Synopsis: 64-year-old Albert Entwistle has been postie in a quiet town in Northern England for all his life, living alone since the seat of his mam 18 years ago. He keeps himself to himself. He always has. But he’s just learned he’ll be forced to retire at his next birthday. With no friends and nothing to look forward to, the lonely future he faces terrifies him. He realises it’s finally time to be honest about who he is. He must learn to ask for what he wants. And he must find the courage to look for George, the man that, many years ago, he lost – but has never forgot…
The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is a reminder that it’s never to late to follow our hearts and be who we are.
There’s so much to love about this book. It’s got fantastic characters, a heartwarming story and an important message. It’s full of charm, heart and joy.
We follow Albert who keeps himself to himself and hides who he is from the outside world. Alberts journey is one of my favourite things about this book. To see him come into his own is so wonderful. And I really like how Matt has done it, it’s gradual and subtle. You’ll just fall in love with him. I also loved seeing make connections with other people, especially Nicole.
Nicole was also a great character to follow throughout the book. I loved the friendship that they formed. I also loved how their friendship was based on them both following their hearts.
Oh the romance. I thought it was beautiful. I was longing to Albert to reunited with George. No spoilers here so I won’t say if it happens but the whole thing had a real quality to it. The sections that go into the past so were so sweet but heartbreaking. Matt really captures the atmosphere of the time.
I really like how this novel tackles internalised homophobia, we need more of this in commercial fiction. You can see where Albert still has moments of shame as he is learning to accept himself, and its done so well. You can also see it when Albert meets the gay couple that moves into the village. I also really liked how Matt captures the atmosphere of Alberts childhood and how it stayed with him. It’s something we see so often and I think Matt handles it with real integrity and honesty.
Also, while reading this I couldn’t help but think this will make a brilliant tv series.
The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle really was a wonderful read that you won’t want to put down and one with characters you’ll fall in love with. It’s also pride next month and this is the perfect read for it. Don’t miss this one.
Thank so much to Headline Review for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out May 27th.
Synopsis: A strange darkness is growing in the Ward. Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea. Fate knocks on her door, in the form of a mythical immortal and a lethal assassin, who tell Corayne that she is the last of an ancient lineage – with the power to save the world from destruction. Because a man who would burn kingdoms to the ground is raising an army unlike any seen before, bent on uprooting the foundations of the world. With poison in his heart and a stolen sword in his hand, he’ll break the realm itself to claim it. And only Corayne can stop him.
Ok, I’m starting this review literally minutes after I’ve just finished the book and all I have to say is AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!I’ve really struggled getting into fantasy over the last couple of years, with a few exceptions, but with Realm Breaker I think I may have found a new all time favourite series. Just a quick warning there will be spoilers in this review.I loved everything about this book. Literally everything. I can’t think of one single thing I didn’t enjoy. I mean what’s not to love? It got great characters, epic action, brilliant world building and some page-turning plot twists. Ok lets start with the characters, I love them all. They all own my heart, yes even Erida. Read the book and you’ll know why I’m saying that! The story is told through five perspectives and each one was just as enjoyable as the other. Victoria has written such strong characters, each one so different, that I slowly grew to love them all. Seriously. Even the supporting characters that didn’t get a perspective, I still really loved. They were just all full of personality and they had such great character development. I really mean it, the seven (even Erida) have a place in my heart.I also loved how the characters relationship developed. The pacing of it was really well done. You can feel them slowly becoming a team whilst still being unsure of each other at times and it’s fantastic to read, Victoria strikes the balance really well. And I lived for the banter, especially between Dom and Sorasa. I’m also really excited to see how the friendship will deepen in book two. Ugh, I just love them. Now, this is a SUPER SPOILER, but I kinda ship Erida and Taristan. I know I shouldn’t because they want to hurt my loves, but I do. I know they’re only married to help each other but I can sort of feel a connection building or maybe its Victoria tricking me, either way I’m excited for more. I feel likes there could be more relationships between some of the seven, and I’ve got my ideas of who but I’ll keep them to myself and just be taken along for the ride. And yes, I need Charlon and Garion to reunite and I need that queer love story. That’s all I have to say.I loved the world Victoria has created. It feels expansive but not overwhelming. It’s called ‘Allward’ and it feels like a fresh universe. I really liked how the characters had connections to the some of places and it just made it feel real to me. The characters went to many different places and each place was different and I never got confused. The world