Wednesday 31 May 2017

May Wrap-Up.

This month has been much better for me than it was before! I actually read five books! One of them wasn't on my intended TBR, but I'm still very pleased with my progress and can't wait to share my reads with you!

  1. 'A Darker Shade Of Magic' by V.E. Schwab. I loved this book. I'd heard a lot about it from various book bloggers in my circle that love YA Fantasy, and while I took a long time getting round to it I found it to be well worth the wait. Firstly, the characterisation was great. I loved Kell and Lila, particularly as their relationship was friendship orientated and held no romantic interest. The best bit of this book was the world-building though. It took a very simple premise and made it into something really cool - parallel universes that didn't feel in the least bit sci-fi! 5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read this on the train home because I wanted a really short read for the half hour journey, and was in the mood for some non-fiction! Adichie is probably one of my favourite feminists - I have watched her talking online about so many different topics but it always relates back to feminism. I've also read and loved 'We Should All Be Feminists' and think it's vital reading if you're interested in the topic. This book felt more personal as it was addressed to a friend and not a general audience, but still rung true and held some great suggestions. 4.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'Noteworthy' by Riley Redgate. Another great read from this month, May was full of them! You may all be aware that Contemporary YA is not my usual thing. This year I've been really trying to read more of the genre to get more of an understanding of it at it's best and I've found some awesome books as a result. This was one of them. The book was almost flawless - oodles of diversity, great characters, engaging plot and a setting that sent me flying back to my own education. I deep, reflective commentary on American society that Redgate snuck in there too. Great stuff! 5/5 Stars.
  4. 'The Trap' by Alan Gibbons. While this was my most disappointing read of May, it was by no means the worst book I've ever read. It actually exceeded my expectations because I was deeply worried that it's controversial subject would promote a message I didn't agree with. However, as it turned out, it did the exact opposite. Two of the three POVs were really interesting and gave such insight into Muslim life and how ISIS operates, while one was extremely boring and almost made parts of it unreadable. 2.5/5 Stars.
  5. 'The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes' from 'The Complete Sherlock Holmes' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I felt that it was about time I got to another collection of short stories from the famous author of everyone's favourite detecting duo. I don't think stories revolving around Sherlock Holmes will ever get old for me. I love Holmes' sarcastic nature and his methods of deduction are fascinating to watch in action. These stories introduced both Mycroft and Moriarty, two beloved characters from the series, and they were everything I imagined they would be. 5/5 Stars.

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

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

- Noteworthy
- The Trap

This month I have read two books for the 2017 New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to four. My reads were:

- Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions
- Noteworthy

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

- Noteworthy

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

- Noteworthy
- The Trap

Next up, here's how my Bookish Bingo card ended up for the final month of the challenge!

Muslim Main Character: The Trap; Alan Gibbons
Paranormal: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here; Patrick Ness
Just Words On Cover: Not If I See You First; Eric Lindstrom
Sisters: Three Dark Crowns; Kendare Blake
Magic: Hidden Huntress; Danielle L. Jensen
Non Fiction: Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen...; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Series Finale: Homecoming; Claire Legrand
Thriller: Blood For Blood; Ryan Graudin
Freebie: --
PoC On Cover: Radio Silence; Alice Oseman
Multi POV: A Darker Shade Of Magic; V.E. Schwab
LGBT+ Main Character: Fairy Tales For Modern Queers; Emily Reed
Adapted To TV/Movie: The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes; Arthur Conan Doyle
2017 Debut: Noteworthy; Riley Redgate
Retelling: Ash; Malinda Lo
Scary: The Loney; Andrew Michael Hurley

Illumicrate Unboxing! (Box 7)

The box of my birth month is here, and these are usually my favourite because they feel like extra Birthday presents! I didn't mind too much that it came late in the month, it meant May ended with a bang!

I'm really excited to delve into the contents of the box with you guys, it's my favourite one that has come in a while! So many wonderful objects to unwrap, I was actually surprised that there was so much to find in it! Plus, there were two books! I was so happy, especially as I felt the last box was a bit emptier than previous boxes! This made up for it big time!

