Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December Wrap-Up.

I am actually so proud of how many books I managed to read this month! It was much closer to the number that I normally strive to achieve and I got one in just before the end of the month! Considering 'A Clash Of Kings' took me so long to read, I think I did a pretty good job! I completed two of the three challenge reads (though it's okay because some of my other books fell into the third challenge category) and two of my extra reads, as well as my crossover book!

Physical Books:
  1. 'A Clash Of Kings'; George R.R. Martin. I really enjoyed the first book, so I couldn't wait to finally get into this one! It was as good as I expected it to be, though a little slow at times. Martin's writing is so intricate and detailed that I'm hooked, even if it does take me weeks to read it! 4.5/5 stars.
  2. 'Scarlet'; Marissa Meyer. I adored this book! I didn't think it was possible to enjoy it more than I enjoyed Cinder, but it turned out I was completely wrong! Scarlet and Wolf were both great character additions and I love the way the stories came together. Meyer is a great writer and I am so buying 'Cress' ASAP. 5/5 stars.
  3. 'Catching Fire'; Suzanne Collins. Seeing as this is my favourite of the 'Hunger Games' films, I really couldn't wait to actually read the book. I found this one a lot easier to get into than the first book and I loved the world-building and characters even more than before. I felt like the style of writing had matured as well, which made me enjoy it even more! 4.5/5 stars.
Kindle Reads:
  1. 'The Sea Of Tranquility'; Katja Millay. I'm not normally a fan of Romance or New Adult books, but I read this for a challenge and it looked like it had a bit more to it. It was a slow starter but I loved that every character, even those that weren't the lead couple, really came into their own. I also loved that this book had no trace of insta-love in it. It felt like a slow, natural progression. 4/5 stars.
  2. 'Winterspell'; Claire Legrand. So I've just finished this book and I loved it! Despite reading a ton of bad reviews, I found it to be totally gripping and kept wondering what would happen next when I wasn't reading it. That doesn't often happen to me at all! Also, I found Legrand's writing, despite a slightly confusing start, to be totally enthralling and it really came into it's own when describing Cane. 4.5/5 stars.

Horror: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, Neil Gaiman. REVIEW.
Creature On Cover: Soulwoven, Jeff Seymour. REVIEW.
Freebie: Under Fishbone Clouds, Sam Meekings. REVIEW.
Serial Killers: Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea, April Genevieve Tucholke. REVIEW.
Birds On Cover: Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins. REVIEW.
Mystery: The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton. REVIEW.
Set During Christmastime: Winterspell, Claire Legrand. REVIEW.
Set In Space: Red Rising, Pierce Brown. REVIEW.
A Book That Was A Gift: Scarlet, Marissa Meyer. REVIEW.
Witches: The Witch Of Salt & Storm, Kendall Kulper. REVIEW.
Set In Autumn: A Clash Of Kings, George R.R. Martin. REVIEW.

Book Review: 'Winterspell'; Claire Legrand.

Guys, I got through this book before December was over! I was really worried about this one too because I went from being excited about the reviews I read from fellow Bloggers, to being appalled by some of the horrific reviews it received on Goodreads. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I started this one but having finished it, I'm pleased to announce that I loved it!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Winterspell
AUTHOR: Claire Legrand
SERIES: Winterspell (#1)
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PAGES: 464
GENRE: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

After her mother is brutally murdered, seventeen-year-old Clara Stole is determined to find out what happened to her. Her father, a powerful man with little integrity, is a notorious New York City gang lord in the syndicate-turned-empire called Concordia. And he isn’t much help.

But there is something even darker than Concordia’s corruption brewing under the surface of the city, something full of vengeance and magic, like the stories Clara’s godfather used to tell her when she was a little girl. Then her father is abducted and her little sister’s life is threatened, and Clara accidentally frees Nicholas from a statue that has been his prison for years. Nicholas is the rightful prince of Cane, a wintry kingdom that exists beyond the city Clara has known her whole life.

When Nicholas and Clara journey together to Cane to retrieve her father, Clara encounters Anise, the queen of the faeries, who has ousted the royal family in favor of her own totalitarian, anti-human regime. Clara finds that this new world is not as foreign as she feared, but time is running out for her family, and there is only so much magic can do...

