Saturday, 31 December 2016

MY 2017 BOOKISH RESOLUTIONS

I had a pretty good reading year in 2016; I managed to get through 60 books (up to the 30th December as I'm writing this!) which were a mixture of a few different genres. I thought I'd start 2017 with good intentions by setting myself some bookish resolutions. Whether I'll succeed is another story, but this is a good start.


Read 65 books: Reaching around 60 books in 2016, after setting an initial target of 25, I want to aim higher in 2017. I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself though, as I'm in my final year of uni and of course that's (sadly) my first priority.

Document every book: So, I already do this on Goodreads, but I received the super cute book above as a Secret Santa present this year (it's from Waterstones), and I love the idea of writing each book down, and keeping track of any that I want to read in the future. There's also plenty of room for it to last well over just one year, and I think it'd be a cool little keepsake for years to come.

Read more non-fiction: I own so many different genres of books but tend to stick to YA fantasy. I've got lots of non-fiction books on my shelves, on some really interesting topics so I'm going to aim to read at least one each month.

Keep my bookcasess organised: So, I tend to reorganise my bookcase every couple of months. Then I buy more books and just plonk them on the shelves wherever they will fit. I'm planning on buying another bookcase in the New Year, and keeping both of them organised is definitely going to be an ongoing mission.

Finish series: I have a seriously bad habit of reading the first, or first few books in a series. The Mortal Instruments and The Raven Cycle, I'm looking at you. I want to break this habit in 2017!

Set up my bookish shelves: I've been planning on setting up some dedicated shelves for a while now. For example, I want one Sarah J Maas shelf and one J.K Rowling shelf to begin with. I've been buying different trinkets and pieces of merch to accompany my books on the shelves, but I think actually putting the shelves on my wall will be a good first step.

I'm feeling pretty optimistic right now, and looking forward to 2017. I'm not a huge fan of the whole "New Year, New Me!" thing that floods social media around this time of year, but you can't deny that a brand new year brings with it a sense of hope and opportunity, and I love that feeling.

I'd love to know if you are setting any bookish resolutions!


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Thursday, 29 December 2016

BOOK REVIEW: THE MEMORY BOOK


So I'm writing this about ten minutes after finishing The Memory Book* by Lara Avery. I needed a little time to gather my thoughts and pick up the pieces of my heart, but wanted to get all of my feelings out straight away. Well that got intense. Seriously though, this book is heartbreaking but so so beautiful, and I urge you to read it.

From the cover: 

Sam McCoy is 17.

Sam McCoy was going to be someone - and then she became ill.

Now, she must figure out who she is... 


Thoughts:

So first of all, I have to say that I would never usually pick up this kind of story. Books or films about terrible illnesses tend to kickstart my anxiety: "omg that happens to me" or "I have three out of those four symptoms!" So I almost always avoid them. However, when the lovely people at Books With Bite asked if I wanted to review The Memory Book, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I'd seen so many fab things about it on social media, so I was super intrigued. I do not regret my decision in the slightest.

At first, it took me a while to get into it, around 100 pages in fact. Tonight I started reading from page 100 and finished the whole thing - I was hooked. The book is written in a sort of journal style, for Sammie to document her days to help out "Future Sammie" as she is known. The way that Sammie writes becomes increasingly different as the disease progresses, and this hit me hard.

There was something I found so endearing about Sammie. She's quirky and a little bit awkward and I loved it. Now I don't know how much of that comes from the illness (which obviously I do not love!), but she does mention that she's always had trouble with social cues, and it was a nice change for me to read about a female character who isn't always super cool, doesn't always have masses of friends and isn't always calm and collected around boys. 

While I found Sammie 100% believable and had a really solid image of her in my head the whole way through, I didn't really relate to any of the other characters. This being said, the story definitely focuses on Sammie's battle with her disease, so I can't say I mind not loving the other characters too much. 

This story is not just emotional, but seriously inspirational too. Sammie doesn't ever give up on her hopes or dreams, even in the face of a terminal illness. I feel like everyone could use a bit of that inspiration, even just for small things in day to day lives. I giggled, I smiled and my heart was broken. I loved it.

I don't want to say much more, as I feel like this is the kind of story that it is best to go into without much prior knowledge. The Memory Book is released on the 26th January 2017. I advise that you grab a copy, and some tissues while you're at it.

*this proof copy was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 19 December 2016

MY NEW FAVOURITE PLANNER: KIKKI K THRIVE 2017

I'm pretty chuffed with myself, you know? In 2015 I posted a review of the Bando "I Am Very Busy" planner, which you can read here if you want to. Since then, I have for the first time managed to stick to one planner. It might not seem like a big deal to some, but I'm pretty fickle when it comes to planners. Anyway, it became an essential part of my day to day life, especially with work, my final year of uni, blogging and personal appointments. Coming to the end of the year, I just knew that I wanted an equally as cute but practical planner for 2017. Which was when I found the Kikki K Large Weekly Planner: Thrive.





