Sunday, 31 July 2016

August/ Holiday TBR

Its finally August (very nearly)!  At last summer has come and with it here is my August TBR, which for once, I'm actually pretty sure I will stick to and complete!  Summer is always the time I read more anyway, so I'm really looking forward to spending a good amount of time in the next month getting back into reading, as well as hopefully making sure my blog posts are more regular than they have been recently and just generally getting back into the book blogging community as I think I haven't been as active recently.  So anyway, here are some of the books I hope to read this month, and surprisingly for me at this time of year they aren't all contemporaries, which is what usually happens to my reading habits about now.  And so, enjoy!  

1) The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Ever since this was first released back in May, I have been holding off reading it, waiting for summer to finally come so that I could read this because for me this is the perfect time to read it.  Both of Morgan Matson's other books I've read I've loved and have been perfect holiday reads for me, so hopefully this one will be the same.  The synopsis also makes this one sound like another really cute little summery read and I have heard so many good reviews for this one that I can't wait to dive into another Morgan Matson book! 

2) Monsters by Emerald Fennell - 

I can't remember how I first heard of this one or when I first picked it up, all I know is that as soon as I read the synopsis I wanted to read it straight away.  It instantly drew me in with the idea of these two kids solving murders together sounding so eerie and creepy and the amazing cover making this all the more apparent.  Although I don't read a ton of them, I always love creepy horrors or thrillers and so I hoping that this one will be the same, particularly as it sounds a little different to the average one. 

3) The Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Strayhorn - 

I actually first got this one last year and planned to read it last summer after the synopsis sounded like the perfect book for then, but for some reason I never actually got round to reading it.  It follows five characters, each with their own burdens, who after a ritual meant to signify swapping them, they each end up the next day with someone else's on their shoulders.  Just the concept of this was enough to make me pick this up, with the beautiful cover also helping, and the whole idea of a simple act having huge consequences.  I also feel as though this one will hopefully will include some darker topics and maybe a larger variety of topics than I have read before.  Overall I hope this one is just as good as I hope it will be. 

4) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is the one classic that has been at the top of TBR for so long, and seeing as one of my goals for this year was to read more classics, I really should have already read this one by now.  Fortunately, as I am planning to take English Literature next year, I actually need to read this one over the summer before I go back to school, and so thankfully I can't for whatever reason put this one off any longer.  Honestly though it sounds like such an interesting story, its set in the 1920's, one of my favourite eras in history, and I know a lot of people love this book so I can't wait to finally give it a go for myself.  

5) Thanks for The Trouble by Tommy Wallach

I feel as though everyone heard me raving about We All Looked Up after I read it pretty much exactly a year ago now, as it ended up rightly being one of my favourite books of the year.  So, when Tommy Wallach released his second book earlier this year, I picked it up immediately and unlike some of the other new releases on this list, I actually was planning on reading this one as soon as possible. But somehow I just kept putting off from fear of knowing I would have to wait till at least next year for another book by him and just out of pure anticipation of whether this one would live up to his last one for me, and so now so many months later it is still sitting unread on my shelf.

6) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - 

So far I have read, and loved, two of Zafon's other books, and for some reason I have read both of them whilst away in the summer.  And so, seeing as doing so has almost become what feels to me as a sort of tradition, I have decided to pick up another of his books this summer, this time it being The Shadow of the Wind.  This one follows our main character as he discovers someone is destroying all copies of the books by an authors whose work he finds solace in.  Not only does the story sound really intriguing, but I know I can count on the writing to be beautiful and gripping and I'm really excited to give this one a go.  

What books are you planning to read in August?  Have you read any of these - what did you think? 


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Sixty

Top Ten Books that made me want to research/ learn more about something after reading

Top ten tuesday is a weekly feature/ meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  This weeks topic was one I was really interested in as it was a quite different to normal topics to me, and so I really wanted to see which books had interested me and made me interested in new topics.  It was nice to look back and see which books had included an aspect which I found fascinating or intriguing, especially as this isn't something I would usually ever do.  And so, enjoy!

1) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett - 

One of the main things I loved about this was the artistic aspect of this, especially the anatomical, medical art that Beatrix does, as it was something I had never thought of before at all.  Not only was it something new, but it also really intrigued me as it combines two subjects I enjoy, and so its safe to say this one definitely made me want to find out more about it afterwards.

