Thursday 24 December 2015

Quick End of Year Note

So, it's Christmas tomorrow and the end of the year in a few days time, so it's time for us bloggers to write our end of year post. Our favourite reads, our favourite memories, our year...

Instead, I'm going to say something to you. Something I haven't told anyone expect a few people (my Other Half and a few family members). But here we go:

I was going to quit this blog this year.

Of course I haven't quit. I'm still here, writing blogposts and plotting my future posts for this blog. But yes, a few years ago, I had a plan for this blog. A few years ago, when I had started this blog and other cooler book bloggers and UK publishers started to see my blog, I decided to think ahead. Think about when I should call it a day for the blog, just in case.

2015 was my last year of blogging. I had a plan for this year. I would either email all the publishers at the start or the end of this year, then I would give myself 12 months to get all my blog affairs in order - reviews, guest posts, everything to make 2015 the best year ever!

But I changed my mind. I changed my mind back in March, just after I won my Blogger's Blogger award from UKYA Blogger Award. I was excited over the win, honoured beyond belief and thought "Why not?". Plus, I didn't want to call time on this, just yet.

But this year has been a weird year. I won an award, then I panicked for a good few months, worrying that my blog had to be good enough to represent the award. To show that I deserved the win. But you guys never forced me. I forced me. It took till August for me to go, "Wait a minute! Why am I getting in a state over this?" and, once that clicked in my brain, I started to have fun again and plot things. I have something planned in the New Year which I need to announce and write up so... keep eyes peeled.

But this year has been a strange year. I won an award, panicked my blog wasn't good enough, did public speaking (while panicking! Thank God I had wonderful people who were doing the public speaking with me as I had fun and didn't tie myself into physical and mental knots!), got excited over the wave of new and old book bloggers heading this way and the books. Oh, the books!

Shame am only just climbing out of my reading slump, but BOOKS!!! SO MANY EXCITING BOOKS IN MY TBR PILE! Keep your eyes peeled over the course over the next year for them write ups!

And with private life, I moved (a fact some publishers still haven't grasp), got a kitten, still got a wonderful family and Other Half in my life and feel weirdly like am happy with the way my life is going (though the employment front is still a bit hit and miss, but you can't win them all!).

But to everyone (family, friends, publishers, bloggers, authors, readers, the love of my life), I just want to say thank you. I owe you all so much and I have no idea where to start. So thank you. Just thank you.

Before this gets too soppy, 2016. Where am I going with the blog next year? I can answer in one of two ways. The first is this:

The second (and probably more truthful) answer is I don't know. I have no idea. It's going to be one weird blogging journey and you know what? I can't wait to find out. Hopefully, by then, I will be out of my reading slump. Well, here's hoping... Of course, 2016 could be the year I decide to wear more "grown up" clothes... 


So, before I leave you to enjoy the next few weeks silence from me, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy start to 2016, and remember...

Sorry, couldn't resist. See you in 2016!

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Twas the Night Before Christmas Book Tag

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! A late, last minute blog post as tomorrow is my “Year in Review” post which I hope isn’t that depressing for you guys to read. 

Anyway, I discovered this tag on YouTube a few days ago and I loved it.The “Twas the Night Before Christmas Book Tag” was created by Fred Weasley Died Laughing (WHY?! WHY CALL YOURSELF THAT!? MY HEART!!!) and I discovered it via Mikayla Eve Reads (who pushed me into doing this - will show tweet below!). I will link both their videos now:

So, in case you don’t understand it, The tag is asking bookish related questions based on lines from Twas the Night Before Christmas. And I really liked this idea - I always like a tag video which is a little off centre! So, I tweeted the video this morning (to get more people to view it! Plus, tweeting it made me very nearly late, FYI) and Mikayla tweeted me back with this challenge! 

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! So, my answers will be both book and TV related. This is gonna be a long post, so let’s get started!!! 

