15 August 2018

Ascension by Victor Dixen

I don't know what I expected when I first picked up Ascension by Victor Dixen, but I do know that I was utterly blown away by it. I loved how it explored relationships under pressure, under public scrutiny, the reactions of the public. And how it explored space.

Ascension by Victor DixenAdd to Goodreads
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world's craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones. 
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.

Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.

Source: Giveaway

5 Words: Friendship, space, family, secrets, lies.

This book really surprised me. I had seen it referred to as Love Island in space and that was an interesting enough hook to spur me into entering the giveaway. Then once I picked it up, I was as captivated as the audience, I couldn't get enough of LĂ©onor. And that ending left me desperately wanting more.

Ascension is a fantastic examination of the greed of humanity, the fascination with reality TV, the power of passion, and the crush of impostor syndrome. It picks apart society's perceptions of beauty, it goes under the surface to scrutinise what people are at their core. And it does it all amazingly.

The story is addictive and fast paced. I could not put it down and I wanted it to be longer, it really is a page-turner. It did take me a little while to get used to the writing style - the story is very much driven by the interactions between the characters rather than the plot itself. I know this won't be for everyone, but for me it fitted the story perfectly.

13 August 2018

Saving Tips for Book Events

Last year I posted my Four Steps to Saving For YALC and this year I'm sharing my saving tips again, because yes, I've already started saving  myself. This is a general Saving for Book Events guide and is how I save my pennies to hit up as many book events as I can despite a) being poor, and b) living up North.

Me at YALC
Me at YALC 2018 having the time of my life.

Start Saving Now

I pretty much never stop saving. Whenever I can I put money away, whether it's £1 in a coin jar or £100 transferred straight out of my wages into savings, I do it. I cannot stress how much easier the whole process is when you start earlier. You can save little and often, and it very quickly builds up.

Get Planning

The sooner you book your accommodation, the cheaper it will be, as the closer you get to the event demand will drive up the prices. Travel has to be left to closer to the time as tickets are often not released until 12 weeks beforehand. But setting out a budget also gives you goals, so you know what to aim for.

Go on a Book Buying Ban

Despite being on a buying ban for three months leading up to YALC, I still ended up already owning almost all of the books that publishers had at their stalls so I couldn't take advantage of any of the "buy two get a proof" offers or cheap prices. Next year I'm going to try to be a little more hard on myself.

This doesn't mean not supporting authors though - I request a lot of books at my local library and they're pretty good at getting them in, so there's a wee PLR boost for them. And I'll still buy the ebook if it's one I'm very excited about.

Start A Books Read Money Jar

This is a favourite of mine, and I tend to get £100+ from this alone. Every time I finish a book, I put £1 in my money jar. Every couple of months I switch out the coins for notes and then by the time an event comes round I have my spending money ready.

Give Something Up

If you're spending your money on a bottle of wine a week, why not give your liver a break and save that money instead? I've done this in the past with chocolate for a month, booze for three months, and smoking forever.

The most recent thing I gave up was one of my subscription boxes - I just wasn't feeling it any more, the books were going unread, and it was time to put that money to better use. Like buying even more books.

Unhaul Some Books

This is one I actually need to do more myself. Being a bookworm I have a lot of books that I've either read and won't read again, or haven't read and probably won't if I'm truly being honest with myself. There is nothing wrong with selling on books you no longer need, you can raise some pennies for yourself and get those books into the hands of those that will actually read them.

What are your tips for saving money?

09 August 2018

A Year at Hotel Gondola by Nicky Pellegrino

Reading A Year At Hotel Gondola by Nicky Pellegrino has made me all the more desperate to one day go to Venice myself. The writing is so evocative that I felt like I was there.

A Year at Hotel Gondola by Nicky PellegrinoAdd to Goodreads
Kat has never wanted to live a small life. She's an adventurer, a food writer who travels the world visiting far-flung places and eating unusual things. Now she is about to embark on her biggest adventure yet - a relationship.

She has fallen in love with an Italian man and is moving to live with him in Venice where she will help him run his small guest house, Hotel Gondola. Kat has lined up a book deal and will write about the first year of her new adventure, the food she eats, the recipes she collects, the people she meets, the man she doesn't really know all that well but is going to make a life with.

But as Kat ought to know by now, the thing about adventures is that they never go exactly the way you expect them to...

Source: Blog Tour

5 Words: Venice, regrets, love, friendship, food.

This book is written in a rather different way - not only is it told from Kat's perspective, but also a narrator in third person. This did take a little while for me to get used to, but by about half way through it didn't disturb my reading or the flow of the story.

