31 August 2018

ARC August Wrap Up

I joined 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, and I have to say... I smashed it.

My TBR was not the most ambitious, but I am a mood reader so I find TBRs difficult to stick to.

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

Books Read

Not only did I manage to read every book on my TBR, I also managed to fit in quite a few other ones too. I originally planned to read eight books for ARC August, but I actually read seventeen and now I'm even ahead in my Goodreads Challenge for the year. So here they are, in order read, and I've marked my original TBR books with a *.

That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
It Ends With You by SK Wright *
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson *
You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance *
Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes *
The Island by MA Bennett *
A Year At Hotel Gondola by Nicky Pellegrino
The Treatment by CL Taylor
Ascension by Victor Dixen
Damsel by Elana K Arnold
Light Years by Kass Morgan
Death in Provence by Serena Kent
Phantom by Leo Hunt
Killer T by Robert Muchamore *
Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi *
Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson *
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I am so proud by how much I've read, and it honestly felt so good to forgo Netflix in the evening and read for four hours after work instead. A surprising bonus is that I slept better too!

What was your favourite read in August?


30 August 2018

Rereading Books

I am a huge fan of rereading books. Sometimes a book is so awesome you have to pick it up again. Sometimes you feel like a different person than you were when you first read it. Sometimes you just need to read that book again for Reasons.

And I love it. I love slipping back into a book that I've loved, surrounding myself with worlds and characters that comfort me or challenge me. I love that I get something new from it every time, even if I have maxed out the number of rereads that Goodreads allows (24 if you were wondering).

My Five Most ReRead Books

I already had a vague idea of what books would be top of my reread count. They're the ones I turn to if I'm in a slump, or need a cry, or need a hug,
  1. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
  2. Lucas by Kevin Brooks
  3. Possessed by Kate Cann
  4. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  5. Fashionistas by Sarra Manning

#UKReReadathon

Hollie is hosting #ukrereadathon this weekend, from 31st August - 2nd September and I can't wait to join in. There's also a chat on the Sunday at 8pm, so I'm looking forward to discussing the books I've (hopefully) read.

#UKREREADATHON

My UK ReReadathon TBR

Basically, I plan to reread the entire Night World series by LJ Smith. I first discovered the series over 15 years ago (oh. I'm old, aren't I?) and I absolutely loved them. And I can't wait any longer to dive back in.

I'm really challenging myself with this TBR as the series is Nine Books Long. The good thing is they're Point Horror, and I remember them being short enough that I could read them after school, before bed, in one shot. I'll be ticking them off as I finish them!
  1. Secret Vampire ✔
  2. Daughters of Darkness
  3. Spellbinder
  4. Dark Angel
  5. The Chosen
  6. Soulmate
  7. Huntress
  8. Black Dawn
  9. Witchlight

Do you like to reread books?
Are you joining in with the rereadathon?

28 August 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #128

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 
Boarding School Books
No, YOU have a whole Boarding School Books shelf on Goodreads. They're like my catnip, and I absolutely love them. Hit me up with any recommendations if your favourite boarding school book isn't here!

    What's your favourite school based book?

    24 August 2018

    Death in Provence by Sarah Kent

    Death in Provence by Sarah Kent was an absolute delight to read. The perfect cosy mystery for a sunny day, best read with a glass of ice cold rosé. This book surprised me a little, and reading it made for a splendid summer's day.

    Death in Provence by Sarah Kent coverAdd to Goodreads button
    When Penelope Kite swaps her humdrum life in Surrey for a picturesque farmhouse in the south of France, she imagines a simple life of long lunches and chilled rosé... What she doesn't imagine is the dead body floating in her swimming pool.

    Convinced that the victim suffered more than a drunken accident, Penelope plunges headlong into local intrigue and long-simmering resentments to uncover the truth.

    But with a meddling estate agent, an unfriendly Chief of Police, a suspiciously charming Mayor, and the endless temptation of that second pain au chocolat, life in the delightful village of St Merlot is certainly never simple...

    Curl up and escape to the sunshine of Provence with this deliciously entertaining mystery!


    Source: Blog Tour

    5 Words: Mystery, family, secrets, community, Provence.

    This book was such fun to read - as much as there is a murder mystery kicking the story off and lurking in the background until the end, the writing is lush with tiny details that had me fully immersed in the setting.

    Reading this book I craved flaky pastrie and apricot jam and olives and crusty bread and rosé wine. I could feel the sun on my skin, feel the slight panic brought on by the drone of a wasp, feel the warm breeze on my skin.

    I liked that Penelope was a little bit cynical. It fit so well with her character, with her past. I loved her griping about her family, her bitterness towards her husband, her love for her friends. And I loved the way she glugs wine like there's no tomorrow

    For all that Death in Provence is a cosy mystery, it's definitely the perfect summer read. The writing is rich and evocative, truly beautiful. And I can't wait to read more from this author.

    23 August 2018

    You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance

    This book was a bundle of joy, an absolute delight to read. That's not to say that You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance is not serious. It is, and it asks some tough questions about the pressure put on young people. And it also has its tear jerking moments. So proceed with tissues and an open mind!

    You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance cover reviewAdd to Goodreads button
    Gracie Dart has always worked hard and she's got a wall covered with revision timetables and French verbs to prove it. But now GCSEs are behind her and she suddenly starts to think: what was the POINT of it all?

    When Gracie thinks she's dying of a disgusting tropical illness, she starts to worry she's been wasting her best years being sensible. It's like people say: you only live once - so isn't it about time she started LIVING?
    (OK, so the tropical illness turned out to be a fake-tan miscalculation. Anyone could make the same mistake.) 

