Thursday, 3 September 2015

GoodRead - The Next Together

I'm not entirely sure when I heard of this book, but as soon as I heard it, I knew I had to read it. I knew I had to annoy the heck out of the publisher/book shop to get my hands on a copy. 

So, when Walker Books sent me a copy to review, I was very happy and started reading it almost immediately. I mean, come on. Have you not seen the cover?

Katherine and Matthew are meant to be together. They're destined to be together. They are born again and again to find each other, only to be separated tragically. Whether that is in the siege of Carlisle in 1745, the Crimean War in 1854 or the near future of 2019 and 2039, they will always find each other. 

But why? Why do they keep coming back? What must they achieve in each life before they can live and love in peace? And will their next together be any different? 

Where the heck do I start? 

I really love this book. This is going to be one of my fave reads of this year, that's how much I love this book. 

I found Lauren's writing engrossing, as I did the story. Well... stories. We do have 4 timelines to read. It was the timelines I found fascinating. How will Lauren make each timeline different from each other but keep they interlinked and without the reading getting confused? But Lauren made each timeline very unique and I never felt confused or had to go back to the start so I knew what timeline I was reading. Each was very different in tone and style. Each Katherine and Matthew was different in each timeline and, because of this, their romantic together was very different. I wasn't reading the same couple over and over again. Each was new and different, and yet important to the next. 

This book has been billed by some reviewers/bloggers/vloggers as a romance. While I agree it does have romance in it, I wouldn't say the book is a romantic book. There is a mix of genres in here, which should fit most readers. There are elements of historical fiction, dystopian, time-travel/alternative universes, corrupt governments and biological warfare. It's romance-meets-science-fiction-meets-history. A mix bag and one that works really well. 

There might be one or two things that might bother you when reading this, which happen quite close to the end of the book, but with a sequel on the horizon (The Last Beginning), I sense these will be address there. 

I could go on. I could gush about this book for quite a while (sometime I am very tempted to do on my next Bookish Brits video), but The Next Together is a solid debut and an addictive read! I await the sequel on baited breath... 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

DNFing Audiobooks - Should I?

Every now and again, I like a good audiobook. Sometimes, it can't be helped. And most of the time, I get sucked into an audiobook and I just can't stop listening.

But the last few I tried to listen to, I've just stopped. I've DNF (Did Not Finish, for those you who aren't aware of the shorthand) them. And it's a mix of reasons. My mood or me just going "Are you kidding me?!"

And, oh the guilt!

Now, I always feel like I'm writing these types of blog post every now and then, in a way to be more honest. An Open Letter, explain why I've stopped reading a book, whether that is a book I have bought or a book I have requested for review. I will link you to both posts here (An Open Letter about Delirium) and here (When Is It Time to Stop?).

But these are books or ebooks. I have never had this problems where I want to DNF an audiobook. I have been very lucky to find audiobooks where I get so caught up in the moment. But there have been a rare few times when I had to stop because I was getting angry or quite upset over it and I had to stop. Am going to talk about the only 3 audiobooks this has happened to (and two of them were for review, which makes this oh, so much worse!), but there are more and I might list them before.

The first was an audiobook I bought. Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Now, I really listened to sampler of this and this was one of those books where everyone seemed to be talking about it. Everyone. So I bought it and listened. I got to around the three hour mark and I had to stop because I was getting so angry with the story. Angry and frustrated. I didn't like the main character, I hated the "It was only an affair, but look how bad it turned" storyline and I loathed how the story was told: the main character talking to us as if we were the person she had the affair with.

The second was Your Are Dead by Peter James. I'm a fan of crime and this just sound perfect for me when I was offered to review it. I was really excited as well. But I got over an hour into it and not only was i beginning to feel that this was going to become predictable, but there was one scene that I found quite disturbing. Now, I have quite a strong level to things like this, but for some reason, this unnerved me. And then the predictable storyline began again and I felt began to go "Am I enjoying this?".

When you ask yourself this when reading/listening to a story, that's not a good sign in my opinion. You're second guessing yourself. With a story, you shouldn't be thinking that, you should be in the story.

The third audiobook is Finders Keepers by Stephen King. This is the sequel to Mr. Mercedes, an audiobook I forced myself to finish as it's my first Stephen King and I wanted to finish the audiobook before I passed judgement. But when this came up for review, I was a little hesitant over it. I struggled with Mr. Mercedes, but I thought, as I found my stride quite late in the audiobook that I thought this would carry over into Finders Keepers. This isn't the case, sadly.

