Monday, 16 January 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (9th January - 15th January)...

This week has been pretty quiet, with nothing really to do except work and wait for the end of the week so I could start my time off work (I booked a week's holiday). On the Monday, Mat and I went to the cinema to see 'A Monster Calls' and it was so good! I've been wanting to see this film for months, especially as the book was amazing! Just like the book, the film was heart-wrenching and beautiful. The cinematography, animation and acting really stood out, and I loved every second of it (I also cried...a lot).

And that about sums up the week. On Sunday I spent the day relaxing and taking some time out for myself, because recently I've been feeling pretty drained and in need of respite. I'm really glad I was able to take some time off so early in the year!

I Read...

I Received...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Book Review: A Quiet Kind Of Thunder; Sara Barnard.

This book has been pretty high on my TBR list ever since it was first announced! After all, I really enjoyed Barnard's debut 'Beautiful Broken Things' and I was overjoyed when Pan Macmillan sent me an ARC of my own to read. I finally got round to this gorgeous book and it blew my expectations out of the water! It also contributes to my Monthly Key Word Challenge!

SOURCE: ARC Sent By Publisher
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: A Quiet Kind Of Thunder
AUTHOR: Sara Barnard
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Children's Books
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. 

What I Liked:
  • The diversity was by far the best aspect of this book because Sara Barnard became one of those few, rare authors who remembered that not everyone is white, straight and physically/mentally able. Steffi, the MC, suffers from crippling Anxiety and Selective Mutism. Rhys, the love interest is mixed race and deaf which has to be the first time I've read that in a story ever. Even side characters such as Tem (who is black) are diverse and it really gave the story much more depth.
  • Barnard's ability to write good characters and gorgeous relationships is incredible. I knew this from 'Beautiful Broken Things' but didn't know that she could pull off romance just as well as friendship! She didn't let friendship go completely, and watching Steffi and Tem interact was just as heart-warming to read as following Steffi and Rhys' relationship. I liked that they started as friends, I like that their feelings grew over a longer time than is usually found in YA, and everything from the initial 'crush' to the development into love felt so realistic. 
  • Boy, did this author do some fantastic research. I already know from my own experiences about anxiety and I can safely say that Barnard was either pulling from her own experiences or went to town in nailing exactly what it feels like from other people because she got it so right. As for the inclusion of the deaf community, BSL and the hardships that come with being deaf, Barnard taught me so much and I'm glad she bravely decided to tackle the topic. Rhys, as I said before, was a great character with boyish charm and a adorable, fun nature. But even better, he came with his own insecurities and vulnerable moments which is important to be seen in a guy too.
What I Disliked:
  • Honestly, I didn't dislike anything about this book. If I had to pick something I wanted to be improved I'd say that the ending seemed to cut off a little strangely, as if Barnard wasn't 100% sure how to finish her masterpiece. The pacing towards the climax of the book felt a little quick too, but I still really liked how the book ended and have 100% fallen for every one of those characters.
Overall Conclusion:
Gah! Everything about this book makes me want to squeal and I think I'll be having a book hangover for a few days after this one. I don't usually like romance but this perfectly and realistically portrayed how teenage romance feels, and I loved the inclusion of so many realistic scenarios such as first time sex (and hand job) in a way that doesn't normally get seen in YA or in fact most books. It was messy, awkward and yet still kind of hot, which is exactly what it is like. Especially the first time. I liked this book even better than 'Beautiful Broken Things' and I'm really looking forward to the next Barnard book!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Book Review: The Bear & The Nightingale; Katherine Arden.

So for my first read of the year, this was the perfect choice because it was wintery and a 2017 debut and based around Fairy Tales and folklore, my favourite kind of story! I really liked it too!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Bear & The Nightingale
AUTHOR: Katherine Arden
PAGES: 336
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Adult, Retelling

RATING: 5/5 Stars

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods...

What I Liked:
  • The characters were really well constructed. The MC was obviously Vasya who was kind, independent and a pretty badass heroine, but other characters were given a turn of revealing backstory and complex character qualities too. Anna Ivanovna was a prime example of this, as she would have only been considered a wicked step-mother archetype if she had not been given a couple of POV chapters towards the beginning of the story. I also loved some of the mythical characters, especially Morozko, the Rusalka and the Domovoi because they were given such interesting personalities.
  • Speaking of the magic and mythical lore, there was so much of this in 'The Bear & The Nightingale'. I'm not overly familiar with Russia's culture and Slavic mythology: the extent of my knowledge is having heard of Baba Yaga and barely knowing what a Rusalka is. So, it was so much fun to learn new things about another country's stories and legends. It was done in such an enchanting and magical way too, Arden really does write beautifully and has a knack  for both storytelling and building a rich world. 
What I Disliked:
  • Towards the end, I did feel like the pacing became a little too fast in that it felt rushed in some areas. So many events happened at once that it was a little hard to process everything after such a slow build over a number of years. This was really only a minor quibble however, because there was just so much good in this story!
Overall Conclusion:
This book was such a great read, and gave me all the feels. There was some really interesting character work that played to archetypes and yet felt fresh, and I adored the visual imagery and rich world. Arden deserves all the credit for this debut and I'm seriously so happy to find out that Arden is creating a three part series set in this world because there were a few unresolved plot-lines that I'd like to find out the conclusion of!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (2nd January - 8th January)...

