Tuesday 31 May 2016

May Wrap-Up.

This reading month didn't end up being as successful as previous ones this year, but it's easy to see why! I've been so busy what with my birthday, and preparing to go on holiday etc. I've achieved five of my seven planned reads, and I haven't enjoyed them all as much as I'd hoped though there have been a couple of great ones. I'm glad I got through them!

  1. 'A Court Of Thorns & Roses'; Sarah J. Maas. This was such a great read that I really enjoyed. Good characters, interesting world-building and such potential! I felt like Maas held back a little with the details, and I'm not sure how I feel about Tamlin, Feyre's love interest. Characters such as Lucien & Rhysand however I loved, and I can't wait to get to 'A Court Of Mist & Fury'. 3.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Thief With No Shadow'; Emily Gee. This was a charming, strangely sweet little story despite some of the weirder sexual connotations it had throughout. I did enjoy it, particularly the glimpses of a nicely thought out world that Gee has built. The problem is, that Gee didn't really delve deep. Most of the plot was in a house, waiting for someone to wake up and watching Melke do the washing or Bastian go to the market. I would have liked a little more exploration if I'm honest. 3/5 Stars.
  3. 'Allegiant'; Veronica Roth. This was the big one for this month, purely because I've been so apprehensive about reading it. My sister warned me that it would disappoint, and she was right. It felt so different from book one, which I adored: Tris & Four quickly became my least favourite characters, the others whizzing out of my memory completely and remaining neutral. The ending had no emotional impact on me whatsoever and only served to highlight that really, nothing had been resolved and there were still a ton of problems. 2.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Pantomime'; Laura Lam. This was definitely my favourite read of the month, and it completely blew away my uncertainty about how much I'd enjoy it. The world-building was magical and enchanting, Lam's writing has a completely bewitching quality that I adored, and her characters were complex and had real personality. The Intersex MC was a real draw for me too, as it explored the androgynous character of Gene/Micah well and despite a slightly weak ending, I am very excited about this series! 5/5 Stars.
  5. 'World After'; Susan Ee. I've been wanting to read the second book of this series for ages, I loved 'Angelfall' so much! There were some great moments in this one, mostly in the form of development. I got to see more of Penryn's family dynamic as well as some world-building. The pacing was just as good as book one too but in terms of plot development, there wasn't an awful lot. The lack of Raffe really marred my experience too, so I had to mark it down. 3/5 Stars.

This month I have read five books for Pretty Deadly Review's Backlist Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to twenty. This month's reads were:

- 'A Court Of Thorns & Roses' by Sarah J. Maas
- 'Thief With No Shadow' by Emily Gee
- 'Allegiant' by Veronica Roth
- 'Pantomime' by Laura Lam
- 'World After' by Susan Ee

This month I have read zero books for Falling For YA's Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge bringing my yearly total so far to eight

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

- +10 for 'Allegiant' by Veronica Roth
- +2 for 'Allegiant' by Veronica Roth
- +2 for 'World After' by Susan Ee

This month I have read zero books for [un]Conventional Reviews' New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to six.

This month I have read one book for Daily Prophecy's Retelling Challenge, bringing my yearly total to five. This month's reads were:

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

And here is my completed Bookish Bingo Card plus Story Sprites board update!

Second Chance: The Invasion Of The Tearling; Erika Johansen.
Non-Binary MC: Pantomime; Laura Lam.
March, April, May Release: The Selection; Kiera Cass.
Criminals: Thief With No Shadow; Emily Gee.
Metallic Lettering: Truthwitch; Susan Dennard.
Book Towards Another Challenge: Golden Son; Pierce Brown.
Green Cover: Thorn; Intisar Khanani.
Freebie: Siege & Storm; Leigh Bardugo.
Retelling: Beauty's Beast; Amanda Ashley.
Set In More Than One Country: The Passenger; Alexandra Bracken.
Characters Are Not Human: World After; Susan Ee.
Rec'd By More Than One Friend: Allegiant; Veronica Roth.
Flowers On Cover: A Court Of Thorns & Roses; Sarah J. Maas.
MC Shares Your 1st Initial: Seven Ways We Lie; Riley Redgate.
Written Under A Pen Name: The Tropic Of Serpents; Marie Brennan.
Number In The Title: The Sign Of The Four; Arthur Conan Doyle.
Non-Fiction: Reasons To Stay Alive; Matt Haig.
Stand-Alone: Read Me Like A Book; Liz Kessler.

