Wednesday 31 August 2016

Why Are Our Main Characters Always Nearly White?

I wasn't going to write this today. I was going to write this once I knew how to write this better. I didn't want this post to feel either like I was screaming into the void, preaching to the choir or saying this and have someone going "You Racist B******!"

But before I go further, if I offend anyone reading this post, I didn't intent to upset or offend. If I did, please accept my apologise and I won't do it again.

I first thought of this just after I read I'll Give You The Sun for the South Bank Centre's YA Book Club. I read the book, I enjoyed the book, I wrote my review, I was excited to talk about this book. But a few days after finishing the book and before the Book Club day, I suddenly thought "Why did I imagine these characters as white?". There was a reason for this sudden thought. But I went "Ok, why? Why did I do that?"

The reason, at the time, was simple. I related to Noah, a young man who was struggling with his sexuality, and as someone who has been in that situation, I saw him as a younger me and, because of this, his family (his twin sister and his parents) were white in my head. I didn't ever really give it much thought, nor did I with two other characters - Noah and his sister's love interest. They popped into my head as white.

But there was another character - an artist called Guillermo - who I imagined being of Hispanic. But it unnerved me that my brain made that jump. That I saw these characters as white.

There was no line within this book that said Noah, his parents, his sisters, their love interest were white. So why did my brain jump to that conclusion?

And that more I thought about it, the more I realised that this happens in books ALL THE TIME. I looked back over my books/audiobooks and I realised that unless the main character states that they are a person of colour, is shown to be a person of colour on the book's cover or the author is a person of colour themselves, the main character doesn't point out their skin colour which leads the reader to believe them to be white.

This also works with official art. In the case of reading Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, I saw one of the characters - Reagan - as black. She wasn't described as black, but that is how I saw her. So, when I saw the official art that was published into my copy's front cover, I was shocked to see that Reagan was white. My reaction: "No. That is not Reagan." then I looked at all the characters "Are... are all these main characters white?"

This was stated much more beautifully in a recent episode of a podcast I listen to - Oh Witch Please. In this episode (full of Cursed Child spoilers), they talked about the casting of Noma Dumezweni as Hermione in the West End show and one of the hosts (I believe it was Hannah, correct me if I'm wrong) said this line:

"... and how revealing that was to so many of us of how we continue to treat whiteness as the status quo, whiteness as the default, that a character doesn't need to be marked as white but must be marked as non-white, and if you do not explicitly mark a character as a person of colour then it means that they are not and you are absolutely not allowed to imagine them that way."

This, to me, hits the nail on the head. Why must a character state "I am a person of colour. I am BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic)" but a character that doesn't is instantly classed as white? It's not stated, so why do we instantly think that?

Furthermore, what can we do to change this? Can authors do more? Can they make their leading characters a person of colour without the character stating something about their skin or remarking that the Police are going to stop search them (it's a sad fact that, in the UK, there is a higher chance of a person being stop search if that person is are black)? The author could call their character a name that shows to the reader that the character is a person of colour, but there are people who have traditional white names who are BAME so what should the author do then?

Is there something the book's editors and publishers do? Can they do more? Could they read a story and ask for there to be more diversity? But, if they do that, isn't that messing with the author's vision for the story? Is that a dangerous thing to do as, if this happens, storytellers would slowly begin to feel that they can only tell a story if they tick every box within diversity that their editor/publisher asks for?

Is there something we readers can do? Can we see this and instead of thinking "This character is white" without a moment's hesitation, we stop and go "Ok, let's blind cast this character" (Colour-blind casting [also known as non-traditional casting or integrated casting] is a term used in the media for "... practice of casting a role without considering the actor's ethnicity" and has been used in recent TV shows and movies, such as Grey's Anatomy, Merlin, Fantastic Four, The Dark Tower just to name a few)? 

I, sadly, have no answer. I wish I do, but I don't. Hence why I am writing this post. I wanted to talk about this and see if we could start a conversation. Figure it out together.

