Thursday 31 July 2014

July Wrap-Up Post.

I can't quite believe how quickly this month has actually gone! I feel like I was only writing my planned reads post yesterday. I've actually ended up going a little off track with this month's reading list, missing quite a few and reading a couple that I didn't originally intend to. Although I did manage to fit books into every category, I only actually read 1/3 of my intended challenge reads. I read 2/3 of my chosen Netgalley reads, and 2/6 of my other chosen books. I still feel pretty good about my reading this month though, I was away on holiday for a fair bit of it and didn't have time for reading.

Physical Books:

  1. 'Divergent'; Veronica Roth. My sister had been nagging me to read this one for months, and it was all over the Blogosphere. I finally got round to giving it a go and loved it! The romance was amazing, the plot intriguing and I can't wait to find time for Insurgent! 4/5 stars.
  2. 'Lord Of The Flies'; William Golding. A classic that I have wanted to read for quite a while, I seized the opportunity when my sister borrowed it from school. I did enjoy it, Golding's writing was beautiful and the plot concept very interesting. The lack of back-story threw me a bit though. 3.5/5 stars.
  3. 'Poison Study'; Maria V. Snyder. I adored this book. It had me hooked from start to finish and I loved the plot, the setting, the characters and the romance. I really didn't want it to end in fact, and have considered throwing my reading schedule out the window and just reading every book in this series for the next few weeks! 5/5 stars.
Kindle Reads:
  1. 'Moonfall'; Vanessa Morton. My first ever Blog Tour and a Netgalley read, this book was always going to be a special read. I did really enjoy a lot about it, the romance in particular, and the huge amount of research that had clearly gone into this work. The only real niggle was that I felt some character choices didn't suit the personality they displayed. 3.5/5 stars.
  2. 'The Silent History'; Eli Horowitz. Reading this reminded me of reading 'The Three'. It comprised of a series of accounts from various people on a strange phenomena. I liked it though, it did have an actual story that could be followed, with recurring characters, and I liked it's message. 3/5 stars.
  3. 'Dragon's Curse'; H.L. Burke. I was given a copy of this book by the author, and I'm so glad I read it, I thought it was great! The characters were fantastic and the plot-line very original though reminiscent of a Fairytale, something I always enjoy in books. The book was short though, I wanted more! 3.5/5 stars.
  4. 'Queen Of The Tearling'; Erika Johansen. This book has received such mixed reviews but I did, for the most part, enjoy it. The characters were a very strong point, and I really liked the main heroine. The story-line was pretty gripping too. I had real issues with the confusing setting however, and I did feel that there was just a tad too much focus on the worth of beauty. It grated a little. 3/5 stars.
So, 7 books this month! Not bad considering my week away! This month also marked the start of a new Bookish Bingo card, and I'm pretty pleased with my current progress.

A Stand-Alone: The Silent History, Eli Horowitz.
Sky On Cover: Dragon's Curse, H.L. Burke.
Pink Cover: Divergent, Veronica Roth.
Freebie: Poison Study, Maria V. Snyder.
A Summer Release: Queen Of The Tearling, Erika Johansen.
Strong Sibling Relationship: Moonfall, Vanessa Morton.
Set On An Island: Lord Of The Flies, William Golding.

Life Of A Blogger: 'Favourite Outings'.

Hmm...this is such a strangely difficult topic for me. Maybe it's because I don't go out much? Nevertheless, I've thought of some favourites.
  • Bookshops. I think this is an obvious one for most book lovers. It doesn't matter where I am, what I'm supposed to be doing, I will always try and make time to go into a bookshop. I might not even buy anything, I'll just be desperate to have a look! I actually find looking around at the books more fun than buying the books half the time.
  • The Theatre. Of course this outing was going to make it to the list too, I adore the Theatre! I like watching Musicals, but really enjoy straight drama as well, especially Shakespeare! It's not just the shows themselves, I like the atmosphere found when going to watch a performance, bot before and after!
  • The Cinema. Mat and I both have Unlimited Cards so we go a fair amount and get to see lots of films. I'm a bit of a film freak, so honestly it's one of my favourite places to go on a date or out with my friends. Especially if I've been looking forward to the film for months and months!
  • Meeting friends. This is a bit of a generic one, but I always look forward to going out with my friends to various places and doing things. Be it for a coffee (or in my case, a cup of tea/hot chocolate because I don't like coffee), a drink at the pub, out for a meal or shopping, I always have a good time.
  • Dinner with Mat. One of my favourite things to do is eat out with my lovely boyfriend. We normally go for Italian, Indian or Mexican, as we both enjoy it. We often go to the same places but when we do go somewhere new, we generally really enjoy it!
There are probably a ton more that I haven't thought of! This was an awesome topic, I look forward to next week's, 'Best Childhood Memory'.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Book Review: Poison Study; Maria V. Snyder.

You know that feeling you get when you've just read an extremely good book, you're stuck in it's world and feel a little bittersweet because you have been racing through it only to realise you didn't want it to end? Yeah. That. I read this book for a challenge too, it falls under this month's 'Monthly Motif'.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Poison Study
AUTHOR: Maria V. Snyder
SERIES: Study (#1)
PAGES: 409
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Yelena has a choice – be executed for murder, or become food taster to the Commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived.

Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can’t. And who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?

When Yelena realises she has extraordinary powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death...