Alternative History: The Passenger; Alexandra Bracken.
Non-Fiction Biography: Reasons To Stay Alive; Matt Haig.
Book With Virtual Reality: Allegiant; Veronica Roth.
Book With A Sarcastic Character: The Sign Of The Four; Arthur Conan Doyle.
Female Role Model: Thorn; Intisar Khanani.
Epic Battle Scene In Book: Truthwitch; Susan Dennard.
Story With A Strong Family Bond: Thief With No Shadow; Emily Gee.
Competition Among Characters: The Selection; Kiera Cass.
Setting - Dystopian: World After; Susan Ee.
Theme - Revenge: Beauty's Beast; Amanda Ashley.
Character With Undecided/Unknown Sexuality: Pantomime; Laura Lam.
Tight Male/Male Friendship: A Court Of Thorns & Roses; Sarah J. Maas.

Book Review: World After; Susan Ee.

The second book I managed to read on my travels, and part of a series that my work colleague begged me to continue! Funnily enough, I recommended that she read 'Angelfall' which she did, before completely overtaking me and finishing the series! As this falls under Dystopian and is definitely a story of survival, I'll enter it into the 'Monthly Motif' challenge too.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: World After
AUTHOR: Susan Ee
SERIES: Penryn & The End OF Days (#2)
PAGES: 314
GENRE: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Dystopian

RATING: 3/5 Stars

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister, Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mum is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

What I Liked:
  • Susan Ee's writing was as action-packed and explosive as I remember it! My favourite thing about book one was it's fast pace, and Ee didn't disappoint here either. Every chapter ends on it's own, mini-cliffhanger which makes for a gripping reading experience. In fact, I read a vast majority of this book in one sitting! Despite the long time-gap between books, Ee's characters were obviously deeply embedded in my memory and I never felt lost or confused at any point.
  • I liked that Ee took some time to develop Penryn's family dynamic a bit more in this book. While Penryn's mother was nothing more than a nuisance in book one, I started to get a clearer picture of how her head works and the complicated relationship she has with her children. It was also interesting to watch Paige become more independent and Penryn struggle with the way her sister is now. It added an extra dynamic to the story and made those scenes with Beliel and Paige slightly heart-warming to read.
What I Disliked:
  • Despite the fact that I liked this installment in the series, it still did very much feel like a filler book. The constant jumping from mission to mission with very little direction, the final showdown with a minor villain, etc. The biggest disappointment for me had to be the real lack of Raffe. It's not that I don't like Penryn, but her witty banter with Raffe was sorely missed and it was frustrating that she spent so much of the book without him. I hope that they'll stay together from now on.
Overall Conclusion:
This book had some really great moments, choosing to give the characters and world some much needed development rather than lead the plot anywhere too significant. In some ways I really liked this, but in others it just filled time rather than progressing the story all that much further. Raffe was sorely missed too, appearing about 80% of the way through when I'd really hoped to see some more moments between him and Penryn. Not a bad sequel, but it definitely didn't hold a candle to book one. That being said, I'm still heavily invested in this series. I need to read book three!

Sunday 29 May 2016

Book Review: Pantomime; Laura Lam.

I sure am glad that I ended up on holiday for the last week of May because it gave me a chance to do some much needed catching up with this month's reads. I read a majority of this book on the plane over, and finished it on our relaxation day on Sunday. I am writing these posts after coming back, but I'd still prefer to date them on the days that I actually read them (sorry, it's kind of an OCD thing...).

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Pantomime
AUTHOR: Laura Lam
SERIES: Micah Grey (#1)
PAGES: 400
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBT

RATING: 5/5 Stars

In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more.

Gene's life resembles a debutante's dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities - last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom, not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

