Waiting On Wednesday: Heartland by Lucy Hounsom


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine where you showcase which books you’re looking forward to being released.

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I’ve been a little behind with Waiting on Wednesday so, after a couple of hectic weeks, its nice to get back to it again.

This week, I’m waiting on the second novel in The Worldmaker Trilogy by Lucy Hounsom, Heartland. My first ever book review on this blog was for Starborn, the first novel in the trilogy (which I gave 3.5/5), and I was lucky enough to meet Hounsom and get a signed copy of the novel at an event at my university, where Hounsom also studied. Whilst the first book didn’t blow me away, I found that there was a lot Hounsom could easily improve on, and I still enjoyed it, so I’m excited to see if she’s made the necessary improvements in Heartland. Check out the review for Starborn here.


UK Release Date: 30th June 2016 (tomorrow!)



Kyndra has saved and damned the people of Mariar. Her star-born powers healed a land in turmoil, but destroyed an ancient magic – which once concealed them from invaders. Now Kyndra must head into enemy territory to secure peace.

She finds the Sartyan Empire, unstable but as warlike as ever. It’s plagued by dissident factions, yet its emperor still has the strength to crush her homeland. The Khronostians, assassins who dance through time, could help Kyndra; or they might be her undoing. And deep within the desert, Char Lesko struggles to control his own emerging powers. He’s been raised by a mercenary whose secrets could change everything – including the future and the past.

But when Kyndra and Char meet, will their goals align? Kyndra must harness the full glory of the stars and Char has to channel his rage, or two continents will be lost.

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When Lucy Hounsom attended the event at my uni, she actually read an exclusive extract from Heartland and, from what I can remember, the writing style sounded as though it had improved since Starborn. I liked the introduction of this new character called Char and I’m excited to see what he brings to the story.

I also think the covers for The Worldmaker Trilogy are really well put together and they’re not cheesy, like some fantasy book covers can be. I’m not the most avid fantasy fan – I have to be in the mood for fantasy and I’m not really a fan of proper high fantasy – but I think Hounsom’s trilogy has the ability to appeal to a wider audience, like with A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), due to it not neglecting the human aspect for over-complicated magic systems and hundreds of mythical races.

So, if you haven’t read Starborn, I do recommend it as a slightly different fantasy novel although, like I said, there are things that need to be improved. Hopefully the second novel will have done just that and won’t fall prey to the curse that the middle book in a trilogy usually suffers from.

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Have you read Starborn? What did you think? Are you looking forward to Heartland? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)


Stacking the Shelves | TBR April

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme from Tynga’s Reviews where you showcase the books you’ve received or purchased.

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This month, I’ve taken advantage of a birthday Amazon voucher and the £10 deals to purchase these bad boys (although Bone Clocks I got for Christmas).

The list is:

The Lie Tree, Rebel of the Sands and All the Birds in the Sky are the most recent releases and I’ve seen a lot of hype about the first two especially from other bloggers, so I’m excited to get into them. I was also a big fan of Hugh Howey’s Wool series so I can’t wait to read something else by him. And, obviously, the Red Rising series has garnered a lot of attention too. There are also two more books on the way to me:

I know, I know, I’m pretty late to both series, but I’m finally giving them a chance. I’d originally heard hit and miss things about both books upon their original release so I gave them both a miss. But I’ve had a severe lack of zombies in my life recently and the Rot and Ruin series has seemingly picked up so I’m looking forward to being entirely freaked out. As for Throne of Glass, if you’ve read my review of Starborn by Lucy Hounsom, you’ll know I can be a bit critical of the fantasy genre. I find it often slips into cliches and is just too cheesy sometimes, so I really need something fresh and well thought out to capture me in this genre. Saying that, though, I’ve put my initial hesitation aside about the Throne of Glass series after seeing how much the book blogosphere adores it. So, fingers crossed I like it.

And in terms of zombies, look out for my upcoming ‘A Novel Round-Up’ of my favourite zombie novels.

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Read any of these books? Let me know what you thought in the comments below. Happy reading this April!

Caitlin (1)

Review: Starborn by Lucy Hounsom


Starborn by Lucy Hounsom

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tor, 2015

My Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis: Kyndra’s fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age – powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.

Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man’s terrifying response. She’ll learn more in the city’s subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic.

If she survives the ordeal, she’ll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?

