Saturday, 24 December 2016

End of Year Note

When in doubt on how to start a blog post, use a gif. Hence why I used a Friends gif yesterday, a Modern Family gif now and goodness knows what gif I'll use to end this post! Shall we go and find out? 

*scrolls down* ... oh. Really, Andrew? Letting the side down, aren't you? I mean, this is the final post of the year - oh, you guys didn't know that? Ooops. 

Yeah, sorry to throw this at you. But this is my final post of the year, so I can enjoy the holiday season the only way I can... 

Ok, if you know me at all, you know I won't get stinking drunk. In fact, when I do have an alcohollic drink, most of my family/friends/partner look at me in shock. "You're drinking? Are you ill?! What's wrong?!" 

But after the year we've all had, I think we're allowed to let loose for a day or two. Within reason. I mean, 2016... wow, 2016. A year most of us will want to forget. Brexit, Trump, all the people we love/admire/respect dying. Yeah... 2016 wasn't a happy year. So, we will be running into 2017 and, when we do, we'll turn to 2016 and either give it a rude gesture or 

How many of you, I wonder, saw this gif and went either "CURSE YOU, PERRY THE PLATYPUS!!!" or sung "Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorperated"? (That's the only reason this gif is in here. A tiny, tiny bit of humour!)

But, honestly, we'll be walking into 2017, hoping that this new year will be better than the last! We'll be staring at it, waiting for the moment it begins to look like it's going to misbehave so we can either do this...

... or this...

Well, this blog post isn't going the direction I was hoping for. So much for fun and light. 

So, this year was difficult, but we've made it. And hopefully 2017 will be easy on us (it better!!!). And reading was fun this year. A mixed bag as well and finally, I seem to have discovered that I can be ruthless on my reading (at last! Am practicing what I say!) 

And, hopefully, the new year will be the same. I will be reading and listening to stories that will excite me and I will fall in love with. So much so, I will turn to you guys and go "GUYS! GUYSGUYSGUYS!!! YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!!! IT'S SO COOL!!!"

And, hopefully, I will be more proactive on future blog posts. Hopefully, it will be a mixed bag of stuff I hope you guys will like to read. 

Now, am going to sign off now. Have been rambling. But, before I do, I want to thank you all. To all the publishers, all the authors, all the PR people, to you readers, to my fellow bloggers/vloggers/podcasters... I want to thank you all for making this year so much fun blog wise. It has been a struggle and there have been a few times I have gone "Should this be the end I wrap this up?"

But am having far too much fun now! AM BACK IN MY GROOVE!!! 

To my family, friends, fiancee - thank you for putting up with me. I love you all. 

So, I should wish you all a very merry Christmas or whatever festive holiday you keep and I shall see you in the new year (I am thinking either Thursday 5th or Tuesday 10th so mark those dates in your calendar!). 

Ok, that's a bit of a scary gif to leave you on. Ok, let's leave this post on here. See you in the New Year! 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Books And Their Theme Songs - Volume 36

Because of the last few months and their oddness, I decided quite late in the game to merge 4 months worth of reading/music listening into one blog post. I have listened to a lot of audiobooks which has kinda messed up my music-listening while reading and, because I went to New York, took a RSM break and then had a possible reading slump right before my ALM (oh, joy!), it's kinda threw my reading out of the loop!

But here is some music I listened to while reading. Hope you guys liked the music choices!

"The Walk" (Instrumental) and "Half-Life" (Instrumental) by Imogen Heap [Not Available]

HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer (DNFed)
"Shape" by Sugababies

"It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" by Perry Como & Michael Buble

"Carol of the Bells" & "The Holly and the Ivy"

Thursday, 22 December 2016

eBook Review - Three Men and a Maybe

Last review of the year! LAST BOOKISH POST OF 2016! I never thought this day would come! But here we are, people! And let's leave this year with a short story for your eReader. And it's free as well. BONUS!!!

Men are like buses. None will come for a long time and then three come at once. But three marriage proposals as the clock strikes midnight at a New Year's party? Cerys doesn't know what to think when her ex, her oldest friend and the hot barman all propose to her...

Three proposals, two real contenders for Cerys's heart. but one choice. what is a girl to do...?

Ok, this isn't my normal genre of reading. This is very romance, very Mills and Boon. You know this stories is going to end in a "happy ever after" type way and you know from the title how the book is going to end.

This is a very fluffy romantic read. Plus, it's a short story so you can blitz through this very quickly. I paced it through two evenings as I wanted to take my time over this. I did enjoy the writing and I think the writing fits perfectly with this genre.

