Thursday, 22 June 2017

We're Allowed To Like Different Books

Earlier today, Penguin in the UK and the US excitedly announced that John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, was publishing a brand new book in October this year. It's called Turtles All The Way Down (isn't that a Discworld quote or some kind of old saying?) and the internet, of course, exploded. Everyone was excited, thrilled, preordering it and using a lot of gifs.

My reaction: "Oh, that's nice." And then I went to eat my dinner and drink my mug of tea.

Now, before you grab your pitchforks and lit-torches, let me say this: we can have different opinions and tastes and still be happy, kind, respectful people. That's why I never say on my blog "This is my opinion". I trust you guys know and get that.

See, I tried John Green. I REALLY DID! I read Paper Towns, his short story in Let It Snow and The Fault In Our Stars. I have read him and I liked them. I didn't love them, but I didn't hate them. I liked them enough. I get why you guys like and love John and his writing - but he's not for me.

Same with Sarah J Maas. I have read Throne of Glass and I struggled. But I read it. And, while this book also wasn't my cup of tea, I get why you like and love the story. And I respect your thoughts and opinion.

And there are books you guys hate and I love. I met someone a few weeks back who hadn't read Harry Potter and, while I was shocked over this news (Harry Potter is MY series), I got why and respected them. I know people who read and liked 50 Shades of Grey and while I will never read the series (ever!), I know this series brings some fun to its readers.

This has taken a while to get to this realisation, but in a world that has suddenly got dark and we all need a bit of fun in our reading lives. But let's be respectful to what everyone likes to read, can we?

With that, here's a picture of of turtles all the way down...!

Book Review - The Art of Moana

I had this book for quite a while - thank you Chronicle Books. But I wanted to read this after I saw the movie. Whenever I have read these types of books (which I love - if you backtrack far enough, you see that I have read a few - The Art of Finding Dory, The Art of Up, The Art of Frozen to name a few...) before watching the movie, there are little spoilers about the end of the movie so, as much as I wanted to devour the beautiful art designs in this, I wanted to see the movie first.

In this, we see the art designs and ideas for the art that went into creating the world of Moana, a Disney films most of you guys love.

Now, because it took a while to read this after I watched the film, I was surprised about the lengths the directors and art departments went to get this right - spending a long time researching Polynesia and the Pacific Islands, with the people, sounds, rituals, plantations and other things to make the story ring true and respect the region of Oceania, while telling Moana's story with its magical twist.

And this book, like the other The Art of books I have read (or need to read - I was recently given another for review which I will do nearer the movie's release date, me thinks...). This shows the art and the process it took from starting idea to final design. For example, very early in design, Maui was drawn being bald, but it was changed after the team chatted to their Mo'oera consultants and they were told that they envisioned Maui having a Sampson-like hair, long like a lion's mane. And seeing the different start points to the Te Kā and Te Fiti made an interesting "oh!" moment.

I do like these types of coffee-table books and I think older Disney fans who enjoy how Disney created the film from its starting idea drawings... And because I feel like I can show you, let me show you one or two images I think you will like!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Book Read - My Name is Not Refugee

This has been sitting on my TBR shelves for a while. It was one of those books that, as soon as I read Nina Douglas email about it, I wanted to read it. But when I got a copy, I was a bit hesitant over how, in a picture book aimed for younger readers (aka the tiny humans in your lives) was going to tackle the issue of refugees.

The story follows a small boy who is told by his mother that they have to leave their home, because it's no longer safe. There, we follow their story as they leave, travel, wait and then find a safer place to stay and live.

This book explains the refugee crisis in a simple, very child-friendly way. Almost with an innocent outlook of a young child which shows that, while this is scary and "...a bit sad but quite exciting too" (taken from one of the earliest pages).

On each page, the book asks the reader questions - what would you take? How far could you walk? What's the strangest food you've ever eaten? - while showing images of his journey, simple but powerful.

I get that some parents and teachers won't want to read this to young people, but I think this will help some youngsters understand the very basic of the refugee crisis and should be more readily available.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Book Review - Never Say Die

After a weird reading slump (that's the only why I can discover the past few weeks) and then me trying to read 3 books on the go (because that's going to help me SO MUCH after crawling my way out of a reading) just so I can read/reread some books that will make me happy (have you not watched the news?!).

