Kick the Moon by Muhammad Khan

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Muhammad Khan’s second novel is a relevant cautionary tale of self realisation, challenging the trappings created by fear and, most importantly, acknowledging stereotypes of gender and culture before working against them.

My affection for the protagonist hit me fast and hard. Ilyas is a young man I’ve had in my classroom time and time again. He’s a person who is so busy trying to balance what everyone else expects, that he forgets who he really is and what makes him happy.

The journey that Ilyas goes on, in part, is a solo one. However, as a reader, you feel every step he takes. It’s hard to see the assumptions made about him and decisions made for him when you get to hear his own thoughts of the matter.

By the time the reader meets Kelly, they already get a feel for the world in which Ilyas lives and the way in which it goes against his own moral code. Khan is able to explore the complexity of a teen’s life and how complications don’t always arrive from one social group or source alone.

Kelly’s arrival and Ilyas’ Maths teacher takes the story on a wonderful and heart warming adjacent storyline. It’s here where I feel Khan does his best work; raising issues and challenging stereotypes not only within the story, but to the reader directly.

My favourite aspect of this story is the comic Ilyas and Kelly develop. The glimpses you get about the story will have all readers scrambling to Twitter and begging Khan to create the comic book proper.

Kick the Moon is out now.

Love Han x

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

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Devoted is quite possibly the most difficult read I’ve ever experienced. It’s expertly written and contained wonderful, well rounded and well intended, characters to compliment a complex and compelling story.

However, it really held me ransom and I had to take a few pauses and even considered abandoning it completely at one point. Again, this is actually a testament to the writer. Mathieu has, again, created something real and emotive.

It just so happens that while I have a love of books like Book of Fire and The Special One’s that contain a cult-like society, I found devoted, being one rooted within a real religion, so unbelievably frightening. There were certain fears I had about the progression of the plot and that the book would send an anti-religion message. I think my fear came from the thought that this plot is so real in parts of the world.

I’m happy to say, the message I wanted was made very clear. It’s the first contemporary book I’ve read in a long time that has had me question the world in which we live in. My main reason for not abandoning the book was that I felt I had a duty to not leave Rachel with her family. I felt overwhelmed and trapped within the narrative, just as she did.

Mathieu’s writing helped me moved past my own weakness and I felt like I was supporting Rachel on her journey. I loved the romantic sub plot between Rachel and Mark. More so that there was no rush to tell their story within the confines of the novel. I’ve been inspired, they’re now part of me and I will spend some time considering their blossoming friendship and perhaps romance.

Love Han x

Once & Future

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By Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

“This time, Excalibur chooses her.”

I finally watched Merlin last year. Yes, the BBC version that ended forever ago. Ever since I’ve been hooked on all things Arthurian. When given details about Once & Future, I audiably gasped. This was the book I had always wanted, yet didn’t know I needed.

What I loved most of all was the fact that this was not just a straight retelling; in more ways than one. Yes, its gender bent but with the added element of reincarnation. It was something that reminded me about a play I’d seen in the Globe in which the King in charge of the Crusades was given a second chance and the oportunity not to make the same mistake twice.

Characters

Having Arthur as a woman seems a quick and easy way to put a new book out there. However, it adds so much more to the richness of the tale than that. Ari is not just a gender bent icon. She’s her own person first, with a back story to make anyone weep. She’ll steal your heart and mend your soul while giving you grief.

It’s Merlin’s arrival that brings me the most joy. He is a beautiful character and, for me, the scene stealer from his first arrival. His predicament, his old soul and waining hope is everything you need to wish you were at his side.

Gwen and the knights are stunningly original and powerfully rich in prophesy and lolyalty. You couldn’t have a story without them. Each character is given development, humour and heart.

Story

The story is hot, sexy and unapologicetcally cool. Representation is accounted for, not in some PC checkbox excercise but something so very organic and meaningful. No one is given a label without purpose. Correction, no one is given a label. Gender and sexuality is so freely represented and commented upon that it will keep me, and any reader, happy for many months to come.

