Thursday 30 April 2015

April Wrap-Up.

I have to admit, this month's reading has been ever so slightly disappointing on my part. I went through a tiny bit of a slump at the beginning of the month because I felt like I was reading books that I wasn't really enjoying. My experiences became much better later on but it meant that I managed 5 of my 7 chosen reads. I suppose that's actually good, it's over halfway, right?

  1. 'The Winner's Curse'; Marie Rutkoski. This book has been given so much hype and so I set my expectations really high. Unfortunately, I didn't get quite what I was expecting (probably because of the hype) and found myself a bit disappointed. The plot concept was good and I really liked the last third of the book, but to begin with it felt a little clunky and Arin and Kestrel took a while to grow on me. 3.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Moonlands'; Steven Savile. I was actually pretty excited about this book too, because the synopsis really intrigued me. The beginning was really good too and instantly had me eager to read more. As I did so however, I began to find that Savile's wordy writing style mixed with his constant use of short sentences irritated me. I think the pacing of the book suffered as a direct result too. However, I really did enjoy the originality that was put into the world-building and the creatures found within. 2/5 Stars.
  3. 'Fractured Dream'; K.M. Randall. I was so hopeful that this book would get me out of the slump but it only drove me deeper! I wanted so much to like it and really enjoyed reading some of the ideas that Randall had for the Fairy Tale/Legendary characters we all know and love. Unfortunately my love stops there. The pacing was too fast so that I felt key plot points were brushed over, the dialogue cringe-worthy and juvenile, and the characters didn't grab me in any way. 1/5 Stars.
  4. 'A Storm Of Swords: Blood & Gold'; George R.R. Martin. Thank goodness for this series. I have read the first two and a half books and loved it, and the second part to the third novel did not disappoint. In fact, it's my favourite so far. The pacing felt a lot quicker and I was taken aback by the catastrophic events taking place, unable to do anything but watch it all fall apart. This is the book where I really felt like I knew who was who and what exactly was going on, and I loved that cliffhanger. Great job Martin! 5/5 Stars.
  5. 'Child 44'; Tom Rob Smith. I only just finished this book in time but I am so glad I did. Crime/Thriller is not normally my genre but my lovely flat mate promised me it was worth a read and I will never doubt her again. What an amazing story! The plot was the most gripping I've read in ages, the characters interesting and varied and the world-building phenomenally detailed and clearly well-researched. I actually felt like I was learning something. Fantastic! 5/5 Stars.
This month I have read two physical books:

- 'A Storm Of Swords: Blood & Gold'
- 'Child 44'

This month I have read two Netgalley/Edelweiss reads:

- 'Moonlands'
- 'Fractured Dream'

And here is how I am doing with my Bookish Bingo Card so far!

Murder Mystery: Child 44; Tom Rob Smith.
April, May, June Release: Fractured Dream; K.M. Randall.
Rain Or Storm In Title: A Storm Of Swords: Blood & Gold; George R.R. Martin.
Parental Relationships: The Winner's Curse; Marie Rutkoski.
Thieves, Assassins, Pirates: Moonlands; Steven Savile.

Book Review: Child 44; Tom Rob Smith.

I wanted to finish just one more book before the end of April and I'm really relieved that I managed it. This book was recommended to me by my flat mate and I'm so glad that she did because I loved it! I'll also be entering it into the 'Monthly Motif' challenge!

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Child 44
AUTHOR: Tom Rob Smith
SERIES: Leo Demidov (#1)
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PAGES: 500
GENRE: Suspense, Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals.

But in this society, millions do live in fear . . . of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty-owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time-sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MGB officer is more courageous, conscientious, or idealistic than Leo Demidov.

A war hero with a beautiful wife, Leo lives in relative luxury in Moscow, even providing a decent apartment for his parents. His only ambition has been to serve his country. For this greater good, he has arrested and interrogated.

Then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal-a murderer-is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down, and every belief he's ever held shattered. The only way to save his life and the lives of his family is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer-much less a serial killer-is in their midst. Exiled from his home, with only his wife, Raisa, remaining at his side, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the MBG to find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.

