Posted in discussion, review

Is The Creakers Musical Edition Worth It?

Following the success of The Christmasaurus Musical Edition, of which my review can found here, Tom Fletcher continues this new tradition of pairing music and his children’s fiction with the creation of The Creakers Musical Edition. 

20190502_124147

The children of Whiffington wake up one day to find that all of the adults have disappeared. While they take this wonderful opportunity to run rampant, no longer confined by rules, eventually the novelty wears off. The protagonist, Lucy, is determined to find out what happened to all the parents and her investigation leads to the discovery of a ghastly world under her bed belonging to monsters called “the creakers.”

The book comes in with a CD which is stuck on the other side of the front cover’s hole (don’t worry, removing it for use doesn’t’ affect the visual of the cover as there’s an inside page which fills in the gap with the same image!). You simply puts this CD into whatever device they wish to use and begins to read. As you travel through the story, little prompts appear at the side of the page which indicate when it’s time to play one of ten tracks.

20190502_124234

The format itself is quite simply brilliant because it combines the two things Tom Fletcher is really good at: writing and music. For existing readers, it’s a way to reread with an additional element breathing new life into the story. For new readers, it’s a way to enjoy the book in an elevated way.

Initially, it can feel like ten songs is a bit excessive but the gaps between them are just big enough that you get invested in the characters on their own and when a musical number rolls around it’s a exciting surprise.

So, is The Creakers Musical Edition worth it? Absolutely. It’s such a unique experience that both adults and children can enjoy together. However, I do prefer The Christmasaurus Musical Edition but this is purely down to the fact that I get more excited about the prospect of christmas than the prospect of monsters hiding under my bed.

20190502_124201

Posted in discussion

My Reading Has Changed…

blog

I’ve been living in my new home for over a month now and I finally feel like I’m starting to be settled in the new routines I’ve created for myself. Spending so much time at my new job means that reading has taken a bit of a back seat. No matter how many times I come home with the intention of curling up in a blanket with a book, there always seems to be something more important that ends up stealing my free time.

At my new work place, we’re allowed to listen to things via our headphones while we type away at our daily tasks. So I’ve taken to listening to more audiobooks than the single one every month. In fact, nearly all my reading now is done in audio form.

There’s many discussions constantly being had over whether audiobooks are considered “reading” and that’s a whole other blog post. But at the end of the day, you’re still experiencing the same story. Would you tell a child being read to at bed time that they’re not actually reading?

However, this change in my reading life has left me feeling cast adrift. I’m contemplating ending my “audiobook of the month” feature since most of my reading is now in this format. It doesn’t feel right to continue it and then every review surrounding that segment be me talking about audiobooks and what I thought of the subsequent narrators. I’ve also been tackling a lot with the guilt of not sitting down and reading for hours on end the way that I used to do. But the truth is that my life has changed in a big way and I’m having to adjust to accommodate that. And I have no reason to be guilty. The only person my reading affects directly is me. It should matter whether I am reading and if I’m enjoying it, not necessarily the legal format I’m doing it in.

It’s going to be a long journey to accepting this new chapter (pardon the pun), but it’s one I think I’m ready to start accepting.

How do you read?
Have you ever experienced reading guilt?

Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

A Conversation With K.M.Robinson

author photo

When I was first introduced to K.M.Robinson she was a social media guru teaching classes on the best ways for authors to utilize online platforms, along with growing her photography portfolio. Since then she has not only become a dear friend of mine, but gone on to grow an empire of books. As she continues to grow her fanbase, her knew Aladdin retelling marks the 23rd addition to her catalogue. I had the pleasure of getting to sit down and talk with her about books, advice for aspiring authors, and all things fairy tale.

For those who aren’t familiar with you and your books. Tell us about you!

I’m K.M. Robinson, author of retellings, dystopians, sci fi, fantasy, mermaid, cyberpunk, and steampunk novels. I’m also a social media marketing strategist who teaches entrepreneurs to to build profitable brands through smart social media strategy, and a professional photographer. I’m super friendly on social media and have created an incredible tribe of fans that I like to traumatize with my books. They’ve actually made support groups to get through some of them. It’s pretty awesome!

