Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Monthly Wrap Up || SEPTEMBER 2014

If you recall in my last Wrap Up I said that August wasn't too busy, well, September was the complete opposite, it was a flurry of school, homework, and a little book buying. On the other hand though that means I don't actually have that much to talk about in this months wrap up. The Maze Runner movie came out this month, which  I have yet to see, but I did go and see The Captive which was pretty good - I felt the ending was a bit like a get out clause though. Then again, I am a person who tends to kill off at least one character when I'm writing. Last Sunday was the first day of Autumn (the Autumn Equinox), the time of oranges and falling leaves has started.


Hence the autumnal background. I didn't buy that many books this month most of the ones I received were Book Depository orders from August, so that was fun. It always feels like I've received little presents when I open packages, even if I did order them myself. You can see all the books I got this month in my September Book Haul! At the start of the month I reviewed the first book of a trilogy that I am completely in love with; it was Splintered by A.G. Howard, a bit of an Alice in Wonderland re-telling that was really unique, I've never read anything like it before! You can see my review of Splintered here, where I gave it five stars! I also reviewed James Dawson's newest release, This Book Is Gay, and it is amazing, you really need to pick it up and give it a read - if that's not enough to convince you you can see my review of the book here. Then  I did a tag (I haven't done a tag in ages!) that is pretty young since it was only created the day before I posted it - it was the Novel Writing Fails Tag! Lastly, I reviewed Black Ice, the newest YA release from Becca Fitzpatrick - the author of the Hush, Hush series (yet another series I haven't read yet) which was a bit of a contemporary-thriller and I really enjoyed it! You can check out my review of Black Ice here - it publishes on the 7th of October!

That's everything I really have to say in this month's wrap up. Did any one catch The Caretaker? I think it was the best episode of the new Doctor Who season yet, I'm starting to think of Capaldi more as the Doctor now than a stranger which is a big improvement.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

REVIEW || Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Book Title: Black Ice
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK, October 7th, 2014
Source: Publisher (via NetGalley)
Format: E-book, 384 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Britt Pfeiffer has never been that adventurous, but that's about to change. Wanting to impress her ex-boyfriend, Britt convinces best friend, Korbie, to take a trekking trip with her. But when a freak storm leaves the girls stranded they seek shelter in a cabin, where they find two knights in shining armour. Or so they think. Britt quickly realises that the girls need to get off the mountain, fast. In exhange for her life, she is forced to guide the boys down, and as they set out on a harrowing journey through the cold and snow, Britt realises the only way to escape with her life is to pretend she is on their side. But is gorgeous, sexy Mason an enemy or an ally? Tension mounts, and it's only a matter of time before things turn deadly... Dark and adrenaline-filled, Black Ice will have you on the edge of your seat right until the final twist.
*I received an advanced e-galley of Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick from Simon and Schuster UK Children's before its publication day to read and review - this in no way affected my review!*

Before seeing a a tweet, I had never heard of Black Ice and I only briefly knew Fitzpatrick as the author of the Hush, Hush series. I originally wanted to read Black Ice to get a feel for Fitzpatrick's writing style before committing to a series. I don't really think the blurb I read on NetGalley did this book justice - it made me think that Black Ice was another recycled love story that just happened to be set in snowy mountains, when in actuality Black Ice does not solely focus on the "romance element" as its main story-line, which I appreciated. It was so much darker and thrilling than I had expected it to be, Fitzpatrick produced it really well - there were so many ways it could have been written differently and I don't think any other way would have really fit.

In general, I only had two minor issues with the book; one being that I found everything [literally everything that happened] predictable - I would have definitely liked something a bit more mysterious, but as I mentioned earlier, Fitzpatrick's writing just had this certain captivation that even though the happenings were obvious to me, I still kept reading - furthermore it was really well researched, you have to hand it to the author, you can tell that this wasn't written on a whim but properly and I assume extensively looked into - all the descriptions and survival aspect was honestly brilliant in a slightly chilling way, if I'm honest.. And secondly, I enjoyed the romance whilst reading but I don't really like it - I can't think of another way to put this without sounding contradictory. Admittedly, I was a sucker for the great ending [ping! points won Fitzpatrick!] but yeah, the romance in the book... not my street scene, unfortunately.

Okay, to surmise; Black Ice was a well-written and original young adult book with a main character who transgressed throughout the whole novel into someone I admired, and I really thought that the way the author presented that aspect of the book was just marvelous. I definitely recommend this if you're a fan of Contemporary and want to try something a little different - if you enjoyed novels such as Adi Alsaid's Let's Get Lost I think you'd really like this book!