But what this has made me want to check my white privilege.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

The World of "Secret Fire"

As you guys are probably aware if you follow this blog for a while, I am a bit of a fan of CJ Daugherty. Especially her latest series, The Alchemist Chronicles, which she is co-writing with French author, Carina Rozenfeld. And now, the newest book, The Secret City, is about to come out and CJ has been super kind to ask Michelle from Tales of Yesterday, Virginie from LaChouett and myself to host special posts in connection with this duology.

Today is the first post and it's an introduction-slash-refresher video to the first book in the series, The Secret Fire.

Are we all up to speed? Did this wet your reading appetite? 

Well, if you snoop on LaChouett and Tales of Yesterday in next few days, you might see something linked to The Secret City... what, I hear you ask. Now, why would I want to spoil you? 

Monday 29 August 2016

Zoe Marriott Asks "Are Fairytales Feminist?"

I am delighted very much to welcome Zoe Marriott onto the blog, this fine Bank Holiday Monday!

As some of you know, Zoe is the author of The Name of the Blade trilogy (which I loved), Shadows on the Moon (which I know you guys adore!) and the upcoming Barefoot On the Wind (out this Thursday!). Now, Barefoot on the Wind is a reimaging of Beauty and the Beast set in the same fairy-tale Japan as Shadows on the Moon, but 500ish years prior.

Wet your appetite enough? No? Well, I cornered Zoe by email a few weeks back and asked her a bunch of questions and ideas over possible blog post, if she had time. And, because Barefoot On The Wind was sold to me as a feminist Beauty and the Beast, I asked if fairytales are feminist... And that's what got Zoe writing!

So, before I hand you to Zoe, I must thank her for taking time out of writing that book I REALLY want her to write for this post and Katarina from Walker Books for emailing me and going "Email Zoe. You know you want to..."


When the title of this post was mentioned to me, I found myself getting a little conflicted in my own mind for a minute. Can fairytales be Feminist, I asked myself? Or is this an unanswerable joke question, like whether Grumpy Cat has a Communist agenda?

Let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves what Feminism actually is – untainted by any of the wonky ideas that society may have about it, or any of the behaviour of individual people who reject or embrace the concept. It’s pretty easy:

“The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

Basically, Feminism is the struggle to ensure that all the sexes (there are more than two, FYI, but that’s a whole ‘nother blogpost) have equal rights. A Feminist individual is someone who believes in equality for all sexes and hopefully works in whatever way they can to bring that about.  

So are fairytales Feminist?

They certainly depict a lot of highly sexist attitudes and Patriarchal societies. Though initially intended as contemporary, evolving narratives, having been written down and ‘finalised’ in Western Europe throughout the 18th and 19th century causes them to reflect those historical modes of living – when men wore trousers and girls wore skirts, and if they swapped at all it was for reasons of comedy or in order to preserve female virtue. They’re filled with a lot of ideals that woman are still fighting against, such as the diametrically opposed innocent damsels and wicked ambitious older woman, all desperately hoping to snag a man for the purposes of true love or true power. And there are an awful lot of young, aggressively heterosexual males rushing in to save the day... 

But Fairytales – at least, the earliest versions from which our current, sanitised, Disney incarnations first came – stretch right back to the time when humans were still figuring out what humans even were, when firelight was all that stood between us and the howl of creatures in the dark, and for all we knew a fairy, dragon or young God might be lurking around the next tree trunk any time we went out to cut wood for that fire. They contain archetypes, larger than life characters and quandaries which, while reflecting the politics which was prevalent when they were written down, rise above – or below – that in order to share essential truths about humans and their nature. 

What is love? What is goodness – and evil? What does it mean to be brave? How should we react to injustice? How can we better our own lives, and what are the risks if we try? What makes a monster? What is a hero?

Our individual interpretation of fairytales, the prejudices and perspectives we ourselves bring to these archetypal stories, are what make them either positive or negative. And individual interpretations can vary pretty much to infinity.

For instance, Cinderella may be a vacuous fool who wastes her one chance to escape the miserable drudgery of her life in order to attend a ball in a pretty dress – and lucks out because she happens to be young and lovely enough to catch the Prince’s eye.

