Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Book That Chose My Career Path For Me - The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21416690-the-invisible-library
5/5

The Invisible Library is the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy. The heroine is a bibliophile. 

(Everyone is a bibliophile.)

She's a librarian who travels to alternate dimensions to um, we'll say obtain, unique works of fiction so that they can be preserved by the Invisible Library.

I don't remember the last time I read a fantasy novel that swallowed me so completely. Irene is a pragmatic, intelligent heroine who uses a type of magic known as the language that only librarians can use. Anyone who has ever studied either a foreign language or linguistics will no doubt appreciate the importance of syntax and grammar, and the obsession that some of the characters have with it. Observe -


"'Split infinitive,' Bradamant spat." - The Invisible Library, page 317, because the rules of the English language are apparently the biggest concern they have right now.
Irene is joined by her apprentice, Kai, who I now feel bad for um, we'll call it sacrificing, because he's absolutely hilarious. I mean, he's a powerful, mysterious creature with plenty of book and street smarts, but he also shows an incredible lack of perception and has a tendency towards the more dramatic aspects of fighting. He's also, as Irene wastes no time in informing us, impossibly good looking. Immediately afterwards, she reminds us that this is a professional relationship and that it shall remain completely professional because she is a professional person.

So, of course, that's not going to go anywhere.

Irene and Kai enter a somewhat steampunk version of London to find the book they've been assigned to collect. Throughout their adventure, they deal with vampires, werewolves, dragons, the fae, secret societies, a great detective...and all of those pale in comparison to the other librarians. And they do all of this for a book. It's epic.

There's a possibility that I went out and bought the second one before I'd even finished the first one.

(Possibility!? May I remind you that I was there.)

And I can't wait, course willing, to start it. See you all sooner rather than later, when we enter The Masked City.

Have you read this book? Please say you have, I need somewhat to scream about it with me. If you haven't, you're going to read it now, aren't you? Please say yes.  

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Ten Things That Make a Bookworm's Day a Billion Times Better

http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html

At first, I was completely stumped by today's prompt from the awesome guys at the Broke and the Bookish. I mean, what are bookworm delights? And where do I get some? Naturally, inspiration refused to strike until the night before I needed to post this. Thank you, brain-that-hates-me.

(You're welcome.)

So, in no particular order, here are ten bookish things that never fail to make my day.

1. Finding a book on the shelves before its release date

Anyone who's waiting impatiently for the Raven King (WHICH COMES OUT TODAY!!!!!!) is aware that a lot of book shops released it early. When you walk into a book shop and see a book that you know is not supposed to be out yet sat on the shelf, it is the best feeling in the world.

...Of course, when you're not one of the lucky ones, it's the most irritating thing in the world. But let's not think about all the spoilers we're dodging, like Hollywood spies dipping and diving over lasers.  

(Would you like some sugar to sweeten that sour?)

It was merely an observation.

2. Reading about a fellow bibliophile

There is nothing better than reading a book about a bibliophile. They're the ultimate relatable character. I've just finished The Invisible Library (review imminent), a novel which revolves around books and boasts a cast full of bookworms. Highly recommended.

(Advance warning - you're going to be hearing a lot about this one.)

3. Finding your favourite tropes

Sometimes, you go into a book completely blind. When you do this and find the book contains one of your favourite tropes, it's like finding a one-of-a-kind, magical weapon in a dragon's hoard. 

4. Watching a film adaption that actually follows the book(s)

(This is a thing?)

Clearly you have never seen the Harry Potter films.

(Clearly you saw a different version of the Deathly Hallows to me. Where was Dean Thomas? And, whilst we're on the subject of things that were cut, Ginny. In general.)

You say that like she was never in them at all. Sometimes, plotlines have to be cut due to time constraints, other commitments that the actors have, or the simple fact that there's only so much that special effects can do. I never said that they followed them perfectly, word for word, but, considering we're comparing them to films like the Percy Jackson -
(DO NOT EVEN GO THERE.)

Okay, I admit, that might be overstating the point a little.

5. Watching a film adaption that doesn't follow the book but, somehow, miraculously, is just as good (or even better)

Hey! It happens! I didn't enjoy reading City of Bones, but I certainly enjoyed watching it. Of course, the film version was not too from the books - you could tell that they were part of the same franchise.

The How To Train Your Dragon films, however, do not even use the same world or characters. Somehow, they are just as good as the books.

6. One of your favourite book bloggers putting up a new post
   
Whether it's a discussion you can wade into, or a book review that adds to your ever-growing to-read pile, it's always great to get up to something bookish you can read as you shovel cereal down your throat.

