Sunday, 30 September 2018

September Wrap-Up.

Absolutely blown away by the amount of reading I managed this month! So much more than usual, that's for sure! Granted, there were a few web-comics that didn't take me quite as much time, but I'm very pleased with my seven managed reads!

  1. 'Into The Jungle' by Katherine Rundell. This was a very sweet collection of origin stories for some of my favourite The Jungle Books characters! I particularly enjoyed Baloo's, and I think they each had a great lesson to teach, as well as providing an interesting imagining of how the characters could have become the ones we know and love. I'd highly recommend this for fans of the original books, or even the Disney adaptation! 4/5 Stars.
  2. 'Steve & Mark' by Tab Kimpton. Things about this comic didn't quite work for me: the rushed and slightly lacklustre artwork, and the fact that I don't feel a burning need to finish the other stories being the major pain points. But this was definitely a very sweet, sincere story about coming of age, finding out about your sexuality, and coming to terms with it. I liked the inclusion of characters who will be getting their own stories too. 2.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov. I went into this feeling more than a bit anxious. The topic is so taboo and horrifying to me that I worried I would hate every moment of the story. Especially as I'd seen it described as romantic by so many people. But a few chapters in, I realised I would enjoy this book because we are not supposed to find the child raping, kidnapping MC at all charming or likeable as he imagines himself to be. In fact, he's one of the best unreliable narrators I've read in a long time. 4.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding' by Alexandra Bracken. It had been a while since I had read an MG book, but Autumn felt the right time of year for a book filled with family curses, demons and witches. I liked the story and some of the character input - Alastor in particular. I wish the characters were a bit more three-dimensional though. 3/5 Stars.
  5. 'Teahouse [Ch.1]' by Emirain. I had real mixed feelings about the start of this series. On the one hand, I'm pretty intrigued by both it's popularity, the relationships that are developing and the plot. On the other hand, I really hate that everyone is so obsessed with sex in the book and so little plot is given as a result. I'll keep going with it to see if it there's any real story there. 3/5 Stars.
  6. 'Folk' by Zoe Gilbert. I really enjoyed this short story collection a lot - it was atmospheric, beautifully written and had the perfect mix of the supernatural and the real. A couple of the stories didn't engage me like the others, but there was truly some exceptional stuff here and it covered a lot of dark themes too. 4/5 Stars.
  7. 'Solitaire' by Alice Oseman. I have wanted to read this book for some time and took the opportunity to do so because I'm now absolutely desperate to read 'Heartstopper', a story focussing on two of the characters in this book. While I liked this book, especially the familiar Kent Grammar School setting, I didn't really like the MC all that much and would have preferred a book with a more interesting start and less bizarre climax. 3.5/5 Stars.

This month I read five books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total so far twenty nine.

- Steve & Mark
- Lolita
- The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding
- Teahouse [Ch. 1]
- Solitaire

This month I read zero books for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total so far one.

I read two books for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total so far eleven.

- Into The Jungle
- Folk

I read three book for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, making my yearly total so far nineteen.

- Into The Jungle
- The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding
- Folk

Here is the result for Pretty Deadly Blog's Bookish Bingo card.

Made Into A Movie: Lolita; Vladimir Nabokov
Middle Grade: The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding; Alexandra Bracken
One Word Title: Folk; Zoe Gilbert
Set In A School: Solitaire; Alice Oseman
Freebie: --
Dual POV: Steve & Mark; Tab Kimpton
Less Than 300 Pages: Teahouse [Ch.1]; Emirain
Features Animals: Into The Jungle; Katherine Rundell

Book Review: Solitaire; Alice Oseman.

It's been quite a while since I read 'Radio Silence', my first Alice Oseman read which I adored. I heard recently that she had created a M/M web-comic, 'Heartstopper' and wanted so badly to read it! It's based around two characters from 'Solitaire' though, which I needed to read first...

