Monday, 20 November 2017

Last Week Shenanigans (13th November - 19th November)...

What a busy old week it has been! Firstly, I went to go and see Murder On The Orient Express with Mat and we both enjoyed it very much! It's definitely a fantastic film with a stellar cast (though I am a little sick of seeing Johnny Depp's face and not the biggest fan of Kenneth Branagh) and all of them did a cracking job. I loved Judi Dench especially, and of course Daisy Ridley did wonderfully, it was good to see her in this role.

One of our close friends organised a lovely meal out on the Friday at Las Iguanas, Spitalfields. The food is definitely wonderful and I'm a huge fan of their iced tea! We had a really nice time out and it was good to catch up with friends, especially after such a hard week at work. Sunday too was a time for birthday-oriented socialisation. My sister's birthday is on the 25th so we went down to see her and give her gift in advance. I've always enjoyed catching up with family, and playing lots of games.

I Read...


I Received...


Monday, 13 November 2017

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

It's been a pretty busy week actually! Mat and I are trying to make more use of our cinema cards at the moment so we went to go and see the newest Pokemon movie (we are huge fans!). There were a few sound issues, but despite some weird changes to the Pokemon history that we know and love, it was a really good film! We are also well on our way through Season 2 of Stranger Things and loving it a lot, even more than Season 1 in some ways!

Mat and I also went down to see his family, as it was his younger brother's birthday and his older brother has just moved into their new house! It was nice to see everyone and catch-up, and we ended up having a lovely, relaxing day off. Thanks the long travel times, I ended up getting through a couple of good reads too!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Truth & Lies Of Ella Black' by Emily Barr: Approved by Netgalley (08/11/17)
- 'Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek' by Anthony O'Neill: Approved by Netgalley (08/11/17)
- 'The Sacrifice Box' by Martin Stewart: Approved by Netgalley (09/11/17)
- 'Hortense & The Shadow' by Natalia O'Hara & Lauren O'Hara: (13/11/17)

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Book Review: Hortense & The Shadow; Natalia O'Hara & Lauren O'Hara.

This was a very quick read just to help round the week off, which intrigued me on Netgalley! I like illustrated books as of late, especially if they are a little darker and read like a fairy tale. I'm always happy to break up big reads with a little children's story!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Hortense & The Shadow
AUTHOR: Natalia O'Hara & Lauren O'Hara
GENRE: Children's, Picture Book, Fantasy

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Hortense is a kind and brave girl, but she is sad--even angry--that her shadow follows her everywhere she goes. She hates her shadow, and thinks her shadow must hate her too. 

But one cold, dark night, when bandits surprise her in the woods, Hortense discovers that her shadow is the very thing she needs most.

What I Liked:
  • The illustrations are normally my favourite part of reading picture books (otherwise, what's the point?) but these were gorgeous. What made it even better was the realisation that there was a hidden element in most of them and trying to find it each time. Definitely worth a couple of re-reads for that alone!
  • The message of this story is both adorable and crystal clear. It really read like a fairy tale, both cute but with a slightly twisted element that will give some readers the shivers for sure.
What I Disliked:
  • There was very little that I disliked, though after such an intense and slightly sinister build up I was sort of disappointed by the anti-climactic ending. I kind of expected a little more 'danger' though this is aimed at children so I kind of understand the lack of real threat!
Overall Conclusion:
This is a book that can definitely appeal to all ages for a variety of reasons. If you love good artwork, buy this. If you like fairy tales then this will also be good for you. It's definitely a children's story and I'd mostly push this towards the kids who love a little magic and like to find 'hidden things'. It's imaginative, fun, and very sincere in it's message.

Book Review: The Goblins Of Bellwater; Molly Ringle.

I loved this book so much! I'm not normally a fan of New Adult, and while this didn't really read as 'sexual' like others of the genre, this worked in it's favour. There was more depth and development in this one, and it was every bit the magical story I wanted it to be!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Goblins Of Bellwater
AUTHOR: Molly Ringle
PUBLISHER: Central Avenue Publishing
PAGES: 289
GENRE: Contemporary, New Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out. Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. 

