Sunday, 4 October 2015

Children's Classics: Holly Webb on Return to the Secret Garden

It's been far too long since I had anyone on here for my Classic Children's feature, so I'm really excited to have Holly Webb on the blog today talking about Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, to celebrate her new sequel to the book, Return to the Secret Garden (published by Scholastic.)

I first thought of writing a sequel to The Secret Garden years ago – after a wonderful conversation with my editor about our favourite children’s books. It’s a wonderful subject – full of “Do you remember?” and “What about this one?” and “Oh, did you ever read that?” Somehow it’s even more exciting than discussing what you’re reading right now, but it’s hard to pin down why. The glory of rediscovering something that you loved first as a child? Perhaps we do identify more fully with books and characters we first meet when we’re younger.

I read a lot growing up – there were a lot of books in the house, plus there was a fairly eclectic set of bookshelves at school. I got banned from taking books outside after leaving When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit lying around in the playground… Looking back, many of the books I read were “classics”, perhaps because my parents shared the books they’d loved too. C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, Arthur Ransome, The Treasure Seekers and The Railway Children by E. Nesbit, Little Women (and all the sequels!), Anne of Green Gables (likewise, and I sympathise hugely with any child who loves a series, that wonderful feeling that there’s more). The Wind in the Willows – especially the picnic basket list which I learned off by heart just because I loved it so much (I always wanted to know, what exactly was potted meat?) But I particularly loved Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and A Little Princess (Sara to me still looks like Margery Gill’s illustrations, thin-faced and dark-haired). For me, these books were favourites because of their heroines. Sara was almost but not quite annoyingly perfect, and Mary was so imperfect that she was gripping. But then who wouldn’t be horrible, with Mary’s loveless upbringing? 

I adored the setting of The Secret Garden too – the garden was nearly as special as the girl. The idea of a private, secret, near-magical space was enchanting. It felt like an amazing gift to write my own story about Misselthwaite, and to take another child into the garden.

It's 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house - a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden...

Information about the book
Title: Return to the Secret Garden
Author: Holly Webb
Release Date: October 1st 2015
Genre: Historical MG
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Format: Hardback and E-book

Giveaway Information
Scholastic are giving away a copy of The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett and a copy of Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb to one lucky blog tour follower! [UK AND IRL ONLY]
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule
Monday 5th October

Tuesday 6th October

Wednesday 7th October

Thursday 8th October

Friday 9th October

Saturday 10th October

Sunday 11th October

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Blog Tour: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - Jim's Six Dos and Don'ts For Surviving The Grishaverse

I'm not doing all that much on this blog at the moment (there's more on Teens on Moon Lane if you miss me!) but every so often, an opportunity comes along that I just can't turn down. The chance to take part in the blog tour for Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows, one of my favourite reads for ages, was one of those times!

Six of Crows is an incredibly fun heist story set in the Grishaverse, the world that Bardugo created in her first trilogy which so many of us fell in love with. It has six fantastic lead characters, brilliant relationships, and a plot with so many amazing twists and turns that I felt dizzy reading it at times. As much as I LOVE the Grishaverse, though, it's a pretty dangerous place - so I'm very happy to be presenting my tips for surviving if you find yourself there! It's a joint UK/US blog tour so head over to Bookiemoji for more tips on the subject, and don't miss Winged Reviews and Cuddlebuggery, two of my favourite blogs, who had great posts on book boyfriends/girlfriends from the Grishaverse yesterday!

PLUS, we have a fantastic competition to win a swag pack as well being run over all 12 blogs taking part!

But before we get to my tips, thrilled to hand over to author Leigh Bardugo...

Hey, Jim, thanks for being a part of the Six of Crows blog tour! I spend most of my time writing books or travelling to promote them, so I figured those were my best bets for offering Dos and Don'ts. I shared my travel tips over at Bookiemoji, but I have to admit, I'm always wary of handing out writing advice because everyone's process is so different a big part of becoming a writer is figuring out what works for you. Even so, here are a few rules I try to follow myself:
Do avoid the internet and social media. This has been tough for me lately because I've been promoting Six of Crows while writing its sequel, but I truly believe being online is a drain on creativity.  

