Sunday 31 August 2014

August Wrap-Up Post.

Oh my goodness, where on Earth did August go? There's quite a lot to cover in this post, though I didn't get nearly as much reading done as I had hoped! I managed to read all 3 of my intended challenge reads, and the same for my Netgalley reads too! My sacrifice was that I didn't get to read a single one of the six I had picked out as extra.

Physical Books:

  1. 'Life Of Pi'; Yann Martel. This ended up being a crossover book that I started in July and it took me a while to get through. I did enjoy it in the end, the story was well-written and detailed. I just felt a little disconnected. 4/5 stars.
  2. 'Cinder'; Marissa Meyer. I have been waiting to read this book for so long and I absolutely loved it! Everyone told me I would and it lived up to the hype. Fantastic world-building, characters and plot! 5/5 stars.
  3. 'Rivers Of London'; Ben Aaronovitch. I got this one as a present from my lovely sister, and again, she didn't let me down. A really richly imagined world that was well-researched and I liked a lot about this book. I felt a few sub-plots were unnecessary though. 3.5/5 stars.
Kindle Reads:

  1. 'Smiler's Fair'; Rebecca Levene. This Fantasy book was very well-constructed and lived up to my high expectations. The characters were pretty likeable, and surprising in many different ways (which I liked). The world that Levene built was fantastic too! 4/5 stars.
  2. 'Doll Bones'; Holly Black. It isn't any great secret I'm a Holly Black fan and this book was no exception. I got a completely different reading experience to what I expected. Instead of a chilling ghost story, I got a gorgeous coming of age tale! I did like the change, but I would have liked a bigger supernatural kick to the story. 4/5 stars.
  3. 'A Discovery Of Witches'; Deborah Harkness. Another book that took me ages to read, partly because it was a slow-starter with a frustrating main character. Things improved with time however, and the world-building was phenomenal! 3/5 stars.
  4. 'If You Find Me'; Emily Murdoch. My most recent read which had me hooked from beginning to end. Great characters and beautiful writing from Murdoch. If you like quotable, this book is for you! 4.5/5 stars.
7 books in all this month too (just like last month). I'm trying so hard to speed up but I had a few lapses this month. Let's see how well my Bookish Bingo card is doing...

A Stand-Alone: The Silent History, Eli Horowitz.
Sky On Cover: Dragon's Curse, H.L. Burke.
Pink Cover: Divergent, Veronica Roth.
Starts With S, U, M, E or R: Smiler's Fair, Rebecca Levene.
Set On A Boat: Life Of Pi, Yann Martel.
Middle Grade Novel: Doll Bones, Holly Black.
A Retelling: Cinder, Marissa Meyer.
Freebie: Poison Study, Maria V. Snyder.
Blue Cover: If You Find Me, Emily Murdoch.
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.
Magical Realism: A Discovery Of Witches, Deborah Harkness.
Set In Europe: Rivers Of London, Ben Aaronovitch.

Book Review: If You Find Me; Emily Murdoch.

So the amount of time it took me to read this was significantly shorter than my last read! Thank goodness too, I thought I would fail one of my challenges! It was a much shorter read so I'll be entering it as a 'Quick Fix', as well as into the 'Key Words' challenge.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: If You Find Me
AUTHOR: Emily Murdoch
PAGES: 257
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey's younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the "normal" life of school, clothes and boys. 

Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won't let her go ... a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn't spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

What I Liked:

  • I'll begin with Murdoch's writing style, which was absolutely stunning. There are some gorgeous and inspiring quotes in this book, and Murdoch really does a great job with a very emotional tale. There are many sensitive subjects found in this book and she handles them with care, yet isn't afraid to shy away from them. This results in a beautiful tale that really wrenches the heart, and I was hooked from page one.
  • The characters in this book are great! They are very complex and likeable, and it is easy to see what motivates each and every one of them. I liked the sisters, they had a lovely bond that read very well. I liked that there was more to Delaney than a sulky, spoilt teenager. Murdoch really got inside the heads of her characters, and for that I commend her. Complex characters are the best kind!
What I Disliked:
  • I really think this book would have made five stars, if it weren't for the fact that I wanted to see a bit more in some areas. I felt like Carey adapted to school quite quickly for example, and would have loved to have seen her meet more characters, as well as read a bit more interaction with some of the people she meets. Pixie and Ryan were great characters, and really likeable, but I didn't see nearly enough of them.
Overall Conclusion:
This book was simply gorgeous. The writing was undeniably beautiful, quotable and at times very poetic. I would love to read more of Murdoch's work! The issues of abuse, mental health and drugs were handled very well and with great care on Murdoch's part. The characters were fantastic as well! I wish that the book had been longer so I could have read more from some of them, as there wasn't enough padding in some areas. A beautiful read though, and just what I needed!