Rating = 4 Bookish Birds

Sunday, 21 September 2014

BOOK HAUL || SEPTEMBER 2014

Its a little bit earlier than usual, but I decided to post this months book haul now rather than at the end of the month because I'm planning to post another haul quite early in October since I'll be picking up A LOT of books and instead of doing them all in one big haul, I've separated them. Surprisingly this month seems to be the month of e-galleys because I received loads - I also finally gave in to the inevitable and joined Edelweiss... my kindle is very overweight at the moment.

PHYSICAL BOOKS ---




Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (bought)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (bought)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (bought)
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (bought)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by   (bought
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (bought)
Falling into Place by Amy Zhang (publisher - Harper360)
Lirael by Garth Nix (bought)
A Storm of Swords - 1: Steel and Snow by George R.R. Martin (bought)

E-BOOKS ---


Tape by Steven Camden (via NetGalley)
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (via NetGalley)
Waiting for Doggo by Mark B. Mills (via NetGalley)


The 100 by Kass Morgan (via NetGalley)
Day 21 by Kass Morgan (via NetGalley)



BZRK Apocalypse by Michael Grant (via Edelweiss)
Black Ice by Beca Fitzpatrick (via NetGalley)
True Fire by Gary Meehan (via Edelweiss)

A massive thank-you to all the publishers who sent me books! Also as a side note the Ninja Book Swap is happening again, and you should definitely sign up! This time there's two swaps - the regular Ninja Book Swap and the second one is Halloween themed; the Trick or Treat book swap!!

If you want to sign up for the regular book swap this October, click here!
And if you want to sign up for the Trick or Treat book swap, click here!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

TAG || The [Novel] Writing Fail(s)

Since I was at least eight I have endeavored to write a novel. When I was nine I managed to write out 17k of a novel that I named Connatrix - now, this would have been a brilliant start apart from the fact that it was so unoriginal that I gag when I read over it. There was just not a single bit of substance in it. I am also absolutely terrible when it comes to thinking up titles - like, that is the one thing I completely ignore when I'm trying to write, I will put off naming a piece of work for as long as possible or until something plausible turns up in my head.

When it comes to writing short stories, I'll admit I'm pretty good at those. But there are two sides to every coin and if I'm not careful with planning then writing a short story will just end up turning into another WIP of a novel because of how much I want to include and talk about.

Now [like Hawwa] I participated in last year's NaNoWrimo and it went pretty well. I didn't reach 50k but I still wrote over 20k that was readable - soon enough I began to hate it, and I haven't got a clue where it's ended up in my laptop files. My issue isn't that I procrastinate writing, in fact I go at it with full vigor - but usually after I pass 5k I start to get bored of what I'm writing about; I find more faults every time I read over it and eventually I begin to hate it to. As a result there are a lot of WIPs that haven't passed 5k or seen the light of day until recently when I went scouring for them for this post. I've gone over my own weaknesses, in my head, in relation to writing a lot - usually when I'm at the deepest point of giving up on a novel and to finally have a place to put my musings feels slightly uplifting.

THE THINGS I USE AS EXCUSES FOR MY FAILS AT WRITING A NOVEL:

+ I cannot go more than 3k without having to go back, read over what I've written and make meticulous edits. This is one of the BIGGEST problems I have when writing because it wastes time I and also prompts that shady patch in my mind that is always whispering how much of a bad writer I am.

+ I am a pantser I don't plot anything out seriously; but in my head nearly everything is mapped, or at least a good majority - in some skeletal form, but with a lot of detail at the same time - because of this when I write I get into this state where I have to get every single thing down, but that's obviously impossible so I get frustrated with myself and contributes to me ending up hating everything I write.

+ THE TITLE THING. Even if I have a finished piece of writing I will not be able to come up with a title that doesn't sound pretentious or just plain rubbish - or well, I haven't yet been able to do that.

+ When I've got something I'm relatively happy with writing about the next hurdle to overcome is ME. Yes, I said me. This is because when I'm writing its gets very difficult for me to not put myself into it, and not influence the characters with my own views and opinions - and I don't like writing about myself. Can you see the problem here?

