ThirstForFiction http://www.thirstforfiction.com A YA Book Review Blog Fri, 14 Jul 2017 11:18:47 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 End of an Era http://www.thirstforfiction.com/life/end-of-an-era http://www.thirstforfiction.com/life/end-of-an-era#respond Fri, 14 Jul 2017 11:12:58 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?p=5169 Continue reading ]]> In case you hadn’t already noticed, ThirstForFiction hasn’t seen a new post in a long, long time. With everything that’s happening (university, jobs) my pleasure-reading time is decreasing and erratic in its schedule. I’m also ready to start reading more widely: whilst I am and will be reading more YA, I’m less interested in reading all of it as I am reading the best of it. Which means I will rely on the reviews of others to tell me what to read!

When I began ThirstForFiction, in 2010, I had no idea what it would become. At first, it was a tool to document my reading; later it would become a platform by which I would meet new friends and understand the publishing industry in more depth. It also allowed me to read voraciously; receiving proofs and review copies allowed me to read more (and more widely) than I could ever afford as a teenager. And perhaps, most of all, it showed me what I could be and who I could become as a gay teenager.

So it is with some nostalgia that I will be shuttering ThirstForFiction, but I am excited for the future. I am about to embark upon my third year of university, in which I will be on an exchange program to the United States. If you’d like to follow my journey you are welcome to do so on by personal blog, rhyswjones.com, my instagram rhyswjones or on Twitter – @RhysWolfgang. For the time being, ThirstforFiction will stay around as an archive – I am still proud of the reviews I have written – though I will no longer be accepting review copies.

Thank you all.

 

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Gemina http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/gemina http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/gemina#respond Tue, 18 Oct 2016 08:48:53 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?post_type=reviews&p=5160 At first glance, Gemina feels familiar. Instead of on the science vessel Hypatia we’re on the Jump Station Heimdall: a wormhole that ports between several points in the universe. Here, as in Illuminae, claustrophobia and enemy agents threaten the survival of our two new protagonists: Nik and Hannah (honestly, it’s amazing how many heterosexual couples … Continue reading ]]>

At first glance, Gemina feels familiar. Instead of on the science vessel Hypatia we’re on the Jump Station Heimdall: a wormhole that ports between several points in the universe. Here, as in Illuminae, claustrophobia and enemy agents threaten the survival of our two new protagonists: Nik and Hannah (honestly, it’s amazing how many heterosexual couples exist in the far future) as they battle their way against Bei Tech insurgents trying to cover up the genocide within the Kerenza system. So far so derivative. But Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff quickly manage to differentiate their characters as well as their story, and we’re head first into another against-all-odds survival story set against the cold, unfeeling stars of galaxies far, far away.

As you’d expect from a survival story, the real motivation of the story is to remain alive. Thrillingly, Kaufman and Kristoff remain bloodthirsty authors, with barely a life spared, it seems. It’s necessary and provides a compelling danger for our protagonists – it never feels like anyone is safe from the chopping board, even Nik or Hannah who carry the novel.

As with Illuminae, Gemina is told in a found-footage style dossier. It works, now that we’re used to the manner in which it operates. Yet many novels can be improved with a little unorthodox story telling. No, the real victory here is the breathless and frankly unimaginably exciting story at the core of Gemina – a cinematic odyssey with enough sudden twists that you’ll need blood pressure tablets. It’s thrilling, pacy and addictive, and Kristoff and Kaufman are ingenious. If ever there’s a series to kickstart a trend for YA sci-fi, it’s the Illuminae files.

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Want editorial feedback on a short story? (Publishing Call) http://www.thirstforfiction.com/uncategorized/want-editorial-feedback-short-story-publishing-call http://www.thirstforfiction.com/uncategorized/want-editorial-feedback-short-story-publishing-call#respond Wed, 05 Oct 2016 15:37:34 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?p=5155 Continue reading ]]> Publishing Call for LGBT YA Christmas Short

My name is Rhys Jones, I’m an established blogger (http://www.thirstforfiction.com) in the UK book blogging community since 2010. I am currently studying for a BA in American and English Literature at the University of East Anglia. I will be taking part in a publishing module in the autumn of 2016 which will require an original work for assessment.

