Wednesday 30 November 2016

November Wrap-Up.

Things went a little off track this month in that while I'd planned reads, I ended up reading a fair few books that weren't on the original list. This meant that I only managed five of the seven reads from my Planned Reads For November post. However, that's actually not too bad, and I did manage a couple of other, much shorter reads on top bringing my total for the month to seven! Wahoo!

  1. 'The Dead House' by Dawn Kurtagich. I started this spooky read in October and did end up liking it a lot, though not as much as I thought I would. It had a great premise - an unusual format comprising of diary entries, police interviews, etc. that told the story of a young girl living with an identity disorder trying to figure out if her extra personality is a 'symptom' or something more. There were too many aspects to the plot and Kurtagich kept introducing them, even towards the end. This meant that my attention waned and the 'finale' was pretty disappointing. 2.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Kindred Spirits' by Rainbow Rowell. This short story that I received at YALC for free had been playing on my mind, and while I was already borrowing 'Fangirl' to read later on in the month from my sister, I wanted to read this too. It's a very sincere depiction and I liked it a lot, as it introduced me to Rowell's writing style pretty well. The characters were well-rounded and considering it's length the plot was very succinct. The end was a little cheesy and I would have liked it longer of course, but they are called short stories for a reason. 3.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Lie Tree' by Frances Hardinge. It is so easy to see why this one Costa's Book Of The Year award in 2015 and I'm so happy for Hardinge. I read 'Cuckoo Song' and enjoyed it a lot, but I think I liked this even better. It's set in Victorian Society (my favourite historical period) and Hardinge's characters were powerful and complex, her plot imaginative and her writing exquisite. I need to read more books written by this lady, she's clearly the kind of author whose books just work for me. 4.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams' by Stephen King. The often-called master of horror did not blow me away in the past with his book 'It' and I'd been afraid to go back for quite some time in case I was disappointed again. Finally I decided that this time I'd opt for some of his shorter stories and I did enjoy them a little more. They were each different, though linked by common themes and I don't think that I disliked any of them, though a few I loved more than others. If you're intimidated by King's larger novels then maybe this is a good place to start. 3.5/5 Stars.
  5. 'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I'm trying to read more non-fiction as I do enjoy learning about facts as well as through fiction. I am a feminist though until this book, I'd never read many essays or books on the subject and as I had already adored Adichie's TED talk, 'The Danger Of A Single Story', this seemed like a good one to start with. It's short but it neatly summarises what feminism is about Feminism, taking from Adichie's personal experiences and injecting her distinct style and wit. 5/5 Stars.
  6. 'The Ice Dragon' by George R.R. Martin. I didn't think that George R.R. Martin, famous for his use of gore, adult scenes and killing off everyone's favourite characters mercilessly would be able to pull of a children's book. But he has. In fact, it had a fairy-tale like quality to it, reminding me a lot of 'The Snow Child'. I did miss Martin's attention to detail, time period and setting however and elements of the story were a little vague. A great read though, and Luis Royo (whose artwork I've always admired) illustrates this edition beautifully. 4/5 Stars.
  7. 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell. My second Rowell book of the month and this one is significantly longer, which pleases me a lot. All I can say is that this lovely lady has a total mastery over realistic teen lives. The dialogues, characters, relationships and situational events such as first time going further than a kiss or first time at college felt so real. I related so much to Cath's anxious personality and honestly, it's a great depiction of how anxiety actually feels and why it's so frustrating for us when people thing we're just being difficult or weird. Loved the fanfiction element too, it brought back some happy memories. 4.5/5 Stars.

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

- 'The Dead House' by Dawn Kurtagich
- 'The Lie Tree' by Frances Hardinge
- The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams' by Stephen King
- 'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- 'The Ice Dragon' by George R.R. Martin
- 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell

This month I have read one book for Falling For YA's Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge bringing my yearly total so far to sixteen. This month's read was:

- 'The Dead House' by Dawn Kurtagich

This month I have gained zero points for Novel Heartbeat and Writer Grrl Reads' Prequel & Sequel Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to sixty.