What I Liked:
  • The portrayal of an MC Intersex character. In a Fantasy setting. Do I need to go on? I've always shouted loudly and proudly about how much LGBT characters need more attention in YA, and this is a book that does the job beautifully. Gene is very likeable, physically male and female, yet unable to quite identify as either. Quick-thinking, sensitive and feisty, I adored reading from Gene's POV so much and I found it complex, compelling and tumultuous as well as a real learning experience. I really need to read more books from a POV like this one, as it dug deep into the kinds of emotions, situations and social interactions that androgynous people have to deal with every day, despite having a Fantasy setting.
  • The world itself was really nicely woven into the story. I learnt small amounts about the Victorian London-esque Ellada, the Vestige and Penglass, yet not enough for me to build a full picture quite yet. I can't wait to learn more in future books! I loved the circus that most of the book is set in, as well as the various towns and villages it travels to. There were so many interesting places, characters and plot points to be found in this gem of a book!
What I Disliked:
  • I suppose the most disappointing aspect of the story was the ending. While I can see the dramatic climax it provided was also an easy way out of the love triangle situation, I was disappointed that after letting such a huge topic such as domestic violence fade into the background, it then became the climax of the story in a predictable and frustrating fashion. I really hope that this pattern doesn't continue in future books.
Overall Conclusion:
What an amazing, fantastical, enchanting read! This book had it all: a new world to fall in love with and explore, compelling characters with plenty of diversity and interesting, complex emotions and above all, a decent story-line! Th ending was a little weak in comparison to the rest of the book, and I was sad to see the end of some really strong female characters, but all in all I'm ridiculously excited about the potential this series has!

Wednesday 25 May 2016

I'm off to Italy! = Hiatus...

That's right everyone, I'm off on holiday! To Italy in fact, for a week from Friday 27th May. What that means is I won't be around to do much in the way of posting, so this is my official Hiatus post!

This holiday falls at the difficult crossover time of the end of May/beginning of June. While this month hasn't been overly productive on the reading front, I have no idea what I will and won't have finished by the time May actually ends, but I will continue with my May planned reads into June and see how I get on. I have plans to schedule a couple of posts in preparation for my time off but I'm not sure how well I'll achieve this as I have a lot to do in the next couple of days. Anything I don't get done I shall have to do upon my return!

Of course I will be posting all of my shenanigans when I return, and I'm excited to have a really nice, relaxing holiday after a stressful week and hopefully get a lot of reading done on the plane! Here's hoping and I'll see you all next week!

Ciao everyone!

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I Feel Differently About...After Reading Their Sequels'.

At first I really thought this topic was going to be hard. I don't really reread many books and so don't get much of an opportunity to reflect on previous reads! However, thinking about it, I actually doubt my previous opinions a lot when it comes to sequels. If I love a book, then hate it's sequel (or vice versa) I always find myself wondering whether I was overly generous/harsh to begin with. Here are ten series that I've done that with!

Sequels I've Liked Less...

1) The 'Divergent' series by Veronica Roth.

I'm sticking this one at the top because it's still pretty fresh on my mind. When I read 'Divergent' for the first time, I adored it. Seriously, I thought it was the best Dystopian I'd read (not that I'd read many) and gushed about it for days with my sister and various other friends. Then some time later, I read book two and the seeds of doubt were planted. Sure, I still liked it but where was the uncontrollable adoration I had for book one? Now I recently finished 'Allegiant' and sad to say I really didn't like it. Once again I look back on 'Divergent' and I think...did I really like it that much?

2) The 'Queen Of The Tearling' series by Erika Johansen.

I remember reading somewhere that Emma Watson loved this book, so when I read it I expected to love it too. While that didn't happen, I certainly found a lot to like about it: the characters I found really 'likeable' and the plot-line felt 'fresh'. And yet when I read 'The Invasion Of The Tearling', I ended up wondering if I'd really enjoyed book one all that much. Because in book two, I certainly didn't like the characters all that much and the plot-line was a little dull. I'm actually considering not bothering with the next book in the series I felt that annoyed by it.

3) The 'Red Rising' series by Pierce Brown.

Now looking at my ratings, we can all see that I did enjoy 'Golden Son'. However, I found the writing really didn't appeal to me, and nor did the choppy nature of the plot. So why did book one, that suffered from the exact same issues receive such a rave review from me? I can't remember it all that well but I remember saying I loved the characters, while I found them forgettable and flat at times in book two. Weird.

4) The 'Benedicts' series by Joss Stirling.

This is probably the strongest example of not trusting my own opinions. When I read 'Finding Sky' which I apparently thoroughly enjoyed, I only found the slow start an issue. But in 'Stealing Phoenix', the second book in the series, I had real problems. Laughable villains, an excruciatingly bland plot, an annoying heroine and a real lack of good writing or consistency made this a pretty terrible read, especially in relation to it's predecessor. I worried for a long time that my judgement was flawed after comparing the two!

5) The 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' series by Laini Taylor.