I am looking for writers (previously published or unpublished) interested in submitting a short story – around 20 pages – for use within my project. If chosen, you will receive my editorial guidance as well as a design, marketing, publicity and distribution proposal (these are the elements I will be assessed upon).

Final distribution of the text is not necessary for my assessment, but I would like to approach this as a real-world scenario and would be extremely open to publication via eBook. This would, of course, be with your permission and involvement.

My Experience

I have no ‘real world’ experience with publication. I have, however, spent over 5 years within the publishing industry, including two weeks work experience at Egmont Children’s Publishers. I have reviewed a wide range of middle grade and young adult fiction; you can read those at http://www.thirstforfiction.com/. My design experience extends to my blog as well as the poster and publicity materials for several stageplays.

What I’m Looking For

Ideally, I’m looking for a gay/LGBT Christmas-themed YA short story in the vein of Let It Snow or My True Love Gave to Me. However, I will consider any YA short, particularly if LGBT themed. The text should be around 20 pages long or around 10,000 words.

How To Submit

Submission is to rhys@rhyswjones.com with the following:

  • a completed manuscript; or
  • a story outline and proposal, with 2 pages of a previous work.

For any other questions don’t hesitate to email me or find me on twitter @RhysWolfgang

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Carry On http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/carry-on http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/carry-on#respond Sat, 23 Jul 2016 12:02:49 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?post_type=reviews&p=5150 Harry Potter has become such a large part of our cultural consciousness that Rainbow Rowell’s obvious spoof is brilliant in and of itself. Irreverent and tongue-in-cheek, Carry On has its own kind of heart that makes this pastiche a warm novel you can’t help but smile about. Off to a slow start, Carry On takes … Continue reading ]]>

Harry Potter has become such a large part of our cultural consciousness that Rainbow Rowell’s obvious spoof is brilliant in and of itself. Irreverent and tongue-in-cheek, Carry On has its own kind of heart that makes this pastiche a warm novel you can’t help but smile about.

Off to a slow start, Carry On takes its time establishing the conflict between Simon – our Chosen One – and roommate Baz – a vampire. It’s a conflict that – allegedly – spans every year since they started at Watford School of Magicks, but is never really explained and doesn’t make altogether much sense. Still, if you’re willing to accept this Taming-of-the-Shew style romance-come-rivalry you’ll be rewarded with 10 Things I Hate About You, gay wizard style.

Talking of gay, let’s discuss the LGBT development of Baz and Simon.  It’s nice to see a novel that is driven more story than by sexuality – contemporary coming out novels still dominate LGBT fiction, and Carry On is realistic without dwelling or relying on the drama of coming out to drive its narrative. That being said, Simon’s slow awakening to his sexuality is somewhat…well, slow: apparently it’s obvious to everyone except him and the will-he-won’t-he drags its heels a little too long.

Carry On’s delight is more comic than it is dark, choosing to gently jibe the world’s bestselling children’s series. It’s necessarily self-conscious, and Rainbow Rowell never takes herself too seriously. It’s safe to say that Carry On manages to find its own magic along the way, establishing a world that moves beyond just mirroring Harry Potter.

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Messenger of Fear http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/messenger-of-fear http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/messenger-of-fear#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:32:59 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?post_type=reviews&p=5146 Who is the Messenger? He’s the one who will judge you for the unpunished sins you commit. He’s the one who will find you, even if nobody else has, and offer you a choice. The choice to win a game, and go free; or to lose and face your deepest fear. Your sins will not … Continue reading ]]>

Who is the Messenger? He’s the one who will judge you for the unpunished sins you commit. He’s the one who will find you, even if nobody else has, and offer you a choice. The choice to win a game, and go free; or to lose and face your deepest fear. Your sins will not go unpunished. And Mara is his apprentice.