BOOK ONE: 'Truth Or Dare by Non Pratt. Oh my gosh, how lucky am I? A book by Non Pratt! I have never read anything by this lady, but I've been desperate to for a long time because her books have been recommended to me on so many different occasions! Also, does this seem like the perfect Summer read? Yes it does! I love the idea of their being two stories in one, the same series of events told by alternative perspectives, and it's an interesting way of doing things! The book came with a letter from the Author, which was a fun read. I always love the little extras that Daphne includes!

BOOK TWO: 'The Waking Land' by Callie Bates. I hadn't heard a lot about this book before receiving it in this box, but I do know it is a Fantasy, and we all know how much I love them! With that in mind, I was really happy to receive this ARC! It certainly looks like an interesting read, with a pretty cover to boot. I liked the letter from the author and a signed bookplate too, it was a nice touch. I look forward to finding time to read this!

Feyre Mug: While Sarah J. Maas' latest installment of the series has been controversial, I have read and liked the first book 'A Court Of Thorns & Roses'. I've recently acquired book two in order to see what happens to Feyre and her fairy friends, so I'm actually really pleased to have received this mug. Do I have too many mugs? Probably. Do I care? Not a jot. The artwork on the mug was by Merwild, check out her DeviantArt here!

Mermaid Lagoon Candle: I. Love. Candles. Honestly, Mat and I light them around the house all the time because they smell so good. And this exclusive scented candle from Flickerink is no exception and smells exactly how I imagine a Mermaid Lagoon to smell! Exotic, a little flowery, with a fruity punch! It's inspired by Neverland of course, and I'm really a big fan that is anything remotely Fairy Tale related!

Swish & Flick Keychain: I think my favourite thing about Illumicrate is that it introduces me to some really talented, creative artists who own small businesses and design exclusive pieces for the box. I really like keychains actually, and this was a beautiful Harry Potter inspired addition to my collection. It's an exclsive colour too, but do check out Nutmeg and Arlo for more designs, keychains, badges and cards! You won't regret it!

Enchanted Door Hanger & Print: I think this might be my favourite thing in the box! I'm a huge fan of Beauty & The Beast and TJ Lubrano has really outdone herself and captured my attention. What a talented lady! I have the hanger on the door to our open-plan reception room, and the print is pride of place nearby! I'll definitely be looking at possibly getting something commissioned by her in the future!

Map Bookmark: It did take me a minuscule amount of time to figure out what this was, but once I had done I thought it was really cool. A corner bookmark with a map design by Penguin Co. It's very clever actually and I would definitely recommend it to people that have a habit of dog-earing their books to save a page. It will help protect those precious pages!

I also received some extras from this box:

- A 'Windfall' poster
- A 'The Gender Games' badge
- Some 'The Taste Of Blue Light' postcards

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Most Anticipated Releases For The Rest Of 2017'.

Wow. Has it been that long since I did a Top Ten Tuesday post? I'm actually really sad that I haven't been able to keep on top of these like I wanted to, because I really love this meme! This is a great topic to dip into it again though! I have so many. I've decided to focus solely on 2017 releases rather than books I generally plan to read!

1) 'How To Stop Time' by Matt Haig.

Publication Date: July 6th 2017

I have, for a long time, wanted to read one of Matt Haig's fictional works. Having read 'Reasons To Stay Alive' and following his Twitter, I'm getting vibes that I'll enjoy it very much! I read the synopsis of this one and really liked it! A classic love story with a bit of a twist: immortality. I like the idea of it not being down to vampires or monsters, but a rare condition. I think this is going to be a really cool book!

2) 'They Both Die At The End' by Adam Silvera.

Publication Date: September 5th 2017

This is a bit of a leap forward in time, and I've never read anything by Adam Silvera, but the synopsis of the story is really interesting! A mysterious company that tells people when they're going to die? An app that lets you find people to spend your last day with? Very dystopian, and it has been a while since I read good Dystopian fiction! I think this could be a very reflective piece of writing too and have heard great things about Silvera's writing, so I'm excited!

3) 'Girls Made Of Snow & Glass' by Melissa Bashardoust.

Publication Date: September 5th 2017

That title just screams Fairy Tales, right? And I love them! This one intrigued me especially due to it's association with Feminism and classic retellings such as 'The Bloody Chamber' by Angela Carter. The synopsis very heavily alludes to 'Snow White' but with a more rounded, fresh outlook on the roles of the Evil Queen and Snow White respectively. Women fighting to change the lives set out for them by the men in their lives, I really hope for a kick-ass, original ending to this tale.