What I Liked:
  • Where on earth do I start? The plot-line was astoundingly good. I loved the pacing, the twists and turns, and I found that it definitely kept me on my toes and hungry for more. I loved the mystery behind it, the constant sense of danger and I found myself totally hooked on this book. Definitely one of the best fantasies I've read in a long time. I really hope to get hold of Book Two soon!
  • The characters were phenomenal. Yelena is an extremely strong main character and if I could redo last week's Top Ten Tuesday, she would certainly be coming to my Desert Island! Her back-story is harrowing and her constant strength was truly admirable, yet she wasn't heartless or unlikeable. She was pretty funny at times and I grew very attached to her. She was also surrounded by great side characters that each brought something new and necessary to the book. I loved Valek, which I think most people who have read this would agree is a given. Ari and Janco too, I thought were side-splittingly funny and I grew very attached to them.
  • The romance is getting it's own point, it was so good! The build-up was perfect, and I enjoyed all conversations between Yelena and Valek, even when they were purely professional or general chit-chat. I don't think I've felt so strongly about an in book romance for quite some time and yet, it didn't impede on the story's progress in the slightest. I would happily have read a never-ending book about these two, I adored watching their obvious attraction to each other blossom and danced for joy when they did get their first real moment.
  • I haven't praised an author for giving me a setting I can truly believe in for quite some time, and this one was worth waiting for! Snyder writes so well,and her descriptions are creative and really spark the imagination. I can't wait to be pulled into Yelena's world again.
What I Disliked:
  • Do I have to put something here? No, I suppose not and yet I usually try to because it helps me organise my thoughts on the book properly. I'm genuinely struggling with this one though, a struggle I haven't encountered in a long time. I'm going to say that I would have loved to have seen a few more Yelena and Valek moments (I can't get enough of these two) and the ending made me a bit grumpy because of how things are left in their romantic situation. I won't spoil anything, but I want to read the next book for more of them and I really hope I get that!
Overall Conclusion:
I really just want to write the word 'Wow' and nothing else. It was a fantastic read and thoroughly deserving of it's five star rating. The plot, the setting, the descriptions, the characters, the romance, the magic etc. It's all here and I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone! You won't regret this read for a single second.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

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

What an interesting topic, I'm looking forward to writing this list! It's going to be a bit of a mix between authors that I actually own a ton of books by  (though haven't necessarily read them all yet) and authors that I have read a fair amount of their books, because I don't actually have enough shelf space to own huge amounts of books by even my favourite authors. My collection tends to be made up of one or two, maybe three, books from each author!

1) Tamora Pierce.

Of course my beloved Tamora Pierce had to make this list! I have, in one way or another, most of her books. I have loved every one that I have read and plan to re-read them all again at some point, I enjoyed them so much! Tamora Pierce has written so many books too, it would be difficult not to put this Author down on the list. If you haven't read books by this lady, I strongly recommend you do! 'The Song Of The Lioness' Series was my starting point, and I got really heavily into all of her books set in the Tortall Universe. I did get a good way into the books set in the Circle Universe too, though never finished those. Definitely something I need to do at some point in my life!

2) Darren Shan.

When I was at Secondary School, this was the author that I read every book by. I loved 'The Saga Of Darren Shan' and read every trilogy of his Vampiric Young Adult novel! I also read 'The Demonata'  series and enjoyed it a lot, started 'The Thin Executioner' and started 'The Saga Of Larten Crepsley', a spin-off from his original Darren Shan saga. I own a good majority of these books too actually, and I would love to get back into reading them if I had the time.

3) J.K. Rowling.

I have the entire Harry Potter collection, and I'm aware that seven books is not exactly impressive compared to the many books I own of the above authors. However, I own a couple of copies of a fair few of them and I thought that must merit some kind of recognition for this topic. I just really loved this series and the Collection I got from my parents for my birthday made me very happy, so I thought I'd pop it on here!

4) George R.R. Martin.

Now I have only read the first book of George R.R. Martin's 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series. But I actually have the entire collection sitting on my windowsill, and I adore it! I will certainly be getting the next books when they finally come out (no matter how long I have to wait, I will) and I would love to get hold of some of his other works too! I just think his writing is fantastic!

5) William Shakespeare.

Not technically an Author I suppose, but I love this man and everything he has ever written too much not to include him. I have his collected works, i.e. every play, sonnet, poem etc. that he ever wrote and I adore it! It's my go to when I want to de-stress and it's what really drew me into my love of acting, theatre and even great literature and books, so I owe it to him to pop him on this list I think.

6) Julia Golding.

Now this is one of those authors that I actually rediscovered while searching for the answers to this list. A long time ago, I read the entire Cat Royal series and adored it. Seriously, I was hooked it's an insanely good series. I also have the first book of the 'Darcie Lock' series, 'Ringmaster'. My research led me to a really interesting discovery as well. Julia Golding writes as Joss Stirling! I own two of her books, and read and loved the first, so I actually own even more of this amazing writer's work than I actually thought I did!

7) James Patterson.

I got really heavily into this man's 'Maximum Ride' series! I was so gripped by this guy's work in fact, that I went a bit crazy and downloaded a lot of his books onto my Kindle, none of which I have read as of yet. But I do still own them, so I think it counts. If you haven't heard of Maximum Ride by the way, give it a read. It's great!

8) Enid Blyton.

