Monday, 31 August 2015

August Wrap-Up.

What a month it has been for reading! I'm actually so proud of myself too, because I managed 6 of my 7 chosen reads this month. Hooray! There''s been quite a mix ranging from very bad to very good, and I'm excited to summarise them and see how I'm getting on with my challenges too.



  1. 'Moon Over Soho'; Ben Aaronovitch. This was the second in the 'Peter Grant' series, the first of which I read a while back. I'm making a concerted effort to get through series that I keep leaving for a while. This book I liked better than the previous in terms of story-line, villain and style. However I'm not so happy about the characters as I feel like I'm not really connecting with them. Hopefully this improves with the series progression. 4/5 Stars.
  2. 'Angelfall'; Susan Ee. I have had this book on my shelf for such a long time and I finally read it. I loved it too, I'm so glad that I finally got through it! The word-building was pretty cool, Penryn was a great heroine and I loved the romance build-up I've got so far. Sure, Penryn's Mother was annoying as heck, but I'm hoping that her weird behaviour is there for a reason and not just an annoyance. 4.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'Flex'; Ferrett Steinmetz. This book was a bit of a weird one for me because I didn't hate it. I just found it confusing and didn't really like the characters all that much. The concept of it was really cool though, and I would be intrigued to see what happens next despite the fact that I didn't really connect with it a whole lot. 3/5 Stars.
  4. 'Insurgent'; Veronica Roth. I went into this one feeling a bit wary (despite the fact that I loved Book 1) and I will admit that is because of reviews I've had on the series progression from other people. Despite that, I was open-minded and liked this second instalment. I didn't adore it like I had 'Divergent' as you could really tell this was a filler book. Tris is as awesome as I remember her though and the plot was decent enough. Four had better drop the attitude in 'Allegiant' though. 4/5 Stars.
  5. 'Hunter'; Mercedes Lackey. I'm so upset by how disappointing this read was. It had a beautiful cover and a nice concept (though not wholly original) and honestly sounded like the kind of thing I would enjoy. The main character was far too irritating for me to like however, and Lackey's constant info-dumping and inability to write like a teenager meant that a potentially life-threatening situation really began to feel more like a high-school drama.  2/5 Stars.
  6. 'A Whole New World'; Liz Braswell. I'm afraid what should have been a really nice re-telling of Aladdin didn't live up to my expectations either. The plot itself was okay and the pacing really worked well. It flowed nicely and never became boring to read. However, the first quarter is literally the first quarter of the Disney film written down, and then the rest of the book didn't bring anything new to the table. One-dimensional characters and a weird sadistic tone mixed with slapstick humour meant a mediocre rating. 2.5/5 Stars.
This month I have read three physical books:

- Moon Over Soho
- Angelfall
- Insurgent



This month I have read three Netgalley/Edelweiss reads:

- Flex
- Hunter
- A Whole New World

This was the last month for my Bookish Bingo Challenge and in the end I managed three whole lines! For me: that's pretty good! There were some really fun categories too so this was a great challenge. I've also managed to acquire one Sprite for my Story Sprites Challenge this month too!


Cover Has Been Changed: Tithe; Holly Black. REVIEW.
PoC Writer: Sunbolt; Intisar Khanani. REVIEW.
Title Is More Than Three Words: The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry; Gabrielle Zevin. REVIEW.
Magic: The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkien. REVIEW.
Fire In Title Or On Cover: Flex; Ferrett Steinmetz. REVIEW.
Multi POV: How To Fly With Broken Wings; Jane Elson. REVIEW.
Face On Cover: The Winner's Crime; Marie Rutkoski. REVIEW.
Purple Cover: Insurgent; Veronica Roth. REVIEW.
Tearjerker: Neverland; Shari Arnold. REVIEW.
Travel: A Natural History Of Dragons; Marie Brennan. REVIEW.
June, July, August Release: Angelfall; Susan Ee. REVIEW.
Freebie: A Whole New World; Liz Braswell. REVIEW.
2015 Debut: Skin; Ilka Tampke. REVIEW.
Young Adult: Hunter; Mercedes Lackey. REVIEW.
Short Story: The Sleeper & The Spindle; Neil Gaiman. REVIEW.
Finish A Series: Mockingjay; Suzanne Collins. REVIEW.
Blue Cover: Moon Over Soho; Ben Aaronovitch. REVIEW.

Primary  Coloured Cover: Moon Over Soho; Ben Aaronovitch.
Fairies As A Theme: Valiant; Holly Black.
Forbidden Romance: The Winner's Crime; Marie Rutkoski.
Female Fronted Fantasy: A Whole New World; Liz Braswell.
Cover With Silver Lettering: The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkien.
Novel By An Indie Author: Sunbolt; Intisar Khanani.
Book With Angels Or Demons: Angelfall; Susan Ee.
Fairytale Retelling: Neverland; Shari Arnold.
Adult Sci-Fi Book: Flex; Ferrett Steinmetz.
First Book In A Series: Hunter; Mercedes Lackey.
A Book Into A Current Movie (2015+): Insurgent; Veronica Roth.

