Friday, 2 April 2021

What I Miss About Libraries


As the UK has been in lockdown for a while I’m sure we all can agree we’re missing certain things we used to take for granted. I’m personally missing visiting my best friend, going to concerts, going round museums and of course, the library. My library will soon be opening its click and collect service again, but it’s just not the same as being able to go in, so I thought I’d go on a rant about what I miss about libraries!

 Browsing the shelves

As much as I appreciate click and collect, it just isn’t the same as going inside to browse. Sometimes I have no idea what book I want until I see it on the shelf, so the click and collect service doesn’t really work for me unless I already know what I want to read. Nothing really beats picking up a book you’ve never heard of before and taking it home to read! My library hasn’t been open to do this since the first lockdown over a year ago, so I’m really missing this.

 Writing in the library

One of the reasons I decided not to participate in nanowrimo last year was not being able to write in the library. I often get too distracted writing at home, and the library was a brilliant environment for sitting down to write with few distractions. Every time I’ve participated in nano I’ve written at least half of it in the library, and I just felt like I wouldn’t have the motivation to write a whole novel in my house. As much as I love staying at home, I tend to focus better in a less distracting environment. My local library is great for this, as it’s usually quiet and has tables set up for people to work at. It even has little rooms you can use away from others!

New books!

For some reason my library has stopped ordering in new books. It used to be pretty good with this, and you could even request books for free if the library didn’t have it. Now new books are never added and there doesn’t seem to be a way to request books. This is pretty disappointing as it’ll mean less people use the library. The library was how I used to read new releases, but as they’re not available now and I can’t afford to buy every book I want to read, I’m missing out on a lot of new releases. I’m trying not to let this bother me and just focus on reading books on my shelves, but I do feel like I’m missing out when I can’t afford the latest book everyone is talking about. I really want to read more diverse books, but unfortunately that isn’t possible when they just aren’t available at the library.

 Due dates 

 Okay this seems a little weird but hear me out. Since the first lockdown, my library has stopped having due dates, which makes sense as many people are shielding, but it has made me lose motivation to actually read the books I check out. Usually, I’ll make sure to read the books before returning them, but not having a date to return them by has meant I’ve kept books for months just because I could. As everyone seems to be doing the same thing, most books I want to read aren’t available as people aren’t returning them. I also just miss the process of handing over my library card and having the librarian stamp the book with the due date. It was nice to have a goal to finish the books I’d checked out before they had to go back!

 I think once everything gets back to normal I’m going to start using and appreciating the library more. I really miss being able to read books for free, and I hope that the library will once again start to stock new books so I can catch up with all the amazing new releases I can’t afford to buy. I’d love to know what things you took for granted before the pandemic that you miss now! Feel free to let me know in the comments or tweet me so we can think wistfully of times gone by.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Blog Tour- A Casino for Gods

 Page Count: 395

Genre: YA fantasy, Historial

Publisher: Clink Street

                                                                                    Goodreads Summary:

 It was a glorious time for the two teens, Glenda and
Traveler! At home in their magical sanctuary, hidden
in downtown Chicago, they immersed themselves in
 the city's festive winter holiday season. Sadly, their
 holiday celebrations are cut short. Theo, the sanctuary's
 protective god, tells them of an approaching great
 threat. The demigod jinn host is preparing to enter
 our world. They seek to defeat Theo.
The malevolent fire creatures will arrive in the
isolated Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.
They chose the fifth century, a chaotic, brutal
time. Rampaging Hun armies battle Germanic
 tribes for control of the vast region. The host
uses this turbulence to mask its presence as it
plots the ambush of Theo. The teens arrive feeling
 like unarmed gladiators entering the high-walled
arena of the Transylvanian Mountains.

                                                      Death surrounds them. Armed only with their invisibility
                                                      skill and their trust in each other, they proceed into
                                                      the Carpathian abyss, echo across Europe. 

                   Magic, wits, and youthful courage must combine to face the                                                       fire creature. Survival, much less winning,is up for grabs.

Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Casino for God’s, the third book in the Allies of Theo series. As I’ve really enjoyed this series so far I was happy to be able to participate in the blog tour and share my thoughts on the book!

 So firstly I have to admit that I didn’t remember many details about the first two books. As I read then im 2019 and have read countless of books since then the most I could remember was that it focused on two teenagers who were given missions by a cat god and went back in time. I didn’t have time to reread the first two books so I was a little anxious that I’d be completely confused, but luckily some of the previous adventures were cleverly included in the narrative to jog my memory and I was soon caught up again!

