BrizzleLass Does GollanczFest 2017 #GollanczFest @Gollancz

Considering I was in London last week for ComicCon, I must have lost my mind when I booked tickets for GollanczFest, crawling out of bed at 6am to get myself ready… i.e. to not look like the zombie I emerged from bed as was not fun. I don’t do early mornings, never have, never will. After last week’s debacle with the buses (2hrs to get to the train station…longer than the train takes to get to London…I kid you not!) I decided to drive and park at the station, it’s not too busy, especially at the ass crack of dawn.

As I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo I spent the train journey writing and managed to smash through my word target, which I’m a tad proud of given how tired I was. I will probably read through it today and find it’s all nonsense though!

I arrive at Foyles on Charing Cross Road, also known as heaven in the centre of London. Someone, please tell me how I didn’t know the place existed? For those who knew Borders (remember them?) in Bristol, it had 2(?) fairly big floors, and honestly, I thought it was the bee’s knees. I was there almost every week, I had a favourite spot I would curl up with a book before I bought it. Well, this Foyles was like that Borders on speed. It was freaking massive. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I’m really showing myself as a country bumpkin here but honestly so absolutely huge. Over 5 floors and just books everywhere. Now I am down with small and cosy indie stores, I love them. But this place is also my alternative idea of perfection for a bookstore, the Foyles in Bristol is so naff I literally never go there. Anyway, I digress.

When we arrive we get a tote back with some goodies in, some samplers which I will read very soon, and probably end up ordering some new books! The tote itself is going to the top of my tote pile (you know I’m obsessed with tote’s right?)

I managed to get a really good seat and was sat next to some lovely people who had also travelled alone, the four of us actually spent the whole day chatting and talking books, sci-fi, fantasy, and all manner of geekery. Exchanging social media sites before we parted ways to go back to our four corners of the country (literally) at the end of the day.

And so the panels begin… I tried to catch some of my favourite quotes through the day, didn’t want to spend all day writing everything everyone said down, plus the blog post would be HUGE if I’d done that! There were so many laughs through the day, a few political arguments and a few death matches which were taken probably a little too seriously by some!

I’ve taken panel titles/info from the programme for accuracy

Panel 1 – Who You Gonna Call? Ghostwriters
Our panellists discuss the things that go bump in the night.

Ben Aaronovitch
Joanne M. Harris
AK Benedict
Catriona Ward
Joe Hill
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commisioning Editor

Discussing why we like ghost stories, why they write ghost stories and what it is about ghost stories that kees us coming back again and again.

Catriona – finds ghost stories weirdly comforting

Joe – ghosts are the only supernatural creature every one in this room knows actually exists.

AK – ghost stories are temporary exorcisms of what is haunting you.

Joanne – ghosts represent what we can’t explain.

Panel 2 – The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades: New Advances in Science (Fiction)
How will life change over the next few decades and how will it feature in science fiction?

Justina Robson
Christopher Priest
Gavin Smith
Al Robertson
Tricia Sullivan
Moderator: Richard Edwards (SFX Magazine)

A really interesting discussion around how science affects science fiction and if authors need to be scientific or scientists to write the genre.

Justina – you only have to understand it [science] to the level you want to explain it in your book.

Al – One of the biggest changes is to keep the science out of it.

Gavin – Trying to predict the future is a waste of time.

Tricia – Science Fiction didn’t predict social changes like the pill. How different would this room look if women were still tied to their homes?

Panel 3 – Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Art, Music, Mythology & Magic: The Inspirations Behind It All
Join our panellists as they talk about other books, other art and how they feed into their own ideas

Suzanne McLeod
Tom Toner
Tom Lloyd
Bradley Beaulieu
Mark Barrowcliffe
Moderator: Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director

The panel talked about where they find inspiration, what it means to get ideas and write genre fiction.

Bradley – The muse doesn’t come you have to write

Tom T – Two cups of coffee and stand in the shower…loads of ideas

Mark – It’s really odd when a character pops out and says no this is my book

Tom T – I just wanna describe cool planets and cool stuff and monsters on the planet…characters get in the way

Gillian asks: What’s the worst thing your character has ever done to you…in Tom’s case I guess it’s exist?
Tom responded: ….They just get in the way

Panel 4 – The Utopian Ideal: Writing The Future You’d Like To Live In
Our panellists discuss why every utopia isn’t always a dystopa, and how SF can explore the future optimistically as well as realistically.

Antonia Honeywell
Stephen Deas
Adam Roberts
Jaine Fenn
Edward Cox
Moderator: Mark Stay, Online Sales Manager

I will admit that I don’t think I’ve read anything from the Utopia genre, this was a really interesting panel and I was super impressed with Antonia who not only talked eloquently about her own book but was passionate about politics and the state of our world and I agreed with everything she had to say, so I bought her book so that it’s the first(?) book I read in this genre.

Antonia – You can only create that ideal world by having one to get away from.

Edward – Trump saw Threads and thought there you go there’s a model for office.

Panel 5 – Choose Your Weapons Wisely: The Best Way To Defeat Your Demons
Our panellists debate (mostly non-violently) weapons in fantasy.

