Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Changes, Changes

Since today is the last month of April I was supposed to post the usual Monthly Re-cap, which I had neglected to written last night since I well... blatantly fell asleep after revision and homework all day. I was going to write it this morning but then I thought, why? Its not a post I particularly enjoy writing (apart from the links, I like sharing other bloggers posts that I love). And in the end I decided to stop writing Monthly Re-caps, and the reason I'm writing this post is because I have a few other things that have been playing on my mind, nothing big, but I felt the need to share them anyway.

Stopping the monthly Re-caps was really the easiest thing to start off with - the next thing, I feel quite guilty about. See, the thing is I have been going over my entire May Blogging Schedule (basically a calendar with all the posts I plan to put up in the month of May), I have very few of the posts actually written, shame on me, but the actual point of this, is that the majority are either feature posts or reviews, which if I'm honest take very little effort once you've got the main points, and that's really the point.

This entire week and next month I will be completely bogged down with revision, homework, and the organization of a secret project that's taking place at the start of June for twelve days (on my blog obviously). What all this means is a) I won't be posting as often as I perhaps would like to, knowing what my own personal timetable is like its probably going to be sporadic posting this month and b) when I do post I will of course put everything into it, even if it is just a feature post, and I hope you understand that even if I'm not doing big discussions or taking the time to brainstorm and come up with something completely different I still put the effort in to make it the best post possible.

Not posting on a regular basis because of something else that's a big part of my life does make me feel really guilty, and I should be able to manage both - which is exactly what I'm trying to do now, but I can never make guarantees when it comes to balancing schoolwork and blogging - because school is always going to come first. Don't get me wrong I love blogging to the stars and back *hums theme song* but I have my IGCSE's coming up and with my first career choice already out the window I need to make sure I get passing grades on all my exams to have the options I would like for A-levels. I've set aside as much time as I can for blogging but I'm just getting really stressed over all of it lately, so if I decide to not write a post and go read or go take a bath instead to calm myself down then I don't want to have to feel guilty about that, even though I know there's a small part of my brain that'll feel guilty anyway.

And I think I've gotten everything off my chest now... I actually don't know why I decided to write this post, it was a spur of the moment decision - its nine in the morning, I'm watching Breaking Bad, and I'm writing a post that I don't know if I'll post or not in the first place. I'm not looking for pity or anything, trust me, I just felt like you deserved a, what would you call this... a warning, I suppose, because I don't want to have to make excuses at the end of May for not posting frequently, or not having the best posts in the history of ever, either.

Since that was a very dreary post I'll end it with a picture of a cat and a bunny (Amy will love me for this...).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Showcase Sunday (1)

Last week its came to mind that I didn't do book hauls very often on the blog and I was going to start doing Stacking the Shelves when  I saw this little feature, Showcase Sunday, over on Books, Biscuits and Tea which is run by Vicky (awesome person!) and decided I'd participate in this!

For the majority of this week I was away traveling but I did manage to buy four books whilst in Malaysia, and get approved for three on NetGalley.

The books I bought were:

Ignite me by Tahereh Mafi
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Into The Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

The books I received via NetGalley:

Some Fine Day by Kat Ross
Will The Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? by Sara Hantz
Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Those were the books I got this week, have you read or want any of them? Let me know!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

REVIEW: The End of the World as we Know It by Iva-Marie Palmer

Title: The End of the World as we Know It
Author: Iva-Marie Palmer
Publisher: Hot Key Books, March 6th, 2014
Source: ARC from the Publisher
Format: Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
They wanted to party like it was their last night on earth. They just might get their wish... When Teena locks Leo, Evan, and Sarabeth in the basement during her biggest party of the year, she doesn't plan on getting trapped in the Loser Dungeon herself. She can barely imagine a night with these dweebs - let alone a lifetime. But when an alien invasion destroys their entire Midwestern suburb, it looks like these unlikely friends are the last people on earth. Now, its up to them to save the world... 
The End of the World as we Know It seemed like a book that was going to be action packed, dark, and brooding. That's why I requested it from Hot Key - I like gritty YA, don't get me wrong I like clean YA too but... Yeah, not so much dark and broody. It was more witty, gross, and intense in some places. A really fun read that combines Aliens, growing friendship, and some flirtation.