What I Liked:
  • The characters! I'll start with the heroine, Clara. After reading all the terrible reviews I had in mind that she was going to be some overly sexual, ridiculous girl but I really liked her. She was strong, clever and very able to think for herself rather than relying on others. Nicholas, her romantic interest, was fantastic also. He was just so adorable yet mysterious enough to be intriguing. My favourite character was probably Anise, the villain of the story. She was just so complex! Complex villains make me happy!
  • The world-building in this story was just fantastic! Seriously, Claire Legrand's imagination absolutely blew me away. I loved the city of Cane, listening to how it used to be and watching the total chaos that it was when they return. There was so much imagination put into the world: the creatures, the fairies, the landscapes, the city. It was a joy to read and Legrand's knack for vivid descriptions transported me to a totally different place.
  • Clara and Nicholas! They were such a great couple and I liked the sizzling tension between them. Seriously, there were basically sparks! I was rooting for them to get together the entire way through, and yet I really liked the relationship between Clara and Anise too. Thank goodness for awesome couples!
What I Disliked:
  • I think part of the reason that I read so many DNF reviews for this book was that the beginning did feel pretty confusing. I felt completely thrown into the story, with characters thrust into my face and I felt lost for the first part of the book. It was so fast paced and didn't seem to start making sense until they went to Cane. I also didn't totally understand the need for Concordia in the story, but I'll let that one go.
Overall Conclusion:
I really liked this book. and that was surprising to me because I actually thought I wouldn't. this book has taught me not to completely rely on other people's reviews when it comes to judging whether to read something or not. It also reminded me why I always finish books. Because even if they don't start very well, they can easily just get so much better. To me, the pros of this book far outweighed the cons and I loved it!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Goals/Resolutions for 2015'.

I can tell already that this topic will either be super easy or very difficult. I've never been good at New Year's Resolutions or keeping them, but there are a few that concern this blog or my reading habits that I would really like to stick to this year.

1) Don't pressure myself. Since I have moved to London, my reading pace has dramatically lessened. I've gone from reading a good 6 books a month down to 4 at the most. This was a big shock to me at first and I kept trying to force myself to spend every moment of my spare time reading, at the cost of being social, getting other things done, or even sleeping. Mat (my lovely boyfriend) has told me that I simply need to stop pressuring myself to get so much done, as working five days a week will affect my schedule. Next year I'll try to relax.

2) Don't let challenges rule my reading schedule. I didn't exactly get heavily involved in challenges last year but I kept forgetting that they were a fun little extra task and stressing out if I thought I might not complete them. I'm worried that if I keep pushing myself to read like this, it will no longer be fun and become a source of stress. That is something I do not want. It doesn't mean I won't be taking part in challenges, I just won't let them take over.

3) Make this blog more interesting. Of late, I have begun to feel like this blog is getting a little repetitive. That is to say, I post the same things every week! I would love this year to find new ways that will mean more interesting posts and ensuing discussions.

4) Catch up with my Netgalley reads/First Reads wins. I am so behind with these reads and I really ought to catch up with those that I have been approved to read. I'm pretty impressed with the number that I have been given actually, and it has all become a bit overwhelming. The same goes for all the books I have won in Goodreads 'First Reads' contests because I'm very behind on those too. 2015 will be a year of catching up, I think! 

5) Sort out my TBR list on Goodreads. Okay so I have too many books on that list. I don't even know what half of them are, nor do I remember putting them there. I really ought to sort them into levels of how badly I want to read them too, because the volume of books is getting far too many for me to even contemplate!

6) Finish the many series that I have been promising I would all year. You all know the series that I mean. The 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' Trilogy? 'The Hunger Games' Trilogy? What about 'The Lunar Chronicles'? Not to mention 'The Grisha' Trilogy. There are just so many series that I start with good intentions and never finish. If 2015 is a year for catching up then I need to read these.

7) Really get into all the writing I have been planning on doing. Along side this blog, reading and working I have in fact been trying (rather unsuccessfully) to sort out my life and kick off my writing career. I really think it's high time I got into it and tried to write my first book. If I don't I just know I will become caught in the routine I have built so far, which is work, then eat, then sleep. I think it's time to step into the world of Adulthood.

8) Organise my time more efficiently. I am not very good at this it would seem, but I think I need to actually make myself some sort of rough timetable in order to get things done and still have time for fun! I generally need to become more organised as a person I think, because it's my constant procrastination that causes problems.

9) Do more things with my Friends/Family/Mat. This isn't so blog related, but since moving to London I don't feel like I have done all of the things I would have liked to. This is mostly because of laziness and the lack of time. If I manage to achieve number 8 however, then I will have more on my hands and I can find time to do things with the people I love.

10) Try to be more sensible about buying books. Actually during more recent months I have been pretty good at this one. My goal is to keep it up because there isn't enough room for hundreds pf books and I should really only buy the ones that I really want.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Last Week's Shenanigans (22nd December - 28th December)...

This week has been very busy, as I am sure it has been for most people, because it was Christmas week! Due to the fact that I couldn't get Tuesday 23rd off of work, I had to journey back to London on Monday night, work on Tuesday, then go back as soon as I finished late that evening. That was pretty annoying but after Tuesday evening, I had a lovely uninterrupted few days with mine and Mat's family.