This was one of my favourite childhood authors and as a result, I own a fair few of her books. I had a large set of her 'Famous Five' series at one point, which I became thoroughly addicted to. In addition, I loved 'Mr Galliano's Circus', 'Tales Of Toyland', and the 'Faraway Tree' books, all of which I owned. I remember reading so many of her works that she definitely needed to be here.

9) Malorie Blackman.

This is another author I've been reading at many different ages. I remember reading 'Thief!' and 'Hacker' when I was younger and really enjoying them, then I adored the 'Noughts And Crosses' series later on in life, which I would recommend to anyone. Her name popped into my mind instantly when I was thinking of Author's whose books I've read a lot of. She is an amazing writer.

10) Jacqueline Wilson.

Jacqueline Wilson books were my late childhood, and my sister and I own an absolute ton of her books (especially my sister). In fact if I listed them all we would be here a long time. I remember really loving 'The Story Of Tracy Beaker', 'The Illustrated Mum', 'The Worry Website', 'The Cat Mummy' (which made me cry a lot, I'm a huge animal lover) and 'Love Lessons'. They all told very powerful tales of love, loss and heartbreak from the perspectives of children. She was an amazing author and I was addicted to all of her stories.

Monday 28 July 2014

Last Week's Shenanigans: My Holiday in Llangollen!

So as you can see I'm planning to format this blog a little differently from now on. I will no longer be doing daily posts, instead I'll have weekly updates so that things don't become too repetitive or boring. This post will cover my Holiday and just after I got back. I didn't get to deal with my holiday pictures yet, so I'll have to add those at some point!

Saturday 19th - So this was the day after we arrived in Llangollen (for which I did a daily post) and my first proper full day there. We decided to explore the surrounding area a bit and so went to Llangollen town. It was a lovely place with plenty of shops, a beautiful river and some wonderful views. We had a cup of tea, bought some fudge and then headed to a local aqueduct. It was gorgeous and we got to feed some ducks and go for a walk before heading back to the lodge. It was a good thing too, as not long after we returned, the dreaded storm hit. We watched Rise Of The Guardians (one of my favourite recent animated films) and then not long after, the power went. It stayed off for the rest of the evening so we decided to call it a night!
Sunday 20th - We went back to Llangollen and this time visited the Railway, a local, popular attraction. We stopped at three stations on the train all of which provided some nice views, though there wasn't a huge amount to see. We were also a little disappointed as we were led to believe that the train would also stop at Corwen, but instead it rested at the stop before for about an hour, then headed back. As we arrived back earlier than expected, we looked round Llangollen a little longer before heading back to the lodge. In the evening, we decided to walk and climb a nearby hill that had some Castle ruins at the top. It was an exhausting climb, but the views we got from there were just stunning.
 Monday 21st - On Monday, we drove out to Mount Snowdon! We decided not do attempt the six-hour climb, and cheated instead by taking the train. When we reached the summit, our hill walk from the day before rather paled in comparison, the view was gorgeous (if a little dizzying)! We didn't get to stay long though before the train back down. Mat and I bought some souvenirs, a Dragon ornament for him (red, of course) and a sheep for me! After ascending Mount Snowdon, we stopped at a couple of places to take pictures and have a picnic, then went to a nearby Forest for a walk. We were pretty lucky with the weather (storm aside) for the entire week, as the temperature just rose as the days went by. After our forest walk, we visited the Swallow Falls (stunning!) then headed back to the lodge to watch 'Shrek'.
 Tuesday 22nd - Tuesday was our 'go out and do lots' day. We stopped off in Llangollen first as there was a small market, and we wanted to have a look. I found the book stand very quickly, but nothing really caught my eye. We then went to 'The Original Butterfly Man', a company that makes those butterflies that you find on the walls of some houses. We didn't stop there long, but Mat's Mum did buy a couple. Next we went to a place called 'The Glassblobbery' and I liked this a lot more! The man that ran it was very friendly with a sense of humour, and even gave a glass blowing demonstration. As he asked us what he should make, and picked my suggestion of a fox, I bought it straight away. It was so expertly done and after it has been coloured, it's going to be sent to me! We also went to a nearby village (Bets-wy Coed) to look at the shops, a Chocolate House, and a Pottery. We stopped off at a beautiful place named 'Fairy Glen', and it was aptly named I can tell you. When we arrived back, we watched 'The Bee Movie'.
Wednesday 23rd - We dedicated this day to visit Manchester! Mat's family went off to the Old Trafford stadium (they are huge Manchester United fans), while Mat and I spent our day shopping at the 'Intu Trafford Centre'. It was such an amazing place, more like a Theme Park than a Shopping Centre. I bought some clothes from Next and H&M, but more importantly, I purchased some books! One fits into a Bookish Bingo category perfectly, 'Dancing In The Dark' by P.R. Prendergast (it had a beautiful cover, and only cost me £1!) and a signed edition of Jessie Burton's 'The Miniaturist' which looks amazing. We had lunch at Giraffe, and then returned to Llangollen to watch 'Epic', then play cards!
Thursday 24th - Making the most of the good weather, we travelled to the North Coast of Wales. Our first stop was Conwy, a quaint little village that was full of shops, had a castle and a little port to visit. We then headed Llandudno, a wonderful seaside town with a beach and a pier. It was probably my favourite stop as there were plenty of little stalls and shops to look in, and a local Birds Trust had brought some beautiful Owls and Falcons along for the day, that the public could stroke and admire. I have never been so close to such beautiful creatures before and I was amazed. Our last stop saw us having an ice cream before heading back towards Llangollen. On our way, we quickly stopped at Valle Crucis Abbey for photos.
Friday 25th - The last full day of our holiday,we decided to have a lovely lay-in, before heading out to Llangollen for some last minute shopping and gift buying. Mat's family dropped us into town, and headed off to do other things. I bought Fudge for Dad, Tea for Mum and some scented candles for Bev! I also may have gone a little over the top in the book department. You see, Llangollen is home to a lovely bookshop and Cafe that just had a huge selection of titles and there was a sale on! From there, I purchased 'Interview With A Vampire' (Anne Rice) and 'Shiver' (Maggie Stiefvater). Mat also got a lovely leather-bound copy of Wuthering Heights, and three immaculate volumes of poetry. I also bought (from a Charity Shop called Hope House) Robin Hobb's entire Tawny Man Trilogy, which I thoroughly look forward to reading! Mat and I then went to the nearby river to feed the ducks and it was honestly so nice to just spend time with him for a while, messing about and having fun. Mat's family rejoined us in the afternoon and we played Crazy Golf before going back and packing ready for the next day.
Saturday 26th - Our holiday had come to an end, and we left pretty early in the morning. The journey back to Mat's actually went fairly quickly, which I was glad of because I hate long car journeys. We did a bit of suitcase swapping and unpacking, and then watched the Formula One before I drove home absolutely exhausted. When I got home, I chatted to my parents and sister about my holiday, and then we later sat down to play some cards. I'd missed them a lot, especially my sister, so it was nice to do something together! I was so shattered though, I didn't do an awful lot else!

