30 June 2016

Five Reasons To… Read Who’s That Girl

5 reasons
You know those books you just adore and struggle to put into words why to any sane human being? That is what Who’s That Girl was to me. At first. I thought it was just a romantic storyline  book being set in The Midlands which was making me happy (along with an insanely pretty cover I seriously want to photograph from every angle). It wasn’t that, though. I already knew Mhairi McFarlane was an excellent writer (I’ve read her other books after all) but it was more than that, this was a well-written book with amazing characters, a fantastic storyline, it was genuinely funny and it was realistic. You don’t get what you expect and I adored every second of it. I would read it again immediately if it didn’t feel like that would be premature and too soon… that and my growing pile of unread books is threatening to fall and kill me one day if I don’t tackle it.

I thought I would write a review on the book, but how do your write a review without sounding overly gushing when you knew that this book would be love once you were a few chapters in and already started out Masterchef when you did, in fact, want to watch it on TV? Instead, I will begin a new feature I had already been contemplating and that is my Five Reasons To… where I convince you to do things. It was going to just be a feature where I convince you to read various books, but why limit myself when there is so much potential for everything else to get included in this?

Instead of flailing aimlessly in an ineffectual review to get you to read a new favourite of mine I will give you five reasons why you should read it. If that doesn’t convince you I can say I tried and move on.

The Book


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Published: 7th April 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick-Lit
An achingly funny story from the author of the bestselling YOU HAD ME AT HELLO

What’s the one thing you do at a wedding? Kiss your groom. What’s the one thing you DON’T do at a wedding? Kiss someone else’s groom.

When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays, and if the groom is the head boy, Edie is closer to the geek with NHS glasses and purple braces. Ostracised by her colleagues, her boss suggests an extended sabbatical and has the perfect project to fill it – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new talent, Elliot Owen. All she has to do is keep her head down, get on with the star and not snog him. Easy, right?

Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a megabrat of epic proportions but also facing the ghosts of her past as she moves back in with her widowed father and layabout sister. As she questions the woman she has become, Edie realises that turning to look at her past is not just painful – it could potentially change her future.

Why You Should Read It:


It’s Hilarious


Seriously, this book is laugh-out-loud funny. There are a lot of books I have found funny, but there is a smaller list of books that made me laugh out loud. I actually had my mom come ask me what I was cackling about. It is honest, surprised out of you laughter that makes you snort (or cackle) and basically gives that laugh you tend to reserve for family and friends.

It’s Set In The Midlands!!!


Look, I am very easy to please when it comes to books. I like it when I find a good book set in the UK, and they aren’t as easy to find as they aren’t as widely advertised in the blogosphere. This book is one of the even rarer books that are set in the UK and aren’t exclusively set in London! You wouldn’t believe how rare that is. It’s set in Nottingham, which isn’t really all that local, but it’s The Midlands and it makes me insanely happy. Anyone who reads UK books and watches British TV is probably convinced London is the centre of the universe with the way it’s the only place people can safely name. I understand it’s the capital, but it’s nice to see other places too.
Anyway, this is meant to be about the book, not about UK geography. It was so refreshing to have the book be set in Nottingham and then to have a famous actor be from there and actually like his hometown! I just, it was really nice to have characters come from their lives in big cities and actually like a smaller city and not disparage it for being ‘not-London’ or whatever. I feel like all I ever see are books and films where your main character is moving to the big city to begin their life, not returning home to find themselves.

It Has An Awesome Sentence About Friends


‘Some friendships, they’re like favourite mix tapes. You hit pause but when you un-pause and play it again, you pick up right where you left it. You know all the right words and what comes next.’
I mean, this fully fits me and my friends from home and my housemates at uni. We may not have kept in perfect contact, but when we do get together it’s like we saw each other yesterday.

Who’s That Girl does friendship so perfectly. I adored and Hannah and Nick, they were hilarious and the perfect friends for Edie because they helped her face reality.

The Characters Were Perfect


I’ve already said I love Hannah and Nick (and I do, why are they not my friends?) but I also loved everyone else. I love Archie and the utter ridiculousness of his character. I loved Edie and how she was adorable and unsure and allowing life to carry her forward instead of acting herself. I loved Meg and how she was ready to be an utter hypocrite but she was still an awesome sister. Edie’s dad was the sweetest man and so funny, I just wanted to pick him up off the page and cuddle him close. I loved Elliot and his wit as well as his ridiculously good looks. I just really loved every single character in this book. Even the characters you weren’t meant to like I adored because they were such excellent villain characters whilst still coming across like real people.

