Thursday, July 19

Series That Are Kinda All Over The Place, But I Love Them Still

Book series are simultaneously one of the best and worst things in my life. Why, you may wonder. Well, here's why.

On the positive, more of my favorite characters and worlds (etc.) is always a blessing. However, series can go downhill so fast your head will be spinning like so:

... and that ain't a good feeling, my friends. I'd know, this post is all about being conflicted over series, and wow, did putting these contradictory feelings down made dizzy. 

For ease of reading, you'll find 'the bad' and 'the good' of each series divided from each other - may you have fun embarking on this ridiculous journey with me. 

Tuesday, July 17

Bite Sized Fiction: Our Favorite Short Stories and Novellas

Short stories and novellas are my saviors when it comes to getting out of a reading slump. I mean, when you're in a slump, is there anything better than a story that gets to the point incredibly fast and is easy to get through? I don't think so. 

Today, Clare and I have brought you 5-5 of our favorite short stories and novellas, hoping to give you some quality recommendations. Have fun browsing through our lists! 

Saturday, July 14

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Spellbook of the Lost and FoundOne stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.
Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses - and holding tight to secrets.
When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

Thursday, July 12

Helpful Nudges Towards the Right Direction in Looking After Your Mental Health by Alice James & Louie Stowell

We talk about our physical health - but not so much about how we’re feeling. With lots of practical advice, this lively, accessible guide explains why we have emotions, and what can influence them. Covering everything from friendships, social media and bullying to divorce, depression and eating disorders, this is an essential book for young people.

Received in exchange for an honest review from Usborne Publishing UK.

Looking After Your Mental Health drew me in with it's promise of tackling serious topics in a not-so-serious way, and I was not surprised to see it delivered what it set out to. If I were to list what exactly had it going for this book, I'd say- 

Saturday, July 7

MY PLAIN JANE: A Disappointing Sequel To One Of My All Time Faves

“You’re definitely not coming with us,” Alexander said. “Not a chance.”
Reader, Miss Brontë definitely went with them.

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

I've just finished reading My Plain Jane, and boi, I have some conflicted thoughts to share. At the moment, I haven't yet decided how to rate it - to help myself out & give you a more logical, easier to read post, I'm going to list the pros and cons of the novel separately. 

Thursday, July 5

The Beach Read We All Deserve - Alex, Approximiately by Jenn Bennet

Alex, Approximately

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Tuesday, July 3

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out

We love books. We freak out about them all. the. damn. time, thus Clare and I decided that the The Mid-Year Book Freak Out was created for us. #dontargue

For those who don't know what this is - it was designed for readers who want to showcase the best and worst of their reads, as well as their TBRs for the following half year. Warning - we went so overboard, mentioning multiple books in each category, so hopefully, you'll find some recs here. 

Monday, July 2

New YA Releases That Have Us Bewitched

Well, hello there. Look at us marching into the second half of 2018 already! I won't mourn on this rapid passing of time but...can you believe we're closer to 2019 than we are to 2017? Wild. As is the norm, though, we are here to distract you with all the books we'll be blessed with this quarter of the year so without further ado- here are the YA releases of July, August and September we're the most stoked for!

Saturday, June 30

June Recap | a.k.a. All the Books, Movies & Shows We Ate This Month

Woah, I feel like June has just started, and now it's already over!? What the hell is up with that. To be fair, I was mostly lazing around the house relaxing at home after my last exam of the semester, so that probably explains why time seemed to fly by. But shh, don't berate that from me.

One thing that does showcase the passing of time is how many books I've read, because wow, I'm proud - but also slightly worried - for myself, as I've managed to eat 20 books. TWENTY. BOOKS. I'm... shocked. 

Anyhow, enough about me, because this post is not just mine - it is also Clare's debut in a TRC recap (!!!) which is full of books (duh), with some movies, tv shows & bookish news thrown into the mix. We worked TONS on this, so I'm super-excited to see what y'all think! 

Thursday, June 28

Ancient Myths, Talking Leverets and a City on the Brink of Danger - The Wild Folk by Sylvia V. Linsteadt

When the Star-Priest Brotherhood from the City threaten to ravage and destroy the land of the Wild Folk, their only hope rests with two young hares and their human companions – Tin, an orphan City boy with a passion for invention, and curious Country girl Comfrey. In this magical quest, to protect the precious stargold that runs through the land, Tin and Comfrey must complete seemingly impossible tasks set by the mysterious and terrifying Wild Folk - each stranger than the last - to find the one who holds the secret to saving their world.

The Wild Folk is a timeless adventure, weaving fantasy and folk lore into an enchanting tale that will fill you with wonder. The first in a duology, with a dash of Ursula Le Guin, a pinch of Frances Hardinge, and a generous helping from C.S. Lewis, this is a future classic, filled with unforgettable and diverse characters, and a story to be read time and again.