Since finishing the Gone series, Michael Grant has spent the last few years churning out novels and series like the Armageddon is upon us. He’s deftly explored a technological world of nanowarfare and governmental conspiracy in BZRK; dipped into an alternate World War Two with combative women with Front Lines; and in Messenger of Fear, dipped his toes into the waters of supernatural fiction. Some of these experiments have paid off more than others.

Messenger of Fear, unfortunately, is one of his weaker attempts. Though a fascinating concept – a supernatural force tasked with the punishment of anyone who has gotten away with their sins – Grant fails to pull it off any more than as a proof of concept. And the problem, predominantly, lies in two things: the lack of any driving force or real conflict that constitutes a plot beyond the relatively contrived voyeuristic glances into the lives of four teenagers; and a protagonist who suffers from amnesia and therefore has little characterisation.

That said, Messenger of Fear is probably Grant’s most introspective and philosophical texts, dealing with ideas of punishment and justice (though rarely subtly). The antagonists – this time cruel teenagers – are caricatures, with little room for any moral ambiguity. Some interesting ideas are snowballed around towards the end of the novel – including some much-needed world-building and a “revelation” that should have come much earlier – but as a whole, Messenger of Fear never feels like an establishing novel, never really moving beyond a beginning.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/aristotle-dante-discover-secrets-universe http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/aristotle-dante-discover-secrets-universe#respond Wed, 01 Jun 2016 15:51:15 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?post_type=reviews&p=5142 Let’s be honest. I can’t really add anything to the countless reviews that already sing the praises of this wonderful book. So really this is just an opportunity for me to insist that you buy Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe RIGHT NOW. Now. Do it. Closer in tone to the movie … Continue reading ]]>

Let’s be honest. I can’t really add anything to the countless reviews that already sing the praises of this wonderful book. So really this is just an opportunity for me to insist that you buy Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe RIGHT NOW. Now. Do it.

Closer in tone to the movie Boyhood than anything else, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a tale of transition from boy to man. More than that, though, is that it’s about the process of seeing your parents not as gods but as people just like you and me. And sometimes, parents can be just as childlike as any fifteen year old, and fifteen year olds can be more adult than their parents.

Dante and Aristotle – two lonely teenage boys. At least, they’re lonely until they discover each other, and from that moment onward they share the bond of friendship in all its beauties and complications. As they share two summers together, their lives diverge and converge again and again until they (and their parents) realise some of the most important things about life.

The only discernible criticism that has been levelled at this novel has been at the ending. And yes, the ending is a little left field – so much of the novel is spent denying it that you can’t help but rule it out by that point. When it does come, it comes so close to the end that you don’t really have time to go “oh, ok” before it finishes. But hey. The 1980s were different times, right?! (I think this is especially important as it’s important to knowledge that both Ari and Dante are living in the 80s, a time when the LGBT+ rights landscape looked very different to how it does now).

But really – that criticism is but a drop in the ocean. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an excellent contribution to the LGBT canon and has – in the 4 years since its publication – solidified its place as a novel to be read and re-read.

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Fans of the Impossible Life http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/fans-impossible-life http://www.thirstforfiction.com/reviews/fans-impossible-life#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 16:52:38 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?post_type=reviews&p=5138 Somewhat unremarkably, Fans of the Impossible Life starts with three characters drowning in their problems: Jeremy, Mira and Sebby. It’s a classic cataylst: three hopeless teens meet each other and find hope with one another. Jeremy is the victim of homophobic bullying; Mira has a history of depression and suicide attempts and Sebby is a … Continue reading ]]>

Somewhat unremarkably, Fans of the Impossible Life starts with three characters drowning in their problems: Jeremy, Mira and Sebby. It’s a classic cataylst: three hopeless teens meet each other and find hope with one another. Jeremy is the victim of homophobic bullying; Mira has a history of depression and suicide attempts and Sebby is a queer fosterkid who tries to hdie his pain behind his quick wit. Sound like a motley crew? That’s because they are – meeting at an art class, they find they have more in common than not and find their best support network is themselves.

