It was announced recently that the sequel to Ready Player One will be released on November this year. I can’t say that I’m too excited by the news. I found the book really annoying and thought the film was kind of dull. I think it’s a problem with all novels that rely too heavily on their pop culture references. For one thing, I think it shows a lack of imagination and writing ability. For another, I think it’s a really lazy way of getting your readers onside. It’s using nostalgia to create engagement instead of a captivating story or developed characters. I’d go so far as to say that Ernest Cline’s YA novel made me quite angry. So angry that I’ve really stopped trusting any book that uses popular culture to draw people in. Which means that Slay wasn’t a natural choice for me to start reading. It’s a YA novel about an online video game and it’s really pushing the Black Panther connection. Writer Brittney Morris was inspired by the movie to write her first novel. Something she apparently accomplished in 11 days. But would it read like an 11-day long composition or would it actually make up for the wounds left by Cline? There was only one way to find out.
I must have first read this book just after it was published but, honestly, I don’t remember much about it. I don’t think I really paid attention to it. I was a bad reader in those days. There are plenty of books series that I started but didn’t really take in. I think I was just reading for the sake of it. So, I never really had that great awakening thanks to Malorie Blackman. It’s a book that I always wanted to read again and give a better go. It also helped that the BBC adaptation was coming out and I didn’t want to watch it until I’d reread it. Of course, it got pushed back thanks to my ever-increasing TBR but the recent Black Lives Matters protests have pushed all books about race to the top. I figured this would be a relevant and quick read. As anyone who has ever read my review of The Power will know, I’m not always a fan of role reversal narratives. A lot of the time, they can be a bit cringe and heavy-handed. But this is one of those books that everyone loves. I went in expecting to enjoy it.
It’s been a really long time since I last posted a Friday Favourites list. To be honest, the series was getting tough and I was bored with it. I couldn’t think of interesting ideas and it was taking me too long to write them. So, I decided to scrap it. I was intending to come up with something different to post but it never happened. In light of the recent protests surrounding race discrimination, I decided to bring it back to life once again. I know that I don’t have a particularly big platform or that I have the ability to influence someone’s decisions. However, I have been lucky enough to be born with a privilege that many people don’t have. I have a voice and I need to use it. Last week, I posted a few suggestions for ways people could learn more about the things that the Black Lives Matter movement is marching for. To learn more about the systemic racism that exists in our society. It should not be up to black people to tell us what to do or how to do it. They’ve been doing the work for us for too long. So, I did something. I wanted to know what I had missed and what I needed to know. And, to help people in the same boat, I thought I’d share it. Hopefully, it can give other people some ideas.
In my time writing this blog, I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of great new people. I’ve been introduced to some fantastic writers and been given opportunities to read some amazing books. One of the greatest of these new connections has been with Alexis Marie Chute. Back in January 2018, I was given the chance to help reveal the cover of her first novel, Above the Star. Since then, I’ve had the chance to read every book in the series and loved each of them. The final book in the trilogy, Inside the Sun, came out in April. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic caused disruption to the book tour. When Alexis Marie rearranged the tour to be a virtual one, I jumped at the chance to become one of the stops. I sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable recommending books to people because I think it’s quite a personal thing. Our tastes are all so different and I don’t ever like forcing my opinions on people. But, I’m incredibly passionate about this trilogy. If you’re looking for something to start up during quarantine, The 8th Island Trilogy could definitely be the one for you.
I’m not the kind of book blogger who desperately tries to get free stuff. I’m in a lucky enough position to be able to buy books for myself or, if I need to, I still have access to a library. That said, I like helping out authors who ask me to help out. Promoting your book is a huge job so if I can help out then I will. One of the best things to come out of my blog in the last few years is being able to work with writers. Alexis Marie Chute first approached me to help reveal the cover of the first book in her YA trilogy Above the Star. I was beyond grateful for the opportunity and agreed without a second thought. The book sounded incredible and I was excited to introduce my followers to it. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of reading and helping to promote the books on social media. I loved the first book and was super excited to read the second book, Below the Moon. So, when I also offered the chance to get a copy, the final book became one of my most anticipated books of 2020.
