Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Review: Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi


In One Line:  very lovely angel does something very bad indeed.
Genre: Romeo and Juliet, except with more religion, and maybe a little bit of The Little Mermaid thrown in? (not the Disney version)
The Gist:
Serafina is an Angel of Death, which means she has a manifesto and has to be ready to go collect souls when they go meet their maker. She does it very well, and has lots of bells and whistles to make dying a rather nice experience indeed. That’s her job, and she’s one the best and brightest. Until she meets Marcus, who is a gangsta (that’s right people, we’re spelling it that way) who is due to die in a club shooting. Except that Sera can’t stand to see him die because he’s rather beautiful and all that. So a stranger tells her she can ask for an extension, which Sera agrees to rather stupidly, because she fails to read the small print. It means that Marcus’ best friend has to die instead. With time running out on Marcus’ extension, can Sera save his soul as well as avoid the repercussions of her little deal she made with the weird stranger?
The Cover:
I love this cover. Because Goth angels are blatantly cool, and although it represents Sera towards the end of the novel, it makes reading it intriguing because you’ll spend your time wondering how she turns from a very renaissance-reubenesque being into someone who paints tears on her eyes with kohl. Also, Sarah Mussi, your bright pink Impact font ROCKS. 
Why You’ll Love This Book
  • It’s full of questions, and meanings and wonderment without ever being patronising, which is a pretty hard feat to do.
  • Sera’s voice is brilliant. You just kind of have to accept that she’s overly sweet and rather stupid and get over it, and then once you’re over it her voice becomes a joy to read. There were times when I thought her naivety was a little distracting, but generally her character is believable and ultimately rather loveable. 
  • The scope of this book is wild. Sarah Mussi sure knows her shizzle when it comes to the angel world. And she’s thought of everything, which I really like. There’s a whole world up there, with it’s own politics and problems, as well as a hellish world down there, where, if I were to uptake Mussi’s philosophy, a few more of us are doomed to experience than we realise. 
Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • If you believe in heaven and hell and angels and all that, then great. If you are a toughened cynic like me, then this book isn’t for you. It just captures on to an ethic that can be hard for some people to grasp and believe in. 
  • The doctrine in this book is very heavy-handed and old testament. It’s like the world has very much moved on, and Heaven is stuck in the renaissance. I’m not sure I get that. Same applies to the knowledge Serafina seemingly has. Sometimes she is very knowledgeable on human things, and then sometimes she doesn’t get them at all. I just needed the lines to be clearer. 
  • If you’re studying for Religion and Ethics GCSE then you may find this book useful. It raises interesting questions, and things that I’m sure all of us have pondered at some point. If you’re not into the Meaning of Life type thing, then I think you might find the ponderings of Free Will throughout the book a little too much. And also, the only conclusion I could actually come to was that God and Angels therefore couldn’t possibly exist. So I think I missed the point somewhere. 
  • Marcus. Marcus. Marcus. Marcus. Why does Sera fall in love with him? Other than the fact that he’s quite pretty? If anyone can enlighten me, then throw the comments my way. Thanks. 
  • I didn’t understand the chapter headings. 

The Hypersomnia Test:
It failed. I found myself putting the book down and not being particularly inspired to pick it up again. And I think I know why. I wanted more interaction between the lovebirds. They’re hardly ever together, and seeing as epic, earth-shattering romance is the core plot of this book, I just couldn’t find any epic, earth-shattering romance. I didn’t fancy Marcus. I didn’t know why Sera fancied Marcus, and some of the religion stuff just plain annoyed me. 
Final Verdict:
I am a pretty hardened atheist, and I just don’t think this book is for me. I’m quite definite of my opinions of heaven and hell, so reading a book that takes these concepts so seriously, without any semblance of tongue-in-cheek made it a little hard to read. I stand by this book being excellently written, but I’m afraid that I’m just not its reader. 
Further Reading:
Angel by L.A. Weatherly
Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Fallen by Lauren Kate

To buy Angel Dust click HERE!!!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Hot Key Books Extravaganza!

It's not often that we get a brand new children's publisher on the block, and very shortly they shall be releasing their very first books on the universe. It's very exciting indeed. So, in celebration of the glory of Hot Key Books, I thought I'd share with you what gorgeous goodies they have coming our way in the near future...

