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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Book Haul #1 (August 2016)




In the last couple of weeks I have bought quite a few books, so I thought this called for a book haul post, (my first one, yay!) I have never done one of these before so bear with, bear with.


First off I ordered a couple of books online –
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany.
-       I think this needs little explanation, I am a huge HP fan, I pre-ordered it, I read, loved it, review to come!
Between the Lines by Samantha van Leer and Jodi Picoult
-       I bought Off the Page, the sort of sequel to this book, and really wanted this one as well, so I ordered it.



Then I went to a charity shop. Always a bad idea because I always seem to find some amazing books, they’re cheap but I always walk out with at least 2 books, not good for someone who lacks space for them at the moment. However, I went in anyway and walked out with –
One Hundred Names  by Cecelia Ahern
-       I love a bit of Cecilia Ahern, and I saw this and instantly knew I needed it, I mean look at that cover!
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
-       A book set around a bookshop in Paris? Gimme.




Last week I went to Birmingham to visit a friend, and of course we went to the Waterstones there, and I bought even more books -
What’s a Girl Gotta Do? By Holly Bourne
-       I love Holly Boune, and the Spinster Club series is amazing so I knew I needed to get my hands on the last of the series.
You Know Me Well  by David Levithan and Nine laCour
-       The friend I was with recommend this book, and seeing as they were buy one, get one free, I thought, why not? Besides, a book by David Levithan? Also gimme.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
-       Now, I nearly walked with just two books. Then I got to the counter to pay for them, and there were some books on display. Me, my friend, Lily, and the cashier got talking about them and the lovely cashier said she could sell me this book for half price! So of course I said yes! Thank so much Birmingham Waterstones!




As if I hadn’t done enough book shopping, I visited my local bookshop with my boyfriend. Again, I wasn’t actually planning on buying anything, just wanted to have a look… So naturally I left with three more books –
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
-       Of course, I already own this book, (I might have 2 other copies), but have you seen how pretty the cover is?! I needed it.
His Last Bow, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
-       Again, I have a complete collection of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but these had the TV show covers so I got them. Plus they were really cheap because they were second hand, but in amazing condition.




So there you have, my first book haul! I hope you enjoyed it! 

Friday, 22 July 2016

My Hogwarts House!

So today, I am here to talk about a very serious subject – My Hogwarts house of course!

I joke, but this is genuinely something I have struggled with my whole life! Okay, (*takes a deep breath*) here goes – when I first read the Harry Potter series I was 7 or 8 years old, so I wanted to be a Gryffindor, obviously, what kid doesn’t? The house with THE Hermione Granger in? Sign me up!





As I got older however, I started to realise that I really wouldn’t fit in Gryffindor. It just wasn’t for me. So that made me ask myself -  what house did I belong in? Well I loved school and learning, so perhaps Ravenclaw? I considered myself of relative intelligence, but wasn’t sure I was smart enough for the house of wit and learning.  So that left Slytherin and Huffepuff.




At this point I would like to point out that I had taken a million of those quizzes you can find online that supposedly tell you which house you’re supposed to be, and I usually got Ravenclaw. On the odd occasion I got Hufflepuff. I would also like to note that they usually give you 4 options and it so damn easy to pick the one that correlates to whichever house you want.

I am not going to lie, I really didn’t like the idea of being in Slytherin. There are certain stigmas that come with that house, plus I would not consider myself especially cunning or ambitious. Hufflepuff, however, I could get on board with! Loyal, patient, hard working? Sounded like me. But I still wasn’t sure, so I always said I was a Ravenpuff. It made sense. However, I always avoided buying merch relating to any house, not even Gryffindor.

Then 2011 change everything. 2011 was the year Pottermore was launched. I was excited, finally, J.K herself would finally tell me which house I belonged in. I took the Sorting Hat quiz, and to my absolute astonishment, (yay for alliteration), I was sorted into Slytherin! Of all houses! I was convinced I was going to be Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff! I was so conflicted. Was this who I was, a Slytherin? I couldn’t relate to any of the house traits though. My friends were all getting houses that made sense, that I thought applied to them, but not me.




