Monday, 22 May 2017

Last Week' Shenanigans (15th May - 21st May)...

Sadly, it's no longer my birthday. However, Monday was still part of my birthday weekend and as a result Mat and I went to Central London during the day! We started at Bella Italia, which is a delicious Italian restaurant that we've visited and enjoyed before. We stayed there for quite a while, and it was a nice atmosphere because it was not busy at all! After eating, Mat and I went to the House of Mina Lima, a graphic design duo responsible for a majority of the props and posters in the Harry Potter series and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them! We were taken on a tour around it where we got to see detailed replicas (and some originals) of them. Afterwards, we made a quick trip to Orc's Nest (a board game shop where I bought an expansion for our Game Of Thrones TCG) and Forbidden Planet!

Throughout the week, not an awful lot else happened because I was working! On Sunday I had Tash come to visit me, which was lovely because finally we got to finish Once Upon A Time season 6! It was AMAZING! Anyone whose watched it will appreciate exactly what I mean, especially regarding the musical episode! I can't stop listening to the soundtrack either now, so there's that. It's a long wait for Season 7, and I hear there'll be a lot of changes, but I'm ready!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Thirteen Reasons Why' by Jay Asher: Approved by Netgalley (15/05/17)
- 'Finding Audrey' by Sophie Kinsella: Bought On Amazon (16/05/17)
- 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas: Bought On Amazon (16/05/17)
- Every Thing Every Thing' by Nicola Yoon: Bought On Amazon (16/05/17)

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Book Review: The Trap; Alan Gibbons.

I was a bit on the apprehensive side about this book, mostly because I know it used to have a different title and covers a very controversial subject matter. While I wasn't totally blown away by it, I was relieved to find that I did enjoy it and liked the message that the author was trying to promote!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Trap
AUTHOR: Alan Gibbons
Orion Children's Books
PAGES: 192
GENRE: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary

RATING: 3/5 Stars

MI5 agent, Kate, receives a tip-off about an asset, who seems too good to be true. Amir and Nasima are trying to make friends at their new school but struggling to keep a terrible secret. A group of jihadists are planning something. And behind it all stands Majid. Brother. Son. Hero. Terrorist.

Spanning Iraq, Syria and England, The Trap grapples with one of the greatest challenges of our time.

What I Liked:
  • The message of this book was a good one, and I was so relieved about that! Yes, it covers the sensitive topics of terrorism and racism but it does it really well. Gibbons clearly did a lot of research when it came to the chapters focusing on on Amir and Nasima's Muslim family life, and the atrocities that are happening in Syria. The juxtaposition of the two was really nicely done.
  • I liked Majid, Amir & Nasima's chapters the best. The twins POV was sweet and talked well about family values and the real Muslim community. Peaceful, happy and just like any other family. Majid's chapters were very tense and showed a much harsher reality, and it really dug deep into what ISIS is all about.
What I Disliked:
  • Kate's MI5 chapters were so boring. Seriously, I loved the multiple POVs but they were the most forgettable parts of the book and I really wanted to skip them for the most part. Kate was not a particularly likeable or inspiring character and she had little to no personality. I didn't really feel like her perspective added anything to the story.
  • Gibbon's writing skills were nothing really to go crazy about unfortunately. If it weren't for the heavy subject matter I'd think I was reading a children's book thanks to the maturity of it. I felt like it was all a bit basic for me, certain sentences and phrasings were over-used and it was lucky that it had the plot going for it at least.
Overall Conclusion:
I thought this book was okay despite my original reservations. In fact, I think it's because I went in with low expectations that I liked it as much as I did. It had a great portrayal of Muslim life and I liked that it's message was one of peace and positivity. There was clearly a lot of research put into it. However, there were still problem areas of the book and too many parts of it were uninteresting for it to ever go beyond 'mediocre'.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Book Review: Noteworthy; Riley Redgate.

