Thursday, 30 April 2020

Self-Isolation #re3 - Tales of Beedle The Bard


REREAD TIME! Ok, not reread or #re3 (as I call them on the Pewter Wolf) as this is the audiobook version, which was only released a few weeks ago. But, this is a reread as I have read and reread this how often. I mean, it’s Harry Potter related, OF COURSE I have read this goodness knows how many times! 

And while I was in two minds over whether to write this or not (for several days, I did say I wouldn’t as WHAT COULD I ADD?!), Am surprised that I haven’t written this up on the Pewter Wolf before. So, while in self-isolation and trying to avoid my eProofs TBR as if it was the [retracted badly-timed joke here], I thought I would listen to this and write a quick thingamabob here. 

So, history to Beedle. Ok, most Harry Potter fans know this but Beedle was reference in the last Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows. And in it, it’s a collection of wizard fairy tales, very similar to Brothers Grimms’s. After finishing Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling decided to hand-write Beedle to people as a way of thank you. One went to her first UK editor (who, I believe, auctioned off his copy a few years ago with most proceeds going to charity), and a second going to her American editor. Another copy was auctioned and the proceeds went to charity and, less than a year later, the collection was published to general public. The sale of this collection went towards charity and continues to do so. 

So, Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of five wizard fairy tales: The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, Fountain of Fair Fortune, Warlock’s Hairy Heart, Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump and The Tale of the Three Brothers. Also, as this is seen as a Hogwarts Textbook (much like Fantastic Beasts and Quidditch Through the Ages), this has a little extra with footnotes written by Albus Dumbledore.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Darren Shan Talks World-Building

SURPRISE! And you thought this was going to be another Self-Isolation read post!

No, I am thrilled to welcome Darren Shan, author of well known and well-scary series such as The Saga of Darren Shan (aka Cirque du Freak), its prequel series The Saga of Larten Crepsley, The Demonata, Zom-B and his new series, Archibald Lox.

This new series is a little different compared to Darren's other series as to how they are going to be released. There should, in theory, be at least three volumes and each volume will have three short novels in them. The first three novels (aka Volume 1) are out now due to Darren wanting to bring a bit of cheer due to the COVID-19.

The first story is Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds. In this, we meet Archibald Lox (or Archie), a young locksmith who, by accident, steps from one world to another, discovering a universe beyond our own called The Merge. In discovering these new worlds of wonder, Archibald is about to come face-to-face with hell jackals, rivers of blood and cold-blooded killers...

Plus, this is free! FREE! I will pop a link somewhere so you can rush further and treat yourself!

I am thrilled that Darren has found time to write this post, as I know he is very busy being a writing demon (he might be a demon. Are we sure he's human?), but as soon as PR person Catherine emailed about Darren, I emailed back going "CAN HE BE ON MY BLOG?!". I remember vividly reading Vampire Assistant, the second book in Cirque du Freak series, by accident while on work experience at Ottakars (a book shop chain that was bought by Waterstones) when I was in secondary school. I remember reading Demon Thief on the bus home from somewhere and gasping VERY LOUDLY at a scene in the middle of the book. And people find it weird that I say "I'm not a horror fan" but will recommend Darren and Lord Loss in the same breath!

So, before I hand it over to Darren, just want to say thank you to him for finding time to write. And a thank you to Catherine from Catherine Ward PR who emailed about Darren's new series and got us emailing back and forth. If you want to say hi to Darren, go to darrenshan.com or pop over to Twitter. He's @darrenshan, FYI.

And if you want Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds (and why not? It's free!), check out Amazon UK or Kobo UK. Now, over to Darren!!!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Self-Isolation Read - Nightshade

  • Title And Author: Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Physical
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 448 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones

One of the the weird things about self-isolation over the Easter Weekend (yes, I know this is going to go live on the Pewter Wolf a few weeks after I read it and write up this review) is that the amount of free time I have to read. Am trying to keep a daily routine but, with a normal working-day, I can only grab snatches of reading here and there but I rely on audiobooks and podcasts the most. But what I mean is that reading a book of this size would normally take me several weeks and yet, the past few weeks, I have been reading books of this size at a pace and I’m not sure how my reading is going to cope when I go back to work…

But we’re not here to talk about work, we are here to talk about Nightshade, the twelfth Alex Rider novel. I have read Alex on and off since my college days (starting with Eagle Strike) and, earlier this year, I audiobooked/reread Ark Angel, a bit of a “jump the shark” in the series and, after that, I went “I’m going to read Nightshade. I mean, what is the mysterious Nightshade that was referenced at the end of Never Say Die?”. So, I preordered it and, unlike the other preorders I made while in self-isolation which I start then DNF/put on hold, I powered through this at quick a speed. 