The only thing that makes me more intregied is the books final act reveal that will very much change how this organic social structure is considered in the sequel. Something I am very excited to get to.

Writing

The writing is flawlessly engaging. Drama, emotion and action are all presented in smooth and clear ways that will have the reader begging for the follow up the second they finish this first installment.

Jack Loves Rosie Blog Tour- Important Journeys

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Rosie Loves Jack by Mal Darbon is one of my favourite reads of 2018. It hooked me from the first page and reduced me to tears by the delightful ending. It is my absolute pleasure to be part of this blog tour, telling you about my own journey of discovery.

Getting Lost and Finding Myself

The Giant’s Causeway

In July 2016 I was in a weird place. I’d lost a bit of who I was while trying to be what I thought other people liked. Namely a boy. I’d convinced myself that if I lost enough weight, he’d at least look at me in away that wasn’t disgust. To me, he was beautiful, funny and I would have been happy for him to just be my friend.

He never did see me as anything other than ugly and pathetic and I didn’t speak to him again when I left my job in July. I was 3 stone lighter,but I was also beginning my journey into managing the chemical imbalance in my brain that had led to life defining anxiety and depression. I don’t think I’d ever hated myself more.

One of my favourite people in the whole world suggested a trip to Oban and the Outer Hebrides by way of landing on the beach of Barra. I jumped at the chance and hoped time away would mend my broken soul.

Finding Myself

One thing I decided before we left was that I would use this opportunity to try foods I wouldn’t normally. No burgers, no pizza and no salads. Being Scotland, my diet became primarily fish based. From the ‘best fish and chips’ to muscles, I tried it all.

The best part of this new mind set was trying oysters for the first time. London isn’t void of the shellfish; but they’re never cheap especially when you’re not certain you’ll like them. Turns out, I love them and that moment marked a much more experimental me when it comes to food.

The whole experience was documented

Searching for gods in all the Ancient Places

My friend, knowing I was struggling with my mental health,found some ancient rituals that took place in the area we visited. One was sacrificing wine to the god in order to be given good health over the following year. I didn’t have any wine on me, so I’m hoping the grapes I chucked were accepted with equally good grace.

The other was to walk 7 times around the church in a clockwise direction to improve your mental outlook. Having waded into the sea to offer my grapes, I didn’t want to put on my shoes. I figures the surrounding area of the church in question would be grass so off I went down the path towards the church.

How wrong I was. Not only was the quarter mile to the church(only accessible by foot) pathed with sharp rocks and nettles, so was the entire path around the church; it was almost as if someone knew I was going to attempt to do this barefoot.

The first lap was unbearable and I considered giving up and just letting my friend complete it without me. That was when I noticed there was a small concrete section next to the wall of the building. If I was careful with my footing and pace; I could walk it pain free. And so I did.

There were the corners that were hard and if I took them too fast, my feet paid the price. However, the last two laps were taken without a single misstep. Not sure it was what I was meant to take away from the activity, but I certainly saw it as a perfect metaphor for my own mental health.

From God to a Naughty Dog

I wasn’t the only person who was lost on this holiday in the highlands. While trying to find out way to our fourth (possibly fifth?) hotel of the trip, we encountered what looked like a frightened and lost terrier dog.

After getting our directions from the Post Office that just so happened to be back the way we’d come, I decided to walk while my friend drove ahead. This was in the hopes of me capturing the lost looking pup and getting him back home. I should point out here that I’m a little bit like Hagrid; I’d spent the entire trip trying to stroke the cows and any other animals we happened upon.

Alvie

However, I soon realised he had a cunning, yet dastardly, plan. The ankle height beauty would stand still, trembling until I got to grasping distance; when he’d run away at full speed. He then leapt over the grassy dip at the side of the road and waited on the other side. There was nothing for it but to jump over myself. Except I fell into the dip and plastered myself with mud. I swear I heard him laugh.

