Apr 24, 2014

Cover reveal: Heir of Fire


Left is US version and I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!! Right is UK.


Random Ramblings: Full Fathom Five

You probably know about Full Fathom Five, or have heard of it before at least. I just recently stumbled upon this and now I feel like I have been living in a hole. If you have no idea what I am talking about, read on.

In 2009, Frey formed Full Fathom Five, a young adult novel publishing company that aimed to create highly commercial novels like Twilight. In November 2010, controversy arose when an MFA student who had been in talks to create content for the company released her extremely limiting contract online. The contract allows Frey license to remove an author from a project at any time, does not require him to give the author credit for their work, and only pays a standard advance of $250. A New York magazine article entitled "James Frey's Fiction Factory" gave more details about the company, including information about the highly successful "Lorien Legacies" series, a collaboration between MFA student Jobie Hughes and Frey. The article details how Frey removed Hughes from the project, allegedly during a screaming match between the two authors. In the article, Frey is accused of abusing and using MFA students as cheap labor to churn out commercial young adult books.

This is taken from James Frey's Wikipedia site. I must admit I had no idea who he was until a few days back, and I was fine not knowing. Because anything I read about him, just makes me hate the guy, and I don't even know him.

This is the essence of the terms being offered by Frey’s company Full Fathom Five: In exchange for delivering a finished book within a set number of months, the writer would receive $250 (some contracts allowed for another $250 upon completion), along with a percentage of all revenue generated by the project, including television, film, and merchandise rights—30 percent if the idea was originally Frey’s, 40 percent if it was originally the writer’s. The writer would be financially responsible for any legal action brought against the book but would not own its copyright. Full Fathom Five could use the writer’s name or a pseudonym without his or her permission, even if the writer was no longer involved with the series, and the company could substitute the writer’s full name for a pseudonym at any point in the future. The writer was forbidden from signing contracts that would “conflict” with the project; what that might be wasn’t specified. The writer would not have approval over his or her publicity, pictures, or biographical materials. There was a $50,000 penalty if the writer publicly admitted to working with Full Fathom Five without permission.

I wish I didn't stumble on this article in a chat on Twitter. I wish I never knew about these things, because I find them absolutely vile. It's a terrible exploitation not only of young talent but also of the entire book industry and books themselves.

I must admit I am really against this. It might not sound bad to some people, saying they'd never get published otherwise, saying it's a good deal with movies involved so they're covered for live after they're done... But do you really want to succeed this way? I feel like this is cheating or something. It's half-arsing art, and I don't think in time you get to enjoy what you created in the end. It's barely even yours, it's made so it's popular and commercial. It doesn't inspire or make you think... It's there to exist and accumulate great profits, of which the writer gets a small fraction. Writing books for money is never a good way to approach being a writer!

"Some writers consulted lawyers; some just signed on the dotted line. “It’s a crappy deal but a great opportunity” is how one writer put it."
James Frey’s Fiction Factory

I know getting published is hard and some people don't see why they'd have to suffer rejection after rejection to get their books on the shelves, but that's a part of the whole process! Fixing, getting better, making your craft finer, and eventually you might succeed. Signing up with FFF that can eventually take away your name and every other right you have for 250 bucks; this is not the best solution! I am pretty sure you can do better with self-publishing!

This factory writing sounds really bad and I cannot support it, even if in some cases wages are better. I didn't know Lauren Oliver started a firm like this! She pays better and is overall a better 'boss' than Frey (how appropriate is this name?!) but I just cannot see a good side of this, at all! Am I the only one? Do you find this bad or is it just me?

Some people even went so far as to boycott the FFF novels. It's not always apparent which ones are FFF's, but there are lists online that can help with that. If you want to know about these, look here. I am not sure I want to boycott the novels because there was still some legitimate work put into these, but I still feel kind of 'icky' about them, now that I know how they came to be.

What do you think about this?

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!

Least favourite book

Okay, this is a confession that would probably enrage a lot of you fans, as you seem to love this one so much, but I have a least favorite book. I just find it kind of dull compared to the rest...

Prisoner of Azkaban

*gasp* I know... I am terrible, not loving this book to pieces, but I just find it a bit boring at times. Don't get me wrong, I love Sirius and the fact that Harry has a sort of family again that's only his, not also Ron's or something, but it's just... I cannot even explain, I didn't enjoy it as much.
I loved Lupin and his work, he helped the students and Harry a lot, but I wanted more stuff to happen I suppose. I also really liked Buckbeack and his saving, but still, lack of Voldemort made it kind of an outsider for me.

