Featured
Posted in 2018, ARC, Book reviews, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Blog Tour: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

Characters
Lulu is a brilliant young woman, growing up in a mixed culture household and not knowing where she truly belongs or its impact it has on her identity. That’s all before we even get onto the fact that she’s a teenager in high school and dealing with the social etiquette of that too.
I love her fire and loyalty. She’s honest and uncompromising with her views; it gives you a good basis for the plot to revolve around.
James is a curious individual who isn’t overly likeable at first, but as Lulu gets to know him, you’ll be forgiven for having a change of heart.
Plot
It’s Easy A meets Heathers, by way of Mean Girls. You get an understanding of teen life, before Lulu’s life is turned upside down. It causes her to confront aspects of her life that she has always questioned; enabling her to understand herself a little better before the status quo is finally reached.
You don’t leave Lulu’s perspective, so her friend’s views are given to us through Lulu’s perspective or second hand news. It gives you an interesting view of what Lulu thinks of herself and others.
Writing
The writing is crisp, clean and emotional; you can clearly feel the torment of a person caught between two cultures. It is perfect for anyone wanting to understand what it feels like to almost have your very existence questioned.

Featured
Posted in 2018, ARC, Book reviews, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Not the Girls You’re Looking For – Book except

“It’s a matter of principle.” Audrey crossed her arms.

When it came to Audrey and her sister, everything was a matter of principle. Lulu shrugged. What Lulu knew of sisters, apart from Audrey, she had taken from fiction. Lulu suspected that Audrey found her sister to be a Mary Bennet– priggish and pedantic– while Audrey’s sister probably thought of Audrey as a Lydia Bennet– thoughtless and selfish. Or maybe they were Amy and Jo March and this was all about a burnt manuscript and an heiress of a boy. Lulu found the idea of sisters fascinating, but her only vocabulary for the relationship was borrowed. She did the best she could to keep up, given the circumstance.

Audrey turned the radio back up. Lulu flicked Audrey’s fingers, like swatting a fly, and turned the radio back down. Audrey sighed. After waiting a beat, she turned up the radio in one grand, sweeping effort, “So where to first?”

“‘Emma’s, then Lo’s,” Lulu punched off the radio with her knuckles. Her ears vibrated from the aftermath of that decibel level. “Then I’m thinking tacos. We haven’t had tacos in forever.”

“Two weeks. Yes, that was forever ago.” Audrey used as much condescension as she had in her. And Audrey had been bred to hold plenty of condescension.

Lulu laughed. Her freshly won freedom made her gracious enough not to hold a grudge. She had taken the blame for the night of the pool incident, getting Audrey off nearly scot-free. But Audrey would do the same for her, even if Audrey knew the world to be a certain way. A way that didn’t hold water, but still.

Lulu made an unprotected left turn and Audrey swooped in to turned the radio back on. Lulu paid these antics no further attention. They constantly danced around like this, attracting one another with what ought to repel. The two girls chatted and laughed until they became four. How any of them could hear one another, over each other, or the music, or the wind coming into the car as it sped along, was anyone’s guess.


BOOK INFORMATION

 

TITLE: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

AUTHOR: Aminah Mae Safi

PUBLISH DATE: June 19th 2018

PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends

SYNOPSIS:

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

 

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

 

Debut author Aminah Mae Safi’s honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if —especially if—you love them.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35795940-not-the-girls-you-re-looking-for

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250151813

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-the-girls-youre-looking-for-aminah-mae-safi/1126791458?ean=9781250151810#/

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250151810

Audio (Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/Girls-Youre-Looking-Aminah-Safi/dp/1250314577/ref=tmm_abk_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise. She’s the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. Originally raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner, a cat bent on world domination, and another cat who’s just here for the snacks.

 

Author website: http://www.aminahmae.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16090821.Aminah_Mae_Safi

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aminahmae

Instagram: http://instagram.com/aminahmae

Tumblr: http://aminahmae.tumblr.com/

Featured
Posted in 2018, ARC, Han, Han's Reviews, Hot Key Books, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Ascension by Victor Dixen @VictorDixen

Release date: 28.6.2018
About:
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.
Pre-order here


Characters

I love Leonor. She’s a good voice to have when you’re stuck in space; she grounds you, so to speak. When you have a character like her; passionate, flawed and insightful. The way she works through the speed dating is interesting and something I easily identify with. Not only that, it adds a level of internal conflict that some narratives miss.

