Tuesday, 23 August 2016

London Film and Comic Con and YALC Roundup!

A third YALC at LFCC is done and dusted, which naturally means I will be locked up in my room reading all the books I acquired, for the next foreseeable future. Once again the publisher stands were filled with proofs, merchandise and tote bags to satisfy my fangirl desires and hoard them like there's no tomorrow. 

Over the weekend I had acquired some very anticipated reads, my most faint worthy was of course Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was released on the final day of the convention. As well as that, I couldn't resist adding new books to my never ending tbr and so I bought And I Darken and Black Arts. By some miracle, I also got my hands on a signed proof of Gilded Cage! 

The most surreal part of the weekend was seeing my favorite authors face to face, some I have had the pleasure of meeting before and it was awesome catching up.  

Sally Green, VE Schwab, Samantha Shannon and David Levithan!
James Smythe, Sophie Kinsella, Dawn Kurtagich and Cat Doyle!

Chris Vick, Taran Matharu and Nina LaCour!

One of the highlights from the weekend was fulfilling my long life aspiration of sitting on the iron throne, ready to rule Winterfell. It is needless to say that I felt like a badass empress about to take on the world, my reaction to it fulfilling the definition of fangirl, recorded in the Day 2 Vlog for your viewing pleasure.

Over the weekend, the main hall stools offered a range of merchandise from books, film and tv, which led to me becoming the proud owner of a Slytherin mug, a Game of Thrones notebook and two newspaper prints from Harry Potter and Daredevil. 

 It's always difficult to pick which panels to attend due to the sheer amount of signings I write into my schedule but "Behind the Magic" could not be missed, fantasy is my favorite genre and it was fascinating learning how different authors come up with their own magical systems. The line up was made up of the wonderful Taran Matharu, Victoria Schwab, Sally Green and Malinda Salisbury and they each discussed what it's like to not overhwelm a reader with too much information about the magical rules in their respectvive series or how much planning goes into writing a plotline with complicated magical systems. 

While my main goal for attending the convention is to meet authors, I am also a massive comic book fan and so I love venturing out to the main LFCC floor. The highlight of this year was definitely the display of Suicide Squad costumes, which are the originals worn by the cast in the movie. Check them out in the Day 1 vlog!

Already counting the days for next year!




Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review: The Dead House

It is not everyday that you can say a book has left you speechless and confounded at the same time, intrigued by the intricacy of the human mind and how it can affect everyday life. The Dead House is one of those books.

The novel follows the uncovering of a tragedy that occurred twenty five years ago at Elmbridge High School, after it was burned down, during which a number of students were killed. Nobody knows why or how it happened until the police discover the diary of the main protagonist, Carly, who went missing after the  fire. The story is told through numerous media, namely news reports, video footage and interviews as we discover how each of the characters has played a role in the  infinite ending. The main premise allows us to witness the story through different perspectives due to Carly suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, as we see Kaitlin make appearances during the night.

Being the first horror novel that I have dived into, I expected to have the same reaction as I do to horror films, which rarely leave me with paranoid thoughts and an inability to sleep. How wrong my naive hard-ass self was. Numerous times, I was left freaked out beyond belief at the eerie chapters full of gory faces in mirrors or sounds of breathing down a phone, having to halt my reading to reassure myself that there was no one grinning at me through my window.

The plot twists throughout the story were cleverly written and as the investigation unfolds, we see the contrast of how Kaitlin was affected by only living in the night as apposed to Carly, who experienced a different type of life in the day.

The novel is compelling throughout and you can't help but be invested in all the supporting characters, as they each have intricate back stories, which is rare for most books. It is particularly a kick in the face, when we learn about the betrayals and deceptions, as they threw me completely, and consisted of feelings of bewilderment that I did not see them coming.

Check out my video review for further discussion!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The YALC Readathon Challenge

The Young Adult Literature Convention is fast approaching, which means binge reading is becoming the bane of my existence, I've been breathing books this past month. If you are anything like me, there was no self-control when it came to buying a vast amount of the books written by the participating authors (the list of which can be found here), for which my bank account was very ungrateful.

Going into its third year, YALC represents a wide range of genres, anything from fantasy-dystopians to contemporaries, it accommodates to  genuinely everyone  and it is an impossible task trying to narrow down the list to a reasonable number. I have had no respect for my back when it came to carrying (more like having the best workout of my life) the books up and down the convention center like the Flash on a high and speaking from experience, there is not enough time to do everything in the schedule, check out my vlogs of Comic Con to see it first hand!

At an attempt to motivate my reading to prepare for the event, I have joined the YALC Readathon Challenge (hosted by Julianne from This Fleeting Dream- check out her post for the rules!) at the Convention Attention Level, which requires a completion of 5-15 books by the YALC authors. Additionally, I am setting myself a bonus challenge, namely the Radiant Reviewer, it involves reviewing two or more of the books read.

Check out the haul below for the books I am planning to take!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Feminism in YA Fiction

A few months ago, I had the great opportunity to attend an event at Waterstones Piccadilly regarding feminism in the Young Adult genre, which opened up my eyes to the many points of view entrenched into society regarding the topic and how it affects the publishing industry. I had never had a strong interest in feminism and this meant I had very minimal understanding of it and this event truly enlightened me that my previous perceptions on the subject were false.

The three participating authors, CJ Daugherty, Holly Bourne and Holly Smale were interviewed by ELLE's literary editor Anna James and each discussed how feminism is represented in the Young Adult Genre. It was particularly highlighted that it is important to write about characters that do have flaws, ones that do make the wrong decision from time to time but it is also crucial to balance that with strong brave characters that can be looked up to. 
To me, the way to achieve this is  to move past the stereotypical girl getting rescued at every turn and as evidenced by the writing of the authors at the event this does not necessarily mean fighting a war and taking down an entire government. As stated by Holly Smale, we do not live in a dystopian society and so having strong characters in a contemporary setting is more relate-able and realistic.