OR... she might be a resolute and morally ambiguous young woman, who cunningly uses the ball to leverage her youth and beauty in order to gain the prince’s power for her own ends.

Beauty might be a passive, dutiful girl who allows herself to be sacrificed in order to save her father’s life, and eventually ends up bullied or emotionally blackmailed into marrying the monstrous being who imprisoned her – and lucked out because once he’s freed from his curse he’s not physically repulsive anymore (though his personality may be in question).

OR... she could be a ferocious young hunter who goes after the Beast of her own free will in order to destroy him and the curse, and who chooses instead to save him, in the end, because he has proven to her that despite his beastly exterior, he is truly worthy of love.

But even these ways of re-imagining our familiar fairytales – taken from my books Shadows on the Moon (Cinderella) and Barefoot on the Wind (Beauty and the Beast) – can be very controversial from a Feminist viewpoint. 

The recent Disney live-action Cinderella promoted itself with the motto ‘Have courage... and be kind’. You’d think this was a mild enough statement that no one would get cross about it, but you’d be wrong. Online, many people rose up against the idea that a young woman suffering under injustice and abuse from her family ought to care about being kind – surely survival would be the order of the day? ‘They’re encouraging young women to be weak!’ was the battle cry. ‘Don’t tell them to be kind, tell them to fight!’ 

But before anyone could blink, an equally strong counter-argument blew up, stating that kindness was a Feminist virtue, that striving for some kind of unrealistic butt-kicking ideal of femininity that eschewed goodness and kindness for macho ideals of ‘strength’ was ignoring the real struggles of real women who had survived – and might still be living with – abuse. ‘Living in a bad situation you can’t get out of isn’t weakness!’ these people declared.

Who’s right? Who knows! Both, most probably.

The fact is that, like magic itself, fairytales can be used for good or evil. 

So whether they are Feminist or not is, like most questions of story, down to the reader themselves to decide.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Demon Road Contest

Why, hello everyone! Thanks for popping along and yes, I have a contest for you guys. And I think you guys will love this contest.

With thanks to Paul at HarperCollins (thank you Paul), I was given the entire trilogy of Demon Road by Derek Landy to giveaway!

I know some of you guys LOVE this trilogy and are excited as heck over the third and final book, American Monsters. But those of you who haven't heard of this trilogy, this is a quick write-up. Amber Lamont is a normal sixteen year old. Till a shocking encounter reveals a dark family secret. After that, Amber ran. Killer cars, demonic bikers, undead serial killers, vampire, red skinned and horned demons - Amber's on the road to hell

So, contest time! The winner of this contest will win the entire trilogy! Book 1 & 2, Demon Road and Desolution, will be in paperback and the finale, American Monsters, will be in hardback. All with very shiny covers! 

Because of this, there can only be one winner and because the publisher is sending this, this contest is UK only (I swear, I will do an international contest before the year is out!)! The contest will close at midday this coming Sunday. The winner will be picked at and all you have to do is filling the form below! 

Good luck, and the may the odds ever be in your favour. 

Monday 22 August 2016

How I Live Now - Some Discussion Points

As you guys should know, I chaired/moderate a YA Book Club this Saturday just gone for the Southbank Centre, as part of their Festival of Love (and hopefully, they will continue to do this in the future. They are some great books coming out in YA and in crossover that will be great to discuss - not just do we like the book or not, but on bigger subjects such as race, sex, gender identity, feminism, mental health, what it means to be human, etc). As you know, this month's book was How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Now, I know most of you love this book and, if you have read my review yesterday, I strongly disliked it.

But what I found with this book (and last month's, I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson [review for I'll Give You The Sun is here and discussion points are here]) is that these books are rich with discussion! And because I am feeling kind, I thought I would, again, share some of my discussion points - yes, it's that bit at the end of some books that are super useful for books clubs.

Before I hand over some of my points, I just want to say thank you to the South Bank Centre for asking me to moderate the YA Book Club & the the people who came! Now, with that done, let's show some discussion!

