Winged Reviews A young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

Blog Tour: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

Blog Tour: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

Kicking off the Ice Like Fire blog tour, with an intro to the trilogy by author Sara Raasch and an excerpt from the the first chapter of the sequel to Snow Like Ashes:

Intro to the Trilogy

by Sara Raasch

The SNOW LIKE ASHES trilogy is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Meira who is one of the last surviving refugees from the Kingdom of Winter. In the first book, SNOW LIKE ASHES, she’s trying to help the other refugees free their enslaved kingdom from the tyrannical king of Spring. ICE LIKE FIRE, the sequel, starts three months after the end of SNOW LIKE ASHES, with Meira and her group dealing with the repercussions of everything that happened at the end of SLA (SPOILERS): Winter is now free, the king of Spring is dead, and Meira is the true queen of Winter.


excerpt from Ice Like Fire

Five dented helmets sit lopsided over five equally dented breastplates; five black suns shine, scratched yet distinct, on the silver metal. More soldiers than I could ever take on my own, but as I stand in the center of their ring, boots planted in the snow, I cock an eyebrow at the closest one, the calm that precedes a fight descending over me.

My chakram already rests in my hand, but part of me doesn’t want to throw it just yet, reveling in the feel of its smooth handle against my palm. Dendera thought herself so clever, hiding it where she did—but really, giving it to the Cordellan soldiers was almost too easy. Where else would I go for a weapon if not the weapons tent?

“Do it!” comes a high-pitched squeal.

“Shh, she’ll hear you!” A deluge of shushing follows when I snap my head toward the row of boulders outside my ring of mock enemies. A cluster of small heads ducks behind the largest rock.

“She saw us!” “You’re standing on my foot!” “Be quiet!”

A smile flutters on my lips. When I face the closest of the soldiers again, the pile of snow within the dented helmet and breastplate sags a little, knocked askew by the same gust of icy wind that beats at my skirt. I’m not in battle gear—I’m in a sleeveless gown of pleated ivory fabric, my hair done up in elaborate braids. My “enemies” are stacks of snow that I hastily kicked together and dressed in the discarded Spring armor that litters my kingdom. My audience isn’t an army, but a group of curious Winterian children who followed me out of the city. The chakram is real, though, and the way my body reacts to it makes this almost believable.

I’m a soldier. Angra’s men surround me. And I will kill every one of them. My knees bend, hips pivoting, shoulders twisting and muscles knotting up. Inhale, exhale, spin, release—the moves rise from my memory, as ingrained into my body as the act of walking, despite the fact that it’s been three months since I last threw my chakram.

The blade breaks out of my palm with a hiss that punctures the cold air. It whirls into the closest enemy, rebounds off a rock, knocks into the next soldier, and sings back to my hand. Every taut nerve relaxes and I exhale, long, deep, pure. Snow above, that feels good. I let the chakram fly again, and again, finishing off the remaining soldiers. Cheers erupt from behind me, tiny voices laughing as snowflakes settle over the fallen bodies of my victims. I stay in the position of my last catch, hips bent and chakram firm in my hand, but the illusion is thoroughly broken now—in the best way.

Extracted from Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch. Published 2015 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

About Ice Like Fire


It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

About Sara Raasch

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

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Blog Tour: Railhead by Philip Reeve

Blog Tour: Railhead by Philip Reeve

Today, we are happy to hosting the W stop in this alphabet blog tour to celebrate the new book by Philip Reeve, Railhead! When this book came into my life, I was immediately intrigued. A space opera about a thief and a super cool intergalactic rail system? Mind blown. So excited by this book!

W is for Workers

By Philip Reeve

Railhead is set in a hi-tech future, where vehicles drive themselves, robots are widespread, and buildings have minds of their own. It’s strange to think of anyone still working at manual jobs in a society where technology can do so much, but they do. The godlike Guardians who watch over this society aim to keep it stable, and perhaps they think it will lead to instability if there aren’t jobs for people – or maybe they believe that human beings have a need to work.* The laws they laid down long ago reserve many jobs for human beings, and on industrial worlds like Cleave, where my hero Zen lives, the factories and refineries are mostly staffed by human labour. (Though lately the factory owners have found a loophole in the rules and started classifying Motorik android labourers as human, sparking violent anti-Moto riots by workers who fear for their futures.)