Her older sister, Livy, is at wit's end trying to understand what's wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn't talk of such things: he's the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Then Kit starts dating Livy, and Skye draws Kit's cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods. Skye and Grady are doomed to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever, unless Livy, the only one untainted by enchantment, can unravel the spell by walking a dangerous magical path of her own.

What I Liked:
  • This was a fantastic adaptation of one of my favourite poems in school! Christina Rossetti's 'Goblin Market' has captured the imaginations of many people and Ringle wrote the goblins to be exactly how I imagined: sinister, mischievous, and far stronger and cleverer than they look and act. I liked the modern setting, it felt fresh and relatable with twists of the strange and unpredictable to keep things interesting.
  • This is a New Adult book and while it contained sex, it didn't take over the whole book. I'm also pretty glad there wasn't any human/goblin action and the fae (and their actions) were treated as 'evil' beings rather than romanticised. This is how they should be! The romance that was actually found in this book directly addressed the consensual side of things and was pretty steamy, but also sweet.
What I Disliked:
  • I have no real complaints here. This was a fantastic book and I enjoyed it immensely. I have to say that when Kit told Livy his big 'secret' her reaction did strike me as a little OTT. I don't think I'd jump to 'serial killer', maybe just a bit superstitious or weird. But other than that tiny gripe, I was hooked by this book.
Overall Conclusion:
This really is a top contender for favourite book of the year, it's so good. So much magic and folklore entwined into a gorgeous, contemporary setting. Ringle is a very visual writer with great descriptions, wrote complex and likeable characters, and her plot flowed very nicely with a lot of twists and turns to keep things interesting. There really aren't any faults with this one. I strongly recommend it, especially if you want to read more books about goblins and the fae generally.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (30th October - 5th November)...

Oh my gosh, Halloween week! Spooky! Things are getting colder (which is not ideal for me, as I feel the cold very easily) but there's something about Autumn and the crunching of leaves underfoot that is distinctly magical. I managed to get through one of my reads fairly quickly and Mat and I have achieved so much planning for our wedding, which has also been a lot of fun!

Saturday 4th, after work, Mat and I headed to our friends to see our brand new pug-friend Lola and celebrate bonfire night with them! We had a lovely, fun party, lit some sparklers and watched some nearby fireworks. It really rounded off a good week.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Toy Makers' by Robert Dinsdale: Approved by Netgalley (30/10/17)
- 'Out Of The Blue' by Sophie Cameron: Approved by Netgalley (03/11/17)


Top Ten Tuesday: Horror Books I Would Love To Read [Part II]

I Posted...

October Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For November

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Book Review: Zenn Diagram; Wendy Brant.

I actually ended up reading this, before my other reads, because I realised I only had a few more days left before it would disappear from my computer forever! My thoughts? Mediocre.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Zenn Diagram
AUTHOR: Wendy Brant
PUBLISHER: Kids Can Press
PAGES: 222
GENRE: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

Eva Walker is a seventeen-year-old math genius. And if that doesn’t do wonders for her popularity, there’s another thing that makes it even worse: when she touches another person or anything that belongs to them — from clothes to textbooks to cell phones — she sees a vision of their emotions. She can read a person’s fears and anxieties, their secrets and loves … and what they have yet to learn about calculus. This is helpful for her work as a math tutor, but it means she can never get close to people. Eva avoids touching anyone and everyone. People think it’s because she’s a clean freak — with the emphasis on freak — but it’s all she can do to protect herself from other people’s issues. 

Then one day a new student walks into Eva’s life. His jacket gives off so much emotional trauma that she falls to the floor. Eva is instantly drawn to Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist who also has a troubled home life, and her feelings only grow when she realises that she can touch Zenn’s skin without having visions. But when she discovers the history that links them, the truth threatens to tear the two apart.

