Monday, 31 December 2012

Favourite Books of 2012

I've done this for the last two Christmasses (2010, 2011)so I guess it's become a bit of a 'Rebecca-Books Christmas tradition' now. As many followers may have noticed, I add the name of my favourite book every month on the Books of 2012 page as I have for the last two years. Anyway, this list is basically a congregation of the books I absolutely loved this year for any reason at all be it my surprise at enjoying a book THAT much or just the sheer amazingness of said book. Whatever the reason, here's the twelve best books that I have read this year.

ALSO, while I've got people's attention, I would like to thank some bloggers for being so so lovely over the last year who have helped in a few ways. It's really lovely to know I have people that both read my blog and care about what I think. It's just a nice feeling to be part of the blogging community. So, thank you to Amy, Nessie, Lucy, Ria, Clover, Emma (and anyone else I forgot, you know who you are!) and the author, Marie-Louise Jensen who I was able to complain of college work and university choices to.  Thank You.

VIII - H.M.Castor
There are not many times when a book is THAT good that I am lost for words. There are also infrequent times when a book is so gripping you have to resist the urge to carry on reading in order to go about your daily life.
This book has both of those things. I was stuck in bed for a day with sickness at the beginning of January 2012 with the only accompany being this book that I had just started. Oh my. My eyes were so sore from reading, my back ached from being in bed yet I just couldn't stop reading. This is the most gripping historical fiction book I have ever read with so much detail about a period of history I absolutely love: the Tudors. I shall be re-reading this in 2013 in preparation for my History exam on guess what - Henry VIII!

Review  |  Goodreads

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
 I waited so long to get a copy of this (thank you to my friend Emma for finally providing a copy!) and this did not disappoint. This is something completely different to any other book I have read - it is kooky, quirky, hilarious, cynical, lovely and sad in a variety of ways with some of the best characters.
This really romanises the idea of reading and books I think, so many 'Kiss already!' moments that have you with a huge goofy smile plastered on your face. Ah, I want to go to the Strand Bookstore in New York now!

Review  |  Goodreads

Cinder - Marissa Meyer
I don't think I was expecting much when I first started reading this book. A cyborg in a book based on the fairytale of Cinderella? That wouldn't work was what I had decided before reading it.
Yet, I actually really loved this book and was so surprised! I think a lot of people, like me, would look at this book and discount it straight away, judgingly but I felt it was done so well.
The novel is full to the brim with tension, drama and the lovely cynical Cinder. It doesn't feel like an adaptation of Cinderella as you read it but a whole different unique story.
I've already got Scarlet on my Christmas list, so looking forward to reading the next in the series!

Review  |  Goodreads

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
I don't think there is much I can say that hasn't already been said about this fabulous book. I liked John Green's writing on a 'Oh I like his books but I'm not like head over heels for his books' level.
A girl was sitting in my English class this time last year reading this, I saw it and asked her about it with which she replied with a long rant about how great John Green was and how great this book was and that I must read it.
Fast forward 3 months and I did. OH MY. I CAN SEE HER EXCITEMENT. This is a book that means a lot to me in a few different ways, one of which is that it had the power to help me make friends with at least 3 people. It makes me want to share this book with ANYONE.

Review  |  Goodreads

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
I've said it before. This series wins the prize for 'I Can't Believe I Hadn't Read This Until Now' - I mean, they have everything I like in books, Scott Westerfeld is a great writer and I've been pondering over these books for years.
There are two things that stuck with me once reading the first book in this series. One, that I totally understood Tally's problem of trying to convert herself to a certain someone. It is something I think most teenagers can resonate with.
Two, the world that Westerfeld creates is very vivid and all together quite scary to how similar some aspects are today. So glad I finally read this series this year.

Review  |  Goodreads

Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
I think anyone with a book/movie that shares the same name as them would be curious. That is exactly why I read this book, as well as part of an assignment for English to read a Gothic literature text OTHER than Frankenstein (FYI, this is classed as a 'Modern Gothic Text').
So there was my excuse. I really didn't think I was going to like this but I was pleasantly surprised. This book is full to the brim of suspense, mystery and deceit - it's clear why Alfred Hitchcock chose to adapt this movie into a film under his name. I don't normally review books I read for college or classics in general as this is a YA blog but I liked this book waaay too much not to.
This book is 74 years-old. Yet I think anyone, whatever age, can still enjoy it.

Review  |  Goodreads

What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen
I'm a Sarah Dessen fan, and have been for a number of years now. So I HAVE to have a Sarah Dessen book on here right?!
I tried to write a decent review for this but I think most bloggers would agree, when you like an author too much, the review isn't always one of your best.
For me, this will never beat the likes of Just Listen or The Truth About Forever but this latest offering comes pretty close.
Before I gush about my love for Sarah Dessen and her books, I'll leave you with one of the lines I wrote in my review which I hope sums this lovely writer up: There is just something extraordinary about Sarah Dessen's writing. Something absolutely magical and compelling that creates something that you devour.

Review  |  Goodreads

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
This book wins the award for 'I Can't Believe I Liked This Book'.
In truth, I never intended to read this, the hardback sitting on my desk for months after my friend shoved it into my hands demanding it be read. Adult Fiction never really truly does it for mostly and the vague blurb left me less excited.
I'm not sure what made me pick this up eventually but something nagged me telling me I should read it. And I did.
OH MY. Some books are just lovely to read, the humour may be great, the romance too cute for words or a roller-coaster of emotions makes you feel so in awe by the end. With this, the writing and language is what sticks with everyone I have spoken about it to. It's so romanised  beautiful and vivid. This precise, intricate detail is just so well-thought. This is one of the first books I recommend at work now...

