Tuesday 30 April 2019

April Wrap-Up.

These next couple of months really are going to be light on the reading side of things guys. Wedding planning is taking up all of my time I'm afraid! But I did manage to squeeze in a few good books here and there. In fact, I managed four!

  1. 'The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up' by Marie Kondo. I started this as a reaction to watching Kondo's Netflix series and wanting to learn more about her KonMari method! This is a great book to get you started, full of some pretty harsh truths and helpful tools. 4.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'A Myth To The Night' by Cora Choi. Sadly, this book wasn't for me. The premise sounded cool, but the execution was pretty poor - stilted dialogue, no character depth, bad plotting and terrible pacing. 1/5 Stars.
  3. 'Fierce Fragile Hearts' by Sara Barnard. I liked this book a lot, and was glad to be reading it, seeing as it continues the story of characters from Barnard's debut, 'Beautiful Broken Things'! It was lovely to be back in Brighton and see Rosie again, though I did find myself a little too irritated with Caddy and Suzanne's behaviour in this one. 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'And The Mountains Echoed' by Khaled Hosseini. My sister has been recommending Hosseini's books for as long as I can remember and other friends told me to read them too. This is my first of his and despite the fact that I don't particularly enjoy vague, sad or bittersweet endings, I liked the build-up a lot. 4/5 Stars.

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

- The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying
- A Myth To The Night
- And The Mountains Echoed

This month I read one books for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total three.

- Fierce Fragile Hearts

This month I read two books for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total three.

- A Myth To The Night
- Fierce Fragile Hearts

This month I read two books for the Diversity Reading Challenge, making my yearly total eleven.

- Fierce Fragile Hearts
- And the Mountains Echoed *Mini Challenge: (Middle Eastern OR South Asian)*

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

Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed; Khaled Hosseini.

After much pushing from my sister and friends, and despite my small phobia of reading 'emotionally tough' books, I have managed to read a book by Khaled Hosseini! Yay!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: And The Mountains Echoed
AUTHOR: Khaled Hosseini
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
PAGES: 480
GENRE: Adult, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

RATING: 4/5 Stars

'So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one...'

Afghanistan, 1952. 

Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari - as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named - is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled. 

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.

What I Liked:
  • I adored Hosseini's writing, as I thought I would. He's a masterful storyteller, unfolding the plot with detailed snapshot of the lives of different people and how they are affected by Abdullah and Pari's journey, and the house that they are all connected by. It certainly made for very complex character building.
  • I loved the well-established sense of place and time period in each chapter too. It was good to get a bit of a snapshot into the lives of people from another country and culture elsewhere. The middle-east is a setting I rarely read about, so that was a nice change!
What I Disliked:
  • The ending was a little bittersweet. I knew I wouldn't get a happy one, but I also felt that the story didn't really lead anywhere, and so it felt a bit vague. Despite the story being sold as a painful separation between Abdullah and Pari, this is not really their story or pain. More like everyone else's.
Overall Conclusion:
I liked this a lot, and it certainly paced itself well with lots of interesting plot arcs that were loosely connected. I loved that it started with a fairy tale that set the whole tone for the story too! I think I was a little disappointed that the book seemed to build for no real reason, as this is just a generational snapshot rather than a definitive end. Still - an enjoyable read and I'll certainly consider more of Hosseini's books.

Monday 29 April 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (22nd April - 28th April)...

What a lovely week I've had! I returned to work after Easter, but not for long, as I then had four days off in Cardiff to attend the wedding of one of my best friends from school! It was such a lovely time and it really made me excited for my own wedding happening in a month and a half. Eek!

I Read...


I Received...


Monday 22 April 2019

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

This week has been a little uneventful, other than the fact that it's Easter! I had some time off as a result, and on Sunday Mat and I had a friend round to play some board games and eat lots of chocolate with which was fun!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Kingdom' by Jess Rothenberg: NetGalley (16/04/19)
- 'Kingdom Of Souls' by Rena Barron: NetGalley (18/04/19)
- 'Patron Saints Of Nothing' by Randy Ribay: NetGalley (21/04/19)

Sunday 21 April 2019

Book Review: Fierce Fragile Hearts; Sara Barnard.

