Monthly Archives: September 2015

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books to Read if you like George R.R. Martin…

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

If you’re a fan of George R.R. Martin but are looking for a book more YA than A Song of Ice and Fire (I still recommend reading Ice and Fire if you’re a young adult), some of the books/series below are worth checking out…

1 – Red Rising by Pierce Brown

This has sci-fi and high fantasy elements, with some great writing and cool set pieces.

2 – The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

This is one of my favourite YA high fantasy series, with some of the best world-building I’ve read. There are 11 books in the main series, with a new series recently released. Beyond the Deepwoods is the first book.

3 – The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

This has dystopian elements, but it’s more high fantasy, with the same complex plotting and suspicious characters as Game of Thrones. Fast paced, well written, worth checking out.

4 – The Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

Arguably the best YA high fantasy ever written, this is gritty, fast-paced and action packed with well-developed characters and plenty of violence. It’s YA, but it’s as close to Game of Thrones as YA comes. Half a King is the first book.

5 – The Rangers Apprentice series by Jon Flanagan

Another fast-paced series with solid action and characters. The plot isn’t as complex as Game of Thrones, but it’s still unpredictable and gripping. The Ruins of Gorlan is the first book.

6 – Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall

This book is underrated. It blends the legend of Robin Hood with werewolves, all in an interesting fantasy world.

7 – The Wardstone Chronicles/Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney

I grew up with this series. It’s fantasy/horror, set in a world just slightly different from the real one. Dark, fast-paced, worth checking out. The Spooks Apprentice/Revenge of the Witch (US) is the first book.

8 – Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

I wasn’t a big fan of the first book, but the sequels edged closer to A Song of Ice and Fire and the series got better.

9 – Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Similar to Throne of Glass in that it’s focused too heavily on romance for most of the plot, this is still a solid high-fantasy read with some good action sequences and an interesting world.

10 – Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Violent, gritty, funny, this is like Shattered Sea in that it’s as close as you can get to a YA Game of Thrones.

Anyone read or wants to read any of these books? If anyone can recommend any more books similar to Game of Thrones, I’d be grateful to hear them…


#WritersLife Tag

#WritersLife Tag

Cait Grace, creator or the cool blog Paper Fury tagged all writers for this book tag. I’ve never done a tag before, but this one sounded cool so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Write Fuel : What do you eat/drink while writing?

I don’t eat anything while writing. I eat in between writing. Get up at around 5AM, eat first breakfast. Write with a cup of tea or coffee, the first strong, the second strong and black. Second breakfast/Hobbit breakfast, and then write some more.

Write Sounds: What do you listen to while writing?

Nothing. I can write if someone else is watching TV. And because I write in the living room, the TV is sometimes on. But because I get up at 5AM or sometimes earlier, I can write for a couple solid hours before everyone else gets up. I don’t listen to soundtracks or songs while writing.

Write Vice: What’s your most debilitating distraction?

If I’m reading a good book. George R.R. Martin is to blame recently. I spend a lot of time on IMDB and Goodreads, too.

Write Horror: What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you while writing?

Writing for two hours in a Word Document that had opened as Read-Only, so when I came to save it I couldn’t and lost everything I’d written.

Write Joy: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you while writing or how do you celebrate small victories?

Writing a sentence or scene or a chapter that I’m really proud of. It doesn’t always happen, but there are some moments where you write something and you say, “That’s not half bad.”


Finishing a book. A novel is a tough thing to face, but battling through it to come out the other side with a full novel is a wicked feeling.

Write Crew: Who do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?

Nobody but the characters I’m writing about. I get deep into a world, sometimes too deep.

Write Secret: What’s your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?

Routine. I used to write only when I felt like it. I could go as long as a week without writing anything at all. So I started writing every day with a set word count. It took some getting used to but now I write at least 2000 words a day and don’t let myself do less.

Know where you’re going, at least some of the way. Some people are plotters, some pansters. I’m somewhere in between. I don’t outline a novel from beginning to end, but I do think at least one or two chapters ahead from where I’m writing in the moment. That way I don’t get writers block.

Leave it on a spot you can come back to easily. This could be in the middle of an action sequence or a conversation, it just makes it easier to pick up again the next time you write.

One of many flaws is that I am no good at writing romance. I’ve learned a little and know it’s necessary for some plots, but I’m just not very good at it.

Another flaw is description. Again, I’ve learned to write sharper description, but I still probably write too much.

Write-Spiration: What always makes you productive?

Reading other books. I want to write as well as some of my favourite authors, and the only way to do that is to keep writing.

Write Peeve: What’s one thing writers do (or you do) that’s annoying?

Write what they think will get published and not what they want to write. If everyone writes the same thing, with the same plot, ideas, characters etc nothing new will ever get written.

