Upcoming Releases: Summer 2017

In a miraculous turn of events, it’s actually been sunny here for the last few days – which is wonderful when you have the day off, but not so wonderful when you’re trapped inside all day… 😓 I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the good weather will stick around for a few more days, but if it doesn’t, then at least I’ve got some exciting new books to look forward to! Here are just a sample of the new releases I’m most eager to see in June, July & August:

[All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 27/05/2017.]

   

Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, House editions by J.K. Rowling (1st June)

It feels like Harry Potter has been a part of my life for way more than 20 years, but the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone is imminent, and to celebrate, Bloomsbury are releasing brand-new editions of the first book in all four house colours! I’m not entirely certain if I’ll be picking one of these up (my heart is saying yes, but my self-control is saying no; I’m not yet sure which will win out), but don’t they look amazing? And they’re doing paperbacks, too! You can find the full range here.
Excitement level: 10/10

Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz (1st June)

A follow-up to the Alex Rider series, in which Alex moves to San Francisco to recover from the loss of his best friend and guardian at the end of Scorpia Rising, only to come across a suspicious email that seems to indicate that she may be alive after all. A co-worker of mine mentioned to me last week that this book was a thing, and it was a huge bombshell! I never expected to have more Alex Rider in my life, but it’s a welcome surprise! 😆 Excitement level: 9/10

The Rise & Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland (15th June)

A time-travel adventure set in both 19th century London and 21st century America, and involving a group of agents who are tasked with travelling back in time in order to prevent the disappearance of magic. I’ve never read anything by Neal Stephenson before (or even heard of Nicole Galland), but I’ve heard really amazing things about his work, and this story looks like a super-fun place to start. 😊 Excitement level: 7/10

Now I Rise by Kiersten White (6th July)

The sequel to And I Darken, which retells the life of Vlad the Impaler and his brother Radu, had Vlad been born a girl – Lada – instead… And I Darken was an unexpected favourite of mine last year, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating Now I Rise ever since I finished its predecessor. It hasn’t been too long a wait, but it certainly felt like one. Excitement level: 9/10

Also out soon in paperback:

  • A Closed & Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (15th July)
    Excitement level: 8/10
  • Black Light Express by Philip Reeve (1st August)
    Excitement level: 8/10

My Life in Books

I can’t seem to find (and therefore credit) the person who created this tag, but I was tagged by The Quirky Book Nerd (who has a wonderful blog that you should all check out) – much to my delight! 😀 I’ve had my eye on this tag for a while now (it seemed super-fun), and had actually been planning on doing it soon whether I was tagged or not. It is, however, always nice to be tagged~ 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!

1) Find a book for each of your initials.

K.M. Peyton//Flambards Philip Reeve//Mortal Engines Garth Nix//Sabriel Rick Riordan//The Son of Neptune Tamora Pierce//The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

Flambards by K.M. Peyton
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Sabriel by Garth Nix
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess2) Count your age along your bookshelf – what book did you get?

I’m 26, which (discounting my shelves for study guides, comics and manga, which I usually try not to use for tags) lands me right in the middle of my miniature section of Children’s Classics, where I ended up with A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Anthony Horowitz//The Devil & His Boy3) Pick a book set in your city/county/country.

I don’t think I’ve read any books that are set in Cambridge itself, so instead I’ll go with The Devil & His Boy by Anthony Horowitz, which is at least set in England (and is also a really great book that I don’t mention much!).

Marissa Meyer//Fairest4) Pick a book to represent a place you’d like to travel to.

Can I pick the moon? I’d love to go to the moon. Fairest by Marissa Meyer. 😉

Fredrik Backman//My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises5) Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

My favourite colour is orange, which isn’t the most common colour for books… I do own a couple, though, and one of them is My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrick Backman, which has a lovely shade of orange on the spine, in particular. 🙂

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit6) What book do you have the fondest memories of?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. My love of fantasy was seeded in me early on in life – my dad used to read this book to me and my sister before bed when we were both little.

7) Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

George R.R. Martin//A Dance with DragonsProbably A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, which I carried around in my purse for several months before I finally managed to finish it (I remember it clearly: I constantly had a very sore shoulder from the weight of the book, and I also ended up mangling the dust jacket… :/ ). It wasn’t just that the book was long – I made it through the rest of the series easily enough, and they’re all super-long, too – but most of the book was taken up with either Daenerys or Jon Snow chapters, and they’re my least-favourite POV characters in the series.

David Mitchell//Cloud AtlasDavid Mitchell//The Bone Clocks8) Which book on your TBR will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment to have finished?