Book Review (ARC): A Whole New World; Liz Braswell.

This is going to be my final read of August and I'm afraid to say, it's another disappointment. I had high hopes for an Aladdin retelling: I've never actually read one before! Unfortunately, I should probably have listened to the bad reviews that Goodreads was firing at me from all directions.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: A Whole New World
AUTHOR: Liz Braswell
SERIES: Twisted Tales (#1)
PUBLISHER: Disney Press
PAGES: 384
GENRE: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars


Blurb:
What if Aladdin had never found the lamp? This first book in the A Twisted Tale line will explore a dark and daring version of Disney's Aladdin. When Jafar steals the Genie's lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war. What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

What I Liked:

  • I liked how readable it was. In fact, it flowed so well that I got it finished in just a few short hours. For me, the plot never got boring or frustrating in any way, nor did it ever really confuse me, so that can only be a good thing. I was at least keen to see what would happen next. I never thought that Braswell's writing style was very bad either, though at the same time it didn't strike me as overwhelmingly good.
What I Disliked:
  • I think I am going to highlight what most people already have in their reviews. A quarter of this book is a direct cut and paste from the Disney film. The dialogue is the same, the actions of every character are also the same too. The other 75% had a very fan fiction feel to it. It didn't feel wholly original and managed, despite being a new story thread, to feel 'borrowed'. The slapstick style of speech used during dialogue and certain moments of the story, put together with some very dark, twisted story directions in order to illustrate Jafar's madness made for a strange combination that didn't sit well with me. Braswell basically killed off a few of my childhood favourites in front of my very eyes and it was an unsettling experience to say the least.
  • The character's, as a result of them being based upon the Disney original, felt very one-dimensional. I got to see a bit more of a serious side to Aladdin I suppose, and I liked the added back-story that Braswell gave him. But where was the badass Jasmine I was promised? Or a back-story for Jafar so that he was no longer just evil for the sake of it. Also, what on earth was going on with Iago? He was mentioned frequently but never seen. I got the feeling he was meant to be some aspect of Jafar's madness but it didn't make a whole lot of sense.
Overall Conclusion:
I wanted to enjoy this book, and I so wish that Braswell had drawn from the source material of Aladdin rather than the Disney version. I think that she could have had a whole lot more fun with it, rather than feeling like she has to copy everything from the movie. There was little to no development which gave it the bad rating. However, the story was still enjoyable to an extent. If you're a huge fan of fan fiction (which is mostly what this is) then you might like this! It didn't bring anything new to the table though so it wasn't really for me.

Last Week's Shenanigans (24th August - 30th August)...

Unfortunately for me guys, this last week has not been great. I mentioned going to a party with my family last Sunday (23rd), and I actually stayed overnight at my Parent's house because I had the Dentist the next day. However, when I woke, I felt horrendous! My throat was so sore, my ear hurt, and I felt consistently dizzy and sick. Not to mention the constant shivering and being too hot. That's right folks: Katrina was ill again. I still had to go about my day though so while Mat went to meet up with friends and spend a further day with family, I went to the Dentist and the Doctor and didn't do a whole lot else. It was nice to be in the house with just my Mum and Dad though, and talking to them again made the day a whole lot more bearable. In the end, it turned out I had Tonsillitis and so I went back to London on Monday evening and took Tuesday off of work to recover.

The rest of the week was spent at work and trying to feel better. The antibiotics pretty much cleared up the Tonsillitis but I was left with the cough that my Tonsils had obviously been trying to stave off when they got infected. I still have that now, but I can pretty much say I'm fully recovered. I ended up working Sunday too (it's normally my day off) because I am having Wednesday off this week to go to the Theatre with my Flat Mates. Exciting! A boring week all in all, and I didn't achieve a whole lot Blog wise.

I Read:


Memes:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Would Be On The Syllabus For Hardcore Heroines 101

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Book Review (ARC): Hunter; Mercedes Lackey.