But this is a bit predictive. I knew, as soon as I got a good way into the story, where we were going and how the story was going to end. And while I was happy with this when I was proved right, I do wish it was a tad stronger. The ending felt a bit "We're all friends and everyone gets a happy ending" for my taste. I wish Cerys was a bit stronger or the ending was more reflective to real life.

It was a nice fluffy read - not perfect for someone who likes a bit of grit in their stories - but a nice way to end this year of reading.

Now, let me start reading books to chat to you guys about next year!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Audiobook Review - Talking As Fast As I Can

Ok, I wasn't going to talk about this till next year. I genuinely did think "This could be my first review of 2017. Start as you mean to go on in 2017. Start with a bang!"

Expect... I changed my mind. There are reasons I changed my mind. Which I will say why further down.

But, when Midas PR asked if I wanted to listen to some audiobooks from Audible (in exchange for an honest review), I jumped on a few. I still have a few I need to listen to and play catch up (one or two. I have DNF one which I spoke about last weekish. Yes, go backtrack by clicking here!), but I asked if I could listen to this. They said yes and I got very excited. When I listened to the teaser before I requested this, I choked with laughter and went "Ok, I need to listen to this!"

We all known Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. But here, in this collection of non fiction essay (oh yes, this is non-fiction. I know, very rare for me!), Lauren chats about life, love and acting. What it was like growing up, acting, dating, what it was like playing Lorelai Gilmore the first time, stop playing her after seven years and what it was like going back...

Ok, I have to admit this, I am not the biggest Gilmore Girls fan. I have seen episodes and I love the speed of character's speaking. I shout at the TV "Why isn't Luke and Lorelai not together yet?!" and "Rory and Jessie!". This is the same with Parenthood (the first 2 seasons were airing in the UK on 5Star/Fiver/whatever it was called back then!). I would watch it, like it hugely ("The characters talk over each other! My sister and I do this ALL THE TIME!!! This show gets it!"). But I always seem to like Lauren. I watch her when she does interviews and find her funny and quite refreshing, so I knew when I started listening to this that it was going to be the same: fast talking, funny with touches of loveliness in it.

And I got all that. I couldn't be happier.

For something that's 4 hours and 38 minutes, I whizzed through it. Within 4 days. 4 DAYS! With audiobooks this length or longer, it takes me quite a while to complete it. A good two or three weeks. So the fact this audiobook took me four days shows how obsessed I got and how I need to another Lauren Graham novel/audiobook (her debut fiction novel, Someday Someday Maybe, isn't published in the UK to my knowledge...)

This, weirdly, reminded me of Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes audiobook (review for that is here). Both had that pace, that speed, that humour and that honestness which I found gripping.

There is one thing I didn't like (barring the fact that this was short and I wanted it to be longer). Throughout the audiobook, Lauren would mention photographs and go "See photograph 1/2/3/etc". And, with an audiobook, you can't see them and I thought that there was a problem with editing. It wasn't till me writing this review (so now) did I release that, when I purchase the audiobook, there is a PDF which have all the photos! So, when Lauren says "See photograph 5", you go to the PDF and look. But, because I didn't know that till now, ARGH!!! Not sure if this was stated in description of audiobook on Audible but maybe, when audiobook do have added extras, maybe it should be stated at the start on audiobook that there is extra content that came with audiobook so check it you have everything before you go further...

Fans of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood will love this, and people will enjoy Lauren's fast talking humour. So yes, I liked this. A lot. In the same way that Lorelai loves her coffee...

Thursday, 15 December 2016

DNFing The Girl Who Saved Christmas

I hate DNFing audiobooks. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It's like when I DNF eBooks in some respects. But audiobooks, it makes me feel... it's hard to describe.

Now, like some of you would be aware, I would pretend this didn't happen. I would keep it a secret. But earlier this year, I decide to tell you guys every time I DNF something - whether be book, ebook, audiobook, etc - because I wanted to be honest with you, dear reader. Sometimes, you just don't click with a story and it's ok to put it down and each of you go on your merry way.

But what is more annoying about this DNF is the fact that while I didn't like this and had to stop over an hour into the story, I LOVED the prequel.

So, why did I DNF The Girl Who Saved Christmas?

Now, if I can answer that question honestly, this post would be so easy to write. But, in fact, it's not. There was nothing wrong with the story. I've seen people read/audiobook this and LOVED it. So... why didn't I?

It's a mix of reasons. I wonder if it's because I listened to this so quickly after finishing the audiobook of A Boy Called Christmas. I fell in love with that story and it's so rare for me to read/listen to the second book in a series so quickly after finishing the first. I usually give it a few weeks and a book or two before I go back. I only gave it around 3 days...

