Thursday, 13 August 2020

Revisiting the Old Kingdom

During COVID-19 lockdown/self-isolation, I read and audiobook a lot! And, as you probably see from a month or so back, I hit a reading wall and was on verge of reading slump and blogging slump. So, I decided to reread Sabriel, the first book in the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. This is usually my Go-To book when I'm on the verge of or in a reading slump as I adore this book!

Plus, me rereading this series is a long time coming as, for the past 18 months, I have openly said that I would reread Lirael, the second book in the series. I've been wanting to reread this for such a long time as, while I adore Sabriel, Lirael has a soft spot in my heart as does Goldenhand (I will explain why a little further down).

So, the past few months, I finally sucked it up and reread the whole series. Expect, I've not reread them. I have audiobooked them, and while I've only ever audiobook Sabriel, so this is a new experience for me, and yet, not quite at the time same.

So, what do I class this? A Reread Post (aka re3 post) or a new post? A mix of both? An experience post?

Not sure where to start, so let's talk about rereading these books and me falling back in love with this world.

I suppose I should explain what the series is about, though that is a little of a hard one to explain. The Old Kingdom series is a high fantasy series which, primary, is set in the Old Kingdom, a kingdom where magic exist (well, two types. Charter Magic and Free Magic) and the Dead can walk, pulled back into Life by nercomancers or Free Magic adapts. Only the Abhorsen can lay the Dead to rest and force them into the cold river of Death and, hopefully, through the Nine Gates.

I suppose I should, also, explain reading order and history as, even as a fan, this is a weird one. Sabriel is the first, published in the UK in 2002 but published in Nix's homeland of Australia in 1995. This was, originally, a standalone so you can easily read this and you would be perfectly fine. Lirael and Abhorsen was published in 2003 and 2004. Set around 20 years after the events of Sabriel, this is one story told over two books, so you have to read this duology together. Clariel is a tricky one - almost the black sheep of the family - as it's a prequel, set around 300 years before the events of Sabriel and things happen in there that have an effect on the series. And Goldenhand takes place six months after the events of Abhorsen.

Which leads to reading order. There are, to my knowledge, three ways you can read this series, if you wish. You can read it in publication order (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, Clariel and Goldenhand with the two novellas, Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case and To Hold A Bridge before Goldenhand - yes, there are short stories set in this world, but not gonna touch on them in this post!), you can read in timeline order (Clariel, Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen and Goldenhand) or you do publication order but flip Clariel and Goldenhand about so the order would be Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, Goldenhand then Clariel.

I know, that last order sounds weird, but it does work and make sense. Because Clariel is a prequel and hints at one or two things to come, you can either read it before or after Goldenhand. You can read it before and go "Oh, that's what happened" or you can read it after and go "Oh, that's what happened!"

But, in either way, I do say read Sabriel first as it sets up the world and magic system and Lirael and Abhorsen is one story told over two books and, if possible, read Clariel and Goldehand as close together if possible, though this isn't essential.

So, my reread and thoughts. Well, to no one's surprise, Sabriel and Lirael are wonderful books. I will happily push these two onto people. They are wonderful and am shocked that it's taken me so long to reread these. The same goes Wirth Abhorsen, though I don't have as much affection to it compared to Sabriel or Lirael. I feared at one point that this would be four stars, but Garth pulls it back right at the end!

Clariel and Goldenhand are odd balls. I've not read these as much compared to the others (only once or twice) and I have read affection for these. I read Goldenhand while in New York City on holiday with my partner who proposed on that trip, hence my soft spot. And with Clariel, I've been waiting for this book for such a long time and, while not my fave in the series, I do keep thinking about the main character, Clariel, quite often as she is quite a complex character.

But this reread was different. And I have two reasons for this. The first is I was audiobooking this time round and, because of that, I had three different narrators. Tim Curry, Graeme Malcolm and Heather Wilds. Now, I have listened to the audiobook of Sabriel many years ago so I have heard Tim Curry reading and I adore his voice. It just fits (plus, how he does Mogget is wonderful) so, I knew I would love his reading of Lirael and Abhorsen. And I did. Hugely.

But, as we all know, he suffered a stroke several years ago, meaning he was unable to continue acting and reading the series. Hence, Graeme and Heather stepping in to read Clariel and Goldenhand. And this is a bit jarring when you are doing one audiobook after another. I am going to be honest here, I see why Graeme was chosen to do Clariel, but I never warmed to his voice. The same goes, up to a point, with Heather. I see why she was chosen and I did like her reading, but some of the choices she made with character's voices were puzzling.