And this seems the perfect place to start. Truth be told, I didn't know Anthony Horowitz was bringing back Alex Rider in Never Say Die till I got the email from Walker Books, asking if I wanted to go to the book's launch party. You can read my writeup about that here. While I was there, I bought a copy and started reading it on the way home that night.

After the shocking and heartbreaking events of Scorpia Rising, Alex Rider is recovering. He's fifteen and he's done. Done with MI5. Done with risking his and the people he cares about lives all the time. And with what happened to Jack... he's done. But when he get a cryptic email, Alex finds himself in something much bigger. Scorpia might be finished, but there are still bad people who will do anything to achieve their ends. Alex must stop whatever he's found himself involved in and he must find the truth: is Jack Starbright really dead?

Am going to admit this, it's been a while since I read Alex Rider. The last book I read was Ark Angel. So returning to this world was a bit of a risk. Would it live up to how I remember the book series being? I mean, I haven't read this series for over 10 or so years.

Best way to describe my read of this is nostalgia. The first hundred or so pages, I had this very happy feeling about returning to this world and getting sucked back into this world. The writing and pacing was fast (perfect for a spy thriller like this) and the plot was interesting to read. It wasn't as huge a scale as Ark Angel (nothing can be as huge [or maybe a bit bonkers] as Ark Angel) but this felt realistic. It could happen and Anthony always have a habit of writing a fast story where the story could happen. It might seem a bit out there but it could happen.

I'm not going to gush over this book too much as this isn't flawless. No book is ever flawless with me - even my beloved Harry Potters aren't - but there's one or two things that felt off. Even though you can read each Alex Rider book separately and you have no real need to read the others, I did feel like I should go back and read Scorpia Rising. There were little references to what happened in that book and as this book involves a huge moment from Scorpia Rising, I felt like I should go back (and yet, I didn't really have a need to. Odd blend). The reason for this is, I think, because Never Say Die feels like a start of a "new, more grown-up series" within the Alex Rider series. Alex is less gadgets and more grown-up compared the the original Alex Rider novels when he was fourteen. Because of this, Anthony needs to tread a fine line where we're starting a new book in a new series (the last chapter definitely hinted that more books are to come) but, at the same time, being respectful to "original series" and respectful to the fans who have been with Alex since Stormbreaker and Point Blank.

Yes, I get some of you will go "it's unrealistic" and "how stereotypical" but it was fun. I forgot how much I enjoyed this series and I haven't read a YA spy thriller that comes anyway near Alex Rider. And with the world as it is at the moment, I think we need a bit of fun. So, hearing that ITV is going to turn this into an "older family series" gives me hope that this series could react new readers (as long as ITV doesn't mess it up!). But, as someone returning to this world, all I can say is: welcome back Alex.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The TBR Tag

After discovering this on YouTube, I thought it would be fun to try this out. I mean, my TBR in both physical and ebook is a little out of hand and I think it will be a good way to show you what I have and that I am trying (!) to get it in some control. 

Before I do, the tag was originally created by A Perfection Called Books (you can check the post out here!). Now with that out of the way, let me try and answer these! 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Disney Villains Takeover Wrap-Up

This is a quickie wrap-up post for the Disney Villains Takeover blog tour! I think the evil, vile, wickedness we have created the past few days is enough from us (for now... though, with the world being as it is, we might have to band together and either spread love, peace, unity [like the bloggy Avengers] or join together and be more wicked [like Suidice Squad - but better than the movie]. Because, remember... 

So, as this is a wrap, I better give you all the links of everyone's posts and be evil about it! So, let's get those flying monkeys started! 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Why Gaston and Hans are the Scariest Villains...

One of the main reasons why I wanted to do to try and create this mini blog tour of Disney Villain Takeover (I am awful with bog tour banners so you can blame that on me! Sorry about that!) is because I wanted to write this very blogpost. Or attempted to write it in a way that made sense to me.

So, Disney Villains. There are a lot of them. The Evil Queen. The Wicked Stepmother. Scar. Frollo. Maleficent. Jafar. Ursula. We know them and we love/hate them in equal measure. But when it comes to Hans and Gaston, I can't help but wonder about them. They feel different from the other Disney villains. 

