Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Updates | I Will Be Back

I just want to write a quick note today to say that I haven't completely abandoned this blog. I haven't posted in so long due to university and my personal life both being incredibly stressful. However, now that it's getting to the holidays and I am almost done with uni until January, I had great intentions of jumping back into blogging. Unfortunately, life had other plans. I currently have no working internet connection at home and won't have for the next two weeks at least! I will try and find a way to post before then if I can but it could be a challenge.

So, I will be back blogging as soon as I possibly can and I can't wait to get back into the swing of things when my internet is finally fixed!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke And The Bookish. Lists galore, I can think of nothing better!

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in forever! This week's topic is books you want your future children to read and I love this topic. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to get involved this week as there are so many great books from my childhood that I would love my future children to read, and those that I read more recently that I wish I had read as a child.

1. Harry Potter
If my future children only read one book series in their lives, I would obviously want it to be Harry Potter. I didn't read this as a child and I feel that I would have loved it much more if I had. The popularity ruined it for me so I would love my future children to just enjoy this series for what it is and experience the magic.

2. Jacqueline Wilson
Is there any British girl that didn't read at least one Jacqueline Wilson book growing up? I only read a few of her books but she has so many books with such great messages and important lessons that can really get children thinking.

3. Winnie the Pooh
My mum read Winnie The Pooh stories to me as a baby and I have been obsessed with Winnie The Pooh ever since. I really want to pass my love on to my children. I definitely want to read these books to any future children as babies and hopefully they'll share my love and want to read them themselves when they get older.

4. Roald Dahl
Who doesn't love Roald Dahl's books? I grew up reading these books, they were even my school reading as a younger child, and the stories are timeless. There are so many important lessons to be learned from the books as well.

5. Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
I had to read this book for school as a 11/12 year old and I still remember the impact it had on me to this day. This is the only book I ever read for school that I enjoyed and that really made me think. It's one I would really love to reread and definitely one I think my future children should read.

6. St Clare's series
Enid Blyton's St Clare's series is one I started as a child and never finished but have started to read again this year and am still enjoying it. This series is the perfect fun boarding school story for younger children and I think despite the first book being written in 1941, it can still be read and enjoyed by all ages to this day.

7. Percy Jackson series
This is another series that I read to late. I have recently decided not to continue with this series as I just find it a bit too young for me. However, I really wish I had read this when I was younger as I definitely think it is something I would have loved. I would love for my future children to have an interest in Greek mythology, like I do, so I would definitely want them to pick up this series.

8. Deeper Than Blue by Jill Hucklesby
This is a pretty random book that I don't think many people at all have heard of (it only has 250 Goodreads ratings) but this was my favourite book when I was younger. This story had such an impact on me and teaches such valuable lessons about life, friendship and loss.

9. Catherine/Cathy MacPhail
As a teenager, I absolutely adored Catherine MacPhail's books and made my way through every one in my school library. She has written about everything from teenage pregnancy to bullying to creepy doppelgangers to teenagers trapped in an underground cave. There's something for everyone and again her books are full of really great messages and lessons.

10. Confessions Of Georgia Nicholson series
I may change my mind about this one when it comes to actually having a child at the age to read this but this is a series I loved as a teenager, and still enjoyed as a not-so-teenager, and it taught me a lot about how to be a teenage girl.

What books would you want you future children to read?

Sophie :)

Monday, 13 November 2017

Let's Talk | Organising My Goodreads TBR & Down The TBR Hole #1

If you're anything like me, you spend way too much time on Goodreads adding book after book to your 'Want To Read' shelf until it reaches an unmanageable number. That is the point I have reached recently. I currently have 415 books on my TBR shelf on Goodreads, some of these I own and I most likely will get to them eventually, but the majority of them are just books that seemed interesting to me at one point and I haven't thought about since. As that number is constantly growing, it seems about time I found some way of getting it under control.

For the past couple of years, I have used a system that organises my TBR by priority. I have a 'top shelf', 'middle shelf' and 'bottom shelf' on Goodreads and when I add a book to my TBR, I decide whether it's a book I am desperate to read as soon as possible, one I would like to get to soon, or one I might like to pick up in the future. This system worked for me for a while, however even this has become a bit unmanageable recently. The only real way to get this under control is probably to get the number down!

