Summertime Madness Book Tag

Quite unexpectedly, I got tagged for this challenge by Amanda N. Butler.

Anyone who knows me will know I am not actually a Summer type of person. Give me rain, Autumn leaves, snow and Winter’s cool embrace! That’s when I am at my happiest! But for now, let’s see how I get on with this challenge:

Show a book with a summery cover.

Have to go with Bloodlust by Alex Duval, the first book in the Vampire Beach series. When Jason Freeman’s family moves to the exclusive DeVere Heights area of Malibu, he finds himself surrounded by the most beautiful people he has ever seen but is there more them than meets the eye? I think this might have been the first teen book I read in high school, during the Twilight/vampire craze and made for a nice change.

Pick a fictional place that would be the perfect destination for a summer holiday.

This has taken some thinking about but I think the place I would go bizarrely is Lockwood & Co.’s haunted Britain. I know it’s not a destination but I would love to explore it and discover what is happening outside of London. We get some idea what is going outside of London during the first book when Lucy talks about her road to joining Lockwood and George.

 

You’re about to go on a flight for your summer holidays but you want to read a book that lasts the whole flight. What novella do you choose?

Probably Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones. This is not exactly a story as such as every story told and all the information, compressed into one person’s 24 hour shift, are all true we are told and only the names of the guilty have been changed. It shines a light on the human condition when we step into a hotel of any sort and any star rating.

You have a case of summertime sadness – what book do you pick to shine a smile on your face?

Had a hard time deciding this one as I have a few books that make me laugh but the one that is always at hand it seems is Texts From Dog by October Jones. Inspired by the Tumblr blog, this book compiles the best-loved “texts” from dog, contemplating everything from bath time to the relationship man and man’s best friend.

You’re sitting at the beach all alone…which fictional character would be your beach babe?

This was a tough one but I think I would go with Henry Fitzroy, the bastard son of King Henry VII, from Tanya Huff’s Vicki Nelson series. Blood Price details one of Vicki’s PI cases where she is investigating a series of murders and comes across Henry, who is investigating to try to protect his vampire secret. Of course that would mean the beach at night but if he appears in the form Kyle Schmid, who played him in the Blood Ties TV adaptation, that’s fine by me!

To match your ice cream, you want an icy cool sidekick! Which fictional sidekick do you pick?

Out of two demon possibilities, I think I would go with Sebastian, Lord Phantomhive’s one Hell of a Butler from the Black Butler series. Tied by contract to little Earl Ciel Phantomhive, the Queen’s Guard Dog, Sebastian is out to help Ciel find the people who killed his parents, burnt down his home and hurt him. Once Ciel has his revenge, Sebastian will devour his soul.

The other demon I considered was Eclipse from Demon Diary.

And I am tagging Legends of Windemere’s Charles YallowitzTales From Baggins Bottom’s Diane Wordsworth and MyLittleBookBlog’s Lizzy Baldwin. Hope you guys don’t mind.

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Black Butler (2014)

Want to see so much!

Playback Reviews

Black Butler filmLength: 119 min

Release date: 18 January 2014

Synopsis: An orphaned aristocrat summons a demonic butler to aid her, at the price of her soul.

Genre: Action / Crime / Drama

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: Kentarô Ohtani / Kei’ichi Sato

Writer: Yana Toboso (manga) 

Starring: Hiro Mizushima / Ayame Gôriki / Yûka

MPA-Rating: 15

Black Butler (also known in Japanese as Kuroshitsuji) began life as a manga that debuted in 2006. Published by Yen Press for the English market, it is written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. It’s currently ongoing and has twenty-one published volumes so far.

The original manga of Black Butler (and later its popular anime counterpart) is set in VictoriaBlack Butler mngan London. It tells the story of a thirteen year old orphan, Ciel Phantomhive, as he strives to lead household, and solves crimes as the Queen’s Watchdog. He is accompanied by a “one hell of a butler”…

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Book Review: Chosen by Benedict Jacka

Yes! I have finally finished reading it! Sorry for the delay!

Alex Verus is back. He’s been having a peaceful time following his last adventure but that is broken when he finds himself being hunted by a group of Adepts. Their leader wants revenge on Alex for something that happened in his past when he was apprenticed to his dark master, Richard. He is also helping a Council Keeper (magical police officer if you will) who is following up rumours that Richard has returned. Forced to face up and delve into his past to solve both problems, Alex finds himself questioning his path in life and where his path will lead in the future.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is written with the same humour and style as previous books but features a much darker story and darker, more adult themes. Even so, it was fascinating exploring Alex’s background, revealing more and new information about how things had been during his apprenticeship and particularly seeing how his fellow apprentices ended up joining up with Richard and their lives before their apprenticeships. It also allowed the reader to sympathise and maybe starting to like a character who might not have before deserved sympathy.

