Sunday 31 January 2016

January Wrap-Up.

What an improvement on December! Guys I'm so excited because I'm pretty sure this is the first time ever that I have managed to beat the schedule and read all seven of the reads that I planned to! I managed my time a lot better this month which was part of the reason I'm sure.

  1. 'The Lovely Bones'; Alice Sebold. This was my crossover book that I finished at the beginning of the month, having started it in December. I enjoyed the film when I watched it all those years ago so had high expectations. I have to say that I liked the writing a lot and the interesting way that Sebold chose to present the story. I didn't enjoy Susie's bland viewpoint and lack of feeling towards Earth's events, nor did I like the ending very much. 3/5 Stars.
  2. 'Dot'; Araminta Hall. This book took me by surprise because I didn't expect to enjoy it half as much as I did. I originally requested it believing it to be some kind of ghost story, and though it didn't live up to those expectations it still turned out to be a worthwhile read covering issues such as teenage pregnancy and turbulent relationships well. I liked the story build-up though it was a bit of a slow starter. 4/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Fox & The Star' by Coralie Bickford-Smith. This adorable children's story had my attention caught the moment I saw it sitting on the Waterstones display. I took a wile to decide to buy it but don't regret my choice for a second. A charming story paired with gorgeous, unique illustrations catches my attention any day. I would love to see more books by this lovely lady and hope to be able to read them to children of my own one day. 4.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'This Raging Light'; Estelle Laure. Being a fairly new release (and an ARC for that particular version)  I was pretty excited to read this book. I'd heard so much about it and I'm determined to read more YA Contemporary this year, so this made a good starting point. I really liked the idea behind the plot. Mental Health is something I've always thought important to cover in YA, and too few books focus on abandonment and neglect as a topic. I thought the romance side of things felt unnecessary to the plot, particularly as it wasn't shone in a very nice light. Some plot points felt a little ridiculous and unbelievable too, though the fast pace kept me hooked from beginning to end. 2.5/5 Stars.
  5. 'The Dark Days Club'; Alison Goodman. Man am I glad I decided to enter that Maximum Pop! competition on a whim. I am so honoured to have received an ARC for this book and it is definitely one of my favourite reads this year. It's pace was pretty slow as Goodman is so meticulous in her approach to detail, but on the flip side it meant superb world-building and a slow-burning romance that sent the good kind of chills down my spine. As a retelling of one of my favourite books, 'Pride & Prejudice', I didn't expect it to give me Elizabeth and Darcy feels but I underestimated it's power. I hope Book Two isn't a long wait. 5/5 Stars.
  6. 'Winter'; Marissa Meyer. And here is my other favourite read this month. How lucky that two perfect books fell so closely together! This series finale was one that I had been looking forward to reading since it's release in November 2015 and I was certainly not disappointed. The sheer size of the book did mean a different sort of pace than I was used to with this series, but it didn't take me long to adjust and throw myself head first back into the world of The Lunar Chronicles. The ending was perfect too! I look forward to Meyer's future releases. 5/5 Stars.
  7. 'A Study In Scarlet'; Arthur Conan Doyle. The cover picture is a little misleading but no, I didn't read the entire thing. Just the first story. It was an enjoyable read too and I'm so happy I managed to get round to it! I was expecting it to be much longer, but I felt it was a solid introduction to the legendary character of Sherlock Holmes (who was everything I wanted him to be) and was surprised in a good way by the inclusion of an almost Wild West style back-story. I can't wait to read more of these stories in the future. 4/5 Stars.
This month I have read three books for Pretty Deadly Review's Backlist Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to three. This month's reads were:

- 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold
- 'Dot' by Araminta Hall
- 'A Study In Scarlet' by Arthur Conan Doyle

This month I have read two books for Falling For YA's Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to two. This month's reads were:

- 'Dot' by Araminta Hall
- 'This Raging Light' by Estelle Laure

This month I have gained twelve points for Novel Heartbeat and Writer Grrl Reads' Prequel & Sequel Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to twelve. This month's points were as thus:

- +2 for 'Winter' by Marissa Meyer.
- +10 for 'Winter' by Marissa Meyer.