This month I have read one book for [un]Conventional Reviews' New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to fifteen. The books I read were:

- 'Kindred Spirits' by Rainbow Rowell
This month I have read zero book for Daily Prophecy's Retelling Challenge, bringing my yearly total to ten

I also updated my Bookish Bingo card, and here are this trimester's results!

Stand Alone: Fearless; Tim Lott.
Back List: If I Fall, If I Die; Michael Christie.
Killers: The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams; Stephen King.
Suspense: The Dead House; Dawn Kurtagich.
Sea Creatures: Dark Tide; Jennifer Donnelly.
Revenge: The Gospel Of Loki; Joanne M. Harris.
Horror Or Paranormal: A Monster Calls; Patrick Ness.
Freebie: The Star-Touched Queen; Roshani Chokshi.
Illustrated: The Ice Dragon; George R.R. Martin.
American History: China Dolls; Lisa See.
Friendship: Harry Potter & The Cursed Child; J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany.
Black Cover: The Graces; Laure Eve.
Fall Release: As I Descended; Robin Talley.
Creepy Cover: The Lie Tree; Frances Hardinge.
Short Story: Kindred Spirits; Rainbow Rowell.
College: Fangirl; Rainbow Rowell.

Book Review: Fangirl; Rainbow Rowell.

I've not been actively avoiding Rainbow Rowel's books as such. I'd heard such great things about them that I knew I'd get round to reading them eventually! Contemporary YA Romance has never been my absolute favourite genre however and so I've always found that there are things I'd rather read until now. Rainbow Rowell's short story 'Kindred Spirits' sold me to the idea that she's a very good writer and understands teenagers very well, and I couldn't put off one of her full-length novels any longer.

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Fangirl
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan
PAGES: 459
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there's romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.

Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realising that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible...

What I Liked:
  • Rainbow Rowell has completely proven to me that she understands how to write teens and young adults. In fact, she does so in such a natural, easy way that this book completely sucked me in and wouldn't let me go until the very end. I also adored that she handled particular topics: first-time at college and away from home (a topic I rarely see covered by authors) and first-time foreplay/sex (a topic I see covered BADLY too often). She impressed me with the latter particularly because the awkwardness, humour and fear were there (unlike other books where it's painted as this amazing thing filled with fireworks and rose petals) but it was still hot. I loved it.
  • The characters were frustrating to read, and yet I loved that about them. I saw a lot of myself in Cath: anxious, unwilling to try in fear of getting it wrong, a hater of change, and misunderstood by most people. Her frustration with people who think drinking is fun and 'living' is also my own and it was so refreshing to find someone who felt the same way. The characters she surrounded herself with were flawed but likeable: Levi's tendency to say the wrong thing, Wren's constant selfish, bitch actions and words, Nick's arrogance, and even Reagan's jealousy and brashness. These characteristics I hated but I also liked that Cath didn't know perfect people because that's how the world is! I could see elements of these people in other people that I actually know and it was very comforting.
What I Disliked:
  • This book is extremely slow in it's pace. It took me a long time to exactly understand where the plot was actually going and though Rowell's writing was great from beginning to end, it lacked direction from the start. That being said, this was pretty minor for me in the end because a slow build meant real relationships. None of this 'Oh I've met a boy, he's hot, I'm in love with him forever now'. Cath and Levi remained good friends throughout a large portion of the book and even that took time before they finally moved onto something more serious.
Overall Conclusion:
Yes, the book was slow and I normally hate books that take a while to get to the point. But, I must have been in an especially good mood while reading this because I actually appreciated the slow build in this case. Realistic characters, relationships, plot and settings are all things that Rowell seems to have pretty much mastered and I'm just sad that I didn't jump on the hype train sooner because my sister has been telling me to read Rainbow Rowell since forever. It might be a while before I revisit her books, but I definitely will!

Monday 28 November 2016

Last Week's Shenanigans (21st November - 27th November)...

