Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 in Review

(The Caveman in a cave outside Budapest!)

End of Year Wrap Up

So for the last two months, my urge to blog has somewhat fizzled out. However despite my new found reluctance, I love my blog very much and have no intention of giving it up. 

Through Whisperingwords I have met some really incredible people - generally other bloggers who inspire me to try new things, or push me to achieve my own goals - but honestly its just lovely talking to others who share my love of books. 

Therefore while many of you are probably wondering if I fell of the face of the earth - fear not - I will be returning with plenty of new posts next year. 


For 2017 it was my goal to read 100 books. I’m actually on 109 (soon to be 110) and I hit my goodreads goal back in October. Strangely though I don't feel so celebratory of this fact. While I don't regret the books I read, I often felt I was forcing myself to read to achieve this goal - which in turn led to my lack of inspiration for blogging. It also meant that other important things - like my own writing - got neglected. As you can probably tell - I’m not so great at prioritising! 

Yet this is why for 2018 my Goodreads goal is…. 1. 

Of course that doesn't mean I will only read one book, I’d be very surprised if I read less than fifty. Of course I’ll still keep track of my reading, but by not setting a goal, I already feel that I’ve freed up so much time!

I also enjoy reading non-fiction, especially anything about lifestyle and being the best you that you can be. I travel lots and lots, and I want expand my blog to include these things. While I’ll still post book reviews, let’s face it, writing constant book reviews is becoming pretty repetitive for me, so I can only imagine how dull it must be for all of you. 

2018 I’ll be mixing things up!
Travel Posts. Motivational Posts. Writing Posts. 

… but still some book reviews of course.


(Old Ruins in Autumn)

2017 highlights


  1. China
  2. Hong-Kong
  3. Indonesia
  4. Japan (Still my favourite place!)
  5. Australia
  6. Canada
  7. England & Scotland
  8. Poland
  9. Hungary - Budapest
  10. Prague


*Most of the these were part of a series so I’ve left links to the review of the first books* 

  1. Fire & Flood Duology by Victoria Scott. (Dystopian YA - better, I thought, than the hunger games!)
  2. Red Winter Trilogy by Annette Marie. (Awesome Fantasy set in Japan!)
  3. The Dream Snatcher Trilogy by Abi Elphinstone. (An Epic Middle Grade Adventure)
  4. Frogkisser! By Garth Nix (Standalone MG/YA Fairytale)
  5. The Winners Curse Trilogy! By Marie Rutkoski (YA Romantic Fantasy/Dystopian?)
  6. Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo. (Epic Fantasy Heist - wish I’d read this sooner!)
  7. A Court of Wing’s and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. (Epic Fanasty - you either love it or you hate it!)
  8. Hunted by Meagan Spooner (Beauty and the Beast Retelling - beautifully old school writing!)
  9. The Wendy Darling Trilogy by Colleen Oakes (Breathtakingly Dark Peter Pan retelling!)
  10. A Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis (Loved this cheery Middle Grade Fantasy so so much!)

(Stumbling into a blizzard in Zakopane!)


On December 23rd, my mum and lovely new step-dad finally tied the knot after 17 years of being together! Incidentally it was also the first time the whole family has been together for 25 years, and I know it meant so much to my grandma to have everyone she loved in one place.


I’m actually very behind on my writing, but I drafted a MG fantasy and am now knee deep in edits, plus I have two more YA fantasy novels all outlined and ready to go. Could 2018 be the year I get an agent…? Fingers crossed!


My biggest thrill of the year and definitely something I would do again!

MY MOST POPULAR POST WAS: Writing Hacks & Tricks


(My grandma on xmas-day. Looking good for 88!)

Sadly however, the year was not all sunshine and joy. There were dark blots during some months and I feel they too deserve mentioning. 

Unexpected Tragedy 

In March 2017, my boyfriend’s younger brother (let’s call him X) was shot outside his home in North-Vancouver. After days fighting for his life, he miraculously pulled through, but has since lost all use of his legs. He has just turned 23. 

He is the strongest, most amazing person I know.

Rush onto December 2017. Nine months on and X is still wheel-chair bound, however he has made two paralympic teams, plays regular wheel-chair sports, and has signed up for just about every clinical trial available to man. He jokes and laughs, terrifies us all by coming down the stairs in his wheel-chair - but most importantly - he has fully committed himself to achieving what the doctors say, is the impossible task of walking again.

If anyone can do it, he can! And I’m looking forward to the day when he proves those doctors wrong!