The quality of this planner is unbelievable; it's extremely sturdy and feels much more expensive than the £18 it costs. I absolutely love the design. It's minimal yet attractive and functional, with the gold foil 2017 print on the pink marble inspired cover. I particularly love the spiral binding as it means that I can lay it flat while writing inside,

The planner starts as all planners do, with space for personal details such as name, address and contact information. It then moves on to quick year overviews for both 2017 and 2018 which is handy for dates at a glance. The Thrive planner also includes international public holidays split out by country; I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of this but it's a great added feature.

Before you get into the first month, there is space to write your priorities for the next 18 months. I think this is a lovely touch as it really gets you to think about what the main things you want to achieve are. I was a little confused though, as this is only a 12 month planner, but it isn't a problem.

The months are split by good quality dividers, each with a different inspirational quote (love this!) The monthly tabs are also laminated which is such a small touch but one that I find really useful, as it's easy to quickly get to the month you need. 

Though I've never owned one myself, the month on two page spreads remind me a lot of the way that Erin Condren planners are laid out. Each block is big enough to write in the important details of any appointments and follows the super cute colour theme of pinks and whites. This is then followed with a week on two pages. These spreads are possibly my favourite part of the whole planner. Not only is there enough space to make notes for each day. there are also places to note your focus for the week, the top priorities for that week, "something for me" which I think is lovely, and also a visual aid for tracking your water intake (I'm awful at drinking enough water so this will definitely be a big help!) On the left, there is also a section called "the list". I'm thinking of using this for either books or films that are being released that particular month, maybe books that I've been recommended or tasks that need completing but aren't a priority and don't have a particular date attached to them.

After the 12 months, there is a "thanks" section, where you can note three things you're grateful for each day. I'm so happy that this is included within the planner; I've alternated between writing my gratitude logs on my phone and in another notebook, so I'm glad that I can keep everything together now! There is also a notes section which is useful for jotting anything down while you're out and about.

I absolutely love this planner and have been excited to start writing in it ever since it arrived on my doorstep (figuratively, of course, it was actually handed to my mum by the postman but that didn't sound as cute). If you're looking for a practical but aesthetically pleasing planner, I think this may be the one!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

THE ULTIMATE BLOG PLANNER BY DOT CREATES

I'm determined to stay organised in 2017. Blogging organisation is something I sorely lacked in 2016, but I'm hoping that The Ultimate Blog Planner by Dot Creates will sort me out.

I opted for the grey design and am in no way disappointed. It's such a minimal and classy design and I love it! I have to mention first, that the quality of this planner is incredible. The paper is nice and thick, meaning you can't see your pen on the other side of the page which is a huge bug bear of mine. The spiral binding also feels super secure, which is great because I've got a bad habit of accidentally breaking these!

The planner is undated, which I love, as you don't have to waste any months as you might do with a dated planner! Each month starts with a lovely inspirational quote, before moving on to the blogger planning pages. First, there is a page with space to note any upcoming events and to record any sponsored content which is great for keeping track on any agreed posts. There are then 16 pages of blog content planner pages for each month, which for me is more than enough. For each post, you can write the post date, title, plan the actual content and complete the checklist to make sure you've done everything you need to before publishing.

I think this is such a handy little tool for any blogger. I'm a huge fan of the old pen and paper method of planning rather than using technology, so I'm sure that this planner will become an everyday essential for me.



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Thursday, 8 December 2016

A (MINI) DECEMBER TBR

I have bought a lot of books recently, which you can read about in my haul post, but with lots of university deadlines coming up along with Christmas, I'm only planning on reading a couple of books this month.

I'm currently reading Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, the second book in the Grisha trilogy, on my Kindle and I'm really enjoying it so far! I can't wait to finish the series so that I can move on to the well loved Six of Crows, but I'm planning on doing that in the New Year.

After Siege and Storm, the first book on my list is The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Now this doesn't actually come out until March, but I was very kindly sent a proof copy by Hodder Books and I'm so excited to read it that I just can't wait that long! The Roanoke Girls "shocks and tantalizes" and "explores the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart". How good does that sound?

I'm feeling pretty ambitious, so I'd also love to tackle Nevernight by Jay Kristoff this month too. Aside from this book being super beautiful (and big!), I've also heard a lot of fab things about the story. I saw a review which talks about a shadow cat, and well, I love cats sooo this is a definite yes.

I'd love to know what you're planning on reading this month!

