Saturday 28 February 2015

February Wrap-Up.

This month has gone a little better than I expected it to, especially since it took me quite a while to read 'A Storm Of Swords: Steel & Snow', but I've made it and I've managed a fair few books this month (good and bad). I managed five of the seven planned books (including my crossover read) and all things considered, I think that's pretty good!

  1. 'The Shock Of The Fall'; Nathan Filer. An awesome start to this month's reading! This book had a gripping story-line, great factual basis and very memorable characters. I adored the way it was put together as well, in almost a scrapbook like fashion. Definitely well worth a read, especially if the subject of Mental Health is of interest to you. 5/5 stars.
  2. 'Rogue Wave'; Jennifer Donnelly. This was a pretty good follow up to the first book in the series, 'Deep Blue'. It contained some really strong character development as well as some more of the romance side of things, while making sure it didn't get in the way. I wouldn't say the plot wowed me though, and I would have liked to have seen the six mermaids united and strong rather than apart. Prepare for some massive info-dumping with this one too. 3.5/5 stars.
  3. 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson'; John Green & David Levithan. I read this in honour of LGBT month and I really hoped to enjoy it. Unfortunately, despite some pretty good writing, I just couldn't get into it. I didn't like any of the characters all that much and the ending was totally cheesy, to the point of being ridiculous and seeming to have no real point whatsoever. 2/5 stars.
  4. 'A Storm Of Swords: Steel & Snow'; George R.R. Martin. This man never disappoints me. Of the series so far, this felt like it had the least going on. This was because (I think) it's actually only half of the third book. Despite the lack of massive plot twists, the best bits lay in the details. There was some amazing character development in this book, alongside Martin's usual knack for vivid, amazing world-building. 4/5 stars.
  5. 'The Girl Who Chased The Moon'; Sarah Addison Allen. I came into this read not quite knowing what to expect and actually thinking that I would finish before February was up. But I absolutely devoured this book. I was totally in the mood for a gooey, light-hearted book with a simple, light plot-line and interesting characters. I got that, though I deducted half a star because the two interweaving story-lines didn't quite mesh at times and I felt there could have been a little more romance development. 4/5 stars.
This month I have read two physical books:

- 'The Shock Of The Fall'
- 'A Storm Of Swords: Steel & Snow'

This month I have read two Netgalley/Edelweiss reads:

- 'Rogue Wave'
- 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson'

I'm pretty pleased with my second month of reading and look forward to seeing if March can be even better! My Bookish Bingo card is also filling up nicely, and here's my progress update!

Forgotten Fridays Pick: Howl's Moving Castle; Diana Wynne Jones.
2015 Debut: Rogue Wave; Jennifer Donnelly.
White Cover: The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales.
LGBTQIA: Will Grayson, Will Grayson; John Green & David Levithan.
Mystery Or Thriller: The Moment Collector; Jodi Lynn Anderson.
Freebie: All The Birds, Singing; Evie Wyld.
Over 400 Pages: A Storm Of Swords: Steel & Snow; George R.R. Martin.
Mental Illness: The Shock Of The Fall; Nathan Filer.
Romance: The Girl Who Chased The Moon; Sarah Addison Allen.
2014 Release You Missed: Dreams Of Gods & Monsters; Laini Taylor.
Based On Mythology: A Song For Ella Grey; David Almond.

Friday 27 February 2015

Review: The Girl Who Chased The Moon; Sarah Addison Allen.

I came into this book excited, but a little unsure of what to expect. Both Romance and Magical Realism as genres have produced some very mixed reactions from me in the past, so the two combined would either be a huge success or a total disaster. Fortunately, I soon realised that it would not be the latter. I loved this book! As the word 'Chase' appears in the title, I am choosing to enter this book into the Key Word challenge for this month.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Girl Who Chased The Moon
AUTHOR: Sarah Addison Allen
PAGES: 293
GENRE: Romance, Magical Realism, Adult

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes—which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past? 

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

What I Liked:
  • I really enjoyed Allen's writing style. It just flowed so beautifully, and she has a real knack for invoking the reader's senses to spark their imagination. Seriously, I swear I could smell cake while reading this book! Her ability to set the scene was fantastic, and I loved the way she described character's emotions. I was so in the mood for a book that wasn't too heavy on plot, and really wanted a sweet, gooey, heart-warming read. I certainly got that!
  • Some people complain that the characters are a bit one dimensional, but I actually really liked them! Throughout the story, there are a lot of POVs and I think that Allen did a really good job of purveying their emotional state and explaining how they got to where they were. She was fair to them all, I didn't find myself thinking that anyone was particularly wrong or unlikeable. In most cases, there actions and surroundings spoke louder than their thoughts too, which I liked.
  • The magical elements to this plot were very playful, original and made me smile. I think I really enjoyed the Magical Realism side to this book because there wasn't too much of it. I liked the idea of Stella's cheating husband leaving black soot on the skin of the women he slept with. I liked the mood dependent wallpaper, and the ghostly lights, and the charmed man who could see the smell of cake and follow it. Just small additions such as those really defined it's genre, without being overwhelming.
What I Disliked:
  • I wouldn't say that I necessarily didn't like this aspect, but I think you have to be in the right mood for an Allen book. Why? Because the plot falls a little short. It's a light-hearted fun read, but not very challenging when it comes to story-line and plot twists (i.e. it was a little predictable). It focuses much more on the characters and setting which I actually liked about it. 
  • Also, this one in particular has two intertwining plots that at times felt like they didn't quite mesh together. Julia's side felt like a chick-lit, complicated romance novel while Emily and Win's story felt much more like a Young Adult paranormal romance story. Apart they were fine, but told in unison, it felt a bit odd at times. I did like the two pairings though and I got much more heavily invested into Julia's story than I thought I would, so that is definitely a point in it's favour!
Overall Conclusion:
I enjoyed this book so much, despite my reservations. The writing was very good, the magical elements were fun but not too overwhelming, and the characters were likeable too. I expected the focus to be fully on Emily and Win's relationship and did not know that Julia and Sawyer would feature so heavily. While I liked both couples, perhaps the huge amount of attention given to Julia's side of things was to the detriment of Win and Emily's relationship as a whole. This is a great character story with some really well thought out world-building to go along with it. If you are looking to be surprised and shocked on every page though, perhaps don't pick this book up. The plot is lacking and this is much more of a cosy, fun read than a thrilling, intense shocker.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Life Of A Blogger: 'Routine'.

