Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Top Ten Most Anticipated Reads of (the rest of) 2019

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and now lives at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Below is a list of the books I am most excited for but still have to wait months before I can hold them. I've done them in date order because there's enough complications narrowing it down to 10 without trying to put them in order of preference!

1 - Storm and Fury by Jennifer L Armentrout - 11 June - I know this is already out but I have just this second (yesterday to you lot) heard about it and now I am equally desperate to have it as the rest! Pity I have to buy for, you know, my house first.

2 - Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart - 11 July - book two following the amazing "Grace and Fury", I am very intrigued to how this story will unfold.

3 - The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg - 11 July - I heard about this on booktube and it sounds incredible, all about post-humanity and what makes us human.

4 - A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby - 8 August - I'd seen this around but after speaking to Aisha at Lucy Powrie's book launch, I'm all the more excited to read her debut.

5 - Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee - 3 September - anyone who knows me will be aware that I am a huge Marvel fan, especially Loki, so a prequel exploring his teen years? I am all over that!

6 - Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff - 5 September - I might not have read book two yet but I am desperate to get my hands on the full trilogy and to see the finale of Mia's journey.

7 - Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell - 24 Sept - need I say anything more that: argh!!!!

8 - The Places I've Cried in Public by Holly Bourne - 3 October - again: argh! New Holly Bourne!

9 - The Toll by Neal Shusterman - 7 November - the finale to the Scythe trilogy, I am beyond excited and might have done a squeal when the cover was released.

10 - The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black - November - another again: argh! The full-on howls I sounded at the cliffhanger ending of "The Wicked King" annoyed everyone around me and I need to know what happens to Jude and Carden!

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Top Ten Characters That Remind Me of Myself

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and now lives at The Artsy Reader Girl

It's been a while since I did one of these but this week's prompt is rather interesting. I do tend to see little traits of myself in lots of characters, but I struggled to come up with ten that I really identified with, as an introvert that adores books but won't stop talking and wishes to be braver than she acts sometimes. Anyway, here's my list of characters that remind me of myself, at various points in my life.

1 and 2 - Claire and Eve in Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine - off to a good (cheating) start with two very different girls on the surface but are not only great friends in the books but also remind me of myself; Claire for her smarts, although mine was literature and hers is Physics, and Eve for her Gothic wardrobe (which I have grown out of) and mindset (which I have not).

3 - Daisy in Giant Days by John Allison - although Esther's fashion sense is incredible, Daisy, with her randomness, her love for the environment, her shyness until she's drunk, is much more similar to me!

4 - Cress in Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - not the super-long hair, it's the overactive imagination and terrible shyness that I relate to in Cress, especially in my teenage years.

5 - Posy in The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts by Annie Darling - definitely her hardcore love of books!

6 - Romy in The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James - for her fangirl habits, not her engineering smarts!

7 - Phoebe (and friends) in Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison - Phoebe and gang is quite similar to my group of friends at university. Although I didn't live in halls, we totally got up to a bit of mischief and bonded over our mutual weirdness.

8 - Cath in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - another similar experience to mine at university, it also took me a while to find my place. I also relate hard to Cath's fangirl tendencies.

9 - Kizzy in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - I am all about Kizzy's strange outbursts and constant hunt for snacks.

10 - Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - again with the Gothic mindset, Catherine's habit of letting her imagination get away from her is also one of my more annoying traits.

So there you have it! Do we share any similar character traits? Or do you relate to completely different characters - I do tend to see myself in the heroines rather than villains. Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 3 May 2019

Friday Reads: The Flatshare and The One Who's Not The One

Hello and merry Friday, everyone! Apologises for my absence (did anyone even notice?) but work and life just got on top of me. Plus, I've only just finished my re-reads of the Morganville Vampires series so I didn't really have much to update you on! Speaking of: Morganville just as amazing as I remember!

This week I've been reading The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary - yes, the book that everyone's on about at the moment - and The One Who's Not The One by Keris Stainton. Both are contemporary romances, Keris is of course a favourite author of mine and The Flatshare is Beth's debut. I'm enjoying them both immensely, although barely started one and about a third of the way through the other.