We learn bits about the other crew, but it’s those left on earth that are the most interesting. We have Serena, who communicates directly with the participants and becomes the ‘host’ of the broadcast. She’s a piece of work, you’ll quickly learn, but I want you to find that out for yourself.

Plot

It reads like a brilliant Sci-fi blockbuster. There are many threads in play and they change your perspective like a rubrics cube, waiting to be solved. Being the first in a trilogy, you go in knowing that you will have a resolve of some sorts, but there will be questions left unanswered to ensure you want more. It’s expertly done so that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first in a sequence, but a story in its own right.

Writing

Being a translated story, there’s always a worry that the writing loses something. This story, I’m delighted to say, doesn’t. It’s language is clean, its engaging and powerful. It makes for such a consumable, compulsive read.
I just wish I knew enough French to read the other two books in the series. Yes, they’re already published guys but you need to have progressed further than a GCSE in French to be able to access them.

Featured
Posted in Movie reviews, Ramblings

Rampage – 12A

thVLVTRTW9

About 

Release date  11.4.18
Summary
Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster. As these newly created monsters tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.
Time 1hr 47


Trailer


The Good
This is a Dwayn ‘the Rock’ Johnson movie and I’ll hold my hands up here and now; there’s no wrong this man can do (sidebar: My dad calls him The Fairy because of The Toothfairy. When an actor or film gets a Dad Hunter pseudonym, that means they’re on the win list). With Johnson, so come some film expectations. There’s going to be fast paced action, quips and smouldering. There’s also an understanding that the plot will stretch reality to provide a fun plot and indeed it does provide. Bucket loads of it to the point that I’m not so sure we can really call it Science Fiction.
Johnson’s character works well with George, the CGI Gorilla saved from poachers during infancy and taught to sign (Yup, We verge into Congo territory. I’ll reassure you though; I think this one will be considered a little better). Some of the best scenes involved the two of them interacting. There’s heart and humour in their banter and it allows you to feel for them and root for their survival when the shit hits the atmosphere about 2 minutes later.
In addition we have Naomie Harris and Jeffery Dean Morgan helping Johnson ‘save’ his friend and Malin Akerman and Joe Manganeillo playing for the company that caused the mutations in the animals.

The Bad
It really is a shame that most of the film sees George and Johnson’s Davis separated. Not only that, but essentially on opposite sides. They truly do have amazing chemistry that no one else can come close to and it removes some of the natural humour. If the film could keep them together by tweaking the plot it would keep the comedic tone and not seem to be bookended by a separate movie.
The two outside sections have a lighter a tone and sees everyone in on the joke and having fun, however the bulk of the film takes itself a little too seriously.

The Ugly
The CGI is rather ropy and it’s worrying that I picked up on it the first viewing. Normally because it’s all new, I miss the little flaws and only catch them during a repeat viewing, usually at home. It means I wasn’t as engaged in the story as I normally would have been and that could be because of many factors; one being the lack of feeling for the characters.


Cinema offences

A new segment for my reviews. I’m going to list the problems with the cinema going experience as it is something I think we all face issues with.

Viewing date/time: 12.4.2018/ 11.40 showing (Odeon Uxbridge)
Fullness: Quite a busy showing for early in the morning. That said, there couldn’t have been more than 40 people.

Late comers (5 minutes or more into a movie): 4 people in 2 separate groups
Phones (Texting/games/checking the time. Essentially anytime I see/am distracted by the glow of a phone): 0
Talking: 3 separate groups, all persistent.
Oh this was a big one today. Fresh off the back of my annoyance from The Quiet Place I think my patience had already warn thin. However, it was people in the row right behind me and it was persistent; like a running commentary on a DVD. Imagine my horror, when I turn around to bollocks the tween triplets I’d mentally given three chance to are not in fact three kids, but a mum and her two sons. Instead of telling her kids to stop, she was engaging them in conversation. I was rather reserved, for me; I politely asked them to stop talking. Well, my dear readers, I might as well have taken a dump right there on her lap based on the look she gave me. All I heard was ‘don’t listen to her’ from the mother and I’d had enough. Premiere seats be damned, I got up and moved to one of the nice seats; I figured Odeon owed me this for allowing this sort of behaviour to become the norm (Disclaimer: It’s not an Odeon problem, the is a all-franchise epidemic. Seriously, this woman will have spent at least £25 on tickets. Alone. I’m sure she’d jacked her kids up on sugar too and when a ‘kids pack’ starts at £4.50, surly just setting fire to your money would be better?! Or at least buy a dvd, rent one from Sky and then let them chatter away to their hearts content at home.

lonely child

Featured
Posted in Book reviews, Ramblings

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon #bookreview #gem @gemlovesbooks

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Buy it here
Goodreads

51H4NsPcAKL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

Paige’s world is so exciting; it’s full of magic, mystery and danger!
It’s a very refreshing take on a dystopian genre with the beautiful writing, the language which is used and the imagery that has been created drew me in from the very first page and kept me utterly hooked until the last word.

