Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Do Star Ratings Work?

Question: how many times have you looked at a book - or anything for that matter - on Amazon/Goodreads/Waterstones/etc and simply glance at the star ratings of something before deciding if it’s worth your time or not?

Answer: probably a lot. I do this all the time, even though I know that I should know better. 

The problem with doing this is that it’s simple things. And there’s no explantation on why people have given the star rating. Plus, the star rating changes depending on where you look and who you chat to. 

For example, I looked stuff up on Goodreads. The one that prompted this discussion was a book I was going to preorder and yet, when I added it on my To Be Read list, it had a ton of 5 star reviews. I know with Goodreads, users can put star ratings on books that aren’t out yet, but when the book comes out, won’t these star ratings mess the rating up a bit? 

I’ve seen the same thing on Amazon when people write reviews on how they got the book delivered to them. I’m glad/sad that you got the book is wonderful/horrid condition, but do you need to write a starred review to tell us that? What is your thoughts on the story itself? 

Friday, 10 August 2018

eBook Review - Hard Truths

  • Title And Author: Hard Truth by Alex Whitehall
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley
  • Length: 212 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository

Like I said in my write-up of Mysterious Mr Quin, I went through a bit of a spell with the blog, real life and reading in general. So, I decided that I wanted to read something fast, fluffy and something that didn’t involve much thinking. 

Sometimes, we all need a candy-floss, beach read. 

It was going to be one of two NetGalley eProofs: either this or Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert. I  leaned this way more as I believe this is shorter out of the two stories. 

Isaac didn’t expect to fancy his sister’s date at the Christmas dinner at his parents. But when her date hits on him, Isaac decides to tell her what happened at once - only to find out that her date is a fake date. They aren’t dating and that Logan is gay as well, and wants to see him again. 

As the two begin to date, Isaac has to find a way to come out to his “unworldly” parents. Coming out to them could mean losing his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see his real family who are right beside him and, if Isaac isn’t carefully, he could lose everyone around him… 

Ok, where do I start with this adult gay romance? 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Should Book Bloggers Get Paid?

I know this is something that keep getting discussed every now and again within the Book Blogging Community aka the Blogsphere, and normally, I stay away from this as my opinions are very mixed depending when you ask me and what mood I’m in. Or if I’ve just looked at my bank account and panicking about money, which is something I do often! 

But recently, I’ve started listening to a bunch of new podcasts and watching book vloggers and they ask for listeners and viewers to support them via Patreon. They are open about the fact that they put a lot of time and work into these projects and I 100% understand. 

But it’s interesting reading book bloggers thoughts on this throughout the past few years and I started to wonder about it as a whole. 

Now, before I go any further, this is going to be rambling. I’m not going to give an out-an-out answer on this. This is me, trying to understand and figure out where I stand in this. 

My thoughts are very mixed, like I said. I feel hugely uncomfortable about the idea of being paid to write a review or being involved in a blog tour. If I read a review on a blog I trust, I would question if the reviewer was being genuine over their review or was saying that the publisher/author/PR company/whoever is paying wanted them to say, if I find out that it was a paid review. 
We’ve seen backlash when several well-known vloggers in the US reviewed a book positively, only to discovered that they were paid. 

And what about adverts, I hear you ask? Hm… If I put adverts on my blog, I would want to be super careful on what goes up. I don’t want an advert that goes against my beliefs and the values I hold dear (for example, I won’t have anything anti-LGBTQ as am a gay man. Nor would I want anything racist, sexist among other things). Plus, if I did have adverts, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks on it. And how often do we click on an ad? Or a clickbait ad? We’re more savvy now on this. 

“But, what about affiliates,” you ask? “You can put them in your reviews and put them to companies you use and trust”. Ok, this does seem the most logical step, but what company? Amazon? Waterstones? WHSmiths? Foyles? Audible? Book Depository? Hive? See… there are so many book sellers in the UK and there are so many forms of books - physical, ebook, audiobook - that instead of doing one, I would have to have several. And again, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks that link to get a 30 day cookie and buys something. And even though, how much would I get if someone did that? Not very much - it’s between 5% to 10% on some of the sites I’ve looked into. 