No one shoot! I had a really great time with this series, but my confidence in Taylor fell after reading the finale. While the first two books had really received great praise from me, when I got to book three I found it lacking in a lot of areas and it made me wonder how I would feel if I were to reread the previous two. The plot jumped around way too much and became so confusing, and I really felt that the conclusion to the story came about two thirds of the way through the book so have no idea what that bit tagged onto the end was supposed to be. A real shame.

Sequels I've Liked More...

6) 'The Grisha' series by Leigh Bardugo.

While I didn't technically rate 'Siege & Storm' any higher that 'Shadow & Bone' it did reaffirm my love for the series and restore my confidence in my original rating. You see, so much time passed between the two books that I began to reflect on my original rating and wonder if I'd been too generous as I could remember more negative aspects than I'd really talked about in my review. Upon reading book two however, I remembered why I love the series so much and can't wait to finish it!

7) The 'Modern Faerie Tales' series by Holly Black.

While I gave 'Tithe a pretty good rating, I did critique a fair few points that I felt disappointed by. This was mostly because friends had really hyped this series up for me and I felt a little let down despite enjoying it. After reading 'Valiant' however, I completely changed my mind! This series is such a great one and while I'm still reserving complete judgement until I've read 'Ironside', I am so pleased that I stuck with it!

8) The 'Curse Workers' series by Holly Black.

Holly Black is an author that I've read a lot of books by because I adore her imagination, and yet at times I feel let down by her 'blink-and-you-miss-it' writing style. This was the case with 'White Cat', the first book in this series, and combined with the fact that I didn't like the characters all that much I felt like it wasn't going to be one I would enjoy. 'Red Glove' however impressed me a lot more! I finally began to feel attachment to what was going on and I really hope that the finale to the trilogy turns out to be the best of the bunch!

9) The 'Winners' Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski.

'The Winner's Curse' was a book that, I felt, had been given way too much hype. When I read it, I found that I felt frustrated by the number of 'incomplete' moments in the books and it's pacing was a little off. Rutkoski's writing style just didn't grab me. But when I got round to reading book two, 'The Winner's Crime', I felt much more invested in the series. Rutkoski does politics and tension very well! I'm looking forward to getting hold of 'The Winner's Kiss' because I've got a feeling it's going to be an explosive read!

10) The 'Afterlife' series by Terri Bruce.

The first book, 'Hereafter' got a pretty good review from me though I did have some real issues with it. Mainly in the form of her MC, Irene Dunphy. Irene's stubborn, irritating behaviour throughout the book frustrated me a lot and I found some sections repetitive. However in 'Thereafter', Bruce really stepped up her writing game and I can see now what she's trying to achieve. You aren't supposed to like Irene...at least not at first. Because Irene is going on a journey of self-discovery and I can't wait to see her grow in future books!

Monday 23 May 2016

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

This week has been quite a week for me, mostly because I've spent the latter half of it with a nasty throat infection. Illness meant I had more time to read, which was the only upside I'm afraid! On the Monday, Mat and I stayed in and watched films/played games together which was nice. I had to go back to work on the Tuesday and it ended up being a very interesting week but I'm pleased to announce that the briefly worrying events have been semi-resolved.

It happened to be around Wednesday evening, while playing games with Mat and Tash, that I began to get a bit of a sore throat. By Thursday I couldn't speak. I went to work regardless but ended up coming home early because it was that bad. I didn't go to work on Friday and spent most of it sleeping, but I did manage to muster up the energy to play some Pandemic and Cards Against Humanity with Mat and my flat-mates while watching some of my favourite animated films. It was still a lovely evening in and by Saturday I felt a lot better! On Sunday I spent a little more time resting though I did make myself get out of the house and go to the shop in order to feel more normal.

I Read:

I Received:



Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Bought On A Whim

Sunday 22 May 2016

Book Review: Allegiant; Veronica Roth.

While I didn't end up enjoying this read nearly as much as I should have done, I do feel a certain amount of relief now that I've finally finished this series. It's been a long read in progress of mine and I'm not proud that it took me so much time. At least I can enter it into the 'Monthly Motif' challenge this month!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Allegiant
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth
SERIES: Divergent (#1)
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins Children's Publishers
PAGES: 526
GENRE: Dystopian, Young Adult, Romance

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered - fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature - and of herself - while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

