31 May 2015

Monthly Wrap Up: May

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I’m skipping this weeks Sunday Summary as it’s the end of the month so I thought it best to do a little catch up to start with. May has been a month of lots going on, but the most significant things that has happened on my blog? I had a little redesign, which I’m sure you’ve noticed. Sorry for any trouble it’s caused any of you, but I needed a makeover, I’ve been thinking about it for awhile and so I read up on everything I wanted to get changing on my blog and started getting it changed. It took up way too much of my bank holiday weekend than strictly necessary, but I am so pleased with the changes.

 

Annoyingly, I get my blog looking exactly the way I want it and then I find the program I use to write up my blog posts no longer syncs with my blogger account, it’s a nightmare! I’m sure there are plenty of other folk having Windows Live Writer and blogger issues so I’m hoping it will get fixed soon. Until it is I may be posting a bit less frequently because I hate the default blogger post editor, it never does things I want to and always ends up formatting something in a weird and wonderful way. Also, if you notice anything looking a little bit skeewiff let me know and I'll attempt to force the blogger post editor to submit to my will.

 

Enough about complaining, though, let’s look at the highlights of my blogging month.

May Reads

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May Posts

Review: The Handler – D.R. Graham

My Thoughts: My Book Reviewing Philosophy

Author Addiction: Laini Taylor

My Thoughts: Language & Literature

Sunday Summary: 10.05.2015

Review: Uprooted – Naomi Novik

My Thoughts: I’m a Bad Commenter

Sunday Summary: 17.05.2015

TTT: Ten Books Which Make Up My ‘Bedside Table’

Review: Nowhere But Here – Katie McGarry

Bite Sized Books: Faking It

Sunday Summary: 24.05.2015

TTT: Ten Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads

Review: Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella

My Thoughts: The Apps That Help Me Keep On Top Of My Blog

 

That is my summary of May, it’s been a fun month with plenty of reading, I only hope next month will be just as good.

29 May 2015

The Apps That Help Keep Me On Top Of My Blog

I am not the most organised person, and I am so often away from my computer that I need apps in my phone and tablet to help keep me vaguely organised when I’m on the go. I thought it might be beneficial to let you know what they are. I am not a blog guru, I don’t really know what I’m talking about ever, but I muddle through and I’ve made it a year, so I like to pretend I now have worldly blogging experience (I don’t, but fake it ‘til you make it, right?).

Inbox by Google


I first read about this app ages ago on a tech website (I love tech stuff, I may not understand half of it, but I like to be informed) and I knew I wanted it because you could remind yourself about stuff and really organise you’re inbox. It was like Google’s attempt at improving on Outlook, and since I only have Outlook at work I knew I needed it, but at the time of my reading about it it was invite only, and I did not have an invite. Then, a couple of weeks ago a little pop up appeared in one of my three mail accounts (yes, I have three email addresses, it does get confusing) saying that I should give inbox a try. I figured why not? Boy am I glad I did.

All 3 of my email addresses are now synced with inbox and I don’t know how I functioned before I had it. I can set reminders for myself about emails I need to deal with, perfect for keeping track of comments. I can snooze emails until later, great for when I’m on the go and can’t respond immediately to something in my inbox. And then, once I’ve dealt with an email you mark it as done and it disappears from your inbox (not deleted, but instead sitting in a done folder, perfect). It has completely cleared up my mess of an inbox and it helps me vaguely stay in top of comments, emails I have coming in and any also helps me manage any ARCs I’ve requested and such. It is such a nifty little and I can use it on my phone tablet and laptop.

Google Keep

I know there are hundreds of apps out there for lists and reminders, but I am committed to Google knowing everything about me ever since I’ve had an android phone so I started using Google Keep for my notes. I like to write lists of discussion posts I plan to write, quick thoughts about books and various other ideas in here. It’s great because it syncs with both my phone and tablet, but not only that I can use it on my laptop as well. This means I can write quick thoughts about books and then implement them t make a review. It is perfect for me because I am the worst about remembering things so you will often find me typing away on the bus with my thoughts and ideas in an to attempt to not lose them. This is in no way a groundbreaking app, but it is insanely useful. And, as you can tell from my picture, it means I can leave vaguely coherent notes to myself, even if I don’t follow through with some ideas.



Goodreads

I know, we all use goodreads, it’s one of those things we love to hate, but their website and app is so useful for keeping track of books it’s heard to not use it. I don’t always post reviews on goodreads, because I am the worst, but I always always use it to keep track of books. It’s perfect on the go to mark a new read and show I've finished another one. I don’t often add comments on there, but I always mark books as finished and convenient for keeping on top of my yearly books challenge. It also is good because it has that nifty barcode scanner for adding my new books to shelves when they arrive in the post.