What about Patreon and Ko-Fi? I mean, listening to podcasts and watching book vloggers saying they use Patreon and Ko-Fi and I get why. How pricy is a microphone, a camera, editing software? But for a book blogger such as myself? All I need is my laptop, wifi (which I can get free in most coffeeshops), a book or my eReader and not much else. Wouldn’t that feel a bit cap-in-hand?

Plus, would it be even worth it? I am not a huge blog. Hell, I am tiny! Really under the radar.  Would it be truly worth it for me to have an affiliate or a patreon/ko-fi? And do this while getting copies of books from publishers for free? 

See, that’s where I get stuck. Publishers, authors and publicity people are sending me books and ebooks (and making them aren’t cheap) and then, I would making money on the back of it. 

“But, hang on,”I hear you counter-argue. “They use your blog for free advertising and they make profit from that when the book sells. Doesn’t it seem unfair for you to do this for free while they make profit?”

This is something I have been questioning for at least a year or so. Me wondering if I should have something so, if you click it, I get some money. Money that I can put into the blog - buying my domain name, paying someone to create business cards for the blog or create a really cool banner, using the money for train fare when I got to events. But then I would question if it’s wise/sensible to ask for money from the blog’s reader, which then makes me question my worth and the blog’s as I have spent how much time/money/energy into this blog - a hobby I enjoy - which then makes me feel guilty because this is a hobby, plus I’m asking for money. This, in turns, makes me worried about money, my and the blog’s self-worth, which makes me think about using affiliate and thus, the cycle continues, though I do leave it a month or two before I go back into this rabbit hole. 

While I was on Twitter a few days/weeks ago, when I was thinking about writing this (or halfway through), I asked if other bloggers I know use affiliates and feel guilty about using them, and though only a tiny handful of people replied, most said the same thing: “I barely make any revenue from it so why feel guilty over it?”

I could go on about this. About me trying to figure out this as it does feel very much a mortal and it varies from person to person. For some people, this is a no brainer while to others, this is a bad idea and won’t go near it. 

For me, I think that, while I am totally against being paid for a review, I do feel less against using an affiliate and the forms of revenues, as long as they are sensible and for the blog. This would be my thread of thought, and if/when I finally feel comfortable about using affiliates/adverts/patreon/ko-fo/whatever, I would use what I feel is the best and most comfortable for myself and for the blog. 

But like I said before, this is a moral decision and it’s up to each blogger, vlogger, podcaster, creator to decide what is comfortable for them. 


EDIT: Ok, am writing this at a later date compared to the rest of the post as, when I wrote the above, I was wondering about affiliate and the morals and ethics of it, whereas now, you might have seen that I have an “Affiliate” tab and links on the side of the blog. After writing this post and having a long think about it, I did decide to get an affiliate or two. 

This wasn’t a decision I made lightly. 

But I thought of two, maybe three, things: if you read a write-up of a book or audiobook and you went “Oh, wow! I want to buy this or read more write-ups about this”, you can click on the seller of your choice, I would see what you guys like to read and go “Ok, you guys like this” and I can decide if I want to try reading more by that genre. Plus you guys can just click on a icon and you go straight to the seller of your choosing without leaving the blog. Ace. 

And now, the money. From the people I spoke to, you get little/nothing from affiliate so I thought “I have nothing to loe”. But, if I did get a tiny commission from you clicking/buying something, I could use that towards the blog - buying my domain name, train tickets to go to events, buy a book you guys have been screaming at me to buy/read. It would always go to the blog. 

