Monday, 20 March 2017

A-Z Challenge 2017


Today is the day that I announce that I shall be taking part in the 2017 A-Z Challenge!


I took part back in 2013 and thought it would be fun to give it another try.
And as a sneaky way to force myself to blog more

If you haven't heard about this then head on over to here to have a little look at what its all about, and maybe you can take part too! 
Its still not too late to join!

Today is the BIG REVEAL, where people taking part in the challenge can let everyone know what theme they will be using for their posts.

 
For my A-Z this year I shall be writing about Folklore & Fairytales

Traditional stories, fables and myths from all over the world!
Maybe with a splashing of mythical creatures thrown in too if you're lucky! 

I want to focus on the less well known tales, or the older telling with more violence, evil and gore! 
Because we all know they're much more interesting!

I'm hoping that we'll learn some interesting and obscure things along the way and I hope that you're willing to join me on this alphabet adventure!

I'll also be carrying on with my book review throughout April as well. Because I definitely won't stop reading, so be prepared for LOTS of blog content this month!

If anyone here is also doing the A-Z Challenge then please leave me a comment and I'll pop on over to take a look at your offerings too :)

Friday, 17 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: More of Me

Title: More of Me
Author: Kathryn Evans
Published by: Amulet Books
Publication date: 13th June 2017
Format: Kindle
Source: Netgalley ARC

"I have grown in strength inside her. Filled her cells with mine until we must split apart. It's not my choice - that's how it's always been for us."
This is the tale of Teva. 
A girl who splits into two versions of herself every year. 
A girl who lives in a house with all of her previous selves who are never able to age. 
A girl who has chosen to fight to try to keep her life as her own. 

This book was quite an unexpected gem for me. 
I loved the idea of it but had no idea that I would enjoy it quite as much as I did. 

The story is written so well that I struggled to put it down. 
It kept me hooked the whole way through. 
NEEDED to know what was happening!

The author keeps us guessing about the nature of Teva's condition. 
Is it real?
Why does it happen?
Is she crazy?
Can it be stopped?
Who can she trust?
I had so many different theories about what was going on while I read this book. It kept throwing new things at me and making me reevaluate my ideas constantly. 

It was tense and mysterious and confusing and I loved it!

The characters were great and well written. 
All of the different Tevas were distinctly different and interesting. I really enjoyed reading about how their relationships worked and how they all interacted with each other. 
The current Teva was easy to like and sympathise with. 
I loved the fierce friendship between Teva and Maddy. 
Though I do wish there was less emphasis on boys/relationships being the thing that was holding Teva together and getting her through. 

I also enjoyed the interesting moral dilemmas that the current Teva faced once she had split away from 'Fifteen'. 
Was she stealing Fifteens life?
Was it her own life anyway?
Was Ollie Teva's boyfriend or Fifteen's?
Was she the same person?
Was it right that her mum locked all the previous Teva's away and didn't let them live their lives?
Should she bother working towards a future she would never be able to experience? 

I found this to be a really original and gripping story. 
Definitely worth a read!



Wednesday, 15 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Black Witch

Title: The Black Witch
Author: Laurie Forest
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: 2nd May 2017
Format: Kindle
Source: Netgalley ARC


I just can't with this book. 
I can't. 

I had to stop at 45%. I just couldn't force myself to carry on any further. 
Even getting this far was a struggle. 

This book is sooo problematic. 

I'm aware the author is probably setting it up so that our oh-so-special MC can grow and change and become a better person and probably change the whole bloody world along the way. 
But no. 

It was racist and sexist and just awful. 

Was the author trying to make Lukas Grey seem attractive to the reader?
Because he really just comes across as a privileged, entitled, douche bag. 

When Elloren first meets him he hurries her away to a dark corridor within the first 5 minutes because she's never been kissed and he needs to rectify this right away apparently. 
No. 

When Elloren asks him to show her some magic what does he do?
Make some magic flowers for her?
Put on a beautiful, impressive display?
No. 
He wraps her up in dark tendrils of magic and pulls her to him forcibly. 
Gross. 

And then later after Elloren has just said she needs to stay away from him and is LITERALLY stepping backwards away from him, he 'binds' her with a spell to pull her closer to him and starts getting all kissy-kissy with her neck and chuckling. 
No, no, no!
She just said no to you dude!
Not okay!

All of the females were bitchy and catty and hating on each other. 

