Wednesday 29 April 2015

Three Recent YA Reads

I've decided I don't really want to write whole reviews for books unless I've accepted them for that purpose or unless they were really ridiculously outstanding and I have loads to say about them. Instead I'm going to do what I said I would do ages ago and try grouping books together and talking about them that way. Despite my constant comments about not really reading YA, I've been on a bit of a binge lately. This primarily has to do with the YA section at the library being in the same room with the children's section so I can easily browse while the boys are looking. To look at adult books and nonfiction I have to leave the room and go somewhere else and they're not often willing to come so yes, YA is the easy grab.

A while ago I was at my old library (which is still the library that has my heart, although the new one is lovely) and grabbed The Diviners by Libba Bray and Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian, which I'd read an extract from in the back of We'll Always Have Summer. I asked twitter which I should read first and Andi prompted me to read The Diviners which I absolutely devoured. I finished it in two days (two because I'm easily freaked and had to stop reading whenever it got near bedtime) and immediately put myself on the hold list for the sequel which isn't even out yet!

Basically The Diviners is a murder mystery set in 1920s New York with strong supernatural elements and just so many speakeasys and flappers and jazz references that I couldn't not read it. Libba Bray's writing is fantastic and the plot was always engrossing and unexpected. Honestly it's probably not that creepy if you read creepy stuff a lot but I don't so it was creepy for me. Mostly that there's a song about a murderer which reoccurs throughout it and is just pretty chilling, but there are also a fair few pretty unpleasant characters, as well as some awesome ones. I've been hearing about Libba Bray for a few years now and I really wish I'd picked up some of her books sooner!

After I finished that I pretty much immediately started Burn for Burn which, if you're unfamiliar, is the first in a trilogy of stories about three girls trying to get their revenge on three people they feel have wronged them in some way. It's pretty different from The Diviners being set in a high school on a small island and most of the action focuses on teenage friendships/relationships and who did what to whom type tales. It was a really fun read with a lot of action and some interesting characters who I'm looking forward to finding out more about in the next book.

Finally, for the 24 hour readathon last weekend I picked up a few books to add to my TBR stack last minute, and Charlotte suggested Every Day by David Levithan would be really good for the readathon. Apparently it's all about blogger friends telling me to read stuff recently because it was really really good for the readathon. I loved this book so so much. A wakes up in a different body each day - always the body of a sixteen year old but that's about the only similarity. Each day A is someone different, until he meets someone he wants to be with every day...

The premise of this books is so unusual and intriguing and it deals with some crazy issues surrounding identity and what affects who you love. As I'd expected from reading Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Levithan's writing was beautiful and the story was told in such a unique and brilliant way that it gave me hope and broke my heart at the same time. I honestly can't urge you enough to read this book, and I just found out that there's a companion book which I will be getting hold of as soon as I possibly can.

So for someone who doesn't read YA, that's quite a bit of awesome YA in a pretty short space of time. Maybe I should just stop lying to myself, do you think?

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Re-Readathon and Bout of Books!

If you follow me or the Ninja Book Swap on twitter you'll probably have heard me going on (and on and on) about the Re-Readathon I'm hosting. It starts next Monday May 4th and runs till Sunday 10th and is an entire week dedicated to re-reading all the books you really love but never get time to re-read.

There are pretty much no requirements for it, just that what you're reading is something you've read before. If you have a blog and want to participate there that's fantastic, but equally if you don't and want to take part on twitter or instagram that's also fine, I'll be doing a bit of sharing over there as well. If you follow me (@NinjaBookSwap on twitter or @armchairbythesea on Instagram) you'll see all the updates and if you use #rereadathon then we can all visit each other and chat easily! I'd love to see pictures of what you're planning to read, here's my stack:

There will also be my very first twitter chat (!!) taking place on Wednesday (6th) evening at 9pm GMT. If you can, please be there for this as it will suck if I'm just talking to myself. 

