Sunday, 31 January 2016

December/January Mini Book Haul

As much as I love using my Kindle for travelling and convenience purposes, I do also love reading a physical book. The feeling of holding a book in my hands is one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had, and I also love the smell as I open one for the first time. I usually try and purchase/borrow a few physical books a month, and I thought that every month I would share these with you. This post, however is for the month of December and January as I wanted you all to see what books I had got for the end of 2015 as well. 

1) Girl Online on Tour - Zoe Sugg


I'd read Girl Online at the start of 2015, and despite the controversy it had over being partly ghost-written, I did thoroughly enjoy it. I knew Zoe was releasing a sequel to it, and when I saw this for half price in my local WHSmiths I just had to get it. It's actually on my February TBR list, so look out for a review in the near future.

2) Auggie & Me by R.J Palacio


Auggie & Me is a different take on the story 'Wonder', featuring three characters that all had something to do with Auggie, who's extraordinary face brought different opinions. Wonder was a book that really touched me and stayed with me long after I closed the final page, so I'm really looking forward to reading the story from different perspectives.

3) To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han


I picked this up on one of my many trips to my local library (I love using my library and could spend hours in there). Just from reading the blurb I knew this was going to be a book that's right up my street. It's a young adult romance novel, and I just cannot wait to get stuck into it.

4) Written in the Stars - Ali Harris


This is another book that I picked up in my library. I have read a few books by Ali Harris before and although it was a while ago, I do remember loving them. I feel like this is going to be a quick and easy read, with a lot of romance involved. Perfect for me.

5) You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell


This was sent to me by the lovely guys at Headline Publishing and I was so happy when I received this in the post. I'd already got the book on my kindle, but as soon as I saw how gorgeous this book was I knew I'd be reading the physical copy at some point. Jill Mansell is a great author and I feel honoured to have been sent a copy of her latest book.

6) Hot Feminist - Polly Vernon


This was sent to me by the people at Hodder Books and I was so excited when I received it. Modern day Feminism is something that I am slowly becoming interested in, so I am really looking forward to getting stuck into it and learning more. I've already read a similar book by Caitlin Moran, so I am hoping that this is just as good or even better. 

7) Call the Midwife  - Jennifer Worth


Call the Midwife is one of my favourite TV shows on at the moment, and I've always said that I've wanted to read the book that the show is based on, but I could never find it, until now. My mum actually picked this up for me from The Works for the bargain price of £3, and I was so happy when she gave it to me. I am honestly so excited to read this and find out what it was like to be a midwife in London in 1950's. Also, if the TV show is anything to go by I have a feeling I will be sobbing whilst reading. 


Amy

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Always Sneak Peek

In November last year I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The aim of the game was to write 50,000 words of a novel during that thirty days. It was hard going and at times I did feel like giving up, however I didn't and I managed to reach the target word count. I'm still writing the ending to my novel, but I would love to share with you the Prologue to it. I'm not going to give anything away about what it is about, as I'd love to leave you guessing.


Always - Prologue

It was a bitterly cold December afternoon. The cold bit away at whatever it could touch, and snow was looking more likely every second. Crowds were rushing through the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street trying to get last minute items for Christmas. You could see panic starting to kick in, as shops were closing and people were battling to get the last minute bargains. Commuters were stuck as they tried to get on buses and into Oxford Circus tube station. It was utter mayhem. I was in the midst of this battle, clutching terrifyingly to my mother, Penelope’s hand. I hated coming out into the busyness of London. We lived on the outskirts of the city, away from all the flocks of commuters, tourists, city workers and inhabitants that flocked there each and every day. For an eight year old girl it was rather petrifying being amongst huge mobs of people that probably wouldn’t even notice you were there. On this particular day I just wanted to get back to the safety of my warm, spacious home. Mother, on the other hand had other ideas.

“Come on Cassandra, I still need to find presents for your father and grandmother, shops are closing soon, so we need to hurry”

“I don’t like it, I just want to get home” I moaned, tugging at her.

“We won’t be long! Stop whinging and come along” She grabbed me by the hand and pulled me close beside her. I was getting bumped into left, right and centre and I wasn’t being noticed at all.

