Friday, 2 March 2018

March TBR

To make up for a ridiculous absence, here is my very boring TBR for the month of March which is, of course, all university books because I don't have room in my head or my life for anything else!

Currently Reading: Zombie Apocalypse! by Stephen Jones

To read and be studied in March:
The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley
Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox
Pig Island by Mo Hayder
Rosanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
The Buenos Aires Quintet by Manuel Vazquez Montalban

It might not look like a lot for one month - normally, five books in one month is easy for me - but because of the content and the writing styles, it takes a lot more of my brain power to concentrate and way more will power to pick them up in the first place!

Anyway, if you're interested, I'm reading The Devil Rides Out and comparing it to the film of the same title; Vampire Blues and Pig Island we will be looking at the deviant body; and the last two are for Latin-American crime. Oh, and my current read and my last read, World War Z, is for the Gothic body of zombies and apocalyptic fictions. I do love my course, even though the amount of reading is stressing me out at the moment.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Books I Could Re-read Forever and Ever

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

In no particular order, here is a list of ten books or series that I could quite happily re-read and never get bored. In fact, most of them I have read a few times already!
Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)
1 - Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost - this is one I always reach for in times of turmoil or upset. It always makes me happy and laugh and I especially enjoy remembering how Cat and Bones' relationship started.

2 - Harry Potter by JK Rowling - this might be an easy one and maybe a cop-out but I've recently re-read the entire series, this time on audio-book with the amazing Stephen Fry, and not only did I forget a lot of little details, I fell completely in love with the series again.

3 - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - read twice since publication, I still hold the belief that it is a perfect story of growing up and leaving home.

4 - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - another one I've read twice since publication, this story just makes me gooey and happy.
The Diamond of Drury Lane (Cat Royal, #1)
5 - The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding - the Cat Royal series was my favourite thing ever when I was younger and Cat is just the best young heroine I could have hoped for when I was an unsure pre-teen.

6 - The Host by Stephanie Meyer - goodness, another one I've read twice since publication! At least! Whenever I pick it up, I skip the first few chapters and start from when Wanderer finds the caves; the slow burn of the growing relationship with Ian makes me happy and the surprisingly clever critique of what makes us human makes me think.

7 - The End of the World as We Know It by Iva-Marie Palmer - read all the way back in 2014, I can remember loving this for its originality and its humour, and would love to re-read it with my developed critical hat on.

8 - Unsticky by Sarra Manning - one of my favourite of Sarra's adult contemporaries, I re-read this for the romance and the sex scene, to be honest. Grace and Vaughn is one of my favourite couples to read because of the banter (same with Cat and Bones, come to think of it!).
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)
9 - The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud - along with the rest of the series, I would love to read them back to back, as I read them too far apart as the later books were being published. Lockwood is my hero and I would quite happily just read about him and his crew of ghost-hunters forever.

10 - The Mediator series by Meg Cabot - another of my favourite series from pre-teen and teenage years, I have read the whole series through twice and could easily do it again and again because Suze is incredible and witty, and Jesse is another hero worthy of the page-time.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate & Other FiltersFirst love, first heartbreak, first brush with prejudice . . .
A romantic, searing and relevant debut about Islamophobia and how it affects the normal life of a teenage girl.

"I don't want something . . . expected. I want to go to film school and be the first Indian American to win an Oscar, and then I can meet the One and fall in big, heart-bursting love, and we'll travel the world, my camera ready to capture our adventures." My cheeks flush; I know I'm blushing, but I can't bring myself to shut up. "Oh, my God. I want my future life to be a cheesy romantic comedy."
He shakes his head. "No," he says. "You want it to be an epic."

Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable...

She's also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn't want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they?

Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes . . .

I have mixed feelings about this book. I really wanted to like it, just based on its completely original premise and diverse representation of Muslim teens living in this permanently fearful environment in their own homes. Yet, the whole premise the impact a suicide bomber has on her life wasn't as big a plot-point as I expected. It was done really well, I think, just in the way it explored how these big global political actions can affect individual families, but I kind of wanted more.

Maya was interesting - I adored her ambition to be a film maker, it's completely original and adorable, and her independent attitude was spot-on for most teenagers. But she was super rude to her parents. I get that they came from different places, not only the generational gap but also the literal place of America versus India in terms of teenage rebellion, independence and dating expectations, but Maya was pretty flippant with them, didn't even really attempt to understand where they were coming from or try to converse and compromise. She mostly came across as very superficial, in her taste in boys and her apparent disregard for her religion and disrespect for her parents. I wanted to like her, and I definitely felt for her when the bullying got bad, but she was mostly kinda annoying.

There wasn't as much on the Muslim part of her life as I'd expected - there was one joke about eating pork, and maybe a couple of mentions of praying with her parents but apart from that - diddly squat! There was a lot on the Indian part of her upbringing, which I adored learning about.

I also didn't entirely believe in the romance - Maya was obviously infatuated but based on nothing other than his pretty face and we learn very little about Phil, well some stuff about his family and it was all so typically Mid-west/small town that... meh. Phil also made a pretty big whoopsie just after the bomber attack, not really sure whether he was supposed to support or ignore Maya - I mean, really?

Wow, turns out I had way more to say than I thought! All in all, definitely a book to try for yourself - there was parts I loved and felt so happy they were included, especially in a YA novel, but there were parts I didn't understand the point of, or even wanted more from. An author to watch and definitely a topic more books could do with tackling.

Published 16th January 2018 by Hot Key Books. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Books I've Had on my TBR for the Longest Time

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

This is a fairly easy topic for me - I weed my TBR every now and then, and I've worked really hard to get my TBR down to 18 physical books and 11 ebooks. So here are just my top five books that have been on my TBR for a ridiculous time!