Now, these are still on my iTunes and I'm completely ruling out returning to them (expect Apple Tree Yard - sorry, but no. Just no). But is the same rule I have for DNFing books and ebooks carry over to audiobooks? Or, because it is a different format, I should try and continue onwards?

What do you guys think? I feel guilty over this as it's audiobooks and I love a good audiobook, but it feels weird quitting audiobooks. I have this attention that life is too short to read crap books and I want to read stories that get me excited and I want to share with you guys on my blogs. I would like to read stories that I can have discussions over due to issues raised in the stories.

But to force myself to read/listen to stories that doesn't grab me or hold my attention... that's where I feel uncertain as a book blogger. As a reader, I wanna quit and move onto the next books, but as a book blogger... I feel like I'm second-guessing myself.

So, am turning to you. When you are reading a book, an ebook or listening to an audiobook and it's not grabbing you, do you stop and move on or do you power on through?

Monday, 31 August 2015

Patrick Ness Chats The Rest of Us Just Live Here

I am so THRILLED to welcome Patrick Ness here to chat about his latest novel, The Rest of Us Just Live Here. And what's more, the lovely people at Walker Books asked if I had any questions to ask for Patrick. Sadly, I couldn't go and meet Patrick face-to-face (stupid real life job), but again, the lovely Walker peeps recorded the video, edited it and sent it over!

I must thank Patrick for taking time out to answer these questions, Paul at Walker for YALC (he knows why...) but I have to give a big thank you to Sean at Walker for not only recording the interview but also for editing it as I know sod all about editing (I will learn! AM GOING TO BLOODY LEARN!), even though he was super busy. You are a star!!!

Oh, before you click play on the video, I must warn you that I asked 3 questions and 2 are quite spoilery (whereas the third is a noun). So, only watch this once you have read The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Ok? Ok.

Now, over to you, Patrick!

And because I only asked a few questions, maybe I show you guys these videos that demand more answers from Patrick (plus, I love these guys).

Friday, 28 August 2015

4 Weeks of Summer - Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book - The Mowgli Stories

I don't know why, but lately, I seem to be having a bit of bad luck when it comes to audiobooks. I'm not sure why. I have a blogpost about this coming up in the next 7 days or so - keep eyes peeled for that.

So, when Felicity from Midas PR asked if I wanted to listen to this, an full cast dramatisation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book - The Mowgli Stories, I decided just to go for it. With the stars involved in this - Bill Bailey, Richard E Grant, Celia Imrie, Colin Salmon, Martin Shaw, Bernald Cribbin and Meera Syal to name by a few. Plus, this was created to raise funds for the Zoological Society of London to raise awareness that animals that inspired The Jungle Book are under threat from extinction.

When the wolves discover a tiny man-cub, they take him in to save him from the man hating tiger, Shere Khan. As the man-cub, Mowgli, grows and is taught by Baloo, the bear, and hunts with Bagheera, the panther, he learns the ways of the jungle. But Shere Khan is cunning and will buy his time...

I have to admit this, I thoroughly enjoyed myself listening to this. I had my doubts when I started listening (it took me a while to get use the Martin Shaw and Richard E Grant doing the voices of Shere Khan and Kaa), but once I found my stride, I sped through this. It only took me three days to listen to it from start to finish. And there were a few times I relistened to sections, just because...

The production was this was very good and though, while there were times the background effects and the noise of the large group of man felt odd to me, it wasn't that much of a distraction from the story. If anything, it helped to show that Mowgli has grown up in the jungle and knows little about the world of man.

What I found surprising was how different this was to Disney's The Jungle Book. While we had the same characters, the story was completely different and the character's interaction was completely different as well. In Disney's Jungle Book, Kaa was, up to a point, an villain and helped (up to a point) Shere Khan. And yet, in this version, Kaa had no interaction with Shere Khan. He taught Mowgli in the same way Bagheera and Baloo did. It was a very interesting learning curve.

But I think people will like this version of The Jungle Book. I can't wait to see what's next for Audible London...

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Press Release - Jungle Book

I have a press release for you guys - you can blame Felicity from Midas PR for me posting this. But, Audible is releasing their fourth original programme - and it is a retelling of The Jungle Book!