I was really looking forward to this book since I loved 'Seven Ways We Lie', Redgate's debut, so much! It was actually one of my favourite reads from last year and very much cemented Redgate in my mind as an author whose work I would enjoy no matter what! Having read 'Noteworthy', I stand by that judgement!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Noteworthy
AUTHOR: Riley Redgate
Amulet Books
PAGES: 336
GENRE: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT

RATING: 5/5 Stars

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped...revered...all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

What I Liked:
  • Let's start with the Performing Arts college setting because I loved it! I actually went to University to study Performing Arts myself, so I was overjoyed to find such a specific setting I could relate to. The fight for rehearsal spaces, dramatic breakdowns, music vs. theatre student rivalry and even backstage crew were 100% spot on! Redgate's writing is as great as I remember too, and this book is so funny. I actually had to stop myself from laughing out loud on public transport a fair few times, and it's actually very rare for a book to make me laugh like that!
  • The characters were so well written! Whatsmore, as well as being complex and three-dimensional, they were so diverse! Jordan, the book's MC, was fun & feisty and I really rooted for her from the beginning, as well as revelling in the fact that she was Chinese and bisexual! It's so difficult to find books with such intersectionality so I adored this! While a little fuelled by testosterone at times, I adored Isaac (I'm a sucker for a cheeky boy), Trav (the anxious perfectionist who perfectly represented me), and Nihal (the Sikh best friend I wish I'd had growing up) and Redgate did a great job of making them all relateable in some way or another.
  • There were a lot of issues covered in this book and amongst the comedy and banter came a lot of reflection on society and American life. Redgate looked at class and poverty, the impact of hospital fees, racism, sexism, privilege, and even mental and physical health. So much diversity and so much to talk about, but never once did it get in the way of the actual story.
What I Disliked:
  • For me, most of these weren't dislikes as such. But they are things I can see that might bother some people. There weren't as many technical terms as I expected, but there were some and they would only be really understood by a niche number of people. However, I suppose that's no different to a crime thriller containing vocabulary found only in the local police department, and so I think it can be forgiven! I wasn't totally convinced by the mini romance plot either, but I grew to like it even though it didn't totally add to the story.
Overall Conclusion:
I really loved this latest book by Riley Redgate. Even more than I loved 'Seven Ways We Lie' because I found it to be a more fluid, funny, likeable story and it still had the charm of her debut! Amazing character work, fantastic writing skills and a relateable setting that made me think of my own Uni campus! I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it, it covers so many issues and contains so much diversity effortlessly! Bravo Miss Redgate!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (8th May - 14th May)...IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! Haul Included!

That's right guys and gals, it's my birthday week! I have to say, in some ways it has been a little tough. A lot of things happened that threatened to make it a horrible week. But so many fantastic things happened too and I am really focusing on those because in the end I had a great time! On Monday I went back to Ashford to see my family and sort out a couple of appointments. I met my sister for lunch with Mat too and we had a lovely catch-up and food at a nearby pub. The evening with my parents was great fun too and we ate a delicious curry before heading home.

My next day off was on Friday and I took it as a well needed lazy day after a tough week, as well as the start of four days off for my birthday! Hooray! Mat bought me some chocolate and treats and we watched Howl's Moving Castle, one of my all time favourite films.  The next day was of course my birthday! I had such a great day with my wonderful boyfriend who treated me like a princess (tiara and all) all day! We played a fun game of Tales Of The Arabian NightsIf you're into board games, I highly recommend it! Then in the afternoon we went to Stratford's shopping centre for a treat! I had a wonderful time and ended up with quite the haul of presents!

I got vinyls from my family - Busted's Night Driver, Lana Del Rey's Born To Die and Mumford & Son's Sigh No More which is incidentally my favourite of their albums. I had it on CD growing up so it was a real pleasure to add it to my growing vinyl collection! I also got the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 CD (I am a huge fan of the mix of songs on those albums) and Moana, a gorgeous Disney animated film! Mat got me an iPad Pro and pencil and I feel so lucky! My old tablet was dying a bit of a death so I needed this one! While out shopping I also got a Funko POP figure of Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, a Happy Birthday candle by Lily-Flame and a tea set from Typo!