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Solitaire
AUTHOR: Alice Oseman
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins Children's Books
PAGES: 392
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

What I Liked:
  • I actually found that I was pretty gripped by this book, especially as I got further into it. I read it while I was on holiday, and in the latter half I didn't want to put it down! It's difficult to feel that with a book, especially if you initially had reservations. I really liked that about it, and the fact that there were a few different plot elements definitely helped.
  • I think the thing I liked most about it was the fact that I could relate to the setting so well! Like Oseman, I attended a British Grammar school in Kent and mine was an all-girls too! I could envisage everything so exactly as it basically described my school life.
What I Disliked:
  • My main issue was that I really didn't like Tori Spring, the MC, all that much! I found her cynical, bitchy, rude and a fairly immature representation of depression. I really advocate for depictions of mental health issues in books but only when done right. This just felt like severe teenage angst.
  • The plot, especially in the first half, really didn't seem to be going anywhere. I figured out who Solitaire was pretty quickly and didn't care about any of the character's dramas (though I did like Michael a lot, and will forever ship Nick and Charlie). Like I said, it picked up in the middle of the book but the ending also fell a bit flat because it seemed so climactic it was a little on the ridiculous side.
Overall Conclusion:
So, this might have been Oseman's debut, but I certainly liked 'Radio Silence' a lot more. Not only that, but I felt that the writing here was a little immature in comparison, which I suppose is to be expected considering how young Oseman was when this was published. I wish I'd liked Tori more and though I liked the LGBT+ representation, the mental health issues portrayed in this book felt a I definitely found the setting relatable though, and was totally hooked by the middle part of the book, so I'll give it points for that! I'm still really looking forward to reading 'Heartstopper'!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Book Review: Folk; Zoe Gilbert.

It's been a while since I've read a collection of short stories, and seeing as this one is so centred around folklore, it seemed the perfect Autumn read.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

AUTHOR: Zoe Gilbert
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Adult, Magical Realism, Horror, Short Stories

RATING: 4/5 Stars

The remote island village of Neverness is a world far from our time and place.

The air hangs rich with the coconut-scent of gorse and the salty bite of the sea. Harsh winds scour the rocky coastline. The villagers' lives are inseparable from nature and its enchantments.

Verlyn Webbe, born with a wing for an arm, unfurls his feathers in defiance of past shame; Plum is snatched by a water bull and dragged to his lair; little Crab Skerry takes his first run through the gorse-maze; Madden sleepwalks through violent storms, haunted by horses and her father's wishes. 

As the tales of this island community interweave over the course of a generation, their earthy desires, resentments, idle gossip and painful losses create a staggeringly original world. Crackling with echoes of ancient folklore, but entirely, wonderfully, her own, Zoe Gilbert's Folk is a dark, beautiful and intoxicating debut.

What I Liked:
  • I really loved the supernatural and folklore elements to this book. From the very first tale, 'Prick Song', it was clear exactly the kind of book I'd be reading, and it really made me excited for what was to come. Spirits, creatures and events were used to explore some really dark themes in this collection, and I loved it! Favourite stories included 'Long Have I Lain Beside The Water' for it's take on grief, 'Swirling Cleft' for a sweet, maternal story about Selkies, and 'Verlyn's Blessing' about accepting your differences and being proud of them.
  • Gilbert's writing was absolutely gorgeous. One of my favourite examples of this was found in 'Fishskin, Hareskin' which shone a unique light on postpartum depression. But I loved the atmosphere that her words cast upon these tale, and the way that they really interweaved to create a whole.
What I Disliked:
  • Thanks to the lyrical style, at times the stories could be a little hard to follow. They require a certain amount of re-reading to pick apart what's happening, but in this case it's not necessarily a negative thing. I loved unpicking the symbolism personally.
  • There were, as is the case in any collection, a couple of stories that didn't take my fancy in the same way as the others. 'Kite' I found to be a little confusing, and 'Turning' was almost entirely skippable because not a whole lot happened. That being said, they had their own merits and definitely contributed to the wider picture.
Overall Conclusion:
I really enjoyed reading these stories, and they were the perfect seasonal read for sure! Firstly, each story was unique and captivating, and I loved that they spanned a whole generation from the same place and we got to see different characters in each one. I would pounce on another collection like this from Gilbert, as  found it haunting, visceral and captivating from beginning to end. Also, I love that it was based around the Isle Of Mann!

