The Scorch Trials – James Dashner

book_214

** This post is not spoiler free**

Blurb: “Solving the maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to… Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, its people driven mad by an infection known as the flare. Instead of freedom, Thomas must face another trial. He must cross the scorch to once again save himself and his friends…”
So let’s start with a quick recap.
The Maze Runner ended with the surviving gladers getting rescued by rebels and brought to a safe haven after being told that the world has been devastated by an illness called “the flare.” The epilogue revealed that the rebel group may just be another variable in this “experiment” created by WICKED.

If you thought The Maze Runner was intense then buckle up my dear readers, because this one is a rollercoaster. Pretty much every chapter ends with some kind of cliff-hanger which makes you just have to read one… okay maybe six more chapters.

In The Scorch Trials, the gladers discover that they are not the only group WICKED have been experimenting on – there was another maze. They meet the other group (Group B) and quickly realise from tattoos that appear on their necks that they are facing another test. This is confirmed when a WICKED individual tells them they are entering phase two. The Scorch.  Basically the gladers have to go outside, into the scorch and find the safe haven in a certain amount of time. Sounds simple right? But why on earth would they willingly take part?

They don’t. If they stay they die… If they go… they need motivation. And boy does WICKED give it to them. They have been infected with the flare. The safe haven contains the only known cure.

Good things about this book: the second phase taking place outside the maze means that we get to see what little is left of the world. (yay for world building)

Not so good things: everything else.  A lot of serious shit goes down in this book. You thought the grievers were bad? JUST YOU WAIT!

The character that really stood out of me in this book is Minho. He really took on the role of leader and handled the situations better than I would have; I really liked seeing the growth of him and Thomas working together after the events of The Maze Runner. They made a really great team and it was interesting watching that grow throughout this book.

I didn’t expect this book to be as intense as it was but I was hooked.

The movie is out 18th September 2015 in the UK and I don’t know how they filmed this but it will be really interesting to see.

For more of my reading adventures follow my Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For bookish photographs, follow me on instagram: Charlottereadsthings

Strong Female Characters in Young Adult Fiction – What Are They and Why Do We Need Them?

“Screw writing ‘strong’ women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write women who kick ass. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anyone thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all these thing could exist in THE SAME WOMAN.”

I stumbled across this quote two years ago in the depths of Tumblr. Sadly, the origin is unknown. Ever since I discovered this quote it has stuck with me. As a Young Adult writer whose protagonists are primarily female, I’ve found myself sat in the planning stages of writing thinking “how can I make this character a strong woman?” But why is having a strong female character important? And why is there such a high demand for them?

You’re probably already thinking about some “strong” women in YA books you’ve read and due to the movie adaptations, I’m sure that Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games and Beatrice Prior from Divergent are among them. But what makes them strong? Is it Tris’ rebellion against the faction system? Katniss volunteering in place of her sister who is chosen for the games? I think everyone can agree that they are strong and when I posed this idea to fellow book blogger Bookbitchreviews he said that he thinks most people’s opinions would fall to “badass” female protagonists like Katniss and Tris. However, they’re not his idea of a strong character. He likes his female characters to be relatable:

“We constantly say that characters from the Fantasy of Dystopian genres are strong, and some of them are, but you can also get strong female characters in contemporary. Mia Hill from ‘If I Stay’ and ‘Where She Went’ is a great example. She’s lost the most important people in her life and may not survive herself, but while in her ‘out of body’ state, she’s there for the ones she loves. She’s fighting to come back. And the reason they’re so important to YA fiction is so that we can see ourselves in them. Most people I know who read and blog are shy in person, but while reading that book they’re not. They are fierce, they are powerful, they are independent.”

Kieran makes a fantastic point.
With the success of dystopian movie adaptations being the forefront of the Young Adult market, it’s just too easy to forget that women in YA contemporary can be “strong” too.

