Friday, 31 May 2013

Stephen King's Joyland and the Hollywood Girls

So, you've probably heard about the new Stephen King book, Joyland, coming out soon (read more about it, with excerpts and videos, on the publisher's site here). It's part of the Hard Case Crime line of books, and Titan are having some fun with the promotion of this one! Thought you guys might like to know more about it, and if you're around the London/Bristol area, why not pop along for some free popcorn? :-)

Over to Titan, to tell us more:

Best-selling author Stephen King returns June 7th with JOYLAND, a breathtaking mystery novel set in an amusement park in the 1970s, published by the award-winning Hard Case Crime imprint of Titan Books.

JOYLAND will be published in original paperback and will only be available in print edition in keeping with the author’s request, in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, for people to “stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore.”

Encouraging UK book lovers to act on King’s call to arms and buy paperback copies from traditional retailers, a team of ‘Hollywood Girls’ from the world of JOYLAND will be touring shops and literary events during the week of the book’s publication to give away free JOYLAND-branded bags of popcorn. Bookstore shoppers will also be able to win free books and exclusive JOYLAND prizes by tweeting pictures of the Hollywood Girls.

Dressed in the costume designed by Glen Orbik for the cover of the book, four ‘Hollywood Girls’ and their vintage popcorn machine will start their tour at Crimefest in Bristol on June 1st and end at Stoke Newington Literary Festival on June 9th. They will travel via Foyles Charing Cross Road [June 4th] and Forbidden Planet Shaftesbury Avenue [June 7th]. There will also be 50 bags handed out by booksellers on June 4th at Foyles Royal Festival Hall, Foyles St Pancras, Foyles Westfelds Statford City and Foyles Westfield White City.

About JOYLAND and Hard Case Crime

With the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, JOYLAND [Hard Case Crime, original paperback, June 7th 2013], is a whodunit and a heartbreaking tale about love and loss, growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time.

Titan Books will be publishing JOYLAND in paperback format. Stephen King explained: “I loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being.”

JOYLAND is published by the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels published by Titan Books, Hard Case Crime. Stephen King’s last title for Hard Case Crime – The Colorado Kid – was an international bestseller and inspired the TV show Haven, about to go into its fourth season on the SyFy network.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Remembering Jack Vance

Last night I heard the news about Jack Vance’s death. He died in his sleep, aged 96, in his home in California on Sunday. He was an incredible writer who wrote over 50 novels and 100 short stories in his life, and influenced many science fiction and fantasy authors such as Ursula le Guin and George R.R. Martin.

I was introduced to Jack Vance by my dad, who’s a big fan of his work, and his books were some of the first science fiction I read. I was immediately enchanted by Vance’s unique style of writing: vivid and lyrical; his style always had a beauty and a wonderful cadence to it, even when describing the most mundane things. He would introduce a touch of courtly extravagance here, contrasted with plain speaking there, always using language to set the scene and bring his world to life. There was something slightly old fashioned about it, without ever becoming ridiculous or pretentious, and I’ve never read another writer quite like him.

It’s Jack Vance’s writing and language that I remember best about his work, but he is also an incredible character writer and ideas author. He came up with amazing concepts and worlds, and populated them with the most interesting people – perverse, strange, vain, selfish people as well as the heroic and good-intentioned. One of my favourite characters is the despicable Cugel (self-titled ‘the Clever’), possibly the best anti-hero ever written. He’s a man driven by pure selfishness, a bit useless at everything but possessing sharp survival instincts, who is never likeable yet always fascinating and very funny to read about. He somehow slimes and cheats his way through each adventure, only to end up, quite satisfyingly for the reader, in a worse place than where he started.

Jack Vance will probably be remembered best for his Dying Earth books, all set in the far future where the Sun is dying, the population of the Earth has shrunk, “the continents have sunk and risen. A million cities have lifted towers, have fallen to dust”. The Dying Earth is a fantastic setting that combines science fiction and fantasy elements – magic and adventure and strange artefacts in a distant future in which mankind’s days are coming to an end.