Saturday 30 August 2014

Book Review: 'A Discovery Of Witches'; Deborah Harkness.

Goodness me, I had a bit of a lapse while reading this one! It took me a while because I've been pretty ill while reading it, but I finally got to make some decent progress towards the end of the week and it's done. I feel very mixed about this book!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: A Discovery Of Witches
AUTHOR: Deborah Harkness
SERIES: All Souls Trilogy (#1)
PAGES: 581
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Magical Realism, Adult

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

What I Liked:
  • The world building in this novel is immense. Harkness has put a lot of time and effort into creating a world where humans and magical creatures co-exist. She combines an extremely deep and knowledge-filled historical context, with an inventive use of the modern world. It felt complex and I really loved learning about it (and there is a lot to learn).
  • I did also really love the romantic element to this book too. 'Twilight' was my last Vampiric love-story and it pretty much put me off of them. That is, until I read this. The romance builds well and you actually feel like they're falling in love at a fairly reasonable rate. Our vampiric male, Matthew, is clingy and a little over-protective but Harkness explains why that is (rather than just making him sound creepy) and Diana learns to put him in his place rather than let herself be walked all over. Their relationship is complicated, and frustrating at times but I really rooted for them and it was lovely to read.
What I Disliked:
  • My main issue with this book was that it just felt like it took a little too much time to get to the point. It was a slow-starter, and while I warmed to it as time went on, I felt like there was a lot of info-dumping and unnecessary sub-plots to trawl through to get to the crux of the issue. It helped to build up the world and the situation, but this is not a quick read. 
  • The plot felt chaotic at times too, as if too much was going on at once and some key issues felt a little confusing and not very well thought-out. For example, if Diana really refused to have magic in her life then she would not have used it just to fix a washing machine. And how is it that our couple can 'timewalk' back to a point and essentially replace themselves (they made sure to do the same things they did before), and yet they are worried about running into past selves when they decide to go even further back. Please tell me if I have missed something here, but these were the impressions I got when reading.
  • I really disliked Diana to begin with. I suppose I liked her more as I delved further into the book, but it meant that the first part of the book dragged for me because I just didn't empathise with her at all. I found her pretty rude and irritating to be honest. I wish she had been likeable from the beginning, I would probably have got through the book a lot quicker.
Overall Conclusion:
So as you can see, I had some really mixed feelings about this book. At times I was totally hooked, at others it almost became an abandoned book. Yet despite it's flaws, I would be really intrigued to read the next one! Maybe not right away, but I would love to finally get to see where this book is going because at the moment so much is going on that I have no real idea what the true 'quest' actually is. There were some gorgeous parts to this book though and Harkness writes pretty well. If you like strong world-building then this book is definitely for you!

Thursday 28 August 2014

Life Of A Blogger: 'Fears'.

Okay this is a really interesting topic, I can't wait to read everyone else's responses to this! As for me, I have a few different phobias. A couple of them are pretty standard, and then I have a few really bizarre ones too!

Firstly, spiders. I just hate these so much and even typing the name has sent me scanning the ceiling for them. When looking for pictures, I had to use clip art silhouettes because I was too scared to put an actual photo. Big or small, you can guarantee I'll be terrified, potentially screaming, and probably won't move until it is removed from my presence. I definitely can't sleep knowing there is one about. The thing is, I don't really like to have them killed either because I know it isn't the little critter's fault that it petrifies me. Luckily, my adorable boyfriend Mat is very good at safely taking spiders outside so I don't have to be near it, but don't have to kill it either! I have a very similar problem with Wasps and Bees too because I know they could hurt me.