is written beautifully. I loved looking at the map to see where the characters were (sad I know but true). It feels cohesive and I’m looking forward to it being explored more in book two. There’s some magic to this book that I really love. The love the whole idea of Spindles and other realms, it’s so exciting (and scary) to see how this will expand in book two. It’s a unique magical world with wizards, elders, spindleblood and I think Victoria has crafted it really well. Expertly well. It’s my favourite fantasy setting for a long time. I think this is a really well paced book in every sense. It’s Like I before with the character development and relationships, its also applies to the world building and magic. There’s so much more it explore. It just felt exciting to read, even when the characters were just travelling I was excited. It full of action, really well written action. It was so cinematic, I could see it so clearly in my head I loved it. It was full of twists and turns, some of them making my jaw hit the floor. I didn’t see them coming and I’m still shocked now. And don’t talk to me about that last page!! How could you end it like that Victoria!! I’m not sure if you could tell but I loved this book. LOVED IT! It’s one of those books that I took my time reading (even though I wanted to devour it) because I was just loving every page and I didn’t want it to end and I know I was going to miss this world and these characters when I was done! So I’m going to need fan art, special editions, merchandise and a tv series (you know its a good idea). I can’t wait to collect it all. I need book two. I need it now. But I guess I’ll just have to wait…Thank you so much to Orion for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out May 4th.
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these blog posts, so I figured it’s about time. This is just a fun way to show what I’m reading in real time, as I’m always bit slow in uploading my reviews.
What is WWW Wednesday? WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme where all you have to do is answer three simple questions. Look at me using the word meme! I feel so young!
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading recently?
What are you planning to read next?
So let’s start shall we?
What are you currently reading?
I’ve been lucky enough to receive a proof the new Sarah Winman novel Still Life that’s our in June and I couldn’t resist picking it up an longer. I’ve only got 150 pages left and I simply don’t want it to end (although I am going to pick it up as soon as I finish writing this blog post, so I will probably finish it tonight). I’m absolutely loving it. It’s a beautiful story, it’s got beautiful characters. It’s brilliant. It’s out June 10th.
What have you finished reading recently?
I recently finished Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard which is a fantasy book I absolutely loved. I think it’s a brilliant start to a new series that has potential to become my favourite. I loved the characters, the magic, the world. And I love where this story can go. I’m so excited to see more of this world Victoria has created. And yes, I’ve ordered two copies of this book. It’s out May 4th.
What are you reading next?
This is always such a difficult question for me as I never know what to read next. It’s usually dictated by which proof I have to read before it’s release date, but there’s so many fantastic books that I want to read. But I do have a couple of choices.
Male Tears by Benjamin Myers, which is out tomorrow, is kind of tempting me but kind of not. But I might give it a go.
Or I might choose We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida, which is out May 14th. I received this in the post the other day and it’s just tempting me.
So, that’s my reading update. Let me know what you’re reading or if you’re going to read any of these!
Synopsis: As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the terrible bellows of the Minotaur baying for blood from the Labryinth beneath the palace. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as an offering to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus defeat the monster means betraying her family. Ariadne has heard too many tales of women being punished for the acts of men – she is determined to set her own fate. But will her decision to help Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
There is so much to love about Ariadne from the characters, the story and the beautiful writing. If you’re a fan of Greek Mythology retelling or you know just fantastic books, you’ll love Ariadne.
It usually takes me a while to get into books but as soon as I started reading Ariadne I was totally into the story within the first few pages. It’s immediately captivating as you learn about the characters and this beautiful world. This really is a testament to Jennifer’s writing.
Ariadne is such a wonderful character, who I immediately warmed to and connected with. Also, just sot clarify that I knew nothing of Ariadne’s story before so you don’t need to know, you’ll still enjoy this book. She just feels a very real character. Phaedra is also a wonderful character. And what I really loved about this book is that it really celebrates womanhood and sisterhood. The sisters are surrounded by powerful men and Gods, but its the sisters that power the story, it the sister that the readers will love.
One of my favourite things about this book is Jennifers beautiful writing. It’s so lyrical and stunning. The writing totally captures you and transports you to Ancient Greece. Jennifer weaves a compelling story of love, betrayal (which had me jaw hitting the floor) and taking your destiny into your own hands. As I’m sure you can tell I loved the book and the writing.
