Friday, 22 September 2017

My re-reading challenge!

I made the decision that although I was going to continue to do my annual read of Harry Potter I was going to try shake this up a bit by reading other books in between. This was in part because I evidently can not go a year without reading HP but I also didn't want to miss out on other books I could be reading.


It did meant I was slower reading them then I have ever been. I usually finish them within August but I didn't finish the final Harry Potter until 14th September. However, I am so thrilled that I have read them this way. Not only have a easily caught up with my Goodreads aim I have also found I have savoured the Harry Potter books more as I wasn't immediately going from book to book.

I managed to read the following books starting on the 31st July (Happy Birthday HP)

  1. HP1

  2. Moonrise by Sarah Crossan (ARC edition)

  3. HP2

  4. Roar by Cora Carmack

  5. HP3

  6. Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner

  7. HP 4

  8. The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern

  9. HP5

  10. Frostblood by Elly Blake

  11. HP6

  12. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

  13. HP 7

  14. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas


I had a moment of serious indecision at the end of Half Blood Prince as the day I finished it Tower of Dawn arrived but I felt reading a 600 page book in between two equally as long books was a tall order. Especially as I wanted to get into The Deathly Hallows. I decided I had too read at least 7 books if I was going to re-read the series yet again and I successfully read 14 books in less then two months which considering I had been seriously lagging with my reading was just the reading burst I needed.

I am thinking of doing this whenever I want to re-read a series. It forced me to choose books rapidly as I didn't want to faff about deciding on a book and delay the Harry Potter story even longer. I am already looking forward to re-reading them in the same fashion next year, especially as hopefully I will have got my hands on the illustrated edition of Prisoner of Azkaban that is out imminently!




Friday, 11 August 2017

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

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I wanted to read Moonrise after reading the blurb and being captivated. I love how Sarah Crossan writes such a diverse range of stories and this one sounded intriguing. I liked the idea of someone coping with the multitude of emotions that would swirl in your head if someone you loved was accused of a crime and then dealing with the intensity of knowing that meant their life was forfeit.

Ed is on death row. He is charged with murdering a police office, worse the crime occurred in a state that supports the death penalty. Jo, his younger brother has been dealing with the fall out of this for 10 years. Now they’ve finally got the call that gives the official date that Ed will die. Jo decides he needs to go, needs to see Ed to talk, to make the most of time that is steadily ticking away. The emotionally charged journey this takes Jo on is raw and full of pain. It wrecked me and I read the book in one quick sitting.

The style of Sarah's writing in terms of limited amount of words reminded me of her book The Weight of Water, although without the poetic lilt. I was enthralled by the story and found myself holding back tears for most of it. It was exceptionally well written. The fact Sarah can weave such a powerful and deep book in so few words is a mark of what a sensationally gifted writer she is. The characters are well rounded and the story moves at a great pace.

If like me you really like closure the book might frustrate you as I found I could not decide if Ed was innocent or guilty .You get Ed’s story and you have to decide if you trust Ed. For me the story was a harrowing tale fraught with emotion and it stayed with me long after I finished.
*I recieved this book from a Netgalley request for my honest opinion. The book is out on 7th September and is well worth a read!



A truly thought-provoking story

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

To re-read or not re-read!

Oh 31st July!

When this date rolls around in the calendar, my Potter alarm goes off and for the last 16 years, I have re-read Harry Potter. Whatever books were out at the time I would read. In the years where the books were being released it did sometimes mean I read them twice in a year but eventually when they were finally all out I got down to reading them once a year.

Last year I boldly announced to my husband it was time to stop. As much as I really do love the series I needed a break I said, needed a chance to read more books. So when the 31st July rolled around this year what did I do...Well I started re-reading Harry Potter of course! I actually think I am classically conditioned to do it now. The day appears and my brain switches to HP mode. I justified that it had to be done as I have the two stunning new illustrated editions and it would be wrong to not to read them – I don’t want the books to feel neglected and unused.

In truth, though I just love the series. It has long be a firm favourite and each time I read it is like putting on your favourite cosy jumper. Each time I am reminded of the different times in my life I have re-read the series. The newly wed reading, the holidays I read them on, the late night baby feeds, the new house reading. I am just so familiar with them that it really is my normal. This year though I have decided to change the routine of the re-read. I know the series so well that I really do not need to rush through them. Therefore, after I finish each instalment of HP I will be reading another book from my TBR. That way I am not hindering myself with re-reads and plus it motivates me to read another book as then I will be allowed to step back into the next Harry Potter.

So following up from Philosopher’s Stone I read Moonrise by Sarah Crossan which I was over the moon (no pun intended) to get an ARC copy off and now I have finished Chamber of Secrets I am reading Roar by Cora Carmack which I got in my June fairyloot box and it looks like a riveting read. I was in such a reading slump so this has helped me so much!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

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A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

This review is going to hurt but like anything metaphorically painful I need to rip off the plaster and get on with it. A Court of Wings and Ruin was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. A book I not only pre-ordered but warned Kev it was coming out so that he could expect me to be missing from life for a while. If A Court of Mist and Fury was anything to go by I knew that I would disappear totally consumed and enthralled...and yet that was not the case. I honestly really enjoyed the first two books and despite some teething issues with the writing I loved the characters and the different courts.