Write Words: Share one sentence from a project past or present

I’m editing with my agent at the moment, but recently I finished my first attempt at writing for adults. A supernatural horror. It was a great experience and I could write horror pretty much without any limits. Below is one of the more PG lines.

 My hands sank into inches of gore, black and made soupy as it blended with the melted snow.

Thanks to Cait Grace of Paper Fury for offering this tag to all writers. I do the same now. So if you’re a writer, you’re tagged…

And check out Paper Fury. It’s a great blog for readers and writers.

Write and Read What You Know or What You Don’t?

Since I can remember I’ve read fantasy, mostly middle-grade and young-adult. Since I can remember, I’ve written fantasy too, again middle-grade and young-adult. 

I wrote fantasy because it’s what I read, what I knew. It was probably instinct.

Many writers only write in one genre, some about only one character. Lee Child writes thrillers, all of them with Jack Reacher as the main character.

Some writers write in many different genres. Stephen King writes horror, thrillers, detective fiction, drama, fantasy, and once YA (Eye of the Dragon).

But does writing in one genre, just what you know, limit you? Or does it mean that what you write will be better than if you wrote something you didn’t know about or understand?

I used to write only fantasy, and for children-teenagers, but since I started reading more than just fantasy, for more than just middle graders and young adults, I’ve had an itch to write more than just fantasy too. For the past few years I’ve written books that are sci-fi, thrillers, crime fiction, high-fantasy and horror. Up until a month or so back, I’d still only written for middle graders and young adult.

Then I decided to give writing for adults a shot.

A month and two weeks later and I’ve finished the first draft of my first book for adults this morning. I’d had the idea for a while, was intending to use it for a YA series, but decided it could work better as a stand-alone adult supernatural horror.

Turned out to be some of the most fun I’ve had writing for a while. It was tough in places, but came smooth in others.

I’d never written for adults before, was worried it wouldn’t work or I would slip back into a YA tone at some point. But, as far as I can tell, it did work (but this could be bias–so I’ll have to wait until my agent reads it to find out the truth). I finished, and I’m as happy as anybody can be with a first draft.

So my answer to should we write or read only what we know or what we don’t is the former. If we only write or read what we know, we’ll never know what else we can write or read.

What do you think, or do? Do you read or write (or both) only what you know, or what you don’t (or both)? Do you think sticking to one genre limits you, or not?

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin

Some books you don’t just read.

The Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie is a high-fantasy series that pulls you in so you’re fighting alongside the characters, in the mud and the blood…

A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire sequence is another series that pulls you in. You’re there, in Westeros, snow or rain in your face, sword in your hand…

But it pulls you into more than just battles. The world building is some of the most detailed I’ve ever read. Martin has created cultures and languages, countries and regions, all with their own histories and customs.

Just as detailed as the world building are the characters. A Game of Thrones is divided up between several characters. Jon Snow, Ned/Eddard Stark (Whose story this first book is) Catleyn Stark, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Bran Stark, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister. Martin divides the page space up pretty equally between the characters so they’re all developed well. Some of them you might like and some of them you won’t. But there are dozens more characters—the largest cast I’ve known in a book. But in this first book there’s never too many that you can’t remember who is who or what their agenda is.

And there are plenty of agendas. Everyone is vying for the right to the Iron Throne and to rule Westeros.

For a book that is over 800 pages long, there was never a moment where I wanted it to end. I tried reading slow, to make it last, but Martin’s writing style is addictive and it’s hard not to race through the book.

A Game of Thrones isn’t as action packed as Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy (worth checking out if you’re a Throne’s fan) but Martin still includes plenty of battles and set pieces to keep the pace moving pretty fast all the way to the end.

As well as epic world building, Martin builds good atmosphere. Whether it’s the suspicion and corruption in King’s Landing where Ned Stark tries to survive and uncover the truth, or far in the North where Jon Snow becomes a part of the Night’s Watch and learns of a plot unfolding beyond the Wall. Martin writes so that you can feel the heat of King’s Landing, smell the fires burning in Winterfell and feel the cold at Castle Black in the north.

Even though I’ve watched the TV show, know what’s going to happen, the books still seemed to be unpredictable, and Martin includes enough extra material that didn’t make it into the shows so that reading the books is still worth it.

If you haven’t started this series yet, check it out. If you think it won’t be as good because you’ve already seen the show, give A Game of Thrones a shot. I waited too long, and I regretted it.

Epic doesn’t cover it.

Highly, highly recommended.

Anyone else read A Song of Ice and Fire, or just started reading it? 

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books TBR This Autumn

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1 – A Clash of Kings by George R.R Martin

I’m a big fan of the TV show and only recently started reading A Game of Thrones. The book is as addictive as the show, so I’ll be reading this as soon as I finish Thrones.

2 – A Storm of Swords by George R.R Martin

Even though they’re thick enough to build walls with, the Song of Fire and Ice books are addictive and I race through them, so I’ll read the third book this autumn too.