Review  |  Goodreads

After - Morris Gleitzman
After being introduced to this series by my friend, T, I have been a fan of Morris Gleitzman and the adventures of Felix in World War II.
I was a little disappointed with the third in the series, Now, which I thought was the last in the series. UNTIL. This was released and for me, it was the perfect and best end to the Once series. This is not one you read for fun, it's uncomfortable to read with the naive, innocence of Felix, yet extremely poignant.
This series does not need to be read in order, but if you want a book that will help you appreciate life - you've found it.

Review  |  Goodreads

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
As I said before, adult fiction books don't always seem that attractive. They can be too fluffy, a little too intense or about things I don't quite understand. Being 18, I should REALLY be reading more adult books but WHO CARES.
I bought this book on a whim after being excited for the movie release featuring three of my favourite actors in the main parts (I am yet to see the movie...).
I finally read it a couple of months ago and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I loved the realistic writing and the main character of Kathy. Some say this book is boring, I beg to differ.


The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgereld
Very rarely have I still liked a book that I've had to study in English, it's something that really ruins English for me as I grow to dislike a book I thought was great after the first read.
That was until The Great Gatsby came along. Actually, the over analysis and facts I had to know about this novel only made me like it even more. If you're going to read a classic, this is a good one being barely 200 pages long yet so much happens. Fitzgerald fits so much impact, profoundness and tension into such a short book that I'm glad he was commended for it.
I am so excited for the film being released next year. I've already made plans with friends (who also do English!) to go and see it. I will enjoy seeing Leonardo Di Caprio on the big screen, just not sure yet about his accent...



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

End of Year Book Survey 2012

The End of Year Book Survey was something Jamie at The Broke and The Bookish & The Perpetual Page-turner came up with a couple of years ago that grew into something a little bigger than she expected.
I did this last year and it's a lovely way to reflect on what's happened over the year, what you've read and overall, a nice way to start a new blogging year. If you want to participate, you can add your link to the Mr Linky on Jamie's blog, here.

When looking at last year's post, a few things struck me. A) Some of the books I was 'anticipating' so badly in 2011, I haven't actually read yet... B) I was sad for not reading 50 books? That's silly! and C) I ended the survey with this comment - 'Get 100 followers and have people comment frequently. If that happened this time next year, I would be one happy lady'. Which fills me with zeal because guess what? I have 109 followers and people comment on most of my posts so SCORE. 

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
And yes, I shall break it down because there have been MILLIONS OF BOOKS THIS YEAR THAT ARE NOW MY ULTIMATE FAVOURITES. 
Historical Fiction: VIII by H.M.Castor. This book helped me so much in AS History and as entertainment on a sick day. 
Contemporary: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - FOR DEFINITE.
Sci-fi/Dystopian: Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Classic: The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Adult Fiction: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern BECAUSE IT IS SO PRETTY. 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I have two for this one. Let's face it, even non-bloggers have moments of excitement over books and then are majorly disappointed when the book is a little bit rubbish. No, I have like four. But I'm going to narrow this to two. 
1. Specials - Scott Westerfeld - this year was the year I would finally read the whole Uglies series after years and years of wondering what this series was like. So after the amazingness of Uglies and Pretties, the first two books in the series, I was expecting so many things. But Specials...not so fantastic and amazing. Tally annoyed the hell out of my the whole way through and I left a little deflated. Well done Westerfeld for adding a fourth book to the series - good choice. 
2. Why We Broke Up - Daniel Handler - IT IS SO PRETTY. So pretty. It has painted pictures. It has romance. It had teenagers. It is a contemporary. And Daniel Handler? He wrote Lemony Snicket! So amazing things should be shooting from this book. Did they? No, they did not. Handler succeeded in making me hate Ed. But that was kind of it...
Other Mentions:
Emma Hearts LA - Keris Stainton
New Girl - Paige Harbison

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 
Freshman Year and Other Natural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - was totally expecting to dislike these books!

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
The fact that I work in a bookshop helps a lot with this one. I work in one of two floors. One floor is all adult fiction and as this is my favourite floor to work on and the one I am most comfortable with, I don't get to recommend a lot of YA fiction.
The ones I HAVE recommended this year mostly have been The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - both such good books. When I do sometimes get asked for recommendations on the kid's floor, my go-to book is Shadow Web by N.M.Browne because well I love this book and I think a lot of children would enjoy it. For my friends? I have been shoving The Fault in Our Stars at them all year. 
 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
I would say this has to go to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. I started and finished it all within 2012 (which I'm kind of proud of) and have really enjoyed it as a dose of dystopian genre. Oh and Cinder by Marissa Meyer!
 6. Favourite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Ah! So many! We've had H.M.Castor (with VIII), David Levithan (Sure I'd heard of him before but after reading The Lover's Dictionary, Will Grayson and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - he's lovely), Marissa Meyer (Cinder is amazing...), Lauren Oliver (read both Delirium and Before I Fall!).
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Apart from reading the first 10 pages of Fifty Shades of Grey? It's always the genre that you like NEVER read that comes and surprises you. For me, this year that genre was classics. I've never been one of these huge I-MUST-READ-ALL-THE-CLASSICS people, I've read Pride and Prejudice (although didn't understand it the first time round), but never gone further than that.
This year I read The Great Gatsby, The Odyssey, The Catcher in the Rye, The 39 Steps, Frankenstein - all classics that I would never have approached before. The Catcher in the Rye was just weird. 
 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
An oldie, but it has to be Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I needed to know what would happen in the end!
 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
VIII by H.M.Castor - Mostly because I'm studying Henry VIII at the moment in History for my end of year exams and this will be a good way to revise!
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - This is the yearly read. I have to re-read it every year. 
I'm also sure I can find time to re-read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2012?
Sometimes it's not the cover that I love but actually the feel and the texture of the book itself. 
Without a doubt, that does to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern:

