Friday, 28 November 2014

The Bookshop Book - Jen Campbell

When I was given the chance to FINALLY read this book by the hilarious Jen Campbell (of the Weird Things People Say In Bookshops series - a series my colleagues at Waterstones used to laugh about how real some of the stories were), I was so excited to take the time out of my university assignment schedule and sit back and think back to some of the wondrous bookshops I have visited in the past. I had high expectations and this book did not fail them. 

This is the perfect book for anyone experienced the wonder of bookshops. As a book lover, a bookseller or a blogger, anyone that has become immersed in the world of a bookshop can appreciate this book for its creativity approach and just a simple chance to do a lot of fangirling. 

In a world where the bookshops we love are declining rapidly for the cheaper alternative of Amazon (which it is clear does not have the certain atmosphere and experience of a real bookshop), this book is something special and it is clearly the perfect book as the official book of the BOOKS ARE MY BAG campaign this year.
It shows how the passion for reading can manifest into endless visits to beautiful bookshops, meeting some of the world's most interesting people in a fun and engaging way. I loved reading about the books in countries I would never have considered visiting for their range of bookshops as well as finding out about some of the most recommended and quirkiest bookshops in my hometown, London, itself. 

One of my particular favourites was a second hand bookshop in Wigtown in Scotland which also happens to the National Book Town, somewhere I am now dying to go to!  These wonderful facts and figures I never knew about books and their shops now whirl around my head after reading this book waiting for that time in that pub quiz where I can utilise them (I don't think that day will come really). 

This book is now my to-do list, a book full of these brilliant places of creativity, romance and innovation all circling around my love for books. This book needs to be read by anyone that even has a small interest in reading and literature, but certainly for anyone who appreciates simply a good bookshop. Written in an informal and interesting manner and dispersed with interviews from the UK's much loved authors, THE BOOKSHOP BOOK should be on everyone's Christmas list and truly appreciated. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Moving House

Today marks Day Fourteen in our university house in Bournemouth, something quite amazing considering it feels like we've been here longer already.
I moved in last Saturday with two other of housemates on a day that was both stressful, hilarious and one I think we're going to remember for a while. Things started off as normal - packing up the car with all the things I own wondering both how one person could have SO much stuff and deliberating how on earth we're going to fit it all in the car. Then the unpacking when we're in Bournemouth, the slight soul destroying moment as you start to take apart the suitcase and box Jenga. My parents and I started sorting out my room leaving my dad to build the IKEA bookcase I had bought along.

However, somehow the day ended with me climbing through an upstairs window...

We came back from Wilkinsons after a trip for supplies and wrapping paper to find one of my housemates frantically calling our landlord before announcing that her key wouldn't unlock her door.I think many 'facepalm' moments followed this. After some calling with no avail and then an arrangement with one of our newly found neighbours, we had a ladder. It then came to the decision on who would be the one to climb through the small window and open the door from the other side. Soon I realised that three people I was standing around were looking at me and my housemate, who although her petitieness was perfect for the job, she is also scared of heights. I was the chosen one.

I've always thought how scared it could be going up that high with nothing behind you but a 10ft drop and a hard landing. As I was prepping for my climb, many thoughts ran through my head including the many injuries or at worst death I could sustain from dropping from that height, which was soon discarded from my mind.

Despite my worries and consciousness that six people were watching me from below, I was able to cast that all away and get one of my legs into the room and catapult the remainder of my body through the window onto the bed with only the lamp being knocked over in the lunge.

The last few weeks have been a mixture of getting used to living in a house with five people and debating with utilities companies on their best deals as well as enrolling and start the panicking of how we're all going to find placements for next year. It's weird being back in Bournemouth so suddenly, but now I just want to get started with my second year.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

First Year at University: Fresher's Week

As I pack my life into boxes and suitcases once again, I can't help but reflect on my first year of university, especially as I find photos and mementos from this last year. A few of my friends took a year out and are preparing for their first year now, making me feel like a veteran and mentally (and physically) preparing them for Fresher's Week.

As someone who, a year ago, would seize up in fear and anxiety at the idea of going to a nightclub with a load of people I don't know, Fresher's Week (or fortnight as it is at Bournemouth) was a little different for me. I tried to go out the first main night of the fortnight. I went to pre-drinks (essentially when most of the drinking happens while socialising until it is an acceptable time to go to the club i.e. like 11pm/12am) which was really nice, meeting a few people in my halls including two girls that I'm moving in with this year! Things were looking up, although I felt entirely overdressed, my evenings out normally involving going for dinner or up to London. I also made the vital mistake and brought a bag with me because I was wearing a skirt (top tip: bags + club = annoying). I joined my flatmates to walk to the Old Fire Station, Bournemouth's Student Union nightclub. Some people went ahead because they paid for wristbands while I got the freebie one. I was standing in the queue with one of my new flatmates, who I had known a mere 24 hours at the point, who was also on the borderline 'I won't remember this' drunk, surrounded by people who I had no idea in hell who they were but they all looked really happy, really comfortable, really attractive - like they were at home. Me? I felt as far from that as humanly possible. I was so out of my comfort zone and felt this fear seeping into me like I felt when I first went to house parties or when someone approaches me in the street. I just felt like I needed to get out of there, there were too many people, too much noise, too many lights. I just wasn't ready for this yet.

So I left. I left my drunk flatmate in the queue (I still feel bad, I *think* he has forgiven me now), I left behind the other two flatmates who were already inside and I just walked around the corner to my halls and left. I have some regrets for doing that, but in all honesty, I really wasn't ready or comfortable in that situation and needed a way out. When I got home, I expected the other two flatmates I left behind to have gone to bed, found some other friends, just enjoying themselves without me, thinking I was the type that wanted to go out all the time. However, I found them on their laptops in our kitchen having a chat and bonding. I walked in and they looked so surprised, I just explained I needed to get out of there and they nodded knowingly and told me to join them. I felt comfortable at last.

That was pretty much my only example of going out in Fresher's Week. We went out again a week later for one of my flatmate's birthday, but it was a Saturday (worse day to go) and in a club where we all agreed was not the best place ever. So how did I spend my evenings in Freshers?
Mostly playing card games, bonding with my new friends and flatmates, watching films and just generally getting to know each other. In some ways I wish I went out more, but I wasn't ready and I'm glad I didn't.
By the second semester I was ready however, and had some of the best nights in various clubs in Bournemouth or at flat parties. I still know my limits and I would so much rather sit at home, under a duvet watching a film with some of my favourite people or spend the money you spend on alcohol on a dinner out at a nice restaurant.

I guess I'm saying that although everyone is different, it's okay not to go out. You will find someone who also doesn't want to. The best thing about university is that everyone accepts each other whether you're a geek, straight, gay, a karate king - whatever. No-one cares. I found two people on my doorstep who didn't want to go out all the time, however, friends have found ones next door, over the road or on their course. Even if all your flatmates want to go out all the time, as long as they accept that you don't want to necessarily, that's fine. And anyway, after the first month, everyone has too big a hangover to go out every day, so that hardly happens despite student stereotypes.

(I started writing about my first year and it sort of turned into a rant about Freshers...)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

From Spain to Bristol

The last few weeks have been a little bit of a whirlwind as I've been dashing here, there and everywhere while seeing numerous people and enjoying the last remaining bit of the summer. Now that September has rolled in though, it's full steam ahead to sort out the house that five friends and myself are moving into in the next few weeks while fitting in time for IKEA and Wilkinsons trips and seeing my friends staying in London. It's all been a bit crazy!

