Friday 27 February 2015

Guest Post: My Favourite Sherlock Holmes Adaptations by Adam Christopher

Today, I have Adam Christopher talking about his favourite adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. This is because his Elementary tie in novel Ghost Line is published today. As a fan of Conan Doyle's novels, the BBC adaptation (to a point) and Elementary (nearly to infinity), I'm definitely looking forwards to reading this one.

Since A Study in Scarlet first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, there have been innumerable adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes canon—the first, a stage play, coming as soon as 1894. Holmes and Watson are easily two of the most famous literary creations in modern history, and nearly 130 years after their first appearance, there is no sign of their popularity declining. I don’t remember when I first read the original Conan-Doyle stories, but I must have been about seven or eight, and the Holmes canon has remained a part of my life ever since.

I have two favourite adaptations of the stories—they are nearly polar opposites, but I think that shows the strength and flexibility of both the characters and the stories.

For literary and historical accuracy, the Granada Television series starring Jeremy Brett as the great detective is, I think, the definitive adaptation. Running from 1984 to 1994, they managed to film all but eighteen of the original stories, and the 41 episodes stick more or less to the source material. Brett is a pitch-perfect Holmes—eccentric, terrifyingly intelligent, more than a little unpredictable (even dangerous). His Holmes is an aloof genius, a loner who sometimes views the rest of humanity with an intelligence that is cold and indifferent. Watson was played by two different actors over the decade—David Burke and Edward Hardwicke—both of whom likewise took the role perfectly.

What I love about the Jeremy Brett series is the attention to detail and the historical accuracy. The deerstalker? Banished! Holmes wears a top hat in the city (as any Victorian gentleman would). The superb location filming and high production values make the show a visual feast.

My other Holmes adaptation I adore—for completely different reasons—is Elementary. Here, Holmes is transported from 19th Century London to 21st Century New York. A recovering drug addict, he is aided by his former sober companion, Joan Watson.

What makes Elementary so good is that it doesn’t attempt to simply translate the original Conan-Doyle stories to a modern setting. The show dips in and out of the canon as required, borrowing plot elements and characters, but within the context of what is a highly original and offbeat detective show.

The other reason for Elementary’s success is the casting. Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes owes a lot to Jeremy Brett, and his performance is truly extraordinary: this Holmes, like Brett’s, is eccentric, unpredictable, and a little dangerous. He is The Other, a person completely unlike the rest of us, who we can only try to understand through the point of view of his companion, Watson. Lucy Liu’s take on Watson is perfectly balanced against Miller’s Holmes—she is calm and logical, a guiding force for Holmes’s rather more chaotic persona.

But those are just my two favourites. We’re lucky, because such is the range of Sherlock Holmes adaptations that there is truly something for every type of fan.

Agreed with the last line- there's so many adaptations and spinoffs-canon era, modern era, mice, robots- of Sherlock, everyone can find something for them,

Elementary: Ghost Line can be bought off Amazon here and found on Goodreads here. Adam Christopher can be found on his website.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Book Review-The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

Title:  The Bunker Diary
Author:  Kevin Brooks
Series:   N/A
Published:  7 March 2013 by Penguin
Length: 268 pages
Warnings:  many things. Highlight [start] suicide, murder, quite extreme cruelty [/end]
Source: library
Other info: The Bunker Diary won the Carnegie Medal in 2014.
Summary : Room meets Lord of the Flies, The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks's pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true - and how will you survive?
I can't believe I fell for it. It was still dark when I woke up this morning. As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was. A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete. There are six little rooms along the main corridor. There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out. What's he going to do to me? What am I going to do? If I'm right, the lift will come down in five minutes.  It did. Only this time it wasn't empty . .