Maybe it's the way they are drawn. When you look at certain villains, they are drawn and coloured in a way that we, the viewers, know instantly that they are the villain. Drawn in rather severe way or in a quite comedic way. We have Maleficent who is drawn with horns and Ursula is drawn with lavender-coloured skin. Scar is a different colour compared to the other lions and both Jafar and Dr Facilier are tall and drawn with sharp lines. All Disney villains have clear indicators that they are villains. 

While Gaston is drawn in a comedic way (those muscles), Hans doesn't fit either. Hans is drawn to the hero, the dashing prince who (we are told in every Disney film) will come and save the day. Hans is, to Anna, the prince who came. It's not until much, much later that Anna sees his true intent. 

And intent is another villain trait. In nearly all Disney films, the villains intent is always there. We see it from the off. We know they are the villains and we know why they're doing what they're doing. Both Gaston and Hans are, at the start of the films, don't reveal their intent. With Hans, he lies and pretends to be the wonderful person, but when his mask slips when he thinks Anna is going to die and, when he think she does, he spins more lies and becomes more ruthless in his pursuit of power, not pausing for a second before he tries to kill Elsa, while grieving for Anna after being told that she was dead and with her back to Hans. 

But Gaston doesn't fit this. He doesn't lie to the viewer. He's not being deceitful. Not at the start of either the animated or the live action movies. He wants to marry Belle become she's the most beautiful and that makes her the best. He believes that, because he is the most handsome man in the village, marrying the most beautiful girl in the villain will make him happy. But as the story goes forward in both version, we see that he sees Belle as a object, a thing to be control and no one will stand in his way of getting what he wants, making his actions of trying to put Maurice in a mental hospital or, in the live action, tying him up to a tree and leaving him in the woods, hoping the wolves will eat Maurice because he said "No" when Gaston wants Belle's hand in marriage. Gaston, though no starting the movie as a villain, grows into one. 

But this isn't the reason I think Hans and Gaston are scary villains, probably the scariest out of them. 

My main reason is quite frightening and it's this: They exist out of their movie. 

With most of the Disney villains, they live in a world of fantasy, with magic at their fingertips. We can separate fantasy from reality. We're never going to meet a witch, a woman who can turn into a dragon or a half-woman, half-octopus trying to steal our voices. 

But Hans and Gaston can be so easily taken out of their movie and easily exist in our world. There are men and women out there who can easily be Hans and Gaston. They can be our friends, people we work with, people we're related to, people we're in relationships with. People who think it's ok to do the things they do and to have no one call them out on it because they are handsome or their status. 

But - now this is a huge but - for every Hans and Gaston in the world, there are loads of princes and princesses. People who will have your back. People who will be kind, thoughtful, loving. People who will be there for you, no matter what. The Mulans, the Tianas, the Meridas, the Flynn Riders, the Prince Philip and the Beast/Prince Adam. These are the people who, when the Hans and Gastons appear on our lives, will always have our back. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Disney Villains Takeover

Because I suck at creating a blog tour banner (nothing ever looked right! Maybe I set myself too high a standard!), this is it. Me explain my mini-blog tour between a few lovely, kind hearted heroes and saviours... ok, maybe not heroes and saviours. For this weekend, let's call ourselves villains in training...

This, my lovelies, is the Disney Villain Takeover! Over the next four days (Friday 9th to Monday 12th), a bunch of wicked bloggers, vlogger and authors are joining together to chat about ... well... Disney Villains, of course...

Now, I must thank everyone for taking part in this madcap idea of a blog tour! It was wonderful for you all to say yes (and no poison apples to tempt you either!). I asked them to write/record a post about a villain of their choice and they could write whatever they liked! So... this is going to be interesting for me to read as well as you guys who fancy following the tour...

Friday 9th June

Saturday 10th June

Sunday 11th June

Monday 12th June

My post is going to be a villain in itself and lurk in the background, buying its time. But I sense Sunday. But thank you again to everyone taking part and I hope you guys like the tour when it kicks off tomorrow! 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Never Say Die Launch Party

Let me tell you a story. Are we all sitting comfortable? I first discovered the Alex Rider series back when I was in college (in around 2003 - work the mental math of how old I am!). It was Eagle Strike, the fourth book in the series. I remember reading and enjoying it. So I backtracked to Stormbreaker then attack the books from there. I got to Ark Angel a few years later and went "He can't top this so am going to stop while ahead" (plus, I was going "Where the hell is Anthony going to take this now? WE WENT TO SPACE AND EVERYTHING!!! He's going to kill Alex and nope. NOPE! Or he's going to do a evil twist involving the ending of Point Blanc [FYI, which is my fave out of the series]").