The End of the World as we Know It seemed more like a crappy sci-fi movie (even with a 'mystery' narrator popping in here and there, and voice-over) in my head, one that you'd watch at home and re-watch it anyways because of how it made you chuckle. With its over the top story line, the fact that four teens battle an alien invasion with spandex, body glitter and perfume, you can't help but start the movie reeling in your head. Just go with it. It works. Sort-of.

Told from the point of view of four teens from quite different ends of the social spectrum; the characters themselves were decent, and showed your stereotypical Queen Bee, Stoner, Virgin and Geek. Usually this probably would have annoyed me to no end as I absolutely loathe stereotypes, but since there was some good character growth it worked well with the story overall, and you couldn't help but adore the characters either way.

At the beginning of the book I disliked the changing POV from four different people but as we got further in a realized that it added much more to the book than if it had been told from the point of view of one person, such as Sarabeth - this changing POV also explored the characters personalities and allowed multiple things to be happening without being explained at some point in the story because you'd already read about it from that persons POV. The multiple POV's also showed us there was more to the characters than their given labels, for example, Teena; I grew to like her when we were inside her head compared to what everyone else saw at the beginning which might of put me off.
The overly jovial rainbow-hued letters of Toys"R"Us looked monolithic above them, the backward R like some kind of cruel  joke from God. The song in her head stopped abruptly. What the fuck was Leo thinking?
The Pop Culture references were a laugh and the development with IHOP were very... interesting.

Admittedly I did have some preconceived notions when I first started the book and saw that it wasn't as serious as what I had originally thought - I thought it was going to be something comical, unrealistic, and the plot was going to be rubbish, especially the alien parts. But it was alright, and the aliens themselves weren't a bad creation, I loved the fact that they smelled like good quality coffee, its something I've never heard in relation to Aliens and it made them unique to Palmer's story.

I myself am not a big sci-fi fan, or contemporary, and to be honest I have mixed feelings about this book, some bits made me go ehh, others got me excited - Palmer's writing was decent, and she did a great job as a debut author but I really wouldn't read this book again. It was a one time thing that was enjoyable but I didn't take anything away from it. But if you like humor, alien guts, and some budding romance then you should pick up The End of the World as we Know it and have a read.

Rating: 3/5 Bookish Birds
This was quite good, but there were a few elements that took away from the whole.

The Covers:

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

INTERVIEW: YA Contemporary Authors

It has literally been eons since I posted and interview, and not because I haven't had any material to put up in regard to interviews but because I wasn't really in the mood, and I got some lovely answer my my questions from authors that I wanted to wait. But now I feel brilliant and I got to interview two brilliant YA Contemporary authors (who I adore!) and they both have the same first name; meet Katie Cotugno and Katie McGarry!

Question 1 - Teenage pregnancy in itself is a difficult subject to tackle, what made you decide to incorporate it into a book?
I definitely didn't set out to write and Issues book. I went to  Catholic school, though, and every year there were a couple of girls who would mysteriously disappear and turn up again nine months later with a story about how they're been staying with their sick aunt or something. I was so curious about them, and what their lives must have been like. There's a lot of me in Reena, I think, and part of writing 'How To Love' was me imagining that experience.

Question 2 - I love the format of 'How To Love' with the Before and After sections; was this originally planned? If not, how did it come about?
Thank you! 'How To Love' was never going to be an entirely linear book -- I always knew the past would have to inform the present, and vice-versa -- but as I got deeper into it, it became pretty clear that I was trying to tell two really different, independent stories in tandem with one another. That is, there was so much backstory that just sticking in random flashbacks was never going to cover it.