The left is the cover of the hardback that I was lucky enough to borrow from my friend. The right is what the book looks like when you take the paper cover off. WHY MAKE A BOOK THAT PRETTY, IT'S TOO LOVELY? Just like to note I put this book on my Christmas list and ordered that it be the hardback. 

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 
I often think of Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars.
 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Hands down, The Fault in Our Stars. I had chills at several points.
Anyone who has read The Night Circus will agree that that book is the most beautiful, imaginative and delightful book to ever find. 
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 
I have two books. Firstly, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is about a trio of young people on their life growing up where they know their destiny. They are cloned and raised in order to be organ donors to whomever they are cloned from. They can have relationships but there is nothing in it - they can never marry, have children or anything. It was something so shocking that stuck with me for some unknown reason. 
Yes, I sound like a broken record but The Fault in Our Stars deals with a subject close to my heart - which is a new addition this year. At the start of the year and upon reading this, I knew no-one with cancer. By the end of 2012, I know 3 people, one of which has sadly passed away. So the adventures and events with The Fault in Our Stars have made a profound impact on myself more than others I would believe. Also, that book made me cry. And books never do that to me. 
 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 
1)  Why did I wait like 7/8 years to read the Uglies series?
2) What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen - Rebecca, you should have whacked that one out as soon as it came through the letterbox!
 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 
Oh god. 
This is the time in your life when you should be able to fly free. If something doesn't suit you, or work out right, you jump to the next. It's one of the beautiful things of being young'
- Knee Deep by Jolene Perry
'That's the thing about demands to be felt'
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves'
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

'Well don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear'
- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - I was actually laughing so much.

'Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn't stop for anybody'
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

'A world of nevers under a never sky'
- Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Nothing really to do with the survey but I thought it was
book related!

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 
Shortest: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - only 30 pages long, so perfect for English coursework!
Longest: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver with 470 pages
 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
I have way too many.

A) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - THE ENDING. Just the ending. I think anyone who has been fortunate enough to read this amazing book will understand me. How you feel the novel is going at the beginning of the novel is completely different to the end.

B) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - WHERE DID THAT ENDING COME FROM?

C) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - When a certain person (or persons) is killed near the end of the novel, I was in shock. Why them? What's happening? Just so beautifully unexpected.

D) Delirium by Lauren Oliver - ENDING. OH MY.

E) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - Those that have read this book (which is now one of my favourites), when you find FINALLY about Rebecca's death and the mystery and deceit surrounded that, wow, you're in for a shocker. 
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
I can never choose JUST one can I?

A) Dash and Lily from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - This is so cute and they are so cute for making the book of dares. Oh Lily. No, OH DASH.

B) Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars - Just so lovely. So heartbreaking and lovely.

C) Mclean and Dave from What Happened to Goodbye - Are any Sarah Dessen characters ever not lovely?

D) Celia and Marco from The Night Circus - BEST COUPLE EVER. Oh...
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
At risk of sounding like a broken record, I would say The Fault in Our Stars. BUT NO.

I would say Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen. Although Bright Young Things (first in the series) wasn't as good as the absolute beauty and glamour that was The Luxe series, Beautiful Days definitely had something close for me. 
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
The Night Circus. I hadn't seen many reviews for this, mostly because it's an adult fiction novel. But when my friend Georgia made me take her copy of the book insisting that I would like it and after leaving it alone on my bookshelf for months, I was so surprised when I finally read it. It is an absolutely amazingly beautiful book and one of the books I will constantly recommend to anyone at work. 

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2012? 
I'm not going to be able to pin it on one. I'M SORRY.
2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2012? 
I really enjoyed writing my review for Cinder by Marissa Meyer a lot actually. I'm not sure why, I think it's because it just flowed really well and I didn't take days and days to write it. I also love the first paragraph of my review for What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen when I just justify why she is a favourite of mine. 
3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I think for me, the best discussion was about the role of blogging on a blogger's life and how people try and fit everything in. Have a look at it here.
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
I can't remember what blog it was (let me know in the comments if you do know!) but I remember earlier in the year having a discussion on a blog about the whole thing that happened with The Story Siren. For the record, it was about not The Story Siren herself, but the blogosphere's reaction to it and some of the hurtful comments many bloggers contributed. I'm still in shock of the lack of community the blogosphere had at that time, I believe that she did apologise and was sorry for what she did. But that's a whole other question. 
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Wellll....I did meet Patrick Ness again this year which was amazing.

Please ignore the absolute beauty that is me at that
moment. I was so hot and been awake since like

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
I've had so many this year actually and I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, really. 
For any bookish person, when you get tweeted or get a comment from an author you love, I think every blogger has a little happy dance they play out to themselves. This year I've received comments/tweets from Marie-Louise Jensen, Caroline Lawrence, H.M.Castor, Keris Stainton, Sarah Crossan, Lisa Stasse (who also sent me her book all the way from America!) among others. 
It was also so lovely to be sent books by Atom (Thank you Madeline) including Under the Never Sky and The Diviners - two hot and popular books on the blogosphere.
And then of course, some of the comments that show that people do love and enjoy my blog. I have over 100 followers now and that thought makes me smile so much. 