Plus, I did audiobook Goldenhand at the worst possible time in my life (I will explain in further but not now. At the time of writing, it'a too soon and too raw).

But I am, overall, really glad I revisited the Old Kingdom. And with the sixth book in the series coming out the end of next year (it will either be called Terciel and Elinor or Terciel [not sure as getting conflicting info on that front), I can;'t wait to come back into this world. Or maybe reread a book or two before diving straight back!

Friday, 7 August 2020

The Crow Rider Has Eyes



BLOG TOUR TIME! And I am thrilled to be part of the The Crow Rider tour!

Crow Rider is the conclusion to the Storm Crow duology, so I don't really want to say too much in fear of spoilers so let's try and keep this as vague as possible, shall we?

Thia, her allies and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to overthrow Queen Razel and save Illucia once and for all. But it might not be as easy as Thia needs to convince neighbouring kingdoms to come to her aid, Res's magic is being to become unstable and Thia is being pursuded by heir to the Illucian throne, Prince Ericen, the one person Thia shouldn't trust and yet, she can't seem to stay away from him...

I hope that wasn't too spoilery, but I am thrilled that the author, Kalyn Josephson, has written this small guest post for my spot on the tour!

Now, before I hand it over to Kalyn, I just want to thank her for writing this post and to Faye for asking if I want to be involved in the tour! And if you want to say hi to Kalyn, check out her website or visit her on Twitter (@KalynJosephson). Also, if you want more info about this duology, check out Sourcebooks and Book Depository!

Now, ONTO KALYN!!!

Monday, 3 August 2020

Podcasts I've Listened To During COVID-19 Lockdown

As you guys knows, I love a good podcast! And with me listening to a heck more podcasts and audiobooks the past few months (one of the only few pros of lockdown and self-isolation), I thought I would talk about a few podcasts I relistened to as well as new podcasts I discovered and became obsessed with!

One podcast I kept relistening to (or a handful of episodes that made me chuckle dirtily in one room while my Other Half is in the other room, trying to work from home) is My Dad Wrote a Porno. If you're not sure on this popular, basically the host discovered his dad wrote an erotic novel and, horrified, told two of his friends and they decide to podcast their reactions to each chapter. The episodes I seem to listen to contains the lines "She likes her women like she likes her wine: ice cold", "Belinda gave into nature, not once but twice before the inevitable blue ejaculation cut across her dreams" and " [Spoiler Removed] And I am the Special One"! 

Ok, so I relistened to a ton of podcasts, but tlet's chat about one or two podcasts I discovered and loved!

The first new podcast I only just discovered a week or so ago and, over a space of one weekend, I binged the entire first season and the first few episodes of season 2 that have been released. Arden (click here to go to their website) is a comedy murder mystery drama (they describe themselves as Serial or My Favourite Murder meets 80s TV show, Moonlighting) where Bea, a journalist, and Brenda, a former cop, join (reluct) forces to attempt to solve the 10 year old mystery of disappearance of Hollywood starlet, Julie Capsom. She vanished in the middle of nowhere and her car has a torso in the boot. Is this the torso of her former boyfriend and possible stalker, Ralph Montgomery?

In the second season, the pair go to Montana to investigate a possible murder of a rancher, only to find themselves getting a little too close to the case and the rancher's daughter, Dana Hamill, who can't help but think her uncle is involved... (I emailed the podcast for a possible guest post and, while they declined, they let me listened to the first 6 episodes of season 2 and guys! I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON! Hopefully, it won't be a long wait before the cast and crew can, safely, record the resolution).

The second is a crime literary podcast, Shedunnit. This podcast with short episode looks into the genre of crime and the authors who wrote them. I discovered this by fluke after trying to learn more info on Agatha Christie and Josehine Fey (I still need to read Daughter of Time, that everyone says is great if you are a fan of the Golden Age of Crime). So, a non-fiction podcast that is doing awful things to my TBR and credit card (thanks for that, Caroline!)

One more podcast? Ok, where do I go? OH! Let's do F***bois of Literature (here's the twitter)! Basically, the host and a guest read a novel or series and chat about whether or not the character in question is a f***boi. I came in quite late to this podcast, around the time the show talked about Lord Asriel from His Dark Materials, Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series, Edmund from Narnia and, my fave at the moment, BATMAN!

