Sunday, 21 October 2018

My Reading Companions

It's Sunday! Hope you're all having a nice lazy day with lots of time for reading. I thought this would be a nice time to do a little post about my pets. Everyone wants pictures of cute pets right! So allow me to introduce my reading companions and what they add to my reading experience (gotta keep it book related somehow right?)

Meet Hera (left) and Jess (right), two Cocker Spaniels who live with me and my family. We've had them for quite a while now, re-homing them both when they were puppies.

Hera is the oldest, we got her in 2009 and she's been my baby ever since. She hangs out curls up with me on the couch, sleeps in my bed and follows me out the room in order to look over me when I'm away from the rest of the family. My favourite thing is reading in bed with her nestled up with me under the covers. You don't know comfort until you've had a dog snuggled against you as a hot water bottle.

Jess is less good at being a reading companion, despite her being the one pictured snuggling with me in the picture at the top of the page (it's a very posed picture and Hera won't snuggle on command). One of my strongest memories of her as a puppy was trying to read Teri Terry's The Book of Lies on my kindle while I was watching over her. She kept licking the screen and losing my place by turning the pages. It wasn't so funny at the time but now it's a good memory. Nowadays though, she does sometimes come settle in the basket I have for them in my room, so she has become better at allowing me time to read as she's grown up.

Neither of them have ever destroyed a book. Hera did have a run in with one when she was a puppy, but she didn't harm it and luckily it was only one particular book she wanted. Jess will steal everything from forks to wet wipes, phones to make up brushes, but luckily books have never held any fascination for her so they're both completely safe in our house full of books!

For me, my dogs are truly the best company when it comes to reading I love having my dogs with me when I'm reading and just the sound of their breathing helps me relax so much. I can't imagine what my life would be like without dogs.

Do you have any stories about reading with pets? Or just stories about pets? I'd love to hear about them in the comments! 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336 
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 
Released: 18th of October 2018 

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods. 

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it. 

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.

Trigger Warnings: Animal Death, rehab, hoarding, sacrificial style murder 

What I Have to Say 

This book was intense. I loved everything about it from the prologue to that ending (that ending! Okay I'm also a little furious about that ending. But it was completely perfect.) The story was so intriguing, knowing virtually nothing about the suspects except who didn't do it (though maybe they did and it's all just a ruse to make you sure that it's not them?). 

I think seeing how the people who have been accused or arrested, but not convicted of a crime, are treated is a new favourite thing to read about in crime novels. It's so awful how people just assume that person is guilty from the moment they're arrested, despite the mistakes that police can make and it's such an interesting thing to show. These two girls have gone through so much harassment and worse at the hands of a community that is so sure that they're guilty; the way they've suffered and found their own ways of escape for five years, it's emotional but so fascinating to read.  It just makes it so interesting to see a story start from there and work through them trying to prove their innocence. 

I loved the excerpts of Lovelorn and the fanfiction that the girls wrote as well. Especially as it was so integral to the plot. It was great hunting for details in every excerpt to try and work out whether it was important. The only thing I'd say that was not so great about this book was how gory some of it was. 

Honestly, if you're still unsure about whether to read this book, read the prologue. It left me breathless with excitement for the rest of the book. 

My thanks go to Hodder and Stoughton and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of October 2018 

Kellen and his murderous squirrel cat, Reichis, are on their own. They've heard rumour of a mythical monastery, known as the Ebony Abbey. It's a place that outsiders can never find - but Kellen is getting desperate. He's been told that the monks inside the Ebony Abbey know more about the Shadowblack than anyone else - and that they even know how to cure it.

Then Kellen and Reichis are separated and for the first time, Kellen must face the world alone - and venture deeper into shadow magic than he ever knew he could.

What I Have to Say 

This book hurt my heart a lot. For one thing, Kellen started off not knowing if a couple of his friends were dead and we were kept in suspense through most of the book!! I'm not going to tell you which friends or if they survived but it was a really rough ride! I teared up several times. It really reminded me just how much I loved these characters and how much I never want anything bad to happen to any of them ever! Too bad these books are basically about Kellen and his friends suffering through various attempts on their lives! 