So yes. I have affiliates. But I am not going to pressure you into using them. I’m having them on the side of the Pewter Wolf and on its own page/tab. Also, for a few months (maybe up till Christmas… Am still trying to figure this out), I will be doing a trail and putting links in the reviews at the very start. This will be a trail as I don’t want you guys to feel pressured. Like I said earlier in this post, I don’t want to pressure and I want to feel comfortable with them on the Pewter Wolf - if I feel comfortable with in them in the write-ups or discussion posts, I will keep doing them. If not, then I will remove them. I want the Pewter Wolf to remain friendly and safe space - like two friends chatting about books - so am going to figure this out and find what works best for me and you. 


*groans* seeing as I’m chatting about this, I suppose I better give you the links below so you can use, if you so wish. God, I suck at self-promotion…  

Free Delivery on all Books at Book Depository

   


Monday, 6 August 2018

Book Review - The Mysterious Mr Quin

  • Title And Author: The Mysterious Mr Quin by Agatha Christie
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Physical 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed from Library
  • Length: 336 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Audible


Well… that was unexpected. 

Ok, in the words of Craig David, re-e-wind

Sorry, no idea why I wrote that but anyway, back story. As you might remember from a blog post from months back when I chatted about Agatha Christie, this was one of the titles I’ve wanted to read for a while. Ever since I heard of the general bases of this, I wanted to read this. I mean, a mysterious man (who appears as if by magic. A bit like the shop keeper from Mr Benn! Anyone remember that?) who solves crimes. Sold! But I didn’t know when I was going to read this. Plus, I wasn’t sure if this was best place to start with reading Agatha Christie. 

Then I went “Sod it!”, requested it at my library (this was at the height of my last reading slump and real life drama of buying a house, trying to get a handle on work and general “Am I good enough to continue book blogging? Or should I quit?” - you know, the good stuff in life) and, before I had time to get myself ready, my library said “We got it and the other two books you requested for you!” (the other two books were Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs and Want to Play? by PJ Tracy [and why I haven’t read them will be made clear in the coming paragraphs]) so I decided to read this. 

The Mysterious Mr Quin is a collection of twelve short stories that follow Mr Satterthwaite as he gets himself involved in mysteries - some from the past, some present - and his mysterious acquaintance, Mr Quin, who seems to be the catalyst for the truth to come to light… 

Sunday, 5 August 2018

I'm Back (Again)

Well… that blog break throughout most/all of July kinda came out of nowhere, didn’t it? 

What happened? What called this blog break, I hear none of you ask. 

It was a mix of things, truth be told. 

As you lovely readers know if you follow me on Twitter for the past few months, I seem to be having a lot of reading slumps recently and I’m not 100% sure why. I’m reading pretty much what I always read, but it feels like recently these types of reads are are feeling a bit predictable. Not the stories fault, but because am reading some much of the same thing in a short space of time, am hitting a wall. Because of this, I had to take a step back from reading these types of books in the timeframe I usually give myself to read (another reason why I keep having reading slumps recently - am putting too much pressure on self to read books within a certain timeframe and that’s not gonna work, Andrew. You should know better). 

Monday, 9 July 2018

#OrionBloggerBrunch 2018

So, Saturday was fun. Not only was the England game against Sweden of the World Cup 2018 gripping the nation nor that London Pride was happening (one year, I will go to this!) nor did the UK seemed to be gripped by the fiery thing in the sky (I loathe Summer. Heat, hayfever, lack of sleep, do you really want me to go on? but I was invited to a book blogger event! 

It’s feels like years since I’ve been to a book blogger event (was it the the beginning of this year my last? I miss being with my people!) 

Anyway, after since I had moved house the previous week and managed to get a Saturday off work (sadly meaning I have to do a six-day week the following week…), I decided to go. And wow, I forgot what London was like in summer. Plus, with Pride happening, I kept seeing sickeningly attractive people around… 

I wasn’t staring! 