I would recommend the Dying Earth books to any science fiction and fantasy fan; you’re sure to find something surprising here. The world combines elements of old adventure stories, knightly romances, classic sci-fi, and an almost mythical feel. Jack Vance had an amazing imagination and was highly skilled at creating both a fantastic atmosphere and larger-than-life characters who burst from the page. Another weird and wonderful setting is Lyonesse, where more traditionally fantasy (though still with weird and sci-fi elements thrown in now and again) stories take place.

Vance’s stories themselves are often very simple, and his plots are not as strong as other elements. Some of his characterisation and the ways people interact will also seem very old fashioned now, like reading old Ray Bradbury stories. However, the writing, characters and worlds are enough to lift the plots, and I guarantee that you will have never read anything quite like it.

He has written so many books it would be impossible to talk about them all here, but if you are a fan of classic but strange science fiction, there are plenty of marvellous works to choose from. I would recommend the Dying Earth, Lyonesse, and the Demon Princes series, which takes the age-old revenge story and places it in space. Kirth Gersen is on a mission to kill those responsible for his family’s deaths, and his adventures, his methods for finding his targets, and his solutions to sticky situations, are all fascinating and exciting.

I would also recommend Jack Vance’s short stories, which can be overlooked but in many cases are just as good or even better than his novels. Short stories showcase Vance’s incredible imagination and his ability to evoke atmosphere and emotion, without needing long and complicated plots. They therefore play to his strengths, and it is some of his short stories that have, in fact, stayed with me the longest. Try Fantasms & Magics, a collection that contains some of my favourites.

Jack Vance, deservedly so, will always be remembered as one of science fiction and fantasy’s greats, and if you’ve never tried his books, I urge you to give one a read.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Night Circus - Book Review

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

The Night Circus is a beautiful story, crafted in delicate layers and made to impress, like the cakes, pastries and fabulous meals that are so richly described within its pages. It glitters, and every page is a new delight, so that merely reading about the circus, about its patrons and performers and magical tents, would be enough to keep me devouring the book on and on. And this is a good thing, as the story itself is very slow, meandering and elusive, teasing us a little here and there before wandering off to gaze at some new spectacle. This is a book to indulge in, to simply enjoy as it takes your hand and leads you around the circus.

It probably goes without saying, in light of the above, that this book is well-written. Erin Morgenstern crafts her world and characters with wit and charm, with lavish descriptions that are nevertheless not over the top or pretentious. I was completely enchanted from the very first page, and despite the slow reveals and almost static story, I was hooked. I just kept reading, compulsively, until the end. I normally prefer story over style, and yet, this book proved itself to be exactly the kind that I love – one that makes me long for any break I can get just to dive into its world again.

The story revolves around a magical contest between two players: Celia, trained with practical methods, emotion and demonstration, and Marco, trained with more intellectual methods, with books and control. They are the pawns of two much older magicians, two men who have almost completely lost connection with the world. The location of the contest: the Night Circus, a fabulous project dreamed up by creator and perfectionist Chandresh, with the aid of some very talented people. Built on Marco and Celia’s magic, this becomes the ground for displaying their skills, and magical new exhibitions begin to appear. But the contest is not quite what it seems, and the two combatants are linked inextricably in more ways than one.

I found the magical contest fascinating and compelling, particularly in the second half of the story. What began as a beautiful, dream-like vision begins to get a little darker, and cracks start to appear. The people around Marco and Celia are getting hurt, and the magic is beginning to take its toll. With peripheral characters that I really cared about, the emotional highs and lows and shocks really affected me. Celia and Marco were actually weaker characters, but I was still utterly invested in their story, and really wanted them both to find happiness if they possibly could.

