Wednesday 28 February 2018

February Wrap-Up.

February certainly went a lot more quickly than January did! I certainly felt like my reading didn't go so well either, but I did manage a few good reads before the month was out! I got through four which was better than I thought I would do!

  1. 'Gilted' by Jill C. Flanagan. Yeah. I really didn't enjoy this first book. It was short, with a gorgeous cover and I could clearly envision the book it should have been: an exciting urban fantasy thriller, with great characters and writing. It missed the mark on all those things and I hated it's attitude towards both rape and women. Ugh. 1.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones. On the contrary, I adored this book! I'm so disappointed in myself for not reading it sooner! I'm a big fan of the film Labyrinth and this took the story-line and made some sexier, darker changes. Jae-Jones wrote very well and her world-building was fantastic. 5/5 Stars.
  3. 'The Dark Days Pact' by Alison Goodman. This was the sequel to 'The Dark Days Club', a book I read and adored a couple of years ago! I really liked this second book in the series, though I fell into a very unfortunate reading slump while reading it. Great characters, a sizzling romance, fantastic plot progression but the pacing was pretty slow. 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Goodbye, Perfect' by Sara Barnard. Yet another wonderful read that really rounded off the month fantastically. I can always rely on Sara Barnard for wonderful Contemporary YA. There were fantastic characters, it covered a lot of great issues and I think that Barnard gave a sensitive subject the care and attention it deserved.

This month I read three books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total so far seven.

- Gilted
- Wintersong
- The Dark Days Pact

This month I read zero books for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total so far zero.

I read one book for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total so far two.

- Goodbye, Perfect

I read two books for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, making my yearly total so far five.

- Gilted
- Goodbye, Perfect

Here is the end result for Pretty Deadly Blog's Bookish Bingo Card.

Red Cover: The Dark Days Pact; Alison Goodman
2018 Debut: The Toymakers; Robert Dinsdale
Death: Matilda; Mary Shelley
Winter Release: Ghost Stories; Whit Taylor
Sci-Fi: Fairest; Marissa Meyer
Numbers In Title: Six Of Crows; Leigh Bardugo
2017 Release I Missed: Wintersong; S. Jae-Jones
Green Cover: Goodbye, Perfect; Sara Barnard
Freebie: --
Friend's Fave: The Happy Prince & Other Stories; Oscar Wilde
Fae, Fairies & Fair Folk: The Cruel Prince; Holly Black
Trees On Cover: The Gifts Of Reading; Robert MacFarlane
Wintry Title: In The Pines; Erik Kriek
Music Themes: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years Of Pilgrimage; Haruki Murakami
Cold Setting: Wolf Winter; Cecilia Ekbäck
Romance: Gilted; Jill C. Flanagan
Book That Was A Gift: The Worm & The Bird; Coralie Bickford-Smith
Holiday Theme: A Christmas Carol; Charles Dickens
Villainous: Renegades; Marissa Meyer

Book Review: Goodbye, Perfect; Sara Barnard.

This was a fantastic choice for my last February read, and I'm so glad I got round to this one and managed to get through it so quickly! Barnard is one of those authors whose books I automatically turn to, KNOWING it'll be good. I wasn't sure about the synopsis, but it surpassed my cautious expectations by miles!

SOURCE: ARC Sent By Publisher
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Goodbye, Perfect
AUTHOR: Sara Barnard
Macmillan Children's Books
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.

What I Liked:
  • The. Characters. Were. Amazing. Honestly, I loved Eden as an MC. She was a great representation of a teenager, a great mixture of naivety and 'growing up'. Her relationship with Connor was everything. It reminded me of my relationship with my fiancé, as we got together when we were teenagers. Also, a big shout out to the McKinleys. Best family ever! I loved that Barnard decided to make Eden and her sister adopted into the family, as I like to see diverse, interesting family situations in contemporary YA!
  • Barnard covered a lot of topics in this book, not just the touchy subject of a teacher-student relationship. Pressure on teenagers, exams and curriculum, responsibility, the power of journalism, underage sex, adoption & fostering, family relationships, young carers, WOW. So much stuff and it's truly what I love about Barnard's work. She is, and will forever be, on my MUST READ list.
What I Disliked:
  • I really can't think of anything. The plot does become a little stuck in one place after the initial revelation, until the final climax chapters. But I think that while it slowed the pace down, it meant that the issue was handled with care and looked at from all perspectives.
Overall Conclusion:
I mentioned that my expectations were a little cautious. I don't usually like the idea of reading about student-teacher relationships, it's a topic that makes me feel uncomfortable but I really felt that Barnard handled it perfectly. I was really hooked by the whole thing, especially the action-packed finale, and became so invested in the lives and relationships of every character. Seriously, I was so impressed and I'm so happy I got to read this book!

