Monday, 4 February 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (28th January - 3rd February)...

Wedding preparations are going well! I met up with a couple of my lovely bridesmaids who are organising my hen do on Monday and I'm super excited for what it will be! It's a surprise though, so I'll have to wait and see...

I'm also pretty pleased with my reading this week, I managed to get through a couple of books to finish off January fairly successfully! I'm looking forward to doing an even better job in February and reading lots of fun reads. I've chosen a lot of Fantasy this month, so I have high hopes.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Viper' by Bex Hogan: NetGalley (01/02/19)
- 'Internment' by Samira Ahmed: NetGalley (01/02/19)
- 'In The Night Wood' by Dale Bailey: NetGalley (01/02/19)
- 'Foreign To You' by Jeremy Martin: NetGalley (03/02/19)

I Posted...

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Recently Added To My TBR List

January Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For February

Friday, 1 February 2019

Planned Reads for February.

It's my favourite time of the month - picking new reads! February is of course the home to Valentines day, but also LGBT+ History month, and so I'm in the mood for some reads to honour those two events, as well as something to acknowledge Black History month in the USA.

Continuing on from last month, there were a couple of reads that I didn't get to finish. One of these was 'Ash Princess' by Laura Sebastian! It's been on my TBR for so long now, but has so much in the synopsis that I love, including Cinderella vibes. I'm really excited to get round to it!

Next is a read chosen by a close friend of mine, Kiara, who is a third of the Reading Between The Tealeaves podcast trio! 'Everless' by Sara Holland is the first in a series she's been banging on about for quite some time, and has been on my TBR for even longer. I want to get round to it at last!

I'm hoping that 'Crooked Kingdom' by Leigh Bardugo will make my first finished series of the year. Ever since I read 'Six Of Crows' last year, this duology has been playing on my mind and I'm desperate to find out what happens to the characters I care about so much!

I can't wait to read Gita Trelease's 'Enchantée'. In fact, it's my most anticipated read of the year. I was so excited when My Kinda Book sent me a copy, and I can't wait to get into it!

'Proud', a collection compiled by Juno Dawson, is an anthology of LGBT+ stories, art and poetry and I am here for it. I honestly can't wait to read this book and am so happy that I received a copy!

An LGBT+ Fantasy about necromancers, a bisexual MC, creepy monsters and all held within a candy floss pink cover? Count. Me. In. I am so here for 'Reign Of The Fallen' by Sarah Glenn Marsh and as I've decided not to hold myself to much to challenges and read what I want to read, this is top priority.

I want more diversity in my reads, but I love me a good retelling. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how much I love Jane Austen's 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'Pride' is a recent retelling set within the black community. I'm super excited to get into this story!

After reading 'The Last' by Hanna Jameson, it reminded me of how much I'd liked 'Station Eleven' by Emily St. John Mandel all that time ago. Early last year, I bought another of her books, 'Last Night In Montreal'. It's a totally different genre but I'm excited to read some more literary fiction - it has been so long!

Thursday, 31 January 2019

January Wrap-Up.

January normally feels like a really long month to me, but actually I didn't feel that so much this time around! I got through a good few books though and I'm pleased with the four I managed.

  1. 'Glimpse' by Kendra Leighton. A likeable paranormal retelling of Alfred Noyes's poem 'The Highwayman'. The glimpses and plot development were the most engaging aspects, though it felt like it ended without a complete resolution. 3.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet' by Becky Chambers. It totally blew my socks off and I'm devastated I didn't start this book sooner. Great characters and relationships, and an interesting universe with so much detail! 5/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Sisters Of The Winter Wood' by Rena Rossner. An enchanting retelling of Christina Rossetti's poem 'Goblin Market'. I liked the Jewish representation and historical setting mixed with all the magic, but felt there was far too much plot, too many words to look up and not enough likeable characterisation. 2.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'The Last' by Hanna Jameson. I hadn't read a dystopian novel in a while and felt that the genre mixed with murder mystery was interesting. This would be a great read for a book club, it provokes a lot of thought and debate, but I think the characters were completely unlikeable and the plot did not conclude well. 3/5 stars.
This month I read three books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total three.

- Glimpse
- The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet
- The Sisters Of The Winter Wood

This month I read one book for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total one.