I only had one slight criticism of the book, and that was the ending. It felt weaker than the rest, perhaps because the book was built on a kind of illusion, on the mysterious contest that loses some of its power when revealed and explained. Perhaps because of the way in which the dilemma was resolved, which felt just a little bit underwhelming. Perhaps because the high stakes at this point didn’t quite ring true to me. However, this was redeemed by some excellent foreshadowing and building on themes, and the closing of the book on exactly the right note. And though I might have liked the ending to have been just a little more dramatic, and perhaps a tad darker, it certainly doesn’t diminish the whole.

I adored this book, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. It’s beautiful, enchanting and engrossing, and though it moves at a slow, meandering pace, it never seems to lose focus. But be warned, The Night Circus will make you very hungry, and you may want to have a supply of chocolate mice standing by!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Showcase Sunday #20

Inspired by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, I've decided to combine several weekly wrap-up memes into one post. Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews, and Sunday Post is hosted at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Letterbox Love is a special British book-haul meme hosted by Lindsey at Narratively Speaking.

Last Week:

So last week we had ALL the weather. Wind, storms, rain, hailstones, sunny spells, cold that made me get the wooly winter socks back out, and then a couple of really nice sunny days. Went to a BBQ yesterday and didn't drink enough water in the hot weather, and am now feeling pretty yucky. Today is definitely going to be a lying on the sofa with a book day!

Last week's posts:

Book Review - Shadows of the Past by Carmen Stefanescu

A Taste of Blood Wine - Book Tour and Short Story Extract

Bout of Books 7.0 Wrap-Up

New Goodies:

Two Diana Wynne Jones! :-)

(this is book 2 of a series I
haven't read yet, so will now have to
keep an eye out for book 1!)

Hope everyone else had a good week. :-)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Shadows of the Past - Book Review

Shadows of the Past
By Carmen Stefanescu

When Anne and Neil leave on a one-week holiday hoping to reconcile after a two-year separation, little do they know that destiny has other plans for them. Their discovery of human bones and a bejeweled cross in the hollow of a tree open the door to the supernatural realm and the anguished life of Genevieve, a nun from medieval England.

Can Anne save her relationship and help Genevieve find her eternal rest?

The twists and turns in this paranormal tale keep the reader guessing up to the end and weave themselves together into a quest to rekindle love. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Shadows of the Past tells two stories: of 15th century nun Genevieve, and 90’s business-woman Anne. The ways in which these separate stories interact and weave together, and the similarity between past lives, was intriguing. The women’s stories and their romances mirrored each other, but at the same time were different enough that the characters felt like separate people. It was interesting to see one relationship blossoming while another was tentatively trying to reform after a betrayal. The idea of the evil forest and the haunting passed down into future lives was also very promising.

However, I didn’t really get on with this book. I struggled with some of the characters; I found Anne and Neil a little dull and underdeveloped, and I didn’t really believe in their relationship. We were told a lot that they loved each other, and that Neil is perfect for Anne, but I didn’t see enough evidence of this to help me understand why she forgave him.

I also found the abbess’ character a little odd. Yes, she was greedy and selfish, and a direct threat to Genevieve, but her ‘evil’ nature was a bit confusing to me. She was using some kind of magic up in her room in the abbey, which seemed to be tied to her sexuality. According to the other nuns, this dark magic was very sinister, but we never really saw the effects of it. Most of the time she just seemed to like to eat good food and enjoy herself, and so resented and defied the strict rules of the abbey. I understand that this is reason enough for nuns to be against her in the 15th century, but some of the over-moralising against it, particularly from the modern characters, made me uncomfortable. The abbess is a horrible person for trying to seduce a priest, but the main character, a nun, falls in love with the very same priest and that's alright? Both the abbess and Genevieve have knowledge of witchcraft, but the abbess uses her powers for... well, I'm not sure what exactly, but it make snakes appear on her head (so we hear from one of the nuns, and never actually see), so obviously her powers are evil? I also really didn’t like the suggestion that two nuns’ sexual experimentation together might be seen as a mark of how much the evil abbess had corrupted them. Again, this fits with the attitude of the nuns, but were the readers supposed to agree? I hope not!