The next day, I saw all of my friends! It was a lot of fun sending time with all of them and playing games! I received some lovely gifts too - a new colouring book, lip lustre and travel pass from Tash & George, a cool Typo mug-flask from Genny & Joe AND a beautiful necklace from Karl and Megan! It was a wonderful end to a roller-coaster of a week and really made sure that my birthday week ended with a bang!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Sleeping Prince' by Melinda Salisbury: Bought on Amazon (09/05/17)
- 'Godblind' by Anna Stephens: Approved by Netgalley (11/05/17)

Monday, 8 May 2017

Book Review: Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

On my way home from Ashford I decided I wanted to read something short, that I would get through during the journey! I decided to go with this non-fiction piece by one of my favourite feminists! It's styled as a letter to a close friend but there's some great ideas in their about how we, as feminists, can go about raising our children so that they are more aware of the society they live in and how it can be changed.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions
AUTHOR: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
GENRE: Non Fiction, Essays

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie's letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions - compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

What I Liked:
  • As usual Adichie has totally hit the nail on the head. I've listened to her talk and read 'How To Be A Feminist' so know her thoughts of current feminism and society right now. This book takes a little glimpse into the future about how we, as feminists, have a responsibility to raise our children to be forward-thinking in the same way. Adichie gets it so right and being Nigerian, it's interesting to read about it from a different cultural standpoint too.
  • I actually think most, if not all, of these suggestions are not only helpful but make a lot of sense and show great perception and intelligence. They are purveyed in the style of a humorous letter to a close friend and it was a nice tone for the piece. It made it feel more personal.
What I Disliked:
  • Again, what I disliked was not a huge issue for me. The biggest thing for me was probably the length (it was short, but I kind of liked that too because I got it finished in half an hour and I felt like I achieved something) and while I liked the personal nature of a letter, there was a sense of reading something private that I wasn't supposed to.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a fantastic read. It's short but very honest and from the heart, and has re-affirmed Adichie as my favourite feminist. Her thoughts are very in line with my own and every time I read or watch her, I feel like I learn something! The book contains some great suggestions for the future and how we can continue spreading the message of feminism to the next generation. Every feminist should read Adichie's essays!

Last Week's Shenanigans (1st May - 7th May)...

I've done a fair few things this week, starting with a trip to the cinema on Monday to see Guardians Of The Galaxy 2! I'm glad I went, despite feeling pretty unwell. In fact, I was so unwell that I had to have Tuesday off! But the film was really good and I realised how long I'd been wanting to see more of Groot, Rocket, Drax etc. I'd missed them! Tash & Meg came round on Wednesday evening when I came home from work and it was a lot of fun catching up! Then it was a friend's birthday on the 5th so Mat and I went to visit them for the evening and had a lovely time playing games! All in all, a great week for my social life!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful' by Eric Lindstrom: Approved by Netgalley (04/05/17)
- 'Release' by Patrick Ness: Approved by Edelweiss (05/05/17)

I Posted...

Planned Reads For May

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Book Review: A Darker Shade Of Magic; V.E. Schwab.

As someone who tends to put books off for a long time (I am not fast enough to get through hundreds a month) this was one series that I really wanted to get to sooner rather than later, and finally I achieved it! I've seen many great reviews on this book and now I'm going to be adding another glowing one to the collection!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: A Darker Shade Of Magic
AUTHOR: V.E. Schwab
SERIES: Shades Of Magic (#1)
Tor Books
PAGES: 400
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Kell is one of the last travellers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. 

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveller, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. 

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

What I Liked:
  • The best part of the book was definitely the world-building, and the concept behind it. It was Fantasy but revolved around a simple idea. Four different Londons: Ours (historical and 'grey'), Red London (filled with magic and riches), White London (reduced to poverty and desperate to conquer) and Black London, destroyed forever. I just adored how such a simple idea could be so well planned and filled with political context, lore and historical richness. Some Fantasy authors try too hard and over-complicate or under-think things. It was nice to see the perfect balance!
  • I really loved the characters too. Kell and Lila were both fantastic MCs with a lot of loveable personality and I rooted for them both all the way through. This book had some great villains too. In fact, I can't think of a single character I didn't like. Schwab clearly has a real knack for character development and motivation and I appreciate that, especially in Fantasy because characters so often fall into archetypes.
What I Disliked:
  • The only thing that I was a little disappointed in was how the last 10% played out. The book seemed to be pointing towards adventures in Grey London and Red London before a cliffhanger that would lead to White London for book two! But as it turned out, I was wrong and it made those final chapters feel a little on the rushed side. I would have liked for Lila and Kell to spend more time in White London!
Overall Conclusion:
This book was fantastic, and definitely my favourite fantasy book I've read for a while! I've been having great fun with YA contemporaries so it was nice to get back into a genre I adore. Schwab writes really well and I loved her world-building, characterisation and plot! It was a bit of a shame that the last few chapters rushed so hurriedly through the 'final showdown' but I'm still excited about what more this series could possibly bring! I'm so excited to read book two!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (24th April - 30th April)...