The book starts where book two left off with Feyre in the court of her ex-lover Tamlin playing the ever convincing victim but secret enemy. It should have been tense, it should have been gripping but it was not. I did not connect as I had previously to Feyre. I struggled to feel on her side with the way she was enacting her vengeance. Instead of powerful it came across petty. Instead of justified it was cruel to those who had not hurt her. Instead of well thought out it was young and naive and as the book goes on actually causes quite a lot of issues.

Considering the sheer size of this book Feyre in Tamlin's court is over before you are even a quarter of the way through and the tension just doesn't mount up. Now although I don't mind first person narrative I think it was the issue in this story. There were too many places we needed to be hearing about and being only from Feyre's point of view meant we missed loads of potentially amazing story lines. Without going into too much detail Lucien was wasted because of her narrative. We see him only for the first half or so and then he doesn't get to tell his story and that was just a bit of a let down for me as I really like his character. I get the impression from chats about the story that a novella focusing on Lucien is anticipated. Nessa was another character who we just didn't get to know enough because we were always in her sisters head. I did like the use of Nessa and her dynamic with Cassian added the spark to the book that ACOMAF got from Feyre and Rhysand's relationship.

This leads me on to my other bone of contention. I find Maas uses a disproportionate amount of sexual content and it always feel a bit unnecessary and this book had it again in droves. There was far to much completely out of context mating (I mean immediately after a battle come on guys) in addition the incessant referring to Rhysand as 'my mate' drove me a tad insane. We get it Feyre, Rhysand is your mate. It is just a completely ludicrous way to talk and I imagine the word count for mate was in the thousands. Maybe it was because the build up to their relationship in ACOMAF was so fiery but the same dynamic was flat in this book. Rhysand in-particularly seemed to have lost the bite he had in the previous book and as a result Feyre runs a little bit amok putting herself in dangerous situations and jeopardising other people in the process.

The end was expected for me and not too much of a surprise really so it all felt a little anti-climatic and I just felt we had we lost alot of the story in 'mates' maybe it would have packed a greater punch. Nessa and Elain were awesome at the end though and that saved it a little for me.
Finally I just didn't feel like I was reading a finale. So many lose ends the book is fraying. Everything from Lucien to Elain, Mor and Azraiel, Mor and her father, Mor and Eris, ok so Mor in her entirety. Eris and his bargain, Feyre and her bargain, Tamlin etc. I know Maas had said she's going to write more from the Courts and I do hope she uses some of these characters to conclude their stories.

Now I didn't read this book anywhere near as quickly as I read the previous one. I still liked being back in the different Courts and Maas wrote some cracking scenes with some lesser known characters. Her scenerary description was breath-taking and I love the world she has created.  I just feel that had the story had a different narrative I might have felt more connected. I still have to give it 3 stars as I do love the characters I just felt the writing was needed some more refining a few less repetitive words and scenes and a little more action.

Just didn't feel like the other books. 




Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

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To take on an empire you must have nothing to lose.


Years ago a friend recommended the site NetGalley to me as a way of receiving ARC copies of books. I have been fortunate since joining to be approved for some really great titles. I recently requested to read Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne after seeing other positive reviews and I was intrigued by the storyline. I was really chuffed when the email came through saying I had been approved.

Rosemarked follows the story of Zivah and Dineas. We alternate between their points of view between each chapter. I used to really struggle with this constant switch of narrative but I am growing more accustomed to it. In Rosemarked it definitely helped the pace of the story as initially it started quite slowly and I think if it has just been one point of view the pace would not have escalated as well as it did.

 Zivah is a healer cut off from her people and unable to fulfil her calling. Dineas has recently be freed from his kidnapping by the Amparan army and is full of a vitriol hatred for his captors and a burning desire to get revenge.  There paths cross unexpectedly and this chance encounter gives Zivah the chance to escape her quarantine and Dineas the opportunity to enact vengeance. They choose to unite in their unlikely roles in order to invade the emperor’s army and take aim at the establishment from within.

The motivations of Zivah and Dineas are worlds apart and their characters so different. I loved the juxtaposing nature of their personalities. I felt they developed in a unique way, as they both grew accustomed to their situation. I was worried this was going to be a recipe for an annoying romance but the relationship created between the two characters is multi-layered and has real strength. Zivah's personal growth really got to me and many of her scenes left me sobbing, her character was a great aspect of the story.

I am so pleased this is that start of a series and I imagine book two will be a real hit.  . This brilliant book doesn't hit the shelves until 7th November but is well worth the wait.

Sensationally written with a story that is clever, dynamic and with heart.



Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Library Transformation - Get the Annie Sloan out!