What I Liked:
  • I felt that Roth stayed true to her own style in this book, despite the fact that there were so many things I didn't like about it. Her writing was good and the story was full of twists and turns and remained as action-packed as I remember the previous series entries. It's clear that Roth has a lot of imagination and huge ideas about this series, so it was a shame that she didn't quite make it all fit comfortably.
What I Disliked:
  • Tris and Four were my biggest problem in the last book, and here they only got worse. Tris got more stubborn, insensitive and reckless while Four became more hypocritical, possessive and controlling. Tris continued to be consistently angry with everything, and Four kept on being moody and unlike-able. It's a shame because I loved them both in Book One, but the constant arguing followed by kisses to attempt to persuade the reader that they're actually in love made me roll my eyes.
  • I already thought that Roth had too many side-characters (and most of them were pretty two-dimensional and forgettable) but nevertheless she decided to add a whole bunch more to the mix, just to really test my memory to the limits. In fact, for me the 'outside world' was too overwhelming. There was so much info-dumping it gave me a headache and Roth used it as an excuse to include a bunch of unnecessary sub-plots that she'd cut short whenever she felt like. It was so frustrating!
  • I've seen so many complaints about the ending, and while I hate going over old ground, it needs to be said. Potential spoiler here for those who haven't read it, but Roth's decision to kill of a main character might have been brave in a sense, but it was also gratuitous. It served pretty much no purpose other than to make sure that the ending was filled with drama and grief rather than any answers or closure for the huge amounts of loose ends that Roth left with the book. Basically, nothing seems to get resolved except the 'immediate problem', and we all know that in the world of 'Divergent' there are hundreds of 'immediate problems' so really we are no better off than at the beginning of the first book. Great.
Overall Conclusion:
It was my sister who told me that I would love 'Divergent'. She also told me I would hate 'Allegiant'. She was right on both counts. I know that many people are disappointed with this finale and I'm glad that I was not the only one but in a way, I kind of hoped I'd be one of the few who loved it because it's never nice to be disappointed. I guess it's not a terrible book with it's imaginative world and fast-paced thrills, I just felt that a series that began so well deserved a much better finish.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Book Review: Thief With No Shadow; Emily Gee.

Well, I finally got through this book (which was not an easy journey) but I'm glad I did finish it, even if it didn't turn out to be the greatest book I've ever read. I'm also entering this one into the 'Key Words Challenge' this month!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Thief With No Shadow
AUTHOR: Emily Gee
PAGES: 463
GENRE: Fantasy, Adult, Romance

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Melke is a wraith, which means she has the ability to walk unseen. After being forced to steal a necklace, she is hunted down by the victim of the crime, Bastian sal Vere. He explains that the necklace was strung with tears, and that without it, Bastian cannot break the curse that is destroying his family. He orders Melke to regain the necklace, in exchange for her brother to be healed. But she had given the necklace to the salamanders, the fire breathing creatures that live underground. She must risk her own life. Meanwhile, Bastian becomes involved in solving a brutal murder of a young pregnant girl in the town of Theirry.

What I Liked:
  • In a way this book had it's own sort of charm. It was interesting to read a Fantasy that focused on a small section of the world it's set in, and I thought the setting, story and writing had real potential. Despite it taking me a while to get through this and the simplicity of the story, I never found myself getting all that bored. Also, I grew a massive soft spot for Bastian's doggy companion, Endal. Seriously one of the best animal companions I've read in a book for a long time!
What I Disliked:
  • I just really wanted to see more from this book. There was such a small amount of development! In terms of the world, Gee hints at a much bigger one but can't quite bring herself to explore it all that much. I know it's not meant to be a huge, epic Fantasy but would it kill to have some different customs and not make the only notably magical thing about the whole book weird, sexual magical creatures (which happened to produce some of the strangest rape scenes and sexual imagery ever). I'm really sad that Gee's world had so much potential yet didn't even come close to being fully realised.
  • The story, while not bad, was not exactly exciting. In fact, it became pretty predictable as most of it was set in a farmhouse or the nearby village. Because of this, some readers won't be a fan of the pacing either: it was slow. The most notable example being Hantje's thirty chapter recovery (seriously...nothing happened while he was unconscious), most of this period was spent watching everyone do their household chores. I understand that it was supposed to be time dedicated to Bastian and Melke's relationship and character development, but I didn't really feel like an awful lot of that happened either, which was disappointing considering that this story is clearly supposed to be character-focused.
  • The ending came as a bit of a disappointment to me. While it was nice to finally get some action going on, it all felt a little bit pointless and no one really seemed to get much of a happy ending (despite Gee desperately trying to convince us otherwise). In fact, Gee herself expresses her disappointment with how the curse is resolved through Bastian's classic 'Was that really all I had to do?' moment. If you have to ask that question then you know that you need a slightly better ending. Of course the fact that he realises that after it's all too late makes it even worse...
Overall Conclusion:
I don't really know how much I expected to be impressed by this book but while I didn't hate it, I certainly found myself disappointed. It had an element of charm to it (mixed with a dash of gross) and there were a few nice moments in Gee's writing style, but I wish she'd let her imagination roam a little more freely! The story was too simplistic, the world underdeveloped and the characters lacked in a fair few areas, choosing instead to follow a set pattern of emotions (Anger/Hatred > Guilt > Redemption > 'Happiness' which I'm putting in quote marks because I'm not convinced). There's supposed to be romance but really there wasn't all that much and the ending left me feeling frustrated.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I Bought On A Whim'.