Sunday 27th - Despite being my first day back in England,it was still a busy one! I finished 'Queen Of The Tearling', and reviewed it. I also went shopping in the morning with my sister, before heading to Mat's for food and a nice afternoon in. There was a music festival going on that we considered going to, but I'm glad we didn't because it poured it down! We then drove later, in the torrential rain, and Mat dropped me off for a buffet at for Imogen's birthday! I got her a copy of 'Divergent' and 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' (excellent choices, I'm sure you'll all agree) as a present and managed to catch up with a couple of friends I hadn't seen in a while! I had a really lovely time and my friend dropped me home which was nice of her.

Top Ten Tuesday (Topic: Characters Picks For A Desert Island)
Life Of A Blogger (Topic: My Quirks)

Books Reviewed:
Queen Of The Tearling; Erika Johansen

Sunday 27 July 2014

Book Review: The Queen Of The Tearling; Erika Johansen.

Alright, I didn't get my post about my holiday up today, but I did manage to finish this book and get a review prepared, so that's something, right? I was eager to get this one finished and share my very mixed thoughts so here goes. I'm entering it into challenges too, namely the Key Words challenge, and the Monthly Motif challenge, as well as the Jumble Your Genres challenge too.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Queen Of The Tearling
AUTHOR: Erika Johansen
SERIES: The Queen Of The Tearling (#1)
PUBLISHER: Transworld Digital
PAGES: 380
GENRE: Fantasy, Adult, Adventure, Dystopian

RATING: 3/5 Stars

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

What I Liked:
  • The story-line I actually really enjoyed. It reads like a High Fantasy, and I was totally sucked into the world of The Tearling and Mortmesne, and enjoyed the multiple viewpoints from various characters. It was broken up into fairly lengthy chapters which I felt could have been shorter, but the pacing of the book was really good and I was hooked from start to finish, which can only be a good thing.
  • The characters were really well-written. They were unique and distinguishable, and I did get attached to them as the story went on. The lead character, Kelsea, grew on me the more I read of her and I thought she was a pretty nice heroine for the story. The Fetch was probably my favourite character, he was mysterious and balanced carefully on the line between good and bad. I was never completely sure of his intentions or back-story, yet found myself really liking him all the same! I can't wait to read more of him and delve deeper.
What I Disliked:
  • The constant references to beauty in this novel grated on me a little. I've read many novels where the heroine is considered plain, or even ugly, and it disadvantages them sometimes. But this book seemed to thrust Kelsea considering herself to be ugly and wallowing in self-pity a fair amount. I wished after a while it would focus on other things.
  • The setting was a little confusing and totally threw me off. As I said, it was written as if set in a Medieval word with swords and horses and castles, mixed with an element of fantasy and magic. So you can imagine my surprise when suddenly, Kelsea knew all about Genes and the way they worked, and reference was made to the Harry Potter series. What on earth? It seems that our story is set in an era after our own, but society seems to have regressed instead of advancing. This would all be fine, except there is no context or history given to speak of so it felt very strange and I didn't understand the necessity.
  • At times the writing felt inconsistent. It would be interesting and really nicely written at some points, then would feel wrong or not quite finished at others. I wish the level of detail had remained high at all points, perhaps I would have appreciated the references to our present, or the book world's past, a little more.
Overall Conclusion:
Having seen so many mixed reviews, I was a little unsure about picking this one up. It has many good points, including a promising story-line that hooked me from page one, and memorable characters that I actually liked! There were a few bad things however. The setting felt off and confusing, the slightly unoriginal 'female heroine who isn't gorgeous but doesn't care though actually, she does a bit' got a little irritating after a while. As well as that I felt the writing style could have been more consistent at times. The fact that this book had me turning each page with glee says something though, and I am looking forward to reading the next one!

Saturday 26 July 2014

I'm back, and my Giveaway has ended!

