Thursday, 27 July 2017

Mini Book Review - Professional Crocodile

When I was asked to read this by Chronicle Books, there was one reason why I said yes. The cover. I mean, LOOK AT IT! IT'S A CROCODILE PICKING OUT A TIE TO WEAR FOR WORK! A CROCODILE WEARING A TIE!!! That's all. Nothing else. I had to read this because of the crocodile and him deciding what tie to wear today!

Anyway, moving on, Professional Crocodile is a wordless picture book that follows a crocodile's morning. He gets up, brushes his teeth, eats a slice of toast and makes his way to work. Where he works might surprise some readers...

This was wonderful. There is no other way to describe it. It was charming. The story was simple and very everyday (which makes it more wonderful) and the illustrations were the highlight of the book.

Children will love this book and will be looking at people on their travels, trying to spot the crocodile going to and from work.

To prove my point, let me show you some of my fave illustrations...




ALSO, if you do ever see a hardback copy, take off the dust jacket. It reveals what the professional crocodile dreams of and it's possibly my favourite illustration!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Book Review - The Invasion of the Tearling

Two months. This book took me TWO MONTHS to read. TWO MONTHS, READERS!!! It didn't help that, for the first month, I was reading this as a side project as I wanted to read this series but I wasn't ready to return fully into this world...

I know, I'm an odd reader.

Anyway, The Invasion of the Tearling is the second book in the Tearling trilogy. Kelsea is the Queen of the Tearling, and she is fast becoming a queen of possible legend. She's fair, just and powerful.

But power is a double-edged sword... When she first came to the capital, she put an end to the horrible slave trade (this was back in book 1). But doing this defied the Red Queen, ruler of neighbouring country who rules with dark magic and fury.

With her armies ready to invade the Tearling, Kelsea has to find a way to protect her people. But with her beginning to get visions of a woman from before the Crossing and the walls of danger and mistrust growing around her, Kelsea and the Tearling's time are running out...

Right... ok... Writing this is going to be difficult so bear with me while I write my thoughts and feelings about this.

Because this book took me so long to read (TWO MONTHS!), I might be misremembering stuff and feelings but this, like the first book (review for The Queen of the Tearling is here), is an interesting beast of a book. It's interesting and, when it finds its footing, is gripping and complex (I enjoyed the complex twists and ideas this series is trying to lay out).

But there were moments where the book did lag and you flinched at certain issues the book tackles (some of these issues are triggers such as sexual assault, self-harm and others). Remember, this trilogy is found in the adult fantasy/sci-fi section rather than YA, so I understand this is more for an adult audience therefore tackles darker themes, but when it is sold as having huge crossover appeal, it would be useful to see if there was something to warn readers about trigger warnings (but this is a topic for a later date, me thinks...).

Don't get me wrong. I did like this book and I do plan to read the final book in the trilogy, The Fate of the Tearling, by the end of the year. I bought a paperback copy, against most of the book bloggers and vloggers who have read this and gone "DON'T DO IT! THE THIRD BOOK IN THE TRILOGY SUCKS!!!!". But I didn't seem to enjoy myself with Invasion as much as I did with Queen of the Tearling.

Maybe I'm being a little hard of this book. The writing is solid, the characters are complex and interesting to read, the political and religious intrigue was good and I always liked it when I read this and went "How is this going to pan out?". The same goes with characters relationship - I adore Kelsea's relationship with the Mace, and we got to spend more time with Kelsea and Pen. And with Kelsey's visions of the Pre-Crossing, most of the time, it made gripping reading. Most of this book is a solid fantasy read.

But, it didn't really hit the same heights as The Queen of the Tearling. It just missed it. There were times when situations and issues were put forward, but were either weren't resolved (I know, this is a second book in the series so foreshadowing, but some of these moments felt disjointed) or they were resolved far too quickly and out of character (the self-harm storyline is a good example for this).

