Tuesday, 20 June 2017

MY FAVOURITE (GUILTY PLEASURE) TROPES IN YA

Last week I wrote about my least favourite tropes in YA, which you can read here. I thought it was only right that I told you my favourites too! Here's a fair warning, most of these tropes relate to love and relationships because I'm a bit of a sap like that.


1. Hate to love relationships

When that snarkiness turns to flirting and tense conversations, man I live for this shit! It doesn't only work for couples, I love when two people who despise each other become best friends too and join forces to kick arse, especially in fantasy.

2. Forbidden love

I just can't help myself. There's just something so satisfying about a forbidden love. The whole secrecy/keeping it quiet thing that more often than not results in a huge reveal where the characters put everyone else's thoughts and opinions to one side and just love each other. Brb, crying.


3. Training and learning

I love seeing our MC work to improve either their fighting skills or their knowledge. I appreciate this much more than those characters who are automatically "the best". The situations a character in training goes through can help them become a more developed character, so a good training montage/story line is one of my faves. Also it's super satisfying when a character is underestimated, they train and become really frickin' cool and then surprise everyone by kicking the shit out of those who disregarded them. YAS!

4. Fake marriage or relationship

Here we go again. I did warn you. Basically, point number four is dedicated to Lorcan and Elide in Empire of Storms. God I loved their story line. You know how it goes, two characters need to go somewhere or get something whilst remaining undetected, and the safest way to do this is to pretend to be a couple. AND if we're lucky, it eventually turns into to the real thing *smirking emoji*.

5. The bad guy who is actually a really, really good guy

When a character is introduced and you're all like "ugh no go away who even wants you here?" and by the end of the story you're crying "PLEASE FORGIVE ME, I DIDN'T KNOW THE TRUTH!" because they swoop in, deliver some brilliant lines and save the day. Rhysand, I'm looking at you (I love you).

So there are my top YA tropes! As you can probably tell from this, my favourite stories are typically fantasy with a good romance. Can you blame me? What are your fave tropes, I'd love to know!


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

LEAST FAVOURITE TROPES IN YA

We've all been there. Reading books and coming across the same tropes and situations time and time again. Sometimes. I'm all for it, I love some of them! While there are others I could totally live without. Today I've got something that is a little different to what I usually post but I had fun putting it together!


1. The protagonist who comes from nowhere and is suddenly better than everyone at everything

Grrrr this one really grinds my gears. You know, when one of the characters is just a normal guy or girl who finds out that something really bad is happening and somehow they are sucked into it. Suddenly, with no training, they are fighting like experienced assassins, are confident politicians in meetings, are knowledgeable in the ways of the world and outrank most of the other characters. Ummmm?

2. Young protagonists who have the life experience of a thirty year old

This kind of links to point number one. When the 16 year old MC has fought in wars, has had several serious relationships, possesses knowledge and behaviours way beyond their years, I find it super hard to get on board. Maybe 16 year olds have changed since I was that age, who knows?

3. Insta-love

"Our eyes locked, and I  could have sworn that sparks flew between the two of us. In that moment, I knew. I knew that we were meant to be, and that I would die to keep him safe".  YOU JUST MET, HE COULD BE A MONSTER!

4. Protagonists who has no self worth until the love interest tells them they're beautiful

The plain character who absolutely despises the way they look and thinks they are worthless until their love interest tells them otherwise. I'm all for confidence boosts, and understand that sometimes you just need that to help yourself feel better, but it's important to know that you are not defined by other people's opinions of you!

5. Perfect love interests

Everyone has flaws, at least one, and when a character is utterly perfect in every way, I have zero interest. Give me someone with a crooked nose, a bad sense of humour or a slight case of clumsiness and I'm sold.
   
6. The MC who thinks they are so strong and smart that they need to ask no questions  

"Oh, I need to join this revolution and sneak into the heavily guarded castle and kill the King and save all the hostages... Ok, when do we leave?" I'm not sure if it's just me, but I'd be much happier sitting down and forming a plan before jumping in head first (if I was at all capable of storming any castle and saving anyone, but that's besides the point).

So that's just a few of the many tropes we see in YA. After reading this back, it seems to reflect fantasy more than anything! This post was a little tongue in cheek but I hope you enjoyed it. What are your least favourite bookish tropes?

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

REVIEW: ONE OF US IS LYING BY KAREN M. MCMANUS

While I do love a good mystery thriller, over the past few months I have leaned towards fantasy books more. I decided to mix things up and came across this absolute gem, One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, on NetGalley which I was very kindly approved to read!

