Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Things I Find Online #1

Hey blog readers!

I know i've hashtagged this, which kind of gives the impression that there's more to come but with Loaded Shelves, blog posts are always a surprise! You wait a year and then a bunch come all at once...*cough*

Maybe this will become a thing, depending on how often I actually find stuff online that I think should be shared. All book related, of course.

One of my last posts went into great detail about my new little book system and how i've taken the decision out of my hands regarding what book I should read next.
I had some positive feedback and so tonight whilst I was browsing the interwebs (okay i'll admit it, the sound the wind is making outside is freaking me out too much to sleep), I found a little something that could be useful!

So if like me, the idea of choosing your next book seems impossible because there's just too much to choose from, the following website might come in handy. Granted if there's 100 books to choose from it might take more time than your usual methods but i've heard there are sane people out there who generally only have a handful of TBRs to pick from.

This website allows you to write a short list of the things you need to choose from, click a button and hey presto! It picks one for you. I think i'll definitely be using this in future to make some quick decisions! Of course you can also use it for things like deciding what to eat, what to watch, even what to wear if you were so inclined. I hope someone out there finds it useful anyway :)

Random Thing Picker - I swear that's the actual name. Perfect!

Caragh Reviews // Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella)

Published - 25th November 2014
Publisher - Atria/Keywords Press
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has - I can't believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! - and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes...Penny has a secret. Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family - and the panic attacks she's suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog. But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship - forever.

I knew going into this book that I wasn't going to like it, so perhaps it isn't really fair of me to review it. But since i'm trying to get back into the swing of things, i'll give it my best shot anyway.

As much as I love the YA genre, i'm really not a fan of this type of thing. I've been trying to step outside my genres in the hope that it will keep me motivated to read but 'real life' fiction has never been my go-to genre. I had heard positive reviews though and of course i'd heard of Zoella on YouTube and well, really it was just cheap on the day I happened to get my new Kindle Fire.  

Whilst I appreciate the undertones that run through the book, the overall thing just left me feeling flat. As soon as I finished the last page i'd already moved on to something else and never really had any intentions of bringing it up again. So what undertones am I talking about?

Internet safety. A book coming from a hugely influential YouTuber was bound to cover the internet topic wasn't it? I appreciated the fact that it raised awareness of how on the internet, you can never truly be anonymous. As much as we think of 'paper trails' being a physical thing, they exist here on the internet too. I'm sure more than one of you has discovered who *I* am just because I write this blog and i've never particularly divulged any personal information. It's just something you have to be aware of whenever you post anything online.

In addition to that though, I liked the fact that the book suggested writing as a cathartic exercise. I most definitely find this to be true for me, and many many people out there. This blog in itself is one. A way to share my thoughts and feelings (albeit about books) without too much being crammed into my head. I think there will be more than a few readers who were inspired to start their own blogs thanks to Girl Online. And of course, Penny uses her blog as a way to connect to people, feel more confident and face her fears. All of these are great things and I hope that Zoe's readers take all these things into consideration when reading Girl Online.

The problem with this, for me of course, is that I already knew these things and they were so jumbled up in teen crushes and over the top story-lines sprinkled with a handful of 'oh really, what an excellent coincidence' every couple of pages, that it was actually hard to push through and see what was underneath the words.

As a first book though, and I undoubtedly believe that it was aimed at a MUCH younger audience base (I'm talking 12-14 year olds here), it wasn't half bad. For me however, I don't think i'll be first in line for the planned sequel. A straightforward simple read that just didn't really have anything in it for me.

Monday, 9 February 2015

How do you choose?

Hello blog readers!

So as I've repeatedly mentioned over the last year or so i've been...less than focused on this blog and reading in general. 2014 was the first year in a long time that I didn't meet my Goodreads Reading Challenge and I was uncharacteristically upset about it. I was angry and miserable. Ever since I was a little girl, reading has always been the one thing that i've found time for and I all but gave it up last year. Well, i'm not going to promise that i'll do any better this year but I can promise that i'm going to try.

Fortunately/Unfortunately (however you see it), my lack of reading absolutely did not stop me from buying books. So what happens when you spend a year buying books and not reading any? Uh... well let's just say my bookshelves are a little unruly right now.

When 2015 hit with my uncompleted challenge, I found myself with a new challenge. With a house full of books and a pile of bookish gifts for Christmas, I was inundated with options. What genre did I want? What kind of style? Any particular author? Should I read new or old? Can I do re-reads? The internal questions actually had me fraught with doubt that i'd ever be able to pick up again.
Luckily, the lovely Jenna Burtenshaw (Author of the fab Wintercraft series) came to rescue without even knowing it. Her Instagram showed me the delights of having very little choice at all!
Armed with many little pots that I'd gotten for Christmas (Boyfriend and I recently moved into our own house) and a stack of post-it notes from a long lost era, I realised what I had to do.

As you can see in the picture above, I used 3 different jars.
1. To read
2. Read
3. To buy

To me at least, my system is flawless.
Now whenever I find a book on my shelves that I had forgotten about and still need to read, it simply goes in the 'to read' pot to await its turn. When the time comes for a book, all of the decision is taken away! I just pick one out and voila. In theory, I should never be disappointed with whatever comes out, because they're all in there for a reason :)
Same goes for the 'to buy' pot. Every time i'm feeling the itch to go book shopping - I can just take out a slip from the pot and buy a book that I've actually been wanting!
And the 'read' pot? - Well even I need a little visual encouragement sometimes :)
The aim is to have more slips of paper in the 'read' pot than any other by the end of the year. Exciting! I thrive on goals and challenges and i'm really hoping I stick with this one. So far i've read 9 books this year, 4 ahead of my challenge, all thanks to the new brightly coloured system.

So what I really want to know is this - How do you choose?
I'm sure like me, there are way more books than time and choosing a book to read can feel really daunting. Especially after a great read.
Let me know how you decide what book to read next and how you limit your own book buying.

Caragh Reviews // Mind Games by Teri Terry

Published - (Expected) 5th March 2015
Publisher - Orchard Books
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - Luna is a no-hoper with a secret: in a world of illusion, she can see what is real. But can she see the truth before it is too late? Luna has always been able to exist in virtual and real worlds at the same time, a secret she is warned to keep. She hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can’t hide any longer. The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing...

I received a free kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A few years ago I read the ‘Slated’ series, which I believe was Teri’s first publication. It quickly became one of my favourite series’ and I was so happy when Hachette approved me for her new book, Mind Games! The first thing i'll say is that I really don't think the synopsis for this book does it any justice.

The premise of Mind Games is quite difficult to try and explain. Luna lives in a world where the Virtual World is everything. All activities, education and well...everything is done whilst being plugged in to a virtual world created from the mysterious ‘void’ that features throughout the book.
What I loved about the book was that there was no big explanation at the beginning of the book; telling you how the world came to be; why the world is the way it is. It’s just the life that Luna lives in and therefore she doesn’t feel the need to explain it as she doesn’t know anything else. The reader is thrown straight into the book and your imagination can unfold.

No matter how many years pass us by, technology will always seem foreign and strange to the average person. The whole idea of an invisible world connecting us all together just blows my mind and this book plays heavily on that. Like Slated, this book was full of adventure and excitement from start to finish.

It definitely raises questions about ethics and society which is pretty much all you can ask for from a book like this. With Terry's running theme on extreme tech throughout her books - I can only wonder what her personal opinion is! A must read!

**Apologies for the lameness of reviews - i'm just getting back on my feet with this whole reading thing! I can barely remember how to do this thing.**
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