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

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.