Sunday 21 August 2016

Book Review - How I Live Now

Yesterday, I was at the South Bank Centre, moderating the YA Book Club (as part of their Festival of Love) and we were chatting about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Now, I finished this last Sunday and am writing this on Monday (15th August) but posting this now as I didn't want my review/reactions to affect people's who turned up to the club.

Daisy has been sent from New York to England to live with cousins she's never met before. But as soon as she gets there, she feels a strong connection: she feels home. More home than in New York. Summer becomes an Eden... until the bombs are dropped in London and war come crashing into her and her cousins's lives...

I must state something before I go further. I know this is some of you guys's favourite book and it is held with high regard with readers all over the world. I get that and I respect that. But this is my opinion.

I struggled. Very badly with this book. I found it hard work, hard going and I know that, if I wasn't reading this for the South Bank's YA Book Club, I would have stop, put it down and picked up something else. I didn't click with this story or this writing style.

I'm not giving up on Meg Rosoff. I have Beck by Mal Peet, which Meg completed when Mal died. So I am going to try her again, but in a smaller dose. But I'm not sold on her or this story.

I have a lot of issues and problems.

I didn't click with the writing style till a good 50 pages in (and this is a novella of 200 pages so around 25% of the book was me going 'Ok, I need to find my groove"), and not much happened in these 50-odd pages. It was slow and it felt slow throughout (even though it shouldn't due to the events that unfold). Plus, maybe because of my work patterns one the past few weeks, but there were one or two times I nearly fell asleep while reading! That's not a good sign!

But the writing style, I believe, is very marmite. You will either love it or you will hate it. I know people who love Meg's writing style so if the book has a saving grace, it's this.

I had huge problems with Daisy, our narrator and other characters. There was one or two characters I warmed to, but everyone else, I had huge issues with. I disliked Daisy with a passion - I believe she was meant to be written this way. But in books like these, I need to root for my main characters. Even if I dislike them, I have to cheer them on. This wasn't the case with Daisy. I keep putting down the book, shaking my head and cursing her. At one point in the book, I threw the book on the sofa and cursed "You stupid [enter two swear words here]!", giving my other half a scare as I very rarely swear and treat books with little care. Plus, there is an aspect of Daisy I felt was handled very poorly.

Another huge issue I had was Edmond and his relationship with Daisy. I had HUGE problems with this. They are cousin - first cousins, FYI - and age wise, he's 14 and she's 15. But their relationship grossed me out. I was warned about their relationship and I went in open-minded, but nope. BIG FAT NOPE! I have cousins and the idea of me having a relationship like Daisy's and Edmond's upsets and creeps me out no end!

The book reminded me of a book I read YEARS ago called Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsen, which I read back in 2011 (very early days of me book blogging! But if you feel brave, my review is here!). I remember liking it and I had books 2 and 3 at the time (not now, sadly), but I never continued with. Maybe I should go back... But these two books have very similar feels and ideas. However, I think I prefer Tomorrow When the War Began.

I know I sound like I am hating on this book. But I just didn't click with this story. It's just not my cuppa tea. I'm not saying you should avoid (I said that once. Not saying that again as I have grown and learnt better). If you want to read this, that's ok. Go for it! But if you don't want to read this, that's ok too. Every people is different and has different tastes, likes and dislikes.

And I just didn't like this. But I tried. And now, onwards to try another book!

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Dylan The Doctor Contest!

Another day, another blog tour! Today, welcome to my stop on the Dylan the Doctor tour!

For those of you curious, Dylan the Doctor is the first book in a new picture book series, following Dylan the stripy dog, exploring the world around him and having fun. Today, he's playing doctor, rushing around and looking after his friends - Purple Puss, Jolly Otter and Titchy Chick. But who will look after him when he gets tired?

Now, thanks to the lovely people at Faye Rogers PR and Scholastic UK, I have THREE copies to Dylan the Doctor to give away to you guys. So, CONTEST TIME!!!

For the chance to win a copy, all you have to do is fill in the form below. The contest is UK only (The publisher is sending these, not me. And I swear, I will do an international contest sooner or later! Not sure when but I WILL, YOU GUYS!!!). The contest will close on Sunday 21st August 2016 at 5pm so you need to get your skates on!