Do let yourself be inspired by everything. I know everyone likes The Italian Job, but I didn't. I really love the team dynamics on Leverage, but they get away with a lot of ridiculous stuff when it comes to heist logic. The Dirty Dozen is a spectacularly weird film that doesn't hold up particularly well on re-watching. Even so, I found it really helpful to see the choices writers made with these projects and they helped to move my work forward. Just make sure research doesn't turn into a day (or twelve) lost to Netflix bingeing.  

Do go outside! I have a terrible habit of getting stuck in front of my computer and staying there. Walk your dog, go for a swim, or just go dance around in your back garden. I do it all the time. You heard me, Google Earth.

Fab tips! Thank you Leigh!

Speaking of tips, here's mine - hopefully these are of use...

DO: Stay close to Sturmhond.

I think people reading this post have PROBABLY read the original trilogy, but just in case, I won't say too much about Sturmhond.

To be honest, that might be an excuse, because really, this commander is pretty much indescribable. He had my heart from the moment he exploded onto the page in Siege and Storm, while his triumphant entrance in Ruin and Rising had me practically standing up and cheering while reading. He is brilliant with various weapons, incredibly charming, extremely intelligent. And oh, so hot!

It's easy to see why my friend Daphne opened yesterday's 'Book Boyfriends and Girlfriends of the Grishaverse' post with him.

DO: Be careful who you trust.
The Grishaverse is a dangerous place. Having the right person behind you or at your side can be a real lifesaver. But as numerous people have found out, having someone at your side who doesn't have your best interests at heart can be deadly.

DO: Kiss as many people as possible.
If I'm completely honest, I don't know whether kissing people in the Grishaverse is actually THAT beneficial to survival. But Leigh writes so many super-hot characters that I defy anyone to NOT read the books and daydream that they're in there locking lips with as many people as possible.

DON'T: Cross Kaz.
There are good guys in YA. There are 'bad' guys with a heart of gold. There are surly boys who melt for the right girl (or boy). But as Leigh said in her introduction over at yesterday's post on Cuddlebuggery, "Kaz’s crew are deadly, desperate, and occasionally legitimately despicable." That's not to say I don't like him - he's an awesome character. But if you cross him he WILL have his vengeance.

DON'T: Fall for the Darkling.
Look, I know I said that you should kiss everybody you could. And I have huge respect for Steph Sinclair over at Cuddlebuggery for being generally awesome. But some guys have TOO MUCH of a dark side, and everything Leigh said about Kaz's crew is true 100 times over of the Darkling. People really should remember that instead of falling for the whole "tortured but hot routine." Even if he is so, SO hot. Ahem.

DON'T: Try to break into the Ice Court.

It's completely impenetrable. To even try to undertake what's pretty much a certain suicide mission would be a ridiculous idea.

You'd have to be really stupid to give it a shot.

Or, of course, REALLY arrogant, full of yourself, and generally awesome.


From 24/9 - 29/9, bloggers in the US and UK will be paired up to share their own Six of Crows-inspired lists, such as six tips for surviving the Grishaverse, six signs you do/don't have what it takes to join Kaz's crew, and more.

But wait. There's more! Enter to win a Six of Crows prize pack full of US AND UK swag by commenting on all 12 blog posts by 11:59pm EST Friday, October 2.

So, what would be your top tip for surviving the Grishaverse?

Leigh Bardugo is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.
Check out the rest of the tour stops by following the #SixofCrows hashtag. Also, don’t forget to catch Leigh on her #MagicandMayhemTour!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Agatha Christie Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today is a freebie, and it's also Agatha Christie's 125th birthday, so thought I'd share my favourite of her books with you!

The Mysterious Affair at Styles - I love the introduction of both Poirot and Hastings here, they really spring to life as wonderful characters straight away. Also, Poirot delays announcing that he's solved the mystery for a considerable amount of time  so that he can match-make, which is adorable.