I've arrived back in England after a lovely week in Llangollen, and I cannot wait to catch you guys up on what I've been doing with my time, as I certainly haven't been blogging. I will try very hard to have a post up tomorrow explaining my antics, but I am doing other things too tomorrow, and it will mean grabbing some pictures off of my camera so the post might take time. I do also wish to catch up with some missed posts because I'm pretty annoyed I missed this week's topics!

However, I do have a little something for you all before I leave this rather short post. My giveaway for Vanessa Morton's 'Moonfall' has now ended and a winner has been picked. That winner was Cait from Notebook Sisters, so well done to her and do check out the blog that she runs with her sister. It's great! I think that is really all I have to say, I'm absolutely knackered but I do have some exciting things to show you guys and I'm in a really happy mood after a wonderful holiday.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Life Of A Blogger: 'Quirks'.

This was a pretty tough topic for me, I have manage to think of a few though!
  • I do not like people touching my belly button. I don't even like touching my own belly button it makes me feel ill, sort of hurts and I shudder at the thought. For that reason, I cannot stand to look or even imagine the idea of a belly button piercing.
  • I get extremely OCD about some really peculiar things, and then lax about others. No one can work out whether I'm going to mind about things being ordered a certain way, or whether I'm going to freak out! Symmetry is usually one I like to keep organised but at the same time, I'm not very tidy. I do like things to match though!
  • I have to mix up dinners on my plate. They are normally served with everything separate and the first thing I do is cut everything up and mix it like a stew, no matter what it is. For this reason, I hate it when restaurants serve foods in separate dishes (vegetables in one pot, gravy in another). Just give me the whole lot on one plate!
  • I cannot stand the taste of water and so I actively avoid it. In fact, I have been known to go thirsty rather than drink it. Unless I'm desperately dehydrated, or unwell, I refuse to have it. This might not really be a quirk but some people have said it's weird.
I have a few odd behaviours but I'm struggling to think of them now!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Book Characters I Would Want On a Desert Island With Me'.

This is such a fun topic I simply couldn't miss out on doing a post for this one! Let's get straight to it.

1) Katniss from 'The Hunger Games' Series; Suzanne Collins.

This one is frankly, a bit of a no brainer. She has survived on her own (and with others) before and knows a fair bit about survival skills, hunting (that bow and arrow of hers will be so useful), fighting danger and avoiding starvation/dehydration. In fact, without the Games Masters interference, I think being on a Deserted Island would be somewhat of a holiday for Katniss!

2) Hermione Granger from the 'Harry Potter' Series; J.K. Rowling.

What? Book loving Hermione? Why on earth am I bringing her along? Well doesn't anyone think that handbag of hers would be super useful. Not only would she bring a ton of essentials needed to survive, she could bring her an entire library along with her! I'll never be short of books and she has some experience of living in the wilderness. I think she'd be a useful part of the team.

3) The Fetch from 'Queen Of The Tearling'; Erika Johansen.

I'm reading this book at the moment (it's taking me a pretty long time) and I love this guy. He's a pretty shadowy character, he seems to be on the side of good but I'm never really sure of his motives, or even of his real identity. Nevertheless, he's very useful in a tight situation, seems to have countless skills and I would say is a definite expert on survival.

4) Karou from the 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' Series; Laini Taylor.

Karou is such a great character! She can do a bit of magic, including knowing how to resurrect people so that is always useful. Also, those teeth of hers to make wishes on could always come in handy. It would be nice of her to teach me how to draw too, I'm a tiny bit hopeless...

5) Four from the 'Divergent' Series; Veronica Roth.

This man can handle himself in a fight. Being a member of Dauntless, he would certainly be brave which is good for the kind of situation we're in. I imagine he would be pretty useful to send off exploring or hunting for food. Not only that, but he's clever too, and would be selfless if needed.

6) Patrick from 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'; Stephen Chbosky.

I'm including this guy purely for entertainment value. I don't actually know how Patrick would fair on a desert island, I wouldn't imagine he would do too well. However, I feel like he would be so hilarious that I really don't mind. He's got a sense of humour I can really relate to and I'm going to need that so I don't go insane.

7) Piggy from 'Lord Of The Flies'; Atticus Finch.

I'm going to do the kind thing and give poor Piggy another chance. He has had experience of a desert island situation before, and he really wasn't listened to the last time. I honestly think that's wrong, he had some great advice and I would definitely listen to his little pearls of wisdom because I wouldn't have a clue!

8) Daine from 'The Immortals' Series; Tamora Pierce.

Daine is not only one of my favourite Tamora Pierce heroines, but she has a few useful magic abilities. She can communicate with and transform into animals! I would say if stranded on a desert island and in need of fresh water, the animals living there would certainly be the ones to ask. Not to mention, she might be able to persuade a few predators not to eat us.

9) Mal from 'The Grisha' Series; Leigh Bardugo.

Of course I was going to include this man, he's an expert tracker. He would be on food finding duty with Katniss and Four I think. He's funny, hard working and a good person too, which would be ultra important to me. It would be pretty useful to have him around and he knows how to handle weapons if needed.

10) Tristan from 'The Malediction' Series; Danielle L. Jensen.

Not only do I find this man hilarious (like Patrick) but he's got a fair few useful qualities. He's used to being trapped in the same place for years, knows when to make the decisions necessary to benefit the greater good and is good a a great many things. I think he would quite like some time away from his Kingdom and his family too, I certainly would if I were him.