Elizabeth May
Chris Wooding
Ed McDonald
Aliette de Bodard
Kristen Ciccarelli
Moderator: Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director

Author Death Match time, pick a weapon, any weapon then battle it out, there can only be one winner!

There were landmines, seven bells, a flamethrower, a battle spaceship, and a cursed horseshoe! You can imagine how it went down!

Panel 6 – Enduring Science Fiction: How Do Stories Survice When Science Catches Up With Fiction
Our authors discuss what it’s like to write in a world progressing faster than the world you’re reading right now

Simon Morden
Pat Cadigan
Paul McAuley
Alastair Reynolds
Ian McDonald
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commissioning Editor

Fantastic discussion around how science fiction ages, what happens when people have written about things that do end up happening and what happens when predictions are way off the mark.

Pat – I always like playing chicken with the future

Paul – You don’t have to make up anything any more

Ian – Science Fiction is to Science what truthiness is to truth

Simon – [having chosen Farenheit 451 as a lasting book] …the idea that word’s in books are dangerous.
Pat – No they’re Fake News.

Panel 7 – The Monster Mash: Four Monsters, Four Authors, One Winner…You Decide
Yes, exactly what it sounds like.

Joe Hill
Joanne M. Harris
Kristen Ciccarelli
Jon Wallace
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commissioning EditorJennifer McMenemy, Marketing Manager

Jon picks – the Babadook
Joanne picks – the Boggart
Kristen picks – a Dragon

Joe – Good choices, I wonder which will come in Second

Joe picks – The Thing

And so begins the fight. Joe was hilarious and I’m fairly sure he was in debate club in high school. The others fought hard and had excellent arguments, well all except one who didn’t do well convincing the audience, when the vote was cast that particular author had one person vote for them. I will let you guess who won… 😉 I’ll maybe tell you in my next weekly update.

I bought some more books, some I’ve already read in ebook and just wanted to get signed copies of others I wanted to pick up to add to that groaning TBR! I’m particularly fond of the crow that Ed McDonald drew in my copy of Blackwing…thanks Ed!

So that’s it. I made friends, got a pile of books that I have nowhere to put, and spent an awful lot of the day laughing. Next year is definitely going to be in the diary!

It’s My Blogiversary…So it’s #Giveaway Time!

Wow, it’s been two whole years since I posted my first book review! For those who don’t know my blogging journey is much longer and bigger than book blogging and I first started blogging in 2002, but I didn’t even consider book blogging until I posted my first book review two years ago! The review went down so well I started posting them regularly and eventually set up this dedicated blog where I moved all my posts to separate from my personal/mental health ramblings.

I really want to give something back to honour reaching two years so have grabbed some great prizes aswell as spoken to a few authors/publishers who have kindly donated some lovely prizes aswell. You can enter as many or as few giveaways as you want. I’ve marked which one’s are international and which one’s are UK only (for postage purposes…sorry).

The giveaways will stay open for two weeks and I will contact the winners once they have closed to arrange delivery of prizes.

Good luck to you all and thank you again to you all for all of your support.

The Last Days of Magic Book & Tarot Cards


Giveaway ButtonMark Tompkins author of this fabulous fantasy novel is kindly giving a paperback copy and a set of book-branded tarot cards. This is a wonderful prize and Mark is also happy to ship these worldwide so all of my readers can enter regardless of location.

If you want to know more about this book you can read my review here.

Caraval Novel & Goodies

(UK Only)

Giveaway ButtonStill need to read Caraval? This Giveaway is for you then! I have a copy of Caraval from the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, and for a runner up there is a Caraval goodie bag with a poster, ribbon, postcard, and bookmark. Caraval is a wonderful novel and a real pleasure to read even if you don’t normally read fantasy I still highly recommend it.

If you want to find out more you can read my review and the first chapter here.

Stationary & Candle Giveaway

(UK Only)

Giveaway ButtonMy final giveaway are some book themed goodies I’ve picked up from some favourite sellers. First prize is a stationary set from Bookishly, I think most of us are familiar with this lovely seller of all things book themed. I have pencils, a notepad, and a bookmark for the lucky winner of this giveaway. Second place wins a beautiful book themed candle from Book & Nook, if you haven’t checked them out before go see their store on Etsy, so much choice!

Review: Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

Quercus SummerI’m so pleased to be taking part in the Quercus Blogger Book Club this summer. Last Dance in Havana was my first book for the summer and if it is anything to go by it’s going to be a great summer of reading!

Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

Continue reading Review: Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

World Book Night – In Review

This was my first year signing up as a book giving volunteer for World Book Night. I had initially wanted to arrange to organise a giving event with a local youth charity who run a juice bar local to me. I was hoping to give the books out at the juice bar and talk to the local young people about reading and books. Unfortunately despite numerous attempts to speak to the charities organisers I had no luck getting a response.

So I switched to Plan B! I live in a very low-income area with over 53% of the housing in the area being social housing and 34% unemployment*, so books aren’t high on people’s priority list, our local library is unmanned and consists of a couple of shelves within the council office and it’s not inspiring!

Continue reading World Book Night – In Review