Curtain - Back to Styles for Poirot's last case, and it's a stunning end to the series. The last chapter sends chills down my spine when I read it - perfect characterisation.

Hallowe'en Party - This isn't one of the best, if I'm honest, but I think it's the ONLY one where I got the solution ahead of the reveal the first time I read it! It has a soft spot in my heart just for that.

Labours of Hercules
- Poirot takes on 12 cases based on the ancient labours of Hercules. So much fun for fans of classical mythology!

Murder on the Orient Express - Not only one of the best ever crime novels, but it also inspired First Class Murder, Robin Stevens's wonderful third book in the Murder Most Unladylike series, so gets bonus points for that!

Peril at End House - I love Hastings and wish he'd been in more of the Poirot novels! This is one of my favourites because it has him, Japp, and an intriguing solution.

N or M? - The only one in my top 10 not to star Marple or Poirot, I love this story of Tommy and Tuppence (a massively underrated pairing) searching for a traitor in World War II in a seaside hotel.

At Bertram's Hotel - My favourite setting (except for maybe the Orient Express) for any of Christie's books, as Miss Marple takes a holiday in London at Bertram's Hotel, an old-fashioned place with elderly patrons. But not all is as it seems...

Nemesis - The last Miss Marple book to be written has one of my favourite showdowns of all the books.

The Thirteen Problems - My favourite collection of Miss Marple stories, this sees her join her nephew Raymond, Sir Henry Clithering (a former Scotland Yard commissioner) and three others in a club who discuss unsolved crimes. In each of them, Miss Marple correctly guesses what happened, to the astonishment of the rest.

Any other Christie fans out there? Do you agree with my top 10?


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Guest Post: ER Murray on Wildcats, Talking Rats & Reincarnated People – Building Believable Characters

I'm really looking forward to reading ER Murray's The Book of Learning, a fantasy adventure published by The Mercier Press which starts off the Nine Lives trilogy. After talking to her on Twitter, she suggested writing about building believable characters for my blog - I was thrilled by the suggestion, and love the post!

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Although The Book of Learning is an action-packed fantasy adventure, the heart of the story focuses on the emotional journey of twelve-year-old Ebony Smart. When her grandpa dies, Ebony is sent to Dublin to live with an aunt she didn’t know existed, with only her pet rat, Winston, for company. Aunt Ruby informs Ebony that she is part of the Order of Nine Lives - a special tribe of people who reincarnate. She claims Ebony has one week to break a terrible curse or else die – and if she fails, the future of the Order of Nine Lives, and her family, is at risk. Immediately believable, right?

Erm…hardly! So how do you create fictional and otherworldly characters that are realistic, grabbing the reader’s attention so they want to come on a journey with you? The way I see it, there are three golden rules:

