Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Book Review - Goldenhand

As you guys know, I adore this series. It's one of my favourite fantasy series. So, of course I was going to buy this and read this. How could I not?! While I wanted to start and finish this before New York (I planned to have a "Only Take My Kindle to New York" Rule), that went flying out the window. I forgot I need to take my time with this series.

Set after the events of Abhorsen and running (up to a point) parallel with Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case (if you haven't read this, go get a copy of Across the Wall and it's in there), Lirael is no longer the shy Second Assistant Librarian in the Clayr, but the Abhorsen-In-Waiting. She has a half-sister in Sabriel, is an aunt and is grieving for the loss of her closest friend, Dog. But when an urgent message from her nephew's friend, Nicholas, begs for help, she rushes to his aid. Not only does she find him unconscious by an attack of a Free Magic creature, she finds deep taints of Free Magic within him. Unsure of what to do with this (and her muddle feelings for him), Lirael has to do something she's been trying to avoid - return to the Clayr and ask for help. 

Meanwhile, a messenger from the deep north, Ferin, is trying to get into the Old Kingdom. She has an urgent message that must be delivered at all costs. But the Witch With No Face doesn't want this to happen. Being ruthless pursuit, Ferin must get to the Clayr and deliver the message from a mother to her daughter. That daughter being Lirael... 

For everyone and everything, there is a time to die. But will anyone survive the watery embrace of Death...?

Where do I start? Well, after having such high hope with Clariel and getting a little upset over it (I put too much pressure on it, but thinking it over, it was very good.), I went into Goldenhand with little to no information. I knew Lirael would be in it, but that's it. And it was wonderful going into this world - a world I adore - with little to no information as I watched Garth build the world and characters. 

Garth Nix does something very interesting. I know other fantasy authors do this as well, but Garth is one of the only few who I think does it right, is that he builds the world. He doesn't throw things at you for the sake of it. He adds layers and layers. The Old Kingdom in Sabriel isn't the same Old Kingdom we read about in Goldenhand. But it is. He's just added more to our knowledge. It's like the real world and I adore how he does it. 

The story and characters were welcomed with open arms. I must admit, it's been a very long time since I have read Lirael or Abhorsen, but I didn't realise how much I missed these characters till I started this book. I was going "LIRAEL!!! SAM!!! NICK!!! I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!!" and making these characters grow into strong characters I could read again and again. 

New characters and cultures intrigued me hugely and I like how Garth introduced them in. I think there is a lot more going on in this world and I do hope Garth explores beyond the Old Kingdom - say further north or beyond the sea/oceans to the east and west... 

Ferin, a new character who we spend around half of the book with, I found fascinating. She is a strong female character, very different from Sabriel and Lirael. Even Lirael niece, Ellimere, who we spend very little time with in any of the books (again, another character who I would like to know more about as strong doesn't always mean strong physically). While it took me a chapter or two to warm to her ("No! Go back to Lirael!"), I liked her hugely! 

Lirael and Nick's relationship made me happy. I love these two characters and have hoped there might be romantic feelings there since the end of Abhorsen but very much from Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case (whether or not on both sides I am not going to say), but I loved watching it play out. 

There are problems - of course I find these. Some people will say certain situations were resolved far too easily (but I disagree up to a point). Yes, one or two things were a little easy, but other situations made sense to have it done this certain way because it moved the story forward. If not, we would be stuck for another few chapters. While this is ok in some books, it's not ok here. There is a sense of urgency so we need to keep the story moving. 

My biggest thing which I must point out is that you can't read this book without reading the other books in the Old Kingdom series. You must have read all of them and, though not essential, the two novellas (Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case and To Hold The Bridge). If you haven't read the series, I would strongly advise you to start with Sabriel or Clariel. While I think Sabriel is the better starting point (as there are events in Clariel that kinda effect Lirael, Abhorsen and Goldenhand), both of these are standalones and it's easier to enter this world via these two rather than the other three. 

