Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Round Up and Bookish Survey

The amount I have blogged this year has been shockingly low.... I do aim to have time to rectify that, because I love the community, but school and doing everything is difficult. *sigh*
Anyway, like last year, I'll fill this out as best as I can! Thank you, Jamie (The Perpetual Page Turner) for making and hosting this!

2015 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 93
Number of Re-Reads: 4, I think: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Genre You Read The Most From:
...not sure. A bit of many things. Not much historical. A fair bit of contemporary.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Book Review- The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Title: The Penelopiad
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: Canongate Myths
Published:  October 2005
Length:  198 pages
Source: library
Other info: Atwood has written many things, such as The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid's Tale, and The Heart Goes Last. The Penelopiad was written as part of the Canongate Myths series.
Summary : For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband was off fighting the Trojan war was not a simple business. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay...And then, when Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope's twelve beloved maids. What were his motives? And what was Penelope really up to? 

Review: Since her husband Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War, and then gets caught up for ten years on the way back, Penelope has been left running her household, and fighting off suitors who want to marry her, and eat her out of house and home. Now that she's dead, she's ready to tell her side of the tale, as are the twelve maids who were hanged.
According to Goodreads, I read this a few years ago and gave it three stars, but I don't remember doing that. Now I know the Odyssey a bit more, and we're doing a feminist-orientated piece of English coursework, I decided to pick this up, and now I understand things better, I loved it.
There's reinterpretations and challenges to the characters and stories. Obviously, there's those against Odysseus, where there's the question of whether the Cyclops he fought was a monster or a one-eyed barkeeper, and whether his years with Circe and Calypso were spent in brothels or nymphs and witches. But there's also a conversation with Antinous, one of the suitors, explaining why they wanted to marry Penelope so much, and the presentation of Helen as vain, proud, and wanting to conquer men just because she can. Atwood has taken inspiration from multiple sources, not just Homer's epic, but also theories from Robert Graves (who used many writers to inform his work) and Homeric hymns. I like the possibilities this gave Atwood to work with, and the ways she used them.
Penelope's voice often dryly comments on various parts of the stories, and I enjoyed her different insights. What I liked most was the use of the chorus, the twelve maids, whose chapters mostly alternate with Penelope's and change styles each time. Poems, songs, plays, and a transcript of a modern-day murder trial are some of the ways the maids pass their story on in many ways. The writing is well crafted, allowing each of the styles as well as Penelope's main narration to work together to make a story that is intriguing and easy to read.

Overall: Strength 5 tea to a book that makes you think about the different interpretations a myth can have, and provides a new one.

Friday, 23 October 2015

YA Shot Tour- Interview with Lisa Williamson

Today, I’m very excited to welcome Lisa Williamson on the YA Shot tour!
YA Shot is an event that will take place  in Uxbridge on 28 October, organised by Alexia Casale and many other people. Over 71  will be there, tickets are up-to £20, and there’s a full day of panels and booky –MG and YA- things happening!

 Lisa Williamson is the author of The Art of Being Normal, which I reviewed here and really enjoyed. I got the chance to interview her, and I loved her answers, and couldn’t wait to share!

Do you think reading is important for teens today, and why?

I do! I'm convinced those who read fiction make for kinder, more sensitive and empathetic people. Having said that, not every teen is going to be reader and I think it's important we don't ever make anyone feel bad or inadequate about not reading for pleasure. What we should really be doing is finding a way of exposing reluctant readers to the range and breadth of books out there in such a way that doesn't feel enforced. I often meet young people who adore the Hunger Games films but would never think of reading the books. Changing that mindset without being preachy is hard! I often describe my personal experience of reading the Hunger Games for the first time and try to communicate just how intense that was, because instead of sitting in a cinema full of people watching Katniss fight to the death, I was actually there with her, in her head, just the two of us! For me growing up, books represented escape and relaxation. I loved how private and personal my relationship with a book felt, regardless of how many other people I knew had also read it. Reading also helped me figure out who I was, or rather who I wanted to be, and how to make sense of my place in the world. 

Has reading ever done anything for you that you wouldn't mind sharing?

As I mentioned, as a teenager, reading was an escape. When I was thirteen, I was bullied for a short but intense period. Reading made me feel safe and a bit less lonely. I've grown up with the feeling that books are my friend. 

Do you have any stories of people saying how TAOBN has helped them?

I do, and it's probably been the best part of being a published author. TOABN is told from the point of view of a young transgender person, and although I'd done masses of research and endeavoured to be as authentic and sensitive as possible, I was mindful of my responsibility as an author and, pre-publication, very fearful of 'getting it wrong'. Since the book has been out, I've been overwhelmed by the tweets and emails I've received. One young person said the book gave him the courage to come out to his parents. Another said she'd given it to her friends to help them understand what she's going through. Another said how happy she'd been to see the book displayed proudly in a high street bookshop and how it made her feel like she was no longer 'a freak'. All these messages have moved me deeply and demonstrate just how vital diverse books are! 

Do you think books can help people in ways that other media can't?

Books are an amazing tool for sparking discussion. It can be daunting to have a conversation with your family about, for example, gender identity, but if you use a fictional story as a stimulus, it can be a much easier and safer way in. My boyfriend's mother died recently having suffered from Alzheimer's for a number of years. There is a lot of literature on the subject available online. However, I found the most useful material for helping me understand the disease were fictional titles (namely Still Alice, Elizabeth is Missing and Unbecoming). By inviting me to step into the shoes of a dementia sufferer, my perceptions and understanding were turned upside down and I feel I became more compassionate and patient as a result. Emotions are so powerful and I think stories that tap into this part of our brain have the power to change hearts and minds in a way I just don't think a pamphlet or online article can. 

What's your favourite way of promoting books to teens?

Talking to them! I love talking to teenagers, not just about books but pretty much anything that excites them. I did an event recently where I ended up talking a lot about my personal experiences as a teenager. I was really open about being bullied and being in an emotionally abusive relationship and feeling scared about my future and afterwards several teens came forward and opened up to me in return. I think there's a real expectation that adults have their shit together and I wonder if we're doing teenagers a disservice by not being more open about our thoughts and feelings, even if they're in retrospect. I think it would have made a massive difference to me growing up. 
I also love speaking at literary festivals. A whole festival devoted to books? What's not to love? 