Christmas Eve was a very chilled out, relaxed day with Mat, my sister, my Dad (because he was given the day off) and Mum in the afternoon (because she was sent home early). It was lovely to spend so much time with these people, and in the evening we journeyed to visit my Grandparents. All in all, a very family orientated day. Christmas Day ended up being very busy but very fun. We woke up early to open presents (of which there were many) and got straight onto having Breakfast and looking into them a bit more. Mat and  I had to do a bit of packing in preparation for visiting his family later that day, but we did find time to play a couple of games, one of which was the newly acquired 'Would I Lie To You?'.

That afternoon we were picked up by Mat's Mum and after dropping off our luggage headed to his Aunt's for Christmas dinner! It was delicious and the present unwrapping that came afterwards was chaotic but a lot of fun. Upon returning, we found ourselves with another lot of presents to unwrap from Mat's parents and then we watched Christmas TV to finish off the evening! On Boxing Day we headed out to the shops to have a look at some of the deals, then came home and watched more TV/played a game of 'Balderdash'. Mat and I had to rush in returning home on Saturday 27th, as we were both working in the afternoon. The shift went quickly however, and we spent Sunday 28th off together having a lazy day in!

I Reviewed:


Life Of A Blogger: Christmas!

I Posted:

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Sisterhood Of The World Blogger Award!

I am very late to the party when it comes to posting my answers for this one. My lovely sister, Beverley at My Senses Come To Life, tagged me for this Award ages ago and I never got round to it/completely forgot about it. Until now.

Bev's Questions:

1) Describe your day in one sentence.

I had a very relaxing, chilled-out day today.

2) What do you do in your spare time?

Watch films, play video games, sing, read books (duh!), listen to music and write! Or alternatively if I feel like getting up, shop! If I don't? Shop online!

3) If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

Here is where I would normally put Tom Hiddleston. Except I have actually met Tom Hiddleston so I don't know if I can put that! I did completely fluff up my first meeting with him, so I would love to get the opportunity to actually get it right a second time around! Others I would love to meet: Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry and Jennifer Lawrence among many!

4) Mascara or lipstick?

I don't really like to wear lipstick, so I would have to say Mascara!

5) Do you watch any soaps?

Not particularly, I keep up to date with Coronation Street every so often but I don't really sit down and watch it anymore. Recently one of the girls in my flat got me into Home and Away, a show I haven't watched for ages!

6) What is the nearest object to the right of you?

Well I'm sat next to Mat on the sofa so it would either be him, a blanket, or his 3DS!

7) What is your favourite film?

That question actually felt like a punch in the stomach! I have so many! I wrote a Top Ten Tuesday list on the subject ages ago and remember agonizing for ages over that one! Maybe 'Matilda'? I know that I have never got bored of that film, and I never will!

8) Do you keep up with Fashion Trends?

Sorry, what are those? I'm joking, but honestly I would have to say that no: I do not. I am very much a practical dresser and tend to feel uncomfortable trying to be adventurous, which is what most trends do.

9) Where is your favourite place to shop?

Rather than the obvious Waterstones and lazy Amazon, I would say Game, New Look, H&M, WH Smith, Internacionale, Clarks (not just because I work there, the shoes actually fit me) and Boots.

10) Name one thing that really gets on your nerves.

Hypocrisy. I cannot stand to be told not to do something, only to witness that person who had a go do the exact same thing mere moments later. Don't make rules you can't follow.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Book Review: Catching Fire; Suzanne Collins.

Though this isn't the most Christmassy of books, it ended up being the one I read over Christmas! I'm glad it was though, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am relieved that I finally managed to get through this book! I'll be entering it into the 2014 'Key Words' Challenge as the word 'Fire' is in the title, and I'll also use it as an extra 'Monthly Motif' entry. Why not?

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Catching Fire
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
SERIES: The Hunger Games (#2)
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PAGES: 472
GENRE: Romance, Dystopian, Young Adult, 

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

What I Liked:
  • In my last review I said I felt like this book was aimed at a slightly younger audience than myself, but I didn't get that feeling at all with this one! From start to finish, I was hooked: totally shocked and horrified as the Capitol exerted it's power over the Districts more and more. The language, themes and story just felt more mature this time around and it was nice to see Katniss growing up a bit.
  • Speaking of Katniss, Suzanne Collins has such a talent for character writing! I remembered each and every one, despite the fact that I read the first book such a long time ago. Not only that, but the new characters made an impression on me just as easily. I felt like Collins had taken the time to develop her characters too. As I said, Katniss grew up and Peeta really came into his own here!
  • The world-building had much improved from the first book (and it was fantastic then)! I feel that at this point, Collins really knows what she is doing and feels comfortable explaining the ins and outs of Panem's society, making it a believable world to read! The technology was interesting, the politics very intriguing and I just love the imagination that went into it all!
What I Disliked:
  • I'm really not a huge fan of love triangles and I just can't get my head around this whole Katniss/Peeta/Gale thing. I have a soft spot for Peeta so of course I'm rooting for him all the way but the constant 'Who should I choose?' thing started to wear thin. I guess it adds something extra to the story but I hope it doesn't get so prominent that it gets in the way of the plot-line!
Overall Conclusion:
I loved the first book, but I loved the second one even more! Everything just felt a teensy bit better. Characters were well-written, I loved that the plot really emphasised the consequences of Katniss' actions in 'The Hunger Games' rather than let her get away with it. The end cliffhanger left me thirsty for more and I didn't get bored for even a second! The love triangle thing is a pretty minor dislike at the moment but I really want to get hold of 'Mockingjay' so that I can read more and make sure it doesn't become a major issue.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Life Of A Blogger: 'Christmas'.