4) 'One Dark Throne' by Kendare Blake.

Publication Date: September 19th 2017

*Hyperventilates*. How can this book not appear on my most anticipated TBR for the latter half of 2017? I read 'Three Dark Crowns' last month and it was one of my favourite reads of April! There were a few issues with the pacing, but I loved Blake's writing style and intense plotting when it came to the three sisters battling it out for the throne. I thought I knew exactly how it would pan out, and I was totally wrong. It also gave me some 'Game Of Thrones' vibes but as I'm such a fan of the show, this worked in it's favour! I can't wait to read it's sequel and uncover fresh intrigues, mysteries and plots though I'm still secretly rooting for a happy ending for all...

5) 'That Inevitable Victorian Thing' by E.K. Johnston.

Publication Date: October 3rd 2017

I am all about anything released by E.K. Johnston after reading 'A Thousand Nights' all that time ago, and this is a release that has really caught my eye! It is set in the near future, but with a huge change in history that means while technology has advanced, a Victorian outlook on the world still remains. There are balls, and a Queen (directly descending from Queen Victoria), political intrigue and even pirates! I'm really excited by the ARC reviews I'm seeing about the intricacies of the world-building and it's appeal for history nerds (which I am, proudly) so this is looking like a real winner!

6) 'All The Crooked Saints' by Maggie Stiefvater.

Publication Date: October 10th 2017

Would you all shoot me if I said I haven't read anything by such a famous author yet? Hopefully not, because it's true. I've heard wonderful things of course, and keep meaning to, but have just never got round to it. Still, this could be a great place to start and definitely sounds very different from her other works. I'm loving the idea of some potential Hispanic representation going by the names and setting (Colorado, USA). It's been labelled as Fantasy too, so I'd be interested to see how magical elements are incorporated into this story.

7) 'The Curses' by Laure Eve.

Publication Date: October 10th 2017

'The Graces' is a book I read back in 2016, during it's debut year, and loved it. The unreliable narrator thing was really interesting, and I loved it's focus on how rumours can change lives for better or for worse. It had great Southern Gothic charm and ended with a little bit of a cliffhanger, so I'm thinking it would be cool to read the second book and see what happens! It's going to be narrated by Summer this time, who was my favourite character in book one so that's another bonus! Hooray!

8) 'A Skinful Of Shadows' by Frances Hardinge.

Publication Date: October 10th 2017

I liked the first Hardinge book I read, 'Cuckoo Song'. I loved the second, 'The Lie Tree'. I figure that this is going to be even better! I was pleased to read another historical setting, the English Civil War, and even happier to see that it would include ghosts! Hardinge is great with incorporating a dash of horror into her Fantasy novels so this should be great! Also, my favourite books are normally comprised of a gang of reluctant allies who are a little shadier so I like the sound of outcasts, misfits, criminals and angry, dead bears very much!

9) 'Retribution Rails' by Erin Bowman.

Publication Date: November 7th 2017

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I actually majorly freaked out (in a good way) when I saw 'Vengeance Road' was getting a sequel because it's still so memorable to me as being one of the best reads I've had. Cowboys plus YA? Yes please! Bowman did it so well before too and while this story is told from the POV of new characters, I have a feeling we'll be meeting old friends along the way! I sure hope so anyway! Also, look at that gorgeous cover! I think I'd go so far as to say it tops book one, and there's no way I'm not owning a physical copy of this.

10) 'Renegades' by Marissa Meyer.

Publication Date: November 7th 2017

This is probably the book I'm most excited about, and it's the last to be released! Everyone who has read and loved 'The Lunar Chronicles' series will know why too. Meyer is back! And this time with a story about superheroes, which along with Fairy Tales, is another love of mine! There's no way I'd ever be missing this first installment of a new series by Meyer. I've vowed to read everything by her of course, she's that good!

Monday 29 May 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (22nd May - 28th May)...ANOTHER HAUL?!

