Friday 31 March 2017

March Wrap-Up.

I've had another tough month reading-wise and it was my final two reads that stopped it from being a complete disaster! A bit too much of a close call I think! However, I did manage six reads, five of them being from my original choices and one short extra!

  1. 'Homecoming' by Claire Legrand. I read 'Winterspell' a long time ago and have been waiting with baited breath for the next book in the series that was promised. Sadly, this was never to come. Instead, Legrand did release a short 'epilogue' that tells the story of Clara's return to Kane and reunion with Nicholas. It was very sweet and just what I'd hoped though I was disappointed that it was so short. 3/5 Stars.
  2. 'Ash' by Malinda Lo. I have to say, despite high reviews, I didn't actually go into this book with really high hopes, which is why I ended up being absolutely blown away. Fantastic world-building, great characters, an original take on the classic tale 'Cinderella' and best of all an LGBT relationship that feels real. The only thing that stopped a five star rating was the ending, where the choice that Ash ended up making had absolutely no consequences for her whatsoever. 4.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Rest Of Us Just Live Here' by Patrick Ness. As I've come to expect from Ness now, the writing was just as good as his other books. I don't think it would be possible to read a disappointing read from this guy. There's some great diversity in this book (as is found in all Ness books) and I enjoyed the interesting perspective on mental health and being a teenager. Definitely an original take on a traditional 'teen supernatural romance' story. I didn't like the characters so much though, and actually there wasn't much of a plot. 4/5 Stars.
  4. 'Radio Silence' by Alice Oseman. This was by far the best read of the month, if not 2017 so far for me! Why didn't I read it sooner? I've had a great run of contemporary YA reads so far this year and this was no exception. Great characters, amazing LGBT coverage, oodles of diversity, and best of all a good parent-child relationship. I adored this book! Anyone who is like me and still hasn't found time to read this book, then make time because it's so awesome! Also, bonus points for it's 'The Sims' mention and the fact that it's set in Kent!
  5. 'Not If I See You First' by Eric Lindstrom. Another good contemporary read that I probably should have read sooner, but I'm glad to have got to this now. It started off as a less enjoyable read because frankly I didn't like the MC. Lindstrom did a great job at allowing me to read from the viewpoint of a blind girl, but did she have to be so bitter, obnoxious and rude? Seriously, Parker was the biggest bitch I've ever read. At first. This is actually a great story, about self-discovery, trust, friendship and accepting your limitations as well as finding your strengths. Also I thought it was going to be a sickening love story but that was not the focus and I'm so pleased. 3.5/5 Stars.
  6. 'Blood For Blood' by Ryan Graudin. Finished on the same day, this read I enjoyed a little more. I loved the first book in the series, 'Wolf By Wolf' and had a good feeling about it's sequel! I'm glad I got into this book, it was a great read: thrilling, fantastic writing, memorable and unique characters and amazing world-building. It didn't have the spark of book one, nor the plot direction so I deducted some points there. In fact, I found that a little disappointing, as was the predictable 'big twist' at the end. Still a great read though! 4.5/5 Stars.

Now it's time to see how I did with my challenges this month!

This month I have read three books for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to ten. My reads were:

- Radio Silence
- Not If I See You First
- Blood For Blood

This month I have read zero books for the 2017 New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to two.

This month I have read four books for the LGBTQIA Challenge, bringing my yearly total to four. My reads were:

- Homecoming
- Ash
- The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
- Radio Silence

This month I have read six books for the Diverse Reads Challenge, bringing my yearly total to fourteen. My reads were:

- Homecoming
- Ash
- The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
- Radio Silence
- Not If I See You First [Optional Mini Challenge]
- Blood For Blood

Next up, here's how I'm getting on with the Bookish Bingo card and my finished Story Sprites board!

