Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book'.

Oh my goodness! It has been so long since I've been part of the Top Ten Tuesday crew, but as of late I've really found it hard to read and blog, and I've hit a bit of a slump. I decided to take a bit of a break from memes in order to stop it all from becoming a chore. But this topic is great, and I've thought of so many answers I had to share!

1) Sloppy covers.

I'm sorry. I know the age old adage: 'Don't judge a book by it's cover'. But, oftentimes, you can and I most certainly do. I like my covers pretty. I like them to look nice on my shelf (both physical and Goodreads) so even if a book synopsis sounds great, if there's no effort on the cover I'll probably avoid it. Of course I've read some books with covers that I hate, and they've turned out to be fantastic! But most of the time I've found that the content is as terrible as the art.

2) Too sexual.

I'm sorry to say, I avoid Erotica and New Adult genres like the plague because I hate reading books that are literally all about sex and nothing else. Most of the time, sex scenes are horribly written with nasty phrases used to describe the action and I can't deal with it. Plus, half the time I feel like authors don't understand the kinky relationships they're trying to portray. It's why I'll never read the 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' among others, that's for sure.

3) Too romantic.

You may think I'm severely limiting my choices here, not allowing myself to read books that are too lusty or too fluffy. But if the blurb starts with something along the lines with 'Mary Sue was a lonely, unfeeling, hot mess until she met a young hot millionaire to solve all her problems' then I'm not going to go further. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good romantic sub-plot or shipping many of my favourite couples, but I want to read a story I don't recognise. Romance novels are pretty much all the same in my eyes.

4) Love triangles.

Oh. My. God. Triangles, squares, hexagons, I don't understand why authors think this is such a fantastic plot device. Especially in YA! When I ship couples I like those couples to be there for each other and not letting their eyes wander to other characters. In some stories I've read, this is actually a very cleverly used plot device implemented in an original way. 95% of the time however it halts the story and we have to go through pages of our heroine (it usually is a woman of course) unable to bring herself to choose which guy she wants. Ugh.

5) Books that have been badly reviewed.

This is another one I'm a bit ashamed about because I try not to put too much stock in other people's reviews. I tend only to veer away from books that have been blasted by bloggers I trust. However, when I'm excited about a book then read very mixed reviews on it that head towards the bad side of the Goodreads rating system, I end up second guessing myself. Three of the top reviewers said that the heroine is boring as heck? Maybe I don't want to read this book...

6) This book is <popular book title> meets <popular TV show> meets <popular film title> with added <checkbox for diversity list>.

This is just lazy marketing. Plain and simple. I don't want a crossover of these three totally unrelated things and added LGBT or ethnic diversity if you're only talking about it to check a box off of your list. 'Harry Potter' meets 'Game Of Thrones' meets 'Avengers Assemble' with added lesbians sounds like a HOT MESS and not one I want to partake in. When writing blurbs, maybe try to point out it's uniqueness rather than the fact that it's a combination of other people's ideas.

7) Rehashes of successful books.

Similarly to the last point, I do not want to read the next 'Divergent'. Did I enjoy 'Twilight'? Not particularly so you're actually turning me off of your book by saying it's the same book. Any book that is described with 'If you enjoyed this, then you must read this book' is not a winner in my eyes, purely because it displays a lack of originality in the publishing industry and does not show the author in a good light.

8) Books that famously don't end well/cover difficult topics.

I don't actively try to avoid these books in the sense that I need to look up a full synopsis before reading. However, books such as 'The Notebook' where I know they are going to end sadly and turn me into a hysterical mess are books I'm not that interested in I'm afraid. I always feel a little apprehensive about books that talk about abuse and rape too, among other difficult topics. If I know they'e going to be about that, it can take me a long time to get to them.

9) Anything containing an overly special snowflake.

Books about a hero or heroine who are the first in thousands of years to develop special powers, skills or are one of a kind in anyway don't grab me in the way they used to. They're everywhere of course and so often I can't avoid them. Some of my favourite books still hold this trope too, but oftentimes I read books with these characters and I feel like I've read it all before. 

10) Books about grumpy detectives solving murders while trying to put the pieces of their own wrecked lives back together.

This is probably the most specific of all of my book turn-offs, but this basically describes every crime thriller everywhere. Detectives that have cigars drooping out of their mouths and a hip flask, who haven't seen their son/daughter for years, divorced because they are complete workaholics and feel that solving this latest 'special' case will fill the whole. And if they're a female detective? there's always the added bonus of trying to be taken seriously in their profession. Can someone please do something a bit more original?