So this post about Christmas is due to go up on Christmas Day! Of course, due to it being that time of year, I will be rather busy so have had to write this one in advance (probably something that sensible Bloggers do with basically every post that they write). What will I be doing you ask? Well Christmas has always been a pretty special time of year that I look forward to every time it's coming soon. I was convinced that Christmas would be different this year because I have now moved out of my Family home and into the flat but I managed to book some time off work and I'm back in Ashford for this one!

On Christmas Eve I'll be spending the day with Family, particularly in the evening because I'm going to visit my Grandparents! I'm ridiculously excited about this visit because I have not seen them in a very long time (thanks to living in London). I'm looking forward to a nice catch up with them both before returning home ready for Christmas Day! On the day itself, we will probably be up quite early to open presents (as we are every year) and I'm really looking forward to seeing the reactions of those I have bought for this year. The second part of the day will be spent with Mat's family where we'll be having Christmas dinner and even more present opening. After that, we'll be with his family for Boxing Day too and I'm excited about it.

Sorry about this sort of short post but as I'm currently in Ashford, I want to spend all of the time I have here with my family! All that's left to say is Merry Christmas, and I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me This Year'.

I'm extremely happy that this topic came up because there are so many books that I hope I receive from Santa this Christmas!

1) Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children; Ransom Riggs.

This looks like such a creepy book and I really want to get my hand on this one to see what all the fuss is about! I've read many good reviews on this one and the plot line just looks so intriguing. I heard about this series so many months ago and I would really like to finally get into it!

2) All The Birds, Singing; Evie Wylde.

I first heard about this book a while back, when I did a Six Degrees Of Separation post and it was the chosen book for that month. I really liked the cover and I was curious to read the synopsis. It looks like a really good book that I would enjoy very much. Hopefully Santa is feeling generous this year!

3) The Enchanted; Rene Denfeld.

Seriously, just read the plot-line for this. It's a book told from the POV of a Death-Row inmate. As well as that, it contains a whole lot of magic, imagination and mystery. I have had my eye on this book for such a long time and I've heard so many good things about it!

4) The Slow Regard Of Silent Things; Patrick Rothfuss.

Ahh Patrick Rothfuss. His book 'The Name Of The wind' is frankly one of the best Fantasy books I have ever read and I need to have this book in my life. My love for this Author can't even be put into words, I was totally hooked and I have never got through such an epic book in such a short space of time. For anyone who hasn't read it, I would highly recommend this one, especially if Fantasy is your thing!

5) The Night Circus; Erin Morgenstern.

First can I just say that I love the covers for this book. They are absolutely stunning! Secondly, the book itself looks so good! It has many positive reviews on Goodreads and fellow Bloggers have raved about it non-stop. The plot-line looks pretty original and I really hope I get this one.

6) Cress; Marissa Meyer.

As if this book wasn't going to be on this list! I read 'Scarlet' very recently and absolutely adored it, just as I had loved 'Cinder' before it! I am so eager to find out what happens in this series and I need to get hold of this book ASAP so that I can! Then all I'll have to do is join everyone else in the big long wait for the next book, 'Winter'.

7) The Scorpio Races; Maggie Stiefvater.

I have heard a lot about Maggie Stiefvater as an Author and I want to read all of her books actually. However for some reason, this one really caught my attention. Perhaps it's because it's a standalone. Maybe it's the good reviews. It could even be because it has a pretty cool title. I have no idea! I just know that I really want to read it.

8) More Than This; Patrick Ness.

Of this entire list, Patrick Ness is the Author I most want to try and read. All of his books look so interesting and have very different plot-lines. He seems to be one of those Authors that people find really hard to place into a category, but everyone enjoys. The reason why I've chosen this one in particular because the cover is the coolest I've seen in a while! I'd be happy with any of his works though, to be honest.

9) The Year Of The Ladybird; Graham Joyce.

So there's a bit of a strange story behind this one, because before I saw this book I really wanted to read 'Some Kind Of Fairytale' by the same Author. Of course I still do, but when I saw this book and I saw that it was a Ghost Story, I found that this one (also known as 'The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit') intrigued me even more. A lot of Graham Joyce's works look good, but I would really like this one!

