Saturday, 25 June 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Crown's Game Dream Cast!



Hey all! Welcome to my stop in The Crown's Game Blog Tour! I'm super excited to share my post with you guys as it's the first time I'm featuring something like this!

I really enjoyed Evelyn Skye's debut YA Historical Fantasy and if you haven't picked it up yet, then what are you waiting for?! It's the perfect read for those who are lovers of great Fantasy with a magical setting. In this case - Russia!

Russia is perhaps the most exciting setting in my opinion - I am obsessed with it! Especially Tsarist Russia. So naturally, I'd dive at the chance to devour this book! It's such a rich and vivid setting as we get to explore the beautiful Russian lands and revisit it's history!

Anyway, we're here to talk about the characters. Character's I've grown fond of and cannot wait to see again in the sequel! When I asked Evelyn about her dream cast and adapting The Crown's Game into a movie/TV show, this was her response:

'I would love to see a film or TV adaptation of The Crown's Game! I don't have an opinion, though, on actors. I tend to think of film/TV as separate art forms from books, and I would enjoy just sitting back and watching how the producers and creative team interpret my story for a new medium. 

Readers, however, certainly have their opinions. More than one has contacted me with their dream casts, and it's always a treat to see!'

So, why not share my own dream cast?! I began hunting for pictures of how I envisioned the characters to look for the main characters and thought I'd share them! Most of the pictures aren't actual actors/actresses per se, but it's just how I pictured the characters to be. Of course, it's extremely difficult to find a true likeness that matches the pictures in your head as you read the book - but I did my best and here are the results!


VIKA ANDREYEVA



NIKOLAI KARIMOV



PASHA

(I honestly couldn't see Pasha as anyone but Toby Regbo in Reign. PERFECTION.)


SERGEI ANDREYEVA

(Sergei was more difficult to find!)


GALINA



RENATA

(This pretty much nailed my vision of Renata from the book. Her eyes should be brown but you get the picture...)


YULIANA



What do you think?

Any of these match to how you pictured the characters?

I really hope we get some kind of movie in the near future! I would love to see this richly imagined world be brought to life! IMAGINE IT. *heart eyes*

Who would be your dream cast?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Evelyn Skye is the New York Times bestselling author of THE CROWN’S GAME (out now!) and its sequel (2017). She was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When Evelyn isn’t writing, she can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies.

LINKS:

Sunday, 12 June 2016

GUEST POST: How I Wrote The Rock 'N' Roll Diaries by Jamie Scallion


Hello everyone! And welcome to my stop in the Rock 'N' Roll Diaries Blog Tour! We're celebrating the release of Losing It - the 3rd book in his musical series. So if you're a fan of #boybandlit then make sure to pick these up! 


Today, I'm honoured to be having the legendary songwriter/author Jamie Scallion on the blog. He will be telling us about how The Rock 'N' Roll Diaries came to be!

Take it away Jamie!


How I Wrote The Rock ‘N’ Roll Diaries 
by Jamie Scallion


I met The Script in Spring 2007 when my band at the time, Officer Kicks, and The Script were both supporting acts for another big band. We got on very well and, as they got bigger and bigger, they invited us to tour with them. We were very different stylistically but it really worked.

Whilst on tour I had written a rough draft of a book about a fictitious four-piece band called The RockAteers. Danny and Mark asked to read it so I sent them each the draft of the book. About a week after we came off tour they rang me and said “why don’t we bring the band to life and write a bunch of songs for them?” So that’s what we did. We wrote songs together as if we were the band in the book; bringing the world and characters I had created to life, and adding an extra dimension to the book. 

I love writing books because I get to be all of the characters. In The Rock ‘N’ Roll Diaries that includes the lovable drummer, the shy guitarist, the straight talking bass player and the egotistical singer.  Told through each band member’s diary entries and a binding narrative, we see them start the band, The RockAteers, and become massive. The authenticity of this is key and my experience of being in a band for ten years and going on tour with The Script has allowed me to see first-hand how a massive band is treated and reacts to the pressures and pleasures of fame.

