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...

Monday, 21 May 2018

Death Is Not Enough Contest

I have a contest for you guys! And it's not YA. I know! But I want to try new things with my reading and, as you guys know, I like dipping in and out of crime and this author keeps catching my eye so, as soon as I saw this on BookBridgr, I knew it was time!

Death Is Not Enough is the sixth book in the Baltimore series (but I've been told you can read these as standalones) and this sounds like a neck-breaker of a read!

Defence attorney Thomas Thorne knows violence all his life. He has overcome these with determination and is ready to left his guard down and finally let the woman he always admire from afar into his life.

But his world is torn apart when he is four in his own bed with a lifeless body of a stranger lying next to him, her blood all over his hands. But his friend, Gwyn Weaver, knows Thorne could never commit such a terrible crime. So she and his friends rally round to clear his name, but someone has a deadly vendetta and they're not going to stop till they've destroy Thorne...

This sounds dark and Mctwisty as heck. Perfect for me! I can't wait to find time to dive into this novel. But, to wet my appetite, the lovely people at Headline are allowing me to do a small contest to give away a copy of Death Is Not Enough.

Ok, boring stuff now. I have only one copy to give away and this contest is a UK and Ireland only contest. This contest will close at 3pm this coming Sunday (Sunday 27th May 2018). The winner will be chosen at random via random.org. I will tweet and email the winner to get their address so the publisher can send the winner their copy of Death Is Not Enough.

If you're going to enter, I wish you good luck and hope that the odds are in your favour!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Audiobook Review - Uprooted

I've been aware of this book for a while, but it took me a while before I went "Ok, I want to listen to this" I'm not sure why I decided to listen to the audiobook version over reading the book, but I thought this might be a good way to get into this as, after listening to all Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy, I feel that audiobooking adult fantasy is the way to go...

Agnieszka loves her valley. She loves her beautiful friend, Kasia, and she's bracing herself, for it's nearly time for the Choosing. The Choosing, where the Dragon comes and takes a girl to his tower for ten years.  It's his exchange for keeping the Wood and it's corruption. And everyone in the village knows that it's Kasia who the Dragon is going to choose - she's beautiful, clever, ready to go and have an adventure.

But when he comes to the village, it's not Kasia he chooses... it's Agnieszka.

On the surface, this book sounds like it's a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast (which is my jam!), but set within a Polish or Russian fairytale, which sounds intriguing or I should read more outside UK/USA versions. But this story... For me, it's very much a story of two halves. The first half wasn't to my taste while the second half was more up my street. And I know why, and I will explain a little further down.

No, let's get into that now.

This story's pacing was the biggest problem I have. I have read and listened and watched other people's reactions to this book, and am surprised over the fact they all say the pacing was relentless. Because I don't feel that way. The first half of this audiobook was, to me, slow and a bit of a slog to go through. I get why as this half to place over a long period of times - months, maybe years. And I get why - we need world building in place, we need to understand the basic of magic (it's vague, and it works for this fairy-tale feel that this story has), events happen which are solved a chapter or two later, and we need to get understand Agnieszka's skin. But it dragged for me - I don't mind if a story is set over a long period of time, but I need something to keep me interested. I need something to keep pulling me back, and there were several points when I did consider quitting this audiobook. Around the halfway point, something happened and, though I still struggled, I liked the direction the story began to take and the promise of "This is getting better" kept me coming back. Plus, the second half of the book, took place over a much shorter time frame - a fortnight, maybe a month? - and I just prefer a faster pace.

Another problem I had was the romance. This book has romance in it, but it's more a background thing. But, I didn't see it. I kept questioning the romance. I wondered "why?" over it. Why does Agnieszka like the Dragon? When it did start for both of them? Is it because of their magic? Is it because of Stockholm Syndrome? Are we meant to like the Dragon, because he's a mean, cruel, jack***? Are we being led down the garden path with Angieszka and the Dragon, when the romance is actually Angieszka and Kasia (even though I don't want that as I really like this strong female friendship)? I kept questioning it and I didn't believe it.