I'm not even joking when I say that pretty much nothing happened this week! I spent my days off catching up with some reading and blog stuff, as well as getting chores done, and I've got myself addicted to a Reality TV Show of all things: RuPaul's Drag Race. It's not my usual watch but I really enjoy it and am already on Season 4! Saturday night and Sunday I did get to see some friends (briefly) which was nice, especially on Sunday as we caught up on Once Upon A Time season 6! Mat and I have been re-watching Game Of Thrones too so it's been a very heavy week TV wise!

I Read...

I Received...



Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book

I Posted...

April Wrap-Up

Planned Reads For May.

Boy am I behind! I've been in such a reading slump as of late it's no wonder, but now I'm starting to feel better about my reads so hopefully I can do a spot of catching up! I've got some great reads lined up for this month, some borrowed from last month's TBR.

  1. 'A Darker Shade Of Magic' by V.E. Schwab. I've already started this book and I am in love with it. At least so far. I've seen so many great things about Schwab's books and I'm finally reading them, so I can't wait to see how I get on with them!
  2. 'Noteworthy' by Riley Redgate. I loved 'Seven Ways We Lie' by Riley Redgate before, her debut read. This one looks like it's going to be great and having done a Performing Arts degree, right up my street! I have no doubt that this is going to be an awesome read!

  1. 'The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes' by Arthur Conan Doyle. Elementary my dear Watson! It has been far too long since I've sat down with a good ol' Sherlock Holmes story and I really would like to finish this monster of a book by the end of the year if I can, so it's time to read some more adventures! I've really enjoyed them so far, so let's hope for another great read!
  2. 'The Trap' by Alan Gibbons. I'll be honest, I'm getting warning signs from this book and I the more I think about it, the more I'm sure it was released under a different name before and received a lot of bad rep. But I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt because I want this to be a good read so badly!
  3. 'A List Of Cages' by Robin Roe. I will read this book! I was supposed to get to it last month but thanks to my terrible slump I didn't manage it. I really like the synopsis though and it focuses on a character with ADHD which I've never read before so it should be interesting!
  4. 'Green Rider' by Kristen Britain. This gorgeous cover keeps giving me the eye so it's about time I gave it some love and read this Fantasy novel that has been sat on my shelf for a really long time! I know that other books in the series are out too so I'm hoping this will be enjoyable enough for me to continue!
  5. 'Ruby Slippers' by Keir Alexander. This book is probably very cross with me, because I won it as a Goodreads First Read so long ago and never got to it. It's not my usual thing but I think the synopsis is interesting and I like the links to 'The Wizard Of Oz' so I'm willing to give it a try.
  6. 'Traitor To The Throne' by Alwyn Hamilton. I actually received this book around the time that I read the first, which I liked a lot. Great cowboy inferences and I'm excited by the Scheherazade style story so I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes next.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

April Wrap-Up.

This month has been a total disaster for me because I've fallen into such a massive reading slump. I'm trying not to let it bother me too much, but I know I'm very behind right now and need to catch up if I wan to beat my Goodreads challenge! Plus there are so many great books waiting for me and I feel like I'm missing out! I only managed four reads this month and two of them were pretty last minute because I felt like I had to get my act together. Let's hope I snap out of this soon!