I have been looking forward to reading Sara Barnard's latest release for a long time, and I finally did! Barnard's books really do hold a special place in my heart, and this was a sequel for her debut, 'Beautiful Broken Things' which made it even more special!

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Fierce Fragile Hearts
AUTHOR: Sara Barnard
SERIES: Beautiful Broken Things (#2)
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Children's Books
PAGES: 354
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. 


She's back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they're about to leave for university. 

When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you're the one left behind?

What I Liked:

  • It was really nice to get a follow-up to Barnard's debut, and she did a great job of reminding those that have read the previous book a while ago of what happened, though this could also be read as a stand-alone. Barnard's writing, as usual, was a joy to read.
  • I really liked some of the relationships in this book, particularly between Suzanne and Dilys. I teared up at that friendship a few times, it was very touching. I also loved the addition of Matt, an adorable, charming character and great book boyfriend material!
What I Disliked:
  • I think my main issue with this one was the fact that I really disliked some of the old characters compared to the first book. I'm thinking of Caddy in particular, who was spiteful and whiny! I thought that she was a terrible friend! I also felt very irritated by Suzanne's selfish attitude every now and again and that's a little sad as she was the POV character.
Overall Conclusion:
I liked this. It continued 'Beautiful Broken Things' well, using the same Brighton setting I remember loving in the first book, but also adding in more recently relateable experiences for me - moving out and into a place of my own, adult life and responsibilities, and keeping long-distance friendships going while at University etc. Sadly, I didn't like it as much as the first in the series thanks to some frustrating character choices and that's a little sad.

Monday 15 April 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (8th April - 14th April)...

Another wedding-centric week, and I really can't believe how close the big day is getting now! This week Mat and I had to go and view the venue again, and I had another alterations appointment, and so my dress is finally sorted! Hooray! I also saw a good friend of mine with whom I am working on a project, which is super exciting!

I Read...

I Received...


Sunday 14 April 2019

Book Review: A Myth To The Night; Cora Choi.

This has been on my NetGalley list for a while, and I was kind of intrigued by the idea of the plot, so I thought I'd give it a go!

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: A Myth To The Night
AUTHOR: Cora Choi
SERIES: A Myth To The Night (#1 - #5)
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
PAGES: 265
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Ghost Story

RATING: 1/5 Stars

Once home to the illustrious Order of the Crane -- guardians of the world's myths and legends -- Stauros Island, now in the hands of the Order of the Shrike, is an elite university whose students are guaranteed positions of power upon graduating. 

However, a dark curse hangs over the island: students are disappearing. The school officials declare it the work of a demon, and blame Hugh Fogg -- a young monk of the Order of the Crane who died 400 years earlier. 

Could the spirit of a young man who died in 1615 come back to haunt an island and terrorise its students? If so, for what purpose? A Myth to the Night is Hugh's story and his struggle to see his mission complete. 

What I Liked:

  • I thought that the idea sounded pretty cool. Ghosts, figures of folklore from around the world, two battling ancient Orders and all at a University on an Island! I didn't know what to expect, but I knew it would be different!
What I Disliked:
  • The plot was absolutely all over the place and totally threw me. There was just so much to it and a lot of unnecessary sub-plots, and the pacing was way too fast throughout most of the story so really didn't take time for a reader to catch their breath!
  • I really didn't like the characters either. Far too two-dimensional, with no personalities as such - they were just somewhere on the emotional spectrum all the time, often on the extreme end. It meant that the dialogue felt immature and stilted!
Overall Conclusion:
I really didn't enjoy this read, sadly. The concept was very different and had a lot of original elements to it, but it was not executed well at all which was sad. I'd have liked to see a slower pace, tidier plot and better developed characters as I think this could have had some potential with these things!

Monday 8 April 2019

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying; Marie Kondo.

Having watched Kondo's Netflix show, I knew I wanted to read the books that she has written and a friend kindly gifted me this one! I read it in a day and learnt a lot!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying
AUTHOR: Marie Kondo
SERIES: Magic Cleaning (#1)
PUBLISHER: Vermillion
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Non-Fiction

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Transform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the incredible KonMari Method. Japan's expert de-clutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method.