Review: Linus has been abducted and is now in a bunker. He doesn’t know why. More and more people come into the bunker. They have to try and survive.
It is a terrifying idea. Everyone’s scared of random abduction, of not knowing what’s going to happen to you. Also, another thing to be scared of is humanity (I’ve learnt my lesson from that Doctor Who episode-Midnight). What people will do to eachother. What people will really think of eachother.
I liked the narration. It is, as the title suggests, the diary that Linus keeps while he’s kept in the bunker.  But we don’t know everything that Linus does-it states he doesn’t write everything in case The Man Upstairs comes and finds it. I really liked that idea-knowing even less than the character we see the story through. I also liked seeing the different ways people reacted, even if I kenw it wouldn't be that good for some people.
It’s one of the books for me where the literary criticism and reader criticism collide. From a literary point of view, I understand that we don’t get much development of Bird and Anja-Linus spends less time with them, reader spends less time with them. From a reader point of view, I want to know what they’re all thinking. Even more of a clash is the ending. From a literary point of view, I understand why Brooks would have ended it there. Linus doesn’t know, so we don’t know. From a reader point of view, it’s very unsatisfying. There’s no closure. We don’t get ANY of our questions answered.
It does keep you hooked from the start- not knowing anything, only finding things out in bits, the new things that The Man Upstairs puts in their way. Also, the tension, as well as the sittuation of being trapped, is heightened by the fact that these people are going to be unpredictable, and there isn’t a sense of cohesion, and ugh human relationships.  The feelings of panic, of claustrophobia, of uncertainness are brilliantly conveyed.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a book that’s gripping throughout most of it, but is let down by the end.
Links: Amazon Goodreads 

Sunday 22 February 2015

Fourth Blogoversary! And International Giveaway!

It's my fourth blogoversary. Wow.

I honestly never thought I'd still be blogging in the sixth form. I thought I'd have given up some time around my GCSEs.
And I did think about it. Many times. But I also thought I couldn't leave the community of the many friends I have gained through starting blogging, all the people I've met, all the things I wouldn't have done.

I've been to publisher launches (Love you, Hot Key Books. RIP, Strange Chemistry!). I've hosted semi-successful events (Rainbow Reads, The Month Before Halloween). I've written for The Guardian and been featured on it too. I've read much more widely than I would have done. I've met too many people to list, and been in contact with so many more.

I haven't been brilliant at it. Output has drastically fallen and attempts to increase it must be delayed until after coursework.

But this blog is still alive, and that calls for celebration.

So, international giveaway time!

TWO winners will each get to pick books that I have featured on the blog, to a value of up to £10 from The Book Depository. They could have been my wishlist, books I recieved, books I reviewed, anything. Just have a browse. If I convinced you to try a book, please say!
The rafflecopter below lets you enter, and you can earn extra by sharing the word.
The giveaway ends at the end of Sunday 15 March 2015. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday 16 February 2015

Blog Tour: 5 Things You Don’t Know About A Darker Shade of Magic: with V. E. Shwab

Today, I have V. E. Schwab here to talk about A Darker Shade of Magic. I am hugely excited to read this one because as you may have picked up, I have a huge love for London. And fantasy. And this looks to be an epic mix of the two.

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

A Darker Shade of Magic will be released 27 February 2015 by Titan Books.

V. E. Schwab has also been published as Victoria Schwab, and she has written many things. You can find Victoria at her website, on twitter,  facebook, and blog.

5 Things You Don’t Know About A Darker Shade of Magic:
1. Kell has no last name. He actually has no first name, either. Nor does he have any memories before the age of 5, when he was brought to the palace. The only thing he has is a knife with the letters KL carved into the hilt. KL became KAY-EL became KELL.

2. Kell can not only move between worlds, but he can also make doors between two locations within the SAME world, if he’s already marked the two points with the same symbol.

3. Delilah Bard is a firm believer that you can never have too many knives.

4. It’s Red London’s fault that White London is wasting away magically. After the magical plague destroyed Black London, Red London closed the doors between the worlds, sealing White London between themselves and Black.