Your “trademark” has become writing fairy tale retellings. What is is about this genre that keeps you writing within it?

There are so many stories to tell and so many ways to write them. I’ve already written certain characters, but I still have two/three/four more ideas for different versions of their stories with other characters involved. All I have  to do is wonder what would happen if I dropped a certain character in a different setting and suddenly we have a brand new series. It’s an incredibly wide world with so much wiggle room. I can’t get enough! I also really like learning the “true” stories of these characters; the parts history forgot to tell us or flat out lied about.

wdusbja

3.) You also shoot your own photography for/design your own covers. Was this a conscious decision or happy accident? 

I was a photographer first and many of my photo series inspired my writing, so it’s always something on my list of priorities when discussing contracts with publishers. I’ve taken a lot of time to study the industry and really know what sells for covers and what doesn’t. So when other authors/publishers started asking me to design for them as well, it was a natural transition. I really love being able to do most of my own covers because I can bring my stories to life in a way others wouldn’t be able to.

You’re very active on social media especially with instagram livestreams. Do you feel that social media is a significant tool aspiring writers need to make use of?

Absolutely. Social media is the best way to marker yourself and your products as a brand/business owner. It’s something all entrepreneurs (and that’s what an author is) need to learn as early as possible: Studying the algorithms, knowing what the platforms value to make such we get as much as a reach as possible, learning how to engage with people on the platforms, and studying how to create valuable content is essential. A lot of people see it as work but it’s such a fun way to connect with people and make new fans/friends. I adore studying social media and learning how to work with it. I’ve made so many new fans and great business connections just from being friendly and chatting with people – it’s great.

rgfvdcx

Out of the many books you’ve written, is there a particular that’s your favourite?

My debut Golden, and my second book Jaded are definitely my favourite. I’v also really fallen in love with Sugarcoated. Strong leading ladies, assassination attempts, really cute guys. I love them!

What are some of your favourite fairy tale retellings?

The very first retelling that really stuck with me was The True Stories Of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. It’s a picture book I read back in elementary school that told the story of how the Big Bad Wolf wasn’t actually bad and the little pigs were less than awesome. 

The idea that we might not actually know the true story-or the full story- really intrigued me. What if other stories were told like that? What if the villains weren’t actually villains? What if the heroes/victors lied? The “what if” questions led me to start looking for the second side to every story and really left this burning passion for me to discover more about the fairy tales I knew and loved. They’re directly responsible for me writing Golden, my Goldilocks and the Three Bears retelling. The rest is history. 

book cover

Tell us about your new book!

Lions And Lamps is a steampunk Aladdin retelling. It pulls a lot more from the original Aladdin story (which was Chinese) rather than the version Disney did. My Aladdin lives with his mother after his father was murdered last year. His evil uncle, Kacper, is now trying to drive a wedge between Aladdin and his mother because he wants to look good in front of his sister-in-law now that his brother is dead. 

Cyra was an orphan who was taken in by the Governor seven years ago and trained to steal an airship in a competition that only he had advanced knowledge of. Last year, Cyra stole the airship and won, but this year she’s sneaking into the competition against the Governor’s wishes. 

When Aladdin and Cyra meet, sparks fly but not in a good way. There’s a lot of betrayal and back stabbing and a genie with an agenda. 

I’m so excited that its now out in the world, traumatizing my readers once more. Wait, did I say that out loud? Oops. 

All of K.M.Robinson’s books are available on E-book and from Amazon. She’s also hosting a sale of covers she’s designed for author use which is on until Tuesday 16th April and more information about that can be found here here.

K.M.Robinson can be found at:

 

Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

I Got A Library Card (Again)

“Libaries are the thin red line between civilization and barbarism.” – Neil Gaiman

library

So I’ve recently undergone a really big life change. I have now moved out of my parents’ house (for good this time) and moved back to my favourite city. I’m now permanently surrounded about my favourite people in the world, and I’ve started a new job in an industry that makes me a paid writer! Naturally, everything is overwhelming having to tick things off multiple lists and when it came to sorting out what various services I need to register with, the first one that popped to my mind was “libraries.”