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Weirdly, it was by review for The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
MANY. Hm, no, the posts without any comments at all could do with some love being given to them. 
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
My love for Waterstones after working there for the whole of 2012. That place radiates book love. 

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Both the Historical Fiction and British Books Challenge! I also wanted to read over 50 books and I beat that by 14% according to Goodreads so I'm pretty happy with that. Next year, I doubt I will be so lucky but I'm going to aim for around 70/80 books in a year. 

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
Hah, so so many. The two books that I think need to feel the love are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (bought in early 2011) and Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada (bought in summer 2011)
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
The Moon and More, the new Sarah Dessen book being released next year. I am going to be obsessively checking for a UK release date for that one!
3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
As I said last year for this question, I'm quite happy to be still doing what I'm doing now. I have a number of amazing and scary things happening in 2013 - A2 exams (ie the BIG ones), my 18th birthday, results day and then going to university and living for the first time alone without my parents so I just hope I can keep the blog going until then, I think it would be a real comfort and escape for whatever may be happening in my life.
Oh and 200 followers this time next year wouldn't be too shabby!

The Girl in the Mask - Marie-Louise Jensen

I've been a fan of Marie-Louise Jensen for a while now since I bought her previous historical fiction novel, The Lady in the Tower (review), on a whim to gain a 3 for 2 at Waterstones. I read it a few years ago and loved it!
I re-read it earlier in the year which just reminded me of how much I love her writing - I loved the romance, the mystery and just she writes very good historical fiction.
So when I heard about this being released at the beginning of the year, I was definite about getting this once it was published. Which I did. And then left it for months until I read it.
I read this a few weeks ago so I'm writing this review from memory therefore some details may be wrong (let me know!) or a bit vague. Sorry!

Synopsis: Sophia is used to living in her large house along with her cousin while her father, part of the gentry, travels in the West Indies. However, on his return, he becomes determined to get Sophia married off as soon as possible. The family, with Sophia's recently widowed aunt, travel to Bath for the summer season to make a new life. By day Sophia is trapped in the patriarchal society where young ladies must behave in a certain way at the various social masquerades, balls and afternoons. However, after befriending a girl of lower class to Sophia, she swaps ball gowns for breeches and turns to highway robbery in order to gain money for a sense of freedom. When one gentleman begins to take a rather keen interest in Sophia's life, Sophia realises she needs to be careful in order to protect her secret life and herself.

Review: The way the synopsis was written made me assumed this book was a little like Sovay by Celia Rees of a young lady in 1700's society who was the epitome of a young lady by day and then pretending to be a man at night and robbing coaches in an act of rebellion. As a warning, I found that this was kind of wrong for this novel, I think it was better the way it was done but the blurb does give another impression in my opinion.

At the start of this novel, I was a little unsure of what I would think by the end. I'm not sure why, the beginning definitely puts you in the middle of Sophia's life and right at the beginning of the main storyline. I liked the book overall, it's very readable if you wanted a dose of historical fiction in your life or something dramatic and with lots of mystery - that part was done really well. Some of the characters are, well, not who they say they are and when it 'all comes out' at the end, there are so many surprises which definitely is something to read until the end for.
The ending itself didn't seem satisfying. I liked the big ending and then the kind of after-story but I didn't feel any closure at the end which I would have liked, but I'm glad it all worked out in the end for Sophia.

Sophia herself I wasn't too fond of at the beginning. I found her rather whiny, which did come back at times throughout. However, it was great to see a strong, semi-independent female character in a historical fiction novel which does happen always. Sophia has a lot of things going on and a lot of horrible people trying to manipulate around her which made me feel rather sorry for her. Her relationship with both Jenny and Mr Charleton (ah him!) were very different but do give her some freedom and I think without this other side to Sophia, I would really not have liked her.
On the subject of characters, there are a huge array here - some that are real, others fictitious but all were very unique and brought something entertaining and interesting to the story. One of my favourites was Mr Charleton for his humour mostly which had me a few times laughing out loud - he's just so gentlemanly and witty. Jenny also brought some humour to the novel with her difference to Sophia in class. The creep of the book goes to Sophia's father who I wanted to slap. Hard. So creepy, so annoying and urgh, some of his actions were so unnecessary. No wonder Sophia is scared of him!

Although I do wish, being a lover of historical romance, that the ending and the romance itself in this book had more to it, I did Jensen's writing in this novel again. The romance could have been more enhanced but then the focus of this novel is not the romance and I'm not sure it would have fit. The ending is very ambiguous in some ways but I liked the idea that everyone has their own idea what happens after the pages are closed. There is more to this book than meets the eye and from reading the first chapter. Yes, there is all the issues of society and her family for Sophia. However, this is essentially a novel of mystery, suspense, rebellions and spies. Marie-Louise Jensen covers a period of history that I doubt has been covered in fiction before of the Jacobite risings in England when the Stuart (the family after the Tudors) heir after Charles I died was deposed and claimed by his daughter, Mary to rule equally with her Dutch husband, William. Which a lot of English didn't like hence the references to rebellions throughout the novel. I've never studied this period of history but after finishing this novel, I have to admit I was quite intrigued to find out more.

Overall, this novel is very good for those that enjoy historical fiction. For me, it was nothing like The Lady in the Tower, one of my favourite books, but I still enjoyed this book nonetheless for the mystery, drama and the writing. I totally felt like I could imagine Bath as it is described (quite unfavourably interestingly) and I liked reading about Sophia's double life. This is a good novel despite some of the mediocre reviews and was a lovely, enjoyable read while I was  little ill.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 311
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Challenges: BBC, Historical Fiction

Sunday, 16 December 2012

On My Bookshelf (31)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea



- Summerset Abbey by T.J.Brown - This is the first book in a new trilogy following three girls in 1900's England. After seeing a few reviews of this book, it seems like the kind of historical fiction I enjoy: teenage girl in society, their struggles - this seems like a mix of The Luxe and Downton Abbey. I've started it already and I can already see some references to Downton...

- Geek Girl by Holly Smalle - I think any girl in their teens that has ever been called a geek (*raises hand*) should read this by the sounds of it. It sounded very good (a little like The Look I thought?) and I loved the cover. I also saw a tweet from Ciceley from Ciceley Loves Books that she was loving it for the humour which sold me a little bit. 

Also, I have been doing some reading (finally) mostly because so far in the last week I've had three days off sick with a bad cold, aches and sore throat (I'm a real mess) but that's good because it gives me an excuse to sit in bed and read ALL DAY. Which I never have a chance to do normally. So reviews are coming up (at some unknown point) for these two books. WATCH OUT.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Authors I discovered in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. 

I haven't done one of these for a while but after seeing the topic, it seemed quite simple and a nice way to reflect over my reading throughout the year. Also I had some time to kill with a Blogger app on my phone and in traffic coming home from college. Always helps.

1. David Levithan - Sure I'd heard of this man and of how great his writing was, especially the references to being like John Green. However I only discovered his books this year reading Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (co-written with Rachel Cohn), The Lover's Dictionary and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-written with the wonderful John Green). I love his writing - it's quirky and really is a voice of teenagers.
In 2013, I'm looking forward to reading Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

2. Marissa Meyer - I absolutely loved so so much Meyer's novel Cinder - retelling of Cinderella. And the ideas for the rest of the series sound so so good. Can't wait to see what she publishes in 2013
In 2013, I'm looking forward to reading Scarlet (on my Christmas list...)

3. Lauren Oliver - I'd been aware of the presence of Oliver on the blogosphere and how much many people loved her writing. However, it wasn't until I stumbled upon Delirium in the library and became intrigued by her stand-alone novel, Before I Fall that made me finally see what the fuss was about.
In 2013, I'm looking forward to reading Pandemonium, the sequel to Delirium.

4. Jennifer. E. Smith - I started reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight both a little cynical and desperate for some romance. And I got it - not the perfect book for me but I still enjoyed this lovely whimsical book that oh, take me travelling?

5. Daphne Du Maurier - I read Rebecca because a) you know my name right? and b) I needed to read a Gothic text for a summer assignment for English Lit and this is classed as a modern Gothic Literature text. I was expecting something not so good, a little boring, hard to understand but I was so surprised when I finished Rebecca. It's a beautiful, slightly haunting book that harks back to an era that I wish I could have lived in. And the suspense! Oh my, read it!

6. Erin Morgenstern - The Night Circus is one of the most loveliest and whimsical books I have ever read that left me speechless of the amazingness of this novel. I was blown away, seriously, by the writing, the settings and just the magic that springs of the paper as you read. Morgenstern, write some more books like this!

Monday, 10 December 2012

When Did Blogging Become Cool?

There was a time, at the beginning of the creation of Rebecca-Books, when if someone I knew personally followed me on Twitter, the blog or even just mentioned the blog in passing conversation, I would have filled with embarrassment, trying to steer the conversation away from THAT topic while cringing to myself.
Now, although I'm not the type of person to tell anyone and everyone that I do in fact run a blog, I'm not so pressurised into hiding the fact I have one and certainly, am more open in what I blog about.
I remember a friend in my old Media class last year. She'd found out I had Twitter and wanted to add me. I remember coming out with this explanation of why my username was Rebecca-Books, why there was a URL and why on the 'About Me' page there was a big fat picture of myself. Having confined in my friend of the blog, I was on the verge of expecting a weird look, a furrow of the eyebrow and then an 'okay then...' and that would be the end of our short friendship.
So when she said 'Oh really? That's so cool!' I have to admit I was little dubstruck. Hang on, roll back time, did she just freaking say that a blog was cool? Not just any blog, a BOOK blog. Although now, some readers could be like 'Urgh, why is she so obsessed over the idea that having a book blog is weird?' Well, from personal experience, being a teenager, the idea of openly loving books as much as I do is classed as a no-no in the rule of adolenscene. Even now.

When I was 15/16, in my 'form time' I didn't talk to anyone. I was THAT girl. The one in the corner trying to amuse herself for those dreadful 20 minutes each day. The one that would listen into conversations around her. The one that would be the first to volunteer to somehow get out of that misery. I had friends, sure, but just not in my 'form' class. So when I came up with the idea of being a book and reading in that time and wow, people were amazed that I did that. There was this one girl who I wouldn't have thought liked books or reading but every time I had a new book, she'd always ask me about it, with what I think was a genuine interest. Anyway, I was known as a 'neek' then anyway so this just enhanced that. So that was a full-on experience how reading is associated with geekiness and being a little bit weird.

And so was blogs. Or so I thought. Remember all those TV programmes with the science/math geek who always had a blog, they would say 'I need to put this on my blog'. It just seemed like something people with (and sorry for the stereotype) glasses, braces, fizzy bad hair, bad social skills and amazing at like everything would have. Which is probably why I think I joined (I think anyway) just before BC (Blog Coolness) arrived, waaay back in 2010. I remember having the reaction I described above at the end of Year 11, beginning of Year 12 when a few friends found out about the blog.
So where am I going with this?

Well. While perusing through the latest Company magazine and hearing that the next issue is about the 'Super Bloggers', it struck me that people think blogging is a really really cool thing to do now. Flocks of girls from my college will rush to get this new Company magazine, get a subscription to a magazine that has suddenly focussed on becoming a blogger. It sort has become any blogger's bible to how to be successful like many other bloggers before them. Why the sudden amazement in bloggers? Well, look at some of THE fashion bloggers - Susie Bubble, Bipling, Carrie from WishWishWish - they've almost become huge celebrities in their own right, most teenagers know who they are, they feature alongside Hollywood actresses and models in fashion magazines and they have a lot of influence in the fashion world. It's amazing really that they were able to achieve that from doing something that they love plus something that was always associated with being uncool and geeky.

So I'm talking more about fashion bloggers making blogging cool these days but we have to have a look at book bloggers too. What blogger hasn't heard of The Story Siren? Or The Broke and the Bookish? They were like some of the first blogs I found. At work, I look at the reviews and praise section at the front of books and more often now, I see book bloggers quotes from a review - a lot of the time blogs that I follow myself. I remember times when this praise would be 'James Smith from The Telegraph' (made-up by the way) saying now amazing said book was. But now, when I see a quote from 3 or 4 blogs I love? I'm actually more inclined to want to read the book due to THEIR enthusiasm for said book. I know I've said this but I'm just in awe of how blogging has evolved from 2010 when I started Rebecca-Books. Now, there's so many people out there blogging about anything and everything and everyone's like 'Sure, that's cool!' when in 2010, the weird looks would be piled high in my direction.

One last point I think that has made blogging so cool and hip in the invention of Tumblr. Now, I think those that count Tumblr as a blog are wrong. Blogging is typing and writing your thoughts on life, books, fashion - whatever. Not posting countless pictures that are just pretty or mean something to you. IT'S NOT BLOGGING (as you can see I have personal opinions on this issue).
So nearly every teenager has a Tumblr and those that don't at least know what it is, or is supposed to be. It is a way to express yourself and it is this obsession or interest in doing so in a creative way that has really I think made blogging that much cooler. Tumblr is for those that are cool anyway (apparently...) or at least associated with those types of people so with these so called 'cool people' 'blogging' then everyone's like 'Wait, blogging's a good thing? GREAT'. It's something to think about, the way that's happened without anyone noticing really.

And that concludes my rant or discussion, whatever you would like to call it. I'm so glad that I don't have to feel embarrassed or flustered to have a blog as much as I did at the beginning of my blogging career but I do think sometimes we need to step back and think about wonder why these attitudes have changed, in teenagers at least.
I'm Rebecca, I'm 17 years-old and I run a book blog. And am proud.
Over and Out.

(Let me know what you think on this topic, I'm interested to hear!)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

British Book Challenge 2013

This is a challenge that I have participated in since it started in 2011, originally founded by Becky from The Bookette. In 2012, it came Kirsty from The overflowing library to lead the British Books Challenge for it's second year. And now, for 2013, Sarah from Feeling Fictional to take her turn and run the challenge.

Being a British blogger, sometimes I think we as readers don't appreciate the origins of a book we're reading. Most of the time, I don't realise that the author is American, English, Australian, Scottish - wherever. It's not something we think about. That's why I love this challenge - it really opens people's eyes to the fact that some amazing authors are in fact British.

If you would like to sign up yourself, click here for more information and to sign up


The challenge is to read as many books as you wish that are written by British authors. For the last couple of years, I've read over 12 books that were by British authors (which is a bit pathetic really considering I am from England!) so I'm going for 20 books in 2013. If I clear my TBR pile, that could count for at last half so...

Here are some books that I hope to FINALLY read this year:
1. Velvet - Mary Hooper
2. The Girl in the Mask - Marie-Louise Jensen
3. Arabella - Georgette Heyer
4. Girl, Missing - Sophie McKenzie
5. A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson
6. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher
7. A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
8. The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson
9. Changeling - Philippa Gregory
10. The Killables - Gemma Malley

Books Read that Contribute to Challenge (links to reviews):

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Looking back at OCTOBER and NOVEMBER

Previous months: 



I didn't get round to doing one of these 'Looking Back' posts for October because of the many posts I needed to write up in half term and when I came back from Rome so this is a combined one for the last two months.

Where has it all gone? In May, I was thinking how long it was taking to get to the summer. But then suddenly it was September and then November and now it's the 1st December?! The last few months have been incredibly busy and stressful trying to juggle both my personal life, working life and my college life as well as managing a blog. So I decided to make blogging less stressful and demanding because to be honest, it was starting to be a hassle, and make my blogging life less constricted and having to post every few days. It's been nice to think that I don't have to rush through a novel I'm enjoying to write a review. I can read in my own time.

