Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Outrageous/Crazy/Uncharacteristic Things I've Done for the Love of Books!

Hey guys! I'm back on the bandwagon in time for Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme originally created at The Broke and the Bookish, inviting bloggers and readers to list their top ten for a certain category. Top Ten Tuesday has now been taken over by That Artsy Reader Girl and all info can be found here if you want to take part!

This week we've been asked to list the Outrageous/Crazy/Uncharacteristic Things [We've] Done for the Love of Books. I'm going to be honest in admitting I haven't done a lot of crazy things. I lived in quite a rural area for the first quarter of my life, not near enough to bookstores to camp out or anything like that. I've done the 'normal' (for a bookworm anyway) things like skipping meals because I'm way too invested in a story (I've actually done that quite a bit lately) and I've travelled down to London for YALC on my own, but other than that I can't think of much.

The craziest thing I have done however, was to move to London to study for an MA in Publishing, so I'm gonna talk briefly about that. 

It was about this time last year, and I'd decided enough was enough. I was tired of feeling like I had nothing in my life to be excited about in terms of work. I'd gone from completing my undergrad and having so many ideas in my head, to being a veritable desert of creativity. It was 'now or never' I said to myself, and applied for the MA course. I honestly wasn't sure I'd get in - I had no skills or experience in publishing. I'd never even worked as a bookseller. But I was determined. A few days later they accepted me, and that September I made the leap to move away from home for the first time.

I have to say, it's been the best decision of my life. Yes it's stressful, especially now that taught classes are over and I'm applying for actual publishing jobs, just crossing my fingers that someone will take a chance on this publicity and editorial obsessed bookworm. It's been stressful personally too - with more panic attacks and sleepless nights than I can count. But it's been so very worth it. I've made so many amazing new friends, who champion me as I do them, and who have been there for me through thick and thin. I've grown and matured, and in a way I don't want to think about where I'd still be had I not made that leap. I left behind a horrible, toxic relationship. I've learnt more about myself. I've also read a hell of a lot of books. 

I can safely say, I wouldn't change it for the world. 

What about you? What's the craziest thing you've done for the love of books? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Friday, 22 February 2019

ARC Review: Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta.

Hey everyone! Today I'm bringing you a review of one of my favourite reads of 2018 (albeit in the last few days of the year); Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta. I was lucky enough to receive a free #Gifted ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of the book, which is due out next month, from the lovely marketing team at Rock The Boat (Oneworld); whom I have received #Gifted copies of other books from previously. This does not however affect my honest opinion of the title, as detailed in this following review.

I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Firstly, I want to talk about the world of Once & Future. On first glance of the blurb above you might think 'Crash-lands? So it's set in space? How does that work with the tales of Excalibur?'. Well, it's pretty cool, I will say that. I don't want to give too much away but, as the blurb says, Excalibur is still on Earth, or Old Earth, despite the human species deciding to explore and colonize long distant planets. That's where Ari finds Excalibur, waking our well known friends Merlin and Morganna from their restless slumber. Yes, they're in the book; this is very much a retelling as much as it is also a reimagining. What follows is an adventure across the well-painted cosmos, complete with a planet that resembles Camelot, and one that has - what I would call - space-dinosaurs. It's world-building at its finest.

I can't really say too much about the story itself without spoiling anything, but I will say that this book has so many hooks that it's hard to put it down; I devoured it in two days flat! From drama and relationship issues, sibling angst to near death experiences, all wrapped up in boughs of magic, I think it truly has something for everyone.

The characters however were my favourite part of the story. They are so well written and real that I never wanted the story to end because it felt like saying goodbye to friends I've really gotten to know. Ari was probably my favourite, because she's a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, bi-romantic heroine; all my favourite traits rolled into one. Though she starts very hesitant of her so-called destiny, with more personal goals on her mind, she eventually comes to realise the true extent of the corruption of the universe, and her part in undermining and destroying it. Merlin was second though; very much a sarcastic teenager with a bucket load of millennia-old angst to boot. He provided more than a few smiles and giggles throughout, despite going on his own harrowing adventure alongside Ari.