Oh no! The last week of May is normally horrible because it reminds me that my birth month (yes, I've designated myself a whole month...don't judge me...) is over! Some great things happened this week though and so I at least ended up going out with a bang! The main thing was, of course, Comic Con on Sunday! I love Comic con but this year I got to go with just Mat for the first time ever, which was a lot of fun!

If you have never been to a convention like this before I really recommend it. There's always such a great atmosphere and comfortable feeling between everyone who attends and the best part is that so many people choose to dress up! Mat and I didn't this time around, but we do plan to in October, hopefully as Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, our joint favourite film!

The best part of Comic Con is of course the haul of awesome bits and bobs bought there! Here's mine:

The first thing I went for was a lucky dip type bag of bits that were themed around My Neighbour Totoro and I was so pleased with the result! Two little key-ring plushies of Totoro and the Cat Bus plus an amazing new Totoro hat! I actually lost my fox-style hat around winter so I was pleased to get a new one! We also saw and fell in love with a Totoro-themed cushion, seeing as we were in need of a new one for our sofa! Our next mission was to find a Jack Skellington Pop! figure to keep the Sally one I bought on my birthday shopping trip! It took a lot of searching but we finally found one! While looking, I also bought a Chinese Dragon-styled ring that I've named Haku after the character from Spirited Away. Those beautiful, huge plushies were next and I was actually surprised that Mat let me buy them seeing as I already have far too many soft toys, but they're mine now and I adore them. Lastly the two hoodies you see there were from David & Goliath, and they had some great designs!

All in all, a lot of fun and I can't wait for October!

I Read...

Note: I read 'The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes' from this collection only.

I Received...

- 'Popular' by Mitch Prinstein: Approved by Netgalley (22/05/17)

Sunday 28 May 2017

Book Review: The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes; Arthur Conan Doyle.

I have not read from 'The Complete Collection Of Sherlock Holmes' for ages, and was really in the mood for some more adventures with my favourite sarcastic detective! I certainly got them in this next set of short stories!

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: The Complete Sherlock Holmes (The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes)
AUTHOR: Arthur Conan Doyle
SERIES: Sherlock Holmes (#4)
PUBLISHER: Barnes & Noble Classics
PAGES: 142
GENRE: Mystery, Classics, Historical Fiction

RATING: 5/5 Stars

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are overshadowed by the event with which they close - the meeting of the great detective and Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime. 

Their struggle, seemingly to the death, was to leave many readers desolate at the loss of Holmes, but was also to lead to his immortality as a literary figure.

What I Liked:
  • I really enjoyed a lot of the stories in this book. Even the ones which I felt had slightly disappointing endings were still fantastically written stories that kept me guessing from start to finish. I definitely think that Doyle had a great talent for short stories in particular! Favourites included 'Silver Blaze', 'The Stockbroker's Clerk', 'The Reigate Squire' and 'The Resident Patient'.
  • In 'The Greek Interpreter' we got to meet Mycroft! I loved the idea of a lazy, overweight guy who was better than Holmes but too sleepy to do anything with it! Not only that, but 'The Final Problem' finally marked our introduction to Professor Moriarty and the famous Reichenbach Falls scene! While the story was a little rushed, I loved it and Moriarty was everything I imagined!
What I Disliked:
  • There were some stories that I enjoyed but I felt could have been rounded off a little better. Stories like 'The Naval Treaty', 'The Gloria Scott' and 'The Greek Interpreter' were a little unpolished and could have done with a bit more of an ending. Nevertheless, the build-up was great and I loved them still.
Overall Conclusion:
Great stories, and a great talent, it is easy to see why these stories have become such classics! I'm so excited about the prospect of reading more of these stories, and I love the loose thread of an actual bigger plot arc being poked through each story. The introduction of Mycroft and Moriarty was most welcome too. Looking forward to more!

Monday 22 May 2017

Last Week' Shenanigans (15th May - 21st May)...

Sadly, it's no longer my birthday. However, Monday was still part of my birthday weekend and as a result Mat and I went to Central London during the day! We started at Bella Italia, which is a delicious Italian restaurant that we've visited and enjoyed before. We stayed there for quite a while, and it was a nice atmosphere because it was not busy at all! After eating, Mat and I went to the House of Mina Lima, a graphic design duo responsible for a majority of the props and posters in the Harry Potter series and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them! We were taken on a tour around it where we got to see detailed replicas (and some originals) of them. Afterwards, we made a quick trip to Orc's Nest (a board game shop where I bought an expansion for our Game Of Thrones TCG) and Forbidden Planet!