Last week I came back from a short break with my parents and university friend to Spain where we soaked up the sun, swam a lot and ate probably five times the amount I normally eat. We were given a shock back to reality though when leaving the plane at Gatwick, however, and experiencing a chilly 15 degrees compared to the 37 degrees we had left behind. 

My friend was staying with us for a few more days before returning home which involved some relaxing but also an epic, long day in Central London. I experienced the Emirates Air Line for the first time, something we both have wanted to do since it was built in 2012. It goes from North Greenwich by the O2 to Royal Victoria by the Excel Centre in East London. I was amazed by how high it went actually across the Thames, giving brilliant and beautiful views of Greenwich, the City, the Thames Barrier and the surrounding area. It was quite surreal being high up and seeing such a built up, grey city on one side and then the rolling hills of the countryside in Essex on the other. I recommend it, just go on a clear and sunny day!

We met up with some of my friends from school and their university friends before sampling tea from a lovely little tea shop in Soho named Yumchaa and nattering about our opinions on the new Doctor Who, chopping boards and the ultimate revelation that Hello Kitty is not a cat, but apparently a schoolgirl living in the suburbs of London. 

Next, we had a wander through Regent's Park before finding ourselves in Camden to go to the penultimate 'Night Market' at Camden Lock - a massive market of freshly made food from different countries accompanied by a live band, exactly the kind of way I like to spend my evenings. It was a nice round off to the day and the food was delicious with a good 10 minutes before I could decide my choice of dinner. 

To round off last week, I then travelled to Bristol to visit my boyfriend who was house and cat sitting. Bristol is a city I've been told so much about but only visited once. I was shown some more sights such as Cabot Tower which gives beautiful views of the city and then, Bristol Museum. With every visit to Bristol, I'm increasingly liking the city more and more, wanting to discover more parts. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Hibiscus Tea

Way back in May (which seems centuries ago on this rainy August morning), I bought some celebratory proper herbal tea from a little tea shop just off Covent Garden as a 'Yes, you got through exams' present to myself. It's only recently since the weather has changed once again that I decided to bring out the Hibiscus tea to try!

I discovered hibiscus tea when I visited a tea shop near me that has probably every tea you can possibly think of, where I always have blackcurrant and hibiscus. Although I don't drink tea normally, I am a fan of fruity or different teas especially anything with blackcurrant or cranberry in. Hibiscus is known for its properties that help with blood pressure, stress and generally good for the heart - all things I think my body would appreciate!

I bought loose tea, therefore, a tea strainer was needed. I bought mine in the shape of a strawberry for £3 in a funky home shop in London named 'Tiger'. Once putting the water in, I left the strainer in for the recommended maximum 10 minutes as I prefer strong tea. I would recommend NOT to do that with loose tea now, as it was a little bit too strong for me when I got round to drink it.

I've found that about 5 or 6 minutes is perfect for this tea, although it depends a lot on the strength of flavour of the tea and what someone personally prefers, much like the different ways people take their tea and coffee on a daily basis. This tea is lovely, something nice after dinner or on a cold afternoon. I'm going to be going to the Tea House in Covent Garden again to try some more of their flavours!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Moment Before - Suzy Vitello

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 216

Synopsis: Sisters, Brady and Sabine Wilson are sisters born eleven months apart. However, despite their closeness in age, they are entirely different to one another. Sabine is popular, the head cheerleader with a popular boyfriend. Brady is alternatively artsy, quieter and fades frequently into the shadows of her older sister.
All is turned upside down when Sabine dies in a horrific cheerleading accident and Brady's life is suddenly full of heartbreak and grief. The only person she finds who can help her find out exactly what happened around Sabine's death is the guy, Connor, everyone blames for her death.

Review: My first thought after I read the first few pages was 'Oh, well this has been done before'. With a synopsis similar to that of Undone by Cat Clarke, Saving June by Hannah Harrington and The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher, I was expected a tale of grief, anger, infidelity and ultimately, revenge.

However, I was at once drawn into the story particularly to Brady and her quest to find out the back story in the wake of her sister's death ending in suddenly finishing this book within a couple of days. While many of these kind of novels focus on suicide and revenge, this account was largely far more accurate in Brady's curiousity of the circumstances of the death as well as illustrating a family that is entirely broken yet haven't given up on the hope that they can get over this all.

I loved the way THE MOMENT BEFORE was written with this harsh, unemotional and critical narrative from Brady that truly describes one way in which people can deal with grief. While her fellow school friends are celebrating her sister's life and achievements, she is critical of the memorials they set up which ultimately perhaps will not be lasting. I just loved how real the narrative sounded. While the characters are typical characters in this genre, Brady's negativity and cynicism just brought another touch of realness and enjoyment for me.

I was loving this book, until I reached the end. For me, the ending was a real let down. I got to about 95% through the book and started to wonder how on earth this was going to end in that last 5%. Once I reached the last page, I realised how. The ending is entirely too melodramatic, too quick and rushed. It felt like Vitello felt there needed to be this massive conclusion, that seemed completely out of character to me, to complete the whole circle of the narrative yet this needed to be done quickly and not describing entirely that well in comparison to the whole novel. Considering I liked the book because of its touch of reality shed over this situation, I felt so disappointed and confused that she chose to have an ending that contrasted so drastically to the rest of the novel. If the book was largely dramatic, this ending would have fitted but this book was far from that and that's what made it so brilliant in my eyes. As I read in a review in Goodreads, there were so many questions suddenly and it seemed that most of actions in the ending were out of character for the characters involved. This may have been done on purpose, but I don't think it was needed.

Overall, THE MOMENT BEFORE is largely enjoyable despite the fact its the kind of narrative done frequently before. I didn't find it repetitive. It wasn't all about suicide, death and grief. While that was a small element of the story, this book is so much more and a nice addition to this genre.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Monday, 11 August 2014

Octavia's Bookshop, Cirencester

Last weekend, I headed to Swindon to visit one of my friends at university along with two other university friends. It was really nice to be all together again, laughing and insulting one another much like we do back in Bournemouth as well as planning our new house, which I'm moving into for the second year with these guys and two other friends.

While we were there, we took a trip to Cirencester, a lovely little Cotswold town in Gloucestershire, which reminded me of a smaller version of Bath. We had a wander around the independent, cute shops and along the cobble streets until we settled in a cafe named He Says, She Waffles which basically sells sweet or savoury waffles in every combination you could think of. I settled for smoked salmon and cream cheese waffle, which was delicious and so reasonable at only £5.

However, it was on our wander through the streets back to the car that we discovered one of the prettiest, friendliest bookshops I've come across in a while. Octavia's Bookshop is in one of the back streets, and specialises in children's books but also provides a selection of adult and reference books.

I recommended my friend to read Sarah Dessen so she bought ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen while I found a posh student cookbook with some really yummy looking recipes which I wanted to try. We approached the till and were instantly met by two booksellers who were so friendly and lovely to talk to, it seemed like they knew exactly what they were talking about when another customer asked which they would recommend between two books she liked the look of. 

When my friend bought her Sarah Dessen book, she pointed in my direction when the bookseller said she would recommend it too so commenced out little geek out about how we both loved her writing, it was so good to speak to someone else who agreed wholeheartedly with why I love Dessen's writing. 
I noticed they had some 'Books Are My Bag' bags hanging about, something I wanted to join in for ages since the launch day last year which also happened to be the same day I moved to university. So, this was my chance to buy one and join in. However, when I asked about buying one, I was surprised by given one for free. So I am now the proud and delighted owner of a 'Books Are My Bag', a fact I kept repeating throughout the rest of the day.