It's been quite a busy week for me, especially as my sister's birthday was this week! That paired with Black Friday meant that work and 'me time' was pretty exhausting for me. It's been fun though! On Monday, Mat and I went to the cinema to see Doctor Strange, the new Marvel film starring Benedict Cumberbatch. We enjoyed it, though I feel some of the other films in the MCU were a little better. Cumberbatch was okay, but I loved Tilda Swinton in this one!

Friday was my sister's birthday which made it a good day, though working in retail on Black Friday on OXFORD STREET is not the one. Not at all. Nevertheless I only worked the earlier shift, so I'm glad I wasn't working until close. On Sunday, Mat and I made our way down to Ashford to see my family, both for Bev's birthday and dinner with my Nan and Grandad. There were a lot of problems with the trains to begin with but when we arrived we had a lovely day! We went out for a roast dinner, then back to my Grandparent's for a game before returning to Ashford for even more games!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Diabolic' by S.J. Kincaid: Received from Illumicrate (23/11/16)
- 'Blood For Blood' by Ryan Graudin: Received from Illumicrate (23/11/16)

I Posted...

Illumicrate Unboxing (Box 5)

Thursday 24 November 2016

Book Review: The Ice Dragon; George R.R. Martin.

Yet another short read that I thought I should get into, seeing as I had a little time on my hands to read such a short book. At this point I've deviated pretty far from my chosen reads, but I don't mind. It's been nice to read a little of what takes my fancy!

TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: The Ice Dragon
AUTHOR: George R.R. Martin
PUBLISHER: Harper Voyager
PAGES: 128
GENRE: Fantasy, Children's Book, Short Story

RATING: 4/5 Stars

From ancient times the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.

Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara’s home. And only a winter child — and the ice dragon who loved her — could save her world from utter destruction.

What I Liked:
  • This was a really nice, sweet little tale set in a slightly familiar Westeros (long before the 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' series is set) but I loved that I could still recognise Martin's distinct style in it. I didn't imagine him to be as talented at writing books set for a younger audience, but he certainly proved me wrong. It read like a Fairy Tale which is my favourite sort of story, along the lines of 'The Snow Child'.
What I Disliked:
  • While I did enjoy this book, I didn't manage to enjoy it quite as much as I have other children's stories. I liked it of course, but I missed Martin's attention to detail and the lack of too much jumping around in time. There were a lot of things about this book that felt vague and I longed to know more about the setting, the time and the dragon.
Overall Conclusion:
A lovely, well-written story set in Westeros which is one of my favourite book settings. I enjoyed the change of age range and liked the story itself quite a lot, especially as it reminded me so much of a Fairy Tale. Sadly there was a little too much in the way of vague for me to fully immerse myself. I have read a few children's books and enjoyed others more than this because they balance things better. I feel that in attempt to decrease the adult themes usually found in his books, Martin ended up being a little too lacking in the details department.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Illumicrate Unboxing! (Box 5)

In the past months I've felt like the time between boxes has sped by. That is not the case with this one and I've been so impatient while waiting for it. It came today and I can hardly wait to let you guys know what I got!

I won't really talk about the design, you can refer to my previous posts on that matter because it's been the same from the beginning and I still love it! I'll get straight onto the unboxing itself!

BOOK ONE: 'The Diabolic' by S.J. Kincaid (Hardcover). That's right, BOOK ONE heavily implies two books and for me there was! The first is 'The Diabolic', a sci-fi YA adventure that I've had my eye on for a little while now. Especially as I don't read a lot of Sci-Fi. I'm really glad that this was Daphne's choice for the book because I don't know if I would have bought it for a long time if it hadn't have been in the box! This book came with a letter from Kincaid, a signed bookplate and a bookmark which is always useful for a reader! The cover is absolutely gorgeous too, I'm a big fan of butterflies!

