#SixforSunday, Bookish Discuussions, spoiler free

S4S – Characters who I think could be great friends

Six for Sunday
Another Sunday has arrived and with it, another Six for Sunday Prompt! Thank you to Steph at A Little But A Lot for coming up with these prompts each week. This weeks prompt is “Characters you’d love to be friends with” but I did something similar back in June (here) and my answers haven’t really changed that much so this week I’ve decided to do something a little different and instead this week I’m going to pair up characters that I think would make brilliant friends with each other (who aren’t already).

Ari (from Once and Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capettea) and Mia (from the Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff)
This would probably be a fairly volatile friendship at times I think but I’d like to imagine that they would be good for each other. I also have a bad feeling that Mia would get Ari addicted to smoking and the idea of Ari letting Mia hold Excalibur or aboard her ship is kind of terrifying. I think they would defintley understand each other with all that destiny stuff going on.

Paige Turner (from The Bookshop Girl by Chole Coles) and Izzy O’Neil (from The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven)
Like Ari and Mia this could either be an amazing friendship or go terribly, horribly on but hopefully on a much lower level than mass murder and chain-smoking. I think Izzy is a little older than Paige so I feel there could defintley be some big sister vibes going on here and that (with time) Paige would enjoy having advice from her “big sister” but that Izzy would also appreciate the seemingly sage, (if not sometimes a little wacky) council from the bookshop girl.

Tyler (from Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and JayKristoff) and Far McCarthy (from Invictus by Ryan Graudin). 
I feel like these two hanging out would just always end up dissolving into both of them getting drunk and ranting about their respective teams. Tyler: “Finn has spent the entire two days replying to everything I say with ‘that’s what she said’ I’m losing my goddamn mind!” Far: “Have you ever woken up with a hungry red panda on your face?”

Bridget Jones (from the Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding) and Betsy Taylor (from the Undead Series by Mary Janice Davidson. 
I would genuinely read/watch the hell out of this friendship because of what a force of nature they would be. I think the blood-drinking might be a little weird for Bridget to start with and she would definitely refer to Betsy and Sinclair as a smug married couple but after a while (and possibly witnessing an argument or two) they would totally be as thick as thieves. Betsy probably keeps offering to turn Bridget who doesn’t want to be turned until she’s her target weight and she’s actually doing really well because they just drink smoothies and go shopping all day (good exercise) but you can bet Sinclair is making sure Bridget is eating a good meal when the girls are back from said shopping excursion that almost certainly ended up with one of them getting into an argument about shoes and then some immortal enemy trying to off Betsy but Bridget absolutely ended up accidentally saving her life and now they’re best BEST friends. (This feels like strange a strange kind of fanfiction but now I really want to write it).

Issac (From the Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman) and Jace (from the Mortal Instruments by Cassie Clare). 
The Angsty boys club has arrived. I actually imagine this being slightly older Jace so maybe between The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices and Jace who is, at this point, a mostly reformed, sarcastic, beautiful, angsty boy would absolutely take Issac under his wing. A couple of months out of the town and away from the other founding families as well as the Gray would do wonders for Issac in the right company and I think that time could be well spent in the New York Institute. Jace could teach him some awesome moves as well as understanding when it comes to family abuse and drama as well as liking someone who you ‘should’n’t/isn’t good for you etc. I’m telling you, friends for life and think of super Issac coming back to town, kicking butt and breaking hearts. *Contented Sigh*

Rhysand (from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas) and Celaena Sardothien (from Throne of Glass, also by SJM) 
Another hilarious partnering. I think these would be another pair that would end up drunkenly ranting at each other as well as Celaena training with Cas and Az, giving Rhysand pointers with Feyre, flirting with Amren and getting into arm wrestles. Rowan would probably be crappy and overprotective but Rhsyand would totally woo him too and they would be best buds as well.

Okay so turns out that what I meant by, “great friends” means that I just friend-ship them I think and now, as quite often seems to happen I’m overcome with the need to expand on these ideas with fanfiction. I hope you’ve enjoyed my, slightly strange partnering and promise we’ll be back to the normal scheduled  Six for Sunday prompts next week! (Also my spoiler-free Darkdawn review is coming Tuesday!).

 

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Bookish Discuussions, q&a, spoiler free

James Lovegrove Q&A

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It’s been two days since the release of Firefly: The Magnificent Nine by James Lovegrove, (you can check out my spoiler free review here) and today I’m excited to share with you a Q&A I did with the main himself about his experiences writing his newest release.