2) The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough - 

As soon as I found out this book was set in 1930's America when I first started this one, I was instantly more interested as its era I'm interested in but don't know a huge amount about.  So not only did I love how this one included a bit of history within it, but it also then reminded me of my interest in this era and made me want to research and find out more about it straight away. 

3) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart - 

Although I wasn't a huge fan of this book as a whole, one thing that really did interest me was the idea of secret societies that was quite key in this one.  It's another subject I knew nothing about, as alot of these are, so seeing a little glimpse of them in this made me at least want to look at a little bit more about them and understand some more about them.

4) The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig - 

Before reading this, I honestly knew nothing about Hawaii in general, let alone any of its history, so I really enjoyed learning something about the place and about certain events in its past whilst reading this one.  And so then after finishing this one, I was really interested in learning more about what happened and then more about other aspects of Hawaii's history as well.

5) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - 

I'll be the first to admit that I love history and so I already know a fair bit about Germany during and in the years before World War Two anyway from school.  But still, somehow this one managed to not only grip me with the history I already knew, but also made me want to find out even more life in Germany during that period.

6) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - 

One of the key things that really interested me in this was the unique concept of ley lines and energy along them, as I had heard and knew almost nothing about them.  The whole idea of them and all the other similar aspects in this story really piqued my interest and definitely made me want to find out more about them as soon as I finished reading.

7) The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - 

I think it was the setting of this one that first intrigued me, and so I really enjoyed learning about some of the history that came with the place.  And so, after finishing this one I really wanted to find out more about Calcutta as a place and about some of the events that happened around the time the book is set, as alot of the story focused around the mystery.  I was just so intrigued in the background of a place I knew nothing about, particularly after reading a book set there, and so this one definitely made me want to find out more afterwards.

8) Paper Towns by John Green - 

Finally, this one may seem a little different as it doesn't have any historical aspects, but it was the idea of paper towns in this that really intrigued me.  I found it so strange the idea of these towns that didn't really exist and so its safe to say this book really did make me want to check out more about these places after finishing.

What books made you want to learn more about a certain topic?


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking & Kanin series review

I decided to pick this one up a week or so ago after realizing how little I was honestly reading with the last book I fully read being over a month ago now.  I knew I needed something fast and addictive to get me out of this reading slump I've been in for far too long now, and so this one seemed like the perfect pick.  Not only did I already know the characters and the story, but I know I can always rely on Amanda Hocking's books to keep me gripped, which is exactly what this one did.  I raced through the first half and although it still took me over a week to finish, its definitely the quickest I've read in awhile.

As this is the last book in the series, this one once again follows our main character Byrn as she is forced to go on the run as a consequence of some of the final events of the last book, whilst also having to figure out how to save her kingdom from a threat she has yet to uncover fully.  I have to say that I did really enjoy the whole key idea of the plot and storyline of this one, and loved how it tied everything together after the difference in storylines of the last two books.  It was so good to see how all these past events fit together and for all the questions and mysteries to be answered and solved.  And so, as with the second book, I also really enjoyed all the political aspects within all the kingdoms and learning more about certain figures who played key parts in these aspects.  

However, I do have to admit that one of my main problem with this book was how choppy the plot felt, particularly towards the end.  I normally love how fast paced and so then addictive these books are, but with this one I just found it to be too quick and rushed over stuff so much that I didn't have time to fully absorb one thing before something else was already happening.  Due to this, its safe to say that I enjoyed the first half or so, which I found to move at a much more reasonable pace, much more than the second half and ending.  Whilst I still enjoyed the idea and concept of the plot and storyline, I just wish there had been a little bit more time spent over certain elements and perhaps a little more description given at particular points to allow the events to not lose some of their impact.  

One thing I found myself warming to in the last book was some of the characters, particularly the ones I hadn't been too keen on in the first, and although this did continue to a point, I still found myself not feeling as connected or as empathetic towards some characters as I had been before.  I think this may have been down to how disconnected Bryn herself was, and therefore we as readers were to them, but nonetheless I still would have liked to have felt more and cared more for characters such as Ridley and Ember who I had really grown to like in Ice Kissed.

But on a more positive note, I couldn't write this without talking about how much I did grow to love Konstantin and how great a role he played in this.  I adored his relationship with Bryn and thoroughly enjoyed learning more about his past and so finally understanding some of the choices he has made.  I also loved how strong Bryn grew to be in this one, and how she was prepared to do anything to protect those she loved.  