Monday 26 February 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (19th February - 25th February)...

Well, this week has been massive for me! I am officially changing my job! This is big and exciting (and scary) for me as I don't tend to cope overly well with change, I'll be honest. But, I've been challenging myself to try new things and am desperate for a different environment. I will miss my old workplace a lot, but it's time to move on and this new job is a lot better for me in terms of pay, location and hours. Exciting!

Aside from that, not an awful lot else has happened. My friend from my home town was still here on Monday and she stayed for a while, which was lovely! The rest of my week has been taken up by work, watching some more of The Walking Dead and wedding planning (cakes and floristry to be specific)!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Things Bright & Beautiful' by Anbara Salam: Approved by Netgalley (23/02/18)

Sunday 25 February 2018

Book Review: The Dark Days Pact; Alison Goodman.

This took me way too long to read. I've fallen into a bit of a slump for the last couple of weeks, but finally I've begun reading again. Slumps are the worst! Still, this was a good book, despite not liking it as much as I loved book one.

SOURCE: Bought (Gift Money)
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Dark Days Pact
AUTHOR: Alison Goodman
SERIES: Lady Helen (#2)
Walker Books
PAGES: 500
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

June 1812. 

Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen and her maid, Darby, to spend the summer season in Bristol, where Helen can sharpen her Reclaimer powers. Then the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work take hold, and his sanity begins to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. 

The stakes are ever higher for Helen, and her decision will truly change the world…

What I Liked:
  • The world-building in this book is just as impressive as book one. Goodman is so meticulous in her detail, and I loved learning so much about the historical context of the early 1800s as well as the expansion on the rules of the Deceivers that Lady Helen is fighting. Merging the fantastical 'saving the world from demonic beasts' and very real 19th century British society and culture was awesome!
  • The characters were very memorable and well-developed. It has been a while since reading book one of the series, but I loved seeing Mr Hammond and Darby again, as well as meeting new characters like Sprat! Helen and Carlston grew a lot during this book and I liked watching their sizzling romance develop, though I'm sad that there wasn't more of them together in this book.
  • Goodman writes very well and executed this plot perfectly. Helen really came into her own as a strong, clever character and it felt like an important part of the overriding story instead of filler material. I'm very keen to find out what happens next!
What I Disliked:
  • I didn't like this as much as I liked book one. As much as I felt Goodman did a great job with this sequel, the huge amount of time it took me to read this meant that I found it a little too easy to put down for days on end. That's partly down to the slump of course, but also this book's pacing was very slow.
  • That cliffhanger was horrible! While the pacing picked up towards the end, I didn't enjoy the conclusion because I (rightly) guessed that it was going to be one of those 'everything has gone wrong' endings that I hate so much. The ones that leave pretty much no hope and make you have to pick up the next book to make sure everything ends okay. I find them too disheartening and not in the least bit satisfying.
Overall Conclusion:
I really felt that Goodman continued so much good work here. The concept behind this series is fantastic and I enjoy seeing the vast amounts of research that have gone into it. I also loved seeing more character revelations (Hammond's life is really expanded upon here, as well as his relationship with his sister Margaret) and expansion. I just really wish that the pace was a little quicker so that I could have remained transfixed more easily, and that I had at least been able to come out of the end not feeling like absolutely everything had gone wrong. Still, I will be reading book three.

Monday 19 February 2018

Last Week's Shananigans (12th February - 18th February)...Happy Valentine's Week!

Well everyone! How are we all? It's the end of Valentine's week and time for my weekly update. I'm really not pleased with my reading progress to be honest...I've hit a bit of a slump. It's a shame because I am enjoying my current read but not making much progress! That being said, I've had a pretty big week doing other things!