Genevieve herself was the most developed character, and in general I was interested in what would happen to her. The historical chapters were the better parts of the novel, but were unfortunately spoiled a little now and then by some quite jarring anachronisms. Some elements were obviously researched, but others clearly weren’t. For example, asps are not a danger to watch out for while hiking up mountains in England. The way characters spoke also felt a little off, for both 15th century and 1990’s England, and I found the writing in general to be a little awkward and stilted. This made the book hard-going for me at points.

Despite some intriguing aspects, this book wasn’t for me.

Thank you to the author for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Taste of Blood Wine - Blog Tour & Short Story Extract

Have you heard that Titan Books are re-releasing Freda Warrington's vampire series, the wonderful Blood Books, beginning with A Taste of Blood Wine and leading up to a brand new book in the series? Today I'm really excited to be a host in the “Gorgeous Grave-throbber” Tour, with the second part of one of Freda's related short stories!

From award-winning British fantasy author Freda Warrington, A Taste of Blood Wine (Titan Books, May 2013) is the first novel of a gothic vampire melodrama.

To celebrate the return of the critically acclaimed Blood Books in collectable paperback and e-book edition, Titan Books and Freda Warrington are serialising two rare and risqué stories set within the universe of the Blood Books across a series of websites and blogs.

This is part two of And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire, and you can read the rest of the tale here. Hope you enjoy it!




And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire: Part 2

by Freda Warrington


Robyn. Seventy years lost. Violette, who thought she couldn’t love, had loved her. Perhaps she’d come close with others since, but Robyn was the ruby set in her heart. A glorious courtesan defying Boston’s high society; a wounded soul, beautiful, warm and funny. The miracle was that Robyn had wanted her too. But Violette had turned her away. Robyn, if I let you come with me… I will destroy you.

It had seemed the right decision at the time.

Violette was hardly aware of her surroundings. She could only see Robyn’s face, smell her hair. Charlotte’s voice startled her.

‘Where are you going?’

‘To speak to her.’

Charlotte’s hand shot out and circled her upper arm. ‘Don’t.’

‘Do you think a day goes by that I haven’t longed to find her again?’ Violette hissed. ‘Let me go.’

Too much liquid swam in Charlotte’s eyes. Fear, jealousy. ‘Violette, it isn’t Robyn.’

The dancer plucked Charlotte’s hand off her arm and pushed it away. ‘Let me go. Whoever she is, at least let me look at her face again for a few minutes.’

The main lobby of the hotel was bright, sparkling with huge chandeliers. From the marshmallow comfort of a sofa, Violette watched the woman pacing, talking into a mobile phone, high heels clicking on the marble floor. At last she ended the conversation, turned and saw Violette.

‘Hi again,’ she said, about to walk straight past. Violette sat forward and made brazen eye contact, her posture demanding conversation. With those brilliant kohl-ringed eyes she could convey emotion to the back of the stalls. The effect on the woman was virtually physical. She halted, bemused as if Violette had tripped her.

‘Hi,’ said Violette. ‘Is your evening going as well as mine?’

‘Oh, my dinner date stood me up. Migraine, sure; too many brandies at lunch is more like it.’

‘Same here,’ said Violette. ‘That is, my friend was called away. Ordered this bottle, and now no one to drink it with.’ She indicated Stefan’s demon-brew, which she’d seized and brought with her. The thick green glass of the bottle glistened. There were two fresh glasses beside it. ‘I’d love it if you’d help me out.’

Despite the cool poise of her exterior, Violette was trembling inwardly like a teenager. Her approach felt inane and desperate. The desire to keep this gorgeous, distracted stranger beside her was turning her into a fool.