We carried on walking, me being pulled along, mother marching through the crowds with no problem at all. We were just walking by Hamleys, when I saw him. A young boy of around my age was standing right outside of the famous toy store, no one had noticed him, and I started to wonder if it was because of how small he was, just like me. No one noticed me half the time. There was something rather odd about this boy however. He wasn’t dressed like anyone I knew. He was wearing ripped dark trousers, a white button up shirt and a flat cap was placed on top of his cropped brown hair. It was certainly different to what I’d been put in; a pair of blue jeans, a white frilly top, black boots and a pink puffer jacket. As a child though, I didn’t really care about this, and thought I’d say hello, just in case he was lost or looking for his family.

“Hi, my name’s Cassie! What’s yours?” I asked, looking at him and putting out my hand. I’d always seen grownups shake hands, so assumed this was the normal thing to do. The boy looked at me with confusion. Did he not understand what I’d said? Was he from a different country (it might have explained the way he was dressed)? Was he deaf? All these things could’ve explained it. I thought I’d try again, but this time speaking slowly.

“Hi, I’m Cassie. What’s your name?” I repeated, slowly, making sure he would be able to understand. In spite of this, he still gave me the same look of complete and utter confusion. I didn’t know what else I could do.

“Cassie, come on, we better get going” My mother’s voice brought me back to earth with a bump. She’d bumped into an old friend and had been talking.

“But mother I’m making friends with this boy” I explained.

“Cassie, there is no boy. I can’t see one” She gave me a look of bewilderment; it reminded me of the look on the boy’s face.

“There is, I know there is” I pleaded.

I turned round and true enough, he wasn’t there anymore. Where had he gone? I looked up and down the street to see if I could see him, but I couldn’t. He wouldn’t have been able to get away that fast. Where had he gone? And what was he? And why couldn’t mother see him?

“Cassandra, I think you have what we call an Imaginary Friend. It’s perfectly common for children your age to have them. You’ll grow out of it though” Mother explained, smiling at me.

I knew I didn’t have an imaginary friend. I knew I’d seen the boy, so why didn’t she believe me?

It was until a few months later that I realised what the boy was and what I’d seen that afternoon on Oxford Street. I was watching TV and mother and father had gone out on a ‘date night’. I was being babysat by one of mother’s friends and they’d allowed me to watch TV. There was a documentary on and although I wasn’t paying it much attention, when I heard this I sat up and listened; “Ghosts are known are spirits of deceased people. They usually take on the form of the living and may not know they are dead. They usually cannot be seen by living people, but people have been known to have reported sightings”. Was the boy I’d seen a ghost? Was that why mother hadn’t been able to see him? But why could I? What made me different? I couldn’t tell anyone could I? They’d just think me to be mad, and not listen or just laugh. I needed to keep it quiet and not say anything to anyone. From that day on I started to see a lot more ‘ghosts’ but I never mentioned it, I just tried to ignore them to the best of my abilities. I needed to be seen as a normal young girl, not a freak. 


Amy

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Review: You and Me, Always byJill Mansell


You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell
Published by Headline Review 2016
368 Pages

Thank you to Headline Review for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

On the morning of Lily's twenty-fifth birthday, it's time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.

Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum's life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions.

Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily's friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again...

Thoughts

I've only ever read one other Jill Mansell book, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it and was looking forward to getting stuck into another. So when the opportunity came to read her latest book, I jumped at the chance. As you all know by now I love a good romantic chick lit read, so this was going to be right up my street.

You and Me, Always is about twenty five year old Lily, who since the tragic death of her mother as a child has been brought up by her mother's best friend, Coral and her late husband Nick. Before her untimely death, Lily's mother wrote a series of letters for Lily to open on each of her birthdays, stopping at her twenty-fifth. Upon opening the very last letter, she finds out about her mother's first love Declan, and sets out to contact him. During the same time famous actor and screenwriter Eddie Tessler arrives in the village, fleeing fame and the paparazzi and soon strikes up a relationship with Lily, under the scrutiny of her childhood friend Dan. Before long secrets involving Lily and many of her friends start to emerge and things start to look as if they'll never be the same again.