It has a wonderful cast to this (see below) and for a limited time, it's free! FREE!!! Plus, with it being free, Audible is donating 25p of each download to the ZSL to raise awareness for endangered species that are the inspiration behind this story!

You can download it now and my review of this will be up on Friday. But now, off to show the press release!

Bill Bailey, Richard E Grant, Colin Salmon and Celia Imrie join host of talent in new audio adaptation of The Jungle Book to donate 25p per free download of new all-star audio adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book- The Mowgli Stories to ZSL

UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 00:00 26 August has produced a new full-cast dramatisation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book – The Mowgli Stories, in association with charity partner the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book - The Mowgli Stories is out on 26 August and available for free 25p from every download goes to help ZSL build a future for wildlife. 

The magical story-telling and unforgettable characters in Bev Doyle and Richard Kurti’s audio adaptation of this children’s classic have been brought to life by many well-known voices from British film, TV, radio and comedy, including Bill Bailey as Baloo, Richard E Grant as Kaa and Martin Shaw as Shere Khan.

The partnership between and ZSL will help highlight the plight of many of the animals who featured in The Jungle Book and are under threat in the wild, such as the Bengal tiger (Shere Khan). The creation of India’s tiger reserves in the 1970s helped to stabilise numbers, but poaching to meet a growing demand from Asia in recent years has once again put the Bengal tiger at risk. The sloth bear (represented by Baloo), which could once be found throughout India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, is now threatened by hunting and habitat loss. Sloth bear numbers continue to decline and it is now listed as vulnerable by IUCN.

Sandra Crewe, Head of Corporate Partnerships for international conservation charity, the Zoological Society of London said: “It’s a sad fact that many of the animals that inspired the characters of The Jungle Book are today battling against unprecedented threats in the wild, with some, like the tiger and elephant, facing the terrifying prospect of extinction. We are delighted to be the official charity partner of Audible’s production of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book – The Mowgli Stories. This fantastic new adaptation is an opportunity to raise awareness of this issue and raise funds to support our worldwide conservation of wildlife and their habitats.” head Tracey Markham said: “We are committed to producing new exciting audio content for our listeners and this adaptation is really something special. We are working with some of the most talented writers and actors around to make brilliant new audio entertainment. The charity partnership with ZSL is the first of its kind for us and we are really excited to be working with them to support wildlife conservation around the world.”

The cast of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book – The Mowgli Stories includes:
·         Bill Bailey (Black Books, Stand-Up Comic) as Baloo
·         Richard E Grant (Withnail & I, Downton Abbey) as Kaa
·         Colin Salmon (James Bond, 24: Live Another Day) as Bagheera
·         Sacha Dhawan (History Boys, Last Tango in Halifax) as Mowgli
·         Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as Mother Wolf
·         Meera Syal (Broadchurch, Goodness Gracious Me) as Chil
·         Ralph Ineson (The Kingsman, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows) as Father Wolf
·         Martin Shaw (Inspector George Gently, Judge John Deed) as Shere Khan
·         Tim McInnerny (Blackadder, Notting Hill) as Kipling
·         Bernard Cribbins (The Wombles, Jackanory) as White Cobra
·         Russell Tovey (History Boys, Being Human) as Banderlog 1

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book – The Mowgli Stories can be downloaded and enjoyed on a wide range of devices including Kindle Keyboard, Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire, the Audible apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8, PC, Mac or an MP3 player. The production provides three hours of listening entertainment and it is most suitable for children aged 8 and over, as well as adults of all ages.

It is the fourth production from the original programming team of Previous productions include The Child and AMOK, two full-cast adaptations of best-selling novels by Sebastian Fitzek, and Six Degrees of Assassination, an original thriller by Meadowlands and Silent Witness writer Matt J Arlidge.

4 Weeks of Summer - Monster

I got a copy of this book back in March at the UKYA Blogger Awards. I know, it's been a while, but compared to some other books I have on my TBR pile, this hasn't been in my TBR pile for long.

After rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and not ready to reread Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix just yet as part of my Harry Potter 2015 Reread Challenge, I looked through some of my books and, unsure what to read next, made my other half pick my next read out of handful of books, based on the first sentence and, when down the last 3, read the last line and chose this.

Nash thinks fighting to become Head Girl at boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle of her life. But that was before her brother vanishes. That's before she's left trapped in the school with some other students - a mix of misfits. That's before the snow storms hit, leaving them trapped. That was before the only adult looking after them vanishes without a trace. That's before fear of The Beast of Bathory begins to grip them...