 Something that I loved about this book was how it expanded on Theo. As Theo is a god who helped create the universe I’ve been naturally curious about him throughout this series, so I loved how we saw some of his past and how the threat of the jinn all started. I loved the idea of the randomness generator and how everything in the universe was created by chance. I did hope that the book would focus on this a little more, but unfortunately, my hopes for having Theo and M included more in this book went unfulfilled, as after the first 100 pages we only see them again briefly at the end of the book. I was a little disappointed in this as being ancient, both Theo and M have huge potential, but I honestly don’t think they’ll be explored in this series which is a shame. 

 The book started off a little slow and lagged in places throughout the book, but once the action picked up it was impossible to put down! I particularly loved the battle scene towards the end of the book between the Huns and the Gepids . As this battle was based on real history I loved the idea of it being put into this world full of magic and demons. I did however think there was a bit of a plot hole with Traveller having no idea of the outcome of the battle. Traveller seems to have a vast knowledge of historical events and battles, so it seemed a little strange to me that he didn’t know about this one. As he seemed to have knowledge of different time periods, I would have thought he would have come across this battle at some point. Apart from this I really enjoyed the battle and this time period, as it’s not really one I’ve learned about before. It took me a while to get through this book just because I keep researching everything.

 I felt that this book had a little more going on than the first two which I loved. Traveller and Glenda had to deal with everything from Wolves to Huns, along with having to find food and shelter. I loved their journey in this familiar but different world and how they cleverly got themselves out of danger. The friendship between the two teens is one of my favourite things about this series as I love how they’re constantly making fun of each other. Although I do feel like a romance will form between them I think I would be content with them remaining best friends. 

 Although we don’t see many characters returning from the previous book, I was happy that the giant Olaf was still around! I was a little disappointed that he came into it so close to the end of the book, as I think he would have been a good ally for Traveller and Glenda earlier on. I’m hoping that if Traveller and Glenda go back to the same time period in the next book, he will be around more, as I do find it a little boring at times with the story following only Traveller and Glenda. To me the book suffers from a lack of characters at times, as a lot of it is the two of them travelling together. Having characters such as Olaf, Theo and M in the story would probably make it a little more interesting! 

 I felt like this book was an improvement on the first two, and although I did have a few issues with it I enjoyed it. As the threat of the jinn is still far from over, I’m looking forward to the next book and seeing if the threat to Theo’s existence can be stopped once and for all.

A Casino for Gods is now available to purchase! 

Friday, 19 March 2021

Review on Morgana Mage in the Robotic Age


Morgana’s magic doesn’t seem to work like everyone elses. In fact, Morgana’s magic doesn’t seem to work at all! Unsatisfied with her life in the woods, she decides she wants to explore the city, where technology is extremely advanced and robots roam the streets. However the city people hate witches and magic, and when Morgana starts school in the city, she is immediately shunned. Things go from bad to worse when Morgana discovers a secret that could threaten not only the city, but her family too. Morgana will need to use both magic and technology if she is defeat this most deadly of foes.

I entered this year in a bit of a reading slump so I’m really happy the first book I read this year was so good! I want to rant about everything I loved about this book, but I’m going to start with the plot which I thought was really unique! Usually, we come across books where technology doesn’t work around magic, so I found it really interesting that magic and technology were combined. When we think about having magic powers, we assume that everything can be achieved through magic, making technology obsolete, but what if the two could actually complement each other instead? I loved this approach and as someone who loves both fantasy and Sci-Fi, I loved how the two genres were cleverly combined.

 The book follows eleven year old Morgana Mage, a witch who hasn’t found her niche yet. The witches reminded me of the benders in Avatar, as their spell casting revolved around the elements, and every witch and warlock was expected to master one before moving onto the others. I don’t want to compare it to Avatar too much, but Morgana really reminded me of the Earth bender Toph, as like Toph she seemed to be the only person with the ability to manipulate metal. I loved that Morgana’s ability was unique, and although she couldn’t do what everyone else could, she was able to do something they couldn’t. I loved how it showed we don’t have to be good at everything, and it’s ok to manifest our talents in different ways to others.

 I wasn’t really attached to the characters, but I did love Morgana’s best friend Jonathan. Even though everyone shunned Morgana for being different, Jonathan was quick to befriend her and help her get started at her new school. I found it sad that none of the teachers were willing to help her, as it really shouldn’t have been up to Jonathan to provide Morgana with school supplies. For the majority of the book there isn’t really an adult Morgana feels she can turn to and rely on, and although I did love Jonathan’s role, I don’t think that every adult being against Morgana was a great message to give to readers. I think it’s important for children to have an adult they can trust, so I didn’t really like that Morgana didn’t seem to have that.