Good luck to you all who enter!!!

Thursday 11 August 2016

Book Nerd Reactions - The Shondaland Edition

You guys have no idea how long I have been thinking about doing or trying to do this blog post. After the past few weeks of me either thinking/plotting/writing &/or wondering if I should write THAT blogpost because it's quite heavy and I want my blog to be light, fluffy and warm, I REALLY want to write a fun, silly post that will (probably) win me no prizes!

So, with the aid of shows I watch and love like Grey's Anatomy, Scandal (a show I really need to watch but scared will get VERY addicted to), The Catch and my fave of them all, How To Get Away With Murder, let me show vines of some of the things we Book Nerds go through...

So, let's get started...

When we first enter a bookshop/library and all the books call to us...

What we want to happen in a love triangle but never will (come on authors!)

What we say when our main character starts dating someone who doesn't respect them (and advice we should follow ourselves)...

When a new character comes on the scene and makes a move...

What we want a strong female character to say when a male character says "I only did it to protect you"...

When a plot twist we did/didn't see coming hits us...

Our reaction when a plan comes together/falls apart, both in spectacular fashion...

When a character is playing the victim and expected our sympathy...

When a character expects us to believe that they're telling the truth...

When we give that character one FINAL chance to not screw up again...

When we suddenly realise the truth!

When we need a snack while reading...

When characters won't do what we want them to...

When a character we hate is sickeningly happy...

When we realise that the character we're madly in love with isn't real...

When a character we love suddenly and without warning dies... 

"Trust me," says the author. "There won't be THAT many deaths in this book..."

When the author hurts us in the cruellest of ways...

When it just gets too much...

When we get a Happy Ending and we just aren't feeling it...

When people don't get why we read all the time...

When we read a book that we would NEVER admit to in the cold light of day...

What we hope authors say when we finish a total bore of a story...

When the fandom online is too much...!

When we return to library/bookshop for more books...

Wednesday 10 August 2016

DNFing The Muse

Another day, another blog post about DNFing.

Like I said yesterday in my blog post about DNFing Sunny Side Up, I have wrote in the past that I am going to talk to you about stories that I DNF. Because it's important we're honest with each other over the fact that sometimes, we just don't click with some stories. Could be a number of reasons, could be one huge problem, but it's ok to say "This isn't working" and go onto another story.

And The Muse... it was a hard and easy decision to make. Will get to this in a tick.

The Muse, for those of you who are curious, follows the lives of two women. Odelle in 1975, struggling with living in London after leaving Trinidad and now working as a secretary for the mysterious Marjorie Quick. And Olive in 1936, stuck in rural Spain who gets caught up in her art and the lives of artist (and revolutionist) Issac and his half-sister...

I tried to get into this. I really tried. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, hence why I requested this for review. But something happened along the way...

A few days ago, I realised that I hadn't made any attempt in the past few days/weeks to listen to the audiobook. I listened to a chapter and realised why I had stop. Why I hadn't found myself rushing back to listen to what happened next with these characters.

I didn't care.

This, like most readers out there, is a big deal. I have to care about something within the story so I keep going. It can be a character, plot, a scene, a twist in the story. There has to be a hook that grabs me and keeps me.

And this didn't happened. I didn't care what happened next. So why should I keep listening to this audiobook if I don't care about the story, the characters, the what-happens-next?

Now, as I stated in the past, this is no one's fault. It's not the author's, not the publisher's, not me. It's no one's fault. I just didn't click with a story - it's ok. At least I tried! At least I attempted this story. Sometimes you click and other times, you don't. It happens. I'm not going to make myself feel guilty or ashamed for not finishing a story I didn't connect with. Like I don't feel guilty or ashamed for not liking that TV show/film.

Oh well... I didn't click with this book. Maybe I will with the next...

Tuesday 9 August 2016

DNFing Sunny Side Up

In the past, I have said that when if/when I have to DNF a book/eBook/audiobook, I would write a tiny post about it and chat to you guys about it. It isn't a review, just me going "Hey guys, I tried to read/listen to this and I just didn't click".