Paranormal: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here; Patrick Ness
Just Words On Cover: Not If I See You First; Eric Lindstrom
Series Finale: Homecoming; Claire Legrand
Thriller: Blood For Blood; Ryan Graudin
Freebie: --
PoC On Cover: Radio Silence; Alice Oseman
Retelling: Ash; Malinda Lo

Book With M/M Romance: Radio Silence; Alice Oseman
Book With Multiple POVs: The Bear & The Nightingale; Katherine Arden
A Retelling: Homecoming; Claire Legrand
Diverse Author: Ash; Malinda Lo
Story Regarding Anxiety: A Quiet Kind Of Thunder; Sara Barnard
'Chosen One' Trope: Ruin & Rising; Leigh Bardugo 
Mostly Yellow Cover: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here; Patrick Ness
A Science Fiction Novel: The Loneliness Of Distant Beings; Kate Ling
Story Centred Around Social Issues: The Bone Sparrow; Zana Fraillon
Male MC With Female BFF/Sidekick: Stargirl; Jerry Spinelli
Dark Contemporary: Under Rose Tainted Skies; Louise Gornall
Mostly Blue Cover: Rebel Of The Sands; Alwyn Hamilton
PoC MC: Orangeboy; Patrice Lawrence
Strong, Independent Female Lead: Not If I See You First; Eric Lindstrom
Wolf/Lupine Element: Blood For Blood; Ryan Graudin
Book Addressing Socioeconomic Topics: Saint Death; Marcus Sedgwick

Book Review: Blood For Blood; Ryan Graudin.

Two books in one day? Amazing! I've basically been reading them alongside each other just to see how doing that feels. Some people like to read a lot of books at once, and some like one at a time. I have to say, I think I will go back to the latter because while two books in one day is a victory, the journey is hard. Not to mention, a little confusing...

SOURCE: Illumicrate/Netgalley
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Blood For Blood
AUTHOR: Ryan Graudin
SERIES: Wolf By Wolf (#2)
Orion Children's Books
PAGES: 496
GENRE: Young Adult, Thriller, Romance, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skin-shift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

What I Liked:
  • Just like book one, Graudin's writing skill is phenomenal. I've never been a fan of Thrillers but I can definitely get on board with books of the genre written by this lady! The action was fast-paced, there were plenty of twists and turns and I liked the way that Graudin re-wrote history: Hitler's victory, a dash of science-fiction that didn't seem too ridiculous for the era, the political and social repercussions, etc. She did a fantastic job!
  • The characters were still likeable in this one. Graudin writes very unique, complicated people into her books but it was good to re-find them in book two. Yael was still the loveable badass that I adored before, Luka was hilarious, and Felix as complicated as you'd expect given his circumstances. Graudin did a good job of reintroducing an old friend too and while I won't give anything away, it was a heartwarming reunion.
What I Disliked:
  • I suppose the biggest thing that I missed was the spark from book one. Yael was on a mission then, filled with passion and determination for her cause. Book two is a story of survival and Yael's lack of purpose meant that she lost her spark. I really missed the motorbike race too! Obviously it would be useless putting another one in for this book, but it really helped book one's plot, whereas book two actually didn't have much of one.
Overall Conclusion:
Without a doubt in my mind, I really enjoyed this book. It had Graudin's fantastic writing and character work that really helped it to be a worthy of conclusion to the duology. I didn't quite give it full marks though because the pang of disappointment was still there: not a huge amount happened, Yael lost the fire that I loved, there was a distinct lack of bikes, and sadly I also predicted the 'big' twist at the end. I'm still really glad  I read this though and enjoyed the series as a whole immensely.

Book Review: Not If I See You First; Eric Lindstrom.

If there's one book that took me by surprise so far this year, it's this one. Partly because I wasn't expecting to like it nearly as much as I did, but also partly because at first, I didn't enjoy it at all!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Not If I See You First
AUTHOR: Eric Lindstrom
Harper Collins Children's Books
PAGES: 321
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Parker Grant doesn't need perfect vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances.

When Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart, suddenly reappears at school, Parker knows there's only one way to react – shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough to deal with already, like trying out for the track team, handing out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened – both with Scott, and her dad – the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem.