Another thing here is that, while reading this, I couldn't help but feel that this could be the last book we get from Garth set in Old Kingdom. While this is sad (Garth nor any of his publishers say this is the last book in the series, let me make that clear!), I am kinda ok with Garth leaving the world at this novel. Yes, if this is true, I will be sad and thinking "Just one more story. Even if it's a novella or a tweet-a-long, I will take it", I think Goldenhand is the perfect place for us to say goodbye. 

I adore this novel. I adore this world, these characters (good and evil) and I adore the series as a whole. Like I said before (and I will say again), this series is one of my favourite fantasy series out there and, barring a select few, I haven't found anyone who can write a complex fantasy world the way Garth Nix does. I can't wait to reread Goldenhand and the other books in the series next year! Oh, I am making plans. I won't announce it just yet (look towards end of December 2016/early January 2017).... be afraid, Internet. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Paul Gamble Talks Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things

AM BACK FROM MY NEW YORK RSM! Did you miss me? No? Rude.

This isn't the post I was planning to write for my first day back on the job but this comes a few days ago and it just felt like the perfect post to start my post New York blogging.

So, today, I would like to welcome Paul Gamble, author of Ministry of SUITS, to the Pewter Wolf. (Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things) is a ministry hidden in a museum in Belfast. Here, its members must investigate the strange, weird, unusual and impossible. This includes Jack and his frenemy Trudy have to work together to uncover one mystery: where are all the school's oddbods disappearing to...

Before I go further, I want to thank Paul for finding time to write this post and Andrea from Little Island for setting this and the contest below (oh yeah, there's a contest at the bottom of this post! SURPRISE!!!).

Now, over to you, Paul!

Monday, 10 October 2016

RSM Time Again

If you guys have followed me on Twitter and on other social media, I am going away for the next few days. Actually, am going out of the country. Actually, am going to New York City.


You can guess am a little excited. So, because of this, I am going on a tiny blog holiday - or RSM - for maybe two weeks.

The reason I say "maybe" is because I'm not sure how long I want to be away from my laptop and the blog. I know I won't do 7-10 days. I know this without hesitation. So, sorry in advance for seven to ten days with you miss my beautiful words [yes, you can laugh here. You have my blessing].

But beyond that, I have no idea. I have time off work and am planning to take a few days off to recharge. So, might be reading, catching up on TV, hugging my cat because he will miss me... ok, he will miss my lap and crushing my bladder (why do cats like sitting on your bladder? WHY!?).

Or I will be blitzing this so I can schedule a ton of posts for the rest of this month and next month. I have plans for next month and I have no idea how I am going to do it without some planning (and we all know I am not a natural planner!).

So yes, am going to take some time off. Sorry it's short-noticed but yes. Am away from laptop and country so... yeah.

I shall return to you refreshed from visiting the US of A and, with hopefully, a ton of books to talk to you guys about.

Until then, let me kiss you goodbye....

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Kindle Samples - A Sneak Peek

When I saw Carly from Writing from the Tub doing "Kindle Sample Reviews" (click here to check it out!), I loved it. I download Kindle Samples on my iPhone (never one my kindle. I like to keep the my eBooks and my sample separate. Plus, I'm more likely to read Kindle Samples in bed as I use my phone as my alarm) and I do this when I am uncertain of a book. Or as a reminder to myself that I want to buy this.

But where this post and Carly's post differs is that Carly reviewed and I won't. Like I said, I download them to remind me to buy the book/ebook or because I am uncertain if I will like it. Usually, once I have read the sampler (or half. Or ever the first few pages), I delete it. I mean, until very recently, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Puley and Hide by Matthew Griffin had been living on there for quite some time, as did The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (all of which, I now own). 

But I love this idea. So, I decided I wanted to show you guys some of the samples I have on my iPhone Kindle App. Not all, but some. Just to show you guys some of my reading taste, me experiencing with books and stories, almost in the same way as I did with my NetGalley Declined Requests posts (click here and here to check them out!). Like I said in my reading taste post a few weeks back (ta-dah!), I wanna read more

Ok, time for show and tell. Only going to show you five samples so... 

WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I know this is online and is a video (will put it under this tiny write up) but I saw this a few weeks/months ago and I keep forgetting to buy it. Now, I believe I'm a feminist (I hope I am!), but I say believe as I don't feel I fully understand feminism. I believe in equality, but I personally feel that to get a better understanding of this, I should read stories, essays, see the world around me. I will fight for equality. I try my hardest. But that doesn't mean I should take what I have for granted. I need to check my privilege, keep learning and keep fighting. 
EDIT: Since writing this, I have purchase and read this essay. Review for this will be coming up in November-time. But is good. Highly recommend it. 

Tiny confession. I audiobooked an abridged version of this trilogy YEARS ago. Can't tell you anything about the series - I have made it a rule now that if I am going to audiobook something, get it unabridged. But even though I can't remember anything about this story as a whole, I remember loving the world that Trudi created. It's a fantasy that tackled issues that I don't see that often int he fantasy books I read: religion, magic, culture, race. I've always said I will return to this series and read them. I sense I will enjoy myself HUGELY when I do...

Ok, this is a tiny cheat. This is an audiobook sampler. The first chapter is available to download from Now, the only reason I downloaded this is because I'm thinking of reading Martina's newest novel, Betrayal, when it comes out later this month, and I wanted to see if I could get use to her style. I read her once YEARS ago - The Know, if I remember right - and I found it gripping (and terrifying. There's one moment that involved a kettle full of boiling water which chills my blood everytime I think about it!) and I'm hoping listening to this sampler will get me in the mood for Martina's brutal writing style.
EDIT: I listened to sampler as I wrote this post. Nope. Not going to audiobook this. I am not a fan of the narrator and I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy the subject matter this book is gonna tackle... But at least I tried!

THE BONE GARDEN by Tess Gerritsen
I seem to have a lot of crime samplers on my iPhone, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs. These two were my first "adult" crime authors I read. With Tess, I read Body Double and with Kathy, Bones to Ashes. I haven't read so much of either author lately (I have several Kathy Reichs I need to read in my TBR!) but this title seems to catch my eye. A standalone thriller that primarily takes place in the 1830s and, while giving us medical practices and body snatching (which, back then, sounds terrifying compare to modern medicine) but we also have a serial killer on the loose - the West-End Reaper.

I sense I will be getting this before the year is through. Am very tempted to get audiobook...

VALENTINA by S. E. Lynes
I don't know much about this book. No, I don't think I know ANYTHING about this book. I just keep seeing the beautiful cover on Twitter and keep saying to self "I need to investigate this. I have to find out more about this book.". So, when I saw it on Amazon, I downloaded sampler without reading the synopsis. So, I am still very much in the dark over this story, but I sense it will be a story that will keep me on the edge of my seat... Hopefully... Maybe I should do my homework on this book before I go any further...

A STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi
Another book I keep seeing on Twitter and YouTube, which sounds very up my street. With influences from Hindi mythology and a possible Hades/Persephone retelling, this sounds something I can devour. And plus, that cover looks gorgeous! So gorgeous, I just discover you can download a sampler of the first 5 chapters to wet your appetite... *downloads*

Now, let's have a tak. What samplers are on your Kindle or your Kindle App? Is there any that I have to investigate myself? Leave a comment here on the blog, send me a tweet or leave a comment on the blog's Facebook page. All the links are on the side or you can find all my social media outlets on the "Find Me" button on the top of the blog! 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Stealing Snow Blog Tour! AT LAST!


