Friday Face Off : “The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!


(May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder – details here, Twitter: @wyrdandwonder)

FFOHere we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

“The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!” – A cover featuring a fantasy beast

Obviously I wanted to go with Tolkien this week but decided not to because I do tend to overdo it – although is it possible to overdo Tolkien?  I don’t think so.  Anyway, this week I’ve gone with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente.  Now, most of the covers are fairly similar and just involve colour variations – but what do you think of the fantasy beast?  Anyway, here they are:

I think these are all quite nice, but I’m going to have to go for:


Which one is your favourite?

Like last week I’ve added a Mr Linky here so that you can leave a link if you wish or please leave me a link in the comments so we can all visit and check out each others covers.  Thanks

I’ve updated the list and included themes through to the end of 2019 – I’ve also included events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share that let me know in the comments).  I also have a list prepared for 2020 and so will set up a separate page soon for forthcoming themes.  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment.

Next week – A cover featuring ‘magical things’

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers)


(May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder – details here, Twitter: @wyrdandwonder)

24th May – “bibbity, bobbity, boo” – A cover that features ‘magical things’

31st May –  “simples” – A favourite fantasy cover 

7th June  – “One swallow does not make a summer” – A cover that makes you think of Summer 

14th June – “Coraline opened the box of chocolates. The dog looked at them longingly.” – A cover featuring something sweet

21st June – Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year – Pagan rituals/standing stones/blazing suns – a cover with your own interpretation

28th June – “And who decided which people wore the striped pyjamas” – A cover that is striped

5th July – “The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe… has been answered” –  a cover featuring something/somebody historic 

12th July – A wrap around cover

19th July – “You can’t choose between life and death when we’re dealing with what is in between.” – A cover that is grainy or looks like ‘white noise’

26th July – “Ludo ….. down” – A cover that is Upside Down

2nd August – “There are children here somewhere. I can smell them.” A cover featuring children

9th August – “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” – A cover featuring Pirates

16th August – “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes” – a cover featuring feathers

23rd August – A cover that is a movie tie in

30th August – “I wandered lonely as a cloud” – a cover that is predominantly yellow

6th September “Warm September brings the fruit” – a cover that is seasonal for Autumn/Fall

13th September – Friday the 13th – unlucky for some!  A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

20th September – “Your hair is winter fire,January embers.” – A cover featuring hair

27th September – Freebie

4th October – “Feed me Seymour” – A cover that is 60s horror

11th October – ““And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.”  – a cover featuring an Inn

18th October – “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had on the white mask, he stalked the babysitters.” – A cover featuring a scream

25th October – for Halloween – pick any scary cover you like

(I’m hoping that November will once again bring to us SciFiMonth – Twitter @SciFiMonth)

1st November – A cover that is predominantly grey

8th November – “big badda boom” – a cover that features an explosion

15th November – “No thinking thing should be another thing’s property, to be turned on and off when it is convenient.” – a cover featuring a robot

22nd November – A cover that is Futuristic

29th November – “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – a cover that is 60s sci fi

6th December – Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”  – a cover that puts you in mind of winter

13th December – A cover that features a temple/or religious icon

20th December – Longest Night –  a dark and foreboding cover

27th December – the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.)


Throwback Thursday : The Winnowing Flame Trilogy by Jen Williams


ThrowbackThursday.pngThrowback Thursday, is a new feature created by Tenacious Reader with the aim of  highlighting books from your reading past. This can be virtually anything, a book that you previously read and loved, a book that you want to highlight again, maybe it’s a book in a series and the next book is due out shortly so you want to focus some attention on the series.   Anything goes – so long as your book isn’t a current release as there are already plenty of ways to highlight the latest books.  

Today I’m highlighting the first two books in the Winnowing Flame trilogy by Jen Williams.  Here are the two beautiful covers:

This series is certainly epic in scope.  It’s packed with originality and fantastic characters and it’s written with flair.  I’ve just finished the final instalment The Poison Song – and my review will follow later but for now suffice to say that fantasy lovers should be reading Jen Williams.  She’s a tour de force who is carving her own spot in the world of speculative fiction.  Her books are a delight and I highly recommend them.

