Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Harry Potter US Boxset Review

I know most booktubers got this boxset for Christmas, but I still wanted to do a photo heavy review for those thinking of buying it.

Firstly the box the set comes in looks like this:


Pretty! But unfortunately I find the box a bit tight and it means it's really hard to get the books out and back in again. I've actually banged up one of the books trying to get it out and put it back which is really annoying. No matter how pretty this box is, it's a little impractical.


All the books together form a scene of Hogwarts castle, which I unfortunately forgot to photograph the right way up.


The books themselves are made of a lovely matte feeling cover and the pages seem very sturdy and well bound. It's unfortunate that they decided to re-print these with all the American changes (like Sorcerer's Stone instead of Philosopher's Stone) because now most of the HP community know all the original English titles, names etc... But what can you do?

I'll include the rest of the pictures in a read more section below for those of you who don't want to see any more of them and just wanted to find out about the boxset.

Overall I am very pleased with the books, they are very well done and the cover art is absolutely stunning. I love the pastel colours and there is a lot of purple and blue running through the art work which I love as they are some of my favourite colours. I definitely think any HP fanatic will be happy to have this on their shelves.

Monday, 21 July 2014

7 Years Since Harry Potter

Today it has been 7 years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released.


I wanted to mark this momentous occasion with more than just a tweet. In those 7 years I have defeated anxiety and depression, completed all my schooling with a first class degree and moved out of my parents house. My first ever copies of each Harry Potter book now sit on my shelves in a place of pride, but yellowing and in some instances damaged after being loved too much by my young hands. I have since acquired a set of American editions, but I also want another set of UK ones because let's face it, the UK ones are really how it's meant to be read no matter how pretty my American ones are. 

7 years feels like a tremendously long time, yet it is less than a decade, and I have already acquired just over two of those. Still, no matter how many decades I add, nor how yellow and destroyed my first copies get, Harry Potter will always have a place of pride on my bookshelves and in my heart. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

YALC - Saturday Wrap Up

On Saturday 12th of July I went to YALC. YALC, for those of you that don't know, stands for Young Adult Literary Convention. This was it's first year and it took place in London as part of London Film and Comic Convention. Organised by Malorie Blackman herself the event was created to celebrate some of the very best Children's and Young Adult fiction. As the UK really doesn't have anything of the sort it was a very big event, much bigger than I believe the organisers were anticipating, but I'll get onto why I felt like that later.

We arrived at Earls Court at about 11.30 having already bought our tickets online so we were allowed straight in. If you ever plan on going to something at LFCC then buying your tickets online is a must! People were queuing for hours to get tickets out in the midday heat, and it was definitely hot out for England. When we got there the cloakroom was already full which at first I wasn't too bothered about as I started off travelling quite light but then I bought a few more books so by the end of it I (and by I what I actually mean is my boyfriend) was struggling under the weight of all those paperbacks.

While I was there I met a few bloggers, vloggers and publishers who I'd gotten to know through various social networking sites, and it was lovely to finally meet people in person. Although, I have to say most of my interactions with people were disappointingly brief because of how hectic the whole event was. Everyone was busy trying to get into one queue or another for signings and so it left very little time for socialising, at least that was my experience. Some of the wonderful girls I met included Lucy, Amber, Helen, Cait, and a few others briefly.

Helen took this photo of the three of us. 

I didn't get many pictures of the area unfortunately but here's some of what Sarah was up to when I first bumped into her. 


For most of the event me and Sarah stayed together, first going to the Malorie Blackman signing for Sarah, I didn't bring my copy of Noughts and Crosses because I haven't read it and didn't think I would be queuing up unfortunately. Sarah got a hug out of Malorie for her involvement in the YALC fan trailer which was really sweet but I didn't manage to catch it on camera. 


We then started to queue up for Rainbow Rowell which was horrendous. The queue started ages before Rainbow even started signing, she started late because she had come from a panel, the queue system was just terrible in general with Rainbow being in a completely impractical place meaning that the queue ended up intersecting one queue and curving around on itself. In the end I left Sarah in that queue with my books so I could queue up with both our books for Patrick Ness and we wouldn't miss out on him. The Patrick Ness queue was then crazy, confusing and again in an impractical place for such a large queue. Luckily though while queuing for Patrick Ness I also managed to get a book signed by Marcus Sedgwick who I thought I might have to miss out on.