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Monday, 5 December 2016

HUGE AUTUMN AND WINTER BOOK HAUL

I've bought an obscene amount of books recently. Not that I'm complaining, but I think I really need to invest in a bigger bookcase. Even though I know that I have 60 plus unread books on my shelves that I should really get to, I just can't stop buying more. I actually ordered more just before writing this post, and I'm expecting another delivery any day now... Anyway, back to the books I bought over the past few months.

 So with the arrival of Crooked Kingdom (on my Christmas list!), I thought it was about time I delved into the Grisha world. I picked up Six of Crows, but then my lovely friend Aisling of Aisling's Beauty Bytes advised that I should probably read The Grisha Trilogy first to get an understanding of the world first. I've already read the first and am halfway through the second, so you'll be able to read about them in my wrap up. Spoiler: loving them.

After watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I couldn't help but order the screenplay. I also decided to buy The Tales of Beedle the Bard to go on my 'Harry Potter themed shelf', once I get around to putting it up!

The Raven Cycle series is now complete after I purchased The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Funny story: I found a signed copy of The Raven King in my local Waterstones, so for a while, I only had the first and last book in the series.

I finally picked up a load of books that have been buzzing around the book blogging world for a long time that sadly, I'm yet to read: The Night Circus, Illuminae, the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy, This Savage Song and Lady Midnight. I've seen and heard so many amazing things about Nevernight too, so I just had to get my hands on it. Nemesis, which I received in the November FairyLoot box (read all about it here), sounds so exciting so I'll definitely be reading that soon too.

Last but by no means least, I'm so excited to have received a proof copy of The Roanoke Girls from Hodderscape. It sounds amazing and I can't wait to read it.

Keep an eye out for my December TBR which will be posted soon!


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Monday, 28 November 2016

NOVEMBER 2016 FAIRYLOOT BOX

This month I received my first ever bookish subscription box. Eek! I've been wanting to post about the box since the minute I received it, but I know not everyone received it as quickly as I did so I didn't want to ruin the surprise for anyone!

I know I'm waaaay behind the times with these, but it took me a while to find one that I thought I would really love, and then I found FairyLoot. If you haven't heard of FairyLoot, they describe themselves as "a fantasy focused monthly subscription box containing a Young Adult book and some hand selected bookish goodies". I love that you can purchase 'one off' boxes, instead of having to commit to a six or twelve monthly subscription.

November's theme was Royals & Rogues. When I was looking for a bookish subscription box and came across this, I was hooked from the second I read "for fans of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series", (aka my absolutely most favourite fave ever). The box was packaged so well and it even had a super cute quote on the side - I was genuinely excited to work my way through the layers to all the bookish bits, and let me say, there were a lot of them! One of my issues with subscription boxes is that you could end up paying a fair amount for not a lot, or for things of low quality. This definitely isn't the case with FairyLoot!



So, one of my favourite pieces from this month's box is the Queen of Books mug, which was designed exclusively by Read At Midnight just for this box! I have a little collection of mugs going on. Not for drinking out of, just cute mugs that look good on my shelves - this isn't just me, right? Anyway, I love this mug and I feel that it sums up my life pretty well. Another favourite of mine is the Queen of Terrasen notepad which was hand designed by Alex Lampley exclusively for the Royals & Rogues box. I'm pretty sure I squealed when I saw this. Sarah J Maas fills my heart with such joy and breaks it into a million pieces in the same minute, but I love her so it's ok.

To go with the mug (if you use them like a normal person, unlike me) was a packet of Royals & Rogues tea and disposable tea leaf filters from The Tea Leaf Company. I was pretty excited about these. I'm not a massive tea drinker and I've no idea how to use filters but I'm excited to try them out!

Another (!) exclusive is the Calipha Pocket Mirror created by Bookworm Boutique, inspired by the Wrath & The Dawn duology. It's so cute, and the perfect size to fit inside your makeup bag! There were some gorgeous art prints included in the box too, inspired by Red Queen and created by LovelyOwlsBooks and Bookotter. I can't wait to get these up on my wall.

The next item I was a little confused by at first. Is it a crystal? Is it a candle? Well, it's soap! A scented Spectorium Soap Crystal by CraftyRagamuffin to be precise. Inspired by the book in November's box, I'm so excited to use it. I just can't bring myself to tear open the packaging just yet. There was also an amazing A Court of Mist and Fury (did I mention it's my favourite?) themed bag included in the box too, but I can't find the lovely person who created it anywhere! 

Finally, the book. I was so excited to find out what this month's book would be, and I'm not disappointed: Nemesis by Anna Banks. I have to admit that I'd heard of neither the book nor the author before, but I'm so intrigued by the plot. Described as having "the perfect amount of magic, mystery, romance and action", it sounds right up my street. The book also came with a signed bookplate, bookmark author letter and a Parani sketch which I love! 