I was completely transported to Venice as I read this book. The setting is so rich, so vivid, that I could easily picture myself there. And it felt like I experienced the whole story with the free-spirited Kat.

Although I didn't really connect with Kat (and I suspect this is just down to the age gap and my own preference) she was fantastically self aware, and the beautiful setting more than made up for it. I did enjoy how the story explored Kat's regrets and thoughts and feelings about how her life had panned out and kept surprising her.

One thing I absolutely loved about the book was the abundance of food, especially in the form of recipes. I can't wait to try out some for myself.

This is the perfect summer read. And now I'm desperate to go to Venice.

The Hugo cocktail recipe, A Year at Hotel Gondola by Nicky Pellegrino

But I've made myself a promise - even if I live till I'm a hundred I'll never be a homebody.

08 August 2018

Review: The Island by MA Bennett

If you know me then you'll know that I loved STAGS by MA Bennett when I read it last year. So going in to The Island I had high hopes... And I was not disappointed. Another fantastic exploration of the darker side of humanity set against a background of privilege and desperation.

The Island by MA BennettAdd to Goodreads
Link is a fish out of water. Newly arrived from America, he is finding it hard to settle into the venerable and prestigious Osney School. Who knew there could be so many strange traditions to understand? And what kind of school ranks its students by how fast they can run round the school quad - however ancient that quad may be? When Link runs the slowest time in years, he immediately becomes the butt of every school joke. And some students are determined to make his life more miserable than others...

When a school summer trip is offered, Link can think of nothing worse than spending voluntary time with his worst tormentors. But when his parents say he can only leave Osney School - forever - if he goes on the trip, Link decides to endure it for the ultimate prize. But this particular trip will require a very special sort of endurance. The saying goes 'No man is an island' - but what if on that island is a group of teenagers, none of whom particularly like each other? When oppressive heat, hunger and thirst start to bite, everyone's true colours will be revealed. Let the battle commence...

From the acclaimed author of S.T.A.G.S.

Source: Giveaway

5 Words: Power, responsibility, school, resentment, revenge.

Take one of each high-school stereotypes and dump them on a desert island, then sit back and watch the horror-show commence. The Island explores the darker realities of humanity, looking at abuse of power, misogyny, desperation, and revenge.

I imagine that this book will not be for everybody - the characters as a whole are intensely unlikable ,and it is very much a character driven story. But I loved the power struggles and how the situations unfolding turned everything on its head. The character development was incredible.

My favourite character was (predictably?) Flora. She's not the main character, and Link often pushes her aside and disregards her, but I loved those glimpses that we saw. She's probably the "best" character morally, and I loved that she could stand her ground under intense pressure and in almost unimaginable situations.

I think that the only bit of the book that I didn't like was the epilogue, as I'd have liked it to end on the last chapter and keep everything open - but that's just personal preference.

Breakfast Club meets Lord of the Flies.

Join my on Sunday 19th August at 6pm where I'll be chatting on Twitter about The Island for #SundayYA Book Club!

31 July 2018

ARC August TBR

I'm joining in with Read.Sleep.Repeat.'s ARC August Reading Challenge as a way to tackle the proofs I was lucky enough to grab at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) and the couple I got before I left. I've been a very lucky teacup this month.

Read.Sleep.Repeat.'s Annual ARC August Reading Challenge #ARCAugust

My August TBR

The Must Reads

These are the books that I absolutely, definitely, will read this month. They're first up on my TBR and not gonna lie, I am excited for them.

The Island by MA Bennett
I finally won my first ReadersFirst book eek! This arrived after I had already left for YALC and hits shelves on 9th August, then I'm hosting #SundayYA Bookclub Chat for this book at 6pm GMT on Sunday 19th August.

You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance
When I was at YALC, browsing the Hot Key Books stall with Charlotte, I talked her into buying The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance and fan-girled so much that the publicist just handed it over. I squealed and hugged it to my chest and almost cried.

It Ends With You by SK Wright
I won this in a raffle at YALC and did a little squeal. I love thrillers and with what I've heard about this book I know I'm in for a gripping ride.

Killer T by Robert Muchamore
I can still remember the day many years ago when Robert Muchamore came to my school to talk about his Cherub series. I can't wait to be thrilled by this new dystopian standalone. This was sent to me the week before I left for YALC.

ARC August TBR featuring The Island by MA Bennett, You Only Love Once by Jess Vallance, It Ends With You by SK Wright, Killer T by Robert Muchamore

Next Up

These are the books that I'm going to read when if I finish my initial TBR. They're books that are not out for a while longer, or that I've acquired after publication.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson
This isn't released until October so I don't want to read it too soon! I'm super interested to see how a broadway musical translates into a YA book. I won it in a raffle at YALC.