I've said before how much I adore this series. I've mentioned that Kellen just feels like such a realistic character and how awesome Reichis is (I was gonna say cute but then I thought he might decide to eat my eyeballs if I said that! I'm pretty sure the fact that he's trapped between the pages of a book wouldn't be enough to stop a squirrelcat!). I don't want to keep writing the same post over and over again for each book. But I don't have much else to say really. The books are so amazing and they've kept such a great standard for the whole series. There's only a few series that have been able to maintain the same level of enthusiasm from me for this long. 

I think something that did hit me on this retelling was how good the overarching narrative was. I was fortunate enough to meet De Castell at a blogger meet earlier this month and he talked about how Kellen's story is connected very closely to his own feelings of being Canadian and growing older to find out how badly the native Canadian population have been (and still are) treated. I've always liked that it's a story that shows a people who have invaded and basically wiped out the people who owned the lands they inhabit and the fact that it really doesn't shy away from this fact and the horror that Kellen feels to be Jan'tep because of this, but I think that after hearing the author talk about it, it felt more prominent to me. It's a really important subject matter and I'm really glad to see people writing about it when so many people try to forget or hide it. 

Do I really need to say go read this series again? What are you waiting for, it's fantastic!? 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for providing me with this copy for review. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 433
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's UK
Released: 18th October 2018 

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

What I Have to Say 

This is the perfect blend of an exciting, beautiful love story and the more realistic portrait of how hard relationships can actually be. It's a romance to gush over with Arthur and Ben seeming to be so, so perfect for one another; meeting through a twist of fate; finding one another again against all odds, but it doesn't shy away from the fact that dating is hard. Dates can go wrong easily, the stuff you planned can be something the other person isn't good with, the restaurant you picked can be all wrong and in the end, there may be compatibility issues that need to be worked out. But despite showing all the roadblocks that can come between two people starting a relationship, What If It's Us continues to keep a hopeful feel to it that one day, these two wonderful boys can work it all out! 

 I loved Arthur and Ben so much. Their individual lives and family and friends were so well built up around them. It added so much to the story to see what their lives were like. Sometimes in books like this I find that the characters can be whisked very quickly from their home lives or have vague friends and family who are never really built up. I loved the fact that not only did Arthur and Ben have such well built up families, they spent time with them, they informed their characters, it showed exactly where they came from and the differences between them. 

I loved the ending. I can't go into why I loved it without spoiling it and I don't know how happy other people are with it, because it could have disappointed some people, but personally I thought it was brilliant and completely in  keeping with the whole style of the book. 

This is definitely the big LGBT release of the year and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did (though we need more LGBT books about girls!!!!!). 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with copy for review. 

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Books That Make Me Happy

We all have certain books, series and authors that we go to when we want a book that we can really relax and enjoy. Those books that you can just pick up and sink into like you're coming home. They just give you a  buzz, a feeling of complete calm that washes over you.

Since it's now autumn, the season of cosy jumpers and reading by the fire, I thought it would be a perfect time to share a few of mine with you.

Holly Bourne 

Obviously Holly Bourne has to be the top of the list. Her writing is so relaxing and so familiar. Every single one of her books has been fantastic and I know that this will continue. Her writing is full of humour and feminism and such strong beautiful characters who feel like your best friends even when you're meeting them for the first time. 

Leigh Bardugo 

Another of my favourite authors and a slight more perilous series of books, Leigh Bardugo writes characters who especially in Six of Crows are very awful people. But you can fall into their story and lives and let yourself get lost in it all. Warbringer, her Wonder Woman novel, even more so, because obviously, Diana Prince perfect. 

Robin Stevens 

Any time I'm reading this series, I'm happy. Daisy and Hazel are two of my favourite characters in the universe. I can't even choose between them (I mean my first instinct is Daisy, but then there's Hazel? How can I leave out Hazel?). Daisy is the ballsy, excitable, spotlight lit girl, who possibly a little too excited by murder and Hazel is the steadfast, reliable girl who you feel would never let you down.