First off let me say, I absolutely loved The Magnificent Nine, it completely took me back to the days of watching Firefly on SyFy, the show had such a particular feel and quality to it that I think you’ve really managed to capture. One of the things that, I think really helped was your use of language, a really unique aspect in the show and one that I think you’ve managed to embody brilliantly in your writing for this book. How did you find getting into that particular style? Not just the use of signature words from the show such as ruttin, shiny and gorram but the inclusion of the chinese phrases and the way the words flow in such a way that makes it instantly recognisable to a lot of fans.

Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the book so much .At the risk of sounding cocky, I found
it fairly easy getting into the Firefly idiom. That’s because I’ve watched every episode
and the movie at least three times, and because I love the show. The dialogue is this
delightful mix of the florid and the earthy. I was already used to writing Victorian-style
dialogue from my Sherlock Holmes pastiches, so all I had to do was add some Western-
movie grit to that. It all flowed from there. Honestly, The Magnificent Nine was perhaps
the most fun I’ve ever had with a novel. I polished off the first draft in about four
weeks. It was paid fan-fiction, basically.

Do you have a favourite Chinese curse word or phrase from the series or that you used in your book and did you get to make up any of your own?

While writing the book I put out a distress call on social media, and luckily a Chinese-
speaking Facebook friend, Yen Ooi, came to my rescue. She gamely helped me with
translating several fairly obscene phrases that I came up with, most memorably “beat
me with a wet and soft sheep cock”. From the existing Firefly pinyin lexicon, I think my
favourite is “Holy mother of God and all her wacky nephews”, which crops up in “Our
Mrs Reynolds”.

Although the language is a big help in giving your book the same feel as the show on which its based another thing that struck me was just how well you captured the feel of each of the characters, did you do anything in particular to find the actions and voices of these characters and their rhythm among themselves and each other?

The characters were so well-sketched and clearly defined in the show that it wasn’t hard
re-creating them on the page. The trick was staying true to the way the writers and
actors portrayed them, while at the same time using the techniques of the novel, such as
interior monologue, to flesh them out that little bit more. The one person I was least
certain about, to begin with, was River. Over the course of the series she changes a great
deal, swinging between wide-eyed moon-calf and hyper-intelligent kill bot, and I found
her hard to get a fix on. I was completely unsure about writing her, and I couldn’t quite
believe it when my editor told me I’d actually got her nailed. Hell of a relief.

Is there a particular member of the crew of Serenity you relate to the most?

Probably Wash. He wisecracks to hide his insecurities, like I do, but when it’s called for,
he gets down to the job and is utterly competent, as I hope I am. He’s also got a
gorgeous, tough-as-nails wife who takes no bullshit, and so do I.

Did having the opportunity to write The Magnificent Nine and it’s predecessor Big Damn Hero change the way you felt about any of the characters?

I’d always looked at Mal as a good guy to the core, but when I was re-watching the
show in preparation for writing the novels, I realised he’s pretty hardcore ruthless. He’s
more embittered than he lets on, which emerges in flashes here and there, such as in
“Ariel” when he nearly throws Jayne out of the airlock. You threaten what’s his, and no
matter who you are, you’d better expect reprisals. I think it’s Nathan Fillion’s charm
that’s deceptive here. He makes Mal wonderfully easy-going and you might think that’s
all there is to him, but there are moments when Fillion allows glimmers of the steeliness
beneath to show through. It’s a terrifically well-rounded performance.

In this book you really dig down into Jaynes emotions which are often only hinted at in the show and personally I enjoyed this closer look into a character that at first glance could have easily been written off someone who doesn’t really give much of a care about anyone but himself, your story really highlights what we see glimpses of in the show, how did it feel really getting down into all of that and what made you decide to do so?

I think Jayne gets stereotyped as the big dumb guy who likes to shoot guns. I thought
it’d be fun to up the stakes for him and give him something to care about, so in The
Magnificent Nine he reconnects with an old flame and discovers that their affair may
have had unintended consequences. Perhaps against his own better judgement, Jayne
learns to step up and do the right thing, even though this comes at a cost. Can’t say any
more than that because of, y’know, spoilers.

You’ve written over a number of genres over the years and for different age groups, how does writing a tie in novel for a series like Firefly differ from that and how did you get into it?