What I Liked:
  • While I didn't enjoy this read to begin with for a variety of reasons (more on that later) I began to realise that actually, Lindstrom's writing is so captivating and tells the story of these characters very cleverly. Because actually, this is more of a character study than anything else. I really related to the world-building: this school with it's diverse cast actually reminded me of my own school setting, even though it's set in the USA which I've often read as a totally different environment!
  • I mentioned diversity, but I'll write more on this here. This book's MC, Parker, is of course blind and through her we get a representation that I have never read in a book before. Ever. Every time I stumble upon a book that is unique in it's diversity it makes me feel both sad that I haven't read more books from a blind POV, but also happy that I'm reading one now. I loved the themes covered in this book too: body positivity, friendship, LGBT characters whose sexuality is not the most interesting thing about them, etc.
  • Romance is not the focus! Thank goodness! A lot of readers went into this book thinking they were going to get a 'The Fault In Our Stars' or 'All The Bright Places' style story, filled with deep-thinking teenagers who ponder frequently over the meaning of life and where tragedies such as terminal illness and suicide are romanticised in a way  that is almost inappropriate. Here, this was not the case. Parker spent the entire book working out friendship issues, dealing with the grief of losing her Dad and trying to connect with family she barely knows and now must live with. Watching her grow and develop as a person was the best part.
What I Disliked:
  • It took me a while to connect to this book, and this was mostly because Parker starts the story as an unacceptably nasty bitch to everyone she meets. I rolled my eyes as she snapped bitterly at almost everyone she met and the way her friends called her awful sense of humour 'snarky' and 'why they love her' made me want to throw up. This was more than sarcastic, it was downright rude and I was worried that Lindstrom was creating the most angry, one-dimensional character in history. Luckily, I was wrong!
  • The thing with this novel was that there wasn't much of a story. People who wanted romance will be disappointed. People who wanted an inspiring tale of a blind girl proving that she can run as well and anyone else will be too. Even those wanting a story of the power of friendship or inclusion or a well-rounded ending will be sad. Because this is a story that hints towards all of those things, but doesn't go any further. The ending is hopeful but does not tie up every loose thread that is introduced. We as the reader can only make our own assumptions.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a tricky read to judge because my feelings were very mixed and I was only left with an overwhelming sense that I had enjoyed it at the end, but no real clue exactly why. I've broken it down as best as I could. The characters were impressively three-dimensional (certainly by the end of the story) and I enjoyed watching them all overcome their personal problems while learning the power of finding solace in others. Friendship is a key theme, and diversity is this book's most impressive area. It represents the blind community very well.

Monday 27 March 2017

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

I've had a pretty unsuccessful reading week, it has to be said! In fact, I've had a very unproductive week in some ways, while managing to get a lot done in others. What I have managed is to watch all of Iron Fist with Mat (we're back to The Walking Dead now). It was an enjoyable series but definitely not my favourite of the Marvel series. Mat and I also went to the cinema on Thursday and got to watch Beauty & The Beast starring Emma Watson! Honestly, I loved it! Magical, emotional and with some great additions song-wise. If you're a fan of Disney's new live-action remakes, you'll love this one.

I wish I'd found more time to blog more, write more, do more and read more. I'm really making plans to start bullet journalling and make better use of my time. 

I Read...


I Received...


Monday 20 March 2017

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

So this week has been pretty quiet on the socialising front BUT I did have an awesome Monday out with the love of my life, Mat! We spent the afternoon in Bromley! It's a really lovely area south of London, and we were able to do a bit of shopping, have some dinner (burgers...yum!), take a walk around the gorgeous park and go and see the musical 'Wonderland' which was awesome! I really enjoyed the whole day and took a gorgeous picture of the sun setting while we walked around the park.

Mat and I have also been watching Iron Fist, the newest marvel series and are really liking it a lot, though I have to say it's probably my least favourite of all the series so far. We're actually almost finished with it too, so it'll be back to The Walking Dead when we're done!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Only Ever Yours' by Louise O'Neill: Bought on Amazon (16/03/17)
- 'The Girl From Everywhere' by Heidi Heilig: Bought on Amazon (16/03/17)
- 'How To Be Human' by Paula Cocozza: Approved by Netgalley (16/03/17)
- 'Things I Should Have Known' by Claire LaZebnik: Approved by Netgalley (16/03/17)
- 'King's Cage' by Victoria Aveyard: Approved by Netgalley (17/03/17)

Sunday 19 March 2017

Book Review: Radio Silence; Alice Oseman.