It would be great if you could spread the word about this readathon by declaring your intention to join in either on your blog, twitter or Instagram and linking up here. Everyone's who's formally signed up through this linky will get one entry into a giveaway for a book of their choice and you'll be able to get more entries as the week goes on by doing various things. 

If you signed up on the original post it would be great if you could also link up here, but with a post/tweet/picture mentioning the #rereadathon, thanks! What are you waiting for? 

Bout of Books 13

Bout of Books

I'd just also quickly like to mention Bout of Books, which is the week after the Re-Readathon. For those who don't know, 

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I don't know what I'll be reading yet for Bout of Books but I'm so excited about it! If you've not participated before you really should - it's so low pressure because the goal is just to read more than you usually would, and the atmosphere is usually fantastic. I generally discover at least a few new to me blogs as well which is never a bad thing! 

Check out the link above for more details and to sign up! 

Sunday 26 April 2015

#readathon wrap up

My first 24 hour readathon since 2012 was a total success! I read for about 18 hours on and off and about six hours solidly and finished four books plus half of another novel and a few essays. I also raised a grand total of £93.25 for Beanstalk which will go through my JustGiving page towards my goal for this year once it's been rounded up from various friends and relatives who dislike using the internet to donate! Here's my end of event survey:

1. Which hour was the most daunting for you? 

I think if I hadn't had a nap after hour 13 (1.30am ish) then the hours after that would have been awful. As it was I had a decent four hour nap and woke up raring to go - I finished Saga before I'd even made my first cup of tea!

2. Could you list a few high - interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Every Day was fantastic, I raced through it! Also I'd recommend graphic novels - Fairest and Saga both worked fantastically well for me and they're so short you feel like you've achieved loads in practically no time!

3. Do you have any suggestions on how to improve the Readathon for next year?

I have no idea how you could do it better than it was done, because there was a list provided and everything but I was personally fairly overwhelmed (mostly in a great way!) by the amount of people reading! I found it harder than previously to blog hop effectively so I mostly didn't, which was a shame, but maybe I'll just sign up to be a cheerleader next time too as lots of people have said that made it easier for them!

4. What do you think worked really well in this year's Readathon?

It was my first time using Instagram for it and I loved that because it was super easy to check out the hashtag and leave people quick likes and comments in the time when I was making more tea or having a walk around the house. Also as usual it was incredibly well run and very organised with loads of great mini challenges!

5. How many books did you read?

I finished four - two novels (one YA, one children's) and two graphic novels, plus I read half of The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler and about four essays. 

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Every Day by David Levithan, The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo, Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham and Saga Volume 1 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples (all finished), and The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler and Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron. 

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

I loved Every Day and Fairest but I think this has to be Saga, just like everyone told me I would. Unfortunately I have no idea when I'll be able to get hold of the second volume as my library don't stock it and I am obviously on a year long book buying ban *sobs*

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Probably The Wreck of the Zanzibar, which my mum has been telling me to read for years. It wasn't bad, it was fine, but he's written better. 

9. N/A

10. How likely are you to participate in the Readathon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Oh so likely. Now that I've figured out it can be done with Rhys at work and two little ones to look after, it shall be done, every time! I'd be quite likely to sign up to read and cheer next time. 

So readathon was awesome and I can't wait for the next one! I'm so excited to have been able to raise more towards my fundraising goal as well and to have discovered some awesome new blogs! 

If you're already missing the readathon, fear not! I have a Re-Readathon (a week dedicated solely to rereads) coming up starting next Monday (May 4th) and you can sign up and find all the details at this post. Hope to see you all there!

Saturday 25 April 2015

#readathon: Challenges

The 24 hour readathon has begun and although I'm only sporadically participating til the boys are asleep in a few hours I've already read them 8 books and managed to read about 20 pages of Every Day by David Levithan so it's not going badly so far! Because I love love love mini challenges, here are the first two!

