Friday, 31 October 2014

October Book Haul

I know it's Halloween, but I don't do spooky books....

This month seemed to be a month where I'd buy a book, read it, and then once again have nothing to read. Thus leading to an endless cycle of buying books which isn't great for my bank account but oh well.
The first two books I bought this month were The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton which is about Ava - a girl who was born with wings. The cover is gorgeous and this inside is just as stunning - cannot recommend this book enough. A week later I then went and bought Writing in the Sand by Helen Brandom. I'd wanted this book for months so I'm glad I finally got the opportunity to read it. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly live up to my expectations.

The lovely people at Macmillan sent me three books for review - Aritchoke Hearts by Sita Biracharmi (I think that's her name?), My True Love Gave To Me (which is an anthology of Christmas romance stories by 12 different authors e.g. Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins) and additionally Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. If you've been here a while then you may remember me hauling Fangirl back in January, but when I was offered the opportunity to review a hardback special edition, I couldn't resist.

My Ninja Book Swap also arrived part way through this month. My partner Talia from Read Between the Scenes kindly sent an amazing parcel which included Graceling by Kristin Cashore, and Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley. So far I've only read Lies We Tell Ourselves and it was incredible. Thank you so much once again Talia for sending me these books.

The final three books have been purchased over the past 4 days. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is about bullying and suicide - rather pessimistic but a really interesting read that I picked so I had something to read whilst I was staying in Chester on Monday/Tuesday. Finally yesterday whilst out with my friend Gabby we went and spent a RIDICULOUSLY long time sitting on the floor in the YA section of our local Waterstones. A lot of books were on a Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price offer so I picked up Trouble by Non Pratt which is a novel about Teen Pregnancy and The Jewel by Amy Ewing which if I'm not mistaken is like a retake on The Handmaid's Tale and is combined with another book that I can't recall but it sounds AMAZING.

Holly x 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves
It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah Dunbar's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore. Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.

This is historical fiction. If you dislike historical fiction, then I urge you to pick this up, as it will change your perspective completely.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is about Sarah. Along with 9 other teenagers in 1959, they are the first black students to transfer to an all white high school. Whether it be the staff or students, nobody is happy about this. The novel is also about Linda, a girl campaigning for segregation to remain in place as the students arrive at her school. 

Talley dealt with two subjects (Racism/ Civil Rights and LGBT) that are controversial in fiction so well. This lead onto her combining these themes into a dark, brilliant tale. Taking this into context; not only was it a bad time to be of black ethnicity, but homosexuality was illegal across the world. Both of these were written about with a well executed serious nature that was not disrespectful.

Having now read this, my suggestion is that you go into Lies We Tell Ourselves knowing not much at all. Yes, the cover and blurb may give some things away, but that the best advice I have on this book.  A dual perspective means that you are given bits of information in a slow progression that spurs you on to keep reading. 

The characters are richly developed and the prose is stunning. This is one of those books where it never felt wrongly paced, too long or short. For the message this book was trying to deliver - Lies We Tell Ourselves was perfect.

Holly x

Friday, 24 October 2014

Fictional Life Tag

Who would your parents be?
Molly and Arthur Weasley. They're so warm and lovely and kind. They would be the perfect parents.

 Who would be your sister?
Cath from Fangirl (and Wren!) I love them both sooooooo much!

Who would be your brother?
Etienne St Clair from Anna and the French Kiss.

Who would be your pet?
Hedwig! Or Arnold the Pygmy Puff - I know this is loaded with HP references and answers.

Where would you live?
London. So many events in fiction happen in London!

Where would you go to school?

Who would be your best friend?
Hermione Granger. In my head, Hermione Granger is the sister I never had, but she would also be my best friend. We'd have so much in common that I'd hope we'd get on brilliantly.

Who would be your significant other?
RON WEASLEY. Ron is my fictional HUSBAND. Yes, not BOYFRIEND.... HUSBAND. And it is not just the ginger hair.... no! It's everything about him. He's just amazing

Thank you to Georgia from The Books Bandit for tagging me! I tag anyone who wants to do this (consider yourself tagged!)

Holly x

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow ChildAlaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding -- is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

There's something about this book, something so completely and utterly enchanting that it becomes nearly impossible to put down once picked up. You delve into the pages and are engrossed in this wonderful story that you never want to escape from.

The Snow Child is about Jack and Mabel, a couple in their fifties who after the loss of their stillborn child 10 years previously and the loneliness of their life without children, decide to move to Alaska for a fresh start. One snowy night, they build a child out of snow. Then in the following days, in what seems like a coincidence, they see a girl running through the forest, just like their snow child.

For months and months, I was uncertain as to whether I wanted to read this book or not - because it is historical fiction - a genre I don't get on too well with - but I'm so glad I did. If you hate historical fiction, if you hate fairytale retellings, then I implore you to read this because it will change your perspective completely.

This essentially is a fairytale retelling of a Russian fairytale (which is brought up in the book several times), and it is done beautifully. The characters are so well developed and whilst they love each other dearly, you can see the strained relationship of Mabel and Jack, as well as the friendships that are formed, so clearly that they seem real.

I only have one criticism for this book - it could have been shorter. Whilst it is brilliant, it wasn't necessary for it to be 400+ pages. But nevertheless, it was stunning and I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Thank you to Headline for sending me this copy for an honest review.

Holly x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Published in October

Talon (Talon, #1)
Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. Soldier Garret St. James has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey — and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him — and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.
Author: Julie Kagawa
Date: 28th October 2014
448 Pages (Harlequin Teen)
First of a Series
In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)
In The After Light
Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Date: 28 October 2014
535 Pages (Disney Hyperion)
Last in Trilogy
Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they'd be doing their rediscovering together. So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again. The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed. 
What could possibly go wrong?

