Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Shelf Control 31/05/16


This is a weekly feature that I will be posting on a Tuesday, where I will be spotlighting a book that I have on my shelves that I haven't read. This is a great idea for a weekly post, as I have loads of unread books, and i find it really interesting to read why others have purchased and want to read certain books!! This is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.


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This Week's Book:


Title: Inside Dickens' London
Author: Michael Patterson
Published: 2011
Synopsis: This is a fascinating, evocative account of 19th-century London, so well known from Charles Dickens' much-loved novels. It draws on descriptions of life in the capital from original letters, diaries and newspapers, as well as Dickens' own social commentary, to paint a vivid portrait of a city undergoing massive social changes. No author has ever described the city of London as well as Dickens. His eye for detail and his gift for characterization moved and entertained readers throughout the world who might never have been to the city. Many of the cliches that crowd our imaginations when we think of London, or of the Victorians, can be traced back to his writings. A unique gazetteer section with a modern-day map allows the reader to discover where places and attractions mentioned in the text can be seen in today's London. -Amazon



How/When I Got It:
I bought it 3 years ago, it's a non-fiction novel, and I bought it while I was going through a bit of a non-fiction buying flurry. Needless to say I read very few of them, hence the reason it's featuring today!

Why I Want To Read It:
I love reading about the past, and the 19th Century is one of my favourite periods in time to read about. Also I haven't read many Charles Dickens novels, so I was hoping this might ease me into them!!

Happy Reading!!

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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Book Review- My Life Next Door

Title: My Life Next Door
Author:Huntley Fitzpatrick
Pages: 394
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Rating: 3.5/5

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another. -Goodreads

A huge thank you to Net Galley and Egmont Publishing for the review copy of this novel!

This book has been published for a couple of years, and I had seen many people rave about it, so when it popped up on Net Galley I eagerly requested a copy. This novel is a very easy read, I sped through this in about 2 days, the narrative flows nicely and the plot moves quickly keeping my interest well.
I absolutely loved the first 70% of this novel, I would probably have given the novel 5/5 if it had finished at that point, but the last quarter or so disappointed me. That is around the point where our main couple come across an obstacle that is in the way of their love, stopping them being together. After this point I just didn't really feel that into the story anymore. No spoilers, but the obstacle not only feels contrived and a tad ridiculous, but the way the main characters reacted felt ridiculous and out of character. I could tell that they were only acting that way to allow the plot to continue, if they had acted more in character, the obstacle wouldn't have become an obstacle at all!
However apart from this blip in the characters behaviour, in general I really liked all the characters in this novel. The main character Samantha, whose narrative we hear, and whose perspective we get in the novel was great, she was funny and quick witted. I also liked that she questioned things, including her mother, although I would've liked her to have a bit more spine when standing up to her mother, but overall I thought she was a very likeable main character, and it was easy to root for her throughout the novel.
Samantha's love interest Jase was very likeable too, he's one of the most believable and likeable love interests I've read in a YA Contemporary novel in a long time. He seemed kind and caring, and very amusing. He had that confident swagger about him that made him seem more attractive, but not so confident to appear arrogant. I thought Jase and Samantha made a very cute couple, and I enjoyed all the descriptions about their flirting and their dates but overall I wasn't that invested in whether they got together or not. 
I was actually more interested in the minor characters in the novel, Tim for example was probably one of the most interesting, but also realistic depictions of a young adult in this novel. He started off as quite a dislikeable person, but as you learn more about him and his problems you start to feel much more sympathetic towards him. He also changes the most throughout this novel and his character growth was great to read, very believable and well written by the author. 
Also I want to give a special shoutout to the character of George, Jase's little brother, who is possibly the cutest child I have ever read about. He was just so adorable, almost everything that he said made me laugh, and he provided a great comedic element in the novel. Maybe we could have another novel featuring George?
Overall I did enjoy this novel, and although I thought parts of the plot were a tad ridiculous, the characters and the easy read made up for it, so I gave it 3.5/5 stars. I just had a look on Goodreads, and apparently there's a companion novel featuring Tim, so I am definitely picking it up soon!
My thanks again to Egmont Publishing and Net Galley!