Tuesday, June 26

Ten Series We Want to Binge-Read

The original topic for this week was Series We've Given Up On/Don't Plan to Finish. This didn't work for me because I am a notorious binge-reader - so I'm dragging Vera into binge-reading with me and looking at the series we most want to marathon! Because why suffer through cliff-hangers and long waits for the next book when you could just binge the entire series at once? 

(We're completing this topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl)

Saturday, June 23

{Discussion Review} A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music - because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

Thrilling and powerfully written, this is an explosive debut for YA readers which tackles the dark topic of domestic abuse in an ultimately hopeful tale.

Hello friends. Ever since its announcement, Clare and I have both been excited for A Thousand Perfect Notes, aka a fellow blogger's debut! So, really, it was no question that we would buddy read it, and to share part of that experience with you and make this review more interesting - we're discussing it, instead of writing about it individually. Hope you'll enjoy this at least half as much as we enjoyed making it. :)

Thursday, June 21

All the Action and Dinosaurs for the Adrenaline Junkie in You in Exile (The Extinction Trials #2) by S.M. Wilson

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival. Welcome to The Extinction Trials.

After surviving on Piloria once, Storm and Lincoln are the obvious candidates to return to the dinosaur continent to test the new virus that should clear the way for human settlement. But they have their own priorities – finding a cure for the plague that’s sweeping Earthasia, and keeping themselves alive.

Received in exchange for an honest review from Usborne Publishing UK.

Exile, the sequel to Extinction Trials, follows Stormchaser and Lincoln as they're faced with newer challenges and hurdles in pursuit of their individual goals. While the first book left things on uncertain terms between the characters, the second book takes off with us seeing how each character is faring with the aftermath of their stay (and subsequent victory) in Piloria, the continent of dinosaurs. Does the book do justice to what the first book lead up to? Do we see more in terms of character growth in each lead? Do we have enough dinosaurs and action in this latest installment of the Extinction Trials? Does the romance amount to anything? 

Tuesday, June 19

Books We Will (Hopefully?) Read This Summer

Isn't it fun to make a list you know you're never going to complete? Cuz I sure as hell seem to think. See, any time I make one of these seasonal (or monthly) to-read lists I fail them. Spectacularly so. 

These ain't working for me. If anything, they seem to jinx my excitement for the novels I list, and more often than not, I end up not only not reading the featured titles, but also lose interest in them completely. 

YET, HERE I AM TRYING AGAIN. #killme But this time, I also have Clare listing her titles, which... nearly sounds like a competition to me? I'm a very competitive person so just comparing the amount she finished by the end summer with mine *might* spur me on. WE SHALL SEE. 

(We're completing this topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl)

Saturday, June 16

Summer Recs #2: Romance Novels to Melt Your Heart

Hello friends! As you might have seen last week, I decided to dedicate my three June-posts to thematic recommendations. My first list concentrated on thriller, mystery and horror novels (see it here), while today's is all about ROMANCE NOVELS. 

To clarify, that means that the romance is, in fact, the most important part of all the books I'll list down below. HOWEVER, in most cases there are other equally significant topics broached - from self-confidence, through following your dreams to killing the bad guys... you'll find a pretty solid selection of books here. 

Thursday, June 14

I Don't Know How I Feel About The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.

Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?

Tuesday, June 12

Books We Wish We Had DNF-ed

Hello friends! Isn't it positively infuriating when you pick up a book, all excited and hopeful... only to be severely disappointed by it? It is one thing if put it down, mark it did-not-finish, and quickly get on with your life. If you frequently do this? Well, congrats, you're awesome, and I'm hella jealous, because DNF-ing is hard as hell for me. 

Usually, what I do is power through a book, no matter how much I'm hating it, looking for redeeming qualities and hoping it'll get better... I mean, it has to, right? RIGHT? Well, sometimes it doesn't. Today, Clare and I brought you 5-5 novels we badly disliked, and wish we had DNF-ed. 

Yes, this is last week's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) topic, but shhh.

Saturday, June 9

Summer Recs #1: Thrillers and Mysteries To Get Your Heart Racing

Hello friends! Knowing that the summer is that part of the year when many readers have ample time to read - either because of being on break, or because of going on a vacation - I've decided to bring you something special this June. Drumrolls, please!

A three part series where I'll share a variety of book recommendations with you!

To make navigating this list - it ain't that long, don't worry - easier & more comfortable for you, I included some bullet-points about the books. In these, you'll find the age-group these are aimed at, the sub-genres and basic information about the novels. Moreover, the book covers lead to the books' Goodreads page, so you can flood your TBR list pretty fast. 

I really hope you'll enjoy this little snippet into the land of my favorite novels! 