It was also enjoyable to see the darker side of the Alex character and seeing how dark he could be. It also leaves the reader stepping back and wondering just how cold and how vicious Verus could possibly get. The colder side of him was very enjoyable and I loved reading that side of him. I would like to see that side perhaps come out a bit more and certainly leaves me wanting to read more of his adventures. Maybe it’s because I don’t usually come across such dark characters and they are so unusual in modern fiction. Alex is an anti-hero and that’s what makes the character so fascinating I think. Or maybe I need to start reading wider.

The end of the book leaves the reader on a cliffhanger, unlike the other books which had most of their narratives all tied up neatly at the end and creating a nice ending. Maybe this is indicative that Jacka and his publishers have gained confidence in the series, allowing him to have the cliffhanger ending, trusting that there is a big enough and loyal enough fan base to sustain this fantastic series. There is potential after all that this series could be the one that older Skulduggery Pleasant fans will move to reading, after the ending of that series next year.

The only criticism I really have is that the last chapter seems to be acting as a somewhat drawn out epilogue. It is certainly required and there is nothing wrong with the chapter. I just think I might be being a little picky.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I think it might just be my favourite of the series. The darker, more adult story in this one is very well written, shocking and fascinating in equal measure. The character got darker and asked what happens when your past comes back to haunt and kill you. I really would recommend this book to people looking for an adult fantasy series to enjoy and to the older (16+) Skulduggery Pleasant fans.

 

Talking about…Stuff…

Okay guys, sorry for the lack of posts. I have had very little to post about, especially as most of this week I have just been resting my knee. This post really is exactly what the title states it is: just me talking about…stuff!

So what stuff do I have to talk about?

Well, I have learnt from the doctor this week that I have torn a ligament when I dislocated my knee. Very normal apparently with this type of injury and the doctor has said that I have to rest my knee for the next two weeks and they will take it from there, depending on how it is healing.

He has also told me that I have to take my splint off on a night. Yeah… I woke up yesterday and bent my knee fully without thinking. OW! That was agony and, as daft as it sounds, the pain made me nauseous. So now, I make sure I am fully awake to tell myself, internally and out loud, don’t bend your knee. Go slow! Thank God for the splint during the day and pain killers on a night to ease the pain from any stiffness that develops. I can move about pretty well though on crutches so gaining some of my independence back.

The fact that I have to rest my knee for the next two weeks though is annoying for me as this leaves me unable to attend Wakefield Lit Fest, which takes place between the 21st and 30th of this month (read as: very, very, VERY annoyed). I am not one for staying inside all day, every day. The most I can do is one or two days inside but then I HAVE to get out of the house, even if it’s just a walk up to my local library branch and supermarket so being unable to go outside at all means I am getting cabin fever.

I am determined though to make it  to my graduation. I will attend that, one way or another, no matter what! And who knows, I might even do November NaNoWriMo, depending on how things go and how well my knee ends up healing. Heck, it’s better than me sat being bored out of my skull right?

Creativity cheers me up and distracts me when things aren’t good. It’s my outlet for a lot of things. I will discuss this further in an article I am planning and I am aiming to at least start researching for very soon.

It isn’t all bad though being stuck inside, or at least, that’s what I am telling myself.

I have FINALLY finished Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy this week and a review of that IS in the pipe line! Why it has taken me so long to finish it will become clear when I post the review. (Unsure whether it will be a good or bad review yet I do not know). Whether or not it will be up this weekend or another day depends on how lazy and/or distracted I get. I do have a copy of Chosen by Benedict Jacka on its way too (i.e. waiting for someone to go and pick the book up for me from my local Waterstones) so I will be reading that as soon as I possibly can once I receive it.

The twelfth book in the Ranger’s Apprentice Series, The Royal Ranger, by John Flanagan is due out early next month, 3rd October, the second Texts From Dog book by October Jones is due out 24th October and on October 29th, Black Butler Volume 15 is due out too.

Yes, I know, I still haven’t reviewed volume 14 just yet so I may, MAY end up reviewing both volumes at the same time. So, yes, reviews ARE coming! I am just being a bit lazy with them. I will admit so I do whole heatedly apologise to people who come to this blog for reviews.

Since I have all this time resting ahead of me, I am also going to try to get down to editing and rewriting my novel. I am aiming to double its current word count and length so it is actually novel length. This will mean I will have to restructure the story but I do have a lot of material and story that was taken out of previous drafts for various reasons and some of it is still relevant, even if it does need editing ever so slightly to fit the newer versions of the story. So hopefully the story will be improved and character development increased with the addition of words and events.

If nothing else, it might cheer me up that I can’t get outside and attend the lit fest.