Either Cloud Atlas or The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. These two have been sitting on my TBR shelf for a while now, because although I like David Mitchell’s writing, I also find it quite tough to get through. So, yeah, I’ll be pretty proud when I finally manage to finish these. 🙂

9) I tag:

Cambridge Literary Festival Wrap-Up

So my brief adventure at the Cambridge Literary Festival is finally over, and I enjoyed it a lot, though I didn’t get to go to all the events that I was hoping to: the Judith Kerr talk sold out before I could get tickets, and unfortunately I couldn’t persuade anyone to go to the International Book Aid Quiz with me…

Anthony Horowitz//Point BlancMy favourite event was probably the Alex Rider 15th anniversary talk with Anthony Horowitz, and if you ever get the chance to hear him speak, then I really recommend that you do – he’s an incredibly entertaining speaker. He talked a lot about his inspiration for the books, and how he based a lot of the villains on teachers that he’d disliked at school, and the like. 🙂 Afterwards, there was a book signing, and I took along my old copy of Point Blanc, since it’s my favourite Alex Rider book. I got to have a (very) brief chat with him, too, which was a lot of fun. 😀

Sally Green//Half BadI was a little late to my second event – the YA talk with Sally Green and James Dawson – because the queue for Anthony Horowitz was so long, but luckily I didn’t miss all that much. The talk was rather like an informal interview, with a journalist chatting to the two of them about various different aspects of YA literature, and the audience chipping in every now and then, too. As you’ll probably know if you’ve been following this blog for a while, I’m already a huge Sally Green fan, and it was really great to hear her talk about how she came up with the idea for Half Bad; James Dawson I’d never heard of before, but he made his books sound really interesting, and I definitely want to pick up his new book, All of the Above, when it comes out later this year.

I decided to buy physical copies of Half Bad and Half Wild so that I could get them signed, and I was tempted to get one of James Dawson’s books as well, but most of his already-published books are horror, which is a genre I really don’t get on with… But they were sharing a table in the signing room, so I got to chat to them both, and I even asked Sally Green about the likelihood of a Nathan/Gabriel endgame in the Half Life trilogy – the upshot of her answer was that I’d have to wait and see (of course!), but she did agree that they were perfect for each other, so I remain hopeful. 😉

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst//The Story of AliceLastly, on Sunday I went to a talk by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst about his new book, The Story of Alice, which is a biography of Lewis Carroll, the real Alice Liddell, and of Alice in Wonderland itself. The talk was interesting, and there were several good questions asked by the audience at the end. Gillian Beer (who was chairing the talk and asking questions) also read out one of Carroll’s poems – My Fairy – which I liked a lot (and you can read it online here, if you so desire), and Douglas-Fairhurst finished up with an extract from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Again, I got my copy of The Story of Alice signed at the end of the talk, and I was very tempted to buy a copy of Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense (a collection of Lewis Carroll’s poetry), since they had the beautiful clothbound editions available, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough cash on me… :/

Cambridge Literary Festival! (14th-19th April)

I found out about this festival quite by accident, while reading a magazine over my Dad’s shoulder, a few days after getting back from the Oxford Literary Festival. But I’m definitely excited! The festival runs from Tuesday 14th April to Sunday 19th April, and you can find out about the different events that will be going on at cambridgeliteraryfestival.com.

Here are some of the events I’m hoping to attend (though I’m certain I won’t be able to go to all of them):

1) A talk by Judith Kerr, who wrote The Tiger Who Came to Tea and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, amongst other things (18th April, 11.30-12.30).

2) A talk by Anthony Horowitz, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Alex Rider series (18th April, 2.30-3.30).

3) A joint talk by James Dawson and Sally Green about YA literature. I haven’t read anything by James Dawson, but I am very excited by the chance to meet Sally Green, who wrote Half Bad and Half Wild (18th April, 4.00-5.00).

4) A talk by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, who’s written a new biography of Lewis Carroll called The Story of Alice, which I bought when I was in Oxford (19th April, 10.00-11.00).

5) The Book Aid International Quiz, which is exactly what it seems to be, and which I will undoubtedly not be attending unless I can find some people who are willing to go with me… (19th April, 8.30-9.30).

T5W: Anti-Heroes!