About four years ago I told my then-editor at Titan, Miranda Jewess, that I’d be
interested in tie-in work but only if it was Firefly. Titan didn’t even have the licence
then, but a couple of years later they did, and Miranda remembered what I’d said and
got in touch. I jumped at the chance. I like a challenge, and I also like to get things right,
so I re-immersed myself in the ’Verse and got reacquainted with the characters and the
tech, and then decided I would really lean into the Western-movie elements of the show.
I was excited because I’d never done anything like this before, neither a tie-in nor a
Western (other than a Western-inflected short story, “The Black Rider”, in the
anthology Gutshot). I had, however, had some experience with writing in other authors’
voices through my Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft pastiches. It was really just a case of letting my love for Firefly show through and giving my fellow Browncoats what they
want.

Were there any particular rules of guidelines aside from the obvious when you were creating the story? If so could you tell me a little about these? Did they restrict you very much? Did you have to change anything in particular to accommodate them?

I submitted three story outlines for consideration, and Titan and the licensor together
decided which one they would like to see as a novel. So, from the outset, I was writing to
order, but still the guidelines were fairly loose. Once I’d written the book, it was up to
editorial to say what they thought worked and what didn’t, and I rewrote accordingly.
There wasn’t too much of that, in the event. Mostly it was a case of a line of dialogue
here and there not sounding quite right and needing to be honed, or a few instances of
character interaction which didn’t ring true. Any changes were minor. I felt that, even
if it wasn’t expressly stated, I was being asked just to have fun in this fictional world
and do the best job I could.

Thank you for your answers, as a last question I would love to know if you have a favourite episode of the Firefly and why?

It’s not so much a favourite episode as a favourite moment. It’s in “War Stories” when
Niska is torturing Mal and Wash at his skyplex. Zoë strides in, and Niska thinks he’s
being terribly clever and mean by inviting her to choose one of them to save, and before
he’s even finished talking, Zoë just points at Wash and goes “Him”. It’s perfect. You’re
expecting her to agonise over the choice. So’s Niska. But she doesn’t. She rescues her
husband because (a) he’s her husband and (b) she knows Mal can hold up better under
torture than Wash can. It’s both emotionally and logically the correct choice, and it
shows both how pragmatic and at the same time how loving Zoë is.

James Lovegrove is the author of several acclaimed novels and books for children.

James was born on Christmas Eve 1965 and, having dabbled in writing at school, first took to it seriously while at university. A short story of his won a college competition. The prize was £15, and it had cost £18 to get the story professionally typed. This taught him a hard but necessary lesson in the harsh economic realities of a literary career.

Straight after graduating from Oxford with a degree in English Literature, James set himself the goal of getting a novel written and sold within two years. In the event, it took two months. The Hope was completed in six weeks and accepted by Macmillan a fortnight later. The seed for the idea for the novel — a world in microcosm on an ocean liner — was planted during a cross-Channel ferry journey.

James blew his modest advance for The Hope on a round-the-world trip which took him to, among other places, Thailand. His experiences there, particularly what he witnessed of the sex industry in Bangkok, provided much of the inspiration for The Foreigners.

Subsequent works have all been published to great acclaim. These include Untied Kingdom, Worldstorm, Provender Gleed and the back-to-back double-novella Gig.  Many of his early books are being reissued by Solaris Books in a series of compendium volumes entitled The James Lovegrove Collection, beginning in late 2014.  United Kingdom was shortlisted for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, while “Carry The Moon In My Pocket”, a short story, won Japan’s Seiun Award in 2011 for Best Foreign Short Story.  It and other stories by James, more than 40 in total, have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies over the years, and most have been gathered in two collections, Imagined Slights and Diversifications.

More recently, James has moved into the Firefly ‘Verse, writing tie-in fiction based on the much-missed TV series (and its follow-up movie). His first Firefly novel is Big Damn Hero (based on a story outline by Nancy Holder). His second is The Magnificent Nine.

In addition, James reviews fiction for the Financial Times, specialising in the children’s, science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel genres, and was a regular and prolific contributor to Comic Heroes, a glossy magazine devoted to all things comics-related, until its regrettable demise in 2014.

