Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Does ‘Pushing the Limits’ push the limits when it comes to the teen-troubled genre?

I apologise for the quite awful play on words but it was too good not to write! In this post I want to talk about a couple of things; one: Katie McGarry’s fantastic book ‘Pushing the Limits’ as well as the issues surrounding it and the newly popular YA genre named ‘sick-lit’.

I don’t want to scare anyone away from reading ‘Pushing the Limits’ by associating it with the topic of ‘sick-lit’ as it does sound a bit scary – my premise being that ‘PTL’ does not (thankfully) fall under this genre, and in fact takes troubling issues and makes them approachable and acceptable through the powerful relationship between the two main characters Echo and Noah.

I’ll backtrack a little and give you the quick synopsis of PTL incase you haven’t read it yet *no spoilers*:

“No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.”

Exploring the issues of ‘troubled’ and ‘traumatised’ teens, ‘Pushing the Limits’ is such a great read because it shows how these things are okay and that you don’t have to be alone with them. Unfortunately there are teenagers out there who have to struggle with dysfunctional families, mental health, loss, foster homes as well as a social status, but ‘PTL’ makes you feel like you’re not traveling alone and that there is someone, lots of people out there who want to stick by you and support you through it, be it family, teachers, authority or friends. Echo and Noah are thrown together by therapy sessions, rather begrudgingly, but it is after they start to get to know each other and see the real characters under all the trouble and defences do they begin to realise how much they need each other. Although their problems are completely different, they mould together to try find the solutions and start to gradually work their way back into feeling good about the world again. It is a relatable story, even for those without anything in common with the characters, which makes it such easy reading.

Whilst ‘Pushing the Limits’ finds a level balance between portraying issues that teens may suffer and the positive outcomes of it (i.e. bringing people together, enjoying life, making friends, falling in love etc.), some books have started to make more of an extreme statement with a negative effect. I was pointed towards an article the other day that honestly left me horrified. The new YA fiction trend is apparently ‘sick-lit’. Publishers are publishing a large amount of books for teenagers, even younger teens, that talk of terminally ill characters, suicide, depression, self-harm and death. Books that will leave their readers ‘devastated’ but “inadvertently glamourise”* these issues. These stories describe the feelings and effects of these issues so much that they quite often become seen as more like an instruction book than a fictional story. One book about self-harming is meant to have sparked some reaction in some readers to actually start self-harming themselves as a ‘comfort’ as the story was “too close to home”. I don’t want to make rash judgements about these books without having read them myself or got reader reactions beforehand, but it just strikes me as something going very wrong here, publishers are making it a 'trend' rather than a delicate issue? If teens as young as 12 and 13 are reading these books? I think as genre trends go within fiction, as much as I have my own opinions on the likes of the Twilight fandom and 50 Shades of Grey trend, I think ‘sick-lit’ is something that shouldn’t be encouraged in the way that it seems to be. It is fantastic that there are ways these issues that can be approached and talked about through fiction that a reader may not feel comfortable sharing or dealing with in real life, but I would say it still needs to be done delicately in what is being promoted. I'm not saying let's cover up the harsh realities of it, but maybe the portrayal of this 'trend' need to be re-issued? Pushing the Limits does this excellently, the biggest message that I picked up from it is that you don’t need to hide away, by letting yourself be supported you can pick up the pieces and start to rebuild your life in the way you want it to. Even if your body isn’t letting you, like Echo’s, when you’re ready it will come.

On a slightly more cheery note (I promise the next post will be full of sunshine and rainbows, figuratively). If you want to read ‘Pushing the Limits’, which you all do straight away(!), you can buy the book or it is currently storming through at number one in the Kindle charts at only 20p! It would be rude not to read it now!

Please also tell me what you think of both ‘Pushing the Limits’ and also the issues on sick-lit. Do you agree with what I think, or do you think it is an exaggeration and not something that should be worried about? All comments welcome.

Have a great week!

Emily x

*I know that the Daily Mail doesn't have much credibility in terms of hard facts, but it was the article I had that could be linked on here.

Friday, 25 January 2013

A Little *Frosty* Friday Feeling...

I saw this image on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/pin/97108935687170053/) and thought I had to share it with you given all the snow we've had across the UK. Does anyone feel abit like this at the moment? Any snowy reads to match the weather?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Scent of Magic - Maria V. Snyder


I hope you're all having fun in the snow and it's not causing too much trouble. I love the snow but in my opinion it's a perfect excuse to curl up inside in the warm with a cup of tea and a book and just watch it from the window! As it was snowing I thought it was only appropriate that I read a themed book, so I'm currently reading 'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey which definitely has added to the snowy atmosphere for me.

I find that when I finish a really good book I quite often have to take a while to process it and think it over before I start to talk or write about it, giving it time to sink it and leave its mark - I don't know if anyone else does this or if it is just me? If I don't then sometimes the feeling I have when I finish the book (both sheer love for it as well as sadness that it has ended) gets lost because I have moved on too quickly.

