Apr 19, 2014

The Casual Vacancy On TV

Released on September 27, 2012, The Casual Vacancy is “blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising” and J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel outside of the Harry Potter world. The paperback version of this novel was released on July 23, 2013. The Casual Vacancy is set in a suburban town in the West Country of England called Pagford. The major themes of The Casual Vacancy are class, politics, and social issues. The Casual Vacancy is under production of being adapted for a BBC television program, which is aimed for release in 2014.

From the Shelves Reviews: Digital Fortress

Goodreads synopsis
When the NSA's invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant and beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage ... not by guns or bombs, but by a code so ingeniously complex that if released it would cripple U.S. intelligence. Caught in an accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies, Susan Fletcher battles to save the agency she believes in. Betrayed on all sides, she finds herself fighting not only for her country but also for her life, and in the end, for the life of the man she loves.

Another stand-alone out-of-Langdon-universe book by Brown is Digital Fortress. It's also among my favorites by Brown. It features cryptography and cryptology, codes and total dorks, and digital action and danger, which is my favorite. I studied things like this at university, and they interested me the most, so I picked this book up eagerly.
It fits nicely into Brown mold - smart and gorgeous main hero, female again in this novel, which I loved. She was over-exaggerated and very fantastical, but that's what you get with Brown. It's like a movie on paper, and Susan fit all the stereotypes. But I liked her because she's presented as a smart female in hold of power and intelligence, one who's needed and admired for her talents, and I think despite all the fantasies pinned to her she's still a better representation of women in books than lame ass Mary Sues like Bella Youknowwho.
The book had a lot of action again, so you just cannot stop to take a breather. I know I read it really fast because I just had to know more, had to see how it will end. There's just so many things happening you may have a hard time following, but you have to read on because it's so tense. In terms of Brown style, this book did not disappoint. It was an action-packed and thrilling read.
Again, in contrast to his first two novels, Brown writes females better than males. I liked both of his female characters way more than I did Langdon, ever. I just didn't care for Langdon, but I did care for Susan in Digital Fortress and for Rachel in

A really really good read!

Apr 18, 2014

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday free Kindle e-books are

'The World of Ice and Fire' Sample

George R R Martin has released an excerpt about character from his upcoming tome, The World of Ice and Fire.

What's that, you ask? It's not part of ASoIaF series, not exactly. It's an addition to it. It's a sort of Encyclopedia on the world where ASoIaF is happening, and it's apparently coming out in October this year! *squee*

The recently completed “worldbook” – which will serve as a compendium of history and information from Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series – has been several years in the making, and is tentatively set for release in October.

Told from the perspective of a maester of the Oldtown Citadel, this new excerpt appeared on Martin’s website today. The text focuses on the first proper king of Westeros, Aegon I Targaryen – known to history as the Conquerer. As The World of Ice and Fire serves a historical chronicle, information is also provided in the excerpt about the history of House Tarygaryen (and their native homeland of Valyria) before Aegon’s conquest of Westeros. Various myths are dispelled, and important characters like the Conquerer’s formidable sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya are introduced in the text. 

Additionally, the excerpt offers a glimpse at the political structure of the continent of Westeros, 300 years before the story of A Song of Ice and Fire begins. A fracturous land of petty lords and minor kings, Aegon the Conqueror definitely landed on a vastly different landscape than the one readers will be familiar with.

Sources: text - image.

Apr 17, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

This is a meme hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

Funniest Moment in the Series

Oh boy, there was so many! Weasley twins covered pretty much all of them, from the jokes to their inventions. I cannot possibly pick just one! There's also Malfoy getting what he deserved every few times, and Filch, and Lockhart! And even McGonagall can be hilarious, even though she probably doesn't plan it.

Weasley twins farewell

I adored how the twins left the school. Fireworks and the swamp that Umbridge couldn't get rid off was a brilliant idea, and if that wasn't fun enough, all the other professors just pretended not to know how to help her. She was running all over the place, effectively proving anyone how lame she really was. Served her right.

Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs (also known as Wildfired Whizz-Bangs) are enchanted fireworks created by Fred and George Weasley. They are part of the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes range of products. They are unstoppable fireworks that are charmed to explode when struck with a Stunning Spell, and to multiply by ten when hit with a Vanishing Charm. They include shocking-pink Catherine wheels, fire-breathing dragons, sparklers that spell out profanity, rockets with long tails of silver stars and firecrackers. When any two types collide, they make new kinds such as flying silver and pink pigs. It cost nine Sickles and twenty-four Knuts.

Sources: gif - text

Apr 16, 2014

London Book Fair recap - Part II

Day 3 - LBF Day 2
Day two of the fair (and day three of London trip in general) was even more tiring than the first one. Leah and I had a lot of seminars lined up again so we went in early again. Early being 10 am but I was still tired from the day before, and from the bad sleep (I am SO not used to the city noise, living in a teeny tiny village; I was pooped).