Look how the proofs are numbered at the top! I don't know about you, but I think that is pretty, pretty cool. So now a bit more about the books; and despite the proofs being ordered by number, this isn't the order that they're being released in, so I shall now present them to you, complete with covers and snippets of info, in publication order:

August

Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi
An epic tale of forbidden love between an angel and a young gangsta

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid
Exciting first instalment of a thrilling trilogy perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore and Eoin Colfer

September

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Award-winning Sally Gardner has sold over 1 million books in the UK and been translated into 22 languages. 

Shrunk by F.R. Hitchcock
Perfect for fans of Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Stanton - a new author with a great imagination. 

October

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron edited by Jonathan Strahan
Eighteen spellbinding tales from the best children's writers, blended together for the witching hour, including Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and Holly Black. 

Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones
A comic ghost story perfect for fans of Eva Ibbotson and Chris Riddell

A World Between Us by Lydia Syson
A powerful narrative from a strong and passionate heroine will appeal to younger fans of Atonement and Charlotte Grey.

November

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh
Singular and imaginative, blending historical figures with an inspiring coming of age story. Strong fantasy that has a central romantic hero quite unlike any other. Includes violence, love, astrology, astronomy, and a beer drunking moose.

The Cloud Hunters by Alex Shearer
Quest adventure that covers theme of climate change and segregated society

And there you have it folks! All the brand new titles that the fabulous Hot Key Books are going to be giving us this year. May I add that all comments above about the books come direct from the backs of the proofs - there were no actual blurbs on the back of the proofs (peers over glasses at Hot Key Team), although I would have love to have given you those. Go and check the books out, look out for my reviews in the coming months, and let's have three cheers for a brave and exciting new children's publisher! Hurray!!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Letterbox Love no.9 - 29th July 2012

The latest books I've received, complete with blurbs and publishing details. Enjoy!

Street Duty: Knockdown by Chris Ould
Victim: Teenage Female, 14 years old.
Unconscious. Head injury. Laceration to arm. Struck by lorry.
Why was Ashleigh Jarvis running so fast that she didn't see the lorry? Why was she so scared? And why was she barefoot on a cold winter's evening?
It's Holly Blades' first case and she wants to know the truth. But how much is she willing to risk to get at the real facts?
Published by Usborne, October 2012

At Somerton: Secrets and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
One house, two worlds, dark secrets...
England, 1910. The Averley family has lived a life of luxury in India, but now they must return ot Lord Averley's ancestral estate, the sprawling, majestically beautiful Somerton Court. As the family settles in, tensions arise both upstairs and downstairs. Lady Ada must choose between her honour and her heart, Sebastian must fend of ruinous threats from a former servant and lover, and gentle housemaid Rose will find herself at the centre of a scandal so enormous it could destroy the Averyley's reputation forever.
Published by Hot Key Books, January 2013

A World Between Us by Lydia Syson
With Europe on the verge of war Felix is on the verge of discovering love. But discovery means choice and she has to decide between logic and attraction, good sense and passion. As suburban London becomes a memory, Felix has to fight to survive. Not just the battles of the Spanish Civil War, but also the conflicts of her own heart. 
Published by Hot Key Books, October 2012

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Hector and Standish are friends. 
They live together in Zone Seven where the Motherland can keep them, and others like them, under surveillance. When the friends find out something about the Motherland's plans for a moon landing their lives take on ever more threatening levels of change. And soon Standish finds he really does have to make a stand. 
Published by Hot Key books,  August 2012

NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER READERS
Eighty Days Yellow by Vina Jackson
Caught in a frustrating relationship with a man who can't accept her for who she is, passionate, flame-haired violinist Summer Zahova finds release in her music. She spends her afternoons busking on the underground, lost in the works of Vivaldi or Mendelssohn. When her violin is damaged beyond repair, Summer receives a surprising proposition from Dominik, a university professor with powerful desires, who has been captivated by Summer ever since he heard her perform. Dominik will replace her priceless violin, but only if she agrees to play for him in a private concert.
Unable to deny the chemistry between them, Dominik and Summer embark on an intense affair full of daring twists and turns, as unpredictable as it is thrilling. For Summer it is a chance to finally embrace her long-denied dark side, but she'll soon learn that where there's pleasure must come pain. And can a relationship born of such all-consuming passion ever really survive?
Published by Orion, OUT NOW

Arrived on my Kindle
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Beta by Rachel Cohn
Pushing the Limits by Kate McGarry
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

As ever, looking forward to your comments. 
Hugs and high fives,
Nicole
x

Friday, 27 July 2012

For my Grandma Iris

Guys, it's been a tough week.