One of the main tensions in the book is Elloren and a nasty, bitchy girl fighting over the terrible Lukas Grey. 

Certain races were slaves, sold him cages, described as 'deranged hordes' and 'half-breeds'. 
Our charming Lukas threatens their families (including a 5 year old child!) because they hurt poor, precious Elloren. 

What with all the racism, classism, arranged marriages, and such I couldn't give this book anymore of my time. 

Not to mention it's incredibly dull and slow. 
Nothing seemed to happen. 
And all that nothing happened at an incredibly slow pace. 
I just didn't care about any of it other than how offensive it is. 

I'm totally aware that Elloren will probably realise the error of her ways at some point in the story. 
But at 45% in I feel like she should already be making strides towards this?
Not still hating everyone of a different race to her and judging other girls for being 'ugly'. 
Come on. 

No thank you.



Monday, 13 March 2017

My top 5 dystopian novels.


I love a good bit of dystopia!
Who doesn't?
(Well, probably loads of people don't, but shhh!)

Here are my top 5 picks!










Have you read any of these? 
If so, what did you think? 
If not, then WHY NOT??? Go read them right now!!! RUN!
...and then let me know what you think of them :)

What's your favourite dystopian novel?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Strange The Dreamer

Title: Strange The Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 28th March 2017
Format: Kindle
Source: ARC


Oh my gosh.
This book!

I don't even know what to say.

It was everything I was hoping for and so much more!

It has everything:
Orphans, libraries, magical cities, grand adventures, mysteries, danger, dreams, impossible feats, alchemy, vengeance, love, Gods and monsters.

And the characters!
THE CHARACTERS!!!

They were all so perfect and flawed and even more perfect because of those flaws!
Sometimes I hated the heroes
At other times I felt sympathy for the nasty ones.

No one was evil without cause and reason.
No one was a hero without suffering.

Some characters were both hero and villain.
It was perfect.

And can we take a second to talk about Lazlo.
Lazlo is a DREAM.
He is perfect and I want to hug him forever and listen to him tell me magical stories from far off lands.
I'll bake him cakes and we can be BFF's.

And Sarai was so heatbreakingly lovely.
And damaged.
And kind.
And confused.
And brave.

Even the romance was perfect.
And coming from me that's a pretty big deal because I normally hate pretty much all romance in books.
(I'm a heartless reader apparently)
But not with this book!
Oh no!
This was beautiful, moving, achingly lovely.

I actually had no idea this was part of a series until I reached the end.
I thought it was a stand-alone novel.
When I realised that there will be more I screamed.

More of Weep and magic and Gods and dreams and mystery and hope and fear and adventure.

I can't wait!

 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Annihilation

Title: Annihilation
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Published by: Fourth Estate
Publication date: 30th July 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Library


This was a hard one to rate for me.

It would have been a solid 4 stars if the ending had of been better.
Different.
With more explanation and finality.

I understand that there are more books in this series and the author may not want to explain things in more detail until later, but I was just left wanting so much more.
needed to know more!

The first 3/4 of the book was so strong.
It was mysterious, dark, scary, confusing (in a good way) and all terribly interesting!
Yet it all seemed to just fizzle out towards the end with a lot of waffle and not much actual explaination.
Lots of big words strung together in a beautiful way masquerading as plot.

I am not fooled you tricksy book! 

And the sections that focused on our main characters marriage were just dull.
Less of that please!

I am as yet unsure about whether or not to carry on with this series...
I desperately want to know the secrets of Area X, but I don't think I can cope if book two has the same amount of explanation as this first instalment. 

Watch this space I guess?



Friday, 10 March 2017

The Moon Rabbit

Have you ever looked to the night sky and felt sure you could see a rabbit on the moon?

If so you've been lucky enough to see Tsuki no Usagi.
The Moon Rabbit from Japanese folklore!

This myth is extremely ancient, originating in India and China, making its way over to Japan along with Buddhism and from there blending into the local Japanese folklore.

It is said that the dark spots we can see on the moon's surface resemble the shape of a rabbit pounding mochi (sticky rice sweets) in his pestle and mortar.
Though in China he is believed to be mixing a potion of eternal youth.


