Tuesday, 20 September 2016

eBook Review - Pottermore Presents...

Am going to be cheeky and do my write-up of all three Pottermore Presents range. That's - hang on, long titles alert! - Short Stories from Hogwarts about Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, Short Stories from Hogwarts about Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

Mouthful, huh?  

Each of these contain short chapters touching on different subjects relating to each collection. Within Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, there are chapters talking about Professor McGonagall and Professor Lupin. In Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, there are chapters talking about Professor Umbridge, Professor Slughorn and Azkaban. And in Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, there are chapters about the Hogwarts Express and Hufflepuff Common Room. And these are to name a few. 

This is very much for Harry Potter fans. And it's very interesting as someone who doesn't check out Pottermore every day (and I call myself a Harry Potter fan!), it's nice to read these information and get more background information on characters and places I wanted to know more about. 

Out of the three, I loved Short Stories from Hogwarts about Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies. I loved how this collection talked about McGonagall, Lupin, Trelawney and the myserteous Kettleburn (who we heard but never seen). This was the one I think most fans will enjoy reading the most. I did enjoy Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists as the idea of power and politics and how they can corrupt is one of the main themes within the Harry Potter series. 

There are problems with these collections. As some fans have pointed about, these have been released on Pottermore for a short time (you can't find them now as Pottermore, I feel, isn't exactly searcher friendly) and they question why you should pay these information if it was released for free. Possible milking the cash-cow? Possible damage control over fans reaction to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Special Rehearsal Edition Script (my review to the book is here and my review to the actual play... one day... maybe... [And I have two spoiler-filled discussions about Cursed Child, which you can read here and here... remember! Spoilers!])

Also, these collection are only available as eBooks, and there is no plans to release them as physical books. Some readers don't like using eReaders, so why isn't it available as physical? Is this because there are plans to release the long rumoured (and long wished for) Harry Potter Encyclopedia...

These collections really do depend on the reader. Some readers will love these and will hope for more, while others might be disappointed and would want to avoid. But either way, it's interesting for me to read this information and take from it what I will. 

#LostAndFound - Patrice Lawrence (Slight Change in Plan)

Hiya guys! Thank was meant to be my stop on the #LostAndFound tour and I was meant to have Patrice Lawrence on the blog, talking about something I think you guys will like.

Expect, a last minute hiccup has popped up. Which means my stop on the tour has to be pushed back a few days. Sorry about the change in plans. As soon as it gets all up straight, will throw you the post and I know you guys will really enjoy!

To say sorry, I thought I would put a song or two down that cover the theme of Lost and Found... I hope you guys like my odd choices...

Saturday, 17 September 2016

YA Shot - Chris Russell

Welcome to my stop on the YA Shot tour! Today, I wanna welcome Chris Russell, author of Songs About A Girl and one fourth of the band, The Lightyears (one of their songs is at the bottom of this post, FYI). When Team YAShot paired us up together, I got excited. Books and music are kinda my thing so having a musician on my blog is a HUGE deal for me. HUGE! So, after grilling Chris and going "Ok, but writing a book must be different from writing a song, right?", Chris went away and came back with this post.

I loved it, and am very excited to share with you guys. Plus to do this with YA Shot is awesome. So, before I hand you over to Chris, I just want to thank Chris for writing this post (I know he's very SUPER busy the past 2 months so having me emailing/tweeting him about this & Songs About A Girl) and to Team YAShot for pairing us up and dealing with my last minute emails.

So, over to you now, Chris!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

My Reading Identity

Well, this is an odd blog post to try and write. Will have to use Gifs so people don't think the worse is happening...

Deep breaths everyone. This will all be fine!