Something I really enjoyed while reading this book is that when Ariadne meets different characters in this book, they tell her a story and as the reader you get a story within the story and I just absolutely loved it.
Ariadne is a beautiful read that I couldn’t put down but didn’t want to end. Definitely don’t miss this beautiful book. I’ll look forward to reading whatever Jennifer writes next.
Thanks to Caitlin at Headline for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out April 29th.
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is a survivor. For ten years, she has worked as the healer in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, making herself indispensable. Kept afloat by messages of hope from her family, Kiva has one goal and goal only: stay alive. Then one day the infamous Rebel Queen arrives prison on death’s door, and disrupts all of Kiva’s carefully laid plans. The queen is sentenced to the Trial by Ordeal; a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to the only the most dangerous of criminals. Aware the sickly queen has little chance of making it through the Trials alive, Kiva volunteers to take her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom. But no one has ever survived.
I’m super excited to be taking part in the social media blast for this book. Make sure you check out all these other posts to see what they have to say.
Let me just state the facts: this is book is brilliant. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this book, but that is the whole point of a review so I’m gonna try.
You are so immersed in the story right from the very first page. The setting of the story being set in a prison is so enjoyable and unique. I haven’t read a young adult book like this. And considering you don’t leave the prison for the majority of the book, it never becomes boring or stale. I think thats a sign of a great book.
There’s so many fantastic characters in The Prison Healer and I especially enjoyed Kiva. She’s the main protagonist and she’s really likeable. She carries the story, and has great depth and complexity. There’s also brilliant side characters like Jarden and Tipp, you feel them become a team and its so enjoyable to read. There was also a romance that I was a total sucker for. It was really believable and I wanted more.
There is a lot going on this book but it never becomes messy. Lynette manages to tie it all together brilliantly and the plot never got lost. There’s a trail, theres a rebel queen outside the prison gates stirring trouble in the prison. It just felt like a really layered story. A story that I couldn’t put down and one I didn’t want to end.
Now can we talk about that ending?! Can we? Because you know I need to. It is going to be hard to talk about without giving away any spoilers, but I’m going to try. Let me just say it was epic. EPIC! There was a twist that I did see coming, but I didn’t find that disappointed it was still really interesting. But then. THEN. Those last few pages, that second twist. I didn’t see it coming, my jaw was on the floor y’all.
I can’t recommend this book enough. I think this is a brilliant start to a new young adult series. It’s imaginative, exciting, gripping and epic. I loved it. It was also so much fun to actually crack the code at the end.
All I have left to say is I need book two. I need it now. I better not have to wait long.
Thank you so much to Kate at Hodder & Stoughton for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. This one is out now.
Synopsis: Have you ever imagined running away from your life? Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems… Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)? And can she herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)?
So excited to be on the blog tour for this book. Make sure you check out all the other bloggers to see what they’ve got to say.
Listen, if you’ve read my blog before you know I’m a slow reader, but let me tell you I read this book in a day. That never happens to me. Ever. I just couldn’t put the book down.
Birdy was such a great character to follow. She was funny, relatable and you could tell she was sad and had a heart of gold. I just warmed to her instantly. She was honest. You also meet a lot of other great characters that were fantastic. Irene, James and Roxy. I really just loved them all. I loved the connection that Birdy had with them all.
Here was my favourite thing about the book, I loved the how the characters all came together to try and make the hotel a success. I loved reading it. I was desperately wanted Birdy to help them make it succeed, thats why I couldn’t put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen. I also loved that Birdy trained secretly to help. It was so endearing.
Now, I have to be honest and say that I don’t usually enjoy books when the main character is lying to everyone around them. It actually really annoys me. But in The Summer Job, it didn’t annoy me at all. I think it was because Birdy was such a great character. And it was obvious that she really cared about the people around her and the hotel.
There’s a romance, that I’m not going to say who its between because no spoilers, but I was totally into it. It was believable, romantic and well developed and I was excited to see how it was going to end. That’s all I’ll say, you’ll find out more when you read it.
I can’t recommend The Summer Job enough, its a funny, charming and endearing book thats a great read. I’ll look forward to reading whatever Lizzy Dent writes next.
Thanks to Viking Books UK for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out April 15th.
I’m super excited to be on the Blog Tour for this wonderful book! Make sure you check out these other brilliant book bloggers.