Next would have to be answering the phone or making phone calls. Most people don't really like to do this, my Dad doesn't at all. But then, most people just suck it up and do it anyway. I'm definitely getting a lot better at this, but when I first started having to do this often, I would cry, panic and shake, and try my level best to get out of it if I could. The thing is, once I'm actually on the phone, I'm mostly okay! It's just getting me to pick it up that's the problem. It's a fear I intend to completely eradicate though, as I'm going to have to do it a lot in my life. I'd say this phobia has probably affected my day to day life the most of them all.

My next fear is probably my strangest and yet maybe not so surprising. I have a very definite fear of water. Now this isn't me saying I'm refusing to get in a bath or have a shower because I can't bear it, though those things (particularly showers) make me feel a little uncomfortable. I just can't bear to be splashed or go near the water if I can help it. I can't swim either because no one has ever been able to teach me. I am just so afraid of drowning, asphyxiation to me sounds truly terrible. I know it's meant to be a very peaceful way to die but the idea very much frightens me so don't try to convince me otherwise! I was recently nominated to do the Ice Bucket challenge, and I was absolutely terrified. I did do it and it felt like a really big thing to me, while for others it was a breeze.

Those are probably my three main fears though I'm a pretty anxious person generally. I don't deal with change well (this whole moving up to London business has been very stressful for me) and I also recently discovered that large crowds of people around me can really bring on terrible panic attacks. I'm also pretty frightened of Alzheimer disease. My Gran had it and just the very thought of slowly losing all my memories until everything is gone terrifies me. Horrible!

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I Want To Read But Don't Own Yet'.

Okay so this is a similar topic to last week I suppose, but rather than being the books that people want me to read, it's the books I am going to read I just literally need to take the last step and actually purchase them.

1) 'The Night Circus'; Erin Morgenstern.

I saw this book in Waterstones a while back and absolutely fell in love with the cover and synopsis. It sounds completely up my street! Since then I have gone to order it a fair number of times, yet something always seems to get in my way! I will order and read this book, mark my words. I just need to get round to acquiring it and I'll be well away!

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

This book first came to my attention when I joined the Blogosphere. It looked so creepy, with a really unique and exciting plot-line. I had to have it. And yet, I didn't. What can I say? I'm such a procrastinator it's unreal and unfortunately, book buying comes into that too. I have already decided this book is a must-read so it's just a case of when...

3) 'The Madman's Daughter'; Megan Shepherd.

Another one that looks quite creepy but a really good series. I've seen it in multiple places: Goodreads, people's blogs, Amazon. The world is trying to get me to buy this book and I really want to. I just haven't got round to it yet! 

4) 'Throne Of Glass'; Sarah J. Maas.

Okay so this series is everywhere, and I understand that the latest addition to the series was out pretty recently. I haven't even read the first one yet. Not because I don't want to, but because I haven't actually got it to read! When I have bought it (and I will) I can't wait to get into this set of books!

5) 'Graceling'; Kristin Cashore.

I saw this book on my Amazon recommendations ages ago, after reading a Trudi Canavan book. My friend recommended it to me too, yet it would seem that seven years later it still has yet to reach my possession. Seriously, writing this book down made me realise that I really do have some kind of problem. I guess other books just got in the way, but I really hope to buy and read it soon!

6) 'The Giver'; Lois Lowry.

I've only seen this book recently and the cover really caught my eye. I'm hearing that it's a Modern Classic,which intrigues me. But a classic Dystopian? Even more interesting! I really can't wait to get my hands on this book and give it a go, I really hope it's as good as I'm told!

7) 'The Knife Of Never Letting Go'; Patrick Ness.

Ahh Patrick Ness. An author I see everywhere and have completely fallen in love with, without reading a single one of his books! They all just look so good I really struggled to decide on my first pick. Having chosen this one I still have yet to actually buy it. Oops!

8) 'Catching Fire'; Suzanne Collins.

So I finally got round to reading 'The Hunger Games' a few months back. I really did enjoy it too and thought 'Wow, I can't wait to buy and read the next on!' And then...I didn't.  I mean,  haven't yet, because I plan to continue the series. It would be quite cool to get ahead of the films on this one!

9) 'Prisoner Of Night & Fog'; Anne Blankman.

I see this book everywhere!  Why haven't I bought it yet? I have no idea! I don't think at this point people should even forgive me for my laziness and I completely understand that I'm a terrible person. I want to read this one, and soon.

