[TBR] January 2019

Happy New Year!

Wowza, another year gone… but with a brand new year starting, that means more amazing new releases, a fresh start to Reading Challenges and of course, resolutions we’ll probably never stick to!

And here’s something else I’ll probably never stick to… my January 2019 TBR.

I’ve chosen some (I hope) amazing books to kick start the year with and get me started towards the glory of actually completing my goodreads challenge this year…


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

I started reading this on my commute to work this morning, and boy am I glad I decided to kick off the New Year with this! I’m only 50 ish pages in and it’s already looking to be amazing!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I’ve also started reading this one already. I’m 80 pages in and throughly enjoying it so far.

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

I had hoped to get to this one before the end of 2018 but that just didn’t work out for me… so here it is at the top of my TBR for 2019. It sounds brilliant and I’ve heard great things – very much looking forward to getting started on this!

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I swear, if I don’t read this book this month, someone needs to shoot me. I think this may be the 5th time this books has been on my TBR over the course of 2 years… THIS IS THE ONE.


What’s on your TBR this month?

Life Update: Back To Blogging, Where I’ve Been and Taking Care of Myself

Hello Book Bloggers!

It’s been a while, but I can confidently say that I’m back to blogging again after having a break for a couple of months.

Where Have I Been?

Truth be told, I haven’t been anywhere, I’ve been here along still following the bookish community, but I decided to take a step back from blogging. Why? Well, to be honest, I just wasn’t enjoying it. Blogging had become a bit of a chore. I had no inspiration for what to post, I didn’t have the time or patience to put into making it great, and for people who know me, I just don’t like to do things by halves.

I decided instead to put my time into doing something I love, and performed in a show again. Musical Theatre is one of my biggest passions; I trained at a drama school for 3 years, and not being in a show was really starting to get me down. Now I’m in a much happier place, keeping myself busy and after having 2 weeks off work, found that I had so many idea for blog posts! In fact, I’ve planned ahead for the next 3 months!

There really is no telling how much difference it makes to your life when you take care of yourself. At the end of the day, there’s no point in doing something unless it makes you happy. In the light of #MentalHeathAwarenessWeek, I feel like there is no better time to talk about these things.

Since starting my blog and bookstagram 2 years ago, I kept it completely separate from my personal life – I didn’t share it with anyone I know and it almost became as though I had an online alter-ego… I realise now that this filled me with anxiety every time I thought about someone from my “real world” finding out about it – NOT GOOD. So, I’ve made the decision to share my blog and Instagram posts on my Facebook, where everyone I know can see them. There is no shame in loving books. There is no shame in reviewing books. And I don’t know why I ever thought otherwise.


So What Comes Next?

For starters, I’m going to continue to read and love books. I’m going to continue doing the things I love and stop putting so much pressure on myself. I’m in a career where the chances of me getting professional work are so, so slim and there is just so much competition out there. If I manage to land a professional performing job then yes, amazing, HOWEVER it is not the be all and end all, and as long as I keep trying and taking part in productions just for fun, it doesn’t matter. I’m still doing what I love which is the most important thing.

I’m thinking of giving my blog a little makeover and changing the theme to something fresh. Sometimes a new look is all you need to perks things up a bit. I’ll still be posting the same content, though I may include a few extra personal life updates every now and then, but I really just feel like changing the layout a little. If I don’t like it, I’ll just change it back again!

But for now, I’m going to start typing furiously as I watch the royal wedding, and catch up on all of the wonderful blog posts and book recommendations I have for you all.

And remember:

Put you first, people, you matter.

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2017 Wrap-Up: End of Year Book Survey

Best books of 2017

Thanks to PerpetualPageTurner for creating the perfect prompts for me to gather all of my bookish achievements and thoughts for 2017!


Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 40
Number of Audiobooks: 0
Number of Rereads: 0
Number Unfinished/Abandoned: 3


Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

It’s so hard to choose just one!

The Hate U Give

But I have to pick The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, because it blew me away. Read review HERE.

View my Top 5 2017 Releases

View my Top 5 2017 Backlist Reads

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Who Runs the World?

Who Runs The World? by Virginia Bergin was my biggest disappointment. I was so excited for it as the concept sounded great, but I hated it in so many ways and couldn’t even finish it.

You can read all the reasons I didn’t like this book in my REVIEW

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter surprised me because there is ZERO hype around this book, and it was so good! Such a little gem.

Read my Review

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

It’s no surprise, but the book I sold most copies of in my bookstore was The Hate U Give.

5a. Best series you started in 2017?

This is a tough one because I started a lot of really good ones!

I guess I have to pick A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses)23766634

ACOTAR Review

ACOMAF Review

ACOWAR Review

5b. Best Sequel of 2017?

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. This is a no-brainer for me. I LOVED this book like I would a child.

Read Full Review

5c. Best Series Ender of 2017?

