Friday, 17 March 2017

MINI WATERSTONES BOOK HAUL

Back in February, for Valentine's Day, my boyfriend bought me a Waterstones gift card. We'd agreed no presents (which I stuck to apart from a large bag of Magic Stars, oops), and I was feeling a bit emotional, and he just knows me so well that I let out a huge sob. Anyway, I thought I'd share the books that I bought with the gift card! It seems that I had a bit of a thing for red books this month...
After finishing The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon in February (check out my wrap up here), I just had to get my hands on The Mime Order, the second book in the series. I ordered the book online, and with choosing First Class delivery it arrived the next morning! I was super impressed. It did cost more than had I ordered it on Amazon, but I've been finding out more about how Amazon really aren't that cool recently, so I'm going to try and shop more in bookstores where I can. 

This weekend I visited one of my local Waterstones stores and spent a good while browsing the store. My boyfriend George waited patiently as I scoured each shelf, even rearranging some of the books, and dutifully "uhmmed" and "ahhhed" as I pointed out various books and authors. The second book I bought was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. So I haven't read any of Laini's books, but I've heard such great things about her books, this in particular, that when I saw it on the shelf I couldn't resist (I do also have Strange The Dreamer on pre-order).

The last book I bought from Waterstones is A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, the third in the Shades of Magic trilogy. Funny story, I haven't actually read the first two in the series... BUT, I do have the e-books on Kindle, and after reading all the rave reviews of the series I think I'm kind of guaranteed to love it, so I couldn't leave ACOL in the store! 

Also, major bonus surprise at the till. Both books were included in a offer so they ended up costing less than anticipated! It's the little things, hey? I've already read both The Mime Order and Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I'll be including those in my wrap up at the end of the month!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

SAMANTHA SHANNON BOOK SIGNING: THE SONG RISING

Earlier this week, on Wednesday night, I made my way to my local Waterstones on Deansgate in Manchester, for a very exciting event: a book signing for The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon! I attended one for Caraval by Stephanie Garber a few weeks back (which you can read about here) so I was very much looking forward to this as I knew how awesome these signings were! I started reading The Bone Season series last month, and it very quickly made it's way up my favourite book series list. I was about 50% of the way through The Song Rising the day of the event, which was only a day after the book was released, so that's testament to how much I was enjoying it.
Samantha's discussion was both insightful and inspiring; I loved learning about the history of her writing, how she developed ideas for the series and even a couple of personal things. 

I really like the fact that she draws on a lot of real world issues and events, and these influence her writing. For example, the way that the Salem Witch Trials were conducted and the idea of "unnaturalness", with those that are "different" being persecuted. 

While The Bone Season series could be considered dystopian, the fact that the world is actually quite progressive is quite contradictory. For example, Samantha clearly explained that there is no sexism or homophobia in her books. Her characters see people as just that, people. Not man, woman, gay, straight or bisexual for example. For a world that is so damaging in some ways, is actually more developed than ours in others. The idea of mass hysteria interests Samantha too, which is clearly reflected in the way that certain groups react within The Bone Season series, and again is quite prevalent to today's society.

Samantha began writing in her teens, around the age of 12 or 13, and started to write her first novel, Aurora at 15 (Samantha described this as Twilight with aliens)! While this story wasn't picked up by an agent, Warden was actually created first for this story and then adapted for The Bone Season. Apparently Warden was quite dark and brooding in Aurora, with the story revolving a lot around the "swooning" between him and his human lover. 

Speaking of which, Paige and Warden's relationship was somewhat inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast, particularly how the Beast never really tells Belle what's really going on, when actually by doing that he'd have made things much simpler! Samantha also said that she drew inspiration from V for Vendetta (one of her favourite films) and the character of Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre.

While Aurora was unfortunately rejected, Samantha did receive feedback from one agent, and it was on her trip to this agency that she came across the area of Seven Dials for the first time. The New Age shops in the area helped Samantha to develop the idea of a secret society of clairvoyants in a not-too-distant future London, and so began The Bone Season.

I also found out that the film rights for The Bone Season have also been bought by The Imaginarium Studios, which is ran by actor Andy Serkis. I'm so so so excited for this, but I really do hope that they do the books justice!
I had such a great time at this event, and even got to have a chat with Samantha while she signed the books I had brought with me. It's such a pleasure to meet the authors of my favourite books, and so I encourage anybody that's thinking about going to a signing to just do it! You won't regret it. Keep up with any events at your local Waterstones here*. 



*Not sponsored or paid for, I just love bookish events!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

REVIEW: THE ROANOKE GIRLS BY AMY ENGEL

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel is a book that I'd seen a lot of buzz about on social media, and so when the opportunity arose for me to be sent a proof copy (thank you Hodder Books!), you better believe I said yes.

From the cover:


Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there's a dark truth about them which is never spoken. 

Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents' estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing - and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?


Thoughts:

First, of all, wow. This book had me gripped from the beginning; I read 30 pages the first day and the only reason I stopped was because I had to go out. The day after (yesterday as I'm writing this), I found myself saying "just 10 more minutes of reading"... until I'd finished the entire thing.

This book deals with some pretty dark and heavy themes, and certainly could include triggers for some people so I would recommend maybe reading a few reviews online which go into this further. as I don't want to reveal the main theme of the book here.

I really can't go into the actual story much without giving away huge spoilers, but I can say that the main themes are pretty easy to work out early on in the book (pretty much spelled out for you in the first quarter of the book), while the main "whodunnit" totally shocked me. This is testament to how well written and full of suspense The Roanoke Girls is; usually I'd be attempting to pick holes in the story line while trying to figure out who did what, but this time I was far too engrossed to even bother. There were parts of this book where I felt uncomfortable and disgusted, but my main feeling was sorrow. The Roanoke Girls seem to have it all, but at what price? 

The Roanoke Girls covers two periods in our protagonist Lane's life. Written in first person, we start with Lane at 16 years old when she first visits Roanoke, and discover the awful events that unfold the summer that she stays there, and eleven years later when Lane returns to help find her missing cousin Allegra. The book is also peppered with snippets from the other Roanoke girl's stories, which only added to the overall feeling of unease.

Lane sometimes confused me; don't get me wrong, I really liked her but in some parts of the story I found her actions very out of character, as if they'd been slotted in to help fuel the story with no thought as to how it would tie in with how we have previously seen her act. Despite this, I still loved how the characters were written. They all just worked. Even though some of the characters were truly terrible, they seemed completely three dimensional, and I felt as though I could picture them in every single scene.

I put this book down after finishing it feeling quite odd; had I really just enjoyed a book about something so evil? I had, but this book definitely isn't for everyone. If you like dark, deep and twisted stories about dysfunctional (to say the least!) families, then I would highly recommend The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel, released today.