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes
This is another book I won in a raffle at YALC, but it doesn't come out until next year! It is so hard to resist picking it up because it is right up my street.

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
I read a sample of this earlier this year and I loved it, but the final copy was too expensive. Luckily for me, when you bought a finished copy of one of Razorbill's books at YALC you could pick up an ARC too.--

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
This was another free with purchase ARC from YALC, and I've heard so much about this series and the second one is out in October, so I guess it's a good time to start.

Are you taking part in ARC August?
What's your next read?

23 July 2018

Review: Jinxed by Amy McCulloch

I accidentally read this book in pretty much one sitting. Once I started Jinxed by Amy McCulloch, I could not put it down. I ended up completely invested in Lacey's life and sped through it. I got it in my NYA Lit Fest goody bag. It's released in two weeks but I absolutely could not wait to share my review, and I hope you pre-order Jinxed because it is definitely worth it.

Jinxed by Amy McCullochAdd to Goodreads
Lacey Chu has big dreams of working for the company behind the 'baku' - a customizable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion for its user. The only problem is, she's just been rejected from Profectus Academy - the elite academy for cutting-edge tech. 

Then Lacey meets Jinx... Jinx is an incredibly advanced cat baku who opens up a world that Lacey never new existed, including entry into the hallowed halls of Profectus. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his coded. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet.

He seems... Real. 

Source: Event Goody Bag.

5 Words: Privilege, expectations, family, betrayal, friendship.

It was a fantastic sci-fi that sits so close to the world we know that it didn't take much suspension of belief to immerse yourself in the world. I loved the engineering aspects, the coding aspects, the whole technology of the baku's (I want a baku). Even the setting itself, a whole town centered around and dominated by a single company, sprang to life before my eyes.

I loved Lacey so much. Her story really explores privilege, and how not having it puts you at a disadvantage, always. And I love how she rallied against it. Even with the most crushing disappointment weighing down on her, her resentment at the privilege of others, she still acknowledged her own privilege and pushed on to do her best when everything seemed stacked against her. She works hard.

Jinxed is the first book in a series, but it didn't feel like it. The story is wholly fleshed out on its own, it doesn't feel like it's just setting things up. There is a clear arc throughout the book, but I get the feeling that nothing dropped into the story is accidental. I feel a lot of clues have been subtly dropped regarding a world that, once you start digging, is actually pretty sinister. *puts on conspiracy hat*

There is a delicious thread of mystery throughout the story, and I was always kept wondering about the why. WHY did this or that happen? WHO was behind it? WHAT is the bigger picture that's being hinted at.

Although it could technically be read as a standalone, Jinxed is so addictive and has SUCH and ending that I can't wait for the next one. It's definitely one I'll reread as I loved Lacey (and particularly her friendship with Zora) and I'm now off to read some of the author's other books.

19 July 2018

My Theatrical Experiences

When I was in high school, I really wanted to study drama for my GCSEs. Only not enough other people wanted to, so they couldn't fill a class and the option was removed and I did a double in Business Studies, which was 100% common sense and 0% creativity. And I just shelved any hopes of being involved in acting in any way after that until I was in my twenties.

After reading Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt, I'm sharing some of my favourite theatrical experiences for the blog tour. This book is honestly SO lovely and so passionate that it has me smiling just writing the title, and I'd recommend it to everyone.

My Favourite Theatre Experiences

It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I first went to the theatre, but I absolutely love it and try to go as often as I can afford now. I usually go with my bestie if we can get cheap tickets or if it's RSC, and I go to the ballet with my mum.

The First Time

My first time in the theatre was when the RSC toured the UK and came to Newcastle Theatre Royal, I was lucky enough to get some £5 tickets for The Taming of the Shrew and BOOM I was in love. We had amazing seats in the grand circle, felt 100% out of place in our nicest jeans and tops, and had an excellent time. It was laugh-out-loud funny and brought my favourite Shakespeare play to life.

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

The Weirdest Time

Earlier this year I managed to nab some cheap tickets for Cirque Berserk at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House and oh man. If you can get to see it as they tour the UK then do! I was absolutely blown away by the strength and skill, the whole audience was completely engaged, and there were moments that I couldn't watch because I was on the edge of my seat (looking at you, knife throwing). It was the most exhilarating theatre experience of my life.

Cirque Berserk

The Most Anticipated Time

I finally got to see Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre in London this year. A weekend in London with my bestie, lots of power-walking, and seeing Actual Magic on stage through opera glasses from way up high at the very back of gods. And wow. I still can't believe that I saw it. I am so in love with it and want so badly to go again, although maybe not in the restricted view seats. The atmosphere was electric.

