Image

NEW BOOK NEWS – Slay

NEW BLOG FEATURE! This is not a drill!

Something I’ve wanted to do here on my blog is to shout about new and upcoming books. I’ve done this before via the ‘Why I’m Excited For…’ posts I’ve posted before, but I want this to act as an information point for new books that I’m interested in and what they’re all about! I’ve got an exciting one to begin this…

NEW BOOK NEWS

9781474932318

Book title: Slay by Kim Curran

Synopsis: When Milly arrives home to discover that her mum has been taken over by something very evil, she finds herself in mortal danger. But the last people she expects to rescue her are the hottest boyband on the planet! Enter SLAY – playing killer gigs, and slaying killer demons. Suddenly, Milly’s on the road with JD, Tom, Niv, Zek and Connor, helping to save the world, one gig at a time…

Genre: Contemporary/fantasy

Release date: 3rd May 2018

First thoughts: This looks to be a really fun, easy-going book. There’s a little bit of fantasy in there with monsters and demon slaying, but there’s also boyband fun and excitement too! I get a bit of a One Direction vibe from the band just from first mention, and just hope that won’t be too off-putting in the actual book. This seems like a light-hearted fun book, perfect for the gap between tween and teen. I can’t wait to give this a read!

 

Advertisements
Image

Why ‘Love, Simon’ is important

Hello you lovely readers! Today, I want to tell you a little story about how a certain book became one of my favourites, and one that has since become a really wonderful film adaptation. I hope you’ll enjoy…

LoveSimon-1.JPG

A couple of years ago, I started working in Waterstones. One shift, a colleague showed me a little red book called Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda. “Read this, please please! It’s honestly so brilliant!” she said. So, naturally, I bought it that evening and headed home to read it.

What followed was a truly wonderful experience about love, acceptance and happiness. I have always made it clear that I hated romance books, and was quite skeptical about reading this one as it was penned as a romantic book too. The email chapters are what had me intrigued, but what followed was a beautiful, heartwarming story. In case you haven’t read it, Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda follows Simon Spier, a normal high school kid with great friends, annoying classes and a fun, loving family. He’s hiding a huge secret from everyone, a secret that he wishes he could share and for it to not be a big deal. Simon is gay, and he doesn’t know how on earth to deal with this self revelation. So when a post on a school secrets blog goes up from another student – signed Blue – talking about being gay, Simon jumps at the chance to talk about his feelings with somebody else who understands. Somebody else that knows what he’s going through. But one day, their secret correspondence gets into the wrong hands and soon Simon finds himself being blackmailed. If he doesn’t agree, the blackmailer threatens to leak the emails – outing Simon. It’s an awful situation he finds himself in.

I read the book, I loved the book, and once I’d finished it I told my colleague how much I loved it! I put it on tables at work, I recommended it to people looking for a great love story, I told everyone that bought it that it was an amazing choice. So when I heard rumours about a film being made, my heart sank. ‘Yet another book falling victim to the film industry’ I thought. At the time, I was incredibly worried that the film just wouldn’t be perfect, how do you make a film out of a book this good? Would the film studio handle the subject matter well? However, the more I saw of the casting, the pre-production and eventual set photos, I was beginning to get more and more convinced that this film adaptation would be special.

The trailers were released and from watching them, the film seemed very close to source material. I was able to relax a little bit, and turned the worry about the adaptation into excitement. Fanart covered my Twitter feed, Becky Albertalli talked about her thoughts on the film, easter eggs were discussed, and soon it was a waiting game of when the film would be out. American audiences got it first and with that came glowing reviews and happiness about what this film meant to people. Over in the UK, lots of people were able to see it pre-release, meaning that I had to avoid spoilers like the plague. Yes, I’d read the book, but I wanted to experience the film without people detailing whether there would be differences.

LoveSimon-4

Finally, the film was out in the UK, meaning that I was able to go and see it. An old friend from work also wanted to see it too, so we made plans, had Nando’s, then headed to the cinema. The next two hours flew by. I laughed. I cried. When I say I cried, I sobbed about five separate times for different scenes. I related to moments in the film. I felt so genuinely happy at watching the story unfold. Love, Simon is a wonderfully accurate portrayal of the book – one that honours its source material well, and even the minor changes from the book didn’t take anything away from the true value of the story.