I loved this book. I really don't think there's much else to say other than that because it's my favourite read of the month if not the year so far! Wow! I'm having such a good Contemporary YA year!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Radio Silence
AUTHOR: Alice Oseman
Harper Collins Children's Books
PAGES: 337
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

RATING: 5/5 Stars


What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets. It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

What I Liked:
  • There were so many great things about this book, but above all Oseman was 100% spot on about characters and relationships here! Frances was a great MC, so relateable in her desperate bid to 'fit in' when in fact she was a completely different person. I loved her platonic friendship with Aled: no romancing or love interests here! Oseman is also responsible for the best portrayal of a gay relationship that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. That's not exaggeration. Not to mention a perfect example of a great Mum and child relationship versus a very toxic one
  • I loved the diversity and themes covered in this book: depression and suicidal thoughts, stress, the education system, runaways, etc. And it does so in a thoroughly relateable way. Oseman writes so well too, a real talent! Also, while speaking of relateable, these characters are actually just like real teens: they get ill, they go to the toilet, they are not all white and straight, they PLAY THE SIMS, they text and use social media, all things I did as a teen! I almost cried with relief because reading some books about teen life is almost like stepping into a parallel universe without this stuff!
What I Disliked:
  • Okay this isn't really much of a dislike because I loved the drama and 'teens on a mission' feel of it all, but the end of the book really felt a little on the bizarre side. Aled's mother was almost ridiculous in her villainy and there was a car chase and everything. Again, I LOVED it and didn't care, but I wrote it here because I can imagine that if anyone's going to take offence with this book, that will be the reason.
Overall Conclusion:
This book is so awesome and as I've already said, probably my favourite read of the year so far. I loved it! Alice Oseman is certainly a talent I've been missing out on, I don't want to make the same mistake again and while I've been having a great year so far with YA Contemporary, this is the icing on the cake! I want to be friends with all the characters, am left with a bazillion feels, can't believe I've finally read a book set in Kent (my home county) and NEED MORE ASAP. 'Solitaire' is well and truly on the TBR, that's for sure!

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Book Review: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here; Patrick Ness.

Patrick Ness is one of those authors who, up until fairly recently, somehow evaded me despite being all over the Blogosphere. This is the third book of his I've got to, and though it's my least favourite of the three I still loved it!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
Walker Books
PAGES: 352
GENRE: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBT

RATING: 4/5 Stars

What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

What I Liked:
  • So, the main plot premise of this book is absolutely genius. Anyone who's read any kind of Teen Paranormal fiction has probably encountered a group of teens, one being the 'chosen one' who have to fight against a supernatural threat and survive school at the same time, right? Well what if instead of being the chosen one, you were that character that is both slightly aware of something going on, but not part of the action? This is the idea behind 'The Rest Of Us Just Live Here' and each chapter starts with a mini description of what's going on for the special kids before telling it all from the POV of a 'side character' who would normally barely get a line in. I thought that idea alone was super cool, and once again displayed Ness' knack of mixing genres in unusual ways.
  • I am all about diversity, and this had it by the bucket-load. Different ethnicities and cultures and LGBT coverage both play a big part here, but most of all I liked the attention given to two Mental Health disorders I rarely see given the proper coverage in YA: Anorexia and OCD. Of course I've read about characters with OCD traits who have to wash their hands a couple of times extra or like their desk straight, but never have I read about getting stuck in loops like Mikey does in this book. I realised too that eating disorders are a topic I have never read about either, which was a shocking revelation, so thanks Mr Ness for handling that sensitively too.
What I Disliked:
  • I guess what ended up making this my least favourite of the three Ness reads I've got through is that I didn't gel well with the characters. Mikey was a fairly irritating, pretty selfish and petty narrator a lot of the time who rarely gave me any reason to like or feel sorry for him (aside from the crippling OCD). He also kept telling me how to feel about characters: 'I know she sounds like she's really horrible, and bossy, and rude, but she really isn't and that's how you should feel.' Show me then! Don't tell me what my opinion should be! Henna was another character that made me feel really mad. The way that she treated the men in her life was appalling! I wish that I could have at least empathised with them a little more...
Overall Conclusion:
Despite the characters letting me down a little in this one, I really did enjoy this book a lot. Not all the characters let me down, I'm a firm believer that everyone needs a Jared in their life. Also, Ness' writing was as awesome as ever and I still adored so many things about this book: plot idea, diversity etc. I'm definitely a lifelong Patrick Ness fan, now and forever!

Monday 13 March 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (6th March - 12th March)...