From the cover:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. 
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. 
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? 

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Thoughts:

The plot is unlike anything I have read before; I was gripped from the first chapter! I really liked the characters, especially the developmental journey that each of them experienced throughout the story which felt real and natural, and not just as though it was used as a plot device. I loved their relationships with each other too. They didn't become the best of friends out of nowhere, they were almost strangers in the beginning and throughout the story they come together to try and solve the murder mystery which was really interesting.

When I do read mysteries, I try my hardest to pick holes and guess what is going to happen, but I was far too engrossed in the story to bother doing that with this book. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen. Told from four perspectives (the surviving students from detention) I didn't feel that I blamed any of them for the death, but then the idea of "unreliable narrators" seeps in and straight away I didn't trust any of them.  The several perspective narrative was also really interesting, and the story was very well paced throughout. Whilst predominantly a mystery, there was also a romantic aspect to this story which I felt was not over or underdone, it was just right for me. They are teenagers in high school, of course there is going to be romance! 

I was kept guessing until the very end with this book; the last few chapters are so incredibly tense! I feel that the ending was very well executed and thought out, and for a change with a mystery thriller story, I was happy with it. I felt that it was wrapped up neatly but not lazily which I really appreciated. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I think the fact that I read it in less than 24 hours is testament to that. A solid and well deserved 4/5 stars from me!


*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery.

Monday, 5 June 2017

MAY 2017 WRAP UP

This month I finished my undergraduate degree after three years in university and a 12 month placement. Before I could finish though, I had to hand in my last assignments and sit my final exam. So you wouldn't blame me for thinking that I wouldn't get much reading done. Well, 12 books later and it seems that I've proved myself wrong!

The first book that I read in May (only just, I finished it on the 1st!) is Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I had the pleasure of attending a book signing at Waterstones Liverpool in March where I had my copy of Strange signed, along with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series which you can read about here, and it made me so excited to read the book. Laini has such a beautiful way of writing. I can't quite explain what she does to make it so magical but I was totally swept away from the first page. Though it did take me a while to get through the first few chapters due to my internal "I should be working and revising" struggle, I flew through the last half in one night. I was totally invested in the characters and the world and was whisked through a whole host of emotions. Strange the Dreamer is an utterly stunning book, both inside and out, about dreams, gods and libraries, with brave, loyal and loving main characters. It was the perfect way to start such a good reading month. 4/5 stars.

So it's probably not a surprise to those of you know that know me or follow me on social media that on the 2nd of May I both received and read a certain book. Yup, you guessed it, my second read in the month of May was my most highly anticipated book of the year, A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Now, there is no way I can get all of my feelings and thoughts across in this wrap up without making it 24394857394873976 words long. What I will say is that from the moment it arrived I stopped reading it once, to make some lunch, which I ate gingerly whilst still reading hoping that I didn't get anything on the book, which wouldn't surprise me if I'm honest. 

Anyway, it took me eight and a half hours to read and throughout that time, I laughed, cried, shouted, sobbed my heart out, gasped, felt sick and by the end my heart was so full of emotion that I just had to sit and contemplate my thoughts for about half an hour. Now I know that some people had problems with the story but I loved it, wholeheartedly. I think SJM did an amazing job at wrapping up Feyre and Rhys' arc whilst leaving enough open for the next set of books. While I am absolutely heartbroken that this part of the story is over, I'll always be incredibly grateful to SJM for writing such an incredible series that has not only changed my life and helped me to meet so many other amazing people who love ACOTAR as much as me, but fuelled my love for fantasy once again. I'm currently re-reading ACOWAR with lots of tabs and notes so that I can soon my write my full spoilery review, so keep an eye out for that! Undoubtedly 5/5 stars. Always.

After devouring ACOWAR, I had a taste for SJM's writing and decided to re-read the last three books in the Throne of Glass series: Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows and Empire of Storms. While ACOTAR is my all time favourite series, Throne of Glass is a very close second. I love that our heroine is sassy, can kick some serious arse, isn't afraid to just do what she wants to do, but will do anything for those she loves despite having been dealt a seriously shitty hand. Not only is the series packed with action, the best kind of romance and some amazing characters, it's also full of twists and turns that will literally have you on the edge of your seat. Empire of Storms breaks my heart every single goddamn time. 5/5 stars.