BOOK 2: 'Blood For Blood' by Ryan Graudin (Paperback). Now there may be some readers who also received this month's box but didn't receive this book. Do not be alarmed! This was actually a really lovely extra that Daphne included because this month's box was Illumicrate's first anniversary and some subscribers (myself included) have been signed up from the beginning! I thought this was really nice of her to do, especially as it's the sequel to the first book we ever received: 'Wolf By Wolf'! I also received some temporary tattoos!

Coffee Cosy: Sadly, I'm not a Coffee drinker but I love the design on this cosy! Large orange and white books on a deep blue background, simple yet gorgeous! It's soft too and will definitely be useful for my trips to Starbucks while I'm at work for Hot Chocolate! You can find more pretty designs like this at Sparrow + Wolf's website or Etsy.

AIDAN Candle: I plan to read 'Illuminae' this month (I'm not sure I'll get time to, but I hope) because I've heard such good things about it! AIDAN, from what I can tell, is an AI and Meraki Candles have given him his own scent for this month's box! I have it lit as I'm typing this and I can tell you it smells really good. I've really enjoyed browsing through their website too as they have a lot of different bookish scents about!

Evil Plans Notebook: My favourite item in the box. I love notepads but this one is just so awesomely designed! It's plain paper too which I've been after (I have plenty of lined). I've been browsing a lot of the stuff on House Of Wonderland since then and I have to say, it's one of my favourite things about Daphne's boxes. She's introduced me to so many wonderful, smaller businesses since starting Illumicrate!

Happy Socks: Perfect for the winter, these socks are so cute! They're colourful, fun and managed to lift my mood during the cold, terrible weather! Happy Socks have so many different designs to choose from too, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone received a different pair but I love mine: rainbow hearts!

I also received some other extras from this box including:

- 'All The Bright Places/Holding Up The Universe prints.
- 'Six Of Crows' travel pass.
- 'The One Memory Of Flora Banks' sampler.
- 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' gift card.
- 'Caraval', 'Replica' and 'Unconventional' postcards.

Book Review: We Should All Be Feminists; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I watched this wonderful author's TED talk 'The Danger Of A Single Story' a while back and instantly fell in love with her speaking style. She's witty, easy to understand, and her points are clear and well-founded. That particular talk was about cultural differences, and when I saw this small book of hers on the topic of Feminism I knew I needed to read it. Everyone should read this book.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: We Should All Be Feminists
AUTHOR: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

PUBLISHER: Fourth Estate

GENRE: Non-Fiction, Feminism, Essay

RATING: 5/5 Stars

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay – adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. With humour and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century – one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviours that marginalise women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. 

Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences – in the U.S., in her native Nigeria – offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a best-selling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today – and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

What I Liked:
  • This was absolutely the perfect summary of what Feminism is, and what it most certainly is not. Adichie drew on her personal experiences, both in the US and in Nigeria (where of course attitudes towards women differ immensely), gives humorous anecdotes to illustrate her points clearly and best of all shows that Feminism is not women complaining about how life is unfair for them. Feminism is a fight for equality and asks why one gender is expected to behave and do one thing, while another gender is different. I recognised Adichie's unique style in this transcript and it has cemented the idea that I want to read her books soon even more firmly in my mind.
What I Disliked:
  • I have nothing to write here except why has Adichie NOT written a thousand page book on the subject? And why does everyone not own this book, because they should!
Overall Conclusion:
I have been a very self-aware feminist for a while now, and I have often had late night chats with my boyfriend and friends on how unfair the world's expectations not just for women, but men too. I've never actually read any books on the topic though. This is my first, but it has convinced me that I need more non-fiction like this on my shelves! Adichie is funny and interesting, with a clear and distinct voice. So much so that I almost felt like I could hear her speaking while reading. Everyone should own a copy of this book (I will keep saying this throughout my review) and if you love it (which you will) then watch her speak on the TED website. I promise it's worthwhile.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Book Review: The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams; Stephen King.

