Friday, 27 November 2015

MINI REVIEW: The Next Together by Lauren James

Title: The Next Together
Author: Lauren James
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 3rd September 2015
Pages: 356
Genres: YA Romance/Time travel/Historical
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different...

Lauren James has quickly become one of the most talked about authors in the bookish community, and I can see why. The Next Together is such a clever book, one I wish I'd written, and it is so unique. I've read loads of time travel books in my time, but this is carefully crafted, fantastically original and properly gasp-worthy. A lot of books on time travel seem very predictable, but this is not one of them.

I think everyone can enjoy The Next Together no matter what genre you usually go for because it has a little bit of everything. I did get a bit confused sometimes, mainly between the Crimean War chapters and the ones set in Carlisle - silly mistake to make, I know, but it happened. Other than that, it was so, so good. I adored Katherine and Matthew's relationship which, in all times, added a lot of great comedy, and I also loved the ending which has yet to leave my mind despite reading it quite a while ago. It was so expertly done.

The Next Together is 100% worth the read. I ignored my to-do list and stayed in bed for an entire day to read it all. No regrets. I'm really glad I managed to snag a signed bookmark at YALC because I loved this book and I cannot wait for the next one!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Why You Should Remove Broken Links From Your Blog

A couple of months ago I started removing and updating all the broken links on my blog. Having broken links is bad for two main reasons: it's annoying seeing a link to something interesting when the link doesn't actually work, and the second reason is that they can have a negative impact on your SEO.

So, what are broken links?

It's simple, thankfully - they're just links that don't work anymore. This could be because the website no longer exists, the website owner changed the URL, they deleted the page you were linking to... there's a whole host of reasons.

How can you check your blog for broken links?

Again - it's simple! There are a few websites that check for you, and my preferred one to use is this free broken link checker. All you have to do is put in your URL and it starts finding the links for you, presenting them in a tidy list. I had thousands of broken links, mainly because people tend to leave their links in blog comments and, because I've been blogging for so long, a lot of these people had deleted their blogs or changed their addresses. Sigh.

What happens when you've got your list?

I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but... you have to remove or update the links manually. It's time consuming, but it's worth it - in the end, you'll have a cleaner, more current website and Google won't hate you anymore. Yay.

To make it a bit easier, the checker I use not only tells you which link is broken but it gives you a link to the blog post it's in and, if you click 'src', it brings up the HTML so you can even see which part of the blog post. 

The thing is, not every link is going to be broken. It might just look broken to the link checker because it took too long to load. In that case, you'll have to use your own judgement on whether it's really broken or not - just click through and have a look to see if everything's as it was originally. If it is broken, you can remove the link completely or update it if there's a different one you could use, for example if a blogging friend changed their URL.

Boom. Simple.

How many broken links do you have? Don't be ashamed, I had nearly 2,000...

Monday, 16 November 2015

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 8th October 2015
Pages: 522
Genres: YA Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance/LGBT
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who's ever been chosen.

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here - it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

Confession time: I skipped the Simon Snow snippets in Fangirl. I didn't care about them. So, you might be wondering, why did I decide to read 522 pages of the stuff? My reason - in Fangirl, I felt like the Simon Snow chapters weren't needed and they took me away from the main story. But here, in its very own book, I was able to enjoy the world of Simon and Baz with no distractions and I gave it the full attention it deserved. And it was awesome.

Simon Snow, the character much loved by Cath in Rowell's previous book Fangirl, attends the Watford School of Magicks along with his best friend Penny and his evil, blood-sucking roommate Baz. Terrorising them all is the Humdrum, Watford's answer to Voldemort. And he looks exactly like Simon, but as he looked at eleven years old. Meanwhile, Simon and Baz grow increasingly obsessed with each other, and not in the way enemies should...

I love Simon and Baz SO MUCH. I've never quite forgiven J.K. Rowling for not putting Harry and Draco together (Drarry FTW) so this book was the next best thing. Seriously, Simon and Baz's relationship is so cute, even when they're trying to kill each other. And I want my own Baz. Where can I get one?

As for the writing, it was massively different to Rowell's other books and it didn't have her 'voice'. That's not a bad thing, though - Carry On is still a very, very good book. It's a completely different genre, so it was never going to be written in the same vein as Rowell's other books; this is a magical, fantastical, satirical work of awesome set in Watford, after all. Rowell is talented in writing contemporary fiction, and I think Carry On has shown she's even more talented when it comes to fantasy. A few people have said they felt it was slow and difficult to get into, but I was gripped from the beginning - which surprised me, after seeing what everyone else had said.

Carry On is a book that doesn't quite take itself seriously, and I love that; it just worked. I spent pretty much an entire day and night reading it, and I've properly missed it since turning the last page! I love all of Rowell's books but this is actually the first one I've given a full five-star rating. Funny, clever and a book that hits the nail on the head when it comes to British culture, Carry On is downright brilliant. All hail Queen Rainbow.