I am sure you have been on tenterhooks waiting for this next installment on my library transformation. Well I am pleased to report it is finally pretty much finished. I faffed about for a fair amount of time staging (and re-staging) the shelves but that is the fun I guess.

I love old furniture and slowly but surely I am changing our furniture from Ikea flat pack to old school rustic and antique looking pieces. However, there was no way on earth we could afford to get as many bookcases as I wanted considering we pretty much had all we needed already. Some of it was stored in the garage and a bit cobwebby but on the whole they were ready and waiting to be used. I did not want to lose the effect of the brick wallpaper so I got to enjoy the task of knocking the back out of five billy bookcases (3 large 2 small). It was surprisingly satisfying but not the safest thing I have ever done.

Having used Annie Sloan before I knew that was my paint of choice. I am too impatient for priming and I wanted to get all 5 bookcases done as soon as I physically could. Armed with Paris Grey I set to work. It was surprisingly speedy to paint them and I was helped along by the fact my sister was staying in the room within a few days so it needed to be safe for my niece. I painted four bookcases in quick succession (I was watching bookcase #5 on eBay). Painting was straight forward if a bit messy. I only got one splinter, which I am not going to lie seriously slowed me down and I became a pathetic person for a short while. 

Eventually I found the best approach was to paint the sides then put the shelves back on the paint before the sides dried otherwise they absolutely wrecked the paintwork.  Once painted I had numerous arguments discussions with my husband on how to get them straight now the backs were out. I was in full panic mode by this point as I had two days to get them straight and full of books before my sister stayed and a part of me still wanted it to look styled even though it just needed to be semi-finished.

Again, as with part 1 Youtube came to my rescue and a surprisingly easy solution was proposed. Equipped with my new drill (be afraid) I screwed the bookcases together through the pre-drilled holes for moving the shelves about. I literally could have wept as they were straight, safe and looked as I had hoped. I set about waxing with Annie Sloan wax I had left over. I loved the colour the wax developed the paint into and I gave it a good day (that’s all the time I had) to dry and buff before chucking haphazardly all the books back into place.

I then had the onerous task of waiting for an eBay auction to end. Stood in the aisle in Asda I bid on a bookcase and won. My ever dutiful husband collected it the following day and I had it painted and waxed and in position in no time - not in time for for the sisters arrival but still it didn't take too long. 



I love them. I cannot even hide it. They are exactly what I hoped they would be and they are thankfully straight much to my concern. I am struggling to get a picture of them in all their glory so I might attempt a panoromic picture soon!
 

Next steps are the desk, tables and headboard but that’s a post for another day…


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Choosing what books to buy is never easy when you have a never ending list. This is one of the reasons I love the idea of a book subscription service. Regardless of all the other book paraphernalia I love the idea of a book arriving they I may not previously have had on my radar.  Now as with all things reading related book likes and dislikes are so subjective that I am aware I will not always like what other choose.

I subscribed to Fairyloot back in February before my first single purchases box had even arrived. I have now received four boxes and have read 3 out of 4 of the books sent. For me they have ranged from as low as a 3 star and as high as 5 star reads which I think is a good range. The most recent arrival in May was Flame in the Mist. Due to the constant hints the book would be a retelling of Mulan I guessed what it was before it arrived. I don't mind this as it does help stop me buying a book I think could be in the Fairyloot. 


The book intrigued me but I am not sure I would have brought it had it not appeared in the Fairy Loot having reading nothing else by the author and not seeing it from the blurb as particularly fantasy driven.  Well I sure am glad it came in the Fairyloot. I loved it. I think the comparisons to a retelling of Mulan are a bit loose as it has more depth and is less about her wanting to fight and more about her wanting to find herself.  I can understand why they have be made. Equally it has elements of fantasy that took me greatly by surprise. 

Mariko is being delivered by her family into the hands of the emperor as a bride for his son. She is fully aware that her alliance means more power for her father. She is a useful possession of his father because she was born a girl. She and her consort are ambushed on their journey to her would be suitor and Mariko the lone survivor decides to infiltrate the clan responsible in order to disestablish them from within and have her revenge. Disguising herself as boy she endears herself to the Black Clan. No one is as they seem in the book and the fantasy elements become stronger as the story continues. 

I loved the effortlessly way in which Ahdieh writes, it flowed off the page and I was completely enamoured. The characters were all well developed and Mariko was a likeable main character and had a sense of self I appreciated. I could not put the book down and I am thrilled that is not a stand alone book.

The story effortless weaves itself off the page. A must read

Friday, 9 June 2017

Derailed - Reading Slump

So somehow my reading mojo slipped. I know I am not the only one who gets super into a lot of books and then one book derails the whole process and you find yourself struggling to get back into the habit of daily reading. 
I am never really without a book but I managed to pick the wrong one and I had a huge gap in my reading spree and it has meant that the hideous sentence 3 books behind schedule is appearing on my Goodreads. I am pretty sure I have mentioned before that I sometimes find the Goodreads goal a bit of a daunting one but it only really bothers me when I get behind. 

