Posted in discussion

The End Of Charlottereadsthings

I started this blog because I needed a place to talk about books to my heart’s content. I felt like I didn’t really have many people I could talk about endlessly with, and through this blog I found an amazing community of people who cared about the same stories as me and adored the same characters. Over the years I’ve shared discussions, thoughts on book to movie adaptations, and the more generic loves.

But with big changes in my life, my reading has changed a lot. I started to feel pressured to write a reviews on books I’d been indifferent on just so that I could make sure I had a new review up every Tuesday. I became exhausted and upset when I couldn’t think of anything more discussion based to talk about because I was having a hard time keeping up with the community. I was also scared that if I stopped, the online friends I’ve made would dwindle away.

I needed to make the best decision for my mental and physical health and that is, as you’ve guessed by the title, is to end this blog. I’ve had a truly wonderful time and I hope my posts have made at least one person happy. It breaks my heart to bring this chapter of my life to a close, but I am just not as passionate as I was before. I will continue bookish updates on other social media platforms; there will still be fully fledged reviews on my Goodreads but they just won’t be as consist as you may be used to from me.

It’s been fun, but now it’s time to say goodbye.

Charlotte x

Posted in discussion

Knowing When To Quit On A Book

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I took a very long time for me to feel comfortable not finishing a book. As a writer myself, and in the age of social media where famous authors are easily accessible, I know only too well how much effort goes into crafting a story. I felt, as a reader, I owed it to them to read every single page, even if I didn’t particularly enjoy it. As you can expect, it negatively impacted my reading life and often I had spells where I didn’t want to read at all. Statistically 50 pages is the “make or break” point where people give up on a book. Often I would far exceed that point.

Eventually I reached a point where my current read was something I hated so much. So I made the leap and tossed it aside. You know what happened? Nothing. The world didn’t stop turning. The book didn’t set on fire. I simply move on. I will happily disown a book a few chapters in, and when it comes to audiobooks a bad narrator can make me give up after just a few minutes.

By giving up on a book I don’t like, I’m making the journey to one I love that little bit shorter.

Do you give up on books?
How long does it take before you decide a book isn’t for you?

 

Posted in discussion

When A Book From Your Favourite Author Misses The Mark

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We all have writers that we’d die for. We spend hours in queues with armful books waiting for that memorable encounter, we buy endless editions of their books, feel close to them on social media platforms. But what happens when you don’t like a book from them?

Learning as much as I have over the past few years about the best ways to support authors, it’s no surprise that number one is… actually buying their books. I’ve had many instances of starting a new book from an author I love with every fibre of my being, only to really not enjoy it at all. I’ve watched all the five star ratings roll in feeling like I’ve completely missed something, when really it was just the simple fact that the story wasn’t for me. Big name authors are not exempt from this: every book from F.Scott Fitzgerald that isn’t The Great Gatsby, V.E.Schwab’s This Savage Song, even The Magisterium Series which is co-written by Cassandra Clare hasn’t managed to avoid this issue.

I did a whole separate blog post about how even old favourites have fallen prey to this revelation. Books that I once screamed from the rooftops about are now stuck with 3 star ratings, others I couldn’t finish because I didn’t want my old memories of them to be sullied by my lack of enjoyment.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that the way to show the authors I love how much they mean to me is by… well… what I’m doing right now: talking about them and promoting them at every opportunity. Because if I love them, there’s sure to be other readers out there that will too.

Are there any books from beloved authors that you didn’t like? Are there any you wish you loved because of the hype?

Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

Outgrowing Favourites

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The reason I love books so much is because they’re almost like time capsules. I can take any mound of paper off my shelves and tell you the story behind it. Not just the magic woven into the pages, but my story; the story of who I was when I bought that book, the milestones it marked. The collectors edition of Divergent was a reward to myself for handing my in dissertation which marked the end of my university degree, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story helped me see the light when I didn’t want to live any more, City Of Bones made me realise that writing YA fantasy is where my talents lie. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Like every other reader on the planet, I have favourite books. While I am very much a “I love it or I’m indifferent to it” person when it comes to all types of creative art, when I say a book is my favourite I really mean it with the very core of my being. Those books are have massive sentimental value as well as maybe being a big turning point in a series, or something significant happened that I come back to time and time again only to receive that same joyous rush as if it’s the first time I’m reading it. However, we never stay the same person forever and, as a result, we never stay the same reader. Genres that once enticed us no longer fill up with excitement, plot threads we once loved are now deemed wildly problematic once viewed with an adult perspective. So what happens when books that used to be our favourites no longer are? Trust me, if I’d worked out the solution, I’d be a millionaire from selling vials of the stuff.