After the events of Never Say Die, the criminal organisation Scorpia is truly dead and all 15 year old Alex Rider wants to do is go back to school, study for his GCSEs and not be a spy anymore for MI6. But MI6 have other ideas. According to intel they have recently discovered, a new and far more dangerous criminal organisation has come on their radar: Nightshade. 

And they seem to be using children. MI6 want Alex to go to a high security prison in Gibraltar to befriend a boy who, without hesitation, killed an MI6 agent, several policemen and will happily kill without question. As Alex tries to get involved with this boy’s involvement with Nightshade, he finds out an attack will hit London and must, somehow, stop it. But this time, he’s on his own…

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Self-Isolation #re3 - Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident

  • Title And Author: Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed from local library by BorrowBox
  • Length: 306 Pages or 6 Hours 48 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible

I read this YEARS ago when the book was first published in hardback with its super-shiny foiled dustjacket. Now, I only read the first three books (I never carried on for some reason. Maybe it was the first cover change when book 4 was first published or maybe I thought book 3 - The Eternity Code - ended in a good place) but with Disney releasing their movie version Artemis Fowl on Disney+ (this was meant to be released in cinemas but with COVID-19 situation, Disney decided to move this to their streaming services and push back release dates for other releases; their live action Mulan and Marvel’s Black Widow), I felt the urge to reread or grab my hands on the audiobook. So, yes, REREAD TIME!!! 

So, The Arctic Incident. After the whole hostage situation of last year, faerie Holly Short of course thinks child genius and criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl is behind the recent goblin gangs planning an uprising. But, for once, Artemis is innocent (hard to believe, I know!) and he has bigger fish to fry: his missing father is being held for ransom by Russian Mafia and he needs to be saved. So, Artemis needs to clear his name, save his father and figure out what’s going on with the People…

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Self-Isolation Read - Fall Out

  • Title And Author: Fall Out by C.G. Moore
  • Publisher: UClan Publishing
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Physical
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by the author in exchange for an honest review/reaction
  • Length: 322 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones

Not sure how this book got on my radar, truth be told. But I follow the author on Twitter for AGES as, before he turned author, CG Moore was person behind @YAFictionados and the hashtag #YATakeover on Twitter. So when he asked if anyone fancied reading and reviewing his debut, I jumped at it.

When Cal comes out to his family, he doesn’t expect it to be so explosive. He doesn’t expect his mum to be rushed to hospital or his dad to attack him in the hospital. But the fall out is nothing from the spiral his life takes when it comes to his friends, family and his bullies at school. 

But when events in Cal’s life pushes him to his limit, can he rely on his love ones to help me avoid a meltdown or has he cut himself too far for them to save him?

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Self-Isolation Audiobook - The Vile Village

  • Title And Author: The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket
  • Publisher: Egmont
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed from local library via BorrowBox
  • Length: 272 Pages or 4 Hours 17 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible

Back into 2016, I made a plan to try and read the entire A Series of Unfortunate Events series. I reread the first few and started reading the books I hadn’t. I got up to book six - The Ersatz Elevator - and then, I stopped. I did like the book and I did have plans to continue but I didn’t. I think it’s mainly because the plot kept repeating itself and I was getting sick of the “Baudelaire go to new guardian, Count Olaf comes along to do dastardly thing to get hands on Bauldelaire fortune, no grown-ups believe Baudelaire, Bauldelaire unmask Olaf and, due to this, Bauldelaires must go to new guardians”. Rinse, wash, repeat. 

And that kinda happens here, though I read an hour or so into this that this, according to most fans, is classed as the “Plot Twist Book”, so I should have kept going, right? 

