Leigh said that she was “drawn to deep moments of darkness”, for example what happens to to the villain in fairytales after the story is over?
  • She claimed she would make a terrible spy, would want to be a heartrender and is a Slytherin. (All of the Crows patroness would have fangs, too, apparently!)
  • After writing a particularly difficult or emotional scene, Leigh would write a large chunk of Matthias/Nina banter.
  • Leigh doesn’t write chronologically (necessarily) and likes to outlines although she won’t always know exact details.

Then the floor was open to everyone else to ask questions! But, we’re going to do a separate blog post on all the interesting, writing advice that Leigh gave us!

photo 7photo 4We both got a copy of Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows signed. Leigh asked each of us who our favourite characters were from the Grisha trilogy, and personalised the dedications in our copies accordingly! (Isn’t that such a sweet touch? Bee said Alina and I said Nicolai!) The three of us talked about our unusually American names and their origins, our degree as Creative Writing students and who we wanted Alina to end up with at the end of Ruin and Rising. I got to tell Leigh how Bee recommended the series to me, and how it got me into the high fantasy genre, and Bee got to gush a little about Laini Taylor (any opportunity!) I also got a book recommendation from Leigh, and she compared us to Cath and Wren from Fangirl! (Isn’t that the best compliment ever?!!

photo 6photo 5

Oh gosh, it was genuinely one of the best afternoons of our lives. We’re so pleased we got to take advantage of the opportunity and that we now have a beautiful book to read, Six of Crows. 

(Mild Spoilers) Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

siegeSiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Indigo
Pages:
386
Format: Paperback
Rating:
★★★★
Series: Shadow and Bone (#1)
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

The sequel to Shadow and Bone was just as good, if not better, than it’s predecessor. Again, with such a beautiful cover the writing can only be wonderful too. Although we weren’t left on a cliffhanger per say, in Shadow and Bone, and you could probably read the first book in the series and be done with it, I would not recommend a hasty finish. I hypothesized that Siege and Storm would be a ‘getting there’ book. By this I mean that it’s mostly travel, and there isn’t a lot going on. As with a few ‘middle’ books they just seem to serve the purpose of turning a duology into a trilogy. I have to say that I thought this was going to be the case up until half way through. There is pain. There is deception. There is heartache. There is some happiness, but not much so it makes for an intense read to say the least.

The way the story is told sucks the reader in completely. For a fantasy novel, I thought it would be quiet dense, but the first person narrative from our teenage protagonist still somehow manages to make murder and power plays upbeat. Who knew, right? Once again Alina proves to be strong and confident. She’s developed from the first book, but perhaps not in the way I wanted her to. But she can still work out what is right and what is wrong. She’s still got her moral compass in tact and she’s making decisions that benefit more than just her. For a girl who’s had greatness thrust upon her she’s working up to the image of Sankta Alina in an incredibly mature way. However, she is still a teenager and there is still room for improvement and lesson learning, which I can only hope accumulates in the final installment.

Siege and Storm starts on a boat. Sailors. Privateers. Perfect. We’re introduced to a new character ‘Sturmhond.’ I’ll admit that I kept tripping over the pronunciation when reading, but it wasn’t as bad as when I tried to sound out the Russian. I think the only word I mastered effectively was ‘sobaka.’ Sturmhond is something else entirely and one of my favourite characters. He’s exactly what the – rather depressing at that point, if I’m honest – plot line needed. He also acts as another tier to out love triangle. Seriously? Three guys in love with her at once? Apparently so.

I’ve already expressed my profound love for Mal, and was overjoyed to know that my prophecies for his future have not come true, at least for this book anyway. There’s still a chance that he’ll die in Ruin and Rising, and with the amount of death threats and how many times he’s been used as a pawn so far in this series, I would not be surprised. The relationship between Alina and Mal developed rapidly. It evolved. Alina is changing due to her increased power and I’m worried for her. I’m worried for what’s going to happen in the final chapter of her journey. Will she get the firebird? There is pictorial evidence on the front cover on Ruin and Rising to suggest that she does, but can she really handle it?

For a main character the Darkling was remarkably…not present, or at least not us much as previously. But as much as I feel it would be a betrayal to Mal, I think that Alina and the Darkling’s relationship is the one that I am interested in most, because the dynamic is just so different to anything I’ve read before. The powers pollute their relationship and I’m never entirely sure whether they’re using each other or if they genuinely like each other. As I’ve said, there is quite a lot of death and some of it is rather unsettling, but the betrayal of Genya was what had me cringing away from the story.

Overall, I’m looking forward to the progression of this series, because other than some character deaths I have no idea what is going to happen. I hope that Alina can somehow keep it together, and I hope that the new characters continue to surprise and liven up the story.

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

SShadow and Bonehadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Indigo
Pages:
308
Format: Paperback
Rating:
★★★.5
Series: Siege and Storm (#1) 
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

I didn’t think I was a massive fan of fantasy, until I realized that the majority of my favourites were, indeed, fantasy. Which is why I am so glad that I picked up Shadow and Bone (although I may have been persuaded to do so because COVER LOVE.)

You’re chucked head first into the world, which even after finishing the book I’m not sure I completely understand. I guess I will just have to fill in any gaps by just rereading, and rereading, and rereading. But, on the other hand, in a fantasy novel that’s almost exactly what you want. You don’t want fifty pages of explanation, and I think Shadow and Bone almost had the ratio of plotline of to backstory completely perfect.

I really liked the main character, Alina, I thought she was head strong and she dealt with her new surroundings and situation extremely well, even though she’d just been horribly separated from her soul mate – we will talk about the ultimate cuteness of Mal later, don’t you worry. I loved being in the Little Palace, despite the Dark undertones (intentional pun.) Genya was also a wonderful addition, because when you lose one best friend then someone has to be there to fill in the slot.

The Grisha powers, although slightly hard to keep track of, were interesting and unique, and the concept of amplifiers kept the story going. I love it when protagonists are actually willing to learn new things, so Alina ticked that box for me. It was very reminiscent of Poison Study by Maria. V. Snyder, especially with the fight training and the alluring but dangerous love interest. I imagine Alina and Yelena being close friends, the similarities between these girls do not stop at the ‘lee-na’ suffix. I’m interested to see where the King ends up at the end of this series because treasonous talk was everywhere. I love some good forSHADOWing. (That one was unintentional.) I’m looking forward to the sequel immensely, and hope that it isn’t just going to be an ‘on-the-run’ sequel, as that could be mildly disappointing, but if necessary then so be it.

Mal. Where to begin? He was wonderful, and I’m so sad that he only had a cameo role in the first half, but was relieved when he was there full force in the final third. I’m quiet partial to a love triangle that is executed well, and liked this one even more because it wasn’t bittersweet as I do not like the Darkling. Well…maybe a little bit. I’ve prepared myself for the likely probability that Alina ends up with my less preferred candidate, but I still hold out hope for Mal. Maybe if he can’t be will Alina then a lovely secondary character will be introduced to pose as his new love interest. Or he dies. But I’d rather not think about that unfortunate scenario.

With such a raving review it might come as bit of a surprise when I say that my star rating is only 3.5 out of five. This is because there were moments were the plot got a tiny bit dry and I had to encourage myself to continue, this was made up by some plot twists and some plot gems that I was not expecting. Overall, I love the characters and am invested enough in their story to continue. Also, the 3.5 was a tactical decision as I have a feeling that the series is only going to get better so rather than saying the series plateaued at 4 stars I can say it was a beautiful journey of a rising incline in the star spangled rating system.