What is DEFINITELY cheering me up at the moment though is that 1) I am watching How To Train Your Dragon as I type this post, even if it every so slightly, and 2) Defenders of Berk starts on September 19th! I might be in the UK but I will be looking around for information and maybe even a way to watch the episodes online, like I did with the previous series. (In case no one knows, I LOVE the HTTYD franchise!) I cannot WAIT for next year for when the next HTTYD film is released! I am loving what Dreamworks has already revealed to us and cannot wait to see what other amazing stuff they are going to give us!

So yeah, this is just me chatting about stuff, what I am HOPING to get done (whether I do any of the stuff mentioned above is a different matter altogether!) and getting excited about How To Train Your Dragon and stuff to cheer myself up.

Sorry. I know I have rambled but it has cheered me up a lot doing this post and I thank you if you have got this far and have read at least some of this post!

 

Elementals Writing Challenge

Okay, I am working on The Lone Ranger and Black Butler reviews, plus the articles but I am also applying for jobs so please bare with me. For now though, I will leave this elemental Writing Challenge for you all to get your creative juices flowing this fine Monday:

1. Fire
2. Earth
3. Air
4. Water
5. Electricity
6. Light
7. Poison
8. Darkness
9. Bubbles
10. Ghost
11. Blood
12. Hearts
13. Sand
14. Time
15. Space

Two good friends of mine over on deviantArt, Unspecified-Reasons and Cryogenic-Sean, have both blogged about and tipped me off to it and I am working my way through them. All the resulting flash fictions are going to be posted on my deviantART page (which should be linked in my “About Me” section).

Now, to figure out what to write for 3. Air…

Sorry!

Okay, I just wanted to post quickly and apologise for the lack of posts lately. A mix of real life issues to deal with (including starting my voluntary job) plus having been waiting for books and films to come out for me to read, watch and review has meant that I have not had anything to really post about it.

Hopefully, I will be getting back up and running this week as I have The Lone Ranger and Black Butler Volume 14 to review plus I am also working on some concepts for a couple of articles on writing fantasy and what inspires and keeps writers writing. I’m doing bits of research and working on those articles as I am not fully clear myself on what exactly I am going to do with those topics for the articles. I just know the basics. I won’t be posting both of those reviews and articles this week. Instead, I am aiming to post them over this week and next.

I am also working on developing some other ideas for articles whilst waiting for Last Stand of Dead Men, the 8th Skulduggery Pleasant book, by Derek Landy and the 4th Alex Verus book, Chosen, by Benedict Jacka to come out. As soon as I can get my hands on them and read them, I will be posting reviews up here.

So again, sorry for not posting much lately. I will be aiming to begin posting again this week (in theory) and I thank you all for being patient with me.

 

Book Review: Black Butler Vol. XIII by Yana Toboso

 The 13th volume of Black Butler seems to suffer from the bad luck of being number 13.

It picks up indirectly from the end of volume 12, where Elizabeth revealed she was deadly proficient at fencing. At the start of this one, Toboso has a flashback where the reader learns about how Elizabeth became so good at fencing and also of her vow to protect Ciel. This is interesting and reveals some of the concepts and expectations of ladies in Polite Society in Victorian London. The reader is then taken back to the story at hand and, after talking with the grim reapers and seeing to Elizabeth being safely put aboard a lifeboat, Ciel and Sebastian rushes off to finish investigating what is going on. However, there’s a surprise when the Undertaker appears and proceeds to reveal some very interesting things about himself…

There’s a lot of  exposition and some surprises about some previously much loved characters (for those who may not have watched the anime) however the pacing is not brilliant due to this exposition I think and seems to slow it down a little, something I have noticed in previous volumes. This is not to say that it lasts for very long and the action picks up again very quickly with a fight between Sebastian and the grim reapers for the Undertaker. Just as that starts, the last chapter suddenly breaks off from that to focus on the story between Ciel and Sebastian and how they met.

The last chapter is very interesting but it makes for a very difficult book to follow as it seems to jump around the timeline, have slow exposition and a lot of information being conveyed in very few pages. Whilst I understand that Toboso has a limited number of pages per a chapter per a volume, I think she could have let the story breathe a little and let it take its time.

At the end, Toboso also writes an authors note then a little comic about how she met her editor, her talks with her editor and also the learning process she underwent about the layout of comic books, stories and how to draw them (including an anecdote on discovering that she had been using a pen incorrectly). Might sound boring but I was amused by it and it was fun to read.

It is to this end that I say that I might need to re-read and redo this review as it might be one of those volumes that needs to be re-read in order to be able to fully understand the story (it happens sometimes with me). It is fun but maybe the structuring needs a little reconsideration but the story is sound, the new information is fun to discover, especially if they concern character motivations behind  certain actions, and continues to make this ongoing series a joy to read. Bring on volume 14!