Once again, I got cocky with my reading. I posted my review of My Sister, The Serial Killer on Monday thinking that I’d have no trouble finishing the book that I was currently reading. Cut to tonight and I’m madly trying to finish this novel so I can get this post written. I’m not sure why I picked up this book. It’s a YA crime thriller and I don’t exactly have a great history with them. I’m still haunted by One Of Us Is Lying and it’s been ages. But I found a copy of this for £3.99 and I was feeling reckless. What could go wrong? I guess it also spoke to me on a personal level. For my A-Level history coursework, I had set out to try and solve the murder of Thomas Becket. Yep, 17-year-old me had decided that I had what it took to decide who, other than the king, had organised the murder the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was an idiot and quickly realised that it was a stupid idea. I still wrote about it but in a much more vague and analytical way. It wasn’t my best work. I’m not a great historian. But, I at least had a connection to the main character in this book. Even though she would surely succeed where I failed.
I picked up this book because it claimed to be perfect for fans of Black Mirror. Now, being a fan of all things Charlie Brooker, I decided to give it a go. I mean, it calls itself a “taut psychological thriller about obsession, fame and betrayal”. How can you ignore claims like that? When I picked it up, I hadn’t realised that it was a YA book. I’d not read anything from Tom Pollock and I never really look into the books that sound interesting to me. So, I started reading what I thought was an adult book and I hated it. I thought it was super shit. Then I realised who this book was intended for and I realised I had to look at it differently. Turns out, once I lowered my expectations, I found it much easier to read this book and I got through it super quickly.
It’s been a while since I read and reviewed Above the Star the first in Alexis Marie Chute’s Young Adult fantasy trilogy. In an ideal world, I would have reread it before reading the second but, unfortunately, I didn’t have it on me. I’ve been forcing everyone I know to read it because I absolutely loved it. I’m always a bit scared of recommending books that I love to people because, well, what do you do if they hate them? You either have to reevaluate your literary choices or your friend choices. And, let’s be honest, books are going to win every time. But I do make an exception when I think a book is good enough. And I definitely thought that Above the Star was good enough. It was one of my favourite reads of last year and I’ve been eagerly awaiting news of the second book’s release. Luckily for me, Alexis Marie Chute offered to send me an ARC copy so I didn’t even have to wait for the actual release date in October this year. I already had about 3 books on the go when this arrived but I knew I had to start it immediately. And I was hooked from the start. If it hadn’t been for my inconsiderate niece deciding to be born early, I would have finished and reviewed it weeks ago.
I’ve had this book sat in my NetGalley account for a while now and, as I’m trying to get better at sending my feedback, I decided it was finally time to read it. This was one of those books that sounded like a really interesting read. I don’t tend to read much fantasy these days and I tend to particularly avoid fantasy for younger readers. It’s the kind of genre that can be done so well but, on the flip side, just be turned into a horrible stereotype of things gone before. There is a fine line between creating a brilliant fantasy world and just shoving a load of random letters together to get a magical sounding city name. But, despite my misgivings, I’m always willing to give the genre a chance and this one sounded interesting.
I want to start this TBT post by saying that, no matter how much fun it was discovering films from 1988, I’m so fucking happy that my Throwback Thirty series is over. The problem with watching films for this blog is that, more often than not, I don’t get to watch the films that I want to. It can be a bit of pain having a craving to watch something but having to put it permanently on hold to watch a shitty film from 1988. However, there was a part of my that really liked having a themed TBT series. So, I was all ready to start a new series in which I go back a re-review films that I’ve already written about on the blog. (Which, as it turns out, is something of a fuckload.) I thought it might be interesting to compare my feelings then and now. But, I’m not sure if it’s actually a thing worth doing so, disclaimer, I might very well abandon it in the next few weeks and just review films I haven’t done before. But for now, and partly because the New Year is about reflecting as much as it about looking forwards (thank you Janus), I’m going to get all nostalgic and go back to the start.