  1. 'Fairy Tales For Modern Queers' by Emily Reed. This was a mixed first read of the month because it should have been everything I ever wanted in a book. Fairy tales, LGBT focus and short stories! It's a great idea and I could see some imagination went into it. I particularly loved LGBT characters in a Fantasy setting. But every story left me a little disappointed because none of them ended properly. The writing was nothing to shout bout either. 3/5 Stars.
  2. 'Hidden Huntress' by Danielle L. Jensen. It has been way too long since I read the first book of this series. It's made me feel really guilty actually because I adored 'Stolen Songbird' so much! Having read this second installment, I was surprised at how much the characters and my love for them came flooding back. Jensen has not lost her ability to build a great fantasy story. This was very much a filler book though, and the fact that I'd already guessed the 'big' twist at the end of book one meant it lost it's charm. 4/5 Stars.
  3. 'Three Dark Crowns' by Kendare Blake. At first I was a little worried about this book. It had a slow pace, jumped around between present and past tenses and didn't bowl me over as soon as I picked it up. But the more I read, the more I realised that I was actually really enjoying it. I loved getting to know the three potential queens and trying (but failing) not to rot for any of them. Political intrigue is something I love in stories and this had bucket loads, accompanied by great characters and a very original premise. 4.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'The Loney' by Andrew Michael Hurley. I really hoped this would be the book that would snap me out of my book slump. After all, it has won the Costa Book Award (a prize that usually produces winning books I love), reminded me of my favourite horror 'The Woman In Black' and is not YA, which I've been reading a lot as of late. It had great atmosphere, and well-built characters with an intriguing mystery to boot. But there wasn't much of a story here and even fewer answers at the book's conclusion. Whatsmore the writing, while hauntingly beautiful, was a little dated considering it's time period.
Now it's time to see how I did with my challenges this month!

This month I have read one book for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to eleven. My reads were:

- Fairy Tales For Modern Queers

This month I have read zero books for the 2017 New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to two.

This month I have read one book for the LGBTQIA Challenge, bringing my yearly total to five. My reads were:

- Fairy Tales For Modern Queers

This month I have read one book for the Diverse Reads Challenge, bringing my yearly total to fifteen. My reads were:

- Fairy Tales For Modern Queers [Optional Mini Challenge]

Next up, here's how I'm getting on with the Bookish Bingo card.

Paranormal: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here; Patrick Ness
Just Words On Cover: Not If I See You First; Eric Lindstrom
Sisters: Three Dark Crowns; Kendare Blake
Magic: Hidden Huntress; Danielle L. Jensen
Series Finale: Homecoming; Claire Legrand
Thriller: Blood For Blood; Ryan Graudin
Freebie: --
PoC On Cover: Radio Silence; Alice Oseman
LGBT+ Main Character: Fairy Tales For Modern Queers; Emily Reed
Retelling: Ash; Malinda Lo
Scary: The Loney; Andrew Michael Hurley

Book Review: The Loney; Andrew Michael Hurley.

After reading so much YA as of late, and having fallen into a bit of a book slump, I really felt that something a bit different might help. 'The Loney' appealed to me not only because it has won the Costa Book Award (I've read a number of their winning titles and really enjoyed them all) but also because it gave me SUCH 'The Woman In Black' vibes and I fancy a good atmospheric horror story.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Loney
AUTHOR: Andrew Michael Hurley
John Murray Publishers
PAGES: 360
GENRE: Horror, Adult, Mystery, Gothic

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Two brothers. One mute, the other his life long protector.

Year after year, their family visits the same sacred shrine on a desolate strip of coastline known as the Loney, in desperate hope of a cure.

In the long hours of waiting, the boys are left alone. They cannot resist the causeway revealed with every turn of the treacherous tide, the old house they glimpse at its end...

Many years on, Hanny is a grown man no longer in need of his brother's care.

But then the child's body is found. 
And the Loney always gives up its secrets, in the end.