Anyway, onto the books. Once at the event, there was drink, Pride cupcakes, pizza at the halfway point and books! Delicious and wonderful books. And after Orion chatted some titles (I am going to talk about a handful that sound delicious [to me and I wanna read] and I totally want to read! Stay with me, folks!), two lovely authors chatted about that it was like to write the dreaded Second Novel - Catriona Ward and Ed McDonald (just so you know as I didn’t till they talked about to Catriona wrote Rawblood and her second novel is Little Eve while Ed wrote Blackwing and its sequel, Ravencry. Now I need to go forth and read them as these 4 books sound dark, twisted and I love dark ’n’ twisted! I will touch on both their novels in a tick). After that, quick pizza break (aka snoop into the free books - we bloggers are vultures. But I had to go to the bathroom so I didn’t get my hands on any, till the lovely Sarah from FeelingFictional gave me her copy of Little Eve by Catriona Ward, saying that this sounds more up my street than hers - “It’s more crime and dark and much more twisted than what I’m used to”, and the author very kindly signed for me. Thanks Sarah! After that, Orion talked about two titles that won’t be published till early 2019, both of which sound good. 

Ok, enough of this. We know why we’re here: the pretty books that caught my eye. So, where should we begin…?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Garage Band Blog Tour Alert!


BLOG TOUR STOP TIME!!! And I am quite excited to welcome Adam Alexander to the Pewter Wolf!

Adam is the author of Garage Band, and it's a little outside my comfort zone (hence why I was super excited to be on board with this tour! I like pushing myself into trying new things). Garage Band follows Lanthus who, after 17 years of working at Eastland Insurance, has been let go for "young, fresh minds". Angry and betrayed, Lanthus wants his boss - no, the entire company - to feel his rage. He decides that he wants to take down the entire company - but one man can't do it alone. And as he begins to put together his team, things start going awry. The Police are closing in, someone else wants a piece of the action and Lanthus is beginning to wonder if he can keep it together long enough to pull his plan off...?

See... not my typical read, huh?

Anyway, before I hand it over to Adam, who wrote the guest post, I just want to thank him for taking time out to write this - I know how busy you must be, so thank you! And thank you for Faye for asking if I wanted to be on this blog tour!

Oh, if you want to say hi to Adam, you can go to his website at adam-alexander-author.com/ or pop over to his Twitter at @AdamAlexAuthor! Now, onto the Adam chatting about Lanthus!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Who's Potterless About Potter?

I have a random surprise for you!

Ok, back storytime! A week or so ago, I was at work, playing around with their Spotify, trying to figure out if I wanted to listen to music or podcasts as I didn't want to listen to one of my many audiobooks (oh, the joys of being a book blogger in a reading slump), when I randomly came across a image that catch my eye. This is the image you are probably seeing now. I clicked on it, read the first few lines of the write up - excuse the paraphrasing but it was "Twenty-something reads Harry Potter for the first time and podcasts about it". And you know, I am a bit of a Potterhead so dived straight in.

I cackled and went "Just you wait till book 5...!" at it and, on impulse, I tweeted the show, saying I discovered it, and was enjoying myself hugely. I, then, tweeted cheekily "Do you want to do something on my tiny pathetic blog?". And the show went yes. ... ah. So, next few days were a whirlwind of packing, thinking of questions, trying to listen to this and other podcasts (I went on an "Discover New Podcasts" Binge and I discovered some good'un. Might do blog post about them in the future if I want - you know, to share the love!) and here we are! I was going to post this next week sometime, but I wanna share this!

So, Potterless is a podcast where we follow Mike, a twenty-six year old man reading the Harry Potter series. Come as we see him sip the tea over plot holes, rant over Quidditch, and puts a fun, funny twist on the whole Harry Potter experience. I am thrilled that Mike agree to come on the Pewter Wolf so for that, I thank him hugely!

Now, before I hand it over to Q&A, the boring stuff. If you want to listen to Potterless, check out potterlesspodcast.com or jump over to Twitter and Instagram (both can be found at potterlesspodcast.com/social-media). Or, if you want to say hi to Mike, check out his Twitter at @Schubes17! And oh, heads-up, there is adult language in the podcast so you have been warned! And now, as they say in the wizard world, WIZARD ON!



Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Ruth Estevez Chats Jiddy Vardy

It's that time again! I have a guest blog post for you and I am thrilled to welcome Ruth Estevez onto the Pewter Wolf!

