Monday, 23 October 2017

What I've Been Reading #22 - I'M ON AUTUMN BREAK HALLELUJAH


Hello, everybody!

HAPPY MONDAY. 

Today is the first day of my autumn break, which I'm SO HAPPY about! I started my A2 work mid-August and I haven't had a break since. So, as you can imagine, I'm super happy I have a mini-holiday. 

I'm hoping to get a lot done this week. 
I want to plan some of my NaNoWriMo novel; read the Steelheart series by Brandon Sanderson; and write a ton of blog posts then schedule them. I was planning on writing three blog posts today and finish The Call by Paedar O'Guilin.
 Do you know what I did today? NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Okay, that's a lie. I exercised, I went to town, and I bought books (BOOK HAUL COMING SOON, MY LOVELIES). But it was a super unproductive day blogging/reading/writing wise. I'm trying not to feel guilty about it as I am on holiday, and surely it's fine to spend one day doing absolutely nothing, right?

Tomorrow I'm hoping to accomplish slightly more. I want to:
  • finish my review of The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles
  • write my holiday tbr post
  • read. Just read some of a book. I've read a lot today, but it's all been theology articles on the internet. I have a stack of fictional books to read, yet I'm so interested in theology at the moment, I just want to read up on that. TOMORROW, I SHALL READ FROM the stack.

Last week I read The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles and I DON'T KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT. AT ALL. There were some parts I really liked and other parts I didn't. There were also a lot of parts that I felt very "meh" towards. I should have my review up on Wednesday. It'll probably have no structure and be slightly incoherent - kind of like my thoughts towards this book. 

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?The Call

I started The Call a few weeks ago and I read nearly 100 pages in one sitting; I haven't picked it up since, as I've been too busy reading other books! I absolutely loved the pages I did read, so I'm looking forward to reading the rest this holiday. 

I also picked up Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey, as I have a lot of questions about praying and it looks like Yancey answers a lot of the questions I have in this book. I think I'm really going to enjoy it and, hopefully, I'll find the answers I'm looking for.

Ballet Shoes for AnnaSeraphina (Seraphina, #1)
 
After reading Bunheads by Sophie Flack last week, I really want to read more fictional ballet books! I haven't ever read a Noel Streatfeild and I've heard this isn't her best, but I'm still looking forward to reading it because BALLET.

I'm also so excited to read Seraphina! I tried reading it a couple of years ago and I just couldn't get into it. However, after reading the first couple of pages in the library last week I found myself really enjoying it, so I took it out! I'm hoping I actually finish it this time and that I end up loving it.

What books did you read last week? What are you currently reading? Have you ever DNFed a book then gone back quite awhile later and found yourself absolutely loving it?

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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine is my new favourite thing

Title: Ink and Bone
Series: The Great Library #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication: July 7th 2015, Allison & Busby
Pages: 410 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you so much to Allison & Busby for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes!
Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . . .

Ink and Bone is a richly imagined novel that takes place in a world where the Great Library of Alexandria never perished. A world where nobody can own an original book and knowledge is strictly controlled and monitored; if a book is found in your house, you risk death. Featuring a dangerous, compelling world complete with characters who pursue knowledge and are comprised of ink and words, a spellbinding story line, blood-tinted plot twists and heartbreak...it's no wonder this book - it's world, it's characters, it's entire composition - sneaked into my heart. Underneath the fantastic dialogue, the terrifying world Caine so masterfully crafted and the cast of characters who I fell in love with, it reveals itself to be an ode to books, libraries and literature. Depicting the splendour of libraries, literature and knowledge, Ink and Bone is a must-read for anyone who has been captivated by the written word. I was utterly spellbound.