This is mainly to show you guys that I do try and read new things. I might not finish, I might not like, but at least am trying to read new things. And let's chat about it.

So, with Sunny Side Up, it's going to be a bit different as I only read 3 chapters. That's 11% on my kindle as I requested this from NetGalley.

Why did I request this? I follow Holly on Twitter and I have always wanted to read Geek Girl, but been a bit scared to. So, when I saw this on NetGalley, I requested as a "Let me have a try!"

A novella taking place after the fourth book in the series, Sunny Side Up follows Harriet as she goes to Paris for Fashion Week. And as this is a special novella within the series, expect a lot of characters old and new to hit the catwalk.

So, why did I stop? I just didn't click. I think it all comes down to timing. In the past few weeks, I finished Eowyn Ivey's To The Bright Edge of the World (that took quite a while to read), Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell (which was a lot of fun) and then Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which I enjoyed returning to this world, though I had one or two problems [and that's me putting it kindly]). So reading this just came out the wrong time.

Another thing on why I didn't connected is that this is story 4.5 in a long running series. I normally do this - jump into the middle of a series and am usually ok doing this - but this time, I wasn't prepared for Harriet. Harriet who caught me completely off guard. At any other time, I would really like Harriet, but trying to read her the past few days, I found her... a little bit irritating.

Now, like I have said before, sometimes you don't click with a story. That's ok. That's not your fault. You win some, you lose some. It's no one's fault. Not the author's, not yours. It just happens. I do want to try again with this series - start at the beginning, me thinks - but at the moment, not my cup of tea.


Monday 8 August 2016

Is Cursed Child CENSORED?

Just when you thought it would be safe to return to the Pewter Wolf and read things un-Cursed Child related, nope! Not happening. As much as I want to keep the secret and wait quietly in the corner till I see the play in late September (where my opinions will either change for the better or for the worse), there's one or two things that I can't let lie.

This post started life as something completely different. Something I will touch on and will remain within the posts core, but after watching someone's reactions on YouTube (which I won't link now because SPOILERS!), this post changed so it's two themes merged into one.

So, like before with my Did The Cursed Child [CENSORED] The Fandom post, if you have not read the script or seen the play I request you don't go any further in the post. Spoilers ahoy! Page break coming! You have been warned!

Sunday 7 August 2016

Did The Cursed Child [CENSORED] the Fandom?

I've been wanting to write this discussion post about Harry Potter And the Cursed Child very quickly after I read the script and chatting to some people on Twitter. It feels important to me to write it and discuss.

However, to do that, I have to reveal some spoilers and I feel a bit uncertain on doing this. But after doing a poll on Twitter and chatting to a few people on Twitter, I feel comfortable enough to do this.

So, before I go on, I must state two things. First, this is from me reading the script. Just reading the script. I am not seeing the play till the end of September 2016, so my views might change once I have seen the play. But, at the moment, this is SOLELY on the script. And second, as I am revealing spoilers (one or two spoilers, not all, FYI!), if you haven't seen the play or read the script, you need to leave now. I am going to talk spoilers in a line or two.

But before I say "Go now!", I wanna thank all you peeps on Twitter who I chatted with and made me go "Oh yeah, that's interesting point." (aka Michael, George, Julianne, Kate, Rob, Charlie & Rachel). So, am about to go all spoiler on you so run away. Page break is in place so BYE non-spoilery people!

Friday 5 August 2016

Book Review - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I have no idea how am going to talk about this. And oh, I SO want to talk about this! But am going to keep this as spoiler-free as I can and write a spoiler-

This is the rehearsal script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is playing in Palace Theatre till December 2017. The show had previews the past few weeks and, last Saturday, the show had it's world premiere. Because it's in London and fans all over the world are desperate to see it (and are/were upset that it isn't a book/movie/touring world wide), publishers have published the rehearsal script the Sunday just gone. The official script (which the actors are acting to now) will be published later this year...

Starting within the 19 years later epilogue, Harry Potter is now a father of three, married to Ginny and is about to put this youngest son, Albus Severus onto the Hogwarts Express for his first year.