MY CURRENT WIPs:
- after looking through old USB's [let me tell you, there were a lot of files to sift through] I found out that I have over 17 WIPs and to make life easier for you (and mostly me) I've decided to only include the five that I'm most likely to continue with or use in something.
  1. UN-NAMED [YA - dystopian] My most recent WIP that I started a few days ago - not the most original but I'm having fun with it. At the moment, there's three point of views between a girl called Rena, a boy called Aiden, and a mysterious narrator. Currently 5k, so far everyone but a lovable character named Big Joe (like I said, not original at all) hates the new and only girl at the academy, Rena. Dun, dun, dun.
  2. THE LOUD SILENCE [YA - contemporary/fantasy] This was the second version of my NaNoWrimo novel, when I decided to give it another try - apart from a few deaths, the mains character's psychological mindset, and making the love interest capable of influencing nature I didn't exactly know what I was doing with this or what the plot was - I knew that if I ever did finish it, that it would be the first book in a duology.
  3. A GHOSTLY HEART [MG/YA crossover - genre unknown] I was surprised when I found this one, mainly because I couldn't remember writing it but also because it was quite good - and that is saying something when it comes to me. I say its a middle grade/young adult crossover because its told through the eyes of a narrator who is quite young, but its more so aimed at older readers. I haven't got a single sense of plot, or character development - I'm just sorta going with the flow here.
  4. LITTLE QUESTIONS [unknown - unknown] Little Questions was rather hard to write and as a result I only work on it a little bit at a time, but its definitely one of my more successful WIPs - its got a bit of a strange format; its very much a stream of consciousness from the anonymous narrator, but also includes a lot of imagining things and telling stories. I'm not quite sure how to explain it, what age group its for, or even what genre it is - but it feels unlike anything I've personally ever read, and I like it. Its a novel that I really do hope to complete. One thing that makes me more determined than ever to finish Little Questions is the fact that in essence its very much me talking and not a made up character, and I haven't experienced the same problem where I have to stop writing because everything is become to much like myself, and that has never happened before. I don't know if this means that perhaps this novel is the one, or if I'm just maturing in terms of writing.
  5. UN-NAMED [YA - contemporary] This one is very much an urban, gritty, YA novel that includes various themes including self-harm, bullying, and mental illness and self expression also has a large part to play in it, in various forms. Its quite fractured in its telling, not only because its non-linear but also because I really wanted to showcase the secondary characters mental deterioration throughout the book compared to the narrators/main character's almost perfect facade.
Thanks to Arianne for tagging me! I tag:

 Holly @ Lost in a Library
Charli @ To Another World
This tag was originally created on Hawwa's blog It Was Lovely Reading You, check out her post here

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

REVIEW: This Book is Gay by James Dawson

Book Title: This Book is Gay
Author: James Dawson
Publisher: Hot Key Books, September 4th, 2014
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback, 271 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combines with funny and factual text makes this a must-have read.
As soon as I heard that Dawson had a new book coming out, my ears were perked and my curiosity sparked. I didn't actually know that TBIG was a non-fiction book until I read the email that Hot Key had sent me, but that didn't put me off. It actually got me even more excited, sure Dawson is an excellent fiction writer but he is also a brilliant person in general [or from what I've seen on Twitter…] and to be able to experience his voice in a non-fiction novel was a really exciting prospect. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong with LGBT people, I don’t care if you’re gay or transgender or anything in-between, and I’m a firm believer that no one should go against these types of people because as Dawson mentioned, they don’t affect your life in any way! But I’m not going to get into that in this review, to put it briefly: I support gay and LGBT rights all the way.

Now I’m confident within my own sexuality, but that didn't stop this book from being informative, enjoyable, and really enlightening. You all know the horrible histories series of books, right? [If you don’t, then what on earth is wrong with you?] They’re a myriad of interesting facts and illustrations, and that’s what This Book is Gay is; full of information but at the same time accompanied by these great illustrations (by Spike Gerrell) which added so much more to the book, and in my eyes really made it come alive as more than a piece of non-fiction writing, but something to be truly involved in.

Dawson is frankly honest, and has compiled real life testimonies from a wide range of people, with a wide range of ages! He doesn't hide the fact that being LGBT is hard, but he does help you along the way. I’d highly recommend this to anyone, of any age – and think that every library should own a copy of this book. One thing, I think, that makes TBIG so unique is that it feels like Dawson is sitting across the table from you and just talking, like a normal person – the entire book just feels like a string of dialogue, and its that little touch that makes this a five star read for me.


*Hot Key Books sent me a free copy of This Book is Gay to read and review - this in no way affected my opinion or my review!*

Rating --- 5 Bookish Birds

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Falling into Blogging

Its been more than a week since I even glanced at my blog, which is quite a strange occurrence when it comes to me. Usually, even if I have posts scheduled, I'll have a blogger open to draft ideas and so on, but over the last two weeks I haven't really... cared to do that. Don't get me wrong, I still love blogging and I have loads of ideas, but at the moment I don't feel like writing about them because I don't won't really care about what I'd be writing about - and I don't want to create content that I don't care about. Its hard to explain.