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,” A book/TV that kept you up so late, everyone else was asleep. 
I would have to go with my last read and last TV obsession. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket. Why this book? Am just crawling out of a reading slump and I wanted to blitz this very quickly before Christmas (so why have I started The Wide Window is anyone’s guess?). For TV, The Blacklist. It’s rare my other half and I find TV shows we watch together but we discovered this via fluke and we have devoured seasons 1 & 2. We need to get the first few episode of season 3 and we’re on it! 

“And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,” A book/TV that made you fall asleep. 
Books rarely make me tired. Am trying to think. I think I fell asleep during my reread of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Not because I don’t like the book. I do (it’s not my fave but I respect it) but I was SO TIRED!!!

TV - I think I was very ill and I think it was either an episode of Qi or some football match. Am sure it was a football match as it was 0-0 at one point and then I woke up and it was 2-0 (was snoring for nearly 20 minutes). Let’s say the footie as I’m not much of a sport fan. 

“When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,” A book, or a book scene that made your heart race 
With me, it’s usually when a character I love is in danger that makes me sit on the edge of my seat and panic for them! 

I’m currently listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows audiobook and that’s putting me through the ringer at the moment. Am currently in the Battle of Hogwarts chapter and… yep… 

In TV world, the last time my heart raced was when I was watching the season 2 finale of The Blacklist. But I watch way too many shows that have so many twists and turns. 

“when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,” An object in a book/TV that was utterly magical/or a magical book 
I wanna say a time turner from the Harry Potter series (come on! wouldn’t you?!), but am going to restrain myself and say The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. I adore this world - am hoping to reread the series next year. If not, Clariel & maybe Lirael - but I love Abhorsen’s bells. I find them fasanating. I would be a useless Abhorsen and if I lived in the Old Kingdom, I would be dead within a few minutes! 

I weirdly don’t watch my fantasy-based TV. I know, how very odd of me. So this one’s a bit hard to answer. But I can’t help but thing of a few gadgets from Agent Carter just because!

“With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick,” A twinkle-eyed book/TV character that made you happy. 
I have a load of characters that make me smile when I read. Some are old faves - Luna Lovegood, Mogget, Hermione, etc - and some are new - Simon and Baz, Levi, etc - but am going to go really left-field (aka not YA) in my answer and say Mog from Judith Kerr’s Mog the Forgetful Cat. This and The Tiger Who Came To Tea was my stable of my childhood and as someone who has very young family members, I want to share the love. Plus, the advert featuring Mog is beyond wonderful. 

TV-wise, am going to go Friends and say Phoebe. I love Phoebe. I can’t explain why, but I love her. She’s just goes with the flow and that’s something I wish I could be. Plus, why hasn’t there been a book about her life?! I’m also going to say Agent Peggy Carter from Agent Carter, because not only does she kick butt but she is a strong, kind person who knows who is she and knows her own worth, even when others around her don’t because she’s a woman. Stupid sexist characters.  

“so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too,” A book/TV that made you fly to another land. 
HOGWARTS! (Sorry, but am going to say nothing else but Hogwarts!)

“And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof,” A book/TV creature you love. 
I am a huge fan of mythology creatures so anything in fantasy gets me very excited and very happy. I love daemons from His Dark Materials as I found them interesting to read and people’s opinions on whether they are the person’s soul or not. Although, any animal in Harry Potter holds my heart a little. 

TV is hard as it’s rare for animals to get attention on TV. But am gonna say Jess the Cat from Postman Pat. Not sure why, but Jess the cat. (although the theme song for James the Cat has popped into my head…)

“He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot,” A character that proves to more than his/her first impression 
That’s a hard question.There are so many characters in books that are so much more than their first impression. Not sure how to answer that! Let me have a think about that and will answer on Twitter at a later date. 

Any character from a Shonda Rhimes TV programme comes under this question! My TV obsession is How to Get Away with Murder (winter finale airing in the UK tonight! SO EXCITED OVER WHO SHOT ANNALISE!) so am going to say Annalise as she is such a complex character…

“He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,” A book or book character that made you laugh 
I find reading humour in books a bit hard. But I love reading either Magnus Bane from the first 3 Mortal Instruments books and the Infernal Devices and Mogget from The Old Kingdom series. Both make me smile over their humour and how they don’t honestly care about what other people think of them. They know their own self-importance and that is a very important for readers to know. 