I'm so glad to have had the chance to read this next book ahead of it's release, thanks to the publishers and NetGalley! I'd been seeing it all over Twitter and Bookstagram and knew that I had to read it. In When Dimple Met Rishi, Dimple, an aspiring web developer, gets the chance to attend a highly commended web development summer program. Unbeknown to Dimple, her parents agreed to send her there to find the "Ideal Indian Husband". Rishi on the other hand is a hopeless romantic, and jumps at the opportunity to attend the same program with hopes of wooing Dimple and falling in love. However, from the moment they meet and Rishi greets Dimple with "Hello future wife" to which Dimple responds to by throwing coffee all over him, their relationship was not what either of them expected.

I loved that Dimple really stood up for what she believed in and while Rishi loves the idea of finding his soulmate and falling in love, once he realises that Dimple desires different things, he puts his feelings aside and respects her wishes. I would have liked to have read more about the actual coding and web development that happened across the program however, I appreciate the story was more about the character development which I totally respect, and this hasn't changed my opinion of the book at all. When Dimple Met Rishi is the perfect own voices YA contemporary. It was funny, it was cute, it gave me "bookish butterflies" and I loved the main characters. I felt that I learned a lot about Indian culture whilst reading, and really enjoyed seeing lines in Hindi as well as English!  Diversity in books matters and I'm so glad to have heard from so many people that When Dimple Met Rishi is good representation and totally relatable! 4/5 stars.

So I'm a little embarrassed about how long it took me to start the next series I read in May. I'd owned the books for a few months but I'd been seeing them around the bookish community for so much longer. I finally started the Darker Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab trilogy in May! I read the first two books, A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows and was instantly swept away into a world of magic, pirates and royal intrigue unlike anything I've read before. While I raced through the stories and absolutely loved the characters, I think this was one of those series that is loved by so many and has received so many amazing reviews, that I went in with my expectations set way too high which could realistically never be met. Nonetheless, I am so excited to finish the trilogy with A Conjuring of Light and to see what happens next (though I've read that a lot of people were heartbroken so I'm also a bit scared) and the first two books are a definite 4/5 stars from me!

I came across the next series that I started reading in May over on Facebook. I'm a member of a couple of ACOTAR/TOG groups (cause you know... I just can't get enough) and a few other members had recommended Air Awakens by Elise Kova. I downloaded the first book onto my Kindle a while back as it was on offer, but only decided to read it this weekend. And well the rest, as they say, is history. I devoured the first book on Saturday, and as of the 30th May, I had finished the fourth. Air Awakens features elemental magic, a hate to love forbidden romance, a training school, war, politics, a corrupt royal family, side characters that make your heart melt and 'on the edge of your seat' action. What more could you want? Whilst the writing isn't technically the best I have ever read, I'm absolutely enthralled by the characters and the story, and for the first time in a long time, I have a real longing for the fictional world and spend my time counting down to when I can dive right back in. I gave Air Awakens and Fire Falling 5/5 stars, and Earth's End and Water's Wrath 4/5 stars.


*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

FAIRYLOOT UNBOXING MAY 2017

Hi everyone! It's been a little while hasn't it? In fact, my last three posts will now be FairyLoot unboxings. I totally blame uni and the mounds of work and revision I had to do, but it needed to be done. Now I've finished, I'm back and excited to get back to writing all things books. So, keep reading for a full unboxing of the May FairyLoot box.

FairyLoot is a "fantasy focused monthly subscription box containing a Young Adult book and some hand selected bookish goodies" as described on their website. You can commit to six or twelve month subscriptions or if you're fast enough, you can get your hands on their single purchase boxes! The May theme was "Warriors and Legends".

This month we were treated to not just one book, but two! I'd been wanting to get my hands on something similar for a while, so I was so excited to see World Mythology in Bite-sized Chunks by Mark Daniels. Now I can brush up on my knowledge of all things myth and legend! The next item definitely surprised me. It's unlike anything we've received in a FairyLoot box before, it was a pen! But not just any pen, a Metallic Feather Pen by Flora's Wonder Emporium. From what I have seen, there were several colours sent out and I received silver, which fits in just right with my room. (Is it bad that I always consider how these kinds of things will look on my bookcase?)

One of my absolute favourite items in the Warriors and Legends box just has to be this exclusive Opposing Tin Candle from In The Wick of Time, in the scent Mist (the name of the candle was chosen by this month's author). There was also a second candle created named Flame; I'm intrigued to find out the scent! It smells amazing, and reminds me of a Rhysand candle that I own which is obviously a huge plus. It's a small tin, but it fits on my bookshelves perfectly and looks right at home.