- The Last

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

As I move up the ranks I will change the badge accordingly, though I technically haven't earned this one yet...

This month I read two books for the Diversity Reading Challenge, making my yearly total two.

- The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet
- The Sisters Of The Winter Wood *This fit the mini challenges theme: Diverse folktales/ culture/ mythology OR diverse retelling OR non western setting)*

And here is my updated Bookish Bingo card:

Book Review: The Last; Hanna Jameson.

It's been a while since I've read dystopian literature, and I liked the look of this one! Especially as it was coupled with a murder mystery, it seemed like a fun blend of genres.

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Last
AUTHOR: Hanna Jameson
PAGES: 352
GENRE: Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Dystopian

RATING: 3/5 Stars

BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

BREAKING: London hit, thousands feared dead.

BREAKING: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm.

Jon Keller was on a trip to Switzerland when the world ended. More than anything he wishes he hadn't ignored his wife Nadia's last message. Twenty people remain in Jon's hotel. Far from the nearest city, they wait, they survive. Then one day, the body of a girl is found. It's clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer...

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what happens if the killer doesn't want to be found?

What I Liked:
  • Jameson is certainly a skilled writer. I liked the journal entry formatting - told day by day after the nuclear bombs hit, and all through Jon Keller's POV, a historian before the end of the world. It is an interesting way to read about the situation.
  • I think this book's greatest strength is its ability to provoke reflection and discussion. Many different cultures and personalities are within the band of twenty or so survivors and each have a different viewpoint on how to handle the various situations they come across throughout the story. It certainly made me think a lot about where I would stand within that.
What I Disliked:
  • This is very clearly relies on its characters to drive the story rather than actual plot points, and yet I hated them all. Everyone seemed infuriatingly short with each other, and mostly for no reason. Jon, the main POV, was a bit of a wet blanket with very little personality of his own other than the constant self pity. Then there was Tomi, his love interest with the worst attitude ever, Peter who was rude and argumentative to absolutely everyone and I'm supposed to believe is good with children, Dylan who thought it would be a grand idea to keep everything a secret and Tania who infuriated me towards the end of the book. Ugh.
  • Considering the slow build and how much I was getting into the last third of the book, imagine my surprise at the really awfully revealed murderer. I didn't see it coming, and not in a good way. It was impossible to predict, which takes the fun out of murder mystery.
Overall Conclusion:
The concept of this book was cool, and I liked the element of critical thinking that was involved in reading it. There were a lot of influences from current events, which was a little sobering, and I thought the political and social debate aspect was interesting. But though I was mildly invested in what little plot there was, I found all of the characters infuriating and that became a big problem for me. I was also pretty disappointed with the murder's resolution all things considered. I think this would be a great read for a book club though, it poses some pretty interesting questions.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I've Recently Added To My TBR List'.

At this point, my TBR Pile is a beast very much out of control. I really need to go through and cull it down, but I looked at the latest twenty additions here and picked the ten I'm most excited about/desperate to read!

1) 'Redwall' by Brian Jacques.

I am very aware that this is a very old series. In fact, I remember it being in my school library! But it's a beloved fantasy epic saga, and contains talking animal characters which I really love the look of! I can't believe it wasn't on my TBR before!

2) 'The Lost Coast' by Amy Rose Capetta.

Queer. Witches. Need I go on? I love this cover, and the synopsis gives me the same vibes that Laure Eve's 'The Graces' gave me, so I'm very intrigued and excited by this book!

3) 'We Contain Multitudes' by Sarah Henstra.

I am living for m/m reads thanks to my newly discovered love for webcomics, and this novel looks awesome! It's so nice to see so many LGBT+ releases coming our way in 2019.

4) 'Castle Of Lies' by Kiersi Burkhart.

I'd been hoping to stumble across some YA Fantasy with a gorgeous cover! There looks to be a lot of interesting representation (LGBT+ and I've even read about poly relationships) so hopefully it's all done well!

5) 'Wicked Fox' by Kat Cho.

Give me that Korean mythology now *grabby hands*!! The cover is stunning, it contains heavy references to the nine-tailed fox/gumiho folklore (similar to Japan's kitsune) and I am so here for my favourite fox spirit!

6) 'A Closed & Common Orbit' by Becky Chambers.

Obviously this was a recent addition to the TBR due to only just reading 'A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet'. It's pretty high on my priority list, seeing as I loved the first book in the series so much!

7) 'The Merciful Crow' by Margaret Owen.

More fantasy! This one looks a little bit different too, with clans named after birds, mercy killers, and shapeshifters! It looks like there'll be three POV characters and I'm really excited to get to know them!

8) 'Before I Disappear' by Danielle Stinson.

A vanishing town? Getting trapped in a space that doesn't exist? I kind of love the sound of this urban fantasy mystery! It reminds me of Once Upon A Time actually, a TV Show I love. I'm getting some creepy vibes from it too.

9) 'Lord Of The Butterflies' by Andrea Gibson.

Time for a new collection of poetry? Maybe. Specifically Button Poetry, whose Youtube channel is full to the brim of talented poets and I would love to read more work from this publishing company.

10) 'In The Dark Corner, I Stood Alone' by Petra Pavlikova.

I love fairy tales, and this collection contains plenty of nods to the subject! In particular, it focuses on women, and I'm excited to hear the voices of witches, princesses, step-mothers, queens and all manner of fairy tale favourite archetypes in a new light.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Book Review: The Sisters Of The Winter Wood; Rena Rossner.

This felt like a good pick for Winter - I haven't been able to get hold of the last of Katherine Arden's finale for her 'Winternight Trilogy' yet so I wanted to read another book based upon Eastern European folklore and culture. I had some issues with this book though, which I'll get to in a tick.

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Sisters Of The Winter Wood
AUTHOR: Rena Rossner
PAGES: 464
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami's babka and the low rumble of their Tati's prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realise the old fairy tales are true...and could save them all.

What I Liked:
  • Rossner writes very well, and I liked the references to Rossetti's poem 'Goblin Market', one I really enjoyed studying at school all that time ago. This book is chock-full of magic and enchantment, and her ideas around the Goblins, the swans and the bears were pretty cool. I think that was probably my favourite aspect of the book.
  • There has to be a shoutout to the #OwnVoices aspect of this book, as the characters in this book fiercely represent Rossner's own history. I liked the Jewish representation, and the way that the magic of the story interweaved so well with the true story of unrest in Ukraine at the time.
What I Disliked:
  • As much as I liked the incorporation of Jewish culture into this book, the amount of italicised Yiddish and Ukrainian language became a bit of a problem. Every single page was full of it, and though there was a glossary in the back (I later discovered) my e-ARC prevented me from moving back and forth so I ended up looking so many words up and it interrupted the flow of the story so much. Educational, but irritating.
  • I really didn't like either of the sisters in this book. Considering that I was supposed to be rooting for them - this was an issue. Liba was stuck-up and naive about EVERYTHING and I found Laya so recklessly stupid most of the time. It meant that I had very little care for what actually happened to them?
  • I also think there was a bit too much plot to worry about - it felt as if Rossner had come up with this really great 'warring factions, bears vs. swans' idea with the parents and they were the main issue to watch out for, but then the Goblins were also something she wanted to include so they just popped up out of nowhere. It made keeping track of threats VERY confusing.
Overall Conclusion:
I didn't dislike this book. After all, it was magical, and written well, and I like to read fantastical, wintry fairy tales which this certainly was. But it had problematic elements that I couldn't ignore, and that made it only mediocre for me in the end. I wanted to be totally consumed and invested in what was going on, but instead I only found it mildly interesting. A shame, but still a quirky story.

Last Week's Shenanigans (21st January - 27th January)...

Had a really good week this week, mostly down to the fact that Mat and I officially gave our 'notice of marriage' and have been approved to do so by our local council. It's not that exciting really but it's something that we don't have to worry too much about now! The career experience at work is going well too, and we had our first official meeting which was very positive! I'm really enjoying it.

Mat and I went for dinner at Barrio's, Soho with a couple of friends on Sunday, which was lovely. The food was great and the atmosphere very relaxed with some pretty eclectic 90s remix music choices. The company was the best thing though - I had a wonderful time!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'Voices Of Powerful Women' by Zoë Sallis: Netgalley (23/01/19)
- 'Stronger, Faster & More Beautiful' by Arwen Elys Dayton: Netgalley (25/01/19)

I Posted...

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant To Read In 2018