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself gravitating back to old favourites and then leaving the experiences slightly terrified that they didn’t have the same impact. Shatter Me, which I last read in 2015, I rated 5 stars and boldly claimed it was the best YA dystopian I’d read. Revisiting it recently led me to drop that rating to 3 stars because I just didn’t connect with the story and the characters as much as before. I never understood why non-fans of Cassandra Clare said her writing was so bad in The Mortal Instruments series until I reread City Of Bones and noticed the issues in the writing even though it was her debut and she’s improved dramatically since then. That series has a massive place in my heart because it was the first time I’d seen bisexual representation in a book. It meant the world to me and yet, I don’t think I can ever go back to that particular series. Sure I can consume the new stories, but it won’t be the same for the old. I tried to read The Book Of Lost Things which I’d declared one of my favourite books of all time, only to bow out of it at the 100 page mark because I wasn’t enjoying it anywhere near as much and didn’t want my memories of what it felt like to read it the first time be tainted.

Admittedly, it’s left me afraid to reread any other favourites in case I pick them off one by one. But I guess the empty spaces left behind are opportunities for new books to take over.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Posted in adaptations, discussion

I Saw Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

“At it’s heart, we hope that the play reflects the beauty of theatre – the simple art of storytelling in its purest form.”

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[Note: For the sake of #keepthesecrets this is a spoiler free review]

Like pretty much every Harry Potter fan on the planet, when the script was released for the “eighth story”, I drowned in a sea of nostalgia as I sat and consumed the entire thing in the intended four hours. J.K.Rowling had spent many years eluding the character’s fates beyond the historic “nineteen years later” but nothing had ever been imortalised in ink. But after the rush of emotions at new Potter content subsided and I took the time to really process it, I found a lot of issues with it. In fact, I really didn’t like it at all. A lot of things felt cheap to me, like they’d been thrown in for fan service; and I was not alone as many other Potter fans expressed how it felt like fan fiction, while others defended it by saying it was intended to be seen, not read. So I cast it aside, making my jokes here and there, until my friend discovered that the £20 per part tickets I’d thought were tied to the “Friday Fourty” lottery were in fact purchasable through regular means. At £40 in total, despite my reservations, I said yes.

We were fortunate enough to get a two show day, meaning we saw Part One in the afternoon, followed by Part Two in the evening. Cheap seats get you the cheap views, so we were right up the balcony at the very top, with limited leg room and some restricted viewing. It got a tad annoying when people leaned forward for parts of scenes/actor placement at the front of stage and my view became restricted even more, but with the familiarity of the actors voices, and a prior knowledge of the show, I was able to still follow it when they were obscured.

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There are parts of the plot that I fully accept, don’t get me wrong (Harry’s PTSD is dealt with fantastically, Albus dealing with the pressure of a famous father, Albus & Scorpius’ friendship) but many aspects directly damage the original Potter series in terms of the timeline of events. And it’s something I’ve never been quite able to get past.

I tried to put these reservations aside going in because so many people I know who have seen the show said the visuals are incredible. Harry Potter And The Cursed Child has won more awards, just in London alone, than I can count and has been praised endlessly for its technical uses and staging. This love is very much well placed. The stage has to work for TWO separate plays and with the number of sets and plots, it blows my mind that this play does eight shows a week but half of them are different to the others. The magic never felt cheap or overused to satisfy its pre-existing audience; with the use of many familiar spells it felt right at home in the piece. So many scenes and little tricks had my jaw practically on the floor. While the books had your imagination, and the films had magic added in post, stage has nowhere to hide. And minus a very very small number due to the angle of our seats, I am totally convinced it’s all real magic. The technical, stage and visual effects are so expertly done that it’s smooth and slick. The people involved in bringing that to life deserve every good word and possible award. Part of me really wants to know how it was achieved, but the other part of me wants to blissfully continue as if what I witnessed was all real.