What I Liked:
  • Atmosphere was what I wanted to see from this book and I got it by the bucket-load! The visual imagery displayed, alluding to the fierce, wild nature of the Loney, coupled with Hurley's gorgeous writing made for a very haunting, beautiful tone to the story that kept me in it's thrall from beginning to end. I loved the setting of the book the most I think.
  • Hurley actually did some strong character work: a small cast, but every one of them felt individual and memorable. While our narrator was a little dull, more of an observer than a character, others such as Father Bernard, 'Mummer' and even Hanny were very well developed and I really liked watching them interact with each other.
What I Disliked:
  • There were a few issues that I had with this book, and part of that might have been due to my high expectations, but I really felt that there wasn't much of a plot for this story. A bit of a mystery perhaps and I did like that, but it was much more about characters than action. In some instances that can be a good thing, but I wanted to be spooked and thrilled a lot more than I actually was.
  • Hurley clearly relied heavily on the power of suggestion. He liked to imply rather than tell and he did it well, but it meant that I was left with more questions than answers. I like clear cut endings and this was not one of those.
  • I spent most of the first half of this book thinking it was set in the late 1800s to early 1900s. WWII era at the latest. But imagine my shock when I realised that it was actually set much later, in the 1970s! Of course there were technological references that really ought to have given me a clue, but I honestly like writing to have a sense of time period and this felt too dated.
Overall Conclusion:
This book was really nice, and well-written to. It's easy to see why so many people loved it, thanks to it's gorgeous writing and raw, haunting imagery. I loved the descriptors, setting and characters. I just really wanted a bit more from the reading experience. It's a mystery so I need more answers. I need a sense of time as well as place. And I need more of a story to have me totally convinced.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns; Kendare Blake.

I've been desperate to read this book for some time, though it felt like the kind of book that would go either way for me: it would either by my new favourite or a hot mess. Luckily my trust was placed well and though it started pretty slow, I liked it a lot!

SOURCE: Present
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Three Dark Crowns
AUTHOR: Kendare Blake
SERIES: Three Dark Crowns (#1)
Macmillan Children's Books
PAGES: 405
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn't solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it's not just a game of win or's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

What I Liked:
  • The tone of this book is deliciously dark and that was probably my favourite ting about it. It read like YA of course, but wasn't afraid to touch on a few more mature themes and I liked how each place had a different aura (Katherine's poisoners were very macabre, Arsinoe's village very quaint and rough and Mirabella's home felt like it was hotter and old-school Fantasy) because it added to the 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' vibes I got from it. It was very clear that this was no coincidence, and sometimes a little too obvious that Blake was drawing her influences from the beloved series but this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I love political intrigue.
  • Blake writes very well and has a knack for great twists. The pace was pretty slow to begin with and I was a little worried that I would get bored, but I felt that Blake kept it interesting and it definitely built up to something explosive rather than fizzling out which I often find in books. She did a great job with the world-building too and I liked that she'd clearly thought about lore, history and differing social etiquette. It kept things more interesting, that's for sure.
What I Disliked:
  • There were a few minor niggles I could have done without. Mostly the switching between past and present tense and fairly frequent intervals, which should have been picked up on by an editor. There was a love triangle that I didn't totally hate but it definitely felt more like a plot device than anything. Also, the aforementioned links to the 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series were, as I said, too obvious at times: animal familiars, the Lannister-like poisoners, and let's face it, Pietyr was Petyr Baelish without a shadow of a doubt.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a great book and despite a few obvious flaws, I really liked a lot about it. It was definitely a book that grabbed my attention and had me talking about it constantly, and when I stopped reading I couldn't wait to get back! I liked all three sisters for different reasons, and listening to each of them second-guessing each other's motives and misinterpreting things was so interesting! I was rooting for them all and can't wait to read book two!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book'.

Oh my goodness! It has been so long since I've been part of the Top Ten Tuesday crew, but as of late I've really found it hard to read and blog, and I've hit a bit of a slump. I decided to take a bit of a break from memes in order to stop it all from becoming a chore. But this topic is great, and I've thought of so many answers I had to share!

1) Sloppy covers.

I'm sorry. I know the age old adage: 'Don't judge a book by it's cover'. But, oftentimes, you can and I most certainly do. I like my covers pretty. I like them to look nice on my shelf (both physical and Goodreads) so even if a book synopsis sounds great, if there's no effort on the cover I'll probably avoid it. Of course I've read some books with covers that I hate, and they've turned out to be fantastic! But most of the time I've found that the content is as terrible as the art.

2) Too sexual.

I'm sorry to say, I avoid Erotica and New Adult genres like the plague because I hate reading books that are literally all about sex and nothing else. Most of the time, sex scenes are horribly written with nasty phrases used to describe the action and I can't deal with it. Plus, half the time I feel like authors don't understand the kinky relationships they're trying to portray. It's why I'll never read the 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' among others, that's for sure.