What I Liked:
  • The plot was the most gripping I've read in a while. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it considering I don't really like thrillers or crime novels. But from the very first word I was totally hooked! The plot was well paced and full of unexpected, creative twists and turns that had me shouting out loud with frustration at times. I honestly didn't know who to trust and felt in a constant state of suspense.
  • I really liked the alternating viewpoints between characters. It gave a real depth to the story and gave insight into key events that would all play a part at some point. The characters themselves were so interesting to read too because they each had an interesting outlook on the events that transpire and their reactions and survival methods for the world that they live in.
  • The most impressive aspect for me was the world building. As the book is set in Stalin's Russia, a historical era that I didn't know much about, I was a little apprehensive as to whether I would fully understand the plot. However, I found that I was sucked into a world of political intrigue, suspicion, fear and almost felt that I myself was under surveillance. I actually felt like I was learning something too while reading this book and would be interested to pursue more knowledge/fiction from this era.
What I Disliked:
  • This book in my mind was one of the best books I've read in a while in terms of gripping me throughout. However,after of the horrors and humiliation that Leo and Raisa suffer throughout the story, I just felt that the ending was a little too perfect for them. I did of course want them to have a happy ending but it didn't seem to match the desolate future I was lead to believe awaited them. However, there are two other books in the series so I am sure they have plenty more to endure yet.
Overall Conclusion:
What a wonderful book! I will forever be in my flat mate's debt for introducing me to a Thriller that I actually really enjoy for once! It totally stood out among the others and I look forward to reading more of Tom Rob Smith's works, as he has proved himself more than capable of combining great characters, fast-paced plot and fantastic world-building. Anyone who is interested in this era and indeed likes Historical Thrillers should not miss this book.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books Which Feature Characters Who Defy Their Parents'.

So there are a  fair amount of people who go through the 'my parents are wrong about everything' stage in their lives. This normally happens in their teenage years when they begin to feel they are becoming adults, with their own opinions and thoughts on what they should be allowed to feel and do. It's a common trope in books too, though fiction normally means that the consequences can be a lot more disastrous than in a real-life setting. Sometimes, as a reader, I root for the character who rebels against them  because it is clear they are wrong/being overly protective/not very nice. Sometimes I put my head in my hands and watch in horror as the headstrong hero dives into something they don't understand. Whatever the plot is however, these are some of the best examples I can think of.

1) 'Matilda'; Roald Dahl.

This is possibly one of the best examples of a book in which you want the child to disobey her parents. On the surface, 'Matilda' is a very funny and sweet children's story. Underneath however, it actually follows some very dark themes. The Wormwoods often neglect and abuse the young girl, her Father constantly shouting at her and her Mother ignoring her. They tell her that TV is the way forward and she's not allowed to read books. Fortunately, Matilda takes it upon herself not only to ignore her parents' wishes, but to ultimately seek a form of revenge in the form of practical jokes.

2) The 'Harry Potter' Series; J.K. Rowling.

'Matilda' isn't the only book that features some very unsatisfactory parenting skills. The Dursleys are not Harry's real parents, they are in fact his Aunt and Uncle. Since the death of his parents, Harry is forced into their care and let me tell you, they are not pleased about it. Thanks to this, Harry is forced to undergo possibly one of the most miserable childhoods in book history. Luckily, when magic comes into his life, it gives him a chance to fight back, and watching the Dursleys suffer is immensely satisfying.

3) 'Alanna: The First Adventure'; Tamora Pierce.

This book is such a great example of children defying their parents (or in this case, Father's) wishes from the outset, and in doing so, unveiling a great destiny. Alanna and Thom are both identical Twins, though one girl and one boy. Alanna is to be sent to the Temple to learn to become a lady, and Thom is being sent to the Palace to be a Knight. However, in an attempt to do the things they love, Alanna dresses as a boy so that she can do as Thom was going to, and Thom goes to the Temple where young boys are taught to be Magicians. The great thing about this book is that as a reader, I would constantly reflect upon what would have happened if they had gone to where they were supposed to go. Life would probably have been a whole lot more boring!

4) 'Pride & Prejudice'; Jane Austen.

This is defying the expectations of a parent in a very different way than previously discussed. In the typical values of the time, Lizzie Bennett's mother (though well meaning) wants her daughters to marry into rich families. The more wealthy, the better, and she will do what she can to secure the future of her family. The problem is, her children don't necessarily have the same designs. The heroine, Lizzie, is all but pushed into accepting a marriage with Mr. Collins, and yet she chooses not to (which directly defies her Mother's wishes). Lydia too proves to be a disappointment when she runs off with the villainous Mr. Wickham and brings shame upon the household as a result.

5) 'It'; Stephen King.

This book is absolutely full of children choosing not to listen to their parents. Due to the fact that there is an evil child-killing monster on the loose however, it only serves as a terrifying plot device. The best example is probably Eddie Kaspbrak, whose Mother is a hypochondriac and is far too concerned over Eddie's health. Convinced that he is ill with almost every condition under the sun, she doesn't like him to have friends or play outside. As the book progresses, Eddie begins to learn he's much stronger than his mother thinks he is and defies her openly. Bill Denbrough too has much conflict with his parents who are unable to get over his younger brother Georgie's death, and Beverly Marsh's Father constantly threatens to beat her senseless if she doesn't obey him. One of the best moments in the book is watching them get braver and face their individual threats, as well as the monster.

6) 'The Invention Of Wings'; Sue Monk Kidd.