10) Strands Of Bronze & Gold; Jane Nickerson.

We all know I'm a big fan of Fairytale re-tellings but this one's a little different. It re-tells the famous story of Bluebeard! The funny thing is, it's one of those tales that many people have heard of but not so many people have ever tried to put a twist on. I would love to read it and find out what Nickerson has chosen to do with it!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Last Weeks Shenanigans (15th December - 21st December)...

So as I mentioned last week, Monday was Mat's birthday! We had a really lovely day, spending half the morning having a nice lay-in before present opening. He really liked my presents that I bought him: the new McBusted CD, the McBusted Tour DVD and Ken Follett's 'Edge Of Eternity', the third installment to the Century Trilogy (he's quite a big Ken Follett fan)! After that we played on our brand new Pokemon Games for a while and had Chinese in the evening. All in all, it was a lovely day spent with his family back in Ashford! 

We returned to London that evening so that we would be home for our Flat Christmas on Tuesday! We decided that as it would be the last day that we have off together, we ought to make the most of it. We also did Secret Santa and I bought one of the girls a set of Teas from Whittard covered in Alice In Wonderland decorations. I received my present from Mat, which was a beautiful Bookmark and Pen set (reading and writing combined)! They were decorated with roses and reminded me of Disney's 'Beauty And The Beast'. I adored it and had a great day of Festivities!

The rest of the week I spent at work until Sunday when I left for Ashford in the evening to see my Parents. I actually came home today (Monday) because I have work tomorrow but next week I'll be writing all about my Christmas in Ashford! I'm very excited!

I Reviewed:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read In 2014
Life Of A Blogger: Before 2014 Ends

Friday, 19 December 2014

Book Review: The Sea Of Tranquility; Katja Millay.

I was pretty apprehensive about reading this book because it doesn't fall into a genre that I normally like to read. However, I was quite surprised to find that it surpassed my expectations and actually made me question my own view on those genres? Have I been missing out on gems like this the whole time? I will be entering it into the 'Jumble Your Genres' Challenge.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Sea Of Tranquility
AUTHOR: Katja Millay
PUBLISHER: Atria Books
PAGES: 426
GENRE: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, Young Adult

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

What I Liked:
  • The lead couple, from whom we hear the story, were probably my favourite thing about the book. Why? Because for the first time in a while I have found a book that doesn't contain insta-love. Their relationship actually builds into a believable relationship. Not to mention that as characters they are very interesting. I loved reading from Josh's POV more than Nastya's but I'll explain why later.
  • The characters around the two leads were interesting, and took on more than just a side character role. I felt like they actually contributed to the story. For example: Drew. When I first met him I thought he would just be the arrogant joker of the story, who didn't really do an awful lot. Boy, was I wrong!
  • The plot was actually pretty gripping, especially towards the end of the book! In the later stages, things really start to pick up and I didn't want to put the book down. I wanted to find out what happened next! There were a few plot twists too which made things even more interesting.
What I Disliked:
  • To be perfectly honest, the book was a little bit of a slow starter. In the first quarter or so I found things a bit repetitive, and though I wasn't bored, I wasn't riveted either. As I mentioned above, this did change as the book continued, and this is why I always make sure I finish books before reviewing them rather than not finishing them the moment the pace drops. This beginning wasn't helped by the slightly confusing Chapter/POV layouts either.
  • Although I did like Nastya's character, some of her logic didn't quite work for me. She spends the whole time wishing people would leave her alone, and then dresses like that? Her reasons for making the decisions that she does weren't really clear either and I only really connected with her towards the end. I also felt like her mysterious past had a little too much build-up to it. We know that something terrible happened to her and spend the whole book thinking of the most twisted, awful things only to find that it wasn't that twisted after all (though don't get me wrong, still terrible).
Overall Conclusion:
There were so many good things about this book. Millay writes really well and I was impressed by how quotable her book was and how much I actually enjoyed it! The romance was spot-on, especially with the timing and the characters were well-written. I wish that Nastya had been a little clearer as a character and that it hadn't taken me so long to get into the book. Also, why the Author chose to give the boy that did those terrible things to Nastya an excuse (and it was a pretty terrible one) I will never understand. A great read which I can happily say made me rethink my bias towards New Adult and Romance, providing that it has a bit of extra depth in it like this one does!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Life Of A Blogger: 'Before 2014 Ends'.