(I'm sorry, are we on about book blogs or the Sunday post?)

http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/the-sunday-post-meme


 (...I meant the newspaper.)

7. Finding out the release date of a sequel you need more than oxygen 

Not that you're going to remember it...

Or buy it the second it's released...

8. Actually enjoying one of your course books

Lit students rejoice! Enjoyable course books are neither myth nor legend nor folktale. They're hiding somewhere on your reading list, waiting for you to bleed, sweat and sob your way down to them.

9. Finding a hidden gem at the second hand book shop


What's better than finding a book you've wanted to read for ages? Finding it for £1.50 in an obscure little shop that smells of old paper and spilt coffee. Bonus points if you could swear that it wasn't there yesterday.


10. Buying all together too many books

Raise your hands if you've ever binge-bought a library's worth of books.
*Raises hands*

I blame cliffhangers, bad days, and two for one offers.

What makes your day? Reading a five star novel? Meeting someone who loves your favourite book/series/author? Something that actually made it onto my list? Or something else entirely? Oh! And don't forget to link me to your Top Ten Tuesday posts!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Six ways in which Big Hero 6 is HTTYD with robots (and why I love it anyway)

Warning: This review may contain mild spoilers for the Disney film Big Hero 6 and the Dreamworks films How To Train Your Dragon and How To Train Your Dragon 2.

I'm a big animation fan. I love cartoons, anime, animated films...

Source
Source
 
Source
But I've never been one for Disney films.


(Wait. Isn't Inside Out Disney Pixar?)

I thought they'd broken up, but whatever. As far as the Disney Canon goes, I can count the films I've seen on one hand. Snow White. Bambi. The Lion King. The Little Mermaid. Wreck it Ralph...that's pretty much the list.

But, what can I say, the adverts were funny, the character designs were awesome, and kid heroes will never get old.

(Literally.)

So, when I found myself in need of an animation fix, I ended up choosing a Disney film.
I ended up choosing Big Hero 6.
Like Inside Out, it deals with some seriously heavy themes for a kids' film. Unfortunately, said themes are heavy spoilers so I'm not going to discuss them beyond saying that they're explored in-depth and with sensitivity. Instead, I'm going to draw parallels between this funny, action-packed film and a similarly funny, action-packed film from a rival company simply because it amuses me.

1. The Protagonists 

Exhibit A - Hiro Hamada
Exhibit B - Hiccup
We have two shorter than average, smarter than average, early teen protagonists. Both of them design and build plot-relevent objects. Both of them gain a non-human partner. Both of them are sarcastic dorks.

2. Baymax and Toothless

So we have a TERRIFYING dragon. The most DEADLY of its species.

Source
 (...He's a pussycat.)

Exactly. And then we have Baymax. A giant robot in armour that can shoot ROCKET FISTS and -

Source

(He also gives free healthcare.)

3. First Flight

The first time I thought of How To Train Your Dragon whilst watching Big Hero 6 was when Hiro and Baymax went for their first flight. They're going to crash! They're going to crash! They're going to crash!

(And die.)

But then Hiro gives Baymax an instruction and, suddenly, they're gliding through the sky whilst Disney pull out all the stops to give Dreamworks a run for their money in the scenery department

Does this remind you of anything?

4. The Gang

Both films eventually feature six-man bands, and some of the roles are similar. Fred, Ruffnut and Tuffnut are all idiotic comic reliefs (bonus points because Tuffnut and Fred share a voice actor). Gogo is Hiro's second in a similar way to Astrid being Hiccup's (minus the romance). Fishlegs and Wasabi are also rather similar.

5. The Mentor

(We just entered spoiler central.)

Vagor Clouds activated.

Hiro's mentor is his big brother, Tadashi. In the second How To Train Your Dragon film, it is implied that Stoick has been mentoring Hiccup (or trying to, anyway) for his future role as chief. 

If you've seen both films, I'm sure you can connect the dots yourself.

6. They're both very loosely based on books

Apparently, Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic book series. But loosely. Very loosely. Anyone who read the How To Train Your Dragon books as a kid will know that the films have even less in common with the books than the Percy Jackson films have in common with their books. 

But in a good way.

(This is by far the geekiest thing you've ever posted.)

I know, I love it.

How To Train Your Dragon vs Big Hero 6 - which is your favourite? 

Friday, 22 April 2016

Why fill a blurb with spoilers?