I think my problem overall is there was potential and it just fell short for me. It was a bit wishy-washy. But, I did enjoy the latter half of the book - I like the pacing, I liked the action, I liked the magic and this latter half is the reason I am thinking of reading the companion novel, Spinning Silver, which is set in this world but not with these characters. Plus, it's a reimagining of Rumplestiltskin, which I have never read so this is going to be intriguing.

But Uprooted is a very mixed bag for me. It missed the bullseye for me in the first half, but on the money in latter half, but as I hate DNFing audiobooks, I wonder if I would have kept going if I was reading this...

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Book Review - Lord of Shadows

Oh, Cassandra Clare. Every time I think I am through with you and the Shadowhunter world, I somehow get sucked back in. Now, I read the eNovella, Son of the Dawn, while I was on holiday in Cyprus (write-up for that is here), but I did wonder whether I was done with the world or not. Lord of Shadows was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster, so I knew I was going to read this. I just wasn't sure when or if I wanted to. It's a beast of a book and anything longer than 500 pages makes me nervous.

But after my holiday in Cyprus, I wasn't sure what to read. I felt a bit in a weird reading funk and I want to keep my fun reading groove going. So, I grabbed a bunch of books off my TBR shelves and went to my Other Half, saying "Pick one". After skimming a few blurbs, he chose Lord of Shadows because it sounded my kind of weird.

After the events of Lady Midnight, Emma, her parabatai Julian and the other Blackthorns feel the betrayal of their once close friend. But that's not all they're worried about. Emma discovered a horrible truth about why parabatai should never fall in love with each other: they will be cursed. To protect Julian, she starts "dating" Julian's brother, Mark...

But even that might not be enough when it becomes clear that enemies are on all sides. The Unseelie King - the Lord of Shadows - want the Black Volume of the Dead. With this, he plans to break the Cold Peace and rule over both the Unseelie and Seelie Courts.

And with rising tensions between Shadowhunters and Downworlders, comes a extremist brand of Shadowhunters called the Cohort, who want to register all Downworlders and "unsuitable" Nephilim, now is a dark time. But the Blackthorns are desperate and when Julian decides to depend on a unpredictable enemy, the repercussions are beyond anything they can imagine...

I am going to say this right off the bat: I am still in two minds about this trilogy. It doesn't grab me the same way the first Mortal Instruments books and Infernal Devices trilogy did. There is something that doesn't click with me. Maybe if I read the latter Mortal Instruments books, I would be sucked in but I don't feel that need to read City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls or City of Heavenly Fire.

I've said this before and I will say this again, Cassandra Clare is awesome with diversity. Like I said in my Lady Midnight write-up, she has diversity left and right and it feels nature. It doesn't feel shoehorned in. And it grows with this book. We have a character who is on the autism spectrum, a character who is suffering mental health issue, a underage carer, Mexican characters, characters who cover the LGBT spectrum and it's glorious! It's wonderful to read this and it not feel like the author is ticking each of the diversity and representation boxes. This is one of this trilogy's strongest qualities.

This book does grow in character development and exploring the Shadowhunter world and that pushes this story arc forward nicely. I'm intrigued to see where this trilogy goes in this respect, hopefully it will show us the Shadowhunter world outside of the US and the UK. I wanna know what Shadowhunters in China or Australia are like...

I do have a few nitpicks with why I wasn't as blown away compared to other readers. Like I said before, I'm still not sure how I feel about this trilogy as a whole. I'm not sure why I'm holding back from being invested in this trilogy compared to other Shadowhunter books I've read. This is a me thing, not a book thing. Plus, the appearances of characters from other Shadowhunter books - Yes, this is going to be a hugely unpopular opinion - but I am done with these characters. To me, these characters's stories are done within their respected series, so while nice to see them pop up, it's kinda distracting me from liking the main characters from this trilogy...