I'm so, so happy with the November Royals & Rogues FairyLoot box, I don't think I'll be able to resist buying future boxes either, which is great for me but not so great for my shelves or bank account. Ah well!


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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

TEN REASONS WHY I LOVE TO READ


Reading is one of, if not my most, favourite thing to do. It's been a huge part of my life ever since I can remember, and because I spend so much of my time devoted to it, I thought it was about time I share ten reasons why I love to read!

1. To escape. With all the stresses of university, work or just life in general, getting stuck into a good book can provide a fab escape. You can put yourself in someone else's shoes for a little bit, get sucked into a new world and just let yourself run wild.

2. Educational. I wholeheartedly attribute my writing skills to my years of reading. For as long as I can remember, reading has been my go to activity. My family and I frequented the library and book shops pretty often, and the book loving bug definitely got passed down from generation to generation. Without it, I don't think I'd possess the skills or knowledge that I do today!

3. The people. The book loving community really is awesome. It's full of like minded people who you can have endless discussions with who totally understand your undying love for Rhysand (heh heh). I've also met three of the most amazing people through book blogging this year, Aisling of Aisling's Beauty Bytes, Emily of Bambi's Blogs and Emma of Emma's Bookery. Not only do we spend a lot of time fangirling, they're also the most supportive and understanding group of girls and I've spoken to them every day for almost two months now!

4. Creativity and imagination. I think without reading, my dreams and ideas would be pretty dull. I don't know about you, but after I've read a particularly good book, I can replay scenes in my head like I've just watched a film. I love it.

5. Improves moods. There's just nothing quite like reading to really cheer me up. Especially after you read an amazing scene that you just want to scream about and tell everyone, or when that couple FINALLY get together.

6. Booktube. Who else finds themselves hours deep into watching somebody organise their book shelves - hands up? I owe a lot to Booktube, without it I would never have come across some of the amazing books I own, and I'm sad it took me so long to find it.

7. The comfort. Books + bed/sofa/chair + blanket + hot drink = bliss. Need I say more?

8. The aesthetics. Sometimes I like to just sit and stare at my bookcase lovingly. Other times I want to fling all of the books off the shelves into a (carefully arranged of course) pile and re-organise it from scratch. One thing is for sure though, books look bloody great.

9. Fangirling. Ah, the Fangirl. Defined by Urban Dictionary as "a rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with a fictional character". Hard to disagree really. I spend 80% of my life fangirling. Whether it's through buying book related merch, sending fan art back and forth in an aptly named "Rhysand and Cats" Whatsapp group chat or simply declaring "I JUST CAN'T" at every book related tweet I see, I am a Fangirl. And proud.

10. The book hangovers. I've suffered a fair few of these in my life, and each and every time they are devastating... but oh so worth it. The bittersweet feeling of loving a book so much, that nothing else will ever compare. A Court of Mist and Fury, I'm looking at you!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

A TRIP TO PARADISE

Provided by Paradise Island Adventure Golf









A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to try out Paradise Island Adventure Golf in the Trafford Centre. I was super excited as even though I'm absolutely rubbish at mini golf, it's something my boyfriend and I enjoy doing and so of course I accepted straightaway.

We made our way to the venue, which is just next to Laser Quest and the cinema, and joined the queue. Our session was booked for late afternoon on a Saturday, and so as you would expect it was fairly busy but we were served in no time. You're given clubs, balls to choose from and a scorecard with a pencil. They even serve cold drinks and slushes which was great news for me as we played when we were having particularly good weather.

There are two 18 hole courses to choose from, and we picked the Temple Ruins Adventure. Despite it being busy, we didn't have to wait too long between holes for other people to finish which was good, and there was generally a rule where if you hit a certain number and still hadn't putted the ball you had to move on, which meant you weren't stuck behind someone for too long either. What I really liked about the course was that each hole was different; whether it was the terrain, how you had to putt or the visual aesthetics, each hole was interesting! The venue was themed really well, with stone carvings, outhouses, rainforest sounds and plenty of wildlife. With it being a warm day too, the temperature even felt tropical!

I took a lot longer to complete the course than I anticipated - I'm obviously not as good at mini golf as I thought! George and I had a lot of fun making our way around; the atmosphere was lovely, everyone was having a great time and you could feel the compeitive streaks coming out in those around you. We scored our fair share of "hole in ones" though, inevitably, George did end up winning. I'm so grateful to have been invited to play, and I'll definitely have to head back soon to have a go on the second course. At £6 for one course of £9 for both for a student, how could I say no? If you love mini golf, you're bound to love Paradise Island Adventure Golf!


Thursday, 16 June 2016

WHAT I'M READING THIS MONTH: JUNE

I don't want to speak too soon, but I think June is going to be a pretty good reading month - I've already read four books! I'm off on holiday towards the end of the month but I'll be posting the books I plan to read then in a seperate post, so I'm hoping to get this lovely lot finished by the 26th.