‘Oh, sure, why not.’ The woman flopped down, stretching stockinged calves. She took out a palmtop computer and began tapping at it, at the same time trying to keep the folder from sliding off her knee. Violette, hypnotised, watched Robyn’s warm face with its mischievous dark eyes, Robyn’s unruly thick hair falling forward and being pushed back. ‘It’s such a damn nuisance… hope the guy’s okay for a working breakfast… Oh, and my sister’s picking me up at nine… Damn, I need to email Mark; that’s my husband…’

Violette had a vision of breaking into a strange house and sucking the life from a faceless man. No more husband. She poured syrupy straw-gold plasma into the woman’s glass.

‘What do you do?’ she asked softly.

‘What? Oh, pharmaceutical company. Really dull.’ The woman flipped the palmtop shut and into her purse. ‘Sorry, I’m not normally this rude. You so don’t look part of the convention, and you’ll turn out to be head of some huge corporation and I’ll have blown a billion-dollar deal.’

‘Relax. I’m not.’

‘I’m Ruth Sarandon.’ She reached out and shook hands, her fingers warm in Violette’s cold ones.

‘I read the name tag.’

‘You’re not wearing one,’ said Ruth. She took the glass. There was no sign of Robyn’s calm, sensual personality beneath the brittle energy.

‘I’m Violette.’ She didn’t think to offer a false name.

‘Well, cheers, Violette.’ The dancer watched as Ruth-Robyn took a mouthful of blood plasma. She swallowed hard, eyes watering. ‘Wow, that’s different. Kind of bitter, like an aperitif. Not bad.’ She turned the bottle, holding it by the neck. ‘No label. That’s scary.’

‘It peeled off. Condensation.’ Usually Violette dealt in the truth. Tonight it felt all too easy to spill one lie after another. The spiked blood made her unguarded and she was floating in a dream where all that mattered was what she wanted.

‘So, what brings you to Boston?’ Ruth asked. She took large mouthfuls of her drink, shuddering a little with each one. Violette looked at the chestnut hair lying against her throat.

‘Oh… working trip,’ she began, but Ruth sat forward, speaking over her.

‘You know, you look incredibly familiar. Did you say your name was Violette? Are you a ballet dancer?’

Violette bit her lip, cursing inwardly. She felt the magic bleeding away. The chatter of people in the lobby became deafening. She shrugged, gave a self-effacing smile. ‘I’m off-duty.’

‘You’re the Violette Lenoir, right?’ Ruth put down her drink and clapped her hands. ‘Oh, my God, my little sister worships you. She will die if she knows I met you.’

Violette’s eyes widened. She had an image of a small girl, like a child in an Edward Gorey cartoon, literally expiring in the face of her big sister’s news. Meanwhile Ruth’s chatter went on: ‘I say little; Sarah’s twenty-three. Oh, her room’s a shrine, she has every one of your ballets on DVD, she truly spends every cent of her wages on you…’ and Violette sat transfixed by dismay. This was the last thing she wanted. She wanted Robyn, the wordless bliss of finding each other again. Not the inane flutter of a stranger. She wanted Robyn so badly the feeling pushed tears into her eyes.

She drank down the herb-fragrant blood. It gelled inside her like disappointment. She let the words wash over her until she couldn’t hear them any more. The world was buzzing madly around her, speeded up in time while she sat utterly still. No longer seeing the babbling woman there, only seeing Robyn.

She became aware that Ruth had stopped and was staring uneasily at her. ‘So – I guess an autograph’s out of the question? For Sarah, not me.’

‘Forgive me.’ Violette’s attempt at graciousness sounded wooden. ‘It’s wonderful that your sister… To know my work’s not in vain.’

‘I’m sorry,’ said Ruth. ‘You must get this all the time. Another gushing idiot, and here you are trying to relax. I’ll stop.’

Her voice had an edge suggesting disapproval of stars who weren’t meltingly grateful to their fans. Violette didn’t care. She leaned into the sofa, her body turned towards Ruth’s, one hand supporting her head and the other resting lightly on her hip.