How important do you think compulsory reading eg for GCSEs is?

I think it's very important, even if those young people never go on to read a single book ever again. However, I definitely feel it's time to shake up the reading list. Teenagers are reading the same books I read at school twenty years ago and that's not right. For one, the teachers need to feel passionate about what they're teaching and how can they feel energised and motivated to teach a book when it's the tenth, twentieth, maybe even thirtieth time they've shared it with a class? The books I remember from school are often the ones I got the sense my teacher really got a kick out of teaching us.

I wonder if it's at all practical to introduce weekly or even daily 'story time' in schools? Every time I read aloud in a school, the kids seem to really chill out and actually listen. It made me think of how there's something really relaxing and uniting about listening to a story in a big group. Being read to at school would also mean young people who don't usually read off their own backs would be exposed to stories they would wouldn't be otherwise, and might, just might, be motivated enough by the experience to seek out a book of their own. 

If you could give one book to every teenager, what would it be and why?

Yikes, that's tough! This is perhaps a more female-focussed title (although I think boys should most definitely seek it out too!) but 'Am I Normal Yet?' by Holly Bourne is an utter joy, celebrating female friendship in a way that's not often seen in YA fiction. It's also funny and moving and explores mental health in a way that's really accessible and real. I also recently read 'Goodbye Stranger' by Rebecca Stead. It's for slightly younger readers (the protagonist is twelve) and absolutely nails the nature of adolescent friendships in a very beautiful and understated way. I'm all about the friendship at the moment! 

Reminder: you can find Lisa on Twitter here, TAOBN on Goodreads here, and you can buy it in hardback from Hive or from David Fickling. If you’d like to wait for the paperback, it’ll be here on 7th January 2016.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Theatre Review: Willy's Bitches

 I'm sorry for taking so long to get this up! 

Title: Willy’s Bitches
Written By: Shannon Thurstone
Performed by: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Director: Philip Howard
Music: Tamara Saringer 
Seen at: Assembly Checkpoint, Edinburgh Fringe
Review: Willy’s Bitches is a cabaret show featuring various women of Shakespeare. A variety of characters are used, selected from tragedies, comedies, and histories, and they take you on a journey of classical dialogue and modern music.
 So, there’s a joke in my family that anything I read/watch is gay, feminist, murderous, or Shakespeare. I was looking through the giant list of shows at Edinburgh and I came across this, which promised to be three of these things...I had to go and see it!
My favourites were Rachel Graham as a cold, distant, creepy Lady Macbeth, and Hannah Kerbes and Samantha Taylor Burnes as Beatrice and Kate, drinking and singing a bawdy song. Jenny Douglas was a really strong Julia, who is played with a lot more madness than a)I would have read from Two Gentleman of Verona and b) than Brigid Shine’s sweet and vulnerable Ophelia. Melanie Morton and Shannon Thurston make a great comic pair as Helena and Hermia fighting, while Queen Mary (Ash Henning) was powerful and terrifying.  I’m also in love with how they  performed Lavinia’s part, with eerie harmonising as she emerges following her mutilation, then Lauren Meyer sings a powerful song about rape culture.
The music is really good- I wish they’d released a soundtrack. The harmonies introducing Lavinia sounded brilliant, and every actress had a voice that fit their song. There’s a small band on stage, which provides the men for the women to interplay with, which I liked seeing (Lady Macbeth scaring I think it was the clarinettist, while the guitarist takes the part of York). The music varies between styles, which fit the plays being referenced.
The staging was simple, some chairs and a table, which got moved around as and when needed. By costume, we saw each of the plays being set in very different settings, mixing the canon time period with modern with 50s fashion, and I liked the mixture of aesthetics.
I wasn’t expecting it to be in this format (being listed as a musical, I was expecting all the women to interplay with each other a lot more than they did, and it would have been nice if they had) but the transitions from play to play worked, even if it did just end seemingly randomly following Margaret’s section. I’d have also liked a bit more of the speech to come through, and to get to know a bit more of the women’s stories from what I saw on stage, rather than filling in gaps with research afterwards.

Overall: Strength 4 tea to a strong new take on Shakespeare


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Happy Bisexual Visibility Day!

So, I'm still snowed under with work because fitting everything around a personal statement that needs to be in in two days, four hundred characters shorter than it currently is while still conveying everything I want it to, is making me lose the will to live. Still, I need a break, and I thought I'd do a little post. And it's Bisexual Visibility Day (at least for the next three two hours-it took me a long time to write this). I could do a thoughtful post of what I want or don't want in bisexual representation in fiction/the media, or other analyses. But as I'm kind of tired, so here's a few of some of my favourite bisexual (using my definition of characters  "has the ability to be attracted to 1)people of our own gender and 2)people of other genders") I've encountered in books.

Micah and Drystan from Pantomime by Laura Lam (my review here)
They're really intriguing people-we meet them in a circus,  in book two, they're magicians, Drystan's funny, and Micah's genearlly awesome.  Also, their relationship is adorable (if only Laura hadn't done -that- to Aenea!!!)

Kitty and Delilah from Hollow Pike by James Dawson (my review here)
The last time I read Hollow Pike was a few years ago, and my memory is kind of hazy, but I remember loving how  Kitty stands up for herself,  while Delilah is eternally sweet, and they make a brilliant couple.

Professor Lyall from The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
I think I remember Akeldama saying that Lyall was bi... If he is, he makes this list- werewolf beta who gained a professorship from studying sheep breeding, makes sarcastic remarks and

Magnus Bane from the Infernal Devices/ Mortal Instruments series  by Cassandra Clare
Once again, another character whose sarky comments make me love them. Also, his magic, his adventures, and his fashion sense.

Olivia, Orsino, and Viola from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
OK, it's not officially stated, but Orsino does fall for Viola while he believes she's a man, Viola's soliloquy never says she's rejecting Olivia, she just seems to be "argh we're all in love in a A loves B loves C thing", and I don't think  Olivia would have minded too much to have married Viola (believing her to be a man), then later found her a woman, having already fallen in love.