After the events of The Ersatz Elevator, the Bauldelaires are back in Mr Poe’s office, awaiting news of the next new guardian that will look after the three of them and, at the same time, keep them safe from Count Olaf, the man who is desperate to get his hands on the Bauldelaires and their fortune. But Mr Poe tells them that a new scheme is put in place and an entire village will look after the three. After it, “It takes a village to raise a child”. And the village that is going to look after them is VFD, the same initials as something their kidnap friends tried to warn them about in the last book. But is the town of VFD the same VFD? And how long are the children safe before Count Olaf returns in one of his awful disguises…?

I’m going to admit this right off the bat, I haven’t see the Netflix show (hence why I wanted to read this series back in 2016), and I’ve always consider this a solid series. That doesn’t change here - as a child, I would have hoovered these books up as these tick all my reading boxes. It’s dark, it’s a little absurd but it’s got an element of mystery to it. Perfect for younger me. But as an adult, I’m find it just ok. I’m getting a little tired of the “Rinse, Wash, Repeat” story that is happening, but with the final chapter throwing it out of the window as now, the Bauldelaires are on their own and it seems that, because of this, the children are now going to be more proactive in figuring out what VFD means. 

I don’t really have much more to say about. I’m intrigued to see what happens in next few books, but I’m not sure if this will live up to my expectations. But, like I said, I think a preteen me would have devoured this series, but thirty-something me is wanting something more… 

Friday, 17 April 2020

Self-Isolation Audiobook - Naked In Death

  • Title And Author: Naked In Death by J.D. Robb
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook & Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof Gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and Audiobook borrowed from Scribd
  • Length: 401 Pages or 10 Hours 17 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible

Ok, I am going to admit it. I’ve been aware of this series for a little while now, but never really acted on whether I should read it or not because it’s a long running series. And I mean, Long! It recently released the 50 (!) instalment - Golden In Death - and has no plans on stopping. The 51st - Shadows In Death - will be published this coming September. Plus, there are novellas within this series as well so VERY OVERWHELMING. 

But been intrigued to try this so when I saw it was available for review to celebrate Golden In Death’s release on NetGalley, I snapped up a copy and, due to self-isolation, manage to grab my hands on an audiobook edition and listen to it while playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons (why do I get the feeling you’re judging me right now?)

It’s 2058 New York and the world has changed. Technology, the law, crimes. But for Detective Eve Dallas, she knows that murder is still murder. 

When a professional sex worker (and granddaughter to Conservative Congressman) is violently murdered, Eve is put on the case as this could be the start of a serial killer. As more sex workers get murdered, her bosses and people in power want a result. Fast. Shame that the lead suspect in Eve’s investigation is one of the most wealthiest and influential men on the planet - Roarke - and that they both seem to have growing attraction to each other…

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Self-Isolation Audiobook - The Strange Casebook

  • Title And Author: The Strange Casebook by Syd Moore
  • Publisher: OneWorld Publications
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook & Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof Gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and Audiobook borrowed from Scribd
  • Length: 106 Pages or 3 Hours 5 Minutes
  • Buy From: Audible

I had such high hopes for this series. It sounded right up my street: a crime mystery with paranormal elements. What more can I ask for? So when I saw this collection of short stories set in this world was on available on NetGalley, I went straight for it. Perfect way to get into the world, I thought. ... well... 


This is a collection of six short stories, each with their own twist in the tale. And while these, I believe will be great little extras for fans of the Essex Witch Museum Mystery series, not sure this was the greatest entrance for me. With each story, I kept going "How? How does this relate to the rest of the series?"

Basically, I was this gif every time a short story ended:

I think most fans of this series will like this collection (though I would recommend fans to buy The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas as this contains all six short stories in this collection and six new short stories), but for me... these stories didn't really leave an impression on me and, because of that, I'm a little more wary to try this series, starting with Strange Magic.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Self-Isolation Read - Baked Fresh

  • Title And Author: Baked Fresh by Annabeth Albert
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted
  • Length: 131 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones (All Links are to Bind-Up contains first three novellas in the Portland Heat series)

So, history time! Back in March 2020, when Corona was making everyone very scared (as UK Government was giving us little/no information), a bunch of book bloggers/vloggers/instgrammers started doing threads on Twitter going “Share your Amazon Wishlist and buy something for a stranger if you can afford it”. Now, this is lovely idea and I bought a few people one/two things from their lists and, probably against my better judgement, put mine public and shared it. 