I had the first part of the week off in order to spend some time with my lovely fiancé. We had a relaxing few days off watching The Walking Dead, the film The Circle for the first time, playing games and going out for dinner/ordering takeaway. At the weekend a close friend of mine came up to visit and we went out on Sunday to go and watch Markiplier's You're Welcome tour! We're both big fans of the gaming Youtuber and we found the improvised comedy really funny! Big thanks to Rosie (aforementioned friend) for getting us VIP tickets, I'm still so excited by how awesome it was and how much fun we had!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'Starfish' by Akemi Dawn Bowman: Approved by Netgalley (12/02/18)
- 'A Thousand Perfect Notes' by C.G. Drews: Approved by Netgalley (12/02/18)
- 'The Truth About Alice' by Jennifer Mathieu: Approved by Netgalley (12/02/18)
- Foxes Unearthed' by Lucy Jones: Bought on Amazon (18/02/18)
- 'Bookworm' by Lucy Managan: Approved by Netgalley (18/02/18)
- The Illumination Of Ursula Flight' by Anna-Marie Crowhurst: Approved by Netgalley (18/02/18)

Monday 12 February 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (5th February - 11th February)...

I've had a bit of a bad week reading-wise I'm afraid but everything else has been pretty good. I'm still recovering from a pretty bad flu of course...okay it hasn't been that good. But on Sunday I started my four lovely days off. My parents came to see me in the morning, which was lovely! We spent a lot of time talking about wedding plans which are going really well! After they had left, Tash came round and we binge-watched most of Season 7 Once Upon A Time which is fantastic by the way. I can't believe it's the last season! George came round later on when Mat came home and the four of us had a lovely catch-up, delicious vegan stir-fry, and watched some of Season 4 B99!

I Read...


I Received...

'Swansong' by Kerry Andrews: Approved by Netgalley (06/02/18)
'The Gloaming' by Kirsty Logan: Approved by Netgalley (08/02/18)
'The Smoke Thieves' by Sally Green: Approved by Netgalley (09/02/18)
'Whistle In The Dark' by Emma Healey: Approved by Netgalley (09/02/18)


Top Ten Tuesday: Books Added To My TBR Ages Ago That I Still Haven't Read

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books That I Added To My TBR Ages Ago & Still Haven't Read'.

I'm getting back into this meme for sure! This is actually a really good subject choice for me too because there are so many. I've decided to go for the oldest that I actually own and are sitting on my shelf wondering why I haven't picked them up yet...*sigh*.

1) 'The Painted Man' by Peter V. Brett.

I received this as a birthday gift ages ago, when I was still at school! I still haven't got round to reading it though...

2) 'The Wise Man's Fear' by Patrick Rothfuss.

I'm very disappointed in myself for not reading this one, I loved 'The Name Of The Wind' so much! Rothfuss writes beautifully. I think I'm going to have to re-read book one though before starting this.

3) 'Inheritance' by Christopher Paolini.

Another book that I should have read by now. I devoured the previous three and pre-ordered this. As soon as I picked it up on the day of it's release, I put it in the bookshelf and promptly...forgot about it? Again, I'll have to re-read the series.

4) 'Angela Carter's Book Of Fairy Tales' by Angela Carter.

I'm 99% sure that this will be a five star read for me. Carter is famous for combining fairy-tales with feminism and unique twists which are all things I enjoy. Goodness knows why I haven't got round to this gorgeous book yet!

5) 'Dodger' by Terry Pratchett.

I love Oliver Twist (at least...the musical film) and the Artful Dodger is my favourite character. This should have been an instant hit with me. It's another birthday present I received a long time ago too.

6) 'The Sight' by David Clement-Davies.

I actually can't remember how old I was when I got this book, or how I got it, but I'm pretty sure it was fairly early teens. The cover is awesome and I really like the synopsis, even now!

7) 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern.

This one is probably the one I received most recently of this collection, but it's been on my radar for so long that I think it deserves a place on the list. I'm really upset with myself that I still haven't read it!

8) 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce.

I bought this so long ago and I remember it was when everyone was talking about this book. I'm glad I reminded myself I have it actually because it fits one of my categories for this year's reading challenges so nicely!

9) 'Shiver' by Maggie Stiefvater.

Don't. Just don't. I bought this while in Wales in a cute little book shop and I'm horrified that I've yet to read any of Stiefvater's books.

10) 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett.

I have never read this book or seen the movie but I really should have done by now. Wow, this list has actually reminded me just how large my TBR pile is! Yikes!

Monday 5 February 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (29th January - 4th February)...

January is finally over!