Opening meme

1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I'm in Kent, UK. The weather is weird - it started out rainy but now the sun is trying to come out. If it stays out I may get the garden furniture out and read outside for a bit this afternoon!

2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably Fairest or Saga. It's all about the graphic novels, but I'm saving them for when I get a bit sleepier and less able to concentrate on big stuff.

3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?

My bag of Marvellous mix ups or the Malted Milk and Marmalade ice cream we got the other day probably, both of which I'm cracking out after dinner. Also excited about dinner - jacket potatoes with chilli and cheese, yes please!

4. Tell us a little something about yourself

I'm on a year long book buying ban as part of my efforts to raise money to support amazing children's literacy charity Beanstalk, who help to organise reading projects in schools in my area and most of the rest of the UK. I'm readathoning for them and selling off my books as I read them via eBay and my blog. Because I'm reading in aid of them today I thought what better way to kick off the readathon than getting my kids (aged 2.5 and not quite 1) involved in making their own stack of books and reading as many as I can to them for the first five or six hours? It's working out well so far!

5. If you participated in the last readathon what's one thing you'll do differently today?

I haven't participated since 2012, but the only thing I'll do differently is to try not to put too much pressure on myself! It's as much about the social side and talking about our shared love of books than the reading and staying awake!

Classic Words of Wisdom 

For the mini challenge for hour 2 Allie of A Literary Odyssey challenges us to share our favourite words of wisdom from a classic. Probably unsurprisingly (to those who know me anyway!) mine are from my all time favourite book, Little Women. Actually, there's more than one, but that's allowed, right?

 I love the whole chapter that this comes from but particularly this quote because it always reminds me that no matter how much I feel like staying in my pajamas indoors all day I always feel much better if I do something productive as well. 

This is actually from Good Wives but it just reminds me the importance of always making sure people know I love them. 

So there we go! I'm off for more reading and some playing with playdough!

Treasure Hunt Challenge

For this challenge we have to find a book cover featuring each of three things: a tree, snow, and a weapon. Here's what I found (with minimal digging actually!)

This was a fun challenge :-) 

Mid Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?

I just finished my third book, The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo and I'm going to move on to Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron I think.

2. How many books have you read so far?

Three. Every Day by David Levithan, Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham and others, and The Wreck of the Zanzibar. 

3. What book are you most looking forward to in the second half of the readathon?

I'm not sure... I'm hoping to get volume 1 of Saga read but I also like the look of The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler. One (or both?) of these after a brief essay break I think and then a nap!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Not many yet. The boys both woke up a little bit (they're both teething at the moment) but it was after Rhys got home from work so he mostly dealt with that! I won't be up too much longer just in case they wake up stupidly early tomorrow. I don't do well on no sleep and don't want to end up yelling unnecessarily in the middle of the night!

5. What surprises you most about the Readathon so far?

I don't know if surprise is the right word because it's inevitable with so many participants, but I'm finding it a lot harder than in previous readathons to visit other people's blogs as there are just so many people taking part it's really awkward to know where to start!

Draw It Out Challenge

This hours' challenge is hosted by Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. She wants us to draw our current read. Instead of drawing what it's about I decided to pictorially represent the title of The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler. I hope you appreciate my skills.

Readathon Time!

It's 24 hour readathon time and even though I won't be able to take part until about hour 6, providing the boys actually go to bed at their normal time, I couldn't be more excited! The last time I participated officially was April 2012, so it's been a while. Since then (when I was pregnant with Benji) I've used the kids as an excuse for why I can't take part because I thought if I couldn't do the whole 24 hours there was no point in taking part at all, but this time I decided to call bullshit on that and take part as much as I possibly can once the boys are in bed and on Sunday morning (in my timezone the readathon runs from 1pm on Saturday til 12:59pm on Sunday) when Rhys is home. Before hour 6 I'll be around on twitter (on the Ninja Book Swap account, @NinjaBookSwap) and Instagram (@armchairbythesea) and hopefully popping in and out of people's blogs a bit.