So imagine my surprise when Kate (aka @Mummy2aRockStar on Twitter) kindly messaged me and went “Can I buy you this?” and we spend a good half an hour trying to figure out how to gift something onto my kindle. It’s so strange! 

So, Baked Fresh is the second novella in the Portland Heat series and we follow baker on the rise, Vic Degrassi, who is a rare ability to make and keep New Year’s resolution. Whether it’s quitting smoking, graduating culinary school or losing weight, he keeps them. This year, he wants to meet someone and have a relationship. Not a fling. 

So, when he discovers that a sweet-hearted Robin who volunteers at the local homeless shelter has been unceremoniously dumped, Vic is more than happy to be his shoulder to cry on. Vic has been harbouring a crush on Robin, so he’s delighted when they going a date and their flirting turns to a steamy night together. But Robin isn’t ready for a relationship and with both having issues to deal with, can they just be friends with benefits or something more?

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Self-Isolation Audiobook - Can't Escape Love

  • Title And Author: Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole
  • Publisher: Avon Impulse
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed via Scribd
  • Length: 192 Pages or 4 Hours 23 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Audible

Another day in self-isolation, another romance audiobook (kinda annoying as I can’t seem to focus on one of my most anticipated reads of 2020; Kathy Reichs’s A Conspiracy of Bones. Should I audiobook this from my local library to help?). Yeah, for someone who isn’t much a romance reader, this seems to be me at the moment.

But, romance! And a romance novella in a series I keep seeing and am intrigued like heck over. I kept flip-flopping over which novel in the series to read first: A Princess in Theory (the first) or A Prince on Paper (the third). But when I saw Can’t Escape Love randomly on Scribd as part of its 30 Day Free Trial and saw it was a novella for the series, I went for it. I didn’t know where it fitted in the series, but thought this might be a good place to test the waters. 

Regina is taking her pop-culture media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level. She’s all ready to go… expect insomnia has hit her at the worst time. The only thing that has helped her in the past with this issue is the voice of the puzzle-obsessed live-streamer Gustave Nguyen. Problem: he’s deleted his archive. 

Gus is good with puzzles. So him creating an escape room themed round a romance anime should be easy. Expect he knows nothing about the anime - or romance in general. Then anime expert Regina comes crashing into his life in an unexpected way, the two make a trade: his voice for knowledge. 

But when their online friendship begins to have IRL chemistry, can the two escape love?

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Self-Isolation Audiobook - American Fairytale

  • Title And Author: American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera
  • Publisher: Carina Press
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook & Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof Gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and Audiobook borrowed from Scribd
  • Length: 368 Pages or 7 Hours 34 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Audible

So, as you can see from the blog post title, this is a Self-Isolation read. Yes, I audiobooked this while in self-isolation due to Corona (the virus, not the beer). I finished Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Gold in self-isolation (though, at the time, I was holiday, using last few days of my work’s allocated holiday in 2019 financial year) but when I knew that I was on self-isolation, I knew I wanted to read and audiobook fun stuff. Fun, silly stories. Now more than ever, I wanted to read and audiobook stories that make me happy. They can be fun, silly, dark-as-heck, a reread, I don’t care but I want stories that make me smile and, hopefully, make you go “Oh, this sounds like something I would like.”

Yes, I know that’s very much what the Pewter Wolf is about for past few years, but you know what I mean… 2020 has been a dark year, let’s lighten it up a bit… Wow, that sounds like that mannequin moment from the first series of BBC’s Miranda

But I had American Fairytale on my NetGalley for a while as I saw this title on NetGalley a year or so and I went “Ooooh!” when I read the blurb.

New York social worker Camilo (Milo to his friends) has always dreamed of his own happily-ever-after. But, he lives in the real world and knows that kind of ending doesn’t exist. Men who are too good to be true, usually are. So, when Milo does something drunk and reckless one night and has an unforgettable hookup with a mysterious stranger at a gala his boss had to pull out of, he doesn’t think anything about it. Till the mysterious stranger walks into his office that Monday morning and turns out to be Thomas Hughes, the wealthy donor who is backing Milo’s agency’s funding for their next project. 

