Monday, 22 May 2017

The Shondaland Book Tag (Original)

With me chatting to the lovely Luna's Little Library about a possible Book Tag idea and me trying to get a mini blog tour organise and figure out how to design a logo for said tour (as well as needing to write my post for this tour! ARGH!!!), you would think I wouldn't have think to create ANOTHER book tag thingy, would you?

Well, folks, you would be wrong. Apparently, I love the panic I put myself! So, here we are, welcome to my attempt of making an original book tag. I give you... THE SHONDALAND BOOK TAG!!!


Each question is linked (in one way or another) to Shondaland's TV show (past, present and future). Does that make sense? So, why don't we get started?! (and if you wanna do this tag, GO FOR IT! Just tell me or credit me so I know you've done it as am curious on what you guys say/think!)

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Noah Can't Even Do An Extract!

I mean, come on Noah!

*sigh* Fine, Noah. I will do the extract for you as part of the Noah Can't Even tour.

Anyway, hello Internet! Today is my (and the lovely Jim from YA Yeah Yeah) stop on the Noah Can't Even blog tour! Jim, to my knowledge, has a different stop post compared to mine so once done here, pop over to his and check it out!

But before I tell you guys what my stop is, let me explain what Noah Can't Even is. Noah Can't Even follows Noah who isn't having the best time at the moment. His dad went missing years ago. School is hell as his classmates discover that his mum is a Beyoncรฉ tribute act. His gran isn't really herself any more. And he only has one friend, Harry.

Why can't he be normal and have a normal life? When the lovely Sophie asks if he wants to come to a party, he wonders if this is the moment his luck is going to change. But life takes an unexpected turn when Harry kisses Noah...

So, as you can tell, my stop is an extract and am thrilled over what little titbit am showing you guys! Probably one of my fave moments in the book!

So, before I hand you over to the extract, just wanna thank Olivia from Scholastic for inviting me on this tour and to apologise for all the tweets I send her while reading this book (sorry about them!). I also want to thank Simon James Green for writing this book and to apologise for all the times I tweeted him while reading this (and those tweets demanding a sequel that contains kissing. Lots and lots of kissing...)

You can check out Simon online via his website (simonjamesgreen.com) and via his Twitter (@simonjamesgreen). And I believe Noah has his own twitter (@noahgrimes12) because, apparently, Simon and Scholastic are liars... *says nothing*

Now, with all that out of the way, ONTO THE EXTRACT!!! (Sorry about the long type. Was meant to be a PDF you could read and flick through but no idea how to upload it on here. Sorry in advance!)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

eBook Review - The Heart Collector

As you guys know, I blitz the whole Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy the early part of this year (Sin Eater's Daughter in January, Sleeping Prince in February and The Scarecrow Queen in March). And I really liked this series, with Scarecrow Queen being my favourite. And I remember chatting to Melinda at one point, going "You should write a small collection of short stories set in this world."

This must have been in the works because, a few months later, a small ebook collection of short stories set in this world was published!

The Heart Collector is a collection of three short stories set in the Sin Eater's Daughter world. We have two that have been released on the Waterstones's website for a limited amount of time - The King of Rats and The Heart Collector - and a third being published for the first time in this collection - Mully No-Hands.

All are prequel stories and you don't need to have read these to enjoy the trilogy. I want to make this clear before I go any further, explain what each story is.

The King of Rats is the story of when rats plague the city of Tallith and what triggers events that will reshape the world in centuries to come. The Heart Collector is a story of the Bringer who must wake and bring a girl to the Sleeping Prince for, one day, one girl will wake him from his slumber... Mully No-Hands is a fairy tale of a boy who has a beautiful mother and a rich father, who is destined to live a fairy-tale like life. But not all fairy tales end happily ever after...

Now, I have already read King of Rats (write-up for that is here) so I just jumped into The Heart Collector and Mully No-Hands. But out of the three stories, I enjoyed The Heart Collector the most. This story, I wished, was written as a standalone novella, almost in the same vein as The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer. I feel that this would stand up on its own, but add extra insight into the Sin Eater's Daughter story as this follows a different character.

This collection is very much for fans of the series and it adds an extra layer to the world.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Fallen Children Launch Party

Or, as I like to the call it, NICHOLAS CAGE CAKE!!! (hence the link and my reason why is coming soon!) 

So, last week, I was very kindly invited to the launch of David Owen's The Fallen Children. This was fluke as I met David at the launch party for Melinda Salisbury's The Scarecrow Queen and he asked if I wanted to come along. So, hidden in the depths of London, a small launch party for David and his slightly creepy book was taking place, filled with lovely kind people such as family, friends, authors, book publishing peeps, bloggers gathered. 

And I managed to sneak in! 

After sneaking in and buying a mystery copy of The Fallen Children (I have always told David I was going to buy a copy at his launch party), had a glass of pale ale (NOT WINE THIS TIME!), I spent time chatting briefly to David but to other people who turned up such as Jim from YA Yeah Yeah, Darran from ShinraAlpha, Charlie from @charlieinabookNicola Burstein, Non Pratt, Lisa Williamson, Robin Stevens, Simon P Clark and others (who's names I have forgotten as my memory is useless! But you know who you are and I hope you shout at me!). 