Tragedy

This links quite nicely onto Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. One thing I hate in YA fiction (and fiction in general for that matter) is that some kind of tragedy must have happened in order to make a woman strong. In this case, terminal cancer. Hazel is sixteen, living with stage 4 Thyroid cancer with metastasis and uses a phalanxifor to breathe. Does this automatically put her on the list of strong female characters? If she wasn’t fictitious I’m sure that those around her would use “strong” to describe her. But what makes her strong beside that? Is it how willingly she sticks by Issac when he goes blind? Or how she drives to a gas station in the middle of the night when she gets that horrific emotional phone call from Gus? Or is it simply her acceptance of the life she has been dealt? In the book’s narrative she is so matter of fact about her condition. She knows she’s going to die and she knows it will probably be soon and that her “parents won’t be parents” anymore.

Straying slightly from the path of YA fiction, another common character device used is the inability to have children. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we are subjected to some of Black Widow’s backstory. She is trained to be an assassin and at the “graduation ceremony” she is sterilized so that children won’t “interfere with future missions.” Black Widow then tells Bruce Banner that she’s a monster too. But why does this type of device make women strong when surely giving birth is strong too?

Another prime example is Tauriel in The Hobbit trilogy. I recently found out that she doesn’t exist in the books. So why make this addition? I personally felt like it was a breath of fresh air to have a woman, taking part in battles, in a male dominated film. However, the excitement this brought was quickly lost when it became clear that her main contribution to the plot was a love triangle between Legolas and Kili. Kili inevitably dies trying to save her, in that action she loses someone she loved. BOOM tragedy.

Relationships

Relationships are a part of life that most of us will experience. But when I put forward the question to several people if Bella Swan from the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer was a strong female character, most of them were unable to contain their laughter. When I posed this question to a close friend she said that she doesn’t think Bella is strong because everything she does is about Edward and her life seems to revolve around him: she’s constantly talking or thinking about him. Also, she’s so desperate to have sex with him that she even accepts his offer of “getting married and then trying.” However, my friend says that the only time she sees Bella as strong is when she becomes a vampire. But why is this? Is it because she’s no longer a fragile human? Or because she has an ability to control her hunger when Jasper doesn’t?

Rebellion

Naturally, we see the return of Katniss and Tris here. In The Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers for the games in place of her sister who is chosen from the reeping. When she makes it down to the last two alive, she plans to eat poisonous berries with Peeta so no one wins, sparking a rebellion in the districts. Katniss becomes the face of the movement. Her progress throughout the trilogy seems to undoubtedly earn her a place on the list of “strong women” because she demands change in an unfair world.

A similar situation is that of Beatrice in Divergent. The world is split into factions: Amity (valuing peace), Erudite (valuing Knowledge), Candor (valuing honesty), Dauntless (valuing bravery) and Abnegation (valuing selflessness). At sixteen, teenagers have to choose either to stay in their current faction or leave their family behind and change faction. They take an aptitude test which reveals the best faction choice for the,. Beatrice’s results reveal that she belongs to more than one faction making her “divergent” , a danger to society and the Erudite want them dead.. Much like in The Hunger Games  there is rebellion and and all out war. But is she strong because she carries on after she sees the death of her parents? Or is she strong for staying focused after discovering her brother’s betrayal? Or because she stands up against a broken system?

Flaws

When I asked Victoria Aveyard, author of Red Queen what she thinks makes a female protagonist strong, she said:

“Not necessarily good decisions, but decisions that are their own.”

I think we can all agree that the best characters are flawed. A flawed YA character that comes to mind for me is Tally Youngblood from Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. In this post-apocalyptic future society, teenagers upon reaching their sixteenth birthday undergo a surgery to make them “pretty.”
When Tally’s friend runs away to live in a refuge called The Smoke, the Doctor in charge of the surgery tells Tally she won’t have the operation until she finds the location of The Smoke and turns in the rebels. So Tally begins her adventure. But does making this flawed decision make her strong by sacrificing her only friend? Or does it make her selfish?

