Friday, 30 September 2016

Martin Stewart Talks Riverkeep

Today, I would like to welcome Martin Stewart to the Pewter Wolf!

Martin is the debut author of Riverkeep, a story that follows Wull who is dreading taking up the family role of Riverkeep, tending to the river and fishing out corpses. But one night, his father gets possessed by a dark spirit and Wull has to go downriver to find a cure. If he doesn't, he will lose his father forever...

Now, I am very lucky that people at Penguin asked if I wanted to read Riverkeep (which I plan to read in the depths of winter - this feels like a wintery read, with hot chocolate and a chill in the air. Trust me, am going to read this before the year is out!) and, because of me going "Hell yeah!", I somehow managed to get this piece for the blog about Riverkeep and what aspects of the story inspired Martin.

So, before I go any further, I must thank Martin for writing this. I know he has been busy and the last thing he needed was me and Clare at Penguin going "Fancy writing that blog post?". Also, I must thank Clare at Penguin for setting this up and thank you to Harriet for sending this to me!

Now, handing it over to Martin!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

#LostAndFound - Patrice Lawrence

Due to the hiccup last week with my #LostAndFound post (sorry everyone involved in this tour), I am happy to report that this is going live today and I would like to welcome Patrice Lawrence, author of Orangeboy, to the Pewter Wolf!

Apart from have that awesome cover (have you not seen it?!), Orangeboy is a story that follows Marlon as he tries to struggle with family and friends, especially his relationship with his older brother, Andre. This book, also, tackles the subject of gangs, something Patrice Lawrence is surprised over when people use that word to describe the book (you'll find out why in a few paragraphs time!).

And, because of this, Patrice did research on this subject matter and this is what Patrice has kindly wrote for our stop of the #LostAndFound tour! This post is a really fascinating read, if I do say so myself.

Now, before I hand over to Patrice, I must thank her for writing this. I know she has been very busy lately so how she found time to write this is beyond me. I must also thank Michelle from Tales of Yesterday for setting this tour up and asking me to be involved. Thank you both!

Now, with no more delays, over to you, Patrice!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Putting Books Up On A Paddlestool

I know what you guys are thinking. I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Saturday and you want to read my thoughts and reactions to it. And I will write my reactions to it once I have digested it... and figured out how not to go on spoiler on you (yes, I know I did with the script but the play is different).

But instead, I wanted to write this instead. And before you think this is a review, this isn't. Hell, I am not sure that, in my current state, I can review this book.

Ok, question: have you guys ever read a book that you are so very excited for, only to start reading it and it doesn't live up to your expectations?

Now, no lying. Am sure we all have. I know I have. And recently, I had this with Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriott.

Ok, here is the thing. I LOVE Zoe Marriott - well, the books I have read by her - and with this book, it ticked every box. A fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a mystical Japan? Where do I sign up?! I was so excited to read it!

So when I did, I struggled. I know I have been going through a bit of a possible "I might be falling into a reading slump and I won't let that happen as too busy to be in book slump" phase, and I know I jumped about reading short, fast eNovellas and audiobooks so I never settled on Barefoot on the Wind, but it didn't hit the mark with me.

But why? I have been excited about this book since I first heard of it and yet, reading it, I felt off balance with my opinion over it (hence why I am not reviewing this now. I want to reread Barefoot of the Wind before I make up my mind fully). Is it because the story isn;t that good or, is it more likely that I put so much pressure for this book to be perfect that it was doomed to failure before I had read the first page?

This is something I have been wondering from when I was about halfway through the book and, the more I thought about it, the more I went "Did I do this? Have I put a too much pressure on a book to be perfect that the story was never going to be? Am I the problem here?". And it made me think.

There have been books in my reading past that I have read that I have been very excited for and it never quite hit the level I expected it to be. I can listen tons of books that were not quite perfect, and yet, when I have reread the story a few days/weeks/months/years later, I have fallen madly in love with it or something finally clicked in my brain.

For example, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. When I first read it, I enjoyed it - it's Harry Potter, people! - but I remember not enjoying it compared to the others. But, a few years back, I reread Order and went "OH! OHOHOH! This is great! Why did I dislike this book so much?!".

But, I sense, this could work the other way round. Read a book and love it, only to reread it later in your life and go "What on earth was I thinking?!" *eyes several books I read a few years back that I know that, if I reread, I would be horrified*

So, what can we do to lessen this "Put This Book On A Paddlestool"? Something we all do?

Not much, sadly. It's in our nature, as awful as it sounds. But what we could do is be open to the idea that the ebook might not be perfect. That this book might not be as wonderful as we hope and we have to accept that it could be our expectations are too high.

Or maybe, if we read a book that we had high hopes for (and it misses the mark), maybe we should reread it a little while later...

What do you guys think? Have you have read a book you've bene hugely excited for and it didn't tick all the boxes? Have you reread it months later to find you enjoyed it hugely?

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

eBook Review - Pottermore Presents...

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

Mouthful, huh?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

#LostAndFound - Patrice Lawrence (Slight Change in Plan)

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

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

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

Saturday, 17 September 2016

YA Shot - Chris Russell

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

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

So, over to you now, Chris!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

My Reading Identity

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

Deep breaths everyone. This will all be fine!

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

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

However - yes, there is a however...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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