Author: David Nichols
Date: October 1st 2014
400 Pages (Hodder & Staughton)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

My Favourite Bookshop (Books Are My Bag)

I've always been a book lover for as long as I can remember. Part of the experience of buying and getting books is going into a bookshop itself. As oppose to going on Amazon or the Book Depository - going into a bookshop, browsing through the books, picking the books up in your hands, seeing the actual copies right in front of your eyes, is a somewhat magical thing. As more and more bookshops go out of business, this becomes rarer and even more special. 

So here I am today, sharing my favourite bookshop with you; Waterstones Altrincham.
Altrincham is the town I live in in Cheshire and considering how quiet and sparsely populated it is, you wouldn't expect such a well known chain bookshop to have a branch located there. But there is, and it is a wonderful place to be. 

Upon stepping inside, the delightfully combined smell of books and coffee from the Costa upstairs hits you. Such a small space is bursting to the brim with books and an entire corner simply related to bookish merchandise. 

One wall is filled simply by bestsellers and the latest fiction, often with signed copies and special editions peaking out from here and there. Many a time, much to my surprise I've found books up for grabs well before their release dates, giving a euphoric feeling when you purchase one of them. The children's section is bold and bright, vivid rainbow streamers trickle down from the ceiling, and opaque bubbles float and fill the luminous fish tank which is packed with exotic fish. For a child, this is a truly brilliant place. The same can be said for teenagers - with a small but crowded YA section - and adults - all the classics, Sci - Fi, Fantasy, and Contemporary fiction you could possibly think of.

Finally, a thing I find particularly special about Waterstones Altrincham is how they so boldly display kindles and e-readers. For me, that can be seen as a particularly brave move for a bookshop  - diverting attention to the form of fiction that is taking business away from them - but they do it anyway, because the reality is that not everyone is going to want a physical copy.

Welcome to my favourite bookshop. Please stop by if you can.

Holly x

Friday, 10 October 2014

To Series or Not to Series

Welcome to my bookshelf - well, a snippet of it at least. This is where as you can see,I keep some of my series (plus my little giraffe - if you didn't know already, giraffes are my favourite animals) - however that form of organisation for these few books was purely coincidental. Looking at this got me thinking about series that I own, and whether I'll finish those unfinished.

Not completing series is a real struggle for me - I crave the sense of closure that you get at the end of a series - finishing that final page. For years I've believed that if you start a series, then you should finish it, - but then I read some of these books and I realised that I'm okay with not crossing the final hurdle.

Divergent by Veronica Roth;

Controversial it may be, the reality is that I'm not a fan of the Divergent Trilogy. Back in December 2013 I read Divergent and loved it - so asked for Insurgent for my birthday. Let's just say that when I read Insurgent this August I  was unimpressed to say the least. Insurgent is nowhere near as fantastic as it's predecessor. Allegiant has had so many mixed reviews; I also know the spoiler that every talks about. Bearing these things in mind, I'm not sure if I have that kind of commitment to the series.  

The Diviners by Libba Bray;

Honestly, until getting this book I wasn't aware that it was going to be part of a series. At 578 pages, this is one brick-like book. And maybe it was only me who felt this, but this book could have been, so, so much shorter. Due to being so long this book started out with love and ended with hate - which is a shame given that I was so excited about reading it. But if every book is going to be filled with such monotony and is going to be so long than there is no way I'm going to continue with the series.

Are there any series that you've started and won't finish?

Holly x

Friday, 3 October 2014

September Book Haul


Admittedly I'm actually very surprised by how many books came into my possession in September. Never, did I plan on accumulating so many but it has meant that I've read some REALLY good books recently.

The first part of this haul is going to be books that I bought myself. Back at the very start of September the first book I bought was Wonder by R.J Palacio which is a middle-grade novel about a young boy who was born with a deformed face and his first encounters of school. Many, many people have praised this book and for what it was, I completely understand why this book is so highly acclaimed. Following on from this Model Misfit by Holly Smale (the second book in the Geek Girl series), and Infinite Sky by C.J Flood - which is about a forbidden friendship between a girl and a gypsy boy. Once again, cannot recommend these two highly enough. These were on buy 1 get 1 half price so couldn't miss the offer. I then returned to Waterstones a week later and with the help of Fiona (Eventide Reads - who works there) I purchased A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. If you want to see my thoughts on that then click HERE. The last book I bought was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. This is the first book I've ever bought from the Book Depository and I was really disappointed with there service - as you may have seen on twitter.

Onto books for review - Hodder and Staughton kindly sent me The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey as well as Lips Touch by Laini Taylor - both books which I reckon Ruby will be pleased that I'm finally getting round to reading (my first Laini Taylor!) These look gorgeously beautiful and I can't wait to start reading.

One book that I didn't expect to receive this month is Landline by Rainbow Rowell. As you may remember, I featured Landline in my July book haul and absolutely adored this book. So when Amber contacted me saying I'd won her giveaway, I was delighted given that this is a SIGNED RAINBOW ROWELL BOOK. THE FEELS....

Finally I have four books which my Dad bought for me. At the beginning of the month I got my  GCSE result for Science - it wasn't what I'd hoped for, but I'm proud considering I was really ill during my exams. So my Dad got me some books as a present for passing. These are Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - I adore the film so cannot wait to read this. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, and Deathless by Catherine M Valente.  Why We Broke Up and Everything Leads to you were books that I'd been dying to read (I've read Everything Leads to You now and it was amazing) and Deathless is a book that me and Amelia have decided to buddy read together.

Thank you to Amber, Hodder and Staughton (and my Dad) for these books!

Holly x