A young, white-skinned girl takes a big risk when she defies her parent's (and society's) views and opinions on the black community by teaching her young slave 'Handful' how to read. Based on the true story of the Grimke sisters, this is one of the most satisfying stories when it comes to disobeying parents. As well as dealing with racism and slavery, it also deals with sexism as Sarah's father repeatedly points out that Sarah would have been a great Lawyer if she had been a man. When she expresses an interest to pursue this Father, he almost laughs in her face and points out that she had not actually been born a man.

7) 'A Certain Slant Of Light'; Laura Whitcomb.

Now this book is not about defying parents in the conventional sense, because the young teens that feature in the book are not actually themselves, but are possessed by two very well-meaning ghosts. It was interesting watching the ghosts try to adapt to  their new lives, and very quickly realise what they were dealing with. In Helen's instance, she is trapped inside the body of Jenny, the daughter of two deeply religious parents. I loved this book for so many reasons, and really rooted for Helen finding the courage to stand up to her overly protective Mother and hypocritical, strict Father on behalf of Jenny's lost soul.

8) 'Coraline'; Neil Gaiman.

The main theme of 'Coraline' is her struggle against her very busy, slightly neglectful parents who clearly love her very much but have a lot on their hands. As a child, Coraline doesn't understand the lack of attention and goes hunting for it elsewhere. She stumbles upon it in the from of her 'other' parents, but soon finds she is dealing with a malignant force intent on devouring her soul. It is these parents I enjoyed watching her battle against.

9) 'The Winner's Curse'; Marie Rutkoski.

This book is an interesting one because it's more about Kestrel's inner battle regarding her Father's wishes than it is about outwardly defying him. There's a lot of great moments between the two characters where they don't really know how to act around each other, and ow to make each other happy. Parental relationships are a central theme to the story, so I included it in this list because Kestrel's actions, while not directly defying her Father, are a rebellion against his wishes and expectations.

10) The 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' Series; George R.R. Martin.

It's no great secret that I adore this series. There are a lot of very interesting characters and story-lines. Some of the most tragic come from a child defying their parents. Brandon stark is the most notable and literal example I feel. He is told he should stop climbing by his Mother and chooses not to listen to her. As a result, he is witness to something that he should not have seen, and pushed out of the window so that it looks like he has fallen. Catelyn Stark, mother of five children, often talks about her battles to get her children to heed her counsel and the disastrous consequences. Tyrion Lannister is at a continuous war with his Father who ignores and undermines him all the time. The book is full to the brim of rebellious children, no matter how old they are.

Monday 27 April 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (20th April - 26th April)...

So this week has pretty much been all about preparation. Why? Because I'm going on holiday of course! I'll be away for the first and second week of May,in both Crete and then Paris, so the week has been all about getting ready for that! On Monday, Mat and I went to Oxford Street for a massive shopping trip and ended up having a lovely day out. I got myself a whole bunch of new swimwear, dresses, a hat and beach outfits ready for the lovely weather that awaits me on Crete. As well as that, I had a Starbucks Iced Frappe which I haven't had in ages (and a cookie) and got to do something I haven't done for a while: relax. It was just so nice to spend such a lengthy amount of time enjoying myself and not feel like I'm under a time limit. Then to top off a wonderful day, the next episode of Game Of Thrones Season 5 was on, and Gotham too!

Over the course of the week I worked obviously, but Mat and I have been busy bees when I didn't. He's had a couple of important events to attend that have gone very well for him, and I feel like I've been seriously productive when it comes to future plans regarding this blog. There will probably be more on that when I come back from my holiday so stay tuned! I raced through 'A Storm Of Swords: Blood & Gold' and got started on my lovely flatmate's recommended read: 'Child 44'. On Sunday, I travelled back to Ashford to visit my parents and it was so nice to see them again! We had a curry together and then in the evening,Mat and I whizzed down to the Cinema to watch 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron', which of course I thoroughly enjoyed!

I Read:


Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Authors

Thursday 23 April 2015

Book Review: 'A Storm Of Swords: Blood & Gold; George R.R. Martin.

This book. Words have actually failed me. I'm so astounded by how good it was, and exhausted by how much happened, that I need to take a moment to rest before I write this review. I'm so glad I got into this book when I did and I'm so impressed with Martin right now!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: A Storm Of Swords: Blood & Gold
AUTHOR: George R.R. Martin
SERIES: A Song Of Ice & Fire (#3, Part II)
PUBLISHER: Harper Voyager
PAGES: 609
GENRE: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Adult

RATING: 5/5 Stars

The men of the Night's Watch are ready for the coming of a great cold and the walking corpses that travel with it. But now they face a horde of wildlings twenty-thousand strong - hungry savage people steeped in the dark magic of the haunted wilderness - poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. But Robb's defences are ranged against attack from the South, the land of House Stark's enemies the Lannisters. His sisters are trapped there, dead or likely yet to die, at the whim of the Lannister boy-king Joffrey or his depraved mother Cersei, regent of the Iron Throne. Cersei's ambition is unfettered while the dwarf Tyrion Lannister fights for his life, a victim of treachery. And on the other side of the ocean, the last of the Targaryens rears the dragons she hatched from her husband's funeral pyre. Daenerys Stormborn will return to the land of her birth to avenge the murder of her father, the last Dragon King on the Iron Throne.

