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.

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.

Posted in Han, Theatre reviews

Pinocchio

Pinocchio

The National Theatre

2.12.2017 (2nd Preview performance)

Story

The story sticks very close to source. For me, having not read the book, that’s the Disney movie.

The songs, however, seem out of place but find new homes that fit well within the production.

It always has been a dark tale, and this interpretation is now exception. Even the joyous laughs and giggles from little ones can’t avert your mind from the evil that follows Pinocchio or the pain Geppetto feels.

Cast

It’s a wonderful ensemble of talented actors and puppeteers with stand out performances from Joe Idris-Roberts and Audrey Bisson who play Pinocchio and Jiminy Crickey respectively.

Idris-Roberts gives his all, and is anything but wooden as the young puppet on a mission to become a real boy. On, or off strings, he will charm you and disarm you. It’s Idris-Roberts who has me gearing for a second viewing.

Then there is the wonderful and playful Audrey Bisson. She plays and operates Jiminy Cricket; Pinocchio’s conscience. She has a delightful sense of timing and humour, bringing a wonderful and playful tone to the play.

Production (music, set, costume, lighting)

This was a beautiful set that used the lighting to give the audience a sense of size.

The use of puppetry was quite simply breathtaking.

The highlight for costumes for me was the Fox. Such a stunning outfit, complete with platform shoes to provide added height.

I hope to see this play again before it finishes in March.

Posted in 2017, Book reviews, Han, Orion, Ramblings, Reads of ...

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Release date: 21.9.2017

Description: Time is running out . . .

Farway McCarthy was born outside of time. With nowhere to call home and nothing to anchor him to the present, Far captains a crew on a dangerous mission into the past.

When he collides with Eliot – a mysterious, secretive girl, whose very appearance raises questions about time itself – Far immediately distrusts her.

But he must take a leap of faith, following Eliot on a race against time, if he is to protect everything he’s ever loved from disappearing forever . . .

Buy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1510102868/ref=mp_s_a_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1514300221&sr=8-13&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=invictus

Characters

Far and Eliot are the most interesting of the group. I don’t find them relatable, but they’re certainly likeable. Far isn’t as much of a hot head as you first expect; he’s Harry Potter but lacking the ignorance of his upbringing.

Plot

It’s a wonderful time travelling plot, that doesn’t fall into the trappings that some other books fall into. It has a feeling of the tv show Timeless about it, but it quickly diverts from the individual cases of time travel to a much larger story.

Writing

It’s a solid novel, written in third person and doesn’t hold back on the action. It has a delightful way of incorporating swear words that reminds me of Eion Colfer’s Artemis Fowl.

I personally could have done with it being about 100 pages shorter, but I was having to drown out Christmas TV and my father’s chatter so I was pulled out of it a fair bit.

Posted in Han, Ramblings

Happy Birthday Han

My birthday has been very hit and miss. From everyone being a no show for my 13th birthday party, to my father refusing to wish me happy birthday. Yep, there have been years that have SUCKED beyond belief and there have even been a good handful where I have sobbed myself to sleep the night before because I’d not want the day to arrive.

However, there’s one thing I have always loved, and that’s a trip to the cinema and a happy meal on the way home. Keep it simple and I’m happy.

1989- All Dogs Go to Heaven

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1990- Little Mermaid

1991- Beauty and the Beast

1992- Aladdin

Interestingly, I was offered the chance to see this just before Christmas and I said no. Logic should have shouted ‘oi idiot; go and you get to see two films’ … alas, my sentimental heart won and it was saved until my birthday.

1993- Adams Family Values

1994- Miracle on 34th Street

1995- Indian in the Cupboard

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1996- 101 Dalmations

1997- Spiceworld

This one breaks my heart. In my attempt to grow up, I would not let my mum come and watch with me and my friend. Back before the mass ownership of mobile phones; my mum spent the time in the McDonalds.

I’m sure she wasn’t cut up about missing the Spice Girls run around London.

1998
1999
2000
I sacrificed my love of movies for a home-based parties.

2001- The Princess Diaries

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2002- Lord of the Rings: Two Towers

2003- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

2004- Without a Paddle

My mum actually suggested this one. I’d wanted to see Ella Enchanted, but she was too ill to get ready for it as it had been out a while and there were very few showings. Worked out brilliantly; I love this film.

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2005- The Producers/ Just Like Heaven/ Narnia

I’m not sure any of these were on my actual birthday. I sulked massively because my mum wouldn’t go with me. I didn’t appreciate how unwell she was… so, yeah, I sulked.

2006- Perfume

2007- Enchanted/ The Golden Compass

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2008- Twilight

2009- Sherlock Holmes(January 2010)

I was in Ankara, Turkey in 2009. It was not a very good birthday seeing as my then-boyfriend was actually there to meet up with a potential new girlfriend. It wasn’t fun. The cinema trip was meant to be 10 people+, however it was snowed out so there was about four of us.

2010- Tron Legacy

2011- Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows

I don’t remember ANY of this movie past the first 20 minutes. I’d been for a meal before hand and had wine and I’d smuggled in some premixed cans. To this day? I’ve attempted to watch this film about 4 times and I STILL don’t know the plot.

2012 – The Hobbit/ Pitch Perfect

2013- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

It counts… sort of. I got very drunk the night before, so a 3D screening was not the best idea.

2014- Exodus: Gods and Kings

2015- Snoopy Movie

My 30th birthday film. Such a good, and childish, call.

2016- Rogue One

2017…

Posted in 2018, Book clubs, Han, Reads of ..., The British Book Challenge

British Book Challenge

We, The Queens of Geekdom are going to take part in the British Book Challenge #BritishBooksChallenge18 hosted by the awesome @ChelleyToy over at Tales of Yesterday.

http://www.talesofyesterday.co.uk/2016/12/tales-post-british-books-challenge-2017-sign-up/

We’ll be doing this in conjunction with the  #QOGAZ A-Z challenge so some titles will count towards both challenges, double the fun!

