Friday, 14 April 2017

Talking Dreamers with Laini Taylor and a Nightmare of a Journey

Yesterday somehow managed to be a day where everything was working against me and yet things still turned out okay.

So, Thursday morning I wake up. So many butterflies. Not only am I meeting one of my favourite authors ever. I'm interviewing her too. I was screaming internally the full day.
Image result for strange the dreamer
I thought I'd leave super early to get there because A) public transport is not reliable (more on that later) and B) I want to be punctual!

The plan was that my friend Emily, who usually comes along with me to signings would meet up with me and film the interview with her camera because its better than mine.

It takes about 50 mins to get to Newcastle from where I live and I left 2 hours before I would be meeting up with Laini.

On the bus, I sit tightly clenched with nerves thinking 'are my questions good enough?' 'I wont have long, so which ones should I cut out?' 'What if shes already heard these questions a thousand times and is going to be so bored by having to answer them again?'. I tried not to even think about what sort of word vomit would spew out in the presence of Laini.
20 minutes into my ride, Emily rings me. She says the Metro trains aren't running so she's going to get a bus instead, she just wanted to let me know so I don't stress. We both agreed that we had plenty of time so being a little delayed wouldn't harm us.

10 minutes later, my bus takes turn not on the route it usually takes. It's taking us to the bus depot to pick up a new driver. Adding on about 15 minutes to the ride. I tell myself to be calm, we still have time. We accommodated for this.
Emily texts me: They've turned the engine off the her bus.
Her bus had broken down. Shit.

Right then was when I was questioning how on earth I can travel for 3 hours, taking 2 trains to interview Sarah J Maas in Glasgow and be there in plenty of time but I can't make a 50 minutes journey (one I take 3 or 4 times a week to university) to a nearby city without some kind of problem.

So while Emily waits for another bus to pick her up, I get stopped at every red light in the city (obviously) but somehow manage to make it to Waterstones on time, just without someone to record. I have questions and my phone so I think i'll just have to voice record it. BUT THEN, Jo, a lovely Waterstones employee volunteered to film it on my phone. (Thank god I recently got a new one that actually has the capacity to hold 1GB videos.)

I kept hoping, right until the last minute that Emily would make it in time, but alas it was not meant to be.

After all this, my day still worked out pretty amazingly, Emily got to the signing eventually, Laini was THE BEST. Such an amazing, inspiring woman. Meeting her was totally worth all the stress.

I was extremely time conscious during the interview because it was 14:47 when we started and her signing started at 3 (We ended up finishing the interview at 14:59) and she then needed to be in Edinburgh for her evening tour stop. Laini was so busy, it must be exhausting!

However, they had ran out of Minya stickers which I was so gutted about. Thankfully I've worked out a trade for one, but I know a lot of people wanted to collect them.

Finally, the best bit:

(Complete with police sirens interrupting Laini's answer and me stumbling over words with nerves)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

22296822For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.

I DNF'd this one. 

I HATE DNFing books but I couldn't finish this one. I tried three separate times to start The Edge of Everything and every time I just didn't want to carry on. 

I was intrigued by how this book sounded, which is why I tried so hard to get into it, but in the end it didn't work for me. I wasn't a fan of how it was written; the speech especially didn't work for me. I think Jeff completely missed the mark when trying to get into the head of a teenage girl. Zoe didn't feel realistic to me. 

I didn't like the main character, Zoe. I didn't connect with her or feel like she was particularly well written. All of the characters didn't seem to be very well fleshed out; they felt like cardboard cutouts 

There seemed to be a bit of insta-love which is...not good. 

I'd give it about 2 stars for the part I read.

Thank you Bloomsbury for sending my a copy of this book!

Monday, 3 April 2017

April TBR!

My TBR is quite small this month; there aren't many new releases I'm interested in this month (at least it lets my bank account prepare to be drained in May when ACOWAR, Lord of Shadows, Flame in the Mist and many others come out). So, i'm spending this month catching up on books i've had sitting around for a while that weren't priority to read. 