If you don’t know why Love, Simon is important to audiences, then let me tell you now. In a world filled with films where gay characters are mostly tokenistic, stereotypical people, it is so refreshing to see characters just act normal. Simon doesn’t want to be a stereotypical gay guy, he is far from that. He just want to be himself. Simon is a character that teenagers and young adults can relate to. He just wants to go through life as Simon, not ‘Gay Best Friend Simon’. This is so, SO important for teenagers, especially LGBT+ teenagers, beginning to understand who they are. It is important to show Simon wanting to be himself and not wanting to lose any of his personality. You can see the worry eating away at him, before the turning point of self acceptance and love. It’s a massive step in the right direction for portrayal of LGBT+ people in media.

Diversity is so, so important in films. In a world where we strive to see equality on the big screen after years of inequality, it’s so heartwarming and fulfilling to see black characters with wonderful character arcs and growth, rather than also becoming tokens. The characters of Nick, Abby and Bram are just wonderful. They are never suggested as characters because of their skin tone, they are just people who happen to be friends with Simon. It represents an accurate and diverse friendship group. They are strong, confident and important characters without any need for them to be announced that they’re black.

This next part of the post requires a SPOILER WARNING! If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, please, PLEASE, stop reading here.

Continue reading

Image

BOOK REVIEW: A Conjuring of Light

 

Please, somebody hold me. I refuse – absolutely refuse – to believe it’s over. After meeting with author V.E. Schwab the same evening I finished the book too! My emotions just weren’t ready for what this book had in store. Please be warned! If you haven’t read ANY of the Shades of Magic series, this post will contain spoilers for the last book!



The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise. Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry.

Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery and the Night Spire crew are attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible, as an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown and a fallen hero is desperate to save a decaying world…

Now THIS is how you end a series! There were plenty of twists, dramatic moments, and enough heart stopping chapter endings to shake a stick at! Each time a favourite character was mentioned, I was terrified to turn the page in case something happened to them. When I closed the book, I felt like I’d been through hell and back with how much emotional anguish this book put me through.

A Conjuring of Light picks up right where Schwab left off in the last book. Kell has got himself into another bad spot, leaving it up to Lila to rescue him. But this time, the terror of Black London, thought once to be gone for good, has seized White London and now, living through the demon known as Osaron, has turned its gaze on Red London, rich and thriving with power. In mere moments, Osaron has the city under complete lockdown – corrupting its citizens, killing those unable to resist the powers, and forcing the magicians into hiding in the Maresh palace. It’s a bleak outlook. With few plans and hardly any time, you’re sat wondering whether Red London will soon turn as black as the river…

What I will always love about the Shades of Magic books are the intense differences about the characters. Rhy, for example, really comes into his own in this volume. He faces his fears, doesn’t let Kell run his life, and becomes a powerful head of the Maresh household. When times get rough and all responsibility is shoved onto his shoulders, he dons his armour and braves the outside world. He protects those he is close to and makes decisions fit for a king. Although Alucard is my absolute favourite, Rhy’s character growth was impressive and inspiring considering how he was at the very start of the novel.

Another character that surprised me was Holland. In this book, we learn more about his childhood, his life in White London, and how he became the powerful Antari he is in this book. It was truly gut wrenching to read, and for Holland to have grown up with little to no trust for others in his life was devastating. It just makes him all the more likeable towards the final few chapters of the book.

Schwab is a master of the written word, and knows exactly how to write to get a reaction from her readers. When I met her a little while ago, we discussed Lila, Alucard and Holland and it was thrilling to see her have so much passion for talking to a fan about characters. I think I will always idolise her creativity and how well she crafts magical worlds. This fantasy scape was brilliantly built, had me gripped with every single page, and has left a gigantic hole in my life when it comes to reading. I cannot wait for more works from her, as I know that’ll be the only thing to quench my thirst for high fantasy.

Final thoughts: A conjuring of feelings, passions and smiles. 5/5

Image

BOOK REVIEW: Children of Blood & Bone

Wow. What a debut!! Children of Blood and Bone took my breath away with every page. There were bits that disturbed me, bits that gave me chills, and there were some brilliant characters woven into the storytelling. Be warned – if you haven’t read the book yet, there will be some spoilers!


Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the order of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must stay hidden.

Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

This is the sort of book that I’ve wanted for years. Fantasy is usually very samey – lots of male authors, and lots of white characters. There’s a lot of inequality in the genre which is a shame. So when news of a fantasy written by a black female author was announced, I was incredibly excited! And the excitement paid off! This debut book is beautifully written, and fully harnesses the anger of racism and passion to speak out for what is wrong. With a healthy dose of magic overpowering and overcoming evil towards the end, this was a great start to an incredibly promising trilogy.