The second is the reader. There is nothing wrong with Carey Mulligan. But I couldn't connect with her reading. I just couldn't gel with it, and I have no idea.

The third is the story - ok, this is a weird one but it was little things in the story that didn't work with me. Because I had listened to The Girl Who Saved Christmas so soon after A Boy Called Christmas, I kept comparing characters who featured in both and kept going "That character wouldn't have behaved like that in the previous story so why are they acting this way now?"

I kept nitpicking. I had no rush to return to the story (whereas now, with the audiobook I started a few days ago, I am blitzing through it and I have that itch to go back and listen to some more chapters). Nothing nagged me to get my iPod and listen.

So, as much I don't like DNFing audiobooks, am going to with this one. I might come back... one day... maybe... but it's not the end of the world if I do or don't.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

eBook review - Wrapped Together

Because it's Christmas, I been feeling the past few days/weeks that I should read more Christmasy reads. Normally, I don't. You might have noticed over the past few years if you have followed my blog for quite a while, I usually just continue to read what the mood takes me. Whether that be crime, fantasy, sci-fi...

but this year, I wanted to read stories set round Christmas-time. That and get my ARCs and eARCs in some sort of order from this month till February-ish time (but I will let you guys probably do some voting on my Twitter when that happens so you have some input!).

So, one evening, while skimming NetGalley, Wrapped Together caught my eyes. A romance LGBT story set round Christmas time. And it's a novella to boot. And it's a grown-up read so is outside my comfort zone. Requested before I could stop myself (I have no self-control, have I?)

The fifth (or 4.5) in the Portland Heat series, Christmas is meant to be great business for retail. And it is, expect store owner Hollis. Christmas reminds him of a tragedy that happened three years ago. But fellow store owner (and twin brother to Hollis's brother-in-law), Sawyer, has decided to make it his mission to make Hollis enjoy the holiday. And the more time they spend together, the more it looks like it could be working. Hollis is slowly coming out of his shell and enjoying the season - and Sawyer's company.

But Hollis's heart is fragile and with him being scared of it getting broken, could he take a leap of faith when it comes to his and Sawyer blossoming relationship?

I must state something here: whenever I pick LGBT books on NetGalley, it usually a very bad decision. It's one reason or another: it's badly written, it goes into S&M/BDSM literature (something I don't like reading. You have your no-goes in reading, I have mine.), it feels fake or out of place. So, requesting then reading this was a bit of a risk.

This is a sweet, fluffy, holiday romance. I accept this, and I enjoyed it. I didn't love it the way I hoped (more on that later), but I did blitz through this quite quickly - about three days (at the beginning of the month. Because of how I schedule last week's reviews, I only just posting this now). It is very fluffy and Christmasy. And it does scream Christmas TV movie, with it being a bit painted-by-numbers - you know where the plot is going and you know that, when you get the end, you will get your Happily Ever After.

I didn't mind this. It's kinda why I signed up for. I don't read many romanic stories.

This wasn't perfect, though. I didn't really see the point of the epilogue. It could have been removed and it wouldn't have made any real difference to the story.

I have one big flaw with this story. Like you have probably guessed, this is very much aimed towards an adult audience - I suspected that - but why, OH WHY, is it when I read an adult LGBT romanic is there BDSM? I get that this isn't a big taboo anymore (Fifty Shades of Grey), but it feels like every times I try and read a grown-up LGBT story, there is bondage and one of the people entering this relationship is a newbie and has their eyes open to this world. Really? Does this happen in every adult LGBT book or am I picking up the wrong ones to read? I don't mind stories with a bit of kink in it, but having this within this story, for some reason, I found a little jarring.

Barring this, I found this a fast, fun read. I might read more from this series in the future. Maybe... Not sure... But this was a nice fluffy Xmas read. Just the kinky moments might not be for everyone...

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Andy Robb Talks Last Librarian Music & Movies

Today, I would like to welcome Andy Robb to the The Pewter Wolf.

Andy Robb is the champion of the UKYA Blogger Awards and is author of the Geekhood books. And now, Andy is releasing his new novel (deep breath time!) The True and Untold Story of the Outlaw Tam Barker

A strange mix of sci-fi and western (so, am imagining Firefly [never seen that show. Is it good, Internet?]), Tam is the last librarian and must some protect a book and return it to the Library. Sounds simple, right? Well... dark forces in her world are after the book and, oh yeah, the book is very, very special. 