I was going to say Friends but that’s my fail-safe answer. But last week, I howled with laughter over Modern Family and a random episode of Undateables. But I always like finding new comedies that actually make me laugh. 

“A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread,” A book/TV that makes you feel safe. 
Harry Potter is my safe series. I always read them when I feel low. And if I ever get into a reading slump, I always go to Sabriel by Garth Nix. It really depends on what kind of safe I need. 

With TV, I love a good comfort TV. So Friends is usually on when I want comfort. But a comedy makes me happy. Although, I loved The Great British Bake Off and that was a safe show for me. Though it made me tension as heck (what if the cake didn’t rise?!)

“He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk,” A book/TB that put you to work (a book/TV that you felt you really needed to concentrate on)
I love a good mystery so am going down that route with this answer. The one that jumps to mind is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I remember reading it going “What on earth?!” and it was only after the reveal where I thought over everything and went “How could I have not thought of that?!”

I can’t say Blacklist for this answer. So, am going to say Mr Robot instead. I really liked it but you had to pay so much attention to it. I could only do 2 or 3 episodes as I would get myself into a state over what the hell was happening! 

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" A book/TV with a magnificent ending. 
Ooooh! That’s an interesting question. Endings are very hit and miss with me. Either they are so spot on or so off the mark… You can’t please everyone. 

I want to say Harry Potter up to a point as I agree with that the fight of Hogwarts is needed (bloodbath!), but there are one or two things that make me quite upset. With TV, I want to say Miranda but even now, it doesn’t hit all the mark. I loved that Miranda finally grew up and realised that she didn’t need Gary to complete her, but I’m annoyed as heck that her and Gary got together and married. 

Books And Their Theme Songs - Volume 31

It's very close to Christmas, and because of that, I will be going on a tiny Christmas blog break. But I couldn't leave you without some music. Well, the music I have been listening to while reading the past two months.

So, let's get started! I hope you like...

CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell
"You Picked Me" by A Fine Frenzy

HALF TRUTH by Sally Green
"Forget" and "I'm A Ruin" by Marina and the Diamonds

YEAR OF YES by Shonda Rhimes
"Where Did The Good Go" by Sara and Tegan & "Cosy in The Rocket" by Psapp

Friday 18 December 2015

Lucy Saxon Explains Cosplay

I am very excited to welcome Lucy Saxon onto the blog today! Lucy is the author of Take Back the Skies and The Almost King, but she is also a cosplayer. As someone who knows very little about cosplay (my first real interaction of cosplay was from this year's YALC - what a uncultured person I am!), I wanted to know more so when I asked Lucy if she could write a post about cosplay, I didn't think Lucy would reply so happily!

So, thank you Lucy for taking time out to write this! And now, I hand you over to Lucy (if you want to chat to Lucy, check her out on Twitter at @Lucy_Saxon or you could check out Lucy's CosPlay Facebook page at

