Friday 31 August 2018

August Wrap-Up.

I am so much prouder of my reading achievements this month, even though I didn't plan to read a lot of what I managed to! I managed six whole reads this month, which is a lot better than usual considering the slump I've been in and out of this year!

  1. 'The Bone Knife' by Intisar Khanani. I adored this short story and can't believe it went unread on my Kindle for so long! Khanani is a great author, with a wonderful way of making a small tale feel like an epic. Great characters, world-building and plot, and I'm thrilled that her next series will focus more on Rae! 4.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'The Crown & The Arrow' by Renée Ahdieh. Another short story, this time set in the world of Renée Ahdieh's 'The Wrath & The Dawn'. It's the wedding scene, told from Khalid's POV, and so we learn very little other than what made Khalid decide to visit his newest bride. But, we did get to see a few character cameos from his POV and it reminded me why I liked book one so much. 3/5 Stars.
  3. 'Dragon's Debt' by H.L. Burke. I received this book ages ago alongside book one, and never got round to reading it. I actually really enjoyed 'Dragon's Curse' though, despite my dislike for the covers, and thought that this second in the series brought a lot to the table. It feels a little youthful for YA but the character's are memorable despite a four year reading gap and there's a good plot involved. 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Doing It!' by Hannah Witton. What a great non-fiction choice, the first in a long time. Sex and relationships are such a big part of life (or certainly can be) and yet education on the topic is severely lacking. Especially when there's so much to talk about! I applaud Witton for being one of the few people to really hit the nail on the head when it comes to a book on the subject. 4.5/5 Stars.
  5. 'Wires & Nerve' by Marissa Meyer. It's been a little while since reading anything from Marissa Meyer, and I received this addition to her The Lunar Chronicles series as a gift. I liked the graphic novel style, getting to see my favourite characters again, and the new plot a lot. I wish I'd seen more of the personalities I'd loved from the novels though, and hopefully book two won't contain quite so much unnecessary set-up. 3.5/5 Stars.
  6. 'Final Draft' by Riley Redgate. I adore Redgate's work and this third contribution to her literary career was pretty good. Great characters, diversity, a well-crafted plot, and as usual many themes were covered. I just wish I'd connected with it in the same way that I did her previous two novels! 4/5 Stars.

This month I read five books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total so far twenty four.

- The Bone Knife
- The Crown & The Arrow
- Dragon's Debt
- Doing It!
- Wires & Nerve

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

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

- Final Draft

I read one book for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, making my yearly total so far sixteen.

- Final Draft

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

LGBT+: Long Exposure; Kam Heyward
Sequel: The Dragon's Curse; H.L. Burke
Asian Author: The Moth & The Flame; Renée Ahdieh
June, July, August Release: Final Draft; Riley Redgate
Magic: The Bone Knife; Intisar Khanani
Blue Cover: Doing It!; Hannah Witton
A Book You've Been Putting Off: Warrior Witch; Danielle L. Jensen
Illustrations: The Good Guys; Rob Kemp & Paul Blow
Yellow Cover: Floored; Various
Freebie: --
Over 5 Years Old: Mrs Rosie & The Priest; Giovanni Buccaccio
Adventure: Wonder Woman: Warbringer; Leigh Bardugo
Someone Else Picks For You: Out Of The Blue; Sophie Cameron
Red Cover: The Penelopiad; Margaret Atwood
Sci-Fi: Wires & Nerve; Marissa Meyer

Book Review: Final Draft; Riley Redgate.

Yay! Another book by one of my favourite, slightly underrated authors. I loved 'Seven Ways We Lie' and adored 'Noteworthy' even more! Redgate is a fantastic author and I really needed to read her third book.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Final Draft
AUTHOR: Riley Redgate
PUBLISHER: Amulet Books
PAGES: 272
GENRE: Young Adult, LGBT+, Romance, Contemporary

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before graduation, Laila’s number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing.

A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval—and fixing her first-ever failing grade—leads to a series of unexpected adventures. Soon Laila is discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, and the beauty of temporary flings and ambiguity. But with her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

What I Liked:
  • Redgate's signature style was very much present! I loved her sense of humour, diverse characters (especially the side characters), and a simple plot that was well-crafted. It also contained some great musings from the MC on a variety of topics - masturbation, LGBT+ relationships, body positivity, grief, friendship and drugs.
  • I liked that Redgate didn't fall into the 'MC falls for cute guy who seems aloof but is secretly pure, misunderstands everything and then finds out that it was ALL A HUGE MISUNDERSTANDING and gets with them' trope. He was aloof for a reason. It wasn't a misunderstanding. And that's okay. Thanks for keeping things interesting.
What I Disliked:
  • While I liked this book a lot, I'd probably name it my least favourite of her three. Part of this is because Redgate created a much more subdued MC, Laila, this time around and I didn't connect with her as much as I did previous MCs. That's not to say that Laila was a bad MC though, she was still complex and well-crafted and I was still 100% here for her. I think my favourite character in the book was Hannah though.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a truly enjoyable read and I'm glad I finally got round to it. Redgate really shows all of those authors that think diversity is a checklist to be ticked off how it's truly done. I'm here for a pansexual, biracial MC ANY day and a lesbian, Korean best friend is also high on my priority list. There were plot threads that seemed to amount to very little, but I think that's the nature of school. Things FEEL like they'll impact largely on your life and then they leave very little damage in the end. A great read that features a writer too!

