Friday, 27 March 2015

The Magic of Harry Potter

Like many people in my generation, magic was brought into my life through the words of J. K. Rowling. Before I discovered Harry Potter, reading was not the huge part of my life that it is now. In fact, reading anything was pretty much a chore for me. I’d dread the hour-long library session in school, when I’d have to select a new book to read every few weeks. I didn’t want to read a book. I never had the desire to finish a book. Until the day I picked up Harry Potter.

Something about the wizarding world made me desperate to read my way to the end of a story for the first time. And since then, literature has changed my life. It’s changed the way I think. I often find myself wondering exactly what is was about Harry Potter that managed to connect with me in a way no other story had before. What is it about words on the page that keeps us reading late into the night?  

Hogwarts providing a home for Harry when he felt like he had nowhere else is one of the touching aspects of the story. To me, it sends out a message that there is always a place you can belong, even when it seems impossible. The entire series’ reminds us to have hope when there is none. Without even knowing it, Harry Potter and many other children’s books like it can send messages of courage and strength without us even realising, shaping the minds of our younger selves.

There’s no doubt that stories are a powerful force, and authors have the ability to get messages across through the power of the written word, and language plays a vital part in sharing literature with the world.

Harry Potter is a story that is lucky enough to have been translated beautifully into over sixty different languages. Good translation is the key to sharing stories accurately. With the millions of fans all over the world, it’s clear that the magic of Harry Potter wasn’t lost in translation. I’m willing to bet there are some stories that weren’t as lucky.

This is a prime example of why good translation is important. There are so many widely popular YA series’, such as The Hunger Games and The Mortal Instruments, that have become a global success by being translated into so many languages. Stories are no longer limited to their place of original publication, and it helps residents in countries all over the world feel like they are truly able to immerse themselves in those stories.

As a blogger, I love getting to see readers from all corners of the globe have a chance to bond over the same books. We get to learn so much from reading stories set in other parts of the world. Even though Harry Potter is fictional, and the character lives’ are highly different to our own, it still manages to share British culture with the rest if the world.

Translation helps everyone feel a part of something collectively by stopping the limitations of location. It’s why translation software is important, helping to spread information globally. It’s exciting to think that we are getting closer to living in a world which isn’t limited by language barriers, because magical stories demand to be shared with as many different people as possible.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

REVIEW: A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood

Bookish Details:
Pages: 267 (Paperback)
Publisher: 215 Ink
Release Date: September 4th 2014
Source: Received by publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Born a girl, Peyton Honeycutt meets Tara Parks in the eighth grade bathroom shortly after he gets his first period. It is the best and worst day of his life. Determined to impress Tara, Peyton sets out to win her love by mastering the drums and basketball. He takes on Tara’s small-minded mother, the bully at school, and the prejudices within his conservative hometown. In the end, Peyton must accept and stand up for who he is or lose the woman he loves.

My Review:
This story was everything I wanted it to be and more. Heart-breaking, heart-warming, and completely beautiful, I know Peyton’s journey will stay with me for a long time.

I was immediately interested in reading this book. It’s not often that I come across a story in YA that follows a transgender protagonist. I hope that in the future, it won’t be uncommon to find these stories. This book comes at such a prominent time after heart-breaking stories of real-life transgender teens have been in the media.  

A Boy Like Me follows Peyton’s journey through high school as a boy trapped inside a growing woman’s body. He is confused and frustrated by emotions he can’t explain to himself. His mother wants the perfect daughter that he will never be, and their relationship falls more and more apart as the story progresses.

The relationship between Peyton and his mother is an important one. Reading it, you can’t help but feel desperate for him to get the acceptance he deserves from her, but it’s also a good way to show that he can be stronger and overcome it.

The scenes Peyton shared with his uncle RB added some well-needed warmth to the story. He was so supportive throughout and was one of the few characters that made sure Peyton knew he was loved regardless. 

The relationship with Tara was beautifully written. This was also a new and confusing journey for her, and I loved how believable she was. She truly cared about Peyton and wanted him to be happy, and she was willing to learn how to make that happen.