It’s more literary, and more *clever* than The Hunger Games and Divergent etc., but by no means does that mean it’s hard going; I was completely enthralled by the plot, I loved Paige and Warden! The relationship that builds between them is not what I expected, and as the plot progresses and we learn more of Sheol 1 and the Rephaim, this adds an extra element of intensity and mystery. To me it’s one of those books that you just want other people to read so you can talk to them about it – there are plot elements that aren’t resolved (as you’d expect for what is projected to be a 7 book series) so I want to know if other people think the same things as me!
What I will say is that I hadn’t realised there was a glossary as if I turn to the back I have a naughty tendency to read the last few lines, so make use of that, it will help you get to grips with the different characters much quicker than I did.
NB. I wrote this review on 10th January 2014 and since then I have bought over 10 copies to give to friends and family, organised a Q&a and signing at Waterstones Bham with SS and her wonderful publisher sent me a box of copies to give away at raffle prizes for one of our fan parties. I always made sure this book was displayed in both the YA and fantasy sections of the shop so I could get more and more people to discover Paige’s world.

My love for The Bone Season and subsequently The Mime Order and The Song Rising) knows no bounds!

Featured
Posted in TV reviews

Rick and Morty. S3 Ep2: Rickmancing the Stone

rick-morty-mad-max

Background
I’m incredibly new to this show, but oh so very passionate. My ex introduced me to it and we watched all of series one in a single sitting. Every so often he would pause it to tell me something offensive was coming up thinking I would hate it and demand for it to be turned off. Far from it, I loved every second.
I will always remember him texting me a screenshot of an episode and him being incredibly impressed that I’d gotten it with one guess and having only seen all the episodes once.
Since our split I’ve been determined to not do my usual thing and for once, not create attachments to a show we shared. Hell, if I did that, I’d have nothing left to watch seeing as I we both loved the same shows, films and he’d even started to get me into gaming.
In the past I’ve stopped watching shows such as Lost (although I hear I didn’t miss much) and films like Goonies had not been watched by me in 8 years since my first boyfriend and I parted ways. Some couples have THEIR song, I tend to have that one movie that will forever be mine and that person’s.
I had explained this to my ex, that I have emotional connections to movies and shows even to the point where I’ve walked away from screenings I’ve paid money for because I’d known the situation would take away from the film I’d loved (Example: a screening of Scrooged was meant to be my works leaving do. I knew had I stayed, I would no longer watch that will in the same way). However, it didn’t stop him from using a conversation we had to inspire him to watch my favourite film (Leon) with another woman literally a day after the conversation. It also didn’t stop him shouting at me for being upset about it.
So, I’m not going to let that happen this time. I don’t want to lose any of the shows I loved before I met him (Stranger Things, House, How I Met Your Mother… hell Star Trek.)

I figured if I blog about the episodes it’ll give me a little bit of motivation to watch them as they’re released. I couldn’t find someone to watch it with me, so I’m afraid my dear readers, you’re the ones holding my hand through this.

 

So, into the fray with go …

RM2-650x367

Rickmancing the Stone takes no time in reminding us about the divorce between Beth and Jerry. It’s always been there in the background; Beth’s frustration has built over the two series. I never thought the showrunners would break them up though and I’m very happy they did. Things are tense when Jerry pops over for a visit and the siblings use Rick as a means of escape. Seconds before the title sequence comes a whisper only Jerry can hear ‘loser’ the wind calls. It’s genius; I love to hate Jerry and this is just the kind of abuse I want him to get.

I’m loving Summer’s active role in travelling with Rick. Long gone is the Summer of Series 2’s Ricks Must Be Crazy. She doesn’t shy away any more. It’s when they travel to the post-apocalyptic dimension that we really start to see how strong Summer has become. In fact, she’s the catalyst for the whole episode and long may it continue.
Her story sees her find herself very much at home in this world, but she soon works through her issues regarding the divorce and comes to an interesting conclusion that resolves some of her angst by the end of the episode.
It’s interesting to see her romance develop. I would love to see Summer become the Kirk of the traveling trio. Also- Sumsum! Rick gets to give all the best nicknames.