What I Liked:
  • The concept, in some ways, is a little weird sounding but it was actually pretty cool. If you don't know what fractals are, google them. They're awesome. I feel that Brant pulled it off fairly well: though I think that never touching people or their belongings would be very difficult but it seemed plausible here. I liked how it was described as well, and the way that Brant described Eva's fear of her power. Because she can't fix what she sees, and she sees some pretty horrendous things.
  • The latter part of the book was definitely better than the beginning. At that point I was semi-hooked and felt that the story actually flowed a lot better writing-wise. This was clearly the part of the plot that Brant had totally figured out. I think part of the reason was because I liked Zenn too. He was very adorkable, patient and trustworthy. I like complex characters and he definitely fell into that category.
What I Disliked:
  • My biggest problem here was Eva herself. I found her so irritating. Brant obviously wrote her to be as 'nerdy' as possible and anti-anyone who had a social life and a normal IQ. But beyond that, she came across as so bitter all of the time and was actually really mean to her Aunt in the second half of the book. But what really got me the most was that Eva slut-shamed her own sister. Who was a child. It was a snarky comment, clearly meant to be funny but it almost made me vomit.
  • Brant really loved to info-dump and generally fill the book with a lot of useless information. I think it was to highlight Eva's love for maths, but I really don't care how many pints of milk there were, or how much the shopping bill came to. The repetition was aggravating too. I get it, looking after a lot of kids is hard and chaotic. I don't need to be reminded every page.
Overall Conclusion:
This book has a lot of potential to be really cool. It was more than the usual contemporary YA romance, with an added element of mathematical 'superpower'. I liked the concept, and even elements of the romance were enjoyable to read. Brant did seem to have a good grasp on teenage friendships and romances. However, an frustrating MC and writing that could have focused more on character development meant that I ended up not really being too bothered about this read.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Planned Reads For November.

Is it really November already? 2017 is almost over? Yikes! Still, another month means new reads for me to delve into and I have some really fun ones planned for this month! In the months leading up to Christmas I like my reads to be more wintery, longer, a little magical or sci-fi and literary. Colder months just give off those vibes for me.

My current read, 'The Goblins Of Bellwater' by Molly Ringle is leftover from last month but still fits early November perfectly. I've read a little of it and it's definitely magical, mysterious and contains a lot of mischief that is reminiscent of some of my favourite childhood movies. Yet, it's mature too and I look forward to seeing where the plot will take me! Inspired by Christina Rossetti's poem 'Goblin Market' it's a great tribute so far!

I really loved the first book in this series, 'The Bear & The Nightingale, so I have no doubt that Katherine Arden's 'The Girl In The Tower' will be just as magical and exciting. Based on Slavic fairy tales and folklore, it's the perfect time of the year for a book set in the winters of Russia.

Maybe a book set in the hot desert doesn't seem like an obvious wintery book read, but I like to throw in a curve ball every now and again, and this book certainly contains all the magic. I love reading YA based on folklore from cultures that are not European, and 'The Wrath & The Dawn' by RenĂ©e Ahdieh is just that. I feel like fairytales and fantasy are going to be a recurring theme this month.

Why not read a YA contemporary too? The truth is, this book still has a touch of magic in it but a real world setting which I like. Wendy Brant's 'Zenn Diagram' is about a young girl, obsessed with maths, who has powers that allow her to know things about people when she touches objects that they frequently come into contact with them. It's an interesting concept. I hope it translates well to paper!

This book has been on my TBR for too long, and finally I'm going to read it. 'The Novice' by Taran Matharu has a gorgeous cover, and reminds me a little of Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' series with demon companions and a University to study at. I do so love magical schools so I'm expecting good things from this book!

I can almost hear cries of outrage that I haven't read 'Six Of Crows' by Leigh Bardugo yet, especially when it's so obviously the kind of book I'd love. But I really wanted to finish her 'Grisha' series first and then take a little break so I come into it fresh. I'm ready to meet this ensemble of awesome characters I've heard so much about now!

That's right, I'm having another crack at 'Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years Of Pilgrimage' by Haruki Murukami. Like I said, I like literary fiction at this time of year, and I've never read one of Murukami's books before! I was going to read this in September, but didn't find time. Hopefully I can get to it this month!

Everyone knows that Marissa Meyer is probably one of my all time favourite authors. Not a single one of her 'Lunar Chronicles' disappointed me and I've been super excited about the sound of all her other books ever since. 'Renegades' is about super heroes and super villains, and I hope not only to see more of her futuristic visions, but also the complex, fun characters she often creates. I'm so lucky to have received an ARC of this book, and I'm not wasting another moment before reading it!