I do have a special place in my heart though for Lamarack. They are an amazing character in their own right, and a brilliant friend to Ari throughout some of the toughest moments, but they actually are the centre of some very important discourse on gender-fluidity and the ridiculousness of our biological based assumption on gender, which I thought was both very empowering and so wonderful to see from the authors. I'm pretty sure this is an #ownvoices book, and its clear that both authors care very much about gender and sexuality discourse; something which is sorely lacking in literature in general, but certainly in the YA market, and is very heartening to see.

Once & Future is absolutely stunning. I can't wait to buy a finished copy on release and experience the adventure all over again! This is the gender-shifting space-opera that Arthur himself has been waiting for.

5 stars!

Are you excited for Once & Future? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Evermore by Sara Holland

Hey guys! It's time for another Waiting on Wednesday and today I've chosen Evermore by Sara Holland. It's due out next month (US though I think), and as I absolutely loved Everless I cannot wait to read the sequel!

The highly anticipated sequel to New York Times bestseller, Everless!

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

Without giving too much away about Everless, in case you haven't read it, although the blurb above is enough of a spoiler, my god did it end on a cliffhanger and rip my heart out simultaneously! I really REALLY need to know what happens next and I am so praying for a happy ending. I mean, I love sad, heartwrenching tales as much as the next person but... I really need them to be okay here. Seriously. I don't know what will happen, how I'll feel if.... Let's just wait and see, and hope, and pray, yeah?

Please Sara, be nice, okay?

Are you looking forward to Evermore? What did you think of Everless? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Thanksgiving Freebie.

Hey guys! It's time for another Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme originally created at The Broke and the Bookish, inviting bloggers and readers to list their top ten for a certain category. Top Ten Tuesday has now been taken over by That Artsy Reader Girl and all info can be found here if you want to take part!

This week we've been given a Feebie for Thanksgiving, so I've decided to steer away from books for a post - in a manner of speaking anyway - and list ten things I'm thankful for.

1) My health - It's such an easy thing to take for granted.

2) My parents - I wouldn't be anywhere without them.

3) My friends - Similar to above, especially my new Uni friends and flatmates.

4) My University - New but I'm loving my time here and I'm just thankful they've given me a chance at a new career that I've wanted for so long.

5) The Publishing community - I've only been to a few events and networking ops but everyone has been so lovely and kind and welcoming. I can't think of a better industry to want to work in.

6) The blogging community - Again, they've always been so warm and welcoming. It's just lovely to have people you can share your passions with.

7) The theatre community - Again, as above.

8) Christmas - This is a weird one again but being that I struggle a lot with my mental health, Christmas is one of those things that I always look forward to and that does lift my spirits.

9) Books themselves - Not only would I not be where I am now without them, but I doubt I'd be as happy.

10) Authors - I couldn't have 9 without this one but specifically I'm thankful for all the lovely authors who take time to speak with me on Twitter, who get as excited about books as I am, who appreciate our efforts as book bloggers, and who just really make the whole community a nicer place. Especially Melinda Salisbury, Alexia Casale, Anna Day, and Gemma Fowler!

What are you thankful for this holiday? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Hey guys! Today it's time for another Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs, and today I'm featuring Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan!

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

I picked up this gorgeous book on Wednesday, squee'ing in Waterstones when I saw it as I hadn't realised it was out yet. I cannot wait to delve in!

First and foremost, this is a book with POC/Diverse main characters. The author herself has a mixed heritage of Chinese and English, and has used her heritage to craft the world of Ikhara and its inhabitants. I may be White British myself but I understand the importance of diversity in literature, especially in YA, and absolutely adore diverse books. Not only are they so very needed but they really depict the world we live in much more than books that feature only white characters.

UPDATE 24/11/2018: If you want to know more about the cultural diversity in Girls, Hodderscape posted a video the other day; an interview with Natasha Ngan where she discusses the book's creation and inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR6O5fWdAac

Personally however, what I am most drawn to about Girls is that the romance arc is between two girls, and the lack of lesbian main characters in YA novels (and novels in general, let's be honest) is so strikingly apparent that this book is immediately a breath of fresh air before I've even read the first page! As a Biromantic person in my mid 20's, it's brilliant to see homoromantic relationships in the books I love to read!

Are you going to be picking up Girls? Or have you already read it? As always feel free to leave a comment below, or @ me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf