Thursday, 30 June 2016

Five Awesome Books that Need Your Help: The Best of Kickstarter June 2016

Kickstarter is a great way for ordinary, creative people to crowd source money to help fund projects and publish them to the world. I initially heard about Kickstarter a few years ago as many video game developers and publishers were using the platform to gain millions of dollars to fund their games. Since then, a whole range of different categories have developed on the website. There is music, technology and most importantly (for me anyway) publishing.

How Kickstarter works is that each project sets a goal it has to reach within a certain time. The goals range from $10 to literally MILLIONS of dollars depending on the ambition of the creator. Fans or ‘Backers’ pledge money to help a project reach its goal. There are usually several different tiers, each of which is set at a different price point and normally, each tier has a special reward linked to it. 

These rewards are sometimes small, such as free artwork or they can be huge; gaining you special perks with whichever project you supported.  Kickstarter is a great way to support ‘indie’ publishers and usually if you are willing to wait a while, it is an excellent way to get a bargain.

So here are five awesome books that need your help to get published from June 2016. Some may have gained their goal by the time you read this. However, if you’d like to help the authors, please check out their Kickstarter pages!

1. Bastion of Sun, Matthew Wolf
This is the third book in Wolf’s Ronin Saga and I believe his third book to be Kickstarted. As Wolf says, the book is ‘Lord of the Rings meets the Knights of the Round Table’ with Japanese Samurai undertones flowing throughout the series. From his ‘pitch’ video, the novel sounds very intriguing for fantasy fans and the artwork from the book looks magnificent. If you’re interested in Bastion of Sun by Matthew Wolf then check out his Kickstarter here.


2. The Boy in the Castle, Inkylizard

I think this is the most unusual book in this list and the hardest for me to define.  The Boy in the Castle is a fairy tale picture book for all ages. The book is written by Scottish song writer Matt Johnston and illustrated by Katie Rebecca Siegle. A love story that tries to tackle and challenge the stigma around depression, The Boy in the Castle seems like a beautifully illustrated novel with much more depth than first appears. The artwork is wonderful and worth checking out even if you don’t want to support the book. Find Inkylizard’s Kickstarter here.


3. Delta Vol 1, Ryan Nichols
As you can probably guess from the title, Delta Vol 1 is a comic book. Based in a world created and neglected by a cruel God and with artwork from over 30 artists, Delta is packed full of unique characters and brutal stories. The thing that drew me to this comic was its range of different art styles and the huge variety of characters in the comic. In addition to the comic itself, the perks are pretty awesome too! If you pledge enough money you may be added as a character to the book. This is a great opportunity to get into a new and original comic book and if you’d like to learn more about Delta Vol 1 click here.


4. Angelarium: Book of Watchers, Peter Mohrbacher
This is the second book in the Angelarium series and boasts almost twice the content of the original book.  Angelarium is based thousands of years ago when angels came to Earth to help teach mankind. However, with their descent from the heavens, the angels also brought catastrophes no one could have foreseen. This book is a collection of amazing gothic-style artwork coupled alongside short stories and poems from the world Mohrbacher has created. Such a cool concept for a book! Find out more at Angelarium: Book of Watchers’ Kickstarter here.


5. Sherlock Holmes Re-Imagined, Steve Emecz
Perhaps the quirkiest book on this list, Sherlock Holmes Re-Imagined is a picture book which re-enacts original Sidney Paget illustrations (from the Sherlock Holmes books) in LEGO! I think this is such a great idea to get kids interested in Sherlock Holmes and anything with Lego is cool to me! To learn more about this book check out their Kickstarter here.

"I found Holmes fast asleep" (Case of Identity) from Kickstarter

So there you have it, Five Awesome Books that Need Your Help! Please let me know what you thought of the books I’ve listed and what you thought of the list itself. 

I plan to do one every month so any feedback would be great! Just reach out to me on either Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

Publishers: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 336

Main Characters:

Howl, Sophie, The Witch of the Waste,

I first read this book after seeing it beautifully visualised in Studio Ghibli’s and Hayao Miyazaki’s movie adaptation Howl’s Moving Castle. The artwork of the film was breathtaking and after finding out the author of the book was actually Welsh, I really wanted to see for myself how the Japanese movie differed from the novel.

Trailer for the movie

The book is based in a fictional kingdom called Ingary and the main character is a young girl called Sophie Hatter, who as the name suggests, is a hat maker’s apprentice. After a chance encounter with the local wizard Howl, Sophie is cursed by one of his jealous old lovers and turned into an old woman. The worst part of the curse is that Sophie can’t tell anyone that she was cursed and therefore the curse cannot be lifted. 

Overcome with anger and fear, Sophie decides to leave her home town of Market Chipping and wander the wastes surrounding the city, looking for the witch that cursed her. However, what she finds is something much more peculiar; a magical, mechanical castle the roams the wastes on its own free will. Sophie is forced to shelter inside the castle and there meets the wizard Howl again. After making an agreement with Howl’s fire demon Calcifer, Sophie decides to stay on as the Wizard’s house maid, which leads her on a magical fairy-tale of love, jealousy and tragedy.

This novel is great but for the first time ever, I think I have to say that I preferred the movie more. The artwork is so beautiful in Miyazaki’s masterpiece that I think the film is one of the best ever. The book was really enjoyable too but I think Miyazaki did a fantastic job of trimming some of the fat from the novel which I think was not necessarily needed. For example, there is some inter-dimensional stuff that happens in the book which I didn’t like. I thought Jones’s world was so incredibly imagined that she didn’t need to bring the plot into our actual world. I thought doing this made the plot line increasingly confusing and killed the pacing of the novel. Almost like the weird scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke fights Darth Vader in that strange cave. As this book is part of a trilogy maybe this inter-dimensional stuff is explained in the last two novels, however, I still believe that in this novel it made no sense.

To conclude, this was an extremely enjoyable and imaginative fantasy/ fairy-tale but I really can’t stress enough how beautiful the movie is, so make sure you check it out too. I’m very interested to see what happens in the following novels in the trilogy and will hopefully review them one day soon!

For author’s official website click here.

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