 

book talk, Bookish Discuussions

Lauren James – The Q&A at the End of the World

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Happy release day to The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James today! You may have seen my spoiler-free book review earlier in the week but today I’m so excited to share with you a Q&A session Lauren was lovely enough to do for me despite her busy schedule so thank you so much Lauren for finding the time so close to launch and the team at Walker Books for setting this up for me, it’s not every day you get to interview one of you’re favourite authors!

I loved hearing about the physics question that ultimately served as inspiration for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, was there anything in particular that inspired you to create The Quiet at the end of the World?

I was reading a lot of science non-fiction, which I try to do as often as possible because it always inspires new ideas for my writing. I was reading Seven Brief Lessons in Physics, which was discussing extinction.
It said, “We are a short-lived genus of species. All our cousins are already extinct. We are perhaps the only species on Earth to be conscious of the inevitability of our own mortality. I fear that soon we shall also become the only species that will knowingly watch the coming of its own collective demise, or at least the demise of its civilisation.”
It was the first time it occurred to me that it is a one hundred per cent probability that the human race will one day go extinct. It might be a hundred years from now or a hundred billion years, but it’s going to happen.
Which means that there’s probably going to be the last generation of people who will know that they’re the last people to ever live. That seemed to me to be an incredibly pressured situation to find yourself in, especially if there’s no hope of a cure.

Lowrie and Shen often wonder just what mark they might leave on the world after they’ve gone and how they might leave a message for others to find in the future, what would you leave and how?

Ooh, good question! I would love to create some kind of message in hedgerows. You know how hedgerows around fields in England have been there since medieval times? I’d write a message across miles of space by planting hedges to create letters. Super long term, large scale communication!

What skill would you most like to learn from the surviving populace in the lead up to the extinction of the human race?
Lowrie and Shen learn loads of stuff, like mudlarking and kickboxing and engineering. I think if it was me, I’d want to learn something really useful like first aid and medicine. Knowing how to set a broken bone seems like it would be totally vital.
Creatively, I think I’d like to learn how to make stained glass from scratch. Just because that’s something I’m planning to take up as a hobby myself anyway!

Time travel has featured heavily in your books before and in Quiet Lowrie asks Shen, “If you got one turn in a time machine, what time period would you visit?” How would you answer this question yourself?

Such great questions! I became slightly obsessed with the Cambrian explosion when I was writing the book, which was 500 million years ago when life on Earth was evolving. I would definitely go and take a look at that in person. This is also Shen’s answer, because we are pretty similar people.

At the start of each chapter, we see an entry in Shen and Lowrie’s Discovery Log book, (the beanie baby tag was my favourite) other than the ones that were more plot-relevant how did you pick the others?
A few of them are things that I’ve personally found, either at car boot sales or at the tip or genuinely in the ground. Others are ones I’ve seen on mudlarking social media accounts (yes, that’s a real thing – tidelineart is my favourite.) And a few are my wishlist items of things I’d love to find one day!

Did you have a favourite one and were there any you were particularly fond of that didn’t make it into the finished book?
I actually split up scenes to make more chapters so I could use all the ones I wanted! I was quite selfish about it, because I liked them so much. My editor wasn’t sure the logbook entries would work, but I persuaded her to let me write them – and I’m very happy with how they turned out.

We see a lot of struggles throughout this book but also adapting and working through difficult times, was there anything in particular that you struggled with while writing Quiet and did you have to adapt to solve any problems?

Finding Lowrie’s character was quite tough. I really wanted to write about another female scientist, as I do in all my books, but I didn’t want Lowrie to feel exactly like Romy or Clove. So it took me a while to find the right style of intelligence for her – she’s an engineer, so she’s very physical and thinks in terms of the mechanics of things, but struggles with the more fact-based side. Once I had worked that out, she clicked into place, but it did take a while to get her voice right.

We learn about characters Maya and Riz through old posts on social media, what do you think future generations might think of us if they were to see a slice of the activity we experience on social media today?

I think they’d be completely perplexed by how much we were all focussed on politics and debates over land boundaries, when we should have been trying to reverse climate change and save the world. We’re on the brink of destroying the planet and I think in the future it’s going to seem crazy that we knew that and yet did nothing about it.

I couldn’t finish this Q&A without asking about Mitch, a firm favourite in my heart and I couldn’t help but wonder how you decided which coloured lights to use for different answers and reactions? Did you have a list or go with what felt right? As a reader, I felt that the colours fit with his emotional responses really well and helped to build his personality for me.