Morty is as annoying as ever. I know that’s the whole point of the character, but I’m starting to need the showrunners to pull a South Park Kenny on his arse.

We see him take on a revenge mission that is worthy of Game of Thrones (another show I’ve stopped watching owing to a man). It’s a brilliant. Very WTF and ties nicely into the Mad Max homage they have throughout the dimension. It’s good to see how he works through his hang-ups about his father and the divorce. Although I reckon some of you are like me and would have liked to have seen what Morty would have done with the muscle memory had Jerry been there himself.

Rick was as awesome as always but there was very little in way of progression for him. I want him to show some real concern relating to the divorce and I hope we’ll get it in the next few episodes.

Overall, I have found the episode to be tackling a tricky, complex and relevant subject. They are doing it well, exposing some of the rawness to comedy (and gore) will probably enable viewers who have experience divorce to see it from other the other side. From my understanding of the audience it gets here in the UK, it certainly will be helping those most effected by divorce.

Questions/Predictions

  • Will there be any fallout from Summer’s relationship? We’ve obviously done the pregnancy thing with Morty before but I’d certainly like to see that storyline come back.
  • Rick and Beth need some bonding time during her divorce to Jerry.
  • Will Beth and Jerry reconcile by the end of the series?
  • Will the Cthulhu from the title sequence make an appearance this year?

tumblr_o83erfD2f31tqpn6qo1_1280

Featured
Posted in Ramblings

Fan Entitlement

maxresdefault (1)

I’m a fan! We’re both fans. Of many things. Find us on twitter, give us a topic and we’ll talk… at length, whether you want us to or not. We love music (Panic! At the Disco, MCR, The Killers), TV (Buffy, Hex, Star Trek for Han) and Films (Jurassic World, Princess Bride, Harry Potter). We are advocates of YA (Holly Bourne, Laini Taylor and Non Pratt) and have just spent an amazing weekend at YALC.

However, we’re both upset right now. Mainly because of this article: http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/brendon_urie_wont_be_meeting_fans_after_kinky_boots_shows_anymore

I know Brendan has refused to sign at Panic! Gigs for the last few years for essentially the same reason. In 2015 I (Han), caught the set list at a Hammersmith Apollo gig and waited for two hours at the “stage door” to be told he’d been accosted at a gig in the US. He’d agreed with his body guard and not signed since.
Thanks to “fans”, people are now losing out on meeting a role model and idol. We’d normally have our bitch together if it was an isolated incident. But it’s not. And it’s not fair.

fans 1
Tom signing and posing for photos early in the Coriolanus run,

Back in 2013/14 Tom Hiddleston was in Coriolanus at the Donmar in London’s West End. I had tickets, I watched the play and then queued for SIX hours to have the honour of telling him how amazing he was. However, my anxiety is a bitch and I didn’t get to say a word to him while he signed my programme.
A month later I had another ticket to see him. Due to the restrictions at the stage door, this meant I had the chance to join the line for his autograph. I decided at the last minute to join. Only what I saw as I approached was nothing short of chaos; mob mentality ensued and the main door was so swamped that a man in a wheelchair struggled to get out. Fans refused to move in fear of missing their chance to get a photo with Hiddleston.
This alone disturbed me. However, that was before I was informed why Tom had refused to leave via the main door that evening, meaning his security was not policing the crowds.
The reason, as I feared, was fan related: two girls a few days before had crossed the line with Tom. They attempted to place their hands down his pants while he was signing for them. This ensured that for the remaining 5 weeks of the production, no one managed to engage with Hiddleston. This did not make the news. Had it been Sienna Miller, who is currently starring in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it would have made front page news. It would have been sexual harassment. However, Tom kept this quiet.

Now Brendan has had to do the same. He was doing something he loved and fans enjoyed, however warped sense of entitlement that meant the minority has spoiled it for the majority.

My reason for stage dooring or wanting to meet celebs is not to say “I’ve met Mr X or Ms Y”, but to tell them they have made an impact in my life and thank them for the performance they’ve just been in. Because of my anxiety, I find programmes for plays they’re in are the perfect prop. While they’re signing, their attention is elsewhere and I can talk. It doesn’t always work. Heck, its worse without a prop though. Upon being wingperson for a friend when meeting Domnhall Gleeson all I could muster was “My brother is really looking forward to seeing you in Star Wars”. Not the fact that I adored his recent film Frank or that he broke my heart with About Time. This was before my crush on him had fully developed too.