As you guys know, I am a huge reader. I love to read and most of the books I read/buy/get sent very kindly by publishers is YA. This is a genre I am very happy to read, very comfortable to read and I have no plans to stop reading YA for a while. YA hasn't bored me - it excites me still (though, saying that, there are one and two cliches that get on my nerves and I still get hugely angry when people [who have never read YA] make outlandish statements that YA is either dangerous to teenagers or the YA genre [YA ISN'T A GENRE!] is basically Twilight and The Hunger Games. Someone's not done their homework, or in the words of the below gif...)

I still feel hugely passionate about YA. This is not a blog post of me saying "I am no longer reading YA books" so, breathe. Be calm, dear kind reader.

However - yes, there is a however...

As you guys know, I do read "grown up" books from grown up adults. I am not afraid to dip my toe into the adult shelves of bookshops. And I do read adult books - but not often. It's once every few months...

But I've been having this itch the past few weeks/months to read more. To push myself as a reader to experiment. To try and read more "grown up" books...

Yes, it's a scary time for me as a reader at the moment. But weirdly exciting at the same time! I feel that I can be a bit more experimental and go "I discovered this randomly. Yes, it's grown up and yes, there is some sexy scenes - very NSFW - but let's chat about it!". I'm even tempted to do a month, dedicated to reading solely adult literature. Still thinking this through but am pretty sure am going to do it.

So, yes, dear readers, I am going to try and read "outside my comfort zone" a little more. Not often, but enough to make me feel braver in trying new books. I am still a YA reader, but am going to push myself.

This might even be a new era for the blog and my reading. Where I can pretend to be sophisticated, grown up and a bit sexy, like these two gifs:

So, why, dear reader, do I get the feeling I will be more like this gif when it comes to books...?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Audiobook Review - The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots (And Other Tales)

Yes, I know what you are all thinking. I audiobooked this?! What about the illustrations by Quentin Blake? I thought you said you wanted to read this. And I did - I still do - but when I was asked if I wanted to audiobook this, I jumped at it for several reasons. One of them was Helen Mirren - I love her voice. Another was curiosity. How could this be under an hour? Surely the story would be 15/20 minutes, max? And what would it be like to listen to an Beatrix Potter instead of reading it? 

But Quentin Blake's illustrations did play a factor. From what I have seen of his illustrations linked to this book, I was very put off. They didn't feel right with Beatrix Potter. With Roald Dalh, yes. Completely. But not with a Beatrix Potter. The illustrations used in her other books felt more in keeping, but these felt very out of place and out of time. You could tell these were modern drawings and they didn't fit, in my opinion, with the time when the story was written and set.

But enough about that. Let's talk Kitty-In-Boots.

The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots follows a black cat who leads a leads a double life. By day, she stays home with her owner. But at night, she goes out with her boots and her gun and goes hunting. But this tale follows her one night when she gets into all sorts of scrapes, meet some old friends and comes up against the fox hunter known as Mr Tod...

OK... I am going to say that I have listened to this story a few things (it's around 17 minutes long so a good cycle ride to work in the morning for me), and I can't figure out how I feel about it.

It's a good little story. And you can tell it's a Beatrix Potter.

But - yes, there's that word I always like using while writing blog posts - it feels off. It feels like a Beatrix Potter and doesn't at the same time. It feels unpolished and, from what I have researched, Beatrix started this and have every intention to finish but this was interrupted by World War One and personal events happened (marriage and health).

So, in some ways, this feels like a first or second draft, and we have no idea if she ever showed this to her publishers and their reactions. It's not polished to the usual Beatrix Potter standard.

Another small issue is the audiobook. Now, I have nothing bad to say about Helen Mirren and her reading (maybe a tad too dramatic at times, but why not? She's Helen flipping Mirren)! But it's a little odd to listen to Helen Mirren, the story ends and we have Anna Friel (another wonderful actor) reading the other four stories in this audiobook (The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkins, The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Wingle and The Tale of Jeremy Fisher). I get that Anna has read them a few years ago and putting the stories together make something special, but it's just odd and jarring to have two narrators.