I love Mitch too! The coloured lights were a very late addition – originally he made beeping noises. When I changed it to flashing lights, everything clicked into place. I definitely didn’t make a list or think too much about it – I just chose them instinctively. I like to imagine that the lights are part of a broken LED screen that would have originally displayed actual pictures and text. But only a few of the LED lights still work, so the lights seem to appear at random.

Lauren James was born in 1992 and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series.
She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.
Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone and been translated into five languages worldwide. She has been described as ‘Gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘A strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.
Her other novels include The Last Beginning, named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future.
Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US by HarperCollins. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2020. She lectures in creative writing at Coventry University, and works with Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.
You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

book reviews, book talk, Bookish Discuussions, Comics, spoiler free

Captain Marvel: Liberation Run

42583944Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe

Rating: XXXX

Published: February 26th 2019 by Titan Books

But nothing can resist the stars for long. And she was made of battle-worn-starlight – her own kind of fire, one that never went out.

Carol Danvers–Captain Marvel–narrowly stops a spacecraft from crashing. Its pilot Rhi is a young Inhuman woman from a group who left for a life among the stars. Instead, they were imprisoned on a planet where an enslaved Inhuman brings her owner great power and influence. Horrified by the account, Carol gathers a team–including Ant-Man, Mantis, and Amadeus Cho–and they set out to free Rhi’s people.

I was gifted this gorgeous finished copy of Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by the publisher, Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. When I was offered this book that comes out under two weeks before one of my most anticipated Marvel film releases, Captain Marvel hits cinemas across the world I thought this would be a great opportunity to really dip my toe back into the world of Marvel comics and familiarise myself with the story of Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. I’m usually very much a DC Comics reader (Give me Green Lantern or Gotham City Sirens any day) but the films we’ve seen from Marvel over the past decade have really piqued my interest and I’ve found my way to reading a few of their titles. I was excited however to find an entire story in one novelised volume instead of having to wait months for any kind of conclusion such as we often find in comics (I’m impatient okay?).

In the comics… Labelled as Marvels biggest female hero and quite possibly the Marvels mightiest Avenger, Carol Danvers  first entered the Marvel universe in the 1970’s as the security chief of a restricted military base and later in 1977 took on the title of Ms Marvel in her own self titled series after she effectively became a human-Kree hybrid thanks to being exposed to energy from an explosion of a device that tried to meld her genetic structure to that of  the Kree hero, Captain Marvel who was also in the vicinity. Despite some horrific treatment to her story in the 1980s, which even the former writer considered “inappropriate”, the title alone was socially progressive for its time by using the title Ms. which was then associated with the feminist movement. In 2012 after going through a lot of changes and different appearances, Carol returns with the title Captain Marvel in a new series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick which leads the way for a newer, more progressive side to the character and a slew of female writers. Fast forward to July 2018 and we get a “retelling” of Carol’s origin story with her mother instead being of Kree origin and the explosion merely unlocking her latent abilities, writer Margret Stohl has also commented on the fact that the series will share some similarities to the upcoming film although that is still “it’s own thing.”  Currently, Captain Marvels (and Carol’s) story is being written by Kelly Thompson (of Hawkeye and Jem and the Holograms fame) and illustrated by Carmen Carnero.

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Captain Marvel: Liberation Run was everything that I could have hoped for in that it felt like your typical but enjoyable YA storyline but became so much more with the addition of Carol and the team she assembles to aid Rhi, an inhuman girl who, along with her people have been trapped in a hellish prison disguised as a “safe place” for the powerful women of her kind. Not only do we get a well written, moderatley paced and interesting storyline with Rhi and the other inhumans but we also get to see a little into the lives of Carol and Scott Lang (Ant-man) as well as some great story and dialogue from Mantis, Hepzibah and Amadeus (with a hint of Brawn).

The only thing that I found irked me about this book, and it completely a problem of my own making, was that I wanted to know more about each character. If you’re an avid comic reader you will probably recognise all, if not most, of the Alpha Flight characters but as someone who only dips their toe in here and there with the occasional series that interests me I had to rely on my knowledge gleaned from the popular films which are not always entirely in line with the comic releases. Although each character does get a bit of an explanation as to their powers etc in the story, at times it kind of felt, to me, like the name was dropped and we should know everything we need to know about from just that and to be honest that is a fair assumption as someone who is picking up a Marvel novel will more than likely have at least a passing knowledge about it’s characters. I do think there maybe could have been an additional glossary type feature with a little explanation of each of the “superhero” characters – I just want to know how they got their powers is that so much to ask? – but as I said this is a problem that not everyone will have and is more to do with my inherent need to know backstories than any real problem.