I had a lovely week despite being fully back at work now. Monday was another day off with Mat so we spent it together, and had a 'Date Day'. Firstly, we went to Stratford so I could go to the opticians (not so romantic) and shopping. I bought a few bits from LUSH, browsed HMV for some vinyls for my record player, and ate waffles for brunch, followed by pie for lunch. Then we made our way to the cinema to watch Moana, which is my new favourite film! The soundtrack is so addictive and I think they've done the Polynesian culture real justice. Amazing day all round!

Then, after working for five days straight again, Sunday was George's birthday so he (and later Tash) came over to watch Star Wars, play games and have a chill day. Later in the evening we braved the Tube strikes and headed to Stratford in order to see our other friends at the Loading Bar, a place that Mat and I had never been. Fans of video, tabletop and arcade games should definitely check this place out. It's definitely one for the nerds and they have a huge selection on offer as well as some neat themed cocktails to try!

I Read...


I Received...



Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Debuts I'm Looking Forward To

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for '2017 Debut Novels I Am Looking Forward To'.

This time of year is my favourite for this meme because there are so many reflection and looking forward posts! Debut novels are always fun to read, and like last year I'm hoping to read more of them, so I'm pleased this post is going to let me look forward to next year's!

1) 'The Bear & The Nightingale' by Katherine Arden.

As I'm currently reading this (a little ahead of it's release date) it felt like the ideal choice for this list. I've been really excited about reading it because it's not only a retelling, but is also based around Russian folklore rather than the kinds of fairy tales I'm used to. It's gorgeously written so far and I'm hoping it remains a strong debut.

2) 'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber.

Man I am so looking forward to this book! Who can blame me though really, as I'm pretty sure this pick will be appearing on everyone's list due to it's strong position on the hype train. I like books that involve circuses and performance, it promises a sisterly bond, and plenty of magic too to keep me interested! I can't wait!

3) 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones.

Okay, so I love the film 'Labyrinth' and the synopsis for this sounded similar which got me excited! It also has elements of 'Beauty & The Beast' incorporated, which is even better! This is definitely very high on the anticipated reads list, largely due to the very intriguing synopsis, but also because of that beautiful cover. I cannot wait to get hold of this book!

4) 'Blood Rose Rebellion' by Rosalyn Eves.

Every year there's a new craze for covers and this year it's roses. I've seen so many gorgeous books with silver or white roses on them, and this cover really caught my eye. Upon reading the synopsis I was pleasantly surprised to discover a read that sounds like it has real potential. Historical fiction is a genre that I love, and that is where Eves' debut falls. Of course this also happens to include a little Fantasy, which is just what I like!

5) 'Wicked Like A Wildfire' by Lana Popović.

I've had mixed experiences with books involving witches, either finding them totally spellbinding, or lacking in personality and originality. I'm hoping that this will have elements of Sarah Addison Allen's work while still feeling fresh, and the ideas behind their powers shown in the synopsis seems like a lot of fun. Also, that cover is beautiful

6) 'Poison's Kiss' by Breeana Shields.

We all know I love folklore, myths and legends and after reading Chokshi's 'The Star Touched Queen' I want to read more books based around Indian culture and legends. This book has appeared a couple of times on my radar but it wasn't until reading the synopsis that I really wanted to read it. It also includes assassin's, which is an added bonus for me because books with assassins included are probably my favourite kind.

7) 'Girls Made Of Snow & Glass' by Melissa Bashardoust.

The title more than anything drew me to this book, because it sounded like it was going to be based on a Fairy Tale or two. I certainly wasn't wrong. It's a re-imagining of 'Snow White & The Seven Dwarves' of course! The synopsis also describes it as a feminist novel, so that has me really hopeful for the female characters of the book. Sadly no cover yet for this one, but I have no doubt it will be beautiful!

8) 'A List Of Cages' by Robin Roe.

I requested this book from Netgalley a while back. Admittedly this was mostly due to the gorgeous cover, but having since read the synopsis of this darker contemporary, I'm totally into it! I haven't read many books that involve the foster system, have an MC with ADHD or goes into some 'dark places' so I'm intrigued to see exactly what happens.

9) 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas.

This book intrigued me when I was hunting for some more diverse reads and it is of particular import right now because it's entire plot-line is based on the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, which is an important social issue right now. I haven't even read it yet but I am rooting for and excited by this book because of it's synopsis and relevance right now.

10) 'The Love Interest' by Cale Dietrich.

Yet another pick for the diverse reads list, and this one's a cracker because it takes those age old YA tropes and completely blows them off the map! Everyone knows the story of the girl who meets and half falls for two boys, one normally kind-hearted and the other the local bad boy, and then is forced to choose between them. Now imagine that those two boys were agents, sent to spy on and seduce her. Now also imagine that instead, they begin to fall for each other... As if this doesn't sound like a great read!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (26th December - 1st January)...

Wow, what a week! I have to say it's been pretty busy, and I'm looking forward to telling you guys all about the second part of my Christmas holiday from work, and then about my new year too! Boxing Day was the day for Mat's family to visit, and once again we had a lovely buffet ready to prepare. They came around mid-morning and we found plenty of time for chatting, games, music, food and fun. It was so lovely because it felt like we had a three day Christmas, each day bringing more presents!

On the 27th, I set off down to Ashford to see my family once more and this time stay with them overnight into the 28th. Every time I visit Ashford, it changes so much and I'm reminded of how quiet and different it is down there. I actually miss it in a lot of ways! I spent the afternoon and evening of the 27th chilling with my parents and sister, and trying out a few things on my Dad's Xbox One that we bought him for Christmas. Then on the 28th, I headed up town to meet a couple of friends from school that I hadn't seen in a long time. We went for a drink at Starbucks before wandering around some of the shops in town for a while. It was the perfect end to my time in Ashford, and in the evening I returned to London ready for work again the next day.

Not much happened other than work on the 29th and the 30th December, but of course the 31st was New Years Eve and after work (which closed early) Mat and I headed to Meg and Tash's house for a celebration. We don't normally go out on New Year's eve so it was nice to spend time with friends for the evening. Mat and I left not long after one in the morning (free travel, hooray!) and rolled straight into bed ready for a lovely day off on New Years day! It's been a chaotic but enjoyable week and I got many lovely additions to my book collection too!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Good Bones' by Margaret Atwood: Bought on Amazon (26/12/16)
- 'Radio Silence' by Alice Oseman: Bought on Amazon (27/12/16)
- 'Three Dark Crowns' by Kendare Bake: Present from Catherine (28/12/16)
- 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern: Present from Catherine (28/12/16)
- 'The Woman In Black & Other Ghost Stories' by Susan Hill: Present from Isobel (28/12/16)
- 'The Memory Book' by Lara Avery: Approved by Netgalley (01/01/17)
- 'The Trap' by Alan Gibbons: Approved by Netgalley (01/01/17)


I Posted...

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Planned Reads For January.

Hooray, a new year means a new set of books to read! I'm excited about this month's reads too, because there's a few 2017 releases as well as some books I had meant to read in 2016 that I'd been really looking forward to!

  1. 'The Bear & The Nightingale' by Katherine Arden. I've already started a little of this one and I'm loving it already! It's based around Russian folklore which is something I don't delve into often, and has some gorgeous imagery, intriguing characters and the promise of a magical story. I can't wait to read it all and see what it holds!

  1. 'A Quiet Kind Of Thunder' by Sara Barnard. I had really hoped to read this book in December, but during the month it's due to be released is also fine! I loved 'Beautiful Broken Things' at the start of 2016, so I'm sure this will be an equally gorgeous read that focuses on mental and physical handicaps, friendship (my favourite thing to read about) and teenage issues.
  2. 'Rebel Of The Sands' by Alwyn Hamilton. Finally I get to read this book! I'm not going to pass up the opportunity again, as I kept missing it last year despite it being my most anticipated read. 'Traitor To The Thorne', it's sequel, is out soon so I desperately need to catch up and I'm looking forward to a gun toting heroine racing across the hot desert sands!
  3. 'The Loneliness Of Distant Beings' by Kate Ling. I had been hoping to read a science fiction book this month and was originally going to reach for 'Illuminae' when I remembered about this little read that has been sitting on my Netgalley shelf for quite some time and I've never got round to. Such a shame because it looks like a lovely read and I think it might be a nice stand-alone to get into.
  4. 'Saint Death' by Marcus Sedgwick. I have never read anything by this guy, despite the fact that I own a copy of two of his books! Seeing as I'm making a concerted effort to be more diverse in my reading, this Mexican set YA contemporary looks like a good read and I'm looking forward to learning about some of the social issues surrounding a culture I actually know very little about.
  5. 'The Bone Sparrow' by Zana Fraillon. A book about refugees is bound to highlight some very important issues that our world is currently facing, and I think that this will be a sweet, heart-warming read. The fact that it is a Middle Grade book aimed at a younger audience is even better because I feel that education on these matters from an early age is important.
  6. 'Under Rose Tainted Skies' by Louise Gornall. This was another December read that I didn't quite get round to, but that's okay. I am looking forward to this one because it covers a topic fairly close to my heart, anxiety. In fact it focuses specifically on Agoraphobia, which I don't actually suffer from but enjoyed reading about in Michael Christie's 'If I Fall, If I Die' so I'm hoping that this read will be a little more serious about the matter and a great story all in one.