24 April 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #121

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Frequently Used Words In Titles
But yeah I didn't fancy it. All I could think of were lists that had already been done (girl/queen/prince/fire/ice/insert-here). I'm just not feeling it. But my own..?
Top Ten 
Subscription Box Items
Because I've been thinking about my subby boxes lately and and more and more I'm a little disappointed or underwhelmed by what's inside. So below are five things I'd love to see (more of) and five things I'm sick of seeing.

I'd like to see more:

  1. Enamel Mugs
    Honestly these are so useful. They're perfect for summer when you want to drink outside but still be bookish, and don't want to risk smashing your 20+ ceramic mugs from subby boxes. Plus, picnics.
  2. Tarot Cards
    Like, just imagine a Grishaverse tarot deck AHHH. And even people with no interest in tarot would probably use them artistically.
  3. Reading Light
    I love reading in bed. But it tends to be night time and it's dark and I guess you see my problem? A wee book light would solve this!
  4. Travel Mug
    Why yes, I would like to show my book-geekiness around everywhere I go. Also it's goo for the environment to reuse rather than grab something disposable. Points if it's bamboo.
  5. Notebooks
    I love a good notebook. I think everyone does, really. Ooh and imagine if you got a pen too? Heck, why just stop at notebooks, how about reading diaries or dream journals?

I'd like to see less:

  1. SJM Merch
    I mean, yay for her that she's still doing so well, but her books are pretty damn problematic, and even if I love how feminine Celaena/Aelin/TheSpecial can be I'm just pretty bored of it all.
  2. Tiny Candles
    How disappointing is it when you can only burn a candle once? Like, I'd rather a couple tealights than a single tiny jar. And also when I'm paying so much for a box I expect a candle to last more then two hours burn time.
  3. Glittery Bath Products
    Yeah, I don't want to be clawing at my skin for three days because the bath product is filled with skin-irritating glitter and shimmer. I like shiny things as much as the next person but not in my bath.
  4. Funkos
    Unless they're bookish, no ta. Every Funko I've got in a box has been a naff one I wouldn't pick for myself, the ones that come up at the top of Amazon if you sort price by Low to High.
  5. Hot Chocolate
    The only hot chocolate I've had from a sub box has been yuk. Seriously yuk. I kind of have it figured now that you have to use expensive gold top milk and add some sugar to make it taste OK, but I'd honestly rather tea than vegan-free-from-everything hot chocolate powder

What would you like in a box if you could curate your own?

23 April 2018

Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

THIS BOOK MAN. Red Sister is incredible and gets all of the stars from me. Since I first picked it up I haven't stopped raving about it and recommending it. It is the first in the Book of the Ancestor series and will absolutely blow you away.

Red Sister by Mark LawrenceAdd to Goodreads
I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…


Source: Review Request

5 Words: Friendship, belief, stabby, power, fantasy.

I think I may have a new favourite character.

This book is one powerful line after another. Each chapter opens with a punch to the face, a line that grabs you. The writing is dramatic and epic and I absolutely loved it.

Nona is not just a Female Assassin. She is loyal and fierce and twisted and secretive. I loved how she kept secrets not only from everyone around her but from herself. This secretive side to Nona makes her a pretty unreliable narrator, and her past is one story after another and you're never quite sure what to believe. The journey her character takes as the book progresses is amazing.

Red Sister is brutal. It's gory and harsh and hard. It's bloody and painful.

Some people might say that the middle of the book is slow - but it was packed with so much character development that I absolutely loved it. And it made the contrast between the action at the beginning and end have a much bigger impact.

And also, can we have a shout out for the gal pals? I loved that they just all shared beds and nobody batted an eyelid, that it was normal. THANK YOU. And they were just girls being girls, no slut shaming HURRAH!

This was my first Mark Lawrence book but now I can't wait to get my hands on Grey Sister and get started on the Red Queen's War books. Nona is the stabby Hufflepuff fantasy deserves.

19 April 2018

A Playlist for Clean by Juno Dawson

When I was reading Clean by Juno Dawson I was desperate for a soundtrack. There's something about the story, especially the scenes when Lexi is in London, that just begs for a beat behind it. I've been listening to music more as I read, so I teamed up with Aoife at Pretty Purple Polka Dots to create a playlist.