Synopsis: King Cador’s children inherit a war-torn land, abandoned by the Romans. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. Since dreams of love and longs for adventure. All three will become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.
I absolutely loved this book. Sistersong is the kind of historical fiction that reminds me why I love this genre. The story is gripping and engaging right away. Usually it takes me a while to get into the story but with Sistersong I was immersed instantly. The whole book had such a charm to it.
I really enjoyed all the characters in this book. I loved all of the sisters, Riva, Kenye and Sinne. I’m sitting trying to decide which was my favourite but I loved them all. Each perspective was incredibly interesting, and the characters all so different and well written that I always knew which perspective I was reading. I loved all the individual journeys they went on. It was brilliant.
Kenye also goes on a really personal journey, that I won’t go into to much detail, because you’ll discover it when you read the book but I thought it was really well done. I found it emotional, especially when their sisters accepted them. And I loved it was tied into the old folklore. It was brilliantly done. And I loved to see this topic in a historical fiction book. I know that was vague, read the book you’ll get it.
There was a couple of romances in this book that I’m going to try and take about without spoiling it for you. I’m not going to say who the character of Tristan has romance with, but damn I was invested. But I also couldn’t decide if I could trust him and it kept me so intrigued. The other romance in the book was sweeter and much more subtle but no less enjoyable. They were both so well written, neither were really the main focus of the book, but they were so believable. Super enjoyable.
I loved the magical element to the book, and again I thought it was really well done. I loved how it didn’t over power the whole novel, because the other elements of the novel were so well done.
I think you’ve got the message that I thought this book was really well done and the ending didn’t disappoint. Lucy Holland had built such moment that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It felt like a very cinematic ending. I can’t help but think this book would make a brilliant mini-series. I mean, it would be amazing!!
Also can we talk about how stunning the cover is!?
I can’t recommend this book. It’s a fantastical historical fiction that is brilliantly written and fully immersive that you won’t be able to pit down. It’s out now.
Thanks to Stephen at Panmacillan for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. Thanks for having me on the Blog Tour.
March has come and gone. It once again flew by, and it was my last full month being furloughed as restaurants can open again in April if they have outdoor space, so I’m going back to work. Which will mean less reading time, but I’m excited to go back. Who knew I’d miss baking cakes and scones!
I did manage to read eleven books this month. Which I believe is a record for me. I would’ve read more but I got a stomach bug just after my birthday and it slowed me down. But I’m still proud of eleven. Let’s see if I can achieve the same in April!
So lets talk about the books shall we?
First up was Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro. You know, this book just wasn’t for me. I found it dull, and I never wanted to pick it up. Also, the whole point if this book is the friendship between the main characters and I didn’t believe. I felt absolutely no connection between them, so for me the book ultimately failed. But who knows, you might love this one. It’s out now. Thanks to the publishers for my copy.
Then I read Sistersong by Lucy Holland. I absolutely loved this one, much more than I expected to. It was a brilliant historical fiction novel, with great magic and fantastic characters. I flew through it and I’ll kook forward to whatever Lucy writes next. Thank to the publishers for my copy if this book. It’s out now.
Next up I read A Lonely Man by Chris Power. This was a subtly intense thriller that I really enjoyed. It’s detailed, it keeps you guessing as to whether the character is telling the truth. And I loved the ending. The book was so good you wanted it to carry on, but the ending was taught and open. It was fantastic. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.
Fourth up I read The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud. This is the beginning of a brilliant new teen series that I think everyone can enjoy. It was action packed, the world was interning and epic and the characters were fantastic to follow. I am looking forward to reading this series. It’s out now. Thanks to the publishers for my copy.
Up next was Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. I absolutely loved this book. From beginning to end. It was intriguing, I loved the main character and I thought the ending was epic. Thanks to the publisher for my copy. It’s out now.
Then I read An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon. There were definitely parts that I liked, and I loved the epilogue but for some reasons, I just couldn’t totally emotionally invest in the book. I really don’t know why. It’s usually kind of book I adore. I found the writing slightly jarring at times, it didn’t quite flow. I wonder if I reread this book if I’d love it. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.
Seventh up this month I read In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. What an incredible book. It’s exquisite. This queer nonfiction memoir is a work of art. Carmen writes from her soul. I’m so glad I picked this one up. It blew me away. A new favourite. It’s out now.