I am so upset by how much I didn't enjoy this book. Seriously, it looked so good and had such promise to it! Sure the premise sounded a little similar to other Dystopians I have read, but I had heard good things about the Author and I was determined that this was going to become my next favourite read. Sadly, it didn't live up to my high expectations. Not even in the slightest! I will enter it as part of my Monthly Motif challenge though!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Hunter
AUTHOR: Mercedes Lackey
SERIES: Hunter (#1)
PUBLISHER: Disney Hyperion
PAGES: 400
GENRE: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy

RATING: 2/5 Stars


Blurb:
Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

What I Liked:
  • The plot itself wasn't overly terrible. It lacked originality because it sounded similar to Dystopian stories I had read previously. But it was still pretty cool! The monsters that Lackey worked in were pretty well researched and came from a variety of different myths and legends from various cultures and I really liked that. I felt the same about the hounds (though I felt like I didn't get to know most of them well enough) because all of them were unique to their owner. The story structure wasn't in any way confusing either so it flowed nicely enough that I understood what was going on.
What I Disliked:
  • Where to begin? I'll start with Joy, our main character. The whole book is narrated from her POV and that was the real reason that it took me such a long time to get through it. She is, what is commonly known in the Book Blogging world as a 'Mary Sue'. She could not be a more perfect, nauseating, naive MC with no personality if she tried. Oh and of course, she was absolutely perfect at everything. Not once did I feel like she was in any real danger because she always seemed to have the upper hand. By comparison, the characters that surrounded her fell flat. Their personalities were one-dimensional and grated on me, and most of the characters that were mentioned as if they were important were never seen again. I really felt like Lackey was very lazy because she would often choose one character to represent the personality of a whole group (Bya the Hound was a clear example of this: favouritism if ever I saw it).
  • The world-building was very confusing at times and I found myself a little frustrated while reading. Firstly Lackey is a big fan of info-dumping. Not even for just the first few chapters, but for the entire book. Literally every single situation is accompanied by a three page manual on how and why that is happening in relation to the world around Joy. It was a trawl to get through. Secondly, Lackey felt it necessary to try and give the idea that things had changed by simply changing the names of things we all know and love to a slightly different name. Guys, 'ballet dancers' are now 'ballot dancers'. What a change!
  • Lackey's writing did not impress me in the slightest either. I honestly got the impression that Lackey was trying so hard to write from a young person's perspective but didn't have a true understanding of how young people speak. There was a lot of immature, teenage sounding drama and far too much repetition. She also spoon-fed the reader when it came to how to feel about a situation. Something would happen followed by a paragraph long monologue about how Joy felt about the situation and how she was justified in feeling that way. All of this was unnecessary and made me feel like Lackey didn't trust the reader to 'get' her book.
Overall Conclusion:
I was so disappointed by this one. The cover was beautiful, the premise really promising, but it just ended up not living up to expectations. The character's were one-dimensional, the main character made me roll my eyes far too many times, the info-dumping never stopped and the writing tone was far too 'high-school drama' which didn't suit the supposedly serious subject. I had heard a lot about Lackey's books, so I was disappointed that I didn't enjoy this one. I'm pretty sure that I won't be reading the next one in the series, unless the reviews tell me that it gets a lot better.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books That Would Be On The Syllabus If I Taught Hardcore Heroines 101'.


Today's topic is a fun one, and I got the choice of class that I would teach! I chose to break away from Genres this week, and go for something a bit more character driven. If there's one thing I like in books, it's a great heroine. Here are the top ten books that I think have them!

1) Isabella Trent from the 'Memoir By Lady Trent' Series.

The moment I started 'A Natural History Of Dragons', I completely fell in love with this heroine. Yes, her youthful self was a little impulsive (which would normally get on my nerves) but not unnecessarily so and I found that it revealed things about her that I did like: she was quick-witted, curious, intelligent and very feisty. As the book is set from the POV of Isabella in her old age, I also love that she's not afraid to laugh or mock her own flaws.

2) Hermione from the 'Harry Potter' Series.

Duh! Okay so she's not the main character, but she also may as well be because for me, she and Ron have just as much reading time as Harry does. I love Hermione too much. She is the epitome of what girls should aspire to be: clever, brave and able to think for themselves without wanting to follow a crowd. I would adore a book on Hermione's muggle life too (please?)!


3) Hazel Grace from 'The Fault In Our Stars'.

I think the thing that really stood out about Hazel was her bravery and ability to see things how they really were without dressing them up. Despite a debilitating illness, to all extents and purposes she was just a normal girl. I loved her love of books, her practical and serious nature and her sense of humour too. A wonderful heroine!




4) Katniss from 'The Hunger Games' Series.

Ahh Katniss. Apart from her tendency to whine in Book 3, this girl is badass and I would sure like her on my side if something bad happened. She was certainly smart, a little bull-headed but only when it came to family/friend loyalty, and she was skilled with a bow too (I've always been drawn to stealthy female archer stereotypes for some reason). I think all the people who have read this series will agree that Katniss goes down in history as a great heroine.

5) Hitomi from 'The Sunbolt Chronicles' Series.

I read this book quite recently, and though it was short I loved Hitomi as a character. She was loyal, remarkable in thinking on her feet and sharp too. Her most likeable trait (for me) was her cautious and slightly suspicious nature too. I've already mention that I don't like a heroine, or hero, that is too impulsive and doesn't take a second to think before they act or react. Hitomi avoided that nicely!