… and luckily suffered only a broken leg. Still at 11.30pm at night, it was terrifying experience that I never wish to repeat. And while I in no way blame the driver (my dog slipped between a broken slat in a park fence - there was no way the driver would have seen him coming) it would have been nice if the driver hadn't just driven off.

However you will be pleased to know my puppy-dog has since made a full recovery! Although if there is ever a petition going to create some kind of 999 number for animals, please let me know and I will sign right up!


I mentioned that in October my grandmother moved into a care-home - and while I’m pleased to report she totally loves it and has become an utter social butterfly (We now have to be fitted into her diary to see her) - she does have some days better than others. 

While mostly she can laugh about it, its hard on those days when she forgets what year it is, or who is (or isn't) still alive. But I’m always so very proud of her for soldiering on. Having lived all over the world herself, she is the ultimate inspiration behind my own travels, and if I ever reach 88, I hope I can be just as brave and awesome as she is. 

With that in mind I just want to send a collective group hug out to anyone else who has a friend or relative going through the same thing. As my grandma says, “you have to live for the good moments by pressing on through the bad. Good times will come again.”

And on that note, I will end this post here. 

Best wishes to all of you! I’ll see you again in the New Year!


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Voices of YA#

#Voices of YA Tag!

Firstly I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Amy@AMagicalWorldOfWords for tagging me. Considering it was back in July, apologies that its taken me so long to answer!

Also thank you to Caitlin @QuillsandCoffee for coming up with the original Voices of YA# - those were some good questions :)


  1. What draws you to write  YA?

I think what I find exciting about YA is all the new experiences. Teenage years are usually when you have your first romance, first kiss… and normally when you take that first step into discovering who you are and what you are capable of. Catching these things in a story is thrilling and I love sharing these experiences alongside my characters. 

2) Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structure, or seeing where the story takes you?

I like to experiment with my writing, trying new methods when the old ones grow stale. However I always start a story with at least an image of the ending, and I only ever plot a couple of chapters in advance. These are like story beats - points I want to hit upon in each chapter - but the journey between the points is completely made up along the way.

However I find it very useful to work with a reward system. My favourite is something I discovered on V.E Schwab’s youtube channel. The star method :) Basically I give myself a star for every 1000 words I hit. The app WRITERS BLOCK is also incredibly useful to me, blocking off EVERYTHING until my word target is hit. You can find more info about it this post HERE.

3) How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?

I’m currently finishing up edits of my second book - A MG Fantasy which I will start querying to agents soon. Thankfully this book only took me a year to write. My previous a novel (A YA Fantasy that will never see the light of day) I worked on for nearly ten years! 

As you can imagine, like many first books it was dreadful, but that book taught me a lot about writing and showed me I could indeed, finishing writing a full length novel. Even now that novel will always have a warm place in my heart.

Otherwise I read a lot as a child. I remember though I was seven years old when I first tried my hand at writing something. It was 1997, my mum had brought us a computer that used the old dial-up broadband, and I recall sitting down and typing out a story about pirates. The main character had my name (although I swear the character was not me!) but I still have that first story… although it never was finished.

4) What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?

Thinking time - which usually requires silence or music without lyrics. Movie soundtracks or trailer scores are my usual go to. Otherwise I use a pen and paper for plotting, and will occasionally write a scene out long hand, but only when I’m stuck. Normally I write straight onto my laptop, and while a cup of tea or coffee isn't essential, it is a nice perk. 

However I sometimes also write at the gym. Between brutal sets of weight lifting, squats and whatever other torture my fitness-freak-boyfriend enjoys putting me thorough - I found I can escape the pain by thinking about the next few lines of my story. I’ll repeat them over and over in my head and as soon as I get a break, I jot them down on my phone to type up later. Although I do like running on the treadmill - that’s also good plotting time!

5) If you could offer up one piece of advice to another writer (other than “don’t give up”) what would it be?

Find a good critique partner! You’re usually too close to the story to see any faults or plot holes, plus a great critique partner will also cheer you on and help keep you accountable to writing!

I would also say read books on the craft. After I finished my ten year slog through book one, I took a break from writing to read every book on the craft I could find. It helped my writing immensely! Books with exercises are particularly helpful. For those writing children’s fiction, I would totally recommend THE MAGIC OF WORDS by Cheryl B. Klein. Also TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND OUTLINE by LIBBIE HAWKER is great for trying your hand at plotting.


1) What book still has you reeling from it’s plot twist?