1)      Your reader must be able to feel emotion towards each character (this can be positive or negative).
2)      Your reader must be able to identify with some aspects of each character.
3)      Your characters must behave consistently – they should change and grow, but in a way that is true to their personal world view.
Ernest Hemingway famously said, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”
I think that’s the best advice I’ve heard on creating characters. If you delved into the lives and family history of most people, you’d find weird stories, skeletons in the closest, and shocking or unbelievable events – as the saying goes, fact is often stranger than fiction. So when you write fantasy and fantastical characters, you can make anything believable so long as the characters show realistic personality traits, believable emotions, and react in a way that suits their individuality.
My characters appear before the storyline when I write my books, and I always write a ‘draft zero’ in exactly one month, letting the characters lead me. It gives me the clay that I need to sculpt my story. I don’t plot or plan character bios like some writers do, and I don’t plot or plan my stories until the second draft – I write organically in the early stages, and then add the details later.
When people find out you’re a writer, they always want to know if you base your characters on real people. They ask if you’ve got revenge on someone by writing them into a book. Friends and family often want to know whether they feature as a character. As people we’re curious about people – fictional or real. And seeing as books play out differently in every reader’s mind, in every reader’s imagination, I believe people in books are particularly intriguing.
Personally, I find that influences come in many guises; your own experiences, your friends and family and colleagues, characters in books and films, songs, random events you’ve witnessed, conversations overheard, philosophical ideas… the possibilities are endless. But when you take all these influences – often without realising or intending to – and meld them into a character, that character then takes on a real personality of its own.
Here’s a bit of background into some of my characters - where they came from and how they evolved…
Ebony Smart – Having grown up in the South West of Ireland (where I live now), Ebony has to quickly adapt to city life in Dublin (where I used to live), with a completely new family that’s full of crazy ideas about being reincarnated. I needed Ebony to be a smart and quick-witted girl, who was feisty but also adaptable. I’ve experienced plenty of change and I’m extremely determined, so I put quite a lot of myself into the character of Ebony. Then, for the crazy stuff, I researched some great characters, including Lydia from Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, Jo March from Little Women, and I watched lots of Manga cartoons like Spirited Away, Origin and Princess Mononoke. 
Winston – I wanted Ebony to have an animal that would be her friend, her one constant when she moves to her new surroundings - and a pet rat fit the bill perfectly. When I was a teenager, lots of my friends had rats as pets (some still do), and it always strikes me how smart and wily these creatures are. Contrary to popular belief, rats are actually very clean and affectionate when they’re not living in sewers. Researching Winston was easy – a few memories, a trip to the pet shop, and some YouTube clips. As for the talking bit – all animals communicate in their own way. I just had to find a way for Ebony to be able to understand him.
Grandpa Tobias – As Ebony’s guardian, I wanted Grandpa Tobias to be gentler on Ebony (like doting grandparents often are), but with the sprightly spirit of e.g. Grandpa Joe from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I didn’t have any grandparents growing up, but a lot of the Grandpa character is based on my own father. My father was 20 years older than my mother, so more of a grandpa age when I met him. I didn’t know him very well at all, and he died a few years after we got in contact, but he was my introduction to countryside living and it made a huge impression. Rather than a true portrayal, this is what I imagined my father to be like when I was small.
Zach Stone – This character emerged from nowhere, and I couldn’t find another character like him for inspiration. So instead, I followed the advice of friend and author, Isabel Abedi: I chose an actor (Ezra Miller) who could play him. Then I watched some YouTube clips to see how the actor moved, how he reacted to things, the faces he pulled. This really helped to give Zach colour and personality. 
This is just a brief insight into some of the characters in The Book of Learning and how they developed. All authors write differently, but I hope this post has given you an idea of how my own characters become people rather than caricatures.

What about you? As a writer, where do you get inspiration for your characters? And as a reader, which characters have stayed with you and why?
Fab post! Thanks, Elizabeth - I can't wait to read the book! In addition to the awesome post, we have photos of Elizabeth's dog Franklyn. Because like me, she knows my audience well!

For more from Elizabeth and Franklyn, check her out on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors on My Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Leigh Bardugo - How do you follow up one of the best YA epic fantasy series of recent years? By writing a heist story set in the same universe, OBVIOUSLY. I read Bardugo's Six Of Crows in two sittings, finishing between 5 am and 8:30 am this morning (it's a long book) - it really is THAT good. I won't say much as it's not out yet but I can't wait for people to meet The Dregs!

Susie Day
- I ADORE Susie Day's MG quartet the Pea's Book series, and spin-off The Secrets of Sam and Sam is just as good. However prior to writing them she also wrote some really brilliant YA books (I've JUST forgiven her for The Twice-Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones, which completely destroyed me several years ago) which you shouldn't miss!

Patricia Elliott - Elliott's French Revolution-set adventure duology the Pimpernelles books, her Victorian Gothic thriller The Devil in the Corner, and recent MG mystery House of Eyes, set in London in 1909, all capture the places portrayed brilliantly. They also all have superb plots and excellent characters.

Helen Eve - I think Eve's first novel Stella is something of an acquired taste - I quite liked it first time I read it but it wasn't until rereading six months later, after I couldn't stop thinking about it, that I fell completely in love with it. She brings to life a wonderfully exaggerated version of school and ties into Great Expectations with great skill. Prequel Siena is arguably an even better book - I'm hoping there'll be a third to come!