Here is a version of Tsuki no Usagi's origin story:
"Many years ago, the Old Man of the Moon decided to visit the Earth. He disguised himself as a beggar and asked Fox (Kitsune), Monkey (Saru), and Rabbit (Usagi) for some food. 
Monkey climbed a tree and brought him some fruit. Fox went to a stream, caught a fish, and brought it back to him. But Rabbit had nothing to offer him but some grass. So he asked the beggar to build a fire. After the beggar started the fire, Rabbit jumped into it and offered himself as a meal for the beggar to eat. 
Quickly the beggar changed back into the Old Man of the Moon and pulled Rabbit from the fire. He said "You are most kind, Rabbit, but don't do anything to harm yourself. Since you were the kindest of all to me, I'll take you back to the moon to live with me." 
The Old Man carried Rabbit in his arms back to the moon and he is still there to this very day exactly where the Old Man left him. Just look at the moon in the night sky and the rabbit is there!"


During Japan's moon viewing festival, children sing to the Moon Rabbit and ask:

‘Why are you only staring at the moon? You should be jumping up to it! Don’t sleep, the party’s just beginning!’

It is said that the Moon Rabbit is sometimes hard to see due to the smoke still coming off his body from his time in the fire. 


The Moon Rabbit also features in Aztec mythology too. In this tale a god throws a rabbit at the moon to dim its light, so that it won't outshine the sun. This is why you can see the shape of a rabbit on its surface. 


Have you ever seen Tsuki no Usagi yourself?

BOOK REVIEW: Bone Gap

Title: Bone Gap
Author: Laura Ruby
Published by: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 29th December 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

** spoiler alert ** 

I was ultimately and unfortunately a bit disappointed with this book. 

I love a bit of magical realism but this example just fell a bit flat in my opinion. 

The "magic" seemed to serve no real overall point. 
It was just shoved in here and there to pad out the plot a bit. 

Roza could quite easily have been kidnapped by a normal man who prized her for her beauty and kept prisoner in a normal house instead of a confusing magical realm. 

A lot of the "magic" was confusing to be honest. 

What was the corn about?

I thought they said that scarecrows were used to scare the corn instead of crows. 
So why was the the kidnapper called The Scarecrow?
Did he scare the corn?
And what about the crows?
Were they magic?
Why did they help de-toilet paper Finns yard?
Who gave Charlie Valentine the horse?
How come Charlie Valentine is like 500 years old?
WHAT is he?! 
What's going on?!?! 

I did enjoy the parts about face-blindness though. 
I thought those parts were very cleverly written. 
After it was revealed I flicked back to earlier sections about Finn and how he saw the world and said "oh yeah!" to myself a lot. 

I also quite liked the message that women are more than just their appearance. 
It would have been even nicer if there were more girl-girl friendships/relationships (or even conversations!) going on. 
WAY better if Roza had been allowed to save herself and if Petey had realised she didn't need ANYONE to think she was pretty to be happy. 

Can we have a new ending where Roza escapes by herself and runs off back to Poland taking Petey with her, and they become BFF's growing vegetables and keeping bees?



Thursday, 9 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Star-Touched Queen

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: 26th April 2016
Format: Hardback
Source: Library


Well, this was definitely one mess of a book.

A very readable mess, but a mess all the same.

Does Maya even have a brain?
Does anyone in this book have a brain?(except the wonderful Kamala, the talking, human eating horse, of course! She's the best)

This whole story seems to revolve around Maya doing stupid things.

Gupta: The palace may try to trick you. You might hear voices, but don't follow them as its dangerous!
Maya: I better follow these suspicious voices I just heard!! *skips away*

Why? WHY?!

And then we have this fantastic conversation:

Amar: Why won't you trust me?
Maya: you won't even show me your face.
Amar: if I showed you my face would you trust me?
Maya: I might start to, yeah.
Amar: YOU ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE!

What even is this conversation?!
What?!

Is everyone in this book on goofy juice?
Maybe it was those crystal fruits they ate earlier...
Never eat crystal fruit guys! It makes you stupid.

The whole plot seemed to be one big mush of not-very-well-explained fluff.
I LOVE folklore and myth, but this was just rushed and confusing with stuff constantly thrown at us.

It was 20% confusing mush and 80% beautiful descriptions.

But as I said before, it was very readable.
So it has that going for it?
And The Night Bazaar was pretty awesome. I hope there's more of that in the next instalment!
More otherworldly markets and mythical creatures please!
Less of Maya being stupid.

If you want to read a really awesome book about death you should give 'Deathless' by Catherynne M Valente a go!
Soooo much better!