The only routine that I have that definitely springs to mind is my work routine. As it stands (though it looks set to change soon), I work the same days and same hours every week. I try to work the rest of my life around that as a result. I do also have my getting ready for work routine, which is basically the same everyday: Have breakfast, get dressed, clean teeth, apply make-up and pack lunch. Other than that, I feel like it would be quite nice to not have so much routine.

As a person, I feel like it's important to take every day as it comes: try new things, go out and see more. So apart from work, I don't go to bed at the same time every day, nor do I get up at the same time every morning. I don't have a set reading time or set dinner time, and I fit my schedule around plans I make rather than the other way round. That being said, it has proven to be my downfall in some ways. It means I don't always finish the number of books I want to read. I don't always get blog posts done on time either, and I believe that I'm going to have to start getting into a routine if I want to do those things more efficiently.

For me, routine is about finding a balance. It needs to be there in order to organise your mind and time efficiently, but it's important not to let it rule your life to the point that you don't get to experience new things because you're meant to be washing your hair that day. 

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Book Review: 'A Storm Of Swords: Steel & Snow'; George R.R. Martin.

After spending pretty much all of Monday reading, I managed to finally finish this third installment this morning! I'm so glad, it took me such a long time to get through this book! Still, I'm glad I did. It was another brilliant installment to the series!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: A Storm Of Swords: Steel & Snow
AUTHOR: George R.R. Martin
SERIES: A Song Of Ice & Fire (#3, Part I)
PUBLISHER: Harper Voyager
PAGES: 625
GENRE: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Adult

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast.

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. In the northern wastes, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb's defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his young sisters in their power.

Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.

What I Liked:
  • Martin's writing continues to blow me away, as it has done in the previous two installments of this series. I have never read such a masterful handling of multiple plot-lines in one series. Ever. Every individual story is so different, and yet they tie together so beautifully that it continues to keep me guessing. Yes, I have seen the show, but the book really highlights how expertly Martin does this.
  • I am always a huge fan of Martin's characters, and this book felt a lot less about plot development (though there were a few twists) and a lot more about character development.The characters that I have met a lot faced a lot of hardship and challenges that gave a huge insight into their personalities, and I also got to see a lot more of some characters I was interested to hear more about (Margaery Tyrell, Melisandre, Sam) and even met some fantastic new ones as well (Olenna Tyrell and Oberyn Martell, I'm thinking of you)! It was nice to not have plot twists and death flung at me left, right and centre, and to be able to focus on the characters a little.
What I Disliked:
  • While I really enjoyed the character development, and there were a few twists and turns plot-wise to keep me on my toes, this was only half of the third book. That means I didn't get one of Martin's special killer climaxes, which I always really enjoy. I wouldn't say that the ending really disappointed me as such, it just didn't totally blow me away either. It did leave me wanting more however.
Overall Conclusion:
I seriously love this series, and I can't wait to keep going with it because it's going to be amazing, I can tell. This felt the most like a filler book than any of the other books I have read so far, but it was well done! It gave a huge insight into some of my favourite characters and there were a couple of twists that had me wide-eyed and mouth open, though as this was only half of the third book, I wouldn't hope for a massive ending. I would also say that in terms of characters, there are a lot. Watching the TV show has really helped me in terms of remembering who everyone is but Martin doesn't look like he will ever stop introducing new characters. So if you are easily confused then I wouldn't recommend this series.

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Favourite Heroines From Books'.

I feel like the recent topics for this meme have been pretty interesting and this week is no exception. Apparently they have done this topic before but I don't remember doing it, so I'll give it a go now!

1) Katniss Everdeen from 'The Hunger Games' Series.

By far one of my favourite heroines of all times, I love Katniss! She is strong from the very beginning, and both courageous and independent. Then as the books go on, we get to see a vulnerable side of her too. After all, she is just a sixteen year old girl who has been thrown into one of the most dangerous situations of all time. Her fierce will to live, skill at survival, and the determination she shows when it comes to protecting her family not only makes her a fantastic character, but serves to enhance the horror of the Games and everything they stand for.

2) Hermione Granger from the 'Harry Potter' Series.

Who cares if she isn't the main character, Hermione Granger will always be special to me. The first, and most important thing, is that she is intelligent. There are a surprisingly low amount of intelligent Heroines and Heroes in books, they tend to do at least one or two stupid things just to progress with the plot. But there is more to Hermione than just being a bookworm. She is brave, fiercely loyal and entirely relateable. I just adored reading her and she will continue to be an inspirational heroine to both young and old.

3) Cinder from 'The Lunar Chronicles'.

Having read 'Cinder' and 'Scarlet', I wanted to include both of the titular characters here. They are clever, skilled and fighters to look up to. In the end, I stick with Cinder because she was in both books and I always enjoyed reading from her POV. Her back-story is one of the most tragic and she has to go through a lot in both books, yet she perseveres and it is admirable to read. I do love Scarlet too though, both are fantastic heroines.

4) Yelena from the 'Study' Series.

Yelena is such a great heroine! Her quick-thinking in 'Poison Study' saves her life on multiple occasions, and I really liked her loyalty. It was interesting to read as her past was slowly revealed to us, and the more of it I read, the more sorry for her I felt. She's a good fighter, with a sense of humour and a likeable personality. I really rooted for her throughout the entirety of the book and her relationship with Valek is one of my favourite of all time.