Things that blurbs are supposed to do -
  • Peak your interest.
  • Give you a vague idea of who the main character is.
  • Introduce you to the major conflict.
Things that blurbs are NOT supposed to do -
  • Spoil.
 (I thought you didn't mind spoilers?)

 I don't, when I go looking for them, that is, or when I've put myself in a position where I am fully aware that I might see them. I wouldn't complain about spoilers seen whilst browsing Tumblr, for example. But there's something about seeing a spoiler in a blurb that just ruins my week.

Spoilers do not belong in blurbs because...

1. Have you ever been in a bookshop? 

(Objection! That question is stupid.)

Objection! That question is perfectly valid. Just think about it for a second, when you go into a bookshop, how often do they have entire series? It's very easy to pick a sequel up off the shelf without realising that there's a book before it. If the blurb of book two reveals the big twist of book one, it spoils an important part of the series. If you enjoy the first book, chances are that you're going to read the rest of the series. Knowing the ending will take all of the tension out of the book and may dampen the reader's enjoyment.

2. Catching Fire was not aimed at people who hadn't read The Hunger Games

If somebody is buying a sequel, chances are they've read book one. No, they won't remember all of the little details but the twist is supposed to be the memorable part. More to the point, they can recap by flicking through the last book, or using the internet, or talking to somebody else who's read it. 

Have you ever had a series spoilt by a blurb?

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

"BRAINS!!!!" - The Zombie Apocalyse Book Tag

It started with the welts, the sweating, and the fever. Then, there was the inexplicable urge to bite. To be fruitful and multiply. All over the world, a curfew was set. Not for control, or punishment, but for safety. When the sun went down, the zombies came out. They crept through the streets, searching for late runners. Searching. Sneaking. Snacking. Eventually, in a small town in a mysterious country, the zombies outnumbered the people. The few survivors huddled together in the library and waited for the barricade they'd built to break. Over the scrape scrape scrape of ragged nails on wood, they told their stories...

Was I tagged? No, but my understanding of tags is that anyone can do them so long as they link back to the creator. 

(Well, I'm sure people will tell you if you're understanding is wrong. This is the internet, after all.)

This tag was created by Nathan Hale.

You're supposed to pick your five favourite books, but a lot of my favourite books are at home, so I'll have to make do with the ones I brought to uni with me. 
 My five chosen books are -
  1. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
  2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  4. The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
  5. All Fall Down by Ally Carter
 Going in this order, I will flick through one book per two questions and choose the first character my eye falls upon to answer it.

1. The first person to die - Kai. I'm sure this will mean so much more to me once I've read the book. I only bought it today.

2. The person you trip to get away from the zombies - I got Kai again...so I guess that explains what happened to him.

3. The first person to turn into a zombie - Harry. Oh dear, I guess the dark lord will be rising after all.

4. The person that trips you to get away from the zombies - Hagrid. Rude.

5. The idiot of the team - Gorry. Ah yes, the idiot who thought he could make Sean believe there was a horse better than Corr. He'll make good bait.

6. The 'brains' of the team - Dory Maud. 
 
(...Would anyone like to start taking bets on their chances of survival?)

7. The team's medic - Sigyn. Typical. A series with an actual healer (Idun, in case anyone was wondering) and we get Sigyn. Thank you, luck of the draw.

8. The weapon expert - Dvalin. A dwarf who can forge magical items in charge of weaponary? YES! 

9. The brawler - Noah. Um...

(And that brings the death count up to two.)    

10. The team captain - Noah, again, which would be good if he hadn't just died. 

I tag Cait @ Paper Fury, Kate @ the Magic Violinist, Jo @ JJBookLoversBlog, and you, yes you, the very person who is reading this post right now. I personally love being tagged -

(Because she's lazy and tags are easy.)

- But tagging others always makes me feel really nervous, even though there's no obligation for anyone to actually do them. It's not like I'm going to hunt you down and force you.

What do you think of my team? How long would they survive?

Thursday, 14 April 2016

'G' is for Goals

Every character has a goal. 

(You mean every character should have a goal.)

Every character in anything that has ever gotten published has a goal.

(You mean every character in anything that has ever gotten published should have a goal.)

...

(I'm just saying, you lose marks when you make sweeping statements like that.)

And yet, when I'm writing essays, you curl up against the brain stem and never breathe a word to stop me. 

(You really think you need another distraction?)

Point taken. Ahem. It has taken me over a month to think of something for the letter 'g' that wasn't genre. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with genres, but there must be a million of them out there, and I've already done a post on fantasy, so goals it is.