While Harry struggles with being an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic and a past that refuses to stay in the past, Albus struggles with the pressures that his name and his family legacy, a legacy he never wanted. Soon, things are said that can't be unsaid and the past and present come crashing together...

The darkness is rising... and it's coming from unexpected places...

OK, am going to say this right now. I am going to see Cursed Child up the West End at the end of September so, of course am going to blog about it then as well. So, this is me reviewing (if you want to call this post a review) the script.

As a Harry Potter fan, this fills me with happiness. And it was enjoyable and fun. It was Harry Potter goodness. If you don't look too hard at the plot... Ok, stay with me. Am getting to why I said that in a tick.

For the good half of Part One, I was filled with joy that I was returning to this world. And I feel most Harry Potter fans will feel the same. We have a new HP story, you guys. And it was fun. It was fast, fun, enjoyable. It was fun. And I can see this working as a play. It feels right to see this as a play and I can't wait to see how this works on stage with all the effects.

However, there is problems. As I was reading this script, I couldn't help be think "This feels a bit fan fiction". That's not a bad thing. There are wonderful fan fictions out there and great fanfic writers out there. But this didn't feel like a Harry Potter story, written by JK Rowling. Even though the cover says "Based on an original new story by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne" (and Jack Thorne wrote the script), this felt off. It didn't feel right within the series. This felt separate and, at times, a little money-grabbing. One plot device that was used in the play has been used in different stories in different genres and, at times, it felt like "Rinse, wash, repeat".

But this isn't my main problem. I got on board with the above plot device because it intrigued me how it would work in this world. What bothered me was how there was so many problems and loopholes and it wasn't fully explained. How did A happen so quickly? Why did B happen? And when - WHEN FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS MUGGLE - did C happen?! Things happened and they weren't explain. I get with a play like this, you have to move the story at a pace, but explanations were either explained very thinly or not explained at all.

I sense a reread might be in order before I see the play.

I believe with this that if you can see Cursed Child, you really should. This story is built for the stage.  And if this was ever turned into an actual novel, this would work brilliantly as there will be time to explain things and go into more details. But the script... hmm... am very on the fence. Am viewing it as a standalone, maybe a companion story set in the Harry Potter world...

Thursday 4 August 2016

Book Review - Songs About A Girl

After taking nearly two months (TWO MONTHS!) to read To The Bright Edge of the World (review for that is here) and trying to find my groove with The Muse on audiobook, I needed something light. Something fun! I needed a fun read! So, I grabbed this and blitz through.

I would have read it quickly, but my work has changed times of when I work due to the heat (Oh, the messed-up British summer!)

When Charlie Bloom gets an email from Olly to take photos of his band, she's surprised. She spoke to  Olly once (to her knowledge) and he left school two years ago. But she has to take the job - it's the once in a lifetime offer. And Olly isn't just Olly - he's Olly Samson, lead singer in the internationally famous boy band, Fire&Lights!

Overnight, Charlie is thrown into the world of music, backstage bickering, paparazzi and somehow caught in the middle between Olly and his fellow bandmate, Gabriel.

But soon, things turn sour. At home and within her life within the band, but not before Charlie discovers that Gabriel has written songs for Fire&Lights - and those lyrics are in her late mother's notepads...

This book was so much fun. I whizzed through this (yes, it took me two weeks, but if it wasn't for work and the weather, I would have read this within a week!) as it's quite addictive. A fun, sugary read that's perfect for this time of year. I mean, who doesn't want to hang out with the band?

Yes, it's not perfect - a bit cliche in places (a shy, insecure girl hooks up with the most popular boy band and oh my, she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle with a boy-next-door type and the mysterious, dark brooding loner) and at times, a bit too simple a resolution is used, but with this book, you have to go with it. It's a fun, read by the pool book.

I keep thinking this would be good for readers who like "clean teen" reads (though there is swearing - but this happens once in a blue moon) so I compare this to Geek Girl by Holly Smale (which I shouldn't as I haven't read Geek Girl yet, but both seem to have that playfulness to them).

