Tuesday, 24 July 2018

This book tag was created by the wonderful people at Chapter Chicks. It looked interesting so I thought I'd give it a go (FYI I've decided to skip question 17 as it is about filming and so doesn't really apply to me!) Let's get this started!

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
Nope, I actually love reading in the car or on long journeys. When I used to go on holidays with my parents I would bring about 6-10 books for the long car journey alone depending on how far we were going. It was genuinely one of my favourite things to do and I always looked forward to these journeys.

2. Which author's writing style is completely unique to you and why?
Brandon Sanderson. Every single one of his books that I've read feels like a Brandon Sanderson book. His writing still is incredibly unique and his endings are probably some of the most epic I've ever read.

3. Harry Potter or Twilight Saga. Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Harry Potter series. I did like the Twilight Saga when I was about 14-15 because it was such a new genre for me and so fast-paced but I'd struggle to read it now in the same way that I did then because I've changed so much in 11 years. So...
1. Harry Potter is my childhood and I just have so many nostalgic moments of reading these books for the first time.
2. Harry Potter had so many plots twists that carried over the seven books that were just incredible.
3. It still holds up to the same standard when I read it now as it did when I was eight.

4. Do you carry a book bag?
I carry a bag... which always has a book in it. Does that count? 

5. Do you smell your books?
Is it weird to say yes?

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
I'm happy either way, but it's always nice to read a huge fantasy book which has small illustrations here and there to enrich the world (for example, like  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell).

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn't quality writing?
I think the most obvious answer to this is Twilight (as I mentioned in question 3) or The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris D'Lacey. I'm really struggling to think of anything else I've re-read and found lacking a second time around. There are some other books I loved as a child but when I've read them as an adult I've struggled to enjoy them as much, but that's not the same as the quality of writing not being great.

8. Do you have funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
I can't think of any funny stories in particular. One that comes to mind was when the fifth Harry Potter book came out so my mum bought my sister and I a copy. We were supposed to 'share' it but were both so eager to read that we kept fighting over it instead. Probably one of the few arguments we've ended up having!

9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
I have over a thousand books so I might end up getting this wrong but, after looking around, I think it's The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway which is only 25 pages long!

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
This was a bit easier to find as I only have about 15 books over 1000 pages. I think it's The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas which is 1462 pages.

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as  being an author?
I do, but sadly nowhere near as much as I used to. I need to get back into a routine with it again. Fingers crossed I can soon! My main issue is that I've needed a new laptop for the past three years and haven't been able to afford one so once I get that, I'll find it easier to write on the go.

12. When did you get into reading?
I've been into reading since I could physically read. My mum read to me until I was old enough to do so myself and she instilled a love of reading into me which i'm forever grateful for. We would go to the library together every two weeks on a Saturday which was one of my favourite things to do. My favourite authors as a child were Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, and Erin Hunter. There are many others of course and I think it goes without saying that J.K. Rowling was later added to this list!

13. What is you favourite classic book?
 I actually have quite a few favourite classics so I'm going to name my top five instead:
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
2. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
4. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
5. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

14. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?
Yes, I loved English! I got 100% at GCSE in both Language and Literature and studied English and American Literature at University where I got a first! My other favourite subject was History.

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated... what would you do?
I would probably say thank you and give the book to someone I know who would like it. I'd probably tell the person who gave it to me a bit later on that I didn't enjoy it as much as I though I would.

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
Hmm... Harry Potter and the Hunger Games are so different so I assume this means other Middle-Grade/YA books that are good but not as popular? I'd say The Novice by Taran Matharu or the Gone series by Michael Grant.

17. What is your favourite word?

18. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or, all of the above?
Pffft probably all of the above.

19. Vampires or fairies? Why?
Vampires. I've never actually read a book that's fully sold me on fairies, but I've read a lot of awesome vampire books. Also Buffy. Buffy made me love vampires more than I already did.

20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Going to go with Shapeshifters for this one. Again, not read many great angel books (other than the Northern Lights trilogy). I love shapeshifters especially ones that take on animal forms. One of my favourite urban fantasies is the Stray series by Rachel Vincent which pretty much revolves around this idea. 

21. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Okay, this one is tougher. Probably spirits? Although I've never really been sold on either to be honest.