In comparison to the very quiet weeks I've had for the last few days, this one has been a lot busier! On Monday, Mat's Mum came up to see us and the three of us, with Tash, went on a tour of Westminster (the houses of Parliament in particular). Tash actually works for a politician meaning we could skip the queues and huge tour groups which was pretty cool! Among the areas we visited were the House of Commons, the House of Lords (definitely a whole lot fancier) and even the Queen's robing chamber! It was a fun experience and educational at the same time! Afterwards, Mat and I went to dinner with Mat's Mum, before heading home to spend the evening watching TV. It was certainly a fun day out and the start, I hope, of many more fun Monday adventures!

After another week of work (less interesting I'm afraid) I went to Ashford to visit my family for my Mum's day of confirmation at St Mary's, Sellindge. Though I myself am not religious, it was a nice service and so great to see my family that I haven't seen in a while: Aunts and Grandparents alike! Once the service was over, my sister went out for Fish & Chips which I haven't eaten in ages before I got the train back to London! All in all, a lovely day out!

I Read...


I Received...


Monday 6 March 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (27th February - 5th March)...

This week has been a little all over the place work-wise for me because I had to work at a different store for a week. I've also been very productive blog-wise and am pleased to announce that my reading is a little more on track. I have been watching 'The Walking Dead' with Mat and love it! It's been an emotional roller-coaster, but can't wait to watch more. I've really been focusing on ways to try and improve my time-keeping and organisation as well as tracking my moods, expenditures etc. and being more mindful in the process and through this need, I've discovered bullet journaling, which looks so cool! 

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Wicked Like A Wildfire' by Lana Popović: Approved by Edelweiss (27/10/17)
- 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones: Illumicrate Subscription (01/03/17)
- 'Red Sister' by Mark Lawrence: Illumicrate Subscription (01/03/17)
- 'The Bone Knife' by Intisar Khanani: Bought from Amazon (05/03/17)

I Posted...

February Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For March
Illumicrate Unboxing
Bookish Bingo (March 2017 - May 2017) Sign-Up

Book Review: Ash; Malinda Lo.

I've been wanting to read another decent retelling of 'Cinderella' ever since loving 'Cinder' and the rest of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I also wanted to read something a bit different to the usual story I'm used to, and this book definitely fulfilled and surpassed both of those criteria.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

AUTHOR: Malinda Lo
Hodder Children's
PAGES: 291
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling, LGBT

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

What I Liked:
  • Malinda Lo proved herself a masterful writer with this solid retelling of 'Cinderella'. It many of the recognisable traits of the classic tale: a ball, a prince stepmother and stepsisters, fairy magic and romance, but gave them such a spin that actually most of them were not the focus of the story. This LGBT retelling instead focuses on Cinderella's grief and despair as she chases fairy tales and superstition in the hopes of escaping her miserable life. It tells a tale of love coming from the most unexpected places and is a real 'be careful what you wish for' cautionary tale. I loved all of the unexpected twists on the original, especially the way the 'fairy Godmother' was handled!
  • Of course, let's look at the LGBT aspect and diversity in this story because it's done beautifully. In this story, despite the Fantasy setting which normally sees women in an inferior position, the King's royal hunt is always led by a women. In fact, the characters in this book were pretty much solely women save for a few, and the men included had very little to do with the story. LGBT relationships are referred to with the same respect and reverence as heterosexual romance and I loved that there was no struggle on that part. Ash and the Huntress fell for each other without judgement or worry about what their peers may think. I wish more books, especially Fantasy, would integrate LGBT+ relationships in this way.
What I Disliked:
  • This was a surefire five star read up until the very end, because it was so darned rushed in comparison with the rest of the book. I felt like after a gorgeous build-up displaying a choice between giving up her mortal life and paying a debt, or choosing true love and risking a dangerous enemy, our MC ended up stamping her foot about how unfair it all was, then just getting away freely with no consequences whatsoever! It didn't help that at times, while Ash was a great narrative, she lacked a little bit of personality.
Overall Conclusion:
This is a beautiful story for a variety of reasons: wonderfully written, gorgeous world-building and LGBT inclusion to die for. I loved the diversity and clever twists on the original story. I read every page eagerly and devoured this story. It was a bit of a shame that the ending felt so rushed in comparison to the rest of the story, and the happy ending did come a little too easily. The characters were really likeable with an individual spark about them, though at times Ash herself felt a little dull by comparison. But make no mistake, this is a gem of a story, and I shall certainly be reading 'Huntress' which is set in the same world!