After such a long time since I read Stephen King, I felt that it was time I gave his works another shot. This time I chose a book of short stories because I felt his 1000+ page-long 'It' was a little too much for me to handle before. This was definitely the right choice because even his short stories were fairly long!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams
AUTHOR: Stephen King

PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton

PAGES: 507
GENRE: Adult, Horror, Short Stories, Mystery

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

In this new collection King assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.

What I Liked:
  • King's writing is exquisitely detailed and while for readers such as myself who have a shorter attention span this can be difficult, I can fully appreciate why he is considered a master of writing. His sense of atmosphere and build-up is particularly masterful and necessary in his chosen genre, horror. There's no doubt about it, King is a great writer and I can't say that I really disliked any of these stories though I enjoyed some more than others.
  • There is a huge variety in these stories, though as the blurb says, they are all linked in terms of theme. There really is something for everyone here, whether you prefer slow suspense, stories on the unusual, or supernatural thrills, you'll get it here. There's even a spot of poetry! Stories I particularly enjoyed included 'Obits' for it's focus on morality, 'Summer Thunder' because of that Dystopian edge it had, 'Ur' which was probably my favourite because it took me back to a time when the Kindle was a brand new concept and 'Bad Little Kid' which gave me fond memories of the things I'd liked about 'It'.
What I Disliked:
  • As I said, there were some stories I liked more than others and while I didn't hate any of them, some left me feeling very frustrated, as if I had missed out on something. 'That Bus Is Another World' for example, or 'A Death' and 'The Little Green God Of Agony'. Areas felt rushed and I didn't connect with them in the same way that I did others. I would have really liked to have enjoyed all of the stories, as I consider myself a pretty diverse reader and don't feel this is solely down to personal preference.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a good little collection of stories that had a lot of variety yet played upon similar themes and each contained a distinct style from King. His writing and attention to detail truly is superb. Some of the stories didn't grab me as well as others, and I have to say, that very few of them had a new setting for me to immerse myself into. Most of them were set in Maine, which seems to be King's 'area' of choice in his works. He clearly knows it very well but often writes it in a shady, grubby manner, causing me to long for a totally new setting altogether.

Monday 21 November 2016

Last Week's Shenanigans (14th November - 20th November)...

This week has been a little all over the place for me, especially in terms of work! I had my last management course date, a sort of completion event, for which I had to create an exhibition 'piece'. Of course I wrote a story and it went down really well!I'm really glad about that too because I spent all of Monday making it. On Thursday, Mat and I met after I had finished work and we went together to Las Iguanas at Spitalfields for Meg's birthday dinner! It was delicious and a lot of fun to meet as a group again and catch up. She also really loved our Harry Potter themed present too which made waiting for it to come in the post worth it in the end!

Book-wise, it's been a disappointing week. Stephen King's short stories have turned out not to be as short as I'd originally thought (why am I surprised, his novels are 1000 pages plus) so I've not quite finished them. No book post for me either! Hopefully next week will make up for it!

I Read...


I Received...


Monday 14 November 2016

Last Week's Shenanigans (7th November - 13th November)...

This week has pretty much been filled with work and preparing my final exhibition piece for the management course I'm on, so I haven't really had time to do anything 'fun'. Monday was a wonderful, relaxing day off for me, and I found time to read 'Kindred Spirits', a fun short story that was not on my TBR list for the month! I feel so rebellious  because I barely deviate from that if I can help it. I've been watching more 'Agents Of SHIELD' with Mat and re-watching 'Once Upon A Time' Season 2, which I've now almost finished.

Mat went away on Saturday leaving me alone, because he wanted to visit his family as it was his brother's birthday. I stayed up fairly late that night to get some reading done so I ended up having a pretty productive evening! Hooray! Sunday was mostly spent focusing on my project, but Mat and I did also go to meet up with our friends at Tash and Meg's house and had a really enjoyable evening out. We also decided upon our Secret Santa names and I'm looking forward to 4th December, our assigned meet-up date a lot!

I Read...

I Received...


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recently Added To My TBR List

Sunday 13 November 2016

Book Review: The Lie Tree; Frances Hardinge.