I gave up after that and decided to inform whomever lived at the house we’d just past, figuring that it must be theirs. The gentleman opened his door. Between myself and my friend, we explained that we’d seen this dog, that we’d tried to catch him and that if he was to hear about a lost dog we’d last seen it in what we assumed was his field.

“Oh, that’s Alvie! He’s forever getting out of my neighbour’s yard and causing mischief.”

Rosie Loves Jack is out now. 

Q and A with Victor Dixen

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If you were part of the crew, waiting to meet your future partner, what would your approach to the speed dating be?

 

Well, I think I would adopt the same position as Léonor: enjoy the trip to space and try to stay authentic, escaping the show business madness.

I would probably use a “logical” rule as she did, inviting each contestant the exact same number of times to attend the speed-dating sessions with me.

But is it really possible, to be both part of the game and out of the game?

This is one of the questions raised in Phobos 

 

 

The Phobos series feels very epic. Would you be happy to see your work turned into a film or tv series?

Actually, I wrote Phobos a bit like script or a storyboard. Instead of “chapters”, I chose to organize the text around “sequences”, each of them corresponding to a different camera angle. Since Phobos is primarily a novel about images and screens, I thought it would be logical and impactful to have this kind of partitioning.

 

I really visualized this story in my head while writing it, and I would love to see it again on a real screen – re-imagined by a director!

 

 

If the series was turned into a TV show or film, do you have any cast in mind?

Not really…

But I’m always interested to see the proposed casting posted by readers on social networks and blogs. I gathered a few of them here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/victor.dixen.books/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1046079018771786

There is one actress though who I could totally see playing the role of Serena, though: the great Tilda Swinton!

 

 

Were you ever tempted to make fundamental changes to the series before translation?

It always feels great when I learn that one of my books will be published in another language, because it means that the story will be shared with new readers.

For the English translation, a very talented translator has been appointed by my British publisher Bonnier: Daniel Hahn. He actually pointed out a few things we should change for the English edition, for the sake of cultural background or consistency. Apart from that, I didn’t feel the need to make significant changes.  

 

 

 

If you could give your readers an insight into the third book with three words: what would they be?

NEVER . ADMIT . DEFEAT

 

What was your initial inspiration for the series?

There are two ideas at the origin of Phobos.

The first idea is linked to space conquest, a theme that has always interested me since I was a child. Today, we have the technology allowing us to go to Mars, but not to come back. The possibility of a one-way ticket stimulated my imagination.

The second idea is linked to the way our world seems to be fascinated by images. We are surrounded by screens, for better and for worse. On the one hand, screens give us the possibility to establish dialogues and relationships throughout the world, and they are also an unlimited territory for creativity. But on the other hand, it is difficult to escape from the flux of images: screens prompt us to react emotionally and instantly to every stimulus, without thinking first. 

That is the reason why images are so important in Phobos :image of the self, image of the others, false appearances. 

 

 

Which other French authors, other than yourself, would you recommend for young adults taking their GCSEs in order to develop their language skills?

Christelle Dabos has built a great fantasy world in her series “La Passe-Miroir”, that has just been translated to English this year under the title “The Mirror Visitor Quartet”. It’s great that this story is available in the 2 languages, for readers who want to develop their French while still keeping an eye on the English text. You will find here the same sense of wonder in the magical “His Dark Material” series, by Philip Pulman.

For those of you who would like to win the first two books, comment on this post telling me who you would most like to head to Mars with.

Distortion by @VictorDixen @HotKeyBooks

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About:

After a speed-dating show that is literally out of this world, twelve young astronauts are set to become the first humans to colonise Mars. They are also the victims of the cruellest of plots.

Léonor thought she was a pioneer on an extraordinary mission. She thought she had left all regrets behind her on Earth. But when memories are this painful, there can be no forgetting . . .