Question 3 - What, or who, would you say is your bigger writing inspiration and why?
I get inspired by everything! Shows I watch, stuff I hear people say on the subway, the smell of the soap they used to use in the bathroom at the Lenox Hotel in Boston. I feel like living a full life is the best inspiration.

Question 1 - Did you always see yourself writing YA Contemporary? If not, what other genre were you interested in writing for and why?
Would you believe the first book I wrote was a paranormal? The second book I wrote was a dystopian and the third book was a contemporary. Pushing the Limits is the fourth book and the first one I thought was worthy of being published. All of the books I have wrote have been YA. I absolutely love YA contemporary, but I haven't ruled out writing anything else.

Question 2 - Noah and Echo have to be my favorite characters out of all your books; why did you decide to write another book about them?
I wrote Pushing the Limits as a stand-alone with no intentions of continuing the series. My publisher approached me and asked if I would be interested in continuing it and I answered yes. There is a scene in Pushing the Limits where Beth hes been abused by her mothers' boyfriend. In that moment, I knew that she had a story to tell.
I did eventually decide to write a second book for Echo and Noah titled, Breaking the Rules (December 30, 2014). When I finished Pushing the Limits, I knew their story wasn't done. There is still a lot that Echo and Noah need to emotionally work through in order to find happiness. Never in a million years did I think that people would love Pushing the Limits like I do. Because I have had so many people ask what happens to them, I decided to continue their story for a little bit longer. This is a story line I have know since I wrote The End at the end of PTL. I'm just excited I now have a chance to share it with my readers.

Question 3 - If you could meet ANY of your characters, and spend the day with them, who would it be? Honestly, I'd love to meet Noah's little brother!
Isaiah! I have had a crush on him since he appeared in the first book!
Thank you for the interview!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

How Do I Write Reviews?

Recently I've gone mad writing book reviews for the blog and scheduling them, so it only seemed logical to write a post about it, and tell you about my "Five Stages of Reviewing A Book", and I made a little graphic for it too. Click on the graphic to be brought to a larger version!

That's how I review a book, book bloggers; what's your journey like from reading a book to a published review?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Epic Rec's: April 2014

"A few months ago, Judith and I started up an impromptu book club called Epic Recs. The aim of this was to force each other to read books we have previously loves. You know, because Judith is a self proclaimed book pusher, and I just like forcing people to do things." - Amber @ Books of Amber
Back in December me and Charli did our very first Epic Rec's post, and we haven't done one since then because of the post office not delivering my rec to Charli on time; but we're baaaack, and with some great rec's. But first, you can check out Charli's Consider Yourself Quoted of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak here - which was the book that I rec'd, and you can check out my 'Epic Review' of Earth Girl by Janet Edwards here - which was the book that Charli rec'd I read! 

"I absolutely adored it. Everything about it." - Charli
"In short, Earth Girl is an altogether
stunning debut novel, with very few flaws." - Me
Now onto this month's recs...

Charli recommended that I read If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, and I was over the moon about this because its a book I've wanted to read for ages, and I got the one with the pretteh cover, as you saw in my March Monthly Re-cap. I recommended that Charli read Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne, which I loved! 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Epic Reviews: Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

Title: Earth Girl (Earth Girl #1)
Author: Janet Edwards
Publisher: Harper Voyager, August 16th, 2012
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can't travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She's and 'ape', a 'throwback', but this is one ape girl who won't give in. 
Earth Girl is a book about a girl, Jarra, who in the year 2788 is disabled. But not the way we'd usually associate being disabled with; she can walk, she can talk, she doesn't need the use of a wheelchair or crutches. No, Jarra is disabled in the sense that she can't portal to other planets - as with all apes her immune system can't survive being on other planets.

A large part of Earth Girl shows us how prejudiced people can be to others who are 'different'. Even after a couple of centuries people still find a reason to tease and torment others, who are the same as them, skin and bone and a few added extras. Portaling in the book is pretty much an everyday activity, as normal as taking the bus, and to not be able to do that is bad enough - to be called an 'ape' for it, is even worse. To even insinuate that because one's immune system isn't strong enough makes them inferior to everyone else. Personally, I don't know anyone with disabilities well, but from one human to another, I respect people who have disabilities and everything they have to go through to accommodate themselves.