Happy Reading!


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Friday, 27 May 2016

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56- Allegiant

On Fridays I will share excerpts from whatever I am reading that day. First, Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader  the The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

First share the opening lines of your novel, then turn to page 56 (or 56%) and share a few lines!

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This week's book is Allegiant by Veronica Roth.


Beginning: "I pace in our cell in Erudite headquarters, her words echoing in my mind: My name will be Edith Prior, and there is much I am happy to forget."


Page 56: "We run in a pack down the alley toward Monroe Street. I resist the urge to wince at each of our loud footsteps. It's more important to be quick than silent at this point, anyway."


Thoughts: Not a particularly interesting beginning, but I guess by the third book in the series, you're already interested, hence the reason you're continuing the series. To be honest the only reason I'm reading this book is because I already owned the series so I want to at least give it a fair shot. There is a review of Insurgent coming on the blog soon, so stay tuned for my thoughts on it!



Happy reading, and have a nice weekend!!


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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Book Review- The Martian

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Pages: 369
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fiction, 

Rating: 4.5/5

A mission to Mars.A freak accident.One man's struggle to survive.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. 
But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.
But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale. -Goodreads

I went to see the movie The Martian with my flatmate last year, and I didn't even realise it was based on a book until after I returned from the movie theatre. As soon as I saw the movie I knew I needed to read the book as soon as possible.
On a side note- the movie is amazing, even if you haven't read the novel I definitely recommend seeing the movie, its a hilarious and action packed movie, I jumped once or twice too!!
Another story about this novel is that I took absolutely ages to actually buy it as I was determined not to get a book with the movie cover that had Matt Damon's face on it. I have a weird thing about not buying the movie covers of books, and so I looked in loads of book shops before I just happened to come across a non-movie cover. That's the reason that it has taken me such a long time to read the book, it took me a long time to actually buy the book too!!
The main thing I would say about this novel is that it is hilarious, the main character Mark Watney who's point of view we follow throughout most of the novel, is very sarcastic, and this sarcasm and sharp wit comes across very well in the novel, its very funny! 
This novel is written in the past tense, which means that a large proportion of the novel is told to you through diary-like day recaps from Watney on Mars. This means you don't really "live" the action as such, and I wondered how this would work in the novel. It wasn't a problem at all, the novel was still exciting and tense even with this style of narrative.
The novel also uses 3rd person narrative to describe situations immediately before the "big" problems and action moments Watney faced, and I think this also worked well, you experienced the immediacy of the situation, and felt a sense of danger and worry for Watney and his situation!!
I also enjoyed the chapters of the novel which were set back on Earth following NASA as they tried to help Watney survive, and the chapters that followed the rest of Watney's crew back on Hermes. I thought these narratives really helped the story flow, it meant you were not just reading Watney's diary the whole time, which made his voice more distinctive and more enjoyable when you did read it. It also gave a fuller understanding of the bigger picture, of what was happening in the rest of Earth, and how others important to the story were coping and helping Watney. It also left me in the horrible position of knowing things that some of the characters didn't, which is so frustrating but makes for a very tense and nerve-wracking read!!
I also enjoyed the characters in this novel. The characters in the crew on Hermes were very interesting, and I really enjoyed learning more about them through the small insights we were given through the novel. I loved how different and developed Weir made all the characters in the novel, there were only a few females in the novel (perhaps a few more would've been nice, but he made the Commander of the Hermes a female, so I can't really complain!!) but they were all very different and well rounded which is definitely to Weir's credit.
The only element of the novel which meant I docked half a star from the rating was the large amount of scientific jargon and explanations that just went completely over my head. A lot of the science that kept Watney alive, and that he went into great detail to explain was incomprehensible to me, and although it didn't detract from the actual story, it was a little overwhelming so the novel didn't get 5 stars because of that!
Overall however, this is a very funny book, which is action and packed and quick to read, and I definitely recommend it, even if you're not interested in space and sci-fi, its a great read about human strength and adaptability. Also check out the movie if you haven't, it's really good!!!

Happy reading!!

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts) #1

This is a weekly blog meme hosted by Bookishly Boisterous (link here) where you can write about anything that's happening in your life, book related or not!