Before I get on to the pictures of books, I wanted to mention my charity. Like lots of other people I'm reading for a charity and my reading is part of my year long fundraising project for Beanstalk who provide volunteers to help with literacy in primary schools. I'm donating a penny per page I read plus £2 for each finished book via my JustGiving page. If you'd like to support me and my charity you can donate there as well or you can let me know how you'd like to sponsor my reading via this form. Your support would be hugely appreciated!

So now, onto the books! obviously I've made a stupidly big pile of potential reads but it's always good to have choice. Here's what I've got:

The photo is ridiculously small and rubbish so here we go, from the bottom up! I've got a lot of graphic novels for the tired hours, then some novels and a couple of nonfiction titles I can read in short bursts.

Graphic Novels

Tank Girl One - Hewlett & Martin  - I have three volumes of Tank Girl and I really want to read it. Maybe it will happen during readathon!

Fairest: Wide Awake - Bill Willingham and others - Ahhhh Fairest. I don't think I could be much more excited about this, it will get read. 

Harlequin Valentine  - Neil Gaiman & John Bolton - I think this will be a quick read and since I've been dying to read it for years there's no reason not to really. 

Saga Vol 1 - Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples - I feel like everyone in the world has read Saga except me. I'm going to be getting to this early on I hope. 

Daredevil Visionaries - Kevin Smith - I should really try to get to this as it's on loan from my brother who is very precious about his graphic novels and keeps them all in the plastic they arrived in... Plus it looks fun. 

Civil War - Mark Millar - See above. Also it's the book that the next Captain America film is based on, so there's that. 


Pigeon Post - Arthur Ransome - The latest in my Swallows and Amazons reading, I'll probably dip in and out of this one, I'm not really expecting to make any serious progress.

The Tin Can Tree - Anne Tyler - Picked by the TBR tin but quite a short novel and I love Anne Tyler so I'm expecting a pretty easy read.

The Wreck of the Zanzibar - Michael Morpurgo - Picked by the TBR tin. Can't actually believe I haven't read this yet.

Oranges are not the Only Fruit - Jeanette Winterson - Picked by the TBR tin but perfect because it's short and I've wanted to read it for ages.


Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women & Scribble Scribble: Notes on the Media - Nora Ephron - essays I can dip in and out of and if it's anything like my previous experience of Nora it will provide some necessary hilarity.

The Edible Atlas  - Mina Holland - I've just started this and it's segments about various different world cuisines along with recipes. Perfect from some light relief.

I think I'm probably going to start with a few chapters of The Edible Atlas, and probably Fairest and see where I go from there. I'll update for the first bit (before the boys are asleep) here and then post future updates as separate posts. I'm hoping to take part in a few mini challenges and visit a few new blogs as well as keeping up with my regulars.

Update Hours 1-6 

Pages read: from my own book, 94. From kids picture books to the boys, countless.

Books read from: Every Day by David Levithan

Books finished: In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back & Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss, Moomin and the Birthday Button & Moomin and the Moonlight Adventure by Tove Jansson, Happy Birthday Peppa!, We Love You Hugless Douglas & Don't Worry Hugless Douglas by David Melling, Happy Families, The Wheels on the Bus, Superbabe by Deborah van der Beek, Arthur's Teacher Trouble by Marc Brown, The Smartest Giant in Town & A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson, Teatime for Pirates! by Richard Dungworth, The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori and Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy.

Snacks consumed: Some hummus and pitta, chicken and thyme sensations, dinner (jacket potato with chilli and cheese, yum), and an entire bag of Cadbury's Marvellous Mix Ups. Now I feel slightly sick.