This is going to be a pretty tough subject! The end of 2014 is so close! I do have a few things I'd like to do before it ends however, and I'll list them here.
  • See My Family. I know I'll definitely be doing this one because I have booked some holiday to go and see them over Christmas! Hooray! It's been such a while since I last saw them I'm glad I'll get to at such a special time of the year.
  • Finish my December TBR. This I'm not so sure I'll do. I would really love to, it would make my day! But I'm barely into my challenge reads and I haven't got long left to go. Still, I have a bit of free time coming my way...maybe?
  • Spend time with Mat. Now that I live with him I do this a lot, but it will be nice to be able to do that more without work/Uni constantly getting in the way. I'm looking forward to it!
I wish I could make this list longer. I guess all that's left is to have a merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I Read In 2014'.

So as soon as I saw that this would be a topic, I found myself looking forward to writing this list! I've enjoyed so many good books this year and found many diamonds among the rough.

1) 'The Tale Of Raw Head & Bloody Bones'; Jack Wolf.

This was the very first book that I read this year and for this blog, and boy did I pick a good one! I think I've mentioned it in a few of my lists but it certainly deserves a place on this one! Jack Wolf is a captivating author who chose a very interesting and original plot-line. I have to say that if you're a fan of characters then this is the book for you! I honestly didn't know whether to love the Hero of the story or be absolutely disgusted by his actions. There's an unexpected romantic twist as well that worked really well without getting in the way!

2) 'Pure'; Andrew Miller.

I'm a big fan of Historical Fiction and this was one of the best I have read this year. It was written in such a way that I completely understood what was going on, yet didn't feel like I was in the wrong time frame at all. The characters were likeable and interesting, but the best part of the book was the world-building. I felt like Miller had actually gone to a lot of effort to understand the topic and time period on which he wrote about, and having that context there made this a worthwhile read!
3) 'The Snow Child'; Eowyn Ivey.

I cannot rave enough about this gorgeous re-telling of the fairy-tale with the same name. Ivey just has a knack for writing in such a way that I am physically moved by every word on the page. I loved the way it became so much more of a tale about a couple that fallen into deep depression finding a way to fall in love over again. The mystery of whether the strange child is indeed magical or just wild and alone kept me fascinated until the very end. Anyone who knows the original tale will know that this ends sadly, but it's worth the tears to read even a page of this novel.

4) 'Poison Study'; Maria V. Snyder.

I had wanted to read this book for a very long time and I'm so happy that I actually got to this year! It was definitely one of my favourite Fantasy reads of 2014. To begin with it contained my favourite couple of the year (seriously, the two of them together are awesome and you root for them from the very start). As well as that, the plot felt different to a usual Fantasy plot with lots of original tropes that I had not seen before. The twists and turns kept me hooked all the way through and I look forward to reading the next installment.

5) 'Scarlet'; Marissa Meyer.

I read 'Cinder' this year as well and absolutely loved it. But I chose 'Scarlet' because I have just finished it and found myself liking it equally as much, if not more! I actually sulked when I had to put this book down. 'Th Lunar Chronicles' series is just a fantastic, different way of looking at these Fairy-Tales. I've seen so many past or present-day adaptions: why not the future? I love the way that Meyer subtly references the original story while completely making it her own.
6) 'The Invention Of Wings'; Sue Monk-Kidd.

This Historical fiction is important to me on so many levels. I have always been a fan of novels that focus on Prejudice as a theme. Whether that be classics such as 'To Kill A Mockingbird' or modern day books like the 'Noughts & Crosses' series. For me, this was a real eye opener. It was historically accurate and told me about famous figures that I had never heard of before. Not only is their a lot of Racial Prejudice in this book, but there are strong Feminist themes too. I only read it by accident but I am so glad that I did.

7) 'The Miniaturist'; Jessie Burton.

So I said that Andrew Miller's 'Pure' was one of my favourite Historical Fiction reads. This was definitely another one! It contained a small cast, but they were some of the most interesting characters I have met in a book before and they constantly kept me guessing at what they would do next. The plot as well was full of twists and turns that made me audibly gasp or cry out 'No!' at random intervals. A recent read that made it feel exciting to love a book again!
8) 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe'; Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Contemporary fiction is not normally my thing but this one just had to be read. I had never really read LGBT fiction before this one but now, I am a strong believer that it could become one of my favourite types of fiction. It is one of the most beautiful and quotable books that I have ever read with a strong story-line and powerful characters that stick with you forever. Not to mention that I will ship that couple until the end of time.
9) 'The Fault In Our Stars'; John Green.

The first book this year that really made me cry. I was hysterical for a good couple of hours and sulked for a further couple of weeks, yet I loved this book! John Green has a very unique and recognisable writing style and he isn't afraid to delve into the world of Teens nor face the sensitive topic of Terminal Illness. It's a very sad story, but contains some gorgeous moments that stick with you for a while.
10) 'Stolen Songbird'; Danielle L. Jensen.