We split a little on second day as we were interested in different seminars. Leah was more oriented on publishing industry, I went after seminars aimed for authors. We went for another walk around the fair, looking up things we haven't seen before or had a proper look at. The thing was so big we probably haven't seen it all in the three days we were there - three days is not enough for such an event anyway!

We ended up at the 'Behind the 'Cover': Reworking HP the Illustrators Story' seminar at Children's Hub before we had to go to the planned seminars. The speaker was Andrew Davidson (with Val Braithwaite), who presented his work. He designed the covers for one of the adult Harry Potter redesigns that happened recently. I adore those covers and it was amazing to see how they came to be.

Amazing work by Andrew Davidson.
(Photo source)
Andrew had a lot of work with them, but he did an amazing job. He did sketch after sketch until it got accepted by the publisher, before he carved it all into wood. And I wish I had actual pictures, because his work is amazing. His attention to detail is astonishing, and there's so much work put into those images you cannot not appreciate them. He even managed to sneak some things on them, like a mouse by the train tracks and a bottle of milk by the Hogwarts entrance, which is brilliant! It was an amazing seminar with a really charming speaker, so it was a shame Leah and I had to leave early to not miss our planned seminars (which we still kind of did). Read more about the covers here.

We split to go different ways, me ending up at the 'Negotiating Author Contracts' seminar at Author HQ. I am not sure if I missed a seminar before that, I was supposed to go to 'Know Your Rights' seminar as well, but I ended up only at the contract one. It was a hectic place with so many people and stalls we got lost more than once. It would be no surprise I skipped an event by mistake or because I made a typo in my schedule.

Negotiating Author Contracts summary
The talk was happening with four guests, Alison Baverstock, Louise Lamont, Isobel Dixon and Gordon Wise. They talked about contracts in general, agents and authors, their rights and their duties. Since the seminars were so short, there wasn't much time to cover everything, but we got to learn a lot of interesting things.

The most important points were:
× Publishing dates. It takes a long time to get the book out, from actually finishing the first draft to finding an agent, an editor... then getting through edit after edit before you are halfway done. You have to make sure you finish in given deadlines because there's still a lot of work to follow, like feedback, edits etc. But you also have to know about your rights about dates - if the publishing house is not putting your book out in time, they're dragging it out, postponing it, slacking in general, you can get your rights back. Contracts are not just for the authors, they're also outlining duties for other parties involved in book-creating.

× Usually, you are asked to sell your rights. It might be just for the country where you're getting published, maybe for the world. Maybe also for merchandise, TV show and movie rights... ('Rights-grab', a thing to look out for!). But you can get them back if the other party in the contract is breaching it somehow - slacking, not publishing etc. as mentioned before.

× Knowing and understanding contracts. That's the most important part. You have to read it, you have to understand everything. Sometimes there might be some wording or a phrase that proves different to what you think it is and you can get 'swindled'. If you don't understand, ask for explanation! You must be on the lookout for reversion clause and cancellation terms. Your content is precious so treat it so! Make sure you are covered long-term, think of the future! Don't just jump on first opportunity.
The speakers offered an example of a woman that found a publisher through a friend of a friend and got rushed into a deal, asked to sign in a matter of days. She refused which was lucky because she would get a terrible deal. That's why the next point is imperative:

× Having an agent is so important! They can warn you of such things, help you negotiate the contracts. You don't just make a deal with the person that deals with your case, you make a contract with the company that employs them! So having someone that's been through many contracts before, and someone who knows what to look for is really important!

Useful links

After the seminar on contracts, Leah and I met up to go upstairs in search for our next ones. I went to 'The Perfect Partnership: How to Get the Best from your Publisher' with author Tracy Chevalier and Nicola Solomon. It was an even more informative and sort of upgraded version of 'Negotiating Author Contracts' and I think I learned a lot more about contracts and agents and editors from this one.

'The Perfect Partnership: How to Get the
Best  from your Publisher' with Tracy
Chevalier and Nicola Solomon.
The Perfect Partnership: How to Get the Best from your Publisher summary
The most important points were:
× Self-publishing is not worth it. At least that was the opinion of Tracy Chevalier. She explained it's too much work and you don't get out as much as you could if you had an agent, an editor and a publisher with a PR team. Having a publisher also means you have people that trust in your work and are willing to risk publishing you, which is nice - knowing 'somebody has your back'.

× That doesn't mean you should just accept anything and everything you are offered. Don't jump on first contract you get because it might not be the best and you might get something better. Also don't just accept anything written in one because it's not just about getting published; it also covers your rights and those are very important!

× When it comes to foreign rights (to publishers in other countries that wish to publish your book) Tracy said it's probably best to sell them rights one by one, to those who wish them, and not just sell the bunch to one person so they can sell them on. You might not get out as much as you could selling the whole pack, and you can keep some of the control over it if you sell them separately.