If you ask a cosplayer why they cosplay, you’ll get any answer ranging from ‘because I love it’ to ‘help me, I can’t stop’. My response tends to be towards the latter end of the scale — I do love cosplay, don’t get me wrong, but for something considered a hobby it takes more money, time, and stress than just about anything else in my life, writing included! My friends always laugh at me for being more concerned and anxious over cosplay deadlines than I ever get over book ones. Cosplay can become an addiction; a quest to make the perfect costume, to get the perfect photos, to challenge yourself more and more with each costume choice. A fun addiction, but an addiction nonetheless! 
For me, cosplay is all about expressing love for a character or franchise. In the same way that people create fanart and fanfiction, cosplay is a creative way to put yourself out there as a fan of something, and to use that to connect with other fans of the same thing, by forming cosplay groups or just going up to someone and saying “Hey! I love your costume!”. It’s a form of art, and it’s incredibly satisfying to wear a costume you worked really hard on, especially if you get complimented on said costume! The confidence boost is enormous, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of becoming one of your favourite characters for a few hours.
Cosplay is a great hobby in that there are varying levels of commitment, so you can put in as much or as little as you’d like; if you want to spend ten months or more building some hugely extravagant costume that’s perfectly accurate and detailed and wonderful, go right ahead. Alternately, if you’d rather buy something off the internet or throw together a quick closet-costume and just focus on enjoying yourself while in cosplay, that’s cool too! There are no real requirements, other than that you consider yourself to be in costume. However, it can become a very slippery slope once you discover the joy that is making and wearing costumes yourself. 
I tend to choose costumes based on how cool they look and how much I love that character, which means things like realism, practicality and my own skill at costuming rarely come into the equation until I’ve already decided I want it. Not the best way of doing things, I’ll admit, but it does mean I get to learn new skills and push myself that little bit further; with cosplay you can start small and build up until you get where you want to be, and then push yourself beyond that. 
Of course, some costumes are more complex than others, and a lot of cosplayers will try and have both low-work and high-work costumes if they can. The more intricate your costume, the more things there are to possibly go wrong while wearing, and chances are it’s probably not all that comfortable! Sometimes it’s nice to have a simpler costume for one or two of the con days, to have a chance to relax. It’s surprisingly exhausting being in costume all day, having to be ‘switched on’ to be asked for photos at any moment, while wearing something that could hinder your movement or comfort a fair bit. In my Hyrule Warriors Zelda costume, I couldn’t sit down for the entire eight hours I was in it!
Usually cosplayers will wear one costume per day of the convention, though I have known people to wear 2 or even 3 in a day if they change partway through! They’re not always new costumes, but even older costumes will sometimes need repairing or parts replacing in the run-up to a convention, so usually cosplayers have plans in place weeks or even months before a convention. Even longer with group efforts; depending on group size, I’ve sometimes been in planning for cosplay groups over a year before they’re due to actually happen. 
A huge amount of self-discipline is needed for cosplay, especially once you’re well and truly hooked. It’s easy to get swept up in it all; plan a dozen huge costumes and agree to a bunch of cosplay groups, then realise you have neither the time nor the funds to do most of it. I’m lucky in that I’m pretty flexible with the time I have to make costumes, due to working at home — most cosplayers have to fit it in around work, or school, or family. I’ve managed to settle into a pretty good routine for balancing cosplay and writing; I plan my costumes around a year in advance, scheduling out when I’ll make which costume and which convention I want to wear it to first. That way I can leave out blocks of non-cosplay time to write or edit, and if a new costume comes along that I absolutely need to make, I’ll switch it out with one already on the list instead of adding it on — otherwise I’d add a new costume every other week!
It’s hard to say exactly what it is about cosplay that gets people from all walks of life interested, but be warned; while we can offer a huge amount of fun, a brilliant community and an excellent skills-based hobby — your bank account and your free time may suffer in the process. Come on down the rabbit hole and join us in the madness!

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Press Release - Pride and Prejudice for Audible

Audible has been very busy lately, hasn't it? Got the audiobooks for Harry Potter (at last!), the third dramatisation of Sebastian Fitzek, Passenger 23, as well as a dramatisation of horror, Carmilla and Joe Hill's Locke and Key.

But now, to end the year, Audible is releasing a production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Read by Rosamund Pike, who most of you will know from the movie Gone Girl, this excites me as I always wondered to read an Austin, but have been a bit scared as it's "An Austin. The Austin", so I will, hopefully, try this out in the coming few weeks.

Here's the press release (thank you Midas PR) and YouTube video of Rosamund talking Austin.