I don't tend to do this quite so much any more (lack of space doesn't allow for spontaneous buys I'm afraid) but I went through quite a big phase of doing this not too long ago. My whims, I have to say, are mostly centred around cover art. Some books ended up being my favourite reads, others I haven't even picked up yet! Here are ten that I've selected!

Spontaneous Buys I've Read...

1) 'The Name Of The Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss.

This was a spontaneous buy of mine from a really long time ago (I'd say early teens?) and probably the best example I have of judging books by their covers that I have. It was a new release at the time and it was facing outwards on the shelf with one of Waterstones' helpful cards underneath that the staff write. I was really intrigued by the Fantasy genre then and wanted a really epic one to get into and this was perfect. The level of detail that Rothfuss puts into this book is extraordinary and I really need to continue with this series!

2) 'Station Eleven' by Emily St. John Mandel.

I came across this one a few times on Amazon and really liked the way that Mandel's covers matched with all her books, but it wasn't until I saw it on a shelf that I decided I wanted it. I knew nothing of Mandel's work, writing style, preferred genre or even the book synopsis. I actually worried a lot about reading it because upon researching it more, it didn't seem like my usual read. However, I adored this book and Mandel is now on the list of Authors that I simply must read more of! She is a truly exceptional talent!

3) 'A Swift Pure Cry' by Siobhan Dowd.

I actually think I bought this when I was in that phase in life where you're still a child but desperately wanting to be an adult. 'Look at me' I thought 'Picking up a book about teenage pregnancy and tragedy and stuff. I'm so grown up.' In truth, I just thought the cover was pretty. I loved this story though when I read it shortly after, and it still remains a favourite to look back on to this day, especially in light of Dowd's passing. I would like to revisit it at some point and maybe look into her other work too!

4) 'A Natural History Of Dragons' by Marie Brennan.

This was a more recent purchase of mine (the last few years at a rough guess) but I'm so glad that I thought the cover design was cool enough to intrigue me! As it turns out, I've now read the second book in this series (and eagerly awaiting the time to read the next) and I'm really enjoying it. Brennan's heroine is both strong and witty, which I like a lot and I'm loving the memoir format!

5) 'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey.

This book is a very special book to me, because it was one of the reads that really made me realise that I love Fairy Tale retellings! In fact, it's probably one of the most spontaneous buys I've ever ended up reading, mostly because I just took one glance at it's pretty title and cover and went 'This one! without even looking at the back. But I'm glad I chose it because even though it took me a long time to get round to reading it, it's now one of my favourite books of all time.

Spontaneous Buys I Haven't Got Round To...

1) 'Green Rider' by Kristen Britain.

I was browsing the Fantasy section in Waterstones when I spotted this one and it's cool cover design caught my eye instantly. Even though the blurb sounds a little tropey and I've never heard of the Author, I'm looking forward to this read. Plus, I've seen the covers for the next few books and they totally outdo this one!

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

My two flatmates recently read this one which made it the perfect pick for this topic! I saw it advertised on Goodreads constantly when I bought it, but I knew nothing about it other than the fact that 'Readers of 'The Fault In Our Stars'' should love it. I did love 'The Fault In Our Stars' so I have high hopes!

3) 'The Woodcutter' by Kate Danley.

I knew nothing about this book when I bought it. I still don't. I downloaded it for a measly sum from Amazon to read on my Kindle, seeing the pretty, Fairy Tale inspired cover and thinking that there's no way that I couldn't enjoy this book. I hope I'm right! We shall see...

4) 'Fearless' by Tim Lott.