One of those workers (and one of those rioters) Is Zen’s sister Myka, who drives a cumbersome lifter-loader called an Iron Penguin at a facility deep in the canyon city. Since much of Railhead takes place among people with unimaginable wealth and power I felt it was important that Zen and his family come from the very bottom of their society, and Myka is the breadwinner who keeps them (just about) afloat down there. They could probably get help if they knew who to ask – this isn’t some neo-liberal nightmare future that I’m writing about, their are safety nets – but Zen and Myka’s mother is mentally ill, prone to paranoid delusions; she’s turned down help whenever it was offered, and run from it till she landed up in Cleave. And Myka is too angry to ask anyone for help, or maybe she’s just given up. Holding the family together has left her cynical; she even flirts with the shadowy Human Unity League, a bunch of flaky would-be rebels who dream of overthrowing the Empire and perhaps the Guardians themselves.

But I like Myka. She’s one of the good people of the book, honest and exasperated. She’d never stoop to petty theft, the way her brother does. When the chips are down, she’ll scowl and grumble and complain at how unfair it was – but then she’ll do the right thing.

*The real reason, of course, is that I wanted my hero to have a grim life which he could dream of escaping. A future where everyone has all they need and lives a life of leisure might make a nice daydream, but I couldn’t write a whole book about it.

About Railhead

Railhead by Philip Reeve

RAILHEAD is the long-awaited new novel by Carnegie and Guardian Book Award winner Philip Reeve. It’s a book that he has been thinking about for ten years and that is hotly anticipated by fans, reviewers and the book-trade. It is a gripping story written for both teens and adults alike, with the epic sweep and emotional pull of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. The film rights to RAILHEAD have been sold to Warner Brothers.

RAILHEAD is the story of Zen Starling, a petty thief and self-confessed ‘railhead’ who loves to ride the rails to nowhere. It is set in a far-flung galaxy connected by thousands of gates, linked by indestructible rails – The Great Network, where hundreds of sentient trains criss-cross the universe in seconds. Zen Starling is chosen by the mysterious and powerful Raven to steal something that has the power to bring everything in this galaxy and the next to an end.

About Philip Reeve

Railhead photo

Philip is best known for his multi award-winning Mortal Engines quartet, which won the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize, the Blue Peter Book Award, and the Guardian Children’s Book Award. He has also won the prestigious CILIP Carnegie Medal with Here Lies Arthur.

Philip studied an art Foundation Course at Brighton, followed by a diploma at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology. Three years as an art student having rendered him almost unemployable, he returned to Brighton where he worked in an independent bookshop while pursuing non-paying sidelines as writer/producer/director of low budget film and comedy projects. Forced by lack of funds to track down some cartooning work, Philip became a freelance illustrator where he remained for several years, before writing novels. Philip moved to Dartmoor in1998, where he now lives with his wife Sarah and his son Sam. Dartmoor with its huge expansive skies and changing landscape has been an inspiration for his work. Philip travels up and down the country and internationally, holding events and attending festivals. Many of these events are with his co-author Sarah McIntyre for the Reeve & McIntyre Production books including Oliver and the Seawigs, Cakes in Space and Pugs of the Frozen North.

Philip Reeve’s website: Facebook:

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Bookish Firsts: Lucy Saxon

Bookish Firsts: Lucy Saxon

Bookish Firsts Banner

Hi again and welcome back to the YA Shot blog tour! Today, we have Lucy Saxon, author of Take Back the Skies and The Almost King. Lucy is also doing a Bookish Firsts first, a video, which is really exciting!


YA Shot is a one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade ‘festival’ taking place in the centre of Uxbridge on Wednesday 28 October 2015 in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge. 71 authors will be involved in a programme of events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of 6 fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops – one of which I’ll be running! Hope to see you there!

Bookish Firsts

With author Lucy Saxon

About Lucy Saxon

Lucy Saxon is 20 and lives in Hertfordshire with her parents. She describes herself as a cosplayer, con-goer, book-lover and all-round nerdgirl.

