Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Top Ten Books on my Autumn TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

As I prepare to start my masters - by the way, have I mentioned I'm doing a masters? ;) - my TBR has basically gone out the window as I have to prioritise my university books. So this week's top ten will be split in two, for uni and for pleasure.

1 - Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre
2 - Poppet by Mo Hayder
3 - Sherlock Holmes, the Collected Short Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
4 - Collected Ghost Stories by MR James
5 - Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I recently got the set text list so I'm shopping for all the books I need and these are just a few of them, some of which I've already got.

1 - Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Sequel to And I Darken, and the only reason I haven't picked it up sooner is I'm a little intimated by the dense text!

2 - Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel 
Picked up at Yalc and it sounds lovely, I'm imagining something like Jandy Nelson's books.

3 - Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Something to dip in and out of, might make me feel better when I'm tired from studying.

4 - Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
After hearing all about this at Yalc, I'm really excited by this girl power story.

5 - Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? by Emily Clarkson
This was a spur of the moment find in the library this past weekend - I haven't heard of it before but it sounds clever and funny.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Constellation, #1)Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up - they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her - even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer - both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.

Space plots generally confuse me, even as much as I like them - whole planets, not necessarily relating to Earth, having their own histories and societal places can be bloody confusing, especially when in this story, Earth was the mother-ship of a ring of planets and one of them wanted out. That's where Noemi comes in - she is a soldier on Genesis, the planet desperately fighting for independence, and when she comes across Abel's ship, she commandeers it and him to help her fight. 

The characters and the romance is what sold this for me; robots who can think and feel and love are like my kryptonite and Abel was just so damn adorable I couldn't stand it. Noemi and Abel are thrown together in what is possibly the most horrible circumstances, but as Abel has information that could help save Noemi's planet, she is willing to overlook the fact that he is a killing machine. They literally have to traverse the galaxy to hunt down parts to build... a thing that would blow up... another thing like a star-gate... yeah, this is where the details just went over my head! Point is, adventure and hilarity ensues, as well as bonding and super cute kissy moments, until Noemi is able to return home with hope.

All in all, a great sci-fi adventure, with some astrophysics stuff that passed me by, but really great characters and fantastic writing. 

Published 6th April 2017 by Hot Key Books.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

A Few Books That I Struggled To Read (To Start With)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish.

I rarely DNF books, not just because all the books I read are amazing but mostly because I'm quite picky over what I pick up in the first place. This week's theme is books you had a hard time with, so I'm going with a few books that I struggled with but ended up enjoying.

The Woman in White1 - The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
I've only just finished this one, which is why it's top of the list. I technically should have read this at university but I didn't have enough time, and also I didn't write any essays on it so I didn't bother. Terrible, I know. But now that I'm about to start my masters (AHHH!!) I need to re-programme my brain into the Victorian-Gothic language. Anyway, the book itself is ridiculously long, over 600 pages, and in tiny font, so it did take me about two weeks to finish. But the story was really good, and I ended up really invested!

2 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Please don't hate me! I really wanted to like this, and I did, but I forget every time now much of a chore some Austen language is to read, it's just so long! It helped that I already knew the story and I'm glad I've read the original, but it took me a while.

3 - The Island by Olivia Levez
The IslandThis was a review book so I had no idea what it was about apart from it sounded interesting. And it was, the story was incredible and very moving, but it's written in this... almost stream of conscious narrative, flitting back and forth between present and past, which took me a while to find the rhythm but it suited the protagonist so well. 

4 - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I knew I would love this one, or at least it sounded right up my street, but I wasn't quite prepared for the slow story and the confusion over what had happened. Took a little while to get into it, especially to understand Merricat, but really liked it. 

5 - Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Yet another classic that I couldn't quite get my head around! This time, it was more that I wasn't expecting the story to span so many years, it really did follow the three women's lives in the Big Apple.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Weekly Highlights: the 'September TBR' edition

Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things!

I am both happy and sad that it's September already - on one hand, I handle autumn weather much better than summer, but on the other, it means my term-time job is starting again. But I do have some exciting news: at the end of the month, I will be starting my masters! So lots more work and almost certainly less time online and on the blog, but I will not disappear, I promise. 

On The Blog
A few of my favourite posts of the month:
Review of A Change Is Gonna Come
Review of The Gender Games by Juno Dawson
Review of Tell It To The Moon by Siobhan Curham
Review of True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling
Review of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Review of Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas

Currently Reading
I am still plodding through The Woman in White, which is to get my brain back into classic literature mode for my MA. I've also just started the audio book of Order of the Phoenix. 

On My Bookshelf
Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
She will become a legend but first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning...

Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters. But when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal, Alia Keralis. With this single heroic act, Diana may have just doomed the world.

Alia is a Warbringer - a descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies, mortal and divine, determined to destroy or possess the Warbringer.

To save the world, they must stand side by side against the tide of war.

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)Emmett Atwater isn't just leaving Detroit; he's leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. 


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden--a planet that Babel has kept hidden--where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe. 

But Babel's ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won't forever compromise what it means to be human.

These two I received in August's Illumicrate, which was brilliant, as per usual! I hadn't heard of Nyxia but it sounds like a really cool space adventure, and of course Wonder Woman I am super excited for!

InvictusInvictus by Ryan Graudin
Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. 

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nichols
Things a Bright Girl Can DoThrough rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women's freedom.

May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?