5. Just like our world, Grey London is not, in fact, entirely without magic ;)

Thursday 5 February 2015

Book Tour + GIVEAWAY: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black- #Bookishwishes

Today, I'm taking part on the Bookish Wishes tour, for Holly Black's The Darkest Part of the Forest.
First up, a bit about the book.

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author HOLLY BLACKspins a dark, dangerous and utterly beautiful faerie tale, guaranteed to steal your heart...Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. At the centre of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.Until one day, he does… As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
Amazon | Goodreads | Author Website

For each stop, we were asked to share a bookish wish. Now, I have many, and could probably go on forever, but I'll share one I haven't ranted about online for ages. And that would  be to, one day, own a book and bake cafe.
It would sell food like this

Quoth the cupcake, "Nevermore" by Evelin-Novemberdusk on DeviantArt and

Book Launch Cupcakes by peeka85 on DeviantArt and Book Cupcakes by Nimhel on DeviantArt

 And of course, have fabulous drinks to go with them. Maybe something like this 
a Cute Cat and Rilakkuma 3D Latte Art by LaPetiteMiae on DeviantArt
and of course
Tea Wall by ahermin on DeviantArt

 And the books- well, they wouldn't be the things for sale. You see, I know a couple of cafes near me where they have a book exchange, where it's take a book, leave a book. But their book exchanges are only small shelves.  In my book and bake shop, at least one whole wall would have bookshelf fitted to it for swapping.
my kind of order by nackmu on DeviantArt

 And there'd be a mix of genres and things and eventually we'd have a community of booklovers who shared things and had conversations and we'd just foster a band of happiness.

Also, as part of this tour, Indigo is playing  Fairy Godmother, and thus I have a copy of The Darkest Part of the Forest to give away to somebody in the UK.
To enter, tell me -your- bookish wish. Post them in the comments.
 For a extra entries, make a graphic or something illustrating your wish, and share it on social media with the tag #bookishwishes and mentioning Death, Books, and Tea.
I'll pick my favourite, judging on originality, creativity (for graphics and things) and any punning ability (for all things).

Entries close 12 February. Good luck!<

Monday 2 February 2015

Book Review- Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Title:  Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author:   Becky Albertalli
Series:   N/A
Published:   7 April 2015 by Penguin
Length:  320 pages
Source: netgalley
Summary :  Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Review: ​Simon has been emailing Blue for some time. And he may be falling in love with him. When the emails are discovered by Martin, he is blackmailed into trying to set Martin up with Abby or risk being outed. 

I've had this on my radar a while because cute funny stories with queer characters are definitely right up my street.  

I love Simon to pieces. I totally understand where he comes from, with his love of grammar and his ensembling in plays, and his sweet personality.  The rest of the characters are just as good. ​ Abby, Leah, and Nick were great friends, Cal was  adorable too, and everyone spoke like they should and everyone was real.

I liked the constant mystery of who Blue was, and when we find out, it wasn't who I expected but the scenes afterwards are perfect.

The tone of writing is perfect. There’s many relatable experiences to do with many aspects of teenage life, and it’s done with a mix of thought provoking things and also humour and also seriousness when needed.

It's hugely quotable.  I could probably make a tumblr with all the brilliant quotes from this novel.  I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to quote without breaking copyright law, so I’m just going to say “read it” and give special mentions to  the conversation with Blue from which the title comes from and the bit   and "White shouldn't be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn't even be a default."

Only thing that I did not understand: the homecoming scene a quarter of the way through which left me really confused. Luckily, Becky told me what it is (where school alumni come back to play a football game) and my confusion led to amazement that Americans really do take school sports seriously enough to have a parade for these things (I thought homecoming was an excuse for a dance and everything else about it was a myth). This isn’t a major thing in the novel, but it got me for a long time.

This review doesn’t the book justice, because I can’t put into words how brilliant it is.  It’s not even one specific thing-just  the general atmosphere and the way everything develops just infuses you with happiness. It’s definitely something to reread on a bad day.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a heart-warming coming of age and coming out story that is best described as a warm, giant hug in book form.