Last Sunday night I wrote that mini-essay on how to look after my little Ruby-pig, but within 22 hours of leaving to go on holiday to Holland, my mum and I were back home and grieving the sudden lost of my maternal grandmother. She had been ill for some months with leukaemia, but she had been in remission for one month and we expected many many more months and possibly another year or two with her. It's a sad time right now. 


But I don't want to depress you with this story. We've all been though similar experiences. What I want to talk about is feminism, and how witnessing my grandma Iris' strength whilst battling cancer gave me an entirely different view on what it really means to be a woman. 


I remember doing my GCSEs and my English teacher accusing me of being a feminist. I say 'accuse', because at the time I thought it was a dirty word. I thought she was calling me something terrible, an insult. I was young and calling yourself a feminist wasn't particularly cool at the time. At least I didn't think so. I spent so much of my teenage years just battling to be considered 'normal' and that being called feminist couldn't be anything but a slur back then. 


But I did discover soon after that I was, indeed, a feminist, and in my feminist toddler years (whilst doing my A levels I think) I dwelled on the role models around me. All the women in my family were nice little housewives. I wasn't satisfied. I felt like I had to be someone important, separate from a man, and looking around me I couldn't see any inspiration. It made me annoyed. And I suppose I've been living with that annoyance for the last few years, maybe even the last decade. I've always done my own thing, read feminist texts and considered myself an individual in my family - the odd one out. 


But the last few months have shown me that being a real woman has nothing to do with your vocation or politics. It's about your strength as a person. It's about being someone who loves, and is loved. 


My grandmother suffered through a particularly aggressive form of leukaemia (tragically, the same kind that Nora Ephron died from recently) and agreed to partake in a trial form of chemotherapy, not usually given to someone of her age. Throughout all the torment, and frankly, torture, she never complained once. She never made a fuss. She always asked after the well being of her friends and family. She cared about everybody else so much, putting herself second even whilst she was suffering. 


She was valiant, brave, a warrior. I can only ever aspire to have the kind of strength that she had. When the chemotherapy was doing its worst, I had an honest chat with myself and decided that I would have probably given up by that point. My grandma never gave up. She fought every step of the way and never made a fuss. 


This is the kind of woman I want to be. I want to be brave in all my choices. I never want to stop fighting for what I believe in. This is my feminism. Even if I get married and end up in a hum-drum suburb with sweet little children, I will always be a warrior. I will fight for my friends and my family. 


I love you Grandma Iris so much. Your fight over the last seven months has been the biggest inspiration I could ever hope for. I wish one day I can prove myself to be as valiant, courageous and loving as you. 


All my love, all my hugs, and all my kisses,


Your eldest Grand-daughter. 
x

Sunday, 22 July 2012

How to Look After Rambunctious Ruby

A Guide I Have Written For My Father Whilst My Mum and I Go to Holland For A Few Days
(thought it was worth sharing)




