Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Audiobook Review - Forever And A Day

A few years back, I listened to the audiobook of Anthony Horowitz's Trigger Mortis (write-up for that is here!) and I wrote "I hope Anthony Horowitz writes another Bond book". Well, the Fleming estate decided that they did want him to write another and, finding material Ian Fleming for a possible idea of turning James Bond into a TV serial (this was before the film rights were bought, to my knowledge), they give him the material and let him run with it.

007 is dead. He was shot in the French Rivera and MI5 wants to find out who and why he was killed. They promote a new recruit to the number and send him out to find out the truth. The new recruit's name? James Bond.

That's right, this is a "prequel" of Bond's first mission. And oooh... ooooh, I had problems. So many problems.

Ok, before I sink my teeth into the problems and issues I had, let's get into the positives. There are a few that I can talk about. Now, I have never read a Bond book, so bear with me, but the second half of the story had really good pacing. It moved faster. Plus, some of you guys will like reading this as this is Bond's first mission so you get to see what happened to make him tick.

My biggest positive is the "Bond Girl" (I loathe that term!) - the character of Sixteen. I found her fascinating, and she was, possibly, the only character I felt was fleshed out. She had a history, motivations, character traits and flaws. I wanted to read more about her. Possible spinoff prequel, anyone?

Now, onto the problems and issues. I have a long list! I didn't like the narrator for a good chunk of the audiobook (sorry!) , the first half of the story was slow in pace and it was a struggle to get to the heart of the story, not much was fleshed out, the idea of another prequel story coming out (I'm intrigued over Solo: A Star Wars Story but I know a lot of you don't want it). But the main thing that happened was, for the good amount of the audiobook, I frankly didn't care.

I know I am going through a bit of a reading slump, but I didn't care for the story. I never felt any true moment of danger for Bond and, because of that, I didn't care what happened because I thought "He'll be fine...". I just didn't really care about the story until the very end.

Now, I'm not sure if I feel like this because I'm in a weird reading slump, and I've only begun to crawl out of my reading slump but... yeah... this wasn't for me. I wonder if I had read a collection of James Bond stories, each story written by a different author, if my opinion was have been more favourable.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Two eNovella Reviews

After reading Noah Could Never (write-up for that is here), I fell into a bit of a reading slump. For several days, I kept picking books up, reading a chapter or two, then putting it down and going "Nope". So, when Katharine Corr (co-author of the Witch's Kiss trilogy) suggested I try reading a novella or flash fiction or a reread (something I am currently doing now as real life is going to get a little nuts for next few weeks), I went "I do have one or two I could try..."

And I read them both. It was a slow trek - a week prior novella, which is bad for me as I could usually hammer a novella or flash fiction out in a day or two. But I think I need the time to break the water's surface, so to speak, with my reading of late.

One novella is The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles by Kij Johnson and the other was Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn. The prior I bought several years back and the other I was given for review via NetGalley a week or two back and both are very different from each other.

The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles is set in Ancient Japan and follows Small Cat, who after her garden burns in a fire and the colony scatters, decides to find the home of her ancestor, the Cat from the North, and try and make a name for herself along the way...

Whereas Bottled Goods is set in communist Romania in the 1970s, and it follows Alina who, after her brother-in-law defects to the West, she and her new husband become people of interest to the secret services. As this strain takes root in their marriage, Alina turns to her aunt for support, not her mother...

So why, I hear you ask, have I decided to put these two very different novellas together in one review? Is it because I am a lazy so&so? Is it because I am going through a slump with reading and blogging? Is it because real life, like I have previous mentioned, is going to go crazy the next few weeks? Is it because both stories have very similar pros and cons? You decide...

Both stories held my attention, even though am going through a reading funk. I really liked the writing styles in both, which is the main reason why I kept reading (though I do have faults with both). In Bottled Goods, each chapter's writing style is different from the previous - first person, third person, diary entry, list, first person of one chapter, first person of a second chapter, third person. Both stories, also, always had something happening. Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger of sorts so, of course, I had to keep clicking on my kindle to find out what happened next.

Plus, the chapter art of The Cat is wonderful. Shame my kindle is black and white, as I'm intrigued to see these in colour.