6) Tris from the 'Divergent' Series.

I've just finished reading 'Insurgent' and still really like Tris! She does such a great job of having a multi-faceted personality (which I suppose is the point of the book...). She is a little reckless at times, but she is certainly clever, able to handle herself in a tough situation and caring too. She's quite similar to Katniss in a lot of ways which is probably what I liked about her. 


7) Yelena from the 'Study' Series.

Ahhh Yelena. She is seriously one of my favourites and writing her name reminded me why I loved the first book, 'Poison Study' so much! She has quite a complicated personality with a horrifying back-story and when you first meet her, it's at her lowest point. That was my favourite thing about her and the way she was written. There's an intriguing dark side along with a cynical sense of humour and the ability to be compassionate too. Oh and she is so smart too!

8) Cinder from the 'Lunar Chronicles' Series.

Of course I would love to include Scarlet and Cress here too as they all have a ton of loveable qualities about them. In terms of heroine material however, I really think Cinder has it all. And she appears in all three books as well so I've seen her character develop the most. She's very loving and kind, yet not afraid to get tough if the situation requires it and I love her intelligence and skill. She is good at prioritising too, a valuable asset for heroines!


9) Serafina from the 'Waterfire Saga' Series.

Despite a few issues with the series that I have had in terms of info-dumping and story-line, I love the main heroine: Serafina. I have never stopped singing her praises, mostly because from what I could see she never whined about her responsibilities. A lot of pressure resided on the young Princess' shoulders and I thought she would be the stereotypical girl running from what others expect of her. Instead she was more worried about doing it wrong. Much more interesting reading!

10) Penryn from the 'Penryn & The End Of Days' Series.

I read this book pretty recently and really enjoyed it. In particular, I really enjoyed Penryn as a heroine. She was well-versed in how the world now works, so a quick learner and able to adapt to situations nicely. Her desperate loyalty to her sister (and even her frustrating Mother) was touching and I can't wait to see what else she brings to the table in future books!

Monday, 24 August 2015

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

I'm going to be making this post a quick one, because as I am writing I am also suffering with Tonsillitis and feeling pretty icky. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a sore throat so hopefully this clears up soon! This week has been quite busy for me! Monday, Mat and I ended up  staying in all day because we had to wait for a whole host of parcels, food shopping and an inspection from our letting agent. We played video games together and watched TV, which made the time pass quickly. The week at work has been quiet on the customer front, but I have actually had an interview to apply for a higher position in my store. Fingers crossed!

On Sunday, Mat and I travelled back to Ashford once more to go and see my family, for yet another garden party (this time on my Mum's side of the family). It was a lot of fun tough and I got to see and play with my cousin's little girl again, who I haven't seen since she was a tiny baby! After coming home, Mat and I mostly chilled with the family and spent time playing some games and catching up which was nice.

I Read:

Memes:

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

Friday, 21 August 2015

Book Review: Insurgent; Veronica Roth.

Yeah, this book took me a long time to get round to. I know. Honestly, I've been a little scared off of the series by the bad reviews for Book 3 that littered my Goodreads and Bloglovin' dashboard after it was released. Nevertheless, the time has come to judge the series for myself and so with that, here is what I thought of 'Insurgent'. Also, I'm entering this into this month's 'Monthly Motif' challenge!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Insurgent
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth
SERIES: Divergent (#2)
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins Children's Books
PAGES: 525
GENRE: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Adventure

RATING: 4/5 Stars


Blurb:
Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.


Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever... because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.


What I Liked:
  • The plot itself was pretty good! I never once felt bored while reading , nor did I want to put the book down for breaks or to, you know, live life. Veronica Roth's writing continues to be just as good as I remember it being before. She deals with action sequences, twists and turns very well also meaning my interest never wavered. The finale in particular was really gripping and impressive, and left me wanting to read the next book to find out what happens. What a cliffhanger!
  • Tris is still the great character I remember her being. I loved that she has grown since the last book, with new fears and frustrations. She's just as badass as I remember her too and it is quite nice to see a female character perfectly able to get herself out of a situation without having to be rescued. And more importantly, no one really questions that (Dauntless is full of many girls as well as boys).
What I Disliked:
  • A lot of the other characters in the book, I'm sorry to say, felt a little one dimensional. There are a huge number of Dauntless that I remember being merely mentioned in Book 1, and then are treated in Book 2 as if I'm meant to know them all, their personalities their likes/dislikes and family. It got pretty confusing. Honestly to me, they felt like cannon fodder. A lot of them were severely injured or killed and I really felt like Roth had written them in purely for that. I wish I could have known them well enough to actually be sad about it.
  • Though the plot was good, I could tell that this was a filler book because it got a little repetitive. They were running, then staying at a 'safe' house, then running again. I felt like I was being taken on a guided tour of each faction (though the layout of the city was so confusing). Also while on her travels, I began to get confused about who Tris was actually travelling with. When Caleb appears at the end, I realised I had no idea when he'd actually disappeared. And at another point, Marcus suddenly popped into the conversation when I had no idea he was part of the group.
Overall Conclusion:
I did really enjoy this book, but certainly not as much as I loved 'Divergent'. The plot had me pretty hooked, the writing style flowed beautifully and Tris is a fantastic heroine. Unfortunately, I felt a little let down on the quality of the other characters in the book, and despite a cracking finale the rest of the book felt a little repetitive. Also, despite adoring Four and his relationship with Tris before, his hypocrisy when it came to trust and secret-keeping really got on my nerves here. Hopefully he calms down in Book 3!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Auto-Buy Authors'.