5) Alanna from the 'Song Of The Lioness' Series.

If you like Mulan, you will love this book. Alanna is a great heroine because she's a strong advocate for being who you want to be and doing what you want to do. Having to live in a world where women just can't be Knights, when you so desperately want to be one, must be tough. However, that doesn't matter because Alanna is clever and manages it despite existing prejudice and obstacles that try to stop her. She's a fantastic heroine with a strong message.

6) Liesel from 'The Book Thief'.

I will never stop loving Liesel. She was such a great character to get behind, and it was interesting watching her life go by. She remains strong despite the amount of death, destruction and fear that is going on in her environment, and in her own way she rebels. There's not an awful lot that she can do to help, but she tries her hardest and I particularly loved her lack of prejudice, despite the terrible propaganda that she is being fed.

7) Serafina from the 'Waterfire Saga'.

This series gets mixed reviews, but not many will deny that Serafina is a good heroine. I've read a lot of books about princesses who do nothing but moan about the fact that they don't want to be Queen and can't handle the idea of being trapped. I've also read a lot of books on arranged royal marriages where the Heroine has a lot of negative opinions on those. In 'Deep Blue' though, Serafina has a totally different viewpoint. She is ready and willing to do all that she canto be a good leader for her people, but her only worry is that she will do it badly. And the series isn't about her trying to shun her responsibilities, but rather, learning to manage them well and be a good Queen. I love her willingness to learn from mistakes and determination to do better.

8) Cécile from the 'Malediction Trilogy'.

I loved 'Stolen Songbird' so much and it was mostly because of this lady. Her situation was a little unusual, but she learnt to make the best of it while never giving up on the idea of finding out how to get out pf it. Her conversations with Tristan were laugh out loud funny, and I just loved how she managed to be stubborn and independent, while caring and passionate at the same time. And was there a single reckless character decision to be seen from this lady? Of course not! She had some great qualities and I can't wait to read more of her when book two comes out (soon, please?).

9) Tris from the 'Divergent' Series.

I loved Tris because she wasn't perfect. In a lot of heroines (or even heroes) I find that they are ridiculously selfless, or kind, or brave. To the point that they become unbelievable. Here, I found that at times Tris could be a little selfish. She could also be scared or mean when she felt she had to be. That's what made her so good to read! Because I actually found her flaw to be believable, and that is very important to me in books.

10) Sophie from the 'Howl's Moving Castle' Series.

Sophie was a great heroine because you just see so much character development in her. When the story begins, she seems like nothing but a mousy, resigned, naive girl who does far too much for far too little. But when she becomes cursed and meets Howl, she becomes a strong woman who is no longer afraid to stand up to people, nor deal with their problems lightly. It was nice to see such subtle changes as the story progressed and so Sophie gets a spot on this list.

Monday 23 February 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (16th February - 22nd February)...

Well, what a hectic week I have had! I have been doing something pretty much every day all week and I'm pretty tired as a result. On Monday, I went shopping with Mat around Leicester Square. I bought a few bits and bobs from Boots and had a really nice time browsing the shops. After that, I had work for the rest of the week and that was pretty uneventful. The week went quickly though and it has been so busy, I didn't have an awful lot of time to get much reading done.

On Saturday morning, I woke up early to meet my sister from the station and we had a nice chat before I went to work. She met up with a friend of hers who lives in London for a few hours and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with Mat waiting for me to come home. When I got home that evening, we spent the evening chatting and watching 'Sherlock' (I love that show)! On Sunday, I took her shopping at Westfield Shopping Centre, and we went to the Disney Store and I bought her a new Mug from there. I came home and spent the rest of the evening watching Mat play 'The Evil Within' and catching up on some much needed reading. Unfortunately, my lack of time to myself this week has meant I didn't finish 'A Storm Of Swords' and so did not finish a single book this week. Whoops!


Top Ten Tuesday: Book Related Problems I Have
Life Of A Blogger: Organisation

Thursday 19 February 2015

Life Of A Blogger: Organisation.

This topic is an interesting one for me because I love the idea of it. I like the thought of all my books arranged into Fiction & Non-Fiction sections, and alphabetical order within those. I love the idea of sorting my eye shadows into colour order. I also love the idea of my clothes being sorted properly so that I can easily find a dress or a skirt of I want to. 

The problem is, I'm not very good at it. I am a pretty lazy person, ask anyone who knows me and they will agree (especially my poor, organisation crazy boyfriend who despairs over my lack of motivation). I take ages to get things done, so often I'll have a pile of clothes on the floor that still needs putting away, or books strewn over my bedside table that I read three weeks ago. Another part of the problem is that my Flat just doesn't have the room. I don't have a library full of shelves for all my books so most are in boxes. I also don't have a room just for clothes that I can easily sort so mostly for me, clothes go where there is space. When I become a billionaire (HA!) and can afford a mansion, I'm hoping the organisational skills will get better!

I'm pretty good at organising on the computer and when it comes to writing though. Pinterest is a great example of where I have become freakishly OCD about organising my pins and labeling them correctly. Also when I used to do revision notes or plan essays, it always had to be done in a certain way. I'm even decent at organising this blog! It just goes to prove that I can do it when I try, I just need to apply this skill in the real world. I can do that, right?

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Book Related Problems I Have'.

This is an interesting topic! I think everyone who reads can relate to some of these because I've seen so many readers complain about them. I saw a Tag recently going around on the exact same issue too so it seems to be a popular subject at the moment!

1) Wanting to read too many books at once.

