Book Review: The Seers (Book 2) by Julianna Scott

17457717Synopsis:

After nearly being drained of her ability and betrayed by a man her father trusted, Becca Ingle was left with one clue — Ciaran Shea. He holds the key to the downfall of the power-mad Holder, Darragh, and can ensure the safety of both Holder and Human kind alike… but is he willing to help?

Becca, Alex, Jocelyn, and Cormac set out for Adare Manor to meet with the Bhunaidh, an aristocratic group of pure blooded Holders of whom Ciaran is a rumored member. However, when Becca discovers that they might not be the only ones after the information Ciaran has, everyone begins to wonder if Bhunaidh might not be as uninvolved with Darragh as they claim.

A race to uncover Ciaran’s secrets begins, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. Becca will have to call on every ability at her disposal to uncover the truth, all the while knowing that sometimes the answer is more dangerous than the question.

About the Author: Julianna-Scott-Nov-2012-250

Julianna was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent the majority of her educational career convinced she would be a musician. However, after receiving her music degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, she realized that she’d been born in the wrong era for her dreams of singing jazz to adoring fans clad in zoot-suits and flapper dresses to come true, and began to wonder if her true calling might be elsewhere.

While Julianna had always excelled in writing throughout school, she’d never considered it a career possibility until about three years ago, when she’d gotten her first story idea and decided to go for it. She grabbed her laptop, started typing away, and has never looked back.

Website    Goodreads   Twitter

My Review:

I really feel that this series would make a fantastic movie. It’s kind of a paranormal sci-fi that uses all the familiar aspects of YA that we’re used to, but in a shinier wrapper.

Becca is a great character. She’s not one of those soppy teen angst types that you just want to slap; she’s funny and courageous without being too unrealistic – which is hard in a book with some very strong fantasy and supernatural themes. She did let the side down though a few times and dipped out of character by blabbing to others who could have been against her, but hey – we all do that in real life, so actually, although annoying for a hero to do, was actually very believable.

From a writer’s perspective, there were a few clichés in there, in terms of characters and events, but the whole thing is written beautifully and flows well. I did feel the plot slowed down in places, and personally I like more action and less talking (but that’s just me) I did read the first book before this one, and you really do have to read them in order to truly understand the character motivations and events that take place. There was a bit of swearing in this, which is dancing a fine line for a YA book. As an author myself I understand the debate; there’s a need to make dialogue believable and if something bad happens your character isn’t going to yell, “Fiddle Sticks’ but, in saying that, parents still want their kids reading something cleanly appropriate. Sh*t, I don’t think I even have the answer to this one myself!

The front covers are very classy, but don’t really say much about the story. I’d have preferred a few characters on the front as a visual and also to clearly define it as YA fiction to the less researched reader.

Overall I’d give The Seers 4 out of 5 stars, if you enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series – you’ll love these books.

TheSeersTourBannerNew

Interview with Cassandra Clare

Cassandra ClareTell us about your publishing journey…

I’ve always loved to write stories, but I didn’t start taking it seriously as a career option until after I finished graduate school. At that point I began writing short stories and sending them off to publications, and I also started work on a novel—The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. It was a couple of years before I was ready to take the plunge and send it out to agents. It didn’t catch anyone’s eye agent-wise, but I did send it to Angry Robot’s first Open Door month. They picked it up, and my thus my career began!

What do you love about being an author?

Well, it’s basically my dream job! I love that I’m paid to make up stories and be creative, and I love that I get to set my own hours and work from home. It really is everything I could want in a career.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

I feel like I’m not very good at the marketing side of things—I’m very shy, and I sometimes get anxious posting things on the Internet. But getting published has helped me over some of that, actually.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

This was framed as writing advice, but honestly I think it’s good life advice in general: learn to distinguish between goals and dreams. A goal is something that you can do completely on your own, without depending on luck or other people (for example, write a thousand words a day). A dream is something that’s ultimately out of your control to achieve (for example, get published). By acheiving your goals, you’re able to work toward your dream.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

For some reason, my initial response to this question was Hannibal Lecter, which is a horrific answer. But I think the reason I thought of him is because dinner with Lecter would be a grand, gourmet affair, assuming you insisted on going full vegetarian. But after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized I could get the grandness without the horror by eating a meal at Hogwarts. I think of all the Harry Potter characters I’d most liked to eat with Remus Lupin, so if Dumbledore could arrange for the two of us to chow down in the Great Hall, eating roast chicken and butterbeers and sticky toffee pudding, that would be excellent.