I Loved Edie And Elliot’s Talk About Parents


I don’t want to spoil anything (like at all) but there was a really wonderful moment over halfway through the book where Elliot and Edie talk about their parents and their feelings on things and I felt like it was so amazingly on point describing things that I couldn’t help but hug this book close for getting it so right! It is a spoiler what specifically I loved and I don’t want to spoil things without you reading it first, but when you get to their conversation about parents you will know what I’m talking about and you will understand. It feels like Mhairi McFarlane gets the impact that their experiences can have and they were so utterly correct in their summation of the issue and their circumstances and I will love this book every day for being perfect on this point (as well as others).

***

Look, I probably haven’t managed to convince you, but I can honestly say I tried. I have loved Mhairi McFarlane ever since I read Here’s Looking At You and found myself a weeping mess hugging the book and trying to thrust it at everyone I knew because it made me smile like an idiot. I can say I tried, though. I needed to try because this book is a definite favourite of 2016 and McFarlane has reaffirmed to me why she is a must buy author and a favourite of mine.

Have I managed to convince you to give Who’s That Girl a chance? And have you read any other Mhairi McFarlane books? I would appreciate any suggestions you have for books that fit my 5 reasons for you reading this book too, I love finding new things to love.

27 June 2016

The Rose & The Dagger // The Perfect Ending To A Story I Loved

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Published: 26th April 2016
Source: Bought
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Rating:
The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as "a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance."
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
I have a lot of words about this book. First and foremost, this is the perfect ending to this series. It was a perfect duology and I could not have been happier with the books I read. It’s not often you get a perfect ending to a series (see the Divergent series) but when you do there is nothing better.

What Were The Highs?


The new characters introduced in this book were so good, and you got the development of old ones who simply didn’t get a chance to come into themselves in the last book. I loved the fact Irsa, Shazi’s sister, got to be in this book. Her entire story was fantastic. She was previously only briefly mentioned, but she has really come into her own in this book. She has a story and she has grown since Shazi last saw her and she wants her sister to know that. She is no longer a child and you can tell as she stands up for herself and tries to get her sister to open up so can understand. She was one of my favourite characters, and it helps that she is so sweet (why are younger sisters always so sweet and compassionate in books).

Another character I enjoyed reading about was Artan, who was just fantastic. He was a perfect balance of dislikeable and lovable. He was sarcastic and so cocky and he was fantastic. The interaction he had with Shazi was just perfect. Two strong personalities interacting is always interesting to read and they definitely helped make this book for me. It wasn’t until these two met they I began loving the story because until that point I was waiting for something to happen and the story two move forward. Artan got it moving.

I really enjoyed the fact that magic became so much more prominent in the second book. It was only really mentioned in the first, it was a known thing but there was little explanation to it. In this book we get some actual magic. I mean magic carpets, flying dragons kind of magic. It’s good and enjoyable to read. One draw back to the magic, there isn’t enough explanation on how it all works, I like my magic to have rules, but that’s a minor complaint. I liked what we got and it was fun to read.

What Didn’t I Love?


Not much, I mean there was my slight niggle with the magic of the book, but there wasn’t much to dislike.

My other complaint would probably be the pacing. much like the first book began slow and had a long sprint to the finish (and was awesome for it) this books pacing is the same. It began slowly with explanations about what happened and why and then Shazi figuring out her next steps and all that, but it was another building for a mad dash to the finish line and it meant the ending felt a tad rushed. It was only looking back that it felt rushed and when I was reading I was fully immersed, but a bit more time could have been spent on the ending. Not dragging it out, just making it more substantial (if that makes sense). But really, I’m looking for things to complain about, I loved the book and would recommend this duology to everyone.

Overall, Let’s Discuss


I’ve tried to keep my review as spoiler free as possible but would recommend you read my review for the first book and read that first anyway. This duology was fantastic. It had a sweet romance and a whole lot of action going on. It was a fantastic retelling of a story I don’t know enough about (I really want to read 1001 Nights because there are so many well known stories in it) and visually it was stunning. The descriptions and the world created blew me away and I will return again and again to lose myself in this story.

Have you read The Wrath & The Dawn books? What were your thoughts? Did you find the story rushed or am I looking for things to complain about? And has anyone read the original story because I think that would help me appreciate the retelling even more?

26 June 2016

Sunday Summary // 26.06.2016

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I can officially say that this week has been one of those weeks. It’s had it’s good points and it’s bad ones and I don’t know how to feel about it. I mean, I know how I’ll feel about it when this post actually goes up as I’m off to celebrate my best friend’s 25th birthday in style. Which means drinking and dancing and trying to convince her the world doesn’t end at 25 (I don’t know where she got this idea from). As such, I will be very hungover and hibernating under the covers when this gets posted. I may find time to catch up on blogging (I’m about two weeks behind) but only if a screen doesn’t hurt my eyes so I make no promises.