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Book Review: Wires & Nerve; Marissa Meyer.

I was super stoked to receive this as a gift because I love reading Marissa Meyer's stuff and I am always looking for more from her The Lunar Chronicles series because I love it so much! This is a little different to her series because it's a graphic novel!

TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: Wires & Nerve
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
SERIES: Wires & Nerve (#1)
PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends
PAGES: 238
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young Adult

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. 

With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the series.

What I Liked:
  • Yay! All my favourite characters are back! I really liked how this book began, it gave a great sense of where we are after 'Winter' and what has been happening since Cinder became Queen! I love that it hasn't been smooth sailing too.
  • There's definitely some good set up in this book for an interesting plot, especially for Iko. She deserves to have something to herself, she was such a great character in the original series! I guess it's also nice to see the characters I know and love drawn out too!
What I Disliked:
  • I have to say that I really didn't feel the personalities that I fell for in the original series here. Especially when it came to my beloved Captain Thorne and Cress. I'd been looking forward to seeing them most of all but I was disappointed with what little I saw of them.
Overall Conclusion:
Don't get me wrong, I liked a lot of this and think it showed some great promise. The art style was nice too, though again not my favourite. I think most of the problems with this stemmed from the fact that it had a lot of info-dumping and exposition to get through. And it was mostly things that I already knew from the previous books! I think that Iko, and this series, has a ton of potential and I'm certainly invested. I'm expecting to love the next volume more.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Pairs For Classroom Classics [Part III].

This is looking to be a yearly occurrence! I have already done this topic twice before, and Part I and Part II can be found when clicking on the links! What I aim to do with this topic is take classics that we often read in our school classrooms, and find more recent books to compare them to!

1) 'The Penelopiad' by Margaret Atwood.

Classic Pair: 'The Odyssey' by Homer.

Well the reason for this pairing is obvious, because 'The Penelopiad' is a direct retelling of 'The Odyssey' from Penelope, Odysseus's faithful wife's, point of view. It's a modern, feminist outlook on the story and interprets what could have been happening 'back home' while Odysseus was off gallivanting around being the 'hero'. And we get a possible answer to a brushed over mystery from the original.

  ...paired with... 

2) 'As I Descended' by Robin Talley.

Classic Pair: 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare.

I always do a Shakespeare pairing with these lists, and this year I've chosen Robin Talley's reinterpretation of 'Macbeth' - 'As I Descended'. It's a great read, filled with the supernatural elements from the original but with a modern twist. It's set in a school, filled with diversity and a great LGBT+ read. I liked it a lot.

 ...paired with... 

3) 'Thin Air' by Michelle Paver.

Classic Pair: 'The Woman In Black' by Susan Hill.

Okay, so the settings are completely different, but 'Thin Air' shares some things in common with 'The Woman In Black'. Both contain ghosts and scares, but more importantly, atmosphere is the key to making these books work. Are these visions real or imagined? Who are the mysterious figures? And why are they appearing? Both books are filled with suspense, colourful characters, and should be read on a cold evening, with a blanket and hot chocolate.

 ...paired with... 

4) 'Bone Sparrow' by Zana Fraillon.

Classic Pair: 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas' by John Boyne.

I commented at the time of reading 'Bone Sparrow' how much it reminded me of 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas' (I had recently seen the film). Two children? Check. Friendship? Check again. One of them is living inside a camp which he cannot leave, is suffering immensely and is persecuted because of his culture and beliefs? Triple check. Both are harrowing for similar reasons, but 'Bone Sparrow' gives a fresh and frighteningly modern outlook.

 ...paired with... 

5) 'Goodbye, Perfect' by Sara Barnard.

Classic Pair: 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov.

There are a lot of reasons that 'Lolita' and 'Goodbye, Perfect' are very different but they both highlight a controversial topic. 'Lolita' is famously narrated by a charming but disturbing man who is sexually attracted to young, underage girls. Sara Barnard's eye-opening read focuses on the best friend of a young girl who runs off with her teacher and sparks a nationwide manhunt. I loved her writing as always and I really recommend this as a companion piece more than anything.