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Sadly, I found the acting quite weak. I think a lot of this is to do with the fact that characters such as Harry Potter are so well known through their previous portrayals that, even with new material, its really hard to deviate and put your own spin on it because fans are expecting what they already know. The new characters felt freer because there isn’t anything placed upon them. No one could tell them they’re “doing it wrong” because… well… it’s never been done before. The absolute standout for me in both parts was Jonathan Chase as Scorpius Malfoy. His delivery was just perfect and his timing often had me chuckling away in my seat and he was able to give a convincing emotional performance when needed. He was an absolute delight, but everyone around him just felt a little off.

I’m glad I took the opportunity to experience the story as it was intended to be seen, but it just didn’t make me feel how Potter normally does. I fully appreciate the amount of work, both on and off stage, that goes into continually making this the success it is. The show has no shortage of fans who love it, I just happen to not be one of those people.

Posted in discussion

Why I Love Audiobooks

“Some critics — the always tiresome Harold Bloom among them — claim that listening to audiobooks isn’t reading. I couldn’t disagree more. In some ways, audio perfects reading.” – Stephen King

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As UK print sales continue to slowly dwindle, and audio sales continue to soar, there’s no denying it: people are changing the way they read. With so many audiobook specialist services cropping up, and Audible famously dominating the market, the exclusivity from these platforms has listeners old and new spoiled for choice.

Audiobooks have a childhood nostalgia for me. My main exposure to them was having the bulky CD boxes stuffed in the glove compartment on a long car journey for the school holidays. Normally they’d be the latest Artemis Fowl or something of a similar ilk. More often than not I’d sit in the back of the car reading along with the book as the narrator weaved the story. I lost touch over the years with the format, but more recently, I’ve fallen back in love with them.

However, with the rising popularity comes a lot of criticism. With columnists rising in their droves to label people who listen to audiobooks as “lazy”, I thought I’d take some time to talk about why I love the format so much.

ACCESSIBILITY

Did you know that audiobooks were initially created for blind readers? It’s true! In the 1930s they were known as “talking books” and growing technology allowed them to be distributed in cassette form. While mass consumption over the years has allowed for more investment and innovation, it’s important to remember the origins and the history being attacked when those choose to voice their distaste of the format. For some story lovers, there isn’t the option to just “pick up a real book.” Reading is inclusive in so many ways and we should champion that rather than trying to score points.

CONVENIENCE

Yes, I’m following up with something immediately counteracting previous points.  While I truly miss the endless days when I could be snuggled up on the sofa for hours on end reading, the reality of adult life means that sometimes other things need to take bigger priority. As a result, often when I have that time to read I’m just too tired to focus on the words. I recently did a blog post about how my reading has changed and how my main source of reading is audio based. If it wasn’t for this format, I would not be reading now. In a full time office job I can fly through many books while going about my daily business without feeling the guilt of missing out on new stories.

“Audio is merciless. It exposes every bad sentence, half-baked metaphor, and lousy word choice.” – Stephen King

LISTENING IS MAGIC

There’s something about listening to a story being told that adds this special feeling that I just cannot really explain. If it’s a beautifully poetic book like Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe, the words have so much more weight to them. I often find I can appreciate the writing style of books even more when the narrator delivers the lines.

NARRATORS

The worth of a good narrator is completely underestimated. Services like Audible are bringing in big names such as Michael Sheen to tell their stories. For me, the person telling the story is massively important. If I can’t gel with the narrator, it’s easy to miss out on what could have been a really enjoyable book. But getting the narrator that you can just tell is as invested in the plot as you can make for an incredible experience. A big stand out for me was the cast for The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo. My heart still aches with so much love for that production. I’ve even found myself seeking books outside of my usual reading tastes just because it’s a narrator I’ve previously loved.

What’s your preferred reading format?
If it’s audiobooks, what are some of your favourite of the year so far?

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

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. 

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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.

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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.

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Posted in discussion

My Reading Has Changed…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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

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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?