Phew, that was so much fun! I can't wait to get round to reading everyone else's answers to this topic!

Monday 21 July 2014

Llangollen Update: Unreliable Internet!

Well guys, the last time you heard from me I was flying high because I had arrived in Llangollen and found that we had Wi-Fi ! Unfortunately that luxury was a little short-lived. A storm took out our power, and when it came back on, the Wi-Fi became very unpredictable. That coupled with the fact I have no 3G and we are out doing things frequently,  I will not be doing a daily post . Instead I will give you run-down of my week when I am back. I'm actually seeing this as a good thing, because it means that I can start doing updates on a weekly basis without feeling too pressured to post everyday.  It is an idea I have been playing with for a while because I feel like my 'Daily Shenanigans' posts are getting a little boring and repetitive for you guys.

All I'll say (because the Wi-Fi could literally stop any second) is that I'm having a great time and enjoying a break. I can't wait to let you guys know what I've been doing and include some pictures!

Friday 18 July 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 18/07/2014: Arriving in Llangollen!

Today turned out to be full of surprises!  First off, I got my post for Oh, The Books! sorted (I thought I had already sent it,  apparently not...) and it should be up at the beginning of October! I'm very excited about it. After that I finished packing and then rushed to Mat's house. We headed off for Wales at about 2 in the afternoon and didn't arrive till gone 8 because the traffic was quite frankly appalling. The weather however was glorious both on the way to and in Wales, we somehow missed the giant thunderstorms that have racked the country recently.  Upon arriving however was the biggest and best surprise of all. There is Wi-Fi! It's very slow and a bit temperamental but it means I'm not abandoning this blog completely over the next week! 

I'm excited to see what tomorrow brings but right now I'm tired and a bit iffy from the car journey!

Thursday 17 July 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 17/07/2014: Going on Holiday for a week! Potential hiatus!

I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm off to Wales for a week or so, and what I actually failed to mention is that this means I won't have access to my Laptop or Wi-Fi. Therefore, the only way I'll be able to post to this blog is via Mobile Data, if I even manage to get that. Here is the plan: I will be reading while I am there. I will keep copious notes of my thoughts and try to write mini reviews on Goodreads. The proper reviews will probably have to wait until I return however. With regards to the various Memes I take part in, I will try to have scheduled posts up but no promises. In fact without knowing of Llangollen's 3G signal, I can't even promise Daily posts. All I can say is I'll do my best! I am really looking forward to this Holiday though, and maybe some time away from the blog will do me some good!

My day generally was a good one, and very productive actually! I managed to do a lot of packing, read a whole book, write my reviews and Life Of A Blogger post, and a whole bunch of other things. I also got hold of the two books I'd bought from Tesco, so I can't wait to find time to get stuck into those! My next read will be 'Queen Of The Tearling', followed by 'Poison Study'. I look forward to starting those. Obviously tomorrow I'm off to Mat's, then to Wales, so in case I end up leaving the Blog alone, I hope you all have a nice week!

Book Review: Dragon's Curse; H.L. Burke.

So this is one book that definitely took me by surprise. In a good way! It only took me a day to read, it was quite short so it's going to be a 'Quick Fix' entry. Honestly though, I can't wait to share my thoughts!

SOURCE: Author Sent Copy
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Dragon's Curse
AUTHOR: H.L. Burke
SERIES: The Dragon And The Scholar (#1)
PUBLISHER: CreateSpace
PAGES: 165
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. 

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?

What I Liked:
  • Let's start with the plot, which completely blew me away. The blurb sounded intriguing to me from the beginning, but I don't think I ever expected to get so hooked on this book! I honestly cannot believe how much I enjoyed it, and how desperate I am to read the next one! I was completely engrossed from beginning to end. There were a fair few twists and turns that kept me on my toes too.
  • The characters were really well-written and there were some wonderful relationships in there. The obvious being Shannon and Gnaw, the Dragon that she befriends. I really rooted for those two as a duo, and I think their interactions were my favourite. They had some pretty funny conversations as well! I liked the side characters too, they were very likeable.
What I Disliked:
  • I guess my main issue with this book was that it was so short. Burke did a wonderful job at writing a really good story in this short page-count, but I would have liked to seen more. I liked Shannon as a heroine but I wanted to get to know her a bit better. Similarly, the romance in the book could have done with developing a little more slowly I suppose.
Overall Conclusion:
They say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, and the cover for this book didn't blow me away. The story inside however absolutely did, proving that phrase to be totally true. The characters and plot were just fantastic, Burke wrote really well and I found the story both easy to follow and gripping to read. I would have liked to have seen a teeny bit more detail! If this book had been just a little more padded out, I would liked it more. I really want to read the next one though!

Life Of A Blogger: 'Tattoos'.

Well this is probably going to be a pretty short post because the fact of the matter is, I don't have any! I have sometimes felt myself wanting one, but to be honest, I don't deal well with pain (or change). It's probably best that I steer clear! I do think they look lovely on other people though and a lot of the time, I like what they represent. My favourite kinds of tattoos are the ones that actually mean something to the person, rather than the ones that are just there for the sake of having a tattoo. I prefer simple, shaded tattoos rather than the elaborately coloured ones but I think it really depends on the person. I still haven't completely ruled out getting one for myself yet! If I did, I would want something subtle and small. Maybe story-themed, seeing as I love reading so much!

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 16/07/2014: Out and about!