Anti-heroes: You love them, you hate them, you love-to-hate them, you hate-to-love-them (but mostly you love them). This week’s Top 5 Wednesday theme is one I’ve been pretty excited about, since I tend to gravitate towards anti-heroes. And for reference, this is what I consider an anti-hero to be:

Any hero or protagonist who displays traditionally villainous characteristics (e.g. Snape in the Harry Potter series); or any villainous character with heroic motivations, or with whom the audience is very clearly supposed to sympathise (e.g. Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Most anti-heroes walk the thin line between being heroes and being villains, and are often difficult to put into either category.

Unsurprisingly, it was a tough list to narrow down, so I’d like to start off with a few honourable mentions: Luke Castellan, from Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan; Rose Wilson (a.k.a. Ravager) from the DC Universe (but particularly as she was portrayed in Teen Titans); and Warner from the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, who I am liking more and more the further I get into Unravel Me.

But now onto the actual top 5!

Rory McCann as Sandor in HBO's Game of Thrones.

Rory McCann as Sandor in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

5) Sandor Clegane, a.k.a. the Hound (from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series)

Sandor is one of those characters who seems truly despicable upon first encounter, and he seems to always do his best to promote this idea of him. But the further you get into the series, the more he grows on you (and I, personally, am really anxious to see whether he’ll be showing up in The Winds of Winter). He’s not a main character in the series, and we never see things from his perspective, so most of the insights into his character are gleaned from his interactions with first Sansa, then Arya Stark, the former of whom is terrified of him (but possibly also in love with him), and the latter of whom despises him (but also feels a grudging respect towards him). So there’s a lot of mixed feelings there, but ultimately he’s one of my favourite characters in A Song of Ice & Fire.

Alan Rickman as Snape in the Harry Potter films.

Alan Rickman as Snape in the Harry Potter films.

4) Severus Snape (from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

Despite general adoration (which was certainly not discouraged when Alan Rickman was cast as him in the films), I hated Snape for a very long time. The combined powers of fandom and Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows eventually persuaded me to give him a chance, but it was still only very recently that I actually started to like him. Snape is probably the quintessential anti-hero, though: Every book leaves you more and more uncertain as to his loyalties and motivations, and the final reveal in book 7 was both shocking and heartbreaking.

Yassen as portrayed by Damian Lewis in the Stormbreaker film.

Yassen as portrayed by Damian Lewis in the Stormbreaker film.

3) Yassen Gregorovich (from the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz)

Yassen is a Russian assassin who shows up continuously throughout the early Alex Rider books, employed by the various villains that Alex is trying to take down. But although he’s usually just a side character, he’s the most memorable of all the villains in the series, and he probably also has the most character depth. We find out in Eagle Strike that Yassen actually had a history with Alex’s father, and this discovery has a profound affect on Alex’s outlook on things in the later books. Yassen was even the main character in the series’ prequel, Russian Roulette, and it was really great to get a deeper look into the backstory of one of the series’ most mysterious characters.

Shrike as seen on the official Philip Reeve site.

Shrike as seen on the official Philip Reeve site.

2) Shrike (from The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve)

Shrike is quite possibly one of my favourite characters of all time, ever. He’s a type of resurrected, half-corpse, half-machine soldier called a “Stalker”, and when he’s introduced in Mortal Engines, he’s working as a bounty hunter for the Mayor of London, and his targets are our two protagonists, Hestor and Tom. But it was really in the last couple of books that I grew to love Shrike, and the epilogue of A Darkling Plain utterly killed me. There’s a prequel series (Fever Crumb), too, which apparently features Shrike when he was still human, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet…

Jason as Robin.

Jason as Robin.

1) Jason Todd, a.k.a. Red Hood (from the DC Universe)

Ah, what to say about Jason? Except, of course, that he’s my favourite Batman character, and that I have basically stalked him through the DC Universe: Which comics I decide to read depends largely on whether Jason (&, to a lesser extent, a couple of other characters) will be appearing. He first showed up in Batman as the second Robin, but was generally despised by fans, and was consequently brutally murdered by the Joker. But, in death, he became significantly more popular, and it’s notable in the comics that whenever Batman feels particularly guilty about something (and he happens to be in the bat-cave), the glass case with Jason’s Robin suit will show up in the background.

Jason as the Red Hood.

Jason as the Red Hood.

In the usual manner of comic book characters, though, he is eventually brought back to life, but instead of everything going back to normal, he is enraged to discover that Batman never avenged him, and (worse) that he has been replaced by a new Robin. There are several series that he shows up in, but the most prominent Jason Todd stories are probably in Batman: A Death in the FamilyRed Hood: The Lost DaysBatman: Under the Hood and the new Red Hood & the Outlaws series.