I've also read other books featuring bisexual characters- Far From You, Grasshopper Jungle, Adaptation... I can't make my mind think of them right now- but I wouldn't be putting them on this list because the characters weren't as memorable. And sorry for such a short post! I hope to be able to concentrate on blogging soon... *needs sleep first*

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Book Review- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title:   This is Where It Ends

Author:  Marieke Nijkamp
Series:   N/A
Published:    5th January 2016
Length:  292 pages
Source: The #TIWIEUKTour organised by Luna of Luna’s Little Library
Summary :  10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Review: This is the story of a school shooting, told as it happens from the perspectives of the shooter's sister Autumn, Autumn's girlfriend Sylv, Sylv's brother Tomás, and the shooter's ex-girlfriend, Claire. 
I wanted to read this because it's an amazing setup, and Marieke is brilliant on Twitter.
This was a would-be-one-sitting-if-life-didnt-get-in-the-way book.  It starts normally, setting up friendships and relationships (quite a few, and it’s a little confusing   because there’s lots of people introduced at the same time but you pick it up as you carry on)  to start with it’s just a normal school day  but after 10.05 it's full on until the end. There's books where you can't stop reading, then there's this.
I liked the multimedia approach, showing tweets, blogs, and texts from those involved and on the outside. The helplessness of everyone on the outside comes through, and I liked the way Marieke showed how tragedy doesn’t just affect those there.
Emotions. All the emotions for everyone. Particularly on page 212 of the proof, where one character slips into the conditional and that’s one of the most heartbreaking parts in the book (there's a few). But everywhere you see characters you know and don't know and fear for them and need to know what's going to happen.
I think the biggest thing about this book for me is how immediate it is. I’m  someone who’s grown up in the UK, where the last school shooting happened in 1996, before I was born, and was followed by pressure groups and the banning of handguns. As a result, when we hear of things like this happening, it’s horrifying and upsetting but you still feel distanced because, despite knowing that this could happen anywhere, living in the UK with its strict gun control laws makes it  harder to imagine a society where there’s the possibility of something like this happening and you practise what to do if it does, despite knowing that this is some people’s reality.
 TIWIE does one of the things I like most about reading contemporary/realistic fiction: make different situations real. The fully diverse cast of victims, survivors, and shooter is developed, and we see their dreams, their experiences, and lives. We see the people involved as people, not just names in a news report, which is, I think, why TIWIE is so hard hitting.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to one of the most intense books I've ever read.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Theatre Review: Secret Shakespeare by William Shakespeare and The Handlebards

So, my Edinburgh Fringe theatre reviews are ready to be posted! They’ll come as often as I can, but I have a lot of school work to do, plus I’m doing work exp
erience at a law firm and ugh travelling is tiring. They’ll come though. And book reviews will resume shortly, and maybe some other things. Thanks for sticking around!   

Title:  Secret Shakespeare (A Shakespeare play, but I can't say which one)
Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: James Farrell & Emma Sampson
Performed by: The Handlebards
Major cast:  Calum Hughes Mcintosh,  Callum Brodie, Tom Dixon, Paul Moss
Seen at:  ...somewhere pretty.

Review: The Handlebards are four actors who have been cycling up from London to Edinburgh, carrying their costumes and props, and stopping every so often to perform a show. Secret Shakespeare is where the audience joins them to meet up in the city centre, get given bikes, ride out about 5 miles-ish, and then enjoy the show. I'm not allowed to tell you much about the play in specifics, due to the secret thing, but I'll say what I can.
The ride was easy, even for someone who hasn't ridden for years, and led by professionals. We cycled through parts of the city I probably would never have seen if I'd spent all my time in the centre, so that was nice.
The location was beautiful. Beautiful behind the audience, beautiful behind the stage, it was a great place to be. It's an open air show, with tents providing the wings and gazebos for the audience to sit under. Oh, and the rain wasn't too bad!
When they said what play they were doing, I was very happy. I hadn't seen it before, but I was familiar with the storyline.
I love the puppetry. It's first used to illustrate the exposition speech, which was very useful because it is a confusing set up. It's later used to represent characters in some scenes where there's meant to be more than four characters on stage. Other ways of getting around the "only four actors" thing includes holding out key identifying costume pieces, audience participation, and plates.
The multiroling is superb. All four actors have to switch costumes and characters very very quickly, sometimes speaking back to themselves. Costume, voice, and movement changes make clearly defined characters. I really enjoyed the characterisation, especially of the women.
I did find it going a bit too fast in places, and I'm not sure if it's because of the Handlebards format or the writing. Probably both. Despite this, I really enjoyed the show.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to an inventive take on an old play, and a great evening out.

Links:  Company

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

You may have noticed from Twitter and Instagram, I'm at Edinburgh Fringe!! I'm having a brilliant time and I've seen some wonderful shows. Now, I've promised reviews to all the plays I've seen, and they are being written. But formatting and dealing with pictures does not work on my phone, so I'll post the properly formatted theatre reviews when I'm back at home. In the meantime, my reviews are uploaded to the Fringe ticketing website, so you can look at them there. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Mini Reviews: Rainbow Boys and Shades of Grey

Title: Rainbow Boys
 Author: Alex Sanchez
Published: October 2001 by Simon and Schuster
Source: Bought
Review: A look at life for queer teens at the turn in the millenium. I like how some things, such as pressures of coming out, falling in love, and dealing with bullying, are themes that are still relevant today, but it really does seem firmly set in its time place. I also like the fact it shows people in different stages of accepting their sexuality, and various questions related to all of them.
 It felt like a gentle story of exploration. Our three main characters discover sexuality, new love, and new experiences.I feel it was probably a great book when it was first published, when the market of books featuring queer characters was very very small. Reading it today, when we have a lot more representation, with a lot more nuanced characters, I felt it was very very tropey- Nelson especially seemed like the archetypal flamboyant gay, with not much else going for him. On a much less serious note, “chartreuse” hair....  Then again, this was written in the early 2000s, so Rainbow Boys might be an originator of these tropes. Or maybe all that could get sold at that time. I don’t know. Despite this, I did enjoy following the characters and their emotions.  I also like how it did bring up the issue of safe sex well
My favourite thing is that whoever chose the models for the cover I got does not appear to have read the book.