Opera glasses at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Palace Theatre

The Next Time

Next up for me is Northern Ballet's Three Musketeers in October this year with my mum and RSC's Romeo and Juliet in February next year with my bestie, both at Newcastle Theatre Royal. As usual, I'll be taking my trusty theatre bag along with me, this Book Spine Clutch from Karina's Bags which I  had custom made four years ago.

Book spine clutch bag by Karina's Bags

What's your favourite theatre experience?

Theatrical by Maggie HarcourtAdd to Goodreads
Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one.

But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool… and her secret.

Gorgeously fresh, funny and commercial YA romance from the author of Unconventional, and The Last Summer of Us.

18 July 2018

Blog Tour: The Land Girl by Allie Burns

For the first time in a very long time, I read a book in a single day. I could not put The Land Girl by Allie Burns down, I was so invested in Emily's story. It's a beautiful story, and I absolutely recommend it.

The Land Girl by Allie BurnsAdd to Goodreads
War changes everything...

Emily has always lived a life of privilege. That is until the drums of World War One came beating.

Her family may be dramatically affected but it also offers her the freedom that she craves. Away from the tight control of her mother she grabs every opportunity that the war is giving to women like her, including love.

Working as a land girl Emily finds a new lease of life but when the war is over, and life returns to normal, she has to learn what to give up and what she must fight for.

Source: Blog Tour

5 Words: Family, responsibility, love, grief, belief.

This book was honestly such a delight to read. It was so easy to get lost in the rich setting and get caught up in Emily's life, and I adored it.

I loved Emily's passion and conviction. Right from the start she knew what she wanted, and she battled her way towards it. The family dynamics in The Land Girl are fantastic - from the family that Emily if born into to the family she makes for herself with her friends.

I did find the plot a little bit predictable, but in a good way. I felt comfortable knowing roughly where it'd go, if not how, and it still managed to throw up some surprises.

I felt that there were three very distinct parts of this book, although they are not labelled as such, revolving around Emily's development. She changes so much between the beginning and end of the book that she could almost be a different person. And it's excellent.

The Land Girl was a beautiful story, and one I will definitely reread. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought the author's other book The Lido Girls.

17 July 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #127

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 
Favorite Novellas/Short Stories
When it's nearing the end of the year, I love to cram novellas and short stories to hit my Goodreads Challenge target.
  • The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't by Gail Carriger
  • Yumi by Renee Ahdieh
  • Darkness Rises by Lily Blake
  • A Reaper of Stone by Mark Gelineau and Joe King
  • All Wrapped Up by Holly Smale
  • Dangerous Games by Teri Terry
  • Locked by Parker Witter (Rebecca Serle)
  • A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch
  • The Haunting by Lily Blake
  • Lambs Can Always Become Lions by Charlotte Anne Hamilton

    What will you be reading this summer?

    11 July 2018

    Floored Blog Tour: Sahsa's Primark Haul

    I'm so delighted to be taking part in the Floored blog tour, and even more delighted that I get to focus on Sasha, who was easily my absolute favourite character in Floored. All of the characters are pretty easy to like (except Hugo) but Sasha hit close to my heart and home.

    Floored is a collaborative novel written by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, and Eleanor Wood.

    I wanted to do something a bit different for Sasha, and I'm going to start by sharing Sasha's first line from Floored.

    I wake up with a jolt when one of the packages slides off the pile on my lap and into the footwell.

    What and Why

    Sasha is skint. She's had a pretty hard load in life. So when everyone chips together and gets her a £40 Primark voucher she's a bit chuffed and decides to have a bit of a splurge and get a new outfit and maybe a treat or two for herself too.
    White Grin And Bear It Cotton T-Shirt, Primark Haul
    Image Credit: Primark
    White Grin And Bear It Cotton T-Shirt, £2.50
    Primark slogan tees are excellent, aren't they? Versatile, super cheap, often funny as well as stylish. works with anything, basically.

    Blush Raincoat, Primark Haul
    Image Credit: Primark
    Blush Raincoat, £9.00
    Pretty and neutral and actually really handy. Being a blush colour it can go with pretty much any outfit. It's shower resistant and folds up into its own pocket so you can keep it in your bag.

    Super High-Waisted Skinny Jean, Primark Haul
    Image Credit: Primark
    Super High-Waisted Skinny Jean, £9.00
    Can't go wrong with a pair of high-waisted skinnies. Wardrobe staple that can be adapted for any situation.

