Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish.

1 - Love triangles 
These are the bane of my reading existence. I believe that you cannot be in love with more than one person at a time; love yes but in love? No. So when Bella is confused over Edward and Jacob, I want to slap her upside the head. 

2 - Complicated magical worlds 
Sometimes they work and I love them but if I don't get invested or have a basic understanding early on, I can't be bothered. Case in point: Kate Daniel's Magic Bites series, gave up after 20 pages because there was so many creatures and magic rules set out that I lost track.

3 - Sports
I don't do sports. Not in real life, not in reading. My idea of exercise is holding the book above my head, so I don't really want to read about football teams, cheer-leading or rugby. The one exception being Wing Jones, which was amazing and I loved it.

4 - Motorcycle gangs 
Read one, from one of my favourite authors, and the sexism hurt. Not sure I want to try another.

5 - Mary-Sue protagonists 
You know the ones, the ones that whine, that complain about boys, think there are plain looking but are never short of dates. This is the reason I only lasted 13 pages into the Vampire Diaries because Elena was bloody awful.

6 - Instalove
You can't be in love with that guy, you literally bumped into him ten minutes ago! Stop swooning about his eyes or his hair or his arms and actually talk to him, you nutcase! 

7 - Psychological thrillers
I can read these but definitely not often, they creep the bejesus out of me! Also, is it better or worse knowing that there's a twist coming?

8 - Violence
Not completely, I love a good stabby book about assassins as much as the next person, but violence for violence's sake? No thanks, that's just mean and gruesome. 

I think that's actually it! I'm sure there are more but these are the general ones. Please let me know if you share any of these turn offs or if there are any you would have added. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

WindfallAlice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

When Alice buys her best friend a lottery ticket for his birthday, the last thing they expect to happen is for it to win. But it does and all of a sudden, Teddy has a fortune. I absolutely adore Smith's books, they are simply beautiful but with hidden depths. And in this case, it was all about the happiness that money can't buy.

Alice is still dealing with the death of her parents when she was little, still coming to terms with her definition of "orphan", and now that she's 18, she's not sure whether to follow her parents' dream of Stanford or her own heart. Alice was taken in by her dad's brother and his family, growing up alongside Leo, her cousin. They and Teddy are an inseparable trio. 

Teddy has also had his share of bad luck: his dad liked to gamble and after he lost too much, he left Teddy and his mum with his debt and unable to afford their apartment. Teddy has always been self-conscious of his background so when he literally hits the jackpot, he (understandably) goes a little nuts buying all the things he's always wanted, from a sports car to a pinball machine. 

Like I said, Smith's stories tend to have hidden depths and the happiness that comes from winning the lottery is soon tainted when Teddy isn't doing anything responsible with it, at least in Alice's opinion. Things are complicated with the fact that Alice has a huge crush on Teddy but the money has created a wedge between them. I really liked seeing how things progressed, from Teddy going through the five stages of shopping, to Alice coming to grips with her identity of the girl with the dead parents. 

Luck mingled with fate, happiness with charity, money with gambling, everything interlinked and it took time and some serious maturity for things to finally settle down between Teddy, Alice and Leo. All in all, a surprisingly heart-warming story about responsibility, to your family and yourself, and love before material things. 

Published 4th May 2017 by Pan Macmillan. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I didn't do the original post from 2014 so I'm being boring and sticking to the basics. So here is my list of the most unique books I've read, be it in format, characters or plot. 

1 - Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Written in different formats, from IM's to transcripts, this is one of my favourite books of all time and it is definitely unique in its story-telling and incredible plot.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder2 - The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Every character is diverse in some way: Molly has anxiety, her twin sister is gay, their parents are gay, the love interest is a Jewish nerd - ok so that's not the best example but still! It has the most amazingly eclectic cast and all of them were brilliant. 

3 - A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Not only is it an amazingly realistic teenage love story, it's also all about communication because Rhys is deaf and Steffi has selective mutism so they talk through sign language.

4 - The Next Together by Lauren James
This is simultaneously about time travel and reincarnation as Katherine and Matthew are reborn across the centuries to fall in love and make the world a better place. Another one of my favourite love stories, as well as really clever use of different time periods, history, and multiple perspectives. 

5 - Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
A graphic novel written from the perspective of the bad guy? I am all over this one! Clever, funny and beautiful illustrations.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter (The Sin Eater’s Daughter, #1)6 - Seed by Lisa Heathfield
It's set in a cult. A cult! How wonderful and creepy it is to live in a cult but not knowing until Pearl meets Ellis, a boy from the outside.

7 - The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
I haven't found another book that writes fairy tale-type stories like this. It is beautifully dark and scary and the bad guy makes my skin crawl, but the world building and characters are just incredible.

One8 - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 
Narrated by Death, we see Liesel, the book thief, grow up in Nazi Germany. Everyone should know this book, it is amazing and sad and so cleverly written.

9 - One by Sarah Crossan
Written in verse, this tells of conjoined twins as they grow up and have to deal with bullying, prejudices and medical bills.

10 - Girl Up by Laura Bates
Partly handbook on how to grow up female, partly feminist manifesto on how much it sucks sometimes to grow up female. But all brilliant writing, funny anecdotes and lovely drawings of dancing vaginas. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Into The Fire by Jeaniene Frost

Into the Fire (Night Prince, #4)In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

The Night Prince book four very much felt like a finale, the story was all about wrapping things up and lying lose ends. For our power couple, it meant that the hunt for Mircea now has a extra desperate edge: he himself has been kidnapped by necromancers and is being used to test Vlad's love for Leila.