Overall: Strength 3 tea to  an early LGB YA novel.
Links: Goodreads

Title : Shades of Grey
Author: Jasper Fforde
Published: December 2009 by Penguin
Source: Bought
Review: I picked this up because of the cover, and bought it because a review said it was "full of witticisms, wordplay, and puns", and was described as a cross between Douglas Adams and George Orwell. For me, it didn’t live up to the fun I expected from the comparison with Adams, but the Orwellian aspects were strong.
I most enjoyed reading about this new society Fforde created. Extracts from the Rulebook head every chapter, and we got a good look at the workings of the society as we learnt bits about it gradually. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t really connect.
I felt that plotwise, it took a long time to get going, and when it did, it was often really confusing. It did clear up towards the end, providing a clear set up for later books in the trilogy, but for this book, it was quite late. There’s many different strands, with a murder mystery, marrying to improve social status but maybe being in love with someone who you can’t marry, finding out about the Something That Happened. Normally, I like mixes like these, but for some reason, it felt really confusing here.

Overall: Stregnth 2 tea to a book with a great concept, but was less fun to read.

Links: Goodreads

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Snapshot reviews- Firestarter, Only Ever Yours, Firewallers, The Crane Wife

Hi everyone! Firstly, I had a brilliant time at the Sunday of YALC. I got more books than I should have done, and met so many wonderful people. Thank you everyone for a great day!

Second, Rebecca is the winner of a signed, unpersonalised copy of The Lost and the Found! I will post it some time this week/  There’s still one unsigned copy to be won... if you're reading this on Saturday 25th, there's a twitter giveaway going on... 

Third! I have a giant pile of books I’ve read that I don’t feel I can write fully about.  So I asked Georgia, aka the Bibliomaniac, if I could use her format of very mini reviews (such as here) and she said yes! Thank you, Georgia!  Here’s a very quick snapshot at some things I’ve been reading...

Friday, 17 July 2015

Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Title:  The Art of Being Normal
Author:  Lisa Williamson
Series:   N/A
Published:    1 January 2015 by David Fickling
Length:  368 pages
Source: library
Other info: This was Lisa’s debut
Summary :  Two boys. Two secrets.
David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.
On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.
When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

Review: David, seen by everyone as a boy, really a girl, is continually teased and misunderstood by everyone bar his best friends, from parents to bullies. Leo is the new guy, with rumours about why he left his old school running around, and he just wants to be invisible. They  become friends after  Leo sticks up for David, and they
I enjoyed watching the friendship between David and Leo, the ups and downs and the things they tell eachother. Both narrations are well fleshed out, and so are most of the side characters.  My favourites were probably Alicia, Essie, and Felix, who are all great in their own way and who I want to befriends with.
I enjoyed the represntation of trans people here. I loved the fact that we see a trans character who has already undergone some of the transition process, and that being trans is not the only facet of their being, they have siblings, families, friends, and romantic issues to navigate too. I also liked the way we saw how gender expectations also influenced the trans characters’ perceptions of themselves, such as David’s despair at his growth spurt, defying his hopes to be small and feminine, because of the expectations society sets for women.
I  really appreciated the look at life as a queer child in a modern, less tolerant environment. I’m really lucky to live in a very tolerant school where our trans community, as far as I know, are treated with respect by both staff and students, and there’s no physical bullying. I know nationwide  figures for bullying, but like with many things, it all becomes more real, more important, if you’re reading a more fleshed out story, be it fact or fiction, than just looking at statistics.
I found  it weird that Leo continues to call David David and he when he’s learn David’s chosen name. I don’t know if that’s internalised cisnormativity or something. I just noticed and wondered why he of all people would continue  with that. It changes by the end though. Eh, I don’t know.
I really liked the look at  complex family relationships. Leo’s quest to find his father. David’s continual hiding and eventual coming out. The support given and not given to each child. It varies, and feeds into each character.
Emotions were had when reading this. Sadness for the environment that allows the continued bullying. Sadness and happiness when Leo and Alicia get together. Happiness and pride for David when coming out. Pure happiness at the Christmas ball they put up and how happy David.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to an eyeopening story about friendship, family, and  being transgender today.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Book review and GIVEAWAY! The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

Title:  The Lost and the Found
Author:   Cat Clarke
Published:   2 July 2015 by Quercus
Length:   441 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Cat Clarke has written awesomeness! I have reviewed Entangled, Undone, A Kiss in the Dark, and Torn here. She has also written Fallen.

Summary : LOST. When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith's childhood was dominated by Laurel's disappearance - from her parents' broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister. FOUND. Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans' old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that's lost can be found again...

Review: Six year old Laurel Logan was abducted.  However, after thirteen years, she’s back. The Logan family must deal with the resulting media coverage, and the challenge of putting together a family that’s changed so much.
I wanted to read this because I generally love Cat Clarke (she’s one of the few authors with a collection on my keep-forever shelf) and she’s good at writing books that leave you thinking.
I loved how we didn’t see Faith drop everything she had in in the pre-return life when Laurel came back, she kept with her relationship and her  friendship and they supported her. I loved the relationship that grew between Faith and Laurel.  I loved the family relationship (my parents are separated and I totally understand the resentment from one parent when the other gets a new partner (also, Michael is absolutely wonderful with his cooking and love of Harry Potter)).
I loved the gradual revelation of things regarding Laurel. Cat tends to write brilliant characters, with lots of elements to them, and she’s done it again. You see things lots of things get set up that can change things majorly, little tensions build, and you want to know how it’ll play out, even though at times it does take time to get to the reveal. I did see the big twist coming from the start. Not the details, but the main thing.  But I’m really happy with the way it developed from there, because we got a new side of Laurel that I hadn’t expected.
My favourite thing was the questions raised regarding the treatment of missing people in the media. It’s so accurate and it’s nice to see it coming up and being challenged. Also, the very last paragraph of the penultimate chapter, the second person thing before the news article. That just left me with emotions.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a slowly growing thriller about family and  many kinds of relationships.

Here’s chapter 8 of THE LOST AND THE FOUND, in case this hasn’t convinced you to read it.

And hey, I have two copies of THE LOST AND THE FOUND to give away! UK ONLY, ends end of 15 July 2015. EXTENDED UNTIL 22 JULY To enter,  comment with your email address and why you want to  read this book! Upto three extra entries may be gained by linking your spreading of the word of the giveaway, ie by tweet, facebook, or your blog. Good luck, and don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour!