‘Actually, I’m trying to pick you up,’ Violette said coolly, not blinking. ‘Can we please go to your room before everyone in this bloody hotel recognises me?’


Read the rest of the short story, And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire, here. And don't forget to hop over to The Curiosity of a Social Misfit for part 3!

Thanks Freda Warrington and Titan Books. I'm so looking forward to reading the book! :-)

The first book in Freda Warrington’s Blood Books series, A Taste of Blood Wine, is out now from Titan Books, £7.99. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Bout of Books 7.0 Wrap-Up

And that's it! Read-a-thon over. It was a lot of fun, and I got more reading done than I thought I would. I met most of my goals, and took part in most of the mini-challenges. Yay! Whether you joined in this time or not, hope to see you in August for the next one! :-)

My goals were:

Finish The Night Circus and at least one other book.
- I finished The Night Circus, Any Other Name, and Poison, and I started Angelmaker.
Catch up on some cross-posting of reviews.
- I... did not do this. >_< 

Visit as many participating blogs as I can.
- I didn't have as much time for blog visiting as previous read-a-thons, but I did still manage to visit lots, and to say hi to old friends as well as new.

Take part in at least two mini-challenges.
- I took part in five mini-challenges!

Join in at least one of the Twitter chats.
- I joined two of the Twitter chats.

Have fun!
- The easiest but most important goal. Yes, I had a lot of fun!

Books Read/Started:

How did everyone else do? Did you have fun? :-)


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Showcase Sunday #19

Inspired by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, I've decided to combine several weekly wrap-up memes into one post. Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews, and Sunday Post is hosted at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Letterbox Love is a special British book-haul meme hosted by Lindsey at Narratively Speaking.

Last Week:

I can't believe it's Sunday again already! Had a very fun and busy week - Bout of Books on top of having a lot of work! Didn't mind the hecticness though, as it's been so much fun. :-) I've been reading away, doing mini-challenges, and taking part in twitter chats. I've been updating my progress and challenges posts each day, which is why there haven't been many new posts this week. But look out for lots of reviews coming soon! :-)

Last week's posts:

Bout of Books Updates

Bout of Books Mini-Challenges

New Goodies:

Poison, by Sarah Pinborough
Thanks Gollancz Geeks for the review copy!
I've actually already finished this one,
as it was one of my read-a-thon books.
Enjoyed it. Review soon!

Poison Study, by Maria V Snyder
(kindle daily deal)
Department 19, by Will Hill
(99p on kindle)

Hope everyone's had a lovely week! :-)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Bout of Books Mini-Challenges

I find it easier to put the mini-challenge responses in a separate post from my updates, so here we go. I LOVE mini-challenges, so I'm pretty excited...


Last day of the read-a-thon! Today's mini-challenge is hosted by Snarky Bird, Uber Nerd, and it's all about recommending books. The idea is to say that if you liked (...) then you'll love (...)

Okay, here are my suggestions. I wanted to go mad and recommend everything on my shelf, but then realised that I'd have to limit myself. Of course, these work both ways - if you've read the second suggestion, then you should love the first too!

- If you like The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, you'll love Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett. The latter book is older, and I never see it talked about much, but it is very good!


- If you like The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa, you'll love Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. Strong heroines, and sexy supernatural stories that don't pull punches.

- If you like the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, you'll love the Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud. Not exactly similar, but both are fun and adventurous, both feature magic, both are very British, both feature arrogant magic users (the Bartimaeus series could be seen as what the Harry Potter world could look like if the magic users had ruled over the muggles instead of hiding from them), and both explore prejudice towards magical creatures.

- If you like A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin, but would like a smaller cast of characters and more women in positions of strength, then you'll love The Red Knight by K. T. Davies.

