Sunday, 5 July 2015

Six Stories for Summer


It's been a while, hasn't it? I thought this could be a rather fitting post considering that I am now officially on a summer break from college. As I ignore the pesky assignments that are due in September, I plan on getting a tonne of reading done. Some of these books, and the ones I want to talk about in this post, are ones that I have been meaning to read forever! Summer is the best time of year to dedicate catching up on the ever-growing and towering To-Be-Read pile.

1. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Okay, who hasn't read this yet? (*Raises hand*). At the beginning of the year THIS was the YA book to be reading. But I haven't read it yet! Oops. Come on, it's about death; I need to be emotionally prepared for this roller-coaster of sobs, A.K.A: I need to by some tissues, desperately. Meanwhile, I will continue to admire the sheer and utter beauty of the cover. JUST LOOK AT IT! 

2. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Yes, I know, I know, another one that has been out for a while. I think it will be one of those books that I either find really weird or absolutely love. Set in autumn 1686, Amsterdam, an eighteen year old Nella Oortman receives a miniature version of her home. I love, love, love magic realism so I cannot wait to dive into this world. 

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I don't know too much about this one but I want to read it. Do you ever experience that? Do you ever see a book and know that you have to read it? I've seen a lot of high ratings for it on goodreads and just want to read it too. 

4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The cover of this just screams dystopia! The thing that drew me towards this book was that it involves solving clues that as a reader we are likely to know the answers to. We can actually involve ourselves in the story world without being in the story. This is a lot of people's favourite standalone so I'm hoping I'll enjoy it. 

5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Last summer I read Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. I adore her writing. I feel like she just nails the voice of her characters perfectly for them and for us to read. I'm not a massive romance fan but with the other two books of hers you didn't have to read it for that. Sure, it was central to the plots but there are always other things going on with the characters that are just as interesting. I just enjoy being able to read her books in so many different ways. 

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

The second dystopia on this list. I plan on reading more classics over the next year but I will definitely get through this one over the summer. One thing that fascinates me about this is the naming of the characters (particularly the women) and the concepts as well as the idea of indoctrinating children to act as spies on anyone who breaks the rules of the regime. 

Thank you for reading.
Comment below with what you plan on reading over the summer months.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

My Favourite Standalones


Today I want to share with you a few of my absolute favourite standalones. In my opinion, these are all worth a five-out-of-five-star rating. All the stars! All the joy! All the best!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Wow, oh, wow. I recently read this and it is possibly my favourite book ever! The world inside the story was easy to picture; I felt like I was peering over the narrators' shoulders all the time. The story is told by three women that we learn have connected lives as the events unfold. The protagonist, Rachel, is the main narrator and she is 'The Girl on the Train'. Every morning and evening during the week she commutes to London and while doing so she always pays particular attention to a certain house she passes. 

Overall reading experience: I had a hard time putting this one down. 

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton by Caroline Smailes

I've actually done a review on this one which you can read at your leisure by clicking on any part of this sentence, go on, enjoy. Anyway, this is one of those books that I really cannot compare with another. It was fantastic! This is an urban fairytale about a teenage boy who hides in an Edwardian bath house where things aren't all as they seem. Again, this one has a few narrators, but each voice has a different style and sometimes even format. 

Overall reading experience: I could quite easily read this over and over again. 

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The thing I love most about this is that you are told that the narrator's brother is dead as soon as he introduces him. But what you don't know is how his brother died. Nicely played, author, nicely played. It's written as if you are experiencing the main character's thought process. If he wants to think it, you read it. If he doesn't, you don't. The whole story feels very real rather than a work of fiction. 

Overall reading experience: I loved the characters and felt extremely involved with the story throughout. 

What's your favourite standalone?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Becoming a Reading Activist

Hello everyone,

I want to talk about a scheme that's run across many of the public libraries in the UK. It's the Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge. You may have heard of it before. You may have even participated in it.

The challenge is aimed at 4-11 year olds and takes place over the summer holiday. The idea is that participating children read six books over the school holidays and get to play a bit of game alongside this! Did I mention that there are prizes involved, too? The theme for this year is Record Breakers, and you can find out more information here.

Now, it's likely that you're not between the ages mentioned above and cannot take part in the challenge. However, you do have the opportunity to volunteer as a reading activist who will help run the challenge. It is primarily aimed at 14-24 year olds to help build CVs but anyone who is above the age of the children participating can volunteer if they wish to. If this interests you, please check with your local library to see if they run the challenge and are in need of volunteers.

One of the great things about volunteering for this is that is works around you. You choose when you want to volunteer and for how many hours. You can decide each week when you want to do it, or you can decide to commit to a couple of hours on the same day each week. My point is, by volunteering to help out you won't lose out on doing anything else you want to do over the summer. Most of the libraries will reward you with a certificate if you do over ten hours, and if you're doing two hours every day you do it then you only need to volunteer for five days.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Why I'm All For Paperbacks!


I've had this post idea for a while and in that time I have started to edge slightly towards hardcovers. Only slightly. It think it's because the corners don't bend as easily in my rucksack. Isn't that annoying? Anyway, I am still a paperback fan and these are my reasons why:

Lighter to carry

So you know I carry my books in my bag. That's not the only thing in my bag. I normally have folders and a huge bottle of water and it's just a delight to know that I can carry a book too without a lot more extra weight. And I always have a book with me.