Sources: image

Apr 23, 2014

The Casual Vacancy On TV: UPDATE

HBO confirmed this morning that they will co-produce the television adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.

Though we had shared this tidbit of information with our readers earlier this month, the pay cable channel made the news official today.

In addition, today we’re learning that the mini-series will have three episodes and will begin shooting in South West England this summer. 

The show will also be produced by Bronte Film and Television, the production company run by Rowling and her business partner Neil Blair.

The Casual Vacancy mini-series is written by Sarah Phelps (who penned the British shows Eastenders, Great Expectations, and The Crimson Field) and directed by Jonny Campbell (In The Flesh).

Cast members haven’t been named yet, but earlier in April we shared news about open casting calls (now closed) which suggested that the casting process was still well under way.

Plans for a miniseries based on Rowling’s first post-Potter book were announced by the BBC in 2012 shortly after the novel was published.

“I always felt that, if it were to be adapted, this novel was best suited to television,” Rowling said in a statement in December 2012. “I think the BBC is the perfect home.”

With HBO producing, it’s likely that the series will air here in the United States on the channel around the time that it does on the BBC.

An air date for the mini-series hasn’t been announced yet.

Rowling’s other post-Potter project, the Cormoran Strike book series, has reportedly been in the eye of movie studios.

Apr 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who Piss Me Off

Today's topic was inspired by a twitter chat from yesterday, where I briefly shared some annoyance over Sam from A Song of Ice and Fire series with another user. He gets me.
I have so many books with so many annoying characters, I just had to share them with you. There may be ten here, but in my head, the list it muuuuuuch longer.
I think I'll rather do books than people separately, it may take me ages otherwise.

1. Twilight
Pretty much every single person in these books made me pissed off. Bella with her passiveness, Edward with his creepy perfection, the Cullens in general since they're pretty freaky as it is - one's obsessed with babies, the other is freaking out with her visions, third is all buffed and that's his entire purpose... and they all have absolutely mental reactions on blood. Class, people! Jacob is not even worth explaining. I liked Mike or whatever his name was.

2. A Song of Ice and Fire
Oh dear... ASoIaF. I have so many I love and so many I hate here. One that really pisses me off is Sam, as mentioned before. Then Greyjoys come in the game, and okay, they are probably worse than Sam. They are deceiving and absolutely vile, and honestly I don't feel bad for Theon at all. Next up and just about as bad are Boltons and Freys. Crazy freaks. Jon Snow is pretty annoying himself. I am sorry but I just cannot stand his naive stupidity sometimes. Cersei? She's brilliant in her evilness but she gets me going, too. Fuming!
I probably missed a whole bunch, there's like 500 characters actively participating in the story so...

3. Harry Potter
Another one with so many characters that got on my nerves. Like Lockhart. What the hell even... Also, Umbridge. Unbelievable. Compared to her, I'd take Voldemort any day. Cho? I am NOT a fan. Lavender Brown? Ugh. Take a chill potion. Fudge is also one that wanted me to dent his head in. Percy Weasley, for the most part. What a twat. And of course, big bad Snape. Say what you want, he was an ass.
Sometimes, even Ron, despite me totally loving him! And Harry with his stubbornness. And Hermione with her rules. Lord.

4. Vampire Academy & Bloodlines
That Mia gal. What the hell was her problem?! And the saddest part is, chicks like that are in everyone's life. We all know a Mia. Which makes it all even worse. Also, Sydney for the longest time. I grew to absolutely love her now, but at the start, she pissed me off so much... It's her sister now doing her duties...

5. Divergent
I went from loving everyone to basically being pissed off all the time. Tris became pretty annoying at the end in last book, but Four was worse. He just popped all the bubbles he made in first two novels. Their love drama was absolutely unnecessary and lame.

6. Black Dagger Brotherhood
Phury. He's so annoying and so lame and such a wuss and just overall pissing me off. His book was the wrost, I didn't enjoy it much.
Also John Matthew. Not even gonna go there. Or Xhex. Nope nope nope. Phury is okay, come think of it.

7. The Mortal Instruments & The Infernal Devices
Them Herondales. OMG so so so annoying, wow. Will and Jace, as main heroes and love interests for the other main heroes, are the worst. So cocky, so self-tortured and absolutely misunderstood... Stop it now.
Clary and Tessa and their indecisiveness. Laaaawd.
Izzy and her whoring.
Alec and his tantrums, though I love him nevertheless.
You might get charmed by these first time round, but I like them less and less thinking back. Might have to reread them, re-review them as well.