I'm so glad that I didn't abandon this read in something for something more November-y because boy, it was a good one! I've read one book by Frances Hardinge before, 'Cuckoo Song', and enjoyed it immensely. I went into this with pretty high expectations and still had them blown out of the water. In fact, the thought of reading more of this book actually put a smile on my face.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Lie Tree
AUTHOR: Frances Hardinge

PUBLISHER: Macmillan Children's Books

PAGES: 410
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

It was not enough. All knowledge- any knowledge - called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen.

Faith has a thirst for science and secrets that the rigid confines of her class cannot suppress. And so it is that she discovers her disgraced father's journals, filled with the scribbled notes and theories of a man driven close to madness. Tales of a strange tree which, when told a lie, will uncover a truth: the greater the lie, the greater the truth revealed to the liar. Faith's search for the tree leads her into great danger - for where lies seduce, truths shatter...

What I Liked:

  • Hardinge's most impressive skill is definitely her world-building. She always just seems to get it right, no matter what era she chooses to write about, and this time she chose my favourite: the Victorian era. Specifically, the point that Darwin's 'On The Origin Of Species' had been released and challenging the ongoing superstition and blind religious faith with science and reasoning. It was interesting to see women in this book because the limitations of their gender did not stop them from being strong in any way. Mix that with a bit of magic and you have the perfect book recipe!
  • Characters were a huge deal for me, especially when it came to family dynamics and the feminist values that peeked through the story-line. I liked Faith, she was a flawed but likeable heroine, and so clever. Myrtle too was interesting and proof that appearances can be deceiving. Even the clearly misogynist men grew on me to an extent largely because there ignorance was actually treated with humour rather than seriously.
What I Disliked:
  • While I will always applaud Hardinge's superb writing skills and ability to make things interesting, the pace still felt a little off (like in 'Cuckoo Song'). In some ways the slow-build up worked, but at other points, especially around the beginning, I mostly wanted Hardinge to get to the point. Once she did, it was excellent and the ending was handled in just the right way, so this is really a pretty minor flaw.
Overall Conclusion:
I loved that not only was this a good story that could be read by people of all ages, but also an analysis of human behaviour and the powers that both truths and lies hold over our relationships and lives. I loved the ongoing sense of struggle: evolution vs. creation, science vs. magic, superstition vs. sense and even women vs. oppression. It created a very tense atmosphere that gripped me and wouldn't let me go. Hardinge has really got the whole story-telling thing down and the Costa 2015 Book Of The Year award is well deserved!

Tuesday 8 November 2016

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

I have definitely done a topic like this before and absolutely loved it! My TBR is always expanding, so it's nice to be able to share my latest obsessions with everyone, and get even more excited about them in the process!

1) 'xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths' compiled by Kate Bernheimer.

Right now, I'm really feeling short stories and while it was originally 'My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me' compiled by the same lady that caught my eye, when I saw a book of myths I knew I had to have it! I don't get to read nearly as many retellings of classic myths as I'd like to and there are so many authors contributing to this book that it would be a great opportunity to sample a lot of new people's writing at once!

2) 'The Radleys' by Matt Haig.

Matt Haig's 'Reasons To Stay Alive' was a wonderful non-fiction read of mine this year and I can't deny the impact it's had on me. I recently looked into trying more of his books, and I stumbled across this, which looks like a gem! It's about vampires but apparently isn't considered a horror because what it's really about is family. I'm really keen on this or 'The Humans' and hope to get to read another of Matt Haig's works soon.

3) 'Good Bones' by Margaret Atwood.

Like I said, short stories are kind of my thing at the moment and this book was actually recommended on Rosalind Jana's 'Rosalind Reads' newsletters that I've subscribed to, which are proving to be a joy to delve into! The first list was themed around storytelling, folklore and tales. This made the cut. I'm very curious about Margaret Atwood, her book 'The Handmaid's Tale' is renowned and this bunch of small stories could be the ideal starting point for me to become one of her many fans.

4) 'Front Lines' by Michael Grant.