Monday, 6 July 2015


You may have noticed me on Twitter speaking about TEDx. Well, it happened, and it went really well.
TEDx is an offshoot of the TED talks, where a collection of speakers come and do short talks on a subject of their choosing. The x marks the event as independently organised. One of my friends, Tanya, decided we should do a TEDx event. She looked into getting a license, she got one, and plans started being made.

We had a mix of students and external speakers and performers, all covering a range of topics.

NON PRATT, author of TROUBLE and REMIX, talked about how we condition generations into genders.
SARAH SKY, author of the JESSICA COLE series, gave us a quick tour though female spies, past and present.
The A LEVEL DRAMA group did part of their performance of Monsters, revolving around the killing of Jamie Bulger
SHONA DIXON analysed  the response to Ebola.
DR GEORGINA NEALL talked about, among other things, how she balances studying, working, and raising four children.
TOM POLLOCK, author of THE SKYSCRAPER THRONE series, examined the media's role in creating fear in the masses.
GABBY WASSER told us about how mushrooms can help, heal, or bring about an apocalypse
CHARLOTTE SPRUZEN was one of two explaining the science of science fiction, looking at how time travel would theoretically work.
SONDER, a band made up of two students, played two songs.
SARAH RABY BUCK gave the second science of science fiction talk, explaining how biochemistry could work on other worlds.
NATALIE RUSSO talked about the importance of language and why it's not too late to learn a new one.
JEANNIE GALSTON , ex Miss Universe, told us what it was like to be a model in the days before Photoshop.
NAFEESA MOHAMMED performed some of her work (she's an amazing slam poet) and what poetry means for her.
I, NINA CRISP, did a talk about why you should diversify your reading. What else would I say?
REBECCA JURDON summed up very eloquently the failings of an exam orientated education system.

All these talks will soon be available on YouTube, so if you missed them and want to see them, or if you want to relive them, you can! I'll link them when they're available.

We had a selection of world food, both main and desert. The highlights were the  cupcakes. We sold books, both the authors' and some diverse ones I highlighted in my talk.

We also had plans to have a bloggers' alley, but it didn't work out because we forgot that devices need to be registered to the school's WiFi system to work, and that the council's service blocks all blogs anyway. Still, it was brilliant to see FAYE (A Daydreamer's Thoughts) and FIONNUALA (Books for Birds).

Thank you, everyone who came and supported us, especially all our external speakers and bloggers who came from a long way away! Also, thank you all the people who worked hard on making TEDx Beaconsfield High a thing. It was brilliant.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Theatre Review- Luck of the Draw

Title: Luck of the Draw
Writer: Michael Smith
Director: Matthew Dye
Performed by: Renegade Theatre Company and VF
Cast: Neil Brown, Claire Deards, Tom Hurst, Niven Willett, Grace J. Willis, Hayley White, and Zac Abbott 
Seen at: Duke Street Theatre
Review:  Six friends, getting ready for a night out, with Papa John's pizza, waiting for the lottery results, and plenty of alcohol. It's funny, it's dirty, it's crazy. But then there's an accident which throws suspicion into the group, and by the end, the night has gone horribly wrong.
I wanted to see this because I love the  Renegade Theatre crew, and this was being advertised as a black comedy, which is definitely my cup of tea.
The humour was just as good as I'd hoped. Yes, you can think badly of me at laughing at various parts of it, because, as I said on the night, the majority of jokes are centered around things that cause people to go to hell (the effect of sexual favours for animals on a career in TV, potential necrophilia, what appeared to be multiple stabbings whilst everybody panics (I'm not sure about that one, I was laughing too much)) but at the time, in context, with the characters and the delivery, it was perfect.  I also enjoyed the running gags- it's a menorah is probably one of Tom's greatest lines. 
The writing, despite the mild bigotry that came in-character from some, is excellent. It's sharp and funny. Relationships and characters are established really quickly. The cliffhanger before the interval is huge, and act 2 went in millions of directions, expected and unexpected, bringing in things you thought were throwaway lines but turn out to be very important indeed.  I didn't really enjoy Neil's philosophising in act 2, though, but the poignancy of the phone call was a poignant breather before...everything else. 
The cast was brilliant. Everybody was completely in character, and they complemented and interacted with  eachother like a real group of friends would. The improvisation especially was on point (I only saw one show, but I heard an usher saying he noticed some parts improvised. The Star Wars lines between Grace and Tom! Perfect!)
The set and tech is very different to Spring Awakening. It's just a mess. There's nothing else to call it. Reflecting Niven's personality totally, made with little details like a Katy Perry poster and a full book/dvd case where you sat close enough to be able to see some titles.   I love how completely versatile Duke Street Theatre is, and how well they transformed the space for Luck of the Draw.  

Overall: Strength 4.5, just a 4* to a fast, funny, filthy show that I wish I'd seen multiple times. 
Links: Company

*If I hadn't had other theatre reviews with ratings, this would have probably been a 5. However, the last two shows I reviewed with a 5 were on a level that transcended every single expectation and left me breathless in awe, so that's my standard of strength 5 theatre shows.  The problems of having a numerical rating system that you can't extend upwards!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Book Review- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

So, it’s Pride Day, or whatever you call the day where really major cities hold their Pride celebrations, being the last weekend of June and thus commemeorating the Stonewall Riots. It’s also the day after the Supreme Court of the USA announced it’s a constiutional right for all people regardless of gender and sexuality to get married if they choose, and states can’t deny this. YAY!! In celebration, here’s a book I read for Faye’s LGBT Readathon and really enjoyed!