This month I have read two books for [un]Conventional Reviews' New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to two. This month's reads were:

- 'This Raging Light' by Estelle Laure
- 'The Dark Days Club' by Alison Goodman

This month I have read two books for The Daily Prophecy's Retelling Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to two. This month's reads were:

- 'The Dark Days Club' by Alison Goodman
- 'Winter' by Marissa Meyer

Here's how my Bookish Bingo and Story Sprites boards are looking right now!

Snow On Cover: Dot; Araminta Hall. 
Multi-POV: A Feast For Crows; George R.R. Martin.
Series Finale: Winter; Marissa Meyer.
Fantasy: Stealing Phoenix; Joss Stirling.
Pink Cover: This Raging Light; Estelle Laure.
A Friend's Fave: Red Glove; Holly Black.
Freebie: A Study In Scarlet; Arthur Conan Doyle.
White Cover: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest; Ken Kesey.
Graphic Novel: The Fox & The Star; Coralie Bickford-Smith.
Start A New Series: The Dark Days Club; Alison Goodman.
Blue Cover: The Lovely Bones; Alice Sebold.

Clairvoyance/Sixth Sense: The Lovely Bones; Alice Sebold.
Single Word Title: Dot; Araminta Hall.
Novel With A Rebellion: Winter; Marissa Meyer.
Book-To-Movie Adaptation: A Study In Scarlet; Arthur Conan Doyle.
Enchanted Forest: The Fox & The Star; Coralie Bickford-Smith.
Supernatural Feud: The Dark Days Club; Alison Goodman.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Book Review: A Study In Scarlet; Arthur Conan Doyle.

I can't believe it. I managed to read all seven of the books that I said I would this month! I can't remember the last time I managed that, if in fact I've even managed it at all. It's probably got a lot to do with my lovely boyfriend drawing me up a schedule to help me manage my time better. Since then I've felt like I have more time to sit down and read without interruption. Anyway, I'm entering this read into the 'Monthly Motif' challenge too.

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: The Complete Sherlock Holmes (A Study In Scarlet)
AUTHOR: Arthur Conan Doyle
SERIES: Sherlock Holmes (#1)
PUBLISHER: Barnes & Noble Classics
GENRE: Mystery, Classics, Historical Fiction

RATING: 4/5 Stars

In the debut of literature's most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. 

The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio's Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. 

Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

What I Liked:
  • I've watched a fair few Sherlock Holmes Film and TV adaptations in my time, my favourite being the series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I was a little afraid that the actual characters in the book would not be like their adapted counterparts, but I needn't have worried. Holmes was every bit the arrogant but ingenious sociopath I had been expecting and Dr Watson his ever awestruck but despairing sidekick. I can already feel the bromance vibes and I love it. Lestrade & Gregson were also a great character and I look forward to seeing more of him in future stories.
  • The plot was pretty good considering it's length. As expected of a whodunnit, it held plenty of twists and turns to keep interest in the story and contained more plot elements than I expected it to. My favourite part of the story actually ended up being the Wild West style portion that explained the villain's motives and reasoning behind his actions and made for a decent story all on it's own. This, for me, was where Doyle's writing really shone.
What I Disliked:
  • I guess the length was a minor issue fr me. This story was so short. It was a neat little mystery, it's true, but I'm used to reading books where finding the perpetrator takes a lot longer than 30 or so pages. Maybe a third attempted murder whereby Holmes catches him in the act would have been a nice addition to the story. Still, it was the first in a long line of mysteries and I have to admit, this was not a huge issue for me.
Overall Conclusion:
For me this was a great start to what promises already to be a fun series full of mystery. I am disappointed in myself for not having started it sooner and can't wait to get deeper into the lives of the characters (particularly Holmes & Watson), meet some more, and watch this legendary detective's story play out. I have a long way to go of course but this was the perfect introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes and I can only hope for longer stories in the future.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Book Review: Winter; Marissa Meyer.