Natasha Farrant - The Things We Did For Love is still one of the best YA novels I've ever read, a heartbreaking World War II story, but Farrant's more recent Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby are also wonderful - excellent stories about a lovely family.

Louise O'Neill - I've now had my heart torn into several pieces and trampled on by both Louise O'Neill's books, stunning dystopian debut Only Ever Yours and upcoming contemporay Asking For It, which I read in a little over an hour this morning as I knew if I put it down I wouldn't be able to pick it up again. It's an emotionally draining read but one that mature teens and adults shouldn't miss.

Non Pratt - My favourite UKYA contemporary of last year was Trouble; Remix is a strong contender for my favourite of this year so far. Non captures British teens, particularly their dialogue, possibly better than anyone else currently writing.

Katherine Rundell
- Rundell's debut The Girl Savage wasn't altogether to my liking but showed promise; however her second book Rooftoppers is arguably the ONE book of the decade I think is most likely to be looked at as a classic in years to come, and third novel The Wolf Wilder is probably the best book I've read all year. Her writing is beautiful and her characters are amazing.

Keris Stainton - Keris started off writing YA like Jessie Hearts NYC and Della Says OMG, moved to a slightly younger audience with the wonderful Reel Friends series - which I'd describe as YA/MG crossover - and upcoming Counting Stars is aimed at the upper end of YA (to the point where when I bought a copy at YALC, Hot Key warned me of sexytimes - they weren't wrong!) She's also written NA under a pen name. Whatever she's writing, she's consistently entertaining and you know you're guaranteed a fun read!

Robin Stevens - I absolutely love Robin's Wells & Wong mystery series! I am SURE that if/when she turns her hand to something else she will be equally awesome, but I hope there's a lot more historical mysteries to come from her. (I DID like the suggestion a while back that she could maybe have Daisy and Hazel's daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters in future series, so perhaps she'll end up doing sci-fi!)

Note: I was sticking to people I've read more than one book by - Mel Salisbury, Lauren E James, Abi Elphinstone, Eleanor Wood, Mike Revell, Moira Fowley-Doyle, Irfan Master, Becky Albertalli, Sarah Benwell and Lisa Williamson are just a handful of the people whose debuts are so fabulous that I'll gladly buy everything else they release!

Who's on your auto-buy list?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Guest Post: Dark, Dark Summer by Carla Spradbery

Thrilled to have my first author guest post on this site for a while, as Carla Spradbery talks us through just why summer can be sinister!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream….

What do you think of when someone mentions the summer? Maybe your mind turns to sunshine, ice creams and lazy holidays abroad. Personally, the horror writer in me isn’t really content with these fluffy ideals. Not when there are far more sinister ideas to turn to.

How can summer be sinister, I hear you ask? Let me explain.

Our traditional view of horror usually revolves around the long, dark nights, but in the summer we don’t worry about such things as ghosts and ghouls. The sunlight banishes the monsters from our minds back to the ungodly netherworlds in which they reside. And so we begin to relax, content in the knowledge that the light of the long summer evenings will protect us from the bogeyman. But that’s the magic of summer horror… With our defences down, we become prey for a very different kind of beast.

The maniac killer, the monster who hunts simply for the sake of hunting.

Think about it. How many North American horror movies are set in the summer? And what do they all have in common? Many typical teen slashers are set in idillic surrounds, with camp fires and log cabins, or long days at the beach. Not to mention the bikini clad girls and tanned, muscle-bound guys. Combined with lowered inhibitions, exposed skin, illicitly obtained alcohol and the inevitable storm clouds of pheromones, we know that sex is in the air and, in teen slashers, sex almost equals death. So what better place for our antagonist to go on the hunt to satisfy his blood lust than a remote location, with endless hiding places and a plethora of victims preoccupied with satisfying their own urges? Classic horror flick Friday the 13th is a great example of how the teen summer dream can very quickly be turned on its head with the introduction of a homicidal maniac. In an American summer camp, there is little adult supervision and with the long, light evenings, it’s all too easy to let one’s guard down.