After that Sarah was pretty much done and I didn't blame her, I just wanted to get back home and shower as quickly as possible. She left the convention with a friend and went off in search for food and a place to relax. I stayed for one more signing and managed to get pretty much to the front to get my copy of the Elites signed as soon as Natasha Ngan was ready (I was 4th in line and pretty proud of myself). I still only stayed at the event until about 4.20.

I didn't get to go to any workshops or panels while I was there, the panels were ticketed and were practically sold out by the time I was there and the workshops filled up just as quickly, the area they were hosted in was just too small. On top of that I didn't have any time to attend either of those things and get all the books I wanted signed so I had to sacrifice something.

Overall I'm really glad I went to YALC but I also really think they need to improve it if they have it next year. Initially I was happy it was part of LFCC because my boyfriend wanted to go to that and I wanted to have a wander round some of the stalls as well but actually having experienced it now I know that having it at LFCC was an awful idea. LFCC was heaving. It was so bad you could barely move at the beginning, it took 20 minutes to get from one end of the building to the other as a result. When I got to the YALC part I didn't actually want to leave it anyway because the walk there was so traumatic. However, because YALC was planned to be a small thing it was tucked away at the very other end of the building in the corner and there was no where near enough space for the sheer volume of people queuing up at the signings.

By the end of it I was fed up, far too sweaty and in a bit of a bad mood. It's a day later and my shoulder is really hurting from the amount of books I carried. Next time it really needs to be in it's own building with it's own cloakroom for people to drop books off and pick them up and it NEEDS to have better queuing areas (with hopefully some air conditioning). I also think maybe talks and workshops should have been ticketed before hand? I mean if you planned to go to any of the later ones but still got there at 1 o'clock you would have had no chance at getting anything.

However, it was a great experience for hundreds of people to meet authors and publishers they wouldn't have been able to otherwise and for everyone to just get together an celebrate our combined love of books. The volume of people, while annoying to my social reclusive side, was very encouraging to my geeky reader side. I am immensely happy that Malorie Blackman is championing UKYA.

Here's my tips for if you're planning on going next year and nothing changes:

  • Book in advanced anything and everything you can!
  • Don't bring too many books, your shoulders are not going to thank you and you probably won't have enough time for every author. If you bring lots of books then bring a wheely suitcase or something. 
  • Do bring water and snacks, the queues for food and drink were pretty long, we didn't have time to stand in them, food was probably over priced etc... if I didn't have my boyfriend saving my bacon by being very thoughtful I probably would have passed out from dehydration. 
  • Do have a buddy system. Arrange with another person, or a group of people, before the day to meet up and go to specific signings. That way you're not queuing for authors you could have books for but don't and you make sure you can get all the books you want signed even if you have to split up. 
  • Go to the loo before you get into queuing mode. Trust me, there won't be another opportunity until after you're done. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes and light clothing. It's hot and you're going to be standing around for hours. 
  • Make time and arrange to talk to all the people you want to before or after the signings. If you're hoping to just catch people then you're probably only going to get a few brief words with them.  
But like I said, while I had a few issues with the event I got to spend the day in good company being excited over books which is all I really cared about. 

Onto all the books and swag because I know that's what you really want to see. 

Here's the swag I picked up for myself:


I may be doing a little giveaway for some swag as I did pick up quite a few doubles. That was Sarah's idea. all credit goes to her for being more thoughtful than me.

I also got two tote bags:



I bought and swapped for a few books while I was there:


I bought The Duff, Tease, Vivian Versus America & The Illusionist and swapped for Leopold Blue (Hot Key had this awesome little swap station where if you brought a book you could take a book). 

The books I brought with me to have signed were:


Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Frearsome Dreamer (but Laure also signed The Illusionist as well) Midwinter Blood, The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Elites. 

Most of the authors didn't have very long to talk with you and signed pretty generic things but that's understandable considering how manic it was. My favourite inscription was Laure Eve's, but here's a few:





If you want to find out more about what events happened at YALC as today is the last day it is on then check the website out here

Friday, 11 July 2014

Review | The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

 Title: The Queen of the Tearling
 Publishers: Harper Collins (US) Bantam Press (UK)
 Genre:  YA/ Adult Crossover, Fantasy
 Source: Received for review
 Format: eGalley
 Pages: 380
Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother - Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid - was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea's uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea's 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding...