For years I was torn, and never committed to a house. Still sure that Slytherin was not for me. It didn’t help that I took the quiz a second time and got Ravenclaw… Anyway… I slowly came to terms with it though, determined to not let it affect me. In that time I did get rid of all prejudices though, I realised that just because most of ‘evil’ character in the series were in Slytherin does not mean that all Sytherins are bad.

So though I wouldn’t say I embraced my sorting, I had somewhat accepted it. Then earlier this year, my life changed. Pottermore was revamped and there was a new Sorting Hat quiz! I had to take it. I was even more nervous than the first time. This was truly going to cement which house I was in. I GOT HUFFLEPUFF! I was so happy!! I wasn’t in Slytherin! Being a bit older, Hufflepuff made complete sense to me. The house embodies everything I inspire to be, loyal, kind, hard-working, patient.





So here I am now, a proud Hufflepuff. I know what people say about Hufflepuffs, okay, but I don’t care, I think it’s a wonderful house. Also, I love yellow, so what can be bad about that?


So the moral of this story is, don’t judge someone on their house, especially Slytherins. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Bookish Habits - Music

I love reading. I love music. So you would think, why would you not combine them? This sounds great in theory, but not so much in reality, at least as far as I am concerned.

            I started listening to music whilst reading when I was 10. I am not (that) embarrassed to admit that I used to listen to a lot of Westlife whilst reading The Chronicles of Narnia. So I have experience in this area. I noticed, however, that is was actually very difficult to do the 2 at the same time. I would either subconsciously ignore the music or focus on the book, or I found myself re-reading the same page because I hadn’t given it my full attention. I continued to listen to music whilst reading though. But just found the music was simply background noise. Even now, on public transport I will put on some music to drown out the other people around me. Definitely not so people won’t talk to me. Nope. I wouldn't do that...

            Trust me people, it does get better. I used to read in silence, I just found it easier. However, the answer to my problem was simple; classical music! Obviously! No lyrics, and it’s lovely to have on in the background! My favourite scores to listen to are any of the Harry Potter soundtracks, I love them.


Please let me know what you think, do you like music in the background, or silence? 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Review - The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

Simon and Schuster
2015

Synopsis (From Goodreads) - When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.





My Review - I love magic. I really do, I have always loved books and films with magic in them. So I was really excited to read this! However, this book was so much more than about magic. I really enjoyed the world Alward created. A world of people with magic or the ‘Talented’, and the people without, the ‘ordinary.’ I didn’t like the term ‘ordinary’ because it implies the people without magic, i.e our main character, Samantha, are not special, and she really was. Despite this, the exploration into potions, potion making and alchemy was really interesting, and unlike anything I have ever read. Though, to be fair I have never really read a book where potions were the main focus, which I found refreshing.

Samantha was a great character, she was clever, and I found her very likeable. She was very determined, headstrong, and beneath it all, a teenage girl with goals and aspirations, with a slight cheeky rebellious side. An all-round wonderful heroine. In fact, I liked all of the side characters too, Sam’s grumpy, stubborn grandad, Anita, Molly and Kirsty as well, although I feel that some of them could have been fleshed out more. Reading it, I felt the relationships between Sam and her family and friends was well written, but I really didn’t feel like we actually got to know any of them aside from Zain and Evelyn. Evelyn’s chapters were great, absolutely hilarious. Zain was a decent love interest. The rich boy who doesn’t feel like he fits in. I enjoyed the development in the relationship between Zain and Sam, they had great back and forth, and the way Zain completely admires and adores Sam was just so compelling. Princess Evelyn’s evil Aunt Emilia was also an imposing antagonist whose downfall you cannot wait to happen.





The way Alward weaves this fantastical world with the more familiar modern real world, was really attractive to me. It drew me in. She does it so effortlessly. The rivalry between alchemy and the synths was also really intriguing. The idea of something manmade versus natural really caught my attention. The way they went against each other in the Hunt for a cure for Princess Evelyn was captivating. It really was a race against time to save the Princess, it was the stuff of fairy tales and I was hooked. I am sucker for magic and Princesses.