A few months ago, inspired by a post on a blog I follow (I tried to hard to find who it was but it was too long ago), I went through my Goodreads shelves and got rid of a good few books. If I remember rightly, I had around 500 books and got it down to just under 400. I was so proud of myself but that is still a huge number. More recently, I saw a post on Escape Life In The Pages featuring a meme called Down The TBR Hole, originally created by Lost In A Story about a year ago. It involves going to the oldest books on your Goodreads TBR shelf and looking at 5-10 at a time to decide whether or not you're still interested in them.

" It works like this:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf. 
  • Order on ascending date added. 
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books 
  • Read the synopses of the books 
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?"
So I figured while I await some fabulous advice on how to organise my Goodreads TBR (if you have any please, please, please let me know!), I would try this out and see if I can get the number down. I'm not including the books I own because if I own them I probably want to read them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

I used to own this book and picked it up once but couldn't get into it so donated it. I then regretted getting rid of it so added it to my Goodreads TBR again. This is obviously such a popular book but I think I'll just stick to the film, I don't see myself ever picking this up.

Judgement: Go

Image and video hosting by TinyPicAlong For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

This is a YA contemporary about a girl who is going to spend the summer wither her dad in a small beach town. I know I want to read more Sarah Dessen since she's like the queen of YA contemporary and that is my favourite genre. I love summer stories and I love small beach towns so this is definitely my cup of tea.

Judgement: Stay

Image and video hosting by TinyPicSize 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

This is essentially a chick-lit, murder mystery set in college dorm with an ex-pop star as the main character and wannabe detective. I'm not completely sold that this is something I would enjoy but I do love books set in college dorms and I'm intrigued by the synopsis enough to want to give it a go. It sounds like it could be pretty funny, maybe a bit Bridget Jones-esque, which could be a lot of fun, but with a darker tone to it as well.

Judgement: Stay

Image and video hosting by TinyPicOne Day by David Nicholls

I didn't have a clue what this was about until I read the synopsis again. It's a very popular "chick-lit" book about a couple and their relationship but on one day over twenty years. It does sound really intriguing but I don't honestly think I'm interested enough to pick it up. I know it's a movie and I'm not the kind of person who has an issue with watching the movie if I'm not super interested in reading the book.

Judgement: Go

Image and video hosting by TinyPicHow To Eat A Cupcake by Meg Donohue

This is another "chick-lit" book about two childhood friends who open up a cupcakery together. I'm pretty sure the only reason I added this to my TBR is because I love baking and I love cupcakes. I don't think I was ever particularly interested in the story at all, and I'm still not. I don't think this is something I would like now and I don't find the synopsis all that interesting.

Judgement: Go

I don't think getting rid of 3/5 books from my TBR is too bad a result, hopefully this can really help me get that number down. I would like to do this quite regularly so there will likely be another one soon, but for now if you have any tips on how to organise my Goodreads TBR or tips to help me cut the number down, please let me know. I clearly need help!

How do you organise your Goodreads TBR? Do you have a huge number like me (please make me feel better) or have you got yours under control? Do you get stressed like me if the number gets too large?

Sophie :)

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Bullet Point Reviews | Some 2016 Reads

Back in April I did a similar post to this in which I included very short bullet point reviews of some of the books I had read in previous years but had never gotten around to reviewing on the blog. I make notes for all my reviews after reading the book but I occasionally end up forgetting about those reviews and they never actually make it to the blog. Now that is has been some time since I read them, for the most part I don't remember quite enough to write a detailed, coherent review. However, I do still have the original notes that summarise my main thoughts on the books and decided to share them in order to share something of my opinions on these books. They may not be the most helpful or well-written reviews but at least it's something, right?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe New Girl by Tracie Puckett
Series: Webster Grove #1
Published On: January 1, 2012
Published By: Tracie Puckett
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 76
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★
Amazon | Goodreads

- I didn't hate it but I definitely didn't love it.
- It was very short so it was easy and quick to read.
- I liked most of the characters.
- If it wasn't a story about a student-teacher relationship I probably would have liked it more. I just can't read about this topic without feeling very uncomfortable.
- The ending was unnecessary and completely unrealistic.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicCity Of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #1
Published On: March 23, 2007
Published By: Walker Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 506
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon | Goodreads

- I was so scared by the insane hype surrounding this series that I put off reading this book for so long.
- Luckily, I ended up really enjoying it.
- I really like all the characters and each of their quite different personalities.
- I found the world very fascinating, though a bit confusing. I think it was well developed but could do with some more explanation, which I assume will come in the rest of the series.
- I will definitely be continuing on with the series, I can't wait to see where it goes.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
Published On: April 2, 2013
Published By: Headline
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon | Goodreads

- This was a fun, quick summer read. Exactly what I would expect from Jennifer E Smith and just as good as I thought it would be.
- I really enjoyed both the story and the characters. I even enjoyed the 'famous person' aspect, which isn't usually my thing.
- I really loved the small town setting. It is something I generally enjoy but it also added to the summer feel of the book.
- This is a great book for putting you in the summer mood. It has a great romance and a fun story. However, it isn't anything particularly special or unique.