Every volume of The Rock ‘N’ Roll Diaries comes with its own EP of songs I have written with The Script and we did a deal with Amazon to release all four books and the music this year. We have over 30,000 fans on Facebook and Twitter, and over 800,000 plays on Spotify. 99% of people have given the books and music a five-star rating - it’s a bit of a dream start!

On several occasions people have told me they hadn’t read a book for years until they read mine. Reading for pleasure is so important and I think this is why writing The Rock ‘N’ Roll Diaries makes me prouder than anything else I have ever done. Reading for pleasure is proven to help children and young adults do better in later life.  I don’t find reading easy but I love it, and reading other people’s work has helped me succeed both as a songwriter and author. I have a studio in London and I write with loads of artists. If I didn’t read for pleasure I wouldn’t be able to do my job. Words are what make me tick. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jamie Scallion

Jamie Scallion grew up in South London. He started a rock band at school and as lead singer of a cult London band for twelve years he toured the world, playing with some of the biggest names in the music industry. He wrote The Rock 'n' Roll Diaries whilst on the road.

LINKS:


BUY THE BOOK

You can now purchase the first 3 books in Jamie's series (available in Paperback and eBook) here:


Saturday, 11 June 2016

REVIEW: The Inquisition by Taran Matharu


I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the content of my review in any form.



Author: Taran Matharu
Published by: Hodder Children's Books on 5th May 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Demons
Pages: 400
Format: Hardback
Series: Summoner #2
Source: Publisher
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | Kindle

Summary:

On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future - the process is gruelling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher's tragic origins.

But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and PEACE.

With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there's a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire.

With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his way to victory.




(Warning: There may or may not be a large volume of Supernatural gifs being used in this review...)

Goddamn these cliffhangers. Who thought they would be a good idea for books? I will end your life.


So, a year later, we finally get the long awaited second installment in the Summoner series. After that wretched cliffhanger (there's that word again) ending from The Novice, I was pretty much fired up for the continuation and finally getting to satisfy my angry needs, my eagerness to uncover how things would play out. There is always the worry that a sequel may not live up to its predecessor - but in Taran's case, I think he pretty much nailed it with creating a stupendous sequel that more or less blew my mind!


Where to begin? Well, I'm going to attempt to keep this as non-spoilery as possible but keep in mind, this is the sequel after all.

Demons. I've mentioned before that I am obsessed with demons. Mainly due to my favourite show, Supernatural. This was one of my favourite aspects about this series since the get go - specifically Ignatius and Lysander. I have a thing for Salamander's and Griffins I guess. If you thought you've seen it all after The Novice, just you wait til you discover a whole new range of marvelous creatures that you will long to be your partners in crime! The detail and descriptions Taran has included of these magical creatures doesn't clog up your brain, in fact, it just makes the pictures in your head that much more vivid! And I loved that.


Taran's writing is absolutely fantastic, so gripping and easy to love. His books are written in a way that allows my imagination to run wild! It's so easy to get hooked into this fantasy world he has crafted with a carefully thought out plot that is both exhilarating and heart stopping. Filled with even more exciting adventures, betrayals and deceit, friendship and love - we continue to follow Fletcher and his league of allies through a journey that will send your pulse racing. It definitely got my blood pumping!

Fletcher just continues to develop and grow - he has quickly become one of my most favourite protagonist's of all time! Which brings me another topic - CHARACTERS. Even if you aren't fond of Fantasy, or a fan of demons and the sort - the cast of characters in this series are absolutely phenomenal. From humans to dwarfs, elves to gremlins, every single character is utter perfection in every possible way. They have flaws, traits that we can easily relate to and they're all impossible to forget even by the end! I had grown so attached to these characters and loved the friendships between them - something which Taran shines at. Writing about friendships. These characters can so easily win your hearts over ten fold.