I had a few nightmares that I would fall into old patterns and not get round to reading this book but I did it! And not only that, but I managed to read this beast of a book in less than three days (I read the last fifty pages or so today, does that even count?). I'm so excited to share my thoughts on what could possibly be the best book I've read this year, and amazing finale to a wonderful series.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Winter
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
SERIES: The Lunar Chronicles (#4)
PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends
PAGES: 824
GENRE: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling

RATING: 5/5 Stars

When Princess Winter was thirteen, the rumour around the Lunar court was that her glamour would soon be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. In a fit of jealousy, Levana disfigured Winter. Four years later, Winter has sworn off the use of her glamour altogether. Despite her scars, Winter’s natural beauty, her grace, and her gentleness are winning admiration from the Lunar people that no amount of mind-control could achieve.

Winter despises her stepmother, but has never dreamed of standing up to her. That is, until she realizes that she may be the only one with the power to confront the queen. 

Can Cinder, Prince Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne, Princess Winter, and the palace guard Jacin find their happily ever afters?

What I Liked:
  • Where do I begin? How about some focus on the newest additions to the Lunar Chronicles world: Princess Winter and Jacin. They both played minor roles in 'Cress' but in this final installment the focus was all on them and I loved them both. I have remained thoroughly impressed with Meyer's diversity and that did not stop here. Princess Winter was not only POC (an interesting and brilliant choice given that she's based on the character of Snow White) but also suffered from debilitating mental health issues. As a result, the loving relationship between these two became even more poignant and they fit in nicely with the rest of the established characters.
  • The world-building was probably the best I've seen in this series to date. To start with, we finally got to see and experience Lunar through it's Capital City Artemisia. It's structure was vaguely reminiscent of 'The Hunger Games's' Capital and outlying districts but it felt very fresh also. It was nice to see a totally new place in it's entirety and Meyer built up a stunning visualisation of a previously unseen world.
  • Let's talk about plot. This is quite a lengthy book so it comes as no surprise that it's full of plenty of twists and turns to keep readers going. I have to say the second half of the book was probably my favourite, as it's when the severity of the situation really managed to shine through and the pace dramatically increased. I don't often say this about series finales but I loved the ending! It truly was the happily ever after that I've come to expect from Fairy Tales and desperately wanted to see for these characters. Perfect!
What I Disliked:
  • I wouldn't necessarily call this a dislike but the length of the book did originally throw me off. With 'Cinder' and 'Scarlet' being pretty short and 'Cress' not a whole lot longer, this book is huge! That's good because Meyer got to focus on all the characters that I knew and loved, not just Winter. However for those that were loving how short this series was and it's fast-pace prepare for a shock. There's a much longer build-up in the first half and I had to take some time to re-adjust.
Overall Conclusion:
I loved this book so much! I think of the whole series, 'Cress' remains my favourite but this was a wonderful finale to a series that has been close to my heart since the moment I started reading it. The world-building blew me away, the characters were diverse and well developed and I really liked the plot. The romance too was a big factor for me, I will ship every one of the couples that Meyer introduced to me until the day I die. There's a book boyfriend in here for everyone too: pick from sweet and courageous Kai, protective and strong Wolf, hilarious and charming Thorne or brooding and loyal Jacin. The choice is yours! I'm looking forward to getting a copy of 'Fairest' and owning 'Stars Above' when it's released because I can't get enough of this book!

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: My picks for 'Things I Would Like To See More Of In YA'.

This week's freebie is supposed to be something close to my heart and this definitely falls under that topic. Originally I was going to do something Fairy Tale related but I've plugged so many re-tellings on this blog that it's time to draw attention to what I've been missing in stories over the years.

1) Anxiety. 