The Tea Leaf Co worked with FairyLoot to produce an exclusive blend of green tea, very aptly named Warriors and Legends, which has hints of lychee and jasmine. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of green tea but I have to say that it smells delicious and it comes in a super cute tin. FairyLoot also created their own Celtic patterned socks! You can never have too many pairs of socks right? Especially as one of the socks always goes missing.

Earlier this month I finally got my hands on one of Ink and Wonder's Woodmarks (A Court of Mist and Fury themed of course) and I fell in love, so I was so happy to see that another was included in this month's box! Featuring the infamous quote from Lord of the Rings, this One Ring woodmark is another exclusive item created just for FairyLoot.

So, the moment we wait for with every unboxing. I had a little sneaky suspicion as to what this month's book would be, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had been right! I had seen rave reviews for Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh all over Twitter and Bookstagram, and after hearing that it was a Mulan retelling I just had to get my hands on it.

"The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires."

Oh man that sounds incredible. As always, the book came with a signed book plate and a letter from the author, and this time it even came with a Flame in the Mist bookmark too! If you haven't heard of FairyLoot (what?!) or are uhming and ahhing about buying a box, please do it! You will not be disappointed. Now, I can't wait to get stuck into this month's story. *Sings* Let's get down to business...


*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!


I just wanted to mention that as I write this, it's the day after the awful terror attack on Manchester, at the Manchester Arena which as of right now has killed 22 people and injured 59 others with many still missing. 

I express my deepest condolences to anyone who has been affected, including family and friends, and I am sending my love and thoughts to all those involved. This attack has shown that in the face of terror, Manchester does not turn to hate or fear, but to love, with many members of the public offering free journeys to those who were struggling to make it home with road closures and public transport halts, hotels and other establishments offering a place to stay or a warm drink and some food, medical professionals and emergency services working around the clock to save as many people as they could, and social media users who have used their platforms to help find those that are missing. 

I have a very heavy heart right now and will never be able to comprehend why anybody would act this way, let alone at a place filled with young people and children, but I am so proud to be a member of a city that has shown strength and love during such horror.

Monday, 1 May 2017

FAIRYLOOT UNBOXING APRIL 2017

It's that time again! One of my favourite days of the month is when I finally get my hands on the latest FairyLoot box. I've never opened a box and been disappointed, in fact they just seem to get better and better so I knew I was in for a treat!

FairyLoot is a "fantasy focused monthly subscription box containing a Young Adult book and some hand selected bookish goodies" as described on their website. You can commit to six or twelve month subscriptions or if you're fast enough, you can get your hands on their single purchase boxes! The April theme was "Dreams and Wishes" and I couldn't contain my excitement when I saw that the box would include an item related to A Court of Mist and Fury (which if you didn't know is my FAVOURITE BOOK EVER!!! Ahem, sorry about that).
Upon opening the box the first thing I saw was... another box! Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't resist opening it straight away. When I saw this beautiful ACOMAF mug I might have actually squealed. Designed by Risa Rodil, it's an exclusive item which makes it even more exciting!

Another exclusive item and one of my regular FairyLoot favourites is a scented candle, Reverie by Meraki Candles. Smelling of mint, marshmallows and candyfloss, it both looks and smells delicious.
Stationery is one of my favourite things. I mean, who doesn't love stationery? I was so pleasantly surprised to see the beautiful Gemstone Notebook by Portico in this month's FairyLoot box. Even more surprised when I saw that it was the Sapphire notebook, the correct one for my birth month! It's so lovely and shiny inside with lots of pages for writing and doodles.

This year I finally read the first three books in The Bone Season series and loved them. So I'm so happy that this month FairyLoot included this Little Dreamer Tote Bag by Miss Phi. It's just the right size for carrying a couple of books around and also looks good hanging off the corner of my bookcase!

This month there were two items that I've never received in a FairyLoot box before and I absolutely love them! The Dream Jar Pin by House of Wonderland is so so cute. I've been wanting to start adding pins to my jackets recently and this is the perfect one to start off with. The Follow Your Dreams magnet, created by FairyLoot themselves, is another perfect addition to this box and I can't wait to use it.
So, this month's book * drumroll* is Given To The Sea by Mindy McGinnis. While for the past few months (and next month) I've been able to work out what the book was, I really had no idea what to expect when unboxing this! The first thing I noticed was just how beautiful the book is, both the dust jacket and the hardcover itself.

"Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer."