This one is a serious issue for me. Every day I'm on Goodreads and I find at least 5 or 10 new books that I want to read. Alongside that, I have a good 40 sitting on my TBR pile that I'm staring longingly at, and I can only really get through one at a time. It's especially annoying if the book I'm currently reading isn't really grabbing me, because I want to move onto the next one so badly! Unfortunately I'm not superhuman so I'll just have to keep plodding through.

2) Covers that don't match really upset me.

Here's the thing. Once I have bought the first book in a series, I have to buy the sequels or related books with matching covers. In some cases, this isn't possible and I spend a long time debating over whether to leave the book until I can get the right cover, or go ahead and buy it because I really do need to read it ASAP. If I fall in love with a cover, and then someone buys me a book I'm after with a different one, it's sometimes really hard to keep that slight hint of disappointment out of my voice. It makes me feel like a really bad person, but it's a really important issue to me!

3) Hating a book that everyone loves.

I'm sure that it has happened to all of us. You hear that everyone is totally hyping up a certain book, all your favourite bloggers have given it 5 star reviews, and you just can't wait to get your hands on it. When that fateful moment arrives you eagerly get stuck in only to find that it's...just mediocre. Sometimes, it might even be one of the worst books you've ever read. When this happens I normally feel like it's a problem with me for quite a while, but sometimes the book has so many glaring problems that it can't just be me. Then of course, writing the review for it is the most stressful experience...

4) Reading a sequel, when you read the book(s) prior ages ago.

This one is something I do a lot. It leaves me with such a dilemma too because often I've forgotten the events in the previous book and I feel like I should reread it, but then I can't because I have so many other books to read that re-reading feels like a waste of reading time! Often what that means is that the sequel I have to read just gets pushed further and further away while I figure out what to do. Notable examples for me include 'Inheritance' by Christopher Paolini and 'The Wise Man's Fear' by Patrick Rothfuss.

5) Constantly buying/requesting books.

I have a TBR pile the height of Mount Everest, and yet I can't stop buying and adding to the list. Netgalley is a dangerous tool as well. I'm so behind on reading those and yet for everyone I complete, I request four more. What is wrong with me?! I think the problem is that for me, there is nothing like the feel of a brand new book in your hands that looks like it's going to be really good, and that totally trumps the guilt that comes with it.

6) Taking part in Book Challenges.

I'll be honest, if it looks like I'm not going to complete a challenge, I sort of freak out. I always have to remain ahead of schedule on my Goodreads reading challenge, Monthly Motifs & Key Words have to be read every month, and it took me ages to get used to the idea that I'm not supposed to complete every square for Bookish Bingo. Don't get me wrong, I do have fun doing them! But I need to remember not to pressure myself too much.

7) I have so little time to myself now.

When I started this blog I was at University. I only worked a few hours a week, my Uni hours were pretty meager and I had a lot of time to myself. Now? I work full time. When I have days off, I'm totally knackered, or have a ton of things to do, and reading is simply not something I have a whole lot of time for. It's a serious problem for me, but one I'm learning to manage better now.

8) Lack of space.

Again, because I've moved, I no longer have a ton of bookshelves. There is no room in my flat for them. This means that I have a load of boxes full of books under the bed and no room for books anymore. It makes me sad and I'm trying to buy Kindle copies of the books I want to read instead, but I miss paperbacks and hardcovers! I really ought to make use of the Library more...

9) Missing conversations while reading.

Readers. Have you ever been reading while your friends are talking, then you get this sudden feeling that everything is quieter and you look up and they're all starring at you and smiling? And then when you say 'Huh?' because you feel like you missed something big, they all burst out laughing? The first time it's funny. The hundredth, it's annoying. Either actually have something to say or let me read in peace!

10) Watching Film/Movie adaptions.

The problem for me is not reading a book then being disappointed with it's movie adaption. For some reason, I can keep the two seperate in my head and still love the movie, even if they are completely different (though I will get the occasional pang of disappointment if I was looking forward to a certain scene and then it doesn't happen). However if I read and love the film first then get into the book? I often find myself really disappointed with the book. I guess it's because I expect to love the source material more, and I just don't. It makes me feel like an awful book reader too!

Monday 16 February 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (9th February - 15th February)...

This week has been quite hectic compared to previous weeks for a variety of reasons. I began the week at my parents house because I had a dentist appointment that day, and ended up being rather productive. Mat and I packed up a lot more of my stuff that was still in my house, and it felt like I was moving out all over again. It was quite sad, but a big relief at the same time. Work too was a lot better this week. It was quiet, but I ended up speaking to this lovely lady who gave me a ton of book suggestions! It turned out she was a huge Historical Fiction fan and gave me some really intriguing suggestions. I can't wait to check them out!

I had a lovely Valentines day weekend too. On Saturday, I didn't go to work (I took holiday off) and I spent the morning having a nice lay-in before getting ready for my afternoon and evening out with Mat. He still had to work so unfortunately we didn't get to spend the day together, but it was still lovely! When he got home, we went out to Leicester Square and had a look round some shops before going out to dinner at Bella Italia. The food was lovely (though it was so busy that things kept going wrong, but it was all part of the fun). After dinner, we headed back to the cinema near our flat and watched 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'! All I can say is it was an amazing film and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone thinking of going. Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson are amazing in it and I was impressed too with Taron Egerton. Fantastic performances from the cast and it would make a great series of films, I would love to see a sequel!

Sunday ended up being one of the laziest days I've had in history, but it was nice (despite a few chores) not to have to worry about getting up or going out anywhere, especially after the day before had so much of it!

I Reviewed:


Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Like/Dislike In Romance
Life Of A Blogger: Favourite Websites

I Posted:

The 'Bookish Couples' Awards, In Celebration Of Valentines Day!

Sunday 15 February 2015

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson; John Green & David Levithan.