I had to pick myself up out of the slump and went for my tried and tested method. A good crime story found with a handy Kindle Daily deal. I also picked up I See You another crime story and my go to slump defeating author Diane Chamberlain. I finished the daily deal treat (The Girl Friend) really quickly and it was a good reminder of how much I love reading and the time out in gives me. I hate not reading and I genuinely think it puts me in a bit of a funk when I am not reading. I am now reading I See You and it is really clever and has me hooked which is just what I needed.  


Hopefully after that break I can reenter my bookstagramming and blogging ways as well as defeating that condescending Goodreads reminder! 


What are you ways of getting out of a reading slump?



Thursday, 20 April 2017

Little Surprises!

My little girl surprises me on a lot of occasions. She is confident and cheeky and I am loving getting more and more glimpses into the wonderful girl she is becoming. The other day we had the chance to go with friends to a farmers market and in her usual adorable way she managed to surprise me yet again.

We were just browsing the stalls and looking at some rather beautiful book page flowers and a lady noticed her cheeky little face and she said hello. She then asked my little girl a question that I honestly hadn’t expected her to answer. ‘What’s your favourite book?’ I am pretty sure most of us have been asked this on many occasions and ummed and ahed with answers. Despite my daughters preference for being read to or pretending to read to her toys I really hadn’t expected her to answer.

Yet without hesitation, she confidently said, ‘Gruffalo’s Child’. Honestly I think my heart about burst. We have been reading this (at her request) quite a lot and for her to not only remember but to answer in context that this was her current favourite book was such a joy.

I do hope she keeps her love of books!


Monday, 17 April 2017

March Wrap Up

As perusal I was ever so ambitious and as perusal I didn't quite reach the dizzying heights of books read I had aimed to. I managed 6 which I am pretty chuffed with considering I had only read 2 by the 17th March.I stared off strong reading two books in quick succession but a family wedding, an awesome trip to Disneyland Paris and the like slowed me down somewhat.



Heartless by Marissa Meryer

I enjoyed it but wanted it to be darker and more sinister then it was. I found it a bit fluffy and lacking in places it could have excelled. However, it was intriguing and I loved getting to be in Wonderland again.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I was gone. No word of lie I let this book drag me in and I read it in a day. I loved the writing style, the premise and the pace. Wonderfully written with a great storyline. Slight disappointed by the ending but at least I know she's writing a follow up.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E.Schwab

I stared reading this on the way to Disneyland and finished it on the way back (I did have a reading break whilst there) I loved this second instalment but found it didn't have as strong a story line as the first. I still think Schwab is a ridiculously talented author and she really does weave incredible fantasy.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schawb

Need to know kind of read. I daren't read anything after book two other than book three in case I missed something. I much preferred this final instalment to book two and although I was disappointed not to learn more about Kell and Lila's origins I liked the direction the story took. It was clever and pacey especially considering the size of the book.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Chucked this in for a bit of change. I have read a few John Greens and have found it is a bit of a marmite genre and author .Unfortunately Looking For Alaska had the same issues as Paper Towns I couldn't stand the female lead and therefore had zero empathy. Furthermore I felt a bit of this story was implausible and made for a bit of trippy read.

Perfect by Cecilia Ahern

Wow! I got an ARC of this and was chuffed as I loved the first instalment of the duology. I like the way Ahern seamlessly goes into YA fiction. I wrote a full review of this book earlier this month.

I was so close to 7 books this month but unfortunately Empress of a Thousand Skies snuck into April's reads. I haven't piled up April's planned reads to see if maybe I read better without the TBR threat!



Saturday, 15 April 2017

Fairy Loot Unboxing - February 2017

I think it is fair to say that I was so utterly over the moon excited to finally get a fairy loot box in February that I forgot to do a detailed unboxing of it on the blog and fell into my old habits of posting continual review posts…old habits die hard on all that.
So rather than ignore my first box (considering I already have my second and towards the end of April my first I am just going to accept that my posting is out of sink).
I took the plunge and got the box having deeply regretted not getting the January box (Caraval themed – weeps into book). The box arrived in really quick time literally the day after my shipping notification it materialised. I have said before but I chose FairyLoot as my book crate for two main reasons. 1) its young adult fantasy which is right up my street and 2) it shipping is a lovely figure of just over £3 instead of attempting to ship another from the US for crazy money. I am so glad I took the decision to get it. I have loved the excitement of wondering what the book might be, getting the bookish items and taking many nerdy shots of the constant for my Instagram account.

I loved the items that came in the box and now I have finished almost finished the library transformation I am loving displaying them. Now I had already seen and binged watch a load of youtube unboxings so I knew not to look at the back of the artwork card as I really didn’t want any spoilers. I really love the artwork in each box and will hopefully be finding a way of displaying these in the new library.





Kalusian Sunset Candle by Happy Piranha

The first item I pulled out was the deliciously smelling Kalusian Sunset candle. Now until I read the information I wasn’t quite sure what book reference this was but of course I now know it is from Empress of a Thousand Skies. I am a reluctant candle lighter but I am sure I will cave and light this one soon.