Title:  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author:  Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Series:   N/A
Published:    February 2012 by Simon and Schuster
Length:  368 pages
Source: borrowed from friend
Summary : Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Review: 1987. Two very different boys meet and form a friendship. Together they have fun, navigate their teenage years and, learn things about the universe and themselves.
I've had this on my to read list for ages, because it's on many people's lists of brilliant gay teen novels, and it's been hard to find (I don't think it has a UK publisher). Yay for friends who bother buying things off the internet instead!
This is one of those quietly brilliant books. I'm not always into discovering who you are type stories, but I liked this one.
My favourite thing was watching the friendship between Aristotle and Dante grow. It's organic, full of setbacks, but ultimately endures. It's a beautifully close friendship and love, and it just makes you smile for them, because it's the kind that makes you think they're soulmates, and makes it natural for things to progress at the end, but it would be OK even if it didn't because some kinds of bond are so profound they don't need anything else but if there is then that's fine too.
Close second is all the family relationships going on, from the easiness with Dante's father (who is a generally awesome person) to the awkwardness surrounding Aristotle's imprisoned brother.
Then there's  the development of Aristotle and Dante, Dante knowong what he wants, Aristotle figuring it out. They learn a lot, they go through a lot with and without each other.
Also, the final feeling the book left me with. It's not loud happiness, like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, another gay story I got through quickly and loved. In Aristotle and Dante,  it's more a quiet kind of contentment, that everything's been resolved, that the future will all work out.
This is all becsuse of the writing (OK, all books are what they are because of writing, but here I want to make a point of it). It's narrated by Aristotle, and we see  Dante directly from his letters. We get all of Aristotle's thoughts and questions and emotions and view of the world and it all comes together into a story that feels real and full.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a tender, gentle story about many forms of love.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Book Review- I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Title:   I’ll Give You the Sun by
Author:  Jandy Nelson
Series:   N/A
Published:   2 April 2015 by Walker
Length:  416 pages
Source: library
Other info:  Nelson has also written The Sky is Everywhere
Summary : Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.
Review: Jude and Noah are close twins, both aiming to get into art school, both falling in love. Then their mum dies, and the bond breaks.
From everyone else's reviews, I was hoping I'd liked this. The first chapter starts well, introducing us to a thirteen year old artist who frequently envisions paintings in his head. We learn of his aim to get into art school, an aim shared by his twin sister. The second chapter is narrated by said twin, age 16, frustrated with her art projects, and frequently referring to the advice her grandmother gave her. From then, I don't really know.
It's hard to get in to. Literary-wise, I appreciate the character consistency of painting titles and advice. Reader-wise, I found it annoying. It also took me time to work out  the  thing with Grandma and ghosts. Was it supernatural? Was it Jude's personal beliefs? I knew nothing about this book before I started beyond the near universal love from bloggers. It was quite confusing.
I didn't connect properly to the characters. This  then had a knock on effect on my overall experience of the book.
I didn't mind reading about all the interactions between Jude, Guillermo, and Oscar, and Noah and Brian. But I just didn't really care. Also, if you asked me to describe chronologically what happened, I would be totally unable to do so.
To be honest, I only had three reasons to keep reading this. One: because so many people enjoyed it, and I felt I needed to persevere. Two: I really wanted to know why Noah hadn't made it into the art school, when from the (admittedly biased because it's narrated by him) first chapter. Three (when we found out why): It was so far in to the book I may as well finish it.

Overall:  Strength two tea to a book I was hoping to enjoy, but sadly couldn't.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Theatre Review- Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, performed by Smooth Faced Gents

Title: Titus Andronicus
Writer:  William Shakespeare
Director:  Yaz Al-Shaater
Performed by: Smooth Faced Gentlemen
Cast:  Ariane Barnes, Olivia Bromley, Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Ely Condron, Lia Burge, Ashlea Kaye, Helen Coles, Emma Nixon
Seen at:  Greenwich Theatre

Review: Following a bloody war with the Goths, Romans return home with prisoners but without an emporer. Titus Andronicus is appointed, but he refuses. Saturninus is appointed emperor, and he says he wants to marry Titus’ daughter, Lavinia. Lavinia and her lover/Saturninus’ brother object, so Saturninus takes Tamora, the queen of the defeated Goths, as his empress. Throw in her two sons, her lover, and her desire for revenge (fair enough, considering within the first five minutes of the play, her eldest son is cut up, despite her pleadings), and you have Shakespeare’s bloodiest play... here performed with an all-female cast and a lot of red paint.
I was very excited to see this. I read Titus a few years ago, and wondered how it could be done on stage what with...everything. I saw a cinema screening of the RSC production where they did it very realistically, which was pretty good. And then I saw this.
Everybody has the same costume as a base-black trouser, white shirt, and braces. Coats and props are used to differentiate major characters from eachother, but  even without these, you can tell when people are playing different characters.
 This was cast perfectly! Ariane Barnes is a strong Titus, being the right mix of funny  in some places and and emotional in others.  Anita-Joy Uwajeh plays Aaron with a distinctive style that I couldn’t pin down but which one of my friends said was mythical and magical. Elly Condron is Lavinia, who makes you form an emotional connection with her depsite her losing her tounge about a third of the way through ,and having what seems like quite a few of her lines cut. Olivia Bromley’s Tamora is coldhearted, but you can feel the power coming off her.  Everybody was very talented and embodied their character(s) wholly, changing styles as they changed character, especially considering Helen Coles and Ashlea Kaye’s characters were completely morally opposites (Chiron and Lucius for Coles and Marcus and Demetrius for Kaye). And on a less serious note, Lia Burge’s  Saturninus telling Emma Nixon’s Bassianus  “Sir, you are being very short with us!” was wonderful.
They kept the tone right. From my reading of Titus, I enjoyed the humour (and it does come thick and fast, with Shakespeare taking the sass levels high), to contrast with the horrors that the play contains. It comes through in this play, but as I said, it allows suitable tenderness in the scenes with the Titus family, completely in contrast to Aaron’s casual attitude to demanding a hand in return for the exchange for sons, the moments when Titus suggests names of Lavinia’s attackers, and the background Goths passing round Aaron’s child and their different attitudes to him while serious things happen in the front.
I am completely in love with this staging. There’s white screens, behind which the characters change (sometimes), and  paintpots at the front. The strictly held colour scheme of black, white, and red, with silver and brown accents, and the replacement of knives and swords with paintbrushes and rollers made it look a bit surreal, which allowed them to do all kinds of gory things on stage. It was a brave decision to do Lavinia’s mutilation on stage, but they made it work so horrifyingly well. Accompanying music was provided by the actors singing, and they did it very well, holding their lines while also effecting scene changes and such, although it did seem a little random, only happening at some scenes and not others. 
It’s very fast. I think they cut about an hour’s worth of lines, which is a shame, especially when Lavinia and Bassianus had brilliant lines before they lost the ability to speak, but it was still easy to follow and enjoy, and we kept some very good monologues.
There could be  political/feminist discussions over having an all-female cast, especially considering there's only three canonically female characters, and the really terrible fate of one of them. I'm not going to discuss that, because regardless of their gender, all eight actors conveyed the characters and made them real. 