@gemlovesbooks books;

The books I’m intending on reading for the challenge are a mix of ones which have already been published and some that I’m impatiently waiting for in 2018!

I’ll put a link to Waterstones for the books so people can click to see the full synopsis of my chosen books.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neil  https://www.waterstones.com/book/almost-love/louise-oneill/9781784298869

State of Sorrow by Melinda Sailsbury  https://www.waterstones.com/book/state-of-sorrow/melinda-salisbury/9781407180274

Release by Patrick Ness https://www.waterstones.com/book/release/patrick-ness/9781406331172

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-song-rising/samantha-shannon/9781408877852

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen https://www.waterstones.com/book/orphan-monster-spy/matt-killeen/9781474942386

Book of Dust by Philip Pullman https://www.waterstones.com/book/la-belle-sauvage-the-book-of-dust-volume-one/philip-pullman/9780857561091

How Do You Like Me Now by Holly Bourne https://www.waterstones.com/book/how-do-you-like-me-now/holly-bourne/9781473667723

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens https://www.waterstones.com/book/a-spoonful-of-murder-a-murder-most-unladylike-mystery/robin-stevens/nina-tara/9780141373782

Rattle by Fiona Cummins https://www.waterstones.com/book/rattle/fiona-cummins/9781509812271

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig https://www.waterstones.com/book/how-to-stop-time/matt-haig/chris-riddell/9781786893161

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein https://www.waterstones.com/book/code-name-verity/elizabeth-wein/9781405278423

The Blood Road by Stuart Macbride https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-blood-road/stuart-macbride/9780008208219

@hscptcrash books:

I’ll be starting with the same list, except for one that I’ve already read.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neil  https://www.waterstones.com/book/almost-love/louise-oneill/9781784298869

State of Sorrow by Melinda Sailsbury  https://www.waterstones.com/book/state-of-sorrow/melinda-salisbury/9781407180274

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-song-rising/samantha-shannon/9781408877852

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen https://www.waterstones.com/book/orphan-monster-spy/matt-killeen/9781474942386

Book of Dust by Philip Pullman https://www.waterstones.com/book/la-belle-sauvage-the-book-of-dust-volume-one/philip-pullman/9780857561091

How Do You Like Me Now by Holly Bourne https://www.waterstones.com/book/how-do-you-like-me-now/holly-bourne/9781473667723

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens https://www.waterstones.com/book/a-spoonful-of-murder-a-murder-most-unladylike-mystery/robin-stevens/nina-tara/9780141373782

Rattle by Fiona Cummins https://www.waterstones.com/book/rattle/fiona-cummins/9781509812271

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig https://www.waterstones.com/book/how-to-stop-time/matt-haig/chris-riddell/9781786893161

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein https://www.waterstones.com/book/code-name-verity/elizabeth-wein/9781405278423

The Blood Road by Stuart Macbride https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-blood-road/stuart-macbride/9780008208219

Posted in 2017, ARC, Han, MacMillian Kids UK, Net Galley, Reads of ...

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron #bookreview #hanreview @MacmillanKidsUK

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron #bookreview #hanreview @MacmillanKidsUK Release date: 22.03.18

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From Goodreads: Sometimes, I imagine alternate endings to the story: last-minute miracles, touches of magic. I picture how things might have gone, if I wasn’t there. If I’d left just a few minutes later. If I hadn’t been alone. It doesn’t make any difference. One way or another, the crash always comes.

Ten days after Jaya Mackenzie’s mum dies, angels start falling from the sky. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.

Hysteria mounting with every Being that drops, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, struggling to make sense of her mother’s sudden death and her own role on that fateful day, she’s determined to stay out of it.

When her best friend disappears and her father’s mania spirals, things hit rock bottom and it’s at that moment something extraordinary happens: An angel lands right at Jaya’s feet, and it’s alive. Finally she is forced to acknowledge just how significant these celestial beings are.

Set against the backdrop of the frenzied Edinburgh festival, OUT OF THE BLUE tackles questions of grief and guilt and fear over who we really are. But it’s also about love and acceptance and finding your place in this world as angels drop out of another.

Buy it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Semi-Definitive-List-Worst-Nightmares/dp/147140661X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513773899&sr=8-1&keywords=Krystal+Sutherland
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36222995-a-semi-definitive-list-of-worst-nightmares

My first thoughts

It’s ET meets I am Traitor in this wonderfully thrilling story. I couldn’t put it down.

The Characters

I love Jaya. She is headstrong, wonderfully moral and self assured. This is quite possibly the first LGBTQ+ main character who knows what and who she is and therefore doesn’t divert some of the plot with that exploration. Plus, it’s wonderful to just have a character who happens to be gay and her sexuality have no direct impact upon the plot.

The angel that falls is wonderful and while unable to vocalise her pain, confusion she is able to communicate. I’ll leave the name for you to discover, but it’s a delight and reflective of her innocent charm.

The Plot

The plot is perfectly woven out of a teen thriller nursing an injured angel back to health and a commentary upon religious belief and how we respond to the end of the world.

The sub plot looks at cults that can arise in such situations and the people who join them. It comments upon the challenges people face when drawn in without considering a way out.

It’s a well developed plot that has a balance between humour and tense drama. Something that will keep you up at night; if you start it, you won’t stop till its finished.

The Writing

It’s clear storytelling and third person narrative gives the story a film-like quality. It’s demonstrated best as the action heats up in the later section of the book. It’s a perfect read and I’d gladly welcome a sequel.