I began the week on a high. On Monday I went back to work after a week off (not great, but it was nice to have structure to my days, once more) and my parents returned from their holiday (much more exciting news). More excitingly, I returned to work and found myself winning Employee of the Month. We all joked it was because I hadn’t been there to upset anyone, but I don’t care I will enjoy my gift voucher spending. I see books in my future.

It was a nice start to the week to know my attempts to shut up and enjoy myself at work had paid off. Work has even been really good this week. I’ve enjoyed going back and I’ve been able to have a laugh and not feel like I’m constantly on edge. Maybe I needed the break, who knows? It was nice to be content at work.

Sadly, not everything this week has been good. I’m sure people will be aware by now that the UK was holding a referendum on whether or not to remain in the EU. It was something I was genuinely bored of hearing about but genuinely cared to vote for. I, along with  lot of the younger generations, wanted to remain in the EU. I was sad to wake up Friday and learn that the UK would have to begin the process of leaving the EU and try and carve out our own little corner or the world. It’s sad news and I will never be happy about it, but now I will have to wait and see what the future holds. I will not go off about politics because that is not what I do here, but I will say I think this is the wrong decision but I hope my pessimism is out in full force on that one and it will not have the huge impact I am expecting. It is uncertain times right now and so I will turn to books and hope for the best.

Shall we get back to bookish things instead?

What I’ve Been Reading

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I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this week. I’ve enjoyed it when I’ve been reading but I’ve not felt much motivation to actually pick up a book. I’m still reading Summer Days, Summer Nights and I love it. I can dip in and out and I like that about anthologies. As for Omens, I began reading it this week and I am enjoying it, but it’s only been Saturday that I’ve developed an urge to actually read again. Hopefully this book will end my mini slump.

New To Me

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I’ve been very tame in my new to me books. The Unleashing was bought purely because the Smart Bitches podcasts convinced me to give Shelly Laurenston a chance. Her writing sounds like it will be weird but good and I’m hoping it’ll end up being strangely addictive. As for Ivory and Bone… spoilers to Fairyloot box for June, but that’s the book which came in it. I’m intrigued to get reading as I’ve seen this book on several blogs and managed to avoid reviews for it. I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it.

How has your week been? Anyone else surprised by the EU referendum? And has anyone else ever returned to week to be given an award when you haven’t been there to deserve it.

22 June 2016

Borrowed Books // When A New Favourite Was Discovered

Borrowed Books
Any of my followers on Instagram, and those of you who stop by on Sunday’s (what few there are, Love you guys) will know I’ve begun going to the library. I never use my local library for many reasons. I am lazy (books are heavy) there are some strange people who regularly hang out in the library (some may so I am included in that number). And mostly because when I used to go their selection wasn’t the best. It’s still not fantastic, but it has gotten better. I have also been educated (by my mother, a former frequent library user until she realised she was running out of books she wanted to read there) that you can request books for order and reserve books from any of the library branches (and there are a lot of them). I have been thoroughly educated on the merits of library borrowing and now I just have to try and not borrow too many and return them on time so I get no library fees.

Anyway, I am now becoming a library user. I plan to visit once or twice a month. Now, I think each book I borrow deserves a bit of attention here on the blog so I will be doing reviews of each little library haul… or telling you why I didn’t read them. So, without further ado, let’s get reviewing
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Published: 28th July 2015
Source: Library
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
My Rating: DNF
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege - and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal...
 
For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege - as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.
 
For Lizzie King, Easterly's head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted - and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane's beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the iron-fisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets. As family tensions - professional and intimately private - ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.



This was an impulse borrow that did not pan out for me. I am the worst for not being in the mood for books when I borrow them and this poor book suffered such a fate. I could have kept it for 2 weeks longer and waited to see if I inspiration struck with it, but I knew it wouldn’t.

I picked this up a couple of times to try reading it and got through the first few chapters, but I just couldn’t get myself into the right frame of mind. Is it a good book? Maybe, but I didn’t spend enough time to discover.

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Published: 21st May 2015
Source: Library
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
My Rating:
Ani FaNelli is the woman you love to hate. The woman who has it all. But behind the meticulously crafted façade lies the darkest and most violent of pasts . . .

When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling and violent incident that took place when she was a teenager, she hopes it will be an opportunity to prove how far she's come since then. She'll even let the production company film her wedding to the wealthy Luke Harrison, the final step in her transformation.