That said, one aspect of the book that I really did enjoy was the presence and reappearance of certain old characters from other books and from the Trylle trilogy, as well as then seeing more of some of the different Kingdoms than we ever had in the previous books.  I really enjoyed revisiting the Trylle and Skojare but surprisingly also really liked learning more about and seeing more of some of the others like the Omte and even the Vittra briefly.  As I've said before, one of the things I've grown to love is the politics between the kingdoms, so I was so glad we got to see this more in detail as we got to visit more of them.  One of the key reasons I picked up this series was because of my love of the Trylle trilogy, so I also never mind seeing some old characters pop back up again.

Although I did enjoy the majority of this book, one aspect which I wasn't a huge fan of was its predictability for me.  I don't know if I just somehow managed to guess certain events out of luck or whether they were just clearer and more easily guessed at, but personally I found myself not being too surprised by things that seemed to need and want that element to them.  Without trying to spoil anything, I just wish that certain characters fates would have been less predictable as was the case in the past books. 

Moving back onto a more positive note, one thing that felt was once again done really well in this one was the romance.   After the first and second books took complete different courses, I really like how this one didn't go back to the way it was presented in the first one but instead allowed the romance to follow on well from the second which worked so well and meant that I once again really enjoyed it.  I liked seeing how the relationship evolved and grew over time and by the end I was so glad that Hocking decided on a more straight forward romance rather than complicating things unnecessarily.  

So overall, I did enjoy this one and think it did end the series well, but it unfortunately still didn't top Ice Kissed for me.  As for the whole series, I think it is definitely one I have loved and will reread in the future.  Its addictive fast paced and I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy or even just wants a great story that will keep you gripped from the beginning.

Character: Konstantin
Scene: Ball at the Skojare palace
Quote: It is so contradictory that life can be the worst its ever been and the best its ever been all at the same time.  It's strange how love can blossom even in the darkest places.

Relate a:
Song: Some Nights - Fun. 
I Walk the Line - Halsey 
Other Book:  Switched by Amanda Hocking

Have you read this series - what did you think?


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Fifty Nine

Top Ten Books set outside of the US

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/ meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  This weeks topic is one I was looking forward to as it really made me think how many of the books I read are set in the US, as straight away I only had a very narrow list of books.  I'm also really excited then to find some new recommendations for books that have different settings as now I know so little of what I read does have a uniquer setting, I really do want to try and find some new books with set in a few more interesting places.  And so, enjoy! 

1) The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Calcutta, India

If you want an amazing story in a different country with a little bit of history thrown in, this one is perfect.  Not only is it beautifully written, as all of his books are, but it also includes an really unique ghost story, mystery storyline that is a little different.

2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Germany -

If you want an amazing historical fiction that takes place outside of the US, then this one is definitely one to pick up.  It is the most amazing story that is so beautifully written and narrated and I can't honestly can't recommend this book enough to pretty much anyone who is a big reader of historical fiction, or even to anyone who's not.

3) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - England - 

This is one of my most recent reads that I loved, and is definitely a great book that is set outside of the US, even if its not your usual travel-esque book or isn't set in an exotic location.  It's such a beautiful story and is also quite a quick read, and I honestly believe this one deserves all of hype, awards and great reviews it gets.

4) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon - England

This one is perfect if you want a bit of a different story set outside of the US but with almost no emphasis on that fact.  It's such a moving story that follows an incredibile main character and is definitely a good one to try if you're looking for a book that's not your everyday story.

5) The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig - Hawaii - 

This book is perfect for anyone who loves books including travel and exotic places, as not only is the majority of it set in Hawaii, but it as it follows a crew of time travels aboard a pirate ship, the story can also transport you to other destinations as well.

6) Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Paris - 

By now, I feel as though almost everyone has read, and loved this book, but if somehow you have yet to pick this one up then its a perfect one for anyone looking for a little escapism as this one transports you to Paris.  Not only does it have an absolutely stunning setting, but it is also a really cute little romance with some great friendships as well.

7) The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith - 

This one is a little different to some of the others, as it doesn't take place in one main setting outside of the US, but instead sees one of the main characters travelling around the world to different gorgeous settings throughout the book.  Okay, so some of this does take place in the US, but I still think this is a great one for anyone who loves books that transport you to another place as it does take you to some great places even if some parts are still set in the US.

8) Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher - England - 

Another one here set in England, and another great story for anyone looking for a book that isn't focused on the setting or set too exotic but is still outside of the US.  The story follows 'Zoe' as she writes letters to a man on death row in her need to confess to a dark secret, and so has a unique format and a great storyline that will draw you in and captivate you throughout.

9) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne - Germany

Finally, here is another amazing historical fiction novel set during the Second World War, and is one so many people have read and loved because of its amazingly sad and touching storyline.  It is such an beautifully told story and if you have yet to read it then definitely pick it up and discover this spectacular tale.

What are some of your favourite books set outside of the US?  Have you read any of these - what did you think?


Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Reader Discusses: Why I love side characters

Anyone who has probably ever heard me talk about a book, or a TV series, knows about my undying love for side characters.  For me, they are often the characters that bring so much more to the book for me, that draw me in and that I ultimately find quickly becoming my favourites.  If you asked me to list some of my favourite characters, I can almost assure you that most, possibly even all of them will be side characters.  It's just a fact.  And so, I decided that instead of just gushing about them in another type of post or review, I would dedicate this post to explaining exactly why I love them so much.  This is also my first post of this kind, so please feel free to tell me what you think.  And so, enjoy! 

1) They often provide a little bit of humour or comic relief to a book

I believe that over time this one has become almost a trope now, with the witty best friend cropping up quite a lot now - not that I'm complaining!  Despite this, I personally love this, and think that it is often actually quite good diffusing the tension or for just lightening the mood a little particularly in a book that could otherwise be quite serious.

Examples - Ron Weasley from Harry Potter, Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments

2) They can show the main character to be more relatable and more human or show them in a more positive light - 

Not only can they make us laugh, they can also sometimes show the main character to be a little more relatable than we first thought.  The relationship they have with them can show a softer side or a more human side or a more emotional side to a character that we would otherwise just see as this consistently strong and tough character.  

Examples - Prim from The Hunger Games, 

3) They can be amazing characters in their own right - 

Just like the protagonist, or the villain, or any other character in the book, side characters can be some of best, most unique characters.  They can be just as well-developed, they can grow just as much and they can have just as fantastic personalities as anyone else, and they often do.

Examples - Max from the Book Thief, Kasper from Ice Kissed (although to be honest there could be ton of characters to fit this- I just picked some of my favourites!)

4) They can show that there was a time, and things did happen before the story - 

Often, alot of the side characters we meet in the course of the story were there and had a relationship with or had some connection to the main character or some past events before the point in time when we start reading from.  This can then help to show us a little bit of background to the character without inputting a flashback from the main character, but also to help us remember that in the books world, stuff did happen before the events of the books.  

Examples - The Darkling from Shadow and Bone, Barrington Whelk  from The Raven Boys  

5) They give the story a wider diversity/ variety of characters - 

Okay, so this does not mean I am not saying that authors should put in side characters simply to give their story a wider diversity.  But, that doesn't mean that a secondary character with their own marvellous little role in the story can't also provide more diversity in any sense of the term.  Not only could they be amazing people with a important impact on the plot, but having a lot, or even a few side characters can make your book more diverse.

Example - Ethan from The Game of Love and Death, 

So in brief, these are some of the reasons why I believe side characters are awesome!  

What do you think?  Do you like side characters - why?  Who are some of your favourites?   Tell me your thoughts!


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Fifty Eight

Top Ten Books I enjoyed that have under 10,000 ratings on Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  This weeks topic was actually books that have under 2,000 ratings on goodreads, but as I could find very few when I searched my Goodreads read list, I decided instead to change it to 10,000 ratings.  I know this is a little higher, and some of these are probably not as underrated as others, but I knew that any smaller and I wouldn't be able to recommend some amazing books that, for me anyway, are still pretty underrated.  And so, enjoy!  

1) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett - 

This is the most recent of my underrated reads, and is one I'm really glad I read.  It's a great little contemporary romance that has a storyline I really enjoyed and so I would definitely recommend reading this.  

2) Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher - 

I picked this one up sometime last year and really enjoyed it, especially how unique a format it had as it is all told in letters.  It's such a good story that takes so many different courses and is a great contemporary that's a little different to your usual romance.

3) Numbers 2: The Chaos by Rachel Ward - 

Despite the first book in this series having over 10,000 ratings and so not being as underrated, I honestly think that this trilogy as a whole is one that I haven't heard much about and so definitely needs more people to read it.  This second one in particular, which I enjoyed just as much as the first, if not more, is sure to be underrated for whatever reason as it has no where near as many ratings and so definitely deserves more people to check out this fantastic series.  