    Monochrome Sneakers, Primark Haul
    Image Credit: Primark
    Monochrome Sneakers, £6.00
    Having a spare pair of shoes is always handy when you're skint, as you never know when you're going to wear out the sole of your current pair.

    Polka Dot Canvas Backpack, Primark Haul
    Image Credit: Primark
    Polka Dot Canvas Backpack, £8.00
    I mean it's polka dot so..? Can't beat a backpack for practicality, whether it's for the weekly shop, or just stuffing your stuff in for hanging out with friends. Or instead of using a carrier bag for your road trip snacks.

    Harry Potter Hufflepuff Notebook, Primark Haul
    Image Credit: Primark
    Harry Potter Hufflepuff Notebook, £3.00
    Sasha is a Hufflepuff, OK? She's the most lovely person, and even the other characters comment on just how selfless and nice she is. She gets this as a small treat to herself and because #HousePride.

    Beautiful Eau De Parfum, Primark Haul
    Image Credit: Primark
    Beautiful Eau De Parfum, £2.00
    Sasha gets this so she has something pretty to smell, something to lift her mood and remind her of good times, and to help keep her calm.

    Total £39.50

    Check out the other stops on our
    Collaborative Floored Blog Tour!

    Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood - Blog Tour

    Check soon for a review of Floored.

    What would be top of your Primark haul?

    09 July 2018

    The NetGalley Book Tag

    I saw this tag on Writing With Wolves and I couldn't resist it! It looks pretty fun and interesting, and I get most of my review copies from NetGalley. I have to admit that I am relieved that I don't have to actually disclose my NetGalley Feedback Ratio as it's pretty bad. I just can't help myself!

    NetGalley Member Professional Reader - The NetGalley Book Tag

    Auto-Approved: Who is one author whose books you automatically want to read, regardless of what they are about?
    There are a few! Teri Terry, Juno Dawson, Chris Russell, Eleanor Wood, Rachel Hawkins, Leigh Bardugo, Julie C Dao to name a few.

    Request: What makes you want to request a book on NetGalley?
    The cover, hype, a random why not? moment... I honestly have no self control on NetGalley and freely click away requests. It's led to some awesome reads, some less awesome reads, some new favourites and some things I'd rather have never read oops.

    Feedback Ratio: Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?
    I try to at least write a few words on them, if it's a DNF I put why it wasn't for me, and if I didn't enjoy a book I try to find what other people might like about it. I always review on Goodreads but I'm more selective for my blog.

    Badges: If you could create one badge to display on your blog, what would it be for?
    Probably something like EPIC REVIEWER because I have sent feedback on over 600 titles and I'd like some validation of my efforts please.

    Wish For It: What’s one book you’re absolutely dying to read?
    Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao. I am checking NetGalley daily at this point, because I absolutely loved the first book.

    2018 NetGalley Challenge: What was the last book that you received as an ARC that you reviewed? If you’ve never received an ARC, what’s the last book you reviewed?
    The last one I reviewed on my blog was The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts, and on Goodreads it was A Miracle For The Baby Doctor by Meredith Webber.

    Although I try to review every book I read, not all of those reviews make it on to my blog. And sometimes it takes a while for reviews to make it to my blog.

    I am tagging:
    Dystopia Fantasy Reads
    Pretty Purple Polka Dots

    Do you get review copies from NetGalley?

    06 July 2018

    Five Things I Love About Book Blogging

    Sometimes blogging can be hard, especially book blogging. It's easy to undervalue yourself, to feel like you're screaming into the void. But despite that, I love it. I'm part of a community of book lovers, and I have met some of the nicest people ever. And, I'm lucky enough to occasionally get sent amazing books by awesome PRs. I've been feeling a bit down about everything recently, so it's time to take a look at why I really love book blogging.

    A pile of books

    1. Sharing the Love
      I get to share my love of books all of the time. I get to review them, rant and rave about them, recommend them. I can be inspired and do weird stuff like photo edits or blending tea or making playlists.
    2. Twitter Friends and Twitter Chats
      When I'm not reading books and blogs, or when I'm supposed to be reading books and blogs, I spend a lot of time on Twitter. I love joining SundayYA chat and ending the week on a high. I love being able to shout into the void and find my people, find someone who's read the same book so I can rant or rave, get endless recommendations.
    3. Reading Blogs
      I follow almost 500 blogs on Bloglovin and I try to read a few every day. I'm currently challenging myself to clear my feed once a day and it's so much fun. Reading everyone else's posts is so inspiring too. I've found new tags, been inspired to clear out my wishlist, and added to my TBR. I've even sorted my dog into her Hogwarts House.
    4. Hidden Gems
      I love it when someone posts about a book I've never heard of, or something that's been out for a while that I can easily pick up from the library. A self-published gem that went under the radar. Or something totally out of my comfort zone that I end up falling in love with.
    5. Branching Out
      Being a book blogger has helped build my confidence online - I'm no longer afraid of rejection (and there is so much rejection), I'm part of a larger community in general, and I've even worked with my first brand (eek!). This means I'm comfortable starting to introduce other little things to my blog, expanding my niche. I've talked about tea, candles, my local area, TV Shows, and I have plans to talk about even more.
    Book pages as a design feature

    What do you love most about book blogging?