While a solid read, Invasion of the Tearling didn't hit the same heights as its predecessor. I hold some hope that Fate of the Tearling will reclaim the wow factor, but am going to keep my hopes low due to everyone's reactions...

Monday, 24 July 2017

Big Finish's Hamlet - A Quick Q&A

Something a little different for the blog today!

Today, I would like to welcome Scott Handcock to the Pewter Wolf. Scott is a writer, a producer and director at Big Finish. And today, he's chatting about his upcoming production for Big Finish, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, starring Merlin's and Versailles's Alexander Viahos in the title role.

So before I hand it over to the mini Q&A, I just want to thank Scott for finding time to answer some questions and thanks to Paddy and everyone else at Big Finish who helped with random questions over dates and time!

If you're curious over Big Finish and wanna know more (yes, am going to do some info-dumping now!), check them at bigfinish.com or via @bigfinish on Twitter.

Now, here's the trailer and ONTO THE INTERVIEW!!!


Sunday, 23 July 2017

30 Minute Writing Sprint - Week 1

I don't know why I thought this was a good idea, but I really like it so I'm going to try and keep this up for the next few weeks/months.

I miss writing. When I was in my teens and in my early 20s, I wrote all the time. I had notepads full of stories. But somewhere along the way, I just stopped. Now, I have ideas for stories. LOADS! But I can't seem to have the patience or the dedication to start a story and TO FINISH IT. Basically, am lazy. So, I thought "Why don't I try and get back into writing by doing a writing sprint once a week? It can be anything. I just need to write." And, because I wanted to keep doing this, I thought I would include this on my blog.

So, the plan: once a week (I'm thinking Saturday or Sunday, but I just going to try and do this whenever I can!), I need to sit down with my laptop and, for 30 minutes, write. Just write. It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have be neat or make sense but I just have to write. And, once that 30 minutes are up, I must post it on the blog. Whatever I write, good or bad, I have to post it. To prove to you guys that I have done it and to show you guys that if I can write this awful car-crash writing, you can write too! And you guys probably write better than me!

So, to get it started, I wanted to just write something. Next week might be a Twitter poll idea or a song or try out a new genre (I fear it might be erotica [if I do, blame My Dad Wrote A Porno and We Write Sex!]). But as long as I just write, it doesn't matter!

Plus, I need to think of a title for the story after I wrote the 30 minutes are up!

So, you guys have to keep me in check and if I forget, SHOUT AT ME!!!

Now, who's ready to read something I write in the past 30 minutes...?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sailor Moon Crystal Book Tag

Ok, mini backstory. I was chatting to Luna from Luna's Little Library and went "Has there been a Sailor Moon Book Tag?" (there are but we didn't realise this till much later!). Luna wasn't sure so I wrote up some ideas and went "You know Sailor Moon better than me, what do you think of these?" and Luna read and made her own questions. So, Luna and myself would like to welcome you to our Sailor Moon Crystal Book Tag! 

So, how does this work? Well, each Sailor Scout has a question that you have to relate to a book you have read or are going to read. Now, you can answer all the questions or you can just do barring the last four (so you can ignore Sailor Star Fighter, Sailor Star Healer, Sailor Star Maker and Sailor Cosmos). It really depends on you! 



Oh, before I start, I know my Twitter handle is wrong on the image/gif. Luna made it then I decided to drop the numbers from my Twitter handle. So, it was correct when Luna made it and it was correct when I started writing this post. It's just not correct now at the time of posting the post!

Also, Luna tagged a few people on her post, so I suppose I better do the same. Let's see... I would like to tag @ChouettBlog, @LoveMikaylaEve@MaddieandBee@bedtimebookclub & @betterwordspod

So, now we've done that, IN THE NAME OF THE MOON, LET'S GET STARTED! (... see what I did there...)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The EU & World Food Programme - A Press Release

We interrupt your blog-reading time for a small press release about emerging European illustrations, the EU and the United Nations World Food Programme.