Image result for a crown of wishesFirst up is A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

I actually DNF'd The Star Touched Queen. But now i'm really tempted to pick it up and try it again after starting to read ACOW. 
I'm only half way through but I'm loving it! We NEED more stories like this one out there. 
Also, the cover is gorgeous! 

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser


I had never heard of this one before I received this one from Bloomsbury about two weeks ago.It sounds like a great fantasy filled with gods, politics, pirates and an awesome heroine. I've seen nothing but good things about this one, so bring it on!
I'm loving the blue on the cover!

Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

I'll be honest, Royce Rolls doesn't sound like a book i'd usually read but despite seeing so much about Margaret Stohl and her works on Twitter, I've never read anything of her. So, i'm going to change that! 
RR is about a family who are on reality TV show, so i'm betting is going to be drama-filled!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Image result for strange the dreamer
Strange the Dreamer is the story of: 

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep. (Goodreads)

I've been looking forward to Strange the Dreamer since I finished Dreams of Gods and Monsters (the last of Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy). I didn't even know if she'd ever write another book, but I knew if she did I'd be first in line to read it. 

We've had a long wait for Strange the Dreamer since it's release was pushed back...but IT'S HERE. FINALLY. AND OH MY IS IT WORTH THE WAIT.

It's impossible not to fall in love with Lazlo Strange. He's possibly the cutest character I've ever read. But as a fantasy reader, I felt so connected to Lazlo. He's every reader that's spent their childhood with their nose in a book, dreaming of adventures in far off lands. 
Image result for strange the dreamer

The cast of characters are so complex and layered; my feelings are so complicated over them. The guilt some of them carry is heartbreaking. We didn't get enough of some of the characters in this book, leaving me aching to find out more in the next book.

Taylor's writing is exquisite, as usual. It's beautifully crafted and lush to read. Add that to a masterful plot and you've got the makings of an absolute classic. I loved reading about the world, its so well constructed and well thought out (and has a link to the DOSAB books). Strange the Dreamer needs is own category of fantasy, like her first series, it carves out its own unique spot. You'll never read anything like this.

The romance is adorable, sweet and so very very real. There's no insta-love. (Spoiler: I loved the small fact that Sarai didn't think Lazlo was good looking when she first saw him. But as she got to know him she saw the beauty in him and fell in love with that.) 

I have seen people say that they thought it was hard to get into Strange the Dreamer, but I didn't have any problems. I was immediately drawn in and though the plot progressed really fast. However, I enjoy lonnnggg descriptive and drawn out books, so this probably impacts my opinion. 

I NEED more. The wait for book 2 is going to be excruciating. 

5 Stars. Undeniably. To me, its perfect.

I'll be doing an interview with Laini when she visits the UK in April. Let me know if you have any questions you think I should ask!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My Grandma and Me

I've debated about writing something about my grandma's Alzheimer’s and myself for a while. Writing is a release for me and right now I need one. I hope you read this and thank you if you do. 

I remember doing a presentation on Alzheimer’s in college and the other students in my class saying how it was the worst thing they could possibly imagine happen to their loved ones. I remember listening to them and wanting to cry.
At this time, she hadn’t forgotten who I was but the combination of college work and knowing each day that how she was today would be the best she’d ever be again caused me to be very depressed. Being the shy person that I was, I contemplated speaking to someone about it, but never did. I should have. I ask myself why I didn’t quite often.

I don’t like to see my grandma. I admit I will avoid going to see her. It’s the most selfish thing I’ve ever thought, but I can’t help it. I hope you don’t judge me for it. I love my grandma. But it takes such an emotional toll on me after every visit that every time it takes me longer to pull myself back together.