As the two try (and fail) to keep business and pleasure seperate, the two have to figure their issues out: For Milo, it means learning to let someone take care of him for a change and, for Tom, it means that money can’t solve every problem. But can these two get over their issues to get their happily ever after?

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Self-Isolation Read - Chain of Gold


I’m not sure how to start this write-up about Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare as I have a bit of a weird relationship with the world of Shadowhunters.

I came into this world when City of Glass was about to come out and the Mortal Instruments was a planned trilogy, and I fell quickly and hard into this world. After devouring the trilogy, I jumped into the Infernal Devices trilogy and loved that (I, like most readers, think the Infernal Devices is one of Cassandra Clare’s best). I planned to read the latter Mortal Instruments books but always lose my nerve plus I liked how City of Glass ended and didn’t want to ruin it. And, after a bit of oohing and ahhinh, I read the first two books in the Dark Artifices trilogy, Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows and while I did like them and I did go out and buy the third and final book in trilogy, Queen of Air and Darkness, but I never felt a need to read them. There was no real pull to finish that trilogy.

So, Chain of Gold is a bit of a weird animal for me. It’s the first book in  a sequel trilogy to Infernal Devices, that follows the children of the main characters from Infernal Devices. So, the children are in the forefront, and yet, the characters in Infernal Devices are there and older, but a little more in the background.

And then I have the drama of getting the damn thing. So, after ooh-ing and ahh-ing, I preordered a physical copy via one well-known online bookseller, which promised to get my copy sent to me on the day of release. Wasn’t in a rush to read it at the time, but ok. Was cool with that. So, on day of release, got an email at ten o’clock in morning that book won’t be dispatched today and my physical copy wouldn’t get to me between end of March or late May. Now, seeing as I know people got their copy from other online and physical retailers ok, I knew this wasn’t the publisher’s fault so I made a complaint. A long complaint. After an hour raising questions and pointing out one or two things, I was told they were going to look into why physical copies are being delayed and will try and push my order up. In the meanwhile, was given the eBook version for free. Several days later, was contacted back and said my physical copy would be with me by end of the day.

Cordelia Carstairs and her brother are Shadowhunters, training to battle demons. When their family comes to 1903 London, Cordelia is throw into glittering ballrooms and supernatural salon and encounter childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and their friends, who call themselves the Merry Thieves. When demons attack Shadowhunters in the middle of day, Cordelia and her new friends and family find themselves trapped in London, trying to figure out what is happening and, all the while, keeping their hearts protected as love can cut deeper than any blade…

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Audiobook Review - 20th Victim

  • Title And Author: 20th Victim by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  • Publisher: Century
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed from local library via BorrowBox
  • Length: 432 Pages or 8 Hours 26 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible
I have a weird love/hate relationship with James Patterson, something I always talk about when I do a write-up for one of his novels. I find him a light, fun read, something I would be ok reading on a sunny beach (almost perfect for me to read/audiobook at the current moment with my brain not ready to cope with Corona-Virus and something heavy), but he never offers anything of substance. 

And yet, I seem to always go back to reading him after a few months/years. And I have a soft spot for his Women’s Murder Club series as Third Degree was my first James Patterson novel and I always like reading about the ladies. 

So, when I saw 20th Victim, I was excited and intrigued. After trying to read 19th Christmas and DNFing it after a few chapters (and I seem to be not the only one to do that), I was intrigued to see how James Patterson and Maxine Paetro would celebrate 20 books in this series. Is it going to be something similar to how TV shows Eastenders and Neighbours celebrate 35 years and celebrate with a big bang, or is it going to be fall a bit flat? 

Three simultaneous shootings happen at 8:30am one morning. And of them is at San Francisco on the Women’s Murder Club patch. Sergeant Lindsay Boxer is involved in investigating and reporter Cindy Thomas is reporting the crime. The shootings are precise and exact, the  victims chosen with great care as each victim are involved in drug selling. As more shootings happen, the public debate wonders if the shooter are villains or heroes?