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a slick, brilliantly acted performance. Can’t wait to catch the Smooth Faced Gents  (possibly again in Titus, definitely again in Othello) up in Edinburgh!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Blog tour for CHOPSTIX by A. T. RAYDAN

Today, the blog tour for Chopstix by A. T. Raydan. It looks like a fun read, and I'm hoping for a bit of Chinese mythology to come in the book later... For now, here's a blog post by the villains, the Chi.

Welcome to the House of Chi

Who are we? We are the faceless shadows in the darkest night, the formless shape caught in the corner of your eye, the uncanny feeling you’re being watched when no one is around. We are the House of Chi, but you can think of us as the Gatekeepers.

Chi is natural flowing energy that flows through your body, the life force that keeps you conscious, keeps you breathing. Chi surrounds you in every aspect of life. The House of Chi lay at the source of this energy.

We are governed by the mantra: Preservation, Protection and Purification. Our “members” span across the globe, we are open to people from all walks of life. There is no country, no city or town that is hidden from our influence. 

Our history is shrouded in hidden mystery, many have sought to uncover the secrets of The Chi, but in order to know our past, and you must become part of our future.  However, I must warn you, membership is eternal; those that join cannot escape their duty without facing the ultimate punishment. 

We have many tasks and purposes, which you learn when initiated. But for now know this, we will recover the ancient relics from the City of Jade, as is our ancestral right. Only a fool would dare get in our way.

Chopstix by A.T Raydan is published by Unique Inspiration (paperback, £6.99). Available online from Waterstones here and on Goodreads here.

NEXT STOP:  Read about the fire that changed everything for Chopstix on Teen Librarian
YESTERDAY’S STOP: Nayu’s Reading Corner asks Chopstix Author A.T. Raydan all about her new book.

About Chopstix: Wendy Wu is an ordinary teenager, with a secure home and caring parents who worked hard running the family’s successful Chinese restaurant. Other than the occasional encounter with the bullies at her new college, Wendy could honestly say that life was good.  
When out of the blue fate delivers Wendy a cruel blow, her life is turned upside down. Shaken by grief Wendy retreats in to her room, struggling to come to terms with terrible events that destroyed all she held dear.  With her parents gone, it is her Aunt Daiyu who she turns to for support. 
Why could Wendy always sense when danger was near?  Why did she suddenly feel she had to save people under threat?  Aided by her aunt, Wendy uncovers a mystical side to herself she never knew she had, and an ancestral secret that will change her life for ever…

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Book Review- A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Title:  A Darker Shade of Magic
Author:  V. E. Schwab
Series:   A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Published:   27 February 2015 by Titan
Length:   400 pages
Source: Publisher
Summary : Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London...

Review: Kell is one of the last Antari, a blood magician. As the adopted brother of the prince in Red London, where magic is prized, he hops between the other Londons- White, ruled by a ruthless brother/sister duo, Grey, without magic at all, and occasionally Black, which was wiped out by London, on diplomatic missions. He’s also a smuggler. At some point he meets Lila,  a thief from Grey London, as he’s smuggling artefacts between the worlds. She hopes to be a pirate and adventure, and with Kell she gets more adventure than she’d thought as they try to return an artefact he’s taken.
I wanted to read this because, as you may have noticed, I am a little obsessed with London and its variations. I’ve enjoyed the London based urban-fantasy I’ve read so far, and the idea of four Londons, each very very different, intrigued me. Also, Schwab posted on Goodreads a summary of elements:-magic, cross-dressing thieves, Londons (plural), and a royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness- which definitely caught my eye.
The characters are fun and fleshed out. I think my favourite was Rhy (the aforementioned royal mashup of Harry and Captain Jack) who starts off providing comedy and then by the end he’s more than that and you just want to hug him. Then come the Dane twins, the cruel rulers of White London, who I loved reading about as they do evil things.  Kell and Lila, I really enjoyed seeing their friendship develop, but I didn’t care for them as much as I did for Rhy, Astrid, and Athos.
The writing was good in places and bad in places. There’s a lot of world building to start with, and partially though the middle. I love how each London is completely different and how each world the London is in is completely different in elements like language, rulers, and general ambiance. While the world building to start is brilliant, it also makes the book slow down, and for me, it never picked up the pace or interest/adrenaline levels,  even with all the plot twists and the fight scenes, which is probably the main reason I didn’t enjoy this as much as I was hoping. It did pick up towards the end though.

Overall:   Strength 3 tea to a historical fantasy novel set across three beautiful worlds but, for me, was let down by the pacing and plot.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Theatre Review: Spring Awakening by Sater and Sheik, performed by Renegade

You know I said at the start of the year that I wanted to do more theatre, and I’d do it with Renegade.... well, I was going to, but then I got a job (which makes my compulsive book buying financially viable!!) but then it meant I couldn’t be in this. I’m glad I got to see it though!

Title:  Spring Awakening
Writer: Stephen Sater and Duncan Sheik, based on work by Frank Wedekind
Director:  Alex Howarth
Performed by: Renegade Theatre Company
Major cast: Tom Noyes, Niven Willett, Alex Brain, Joe Oliver Eason, Mhairi Fairholm, Joe Carter, Hayley White
Seen at: Duke Street Theatre
Other info: I reviewed  Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind, the play that this musical is based on, here.

Review-contains mild spoilers for the twists Renegade put:  Late 1800s Germany.  Schoolboys and girls discover sexuality. It really does not go well. Among other things, Wedla Bergmann does not understand how babies are made, Moritz Stiefl is tormented by erotic dreams, and Melchior Gabor, having read about sex, now believes in nothing. Spring Awakening: A New Musical follows a set of turbulent coming-of-ages, with everyone’s internal monologues making up the songs.
I know Renegade from being ensemble in their last show, Lucky Stiff. As a company, they're wonderful to work with, and I know the production team has changed from Lucky, but I was hopeful that the effort and the uniqueness of  ideas and things put in for Lucky would also be seen here, a show which I already loved.

