Saturday, 25 April 2015

A Robot In The Blog Tour

Hi everyone. Welcome to my spot in the Robot In The Garden blog tour! And I am thrilled that Deborah Install is taking over the blog and chatting about the book's playlist! So, before I go any further, I would like to thank Deborah for taking time out to chat about music and I would, also, like to thank Ben from Doubleday/Random House for inviting me on this tour!

Now, shall we get this blog post started and hand it over to Deborah? I think we should, so all yours

1. "The Garden" - Take That
Don’t judge me ;-). The title is relevant, of course, but also the lines 'This is the life we've been given, so open your mind and start living' are relevant to Ben

2. "Distant Sun" - Crowded House
Similarly, 'Tell me all the things you would change, I don't pretend to know what you want.' I also always thought this song was about a guy completed bowled over by the brilliance of a girl, and I always thought that was something that drew Ben to Amy.

3. "Fix You" - Coldplay
I love this song. I find it really emotional. I used it once in an amdram play I directed once. In this context it fits the point near the beginning where Ben really realises Tang needs his help. Also the line 'But if you never try you'll never know just what you're worth' is what people have been trying to say to Ben all along, but never found the words.

4. "Hotel California" - The Eagles
I called the place in the book the Hotel California because I always reckoned the one in the song to be a really unpleasant, seedy sort of place, so it fitted.

5. "Born To Be Wild" - Steppenwolf
The chapter where Tang dances to this song was one of the earliest I wrote. I just had to have my robot do 'the robot' and this song was just always in my head for it, partly because it's a total driving song, but also because it gave Ben the opportunity to ponder Tang's sentience.

6. "Radioactive" - Imagine Dragons
I confess I picked this one entirely for the title. I wanted one for Kyle and there aren't too many songs about radioactive sausage dogs.

7. "One For My Baby" - Frank Sinatra
A song about a guy, nursing a drink, being miserable about a girl who's left him. Either fits in the sports bar section or when Ben is drinking the Old Fashioned in the hotel in Tokyo.

8. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Bonnie Tyler
Ben's song of choice for karaoke. Traditional heartbreak song and easy to belt out drunk. I do not know this from experience, I hasten to add.

9. "The Robots" - Kraftwerk
A Doubleday recommendation, and it makes me think of the bit in the book with all the androids lined up in the Japanese shop.

10. "Paranoid Android" - Radiohead
Purely for the title. And because I like it. :-)

11. "Digital Love" - Daft Punk
Had to put some Daft Punk in, and this one seemed to fit best. I put it at this point in the playlist because it would be at about the point where Ben and Tang are on Palau and, as the saying goes, 'shit gets real'.

12. "The Scientist" - Coldplay
Bollinger = mad scientist figure. But also, it feels to me that pretty much every line has relevance for the story.

13. "Mr Brightside" - The Killers
Placed here for the point where Ben feels that he is losing Amy all over again.

14. "We Are Family" - Sister Sledge
The end of the book is very much concerned with family. And it's a fun song.

15. "Happy" - Pharrell Williams
What can I say? I'm not sure I could bring myself to write an unhappy ending...perhaps I'll surprise myself one day. :-)

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Hot Key Blogger Event

Earlier today, I was allowed to go to the Hot Key Books/Piccadilly Press Blogger's Event in London. It was so nice to catch up with blogger pals I haven't seen in ages or meet new bloggers I haven't met before or only just met on Twitter (and some people I watch on YouTube but was too scared to talk to...). I was introduced to someone (was it one of the authors?) as "The One With the GIFs". (Thanks Stephen from Dark Readers... Remind me how to make GIFs again when we see each other again!)

So, after hunting Jim from YAYeahYeah and Luna from Luna's Little Library down, we went to Hot Key HQ where we caught up, had tea or coffee (Of course I had tea! Don't you know me at all?!) and some nibbles, we were ushered into a room and the lovely Hot Key Team (and a few authors) chatted about books that they are going to publish from now until possibly the end of the year.

There was A LOT of books, most of them quite dark in tone (perfect for me!) so what I plan to do is do tiny write up on the authors who was there and then pick some books at random that I want to read. I have a long list so will narrow it down to a few.