Today, we put my grandma into a home. Nearly five years after we first suspected something was wrong, the time came that she could no longer stay at home. Her Alzheimer’s has progressed enough that she needs 24/7 care. Something that my elderly grandfather can’t provide.

This afternoon, I went with my mam to my grandparents’ house to pick my grandma up. Seeing the garden that was her pride and joy so overgrown and neglected made me want to start crying before we’d even got there.
I played with their dog while my mam packed her clothes into a suitcase. As my grandad explained which pills she should take and when, I could hear my grandma in another part of the house talking to herself. She often talks to herself in mirrors or reflective surfaces because she doesn’t know her own face.
With the car packed with her clothes and box of adult nappies, it was time to go. My grandad started to cry. While we put her coat on, he told her he’d see her soon and she gave him a confused look. He kissed her on the cheek. She turned to me and began to cry. “You’re making me cry. That was lovely. Thank you,” she told him.
“You can come with us you know,” my mam said to my grandad.
“No,” he answered.

In the car, she turned and smiled to me in the back. That look is what breaks my heart each time. It’s the empty smile you give a stranger. A polite one.
At the top of their drive, there’s a gap between the bushes that lets you see down to the kitchen window. Every time I have visited my grandparents’ house in the 20 years I've been alive, I have stopped to wave at them. They'd always be leaning on the counter waiting to wave back. We stopped at the spot, my mam and I waved, and my grandma watched us while we did it. I wanted to tell her to remember to wave, but she wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

At the nursing home, we walked her slowly inside as she can’t walk very long distances any more. As I helped, she patted my cheek and said, “You’re lovely.” I smiled back.
We sat her down and one of the nurses gave her a cup of tea. After taking a sip she told us how lovely it was, how much better it was than what she used to get at the last place. Her house for the last 30 years was now ‘that place’. She didn’t understand that she was now in a nursing home.
We labelled all her clothes with her name and put them in her drawers and cupboard. One the nurses came to ask us some questions about her. Does she eat? Yes. Does she take from other people’s plates? Yes. We explained that she was doubly incontinent. The nurse reassured us that they had seen it all. Nothing could surprise them. She told us not to worry. I wanted to thank her over and over for the work she does. Throughout my grandma sat, quietly watching, completely unaware that we were talking about her.

My grandma’s room is opposite a women she used to live two doors down from for 25 years. “It’s Rita, grandma,” I told her. “Oh,” she said.
My mam went to say hello and chat to Rita for a few minutes and it was quiet between me and my grandma. Years ago, I used to tell her everything, visiting her after school to chat. Now she can’t hold a conversation, she just can't follow it along. My mam and Rita laughed about something across the hall. “Someone’s happy over there,” she said to me. I nodded back. ‘That’s your daughter!’ I wanted to say. Instead I smiled and made comments about the room, about her tea that had now gone cold. She explained to me how she’d gotten the tea, as if I hadn’t been there. I acted like I didn’t know what she was telling me.

When we were leaving, she sat, oblivious of being in a strange room with strange people. My mam kissed her on the cheek. She laughed and made a surprised face at me. I kissed her on the cheek too. “I’m getting so many kisses,” she said. “Thank you.” She started to cry.

Driving away my mam said to me, “If I ever end up like that, please hit me over the head with a frying pan. I don’t want to go into a home.”
“Do you know who else always said that?” I asked her.


Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Song Rising Locations In Edinburgh

On Tuesday 7th March I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch party for The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon. Samantha does an amazing job of bringing the city to life in the book, so while I was there, I thought I'd take some pictures of the locations featured in the book!

Locations from Chapter 15: The Grand Smoke

'Mist laced around the old stone buildings...Edinburgh was sometimes called the Grand Smoke, and now I knew why: there were chimneys everywhere,' (p.214)

You can also see the hills where Paige and Warden hike in the background.