Last but by no means least is this book. When I read it, I realised that I had missed this genre a lot. It contains a fantastic story, strong and likeable characters and great world-building. I hadn't read a book that contained all of my favourite things and turned them into a whole new story for me to love in a while. As well as that, I loved the main couple. They were absolutely hilarious together throughout and I can't wait to hopefully read more of them soon!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Last Week's Shenanigans (December 8th - December 14th)...

Monday I spent at home recovering from my small party on Sunday. In fact, it was on Monday that I started to feel a little ill. Needless to say, I still wasn't right on Tuesday so I stayed home from work and spent the day resting. That meant that I only had to work three days this week because on Saturday I had another day off! It was the start of a long, four day weekend which I booked off because Sunday (yesterday) was Mat and I's Five Year Anniversary, and Monday (today) is Mat's birthday!

So on Saturday, Mat had booked a special surprise for me once he got home from work. He took me up the Shard! Honestly, to be able to see the whole of London was just phenomenal. When we got up there, the sun was just starting to set so it made it even more beautiful. While I was up there, he gave me a cute ring that has 'Moon Of My Life' engraved on it, and matches his 'My Sun And Stars' ring that he bought. Anyone who has read or watched 'Game Of Thrones' will get exactly why that is cool! We went for a lovely dinner at an Italian Restaurant nearby before heading home.

Sunday was our actual anniversary and again, Mat had arranged a lovely surprise. We went to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland! It was so much fun there. All British Bloggers, if you get a chance to go then do! There was music, markets, rides and food & drink stalls! Mat and I went on a couple of roller-coasters and ate a lot of food! As well as that we went to The Magical Ice Kingdom which was amazing! Whoever made those Ice Sculptures is extremely talented, though it was so cold in there.

I Reviewed:

Life Of A Blogger: Non-Bookish Hobbies

Friday, 12 December 2014

Book Review: Scarlet; Marissa Meyer.

I am in such a high state of happiness because not only did I get through this book, but I loved it too! I  will explain more in my review, but I will be entering this one as a Monthly Motif entry because this is definitely a book I have been meaning to get round to for a long time!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Scarlet
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
SERIES: The Lunar Chronicles (#2)
PAGES: 452
GENRE: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Retelling

RATING: 5/5 Stars


Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner...

What I Liked:
  • This is the easiest subtitle in the world to answer! This book was phenomenal! Let's start with the plot, the thing liked most. I talk a lot about books gripping me from start to finish, but this book is the first in a little while that I felt like I couldn't put down. At the moments I had to, I felt very sulky and couldn't wait to get back into it! There were so many twists and turns, and it was nice to see the multiple viewpoints coming together so well.
  • Marissa Meyer is such a good character writer. I loved both Kai and Cinder in the first book of the series, and they were well developed in this installment. The new characters were equally as well penned. Scarlet was every bit the feisty, independent heroine. Wolf was the literal definition of a mysterious, handsome stranger. As for Captain Thorne, can a person be more hilarious?
  • As before in 'Cinder', Meyer's world-building skills have just got better. I love her version of our future and it's so interesting reading about the political system, the environment, and best of all: the technology. Before I started this series I could never imagine a futuristic version of Cinderella or Red Riding Hood. These retellings of the classics just completely work though and I love it!
What I Disliked:
  • There are times that I struggle with this section and this is definitely one of those times. I would perhaps have liked a little more of the book's time dedicated to Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf as a whole group. In short, I wish they'd met up a bit sooner. It made for a climactic finale but it felt ever so slightly disappointing to see so little in the way of interaction between the four of them. Still, I have the next book for that!
Overall Conclusion:
It felt like pretty much every element in this book worked and I found myself really getting into it! I smiled at the romantic moments, laughed out loud at Thorne's sarcasm and groaned as things spiraled downhill for Kai. Not many books, or indeed Authors, have the ability to make a person do that. I commend Meyer on her exceptional skill and look forward to more from this series. I hope I get 'Cress' for Christmas!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Life Of A Blogger: 'Non-Bookish Hobbies'.

So this week is yet another Freebie and this week I have decided to go for 'Non-Bookish Hobbies'. I do an awful lot of reading of course, but I thought it might be nice to talk about other things I enjoy doing!