What I Liked:
  • In my review of the first half of 'A Storm Of Swords', I mentioned that I hadn't read the usual George R.R. Martin bloodthirsty climax that I was used to, though this was probably because it was the first half of a book. In light of that, the second half was exactly what I need. So many things happened that I read basically the entire thing with my mouth open in shock. I have watched the TV Show of course, but I was not expecting the events of the book to happen so quickly and close together. Some of the scenes were brutal and upsetting, while others deeply satisfying. All I can say is if you're looking for action, you'll certainly find it here.
  • I found this book much easier to read than previous books in the series. It progressed at a really good pace, with many twists and turns to keep me occupied. As well as that, I actually felt like I knew who everyone was, and there purpose in the story. The characters were, as always, well thought out and complex to read. I didn't once feel lost, which is what actually earned this book the five star rating that I awarded it.
  • Martin's world-building abilities continue to impress me. I always say that I will never truly enjoy a book unless I can see that the author understands the context that he or she is writing from and this series is a shining example of the level of detail that I enjoy. War is not just about battles and numbers, there aren't always heroes though sometimes they can rise from the unlikeliest of places, and politics is a dangerous, complicated game that must be played carefully.
What I Disliked:
  • There is only one thing I disliked and that is the huge great cliffhanger it left me on right at the very end. I mean, what am I supposed to do now? I can't read the next one for a while and I completely wasn't expecting it! I can't stand being kept in such suspense!
Overall Conclusion:
George R.R. martin is truly an author who knows his craft.I have loved his other books, but this was definitely the one that totally won me over, and I can't believe how much I want to read the rest of them right now! Martin's writing is compelling, bloodthirsty and left me hungry for more. His world-building is like nothing else I've ever read, his characters memorable and the plot never seems to grow dull. I can't wait to read the next book!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

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

Wow, this is going to be tough. I can't wait to see how other people will cope with this category though!

1) George R.R. Martin.

I'll start off with this man because I'm reading one of his books right now. George R.R. Martin is a ruthless man. He has a habit of building up the most wonderful of characters, only to kill them off just when you start getting attached to them. And yet, I love him for it! I first got into the world that the 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series was set in via the TV Show 'A Game Of Thrones' it's true, but now I'm working my way through the books now and I have to say, they are some of the best Fantasy I have ever read. It's a politically intriguing masterpiece, and the amount of detail that has gone into these books is so impressive that I can't help but read more and more. I am so looking forward to the next book, and I know most of the world is with me on this one!

2) Markus Zusak.

I don't care that I've only read one book by this guy. It's the best book I've ever read, and so of course Zusak is one of my favourite authors! His writing was just phenomenal, and I was blown away by how soul-shattering his book was, yet I would read it over and over if I could. I really ought to read more of his books having enjoyed 'The Book Thief' so much. But I just haven't got round to it as of yet! I can't wait till I do!

3) Tamora Pierce.

Ahh Tamora Pierce. I think everyone who has read my blog will know how much I love and admire this woman. I have worked my way through so many of her books, and adored them all! Most of the books I've read of hers were set in Tortall, and it's only the 'Beka Cooper' series that I haven't finished from that set. I did get through quite a portion of her Emelan set series too and really enjoyed those too. I want to reread every one of her books at some point because I've seriously missed them!

4) Marissa Meyer.

I started her 'Lunar Chronicles' series last year and absolutely adored it! Now, I am very impatiently waiting for 'Winter' to come out like everyone else. I love these books so much! The characters, the plot, just the fact that they are such clever, original re-tellings of some of the most well-known stories! I hope she keeps creating more and more lovely stories for me to read.

5) Roald Dahl.

Of course Roald Dahl was going to appear on this list! His book 'Matilda' was the very first I remember getting through and the book that really got me into reading. His other stories are firm favourites of mine too and I have loved them since childhood.

6) Holly Black.

There is something about this lady that just keeps bringing me back. Whenever I've read her books I've found I have never been able to give them a low rating because Holly Black has such an amazing imagination. She writes so many different stories and I have enjoyed them all! I can't wait to continue reading them!

7) J.K. Rowling.

Harry Potter has always been and will always be a huge part of my reading life. J.K. Rowling is a wonderful author and she captures my imagination in a way not many authors do and the Harry Potter series is one of the first series in which I totally devoured every book.

8) Jacqueline Wilson.

This lady's books stayed with me for a very long time because they dealt with such real situations. I loved the problems that the children faced in each and every one, and the mostly happy endings that they get in the end. There was something very loveable about Jacqueline Wilson's books and so relateable too.

