Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Review // Brain Freeze by Tom Fletcher

Published: 22nd February 2018
Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: A little girl discovers that eating ice cream from her grandfather's old ice-cream truck gives her the power to travel through time, in this brilliant, funny and heartwarming story from bestselling author Tom Fletcher.

This gorgeously illustrated (by Shane Devries) book was written and released especially for World Book Day. I have so many wonderful memories of World Book Day from when I was a child and though I no longer get that special £1 book token to commemorate it, I do still always get one of the WBD books to hold on to that little tradition.

Since i'm still on my No Purchases in 2018 thing, Brain Freeze was actually a gift from my stepdad, perhaps a little forced but a gift nonetheless! I love Tom Fletcher's children's books and wasn't too happy about missing out this year - thankfully I didn't have to. Thanks Eif!

The main character is Izzy and I immediately loved her. She's bold, sassy and knows exactly what she wants in life - ice cream! Izzy's grandfather has the job that we can only dream of; an ice cream man. Brain Freeze isn't a light easy read despite its size and target audience. It tugs at your heart strings and the worries of children all around the world with an entertaining twist. Tom Fletcher is excellent at writing about tough situations that are tangible and relatable to children without being too severe or downtrodden and Brain Freeze is no exception.

Brain Freeze is a genuinely lovely story about a little girl and her love for her grandpa - and ice cream. it's an absolute steal for just £1 and is available in all local bookshops and supermarkets.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Letters Between Friends: Dear Holly

Dear Holly, (In response to: Dear Cazz #4)

Brrrr! You're right about the weather - WTH?! It's extremely rare that we get snow here as we're on the coast but there was inches and inches of it over the week. Probably only my 2nd time of seeing real snow in Wales! *I'll edit this post with photos when I finish work*. Sadly I didn't get any days off work though so I just spent a lot of time dreaming about being snuggled in my reading room with blankets and tea.

Omg Les Mis is touring?! I had no idea. I'm trying to avoid social media as much as possible and have deleted all but Insta & Twitter apps for now. Please keep me updated on ticket release and prices etc. I would absolutely LOVE to go and see it with you if possible. Maybe if they go on sale soonish I could convince someone to get me a ticket for my birthday - it's almost the big 30 for me eeeek.

I'm sorry you didn't have a great experience with the WotW DVD - Kerry Ellis is my Elphaba (Wicked) so i'd love to see it. I couldn't miss the chance to see Carrie in action again though.

Renegades sounds AMAZING! I'll add it to my list of things to read in 2019 (oh god, that sounds like a lifetime away.) I've been accepted for quite a few things on Netgalley and had a couple of things in the post from publishers so i'm happy to say my reading has been going uphill for the first time in a long time. It helps that there's a new Levithan & Cohn book out and is sitting waiting for me on my Kindle when I finish my current reads. Nothing gets me going like those two! :)

Alex injured his ankle at work on Saturday so we spent a couple of hours in A&E getting him checked out. It's just a sprain/tissue damage but he's been ordered to stay off it for as long as possible. It's great at keeping him out of my way but it does however mean that i've got all of the house related stuff to do by myself *sigh*. Hopefully it means we're in for a quick week at work though and can get some relaxing in at the weekend. We won't be able to go anywhere as the car can't drive itself so what a perfect way to catch up on some things. I'm also looking forward to celebrating Mother's Day on Sunday. Aren't our Mum's the best?!

I hope things quieten down for you and you manage to get some blogging time in soon and/or reading but don't feel pressured to do anything. JUST DO YOU!

Ending as always with my Goodreads Challenge update: I'm currently on 14/50 which is 5 more than last time.

Review // Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Published: 8th February 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: e-Book

Synopsis: Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful and beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact... dead. But what is she supposed to do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family - her parents and her twin brother start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity - to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time...

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunflowers in February is Phyllisa Shrimpton’s debut novel so I didn’t really know what to expect – which is exactly why I couldn’t wait to get started on it. I must admit, a little bit of the draw was how much I love things to match – reading a book with February in the title, *in* February? Yes please! I’m easily amused by small things....

Right from the off the book had me, truly and completely, in its grips. Lily is a flawed character and it’s not tried to be covered up. In fact, it’s her flaws that really make the book what it is – which is a beautiful book that reflects upon a person’s need to discover what it’s like to really live. Lily has to deal with discovering her own dead body and how her absence from the world affects those around her. Often, she has little regard for anyone else’s feelings bar her own but again, this is just one of her flaws that is both acknowledged and worked on throughout the book.

It’s important to point out too, that this isn’t just a book about Lily. It’s about her parents, her twin brother, her friends, and more importantly about the reader. I know that I at least found myself wondering about the differences I have made in people’s lives and whether the life that I lead on a daily basis is one that ultimately will bring me happiness. I don’t mean in a religious way either, just whether i’ll be able to look back and feel like *i’ve* lived the best life I could.

The discovery of Lily’s killer and the consequences of that are just one factor to keep you reading but it isn’t held as a turning point for the book itself, just a turning point for Lily as a character and what she has learned about herself and her life. Though it’s an emotional and sad book, it’s not all inner reflections and a big ol’ cry fest. Of course at the heart of it, that’s what you get, but on the surface it’s a really simple and easy book to read.  Let me a bit less positive for a moment though.

The whole feeling of the book changes at around 3rd of the way in. The body swapping, other dimensional aspect just felt absurdly strange considering the beautiful heartfelt writing that preceded it.  It got easier to take as the book went further on but at times it felt a little ridiculous and really took the book on a different path. It didn’t lessen the meaning of the book, but I think it will suffer slightly due to the ‘freaky Friday’ feelings that came from it.

Overall though it was a great read. I couldn’t put it down and it’s stayed with me after the fact of reading it which is quite rare these days! I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Shrimpton.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Review // The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan

Published: 7th June 2007
Publisher: Atom
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe.

This book (well, the whole series) ended up on my shelves when my fiance and I moved in together full time and just like most readers, I instantly recognised the name. Trudi Canavan is a staple fantasy author and I was a little embarrassed that I hadn't ever read any of her books. As you can imagine I'm even more embarrassed now that it's been another 3 years on top of that before I finally picked it up. Since I've dated Alex, he's always been given the honour of choosing my first book of the year, and so 2018 was no different; the fact that I finished several graphic novels before I finished this book is irrelevant.

I've struggled for a little while on what to say in this review. Partly because it's been so long since I've actually written anything that wasn't work related but partly because I have such strong, mixed emotions regarding this book in particular. I was excited to start reading it. I didn't have any pre-conceived ideas about it other than Alex loved it (which is a rarity as he generally only relates to male lead characters). I read quite a big chunk in the first sitting, and maybe that was part of the problem? I'm not sure. Basically, it was dull. 

The first half of the book was a constant repetition of the same situation. I thought there would be action, adventure, mystery and it was largely a game of hide and seek set in what promised to be an incredible setting. Sonea was a super interesting character and I feel like there's a backstory to her that is just screaming out to be told but it wasn't achieved in the first book; and it's important to remember that this is just the first book in a trilogy. Other than Sonea though, the characters just weren't memorable. I could barely remember who was who and in the end I wrote a little note in my phone for reminders as I kept forgetting everything. 

The idea of the 'thieves' was easily more interesting than the magician's themselves or the basic storyline but no real information was given. It was almost as though everyone who wasn't Sonea was brushed over. ***PLOT TWIST*** and this was exactly when all of those issues flew right out of my head and the book REALLY began. 

Once the large scale hide and seek game began, the book completely turned into something special. Characters became more defined, emotions became more apparent and the story was the intrigue and suspense i'd been hoping for. I'm still a little disappointed that it took too long to get started but with hindsight, maybe I should have been expecting that from a fantasy novel. I power read the last third of the book one morning before work because I simply couldn't wait another day to find out what on earth was going to happen to both Sonea and other characters in the book. There's a long way to go with this series but i'm hoping it doesn't take me too long to dive back in and pick up where I left on. I see great things for this series after a rocky start and perhaps Trudi Canavan will become more than just an author's name i've heard, and one I can boast about myself.

Letters Between Friends: Dear Holly

Dearest Holly,

It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve talked, I apologise for that. Life is hectic just like yours, not always in a good way but I’m trying not to dwell on that!

I’m still avidly following your Les Mis adventures on twitter and still avidly jealous. I look forward to the future and traipsing all of your favourite spots in London. As you know, i’m from a tiny village on the coast of North Wales so even the idea of London is terrifying to me – I mean, we don’t even have a pub, a post office, a shop....anything! The nearest shop is a 20 minute walk. Honestly, i’m not complaining but the cosmopolitan life of London would be slightly overwhelming.

I’ve heard great things about Dear Evan Hansen but sadly I haven’t listened to it yet, nor have I heard Hamilton – sooo behind the times!! However I do have some theatre-esque news: I’m going to see our darling Carrie Hope Fletcher reprise her role as Beth in War of the Worlds in December and I am SO EXCITED. Plus, Jason about a childhood crush lol.

I’m pretty happy with my reading to be honest. Obviously there’s always room for improvement but I’m reading daily even if it’s only a handful of pages. It’s really quiet at work right now (other than the daily drama!) so I’ve always got a book in my bag to fill any spare time I might have.
I think we might be down your way this coming weekend for a quick visit to the in laws but we’re not sure yet – finances dependent as always. I’ve been lacking a lot in my blog again in February so I have a lot of plans in place for this weekend to get things up to date again. Scheduling is my greatest friend when it comes to blogging.

 In my last letter I said I wanted to read The Magician’s Guild, a MV novel and A Mad Zombie Party and I’m so happy that I’ve actually managed to do it. As for new things, I still haven’t purchased any new books but I did get sent my first book mail in over a year: Sunflowers in February and I’m LOVING it. Plus, as of this morning, my pre 2018 pre-order of Rachel Caine’s ‘Honor Among Thieves’ arrived and my god it’s gorgeous! So excited to get stuck into that this weekend.

As always i’ll end this with a challenge update (speaking of, how is yours going?). As of writing this I’ve completed 9/50 which is 4 more than the last time I wrote – impressive!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Shelf by Shelf #2

Welcome to week 2 of browsing through my shelves! This week brings you the shelf that brings me the most sadness. Anyone who has been reading this blog for the last few years has seen me coo over Rachel Caine. A lot. Frequently! So I hope you can appreciate how difficult it is to share this shelfie.

Firstly, some of these have actually been read. However, since reading them new books have been published and i've wanted to re-read and refresh myself on them before continuing the series. There's really no excuse though. I have been severely lacking in my reading habits. So what do we have?

Thin Air
Working Stiff
Two Weeks Notice
Devil's Bargain
Devil's Due
Ink and Bone
Paper and Fire
Ash and Quill
Stillhouse Lake
Killman Creek
Prince of Shadows
Kids of Appetite
Spy of Venice
The Princess Bride
Billy & Me 

To give you a little insight as to how long some of these may have been sitting on my shelf for; The Princess Bride was the first birthday present my fiance ever bought for me - 4 years ago. Knowing how much I devour Rachel Caine's books, on average I worked out it'd only take me 2-3 weeks to read all of her books on this shelf. So I really need to get stuck in soon!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Shelf by Shelf #1

Welcome to the first shelf in the series. It's a little misleading actually, since this first one isn't actually a shelf and is more of a 'stack of books without a home yet' ;) We all have them, right?! So in the process of shuffling books around and trying to fit them onto the main bookcases, I pulled these ones aside as they're ones i'd love to get around to over the next few months. I know it's not really realistic for me, but it's better to reach for the stars than the kerb.

So what do we have here?
The Wizard of Earthsea
How to be Bad
Carve The Mark
There's Someone Inside Your House
Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index
Girl of Ink and Stars
The Story of English
Dangerous Creatures
A Monster Calls
Ready Player One
The Creakers
Lucifer Vol 1
When We Collided

I fully appreciate that for some people (myself included) this might be an entire years worth of reading. Well honestly, i'm embarassed by it too. As you'll see over the coming weeks, I have hundreds of books that have gone unread. I'm not proud of it, and i'm certainly not proud of the waste of money it'd be if I never read them. However! That's why I brought in my No Purchases 2018 Goal and why i'm doing this Shelf by Shelf mini series. To highlight the issue more solidly for myself. Hopefully as the weeks go on and i'll get more and more off these shelves too :)

Have you read any of these? Do you recommend any to be pushed higher up in my TBR? Let me know what you've had on your shelves forever!

Until next Thursday....!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About

This week's topic is 'Books I Really Liked but Can't Remember Much About'. Admittedly, I had to scroll through Goodreads before even contemplating what kind of thing might be on this list and honestly, it kinda turned into a different list: Series' I Loved But Can't Remember Enough To Finish Them and Need To Re-read Them All Again.

1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini - I devoured these books when I was younger and as with anyone else who read them back then, I endured years and years of waiting. By the time the next book in the series was released, it had been several years of waiting and the majority of the plot had vanished into the depths of my mind. To this day I haven't finished them because i'm concerned that the re-reading of them will take away some of the magic. Plus they're huge books! It's a committment.

2. Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw - I was introduced to Wintercraft by my cousin. I read the first 2 books and LOVED them ferociously. Then I was off in uni and adult life was kicking in. I literally can't remember a thing about them anymore and didn't get to finish the series!

3. Demon Trappers by Jana Oliver - Oh this series <3 I loved every second of reading them. I still remember that feeling of the latest book turning up on the doorstep. I just wish I could remember the ins and outs of them! I've got a basic idea of the overall story but it makes me sad that I can't remember much of them now.