    05 July 2018

    Mid-Year Freakout Blog Tag

    I was tagged by Manon from Cafe Manon to do the Mid-Year Freakout Blog Tag.

    So now it's time to actually freak out because it's JULY ALREADY WHAT??

    Let's go!

    The Extinction Trials by SM Wilson

    1. The best book you’ve read this year?
    Start with the hardest? Eek! Probably Clean by Juno Dawson. It was honestly absolutely glorious to read.

    2. The best sequel you’ve read this year?
    The Extinction Trials: Exile by SM Wilson was just incredible. It's absolutely how a second book should be, and if anything I loved Storm even more. I was in my element reading it!

    3. New releases you haven’t read yet but want to.
    Why yes I did get an ARC of The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green in a book subscription box. So naturally I haven't picked it up yet. I guess I'm a bit scared?

    4. Most anticipated releases for the second half of the year.
    I am absolutely desperate to get my hands on Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao. When I read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns I fell in love with Xifeng, and I still have so long to wait! It's almost unbearable.

    5. Biggest disappointment.
    Probably To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. The story itself was pretty good, but the writing style was not my cup of tea and I just didn't enjoy it. It's still a book I'd recommend though.

    6. Biggest surprise.
    I was really surprised by Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh because I thought the first book was maybe 2.5-3 stars, and I wan't even sure if I'd read the second one. But I did, and wow. It blew me away.

    7. Favourite new to you, or debut, author.
    SM Wilson - I have already read The Extinction Trials and its sequel TWICE this year, and I'm gearing up to jump in again. I just love the world created, the dinosaurs, the danger, the intrigue. I love it all.

    8. Newest fictional crush.
    Charlie from Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde is definitely my newest fictional crush! I loved her narrative, her character, her motivations. Everything. She's just amazing.

    9. Newest favourite character.
    Rin from The Poppy War by RF Kuang. I read this book back in April and I still haven't managed to review it as it is such a difficult/amazing/scary book. But Rin was absolutely the standout character for me.

    10. Book that made you cry?
    When I read Skylarks by Karen Gregory I was a mess of tears. It just hit so close to home, right in the feels.

    Skylarks by Karen Gregory

    11. Book that made you happy?
    Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt makes me smile just thinking about it! It is an absolute joy, full of love and passion. And a beautiful story to boot!

    12. Favourite book to film adaption?
    I don't think I've seen any this year oops. I am quite excited for The Darkest Minds to come out later this year, as I recently read the first book.

    ​13. Favourite post you have done this year?
    I had so much fun with this post, blending my own tea for Children of Blood and Bone. I got to be creative in a whole new way, and it was very fun too.

    14. Most beautiful book you have bought this year?
    Spark by Alice Broadway has the most gorgeous shiny cover! Being a magpie, I bought it immediately.

    15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
    All of them? Ha, I have far too many to list, but I recently chopped my To Be Read list down to around 300 so I'm getting closer.

    I'm tagging:

    What a fun tag :) It was nice to look back, this year has actually been incredible for book blogging. Have you done this tag? Leave a link below and I'm come visit :)

    02 July 2018

    Blog Tour: No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli

    You know when you read the blurb of a book and just know that you're going to love it? That happened for me with No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli, so when Neverland Blog Tours did a call out for bloggers I was ON IT.

    No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli Add to Goodreads
    Following a family tragedy, eighteen-year-old Gabe LoScuda suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of caregiver for his ailing grandfather. Between the shopping trips and the doctor visits with Grandpa, Gabe and his friend John try to salvage their senior year, meet girls, and make the varsity baseball team. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to realize that going to school and looking after a grandfather with Alzheimer’s is more work than he ever imagined. And when long-lost Uncle Nick appears on the scene, Gabe soon finds that living with Nick and Grandpa is like babysitting two grown men.

    Aside from John, the only person who truly understands Gabe is Sofia, a punk-rocking rebel he meets at the veteran’s hospital. When these three unlikely friends are faced with a serious dilemma, will they do what it takes to save Grandpa? If there’s a chance of preserving the final shreds of Grandpa’s dignity, Gabe may have to make the most gut-wrenching decision of his life - and there’s no way out.