Blogger

I use blogspot as my blogging platform, and often I am terrible at remembering to schedule posts. This means that I more often than not need to manually publish them because I forgot I planned to post something on a specific day. Having this little app on my phone and tablet is perfect because when I’m on the way to work and suddenly think  ‘shit, I forgot to publish that post’ I can quickly an easily remedy the issue. It is not pretty, and it is awful to editing anything on a phone, but it is insanely useful and easy enough to use when needs be, so I can’t complain.


Bloglovin’

This is the app that helps me keep track of the many, many blogs which I follow. I think it is the only reason I can keep on top of all the blog posts I want to read, that and having all the tabs open on my blog. This app is one of my most used on my phone simply because it is such a useful way to keep on top of all the blog posts I have to read. I know there are various ways you can track and follow all the blogs you want, but this is the one I know and use and the app is so user friendly, just like their website, that it would be impossible for me not to use this app.

I suppose this is not necessarily the most informative, or even necessarily all that useful, but I wanted to let you guys know a bit more about how I blog and I suppose help out anyone else who might be in need of a few apps to get them organised. Is my way of doing things the best? Probably not, but it’s what I know and I hope you find it vaguely interesting if nothing else.

What apps do you rely on to help you with blogging, or do you not use apps at all? I would love to hear from you guys on this, I’m always intrigued on people’s own little blogging methods no matter how big or small, so please fill me in on any apps I may find useful in my need to get organised whilst on the move.

27 May 2015

Finding Audrey–Sophie Kinsella

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Release Date: 4th June 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
My Rating:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming team mate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
This was such an interesting read for so many reasons. The simple fact it approached an issue such as social anxiety and mental health in general is great because it is most certainly an issue that there is a need for awareness particularly in the UK I think.

I have always been a fan of Sophie Kinsella so to see she was writing a YA book meant I knew I wanted to read it. When I first read the blurb I was uncertain, it sounded interesting but I've never been a huge fan of YA issue books because they always felt too much like those episodes of tween dramas that were trying to teach you something. I've never been a fan of being preached at. This is written so well though that I really enjoyed it, it wasn’t so much an ‘issues book’ as a well written YA journey about a girl that has depression and social anxiety and her journey to find herself again and to readjust to life with her family.

My first thought, when I began reading, is that the tone of the writing reminded me so much of Louise Rennison and her Georgia Nicholson stories. She writes with the same kind of humour, something I really enjoy in a book. There isn’t the same kind of slang and general craziness of Georgia Nicholson, but there is a similar writing tone and her family is very reminiscent.

The highlight of this book is not any kind of romance or anything like that, a strange concept for me, instead it is Audrey’s family. They are hilarious and a bit crazy, something that everyone’s family is.Her mom is obsessing over her brother’s playing video games, her dad is struggling to work and appease her mother. Frank, her brother, just wants to play Land of Conqueror's and hang out with his friend Linus to try and win a £6 million prize. All of this makes her family dynamic fun and hilarious, they are dysfunctional to the extreme, but that’s what’s makes them likable.

I enjoyed seeing Audrey’s growth as she recovered from ‘the event’ and was beginning her journey of recovery. It was interesting to see how people interacted with her, like Linus was so very understanding and it was sweet. The there was Natalie and her hilarious attitude to Audrey, which was the exact of Linus. And her family, they were just happy to see Audrey coming out of herself again.

I would definitely recommend this book to others, it was a fun and interesting read if you get the chance pick it up. It is about the growth of a person and her journey with accepting her illness and her unwillingness for it to define her as a person.

25 May 2015

The Girl At Midnight–Melissa Grey

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The Girl At Midnight – Melissa Grey

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Urban Fantasy

My Rating:

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.


Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.


Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.


But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

When I started this book I will admit to getting a sense of deja vu. I was certain I’d read this story before, and I had in the form of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But that is far too simplistic a comparison, there are a lot of very strong similarities in this book. A young girl raised in a world not her own by creatures that most would attribute to being fairytales? Yes. A war between two species with said girl being caught in the middle? Yes. A girl able to travel around the world simply using magical doors? Yes. There are more similarities than that, but that would be spoilers. You would think this would have turned me off of the book, but it didn’t. This happens in fantasy from time to time, I think Melissa Grey simply had the misfortune of me reading DoSaB before I ever found this book. I powered through, because the similarities weren’t so awful that I could not read, it was not a direct copy, it just happened to be similar I think. I just wanted to begin with this, so if I go with the biggest drawback I found there is no place for me to go with this review but up.