Seriously, it has been a long month for everyone. I haven't necessarily hated it like some did, but I did begin to feel that I was stuck in some sort of time loop. I'll be honest, I didn't really do an awful lot this week except watch Legend Of Korra with Mat (and some Grimm), work, and reading/blogging. I did receive some great book post though!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Words In Deep Blue' by Cath Crowley: Approved by Netgalley (01/02/18)
- 'Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them' by J.K. Rowling: Bought on Amazon (01/02/18)
- 'The Devil's Highway' by Gregory Norminton: Sent by Publisher (01/02/18)

I Posted...

January Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For February

Sunday 4 February 2018

Book Review: Wintersong; S. Jae-Jones.

I'm pretty darned lucky that the moment I fell ill, I was reading this book. I'm certain that if I wasn't so heavily invested in it, I would have spent two days sleeping and not got through it at all because I had so little energy! This book really cheered up what could have been an awful weekend...

SOURCE: Illumicrate
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Wintersong
AUTHOR: S. Jae-Jones
SERIES: Wintersong (#1)
Titan Books Ltd
PAGES: 511
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling

RATING: 5/5 Stars

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds―and the mysterious man who rules it―she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

What I Liked:
  • I really loved Jae-Jones' writing. Like, so much. It flowed nicely and mixed Liesl's ordinary life with her family beautifully with the wilderness and magic both above and underground. Fantasy is all about being visually appealing and it's often hard to get that right in a book. Kudos for the gorgeous visual descriptions!
  • The characters were mostly fun too. I liked the Goblin King a lot. Swoon. Jae-Jones got the balance between his dark, cruel side and genuine, caring side just right (I'm a sucker for characters that dance between 'hero' and villain' with a slightly tragic backstory)! I found myself so intrigued as soon as Liesl met him and watching their love/hate relationship develop was a joy. Also, a big shoutout to my new favourite adorable side character Josef and his adorable lover Francois. I will go down with that ship forever!
What I Disliked:
  • There were a couple of issues that I should probably mention. The first half was definitely better than the second, which was a little sad. This was mostly down to Liesl's personality change - which made me realise that I wasn't her hugest fan. She might have been a bit drab and judgemental in the first 50% but at least she was clever and cautious. In part two, she turns into a sulky, tempestuous, horny, overly-emotional, spoilt woman and it vexed me slightly. Especially as she's judged her sister so hard for those behaviours to begin with.
Overall Conclusion:
I'm not going to deny the couple of problematic areas there were: slut-shaming, 'musical' sex, and some weird pacing in the second half. But I literally could not put this book down because I fell so heavily in love with the world that Jae-Jones wrote and want more of it! I also cannot deny that five star feeling that the world gives me. Jae-Jones tagged a huge cliffhanger on the end too and I'll definitely be reading 'Shadowsong' with the hope that the characters will be a little better developed and I'll love it even more!

Friday 2 February 2018

Book Review: Gilted; Jill C. Flanagan.

I've been putting off this read for a while now. It's an early Netgalley request that I received in haste, before realising that it's erotic fiction which is really not my thing. But I wanted something quick to start the month with, and the idea that there would be other elements (fast-paced thrills and supernatural powers) kept me interested enough. I need to start listening to my instincts more though, it would seem...

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Gilted
AUTHOR: Jill C. Flanagan
SERIES: Gilt (#1)
Wyrd Publishing
GENRE: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Romance

RATING: 1.5/5 Stars

Ash needs to make money. Her brother is going to trial, her sister is pregnant, her mother’s health isn’t great and her father is a dreamer who spends all their savings on the next best thing. 

Good thing she was brought up to con people. Even better that she has always had a little bit of ‘mind magic’ as her Mam calls it. 

Small cons are all she’s ever done. This time her family needs a big chunk of cash and the best way to do that is a long con. 

The target? A honeypot scheme involving a powerful man running for Governor. 

And the Gubernatorial candidate’s Communications Officer? Too bad he’s the first guy she’s been interested in, well, forever. 

Even though politics are dangerous, politicians may be deadly.