A Court of Thorns and Roses & A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

I'd been hearing about ACOTAR all over the blogging world for a while, and it'd been sat on my bookshelf for an embarrasing amount of time. With the release of ACOMAF, which I'd bought the day it came out despite not having read the first in the series, I decided to make a start. These are two of the books that I've already read this month and Oh. My. Gosh. I cannot explain how much I loved these books. I whizzed through ACOTAR last Sunday and had finished ACOMAF by the following Thursday and I'm still feeling that book hangover now. My first five star books of 2016 and the best books I have read in a long long time. Keep an eye out for a review. (Please excuse the terrible creases in the spines, I tried SO hard to prevent them. I guess it means I'll just have to buy the hardback...)

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Another book I've already finished this month is November 9 by Colleen Hoover. A YA romance novel, it isn't typically my first choice of book but I'd read a couple of great reviews and saw it was available at my local library so I thought why not?

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

I bought this after a friend recommended it to me and it has been described as "food for the feminine soul"; a collection of poems by Rupi Kaur about love and survival. Split into four sections, Kaur takes us on a journey through the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara 

Another recommendation from the above friend. I know basically next to nothing about a Little Life, except that it follows the story of four friends who move from a small town to New York. The reviews that I have read sing nothing but praise for this book, calling it "exquisite", "powerful and disturbing" and "nothing short of an utter masterpiece". How could I not want to read it? It's a very intimidating book at over 700 pages of tiny print, but I'm eager to make a start.

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

After how blown away by the ACOTAR series I was, I had to add another series by Sarah J Maas into my life. The Assassin's Blade is a collection of novellas set before the Throne of Glass series begins, which follow Celaena as she embarks on five daring missions. I don't know much about this series at all, except for that apparently it is amazing.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Another book that is raved about everywhere and I'm so excited to start it. From what I've read, The Raven Boys is a young adult fantasy novel that follows Blue and her travels with the Raven Boys from the local privagte school as they try to find a lost King. I do love fantasy stories, and though this sounds a little different than my usual type, if the reviews are anything to go by I'm going to love it!


Have you read any of these books? What are you planning to read in June?

Monday, 13 June 2016

LOST IN A BOOK

It's been a long time since I've posted a tag on amyjanealice, but after seeing Aisling's post I just had to! Reading is one of my favourite things to do and it's had the biggest influence on who I am today so I thought it'd be cool to talk about my reading habits a little.


Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
My bed tends to be my favourite place to read, after propping myself up on a few cushions and getting cosy under a blanket. It's super comfy and is nice and private for when I decide to bawl my eyes out at anything and everything. The only downside is that sometimes I can't resist the temptation to close my eyes for just five minutes and zzzz.... (this could be a sign of a boring book, or the fact that I am ALWAYS tired).

Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I would choose a bookmark over a piece of paper, but I tend to read until the end of a chapter or try and remember the page number. I always track my progress on Goodreads so I can always refer to that if I forget!

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop at a chapter?
I kind of answered this above - if I can make it to the end of a chapter or if I'm really invested in that part of the story I'll keep going, but I don't mind stopping part way through if need be.

Do you eat or drink whilst reading?
Neither really. I might snack in between bouts of reading and I'll keep a drink handy but I just can't coordinate eating/reading while flicking through my book!

E-reader or real book?
Real book, hands down. I went through a period of only reading e-books, and while it can be more convenient, especially if the physical copy is huge, I just don't find that you get the same experience if you're reading from a screen. Also, who doesn't love a bursting to the seams bookcase?

Music or TV while reading?
I can read with either, but I've recently discovered reading while listening to intstrumental or jazz music. I don't know why it's taken me so long but I love it! The TV can be ok, I feel like silence can be too distracting, but only if I have it on a low volume otherwise I end up reading the same chapter five times.

One book at a time or several at once?
I'm part way through a couple of books at the moment and I hate doing that, but if I'm just not into it I'll move it aside and pick something else up. If I'm invested in the story I can only read one at a time - my heart and head couldn't deal with all the emotions of more than one book at a time!

Reading at home or everywhere?
I read at home/my boyfriend's home the most, but I used to read on public transport quite often. I also take a book to work with me most days so I sometimes read at lunchtime. Home will always be my favourite place to read though.

Reading aloud or silently in your head?
In my head. I don't think reading aloud would be much fun.

Fiction or non-fiction?
I love a bit of both. Fiction is my true reading love, though I do enjoy non fiction every now and again.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?
If I can see that something is about to happen my eyes do have a habit of drifting down the page a little but I have to be firm and say "NO" and keep the suspense built. I hate spoilers!