This is actually something that I suffer from a lot and I rarely see in YA. It's quite a common disorder but for some reason it's excluded a lot. I've never been able to figure out why but I know I want to see more of it because the lack of Anxiety in books is one factor that makes those that suffer from it feel like it's just them

2) Puberty.

Acne, tender boobs, hair sprouting up left right and centre, periods. All things that happen to every teen. Also things that are rarely mentioned in YA, if at all. Young teens don't just have to worry about meeting their one true love, or deciding on the best clothes to wear, or getting the best grades in school. Puberty can be really tough, and weird for a lot of people (boys and girls alike). It would be nice to see it actually talked about.

3) Realistic Sex.

When I read about sex, especially in YA, it's described as some kind of out of this world experience. As romantic as this sounds and as wonderful as sex can be a lot of the time, I want to read about something a bit more realistic. Sex can be funny, and messy, and by describing it as like touching starlight it actually creates a lot of unrealistic expectations and pressure.

4) Masturbation.

The only masturbation I read about is always male. And it's normally preceded by opinions of disgust or mockery. Masturbation is actually perfectly natural and it's something that both men and women do. And women don't just do it to please men either so please don't just write a scene in like that. 

5) Ethnic Diversity.

There are too many books written from the POV of white people. I love it when I see a more ethnically diverse cast list, especially if the MC is a POC. The truth is I like to learn about other cultures, and reading about it is an ideal way to do it!

6) Real Teens.

There are so many unrealistic Teen POVs in YA. Conversations don't quite sound right or behaviours. Not only that, but these teenagers often seemed to think they can solve problems by themselves without any kind of adult help. It's pretty unrealistic especially as they often act rather immaturely. 

7) Friendship.

Can I get some recommendations on books about one boy and one girl meeting and becoming the best of friends. Don't get me wrong, I like reading romance in YA to an extent, but it would be nice just to see a bit more friendship going around. Finding a boyfriend when you're a teen is not the biggest thing to be worrying about, making friends is! 

8) LGBT Romance.

Yikes, there is so not enough of this around. I've read some books that contain LGBT romance, and also importantly, LGBT sex. For the most part, if there are any LGBT characters they tend to be side characters so don't do a whole lot other than exist. 

9) Well Developed Villains.

There's a surprising number of YA books that involve villains with little to no motive and it's just unimaginative. People don't tend to do bad things for the sake of it, I like to see the reasoning behind their horrible actions. It does't matter if the 'villain' is a school bully or a tyrannical ruler of a Fantasy world. I want to know why.

10) Mental Health.

This is pretty fresh in my mind because the most recent UKYA Chat covered this topic. It's so important that mental health is talked about, especially in YA. Young teens need to know that they can talk freely about their issues and that most people who suffer from mental disorders are perfectly friendly and approachable. It would be one step towards removing this subject from the taboo list!

Monday 25 January 2016

Last Week's Shenanigans (18th January - 24th January)...

I am ever so slightly shocked at just how fast January is disappearing before my eyes! Time seems to be going pretty quickly as of late, but I'm extremely proud of my reading progress this month too. It's certainly a lot better than December's! This week as a whole has been pretty tame for me as it was mostly filled with work. Mat and I finished Season 1 of 'Agents Of Shield' (which we loved) and are saving Season 2 (to my utter dismay) in order to get through some other series we'd been hoping to watch. Our current choice is 'Arrow' which many of my friends have recommended to me. It's pretty good so far, and we've just finished Episode 5 so plenty more to go.

In terms of actually doing anything, I only really did something special on Monday. During the afternoon, I set off on the train to go and meet up with a couple of my Uni friends (something I was supposed to do the week before but couldn't due to a terrible cold that knocked me for six). I had a lot of fun: we wandered the shops, ate out at TGI Fridays, spent some time in their new flat and most importantly I got to meet their six month old baby for the first time ever! He was absolutely adorable and I had a lot of fun catching up with some people that I haven't seen in quite a long time! All in all, an ace start to the week.