Sadly the only book that totally shocked me this year did so in a really negative way. And that was the ending to Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling Trilogy. I had loved those books so so much, but I absolutely detested the ending of the last book. It made the whole story so redundant and even months on, I’m still sore about it!

2) What books are you most anticipating for this year?

This is a really hard one, but a book that I'm super excited to pick up is Phillip Pullman's new one: THE BOOK OF DUST. I loved his dark materials series so much as a child, although I appreciated the books so much more after re-reading them as an adult. 

3) What is your favourite quote from YA lit?

A quote that always stuck with me was from Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. All I know is that if I ever have children, I’m sharing this advice with them:

“I don't know many rules to live by,' he'd said. 'But here's one. It's simple. Don't put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles--drug or inessential penises either.'

'Inessential penises?' Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. 'Is there any such thing as an essential one?'

'When an essential one comes along, you'll know,' he'd replied.” 

4) What book do you most hope will have a movie adaption?

I’m probably picking a cliche but I would love to see any of Sarah J Maas’ books adapted to film. The same with Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. I feel there just aren't enough High Fantasy movies and I. WANT. MORE!



- Thank the person who tagged you 
-Link to the original creator  
- Answer the questions 
- Tag at LEAST two other YA writers/bloggers

Friday, 3 November 2017

October in Review

Park in Warsaw - Poland

October In Review

October has been a truly wonderful month for me. While I haven't done much blogging - nor near as much reading as usual - I have been off exploring new places and simply basking in the Autumn glow. 

This Months Highlights:

AUTUMN - This is the first time I’ve experienced a real autumn in almost five years. When I lived in China, Summer reigned nine months of the year, winter the other three. There wasn't much of a transition between them, so being back in England has been blissful. The darkening nights, the sunset colours (So many colours!) and the ground littered with acorns and horse-chestnuts … It’s so magical! And while I’m sure I sound like special maple leaf to you guys, I will never take another spring or autumn for granted again.

NEW BEGINNINGS -  At the start of October my grandmother turned 88. A week later she made the decision to leave her house, and move into a care home. She is literally the BRAVEST person I know. 

Watching her sort through all her possessions, each one a  treasured memory, was heartbreaking, but for all the things she said goodbye too, she just tapped her head and said, “Everything is up here.” Then she tapped her heart, “And everyone I care about is in here.” 

Starting over in a new place at her age is daunting, but no challenge seems to much for my grandmother. I just wanted to give her a shout out today, because I hope one day I can be half as brave as her.

POLAND - Yes, I’m travelling again. Its fantastic being back on the road. I’m also thrilled after 3.5 months to be reunited with my partner in crime (aka - the boyfriend) who was off being superman in Canada. Nothing makes you realise how much you love someone until circumstances demand you apart! ... although I forgot how much he hogs the the blankets.

But Poland is amazing! So far we have consumed so many pirogies (Polish Dumplings), lots of goulash and the most amazing pancakes I’ve had in a good long while. Then there have been some amazing parks - an unexpected snow day during one hike - all followed by the best hot chocolate EVER that I found in Krakow.

I'll be doing a post on my Polish adventures later in the week for anyone who is interested. 

But now its November... and we are in Hungary, Budapest :)

Books Read:

  1. Hysteria by Lily Blake (Reign #2) ***
  2. Stolen Songbird by Danielle .L. Jensen ***
  3. The Songbird’s Overture by Danielle .L. Jensen **
  4. A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee **
  5. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo ***** (Loved Loved Loved!)
  6. Water’s Wrath by Elise Kova *** 
  7. Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova ****
  8. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake ****


And that warps up October!

How is life for the rest of you? I hope you had a brilliant month too. Anything special in store for November? And good luck for anyone tackling NaNoWriMo this year!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Flame in the Mist - Book Review

Flame in the Mist - Book Review
Renee Ahdieh
YA Fantasy
UK Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton


The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her own twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks though, Mariko finds for the first time she's appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love - a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.


I enjoyed this book, but didn't really see it as the big “Mulan” retelling many have labelled it as. Not only is the story set in Japan, but the pages carry hints of mythology, dashes of fantasy and a nice slow-burn romance. I will most definitely be reading the next book.

Mariko knows her greatest weapon is her mind. Yet being born a girl, she grimly accepts her fate to marry and remain silent like any good future empress should. But when her carriage is attacked and Mariko left for dead, she rises from the ashes and sets out to find the men responsible for her supposed demise.