Characters

Leonor is as wonderful as ever. Her relationship with the rest of the crew is a little more open. It gives the story scope and allows her to become the leader, whether she wants it or not. She is the consistent within a world of chaos and you’ll want to stay by her side from start to finish.

Returning characters Harmony and Andrew are thrown further into the fray in Distortion and they are a welcome addition to the narrative. Now Andrew is not trying to put pieces together on his own, the tension has changed somewhat. Allowing him to spend time with Harmony gives the reader more scope into his character and he’s someone I want to spend even more time with.

Plot

Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure where the sequel was going. By the mid way point I was convinced there wasn’t a sequel. I assumed that perhaps the trilogy was condensed, and it was leaving me a little sad. It’s on of the reasons why the final act pulled the rug from under me and yet again had me begging for the sequel. 

Collision cannot come quick enough for me. The writing is engaging and the story is compulsive. You can’t put it down and it certainly would make the perfect TV show for all ages.

 Pick up Distortion and Ascension now. Collision is due April 2019

https://amzn.to/2AmrhVq

OtherEarth by @jasonsegel and @banksirregular

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What do you do when your first novel in the Otherworld trilogy is near perfect? Well, you up the stakes of course. And with Jason and Kirstin at the helm, boy do they amp up the pressure!
A year ago, I went on an adventure that surpassed all my expectations. This year, I feel as if my imagination has been hijacked, given an upgrade and thrown onto a high speed rollercoaster. I was a bit worried that we’d be spending too much time out of the simulated world, but it’s actually where the drama and tension can really be found.
Simon has a plan, and he can’t do alone. In what can only be described as a Bond on the run, Simon and his friends locate allies, makes deals with enemies and try to not get the rug pulled from under them too many times.
The plot is such a wonderful treat, its best kept a secret until you read it for yourself, but I will say that there is a gritty realism within the narrative that is a refreshing change from the nostalgia trips other books like this provide. Kristin and Jason are able to provide a commentary on some deep and serious topics, including addiction.
The final act brings a mental health sub plot to a head. It’s something that is so subtle and unobtrusive to the plot that don’t be hard on yourself for it blind siding you.
The only fault I can find it that there wasn’t more of the book to read. It ends in such a way that you’ll be screaming and shouting about it for weeks after. Then, just to escape the fact that there’s a year until OtherLife reaches us, you’ll head back to Otherworld for another trip with Simon.

City of Dust by @MKennyPR @HQDigitalUK

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City of Dust_FINALCharacter
Talia is back on fighting form, with Max and her twin right at her side. The book jumps right back into Arafel life and brings with it a reunion of old friends and introduction of new players.
Talia continues to remain a character that will forever remain the perfect heroine that from the very start joined the ranks along with Katniss, Triss and Hermione. The impact of Book of Fire is clearly ingrained; she’s battle bruised and trying to keep her thoughts on track. It’s only really when she’s set on a new path that her strength is really propelled to the limelight.
While those who have given their hearts to August will have to wait patiently for his presence within the pages, it only gives you the opportunity to consider Max as a strong character and romantic partner for Talia. He’s Talia’s equal and not scared to show his annoyance. There was the briefest of minutes when I’d forgotten about August.

Story
The world building is as immersive as ever and will consume you completely. The description of the desolate streets are hauntingly beautiful. Aside from the characters, the world building is my favourite part of this series.
The story sees Tailia back in old territory and searching for a stolen item. However, it’s only the tip of the iceberg as the plot opens up to an exploration of eugenics of mythic proportions.
Readers will need to breath when they can, because as the story reaches its final act you won’t get opportunity to. It’s fast paced and epic showdown will leave your heart in your mouth. No one is safe and the fates of many will be left clinging to the edge of a shocking cliff when the final page comes around.

Writing
Just like meeting up with an old friend, the words envelope you in a comfortable hug. Just like Book of Fire, City of Dust contains a glossary for terms. However, the world is so beautifully written, and the action so carefully crafted that the words don’t need the glossary.
The only negative would be that it’s so good that it’s going to be a painful wait for the next instalment.