There's so much I love about this book that I'm not entirely sure where to start. Perhaps I'll start with the characters, as I think they are what made me fall so completely in love with this book. In Ink and Bone, the main character is Jess Brightwell and guys, I am in love with him; he's definitely at the top of my book boyfriends list! I've read Ink and Bone twice now and I found more things to love about him with each chapter I reread. He's not a perfect person and he doesn't pretend to be. He's varying shades of morally grey but he has a heart of gold and I loved him. He's gloriously sarcastic, in love with books and he's the perfect balance of a little bit of toughness and more than a little bit of sensitivity, care and kindness. I loved how I, as the reader, got to see the sensitive, caring side of Jess from the first few pages, when he didn't reveal that side of himself to many people very often. Reading a book is quite an intimate thing, isn't it? It's seeing to the very depths of a character's soul; that's how I felt about Jess. I felt like he allowed me to see the darkness and the lightness that swirled together in his soul, painting him the beautiful hue of grey that he is. I loved how there were startling moments that showed me he would fight and he would be cunning in order to protect himself and those he loves; I loved how there were small things he said and things he did to show how much he cares - things I never noticed until rereading the book. I'm just incredibly in love with Jess Brightwell. He's clever, he's kind, he's cunning, he's tough and strong and so incredibly complex.
I absolutely love him. 

You want to know which other character stole my heart? Thomas Schreiber. Extremely tall and utterly enormous with Superman's strength; bones composed of kindness and sinew laced with gentleness; extraordinary intelligence and the ability to make anyone smile. I absolutely adored Thomas. He was the purest, kindest, gentlest, most beautiful character. He did so many wonderful things for his friends, he invented so many incredible objects and he did all he could to make sure he was improving people's lives. I may be in love with him too. 

Image result for proud crying gif

I adored the other characters, too. They all had incredibly diverse, colourful, vivid personalities. Initially, there was an edge of mistrust and lingering ferocity clinging to each of them (except Thomas because he's a pure, precious angel) and I loved that. I loved how they could turn from being funny, kind and amusing to secretive and simmering with a myriad of feelings as sharp as a double-edged sword in the next second. And then after awhile, it wasn't like that. I adored the evolving dynamics between the group. How they started out weary and mistrusting of one another, viewing the other as only a competitor; or if they got close to another, as someone to lose. I absolutely loved watching their weary suspicion of one another morph into friendship, care, loyalty and respect. The dialogue between the characters, the initial mild hostility (looking at you, Dario), the evolution of feelings and the spectacularly executed dynamics made the cast of characters feel like flesh and bone and not just ink on paper. 


I adored Dario with his egotism, his arrogance and his charm. I loved Khalila with her incredible intelligence and her devotion to knowledge. I loved Glain with her bravery and candor. I loved Wolfe and Santi and the complexities of their characters. The only character I didn't feel vastly connected to was Morgan. Perhaps because she appeared later on in the book so I didn't have as much time to form a bond with her. I'm hoping to get to know Morgan in the next book, though as I don't feel like she revealed much of who she was in this book!

Another thing I loved about Ink and Bone was the world-building. It's beautiful, original and heart-stopping in its terror. I love how, at face value, the library is presented as a prestigious, perfect protector of knowledge and books; but page by page, Caine crumbles the gleaming facade of the library. It was horrifying and brilliant the way Caine sets up this beautiful image of the library, then with fierce vigour she tears down the reader's perception of it and reveals the brutality, the blood and the injustice writhing under the surface. The library was a terrifying place rife with high stakes, tension, cut-throat officials who will do anything to control the masses and deathly situations. I got chills on several occasions as the dark, blood-tinted underbelly of the library was brought to light. I guess I should've have been as surprised as I was by the system's violence due to all those vicious automatons that lounge outside the libraries' doors and who will not hesitate to kill. Seriously, they terrified me. 


So yes, I adored the world-building. The intricacy of it was further demonstrated by Caine's inclusion of politics and the murderous tension between the populace and the Burners, with their "radical" ideals. It was terrifying, thrilling and horrifying when Caine introduced the Burners - rebels who oppose the library's view of a book being worth more than a life. The tensions between them and the rest of the population provided for an intense read and enriched the world-building.  

