Monday, 20 February 2017

Book Review | Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

My Rating: 5/10
Published: January 12th 2017
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads Book Depository

Beware that Girl describes itself as being for fans of We Were Liars, The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, a psychological thriller where the main characters are teenage girls and it takes place in the mega rich lives of New York's elite. That sounds like a pretty epic description right, which is why I picked up the book. Unfortunately I found the description of this book as a psychological thriller to be a little bit too generous. 

Beware That Girl is told from two points of view, Kate who is a self confessed liar and has a very rocky history, and Olivia, a very wealthy it girl who's reliance on pills to help steady her mood makes her the perfect target to Kate who has decided to become best friends with her in order to use their friendship for Kate to get everything she has ever wanted in life, money, status etc. 

Fans of Gossip Girl may well enjoy this book as it is a very easy read about the mega rich New Yorkers and the shenanigans they get up to, they even get a dog who they call Bruce! Now don't get me wrong, I am a massive fan of Gossip Girl so for me this wasn't actually that much of a deal breaker, it's just when something sells itself as being a thriller I expected something a lot darker than what was served.

This book also relies far too heavily on stereotypes. All of the girls featured in this book are what you would expect a New York girl who attends private school to be like and just come across as very flat characters. For me though, the biggest issue was when it came to the portrayal of Mrs Chen, a Chinese lady and Olivia's housekeeper. Everything from the way their body shape is described to the speech they used is so stereotypical I found it almost offensive. 

However as I mentioned, this book is an easy enough read for anyone who likes things along the lines of Pretty Little Liars etc, and although most of the twists within the book were predictable it did have a couple that were very clever that I enjoyed. 

Friday, 17 February 2017

My Ideal Reading Space

a collage of things I would like in my reading room

I often fantasize about if I had the space I would love to have a dedicated reading room and how it would look. At the moment I only have a very small bookshelf that doesn't hold many books at all in my bedroom.
There are a million gorgeous ideas on Pinterest, but this is my ideal area, all I need is a box room and lots of money....

I would decorate it in neutral warm tones with a hint of metallics and a light wooden floor to ensure the room is always bright and welcoming.

The Billy bookcase from Ikea is cheap and cheerful and gives the feel of being in a library because they are so tall. I would love one or two of these filled with books organised by colour, it's not always the most practical way to organise books but looking at my rainbow arranged shelves at the moment really makes me happy. Of course I would have some Funko Pop figures dotted around the bookshelf too from my favourite series, like the super cute Harry Potter ones.

Of course an armchair is needed to relax and read books in and I love the look of the Kolton armchair from Made. The colour fits into the neutral tones of the room and it looks like it would be big and cosy to curl up and read in.

Good light is needed for those dark winter nights and this Whity copper floor lamp from Maisons Du Monde looks like it will provide plenty of light and looks stylish too. A faux fur rug is also essential for those cold winters too to make sure the room feels nice and snug, the one pictured is from Dunelm.

Lastly, I would decorate the room with a few framed quotes/literary themed prints. Etsy is full of incredible designs like the Don't Let the Muggles Get You Down one pictured. A mix of black, white, and metallic frames/prints to tie the whole theme together.

Looking at this collage makes me so happy, but also sad that I don't actually have any room to do any of this! What is your ideal reading space?

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Book Review | Caraval by Stephanie Garber

a book review of a book fans of the night circus will enjoyMy Rating: 10/10
Published: January 31st 2017
Pages: 407
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

I first heard of Caraval when I received a promotional postcard in one of the book boxes I am subscribed to. It claimed fans of The Night Circus would love Caraval and as a massive fan of The Night Circus this immediately peaked my interest and Caraval quickly became my most anticipated book release of 2017 and I'm glad to say that it did not disappoint!

Caraval is a magical 5 day game put together by the mastermind Legend. People come from all over to compete in Caraval for a chance to win a fantastic prize, although many come just to spectate as the event is so full of magic it promises to create a great adventure for all those who attend.

Scarlett has long dreamed of going to Caraval but is about to give up hopes of ever attending as she is arranged to be married, that is until she is sent tickets from Legend himself a week before the wedding. Stephanie receives three tickets, one for herself and her sister who are both terrified of how their tyrant dad will react to them leaving the island, and a third ticket that is meant for Scarlett's fiancé but instead ends up being given to the mysterious sailor who has appeared on their island as payment for passage to the island where Caraval is held. 

Upon arrival at Caraval Scarlett's sister has vanished, it appears she has been kidnapped by Legend as part of the game and the winner of this years Caraval is the first person to be able to find her with only a set of five cryptic clues to give any indication to her whereabouts. 

The world created in Caraval is beautiful and magical, very reminiscent of the style of magic seen in The Night Circus, romantic, beautiful and mysterious, but there is also a distinct underlying feeling of something darker there. I'm also put in the mind of Alice in Wonderland style fantasy when reading this and a few times I imagined Legend as being a Mad Hatter type figure.