Monday, 24 September 2018

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

Well guys, I can scarcely believe this but...I bought my wedding dress! SQUEEEEEE! It fits beautifully (only a few alterations needed), and I don't want to give too much away about it but I adore it and am looking forward to my wedding even more now as a result! It's been a pretty good week for me to be honest, a friend of ours came to have dinner and a catch-up which was lovely and we are going on holiday VERY SOON to Cyprus! Yay!

I Read...

I Received...



Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Autumn TBR List

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Mini Review: Teahouse [Ch. 1]; Emirain.

So I'm going through a bit of a phase at the moment. LGBT+, M/M web-comics! And I found a list on Goodreads that had this at the top! I thought I'd give it a go!

SOURCE: Internet
TYPE: Web Comic

TITLE: Teahouse
AUTHOR: Emirain
SERIES: Teahouse (Ch. #1)
GENRE: LGBT+, Graphic Novel, Web Comic, Erotica

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Welcome to The Teahouse, where a motley bunch are ready to serve in and out of the bed. Enter Sir Rhys, a regular client who has turned The Teahouse upside down with his blunt put-downs and skilled moves. Will he choose shy virgin Rory, or the ladies' favorite Axis? Axis is hoping he won't have to service Sir Rhys again, but he can't get him out of his head! What will happen when these two opposites meet again in the bedroom?

Overall Conclusion:
This was sitting right at the top of the M/m web-comic/graphic novel list that I found on Goodreads, so to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. Firstly, before I say anything else, this is not going to be completed. Emirain got a few chapters in and then announced that they would not be continuing, which was a real shame for me to discover after reading chapter one. I also didn't enjoy the instant smut, and the fact that everyone just kept talking about having sex (after all, the Teahouse is a brothel) didn't make room for a whole lot of character development. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a prude (I liked the saucier scenes a lot actually), but I do like a bit of a build. I am intrigued by Axis and Rhys though, and hope to see more of them in the few future chapters that there are. Also, the art is stunning.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Book Review: The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding; Alexander Bracken.

Autumn is upon us, and it's the time of year that I start craving an edge of the paranormal in my books. This one, despite being MG (an age group I don't read often), took my fancy because it contained what I wanted - witches, family curses, demons and magic.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding
AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken
The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding (#1)
PUBLISHER: Disney Hyperion
PAGES: 368
GENRE: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Prosper Redding is the only unexceptional member of his very successful family — that is, until he discovers a demon living inside him. Turns out, Prosper's great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. Now Alastor, the malefactor, has reawakened and is intent on destroying the Redding fortune, unless they can kill him in the body he inhabits, which, oh, wait, that's Prosper, and why is his grandmother coming at him with a silver blade? 

In danger from both the demon trying to take over his soul and the family that would rather protect their fortune than their own kin, Prosper narrowly escapes with the help of his long lost Uncle Barnabas and Barnabas's daughter, Nell, a witch in training. According to Barnabas and Nell, they have only days to break the family curse and find a way to banish Alastor back to the demon realm. Until then, Prosper has to deal with Alastor's vengeful mutterings inside his head (not to mention his nasty habit of snacking on spiders). And, every night, Alastor's control over his body grows stronger...

As the deadline to the curse draws nearer, Prosper and Nell realize there's more at stake than just the Redding family fortune. . . that there might be something else out there, something worse than Alastor, that could destroy the balance between the human and demon realms and change the world as they know it forever.

What I Liked:
  • Plot-wise, the pacing of it was a lot better than my last Bracken read, 'Passenger'. I felt like it was actually going somewhere, and didn't find myself becoming bored as I read through it. I also liked a lot of the plot elements, and it was a good, spooky read with plenty of supernatural shenanigans to keep me entertained!
  • I liked a lot of the character relationships, particularly between Nell and Prosper, because it developed slowly from the initial distrust to something akin to friendship. I think that my favourite character had to be Alastor though, and he was certainly unique in his input! He provided a ton of entertaining moments and I liked that he changed over the course of the book too.
What I Disliked:
  • While the characters were likeable, they were also very two-dimensional. I didn't see any real complexity in their personalities, and didn't really fall in love with any of them either (save for maybe Toad the changeling cat). They were, for the most part, pretty bland.
  • The writing itself lacked a sense of maturity (mostly because of it's MG status) and alongside that came some pretty stilted dialogue. Also, in some of the most important moments things seemed to happen very quickly and left me having to re-read a lot. Not fun.
Overall Conclusion:
This wasn't bad. I liked a lot of elements within the plot, and especially the unique twist of Alastor as it gave the book an extra, pleasant vibe. That being said, I didn't fall for it either because it lacked the development to totally capture my attention. I did like the finale a lot, and will consider picking up the second in the series to see how things turn out.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books On My Autumn TBR List'.

Yay, my favourite type of topic! I love planning ahead (even if I do rarely follow my plans) as it gets me excited about certain books I'd love to read! Now for Autumn, I like mysteries, horror, a bit of fantasy of historical fiction and deeply coloured book covers!

1) 'Solitaire' by Alice Oseman.

I previously read 'Radio Silence' by Oseman, and I loved it a lot. Being set in Kent it was so relatable and I loved the characters and diversity in the book. Now that I'm into webcomics, I've noticed that she's written one called 'Heartstopper' and I really want to read it. I believe the characters are from 'Solitaire' and so I would like to read that first. Also, this was Alice's debut and every time I read the synopsis, I get really excited by it!

2) 'Retribution Rails' by Erin Bowman.

*Plays The Good, The Bad & The Ugly theme* Cowboys! Or should I say, cowgirls! I'm a big fan of the Wild West as a setting, thanks to watching them a lot with my Dad. I really loved 'Vengeance Road' which was Bowman's first book from this series.I don't know why it's taken me so long to get round to 'Retribution Rails', but I'm determined to read it this Autumn!

3) 'The Corset' by Laura Purcell.

The first of a few scary picks, this is definitely a book I'm excited about. I received it from NetGalley fairly recently and was so excited because I've heard so many great things about Purcell's other work, 'The Silent Companions'. This one looks equal parts creepy and original. I'm certain I've never read anything like it! I can't wait!

4) 'A Study In Charlotte' by Brittany Cavallaro.

I'm a big fan of Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' series, so it makes sense that I want to be reading this YA retelling by Brittany Cavallaro. I've heard some really impressive things about it, and its been on my TBR for a while! Also, Autumn is definitely the right time of year for mysteries!

5) 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern.

I have been waiting to read this book for some time, and hopefully I'll get to it within the next few months. It's a little longer than some of my usual reads but does come highly recommended and I kind of want to read it just for that! Alongside great reviews, this book contains a lot of my favourite tropes. 

6) 'The Twisted Tree' by Rachel Burge.

Of course I'm going to read a horror in October, it's halloween month! I'm so excited! Honestly guys, this book went straight on the TBR as soon as I read that it was perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman's 'Coraline', and as well as that, I love that it's classified as a Nordic thriller too.

7) 'That Inevitable Victorian Thing' by E.K. Johnston.

'That Inevitable Victorian Thing' is written by E.K. Johnston, an author whose previous work I've adored, but I look forward to her bizarre twist on history and how victorian society remained 'the norm' as years went by. I'm getting real Bioshock vibes from this one!

8) 'Nevernight' by Jay Kristoff.

Ooh, a story about assassins? Yes please! The covers for this series are gorgeous and I love them a lot! I can't wait to get stuck into these books, especially as they've received such great reviews!

9) 'The Sisters Of The Winter Wood' by Rena Rossner.

This book has a beautiful cover, and that is mostly what I've been drawn to when it comes to my desire to read it. But upon inspecting the synopsis, I want to even more! It's filled with enchantment, fairy tales, folklore and a dash of magical realism. I'm expecting big things from this one.

10) 'The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet' by Becky Chambers.

The colder months always feel like the perfect time to read sci-fi to me for some reason. I'm not sure why. I'm especially excited about this one because it's been hailed as a great read for fans of Mass Effect, one of my favourite space-set open world video games, so I definitely think it will be up my alley.