Something dark is outside the school, wanting to come in. Or is the thing the girls fear already within the walls of the school...

Ok, am going to be honest with you. I am very torn over it. I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped, but there are good points to this book.

Let's deal with the good points first. When we were first told about this book, it was sold using the tapeline "Malory Towers meets I Know What You Did Last Summer". And this does work. If you are a fan of Lois Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer or James Dawson's Cruel Summer, this would work for you. It has a gentle hints of boarding school drama and mythology but as the story moves forward, it slowly turns darker and tense. And I really liked the writing style. The writing is one of the weird reasons I read this story.

However, I have problems that I am wondering if am about to fall into a reading slump and wondering if I am being harsh with this. But... ok... here's the thing... it never grabbed me. I liked the writing, yes, but there are other factions to making a story work. I don't know why, but I thought this was very slow - if you're going to say the Marton goes missing on the back, it should happen quite quickly, right? Nope. It happens around the halfway point. And when there were plot twists, it felt like there was no clues to lead us to this point. Or, if there was, it was so subtle, you missed it (and if this is the case, CJ works this brilliantly).

I think my main problem is that I never cared. I never cared that this characters were in danger, nor did I feel that these characters were in mortal peril. I never cared for any of the characters so I never worried about them. I need to care for characters in whatever situation they find themselves in, whether it's a love situation, a family situation or a life-or-death situation.

While I think some of you guys will like it and find it the perfect Winter chiller, it just wasn't for me, I'm afraid.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Harry Potter #re3 2015 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This book has been a long time coming. I started reading this at the end of June and only just finished it a few weeks ago. I didn't want this to be my main read. I have too many other books that I need to read and review for the blog (oh, if only I could stay home and get paid for reading books and writing my blog. That would be the best job ever. That and actually becoming an author rather than wishing for it.).

But here I am. Finally, talking about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!

Am going to say this here, but this was the book I was the most excited to read within this year long challenge. I'm not sure why, but it's the book I am the most determined to get to. Now, that I have read it, it's now Half Blood Prince. I think it's because out of all the Potter books, Goblet is the one I really like and, strangely, not the biggest fan of.

But oh, how that changed. I ADORED reading this. This is the book where things turned and I became excited. It might now be my fave book in the series now (I know! In this year long challenge, this might have overtaken Prisoner of Azkaban as fave book!!!).

This book is dark. I know that all the books are dark (I feel that Chamber of Secrets is very dark!) but this book could be the darkest in the series for most readers. We start with a murder of Frank Bryce (The Riddle House chapter is my favourite opening chapter in the series!), then we go to light chapters - the Quidditch World Cup, friends, fun times. Then the book turns. Death Eaters, Dark Marks, Triwizard Tournament, the Goblet of Fire spitting out Harry's name, Ron and Harry's friendship nearly in ruins, fame's bad side coming out, dragons, mermaids, S.P.E.W - it spins into the dark side very quickly.

It's this growing sense that the worse is yet to come. It's unlike the other books because we know from the very first chapter that Voldemort is at the heart and we know he and Harry are going to meet, so we're watching this unfold before our eyes, either fearing the worse or going "Maybe we got it wrong..."

And then, it happens. And I sped through those chapters. I think I read these chapters the first time in a state of horror, but now, I relish them.

One of the most interesting things for me as someone rereading the series is seeing little hints of what's the come. JK Rowling does an excellent job of lying the groundwork for the next book or a later book in the series. In one chapter (The Pensieve), we are told about the Department of Mysteries and Bella Lestrange. Both important to Order of the Phoenix. At the end of The Unexpected Task, Harry asks if Lavender will go to the Yule Ball with Ron (and guess what happens in Half Blood Prince...). Same with what Dumbledore said to Snape in The Parting of the Way, "You know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready... if you are prepared..."

SNAPE WAS DUMBLEDORE'S MAN! This line confirms it.

Speaking of Snape, reading this book made me dislike Snape more than I did before. There was a line in this book which made me question Snape as a character. In The Weighing of the Wands, Draco and Harry shoot spells at each other. The spells hit Goyle and Hermione. Snape comes along and tell Goyle to go to the hospital wing, but when Harry and Ron tell Snape what Draco's spell did to Hermione, Snape looks at Hermione and says "I see no difference."