    Source: Blog Tour

    5 Words: Family, responsibility, friendship, loneliness, help.

    No Sad Songs is quite a difficult book to read, and definitely a difficult book to review. It explores so many hard-hitting issues and situations with nuance, and I've probably rewrote this entire review about five times. It's not all fun, but it's not all doom and gloom. Despite starting with earth-shattering grief, the books still managed to make me laugh.

    I loved the exploration of friendship. Honestly, John is the best friend anyone could ever have. He's so supportive and selfless and it broke my heart a little how good he was to Gabe. He's there for him. All of the characters have real depth and it really endeared them to me.

    A young boy who only really cares about pizza and his crush is forced to change completely and take on new responsibilities when a terrible tragedy turns his world upside down.

    The devastating impact of Alzheimer's on those who suffer from it and their carers really hit home and made me cry a fair few times. But the way Gabe deals with his lot, caring for his grandfather, growing up too fast, is excellently covered.

    Grab this book and grab some tissues, cause you'll need them.

    No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli Neverland Blog Tours

    01 July 2018

    Clearing Out My Wishlist

    My Bookish Amazon Wishlist isn't too bad. There are only 40 items on it, so I guess I'm not doing too bad and it's a nice round number. But it's definitely time for a bit of a clear out, especially as my other half raided my wishlist for my birthday and I know a few have since arrived in subscription boxes. And when better than the first of the month?

    This post is inspired by Northern Plunder's Steam Wishlist Clean Up.

    Amazon Wishlist, showing The Reader by Traci Chee and Bygone Badass Broads by by Mackenzi Lee and Petra Eriksson

    On My Wishlist

    Shh I'm Reading Socks
    The Book Lover's Journal
    Books I Have Read & Books I Want to Read Notebook
    Knock Knock This is a Book Bookmark Pad 
    Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
    The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
    Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie Mclemore
    An Enchantment of RavenS by Margaret Rogerson
    The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
    The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
    Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
    Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
    State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
    Practical Magic: by Alice Hoffman
    Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
    The Girl Savage by Katherine Rundell
    Cauldron's Bubble by Amber Elby
    The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
    Thou Art The Bomb Socks
    Doreen by Ilana Manaster
    The Reader by Traci Chee
    Bygone Badass Broads by by Mackenzi Lee and Petra Eriksson
    Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins 
    Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
    Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
    A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang
    The Pirates by Matthew West
    The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
    The Coldest Girl in Coldtownby Holly Black
    The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine
    Black Powder by Ally Sherrick
    Clean by Juno Dawson
    The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr
    The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
    North of Porter by Kirkland Ciccone
    Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott
    Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

    Now it's time to chop some stuff off the list. I want to try to get it down to 25 items so wish me luck!

    Already Bought

    Turns out there are some I have already bought!
    I got the audiobook of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson when it came out using my Aubile credit. Although I got a review copy of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, I couldn't resist the Waterstones exclusive with sprayed edges. Queens of Geek had been on my wishlist forever, and I finally caved and got the Kindle edition when it was on offer. I read a digital review copy of Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young and I loved it so much that I pre-ordered it as soon as I had enough money.

    From Subscription Boxes

    Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli came in my June box from Wildest Dreams along with lots of other incredible goodies including Oreos. In the Wildest Dreams/SundayYA box I got Clean by Juno Dawson, which I was extra excited for because it's the first book that my review has been quoted in! The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert was in one of my FairyLoot boxes a few months ago and had lovely sprayed edges. Another Fairyloot exclusive, State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury arrived in all of it's hardcover glory.

    Gifts and Giveaways

    I won An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson at the end of last year on a Twitter Giveaway so off it pops. I got Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie Mclemore for my birthday and it's absolutely gorgeous, honestly perfect for a gift. I'm reading it right now and really enjoying it, the writing begs to be read out loud.

    Changed My Mind

    Now it's time to get quite harsh and get rid of the things that I don't really need want.
    First up it's the Books I Have Read & Books I Want to Read Notebook. I have two book journals on my wishlist and looking at reviews I think I prefer the other one more. Next to face the chop is the Thou Art The Bomb Socks, because for a pair of socks (no matter how funny they are) they are very expensive.
    I'm dropping Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins from my list because it's book three in the series, and I have only read the first one! As much as I loved Rebel Belle, I don't want to get ahead of myself.
    Cauldron's Bubble by Amber Elby just isn't piquing my interest like it once did. The more I look at it, the less I want to read it, so it's bye for now. I used to use a Knock Knock This is a Book Bookmark Pad all of the time when I was reading, but it's been discontinued (boo) and so I'll have to take it off.