Today actually turned out to be pretty busy for me. Mat came round pretty early this morning and we set about packing away our duplicate consoles, games, etc. to take into town and trade in. We actually ended up selling them for a pretty decent price which I was happy about! It was only after that that we realised just how much we had to do. We quickly drove to Mat's house to grab his Mini SD Card-Reader (my Mini SD Card is pretty knackered, which made me really sad) and a battery pack for one of the controllers (the one we gave in also turned out to be faulty). Then we drove to his friend George's house to sell a game, followed by another lady to sell another game, then back to town to hand in the aforementioned battery pack. After that, we went to the Designer Outlet to grab some lunch and do a spot of shopping for Hiking Boots in preparation for Wales, and something nice for Mat's Mum (it's her birthday tomorrow)!

After finishing all that, we could finally come home and relax. I continued reading while Mat played Devil May Cry on my PS3, and we both recovered from our pretty busy day. Tomorrow I have some bits and bobs to do (mostly packing), but I'll be posting my Life Of A Blogger post, reading 'Dragon's Curse' and doing a few blog bits and bobs too. For now though, sleep time.

Book Review: The Silent History; Eli Horowitz.

I feel like dancing for joy! I'm finally through this book, hooray! It took me, in my opinion, a pretty long time to read and I can't wait to share my thoughts. No challenges for this one, just the review!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Silent History
AUTHOR: Eli Horowitz
PAGES: 528
GENRE: Mystery, Science Fiction, Dystopian

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Sometime right around now, doctors, nurses and-most of all-parents begin to notice an epidemic spreading among newborn children, children who are physically normal in every way except that they do not speak and do not respond to speech. They don't learn to read, don't learn to write. Theories abound-maybe a popular antidepressant is the cause. Maybe these children, lacking the ability to use or comprehend language, have special skills of their own.

What I Liked:
  • The plot concept. When I first heard read the synopsis, I thought that it had a really original and intriguing idea behind it that I was desperate to explore. The structure itself was clever, in a way it was similar to 'The Three' by Sarah Lotz as it comprised of a series of accounts told by various people involved in the incident. I felt it did a better job, in that there was more of a plot-line to follow, I became a little more emotionally invested in the going-ons and I understood it a little better.
  • Horowitz writes very well! This book definitely has a message hidden in there about what it truly is to be human. There were some lovely quotes, and the way she phrased things writing from the POV of each character really drew me into their mindset, beliefs and understanding of the Silents and their condition. Also, her objective stance that didn't label any characters as good or bad was pretty impressive, I empathized with them all in a way.
What I Disliked:
  • Despite a better semblance of a plot-line, I still didn't find myself completely hooked by what was going on. It took me a long time to read this one and that's normally a sign that I became easily distracted and not completely gripped by the story. It felt like long book and certainly in the beginning I was a little frustrated by the frequent viewpoint change. The ending didn't really provide any kind of conclusion either. There was a pretty big dramatic plot twist, but it didn't really go anywhere that felt final. It just sort of finished. After a very slow build-up, I wanted more from the book's conclusion.
Overall Conclusion:
There are a lot of really great things about this read. A great plot idea, which actually did tell a story and drew me into it's world. Horowitz is very talented and I would like to read more in the future from him. I loved the message that the book had to. I wasn't so keen on the amount of time it took me to fully get into the book, or how long it took me to read. I wish as well that the ending had revealed a little more about what the fate of each character was, and had generally been a little less vague.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 15/07/2014: Secret Unlimited Screening!

I've had quite a day today, starting off with a lovely lay-in because I was absolutely shattered after yesterday! When I finally got up about mid-morning, I got straight on with writing my Top Ten Tuesday post and browsing the others on my Bloglovin' feed. I feel like I've been neglecting commenting on other people's blogs recently, so have tried to do a bit of catching up. I've also been pretty busy job hunting, sorting out the consoles that Mat and I are going to sell tomorrow, and doing a bit of reading. I really need to get back into that, especially as I now don't have a work shift for a good week and a half!

The main highlight of the day however came when Mat and I went to the Unlimited Screening. We didn't know, until tonight, what the film would actually be. A few clues had been let slip on Twitter, but nothing definitive. When I found out it was 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' I had a pretty mixed reaction. First there was the fact that I hadn't seen it's predecessor, so I was a little annoyed that they had decided to show a sequel for that reason. Secondly, the website advertised the secret screening as being shown 'well ahead of it's release date'. Is two days before it's released 'well ahead'? I think not. 

Nevertheless, despite feeling a bit negative to begin with, the film itself was phenomenal! I didn't need to have seen 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' to understand it (though there were references) and I thought the animation was just fantastic. I really got into it a lot and regretted my initial annoyance, though I do still feel a little cheated. Anyone who was wondering whether it would be worth a watch, it is. For the CGI alone! The expressions on the apes were beautifully rendered, managing to look both human and convey emotion, while most definitely ape-like. I really bought into the story and the acting, and I loved the soundtrack.

Tomorrow I have to run a couple of errands and I'm seeing Mat for most of the day. I should get some reading done though and I really hope to finish 'The Silent History' and get onto 'Dragon's Curse'.

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Favourite Movies'.

This is an interesting topic! Favourite movies or TV shows? I've gone for movies because I don't actually watch a huge amount of TV shows, but I watch too many films I think.

1) Moulin Rouge.