4) The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig - 

When I was searching through my read list on goodreads for this TTT, I was actually incredibly surprised this one had so few ratings, as personally I know I had heard things about this one online before I picked it up.  But nonetheless, this is such an amazing time travel novel that has some gorgeous settings, characters and is just so addicting and a great read 

5) The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - 

This one is by far one of my favourite books and so I can't understand why this one doesn't have more ratings!  It's such a beautifully written story with such a good plot and it's definitely needs more people to read and love it! 

6) Frostfire by Amanda Hocking - 

I've always been an Amanda Hocking fan, so in all honesty I'm not sure if I would have ever picked this up had this not been the case.  It also then seems to weird how few ratings this book has compared to one of her other series, despite the fact that I enjoyed this series just as much as that one, so this one definitely needs more reads, especially if you need a fast paced fantasy. 

7) The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough - 

If I could only recommend you to go and read one of these underrated books, this would hands down be the one I would urge you to give a go as soon as humanly possible.  It was easily my favourite book of last year, and can't believe more people haven't checked out the beauty that is this book yet!  

8) We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach - 

If you are looking for a good contemporary, then this one definitely hits all the marks.  Not only does it focus on our characters as they have to face the possibility of the impending end of the world, but it also has some great subplots and character development, and is just overall an amazing read!

9) The Originals by Cat Patrick

I still can't believe more people have yet to read Cat Patrick's books, especially this one which is the least well-known of the three I have read of hers.  Not only does this book have a really interesting plot premise, but it is also super fast paced and addicting, and I can guarantee that anyone will fly through this one in no time at all.

What are some of your underrated book recommendations?  Have you read any of these - what did you think? 


Monday, 4 July 2016

July TBR

Once again, here is another completely over-ambitious TBR for the month of July!  As I have mentioned quite a lot recently, over the past few months I really haven't been reading much at all, and so subsequently have constantly tried to get back into, partly by giving myself pretty long TBR's compared to how much I am currently reading, in the hope that it may encourage me to get to some of these books I really do want to get to sometime soon.  However, unlike past months, I may actually have a shot at tackling this one as I now have a lot more free time thanks to exams being over, so hopefully my wrap up for this month will be a little longer than normal.  And so, enjoy!  

1) The Infinite Sea/ The Last Star by Rick Yancey - 

Since the end of last year, I have been highly anticipating the release of the last book in the 5th Wave trilogy, so when it finally came out earlier this month I was so excited to finally read it.  However, after looking up a brief summary of the Infinite Sea, the second book in the series, in an attempt to remind myself of some of the plot points I may have forgotten, I found I had actually somehow completely misread major points and so its safe to say I was pretty confused as to what had actually happened and how I had missed some of the key things that had.  And so, based off that I knew this one would have to get a reread, but at least this time once I do finally figure out what actually happened in The Infinite Sea, then I can instantly jump into The Last Star and see at least how this fantastic series ends.  

2) Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking - 

I first started this series about a year ago and so its safe to say I am pretty determined to finally finish it soon.  I have really enjoyed both the first and the second books, and am a huge Amanda Hocking fan anyway, so it's safe to say that I'm really excited about reading the final installment in this trilogy.  I'm also really excited to see how everything wraps up, and just to return to the world and see where the story will go, especially as the second book has actually been my favourite so far, and so hopefully this one will follow suit and end the series with a spectacular last book.  

3) Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton - 

I recently picked this one up after attempting to read more fantasy, but after struggling with reading anything in general, I still unfortunately have yet to get to it.  Not only does the story itself already sound insanely interesting to me, but the setting and characters are what really made me pick this one up as they all sound very unique and unlike what I've read before, so I'm really excited to try this one out and see if it meets my expectations!  

4) Mosquitoland by David Arnold - 

This one actually also made my May/ June TBR, but as I got to almost none of those books, I thought it should make this TBR as well.  Not only that, but as it's also now summer (at least as soon as it stops raining), this one seems perfect as it follows the main character on what sounds like a kind of road trip, something which definitely convinced me to pick this one up.  

5) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

I'll be honest here and say I know very little about this one, and so it's safe to say I will be going into this with little expectation.  I have seen Jandy Nelsons books floating around before, and so have seen them mentioned by others in blog posts and videos before, but still I have to say I am basing most of what I think the story will be on the synopsis.  I'm also not someone who has read many contemporaries dealing with loss and grief as a central focus, so I'm intrigued to see how it is dealt with in this book.  

What books are you planning to read in July?  Have you read any of the books on this list - what did you think?