Without choosing another SJM book…

Ruin and Rising (Grisha Verse, #3)

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo was the end of me. I devoured all three books back-to-back, and definitely *didn’t* cry for the entire last 100 pages of this book…

Read my review of the Trilogy HERE

6. Favourite new author/audiobook narrator you discovered in 2017?

I read my first Leigh Bardugo book this year, and immediately bought and read everything she’s written so far. A firm favourite.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Kite Runner

I don’t typically read adult contemporary fiction, but The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was one of the best books I read this year.

5/5 Stars

Read Full Review

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I read so many good books this year, this is so hard!

Okay, I’m settling on a duology that I tore through in a matter of a couple of days…

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity, #2)

I gave both This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab 5/5 stars. It was utterly thrilling and a really couldn’t put it down!

This Savage Song Review

Our Dark Duet Review

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t usually do re-reads, so probably none.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies, #1)

The cover for Empress of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza is gorgeous! Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the book as much as the cover and only gave it 3/5 stars, but it’s still pretty so who cares?

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Lila Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. She’s the best.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

After You  (Me Before You, #2)

After You by JoJo Moyes, simply because it was all about moving on and losing your fears to trust new people, and it came to me at exactly the right time in my life. My review for this will come soon, but I gave it 4/5 stars.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Pretty much half of the books I read…

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1)

Okay so I probably should have read this when I was a child, so I guess The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman wins this one, although I wasn’t overly impressed anyway and only gave it 3/5 stars.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

“I can’t know that something is possible, and sit back and not do anything to make it real.”

From Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls.

In all honesty, there were a lot more quotes I would have normally picked over this one, but I’m useless and don’t write any of them down… This one stuck with me though.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest Book:

Good Bones

Good Bones by Margaret Atwood. Number of Pages = 147

Longest Book:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Number of Pages = 699

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

I’m just going to have to say The Kite Runner again, because some parts of that book were bloody brutal and shocking in that sense…

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Alucard and Rhy from A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab.

I WILL GO DOWN ON HIS SHIP IF NECCESARY.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

If I’m going to be honest, no non-romantic relationships really caught my attention enough for me to be able to remember them this year… The one favourite friendship I had actually turned out to be romantic in the next book, so I have none.

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

SO MUCH PEER PRESSURE.

But A Darker Shade of Magic was incredible and I’m so glad I caved and read this.

5/5 Stars – Read Full Review

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Rhysand. Rhysand. Rhysand.

Can I say his name again..?

RHYSAND…

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

An interesting choice, I’m sure, but actually the Amazon island setting for Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo was the most vividly pictured in my imagination.

A very close second place goes to Velaris in A Court of Mist and Fury.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Wonder Woman: Warbringer was the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time! I loved everything about this book.

Read my Review Here

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Two books that I’ve previously mentioned:

The Kite Runner and After You both made my cry at several intervals throughout the book.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I’ve already mentioned it once, but it’s Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Seriously if you haven’t checked out this book, I highly recommend it.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas.

For context, my Goodreads review still remains as: “4.5 stars. Full review to come at the end of this weekend when I finally get chance to compile all of my thoughts and shattered heart…”

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi because it was the only non-fiction/biography I read.

Read my Review

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Who Run’s The World? by Virginia Bergin.

I didn’t like it, for the record. And it made me SO mad to read it. So much so that I abandoned it less than 100 pages in!

MAN HATE IS NOT FEMINISM.

You can read my ranty review HERE.


Bookish/Blogging Life

1. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I didn’t go to very many, but I organised a panel with Melinda Salisbury, Katherine Webber and Sara Barnard, where they did a YA quiz show with the audience and that was really cool.

2. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Can I say completing this post? Because my god this is long! If you’ve managed to read through to the end of this I’d say that would be one of your greatest achievements too…

3. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I’ve had several reading slumps which were SO HARD to get out of. I also let my blogging slip a lot so I plan to really get back on top of it in 2018.

4. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Most Likes:

June 2017 Book Haul – So Random!

Most Comments:

Top 5 Releases I’m Looking Forward To This Month…

5. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I went into the Gower Street (London) branch of Waterstones for the first time this year, and I love it! It’s like a heavenly maze of books that you can get lost in and tuck yourself away in a quiet corner for hours.


PHEW.

Jeez, that was one long post… The longest I have ever written in fact, so if you made it to the end then, congrats!

2017 was a good year for books, lets hope 2018 follows suit!

September/October Wrap-Up & TBR

So I’ve been a bit MIA on the blogging front recently.

I’ve just wanted to take some time to chill out and take some pressure off myself to actually enjoy reading for fun again, rather than it feel like a chore. But I’m going to keep on keeping on with writing review etc. and just make it more casual, so you might not see quite as much from me, but I’ll post at least once a week, so I hope you’ll stick around!