Thursday, June 7

On Why I Haven't Been Reading As Much As I Should and K-dramas That Have Taken Over My Life

I hereby declare I'm out of my reading slump. 

I've been in various slumps on and off for the past year and reading has been the most worrying of it all, so colour me extremely excited to find myself capable of picking up a book and staying invested in it for two hour straight. 

However, in a worrying turn of events, I've come to realize that slump or not, I'm unable to actually read unless I know for a fact that I can read at leisure, that I'm in the right head-space for reading, that I'm not flooded with things to be done immediately, and therefore, I don't actually pick up a book unless I see myself spending at least 30 mins on it at a stretch. 

Uni has been tiring, to say the least, and the coming months only prove to be more hectic with deadlines looming up and it's Ramadan which means I have less time for myself AND I'm constantly tired. Stress + Me is definitely not the recipe for reading. Add physical books and ARCs to the equation and reading is pretty much out of the question because I don't read physical books at night (and I'm not into e-books at the moment), and review copies mean I need to be doubly conscious about how I feel about anything related to the book, so yeah. ISSA DILEMMA. 

I still am very much capable of feeling excited about books, hoarding them, picking them up and fondly stroking them but I really am not reading as much as I should.

Thursday, May 31

Love, Hate and Other Deceptive Filters in This Debut by Samira Ahmed

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacquelyn Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a "suitable" Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City--and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she's only known from afar. There's the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya's last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

I hated this book with a passion. It may seem like a strong statement to make, but I really did. Or maybe I was just too disappointed? Either way, this is a book I'd rather never have anything to do with again and let's see why, shall we? 

Tuesday, May 29

Bookish Worlds We'd *Never* Want To Live In

Hello, friends! One of the reasons why I adore reading so darn much is that books have the power to take readers to gorgeous and magical places - most of which I'd love to visit in real life. However, there are certainly some dark, vicious and creepy as fuck worlds out there that neither Clare, nor I would like to go near. Ever. Today, we brought you ten of these.

Saturday, May 26

The Books That Made Me a Reader

I have so many life-changing, mind-changing books on my shelves that I love (and definitely want to talk about sometime) but today I wanted to have a look at the books that made me a reader - and so brought me to this wonderful community. Reading is such a huge part of my life and it's so strange to think of all the times where it hinged on reading one book at the exact right time! 

Thursday, May 24

When 'The Little Mermaid" Becomes Vicious and Cunning: TO KILL A KINGDOM

"I have a heart for every year I've been alive. There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they're still there. Buried deep and bloody.""

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Tuesday, May 22

Characters Worthy of Naming Our Pets After

Hello friends! After a few weeks long break, Clare and I are finally back with a Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) post!! Neither of us is particularly fond of children, so we altered the topic a tad bit, and are going to be naming our imaginary future pets today. 

FAIR WARNING - this post contains a ridiculous amount of cuteness, because we'll always say YES to gifs.

Saturday, May 19

Posters, Sashes and All the Women's Rights Campaigns in Girls for the Vote by Linda Newbery

When thirteen-year-old Polly befriends two suffragettes in the top floor flat at 6 Chelsea Walk, she finds herself questioning the views of those around her. The Votes for Women campaign strikes a chord with Polly and she becomes determined to join the suffragettes' protest march, even if it means clashing with her family... 

A perfect blend of history and story-telling, illuminating women’s place in history and introducing this to today’s readers.

Received in exchange for an honest review from Usborne Publishing UK.

Girls for the Vote follows 13-year-old Polly as she finds herself dragged into a flurry of posters, sashes and women's rights campaigns when her best friend and neighbour, Lily, moves away and two suffragettes (or rather, a suffragette and a suffragist) move in to her apartment instead. Edwina and Violet are the two young women who are fighting for suffrage, among many, many others, and it is through them that Polly begins to see a world of new opportunities. A world where she gets just the same opportunities as mean Maurice downstairs.

"Lily who had recently been to her cousin's wedding, had told Polly that in the marriage service, the bride had to promise to obey her husband. That meant doing whatever he told you, the way Mama always did what Papa said. Really, you might as well stay on at school, if someone was to carry on telling you what to do and not do."

Thursday, May 17

Unattractive Covers That Hide Some of My Favorite Books

I am HUGELY into covers, okay?? I know it is awful, I know it, but a book that has pretty cover is something I'll 10000% buy before I get one with a bad cover. *hides* Sure, if I'm super-interested in a book I won't care about the cover one bit, BUT when something pokes my interest for the very first time? The cover MATTERS - less so for self-published books than others, but I am turned off by awful covers in most cases. 