Change: Handling New Situations

Something any fictional character goes through at some point in their story is change. Author Kim Slater said that a strong women for her is “someone who ploughs through other people’s opinions to follow her heart and the path she had chosen.” She also told me that she believes strong female characters are important because “young readers can vicariously experience a tough journey and see that is it possible to survive it and come through it.”

Similarly, when I posed the question to Cait Reynolds, author of Downcast, she had this to say:

“I think that strong YA female characters are determined by how they deal with change – either when it is happening to them or whether they have had to make the change happen for themselves. Take Stephanie, for example, she is not a typically or traditionally strong character in the beginning of Downcast. But by the end of the book, because of all the changes that have happened to her and the changes she put in motion, she is stronger and better all around.”

Going back to Keiran’s point, I think flawed characters are the strongest because they’re not perfect. They mess up just like pople in the real world, and they have to deal with change just like us, and seeing that they can come out the other side, gives the reader hope.

Let me know your thoughts!

Victoria Aveyard is on Twitter

Cait Reynolds is on Twitter

Kim Slater is on Twitter

Check out Keiran’s Blog

Kieran is also on Twitter

Follow me on Twitter

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas Signing

**This post is spoiler free on ACOTAR and TOG series**

On one uneventful day I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a tweet from the wonderful Sarah J Maas. Three words in this tweet made my heart jump into my mouth: UK book tour. I quickly grabbed my phone and sent a text to my writer friend Jenny telling her that the possibility of us not going simply wasn’t a option. We booked tickets and the antagonising wait began.

I have to hang my head in shame here because despite getting A Court of Thorns and Roses the day of release, I hadn’t made it past page fifty (life just gets in the way sometimes). So the hour long car journey to Birmingham became half catching up with Jenny as I hadn’t seen her in a while, half reading the book. We arrived to Birmingham with no issues and went on a little adventure to bow down to the Waterstones store that was the venue for the signing. I got so excited by the “queue here for Sarah J Maas event” sign that I fell off the pavement and hurt my ankle. With an hour to go before it started, people were already queuing.

Jenny and I left enough time to eat so we went to my favourite eating place Wagamamas which again was a chance for us to catch up but quickly spiraled into trying to multi-task using chopsticks while reading the book (“Just one more chapter, I promise!” was uttered several times). I ate my Yasi Chan Han so fast due to the mixture of nerves and excitement I was feeling that soon after we paid the bill and made our way back to waterstones where the queue was now stretching around the side of the building. We joined the back and began reading again.

This was my third time at a book signing and honestly if you’re an avid book reader, nothing can compare to the feeling of being surrounded by people, all clutching copies of the book, who love it just as much as you do. Not only that but getting to meet the person behind the words, who strung those beautiful sentences together and created these characters that make you wish it were possible to jump into the book and hug them, is a feeling that there just simply aren’t enough words to do justice. Also, it provides a platform for you to talk to strangers about the book when talking to someone you don’t know might be unfathomable to you in any other situation.

When everyone took their seats the atmosphere was so intense as we stared at the stage where Sarah J Maas would soon make her appearance. When she did, she was greeted by applause and screams. The very timid looking Sarah said a quick hello and then took her seat for the interview part of the signing. I just want to point out that this was Sarah’s THIRD signing of the day and she still looked utterly flawless!

IMG_20150521_191631

For those who don’t know, ACOTAR is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a faerie lore twist. The interviewer asked Sarah what other fairy tales she would like to retell to which Sarah responded with The Little Mermaid but wasn’t down for ocean world building or figuring out how mermaid reproduction works (Sarah loves her sexy scenes).

Questions were asked over how Sarah came up with the character Celaena in Throne of Glass. She launched into a story about how in seventh grade (year 8 to us English people) she felt that you could either be a girly girl or a nerdy tomboy, but you couldn’t be both. She chose girly girl because she thought it was the cooler option and she stopped reading, pretended she was an airhead, and that she hated things like Indiana Jones until one day when she went “hang on, why can’t I paint my nails while watching Indiana Jones?” She liked the idea of creating a character who was badass but also had that “stereotypical” girly side. The idea for Celaena came from when Sarah was watching Disney’s Cinderella and laughing at the Duke’s over-the-top reaction to Cinderella leaving the ball. She thought about what would make the Duke’s reaction valid and joked that maybe Cinderella was an assassin and had left the ball because she’d just tried to kill the prince.