During this time, we had a speech from David (a clip is down below and I want to apologise for the audio. Hand was on my phone's mic!) 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Eurovision Failing to Celebrate Diversity - A Rant

So, as you guys know, last Saturday was my birthday and, to celebrate it, I had a lovely chill out day with my other half and, in the evening, went round neighbours to watch this year's Eurovision. (We agreed to do this last year before we realised it fell on the same day). It's going to be fun, silly and a good laugh, right? 

Oh... how my chill went flying out of the window within the first 5 minutes of Eurovision. And I spent the entire evening swearing at the telly (much to my neighbours shock. I swore more times in that 3 and half hour period than I have in the two-ish years I have known them!).

Why, I hear you ask. Because of so many things. But it comes down to one HUGE thing. 

This year's theme for Eurovision was "Celebrating Diversity". And guess what? DIVERSITY WASN'T CELEBRATED! 

We had three white male hosts hosting the event (this is a first from what I could research). Barring the singer for Australia, all the singers were white and able-bodied (Australia's singer is aboriginal). And, from what I saw, there was only two backing dancers/singers who were black. There was no one that I could see who was wearing a headscarf or reflect their faith. There are rumours that one of the singers involved has been accused of being homophobic and, because Eurovision tries to be political unbiased (ignore the votes, everyone!), there was no signs of LGBT+ on stage (maybe the Italian entry with the rainbow stripes on his sleeves. But that is kinda taken away due to the man in an ape outfit, dancing next to him. Make of that what you will...). 

I could go on. I could even point out that, during the point giving part of the show, one of the hosts thought it was ok to ask for a female hosts for their phone numbers. Not one, but three times and each time, the female hosts laughed it off but you can sense that they were uncomfortable. 

Basically, the fact that this show was celebrating diversity, it failed in a spectacular fashion. 

We all saw. And it was all we could talk about on social media! 
 

We all saw it and we all spoke about it. So why did it upset and anger me so much? 

Because it comes back to this idea that diversity is a buzzword. That there are people who see the term diversity as a fashionable issue to talk about now (until the next buzzword comes along). 

I've spoken about my views on this before on Luna's Little Library so won't go into it again. But SERIOUSLY?! Are we having this discussion again? 

We live in a world full of diversity. And this should be celebrate. So when you're going to celebrate it,  CELEBRATE IT AND SHOW US! 

The BBC did better with diversity on Eurovision through the semi-finals and the finals. Barring our singer, we had 4 hosts (if we include Katrina Leskanich who gave out our points this year). And while they were all white, all were over the age of 40, two of them were women and the two of them were gay. Plus, the ident that the BBC aired before Eurovision had more diversity within 30 seconds than Eurovision showed in over 3 hours. When this happens, you know there's a problem...


Now, I know I might be wrong on some of my info and hell, I still need to educate myself on diversity and I will sometimes get it wrong. But we need to champion diversity, regardless of gender, skin, religion, sexual identity. Diversity isn't a buzzword, isn't a flash in the pan. It's a long road and we've only just started... 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

DNFing Caraval


So, as you can see from my Twitter poll as part of my "Pick My Next Read", Caraval by Stephanie Garber won (which is surprise as, after reading Queen of the Tearling [review here, FYI], I thought you guys would pick The Bone Season or the sequel, The Invasion of the Tearling). So, on Sunday, I started this... 

So, I have made it a rule now to chat to you guys on if I ever DNF a book. I don't want you guys to read my blog and go "Oh, he's always so positive about books he write on his blog", which is true as I feel it is important to enjoy what you read. Reading should be a pleasure, something happy and should make you happy. Life is too short to read crap books. 

So, it pains me a lot that I have decided to put Caraval in my DNF pile. It pains me as I had such hopes for this. 

Now, before I go further, I am not saying this book is awful. I'm not. I have read and watch a ton of reviews where people are singing this book's praises. And I have read and watch a ton of reviews where people are more judgemental. This book is very much a marmite read, from people's reactions (I always like these type of books, truth be told). 

But I have decided to put this on my DNF (for now) pile. Notice I say, for now. Will explain in a tick. 

But my reasons for putting the brakes on this reading experience. The first was I wasn't enjoying reading this book. I am still in that heavy-fantasy reading mood. I want to read fantasy that has an edge or a bite to it. Hence why I kinda wanted to read The Bone Season or Invasion of the Tearling (as well as a few others). It's very difficult when you're in that headspace, I find. To jump from one extreme of one genre to the other end of that genre. It's jarring. 