Another reason why I loved the world-building was because of all the glorious descriptions of libraries and books interspersed throughout the pages. I feel like Ink and Bone is an implicit love letter to books, libraries and knowledge. I fell in love with the sprinkling of quotes dispersed throughout the book that lyrically expressed the wonder of literature, the scent of books, the comforting feel of books in hand...there were stunning quotes that were an ode to books. I think if you're a book lover, you'll feel a kind of kinship with this book. You'll connect with the characters who are comprised of ink and paper, passion and heart.


The writing is fantastic. I adored the lyrical, melodic rhythm of the writing. The words flowed beautifully into one another to form a dazzling combination of silken words. The pacing was executed superbly as well. I absolutely love Rachel's writing and I'm so excited to read more of her works. I love the way she phrased things and the way she formatted her sentences and paragraphs to emphasise shocking, beautiful and heartbreaking moments. I just really love this book. 

All my favourite quotes!
Another way in which Rachel Caine displayed her phenomenal writing abilities was through the dialogue between the characters. The humorous conversations radiate throughout the novel and add a fun, lighthearted element to add chinks of light to the bloodshed and tension that acts as the landscape of Ink and Bone. The dialogue was so natural, the banter was brilliant and the sarcasm was devastatingly artful.

I adored the romance between Jess and Morgan, as well. Jess had these subtle ways of showing Morgan how he cared for her and loved her; their teasing made me smile and clutch the book to my chest more than once; and I loved how they both originated from complicated backgrounds and felt as if the other one was the only one who understood them. To put it simply: I ship them. 

Ink and Bone was a riveting read that snatched my breath away and stole my heart in a single swipe. I fell completely in love with the characters, I was swept away by Rachel Caine's harmonious writing; I had my heart broken and stitched back haphazardly together again. I can see this becoming one of my all-time favourite series. It's an action-packed steampunk adventure filled with dangerous, sass and books!

 Read it, it's incredible.

I give it: 5/5 cupcakes!

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

What I've Been Reading #21 - I've been so productive this week and it's fabulous

Happy Tuesday! 

How has your day been?

Mine has been really good, actually! Yesterday was an awesome day because I was super productive. I’m actually understanding (therefore enjoying) maths at the moment so I did more maths than usual; I did a physics section AND the revision notes; I made notes for three English essays I need to write, AND I FINISHED IT ALL BY 13:30. If only school could be like that every day!

I then went to town with my mom and I managed to write some of this blog post and finish a book! When I got home I was in this mood to organise my life (I don't know if you guys get random urges to just sort out EVERYTHING? Well, that's what happened to me!). I printed revision checklists, past papers and revision notes; I organised my files, my pencil bags and my stationery cupboards; and I tidied my room, my bookshelves, my wardrobe/drawers and I organised the boxes that were on my bookshelf. I only managed to get to bed after midnight, but it was so worth it because I feel like my life has some semblance of order now! 

Because I went to bed late, I woke up late this morning and as a result, my whole schedule went awry; so I didn't get as much done today as I did yesterday. I did get quite a lot of English done, finished a maths exercise and watched some maths videos to help me better understand some topics! I also went to The Works and got a super cute calendar for next year. When I own calendars and planners it makes me feel organised, which is a wonderful feeling. 

I've also managed to read two books the past two days - go me! 

BunheadsDenton Little's Deathdate (Denton Little #1)

As of writing this post, I’ve just finished Bunheads by Sophie Flack and I really enjoyed it! I had a copy a few years back but I never read it. I’ve been on something of a ballet reading kick lately though, so I impulsively reserved a few ballet books and they finally came in! HAPPY DAYS. I started it a few hours after I got it out from the library, and a couple more hours later I had finished it! 

