Monday, 1 September 2014

Books | Round-Up & Mini Reviews #2

The Savages by Matt Whyman

This book made me hungry throughout. I constantly had images of braised beef steak, big joints of honey roast gammon and thick pork chops. Except the Savages aren't cooking pork, gammon or beef, they're cooking human flesh. With years of practice dating back to the second world war, this unusual family pick out the healthiest humans who won't be missed by friends or family, prepare their bodies and create a feast to cleanse their soul and bring them together as a family. 
If you think this book sounds more like a horror than a children's book, you'd be right. I'm reading this book as a 22 year old and whilst I know that they are cannibals, I viewed it as a fantasy, far-fetched from our own world today, even though the book is set in today's society in a very realistic England. I'm not sure how a child would view this book as cannibalism is viewed as a very positive thing throughout the book, but from my point of view, it was an enjoyable read. 
Matt Whyman has a very specific way of writing Children's books, in that he treats them as if they were adults and doesn't patronize them, as some Children's authors so often do. The writing style does take a while to get used to and I had to read the book in as few sittings as possible, as each time I went away, it'd then take me a while to get back into it again. I would recommend reading this book if you want something a little different and especially if you're a younger reader, it would be interesting to see how you view the book.

My rating: 3 out of 5     View all my reviews here

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns is about Quentin Jacobson, a teenage boy who has been in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were friends when they were Children. Despite Q's feelings for Margo, this book isn't a love story. Margo breaks into Q's room late one night and convinces him to join her on a revenge adventure which lasts into the early hours of the next day. Thinking that everything would change and he would get to know Margo again, Q goes to school the next day, only to find that Margo has disappeared. Weeks go by without Margo returning and with her own parents turning a blind eye, Q takes it upon himself to solve her disappearance, using clues left behind by Margo herself. 

I enjoyed this book a lot and whilst it isn't my favourite John Green book, I still adore his writing style. As with all quintessential John Green books, the characters speak and act with a certain maturity that most people claim teenagers do not possess - I disagree with this. I think that his books are incredibly realistic and sure, not all teenagers behave the way John Green's characters do, but there are plenty who do. I loved the way the main character would speak with another character about a particular memory, then explain it to the reader, so we're kept in the loop. This reminded me of those films where halfway through, the actor turns and speaks to the camera and tells us what's going on. I haven't picked up on any other books that have done this, especially not in the YA genre but it was really noticeable within the first part of the book and I really enjoyed it. 

Around halfway through the book, I started to get really creeped out. I was genuinely worried for the characters and felt like I was in the desolated places with them. I felt uneasy being home alone whilst reading this book, which I really wasn't expecting as I went into this book not knowing anything about it, but expecting it to be a lighter, fun adventure read. I would definitely recommend reading Paper Towns and all of John Green's other work, I'll definitely be picking up more of his books as soon as possible.

My rating: 4 out of 5     View all of my reviews here

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I really like Rainbow Rowell's writing, somehow it comforts me and I can whizz through her books and fall in love with the characters before I even realise I've done it. Eleanor and Park was different, however. 
Eleanor is a misfit with frizzy red hair and strange clothes who comes from a tiny home where she can't be herself. When she starts her new school, she sits next to Park on the bus, a Chinese kid who reads comic books and is less than thrilled to have the new weird girl sitting next to him. Little did they both know, they would fall in love. 

Eleanor and Park didn't give me the same feeling of comfort as Rainbow Rowell's other books do, but I'm not sure why. I didn't like the way that Park would pick apart all of Eleanor's flaws in the beginning and whilst I know it showed that he loves her for her and not for the way she looks, it just made me uncomfortable to read his first impressions of her as, quite frankly, they weren't nice at all. I did enjoy reading the book as there were parts, particularly towards the end, that I absolutely loved. I might reread this in the future to see if that changes my opinion but so far, this is my least favourite Rainbow Rowell book. I'd love to hear other peoples thoughts on the book, if you agree or disagree with my review, please let me know!

My rating: 3 out of 5     View all of my reviews here

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Books | August Haul

If you've been reading my recent posts, you'd know that August has been an incredibly busy month, including my birthday. After working my little butt off at work and wanting to treat myself for my birthday, I bought quite a few books...