9) Christopher Paolini.

I remember the first time I saw 'Eragon' on the shelf in the bookshop I totally fell in love with it! The cover was gorgeous, the book was thick and the plot sounded so intriguing! I loved this series so much and really want to read the last book.

10) Patrick Rothfuss.

'The Name Of The Wind' is hands down one of the best Fantasy books I have ever read. If anyone who is reading this list loves Fantasy then I highly rate this particular series. It has adventure, a complicated and well thought out magic system, great and memorable characters and an interesting plot. And that's just the first book!

Monday 20 April 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (13th April - 19th April)...

To be honest, the week has been pretty uneventful, even by my standards! As I mentioned, Mat's brother came to stay on Sunday. All of us spent the Monday chilling out because we didn't really have anything else to do! We played games, watched TV (Season 5 of Game Of Thrones started!!) and I tried to get through one of the most frustrating books I've ever read! On Tuesday I started work again, and not a huge amount ever really happens at work! Mat's brother had gone by the time I got home. We did continue to watch 'Gotham' however, and started another superhero TV Show: 'Daredevil'. I really love Gotham with a passion, and 'Daredevil' is proving to be really good too, though a little gory. By Sunday, I had started reading the next book in the 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series, so I've been working my way through that nicely!

I Read:


Top Ten Tuesday: Inspiring Quotes From Books

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Book Review: Fractured Dream; K.M. Randall.

Well, I'm afraid to say that was one of the most disappointing, frustrating books I've read in a long time. I have a 'no DNFing' rule and I came so close to breaking it. I still sort of wish I had! Despite a beautiful cover, I am seriously disappointed. I am entering it as another entry into the 'Key Word' Challenge this month though.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Fractured Dream
AUTHOR: K.M. Randall
SERIES: The Dreamer Saga (#1)
PAGES: 430
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Fairy Tale Retellings

RATING: 1/5 Stars

It’s been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they’re back, tormenting her as nightmares she can’t remember upon waking. The black waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades before, may hold the secret to Story’s hidden memories, or a truth she’d rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best friends, Elliot and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything they've ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and gods.

Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds are counting on her.

What I Liked:
  • Okay good, we'll start here because I do actually have something to say, despite the poor rating. The concept behind this story was really good and appealed to me more than anything. We all know I love Fairy tales, and there were some pretty cool ideas that Randall came up with. I love the idea that Red Riding Hoods are each bound to a wolf that they are destined to fight during their lives. A vampiric twist on the stories of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White were also very appealing. I liked the idea of every character not being who you thought they were, yet also recognisable as an aspect of famous Myths and Tales.
What I Disliked:
  • I'll start with the plot itself. The pacing was far too quick in this one. It consisted of the main character moving from place to place without doing much while there and left no real room for depth or development. Really significant plot events seemed to be totally brushed aside and quite a few happened 'off-page' so I didn't even get to read about them. In one or two cases, I didn't even realise a main character had died until a chapter or two later when it was casually mentioned to me. Throughout most of this book I felt confused, lost and din't really understand what was happening because too much was going on and I was left no room to understand it.
  • I wasn't overly attached to any of the characters. I would't say any of them particularly annoyed me, which is a good thing. But I didn't particularly like them either. Like the plot, they were massively underdeveloped and there were just far too many of them to keep track of. Most of them I only met for a couple of paragraphs before Story, the main character, went rushing off to the next portion of the story and left them behind. Half of the characters I met didn't even seem to have any kind of real purpose. It was very frustrating, and to make matters worse, the insta-love in this book was handed to me in bucketfuls.
  • The thing about this book that really got to me was the writing itself. There were parts of this book that was clearly not for children, and yet I definitely felt like the writing in this book was very juvenile. It was supposed to be written in a very old Fairy Tale world that had been seperate from the Human world for thousands of years, yet they all referred to each other as 'BFFs' and 'badasses' and through most of the dialogue, I actually cringed. How Story can claim she is over twenty is beyond me. I don't understand who the book was meant to be aimed at!
Overall Conclusion:
Despite a really nice idea behind this book, there were too many flaws. The characters were undeveloped massively and unappealing, the plot was too fast paced and at times made no sense, and the writing style really frustrated me. It would have been nice if Story had slowly recovered her memories so we could learn with her, but she got most of them back at the very beginning and knew who everyone was, and as a reader I was just supposed to go with it. I wanted to enjoy this book more, but unfortunately it just frustrated me and there was far too much going on.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Inspiring Quotes From Books'.

I have actually already written a very similar post for a 'Life Of A Blogger' post on the subject of quotes, which can be found here. I'll include those and a few more that I like for this week's topic!

1) 'Pride & Prejudice'; Jane Austen.
“Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.” 

