Monday, 5 March 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (26th February - 4th March)...

This was my official final week at my old workplace and the start of my training for the new! How exciting! Unfortunately, during the week, I did have a little issue thanks to the vast amounts of snow that came to the UK (including London)! I fell and twisted my ankle! It is feeling a lot better now but it did give me a number of issues throughout the week which was a little annoying. I did also have a very long week of working which has not been overly fun. But, I'm excited to start my new job!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Ash Princess' by Laura Sebastian: Approved by Netgalley (28/02/18)
- 'The Poet X' by Elizabeth Acevedo: Approved by Netgalley (28/02/18)
- 'Spectacle Vol. 1' by Megan Rose Gedris: Approved by Netgalley (01/03/18)
- 'I Was Born For This' by Alice Oseman: Approved by Netgalley (03/03/18)
- 'Final Draft' by Riley Redgate: Approved by Netgalley (03/03/18)

I Posted...

February Wrap-Up
Planned Reads for March
Bookish Bingo Sign-Up

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Bookish Bingo (March 2018 - May 2018) Sign-Up Post

So...supposedly it's Spring? Here in the UK right now we have a pretty big snow issue and it's so cold but I'm so excited for this anniversary, spring themed card! The Bookish Bingo challenge is, as always, run by Pretty Deadly Blog.

I'm so excited and I can already think of a ton of reads that I've been wanting to get to that fit in these categories! Hopefully, Spring reads will inspire the weather to start changing!

Planned Reads For March.

Right, so, by the end of this month we'll be a quarter of the way through the year? Crikey! I have got some great reads lined up to take my mind off the fact that 2018 is disappearing before my very eyes though!

I am starting my March off with my most anticipated read of the year! That's right, 'Children Of Blood & Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi is the book that has me most excited in 2018 and I'm finally able to pick up my gorgeous-looking ARC and read it! I'm loving it so far by the way, such an engaging Fantasy world.

Yes, yes. I know. 'The Novice' by Taran Matharu is going on hold again. But I have actually started it, and I promise that as soon as I've excitedly devoured 'Children Of Blood & Bone', I'll get straight to it!

I really do want to get to 'The Belles' by Dhonielle Clayton ASAP too. It looks so good! It was on my list for last month too, but we all know how poorly that went. I'm hoping I won't be hit by another reading slump to disrupt everything, but I have a really good feeling about this 2018 release!

This next book is a little older but while I don't normally go for thrillers, the cover and synopsis seem really exciting! 'The Outliers' by Kimberly McCreight has been on my radar for some time and I've had it on monthly TBRs a few times without ever getting to it.

'They Both Die At The End' will be my first ever Adam Silvera read which is quite exciting. I've only ever heard good things regarding his books! It certainly looks like a sweet story of love, friendship and comfort though the title is certainly making me feel that it's all going to end in tears for me!

I loved the Wonder Woman film when it came out last year! I much prefer the MCU to DC's stuff usually, but they really pulled out all the stops for this one. Am I going to read 'Wonder Woman: Warbringer' by Leigh Bardugo as a result? Absolutely! Bardugo is such a fantastic author too, I'm really excited!

Another book that was listed on my February TBR I know, but 'Warrior Witch' by Danielle L. Jensen is the last in the series and I'm determined not to put it off for years like I did book two, because it's such a good series! That cover is definitely my favourite of the three too, it's gorgeous!

This last book looks stunning. I've been wanting to read more fiction inspired by or set in Africa and Asia (hence my reading of 'Children Of Blood & Bone') and this one is set in Taiwan! 'The Astonishing Colour Of After' by Emily X.R. Pan has my hopes set high. I can't wait to immerse myself in a new culture!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

February Wrap-Up.

February certainly went a lot more quickly than January did! I certainly felt like my reading didn't go so well either, but I did manage a few good reads before the month was out! I got through four which was better than I thought I would do!

  1. 'Gilted' by Jill C. Flanagan. Yeah. I really didn't enjoy this first book. It was short, with a gorgeous cover and I could clearly envision the book it should have been: an exciting urban fantasy thriller, with great characters and writing. It missed the mark on all those things and I hated it's attitude towards both rape and women. Ugh. 1.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones. On the contrary, I adored this book! I'm so disappointed in myself for not reading it sooner! I'm a big fan of the film Labyrinth and this took the story-line and made some sexier, darker changes. Jae-Jones wrote very well and her world-building was fantastic. 5/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Dark Days Pact' by Alison Goodman. This was the sequel to 'The Dark Days Club', a book I read and adored a couple of years ago! I really liked this second book in the series, though I fell into a very unfortunate reading slump while reading it. Great characters, a sizzling romance, fantastic plot progression but the pacing was pretty slow. 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Goodbye, Perfect' by Sara Barnard. Yet another wonderful read that really rounded off the month fantastically. I can always rely on Sara Barnard for wonderful Contemporary YA. There were fantastic characters, it covered a lot of great issues and I think that Barnard gave a sensitive subject the care and attention it deserved.

This month I read three books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total so far seven.

- Gilted
- Wintersong
- The Dark Days Pact

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

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

- Goodbye, Perfect

I read two books for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, making my yearly total so far five.