This was probably the most fun I have had reading a book for a while. It was light-hearted, but action packed and fast paced. I would highly recommend to fans of Disney movies, The Princess Diaries, and anyone who likes a bit of magic in their life. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Da Vinci Debacle

I have other blog posts ready to published, but I felt so strongly, that I just had to talk about what I will now refer to as ‘The Da Vinci Debacle.’ I have spent the last few days gathering my thoughts about this subject, so here goes; A week ago it was announced that Random House are re-releasing The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, but this time, as a YA novel. Basically this means that the book will be abridged, and “aimed at making The Da Vinci Code more appropriate for readers in their early teens” but reportedly will “maintain Brown’s original plot.” This news sparked a lot of controversy and discussion online. It caught my attention on Twitter and needless to say, people didn’t react well. I think there are various reasons why many people (myself included), don’t think The Da Vinci should get or needs a so called ‘YA Adaptation.’


The first and most important reason, at least for me and many people on Twitter – Teenagers do not need texts dumbed down or simplified for them. Say what you like but that is what the book will be. I feel that releasing an abridged version of the book is telling teenagers that they aren’t capable of simply reading the original text, when they most certainly are. I read The Da Vinci Code when I was 14/15 and I absolutely loved it, it became one of my favourite books. I had no trouble understanding the book, it enthralled me. So yeah, the idea of teenagers needing a simplified book is insulting to today’s teenagers, to my 15-year-old self, and to teenagers who have enjoyed the book in the past. I feel this is just another example of the common societal conceptions of today’s teens, the idea that they’re immature, too lost in technology, less intelligent, and this is just unfair and not true. Teenagers are diverse and smart, and we should not talk down to them.
Something I also don’t understand is; we expect children as young as 11 to understand Shakespeare, Dickens, and other challenging texts, yet, The Da Vinci Code is supposedly too much for teens? I don’t think so. Yes, there are plenty of abridged versions of more complex texts for younger people to read, but those are not the texts taught in schools. There is nothing in The Da Vinci Code that teenagers wouldn’t understand. Yes the plot has a lot of heavy themes, and the plot can be a bit convoluted, but to tell teens it’s too complicated for them is insulting. We need to stop telling teenagers they’re stupid
I am going to leave you with a few sources I found interesting and useful –
An Article from Publishers Weekly - http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/70408-ya-edition-of-dan-brown-s-da-vinci-code-announced-for-fall.html -  Dan Brown tweeted this article to announce the release of the new book.
An Article from The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/may/18/the-da-vinci-code-to-be-reformulated-for-ya-readers-dan-brown - Explains my thoughts better than I can! Though seemingly not a big fan of the book, Jordison does make some good points.

A YouTube Video by baldbookgeek - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HnCpMnsEbQ Discusses why maybe a YA version might actually work.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Blog Lovin'

So yeah, I have Blog Lovin’ now! I can’t believe I haven’t made one before, it’s wonderful! You can browse and follow blogs with such ease. I have literally spent ages going through book blogs, and found new people to follow, it’s awesome!


Every blogger should have one!

If you want to, check it out!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Review - The Next Together by Lauren James


Walker
2015

Synopsis (From Goodreads) - How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…




My Review - You like history? You like science? You like time travel? You like romance? You like YA? Then I implore you to read this book!

      I am a huge fan of historical fiction so this book was an absolute dream! To begin with I did find it hard to keep up with all of the different timelines, but it didn’t take long before I was well and truly engrossed in each story.

      Firstly, I loved Katherine so much! Every incarnation of her. She was relatable, funny, like laugh out loud funny. In particular the 2019 version of her. Matthew was also wonderfully shy and dedicated. Both of them were adorably nerdy and I couldn’t help getting invested in their romance. I would like to stress, however, that this novel is far more than an epic love story, (though it is that too!). The book has a very interesting scientific aspect, which I admit I didn’t always understand, but I did find interesting.