What particularly stood out was the fact that anyone can be a feminist without acting in a particular way, and as cleverly put by CJ Daugherty, feminism is all in your head and no one can tell you how to express the belief that men and women should be on equal grounds. This, to me, means that anyone can have their own perception on it and that it is important to not treat feminism as a trend but as an ongoing discussion.

The recent controversy surrounding feminism has caused me to be wary of the subject as the general perception appears to be that feminists are hostile woman that belong to a crazy cult, creating problems and over-acting. However, as mentioned above there is no right way to express your views on gender equality and I believe by accepting the fact that in reality, women are still being treated as inferior to men, society can move forward and progress to overcome this obstacle.

There is a strong argument that the publishing industry remains key in spreading the message, particularly though the types of novels that they publish. A fictional protagonist can have a strong impact in encouraging and propelling people to keep the discussion of feminism going and overcoming gender stereotypes. Authors, such as Cassandra Clare, have done this through challenging social norms, namely by writing that in her fictional world, women wield the weapons whereas men are the healers. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments "The Mortal Cup"

January 12th marks the release date of Shadowhunters, an adaptation of the global bestselling Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare; it is a complete re-boot to the series and has no ties with the 2013 movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

Shadowhunters are half-human, half-angel beings that protect mankind from demons whilst having frequent encounters with Downworlders, who are the vampires, warlocks and faeries that roam the streets of New York. The story follows Clary Fray, played by Katherine McNamara, who discovers that she is a Shadowhunter, after her mother gets kidnapped by Valentine, who is attempting to create a demon army.

While many fans were wary due to the fact that there already was a cast and a movie, I thought the new actors were chosen like I originally imagined the characters when reading the books, therefore I was keen to see them portrayed on screen.

I, however, did have doubts about the plot as a result of numerous accounts circling the web that the story-line would stray very far from the source material. On the contrary, it appears that most of the script contained accurate scenes from the City of Bones book.

I particularly enjoyed the modernization of the world that the story is set in. Albeit this is not properly experienced until Episode 2 where we see the inside of the Institute and the processes used to track people down, even in the Pilot, it feels current and edgy, which is something the movie lacked on.
Channelling my inner Magnus!

Although there were various clich├ęd lines, the script reflects the personalities of the characters very well, in particular Simon Lewis, Clary's best friend, played by Alberto Rosende. His portrayal was executed in a true Simon fashion and was very true to the books; he was the highlight of the Pilot episode for me. 

The costume design team did a phenomenal job, in particular with Magnus Bane, a warlock, as his extravagant clothing perfectly reflects his character traits.   

A key difference to the book is the change in profession for Luke Garroway, played by Isaiah Mustafa. In City of Bones he owns a bookstore, whereas in the show he is a detective for the NYPD, which follows the theme of modernising the Shadowhunter world. I was pleased with this change as the new criminal aspect gives rise to a wider audience.

Overall, I had a very enjoyable time watching the show so far, to find out my in depth thoughts, check out my spoiler discussion below.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

How To Get Over A Reading Slump

The New Year has just began and reading goals will have been set but how exactly do we achieve them when Reading Slumps come to haunt us on a daily basis.  Here are my top tips to overcome them!

 1. Re-read a favourite
Reading your favourite book will bring back the memories of obsessive, non-stop and 'forget the sleeping' reading. This will encourage you to pick up a new book to re-live those same emotions, it will get you back to a regular habit of reading once again.

2. Read a short book
As much as I love reading lengthy books, they can be daunting and this can be discouraging. Trying to get over a reading slump will be difficult with a giant 700+ novel and so picking up a short one will help you to get back in the swing of reading. I'd recommend something under 300 pages.

3. Read a novella
Novellas are quick reads that do not require a fresh mind-set as a lot of the time you are revisiting a familiar world, yet unlike rereading a book you get a fresh new story in about 100 

4. Ignore your TBR (To Be Read)/ Create a TBR Jar
We have all felt all the unread books on our shelves stare into our souls and stress us out beyond belief. My TBR shelves are so overwhelming that I often find it difficult to choose a book to read which discourages me completely. Therefore sometimes it is a good idea to write down titles on paper, put them in a jar and pick one out at random.

5. Try graphic novels
Graphic Novels are a great way to read fast and it is very motivating when you can finish a whole novel in under an hour. The illustrations also give you a new perspective of a story, which is an added bonus!

06. Set aside time for reading
When busy life takes over, it is likely that picking up a book seems like an impossible task but setting aside a set time for reading will encourage you to fit it in into your schedule. Even a 30 minute session before bed!

7. Join/Start a reading group
Picking a book to read with other people will be a great motivator, you do not want to let down the rest of the group. This can be done digitally through a Goodreads group or bookshop reading clubs.

8. Read a book your favourite author has raved about
This refers to authors that comment on other authors' books and often, their comments are published on the cover or the back of it. This has worked wonders for me as another cause of a reading slump is not knowing what to read and seeing that my favourite author has loved a book, motivates me to try it.

9. Don't read more than 1 book at once
Most of the time I start multiple books at the same time and feel pressured to finish them all at once, which can definitely trigger a reading slump. It is far less stressful to stick to one when attempting to get rid of a reading slump.

10. Try a new genre
A possible cause of a reading slump is that you have read the same genre for such a long time that you simply don't enjoy it anymore. I experienced this when reading only contemporary books, which put me into one of the worst reading slumps of my life, so I ventured into the paranormal genre at an attempt at a fresh start; it worked like a miracle.