The third book is due out today so if you’ve not yet started now is the perfect time.  And, because I’m just really nice here’s the cover for Poison Song so you can see the full set.  this one is a real beauty and my favourite (although it is difficult to choose):


Can’t Wait Wednesday : Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk


Today is the start of Wyrd and Wonder – a month long event that is a celebration of fantasy.  Check out the details here and join in the fun in whatever way you would like to do so.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking Can't waitthe Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk.

Stormsong.jpgAfter spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, praised as a “can’t-miss debut” by Booklist, and as “thoroughly charming and deftly paced” by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the story in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

Expected publication: February 2020

Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks #1) by Suzanne Young

Girls with.jpgI had a thoroughly good time with Girls with Sharp Sticks.  It’s a suspenseful book that kept me racing through the pages with desperation to find out just exactly what was going on.  It was so tense and the anticipation had me in it’s grips.

Let’s start at the beginning.  We make the introduction of Mena and some of her friends when they’re out on a school trip.  It’s immediately obvious that something is a little bit ‘off’ with the girls.  They’re so very well behaved, never putting a foot out of place and barely saying a word.   Unfortunately rain puts a stop to their outing and they’re all bundled back onto the school bus to return.  Along the way, stopping at a petrol station to allow some of the girls a bathroom break, Mena sneaks off to buy candy – something that is strictly forbidden, and she bumps into a young man and stays to chat – something that is even more forbidden!  Things quickly go a little bit pear shaped and the school guardian handles Mena very roughly when forcing her to return to the bus.  Now, rather than giving the guardian some attitude – which you can more than imagine happening, Mena is devastated by her own bad behaviour and overcome with remorse, not to mention an element of fear that she may be sent for ‘correction’.

The Innovations Academy is a finishing school with a very different agenda.  Here the focus is not on achieving brilliant minds but rather on making the girls attractive to look at, well behaved, well mannered and with the right balance of conversation to be an asset to any future partner they may be lucky enough to meet!  Doesn’t that just sound swell.  The girls have their makeup and hairstyles dictated, they undergo regular fitness regimes to keep them in shape and their food is carefully monitored – well, I say carefully monitored but basically all they’re given to eat is a gloopy green drink (supposedly packed with all the important nutrients) and incredibly bland salads.  They’re given ‘vitamin’ pills each night and if their behaviour is anything out of the ordinary, if they question the teachers or appear to act in any way different than the ways dictated by the school they are either given more ‘vitamins’ or sent, as a last resort to be corrected.  None of the girls know what happens if they’re sent to the doctor but there seems to be an undercurrent of fear about the whole thing and it’s generally perceived to be something to avoid at all costs.

Now imagine that some of these perfectly behaved girls start to be curious, about boys and other things, their curiosity is usually shut down immediately by the tutors but this really only seems to intensify their curiosity and the school responds accordingly.

Girls with Sharp Sticks is a difficult book to review in too much detail because the potential to spoil the whole read is very real so I’m not going to go further into the plot.

What I particularly liked about this story was the element of suspense.  And, in fact not just the suspense but also the girl’s, or at least Mena’s fears which became quite infectious.

So you may be wondering what the girl’s parents were thinking leaving them at such a place – I was certainly wondering why –  they’re basically ambitious, they have plans for their girls and this is an elite school with very few places so being granted a slot is so rare that the parents practically bend over backwards to accommodate anything the school wants, turning a blind eye to anything untoward  In fact the girls rarely see their parents, just at a number of scheduled school events where patrons of the Academy are also in attendance.

That leads me to the creep factor.  The tutors, doctor, head, guardian – well, all the staff at the school, are male – and let’s just say there’s this rather horrifying element of them overstepping the line.  It’s just downright cringeworthy in places and incredibly tense and threatening in others. In fact, now is probably a good time to point out that there are a few disturbing scenes so be aware of. Don’t be surprised to find yourself feeling downright angry and uncomfortable at a number of the events as the story progresses.

On top of the suspense and the slowly mounting horror which the author manages to achieve brilliantly is the friendships portrayed here. I can hardly recall reading about a girls school where the students were so nice to each other and it was a really refreshing change to be honest, the feeling of camaraderie and the lack of cliques and bitchiness.  It was just refreshing – in fact at every turn I was waiting for somebody to take on the ‘mean girl’ role but it just didn’t happen.