But because am in this reading funk, I did have problems. Problems I would normally get over very quickly, but in this mindset, all I could see were these problems. As I mentioned earlier on, the writing styles of both novellas were good, but both had problems. At times, The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles felt... off. I can't really explain it. There was something that held me back from being full invested within the story. This is the same with Bottled Goods, but with this, I do think it's the style of writing, how each chapter changed how it was written. I liked this, but it does take a little while for you to get use to. Plus, when there were two chapters told in first person but from two different chapter and you have no indicator of who it is in the chapter title, it's throws you out a little bit.

Plus, both have an element of magic, but I kinda wanted more. With Cat, the animals do speak to each other but I wanted something more. As for Bottled Goods, the magic element comes quite late in the story, and with the story's blurb hinting that it's there from the start, it got annoying waiting for it to come and, when it did, it was a side step. I do wonder on if the magical element was completely removed from Bottled Goods, if the story would have still worked (barring one element, I think it might have).

I did like both of these, don't get me wrong, I did. But because of my reading frame-of-mind at the moment, am super nit-picky. Maybe if I reread these in the future, these won't bother me so much, but it was nice to read something not over 300 pages long and yet still packed a punch, which both still did.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

One Day, Agatha Christie...

I'm not sure why I want to write this blog post about Agatha Christie. It's come a bit left-field, even for me, but once I thought this idea up, I went "OOOH! This sounds perfect". Now, if you look at my review listings, I have only read and review two Miss Marple short stories. I actually reread my review because I can't remember a single thing about them.

But, in my youth, I audiobooked a few of Agath Christie's novels (most/all were Poirot) on audio-cassette (remember those!?), and I, over the course of the last year, keep downloading samplers on my kindle of Agatha Christie novels that catch my eye or are going to be adapted on TV or film (some I watch - And Then There Were None, Crooked House, Poirot and Marple). And because I've only read a handful (no-one wants to know about me and Stevie's at SableCaught's attempt to read an discuss Murder on the Orient Express - we both liked the book, but the video/audio was so bad, it's never seen light of day!), I thought "Why don't I show you guys some titles that I might read or reread one day?" So, that's what am going to do - and if I enjoy doing this, I might do it again with Ruth Rendell and PD James... maybe...

But, let's stick with Christie! And I'm going to keep the list short - five or six titles as I don't want to overwhelm, plus most of the titles that catch my eye is mostly Poirot (

APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH
I have this on my kindle. It was on sale, so thought "Why not?". So, heads-up, you will be reading my thoughts of this in the next 12 or so months! I have a funny feeling I might have misread the basic plot, but am totally up for it. While on holiday, a ghastly American widow dies and no one really cares if she was murdered or not. But Poirot is part of the party and has only twenty-four hours to solve the crime. But as someone said hours before her death, "if only she just dies..."

THE MYSTERIOUS MR QUIN
I only discovered Mr Quin a few years ago and, since then, I have been itching to read this collection of short stories. There's something about Mr Harley Quin that really appeals to me. I think it's the element of magic to him that appeals to me. No one really knows who he is or how he appears, and yet he seems to know more than everyone else, as if by magic himself. Plus, one of Agatha Christie's favourite characters and she only ever wrote him when she wanted to. I do hope to read this collection soon...

DEATH COMES AS THE END
Another book I want to read in the next 12 months, but I think I've audiobooked this as a teen, but I can't be sure. But I do want to read this as a murder mystery, set in Ancient Egypt - sign me up! At the bottom of a cliff lies the body of the concubine of the Ka-priest, Nofret. Young, beautiful, but venomous, most people are glad she died like the snake that she was. But Renisenb, the Ka-priest's daughter, doesn't believe Nofret's death was an accident, and she believes that the evil is in her household...

THIRD GIRL
I am positive that this was the first Poirot novel I audiobook. I remember one or two details - the first is that three young women live together in a flat-share and one goes to Poirot, believing that she might have committed a murder. The other is something near the end, which I found so absurd, I'm surprised I audiobook other Poirot novels (I do remember liking Hallowe'en Party and Hercule Poirot's Christmas, so maybe I will reread these one day... But the prior three titles are more likely to be read sooner rather than later). Might not be the best Poirot to start with, but I didn't realise how long this series is...

THE MYSTERY OF THREE QUARTERS
I am a bit of a wuss about a modern author tries to write a well-loved character and only a handful of authors can do it. I did want to read Sophie Hannah's attempt to read Poirot with Closed Casket, but I chickened out. But the premise of the upcoming Poirot intrigues me so I might - MIGHT - check this out. Poirot comes home from lunch, to find a woman on his doorstep. She got a letter from him, accusing her of murder. Poirot has never sent this letter, nor did he send a letter to the man, waiting for him in his house. Is someone trying to ruin Poirot's good name? Is there a murder? And how can Poirot investigate when he worries he might people at risk?