Throughout my experience in Octavia's Bookshop, something was niggling at the back of my head that I recgonised the name of the shop. It wasn't until I was having my geek out at the till that I noticed that last year, Octavia's Bookshop was the winner of The Bookseller Best Independent Children's Bookseller. I remember reading a spread about the shop in The Bookseller in a lunch break when I worked at Waterstones and thinking of how lovely a bookshop it sounded to visit. 

Octavia's Bookshop is the type of bookshop I love coming across - a diverse selection, enthusiastic and knowledgeable booksellers and just a great atmosphere. It's the type of bookshop I live to find in unexpected points in life and I hope to visit again. It makes me realise how we need more bookshops like this, yet there seem to be decreasing instead of increasing. When we left the shop, one of my friends exclaimed "I swear every time we visit a bookshop, Rebecca makes a friend". And that is what every bookshop for book lovers should be like...

Octavia's Bookshop, Cirencester

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 408
Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis: In the small town of Carp, a game is played every year by the graduated seniors because it's summer and there is nothing else better to do. Heather has watched the dangerous game, Panic, most years but never thought she'd enter until she finds something to play for. Dodge, however, always wanted to play Panic, a quest he wishes to fulfil by making his way entirely through the game - whatever the cost. The game will form new alliances, new rivalries and create and destroy secrets. Everyone is playing the game for a reason, they just cannot afford to panic.

When I finished PANIC and sat down to write down a few thoughts on the book so I could create some kind of post that looked like a review, I came to a realisation.
I started by writing about its comparison to other Lauren Oliver books I have read. For me, this book didn't seem to slog on and on like I found some of Oliver's books doing. Neither did I feel like there was way too much poetic prose that sometimes felt showed more her brilliant writing ability rather than adding to the narrative. I felt I got more into this book than her other ones and perhaps hooked quicker on the narrative in comparison to her other books.

Then, I started to think about my reaction after reading and my reaction to finding out the premise of the novel. I went to a Lauren Oliver signing early last year when she was in the middle of writing PANIC. She described it as 'teenagers taking part in a deadly game'. As Hunger Games was at the height of its popularity at this point, the whole idea reminded me of the dangerous Hunger Games, especially as Lauren Oliver's previous books I've read have steered more towards dystopian than contemporary.

This is when the realisation dawned on me that apart from those sentiments, I did not really have much else to say about this book. I liked this book, but I didn't love it and I didn't dislike it. In a word, it was 'okay'. The more I thought about it, the less I had to add to my thoughts on this book. It stood out for me because it was something different, an edgy contemporary not like other books seen out there, however, not a book that I would remember time and time again. The characters are well-developed and unique mostly due to the length of the book allowing that to happen, however, it did make the main narrative - the game, Panic - draw out, sometimes a little bit too much. I liked the writing and I liked how Oliver approached it following two very different teenagers, Dodge and Heather, who also have far more similarities than meets the eye.

I did enjoy this book, I did like the edginess and the uniqueness of the narrative. However, it was predictable and not the more memorable or be a book I will keep coming back to. PANIC is a great novel and in the game itself to deal with some of the social issues teenagers deal with on a daily basis and it was engaging and slightly addictive to read as I wanted to see how the game panned out. But, although it was nice to see Oliver write a more contemporary novel, it did have some flaws.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Monday, 4 August 2014

Final Decisions on Blogging

After a couple of months of umm-ing and arr-ing about my blog and talking about it with all the close people I have in my life, I think I've finally made a decision about this blog.

From my first year in university, it's clear that I cannot keep up blogging on a permanently becoming a blogger that is thinking more and more about the followers I've generated in recent years rather than myself. It's clear that thinking more about yourself in blogging is better and more motivating than any follower list. If you think my blog posts have been sparse, the books I have finished throughout the last year is a bit shocking in comparison and it's something that both comes with being a university student as well as being incredibly frustrating for a bookworm such as myself.

I want to read the books I want to read without thinking about what everyone else thinks of the book. I'm also 19, going on 20 in six months time. As much as YA is still a part of my reading, the sheer reality is that I've grown up and sometimes adults books sound far more appealing than YA. I have been putting off Wolf Hall because of all the YA books I have on my shelf that need reading that my blog will benefit from more.

I'm also a university student, where while reading is a definite part of that, it's definitely not the only thing in my life as it used to be. I love cooking, I love tea and coffee, I love clothes, I love TV, I love my friends, I love London, books are not my only love anymore and it's time to create a place where I can express that.

The second year at university is going to be tough and for someone who handles stress badly, I want somewhere to escape to, to look back in a years time for a documentation of the best and worst parts of university. In the upcoming year, I'm becoming even more independent moving into a house with five of the best people I've met over the course of my first year, I'm a mentor for the first years, I'm working for the student magazine on a secret project, I have a lovely boyfriend, I want to socialise and on top of that, the work at university in the second year is known as more stressful. I don't think book blogging has a part in all of that.

However, blogging does. This blog isn't disappearing (and I know I keep saying that), but just changing into more of a lifestyle blog and online diary - you have the choice whether to join in or not. For book lovers, I am going to write about books of course, just don't expect a book review every week. I'm only reviewing the books where the words come to me naturally.

And the best part of this post and this decision, this is probably the post that's come to me the most naturally in months. 

See you guys soon!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

On My Bookshelf (45)

I came to the realisation that the last time I did one of these was in February just after my birthday! Surprisingly, I've been quite good and not bought many books in the last five months, mostly because I haven't been blogging as much and haven't had much time to peruse the shelves of my nearest Waterstones. I'm slacking really, aren't I?


Londoners by Craig Taylor - I picked this up for £3 in a secondhand bookstore in Bristol when I visited there the other week when visiting one of my flatmates from Somerset. It's a book that came out just after I started working at Waterstones and I was always a little intrigued by it. Since going to university, I've realised how lucky I am to be a Londoner and so close to the city as well as some of the perceptions of Londoners both from the residents of the capital and those who live far away from it. I'm interested in what my fellow Londoners have to say!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell - Rainbow Rowell has a new book. She wrote Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. Need I say more?

Books by Charlie Hill - I found this on a table in Waterstones in Bristol and since I feel like I've going through a book version of a mid-life crisis recently, this seemed to appeal to me perhaps to make me appreciate reading for myself again.


Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld - Oh YALC, how you were so brilliant. When Lucy and I spotted this on the table in the corner of YALC, we both instantly grabbed a copy of this proof and preceded to fangirl about how much we both wanted to read it. Scott Westerfeld is one of most well-liked authors after his superb Uglies series, so I'm interested to see his latest book. So looking forward to delving into this one soon....

Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen - This was handed to me at YALC and I'm interested to read a memoir that is aimed at YA. While I'm not normally into non-fiction books, this sounds quite interesting and reminded me a lot of the novel Going Vintage from the blurb!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? 
What did you receive this week? Link below and I'll send a comment!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Meant To Be - Lauren Morrill

Source: Own
Pages: 304
Publisher: Delacorte Books

Synopsis: Straight-A student and geek, Julia knows she is accident prone, she knows how to follow rules and being organised and prepared. She knows how to write essays and that she needs to have her pocket Shakespeare and pencil sharpener on her at all times. That's also why she knows Mark, her crush since childhood, is her MTB (Meant to Be).
However, everything Julia knows is about to be turned upside down on her spring break as she goes on a school trip to London where she is partnered by her personal tormentor and the class-clown, Jason. After Julia is dragged to a wild party, she keeps receiving texts from an unknown number. Jason promises to help find out the suitor if she agrees to live a little and break some rules along the way. Julia will find out the meaning of rules and true love all in the backdrop of the city of London.