Stephanie Garber has a beautiful writing style too with long descriptive sentences that really help enhance the magical feel of the book and picture it clearer. There are often times when I felt like I had been whisked away, in particular there is a moment where a cider drink is being described and I instantly wished I could be drinking it myself.

I am so incredibly happy with this book as it was everything I expected and more. The story is gripping with lots of twists and turns which gets emotional at times and it's wrapped up in such a gorgeous magical package I can't fault it. If you loved The Night Circus please do yourself a favour and read this immediately, and even if you haven't I still recommend picking this up!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

I Heart Audio Dramas | Part One

I like audio dramas

If you follow me on Twitter you will most likely have seen me at one point or another raving about an audio drama because I LOVE them. It's a bit like a audio book, but there are often several actors acting out dialogue and instead of being a long recording they are split into episodes and series making it easier to listen to in bite sized chunks. Audio dramas are also most often free and I listen to them through iTunes.

Before I get started on sharing some of my favourite ones I just had to mention this speaker I got recently. It is the Comiso speaker that I got from Amazon. I mainly listen to audio dramas whilst cross stitching because I can listen to it whilst looking at my work. Headphones always got tangled in my work and the built in speaker on the iPhone is just poor quality so I invested in the ...... speaker. Oh my gosh it is a game changer! I didn't realise just how bad the iPhone
speaker quality is until I got this and it has increased my love for audio dramas even more, plus, it's rose gold!

Anyway, enough gushing about speakers. I listen to a lot of audio dramas so I expect this is going to turn into a series of blogpost but I thought it would be best to start with my top three favourite audio dramas.
a podcast that investigates a missing town
1. Limetown
Genre: Thriller, mystery
Average Episode Length: 30 minutes
No. of Episodes: 6
Good if you like: Serial, X Files
Limetown is the first audio drama I ever listened to and kicked off the obsession for me. The format is very Serial like, a weekly podcast by a journalist as she investigates Limetown, a town that had a population of over 300 people, all of which vanished without a trace one day as she tries to find out what happened to everyone.

a podcast that investigates the supernatural 2. The Black Tapes
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Average Episode Length: 40 minutes
No. of Episodes: 2 seasons, 12 episodes
Good if you like: Serial, Creepypasta
Another Serial type podcast which sees journalist Alex Reagan investigating the supernatural. On her investigation she meets professional paranormal investigator Dr Richard Strand who is on a mission to debunk all paranormal claims. He has successfully managed to do this for most cases, apart from those he calls The Black Tapes which he and Alex investigate further. Very spooky.

3. LifeAfter
a sci fi thriller podcastGenre: Sci Fi, Thriller
Average Episode Length: 25 minutes
No. of Episodes: 10
Good if you like: Black Mirror
Life After is a great audio drama to start off with if you have never listened to one before. It's a short series and only one season long so you don't end in suspense as you wait for a new season and it's amazingly well acted, it may be my favourite one yet.
Voice Tree is a social media site where people can record messages for other people to listen to, almost like a vlog but voice only. Ross's wife has unfortunately passed but he still listens to her voice through her Voice Tree messages, until one day he hears about the mysterious LifeAfter, an app that seems to be able to use Voice Tree to recreate a digital AI of people who have died that is able to communicate, but it's not as straight forward as it seems...

So there is three to start you off with. As I mentioned I definitely recommend starting with LifeAfter, it is fantastic! And expect more posts like this in the future as I am binging through lots of audio dramas at the moment.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Book Review | Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

My Rating: 8/10
Beautiful Broken Things book review by Sara BarnardPublished: February 25th 2016
Pages: 322
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

Caddy is a typical sixteen year old who lives in Brighton. She is from a good family and attends private school but she wishes she was a bit more interesting like her best friend Rosie who attends the local comprehensive school.

Despite going to different schools Caddy and Rosie are inseparable, that is until a new girl starts at Rosie's school. Suzanne is beautiful, funny, king and warm, and at first Caddy thinks she is stealing her best friend away from her, but after warming to her Caddy soon realises that there is a lot more to Suzanne than meets the eye and she is hurt. Very hurt.

This book deals with some pretty heavy topics including abuse, mental illness and self harm. These are all very tricky topics to deal with but they are handled very well and as this book is told from Caddy's point of view it almost acts as an education as this is the first time she has ever had to deal with these types of issues.

Sara Barnard writes the teenage voice incredibly well. Not once does it come across as false or try hard and I definitely remember having very similar feelings when I was sixteen. All three of the girls in the book are well fleshed out with very distinct personalities and all of them reminded me of someone I knew when I was younger.

It's incredibly refreshing to see a YA book based entirely on friendships and I loved this aspect of the book. I would happily give this book to my eleven year old cousin and think that it is a good read for her.