Monday, 24 April 2017

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

So, the week started with Easter Monday of course, and my parents dropped in for an impromptu visit! Always lovely seeing them, and it gave me a chance to pass on Easter goodies I'd bought for my lovely sister as she'd been kind enough to buy me two new vinyls for my record player! It was such a nice day off, though the last one before I went back to work. The week was fairly uneventful other than that, but I've been investing a lot of my time into trying new things to be mindful of my mental health: yoga, colouring and making sure I read and relax every day. I definitely feel a lot happier for it!

On Sunday, Mat and I went out with friends after a long day of getting things done. It was a friend of ours' birthday so we had a curry at Brick Lane (delicious!) before going to a local chocolate bar where, regrettably, I was too late to have a delicious hot chocolate! It was a wonderful, if tiring, evening out and I enjoyed myself a lot.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'A Court Of Mist & Fury' by Sarah J. Maas: Bought on Amazon (17/04/17)
- 'Hollow City' by Ransom Riggs: Bought on Amazon (17/04/17)
- 'Doing It! Let's Talk About Sex' by Hannah Witton: Bought on Amazon (17/04/17)
- 'Windfall' by Jennifer E. Smith: Approved by Netgalley (21/04/17)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Book Review: Hidden Huntress; Danielle L. Jensen.

Boy. Oh. Boy. It has been such a long time since I read book one of this series, 'Stolen Songbird', and words cannot describe how I feel now I have actually done it! Of all the series that it's taking me a while to get through, this was the one that haunted me because I loved it so much!

SOURCE: Present
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Hidden Huntress
AUTHOR: Danielle L. Jensen
SERIES: Stolen Songbird (#2)
Angry Robot
PAGES: 464
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

What I Liked:
  • Despite the huge amount of time between reading the first and second of the series I remembered all of the characters so well, and that's because Jensen writes such unique ones with oodles of personality. Tristan and Cécile are still a power couple for me and I loved their interactions in this book, Victoria and Vincent are the best twins ever, I loved Marcus and Pierre and Sylvie still and of course villains such as Tristan's father and Cécile's overbearing Mother were great!
  • Though we didn't get to see much of Trollus in this book, I still loved Jensen's world-building skills. We got to see a lot more of Trianon this time around, and while it was not nearly as interesting (being the human world) I did still like it. The small glimpses we got made me really excited for book three even more!
  • Jensen's still got it writing-wise. She drew me into the plot and filled it with plenty of intrigue and interest, though I must say this felt like a bit of a filler book. It was a nice re-introduction to the story and I liked exploring more aspects of the magic weaved into the story. There was certainly enough action not to lose me while reading, especially at the high page count.
What I Disliked:
  • The most frustrating thing about this book that ensured it didn't get the five star rating that I gave 'Stolen Songbird'? I KNEW WHAT THE TWIST WOULD BE. I pretty much had Anushka's identity pegged during book one, the physical descriptors meant it wasn't exactly rocket science. I thought it would be a mid-book reveal but instead found myself getting so annoyed at Cécile's inability to see what was directly in front of her. I actually ranted about it to Mat for half an hour I got so annoyed at one point. I wish it had been revealed sooner, it made the book feel even more of a filler and was all building up to something that felt like nothing because I'd already figured it out.
  • I mentioned that I loved Cécile and Tristan as a couple. Individually though, this time not so much. In book one they were sassy and sarcastic and adorable, but I found Cécile a little irritating and naive here, while Tristan brooded way too much. I loved their moments together though! I never want them split up ever again!
Overall Conclusion:
I liked this book a lot, and I definitely think it had the same charm found in book one. Sadly though, I was a little disappointed because like most second books in a trilogy this was a filler book. It's whole premise was to build up to a big reveal that most people had probably figured out, and nothing really added to the story-line other than the political intrigue sub-plot in Trollus. It was a big book to get through too, so had it not been for Jensen's wonderful writing style and personality injection, I'd most likely have been bored. It has definitely made me excited for book three though, and 'The Broken Ones' which I recently snagged on Netgalley!