The one thing that prompted me to even write this was when I opened the post today and found a surprise package from HarperCollins; it was an early copy of Falling into Place by Amy Zhang [which publishes on the 9th of September! I highly recommend you check this one out!]. When I opened the envelope and saw the book sitting there, in all its perfection, I couldn't help but squeal and squirm in excitement.


On one hand, things like this have happened before when I've been in slumps and couldn't come up with anything to post - but I chose not to acknowledge it to you guys like I'm doing now. And I think that's one thing that had a negative impact, trying to deny the fact that I was indeed in a slump, and I was worried that I wouldn't get back into blogging. Right now, I don't have that same worry, but its been a strange experience. I suppose half of it has to do with school, I've honestly been exhausted with everything and its only been the first week of Year 11.

Writing this post has sort-of helped, whilst I'm still not in the mood to act on any of the ideas I've had, I'm getting excited about them again, which, I suppose, is the first step to blogging freely again. In all honestly, when it comes to post ideas at times I do feel restricted by the fact that it needs to be related to books somehow, but I've been thinking of changing that. I hold the keys here [figuratively] and whilst this won't stop being a book blog, I would really like to post about other things that interest me occasionally; like cooking/baking or films.

For now though, hi, how are you? What're you reading?

Monday, 1 September 2014

REVIEW: Splintered by A.G. Howard

WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD. SPOILERS AHEAD. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Book Title: Splintered (Splintered #1)
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books, January 1st, 2013
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers - precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. The family cure stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventure in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now. When her mother's mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice's tears, waking the slumbering tea part, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice's mistakes and save her family. She must also decide who to turn: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
To be wholly honest Splintered left me in a bit of a daze when I finished it - I was jumping to start the sequel but had to take a break to really let the novel sink in. I'm still struggling to find words to describe this book other than shouting; JUST BUY IT, AND READ IT, AND LOVE IT. I think at least 10 percent of my love for this book is derived from the fact that I didn't expect it to be that good, but it was more than good, it was bloody brilliant.

Splintered was the perfect re-telling of Alice in Wonderland circa modern day. I adored it. Not only were the fantasy elements original, but the whole contemporary feel to the book was excellently executed in a way that I couldn't help but praise. Everything from the world building; which whilst originating from Lewis's own work, was built up into something that felt real, and at the same time darker and wonderful than what you would associate with the classic Wonderland, to the plot; wildly imaginative and I can't think of any other way to describe it than spot-on - it was so sincere and unique.

It echoed and contrasted with Carroll's well known tales in a way that I had never experienced before. The only *one* fault that I found in this book was that I felt as though we went down the rabbit hole too soon. It was almost like apparating from one place to the next, like there was no transition; pop and we're thrown into Wonderland. Whilst this may work for other readers, I personally would have liked a bit more time spent in the human realm of the story.

The characters were rather... well, normal. [I mean apart from the fact that Morpheus can turn into a Moth and is magical, and that Alyssa is a half blood who is also magical and can hear insects talking among other things.] I thought that this normalcy, whilst being relatable among the Wonderland chaos, also grounded the book. Alyssa wasn't my favourite main character of all time, but I appreciated how she was her own person.

"But hey, isn't there a love triangle? Love triangles suck."

Right, this was something that I was semi-dreading, but the romancey element was actually quite nice. Basically, Alyssa has been crushing on her long time friend Jebediah (known as Jeb for all intensive purposes) and he follows her into Wonderland and there's an eventual confession of feelings at around the half way point, and now everyone is happy and in-love.

Hah, as if.

The rather turbulent element in Alyssa and Jeb's relationship comes in the form of Morpheus - Alyssa's childhood friend who harbours feelings for her. Eventually (and horribly predictably) Alyssa starts to realize that she shares feeling for Morpheus too. I am happy to report that the romance isn't that much of a deal breaker, apart from making some scenes hilarious and others more tense,  it doesn't play that big a part in the first book.

Any potential book boyfriends in Splintered? Hella yes. Let's break it down...

JEB
- protective
- sweet in the inside, tough on the outside
- adorns a labret and the all round bad boy look
- loyal

MORPHEUS
- dark, enchanting
- British accent
- shaggy blue hair
- comes up with a lot of snipes
- will be absolutely devoted to a cause.... if it gets him something he wants
- devious in a fun (and sometimes dreadful) way
- generally good looking

It seems like I went off on a bit of a tangent about Morpheus... *sighs* <3

Splintered pretty much had everything rolled into one; I still think all this text in this review isn't enough to describe how much I loved this book! I would recommend this book to ANYONE, so you should definitely go read it, RIGHT NOW!

Rating = 5 Bookish Birds