I really did want to like this book. It seemed like such a good read, especially considering the fact that it's LGBT month! I'd seen mixed reviews, but I thought that considering the fact I had read and enjoyed John Green books before, and my sister had recommended I read David Levithan in the past, I would like it! Unfortunately, I didn't get into this one like I wanted to and I ended up giving it a low rating.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
AUTHOR: John Green & David Levithan
PAGES: 321
GENRE: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT, Contemporary

RATING: 2/5 Stars

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, teenager Will Grayson crosses paths with...Will Grayson! Two teens with the same name who run in two very different circles suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions. Culminating in epic turns-of-heart on both of their parts, they team up to produce the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high-school stage.

What I Liked:
  • I guess the one thing I did like about this plot was the fact that it was coherent, despite their being two authors. When more than one person is writing a book, sometimes the plot-line can drift off in a strange direction. Green and Levithan managed to keep the plot going on a focused path that made sense, while giving each character their own story. There were some nice plot moments and good twists too. 
  • The writing itself was pretty good too. I have already read two of John Green's books and like his writing style. It was evident which were his chapters in the story and I liked them for the most part. Levithan's writing was okay too, though significantly darker and quite a bit more serious. It was a nice mix to see such different writing styles.
What I Disliked:
  • The main thing that disappointed me about this book were the characters. I liked John Green's Will Grayson and found him the most relateable, but the rest of them just fell flat for me. Levithan's Will Grayson came across as way too dark and dreary, constantly thinking philosophically about everything and I couldn't get on with him at all. None of the side characters really appealed to me either: Tiny Cooper was extremely egotistical, selfish and annoying, Jane not overly likeable, Maura's actions were totally unforgivable and in my opinion, the rest were not particularly memorable. My lack of empathy and compassion for the characters meant that I didn't really care about what happened to them.
  • The ending was ridiculously cheesy! It felt so High School Musical/Glee like and although that translates well (most of the time) into visual media, it didn't quite work on the pages of this book. I couldn't understand at what point in the book the whole thing became about making Tiny Cooper feel appreciated either. It just felt a bit cringey to read, and meant the book had no real conclusion either.
Overall Conclusion:
Two critically acclaimed authors such as Levithan and Green should be able to produce a really good book. Or so I thought. Yes, I liked the writing styles a lot. I liked the fact that the chapters alternated between Will's and the individual stories really meshed together well. The plot was well focused too. Unfortunately the characters really annoyed me in the end and I just couldn't empathise with them at all. The ending irritated me too because it felt just a little too cheesy and dramatic and totally shifted the focus of the plot right at the last minute. I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book a lot, I just thought it was okay. Sorry!

Saturday 14 February 2015

The 'Bookish Couples' Awards, In Celebration Of Valentines Day!

Seeing as it's Valentines Day, and I spent my last Top Ten Tuesday post dissing Romance as a genre, I thought I would take some time to celebrate things that I do enjoy about romance and it's sub-plots in fiction. So I've compiled a list of categories and chosen winners (as well as notable mentions) for each one.

Best Non-Romantic Duo:

Sam & Patrick (WINNER)
'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'; Stephen Chbosky.

These two were my absolute favourites from the moment I met them as characters in the book. They were so funny and instantly accepting, and I would love them to be my best friends! Of course they were my winners, no one could ever beat them.

Cinder & Captain Thorne
'Scarlet'; Marissa Meyer.

I picked these two because they managed to be really funny and good together, but without making me want them to be together. Not once did I get annoyed at their developing relationship or think "What about Kai?" because I knew they were just going to be friends!

Bronn & Tyrion 
'A Game Of Thrones'; George R.R. Martin.

I just had to with these guys. They are SO funny! I love their constant banter throughout the entire book, and I always smiled when I read their conversations. They are an amazing duo in the books (and they are really good in the TV Series too).

Funniest Couple:

Cecile & Tristan (WINNER)
'Stolen Songbird'; Danielle L. Jensen.

These two win hands down. Their constant banter is some of the funniest I have ever read, and it was really endearing to read their constant hateful and sarcastic comments towards each other, and know that they are totally falling in love.

Howl & Sophie
'Howl's Moving Castle'; Diana Wynne Jones.

There isn't a huge amount of romance between these two until right at the very end, but before that they are hilarious! Howl is such a dramatic, selfish, insulting man and Sophie's constant remarks and comments on his awful behaviour are really funny.

Irene & Andras
'Thereafter'; Terri Bruce.

I was rooting for these two for the entirety of this book but it was so funny to see their conversations. Andras is a God-fearing, chivalrous, Spanish knight and Irene is a sassy, modern, stubborn woman who has an argument for everything. I enjoyed watching these two develop.

Most Badass Couple:

Katniss & Peeta (WINNER)
'The Hunger Games'; Suzanne Collins.

I just love these two! They are such a good team when they join together in order to win the Games, and I love the bond that they develop. They both have really cool skills that means that both contribute to their survival.

Tris & Four
'Divergent'; Veronica Roth.

Similarly, Tris & Four are an awesome couple. They definitely come under the badass section during the final section of the book, when the two of them work together to foil Erudite's plans. I loved reading about them fighting and dealing with the problem and they both displayed some pretty impressive skills along the way!

Scarlet & Wolf
'Scarlet'; Marissa Meyer.

What an awesome pairing! He's strong, tough and a good fighter, while she's intelligent, quick thinking and stubborn. Together they were totally badass! I loved the way that they changed each other too, it made for really cool reading.

Most Tragic Love Story:

Severus & Lily (WINNER)
'Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows'; J.K. Rowling.

Unrequited love is one of the sweetest things to read in a book, and this was one of the most poignant and unexpected plot twists that I have ever read. But above all, it was so sad. 

Hazel & Gus
'The Fault In Our Stars'; John Green.

Everyone who has read the book or seen the movie (and most that haven't too) know why this couple are worth a mention. We all knew it would be a sad ending, and yet when it is, it still made me cry!

