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?

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Top Ten Authors I'm Thankful For

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

This week's prompt is based on Thanksgiving which, as a Brit, I do not celebrate but has inspired me to talk about the authors I'm thankful for and whom I always go to if I need a boost. As usual, this list is not in any particular order and feel free to tell me in the comments if any of these writers are on your list, or if not then who is.

1 - Sarra Manning - her books always perk me up, they are funny and heartfelt and swoony.

2 - Keris Stainton - I can rely on Keris to make me laugh and my heart burst with happiness.

3 - JK Rowling - the queen herself, obviously!

4 - Jeaniene Frost - her Night Huntress series is one of my all-time favourite series, featuring one of the best couples in fiction: Cat and Bones.

5 - Holly Bourne - clever, sometimes makes me cry, always makes me think

6 - Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen - I still giggle to think about the condom incident in Freshers!

7 - Lauren James - who knew time travel could be so romantic?

8 - Sarah J Maas - despite the controversy, I still adore her books, and her characters are always just stunning

9 - Rachel Caine - her Morganville series got me through university. Plus vampires will always be my favourite.

10 - Meg Cabot - one of my teen-years favourites, I credit the Mediator series with my love of paranormal stories.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Mini reviews: Scythe, The Invitation, Open Road Summer

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)Scythe
A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death.

In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ("gleaned") by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes' apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe's apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice's first task will be to glean the loser.

This book… man, this book! Right from the off, this has such an interesting concept and was handled wonderfully. Where death is no longer a natural part of life, particular humans have to glean to control the populace and these people are trained in the art of killing, as well as history and philosophy. I just adored this world, it was fascinating to see how humanity could evolve to deal with a world where death just wasn’t a thing. In this post-Mortal world, where life wasn’t limited, things like art, theatre and literature didn’t have the same effect because without an impending ending, passion seemed to not exist. Plus everything from security to the building of new architecture was handled by the super computer/AI called the Thunderhead. Citra and Rowan are handpicked and thrown head first into training to kill as well as all the politics and regulations that monitor the Scythedom, and I loved every minute of it!

Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Invitation
The InvitationWhen Piper James unexpectedly gets a message from her insanely hot teenage crush Rob Kingsford, inviting her to their school reunion, her heart flips. She hasn’t seen Rob in eight years – and he’s always been the one who got away.

Throw in some old friends (and frenemies), a sister on the edge of a meltdown and a few too many cosmos and you have all the ingredients for a real night to remember… Will Piper and Rob finally get together, the second time around?

Like all of Keris’ novels, this is a rom-com movie in a book, with all of the cuteness and giggles that come with it. Piper is a girl who knows she has weight issues but over the years has embraced her size, put the negative comments down and is now very happy in her new life in London. All this positivity is tested when she is invited to her school reunion and is faced with not only her former bullies but also her lost love, Rob. I really enjoyed this, it was easy to read and to fall in love with Piper and Rob and all their miscommunications, mis-timings and just overall adorable love story. You really feel for Piper, with her body confidence issues being tested, her desire to leave her old life behind but ultimately being drawn back into her home town, and her general attitude to life was lovely and aspirational. Yet another hit from Keris!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Open Road Summer
Open Road SummerAfter breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts.

But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

A story about best friends and road trips will always be a hit with me, and Open Road Summer was no different! After a tough few months, Reagan wants to leave her old life and troubles behind when she accompanies her best friend on tour. This girls-only bonding time is ruined soon by the arrival of another country singer, Matt Finch, who joins the tour to squish rumours spreading about Lilah’s hometown boyfriend. Much like Lord’s other novels, this was full of heartfelt emotions and tough situations. Poor Reagan, she has had a heck of a life! She wants to move past her troublesome ex-boyfriend and the police record that he dragged her into, and by having some quality time with her bestie and maybe even snuggling up with Matt, she can grow as a person and better her photography skills. I did like this, it wasn’t the tale of best friendship I thought it was going to be but rather a story of personal growth and growing up.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Life Update

Hello! Wow, it has been way too long! So, I've got some news, but how are you? Good, good. Oh, my news is that I've finished my Masters! Yes, my dissertation is written and all handed in. I'm glad I did it, but man am I glad it's over! 

Yep, Masters is complete and now my life - that is, my reading and bookish life - can go back to normal! Obviously, I haven't been reading as much as I normally do, I'm so behind on my reading challenge and I haven't had a chance to write a review for months. But all of that will change! 

Upcoming reviews that you have to look forward to are:
- Scythe by Neal Shusterman
- The Invitation by Keris Stainton
- Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
- The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts
- Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham

Plus, discussions, Friday reads, top tens and whatever else I feel like writing! I'm so glad I'm back and will see you all soon for said reviews!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Books That Hold Memories

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

This week's theme is "books with sensory memories", such as books you remember reading while on holiday or while eating, or whatever. I'm going with books that I distinctly remember reading at a pivotal time in my life, like a big holiday or during an interview - if that doesn't quite make sense, I'm going to explain the whole situation after each book. And, as usual, this list is not in any particular order. Ok, let's go!

1 - The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Stevens - I was reading this earlier in the year while on a study trip to Krakow and Berlin. I started it during the second half of the week and distinctly remember reading it to distract myself on the plane journey home. By the way, great book!

2 - It Only Happens In The Movies by Holly Bourne - I couldn't work on my essay for university before I finished this book, and even then, I was seriously distracted by how much I adored the ending!

3 - Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon - my first book for my MA course, I was surprised by how much I loved this, and I can remember reading this on my lunch breaks at work, to finish it before we discussed it in class.

4 - Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison - I laughed out loud while reading this on the sofa, scaring my mother who was trying to watch TV!

5 - We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - borrowed from the library, I read this the day I got it, on the train home from work. I can remember because it was surprisingly sunny for January and my seat on the train was bright and hot.

6 - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson - again, borrowed from work, I remember reading this on my lunch break and having a great conversation with a colleague about Merricat.

7 - Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - my first classic of 2016 and my second book of that year, I read this on my fiance's bed and read bits aloud to him, whether he liked it or not!

8 - The Duff by Kody Keplinger - I know I was reading this when I was interviewed for a job at Waterstones because my soon-to-be manager asked me about it!

9 - The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderon - can't remember the story but do remember I was reading this at the same time I had an interview to be a local school's librarian because I had it in my bag and read some while I was waiting for my lift home. Didn't get the job, by the way.

10 - Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - read in the rented cottage while on holiday in the Dordogne. Beautiful weather, great family holiday, also (randomly) can remember watching the London Olympics while on holiday there too!

Monday, 9 July 2018

Top Books of the Year So Far!

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

Reading speed has been bad for me this year because I've been prioritising my university reads, and so it turns out I don't have a full top ten list! I've read loads of great books so far this year, lots that have pushed me out of my comfort zone, but these are my top five, most memorable books:

1 - The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
2 - World War Z by Max Brooks
3 - Obsidio by Aime Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
4 - The Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
5 - The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Stevens

Let me know what's on your list, what books have really stood out for you this year!