When the topic turned to her writing process she started off by saying “I write the boring shit to get to the sexy stuff” which resulted in several minutes of laughter from both Sarah and the audience. She said that she always has to write linear (beginning – middle – end) and that she has a playlist for each character and listens to that when she needs to get into their heads for a scene. She revealed that she has a mirror behind her computer so that she can act out her scenes using a batman voice, which led her on to say that she could never write in coffee shops or any other public place because she’d probably get thrown in jail.

Her advice to aspiring writers was “write as often as you can but remember that it’s important to go out and live your life. You can’t spend it shut away in a room, you need to get out there and talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Also, there are going to be people out there who tell you that writing isn’t realistic and you can’t make a career from it. Fuck them. Don’t listen to them.”

She then told a really touching story about how her parents were very against her writing and frequently told  her it was more of a hobby and she’d never make a living from it, yet when she rung her mother to tell her that Throne of Glass had made it onto the NY Times bestseller list, her mother said “I regret ever saying those things to you.” I found this so relatable because as a writer myself, I’ve had pretty much all of my family say these things to me, and despite finishing a degree in Creative Writing and English, working on a novel and trying to get a job in publishing, they still think writing is a silly pipe dream for me. So having an author like Sarah who is my total inspiration for writing YA Fantasy and seeing how far she’s come and that some people had traveled over three hours to see her, filled me with hope. And I actually had a little cry after meeting her because I got to tell her how much she inspires me.

I urge everyone who hasn’t yet, to read all of her books because they are just so rich and beautifully written that seriously, you’re missing out if you don’t. And if Sarah ever does an event near you, go to it. Meet other fans of the books, make friends, see how funny, charismatic and almost other-worldly Sarah is. You won’t regret it.

IMG_20150521_211511 IMG_20150521_205239

Check out Sarah J Maas on Twitter

Check out Throne of Glass on Goodreads

Check out A Court of Thorns and Roses on Goodreads

Check out Jenny on Twitter

Shadowhunters – Let’s Talk Casting!

This post was inspired by Bookbitchreviews discussion on his blog about casting for the new Shadowhunters TV show. So I thought I’d have a little discussion about it here.

First things first: the movie.

yay movie cast

When I first saw the movie I actually really enjoyed it, which seemed to be an unpopular opinion as most fans thought it was really mediocre. I didn’t. Until about the fifth time I watched it. Don’t get me wrong, I can still watch and enjoy it, but now I’m fully aware that there is a lot wrong with it. I thought that Lily as Clary, Jamie as Jace and Kevin as Alec were perfect casting choices and they really stood out for me. However, the other actors (mainly Jemima as Isabelle) were below par and brought the cast down. Not to mention some of the dialogue was just really cringy. I also feel like, even with it being a feature length movie, the world wasn’t explored enough. So much was just brushed over that to someone who hasn’t read the books, they probably wouldn’t understand most of it. And the people behind the scenes at the film messed up the whole “Clary still having the cup at the end” and they included information from City of Ashes which rendered a possible sequel pointless.

But alas, the media gods have bestowed on us a second chance: a TV Show. Yes, you read that right. We are the fans that are lucky enough to get both. The pilot will be airing in January 2016 on ABC Family (the fact Pretty Little Liars is on there seems to be a big mixed talking point for fans) and the main cast have already started filming!

So let’s get on to the cast!

