24 February 2017

Book Beginnings #33

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. This is my first time

I am currently reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber.
It took seven years to get the letter right.
I got this book in my FairyLoot box, but even if I hadn't I'd still be picking it up. The marketing for this book has been insane, and I have seen it everywhere! So now I'm finally starting it.

These first lines are very mysterious. In fact, they're all that you'll find on the first page. I love how it's so short and to the point, setting the scene only the tiniest bit. And I want to read the letters!
"Wait-" Scarlett scanned the crisp snow a second time. Again it reminded her of a frosted cake. The kind she'd seen in bakery-windows, perfect and smooth, without so much as a Tella-size footprint in the snow.

"Where's my sister?"
Well. I need to hurry my way to page 56! I need to know what's happening.

I can't wait to really get stuck into this book. Have you read it? What are you reading this week?

23 February 2017

Review: Margot & Me by Juno Dawson

How can you hate someone in the present and love them in the past?

Fliss's mum needs peace and quiet to recuperate from a long illness, so they both move to the countryside to live with Margot, Fliss's stern and bullying grandmother. Life on the farm is tough and life at school is even tougher, so when Fliss unearths Margot's wartime diary, she sees an opportunity to get her own back.

But Fliss soon discovers Margot's life during the evacuation was full of adventure, mystery... and even passion. What's more, she learns a terrible secret that could tear her whole family apart...

Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, loss, love, friendship, history.

I had heard a little bit about this book before I picked it up - as soon as it was announced it was on my TBR and pre-ordered. But then when it was released I was a little hesitant, and it took a group of my friends saying "shall we read this together?" for me to pick it up.

And I'm so glad I did pick it up. Even if I've been left with my heart in a million tiny pieces.

This book was at times laugh-out-loud hilarious and wail-in-despair hopeless. It made me feel almost every emotion under the sun. 

I'm not going to lie - Margot's diary entries were my favourite bits to read. I loved her narrative, how it was presented in the diary. I could feel her excitement and disappointment and anger.  I loved her girl-power attitude, how strong she was, how age eventually changed her and how she acknowledged it. I want to see more of her story.

Fliss really grated on me to begin with. She's a complicated character and it wasn't until near the end that I finally clicked with her. She's been through a lot, she goes through a lot, and she changes in the pages.

I have to mention Megan. The despicable, nasty, grade-A bitch. There was a tiny part of me that wanted to know her story, wanted to know what made her a bully. But by the end? I was so ANGRY that I just didn't care about her, I just wanted her gone. She plays a big part in the story.

The cast of supporting characters don't feel like supporting characters - they're well fleshed out with distinct personalities. I felt like I really got to know them.

I wold absolutely recommend this book to everyone. Just make sure you have a box of tissues on hand, because there is ugly-crying involved.

There are some things that Juno reigns over when it comes to her books. Her characterisations, diversity, inclusion, and heart-breaking scenes are marvellous, and I've never seen anyone nail it quite as well as she does. Again.

Kelly's Rambles
A Little But A Lot

21 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #80

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would.

I've decided to do five of each. Because I am bad at singling books out. Not all of the books that I loved less than I thought are bad - heck, some of them are four star reads, I just thought they'd be five star when I picked them up. And the ones I loved more than I thought I would are not all five star reads either. So give them all a chance.
Five Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
I thought it was going to be a "sporty" book. I was wrong. My mind was blown.
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
I was expecting something along the lines of The Selection (which I hated) but it was very different.
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
I don't like horror. Or, I thought I didn't. This book booked good.
Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
This book is trash but I've read it so many times. I am a total Locked fan girl.
Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
I had a feeling that I would enjoy this, but I was wholly unprepared for how much I'd love it.

Five Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would
Langdown Manor by Sue Reid
I read the blurb and fell in love with the premise, but I just wasn't feeling it.
Bad Bones by Graham Marks
I loved Tokoyo and Zoo so I thought this was a dead cert, but the writing style just irked me.
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Sometimes I feel that it bored me, other times I want more. After the hype I'd expected a little more.
Throne of Glass by SJ Maas
Eventually Celaena does turn into a kick ass assassin, but first LET ME TAKE A SELFIE.
Frostblood by Elly Blake
This fantasy was a little too cookie-cutter for me, and came between two outstanding books.

17 February 2017

Blog Tour: Guestpost: Fir by Sharon Gosling

When I read Fir by Sharon Gosling I was completely blown away by the setting, so when I was approached for the blog tour I jumped straight on it and asked for a guestpost all about creepy settings.

We are the trees. We are the snow. We are the winter. We are the peace. We are the rage.

Cut off from civilization by the harsh winter of northern Sweden, the Stromberg family shelter in their old plantation house. There are figures lurking in the ancient pine forests and they’re closing in. With nothing but four walls between the Strombergs and the evil that’s outside, they watch and wait for the snows to melt.

