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.