I’m certain I’m not the only one who thinks like this. It takes courage to open my bloody mouth. In fact I’m starting to avoid stage doors because of these sort of situations. Yet out there are “fans” who not only take advantage they have this sense that it’s okay and that the celebrities welcome this behaviour. I’ve also seen these people melt down when they don’t get what they want. Even if they’ve already had countless opportunities to meet the person.

Case in point: I went to see Lyndsey Lohan in Speed the Plow. It was an okay play, but her performance was appalling. I had a moral dilemma; I wanted Richard Schiff and Nigel Lyndsey’s autographs (By autographs, I mean I wanted to tell Schiff that I loved him in The Lost World and the Infidel. That he is an awesome actor and in all honesty I just wanted to see him smile.) but it was a three person play, Lyndsey was a full house. I was struggling to bring myself to do this as I didn’t have something positive to say about her performance in the play. I text a few people to gage their opinion about the stage door and how to handle it.

1414111298609_wps_52_Picture_Shows_Lindsay_Loh

I need not have bothered seeing as everyone and their aunt were outside; their cameras ready, sharpies poised on their Mean Girl prints. People who had not even seen the play were there, in the prime positions as well.

All I could hear during my wait were vile comments. Links to Lyndsey’s drug use past (and predicted present) and her bad performance of the play. I couldn’t help but wonder why these people were waiting let alone coveting the spaces at the front of the barrier.

After a time we were informed that Lyndsey has already left the building via a different exit. I totally understand that and was ready to get home and move on with my day. However other people did not. What followed the announcement was abuse. She was a whore, people would not watch her work again and she was worse than Satan and someone even wished her dead.

I would say about 90 percent of my encounters have been amazing, uplifting and unique. The best experience I had was meeting Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s Alexander Siddig when he was performing at the Globe. I headed to the stage door and thanked every cast member who came out (cast of 25 and I got every single autograph, meaning I was able to thank every single one of them for a play that meant so much to me). There were two other women there, just hanging out for Alexander Siddig; to the point they blanked other cast members when they drew them into the conversation we were having owing to them being stood so close.

Out came another cast member and when he finished signing for me he questioned whether we were waiting for Siddig. The girl’s ears pricked up and they listened intently as I was told he would be in the bar and that if I had any issues, to tell Alex that he’d sent me.

I watch these two girls run to the bar and shadow him. By some stroke of luck he ended up beside me as I was calming myself at the bar. I was able to have a chat to him (before the women I might add) and express my gratitude for playing the character that got me into Star Trek. We ended with him asking for a hug and telling me his name. The one thing I love about my encounters is that I seem to have a way of making them forget the fan/celeb line and they introduce themselves to me as if I haven’t got a clue who they are. I mentally tell myself as I walk away “That’ll do Pig.”

13312611_10157056237980094_4354230328703549980_n
With Alexander Siddig

I have no desire to meet many of them again (Who am I kidding, there are a few I would love to see again. But in a ‘let’s go for a cuppa, put the world to rights’ sort of way.) I know I can’t improve my experience or gain them as my friend, so it blows my mind when people will actively repeat their actions, gain nothing out of it but a photo and/or autograph. How can it be fulfilling and don’t some of the more ‘devout’ fans see the look of fear on their target’s face?

What can we do to take back our fandoms my friends? I want these victimised stars to know that we’re not all the same. I also want to be able to continue to stage door without having to compete with these people who despite having 5 autographs, will step on your neck to get another. Even if you were to explain to them that you’ve never met them before.

Posted in Blog Tour

Splinter by Joshua Winning Blog Tour – Extract

Dawn eyed the trapdoor nervously but there was no point getting skittish. Nicholas swung his legs through the hole in the floor and began to climb down.

All he could hear was the quickening of his pulse in his temples. Strange smells – wax and old books and wet fur – made his head spin as his feet found the floor. For a moment, he was reminded of the oblituss, the dark tomb beneath the Abbey Gardens, and he had to force himself to let go of the ladder. This wasn’t the oblituss. The faceless man wasn’t going to emerge from the shadows and undo his sanity with a touch. His parents wouldn’t have kept anything dangerous down here, he was sure of it. Then again, he’d never known his parents were Sentinels. How much could he really assume about them?

Nicholas fumbled along the wall. If he could just find a light. He was sure it was a small space from the sound of his breath. Maybe little more than a cubby.