'On the ledge of volcanic rock, a decaying fortress knelt on the skyline of the citadel.' (p.214
(The castle is looking pretty damn good for its age, so you just have to imagine the decay and crumbliness)

(I actually forgot to take a pic of the castle, and the one I took last time is pretty dark so I stole the one above from Google so you can see it better)

'The safe house was in an alleyway halfway up..."Anchor Close? Is this a joke?"' (p.215)

Chapter 16: The Vaults

'I could appreciate the beauty of the Old Town, It's buildings were beautiful and motley, with spires and rooftops that clambered skyward' (p.224)

'The steps led us up to the Grand Mile...Beneath our feet were broad, piebald cobblestones,' (p.225)
The Grand Mile is actually called the Royal Mile in real life. But in the world of The Bone Season, there isn't a monarchy anymore, so it was probably renamed by Scion. 

(also stolen from google)

'"The South Bridge Vaults," he said. "Sometimes known as the Edinburgh Vaults."' (p.226)

The Song Rising launch was actually hosted in some of the vaults. It was such an atmospheric space. However, I don't think i'd like to be alone in there...Edinburgh has mannnnyyy ghost stories. 

I found this picture of what the vaults look like under the South Bridge.

If you visit Edinburgh, you can take a tour of the Vaults. Auld Reekie Tours uses this picture on their website.

Chapter 18- Vigil

'We were making for the hills behind Haliruid House- once a royal palace,' (p.252)

Haliruid House is names Holyrood House in real life and is a place the Queen stays when she visits Scotland. Many Kings and Queens have stayed in the palace including Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary Queen of Scots. 

'The park and grounds of Haliruid House was thick with pine trees. We hiked around them and up the rough-hewn hills, belted by a bitter wind.' (p.252)

The hills around Holyrood House are called the Salisbury Crags.

'We made camp below an overhang.' (p.252) 

Chapter 19- Offering

'At the edge of the park, I skidded to a stop, unable to believe what I was seeing. A multitude of people had amassed before the gates of Haliruid House- hundreds of them, gathered around a fountain on the enormous driveway,' (p.264)

You can see Holyrood behind me here (The big grey building) 

'Others were climbing on to the Gothic monument on the street to get out of the crush,' (p.267)


I hope you enjoyed this post! 
Have you been to Edinburgh? Did you think The Song Rising captured it well? Has TSR made you want to visit (without the threat of Scion)?

Bonus picture of me just pretending I was the badass that is Paige Mahoney. ;) 

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population. 

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging. 

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

Oh man, you are not ready for this book.  
The world is not prepared for this book.

I bet that if you have finished The Mime Order that you will be desperate for this book. Well, I can confirm it is worth the wait.

The Song Rising has a different feel to it than the first two. Now we really feel the storyline settling into place and so the stakes are upped and tension rises. Here the story really shows that it is a dystopian.
Paige leaves London in this novel, travelling to Manchester and Edinburgh. Just like London in the first two books,  Shannon's descriptions of these cities are absolutely spot on, especially Edinburgh. If you've been, its so easy to picture the places and imagine yourself there. If you haven't, let the words take you there. 

As usual, Shannon's writing is beautiful. The complex relationships between the characters are enthralling and the twists and turns of The Song Rising will leave you breathless. 

Paige is most definitely one of my favourite protagonists. She's so strong and smart and flawed and basically everything you want in a protagonist. I'm behind her all the way, cheering her on and shouting 'NO' at the book pretty often.

Warden fans wont be disappointed, prepare to become more obsessed. I'm looking forward to learning more about this still quite enigmatic character. 

Shannon takes risks in this book, and they will leave you reeling. The Song Rising includes something I've seen happen to a character in a book and I think about that part often. It's such a bold thing to include and I love it ( or rather, I love to hate it - its a wild ride).

I'm so glad that this book is going to be 7 books long. It's so exciting knowing that the story wont be rushed to an ending and that there's so much room to expand. So much to look forward too! It's going to be epic. 
Now to wait to book 4....
5 Stars!

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