22. Zombies or Vampires? Why?
Again, vampires of course. Literally never been remotely interested in the 'zombie craze' that seemed to happen over the past 10 years or so. The only zombie film I've watched is Shaun of the Dead (and I think I mostly enjoyed it because it's a comedy/parody).

23. Love triangle or forbidden love?
This question is super easy for me because I really don't like the 'typical' love triangles that are found in books. Love triangles seem to only exist in YA fiction (at least I've never seen the same kind of 'love triangle' in adult fiction). I basically find love triangles one of the most unrealistic tropes that is used to cause drama and conflict for the sake of plot. Maybe it was just me who went through my teen years never seeing anyone around me getting into love triangle situations even though every book I read seemed to say that I should be? Either way, I do enjoy the forbidden love trope but I'm not massively into romance.

24. AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Given my answer to the last question, this one should be pretty obvious. I much prefer the majority of my books to be action-packed with a bit of romance here and there. I don't mind the occasional full on romance book but they're definitely not my favourite genre.

Those are my answers for the Ultimate Book Tag! Let me know if you've done this tag and link it below if you have!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW | Billionaire's Banquet by Ron Butlin

Genre: Literary Fiction/Humour

Publication Date: 15th April 2017

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads Page

Link to Buy: Amazon

Goodreads Summary:

1985, Edinburgh. Thatcher's policies are biting deep - fat cats and street kids, lovers, losers and the rest struggle to survive. Hume sets up a business catering for the rich and their ever-growing appetites. But by the new millennium, these appetites have become too demanding.

Powerful, challenging and very funny, Billionaires' Banquet is an immortality tale for the 21st century.

About Ron Butlin

With an international reputation as a prize-winning novelist, RON BUTLIN is a former Edinburgh Makar/Poet Laureate. Now over to Ron -

Before becoming a writer, I was a pop-song lyricist (3 records and a brief appearance in a justly-neglected film. I was also a footman attending parties for the great and good, the rich and bad (see my forthcoming novel 'Billionaire's Banquet'), a barnacle-scraper on the Thames and a male model. My work has been widely translated, and 'The Sound of My Voice' has been twice been awarded a ‘Best Foreign Novel’ prize as well been made into a film, a rather short film.
I am a novelist, poet, children's author, opera librettist, playwright - one of these, on a good day. I have been auctioned twice for charity, and put in a cage outside parliament for The Day of the Imprisoned Writer. All very character-building. I have given readings world-wide including at the House of Lords, John Knoz's pulpit in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, and an Arab tent in Bahrain.

I live in Edinburgh with my wife, the writer Regi Claire, and our dog (Note - Nessie, as she's called in the book, features in my first novel for early teens, 'Steve & FranDan Take on the World' which is due out this spring. She is great fun on paper and in real life).

**No Spoilers**

I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour with Love Books Group for Billionaire's Banquet by Ron Butlin today and to have a spoiler-free review of the book to share. Thanks so much to the lovely Kelly from Love Books Group for sending me a copy of this book to review!

This book is a humorous literary fiction novel that follows an interesting group of Edinburgh students living in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s: Hume, Cat, St Francis, DD and Electric Boy. All of them are dreaming of wonderful futures they think their lives will hold, while in the present they are enjoying the drink, fun, and shared accommodation of their youth. This is a very character-driven story and focuses mostly on their dreams and hopes. I loved Butlin's characters, they were so three-dimensional and well created. They were all equally flawed but also fascinating to follow. I especially enjoyed the female characters in the book as they were so vastly different and always reacted as I expected them to. Butlin is great at making a social commentary using his characters and that can be seen throughout this book.

One thing that I didn't expect, but still absolutely loved, with this book is the jump to present-day Edinburgh. It was so interesting to see the characters so many years later and to see how much the city and its inhabitants changed (or didn't change) in that time. There is so much dark humour woven within the story as it portrays the measures of 'success' through wealth and how the characters see themselves.

Having only been to Edinburgh a couple of times in my life, I wasn't able to fully appreciate the setting as much as I'd hoped. However, Butlin does create a vivid picture of many areas in the city and I found myself frequently looking them up to see where the characters were in relation to what I knew. I'm sure someone who knows Edinburgh more than me would really appreciate Butlin's beautiful descriptions of the city.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I found the characters to be incredibly engaging and the story kept me hooked as I wanted to know what happened next. I found this to be very reminiscent of The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst so I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who was a fan of that! I will warn that there is explicit content in this book so if you're younger then please be aware of that!