I can't even fault this book. It was such a pleasure to read, so much fun, so rapturous and engaging. AND ADDICTIVE AS HELL. After finishing, I couldn't bear the thought of having to leave this world and it's wonderfully crafted characters and demons! The story itself had me trapped, glued to the pages and we see plot twists unfold, ploys that leave you gasping - it's incredible! I long for the next book, to read more of Taran's magical work and explore more of this amazing fantastical world that I have grown to love so much.


That cliffhanger will be the death of me. Taran has mastered the art of leaving readers speechless.

Believe you me, you want to read this series. You need it in your life.


Thank me later.

Also, can I just add - I AM SO ON BOARD THE LOVARC SHIP.


Rating:
Gold Wreath

Because it deserves it.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

GUEST POST: Sylvia Bishop's Tips on Finishing Your First Draft


In celebration of the release of Sylvia Bishop's novel Erica's Elephant, I have the lovely Sylvia on the blog today and I've asked her to share some advice for writer's on finishing a first draft! We all struggle with that now don't we...?

Take it away Sylvia!

##

For this guest post, I’ve been asked for advice on getting past your first draft. This is a mildly terrifying thing to write about, because my first thought is: I wish I knew.

I finished Erica’s Elephant when I was meant to be doing something else; perhaps that’s the magic secret. Since then, over the past year-and-a-bit, I have started eleven different stories. I have finished precisely one. (The secret for that one exception, in case you are wondering, is that my editor told me to finish it).

So, what have I learned about getting past first drafts, from my track record of 2 out of 12?

1. I lose ideas to self-induced boredom. I heard somewhere that you should avoid sharing the story with people out loud, because you spoil your urgent enthusiasm for telling it.* That seems to be true. (It doesn’t stop me doing it, because I vocalise all my thoughts always and at length, however unwise).

2. I lose ideas to wrong turns. If a section of plot doesn’t ring true, spend the morning in an armchair (or going for a walk, or baking a cake) re-thinking it. I’m always tempted to write it down anyway just to stick to a word-count target. I started last year implicitly believing that I could force a bad idea to become good through sheer brilliance of language. I can’t.

3. I lose ideas to existential angst, AKA teatime. A lot of my writing doesn’t get past the first draft because I DESPAIR, and decide that all of it is terrible. This is tricky to avoid, but I think there are two useful things to know about yourself that help: what time of day you work best, and how long you can work for. I write best in the mornings and evenings, and I have found I have around a 6 side limit per session – 2 sides if I’m not feeling very sharp. I’m sure that all my lost ideas perished because I tried to write them during the Long Afternoon of Dismay, which for me stretches from around 2pm until dinner.

4. I have rescued ideas by having a Good Filing System. Seriously, FILE EVERYTHING. All my substantive ideas get both an electronic and a physical folder. I am currently reviving one that I discarded a year ago. I re-read it (one morning, with tea, well before the Long Afternoon of Dismay) and discovered that it is – praise be – ok after all. So now that idea is getting a second chance to make it. Brave little soldier.


*I don’t remember where, unfortunately. I had a google, and found this elegant expression of the problem: http://www.caroclarke.com/killingstory.html

29543381

Summary:
When Erica Perkins wakes up on the morning of her tenth birthday, the last thing she expects is to find a very confused elephant sitting on her doorstep. So begins an unlikely friendship. But can a small girl and a rather large elephant learn to live together in a tiny terraced house? And when the dastardly owner of the local zoo plots to steal the elephant, will Erica be able to outsmart him?

Title: Erica’s Elephant
Author: Sylvia Bishop
Release Date: 2nd June 2016
Age Range: 6-8 year olds
Genre: MG Magical Realism
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Hardback

Author Information


Sylvia Bishop is 23 years old and has recently graduated from Oxford. She is one half of the brilliant improvised comedy duo Peablossom Cabaret (www.peablossomcabaret.com). ERICA’S ELEPHANT is her first book, and she intends it to be the first of many quirky stories for young readers.


  

##

Thank you so much Sylvia! I can relate to every single one of those points. Especially the part about sharing your story idea aloud with others...

Now onto the more... terrifying part of this post. For the first time I shall be publicly sharing a written piece/mini short story with the topic being: What would you do if you found an elephant on your doorstep?