8. The Hunger Games
I have to admit I found Prim to be a little daft, and sometimes she really got on my nerves. Still not okay by the ending of third book, but man sometimes... Also, Effie. Just chill.

9. Eragon
Basically, anyone but dragons got on my nerves. Eragon more and more, as he turns from a hero of an awesome story to a love-sick puppy that keeps going after the chick that couldn't be more interested. The said chick, Arya. She's a cocky bitch.
Roran and his cowardliness, then his headstrong stupidity that hurt so many people, and finally a forced heroism that wasn't. Not a fan!

10. John Green's books.
Maura. Alaska. Margo. Basically the females...
I love the stories, but the characters sometimes are cringe-worthy.
The self-importance and nobody-gets-meness, the selfishness sometimes! Not okay.

This weekly meme is from The Broke and the Bookish.

Apr 21, 2014

London Book Fair recap - Part III

Day 4 - LBF Day 3
On day three of the fair I was a bit more chipper than before. I had a good night's sleep and I was off to see Malorie Blackman in a few hours. I haven't read her novels yet but I plan to soon. I already bought Hacker by her the day before and so I packed it with me for the fair, hoping I might get it signed.

It was a Malorie Blackman day in general as we had two of her events lined up and we planned to go to both. First thing we did was get breakfast and then stroll around the fair a bit again, but we got to English PEN Literary Salon as soon as possible and managed to get first row seats for Malorie. We just camped ourselves there, but we did both buy a copy of one of her books by the Foyles stand first. I bought a paper copy of Noughts and Crosses while Leah got . Then we sat and waited, craning our necks for possibly catching Malorie walking around.

Malorie Blackman (left) with Julia Eccleshare (right)
First event was 'Malorie Blackman in Conversation with Julia Eccleshare'. She was talking mostly about her work, her career, and a few short bits on a few of her opinions. The talk was short, just half an hour, and later she also signed our books. I got Noughts and Crosses signed but kept Hacker in my bag; the line was so long I didn't want to bother her with more than one signature. We also couldn't take a picture with her because there was such a crowd and hurry.

The talk was such fun! Malorie is absolutely hilarious, and she talks so so much! I am a talker but I cannot hold a candle to her. She went on and on about any given topic, but it was such a pleasure to listen to her. She's funny and passionate and she shows it, so it was absolutely fantastic to be in her presence and hear her explain her life and work.

Malorie Blackman in Conversation with Julia Eccleshare summary
Malorie said writing books isn't easy, and that before she started her career, she got 82 rejection letters. It took her two years, but she was determined not to give up until she got her 1000th rejection letter. She said she preferred novels to anything else, and that she'd never be able to write picture books because she thinks they are hard to write. You have to say a lot with little, and that she'd never manage.

She emphasized you should write from the heart and not because you want to make money off it, which was a message that was spreading around the fair since day one. It all comes from the love of reading, at least it did for Malorie. After that, she decided to write her own stories.

"Write the book you want to read, the one you cannot find."
― Carol Shields, quoted by Malorie Blackman

She said she's been writing for 24 years now and she's still absolutely thrilled to go out to schools or other events, as many as possible.

Before, she used to work in IT, which also translates into her own novels. She also said she's still pretty techy, and she's obsessed with her iPad. She joked she can barely be apart from it, but she also urged to be careful how one uses technology. She's also an advocate for reading books on technological devices but believes they cannot get you as deep into the novel as paper books. She'd rather have a physical book so you can pass it down the generations which you can't do with a Kindle or a tablet.

She has written books for a lot of different age groups, but she cannot say which was her favorite. She just knows she loves writing novels because she has space to expand. That's why she said writing picture books is hard. You have limited space and every word counts, that's why she says no thank you to picture books.

For Noughts and Crosses, she was first labeled as tech writer, but Malorie said she hates being labeled in the first place. She was then asked if she minds being mostly known only for aforementioned series since she wrote so many other things as well, but she said she's glad it's so because at least she's known for something. As long as people know of her books, she's grateful. She said that she hopes that if people read Noughts and Crosses, they'll also read her other books. She said she's verry lucky to write what she wants.

Her novels are known for asking big questions. She said asking those questions and raising topics for discussion is important to her, and that's why she does it. That's why all her books evolve around some big topic that instantly raises questions.

Malorie is also Children's Laureate at the moment. She said she hopes people listen to what she has to say. She's sure if you say it long and loud it'll work. It's not her work to criticize parties or people. She's there to talk about what's important for YA and children's books, e.g. libraries closing.