I fell back in love with libraries a few years ago when financial pressures meant that I had to cut back on many things that were considered a luxury, and sadly one of those was buying books. I just adore the feeling of being handed that little card that is essentially the key to endless worlds and magic.

Expanding technology means that libraries services now extend to E-Books and E-Audiobooks which is simply mind-blowing to me that now a tiny app can give me access to different formats of books available across all the libraries in my area. E-Audiobooks are sure to come in handy as my switch to full time work means that I won’t have much time to kick back and physically read much anymore. But I love that these new developments also mean I don’t have to worry about rushing to the library before it closes to make sure I return my loans on time. I can just take out my phone, scroll along and pick my next read. Maybe this way I will also avoid those pesky book sales and not end up rebuying the same amount of books that I just donated to charity!

Do you have a library card?

If so, what’s your favourite things about libraries? And have you found any gems recently?

Posted in adaptations, discussion

Book To Movie Talk | The Miseducation Of Cameron Post

23ca5a7b4dcd5211f935a7e58711c290_300x442

*This post contains spoilers*

The first time I heard about The Miseducation Of Cameron Post was on Twitter the day after it won the highest honour – the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize- at Sundance Festival. The person who had posted about the announcement tagged on their own declaration of “why is nobody talking about the fact that a YA adapation with a female/female relationship in just won the biggest award at this massive film festival?” And rightfully so: why exactly was no one talking about it? This lead to discussions in the online book community about the differences in how YA stories with Queer female relationships are marketed in comparision to Queer male relationships. When the film finally had the rights bought off the back of its big win, I eagerly picked up the book – of the same name- by Emily M. Danforth and started to read. Sadly, the limited showings meant there wasn’t one in the vicinity and so I was left waiting for a DVD release. Imagine my surprise when I logged on to my Netflix account to see it staring right back at me.

The Miseducation Of Cameron Post follows a girl  called Cameron who is sent to a christian gay conversion institution after being caught having a sexual moment with her female best friend, Coley Taylor.

The book is told in linear and spends over 300 pages delving into Cameron’s family life and how her relationship with Coley starts to blossom. Over half of the book is done before Cameron even steps foot into the center whereas the movie is entirely set in this place, using flashbacks to filter in the backstory the viewer needs. I absolutely understand why this conscious decision was made. Films have time constraints and with a 500 page book being turned into a 90 minute film, of course amendments will happen. I ended up loving both the book and its adaptation for different reasons. I like the angle of the movie and how it leaves a lot of things open to interpretation; instead focusing mainly on the moment Cameron and Coley got caught as a return point throughout. It feels a lot more present. I also love the book for the depth of backstory given and how readers grow to love and care for Cameron that when she ends up being sent away it feels like the reader is experiencing the betrayal too.

The only real issue that I had with this film comes down to the framing that, coincidentally, I just praised. Cameron links her parents death to  her first kiss with Coley and punishes herself a lot for it as religion plays a part in her daily life. Cameron is given a lot more sexually and Coley doesn’t want anything in return which builds up a cycle of constant rejection the protagonist feels, there’s Cameron’s boyfriend Jamie; all of which don’t play a part in the movie. Cameron becomes more of someone who thinks the system is rubbish than something who takes the process seriously. I just felt that a lot of what makes her such a well-rounded, detailed character was lost in that translation.

0_RZdVWNLld2S3ncoi

While I went into this experience slightly biased as I pictured Cameron as Chloe Grace Moretz, she does an amazing job of holding the film together. Every scene she’s in has the viewer hanging on her every word and movement and the emotional scenes had my heart just aching. I’ve seen a few of Chloe’s films and this is definitely one of her best performances. The surrounding cast is also perfect. Sasha Lane as Jane Fonda and Forrest Goodluck as Adam were just wonderful at bringing the side actors to life; to created that outlet for Cameron to talk to someone who was on her side without fear of repercussions and their friendship felt natural; like one of those destined to last for years to come. A personal favourite for me with Erin played by Emily Skegg. I adored Erin in the books and it was impossible not to feel for Emily’s potrayal of this character so desperate not to admit that she’s struggling.