- If you like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, you'll love Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. In terms of the magical feel. So enchanting and absorbing, though I think Howl's Moving Castle has a much better story, and would recommend it to anyone, even if you hated The Night Circus. ;-)

- If you like the current trend of YA dystopias involving pregnancies, you'll love The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

- If you like A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin, you'll love The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan. Similar idea of young people being plucked from the most unlikely place in order to learn magic, and then dealing with the consequences.

- If you like the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton, you'll love the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence. Same sense of adventure, same fairly simple but very fun puzzles, same brave children and strong friendship, and the added bonus of learning about ancient Rome as you go!

So there you go. Hope there was something there to interest you, or to add to your To Read list! Can't wait to see everyone else's suggestions. :-)


Today's challenge is hosted by Smash Attack Reads and it's another book spine poem! But this time we have to stick to one genre of books... of course, I chose fantasy (it's the genre I own the most of, so makes things a bit easier). It's 12 books long and uses 12 extra words, and I ended up having to take the picture in three:

A game of thrones in Fantasyland:
The Iron King on his throne of glass;
The High Lord in his castle in the air.
Each sips poison from enchanted glass,
As the novice, cursed with eyes the colour of magic,
Claims the crown of Dalemark.

I'm not sure if the second title is 'Fantasyland' or 'The Tough Guide to Fantasyland'. If it's the latter, then replace that title with 'City of Ruin', which I own but haven't taken a photo of.


Today's challenge is to make an acrostic poem, hosted by Harley Bear Book Blog. The task is to take a book title and use each letter to make a word. Here's mine:


Create a cover! This is being hosted by I Talk Books, and the challenge is simple: re-design a book cover! I picked Wool by Hugh Howey, and created this with the help of my husband. Enjoy! ;-) 


Book spine poem time! This is being hosted at Escape Through the Pages.

The rules are: create a poem using book titles. You get as many extra words as you have books in your poem. I'm already breaking the rules because I actually have two more words than I do books. Technically, I can do it without cheating, as I can replace 'I call' with 'are', and remove 'and', but I think this throws off the rhythmn a bit, so I prefer this version.

This is a little tribute to the poem within the book The Stars My Destination, which is also one of the books in the stack. :-)

I've titled it:

'The Science Fiction and Fantasy Author'

I'm the master puppeteer,
And Neverwhere my nation.
Magic and stone I call my home,
The stars my destination.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Showcase Sunday #18

Inspired by Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, I've decided to combine several weekly wrap-up memes into one post. Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Stacking the Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews, and Sunday Post is hosted at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Letterbox Love is a special British book-haul meme hosted by Lindsey at Narratively Speaking.

Last Week:

Had a bit more of a relaxed week; John was off work, and we enjoyed the lovely weather at the beginning of the week. We tried a new cafe close to us, which was yummy, and I found The Eyre Affair in Oxfam! Been wanting to read this one for ages, so I'm pretty pleased with that find. :-)

Last week's posts:

Book Review - Echo, by Alicia Wright Brewster

Video Game Sneak Peek - The Last of Us

Bout of Books 7.0 Goals and Updates

Shepard is Meeeelting - a very funny Mass Effect glitch that I just had to share!

New Goodies:


The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
Oxfam find!

Writing the Other, by Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward
Something to help me with my own writing and
to help me see things from different perspectives.

Life in the UK Test handbook and guide.
These are for my husband. I've added them here
because I thought I might flick through them myself and
review them. I wonder how many British people ever
read these. Will be interesting to find out the things
I am apparently expected to know!

Other Stuff:

Bout of Books begins tomorrow! :-)


Bout of Books 7.0 Goals and Updates

Woohoo, Bout of Books starts tomorrow! So here are my goals for the read-a-thon, and check back here for updates throughout the week too.

Not sure what Bout of Books is? It's an event run by Amanda from On a Book Bender, and Kelly from Reading the Paranormal, in which participants challenge themselves to read as much as they can over a week. There are twitter chats, mini-challenges, prizes and lots of fun! Find out more about it here.


- Finish The Night Circus and at least one other book (and hopefully more, but I have a lot of work this week and want to set an easy goal so that I don't stress myself!)
- Catch up on some cross-posting of reviews.
- Visit as many participating blogs as I can.
- Take part in at least two mini-challenges.
- Join in at least one of the Twitter chats.
- Have fun!

Books I'm Aiming to Read/Start

These are the books I'd like to choose from, and get as many read as I can. My goal is to finish The Night Circus and at least one other. Five books should give me plenty of choice, but I'll probably end up picking something completely different anyway!


Monday: Very good first day, finished The Night Circus and took part in the Twitter chat (which was CRAZY - so many people!), and completed the book spine poem mini-challenge. So I'm already a good way through my goals. Yay for easy goals! :-)

- Read: Finished The Night Circus. 32% through Any Other Name by Emma Newman.
- Mini-Challenge: Completed!

Tuesday: I had a busy day, but decided to go internet-free for the evening and wow, did I get a lot of reading done! Steaming ahead with this read-a-thon... this can't last! xD

- Read: Finished Any Other Name

Wednesday: Today's reading wasn't quite so epic, but I did have A LOT of fun with the mini-challenge! :-D

- Read: Up to page 134 in Poison, by Sarah Pinborough.
- Mini-Challenge: Completed!

Thursday: Was feeling a bit head-achey all day, but didn't manage to curl up with a book until quite late. Still, managed to finish Poison (which is a very short book) and now I'm onto my FOURTH book! Woo! That's very good for me, and I think this is now officially my most productive read-a-thon ever.

- Read: Finished Poison, and began Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (up to page 26).
- Mini-Challenge: Completed!

Friday: Okay, today was a terrible day for reading. Think I burned myself out a bit and needed a video game night instead. Progress was made on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, not so much on Angelmaker! I'm not sure tomorrow will be a lot better, what with Doctor Who and Eurovision distractions. Eurovision! I'm so excited! :-D John's making a trip out for snacks and party food right now...

- Read: Er, about 10 pages I think! Let's see... oh, a bit better than that. 22 pages. >_< Angelmaker is very weird but very intriguing so far. I love Bastion!

Saturday: After a frustrating day trying to fix an issue with my computer, I finally got it working... just in time for the twitter chat! Yay! The chat was really fun, and have discovered some new Twitter friends and blogs thanks to it. :-) Then it was Doctor Who, Eurovision, and far too much party food. A really fun afternoon/evening, but not very productive for the reading!

- Read: To page 99 of Angelmaker.
- Mini-Challenge: Completed!

Sunday: I ended up writing for most of the day - almost 5000 words done on my story, which is pretty good for one day for me. Must be something about a read-a-thon that makes me want to write... :-) Consequently, didn't get a lot read, but it was definitely worth it!

- Read: To page130 of Angelmaker.
- Mini-Challenge: Completed!

And that's it! Read-a-thon over. It was a lot of fun, and I got more reading done than I thought I would. I met most of my goals, and took part in most of the mini-challenges. Yay! Whether you joined in this time or not, hope to see you in August for the next one! :-)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Shepard is Meeeeelting - Mass Effect Glitch

My husband is currently on a mission to replay all the Mass Effect games and DLC in order. Fun stuff. Until, that is, we came across the Terrifying Mass Effect Glitch From Hell.

At first, Matriarch Benezia knocks Shepard down with her biotic powers. We laughed as he just lay there, watching Liara and Tali do all the work. We thought this was the extent of this particular glitch. But then... then we started to notice that Shepard was looking a little odd. Trying to push himself into one of those back-breaking poses that female superheroes do? Or perhaps slowly melting into a little puddle on the floor...

And then stretching...

And stretching...

And stretching...

And... oh god! :-(

What is this? The true, horrifying result of synthesis? Some new alien lifeform emerging, and using Shepard as a host? Proof that you don't mess with the asari?

Whatever it is, I'm not sure I can ever look at my husband's Shep in the same way again.