How to Look After Rambunctious Ruby
A Guide for Daddy Burstein
I will be giving her a thorough mucking out on Monday morning. She can cope until I next get the chance to muck her out on Friday morning. I think she likes the mess. She particularly likes sitting in her own poop. So she can enjoy herself for a few days.
Every morning check that she has hay in the manger, and that it is propped up properly on the cage. She likes to knock it down but that’s because she’s an anarchist. I always prop it back up for her in the morning. Her hay can be topped up as an when. Just make sure it’s not empty.
In the little brown bowl she gets her nuggets, to be found in the purple tupperware. A small handful will do. Ruby’s very good at not over-eating. Plum used to eat everything you put in front of him and that’s why he got so fat and died of cholic. You can just top up her nuggets whenever she needs them. 
In her grey bowl she gets her Salad Feast, to be found in the clear tupperware. She’s very selective on this and will leave the stuff she doesn’t like. This should be emptied into the bin and topped up every day. She is very fussy about what she eats out of the Salad Feast, but it is her favourite. She will waste some of it though. 
Check her water levels morning and night. I usually change it every other day, but if it gets particularly hot then change it every day with cool water. When you fill up the bottle, you put half a vitamin C tablet in with the water. I put in a whole one when I had two pigs, but half is fine for just little Ruby. They are like your Barocca tablets and gives her all the vitamin C she needs. 
Don’t worry if she makes a hell of a mess. She likes it that way. But the poop levels do tend to build up in her blue house. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but if you fancy you can chuck this out into a plastic bag, re-line the bottom with kitchen towel, and then put in some bedding hay before putting the blue house back. But you don’t have to. She really seems to like sleeping in her poop.
Don’t worry if you notice that her pee is particularly orange - this is usually because she has eaten some dandelion in her salad feast and is really really normal. 
Every evening before I go to bed I give her a treat. This is usually the core of an apple I have cut up for myself, but can be any fruit or vegetable. A little bit of carrot would be fine. She doesn’t like Pink Lady apples. Please do give her some form of treat at night because she is used to this and will cry otherwise. If you give her baby tomatoes, cut them in half first so that she can bite them. Lettuce is not wise to give - it’s a lot of chewing and water for very little nutrition so there is no real point to it. If in doubt, just give her some carrot. The length of a finger is perfect. 
Hope that covers everything, but I will be easily contactable if there are any problems. 
And she loves cuddles. 
Good luck, Nicole. 

Letterbox Love no.8 - 22nd July 2012

All the exciting goodies I've received this week - and they are pretty exciting!!! Blurbs and publication details included of course...

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire like would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real.
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must lean to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Alice isn't careful, those secrets must just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.
Published by Mira Ink, October 2012

Immortal City by Scott Speer
Jackson Godspeed is the hottest angel in a city obsessed with Immortals. Everyone loves him.
Everyone except Maddy Montgomery, that is. She's not interested in shallow celebrities... Until Jackson takes refuge in the diner where Maddy works and an irresistible connection pulls them together. 
But as Maddy is drawn into Jackson's glamorous world, she's exposed to more than the pararazzi. A serial killer is murdering angels. Maddy and Jackson could lose each other forever.
Published by Scholastic, OUT NOW

Rebel Heart by Moira Young
There's a price on Saba's head.
They call her the Angel of Death. She defeated a tyrant, but victory has come at a cost. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, she needs Jack. His moonlit eyes, his reckless courage, his wild heart. But Jack has left, and a ruthless new enemy searches for Saba across the Dustlands. 
Published by Scholastic, August 2012

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann
In 18th Century Stockholm, one man's fortune holds the key to a nation's fate.
Emil Larsson is a drinker, card player and contented bachelor until he is told that his position at the Office of Excise and Customs depends on his settling down and finding a wife.
Mrs Sparrow, proprietor of an exclusive gaming house, fortune teller (and confidante of King Gustav III) offers to lay an Octavo for him - a form of cartomancy which can divine his future if he can find the eight individuals who can help him realise his vision. 
When Mrs Sparrow wins a mysterious fan in her card game, the Octavo's deeper powers are revealed.
Emil must 'collect the Eight' if his country is to be brought back from the brink of rebellion and chaos.
Published by Two Roads, September 2012

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina
From the moment Sonia Ocampo slipped into the world, blue and shivering, the hopes and dreams and fears of others have weighed heavy on her shoulders. If only her belief in herself was as strong as their faith in her.
This is a story of a change in difficult times. It is a tale of sacrifice. And, most of all, it is about fighting for a better future - for love.
Published by Walker, OUT NOW



Nice little bunch huh? I'll admit, I've already started reading Immortal City, and it is pure guilty pleasure territory (but you guys know how much I love those!). Review to come shortly. 

Hugs and high fives,

Nicole
x

Friday, 20 July 2012

On Reading Comic Books Pt. 2

So the absolute biggest problem anybody approaching comics for the first time ever is comprehending the vastness of the genre. It's not like walking into a bookshop and heading for the military history section because you know that's what you're looking for. It's like walking into a bookshop all by itself. There are genres within comic books. There are genres within genres. Spin-offs, mash-ups, alternate worlds, infinite universes, histories dating from decades back as well as new evolutions. 


