7 Oct 2017

Interview with Lauren from FictionTeaDesigns

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview my amazingly talented friend, Lauren from FictionTeaDesigns, who was extremely patient with me... especially since it took me a while to ask her the questions and I've been sitting on the answers since June... but it just goes to show how great she really is! Since Lauren's business, FictionTeaDesigns, is now open for custom wholesale orders (and wholesale orders in general) I thought that now would be a great time to post the interview.

FictionTeaDesigns' bookmarks are super popular at the moment and she's just released new designs! There are stunning bookmarks available for lots of different fandoms including Harry Potter, The Bone Season, Percy Jackson, The Raven Boys and more. There are also general bookish designs for those a part of too many fandoms to decide.

Bonus! Read to the bottom of this interview to find a 15% off discount code, but don't wait, it's only active until October 8th!

5 Oct 2017

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 Title: Ready Player One
 Author: Ernest Cline
 Release Date: August 16th, 2011
 Original Publisher: Crown Publishing
 Publisher in NZ: Penguin Books NZ
 Pages: 374
 How I read it: eBook via Kindle App

SYNOPSIS (via Penguin Books NZ website): It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of the humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

My review (4.5/5 ★'s): 
Disclaimer: I read this book as part of The Booklanders NZ book club and did not receive a review copy. All thoughts are my own and haven't been influenced by any outside sources.  

When this book was chosen as a Booklanders NZ read I can honestly say that I was thrilled. It contained so many elements that I know and love that I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Although the book didn't disappoint Ready Player One was a little slow to start for me, I found myself putting it down and picking it up again a few times during the first 50 pages. Once the storyline got going, however, I couldn't put it down. With all the information that is thrown at you (especially if you didn't grow-up/experience 80's culture), it does kind of begin to feel like a history lesson, but Cline mixes the story with the history so well that I actually found myself looking up the music/TV shows/movies/games/etc that were referenced so I could be pulled further into the story.

About halfway through the book I worried that it would be a duology, the speed had picked up, sure, but I had this sneaking suspicion that we wouldn't reach the end by the end of the book. Luckily for me, who tends to favour standalone books, we did get an entire story in just 374 pages and I was extremely pleased with that outcome.

Something that did bother me about the book, however, was that there seemed to be no time between the 80's and when the book takes place in 2044, other than some technological advances. I understand completely that there's an obvious reason for this, the hunt for Halliday's egg centres around the 80's because that was all Halliday was obsessed with... BUT something about that bothered me. Yes, every 'gunter' would have to become obsessed with the 80's in order to win the competition but it felt sometimes that Cline could have thrown in some other references as well. When mentioning that there were 'planets' in the OASIS that were modelled off of literary/gaming locations the narrator only mentioned those that would have been recognizable to people who had knowledge of the 80's but didn't include anything from any other decade. Considering that the book was published in 2011 I felt some other references could have been made in order to make learning about a new decade less daunting for kids who had grown up in the 90's or 00's and were reading Ready Player One.

Regardless of this one tiny point, that is really me clutching at straws, I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One and if it's on your TBR then be sure to check it out sooner rather than later as it's to be made into a movie early 2018... and we all know it's better to read the book first... right?

The friendships in Ready Player One may be my favourite aspect of it. A lot of us live in a world where our closest friends can be thousands of miles away and could have a different first language than you do, but Ready Player One completely encourages these friendships and shows that they're just as real as friends that you make in "the real world". Not only that, but the friendships felt genuine and weren't just the same friendship repeated with different characters.

If you're considering picking up Ready Player One I'd definitely tell you to go for it. It'd been sitting on my TBR for the longest time and I regret not reading it sooner. If you're the kind of reader who loves a dystopian setting with lots of video game references and awesome technology then this is the read for you.

20 Jul 2017

Three audiobooks I'd recommend to those who don't usually listen to books (and how to listen to them)!

Are you someone who shakes your head at the sound of the word "audiobook"? Do you think they're just not for you? That was me until about a year ago. I decided that with my increased work load I'd never get any books read if I didn't start listening to them and basically, I fell in love.

Here are three audiobook recommendations for those who are a bit reluctant!

Number one: The Diviners by Libba Bray (read by January LaVoy) 

I have genuinely never had such fun listening to an audiobook, January pulls off a lot of different characters, not just their accents but the type of personality they all have. The best part is that the book is told from a bunch of different POV's but because of LaVoy's amazing style, I could tell who was speaking before any name was said.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

Number two: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (read by James Fouhey) 

Josh and I had the pleasure of listening to this book on the four-hour drive to Matamata (that's where Hobbiton is for those of you who didn't know!) and by the time we got there, we barely wanted to get out of the car! Fouhey did a fantastic job with the comedic side of the book and made a very believable teenager.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions...

Number three: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (read by Will Patton)

I'm not usually someone who can listen to a fantasy book, and I know that The Raven Boys isn't technically fantasy, but it does have a lot of fantastical elements which can be difficult to hold on to but I didn't really worry about that with this narrator. He really spoke the story wonderfully and his female voices were kind of rad. I'm only saying the first book here but I listened to all four and loved each one more than the last. Plus you get to listen to the music that Stiefvater composed for all four books!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

How do I enjoy my audiobooks?

So, I've suggested you listen to audiobooks but you may not know of a way to actually listen to them. Never fear! I have a couple of suggestions (that hopefully shouldn't break the bank! My first suggestion is to use Overdrive. Overdrive works with your local library, so all you have to do is pop in your library and library card number and you should get access to all the books that your library does (this also includes e-books). Overdrive is my main source of audiobooks!

The second app I've used in the past for audiobooks is Scribd. Scribd involves a monthly subscription fee which gives you access to audiobooks, e-books, news & magazines, and documents! Of course, it also only allows you to listen to certain material based on your location (this is to do with local rights). Another downside of Scribd is that you're only allowed a certain number of audiobook listens each month. When I was using Scribd I used it to keep up with all my favourite comic books. -- Offers a 30-day free trial!

Lastly, the one I'm pretty sure everyone knows and loves, Audible. Audible is also a service that charges a monthly fee which is $14.95 and gives you one audiobook credit. Any extra books you'd like after that is an additional $14.95. To be honest, I think that's a pretty good price as audiobooks are generally pretty expensive! 

Which audio books have been your favourite to listen to and how do you listen to them?