But as the wedding and filming converge, Ani's immaculate façade begins to crack, and she soon realises that there's always a price to pay for perfection.
This book was an uncomfortable read, but also really gripping. There were veiled mentions to an event which changed Ani’s life and how everyone hated her for it, but no mention of what it was. I assumed it was going to be a book similar to Asking For It with a rape and the town favourites being to blame. It was not that books.

The character of Ani is an abrasive one, she is not going to be everyone’s best friend as she is very much a person who wishes to be somebody. Someone who everyone will notice. She is acting in a role and her real character is quite different from who she pretends to be. Ani is basically an onion of a characters. She is a hell of a lot of layers and some of them you will like and others you will hate, but she most certainly felt real.

I’m glad this book didn’t fall into the bracket I’d set for it. Instead it was gripping and mysterious and the twists this plot took was amazing. I didn’t feel wholly satisfied with the ending, but I was so glad Ani had made the decisions she had. This is a book you won’t be expecting. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a contemporary thriller then give it a go.

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Published: 14th January 2016
Source: Library
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
My Rating:
New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Kelley Armstrong delivers us to Rockton, a secret little town in the far north where the hunted go to hide. And where a hunter has now come to play.

Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police detective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Diana's abusive ex finds her again, despite all Casey has done to help her disappear. And Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them…
I loved everything about this book and attribute it all to Danya’s excellent recommendation skills. Her review convinced me to read and it was the book which motivated to go to the library because I was so thrilled mine had a copy! I’m glad for this book, and I’m so glad it was good to make the trip worth it!

What made this book so good then? Well it was gripping. I mean, I literally did not want to put it down. I stayed up way too late reading it and I was exhausted when I got to work the next day, but it was worth it. I had to know what happened next because I suspected about five different people of murder whilst reading because nobody was what they seemed.

The entire concept of an off the grid town is a bit weird, to say the least, but it works. Everything about this book just works. The fact that Casey is such an interesting character in herself definitely helps this fact. I liked her from the first few pages and nothing in the book changed it. Then, you throw in every resident in this off the gird town where everyone has a new identity, a past they don’t wish to talk about, and the fact that some are not even who they are saying they are, well… you’ve got a thriller which will draw you in hook line and sinker.

I can’t properly review this book without spoiling things for you (and trust me, you do not want this spoiled for you) but I can say it was fantastic. It’s a book I didn’t have to even question giving a 5 star rating to. I keep thinking back on this book and love it that bit more. I now need to hunt out more of Armstrong’s book whilst I wait for the next in the series to be published. I’m hoping to get a new favourite author from this, but I’ll let you know how it goes.

***

And there are my library reviews. Sure, one was a flop, but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. I’ve already got my next haul in so hopefully there’ll be just of many hits to have there too.

Have you read any of these books? Tell me your thoughts. What were the last books you got from the library?

20 June 2016

Gone To The Movies // The Breakfast Club

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Gone To The Movies is a joint feature Kaja and I are doing where we watch romance films and then write a review. It’ll be one film a month to happen in the middle of the month (I think we agreed the third Monday of each month… but don’t take my word for it) and is just a fun feature which gives me an excuse to watch romance films.

It’s been a while since Kaja and I have done one of these posts so I’m happy to be back with a favourite of mine, The Breakfast Club. In case you’ve been living under a rock and have never heard of the film I’ve put the short description below because some folks weren’t alive in the 80s when this film was released. I mean, I wasn’t either, but I love films and this one is a classic for me.
Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal (Paul Gleason). The disparate group includes rebel John (Judd Nelson), princess Claire (Molly Ringwald), outcast Allison (Ally Sheedy), brainy Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) and Andrew (Emilio Estevez), the jock. Each has a chance to tell his or her story, making the others see them a little differently -- and when the day ends, they question whether school will ever be the same.
(From Google)
As you can see, it’s the stereotypical group of misfits get thrown together and end up discovering there is more to one another than first appears. This film is all about overcoming labels and seeing the people underneath. I can’t really review it as I adored it and have ever since I first watched the film years ago. Instead, I’m going to give you some quotes, tell you about the main theme and list a few books I’ve discovered after watching this film. Also, I’m going to put the classic Simple Minds song at the beginning here, as it is really the only appropriate music to be listening to here.
Okay, now we are in the right mind frame for this films let’s take a think about it. I know when I first watched this film when I was 14 or 15 I found myself identifying with Bender and Allison, the rebel and the outcast as that was who I saw myself as (I was an angsty teenager at times who thought no one could possibly understand me).  I wanted to be a rebel and be different.