Although I may be bordering on the last six months of being a teenager as my 20th birthday looms closer and closer, I still love to slink back to the days in my mid-teens when I loved a good romance novel. While I'm far more cynical about them, I don't think any female can resist a dash of romance in their reading as long as its done right. MEANT TO BE was a book I got given about a year ago, mostly because Julia sounded like a version of myself but also, because it seemed like a fun, easy read.

Upon starting this novel, I could immediately see the conclusion and started to think maybe this book wouldn't be as good as I hoped. However, I struggled on and found myself suddenly really enjoying this book. The book becomes addictive with all these questions lying underneath that made me want to read and read to find out at the end. This is a cheesy romantic comedy for sure, but I was left with this appreciation for any love in my life at the time - be it for family or friends.

The main character, Jules, goes through London, seeing both the unknown places of the city and the tourist attractions we all know and love. It was brilliant seeing a modern perspective of the city, especially for myself as a Londoner, which isn't too rife in books. London isn't considered 'romantic' with that title calling to places like Paris or Rome, so it was good to have this setting instead of something more stereotypical.

Anyone that is a reader will appreciate Jules, a nerdy girl who follows the rules and consumes literature. I loved Jules mostly because it was like reading about myself and I entirely felt for her and related to her as she negotiated the confusing and exciting world of love.

MEANT TO BE is the perfect, summer easy read or even as a light break between books with the continual theme of death, war and grief (which is a lot of books these days). This is predictable and cheesy, but sometimes we all need a bit of that as a break. I liked this a lot, especially as it made me appreciate those around me and any book that has that kind of emotional response, well, the author's doing pretty well.

I give a 4 out of 5

Thursday, 17 July 2014

It's Kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini

Source: Own
Pages: 444
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Synopsis: Struggling with academic and social pressure, one night in the early hours, Craig Gilner's depression becomes too much and he seriously starts comtemplating suicide. However, he checks himself into Six North and put in an adult mental health ward to start working towards getting better. Here, he meets an interesting cast of people who help him move towards facing his depression.

One of the woes of being a reader, a bookseller, or a book blogger is that amongst all these books you consume day in, day out, the books you read, regardless of how good you thought they were, seem to blend all into one. It seems like you've read lots of books over a month because you've been reading constantly, until you discover the total count for the month is only two short books. That is until you find that one book out of 9 or 10 books that really shines out. The one you become completely and utterly besotted with, consuming the pages eagerly, ferociously planning your day around your reading, ready and waiting for the moment you can start reading that book again. Those books are always the ones that stay with you, become rereads, get recommended dozens of times and ultimately, become our favourite books.

This is how I was for Ned Vizzini's IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. I was on holiday when I was reading this book and found myself waiting somewhat patiently for some free time in between being a tourist, eating and sleeping which meant I could absorb a couple more chapters of this magnificent book. It was utterly brilliant surprise to love this book that much, something I wasn't quite expecting when I first picked it up. I bought this book over a year ago, and I wonder now why I left it sitting on my shelf for so long.

The best way to describe IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY is that it is a novel about depression that is not at all depressing but ends with this new found hope installed within you. It's a book that is needed and highlights a lot of issues young people experience in growing up that perhaps isn't really talked about enough. I mean in literature when is it ever discussed about the impact of the pressure that is placed on a lot of us to do well especially at a school that wants to keep its prestige? I know that throughout my school years and at university, the pressure mounts up continuously as expected when you want to do well and everyone deals with that differently. While some behave as if the potential to not do well is on the same problem level as choosing what to wear in the mornings, there are others where the pressure can take hold. I'm one of the latter, and I can fully understand and believe how something like school can make someone get depressed, like Craig in this book.

Vizzini writes Craig as if he is any other teenage boy. Certainly he is, but as the book goes deeper and Craig comes closer to facing his depression, it becomes clear how real and messed up his problems are. This book is so beautifully written, it's engaging, intelligent and original, making it a delight to read on every page. The characters are truly what make this book even more superb. From the beginning, there is the idea that these characters are too extreme, too crazy, too affected by their problems to enjoy their character and trust what they say. However, through these moments scattered throughout the book, it is evident that all these characters (and there's quite a few) have a brilliant depth to them, and this craziness that we kind of expect without even thinking when someone says 'mental health ward' makes them that much more interesting. They are some interesting voices, including Craig, to tell a novel like this through.

This is a rich, real and insightful novel that is simply a pleasure to read. There are parts which some may find difficult particularly near the beginning, however, the overall feeling of hope by the end of the novel is reason enough to read this book. Depression is a complex issue to write about and even understand and can be misdiagnosed or missed all together, both instances explored in this book.
Something that kept being brought to mind while I was reading was the coverage from book lovers when I found out Ned Vizzini had passed away last year. He writes something special with a richness and emotion that makes this novel so sad, hopeful, exciting and annoying all at the same time. We need more books like this. 

I give it a 5 out of 5

Monday, 14 July 2014

My Mad Day at YALC

On Saturday, instead of having a lie-in or helping with housework, I headed to Earls Court for the first ever YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) hosted by the London Film and Comic Con. To say it was a really good day doesn't even cut it, it was brilliant.

Aside from the crazy queues to actually just get in and the craziness of being amongst thousands of cosplayers while clutching my heavy bag of books for dear life, the day started well once I found the YALC area. I stood at the back of a panel discussing dystopia (a favourite genre of mine) in YA with Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness and Sarah Crossan - all three authors I love and admire. It was interesting to hear about their thoughts on genres in general and where they think the genre is going. It was such a surreal moment standing and listening to these authors whose books I have devoured, spotting a few familiar faces in the crowd who I knew were bloggers and then, Stan Lee walking past me on the way to his photo taking session. Very, very weird and brilliant moment.

The Dystopia panel - Sarah Crossan, Patrick Ness,
Malorie Blackman

Those kind of moments only got more frequent. While walking away from getting my book signed by Sarah Crossan, I happened to look over at the group of people I was passing and came face to face with none other than Lucy from Queen of Contemporary. Out of all the people I wanted to meet and see at YALC, she was the one I wanted to meet the most. Lucy is a really good blogging friend of mine, and her blogs are one of the best in my opinion around. She's helped me so much from motivating me to blog, talking to me constantly for the past two years to helping me write a feature article all about blogging for a university assignment. I've watched her blog work its way and it was just so amazing, so surreal and so brilliant to talk to her face to face. We went to the Superfans panel together with some other bloggers, where I think we both geeked out about Rainbow Rowell being one of the speakers, as well as then meeting Rainbow Rowell herself together and I spent a bit of time going round with her with so many authors, bloggers and publicists recognising Lucy, it was really nice to see for me.

I am so awe struck by both how lovely and genuine everyone was. There were times people had a conversation with me having probably no idea who I was, but merely because of a shared love for books and publishing. As Lucy put it in her reflection of YALC, no-one cared what your gender was, no-one cared where you came from, no-one cared about your age, everyone just cared about you being there for your love of literature. And that is something that makes me put faith back in humanity.

I left YALC about 5pm at a point where I felt utterly exhausted and like my shoulder was about to turn permanently numb. I continued my celebration of an amazing day by meeting my boyfriend and some friends who were in London for the day and had dinner at this nice restaurant just off Oxford Circus called 'Vapiano' (the cheesecake was so good).
Upon already commenting that I felt like the amount of books I had brought with me up to Central London made me feel like I'd robbed my local Waterstones store, I handed my boyfriend my goodie bag of books to him exclaiming 'Wow, that's heavy, that's a lot of books'. Yes, it was and yes my shoulder hated me on Sunday morning but it was so worth it. Bring on the next YALC!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

There is a geek in all of us.