In the past we've teamed up to do a fan cast of Candy by Kevin Brooks and we'd planned to do a fan cast of Clean, but the rights were snapped up before it was even published so we're crossing our fingers and leaving the casting to the professionals.

The struggle to not just have it all CHVRCHES and Halsey for my contributions was unreal.

The Tracklist

Gasoline
Halsey

I Miss You
Clean Bandit

Never Ending Circle
CHVRCHES

Pedestrian at Best
Courtney Barnett

Liability
Lorde

Hurt
Johnny Cash

The A Team
Birdy

Follow Me
Uncle Cracker



Do you listen to music while you read?
Have you read Clean?

Clean by Juno DawsonAdd to Goodreads
A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

'I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.'

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ... 

It's a dirty business getting clean ...

Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page.

17 April 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #120

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
FREEBIE
So yeah, I have to pick my own list. And how could I not pick some kick-ass female characters? So read on below to find some of my faves.
  1. Izzy O’Neill from The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
    I mean, it's Izzy. She's incredible. She goes through so much shit but is still standing and still fighting at the end of it.
  2. Xifeng from Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
    She is ruthless. She is an anti-hero. And I bloody love her for it.She is unashamedly dark and will take anyone who opposes her down.
  3. Minerva from Pirates! by Celia Rees
    Minerva has A Time Of It but Damn She's Amazing. She's smart and canny and unbelievably good as a person, all while swinging a cutlass and a pistol.
  4. Margot from Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
    As much as the book is about Fliss, it's was Margot who I loved to read the most. She was smart, sassy and ahead of her time.
  5. Vivian Carter from Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
    Viv made my heart cry happy tears with her revolutionary take over of her school, standing up for what's right and bringing everyone together. 
  6. Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
    This is someone I struggled putting on here, because there are so many things that go wrong as the series progresses, but I love how Celaena is a deadly assassin who still likes to look pretty, eat sweets, and curl up in a ball when she has cramps
  7. Garai from Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff
    I just love Garai, okay? All of the female characters in Naondel are amazing in their own way but Garai holds my heart.
  8. Sammy Jo from Gypsy Girl by Kathryn James
    A tough fighter who gets shit done. She has so much up against her but she does everything in her power to care for everyone around her and stand up to prejudice and bigotry.
  9. Amari from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    Amari is my queen, thanks. She takes a tough journey from Princess to saving magic and finding justice.
  10. Nona Grey from Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
    Nona is the stabby Hufflepuff I need in my life. She is more than just your standard Female Assassin, she's is a deeply layered character who is loyal AF.

What's your favourite kick-ass female character?

16 April 2018

The Reading Habits Book Tag

I was tagged by the lovely Amy at Golden Books Girl to do the Reading Habits Book Tag, and it's quite a fun one! So read on to have a nosy.

1. Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?
I can use practically anything as a bookmark! I have even been known to shove my kindle in a book in a pinch. I used to be able to just put a book down and pick it up at the right place again, but now I need something to mark my spot.

2. Stop reading randomly or after a chapter/certain amount of pages?
I try to read in chunks of five chapters, so try to push to the end of chapter 5/10/15/65 but if I'm reading on a bus or something I'm fine to just stop at the end of a sentence.

3. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
I read in bed a lot, even though it's difficult to get comfortable. We do have a fantastic big reclining chair that's super comfy but it's in the living room so there are a lot of distractions around.

4. Do you eat or drink whilst reading?
I'm pretty much always drinking tea, and I love my grub, so I do eat and drink a lot whilst reading. When I was reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix I ate an iceberg lettuce like an apple because I fancied salad but was too engrossed to stop reading and make one.

5. Multitasking: music or TV when reading?
Definitely music over TV. I love soundtracks and ambient noise, so have several playlists on Spotify with everything from rain sounds to the Outlander soundtrack. I also love it when authors create soundtracks for their books.

6. One book at a time or several?
Several! I have a super short attention span and flit between books like a hummingbird. They tend to be a mix of genres though.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?
Everywhere! My favourite place to read is actually in a coffee shop with a cup of tea. The light chatter all around makes it easier to get lost in a book.

8. Reading out loud or silently?
Mostly silently, but then some books just beg to be read out loud. Anything particularly lyrical (and especially poetry like Wild Embers) and I will go find somewhere quiet and read it out to myself.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I am a breaker of spines, annotator of pages, and just a general love-them-to-death book lover. My books end up looking trashed but I love them so much.