I've been reading Every Day on and off while the boys have been awake and also reading a lot to them. As I'm fundraising for a charity that supports children's literacy I thought what better way to do it than reading to my own children? Benji loved it, he made his own 'readathon stack' (or werfun, which was the closest he could get to saying readathon) and demanded stories all day. He kept telling me that 'stories so coool' which made me the proudest, I'm sure you can imagine. I'm trying to catch up and comment on a few blogs and possibly participate in a couple more challenges (I did the intro questions and Allie's classics challenge already) and then I'm getting down to the reading! Might have to make myself another cup of tea first though!

Update Hours 7-9

Pages read: 371 total

Books read from: Every Day by David Levithan

Books finished: Every Day by David Levithan

Snacks Consumed: None actually but I'm just about to get up and make myself another cup of tea before I start my next book!

I'm keeping my challenges in a separate post but I did the Treasure Hunt challenge which was fun and I'll probably do another a bit later on. This readathon is gearing up to be expensive for me! I already owe nearly £40! I think I'm the only person saying maybe I should be spending more time on twitter....

Update Hours 10-12

Pages read: 654 total

Books read from: Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham, The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo

Books finished: See above.

Snacks consumed: Malted milk and marmalade ice cream, chicken and thyme sensations, my last bottle of coke (necessary to keep me awake)

It's past midnight here and I've just had my last bottle of coke which has given me a bit of a second wind! I'm not planning to stay awake the whole 24 hours as I have little kids and Sunday is the only day we get to spend all together, with Rhys as well, but I am planning another couple of hours, hopefully another book? We'll see. Given that the rate of my reading is so much higher than expected we've decided that instead of me donating the £2 for finishing all 16 books with the boys earlier, I'll keep my donations as stated above for all of my books that I've read and Rhys will donate 50p per book I finished with the boys plus the 2p a page he's sponsoring me for my reading. Basically because we're not rich enough to carry on with the original plan! Still, hoping to raise a fair amount through our donations as well as lovely friends and family sponsoring me (remember if you want to do that you can here). Bring on hour 13!

Update Hour 19

Pages read: 852 total

Books read from: Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron, The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler

Books finished: Every Day by David Levithan, Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham, The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo, Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Snacks consumed: tea, biscuits, toast with scrambled eggs and salmon

I woke up just before 6am, so just over two hours ago and crept downstairs to finish Saga while making tea. I need the second installment now, I'm off to check the library in a bit! Then I made scrambled eggs for everyone and started The Tin Can Tree. I think this will be my last book of the readathon but I may dip back into some essays from Crazy Salad over the next few hours. Rhys is taking Ben off to church in an hour or so and hopefully Sam will nap and I can get some more reading done!*crosses fingers like crazy*

Update Hour 23

Pages Read: 902 total

Books read from: The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler, Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron

Books finished: See Hour 19 update.

Snacks consumed: chicken and thyme sensations, malted milk biscuits.

Had a bath, did some nice reading. Then Sam had a nap for a bit so I did some more reading. I switched from The Tin Can Tree back to Crazy Salad just because I wasn't really into it anymore. It's great and I'm about halfway through and will be finishing it but probably not during readathon! This will be my last update as once Rhys and Ben are back from church in the next half hour or so it will be family time. I've had SO much fun taking part in this readathon and my own donations at the moment will be £17 (I might round it up to £20) plus whatever I read before they get back. Rhys' will be a little more than that as he's pledged 2p a page plus 50p for each of the books I read to the boys yesterday. I'll be back later on today to do the closing questions and write a wrap up post!

Friday 24 April 2015

Fairytale Fridays: How Does a Fairytale Become a Fairytale?

Guys, it's finally the last Friday of the month! I thought quite a bit about what to write about for the inaugural Fairytale Fridays post and after toying with many of the ideas on my list of prompts I finally (prompted by a lot of watching of Once Upon a Time) decided to write about how a fairytale becomes accepted into the body of stories that we know as fairytales. 

As children we grow up with the 'classic' fairytales, and in my experience the study of fairytales will lead you towards stories such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Little Red Riding Hood, but there are a series of newer tales which have made their way into the fairytale canon and which as a child I loved at least as much if not more than the traditional tales. I'm talking about three specific stories, but I'm sure there are more that I haven't mentioned. The three which influenced me the most as a child are J.M Barrie's Peter Pan, L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. 