This stunning new entry into the YA Fantasy market slots in comfortably beside another favourite of mine Throne of Glass. However I know there are many that felt as though Celaena was too girly and whimsical; for those of you let me present you with Kelsea Gynn. Princess Kelsea has grown up far away from court life in a very small cottage with two people who were as much teachers as foster parents. As a result she is strong, fair, intelligent and unrelenting. Hell pretty early on she gets knifed at her coronation and still crawls her way up to the the throne demanding she be crowned Queen (that's not much of a spoiler).


The Queen of Tearling was beautifully written, dancing that knife edge between too descriptive and not descriptive enough so perfectly that you're left with a head full of world but not too many words that they end up pulling you out again. Although I do have to say that I feel like this is being marketed to the wrong audience. Kelsea herself is 19 but most of the characters are decades older than her and there is a lot of bad language and gruesome descriptions. Not that I disagree with bad language in kids books, I mean parents it's time to face the fact that your kids are learning swearwords in school, but some of the things touched upon include a woman being raped to death and another woman being brutalised and having her breasts slashed into. None of these things are described in great detail but still marketing this book as YA almost gives book banner's an excuse to complain about the brutal nature of YA.

That being said I loved this book and I loved the world building. I feel like calling the opposing Queen 'The Red Queen' has been done to death but the rest of the world was quite refreshing. Where most Fantasy takes place in some other world in some other time this is set in our world in the future after a new continent crops up and Armageddon happens.  Not a lot is explained about this event, which I have seen other bloggers complain about, but I feel like that is because Kelsey herself doesn't know much and it will be explained in subsequent novels in greater detail. Although, understanding why the world is this way now isn't really important to the story and I liked the mystery that it added.

This book has already got some pretty amazing press surrounding it, the author is already lying on her big fat bed of money after the book deal and Emma Watson has already signed up to produce and star as Kelsea. As much as I'm happy to see Emma in anything, Kelsea is repeatedly describing herself as plain and chubby; and lets face it Emma Watson 'aint that. I mean if Emma is plain most of us average girls are down right disgusting. So unless Kelsea goes through a dramatic change in book 2 I can't see that working.


As for romance? There's little to none really. There is one mysterious character Kelsea, and myself in all honesty, wouldn't mind knowing better, but I feel like if anything happens there it's going to be a long while coming. 

All in all though I massively recommend this book. So much so I have already pre-ordered myself a hardback copy just so I can keep it on my shelf and stroke it. Don't act like you don't do that too, I know you do. I can already see myself pushing this series on as many people as possible and buying all future books, movies and merchandise. They got me hook line and sinker.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman | Book Review


Title: The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain
Publishers: Headline
Genre:  Adult, Fantasy
Source: Received for review
Format: Hardback
Pages: 74










I expected great things from this short story and instead it fell a bit flat. This novel is a result of a live reading Gaiman did where the artist, Eddie Campbell, did live artwork as Neil read this story. The art work itself is not to my taste and always felt a little unfinished to me. I have been to one of these Gaiman events and while they work well on the night I would have expected the artwork in the book to be a little more polished, although I do not know this artists style so I don't know if this is how he usually does his work.

The compilation of art and text felt a bit higgledy piggledy in away that was occasionally jarring, but more importantly the story just didn't captivate me. I am a big fan of Gaiman but while the story was well written the whole thing just wasn't winning me over for some reason. Although, I did enjoy the ending and I liked the folk tale aspect so altogether not a complete flop.

It is hard to define this book. Its not exactly a graphic novel, nor is it a short story. I would say it takes the form of a child's picture book, but with definitely more mature content.

Overall I think this is good to add to your collection if you're a Gaiman fanatic like me, but not necessary if you're an occasional reader or are looking to start reading his work.





Sunday, 4 May 2014

Paper vs. Pixel Wrap-up #PaperVsPixels

So I don't really have the time to make a video today (and I don't want to put on make-up to cover the big spot on my face, which is the downside to booktubing) so I thought I would utilise my blog for wrapping up my Paper vs. Pixels Challenge.

After reading Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea I hit a massive reading slump. I think it was a mixture of just how awful that book was combined with the fact that I was just really busy. It two me two weeks to finally completing a book in April.