Clary Fray played by Katherine McNamara

Katherine McNamara

Reprising the lead role of Clary is Katherine McNamara. She’s mostly known for her role as Myra in the Disney Channel movie Girls vs Monster and will be playing Sonya in The Scorch Trials which is out in Cinemas later this year. A lot of questions have been raised over her hair as Clary’s is red. But relax my friends, hopefully she’ll dye her hair for the show or at least wear a wig. Also, with any book adaptation age is always an issue: the characters are normally way too old to pass for the real age of their characters. Katherine is nineteen, so that’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to Clary’s actual age in the books. Seeing her cast in this role filled me with confidence because, although I haven’t seen any of her acting, she just looks like Clary to me and I’m really interested to see how she brings Clary to life in the show.
Jace Wayland played by Dominic Sherwood

Dom Sherwood

Reprising the role of the sassy badass male lead Jace is Dominic Sherwood.

Again, I’ve not seen any of his acting but I am aware that he played Christian in Vampire Academy which is a book-to-film adaptation. So he’s aware of what to take from the book and apply to screen in terms of character, which is a good sign. I have to admit that I actually hurt my hand at this announcement because I hit my desk in excitement. This is Jace. Forget Jamie for a minute (although I loved him as Jace despite this dividing fans) why couldn’t we have had Dom in the movie adaptation? He just screams Jace to me and paired up with Katherine holy moly do we have two fantastic leads. I cannot wait to see if their chemistry matches up.

Simon Lewis played by Alberto Rosende

Alberto Rosende

Taking on the role of Clary’s bumbling best friend is Simon is Alberto Rosende.

In terms of background, he hasn’t done much of notable worth and I have to admit that this announcement didn’t excite me much, in fact, I had practically no reaction at all. But I’m putting this down to the fact that Simon is my least favourite in the series. This casting choice brought very mixed reviews out as fans either loved or hated Alberto. Issues of race were raised but I am all for diversity and from what was discussed
in abookutopia‘s video, a lot of plot things will be different anyway. ACCEPT THAT CHANGE PEOPLE! Also, Cassandra herself took to twitter to say that the only character who’s race is specifically mentioned in the books is Magnus, so it’s all down to your perception for the character.

Now moving on to the Lightwood characters.
Isabelle Lightwood played by Emeraude Toubia

emeraude tobia

Taking on the role of Isabelle is Emeraude Toubia who was announced at the same time as Alberto for Simon. Her background consists of small, one episode appearances in various shows but again nothing that makes her stand out. Except that my oh my is she attractive. The movie Isabelle completely fell apart for me because while obviously Isabelle in the books is quite reserved and clearly doesn’t like Clary that much, in the movie Jemima played her completely bland and emotionless leaving me feeling like she didn’t really care about the character at all: Even in the fight scene with the flame thrower she seemed really wooden. Emeraude looks like Isabelle to me. Again, more diversity in the mix but she just seems like attractive and innocent but like she could snap your neck if you get too close, which for me is what I want in Isabelle. It’s going to be interesting seeing how she bounces off Alberto in terms of their chemistry and how she works with her fabulous brother Mr Alec Lightwood.

Speaking of which….
Alec Lightwood played by Matthew Daddario

matthew daddario

I am sorry my dear readers, but I need to take a moment to compose myself so that I can remain coherent in this section *takes a step away from laptop to scream for several minutes and then breathe*

So here we have Matthew Daddario reprising the role of Alec Lightwood.
If you haven’t but guessed from my outburst, Alec is my favourite. So, minus Magnus I was most excited to see who would be playing him. I kept seeing trends on twitter for #whoisclary etc and I was sat there like “but I wanna know who Alec is” and now I do! (yay) His stand-out background appearances are Channing in Delivery man and Peter in Growing up and other Lies. I personally adored Kevin Zegers as Alec, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing his character and although the general consensus is that he was “too old” I thought he was perfect. As for issues with Matthew’s eye colour, there is a thing called contacts, if the show decide to go down that route. It’s going to be really hard to let him go and accept Matthew taking over the role so Matthew, if you’re reading this, DON’T MESS UP ALEC!
Luke Garroway played by Isaiah Mustafa

isaiah mustafa

Taking on the role of Clary’s father figure Luke is Isaiah Mustafa.