10) 'Magic Study'; Maria V. Snyder.

The first in the series, 'Poison Study' was a recent read and I adored it. I obviously have a huge need to read the next one and find out what happens to all my favourite characters, but I haven't bought it yet! I wish I had enough time and money to afford all of these books right  now and read them all without worrying about anything else. Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday 25 August 2014

Last Week's Shenanigans: Catching a cold!

I was pretty productive, certainly for the first part, of this week! Unfortunately about halfway through I caught a horrendous cold which scuppered a lot of things. Still, all in all, not a bad week.

Monday 18th: Not a huge amount really happened today. I continued reading Ben Aaronovitch's 'Rivers Of London' and it was at this point that I really began to get into it. I read a lot on the train to and from Canterbury, as I had work today! Work was pretty interesting to begin with because I wrote down the wrong shift time so ended up being late. Oops! Still, it ended up being a pretty average day in the end with not a lot else going on.

Tuesday 19th: I had a very busy day (contrasting to the less interesting happenings of the day before) today. In the morning I wrote my Top Ten Tuesday post (I adore taking part in this meme every week, so much fun!) but spent the rest of the morning smartening up for my trip to London. I made my way to Charing Cross, and then Tottenham Court Road, to have a meeting with the Clarks Store Manager there. It was more of an informal chat really, and we agreed to a full-time contract with Mondays and Sundays off. It was such a weight off my mind to finally have my transfer sorted, I'm so glad! I also saw Mat in the evening and got to spend a little time with him. I did also complete 'Rivers Of London', as I had a lot of reading time on the train!

Wednesday 20th: Back to work again today! As it's the Back To School period, Clarks is ultra busy meaning that my shifts are going to increase. A lot. I found out that my references regarding the new Flat have all been received and so it's looking more and more real that I'll be moving to London incredibly soon. Eek! After my not as exciting shift at work, I went to stay at Mat's in the evening as I needed him to drop me off at work the next day. When I got to his he made me a cup of tea and I typed up a post ready for the next day. I made a very small start on 'Doll Bones' by Holly Black, my next read! Unfortunately it was here that I started feeling rough and poor Mat ended up not getting a lot of sleep and looking after me instead!

Thursday 21st: Having slept a total of two or so hours the night before, it stands to reason I woke up feeling pretty terrible. Nevertheless, I soldiered on and went into work feeling fairly dreadful. Luckily when I got there, I wasn't put on the Kids Department (it can get pretty hectic and my head was pounding) and in the end they let me go half an hour early because my health decreased as the day went on. Mum picked me up from the station and I spent the rest of my day trying (and failing) to catch up on sleep and finishing 'Doll Bones'.

Friday 22nd: Unfortunately I felt no better today. In fact, I felt a lot worse. Again, I hadn't slept all through the night so I literally spent the entire day feeling sorry for myself. Luckily I didn't have work that day so I could relax. At my perkier moments (i.e. when the medicine kicked in) I played cards and Monopoly with my sister and her friend, but I spent most of the time napping in my room and not doing a lot else. It completely ruined my reading schedule as I was far too ill to concentrate on a book.

Saturday 23rd: Now I was meant to be in work on Saturday, but I still felt pretty rough so I ended up calling in sick. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I never do that so I really felt pretty bad. Unfortunately, I still didn't get any reading done today! Mat came over in the evening for an hour or so to check up on me and we watched the new Doctor Who episode. My highlight of the day was probably watching Markiplier's Charity Livestream on Twitch (he's a gaming Youtuber for those who are interested). He raised a lot of money for the ALS Foundation with his friends Bob and Wade and I even got a retweet! It sent my Twitter mad and broke the internet for a bit, but it was totally worth it!

Sunday 24th: Today I felt so much better. I could have leapt for joy that I was finally feeling healthy again, and on a day off too so it meant I could fully recover! In terms of being productive, I truthfully wasn't all that much and probably should have read more than I ended up doing (I am so behind with this book and it is rather long). I vow to be better from now on! Instead, I watched Divergent with my Dad, borrowed from my sister. We both actually really enjoyed it and I would be interested to see where they go from there! 

Saturday 23 August 2014

Book Review: Doll Bones; Holly Black.