The main thing that stood out for me within this book were the characters. Although Lily was the heroine and main protagonist, it felt like all the characters I met had a main part to play. There wasn't a single character that I disliked throughout, and I loved reading about their back stories and finding out about their secrets, that I soon became engrossed and felt like I was a citizen of Stanton Langley. Each character had their own quirks and I found myself rooting for all of them to find happiness, especially Patsy. 

Despite this, I do have one gripe and that was that the storyline was very predictable. I'd read books featuring a similar storyline before, so I didn't feel as if it was anything to make a fuss about. I knew what was going to happen before I'd even read half of the story. I like to be kept guessing and be surprised when reading, and this didn't really happen for me. So it was slightly disappointing. However, the likeable characters certainly made up for this.

You and Me, Always is a perfect book if you fancy something quick and easy to read, that doesn't leave you guessing or wanting to know more. I did enjoy it, and I look forward to reading more of Jill Mansell's work in the future.

Rating



Amy

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Saturday, 23 January 2016

February TBR

As we are approaching the last week of January, it's time for another 'to be read' post, this time for the lovely month of February. I'm not going to talk about the books I am planning to read, as you know I will be doing reviews on them. 



1. Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. Blount
2. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han


3. Girl Online On Tour by Zoe Sugg
4. Auggie & Me by R.J. Palacio

Reviews of all these books will be up during February.

Amy

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Friday, 22 January 2016

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Macmillan 2015
522 Pages

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.



Thoughts

I love Rainbow Rowell and consider her to be one of the greatest young adult authors today. I have read all of her books and I am in love with everything to do with her writing. Out of all of her books, the one I am most obsessed with is Fangirl - which I read just over a year ago. The one thing that kept me hooked to Fangirl was the element of the fictional world of Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-esque character). I loved reading Cath's fanfiction about his world and I often found myself wishing that Rainbow Rowell would bring out a book all about Simon and his adventures. So you can imagine my excitement when Carry On was released.

Carry On takes place during Simon Snow's last year at Watford School of Magicks; his girlfriend Agatha breaks up with him, his mentor - The Mage is avoiding him and his Nemesis and room-mate Baz is missing. Just another year in his life. I know some of you may be thinking that it's a bit odd to have the story start during his last year, however lots of things from his previous years at Watford are explained throughout the book. I was confused at first, but once things got explained to me, I was hooked.

This book is not your typical fantasy, and you will be surprised at the twists and turns throughout. Rainbow Rowell has brought a unique style to this genre that has never been seen before. People have compared it to Harry Potter, but I have to disagree and say that although it is about a school of magic, it is totally different in many ways. Instead of wanting to go to Hogwarts, I guarantee that you will be wanting to go to Watford by the time you finish the book, trust me. 

I loved the relationship that blossomed between Simon and Baz. It was interesting to see them go from enemies, to acquaintances, to friends, to something even more. Hearing their petty arguments and disagreements just had me bursting out laughing, the two characters were definitely something else and I don't think I've ever read about characters like them before. 

Carry On is probably one of the best books I have read in a long while. It kept me hooked with it's wild fantasylike plot, interesting and somewhat funny characters and unique concecpt. Rainbow Rowell has done it again, and right now I am wishing that she'll write more books about Simon Snow's world, as now I have had a taste of it, I want more.

Rating



Amy

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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Review: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan


The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan
Published by Sphere 2013
416 Pages

As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It's a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime - to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate - and herself - than she ever dreamed.

Thoughts

Jenny Colgan is one of my favourite authors at the moment, and I often refer to her as the 'Queen of Chick Lit'. I am slowly making my way through all of her books and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris is the latest one I have read. As a chocoholic I knew I was going to love this book, before even opening the first page and I was slightly worried that I was going to try and eat it, if the descriptions of food in her other books was anything to go by. 

At the start we meet Anna Trent, who after having a disastrous accident at the chocolate factory she worked at, contracting an infection in hospital and loosing two toes reconnects with her former French teacher, Claire, who is slowly dying of terminal cancer. After passing the time in hospital reteaching Anna French. Claire offers her the chance of a lifetime - the chance to work in Paris with master chocolatier and first love, Thierry Girard. Although slightly sceptical at first, Anna soon arrives in Paris. We then go on a journey through her time in Paris, from arriving at her apartment and meeting her eccentric flatmate Sami, to learning to craft chocolate from scratch, to falling in love and discovering things about herself that she never knew before. 