The scene in which Peyton first learns about the term ‘transgender’ was both beautiful and heart-wrenching to read. It helps us to understand a little bit about what going through that sort of situation must be like, knowing that after feeling so much isolation he’s not alone and there are other people out there just like him.

What I really love about this story is how genuine it is. It doesn’t feel like the author is simply force-feeding information about transgender issues to the reader. It takes you on a boy’s personal journey and allows you to feel as though you are living alongside it, being a part of it and observing everything. It gives us a glimpse into what life must be like for someone who feels they don’t belong in the clothes they’re expected to wear, someone who feels like their own reflection is a stranger. Most importantly, it teaches us to accept who we are, and not to judge others for how they see themselves.  

Royal Rating:

Sunday, 22 March 2015

INTERVIEW: Sarah Noffke

Today I'm happy to share with you an interview with Sarah Noffke, author of The Lucidites series! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your book, Awoken?
Awoken is the story of a young girl named Roya Stark, who has just discovered she’s a part of special race of humans and that her fate is tied to that of a dangerous man’s, Zhuang. Roya is a Dream Traveler, which allows her to use her dreams to go anywhere in space and time. She’s also clairvoyant. Zhuang has taken her family’s consciousness hostage and Roya knows the only way to save them, and the world at large, is to fight him. The Lucidites, a seemingly good society of Dream Travelers, swoop in and offer to assist Roya. However, upon arriving at their headquarters, she learns she hasn’t been told the whole truth. Still Roya remains reluctantly committed to the mission she must lead. And there is some hope for her, since she’ll have the aid of five talented Dream Travelers who all have their own special ability. Roya has plunged into a dynamic and dangerous new world, but what keeps her awake at night is the fact that the fate of humanity’s dreams rest of her shoulders.

Awoken is the first in The Lucidites series, in which all three books were released at the same time. What made you decide to release the whole series all at once?
I did make the conscious decision to release all three books in the series at once, and have since learned this is considered an edgy approach. The reason I did this was to cater to the reader’s needs. Releasing one book at a time stirs up a lot of media and marketing attention. But readers, from my experience, don’t want to wait. Why make them? I’m a reader and I loathe when I have to wait six months for the next book to come out. And all too often, by the time the book is released I’m off reading something else and can’t get back to it for a long time. I’m not sure that I’ll always release all my books in a series at once, but if it’s what the reader wants then I will. I serve readers, not a hungry publisher.

What inspired you to write about people who can dream travel?
I’ve always been obsessed with dreams. They’re this enigma, which seem to carry so much power. How many times have you dreamed something that came true the next day? Or dreamed about a friend and then they called out of the blue? Or had the strangest déjà vu? Dreams hold so much richness and also a ton of mystery. I have always wondered how I could use them more fully in my own life by lucid dreaming. All these fascinations of mine with dreams led to the idea of a special race who transcend time and space when asleep. And from there the rest of the story slowly unraveled.

How did you come up with the villain of the story, Zhuang?
The idea for an ancient villain came to me when I was reading about Zhuangzi, who was a Taoist philosopher. He said, “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” Once I read this I quickly latched onto the idea of a villain who was once good, but became corrupt through greed. And so Zhuang was born, but he dreamt himself as things much more threatening than a butterfly. Maybe most writer’s start with creating the hero, but in my case I started with the antagonist. From there the idea of stealing consciousness through dreams took shape and everything fell into place.

Did you relate to Roya at all, or any of the other characters whilst writing the story?
I relate to all of my characters in one way or another. Roya is in many ways a lot like me, and in other ways we’re complete opposites. She’s quiet and antisocial, which I’m not at all. She’s also very brave and a badass, and I can’t say I’ve ever been either of those. However, we both share a love for classic literature, use sarcasm way too much in conversation, and truly believe the world is innately good. Besides from Roya, I think the character I relate to the most is Aiden, or at least I highly admire him. He’s a very focused individual, who also doesn’t take himself too seriously. I love how much life he interjects into his scenes. Is it wrong that I want to be a nerdy scientist in my next life?