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My Review

As I said in a previous post, I was pretty excited to get my teeth into Starborn after Lucy Hounsom gave a talk at my university. Hounsom, a clearly avid fantasy fan, pitched the novel to us as a somewhat epic/high fantasy adventure for adults. However, those hoping for a myriad of strange creatures will be disappointed. Different races are hinted at, and there is of course magic, but ultimately the novel takes on a more Game of Thrones feel in that the human aspect is prioritised over warring races and talking creatures. However, magic is still at the forefront of this novel, revolving around a magical system that uses the sun and the moon, as well as the stars. I would also pitch this novel as more of a YA/adult crossover. There isn’t a cheesy YA romance, but the protagonist is a teenage girl, so I believe the novel would be suitable for older teens and adults alike.

It is clear from the outset that Kyndra is special. The novel follows the typical structure of village girl discovers she has powers. However, what power Kyndra has is not really revealed to us until 400 pages in, long after the reader has guessed it for themselves. This was a little annoying for me; I just wanted someone to come out with it already before I got even more annoyed with Kyndra’s obliviousness. I couldn’t quite believe Kyndra could really be that dumb and not work out what she was. She spent a lot of time denying it even though the facts were all there and she’d clearly accomplished things no regular mortal could. She is a feisty heroine at times, but sometimes lapses into being rather bland as plot takes precedence over characterisation. However, there is certainly room for Hounsom to develop Kyndra in the upcoming sequel, Heartland.

But what about the other characters? Kyndra is chiefly helped along in her quest by the mysterious Bregenne and the caring Nediah. Bregenne is a blind woman who wields Lunar power, Nediah her Solar counterpart.

Bregenne began as cold and intriguing and I was excited to see what dynamic she would have within the novel. However, Bregenne doesn’t seem to develop, but actually recedes somewhat. Suddenly, she isn’t this hard, troubled woman, but fragile and weak. There didn’t seem to be much reason for this change and I found myself frustrated with the character development.

Nediah, however, was developed much better. He provided some comic relief, but was also a rather complicated character in terms of the women in his life. There’s no romance between Kyndra and Nediah, but their dynamic is very interesting in the way it progresses, as they seem like siblings and I found myself enjoying their scenes together. He is a willful character, portraying a vaster range of emotions than Bregenne.

Other interesting characters include the sly and sarcastic Kait, and the ambiguous Medavle, who readers will encounter throughout the novel.

Also, the identity of Kyndra’s father is a clearly important mystery right from the beginning of the novel. I found the reveal an interesting plot twist that I didn’t see coming, much unlike Kyndra’s destiny.

I’ve given this book 3.5/5 because, whilst I really did enjoy it, and found it difficult to put down at times (despite the sometimes slow pacing), I found there was much room for improvement in terms of characterisation and world-building. Whilst the world-building throughout is quite unique, it needed some more explaining to be properly understood. Hopefully, Hounsom will develop both Kyndra and Bregenne in the next novel. Hounsom actually read an exclusive extract from the sequel for us at the reading and, whilst the scene involved new characters, I found it really interesting and can’t wait to see how the next installment develops on the first.

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If you’ve read Starborn, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Caitlin (1)


Starborn: Fresh-faced Fantasy


I have to be in the mood for fantasy. Whilst I love a bit of The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, I’m not an avid reader of the genre. I’ve never quite understood why that is, if I’m honest. Maybe it’s because fantasy can get a bad rep. Too many elves and dwarves, too many silly and unpronounceable names, too many nerdy teenage boys playing World of Warcraft.

But, yesterday evening I found myself attending an event at my university, Royal Holloway. The event was a reading from an alumni, Lucy Hounsom. I confess it was a last minute decision to go, but I thought I could pick her brains on the world of publishing and authors instead of lying in bed surrounded by sweet wrappers whilst my laptop burns a hole through my legs.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Lucy was friendly and very open, not at all a pompous author, an artsy grad who thinks their writing is the best thing since Chaucer. She read an extract from her novel, Starborn, a somewhat epic fantasy that follows the teenage Kyndra as she upsets an age old ceremony in her town and is forced into exile, only to discover that this departure from home will reveal powers she could only dream of.

As someone who only dabbles in fantasy, I found myself drawn in to the world Lucy had created almost immediately, and possibly even more so when she read an extract from the sequel, Heartland.

Whether it was the wine or the reading, I was keen to participate in the Q&A session afterwards. I found Lucy’s advice genuine and heartfelt. The event instilled me with a newfound confidence in my own writing and I subsequently bought a copy of Lucy’s novel. I’ll get round to reviewing it on here when I can finally read for fun again after the last two weeks of term. Who knows? Maybe I won’t be so scathing of elves afterwards.

Caitlin (1)