My apologies for a fairly late reviewing of this book, I'm currently very ill and it's completely knocked the energy and enthusiasm to do anything out of me. I'm feeling slightly perkier right now so am making the most of this short reprieve and reviewing my latest read, 'Doll Bones' by Holly Black. It was short, less than 300 pages, so it's going in the Quick Fix Challenge entries. I am also going to enter it as a Paranormal book for the Jumble Your Genres challenge.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Doll Bones
AUTHOR: Holly Black
PUBLISHER: Random House Children's Publishers
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Paranormal, Adventure, Middle Grade

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys. Or at least, that's what his father thinks.

But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it's no good. There's one toy that still wants to play with him. A doll that's made from the bones of a dead girl.

The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It's time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery. It's time to grow up.

What I Liked:
  • I got more than I bargained for in terms of character development with this one. Before reading, I honestly thought the main focus here would be the Doll itself, and the adventure/mystery surrounding it. Instead I gained a huge insight into the lives of the three children this book centres on (particularly Zach) and this book served more as a coming-of-age tale. I really liked how much it surprised me on that level. I loved the large focus on friendship and family, it made it surprisingly deep.
  • The quest they go on felt realistic, and I loved it's simplicity. It made for an enjoyable plot-line that I could follow easily and read smiling the whole way through. Black wrote really well too, it was easy to understand what was going on and the plot flowed nicely.
What I Disliked:
  • The fact that there wasn't much of a ghost story (which I was expecting) did have it's downfalls. I never really found myself scared, or even a little creeped out. We do get some back-story, but we don't ever get a large amount of spooky moments, nor did I ever feel like the ghost was very dangerous. It was hinted at throughout the book that the doll was supposed to be evil in some way, but she came off as nothing more than an impatient nuisance to me. 
Overall Conclusion:
There is a lot more to this book than you would expect. Or rather, I found it was a different kind of story to what I thought I would read. Instead of a chilling ghost story involving evil dolls performing terrible deeds and frightening children, I found a slightly haunted doll being pretty bothersome and rather ungrateful at times in my opinion. Nonetheless, the story of the children themselves took it to a whole new level and I really enjoyed this read!

Thursday 21 August 2014

Life Of A Blogger: 'Significant Other'.

This week's topic is actually a Freebie, meaning I can write about whatever I like! I had a look through some of the previous topics that I missed and this one instantly caught my eye. I talk about Mat so often in my posts, but I've never actually dedicated a post to him. Why not?

So my boyfriend's name is Mat, or Matthew as he was christened. He's always preferred shortening it and having only one 'T', and now two 'T's seems strange to me, even though it isn't really. He's actually a couple of years younger than me, and has only just finished his first year at Uni! If you asked anyone that knows us though, they would say he is definitely the more mature of the two of us. 

We first started going out way back in 2009, on December 14th! Mat's birthday is actually the next day so obviously I was the best birthday present he ever had. At least, that's what I keep telling myself! As a couple, we like to mostly spend time together just relaxing, generally playing on Game consoles or watching TV. Our favourite place to go out is the Cinema, as we're both pretty big fans of watching films! We also like to eat out from time to time.

Over the years we've had a lot of good memories, one of my favourite being our Weekend away in London for my birthday! We went to the Zoo, the Aquarium and to see Lion King and it was definitely a nice mini-break I won't forget. We went away to Corfu together last year which was a lot of fun (and incidentally, where the above picture was taken).

The last 4 and a half years has whirled by so quickly, and I'm certainly looking forward to many more happy years ahead!

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Book Review: Rivers Of London; Ben Aaronovitch.

My reading speed is definitely increasing since I decided to take part in that Readathon! I've already finished this book! This was probably helped by the fact that I took a trip to London on the slow train, meaning I had approaching 3 hours of reading time while travelling, but I've absolutely devoured this book and can't wait to share my thoughts. I am entering it for the 'Jumble Your Genres' challenge (this month is Paranormal).

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Rivers Of London
AUTHOR: Ben Aaronovitch
SERIES: Peter Grant (#1)
PAGES: 392
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - We do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.

Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I'm dealing with nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden - and that's just routine. There's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying. Which, I don't mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork.