This month's most significant development was the offers from all 5 universities I have applied to study at next September. These are: Bournemouth, Anglia Ruskin (in Cambridge), Oxford Brookes, Winchester and Goldsmiths (part of University of London) to do a Media and Communications degree. While some of my friends are being rejected, stressing over the long wait until January in order to find out their places, I feel quite proud I was able to get into all five within about 20 days of sending my application. I had 3 places before UCAS had even sent my Welcome Letter!


Also Read: 
Alice in Wonderland (movie tie-in)
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D.Salinger
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman (for college)

Some personal favourites that I will ALWAYS recommend at work in the future are The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Breathe and Never Let Me Go. I really enjoyed these books, especially Breathe and Never Let Me Go, the latter I felt I couldn't write a justified review for but if you have a copy, read it, it's fantastic!
The Yellow Wallpaper was a huge surprise for me. I read an extract in my English Lit class and when we had to choose a book to compare with Wide Sargasso Sea for our coursework, it seemed like a good choice. It's such a short story (30 pages) yet so much can be said about it. So if you want a short read, go for this one - little bit weird in places but remember she's mad!



Thursday, 29 November 2012

Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend - Cora Harrison (#2)

Although this is the second book by Cora Harrison based on the diary of Jenny Cooper, a close cousin to Jane Austen, I think it could be read independently without the first novel, I was Jane Austen's Best Friend (see my review).
I bought and read the first book on a bit of a whim - wanting an easy read. Nothing too tough. But actually really enjoyed it! So I got the second book...and have only just got around to reading it.
Since acquiring this novel, I have also read the first book in Cora Harrison's new series named Debutantes (my review), which I would also recommend!
Cora Harrison has to be one of my favourite historical fiction writers as well as Anna Godbersen and Mary Hooper among MANY so I was quite pleased to be starting this book and finally finding out the ending to Jenny's story.

Synopsis: The effects of Jenny Cooper met, fell in love and was then proposed to by the lovely Captain Thomas Williams are both joyful and threatening to their future happiness with a number of obstacles between their love becoming official in marriage. Meanwhile, Jane Austen - Jenny's cousin and closest friend - has her own ideas to find romance. Jane's wild imagination is looking for a dashing, handsome and brave young man - but the males of Steventon don't particular match that fantasy. Soon, Jenny and Jane go to Bath to visit their aunt and uncle and are shown a world of romance, dancing and elegance as well as a few scandals along the way. Soon Jane has a number of admirers wanting her attention and is at risk of being the talk of the town for the wrong reasons...

Review: I have to admit that I constantly cringe whenever I type/write/say the title of this book - it's jokey, yes, but if I had not sampled Cora Harrison's novels before, this would not be a to-read for me.
This is the perfect book for those that are big Jane Austen fans like myself. Although I've only read Pride and Prejudice, I love the plot, the manners and the elegance of her time and also just Jane Austen herself too. This is also the perfect read for those fans to sit on a rainy afternoon in bed with chocolate and coffee and just enjoy the afternoon. Because of the simplicity of this novel, I loved reading it late at night or very early in the morning - it was easy to engross yourself in and to understand.

The story is told from Jenny's point of view. As Harrison says in the Author's Note at the back (which is so interesting to have a read of what is true or not), Jenny's real name was Jane but changed for the purposes of having another Jane in the story. I've always loved Jenny - she's very lovely, gentle and kind yet quite strong-headed and understands what is happening around her. Unlike sometimes young girls of the time are portrayed, neither Jane nor Jenny I found extremely silly and I felt very attached to their future happiness throughout the novel. Jenny at the beginning of the book is engaged to a naval officer  Thomas - another rather lovely character. However, they are refused permission by her brother due to his wife's jealousy for the match. Thomas is vacant for the majority of the book as he goes on a trip with his crew. I loved seeing the genuine sadness from Jenny at his leaving - it just made it lovely to read.

What I absolutely loved about this book (and the series) is the references to Jane Austen's literature. There are quotes that Jane gives to Jenny to put in her diary that after a quick Google, I realised are from Jane Austen novels. The characters and plot have a certain Jane Austen-esque to them. Jane Austen reminded me so much of Elizabeth Bennet and Thomas as Mr Darcy which for a big Jane Austen fan like myself, it's lovely to see the thought put into the novel through this references.

The plot of the book is never boring, with a number of sub-plots happening that keep you as a reader guessing until the very end. I enjoyed the structure of the novel as a diary written by Jenny that really allowed me to get to know her character once again and sympathise with her. The writing is very informal and not at all like the Regency language we associate with Jane Austen, but I liked this aspect of it - it makes this an easier more enjoyable read.
I loved the simplicity of this novel, the modern language, the understandable plot and the lovely unique characters. This novel may should very modern but the key aspects of the 1700s are still present - the etiquette  the clothes, the manners, the dancing - all written clearly and in a way that made it so easy to imagine.

Despite the isolated moments where I had to cringe (starting with the title), I think this novel is best for those that want an easy read for whatever reason that may be. This was perfect to read late at night and very early in the morning when I didn't want to read anything too heavy. I loved the characters, the plot and the writing that made this an overall great read that has cemented Cora Harrison as one of my favourite authors.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 346
Publisher: Macmillan
Challenges: BBC, Historical Fiction

Cora Harrison's other books:
I was Jane Austen's Best Friend

If you like this, you'll also like....
Cassandra's Sister by Veronica Bennett
Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter
Love, Lies and Lizzie by Rosie Rushton

Friday, 23 November 2012

More Bookish News (Patrick Ness!)

After another busy week at college, this weekend is going to be even busier. Anyone else feel like there is literally not enough time in the day?

Today, I found out that Patrick Ness is releasing two books next year - an adult fiction and YA.
First up, his Adult Fiction book, The Crane Wife, which I believe he wrote a while ago but is publishing it now, has now got a cover and release day.
It's being released on 28th March 2013 in the UK AND AUSTRALIA. Here's the cover:

Synopsis: The extraordinary happens every day...

One night, George Duncan - decent man, a good man - is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed.

The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George's shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story.

Wise, romantic, magical and funny, The Crane Wife is a hymn to the creative imagination and a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.

Secondly, Patrick Ness announced on his website that he is releasing a YA novel entitled MORE THAN THIS next September 2013. AND. It will be published in the UK. And the US. And Australia and New Zealand ALL AT THE SAME TIME. 

So those Patrick Ness fans - whoop!
Patrick Ness is a favourite author of mine and after meeting him twice, he was really lovely. Here are my reviews of his already published books in the Chaos Walking series (which is currently being made into a movie):
The New World (#0.5)
The Knife of Never Letting Go (#1)
The Ask and the Answer (#2)
Monsters of Men (#3)


Also, a heads up that I noticed today that Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry is only 20p on Amazon! It's been one of the most talked about books on the blogosphere (here's what I thought) so worth so little. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Breathe - Sarah Crossan (#1)

It's been a while since I published a review, two weeks at least. But I have been reading constantly throughout that!
When I picked this up in my local library, I had already seen some glowing reviews on the blogosphere. Yet on reading the blurb, thinking it sounded pretty good - something I would like, there was still something nagging in me that I shouldn't read this. Was it because I have a zillion other books of my own to read? Was it that I had banned myself from going to the library so I could read those said books? Was it the books waiting to be read on my Kindle?
Who knows. Anyway, I think it's plain to see I did get this out of the library in the end. This book is new and for bloggers like me, who receive little review copies, I knew this would be one of the only chances to read a book I might end up loving FOREVER. I'm so glad I didn't go with my gut feeling.

Synopsis: Imagine the world living in a plastic bubble with oxygen being pumped in because that is the only way to survive.
Set in the future, this is what Earth has come to. The world is dead, there is little oxygen under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that discovered a way to survive, each city lives in pods, on the outskirts of the devastation and remains of cities. For Quinn, Bea and Alina, this is reality.
When Quinn proposes a camping trip outside the pod, Bea doesn't refuse. She wants to spent some time with Quinn, alone, hoping he will finally notice her. However, at the border, they run into Alina, a secret Resistance member on the run from the government. She is also the one Quinn thinks is his dream girl. The planned trip that Bea imagined is turned upside down as they learn about the secrets Breathe have been hiding.

Review: Despite my hesitated thoughts before starting this book, I actually really enjoyed it. I've read many dystopian series over the years of blogging - some are very good, some not so good, yet this book belongs in the former category.

The aspects of this novel that hooked me was both the characters and the world that Sarah Crossan expertly portrays. The idea behind Breathe is clear and something relevant to today. Although we're not on the verge of a world without trees and oxygen, the whole topic of deforestation, toilet roll companies promising to plant 3 trees for every tree they manufacture - it is all something that is considered and talked about today and that is the idea that gripped me throughout this novel. Outside the pod, the characters within Breathe go through the destruction of a town, which to me sounded a lot like London, especially the frequent mention of The Grove (which is the Arsenal football stadium) which was nice to see.

The characters are all very diverse and interesting and it is them that made the book for me. There is Alina, a lovely, feisty girl who is fighting against Breathe to try and expose them. There is also Bea, a loyal girl from the lower-class Zone 3, eager for Quinn to realise that she likes him much more than a friend. And finally, Quinn himself from Zone 1, the guy who has everything due to his father working for Breathe. He's never had to worry about oxygen, breaking rules or money, although his father is a bit of a creep. He is best friends with Bea, the one he can tell everything to, and on his unexpected meeting with Alina, he falls for her beauty and decides that she is 'the one'. For me, I found Bea the most interesting and the one that learns and develops the most out of the three. My only problem with Quinn is that I felt he could have been developed a little more - he was a little forgettable at the beginning compared to the strong characters of Bea and Alina.

The plotline was littered with surprising (and unsurprising) twists and turns. This is not a novel that you will know the ending before you reach it. There are a number of revelations that I would not have guessed at the beginning and at times I was seriously worried how the characters would get out of certain situations. Crossan certainly keeps you guessing until the final page. My only blunder would be that I felt the story was incredibly interesting and well-written from the beginning until the middle. Then, for me, there was a small section between the middle and end which I lost a little interest, got confused or just didn't enjoy it as much as the initial journey and experiences on the outside.

The ending is something that I think was done considerably well - both leaving a slight cliffhanger yet you also know where/what the characters are about to do. The ending, while sad in some ways, was also quite uplifting despite the destruction throughout the novel (once you have read it, you'll understand what I'm referring to).

The book surprised me to say the least, yet it was a good surprise. I really enjoyed this dystopian and I will definitely be reading the next in the series to find out what happens next to Alina, Bea and Quinn. Although I think Quinn could initially be developed more, I liked his bravery and persistence by the end, the same for Bea and Alina. One of the best dystopians of the year, by far.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 373
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: BBC

The next book in the series, RESIST, will be released in Autumn 2013 (TOO LONG TO WAIT)