By the time I closed the book I had a goofy grin on my face and I was hugging it to my chest. There were moments that made me roll my eyes but there were many more moments that had me eyes widening at the amount of sacrifice, pain and determination needed in the ballet world. It’s a book about the sacrifice needed to succeed in ballet - in its purest form. There’s no melodramatic antics, there’s no backstabbing...it’s an honest, authentic portrayal of being a dancer in one of the top ballet schools in America. Sophie Flack danced with New York City Ballet for many years so I appreciated that she wrote the book with so much honesty and accuracy. I really enjoyed this book, a lot more than I thought I would! There were times I found the girls to be quite...problematic. There could be quite a lot of girl hate, slut-shaming and terrible comments made about so-called friends, which I didn’t enjoy so much. I also didn’t ship the romance a lot but I still enjoyed the book. And I loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting, which is always nice!

I also read Denton Little’s Death Date which I LOVED. Denton is such a likable, idiotic character - I loved him. He was hilarious, the other characters were hilarious, the one-liners were brilliant; the friendships, plot twists and writing were excellently crafted as well. I NEED the next book, but it’s only available here in the UK from February. EXCUSE ME WHILE I CRY.


I’m currently reading The Taste of Blue Light; I’m only 30 pages in and I’m not sure how I feel about it. The main character takes drugs (including cocaine) and drinks a lot. I hate reading books with characters who use recreational drugs as it’s so irresponsible and I just can’t comprehend the stupidity of taking them. The writing is gorgeous, if a little bit abstract so I’m hoping the main character has quite an impressive character arc throughout the book. Fingers crossed. 



I’m most likely going to read The Treatment next as it’s release date is fairly soon! It sounds chilling and dark and creepy - the perfect Autumn read.



Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are you currently reading and what did you just finish reading?


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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Stacking the Shelves #108 - #BatKidsLitFest Haul & Recap + Surprise Book Mail!


Hello, everyone!

I hope you've all had a lovely week. Did you get up to anything exciting?

I thought I was going to have a very small haul this week...but it ended up being not-so-small.

I attended a YA literature event last weekend (I'll talk about that more later on) and I picked up quite a few books there - more than I thought I would! 

Also, thank you to Harper Collins Children's Books for sending me books to review; I can't wait to read them! 

This past week has honestly been one of the most lovely weeks I've had! It was filled with blogging (I just feel so inspired to blog lately - I LOVE THIS FEELING), making new friends and lots of bookish fun. It's been great, truly.

So last week Saturday and Sunday I attended the Bath Children's Literature Festival which is one of my favourite things ever. I met Lara Williamson (author of A Boy Called Hope, The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair and Spaghetti-Hoop Boy) on Saturday which was so much fun! A lot of the people attending the event were a lot younger than me as she writes middle-grade books; so I felt super old, but I had a great time! She played "Pass the Parcel" with the audience and really interacted with them which was lovely. But, I'm not going to lie, I was super terrified that the parcel would reach me and I'd have to speak in front of everybody (yes, I'm that shy) but luckily it didn't. 😂

On Saturday evening, I went with my friend to the Brian Conaghan & Sarah Crossan event, where they discussed their new book, We Come Apart. One of the audience members asked the authors about the ending of their book (which I believe is quite sad) and we just saw this young girl's head flop onto her mom's shoulder after Brian and Sarah answered the question, which clearly wasn't what she wanted to hear. Later on, the mom answered a question that another member of audience had asked and she said she'd never seen her daughter cry so hard in a book. Sarah Crossan hugged her afterwards and apologized for making her cry, which I thought was really sweet! Poor kid, nobody must've warned her that the book nerd life is a painful life.

Then Sunday (THE BEST DAY EVER) happened. Sunday was a very, very good day. It was the kind of day I hope I never forget; the kind of day that elicited feelings I wish I could store in a bottle. It was also unseasonably warm with actual sunshine, even the weather wanted to make it a good day! 
So on Sunday, I kicked off my literary day by attending the Emily Barr Creative Writing Workshop which was incredible. I felt so inspired to read and write, I was brave enough to read some of what I'd written out loud (who even am I?!) and I got two story ideas during the class! Emily gave such wonderful advice and I adored the writing exercises she set us; you can read my in-depth recap (and read some of my writing) here! 

After that I had to rush to the Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivison and Lauren James event, which was on the other side of Bath. It was chaotic and rushed but I MADE IT. I absolutely loved the talk! I was grinning and laughing for the entire length of the talk and I had so much fun listening to them speak. The discussion was also in a really nice comedy club. There were tables set out with red cloths draped over them and on each table, for each different event, there were different books/swag you could take! FREE BOOKS. 

After the event I met TWO BOOK BLOGGERS - I've never met online friends IRL before! I met Lucy from Queen of Contemporary who I've known for nearly six years. It was so surreal meeting one of my first ever blogging friends! She's so lovely and I'm so happy I finally got to meet her! 

I also met Alice from Married to Books and she's so sweet; she lives quite near to me so I'm hoping we can hang out more often!

After I'd gotten my book signed by Lauren James and chatted to Lucy and Alice for a bit, my friend and I went to Waitrose to go get some lunch. My parents were there with a friend, so Matthew and I sat and chatted to them for a bit whilst we had lunch. After replenishing my energy levels with a beautiful chicken sandwich, we hurried down to the comedy club again to listen to Gemma Cairney, Sara Barnard and Amy Alward! Sara sadly couldn't make it due to illness, but it was so much fun listening to Gemma and Amy speak! They talked about the importance of writing books that deal with difficult topics (Gemma), the importance of including girls who are interested in STEM in their books (Amy); the spoke about their writing processes, books they are currently reading and a whole lot of other fun stuff! I haven't read Gemma or Amy's books but I had my copy of The Potion Diaries with me, so Amy was kind enough to sign it! 

Matthew and I then went back to Waitrose to buy a chocolate and hang about in the cafe for a bit (there was a 45 minute break between each talk) and then we were off to the last event! When we got the comedy club Alice waved us over, which was really nice of her! So we sat by Alice, picked up some new books off of the table and ate chocolate - IT WAS MUCH FUN. The last talk was fandom/cosplay themed so the authors on the panel had dressed up and there were several people in the audience also donning cosplay outfits, which was so cool! I absolutely loved listening to Frances Hardinge, Maggie Harcourt and Lucy Saxon chat about their favourite fandoms, the books they're reading, the books they're writing...it was SO FUN. I laughed so much and I, again, had SO MUCH FUN. I really want to try to get Frances's and Lucy's books now - they sound so good

After the event I got my books signed and then THE MOST EXCITING THING HAPPENED. Okay, so. At our table, a woman and her daughter were sitting and she had an arc of Renegades by Marissa Meyer that she gave to Alice as she didn't want it. I was like, OH MY GOSH THAT MUST MEAN THERE ARE COPIES OF RENEGADES AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE. So I was craning my neck and popping my head up like a meerkat but it's dark inside the room so I couldn't see if there were any other copies. ANYWAY, fast forward to after the event. I'm standing in line to get my book signed by Maggie Harcourt, and one of the stewards enters into the signing room. She holds up a copy of Renegades and says the most glorious words I've ever heard, "Does anyone want this book?". I waited half a second to give someone else a chance to put their hand up (how polite of me) but no one did so I shot my hand up. And I got a copy of Renegades. I nearly DIED I was so excited.

It was a fantastic way to end an even more fantastic day! I then went home with my parents and I got some nice pictures of Bath. The sun was shining, it was so warm and I had a bag full of books. It was truly such a wonderful day!

Tuesday was also a super good day for me. I had my book club meeting and it was so much fun. We discussed books, I was thoroughly convinced to pick up Throne of Glass. We talked Harry Potter houses, French bulldogs and health insurance (sometimes we go off on tangents, you may have noticed). And there were biscuits. I love biscuits. It was such a lovely day and I had so much fun at the meeting! The one librarian who runs the book club also gave me some arcs and swag that she had lying about SO THAT WAS AWESOME. Again, I nearly died of excitement. 