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

I recently finished Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics and I loved it! I read Night Film, her most recent book, about a month ago and it completely sucked me in, so I was excited to read Special Topics, which is her first book. I just adored the characters, the language, and the way the plot compels you forward.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

Probably the late 1950s/early 1960s, because I love the clothes, art, architecture, and music of that time period, particularly that of the counterculture. Plus I have reeeeeeally bad vision, so I’d definitely want to go back to a time when I could at least get glasses.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?cover22471-medium

For young Cat, I’d like to see Kara Hayward cast—she played Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom. For old Cat, I’d love someone like Kate Winslet, who always does a wonderful job with complex, layered characters. Finn was always the hardest for me to cast. I wrote a blog post about this very question when Mad Scientist’s Daughter first came out, and I named Danny Pudi as my choice for Finn. I still think he’d be great, but I’m also curious to hear what others who have read the book would think!

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

This is a very difficult question for me because I love television (movies too, but in recent years TV has really been trouncing movies in terms of originality and watchablity and really general quality). There are several TV shows that I’ll always return to, like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Mad Men, but there are also several more recent shows that I’ve gotten obsessed with. I think my favorite of those would be American Horror Story: Coven. On one hand it’s full of random campy horror tropes, but on the other hand the story focuses on several fairly complex female characters and tends to deal with women’s issues. Also, Jessica Lange is a flawless queen.

What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

I grew up in South Texas, which has extremely mild winters. As a kid, I used to ask Santa for a white Christmas every year, but of course it didn’t happen, the typical late-December meteorological conditions of Texas being what they are. However, when I was in college, a freak snowstorm blew across south Texas on Christmas Eve. I was living in Houston at the time but was in my hometown of Victoria for Christmas; Victoria received eleven inches of snow overnight, one of the few places in Texas to receive that much snowfall. So when I woke up on Christmas day my neighborhood looked exactly like the end of a Christmas movie. It was perfect.

What’s the best part of Xmas for you?

I love so much about Christmas—putting up lights and decorations, shopping for and wrapping gifts, even Christmas music (I know, I know). But I think my very favorite thing is experiencing the traditions that have built up over the years. What food you eat, where you go and on what day, how the presents are opened, all of it. And it’s interesting to see how things vary from family to family. For example, in my dad’s family, gifts are opened in a frenzy of flying ribbons and paper, with people shouting thank you across the room, just on the off-chance the giver hears it. In my mom’s family, gifts are opened in a neat, orderly fashion, one person at a time while everyone snaps photos. I love the contrast.

As a kid every year my Christmases were the exact same. Now that I’m adult those childhood traditions don’t fit anymore, and every year I find myself creating new ones. It’s exciting!

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

Hmmn, good question.

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a stand-alone novel, but I am working on a couple of new novels that are similar in style and theme.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do have a set of writing goals for the year: revise and complete two YA novels and at least one adult novel.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be?

Cat: Happy holidays! Hope you get all the presents you want.

Finn: May this time of year be full of happiness for you.

Where can fans find you online?

I’m on Twitter at @mitchondrial (https://twitter.com/mitochondrial), on Facebook as Cassandra Rose Clarke (https://www.facebook.com/authorcassandraroseclarke) , and of course I have a website at cassandraroseclarke.com.

Book review: The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pierce

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Synopsis:

16 year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her… She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.

And then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret-society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… And where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death. Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him? And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book. It is such an interesting concept and really sets the start of an amazing YA series. The character of Taylor was written well, it was just like I remember school being and how I felt when when I was a teen  – although I didn’t have to deal with ghosts and murderers (that I’ll admit to anyway!)

From a writer’s perspective, it was a little jumpy in places, although I’m assuming that was because I was reading an Advanced Reader Copy. It had an interesting murder mystery running alongside the supernatural plot, however for me it was easy to work out what happened – maybe because I’m an adult? I could have done with a few more red herrings and twists in that department.

The paranormal story arc is based on Egyptian legend, however with the main character being of Chinese heritage, I did feel that the author missed an opportunity. China’s legends are strong and rich and I was surprised that the story wasn’t rooted there rather than a separate, and much more over-used, culture as Egypt. In my opinion, the story would have better if it has been more culturally linear.

The front cover is stunning and really captures the essence, dare I say soul, of the book and I think the artist really portrayed Taylor’s character.

Overall, I’d give The Weight of Souls 4 out of 5 starts. I great read that felt like it finished too soon – so lets hope there’s another in the pipeline – it was certainly set up well in the end to carry on.

Also, don’t forget, the publishers Strange Chemistry (YA imprint of UK publishers Angry Robot) currently have their door wide open for un-agented submissions. If you want to pop along and feel the draft: Strange Chemistry Open Door 2013  I know that I’m currently beavering away on something for to send in.

Now, if you want to enjoy The Weight of Souls yourself, you’ll have hang on till August 2013 – but you can pre-order here on Amazon.co.uk