Throughout the week, not an awful lot else happened because I was working! On Sunday I had Tash come to visit me, which was lovely because finally we got to finish Once Upon A Time season 6! It was AMAZING! Anyone whose watched it will appreciate exactly what I mean, especially regarding the musical episode! I can't stop listening to the soundtrack either now, so there's that. It's a long wait for Season 7, and I hear there'll be a lot of changes, but I'm ready!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Thirteen Reasons Why' by Jay Asher: Approved by Netgalley (15/05/17)
- 'Finding Audrey' by Sophie Kinsella: Bought On Amazon (16/05/17)
- 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas: Bought On Amazon (16/05/17)
- Every Thing Every Thing' by Nicola Yoon: Bought On Amazon (16/05/17)

Saturday 20 May 2017

Book Review: The Trap; Alan Gibbons.

I was a bit on the apprehensive side about this book, mostly because I know it used to have a different title and covers a very controversial subject matter. While I wasn't totally blown away by it, I was relieved to find that I did enjoy it and liked the message that the author was trying to promote!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Trap
AUTHOR: Alan Gibbons
Orion Children's Books
PAGES: 192
GENRE: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

MI5 agent, Kate, receives a tip-off about an asset, who seems too good to be true. Amir and Nasima are trying to make friends at their new school but struggling to keep a terrible secret. A group of jihadists are planning something. And behind it all stands Majid. Brother. Son. Hero. Terrorist.

Spanning Iraq, Syria and England, The Trap grapples with one of the greatest challenges of our time.

What I Liked:
  • The message of this book was a good one, and I was so relieved about that! Yes, it covers the sensitive topics of terrorism and racism but it does it really well. Gibbons clearly did a lot of research when it came to the chapters focusing on on Amir and Nasima's Muslim family life, and the atrocities that are happening in Syria. The juxtaposition of the two was really nicely done.
  • I liked Majid, Amir & Nasima's chapters the best. The twins POV was sweet and talked well about family values and the real Muslim community. Peaceful, happy and just like any other family. Majid's chapters were very tense and showed a much harsher reality, and it really dug deep into what ISIS is all about.
What I Disliked:
  • Kate's MI5 chapters were so boring. Seriously, I loved the multiple POVs but they were the most forgettable parts of the book and I really wanted to skip them for the most part. Kate was not a particularly likeable or inspiring character and she had little to no personality. I didn't really feel like her perspective added anything to the story.
  • Gibbon's writing skills were nothing really to go crazy about unfortunately. If it weren't for the heavy subject matter I'd think I was reading a children's book thanks to the maturity of it. I felt like it was all a bit basic for me, certain sentences and phrasings were over-used and it was lucky that it had the plot going for it at least.
Overall Conclusion:
I thought this book was okay despite my original reservations. In fact, I think it's because I went in with low expectations that I liked it as much as I did. It had a great portrayal of Muslim life and I liked that it's message was one of peace and positivity. There was clearly a lot of research put into it. However, there were still problem areas of the book and too many parts of it were uninteresting for it to ever go beyond 'mediocre'.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Book Review: Noteworthy; Riley Redgate.

I was really looking forward to this book since I loved 'Seven Ways We Lie', Redgate's debut, so much! It was actually one of my favourite reads from last year and very much cemented Redgate in my mind as an author whose work I would enjoy no matter what! Having read 'Noteworthy', I stand by that judgement!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Noteworthy
AUTHOR: Riley Redgate
Amulet Books
PAGES: 336
GENRE: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT

RATING: 5/5 Stars

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped...revered...all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