The key to successful tidying is to tackle your home in the correct order, to keep only the things you really love and to do it all at once – and quickly. After that for the rest of your life you only need to choose what to keep and what to discard.

The KonMari Method will not just transform your space. Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change. You can feel more confident, you can become more successful, and you can have the energy and motivation to create the life you want. You will also have the courage to move on from the negative aspects of your life: you can recognise and finish a bad relationship; you can stop feeling anxious; you can finally lose weight.

Marie Kondo's method is based on a 'once-cleaned, never-messy-again' approach. If you think that such a thing is impossible then you should definitely read this compelling book.

What I Liked:
  • The book goes into a lot more depth regarding the principles of the KonMari method shown on the Netflix show and I really appreciated that. It's pretty brutally honest at times, cites examples from Kondo's clients is full to the brim of practical advice for a variety of categories.
  • I liked that Kondo also spoke about her own mistakes and childhood while developing her method. It gave the book a much more personal feel and also illustrated some of the interesting cultural differences between Japan and Western society. Kondo also has an awesome sense of humour!
What I Disliked:
  • Nothing really struck me as 'bad' other than the sheer amount of information. It would have been nice to have more in the way of diagrams or illustrations to demonstrate a technique more clearly and break up the text blocks!
Overall Conclusion:
I loved this book a lot! It's definitely a great coffee table read, and one I'll be keeping on my shelves for a long time. Kondo has a lot of experience in the field of cleaning and organisational tidying and claims a 100% success rate for those that follow her methods to the letter. I have no challenge believing this - the challenge is trying to follow the method perfectly. I struggled, for example, on her chapter about books which limited how many should be owned at a time. An impossible number for a book blogger let me tell you!

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

What a fun week! Made even better by the second round of Volunteering I took part in on Thursday, this time for LGBTQ+ Charity Diversity Role Models, who do lots of great work in educating students about the LGBTQ+ community, issues they face, and tackling bullying. I thoroughly enjoyed helping out with their fundraising evening and can't wait to do more like this in the future.

I Read...


I Received...


I Posted...

Planned Reads for April

Monday 1 April 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (25th March - 31st March)...

It's been a great final week of March! I especially enjoyed Monday because Mat and I had some friends over to play board games and video games and it was so much fun! We are hoping to do things like this more often, as the wedding planning has taken up so much of our time that we feel we are losing elements of our social lives!

I Read...

I Received...


I Posted...

March Wrap-Up

Planned Reads for April.

The fact that I'm getting married in a couple of months is both super exciting and extremely stressful! We are already at April? What?! March went super quickly though. But I'm super ready for another month of amazing reads.

'Enchantée' by Gita Trelease has been on my radar for a while, and it's probably one of my most anticipated 2019 releases! It's a bit disappointing that I haven't got to it yet but I have high hopes for doing so in the next couple of months!

I also love Sara Barnard's books and was totally pumped to see her release a sequel for 'Beautiful Broken Things', 'Fierce Fragile Hearts'. I can't wait to see Suzanne, Caddy and Rosie again and be back in Brighton! I hope I love it as much as I loved the first.

I have been drooling over 'Reign Of The Fallen's' cover for quite some time. But I recently looked a little more into the synopsis of Sarah Glenn Marsh's necromancer-fantasy novel and I am so hyped to see bi rep in it that I must read it at once.

Speaking of LGBTQ+ rep, Samantha Shannon's stand-alone epic fantasy, 'The Priory Of The Orange Tree', also has plenty to spare! I'm a little nervous about the size of this book but I think that it will be well worth it!

I received 'And The Mountains Echoed' as a present last year and was super excited, because my sister has been recommending Khaled Hosseini's books to me for an age. I can't wait to give this book a go!

Mat and I have watched Marie Kondo's hit Netflix series, and now I want to read the book that started the hype, 'The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying'. Anything that can help me to become a little bit better at life will be most welcome.

'Illuminae' by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a book that I feel like everyone has read but me. There's a whole series now! But I'm excited to read it at some point soon, and I've found a whole new appreciation and love for sci-fi recently.

I'm also really in the mood for a retelling of a fairy tale, and 'Cruel Beauty', which re-imagines Beauty & The Beast with some Greek Mythology thrown in for fun, looks amazing! I can't wait to read this!