So I slapped my hands together and got my brains working to mash up some words as to what one of my own character's would do if they found an elephant outside their house. (Warning: I am by no means, an expert in writing. This was a quick short story so expect mistakes in absolutely EVERYTHING.)

So without further ado - please welcome Silver.

Enjoy.

##


There is an elephant on my doorstep.

Let me repeat that.
There is an elephant, on my doorstep.
At first, I assumed it was someone's twisted idea of a joke. It was funny, up until the point where I had verbal confirmation from the group of hoodrats I call friends, that none of them in their right mind would have ever conjured up such a 'magnificent prank'. In fact, they applauded the culprit who managed to pull it off with such subterfuge, and were rearing to come by the house and take pictures so they could post it all over social media. Leaving me to face the large volume of humiliation that would follow.
And they would do it too. For their own entertainment. Idiots. 

I guess going viral wouldn't hurt. If it even came to that.
So I'm sat here, behind my front door - which I have now slammed shut (not that it helps in any case to rid the problem that still remained outside) - at a total loss for words and trying to concoct a reasonable explanation as to why someone would leave the monstrous creature outside a random stranger's house then do a runner. And after a good ten minutes of chewing my nails and biting my thumbs, I realised just sitting here, doing nothing, would get me absolutely nowhere. The beast was still out there.
I peer through the peephole, expecting the mammal to have wandered off. But there it is. Swinging its trunk like it hasn't got a worry in the world. My stomach suddenly feels very hollow. I'm pretty sure that's my breakfast I can taste in the back of my mouth that seemed to be making its way back up.
I am not going to puke. So I do the one thing I never thought I'd do in all my years since conception.
I pull out the yellow book.
You know which yellow book I'm talking about.
The yellow book.
For the ignorant, it's basically a ginormous brick of a tome that stores various phone numbers for all types of emergencies. Maybe it's a nice shade of rainbow in your country. 
Leaky tap? No problem. There are a bazillion numbers listed in there for plumbers.
Rat infestation? Exterminators will be at your beck and call with just one phone call.
An elephant sitting on your doorstep? Little more tricky.
The yellow book in my house is a mess. Dog-eared pages, the front cover half torn and stains from the dead remains of insects still lingering on the brigtt card - leftover from the various times it was used as a weapon to rid the house of irritating creepy crawlies.

I call the zoo. Any zoo. 

A moment later, I slam the phone down on a table and curse.

"Figures no one would believe me." I exhale, running my fingers through my hair and tug at it in frustration. "What on earth am I going to do with an elephant?"

I'm talking to myself. I am going mad. I am officially mad. I pound a fist against my forehead before setting my sights back on the front door, wondering what was going through the animal's head. It had to be weird, being in such a different environment. It's probably feeling just as lost as I am.

It's times like this I wish I had the type of neighbours who would snoop every waking moment of the day. At least then I wouldn't have to be dealing with this alone.

With a deep sigh, I shrug, shaking my head slowly as I stride across the hallway and stop just an inch away from the door - the only thing separating me from the ridiculous elephant. This entire situation was ridiculous.

But when life gives you lemons...

I open the front door and suck in a sharp breath as I come face to face with the towering grey beast, chewing happily on what I'm guessing is my mother's roses because the colourful petals seemed to be missing from the potted plant sitting to my right. Crap.

Then its beady black eyes catch my gaze and lock on, refusing to move as it continues to chew absently. Bored. It actually looks bored.

Give me strength.

I sigh again, staring right back with just as much enthusiasm. "The parentals aren't going to like this..." Biggest understatement of the century.

The elephant continues to stare at me. Continues to chew. Waiting. I like it. I smile.

"I believe this is where I'm meant to say 'this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship'," I say with a stupid grin on my face. The elephant blinks before curling it's trunk around the stalks of the second batch of roses, tearing it off before shoving the mess of petals into its mouth. I'm so dead. But this will all be worth it.

"You and me? We're going to be the best of buds. Now, the real question is - what to name you?"