I had to really think about how I do this topic because I don't actually auto-buy any more. I used to, with a fair few of my childhood favourites, but then as I grew older I realised I was buying them and not finding time to read them. So I stopped just buying everything as soon as it came out and waited until I could actually find time to read it (my monthly book expenditure has decreased very heavily). I'll write a list of a few of the authors I used to auto-buy/borrow, and then some that if I had the money or the time, I still would!

Authors I Used To Auto-Buy...

1) J.K. Rowling.

This was the big one. When I was growing up, as the 'Harry Potter' series was slowly making it's way out every year, I was the girl who had it pre-ordered way in advance. I was always so excited about reading these books and used to be gutted when my Mum told me I couldn't go and queue for the midnight release. I can't still call her an auto-buy because I haven't bought any of her other books but this is the one that sticks in my memory.

2) Christopher Paolini.

Around the same time as I was about halfway through the Harry Potter series, I got into 'The Inheritance Trilogy' in a big way. I pre-ordered every single book as it came out, and did a good job with reading them straight away from books 1-3. Sadly, despite owning the last book, I haven't actually read it yet. I do desperately want to at some point, but want to do so after re-reading the others because it has been such a long time!

3) Tamora Pierce.

This may be classed as cheating because I didn't technically buy these. But at the time in my life that I was reading them, I was very good friends with a girl who had basically her entire collection and so every week I would come running and begging for the next Tamora Pierce book in the series. I count it because if after reading the first two she had told me she didn't have any more I would have saved up every ounce of my pocket money to get them.

4) Jacqueline Wilson.

Auto-buying this author was actually a joint effort. When I was rather young  my sister and I adored these books. Whenever we went to the book shop with our parents, between us we would always come out with at least one to read (which is why I got through so many of them). Honestly, Wilson is such a fantastic way with a knack for seeing adult problems through the eyes of children. As I grew older I stopped reading them so much, though Bev (my sister) did keep buying them for a while.

5) Patrick Rothfuss.

Though there aren't a huge amount of books in the Patrick Rothfuss collection, he was very much destined to be one of my auto-buy authors. I adored 'The Name Of The Wind'. I loved it so much that I scoured the internet regularly for news of the next book and despite the fact that when it was finally released I had stopped auto-buying, I dropped everything and bought it anyway. The only thing stopping me from doing the same with 'The Slow Regard Of Silent Things' is the fact that I haven't read 'The Wise Man's Fear'...yet.

Authors I Would Auto-Buy If I Still Did...

6) Marissa Meyer.

If there was ever an author that I consider auto-buying every novel and novella that they have out, it's this one. I have fallen completely for her 'Lunar Chronicles' series and though 'Winter' won't be released until November, she's the first author in years I've considered pre-ordering a book from. In fact, it's in my basket so I only need to put it through the checkout...

7) Holly Black.

I basically own/have read so many of this lady's books that people probably do think I auto-buy. The truth is actually no! Most of those I have read I actually acquired through Netgalley or borrowed from a friend. The only ones that I bought for myself are her 'Modern Faerie Tales' series. I feel like if I wasn't so lucky though, I probably would end up buying the whole lot. I have occasional issues with her fast-paced writing but I adore her imagination!

8) Maria V. Snyder.

I want all of the books. All of them! I read 'Poison Study' quite a while back and loved it, and it seriously takes all of my willpower not to order all of the 'Study' and 'Glass' series. Not to mention I keep seeing advertisements for her soon to be released newest additions to the 'Study' series. Gah! Maybe I should break my own rule, add every single one to my Amazon basket and be done with it!

9) George R.R. Martin.

I actually already own the sum total of what he's written for the 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series, but that's only because I received it as a gift. In truth I haven't bought a single one of his books for myself. That doesn't mean I don't want to though. He's written other stories set in Westeros that I would love to read, and even some sci-fi stuff that could be interesting (even though I'm not a huge sci-fi fan)! There's just something about this man's writing that hooks me.

10) Neil Gaiman.