Lucy wrote her first novel, Take Back the Skies, at the age of sixteen, finding a home for it with Bloomsbury at seventeen, and is now working on the rest of the series.

When not writing, Lucy spends most of her time on the internet, reading books and slaving over her sewing machine.

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Blog Tour: Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse by Laura Wood

Blog Tour: Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse by Laura Wood

Today I’m so pleased to welcome debut author Laura Wood to the blog to talk about her huge win and the publication of her book Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse. It’s a really great story for all aspiring authors out there, so read on to find out Laura’s unconventional road to publication!

On winning The Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

By Laura Wood

The only thing I had ever won in my life before this competition was two tickets to see the Power Rangers Live. My name was pulled out of the spinning tombola on Live and Kicking and I had entered the competition, in a fit of selflessness, on behalf of my little brother. So when I entered the Montegrappa Scholastic a prize for New Children’s Writing I did not expect to win.

I first saw the prize mentioned by someone on Twitter. To enter the competition you needed to submit the first 5000 words of a book for children aged 8-12 and a one page synopsis outlining the rest. First prize was a publishing deal with Scholastic, agency representation with LBA books, and a beautiful fountain pen from Montegrappa. I had had the idea for my book, Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse in my head for a few years, ever since working as a children’s bookseller for Waterstones, but I had been too nervous to write it down. I think a blank word document might be the scariest thing in the world. When I saw the information about the competition I decided that writing 5000 words didn’t sound so scary, that I could do that and then put those words in a drawer and come back to them when I had time. I very nearly didn’t submit my entry, and I think about that quite a lot these days, how taking that chance and having a go changed my life.

When Lena, my lovely agent at Scholastic, got in touch and said that they were considering putting me on the shortlist and did I have a full manuscript I said ‘of course!’ and then I spent three furious, painful weeks writing the rest of it. I was in a lecture at the university where I work when Lena rang me to say that I had won. I could see her number flashing on my phone but I couldn’t answer. Afterwards, outside the lecture theatre I listened to the message she left asking if I could ring her back and my hands were shaking so much that I could hardly hold the phone. I can’t tell you a lot about our conversation. I know I cried. I think I swore a bit. I asked her if she was joking (several times). I sat outside the lecture theatre for an hour before I stopped shaking enough to drive home.

I still feel so emotional thinking about it now! Since winning the competition so many exciting things have happened. Not only has my childhood dream of seeing my book in a bookshop come true, but Scholastic have asked me to write another book about Poppy’s adventures, and I have just finished the first draft of that. Poppy is also being translated into lots of different languages so children all over the world will be holding my book in their hands. These things are facts but I still find them utterly unbelievable.

The finished version of Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse was released this month and thanks to my designer Sam Perrett and illustrator Beatrice Bencivenni, it is a thing of extreme beauty. Thanks to my editor Lena, and my agent Louise the words inside are pretty good too. They helped me so much, and although the narrative has actually changed very little from my original draft it is a much richer and more thoughtful book because of their hard work.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to be a writer then you should go for it. No one can find you if you don’t put yourself out there. My road to publication was an unusual one but there are a lot of different ways to make yourself heard. Don’t give up! And if you see an interesting writing competition then enter it. I used to think normal people didn’t win competitions but now I know they do. Because I’m one of them.

About Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse

Poppy Pym

Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children’s Writing. Poppy Pym has grown up in the circus, eating candy floss for breakfast and learning about lion taming … until her circus family decides she needs a more traditional education, and they send her to boarding school. At first, Poppy has trouble fitting in at St Smithen’s, a school that is very different from the circus. But when an ancient Egyptian ruby comes to the school and dangerous accidents start occurring, it’s up to Poppy to save her new home and solve the mystery of the Pharaoh’s curse!

About Laura Wood

Laura WoodLaura Wood is the winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing. She has just completed her PhD at the University of Warwick studying the figure of the reader in nineteenth century literature. POPPY PYM AND THE PHARAOH’S CURSE is her first novel.