I'm lucky that I had a starting point. I had just twigged the Iron Man and Captain America connection and had begun to understand the bigness of the Marvel universe. I wanted more of the Marvel Universe. It's very popular right now, what with all the films going on, so I was in. But which character to start with? I decided on the X-Men. This was because I used to watch the nineties cartoons, had seen the films, and generally loved the idea of regular people getting awesome powers. So I went to my friendly line manager at work (perks of working in a bookshop) who just so happens to be a comic book/robot-dinosaur geek. He recommended I started with Astonishing X-Men, the series penned by Joss Whedon, as I was also a Buffy fan and respected Whedon as a writer. As both of us saw it, I really couldn't go wrong. 


And yeah. I didn't go wrong. I swallowed it up like a giant chocolate cake sprinkled with edible gold dust. It left my heart beating, my inspiration peaked. But why? Why was reading a comic book such an incredible experience? Surely it's just a story told in pictures, nothing complicated about that, or is there? Well here we go folks. Here's my analysis of the comic book reading experience. This is where I tell you that it's not for kids, and it's not stupid (why do you think so many geeks love it? and geeks are generally very clever people) and it's really quite amazing. 


The first thing I noticed was my brain working in a different way. I've experienced this feeling twice lately, and I guess it's the feeling that babies go through every single day as their little baby synapses connect up into a googolplex of configurations. I went to do Go Ape a few months ago as part of a hen party, and the experience of being suspended 20ft in the air and walking a tightrope does something to a brain. I also recently went on a bike riding refresher course (I can ride a bike, just haven't done so since I was a kid and have never ridden on roads). On both those occasions, I felt the proverbial cogs turning. And it happened again as I started reading Astonishing X-Men. It's like I could feel my brain adapting to this new reading process. The first few pages I read incredibly slowly, because taking it all in was hard, and then I started speeding through it as my brain adjusted, like I was developing new powers, learning to swim, learning to roller skate. Reading comic books for the first time ever is a bit like that, although much easier, and much, much less dangerous. 


Then we get to the storytelling itself. I like reading novels, and I like writing novels. Well comics aren't novels. They're pictures with words. In fact, far fewer words than you can possibly imagine. AND YET. I got just as much story as I could have possibly done with a full novel. That's kind of amazing, right? You see, the art of great comic book writing is letting the pictures do a lot of the storytelling for you, and then being able to see between the picture squares (if they have a proper name, I don't know it yet - are they panels?). The words cement what you're already figuring out from just looking at the pictures. Plus they add a great deal of humour, character understanding and the odd bit of necessary narration. 


A particularly thrilling aspect of comic book creation (which had me guffawing on the tube - yes, I didn't just chuckle or laugh, I guffawed!) is that they bring a whole new meaning to the word 'page-turner'. The comic is actually constructed page by page, so that the actual physical action of turning the page is part of the experience in itself. This doesn't happen in novels. It just can't happen. The comic book isn't just something you hold in your hands and read, you have to become physically immersed in it in order to enjoy it fully. You reach a cliff-hanger, a lynch-pin, a life or death moment, and a well constructed comic book will make you TURN THE PAGE for the big reveal. This is mindblowing. 


And then there are the characters. You can do stuff in comic books that the movie industry is only just beginning to get around to. You can design space ships that TV budgets don't have the capacity to cope with. Characters can do thrilling, incredible things. And then they can also be normal people. Like Kitty Pryde, my current Ladynerd crush and lovely X-Man. She can walk through walls and stuff, and she's in love with a big heap of metal man, and she has real-life, identifiable emotions. I want to be her friend SO BAD.  


I can see all you long-standing comic book geeks tutting and shaking their heads saying TOLD YOU SO right now, but you see, this isn't for you. I'm writing this for the millions of people like me just discovering this Narniarific world, immense and contagious and full of colour (even if it's in black and white, somehow it's still in colour, like when you watch an old telly). 


So you've read this article, you've never touched a comic book in your life because you think they're for kids or strange people who collect tiny plastic figurines and spend their weekends dressing up and sword-fighting in the park? Well I say you get yourself into your nearest bookstore, or better yet, your nearest actual comic book store. Go and talk to the staff. They're not scary. They are often passionate and excited and really want you to enjoy yourself (just like your average bookseller). You can't buy your first comic book on the internet. You need to feel it in your hands. You need to see if you can get on with the characters, and you'll probably need a little bit of advice. You might want to hang around and read a few issues first before committing to a big-old bind-up collection. You may also want to find a friend who can lend you stuff because the only downside of comics, as far as I can tell, is that they're expensive. So make friends people! Explore and share and have fun!