A cup of tea, a piece of cake and a Wells and Wong mystery is my idea of a perfect day. 

Anna James 

A new favourite, but Tilly and The Bookwanderers was absolutely the same feeling. Pages & Co. is a place where I want to live and Tilly's life is one I would love to have. Just reading about this magical cosy bookshop where you can curl up and read in a nice sofa between the shelves made me feel a hundred times more cosy and happy, instantly. 

These are just four, of so so many books that make me feel this way and this is just one post of many. I'm not sure exactly when I'll share some more, but keep checking in to see more of the books that make me happy. 

What books would be on your list of comfort books? Do any of these four make you feel the same? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 320
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Released: 6th of September 2018 

Welcome back to New York, 2119. A skyscraper city, fueled by impossible dreams, where the lives of five teenagers have become intertwined in ways that no one could have imagined.

Leda just wants to move on from what happened in Dubai. Until a new investigation forces her to seek help—from the person she’s spent all year trying to forget.

Rylin is back in her old life, reunited with an old flame. But when she starts seeing Cord again, she finds herself torn: between two worlds, and two very different boys.

Calliope feels trapped, playing a long con that costs more than she bargained for. What happens when all her lies catch up with her?

Watt is still desperately in love with Leda. He’ll do anything to win her back—even dig up secrets that are better left buried.

And now that Avery is home from England—with a new boyfriend, Max—her life seems more picture-perfect than ever. So why does she feel like she would rather be anything but perfect?

In this breathtaking finale to The Thousandth Floor trilogy, Katharine McGee returns to her vision of 22nd-century New York: a world of startling glamour, dazzling technology, and unthinkable secrets. After all, when you have everything… you have everything to lose.

What I Have to Say 

I am really going to miss these teens and their drama. It was a really great conclusion. It wrapped up everything despite all the tangled mess of the whole thing. I'm still just not a fan of Avery and Atlas, but I loved Avery's ending otherwise. I've always been interested in her story of fame and perfection and how trapped she was by being Avery Fuller, so it was really nice that there was a resolution for that and not just the relationship with Atlas. I loved her so much better in Oxford with Max, but I didn't expect much to come from that, so I'm not that disappointed. I'm fairly happy with how things turned out. 

The same can be said of the other characters. They all had really good conclusions, getting things that they wanted but also making sacrifices. I especially liked Watt's ending, I'd really like to see a sequel about him and how he copes with what happened at the end of the book. 

The ending itself was a roller-coaster. Through all the books there've been shocking twists and turns and new things to throw things into chaos, and this book definitely delivered exactly what I've come to expect from Katharine McGee, something completely unexpected! 

I really do think this was a fantastic series, despite the incest. A fantastic murder mystery series in such a unique setting. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Harper Collins for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352 
Publisher: Penguin 
Released: 30th of October 2018 

My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it's going to be weird for everyone's first time, though.

Meet Jack Rothman. He's seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys - sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, 'it could be worse'.

He doesn't actually expect that to come true.

But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he's been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack's secret admirer knows everything: where he's hanging out, who he's sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they'll force him.

As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous...

What I Have to Say 

This book was so filthy! I probably should have expected it more, but I didn't expect it to be quite so filled with sex. The sex advice column was really good though and a great resource for people look for advice about all sorts of sex things. It sucks that kids, especially gay kids, have to hunt so hard for this sort of information, but now there's a handy book complete with an addictingly creepy stalker plot to make it a good read. The only thing missing was advice for lesbians, maybe in the sequel one of the gay girls in the background could take over the column for a couple of weeks and dispense wisdom about being safe with other girls. 

But as useful as it was, this wasn't for me. I'm just not a big fan of sex and it didn't just stay in the columns and necessary sex scenes. It made it hard to get into the book. When the stalker plot started up that got me into it and I liked the rest of the book fine, but it's not going to be one that I reread. I don't want to put you off though. I really liked the characters and the plot. 

Definitely a must read for gay guys and for anyone who needs the sort of sex ed that's harder to find, but otherwise I'd probably give it a miss.

My thanks go to Penguin and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review