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Bookish Firsts: Matt Whyman

Bookish Firsts: Matt Whyman

Bookish Firsts Banner

So excited to host my first stop for the YA Shot blog tour! I’m excited to host Matt Whyman, who is one of my favourite people and the author of the amazing books, The Savages and American Savage. Matt was super enthusiastic and answered all our questions and a special one on libraries, who are the main beneficiaries of YA Shot!


YA Shot is a one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade ‘festival’ taking place in the centre of Uxbridge on Wednesday 28 October 2015 in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge. 71 authors will be involved in a programme of events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of 6 fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops – one of which I’ll be running! Hope to see you there!

Bookish Firsts

With author Matt Whyman

What is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
whyman-StruwwelpeterI found it while clearing my father’s house recently – stuck together with tape and with pages missing, and yet it still feels like some demonic relic I should leave well alone: Struwwelpeter – a collection of cautionary tales by a German writer called Heinrich Hoffmann in which small children come to sticky ends. Brrrrr.

What is the first book you wrote (can be published or unpublished)?
I started working as an agony uncle for a teenage magazine called Bliss long before my first novel was published. In fact, my first books were advice titles for Hodder & Stoughton. I started with SMOKING, the follow up was called DRINKING and then the climax to the trilogy – DIVORCE & SEPARATION.

What is the first book character you loved?
I have to confess I didn’t read much when I was younger. And if I did, I don’t remember. I was too busy setting fire to Action Men and lobbing them from windows. The first book I truly got into, no lie, is a Joan Collins autobiography. I still love her for that. So, my answer is: Joan.

whyman-hotzoneWhat is the first book you recommend to anyone you meet?
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. It’s a few years old now, non-fiction, but pretty much foretold the ebola outbreak. I gave it to my daughter to read when she was about 13. She’s now studying Medicine at university, and holds that book responsible. It reads like a supercharged thriller, and I recommend it to anyone.

What is the first book you will pack on your upcoming holiday?
I ALWAYS pack Papillon by Henri Charriere. I’ve been taking it on trips for the last five years, and reading about the same number of pages each time. I do love it, even though I don’t read very much.

whyman-angelWhat is the first book you would save if your house was burning?
My signed copy of And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

What was your first signed book?
Apart from the above, I don’t have many signed editions. My wife is in publishing, however, and worked as a rep when we first moved in together. I will never forget our hallway was rammed to the rafters with signed editions of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, who was one of her authors. I literally tripped over those books for months. His signature is pretty much imprinted on the inside of my eyelids as a result. Thanks, Louis.

Who is the first author you ever met?
Good question! I must’ve met a few authors when I first started going out with my wife-to-be. She used to tell me horror stories about how badly behaved some of them could be – ridiculous demands, tantrums and meltdowns. I loved those stories, always aspired to do the same thing, but sadly I was brought up properly.

What is the first library you went to as a kid?
I grew up in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. From a very early age, I made weekly visits to the local library with my mum – who used to borrow records. I just remember wandering between what felt like towering banks of books; terrified that I would be told off for breathing too loudly.

About Matt Whyman

Matt Whyman has written widely for all ages across a range of subjects – in fiction, advice and memoir. His adult books include Man or Mouse, Columbia Road, Oink! My Life With Minipigs (published in paperback as Pig in the Middle), and Walking with Sausage Dogs (Hodder). For teens, he is the award-winning author of titles including Superhuman, XY, XY:100, Boy Kills Man, The Wild (Hodder), the So Below trilogy, Inside the Cage, Goldstrike (Simon & Schuster), The Savages and American Savage (Hot Key Books)

Matt has also written many books under different names. Notably, he serves as literary executive for the reclusive Romanian End Time theorist, folk tale scholar and Carnegie-nominated mystery writer, Lazlo Strangolov. Two children’s novels by Lazlo have surfaced to date – Feather and Bone and Tooth and Claw (Walker). Co-writing with Michelle Misra, under the pen name of Jack Carson, Matt is responsible for the Battle Champions action series for younger readers (Simon & Schuster).

Matt is married with four children, and lives in West Sussex, UK. Find Matt on Twitter @MattWhyman and at

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