What I Liked:
  • You all know I love it when an Author knows his stuff, and this Aaronovitch seems to know London like the back of his hand! Having been there quite a lot myself, it was fantastic to read about it in such great detail and actually recognise the places that are described. In fact, I read a good portion of this book on the train to and from London yesterday, and it certainly made the trip more interesting! There's a lot of research, world-building and hard work gone into this novel and I am one grateful reader.There's huge potential in this Paranormal world! I loved being introduced to all the ghosts, vampires and spirits that only inhabit a small portion of London and am eager to read more! 
  • Peter Grant is a fantastic main character. He has such a sense of humour and I loved reading from his point of view and listening to his humorous opinions on the world around him. He takes the mick out of Britain and it's policing system a lot too, and being a British Citizen I think it made me appreciate the humour a lot more. If you like a funny main character, try this book out! A lot of the side characters he surrounds himself with are great too! I loved Beverley Brook and the whole River Spirit clan, Nightingale was cool too and Molly was definitely intriguing.
What I Disliked:
  • The organisation of the plot, at times, felt a bit chaotic. A crime of a supernatural kind has been committed and Grant spends a fair bit of the book trying to sort it out. At the same time, he's settling disputes, heading off on seemingly unimportant side missions, learning magic, trying to seduce a woman or two and also trying to research the exact properties and effects of his new-found powers. Most of the time, this was fine but at times I got a bit confused and felt like I'd been thrown in at the deep end.
Overall Conclusion:
I really did enjoy this book. There was so much to it! Great characters, intriguing plot concept and phenomenal world-building put me in a good mood. The sense of humour put me in an even better mood. At times it felt like a little too much had been crammed into this one and things go in the way of each other every so often. As well, despite the mostly awesome side characters, I really hope I wasn't supposed to like Lesley because I didn't. She was so irritating! Still, I look forward to the next in the series, this was a very promising start.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books People Constantly Say I MUST Read'.

I actually get this so often from a variety of different sources that I have lost count of how many books I've been told I must read. I've listed the ten that pretty instantly came to mind but I have no doubt that I'll remember a ton more when I read other people's lists!

1) 'Going Bovine'; Libba Bray. 

Now generally I'm told that Libba Bray is a must read, whichever of her books. But I chose this one in particular because every time one of my book-loving friends enters my house and sees it on my bookshelf they gush about it. Then, upon realising I haven't yet read it, they proceed to tell me what a terrible person I am for having put it off for so long! When I first got this book I gave it a go and just couldn't get beyond the first couple of chapters. I'm told so often how amazing it is that I feel I ought to give it another go! The only Libba Bray book I have read is 'A Great And Terrible Beauty', and I did quite enjoy that one too (I really ought to get round to the rest of that series).

2) 'Shiver'; Maggie Stiefvater.

I was told to read this a long time ago, even went so far as to borrow it. But then I never got as far as reading it and had to give it back. I promised myself I'd read it another time and never did. Since then, I've joined the Blogging community and seen Maggie Stiefvater everywhere, alongside mass recommendations for all of her books. This series (and indeed, this author) has evaded me for far too long and so I've decided enough is enough. I bought 'Shiver' in Wales a month or so ago, now I just have to get round to reading it!

3) 'The Iron King'; Julie Kagawa.

I actually saw this series in a shop before it was recommended to me, but the covers didn't grab my attention enough to pursue. After glimpsing in on the store's shelf however, I started seeing it all over the Blogosphere! As well as that, I really enjoyed Holly Black's 'Tithe' and apparently the book's world is in a similar vein. I don't get to read many books on the Fae so I think this would be a nice read. It's waiting on my Kindle, I just have to make that final step and pick it up to read it!

4) 'Dreams Of Gods & Monsters'; Laini Taylor.

So the moment I wrote this title I ran for the nearest piece of furniture and hid behind it. Is it safe to come out yet? I adored 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone', and enjoyed 'Dreams Of Gods & Monsters' even more! Everyone I know who has read this series, has told me I'm pretty much missing out on the biggest treat of my life by putting this one off. Why am I putting it off? I guess I just don't want this book series to end. I think I have a phobia of Series Finales. I need to face this ridiculous fear though frankly, because it looks so good.

5) 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry'; Rachel Joyce.

