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.