The Heartsick series by @ChelseaCain wrap up

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Click on the title link below to see my coverage of individual books and commentary on who I’d cast in the prominent roles. Hint- David Harbour.
Keep on reading and you’ll see a link to my Pintrest board that might compliment Cain’s AWESOME work. I was tempted to make predictions on any upcoming Archie/Gretchen novels, but I really want to keep those to myself. However, I did once entertain the idea of writing a fan fic that saw Susan on a book tour in Europe. She managed to be held hostage on the London Eye which would have given nail biting ticking clock.

 

https://www.bookdepository.com/Heartsick-Chelsea-Cain/9780312657819?ref=grid-view&qid=1535216223272&sr=1-10=CappyCrash

Heartsick

Sweetheart 

Evil at Heart

The Night Season
Kill You Twice
Let Me Go


My Pintrest Page

https://pin.it/r3zcf6omhoh6q7

So while reading this time, I started researching things (Namely Susan’s hair colours) and put them into a Pintrest board. Whenever my dad was talking AT me for so long that I could feel my vein popping in my head and I found myself reading the same line four or more times, I’d go into research mode.
Within the board you’ll find that it’s split into the individual books, with a separate one for Archie (David Harbour. Not going to lie, I’ve given up on anyone being cast other than that damn fine man! Follow him on Insta, I beg you.), a Misc one for Susan where it’s items of clothing she is described to wear more than once or I’m not sure which book it should be in.
I also spent some time falling in love with Portland and I’m now planning on going on holiday there in the next few years (read: ASAP).

Please enjoy and comment on any changes in casting you would have.

 

Love

Han x

Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain

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Another crime thriller knocked out of the park. There’s development of relationships, a character back from a previous outing (Pearl) and one of the most heartbreaking ending of the series. This reread I found myself stalling while I read. I considered, very briefly, that the stall was perhaps fatigue and that I would need another book inbetween this and the next one.
It wasn’t the case; I just didn’t want to get to the ending. I feel everything Susan does and this not only brings back memories of the Night Season, it sucker punches her, twice. I get the moment I’ve been waiting five books for, and not only is it cut short… we get Archie’s internal thoughts afterwards.

There isn’t really anyone for the casting couch today. Yes, Rachel does make her appearance in this book, but I really think that she would be played by an unknown/upcoming actress.

The Night Season by Chelsea Cain

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This has always been my favourite installment of the series. My review on Good Reads claims its because there’s no Gretchen. I’m sure that’s part of it, but certainly for this reading it was because it’s the one I see being a movie most. I love the history that’s woven into the plot, I love that it’s someone other than Archie or Susan who finds themselves in a hospital bed.

I gave these books to one of my best friends and the bit I love the most; the relationship between Archie and Susan, is the bit she hates. I love how subtle he is compared to her. I believe that. Maybe because I see so much of myself in Susan I want to believe that it can happen.

My favourite part of this book is the weather; it’s atmospheric and reminds me of the filmic boldness of Se7en (1995). While the rain adds a subdued tone to Se7en, it must have been a bitch to film in.

Casting Couch

Lozenzo Robbins


Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Perhaps a little older than the book describes, but I have always loved this dude and I think he has the ability to bring sass to the role.

Chadwick Boseman Newly appointed Avenger needs so grounded roles to even out the superhero stuff. Small role means it can be fitted in between Mouse House projects. While he’s an obvious choice in the same strand as Donald Glover (see below), he currently only has the Panther as his standout role. This could be the project that propels him beyond the Wakanda King.

Donald Glover This one for me is a little too obvious and bias. He’s Lando! Lando, for anyone who doesn’t know, is my all time favourite Star Wars character. He has all of Han’s roguishness, and ten times the charm. Never mind the fact that he’s now canonically pansexual. A flirt who finds anyone sexy, regardless of shape, size, colour; I admire that.
However, as I said, he’s too much of an obvious choice. With his film and music career, he’s the man of the moment. Nothing screams ‘ticking boxes’ like picking the most well known person of colour and saying ‘look we’re diverse’.
In reality, if I was producing this series, Robbins would actually go to a relatively unknown and upcoming actor.