He’s had the odd roles in things but was actually a former NFL practice squad wide receiver. This announcement again didn’t spark much excitement because to me, Aidan Turner is Luke, but I guess sadly, it’s time to let him go.
Valentine Morgenstern played by Alan Van Sprang

CFEgUO3VAAATlHk

Our new baddie Valentine in the show is Alan Van Sprang. He’s mostly known for his role as Henry II in Reign and Sir Francis Bryan in The Tudors alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers who played Valentine in the movie. My response to seeing this photo was quite simply YES! There have been discussions over whether he will have blonde hair or not but personally, as long as we don’t get the dreadlocks, I’ll be happy. 

Now for the latest cast announcement. Introducing the high warlock of Brooklyn. Get your glitter ready!

Magnus Bane played by Harry Shum JR

jXuwU

I need to just… take another moment here… *walks away from laptop, runs around and jumps up and down screaming*

Here we have Harry Shum JR as Magnus Bane and oh my god am I excited. His prominent role has been Mike Chang in Glee for the past six years so this is a very different direction for him but I am just so ready for this. I enjoyed Godfrey as Magnus in the film but he just felt too old compared to how I pictured Magnus. Harry is the perfect age and look for this character. Also, massive kudos to the casting team for only auditioning asians for the role!

So there we have it, the announcements so far for the show. Obviously there are still a few more to come but they are minor characters in comparison.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Welcome To Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan

22428828

*spoiler warning: Don’t read this book or this review until you’ve finished City of Heavenly Fire*

Blurb: “After living as a mundane and a vampire, Simon never thought he would become a shadowhunter, but today he begins his training at Shadowhunter Academy.”

To my fellow Cassandra Clare/ The Mortal Instruments fans, I must raise my hands and ask your forgiveness. This is only the first in this new ebook series and I have only just gotten round to reading it (and there’s already more out, I’m so behind *sniff*). But, as I mentally promised myself, my review is finally here!

So a bit of backtracking  is in order. Simon had quite the adventure in City of Heavenly Fire. There were ups and downs with Isabelle, a big ass demon war, over the course of the series he went from mundane to rat to mundane to vampire to a mundane with memory loss. Then he was recruited to the shadowhunter academy. So brace yourselves for this one – if you asked who my least favourite character in the shadowhunter universe is, I would say Simon. However, in spite of that, he came out the other end of Heavenly Fire as one of my favourites. His character development was just beautiful.

I always wanted to know how the shadowhunters are trained and now, thanks to this series, I will finally get to know all the gory details! So there are two training groups: one for “the elite” and one for “the dregs” (elite= born shadowhunters, dregs= mundanes) since the academy is actually open to mundanes. We see Simon battling with the fact that he is known as a hero, but doesn’t remember anything he did (kind of like Harry Potter) so naturally, he feels like he doesn’t belong and that he’s in the wrong training group. That’s not the only memory related issue Simon faces in this book – obviously there’s Isabelle. When the will they/won’t they because a firm “they will” I was like FINALLY! But now he has no memories of Isabelle, that attraction just isn’t there from him. Sizzy fans, brace yourselves, there is a lot of feels in this one.

Another great thing about this book is getting to see Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan working together again.

Dates for the rest of the series

The Last Herondale – OUT NOW
The Whitechapel Fiend – OUT NOW
Nothing but Shadows – 19th May
The Evil We Love – 16th June
Pale Kings and Princes – 21st July
Bitter of Tongue – 18th August
The Fiery Trail – 15th September
Born To Endless Night – 20th October
Angels Twice Descending – 17th November

For more of my reading adventures follow my Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For bookish photographs, follow me on instagram: Charlottereadsthings

Very Good Lives – J.K.Rowling

23731881

Blurb: “When J.K.Rowling was invited to deliver the commencement address at Harvard University, she chose to speak to the graduating class about two topics very close to her heart: the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. Having the courage to fail, she said, is as vital to a good life as any conventional measure of success; imagining ourselves into the place of another – particularly someone less fortunate than ourselves – is a uniquely human quality to be nurtured at all costs.”