Again I'll bring this back to my recent watching of Once Upon a Time, which is really what got me started thinking about it. Obviously characters from Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz feature in the series and it's interesting to see people's reactions. Captain Hook starring alongside Snow White, Red Riding Hood and Rumplestiltskin has never felt weird to me, and as a child I spent hours waiting for Peter Pan to come and whisk me away to Neverland. I believed much more in Alice's rabbit hole to Wonderland than in the Beast's castle. I think part of me always recognised classic fairytales as moral teachings and pretty stories and although I believed in the magic presented in them I didn't necessarily believe in the places or the people, whereas with Peter Pan, Alice, Oz and Narnia I most definitely did. 

Maybe if the point of fairytales is to present us with a universal truth or to transmit cultural values to the young, then the addition of tales to the canon is inevitable and necessary. Maybe Pan and Alice resonate with the modern world's struggle to hold on to childhood and innocence as concepts in the same way that Hansel and Gretel did with people trying to teach their kids that the forest was a dangerous place to be in alone?

The collection of stories we refer to as fairytales has been growing pretty much as far back as we can tell, and especially since they began to be written down. It feels weird to me to accept that that wouldn't and probably shouldn't be a finite thing - that we should always be adding new tales and creating new magic and ways to explain the sometimes scary world to our children. To me fairytales feel a little like something special, even something a bit holy which anyone shouldn't be able to just make their work part of, so I wonder what the standard is that I'm setting before I'll allow myself to accept something as a fairytale? It can't be as simple as the inclusion of magic, because there are plenty of books I read as a child which contain that element and which I don't think of as fairytales. Honestly, I think it has to be more than it meeting a bunch of criteria. For me, the fairytales which stick are the ones that somehow speak to my soul. The ones that make me believe in the possibility of magic and happy ever afters and wonderful adventures. Maybe the ones which still show me something about myself? I'm not sure. 

What do you think? 

Fairytale Fridays is a monthly meme for all things fairytale and folklore related! Please link up your fairytale posts here and make sure to visit some other participating blogs. I'm back on the last Friday of each month, so the next link up will be May 29th! Spread the word on social media using #fairytalefridays.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Pratchett Adaptations or If you don't feel like reading, here are some alternatives

After Terry Pratchett died I hosted a Pratchett readathon here on the blog where I talked many Pratchett-related things for an entire seven days, almost every day. When I heard about the blog tour being organised in his honour by Viv I really wanted to participate but I wasn't sure what there was left for me to write about. Then a copy of the 1992 TV series of Truckers turned up on my doorstep and I thought; adaptations!

Terry Pratchett's numerous books have been adapted in many and various ways. I'm going to give a brief overview of all the adaptations and a little more details on a couple of my favourites! As previously mentioned there is a stop-motion series of Truckers first broadcast in 1992 which is now available on DVD if you want to watch it. I've watched some but not all of it and thought it was pretty good. The same company also made a two part adaptation of Wyrd Sisters (1997) and a mini series of Soul Music (1996), both of which are viewable on Youtube. In 2006 there was a BBC series of Johnny and the Bomb which I haven't yet watched as I haven't actually read the book yet so can't really comment.

And then there were things I have experience of and so can actually talk about! I'm assuming lots of people will have heard of if not seen the Sky One adaptations of Hogfather, The Colour of Magic and Going Postal starring such people as Marc Warren, David Jason, Joss Ackland, Tony Robinson, Ian Richardson, David Suchet, Tamsin Greig and Andrew Sachs among many others. I'll be honest and say that at first I didn't love The Colour of Magic (which is really The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic) but in all honesty that probably has something to do with the books not being my favourite and the more I watch it, the more I like it. My absolute favourite of all the Pratchett adaptations I've watched has got to be Hogfather (also one of my favourite books). I just think that the casting is perfect - Michelle Dockery is absolutely fantastic as Susan, Marc Warren is totally creepy as Mr. Teatime, and David Jason as Albert is pure brilliance. It's worked its way into my family's Christmas tradition, no easy feat. I honestly think it's just beautiful and fantastic and hilarious and if you haven't seen it you should. You can get it on eBay for about a pound, what are you waiting for?