Celestial Gun Poweder Bath Bomb by Bathing Beauties.

This bath bomb smelt practically edible. I am a sucker for any bath bombs so this has already disappeared and was really lovely. This item was created exclusively for FairyLoot.

Baby Groot Funko Pop Keyring

The following item literally was one of my husband’s favourites and I had to do my utmost to stop him pinching it. I love this item as I am a big fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy and who doesn’t love baby Groot. This item definitely helped me feel the cost of the box was really reasonable.

I’ve not read Jay Kristoff’s Illumnaie series but this coaster is beautifully designed and I love the quote. Makes me intrigued to read this series. T. This has found a home on our living room sideboard – much needed as I am constantly leaving my cups of tea scattered over the house.

Space Girl Book Mark by Till and Dill

A really funky space girl bookmark that was a really beautiful design. I think it is safe to say no bookworm can have enough bookmarks.


Throne of Glass Print by Taratjah

It was with glee I found the print of Manon and Dorian. I was thrilled with this item as Manon is one of my favourite characters in the Throne of Glass series and it was nice to have recognised her straight away. I did see the Dorian side first and I was not sure who it was until I flipped the book over. I have framed this in a glass frame so I can keep changing over who I want to display. 


Rebel of the Sands Canvas Pouch by Alisse Courter

The next item was another one of my favourites in the form of this lovely canvas pouch with a great quote from The Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I loved this book which definitely helps you to love the item. I haven’t quite decided if I am going to use it or display it on the new library shelves – tough choices!

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

The book for February I finished at the start of the month. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza. I had this on my list to read in March but did not quite finish in time. I really enjoyed trying to read something that I would never have picked up in the first place. I did find the story a little disjointed but overall it was a good read. One thing I can not rave enough about is the way FairyLoot package their books. I love the bag and it has become a useful little way of travelling my books to work etc without the risk of them getting damaged. I am pleased I will rack up a fair few of these with my next few boxes. 

There were the usual Fairyloot newsletter, the Q+A with the author and the letter and also a sample of a book called The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily BarrI am yet to use the exclusive discount code for the MyBookmark company but I actually will do as the designs are gorgeous and look amazing.






Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Library Transformation - 'That’s so much better than I expected!'

I have posted a few hints and mentions about my library transformation. It has taken me fair longer to finish then I care to admit and I am almost there. One bookcase to go and a bit of extra staging and it should be complete. I apologise for the lack of photos in the post, I thought about the blog after starting!

Now when we were finally fortunate enough to buy our house the big compromise for me was that we had a new build. This meant saying goodbye to my Jane Austen influenced fantasies of bricks and beams and old converted warehouses (much to my husbands relief). This has meant our house can be summed up in one word… Magnolia. Now do not get me wrong we are so blessed with this house and in hindsight a new build has been ideal for our little girl and I am completely in love with my house but I did want to start adding our personality to it this year.

Now I have dabbled in a bit of DIY on occasion with reasonable results. I went a bit chalk paint mad when we had our little girl and sourced and painted all the living room furniture within her first few months (naps were handy). I haven’t managed to get on with actually transforming any of the rooms and now she is a lot bigger I feel I am running out excuses as to why. My husband is not keen on change and so I gradually chipped away at this by suggesting how the library being redecorating and reorganised would benefit him – namely the ability to display various collections he has. A picture of Lego figures displayed on the walls finally converted him from a no to a yes - thanks Pinterest. 

The first step was the paint. I tried out a few testers and the minute my husband chose the grey he liked the most (they all look the same was said a few times) I went for it and began to paint. I will admit my approach to decorating is not the tidiest and apart from moving the books out of the room I left the furniture in place and worked around it all. I still have a few areas to touch up but on the whole the grey was a drastic improvement on the magnolia and a bonus was that my husband became a bit more trusting that I could achieve the project I had outlined. My mum and brother were less trusting and were constantly suggesting I wait for them to begin stage two – the wallpapering.



They almost convinced me but with the threat of having to wait even longer to finish the room –stuff was literally everywhere upstairs. I put caution to the wind and brought the wallpaper and with no plum line, no experience and no idea I wallpapered a feature wall in Brick effect paper (B&Q bargain). To my families great surprise as well as my own I did not wallpaper myself or my hair into the wall and to my own joy it was straight. There were a few fiddly bits but I managed to wallpaper the majority of the wall during my daughter's nap time (told you they were handy) and I am super grateful to youtubers out there who have made videos for people just like me to follow.


I wouldn’t let Kev see it until it was completed but his exact words were,‘that’s so much better than I expected’


The next stage was to transform the bookcases, a story of chalk paint, wax, splinters and a few trips on ebay...