I Read:

I Received:

- 'Siege & Storm' by Leigh Bardugo: Bought in Paperback (18/1)


Thursday 21 January 2016

Book Review (ARC): The Dark Days Club; Alison Goodman.

As today is the release date for this awesome book, I thought I'd post my review of the lovely ARC I got to read beforehand! This is definitely one of the best series beginnings I've read in a while, and I absolutely adored it from start to finish! I'm also entering it into the Key Words Challenge.

SOURCE: Giveaway Win
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Dark Days Club
AUTHOR: Alison Goodman
SERIES: Lady Helen (#1)
PUBLISHER: Walker Books
PAGES: 496
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

RATING: 5/5 Stars

London, April 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation to the Queen. Her life should be about gowns and dancing, and securing a suitable marriage. Instead, when one of her family's housemaids goes missing, Lady Helen is drawn to the shadows of Regency London.

There, she finds William, the Earl of Carlston. He has noticed the disappearance too, and is one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of powerful demons that has infiltrated every level of society. But Lady Helen’s curiosity is the last thing Carlston wants—especially when he sees the searching intelligence behind her fluttering fan. Should Helen trust a man whose reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her headstrong sense of justice lead them both into a death trap?

What I Liked:
  • Let's start with Lady Helen & Lord Carlston, who were the comparative Darcy & Elizabeth in this very loose 'Pride & Prejudice' retelling. I don't normally like those sorts of comparisons, but this one was spot on! Elizabeth & Darcy gave me a very particular type of feels that few book couples can replicate, but Goodman managed it! I loved their slow-building romance, I liked that Goodman didn't let a whole lot happen between them. A slower pace is much preferred to insta-love. And yet the tension. Good lord it was excruciatingly heated at times, I don't know how Lady Helen coped! I'd like to see more of these two in Book Two for sure!
  • Goodman certainly did her homework for this book! It's set in 1812 so I expected to see a lot of ball gowns and duchesses and carriages and such, but the level of detail went far beyond my expectations. Goodman had a very clear idea of exactly what life was like in that time (particularly for the women). Political and cultural events played an important role in the shaping of the plot, famous figures cameoed at various social events, and to the letter Goodman got the inner workings of a household in exquisite detail. Everyone knows I love good world-building and this went far beyond my expectations.
  • The plot itself was very well structured and full of some very satisfying twists and turns. I mentioned the romance variant but that actually took a back seat for most of the book so the reader could focus on the main plot: Lady Helen's self discovery. I liked that Goodman worked so hard to make her different from other ladies, wanting more than her station should allow, and yet not so modern that she actually thought she deserved them. The sad truth is that most women in that era believed they were inferior to men and most author's writing from this time period make the mistake of writing very modern ideals with a historical background. Goodman balanced it perfectly and Helen was by no means demure, just clever enough to keep her opinions to herself and use her position to her advantage.
What I Disliked:
  • I already mentioned the slow-burning romance but I have to say that this does apply to the rest of the book as well. The blurb implies a very quick transition from her presentation to demon-hunting. This is not the case. There's a lot of mystery solving, Goodman is very detailed with her descriptions and the pace (particularly in the first half) is rather slow. Personally I had little problem with this, especially as the second half of the book paced itself much better. Others who like to get through a story quickly will struggle immensely.
Overall Conclusion:
What a book! It's been a while since I enjoyed anything quite so much, especially a series' first book. I really think this book pretty much ticked off the entire check list: fantastically detailed world-building, memorable characters, great plot-line, a sizzling romance and the promise of more to come. At times the pacing was a little slow and there were certainly moments that could have been cut from the book to speed things up and save page space. I think the rest more than made up for this however and this impressive first installment has me desperate to read Book Two already! Now I just have to wait...

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I've Recently Added To My TBR List'.

Well I shouldn't find it hard to complete this list because I am constantly adding books to my TBR! I think every book lover suffers with the same issue and I can't wait to see what everyone's list looks like!

1) 'Not If I See You First'; Eric Lindstrom.