There is a sequel coming next year (which I hope is just as addictive, maybe with a hint of grit) and I am intrigued to see where Chris Russell takes this series. But yes, fun summery read that One Direction fans will devour.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

If I Made The Movie Soundtrack Of... SONGS ABOUT A GIRL

What is more of a challenge is to make a soundtrack for a book which, if it's ever turned into a TV show or a movie, is heavily music driven. But while reading Songs About A Girl, I kept thinking "What if..."

Now, I have done this before (Night School by CJ Daughtery, Broken by AE Rought, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Life And Death by Stephenie Meyer) so WHY NOT!!! While I will want original songs sung by Fire&Lights (written, of course, with the aid of Chris Russell), I wanted a nice mix of songs and music genres. Now, I kinda suck of exploring new genres of music (help me. you guys) and I made no notes while reading Songs About A Girl so while I have a good mic of songs, I can not tell you why I choose them fully without spoilers.

So, should we get this party started?

ENCORE by Delta Goodrem
This was the first song that popped into my head while reading this. Yes, I had bought the album on impulse but there was something about it that made me instantly linked the story with this song. while this won't fit at the first half of the story, it fits more in the second half, as I feel this song is more suited later. While Fire&Lights songs feel more romantic and love driven, this is more heart broken and more self-confidence, a song about growth which fits perfectly later...

STATE OF DREAMING by Marina And The Diamonds
This song just clicked with me due to several lines within the song. It's feels very Charlie who gets catch up in the world of Fire&Lights, the glitz and glamour, the celebrity. But after a while, Charlie begins to see that there's a dark undercurrent with this world and this undercurrent is turning very quickly on her when her name and other information about her is outed on the internet...

Ok, this is a special mention. In this six minute song, there are long moments when it's just instrumental and I love the feel of these moments and I think the placing of these moments would create an interesting tone. The main places for this song is two moments that happen in the same chapter - they involve a beach and then a lift/elevator.

I'M A RUIN by Marina And The Diamonds
There's a scene quite late in the book when a character (who will stay nameless) reveals himself to be a messed-up person (in their eyes, anyway) and while this is happening, fans are singing one of the band songs. When I read this scene, this song kept creeping into my head, so I wondered what it would be like for the fans to be singing this song instead... would Fire&Lights cover this song or would this be playing out to the fans to keep their entertained...?

Quite soon after the previous song/chapter, this song fits the mood of the following chapter. The band is beginning to fracture and Charlie really sees the dark side of fame not only within the band but within her life.

I came across this song by sure fluke quite close to the end of my reading of Songs About A Girl, and this felt a perfect fit. With everything that happens within this book, I wanted a happy, upbeat, fun song that could be slipped in every now and then to reflect Charlie's happy mood. I had this mental image of Charlie looking through her photos or editing her photos and her listening to this song while this happens...

And that's it. All done. And these were some of the songs I had while reading and thinking (but if Songs About A Girl got turned into a TV show/movie, I don;t think I would trust myself over song choices!). But what do you guys think? Agree? Disagree?

Monday 1 August 2016

The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight Contest!

Hello everyone! And here we are. The start of a new week and the start of a new blog tour! I am here to announce a small contest in connection with The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight, written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty.

For those of you who don't know about this picture book, let me give you a quick summary. Leo isn't your normal knight. He's a mouse, of course, but he loves reading. Unlike the other knights. Leo's parents really want him to become a proper knight so they send him off on a quest to tame a dragon.

But books and stories are more powerful than swords and soon, Leo will tame not only a dragon but other magical creatures too, showing the power of a good story...

Now, because of the lovely Faye at Faye Rogers PR, I am hosting a contest so you can win a copy of this delightful tail (get it? Tail? Because he's a mouse. And... oh never mind!).

I have THREE copies of this to give away, and all you have to do is fill in the form below! This contest is for UK and Ireland entries only (as the publisher is sending them, not me. I promise I will do international contest before the year is through!) and this contest will close on Sunday 7th August at around 5pm so get in quick!