Wotakoi – Vol 1: Review

31826480I was initially interested in this manga, since I am watching the anime, which is currently ongoing.
The anime is a delight to watch, the manga turned out to be even better.

The mange is hilarious. It efficiently delivers comedy to it’s audience. And the scenarios the character find themselves into are quite relatable.
It uses ‘otaku’ jargon a lot, but it includes a glossary, so even if you aren’t ‘getting it’ you can come around understanding the undertones of the topic.

The art is good and the typography makes the verbal cues evident. I love the anime, and would like to continue the manga.

Overall rating 4 out of 5.

**I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Throne of Glass: Review

13519397Okay so, this series has been so hyped up everywhere, I just had to read it myself. Although this is SJM’s first book, I read it after reading the three books of ACOTAR. – so, read this review with a grain of salt.

Even if I didn’t know this was SJM’s first book ever, I would have guessed it. The writing is, uhm, satisfactory at best. It just goes to show how much she has improved as an author in ACOTAR.

The world building isn’t too elaborate. As readers we are given scrapes of information on how the current tyrant King has been invading surrounding lands to increase his own rule. During more than half the book, the king simply vanishes and is only mentioned whenever convenient.

Celaena, the main character, the most feared assassin. I found her bearable than most of the other YA heroines. But the tone-shifts of her character felt unreal, and made her somehow lacking overall. Sure, she can be an assassin who likes to eat desserts and dress up, but as the ‘most feared assassin’ she didn’t look the part. It was also emphasized that she ‘just a 17-y.o girl’ repeatedly, which in turn made the super-dangerous-assassin part a bit over the top.

Chaol, the captain of the guard, was kept as ‘Mr. Mysterious’ for so long, that I honestly lost interest. (who am I kidding, I still want to know more about him).
Dorian, the prince, felt like the only one who stayed true to himself, and so was one of the character I enjoyed reading.

The pacing of the story was okay, if not slow. The bigger plot at play is slowly uncovered, through the connection is lost between that and the current storyline. The ending is also, you guessed it, okay-ish; with majority plot points closed, and new one opened at the very end on which the story is bound to continue. The climax is mild. All in all, it felt as if this book is the prologue of the whole series. As a standalone, it doesn’t entice me too much to continue reading the series.

Overall 3 out of 5 stars.

A Torch Against the Night: Review

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)I ran, literally, to get my hands on this sequel as soon as I finished book 1. I thought Book 1 had broken me enough, well, I was wrong.

The book jumps right in where we left Elias and Laia off from Book 1. They are running from Martials and are branding as fugitives. Helene faces her own monsters as she is sent on a mission to retrieve Elias alive.

Laia, the ever-determined strong female lead felt somehow overshadowed by everything else happening in this book. Towards the end of it all, I truly started missing the head-strong girl we met in Book 1.

Elias, on the other hand, did show a lot of character development, and I enjoyed reading his POVs.

Helene seemed confused out of her wits, and her POV seemed to drag and loop. Regardless, I still cared for her character and was emotionally invested in her.

If you thought Book 1 was dark, you are so DAMN wrong. I literally had to pause mid-chapter to take a breath and steel myself for what else was around the corner. We had The Commandment in Book 1. Now, we still have her, ruthless even more (if that was possible), there is the Warden of the Kauf Prison, the Nightbringer, and of course Marcus Farrar. After the first 100 Pages or so, I found myself saying ‘please no more’. Alas, the (multiple) plot twists that happened in the last 100 pages, were unexpected to say the least. Upon finishing this book, all I could was take a long sigh.

The book is written and paced well. It alternates between POVs of Elias, Laia and Helene. The world building has expanded, and we meet some old and new characters, along with new details about the supernatural being.

Overall this book was an emotional ride and while I’m not ready for book 3, I’m counting the days until I finally have it.

I give this 4.5 starts out of 5.

 

Interview: Ashley Lloyd Smith

Ashley Lloyd Smith’s background is in theatre; writing, directing and acting. He is a Drama graduate of Aberystwyth University and post graduate of the University of Surrey. His plays have been performed on three continents. His theatre has been banned in venues in his home town of Derby and his films on Facebook.

He has written over a hundred micro stories (seventy words or less) and performs these and his other writings around the Midlands. He has also written three children’s novels.

Ashley is also a keen walker and runner. He also blogs regularly on his transition from the luvvie world of theatre to the less extrovert world of writing.

Ashley is married with one son, and lectures at the University of Derby.

 

Below is a short interview with him, focusing on his thoughts about writing.

Check out his upcoming book: Pizza with Jimbob & Twoforks


 

Did you always want to be a writer?
I think I did but because of my dyslexia I rather gave up on the idea. I couldn’t read fast enough and back then there were no spell checks. By the time that arrived I had given up on it. I went into theatre instead and only came to writing for page, rather than stage, when I had the idea for this novel and decided in a happy romantic whirl (I was on a lovely Valentine’s Day stay in a real tepee) to keep going with it until it was long enough to be counted as a novel. Like the day I woke up early and decided to run a marathon before work. I just wanted to say I’d done it and not given up.