So this book sounds a lot different than the kind of book I would usually pick up (and I'm not going to lie, I'm kinda scared of the sea already) but after seeing some reviews on Goodreads I'm interested to reading it! Seriously, if you're thinking of trying FairyLoot out, please do it. You won't regret it!



*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!

Monday, 24 April 2017

FAIRYLOOT UNBOXING MARCH 2017

Each month I eagerly await the arrival of my FairyLoot month, and March was definitely no different! This month FairyLoot are celebrating their one year anniversary, so I was even more excited than usual to receive the box, and they really did not disappoint. It featured items that are a little different to the usual offering, which I really liked!

FairyLoot is a "fantasy focused monthly subscription box containing a Young Adult book and some hand selected bookish goodies" as described on their website. You can commit to six or twelve month subscriptions or if you're fast enough, you can get your hands on their single purchase boxes! The February theme was "Myths and Monsters".

For the first time every, FairyLoot included a scarf in one of their boxes. Exclusively made by GivArt, this silvery dragon scale scarf is so cute! It's super soft and lightweight, making it the perfect accessory for the good weather we are hoping for here in the UK. Or, it could make a great addition to a bookcase or act as a lovely little decorative piece!

Next is an item that I'm absolutely in love with - the Unicorn Fairy Lights by Mustard! Who doesn't love a good set of fairy lights? The fact that these are made up of lots of little unicorns and clouds makes them even better and I can't wait to decorate my bookcase with them.
Now a FairyLoot box wouldn't be the same without a candle, would it? This Nephilim candle by GeekyClean smells of black cherry and lime, which really reminds me of the cherry cola bottle sweets! It actually smells good enough to eat so I'll be burning it pretty soon!

The Mermaid Pocket Mirror by Book Otter is so cute and will be a lovely little addition to my everyday makeup bag, and just look at the adorable Dragon and Phoenix magnetic bookmarks by Bonitismo! I don't have any magnetic bookmarks with my bookish merch yet so I'm really happy to have received these.
So, the item that I was most excited for, the March book of the month! I'd had a few thoughts as to what it might be, so when I finally pulled it out of the book bag and saw I'd been right I may possibly have squealed: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. "A whimsical tale of  Gods, myths and monsters", Strange the Dreamer is the first in a new duology, and this edition comes with sprayed blue edges (so pretty) and artwork by Laini Taylor herself. It's even signed! As always, the book came with a letter from the author and even an exclusive postcard. I cannot wait to sink into this story; I've heard such incredible things about this book and as I'm just over halfway through her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, I know I'm going to love her latest story too.

As this month is celebrating FairyLoot's one year anniversary, the box also came with a special booklet which told us the history of FairyLoot which I thought was really cool. A chapter sampler of Fallen was also included, and I do love a good Angel story. This is another awesome box from FairyLoot. I'm honestly blown away each and every month by the incredible items included and the hard work that Anissa and Michael put in. If you're thinking about buying one, go ahead and do it! You won't regret it - promise. 



*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!

Friday, 21 April 2017

MY READING ROUTINE

Confession: I'm a little bit nosey. I love watching routine videos on YouTube; morning routines, planning routines, self care routines, allll of the routines. After watching and reading everybody else's, I thought I'd finally write my own: my reading routine.
Now I'm the kind of person who can usually read anywhere. I sometimes read in the car if I'm early for uni and sat in the car park, or in the cafe at uni between lectures, sometimes I've even read in a lecture before (oops). But without doubt my favourite place to read is at home, in my bed. 

The first thing I do is fluff up all my pillows (my boyfriend may say too many pillows) and sort out my little reading corner. My favourite pillows have to be my ACOMAF themed ones from Evie SEO. They're so cute, super good quality and how could I resist anything that's related to my favourite series?

We've been having some unusually good weather here in Manchester recently, so I've been loving having the curtains pulled back and the window open, letting in all that good sunshine and fresh air. However in the winter, I much prefer the dark and snuggly aesthetic, with just my bedside lamp on, covered in a heap of blankets.
While this is usually the part where people say "and then I brew a strong and sweet cup of tea in my favourite mug", that's just not me. I actually think it'd result in me scalding myself while reading! I do however have some water or sugar free juice (because I'm actually seven years old) and occasionally a snack or two, typically a chocolate digestive.

While I can read in total silence, I often like to listen to some music or have the television on in the background as sometimes I find that the silence can be a bit intimidating if I'm trying to get into a particularly difficult book. I usually find a playlist on Spotify, either like a soft jazz or acoustic playlist and play that on my phone or laptop. I've been really getting back into listening to music recently. 

