Saturday, 3 October 2015

UKMG Extravaganza - Allan Boroughs

Today we're back on the #UKMG Extravaganza Bog Tour and welcome to the blog MG author Allan Boroughsauthor of the bloodpumping Ironheart and Bloodstone, the kind of books that I devoured when I was 10 (and well still do!). When myself and Allan were talking about what we wanted to do for this post Allan was telling me a lot about his research and how he wanted to go to the places he was writing about, not just to get the information on it, which he could get from books or the internet, but to see how the place it smelt (amazing!) so we decided that we wanted to do something a little different and so I present to you...The Sensory Journey 


The Sensory Journey

The need for adventure:

 I write adventures – old school, fast paced, crammed with danger, precipices, guns, mad villains, big machines, androids, aliens, sea-monsters, lost cities and above all exotic locations.

 I write stories that remind me of the classics I used to read as a child from the Lost World, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Tarzan and The Call of the Wild.  Stories inspired by the great Victorian and Edwardian adventurers like Scott, Shackleton and the marvellously named Perceval Harrison Fawcett (try saying that three times in a row)

When I started to write adventure – I was determined I would start by having an adventure of my own – something bit, scary and just a little bit dangerous that would make me feel different when it was done.

 I talk to schools about adventure and I always ask them if they can remember having to do something that made them really nervous – going to camp on their own for the first time, a zip line, a summer spent with children they didn’t know.  Then I ask them if they did the thing they were scared of and unexpectedly had the most wonderful time.   I tell them this is the essence of adventure – most of them get it straight away.

Apart from the joy of travel one of the principal reasons for my journeying has been to research my novels.  For me, the key to a successful adventure story is to give the reader a sense of being ‘on the journey’ and to achieve that, first-hand experience is the most essential tool I have.  For my first novel, IRONHEART, my research took me to Siberia, Mongolia and China; for the sequel I went to the Antarctic and for the third in the series I plan to go to Venezuela.

 But for me there is more to research than simply collecting and regurgitating facts.  After all I
can easily find out more facts about Siberia in an hour on Wikipedia than in a month spent travelling there. What first-hand research does give me however is a much deeper sense of place that is grounded in all the senses.  No Google search can ever convey what it feels like to breathe the gin-clear air of the Antarctic, how a Siberian meat market smells or what fermented mare’s milk actually tastes like (yoghurt and cat pee in case you were wondering).

This is the true value of travel for a writer.  No amount of desk research will ever fully convey what your eyes, ears, nose and tongue can tell you and this will do more to colour your work than any stack of dry facts.

So as a summary of my journeys in Siberia, Mongolia, China and Antarctica here are my top sensory memories


1. The unexpected sight of an entire village of native Siberians racing BMWs around a frozen lake.  “How long can they do that for before the ice melts?” I asked my guide.“They do it until one of them falls through – then they stop” was the reply.

2. 6.00 am on my own on the deck of an icebreaker in the southern ocean; a great snorting blast as a humpback surfaces right beside me.  He arches through the water, back as broad as a road, spine like a cable before raising his flukes and disappearing into the depths.  I was the only person on deck at the time.


3. The noise of the glaciers.  Groaning and creaking like ship’s timbers.  Cracking and splitting with a noise like the gods in battle.  The sounds of nature in the wilderness will dwarf everything you have ever heard.

4. The sound of the lady furnace stoker, shovelling coal in the rear coach of the Manchurian express.


5. Penguins in the southern ocean come ashore to breed for three months of the year, colonies of 10,000 or more.  After they have spent a quarter of a year on the ice, the glacier is stained pink with guano and smells in a way that only half-digested mountain of fishy poop can smell.  You can smell a penguin colony from several miles away.

6. The smell of the burner being stoked at 4am by my Mongolian tent attendant (strangely he always wore a bulletproof vest to do this).  It may be minus thirtyoutside on the plain but the smoky-carbon smell and the soft crackle of flame is the definition of warmth.


7. A meal of fried scorpions, crispy and creamy, and deep fried ice-cream – the best tasting conundrum in the world.


8. Shaking hands with a Mongolian horse master, a man who had spent forty years raising thoroughbreds on the harsh plains.  His hand was soft and warm, like a worn leather glove.  I still carry his smile with me.Travel well.

IRONHEART is set in Siberia and was published in January 2014 by Macmillan

Bloodstone is set in Antarctica and was published in January 2015

Check out all the stops on the UKMG tour and grab your tickets whilst they're still available :P

read more "UKMG Extravaganza - Allan Boroughs "

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Fans of the Impossible Life by Katie Scelsa

Title: Fans of the Impossible Life
Author: Katie Scelsa
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: September 8th 2015

Synopsis: Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.
Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.
As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

2/5 stars

This book was advertised as a bisexual love triangle, but unfortunately there was no mention of bisexuality, or an actual love triangle. That was the main reason why this book interested me, so that was a big let down.

I wanted to love this book so much, but in the end I was so frustrated with it. First off the writing style - it was told in three points of views. First person, second person and third person. This type of writing style didn't appeal to me, but it also didn't add anything to the story. I would have much preferred it in all third person, or each of the characters in 1st person.

This book deals with different types of mental illnesses and disorders including - depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol use. I felt like these issues weren't handled in such an honest way. The characters in the beginning of the story were likeable, funny, had a little more dept and personality, but by the end they were left quite dry. I was holding on to see if they would develop, but very little happened. That was something this book desperately needed. 