Wow okay so I have only vague recollections of a friend of mine banging on about this book way back in the early years of school but other than that I'm pretty clueless with this one. The cover looks great though and I'm desperate to find time to read it because it's supposed to be really good! I only know that it was a Dystopian that came out before Dystopian books became cool.

5) 'Colourless Tsukuru & His Years Of Pilgrimage' by Haruki Murukami.

My only knowledge of this book is on the author, and even that's pretty vague I'm afraid. I just know his stuff is popular and almost constantly on a big display table at Waterstones. I would really love to get into more works written in other countries than England or the USA, so I can't wait until the moment I finally get round to this read!

Monday 16 May 2016

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

This week has been so busy, and that's meant I haven't had much time on my hands to read. However, I have been busy doing a ton of other fun things! To begin the week I had another day of my Training Course in order to become a Team Leader and found it very educational. I normally work late on Tuesdays so it was nice to do a 'morning shift' so to speak and have the afternoon to myself. I worked for the rest of the week, even on my birthday (Friday 13th)! Mat met me for lunch on my birthday during my sift, and then when I returned home we went out to Sweet, a new dessert cafe that has opened recently near our flat. The food was delicious and the evening spent in together even more-so.

On Saturday, Mat and I headed off to Sweet for brunch, before making our way to Stepney Farm (a place also close to our house that I had never been to before) which was so much fun! I'm a big animal lover and adored seeing and feeding the donkeys, geese, chickens, goats etc. (seriously, I'm a child at heart). It was such a fun afternoon out, and we spent the evening having fun playing games and watching films. Sunday was even busier as we got up fairly early in the morning in order to spend a day out in London. Our first stop was Holland Park, a place I've always wanted to visit due to the inclusion of it's gorgeous Kyoto Garden! It was as beautiful as I'd imagined and it was nice to walk around on such a sunny day and enjoy the sights! Straight after visiting the garden, we headed to Oxford Street for a spot of shopping. I managed to buy a whole bunch of new books and we even had time to visit a couple of Bookshops (the dream).

I couldn't have asked for a nicer weekend, thank you so much to Mat and all my friends and family for spoiling me so much! If you want to read about what I actually received for my Birthday, I've posted the haul here!

I Read:


I Received:

- 'Fairy Tales' by Hans Christian Andersen: Present from my Sister (13/05)
- 'O Frabjous Day! by Lewis Carroll: Present from Tash & Meg (13/05)
- 'When We Collided' by Emery Lord: Received from Illumicrate (14/05)


Top Ten Tuesday: Websites I Love That Aren't About Books

I Posted:

My 23rd Birthday Haul & Illumicrate Unboxing (Box 3)!

Saturday 14 May 2016

My 23rd Birthday Haul & Illumicrate Unboxing (Box 3)!

As you all know (possibly) it was my Birthday on the 13th May. As I received my Illumicrate box the very next day I thought I would talk about both in one post! So let's start with my birthday bits:

To start, I received quite a bit of money from various relatives (Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents) as well as from my parents! One of my Aunts did buy me a gorgeous Cath Kidston Travel Bag, complete with clear bottles and an extra, smaller bag. I've always loved Cath Kidston's brand so I'm excited to get to use this when going on holiday!

Tash & Meg, the two girls that Mat and I rent with bought me some awesome presents! Firstly, of course chocolate is a huge part of my life so I was happy to see some of that thrown into the mix! They also went down the obvious reading and writing route with a green, fluffy pen and a Little Black Classic: 'O Frabjous Day' by Lewis Caroll! I think my favourite thing to receive from them had to be the Blogger's Journal! I've been needing something like this for a while and I finally have one to use for the rest of the year!

My sister and her boyfriend also spoilt me rotten this year and I'm so grateful! Chocolate and another fluffy pen (this time red with a London Bus on top) were just a couple of the great gifts I received, all wrapped in Wrapping Paper decorated with the London Tube map! They also got me two Game Of Thrones notepads, a gorgeous pink dress (which I somehow forgot to photograph...) a National Book Token and (my favourite) a book of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales!

Mat, my beloved boyfriend, spent an extortionate amount of money nabbing me tickets for a show that I've wanted to see since it was announced for the West End: Aladdin! I've seen and adored 'The Lion King' so as soon as I heard of this one, I had to go and see it at some point. I'm so excited! This was accompanied by the 'Agents Of SHIELD' season 2 Blu-Ray and a huge box of Ferrero Rocher. Yum!