The bitter pill to swallow with this story is the realisation that gay conversation places still exist. It makes the particularly graphic book scene with Mark (which is very toned down in the film) have even more weight to it than just a fictional character viewers have grown attached to, A lot of the film is centered more in what isn’t said than what is; creating a depth of its own.

Aside for characters, the cinematography is gorgeous and the lingering frames allow plenty of time of time for viewers to feel familiar with the surroundings. The screenplay is so well crafted that scenes just flow into each other perfectly and when the film reaches its conclusion, there’s a sense that something really special has been put out into the world.

The Miseducation Of Cameron Post is a gem I will continue thinking about for a long time.

guvk

 

 

 

Posted in discussion

In Defense Of Cedric Diggory

“Cedric was a person who exemplified many of the qualities which distinguish Hufflepuff house.” – Dumbledore

Goblet-of-Fire-Cedric-Diggory-Screencaps-cedric-diggory-17334873-1920-800

*This post contains massive spoilers for the Potter series and Cursed Child*

I am a proud Hufflepuff and an unapologetic lover of Cedric Diggory – it’s probably the worst kept secret about me. Over the years it’s continued to annoy me to see Cedric Diggory dumbed down to a “plot device” because he briefly appears in Prisoner of Azkaban and becomes a main player in Goblet Of Fire. So it’s time for me to set the record straight.

Cedric Diggory was a perfect at Hogwarts, captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team and also the seeker, and he put his own name forward to take part in the Triwizard Tournament.

Despite being a Triwizard Tournament rival, Cedric tells his supporters to stop with the “Potter Sticks/Support Cedric Diggory” badges that being to circulate during the trials, gives Harry a major tip on how to solve the golden egg clue, was one of the few people to actually be kind to Harry when his name comes out of the cup, and when they both reached the end of the maze in the final trial he doesn’t steal the glory and agrees that they should win together.

When it comes to the graveyard scene in Little Hangleton, Cedric never hesitated to lift his wand to protect them both even though he had no idea the threat they were facing.

Cedric has lasting impact on Harry in particular: Harry essentially suffers PTSD for months in Order Of The Phoenix and it’s a big theory among many Potter fans that Cedric is the reason Harry is able to see thestrals. As said by J.K.Rowling herself (whether we take her word on aspects of Potter is a different discussion altogether) that merely witnessing death is not enough to be able to see them: for example Harry saw his parents die but was too young to understand what was happening, and Harry doesn’t see the thestrals for the first time until the fifth book. Along with this, the trauma around Cedric’s death is carried by Harry for years: (again another discussion altogether but) in Cursed Child Harry shows Albus Cedric’s grave and talks about how he comes and visits him every year to pay his respects because he never wants to forget that Cedric was one of Voldermort’s many victims.

Cedric Diggory really did portray the many traits associated with Hufflepuff mainly his kindness: when Hufflepuff win the quidditch match against Gryffindor by default when Harry is attacked by the dementors, Cedric demands that the match be replayed as he didn’t think their win was fair, however he is overruled.

I could go on for hours and pages about my love for Cedric but I’m going to level it here for now!

Who are some of your favourite underrated characters?

 

Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

A Cover Is Not The Book

Recently, I went to see Mary Poppins Returns in the cinema and I absolutely loved every single second of it. But among all the familiarity, the contrast of colours and the pure magic weaved into its story, one song in particular stuck out to me.

The song is called “A Cover Is Not The Book” and tackles the topic of how really you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because then you’ll be surprised and find that your preconceptions were actually quite wrong. It got me thinking about some books I’ve come across where I wasn’t that enamored with the cover but, whether through knowledge of the author or hearing many good things, I decided to continue on and see what happens.