This book has fallen into my hands at such an important time in my life: I have just left University and in July I will have my graduation ceremony. Naturally, I’m searching for all the advice  I can get to handle myself in “the real world” after sixteen years in the education system. So, getting advice from the great J.K.Rowling? Sign me straight up!

Very Good Lives is a book version of Rowling’s 2008 commencement speech given at Harvard University, and sales of the book go to Lumos, an international charity founded by J.K.Rowling.  One of the things I love the most about this book is just how pretty it looks: the pages are decorated with beautiful artwork which made is such a pleasurable read. Most of all, it was really inspiring.

One fear I have – which I’m sure a lot of you reading this share too – is failure. This is a topic that Rowling talks about a lot, referring to her own experiences, but also talks about how it is impossible to avoid failure because of how life pans out. One thing she said really stood out to me:

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

It changed my outlook on failure. Rather than trying to avoid failure and give up living, I should embrace and learn from failure when I do face it.

Basically, it’s a wonderful little book showing that we are important, we should live for ourselves, not for others. And most importantly, we should use our incredible imaginations to create.

I recommend this to everyone going through an important milestone in their lives.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For bookish photographs follow me on instagram: charlottereadsthings

All I Know Now – Carrie Fletcher Book Signing

Yesterday I went on an adventure to Birmingham for the signing of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s book “All I Know Now” (click here for my review). I had never been to Birmingham before so I was excited at the prospect of getting to explore a new city. Naturally, I fell into several book stores. Some things never change. I also got to share this experience with my wonderful boyfriend.

The queue to get into the Waterstone’s was so long that it literally stretched around the outside of the building… and it was raining… and I didn’t bring an umbrella…
I love book signings simply for that fact that you are surrounded by people, clutching the same book as you, and they love it just as much as you do. It’s an indescribable feeling – I later discovered that 200 people had attended the signing. There were drinks and cupcakes on arrival along with rows and rows of chairs facing a stage on which Carrie would soon make her appearance.

Carrie walked out to cheers with a massive smile on her face, rocking a beautiful dress and her famous blond curls. The man giving the interview asked important questions such as if Carrie had intended for the All I Know Now blog to become a book, to which she replied that that was the dream but it becoming a reality was a “happy accident.” Author Giovanna Fletcher was given a mention when the interviewer asked if the sister-in-law had helped her with the writing process, and naturally, Carrie only had nice things to say. It was lovely seeing a closed up, clearly nervous Carrie become more relaxed, eliciting jokes which had the audience in fits of laughter. She then read a chapter from her book – “The Disgusting Business of Falling in Love.” As I listened, I was reminded of just how incredible human beings actually are.

She even treated the audience to some music. Donning her acoustic guitar, she belted out a cover of Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together and her original song Boys In Books Are Better.

IMG_20150508_195122

Then questions were opened up to the audience: aspiring theatre performers asked for audition advice, Once Upon A Time fans asked her about the show and her “ships”, which character she’d love to play on the West End now that her dream of playing older Eponine has been fulfilled (Her answers were Elphaba in Wicked and Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family). But the question that had Carrie flailing in her chair the most was “if you could bring one fictional character to life, who would it be and why?” – She never did give an answer.

So on to the actual signing!
My boyfriend and I joined the queue and while we waited, cupcakes were handed out (life doesn’t get much better than that!) Forty minutes later, we were at the front. Greeted with a smile, we handed our books over and had an opportunity to talk to her. I told her that I benefited most from her chapter about accepting yourself as I am a true criminal of the “you have to say that you’re my friend/boyfriend” statement whenever I’m complimented. I also told her that one of the things that kind of led to my boyfriend and I getting together was the fact that we both watch her videos. This made Carrie really excited and she called us “the hopeful couple.”

IMG_20150508_204647 IMG_20150509_104621

For more of my reading adventures, follow my Goodreads

For my writing adventures, follow my Twitter

For bookish photographs follow me on instagram: charlottereadsthings