  • Singing/Drama. Singing is (much to some people's annoyance) one of my favourite things to do when I get spare time/when I'm in the shower. I studied it for two years at University and really loved it. My favourite thing to sing is Musical Theatre, though I'm a big fan of soul music too. Drama for me goes hand in hand with this. Despite it not being my chosen career path, I would love to do it on the side, if I could.
  • Writing. While at University one of the things that I really discovered about myself is that I enjoy writing more than anything. I always knew that I was a fan of making up plot ideas/characters and even put a few of them to paper but I never made it an ambition of mine until I had finished University. It's part of the reason that I set up this blog! Writing for this is just as much fun as writing stories!
  • Listening To Music. I know this isn't much of a hobby, but it is something I do a lot. I have mentioned quite a lot that I'm a fan of Film Scores and they are my favourite things to listen to in all honesty. I have even been known to totally plot-spoil films/TV shows for myself by recognising a certain theme or element of music in the background score. I guess they just touch my imagination more than popular songs do. I am however a fan of many bands and artists too!
  • Appreciating Art/Photography. I am not very good at actually putting either of those things into practice. However, an activity that I really enjoy is browsing DeviantArt or Pinterest to see what pictures make me smile that day. I'm a pretty visual person, I like seeing ideas come to life. Whenever I get a new character or story idea I immediately have the urge to draw them. I don't though because I know it would come out terribly and I would end up more frustrated than previously.
  • Watching Films/Theatre. As I said, I'm a visual person. Films therefore are a favourite medium of mine. I know that many people that read this will probably much prefer books, and so do I for the most part. However, I try to view them as seperate things and appreciate both of their pros, rather than constantly comparing one to the other. As for the Theatre, that goes without saying. It just has so much power and I love nothing better than watching performances.
I didn't realise that my chosen hobbies were so creative and cultural. Here I was thinking I was pretty boring! 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'New To Me Authors I Read In 2014'.

1) Jack Wolf.

I'll start with the very first book that I read and reviewed this year: 'A Tale Of Raw Head & Bloody Bones'. There were so many great things about this book and it surprised me in so many ways (though I fully expected to enjoy it), so I had to give Jack Wolf a mention! His ability to come up with a very original, interesting plot-line impressed me and his characterisation skills were fantastic.

2) Marissa Meyer.

Many others had already read at least one book from 'The Lunar Chronicles', so when my turn came I was very excited. Meyer's writing impressed me in many ways, but what I loved most was the way that she completely twisted a very well-known Fairy Tale and made it her own. I'm reading 'Scarlet' now and can't wait to let you guys know my thoughts!

3) John Green.

'The Fault In Our Stars' was one of the most talked about books that I can remember this year and it's film was held in high esteem. As well as that I managed to find time to read and enjoy 'Paper Towns'. Green has a really unique writing style and goodness knows, he can make me cry. For me, he was a very impressive Author that I ha not read before!

4) George R.R. Martin.

The 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series, as I have found out, is actually quite old. Still, over the last couple of years the hit TV show has made it popular again! After watching a couple of seasons, I decided to bite the bullet and plunge into these epic books because I believe it would be an insult to keep enjoying the TV Show without doing so. I've read the first two this year and I was not disappointed. Martin has an undeniable talent and I admire his ability to handle the scope of his world so well, particularly with relation to the political context of the plot.

5) Danielle L. Jensen.

Yes this was a debut Author, and also one new to me this year. I have high hopes for her 'Malediction Trilogy' however, as I completely fell in love with the first book: 'Stolen Songbird'. Jensen has a knack for writing characters. The heroine was feisty yet kindhearted, the male romantic lead was absolutely hilarious (seriously, their conversations were laugh out loud funny sometimes) and the inhabitants of Trollus were both easy to picture and likeable.

6) Jessie Burton.

Yet another debut Author of 2014 whose work I enjoyed very much! I had pretty high expectations of 'The Miniaturist', and I'm glad to say they were easily surpassed. The characters were well-written, the writing style was unique and I'm a huge fan of the fact that Burton's plot-line managed to keep surprising me. It's been named Waterstones' book of the year. Enough said.

7) Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

I don't read a lot of Contemporary novels, but 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe' was definitely my favourite of the year. Sáenz writes characters ridiculously well and it was so interesting reading from Ari's perspective, and getting to fall in love with all of the people that he meets. Watching him fall in love was heart-warming too. My favourite thing about Sáenz's writing was his quotability. His style was just so unique and I spent the entire read grinning from ear to ear.

8) Pierce Brown.

Oh hello! Yet another debut Author this year that I am very excited about! I don't read a lot of Sci-Fi, but Brown basically converted me in one book! I loved his style, the characters, and most importantly: the world-building. I never stop stressing how important it is to me that a story's world is well-researched and detailed. Brown certainly managed that, and I commend him for it.

9) Sue Monk Kidd.

I ended up reading 'The Invention Of Wings' quite by accident actually! I won it in a Giveaway, and rather than just putting it on the ever-growing TBR pile, I gave it a read. I call that some amazing intuition because it turned out to be one of the most thought-provoking reads I have read this year. It is well-researched, the characters are complex and likeable and I was gripped from start to finish by Kidd's writing.

10) Eowyn Ivey.

I had never even heard of Eowyn Ivey, other than the fact that this book had been sat on my shelf for so long. Having read it however, she is now on the auto-buy list. She takes a not very well-known Russian folk tale, 'The Snow Child' and turns it into a tear inducing, emotionally raw tale that plays havoc with your heart strings. Her vivid descriptions are to die for too, I can't wait to read more of her work!