Now comes the moment that you've probably all been waiting for! Box 3 of my Illumicrate subscription arrived the day after my birthday (I see it as a belated Birthday present...that I bought for me...) and I can't wait to tell you guys about some of the things inside! I've gone on about Illumicrate so much but for those that didn't know, it's a really good value for money UK based YA subscription box, and the contents found inside thus far have been varied and suit all kinds of readers.

The box remained the same and I sincerely love this packaging. Normally Daphne splits the items into two layers inside, with the box in the bottom so as not to spoil the surprise. She didn't do that this time which was a little disappointing (I love the anticipation of revealing the book) but this was really only a minor niggle. The packing note is always found on top so if you don't wish to spoil the surprise I would recommend not reading it until you come to checking over the contents later!

So what was inside? The items were a lot smaller than usual which is probably why they were all put together in one layer. Good things come in small packages though, so let's find out:

THE BOOK: 'When We Collided' by Emery Lord. (Paperback). This one came as a bit of shock. I always feel slightly nervous about the book (I worry that I'll already have it or it's not for me) but I did like this choice despite not being my usual type of read. It's a Contemporary YA which covers the subject of Mental Health, and I enjoy reading books that cover topics such as that so I have a good feeling about it! This gorgeous book also came with:

- A signed bookplate
- Postcards

TBR List Notepad: This is such an awesome idea and I really loved this freebie! One of my favourite things about Illumicrate is Daphne's dedication to supporting Indie Businesses! Etsy is a real favourite internet shop of mine to browse and thanks to Illumicrate, I get some really fun goodies from small businesses! This will certainly help me keep track of my TBR pile! If you're interested, the shop that supplied this is Goodnight Boutique, and it sells some really cool things! Check it out!

Book Club Mug: I have mugs-a-plenty already in my cupboards here, but what's one more? It's a bookish one too (my first bookish mug) and while I'm not actually a member of a Book Club, it's a neat idea! The material is plastic so it's pretty durable rather than fragile which will certainly be useful for me if I want to drink outside! Head over to The Art Of Escapism for more!

Ex Libris Stamp: I've never really been into Stamps, but I have to say that I adore this one! If your book collection is constantly being loaned out to others then this gorgeous little fox sleeping on top of a book pile could mark it as yours! Similarly you could use it for gifts, cards and tags (which I think could be really useful in the future)! Definitely a great inclusion. From what I can tell, a lot of people got different stamp designs, so I am so lucky that mine was a Fox (my all time favourite animal!) and I'm enjoying seeing the other cool designs found in people's boxes. There are so many others to choose from too, at the Little Stamp Store!

Readers Gonna Read Pin: This brooch is adorable. I love it so much! It's probably one of my favourite of the little extras! It's design sort of makes me think of Harry Potter and I thought that the packaging it came with was a really nice touch. I have had a real browse through Literary Emporium, the store this brooch came from and have a list of things I want about a mile long! I would definitely recommend having a look at their stuff.

Bookworm Clips: This is such a cute idea. So simple, yet cleverly made and the design is adorable. I really enjoy bookmarks of all shapes and sizes, so this one was so nice to receive. There are an absolute ton of designs at My Bookish Mark mostly with an animal-related theme so if you enjoy bookmark collecting, this might be a cute place to visit!

And here is all of the box contents in one, neat picture! As you can see, there are a few extras that Daphne included that I haven't mentioned yet:

  • An excerpt from Laini Taylor's 'Stranger The Dreamer'. I couldn't believe it when I saw this! I'm a huge fan of Taylor's previous series, 'A Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' so am really looking forward to reading her next release. Daphne must have pulled out all the stops for this one, I feel incredibly lucky!
  • A Cinnamon Muffins recipe card in honour of 'The Square Root Of Summer'. Another really cool freebie, mostly because I like collecting recipes. In the last box, Daphne included a Lemonade recipe so I'm glad that the tradition is being continued!
  • Badges in honour of the 'Ladybirds' series. Daphne's added extras tend to be a lot of fun, and we all know I do like my badges. These ones were no exception and I'm really intrigued to read these books at some point!
  • A postcard advertising the 'Mystery & Mayhem' collection. As far as short stories go, this is one collection I really want to get my hands on. There are some great authors contributing, and the cove is gorgeous! The postcard was a really nice little extra to remind me how much I wanted it!

What a great collection of items! I really love all of them ad am already looking forward to the next Illumicrate box in three months time! Hopefully the wait won't be too agonising...