This film always has been, and always will be, a favourite of mine. I first watched it when I was pretty young and I absolutely fell in love with the style of it, AKA, Baz Luhrmann's amazing eye  for making films beautiful. It was fast paced, the song adaptions were catchy and well put together and the story makes me cry every time. Every time I watch this film I notice something that I didn't notice before and I think it is a film that everyone should try and watch, if they can.

2) Disney Films.

These films have been with me since childhood and I have loved them all. Obviously, there are some I liked over others, but in general I don't think there has been a Disney film that I haven't enjoyed if I have watched it. Choosing a favourite was extremely hard. In the end I went with 'Aristocats' because it was the first one I remember watching that I have watched over and over again without losing any kind of love for it. It was literally on repeat throughout my childhood and I don't see that adoration for it ending any time soon. Other favourites include 'Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs', 'Mulan', 'Robin Hood', 'The Jungle Book', 'The Lion King' and their latest installment, 'Frozen'. I know this shouldn't really count but I'm a huge Pixar fan too. 'Monsters Inc' and 'Brave'are fantastic films and of course I can't not mention 'The Incredibles'!

3) Studio Ghibli Films.

I hope this generalization isn't cheating, but I love all these films. I have chosen a favourite (after a lot of deliberation) and came to 'Howl's Moving Castle'. I've always loved the story-line and the character in that one. Calcifer was hilarious and Howl and Sophie are a pair that I will ship until the day I die. I have a couple of close seconds too. 'Princess Mononoke' was the first Studio Ghibli film I ever watched and I actually found it quite scary, but loved it! Then of course there's 'Spirited Away' and 'My Neighbour Totoro' which I think that most people who love this animation studio will agree are classics. One other that I didn't mention yet was 'Grave Of The Fireflies'. It's not a hugely well known one but it is a beautiful, touching film.

4) Marvel Films.

That's right guys, I'm generalizing again! Marvel films have made up the last few years of my life. They are the ones I look forward to being released and I always come out of them feeling excited, desperate to watch the next one and extremely happy. My favourite is 'The Avengers' purely because it takes all of the superheroes that I know and love (along with my favourite Villain) and brings them all together in one film! Of course if I were to take individual superheroes, the 'Iron Man' series has been the most consistently amazing for me, and I have loved the 'Thor' story-line too. 'Iron Man 3', 'Thor: The Dark World' and 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' are my top three outside of 'The Avengers' which only goes to show that in my opinion, the films are just getting better and better.

5) Pan's Labyrinth.

Ah, Guillermo Del Toro. He is one of my favourite Directors of all time, and this is definitely my favourite film of his that I have watched. Despite it being in Spanish (a language I speak very little of), I have watched this film too many times to count, and loved it! The fantastical creatures, imaginative story-line, just the pure amount of creativity that went into it was phenomenal. It makes me cry every time I read it and so of course it had to make this list! Del Toro's more recent film, 'Mama', I also really enjoyed (though if you're easily frightened then don't watch it). I can't wait for 'Crimson Peak' to come out!

6) Harry Potter Films.

Of course these had to appear on here. After reading the books, watching the films when I was younger was probably the thing I'd look forward to most! I loved them all though my favourite book (and film) has always been 'The Order Of The Phoenix'. I think it's because that is the film when everyone starts banding together, you really get the sense that a war is going on and of course the woman we all love to hate, Professor Umbridge makes her first appearance! Imelda Staunton does a fantastic job of bringing her to life. 

7) Matilda.

'Matilda' was my favourite childhood story, and when we watched the first ten minutes of the film once in class, I knew I had to watch the rest of it. This film makes me laugh so much, and when I'm not laughing I'm crying at some of the sadder parts. Above that though is Pam Ferris' portrayal of Agatha Trunchbull. This woman takes scary to a whole new extreme. Every single time I watch her in her house, trying to find Matilda and Miss Honey as they desperately hide and look for a way out, I find myself covering my face with a cushion absolutely terrified. If you haven't seen it, watch this film just to see Trunchbull played how she should be played!

8) The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Okay so this film is a pretty old favourite of mine. It was my first ever Tim Burton film and I completely fell in love with it! I liked the songs, the story, the stop-motion animation style. Since then I've watched a fair few of Tim Burton's films, and while there is a pretty recognisable formula with both  his animated and his live-action movies, I've never really found myself disappointed. I like his dark, quirky, Gothic style and I always look forward to the next one. 'Sweeney Todd' and 'The Corpse Bride' are another couple of my favourites. Also, he's going to direct an adaption of 'Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children' and I'm so excited!

9) Anastasia.

Yes, yet another animated film has made it to the list! And yes, it is another childhood favourite. I didn't know my choices were so...themed. This film is extremely sad, at times scary, at times funny and beautifully animated. A lot of people mistake it for a Disney film, or maybe Dreamworks. It isn't, but it is easy to see why it has been attributed to those great animators. Because it is also great! FOX did this one and I have watched it a lot. I actually like it better than some Disney Films, the soundtrack is beautiful. I'm a sucker for a great film soundtrack.

10) Chicago.

This musical film was just a fantastic adaption of a very awesome stage musical. I loved the style choices made by Rob Marshall, the Director. It made me laugh so much at times, the musical numbers were elaborate and amazingly done and I loved the costumes too. I've watched it a fair few times and it has never become boring for me. I was pleased when he worked on another Musical adaption, 'Nine' and he went for a very similar style. I was even more pleased when I found out that his next project was 'Into The Woods', yet another Musical I love!