1 - The Summer Book by Tove Jansson - added December 2016
This was a Christmas present, something that my grandparents thought I'd enjoy but honestly, I'm probably not gonna read it.

2 - Graceling by Kristin Cashore - added July 2016
Bough in the library sale, basically I haven't had a chance to pick this up - either because I've favoured other books ahead of this or because I went off fantasy for a while.

3 - A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab - added March 2016
Bought in kindle sale, really should read it but am honestly slightly daunted because its VE Schwab! What if I don't like it?

4 - The Novice by Taran Matharu - added March 2016
Again, haven't picked it up because I kind of went off reading fantasy so still it sits.

5 - The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - added July 2015
Um... I don't think I have a reason for leaving this for so long! Awkward. I remember I bought it in the kindle sale because a colleague said it was good. But then I've seen mixed reviews and just haven't braved it.

What are some of yours? Are any of your TBR pile gathering dust or do you do better than that? Let me know!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Books I Can't Believe I Read!

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

I've left off university course books because obviously they are not books I would normally pick up but I read them for a reason.

1 - One Night Stand by JS Cooper - books like this, I'm almost ashamed to admit to reading; not because they are about sex, which no-one should be ashamed to read about, but because they are basically just about sex! Barely a plot, badly edited, just something fun and doesn't require much thinking.

2 - What A Girl Wants by Lindsey Kelk - not that this was particularly bad, it wasn't. I just carried on with it even after nothing made sense and I realised it was book two in a series.
We Should All Be Feminists

3 - We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I think with this one, it's more a case of 'I can't believe it took me so long to read'. I really got into feminism and what it meant, both generally and personally, at university and I only read this last year.

4 - Legacy of Lies by Jillian David - I said it in my review: I thought it was going to be a great Western slash supernatural story and it wasn't! It was so disappointing, really, in terms of magical elements and the romance was rushed. I only finished it because it was a review book.

5 - Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - when I read it, I was barely into classics and I was surprised at how much I adored it!

Paper Butterflies
6 - Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield - horrible. So good, but just a awful story, made me sick at times but so damn good!

7 - Undone by Cat Clarke - as much as I love her writing and her stories, they are all so awful and sad that I do have to force myself to read them! Chilling and clever, that's how I'd describe Clarke's books, they definitely stay with you.

It's the End of the World As We Know It8 - It's the End of the World As We Know It by Saci Lloyd - seriously strange, I struggled with this one and once again, only persevered because it was a review book.

9 - Anomaly by Krista McGee - I'm not sure why I expected a book picked up in a Christian gift shop wouldn't be about religion finding its place in a dystopian world but still... pretty weird, badly paced and just not for me.

10 - Darkness Falls by Jessica Sorenson - even though I read this nearly four years ago, I can distinctly remember wanting to DNF it on multiple occasions. I kinda wish I hadn't bothered, as now I can't even remember the basic premise!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Top Books I Know I Loved But Can't Remember Any More!

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

1 - Blood Red Road by Moira Young
2 - Undead by Kirsty McKay
3 - This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
4 - Velveteen by Daniel Marks
5 - How To Love by Katie Cotugno
6 - Acid by Emma Pass
7 - Riot by Sarah Mussi
8 - Pawn by Aimee Carter
9 - Dangerous Boys by Abigal Haas
10 - The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Not only can I barely remember anything about these books - which is a shame, because I do remember loving them - for some I couldn't even remember the author! What I do know is, I definitely enjoyed them all, and count a few of them as favourites, and really I could do with re-reading them! 

To be fair, most of these I read years ago, so no wonder I can't remember much details!

What are some of yours? Do you almost instantly forget once you pick up the next book, or can you hold on to details for months? And how annoying is it when the former happens but you need to wait a year for the sequel? 

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Fandom by Anna Day

The FandomCosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands ...

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.

It is every fangirl's dream to fall into their favourite book but Violet soon realises that the dangers are a lot closer when she's really there. When she and her friends crash through some sort of hole in space and time and land in The Gallows Dance, Violet has to fill the protagonist Rose's shoes and continue the story.

Honestly, I was sort of conflicted going in to this; it was news to me how the story came about, partnered with the Big Idea Competition but I didn't let that deter me. I figured it can't be that different from fanfiction! As a contemporary inside a dystopian, it was well aware of the stereotypes and the characters didn't want to fall into them, but they also made fun of the tropes and famous names - it was a little strange. None the less, pretty good world-building, as she had to establish both home and inside-the-book structure and all the characters were interesting to read about. Violet I could identify with straight away and her relationship with younger brother Nate was incredibly similar to me and my brother; I got a little annoyed with how many times she referred to Kate's "soft Liverpool accent" but Kate was awesome, like the resident sceptic. Alice was pretty awful and I struggled to understand why they were even friends but shared history is important, I guess.

I could also see how it was going to veer off the "canon" of the original story, the original being that Rose fell in love with Willow and her death sparked the revolution. But right away, Willow was two-dimensional and annoying, which was the point so it worked. And Ash was utterly adorable, maybe the typical puppy-dog, other side of the love triangle, but it was fascinating the way this crash gave him a better backstory.

It was a very twisty plot, as the "canon" is dragging them along but their very presence is ruining the original storyline. Some of the reveals and surprises were quite clever and I really enjoyed the twists and hiccups as the canon must be completed. However, I could see the hole right away - the hints were obvious but even then, I wasn't sure if it was all just a coma dream or not - kept me on my toes!

All in all, I really liked it: it wasn't really heavy or complicated to read, the world was typical dystopian but that was the point, and the characters made the story funny and very enjoyable. Maybe just don't expect too much but still a good story.

Published 4th January 2018 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.