I hope these were somewhat helpful in giving my opinions of these books. There should be a second part to this coming soon. If you have read any of the books mentioned, what did you think of them? Did your opinions differ to mine?

Sophie :)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

TBR | October 2017

I know we're already well into October now so I'm very late sharing my TBR but with the lead up to Halloween I thought I would share some of the seasonally appropriate books I plan to read in the next few weeks. I absolutely love reading thrillers around this time of year and have been stocking up on some throughout the year to pick up this month. I am super busy at the moment though so I may struggle with this list, I suppose this is not so much a TBR as 'books I think I might like to pick up this month'.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook - This is her newest book being published in October, and after quite enjoying With Malice I can't wait to get to this one. I already have a copy of this through Netgalley so this is one I definitely need to get to this month. I really don't know what this is about but I know it involves a tarot card reader and a kidnapping.

You by Caroline Kepnes - I have been desperate to pick this up for the longest time but have never gotten around to it. This is my top priority for this month. All I know about this is it's about a guy who stalks a woman he meets in a bookstore and it is written in second person.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - This is the last of Gillian Flynn's currently published works that I have to read and is another one I have been desperate to read for a while now, definitely about top priority. This is about a journalist who returns to her home town to cover the murder of two young girls and if faced with her own past that she has to deal with.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - I have had this sitting on my shelves for so long and still haven't picked it up. I have heard such great things about Liane Moriarty's writing, particularly recently with the success of the adaptation of another of her novels, so I am excited to get to this one. This is about a woman who finds a letter written by her husband, for her to open after he has died, which reveals his darkest secret. However, he is still alive.

Those are the four that I definitely would like to pick up if I have the time. However, I do have some more on the list that I would like to pick up if I get to all of them (not likely). This is where I need some help. Which of these books do I absolutely need to pick up if I have some extra reading time this month? The list includes:

What are you planning on reading this month? Do you like to read thrillers around the Halloween season?

Sophie :)

Monday, 9 October 2017

Review | Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published On: August 6, 2009 (Originally 2007)
Published By: Penguin Random House
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★

Amazon | Goodreads

You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. 
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play. Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it, outside his front door. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them. 
If he listens, Clay will find out how he made the list - what he hears will change his life forever.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I think I must be one of the last people to read this book. There has been hype surrounding this book since I first got into reading and it was one of the first books I ever read a sample chapter of back when it was first popular. More recently, though, with the success of the TV adaptation, the hype surrounding this book has been so crazy I felt like I had to read it to see what all the fuss was about. I mean, surely all those people couldn't be wrong, I was obviously going to love this, right? Sadly, not.

I am one of the apparently quite few people who did not love this book. In fact, I really disliked this book. I had heard some negative things in the midst of all the love so I didn't go in with very high expectations, however I was sadly still disappointed. 

This book is obviously about the thirteen reasons why Hannah decided to commit suicide. You would think, given that premise, that Hannah would be the kind of character you would feel compassion for and just generally like. Maybe I'm just heartless but I couldn't stand Hannah. She was probably one of the most annoying main characters I have ever read about and I just couldn't bring myself to feel compassion for her. Of course it was horrible that she felt the need to commit suicide, but I really didn't care about all of her problems.

I found Hannah's reasons for committing suicide completely ridiculous. I do feel quite heartless for saying that but it is true. There were a few 'reasons' explained in the tapes that were understandable and I could definitely see where the harm was cause but the majority of them seemed unreasonable. It just seemed to me that the ultimate reason for Hannah committing suicide was 'life is hard sometimes and people can be mean'. I could completely understand horrific bullying reaching such an outcome but I know a lot of people who would wish they were treated the way Hannah was rather than what they are dealing with. Maybe I missed the point but it seemed completely unreasonable to me.