Break the spine or keep a book like new?
Aaarggh I hate breaking the spine of a book or creasing a page or bending a corner, but sometimes it just cannot be helped. I do my best to keep my books in a good condition, but at the end of the day, a well loved book will look like exactly that.

Do you write in your books? 
No no no. Aside from the fact that I have been known to rip pages out of notebooks if I don't like the way my handwriting looks, I feel like writing in a book would be like violating or destroying it in some way.

Your favourite book?
A couple of days ago I would have said this was a hard question. But now? A Court of Mist and Fury. No doubt. It is honestly one of the best books I have read in a long time. I am getting around to writing a review but right now, I feel like I need to re-read it. It is just incredible.

So there we go, now you know all about my reading habits. Please let me know if you take part in the Lost in a Book tag , I'd love to read your answers!


Saturday, 11 June 2016

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: MAY



This month I did a pretty good job of sticking to my TBR list, reading four out of the six I had planned (I did at least make a start on the other two)! May started off a little slow but picked up towards the end, and I enjoyed each book I read which was nice.


My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
3/5 stars

The story follows Samantha Reed who sits and watches the Garrett family next door every day. The Garretts couldn't be more different than the Reeds, and after meeting Jase, Samantha is welcomed with a warm embrace into his family although she must hide him from her own. We follow Samantha and Jase as they fall in love for the first time, with each other, until tragedy strikes and Samantha must quickly make a tough decision.

This is a young adult contemporary novel, and while it isn't typically a well loved genre of mine, I quite enjoyed this one. First of all, I liked how mature the main characters were for their age which made the story seem a lot more realistic. Though I did find it quite hard to warm to Samantha at first, as the story went on she became more likeable but I never fully invested in her. The relationship between Samantha and Jase was nicely paced and again, realistic. I particularly liked how Fitzpatrick didn't shy away from the awkward points of a first real relationship which made a refreshing change! My Life Next Door is a quick and easy read - perfect for a Summer holiday!


You. Where do I start with You? Written in the second person, the story is told as if we are in Joe's head, who is eessentially a physcopath. He becomes obsessed with student Beck after she comes into the shop he works in one afternoon and he stops at nothing to know where she is, who she's with and what she is doing at all times. It was a pretty creepy read and quite uncomfortable in some parts - I would definitely describe this as a more mature read due to the nature of some of the scenes. I found that because of the style You is written in, you find yourself glossing over some parts of the books, that if you read in any other book you would be like "WHAT THE HELL!?". You almost find yourself agreeing with Joe's reasoning, which is definitely not ok! You is a brilliant thriller, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, creepiness and all.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn 
4/5 stars

This was my first foray into the world of Gillian Flynn, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Flitting between 1980s and present day America, we follow Libby Day, who hid in a cupboard while her entire family were massacred - her evidence put her brother Ben away for life. Libby is contaced by secret society the Kill Club, a local group obsessed with notorious crimes, and after offering her money in exchange for her help and information, Libby takes a look back into the case.

Written from three perspectives, we hear the story from Patty Day (Ben and Libby's mum), Ben Day and Libby Day. I'm usually not a fan of mulitple POV stories but this was done very well; Ben and Patty's perspectives come solely from the day of the murders while Libby looks back from the present day. Dark Places is, if you didn't guess already, a very dark book. It deals with difficult themes like poverty, satanic cults, alleged sexual abuse, physical abuse and more, Reading from Ben's POV was hard at times, as you could see him spiralling and some of his thoughts were very grim and it did make you wonder: Was he capable of killing his entire family?

I was completely sucked into this story and it kept me thinking and guessing right up until the end and I still didn't manage to figure out what happened completely. It isn't only a mystery, but a pyschological thriller as well I would say as it really does affect you. Dark Places is a twisted, yet bloody brilliant book. Well done Gillian Flynn.

Another horror/thriller story, but with a serious twist. Horrostor is set in an Ikea inspired superstore in America, called Orsk. Things are going terribly wrong overnight: furniture is being destroyed, writing is appearing on the walls and questionable substances are found on sofas. To try and find out who, or what, is causing the carnage, employees stay through the night, with awful consequences. I can't really say much more without ruining the story, but let me tell you that this is one creepy book. Though the horrors do seem very unrealistic, I found myself so gripped to the story and I couldn't guess what would be coming next.

I loved that Horrorstor was set out like a real Ikea catalogue; each chapter started with what looked like a product advertisement and description. Once the action got going, these products got more and more horrific which I found really added to the plot. The references to the stores day to day goings on brought a smile to my face too, as they were basically just talking about Ikea! From the wardrobes, to the layout, to the cafe, it was a really relatable read. I found myself picturing my local Ikea when I visualised the story. I've never read anything like Horrorstor and would definitely recommend it - in fact, my dad is already half way through and loving it!