Fans of the Impossible Life isn’t quite so simple, though. Whilst it does start on that foot, Scelsa quickly switches and the novel enters altogether darker territory – prostitution, drugs, depression, bullying, and foster care. And whilst it’s true that the characters do (sort of) find hope in each other, it’s only half the story, and the novel ends in a half-tragedy (not the kind that is easily resolved in death). This is Scelsa at her best: when she’s penning  YA that’s grittier than what fills the charts, when she can tap into the rawness of life.

Less successful is her choice of narrative: a bizarre 3 perspectives, each told in a different person: Jeremy in the first person, Mira in the second and Sebby in the third. It’s a confusing, jolting and frankly amateurish; Mira’s narrative is perhaps most coherent, being in the third, but the combination of the three completely spoils any sort of consistency Fans of the Impossible Life had to start with.

Some poor creative choices mean that Fans of the Impossible Life can only be a mediocre read. Whilst it touches on some engaging themes and characters (Sebby’s rawer, less contrived story is particularly good), the narrative problems of the novel drag the whole book down with them. It’s disappointing given the novel’s strong concept, but the execution has literally executed this novel. Unfortunate.

 

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How Much Would You Pay for an eBook? http://www.thirstforfiction.com/opinion/how-much-would-you-pay-for-an-ebook http://www.thirstforfiction.com/opinion/how-much-would-you-pay-for-an-ebook#respond Sun, 22 May 2016 17:13:34 +0000 http://www.thirstforfiction.com/?p=5133 First off, apologies for the lack of any sort of activity here. My degree has pretty much sapped all of my reading time – I study American and English Literature, which means I spent a significant part of my week reading stuff – and haven’t really found a way to balance pleasure with work. So … Continue reading ]]>

First off, apologies for the lack of any sort of activity here. My degree has pretty much sapped all of my reading time – I study American and English Literature, which means I spent a significant part of my week reading stuff – and haven’t really found a way to balance pleasure with work. So there’s that.

But what I really want to talk about in this post is eBook pricing. Now that my academic work has concluded for this year, I’ve got a little more time. And instead of frittering it away on Netflix (which is what I’ve been doing so far…) I really need to get back to reading.

The problem: I feel like I’ve forgotten how it works. I need a guide – “how to book” – or something.

In any case, I’ve decided that the best way to get back is to start with a book I’m really looking forward to. That way, I know I’ll get straight into it. The book I’ve been thinking about is the third and final instalment in the Red Rising trilogy – Morning Star.

That was, until I saw the cost on Amazon. At the moment, you can buy the hardback for £14.99 or the kindle edition for £9.99. The paperback is also listed at £7.99 but won’t be released for a while yet.

£9.99. What?! How is pricing an eBook above its paperback equivalent at all acceptable? I know that publishers don’t want to cannibalise sales from the hardback too much – and in this case, they can afford to price the book really very high – but I still think this is outrageous. No wonder people are turning to pirate books. The publishers, Hodderscape, have stated that the kindle price will then “drop accordingly”, but I still can’t see this as being as acceptable. It feels exploitative. They know they can get away with it due to the series’ popularity. For readers, any pricing structure where the kindle costs more than the cheapest copy of the book – normally paperback – doesn’t make sense. You’re paying more for what is as easier product to distribute: no printing costs, no warehouses, no transportation, no physical shelf-space. Just an easy download.

I went to twitter to ask what you guys though was acceptable pricing for eBooks. Here’s what some of you said:

It definitely looks like the paperback-or-less pricing is a clear winner here. (For those of you who don’t know, $9.99 is the equivelant of £7.99 pricing). Frankly, this has turned me off and I won’t be purchasing Morning Star until the paperback version is released. I’ve started reading Dune instead.

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