Monday, 17 April 2017

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

Okay, so blog-wise this has been a really unproductive week. As I said last week, I've been in a real reading slump and I'm finding it hard to get out of it at the moment! I've had a good week apart from that though! Mat's friend Joe came to visit on Monday, which was nice. We haven't seen him in a long time and it was so great to catch up! That was pretty much our Monday, and then I had two other days off straight after with which I did a lot of things on my to do list, so I felt very productive afterwards.

My favourite day of the week was definitely Easter Sunday though, and not just because of the chocolate! Mat and I invited a few of our friends over for a meal, and it was lovely to spend time with them all. We had roast dinner and snacks, watched a bit of Deadpool and played Takenoko (a board game) with them! All in all, a successful day that was a lot of fun! I'd like to wish everyone who reads this blog a happy Easter period!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'The Broken Ones' by Danielle L. Jensen: Approved by Netgalley (11/04/17)

Monday, 10 April 2017

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

For the most part of this week, I've been in Ashford! It was actually my Mum's birthday on the 5th, so Mat and I went down on Monday and stayed for three days! We gave the flat a spring clean before leaving, and even went for a run in the morning (exercise and I don't mix well, but I've been trying to get better at this). We arrived around 5 o clock which allowed us a lot of time for a catch up with my family. In fact, the three days were lovely, and Mat and I went on plenty of walks and got on with lots while we were there. Mum really enjoyed her presents and it was just what I needed as work has been getting more and more stressful for me!

The rest of the week was not very exciting for me. Mat and I had to work a lot, but something we've been getting into is watching our own health (physical fitness and mindfulness) and we downloaded some great apps to help us do that. Also, we have been watching Season 3 of The Walking Dead which is such a good TV show and I've been trying (and failing...sigh...) to catch up on my reading, which is falling further and further behind. I'm very much in a slump at the moment, so looking to get out of it ASAP.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Flame In The Mist' by Renée Ahdieh: Approved by Netgalley (07/04/17)
- 'How To Stop Time' by Matt Haig: Approved by Netgalley (07/04/17)
- 'Flight Of A Starling' by Lisa Heathfield: Approved by Netgalley (07/04/17)
- 'Everyday Sexism' by Laura Bates: Bought on Amazon (07/04/17)
- 'Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Bought on Amazon (07/04/17)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Book Review: Fairy Tales For Modern Queers; Emily Reed.

We all know that Fairy Tales are the stories I love above all other things, but when combining that with interpretations promoting diversity and inclusion, particularly of the LGBTQ+ Community, we should have a clear winner for book of the month. Right?

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Fairy Tales For Modern Queers
AUTHOR: Emily Reed
Harmony Ink Press
PAGES: 146
GENRE: Short Stories, Young Adult, LGBT, Retelling

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Gay teenager Hart could finish his fairy tale for class if his horrible step-siblings would stop harassing him. Talia’s depression is like a sleeping curse and may kill her if she doesn’t ask for help. Independent, overweight bisexual Sienna deals with her “nice guy” neighbour while visiting her grandmother. When a mysterious girl climbs up Rachael’s fire escape, Rachael might finally break free from her overprotective mother. Transgender Amelia is bullied regularly for her identity, but she’ll show everyone exactly who she is. 

Princess Rellyn must face down a dragon since she’s seventh in line and battle her father since she's not a boy, and she’s not sure which one is scarier. An adventurous knight whisks away gender-fluid Noll when all they want is a quiet life on their farm. Mermaid Astrid wants revenge on the man who betrayed her, but is confused by her attraction to the one sailor immune to her song. Asexual Myka might love Princess Lysandria, but Myka must learn to control her inner werewolf before the king marries her off to “cure” her. With the help of a witch, blacksmith’s apprentice Malcolm must find his missing prince.