What I Liked:
  • Let's start with the Performing Arts college setting because I loved it! I actually went to University to study Performing Arts myself, so I was overjoyed to find such a specific setting I could relate to. The fight for rehearsal spaces, dramatic breakdowns, music vs. theatre student rivalry and even backstage crew were 100% spot on! Redgate's writing is as great as I remember too, and this book is so funny. I actually had to stop myself from laughing out loud on public transport a fair few times, and it's actually very rare for a book to make me laugh like that!
  • The characters were so well written! Whatsmore, as well as being complex and three-dimensional, they were so diverse! Jordan, the book's MC, was fun & feisty and I really rooted for her from the beginning, as well as revelling in the fact that she was Chinese and bisexual! It's so difficult to find books with such intersectionality so I adored this! While a little fuelled by testosterone at times, I adored Isaac (I'm a sucker for a cheeky boy), Trav (the anxious perfectionist who perfectly represented me), and Nihal (the Sikh best friend I wish I'd had growing up) and Redgate did a great job of making them all relateable in some way or another.
  • There were a lot of issues covered in this book and amongst the comedy and banter came a lot of reflection on society and American life. Redgate looked at class and poverty, the impact of hospital fees, racism, sexism, privilege, and even mental and physical health. So much diversity and so much to talk about, but never once did it get in the way of the actual story.
What I Disliked:
  • For me, most of these weren't dislikes as such. But they are things I can see that might bother some people. There weren't as many technical terms as I expected, but there were some and they would only be really understood by a niche number of people. However, I suppose that's no different to a crime thriller containing vocabulary found only in the local police department, and so I think it can be forgiven! I wasn't totally convinced by the mini romance plot either, but I grew to like it even though it didn't totally add to the story.
Overall Conclusion:
I really loved this latest book by Riley Redgate. Even more than I loved 'Seven Ways We Lie' because I found it to be a more fluid, funny, likeable story and it still had the charm of her debut! Amazing character work, fantastic writing skills and a relateable setting that made me think of my own Uni campus! I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it, it covers so many issues and contains so much diversity effortlessly! Bravo Miss Redgate!

Monday 15 May 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (8th May - 14th May)...IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! Haul Included!

That's right guys and gals, it's my birthday week! I have to say, in some ways it has been a little tough. A lot of things happened that threatened to make it a horrible week. But so many fantastic things happened too and I am really focusing on those because in the end I had a great time! On Monday I went back to Ashford to see my family and sort out a couple of appointments. I met my sister for lunch with Mat too and we had a lovely catch-up and food at a nearby pub. The evening with my parents was great fun too and we ate a delicious curry before heading home.

My next day off was on Friday and I took it as a well needed lazy day after a tough week, as well as the start of four days off for my birthday! Hooray! Mat bought me some chocolate and treats and we watched Howl's Moving Castle, one of my all time favourite films.  The next day was of course my birthday! I had such a great day with my wonderful boyfriend who treated me like a princess (tiara and all) all day! We played a fun game of Tales Of The Arabian NightsIf you're into board games, I highly recommend it! Then in the afternoon we went to Stratford's shopping centre for a treat! I had a wonderful time and ended up with quite the haul of presents!

I got vinyls from my family - Busted's Night Driver, Lana Del Rey's Born To Die and Mumford & Son's Sigh No More which is incidentally my favourite of their albums. I had it on CD growing up so it was a real pleasure to add it to my growing vinyl collection! I also got the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 CD (I am a huge fan of the mix of songs on those albums) and Moana, a gorgeous Disney animated film! Mat got me an iPad Pro and pencil and I feel so lucky! My old tablet was dying a bit of a death so I needed this one! While out shopping I also got a Funko POP figure of Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, a Happy Birthday candle by Lily-Flame and a tea set from Typo!

The next day, I saw all of my friends! It was a lot of fun sending time with all of them and playing games! I received some lovely gifts too - a new colouring book, lip lustre and travel pass from Tash & George, a cool Typo mug-flask from Genny & Joe AND a beautiful necklace from Karl and Megan! It was a wonderful end to a roller-coaster of a week and really made sure that my birthday week ended with a bang!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Sleeping Prince' by Melinda Salisbury: Bought on Amazon (09/05/17)
- 'Godblind' by Anna Stephens: Approved by Netgalley (11/05/17)

Monday 8 May 2017

Book Review: Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

On my way home from Ashford I decided I wanted to read something short, that I would get through during the journey! I decided to go with this non-fiction piece by one of my favourite feminists! It's styled as a letter to a close friend but there's some great ideas in their about how we, as feminists, can go about raising our children so that they are more aware of the society they live in and how it can be changed.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions
AUTHOR: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
GENRE: Non Fiction, Essays