Rudy & Liesel
'The Book Thief'; Markus Zusak.

For similar reasons (though rather different in context) this romance was absolutely heart-breaking. It was so innocent and sweet, and then the end just shattered my heart into a million pieces and tore my soul up.

Best Non-Lead Couple:

Zuzana & Mik (WINNER)
'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone'; Laini Taylor.

These two are the cutest. From the moment they got together I was a huge fan and even shipped them a little bit more than Karou and Akiva, the main love plot! Their relationship only gets cuter as the books go on and is one of the few redeeming features of the last in the series, for me.

Radar & Angela
'Paper Towns'; John Green.

These two seemed pretty cool when I read them, and I would love to read more about them. I was a bit upset that there wasn't more of them in the book, not even when the gang went on their road trip! What little amount that I got, I liked though!

Will & Christina
'Divergent'; Veronica Roth.

I totally didn't see these two coming. But when they did get together I was pretty happy! Things were left a little unclear about what will happen next but I'm intrigued to see how this will go.

Paranormal Pairing:

Helen & James (WINNER)
'A Certain Slant Of Light'; Laura Whitcomb.

These two ghosts are my favourite Paranormal couple of the books that I have read so far. Their story was original and an interesting outlook on the afterlife. I loved their relationship too, it was so well-written and I loved them as a couple!

Matthew & Diana
'A Discovery Of Witches'; Deborah Harkness.

I have to admit, Diana was not my favourite romantic lead to begin with. But I did really like Matthew, and when they became a couple, they were so cool to read! They definitely fit under the Paranormal category too because Diana is a witch and Matthew is a vampire! 

Shannon & Gnaw
'Dragon's Curse'; H.L. Burke.

I read this book quite a while back and it had a really nice Beauty & The Beast feel to it that I really enjoyed. Gnaw the Dragon and Shannon the Witch had a really nice, complex relationship that was sweet to read as it developed. I can't wait to finally get round to the next book in the series!

The Interfering Third Party Award:

Lucia (WINNER)
'Deep Blue'; Jennifer Donnelly.

This woman. Seriously she was the obvious choice for this category, I got so angry every time she spoke and I loved the way Serafina handled her. Having just read the second book of the series, her recent actions definitely place her firmly at the top of this category.

'Stolen Songbird'; Danielle L. Jensen.

I hated this character so much at first for being the obvious jealous third party in the love aspect of the story. I was pleased to see her character improve by the end, but she still falls into the category. 

Mary Elizabeth
'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'; Stephen Chbosky.

This one doesn't fully count because Mary Elizabeth was actually an unwitting, unknowing interfering third party. She didn't go out of her way to be like the two previous candidates. However, her constant chasing of Charlie coupled with her annoying personality earned her a place.

Favourite Couple Overall:

Aristotle & Dante (WINNER)
'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe'; Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

I adored this book and completely loved this couple. It was so beautifully written and the characters (and their relationship) were ultra complex and interesting! I loved watching them develop individually and together and I would love to reread this one.

Yelena & Valek
'Poison Study'; Maria V. Snyder.

This is one of my favourite couples, a very close second. Their relationship is of a very different nature, but it was so satisfying to see the tension between them simmer before they finally got together! I want to read more of them!

Nicholas & Clara
'Winterspell'; Claire Legrand.

So many people didn't enjoy this book, but I thought it was great! The relationship between these two started off a little dark and twisted sounding, but I've definitely read weirder and I found him to be a very respectful, sweet romantic lead. Clara was likeable too so they just had to be on this list!

Well that was a lot of fun, and all that's left to say is:

Thursday 12 February 2015

Life Of A Blogger: Favourite Websites.

Wow, okay. So I thought this would be easy but actually it's quite difficult to think of my favourite websites! There are some obvious picks, so I'll go from there!
  • My Blog: I spend crazy amounts of time on this website. It is literally the first thing I go to when loading up the internet, and the last thing I shut down. Sometimes, I don't actually need to be on there for any reason I just load it up to...well sort of look at it I guess. What can I say? My blog is my baby!
  • Goodreads: Yet another site that I always load up. I always find lots to do on here, whether it's entering giveaways, playing on the never-ending quiz, browsing books (a personal favourite), updating my reading status, or seeing what everyone else is doing, I'm there!
  • Netgalley: I say this one in particular because while I am a member of Edelweiss, I've never managed to like it quite as much. Netgalley however, I check every few days at least. I love finding good books on there and I am constantly bowled over by the number of approvals I get!
  • Facebook: I spend a pretty decent amount of time on here, though I don't regularly update like I used to. I mainly use it to see how everyone else is doing (yes, I am one of those people).
  • Twitter: I update this one more regularly, though I think I should get into using it a little more. I try to (when I remember) tweet about new posts and things that interest me (bookish or otherwise) but I am a little forgetful. I promise to make better use of this site in the future though!
  • Tumblr: I mostly use this to re-blog GIFs and posts that make me smile or laugh rather than as an actual blog. It still takes up a pretty hefty portion of my day though! Long may I continue with this site, the people on there are some of the funniest and nicest that I have met.
  • Pinterest: This one might not come up on too many other posts, but I love it! For those of you who don't know, it's a form of picture sharing/organising that allows me to collect together pictures that I love into folders (fashion, make-up, art, photography, etc.) and I use it to do just that. It's pretty good for making mood boards as well and I used it a lot at Uni!
  • Amazon: I think it's safe to say that I browse this site a lot. There's so much to look at, especially books! I love seeing if the book I've been wanting to buy for ages suddenly lowers it's price (or even becomes free on Kindle) so that I can nab it quick!
  • Youtube: My video/music go to website. I've found out that if I look hard enough I can find pretty much anything that I want to find. I mostly use it to find songs, bu I do like to watch Let's Play videos for games too, so I watch a lot of those!

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Things I Like/Dislike In Romance'.