Anyway. All my comics so far have been loans or borrows, so I'm about to head out now and actually BUY my very first comic book. And this is going to be Watchmen by Alan Moore. I've heard good stuff. Let's see what happens. 


Hugs and high fives and as ever, your comments thoroughly encouraged,


Nicole
x



Wednesday, 18 July 2012

On Reading Comic Books Pt.1

Please note before reading: this article is mainly aimed at people who have never read comics before, but I hope it will also make comic geeks go 'aww' or something. 


I suppose I need to start this article with a confession. I am a huge Star Trek geek. No, let me correct that. I WAS a huge Star Trek geek. I don't think I am anymore. I haven't watched a full episode in ages. Sometimes I flick through the Sky channels and I come across an old episode of Voyager and get really nostalgic, but ultimately it doesn't hook me anymore.


The reason I loved Star Trek? I was pretty much convinced, as a teenager, that I would fit perfectly into the Star Trek universe. I was clever, tall and gawky, with fuzzy hair and not many friends. Where else would I be able to fill my full potential than on the Enterprise or on a frontier space station? I would naturally end up being slim, because nobody on Star Trek was fat, and even if I looked a bit odd, that would be ok because I could just pass myself off as Betazoid, as I have really brown eyes and am quite sensitive to emotions and all that.


The Star Trek universe was a utopia, idealistic and simple. Sure there were battles and fights and skirmishes, but they would always be wrapped up within the hour, and ultimately, someone would always back out of the neutral zone in time. And if a main character were to die, it was always nobly, or by a tar creature, and you would be forever remembered by fanzines and plastic figurines. Unless you were Barclay. Did he even die? I kind of wished he did. 


The Star Trek universe was my imaginary home, but it soon became unsatisfactory. And not just because with the onset of the series Enterprise, with me constantly imagining Scott Bakula moaning 'Oh boy!' to Al. It became unsatisfactory because I realised that the world was cruel. And not necessarily kind to the geeks. My female icons, Troi, Dr Crusher, Kira, Jadzia and Janeway and even the statuesque Glamazon Seven of Nine, were all given their roles because they had good figures. Not because they were like me, a little bit frumpy with fuzzy hair. I grew up, saw the darkness in the world, and left Star Trek behind me.


And now we enter the new era...


About a month ago I watched the film Captain America. And I'm not going to even try to deny that the general peakish of my interest in the Marvel universe had nothing to do with a scrawny kid entering a chamber and coming out all kinds of Chris Evans Hot. Quite honestly, my first thought was more along the lines of 'can I go in the chamber and come out looking like Seven of Nine?' 


But it just so happened that I had watched Iron Man about a week before I watched Captain America, and honestly just presumed that they were distinct Hollywood Blockbusters. But, like, they're not. They are totally linked. As a moustachioed Howard Stark designed the famous shield, I turned to the imaginary person beside me (for I was actually alone) and went: DUDE! IT'S TONY'S DAD! EITHER THERE ARE SERIOUS COPYRIGHT ISSUES HAPPENING OR THIS HAS ENTERED A WHOLE NEW REALM OF META!


Because, you see fellow uninitiated people (here is where the comic book geeks reading this for the 'aww' factor may want to look away) the Marvel Universe is a thing. A whole thing. Stretching over decades, with characters and stories and arcs interacting and merging and double helixing all over the place. This is apparently why the current Avengers film is such a big deal. It brings the principle Marvel heroes together. And I totally didn't even conceive of that before. And then I learnt that the X Men can't get involved because they're owned by another studio and that made me sad. You see guys, there is a whole other world out there. And it kind of pummels the Star Trek universe to shit. As a graduate of a Creative Writing MA (bows) this whole concept of an entire fictional universe, not contained by one novel plus various sequels, but spread out throughout the consciousness of potentially infinite fans, basically gave me a serious nerdgasm. We're talking about narrative fiction on a whole different level here people. And so far, it appears to be awesome. (Cue comic book geeks going: AWWWW)


There is more I want to say, especially about my experience of actually physically reading a comic book for the first time, but maybe I should split this into two parts because I feel I may be starting to ramble. 