In Stephen King’s novel IT, we see a group of kids, ‘The Losers’, whose summer stretches out endlessly before them. They spend their time in The Barrens, a small tract of land heavily covered in trees and plant life, and even build an underground clubhouse there. But are they safe? Well, given that this is a King novel, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. Like the teens in Friday the 13th, our protagonists are being stalked by a terrifying hunter - Pennywise the Clown, a monster that feeds on fear. Like the victims in Friday the 13th, our protagonists in ‘IT’ are vulnerable, spending their time away from parental supervision. Again, it’s the vulnerability that makes the summer a perfect setting for this horror story.

Finally let us head to the beach, simply because I can’t end this piece on summer horror without mentioning Jaws. While our summer camp teens in Friday the 13th may have been a little less wary than they could have been, there’s very little to be said against the innocents whose plans for a quiet day at the beach ended with them ripped to pieces, inside the belly of a monster Great White. A hunter that has no typical victim. You could be blonde, brunette, male, female, black or white… To this monster, we all taste the same.

In the autumn and winter, when the nights are long and dark, we are on our guard. We can avoid the graveyards and the shadows where the vampires and werewolves may be hiding and we might think to check under the bed before turning out the light.
But in the summer? We don’t think about such things.
And that is what makes us such easy targets…

Happy holidays!

Credit to Seamus Allen (@shamjaz) for ideas and movie references.

Carla is the author of The 100 Society, which was a great read, and The Memory Hit, which is high on my TBR pile and I'm really looking forward to reading - I've heard many wonderful things about it! Both are published by Hodder Children's Books.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Book Review: Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Falcio del Mond and his companions Kest and Brasti used to be Greatcoats; travelling Magister's upholding King's Law. Then they stood and watched as their King was killed by the Dukes who took control of the kingdom, and their company of 144 supposedly brave men and women are scattered throughout the land and reviled as traitors. The three are working as hired security while hoping to fulfil their last promise to the King, until one of their clients is killed and they're framed for his murder. Running for their lives, they're caught in a conspiracy which could have dark consequences for the entire land.

I was completely drawn into this from the very first chapter, which nails an outstanding mix of excitement and humour - it's a book which never takes itself all that seriously, reading as a swashbuckling fantasy with boastful leads who know they're better fighters than nearly anyone they can come up against. That same mix of thrilling action with a fairly light touch is sustained for most of the book, with just a few moments later on which see the plot take a darker turn, and it's a refreshingly fun read. It's also set in a very interesting world - magic exists, but it plays a major role in rather few scenes; this is definitely low fantasy with political intrigue - just WHAT are the evil dukes planning? - being the most important part of the setting.

I'll be completely honest and say that I could have lived without the fridging of the hero's wife, who we learn in a flashback (thankfully, not an explicit one) was raped and killed. But there is SO MUCH good stuff here! The friendship, loyalty and bickering between the three central Greatcoats is fantastic to read, Falcio has an amazing voice, and de Castell's fight scenes are staggeringly exciting. There are also numerous superb twists which left me constantly guessing what would happen next - and also what HAD happened in the past; there's a really strong use of flashbacks to show the history of the Greatcoats from Falcio first hearing about them, to he and the King restarting them, to the terrible night which saw them stand aside and let their king be killed.

I'm intrigued to see where things go in book two, which I note is substantially longer. On the one hand, this felt really refreshing as a fantasy novel weighing in at around 350 pages is fairly rare in my experience. On the other hand, so many threads come together at the end of this one - particularly some very promising character development for several female characters - and we get such a brilliant set-up for the next book that I'll trust de Castell to keep my attention just as glued to his writing in that book as I was in this!

Hugely recommended, perfect for fans of Scott Lynch's wonderful Locke Lamora series - but also a great entry point for people who haven't read too much fantasy and are looking to dip a toe into the genre.