This was a very recent addition because I saw it on Netgalley and it caught my attention! Not very long after, I was approved so I'll be getting to this read at some point. I'm always looking for diverse characters in books and the MC for this one is blind, which should be interesting. I'm looking forward to it!

2) 'My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales'; Kate Bernheimer et al.

I saw this book in Foyles while I was out adventuring in London recently and just had to add it to the TBR pile straight away! I love Fairy Tales! Not only that, but it's been a long time since I've read any short stories and I would love to get back into those kind of collections. A large number of Authors went into the making of this book, so I'll probably be adding much more to my TBR once I've finished this.

3) 'Crow Moon'; Anna McKerrow. 

This book is not normally the kind of thing I would add to the TBR, especially as the synopsis didn't completely wow me. However, it has been recommended to me a lot by various Twitter buddies and when they explained the rough story to me, I got a lot more excited. It's set in England too so that's even more reason to give it a chance!

4) 'Six-Gun Snow White'; Catherynne M. Valente. 
It's no great secret that I became more than a little enchanted by Western as a genre in 2015 thanks to Erin Bowman's 'Vengeance Road'. Since then I've been on the lookout for another that could enchant me in the same way and this seems to have what it takes. It's a Fairy Tale western!!! Two great genres combined!!! Also, I've heard great things about Valente's work.

5) 'Taken'; Erin Bowman.
Speaking of Erin Bowman, this is the first in a series that she had out before 'Vengeance Road' that I'd love to try. It's a little more on the Dystopian line but the synopsis is pretty intriguing and I'm desperate to read more work by this Author as soon as possible. 

6) 'Exit, Pursued By A Bear'; E.K. Johnston.
This is another Author whose work I loved in 2015 and I want to read something else by. As it's another retelling, I'm thrilled by the idea of it because it's based on the work of Shakespeare, my all time favourite playwright! I haven't seen 'A Winter's Tale' done an awful lot in Shakespearean retellings, most people go for the greats like 'Hamlet' or 'Othello'. I'd be interested to see such a story in a modern setting.

7) 'The Muse'; Jessie Burton.

Clearly I've been thinking back to some of the Authors I've read and loved in the past while adding books to the TBR as of late, because Jessie Burton's 'The Miniaturist' was a huge hit with me late 2014. This book has been on my radar for a while, but has been very recently given a cover and I am buzzing with anticipation to read it.

8) 'To The Bright Edge Of The World'; Eowyn Ivey.

Another book by an Author I adored in 2014 and whose new and upcoming release has finally got a cover of it's very own! 'The Snow Child' was a haunting tale of heartbreak set in Alaska and this too will be set there. Ivey built that setting very well so I'm glad that she's decided to return there with this book! The synopsis promises a magical thread too which really excites me.

9) 'The Light That Gets Lost'; Natasha Carthew.

I can't actually recall how I found this book or why it ended up on my TBR but I am pretty intrigued by the synopsis. YA Contemporary is a genre I'd like to read a lot more of this year and this one looks to be a good one to pick up (though it has received fairly mixed reviews so far). It's blurb is full of mystery and the cover is pretty nice too! 

10) 'Illuminae'; Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

How did I only just put this on my TBR you ask? The answer is I have no clue! When I was reflecting on last week's list, I realised that I'd missed this one off but had no idea why. It was only when I hurried onto Goodreads that I found I had not even added it onto my TBR and promptly did so. It's a mystery, but don't worry: I've rectified my mistake and I really want to read this book.

Monday 18 January 2016

Last Week's Shenanigans (11th January - 17th January)...

Yikes, what a week it has been this week! Firstly, on Monday morning, I woke up feeling very ill. I had to cancel the plans I had made with my friends and proceeded to have a three day long, horrendous cold which I am still feeling some minor effects from even now. Where it came from I have no idea but I had to take time off of work because if it which was not ideal. Nevertheless, I returned to work on Thursday feeling better and have now almost fully recovered. Phew!