Next I read The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni. You know when you’re into a book from the first page. That was this book for me. I loved the concept. I loved the story. Loved the characters and all the twists and turns. And that ending? It can’t leave me waiting like that. This was just how I like my young adult books. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. Out in April.
Then I read Lean, Fall, Stand by Jon McGregor. This one started off so strong. Incredibly strong. It’s intense, it’s exciting, its dangerous and I was loving it. Then there was a shift in the plot, and I was still really enjoying it and I was thinking it was going to be a five star book, but towards the end it just lost it for me. I found myself skimming the pages. It just lost my interest, I could see what the author was trying to do but it didn’t work for me. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out April 13th.
For my ninth book I read Fragile Monsters by Catherine Menon. This book just unfortunately wasn’t for me. There was to much going on in the plot, with not enough of it being dealt with in detail. It didn’t care for any of the characters at all. And the writing felt off to me, it felt clunky. Nope, this book wasn’t it for me. Thanks to the publisher for my gifted copy. It’s out April 8th.
Lastly I read Witches Steeped In Gold by Ciannon Smart. This was my third time trying to read this book, I’d put it down twice as I couldn’t get into it, but this time I managed to finish it. For me, it wasn’t worth it. It was long and dense. The first 150 pages were just explaining the complex magic system. I did start to get into it more once we’d passed this but I never felt engaged or attached to the characters. I’m not saying this is a terrible book by any means, and I know many people love it. For me, there’s better fantasy books out there. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out April 20th.
That was it! That was my reading month. I can’t tell you how much I adored In The Dream House.
Have you read any of these, or do you plan to? Let me know.
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Daunis’s mixed heritage has always made her feel like an outsider, both in her hometown and in the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When she witnesses a shocking murder, she reluctantly agrees to be part of a covert FBI operation into a series of drug-related deaths. In secret, she pursues her own investigation using her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the criminals. However, the deceptions – and deaths – keep piling up and soon the threat strikes to close to home. Now Daunis must decide what it means to a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe women), and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
As you’re going to read in the rest of this review, I absolutely adored this book. I thought it was just brilliant. From beginning to end. I will say this book definitely deals with some difficult things so definitely check the trigger warnings for sexual assaults, drugs, grief, death. But I will say they are all dealt with honestly and lots of integrity.
The story right from the beginning was extremely intriguing. There were so many ways I could see the story going and it made it exciting to read. And it was all so detailed. Angeline really has written the perfect balance of character development, romance (yes there’s a romance that I thought was totally believable and sweet), mystery and action.
We follow the main character Daunis as she agrees to help the FBI in an an operation of drug related deaths, and she’s a brilliant character. She’s so complex and has such depth. It makes her so interesting to read. I love how smart she is and I love her how proud she was of her tribe and to an Ojibwe women. So great to see this in a YA book and In such a positive way.
Loved learning about Native American culture. Obviously it wasn’t this books job it educate me, but it did. But it never felt like an information dump, it showed us what we needed to know, then it showed us profound things. I loved learning about the traditions and some of them are absolutely beautiful. It was just detailed in the best way. It was brilliant own voices representation that we need more of.
I absolutely loved the ending to Firekeeper’s Daughter. The momentum and story had been building and the intensity had been growing so I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It was also action packed! It had me on the edge of my seat. I also personally didn’t figure out the mystery. It was just so epic.
Listen, if it’s done right, this will make the perfect mini-series. I can see it in my head so clearly. It’s begging to be made. It felt cinematic. Netflix, you need to get on this, but don’t mess it up. This book deserves only the best.
I can’t wait for you to read this book and see all the intricacies of it. You won’t regret reading this brilliant young adult book. I’ll look forward to whatever Angeline Boulley writes next.
Thank you to Rock The Boat for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out April 1st.
I’m very excited to be a part of the Blog Tour The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud. And I’m very lucky that Jonathan has written a blog post about his experience writing this book.
Jonathan talks about the writing process, drafting, editing and much more and it’s incredibly interesting to read. There’s some great advice here for writers so this is a great read. So, lets go.
Jonathan Stroud Writing The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne
Hello. I’ve recently finished writing my novel, The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne. When I get to the end of a big project like this, my office is always festooned with papery debris that’s built up over weeks and months as I wrestled the book into shape. Sooner or later, I’ll summon the energy to roll up my sleeves, fortify myself with a stiff drink, and get rid of a lot of it, before filing the key bits away in the loft. But I haven’t done this for Outlaws yet, which gives me the chance to look here at some of the stages the book went through over the last three years…
1. First Notes
I began thinking about the new project at the start of 2018, a few months after my last Lockwood & Co. book had been published. I knew straight away that I wanted it to be set in a post-apocalyptic future Britain, where events had made the country much more dangerous and strange. I also knew that it would feature a river journey along the Thames, probably with a raft involved, and that there would be bit of a Western vibe. These elements survived to the final book, but other things were very different – for example, at the outset the main character was a middle-aged man, who met a couple of children on a wrecked bus in the wilderness. These pages of early notes show a diagram of one of the fortified ‘Surviving Towns’ and also a sketch of the crashed bus – both these ideas are still in the finished book, three years later.
2. Early Structure
After a couple of months making notes and writing fragmentary scenes, I tried figuring out the book’s structure – you can see the attempt here. It’s always good to do this, because it helps throw up problems, of which, in this case, there were many. My main issue was that the main character (here known as Bob Choi) didn’t work, but I didn’t realise this yet. He rescues a couple of children from a bus (chapter 3), takes them across the wilds, discovers they are being pursued by bad guys (ch 5), and escapes with them along the Thames (ch 7). All these elements make it (in a different form) into the eventual book, as does the climax in some half-submerged ruins in the London Lagoon (ch 17). But Bob Choi would have to go.
3. Still Struggling
Incredibly, though, he was still there eight months later, at the end of 2018, when these particular notes were done. I was having real problems making the book work, and you can see me here still trying to figure out the structure and rhythm of the book – how the plot would string together in a kind of necklace of ‘crises’ and ‘phases’. I was missing the point: the dynamic between my characters wasn’t working, and that’s the engine that ultimately powers a successful book. It took till early 2019, a full year after starting, that Bob Choi was booted out, and Scarlett McCain took over his role as the dangerous but reluctantly compassionate hero. At least in these notes here, I was having fun sketching toothed birds and giant mud-rats, and was profitably employed thinking about the accelerated evolution of the fauna of my future England.
4. Map Sketch
One thing that never altered, through the whole two and a half years of writing, was the idea of the river journey, from source to outflow, down the Thames. Towards the end of the project, when I knew pretty well how the story worked, I drew up this sketch map of the river and the London Lagoon (our London has vanished within it). It mostly follows the real course of the Thames, with a few tweaks and changes, such as the kingdoms (Mercia, Wessex, Anglia) that it passes through, the absence of most towns, and the promotion of a few real towns and villages to a more important status. I always like drawing maps: it has the same effect for me as it does for the reader, and helps anchor my characters’ travels securely in the mind.
5. Note Files
By the time a book like this is finished, I usually have a couple of ring-binders like these, filled with all the notes I made at every stage of the composition. I file them chronologically, so I can look back and check stuff, and also roll my eyes at all the false starts and appalling cul-de-sacs I explored along the way.
I’ve lost track of how many drafts The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne went through, but you can see from this pile that it’s quite a lot. Early on there were two or three ‘unfinished’ drafts, where I got to a certain point, realised that it wasn’t working, and stopped to recalibrate, before starting again. Certain scenes that worked, however, were transposed almost word-for-word between them. There were probably at least four complete drafts after that, inching ever closer to the desired result. At each point I thought I’d cracked it, only for a re-read to show me that I needed to try again. Phew, just looking at this pile makes me feel a bit tired! Forget raft trips down the Thames – writing a novel is an epic journey in itself, but it’s all worth it in the end.
How amazing was that? Thank you so much Jonathan for doing this and for all the great information.
I was also lucky enough to read an early copy of this book, and it’s fantastic. It’s a brilliant start to a new teen series, its action packed, its got great world building and was full of intrigue. My favourite thing were the characters. They were brilliant. I enjoyed Scarlett & Browne so much. They made me laugh out loud, and I loved the connection Jonathan creates between them. I really believed their friendship. Now I’ve got to wait for book two, that I am definitely looking forward to.
Thanks again to Jonathan and make sure you check out all the other bloggers taking part. You can even read the first two chapters of this book. The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne is out April 1st.