Friday, 24 March 2017

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

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Life is not meant to be flawless

As I really enjoyed Flawed by Cecelia Ahern I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to read the sequel before its publication. I tried my luck requesting it on NetGalley and was thrilled when they said yes. For those of you who aren’t aware Cecelia Ahern has decided to venture out of her adult fiction world and try her writing skills at Young Adult dystopian. The first in this attempt was Flawed which was a fast paced and enjoyable read and I was hoping that Perfect would live up to my expectations.

As I enjoy Ahern’s writing style and I knew I would enjoy Perfect. It has the same pacey style to the writing that makes this a one sitting kind of read. Celestine North has been branded flawed, not only this but she has received the most brands in all history. All she did was use her compassion and logic to help an old Flawed man on a bus. Yet in Celestine’s corrupted society, this is illegal and this one act has transformed her life. Now on the run from the revenge possessed, Judge Creven Celestine must figure out who she is and what defines her, the brands or her choices. 
I really like Celestine, in the first book her logical way of looking at things was surprisingly helpful. She was as I put in my first review always slightly too trusting and I was pleased she seemed to be working on this in this concluding book. Due to the first person narrative, it moved along at a fast reading pace and you do just want to keep turning the pages. Unfortunately using the first person narrative when your heroine is on the run makes some of the other characters lose their identify, I would have loved a bit more character development especially on Celestine’s family and Carrick with his. The other downside of the first person narrative is that it feels like Celestine has all the light bulb moments. Yes, we know she is logical but sometimes it borders on psychic with the way she figures things out. 

Despite these issues, I was hooked. I love the way Ahern writes and she has managed to move seamlessly into a young adult style of writing. Many scenes are just as brutal as the first book. Reliving the branding scene from Flawed was just as difficult and rage inducing to go through again. Like before I stayed up way to late and I devoured the book desperately; the tension although sometimes a bit stuttering stayed high enough that I needed to know where she was taking the story. Ahern had me second-guessing myself most of the first half and my heart was in my mouth on several occasions. Naturally a strong moral runs through the story about loving people despite their flaws, learning from your mistakes and importantly loving yourself regardless of how the world defines you. Ahern really knows how to make me sob with shock and sadness as of yet I haven’t made it through one of her books without crying. 

For those who love The Declaration and Matched. 

Released on 7th April 2017! 


Friday, 3 March 2017

February Wrap Up

I always seem to set myself quite ambitious TBR lists. I think I generally do this so that I have plenty of options to choose from of what to read. I went for 7 books in February and managed 6 of my aimed for list. I was waylaid at the end by my head not being in the right place to read a Brandon Sanderson epic.

What I read and what I thought:

Replica by Lauren Oliver


I wish I could have got on better with the books arrangement. From advice on Instagram I read the two sides in tandem and I am so glad I did as I think I would have struggled to read one after the other as some parts spoil others. Personally start with chapter one of Gemma and then chapter one of Lyra and the story flows better.

As I Descended by Robin Talley


Now I'd be telling a massive lie if I said I picked up straight away that this was a retelling of Macbeth. It was not until chatting to my husband about the story once I had finished that I twigged. Truthfully I am not one for ghosts and occult stories so although a thoroughly engaging read it just made me a bit scared! (wuss I know)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


I put a larger review this one on the blog. I loved the premise behind the story and I really enjoyed it and think I will get a hold of the next two.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff


This got off to such a slow start for me and although Mia was engaging and clever I wanted more about her powers then we got. The first half was a tough read for me and it only really hooked me half way through. I would read the second as Kristoff definitely peaked my interest. The footnotes were a real distraction for me.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab


Now if you have read my full review you know I will wax lyrical about this story. Schwab just had me in the palm of her hands. I loved it and have already got the next two on my list to read next.

And I Darken by Kiersten White


Hmph. I didn't get it. I am a huge fan of Dracula and the sordid and gruesome character of Vlad the Impaler that inspired his fictional creation. Unfortunately Lada didn't feel the same. I wasn't convinced of her portrayal as Vlad it was not as macabre as I was expecting or as fantastical. I can confidently say I would be unlikely to read the next one as I just don't care for the characters at all.

I started to read The Way of the Kings for like the a millionth time. I just found that I wasn't in the frame of mind for Sanderson's sudden way of throwing you in at the deep in end with the world he has created. I know I will finish it eventually and no doubt be in awe of the whole world by the end but it did not manage to feature in my finished books of February!

I've been even more ambitious for March. This might be a tad foolish as we go away to Disneyland so might not have as much time as I expect to read. But all of them look to tantalizing to not feature on the list! If I actually manage to read 8 books in one month I'll be thrilled.



Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab


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Hype is not always a good thing. Sometimes it means you completely build up a book and it crushes you with not being what you thought it would be.

A Darker Shade of Magic was a book I had heard a great deal about. I have read a few of Victoria Schwab’s young adult books but was yet to venture into her adult fiction. Having got the first two in the series for Christmas I was excited and a tad nervous to read them. I so wanted to love them. I personally would say they could have been marketed as YA without to much of a problem just based on the first book.
Having just finished the first in the series, I can say confidently that I adored the first one. A Darker Shade of Magic engulfed me and I was completely enraptured. I had to keep slowing myself down as I did not want the story to end by devouring it one go. I was not worried about the writing, as both The Archived and This Savage Song have proved to me that Schwab is an exceptionally talented writer. I was just nervous that I was not going to get as gripped by this story as I had been led to believe.