London – 8December, 2015 – Audible Studios, a production arm of Audible, today announced the release of Rosamund Pike’s narration of Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice. This memorable performance by the Academy Award-nominated star of Gone Girl is now available for download at

Pride and Prejudice will always resonate with people because Austen is dealing with a theme that is so universal: falling in love for the first time,” said Pike, whose artistic relationship with the novel dates back to the 2005 film adaptation, in which she played Jane Bennet. “I hope people enjoy what I’ve done with it, and find my characterizations convincing. While narrating this, I was constantly listening, and making recordings of people’s voices which I thought might have some qualities useful for a character – whether it be the person’s tone, intonation, pitch, or cadence of speech. Performing this audiobook has been extremely rewarding for me. It’s made me think afresh about familiar things, and made me again appreciate what a great heroine Austen has given us in Elizabeth Bennet.”
Pride and Prejudice still captivates modern readers and listeners, and this new recording, makes it easy to see why,” said Audible UK Content Director Laurence Howell. “Austen’s timeless story of romance, family and social dynamics combined with Rosamund Pike’s beautiful performance make this a must-have for devotees of Austen’s novel, and it is a wonderful introduction to the book for a new generation of Austen fans.”

In addition to Pike, among the acclaimed performers who have narrated works of literature for Audible are Aiden Gillen, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet, Jesse Eisenberg, and Aidan Gillan. In 2013, Audible Studios won its first Grammy Award, for its production of Janis Ian’s memoir Society’s Child, and also won the Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year, for Colin Firth’s performance of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair.

Audible, the world’s largest seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word content, invented and commercialized the first digital audio player in 1997, and has since been at the forefront of the explosively growing audiobook download segment. In 2014, listeners around the world downloaded 1.2 billion hours of audio from Audible outlets; Audible members downloaded an average of more than 17 books over the course of the year. Two thirds of new Audible members are first-time audiobook buyers.

Audible, an, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), is the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment, offering customers a new way to enhance and enrich their lives every day. Audible’s mission is to establish literate listening as a core tool for anyone seeking to be more productive, better informed, or more thoughtfully entertained. Audible content includes more than 150,000 audio programmes from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Audible is also the preeminent provider of spoken-word audio products for Apple’s iTunes Store.

Saturday 5 December 2015

Reading Slumps Are a *****!

It's happened. I fear this would happen for quite some time, but it's happened. I have fallen into a reading slump...

I don't know how this happened, dear readers to my blog. One day a few weeks ago, I was fine. I was reading. I was happy. I was like this, dear readers. 

And then, it hit. I was trying to avoid it, but not this time. Not this time... 

I have tried several things over the past few weeks. I have taken this as a book holiday. I have tried to read books that call to me. I have tried to read sample chapters from NetGalley. I have even tried reading Harry Potter. And all of them aren't working! 

So... not exactly sure when am going to recover from this horror! I apologise in advance if my blog goes quiet the next few weeks. I am planning a small blog break over Christmas and New Year but I was going to keep blogging till just before. But now... now not so sure what the plan of action is. 

But, dear readers, I hopefully will kick this reading slump up the rear and will back in my swing in the next few weeks. If not, the New Year. I am plotting stuff.

I am taking time my reading slump break to scare that thing in the corner of the room that is called a television, that red thing called a 3DS and my blue iPod that use to hold my audiobooks but not anymore (and those things called a partner, family and a kitten!). But soon, I will return to the beauty of books. Because, dear readers...

Friday 4 December 2015

GoodRead - Most Beautiful Universities In The World

Tina from Abrams and Chronicle emailed me a while ago over a few titles that Abrams and Chronicle  are publishing over the next few months. It was a mix bag of books and several catch my eye. And this was one that caught my attention and held it. When I saw it, it made me go "This would be very different read for me and my blog" and that excited me. I have never read a coffee table book and it focused on photography - something I love looking at (have you not seen my Pinterest?!).

In this book, we have photographs of over 20 universities from 15 different countries. This ranges from the oldest universities in the world - University of Bologna, Oxford, Sorbonne, Cambridge - to much newer universities - National School of Fine Art, Yale, Rolex Learning Centre.

What's wonderful about this book is that, while there is a tiny write-up of each university, it's the photographs that sell the book. It's the photos that do the talking and that is what makes me like this book. I dip in and out of it and I feel like I discover something new in each photograph, which are lush and glorious.

So, I'm not gonna write up a typical blogpost. Am going to take some photos and show them to you.