But one of my biggest issues with this book is this book's length. It's under 700 pages long, and there was a good 100-150 pages in the middle where I really struggled with. I was dragging my feet through these pages and, though I really enjoy reading some of the characters, I did wonder if it was worth me continuing this book if I was struggling this badly. This just felt too long and with the final book in the trilogy, Queen of Air and Darkness, rumoured to be even longer (720-ish pages according to Amazon.co.uk), I am worried that I am going to hugely struggle to read and finish this trilogy. Hell, I'm wondering if I should read the next book if it's going to be that long and if it's going to be real slog to read...

I am in two minds about this. There are chapters and characters that I do like (the ending pulled the rug from under me) and I am intrigued to see how Cassandra Clare wraps everything up, I am worried about the book's length and whether my enjoyment will carry all the way through. We will have to wait and see...

Monday, 14 May 2018

Lucky Break

Give a warm Pewter Wolf welcome to author (and pilot!) Rob Stevens. His latest book has just been released and it sounds like one that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

Leon's twin, Lenny, had the coolest imagination. The best. But Lenny died a year ago and Leon and his family haven't been the same since.

So when Leon meets Arnold at school, Leon's not sure what to make of the new boy: he doesn't understand jokes or gets sarcasm and can be completely blunt. But the two make an unlikely friendship and before long, the pair keep finding themselves in trouble. And within the trouble the two cause, is Arnold helping Leon comes to terms with Lenny's death and move forward with his life?

This sounds like one of the those books I could probably read super fast and go "Oh, it's tackled this and this and I like how he did that!", hence why I jumped at the chance to have Rob on the blog when Harriet at Andersen Press asked me.

Now, because Rob is a hugely busy pilot (he might be in the air, flying a plane RIGHT NOW! Now, as you're reading my tiny little post!), he wrote this for me. A small list of authors that write humour brilliant (writing comedy is hard because humour is so subjective, depending on the person listening/reading the joke!), but hopefully, you will read this list and check out these authors!

Anyway, before I go, wanna say thank you to Rob for writing this blog post, even though I know he's super busy and thank you to Harriet at Andersen for asking me if I wanted to be involved. Thank you!

Now, over to Rob and his fave funny authors!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

I Was Born For This Blog Tour Music Alert!

As you guys know, I love listening to music while I read. Sometimes, that perfect song comes along that just click with the book in one form or other: the story, the characters (or one in particular). 

So, when I was asked if I wanted to be involved in the I Was Born For This blog tour, I jumped at the chance. Books and music! And I am a little obsessed with Alice's Heartstopper (if you haven't read it, YOU MUST). I mean, HOW COULD I REFUSE?! 

I don't want to say too much about I Was Born for This as I am playing to read this book sometime this month and I want to go in as blind as I can, but it has music, fandom, friendship and facing up to reality. 

And, to celebrate this book release, there's a blog tour where Alice picks a song that has a connection to I Was Born to This and we bloggers have to pick a song that links to reading, fandom or this book. I've gone with fandom and reading (why not). So, Alice's song choice is first and mine second... 

Before I throw you over to Alice, I wanna thank Alice for doing this and letting us snoop into her music (she's even created a Spotify playlist so, if you just can't wait, CHECK THIS OUT!!!) and Nina for organising this tour! It's been a blast to follow and discover new music and some old music I forgotten about. Now, onto the good stuff!



Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Kim Culbertson Talks Summer Reads

I am excited to have Kim Culbertson on The Pewter Wolf today! Kim is the author of The Wonder of Us, a summery read that I think some of you guys will devour by the pool or on the beach with a cocktail in your hand.

The Wonder of Us follow two friends - Riya and Abby - two best friends who been friends ship preschool. But when Riya and her family move to Germany and Abby stays in California, their friendship comes under strain so when Riya proposes a two week, six country adventure to save their friendship, they both jump at it.

But they haven't spoken to each other in weeks and both girls are keep secrets. Can this holiday really save their friendship or does growing up really mean growing apart?

It feels like a fun read, and because it feels very summery, when Kirsten from Walker asked if I wanted to do something on the blog, I jumped out it. I need a bit more fun on this blog, me thinks.