My favourite version of the couple has to be from 2019. We only get to read notes, texts, and emails between her and Matthew from that time but I really enjoyed reading what their relationship was like when they had been together for a few years. Despite not hearing as much about them, I feel they were the most relatable and the most fleshed version of the relationship. I would say this was probably because the others were showing the couple meet and then falling for each other, whereas the 2019 Matthew and Katherine already had an established relationship. I also felt that the 1745 and 1854 version were fairly similar. I loved them both, but I don’t think both storylines were wholly necessary and I would have preferred if we were just presented with one modern version, and a one past version.  This would have made more room in story to flesh out the characters and Matthew and Katherine’s relationship.

      James is a superb writer with great natural talent. She balances humour and drama. I found The Next Together very readable and highly enjoyable, it has a bit of everything, romance, sci-fi, mystery, comedy, as well as the historical element - so there really is something for everyone!

(Images not mine)

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Review - The Knot by Mark Watson



Simon and Schuster

2013
Synopsis (From Amazon) - Dominic Kitchen is a wedding photographer. Every Saturday since his career began in the sixties he has photographed a bride and groom on the happiest day of their lives, captured the moment they tied the knot forever, and then faded away into the background.

But throughout his life, Dominic has felt a knot inside him tighten, threatening his own chance of a happy ever after. And as the years go by, it becomes more difficult to ignore, until the ties that bind threaten to tear him apart…


My Review – Reading this book was like going down the Rabbit Hole and into Wonderland; utterly disturbing, but hard to look away.

I struggle to talk about this book because I want to discuss it, but I also never want t have to think about it again. I can’t say why without spoilers, but trust me, as good as this book is, it left with a bad taste in my mouth.
        Watson does not fail to deliver a poignant novel with excellent writing. I really enjoyed reading about Dominic’s life; it’s very rare you read a book where the whole life of the protagonist is told. I liked his character; I liked Victoria, and all of the supporting characters. However, there is one aspect that I found very hard to get anything from other than disgust and unease, if you’ve read the book, you know. It’s quite a central plot point but it made me feel gross for even reading the book. At one point I was sure the book wasn’t going to go there, but oh boy did it. Obviously I know you are not supposed to condone what happens, but I spent most of the book hoping it wasn’t heading in the direction that it so obviously was.
        As I said, I never want to have to think too much about this book again, but it does stay with you, and I guess that is to its credit. It is very much reminded me of reading Lolita, illicit with amazing prose. If you don’t mind being a little sickened, I would recommend it, it is an interesting book, and the writing is faultless.


(Images not mine)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Review - 'Am I Normal Yet' by Holly Bourne


Usborne Publishing
2015

Synopsis (From Waterstones) - All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thing to tick off her list… But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?




My Review - I am not going to lie; I was a little bit apprehensive about reviewing this book. The protagonist has OCD, a condition I do not suffer from, so I did not feel like I would able to talk about book and do it justice. However, I really enjoyed this book and wanted to talk about it.

I have never read such an honest YA novel. There was no pretence or sugar coating. Evie’s struggles are very realistic. Bourne’s portrayal of OCD, to me, is nothing short of remarkable. I have known people who suffer the way Evie does and it is very true to life. What I particularly liked was the way Evie wasn’t written as a complete victim. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her, but she isn’t perfect. Evie herself admits that her illness can have a negative impact, not just on her, but those around her. It was also awesome to read a YA novel where the main character feels isolated and different, but doesn’t fall into the ‘I’m so different from everyone’ trope. You know the one, where the main character has an aversion for conventionally ‘girly girls.’ I have seen this too many times and it needs to stop, okay?




Now, let’s talk about the other ladies in the book. Lottie and Amber are wonderful. They were far more than throwaway side characters. I loved the conversations the three friends had about feminism. It reminded me a lot of the sort of talks I used to have with my friends at that age. I enjoyed the reference to the Bechdel test, something I have given a lot of thought about in recent years. In keeping with the subversive themes, the romantic plotline in the story is far from clich├ęd. Throughout the novel Guy, the object of Evie’s affections, is standoffish and distant one minute and the complete opposite the next. I am sure a lot of younger girls have encountered a guy like this before, (at least I know I did as a teenager!). I just loved the way the book subverted the classic brooding, good looking male love interest plotline.