Let me just say that the way magic is written in this book is done right. Each time Zélie brought up the powers in her blood, harnessing the power of her ashê to bring forth her powers. It caused chills to go through my body – each description was beautiful. Zélie is a brilliant character; her lack of confidence in herself and her staggering amount of doubt in her own abilities is so sad to witness. Add to this her years of grieving for her mother and constant racial insults from royal guards, Zélie is a mess of a character at the beginning who becomes strong, capable and proud of her heritage. The other characters were also great; I really liked Amari’s arc from vulnerable, frightened princess to fierce, brave  warrior. Tzain was ever the protective older brother, making sure to always put others before himself and never failing to come up with decent plans. The only character I didn’t really like was Inan. He started off alright, but towards the end you could see that he was just too far gone from his father’s brainwashing to be likeable.

One thing I disliked in this book was the instalove. You all know that I cannot stand instalove – it’s one of the most overused tropes in young adult books. Unfortunately, the romance in this book also went down this path. Although I’m also fond of the enemies to lovers trope that was also used, it was a shame that the author decided to rush into the two characters romance arc – towards the end of the book, the love interest just became rather annoying and it felt rushed too. It was a shame to have this in the book; it would have been nice if there was more of a growth between the two characters first, but judging how the book ends…I’m not too sure if it’ll happen…

Final thoughts: A gorgeous beginning to an intense trilogy! 4/5

 

Aside

Bookish Buddies: Characters We Sympathise With

Hey friends! It’s been a while since the last Bookish Buddies post on my blog! If you’re new to this, it’s a collaboration post where me and Amy over at GoldenBooksGirl read a different book each month and then do a Top 3 Post of something we love that is related to the book. This month, we aimed to read The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, and while I didn’t actually get around to doing so (oops), we agreed that we could still write a post on characters we sympathise with. So, here we go for another Bookish Buddies!


Amy

Elliot from Who Let the Gods Out

Elliot is a young carer for his mum, who has dementia, and I think he’s incredible. I love that he isn’t perfect, but does his best to help her in any way he can above anything else and is deeply protective of her.

Hazel from Murder Most Unladylike series

Hazel is one of the best characters I’ve ever read; I adore her, so the casual racism she has to face in each book incenses me beyond words, and it’s because of this and a few other reasons (that are a bit spoilery) in more recent books that I feel so much sympathy towards her.

Ade from Boy in the Tower

Even before the world quite literally starts caving in around him, Ade has a hell of a lot to cope with, such as his mum’s agoraphobia, and I’m reduced to tears every time I read this again. He’s so caring and kind and tried so hard to help others, and it’s this that makes him one of my favourite book characters ever, and by far my favourite male main character I’ve ever read.

Layla

Kaz Brekker from Six Of Crows

I really, really sympathise with Kaz. He lost his brother at a young age after being scammed and conned after moving to the city, leaving him alone to fend for himself. He’s scrambled to the top of the ladder, and still doesn’t get that much respect for it. Add this to his PTSD and you’ve got a character that I love so much and just want him to be happy.

Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone

God, Zélie really has it rough. Witnessing the murder of her mother at a young age, constantly being hurled racial abuse from the royal guards, and cut off from her magic bloodline. So when her magic is awoken and she is tasked with connecting the lands to the gods again, Zélie has a lot on her plate. She’s such a strongly crafted character, but it’s so tough not to want to cry as she has her constant self-doubt toying with her every thought.

Mateo from They Both Die At The End

I can’t think about this book without feeling tearful, but Mateo is such a well crafted character it’s hard not to sympathise with him. He’s so afraid of living his life, especially as his father is in a coma. He wants to make sure everything is alright for when he wakes up, severely impacting his own life. When he meets Rufus and starts getting out of his apartment and his comfort zone, it does make you feel a small glimmer of hope – until you remember the title of the book…


So there you have it – our Top 3 characters we sympathise with! Are there any others you’d add to form your own list? Or perhaps you agree with all of our choices! Regardless, we’d love to hear what you have to say!

Image

The HotKey #FantasyFeast

Last week, I was super lucky enough to be invited to the #FantasyFeast, hosted by HotKey Books. Set in a wonderfully grand location and celebrating new books from authors Holly Black, Sebastien de Castell and Alexandra Christo, the event was instantly something I would have to attend when I saw that Holly Black would be there!