Most of my the books from this haul were again, like my last, from The Book People as they have cheap books and really good deals. The others were picked up from Amazon or from other various places. 
Firstly, the parcel from The Book People. I have read a few of John Green's books now, Looking For Alaska being my third. I read this book earlier in the month and loved it, aside from TFiOS, this may just be my favourite so far. 
A Diary of The Lady is a non-fiction biographical book about the editor of a women's magazine. Before stumbling on this book, I hadn't previously heard of it but my love of print mags and editors made me buy it and I can't wait to start reading. 

More than this is my fourth Patrick Ness book I've bought (the other three being the Chaos Walking trilogy) and whilst it is a huge hardback, it was only about £3. I also picked up a small picture book/guide to the TV show Mad Men. Whilst I've only seen a few episodes, I thought this little book would get me interested in the show so I can carry on with the series. 
I've heard lovely things about How I Live Now and it's been at the bottom of my wishlist forever, so when I saw it on the site, I couldn't help but pick it up. The same goes for Half Bad, which I've been dying to read ever since I saw Benjaminoftomes raving about it on Youtube! It was pretty cheap so I grabbed the opportunity to own it for myself. 

The next collection I picked up from The Book People was three tiny books from Charlaine Harris and are part of the Aurora Teagarden series. I think these three were her first three books (the first was written on 1990 - before I was born!) and I'm interested to see what her writing is like. 
I've heard amazing things about Jenny Han and in particular, her Summer I Turned Pretty series. When I saw this bind up of all three for super-cheap, I snatched it up. Whilst I don't particularly like this cover and prefer the individual ones, this version was so cheap I couldn't resist. 
She is not Invisible is a book I haven't heard too much about, but it sounds really interesting and it's probably going to be one of my next reads. 
Finally, from The Book People, I got 3 books from the Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series by Gyles Brandreth. I've heard nothing about this series and don't even know what they're about, but the covers were gorgeous so I couldn't help but pick them up.

Whilst in London for my birthday, I grabbed a few books from a book market near the London Eye. Linger was the first I picked up, whilst I don't know much about this series, I recognized the cover and knew this was the second in the trilogy so thought I'd get it. The Time Travelers Wife is one of my favourite films and when I saw the book in the market, I knew I had to read it. I'm not the biggest fan of reading the book after watching the adaptation, but in this case I'll make an exception since the story is so amazing. Finally, from the market I picked up Black Mirror. Another book I know nothing about but it sounds dark and the cover intrigued me so I thought I'd give it a go. 

I also picked up some books from Amazon Marketplace. Matched is the first in an interesting dystopian series by Ally Condie. I'm going to wait until I have the other two books before starting this but it looks amazing and I can't wait to start reading. Daughter of Smoke & Bone is the first book in a series that I've heard endless amounts of good things about so wanted to grab it for myself. Night Film sounds like an amazing murder mystery about the daughter of a famous Film director. The book is huge and has pictures of the evidence and parts of the story to accompany the writing. I've heard amazing things and will be reading it pretty soon. A Discovery of Witches is the fourth book I picked up from Amazon. After getting The Shadow of Night last month in a beautiful hardback, I wanted to get the first in the series to match. However, using Amazon Marketplace, I didn't realise that I was going to be sent the paperback version instead of hardback, so my versions don't match, but I'm still excited to start the series. 

Finally, I received a few books through Goodreads first reads and I was sent one for review through Shelf Awareness. The book I received through Shelf Awareness is Act of War by Brad Thor. I haven't read anything from this author before but I've heard his name thrown around the adult literary world quite often. I'm excited to read this book as it's quite far out of my comfort zone and will be something different for me to experience. The two Goodreads books I won this month are What's up with Jody Barton? by Hayley Long and Black Box by Cassia Leo. I've already read and reviewed Black Box and you can see my review here, but I'll be reading the other one pretty soon. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Books | Black Box by Cassia Leo

Black Box is about Mikki, a young troubled teenager who is hoping to fly to LA to end her life. That isn't a spoiler, we find out within the first chapter or so. Whilst at the airport discovering her flight has been delayed, she meets rich Harvard boy Crush. The book alternates between Crush and Mikki's point of view and whilst I thought this would be a problem for me, we were introduced to it very slightly and the different points of view became natural to the story line after a while. Without telling you too much about the story, I will tell you that this book is a romance, with some dark parts about the character's past that were very difficult to read. 
If you are particularly sensitive to themes involving rape, abuse, drugs or suicide, you probably shouldn't read this book.