 I loved the idea of Morgana’s magic being able to change the robots. “What if robots were sentient beings” is a plot in a lot of Sci-Fi, but I loved how this question was approached a little differently in this book. We have a typical robot uprising which wasn’t all that unique, but what I loved about this was Proto, the robot Morgana and Jonathan built together. Proto somehow managed to go against his programming to help Morgana and her friends despite knowing what it will cost him. I loved how Morgana’s magic made the robots seem more human, and how they had their own thoughts and feelings. 

 I loved this book overall and thought it was really interesting and unique! The combination of magic and technology was brilliant and I loved the positive messages, especially the message that it’s ok to be different. Kids could worry that they’re not as good at certain things as their friends are, so I loved how it showed we don’t all have to be good at the same things, and often we’ll find something we enjoy that others find strange. Even book blogging seems strange to my family but it’s comforting knowing there’s a bunch of other people who enjoy doing the same thing! I would definitely recommend this book to fans of fantasy and Sci-Fi a there really is a bit of everything.

Morgana Mage in the Robotic Age is now available to purchase! 

Friday, 12 February 2021

Blog Tour- Space Detectives



Today is my stop on the blog tour for Space Detectives by Mark Powers. This is a brilliant middle-grade novel that follows best friends Ethan and Connor, who are trying to stop the space station they are on from crashing into the moon! For my stop, I thought I’d share my opinions on the book.

 Something I loved about this book was how easy it was to read. I’m usually pretty easily distracted, so I was surprised I managed to read the whole book in one sitting. The font and spacing made it super easy to read and I loved how the font changed to indicate sound effects or signs. I loved the illustrations and thought they really helped to tell the story and give a visual for all the different weird and wonderful aliens. I particularly adored when the pages became black when the boys got thrown out into space, as it really helped with the visualization of floating through space. 

The plot was fast paced and interesting, but it was also simple and easy to follow, which I thought was perfect for the age range it’s aimed at. Despite seeming like a Sci-Fi story, there was also a mystery element when the boys discover that the space station hurtling towards the moon is no accident, and someone had actually sent it on this course on purpose. I loved how we had a list of suspects that were slowly narrowed down. It wasn’t obvious who was behind it all at first, so I loved how we went on an adventure with the boys to learn who the real culprit was. I honestly had no idea who was behind it all until right before everything was revealed!

 The characters in the book were interesting and I especially loved all the different aliens! The tufted grotsnobbler was probably my favourite, a huge purple creature wearing a cowboy hat. I also loved the snarltoothed grizloid, an enormous furry dragon-like creature who could breathe fire. I adored the silly names of these creatures and they reminded me a little of what you would find in a Roald Dahl book. 

 I did feel as if the book could have been a little more educational, as although I loved the sillyness, I felt that it could have thrown in some facts about space instead of having everything completely fictional. The book seemed to be aimed at the younger age range of middle grade, so I thought it was a missed opportunity to have a few fun facts thrown in.

 Overall this was a fun and quick read that I really enjoyed! As this seems to be the first book in a series I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures Connor and Ethan have in the future. I think this is the perfect story for children who are just starting to read chapter books.

Space Detectives is now available to purchase! 

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Blog Tour- Morgana Mage in the Robotic Age


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Morgana Mage in the Robotic Age by Amy Bond! The book is about a young witch named Morgana who after visiting the city with her father discovers a fantastic new world full of technology and robots. The book perfectly combines magic and robots, something that I've honestly never seen done before. I'll be posting a full review on the book in a few days but today I have a guest post from Amy herself!

Story behind the Photo

  There is moment in my book, Morgana Mage in the Robotic Age, when Morgana finally gets to visit the city she has been gazing down on from her woodland home. She is excited to be in this place she has been dreaming of for so long, but is also overwhelmed by the people, the strangeness, and the chaos of the city. I think I probably drew on my experiences of visiting London when writing these scenes.

 I live in the centre of Dublin city but, while technically a city, Dublin feels like a town. This is always most obvious when you find yourself in another metropolis. For me it is usually packed into the crowded Tube, trying not to take up too much space with your carry-on from the plane, and internally screaming the whole time, “I AM ON A TRAIN UNDER THE GROUND!” Morgana’s friend Jonathan tells her of the importance of not taking technology for granted. I know I would probably feel differently if I had to use it for my daily commute, but the Underground seems astounding to me.

 The trip where this photo was taken was an even more exciting one, even beyond the use of public transport. Not only was I in the big city, but like many before me I was here to follow my dream. I had made the shortlist of the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. This could mean that I might really get my book published. I tried to keep the nerves at bay the day before by exploring some of the sights, but as I wandered the British Library and British Museum, even the wonders they held couldn’t quite distract from the bubbling anticipation in my brain. It flowed over completely when it was announced that Chris Riddell was part of the judging panel. 

 I gave myself about an hour and a half more than necessary to get to the announcement the next day, so had to wander around trying to kill time that just refused to die. Eventually it was a reasonable hour to arrive. The minute I stepped in, time seemed to speed up again and everything becomes a bit of a blur. Of course, some stupid bits of conversation from myself will never be forgotten, but also some very kind words from people I hugely admire. Seeing the same nervous excitement reflected back from the other finalists was a great comfort. 

 Then came the announcement, and I didn’t win. That honour went to the wonderful Trudi Tweedie (looking fab in blue) and her gorgeous book The Pure Heart. I thought I would feel more disappointed, I was worried about how I would arrange my face, but how can you feel anything but pure joy when Chris Riddell is sketching out a cover for your book, which I am clutching very proudly in the photo. 

 I think why I am really beaming so broadly in that picture though, is because while I might not have left with the publishing deal I had been hoping for, I did have a new confidence in what I was capable of as a writer, and knew I was going to keep chasing that dream.

Morgana Mage in the Robotic Age is now available to purchase! 

Follow Amy on twitter! @amylouisebond

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Top 5 Books of 2020


So I used to do this as a YouTube video, but seeing as I have yet to revive my YouTube channel (I do have a plan for that!) I thought I would do it as a blog post instead. I only read 27 books last year, but it was still enough to find some all-time favourites! I honestly wish I could give a paragraph to every book I read last year, but I will have to be content with 5.

5: Frozen Charlotte

I read this book around Halloween and it was super creepy! I’ve always found dolls to be creepy, so this book was perfect to read at Halloween. As I don’t usually enjoy horror stories I didn’t think I’d like it much, but it was interesting and fast-paced so I got through it pretty quickly! I won’t go into details on what it’s about as I have yet to post my full review, but I’m definitely glad I decided tor read something outside my comfort zone as I really enjoyed it!

 4: Rick

Rick follows a boy who is confused about his sexuality and ends up identifying as asexual. This book had so many important messages and helped explain different sexualities and genders in an easy to understand way. I think this would be a great book for kids to read when they’re just coming to understand sexuality and gender. 

3: Who Let the God's Out?

This one is a bit of a cheat as Who Let the God’s Out? Is the first book in a series! I started the series at the start of 2020, so I think it must have been pretty special for me to still remember it by the end of the year! I adore Greek Mythology, and this middle grade series is packed with Greek God’s. adventures and friendship. I loved how funny it was and how despite the silly plot, it was able to cover some important themes such as broken families and grief. Really I wish I had started it a little later in the year as it was a great form of escapism.

2: Life of Riley: Beginner's Luck

This one is a middle grade book by one of my all time favourite authors, Simon James Green. Simon’s books never fail to make me laugh and this one was no exception! This is Simon’s first middle grade book and follows Riley, a ten year old who is convinced he is cursed. This was such a funny and light hearted read. As we’re all going through a tough time right now, it’s perfect for escaping our problems for a little while. I loved the themes of friendship and the uplifting message of having better days ahead of us. As it’s so easy to assume the worst and think we have nothing to look forward to right now, I think it’s a message that we all need to hear!  

1: Howl's Moving Castle

This one probably comes as no surprise for those who know me. I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, so it’s no surprise that I adored this book! I have a whole post scheduled for Howl that will be up soon so I won’t talk about this book too much here, but I loved it just as much as the movie. I adored book Howl, and particularly loved that he was originally from Wales. He was so dramatic along with being extremely charismatic and charming. Really though can Howl please be my boyfriend? As the book was sitting on my shelf gathering dust for years I’m so glad that I finally picked it up!

 Even though they didn’t quite make it into my top five, I just want to mention An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann and Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race. These were all fantastic books that I definitely recommend. Let me know what some of your favourite books were in 2020 and who knows, maybe they’ll end up in favourites for this year. Happy New Year and have a wonderful 2021 full of books!