Aside from the characters themselves, the story holds well, even on its own, I may have been less inclined to have picked this up without the Captain Marvel name but it does read very much like a YA story I would happily read and enjoy outside of the Marvel universe as well. I think this is one of the most enjoyable feminist books I’ve read in a while too, it really hits the nail on the head with a lot of its points and moments that I really connected to without feeling like it was steamrolling over the plot, it was a part of it that helped make it a whole instead of taking centre stage.

Captain Marvel: Liberation Run has definitely made me more excited about the upcoming film and has certainly piqued my interest in checking out the comics, I just need to decide where to start!

Have you read a novel based on or tied into a comic at all? How did you find it and had you read the linked comics beforehand? Let me know in the comments and sound off if you’re also looking forward to seeing Captain Marvel on the big screen on March 8th! Don’t forget Captain Marvel: Liberation Run is out today!

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Bookish Discuussions

Dungeons, Dragons and the (not so) new art of Story Telling

As many of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter know, I absolutely love a bit of Dungeon and Dragons. I grew up around my parents and their friends playing the game but didn’t play until the fourth edition of the game and its ruleset was released in 2008 when I was nineteen. I completely fell in love with the game which is a mix of roleplay, dice rolling, maths (groan, I’m still bad at this part), using your imagination, puzzle solving skills, battle tactics and so much more. I’ve always had, what I consider to be quite a vivid imagination and the game helped to feed into it more and to rediscover my love of medieval era fantasy, especially in regards to reading which I hadn’t done since over reading the Hobbit as a child.

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For a long while, playing games like Dungeons and Dragons was something only stereotypical “nerds” did, made fun of for years in film and literature you could almost always bet that the token uncool or “nerdy” character would be a pasty white male who lived in their mothers basement and played Dungeons and Dragons.  Now, in 2019 the role-playing game is finally having its time! Millions of players across the world and gender spectrum and from all walks of life and it feels blooming fantastic if you ask me. Not only does Dungeons and Dragons bring people together and help them to explore outside of themselves and for some, from their comfort zones, I feel it’s brought a different kind of storytelling than the conventional novel  back into the spotlight thanks to shows like Critical Role, High Rollers and Dice Friends as well as the magic of social media and Wizards of the Coast knowing how to use it, not to mention services like DnD Beyond that take away the, sometimes daunting, task of the paper character sheet and delivered a digital system where you can cast spells, check stats and more with a touch of your finger so it’s so much more accessible to more people.

With Dungeons and Dragons, you can be a player and let your Dungeon Master weave a story around you where the actions of you and your party will determine the story. Feel like playing a Dragonborn Barbarian from a gnome run orphanage who’s searching for the secret to immortality? Or an argumentative hill dwarf paladin who sold everything they own to attend adventuring academy? Go for it.  I’ve got a few reviews of some “Choose your own adventure” style books etc coming up soon and if you enjoy those trust me this is a whole new level. Your group gets attacked by a party of goblins? Want to fight them? Great! Want to try and talk them round peacefully? Also great! Want to deceive them then shoot them in the back and steal their loot? Brilliant. This interactive storytelling that reacts to you and your choices is the reason I play video games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age but nothing beats a few friends (or even complete strangers!) sitting around a table (IRL or digital as that is an option as well now!) and going on a damned adventure. Books are great, I love them but now I’ve dabbled I know that I need my weekly dose of Dungeons and Dragons to placate my story needs.

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Want a bit more control? Have great ideas for stories but have a bit more trouble executing them or physically getting them down on paper? How are you with improvisation and on the fly storytelling? Sound fun? Thrilling and terrifying perhaps? Then the role of the Dungeon Master could be the one for you! This past weekend I came up with a three and a half hour session in an afternoon purely based on a loose premise and player interaction, when asked about the layout of the keep we were in I suddenly found myself sketching this place I could see in my minds eye but would have trouble perhaps describing it in words on a page but here I was with my players interacting in it. I was blown away and those moments where you can surprise yourself as well as your players is one of my favourite things about being a DM.  It’s such a freeing feeling and as someone who likes to consider those of super detailed ins and outs but tends to be unable to make a choice half of the time this forces me to make a choice on the spot and stick with it and make it good.