Beautiful Broken Things is a great read that will have you grinning from ear to ear but will also have you on the edge of tears. It is an easy read and flows really nicely and I think this is a great book for many different audiences.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Book Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My Rating: 5/10
everything everthing book review by Nicola Yoon
Published: September 1st 2015
Pages: 306
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

Madeline is allergic to everything and has spent most of her life not being able to go outside, doing her school lessons online with the only people allowed in her little bubble are her nurse and her mum, that is until the new family moves in next door.

Everything, Everything is quite a sweet book as it follows Maddy and her first love which is plagued with difficulties such as the fact that she can't actually go outside to see Olly and the fact that she is so allergic to everything so that contact with Olly may actually kill her.

The book is told from Maddy's point of view, but we also get to see text messages and IM's between Maddy and Olly as well as some illustrations and homework assignments from Maddy which help make this a little different to read and the illustrated parts I found to be very sweet and humorous as they explore the emotions everyone has with their first love.

Whilst the first romance aspect of this book is very cute and relatable (despite the fact Maddy can't leave the house) I found that the rest of the book was not as well done and left it feeling undeveloped. Olly has his own issues but these are quite glossed over which makes certain parts of the story lack the emotional impact they were meant to have and the tone of the story completely changes towards the last quarter of the book and goes in a direction that if the book was longer would've been explained better but as it is felt a bit rushed.

Overall I think this book is fine. It's an easy read and it has it's good parts that will make you smile but I feel like Nicola Yoon has just tried to pack too many elements into a short book which makes it end up falling a little bit flat.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Book Haul | 10 books for £20

a haul consisting of 10 books and a cat

OK ok, I know I said at the start of the year that I was going on a book buying ban until I had read the 17 books already on my TBR pile but the other day Amazon had a special code, you could get £10 off orders over £50. I joked that it would be great to get £50 worth of books but then a friend informed me that the code stacked up with their 3 for £10 on selected paperbacks offer, so what that essentially meant was, get your total to £50 and both of the offers would be used. After adding the 9 books from the selection on offer my order was £48 so I added another book I was after to make the total £54 and bish bash bosh, you get 10 books for £20!
Unfortunately the £10 offer is no longer active, but the 3 for £10 on selected paperbacks is still on and there is quite a decent selection available as you can see by this haul.

Oh, and of course the cat had to climb in the empty Amazon box. Stupid cats.

the raven boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - Blue has been told that if she kisses a boy he will die unless he is her one true love. That's pretty deep right? So of course she meets a boy she falls for and so on. This is a series I've been hearing a lot of good things about so wanted to give it a go. 

Roald Dahl's book of Ghost Stories - This is a collection of 14 of Roald Dahl's favourite ghost stories. I have been on a massive paranormal kick recently so when I saw this it instantly caught my attention and I've been after a good collection of short stories for a while.

Looking for Alaska by John Green - Here is an embarrassing secret, I've never actually read anything by John Green! Although most known for The Fault in Our Stars, some people say Looking for Alaska is his best work. A contemporary YA that looks at first love. I can tell this one is going to be a tear jerker.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian Walker - This is a book that always comes up when I'm looking for books that The Last Days of Jack Sparks readers also enjoyed. This is a post apocalyptic thriller about someone who finds himself stranded on the wrong side of the country after the world has ended.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer - This is the only book on this list that isn't included in the 3 for £10 offer but I have heard a lot about it on BookTube and wanted to pick it. It's the first book in The Lunar Chronicles, which are essentially retellings of classic fairytales. Cinder is the retelling of Cinderella, but in this version Cinder is a gifted mechanic and cyborg. 

young adult

The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave - Isabella is forbidden to leave the island but dreams of faraway places. When her friends go missing she volunteers to search for them leading to an adventure featuring an ancient myth. I didn't know too much when ordering this book besides the fact that the book itself is gorgeous with each of the pages being decorated.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild - The main character Annie discovers a painting in a junk shop whilst looking for a gift for an unsuitable man. It turns out the painting she has bought is more than she bargained for and ends up opening up the art world to her, full of Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting. This book has received a whole host of book nominations and has been on my to buy list for a while. 

Geek Girl by Holly Smale - The Geek Girl series is a super well known middle grade series that I've always thought would be a fun read but never actually got round to reading. Harriet is your typical geek and sadly isn't liked by many of the kids at her school, but one day she is picked out by a top modelling agency and this follows what happens after. 

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan - This is another series that is huge on BookTube. Percy Jackson is the son of a Greek god, who is trying to go about having a normal life but Zues, king of the gods thinks Percy has stollen his lightning. I'm a huge Greek mythology fan so this should be a fun read.

The Sin Eaters Daughter by Melinda Salisbury - Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches, so obviously that doesn't make her the most popular of girls. Twylla is bethroved to the prince as supposedly his royal blood means he isn't affected by Twylla but then a new guard comes on the scene and..... well you get the picture! I saw this at YALC last year and it looked great but I haven't had the chance to pick it up until now.

So that is it! I think 10 books for £20 is well worth breaking my ban, and to be fair I did get through 7 of the titles on the list before breaking, that must count for something right?