I have a confession. It's perhaps not at all surprising if you know me personally or if you've followed my blog for a long time but it's a confession all the same.

I am a geek.

Geek [geek]. noun. a person who has excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity []

Yes, I definitely am. Apart from the cliches that are brought to mind when thinking about geekiness, such as actually paying attention in lectures, working 100% towards every assessment and seem to do quite well from doing so, when it comes to books, the geekiness is really brought out. Amongst my friends who are all similar to myself, I ooze this ideal life full of books with a passion for books, a blog and until recently, a job in a bookshop.

However, when it comes to the real world (which became shockingly clear when I went to university), I am essentially a geek. I have been told that whenever I talk about books, I have this wide smile on my face and I talk really fast with many hand gestures. Another passion of mine is sci-fi films. Watching anything with any sort of science fiction theme in it brings this special sort of concentration where I am so absorbed within the narrative and how clever the plot is. With my boyfriend describing himself as a 'film geek', this works when watching films together to the point where he specially chooses films that have a sci-fi element because he KNOWS I will enjoy it. However, with anyone else, getting them to watch something other than a teen move with a dystopian element (I point to The Hunger Games which for the record, I did enjoy) is trouble and I know they are secretly judging my geekery. So, science fiction in books is like the ultimate thing that brings out the total geek in me.

I get excited about book signings and book adaptations rather than going clubbing. I remember coming back to university from a trip at home where I met and got a book signed by Veronica Roth. I was so happy and excited by it yet I was only met by plain looks. For instance, I'm going to Comic Con on Saturday in London, a fact people either raised their eyebrows at quietly judging or starting geeking out themselves about the film aspect of Comic Con. However, why am I going? Well, there is YALC, a book conference...

However, as I've grown older, I've realised that everyone has a little geek in them. Everyone has different interests and passions and that enthusiasm differs from different people. Mine is stronger than a flatmate's passion for cooking, but as long as those around you allow you to share your enthusiasm as they do, that's the main thing. The conversations around the dinner table at university is purely geek if I think about it, ranging from topics about the media, books, TV shows, make-up, computers, films and video games. I remember when I was in secondary school and going through the realisation at how geeky I was, I was reading in our form time as I always did considering no-one really spoke to me and the conversations around me were incredibly boring. A girl who I would have guessed as someone who would rather take an ice cold bath than read a book asked me what I was reading. I told her, and there was a pause when we kind of looked at each other in surprise. Then, she asked me for some recommendations and we had a massive geek out about books. Apart from that 5 minute conversation, I never talked about books with her again, she chose to keep her love for books under wraps while I was more open.

Moral of the story? Everyone is different. Yes, I am a geek. I am an open geek that is kind of proud and weird about those kind of things. It is something that defines me and what people like about me. However, this guy I see at university who just oozes coolness could go home and spend endless hours watching foreign films and then blog about them. I could see someone in my seminar class at Comic Con in the Book Zone. I think we just have to accept that geekiness is a part of all of us.

I'll leave you on one of my favourite quotes I found somewhere which someone told me defined me.

"I want a girl who reads, who feeds her addition for fiction with unusual poems and plays that she hunts out in crooked bookshops for days and days and days" Mark Grist

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Don't Even Think About It - Sarah Mlynowski

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 336
Publisher: Orchard Books

Synopsis: When class 10B of Bloomberg High School in New York get their flu jab, no-one quite the side effects they received. Aside from the sore arm, those that take the jab in this class suddenly start developing telepathic powers. It means they can hear what everyone around them is thinking, their loved ones, their family, their friends, strangers in the street, between themselves. It means they know everyone's secrets and scandals. They know everything, for better or for worse.

Sarah Mlynowski is an author I've always been intrigued by but never had the opportunity to try and read one of her books. When I saw DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT after seeing a few positive reviews across Twitter, I knew this was the chance to read my first Mlynowski book. I mean, telepathic powers? That's not something you see in books everyday!

I started this book quite critically. Telepathic powers in literature is something I haven't seen before as I think it's probably quite hard to get that across in writing. Add a bunch of teenagers in there and I was thinking this was going to be like a really, really bad teen movie trying to reinvent the genre or something.
I was pleasantly surprised, however. It was the perfect read amongst the remaining coursework, exams and a busy period getting ready for the end of university. It was something I could put down in the middle of a chapter and pick up a day later and understand completely where I was in the story. The writing and plot, especially finding out the consequences as well as the advances of having these powers, hooked me entirely throughout.

As many bloggers have pointed out, the novel is narrated from the whole class, which is about 24-odd people. I was thinking when starting this book that this could make the narrative incredibly jumpy and have characters where we only know the basic details. This was handled pretty well, I thought by focusing on a certain few students but also narrating as a general group. While there are certainly 'main characters' in the group that have a greater impact from the telepathy, there is a general feel for how something as big as this can affect such a large group.

The main appeal of this book is the brilliant concept behind the novel. Everyone dreams at some point of the benefits of being able to read each others minds. This novel really gets behind that dream and allows you to see the pros and cons if everyone knew our secrets and private lives. I admit that after finishing this book, I had moments of trying to miraculously turn on some hidden power to read my flatmates' thoughts on what I was wearing or my mum's thoughts on how clean she actually thought my room was.

This novel was such an easy, interesting and most of all fun read for a holiday or during a busy period. Sure, it's quite flouncy in its writing and plot, and it does skirt over a few of the minor details about how the telepathy works. However, if you're not too bothered by that or just want a FUN read, this is the book for you. I loved how it put a total different twist to YA by creating a book that is contemporary but also sci-fi and paranormal too. I liked this book, and I especially liked Mlynowski's writing. She will be on my to-read more now!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this title!

I give it a 4 out of 5

Thursday, 3 July 2014

IBW Bookshop Crawl: My Favourite Independent Bookshops

As part of Independent Booksellers Week this week, on Saturday 5th July, there is a Bookshop Crawl (like a pub crawl but books, alcohol breaks optional) across the UK challenging bloggers and vloggers to visit as many bookshops as possible in their local area to support the booksellers working there and help towards bookselling in the UK. Unfortunately, I cannot participate, even though this sounds like such a great excuse to spend time in my favourite bookshops in London, so I've put together this post of some of the independent bookshops I've come across in the UK that are simply brilliant.

I may be an ex-Waterstones employee whose loyalty lies majority with that company, but I do love independent bookshops. They have this air of personality to them, every one is never the same. But also, I always feel good when leaving the shop, knowing I've helped towards a local business that is seen to rarely now on our high streets.

2 Church Walk, Richmond, London


Richmond is a place I spend the majority of my time within when I'm at home. It's where I worked, where I hang out, where I shop - it's a beautiful town that doesn't feel at all like you're within London and it's only 20 minutes away from me.
This in one of the independent bookshops that is so close to me, but took me years to find. In an alleyway just off Richmond high street, this bookshop boasts a range of both modern, upcoming titles as well as an extensive secondhand selection in their basement. The amount of times I have found some of my most anticipated 'to-read' books and even some academic books for my studies in here is endless with a selection that is both reasonably priced in the secondhand section and in good condition.
I really like visiting this shop both with friends, in my lunch breaks when I was working at Waterstones and also by myself. It's so quiet and friendly in the shop that I really feel like I'm entering a little world within the bookshop only finishing when I open the door to the street with a ring of the bell above the door and back into the street where a pub stands next door.
It's a brilliant little shop, and somewhere a lot of locals and Londoners don't know about.