As he stumbled forward, his hands found a cord. A bare bulb clicked above his head, its fuzzy light settling over a bizarre collection of objects. Shelves, crates, broken lamps and intricate brass sculptures of what had to be the Milky Way.

“Heck, took you long enough, kid.”

Nicholas froze. The voice had spoken just over his shoulder. A man’s voice. Brassy and American. He turned around in the space, almost knocking over a stack of yellowed newspapers, but all he saw were shelves and inanimate objects.

“A guy could go nuts down here on his own.”

“Who is that?” Nicholas demanded. The voice was familiar. He had heard it before, but he couldn’t place where.

“Jeeze, don’t lose your head, bub. Down here.”

Nicholas moved towards the voice, spotting an old suitcase that had belonged to his grandfather. Beside it, on a low shelf, an object struck a dancing pose, its white flares, unmistakable quiff and glittery sunglasses moulded from plastic. Crouching, Nicholas crept closer to the figurine.

“Ya got me,” said Elvis.

Nicholas blinked. Of course he knew the voice. He had heard it a hundred times coming out of the radio or on television. It was unmistakable, twanging like guitar strings, and it was coming out of the statue, which remained motionless and appeared just as Nicholas had seen in his visions.

“You’re… you’re not Elvis,” Nicholas uttered.

“Not so bright, huh?” said Elvis. Only his mouth moved. His plastic hips remained motionless mid-thrust. “I get it; you’re starstruck. Not every day you get a private audience with the king of rock ’n’ roll.”

Nicholas almost laughed. “But you’re not the Elvis…”

“Kid, you got eyes?”

“Of course. Alright. So what was your biggest hit?”

“Man, are you writing a book? I can’t remember half those biscuits I baked. Geeze, your folks were never this difficult.”

Nicholas’s smile fell. “You knew my parents… Or, y’know, Anita and Max.”

“Good folk. Shame to see ’em go like that, but now there’s you, bub.”

Nicholas frowned. “What are you? Really?”

“Aside from the obvious? Look, kid, most people don’t ask so many questions when they meet me.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Funny; figured you’d recognise another emissary of the Trinity, being one yourself.”

“How…” Nicholas stopped, suddenly excited, even if a plastic figurine of Elvis was the last thing he’d been expecting. Heck, Isabel had possessed a cat. Why not a talking statue?

Nicholas swallowed, trying to keep his excitement under control. “You’re an emissary… Like a messenger? For the Trinity?”

“Gee, I thought you’d never ask. That’s me, kid. Hey, you notice the world’s going to hell quicker’n a bent-eight?”

“It’s sort of hard not to.”

“The Dark Prophets have that effect. They’re infecting the whole lot. They got this world sicker’n a lizard in a Tequila bottle. You ever tried Tequila?”

Nicholas ignored the question; his entire body had gone rigid. “The Prophets? They’re doing this?”

“Now don’t tell me you didn’t know?” Nicholas wasn’t sure if he had imagined Elvis’ eyebrows momentarily rising above his sunglasses. “They’re back, bubba. Crossed the great divide and we’ve got you to thank for it.”

Nicholas realised he’d clenched his hands into fists. Laurent had tried to raise the Prophets, but Nicholas and his friends had stopped him. True, monstrous things had clawed their way through the gateway before that, but they had closed the portal, prevented Laurent from releasing the Dark Prophets from their hellpit. But this figurine was saying they had failed.

“What did I do?” he demanded.

“Brace yourself, kid, cos this ain’t pretty. The faceless goon, the one who set that town to burning? He was the real conduit, bub. When you and your lady friend performed your mojo – that was impressive, by the by – you sparked the Tortor up good, warmed up the eggs in his undercarriage, got ’em sizzling. He birthed ’em right there in the ruins. The Prophets are back and you don’t wanna be around when they hatch.”

The dreams. The glowing pods. The Tortor’s cremated remains. Nicholas couldn’t believe it. Had everything he’d dreamt been true? The image of Laurent’s throat gushing blood leapt to the front of his mind.

“Laurent… he’s dead,” Nicholas murmured.

“Oh boy, he’s deader’n a doornail. Deader’n JFK and Marilyn combined, may they rest in peace.”

A shiver trickled down Nicholas’s spine. “How?”

“Killed by that flame-haired sister of Satan.”

“Malika.” That didn’t make any sense, either. Malika and Laurent had been working together. They had joined forces in the Abbey Gardens; Nicholas had seen it for himself. Why would she turn on Laurent? Trust probably wasn’t a top priority when you were evil.

“She’s the key to this, bubba. She’s the key to all of it.”