She did say that closing the libraries became a political issue. She said you cannot talk about educational standards and close down libraries. She said people must stand up and say that's not right. They have to do something about it.

LonCon is fast approaching and there will also be first UKYA event happening there with Malorie. Her goal is to get her projects off the ground, get people into reading. She understands it can be hard for teens because they have so many other things to do, reading isn't really on their minds. In reality, reading can be a gateway to many things. Her projects include teens coming up with music/art to relate to books.

Malorie said children's fiction is lacking compared to adults'. She believes children's fiction needs more diversity. There's also not many translations.

She also spoke on book restrictions after a question from the audience came on books in prisons. She said restricting books is a short sighted policy. She was referring to governmentally sanctioned no more than 12 books per cell in open prisons (2-3 in closed ones).  She pointed out prisons have very low literacy levels and taking away books isn't helping that cause at all, only furthers it for after the inmates are released. She believes prisoners should be given more books so they can read more, maybe even reduce illiteracy.

She also talked about inspiration for her own works. She said she's inspired both by good and bad books. Good because she wants to reach that same level, and bad ones because it gives you inspiration to do better. She drew inspiration from Chrnicles of Narnia, myths and legends, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Agatha Christie etc. A lot of different genres. She said librarians often helped her find amazing books and that's why she believes calling librarians 'shelfstackers' is an insult.

Talking about her writing, she said a good editor is worth their weight in gold. They can bring fresh eyes to the novel, and honesty. You can really trust their opinion. Personally, she goes through books 8 or 9 times and turns to her editor every time she needs help.

After the talk we all lined up for signatures and some lucky people even got pictures. Leah and I however left without one. We hurried upstairs to another event by Malorie, 'Why YA? With Watersone's Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman'. We scored first row seats yet again and patiently waited for the speech.

Leah, Malorie and I
Malorie arrived after she was done signing downstairs, but her talk will be summed up on Uncorked Thoughts in due time, so make sure you check it out because it was really interesting. After the talk we actually managed to get a picture with Malorie, so our day was complete!

We also got to chat about books with Sabrina. We met her at the fair at Malorie's event and went all Potter crazy on her. Can you believe she hasn't read HP series?! Go tell her she must asap because I don't think she understood mine and Leah's urges well enough!

Our next and last event of the day was 'New Approaches to Children's Book  Events' in Old Press Centre. Speakers were Lauren Ace, Katherine Woodfine and Chris Denyer. They talked about children's book events, from making them to their favorites. The talk will be up on Leah's blog, I'm sure, because that was more her area than mine. But I still loved hearing about it, seemed like fun for everyone involved - creators, authors and their audience.

At the last event we also met Charnell from Reviews From a Bookworm and we had a nice chat about books and blogging. It was so nice to meet a fellow blogger, and in such an unplanned way as well! She's a really nice and kind person so go give her blog a peek! She also told us about the Oxfam shop we eventually visited after the fair together.

After that seminar I was planning to go to 'What to expect from an Editor' in Author HQ but we were already late, missed about half of it just coming downstairs to the main fair area, so I let it pass. Before we made it to the event stall it'd be over since it was all the way across the fair in the second half of the building. So we just went around, looking at books and other paraphernalia.

After a frekout over a The Hobbit book at HarperCollins stall, I was gifted The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Ultimate Sticker Book. And if you think it's silly and I am too old, you can shut it right now. I am super excited to solve the quizzes and paste some stickers! Thank you HarperCollins!

Soon, Leah and I met up with Charnell again and wandered the fair a little together. We went to a few stalls - a lot of those were already closing down and being packed up - and Leah took us to Angry Robot stall, to the company she interned with recently. We met mister boss man Marc Gascoigne which was kind of an intimidating though for about 5 seconds before he proved to be a very kind person. We chatted a bit and he supplied us all with some books. I got three I wanted to read for a while now - The Mad Scientist's Daughter, The Assassin's Curse and Emilie and the Hollow World. Thank you so much, Angry Robot!

At the Earls Court tube station.
That about concluded the fair for us. I was really sad to go but it was all coming apart anyway and it would be silly to stay. It would probably also make me even more sad... So we decided to just go after the Oxfam shop. Leah and I still had some time before we met with Leah's partner who was in London with us as well, so we let Charnell lead us to Oxfam shop. We weren't sure if it's open past 5 pm so we were actually walking like maniacs last few streets, almost running to the door, only to find out it was open for another hour. I may have left my lungs a few streets down by the tube exit.