What made you decide to write the series for young adults?
YA is my genre of choice when reading. For young adults, nothing is fixed. For the most part they don’t know who they are, who’ll they marry, who they’ll become or where they’re life is going. All of these uncertainties make for a lot of adventure and tension. Also, young adults have a hunger for life that dissipates to a certain extent for adults. As adults, we’re bogged down by the day-to-day. Young adults have a fresher perspective. I also love interacting with my young adult audience for this reason. They are so inquisitive and passionate.

What was your favourite part of the writing process?
Falling in love with the characters. When I first start writing a book all of these characters come to me, like I’m meeting the whole gang at a party. Over weeks of outlining and brainstorming, their personalities are revealed. Then I start writing and it’s like we’ve all taken an extended holiday together. Somewhere between the first page of a novel and the last, I find that I’ve attached myself to a few different characters and in some cases, fallen madly in love with them. I’ll tell you this, when I finished the last book in The Lucidites series I cried and cried and cried. I felt like all my friends had gotten on a ship and sailed to a distant land where I would never see them again. Yes, that’s right! I have imaginary friends.

Do you have any advice for other inspiring writers out there?
Every writer has advice on this topic and it’s all worthy. It’s advice from other writers that’s made me who I am. With that being said, I don’t want to repeat what most say, but I’m going to anyway. My promise is that I’ll try to say something new too.

So most will tell an aspiring writer (and they’re correct) to read as much as possible, write every day, and read books on how to write.

Alright, now here’s my something new that I give to only you: Become intimately acquainted with the writer inside you. This is not a person the world outside will know. This is the part inside you that only you know, that tells stories inside your head, and imagines fantastic things when the normal day-to-day is going on around you. You’re the only one who knows this person and the only one who can interpret their stories. Make a habit of closing your eyes once a day and meditating with this person. In time you will be so connected to them that their words will flow from you effortlessly. Most writers I know will agree that their books do not come from them, but rather through them. This happens when you open up this channel.

And if that sounds too metaphysical for you, well then just check out Stephen King’s autobiography, On Writing. He’s a genius.

Finally, are you working on any other novels at the moment?
I’m currently writing a new trilogy. I’ve complete the first two books and hope to start the third by early spring. It another series about Dream Travelers. There’s all new characters. A new society. And it’s WAY more dystopian than The Lucidites. It’s also a lot darker and a little sexier, but still YA. The series is called The Reverians.

Thanks so much to Sarah for stopping by! You can read my review of Awoken here, and look out soon for my review of book two in The Lucidites series, Stunned. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

REVIEW: Awoken by Sarah Noffke

Bookish Details:
Series: The Lucidites #1
Pages: 312 Paperback
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six Press
Release Date: November 24th 2014
Source: Provided by author in exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Around the world humans are hallucinating after sleepless nights.

In a sterile, underground institute the forecasters keep reporting the same events.

And in the backwoods of Texas, a sixteen-year-old girl is about to be caught up in a fierce, ethereal battle.

Meet Roya Stark. She drowns every night in her dreams, spends her hours reading classic literature to avoid her family’s ridicule, and is prone to premonitions—which are becoming more frequent. And now her dreams are filled with strangers offering to reveal what she has always wanted to know: Who is she? That’s the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. But will Roya live to regret learning the truth?

My Review:
The description of this book immediately intrigued me. It follows the story of Roya Stark, who is trying to come to terms with being a dream traveler. She has been selected as part of a team who will try and rid the world of the man who is stealing people’s consciousness: Zhuang.

As much as I want to discuss every aspect of this awesome story, I’m going to keep this review spoiler free, so you can all go and discover it for yourself.

First of all, the writing throughout this book was beautifully descriptive, and it really helps the reader to understand what’s going on in Roya’s mind. I found the first couple of chapters a little hard to follow, but once Roya got to the Institute, and more was revealed about The Lucidites, I began to ease into the story.

Roya was a fantastic character who developed well throughout. I found her reactions to the situations around her realistic and relatable. And she definitely knew how to kick some ass! Everything happens quite quickly in the first few chapters, so we don’t get to see much of her life with Bob and Steve, the people who take her in after her family are corrupted by Zhuang. They seem like an interesting pair, and I’d love to find out more about them.