And what I got back from Kirsten is this yummy post from Kim, chatting about summer reads, which I think some of you guys will love! So, before I hand it over to Kim, two small things. First, thank you Kim for writing this post - I know you must be busy but thank you! And thank you Kirsten for emailing me and me going "Did I email you about this? My memory is ruined!"

And if you want to find Kim online, check her at kimculbertson.com or on Twitter at @kculberston. Now, over to Kim to talk her summer reads!


Monday, 7 May 2018

How Politics Changed Night of the Party


Why, hello y'all! Welcome to the first stop in the Night of the Party blog tour! Yes, I am kicking this tour off - not sure if this was a smart idea from Scholastic or not, but let's getting this party started!

... don't give me that look! I had to put a terrible pun in this post, somewhere!

Anyway, Night of the Party is a post-Brexit thriller, where we follow Zara. Zara who is dating Ash. Zara who is keeping secrets from Ash. She's the only person who knows what happened the night her friend, Sophie, died. But she can't tell anyone, because she's an Illegal - she and her family were born outside the UK and if the Government, ruled by The Party, find out, she and her family will be arrested on the spot and deported, and failing to report an Illegal is a crime in itself.

But she can't tell Ash either, as Ash is Sophie's brother, putting Zara in an impossible situation. Tell him and risk her and her family's lives, or stay quiet and risk the secret being exposed down the line. As the country is gearing up for an election, Zara must make a choice... Speak or stay silent...

Doesn't it sound messed-up? RIGHT UP MY STREET! I can't WAIT to sink my teeth into this book!

To kickstart the tour, Tracey Mathias has kindly written a tiny piece about how Night of the Party changed over the course of two years as she wrote it due to the UK politics!

But before I hand you over to Tracey, I just want to thank Tracey for finding time to write this - it's really interesting to read this! - and for Rachel at Scholastic who asked if I wanted to be involved in this tour! If you want to check Tracey's online home, go to either traceymathias.wordpress.com or @traceymathias.

Now, with that out of the way, over to Tracey!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

eBook Review - The Cruel Prince

I read this on the last few days of my Cyprus holiday, on my plane ride back and the day after. Yes, this was read in April and we are now in May but I pushed this back a few weeks (though if you look at my Goodreads and NetGalley, I have put the review up) because I didn't want to overwhelm you guys with reviews/write-ups and I don't like posting things up on the weekend (I know, I am weird book blogger) so it's now here, in May. 

And before I go any further, I'm not much of a fairy fan. I don't mind reading them - I read Cassandra Clare and her books have fairies in them, have read the first two books in Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series many years ago (here are the reviews for Iron King and Iron Daughter) and a year or two back, I did read Holly Black's Darkest Part of the Forest, which was ok - I can't honest remember much from it barring it having a dark fairy tale quality to it and having an gay romance at its twisted heart, which I liked. 

But everyone has been excited and raving over Cruel Prince! Even I got catch up with the buzz and requested an eProof of this, but due to my fantasy reading slump, I haven't gone near it. But, before I went on holiday to Cyprus, I was chatting to Olivia from That Fiction Life on instagram about Taken Moon candles and Cruel Prince was mentioned. When I was on holiday, and was finishing Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, I wondered what to read next when, out of nowhere, my brain started chanting "Cruel Prince!

So, I read it. And here we go! 

Cruel Prince is the first book in a new series set in the world of the Fey, which sits close to ours but not quite. In it, we follow Jude who, at the age of seven, saw a fairy kill both her parents and steal her, and her two sisters into the High Court of Faerie. They are now teenagers and Jude wants to fit in desperate. Shame the fey won't let her forget her mortality and the worse is Prince Cardan. But to win a place in Court, Jude has to defy him and her "father" and face the consequences...

But Court is full of backstabbing and political twistings of truth (fairies can not lie, but they are experts in telling the truth that reveals everything and nothing), and Jude will have to do unthinkable things to protect her sisters and Faerie. 

Where do I start with this? This book is crazy. I kinda expected this as I was reading a fairy book and in most books that contain fairies, they are dark and tricksters. But these fairies are violent and terrifying at times, while hugely political and the twists/betrayals kept the book moving fast and I never felt settled on anything the characters said or did. 

The characters themselves are intriguing. The fairies, like I said, are dark, blood-thirsty and manipulative. But so are the humans. Jude, our main character who's telling the story, is hugely flawed and manipulative herself. She's more of an anti-hero than I expected (no one warned me out that!), but she is so flawed and damaged that she does things then changes her mind with no real thought, she made reading this novel unpredictable and in an unpredictable world of the fey, this makes this a gripping, terrifying and compelling read. 

Most twists, I saw or suspected coming, but there was a few near the end that made my jaw drop and I have to give Holly Black a huge applaud as I was so blindsided by them, I knew I had to read the sequel, The Wicked King, just to see how on earth the characters were going to recover from them! 

Most things worked for me and made me click through my kindle over a course of four/five days. However, there were one or two things that did grate on me slightly. 

The first was names. For the first 15-20%, I found it really hard to connect with the characters. It was because it was dark and I had to find my "in" with Jude, but the main thing was the names. There are so many names to get in your head and to keep straight in your head. I imagine the Court to be small so everyone knows everyone, but it took a good while for the names to sink in my head and them to stick. Once they did, I was flying! 

The second was the romance. Yes, there is a bit of romance in here. And it's hard to describe how I feel about them. One made me go "Yuck" over it and the second was so complicated that I am weirdly intrigued to see what Holly is going to do with the characters. It can go one of two or three ways. None of them are good. 

But even with the flaws that Cruel Prince have, I couldn't put this down and I know that I will be desperate to read Wicked King when it comes out at the beginning of next year (so I might need to reread Cruel Prince before the year is out - just to keep it fresh in my head)

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

eBook Review - Son Of The Dawn

A mini-review of sorts from when I was on holiday in Cyprus (yes, am still on that! I don't want to overwhelm you with write-ups this month. Next month might be a different thing but am easing you in!). This came as a surprise from the lovely John from Walker. A few months back at the #WalkerYA Blogger Event (write-up here if you missed it), Walker announced that they will be publishing the Ghosts of The Shadow Market, an anthology set in Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters world. I remember going "Oooh" over this and didn't think anything much from it till just before my Cyprus holiday when John emailed, asking if I wanted to read this. I went yes and, when I was on holiday, I got a iBook code for this and, once I got myself on wifi, I download this and read this as quickly as I could.

Quick background dump. This will be published in the same way as The Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy. A novella will be published in ebook form, once a month. All the novellas, plus two unpublished novellas will be published in one collection, sometime in 2019. And, like before, Cassandra Clare is co-writing this with a mix of authors: Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman and Kelly Link. And with connections to all of Shadowhunter series - Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices, Dark Artifices and Last Hours, though the series follows Brother Zachariah throughout the years as he visits the Shadow Markets round the world, trying to find a mystery item...

The first novella in this collection is Son of the Dawn. Set several years prior to the events of The Mortal Instruments, the Lightwoods of the New York Institute is expecting a new member to join their family: Jace Wayland. But when Silent Brother, Brother Zachariah, is in the Shadow Market, he meets vampire Raphael, he hears something that throws ghosts from the past into the danger of the present...

I like the Shadowhunter world. I'm not as up to date with the world compared to other Shadowhunter fans (I haven't read the latter three Mortal Instruments books [out of fear/me thinking those characters's stories are done for me] nor have I read Lord of Shadows. Not yet but hopefully will read before Queen of Air and Darkness is published at the end of the year), and this was a nice story to read. I read it in two sittings (the first before I went to bed and the second when I woke up the following morning). It felt like returning to an old friend. Fans for Jem, Jace, Alec and Isabelle will enjoy this nugget of what their lives was like the years before City of Bones.

The little jem that I enjoyed hugely was the bonus material, Not for Humans, written by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. It's only a few page longs and set a few days prior to City of Bones but I devoured this and just wanted more. If this is what Holly and Cassandra writing together is like, I need to get my rear in gear and read their co-author series, Magisterium.

But I had a niggle with this. Maybe it's me, but as I was reading this, I couldn't get away from the feeling that this didn't feel like Cassandra Clare writing, but this was Sarah Rees Brennan. I understand this is a co-authored story, but it feels a bit like Cursed Child in a sense where these are the characters created by the main author, yet someone else is using them and it feels off. I think I have this problem in the past when Sarah Rees Brennan co-writing a Shadowhunter novella. I think it's her writing and I don't click with it. It's not her problem, it's mine.

For fans of the Shadowhunter world, you will enjoy this. And I hope to read the next novella in the series, Cast Long Shadows, when that comes out next month...

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Dear Martin

Dear Martin,

Hell, this isn't weird or intimidating. Nope. Not at all! [insert nervous laughter here]

Ok, let me explain why I'm writing to you. I was asked by the lovely Eve at Simon and Schuster a few weeks back if I wanted to be involved in a blog tour for a book called Dear Martin, written by Nic Stone. It felt like a sign when I got the email as it was the fifty anniversary of your death (sorry to be morbid while writing to you) and, in the book, the main character writes letters to you after he is arrested by an off-duty white police officer and, after the event, something happens involving another white police officer, and we see how the main character copes with everything that happens.

Which means I should write about the Black Lives Matter movement. Or gun control in the US. Brexit. The current US President. How we're killing the planet. Issues within the LGBT+ community. Why we want superheroes in our lives, now more than ever. The environment. I could research your life and your legacy as well as other inspiring people. I could write to you. about anything. Anything.

So, why is it so hard to do so?

*deep breath*

Ok, there's a show I used to watch - I still dip in and out of it from time to time. Grey's Anatomy. Anyway, there's a line in one of the early seasons that I keep thinking about every now and again. Maybe because I'm a dark person, maybe because I like how true this sentence is, or maybe because I'm so jaded with the grown-up world around me. The quote goes like this:

"We all remember the bedtime stories of our childhood. The shoe fits Cinderella, the frog turns into prince, Sleeping Beauty is awakened by a kiss. Once upon a time, and then they lived happily ever after. Fairy tales, the stuff of dreams. The problem is, fairy tales don't come true. It's the other stories. The ones that begin with dark and stormy nights and end in the unspeakable. It's the nightmares that always seem to become reality."

A few years ago, I would have said this line was rubbish. It was true for some people, up to a point, I would argue. But it's not true to everyone.

But now... now I'm not so sure on myself.

It's seems weird that I feel like this. So unsure of myself over something that, a few years ago, I was strong-minded about. And in some cases, changing your mind is the right thing - you learn new things, you mature and you try and be a better person for it.

When I was a child, like most kids, everything was black and white. Right and wrong. It was so clean-cut. But as we grew up, the line blurred between them and it all got tangled and messy. And when we were kids, it was so easy for us to say "That's wrong. Stop that." whereas now as an adult, we're more shy about it. We're more quiet about speaking out, especially when the other person is, for one reason or another, more powerful or louder than you.

So, how did you do it, Martin? How did you stand up and call out injustice, even when the world was trying to disagree with you? What makes you remain standing out and continue to say "No, this is wrong"?

I ask this as over the past few years, the world feels darker somehow. Things happen and it feels so out of anyone's control that to have a person say "This is wrong" or "I've made a mistake and I must correct it", it feels like shouting into a void.

And I know what you would: one voice can change the world. And I do believe that. But it's hard, sometimes, when you look at the world and you see the evil and cruelty in it.

Maybe that's why we have to keep going. Keep standing up and keep shouting into the void. But the world is a bad place, but over time, little by little, it will get better. It will be kinder. I mean, compared to where we were 50 years ago, we're improved so much. We still got a way to go, but we're trying, we're getting there. We'll break that glass ceiling and if we hit it in the same spot, over and over again, someone will break it and won't be scratched by glass.

Sorry for my rambling. I didn't mean for this letter to go this way. But writing this (then rewriting it several times over to get the thoughts out right - well, for it to make sense to me!) has oddly been helpful!

Thank you. Will try and keep standing and keep shouting.

Andrew