Both of these are from Netgalley, so thank you Anderson and Orion! I was vaguely aware of them but found out about them at Yalc so couldn't wait to snatch them up!

The Wrath and the DawnThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh 
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a terrible surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she may be falling in love with a murderer.

Shazi discovers that the villainous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. It's up to her to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

MoxieVivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv's mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

And finally, these two were in kindle sale, 99p each, and I've heard great things about both of them, so no brainer! I'm more excited about Moxie, really, but hoping to read both as soon as possible. 

September TBR
Two review books: Invictus and Things A Bright Girl Can Do. Apart from that, my TBR is pretty open. Well, until I get my MA reading list, that is!

Friday, 1 September 2017

If You Could See Me Now by Keris Stainton

If You Could See Me NowIzzy Harris should have it all – but her boyfriend has been ignoring her for months, she’s been overlooked for a promotion, and the owner of her local coffee shop pervs on her every time she has a craving for a salted caramel muffin.

Then her life is unexpectedly turned upside down.

Izzy dumps her oblivious boyfriend, and leaps on the chance to win a big pitch at work. Needing to work closely with gorgeous colleague Alex is an added perk…

But then her best friend has her heart broken, the pitch is way more complicated than expected, and Alex is keeping secrets. Does Izzy have what it takes to help her friend, save her career and get the guy?

Izzy was incredibly easy to relate to; she was funny and smart but used to be being downtrodden, mostly by her mother and by her boyfriend. So when she suddenly wakes up invisible, she is both shocked beyond belief and also surprisingly freed: no longer does she have to worry about how she looks, about walking around alone at night, about being perfectly presented for work or for men.

I adored her friendship with Tash. This was a proper girl friendship with none of that secretly tearing each other down, they perfectly balanced each other out, one with noise and the other with quiet support - they were also very funny together, especially when Izzy is first discovered and Tash full out panics! 

We get to know Alex as Izzy sneaks around the office, invisible, trying to get paperwork and information so she can work from home. After a mildly-paralysing moment of fear in the store room, Alex does discover Izzy and agrees to help her. Alex was really sweet - I know I use that word a lot when describing the romantic lead, but in this case, he really was! An intern at Izzy's office, Alex is also used to being overlooked but has big plans to finally settle down in London.

All in all, this was both incredibly funny and also rather smart. As Izzy gets used to being invisible, she has some fun with it, protecting Tash in the dark from drunk men and playing the poltergeist to her ex-boyfriend, which leads me to the brilliant social comment on men's attitudes to women and their "right" to catcall and grope in the streets. Izzy grows wonderfully through this weird experience and gains that all-important confidence to answer back to idiots in the street and in the office. 

Published 4th August 2017 by Bookotoure.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas

Nowhere Near You (Because Youll Never Meet Me 2)Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods--no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity--and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can't escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they've made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?

Warning: spoilers for book one Because You'll Never Meet Me.

As they are both pushing out of the boxes they were stuck in before, Ollie and Moritz are learning about the world and their place in it. And they both struggled with it. Poor Ollie was over-sensitised by practically everything and was like a puppy in his excitable-ness! But he couldn't adapt magically like he thought he was going to, and of course he felt like he had abandoned his mum. As for Moritz, he was taking a huge leap of faith by transferring to an arts school and who does he bump into but Molly - the girl with two mouths who tried to drown him!

Speaking of, we meet more of the "blunderkids", the poor kids that had been experimented on - like Bridget with her removable heart, and Arthur with super-fragile bones. They all had different experiences and had taken different things from them; for example, Arthur was quite like Ollie in that he didn't fear the world, he just wanted to be part of it. 

And back to Molly, turns out she and Moritz had more in common than they thought: they both were hiding behind masks to never betray their fear. Moritz of course had his goggles and Molly her bravado, but when things go wrong, they go spectacularly wrong. 

All in all, this book broke my heart and painstakingly pieced it back together again; Ollie and Moritz showed that our differences make us better and we are stronger for having friends to rely on, and pull us back from the brink if necessary. 

Published 9th February 2017 by Bloomsbury.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the UniverseCan you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

Romy was born in space and has only ever known the inside of her ship - the only contact she has with other people is the delayed messages from her counsellor back on Earth and sometimes an update from NASA. That is until she gets a strange message about world politics back on Earth and then nothing makes sense. There is another ship catching up with her, with better technology, and Romy is communicating with J, the ship's only inhabitant. Finally having someone new to talk to, Romy is understandably excited and nervous about meeting J for the first time. That is, until she realises something about his messages...

I adored this, I literally flew through it! The story was incredible, not just on a sci-fi/ exploration of space level, but also dealing with growing up, isolation, and what it means to be human and a hero. Romy was one tough cookie; at just 17, she has lost her family and her crew, and is now solely responsible for getting her ship to Earth's next planet/project. And yet she was still so normal - she read and wrote fanfiction, she loved to binge-watch TV, and she liked to bake. I fell in love with Romy almost immediately, she was utterly adorable and very easy to relate to, even though her homework had slightly more dangerous consequences if she didn't learn it!

I won't talk much about what happens with J, I want it to be a surprise. One note though: I really loved it. Romy got her chance to prove herself and be her own hero. All in all, a spectacular book packed with everything from space travel and learning astrophysics to first love and trusting yourself to stand for what you believe in.

Published 7th September 2017 by Walker.