 

I am going to state now I did love this book, so my review will be coloured by all of this love I’m feeling for it. I liked the character of Echo, I was uncertain because of the similarities stated above, but I think the reason I persisted so willingly was because Echo was such an easy character to like. She enjoyed reading, so I could definitely relate, and her fascination with words was awesome. I found a few good words in this book, and it was definitely one of my favourite elements. In particular the German word for a face that needs a fist in it was hilarious. I told a friend at work and it has officially become our word for the week. Things like that are what make me love a story, the small details of a character that make them a bit more real, and Grey has done that so effectively with character of Echo. I also loved the fact she was a thief, not a hardcore one, but she definitely has a touch of sticky fingers when the need arises. I have a thing for thieves in books, don’t know what it is that makes me like them, I just do.

 

There is a romance in this book, and I was concerned it would be the obvious romance that we see far too often in fantasy novels, and it is in a way, but it is hardly touched upon. There are hints of romance, and there is a sort of love triangle I could see developing, but doesn’t dominate like it too often can. If anything it is the friendships of this book that reign. Ivy and Echo’s friendship was perfect, they were both so in sync as only best friends can be, but perfectly oblivious at the most inopportune moments, such as when we are first introduced to the character of Rowan and Echo is obviously hinting she wants a bit of alone time Ivy completely doesn’t get it, the same way me and my friends used to be, and still are really. I loved that. And I loved how Echo and Ivy talked honestly about things other than boys, but about Echo’s constant feeling of being an outsider, and Ivy comforts her, but doesn’t sugar coat it and admits, rather unintentionally, that she isn’t part of their world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t have a family. Something that becomes obvious as the book progresses. I think it was the small scenes that appear insignificant, but mean everything in terms of character development, that Grey did best, and really made me love this book.

 

Another good point are the different species, there are dragons (love me a good dragon book) and there are the Avicen, a bird race, and they are a bit more unique than you see in some books. I liked that they stood out and were written in a new and different way, because sometimes dragons can get a bit boring, so I think the Avicen are a good race to have warring with them. It was interesting, and I enjoyed it, it was a mega plus point for this book.

 

Overall I adored it, I couldn’t quite give it a 5 star rating, but I adored it none the less. I cannot wait for the next book to see how this story will develop.

 

Has anyone else read it, if so let me know your thought. And did you notice the same similarities as me? Do you find it off-putting when you notice stories having the same idea as another book you’ve read or do you take it as it comes?

Ten Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads

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Since I am not going on holiday this year, or at least I’ve not got plans to go on a beach holiday, I figured it would be best to instead suggest books to all of you. I don’t really do beach holidays, I’m extremely pale and no matter what factor sun cream I put on I still end up getting burnt with prolonged exposure to the sun. It makes going on beach holidays a bit more difficult. I’m the one smeared on factor 50 sun cream, wearing a T-shirt to cover my shoulders, and continually following the shade around wherever I go in attempt to fend off redness. As such, my beach holidays tend to involve me spending prolonged periods of time indoors and then being brave and going out only to end up resembling a tomato at the end of such an adventurous day. After Sun is my best friend. But enough about my pale English skin and onto the books.

 

I tend to choose summer reads as my beach reads. I want books set in summer that are fun and easy, and normally they end up being romance centric, but that is the kind of light read I tend to enjoy on holiday, but I know that is a personal preference. I have one friend that always returns from holiday having read some dark serious book that I would never want to take on holiday as it would end up depressing or frustrating me. So it’s hard for me to know what people will view as their beach read, I’m going to try and suggest light and fun reads you can pick up and put down with ease. I’m also aware that I don’t want to repeat myself too much, because this topic was done last year and it turns out a few of my picks were chosen then, I hate to be unoriginal.

The Books I’ve Read and Can Recommend:

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

Road trip books are perfect fun beach reads, and Morgan Matson’s is a stand out road trip book. It has some drama, romance and genuine emotion. And her road trip playlists featured throughout the book are perfect. You’ll be intrigued by the story, but you’ll easily be able to dip in and out.

In Honor

This when is a bit of a heavy road trip book, it also features loss, but it was still such a good read. You’ll be drawn in by the ridiculous idea Honor has about road tripping in her brothers memory and you’ll want to keep reading in hopes of her succeeding. A great fun book which probably make you wish you were road tripping rather than chilling on the beach, but still an excellent choice.

PS I Still Love You

Okay, I’m not completely finished with this book, but I’ve started it and can tell it would be a great beach read. It is a great fun light book with a suitable amount of teen drama to entertain you whilst you’re away.

The Longest Holiday

An impulse buy on my kindle a while ago, but it was such a great read. Anyone who has been on holiday and not wanted to go back home will appreciate it, as will anyone who has ever has a holiday romance they’ve wanted to carry on for that bit longer. It does get a bit dramatic towards the end, but still a great beach read.