That an ok plan? Ok, let's do it!

First author doing a quick chat to us huge wolves known as book bloggers was James Dawson. Is it weird I got a bit of beard envy? Anyway, James chatted about the blogging community (and we love him for it) before he chatted the book that will be out later in the year. All of The Above is a contemporary love story where our main character gets a strong physical attraction to one person, but begins to realise that she has a strong spiritual connection to her new best friend. It's not a typical love triangle (it better not be), but more tries to answer the question "What if you fell in love with two people at the same time?" It will be very exciting to read this because, as James himself said, this is new to him and is, basically, starting again from scratch.

He also admitted he wrote this in NaNoWriMo and swore he would NEVER do it again.

The second author who chatted was Lydia Syson. She was chatting about her latest book, Liberty's Fire. This is a histroical fiction set around 20-40 years after Les Miserables (not the musical, but the time it was set). Life after the war has been tough but it could get a lot toughie for our leads. With an enemy at the gate and the barricades, will our characters survive? Now, I have another book by Lydia to read, but this sounds so delicious that I am planning to read this VERY soon. And this comes from someone who doesn't really like historical fiction.

Jess Vallance was our third author, chatting about Birdy. Our main character is Frances, a loner who is asked to look after the new kid at school. Instead, she meets her oppisite, Alberta, and the two become unlikely friends. But is this friendship too good to be true? Frances begins find things out and soon, things become toxic. This does have a feel of Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne, but it looks more into toxic friendship and how a friendship can turn ugly quickly.

Our fourth author was Hayley Long, who was chatting about two book. Her first was Being A Girl, a non-fiction which talks about growing up for girl. Talking about feminism, periods (and all the terms for it - some that will never leave my brain. Thanks Hayley), friendships and growing up. Hayley's second is Sophie Someone, a story about Sophie who makes a startling discovery about why her family moved to Belguim when she was four. So startling that she can't put into words how she is feeling and, to cope, she starts making up her own language to cope. This is going to be an interesting one but I shall be intrigued on your reactions.

Julie Mayhew spoke about The Big Lie after this. The Big Lie came out of a conversation with her son over the question "What If the Nazi won the war?". After trying to find a book for her son via Twitter (and us failing! WE FAILED!), she decided to write one herself. In modern England after the Nazi won, we met Jessika and her best friend, Clementine. Jessika is a good girl. Clementine isn't, and the Regime has noticed. But it's more than this. It questions revolution, feminism and sexuality...

Last author to round this all off was Laura Dockrill, chatting about Lorali. A story about a mermaid - don't groan. Stay with me!  - who is washed up on Hastings and who meets Ryan and the story between them. There is sirens,"fit" pirates and OTT mermaid-obsessed bloggers (which, Laura reassured us, isn't based on us) and, this book celebrates being the odd one out.

And that's it for authors. Sorry if that took a while.  Ok, now, onto a few books that I am quite excited over.

The first is To Hold The Bridge by Garth Nix. This is a collection of short stories with an Old Kingdom novella. I love the Old Kingdom so I am desperate to get my hand on this. I might have to preorder this. Or beg.

Another book that I might be begging or preorder is These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. Now, most of you will know her name from her books A Gathering Light and Revolution. But this sounds yummy. Set in New York 1890s, our heroine (Jo) knows her father didn't commit suicide, but can she prove it? How far will she have to go for the truth?

As Black As Ebony by Salla Simukka is the third and final book in this trilogy and I can not wait to see where this series is going!

Monsters by Emerald Fennell is a creepy read, I sense. Two 13 year olds meet and become friends over their shared interest in murder. And then a murder happens. The two friends decide to investigate because murder is cool. It has a dark, creepy feel that reminds me of Dexter, but we shall see...

And now, for a change of pace. Counting Stars by Keris Stainton is a Fresh Meat-lite story where our lead moves into a flat with six other students. Feeling like the outsider, she decides to blog and tweet about her friends lives. Which is fine - until a secret is outed. According to the publisher, Rainbow Rowell fans might like this, but I follow Keris on Twitter and love her tweets so I will be reading this as soon as I can.