I think that this is the question that I have been waiting to answer, because I have been asked so many times why I'm not a big reader of romance novels. Now I finally get to say why! Of course there are things I do like about romance in books and I'll include those too!

1) Predictability.

Come on, even big lovers of romance have to admit that most romance plots are so predictable. If two characters instantly hate each other then the chances are, they'll be in love by the end of the book. If any other character has the slightest hint of affection towards one member of the main couple, they are obviously going to do something to mess things up along the way. I like it when romances surprise me in some way. When I think to myself "Oh wow, I didn't see those two ending up together!" or "I'm so glad that the jealous third party actually ended up being a nice person in the end." Romance cliches just bug me.

2) The romance to plot ratio.

Ok so here, for me, there has to be a good balance. Do I want to pick up a big that claims to be a Fantasy with a touch of romance and find that actually 95% of the book is the main heroine unable to keep her mind from drifting to the handsome Prince she just met? No. Even books that are purely romance books should have some kind of plot in them that doesn't involve smooching and soppy messages. Other wise I just get bored! A good romance as a plot element should not dictate the plot, but compliment it instead. On the flip side, I do want more than just a couple of sentences please.

3) Lack of communication/Misunderstandings.

This is one of the most annoying romance tropes for me. It's such a common plot device and when it's used, I tend to find myself getting pretty angry. It goes a little like this: Person A walks into a room to tell Person B she's in love with them, only to find Person B being kissed by Person C who Person A also happens to hate. Rather than sticking around for one second more to see Person B push Person C off in disgust, Person A proceeds to dramatically run from the party and ignore poor, clueless Person B for days. Even worse, sometimes Person D (normally a known stirrer) will tell Person A that she saw B & C together and A won't even investigate. Because Person D is obviously a reliable source. Ugh. JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER!

4) Secrets.

This is another common trope, involving our mysterious but love-struck male lead (sometimes female) having some kind of back-story that means he has a terrible secret that he can't share. Of course the lead then finds out and it all leads to some terrible misunderstanding (see above) that if there had only been a bit of honesty to begin with, could have been avoided. Sure it's a plot device, but it's an over-used and annoying one.

5) Love triangles.

This is probably going to appear on a lot of lists this week. It's a commonly used trope, and for the most part I hate them. Why on Earth an Author would undermine a romantic couples relationship by introducing a third party just for a plot boost is beyond me. There are rare moments where you actually see a good one that is introduced at the right moment and actually holds all of the pain and confusion that I can imagine that situation having. But most of the time it just feels like the Author saying "Hey guys, pick a team!". 

6) Insta-love vs. Natural progression.

There are far too many cases of insta-love in books. And yes, there is a difference between insta-chemistry (where two people instantly are drawn to each other but don't fall in love) and insta-love (where two people take one look at each other and suddenly want to get married and have children). Be reasonable Authors, you must know this sounds ridiculous. I admire books that take romance at a more natural pace. Why not have the couple in question sit down and get to know each other first?

7) Constant sex.

This is a big no for me. I like books to have a small amount of sauciness in them, don't get me wrong. It is satisfying when the couple you have been rooting for finally overcome all of that tension and get on with it. But do they really need to do that every page afterwards? Seriously, some books take it too far, and it completely makes the relationship feel lusty rather than special. all of the development before hand goes completely out of the window the moment they don't know how to have a good time other than when they are having sex.

8) Sad endings.

This is more of a me thing but sad endings that make me cry, I avoid. It's why I've never read a Nicholas Sparks book. Because I can't imagine anything worse than finding a couple that I actually root for, seeing them develop and fall for each other, only to have one of them die or leave suddenly and shatter everything. It would just upset me!

9) Power couples.

Everyone loves power couples, myself included! The couple in question need to have the right amount of chemistry, and compliment each other well. Sometimes I'll read a book and just think 'Meh.' about a certain couple, and I have no idea why! It's just in my opinion, some authors have the knack for writing a decent romantic plot-line that gives you all these feelings, and some just don't.

10) Personality switching.

Bad boys are a common trope in romantic story-lines and I don't mind them so much I suppose. What I do mind however is when a total jerk can suddenly transform into the sweetest, kindest person just because he fell for a pretty girl. People don't just change. Character development like that takes both time and work and it irks me no end when Authors think it's an instantaneous process.

Monday 9 February 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (2nd February - 8th February)...

Having to get up early on Sunday was hard, so Monday I made sure to have a nice lay-in. In fact, Monday was very much a day to chill, and that was nice! I started to get a lot of brainstorming done regarding book ideas and it made me feel a lot better about my future as an Author too! As well as that, we watched a lot of TV and films (mostly Marvel movies), as well as playing on the Xbox One. It was so much fun!

The week of course was filled with work, which is still quiet and a little boring at times. Still, I lie my job and I'm trying hard to be positive at the moment! When I got through the week, I ended up having a rather hectic first day off. Instead of resting, I travelled down to Ashford to see my family (and make sure that I definitely got to the Dentist in time the next day). It was nice to catch up and hear about how things are going, as well as tell them the latest London stories!

I Reviewed:

Top Ten Tuesday: Fantasy Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read
Life Of A Blogger: What Superpower would I Choose?
Six Degrees Of Separation: This Book Will Save Your Life, A.M. Holmes

Sunday 8 February 2015

Book Review: Rogue Wave; Jennifer Donnelly.

Hooray, another Netgalley book bites the dust! I was excited about reading this one too because despite a few bad reviews, I really enjoyed 'Deep Blue'! I liked this installment (the second in the series) too and can't wait to share my thoughts with you guys!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Rogue Wave
AUTHOR: Jennifer Donnelly
SERIES: Waterfire Saga (#2)
PUBLISHER: Disney Press
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Adventure

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Serafina, Neela, Ling, Ava, Becca, and Astrid, six mermaids from realms scattered throughout the seas and freshwaters, were summoned by the leader of the river witches to learn an incredible truth: the mermaids are direct descendants of the Six Who Ruled-powerful mages who once governed the lost empire of Atlantis. The ancient evil that destroyed Atlantis is stirring again, and only the mermaids can defeat it. To do so, they need to find magical talismans that belonged to the Six.