Ruth is the author of Jiddy Vardy, a historical novel that follows a young woman, Jiddy Vardy, as she tries to find out who she is and begins to fall in love, all the while growing up in a seaside community that is hiding one big secret. A secret that could easily get you killed...

I don't want to go any further in depth over this as I don't want to give away spoilers.

As you guys know, I'm not much of a historical reader, but I wanted to try and read outside my comfort zone more. So, when Emily from Zuntold Publishing/Corker Communications emailed, I jumped at the chance to try something new! Plus, I was intrigued what Ruth would write as a guest post!

And now, I get to share with you guys! But, before I do, I just want to thank Ruth for finding time to write this guest post! And thank you to Emily for asking if I wanted to be involved!

Also, if you want to check Ruth out, you can pop over to her website - artgoesglobal.wordpress.com - or say hi to her on twitter at @RuthEstevez2. Now, with all that out of the way, over to Ruth!

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

I Never Lie... Right?


Today, I want to welcome Jody Sabral onto the Pewter Wolf!

Jody is the author on new adult psychological thriller, I Never Lie, which follows TV journalist Alex South. Her career is hanging on by a thread since her on air drunken rant and now she has to prove that she's ok, even though her drinking is spiralling out of control. When a series of murders happens near her East London home, Alex believes this is the chance to prove herself. But she starts having gaping holes in her memory and wakes up finding out she's done things she can't recall. As Alex loses her grip on her drinking and the story she's following begins to creep into her life, she has to wonder if she's in danger. Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit...?

Tense, huh?

Anyway, before I hand it over to Jody, I just wanted to thank her for finding the time in her super busy schedule (she works as Foreign Desk Editor and Video Producer at the BBC [!]) to write this! Do you sleep?! Also, quick thank you to Ellie at Canelo for asking if I wanted to be involved in this tour!

If you want to say hi to Jody on Twitter, pop over to @jsabral and tweet away!

Now, over to you, Jody! (Note: Sorry for the shortness of my blog post. Will explain in the next few weeks! But real life is getting busy!)

Friday, 22 June 2018

#re3 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

As you guys know, I have been feeling in a bit of a reading slump - which is weird when you look at the blog posts that have been going over the past few weeks. Still talking and reviewing stories in book/ebook/audiobook form. But it has been a weird few weeks as I have been feeling a tad ... it's hard to explain. I have wrote a blog post (which will never see the light of day - not yet, maybe never), where I tried to figure it out and while I'm still in that blogger/reader mindset, real life has thrown a huge "life-changing" thing at me (not bad, FYI. Is good. Very good. But not gonna say anything for another few weeks), so my reading and blogging is going to be a bit erratic for a while. I might even do a small blog break randomly till things calm down.

Now with that public announcement out there (if anything changes, I will let you know via Twitter), let's reread Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Ok, back story. Because of reading slump, I decided I wanted to do a few rereads. A bit overwhelmed where to start, I did a poll of twitter, asking what series to go towards: Harry Potter, Twilight Saga, The Old Kingdom, or Hunger Games/Artemis Fowl (I wanted 4 opinions here the merging of these two series). Just the series, not the book. And, of course, you chose Potter. So, decided to do another flash poll of Twitter on which Potter book to read: Chamber, Prisoner, Goblet or Order (no to Philosopher as this is my usual fail-safe for reading slumps. Plus, I thought you would say Goblet or Chamber for some reason). But, of course, you chose Prisoner. Which I am grateful for as I have this on several forms (book and audiobook - Chamber would have been a tad tricky as I don't have this on  audiobook - I had on CD but not audible...), so I could jump back and forth between the two styles of storytelling while at work and home.

I have actually gone back to my previous #re3 of Prisoner of Azkaban back in my Harry Potter #re3 Challenge (if you want to check out my rereading of Harry Potter in 2015, ta-dah!) to see if I agreed of disagree with myself and, for the most part, I do. I still think Snape is a bad person - a bully, hypocrite, bitter, an abuser ever (I am willing to go that far). And yet, the fandom sees him as flawed.... I need to sit down and do a blogpost about Snape in the future as OH, I have thoughts and opinions on this and I really, REALLY want to vent.