I arrived at the event a little early – bumping into fellow bloggers Nicola and Olivia which was so lovely! I had a little look around the venue before we were able to be served drinks, an alcoholic cocktail with pomegranate seeds on top! It was quite nice but over far too quickly.

As bloggers filtered in, I saw lots of familiar faces that I know from Twitter and blogging, so was able to introduce myself in person and say hello. It was so nice to put faces to Twitter handles and to be able to talk in person! I ended up in a little group of the bloggers that I knew and was introduced to two new people too. We were then gathered by Tina, the publicist who organised the event, to be introduced to the authors and to take our seats for the feast! I was sat with a fair amount of people I knew and some I didn’t either which was great as I was able to talk to some new people!

My place card did have my name spelt wrong which was a bit of a giggle – I’ve not seen it spelt Lalya before! Could be a new Twitter name…

Food was had, discussions were joined and lots of topics brought up and spoken about. The food was lovely and I felt rather full afterwards! I blame the bread – I’m a sucker for bread! After this, we were able to get our books signed – did I mention we were lucky enough to be given goodie bags? Each one had a book from each of the authors; The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, and the entire Spellsinger series by Sebastien de Castell! It was so thoughtful and amazing for the publicists to give out such amazing goodie bags!

Holly was in a bit of a hurry to catch a flight so I wasn’t able to get a photo of her signing, but I did manage to get photos of Sebastien and Alexandra. Sebastien had an amazing clamp that embossed a design onto the signed page – he said it was so he knew that he had met people if he saw photos online, what a nice touch! Alexandra was lovely, and was more than happy to stand and have a chat with us about heroines in books.

I am so, so grateful that HotKey invited me to this blogger event. I absolutely cannot wait to go to another event like this as I had tons of fun and enjoyed every single second! Of course I was exhausted when I got home which meant plenty of time to chill out and look at the lovely goodies I received. Take a look below at some of the amazing books and check out that gorgeous tote bag!

#FantasyFeast goodies

 

Aside

The Greatest Showman Tag

 

Haven’t seen The Greatest Showman yet? What are you waiting for! While not an accurate portrayal of Barnum’s life, the film was an easy watch and the songs super addictive! They’re just so catchy! I was tagged by Rosie to do The Greatest Showman Tag and apply some books to the songs!


The Greatest Show – The greatest book you have ever read:

I think that this changes every time I do a tag post like this…which is so inconsistent! I’m going to say A Darker Shade of Magic purely because it’s the greatest thing I’ve read so far, and it’s rare that a book series has left me so exhilarated and excited after reading just one instalment.

A Million Dreams – A book that left you dreaming after you finished it:

Six Of Crows. Like seriously, I was having dreams about this book while I was reading it, let alone after finishing it. It’s so stressful but so GOOD!!

Come Alive – A book where a character finally accept themselves:

Simon Spier! Love, Simon (or Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda) is coming out in cinemas here soon and I can’t wait to see Simon’s self acceptance on the big screen. It was so nice to read it in the book and was wonderful to see him transform.

The Other Side – A character who changes your opinion of them:

Sirius Black! All through Prisoner of Azkaban, you’re led to believe that he’s a dangerous killer and he’s out to get Harry to finish Voldemort’s job. It turns out that none of that is true, and the next few books prove how loving Sirius is and wants to be part of Harry’s life.

Never Enough – An author/series you could never get enough of:

V.E. Schwab! My goodness I could just devour book after book of hers. They are stunningly crafted works of art, and I would encourage everyone to read any of her books.

This Is Me – A book you love despite everyone hating it:

I don’t actually think I’ve loved a book that everyone hates. I’ve certainly hated a book everyone loved though…

Rewrite The Stars – A bookish OTP that overcame a lot to finally be together:

Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa. Seriously, Kaz has a lot of trust issues, PTSD and triggers, and Inej has been separated from her family and sold to a brothel when he first finds her. They overcome so much just to be able to share intimacy and tenderness, and it warms my heart when they do!

Tightrope – A book/series that gives you trust issues:

Saga – honestly, who can you trust in this series? There’s so much war going on and usually there’s a fair bit of backstabbing and sabotage! I just want the main characters to be happy, not to be ripped apart!

From Now On – A book you’ve ignored for SO long, you need to read it ASAP:

That’ll be Orangeboy. It’s terrible, it’s been on my shelf for over a year now and I still haven’t got around to reading it. I feel so awful having not read it, but it’s still on my TBR to do so this year.


I’m tagging Abbey because I know she absolutely adored The Greatest Showman! If you’re reading this and want to join in, I tag you also!