Ian, the lovable rogue, is roped into helping Vlad and Leila navigate the magical underworld, which included some experiments with glamours and magical disguises. Those were hilarious, and there was even a little Buffy reference sneaked in there, which made me very happy. 

On this "magical journey", we learnt some real details about the origin of Leila's powers, which was pretty damn cool. Leila and her sister go to the reservation they used to live on before their mother died and discover some familial traits that come from the Cherokee part of their bloodline. I would have loved more details but we got the information necessary to whoop some Mircea butt.

As much as I loved it, and all of Frost's books, I did have some minor issues with it - the drama wasn't all there, the sexiness was definitely absent - but it was still funny, clever, dramatic and full of great vampire and/or magical characters. And it actually felt like a happy ending, even though parts were rushed or brushed off. Vlad might not have completely learned his lesson about keeping secrets from his wife, and Leila is still getting over some serious PTSD, but the worst is finally over and they can be a normal couple - well, as much as they can be.

Published 28th February 2017 by Avon.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Top Ten Merch for a Harry Potter Fan

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

The theme this week is a fandom freebie and I've decided to use it to highlight some of the (great) Harry Potter merchandise I've got along with some I desperately want. P.S - in creating this post, I went through my box of HP stuff and remembered how much of a nerd I was, I badgered my parents to buy me anything and everything HP related! You'll see.

1 - Pop Vinyls

I adore Pops, they are so damn cute and I have a growing collection. But my HP one's sit proudly on my HP shelf (yes, I have one of those), where I have Harry in Quidditch gear as well as Ron, Hermione and Luna. I desperately want Draco Malfoy and Hagrid.

2 - Jewellery 

The obvious ones for any HP fan is the Deathly Hallows necklace and the Time Turner, of which I now have both. From a lovely seller on Etsy, I also bought book-themed necklaces with a quote from Hermione on one, and the Marauders Map on the other. 

3 - Jewellery part 2
Officially Licensed Hermione Granger Wand Necklace With Ollivanders Wand Box! - Wizarding Wares
Hermione's wand as a necklace. This is something I talked about my Dream Loot Crate post last week and seriously, next pay day, I'm going for it, it is glorious!

4 - Stationary
This is a new addition to my notebook collection - I couldn't resist!

5 - Mug
It had an accident with the dishwasher but it still works and it holds the greatest amount of hot chocolate.

6 - Banner
A gift from one of my best friend's Sophie - she knows me so well!

7 - Wand

Voice activated, which doesn't work but I love it anyway. 

Side note: this is the photo I was talking about, this is all the cards, stationary, badges, toys, stickers and games I collected when I was a kid. The bag I used for primary school, the cards along the bottom are from Chocolate Frogs, remember those? That's a Mirror of Erised pencil case, a Book of Spells, a colouring pad, a sticker book, Top Trumps, House badges (don't ask me why I don't have Hufflepuff, I don't think I ever found one)... and I'm realising I am a huge dork and I am so proud of younger Anya for saving all of this!

 I know that's only seven but I'm going to stop because honestly, I have tears in my eyes from this trip down memory lane. Harry Potter has been a part of my life since I was 10 and all of the merch and stuff that came with it has allowed me to revel in this fantastic world for so long. 

Let me know if there's any Harry Potter related merch you are proud of, or if there's anything you desperately want!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Weekly Highlights: the 'April TBR' edition

Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things!

March was a funny month for me - reading took a back seat while I panicked and fought for my job (restructures are the worst). Luckily, I got it - yay! - but getting back into the book world has been a struggle. Please bear with me as I try to get excited about books again, but good for me I have a few really good-looking releases coming up!

On The Blog
Review of The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury 
Review of The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Discussion: Dream Loot Crate

Currently Reading
Into The Fire - book four and the finale in Jeaniene Frost's Night Prince series - details below.

On My Bookshelf
One Italian Summer
One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
It's been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie's dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer's here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy - but what's it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms - the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was ... 

With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again - gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with - or so she thinks. What's going to happen this time? What's more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky - Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn't know how she fits in any more. 

Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had?

Didn't even realise that Keris had a new book coming out so when I spotted this on Netgalley, I was all over it! Thank you Hot Key!

Into The Fire by Jeaniene Frost
Into the Fire (Night Prince, #4)In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.
For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

I adore Frost's books and cannot wait to find out what happens in Vlad's finale.

The Island at the End of EverythingThe Island At The End of Everything by Kiran Milwood Hargrave
Ami lives with her mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: her island is to be made into a colony for lepers. Taken from her mother and banished across the sea, Ami faces an uncertain future in an orphanage. There she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies, and together they discover a secret that will lead her on an adventure home. Ami must go back to the island of no return, but will she make it in time?

I loved Hargrave's first book and am really looking forward to more of her beautiful writing. Thank you Chicken House!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Caraval (Caraval, #1)Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Went on an ebook shopping spree to get me out of this reading slump, so along with Caraval, I also bought Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink, The Deal by Elle Kennedy, and All Fired Up by Elle Kennedy and Vivan Arend.

April TBR
First up are all my review books, those mentioned above as well as Windfall and The Circus. I think that's all I'll be able to read, like I said I've been in a weird reading place for a while now so I'm not putting too much pressure on myself. Let me know what you're planning to read this month and if there's any of these books you're also excited for!