2) 'The Book Thief'; Markus Zusak.
“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”

3) 'Cloud Atlas'; David Mitchell.
“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

4) 'To Kill A Mockingbird'; Harper Lee.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

5) 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe'; Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
“I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn't get--and never would get.”

6) 'Life Of Pi'; Yann Martel.
“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous possessive love that grabs at what it can.”

7) 'The Invention Of Wings'; Sue Monk Kidd.
“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” 

8) 'The Snow Child'; Eowyn Ivey.
“In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.” 

9) 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'; Stephen Chbosky.
“I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have.” 

10) 'Dracula'; Bram Stoker.
“Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot? But there are things old and new which must not be contemplate by men´s eyes, because they know -or think they know- some things which other men have told them. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.” 

Monday 13 April 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (6th April - 11th April)...

Monday was actually a really good day for me, because I saw my family! As Sunday 5th was my Mum's birthday, they decided to come up to see me. It was really nice seeing them and we went out for lunch together. All in all it was a lovely second day off before inevitably going back to work for the rest of the week. After working all week, Mat's brother came up to visit him and is here until Tuesday. It was a really lovely day on Sunday and I ended up travelling around London a lot more than anticipated for a variety of reasons, but we had a nice evening in watching 'Adventureland' and relaxing. I didn't have time to do quite as much reading as I wanted but hopefully I'll catch up a little next week!

I Read:


Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would Like To Check In With

Friday 10 April 2015

Book Review: Moonlands; Steven Savile.

I was so excited about getting into this book. The premise intrigued me and I've been wanting to read a good book about magic for a while! Unfortunately I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would, but I can't wait to share my thoughts because there was some good mixed with the disappointing.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Moonlands
AUTHOR: Steven Savile
PAGES: 279
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance

RATING: 2/5 Stars

Fifteen-year-old Ashley has a complicated life. There’s no doubt her overachieving parents love her, but they are wrapped up in their own worlds for so much of the time it leaves her feeling like she’s alone.

Like a lot of teenagers, Ashley dreams of other worlds, but unlike a lot of teenagers her world is about to collapse as rifts to an ancient Fae Kingdom begin to open all around her. With the arrival of of a supernatural hit-squad intent on killing her, and an unexpected inheritance, Ashley’s London is about to become a magical and mysterious war zone where the prize is Ashley herself.

Ashley has to find out the secrets of her own life before she is killed.

What I Liked:
  • The first part of the book really grabbed me! The opening chapter was really enjoyable and honestly, I thought I had possibly found a new favourite right there and then. Savile seemed to have thought really hard about the world he was building and the creatures that were in it. Some of them even felt really original (such as the Nightgaunt), or at least a new take on the classic mythical creatures we all know and love.
  • The world-building in this book is something that remained consistently good throughout. I've mentioned the originality of some of the magical parts, but I was really impressed with Savile's knowledge of London throughout the book. It was so precise and detailed, and living in London meant I recognised most of the places mentioned! 
What I Disliked:
  • Despite a strong beginning, the story began to lose it's pace (and my interest) as I reached the middle and beyond. Savile is very wordy with his descriptions and I found that the more I read, the more I found he was just saying the same thing but in a hundred different ways. It took up a lot of book time that could have been focused on development (one example being that at the end, he took a good two or three pages to explain the events of a few seconds) and I found the way he went about his explanations read more like an instruction manual in some instances. He was quite fond of short sentences too which grated after a while.
  • I really thought that the ending had the potential to save the book, when we finally got to see the Moonlands. Unfortunately at this point, it felt like Savile realised he was running out of book space and dramatically rushed those final chapters. It was a shame because his world-building was so good it would have been nice to be able to fully appreciate it for a second or two. This rushing also meant a great deal of insta-love and out of character decisions I'm afraid.
Overall Conclusion:
I felt like Savile was very much focused on the here and now with this book. He could write a three thousand word essay on what that character was thinking and doing at that moment, but I really wanted a moment to learn more about their pasts and personalities. I liked the characters and they, along with everything else, had so much potential. Blackwater Blaze was a really interesting viewpoint and I liked him and Ash as a couple, but their romance (along with the last third of the plot) moved far too quickly and made very little sense. Also I want to see a gradual development when somebody changes their ways, not a complete personality change in two seconds flat. There were some great moments in the book, as I've mentioned before with the world-building and knowledge, but the pacing and writing style were off so it took a nose-dive from being potentially a fantastic book to an okay, slightly disappointing one. I did like the cliffhanger at the end though and I would be interested to read a sequel if there was to be one.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Characters I Would Like To Check In With'.

What a great (and very difficult) topic! I'm going to seriously struggle with this one because most of the books I read, I want to check in on the characters afterwards! Still, at least I will definitely have ten!

1) Jean-Baptiste Baratte from 'Pure'; Andrew Miller. 

I read this book over a year ago and really enjoyed it! It focused on only one year of a man's life and I really would like to see how he got on with his life after the destruction of Les Innocents. Quite a lot happened in the book that would have had a major impact on his life.