Last week I read The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James and I cannot stop thinking about it! How I wish this book had been around a year ago, I could have written a (hopefully) amazing essay discussing the post-human condition in comparison to "Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?" Yes, I am well aware how much of a nerd I sound.

I also read Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren, finished that in two days, and that was incredibly adorable. And, great plus side: I have their whole back catalogue to work through!

Plan for this bank holiday weekend: finish The Flatshare and I'm sure I'm going to have lots of thoughts when I finish it, so look forward to that (maybe)!

What are you reading this long weekend? Let me know!

Friday, 1 March 2019

Friday Reads: Morganville Vampires

Happy Friday and happy March, everyone! Can’t quite believe that, February passed in no time at all, didn’t it? So, here’s my not-really-regular reading update for you!

I’ve been re-reading the Morganville series by Rachel Caine, one of my all-time favourite series of books. I haven’t read the first books in the series since university, so at least 7 years ago – jeez, that makes me feel old! – and I’d forgotten a lot of the details and the order of events. Right now, I’m on book five of fifteen and I am falling in love with them all over again.

Possible spoilers ahead

It is a long series, like I said fifteen books total, but so much is jammed in there and I just fly through them – they are un-put-down-able in a way that not many books are for me. Plus, I adore meeting these characters again, humans and vampires. The Glass House four are so freaking cute, and I had forgotten how tough Claire is from the beginning: she has a ridiculous learning curve! 

As for the vampires, it is fascinating that in a genre where vamps are usually the love interest, these are the bad guys but complicated and not really humanised because they are monsters in disguise. Especially with the main three, Amelie, Oliver and Myrnin – they are terrifying, no doubt, but also are used to playing the long game so when humans like Claire come along and make them feel things, they appear and act eerily human. Then there’s vamps like Sam and Michael and you forget that they are supposed to be the enemy, right up until they’re hungry and you’re a walking buffet. Every character is so rich and complex, and I love learning about them and seeing them blur the lines between good and bad. Can you tell I love these books?

Apart from that, no reading or book-related news to report. My professional life is plodding along nicely with the new job, and personal is getting interesting: my fiancĂ© and I are looking to buy a house! It’s all very scary and confusing and adulting is hard! Wish us luck, we’ve got a while to go until we are ready to move out and I’m already exhausted.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Mini reviews: The Plus One, Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow and Genuine Fraud

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts
The Plus OneThe Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

I expected a quick and funny read from this book, but I didn’t quite enjoy it like I’d hoped. It tells of Polly, a young woman who works for a gossip magazine, who is unhappy with her job and her life in general. Fed up of waiting around for the guys she likes to text her back, she goes out on a job to interview Jasper, the Marquess of Milton, and gets that tingly feeling. I’m going to be honest – I read this a good six months ago and apart from being very underwhelmed by it, I can barely remember a thing! Which says a lot about the book itself. Very light-hearted, Polly doesn’t really take herself too seriously and neither did I – I just couldn’t, not with the way she behaved, made a slight fool of herself and bared her heart to a guy who probably didn’t deserve it. The romance was alright but the sex scenes were eh. The fat-shaming made me cringe and there was no real development, not from Polly and her non-existent career plans, and minimal from Jasper who needed to give up his bad-boy ways and commit to an actual adult relationship. A very quick but not entirely enjoyable read.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review [gifted]

Don't Stop Thinking About TomorrowDon’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham
Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum... and her mum's depression. When Stevie's mum's disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father's 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz's parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie... As Stevie and Hafiz's friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

Although probably too young for me, as the protagonists were early teens, I really enjoyed this. It tells of Stevie, struggling to keep up with school and juggle her mum’s depression, and her budding friendship with Hafiz, a Syrian refugee with a love of football. They bond over wanting to escape the harsh realities of life and despite the big cultural differences, it was a heartfelt story about friendship and overcoming those differences and realising that we are all just human. It was such a joy to read, bringing together the dramatic realities of refugees and war with mental illness and the meaning of family, bridging the gaps between cultures with the love of food or friends or music. Like I said, it was a little young for me but I still really appreciated the very important message Siobhan was trying to accomplish: people are worth it.

Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review [gifted]

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart
Genuine FraudImogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Typical of E Lockhart, this is a teen psychological thriller told backwards. That took some getting used to, piecing the threads together the wrong way! While I did like this story, it was a little predictable – which is either a comment on Lockhart’s writing or my detective skills, I’m not sure which! Saying that, there were still a couple of shockers and the overall story of Jules and who she really is was very interesting to read and unpick. Jules was a fascinating character – so obviously a psychopath, she cleverly adapted to any social situation and used disguises and accents to get what she wanted. She was also truly horrible, but also had a pretty good reason for acting as such, which we discovered near the end of the book. As for Imogen – well, yet another spoilt rich kid who wants to discover who she is by lying to her parents and running away. Their dynamic was quite toxic and I really must applaud Lockhart for writing characters that I simultaneously love reading about but hate as people. Another knockout from Lockhart, as far as I’m concerned.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review [gifted]

Friday, 18 January 2019

Friday Reads: Kingdom of Ash and Theatrical

In some ways, I can't believe it's already halfway through January. In others, that first week back to work after Christmas doesn't half drag, does it? Anyway, I'm here with a little reading update.

This morning I finally finished Kingdom of Ash, the finale to the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. I started the mammoth of a book on the 1st of the month if you can believe it! I know it's nearly 1000 pages but that is a long time for me to be reading one book. Part of that was because I couldn't take it to work with me - no way was I carting that to and from work every day! So, finally finished it and I'm... conflicted. 

Now, despite all the gossip and drama with SJM's books, I do like them. But because it has been so long since I read the book before, and I just point-blanked refused to buy/read the Chaol spin-off book, I couldn't remember a lot. And I mean a lot! Names, places, shared histories - pfft, gone from my brain. So I don't think I got max enjoyment because of that. The other thing was, of course, the length of the book. I did enjoy the last 100 pages or so, that last big battle and the happy-ever-after wrap-up, but the toing and froing between all these groups of people, sometimes overlapping, sometimes not even really doing anything, that got boring quickly. All in all, glad I read it and completed the series but it wasn't the grand finale I expected, I think.

The other book I'm reading is Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt. I started this last week and I'm halfway through, just reading it on my kindle in my lunch breaks. Really loving it so far, I love the theatre and would so love to know more about the goings-on backstage, plus I've been looking forward to this book since the summer and I needed a contemporary story to break up Kingdom of Ash and my next read, which is going to be The Wicked King by Holly Black.

Let me know what you've been reading and enjoying so far this month and see you next time!

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

New Year, New Blogging Strategy?

Hello! As you may already be aware, this blog has very nearly died a death and I accept complete blame for that. I really haven't been putting in the effort - life didn't exactly snap back to normal after I finished university like I thought it would and honestly, blogging has been the last thing on my mind. But I don't want to abandon this blog (although, honestly, I'm a little tempted)! However, things are going to change around here.

Obviously, I haven't really been around much and that's because I went back to work in September to a major regime change and general re-structure. That means for a while, I was at risk of losing my job, the rest of my team and I had to apply for our jobs and the whole department got a reshuffle. It was all very confusing for about 3 months. But then, good news! I was interviewed and offered a job in a different department for full-time hours!

(Note for the confused: for three years, I have worked part-time in a college library. Starting in the new term, i.e. next week, I will be working in the Learning Support section of the same college.)

What this means, apart from more money, is that I'll be working a lot more than I've been used to and therefore am unlikely to be blogging or even reading or checking book-twitter as often as I do now. But I have a plan! I think. I'm going to write more relaxed, reading-update-style posts and have a monthly mini-review round up. That way, I still write formal reviews but also you guys, if you care, can stay up to date with my reading progress - and probably prod me if I'm getting behind! How does that sound?

Let me know if there's anything you'd like to see happen on this blog, and if you have any reading resolutions for the new year?