After this, we chatted about the books, life, writing and just having a wonderful time. I really must thank Hot Key for organising this. It was so much fun and I don't think us hyper book bloggers scared the authors THAT much. Plus, a few of us were cornered to record our reactions to the books and pick one we are VERY excited over. I was cornered and, sadly, there is a video of me swearing. There is reason and unless I want to get on Sanne's bad side, I will be super kind and loving to Hot Key...

But seriously, thank you for today! I can not wait to get my reading game on and start reading these beauties!!!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

GoodRead - The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Ok, you will have to forgive me if this seems a tad rush, but I read this book within 3 days (would have read it in 4 but the postman couldn't put this through my letterbox so I had to go to he Post Office to collect it on Saturday morning).

And because this book isn't out till the end of August (yes, am writing an early review and I don't care!), am writing to write this as spoiler free as possible.

But yes, The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Where should I begin?

Most books focus on "The Chosen One". The one person that has been picked to save the day. But what if you're not the Chosen One? What if you're someone...well... normal? What if all you worry about is finishing school and getting as far away from the small little town you live in? Away from your parents? Away from the stresses? Away from the fear that another alien invasion/soul-sucking ghosts/vampires or goodness knows what comes next and usually ending up with you school getting blown up?

What if your problems are bigger than that and, somehow, you have to find extraordinary in the ordinary?

Like I said before, I read this in 3 days. And that is RARE for me to read a book that quick! Patrick Ness owes me 3 days of my life back, please and thank you.

But I loved this book. I know some of you guys won't, and that's ok, but I really loved this book. I just flew through it. I loved the idea, I loved the characters (some were instant, others took time - one or two took a VERY long time, but there are reasons. You have to stick with it), and I love how some subject matters is handle.

And this is one of the reasons I like it. This books tackles mental health. And he writes it in a way that, while shocking, feel very real. Patrick must have done quite a bit of research on what he tackled. He knows that these are awful diseases and tackles them, tell us that they are awful and yet, they is still hope. There will always be hope.

Another thing that was cool was the whole subplot of the world ending by the "bad guys" (let's just say that and be done with it). It was interesting as it felt very important as it reflected on our lives. With our main characters, stuff is happening to them - their own lives - but not the whole end of the world stuff. It's like most of us when we watch the news and we see war. Most of us aren't effect by it but we know it's happening. There is a line from another review - Darran from ShinraAlpha - that sums up this up much better than me. "It's a clever way of reflecting our own lives, too, because of course we live our own little stories against a backdrop of dramatic awful events that we're unable to influence.

I could go on. I could gush over this book. I could. But I won't. I feel that most Patrick Ness fans will love this and for those of you wanting to try Patrick Ness, I feel this might be a good place to start (though I haven't read The Knife of Never Letting Go... DON'T JUDGE ME!). But yes, I just love this book and wish more books made me read them as fast as I did with The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Farewell Terry Pratchett - Reaper Man

Hello and welcome to my spot in the Terry Pratchett Blog Tour! Today, I will doing a small-ish review of the twelfth novel in the Discworld series, Reaper Man.

Death is gone. Just gone. Presumed... er... missing. And what would happen to the Discworld now a important public service is withdrawn? Chaos, that's what. If Death doesn't come for you, then what do you do in the mean time? And what happens to all the life force that's floating about...? And where did all those snow globes come from?

Meanwhile, on a farm far away, a very tall and very thin man who is excellent with a scythe has come to gather a harvest...

Ok, am going to admit this. I have only just got into reading Terry Pratchett. Before last year, I only read one of his books and for the life of me, I can't tell you what book it is. It just went straight over my head. But in the summer of last year, I audiobooked A Slip on the Keyboard and after putting it off for quite some time, I read Mort back in February. So, I am still new to his world.

But Reaper Man has always been one of his books that has intrigued. Not sure why. Maybe it's the old cover of Death sitting in a field. Maybe it was the idea of Death just going...

But I finally read it. And I loved it! I didn't think I would enjoy myself as much as I thought I would. I just galloped through it, reading it very late into the night (using my phone as a light as I don't have a bedside lamp at the moment!) and trying to squeeze five minutes worth of reading before I go to work.