This line made me suddenly wonder if Snape is sexist. Which makes me think about his character throughout the series and towards his relationship with Lily. I feel I might be looking into this further once I have read the entire series.

But there are things in this books that I forgot and it was wonderful to go "Look! The film got it wrong!". Beauxbatons and Durmstrang are both mixed-sexed schools, and there is a moment where some of the girls of Beauxbatons are wearing headscarves - whether because it was cold (which seems more likely) or because of religious reasons. Also, I was reading Karkaroff as someone (via a podcast?) hinted that Karkaroff could be gay. It is possible, but as he is a former Death Eater (and JK has never said), we can guess...

Rereading this is also interesting due to "Ring Theory". People say Goblet of Fire stands on its own - which is very true. But I think it is also very linked to Philosopher's Stone and Deathly Hallows. This is the start and the end, tied together. Voldemort loses his power due to innocence at the start Philosopher's Stone, Voldemort's return to power at the lost of an innocent in Goblet of Fire and then his true downfall in Deathly Hallows. This book is important to the series and is hugely important to the Ring Theory.

Also, can we talk about Cedric? I never warmed to Cedric's character, and people question why Harry's grief comes so late. Well, let's look at this at the chain of events. Cedric is murdered, Harry is bound and gagged, his blood is taken and Voldemort returns to his body. Then the Death Eaters come and Voldemort talks (aka emotionally tells off his Death Eaters) about what happened to him in the past few years. Voldemort and Harry duel and echoes of Voldemort's past victims come out of his wand, and help Harry escape with Cedric's body. They return to Hogwarts, everyone is shocked over Cedric's murder and Moody takes Harry away. Then we discover Moody is the one who put Harry's name in the Goblet. Dumbledore attacks Moody and we discover Moody isn't Moody but a Death Eater in disguise and we hear the whole horrid plan. Harry talks to Dumbledore about what happened it he graveyard, before Dumbledore takes Harry to Hospital Wing and makes him drink a sleep potion. Harry sleeps for a short while then wakes up to hear Dumbledore and the Minister of Magic argue over Voldemort's return. Fudge (the Minister of Magic) doesn't believe it and, basically, calls Harry a liar. Harry is then told to drink rest of sleeping potion - and that's the end of the chapter. The next chapter starts several weeks later.

But this whole series of events happens in a very short space of time - two hours, maybe. There is no time for Harry to process what had happen because events outside his control took over. That is why Order of the Phoenix starts the way it starts. That's Harry getting to grips with what happened to him. And he was doing this on his own.

We, as the readers, have time to recover from our shock. Harry never has that. (And that's why watching Cedric's father in the Goblet of Fire movie is so heartbreaking. That scene, in my opinion, is the only thing that film got right!)

And Wormtail. Ok, this isn't a big thing compared to Cedric, but rereading this made me see something I have always missed. When Voldemort gives Wormtail his silver hand, Voldemort says "Let your loyalty never waver again." And look what happens to Wormtail in Deathly Hallows. His loyalty wavered. So, of course, the silver hand reacted, killing Wormtail. Because the hand was never Wormtail's, it was Voldemort's. Just wanted to put that out there.

But rereading this was wonderful. I forgot why I read this book so often in the year after it's publication. But yes, LOVED IT (even though this is the book JK said she would rewrite if she was ever asked). BRING ON, ORDER OF THE PHOENIX!!!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Winterkill's New Covers!

I am quite excited to be one of the bloggers to reveal the new covers for the Winterkill trilogy, written by Kate A. Boorman (published by Faber and Faber). I must thank Hannah for including me in this reveal as I still HAVEN'T ready Winterkill as of yet. I am planning to read this in the winter months. It just screams "Read me with snow and hot chocolate!".

Anyway, let me reveal the new covers for the first 2 books in the trilogy, Winterkill and Darkthaw!

Like I said, these books scream winter, right? Both look cold and creepy and I just can't believe I haven't started this series yet as everyone I know who has started this trilogy is raving about it!

Also, Hannah at Faber has given us a sneaky peek over the third and final cover in the trilogy, Heartfire. Now, this is a sneak peek so this isn't finished. A lot can change from now till the book's release so treat this cover with caution.

I have to admit, these covers are divine! The designer and illustrator, Will Steele and Helen Crawford-White, did a wonderful job! Am really excited to read the book and find out whether the covers match the insides of the books. 

But what do you think? Do you like? Do you hate? Leave a comment down below, as I would love to know what you guys thinks!