One of my favourite things to do when I wake up in a morning is to stick on my own "Miracle Morning" playlist and sing and dance along while I get ready to start my day. Because of this I've been looking into investing in some new equipment, like these Panasonic Wireless Speakers*. My dad's always been into his tech, especially surround sound equipment and televisions, so I know that sometimes spending a little more does result in better quality and longer lasting gadgets! I'll definitely be adding these to my wishlist, and 'cause they're bluetooth I'll be able to sing along in the shower even better.

So I've chosen my book, sorted out my space, got myself some refreshments and chosen my music. Now it's time to sit back, get comfy and cosy and get lost in another great book. Recently I've been really loving reading self help and personal development books again as I want to work on being my better self and just becoming a happier and more positive person. I've got a self help TBR coming up very soon so make sure to check that out if you want any book inspo! 


*This post has been sponsored by Panasonic.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

LAINI TAYLOR BOOK SIGNING: STRANGE THE DREAMER

First of all, please accept my apologies for the terrible quality photos in this post. But at the same time, I'm kind of not sorry because this was a totally awesome day! So last week I attended a very exciting book signing at Waterstones in Liverpool: Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor! Despite having read none of Laini's books when I bought this ticket, I already couldn't wait to meet her because I'd heard such wonderful things. I promptly ordered the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and eagerly awaited the arrival of Strange The Dreamer which arrived in March's FairyLoot box (unboxing here)!
Admittedly, at the time of the event I was only halfway through the trilogy and a hundred pages into Strange the Dreamer thanks to working none stop on uni assignments, but I was already so in love with Laini's writing that I knew her books would creep up my favourites list.

I made my way to Liverpool with the lovely Lauren (Northern Plunder) and Beth (I Am Book Mad) who I met at the Caraval book signing, along with Bec (Two Book Thieves) who I met for the first time at the event. Despite having only met once or for the very first time, I had such a lovely time with the girls. We chatted about all sorts and I felt as if I'd known them much longer!

The event itself was amazing, just as I'd anticipated. Laini told us how Strange the Dreamer had initially been The Muse of Nightmares, a story told from Sarai's point of view, but how after writing a certain falling book scene featuring Laszlo, it quickly became his tale. Don't worry though! Laini did let it slip that the second instalment in this duology will indeed be called The Muse of Nightmares and hinted that it might be published next year.

The interview was thoughtful and funny, and Laini was a totally down to earth and funny individual, though I did still suffer the whole "omg I'm meeting an author whose books I really love and what the hell do I talk about" scenario. I actually made stupid small talk about the weather with Laini Taylor, yup. To make matters a little less embarrassing and a little more cool, Laini actually recognised me from Twitter as I'd tweeted her earlier that day! We also received two beautiful golden moth transfer tattoos, and I can't help but think what a stunning real tattoo it would make...
I had such a great day getting to know the girls over pizza and books, and then meeting the wonderful Laini Taylor! I've been reading Strange The Dreamer at every opportunity I've had and it's glorious. I'm trying to take my time and savour the book due to Laini's beautiful writing style but I'm finding that quite hard, I need to know what happens!





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Monday, 27 March 2017

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: MARCH 2017

 While I started 2017 off with two really great reading months, I slowed down a little in March, reading a total of three books. I'm happy with that though, considering that I handed in my dissertation this month too! *internally screams*


The first book that I read in March was The Mime Order, the second book in The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon. I read The Bone Season last month and absolutely loved it; I can't believe that I waited so long to read this series! So I can't really go into too much detail plot wise as I would hate to ruin the story for you, but the second instalment in this series is just as action packed, tense and exciting, if not more, as the first. I was never bored and actually found myself reading The Mime Order during any spare time I had (it was actually a life saver during breaks between lectures). Just like with The Bone Season, when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it, and I finished the book within a matter of days. This series has bumped it's way up my favourites list and I can't wait to read the rest! 4/5 stars.

Surprise surprise, the next book I read in March was The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon. My immediate response after finishing this book was "Holy shit!" so I think that sums up my feelings pretty well. I went to the book signing for this release at my local Waterstones (you can read about it here) and had all of my books signed by Samantha Shannon, it was such a fab night! I really made an effort to slow my reading down with this book, as I knew that once I'd finished this it'd be a long wait until the fourth instalment and I wasn't ready for that. But, as you may guess, I failed miserably.