Now this is slightly different because at first it was Goodreads constantly telling me that I must read it. then Amazon joined in with the constant recommendations and I have to say I was pretty intrigued! I saw it reviewed on a few blogs and it came highly recommended, sounding completely like my cup of tea. When I went to Waterstones not too long ago, I actually bought it. Since then, my sister has read it and I haven't, and she is also telling me I have to read it. Bev doesn't normally go wrong with her book recommendations to me, therefore I think I ought to take her advice.

6) 'Fangirl'; Rainbow Rowell.

Much like Libba Bray, I'm actually covering all Rainbow Rowell books here. 'Fangirl' is probably the one I hear most about though, I think I might be one of the only bloggers that hasn't read it currently. I hear so much about Rainbow Rowell as an author, but the one thing that's holding me back is that her books aren't usually the sort of thing I would go for. I have no doubt she's probably an amazing author, I'm just worried that my own tastes will get in the way of my reading experience. Still, her books have been recommended to me too many times to ignore.

7) 'A Clash Of Kings'; George R.R. Martin.

Reading this topic title took me right back to when I had a couple of friends over recently. We got onto the massive topic of 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' and I told them that I was well into the Game Of Thrones TV Series and had started the books. When I revealed that I had so far only read the very first of the series, their exact words were in fact 'You must read the rest'. Many a blogger has also told me that 'A Clash Of Kings' is the best of the books, so I'm clearly missing out by not reading it, particularly as I loved the first book so much!

8) 'Splintered'; A.G. Howard.

I'm not sure quite when this book came onto my radar, but it was definitely around the time I started my blog. 'You love fairy-tale retellings?' people said. 'Then try out this series!'. Of course a lot of series like it have been recommended to me, and I'm not sure I'm the biggest fan of the covers, but it really does look like a fantastic set of books. Also, just when I was forgetting about it, 'Ensnared' was announced and blogs everywhere went crazy. Perhaps I should read them before it comes out, so I can join in the excitement!

9) 'Siege & Storm'; Leigh Bardugo.

Much like Laini Taylor's series, I saw this one everywhere and decided to catch up with everyone else by reading 'Shadow & Bone'. Again, I loved it and now I really need to read the next in the series, 'Siege & Storm'. It's on the list for this month and I really don't have any excuses as to why I haven't started it yet, other than there's too little time and too many books to read in the world. I hope I love it as much as I loved it's predecessor! Don't be too mean to me for not having started it yet, I am severely hanging my head in shame.

10) 'The Selection'; Kiera Cass.

For me, the astoundingly beautifully book cover drew my eye to this one. It sort of reminded me of Alice In Wonderland, with all the mirrors hanging about! Once I got past this, I confess I was a little unsure about the synopsis. But so many people have told me to read this story and seem to think I'll love it, so I'm thinking that I really ought to give it a try. If I don't like it then fair enough, but it's had so many good reviews that I most probably will.

Monday 18 August 2014

Last Week's Shenanigans: Books, Baking and a trip to the Zoo!

It's been a pretty laid back week this week, I haven't had a whole lot of shifts at Work so I've had time to do nice things this week and make time for me!

Monday 11th: I did have work on this day during the afternoon but in the morning I took the opportunity to catch up on a bi of reading, and managed to get quite a way through Rebecca Levene's 'Smiler's Fair'. I did actually sign up to a Readathon too which has really aided me in focusing on reading a lot more and organising myself better! When I got to work, I rang the Clarks store in London to organise a meeting with the Manager about transferring there in September. That's happening Tuesday 19th so look out for that outcome!

Tuesday 12th: I had a day off and so I wrote my Top Ten Tuesday post and did a fair bit of reading. The most exciting part of the day was my sister having her friends over and doing a spot of baking. They made some lovely chocolate chunk cookies this time. Bev's getting pretty good at this baking malarkey and to be honest, I'm happy to be Official Food Taster for her. It was nice to not be doing an awful lot for the day too! I also managed, very late at night, to finish 'Smiler's Fair'!

Wednesday 13th: Definitely one of the best days of the week by far. I saw Mat and we decided to spend the day together doing something nice. In the morning, we walked to town and ran a few errands, before heading to the clothes shops to buy a new smart outfit for me! We went to McDonalds for lunch, then headed back to mine. Mat quickly drove off to get his haircut while I sorted out my Ipod, then we drove to the zoo for the afternoon. It was so much fun, I absolutely adore the zoo and we saw  a fair few animals! It certainly made for a very nice trip and I got the chance to take a few pictures too. In the evening, we went out to our favourite restaurant 'Little Raj' and had a gorgeous curry. All in all, a lovely day.