That's it. Not going to say any more titles, though there are more titles that appeal to me to read or reread: The Hound of DeathNemesis, Cards on the Table, The Hollow. Now, I'm not sure if I will or when, but you never know... Plus, sometimes it's nice to read something outside my comfort zone. But till then, am gonna stay with YA and Kathy Reichs when in the mood for a good murder. But one day, Agatha Christie... one day, I will read you...

Friday, 8 June 2018

Book Review - Noah Could Never

I can't do cringe. I've said this before. I can't watch reality talent contests like Britain's Got Talent or The Voice/X Factor, as I just can't handle the people who think they can sing but can't - I cringe and get embarrassed on that person's behalf. I can't watch certain hidden camera shows due to certain elements. I can't watch certain comedy programmes or films due to the the tone of the humour. I just can't do cringe.

So, me wanting to be read this is a big contradiction. I mean, I read Noah Can't Ever last year (write-up for that is here, FYI) and I knew this sequel was going to make me cringe like heck, but I have been so excited to read this since finishing Noah Can't Even because it made me laugh. Do you know how rare it is for a book to make me laugh? I preordered a copy but Scholastic were super nice and sent me a copy of Noah Could Never for review. I squealed when I discovered it on my doormat and started reading it that very day (that's how excited I was!)

Noah and Harry are now dating. And now only is Noah trying to find his footing with what this could mean, a French exchange is happening and it includes the sexy and very gay Pierre Victoire, who might be having his eye on Harry, and Eva, a girl who dislikes Noah. And there are strangers beginning to follow Noah. Noah has no idea why - expect it could be his dad and half-brother doing something dodgy with his gran's fake diamonds OR that a drag queen is staying at his house due to a drag feud OR Noah maybe getting involved in a pyramid scheme linked to protein powder?

Can Noah get a break?

Yes, this book is cringe-worth - I knew that when I went in - but this is still hugely funny (maybe more so than Noah Can't Even, as I knew how Noah would react to certain things) and big hearted.

Ok, let's get the things I don't like out of the way first. Like I said, I can't do cringe that well and this book - no, this series - has a lot of cringe moments. If you don't like cringe, you might not like this. While there are a few cringe moments that made me want to curl up into a ball, there was a few I laughed at. The one that made me have the strongest reaction was on page 345, where I threw the book on the other side of the sofa then spent next ten or so minutes trying to uncurl my fingers and toes while going "MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!!"

Another thing I didn't warm to was the pyramid scheme storyline. Ok, I get it. I understand why it's here - it feeds into two/three other storylines - but whenever it cropped up, I just wanted to skim it. But seeing why Noah got involved and the fallout was really interesting, but I never warmed to this plot.

But I hugely enjoyed reading this. I read it in just under a week - that's fast for me. I enjoyed the humour in it and I enjoyed Noah trying to come to terms with everything (which, most of the time, was terrible and I wanted to shake him!). I hugely enjoyed a new character called Mike or, when "I got me hair on", Bambi Sugapops, and I hope that if there is a third book, Noah gets more of a relationship with Mike and Bambi.

And I liked how certain subjects are tackled. In this, Noah is worried about his relationship with Harry - is it going too fast or not fast enough - but also, he's worried about why Harry wants to be with him. He's worried that he's doesn't fit a gay template that he sees on the Internet and TV shows. That he's not jock or twink enough. And I get this - I struggled with this when I was coming to terms with my sexual identity and when I started dating. So the fact Simon talks about it and pokes fun at it is refreshing and makes Noah more relatable.

Maybe I cringed while reading this as Noah was me when I was in my teens. Only he's more extreme in his reactions than me...

Cringey, funny and big-hearted - I can't wait to see what Simon writes next.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Julian Cheek's Top 5 Reads

Please give a warm wheel to Julian Cheek, author of The Awakened, for joining us on The Pewter Wolf!

The Awakened follows Sam, a seventeen year old who just wants to be left alone. Is that so hard? Well... yes, it is. Because the world is in danger. And so is the world that he's been dreaming about. If he doesn't wake up, it's game over. Which means Sam has to come out of his shell and stop being invisible. Expect if he comes out of his shell, so will his rage...