But in the face of signs that there’s an even greater danger waiting to strike, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish reality from illusion. All they’ve got to do is stay sane and survive the winter…

Isolated Houses and Creepy Housekeepers
I’ve got a thing about isolated and abandoned houses. When I was a kid I would make up stories about ones that I came across. They weren’t stories of who might once have lived in them or why they had become abandoned, but about what I would do if I had the chance to live in them myself. Actually, it wasn’t just houses that I did that with, but anything that looked as if it might have the potential to be habitable. I remember a long fantasy in which I worked out how I would turn the abandoned WW2 pillbox in the fields behind my grandparents’ house into a habitable dwelling with a zero budget (I think this involved using cheap yellow dusters from the pound shop for curtains. Practical!). 
This habit of looking at isolated, abandoned places and imagining what it would be like to live there has persisted into adulthood. When my husband and I were looking for our new home in rural northern England, I’d point to half-derelict grain stores or broken-down barns or the skeletons of long-obsolete limekilns and suggest they could make interesting shelters. “I could live in that” became a catchphrase that he’d jump to fill in before I had a chance to point at some crumbling wreck of a shed tucked in the corner of a field. 
One of my favourite stories about the tiny village in which we now live is that there used to be a hermit dwelling way out on the fells behind us. He lived in a shack and would venture into the village only rarely. These visits would invariably include one of the local pubs. He’d end up so inebriated that someone would have to tie him onto his donkey, which would slowly plod back up and over the windswept fell. My love of this story comes, I think, from a little touch of envy for his hidden home, which I have searched for but failed to find. 
I turned 30 in a tiny house in the back of beyond in the Scottish Cairngorms, but not even that was isolated enough for me. I’d spotted an even more distant abandoned house across the valley through my binoculars and had asked my then-boyfriend if we could hike to it for a birthday outing. It took us six hours to reach. There was no road or even a path in, but the roof was good and there was a stream with fresh water. “I could live here,” I said, and then he got down on one knee and proposed, so obviously I have very fond memories of that particular abandoned house. It’s still at the centre of my zombie apocalypse survival plan. 
I like being on my own – that’s probably the writer in me. I’ve never found empty houses to be scary in themselves. Even in FIR, it’s not the house that is malevolent. In fact, the house is, if not a benevolent, at least an indifferent shelter from the forest outside, a (mostly) safe place for the narrator away from the forces that lurk beneath the trees. What makes it scary is what else might be inside, already, or what might get inside with help. Houses are just houses, but people are scary. They do things for reasons we can’t understand and have motives we can never really know. The housekeeper of Storaskogen might just be a bitter old lady, but she knows the house like the back of her hand, all those hidden, dusty places that everyone else has forgotten. She knows its history and its secrets. The question is, are those secrets as harmless as an old lady is supposed to be? 
As the narrator says, “I don’t think it’s nature we really have to be afraid of, but other humans.”

Book Beginnings #32

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. This is my first time

I am currently reading White Boots by Noel Streatfeild.
Even when the last of the medicine bottles were cleared away and she was supposed to have "had" convalescence, Harriet did not get well.
I absolutely love Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. So why have I never picked up any of her other books? I don't know. Maybe there's a small part of me that's worried I won't love them so much.

Katherine Corr recommended this to me when she saw that I loved Ballet Shoes and I'm finally taking the plunge! I have downloaded it and started it and... I loved it. It's written in the same wonderful, accessible style that I adore in Ballet Shoes.

This first line brings you straight to Harriet and lets you know that all is not well (heh) in her world. I can't wait to get to know her and I have high hopes that I will really enjoy this book.
She only caught half of what he said, but it was enough for her to understand that he was suggesting teaching Harriet.
Good thing about a Kindle is being able to "Go To" 56% without flipping through pages and accidentally spoiling it for yourself!

I like how this part is making me feel optimistic for how the story will progress. I think it's going to have that feel-good heart that I really loved in Ballet Shoes.

Have you read anything by this author?

15 February 2017

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being.

Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess.

Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities.

Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity - until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other's jeopardy - and salvation.

Source: Library

5 Words: Family, lies, attraction, friendship, babies.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would.

I have to admit that before I picked this up I only looked at the cover (yes, bad Cora, but it's so pretty). I'm not a big reader of blurbs, I like as many surprises as possible when I start a book. But sometimes this can give me wildly inaccurate expectations. I was expecting something like The Selection. But actually? This was pretty good. It definitely surpassed my pretty-dress induced expectations.

I found myself reading this book rather quickly despite the relatively slow pace. Although not much happens for the first three quarters of the book, I couldn't put it down. As much as I didn't like Violet all that much, I needed to know what was going to happen next. This book very much sets the scene and builds the world.

The world in this story is not wildly fantastical. It's pretty cookie-cutter fantasy, and familiar enough that if it weren't for the magical aspect it wouldn't be too dissimilar from the world we live in.

I loved the complexities of the characters, how it wasn't all black and white. Even now I have finished the first book I'm not sure where the lines lie, whether any of the characters are truly wholly good or bad. I like these blurred lines, how it keeps me thinking, keeps me coming back to the story.

I did feel like the story just ended, that nothing was really wrapped up, which has made me desperate for the next book. Now I'm just playing the waiting game with the library.

14 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #79

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten books to read if you're just not feeling the love.

I get it. It's Valentines Day. Share the love and post photos all over social media of what your OH had got you. I don't know about you, but I can only take so much romance before I get bored and start rolling my eyes, especially as it feels all the more contrived on the 14th February.

So, for my fellow un-romantics out there here are my top ten books to read on your own Anti-Valentines Day, along with five words to give you a hint about what to expect when you crack it open. And no, they're not all horror.

Family, isolation, chilling, mythology, fear.

Romance, history, partying, summer, horror.

Family, revenge, power, beauty, magic.

Swashbuckling adventure. Love, danger, life.

Thrilling, real, eerie, attraction, belief.

Beauty, power, property, friendship, freedom.

Family, Ouija, evil, dolls, isolation.

Boarding-school, monsters, family, friends, Christmas.

Mystery, thriller, stowaway, missing, secrets.

Horror, boarding-school, British, Bloody Mary.

What's your Anti-Valentine recommendation?