I'm so disappointed that I didnt connect at all with anyone, which lead me to not feel anything for the love story/friendships in this book.

I also wanted to add that there were a few scenes in particular that made me so uncomfortable to read, and rubbed me the wrong way. Additionally, the relationship these characters have with their young and "hip" teacher, which was absolutely wrong on so many levels. It could have been handled more accurately, and less unusual.

Nonetheless, this book has a ton of diversity which we don't get to see a lot in young adult contemporary. I appreciate all the author tackled in one book, but unfortunately it wasn't a story that delivered. 

read more "BOOK REVIEW: Fans of the Impossible Life by Katie Scelsa "

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Six of Crows Blog Tour + Giveaway!!!!!

Ahhhhhhhhh today is an exciting day (in an exciting week), why you ask?! Well  first an foremost the amazing Six of Crows by Leigh Bardvgo is out today and we have partnered with the fantastic Mundie Mums for the todays stop on the blog tour with our Six Tips for Surviving the Grishaverse!!!!! 

First a few words from Leigh herself (eek):

I'll never forget meeting Casey and her crew on my first trip to the UK—or the beautiful video they made. I'm so glad Dark Readers is part of the Six of Crows blog tour! I doubt I'd last very long in the Grishaverse, so I thought I'd let the members of Kaz's crew give you their pro tips on how to survive the dangerous streets of Ketterdam:
Kaz—Trust no one.
Inej—Stay balanced.
Wylan—Stay home.
Matthias—Avoid alcohol, sweets, and bad company.
Nina—Indulge in alcohol, sweets, and my company.
Jesper—Bring cash. And make sure to tip your friendly neighbourhood sharpshooter. 
I hope you have fun meeting the crew. And if you find yourself in the Barrel after dark . . . well, just don't.
Now you've founf yourself in the Grishaverse, which is book a good thing ( since your finally in your favorite book) and a bad thing...because well you've read the book and the Grishaverse isn't the most friendly of places at the best of times...but fear not, for our 6 survival tips (should) get you through and out the other side!

1. Knowledge is power - in the Grishaverse it's always wise to stay two steps ahead of the game, and it's as much about who you know as what you know. One of the best things i've learnt from Kaz is the power of knowledge, more so than money...and it will get you far. Just be careful knowledge comes at a price!! 
2. Disguise - Let's go back to a bit of old school espionage. Disguise is key and can help you out in many a sticky situation. Whether your looking to slip away in the Barrels decked up in your finest comedie Brute costume (I'm quite intrigues by the madman mask - I have a thing for masks like this - arr diverging)...or [not going to finish this sentence due to spoilers sorry!] the better the disguise the better your chances of survival and actually getting the job done!
3. Always take precautions - You have your plans...great. But have you thought of all the possible angles? What if something goes wrong? Always in the Grishaverse expect the unexpected and PLAN FOR IT! It's always better to be prepared for every situation
4. Hope - This was something I learnt from Matthais, and maybe Hope is the wrong word, but that strong will determination, fighting for something specific, to achieve something that kept him going and pushed him on, and that's important when the world is battering down on you. You can't give in. You can't let it win, and he doesn't he fights and this sprung from this 'hope' that kept him going  
5. If you can have a Grisha on your side - This is obviously much easier said than done, but as we see can be a big help. Never underestimate he power of a Grisha, and use them wisely. Depending on your preference and need with depend on the type of Grisha that you'll want...but I'l stop this weird sales pitch for Grisha's and move on... 
6. Trust...I know what Kaz say's but trust is important and if you can't trust anyone the world becomes a bigger more dangerous place. I'm not saying this is a free for all open your arms to everyone...but maybe not block everyone out.

Hopefully with these tools your survive the Grishaverse and live to tell me the tale...I look forward to it! 

Don't forget to go check out Mundie Mums's survival tips and...

Did we mention there was a competition!?!?! (That I WANT TO WIN BUT ALAS CAN'T!)
From 24/9 - 29/9, bloggers in the US and UK have been paired up to share their own Six of Crows-inspired lists, such as six tips for surviving the Grishaverse, six signs you do/don't have what it takes to join Kaz's crew, and more.
Enter to win a Six of Crows prize pack full of US AND UK swag by commenting on all 12 blog posts by 11:59pm EST Friday, October 2.
Check out the full list of blogs on the tour below, go have a read and get commenting! ANNNND Leigh is also touring the UK!!!! SO check out all her stops and we'll maybe see you there!!

September 24              Topic: Six Book BFs of the Grishaverse
UK: Winged Reviews     US: Cuddlebuggery
September 25              Topic: Six Dos and Don’ts of the Grishaverse
UK: Ya Yeah Yeah           US: Bookiemoji
September 26              Topic: Six Companion Reads for Six of Crows
UK: Mugglenet                US: YA Interrobang
September 27              Topic: Six Signs You Do/Don’t Have What it Takes to Join Kaz’s                                                   Crew
UK: Jess Hearts Books   US: Reading Teen
September 28              Topic: Six Favorite Quotes from SoC
UK: Wondrous Reads     US: The Midnight Garden
September 29              Topic: Six Tips for Surviving the Grishaverse
UK: Dark Readers           US: Mundie Moms

read more "Six of Crows Blog Tour + Giveaway!!!!!"
Imagination Designs