Have you read any of these books? I'd love to hear your thoughts! I'm already a few books down in my June "to read" pile - I can't wait to tell you what I think so keep an eye out for my June wrap up!



Tuesday, 10 May 2016

MAY TBR






May is starting out as a good reading month - I've already finished one of my TBR books! I haven't bought many books this month so far (for a change), as I'm trying to get through the shelves of books I haven't even touched yet on my bookcase, and a few of the books I want to read this month are from the library. Here's what I'm hoping to read in May.

First up is I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. Another book I've heard so much about around Booktube and one that I've finally picked up, again from the local library. I don't really know much about this story, just that it comes very highly rated. The first review online said: "This is one of those novels that will take your breath away and leave you with a serious book hangover for days". How could I resist?!

Ah, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Need I say more about this book? I read these books many times while growing up but decided I want to re-read them once again now that I'm a little older. I'm not sure how long this new illustrated style of Harry Potter book has been out for (my originals have the very first kind of cover, just with very creased pages now!) but who needs an excuse to buy another?

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is the book I finished a couple of days ago. I'd read a couple of good reviews of this book and decided to try it out for myself and see what the fuss was about. Samantha Reed sits on her balcony and watches the Garrett family every day, wishing she was one of them, who seem to be everything her family isn't. It's a YA novel, with themes of romance, family and politics, but you'll have to wait until my May Wrap Up to find out what I thought of it!

Next is You by Caroline Kepnes. I first heard about this book over on Sarah's Chapter and I just had to buy it. You is a thriller, written from the perspective of Joe who from the first page you know just isn't quite right. He becomes obsessed with Beck, a student who one day comes in to his bookstore. What makes this book so different is that it is written in the second person, making you feel as if Joe is talking to "you". Creepy.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn is the next on my TBR pile and if you couldn't tell already, thanks to the shiny protective cover, this is one of the books I've borrowed from the library. I've never read Gone Girl, *gasps*, but heard many fantastic things about Flynn's writing. I came across this book on one of my regular browses of Amazon's book section and was gripped from the get go: "Libby Day was just seven years olf when her older bother massacred her family while she hid in a cupnpard. Her evidence helped put him away". Did you know this is a film too?

A last minute addition to my May TBR is Horrorstor, the third book that I have borrowed from the library. I haven't really heard too much about Horrostor, and it has only received a handful of reviews on Amazon, but after seeing it crop up on booktube I thought it sounded really interesting. Set in a Swedish furniture superstore, something strange is happening overnight; employees start their shifts in the morning to find broken furniture and more and so volunteer for an overnight shift to find out just what is going on. It's a traditional horror story with a twist. I love that this book is set out like a retail catalogue and I can't wait to read it!

Maybe this is a bit of an optimistic TBR, but I'm feeling very bookish this month and so hopefully I'll be able to get through all of them. What are you planning on reading this month?

Saturday, 7 May 2016

L'OREAL ELVIVE EXTRAORDINARY CLAY SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER


I came across this L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay duo when browsing Boots' website last month and after hearing that it is designed to balance the hair by hydrating ends but purifying roots to prevent the hair getting greasy, I was hooked. I aim to wash my hair every other day to keep the natural oils and prevent dryness and breakages, but for some reason my hair only seems to last one day without it looking oily. I do use dry shampoo but I try to do this sparingly as I've heard that it can be quite damaging to your scalp. Anyway, I began using this shampoo and conditioner around a month ago, and I use it 3-4 times a week. The first thing I noticed was the smell; this range has a lovely smell which lasts in your hair for about a day after use. It also made my hair feel super clean and soft which is a plus for me. I was really excited after the first use to see how long I could go with my hair still looking freshly washed, though unfortunately, my routine of washing every other day remained.

I have found that maybe my hair gets greasier even quicker than usually using this range which I'm disappointed about, as these are really highly rated! There is a pre shampoo masque that I haven't tried, so maybe this is the missing piece of the puzzle? I am going to repurchase the shampoo and conditioner, and also pick up the masque to see whether this makes a difference. I would definitely recommend this set as it definitely gives your hair a thorough cleanse, and the conditioner leaves your hair feeling soft and supple. In terms of keeping roots dry, I'm not convinced that it works, but I'll be back with an update after using the masque! Have you tried the L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay haircare set? What did you think?

Friday, 6 May 2016

APRIL READING WRAP UP


April was a bad reading month for me, I only managed two. I think I just got into a bit of a slump, but funnily enough the two books I did read  got through in just a couple of days! To find out a little more about the plot summaries you can check out my April Book Haul, but to hear what I thought about the books keep on reading.