All of the other characters were written brilliantly. I loved Joseph from the start. He added a bit of light-hearted humour and genuine warmth to the story. I’m very interested to see how he progresses through the series.

Aiden owned my heart from the minute he was introduced. A guy wearing glasses and a Fall Out Boy t-shirt, of course I was going to love him. How could I not? I liked that he wasn’t perfect, and that he did things that go against what Roya believes in. They challenge each other, and that’s why they work so well together. I’m excited to see how their relationship changes in the future.

The only small problem I had with the story was George. I really liked getting to know more about him as the story went on, but I didn’t feel the love interest connection that sparked up between him and Roya. I think it would have felt a little more believable if it had been built up longer. I do, however, think George has wonderful potential, and I can’t wait to find out more about him. 

I’d love to find out more about Zhuang, and how he came to be the way he is. I’d also love the story to explore more of the time traveling side of the dreamscape. The fact that The Lucidites can travel to any point in time is fascinating, and I hope that’s something we get to see more of in the series.

There was a fantastic twist that happened in the second half of the book which I was really pleased about. I felt like it was needed and I can’t wait to see how that effects the characters in the next story.

This book is a prime example of why people need to be reading the work of indie authors. This story has been more way exciting and captivating than some of the widely published books I’ve read in the past. Anyone who loves a good fantasy and sci-fi story should definitely be checking this one out. 

Royal Rating:

Sunday, 1 March 2015

REVIEW: Dealing With Devils by Pembroke Sinclair

Bookish Details:
Series: The Road to Salvation #2
Publisher: Booktrope
Release Date: January 16th 2015
Source: Received by author is exchange for honest review
Buy it From: Amazon - Amazon UK

Dating a demon has its advantages, like helping deliver souls to Hell. Wait...what? 

Katie’s world has been turned upside down. She's fallen for Josh—despite the fact that he’s a demon from Hell. Wes is finally out of her system and her life. Convinced she can change Josh, she sets out to make him a better person, only to find out things aren’t as simple as she’d originally thought. For one thing, Josh has Katie help him deliver souls to Hell, and she kind of likes it. And to top it off, other more powerful demons are battling for her soul, and revelations from the past could change the course of her life forever.

My Review:
Dealing With Devils picks up where the story left off in The Appeal of Evil, and it’s straight away more engaging than the first book. It might be because I already knew the characters this time around and had a basic understanding of the story, but it was much easier to follow this time around.

Wes is now out of Katie’s life, and she’s coming to terms with her situation. As she spends more time harvesting souls with Josh, we get to see more about him and his life. I loved that we get to know Josh a little better in this book because throughout The Appeal of Evil, I couldn’t understand at all what Katie saw in him. Although I still think he and Katie needed a few more bonding scenes together, I can see why she is drawn to him now.

I felt like the plot was a lot more in-depth and exciting in this book. What I liked most was the reveal regarding Katie about two-thirds of the way into the story. I definitely perked up when I found out the truth about her, and I think that particular plot has a lot of potential that I’m excited to see explored. Bringing the myths into it really added some much needed thrill and danger to the story, because although Josh is a demon, and has taken Katie to Hell, it still didn’t have an edge-of-the-seat atmosphere to me before then.

There are still parts of the story that focus too much on Katie’s thoughts and feelings about the guys in her life, and I sometimes found myself wanting to skim over big chunks of descriptions about Katie’s ever-changing feelings towards Josh.

In my review of the first book, I mentioned that I’d really like to see Katie get an ally in the sequel, preferably a girl, because I thought she lacked a friendship and bond without romance thrown into it. I still haven’t gotten that in this second book, and I still feel like it’s needed. A lot of the people Katie meets are romantically perusing her in some way or another, and it just doesn’t feel that believable to me for some reason.

Also, poor Deb had a really hard time in this story, and I feel that she’s been overlooked once again. She has potential to be a fantastic character, but it’s just not working out so far. I’m really hoping we get to learn more about her family’s connection to Praesuls in the next book.

The ending was great, and although I was expecting the cliff-hanger that occurred, I loved reading it. I’m curious to see what Katie’s reaction will be in the next book, and how it will shake things up. 

Royal Rating:

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