 ...paired with... 

6) 'Going Bovine' by Libba Bray.

Classic Pair: 'Don Quixote' by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

If you want a crazy plot, then 'Don Quixote' is famously the go to read. Though I've never read it, I have read 'Going Bovine' and I have to say, I haven't read anything nuttier than that in my lifetime. The whole thing feels like a drug trip, and that's coming from someone who has never been high in her life.

 ...paired with... 

7) 'I Am Malala' by Malala Yousfazai.

Classic Pair: 'The Diary Of A Young Girl' by Anne Frank.

We all know that 'The Diary Of A Young Girl' is a harrowing record, kept by a Jewish girl whose family were persecuted and forced into hiding during Hitler's reign. Well, 'I Am Malala' was equally harrowing to me, and a more modern true account. As the Taliban rise to power in Pakistan, Malala fights for women's rights to education and finds herself a target. I found this a gripping read and learnt so much while reading it.

 ...paired with... 

8) 'Neverland' by Shari Arnold.

Classic Pair: 'Peter Pan' by J.M. Barrie.

'Neverland' is a re-imagining of J.M. Barrie's classic characters, and I loved every second of reading it. Different names but clear, complex personalities made for an intriguing take on things and I particularly liked that the focus of the story was a serious one. It deals with grief and death in the family, a whole new spin on what Neverland could mean.

 ...paired with... 

9) 'Orangeboy' by Patricia McCormick.

Classic Pair: 'Brighton Rock' by Graham Greene.

Graham Greene's classic tale tells the story of gangs, riots and plenty of violence. I found many of these themes were echoed in Patricia McCormick's contemporary YA read, 'Orangeboy'. Set in London instead of Brighton, I liked a lot about this read and I think it would make a great comparison!

 ...paired with... 

10) 'The Goblins Of Bellwater' by Molly Ringle.

Classic Pair: 'Goblin Market' by Christina Rossetti.

Probably one of my favourite poems that I studied in school, 'Goblin Market' tells an intriguing tale of two sisters who stumble upon the magical market of the fae and while one remains responsible and mature, the other is enchanted. Ringle's adaptation puts a modern spin on these events, but it was so good and I loved that I could relate to the characters a whole lot more.

 ...paired with... 

Monday 27 August 2018

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

So, next to nothing has been happening this week other than another couple of days off before going back to work. I'm quite tired as a result, but have found time to read and do the things I wanted to which was nice! I've faced a few fears at work too and it looks like I have a clearer goal for development in my career, which has made me feel very productive! Also, I am going wedding dress shopping on 17th September! I'm so excited!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Silence Of The Girls' by Pat Barker: Netgalley (21/08/18)
- 'The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding': Netgalley (21/08/18)
- 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov: Bought (21/08/18)
- 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho: Bought (21/08/18)
- 'Hippie' by Paulo Coelho: Netgalley (24/08/18)

Sunday 26 August 2018

Book Review: Doing It!; Hannah Witton.

Well, it has certainly been a while since I've read anything non-fiction and it made a nice change! I've definitely needed some changes in my reading choices this month in order to progress, and I'm pretty pleased with myself so far!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Doing It!
AUTHOR: Hannah Witton
PUBLISHER: Wren & Rook
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Reference, LGBT+

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Figuring out how to build and maintain healthy relationships - with your family, friends, romantically and with yourself - is a crucial part of being a teen. It's not easy though, particularly in a digital age where information and advice are so forthcoming it can be hard to know who or what to believe or trust. Porn is everywhere, sexting is the norm and messages about body image are highly mixed. Hannah combats this by tackling subjects ranging from masturbation and puberty to slut shaming and consent in an accessible, relatable and extremely honest way. She is unembarrassed about bringing little-discussed topics into the open, and as such empowers teens to have the confidence to conduct relationships on their terms, and in a way that they feel comfortable with.

What I Liked:

  • The fact that I almost punched the air and yelled at the top of my voice "FINALLY A DECENT BOOK ON SEX EDUCATION!" is definitely a big plus. I wish this book had existed when I was a teenager, and honestly, I think it should be in every school. There's a ton of information for young and old, inexperienced and experienced to peruse at their leisure. I actually learnt a lot!
  • Hannah has a great voice. It's strong, confident, and eager to share and that's perfect for this kind of book. Also, I loved the anecdotal style, be it hers or other people. I also love that she didn't speak for people, and allowed them to use her book to tell their stories.
What I Disliked:
  • There are no real dislikes other than the fact that there's a lot to cover and certainly can't be read in one sitting. Of course it isn't designed that way but the point still stands. This is very much an overview too, encouraging the reader to seek other sources of information and do research. If you're looking for specific information on a topic, you will need something more focussed.
Overall Experience:
I really liked this book a lot and I'm glad it was chosen as my next read! Sex is a necessary topic to cover: there's a lot of important information and it isn't spoken about nearly enough in day to day life. There are a ton of things that I was insecure about when I was younger, and to a small extent still am today. If I'd read a book like this my perspective might have been a little different!