3) Too romantic.

You may think I'm severely limiting my choices here, not allowing myself to read books that are too lusty or too fluffy. But if the blurb starts with something along the lines with 'Mary Sue was a lonely, unfeeling, hot mess until she met a young hot millionaire to solve all her problems' then I'm not going to go further. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good romantic sub-plot or shipping many of my favourite couples, but I want to read a story I don't recognise. Romance novels are pretty much all the same in my eyes.

4) Love triangles.

Oh. My. God. Triangles, squares, hexagons, I don't understand why authors think this is such a fantastic plot device. Especially in YA! When I ship couples I like those couples to be there for each other and not letting their eyes wander to other characters. In some stories I've read, this is actually a very cleverly used plot device implemented in an original way. 95% of the time however it halts the story and we have to go through pages of our heroine (it usually is a woman of course) unable to bring herself to choose which guy she wants. Ugh.

5) Books that have been badly reviewed.

This is another one I'm a bit ashamed about because I try not to put too much stock in other people's reviews. I tend only to veer away from books that have been blasted by bloggers I trust. However, when I'm excited about a book then read very mixed reviews on it that head towards the bad side of the Goodreads rating system, I end up second guessing myself. Three of the top reviewers said that the heroine is boring as heck? Maybe I don't want to read this book...

6) This book is <popular book title> meets <popular TV show> meets <popular film title> with added <checkbox for diversity list>.

This is just lazy marketing. Plain and simple. I don't want a crossover of these three totally unrelated things and added LGBT or ethnic diversity if you're only talking about it to check a box off of your list. 'Harry Potter' meets 'Game Of Thrones' meets 'Avengers Assemble' with added lesbians sounds like a HOT MESS and not one I want to partake in. When writing blurbs, maybe try to point out it's uniqueness rather than the fact that it's a combination of other people's ideas.

7) Rehashes of successful books.

Similarly to the last point, I do not want to read the next 'Divergent'. Did I enjoy 'Twilight'? Not particularly so you're actually turning me off of your book by saying it's the same book. Any book that is described with 'If you enjoyed this, then you must read this book' is not a winner in my eyes, purely because it displays a lack of originality in the publishing industry and does not show the author in a good light.

8) Books that famously don't end well/cover difficult topics.

I don't actively try to avoid these books in the sense that I need to look up a full synopsis before reading. However, books such as 'The Notebook' where I know they are going to end sadly and turn me into a hysterical mess are books I'm not that interested in I'm afraid. I always feel a little apprehensive about books that talk about abuse and rape too, among other difficult topics. If I know they'e going to be about that, it can take me a long time to get to them.

9) Anything containing an overly special snowflake.

Books about a hero or heroine who are the first in thousands of years to develop special powers, skills or are one of a kind in anyway don't grab me in the way they used to. They're everywhere of course and so often I can't avoid them. Some of my favourite books still hold this trope too, but oftentimes I read books with these characters and I feel like I've read it all before. 

10) Books about grumpy detectives solving murders while trying to put the pieces of their own wrecked lives back together.

This is probably the most specific of all of my book turn-offs, but this basically describes every crime thriller everywhere. Detectives that have cigars drooping out of their mouths and a hip flask, who haven't seen their son/daughter for years, divorced because they are complete workaholics and feel that solving this latest 'special' case will fill the hole. And if they're a female detective? there's always the added bonus of trying to be taken seriously in their profession. Can someone please do something a bit more original?

Monday, 24 April 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (17th - 23rd April)...

So, the week started with Easter Monday of course, and my parents dropped in for an impromptu visit! Always lovely seeing them, and it gave me a chance to pass on Easter goodies I'd bought for my lovely sister as she'd been kind enough to buy me two new vinyls for my record player! It was such a nice day off, though the last one before I went back to work. The week was fairly uneventful other than that, but I've been investing a lot of my time into trying new things to be mindful of my mental health: yoga, colouring and making sure I read and relax every day. I definitely feel a lot happier for it!