I accidentally stumbled upon the second book of this series, 'Silver Stars', on Netgalley and was shocked that I'd never heard of it. I love YA. I love Historical Fiction. I love female leads. Why was this not already on my TBR? When I read Historical Fiction, I normally prefer to delve into the Renaissance or Victorian eras. This WWII series is more recent, but I'd like to read more recent history so this will be a great place to start.

5) 'False Hearts' by Laura Lam.

I've read Laura Lam's work 'Pantomime' before and adored it. It perfectly captures the struggles of an intersex MC looking for acceptance and answers as to what she is, as well as not making her personal tragedy the centre of the story. It was full of great characters and I hope to be delving into the rest of the series soon! This book is about Conjoined twins and falls much more into the Thriller genre than Fantasy. However, I think it sounds really unique and I expect big things from Laura's writing!

6) 'Gossip From The Forest' by Sara Maitland.

This is another book from Rosalind Jana's gorgeous list of new TBR adds and I'm in love with just the sound of it. It's a travel non-fiction that sees the author journey through forests and meet with various people before ending each chapter with a re-telling of a fairy tale. Discussing nature, folklore and the imagination: three of my favourite things to talk about! I want this book so badly!

7) 'Forget Tomorrow' by Pintip Dunn.

Okay, so firstly just LOOK at that cover. Isn't it gorgeous? I'd never really heard of Dunn before but this came up on my Amazon suggested reads and it really caught my attention. The synopsis sounds good too, very Dystopian and the kind of read I would enjoy immensely if I was in the right mood for it. I'm definitely looking for a read to embark upon soon!

8) 'Carve The Mark' by Veronica Roth.

While the finale of the Divergent series left me feeling underwhelmed and disappointed, there's no denying that Veronica Roth is talented at fast-paced action and I think this newest duology, set in space this time, has the potential to be extraordinary. And once again, look at that cover! It's so beautiful! I'm seriously so excited about this.

9) 'Because You Love To Hate Me: 13 Tales Of Villainy' compiled by Ameriie.

I'm a huge fan of 'Wicked: The Musical', loved films such as 'Maleficent' and frequently root for villains. Especially if they have a tragic back-story. It was pretty obvious that as soon as this book was announced I was going to need it in my life. Author's such as April Genevieve Tucholke, Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab and Renee Ahdieh are all getting involved too, so I can pretty much guarantee that this book is going to be awesome!

10) 'Replica' by Lauren Oliver.

I've had my eye on Lauren Oliver's books for a while now but this one really made me stop to take a look. It as two stories in it! Read the book one direction for the first narrative, then turn it over and read from the other to receive the second! Such a clever idea if you ask me and I'm excited by how original it feels compared to other books.

Monday 7 November 2016

Book Review: Kindred Spirits; Rainbow Rowell.

This is going to be a very short review, as this was not only a very short story, but a deviation from my TBR that I only posted seven days ago! I really wanted a small sample of Rowell's work before getting into her larger book, 'Fangirl' that my lovely sister has lent me. Here are my thoughts!

SOURCE: Freebie at YALC
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Kindred Spirits
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell

PUBLISHER: Macmillan Kids UK

GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Short Story

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

'Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.'

'Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?'


If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectable Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

What I Liked:
  • Rowell's writing is just these few short pages has really won me over. She seems to 'get' teen voices in a way that other Authors find hard, and makes it look so easy! I loved the characterisation too, something else that she explored in a lot of depth considering the page count. I think that Authors who manage to go deep so effortlessly for a short story deserve to be commended and I easily see now why Rainbow Rowell is such an acclaimed author!
What I Disliked:
  • Aside from the obvious 'I WANT MORE THIS BOOK WAS SO SHORT WAAH' I did cringe a little at the end. It just felt ever so slightly too corny, though still adorable in a lot of ways. It was anti-climactic too, though provided a good lead up for a potential expansion to the story.
Overall Conclusion:
Adorkable is the word I would use to provide this reading experience. There's a lot of fluff and Rowell does a wonderful job of making a story out of a very short few days in someone's life. I loved the ease of it all: characters, diversity, dialogue, writing. It felt natural and free-flowing and even as if it didn't have any kind of editing (though I'm sure it did). Just like a #NoFilters selfie! Also, Rowell didn't forget about social media which SO MANY authors do, so I really commend her for that.