× Rights reviewing. You have to keep up with the evolution of the world. With technology advancing, you get to have your book not only in print but in e-format as well. So make sure you are up to date with happening and that you know your rights. Usually, regular rights get reviewed every 10 years or so, but you might get dropped after the first deal is up. For e-books, Tracy suggested that you have it in contract (special clause) that rights get reviewed every two years.

× There can be a lot of traps in contracts like rights-grab (mentioned above), print of the book (sometimes 'print on demand' is in a contract and can be overlooked, but this must be avoided because it means your book isn't even getting printed unless people ask for it!) etc. Make sure you know all about your contract. Read it carefully, make sure you understand, look out for 'traps' and avoid them if you possibly can.

× You also have to make sure you do not breach any other contracts that are already in place. If you quote someone in your book, like song lyrics etc., make sure you have permissions! There's also such thing as international permissions, so make sure you have that if your book goes foreign!

× When it comes to covers, don't expect to be included in the decision making. You can tell them what you want the covers to be like, but you will most likely be left out completely. Tracy herself managed to get a say in this but it took her years to build trust with those making such decisions.

× Rates. Make sure you know what and how you are getting paid. Knowing percentage is not enough! What's important is % OF WHAT. People often don't know exactly what is the source of their income so make sure you know where you are getting your cut from!

× Relationships. Be kind, but not overly so. Be friendly, but not overly so. If they see you as a pushover, your deal will be a bad one. Make sure you get what you deserve, put your foot down when necessary. Don't be cocky, don't be mean, don't demand too much, but don't be too kind and accepting either. Also, don't be annoying. Having an agent can help you with that as they can be "the bad cop". With an agent, you get honesty!

× Finally: keep an eye out for termination clauses, non-compete clauses and auction clauses! Have everything on paper, make sure your demands are put on paper. Read carefully, make sure what it all means and that you understand everything! If you can, get someone to review the contract with you.

× And p.s.: if you plan on coming to the Fair next time, DO NOT bring your manuscript and try to sell it at the booths!

After this, Leah and I met up again. We went to 'Middle Grade Fiction: Keeping Kids Reading' in Old Press Centre, where the speakers were Jane Hardstaff, Sophia McDougall, Jamie Buxton and Alison David. In all honesty, though, we didn't stay long. We left after a while when the talk was focusing on schools and how to make sure the education programmes are keeping kids at books. It wasn't as interesting as we hoped it might be, so we left early.

In the end, we decided to be done for the day. We were tired and barely half the day passed, so we went. We did make just one more round around the fair and got another ARC. It's Red Rising by
Collective haul by Wednesday!
(Photo by Leah)
Hacker, Instructions for a Heatwave, The Radleys, The Red House (finally a paper copy, and it matches other Haddon's works!) and The Song of Achilles (I finally have my own copy, ahhhh! Love this book!). In short, a very successful day! Afterwards, we went to buy the tickets to see Divergent the movie later that evening.

After dinner, which was just another amazing thing that happened in London that week, we went to see Divergent. I wasn't too sure what to expect. I am not a big fan of movie adaptations, as you might know already, because most often than not they are a huge let down. I mean I won't even go into Vampire Academy and the second The Hobbit movie... But I decided to give Divergent a chance, especially after a bunch of bloggers said it was a good movie.

Divergent recap
I kept my mind open for this movie, and it didn't let me down. I must admit I frowned over some things (Like casting of Four. I am just not a fan, sorry!) but in general, I really enjoyed the movie. The actors didn't let me down, the portrayal of the world even less so. It was well done, pretty accurate and very enjoyable.
There was a lot of action and that part was my favorite. It kept the pace with the novel and it covered the most important things without adding some made up stuff that's so often the case in other movies. It had the right speed, it made sure you understood what's happening... The only thing bothering me was the intro, where Tris, the main hero gets into narration, explaining what happened and why the world is as it is.
Another small thing I commented on was the love story. It was too fast and a bit awkward. I understand it cannot be as nicely developed as in the story, as it has less time, but it felt too hurried. I honestly don't think I have any other complaints. It was a quickly developing movie, but if it was to evolve as the book did, it'd be twice as long. They did very good job in the time they had so I am pleased with the outcome.
Apparently movie after book three, Allegiant is already in the talks and will span over two movies. That is something I am not too happy with.


Apr 15, 2014

Book review: Every Day

I also didn't love the characters. A was alright. I had no strong opinions on the main character whatsoever, except maybe feeling bad for them because of this condition. And I wished I knew more about it. But Rhiannon... man she pissed me off at times. She had a terrible sense of humor (or a terrible lack sometimes), she was in a stupid relationship and seemed like she had no will to leave. And she was lashing out on A when he messed up, and not because they had a choice in the first place. So she really wasn't my favorite human at all. And seeing how she was the center of the story, that was a problem.

A really good read!

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