1. I'm home again for summer now that term has ended until September, and I always feel a little odd because I get on with my family really well, and I never have any arguments with them. Many of my friends at Uni say they hate going home for summer, but I really love it. I'm very grateful for my situation and for my family!!

2. Now the French Open has started I'm ready to get totally into tennis and not stop until Wimbledon is finished in July. Tennis is definitely one of my favourite sports, and I'm fully backing all the Brits all the way!! I can watch and listen to tennis for hours without any problem, sometimes I find I've spend a whole day doing just that!

3. I've started running again, I went for the first time in at least a year this morning, and I'm not going to lie it was a serious struggle, but it also felt good. There's something quite refreshing about getting up early in the morning and experiencing the day while there's very few others around. I don't run much when I'm at Uni because I stay in the city, and I struggle to find anywhere to run that isn't polluted from car exhaust fumes. That's why it's so nice to come back home, we stay in a small village in the middle of nowhere so it's perfect running conditions.

4. Since I'm home for summer I'm really looking forward to baking and cooking more since I'm not studying. My family and friends make the perfect guinea pigs for all the crazy recipes and flavour combinations I want to try, and they're always willing to eat things, especially if it's cakes or desserts!!! I made a cherry cake on Saturday, and it's pretty much all eaten by now! I'm probably going to make another cake of some sort on Wednesday, I would do it tomorrow but I'm working :(

5. Movies/TV I watched this week: 

  • Sunshine on Leith- A movie based on the Scottish musical which is in turn based on an album by The Proclaimers. This is an easy watch, a little cringe at times, but the music and singing made up for that.
  • The Decoy Bride- Another movie based in Scotland, this one starring David Tennant. Another frothy rom-com, it filled an afternoon but was nothing special.
  • The Backup Plan- This film stars Alex O'Loughlin, who I love in Hawaii 5-0, but it's a pretty disappointing movie. The plot seemed strained and contrived, and the acting was terrible at times.
  • The A-Word- I'm watching this BBC tv series weekly with my mum as it's a subject that we're both interested in. It's about a family who find out that their son is autistic, and it shows them coming to terms with it, and how they plan to deal with the disorder. It's a little dramatic for my taste, it seems like a lot of misfortunes befall the one family, but the little boy who plays the autistic son is the cutest little boy ever, so I'll keep watching for him alone!
  • 11.22.63- This is an American tv adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, and so far I'm really enjoying it. It's another one I'm watching with my mum (we have an eclectic taste, ok!) and we're only on episode 2 but it's keeping us pretty interested so far.
  • Battlestar Galactica- This is a tv series I'm watching on Netflix, I'm a sucker for anything involving space, and so far it's really good. It's got a great cast of characters, and its tense and exciting, and puzzling, I can't wait to watch more!!
Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Shelf Control 24/05/16


This is a weekly feature that I will be posting on a Tuesday, where I will be spotlighting a book that I have on my shelves that I haven't read. This is a great idea for a weekly post, as I have loads of unread books, and i find it really interesting to read why others have purchased and want to read certain books!! This is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

This Week's Book:
Title: Cujo
Author: Stephen King
Published: 2006
Pages: 432

Synopsis:Outside a peaceful town in central Maine, a monster is waiting. Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo chases a rabbit into a bolt-hole - a cave inhabited by sick bats. What happens to Cujo, how he becomes a horrifying vortex inexorably drawing in all the people around him makes for one of the most heart-stopping novels Stephen King has written. -Goodreads





How/When I Got it:
I bought it in a used bookstore in Keswick in the Lake District while I was on holiday with my parents last July.

Why I Want to Read It: 
I have a rule about buying any Stephen King or Neil Gaiman novels when I find them in second-hand or charity shops, so I didn't even look at the description, I just bought it!! However reading the blurb now, it looks scary and creepy like you want a King novel to be!