Nicholas scrutinised the statue. “How do you know so much?”

“Oracles sorta know things. It’s our deal.”

“You see things? The future?”

“When the music of the universe sings to ol’ Elvis. Seen plenty of weird shit over the years, but nothing weirder’n the shit you’re carrying around in that karmic suitcase of yours, kid.”

Nicholas didn’t know what to say. He glanced around the cubby hole and leaned in closer. “Did you talk to Anita and Max?”

“Sure, gave ’em my breakfast order every morning. Cuppa joe and a doughnut. Sorry, kid, bad joke. The sad truth is they couldn’t hear Elvis. Most people can’t. Coulda saved them a whole lotta trouble.”

“You tried to warn them?”

“Told them a hundred times about the train,” said Elvis. “But they couldn’t hear worth a damn.”

Nicholas doubted anything would have stopped his parents from boarding the train that they died on. They had been determined and fearless.

Nicholas took a breath, knowing he had to focus on the important things.

“Malika,” he said. “How’s she the key?”

“She’s nurturing the Prophets, boy-o. That makes her pretty darn important. Key player, you could say.”

“So to stop the Prophets, I have to stop her.”

“Bingo.”

“How do I do that?”

“You’re not gonna like it.”

Nicholas thought of the Drujblade, the mystical knife Malika had stolen from him. He’d have no problem plunging it into her heart given half the chance, and not just because she’d killed his family.

“Try me,” he said.

“You met her maker,” said Elvis. “The demon she served. Or pretended to, for a while.”

“Diltraa.” Nicholas remembered horns, bone-white eyes and a rasping voice like skeletal fingers clawing glass.

“The one and only.”

“Diltraa’s dead,” said Nicholas. Esus had killed the demon after it broke into Hallow House.

“Not dead,” said Elvis. “Banished to the demon plane. You destroyed its corporeal form, kid, but a demon’s essence is never truly toast.”

Nicholas’s jaw started ticking and he eyed the statue nervously.

“Just tell me what I have to do.”

Posted in Ramblings

Curtains Up of Theatrical #YAshelfies

My first Theatrical Moment

I was living in Leeds, but trying to get a job in London. On a drunken dare/suggestion I might add. I’d read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and I’d fallen in love with it. I was surprised by how I wasn’t disturbed by the violence as I was warned I was. However, I think that was because I read it as a satire.

I still hadn’t had a successful interview when the off West End Almedia announced a new production by director Rupert Goold. American Psycho the Musical. Oh man, I almost bought tickets there and then. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had yet to secure a job.

Then they went and announced departing Doctor, Matt Smith, as the titular Patrick Bateman. Which had me conflicted; on the one hand it did make me want to see it just that little bit more however, on the other there would be people who would think I was seeing it JUST to see the good Doc. In the end it didn’t matter; it sold out so quickly that they added almost an additional month to the run and I didn’t see any of those tickets either.

4

By January 2014 I’d gotten a job in London and was all moved. I’d spoken to a few people about my love of the book and my desire to see the play. A new friend new someone who had a single, front row, ticket for sale. Oh I took it and it started something that has changed and shaped my life.

The second that music started, I was lost in New York. Even now, upon discussing the play my mind soundtracks it with the original song Killer Wolf. I swooned when Paul Owen took my hand and kissed it. It wasn’t Ben Aldridge, it was Paul Owen and he acknowledged me. I sobbed at the second act and his treatment of Jean; she was the character I’d always identified with. Bloody hell, I didn’t know theatre could move me so much. I felt alive.

21brantley2-master675

I had to see it again. So much so that I camped out over night to gain access to tickets for the final production. It rained and I didn’t care. I didn’t sleep and I still didn’t care. I was called irresponsible, but I don’t regret it. It’s had to explain in writing, but I saved two girls who’d arrived about 4am from having to deal with a sleazy bloke who was rubbing himself up against anyone and everyone in an attempt to jump the queue and buy tickets for a women we guessed was his girlfriend.
In a moment of bravery I called him out, I used my teacher voice and finally got them to join the back of the queue. I gained a round of applause and took a bow. Well, it was theatre after all. It was only after, I realised that my actions pretty much guaranteed the 15 year olds a spot in the audience, in which they’d witness their hero doggy-styling a over sized teddy bear.

2014 and American Psycho saw that I got to 64 shows that year. I was chasing that feeling I’d gotten from the Musical. Some couldn’t complete, but it was terribly fun finding that out.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Blog Tour, Book reviews, Reads of ..., Usborne

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

About
Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume-designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool…and her secret.