    When Gracie decides to do something, she does it properly. Gracie Dart is about to live out her dreams. However embarrassing.


    Source: Giveaway

    5 Words: Friendship, family, life, experience, humour.

    I'm a huge Jess Vallance fan so I already had Expectations when it came to this book. And they were definitely exceeded by the time I finished this book.

    Getting my hands on this book was a bit of a YOLO moment. I was at YALC and it was getting late on the Sunday, I'd just pushed Birdy by Jess Vallance into Charoltte's hands saying "it's DARK" when I spotted the proofs at the back of the table. I had a bit of an eek fan girl moment and straight up asked the publicist what I had to do to win a proof because YOLO. Turns out absolute fan-girling works, and they handed it over so I had another eek fan girl moment and hugged the book for an hour.

    When you first meet her, Gracie is a bit of a hypochondriac, very serious about her studies and her future, and a little bit dramatic. OK, she's very dramatic. I loved how she overthinks everything, she over exaggerates everything. It was so me as a teen! Every little thing has the potential to be Drama.

    This book explored the pressures people face from practically every aspect of their lives. Gracie has the pressures of school, exams, her future, social media, friendship, the expectations of others... And that's just on the surface. I loved how Gracie realised so early on that maybe this isn't it.

    Her journey of self realisation, and living in the moment, was hilarious. Gracie is the type of person who needs to plan every moment, and seeing how she reacted to being forced out of her comfort zone made for a lot of laughs and some cringe-worthy moments.

    I loved how Gracie was pretty sure of her sexuality. She was like "yeah, not boys" and that was that. And everyone around her was fine with that. I loved her coming out too, it was so like my own experience. And I loved how it wasn't a big deal that Gracie likes girls. She just does. And I am here for non-judgmental sapphic representation.

    My absolute favourite part of this book is actually near the beginning. Not giving too much away, it involves a trip to Paris and a book soggy with tears. As much as Gracie has her initial "What's the point?" moment right at the start of the book, I feel that this was where she truly understood what she was trying to do.

    There were some moments when I felt a little bit scared for Gracie. When she decides to seize the day she really goes for it, and although I admire her confidence and her drive I was at times on the edge of my seat thinking about everything that could go wrong. And because I'm accustomed to the author's typically dark books, I was expecting everything to go wrong. It made You Only Live Once an unexpectedly tense read!

    I can't wait for more Gracie, and I'm so glad this is going to be a series. I can't wait to see what Gracie does next, for more overthinking and laughter.

    20 August 2018

    The Superlatives Book Tag

    I was tagged by Kelly from Kelly's Rambles to do The Superlatives Book Tag! This was a really fun tag, and one I want to come back to at some point, so I'm going to do it specifically for books I've read this year. Which also makes it a wee bit more of a challenge.

    The Superlatives Book Tag

    Most Likely To Be In The Movies: The Book That Would Make The Best Movie


    The Extinction Trials by SM Wilson

    This is probably the 2018 release I've reread the most. It is absolutely excellent and also DINOSAURS and who doesn't want an excellent story with dinosaurs in a movie?

    Biggest Drama Queen/King: The Most (Overly) Dramatic Book Or Character


    You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance

    Gracie's drama and over-reactions had me in stitches! She is just So Much and so excellent and funny to read, and her dramas are always overblown.

    Best Dressed: The Book With The Best Cover


    Clean by Juno Dawson

    Honestly this cover is probably the most gorgeous cover ever. It's rose gold foil. Minimalist and striking with a pale syringe. So shiny I could stare at it for hours.

    Most Creative: The Book With The Most Unique Plot, Characters, & Structure


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

    Seven authors, seven years, one relatively short book. And yet It Works. It works so well. I've reread it around three times already.

    Most Popular: The Book With The Most Ratings On Goodreads


    City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

    This. Book. Honestly I have tried so many times in the past to read it and I've DNF'd because I just didn't enjoy it. So this year I decided I was going to do it. and I did. I listened to the audiobook. And I wish I hadn't, because I still didn't like it.

    Most Likely To Succeed: The Book That Is Going To Be Appreciated For Many Years To Come


    The Poppy War by RF Kuang

    This book was so brutal that even four months on I grit my teeth at the thought of it. But honestly, it was a truly outstanding GrimDark fantasy.

    Class Clown: The Book That Made You Laugh Out Loud


    Royals by Rachel Hawkins

    Royals is excellent for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of how much it made me laugh. It is absolutely hilarious and would make an excellent Netflix rom-com.

    Most Improved: The Book That Started Off Slow, But Really Picked Up


    Ascension by Victor Dixen

    I feel like I'm cheating here, as it was only the first two chapters that were a little slow, but I wanted to feature Ascension somewhere in this list because I thought it was amazing, and the pace just keeps on building as the story progresses.

    Cutest Couple: Cutest Couple In A Book


    Light Years by Kass Morgan

    I have a thing for forbidden romances. And I couldn't get enough of Orelia's romance in Light Years, even if it's visited so rarely. I am here for this highly inappropriate ship.

    Biggest Heartbreaker: The Book That Broke Your Heart


    There were many ways and reasons that this book broke my heart, but the biggest of all was that it was all real. People had actually experienced such awful things in their lives. And I was a mess of tears reading.




    So that's it, the Superlatives book tag!

    I'm tagging in:
    Dystopia Fantasy Reads
    Golden Books Girl
    Amiiies Books


    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 Léonor. 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!