Sunday 5 March 2017

Mini Review: Homecoming; Claire Legrand.

I often go to revisit the Goodreads pages for authors whose books I enjoy and of course to find out when the next in a series will be out. I loved Legrand's 'Winterspell' and have been waiting to read the next book in the series. But sadly, this didn't go ahead, and instead Legrand has released an epilogue of sorts. While a little disappointed, I decided to give it a read and here are my thoughts!

SOURCE: Author's Website
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Homecoming
AUTHOR: Claire Legrand
SERIES: Winterspell (#1.5)
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling

RATING: 3/5 Stars

A brief epilogue to Claire Legrand's YA Nutcracker re-telling, Winterspell. Available for free download at Claire's website.

If you enjoyed 'Winterspell' and are wondering what happens next, please enjoy this free short epilogue!

Note: These are literally the best descriptions I could find but in short, it's a brief epilogue on Clara's return to Cane and her reunion with Nicholas.

Overall Conclusion:
Though I was a little sad to find that there would be no book on Clara's return to Cane, I was excited to be reading something that would round up the series because I really liked the first book. This 26 page freebie does it well, acting almost like an extra chapter more than anything. It covers the return to Cane reunion with friends (including, obviously, Nicholas) and I liked that Legrand hadn't let the impact of 'Winterspell' go. Clara still had residual feelings of affection and guilt for Anise's fate, and there was still trouble in the Kingdom as a result. The details were a little vague - this was all about the characters and way too short to focus on much else. Nevertheless, I did get the scene I'd been waiting for between Clara and Nicholas, so that was nice! Thanks Claire!

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Bookish Bingo (March 2017 - May 2017) Sign-Up Post

Challenges such as this and the Story Sprites challenge are really helpful to me because they help me to decide what I'm going to read next of the many books there are to choose from! Last 'trimester' I managed two bingos, but this time I want more! Bekka from Pretty Deadly Blog, the host of this challenge, picked some great categories too!

A gorgeously designed card this time round, I'm loving the blue theme. If you guys have the time, I'd definitely recommend a challenge like this to get you motivated! I love the diversity of categories here too.

Illumicrate Unboxing! (Box 6)

I honestly feel like I've been waiting for this box for an absolute age, but then, it often feels that way because unboxing every few months is so exciting! This one was sent out a little late which Daphne did announce via Twitter, so didn't arrive until the beginning of March. I felt that perhaps an email to all subscribers explaining the situation wouldn't have gone amiss, but as Daphne has been so great for the last five boxes, I wasn't too disappointed!

No change in the design, this definitely seems to be what Daphne is sticking with and I really like it! The box was split into two layers again this month, which really helped to build the excitement and suspense.

I have to say, there were far less items in this box than I'm used to so in comparison, I like some of the past boxes better. However, there were two books in this box too, and one is an ARC! That fact alone makes this three-monthly purchase a real treat, and worth both the wait and expense!

BOOK ONE: 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones. Oh. My. Gosh. I can't believe that Daphne picks this book! Each and every month, it's as if she reads my mind and this was one of the books that I had been really hoping for because I want to read it so badly! For those that love the classic film 'Labyrinth' starring David Bowie, this is definitely going to be a book for you. It features a young girl, a Goblin King, and a mission to rescue a lost sibling. Seriously everything about this book appeals to me, and I squealed so much when I pulled this book out of the box! I'm still squealing now! This book also came with a letter from S. Jae Jones, a signed book plate and a cute bookmark too!

BOOK TWO: 'Red Sister' by Mark Lawrence. So I wasn't expecting this book at all when I pulled it out, and I have to say that I couldn't believe how huge it was! I'm talking 600+ pages! But I was also very pleased because Mark Lawrence is an author that I've ad my eye on for a while, being a fan of Epic Fantasy authors such as George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. The synopsis for this book sounds really cool too, right up my alley! I can't wait to give it a go and see how I get on with it, so thank you so much for the ARC Daphne!

Bare Necessities Pouch: I pretty much started hyperventilating when I saw this because it is so freaking cute! I'm a huge Jungle Book fan and I fan-girl over anything related to it. This totally matches my Jungle Book tote bag! Also, I'm thinking of taking up Bullet Journalling, so this will be extremely useful for holding pens and tools for that! Also, I stalked the Literary Lifestyle Company's website and their are so many cool and unusual things to buy on their, with gorgeous designs! I highly recommend taking a look!