And, also, happy Stealing Snow Blog Tour day! (yes, if you have been following this tour, I was meant to be this Tuesday just gone. However, snow demons and ice goblins did something weird to my and Katrina from Bloomsbury's emails. Basically, computer said emails were sent but they weren't received. Anyway, we didn't realise this till yesterday (and yesterday, I discovered I was part of the tour! CURSE YOU, ICE COMPUTER DEMONS!!!) 
So, changing dates about, I would like you to welcome Danielle Paige to the Pewter Wolf. Danielle is not only a Daytime Emmy nominated scriptwriter, she is the author of the Dorothy Must Die series and her new series, Stealing Snow

Stealing Snow is a dark reimagining of The Snow Queen. And it comes at the perfect time as the nights draw in and the Halloween/Christmas magic linger in the air... 

Before I hand over to my tiny Q&A about fairy tales, writing and whether fairy tales are feminist or sexistwith Danielle, I must thank Danielle for taking time out to answer my questions, and for both Lizz and Katrina from Bloomsbury for setting this up! 

Now, over to you, Danielle (and past me!)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

eBook Review - The Fox and the Ghost King

This was a weird, random choice that I saw on NetGalley. As soon as I read the first line, I went "This sounds nuts. I have to read it!". Plus, the author is Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, and as I have never read him before, I thought this would be a fun middle-grade to read.

Foxes are football fans. And they follow, of course, the Foxes (aka Leicester City FC). But the team keep losing games. A bit annoying for the Foxes but when Daddy Fox and his kid hear a voice of a ghost king, buried under a car park, wanting to be free, that could all change...

This was fun. It was a fast middle-grade read for me that mixed Leicester City FC's rise to victory in the 2015-2016 Premier League and the discovery of King Richard III's remains under a car park quite well. This does well with foxes and is perfect way to get younger readers into football, nature and history (with the story touching upon Shakespeare as well).

It was a fast read for me (I would have liked a bit more meat on the bones of the story, but I am way older than the target readership) but I think younger readers will love the story and the illustrations and parents will find it utterly charming.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Book Review - Boo! Haiku

It's the spooky month! Halloween is round the corner. So is me taking my blog break for 7/10 days-ish and going out of the country! You guys must be thrilled over the quiet you're going to get!

But before that happens, let's me do a tiny write up on Boo! Haiku.

In this picture book, we have a collection of Halloween haiku on who we will meet on Halloween. A witch, an owl, a skeleton and more.

It's very hard to discuss a picture book, but I love how this is introducing poetry to younger/preschool readers. And with it being haiku, it's an easier way to get young ones into poetry.

I love the illusions within these pages (done by Bob Shea). I'm not sure about the last page which explained what a haiku is and explaining what a syllable is (should this have been at the front, one wonders...?), but there's a trick that, because the book is meant to be fun, cover up the middle line to help little ones figure out who is on the next page...

I think this is a good entrance for little ones to read and understand poetry and to get them in the mood for Halloween.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

I Saw Harry Potter And the Cursed Child!

If you guys didn't know or somehow missed me tweeting it non-stop last week, I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last Saturday. 

Now, a week has gone past and I feel safe to talk about my feelings over this as I have been thinking about this NON-STOP! I am going to admit now that I only read the script once cover to cover (day of release) and read parts of it for two discussions post I wrote using only the script as context (so, yeah... kinda reading without context (both are spoiler-filled so won't say what they are, but if you want to read my thoughts of reading the script first-time round here or, if you are feeling braver and want to read either of my "This could be taken out of context but let's talk about these topics!" posts, you can click here or here). 

And before I am going to go any further, am going to try my hardest to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I know the script is out there and I know most/all of us Harry Potter fans have read it, but I will explain why in a tick... 

Set within a mini-Hogwarts of Palace Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child follows the story nineteen years on (ok, maybe not exactly nineteen years on... but let's turn that into a game, shall we?) and events that follow between Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco and Ginny and their children, mainly Albus and Scorpius. 

Let's leave it there as any more, I fear spoilers. But, reactions to play... 