On Sunday, Mat and I went out with friends after a long day of getting things done. It was a friend of ours' birthday so we had a curry at Brick Lane (delicious!) before going to a local chocolate bar where, regrettably, I was too late to have a delicious hot chocolate! It was a wonderful, if tiring, evening out and I enjoyed myself a lot.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'A Court Of Mist & Fury' by Sarah J. Maas: Bought on Amazon (17/04/17)
- 'Hollow City' by Ransom Riggs: Bought on Amazon (17/04/17)
- 'Doing It! Let's Talk About Sex' by Hannah Witton: Bought on Amazon (17/04/17)
- 'Windfall' by Jennifer E. Smith: Approved by Netgalley (21/04/17)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Book Review: Hidden Huntress; Danielle L. Jensen.

Boy. Oh. Boy. It has been such a long time since I read book one of this series, 'Stolen Songbird', and words cannot describe how I feel now I have actually done it! Of all the series that it's taking me a while to get through, this was the one that haunted me because I loved it so much!

SOURCE: Present
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Hidden Huntress
AUTHOR: Danielle L. Jensen
SERIES: Stolen Songbird (#2)
Angry Robot
PAGES: 464
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

What I Liked:
  • Despite the huge amount of time between reading the first and second of the series I remembered all of the characters so well, and that's because Jensen writes such unique ones with oodles of personality. Tristan and Cécile are still a power couple for me and I loved their interactions in this book, Victoria and Vincent are the best twins ever, I loved Marcus and Pierre and Sylvie still and of course villains such as Tristan's father and Cécile's overbearing Mother were great!
  • Though we didn't get to see much of Trollus in this book, I still loved Jensen's world-building skills. We got to see a lot more of Trianon this time around, and while it was not nearly as interesting (being the human world) I did still like it. The small glimpses we got made me really excited for book three even more!
  • Jensen's still got it writing-wise. She drew me into the plot and filled it with plenty of intrigue and interest, though I must say this felt like a bit of a filler book. It was a nice re-introduction to the story and I liked exploring more aspects of the magic weaved into the story. There was certainly enough action not to lose me while reading, especially at the high page count.
What I Disliked:
  • The most frustrating thing about this book that ensured it didn't get the five star rating that I gave 'Stolen Songbird'? I KNEW WHAT THE TWIST WOULD BE. I pretty much had Anushka's identity pegged during book one, the physical descriptors meant it wasn't exactly rocket science. I thought it would be a mid-book reveal but instead found myself getting so annoyed at Cécile's inability to see what was directly in front of her. I actually ranted about it to Mat for half an hour I got so annoyed at one point. I wish it had been revealed sooner, it made the book feel even more of a filler and was all building up to something that felt like nothing because I'd already figured it out.
  • I mentioned that I loved Cécile and Tristan as a couple. Individually though, this time not so much. In book one they were sassy and sarcastic and adorable, but I found Cécile a little irritating and naive here, while Tristan brooded way too much. I loved their moments together though! I never want them split up ever again!
Overall Conclusion:
I liked this book a lot, and I definitely think it had the same charm found in book one. Sadly though, I was a little disappointed because like most second books in a trilogy this was a filler book. It's whole premise was to build up to a big reveal that most people had probably figured out, and nothing really added to the story-line other than the political intrigue sub-plot in Trollus. It was a big book to get through too, so had it not been for Jensen's wonderful writing style and personality injection, I'd most likely have been bored. It has definitely made me excited for book three though, and 'The Broken Ones' which I recently snagged on Netgalley!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (10th April - 16th April)...

Okay, so blog-wise this has been a really unproductive week. As I said last week, I've been in a real reading slump and I'm finding it hard to get out of it at the moment! I've had a good week apart from that though! Mat's friend Joe came to visit on Monday, which was nice. We haven't seen him in a long time and it was so great to catch up! That was pretty much our Monday, and then I had two other days off straight after with which I did a lot of things on my to do list, so I felt very productive afterwards.

My favourite day of the week was definitely Easter Sunday though, and not just because of the chocolate! Mat and I invited a few of our friends over for a meal, and it was lovely to spend time with them all. We had roast dinner and snacks, watched a bit of Deadpool and played Takenoko (a board game) with them! All in all, a successful day that was a lot of fun! I'd like to wish everyone who reads this blog a happy Easter period!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'The Broken Ones' by Danielle L. Jensen: Approved by Netgalley (11/04/17)