725 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth

When I moved to Bournemouth for university, I thought the only bookshops I would be visiting would be the university's own Blackwell's or the Waterstones shop where I worked. However, I soon found out about The Crooked Book, a unique bookshop about 15 minutes from Bournemouth's town centre in Boscombe high street, which is a vintage shop, a coffee shop AND a bookshop. Considering vintage clothes, coffee and books are three of my favourite things, this place is like heaven for me. I've only been able to warrant a trip once when some bookish friends from home visited me and it was utterly brilliant with a wide selection of secondhand book titles, both modern and old. I picked up vintage copies of some classics, 'Brighton Rock' and 'Ballet Shoes'. It's rather cheap as well (brilliant for student over here) and it's just a generally nice experience to visit this beautiful shop even if you're not the biggest fan of books.

If you want to join in or find out more, check out Rosianna Halse Rojas's YouTube video telling you how to join in! I hope to see some of you join in!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Source: Own
Pages: 459
Publisher: Pan Macmillian
Related Reviews: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis: Cath and Wren are twins that have always done everything together. Always had the same interests, the same clothes, the same friends...until now. They are both off to university but Wren doesn't want to be part of a pair anymore, she wants to go out drinking, meet boys, go to parties and not have to worry. Cath, however, feels differently. She would rather stay in her bed writing fanfiction than go out. However, university is a time for new and changing experiences. Cath must decide whether to allow new experiences and people enter her life and discover whether there is more to friendship and romance than she thought before.

Review: I was first introduced to Rainbow Rowell when Eleanor and Park was suddenly everywhere. I was selling many copies at work, the whole blogging world was talking about that book and then, one of my best friends was recommending it and surprised I hadn't read it before her. It was a book I knew I would love before I starting reading the first page. The same goes for FANGIRL. I mean, a book about a geeky girl who starting university amongst people who are far more into the partying side to university than she is? That was pretty much the definition me a year ago. FANGIRL was what I expected and OH SO MUCH BETTER. This review may verge on a geek out and an ongoing ramble at the brilliance of this book so bear with me.

I loved every single word of this book, every single moment, every scene, every character - just my whole experience of reading this book was just pure brilliance. Rowell writes with a depth that allow you to get to know the characters so well. The book is essentially Cath's first year at university, which could have the possibility of becoming boring and long winded. However, the writing becomes so absorbing and engaging that I developed the 'Oh just one more chapter even though it's 3am' syndrome. Suddenly, I was finishing the book and I wanted to go straight back to the beginning and read it all over for the first time again. I became absorbed in Cath's world as well as the world Cath writes fanfiction for with the extracts from her fanfiction scattered throughout the novel, meaning I never wanted this book to end.

The characters assist so excellently to the amazing plot and writing. The cast of this book are all so genuine, realistic and really show the different types of people you find at university. I became quite attached to Cath. She reflects many teenager's inner thoughts and her obsession with Simon Snow and the fanfiction reminding me a lot of the Harry Potter fandom. Reagan, Cath's roommate, was a good addition for her sarcasm and harshness, there really needed to be someone to tell it to the others straight. As many people will agree, Levi was a nice character and so good to see a positive male character in a book. In some ways, I kind of wanted Levi to be real!

I know I keep repeating how relatable this book was, but this is mostly what got me engaged within this novel. Rowell describes Cath's experiences of university without hesitation showing the best and worse parts of moving away from home to study in a great way. It felt a lot like reading an account of my own experiences of the past year from moving to university and getting used to it, the new, exhilarating experiences, the social aspect and the people you meet.

FANGIRL is one of the best novels I have read so far this year. Rowell is a superb writer who keeps improving for me (so looking forward to meeting her at YALC!). She is a writer whose books continue to remind me why I love reading, and one of the best recent voices for young people.
This book is a must for anyone who is starting university in September as a crash course of what to expect. It gets to the heart of what your first year of university consists of - discovering new people and experiences, living independently away from the people you've always been with as well as expressing yourself.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Geek Girl: Model Misfit - Holly Smale (#2)

*This is the second book in the Geek Girl series so there may be some spoilers for the first book, Geek Girl*

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 356
Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis: With a new baby on the way and her summer plans ruined suddenly Harriet decides to take up a modelling job in Japan to get away from home. She knows that she won't ever probably fit into the modelling world but she tries nonetheless to be a 'model'. In Japan, she faces the craziness of Tokyo with some interesting model flatmates, bizarre photo shoots as well as the problem of seeing Nick everywhere she goes. Harriet needs to find herself halfway across the world or maybe she needs to become more like a model. 

Review: About this time last year, I read the first book in this series, Geek Girl. I thought it was brilliant, but most importantly, I thought it was the type of book that is needed for young girls growing up with so many brilliant messages that fulfilled some self-confidence in myself. Following the success of the first book, this is the next book in the series for Harriet Manners - the unlikely geek model.

When I read books, I don't really get very emotionally invested. I don't laugh or cry or get excited when the character's do. However, the GEEK GIRL series are probably the only books that actually make me laugh out loud. I find Harriet hilarious at times and her humour is a lot like mine. This books humour, characters, writing and plot makes me keep reading on and on. I finished this book within two days, which is a record for me and just illustrates how much I liked this book.

Harriet is so unique and real. I can see a lot of myself in her actually. She's this geek that is trying to fit in with a world that both she will never fit in with, but also they don't want to let her try. Although we're not all models, we can all relate to feeling like we can't fit in with a certain world, or group, or stereotype - I know I did when I was younger and at times currently. Reading about Harriet overcoming her issues with her family, with Nick and with her job was great to see and quite inspirational in some ways.

This book is also host to some brilliant, vibrant and creative characters that really shine throughout. Sometimes the humour in books can make the prose and the characters within a plot be placed in the background. However, this book thankfully doesn't do that and I think in some ways the characters make the humour from their brilliantly constructed personalities that are all so unique and different from one another.

Overall, the second book in the GEEK GIRL series was thoroughly enjoyable and I am looking forward to finding out what else is going to happen to Harriet as well as meeting Holly Smale at YALC! GEEK GIRL is such a brilliant series which is just what the world of YA literature needs right now.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

University & Blog Changes

It's been nearly a month since I last posted something on the blog and since then, everything has become a whirlwind in my memory and thinking about all the things I've done in the last month is quite incredible actually!

Most of all, I've finished my first year of university! None of us at university can believe quite how quick the last nine months have shot by and we've all been left a bit dazed by how much has changed, how close we've become considering we've known each other less than a year and by how close moving out of our halls came around. I'm sad it's gone so quickly, I don't think any of us expected that. It's weird because when I was in school and college, I looked forward to summer so much to have a break and be with those I actually wanted to spend time with rather than forced to. However, now I'm at university, I can't wait for the summer to go quickly so I can move back to Bournemouth in September and be in the university environment all over again. It's such a weird and surreal feeling!
For anyone looking at Bournemouth University, I would definitely recommend it, it is a brilliant university that understands students both academically and on a social level.

I've also been elected to be part of a project next year for Nerve Media, the student led media company at Bournemouth University, helping the Online team with the website. This blog certainly helped me get that job which made me realise how grateful I am to have starting the blog regardless of the lack of time I spend on it.

I've decided to kind of change the dynamic of this blog to try and encourage myself to write more on it. My boyfriend (yes, that happened too in the last month) writes a blog where he posts every day about something significant or interesting that happened each day and I really like that idea! I'm going to try and write every few days or at least every week mostly about book related things but occasionally about life, anything of interest really.
I know this is a change that means taking this blog in a different direction and moving away from the 'book blog' aspect. However, at the core of this blog, I will still be a book blogger, just one that writes about other stuff, because books aren't the only thing that I'm interested in! I hope you guys understand this and enjoy what I have to write about, please let me know what kind of things you'd be interested in!