Monday 20 August 2018

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

I actually had quite a busy week towards the latter half, because I had some time off and Mat and I gave ourselves plenty to do during our few days rest! Firstly, on Thursday we had to take our little kittens to the vet for a check-up and injections. They are getting a lot bigger and very healthy, I'm pleased to announce! After taking them back home, Mat and I went back out to go and see The Mousetrap at the St. Martin's Theatre. We liked it a lot and actually had a hard time guessing the murderer! I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for a good whodunnit!

Saturday, Kiara came round to record an episode of our ongoing Podcast (the website for which can be found here, please give it a listen!) and then in the afternoon Mat and I went to have dinner with his family and walk around London with them for a bit! It was a lovely day, followed up by an even lovelier one going Bridesmaid dress shopping with my sister and friends! We had a good look round and have a much clearer idea of what we want!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Sisters Of The Winter Wood' by Rena Rossner: Netgalley (13/08/18)
'The Twisted Tree' by Rachel Burge: Netgalley (17/08/18)

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Book Review: Dragon's Debt; H.L. Burke.

Woah, was it really 2014 that I read the first book in this series?! That's so long ago! Honestly though, I stumbled upon this while clearing out my Kindle and remembered that I rather liked book one. I knew it would be short too, so it was good to sit down and read it!

SOURCE: Author Sent Copy
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Dragon's Debt
AUTHOR: H.L. Burke
SERIES: The Dragon And The Scholar (#2)
PUBLISHER: Amazon's Digital Services
PAGES: 196
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Scholar Shannon Macaulay and the Dragon-Prince Ewan have been traveling together for a year when their blissful companionship is interrupted by a cryptic message from their friend Martin.

"Come to Westshire. Edmond needs you."

Drawn to his brother's aid, Ewan finds himself hunting an elusive monster: a winged beast kidnapping young women and stealing their memories. Its latest victim is the Princess Brighid of Westshire, the very girl Edmond has recently fallen for, to the disapproval of her temperamental father, King Riley, and stoic brother, Prince Ryan. 

Ewan is determined to rescue his brother's beloved, no matter what the cost. But when Ryan's eyes fall upon Shannon, the dragon realises the cost might be greater than he is willing to pay.

What I Liked:
  • Despite the four years since reading book one, I still remembered these characters. And this world. And in fact, that made me really happy! It's a testament to a writer's skill that they can write such a memorable book, especially if it was short.
  • The plot of this book was pretty fun too, I especially liked that it developed the characters further. We got to see more of Edmond and Martin, but with plenty of Ewan and Shannon to keep me happy. I liked the newest character, Ryan, too. Sure he was a bit grumpy and the third point in a love triangle, but he was respectful and likeable all the same.
What I Disliked:
  • This series is a tad juvenile. Many people have tagged it as YA, but I disagree with that judgement as it feels more like a middle grade read really. The dialogue was a little forced at times, and I didn't feel as much of that connection between Shannon and Ewan that I liked from book one.
Overall Conclusion:
I think this series has some real potential, despite the covers that I'm really not a fan of. Good characters and a likeable plot, it's a tad predictable but a fun, easy read for sure. I don't know that I'll be racing to read the next book, but I certainly won't discount this series!

Monday 13 August 2018

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

Got a fair bit of reading done this week to make up for the lack of it last week! I'm quite pleased with myself actually and it all sprung from me going through my Kindle to see of there were any gems that I'd forgotten about. I've also been doing a lot of Wedding organising, which has been a lot of fun! A good friend of mine from my new job also came round to see me which was lots of fun! We played Outlast, a horror video game (I'm a big fan of those) and watched Fantasia which was a real throwback!

I Read...

I Received...

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Mini Review: The Crown & The Arrow; Renée Ahdieh.

I really enjoyed Ahdieh's 'The Wrath & The Dawn' so I was quite excited by the idea of reading this short story from Khalid's POV!

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Crown & The Arrow
AUTHOR: Renée Ahdieh
SERIES: The Crown & The Arrow (#0.5)
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Novella

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. 

This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. 

Tonight would be different.

Overall Conclusion:
This was a pretty good addition to 'The Wrath & The Dawn'. My favourite thing about it was to get a little glimpse at events from Khalid's POV, seeing as I adored him so much in the original book. I loved seeing his thoughts on the other characters too, each making a brief cameo and reminding me why I need to continue with this series. This was however very short, I'm very glad that it was free because 11 pages is not a whole lot of content. I didn't feel that I learnt much from this take on events either, which was a shame.