2) Charlie from 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'; Stephen Chbosky.

A lot of people will probably be wondering why I didn't pick Patrick from this book, but I know that Charlie will give me a very factual, detailed account on how everyone is doing, not just himself. I suppose I'm cheating a bit but I would love to hear from the all of the characters in this story.

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

Everyone who read my review for 'Days Of Gods & Monsters' knows that I was a little unimpressed with the ending. You can't just end the book, then ditch the happy ending for a 'Oh by the way, here's a new threat that I had an idea for but can't fit in the book so I'll end it here, sorry'. I would quite like to see Karou and Akiva happy thank you very much!

4) Elizabeth Bennett from 'Pride & Prejudice'; Jane Austen.

This is one of my favourite books and ends really nicely, but I always thought it would be interesting to check back on Elizabeth and Darcy, and find out what they (and indeed their families and friends) are getting up to! Is Elizabeth happy? Did more of her sisters get married? How are Jane and Mr Bingley? So many questions!

5) Any character from any Series set in Tortall; Tamora Pierce.

Am I cheating again? What I love about the books set in Tortall is that they always reference characters we have heard from before. Alanna plays a big part in 'The Immortals' and 'The Protector Of The Small' series, and we see a lot of Daine during books where Kel is a main character. They don't steal the show but they let me know they are happy. I guess what I'm actually asking for is a new series where I get to see my favourite characters again!

6) Luna Lovegood from The 'Harry Potter' Series; J.K. Rowling.

Clearly I want to find out about all of the characters, but Luna is the only one who I don't really remember getting a mention in the 'many years later' scene. In other words, Rowling actually already does this for me but I want a whole book on the matter. I haven't let go of Harry Potter yet.

7) Sarah Grimke from 'The Invention Of Wings'; Sue Monk Kidd.

When I read this book, I was gripped from start to finish. I loved every part of it, but found myself taken aback by how abrupt the ending was. It felt a little like a cliffhanger, despite this being a stand-alone book, so I would love to see how both Sarah and Handful get on after the events of the book! 

8) Ari from 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe'; Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

I adored this book. Though I'm no expert LGBT reader, it's my favourite of the genre, there's no doubt about that! The ending really pleased me too, but I want to see more of Ari and Dante and check in on how they are doing! I think what I want most of all is just to see Ari happy, as he spends a good majority of the book being angry and cynical and not really understanding why.

9) Julia Winterson from 'The Girl Who Chased The Moon'; Sarah Addison Allen.

I really loved this lady's story-line, despite thinking I was there to read more about Emily. I want an update on her relationship with Sawyer and more importantly to find out about them after the end of the book! I won't spoil anything for those who haven't read it, but something really heartwarming happens at the end and I want to see what will obviously play out next actually happen!

10) Mina Harker from 'Dracula'; Bram Stoker.

This book is a recent read of mine and I really liked it! Now, I really want to see a little more of what happened to all of the characters after their supernatural encounter. Did Johnathan and Mina have children? Did Dr. Seward find someone to make him happy? Does Van Helsing track down any more vampires? And what about poor Arthur?! There's something about classics like this that really get me investen in the future of the characters!

Monday 6 April 2015

Last Week's Shenanigans (30th March - 5th April)...

Well, what a week it has been. For a start, my week as a little different to usual because I actually worked Monday instead of Thursday. It meant I was a little tired but I didn't mind because on Thursday, I had a really lovely day with my boyfriend, Mat. We went to Southbank for the afternoon, and walked along the river. There's a lot to see and do in that part of London, we even found a Book Market on our journey! After having something to eat, we made our way to the ITV Studios to watch the live recording of 'The Johnathan Ross Show'. It was of course fantastic and I really enjoyed watching the full-length interviews, as well as watching the filming process take place. It was so interesting to witness! If anyone ever gets the opportunity to be in a TV audience, I would recommend it highly!

After spending the rest of the week working again, Sunday was of course Easter Day (as well as my Mum's birthday)! We did nothing particularly special during the day, but Mat and I went out in the evening to watch McBusted again! I'll be honest: having already seen them twice I was a little worried that I was paying to see the same show again, but I'm so glad I went! They had a totally new idea to accompany their new songs, as well as playing some different songs from their McFly and Busted days to keep things fresh, and the classic crowd-pleasers! I had an amazing time, I can't wait!

Look how close we were when they moved to the small stage! The main stage was awesome too, it looked like a giant Video Game and was even playable! With such a busy week, I haven't had much time for reading but I've not done too badly considering!

I Read:


Life Of A Blogger: Astrology
Six Degrees Of Separation: The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

I Posted:

Sunday 5 April 2015

Book Review: The Winner's Curse; Marie Rutkoski.