But I liked this series and am very fond of them. So, when I got an out-of-the-blue email from Walker Books, asking if I wanted to come to the launch party of the latest Alex Rider book, I emailed "Yes!" almost as soon as I read it, then went "HANG ON! I thought Anthony had finished the Alex Rider series with Scorpia Rising... I know there's a prequel - Russian Roulette. Is this a prequel? Is Alex back in a new book? What is this?" And I decided to go into this as blind as I could. Little to no information WHATSOEVER (oh, that's a brave/stupid idea when you're going to an event where you think you might be meeting the author, dear readers...)

So, last Thursday, after a long day (up at 5am to do work from 6am till 2pm only to go to London and knew I was going to be up late due to train journey home), I rushed to London and made my way to the launch party (which was only a few minute walk from my train station - THIS NEVER HAPPENS!). And I almost didn't go in as the venue looked very swish (and I'm probably not cool enough to enter the building). But after going "I'm probably at the wrong place, what's the worse that could happen?" and discovering I was in the right place (by, I didn't realise till I got home, JR Moore who was doing an internship at Walker!), I slipped into the venue and did what all book bloggers do - I saw that there were people there and went "ARGH! PEOPLE!! FIND A DARK CORNER AND HIDE!!!" 

This event was filled with people in connection with the book. Book publishers, TV peeps (well, ITV are in the early stages of turning Alex Rider into a "older family series" [PLEASE DON'T MESS THIS UP, ITV!]), friends, family, author... Oh yes, Anthony Horowitz was there. THE ANTHONY HOROWITZ! 

You guys have rock stars, actors, musicians to get starstruck over. I go starstruck over authors. Plus, Anthony is a big author of my teens and early twenties so it's kinda a big deal, ok? 

A post shared by Andrew (@thepewterwolf) on

After a small speeches from Anthony's editor and Anthony himself, people got food, drink and got their copies of Never Say Die signed. I was too terrified to go over - do I need to remind you who he is [plus, I saw from a distant his sons - both very attractive and I didn't want to go "Whoa! Your sons are fit!" (I have the habit of putting my foot in it when I feel out of my element - as you are about to find out in the next paragraph or so!)

And then, out of nowhere, Jane from Federation of Children's Book Groups (who I met at the Noah Can't Even launch) appeared. We chatted and she asked if I had my copy of Never Say Die (which I bought that evening) signed. "No," I replied. "It's Anthony Horowitz. I can't go over there and ask. He -" I didn't get to finish that sentence. Jane and Rosi from Walker (who, also, just appeared - both are ninjas!) practically frog-marched me over to Anthony and went "This young man is a fan of yours! Sign his book as he's slightly imitated by your awesome!" [Ok, am para-phrasing, but you get the idea[. He signed my copy and we chatted - Rosi created a boomerang of us as Anthony wondered how you make a gif (if I can find it, will share in post!)


Now we're back! Now, for the awkward "ahh..." moment. While chatting to Anthony (and with Rosi and Jane in earshot!), I mentioned how, earlier that day, I mentioned to my friends/other half (can't remember which) that was going to even and said "He writes the Alex Cross books". Anthony looked at me weirdly. "Apparently, in that moment, you are James Patterson in disguise" I now explained/backpedalled/blabbed. "We've never seen you in the same room together!"

[insert cringe here]

After that, Anthony had to go and chat to other people who came and I got chatting to Anthony's publicist/author pal, Justin Somper (via Jane. Thanks Jane!). He writes the Vampirates and Allies & Assassins series. It was really cool to chat to him about books, politics (is that a wise thing to chat about with a snap election in a few days time, one wonders?) and a few other things before it was time to go.

Before I wrap this up, I want to thank the people at Walker Books for inviting to this event. It was an honour and, once I found people to talk to (I need to be more outgoing to go to people I don't know and chat at these events), I have such fun. Thank you Anthony for signing that slightly hyper 30-something fan's book - and dealing with my tweets going "What the actually hell?!" and "I blame you for listening to Sheryl Crow's Tomorrow Never Dies" and now, am going to get that stuck in you head now!