Now with Maria V. Snyder's 'Scent of Magic' I have had a couple of weeks to think over what I was going to write for this and even now I absolutely loved the book from cover to cover.

'Scent of Magic' is the second in the Avry of Kazan, Healer series, picking up from where 'Touch of Power' ended, Avry is alive and reunited with Kerrick but war is still waging in the Realms with King Tohon determined to take control of the Fifteen Realms with an army full of dead -zombie- soldiers. No one knows that Avry survived so she tears herself away from Kerrick and goes undercover inside Estrid's army, Tohon's opponent, both to try and make amends with her sister and to help the army stand a chance against the dead soldiers. Kerrick goes back to his home to recruit his Kingdom into battle. The story is told from both characters' point of view as they work separately to try and save the Realms and *hopefully* be reunited once again.

Check out the book trailer here:

I'm not sure what I fell in love with first about this series: the relationship between Kerrick and Avry or even just the alternative world itself. I'm never normally a great fan of magic/fantasy stories but something about the way it is written and the characters and plot that makes it irresistible and I honestly think that 'Scent of Magic' lived up to the impression that was left by 'Touch of Power'.

I don't want to give away any spoilers as if you haven't read it you should so I will try and be careful with what I say. 'Touch of Power' set up this world with the amazing character of Avry, the last remaining healer and you really connect with her, especially with her relationship with Kerrick, but it also introduces you to the realisation that the Fifteen Realms is in trouble and it's going to take more than just one remaining healer to fix that. 'Scent of Magic' completely explores this idea further. It may not be full of the same romantic sparks that appeared in the first, as Kerrick and Avry spend most of their time apart - believing the other is dead, but it gives more of a perspective on the adventure that is unfolding - time is ticking and they need to find a way to defeat Tohon's untouchable army and work together to win the war. Every page is packed full of action and emotion right until the end and then it still leaves you wanting more.

I also liked that you get to know more about the magicians and magic power in this book. We learnt a lot about Avry's healing and Kerrick's forest magic before but 'Scent of Magic' opens our eyes to how some of the powers develop and watch the character's like Danny and Flea find their feet with them. There is also further development into the importance of the death and peace lillies, we make discoveries at the same time that Avry and the gang do, but still it's not enough information. The plot is thickening and is only making us want to know what happens even more and now have to wait for the third book to find out!

As I said before, if you haven't read it yet you need to! If you have read it what did you think of it? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? 

Let's hope the wait for the third book goes quickly!

Happy reading!

Emily x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


I’m really excited to be writing this first post and introducing you to the new Mira Ink blog.

 First a little about me so you know who I am:
I’m Emily, I’m 22 years old, living in north-west London. I recently graduated with an English Lit degree and took the summer out to go travelling around Europe.

 My career dream is to get into publishing and if you hadn't guessed already, I love books; reading, writing or just owning them. I have 3 bookcases in my room and still ever growing to-be-read piles surrounding them. I mainly read fiction, but I’m happy to read anything within that and I love to be a part of anything book or publishing related (my twitter news feed being the biggest give away of that). 

I also love baking (and eating) cupcakes and cookies. I can rarely go very long without baking something, which nobody seems to mind in my house!

In case some of you haven’t been following what has been going on with Mira Ink lately, in December they launched a competition called Blog Ink to find their own resident blogger. 

The winner would get a year contract as the Mira Ink blogger as well as a free laptop. Having followed and been a fan of Mira Ink for a long while, I thought why not? It sounds like an amazing opportunity and there’s nothing to lose in going for it. I wrote a book-ish blog post for round one, along with a large number of other people and waited eagerly for them to announce round 2.

I was delighted to find out I had made it into the top 10 finalists but this was then the trickier part. Writing a blog post on books is what I love to do anyway so it was simple enough, but round 2 required making a 60 second video, over the course of a weekend and then spreading it as far as possible across social media. I knew straight away that I wanted to do something abit different. You always see these amazing, quirky videos involving books and words and I thought something like that would really show my passion for books, as well as why I should be chosen as the winner.
After a weekend of running round my local park with a camera and a bag of books, this became the end result:

I then spent the week putting it everywhere I could on social media and getting as many views, likes, comments and shares as possible to prove to the judges I understood how social media works and was the best person for the job.
And I won!

Thank you to everyone who helped me out, it all made the world of difference.

Now equipped with a shiny, new laptop and a lovely pile of Mira Ink’s books to read I am ready to blog. 

This is such an exciting adventure for 2013 and I can’t wait to start writing regularly and hopefully get to know you all abit better as well along the way!

Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions or anything you like, it will get abit lonely if it’s just me talking all the time! 
If you’re not already, follow @MIRAInk on twitter where lots of exciting things happen, and me as well if you want to: @EmzFinn (levels of excitement may vary).

I will post up a new post in a few days time all about one of Mira Ink’s lovely new books so keep checking back.

Happy reading!

Emily x