The most exciting part of my week therefore was the trip to the Lumiere Light Festival in London on Sunday evening! Previously Mat and I had planned to see The Hateful Eight at the cinema but we postponed that because Sunday was the last day. I'm really glad we did too because there were some really cool light installations in some of the most popular areas of London. It was super busy of course (I heard that they had to close early on Saturday due to the hugely uncontrollable crowds) but that only added to the feeling of enchantment and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it!

I Read:

I Received:

- 'Let The Right One In' by John Ajvide Lindqvist: Bought in Paperback (15/1)
- 'Not If I See You First' by Eric Lindstrom: Approved by Netgalley (15/1)


Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Book Review (ARC): This Raging Light; Estelle Laure.

Wowee, another book finished in just a day! Despite feeling pretty horrendous this week, I'm actually being quite productive in the reading department! I'd been looking forward to this read a lot too, so I'm glad I got round to it as quickly as I did.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: This Raging Light
AUTHOR: Estelle Laure
PUBLISHER: HMH Books For Young Readers
PAGES: 312
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother.

What I Liked:
  • This book was pretty fast-paced and I liked that most of all. Laure did not beat about the bush when getting to the point so I felt totally sucked in by what was going on all the time. There were a lot of twists and turns throughout and plot-wise, it moved in a very definite direction with utter confidence. Sometimes little to no build up is a bad thing but in this case it didn't feel that way. I liked being plopped into the middle of the situation and being pulled along for the ride.
  • Laure wrote her perspectives very well and handled a subject that I rarely see in books, especially YA: child abandonment. She wrote from Lucille's perspective, a seventeen year old girl left to fend for herself and look after her sister after her Mother takes an extended vacation to 'get away'. In a lot of ways, despite a slightly immature perspective for a seventeen year old, I felt like I appreciated a lot more how difficult coping with something like that can be. Lucille is under a lot of pressure to feed them both and pay bills, deal with school, work an almost full time job and keep up appearances so that no one will suspect the two of them are alone.
What I Disliked:
  • As I said, Lucille is under a lot of pressure in this novel so in my opinion, the last thing she needed was a love interest. And I'm not talking about the kind that is there to save the day or help her to cope with what's happening. I'm talking about the kind that already has a long-term girlfriend, can't make up his mind, and is adding a lot more stress into an already stressful situation with plenty of plot points to keep it going. At times it felt like there was just a little too much going on.
  • The ending was probably my biggest disappointment because as quickly as it started, it felt like it just...stopped. As I said there were a fair few plot-lines and none of them were resolved very well. I was left with so many questions! The one mystery that was solved also seemed to be a little unrealistic and cheesy for me. In an effort to make all of the characters likeable by helping Lucille out, it also made them seem a bit irresponsible.
Overall Conclusion:
As I said before, my feelings are quite mixed with this book. The writing really impressed me because it had such great energy and I enjoyed the fast pace. The plot was quite well thought out too and I really felt for Lucille, the main character, having to juggle so much at once. I didn't dislike Digby but I didn't rally get why the romance had to happen. It felt like an unnecessary stress. Ambiguous endings really disappoint me too so while I had a great start, I left on a bit of a low. It definitely kept my attention throughout though and overall was a fun, light read to get me through a pretty horrible cold!

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for '2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't'.

Wow there are so many books that could go on this list because honestly, I was a little bit rubbish with 2015 releases. I tried very hard to concentrate on my Backlist last year so they were not the priority. I have a few I'm dying to read still that are high priority this year, so I can at least feel a little bit caught up.

1) 'Winter' by Marissa Meyer.

This wasn't released until towards the end of 2015 but I'm still so disappointed I didn't get to it last year! It was my most anticipated read by far, the one I'd been waiting for all year! I'm normally pretty rubbish at finishing series but I've not been with this one so far because it's amazing! It's on this month's TBR and I can only hope that I'll get to it because I want to find out what happens with this gorgeous series!

2) 'Wolf By Wolf' by Ryan Graudin.