Yet Kell and Lila had me hooked. They had me at the turning of a coat. The story is a wild ride of adventure, unique magic and four interconnected but distinctly different London’s. We journey with Kell as he toes a line between good dutiful prince and traitor to the throne. Unfortunately, his hobby catches up with him and his smuggling ways lead to an unravelling of the thin threads that keep these four London’s at bay. Both Kell and Lila are written in ways that made them fiery and interesting. They avoided that line where confidence boarders on selfish arrogance and both came across as decent and good (despite their criminal behaviours) at their core.  For me it quickened the pace of the story, as I liked both of them and wanted to see their fates. The unique brand of magic created in this series is evocative. It has a life of its own in a way that is dark and unnerving and one that I can imagine will be expanded on in the next instalments.

I am looking forward to more development of the other characters as we really only got to know Kell and Lila. I am desperate to know more of Kell’s mysterious history and see how the royal family are involved in this. Needless to say I am a fan and would recommend this to any fantasy enthusiast. A page-turner in the truest sense. My only criticism is that considering this is a trilogy I was surprised with how tied up everything seems at the end. I feel like I am being lulled into a false sense of security and that makes me all the more nervous to see what Schwab does in the next book.




Friday, 17 February 2017

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)

Never Flinch, Never Fear, Never Forget.

Before I left my last job I took some books with me. Now before anyone asks I have every intention of returning them and the reasons I took them are very honorable I promise. I had purchased a few different titles for the students before I left. I always aim to read a good selection of any of the books I order to check what section of the library they'd go in and to help with recommending them. I set myself a ridiculously ambitious pile to read through and I didn't quite manage to finish them before my last day. However, I did not want them to just go straight on the library shelves without being read especially as they did not hire someone new to replace me. One of these such books was Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.  Obviously with my love of fantasy I was bound to want to read this one anyway so it was a treat to be able to have the copy.  I am so glad I didn't just let this go out on the shelves as personally it is certainly not a young adult read.

With this all said now onto the review. The story is set in a place where the sun rarely sets and it is nevernight most of the time. This is where Mia, hellbent on revenge ives, but unlike most of the citizens she lives in the shadows, in fact she is one and the same. She has command over them, can cloak herself in them and is followed where ever she goes by the not-cat Mister Kindly.  Having witnessed her father's death and her mother and brothers incarceration Mia is to determined to punish those who took them from her. The only way is to go to the Red Church and learn to be a true killer.   

For me the fact it is rarely night actually plays little role in the story. I was more intrigued by Mia's abilities. Unfortunately I found the first half of the book painstakingly slow. I wanted more from the shadows that surrounded Mia. I got my wish in the second half that is for sure. I felt the pace increased and the book demanded to be read. If the high octane aspects of the second half could have appeared more in the first I don't think I would have been as glacial in my reading. Another thing that clearly caused me to slow was the footnotes. Now I must admit I am not one for lengthy lessons of worlds, rules and histories in a fantasy story. I like it when the writer can bring you into the world believably without having to give you a history lesson. However for me if you don't think it is relevant enough to put in the actual content then the footnote seems unnecessary in a fiction story. Personally even if some of them were funny on the whole I found the a hindrance not a help.  

I can see why this story has been so popular. Mia and her quest are engaging and enigmatic and the power she posses is bone-chillingly lethal. Getting to see that power more in the second half is truly nail biting stuff. I didn't feel a great connection to other characters but on many occasions I was caught out by completely unexpected twists the story took. I think I am still a bit confused by the final chapter and that has left me wondering what will happen in the next installments 


Weird and wonderful - I imagine fans of Neil Gaiman will love

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Miss Peregfrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)

My dad is just as much as an avid reader as myself, infact I defintely get my reading habits from him. Like me a good fantasy is generally his genre of choice so when he recommended Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children I knew it would be one I should read. The idea that Ransom Riggs used real photographs to fuel his creative writing drive really fascinated me as an aspiring author. I enjoyed seeing the photos dotted throughout the story. On the plus being a brilliant Dad who knows his daughters gift loving ways he gave me his copy as well. So armed with a copy I added the book to my February TBR. Now I have previously stated that I generally use my mood to determine if I should read a book well I went for a pretty lazy way to choose the order I would read them in – I’ve gone by size (My librarian shame is strong at admitting this).

Miss Peregrine’s was the smaller of some of the hefty tombs on my TBR (Stormlight Archive for one). So it won the role of my third read of the month and I will admit I am pleased it did.The story is a unique mystery set in two time periods and shrouded in intrigue. A devastating event takes Jacob on a journey to discover more about his beloved but unusual grandfather's life. Journeying to the far reaches of Wales to seek out Miss Peregrine and the home his grandfather escaped to during the second world war.  What Jacob finds opens his eyes to the truth in his grandfathers peculiar stories. 