Anna's story is all well and good, but what really kept me hooked was Claire's story. The book is split into parts - Anna's present day life and Claire's past from when she was an au pair for her mothers penpal Madame Lagarde. I loved reading about how Claire met Thierry, and how for one summer she felt whole. It was so captivating and had me grinning like a Cheshire cat throughout (I really am a sucker for a good romance).

The thing I really loved about this book was the descriptions of both Paris and Chocolate. Jenny Colgan is known for her vivid, inspiring descriptions and it certainly came across in this instance. Her descriptions of Paris were breathtaking and although I have never been there myself, it felt like I was standing there in the middle of it, taking in all the sights and sounds. But, the thing that I loved the most was her mouthwatering descriptions of the food, especially chocolate. As I read, I was becoming hungrier and hungrier and like I said at the start, it was hard not to just eat the book. I swear I heard my stomach growl a few times. 

I would recommend this book to anyone, as it's a great, heart-warming, captivating read and can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. Also, if you are a chocolate lover then you will most definitely want to check it out, trust me!

Rating


Amy

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Friday, 15 January 2016

Fifty Bookish Questions Book Tag

I love doing quizzes and tags etc, and I found this one via mylittlebookblog and I just had to do it! Enjoy.

1. What was the last book you read?

Unforgettable by Charlie Maclean (see my latest review!)

2. Was it a good one?

If I'm honest, I didn't enjoy it, but some people will.

3. What made it good?

I suppose it had a great character in the character Richard.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?

Not really sure. If you like romance novels you should really give it a read I guess

5. How often do you read?

I make time to read everyday. I usually read in the evenings before I go to bed.

6. Do you like to read?

I wouldn't have this blog if I didn't

7. What was the last bad book you read?

It was actually Unforgettable. 

8. What made you dislike it? 

It was lacking character development and it just didn't really hold my interest.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?

I'd love to be a writer. I have actually written 50,000 words of a novel which I'm currently working on.
10. Has any book every influenced you greatly?

Yes, but I won't list them all here.
11. Do you read fan fiction?

I have done, but not for a while.
12. Do you write fan fiction?

I did when I was younger, but I stopped it a while back.
13. What’s your favorite book?

At the moment its a toss up between The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Everyday by David Levithan
14. What’s your least favorite book?

I may get some stick for this but I'm going to have to say The Book Thief. I tried to read it, but I just couldn't get through it all.
15. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?

I like both - I love the feeling of a physical book, but Kindles are so much better for travelling.
16. When did you learn to read?

I guess I was around 4 or 5ish?
17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?

Of Mice and Men. I just loved it!
18. What is your favorite book series?

Definitely Harry Potter. It was the first series I read all the way through, so it has a special place in my heart.
19. Who is your favorite author?

I don't just have one, I have a few so I won't be listing.
20. What is your favorite genre?

I love YA, Fantasy, Chick Lit and Dystopian.
21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?

This is a hard one! But I'm going to have to say Hazel Grace from TFIOS. I just love her bravery and her love for Gus is so inspiring.
22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

Yes, all the time.
23.Which book do you wish had a sequel?

The Fault in Our Stars! I want to know what happened to Hazel Grace.
24. Which book do you wish DIDN'T have a sequel?

To be honest, there's none that I can think of right now.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends how busy I get, but I can usually read a book within a few days.

26. Do you like it when books become movies?

I do, but only if the movie lives up to the expectations of the book. There have been a few book to movie adaptations that just haven't done that.

27. Which book was ruined by it's movie adaptation?

Beautiful Creatures! It was just awful, with bad acting and the plot was completly different to the book. I'm so glad they didn't make anymore.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?