There are other reasons linked to my brain going "Where's the meat" to this story. But the main thing I thought while I was reading the first 100-odd pages was "This would have been an awesome middle-grade book". I kept thinking that this was written as a middle-grade story - the style and the ideas just fitted middle-grade for some reason in my head - but, somewhere along the way of writing/edit, they tried to YA it by adding a possible love interest (it felt like it was going to go down the insta-love/lust route). Why, oh why, do we need another insta-love story in YA novels? I thought we were done with this troupe!  

Now, I do want to come back to this. I'm not DNFing this completely. There is potential here for me liking this story. I want to see what happens as people have opinions on this and I think, once am out of my heavy-fantasy reading mind space, I might like this. So, I'm not DNFing it completely (not now, anyway. Ask me in a few months time as I might change my mind), but I'm in no rush to return to it. Maybe when the second book in the series is published next year (this might be a series/duology)... 

So, I'm putting this on hold and, as I don't want to veto this vote, am going to try and read the runner-up of the poll, The Bone Season. Hopefully, this will go down better for me. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Audiobook Review - The Queen of the Tearling

I have been listening to this audiobook for over a month. I know I started this back in March and only told my Goodreads that I was listening to this in April. Plus, I finished this last weekend. So I have been with this story for longer than I normally would if I had the book version at the start. But I got a copy of the audiobook from Midas PR & Audible.co.uk and, halfway through listening to the audiobook and wanting to read this faster, I was given a copy of the book via Transworld Books themselves. Which was super lovely of these parties so thank you all. When I needed a break from one format, I jumped straight into the other! Plus, it was always nice to check where I was and see names of characters and compared to how I heard them. 

Kelsea is nineteen. Because of this, the soldiers have come for her. To take her to the city and reclaim what is rightfully hers - the throne. Kelsea is Queen of the Tearling. Because of this, she must leave her adopted parents, go to the city and take the throne and, somehow, begin the huge unspeakable task set before her - figure out how to save her people from the corruption from within her kingdom and the overwhelming threat of the Red Queen in the neighbour kingdom, who needs little excuse to invade. 

Kelsea has all the marks of a true Queen: fair, just and powerful. That is, if she can stay alive long enough... 

This book is an interesting creature. It's not your typical YA book. If you went into a bookshop, you would have to go into the adult fantasy/sci-fi section. But this has really strong crossover appeal. It's a mix of genres - historical, but set in the future and with hints of dystopian in it. Has fantasy elements, but they are few and far between. It's more political and has a wider cast of characters. It's difficult to explain this book. 

But, for some reason, it worked. A good chuck of this book, I really enjoyed it. It felt like a fantasy novel I have been waiting to read for ages and, at last, here it was! It was something I could sink my teeth and, once I found my footing with the story, I whizzed through. I wanted to know all the political and see the beginnings of the alliance that are setting up for, not only this book, but the trilogy as a whole. It had magic but used sparing. And there was strong characters and ideas and themes. It felt like a grown-up fantasy, something I really should be getting into more as I enjoy fantasy. And I wanted more. This story ticked most of my boxes when it comes to fantasy. 

I am going to admit there are problems. This wasn't perfect. I wasn't the biggest fan of the audiobook's narrator when I started this. I warmed to her as the story went along and, by the time we got a few chapters in, I couldn't imagine anyone else reading this. But, there were times, when she read it, I just didn't click. And when an action scene was happening, she would read louder and faster. 

But the reason it took such a long time to audiobook is because the first 100/120 pages, the characters were travelling on horseback. I get why this happened - we had to get to know some of our main players in this story and this is the best way - but it was SO SLOW! 

Another thing some people won't like while reading/listening to this story is that there is a lot of backstory to characters and a lot of long-winded descriptions/details. Now, I liked this, but I know some people won't. 

But I really enjoyed this. I'm surprised how much I did enjoy this! This felt like a fantasy book I have been waiting for a very long time to read, and I can not wait to read The Invasion of the Tearling

Monday, 8 May 2017

Noah Can't Even Launch Party

Last Wednesday, in the secret heart of the theatre area of London, a small book launch party was thrown. This is the launch party of Simon Can't Even by Simon James Green. And it was filled with family, friends, book publishing people, people from that glittering world of theatre and TV...

... and me. [insert the awkward here. No, wait. Insert that picture to the right now!]

Thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic (who will never invite me to anything again. See further down for reasons), I was invited to come to this launch party and, for once, I realise that I could (moved departments at work). So, out of work, changed into normal human clothes, popped onto train and, was shocked to discover that I had time to spare in London. I could pop into Foyles bookshop and have a snoop at the pretties (and, even though I should be saving money due to rent, I treated myself to a copy of The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. So, guess what I'll be reading soonish... maybe...). Then, once I figured out where the launch party was being held (very close to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Aladdin! And not that far from The Mousetrap [if you've read Simon Can't Even, you know why I reference that!]), I went in and discovered...

...bananas. Quite a few bananas. Not real bananas (because fruit is healthy and that is not allowed on this blog!), but inflatable toy bananas. Because we need any more reason to be a filthy-minded lot. (If you haven't met any YA book blogger/vlogger/person, our minds live in the gutter!)