Shoes provide a step into normality for Syrian refugee children

European children’s book illustrators come together to show how Syrian refugee children find new hope and stability through everyday objects.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have teamed up with children’s book illustrators from across the EU to depict the importance of everyday objects in providing hope, security and comfort to refugee children who have been uprooted from their homes and normality.

As experts on understanding and visualizing the world from a child’s point of view, these emerging European illustrators have come together to portray how seemingly mundane items mean so much more to a refugee child than we could know. From a teddy bear or a story book to a toothbrush or a pair of shoes, these objects provide something they can call their own - an escapism from reality. These items comfort the children with a familiar taste of home and give them hope and the excitement that every child deserves.

Unleashing their imaginations
Sourced from twelve emerging illustrators from across the EU including Denmark, Greece and Northern Ireland, the illustrators show how everyday objects significantly impact the life of a child and help them to feel settled and confident again in their new surroundings.

Estonian-Born illustrator Aleksei Bitskoff shows us how children attach their hearts to objects they know and love, these objects are necessities that a child should never be without. The joy and excitement in these children’s eyes show the mesmerising effect simple objects can have on their imagination thanks to assistance from the EU.

Greek illustrator Aristotelis Falegos demonstrates the importance of shoes for refugee children, which is so often taken for granted in the western world. The image depicts how a pair of shoes can put a smile on this boy’s face and providing him with hope for the future.

Kristof Devos, author and illustrator of Dit is Miepfrom Belgium, depicts the importance of routine. He places an emphasis on the importance of a toothbrush, which provides refugee children with a taste of normality. Kristof takes us into the imagination of a refugee child and how a toothbrush provides the young girl with a magical experience.

Restoring that sense of normality
A contribution of 348 million euros from the EU and the support of Turkish partners have made the ESSN (Emergency Social Safety Net) Programme possible, which helps the most vulnerable refugee families to find their feet again from receiving a debit card with a monthly allowance of EUR 28 (120 Turkish Liras) per family member.

This amount allows a parent to provide for his or her children according to their needs which every parent, regardless of their circumstance, should have the ability to do for their children. From necessities such as pair of shoes or a toothbrush, to items that have the power to truly change a child’s life, such as a story book that brings with it the familiarity of home, these are items that are often taken for granted by parents in the western world.

Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. The ESSN programme allows parents to give their children the opportunity to explore their imagination and creativity through the ability to have fun.

After experiencing such displacement and uproot from normality, having the freedom and ability to spend money according to their own needs helps refugee families to settle in their new surroundings. The EU and WFP aim to help refugee parents to create a quality of life that feels safe and secure for their families, with the hope of creating a sense of normality and comfort in their new host country.

Martin Penner of the UN World Food Programme says, “all parents, regardless of geography, want to provide their children with stability - with consistency and routine. Food and shelter are important but there are so many things that kids need that we tend to forget.”

To find out more about the important work that the EU and WFP is doing to support refugees visit http://ec.europa.eu/echo/where/europe-and-central-asia/turkey_en and www.wfp.org/countries/turkey

Thursday, 13 July 2017

eBook Review - The Cat Who Saw Red

Years and year ago, I read a random crime-lit book from my local library. I liked the cover and it had cats at its heart. So, with me discovering the crime genre, I read it and I had fun. I can't remember a thing about it but it was fun. That book was called The Cat Who Read Shakespeare.

Fast forward to the present day and, for no reason, I went on my kindle and randomly searched this series up. And some of them on sale for 99p. So, after quickly annoying Twitter with a poll and chatting to a few people about this series (did you know that the author wrote the first three in the 1960s but didn't write the fourth till the mid-1980s?), I bought two: this title (the fourth in the series) and The Cat Who Went Underground (the ninth).

When the local newspaper he works for makes him the food critic, Qwill decides to go to Maus Haus, a boarding house with a restaurant. There, he meets an old flame, Joy, her husband and a mix of characters. When he discovers there's an apartment to read at the boarding house, Qwill decides to take it and move in with his two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum.