Thursday 14th: Work again today! Had a really good shift actually, and it went very quickly because it was so busy! As well as work, my sister had her exam results back and she got some really good ones. 2 As and 2 Bs! It means she can study the subjects she wants at A Level and everyone was chuffed to bits, so I bought her a present (a book of course, 'Afterwards' by Rosamund Lupton). Although I started it the day before, I got a proper chance to get into 'Cinder' by Marissa Meyer, especially as I was on the train a lot. Today was 'Life Of A Blogger' day too!

Friday 15th: Another day off meant I spent time with Bev and her friend Caz. More baking ensued. They made this ridiculously huge chocolate cake (seriously, Bruce Bogtrotter would have struggled) and it was absolutely delicious! We also did a lot of TV watching, including a couple of episodes of Misfits and some more Doctor Who. Late at night again, I finished 'Cinder' which I absolutely adored and left me on a high for the rest of the night.

Saturday 16th: Back to work again today though again, this didn't turn out to be too bad. This time I drove so there was no reading for me, though I did start Ben Aaronovitch's 'Rivers Of London' and am enjoying it so far. A lot of decorating got done on Saturday, as the Parents are currently redoing the front room. I picked Mat up from work that evening and went to his for a couple of hours to relax.

Sunday 17th: Most of Sunday was actually taken up by me doing a spot of baking. To start with, I slept in till late and then Bev and I decided to make cupcakes for a blog post of hers. We picked two different recipes, then popped to Sainsburys to pick up some ingredients. It was a really fun afternoon (we had lunch before starting) and they didn't turn out totally perfect, but they were still absolutely scrummy! Mat came round in the evening before going to the Cinema with his friend to sample some and I got a really good amount of reading done!

Sunday 17 August 2014

Book Review: Cinder; Marissa Meyer.

Oh my word, I don't think I can properly express just how dumbstruck I am after reading this book. Why has it taken me so long to do so? I'm going to take weeks to recover from this read, maybe even months! As you might know, I'm entering it into the Monthly Motif challenge, as it's set in the Future which according to this motif's description, counts as an Alternate Reality!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Cinder
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
SERIES: The Lunar Chronicles (#1)
PAGES: 390
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Retelling

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a Cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.

What I Liked:
  • There is so much to write in this section I'm honestly struggling to find somewhere to start. I loved Cinder herself, she was an awesome heroine. She managed to maintain that perfect balance that I like between being emotionally vulnerable, having a slightly mysterious and sad back-story and still being strong and able to handle herself in a situation. She had a good sense of humour too. The characters she surrounds herself with are wonderful too. Kai is great and I really liked them as a couple, Iko is plain adorable, Levana is sizing up to be an intriguing villain and I liked Dr. Erland a lot too.
  • I liked the world that Meyer built. A lot of thought has obviously gone into it and it's pretty detailed in the way it works actually. It was well-written too so it was easy to envisage everything I was reading which really immersed me into the story. As well, I can tell that there's so much more to it that I've yet to read in the next books and I can't wait to get to know even more of how this Future Earth pans out, as well as finding out more about the Lunars!
  • I loved the way Meyer just took the story of Cinderella and completely made it her own! She wrote amazingly, the plot-line she devised paid a great homage to the original fairy tale while managing to feel completely original and like I was reading something new. Seriously, I can't state enough how good a retelling this is!
What I Disliked:
  • To be honest, there was only one thing I disliked about this read. That ridiculously cruel cliff-hanger at the end. I was totally hooked and so badly want to read the next one right now and find out what happens, but I can't and it's torture! Seriously, why would Meyer do this to me?!
Overall Conclusion:
This book just had everything I look for in a good story, and I'm completely hooked on the series now. Mind-blowing characters, world and writing from an extremely talented author who has strongly planted herself as one of my favourites just from reading this book. I can't wait to read 'Scarlet', want to get hold of 'Cress' as soon as possible and think that I might have a tantrum about the fact that I have to wait so long for 'Winter'.