First was The Color Purple by Alice Walker. This was the latest read in our book club at work. While this wasn't the book that I originally voted for, I really enjoyed it. Although it dealt with some dark and tense situations, The Color Purple was extremely thought provoking and it definitely raised a few emotions. I liked that it was written in a series of letters, which meant for quick reading but it also made it different to anything I'd read before. The writing of the protagonist, Celie, was a little difficult to read at first due to the fact she uses no punctuation and her grammar is poor, but this just emphasises that she has missed out on so much due to the way that she was raised and treated, especially when compared with her peers. 3.5/5 stars

The second book I read in April was Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey. I'd heard a lot about this book, from friends and fellow bloggers, but it sat untouched on my shelf for months. I was just browsing my bookcase for something to read and came across it again and picked it up straight away. I whizzed right through this book in a matter of days. The mystery was gripping and I was trying to figure it out constantly. Though the ending did get more predictable the closer to it you got, it was still really interesting. I also felt that as the book was written by the point of view of Maud, who we assume has dementia or Alzheimers though that isn't specified, it was very strong and emotional. I felt Maud's frustration as she constantly forgot and remembered things, and also the helplessness of Maud's daughter who takes care of her. This is one of the best books I've read in a while and would definitely recommend you give it a read. 4/5 stars

So that was a short and sweet wrap up for a change, wasn't it? Keep an eye out for my May TBR which will be up soon; I've already finished one of the books! Don't forget to add me on Goodreads either to keep up with what I'm reading.

Monday, 11 April 2016

APRIL BOOK HAUL



It looks like April is going to be a busy reading month for me, if my haul is anything to go by. I've actually bought so many books in the past few weeks that I've had to split this haul in two, and it's only the 11th of April! Admittedly I did buy a couple of these books towards the end of March, but I'm going to include them in this anyway. I know that my recent book posts have been a little long so I'll try my best to keep this short and sweet.

First is The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which is this month's choice for the book club at work and an award winning novel. Set in the deep American south and written in a series of letters, Celie, a young black girl who is born into poverty, tells the story of her life which is full of abuse and segregation. Though after meeting the singer Shug Avery, Celie begins to discover her own powerful spirit. I'm looking forward to reading The Color Purple after seeing so many rave reviews, but I'm also aware of the fact that this is a hard hitting story covering some dark topics.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Need I say more? I've always been interested in supernatural/paranormal stories, so I thought it was about time I read the original tale that so many others have taken inspiration from.

My Life Next Door is a contemporary young adult story that has received some high review ratings. At first I worried that it would be just another "summer romance" story, but after browsing a couple of reviews, it sounds as though this book covers a whole range of issues, from family matters, to politics, to the inevitable - love. 

The Diviners is another book that I'd watched at lot of Booktubers talk about and I'm really excited to read it! Set in 1920s New York City, Evie O'Neill finds herself shipped off to stay with her uncle after causing another scandal in small town Ohio, though this is exactly what she's always wanted. Though, New York City isn't all just about flappers and jazz, young women are being murdered across the city. And Evie wasn't just trying to escape the oppressive town of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. A mysterious power. A power that might just be able to stop the killer - if he doesn't stop her first.

I bought The Dark Days Club without knowing anything about it. I simply read a review that said "If you like The Mortal Instruments, buy this book". So I did. In 1812 London, Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to step into Regency Society. But little does Helen know, that same step will take her from the polite and glittering ballroom into a world of demonic creatures and deadly powers.

Throne of Glass seems to be all over Booktube and in a lot of peoples recommendations, so when I saw it for less than £3, I could hardly say no! In the salt mines of Endovier an 18 year old girl is serving a life sentence, Though she is a highly skilled trained assassin, she got caught. Offered a deal, her freedom for one huge sacrifice, Celeana must represent the price in a to the death tournament. Whether she live or die, she will be free and she will discover her true destiny. Had I come across this book myself I don't think I would have given this a second look, but I'm a sucker for book hype!

Finally, Outlander. Ah, Outlander. I have recently become obsessed with the TV series (finishing the first season within a week) and am already oh so excited for the second series. I had heard about the book several times, but didn't fancy it until I saw the story unfold on screen. Claire, back from the war in 1945, she and her husband are on their second honeymoon in Scotland. Aftrer walking through a stone circle in the highlands, believed to be magical by some, Claire finds herself in 1743. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, in a Scotland torn apart by the English invasion. From what I've heard and seen, Outlander is a heap of action, romance, historical fiction and dark deep drama all in one. I can't wait to read it! Just a warning - the TV series is pretty graphic and hard to watch at times (most episodes! and so it probably isn't one to watch with your gran in the room!

If you couldn't tell,I love a good fantasy/supernatural story with a bit of romance thrown in there. I can't wait to get stuck into my April reading, and I'll be posting the second part of my haul and an April TBR (to be read) list soon.