In terms of the world building.  To be honest it is slim, there are a few flashbacks but the majority of the story takes place in the school so there isn’t a wider feel for either the time or place.  I would say this is set at a point in the near(ish) future.  I don’t know whether I’d call it dystopian because I have no real idea at this point about how unique the school really is or whether this manipulation is much more widespread.  For now I’ll go for a futuristic thriller and wait to see how things develop.

I don’t have any criticisms.  I found this a gripping and fast read.  I didn’t second guess the ending although others might have done so, in fact I wasn’t really trying to, I just became so absorbed with what was going on that I never really took the time to consider the what ifs.  I was too busy gobbling up the pages desperately trying to find out what would happen next.

So, unusual school, sense of fear – are the girls being brainwashed somehow – what’s it all about?  Well, obviously I can’t tell you, if you want to know then you’ll have to grab a copy.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

The show must go on…


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

Page to Screen Freebie 

I was going to do a straightforward book to movie adaptation list but I’ve decided instead to use all the prompts provided and give an example of each (if I can).  So, here goes and I’ll just mention that I’m going with a lot of obvious ones here:

Books that became movies

Harry Potter by JK Rowlings – this is one of those fine examples of a series of books that have been very well adapted and I adore the movies as much as the books – I know!  They’re books that a whole swathe of children grew up with, ageing along with the characters.  I loved the increasingly dark feeling of the books and the movies caught that very well and I think the lead characters were excellently chosen.

Books that became TV shows

Game of Thrones by GRRM – bit premature maybe because the series isn’t (quite) finished yet.  I have enjoyed this series and had some firm favourite characters – of course, nobody is safe with GRRM so it will be interesting to see the concluding episode!  Certainly much drama so far but no spoilers from me!

Movies that became books

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright & David Leslie Johnson.  This is a book that I read that was apparently based on the movie.  The release of the book was tied into the movie release date and the book was sold without an ending.  I remember this quite clearly because the ending was to be made available on the internet – I’m guessing to avoid movie spoilers.  As it happened, I didn’t enjoy the book and I didn’t watch the movie – or search out the ending.


Great adaptations

Lord of the Rings by JRRTolkien.  I loved these movies.  I thought they were really well adapted, the settings were fantastic, the tone was perfect particularly the way it changed as the film progressed.  I thought the actors were well chosen and just generally this is a series of films that I could watch over and over.


Bad adaptations

The Hobbit by JRRTolkien – okay, not a bad movie I suppose – in itself –  but for me a case of a movie that was changed too much.  This is a film that I was really looking forward to – I was surprised that there would be three films from such a relatively slim book – but, I could go for that, three times the fun? Plus, there is a lot of background to Tolkien’s worlds – however, ultimately – remember Bilbo saying that he felt like butter spread too thinly over bread – well, just saying!  What I found disappointing with the film was it felt too similar to Lord of the Rings and completely lost the tone and feel of the book itself and it felt like certain elements were changed completely.  What brought this into much sharper focus was that I reread the book not long before the movie and so the changes were much more apparent.  I’m sure lots of people loved the films, and I can see why, but they didn’t work for me, they didn’t capture the feeling of the Hobbit at all.


Books you need to read before watching the movie

The Goldfinich by Donna Tartt – I’ve read The Secret History and The Little Friend and I did rush out to buy a copy of Goldfinch but just never read it.  The thing is – I have to read the book first, otherwise, once I’ve seen the adaptation it’s very rare for me to go back and pick it up.

The Goldfinch

Books you need to read before watching their tv show

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – the trailer for this looks great – and be warned, seriously creepy – and I’ve had the book for quite some time so I need to fit it in – otherwise I can never watch the series!!! Doh.


Movies you loved more than the book

It doesn’t happen often but occasionally I enjoy the film more than the book. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – this could be a case of watching the film first (which I did and which proves my point about needing to get to the book first) – well, the book didn’t work for me after seeing the film – I just couldn’t get on with it for some reason.  There it is – go figure.


Books you loved more than the movie

I am Legend by Richard Matheson.  Another example of a good movie that didn’t work for me because of the changes -particularly the end.  I won’t say more because their lie spoilers.


Books you wanted to read because you saw the movie

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.  I saw the movie first and it made me pick up the book – and in actual fact I enjoyed both – so happy endings all round.




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