So here’s a list, in no particular order, of books where I hated the covers, but really loved the story:

The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

great gatsby

Did you really think this would be the year where I didn’t mention The Great Gatsby at any given opportunity? One of my favourite books of all time but has a truly appalling original cover. Of course, like with many classics, there are many different editions out there but I chose to stick with the original as this was the cover of the copy I read. It was purely because of the 2013 adaption that I picked this book up so that I could experience the story for myself. Little did I know that the glitz and glamour of 1920’s parties, luscious prose and complex, intoxicating characters would have me coming back for many a reread.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare 

city of bones

I promise that this list isn’t going to include all my favourite books! Another book that I picked up because of an upcoming film adaptation, City of Bones was a game changer for me.  After devouring this book and its subsequent partners, I took a shift in my reading life to YA fantasy and also realised it was the kind of stuff that I wanted to write more of. A tale packed full of half angel- half human individuals battling demons in a world of warlocks, vampires and werewolves. There sure is something for everyone.

A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi 

y648

A Very Large Expanse of Sea made it onto my list of favourite books for last year. It follows a Muslim teenager called Shirin as she tackles school and wider society a year on from the events of 9/11. She is an incredible well-rounded character with so many layers to her than what those see around her, and I actually really liked the romance in it. The cover itself, however, I just found a bit bland. I get the effect of showing the reflection in water but I feel that it’s just too simplistic.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab 

9781407192765

Victoria Schwab is an auto-buy author for me so most of the time I pick up her books not really knowing that much about them. City of Ghosts is a prime example of the US cover being infinitely better than the UK cover. I just really don’t like the way the red and black blend together and it makes it actually hurt my eyes to look at. The story, however, is fantastic. It’s about a girl who can see ghosts and sometimes step into the veil to the other side. It will appeal greatly to fans of Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

wonder

Again, another one where I feel that the cover is a bit too simple. But the story is outstanding, and turned into an equally amazing film adaptation. It’s about a boy called August with a facial disfigurement who starts his first year in public school after being home schooled. It’s multiple perspective which works really well to see into the minds of other characters and how they view August. It’s a tearjerker, so make sure you have tissues handy.

So that’s my list! What are some books that you loved but didn’t like the cover?

Alternatively, what are some of your favourite book covers?

 

 

Posted in discussion

Favourite Books Of The Year | 2018

The arrival of a brand new reading year means that it is time to reflect back on the many stories I consumed in 2018. Sadly, it is not a year will miss as I spent most of it in a big old slump. More often than not, I’d find a gem I adored, finish it and be left thinking “now what?” So, while those standouts were few and far between, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of a place on this list.

The Extinction Trials: Books 1 &2 by S.M.Wilson

Yes, it’s cheeky to start my summary with two books not only from the same author, but from the same series. But it’s my list and I make the rules!

The Extinction Trials tells the tale of two continents: one inhabited by humans and the other by dinosaurs. The human continent is vastly overpopulated and vital supplies such as healthcare are in short supply. Every year citizens are invited to volunteer to take part in a series of trials to prove that they are worthy of being sent to the dinosaur continent, Pilora, in search of more sustainable resources. Stormchaser and Lincoln both have their reasons for joining the cause.

This book is just so vivid and well written with an incredible cast of characters, all of which you can sympathize with. Oh, and of course dinosaurs. Lots and lots of dinosaurs.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

yfuj

A book that would have completely passed me by if it wasn’t shoved into my hands by a friend, How To Stop Time follows a man who has a rare condition meaning that he has been alive for centuries. Every few years he is forced to change everything in his life in order to avoid detection, while also searching for his missing daughter who also has the same condition.

A beautiful, though-provoking read that tackles history and importance of identity, wrapped up in breath-taking prose.

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James 

loneliest-girl

Sci-fi is a genre that I have tried many times to dip my toes into but just don’t get on with. However, I kept hearing a lot of buzz in the YA community about this book. So I went into the reading experience hoping it would prove me wrong, and boy it did.

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe follows teenage girl Romy as she flies a spaceship to a new Earth in the hopes of starting new life. Besides the mundane ship maintenance she carries out every day, her existence revolves around the emails she receives – a year after they were sent- from a woman at Nasa.

It’s isolating, character driven brilliance and I found myself sharing Romy’s excitement every time she got the notification that a new message had arrived. I still think about this book every day.