This book was so incredibly good that I just couldn't help but devour it page by page. We get to explore more of the UK, heading to places like Manchester and Edinburgh. I really loved this, especially as I live in Manchester myself and am a quarter Scottish (is that even a thing? Well my Grandad is from Glasgow ok) so I found it really interesting to read about these cities in one of my favourite series. The characters go through some seriously harrowing stuff in this book, and I've really grown quite attached to them, so I found this pretty hard to read, but overall The Song Rising was amazing. It brought out so many different emotions and feelings: excitement, worry, panic, sadness, happiness, warmth and tension to name but a few. Once again, this was a really well thought out plot, with superb writing skills and excellent world building from Samantha Shannon. A definite 5/5 stars!

In March I finally delved into the wonderful world of Laini Taylor through the first book in the trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I'd heard such great things about the series but never got around to reading it, until I saw that Laini was coming to Waterstones in Liverpool this month to celebrate the release of her new novel, Strange the Dreamer! I knew before even reading the books that I would love them after reading all of the reviews, so I booked my tickets to the book signing and ordered this book.

The writing was absolutely magical; it was unlike anything I've read before and I found myself completely swept up in the story and a little in awe of Laini's incredible talent. While I did find the plot a little slow in parts, I felt that the pace really helped with the world building and development of the story and I was hooked throughout, desperate to know what was going to happen next. For a change, I really loved each of the characters. Apart from the obvious (you know, living between our world and another) Karou is totally normal and relatable. She could just be that girl with the crazy cool blue hair in one of your lectures at uni, but underneath she is strong, and sassy and actually really brave. And Akiva, ah, well. Akiva made me all sorts of emotional. After all the loss and torture he has been through, he remains loyal, and hopeful and most of all, good. The romance between the two was definitely "swoon worthy" as much as I hate to use that phrase; no insta-love as such, though I did guess the link between the two of them before it was revealed. It didn't lessen the heartbreak any, though!

Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone has me lusting to visit Prague so bad, it sounds amazing! As soon as I finished this book, I ordered the second, Days of Blood and Starlight. I mean technically I am on a book buying ban for lent, but if I'm meeting the author I really should have read her books, right? I got my hands on Strange the Dreamer yesterday and I'm so excited to read it. It's such a beautiful book and I wouldn't be surprised if it made an appearance in next month's TBR!


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Friday, 17 March 2017

MINI WATERSTONES BOOK HAUL

Back in February, for Valentine's Day, my boyfriend bought me a Waterstones gift card. We'd agreed no presents (which I stuck to apart from a large bag of Magic Stars, oops), and I was feeling a bit emotional, and he just knows me so well that I let out a huge sob. Anyway, I thought I'd share the books that I bought with the gift card! It seems that I had a bit of a thing for red books this month...
After finishing The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon in February (check out my wrap up here), I just had to get my hands on The Mime Order, the second book in the series. I ordered the book online, and with choosing First Class delivery it arrived the next morning! I was super impressed. It did cost more than had I ordered it on Amazon, but I've been finding out more about how Amazon really aren't that cool recently, so I'm going to try and shop more in bookstores where I can. 

This weekend I visited one of my local Waterstones stores and spent a good while browsing the store. My boyfriend George waited patiently as I scoured each shelf, even rearranging some of the books, and dutifully "uhmmed" and "ahhhed" as I pointed out various books and authors. The second book I bought was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. So I haven't read any of Laini's books, but I've heard such great things about her books, this in particular, that when I saw it on the shelf I couldn't resist (I do also have Strange The Dreamer on pre-order).

The last book I bought from Waterstones is A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, the third in the Shades of Magic trilogy. Funny story, I haven't actually read the first two in the series... BUT, I do have the e-books on Kindle, and after reading all the rave reviews of the series I think I'm kind of guaranteed to love it, so I couldn't leave ACOL in the store! 

Also, major bonus surprise at the till. Both books were included in a offer so they ended up costing less than anticipated! It's the little things, hey? I've already read both The Mime Order and Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I'll be including those in my wrap up at the end of the month!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

SAMANTHA SHANNON BOOK SIGNING: THE SONG RISING

Earlier this week, on Wednesday night, I made my way to my local Waterstones on Deansgate in Manchester, for a very exciting event: a book signing for The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon! I attended one for Caraval by Stephanie Garber a few weeks back (which you can read about here) so I was very much looking forward to this as I knew how awesome these signings were! I started reading The Bone Season series last month, and it very quickly made it's way up my favourite book series list. I was about 50% of the way through The Song Rising the day of the event, which was only a day after the book was released, so that's testament to how much I was enjoying it.
Samantha's discussion was both insightful and inspiring; I loved learning about the history of her writing, how she developed ideas for the series and even a couple of personal things. 