Here’s what I read in September/October:

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Caraval by Stephanie Garber ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Empress of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (Technically I finished this on the 3rd Nov. but I’m including it here because I started reading it in October).

My Goodreads Challenge is also well on-track, and I’m currently 2 books ahead of schedule (this is a miracle).


My TBR for November:

The Assassins Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Considering that 2 of these book are 600+ pages each, I think my chances of finishing my TBR for this month are slim to none, but I’ll sure as hell give it a good go!


What will you be reading this month?

Book Review: Empire of Storms (ToG #6) – Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.


I know I say this every time I write a review of a Sarah J. Maas book, but seriously, WHY DID SHE LEAVE IT LIKE THAT?!

I need more, and I need it NOW.

I know there are issues with this. I hate Rowan and his possessive control over Aelin, and don’t understand why every single character needs to have a romantic pairing, but Maas has a way of writing plot lines that suck you in and are just seriously addictive. I’m total trash for it, I don’t even care.

Once again the drama has been kicked up yet another notch and once again we’re left with a gaping hole where this book once was, a massive book hangover, and A YEAR LONG WAIT until we find out what the hell happens next.

I don’t know if I’ll survive.

Send help.

This next paragraph contains romantic interest spoilers, be warned…

I adore Lorcan and Elide and I will ship them to the end of the earth. The pairing between Manon and Dorian I feel is a bit unnecessary, I always felt like Manon was a fierce independent woman who doesn’t need a man, but there we go. And can we just please spare a thought to that tragic, uncomfortable beach scene which I feel like everyone could have done without having to endure… ahem.

Anyway.

Crown of Midnight and Queen of Shadows are still my favourites in the series so far, but I really did love this one too overall.

Next stop, Tower of Dawn!


 

Book Review: The Lie Tree – Frances Hardinge

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

23592175Synopsis: Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy – a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder – or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.


I have heard so many good things about this book and Hardinge as an author.

I don’t know if I was just reading this at the wrong time, but I just wasn’t all there for this book. Firstly, it took me AGES to get through. Like, 2 weeks… it’s barely 300 pages long…

Like I said, I don’t know if it was just because being on a boat for 6 weeks had completely mentally drained me, but I found the first half of the book painfully slow. It wasn’t until half way through (coincidentally, when I was settled back at home) that I became more engaged with the story and the characters.

I found the concept really intriguing, and actually loved the descriptions of Faith’s visions when under the influence of the Tree’s “truth fruit”; it was whimsical and magical whilst remaining dark and haunting. I also loved Faith’s bravery and determination to overthrow the societal views towards females – The increase of strong female characters in children’s literature over the past few years has been inspiring and long overdue!

Unfortunately, I really hated all of the other characters. I found Faith’s mother intolerable, and Faith’s father was so distant and uninvolved that for the first two thirds of the book, I really didn’t understand Faith’s devotion towards him and his memory.

I don’t feel like my review of this book can ever be 100% true to my feelings, just because I really don’t know where I sit with it, and whether my enjoyment of the book was in fact influenced by my severe need to be back on dry land! But overall, I still don’t like I would have fully enjoyed the book as I feel like the characters would have grated on me regardless of my location.

Ultimately, although it took me a while to get into it, I genuinely enjoyed it. A dark, mysterious tale with a strong female protagonist.


View The Lie Tree on Goodreads

Book Review: Salt to The Sea – Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

28103790Synopsis: 

It’s early 1945 and a group of people trek across East Prussia, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore’s The Siege will be totally absorbed.

This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Ruta Sepetys, acclaimed author of Between Shades of Grey, brilliantly imagines their story.


I read this book about a sinking ship, whilst on a ship… whose wise idea was that?!

So anyone who knows me, knows that I love anything set during the second world war. I don’t know why, but there is just something about that time period that just grabs my attention.

I was sure that I was going to love this. Only, I didn’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, I just didn’t love it as much as I had expected. I have really high expectations for books set in this time period, after my favourite book, The Book Thief blew me away, and then All The Light We Cannot see followed suit.

I don’t particularly know why, but perhaps it was due to the fact that I didn’t feel connected to any of these characters for about half of the book. The story follows four main perspectives, all of which are keeping a dark secret. When I found out these secrets, I felt like for the most part, they weren’t big enough to have much significance, and so where I spent a lot of time focusing on these secrets, I lost a lot of the parts which would have made me grow fond of these characters.

The actual writing and telling of the story was beautiful. I felt like I could picture every moment, and still now, after a month since reading it, I can recall specific images in my mind. The turmoil and destruction, and sheer desperation of these people seeking to flee was depicted devastatingly well.

The ending was a bit cryptic in my opinion. I’m still not 100% sure on some of the details of how events following the disaster played out, or even who the letter at the end is written by. I feel like I would have to re-read it to grasp it.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I think it’s a beautifully told account of events well worthy of it’s Carnegie nomination.


View Salt To The Sea on Goodreads