I have to admit, I love seeing a show up London. It's rare for me so, when I do, I get excited. A few months earlier, I got to see Aladdin at the Prince Theatre (barely 30 second walk. That's how close it was!) as a Christmas present from my Other Half (and it was Disney fun! The world needs so light-hearted fun!) and I have seen a few others in my life - Acorn Antiques: The Musical, Phantom of the Opera (it was mostly a blur as this was in days where eyesight was poor and I needed glasses... so much for laser eye surgery!), Lion King (breathtakingly good! If you get tickets for this, GO!), Mary Poppins and a few others linked to school. 

But this was different. This is Harry Potter. This is my childhood. This is our childhood. And while I have read the script and had quite a few problems, this was different. I was seeing this in the form it was meant to be seen it. 

And I couldn't stop bouncing in my seat. Am surprised Other Half didn't stapled me into the chair at one point. 

I loved the play. Of course, I knew I would. But I was shocked at how much I loved it. Watching it worked far better than I expected to. Maybe it's because Cursed Child was written for the stage in mind. But things worked beautifully here. 

It reminded me, in a weird way, of the West End version of The Lion King, where the shows did things to push boundaries. However, Cursed Child went further and they worked. How the theatre/actors must have felt when the director/producers/scriptwriter and JK herself handed them the script is a mystery - but can imagine them, at one point, thinking "How on earth are we going to do this?!" 

Everything about this play felt on point. The special effect, the movement on stage, the magic, changing scenes, the acting (both main, background and cover - am sure I had a cover actor playing Hermione and Ginny and I loved them both), the music (I LOVE THE MUSIC! But then, I adore Imogen Heap and she's the composer of the music within this show), the humour. Even the shock moments - there's one moment where a line was spoken and everyone in the audience gasped in shock. Everything felt on point. 

As I said, the show is a lot funny than I expected. And the humour came from unexpected characters. And it felt oddly natural to have these light moments for these characters. There was one moment that a joke got a louder laugh than anyone expected and, because of this, the actor who said it might have broke character for a few seconds and had to turn his back on audience to gather himself (and because of this, I love him and think it was quite sexy. Though, whether I think the character is sexy, how the actor portrayed the character is sexy or the actor himself is sexy is anyone's guess. Answers on a postcode, please...)

And, while this is a Harry Potter plan and yes, Harry is in it, this does feel more like a play of Albus and Scorpius. It follows them more and they are the heart of the story. This does include Harry and Draco, in my opinion. These four characters make the play have its heart and move it emotionally forward. 

Of course, this play isn't perfect. I have a few issues (of course I do, this is me we are talking about here). While most are smaller issues and I can live with them (one character/actor bothered me a little in their portrayal), there is one or two things that bother me. 

The first is that this play is in London and in two parts. I feel a little guilty that I can hop on a train and I'm in London. If you live anywhere else in the world (USA, Canada, Australia, China, India, etc) and, for the foreseeable future, definitely till the end of 2017, the play is staying in London. Great for UK economy and tourism, not so great if you can't afford to come to UK. I do hope that, while this might stay in UK, that plans are in place for this show to either have a second home aboard or have an international tour... As the for two parts, you have to pay twice and some people might struggle to watch both of these parts in one day (I was fine, my Other Half admitted that he struggled a little and I do feel that people will fit in either of these camps). 

My second is probably the same as everyone else's. While the play is wonderful and I can't stop thinking about it and am itching to reread the script again (the script is nothing. The bare bones.) till I get my hands on Garth Nix's Goldenhand (Do you know how long I have waited for this book? Not as long as Sirius Black but close enough). But the main problem most fans are going to have is the plot. The plot is the weakest thing about the whole play. There are elements within the story that do feel farfetched and while it works in the play because of one reason or another, take the plot away from the stage and away from the script and problems creep up. 

My Other Half overheard a conversion someone talking about Cursed Child after seeing Part One and, para-phrasing, said "The play is great. The story, however...". 

I know we have been told to accept this as cannon, but I don't think most fans will. Ever after seeing (and loving) the play, there are small elements of fan fiction within it. 

But, I really enjoyed watching it. So much so, I'm itching to see it again (and, of course, all tickets are sold out till December 2017). But till then... will just reread the script...