On another note, I am planning my YALC day currently - less than a month to go!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Taking GCSE's and A levels

I know from some of the posts I have seen floating around and from some rants on Twitter that the time is coming up for many bloggers when they do their final GCSE and A level exams. It's this time of year that I reminise about my time when I did these qualifications. It's so weird to think that this time last year I was doing my A levels, stressing in copious amounts and of course, the frightening thought that I had no idea where I would be in 4 months time in September. It's even weird to think that three years ago I was doing my GCSE's, revising like it was the most important thing in the world, like the whole world would blow up if I didn't.

I thought it would help those stressing and perhaps panicking at the moment to hear from someone whose gone through all that. I know I needed someone just to reassure me it would be fine last year.

GCSE's are tough, I agree and it annoys me a lot when I see middle aged men in the Government saying GCSE's are easy and need to be toughened up. Probably if I did my GCSE's all over again now, I would find them easy but we have to remember I'm currently at university, of course I would.
The best thing I can say about GCSE's is that although they seem and ARE important now, by the time you get to college and focus on A levels, they won't be. I got 3 A*'s and 9 A's in my GCSE's which I am immensely happy about, but, honestly, no-one asks me about my GCSE's now. GCSE's are considered easy in the sense that really there is no analysis or depth as it's all about showing and identifying things be it a certain type of language in a novel, or a certain aspect of a plant cell. As long as you do that, you'll be fine.

It's when you get to A level, it's more difficult. The step from GCSE to A level is massive and I found myself struggling a lot in the first few months on college especially as I had some less than brilliant teachers. There is another slight jump from first year of A level to second year but it all slows back down when going onto university I think.
It's at A level that the difference between this level and GCSE's is clear. A level is about analysing and interpreting things rather than stating it. Whether that's analysing the effect of a character to a novel or bringing your own Marxist interpretation to the events of the War of the Roses, as long as you continue to do that, it's answering the question.

A levels are important also and even though I put myself under so much pressure last year to the point of nearly having a breakdown, it was worth it in the end. I wasn't entirely happy with my A levels in fairness but I did what I could under the conditions and under the dreadful college I was attending. It got me into university, the university I really wanted to go to, and that's the main thing.
A levels are hard. They really are and I certainly don't miss them at all now. But I think as long as you learn the different techniques for each subject, A levels should fly by.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

#NewToMeMay Reading Challenge

Although May has already crept into its fourth day (how is it May already?!), this is the challenge I am joining in with. A good blogging friend of mine, Clover at Fluttering Butterflies, decided to create this challenge.

#NewToMeMay is about reading books by authors you've not read previously. As May for me consists of mostly assignments, revision and exams, I thought this might be fun to motivate me to read a little bit this month even though the number of books being read WILL be small. I'm thinking probably like 2 or 3, if I'm lucky.

So here is a list of books I have on my to-read list - let me know what you recommend me to read!

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan (currently reading!)
Tease - Amanda Maciel
Don't Even Think About It - Sarah Mlynowski
The Moment Before - Suzy Vitello
Longbourn - Jo Baker
And We Stay - Jenny Hubbard
These Broken Stars - Annie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
How A Song Can Save Your Life - Leila Sales
It's Kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini
A Face Like Glass - Frances Hardinge
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
Howl's Moving Castle - Dianne Wynne Jones

Friday, 2 May 2014

Acid - Emma Pass

*I wrote this review a long time after reading the book entirely from memory (not the best idea) so this review may be vague and not brilliant.

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 431
Publisher: Corgi Children's

Synopsis: The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong's world, the government has fallen and the elite police force, ACID, rule the country. They have a huge hold of the country, nothing goes unnoticed or unpunished. It is ACID that put Jenna in prison for life for killing her parents, something she struggles to remember. However, a rebellous group break her out of prison and she has to use all she has learnt to uncover the truth behind her parents her deaths.

Review: Emma Pass' debut ACID has been something that was talked about on the blogosphere for a while at the moment particularly for British bloggers. So I guess I'm a little late to the party. I'm not sure why I suddenly decided to read this. I guess I needed a good dose of dystopian and when I saw this book in my local library, it seemed like a good time to read it.

A lot of dystopians now come in the form of trilogies (*cough* Divergent, The Hunger Games *cough*) but most of all, they nearly always 100% come from America. So when I see a British author writing dystopian...well, it's just so nice to see. So I was expecting quite a lot from ACID especially since a lot of bloggers I know have recommended this book to me.

And wow, this book performed. I loved Jenna to pieces, particularly her feistiness and attitude that brought to much to her character. She is clever and determined, which although there are a lot of dystopian heroines like her, she is one that stands out above the rest, I'm not entirely sure why. I guess it's her fearlessness, her strength and just her determination. She's a strong character both physically and emotionally.

The world is one that it entirely unique and brilliantly created with the whole idea of Big Brother looming over the writing and the events that happen within the book. I liked how the reader is allowed to get more absorbed in the world through letters and reports dispersed between chapters - it made me get into the book and try and predict what would happen.
The book is certainly action-packed and reminded me a lot of an English version of Divergent and a little bit like The Declaration series by Gemma Malley. I liked the big action bits that would then be interspersed with quieter, emotional moments that almost hint at something else big about to happen. There is a serious political element to the plot which I saw some relations to the current situation, making the world and plot more real.

This was a brilliant, absorbing book to read that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I love that it was set in the UK and it is just so refreshing to see a UK author being something different to the world of dystopia. I'm looking forward to reading The Fearless, Pass' next book. ACID is action packed with a strong, female lead that raises questions about society in such an engaging, superb way. Emma Pass is definitely one to look out for in the future.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher to allowing me to review this book!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What I've Been Up To

The last couple of weeks it may have been noticed that I've been around the blog and on Twitter a lot more, mostly because I am currently in my 3 week Easter break from university. I go back next Monday for the last part of the semester. It's so weird and scary how quickly this first year has gone and how close I am to doing assignments for my degree where it actually counts, how close I am to moving into a proper house with 5 of my friends and how different its all going to be soon. On Monday, I'm back at university for four weeks, take my exam, but then I'm staying on an extra two weeks for the Summer Ball and to organise moving out etc, as well as enjoying the time available now with my current flatmates. It's all so weird to think about.

I'm been quite busy so far in the Easter holidays with a mixture of seeing people I haven't seen in a long time (some before moving to university), going on holiday with my parents as well as visiting one of my flatmates in the beautiful city of Cardiff (and 'aww-ing' at every lamb we passed along the way). I got the train direct from London Paddington to get there, and on the way back had a really weird moment where a guy in front of me offered me, and some fellow passengers, white wine from a bottle he'd stashed in his bag. I declined, although it was tempting, mostly on the principal of a stranger offering me wine alongside the principal I follow as a Londoner that I find it weird talking to people on public transport, but also wanting a clear head to negotiate the Tube on a Sunday evening.

I've also signed up to write for three different publications. I'm part of online student magazines, KettleMag and CultNoise (check them out, they have some really interesting articles) as well as continuing to write features for The Student Eye - the student section of Bournemouth's local newspaper, the Bournemouth Echo. I'm also writing a feature about blogging and vlogging for my university's student magazine, which is published next week! I'm really excited to see it on paper, and I have no idea how the layout will be, what pictures and illustrations will be there, it's all quite exciting!

Book-wise, I've been reading SO MUCH MORE in the Easter holidays because of all this amazing free time in the evenings where I'm not exhausted when I go to bed! The reviews for the books I have read should be going up in the next couple of weeks.
I also got a ticket to go on the Saturday of the inaugural YALC at the LFCC WHICH I AM BEYOND EXCITED FOR. I'm so excited for Rainbow Rowell, Holly Smale, Patrick Ness among others and to meet some of you (already had an 'ohmygodwewillmeeteachotherthisisinsane' session with Lucy at Queen of Contemporary on Twitter)! I'm also going to the blogger and author after party, which you can see more about here if you're interested. This is one of the many reasons I love living in London and being a blogger.