I love how this theme of prejudice is explored throughout the book, especially since for the most part a lot of the characters Jarra interacts with don't know she's an 'ape' - and how its not just directed at Jarra but the 'norms' already have presumptions about each other according to what sectors they're from, and how they'd act, and getting to see some of the back-handed characters grow to overcome the initial assumptions was something that really added to the book, in my mind.
"I'm Handicapped and I always will be. I can't join the Military, but I've got history and Fian, and I think they're the most important."
Another big part of the book was the world building, which was just honestly amazing. I realize the fact that there are some bits that don't add up in real life, because it is an alternative world, it isn't completely fictional - but even with these slight misses, I still thought it was well executed. There's only so much you can fit into a book without it sounding like historical waffle.

From the sectors, to the norms and portals - being someone who was interested in Archaeology and still is, I think its fair to say I was a bit quick to judge how Edwards presented this subject in the future, and needless to say she did a bloody good job. Nothing was over complicated, but there was still lots of details and without that I think the book would have felt severely lacking. And again, all the scientific elements to the book were well explained and/or accurate - I'm not keen on sci-fi novels in general, though I've read quite a few, but Earth Girl is a book that's gotten me excited to read more from this genre, but its also got me excited for the future - if someone can come up with this in fiction, who's to say it won't be possible in the next couple of centuries??

I thought the romance that transpired between Jarra and Fian was very sweet, but un-necessary; I felt that the book would have been just as good without the romance, or to have had it developed more than it was. Another thing I think that could have been developed a bit more was the 'Twoing' contracts, which Jarra and Fian get - I didn't really understand the point of it at times, then marriage is something completely different. I have to say, I loved the main character. Usually, I have a large disliking for female protagonsists (not on purpose!) but I love Jarra, and the fact that we get to know her properly as a character even when her identity changes to JMK (Jarra the Military Kid) not a lot about her has changed apart from her background and so on so that the other 'norms' wouldn't know she's an 'ape'.

Earth Girl surprised me being such a good debut novel, but it really was. The world Edwards created was brilliant, the characters aren't easily forgotten, and neither is the message of prejudice. In short, Earth Girl is an altogether stunning debut novel, with very few flaws. If you like Dystopia/Sci-Fi with a tad of romance then Earth Girl is for you, I promise you'll love me for recommending this ;)

Rating: 4/5 Bookish Birds; I like this book a lot, I would read it again, and recommend it, but it hasn't been the best book I've read.

The Trilogy:

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Divergent Week! This is the End...

Today is the last day of Divergent Week, at the very time of writing this post there's just a few minutes left until the official closing before Cat and Rachel won't accept any more points. This week has been super fun and I'm so happy  I was able to be a Faction Leader and participate in all the great tasks. At first I was genuinely worried I'd do a terrible job and no one would feel really motivated to do the tasks and get points for our faction, Candor, but after a day or so I started getting quite a few emails with the proof of what tasks the Initiates had completed! Sadly, I didn't get anything from two Initiates (not naming names! of course I understand if you weren't able to get  any tasks done, but it would have been nice to let me know!) but the other three Initiates did really well, and I got to do some tasks too! 

As of now, in total, all of us in Candor have earned four hundred and eight points, which I am actually super proud of! It doesn't really matter if we don't win overall against the other Factions, but this was such a fun experience and I got to meet new people, as well as celebrating the wonderment that is Divergent, of course!

Check back soon to see which Faction won!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Liebster Award

In today's post I'm going to be doing the Liebster award, for a second time! The Liebster Award is really all about getting to know bloggers and their blogs with less than 200 followers. Even though its called an award, there is no actual award, its more of a 'Pass It On'. I've been nominated for this award a few times before, and I got nominated again in early March by Olivia from Fictionally Obsessed.