What does surprise me is my thoughts of Lupin? Now, I love Lupin. He's a flawed human who is kind and a decent human, but makes mistakes and suffers terribly. He says and does things that, when other characters say them seem underhanded and a tad cruel, he says it in a way where Harry and us go "He's right". Though, on this reread, he doesn't seem as fleshed out as I remember him behind. Same with Sirius and Pettigrew, but these two have very little screen time compared to Lupin. I still love Lupin, but, as this is a children's book and Lupin is a teacher, we don't see him as a human being. We see him as a teacher. Harry (and us) see a more fleshed-out, rounded character at the end of the book and in the upcoming books, which now I might have to read.

What's so interesting to read this time round is the tiny little clues with the future and how this mirrors Order of the Phoenix. Most fans believe in the "Ring Theory" - where each book reflects a later book (Philosopher's reflect Deathly Hallows, Chamber reflects Prince, Prisoner reflects Order and Goblet stands alone because it's the turning point in the series). Harry "officially" mets the Minister of Magic in Prisoner and it's on friendly terms whereas in Order, the terms have become dangerous frosty. We met Sirius in Prisoner and we say goodbye to him in Order. We're told Trelawney has made a second correct prophecy in Prisoner and in Order, we find out her first and we have to deal with prophecies as a whole. We talk about Harry's dad (Harry hero-worships, up to a point) and Snape's hatred for him in Prisoner and in Order, we see why Snape disliked James so much and the rose-tainted glasses come off Harry when he thinks about his father. He's just a human who made mistakes and is hugely flawed. Yes, Prisoner and Order are very much Harry's books about his father...

I adore Hermione in this and am still hissy over Ron and Harry's treatment of her in the book. I get why, but still...

Also, what surprised me was there were one or two occasions, I paused the audiobook and didn't return to it for a while due to a knot in stomach over what was about to happen next. This happened a lot in the chapters Talons and Tea Leaves but it happened once or twice with other chapters - I believe it was Grim Defeat - and there were times I had to stop audiobook as I wanted to read the next section (in some cases, this was great idea. In one, not so sure as I sped-read!).

But I really enjoyed returning to rereading Harry Potter and I should reread this series (and other books) in general. So, this might be something I do more often in the coming few months. You have been warned.

PS - I now own the illustrated version of Prisoner of Azkaban (the only illustrated I own... I plan to get Goblet and, possibly, Order as well) and i jumped a few times to see what Jim Kay drew in where I was reading. Some I went "YES!" and others I went "...what?". But it's a beautiful edition and I plan to pour over my copy soon... ish...

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.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

eBook Review - Shelter from the Storm

I have far too many eProofs on my kindle. And I'm trying, slowly and surely, to go through them - whether that is reading them or going "What was I thinking?!". So, when I saw this on NetGalley a month or so, I went "Oooh" over it. This is an novella and is both LGBT and fantasy. All perfect for me at the moment.

Grif is tired. So, when he walks into the mountains in a snow storm, he isn't worried about surviving or not. But when he's indifference leaves him unconscious, Kieran finds him and nurses him back to health. Kieran is on an important mission and he doesn't need Grif, telling him he's not prepared for the winter mountains. But the two men are stuck together, with food being scarce and the weather not to be trusted. The two have to learn to depend on each other. But could this lead to something more...?

This is a sorbet read for me. It refresh my reading pallet for me as I've been quite lucky with what I've read and listened to over the past few weeks.

The story itself was ok. It moved at a good pace, the characters were engaging and it held my interest while reading. Plus, it is an adult reading so it does have language and scenes that are more suitable for an adult audience.

However, it didn't set my world on fire. The plot is basically the entire synopsis and once every chapter, I would groan over something. Plus, the story is meant to be a fantasy, but it is so thin, am surprise this is classed as a fantasy and not historical.