 

Getting Over Mr Right

If you’re like me and love a ridiculous chick lit read when you’re away then this is the book for you. It is funny, and farfetched and so typical of the book you pick up at the airport because you forgot to bring a book with you. I loved it, it is a perfect light read you are guaranteed to enjoy.

 

And What I Would Take If I Were Going Away

Twnety Boy Summer

This looks like a fun read, I’ve only read a couple of Ockler’s books but I really enjoyed them so this one should be good. It’s set in summer, so already meets one of my criteria, and it just looks like it will be interesting but not too light and not too serious either.

Past Perfect

It’s set during summer and it looks like it would be fun. This has all the makings of a perfect beach read for me, also there is an historical re-enactment village, how cool is that? It appeals to me on all levels

Some Kind of Normal

This is a book I’ve been eying up for a few weeks, and these are often the books I impulse buy before I go away, as such it would more than likely end up being one of my beach reads if I were going away.

The Start of Me and You

I loved Emery Lord’s book Open Road Summer and it was featured on last years beach reads list, so I think I would probably end up picking this up this summer. This does sound like a bit more of a serious book, but I could easily spend a few hours reading this in the shade, preferably near a bar providing drinks with cocktail umbrellas in.

Always the Bridesmaid

And what better way than to end off with a chick lit read. I love Lindsey Kelk, she writes great romance reads that I always enjoy so I would most definitely pick this up for my hols for a fun cheeky read next to the pool (or the beach).

 

Do my choices meet your discerning tastes? Let me know your thoughts, and if you’ve read any of the books I would like to pick up please let me know if they’re good because I may pick them up for my week long holiday at home. I’ve tried to pick a variety, but honestly YA and chick-lit are my go to easy reads which fit my mood for holidays.

24 May 2015

Sunday Summary: 24.05.2015

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It’s another bank holiday weekend!

 

If you aren’t British you may not fully appreciate how exciting this is, but bank holiday weekends are what we Brits live for. And this is the last one until August, and after August? Well… it’s a long dark winter after that where we all hold out for Christmas. But enough about how excited I am about three day weekends and more about my week.

 

I’ve been busy! One of my friends is leaving for Australia next week so I’ve been trying to fit in as much social time with her as possible before she leaves me. This meant going for Japanese food at Miyako Teppanyaki in Birmingham and experiencing my first taste of Japanese food. Did I like it? Yes, it was quite tasty, but damn there is a lot of food offered in those set menus. I felt so full afterwards I wanted to lie down and let me food digest, but I resisted. Mostly because I needed to get a move on for us all to get the train. I became one of those people who took photos of their food, I did resist the urge to instagram it though. That was a fun evening, although tiring because I’d been out of the house all day working in Leamington so I’d been training it all over the place and I mostly just wanted to sleep, but it’s always nice to do something a little different.

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Then I filled more hours with my jet setting friend on Friday after work, mostly by following her around whilst she shopped for all her travelling essentials, of which there were many. Let me tell you, shopping when it’s muggy and humid out is not that fun, especially not when you’ve walked a mile to the shopping centre in the first place. I have lived and learnt from that experience. Now I am a bit sad that she’ll be leaving me soon, I know she’s going to be back, but it’s always a bit sad when a friend goes, no matter how long it’s for. I am also really excited for her, because this is such a huge adventure for her, so I cannot wait to here all about it every step of the way.

 

Now onto books, a very central point of this blog. If you follow me on instagram you know I am a bit of a shopaholic. I kind of binged a bit with my shopping over the last week and I’ve had various deliveries into my home. I think I’ll do a little photo shoot of the purchases that have arrived over the past week. This may include a book I received last week, but I don’t care.

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Now, you’d think with all these new buys I’d have been reading loads, right? Not so much. I’ve been reading, but I’ve not been enjoying some of my books as much as I’d like. I don’t know if it’s reading fatigue, or if it’s that I’m not reading books I enjoyed, but whatever it is I don’t approve. I’ve stopped and started a few books, and I’m even reading several books at the same time, something I’m really not a fan of, but oh well.

 

What I’ve Been Reading

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New To Me

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And that is my week. I’ve barely touched my computer this week, so I’m quite glad it is a bank holiday weekend, it gives me chance to try and catch up on my blogging. Reviews to write, random bookish thoughts to talk about and also plenty of reading to be done.

 

How has your weekend been? Have you done anything exciting with the decent weather we’ve been having? Tell me all about it, and if you’ve got any good book recommendations please offer them too me and dithering between wanting to binge on good fantasy reads and wanting to gorge myself on some good old YA contemporary reads, I’m feeling some school nostalgia coming on for summer, so please recommend away.