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie's letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions - compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

What I Liked:
  • As usual Adichie has totally hit the nail on the head. I've listened to her talk and read 'How To Be A Feminist' so know her thoughts of current feminism and society right now. This book takes a little glimpse into the future about how we, as feminists, have a responsibility to raise our children to be forward-thinking in the same way. Adichie gets it so right and being Nigerian, it's interesting to read about it from a different cultural standpoint too.
  • I actually think most, if not all, of these suggestions are not only helpful but make a lot of sense and show great perception and intelligence. They are purveyed in the style of a humorous letter to a close friend and it was a nice tone for the piece. It made it feel more personal.
What I Disliked:
  • Again, what I disliked was not a huge issue for me. The biggest thing for me was probably the length (it was short, but I kind of liked that too because I got it finished in half an hour and I felt like I achieved something) and while I liked the personal nature of a letter, there was a sense of reading something private that I wasn't supposed to.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a fantastic read. It's short but very honest and from the heart, and has re-affirmed Adichie as my favourite feminist. Her thoughts are very in line with my own and every time I read or watch her, I feel like I learn something! The book contains some great suggestions for the future and how we can continue spreading the message of feminism to the next generation. Every feminist should read Adichie's essays!

Last Week's Shenanigans (1st May - 7th May)...

I've done a fair few things this week, starting with a trip to the cinema on Monday to see Guardians Of The Galaxy 2! I'm glad I went, despite feeling pretty unwell. In fact, I was so unwell that I had to have Tuesday off! But the film was really good and I realised how long I'd been wanting to see more of Groot, Rocket, Drax etc. I'd missed them! Tash & Meg came round on Wednesday evening when I came home from work and it was a lot of fun catching up! Then it was a friend's birthday on the 5th so Mat and I went to visit them for the evening and had a lovely time playing games! All in all, a great week for my social life!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful' by Eric Lindstrom: Approved by Netgalley (04/05/17)
- 'Release' by Patrick Ness: Approved by Edelweiss (05/05/17)

I Posted...

Planned Reads For May

Sunday 7 May 2017

Book Review: A Darker Shade Of Magic; V.E. Schwab.

As someone who tends to put books off for a long time (I am not fast enough to get through hundreds a month) this was one series that I really wanted to get to sooner rather than later, and finally I achieved it! I've seen many great reviews on this book and now I'm going to be adding another glowing one to the collection!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: A Darker Shade Of Magic
AUTHOR: V.E. Schwab
SERIES: Shades Of Magic (#1)
Tor Books
PAGES: 400
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Kell is one of the last travellers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. 

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveller, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. 

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

What I Liked:
  • The best part of the book was definitely the world-building, and the concept behind it. It was Fantasy but revolved around a simple idea. Four different Londons: Ours (historical and 'grey'), Red London (filled with magic and riches), White London (reduced to poverty and desperate to conquer) and Black London, destroyed forever. I just adored how such a simple idea could be so well planned and filled with political context, lore and historical richness. Some Fantasy authors try too hard and over-complicate or under-think things. It was nice to see the perfect balance!
  • I really loved the characters too. Kell and Lila were both fantastic MCs with a lot of loveable personality and I rooted for them both all the way through. This book had some great villains too. In fact, I can't think of a single character I didn't like. Schwab clearly has a real knack for character development and motivation and I appreciate that, especially in Fantasy because characters so often fall into archetypes.
What I Disliked:
  • The only thing that I was a little disappointed in was how the last 10% played out. The book seemed to be pointing towards adventures in Grey London and Red London before a cliffhanger that would lead to White London for book two! But as it turned out, I was wrong and it made those final chapters feel a little on the rushed side. I would have liked for Lila and Kell to spend more time in White London!
Overall Conclusion:
This book was fantastic, and definitely my favourite fantasy book I've read for a while! I've been having great fun with YA contemporaries so it was nice to get back into a genre I adore. Schwab writes really well and I loved her world-building, characterisation and plot! It was a bit of a shame that the last few chapters rushed so hurriedly through the 'final showdown' but I'm still excited about what more this series could possibly bring! I'm so excited to read book two!