So, when asked if I wanted Andy on the blog, I jumped at it and did my normal thing of going "if Andy has time to talk music, I would love that!". And Andy did - with the added extra of movies! Andy, you are spoiling us! 

Before I hand over to Andy to talk about movies and music that made this story, I just want to thank Andy (for writing this post - oh! If you fancy checking Andy out online, check out his website & Twitter.) and Laura (for asking if I wanted Andy on the blog - though she knew the answer to that!)

Now, over to you, Andy...

Friday, 9 December 2016

#YAXmasTour - A Boy Called Christmas

And on the ninth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me -

- a review of a Christmas audiobook. ... really?

Ok, before you go all "YOU FAILED US!!!", hear me out. It's Christmas. It's meant to be peaceful, happy, joyful. And after the year we've all had, damnit, I want this last few weeks to have happy, feel-good stories before I go on my Christmas break!

So, before I go any further...!

Ok, happy now I got that out of my system! Now, I can begin...

Do you know the true story of Father Christmas? No...? You don't know the story about snow, kidnapping, flying reindeer, elves, magic and a boy called Nikolas who, one day, went to the north...? No? Well then, let's get comfortable and I will tell you...

I was very lucky to be given the audiobook version from the lovely people of Midas PR and Audible, in exchange for an honest review, of course. That goes without saying. But thanks you guys for the Xmas treat...

This story is bewitched with Christmas magic. I fell under its spell and enjoyed myself immensely. This is a little younger than I usually read (this is middle-grade), but it has a simple lightness in the writing which works.

What works even better is Stephen Fry narrating the audiobook. I remember listening to the first few chapters and getting the same reaction as I did when I first heard Stephen narrating Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Stephen's voice and Matt's writing work beautifully.

There were one or two scenes that did grate on me (this is me. Of course I will find something to be negative on), but these moments are kinda important for Nikolas so I forgive them.

But like I said, filled with Christmas magic and I can't wait to start audiobooking the sequel, The Girl Who Saved Christmas (which I believe is narrated by Carey Mulligan)!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

#re3 ReRead 2017 Challenge

Was planning to reveal this before I go on my Christmas break and I have mentioned this a few months back. But after chatting to a few people on Twitter last week, I decided to tell you guys my plan. 

Earlier this year, I has an idea to reread all five of the Garth Nix's The Old Kingdom series. I have reread all seven Harry Potter a few years back and I think it's important to, every now and then, reread a book or a series that you love. So, 2017 was going to be my Old Kingdom reread! 

This is still going to happen. I haven't changed my mind on that. However, there is now going to be a small twist. 

Last week, I was chatting to a few people about rereading a series and few said "What about His Dark Materials?" Now, this is a series I loved and I haven't reread in a VERY VERY long time. And when they mentioned it, I went "Yes! We should reread this. But at a pace we can all do."

Which got me thinking... 

So, throughout the course of 2017, I would like to invite you to reread either The Old Kingdom series or the His Dark Materials. Or, in fact, any book or series that you love and you want to reread. 

And whatever you decide to reread, there is no pressure over how long you take to reread it. As long as you start in 2017, then woo-hoo!!! 

I just want to say what books am reread and hope you join in as well. 

So... see you in 2017 for our rereading! 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Book Review - Inside The Magic

I don't think I make it a secret on this blog that I love Harry Potter. Nor do I hide the fact that I love reading making of movies/TV shows books (a few publishers know of my love and I thank them deeply for allowing me the pleasure of reading these delights. I have three awaiting my attention with one I have bought coming into my possession the next few days...)

So, when I saw this in my local Asda, I couldn't resist. I was curious over the new movie (I own the screenplay but not read it - I plan to read it after seeing the movie. Which, by now, I have seen but need time to process and I will talk about it once I have read the screenplay. I am doing the opposite of what I did with the Cursed Child so shhh...!) and I love behind the scenes information. And... I mean, POTTER!!!

This is a behind-the-scenes book revealing most (not all, but most) of the film-making of Fantastic Beasts, with character profiles (and small interviews with the actors), props and sets, information about New York, MACUSA and The Blind Pig, the characters within Newt's case and other titbits.

I am a little torn on this. Now, I love these types of books so, yes, this book can't go too much into depth because of spoilers. And, because this is an adult companion, it is more aimed for movie-goers and people who like this type of books (aka me). I loved the photos and the details. The amount of text is aimed more for an adult audience but I don't see why teens or children with a higher reading level can't read it.

However, there are problems. This isn't perfect. This does feel a bit like a whistle-stop tour of how the movie was made. Again, this is something I see in most "making of [insert film here]". Actually, compared to most of them, this has more information. So, for that, I will let slide, but it still felt like we were skimming...