Last Week's Shenanigans (31st October - 6th November)...

Halloween finally arrived but, in all fairness, I didn't really end up doing a whole lot for it. I was home by myself for most of the day so I ended up doing a lot of chores followed by playing some spooky music and a little bit of dress-up just for the amusement. I read a lot and made big plans for my final piece of work to be submitted mid November for my Leadership course. Then, I went back to work for a good majority of the week, though my rota was a little different so I ended up with Friday off.

On Friday, Mat and I decided it would be really nice to do some shopping both for our Flat (which is still in desperate need of a few bits and bobs) and for Christmas! We've now actually got a vast amount done! Still plenty left, but I'm pretty pleased with our progress and looking forward to the 'most wonderful time of the year' even more! We also watched Doctor Strange at the cinema, which is a pretty decent film, and spent the rest of the evening in finishing Luke Cage and getting a decent way through Agents Of Shield Season 2.

On Sunday, Bev (my sister) and her boyfriend Ben came up to visit! I'd been looking forward to it for ages and so the first thing we did was head down to a local pub for a bite to eat. That was our chance to really catch-up and spend a lot of time together. After, we headed back to the flat and stayed in, playing Mario Party 8 in teams. It's been such a long time since I've played that game but it's still as fun as I remember!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Dragon Slayer Number 9' by Intisar Khanani: Subscribed To Newsletter (31/10/16)
- 'Blood For Blood' by Ryan Graudin: Approved on Netgalley (01/11/16)
- 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell: Borrowed from Bev (06/11/16)

I Posted...

October Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For November

Sunday 6 November 2016

Book Review: The Dead House; Dawn Kurtagich.

I had originally planned to read this in October, but instead this became my first November read. Thankfully, I'm still in the mood for spooks, so this was a good pick for that!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Dead House
AUTHOR: Dawn Kurtagich

PUBLISHER: Orion Children's Books

PAGES: 430
GENRE: Young Adult, Horror, Suspense, Mystery

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere." 

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson. 

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

What I Liked:
  • The premise of this book is a really good one. I've never read a book focusing on a character suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder and I loved that most of it was told from the diary entries of Kaitlyn, the 'alter' rather than Carly who is supposedly the original and 'correct' personality. Kurtagich did a great job at highlighting the loneliness that Kaitlyn feels at being stuck in the night and I was completely enthralled to hear her distaste at being described as a 'symptom'.
  • Kurtagich chose a very unique method of telling the story and I have to applaud her bravery on this front. There is no continuous narrative, but instead a composition of parts: newspaper articles, police interviews, psychiatric reports and described video tape footage. The last was particularly intriguing because I felt like I could really envisage it, it was written so well! Kurtagich didn't miss a detail in that respect.
What I Disliked: 
  • It was during the second half of the book that things began to fall flat for me. Kurtagich had already introduced a pretty hefty number of plot elements but instead of drawing them all nicely together, she decided to introduce more. As the book got closer to the end, I felt more and more confused abut what on earth was actually happening and the final conclusion provided me with very few answers. A shame, because if it had been tied up properly, this book could have been excellent!
Overall Conclusion:
This book began as the ultimate Halloween read for me. Personality disorders are always fairly creepy to read about, but they weren't the focus of this book's scares and I thought that Kurtagich mixed 'crazy' and the supernatural very well. But this was a mystery that I wanted to be solved by the end, and it simply wasn't. In fact, it was made more confusing and I felt like a lot of things were rushed in order to reach some kind of conclusion. It felt jumbled and vague and I'm really disappointed because it had such potential! No one can deny how good the first half's build-up was though and Kurtagich was definitely onto something here.