What I Liked:
  • The idea behind this book is insanely good and a message that I wish I could see promoted in all YA literature. Divided into two parts, the first set of stories re-imagined classic tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty & Little Red Riding Hood and turned them into contemporary LGBT+ stories. There was some great story ideas, and I particularly liked other themes that wove through these stories: mental health, sexism, family issues etc. My favourite set of stories was the second though: new fairy tales set in Fantasy Kingdoms where LGBT characters were actually taken seriously! Hats off to Reed for showing everyone just how easy it is to have an asexual werewolf, or a gender-fluid peasant to save the kingdom. It all felt very natural, and THIS is the kind of Fantasy I want to read.
What I Disliked:
  • Reed clearly has plenty of imagination to spare. What the stories lacked however, was depth. With every story, I found myself drawn into the world and it's message, before being cruelly ousted out with a 'and then some vague, other stuff happened and they all lived happily ever after'. WHAT? NO! I knew this would be a problem because the book was only 196 pages long, and that's just not long enough for a compilation of short stories. More detail and development was definitely needed.
  • Reed's writing skills really didn't blow me away either. She wrote well, but I didn't feel any personality from her writing and I so badly wanted to fall in love with this collection. Everything was a little vague: contemporary stories were mostly set in school and didn't delve much deeper than 'classroom', 'tryouts' and 'prom'. I found the same with the Fantasy settings. All fictional kingdoms have forests, castles and Knights a plenty. I want more detail!
Overall Conclusion:
I'm disappointed really that this book's only saving grace was it's message. Reed put a lot of thought into the project itself and I would urge other writers to do the same and write more inclusive characters into their books, especially Fantasy and other such genres where it's hard to find characters like that. It needed more depth and better development for it's characters, setting and plot. As retellings go, they were imaginative and thought-put in some areas, and vague and a little boring in others. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (27th March - 2nd April)...

This week has been pretty quiet on the doing things front, other than work obviously. On Monday, Mat and I went out for a big shopping trip to Westfield. I have been in desperate need of new clothes for a while, and I wanted to sort out my new phone with some much needed help from my lovely boyfriend. It was a really lovely day out, finished by a trip to the cinema to see Kong: Skull Island. I highly recommend the film actually, very different from what I was expecting but still really good! Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson were of course the stars of the show and really flexed their acting chops for this one.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Ice' by Laline Paull: Approved by Netgalley (30/03/17)
- 'Girlhood' by Cat Clarke: Approved by Netgalley (30/03/17)
- 'Zenn Diagram' by Wendy Brant: Approved by Netgalley (30/03/17)

I Posted...

March Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For April

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Planned Reads For April.

I think I'm going to have my work cut out this month playing catch-up. Did you know, I'm three books behind schedule for meeting this year's 70 book target? In the end it's all about having fun with reading and I've definitely been having a book slump these past few weeks. Hoping to shake myself out of it with some great reads this month!

  1. 'Fairy Tales For Modern Queers' by Emily Reed. I'm a little way into this and don't anticipate it taking me long to get through this book (famous last words). Short stories based on Fairy Tales? A focus on queer characters, mental health issues and all things diverse? Yes please! This should be the perfect book for me, providing the stories are enjoyable that is.
  2. 'Hidden Huntress' by Danielle L. Jensen. I give everyone who sees me in the street permission to slap me in the face for not having read this yet. I loved 'Stolen Songbird, which I read an absolute age ago and have almost entirely forgotten at this point. I am determined however and have seen so many people enjoy and finish this series, so I'm looking forward to doing the same! I didn't get to it last month, so it's priority reading now!
  1. 'Three Dark Crowns' by Kendare Blake. This was one of my most anticipated reads for last year and I wanted so badly to get to it then. Having received it as a Christmas present from good friends, I'm excited to finally be reading it now! I hope it's as good as everyone says it is!
  2. 'The Loney' by Andrew Michael Hurley. This award-winning novel certainly caught everyone's attention last year and I bought it as a present for myself because I was so curious! Both cover and description are giving me huge 'The Woman In Black' vibes which everyone knows is one of my favourite horrors! I've heard great things about Hurley's prose too.
  3. 'A List Of Cages' by Robin Roe. A new release for this year, this book was very much high on the anticipated reads list. Thank goodness Netgalley let me access a copy! I love the cover so much and I think it would be good to read a book from the POV of an MC who suffers from ADHD. I've never read one before and have very little knowledge of the condition!
  4. 'Red Witch' by Anna McKerrow. I read 'Crow Moon' not too long ago, and actually had this sequel down for last month's reading. I thought I'd have another crack at it now. I had mixed feelings about book one, but was intrigued enough to want to continue the series and I think a glimpse into the Red World and the POV of one of my favourite characters will mean I'll actually prefer this book.
  5. 'A Darker Shade Of Magic' by V.E. Schwab. Finally. Finally I'm reading this book. I've heard so much about it, and it certainly seems to be a firm favourite of Illumicrate owner Daphne, whose taste in books is exquisite if her choices every quarter are anything to go by. I have a lot of merchandise surrounding this series, so may as well actually read it!