I only own four books written by this man. That's not a huge amount in all honesty, especially as three are on my Kindle (which for some reason makes it feel even worse). However, I admire his books in the shops almost every time I go in there. There are so many I want to read that I wouldn't know where to begin, but those that I have read so far I have really enjoyed. Hopefully I can buy and read more soon?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (10th August - 16th August)...

This week has actually ended up being quite different to my normal week because I booked a couple of days off of work, so I only worked three days this week! I'll start with Monday though (my usual day off) because once again, Mat and I have been on a London adventure! This time we went to Covent Garden & Soho to have a look around. I've been to Covent Garden a few times before, but I've never really been able to explore it fully. If I had to describe it in one word, I'd use 'quaint'.



If you have never been I thoroughly recommend it. As well as being the home of high-end brand pop-up stores, there are long-standing toy stores (one of which had a pretty Alice In Wonderland display), ice cream shops, bakeries, etc. All of these are small and charming, with an almost old-fashioned feel about them. The cafés in the lower court always have music being played by talented artists and it creates a very special sort of atmosphere. There are plenty of markets too, which are always interesting to admire!


We then went and had a drink at a local pub, before heading off to Soho to have a look around and something to eat. We did also stop off at Forbidden Planet, which has a really fun basement floor dedicated to books, comics, graphic novels and virtually anything else you could think of. We didn't fully explore Soho, choosing only to go to 'Mildred's', a vegetarian café (Mat is a vegetarian in case I have never mentioned this before) and Carnaby Street which also contained a variety of interesting shops. I particularly loved 'Liberty' (a gift store) and 'Irregular Choice' a very unique shoe shop with some gorgeous and slightly bizarre designs. A quick stop at Selfridge's on Oxford Street bought the wonderful, fun day out to a close.

I had work for a few days before my holiday on Friday & Saturday. On Friday, I went to Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford to do a little bit of shopping and meet Mat for lunch. Apart from that, my day was fairly uneventful. Saturday Mat and I had to get up very early to travel back to our home town, so that we could go to a lovely garden party with my family, as it was my Uncle's sixtieth birthday. It was a lot of fun and very strange seeing my cousin's children looking a lot more grown up than I remember them! On Sunday, I finally got my day of rest and made a good start on Season 4 of 'Once Upon A Time'.

I Read:



Blitzes/Tours/Cover Reveals/Giveaways:


Memes:

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Book Review: Flex; Ferrett Steinmetz.

Considering that this book was less than 300 pages, it took me a LONG time to get through it. The reasons for that will probably become clear in this review, as I didn't enjoy this book a whole lot. I am glad that I finished it, as I feel like I haven't been overly active on this blog for the last couple of days! Time for another book review!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Flex
AUTHOR: Ferrett Steinmetz
SERIES: 'Mancer (#1)
PUBLISHER: Angry Robot
PAGES: 292
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Sci Fi, Adult

RATING: 3/5 Stars


Blurb:
FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form. But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.

What I Liked:
  • The plot idea is really very creative and original. The idea that our passions/loves/hobbies could be tuned into a form of magic is an intriguing one and when I read the synopsis for this book I loved it! Drugs that let you be magic for a while? Brilliant! Consequences for those actions! Even better! Having finished it, I will stand by the fact that I haven't read a plot idea like this before. Some of the ways that magic was used in this book (Paul's bureaucromancy, Valentine's videogamemancy, etc.) were really fun to read about.
  • Valentine's character I did like a lot. When she showed up in the book, I felt a lot better about it for a while. She was witty, down to earth and feisty, which I like in a heroine and even more in a sidekick. I guess that's mostly the gamer in me talking, you don't find a whole lot of them in books but Valentine was probably this book's saving grace when it came to the characters.
What I Disliked:
  • I'm afraid I didn't have a whole lot of love for the main hero, Paul. He was clever (which was good) but his constant self-pity wore thin on me after a while. The fact that he couldn't go a page without thinking about how he was a bad Father/person, how lonely and isolated he felt, or how his ex-wife (who I didn't like one little bit) was probably right about him. Whiny heroes are not my thing and Paul was the epitome of self-deprecation. The character's he interacted with (except Valentine) were pretty one-dimensional too. Anathema, our villain, only had a portion of back-story thrown in at the end. Kit and Lenny were basically the same person. Imani, the aforementioned awful ex-wife, only showed up to feed Paul's self-loathing. Where was the development?
  • I'm afraid that for me, the world-building could have been better. There wasn't a whole lot of historical context when it came to the Mancers, only a couple of mentions regarding past actions. Even more disappointing, the rules of Mancy were very unclear. At first, they seemed to defined well, but as the plot went on I felt like they were changed to suit what the plot needed at that moment. Feats that I considered huge didn't seem to have any of the Flux blow-backs I was promised, and vice versa. Paul in particular seemed to be the exception to the rule in most Mancy cases and it only served to confuse me.
  • The plot itself had me quite lost. I remember complaining about a similar scenario in Libba Bray's 'Going Bovine'. There was just too much craziness for me to handle. The story moved at such an alarming rate, with some really strange things happening and I felt like I was in some kind of drug induced hallucination while reading. Everything was made way more complicated than it needed to be too, so when friends asked me to explain what the book was about or what was happening I couldn't find the words to do so.
Overall Conclusion:
I'm afraid this book was a little disappointing. I adored the ideas behind it and the vision that I think the author had in mind which is why I bumped the rating a little. But when it came to the execution, it just didn't quite work for me. Most of the characters fell flat, save Valentine who was pretty cool, and the world-building contradicted itself on a whole lot of levels. In the end, I spent most of the time confused about what was happening and it took me a long time to get through this book.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Book Blitz & Giveaway: 'Lumière'; Jacqueline E. Garlick.