I also realised the other day that I haven't bought (somehow) any books in ages and then found a Waterstones gift card in my purse and an Amazon voucher, so if any of you have any recommendations for me to buy, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

Cress - Marissa Meyer (#3)

**This is the third book in a series so there will be spoilers for the first two books in the series. Have a look at my reviews for Cinder and Scarlet - totally recommend this series!**

Source: Own
Pages: 550
Publisher: Penguin
Series: #3 in The Lunar Chronicles

Synopsis: Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf are now fugitives on the run with most of Earth and Lunar hunting them down. Meanwhile, they are plotting to overthrow Levana and replace the Queen of Lunar.
Their best hope is with Cress, a girl that has been imprisoned alone on a satellite to hack and spy Earth for Levana. After attempting to rescue Cress, the group is separated. Cress has her freedom but is also stuck in the middle of the Sahara desert with Thorne. Meanwhile, Cinder must prevent the marriage between Levana and Emperor Kai when he could be killed. Cinder, Scarlet and Cress need to unite to try and save Earth from Levana's power.

Review: As soon as I heard about the release of CRESS, I was eagerly anticipating it, willing it to come sooner, pre-ordering the book and then, waiting for the right time to read it and know I would enjoy it. Cinder and Scarlet are two of the best books I have read and I knew that this book would not let me down in the hugely brilliant Lunar Chronicles.

The thing with Marissa Meyer's books is that they are all quite long, mostly about 500 pages. While this probably fazes some people, I like it - I feel I get a real depth to the story, development of the characters and SO MUCH HAPPENS that it just makes me get sucked more into the novel. I thought this would take me longer to read than most 200-odd paged books. However, it took me about about 5 days to read (which is like a record for me), I rushed through it wanting desperately to know what happened to the crew of the Rampion, to find if the wedding goes ahead, what would happen with Cress, the different romances - it makes it an incredibly engaging and brilliant read. There are so many twists in the narrative with many of the questions and secrets I wanted answers for being answered from the last two books, but soon being replaced with even more questions to be discovered in the last book.

Continuing on the theme of fairy tales, CRESS is based around Rapunzel. I didn't see as many similarities to the well-known fairytale as in Cinder and Scarlet, although that was never a big fairytale for me, but I ended up seeing similarities to Tangled. It was brilliant to see more of the characters of Thorne, Cinder, Iko, Kai, Dr Erland, Scarlet and Wolf from the previous books and it felt very familiar in the setting and plot to me. One of my only complaints would be the character of Cress. I found her a little pathetic at times, it's clear she is not as brave and strong a character as Cinder and Scarlet, with her strength being her intelligence. She was a nice addition to the story but I just disliked her shyness at times latterly.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time full of romance, action, thrillers, humour, friendships and brilliant writing. CRESS I think is my favourite of the series so far with Cinder a close second. I finished this book while on a train and was sitting there for about half an hour trying to contain my feelings just like 'WHAT JUST HAPPENED THEN?!', the ending was just...amazing. I cannot wait for Winter next year and I'm sad to see the series end with Winter too. This is going to be a long but rewarding wait.

If you've read this entire review and haven't read Cinder, Scarlet or Cress - I would recommend these to be read soon, they are utterly brilliant and I'm so glad I discovered this series.

I give this 5 out of 5

Related Reviews:
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Discussion: Science Fiction/Dystopian Genre

Upon starting university, there was the inevitable question when getting to know people you don't know of the favourites, particularly favourite film. While some of my newly acquired flatmates mentioned The Notebook, The Dark Knight - some of the modern popular classics - I ended my answer with Back to the Future.

I'm a bit of a major fangirl when it comes to science fiction. I'm not entirely sure why. But I've always liked anything sci-fi or dystopian, be it books or films. It probably all stemmed from being forced to watch Doctor Who and Star Wars when I was younger by my dad, both of which I love now. As someone who loves books, cats and whose wardrobe consists of a mixture of jeans and floaty skirts and dresses trying to possess some kind of vintage style, it may be a little weird that I'm such a sci-fi geek.

I know many who dislike the science fiction genre, I've never been sure why. A friend of mine defined it as: 'Why would you look into the future and make disaster out of that when you can look into the present and sort out the more immediate problems of today?'
Which is a question that I totally understand. I like a lot of contemporaries for their immediacy and the fact I can sit there and shout 'yes I've experienced this too!'
But for me, a lot of literature is about challenging boundaries and adapting the meaning and values of literature, so by delving into the future and the things that could face us, doesn't the science fiction genre do just that?

I guess I like the whole question of 'WHAT IF?' that defines this genre.What if we had a time machine formed by a car? What if there was a world where society was separated into factions? What if there was a weather problem and we had a second Ice Age? What if aliens invaded and died because of our atmosphere? I certainly feel that some of the movies I've watched and books I've read would prepare me in some way for some of these scenarios.
The thing is there is something unpredictable about this genre which means you can't really work out what is going to happen eventually (debatable in some dystopian but whatever). Think about some of your favourite genres. In historical fiction, there is going to be some social or cultural element involved that is unique to that time. In contemporary romances, there is going to be a misunderstanding, the couple break apart but then come together again. But when it comes to science fiction, the world that is built and essential to the narrative also, means that the ending and the twists and turns along the way are entirely unpredictable because the world is so special to that book or movie. And that uniqueness and unexpectedness is what I love.

Let me know what you think about science fiction and dystopians. Do you like them and why? Do you not like them? What are some of the science fiction films/books you've seen/read? 

Friday, 11 April 2014

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 240
Publisher: Random House

Synopsis: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Review: No-one can talk about this book without many exclamation marks, capital letters and surprise. Just as a warning before I continue...

OH MY! There are a lot of emotions and thoughts that tangle amongst each other in my head when I think about my reaction to this book as I've seen similar to many other bloggers and their reactions to this book.

I started reading this after suddenly seeing lots of reviews for it and it mentioned a lot on Twitter. I've not been reading much in the last few weeks because of deadlines and assignments and Breaking Bad taking over my life, but after seeing the hype being slowly generated for this book, I thought I should read it soon. I had already been interested in it and requested it on Netgalley.

I was unsure about what to think to start with. The main character is one I disliked instantly, but somehow I felt more and more sorry for her as the story continued. The writing is very poetic, prose-y and that's not always something I enjoy when I'm reading, so it was quite hard for me to get into it and at one point I thought about starting Lauren Oliver's new book and then-
Suddenly and without any warning I was hooked. This is a relatively short book that in general should have taken me a good week to finish. Three days later, I had finished this book and was sitting in bed staring at my bookcase wondering what the hell had just happened in the final pages. There are so many twists and turns, some I saw, some I really, really didn't see, and it's all done so cleverly and fits together.

This review is a short one because I think it's better to go into this book without absolutely no clue. I agree, it's not something I like doing when reading books, I actually hate doing that, but when it comes to WE WERE LIARS, it needs to happen. This book is brilliant, it shows up everything I love about reading and books and writing and the best part is that there is nothing that I know of that is quite like this book out there right now. The hype at the moment? I totally get why, I recommend everyone and anyone to read this book. I'm definitely going to look out for more of E. Lockhart's stuff.

I give it a 5 out of 5

WE WERE LIARS will be published on 13th May 2014 in the UK

Thank you to Random House for allowing me to read and review this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.