Magic & Mischief Balm: So I get very dry lips. A lot. Any kind of balm is useful to me because it use it so much! I've tried it a couple of times and I really like it. Plain and simple packaging, with a smell of coconut that I like a lot though the balm itself is actually tasteless. It applies pretty well and tingles a little which makes me feel like it's doing something. This is definitely a handy one that will go in my bag. This balm is called 'Magic & Mischief', but there are plenty of other kinds at Bookish Serendipity Co.

A Darker Shade Of Magnets: I'm getting the distinct feeling that Daphne is a fan of V.E. Schwab, considering the amount of Illumicrate goodies I now own related to the 'Shades Of Magic' series! I haven't got round to reading it myself yet, though I'm planning to in the  next couple of months and I really like these magnets. They are definitely going on my freezer! Her Bookish Things is taking a break right now, but it looks like they sell some really nice designs for prints and bookmarks, so I'll be keeping an eye out for when they're back!

Newt Scamander Bookmark: Who loved 'Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them'? I did! Jane's Tiny Things made the cutest looking bookmark of Newt's face, and having browsed the website, she makes a lot of fun magnetic bookmarks too! This was such a fun addition!

I also received some other extras from this box:

- 'Following Ophelia' Bookmark
- 'Flame In The Mist' Sampler
- 'Gilded Cage' Postcard

Planned Reads for March.

The third month of the year! Yikes! I've got some great reads lined up though, ones I've been wanting to get to for a while. Time to play catch-up with the rest of the world!

  1. 'Ash' by Malinda Lo. A leftover read from January, I'm so glad I've finally started this book because it's going to mark my first LGBTQIA read of the year. Frankly, I'm appalled at that fact, but excited too! It's a retelling of the well-known Fairy Tale 'Cinderella' too which is even better, because it has been far too long since I read a retelling!
  2. 'The Rest Of Us Just Live Here' by Patrick Ness. Wahoo! Another Patrick Ness book! I've really grown a fondness for this author, and having read the synopsis I'm very excited about the premise of this book. Another LGBTQIA read too, filled a mix of Contemporary, Fantasy, Science Fiction and no doubt a ton of other genres, as that seems to be Ness' speciality: mixing a ton of genres in unexpected ways!

  1. 'Radio Silence' by Alice Oseman. I have been wanting to read this book for an age, and I have such good vibes about it! I think this is going to be yet another great Contemporary YA and I'm hitting one a month so far, which is awesome! I'm looking forward to absorbing everything that Oseman has to offer and finally reading one of her continually recommended books!
  2. 'Not If I See You First' by Eric Lindstrom. I have literally never read a book with a blind MC. Isn't that frightening? Mental health awareness is important to me, but so is representation for the physically disabled. I'm looking forward to see what Lindstrom has to write, and I have a feeling I am not going to have read anything like this one before.
  3. 'Blood For Blood' by Ryan Graudin. Oh my goodness, I have wanted to read this book since it's publication in November! I'm so glad to have received a copy via Illumicrate and look forward to the sequel of 'Wolf By Wolf' which blew me away in terms of the writing and thrills! I have so many unanswered questions, and book one ended on such a cliffhanger.
  4. 'Fairy Tales For Modern Queers' by Emily Reed. It's been a while since I've tackled a book of short stories, and this seems like a good one to go for! Just reading the descriptions, I can see so much diversity which is always a good thing. On top of that, fairy tales will always be the love of my life! Really I don't see much going wrong here.
  5. 'Red Witch' by Anna McKerrow. I had a few mixed thoughts on the first book of this series, but I'm sticking with it because there were some great moments and Lucy Powrie, one of my favourite Tweeters, sings it's praises like there's no tomorrow! I'm looking forward to a glimpse of the Redworld, as this series could definitely do with going outside the boundaries of the Greenworld!
  6. 'Hidden Huntress' by Danielle L. Jensen. I'm almost ashamed to be writing this now, so long after reading 'Stolen Songbird', but better late than never right? I gave the first book a five star rating and ever since I've been desperately been trying to make time for book two but to no avail. I hope this is the month I get my act together!