Hello everybody, welcome to my Book Blitz stop for Jacqueline E. Garlick's 'Lumière', a book that I for one am very excited about! Just look at that gorgeous cover! This post will contain all the information you need to know about this wonderful-looking book, as well as a couple of Giveaways. Both will be international, so get entering! Please click the picture below to be taken to the Goodreads page!

Synopsis: Even in a land of eternal twilight, secrets can’t stay hidden forever.

Seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth is no stranger to living in the dark. She’s hidden her secret affliction all of her life—a life that would be in danger if superstitious townspeople ever guessed the truth. After her mother is accused and executed for a crime that she didn't commit, the now-orphaned Eyelet has no choice but to track down the machine—her last hope for a cure. But Eyelet’s late father’s most prized invention, the Illuminator, has been missing since the day of the mysterious flash—a day that saw the sun wiped out over Brethren forever.

Alone and on the run, she finds the Illuminator—only to witness a young man hauling it away. Determined to follow the thief and recover the machine, she ventures into the deepest, darkest, most dangerous part of her twisted world.

About The Author: I'm Jacqueline Garlick, author of young adult and new adult fiction. I love strong heroines, despise whiny sidekicks, and adore a good story about a triumphant underdog (don't you?). I love to read, write, paint (walls and paper). I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology and would rather hang out with a dog, than a cat. I prefer creating things to cleaning things, and believe laughter is a one-stop-shop solution to all that ails you. You will always find a purple wall (or two) in my house (currently in my writing room), and there may or may not be a hidden passageway that leads to a mystery room. Okay, so you won't find a hidden passageway, but a girl can dream, can't she? Oh, and tea. There will always be tea. 

My writing style has been described as edgy and rule-breaking, and by some--a touch Tim Burton-esque. Because of this, I am often referred to as the Quentin Tarantino of YA among writing friends. 

In my former life, I was a teacher (both grade school and college-don't ask), but more recently I've been a graduate of Ellen Hopkin's Nevada Mentor Program and a student of James Scott Bell, Christopher Vogler and Don Maass. An excerpt from Lumière earned me the 2012 Don Maass Break Out Novel Intensive Scholarship. 

Lumière--A Romantic Steampunk Fantasy--my debut novel, is the recipient of an indieBRAG Medallion!!! B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree October 15, 2014) I am so proud!  Book II of the ILLUMINATION PARADOX SERIES, is out January 26th, now on pre-order.

Also, check out my young adult contemporary romantic/mystery serial, IF ONLY, where reluctant telepathic sleuth Kyla Cooper must embrace her powers and risks all to solve the mystery of what happened to her boyfriend Denver Munro, becoming his voice of truth, before he has no voice at all...

Website
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A Couple Of Excerpts


Giveaways:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

My giveaway (the first one) ends on September 4th so that I may get the Winner's information in on time for them to receive their prize after September 8th. The blitz-wide giveaway ends August 20th. Good luck! Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for running this Book Blitz!


Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Authors I Have Read The Most Books From'.


Hmm...I seem to recall in my last post on a very similar subject (Top Ten Authors I Own The Most Books By) I actually ended up mixing it up and doing a bit of this topic too (mostly because I was doing physical books only and had very little shelf space to own books). Still, it has been over a year since then so I'll redo the topic and see if anything has changed I guess.

1) Darren Shan (22 Books).


I've Read: [The Saga Of Darren Shan (Books 1-12) Cirque Du Freak, The Vampire's Assistant, Tunnels Of Blood, Vampire Mountain, Trials Of Death, The Vampire Prince, Hunters Of The Dusk, Allies Of The Night, Killers Of The Dawn, The Lake Of Souls, Lord Of The Shadows, Sons Of Destiny], [The Demonata Series (Books 1-10) Lord Loss, Demon Thief, Slawter, Bec, Blood Beast, Demon Apocalypse, Death's Shadow, Wolf Island, Dark Calling, Hell's Heroes].