And if that happens, how can he hope for things to get back to normal afterwards... if there is an afterwards...

Now, as part of the blog tour, Julian wrote me a small list of his Top 5 Reads. But because of real life and all the trauma real life throws at you, his list is quite short. Sorry about that. But before I throw you at the list, I want to thank Faye for asking if I wanted to be involved in the tour and for Julian for find time to write this - I know how super busy he is of late!

Now, over to the list!!! 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Say Hi To Eric The Spider

I'm thrilled to welcome author and illustrator, Elaine Madle and Shaun Madle, onto the Pewter Wolf, as part of the Eric The Spider blog tour. 

... no, wait! COME BACK! Eric is a friendly spider! Honest! Though he does like to have an adventure or two. One involving him stealing a sock, flee a birthday party and go camping one very wet day!

Now, as you have probably guested, this is a rhyming book with fun illustrations, a little younger than what I normally read, but I couldn't resist saying yes when Faye from Faye Rogers PR asked me.

Plus, as I discovered a day or two ago, the author Elaine lives in my home county so YEAH!

So, before I hand it over to past me with my questions to Elaine and Shaun, I just want to thank Faye for asking me to be involved in the tour and thank both Elaine and Shaun for taking time to answer me questions.

Now, over to the Q&A!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Audiobook Review - Sleeping Giants

After listen to the Mythos audiobook, I wanted to listen to another audiobook with that addictive quality. I'm not 100% sure what made me decide to get Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, but I have loved the cover art for it since it first came out and, after listening to the sampler a few times, I went "Ok, I need to listen to this."

In Deadwood, USA, a girl fell into a hole. When she was discovered several hours laters, she was found in the palm of a giant metallic hand. Years later, the girl has grown into Dr Rose Franklin, who is asked by an unknown figure to lead a team to discover the rest of the metallic body.

But the metal used in the strangest Rose has ever seen, and when a forearm is discovered halfway round the word, the race is on to find all the pieces before other countries discover them. But are these pieces meant to be discovered? Where did these pieces come from? And what's going to happen when the pieces are put together?

This was such an gripping listen. Am kinda glad I audiobooked this rather than read as I think I would have struggled. Most, if not all of this book/this series, is told in transcripts, very much in a similar style to Illuminae trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. But this had a huge cast so this felt like an audio play rather then a audiobook, and this worked as the names went over my head so the voices helped me so much. So, production wise, this was stunning!

The story itself is interesting. This comes under sci-fi when you look on Audible, and while I agree up to a point, this book did feel more like a political thriller with a sci-fi twist. I sense that, as the trilogy goes forward, the science fiction element was became more pronoun at the end of Sleeping Giants will be pushed more to the forefront of the story. But the advertising for it felt out of step, and while that would annoy some people, I actually didn't might the political thriller element, as I watch shows such as Blacklist and Blindspot so I slipped into it with easy.

But I really liked the story. It was slower paced than what I was expecting, but it moved at a good pace, fast enough to keep you listening but slow enough to make you go "Well, this would be realistic in real life". The characters felt interesting yet flaw. I am surprised intrigued by one of the main character who we learn nothing about. He has no name, he let's nothing slip about himself to anyone and he pushes the story forward with back-up plans and "friends" in high places. This story felt like a sci-fi book I could very easy sink my teeth into and could very easily devour the entire trilogy in a ridiculously short space of time.

Barring this, I found Sleeping Giants an addictive listen and I really want to continue with the series. I will have to stick with audiobook rather than reading, and if/when I do continue with this, I will have to put reading book 2 and 3 of the Illuminae trilogy on hold so I don't get myself into a knot over which book is doing what or merge the plots together...

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Press Release - Class Is Back In Session!

If you followed me on Twitter a year or so back, you know I am a bit of a Doctor Who fan and I got very excited over Class. i really enjoyed how dark and gritty it was and was a little disappointed when it was axed (although the way BBC Three and BBC one treated it, I'm not surprised).

So, imagine my shock and delight when Big Finish have announced that they are going to release Class audio tales! Big Finish is best known for creating Doctor Who audio plays, but also release Torchwood, Blake 7, UNIT, Avengers and other brands, so this is in safe hands. I'm surprise intrigued and excited to see what Big Finish is going to do with these characters and I can't wait to dive in when these are released!

Let me just share with you the press release I was sent via the lovely Paddy from Big Finish sent me! If you want more info, check out Big Finish's website.