Having enjoyed 'The Walled City' by the same author, when I saw this book was coming out I vowed to read it at some point. Illumicrate, the new UK YA Subscription box, absolutely made my day when they sent me a copy in November but unfortunately I didn't get round to reading it in time for the end of the year. I plan to read it as soon as possible, maybe February/March time as the synopsis really does look very cool!

3) 'Golden Son' by Pierce Brown.

This is probably my most disappointing missed release because it came out all the way back in January 2015! A whole year ago! How have I not found time to read this? Especially as I enjoyed 'Red Rising' so much, and 'Morning Star' is due out in less than a month. It's shameful really, but I will get to this one soon, and hopefully won't take as long to read 'Morning Star' afterwards!

4) 'Red Queen' by Victoria Aveyard.

On a similar thread, this book has been compared a lot to 'Red Rising' but with more of a Fantasy base than sci-fi. It was high on the list because so many people adored it and recommended it to me, but once again I'm in the same boat: 'Glass Sword' (which I have an ARC of) is almost out and I have not read the first book yet. I'm fairly certain I'll enjoy it so I'm hoping to read this next month, if I have the time!

5) 'The Wrath & The Dawn' by Renee Ahdieh.

This was a book that was often compared to a read I did get round to last year, 'A Thousand Nights', and yet this one came onto my radar first. Both are based on the framing story of 'One Thousand & One Nights' but I've heard they do things very differently. I'm really intrigued to see what this read brings to the table. It's part of a series too, and the second book is due to come out May this year so I ought to get to it ASAP.

6) 'A Court Of Thorns & Roses' by Sarah J. Maas.

I read a similar book that was published an absolute age ago, 'Valiant' by Holly Black, and loved the concept of Beauty & The Beast mixed with Faerie lore. This is by far the book I've seen most around the Blogosphere with high praise and much acclaim, it's a popular 2015 read. One that I missed. I'm pretty ashamed in all honesty because this is exactly the kind of story I love! Fairy Tale retellings are my favourite! I cannot let another year go by without reading it as the sequel is out this year also.

7) 'The Rest Of Us Just Live Here' by Patrick Ness.

I've only had one of the many Patrick Ness reading experiences I should have had by now, but I loved it! When I saw this book coming out, and the subject was a Zombie Apocalypse of all things, I knew I wanted it. Sadly, I didn't get round to it or even manage to purchase it as planned but I'm massively excited about reading it this year at some point anyway. Something a bit different to my usual read is exactly what I need and from an Author I've massively liked in the past? What could go wrong?!

8) 'All The Bright Places' by Jennifer Niven.

Not many Contemporary reads really get me excited but I remember seeing this one and thinking 'Wow!'. I really wanted to read it after seeing it pop up on a ton of Goodreads and Amazon adverts, so finally caved and bought it for myself. After that I never actually got to read it but I still really want to. I never forgot about it because recently I've been craving books that deal with the subject of Grief/Death (a bit morbid I know, I'm not sure why) and I think this would be a really good one to try.

9) 'Hidden Huntress' by Danielle L. Jensen.

Words cannot express how frustrated I am with myself for not getting round to this book yet. I loved Stolen Songbird so much and vowed that as soon as I could, I would read the next in the series. I was horrified when I found out I had missed it on Netgalley but still really wanted to read it anyway. Have I? Of course not because I'm absolutely rubbish and seriously have no excuse. The third book in the series is due out this year so I seriously must continue with this series and manage to keep up this time!

10) 'Six Of Crows' by Leigh Bardugo.

Every time I see this title, my heart clenches a bit because I haven't read it. I actually won this from entering into the Story Sprites challenge and the copy that I now own is absolutely stunning. However I got hold of it late in the year and didn't have the time in my schedule to read it. Not only that, but I'm still feeling guilty about not having read 'Siege & Storm' or 'Ruin & Rising' and so they really needed to be high on the priority list first. I now have the third of that series and the second is on it's way so in my eyes, it's only a matter of time before I finish them and can move onto this one!