I loved reading this book, it was written from Jacob's point of view and I found the first person narrative really well paced and I liked Jacob the more for his clever dialogue and musings about situations. I was not surprised this book had appealed to my dad too. The creation of the 'peculiars' was effortless and believable. I was thrilled when I found out there were more books in the series, even more so when I discovered my dad owned them - winning!

A clever plot with lovely imagery


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Collector of Books - Fairy Loot

I am a serial collector. Not just books, stuff of all kinds. Some would describe it better as hoarding but personally I can see the method to my madness (says the girl with over 100 packs of playing cards).  

I have recently brought a one off Fairy Loot box that should arrive at the end of February. I am ridiculously excited for it. I decided that I would 'treat' myself as the theme sounds amazing and plus it's my birthday in February AND I just got my first proper pay slip from my new job. Needless to say I had to have it. The trouble is I can see it already spiralling. Fairy Loot have just announced their March box. If you haven't yet seen you can find the announcement here

Myths & Monsters! Literally it sounds perfect for me and plus it becomes available to order right on my birthday (surely that is sign). I have not even received my first box and already I am planning the second! I knew this would appeal to my bookworm/magpie tendencies.

I have really wanted to get a book subscription for some time. I have seen amazing unboxings of a variety such as OwlCrate, LitJoyCrate, Once Upon a Book Club etc. Yet the thing that appeals to me most about Fairy Loot is not only is it a YA Fantasy box but it is also based in the UK! As some of you know the shipping to get a book box over from America is literally the same as the cost of the box itself and I can not justify it (no matter how hard I try). 

Thankfully through the wonderful bookstagramming community I have discovered Fairy Loot and am excited to unbox it later in the month when it arrives. I must confess I have signed up to the waiting list to know as soon as the March box becomes available. Personally I think this could be the start of another beautiful collection (I doubt my bank balance or husband will agree but such is the life of a bookworm).

Have you had a book subscription you loved?


Saturday, 4 February 2017

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

Image result for this savage song

There's no such thing as safe

Wow!

It was a while ago that I read this book but even now I still can not believe how good it was. I had been in quite the reading slump of 3 star books and it was getting a tad disheartening reviewing them. It was not that they were bad books they just weren't books for me. I am all for people trying to read books that are out of their comfort zones and I was trying to this a lot more and it was not always paying off.

This Savage Song could not be more up my street if it was written just for me. Fantasy in all the right places and one of the cleverest premises I have read for while. I loved the characters of Kate and August - not to mention the fact the book successfully avoided the YA craze of insta-love (huge bonus points here).

In Verity monsters are real. Not only are they real but it is human acts of evil that create them. Three different types of monster exist and it depends where you live to how safe you are and how safe you feel. Kate lives on the side ruled by her father and August on the side governed by his. There worlds collide and they must work through their differences to work together to fix the corruption.

All the emotions. Honestly I think I could wax lyrical about this book for days - the writing is sensational. I have wanted to read a book by Victoria Schwab for a while and for some reason just had not gotten around to it. Now I feel I will devour everything she has written. Her style of writing for me was effortless. Easy to read and to follow which I think is incredibly important in fantasy fiction. I found both characters really beguiling and although Kate had that annoying feisty devil may care female lead role I found August made up for that in being an interesting male lead.  A classic 'just one more chapter' book and a great read for someone who likes a good suspense thriller - cliffhangers all around please!

I have no idea what to expect from the sequel and I am both nervous and looking forward to it.

Go on just one more chapter




Friday, 27 January 2017

Readers Block!

As a bookworm through and through I sometimes find narrowing down what to read next a mind field of indecision. I am the worst for choosing a book and then questioning if it was the correct one. Coupled with this I am notorious for starting a book and changing my mind almost within the first few pages.

I guess I am a mood reader – I have to be in the right frame of mind for the right story. Trouble is that a books genre can be so misleading and they do not really indicate what sort of journey the story will take you on.

Another thing I am guilty of is I am also a bit of a competitive reader – only with myself but still it is a bit ridiculous. Who knows if the goodreads reading challenge is half my issue? Since having had a baby I have never managed to reach the dizzying heights of the 75 I read in 2013 and I have slowly been working my way back up in numbers. This causes me the age-old issue of stalling. If a book I start is a bit of a struggle, do I give up and get cracking with the next or power through and accept I will not read as many books that month. I have gone for 60 as my goal this year an I am on track but I do not want to fall behind and in truth I know I want to beat this target. 

I am in this situation with my current choice – The Archived by Victoria Schwab. Now do not get me wrong I am intrigued but I am not gripped and I am not finding myself reading it regularly enough and I have most definitely stalled. I know I should keep going but I just want that book nerd high of being totally absorbed by a book that I stay up far too late reading into the night. One of my reading goals for the year was to not give up so easily so I will be powering through this time but I do wish choosing a book was much easier!


How do you choose what to read next from your TBR list?