2) Jacqueline Wilson (16 Books).

I've Read: [Tracy Beaker (Books 1-2) The Story Of Tracy Beaker, The Dare Game], Vicky Angel, Best Friends, Midnight, Candyfloss, The Suitcase Kid, The Cat Mummy, Lola Rose, Bad Girls, Love Lessons, Double Act, Clean Break, The Worry Website, The Illustrated Mum, The Bed & Breakfast Star.

3) Tamora Pierce (15 Books).


I've Read: [Song Of The Lioness (Books 1-4) Alanna: The First Adventure, In The Hand Of The Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like A Man, Lioness Rampant], [Immortals (Books 1-4) Wild Magic, Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage, The Realms Of The Gods], [Protector Of The Small (Books 1-4) First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight], [Daughter Of The Lioness (Books 1-2) Trickster's Choice, Trickster's Queen], [Beka Cooper (Book 1) Terrier], [Circle Of Magic (Books 1-4) Sandry's Book, Tris's Book, Daja's Book, Briar's Book].

4) Enid Blyton (8 Books).


I've Read: [Famous Five (Books 1-6) Five On A Treasure Island, Five Go Adventuring Again, Five Run Away Together, Five Go To Smuggler's Top, Five Go Off In A Caravan, Five On Kirrin Island], [The Faraway Tree (Book 3) The Folk Of The Faraway Tree], [Circus Series (Book 1) Mr Galliano's Circus].

5) Cate Tiernan (7 Books).


I've Read: [Wicca (Books 1-7) Book Of Shadows, The Coven, Blood Witch, Dark Magick, Awakening, Spellbound, The Calling].

6) J.K. Rowling (7 Books).

I've Read: [Harry Potter (Books 1-7) The Philosopher's Stone, The Chamber Of Secrets, The Prisoner Of Azkaban, The Goblet Of Fire, The Order Of The Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince, The Deathly Hallows].

7) Anthony Horowitz (7 Books).

I've Read: [Alex Rider (Books 1-6) Stormbreaker, Point Blanc, Skeleton Key, Eagle Strike, Scorpia, Ark Angel], More Horowitz Horror.

8) Julia Golding/Joss Stirling (6 Books).

I've Read: [Cat Royal (Books 1-5) Diamond Of Drury Lane, Cat Among The Pigeons, Den Of Thieves, Cat-O'Nine Tails, Black Heart Of Jamaica], [Benedicts (Book 1) Finding Sky].

9) Malorie Blackman (6 Books).

I've Read: [Noughts & Crosses (Books 1-4) Noughts & Crosses, Knife Edge, Checkmate, Double Cross], Thief, Hacker.

10) Holly Black (6 Books).

I've Read: [Modern Faerie Tales (Books 1-2) Tithe, Valiant], [Curse Workers (Book 1) White Cat], [Magisterium (Book 1) The Iron Trial], Doll Bones, Poison Eaters & Other Stories.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (3rd August - 9th August)...

Mat and I are on a real mission to start doing and exploring more in/of London. Therefore, we had a really good couple of hours out at the nearby Brick Lane. Seriously, we live surprisingly close to the place and Mat (having been once) really wanted to take me there. As it happens, the normally popular market was closed on Mondays but there was still some really cool things there to look at. We didn't stay long because we had to get back for dinner and my shoes decided to pick that day to give me a blister. I have a few really good pictures though and I even bought a book!


The most impressive thing about Brick Lane by far is the amount of art to be found there! The walls are covered with various designs, patterns and drawings and everything is really colourful as a result. These were some of my favourites but I got a whole ton of pictures. These pieces of art are constantly changing too, so you will always see something different with every trip. We went into a really cool store called Rough Trade which is definitely the only ever Vinyl shop I have seen that also sells ice cream on the side. As for Brick Lane Bookshop, it was absolutely gorgeous. I would have liked to have stayed longer to properly look at the kinds of books they sold, but we were in a bit of a rush. I did manage to buy something though: 'Serbian Fairy Tales' compiled and edited by Jelena Curcic, Vuk Stefanovic Karadzik and Sam Quinn. This book is gorgeous, and illustrated too! I'd certainly never seen it in any other book shops I had been in.


Later on in the week, Mat and I went to see the new 'Fantastic Four' film together. Though the film itself was not overly impressive (it had a mediocre start, followed by a fantastic middle then a VERY disappointing end) we still had a nice evening. It's nice not to just talk about work in a post like this, and I have actually drawn up plans for us to do something every Monday on our day off together. Look out for more London Life posts from me!

I Read:


Memes:

Top Ten Tuesday: Fairy Tales & Retellings I've Read/Want To Read

I Posted:

Are Book Lovers...Weird?