While I understand they are essentially what makes the story what it is, I really did not like the idea of the tapes. These tapes that Hannah was essentially threatening people with beyond the grave, as well as Hannah's suicide in general, seemed almost like revenge. It felt to me like she was trying to get back at all these people for the things they had done to her by committing suicide and making sure they knew their part in it. It was uncomfortable to read about and, in my opinion, provided a very unhealthy representation of suicide and mental illness.

The one redeeming quality of this book for me was Clay. Clay was the only reason I didn't DNF this book. I found him and the way he handled this situation he was thrust into fascinating. I really felt for him throughout the book and thought the way he was so invested in the tapes and following Hannah's story said a lot about him as a character. I highly doubt I would have finished this book if it hadn't been for him.

Overall, I was incredibly disappointed in this book. For still being so popular over 10 years after first publication, I expected the hype surrounding it to be deserved. I definitely did not expect to dislike it as much as I did. Like I said, maybe I just missed the point but this book was most definitely not for me.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Review | There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThere's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Published On: October 5, 2017
Published By: Pan Macmillan
Genre: YA, Horror
Pages: 289
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Over a year after her parents sent her away from Hawaii to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, Makani Young is still adjusting to her new life. She's made a small group of close friends and even flirted with romance, but her past in Hawaii is still hard to forget. 
And then . . . one by one the students of her new high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders. Makani doesn't know who's next on the list. Between this, and a secret scorching relationship with the school weirdo, this school year may turn out to be one to die for . . . literally.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

As Stephanie Perkins is one of my favourite authors of all time, of course this was possibly my most anticipated release of the year, meaning I had very high expectations going into it. There's Someone Inside Your House is very different to any of her previous work. She is so good at writing adorable contemporary romance stories that I love, so I was a bit unsure of how I would feel about a horror novel, something I don't typically pick up otherwise.

I feel like this book is a good introduction to the horror genre if, like me, you would normally gravitate towards a cute contemporary. It was very much like a contemporary novel with horror elements thrown in, which made it almost more familiar to me and less out of my comfort zone.

Surprisingly, I really loved the horror elements of the story. I honestly did not expect those to be the parts I enjoyed the most but I found it to be perfectly gory and creepy. I liked that the book wasn't filled with constant horror and gore but I found myself getting excited when I could tell those things were coming. I especially loved all of the creepy, interesting death and methods of killing people. Maybe I'm more of a horror fan that I like to think.

I also found it very surprising, especially for a Stephanie Perkins novel, that I didn't really like the romance. There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, the characters were fine together and it was written well, but it just didn't seem very necessary to the story. It was almost as though she was trying too hard to add in the cute relationship that she has become known for when I think the book would have been just as good without that aspect.

While I wasn't the biggest fan of the romance, I did really love the friendships. There is a really great friendship group in this book that I loved reading about. I want another book just about this friendship group before the events of this story. I especially loved that the friendship group included a transgender character, Darby, who was probably my favourite character and I so badly wanted more of him in the book, particularly as Stephanie Perkins' previous books have not had the most diverse cast of characters (please correct me if I'm wrong but no characters come to mind).

The biggest issue I had with this book was the focus on Makani's huge secret. We were constantly reminded about her troubled past and the huge secret that made her leave Hawaii. I was fed up hearing about this huge secret. It was built up so much that I expected something massive and I was incredibly disappointed. It was just odd and not necessary to the story. It felt like it was added in to the story to make the book a bit longer, fill up some extra space, but add nothing to the story.

I found it very odd that the killer was revealed half way through the book. I had to reread that part a couple of times to make sure I wasn't missing something. It took away from the mystery of the story but I did still enjoy the second half of the book despite knowing who the killer was. I just found it very strange, particularly as that has never happened in any mystery books I have read before so I was not expecting it.

I was expecting, however, a lot of things that happened in the book. It was a pretty generic 'slasher movie' plot and a lot of it was quite predictable. There were a lot of things that I could see coming from very early on in the book, like the ending, and I wasn't surprised by any of the deaths. The one thing I didn't see coming was the reveal of who the killer was.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book but with my expectations being so high, I did judge it very harshly while reading. I think it was a good first attempt at a horror novel and I am definitely interested to see what else Stephanie Perkins can write in this genre. I would like to read more horror from her but perhaps with less of a contemporary feel. However, this was a good starting point for me to branch out into more of the genre. I would say this is a perfect Halloween read and great for anyone who enjoys a good slasher film.