- Gilted
- Goodbye, Perfect

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

Red Cover: The Dark Days Pact; Alison Goodman
2018 Debut: The Toymakers; Robert Dinsdale
Death: Matilda; Mary Shelley
Winter Release: Ghost Stories; Whit Taylor
Sci-Fi: Fairest; Marissa Meyer
Numbers In Title: Six Of Crows; Leigh Bardugo
2017 Release I Missed: Wintersong; S. Jae-Jones
Green Cover: Goodbye, Perfect; Sara Barnard
Freebie: --
Friend's Fave: The Happy Prince & Other Stories; Oscar Wilde
Fae, Fairies & Fair Folk: The Cruel Prince; Holly Black
Trees On Cover: The Gifts Of Reading; Robert MacFarlane
Wintry Title: In The Pines; Erik Kriek
Music Themes: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years Of Pilgrimage; Haruki Murakami
Cold Setting: Wolf Winter; Cecilia Ekbäck
Romance: Gilted; Jill C. Flanagan
Book That Was A Gift: The Worm & The Bird; Coralie Bickford-Smith
Holiday Theme: A Christmas Carol; Charles Dickens
Villainous: Renegades; Marissa Meyer

Book Review: Goodbye, Perfect; Sara Barnard.

This was a fantastic choice for my last February read, and I'm so glad I got round to this one and managed to get through it so quickly! Barnard is one of those authors whose books I automatically turn to, KNOWING it'll be good. I wasn't sure about the synopsis, but it surpassed my cautious expectations by miles!

SOURCE: ARC Sent By Publisher
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Goodbye, Perfect
AUTHOR: Sara Barnard
Macmillan Children's Books
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.

What I Liked:
  • The. Characters. Were. Amazing. Honestly, I loved Eden as an MC. She was a great representation of a teenager, a great mixture of naivety and 'growing up'. Her relationship with Connor was everything. It reminded me of my relationship with my fiancé, as we got together when we were teenagers. Also, a big shout out to the McKinleys. Best family ever! I loved that Barnard decided to make Eden and her sister adopted into the family, as I like to see diverse, interesting family situations in contemporary YA!
  • Barnard covered a lot of topics in this book, not just the touchy subject of a teacher-student relationship. Pressure on teenagers, exams and curriculum, responsibility, the power of journalism, underage sex, adoption & fostering, family relationships, young carers, WOW. So much stuff and it's truly what I love about Barnard's work. She is, and will forever be, on my MUST READ list.
What I Disliked:
  • I really can't think of anything. The plot does become a little stuck in one place after the initial revelation, until the final climax chapters. But I think that while it slowed the pace down, it meant that the issue was handled with care and looked at from all perspectives.
Overall Conclusion:
I mentioned that my expectations were a little cautious. I don't usually like the idea of reading about student-teacher relationships, it's a topic that makes me feel uncomfortable but I really felt that Barnard handled it perfectly. I was really hooked by the whole thing, especially the action-packed finale, and became so invested in the lives and relationships of every character. Seriously, I was so impressed and I'm so happy I got to read this book!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (19th February - 25th February)...

Well, this week has been massive for me! I am officially changing my job! This is big and exciting (and scary) for me as I don't tend to cope overly well with change, I'll be honest. But, I've been challenging myself to try new things and am desperate for a different environment. I will miss my old workplace a lot, but it's time to move on and this new job is a lot better for me in terms of pay, location and hours. Exciting!

Aside from that, not an awful lot else has happened. My friend from my home town was still here on Monday and she stayed for a while, which was lovely! The rest of my week has been taken up by work, watching some more of The Walking Dead and wedding planning (cakes and floristry to be specific)!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Things Bright & Beautiful' by Anbara Salam: Approved by Netgalley (23/02/18)

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Book Review: The Dark Days Pact; Alison Goodman.

This took me way too long to read. I've fallen into a bit of a slump for the last couple of weeks, but finally I've begun reading again. Slumps are the worst! Still, this was a good book, despite not liking it as much as I loved book one.

SOURCE: Bought (Gift Money)
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Dark Days Pact
AUTHOR: Alison Goodman
SERIES: Lady Helen (#2)
Walker Books
PAGES: 500
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

June 1812. 

Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen and her maid, Darby, to spend the summer season in Bristol, where Helen can sharpen her Reclaimer powers. Then the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work take hold, and his sanity begins to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. 

The stakes are ever higher for Helen, and her decision will truly change the world…

What I Liked:
  • The world-building in this book is just as impressive as book one. Goodman is so meticulous in her detail, and I loved learning so much about the historical context of the early 1800s as well as the expansion on the rules of the Deceivers that Lady Helen is fighting. Merging the fantastical 'saving the world from demonic beasts' and very real 19th century British society and culture was awesome!
  • The characters were very memorable and well-developed. It has been a while since reading book one of the series, but I loved seeing Mr Hammond and Darby again, as well as meeting new characters like Sprat! Helen and Carlston grew a lot during this book and I liked watching their sizzling romance develop, though I'm sad that there wasn't more of them together in this book.
  • Goodman writes very well and executed this plot perfectly. Helen really came into her own as a strong, clever character and it felt like an important part of the overriding story instead of filler material. I'm very keen to find out what happens next!
What I Disliked:
  • I didn't like this as much as I liked book one. As much as I felt Goodman did a great job with this sequel, the huge amount of time it took me to read this meant that I found it a little too easy to put down for days on end. That's partly down to the slump of course, but also this book's pacing was very slow.
  • That cliffhanger was horrible! While the pacing picked up towards the end, I didn't enjoy the conclusion because I (rightly) guessed that it was going to be one of those 'everything has gone wrong' endings that I hate so much. The ones that leave pretty much no hope and make you have to pick up the next book to make sure everything ends okay. I find them too disheartening and not in the least bit satisfying.
Overall Conclusion:
I really felt that Goodman continued so much good work here. The concept behind this series is fantastic and I enjoy seeing the vast amounts of research that have gone into it. I also loved seeing more character revelations (Hammond's life is really expanded upon here, as well as his relationship with his sister Margaret) and expansion. I just really wish that the pace was a little quicker so that I could have remained transfixed more easily, and that I had at least been able to come out of the end not feeling like absolutely everything had gone wrong. Still, I will be reading book three.