Martin Ngyun


Ross Butler Another 13 Reasons Why actor in the mix here. Butler has been one of the stand out performances over the two series and I’m really glad he bowed out of Riverdale to complete series 2. He may be a little on the young side at 28, but hell he’s just spent the last few years playing characters ten years his junior, I’m certain he can go the other way.

Harry Shum Jr The Shadowhunters Alumni would be perfect for this role. Such a beautiful man! Okay, so I’ll also admit it, while this is a dream casting I am also thinking strategy. Having Either of these two in the role would bring a fandom to the cinema and if we start making these movies, there’s no way on earth we’re not getting to THIS film.

Jeff Heil

tye
Tye Sheridan really got my attention as Wade Watts in Ready Player One! Interestingly enough I dismissed another 13 Reasons actor for his age, yet he’s is actually the same age as Tye. There’s a few scenes in this book that I would love to see Tye get his teeth into; two that see him play against Susan.

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain book review

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Quite possibly book I’ve read least out of the series. Have no idea why as it’s an incredible addition to the series. I did notice during my reread it was the only I don’t own on kindle as well as paperback.

My favourite aspect about this book, is the exploration of fandom. We get to see an almost cult following for Gretchen, people keeping track of how long she’s been free for, a manicure inspired by her and what is discovered to be a run of copy cat killings that, at first glance, are believed to have been done by Gretchen herself; breaking the pact she had made with Archie at the end of Sweetheart.

We see the introduction of the Reynolds family, which is brilliant enough on its own. A drug lord who lost his daughter to Gretchen. Jack, the patriarch of the Reynolds family, is someone Archie can turn to. It subverts that corrupt cop perception; Archie may be turning a blind eye to Jack’s enterprise, but he’s certainly not on the take. Then you find out that the family lawyer, is just that. Leo is the son to Jack and he seems to be enamored by Susan. While I am very much wanting Susan and Archie together by the end of this series, it’s nice to see someone showing Susan some affection and, more importantly, her playing it cool with him.


Casting couch

Leo Reynolds 

Brendon Urie
There’s no one else I’d have in this role. I’m so set on this casting choice, I even used my question for a Q&A to see if he was open to film roles now that he’s done theatre. This inspired casting came about because Panic! At the Disco have a namesake song: Let Me Go.
On that thread, I would have a Panic! song within each film.

Jeremy Reynolds 

Ansel Elgort
Lucas Hedges
Both Ansel and Lucas have this underlying creep factor while oozing charm. I think a little twist in their performance and they could bring Juston to life.

Joe Kerry
Charlie Heaton may be the more obvious choice from the Hawkins High boys, but hear me out. Charlie is exactly that, obvious. Stranger Things used and played up the ‘creep’ offensive. Add that to his ‘bad boy’ off screen persona, I just feel that it’s a little bit of typecasting that wouldn’t work for this.
However, in the book, Archie describes his connection to Justin. The fact that he’s a survivor, just like him. Who better to play against David Harbour than his hollywood ‘mini me’

71c18f176ccff37aa792af845ce28234

Miles Heizer
Miles has already shown many layers to his acting throughout two series of 13 Reasons Why.

Jack Reynolds 

  • Chris Cooper 
  • Bryan Cranston
  • Richard Jenkins
  • James Caan

The only person on this list I’m a little unsure of, is Bryan Cranston. He might be better suited to the senator from the previous book. Chris Cooper would be my favourite choice as he has that air of command and a closer look to Urie. Damn, it’s hard when you have one person in mind.

Pearl

Bella Thorne
Multi talented Thorne is a chameleon and would be perfect for the runnaway Pearl. Her music persona fits the description from this book, while her other roles prove that she is able to represent the adaptable Pearl that reappears in book 5.