There is so much more to discuss about D&D but I really just wanted to focus on the storytelling aspect of it and how it brings another dimension to the entire experience and can nurture the storyteller in all of us. Do you play Dungeons and Dragons or a similar role-playing game? Do you find that kind of storytelling exciting and liberating or daunting? Let’s discuss!

Bookish Discuussions, spoiler free

New Releases and Coming Soon!

Everyone in my household (including myself) is finally not sick so I’ve returned from my brief hiatus to find I’m drowning in the release and imminent release of some AMAZING books, most of which I’ve preordered and am subsequently going to be engrossed in for the next month or so at the very least so don’t be surprised if I disappear from Twitter for a while! In anticipation (and to help me keep track of all these awesome books tbh) I’ve compiled a list of all these awesome books releasing very very soon).

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Legendary
by Stephanie Garber
The sequel to the amazing Caraval that came out early last year I have had a great thirst for this book for a good while and I’m so excited to dip my feet back into the world of Caraval once again! Release date: May 29th 2018

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The Extinction Trials: Exile
by S.M Wilson
After the first book in this series was released in January of this year I am so happy that we’re getting the sequel already!! I devoured the first book and I need more Dinosaurs in my life. Release date: June 1st 2018

38660363Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff
After reading The Illuminae files I knew I wanted to read more by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman and I love the part Romeo and Juliet, part Terminator premise of Lifel1k3 the blurb promises. Already out in Australia I’ve had to fight my instincts to just get it imported but I do have the ebook which looks to release earlier than its following UK hard copy, on preorder. Release date: June 1st 2018 for Ebook or July 26th 2018 for Paperback.

35959734Adrift by Rob Boffard
Keeping with the Sci-Fi theme for a moment I was lucky enough to get an advance digital copy of this via NetGalley and at over 60% of the way through I am HOOKED! I cannot wait for this book to officially release so I can tell you guys a bit more about it but lets just say I won’t be going on any tours anytime soon. Release date: June 5th 2018

36642932Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles
This is another book I received an advance digital copy of (thank you NetGalley etc) and I haven’t been able to get my teeth into it yet but I’m so excited to get around to it next because although I don’t work in a bookshop myself I have worked for a small business that has gone down the drain, also I love book shops so hoping that will help? This book looks delightful and heartfelt, not one to be missed! Release date: June 14th 2018

36467381 Before the Storm by Christie Golden
A new Christie Golden book you say!? A book set in the world of Warcraft (see what I did there?) you say!? I had to have this. Often there will be a book or two after and/or before an in-game expansion and usually they’re very very good and I imagine the same will be true of this one. There are some exciting pages that have already been released to the internet/amazon and I’ve been trying so hard trying to avoid them for fear of spoilers and it’s been more difficult to do with a husband who decided to watch a forty minute video about them and what they mean. I want to go in with a fresh mind about it and I’m so excited to see the actions of the Horde and Alliance going forward as I’ve always been on the fence about my true faction. This book is one of my most anticipated releases of 2018! Release date: June 12th 2018

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Ash Princess
by Laura Sebastian
I have an advance readers copy of this book and although it does seem to follow a lot of stereotypical YA Fantasy troupes I think this is probably going to be a popular book with some and I’m looking forward to reading it ASAP. Release date: June 14th 2018

38087912Vicious (Collectors hardback edition) by V.E Schwab
I know the original version is and has been out for a good while and after seeing all the exciting, spoiler free lines from its sequel Vengeful on Twitter from the author herself I looked into it more and knew I needed to read this book so I decided to wait and preorder the new collectors hardback edition which includes some extra info and short story. Release date: May 29th 2018

35161442Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski (Translated by David French)
The final Witcher book Season of Storms set at some point around the same sort of time as the short stories featured in The Last Wish has now been translated into english and is now out! The lovely people at Gollancz sent me a copy to review and I have a bad feeling I’m going to be sinking a good amount of hours into this book and the third game very very soon! Release date: May 22nd 2018

So there you have it! SO many great books its unreal and this is just a few of them that I’ve been particularly excited about. Let me know what books you’re excited for that are coming soon, any one else not planning on leaving the house for a while? Speak soon,

Jemma.

jemma setterington