Serafina believes her talisman was buried with an old shipwreck. While researching its location, she is almost discovered by a death rider patrol led by someone familiar. . . . The pain of seeing him turned traitor is devastating.

Neela travels to Matali to warn her parents of the grave threat facing their world. But they find her story outlandish; a sign that she needs to be confined to her chamber for rest and recovery. She escapes and travels to Kandina, where her talisman is in the possession of fearsome razormouth dragons.

As they hunt for their talismans, both Serafina and Neela find reserves of courage and cunning they didn't know they possessed. They face down danger and death, only to endure a game-changing betrayal, as shocking as a rogue wave.

What I Liked:
  • The strongest part of this book (and indeed the series so far) is the character development. Serafina is a strong heroine. She's smart, independent and courageous, while managing to be compassionate and caring at the same time. All in all, she is the making of a good ruler, and as she's the rightful Queen, it's good that she has those personality traits to back her up. It was nice to see her development, but as well as that, we get to see the same happen to Neela! In the last book I remember her constantly craving sweets, being a little bit silly most of the time, and constantly freaking out over the slightest situation. In this book, you can see she has truly grown and is both strong-willed and a lot cleverer.
  • The plot-line was easy to follow and interesting enough. It was certainly coherent too which is what I want out of a series. It followed nicely on from the first book and gave a good lead up into the third (enough that I want to read it anyway). I liked that Donnelly came up with a few sub-plots, such as Serafina's love life, managing to develop them while making sure they didn't get in the way of the story too.
What I Disliked:
  • While the plot-line was good, it never wowed me. In fact, I don't think anything about this book had me on the edge of my seat. The plot twists were predictable (a couple of them I predicted in the last book) and there were a number of moments that I found myself a little bored, hoping for something truly exciting to happen. I was a little disappointed that the girls split up too, having taken all of last book to find each other and having been told that they are strongest together. I understand the necessity plot-wise but still, two or three of them had completely disappeared off of the radar!
  • Donnelly has a knack for world-building, but turning it into manageable, readable content is another thing. Most people complained that she overloaded the reader with information in the last book (myself included) and I found that again this time around. There were so many Underwater puns, and so much Mermaid History, political and social context, and general Mermaid talk that at times it felt like the book was in another language! It would be good to have that taken down a notch.
Overall Conclusion:
All in all I did enjoy this book, but I wouldn't say it bowled me over. And I so wanted to be bowled over. I wanted to totally fall in love with Serafina and Mahdi as a couple, but I didn't. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat constantly, but I wasn't. I wanted to at least once yell out "NO!" or "I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!" but alas, no. Still there are two more books to come and I am emotionally invested in the series enough to say that I want to find out what happens next. And Donnelly did do a lot of really good character work in this one!

Saturday 7 February 2015

Six Degrees Of Separation (This Book Will Save Your Life; A.M. Holmes)

This month's first Saturday falls on February 7th, so I bid you a warm welcome to the second Six Degrees Of Separation post of 2015! This game/challenge never gets old for me! It's hosted by Emma J. Chapman and Annabel Smith, and really is a lot of fun!

This month's chosen book is 'This Book Will Save Your Life' by A.M. Holmes, and it's yet another book that I haven't read! The plot synopsis does sound good though and I would probably enjoy it! Plus, those doughnuts look delicious!

To start with, 'This Book Will Save Your Life' was shortlisted by the Richard & Judy Book Club in 2007. The most recent bout of books listed by the same book club included 'The Miniaturist' by Jessie Burton, a recent read of mine! As well as that link, the two books seem to be linked by the fact that both contain rather strange happenings, and contain characters that are determined not to follow the path set out for them and try to change the course of their lives.

The next book I have chosen is yet another good Historical Fiction read, 'Pure' by Andrew Miller. If you are a fan of the genre, I thoroughly recommend both books! 'Pure' is a little darker, but does also contain an element of the inexplicable in it's plot-line.

I read 'Pure' at the start of last year (February time in fact) but it was not the first book I read for this blog. Jack Wolf's 'The Tale Of Raw Head & Bloody Bones' was and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Both books are Historical Fiction of course, but more importantly, they both have a Gothic, dark overtone. Their front covers are pretty similar (creepy men surrounded by many birds) and to me, they were very unique in their style and story-line.

'The Shock Of The Fall' by Nathan Filer might seem like a bit of a swerve in a completely different direction but don't be fooled. While one book is set in the present, and the other in the past, both are about a young man suffering with mental illness and trying to engage in society. It's so interesting to compare the differences between the two! In both books, it becomes difficult to tell what is real and what is purely imagined. I loved and gave both books five stars!

Let's take a different path now. 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' by Neil Gaiman has one major thing in common with 'The Shock Of The Fall'. Both are told from the POV of a man. As well as that, both males are trying to tell the story of how they got to the point they are at through flashbacks and stories from a long time ago when they were much younger. I love the way that the boy's parents play a huge role in both stories too!

'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' has been frequently placed in the genre of Magical Realism (for pretty obvious reasons). When thinking about that genre, only one book comes to mind: 'One Hundred Years Of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez. This book is written by an author who is famous for working with and producing books that contain Magical Realism throughout. I found this particular book a little hard to get through, but the connection was too blatant to ignore!

I'm really quite pleased with this list, it has a lot of great books in it that I would thoroughly recommend! I honestly thought I would get stuck with this one but it would seem that the title was less problematic than I first imagined it would be! I can't wait for next month's choice!