And Death is such a wonderful character. How he saw the Discworld and the ideals of life and death were interesting and, at the same time, funny. He might be my fave character in the series - and I only really remember 2 Discworld books well!

I know you guys were expecting a review with pros and cons (the only con I could think of is the ending - I liked the ending but there was something about it. Maybe because I was rushing it at half past midnight!), but I enjoyed myself reading this. I loved this book and I have plans to read more Discworld. So much so, I have been snooping on kindle and have downloaded far too many samplers to figure out my next Discworld book - Wyrd Sisters, Hogfather, Thief of Time, Maskerade...

Where should I start? I shall be following the Terry Pratchett Blog Tour with interest and, if you are a fan of Terry's work (Discworld or any others), leave me a comment and tell me what I should read next!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

#UKYADay

HAPPY UKYA DAY!!! Today, a bunch of bloggers (spearheaded by the lovely Lucy from Queen of Contemporary) want to chat about UKYA. So, I am here about to chat about some UKYA books that I think would be ace as a TV show or a movie.

Now, to save myself some grief, I won't mention books who's TV/film rights have been bought or been turned into web series (so nope to Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls or Night School series by CJ Daughtery, to name a few).

First book I think would be ace as a TV drama is Cruel Summer by James Dawson. Now, I think any James Dawson book would be perfect for TV, but at the time of typing this post, I have a soft spot for Cruel Summer. Perfect for those fans of ScreamI Know What You Did Last Summer and Harper Island, Cruel Summer takes the slasher genre and puts a twist on it that I think would be perfect for BBC Three or E4 as a mini-series (only 3 or 4 episodes).

Another author I think would make great TV is Tanya Byrne and both her books, Heart Shaped Bruise and Follow Me Down, would make gripping dramas. While Heart Shaped Bruise would rival Revenge, Follow Me Down would make an interesting whodunnit, similar to the style of How To Get Away With Murder, with the story jump forwards and backwards in time until we get the Event and the truth about what happened...

I know, technically, this is a Middle Grade book but am throwing this in here as this has to be turned into a TV series. This would work so perfectly as a family drama. And that is Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones.

Now, let's chat about soem UKYA that would be fab as movies. My first is a trilogy, The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott. Merging Japanese mythology with modern day London, with live action acting and subtle CGI (am thinking Studio Ghibli), I think this would make a gripping trilogy of movies.

Pantomime by Laura Lam would, also, make a good movie choice. A high fantasy story set in the world of the circus with a lead character that I don't think we have seen in film before, this could make a gorgeous indie movie in the same style as Mirrormask.

I have a few other UKYA books that I think would make great viewing, regardless of their genre - Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Mirror Dreams by Catherine Webb, Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan, Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson - but am curious over what UKYA books you think would make great TV/film/radio/web series? Leave a comment down below or tweet using the hashtag #UKYADay on Twitter and share the love!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

GoodRead - The Art of War

When Felicity from Midas PR asked if I was interested in listening to this audiobook, I said yes after listening to the teaser on Audible.co.uk. This is outside my comfort zone - I admit this- but I want to be bolder with my reading/listening choices. Plus, I listened to the sampler of this and went "I want to listen to this.".

This 13 chapter book (which is REALLY short, by the way) talks about the art of warfare. How you win a war. This was written many years ago, but it still has strong themes today (just watch how politicians campaign for your vote at general election). Read by Aidan Gillen, who's character in Game of Thrones (Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish) could have well use this book, it shows you how to win a war or, if you are on the losing side, how to turn it round.

Now, I had to listen to this twice over the course of the Easter Weekend. The first time was because I was trying to get my head round what Sun Tzu was telling us (it didn't help that for a good 20 minutes, I was in a slight food coma). But the second time, I paid attention and made notes. I listened to what was being said and compared it to politics.

And I got it. I saw it happening around me. There's a political story that happened the past few days and I instantly thought "I heard that. I know what they're doing!". And as someone who is trying to understand the 2015 UK General Electons, having this on my iPhone made me see the tricks and go "Oh, ok. That makes me really wonder about your abilities if that is the 'trick' your using."