I really like the fact that she draws on a lot of real world issues and events, and these influence her writing. For example, the way that the Salem Witch Trials were conducted and the idea of "unnaturalness", with those that are "different" being persecuted. 

While The Bone Season series could be considered dystopian, the fact that the world is actually quite progressive is quite contradictory. For example, Samantha clearly explained that there is no sexism or homophobia in her books. Her characters see people as just that, people. Not man, woman, gay, straight or bisexual for example. For a world that is so damaging in some ways, is actually more developed than ours in others. The idea of mass hysteria interests Samantha too, which is clearly reflected in the way that certain groups react within The Bone Season series, and again is quite prevalent to today's society.

Samantha began writing in her teens, around the age of 12 or 13, and started to write her first novel, Aurora at 15 (Samantha described this as Twilight with aliens)! While this story wasn't picked up by an agent, Warden was actually created first for this story and then adapted for The Bone Season. Apparently Warden was quite dark and brooding in Aurora, with the story revolving a lot around the "swooning" between him and his human lover. 

Speaking of which, Paige and Warden's relationship was somewhat inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast, particularly how the Beast never really tells Belle what's really going on, when actually by doing that he'd have made things much simpler! Samantha also said that she drew inspiration from V for Vendetta (one of her favourite films) and the character of Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre.

While Aurora was unfortunately rejected, Samantha did receive feedback from one agent, and it was on her trip to this agency that she came across the area of Seven Dials for the first time. The New Age shops in the area helped Samantha to develop the idea of a secret society of clairvoyants in a not-too-distant future London, and so began The Bone Season.

I also found out that the film rights for The Bone Season have also been bought by The Imaginarium Studios, which is ran by actor Andy Serkis. I'm so so so excited for this, but I really do hope that they do the books justice!
I had such a great time at this event, and even got to have a chat with Samantha while she signed the books I had brought with me. It's such a pleasure to meet the authors of my favourite books, and so I encourage anybody that's thinking about going to a signing to just do it! You won't regret it. Keep up with any events at your local Waterstones here*. 



*Not sponsored or paid for, I just love bookish events!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

REVIEW: THE ROANOKE GIRLS BY AMY ENGEL

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel is a book that I'd seen a lot of buzz about on social media, and so when the opportunity arose for me to be sent a proof copy (thank you Hodder Books!), you better believe I said yes.

From the cover:


Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there's a dark truth about them which is never spoken. 

Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents' estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing - and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?


Thoughts:

First, of all, wow. This book had me gripped from the beginning; I read 30 pages the first day and the only reason I stopped was because I had to go out. The day after (yesterday as I'm writing this), I found myself saying "just 10 more minutes of reading"... until I'd finished the entire thing.

This book deals with some pretty dark and heavy themes, and certainly could include triggers for some people so I would recommend maybe reading a few reviews online which go into this further. as I don't want to reveal the main theme of the book here.

I really can't go into the actual story much without giving away huge spoilers, but I can say that the main themes are pretty easy to work out early on in the book (pretty much spelled out for you in the first quarter of the book), while the main "whodunnit" totally shocked me. This is testament to how well written and full of suspense The Roanoke Girls is; usually I'd be attempting to pick holes in the story line while trying to figure out who did what, but this time I was far too engrossed to even bother. There were parts of this book where I felt uncomfortable and disgusted, but my main feeling was sorrow. The Roanoke Girls seem to have it all, but at what price? 

The Roanoke Girls covers two periods in our protagonist Lane's life. Written in first person, we start with Lane at 16 years old when she first visits Roanoke, and discover the awful events that unfold the summer that she stays there, and eleven years later when Lane returns to help find her missing cousin Allegra. The book is also peppered with snippets from the other Roanoke girl's stories, which only added to the overall feeling of unease.

Lane sometimes confused me; don't get me wrong, I really liked her but in some parts of the story I found her actions very out of character, as if they'd been slotted in to help fuel the story with no thought as to how it would tie in with how we have previously seen her act. Despite this, I still loved how the characters were written. They all just worked. Even though some of the characters were truly terrible, they seemed completely three dimensional, and I felt as though I could picture them in every single scene.

I put this book down after finishing it feeling quite odd; had I really just enjoyed a book about something so evil? I had, but this book definitely isn't for everyone. If you like dark, deep and twisted stories about dysfunctional (to say the least!) families, then I would highly recommend The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel, released today.