I do have some honourable mentions of some old faves and new shows: My Favourite Murder, Spirits, You're Dead To Me, Wheels on Fire: An Absolutely Fabulous Podcast, The Villain Was Right, The Archers (oh yes, am back on that. WHO HAVE I BECOME?!). 

And as you know, I love discovering new podcasts so, here I am, begging you to tell me what podcasts I must put on my radar and listen to ASAP! I would love to hear them!!! 

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The Island Cover Reveal & Extract

I HAVE A COVER REVEAL FOR YOU GUYS!!! (No, I'm not back from my mini blog break or, RSM as we call it!). And the main reason I decided to do this is because the blurb for this sounds SO GOOD!!!

It's CL Taylor's newest YA novel, The Island, which was sold to me as Lost meets The Hunger Games. How intriguing, no? Now, before I show you the cover, let me show you the blurb for it, the one that sold me in going "Ok, I want to be involved in this!"

Lost meets The Hunger Games in the thrilling new young adult novel from C.L. Taylor, the Sunday Times and million-copy bestselling author.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island. But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality. 

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret. 

Who will make it off the island alive?

You see? As soon as I read this, I went "YES!". Ok, ready for the cover? Ready?

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Surprise Blog Break Alert

Well... this is unexpected. Not just to you, dear reader, but to me also.

Ok, let me start from the beginning and we can go from there.

Usually, I try and have two blog breaks a year. The first is usually round Easter so March/April and the second in October. I do try and take a few weeks off at the end of the year to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

But this year has been different. With COVID-19 and lockdown, I have been reading then blogging a lot more so I just went through my first usual blog break without much through. The plan, I decide, was when I was allowed to go back to work, I would take a few weeks off and try and get back into the rhymes of life again.

But, a few weeks ago, I found myself on the edge of a reading slump. After reading multiply stories that were always 2 or 3 stars, my brain was rebelling against the idea of reading. I was relistening to some old podcasts and my brain wasn't fully ready to read (though it did allow me to audiobook one of my favourite reads, Sabriel by Garth Nix). For the past few weeks, I have been binging the books from the  Old Kingdom (I should be finished with Goldenhand by the end of the month, fingers crossed!).

So, I have, slowly, walked away from my reading slump verge. But, at the same time this was happening, things were happening on Book Twitter (for a good few weeks, there was always something - and with good reason), which made me question my blogging or if I was still a member of book blogging, especially the YA book blogging community.

If you've followed the Pewter Wolf for a while, you know that I have been struggling on how long I should keep blogging for the past few years on and off, and with this and everything that has been happening, the idea of writing blog posts for the past few weeks makes me feel tired. I feel tired of the blog and every time I wanted to type a post, I just couldn't muster the energy to do it. Why should I when it felt like I was doing it for no reason?

Though, writing this has been quite helpful as now I'm giving myself the permission to take a blog break, I feel like now I could write posts. But I'm going to take time out and now worry about writing posts of books I read this month. Unless a book catches my eye and I need to talk to you guys badly about it.

So, yes, I am taking a small blog break and I'm not really going to write up my reviews/write-up of the stories I read/listen to this month and save them for next month like I normally do. I'm just going to titles that catch my eye and, when I come back at the end of the month/August/whenever, I can start afresh and anything that I do read this month, I will do a small write-up on my Goodreads or Twitter (so, yeah, now is the time to meet my social media and I am looking into joining other bookish social media such as BookSloth. Maybe... am still thinking this over... ) and I'm not going to pressure self to read x amount of books/audiobooks within a stupid timeframe like I normally do.

Maybe this is a time-out the Pewter Wolf and myself need. So, blog break time! I will be reading and I will be plotting...

So, till I return, stay safe, stay kind and stay fighting.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Queen of Coin and Whispers Extract Alert!

I HAVE AN EXTRACT FOR YOU GUYS!!!

Queen of Coin and Whispers is a debut from Helen Corcoran and I'm very excited to share this extract from you as this book screams everything that I want to read this year. It's fantasy and queer and it sounds perfect!

When idealistic Lia inherits her corrupt uncle's throne and his bankrupt kingdom, she brings in a new spymaster, Xania, who only took the job to avenge her father's murder. But as the two spend more time together, the more they fall for each other, which could ruin everything for both of them.

Am keeping this quite vague as I want you to read the extract!

So, before I hand you over to the extract, I just want to say thanks to Triona at O'Brien Press for asking if I wanted to be involved in this tour!