This is a weird one. I think this will fit perfectly within the Beatrix Potter brand, but it's just feels a little off somehow.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

UKYACX - Simon P Clark

Why, hello again! Welcome to the UKYACX Middle Grade Tour! Today is my stop and I would like to welcome Simon P Clark. Simon is the author of Eren, a story that follows Oli, who believes that the adults in his life are keeping secrets. His Mum takes him into the country to stay with his Aunt and Uncle, but no one telling him why Dad isn't with them.

Then Oli has a secret himself. In the attic, Oli discovers a creature. Eren, who isn't human and who feeds on stories. He needs stories to live. And he wants Oli to tell them. As Oli tells Eren the stories, he begins to understand the secrets the grown up are hiding. Soon, Oli will have to make a choose: confront the truth, or abandon himself into Eren's world...

Now, when Simon and I got chatted on what today's post was going to be about, we talked about stories and why they are so important. Stories and the telling of stories is hugely important in Eren. And Simon was very kind to write this post asking why telling stories are so important.

Now, before I hand you over to Simon, I must thank him for taking time out to write this. And I want to thank Kerry for organising both UKYACX blog tours! Also, if you wanna check Simon out, you can check him out at http://www.simonpclark.com or https://twitter.com/sipclark.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Audiobook Review - The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner

When I was offered to review the audiobook of this, I jumped at the chance. I am only just getting into the late Terry Pratchett's writing so seeing this intrigued me. A collection of short stories for younger readers? Sold.

Follow-up to the previous collection, Dragons at Crumbling Castle, this collection of fourteen short stories - including one or two that inspired Terry's later stories. Short stories that range from wizards, talking statues, a town in the the Wild Wild West (of Wales), gnomes, trolls, and a time-travelling TV to name but a few...

This is quite a short audiobook - just under 4 hours - and it was a fast listen for me (a shock for me, but with me cycling to and from work the past few days, it made the cycle fun!). And I loved how short and bitesized each story was.

This collection is of Terry's early short stories, taken from the local newspaper he worked at. And while I liked these stories, a tiny part of me felt a tad uneasy over this collection. I'm not sure why, but I could help but feel a hint of cashing in on this. I'm not sure why I felt this way - I hope am being a little sensitive over this but I couldn't shake that feeling away.

There are some stories in here I liked more than others - The Blackbury Park Statues is my favourite out of these. And these stories are aimed for a younger audience - middle grade readers (oh, how I disliked this term) but I think most Terry Pratchett fans will enjoy this.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Book Review - The Art of Kubo and the Two Strings

What is it with me and art books linked to films? Am a complete sucker for them. I have no shame in admitting that.

So, when I received a copy of The Art of Kubo and the Two Strings from the lovely people at Abrams and Chronicle, I was very surprised. They know I enjoy these types of books, but to receive this without me talking about the movie or asking was a nice surprise. I mean, I only discovered a trailer for this movie about three or so months ago. Am very new to discovering this.

Kubo looks after his mother in a cave by a fishing village. But when someone from her past appears, his mother sends Kubo to safety using magic Kubo never knew she had. Because of this, he must search for his fallen father's armour to face his family's dark secret to set himself and his mother free...

This is an arty book. No story in here. But what I love about these type of books is the level of detail and research that goes into these story. This story is set in Japan so the research and the detail that the production company went into - looking at pictures from The British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum, learning about culture and history, understanding and learning origami, costume design and textile research - I found very interesting. And seeing the illustrations of the movie - concept art, statues, photos, origami/paper statues, etc - it was a lovely insight to how this movie was made.

I would say, like all of these The Art of [Insert Movie Title Here] books, buy or read this after you've seen the movie. There are a few spoilers about how the movie will end and a few things that would be considered spoilery. And we don't want to spoil you if you are going to watch the movie now, do we?

But I enjoyed myself reading this and drooling over the art. And, as in a good mood, will show you some of my favourite pages...