No dust-jackets

This is my number one pet-peeve about hardcovers. The book bends one way and the dust-jacket goes the other, plus it slips. All. The. Time. (I normally end up just putting the dust-jacket aside until the book goes back onto the shelf once read). On the other hand, you've got your naked paper back. That's right, it's naked. It doesn't need to wear a jacket. It wears it's real cover out in the open for all eyes to see. What a beauty. 
I have a little story about dust-jackets on books. Have you heard of the Gone series by Michael Grant? Well, my copy of Plague was a hardcover and came with a dust-jacket. Yes, very nice and sophisticated. I take the dust-jacket off and the cover is upside down. Okay, okay, maybe the jacket was just on the wrong way, right? Right? No. The pages were the other way up from the cover! What?! Each time I read the book without the jacket it looked like I was reading it upside down!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Reading Positions

Drawing by Quentin Blake, from Matilda by Roald Dahl

This is a bit of a list/discussion post. We all know how hard it is to find the perfect reading position and be able to maintain it for however long it takes us to put the book in question down. Seriously, it's near impossible. You lay down in bed with your reading companion in hand, and five minutes later you're tossing and turning all over the place to get comfortable again!

This post is inspired by the illustrations by Quentin Blake in my favourite childhood book, Matilda by Roald Dahl. Leave me a comment below if you also adored this as a child.

1. The laying-in-bed style

Ohhhh yeah! That classic reading before sleeping position. Sounds like heaven. That is, until your arms hurt! Try laying on your side and half your face gets squished and you can't see one side of the book (even worse if you wear glasses and end up with half a skull of agony!). We've all been there, haven't we? Like every single night until our eyelids force themselves shut.

From Matilda

2. The sitting-in-the-armchair/sofa style

We do sometimes venture out of the comfort of our little nests (bedrooms) to read. The television sometimes come on as we are definitely certain that we can multi-task. Yes, fab. Totally works... nope. Our legs are usually curled up underneath us while we devour about a hundred pages because, let's face it, this reading position means business! You don't go into this kind of reading-position without a trusty cup of tea and some kind of fuel a.k.a. snacks and plenty of them.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Book Review: Cleo

Author: Lucy Coats
Rating: 2/5
Publication date: May 7th 2015

I was so looking forward to this and was extremely disappointed. I've never read historical Egyptian fiction before so my mind was completely open to the idea of it. Cleo is a modern twist on this and I will definitely not be basing my idea of the genre off of this one novel.

"Her precious mother is dead - and it isn't an accident! The young Cleopatra - Pharaoh's illegitimate daughter - must flee the royal palace at Alexandria or die too. As her evil half-sisters usurp the throne, Cleo finds sanctuary at the sacred temple of Isis, where years later she becomes initiated into the secret Sisters of the Living Knot. But now Isis's power is failing, Egypt is in danger, and Cleo must prove her loyalty to her goddess by returning to the Alexandria she hates. She must seek out the hidden map which is the key to returning Isis's power - on pain of death. But will she be able to evade her horrible sisters? And will she find dreamy Khai, the über-hot Librarian boy she met as she fled Alexandria years before? Cleo's powerful destiny is about to unfold..." (From Goodreads)

I found the plot incredibly anti-climatic. There's this initiation type thing concerning the character Cleo and the Goddess Isis. Now, it was set up in a very you either live or die way and yet the result was kind of brushed off as if it wasn't much of a big deal. It should have been a big deal!

I also struggled to connect with Cleo as a narrator. I found myself wanting her friend Charm to join the scene to make my reading experience slightly more enjoyable. I don't know whether it was because the voice of Cleopatra was used in a teen character or something else that makes me dislike Cleo. I just don't know. She was difficult to sympathise with. In the story she suffers from the loss of people she loves but somehow forgets about them quite easily.

This book is the first in a planned trilogy and is the ending quite obviously sets up for this as there is no real concluding chapter. I think there is potential for the next books to be more engaging than this one but I can't see myself reading them.

Overall, I liked the ideas behind the story but, for me, it just didn't work.

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Book Review: All I Know Now

Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Rating: 5/5

Blimey! This is such a fantastic read! While reading I felt like I was genuinely sitting down with Carrie, having a cup of tea and a chat about the ups and downs of life with a bunch of comical anecdotes tagged on.

All I Know Now is a manual for those in the 'Teen Age' who need an Honorary Big Sister to help guide them through life based on said sister's experiences. The sister, in this case, being Carrie.

The book itself is split into eight acts, each of which are based on a particular subject such as the Internet and Turning That Frown Upside Down. I thought this made the book extra fun compared to the standard chapter-per-subject idea. (It's also rather fitting considering that Carrie is Eponine of Les Mierables.)

The thing I loved about this was that it didn't feel like some flawless pro-at-life was dictating how to go about being a person. Carrie's filled this with anecdotes from her not perfect but incredibly amusing Teen Age and reflected on how she sees herself now. That's it. She is giving advice to her younger self that may help you. She doesn't sit down and say 'right, here's what I think and you better jolly well do this'. She simply explains how she thinks positivity helps and gives ideas based on her own experiences.