Inside, however, it was all about books, so I forgot about the chest pains pretty fast. We started browsing and I was pleased to see some of the newer titles on the shelves as well. In the end, I reminded myself I am carrying 5 books at that moment and shopping for more, and that I have 12 more at the hotel. Somehow I was supposed to bring them all home. Still, it didn't stop me from buying a copy of Mother, Mother.

After the shop we said goodbye to Charnell and quickly met up with Phill. We went in search for food, deciding on Nando's (something else Leah introduced me to and it was delicious!). We wandered down Oxford street but could barely enjoy it - it was absolutely packed! We did go to Primark because I think that's like a must when there, but we didn't last long. After buying a few gifts, we were out like the wind. It was also packed to the brim and I wasn't able to buy much with my case full already anyhow.

Coming back to the hotel we were pretty shattered. Not to mention I was supposed to pack to leave already. I had my plane at 7.20 am on Friday which was absolutely brutal, and what followed were some of the most tense hours of my life. Looking back on them I can only laugh, but back in London it caused some interesting toilet moments.

Day 5 - Leaving
We were supposed to go to sleep early so we'd be able to get up at 2.15 am. Leah and Phill were supposed to walk me to the bus (I was naively hoping I'll ride the tube but apparently it's closed during the night. I had a slight freakout before Phill found me two night buses that would take me to Stratford for my airport ride). Thanks for that, Phill! Saved me like two toilet trips...

I wish I knew how close we were to Victoria station because I booked the Stratford (that's VERY far from Fulham) bus at home way back in January or so, so I would have a definite ride to the airport. I didn't want to miss the flight despite my wish to stay in London.

2.15 came very fast, and I didn't even sleep until then. I was so nervous about missing the bus because then I'd miss the other bus, and then the next one as well... I was a mess and I was actually glad to get myself back in gear before I started repeating all the bad scenarios in my mind over and over again.

Leah and Phill walked me to the bus around 3 am, and I didn't even have a chance to say a proper goodbye because the bus came early. That was probably good because I'd just dissolve into a bigger sobbing mess... I did have a few meltdowns later on, missing Leah the moment the doubledecker appeared (and still going on...) but I had to shuffle on the bus fast or I'd have to stay. Not that I'd mind too much!

We rode the streets for close to 45 minutes, all through the richest parts of London. It was almost completely empty but draped in lights, so I was totally in awe. I calmed down for a few moments because everything was so pretty.

I arrived at Euston station shortly before 4 am and hurried to the station. I had my Oyster card empty and no idea where to stand! I was back to a mess again. I finally found the right platform when I noticed the message the bus I was supposed to take and a few others would be leaving from platform A (while I was on like H or something...). I ran all the way to A, with my laden suitcase (that actually carried 17 books successfully!) in tow, just to not see any notices at that stop. Deciding to wait for the bus somewhere in the middle, I had to run back to H or whatever it was when the bus came. Luckily, the driver saw me and waited (and I just kept repeating to myself how glad I am nobody knows me). My Oyster cleared which was another nice surprise, and I settled in for another 45-minute drive to Stratford.

On the bus, I met three other Slovenians that were going back home on the same flight, but they left a few stops before me. After we finally reached my destination, I was lost again. We came a different way than I expected and that totally threw me off. Not to mention it was almost 5 am and I was up for hours, a bit hungry, very nauseated and super nervous. Luckily for me, the driver saw my super obvious tourist panic and directed me to my next bus. I came just in time to catch a breath before we were off.

I was finally en route to the airport, after 2 hours of London sight-seeing at night. I was so relieved I drifted off to sleep and woke just as we were arriving at the airport. I had another panic attack at the unloading as my case seemed to disappear. Now the case wasn't mine (on top it all!), but the contents were, and I was mostly worried for my books. Also ID and plane ticket, but mostly books. I found it soon after, as it slid on the other side and hid from view, so I had to climb into the bus underbelly and get it out.

After that, I was at the leaving gate really fast. I was nicely frisked on my way there because my boots beeped, and it made me realize older women aren't my taste all that much. Besides that, my crazy adventures were finally over. I fell asleep on the plane as well and overslept entire ride. I woke up as we were landing which made it all a very short trip back home.

Arriving at the house, first thing I did was ate, then slept, bust mostly nursed a London hangover for a week. Still do a bit. You can tell I had a lot happen to me. I was so tired I could sleep for a week but I'd do it all again in a blink of an eye!


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.
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