Sunday, 9 April 2017

Quest to meet #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas in conversation with Nikesh Shukla
This evening I had the very great pleasure of listening to Angie Thomas talk about her book, THE HATE U GIVE, at Bristol's Watershed as part of her UK book tour. Angie's book was released in the US on 28th February 2017, the last day of Black History Month over there, and debuted at the top of the New York Times' YA best-seller list. I believe it's still going strong at #1 over a month later and has received huuuuge amounts of critical praise.

I first connected with Angie nearly two years ago via Twitter when we both entered The Writer's Voice. Angie entered with an Upper MG Fantasy and was selected onto Brenda Drake's team (I still have my spreadsheet with all the stats!). I am so thrilled that her writing dreams are coming true.

Here's the blurb about her book:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

Angie and me at the Watershed

Bought the book. Got my copy signed - yay!



Saturday, 25 March 2017

Quest to visit a Crime Scene House

Earlier this month, some colleagues and I had the opportunity to visit a simulated crime scene. We were given a short briefing before being sent to various rooms in this specially modified house to find evidence and put together a case for what had happened.

Armed with our latex gloves, camera and kit bag, we investigated a burglary that had ended with the home owner being stabbed. Door handles were dusted for fingerprints, stains were tested for traces of blood, photographs were taken, and evidence was bagged.

The home owner had come home after a few pints at his local and disturbed the burglar. Piece by piece - from clues we gathered at the scene - the story emerged of a woman who was unhappy that her ex-partner had now found love elsewhere. She'd come to the house, knowing he was out, so she could reclaim some items, and that was when she discovered the clothes and shoes of her rival in the wardrobe. The man returned home early, a tussle had ensued, and the man had been stabbed.

It was a fascinating morning and gave me a good taste of what a forensic expert would experience when investigating a crime.





Sunday, 19 February 2017

Quest to find CARAVAL's hidden cover

CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber
In 2015, I was lucky enough to be selected onto Mónica Bustamante Wagner's team for The Writer's Voice. Her guest coach that year was the very lovely Stephanie Garber, whose sumptuous debut, CARAVAL, was released at the end of last month. I pre-ordered my copy and received some gorgeous goodies - a bookmark, a ribbon, a postcard and a poster - from the publishers as a result.

Stephanie has flown over to the UK from her home in America this week, so check out her book tour if you're in the vicinity. She'll be at the following places:

The hidden cover revealed
20th February @ 7pm - Waterstones Piccadilly, London

21st February @ 7pm - Waterstones Deansgate, Manchester

22nd February @ 6.30pm - Waterstones, Liverpool 1

23rd February @ 12.30pm - Waterstones, Sheffield

23rd February @6.30pm - Waterstones, Birmingham

Not only does the outer cover of CARAVAL look gorgeous, but there are four secret hidden covers underneath the dust jacket. Mine was of a rose, but there are also ones of a dress, a clock face and a
circus tent. You'll have to read the book to find out the significance of each (I was rather enchanted by the dress), and here's the blurb to entice you further:

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

How many books did I read in 2016?


Napier Public Library (NZ)
Reading-wise, last year wasn't as impressive as the previous two years, but library-wise I doubt I'll ever top it. I read a respectable 108 books, so just over two a week. Not bad. Forty-seven books were borrowed from libraries, and I read sixty-one from my own collection (which included five beta reads and seven e-books). I'm hoping to read roughly the same number of books again this year.

I borrowed books from twelve different libraries, adding two new libraries to my collection - one of which was in ... Australia! Yes, I went to the Land Down Under last year, visiting my sister and her family. She's a member of her local library, so I was able to borrow some books under her card whilst I was there - yay!

Queenstown Library (NZ)
As for libraries I visited, but couldn't borrow books from because I was there briefly/wasn't a member? This is where it gets more impressive. Okay, so Seaton and Colyton in Devon aren't as far-flung as Australia, but they still count. So that's another two libraries. Then there's another library in Perth I visited with my sister, but couldn't borrow books from as there's no inter-library agreement (shame). Also in Australia were visits to Melbourne City Library and the Public Library of New South Wales in Sydney.

Additional excitement came when I visited New Zealand whilst in that part of the world. I was on an organised tour of the two islands and thought it would be a good quest to see how many libraries I could come across in my travels. I visited a whopping ten libraries there.

Yes, my worldwide library crawl is gaining momentum! Epic!

Here are some more pics of the new libraries in my collection - enjoy.  :o)

Duncraig Library, Perth (Australia)

Karrinyup Public Library, Perth (Australia)

Public Library of New South Wales, Sydney (Australia)

Melbourne City Library (Australia)

Central Library Peterborough, Christchurch (NZ)

Dunedin City Library (NZ)

Geraldine Library (NZ)

Greytown District Trust Lands Library (NZ)

Oamaru Public Library (NZ)

Rotorua Library (NZ)

Taupo Public Library (NZ)
 
Williams House Public Library, Paihia (NZ)

Friday, 23 December 2016

Monday, 28 November 2016

Quest to visit Hobbiton


I've recently returned from a holiday in Australia and New Zealand, where I had the chance to go to the Alexander farm in Matamata, New Zealand - also known as the film location for Hobbiton, Middle Earth! This place was top of my bucket list for sites to visit when in New Zealand, and I'm happy to confirm it surpassed my expectations. I loved how the village sprawled over the lush landscape and the attention to detail given to the set dressing.

I also had the chance to go to Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop in Wellington, where a lot of the special effects for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were done.











Sunday, 16 October 2016

Quest to read a further 100 YA books (Part 2)

Time to add some more books I've read to this quest!  (Part 1 is found here.)

21) Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
22) The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
23) The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
24) Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks
25) If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
26) A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
27) The Giver by Lois Lowry
28) Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
29) The Look by Sophia Bennett
30) Stella by Helen Eve
31) The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
32) All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
33) Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin
34) Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
35) The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
36) Panic by Lauren Oliver
37) Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
38) Vivian versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle
39) Vivian versus America by Katie Coyle
40) Poison by Bridget Zinn