So for now, there we go people. The comic book universe is huge. And people have actual superpowers (as opposed to Deanna Troi who could just about tell that somebody felt sad sometimes) and when they die they die ferociously, and then sometimes come back. And because they're not on TV, the characters can live on in your head and if they get a little uncool, then they'll just draft another batch of writers/illustrators in to make them cool again. 


In the next part of this article I want to discuss how you discover comics as a regular person (because, I mean, where the heck do you start?!), how it feels to read one for the first time, and how they compare to other more standardly accepted forms of literary fiction. I also want to tell you about the very first comic book I read, Astonishing X-Men, as written by Joss Whedon, and then I might tell you a bit about how I already have a lady-nerd crush on Kitty Pryde. Go to hell Jadzia Dax. Yeah. You heard me Roddenberry. 


But for now,


Hugs and high fives,


Nicole
x



Sunday, 15 July 2012

Letterbox Love no.7 - 15th July 2012

The very latest books that have landed on my doormat, complete with blurbs and publication details...

Lace by Shirley Conran
"Which one of you bitches is my mother?"
1980. In Manhattan's most exclusive hotel, four friends come face to face with a young mega-watt film star. She has a question for them that has brought her from the streets of Paris to the playgrounds of the rich and famous - and it has almost destroyed her...
Published by Canongate, August 2012


Crusher by Niall Leonard
The day Finn Maguire discovers his father bludgeoned t death in a pool of blood, his dreary life is turned upside down. Prime suspect in the murder, Finn must race against time to clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him. 
Trawling the sordid, brutal London underworld for answers, Finn exposes dark family secrets and faces danger at every turn. But he's about to learn that it's the people you trust who can hit you the hardest...
Published by Doubleday, September 2012


Torn by David Massey
Afghanistan. In the heat and the dust, young British Army medic Elinor Nielson watches an Afghan girl walk into a hail of bullets.
But when she runs to help, Ellie finds her gone. Who is she? And what's happened to her? What Ellie discovers leads her to question everything she believes in - even her feelings for the American Lieutenant who takes her side...
Published by Chicken House, August 2012


Hope you enjoyed my letterbox this week.


Hugs and high fives,


Nicole
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Friday, 13 July 2012

Piccadilly YA Book Group

Hello everyone, marvellous Fridays to you all!

This week saw the first meeting of a brand new book club, for grown-ups that love reading Teen and YA books. We met at Waterstones Piccadilly, and the plan is to meet on the second Wednesday of every month and discuss a couple of books. If you would like to be on the mailing list for this book club, then please get in touch with me via the blog and I shall add you. The more the merrier!

I've decided to support the YA Book Club via my blog, so that even if you can't come you can keep track of the books we're reading, perhaps read along with us and add your thoughts and comments. 

So in that spirit, you have just under one month to read the following two books, linked by their themes of racism, black history and general intense-ness. Please find details of the books below, along with their blurbs. 

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
Published by Anderson Press
Zimbabwe, 1980s
The fighting has stopped, independence has been won and Robert Mugabe has come to power offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. It is the end of the old way and the start of a promising new era. 
For Robert Jacklin, it's all new: new continent, new country, new school. And very quickly he is forced to understand a new way of thinking, because for some of his classmates the sound of guns is still loud, and their battles rage on... white boys who want their old country back, not this new black African government. Boys like Ivan. Clever, cunning Ivan. For him, there is still one last battle to fight, and he's taking it right to the very top. 
To buy Out of Shadows please click HERE!


In Darkness by Nick Lake
Published by Bloomsbury Books

In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One. I am alive. Two. There is no two. Trapped beneath the rubble of the Haitian earthquake of 2012, a teenage boy is terrified, desperate and alone. A child of the slums, Shorty has been drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule his broken city, a world that turns dreams into dust and boys into killers. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that burns inside him, a flame that fires his resolve to find the twin sister stolen from him seven years ago. In the darkness the line between the present and the past begins to blur and, as Shorty fights for life, his struggle becomes part of a two-hundred-year-old story - a story of courage and betrayal, of freedom and of hope. For Shorty may not be quite as alone as he believes. Sometimes, on the other of darkness, there is only death...And sometimes there is light.
I've already reviewed this book on my blog, so please find my review HERE!
To buy In Darkness please click HERE!