Paper Girls: Volume 1  by Brian K.Vaughan and Cliff Chiang 

9781632156747

Another genre I’ve always struggled with is graphic novels. It’s such a big intimidating corner of the bookstore and I always feel like other shoppers can tell that I clearly don’t know what I’m doing or looking at. But one day I noticed this face out on the shelf and something about the cover just made me go “yes please!” I started reading and knew I had to buy it; despite being skeptical that it was by the same writer of Saga which I hated.

Paper Girls is… well about a group of paper round girls in the eighties who come together on a night when all manner of weird things begin to happen. I love all their different personalities and the artwork is simply gorgeous!

A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi 

y648

Tahereh’s step into YA contemporary sees her putting a lot of her experiences as a fashion obsessed, breakdancing muslim teenager into the character of Shirin. The story takes place a year after the events of 9/11 and documents the shift in how she is perceived in the world.

Shirin is an amazingly well-rounded character and while I can’t relate directly to her story, I felt so hard for her when she opens up to the reader about what she expects from those around her. So imagine her surprise when a rather attractive boy called Ocean (yes, Ocean) starts paying an interest in her.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve felt such a weight of emotion in my chest finishing a book. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book and wanted to read it again straight away.

So there you have it! That’s my round up of 2018.
Did any of your books make my list?
What were some of your standouts?

Posted in discussion

Charlotte Reads Things | An Update

I’ve been working on CharlotteReadsThings for a few years now and I’ve entered a bookish world that I didn’t know existed prior. I’ve made amazing blogger friendships, delved into books I would have otherwise missed, and found an outlet to share my love for some on my favourite stories.

I’m a big planner and with my blog it’s no different. I like to schedule in advance; to know that no matter how busy the rest of my life is, at least my posts will go up on time. Those regular to my blog will know that review days are a Tuesday and discussion posts are a Saturday. Sadly, that is about to change.

Over the past year I’ve not kept to any reading challenges because previously I stressed about meeting targets and reading became more of a chore. This year I hit a reading slump in March that I haven’t been able to shift since. The review posts you normally get are books I read sometimes three months prior due to how far in advance I’m working. But as this year is coming to a close, I’m very aware that I’m only planned till the end of January and then there’s nothing. I’ve been busy and distracted and the slump is now affecting my actual reading, not just my enjoyment of books. I’ve stupidly stressed and I’ve cried about the idea of falling behind on something that is essentially just a hobby.

So, things are changing. My Audiobook Of The Month will continue monthly, I’m planning a writing series (so if you have anything you want me to talk about then let me know!), and I will still be posting reviews though it will be more of an as and when I finish.

I need to learn to enjoy reading again. And I hope you all understand and support me in the upcoming changes.

Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

Visting Charles Dickens

20181020_125720

Despite holding an English Literature degree, I’ve never really connected with any classic literature. The exception to that rule is Charles Dickens. I can’t quite explain what it is about his writing that whisks me off to another world, or why I find myself so fascinated with his life outside of writing, but it’s the way I’ve been wired ever since I studied Great Expectations in High School for exams.

Recently I took a visit to London for some theatre shows and, of course, I had to take a stop by the Charles Dickens museum at 48 Doughty Street. In 1837-1839, Charles Dickens used this house as a base as his popularity with his writing began to soar. During his time there, he wrote well-known works such as Oliver Twist.

20181020_134321

For £9.50, guests get to explore the various rooms that Dickens, his family, and his servants occupied. While likely biased, I found it well worth the money as you’re given a free guide that gives information and there are plenty of plaques around giving out a plethora of knowledge, a lot of which I didn’t have prior.  I was able to see the reading table Dickens used in his public performances, the desk he wrote some of his books at, the copyright contracts with his authors, what his books looked like in serial form, and some of the belongings from his main residence in Kent.

It was overwhelming to climb the stairs knowing that one of my favourite authors once lived and breathed here and I felt incredibly close to him. It was as if the years were rolling away and I was alongside him in the 1800s, in the hustle and bustle of a middle-class home.

I find these aspects of history so mind-blowing: that we have record, to an extent, of people who lived hundreds of years before we were born and these traces in the present day showed that they once existed. That, even though they have long since left the world, their memories and stories can live on forever; as long as people keep sharing them.

20181020_131312