Watching it back now I know I don’t fit under anyone label. I am a rebel, I will talk back and open my mouth when I probably shouldn’t. I am an outcast in that I don’t always like the same things as everyone else, I am the girl who would rather sit somewhere with a good book than go to a crowded bar and spend time with a large group of people. I am a bit of a princess, I like to shop and like clothes. I’m a brain, I like to learn new things, I like learning. The only thing I’m not is a jock because I am lazy and I know it. So it’s apparent that one simple label is not enough to appropriately define people and that is the grand realisation of the film:
Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete…and a basket case… a princess… and a criminal…. Does that answer your question?Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

One thing which did annoy me in the film is the makeover that Allison is given and then her apparent connection with Andrew, the jock. They interacted before the makeover and got along but it’s as if he only truly notices her after the makeover. That annoyed me. Makeovers are fun, but to only be recognised after that as if her previous (admittedly not to my tastes) fashion tastes were not good enough. That was annoying.

You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.

I did love seeing these characters slowly get to know one another and realise they have far more in common than appearances would suggest. They don’t enjoy everything about school. They feel pressure from their parents. They feel pressure about sex. They all have similar issues and they bond over it and have fun. I love it when they were all sat together talking towards the end of the film and they were all speaking honestly about why there were there. That was when the walls finally began to come down. They began speaking honestly and some of them were honest that the pressures of high school meant they were scared to speak to one another on Monday as social boundaries could not possibly be crossed.

We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.

I really love this film. The fact that these people connected is just amazing. My only complaint every time I watch the film is I don’t get to see if they actually do speak to one another on Monday. Do they overcome it all? These are the things I want to see. Watching a film that takes place over one day is fun, but don’t you just want it to carry on so you can see what’s next?
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From watching the film I always think about how we always try and categorise everything, even people. We give labels to things as we like to categorise and fit things into boxes, but that isn’t how life works. As such, I would like to highlight a few books which fit perfectly for the theme of this film (for me). I’ve not read all of them, but they definitely seem fitting.

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Okay, so there are four books here which I think are pretty fitting if you’re looking for something to fit your Breakfast Club cravings. Three I have read, The Summer I Became a Nerd and The Duff and they are about labels, the categories we put ourselves in, and overcoming the usual high school boundaries (I think… it’s been a while since I’ve read them both). Top Ten Clues Your Clueless isn't so much the labels we give ourselves but how other people categorise people without knowing and is about a group of people forced together and the friendships which are formed from that. As for This Is Not A Test is all about teens in some kind of zombie apocalypse locking themselves up in a school together… that’s pretty similar, right?

Have you seen The Breakfast Club? Please tell me you loved it. And Did you used to define yourself by these silly labels as I know I did? Have you any good recommendations for a Breakfast Club inspired read?

19 June 2016

Sunday Summary // 19.06.2016

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Does anyone else miss the days of lie-ins? I do. I slept until after 8am one day and I felt like throwing a party to celebrate… but I was too tired. I really miss sleeping late. I have learnt I do not want pets when I move out. Or if I do it will be a very independent cat who doesn’t stare creepily at me at 3am.

Anyway onto my week outside of sleeping. I’m not going to claim to have done anything interesting this week. I’ve seen a couple of friends (under duress because really all I want to do is read and watch Hawaii Five-0) but I’ve mostly just been stuck at home. The being stuck at home part is because of the torrential rain we’ve had over the week. Streets were flooded and rivers reaching dangerously high levels kind of rain. I mean, no one wants to go out in that kind of weather, but especially not me.

I have done some things, though. They mostly involved me seeing a friend for a few hours after she finished work and staying up way letter than we planned and then going to my local shopping centre with my friend who came up from London yesterday. I managed to not buy books even though my brain was screaming at me to and she managed to get an outfit for a friends wedding.

What I’ve Been Reading

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As you can see, it’s been a productive week of reading whilst I’ve not been at work. I probably would have read more if it hadn't been for my new found addiction to Hawaii Five-0. It’s probably a good thing I haven’t because I’m already behind enough with reviews I want to write, adding more books into review wouldn’t be the best plan. The highlight of the reading week is looking to be Young Widows Club but I’ll let you know once I’ve finished it.

New To Me

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I don’t know how this one happened. I think it’s a combination of book swaps and the fact a book order I placed last month finally arrived. I planned to get way more reading done to try and offset this bookish haul, but that didn’t happen. I am excited about all my new books, though.

How has everyone’s week been? Did anyone else have ridiculous weather? Does anyone else choose to hibernate when they face adverse weather and a few days off of work?

18 June 2016

Happy Thoughts // The Living Alone Edition

happy thoughts
I haven’t done another of these posts and I really loved the idea! This time it’s a post to remind me that just because I’ve not spoken to another human being today and just because it’s raining outside it’s okay. Also, I need something to help get me through work on Monday because I’ve not been in for 10 days and I do not feel motivated to return outside of my need to be paid.

1. Spending Time Alone

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This is probably a really strange thing to include in a post about being happy, but I am actually enjoying having time to myself.

What you need to know about me is I am not a very social person. I have a very small select group of friends who I try and see whenever I get the chance (they are social butterflies… I am the odd one out). I don’t like to do many things in one week, though. It exhausts me to be doing too much in one week so this time spent living alone has been refreshing. Spending time with my family exhausting like it can with my friends but there is always the expectation that you do your bit within the set time frame in my mother's mind and if it’s not done someone inevitably gets annoyed.

I’ve enjoyed doing things at my own pace when I felt like it. I’ve liked spending days in my pyjamas and making the decision that bananas and custard for tea is definitely an appropriate meal. It’s nice to leave my dishes to pile up for days as I am too lazy to wash up. It’s just nice to do things at my own pace and spend time with me. Sure, I’ve spent nights convinced someone is breaking into the house as I’ve heard a noise downstairs, but that’s normal, right?

2. Fanfiction Is An Awesome Addiction

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I have been reading a whole heap of fanfiction lately. I’ve not been able to settle on what book exactly I want to read. I mean, I’ve been reading, but fanfiction has been feeding that ridiculous romance/drama/angst/fluff quota I have when it comes to reading.

I have been fanfiction for everything as well. I have a lot of TV shows I read fanfiction for, and not all of them are shows which I still watch, but fanfiction fills my craving. I’ve been reading Hawaii Five-0, X-Men and The 100 fanfiction mainly and it has been fabulous.

Have I mentioned my fanfiction addiction before? I should probably do a blog post on it at some point because fanfiction is what filled my reading cravings for years before I rediscovered my love of books. I will forever be grateful for fanfiction feeding my cravings.

3. The Library Is Awesome

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I know I’ve mentioned my return to library borrowing before, but I seriously love it. I love the fact I can reserve books from any of the branches of the library and have them sent to my local one so I can read that book I just haven’t gotten around to buying yet. I love most of my library browsing can be done online for those books I absolutely have to read and then I can casually browse when I go to collect my reserved books.

I have discovered a potential new favourite author from going to the library and read some books I may never have gotten around to buying. I love the freedom of reading, although I do feel pressured to read what I borrow which is something I never feel

4. Binge Watching Is Way Better Than Binge Drinking

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I have become a bit of a binge watcher whilst I’ve had the freedom to watch what I like on TV. I’ve been indulging in the Sky Boxsets and have been binge watching Hawaii Five-0. I know it’s not a typical binge watching show. It’s not like I’ve been sat catching up on Walking Dead or Friday Night Lights, but I’ve loved it. I’ve seen bits of the show before anyway, but now I’m hooked. I want to know what happens with McGarrett and Danno and I can’t stop watching.

I think part of it is Alex O’Loughlin with his shirt off… but the main motivation (outside of objectifying men) is that Danny Williams (Scott Caan) is my spirit animal. His angry tirades remind me of myself so much it’s scary. Both me and my brother are in the habit of ranting loudly about things we don’t actually care about as much as our tone of voice would imply. It’s a family trait and I see it n Danny on the show and it makes me happy.

5. A Film A Night Keeps The Doctor Away

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This one happened simply because the quiet has been too loud at home so I’ve wanted the TV on to keep some background and to distract me. Anyway, it’s been really nice watching films I’ve been meaning to watch for a while and old favourites as well. I recently got Deadpool and Star Wars (the new one… I still need to get the other two trilogies for myself as my brother selfishly took his copies with him when he moved out) on Blu-Ray so it was nice re-watching both of those. I finally got around to watching If I Stay and cried like a baby. I’m just watching things I’ve somehow convinced myself I didn’t have time to previously.

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There you have it. These are the things which have been making a smile appear on my face over the past couple of weeks. I mean, outside of me not having been to work for about 10 days. These are the things I will need to remind myself of when I have to go back into the office on Monday.

What’s been making you happy lately? What’s been putting a smile on your face, spring in your step, and generally just brightening up your day? And has anyone else being watched a show which isn’t strictly binge-watchable or am I a special flower?

16 June 2016

Jane Steele // A Book Which Was An Homage To The Original And For Me So Much Better

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Published: 22nd March 2016
Source: Publisher (Headline Review)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Retelling
My Rating:
Reader, I murdered him.


A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.


Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.

A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?
I read this book as a part of buddy read with Danya at Fine Print and I am eternally grateful to her for asking me to do that. I got a free copy of the book from the publisher for review, but once I received it I allowed doubts to creep into my mind over reading it. Basically, thank you for Headline for sending me the copy and thank you Danya for getting me to read it because what a book!

So, Is It A Jane Eyre Retelling Or Not?


The reason I was so hesitant about the reading the book is the fact it is a ‘gothic retelling’ of Jane Eyre. I am sorry to tell you all that I have never managed to finish Jane Eyre. I have tried many a time because it is my best friend’s favourite book, but I simply cannot get past Jane beginning at that school she attended. I found it impossible to connect with her and began to doubt I would enjoy this book because of my inability to finish Jane Eyre. Thankfully, that was not the case.

One thing I did question throughout the book, though, is was it really a retelling? I mean, if anything this was an homage to the book. Our main character, Jane Steele, had actually read the book Jane Eyre and continually referenced it throughout the book. It was almost like it was honouring the original story and mirroring it in the story of Jane Steele, but also modernising and adapting it to fit a modern audience, and also accommodating for the fact that our heroine is a bit of a serial killer (just a touch, though).

How Does A Story About A Murderer Make Such An Emotional Read?


One thing I did wonder is how on earth did so many people rave about a book where out main character begins by announcing herself to be a murderer? It’s simple, really, Jane Steele is the most amazing character and she is so well written. Add into that a supporting cast of characters who are both likable and also villainous, perfectly fitting into the role cast for them, and you have a magic book.

I utterly adored Jane. As soon as I was a few chapters in and I had found my connection with her and began to understand her path of murder. I couldn’t help but like this stubborn girl who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut, but then wraps herself in so many secrets because she is scared no one will lover her if she lets them in.

It’s not just Jane you find yourself adoring, though, it’s every character in this book. I adored Clarke, Charles Thornfield, Sahjara, Mr Singh and Sam Quillfeather, they were amazing in their own ways. I would regale you with their wonders... but I don't want to spoil the story for you. I adored the heroes and the villains in this book in equal measure as they were all utterly fitting to the roles which they were playing.

Why Did I Love It And Why Should You Read?


This is a book where you are continually surprised by the characters, but also by the story itself. Throughout the book, you could see Lyndsay Faye had created this novel with a lot of thought. Things which happened later in the book referenced back to the beginning and you find things happening which you never expected. I adored the twists in this story and the way you grow attached to these characters.

This is a story about a killer, but it is far more than that and it’s interesting to see how Jane became the character she is and the path she will continue on. It’s a book you will not be able to put down and I strongly recommend it to everyone.

Have you read Jane Steele, what did you think? And have you read Jane Eyre because I would love to know how it compared? Are retellings always a retelling, or they sometimes an homage to the original, or both?

14 June 2016

After You // A Sequel You Will Enjoy, But It’s Not Required Reading

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Published: 24th September 2015
Source: Bought
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick-Lit
My Rating:
Lou Clark has lots of questions.

Like how it is she's ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.

Or why the flat she's owned for a year still doesn't feel like home.

Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.

And will she ever get over the love of her life.

What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.

Then, one night, it does.


But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for - or just more questions?

Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.

Open it and she risks everything.

But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she's going to keep it, she has to invite them in . . .
I know I was nervous about reading this book. Me Before You emotionally wrecked me. I was a weeping, sobbing mess by the end. I couldn’t believe a book could destroy me quite so much in the space of an afternoon, but it did. Then I learnt there was another book written about the lovely Lou and the time after Me Before You and I couldn’t not want to read it.

Should You Read This Book? Was I Glad I Did?


When you finish Me Before You there are a lot of lingering questions. The book itself is a wonderful read and ends perfectly, it works perfectly well as a standalone book. The thing is, though, you can’t help but wonder what happened with Lou. Everything was so wonderful and she gets given this chance in life from all this misfortune and you want to know what happens next. That is this book.

Anyone who has heard me rave on about Me Before You will know I love it. I love it beyond words and beyond any reason. I can’t believe I wasted so much time avoiding reading it when it’s such a wonderful book. I adore it. That adoration means that After You had a lot to live up to. My expectations were ridiculously high and no matter how I tried to bring them down I simply couldn’t. As such, After You had a lot to live up to, and I am just so glad JoJo Moyes is the skilled author that she is because she manages to write a very successful sequel.

Does It Do The Characters Justice?