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Book Review- Crown of Midnight

Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J Maas
Pages: 418
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Series: Throne of Glass #2

Rating: 4/5

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.
It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."
From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for. -Goodreads

This is the sequel to Throne of Glass, so if you haven't read it, or don't want any chance of spoilers, check out my review of the first novel here!! 
My main problem with the first novel was the pacing, there was no problems with it this time, this novel was fast paced and kept me turning the pages until I had reached the end. This novel was also more action packed than the previous, there was less scene setting and character background building required in this novel, so there was more action, and also some sad moments too.
The twist that came at the end of this novel was exceptionally done. I had no idea that it was coming, and it took me completely by surprise. I can't wait to see how this will impact the rest of the series, and where it takes the characters from here.
The characters also grow a lot throughout this novel, Celaena and how she dealt with a particularly sad moment gave us an insight into how she works and how she motivated herself throughout her life. We also got to see a different side of Chaol in this novel too, he shows a much more caring and gentler side, but we also learn more about his family, and his loyalty is tested in very interesting ways. 
This novel continued the paranormal elements that began in Throne of Glass, and I really enjoyed reading these elements in this novel and I'm excited to see exactly how Maas is going to expand and incorporate these elements into the rest of the series. 
Maas' writing is well done, she does a very good job of creating and expanding the world, and the way she creates characters is very enjoyable to read, and it has definitely made me want to pick up other novels that she has written.

Happy reading!


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Friday, 13 May 2016

Book Beginning- My Life Next Door


This is a weekly meme in which you post the first sentence (or so) of the book you are currently reading, along with initial thoughts, impressions of the book, and anything else you want to mention.

Hosted by Rose City Reader

I found this meme and thought it would be a fun one to start doing on a Friday, hope you enjoy!!





"The Garretts were forbidden from the start.
  But that's not why they were important." 








My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.
I've had this novel on my Kindle for a few month since I was given a copy from Net Galley. I finally decided to pick it up last night, and I'm already getting good vibes from it. I don't read a lot of contemporary novels, but I feel like I may be inspired to pick up more after finishing this one.

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Book Review- Throne of Glass

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Mass
Pages: 404
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Series: Throne of Glass #1

Rating: 4/5

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. -Goodreads

I purchased this novel a couple of years ago, but only got around to picking it up last month. I wish I had read it earlier though, it's the first novel in a series that I'm definitely planning on finishing before the end of the year. 
I found this novel to be a little of an odd read, it had an odd pacing to it, some parts were very slow, and others very fast, so some parts were really easy to read, but some parts I really found myself having to slog my way through. To be honest this novel was heading for a 3-3.5/5 star rating, for this reason alone, I wasn't even sure if I would end up finishing it. Thankfully the last 25% saved it and me from missing a great series. The pacing was much better towards the end, it was action packed and a very enjoyable read so I bumped up its rating!! This last part showed just how good Mass' writing could be, and if it hadn't had picked up I can guarantee I wouldn't be reading the rest of the novel.
However, apart from the pacing issue, I couldn't find any other flaws with this novel. The characters were good, they were well rounded and developed and had likeable and dislikable aspects which made them feel real and life like. The main character Celaena is one of these characters. When I first met her, I really disliked her, she seemed extremely arrogant and quite unpleasant, but Mass' excellent storytelling means that as you figure out her backstory, you come to see why she acts the way she does. By the end of this novel I absolutely loved her, and I can't wait to read more about her in the rest of the series. She was kickass, strong, so independent and I loved her ability to face anything with confidence and bravery. The other two main characters; Dorian and Chaol are well developed too. They are both kind and brave men, in Celaena's decision she is not faced with a "bad boy" and a "good boy", like in many novels, instead she faces a tough decision between the two of them, both different but both likeable in their own ways. That being said, I'm definitely "Team Chaol", his journey from rough and distant to so caring is one that I always enjoy reading in novels, so he definitely gets my vote! Dorian is well developed too, we see his struggle to deal with his father's rule and laws as King, and how he disagrees with him, and he loved books so thats always a plus!!
My favourite element of the plot of this novel was definitely the trials/tests that the assassins had to face, I only wish they had actually lasted longer in the novel, a lot of them were only briefly mentioned, and I would have liked to have read all about them. 
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, it was slow in places but overall the plot kept me interested and I love the characters I have been introduced to. I am looking forward to getting to the rest of the series soon.

Happy reading! 



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