Other news...
  • I also FINALLY got a response from a publishing company I've emailed a few times and who I've been desperate to work with. They've put me on their mailing list so YAY, LET'S DO A CELEBRATORY DANCE!!! 
  • I got a stunning notebook to start planning my NaNoWriMo novel in! I have several ideas for it but no idea how to string them all together. Here's hoping this notebook will (magically) help me. Wishful thinking? I HOPE NOT. 
  • Next week is my last week of term and then I have a week off school! I CAN'T WAIT. 
Life update over, now, onto the books!


I emailed Harper Collins two weeks ago to ask if they perhaps had any copies of Forever Geek to send to me to review! I didn't get a reply from them (I did actually, but it went to spam. Best "spam" mail I've ever gotten) so I assumed they didn't have copies left. BUT THEN a few days later, the postman left a huge parcel by the door. A Harper Collins parcel. After flapping my arms like a demented bird and shrieking more than a little, I opened the parcel. There was not one, not two, but THREE books inside. *runs around screaming*


They sent me a copy of Forever Geek (IT'S HARDCOVER), The Thousandth Floor and The Dazzling Heights! They're all so pretty and the colour combination looks gorgeous together. ANYWAY, I have read The Thousandth Floor and I have a copy, so watch this space for a giveaway! I wasn't a huge fan of The Thousandth Floor but I am keen on picking up the sequel. I hope I love it more than the first book!  


My book club also organised us review copies of The Taste of Blue Light. We're one of the book groups chosen to read this book and I believe the publishing company will be selecting three reading groups to visit the Hachette publishing house in London to see how the publishing process works etc. It sounds AMAZING; I hope my group gets selected! 

I bought The Loneliest Girl in the Universe before the literature festival and I was hoping I'd get around to reading it, but sadly I didn't have time. It sounds like an epic sci-fi thriller; I'm so excited to read it! ALSO, LOOK AT THAT COVER.


Jess Butterworth was one of the authors I listened to on Thursday evening, so I bought her book at the event to get signed! It was literally such a hard decision deciding whether I should buy Running on the Rooftop of the World or Sea by Sarah Driver. I eventually went with this one because I do have Sea out from the library! This book sounds super cute and I'm so excited to read it. 

I also purchased a copy of Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. I'm so excited to read it! It sounds SO, SO GOOD

These were the three books my library gave me! I mentally shrieked very, very loudly when I saw If Birds Fly Back in that pile, as I've been wanting to read it for ages. I hadn't heard of One Silver Summer before I got it on Tuesday, but it sounds like such a cute read and I'm so excited to read it. I have read Windfall so I'll also be giving this away on my blog or Twitter! 

LOOK AT ALL THE CUTE SWAG AS WELL. 


LOOK AT RENEGADES, ISN'T IT BEAUTIFUL?! AH, SO BEAUTIFUL. I'm SO excited to read Renegades and The Fandom! I saw a lot of buzz about the latter on bookstagram/Twitter a few weeks back and I was super interested in it. So excited to read it! 

I also got a copy of Kaleidoscope Song by Fox Benwell (which I forgot to include in this photograph) and it's so pretty! It's also set in South Africa which is the coolest thing ever. Would you like to know how many books I've read that are set in South Africa? 

Guess.

ONE. I've read many, many books and only one has been set in SA. 

Image result for not amused gif

I didn't actually read the blurb properly when I picked the copy Kaleidoscope Song off of the table because I was so distracted by the pretty cover (and the fact that the event was starting); however, I read the blurb when I got home and I realised it contains sensitive subject matter and other things that I don't particularly enjoy reading about. It's gotten really good review and I a lot of people have loved it, so I'll also be doing a giveaway for this on my blog or Twitter, so keep an eye out for that!  



I'm so excited to read all of these! Which one should I read first? Are there any here that you're particularly interested in reading? How was your week? Did you buy any books this week?
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