I could never claim to like this book as much as Me Before You because it’s just too much to ask of any book really. I love enough for what it is, though. It’s a really fantastic book that gets you experiencing the same things as Lou. You experiences her highs and happiness as she moves forward in life, but you also experience a lot of lows (seriously, I was a chapter in and already getting teary eyed). The emotional rollercoaster that is this book just demonstrates how successfully Moyes got you attached to the characters in the first book. I was genuinely in love with Will. He was a dickhead in a lot of ways, but I adored him. He was hilarious. I completely understand why Lou is having such trouble moving forward in life when her past held so much joy for her. This book makes the excellent point that we can too easily idealise those who have left us because they aren’t there to remind us of their flaws. I liked that we were constantly reminded of that fact.

The other thing I liked about this book was the introduction of all these new characters. I didn’t necessarily like them all, but enjoyed reading about them. They were fun, they added drama and excitement within the pages. Also, it was hilarious reading about the old. I just really liked the people in this book. I just really liked this book.

Do I Recommend This To Others? (The Answer is Yes)


This is a solid read for those who just aren’t ready to let go of Me Before You. It heals old wounds for you and helps you move on. It’s a really good book and I recommend for anyone who wants to continue their journey with Lou Clarke.

What do you think when authors write a sequel for a book which was originally a standalone? And have you read either this or Me Before You because I’d love to hear your thoughts.

12 June 2016

Sunday Summary // 12.06.2016

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Hi people. And how are we today? I have had a bit of a week. It’s had it’s ups and it’s downs and really, I’m just glad it’s Sunday and I have no plans to leave the house today, I am exhausted and I deserve to relax.

I wish I could pinpoint exact reasons for my strong need to sit at home and do nothing and I think it’s mostly linked to my pets need to wake me by 7am everyday. I adore them to bits but I am feeling a strong urge to launch them out the window every time they do this.

My other reason for wanting to spend the day as a hermit is the fact that I have had so much family drama going on in the past week and feel like I deserve the chance to hide away to make sure nothing else will happen. I won’t go into everything but my nan took a funny turn and got the medics out the other day. Thankfully, she is alright (although stuck with a lingering chest infection) but that was stressful as they tried calling my mom who then had to relay to me to try and get in contact people and it was basically a palaver. And then my stepsister went into hospital as well which stressed my stepdad out while he was on holiday. Everyone was trying to get me to contact people and I had no clue what was going on and it was all very ridiculous. She’s ok now and everything got sorted, in the end, but seriously! My week was ridiculous.

After the medical dramas of my family I deserve a strong cup of coffee, lots of chocolate, and a day of slobbing out on the sofa, right?

On to more bookish news…I’m excited about something new I’m trying with my books. I have had a huge pile of books I’ve needed to get rid of for a while (it’s ridiculous, I’ll put a picture below but figure my terrible skills it was taken on my phone in very poor lighting). I kept thinking I was going to make the effort, at some point to trade them in. But didn’t. Then, after I did my used books post, Nicole commented saying she uses a website to bookswap. Now, I know people do it on Twitter and I remember my mom using a site a few years back, but I’ve never really gotten into it. I decided this weekend to give it a try. I’ve already got two book swaps arranged and I’m excited to potentially get more new books to read. Is it annoying I now need to get something to post them in and go to the post office? A little bit, but it’s also fun to find new things to read, especially when I’ve got so many books to get rid of. Has anyone else done some book swapping before?
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What I’ve Been Reading

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As you can see, my reading hasn’t been as voracious as other weeks. I am still reading What If as the science confuses me when I read too much of it in one go. I spent far too many days reading Bitten, but it took me a while to get into the story and then I finished it in a day once that happened as I was hooked. As for The Falconer, I didn’t love it but I’m interested enough to want to read the next book. I can’t decide if that means it was good or not. And finally I’m reading Armada so I can finish the first batch of library books I have which are due back in a couple of weeks. It’s weird, but alright I think.

New To Me

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Erm… I wish I had an appropriate excuse. But I don’t.

I went to the library to return some books and found out a couple of reserved items had come in and then I ended up coming out with three new books to read. Those are The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, The Square Root of Summer and The Shadow Queen. They're all books I wasn’t quite willing to buy but wanted to read.

The rest of my purchases? They were cheap, how could I say no? I got Signs Point To Yes (I liked Sandy Hall’s last book and this one sound alright), Easy Love (it’s set in New Orleans… it’s a weakness) and Honesty for 99p each on Kindle. I could hardly say no at those prices. And The Survival Kit was less than £5 and a hardback! Only an idiot wouldn’t purchase at that price. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while but the Kindle copy was too expensive for my digital tastes. It looks so pretty on my shelf, fingers crossed it meets expectations now.

So how have your weeks been? Tell me about the books you’ve read, your experiences with book swapping and life in general below.