Who inspired you to start writing?
Loads of children’s authors I could blame for that, in particular Ivan Southall the Australian genius and his Hills End, but as an adult I’d have to say Sam Shepard, the recently deceased Hollywood actor and playwright. At university I read a lot of plays because of my degree in Drama. Strindberg and Ibsen were favourites, but Shepard showed what could be done with small moments of action that could have a ricochet impact on a reader. I think everything he did had a hint of Samuel Beckett in it, so you’ll find with my writing all has a hint of Shepard. I’d like to be able to write like Rushdie or Kundera but if I ever get compared to Shepard I’ll be happy!

What is your crucial advice for writers?
I don’t know tons but I can give two basic points. First write on something that doesn’t connect to the internet and don’t have a phone anywhere near that does. If your book is research heavy that might be a problem but basically I wouldn’t bother having anyway of distracting yourself like that. Secondly get someone to edit your work after you’ve done a couple of drafts. I know this could end up costing money but my novel went from unreadable to something I’m looking forward to people reading, all through advice of an editor. It’s still your work but it’s just honed. And anything they cut you can always use somewhere else.

What would you not do again as a writer?
Send anything off until I’d got it as good as I could. I gave a writer my novel. She was hardly the same kind of writer and not my target audience. It was in a terrible state and I am seriously embarrassed I did that. On the other hand getting people to read your work as much as possible for feedback is something I would encourage. And take what they say with seriously and without complaint. You have to take criticism and in the end it’s up to you what you do with it. Although I would take a few weeks to think it though before embracing or rejecting anything, to get an emotional distance from it.

Where do you like to write?
That’s an easy one. Anywhere! Whenever I have a good idea or spare hour I love to get writing and if that’s at my grand old writing bureau overlooking the street that’s great, but if it’s in a forest then that’s just as good. With the hot weather I decided to write outside with my top off and got a lovely tan to go with thousands more lovely words. I’ve never been one for sunbathing so the tan was a bonus!

How is writing novels and writing for the theatre similar?
When I came to write a novel I thought I was a beginner but I wasn’t really because I’d been writing plays for over fifteen years, so some of the things writers can find difficult, I didn’t. Dialogue is the most obvious advantage it gave me, having this background. I can think my way into a character to make it snappy, poetic but also real.
My biggest problem for me is I sometimes give only sketched descriptions which leaves the reader with a lot to fill in because I’m used to working with little scenery but with strong visual impact from the actors. This is the part of writing I’m working on most as children’s novels cry out for a bit more of it.

What else are you writing?
Too much! That sounds like a good thing and I am pleased to not be bereft of ideas but recently I had a writing break for a week that consisted of hours of going through a couple of dozen notebooks and lifting out every story, idea, poem that never made it on to my computer and making sure that there was this digital copy.
I’m at the point now where so many of my projects need an injection of work on them that I don’t know where to start. Two full novels, (plus two in only note stage) five children’s novels, two of which are part of a worked out series, lots of poems and short stories that could do with touching up before being sent to competitions, magazines and anthologies, plus my favourite quick writing past time the micro story (50 to 70 words. I text them to people). I have about a hundred of these that I’m considering self-publishing with guest editors, to keep the interest in my writing going once my novel has been published.


You can connect with Ashley on his blog and twitter. His upcoming book is on preorder here and on Amazon.

 

🙂 FTK

 

The Traitor’s Kiss: Review

29346870The amount of bad reviews this book honestly shocked me. I picked this book up based on the blurb “An obstinate girl who will not be married. A soldier desperate to prove himself. A kingdom on the brink of war” I was expecting a strong-willed heroine, amidst of some politics where the solider is in the thick of it.

What I got was more than what I expected, including spies, treason, and romance. In short, Traitor’s Kiss was quite good.

The characters were well developed, and all had their personal motives. The plot was character-driven and included layers with some foretelling that made all plot-twists a surprise. Overall it was well paced.

Sage was relatable, determined and at-times somewhat annoying, but she remained true to her character. Her agility in thinking joined with her fierce attitude was what kept the story going.  “Ash” on the other hand, was the quiet and composed character who would think more than act. Together they made a great team. I also feel that marriage by match matchers concept hold true to this day, since many eastern countries still follow this, and often young girls are left to their luck in this matter.

Some of my concerns from this book were the map, it can definitely be improved to include many of the locations that were mentioned in the story but weren’t in the map. The other thing that I felt was missing was more information on the military and backstory of Sage.

I’m looking forward to Book 2 which hopefully will address some gaps from this book.

 

Overall 3.5 out of 5 stars