When you get there, the tone is immediately set by red lighting, the children sitting in pairs with candles in between them, the adults looking on strictly, and church music in the background. The stage is square, there's two rows of seats on each side, and two sides have further seating behind. There's staging areas behind and among the seats too, for a really intimate, immersive experience.
I think my favourite performer was Niven Willett, who poratrays.  Moritz's lost, confused character through every bit of his  body and face and movements. Then there was Alex Brain, who plays Wedla's innocence really well and has a beautiful voice. Tom Noyes plays the self-assured Melchior, well, getting most of the really high notes of Left Behind. Then  there’s the two Joes (Eason and Carter), Hanschen and Ernst. Eason's ease of being and casualness  as Hanschen... brilliant, in both My Junk and the seduction scene (with a brilliant use of strawberries), And then Hayley White, Martha, whose crying at the funeral nearly got me goin. And then Tanita Gold, Dominique Hamilton, and Zac Abbott who doubled as all the adults, each taking on very different personas as they played different people.
To be honest, all the cast was brilliant, both as their own characters, and as an ensemble. Director Alex Howarth made really good use of  all the cast, who, if they weren't in the scene, were probably hovering on the edges, watching and reacting. The group dances were sharp and on point, and so was the singing.

The music was a bit different to the version I'm used to from the soundtrack. They use acoustic guitars instead of electrics, and the backing in places is more gentle and allows for the vocal harmonies to come out a lot more. I loved Melchior's backing in Whispering, traditionally Wedla's solo. Also, love to the actors playing guitars and accordions on stage as part of the show. The only thing I didn't like was the oddly upbeat string music in the scene change just before Wedla dies in agony. Considering most of the themes had been played pretty straight, the one subversion felt really out of place.
The setting and lighting was really good. They use not just normal stage lighting, but also candles and torches and handheld lights to draw attention to things. The permanent set was ladders at each corner of the  stage, plus the levels afforded by the seating, and chairs suspended from the ceiling.   Movable ladders and chairs were also used really well, and so was the piano, being brought in for the haystack scene. The scene changes were really quick, being fully incorporated into the action most of the time, and leaving no time for applause in between each song.
The more adult themes are handled well. The abuse and the suicide were stylised, and Wedla's death was played wonderfully. The haystack scene was surprisingly consensual. There's a lot of violence played really roughly, making the anger in those scenes seem real.

The little touches really made it. The boys in the classroom writing the Aeneid at speeds fitting for their characters. The fact that Martha, who had said she was in love with Moritz, was the one who cried most at his funeral. Moritz's scarf. The whole metaphor of ballet shoes vs. combat boots, showing Wedla as ultimately still a child when she dies. The Those You've Known scene, when it seems that Ilse died as well (and then she's playing pirates with Moritz and it's heartbreakingly beautiful).

There's many powerful moments in the show, which Renegade did wonderfully, but I really have to highlight The Dark I Know Well. It's one of my favourite songs, and I'm so happy with how it was done here. You see, the versions I've watched online have been haunting, tragic, profound. The one I saw here was fucking terrifying. The actors on all sides acting out punches and defences. The looks of menace on everyone's faces. The boys crowding in around Martha and Ilse, as they try and hold on to each other in desperation. The lighting showing Martha and Ilse’s faces, but everyone else as less actors, more shadow. Everything about that scene...I'm sorry, I could go on forever about how brilliant that was. 

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a powerful, intense show that got the Renegade Treatment and was definitely made better for it. So much love goes to all the cast and crew.

Links: Company  

Monday, 30 March 2015

Book review and giveaway- Delete by Kim Curran

Today, Faber Academy and I are kicking off the blog tour for Kim Curran's DELETE! It's had a bit of trouble getting out, due to the closure of Strange Chemistry, but it's coming and it's having a blog tour! 

Title:   Delete

Author:  Kim Curran
Series:    Shift #3
Published:   31 March 2015 by Xist Publishing
Length:  230 pages
Source: Strange Chemistry ARC
Other info: I reviewed Shift and Control and really enjoyed them! I’ve also had Kim over to talk about shifting in real life, and about her other book, Glaze (which I also reviewed).
Summary : The country is at war. Beset by enemies within and without. And all because of the decisions changed by one boy, Scott Tyler. In this ravaged alternative reality, Scott hardly recognises himself. He's a war hero, a leader of a unit of Shifters and maybe the only one who can prevent the country's frail defences from crumbling.
But all Scott wants to do is find a way back to the world he knew, without losing the girl he loves. With every Shift he makes, Scott edges closer towards oblivion. With no one to trust – not even himself – how much is he willing to risk to get home?

Review: This is the end of a trilogy, so this review will contain spoilers for the first two books (and you really do need to read Shift and Control before this one). Following the end of Control, Scott finds he has shifted to a world where Britain is at war, and Scott is apparently the Commandant of ARES, or at least its present form, and  everything is completely different. However, unlike most Shifters whose realities change when they shift to accomodate for that shift and they accept that shift as being the one true reality, Scott remembers the more peaceful, less treacherous world, and he wants to get back.
I really enjoyed Shift and Control, and thus I was very excited to read this. When I did get to read Delete, I read it so quickly. I think if life didn’t get in my way, it would be a one-sit-read.
You know how I said Control put the plot on a larger scale to Shift? It’s happened again. Majorly. Again.
I loved the different sides of the characters we got to know. Frankie, Aubrey, and Katie  were all changed but also still them, and Scott...woah. in this world, Scott’s personality is rather different to the one he remembers having, and I loved seeing him struggle with what he remembers, what he thinks he is, what what he has to do in this world.  So much character development.
The plot progressed well. It’s fast, but there are also quieter moments. Especially between Aubrey and Scott as  he tries to find the differences between the past Aubrey and the one now. .
I did have mixed feelings about the end. Initially I really disliked it, but after a little time, I realised how wonderful it was because Scott has learnt things and might be able to make things better and maybe it isn’t as bad an ending as I thought.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a brilliant ending to an action packed series examining decisions and their consequences.

Also, there's a tourwide giveaway happening to win all three Shift books. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway