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This week I am mostly:

Listening to: Little Trouble Girl, by Sonic Youth. I recommend everyone else does, too.

Excited about: Seeing Throwing Muses twice in September, both times with Tanya Donnelly performing too! I booked the tickets a week ago but still get thrills every time I remember it’s happening.

Why yes, I did wear a lot of flannel in the 90s. How astute of you.

Reading: have started three books & not settled on any of them as my main read yet. They are: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken, one of my favourites from school (I remember it being Extremely Dramatic when I was about seven, wolves nipping at carriages in the snow).
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, Neil Gaiman, which I’ve had waiting since Ruth & Clara & I saw Sir Gaiman at the Peacock Theatre last year. The Hempstocks have just been introduced. Porridge, ponds & the second sight – they remind me a bit of my fortune-telling Nan.
Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore, which I bought for my mum for her birthday but have greedily kept for myself instead. This is a big hardback that I am too lazy to lug around, though, so I might let her have it after all & buy myself the Kindle version. I’ll miss the pretty maps inside the cover, but have a better chance of finishing it that way & I’m eager to return to Monsea.

Circling around: starting the next rewrite of my novel. At the moment I’m at the standing far away, prodding it with sticks, ready to bolt at the slightest provocation stage. I know I’ve been at this stage before, because I made this sign for myself last year:

I’ve  launched a counter-offence against the draft-bomb by telling people I’m going to let them read it in August. THIS AUGUST. 2014. Gulp.  I have to gussy it up a lot before then. Which means this blog post gets  classified under Procrastination, and must be stopped…

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Bank Holiday shelfie & the Boreanaz Equation

Bank Holiday weekend’s RULE. Enough time to write loads & still mess around doodling & watching Bones.

Deal is: for every 3k, I get 45 minutes of Boreanaz. Turns out rewards like this work better than ‘3k and then you don’t have to write any more’, to which my me would reply ‘But I’m already not writing! Let’s just stay here doing that!’.

Here’s my non-Boreanaz view, the books in reach of my desk. The ones to remind me how to write when I forget.

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Oh how I loved Scorpio Races

Beautiful. i wanted to go straight from the ending to the first page, so i could read it again. My mum did, too.

It’s so warm and no darkness. Love that made me cheer but tender and innocent. It’s beautfiul and it’s scary but, i dunno, wholesome? Reminds me of all the books I was passionate about as a 12 year old, the Silver Brumby series that I took everywhere with me. The horses in the fields behind my Nan’s old house, the fields that are motorway now. It made me want to run to the Shetlands/etc, but not to stay too long, cos there’s magic in them there hills. Magic that might eat me.

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Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton coverJust noticed that I hadn’t cross posted this review here yet – whoops. This was written for Slacker Heroes and first posted there in April.

I’ve just finished (and loved) Sacrificial Magic and Beautiful Creatures so, given that this one also has spells and magic in it, it’s fair to say I’ve been in a witchy phase this year. Way more fun than vamps & weres.

Have just checked Goodreads and the sequel to Blood Magic (The Blood Keeper) should be out later this summer – fab. I’ll definitely be reading it.

Got any suggestions as to other spooky-dark stories I can try in the meantime? Let me know!

Here’s the review –

It’s been a month or so since I finished Blood Magic, and I keep being disappointed when I pick up my Kindle and remember that I’m reading something else now, that I’ve left that world and those characters. I’d say that’s a sign of a good book, wouldn’t you?

It’s the story of seventeen-year-old Silla, a girl whose hands are heavy with the rings her father gave her, one for every birthday since she turned nine. A father who committed suicide after killing her mother. Silla was the one who found their bodies, but she’s sure there’s more to the events than has been discovered. She’s looking for answers in the mysterious book that arrived after their death. A book of spells written in her father’s hand.

Silla’s not the only one whose parents had secrets. Nick, the long-limbed new boy, has memories he’d rather forget, but coming back to the town his mother grew up in is stirring up the past and linking him to Silla in improbable ways.

So, we’ve got magic, death and secrets straight from the start. Yum! I’m a sucker for some good ol’ runes and pentacles, and the spells and rituals in this were very satisfying, very cool. We also get crows cawing and circling and beautiful, tree-heavy graveyards. These images are recognisable and classic, but felt fresh and aren’t something I’ve read much of recently, outside of Stacia Kane’s Downside series (which is definitely for an older readership). It felt fresh for YA, and the writing is atmospheric and compelling.

The narration swaps between Silla and Nick and it drew me in really quickly. I loved the way Gratton describes Nick, “He was so gangly and tall. Like half-grown animals, when their paws are still too big, and their legs way too long, and you know they’re going to grow into it all eventually and be the handsomest thing you ever saw”. I think it sums up the gawkishness of teenage boys very well, and emphasises how these characters are nearly – but not quite – on the verge of adulthood. I don’t think Nick would really be that into me, since he goes for bird-thin, blood-covered, fucked up 17-year-old orphans and I am almost exactly the opposite, but I’d still be happy to help him with his homework. Silla’s a teenage drama student whose parents both died recently in a gruesome murder-suicide, so of course her chapters are a little over the top with purple prose, but it works. It’s authentic.

Silla and Nick fall for each other very quickly – that’s not a spoiler, since their feelings are clear from the start. At first the speed made me twitch – was this realistic? – until I remembered high school, and how emotions, friendships, love and hate really did move that fast. I don’t know how we managed to pack in so much drama between Double Maths, netball and French but believe me, we did. A whole social network could dissolve and reform in a day, and people were always dating someone else’s ex or crush or brother or something – who knows why, did we think there weren’t enough boys to go around or something? Anyway. I don’t think a teen audience or someone familiar with that would find the speed of the relationship or the intensity of their devotion hard to believe.

The power of the spells and the shadow hanging over these two grows stronger with every chapter and I raced through to the end, despite the novel’s length. I see from Tessa’s website that there’s a stand-alone companion novel coming out this year, and I’m already looking forward to reading it. Another sign of a good book. Pick it up, let me know what you think. And if you see a strange figure in a graveyard, just stay away from it, alright?

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