Disguising herself as a boy, she succeeds in infiltrating the enemy camp, but there she discovers more than just her family’s best kept secret. For the first time Mariko’s opinions are valued, and she learns there is more to these thugs and thieves then she could ever have imagined. Now Mariko must choose between following her heart… or protecting her family from the man she loves…

I enjoyed this story, but it was slow to start and took me a few chapters to sink into. It wasn't until I was nearly a third of the way through that I became really invested in the story, but after that point the pacing really picked up and I devoured the rest in a night.

And boy does this book pack it all. Samurai, Ninja, Demons, Magic, Emperors, Betrayals… the list goes on and on. These elements were creatively woven together to produce some great imagery that made for a winding tale dotted with hidden twists and surprises. 

However in terms of world building, I occasionally struggled to keep track of all the politics and reasons behind who was fighting who and for what reason. The same with the magic system. I didn't fully grasp the mechanics of it, especially since the magic exploded into the story nearer the end of the book. However I’m sure this will be explained more in book 2. Yet despite these few gripes, I still really enjoyed this book. The descriptions were detailed and the prose flowed very smoothly. 

As for the characters, I think many girls will relate to the heroine, Mariko. While not physically strong, she was in no way a helpless maiden. She put effort into learning new skills, while calling on her other, hard-won abilities to ensure her own survival. 

Having said that, another gripe I had was that we spent the first half of the book hearing (generally from Mariko herself) about just how clever she was, but we didn't really get to see her sharp mind put to use until near the end. I often found myself questioning her decisions throughout the story, but then again, the plot was often fuelled by her choices which led to the story’s progression.

Romance also has a part, but it’s a back burner to the main plot. However the unexpected love adds extra conflict and intrigue to the plot and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. 

The Black Clan were also a very diverse group of characters, and I really hope in the next book we get to dip more into their backstories. I’m also intrigued to see the fates of everyone else mentioned. The ending wove in plenty of new subplots which I’m sure will expand the world and perhaps even add in a few more POVs to the story. 

All in all - FLAME IN THE MIST was a nice read. While I’m not thirsting for the next book, I’m definitely hooked enough to pick it up. I’m also very much in love with this cover! It's gorgeous!

3 stars!

What were you’re thoughts on this book?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The One Memory of Flora Banks - Book Review

The One Memory of Flora Banks
Emily Barr
YA Contemporary 
UK Publisher: Penguin


Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumour that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town.

Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind. And sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meets him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. 

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake.

But from the moment she arrives in the artic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home. 


The One Memory of Flora Banks is a very accurate title for this book. It sums the story up neatly, and I loved the protagonists unusual voice - childlike, but with flashes of the woman trying to fight through. A most intriguing story. 

Flora is seventeen, and she has kissed a boy. Yet the true shock of this tale is, she remembers it.

When Flora was ten, she suffered a trauma to her brain. Unable to make new memories, she must rely heavily of her trusted notebook to tell her who she is, and any important events that have happened. But that all changes when she remembers kissing her best-friend’s boyfriend on the beach. Convinced love is the cure she is looking for, Flora sets off on a journey to find the boy that can bring back her memories, and give her the fairytale ending she deserves...

Both the beginning and end of this book really wowed me, although parts of the middle dragged on a bit and I found myself impatient for something to happen. However Flora’s journey to Svalbard, the sheer bravery and determination behind it, really moved me. It showed she was so much more than the tragic, parent-dependent girl everyone labeled her as. 

Flora’s character is awesome in her simplicity. A rather unreliable narrator, the reader is caught up in her world, knowing only what Flora herself chooses to remember. This leads to some nice twists later on in the story, and given Flora’s chosen optimism, makes for a pretty positive read. 

However I both love/hated the repetition of information. In many ways, Flora’s constant rehash of events was annoying, yet at the same time, it really ties you to the realities of her life. It also helps you sympathise with the less-Flora-friendly decisions made by some of the other characters, because despite her childlike innocence, Flora’s condition does require a lot of patience from the people around her. 

At the same time, I admired the glimpses we got of grown-up Flora, that are mixed in with her ten year old self. While Flora accepts her situation, she understands she is no longer a little girl - although she often forgets this face - and most importantly WANTS her own life and independence. 

The ending also had me tearing up. I love how Flora’s brother - a character we never actually meet - could have such a huge sway on the story. It really packed and parcelled the ending with a nice shiny bow. I can’t wait to read more of Emily Barr’s work.

3 stars.