However, today I'm here to share some of my FAVORITE books that I picked up despite disliking their covers, and I never regretted that decisions. Who knows? Maybe you'll find your next favorite here. ;)

On a side note, this post is obviously 1000% subjective!! I don't like these covers, but that doesn't mean y'all can't find them appealing. Also, I'm in NO WAY trying to be shady towards these books or their authors - I LOVE THEM, for gods sake. But, as someone who's into pretty covers, I thought it'd be superb to make a post that showcases that the quality of the book is NOT in parallel with the cover! 

Saturday, May 12

Eurovision Book Tag

Last year Vera and I created The Eurovision Book Tag which I am super proud of! And this year Eurovision just so happens to fall on the same day as Pride - so as  you're reading this I am having the time of my life at Pride in Exeter! And I wanted to combine these two things so here is our Eurovision Book Tag with only LGBTQ answers to the questions! 

Thursday, May 10

Royal Rantings - Resisting the Hype

One of the biggest...afflictions I see in this community is the hype, oh my God, the hype. It's omnipresent, whichever way you turn. Whether it's a new book coming out or a new cover for an older book. Whether it's an unnecessary addition to a series or a much-awaited sequel. A prequel, a novella, a spin-off. Diverse, ownvoices, neither of these. Hardcover, paperback, painted fore edges, stained edges. Collector's editions, anniversary editions, special editions. Books, books, and yet more books, and being part of the bookish community means you're attacked by the hype from all around you.

Saturday, May 5

Tropes I Can't Help But Adore In Books + Recs for All of Them!

Hello friends. After how much I enjoyed writing a post about things I didn't like in books (you can see it here) I decided to compensate for all that negativity and share some of my favorite tropes, themes and such with y'all today. And, let me tell you, this post turned out QUITE COOL, with lost of awesome recommendations, so wow, I cannot wait for you to see it! So, without further ado, let's get right into the bestest tropes there are + some amazing recs. 

Thursday, May 3

Trying Out New Things: Mini Reviews of Two Graphic Novels

The Adventures of John Blake: 

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship
Trapped in the mists of time by a terrible research experiment gone wrong, John Blake and his mysterious ship are doomed to sail between the centuries, searching for a way home. In the ocean of the modern day, John rescues a shipwrecked young girl his own age, Serena, and promises to help.

But returning Serena to her own time means traveling to the one place where the ship is in most danger of destruction. The all-powerful Dahlberg Corporation has an ambitious leader with plans far greater and more terrible than anyone has realized, and he is hot on their trail. For only John, Serena, and the crew know Dahlberg's true intentions, and only they have the power to stop him from bending the world to his will...

This was a must read for me purely because it's Philip Pullman. I've only read one graphic novel before (Nimona by Noelle Stevenson) and whilst I loved it, it's proven a hard medium for me to get into. 
The art style in this was completely my style. It was very clear and beautiful but also simple and I think it suited the characters and the story extremely well. I especially loved the use of colours which made the book feel like the sort of thing child-Clare would have been crazy about (meaning fun and easy). 
The story was less my thing but still a lot of fun to read. I'm never a big fan of time travel (I just can't wrap my tiny brain around it ever). And the concept of a ship full of people from various time periods all trying to get to various other time periods and passing through our time on their way to go maybe backwards or forwards - I just got lost as you can probably tell from that very confusing explanation. To be fair I don't think this was the fault of the book and I kinda loved that one of the main characters was about as confused as I was.
This isn't my favourite Philip Pullman story but I did enjoy it and would definitely recommend it if you've got any reluctant middle-grade readers. I will be passing it on to my younger brother who rarely reads because it seems like something he would enjoy anyway.

Dragon Age: Knight Errant

Dragon Age: Knight Errant
Vaea, an elven squire, and her knight, the drunken Ser Aaron Hawthorne, arrive in Kirkwall just in time for Varric Tethras' appointment as Viscount. A talented thief, Vaea skips the party to take on an easy job recovering a hidden lock box . . . but when she chooses to change the terms of the deal mid-heist, she is entangled in a dangerous mission that is surely above her pay grade.

So the obvious first thing to address here is - will this story be of any interest to people who have never played any of the Dragon Age games. And the answer is a little of both (sorry that's not helpful). The story itself follows a new main character and a new plot. And the fantasy world and action are intriguing enough to draw anyone in. However I'm not sure the story did a good enough job with the lore for unfamiliar readers to fully immerse themselves in the story. 
In addition to this there are many cameos from favourite (and less favourite) characters who receive little to no introduction. Knight Errant very much works on the assumption that you've played the game and that's why you're reading the story. Which is great for fans - not so great for anyone who picks up this book for the gorgeous artwork.
That said, if you are a fan then I highly recommend this. The art is so, so beautiful; the cameos are variously funny and intriguing; the story is canon and its going to be a while till the next game so... anything to tide me over?

Both of these novels have reminded me of why I want to get into graphic novels (pretty pretty art) so if you have any recommendations for me please do let me know what are some of your favourites!!