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Baba Yaga fashion

"The obedient children arrived at the forest and, oh, wonder! there stood a hut, and what a curious one! It stood on tiny hen's feet, and at the top was a rooster's head."
Have you ever read a tale about the feasome witch Baba Yaga and just wished that you could look just like her chicken-legged house?

Of course you have!
Who in their right mind wouldn't?!

And now you are in luck! Rejoice!

For here on Amazon you can purchase yourself some wonderful, fashionable chicken leg socks to strut about the forest in.



all you need now is this brick print t-shirt and a nice thatched hat, and you'll be all set to terrorize the locals!

You. Are. Welcome.

BOOK REVIEW: Geekerella

Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Published by: Quirk Books
Publication date: 7th April 2017
Format: Kindle
Source: ARC


I went into this book honestly not expecting very much at all. 
In fact, I was pretty sure that I was going to hate it if I'm being honest. 

Retellings of fairytales can often fall kind of flat. 
And I don't tend to enjoy romance as a genre. 

But I was actually very pleasantly surprised!

This geeky, modern-day, reimagined telling of Cinderella was actually pretty fraking good!

Sure, it has its fair share of silly, over the top, eye-rolling moments. 
But it more than makes up for those with its cosy charm, cute diverse characters and heapings upon heapings of awesome nerdy references! 

The story alternates between Ella and Darien, each telling their side of the story. And I think it's this choice of telling which keeps the pace of the story interesting. 
Though I was always much more interested in Darien's side of the story. 
Elle came across rather judgemental and superior in my opinion, at least at the start of the story - she does become more likeable as the tale unfolds. 

This is actually a romance which I enjoyed following!
And that a HUGE deal for me.
I am shook. 

Read and rejoice, fellow geeky bookworms!



Monday, 6 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Frogkisser!

Title: Frogkisser!
Author: Garth Nix
Published by: Piccadilly Press
Publication date: 28th February 2017
Format: Kindle
Source: ARC


This was such a magical, fun, romp of a book!
It reminded me of the most wonderful Diana Wynne Jones (and she did receive an honourable mention at the end), and that can never be a bad thing!

This book follows princess Anya and her trusty Royal dog Ardent as they embark on a quest to turn a frog back into a (kind of dumb) prince. 
But their quest somehow keeps managing to get bigger and bigger until Anya has taken on a whole host of other quests and promises too. 

I absolutely LOVED how many strong, awesome female characters there were in this book!

First we have Anya herself, who starts out as a kind of typical selfish princess who would much rather stay home and curl up in the library all day rather than help people. 
(I would totally be this type of princess!)
Yet as we go through the story she grows so much as a person and learns many valuable life lessons and ends up as a pretty damn awesome princess!

We also have a female Good Wizard (sometimes complete with long, white beard), an evil female sorcerer, female members of The Seven Dwarves, a group of tricksy witches, a totally badass female Knight and many more!

YAS!!

The only problem I had with this book was that I wish our questing group had visited more places in this magical world. 
I did feel a bit disappointed that most (though not all) of the objects they were questing for were conveniently obtained in one place. 
I wanted them to have to have an adventure to get each one separately!
I wanted MORE questing!

But other than that small, kind of greedy complaint on my part, this was a very fun, magical read. 

I hope we get to see what happens to Anya and the kingdom of Trallonia next! 


Saturday, 4 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Sea: The Huntress Trilogy #1

Title: Sea
Author: Sarah Driver
Published by: Egmont
Publication date: 6th April 2017
Format: Kindle
Source: ARC

Do you enjoy dangerous adventures on perilous, icy seas? 


Do you like tales of tribes, beasts, tradition and magic?


Do you like reading about epic quests seeped in folklore and myth?

If you do, then you should definitely read this book!

Reading this was like a welcome flashback to my days of reading Philip Pullman. It definitely has the same feel to it.
Maybe it's all the ice, subtle magic and the fact that our main character, Mouse, sort of has her own 'daemon' in the form of her brave sea hawk Thaw-Wielder?

Maybe it's the fact that Mouse is a totally independent, fierce, loyal and brave character?
(How are 13 years olds always this awesome in books?! I'm pretty sure I was pathetic at that age!) 

Whatever it is, this book is wonderful

I felt like I was really there and experiencing everything alongside Mouse. 

I got to sail on The Huntress, dive with merwraiths, cross the seas in the belly of a whale and fight fearsome terrodyls!

As the first book in a trilogy I'm so excited to know that soon I'll be able to travel across the land again with Mouse and her friends. 
I can't wait for more adventures!