4. Shades of London by Maureen Johnson - I read the first 2 books of this series in pretty quick succession after discovering her on YouTube shortly before the first one was released. I can't remember anything about them now but I do know that I didn't get round to reading the last one yet and so a whole re-read is in order.

5. Red Letter Days by Rachel Caine - I was sent a copy of the first book by Harlequin 4/5 years ago and read it in 1 sitting. Since then I acquired both books in the series and forever had the intention to read the second and add to my Rachel Caine collection. Sadly I never did and now I remember next to nothing about the entire thing.

6. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld - I got these books around the same time as I was reading Hunger Games for the first time. It took me AGES to get through the first 3 books even though I was enjoying them because I was away at university. However, by the time things settled down, i'd forgotten almost everything other than the basics and so, surprise surprise, I didn't finish the series. I'm still determined to though.

7. Inside Out by Maria V Snyder - This book has been in my head for SO long and the worst of it is that I literally can't remember what it was about bar crawling around in some pipes etc. I remember being really excited reading it as it felt so different - so I have no idea how I didn't get around to reading the next book.

8. Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton - 1 word - Sebastian. I can't really elaborate because other than the name Sebastian I can't remember a damn thing about it. These books need to move up my TBR immediately.

9. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - These are a little awks because I remember the films so clearly. I can't remember the books at all though, which again is probably why I didn't get around to finishing the whole series. I'm excited for the next movie coming out though!

10. Talon by Julie Kagawa - UGH I stinking loved the first 2 books in this series. I even have the next one! But by the time I even remembered it was a thing, they'd run out of my head again. A re-read is definitely in order for these.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Letters Between Friends: Dear Holly

Dearest Holly,
It feels good to be writing to you again! This is only week 3 and I already find myself thinking throughout the week 'I must remember to share this with Holly!'.

Like you, i've had a stressful week. Monday was officially 'Blue Monday' which is nationally recognised as being the most depressing day of the week - and I really did struggle. Getting back into the swing of things post the festive fun has been difficult and work has been, well, pretty dreadful to be honest. However i'm happy to report that so far I am coping well and all of the things i'm doing to protect my mental health are going well. As you mentioned, I've recently started a BuJo for the first time. In the interest of being honest here, i've missed a LOT of days but that's only helping me to realise that I have little structure to my days right now and my habit tracker is very miserable! I'm only easing in to it though and so maybe i'll share a few snaps throughout February so you can see exactly what i've been tracking. It'd be great to see yours too!

Jumanji was GREAT! I enjoyed it much more than I anticipated and I think it'll definitely become a dvd purchase in the future. We also ended up at the cinema last weekend too to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi and OH MY DAYS it was brilliant! It's so wonderful watching new characters thrive in such an old and beloved setting. Star Wars will truly be timeless and I can't wait to experience my future children watch it too. Plus, BB8!

You always have such a wonderful time at Les Mis. I'm just hoping that after all these years, it stays on the stage a little longer so that after the wedding is all paid for and our purse strings are a bit more loose, I can go with you and see the magic. Maybe we could find a stagey show a bit closer to home later in the year.

This weekend has been very film heavy too. In 24 hours we managed to fit in 7 Disney films and a LOT of pizza & cake. You know you've found The One when he happily sits through HSM 1-3 with you without much of a grumble. I have another long week ahead of me at work this week. I have the kind of job that half kills me July-October but the rest of the year is completely dead. Finding ways to challenge my brain for 8 hours a day is probably the hardest part of working for my company. However, next weekend we blissfully have no plans and so i'm hoping to crank out a couple of books. I'm half way through The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan, 2 thirds of the way through a MV novel (re-read!) and about a quarter into the final White Rabbit Chronicles series. I'm determined to smash my TBR this year!

I'll end this here and every letter hereafter with a little update on my reading challenge - to keep me motivated! As of writing this, i've completed 5/50 books which puts me at 3 ahead. Score!

Can't wait to hear from you next week xx

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Shelf by Shelf

Shelf By Shelf

Let me start by saying this: I love shelf tours.
I could spend hours and hours watching people on YouTube do tours of their shelves, getting inspiration for organisation tips, book recommendations etc. I've been wanting to do a blog version for a long time now but there's always some excuse or other. Well NO MORE! I'm going to do a mini series showcasing each shelf but there is a note to add to this. I am well aware that the books are in no particular order. You might well find book 5 showing up before book 1. My shelves are ALWAYS a work in progress and it's been less than 24 hours since the books all even made it to the shelves. Bare with me!

I'll be posting these on Thursdays and i'd also love to know what else you'd like to see here! Give me some content ideas, guys :) So to introduce this mini series, i'd just like to share what they look like as a whole. See you nextThursday for a more indepth look!

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