11. Do you write in your books?
Yes! I underline and circle and jot down notes. I don't do it in every book, it tends to be the ones I read again and again. I use highlights and notes on my Kindle too.

12. Who do you tag?

Have you done this tag? Send me the link and I'll come visit!

06 April 2018

Book Beginnings #60

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton.
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

It begins when a wizard cleaves an island from the mainland, because the king destroyed her temple.
This book is Serious Fantasy, something which is made clear right from the start with everything from the writing style to the language used. I like the style but I think it'll take a while for me to get used to it.
Even as Regan skimmed her sister's writing, she could hear through the open window a change in the rhythm of the wind and noise of the Keep. A distant shout of greeting flared hot and died in an echo. The warm breeze sighed against her neck
I'm only 2% into this monster of a book, and I'm enjoying it. But I have NO IDEA what is going to happen as I am not a Reader of Blurbs. I quite like this writing style though, and I'm excited for how it continues.

This extract makes me quite eager to read faster and find out what is actually going on.

What are you reading this week?

05 April 2018

Guestpost: Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy

Reading a book in the dialect that surrounds me day to day was such a pleasure. Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy is heartbreaking and tackles some difficult topics, but it manages to stay accessible and engaging. I am excited to welcome Malcolm Duffy to my blog with a rather important guest post relating to one of the themes of the book.

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm DuffyAdd to Goodreads
Humorous and heartbreaking debut novel with the fresh, funny, honest voice of a 14-year-old Geordie lad recounting the trials and tribulations of family life and finding first love.

Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him.

But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad.
The Dad he’s never met.

Set in Newcastle and Edinburgh, this supremely readable coming-of-age drama tackles domestic violence head on, but finds humour and hope in the most unlikely of­ places.

The Curse of Silence

I’ve always written. It’s what I do. It’s what I love doing. I was lucky enough to have a long career as an advertising copywriter, writing ads for dozens of different clients. I couldn’t believe that I actually got paid to do this. I’d have done the job for free. But while advertising was a lot of fun, it didn’t satisfy that yearning to create something longer, more meaningful. I was always on the look-out for a story to tell. That opportunity came when I was at Comic Relief, working as Creative Director. I visited a project in the West Country that helped women and children who’d suffered as a result of domestic violence. Here I met a young boy, who’d been traumatised by the events at home. I realised that there was a story to tell here. Domestic violence as seen through the eyes of a 14 year old boy. Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. was born.
But I knew that the story couldn’t just be about domestic violence. It needed to go much deeper than that. I began to think about the tales I’d heard about domestic violence. There was a common thread through all of them. Silence. Each person who had suffered kept things bottled up. Not forever. But for a length of time. Sometimes way too long.
Why would someone who had been beaten or verbally abused stay silent? There are many reasons for this. Shame, fear, financial restraints, even love. It’s a common trait of domestic violence for the victims not to speak out. They perhaps. put up with it hoping that things will get better, that the perpetrator will change, that it’s a one off. The problem is that it doesn’t. It has the opposite effect. It emboldens the perpetrator to do it again. It lets them off the hook. There is a terrible statistic in the book, that victims of domestic abuse will be beaten over thirty times before they go to the police. The victims suffer in silence, because of their silence. 
But it’s not just Danny’s mam who stays silent in this story. The three main characters, Danny, his mam, and his dad, all stay silent, and suffer the consequences. His mam stays silent about the abuse she’s suffering. Danny stays silent about what he’s seen and heard. His dad stays silent about the fact that he’s had a son. Each character should have spoken to someone. But they don’t, and they all suffer as a result. 
I didn’t want to write a preachy book, but I hope that there is a lesson here, that staying silent is rarely the best option. Keeping problems bottled up doesn’t solve them. It keeps them hidden, but not resolved. We’ve all done it. It’s human nature to not want to talk about the bad things we’ve done or that have happened to us. But sometimes it’s the only way out. To tell people what’s happened. There may be consequences for revealing the truth. But the consequences will often be far less than those which are born out of silence. 
In the book, Danny finally tells his mam what he’s done. It’s a terrible moment both for him and for her. As Danny himself says- ‘our silence had come back to punish us.’ 
Silence can do that. It can take a problem and magnify it, making it grow far bigger than anyone would wish for. Danny himself learns this harsh lesson. But he also learns something else, that there is a solution. 
It’s called talking.