Now, if you want to say hi to Helen, pop over to her website at helencorcoran.com or go to Twitter and say hi to her at @hcor. And, after reading the extract below you crave more info, you can go to either obrien.ie or Book Depository!

Now, ONTO THE EXTRACT!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Self-Isolations Mini-Reads - A Taste of Honey & HeartStopper

Oh, the joy of thinking you are on a verge of a reading slump: you are never sure on how you feel about the book and if you should do a small write-up about the stories you have read. I’m probably going against my better judgement and I am going to do a two mini-reviews in one post. Which isn’t going to be a difficult thing to write as one ebook I read, I had a blast with and the other… not so much. 

Might as well get them out of the way now! 

  • Title And Author: A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 162 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones

I had such high hopes for this. Such high hopes. I mean, LOOK AT THAT COVER! Yes, I did buy this because of the cover. Plus, part of the book’s blurb catch my eye and I went “YES!”. Aqib, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of the Hunt, finds himself falling for a handsome Dalu├žan soldier named Lucrio. As the two start a star-crossed whirlwind of a romance, the two don’t know if their love cam survive all the hardships the world has planned to throw at them… 

Like I said earlier, I had such high hopes. An adult fantasy novella with a black queer romance at its heart? SIGN ME UP! And yet… and, sadly, yet, this didn’t work for me. There’s nothing wrong with this - the writing and world building were on point, though a tad confusing at times if you’re not on the ball. Plus, maybe it’s because I am on the verge of reading slump that I felt that this was a tad dense for my brain. But the main reason I went into this novella - the black queer romance - while there, often felt overshadowed by the writing and the world-building. 

Ok, so I had a tiny misfire as I judged a book by its cover (DON’T!), but I thought I would try something with kissing. So, when I saw an eBook version of Heartstopper: Volume 1 on my kindle for 99p, I “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed over it. I have read the webcomic for a few years now, but kept putting off buying the first volume. Not sure why, but I did. So, I got Volume One now (AT LAST!) and, oh, hang, I need to do the links/essential info! 

  • Title And Author: Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman
  • Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 288 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s chat graphic novel/webcomic! Charlie and Nick go to the same school, but have never met. Until they made to sit next to each other in class. The two become friends, and soon Charlie finds himself falling hard for Nick, though he’s sure he has got a chance with Nick. But Nick might be more interested in Charlie than either of them realise. 

This is wonderful, feel-good graphic novel. The art might not be as polished as other graphic novels, but this has a lot of heart and does wonders for representation within the LGBTQ+ community. Plus, if you follow the web-series, this series does tackle some issues with sensitivity and care, but this is very much setting up Nick and Charlie’s friendship and slowly growing romantic relationship and it’s wonderful! 

I had to jump onto the web-series once I had read the volume to double-check what happened next as it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. But this was exactly what I needed after reading A Taste of Honey

Speaking of this, this might be my last bookish-review/write-up for a while as life is slowly trying to return to normal plus reading slump so going to give myself a few weeks off blogging my reading and my thoughts (though not for long. I just need to find my feet again and then, can hit the ground running again. And oooh, I have titles I want to read that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into!!!) 

Friday, 19 June 2020

Self-Isolation Read - Arctic Heat

  • Title And Author: Arctic Heat by Annabeth Albert
  • Publisher: Carina Press
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction
  • Length: 368 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Audible UK

ARGH! My NetGalley TBR has gotten SUPER out of hand! At the time of writing this, it’s over 100 and I know that a handful of them might not be my reading tastes now as they were requested several years back and if you have been on this reading/blogging journey with me the past few years, you would have seen my tastes change and me reading a few more genres more than others now compared to when I started. 

But I do have a set spot for romance of late. Sometimes, when the world becomes dark, you need a little sweetness, and romance seems to be my go to the past few weeks since lockdown/self-isolation. Plus, the past few weeks, I have felt on the verge of a reading slump so I hoped that this would save me up to a point. A gay romance set in the snowy mountains of Alaska? What more could I ask for?

Owen Han has a new leash of life. Surviving cancer and going through his bucket list, volunteering alongside park rangers and fulfilling his childhood dreams of snowy winters and rustic life. Shy ranger Quill doesn’t want to deal with newbie volunteers. And flirty Owen looks like he wouldn’t survive a week, let alone the winter. But as the two spend time together, their work relationship turns romantic, but can their relationship survive the harsh winter?