I would highly recommend to this to anyone who wants a realistic look at mental illness as well as a more accurate depiction of being a teenage girl.



(Images not mine)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

My Favourite Genres

So, I thought a good way to ease back into this was to write about my favourite genres and some of my favourite authors. As a general rule, I will read just about anything, but obviously there are genres and authors that, shall we say, I am more partial to.

Firstly I would like to start with Mystery and Crime novels. I got into this genre when I first picked up Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when I was 12. I was enthralled, but that is a post for another time. Anyway, this soon started a great love of the genre and I started reading a lot of novels along the same line, for example The Invisible Detective series, Anne Perry, Kathy Reichs and Agatha Christie.

Another of my favourite genres is Historical Fiction. I have read so much from this genre. The author I would recommend the most, and is my personal favourite, is Phillippa Gregory. She focuses on the Tudor period, so she isn’t for everyone, but for someone like me, who loves the time period, she is perfect and simply wonderful to read. I took one of her novels on a trip to Nottingham once, and had finished by the time I had gotten back later that day. Historical fiction, when written in the right way, can really make you feel like you’re in the time period you’re reading about.

I am not sure if they count as a genre on their own, but I have also read a lot of Victorian classics. In fairness a lot of this comes from studying English Literature at A-Level and Uni. However, my love of older fiction stems way back. I remember reading books like The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, The Railway Children, Oliver Twist before I had reached secondary school age. I really enjoy the language and storylines that are hard to find in modern fiction. Although not Victorian one of my favourite authors is Jane Austen. Think whatever you like, I love her books. I am also a fan of Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Arthur Conan Doyle (as already mentioned), Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins and many others.

        I also read quite a lot of YA. Most of time it is because of recommendations from various people, but I usually enjoy them. I won’t say too much about this genre, again I want to write a whole separate post about YA.

Anyway, as I said I will read pretty much anything whatsoever, and like to think I am very open-minded when it comes to books. Hope you've got to know a bit more about what I like to read!

Take care and happy reading!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Review - 'Binge' by Tyler Oakley

Gallery Books
2015

Synopsis (From Amazon) - For someone who made a career out of over-sharing on the internet, Tyler Oakley has a shocking number of personal mishaps and shenanigans to reveal in his first book: he experienced a legitimate rage blackout in a Cheesecake Factory; he had a fashion stand-off with the White House secret service; he crashed a car in front of his entire high school in his fast food restaurant server's uniform; he projectile vomited while bartering with a grandmother.

With millions of fans clamouring for more Tyler Oakley, he delivers his best untold, hilariously side-splitting moments with trademark flair in Binge.


Never have I ever read such an honest memoir. Granted I haven’t read that many but this took me by surprise. I didn’t know much about this book before I decided to read it. I have enjoyed Tyler’s video for a few years now, so I had a good idea of what to expect… or so I thought. Oakley is refreshingly open and honest, probably too much, some might say. From sex to drugs, Oakley talks about a lot of difficult topics. For someone who’s fan base is mostly compiled of teenagers, I was taken aback at just how honest he was. I applaud him for this. Not that he is goes into especially graphic detail, but he doesn’t hold back either. He doesn’t shy away being incredibly personal at times.

Not only this but his writing is absolutely hysterical. I found actually myself laughing out loud, not something I do very often. Oakley talks about a myriad of subjects; One Direction, love, family, the internet, and best of all, there is an entire chapter about poo. Hilarious. A word of caution, though the book is not particularly explicit, Oakley does talk about topics potentially not suitable for younger readers/listeners, but that is your call.





That’s pretty much it, not much more I can say about it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much so that I started it intending to only listen to it for an hour or 2… I didn’t pause it until the 4 hour mark.  You could say I binged on it, (heh, get it?). Also, if you get the opportunity I implore you to listen to the audiobook. It really enhances the experience. Oakley himself reads it and I can not tell you how enjoyable just listening to him is. If you like his YouTube videos, you will love the audiobook version of Binge.

(Images not mine!)