I admit that this isn't my normal book, so it's a bit of a culture shock. And, at times, I felt a little overwhelmed. There were moments where I felt that there wasn't enough time to understand what was being said. There wasn't any time in the audiobook to take a breath.

While this isn't my typical listening, I am glad I listened to it. I might need to do another relisten before 7th May of this year...

Saturday, 4 April 2015

#re3 - Click Clack The Rattlebag

I downloaded this back in 2012 (so I highly doubt you can find it on audible.co.uk) and when I downloaded the app on my phone and connected to my account, I rediscovered this and it was less than 15 minutes so I fancied relistening to it. Just to see how creepy it was.

Ok, let's get these questions started!

WHY DID YOU REREAD THIS BOOK?
I downloaded the Audible app on my phone and it showed me my history for the past few years of purchases and, while I was downloading an audiobook I am going to review in the next few days, I spotted this and went "Oh! You would be cool to relisten to. I remember you were slightly creepy." and downloaded it without a second thought.

WHAT WAS YOUR HONEST OPINION OF THIS #RE3 THE FIRST TIME YOU READ IT?
I think I really liked it. It was very short and yet, slightly creepy and gothic. I loved Neil Gaiman's voice as he was reading the story.

WHAT IS YOUR HONEST OPINION OF THIS #RE3 READ NOW?
It's creepy. I think it's because I remembered within a few minutes where the story was going and I don't know whether it's more scary listening to it at 8 o'clock at night in a house on your own, knowing what's going to happen or in the same situation but when you don't know what's going to happen next...

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY?
I believe this story is in an anthology but, I discovered a live recording on youTube (as I don't think you can get it now via Audible) so I will link you to it now.

BECAUSE OF THIS BOOK/AUDIOBOOK, WILL YOU BE READING/REREADING ANY OTHER BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR?
I have since my first listen of this have read Neil Gaiman and am very intrigued over reading more. Not sure where to start. I was thinking Good Omens, but might reread Coraline...

Thursday, 2 April 2015

His Dark Materials Readalong - Once Upon A Time In The North

As part of the His Dark Materials Readalong, here I am, talking about the last book in this readalong. A book I haven't read before (shocking, I know!). Once Upon A Time In The North is a weird creature. I think I never read it before now because I had read Lyra's Oxford and I think I went away from that going "was that all? Really? That was it?". So, I bought then gave away my copy of Once Upon A Time In The North when the book came out and now, several years later, I went internet hunting for a copy (thank you secondhand!).

Once Upon A Time In The North is a prequel where two characters meet for the first time, around thirty-five years prior to the events of the His Dark Materials trilogy. The Texan balloonist, Lee Scoresby, and the armoured bear, Iorek Byrnison.

When the young Lee Scoresby and his daemon, Hester, land their balloon in a small Arctic town, they find themselves flying straight into a political brawl. The political factions want control of the town and its oil, and the resident bears are treated with contempt and like second-class citizens. It doesn't take long before Lee and Iorek meet and their friendship begins. But with political tensions also at fever pitch, it wouldn't take long before blood will be spilt.

Ok, I admit it, it took me a good 20 or so pages before I found my stride with this story. It's very different from Lyra's Oxford - the book is longer than Lyra's Oxford (almost double) and the type is smaller, so we got more story. But because it has been so long since I read Scoresby (he wasn't exactly a character I remember really well, if I can be truthful with you all), I felt like I had to get to know him again. Which was nice. I feel ready to meet him again when I feel brave enough to try and reread the trilogy again (stupid reading slump).

But once I got into the story, it went into a western-type read and, for this book, I was excited for the change. It fit Lee's character a lot more and I was pleased over how it worked. Setting a western in the Arctic just fitted for some reason.

The illustrations/engravings by John Lawrence fitted the story very neatly and, unless I am mistaken, he also did the illustrations for Lyra's Oxford. I really liked these so I might write a seperate blogpost to show them off.

If I can be honest, the only thing that bothered me was, at times, one of the characters felt out of place. I can't put my finger on why I feel like this.

But I liked this a lot more than Lyra's Oxford. And if you're a fan of the series, this is a must.