    The Ones I Should Have Dropped

    There are some books that I maybe should have dropped from the list, but for Reasons I am not.
    Why yes, I do already have seven different editions of I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. But I don't have this pretty yellow hardback and it's my favourite ever book, so it's staying. Doreen by Ilana Manaster is coming up as unavailable, but I really do want to read it and I can't find it to order it anywhere else.

    What's Left?

    Yaay I managed to get it down to twenty five! I'm counting that as a success because it was well over due and I am a book hoarder.

    Shh I'm Reading Socks
    The Book Lover's Journal
    The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
    The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
    The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
    Practical Magic: by Alice Hoffman
    Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
    The Girl Savage by Katherine Rundell
    The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
    Doreen by Ilana Manaster
    The Reader by Traci Chee
    Bygone Badass Broads by by Mackenzi Lee and Petra Eriksson
    Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
    A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang
    The Pirates by Matthew West
    The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
    The Coldest Girl in Coldtownby Holly Black
    The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine
    Black Powder by Ally Sherrick
    The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr
    The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
    North of Porter by Kirkland Ciccone
    Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott

    When did you last clear out your wishlist?

    25 June 2018

    Sort Your Dog Into Their Hogwarts House

    I saw this on Birdie Bookworm and couldn't resist doing it for Belle. Who hasn't wanted to sort their doggo into a Hogwarts house?

    Belle, Lancashire Heeler


    1.You take your dog to the a brand new dog park. They:
    a. Bravely bounce into the park, introducing themselves to all the dogs.
    b. Stick right by your side, annoyed if another dog tries to approach you.
    c. Are mostly interested in the agility toys (hoops, jumps) set up.
    d. Quickly introduce themselves to the other humans present, figuring out how to get pets/scratches from each.

    2.You place a treat under one of three upside-down cups. They:
    a. Wait for you to reveal where the treat is.
    b. Sniff until they’ve found the right cup, and push it over to receive the treat.
    c. Immediately go to the correct cup and treat, no sniffing required.
    d. Knock over all three cups to find the treat.

    3.A visitor comes over for the first time. Your dog:
    a. Runs happily up to the person, wagging their tail.
    b. Sticks by your side until you indicate that the visitor is okay.
    c. Does something new and unexpected each time you have a new visitor.
    d. Doesn’t let the person in until they have been thoroughly sniffed and approved of.

    4. It’s time for a treat! Your dog prefers:
    a. Pretty much anything you give them. They’re always up for something new!
    b. A simple puzzle toy, like a Kong filled with peanut butter
    c. A complex puzzle toy, where they have to solve a puzzle to get a treat dispensed (like a shuffle board or flip board)
    d. A chew, such as a bull stick or beef knuckle

    5. Does your dog have any nervous habits?
    a. Nope, they’re always confident.
    b. They yawn.
    c. They hide.
    d. They stick out their tongue or lick their nose.

    6. Does your dog bark a lot?
    a. Only if approached by an unfamiliar dog or person.
    b. All the time.
    c. Only if you ask them to “speak”.
    d. Yes, but only at a low volume.

    7. You take your dog to an obedience class. They:
    a. Grow bored after a while and start exploring the area.
    b. Keep trying until they get every command perfectly.
    c. Pick the commands up quicker than all the other dogs in the class.
    d. Figure out how to get to the treats without following a command.

    8. Would your dog make a good service dog?
    a. Maybe. They’re generally kind to everyone, but also love adventures.
    b. Absolutely! My dog would do anything for me.
    c. Sure – they’re a quick learner.
    d. Nope, there’s no way they wouldn’t get into trouble.

    9. You take your dog hiking. They:
    a. Run ahead to scout out the trail.
    b. Never get tired and stick by your side the whole time.
    c. Want to sniff everything.
    d. Stay close, but as the leader of your “pack”.

    10. You give your dog a new toy. They:
    a. Destroy it.
    b. Are obsessed with it and play with it for hours.
    c. Quickly grow bored with it.
    d. Would rather play with the packaging.

    Mostly As: Gryffindor – your dog is courageous, brave, and chivalrous. 
    Mostly Bs: Hufflepuff – your dog is a hard worker, is patient, just, and loyal. 
    Mostly Cs: Ravenclaw – your dog is intelligent, creative, a quick learner, and witty. 
    Mostly Ds: Slytherin – your dog is ambitious, cunning, resourceful, and a good leader.

    Hogwarts Slytherin House Crest, Harry Potter

    So Belle's a Slytherin. I guess I'm not really that surprised, because she is a devious wee pup when it comes to balls and food.