A goal is something a character aims for. It could be something a character wants, or something a character needs. It could be tangible, or it could just be a feeling, like belonging or acceptance. 
  
Common character goals

To protect someone close to them

In The Hunger Games, all Katniss Everdeen wants is to keep her younger sister, Prim, safe.


http://giphy.com/gifs/the-hunger-games-catching-fire-mockingjay-xPf9lesYCVMxG

Usually, I would class this as a motivation, the difference being that the goal is the what and the motivation is the why, but this is Katniss' sole reason for entering the games. She doesn't want fame or riches, just safety for her sister. When she yells, "I volunteer as tribute," her goal is to get the people from the Capitol away from her sister. It's the what just as much as it's the why.

To fix a past mistake

In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al want to return their bodies to the way they were before their mother's death drove them to a desperate alchemical act.

http://giphy.com/gifs/graphics-fullmetal-alchemist-fma-QYUSA0e5PuR4k


Revenge

Shakespeare loved this character goal. From Hamlet to Titus Andronicus, many of his tragedies were about characters who were hellbent on vengeance.

The Shiny

Some characters are willing to risk their safety and freedom for rare items. In Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke first met Hiei and Kurama when they stole the artifacts of darkness. In the Chapter Black arc, Hiei is persuaded to lend Yusuke a hand only because Yusuke can help him get his hands on a video tape that he desires. 

http://giphy.com/gifs/funny-animation-XBBXC7fGtoZwY

Of course, the rest of the cast were willing to help out of the goodness of their hearts, but Hiei has a facade to keep up. That, and shiny-loving characters can be rather selfish.

(That's because they know where it's at. Friendships wither and die, but shinies are immortal.)

If you start singing Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, I will evict you from my brain.

Love

As in romantic love. Every Austen heroine ever wanted love (even if she thought she only wanted it for everyone else). Preferably love that came with riches. More recently, the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy gave Grace and Sam the goal of being together without pesky little things like cold weather getting in the way. It should be mentioned that characters with love as their sole motivation can be a little...we'll say irrational. 

Belonging

In The Legion series, Kennedy desperately wants to be a Black Dove like Alara, Priest, Jared and Lukas. She starts out simply wanting to prove herself useful to them, and then decides that she wants to be one of them. In Kennedy's case, this isn't really a goal that she can work towards - she either is one or she isn't - but there are tasks that she can complete to find out.

Acceptance 

http://giphy.com/gifs/harry-potter-hermione-neville-40KXzKllSl6ve

Ever wondered why a lot of fantasy characters are orphans? In the beginning, this was all Harry Potter wanted. A loving family. Friends. A place that he could call home. Sure, eventually he had to beat a noseless nutjob to keep it but, back when he was just the orphan under the stairs, dark wizards weren't exactly the first thing on his mind. 

Freedom

Some characters just want to get away. Nathan from the Half Bad trilogy wanted to escape the authorities that had oppressed and abused him. Margo, from Paper Towns, was looking to escape societal expectations. Did they succeed? Well, that would be telling...


Can you think of any more character goals?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Seven authors every British girl should read growing up

http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html

Top Ten Tuesday is here again and, despite wanting to do books for mythology geeks, I think I've mentioned all of my favourite mythology-based stories once or twice before.

(In every other post, more like.)

When I go into book shops, I can't help but notice that a lot of books are imported from America with best-seller stickers already adorning their front covers. These books aren't bad. In fact, a lot of them, are rather good. 

(That's why they call it a 'best seller', genius.)

That said, a lot of my childhood favourites were written by British writers. I thought I'd take this prompt as an excuse to dive back into my childhood. 

(Since when do you ever need an excuse?)

1. J.K. Rowling

I know she's a bit of an obvious one, but J.K. Rowling had to be first on the list. Harry Potter might be her only kids series, but there's no doubt it's going to be a classic. If you're a fellow nineties kid, no matter which country you were born in, chances are you grew up with Harry Potter whether you read it or not. 

 2. Enid Blyton

She's written something for everyone. St. Clare's, Malory Towers, and The Naughtiest Girl are all boarding school series. The Faraway Tree is a whimsical series that reads like a fairytale. It's an utterly beautiful read. The Famous Five and The Secret Seven are both adventure series. She's written more, of course, but the above are the three series I'm familiar with, combined with three of her more famous ones.

3. Cressida Cowell

The How To Train Your Dragon books are home to one of my all-time favourite heroines. No, not Astrid, or Ruffnut, or Heather. Camicazi. 

This is one of those rare series where the films are totally different from the books and still manage to be awesome. That said, you're missing out if you never read the books. In my opinion, Hiccup, Fishlegs and Camicazi are a trio on the same level as Harry, Ron and Hermione. Yes, it's technically a "boys series", but why should that put you off? It has dragons!

4. Jill Marshall

Jill Marshall wrote a kids spy series that got more and more sci-fi as it went on and culminated in an ending so clever that I couldn't understand it until I re-read the final book when I was sixteen. As I started reading this at around the same time as How To Train Your Dragon, I always view them as counterparts (they're really not). It therefore seems fitting that Jane Blonde is home to one of my favourite heroes - Alfie Halliday.

5. Michelle Harrison

I loved fairy books as a kid, so a fairy book was going on this list no matter what. Michelle Harrison wrote The 13 Treasures, a trilogy centred around a charm bracelet. It had a twisty plot, interesting characters, and just a smidge of romance, perfect for girls who are just moving out of the love-is-gross stage and into the okay-that's-sort-of-cute stage.

(I can literally hear you screaming Sparrow and Rowan right now.)

...It was one of the first couples I was ever totally behind, okay?

6. Karen McCombie 

Karen McCombie writes about teenage girls. My school library stocked tonnes of Ally's World books, and I read several of them. Out of order, of course. But my favourite of her books by far is the Stella Etc. series. Stella moves from London to a seaside town, and the series follows her as she settles in, makes new friends, and tries to keep the old ones. I read all of these (out of order - no sense breaking tradition) and adored them. I think friend trouble is something everyone can relate to at some point in their lives.

7. Roald Dahl

Some of Roald Dahl's better known novels include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Twits, The Witches, The BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach, Danny Champion of the World... Actually, I'm not sure Roald Dahl has any lesser known novels.

Can you think of any more British authors who wrote awesome books? This week, the Top Ten Tuesday category is really diverse, so make sure you hop over to The Broke and the Bookish to see what everyone else is talking about, and don't forget to link me to yours.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Flesh-eating water horses. That is all. (The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11210739-the-scorpio-races 5/5 Stars

Note: This was originally a four star review. I've put it up to five because, despite my tiny issues with it, I can't stop comparing YA lit to it. Whenever I'm reading, it's like the story has to be judged against this. This has become my benchmark.

I originally got this out of the library in an attempt to tide myself over until I could get my hands on The Dream Thieves so I thought it would be fitting to post this during the wait for The Raven King. This is the book that convinced me I needed to spend 2015 tracking down and reading ALL of Maggie Stiefvater's books. If anyone can think of a bookshop that stocks Lament and Ballad, please drop it in the comments.

The Scorpio Races is a story pulled from Folklore (which I love) and follows Puck/Kate Connolly and Sean Kendrick, two teenagers (I think, but their ages are never actually specified) who enter the races as strangers.

From the beginning, I found Puck's chapters more interesting. This could be for many reasons, but I think it's because what she was fighting for was laid bare for us within the first four chapters. She wants to keep her family together, something that I think most people can understand. This seems like a good place to mention that I absolutely adored Finn. He was adorable, sarcastic, clever, and reminded me a lot of Noah from The Raven Boys. Finn was definitely my favourite character. Just because I found Puck's chapters more interesting early on doesn't mean that Sean's didn't grip me later on. Sean's relationship with Corr was one of the best written relationships in the book, even better then Puck and her brothers. The ending was perfect, and I do mean perfect. Okay, so it was a tiny bit abrupt, but it showed the relationship between Sean and Corr perfectly.

I loved Thisby as a setting, although I was constantly banging my head against the wall as I tried to work out where and when Thisby was. I'm thinking off the coast of Ireland, some time in the mid to late 1900s? The only other thing that annoyed me was that Puck announced to her brother that she would be in the races as though it was the go-to line for all rebellious teenage girls who lived on Thisby. Neither of her brothers seemed too surprised about it and, for the next two hundred pages, people only made small jabs at her gender. It wasn't until the parade, over two hundred pages later, that I found out what a massive deal it was for a girl to get up there and say that she wanted to race. I struggled with this because I felt like it should've been mentioned sooner.

Overall though, I thought The Scorpio Races was brilliant. From determined, rebellious Puck to quiet, loner Sean, the characters felt real. The setting was wonderful. It was an animal story (and I usually hate animal stories) but you didn't have to be animal-mad to understand it. Also, it involved flesh-eating water horses, just in case you needed another reason to read it.


Have you read any other Maggie Stiefvater books? What did you think to The Scorpio Races? And are you ready for The Raven King?