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...

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Book Review - Lady Midnight

Oh, Cassandra Clare. I thought I was done with you and your Shadowhunter world. Apparently, I was wrong.

Ok, let me go back and explain this first sentence. When I first discovered The Mortal Instruments trilogy (as it was back then), City of Glass was about to be published. So I binge read all three books back-to-back (it's very VERY rare I do this) and loved them. So, when it was announced there was going to be another trilogy - The Infernal Devices - and three more books added to The Mortal Instruments trilogy, turning it into a series/cycle: I was excited. I read The Infernal Devices and probably loved it more than The Mortal Instruments trilogy. And while I have City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls on my kindle, I believe that I am done with Clary, Jace and the other characters. To me, their stories are done.

So when I heard news that Cassandra Clare was doing a few more trilogies, I was hesitant. I believed I was done with this world and I wasn't sure if I wanted to return.

So when I got Lady Midnight last year from Simon and Schuster, I was hugely grateful but uncertain if I wanted to go back. It was only in the past few weeks that I thought "Maybe I should try. What have I got to lost?". And when I received a copy of Lord of Shadows from Simon and Schuster and I saw Lady Midnight was free on Audible, I went "Ok, I have to go back. These are signs and I feel ready to risk it."

Taken place several years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire, we follow Emma Carstairs in Los Angeles with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn with his brothers and sisters, who stumble into something that they are, by Shadowhunter Law, not get involved in. Bodies of humans and fairies are being dumped round the city and when the fairies ask for Emma and the Shadowhunters of the Los Angeles Institute to investigate, an uneasy alliance is formed. For Emma, this is a chance to find the truth about her parents murders and get revenge. For Julian, this is a chance to get his brother, Mark, who was taken by the Wild Hunt for being half fairy.

But as they investigate, feelings come to the surface between Emma and Julian. And if the Shadowhunters have one rule they hold dear, it's this: you don't follow in love with your parabatai...

Am going to say this right off the bat, I'm glad I had the audiobook because if I didn't, I don't know when I could have found the time to read Lady Midnight. But, also, due to the audiobook [mainly, its narrator], I didn't like this book as much as I believe I could have. If I had read this, I think I would have liked it a lot more than I did.

I'm not 100% certain about the story. It'll be interesting to see where Cassandra Clare does take it as I feel there is room to make this a gripping read. And I have seen people who love this book and do call it a gripping read, and while I did enjoy it, it weirdly fell short for me. I can't put my finger on why. It might be the length, it might that this book is setting up for the rest of the trilogy, or it being be that even though this is a new trilogy, we still got characters from The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices popping up doing little cameos and pushing the story forward (but why, though? Your story is done. Can't you let the new characters have a moment to shine?). I'm not sure but there was something lacking for me.

One thing that isn't lacking which I loved is representation. In all her Shadowhunter series, Cassandra Clare goes full out on representation and diversity and Lady Midnight is no expectation. We have Cristina and, later, Diego who are Mexican and speak Spanish [and with everything that is happen in the USA at the moment, this was wonderful and refreshing. Plus, I can't think of any books I've read/am aware of that have Mexican lead characters!]. We have Ty who is somewhere on the Autism spectrum. We have another character who is suffering from mental health, possibly even brain damage. And, because of this, we have a underage carer, not only looking after them, but also a young family as well. We have a character who is bisexual and, according to some readers, is polyamorous (a term I have never really heard of so had to Google) and a few other character who are on the LGBTQIA+. Even though I question this series and wonder if Cassandra Clare is just milking that cash cow, I can not fault her for writing representation and writing it well.

I do worry about the Shadowhunter world as there seems to be a lot of trilogies and spinoffs. We have The Last Hours trilogy - the first book, Chain of Gold, coming out in 2018 - which follows the children of the characters from the Infernal Devices trilogy. We have an adult Shadowhunter trilogy which she is co-authoring with Wesley Chu, The Eldest Curses - the first book rumoured to be coming out in 2018. We have The Wicked Powers trilogy which is rumoured to be Cassandra Clare's last trilogy in the Shadowhunter world. And there is rumoured to be be other projects either very similar to The Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy or entering new styles such as graphic novel. Now, while I am OK with authors expanding their worlds (JK Rowling and Philip Pullman are doing it with their Fantastic Beasts movies and The Book of Dust trilogy), what I am concerned over is that readers will be looking at Cassandra Clare and will be wondering how many stories she can tell within this world or whether she is doing this is exploit her readers from their cash. She and her publishers need to be careful not to oversaturate the market and fans.

While this might not be one of my favourite books I've read set in the Shadowhunter world, I do think this trilogy does has potential and I will be reading Lord of Shadows sometime in the next 12 months.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

eNovella Review - Marine Biology

I only came across this by fluke. I was randomly listening to a podcast called Breaking the Glass Slipper and on one episode, they had Gail Carriger on. She was talking about writing comedy is fantasy/sci-fi genre. This reminded me that, years ago, I read one of her novels, Soulless (review's here. I went back to find it - and it was back in 2013!) and really enjoyed it. At the same time, I saw a book blogger pal of mine, Sarah from Feeling Fictional read and added this to her Goodreads and I thought "Perfect. Can read this super fast as it's a novella and decide if I want to go back and reread Soulless."

In this novella, Alec is a marine biology with secrets. He's a werewolf that doesn't fit in with his fellow pack members and he's gay. But when his Alpha asks him to liaison between two merfolk over a possible criminal activities due to the selkie mafia, he can't exactly say no. And with one of the merfolk being Marvin, an outrageous flirt, Alec might have his work cut out.

This is a easy, fun, cute M/M read. It's not too taxing and I was smiling while reading it. Because it's a short novella (around 11,000 words), these wasn't much fleshing out of characters/mythologies but this does serve neatly as a get-in into the San Andreas Shifters series with the first, The Sumage Solution, coming out in the next few weeks.

Not sure if I will read The Sumage Solution but this novella was a nice change for me as, the last few weeks, been reading quite long, heavy books. But I kinda want more... maybe I will have to check The Sumage Solution out...

Monday, 3 July 2017

Rebel of the Sands Book 3 Title Reveal!

As you guys know, I love Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton when I read it back in 2015 and I have been holding off reading Traitor to the Throne as am excited/scared it won't live up to my expectation/hope plus I want to read it quite close to the release of the third and final book in the series (but I sense I will be reading it in the next few months).

Anyway, a bunch of bloggers in the UK and the US are now revealing the title for the third and final book in the series. 3pm UK time, 10am US time approx. So, it's time to reveal the title. And a blurb for the book as well. WHY NOT!

Are you ready? Brace yourselves... here it comes...