The Fault in Our Stars, it stuck to the plot of the book and it was perfectly filmed. I also think The Hunger Games series did the book a lot of justice.
29. Do you read newspapers?
Once in a while, I tend to get my news online.
30. Do you read magazines?
Once in a while
31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?
I'm quite indifferent, I'll read both.
32. Do you read while in bed?
I do! Every night!
33. Do you read while on the toilet?
Nope I actually don't.
34. Do you read while in the car?
Nope. It tends to make me feel sick.
35. Do you read while in the bath?
Nope, I always worry that I'll ruin the book I'm reading.
36. Are you a fast reader?
Fast-ish yeah.
37. Are you a slow reader?
Nope
38. Where is your favorite place to read?
I love reading in bed, but I also love reading whilst travelling on trains. For some reason it relaxes me and I can just zone out.
39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?
Not really. When reading I just tend to zone out and just focus on the book. 
40. Do you need a room to be silent while you read?
Yes, yes I really do.
41. Who gave you your love for reading?
I think it was my mum. She's always been a big reader, so it was only natural of me to follow her example.

42. What book is next on your list to read?
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop on Paris - Jenny Colgan
43. When did you start to read chapter books?
I think I must've been around 7 or 8.
44. Who is your favorite children’s book author?
Jacqueline Wilson
45. Which author would you most want to interview?
Most certainly JK Rowling. I would consider it an honour.
46. Which author do you think you’d be friends with?
John Green!
47.What book have you reread the most?
The Harry Potter series.
48. Which books do you consider “classics”?
I'm guessing it's books such as Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice etc.
49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
I think modern day books should be taught in schools. It's all good children learning about classics, but it's not the books that are really going to get them reading. I also find that they would relate more to modern day novels.
50. Which books should be banned from all schools?
I don't think books should be banned from schools, unless they are offensive to a degree where children shouldn't be reading them. 

Amy
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Review: Unforgettable by Charlie Maclean


Unforgettable by Charlie Maclean
Published by Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA) 2016
320 Pages

Thank you to IPBA for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A chance encounter throws together Alex, a restless dreamer and unhappy lawyer searching for love, and Julia, a headstrong actress determined to succeed.

Unforgettable splits and alternates between Alex and Julia's breathlessly- real love affair, across London and beyond, and Alex's downbeat life in Camden without her,

In both lives, Alex's troubled past threatens true love and a happy life. Can he overcome his greatest fears and win Julia's heart? Or will he loose her forever?

One moment. Two lives. One decision. 

Thoughts

I won't hide the fact that I am a hopeless romantic at heart, I love anything to do with love and romance and I am a big lover of romance novels and Chick Lit. So it's not surprise that I jumped at the chance to read this novel - Unforgettable. The title just drew me in along with the gorgeous cover art and just from that I had a feeling that this novel was perfect for me. However, I was certainly wrong.

Unforgettable follows the love affair of Alex, an unhappy soon to be made redundant lawyer, and Julia, a determined actress who longs to succeed, after a chance meeting at a London bus stop. We, as the reader witness the highs and lows of this fast moving, intense relationship. However, there is a catch; the book is split into two parts - Alex's life with Julia and Alex's life if he'd never pursued her. There was no indication to this at the start, and I found myself becoming rather confused, until around the middle of the story when it finally caught on to me. I could see myself not being the only person to become quite baffled at this whilst reading.

Usually, when reading a romance I immediately get pulled into the love story between the two protagonists. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Unforgettable. I found the romance to be pretty two dimensional and I felt like things were rushed to a certain degree - for example when Alex moved into Julia's after being made homeless after only being with her for a few weeks. I also found both Alex and Julia's characters to be slightly dull. I did feel sorry for Alex to a certain degree - he'd been made redundant and he blamed himself for his mother's death, but I felt like (certainly in the without Julia parts) he was using that to get out of doing things. I found that with Julia we never really found much out about her, and if we had have done I probably would have found her to be a pretty interesting character overall. The only character that really stood out to me was Richard, Alex's best friend. He had me laughing in every single scene he was in and I loved reading about him trying to win over Ciara, the barmaid in his local. I would love for a book to be written just about him if I'm honest.

Overall, Unforgettable was a rather disappointing read. The concept and the characters could have been better developed and maybe if that had happened it would've held my interest.  If you love romance novels, you may like this, but for me it just didn't have that wow factor I am looking for in the romantic genre.

Rating




Amy

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