I have heard so much about this book on both Goodreads and the blogs that I follow, and I wanted to love it so much. Unfortunately, while I liked it, it didn't grab me in the same way that the hype suggests it should have done. It will be entered as one of my entries for this month's Key Words Challenge however!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Winner's Curse
AUTHOR: Marie Rutkoski
SERIES: The Winner's Trilogy (#1)
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Childrens
PAGES: 369
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

What I Liked:
  • The general plot concept and story-line were such a good idea. Forbidden love is always a trope I quite like reading and racism was a theme nicely interwoven into the story-line. I also quite liked the way that there was no black and white throughout the story. Everything was a grey are: which characters you were supposed to like, who you were meant to root for, whether you liked the decisions they made.
  • Most definitely the last third of the book. It was in my opinion what saved it (more on that later) and made me actually want to read the next book in the series! I felt like more effort was put into it, there was a clear direction that the author was heading towards and it flowed much more nicely than the rest of the book. I was gripped while reading this part!
What I Disliked:
  • The first portion of the book just felt a little disjointed and vague. What I mean by that is it felt rushed: conversations felt unfinished, there wasn't much detail about the world-building as a whole and important plot events felt a little glossed over. As a result I didn't get the connection to the story or characters that I was hoping for from the get-go and that was a bit disappointing.
  • For most of the book, Arin and Kestrel as a couple were a little disappointing. I liked them but I didn't feel completely invested in them like I expected to for one simple reason. There was no real chemistry between them! Mostly, that is because of the reason I mentioned above: there was simply not enough detail put into the world and the characters that lived in it, and the moments between them were often cut short. I appreciated the lack of insta-love I suppose but I didn't really root for them as a couple until the final part of the book.
Overall Conclusion:
While I did enjoy this book, especially the last section when things seemed to flow better and become more interesting, I just felt it was a bit too jumpy. I felt like Rutkoski knew where she wanted the book to end but in her rush to get there, neglected the beginning and middle portions a little. It jumped too much from character to character and I feel like key relationships and events were brushed aside far too much. There was a build in both plot and romance that I liked, and the concept was good, but if the whole book had been like the end section I would have liked it a lot more!

Saturday 4 April 2015

Six Degrees Of Separation (The Rosie Project; Graeme Simsion)

I almost completely forgot about doing this challenge today, but I'm so glad I didn't! Hosted by Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith, click the picture above if you want to know more!

Those of you who have read my Planned Reads for this month will know that this is one of them and I'm really excited about it! It looks so good! I found this chain pretty hard, but I got there in the end!

My first pick feels a little like cheating because I promised myself I wouldn't use books that I have already used. I have never actually used this book per say, but 'All The Birds, Singing' by Evie Wyld was one of Annabel's and Emma's previous picks for this challenge. Still, I don't think that counts as cheating, especially as I read the book after taking part in the challenge, so I'll use it. The similarities are of course that both books are set in Australia and they have Australian (well, Evie Wyld is Anglo-Australian) authors! Other than that, they are completely different. One is a light-hearted entertainment story while the other a brutal, heavy read.

Something about Rene Denfeld's 'The Enchanted' makes me thing of 'All The Birds, Singing'. Both have very heavy atmospheres and touch upon a lot of sensitive topics such as violence, sexual abuse, childhood traumas. I thought the writing style was pretty similar too and I loved the use of Symbolism in both novels to compliment the ongoing story.

'The Girl Who Chased The Moon', by Sarah Addison Allen, might seem like quite a light-hearted, fluffy read compared to my previous pick but there is a connection. Magical Realism itself can be quite a broad genre and I feel like both books use it in different ways, but it is there in both cases. I really enjoyed both reads and count them as two of my favourites in my limited encounters with this genre.

My next pick is 'Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea' by April Genevieve Tucholke. Part of the charm that comes from 'The Girl Who Chased The Moon' is it's Southern setting. I've never been an overly huge fan of Southern Gothic books but then I guess, I haven't read many! Both books definitely have that kind of vibe to them though and I loved it. As well as that, the lead romantic males are both mysterious strangers with a dark secret/power that draws in the lead female. A pretty common trope I guess, but there's the connection.

While on the subject of the slightly paranormal, and that is certainly what I would call my previous pick, Becca Fitzpatrick's 'Hush, Hush' definitely falls along those lines. Of course the mysterious boy here is an angel (at least, a fallen one) rather than 'the Devil' but they both fall along the similar lines of bad boy falling for a sweet, innocent girl. And just look at the colour scheme for those covers! Come on that's a match made in heaven!

On to my last choice, 'Dreams Of Gods & Monsters' by Laini Taylor. This book always springs to mind at the very mention of angels, and it's no surprise because there are plenty to be found within the pages. There's a sort of forbidden love story in both books too, and that adds another interesting connection between the two.

Not a bad list, I certainly went down the Paranormal romance route in the end didn't I? It's amazing how much of a far cry it is from this month's book but there you go!