What I Liked:
  • To be honest...not a whole lot? I think the concept was a really cool-sounding one. I normally enjoy books with con-artists (especially if it's a family thing) and the fact that the had powers too? Awesome. The powers were a big draw here. That, and the cover.
What I Disliked:
  • Oh boy, get ready! Let's start with the writing shall we. I think that if a book is written well then you can't really fault it because it means the story just wasn't for you. However, if a book is a bit of a jumbled mess and OH SO REPETITIVE then you certainly can. This is a short enough story (which turned out to be a bit of a blessing) without saying the same facts over and over.
  • The characters? Meh. I didn't like protagonist Ash. She spent far too long talking about how much she loved her twin sister but also her sister is way better and prettier than her and she's so ugly because she's not stick thin and blonde. Ugh. Ash's family pretty much sucked too, with little to no depth other than a phone call. Let's not even go there with Charles but Lee? Am I supposed to root for a guy who refers to women as 'colleagues or fucks' in his mind? Just because he doesn't say it out loud doesn't make it alright.
  • There's really not a lot of anything in this story and it's paced so badly.  There's way too much explanation and not enough action, meaning the 'finale' is over in ten seconds. It falls pretty flat too. I wanted to at least have a bit of substance in there but no... even the erotica was reduced to reflections upon the sex and a very badly handled rape scene. Trigger warning for those affected by that sort of thing: it hits you like a ton of bricks, is there for pretty much no reason other than to further plot, blames the victim a lot and just made me want to throw up.
Overall Conclusion:
This book felt like a waste of time. Bad writing, poor character building and terrible pacing. It was too short, but I was actually pleased about that in the end because it meant I got through it quickly! I liked the idea of certain elements here but they weren't executed well at all. Kudos to the cover designer though, it looks so awesome! I just wish the content had matched.

Thursday 1 February 2018

Planned Reads For February.

Finally, February is here! I have some extremely exciting reads lined up for this month as well. I'm going to be doing a lot of catching up on series I've yet to start/finish, and I'm going to be reading some exciting new releases too! Cover-wise, I have to say that February is looking a lot more colourful than January did.

I am currently reading 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones right now and I am loving it. I think we've pretty much established from some of my recent reads that I've become enamoured with fantasy novels about the fae/faeries, and I've especially become a little obsessed with Goblins. This book is giving me fantastic Labyrinth vibes (which is one of my favourite films) but also seems a little darker and sexier, which I'm enjoying immensely.

I've also been looking forward to reading this second novel in the 'Lady Helen' series by Alison Goodman, 'The Dark Days Pact'. I read the ARC of book one a couple of years ago and was surprised by how much I loved shipping Lady Helen and Carlston, and how good a paranormal retelling it was of the classic love story 'Pride & Prejudice'.  I look forward to catching up with this series.

I am truly sorry for how long it has taken me to read this next choice. I think I've been vowing to read Taran Matharu's 'The Novice' for over a year now, and I just never quite get round to it. I shan't let it slip through my fingers this month though, I promise! I'm actually pretty excited to get into a proper fantasy series again!

I read 'The Bees' by Laline Paull so long ago, and I was hoping to get round to 'The Ice' last month but didn't quite make it. Not to worry though, as it's top of the priority list for February! The synopsis sounds really intriguing, and I think there needs to be more books focussing on friendship. 

This next read is a pretty hotly anticipated read for this year by most of the blogosphere. I'm set on reading more diverse books this year (I always aim to expand my reading) and that cover alone convinces me that 'The Belles' by Dhonielle Clayton is something to be exciting about. The fantasy world sounds interesting enough but I've been careful to avoid reading too much about this one. I want to go in with fresh eyes.

Being sent an ARC of 'Goodbye, Perfect' by Sara Barnard was very exciting for me. I have read both of her previous books and loved them, and reading the synopsis for this one makes me think she's going to go a little darker this time. I love contemporary reads that aren't afraid of their subject matter. Barnard has a track record for diversity and inclusion in her work, so I'm excited by that too!

I have been putting off finishing this series for too long now and it's driving me insane because I've enjoyed it so much! 'Warrior Witch' by Danielle L. Jensen is going to be the final chapter in Cécile and Tristan's story and I am sincerely hoping for a happy ending. They've had it pretty rough so far! Also, seeing as I'm a big fan of mystical creatures right now, I want to go back to the land of the trolls!

I'm really sad I haven't read any of Adam Silvera's books. Not one. But this Edelweiss read, is set to change all that and become my first proper LGBT+ read of the year! Yay! 'They Both Die At The End' is probably going to break me in a hundred million different ways, lets face it, especially if the title is anything to go by. But it has a very intriguing synopsis and I need to start reading more books that I'm scared will make me cry.