Theatrical blog tour.jpg

Characters

Hope is everything young me wanted to be. She’s perhaps everything all of us want to be; someone who is successful and able to make a path for themselves in the world. She also falls into the trap we all do; we assume and respond to other’s unspoken views.
You’ll be gripped by her passion, her independence and her growth throughout the book. She’s a wonderful protagonist and a perfect mirror for any reader.
My other favourite character is Hope’s mother. She doesn’t necessarily get the most time in the book, but I love the different perspectives we’re given with a first person narrative. I actually felt like this was almost the most realistic way of developing a mother within a book.

Plot

The plot centring around a work experience placement is so wonderfully refreshing and unpredictable. There is romance, but it certainly isn’t central to the plot, for me! And I think that’s the beauty of Harcourt’s work; the prominent strand or relationship is what you bring to it. For me, making my mother proud and also breaking away and do my own thing was always something I tried to balance. However someone else will find the romantic strand the driving force.

Writing

The aspects of writing that really stuck out for me was not the characterisation, but the location. There was a part in the book that I fell into. Okay, mainly because it’s boiling hot right now, but her description of the rain and darkness gave me some relief from this sticky nightmare I’m currently finding myself in.

It also speaks volumes about the writing that I have 15 students on a waiting list for my copy just from reading the first page.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Ramblings, Reads of ..., Usborne

Slay by Kim Curran

The most painful time in my life was when my copy of this went missing in the post. For a month, I had this feeling of knowing I *could* have read it, I *could* know how awesome it was but I couldn’t, because my postman decided to ‘return to sender’. My house appeared to be Grimmauld Place for a month or so and clearly the post man was not privy to the knowledge of the secret keeper.

Anyhow, I did get to read it. As it happens, it arrived the day after I started I Was Born For This and they made for a thematic reading pair.


It’s hard not to be biased because I was sold at the reference to Buffy. My life is lacking something teen and supernatural and SLAY fits in just perfectly.
The story hits the ground running and doesn’t stop to let you catch your breath. It’s amazing. From the moment you meet the boys of SLAY, all the way through their collaboration with Milly you will feel like you’re right with them.

Milly is a perfect protagonist. She’s relatable and new to the world of demons that the boys are so familiar with. However, she’s not going to be a damsel; she holds her own and catches up quick. Her feelings towards the band members gives depth to her character and some friction that I expect to see arise in the sequel.

The boy band. They are a riot! If only this band was real; I’d so be going to see them live. There’s a clear leader complex in JD. His frosty front will melt your heart. There is then the twins who are the perfect ying and yang. Curran has a talent for demonstrating sign language in a coherent way. Zek is my favourite and the perfect person to bring together a group that might clash without him.

It’s a perfect origins story for this group. It has the ideal pace and emotion to get you attached, but you are still left wanting so much more. I personally can’t wait to see how the relationships develop within the next book.

Posted in 2018, Book reviews, Han, Harper Collins, Harper Teen, Ramblings, Reads of ...

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

About:

The third novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most talked about YA writers in recent years.
For Angel Rahimi life is about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything she loves – her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing.
But dreams don’t always turn out the way you think and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together, they find out how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.


I was waiting for this book for so long. I was anxious to get my hands on this book, as if there was a small window for it to be bought or it would be lost to me forever. I fully expect I wouldn’t have slept the night before it’s release date, had I not had the wonderful surprise of finding it in a Central London book shop, nestled in with the new releases, a few days before.

I love Alice Oseman’s writing and narrative messages so much that I abandoned what I was reading to start I Was Born for This. Once again, Oseman did not disappoint. There is so much to relate to in the book. It doesn’t matter if the fandom didn’t fit, the reactions and the emotions are still the same.
Me, I’m not so much a boy band following girl any more. I remember abandoning Westlife for Alice Cooper back in 2003 when I went to my first ever concert at 18, but before then I was firmly a Boyzone and Spice Girls fan. I’m also firmly in the tv and film fandoms and can completely relate to the meeting friends online, paying money to be involved in some event and even meeting some of the celebrities involved.

What, perhaps, is the most familiar aspect of the novel is the idea of perceptions. From the viewpoint of both Angel and Jimmy, they clearly think and feel differently to those around them. I loved how they were both explored for their negative and positive aspects.

How it came to an end was perfect; both Angel and Jimmy will make decisions in their lives that provide a fulfilling and satisfying ending. However, Oseman has given me people I love and I want to know more about them.