I also really like Going Postal, although I didn't enjoy it as much as the book. Like Hogfather it's very well cast and David Suchet is the villain which is just fantastic for a Poirot fan like myself to behold!

Finally, I've been listening to the Radio 4 adaptation of Good Omens with Peter Serafinowicz and Mark Heap and I'm actually enjoying it a lot more than I enjoyed reading the book alone. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but this is better. It's kind of like comparing reading Fortunately, the Milk yourself or having Neil Gaiman read it to you. Obviously the second is the better option, which is why I don't need to read my copy of that book for a while. If you've not heard it you should check it out. The link above will work until the end of the month!

While we're on the subject of adaptation I'll just give an honourable mention to Tony Robinson's fantastic reading of the Discworld series on audio. These are abridged but his voice is, in my mind, perfect for the stories and actually the audiobook of Equal Rites is how I convinced my husband that Pratchett is fantastic. There are also unabridged versions read by Nigel Planer and Celia Imrie.

Oh, oh, aaaaaand just in case you're a fan of graphic novels, The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Mort and Guards!Guards! have all been adapted into graphic novels. According to Rhys they're also great. I will get to them soon!

So that read more like a litany of 'things I'm doing to watch/read/listen to one day' and less like a reliable account from a person who know anything, but you should know that everything mentioned in this post is something I'm excited about watching/reading/listening to and plan to get to as soon as possible. The good thing, if it can be called that, to come from Terry Pratchett's passing for me is that I've discovered how much there is that I haven't yet experienced. I thought I'd read pretty much everything but it transpires that's not even close to being true, and even in writing this post I've discovered other adaptations I didn't know of.

Just before I go, although I don't think it's going to be touring anytime soon, if you get the chance do go and see Mort: the Musical. It's worth your time.

Check out the other blogs on the tour or follow along on twitter at #TerryPratchettBlogTour.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

It's been a long time since I really read any fantasy. As a teenager I was really into it, David Gemmell was pretty much the only author I read for about a year, but in recent years I've just not had the patience to start series which will inevitably go on for at least eight books and take up all of my time. Then I was sent Uprooted by the publisher and thought it looked interesting and I'm really glad that I gave it a go as it's totally up my street. 

Agnieszka loves her quiet village in the valley, right next to the bright,shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and it's shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows - everyone knows - that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn't, ad her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. 

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him...

From the blurb you'll probably see why my initial thought was 'Hunger Games', however as I started to read that instantly changed to 'Beauty and the Beast'. Actually, Uprooted is neither. It draws its inspiration from folklore and specifically the story of Baba Jaga which I will admit to only being familiar with (if the term can be applied) through the Fables series, although Fairytale Fridays start this week so watch this space for a Baba Jaga themed month!

After my recent binge-watching of Once Upon a Time it has been really refreshing to read something where the magic is more bound up in nature rather than being driven by the desire for revenge (although there is some of that here too). Although Uprooted started off a little slowly for me it really picked up the pace very quickly and I was engrossed the whole way through. I really like it when books I wasn't expecting anything from become ones I can't wait to pick up and find out what happens next and that definitely happened with this. I really liked Agnieszka as a character although there were certain elements of the story (I won't go in to detail so as to avoid spoilers) that I found myself seeking out while skimming over others a little. Also I will say that I was a little disappointed by the ending. Not that it was bad, just not quite as... big as I'd expected. It was a little anti-climactic that's all. 

That said, I would definitely say that this is recommended reading for my fellow fairytale lovers. 

Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review consideration.