But the main issue, the thing that tainted this book for me, was a small line. A sentence of 8 words. I know... I know... this is stupid to say, but I am going to state it. On one of the pages, linked to costume design, we have a small photograph of the actor Gemma Chan (you will know her from the Channel 4 show, Humans). She isn't an important character - her character has one sentence in the movie (and she is one of the few speaking characters in the movie who isn't white unless I am misremembered...), but we see her in character. The line that accompanies this photo is "Gemma Chan plays an exotic witch visiting MACUSA".

Why, OH WHY, is it that when a non-white character/actor (who isn't really important to the story) is in movie/TV show/radio/etc, they are described as "exotic"? It's a lazy writing, a throw-away remark which could and can be seen as a racist term. In this instant, the term devalues her character. She, to my knowledge, is a foreign representative visiting MACUSA to take part in a wizarding equivalent on United Nations. Her character even has a name - I checked! Madam Ya Zhou. So, why isn't her character name or the term "foreign representative" used? Why isn't it "Gemma Chan plays a foreign representative witch visiting MACUSA"? Or "Gemma Chan playing Madam Ya Zhou"? The term "exotic" should never have been used - it's cheap, lazy, sloppy writing.

*deep breath*

So, book overall. While it's one of the better "making of [insert movie name here]" books, it does have some faults.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

British Book Challenge 2017

I did this in 2013 and again in 2015. So, of course, to keep the pattern going, am going to do the British Book Challenge again next year!

Because I like to punish myself, that's why. Plus, with me plotting to do a ton of rereads next year (blogpost explain this plan will be up next week sometime!), I thought this would add something fun to the reading mix.

If I actually remember that I'm actually doing this.

So, for those of you not sure what this is, the British Book Challenge has been running for the past few years where people taking part (bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, Goodreads, etc) read/reread at least 12 books from British authors (aka 1 book a month).

And when the term "British authors" is used, it's authors that either born and live in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), born overseas but currently living in the UK or born in UK and living overseas. All of these must have books either published in the UK or be published in the UK first.

I think I have that right. If not, shout at me!

Now, I am still going to be reading widely across a ton of genres, a ton of age ranges and a ton of formats, so that's not going to change. Actually, I think I will do this without really trying but am going to do this to try and expand my reading. Try new genres, try new authors and reread some books that been meaning to read for a while.

Now, Michelle from Tales of Yesterday (who is running this year's BBC - like the shorthand?) asked to write a tony post, stating some books we want to read next year as part of it. Now, I don't like doing TBR lists as I never stick to them! So, instead, am going to show a tiny handful of books that am thinking of reading... maybe... if I have time... and am in the mood...

And, of course...

eBook Review - You Will Not Have My Hate

This, I am going to admit, is going to be hard to write. I'm not 100% certain where to start, truth be told.

Last year, Paris came under attack by a small group of terrorists. Antoine was at home, looking after his young son when he started getting text messages, asking if he and his wife were ok. He was fine, his baby was fine... but his wife, Hélène was out with friends at a music concert. Hélène was one of the people who died that night.

Three days later, Antoine wrote an open letter to his wife's killers on Facebook. He stated to them that he would not let himself or his 17 month old son cower or be defined by their acts. That his son will insult them by his happiness and freedom. That they will not have either his or his son's hate. The Facebook message went viral and this memoir follows both Antoine and his son, Melvin, in the days that followed.

I am going to admit that this isn't my normal reading. This is so far removed from my normal reading, I can't even really tell you why, when I got the email from NetGalley, I rushed there and requested it. This felt vital to read.

This isn't an easy read. This is a short novel, with short chapters (as Antoine describes it later in the memoir, these chapters are like polaroid shots of those days, touching on some events but not all), but I found reading them difficult. I would only read a few pages - maybe a chapter - before having to put my kindle down. This isn't an easy read - the event is recently, it's fresh in everyone's mind and with events that have recently happened, it feels more closer to the bone than ever.

But, saying that, there is a hopefulness to Antoine and his son's story. Yes, what they went through those days and the days/weeks/months/the year that followed and the future to come is hard and painful, but there is hope. There is hope, joy, love, kindness in the world and, no matter how dark the world is, we still have these elements and we must treasure them with every fibre of our being.

Antoine says he started writing this after Hélène's death to cope, and because of this, you can feel the rawness to it. And the fact this is felt through the translation work of Sam Taylor is beautiful.

Not everyone will like this book, but it is important to take the themes - hope, kindness, love - can carry them with us.