I feel as though I should start this review by saying how much I adored this book. I was gripped and read it in two sittings and even though I finished it over 4 hours ago, it's still on my mind. As with most of the books I've been reading lately, I try to go into them without knowing anything about the story line or the characters, as it's so much easier to appreciate the book that way, so that is what I did with this book and whilst I was surprised by the parts that I wasn't expecting, I was also glad that I didn't know it was coming. 

Throughout the book we learn about Mikki's demons and it helps to show her character development throughout. I was pleased with the way Mikki changed throughout the course of the book and I liked that I slowly saw her walls being taken down. In some ways, I did feel I could relate to her character, as earlier in my life, I did spend quite a bit of time thinking about suicide and wanting to hide away from the world, although thankfully that's where the similarities stop. Whilst Mikki's past is one of the larger themes within this book, we also learn about some of Crush's demons as well, which was interesting because whilst they were a huge part of the story - his character never let it overshadow him helping Mikki overcome her fears and she was always the main focus for him. 

I only had one slight problem with this book and that's the Twitter aspect of it, and how they previously met via Twitter. I felt it was unnecessary to the story and seemed unrealistic, despite 'fate' playing a large role in the story as well. With the huge chance encounter being a main point in the story, I felt that this aspect was over the top and felt too forced. Thankfully, this only took up a tiny part of the book and the rest of the story was wonderful to read. 

As a final note - I'd like to mention the "playlist" at the back of this book. I discovered so many beautiful songs that fit so well with this book through the playlist and would highly recommend checking them out after you read this book. 

I would definitely recommend reading this book (if you are not sensitive to the subjects mentioned before) as it is a great slow-paced character-driven read that I will be rereading in the future. If you've read this book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it as I haven't read many reviews yet.

My rating: 4 out of 5

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Lifestyle | Busy Summer Months!

This last month and the month ahead will undoubtedly be the busiest months of my life thus far. With the busiest work schedule and uni deadlines, I've hardly had time to myself or to enjoy my 22nd birthday. As I've been distant from blogging lately, I wanted to do a quick little post to summarize the last few months in pictures. 

Photos: from top left to bottom right: 
1. The last photo taken with my dark hair - I've been dying it dark for about ten years and finally decided to go natural for a while. 
2. A walk along a Yorkshire lake on a Summers day. 
3. My first ever visit to EAT. (obsessed) and our first meal in London. I got a bacon, chicken and avocado sub, berry juice and granola with yogurt. 
4. Back to my natural ginger hair and pale skin. 
5. Steak birthday dinner at Angus Steakhouse in Picadilly Circus. Steak was barely warm, service was rushed and impersonal and overall experience was unsatisfying. Do not go here! 
6. Cute carousel bar by the London Eye, beach bar.
7. Virgin mojitos - the perfect drink on a hot London day!
8. Snog bright pink bus/shop - you could sit at the top and eat your FroYo!
9. "Freak show" by the London Eye - not sure what the area's called, same place as no. 6. 
10. Covent garden classical music performance. 
11. Pretty building as we were walking through London. 
12. Birthday champagne at my mothers house. 
13. Smoked salmon cream cheese bagel and nachos in Covent Garden. 
14. The Book People delivery/haul! 
15. Reds BBQ in Leeds - the best pulled pork you will ever eat. 
16. Late night drives in my batman PJs. 
17. Date night - been loving my hair like this lately!
18. The nicest candle I've ever smelt - Pink Lemonade Pound Cake by Bath and body works
19. Simple plait for a busy day at work!

What have you been upto lately? Have you enjoyed your Summer?

Summer Giveaway Winners

Firstly, I'd like to apologise to everyone who entered my Summer giveaway as the post got deleted and I've been too busy to write a new post stating the winners. As the original post is no longer there, I've reposted the widget below announcing the winner. I have emailed the winner and as per the rules, if he/she doesn't reply within 7 days, a new winner will be chosen and emailed. 

Thank you again to everyone who entered and I hope you enjoy reading my blog. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway