Monday, 20 March 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (13th March - 19th March)...

So this week has been pretty quiet on the socialising front BUT I did have an awesome Monday out with the love of my life, Mat! We spent the afternoon in Bromley! It's a really lovely area south of London, and we were able to do a bit of shopping, have some dinner (burgers...yum!), take a walk around the gorgeous park and go and see the musical 'Wonderland' which was awesome! I really enjoyed the whole day and took a gorgeous picture of the sun setting while we walked around the park.

Mat and I have also been watching Iron Fist, the newest marvel series and are really liking it a lot, though I have to say it's probably my least favourite of all the series so far. We're actually almost finished with it too, so it'll be back to The Walking Dead when we're done!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Only Ever Yours' by Louise O'Neill: Bought on Amazon (16/03/17)
- 'The Girl From Everywhere' by Heidi Heilig: Bought on Amazon (16/03/17)
- 'How To Be Human' by Paula Cocozza: Approved by Netgalley (16/03/17)
- 'Things I Should Have Known' by Claire LaZebnik: Approved by Netgalley (16/03/17)
- 'King's Cage' by Victoria Aveyard: Approved by Netgalley (17/03/17)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Book Review: Radio Silence; Alice Oseman.

I loved this book. I really don't think there's much else to say other than that because it's my favourite read of the month if not the year so far! Wow! I'm having such a good Contemporary YA year!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Radio Silence
AUTHOR: Alice Oseman
Harper Collins Children's Books
PAGES: 337
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

RATING: 5/5 Stars


What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets. It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

What I Liked:
  • There were so many great things about this book, but above all Oseman was 100% spot on about characters and relationships here! Frances was a great MC, so relateable in her desperate bid to 'fit in' when in fact she was a completely different person. I loved her platonic friendship with Aled: no romancing or love interests here! Oseman is also responsible for the best portrayal of a gay relationship that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. That's not exaggeration. Not to mention a perfect example of a great Mum and child relationship versus a very toxic one
  • I loved the diversity and themes covered in this book: depression and suicidal thoughts, stress, the education system, runaways, etc. And it does so in a thoroughly relateable way. Oseman writes so well too, a real talent! Also, while speaking of relateable, these characters are actually just like real teens: they get ill, they go to the toilet, they are not all white and straight, they PLAY THE SIMS, they text and use social media, all things I did as a teen! I almost cried with relief because reading some books about teen life is almost like stepping into a parallel universe without this stuff!
What I Disliked:
  • Okay this isn't really much of a dislike because I loved the drama and 'teens on a mission' feel of it all, but the end of the book really felt a little on the bizarre side. Aled's mother was almost ridiculous in her villainy and there was a car chase and everything. Again, I LOVED it and didn't care, but I wrote it here because I can imagine that if anyone's going to take offence with this book, that will be the reason.
Overall Conclusion:
This book is so awesome and as I've already said, probably my favourite read of the year so far. I loved it! Alice Oseman is certainly a talent I've been missing out on, I don't want to make the same mistake again and while I've been having a great year so far with YA Contemporary, this is the icing on the cake! I want to be friends with all the characters, am left with a bazillion feels, can't believe I've finally read a book set in Kent (my home county) and NEED MORE ASAP. 'Solitaire' is well and truly on the TBR, that's for sure!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Book Review: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here; Patrick Ness.

Patrick Ness is one of those authors who, up until fairly recently, somehow evaded me despite being all over the Blogosphere. This is the third book of his I've got to, and though it's my least favourite of the three I still loved it!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
Walker Books
PAGES: 352
GENRE: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBT

RATING: 4/5 Stars

What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

What I Liked:
  • So, the main plot premise of this book is absolutely genius. Anyone who's read any kind of Teen Paranormal fiction has probably encountered a group of teens, one being the 'chosen one' who have to fight against a supernatural threat and survive school at the same time, right? Well what if instead of being the chosen one, you were that character that is both slightly aware of something going on, but not part of the action? This is the idea behind 'The Rest Of Us Just Live Here' and each chapter starts with a mini description of what's going on for the special kids before telling it all from the POV of a 'side character' who would normally barely get a line in. I thought that idea alone was super cool, and once again displayed Ness' knack of mixing genres in unusual ways.
  • I am all about diversity, and this had it by the bucket-load. Different ethnicities and cultures and LGBT coverage both play a big part here, but most of all I liked the attention given to two Mental Health disorders I rarely see given the proper coverage in YA: Anorexia and OCD. Of course I've read about characters with OCD traits who have to wash their hands a couple of times extra or like their desk straight, but never have I read about getting stuck in loops like Mikey does in this book. I realised too that eating disorders are a topic I have never read about either, which was a shocking revelation, so thanks Mr Ness for handling that sensitively too.
What I Disliked:
  • I guess what ended up making this my least favourite of the three Ness reads I've got through is that I didn't gel well with the characters. Mikey was a fairly irritating, pretty selfish and petty narrator a lot of the time who rarely gave me any reason to like or feel sorry for him (aside from the crippling OCD). He also kept telling me how to feel about characters: 'I know she sounds like she's really horrible, and bossy, and rude, but she really isn't and that's how you should feel.' Show me then! Don't tell me what my opinion should be! Henna was another character that made me feel really mad. The way that she treated the men in her life was appalling! I wish that I could have at least empathised with them a little more...
Overall Conclusion:
Despite the characters letting me down a little in this one, I really did enjoy this book a lot. Not all the characters let me down, I'm a firm believer that everyone needs a Jared in their life. Also, Ness' writing was as awesome as ever and I still adored so many things about this book: plot idea, diversity etc. I'm definitely a lifelong Patrick Ness fan, now and forever!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (6th March - 12th March)...

In comparison to the very quiet weeks I've had for the last few days, this one has been a lot busier! On Monday, Mat's Mum came up to see us and the three of us, with Tash, went on a tour of Westminster (the houses of Parliament in particular). Tash actually works for a politician meaning we could skip the queues and huge tour groups which was pretty cool! Among the areas we visited were the House of Commons, the House of Lords (definitely a whole lot fancier) and even the Queen's robing chamber! It was a fun experience and educational at the same time! Afterwards, Mat and I went to dinner with Mat's Mum, before heading home to spend the evening watching TV. It was certainly a fun day out and the start, I hope, of many more fun Monday adventures!

After another week of work (less interesting I'm afraid) I went to Ashford to visit my family for my Mum's day of confirmation at St Mary's, Sellindge. Though I myself am not religious, it was a nice service and so great to see my family that I haven't seen in a while: Aunts and Grandparents alike! Once the service was over, my sister went out for Fish & Chips which I haven't eaten in ages before I got the train back to London! All in all, a lovely day out!

I Read...


I Received...


Monday, 6 March 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (27th February - 5th March)...

This week has been a little all over the place work-wise for me because I had to work at a different store for a week. I've also been very productive blog-wise and am pleased to announce that my reading is a little more on track. I have been watching 'The Walking Dead' with Mat and love it! It's been an emotional roller-coaster, but can't wait to watch more. I've really been focusing on ways to try and improve my time-keeping and organisation as well as tracking my moods, expenditures etc. and being more mindful in the process and through this need, I've discovered bullet journaling, which looks so cool! 

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Wicked Like A Wildfire' by Lana Popović: Approved by Edelweiss (27/10/17)
- 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones: Illumicrate Subscription (01/03/17)
- 'Red Sister' by Mark Lawrence: Illumicrate Subscription (01/03/17)
- 'The Bone Knife' by Intisar Khanani: Bought from Amazon (05/03/17)

I Posted...

February Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For March
Illumicrate Unboxing
Bookish Bingo (March 2017 - May 2017) Sign-Up

Book Review: Ash; Malinda Lo.

I've been wanting to read another decent retelling of 'Cinderella' ever since loving 'Cinder' and the rest of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I also wanted to read something a bit different to the usual story I'm used to, and this book definitely fulfilled and surpassed both of those criteria.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

AUTHOR: Malinda Lo
Hodder Children's
PAGES: 291
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling, LGBT

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

What I Liked:
  • Malinda Lo proved herself a masterful writer with this solid retelling of 'Cinderella'. It many of the recognisable traits of the classic tale: a ball, a prince stepmother and stepsisters, fairy magic and romance, but gave them such a spin that actually most of them were not the focus of the story. This LGBT retelling instead focuses on Cinderella's grief and despair as she chases fairy tales and superstition in the hopes of escaping her miserable life. It tells a tale of love coming from the most unexpected places and is a real 'be careful what you wish for' cautionary tale. I loved all of the unexpected twists on the original, especially the way the 'fairy Godmother' was handled!
  • Of course, let's look at the LGBT aspect and diversity in this story because it's done beautifully. In this story, despite the Fantasy setting which normally sees women in an inferior position, the King's royal hunt is always led by a women. In fact, the characters in this book were pretty much solely women save for a few, and the men included had very little to do with the story. LGBT relationships are referred to with the same respect and reverence as heterosexual romance and I loved that there was no struggle on that part. Ash and the Huntress fell for each other without judgement or worry about what their peers may think. I wish more books, especially Fantasy, would integrate LGBT+ relationships in this way.
What I Disliked:
  • This was a surefire five star read up until the very end, because it was so darned rushed in comparison with the rest of the book. I felt like after a gorgeous build-up displaying a choice between giving up her mortal life and paying a debt, or choosing true love and risking a dangerous enemy, our MC ended up stamping her foot about how unfair it all was, then just getting away freely with no consequences whatsoever! It didn't help that at times, while Ash was a great narrative, she lacked a little bit of personality.
Overall Conclusion:
This is a beautiful story for a variety of reasons: wonderfully written, gorgeous world-building and LGBT inclusion to die for. I loved the diversity and clever twists on the original story. I read every page eagerly and devoured this story. It was a bit of a shame that the ending felt so rushed in comparison to the rest of the story, and the happy ending did come a little too easily. The characters were really likeable with an individual spark about them, though at times Ash herself felt a little dull by comparison. But make no mistake, this is a gem of a story, and I shall certainly be reading 'Huntress' which is set in the same world!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Mini Review: Homecoming; Claire Legrand.

I often go to revisit the Goodreads pages for authors whose books I enjoy and of course to find out when the next in a series will be out. I loved Legrand's 'Winterspell' and have been waiting to read the next book in the series. But sadly, this didn't go ahead, and instead Legrand has released an epilogue of sorts. While a little disappointed, I decided to give it a read and here are my thoughts!

SOURCE: Author's Website
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Homecoming
AUTHOR: Claire Legrand
SERIES: Winterspell (#1.5)
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling

RATING: 4/5 Stars

A brief epilogue to Claire Legrand's YA Nutcracker re-telling, Winterspell. Available for free download at Claire's website.

If you enjoyed 'Winterspell' and are wondering what happens next, please enjoy this free short epilogue!

Note: These are literally the best descriptions I could find but in short, it's a brief epilogue on Clara's return to Cane and her reunion with Nicholas.

Overall Conclusion:
Though I was a little sad to find that there would be no book on Clara's return to Cane, I was excited to be reading something that would round up the series because I really liked the first book. This 26 page freebie does it well, acting almost like an extra chapter more than anything. It covers the return to Cane reunion with friends (including, obviously, Nicholas) and I liked that Legrand hadn't let the impact of 'Winterspell' go. Clara still had residual feelings of affection and guilt for Anise's fate, and there was still trouble in the Kingdom as a result. The details were a little vague - this was all about the characters and way too short to focus on much else. Nevertheless, I did get the scene I'd been waiting for between Clara and Nicholas, so that was nice! Thanks Claire!