It was a sorbet of a read for me, but I think other people will enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Books And Their Theme Songs - March, April and May 2018

I actually liking doing this, though with my change of real-life situation over the past 6 or so months means I read a little less than I normally do, which means I listen to less music than normal. But, am not going to give this up yet, as I keep seeming to discover new artists and songs of late and they just click with what I'm reading.

So, do you listen to music while you read? If so, what? Am super intrigued! And I hope you like these song choices to what I read over the past few months...

SQUARED UP by Annabeth Albert
"I Hate Love Songs" by Kelsea Ballerini, "Thousand Miles" by Tove Lo and "The Fighter" by Keith Urban (featuring Carrie Underwood)


LORD OF SHADOWS by Cassandra Clare
"I Can't Make Me" by Butterfly Boucher


LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT by Becky Ablertalli
"Stop Me From Falling" by Kylie Minogue

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Audiobook Review - Mythos

I think we all have a soft spot for Greek mythology. I do. I love myths in general and, if I wasn't scared of debts and everything else that comes with going to university, I think I would've loved to study myths (which would have been Classics, I think) or English. But I never went, but that's getting away from the point.

A few weeks back, I got a few credits on my Audible and asked what audiobooks I should listen to. I had a vague idea of one of the titles I wanted to do (Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, though Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz did call to me as well) but I wanted something different. I wanted to try something new and something I would be a little afraid to try. The lovely Virginie at Chouett tweeted me and said she was nearly finished audiobooking Mythos and was hugely enjoying herself and thought I might like. A few days later, she sent me a copy of the audiobook via audible, which was a lovely surprise. Plus, neither she nor I lost a credit over it (it's a one off thing Audible do, according to my research so am planning to return the favour with a surprise audiobook choice of my own... be afraid, Virginie. Be very afraid.)

Mythos is Stephen Fry's attempt to retell some Greek myths. From the dawn of creation, the war between the Titans and the Olympians, the creation of mankind through to the myths told within the Gold and Silver Ages of Greece.

There's not much else to say about what the book is about as it's just that: Stephen Fry retelling some Greek myths. And guess what: I adore this. So much so, I am very tempted to buy the hardback edition of this to use for research or when the mood takes me to reread/relearn the myths. I didn't know them all, so there was always a new myth to discover and me to go "Oh!" over.

I devoured this audiobook and Stephen is a wonderful narrator. I love him reading Harry Potter and it carried over. Plus, when the author reads their own work, there's something more special about it. They get the rhythm of the story and the humour, and Stephen does add a lot of humour to the myths he decides to retell.

He admits from the start that he tries to put the myths in an order to make it easier for himself and the reader to understand, and this does help with him doing this.

There are two faults with this, and they aren't really Stephen's fault. The first is the names. There are so many of them. There are gods, titans, demi-gods, nymphs, furies, humans, and that's to name a few. It can be overwhelming if you're not on the ball. I might have to do a relisten myself to get them straight in my own head.

The second is length. Like I said before, Stephen tackles the gods and their lengths and he tackles the myths told from the beginning to creation all the way through the Golden and Silver Ages. He goes into a little more depth with the myths he tackles. But, because of this, ee doesn't touch the three other stages in Geek myths - Bronze, Heroic and Iron - so he doesn't tackle Hercules, Jason, Troy and other myths we're probably more aware of. But this gives me a small hope that maybe, just maybe, that Stephen will do a sequel and tackle these ages.

I adore this and I do hope Stephen does do another book about Greek myths. If not, I will probably go on the prowl for other books that tackle myths (hopefully Egyptian as I am fascinated with Egyptian gods, but open to read Roman, Native American, Indigenous Australians - in fact, will happily read any myths and legends. Recommend to me, dear readers!). My copy of Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology is getting me the eye - should I be worried?

PS - Zeus. Mate, could you not stay faithfully? I mean... either see a sex therapist to talk about your sex addiction or let Hera leave you...