But things at Maus Haus aren't happy. Joy's marriage is strained and, after she ask Qwill for some money to get a divorce lawyer, she vanishes. Everyone, including the husband, aren't that concerned. But Qwill can't shake off the feeling that Joy is dead, as that night, he heard a scream and a car driving away...

Ok, I knew when I started reading this that this book is a Sunday night crime. It's cosy crime. It wasn't going to be too taxing and with the last few books, having something I could switch my brain off while reading was a nice change.

This isn't perfect, mind. I wouldn't go out and buy all the books in the series. Because this book (and the others in this series, I sense) was a cosy crime and wasn't taxing, I never really invested in the story. The characters felt a little flat at times and, I kinda always thought who the bad guy was. I didn't know how or why they did it, but I always went "It's you".

The best way to describe this book is the same way I kinda describe Dan Brown or James Patterson - this is an airport read. You buy them at the airport, read on holiday and you either leave it in the hotel room when you leave or you give to a charity shop when you get back.

I am going to read The Cat Who Went Underground. But not yet. First, I need to finish The Invasion of the Tearling, which I have been reading on and off since the end of May. I did say back then that it was going to be my book on the side, but now I feel ready to commit to it now. BRING IT ON!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Changing My Mind

As you guys know, I struggled with Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas a few years ago. I actually went back and reread my review/post about my time and I wrote that, while it was a struggle, I did like it. Towards the end. But if you ask me my thoughts on that book and my reading experience, I would say "A hard slog". It was a struggle to say to say the least.

This explains why I keep putting off Crown of Midnight. I know, one day, I'll read it. Just because I want to see if I can and if I get into the story more. Have forgotten near everything from Throne of Glass so will be returning to this world blind.

But that didn't stop me from trying. Just before A Court of Thorns and Roses came out, I was lucky to get an eProof of it. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast? With faeries? And it's New Adult - an age group I've not read much/anything in? Where do I sign up?

But within two chapters, I DNFed it. I didn't click with the writing, hated the main character's family and wasn't exactly a fan of the main character herself. Plus, with rumours that there was a few sexual scenes coming up later in the book that can/have been read as non-consental via drink and drugs, this threw me out into a "No way in hell am I reading this!"

And I still hold those views. Let me make this clear. I don't want to read this if out

But something happened a few days ago when I wasn't feeling well: I was listening to a podcast (Read That F***ing Book) and, hearing their reactions and thinking of everyone's reaction, I thought "Did I judge this too harshly? I only read two or three chapters and I went so against it". So, probably because of the cold meds am taking taking, I saw a free eSampler of A Court of Thorns and Roses and downloaded it (it was free).

And I read the first four chapters. And I have something shocking to say - I kinda liked what I read.


I know! I'm in shock myself! I just thought "Will read these and that's it. Back to reading Invasion of the Tearling I go!" but I'm surprised how easily I clicked with the writing this time round and the start of the reimagining of this tale.

Maybe I did judge it too harshly. This is why it's important to form your own opinions. And, if your uncertain of a story, reread it at a later date and see how you feel about it then.

So, where does this leave me with this tale? I clicked with the writing now so should I try and go read this when I have the time (and my TBR pile is much MUCH less! I have a lot of books to read and, recently, been craving LGBT and thrillers!) or should I leave this alone and move on with my reading life?

Answer, dear reader: I have no idea. I know I won't be so harsh on Sarah J Maas as I was before, but there is still trouble in her books that makes me hesitated. The non-consental sex scenes in this, the non-consental use of drugs and alcohol and the diversity issue. OH! The diversity issue in Sarah J Maas's writing (from the looks of it, she writes mainly straight, white characters - something that I find very hard to believe in the worlds she's creating - this goes with all series, FYI).

So, while there are issues and issues I will be grinding my teeth over and hissing like an angry cat towards the skies about, I'm not going to rule reading this out completely. We shall see... Maybe one day... but that one day isn't today...