3 – Lockwood & Co. 3 The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

Humour, action, great writing. Enough said.

4 – Skulduggery Pleasant 9: The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy

Humour, action, great writing. Enough said too.

5 – Demon Road by Derek Landy

The idea sounds pretty good and with Landy there is a guarantee of action and humour.

6 – Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

I wasn’t a big fan of the first book, but as the series gets gritter and more like A Song of Ice and Fire it gets better.

7 – Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne

The blurb for this sounds epic:

One lone figure emerges alive from the wreckage. He has no memory of his past, and no idea of his future. He only knows he must save a man. But how do you save someone who is already dead?

8 – Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer/Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan


Can’t go wrong with a book Riordan most of the time and Norse mythology is my favourite out of Greek, Roman, Egyptian etc.

9 – Duma Key by Stephen King

Stephen King. Enough said again.

10 – Golden Son by Pierce Brown

I wrote a mixed review about the first book, but looking back I enjoyed it more than I thought.

Is anyone reading one or more of the same books this autumn/fall? Anyone else read A Song of Ice and Fire, if so what do you think, as good as, better than, or not as good as the TV show?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Wish I’d Written

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1 – Under the Dome by Stephen King

Stephen King writes characters and tension like nobody else.

2 – The Bartimeaus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud

Fast, funny, with some great world-building and vivid fantasy writing.

3 – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Save selling millions of copies, the reason I wish I’d written this is because of how fast and action-packed it is, but also how it’s some of the most believable fiction ever written.

4 – The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Who else wouldn’t wish they’d written the Potter books?

5 – 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Easily one of my favourite books, King shows again how well he can write characters and tension. I wish I had his ability to pull a reader into one of his stories.

6 – The Martian by Andy Weir

A wise-cracking main character, plenty of action and tension, plus some crazy-detailed research that Weir never makes boring.

7 – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Martin gives Tolkien a run for his money in world-building with A Song of Ice and Fire. I haven’t read them yet, but from the show and what I’ve heard, there’s no question I wish I could write worlds as detailed and vast as Martin.

8 – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Another of my top 5 books of all time (and favourite movie of all time). Action, great plot and concept, and like Weir with The Martian, Crichton always makes the science interesting and understandable.

9 – His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

I’m not a big fan of the final book, but the first and second are some of the best fantasy around.

10 – The Shattered Sea trilogy by Joe Abercrombie 

I like to read gritty fantasy as well as write it, and the Shattered Sea trilogy is as gritty and violent as fantasy comes. Epic.

Even if you’re not a writer, are there any books or series you wished you’d written, and why?

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Book Series I Haven’t Finished Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1 – Department 19 by Will Hill


The first three books in this vampire series are action-packed and entertaining. The last one was a little overlong and disappointing which is why I held of from reading the remaining two books. But one day I’ll get round to finishing this series.

2 – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


I’ve only read Magician’s Apprentice and Lion, Witch, Wardrobe. I’m not a big fan of the books, but it’s a classic series that I’ll probably finish one day, either myself or when I have kids of my own to read it to.

3 – The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien


Another classic series that I tried to read but couldn’t get into. The pace was too slow, the writing archaic, but Tolkien’s world building is unrivaled and I will read the rest of the series at some point.

4 – Power of Five by Anthony Horowitz


Anthony Horowitz knows how to write for kids and teens (and for adults) and this is a fast-paced, action packed series. The first book is at least, and I look forward to seeing how the series develops.

5 – Unwind by Neal Shusterman


This is one of my favourite YA series. I’ve read the first two books and have the third and fourth to read. Solid writing, great characters, unique premise and gripping plots… this is some of the best YA sci-fi/dystopia in print.

6 – Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan 


Rick Riordan is one of my favourite writers. I grew up with the Percy Jackson series. The first two books in the Heroes of Olympus were epic. I just haven’t got around to reading the third, fourth or fifth yet. But I’ll probably read the new Norse series first.

7 – The Bartimeaus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud


I’ve read the first three books in the main Bartimeaus sequence, but not the prequel, The Ring of Solomon. These books are action-packed, funny and well written. Would make great movies too.

8 – Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy


There are two reasons I don’t want to read the final book in the Skulduggery series: Because then it would be over, and after the eighth book didn’t live up to the rest of the series, I don’t want to be disappointed. Another series that should be a movie.

9 – The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel


The first book in this series is an addictive twist on the Frankenstein story. The second book Such Wicked Intent got great reviews too, so I look forward to reading it. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is a similar series I haven’t finished yet but which is worth checking out.

10 – Red Rising Trilogy 


Technically the third and final book hasn’t been released yet, but it will be soon. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book– after all the hype it got i expected more–but the writing was solid and there was plenty of action. But I still want to find out what happens in the rest of the series.

Anyone have any of the same books/series on their list, or can recommend I definitely finish one or more of the series above? 

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