The Rules - 

You must link back to the person who nominated you
You must answer 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.
List 11 facts about yourself.
You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award with fewer than 200 followers.
You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

The Questions -

1. Who's your favorite fictional character?
Argh, how am I supposed to pick JUST one!? Hmm... I'd have to say Oskar Schell from Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close'.
2. If you won $1000 but had to spend it all in one day, what would you spend it on and why?
A 1960's Pentax camera, because I just love vintage camera's and photography in general, and I'd spend the rest on books, I don't think I need to say why to that ;) 
3. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?
I'm going to be slightly boring and say London, because its close to home, but would still be what I'd view as a great living experience. 
4. Do you like...chocolate or cookies?
Erm... this is so hard! I have to say chocolate, I'm sorry cookies, I still love you!
5. What's your daily schedule like?
Well, on week day's its wake up, shower, breakfast, homework, revision, school, homework, blogging time, reading time, bed. On weekends I am significantly more lazy, its usually wake up, read in bed for two hours with a cuppa tea, get up, take a bath, homework, blogging time, reading again.
6. What format do you like your books in?
Paperback. I love having hardbacks but when it comes to holding them and actually reading them its always paperbacks for me. I like e-books, but you can't  beat a physical book.
7. List 3 must read books that everyone should read!
One - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Two - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Three - Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
8. Why did you name your blog the name it currently has?
Well, it was a bit of a project of elimination, I went through a few names, but one day I was just thinking about phoenix's and so on, and the name just popped into my head, and I really like it.
9. What authors have you met before?
I haven't actually met any authors before, although I've gotten invited to a lot of events I've never had the chance to go. But I did meet an indie author call Debi Evans when I was seven and got the book sent.
10. Favorite kind of candy?
Cola cubes, jelly beans, and skittles! 

The Facts - 

1. I have lots of signed bookmarks but I don't use them, I just like praising them!
2. I like buying a second copy of a signed book I have, because I don't like the potential there is to ruin the books when reading it.
3. I've always loved writing, and want to get a novel published.
4. I'm hoping to study Architecture in college/university. 
5. I have a very slight addiction to twitter...
6. I love cake; and tirmisu is by far my favorite! 
7. I love traveling too, on the sea or in the air, whether its 21 hours at a time, or just half an hour. 
8. I really want to go to a Passanger concert, and hear him play live.
9. My favorite subject is History, and if Architecture doesn't work, I'd love to be a History teacher.
10. I'm a big fan of literature and classics. 
11. I can almost fluently talk and write backwards, though I do make mistakes sometimes!

For the Nominees -
1. Which author would you most like to meet and why?
2. What's your life ambition?
3. How would you spend your day if you were invisible?
4. If you could feature in any book which would it be?
5. You need to remove one word from the dictionary, which would it be?
6. Which mythological creature would you like to be?
7. What's your best book related memory?
8. If you could materialize on book character to be your sidekick, who would it be?
9. Bookish Habits?
10. How do you read? (e.g. I usually sit on the couch with my feet curled up, and a duvet wrapped around me, with a cuppa tea.)

I nominate - 

Saira @ Growing Wings
Jordan @ Booklol16
Georgia @ The Books Bandit
Urgh, I can't think of two more, sorry!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - April Edition

I haven't done a Waiting on Wednesday post in quite a while so I thought why not do one and round up all the books that are being published in April that I'm super excited for; be warned there are quite a lot!

These are in no particular order by the way! But aren't all the covers so pretty... *strokes*

 I have in fact already read most of these, but I'm still super excited for their actual publication day!!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Divergent Week!

In case you haven't heard Catriona at Through A Cat's Eyes and Rachel from Booktastic Reviews are hosting a Divergent Week, and a certain lucky someone *points to self* get's to be the Faction Leader for Candor! Now, I've never gotten Candor as my faction and don't think I'd do well as an initiate because I just couldn't be as honest as them, or blunt. And that's the truth... I didn't mean that to be a psychological poke...